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George C Williams (1926-2010) Obituary link added.

George C Williams (1926-2010) emeritus professor of biology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, died on September 8th, aged 84. He was one of the great evolutionary thinkers of my lifetime. His most famous book, Adaptation and Natural Selection (1966) had a seminal influence on generations of research biologists, destroying once and for all the myth of 'group selection', and putting the study of adaptation on a sound, critical footing. Along with W D Hamilton, John Maynard Smith and Robert Trivers, George Williams was one of the four dominant influences on The Selfish Gene. He made major contributions to the evolutionary theory of sex (Sex and Evolution, 1975), and of ageing. His 1992 book, Natural Selection: Domains, Levels and Challenges was in some respects an updating of his 1966 classic. In it, he introduced the idea of Clade Selection. Later in life, he teamed up with Randolph Nesse to found the important science of Darwinian Medicine. Their 1994 book, called Why we get Sick in America and Evolution and Healing in Britain (both terrible titles, as Nesse and Williams agreed) moved me to write on the dust jacket, "Buy two copies and give one to your doctor." Universally respected, George was a tall, shy, diffident scholar, rather like W D Hamilton in character, his legendary wisdom seeming somehow enhanced by a physical resemblance to Abraham Lincoln. A wonderful scientist and a great gentleman, sadly missed.

Note Added: Michael Ruse has written a lovely obituary here.

Richard Dawkins



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Hannah Krakauer - New Scientist Comments

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- - The Royal Society Comments

Research suggesting that grey parrots can reason about cause and effect from audio cues alone- a skill that monkeys and dogs lack- is presented in Proceedings of the Royal Society B today.

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Why, after millions of years of evolution, do organisms build structures that seemingly serve no purpose?

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Charles Choi - CBS News Comments

Four decades ago, in 1972, the Koobi Fora Research Project discovered the enigmatic fossilized skull known as KNM-ER 1470 which ignited a now long-standing debate about how many different species of early Homos existed.

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Adam Cole - NPR Comments

One day in May of 2011, Shaun Winterton was looking at pictures of bugs on the Internet when something unusual caught his eye. It was a close shot of a green lacewing — an insect he knew well — but on its wing was an unfamiliar network of black lines and a few flecks of blue.



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Richard Dawkins - Comments

Rats Manipulated to be Attracted to Cats

No Precedent? Then Set One!

Richard Dawkins - Comments

No Precedent? Then Set One?

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Richard Dawkins - for the Press and... Comments

I was invited several months ago to speak at the Faclan Book Festival in Stornoway and I was delighted to accept, as I have a great affection for the Highlands and Islands but have never visited Lewis and have heard such good things about its beauty and about the friendliness of the islanders.

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Richard Dawkins - Comments

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Richard Dawkins - - Comments

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Richard Dawkins - Prospect 188 Comments

Richard Dawkins's review of The Social Conquest of Earth, by Edward O Wilson (WW Norton, £18.99, May) - (with Polish translation)



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