In ‘Die, Selfish Gene, Die’, I argued that Richard Dawkins’s ‘selfish-gene’ model of evolution threatens to blind us to richer emerging views of genetics and evolution. The essay generated responses ranging from enthusiastic agreement to objections both civil and savage. I naturally drew pleasure from the excited agreement, which came from both laypeople and scientists. And I was truly heartened by the constructive criticism from scientists and others who took issue with the idea of retiring the selfish-gene meme. Their challenge expanded my thinking, helped me to improve the essay in a revised form, and, best of all, spurred a wide-ranging, open-minded discussion full of mutual inquiry, reconsideration, and great humour.
Alas, a more vitriolic line of objection also arose. I first ran into it in the form of a tweet from the Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker, describing me as ‘another confused journalist who hates genetic evolution but doesn’t understand it’. I remain puzzled that Pinker concluded I hate genetic evolution, whose wonders and riddles I have written about for several years.
It soon became apparent that some people are willing to defend the selfish gene idea as if guarding a holy kingdom. The rhetoric was astounding. More.
Hey, Dobbs, it’s not quantum theory: If you don’t understand Darwinism, your brain did not evolve so as to understand it.
And if you doubt, you don’t understand.
One real outcome of discussion is to sort out the true followers of Darwin from the people who just thought it was a good idea. The latter are starting to see the problems, the former not so much.
“Selfish gene” now coming under fire again
Is “macroevolution” even a meaningful term? It’s time to ask.)
A world-famous chemist tells the truth: there’s no scientist alive today who understands macroevolution (by the way, this post did pass 150,000 hits last night)
Follow UD News at Twitter!