This View of by Life David Sloan WilsonIn the final paragraph of On the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin wrote, “There is grandeur in this view of life…from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”

From this poetic ending we get the title of David Sloan Wilson’s latest book, This View of Life, which seeks to expand the evolutionary worldview beyond the biological realm to the realm of human culture and policy.

Biology is one of the few disciplines that already has its grand unifying theory: evolution by natural selection. It’s what prompted the geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky to declared in 1973 that “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.”

Continue reading “David Sloan Wilson on Completing the Darwinian Revolution”

The Selfish Gene by Richard DawkinsI should start by stating the obvious, that The Selfish Gene is a terrible choice for the title. It sends entirely the wrong message and gives people an excuse not to read the book. This, of course, was not lost on Richard Dawkins, as he would later admit that three better alternative titles would have been The Cooperative Gene, The Immortal Gene, or The Altruistic Vehicle.

In the title The Selfish Gene, the emphasis should be on “gene,” not on “selfish,” as there is no gene that codes for selfishness. But Dawkins should have anticipated the confusion and the tendency for critics to use this against him (without reading, as Dawkins said, the footnote to the title, which is the book). Nothing screams social darwinism more than the The Selfish Gene, even though the book is clearly anti-social darwinism in content.

Continue reading “The Immortal Gene: How Our Bodies Act as Temporary Vehicles for DNA”