Journalist Susan Mazur continues her series of remarkable articles about dissenters from neo-Darwinism with a compelling interview of Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini, professor of cognitive science at the University of Arizona, and co-author (with Jerry Fodor) of the forthcoming book What Darwin Got Wrong.
In the interview, Piattelli-Palmarini points out that many academic biologists muffle their unhappiness with the received neo-Darwinian theory, either out of fear of being ostracized, or from worries about being exploited by intelligent design advocates. Jerry Fodor’s quips about having to join the federal Witness Protection Program, because of his public dissent from neo-Darwinian theory, lend some humor to this reality. If Expelled could be expanded to a multi-part television series, interviews with non-Darwinian evolutionary theorists such as Piattelli-Palmarini — who makes his loathing of ID explicit (see the interview) — would add richness to the complex landscape of opinion, circa 2008.
Piattelli-Palmarini argues that the role of natural selection is limited by the logic of complex developing systems, such as seen in the animal phyla. While selection clearly operates, he says, its power is confined to minor adjustments:
Of course, there is natural selection all around us (just think of the flu virus, mutating and adapting every year, to our detriment) and inside us (just think of our antibodies and our synapses and the pancreas cells and the epithelial cells). The point is, however, that organisms can be modified and refined by natural selection, but that is NOT the way new species and new classes and new phyla originated.
It’s a stimulating interview; check it out.