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John Gray: No general theory of evolution


From the Guardian:

Ideas of social evolution pass over the exercise of power – if it is mentioned at all, it’s only as an inconsequential detail in a vast process of evolutionary change. But what is it that supposedly drives evolution in society? The observation that “things do not stay the same” is scarcely a theory. Darwinian natural selection identified a mechanism and – once genes had been discovered, unknown to Darwin, by a Moravian monk called Gregor Mendel – a unit of selection. Theorists of social evolution in the past have never succeeded in specifying either of these. Despite a great deal of waffle about mutational and combinatorial processes and the like, neither does Ridley. There is no general theory of evolution.

What Ridley does is what proponents of social evolution have always done: he fastens on some of the events of the past few decades, suitably bolstered by selective bits of history, and turns these fleeting episodes into unstoppable trends. More.

You’ve found your hula hoop again already. Right?

See also: Talk to the fossils: Let’s see what they say back

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There isn't a scientific theory of evolution... Virgil Cain

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