Suzan Mazur, author of Darwin Overthrown: Hello Mechanobiology, decided to attend a World Science Festival talk in New York by David Sloan Wilson, featuring his new book, This View of Life: Completing the Darwinian Revolution, but left after 35 minutes.
She asked him some awkward questions. So things didn’t go quite as he must have hoped:
Suzan Mazur: Excuse me, what do you mean by selection?
David Wilson: Selection? Natural selection.
Suzan Mazur: Natural selection has been debunked by the scientific community. David, you know that. You know that. Why are you lying to the public?
You know that. Look at Eugene Koonin. Look at Jerry Fodor. Look at Richard Lewontin.
Moderator: Let’s let him answer the question.
Suzan Mazur: He needs to seriously define what he means by natural selection.
Moderator: We’re not ready for the question yet.
Suzan Mazur: The whole thing [talk] doesn’t work if he doesn’t define it. More.Suzan Mazur, “Part 3 — World Science Festival Feeds Public Bogus Science: The DS Wilson Sermon” at Oscillations
Yes, in one phrase, Mazur, author of Darwin Overthrown: Hello Mechanobiology, captures the problem: “he doesn’t define it.” Much Darwinism today survives on the fumes of “evolution” in general.
She certainly thinks evolution happened; it’s a substantial part of her body of work, to judge from her books on the subject. But what are the drivers of what happened?
Everyone agrees that things change over time. The world is not now as it once was. But how do we explain that?
David Sloan Wilson is an exponent of a group or kin selection, an effort to mend the problems of fully Darwinian natural selection by providing a naturalistic explanation for altruism.
But there is a curious story there: Top Darwinian E. O. Wilson espoused and then abandoned group selection, in a remarkable turn of events:
But then [E. O.] Wilson dramatically abandoned kin selection in 2010 in a Nature paper, “The evolution of eusociality,” co-authored with mathematicians. He argued that strict Darwinism (natural selection) “provides an exact framework for interpreting empirical observations,” dispensing with the other theories he had promoted for decades. Over 140 leading biologists signed a letter to Nature, attacking the 2010 paper. Some called his new, strictly Darwin model “unscholarly,” “transparently wrong,” and “misguided.”
What? All this is said of a Darwin-only model?
New atheist evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne has also weighed in, saying that Wilson et al. are “wrong–dead wrong.” Curiously, he admitted, “The “textbook” explanation, based on a higher relatedness of workers to their sisters than to their own potential offspring, no longer seems feasible. … But we’ve known all this for years!”
If so, he and fellow evolutionary biologists have been very economical with their accounts of the failures.
How else to account for the — to most people, incomprehensible — uproar?
Evolutionary psychologist David Sloan Wilson, defending E. O. Wilson, scolded, “This degree of illiteracy about foundational issues is an embarrassment for the field of evolutionary biology.” Denyse O’Leary, “Could we all get together and evolve as a group?” at Evolution News and Science Today:
At the time (2012, but it was still brewing), neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga tried to mend matters by declaring everyone right, raising the question in the minds of many others, “But right about what?”
And that’s what made Mazur think she was wasting a “rare day in June.”
Hey, sometimes, in some place, somewhere, in imaginary time, it gets even better… (News’s all-time fave YouTube clip)
See also: Suzan Mazur: World Science Festival is purveying an out-of-date Darwinism She notes: “The problem with Wilson’s perspective is that Darwin’s theory of natural selection has been discredited. Biology is no longer the descriptive science it once was.” (Part I)
Suzan Mazur: World Science Foundation’s Evening on Mars “marred,” so to speak, by a second-rate panel She also reveals that a two-page survey was handed out, asking a number of none-o’-yer-business questions on behalf of “Audience Research & Analysis, an organization that helps government agencies and cultural agencies to “move forward with decision research.” (Part II)