This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

The Descent of Edward Wilson (with Polish translation)

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


alt text
JBS Haldane quipped that any Creator must have had “an inordinate fondness for beetles.” His insights prefigured modern genetic theory

When he received the manuscript of The Origin of Species, John Murray, the publisher, sent it to a referee who suggested that Darwin should jettison all that evolution stuff and concentrate on pigeons. It’s funny in the same way as the spoof review of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, which praised its interesting “passages on pheasant raising, the apprehending of poachers, ways of controlling vermin, and other chores and duties of the professional gamekeeper” but added:

“Unfortunately one is obliged to wade through many pages of extraneous material in order to discover and savour these sidelights on the management of a Midland shooting estate, and in this reviewer’s opinion this book can not take the place of JR Miller’s Practical Gamekeeping.”

I am not being funny when I say of Edward Wilson’s latest book that there are interesting and informative chapters on human evolution, and on the ways of social insects (which he knows better than any man alive), and it was a good idea to write a book comparing these two pinnacles of social evolution, but unfortunately one is obliged to wade through many pages of erroneous and downright perverse misunderstandings of evolutionary theory. In particular, Wilson now rejects “kin selection” (I shall explain this below) and replaces it with a revival of “group selection”—the poorly defined and incoherent view that evolution is driven by the differential survival of whole groups of organisms.

Nobody doubts that some groups survive better than others. What is controversial is the idea that differential group survival drives evolution, as differential individual survival does. The American grey squirrel is driving our native red squirrel to extinction, no doubt because it happens to have certain advantages. That’s differential group survival. But you’d never say of any part of a squirrel that it evolved to promote the welfare of the grey squirrel over the red. Wilson wouldn’t say anything so silly about squirrels. He doesn’t realise that what he does say, if you examine it carefully, is as implausible and as unsupported by evidence.

Read on

Staczanie się Edwarda Wilsona Richard

Autor tekstu: Richard Dawkins
Tłumaczenie: Małgorzata Koraszewska

Kiedy wydawca John Murray otrzymał manuskrypt O powstawaniu gatunków, wysłał go do recenzenta, który zaproponował, by Darwin wyrzucił cały ten materiał o ewolucji, a skupił się na gołębiach. Jest to zabawne w ten sam sposób, jak parodia recenzji Kochanka Lady Chatterley, która wychwala książkę za jej „interesujące fragmenty o zatrzymywaniu kłusowników, sposobach kontrolowania szkodników i innych zadaniach i obowiązkach leśniczego", ale dodaje:
"Niestety, trzeba przebrnąć przez wiele stron nieistotnego materiału, żeby odkryć i smakować te przebłyski o zarządzaniu posiadłością myśliwską w Midland, i zdaniem tego recenzenta ta książka nie może zająć miejsca JR Millera Practical Gamekeeping."

Nie dowcipkuję, kiedy mówię o najnowszej książce Edwarda Wilsona, że są tam interesujące i pouczające rozdziały o ewolucji człowieka i o zachowaniach owadów społecznych (o których wie więcej niż ktokolwiek wśród żywych), i że było dobrym pomysłem napisanie książki porównującej te dwa szczyty ewolucji społecznej, ale niestety trzeba przebrnąć przez wiele stron błędnego i wręcz perwersyjnego niezrozumienia teorii ewolucji. W szczególności Wilson odrzuca teraz „dobór krewniaczy" (wyjaśnię to poniżej) i zastępuje go przywróceniem „doboru grupowego" — marnie zdefiniowanego i niespójnego poglądu, że ewolucja napędzana jest przez zróżnicowaną przeżywalność całych grup organizmów.
Czytaj dalej

TAGGED: BIOLOGY, BOOKS, EVOLUTION, RICHARD DAWKINS, SCIENCE


RELATED CONTENT

Planet of the apes

Stephen Cave - Financial Times Comments

What we really know about our evolutionary past – and what we don’t

Magic at Every Age A review of Richard...

Stacy L. Memering,Viviana A.... Comments

Magic at Every Age
A review of Richard Dawkins, The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True

CCI: DAVE MCKEAN ON DAWKINS, CHRIST AND...

Andy Liegl - CBR (Comic Book... Comments

In front of a packed crowd during his panel titled "My Two Years with Dawkins, Christ and a Small Crab Called Eric" at Comic-Con International in San Diego, artist, writer and indie filmmaker Dave McKean recounted two recent life events on radically opposite ends of the philosophical spectrum: an all-ages book he illustrated with scientist and Atheism proponent Richard Dawkins called "The Magic of Reality," and a film he shot starring Michael Sheen in Port Talbot, Wales called "The Gospel of Us," a modern day interpretation of "The Passion" story chronicling Jesus Christ's final days of life on Earth.

Redeeming God in Canaan

Doctor Science - Obsidian Wings Comments

Last weekend I noticed two religion blogs, one Jewish and one evangelical (though not fundamentalist) Christian, discussing the same passages in the Bible: the ones commanding the Israelites to fight, slaughter, enslave, and dispossess the Canaanite inhabitants of the Land of Israel. To commit genocide, in fact.

The Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins

Oliver Kamm - The Times Comments

Review of The Magic of Reality

Dear believers: Blasphemy is good for...

John Gray - The Globe and Mail Comments

A review of The Future of Blasphemy Speaking of the Sacred in an Age of Human Rights
by Austin Dacey

MORE

MORE BY RICHARD DAWKINS

Rats Manipulated to be Attracted to Cats

Richard Dawkins - RichardDawkins.net Comments

Rats Manipulated to be Attracted to Cats

No Precedent? Then Set One!

Richard Dawkins - RichardDawkins.net Comments

No Precedent? Then Set One?

Why I won't take part in debate with...

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.

It's What Moral Philosophers Do

Richard Dawkins - RichardDawkins.net Comments

It's What Moral Philosophers Do

You don’t need God to be good . . . or...

Richard Dawkins - - Comments

Freethinkers, atheists, agnostics, secular humanists – whatever name non-believers go under, they are not America’s most popular minority.

No blood on the carpet. How...

Richard Dawkins - RichardDawkins.net 174 Comments

[Journalists] seem to feel let down when they discover that the real people aren't anything like the way they so relentlessly portray us; as if, since they've gone to the trouble of inventing extravagant caricatures of us, we should at least have the decency to live up to them in real life.
Also in Polish

MORE

Comments

Comment RSS Feed

Please sign in or register to comment