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Andrew Ferguson reviews Wolfe’s Kingdom of Speech at Commentary

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Kingdom of Speech.jpgThe Kingdom of Speech Here:

When The Kingdom of Speech, Tom Wolfe’s new book-length essay, was published in late summer, it received generally respectful reviews in the popular press, fitting for the Grand Old Man of Letters that Wolfe, through no fault of his own, has become.

This time around the notable exception was found in a ferociously negative review in the Washington Post. The reviewer was Jerry Coyne, a biologist from the University of Chicago and a volunteer border cop who patrols the perimeter where science and popular culture meet, making sure that scientists are accorded the proper deference. The Kingdom of Speech is deeply transgressive in this way. Wolfe makes sport of scientific pretensions generally and neo-Darwinian pretensions specifically, and Coyne, a neo-Darwinist to the soles of his Birkenstocks, isn’t going to let a mere journalist, or even a Grand Old Man of Letters, get away with it. And so: … More.

Tom Wolfe has committed the unforgivable sin, in The Kingdom of Speech, of diminishing Darwin. The cocktail set hasn’t quite sobered up enough yet to discover that he has, but vengeance is doubtless coming.

It tells us everything about the current state of affairs in evolutionary biology that diminishing Darwin is an unforgivable sin.

Any person whose accomplishments are correctly estimated can be diminished without a huge uproar. It’s the fakes that can’t.

For example. it’s possible to say that some of Shakespeare’s plays, doubtless written to pay the taxes and tolls, are forgettable. But it would be cruel to say that about Eliza Wanhope’s strenuous but childish effort for her creative writing class.

So, ultimate, in the age of rethinking evolution, where in the spectrum is Darwin?

See also: New Scientist: A balanced take on Tom Wolfe’s Kingdom of Speech

Oh dear, someone isn’t happy with Tom Wolfe’s Kingdom of Speech. A new dark age? Just because Wolfe skewers Chomsky’s pretensions and those of the Darwinians? My, my, we are getting very fragile already.

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5 Replies to “Andrew Ferguson reviews Wolfe’s Kingdom of Speech at Commentary

  1. 1
    Silver Asiatic says:

    CBS
    Chides Tom Wolfe’s ‘Very Dangerous’ Attack on Evolution

    The newscaster seemed very frightened and upset, but then he calmed down and explained that we can still enjoy the book because it has a nice literary style.

  2. 2

    Just more evidence that Darwin’s stronghold on modern culture is ending. It was always just a speculative idea anyway, never true empirical science. Diehard adherents will change its name and repackage its message, but it will still be nothing more than a speculative idea. An atheistic hope based on wishful thinking.

  3. 3
    bb says:

    Silver Asiatic,

    Thanks for the link. I may be reading too much into it, but I thought the interviewer’s face was priceless when Wolfe said he thinks evolution is a myth.

  4. 4
    Silver Asiatic says:

    bb

    In the shot where he’s waiting for Wolfe’s response you can see him literally “gulp!”

    I should have included the full report from CBS:
    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/au.....nism-myth/

    At around 3:43 the the news team gets very concerned. One guy makes sure to “correct” Wolfe’s thesis and the interviewer calms everybody down by saying that Wolfe is not writing about science, but it’s just “theater”.

  5. 5
    bb says:

    SA,

    The concern exhibited looked pretty awkward. Interpreting the faces: “Five more books!?!? Political correctness next!?!?”

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