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Others are talking about: Atheist philosopher Jerry Fodor’s What Darwin Got Wrong

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Evolution News and Views

Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor at Evolution News & Views yesterday:

Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini’s book What Darwin Got Wrong was published in 2010. Having read it now, perhaps belatedly, I can report that it is a masterpiece. Fodor is a leading philosopher, and Piatelli-Palmarini is a leading cognitive scientist. Their analysis of natural selection is meticulous and devastating. They are both atheists — they do not come to this debate with theistic presumptions. They demonstrate that natural selection is, in their word, empty. It’s a meaningless concept that should be abandoned.

I’ll try here to give a précis of their argument. I heartedly recommend buying their book. It’s available on Kindle, and although it’s not an easy read, it is written with as much clarity and brevity as the subject permits. The last chapter is a very nice summary of the argument. What follows is a summary of the summary. More.

We liked it too, especially the no-nonsense confrontations with the people who are not “that kind of Darwinist” any more, but really are:

We are pleased to hear of these realignments, but we doubt that they are typical of biology at large (consider, for example, ongoing research on mathematical models of optimal natural selection). They are certainly not typical of informed opinion in fields that either of us has worked in including the philosophy of mind, natural language semantics, the theory of syntax, judgement and decision-making, pragmatics and psycholinguistics. In all of these, neo-Darwinism is taken as axiomatic; it goes literally unquestioned …

A view that looks to contradict it, either directly or by implication, is ipso facto rejected, however plausible it may otherwise seem. Entire departments, journals and research centres now work on this principle.

Indeed. Don’t forget how much easier it all is. Instead of finding out what happened, one need only come up with an explanation consistent with Darwinism, however otherwise unsupported or implausible.

Ghost ranges of fossils come readily to mind here, as does just about everything we’ve heard recently from “evolutionary psychology.”

Hat tip: Phillip Cunningham

3 Replies to “Others are talking about: Atheist philosopher Jerry Fodor’s What Darwin Got Wrong

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    Here is a particularly interesting quote from Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini

    “Although living things occupy a three-dimensional space, their internal physiology and anatomy operate as if they were four-dimensional. Quarter-power scaling laws are perhaps as universal and as uniquely biological as the biochemical pathways of metabolism, the structure and function of the genetic code and the process of natural selection.,,, The conclusion here is inescapable, that the driving force for these invariant scaling laws cannot have been natural selection.”
    Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini, What Darwin Got Wrong (London: Profile Books, 2010), p. 78-79

    I dug around a little to find out what they were talking about and found:

    The predominance of quarter-power (4-D) scaling in biology
    Excerpt: Many fundamental characteristics of organisms scale
    with body size as power laws of the form:

    Y = Yo M^b,

    where Y is some characteristic such as metabolic rate, stride length or life span, Yo is a normalization constant, M is body mass and b is the allometric scaling exponent.
    A longstanding puzzle in biology is why the exponent b is usually some simple multiple of 1/4 (4-Dimensional scaling) rather than a multiple of 1/3, as would be expected from Euclidean (3-Dimensional) scaling.

    ,,, and 4-D power scaling is indeed pervasive throughout life;

    4-Dimensional Quarter Power Scaling In Biology – video

    Higher dimensional beings in a 3-Dimensional world??? Or perhaps more fittingly stated as:

    Spirits in the Material World – The Police

  2. 2
    Barb says:

    “Not that kind of Darwinist”? Huh? Now there’s a “no true Darwinist” logical fallacy?

  3. 3
    Mung says:

    lol Barb.


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