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Customer Review

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very little to recommend it, 16 Oct. 2012
This review is from: What Darwin Got Wrong (Hardcover)
This is a relatively short book with an additional "Afterward and reply to the critics". The authors repeatedly say that they think natural selection is wrong, and in the afterward state that they thought that this book represents "a real scientific advance".

The reasons they believe natural selection is wrong are difficult to extract. They mostly talk in very abstract terms, and many of the examples they give are made-up, rather than from the scientific literature. Where they do quote scientific literature, it is mostly stuff from the 60's and 70's. Furthermore there isn't a single reference that I could find to any of Darwin's writings, in fact I expect the title of this book was chosen just to stir up controversy and increase sales.

In the afterward they summarise (not particularly clearly) what they were apparently trying to say. I will attempt to summarise their summary, to save you the effort of reading the book. Their objections to evolution by natural selection appear to be:

1) It is an illusion that creatures are adapted to their environment.
2) The theory of natural selection cannot say exactly what features of a creature are actually selected for, and which features are "coextensive" (in some way linked to features that are actually selected for).

From this they conclude that natural selection is "simply untenable".

Note that the authors would probably object to the summarizations above. Apparently an awful lot of very educated people misunderstood the book when it first came out: "Our arguments and our conclusion were both widely and wildly misrepresented". This was, apparently, due to a "Culture War" rather than any fault of the book, for which they were apparently anticipating a warm reception.

I read it in one sitting. It does not feel like time well spent. A better title for this book than "What Darwin got wrong" might have been something like "A series of philosophical essays including a comparison of the theory of natural selection (NS) with Skinner's theory of learning by operant conditioning (OT)" - more accurate, and more likely to get the book the number of sales it deserves. (Don't buy it!)
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