I have been asked to respond to an article by David Dobbs called ‘Die, selfish gene, die’. It’s a fluent piece of writing featuring some interesting biological observations, but it’s fatally marred: infected by an all-too-common journalistic tendency, the adversarial urge to (presumably) boost circulation and harvest clicks by pretending to be controversial. You have a topic X, which you laudably want to pass on to your readers. But it’s not enough that X is interesting in its own right; you have to adversarialise it: yell that X is revolutionary, new, paradigm-shifting, dramatically overthrowing some Y.
I had almost finished writing this reply when Jerry Coyne – my goto guru on population genetics since the death of John Maynard Smith – posted his own much more thorough retort to Dobbs. I thought about abandoning my own effort, but was reluctant to throw away my more personal response to Dobbs’ traducing of my earlier work. Even if you don’t have time to read my article, however, do please read Jerry’s: …
Goodness! What will happen if we don’t read Jerry’s?
One wonder if Dawkins minded Dobbs referring to him in the Aeon piece as a “buffoon.” Naw, couldn’t be. He probably just wants to go head to head with the growing field of epigenetics.
Jerry Coyne: Reason people question neo-Darwinism is that it “is largely consolidated, and is correct”
Ho hum, the new crop of dissenters from Darwinism shall pass too…