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1 December 1983
Hen’s Teeth and Horse’s Toes: Further Reflections in Natural History 
by Stephen Jay Gould.
Norton, 413 pp., £11.95, September 1983, 0 393 01716 8
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The Great Chain of History: William Buckland and the English School of Geology, 1814-1849 
by Nicolaas Rupke.
Oxford, 322 pp., £22.50, September 1983, 0 19 822907 0
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... in these essays which raise questions of wide philosophical interest. In clarifying the distinction between the selfish gene hypothesis of Richard Dawkins and the selfish DNA hypothesis of FrancisCrick, he is led into an enlightening discussion of biological reductionism. The Darwinism of Dawkins is thoroughly reductionist, in the sense that bodies are merely temporary containers for their selfish ...

How Does It Add Up?

Neal Ascherson: The Burns Cult

12 March 2009
The Bard: Robert Burns, a Biography 
by Robert Crawford.
Cape, 466 pp., £20, January 2009, 978 0 224 07768 2
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... The late Bernard Crick, who had a fine and memorable funeral in Edinburgh the other day, left a legacy of sharp opinions behind him. Among the least popular was his opinion of the British tradition of biography, and his ...

Narco Polo

Iain Sinclair

23 January 1997
Mr Nice: An Autobiography 
by Howard Marks.
Secker, 466 pp., £16.99, September 1996, 0 436 20305 7
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Pulp Election: The Booker Prize Fix 
by Carmen St Keeldare.
Bluedove, 225 pp., £12.99, September 1996, 0 9528298 0 0
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... belly-full of pulsating quanta-distressed baby jelly-fish inside the irradiated body of an unpensioned schizophrenic ex-CIA dolphin. The ravings of a new-wave physicist, someone who had worked with FrancisCrick. And done too much mescaline. A classic William Burroughs paranoid believing herself to be the only person ‘in possession of all the facts’. Ms Keeldare’s text was paralysed with self ...


June Goodfield

6 November 1986
Memoir of a Thinking Radish: An Autobiography 
by Peter Medawar.
Oxford, 209 pp., £12.50, April 1986, 0 19 217737 0
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... science can be so lonely that recognition of common struggles can be an inspiration. As Maria de Sousa once wrote to me: I don’t know if Gerald Edelman ever gets depressed, or if Jim Watson or FrancisCrick ever get depressed. But for the more ordinary of us, the strength that is needed to believe that what you believe in is worth pursuing is very great. And at the end of a Glasgow wet, windy week ...
7 April 1994
Poetry and Pragmatism 
by Richard Poirier.
Faber, 228 pp., £20, November 1992, 0 571 16617 2
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... meditation where we are given a new American sublime, one ‘experienced precisely by the relaxed indifference of the will’. One can begin to wonder just how Poirier’s Emerson differs from FrancisCrick, who genially insinuates that the will is merely another nerve cell. Crick’s ‘astonishing hypothesis’ would meet Poirier’s version of the pragmatic test, but I do not think that Emerson ...

Red Science

Eric Hobsbawm: J.D. Bernal

9 March 2006
J.D. Bernal: The Sage of Science 
by Andrew Brown.
Oxford, 562 pp., £25, November 2005, 0 19 851544 8
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... with his youthful commitment as a Sinn Fein revolutionary? On the red side of his life Brown is distinctly less perceptive than Fred Steward’s essay on ‘Political Formation’ in Brenda Swann and Francis Aprahamian’s collection J.D. Bernal: A Life in Science and Politics (1999), presumably because he is too anxious to balance his enormous admiration for the man and the scientist by insisting on his ...

1984 and ‘1984’

Randolph Quirk

16 February 1984
... and political demagogues alike. Awareness of the dangers inherent in language, ‘the loaded weapon’, is not a modern revelation: indeed, it is probably universal. One of the chief impediments that Francis Bacon saw to the Advancement of Learning and hence of mankind itself was the too ready dislocation of words from meanings, the ‘Pygmalion’s frenzy’ in which people were ever liable to be moved ...

Where on Earth are you?

Frances Stonor Saunders

3 March 2016
... a God, Barth was saying, yet ‘our arrogance demands that, in addition to everything else, some super-world should also be known and accessible to us.’ The politics of scrutiny will not suffer the crick that can’t be cracked. Total knowability is the objective, and, its high priests say, we have the technology to achieve it. This is not a conspiracy (and if it were, it would involve Facebook and ...

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