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Thomas Jones: Evolution versus Metamorphosis, 1 September 2005

... of knowing for sure what’s an adaptation and what’s a by-product, or ‘spandrel’ (to use Richard Lewontin and Stephen Jay Gould’s architectural analogy). In their introduction to The Literary Animal: Evolution and the Nature of Narrative (Northwestern, $29.95), a collection of essays which will be published later in the autumn, Jonathan ...

Life in the Colonies

Steven Rose, 20 July 1995

Naturalist 
by Edward O.Wilson.
Allen Lane, 380 pp., £20, August 1995, 0 7139 9141 0
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Journey to the Ants: A Story of Scientific Exploration 
by Bert Hölldobler and Edward O.Wilson.
Harvard, 228 pp., £19.95, November 1994, 0 674 48525 4
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... time I was working, one floor below his, in collaboration with his formidable ideological critic Richard Lewontin – the second of the remarkable triumvirate who inhabit the Museum (the third, in the basement, is Stephen Jay Gould). Lewontin claims that when the conflict between them was at its most intense, Wilson ...

Molecules are not enough

John Maynard Smith, 6 February 1986

The Dialectical Biologist 
by Richard Levins and Richard Lewontin.
Harvard, 303 pp., £18.50, August 1985, 0 674 20281 3
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... Russian biology damage from which it has not yet recovered, even thirty years later. Levins and Lewontin address these events, as they must. They do not (unlike some Maoists) claim that Lysenko was right: ‘Far from overthrowing traditional genetics and creating a new science,’ they write, Lysenkoism ‘cut short the pioneering work of Soviet genetics ...

Contra Galton

Michael Neve, 5 March 1987

In the Name of Eugenics: Genetics and the Uses of Human Heredity 
by Daniel Kevles.
Penguin, 426 pp., £4.95, August 1986, 0 14 022698 2
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... to class interest, or, more important, racial supremacy. If the thing is a genuine mystery, if, as Richard Lewontin has written, ‘we know nothing more about genetic causes of difference in social status and power today than was known to Galton,’ then the history of biological engineering, and genetics, is merely an aspect of the history of class or ...

What’s in the bottle?

Donald MacKenzie: The Science Wars Revisited, 9 May 2002

The One Culture? A Conversation about Science 
edited by Jay Labinger and Harry Collins.
Chicago, 329 pp., £41, August 2001, 0 226 46722 8
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... from scientists: Erwin Chargaff, Jacob Bronowski, Gunther Stent, Brian Petley, and the trio of Richard Lewontin, Steven Rose and Leon Kamin. In a modest ‘anti-Sokal’ hoax, one of the contributors to The One Culture?, Steven Shapin, leads the reader initially to assume that the quotations come from critics of science in the arts and ...

Why Pigs Don’t Have Wings

Jerry Fodor: The Case against Natural Selection, 18 October 2007

... it can’t. Hence the current perplexity. History might reasonably credit Stephen J. Gould and Richard Lewontin as the first to notice that something may be seriously wrong in this part of the wood. Their 1979 paper, ‘The Spandrels of S. Marco and The Panglossian Paradigm: A Critique of the Adaptationist Programme’, ignited an argument about the ...

Not an Inkling

Jerry Coyne: There’s more to life than DNA, 27 April 2000

Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters 
by Matt Ridley.
Fourth Estate, 344 pp., £8.99, February 2000, 9781857028355
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... and culminating in the loudest recent salvos, Stephen Jay Gould’s The Mismeasure of Man and Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray’s The Bell Curve. Given the inflammatory nature of the topic, and the powerful sociopolitical questions it raises, it would pay a writer to tread gingerly here. Will understanding the genetics of intelligence help science ...

Genetic Mountaineering

Adrian Woolfson: The evolution of evolvability, 6 February 2003

A New Kind of Science 
by Stephen Wolfram.
Wolfram Media, 1197 pp., £40, May 2002, 1 57955 008 8
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... to accommodate genes and mutations, recent work has been more challenging. Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Lewontin, for example, used the spandrels of St Mark’s in Venice, which exist as a necessary by-product of the process of mounting a dome on rounded arches, as a way of illustrating the anti-adaptationist idea that certain features of organisms ...

Never Mind the Bollocks

Hilary Rose and Steven Rose: Brains and Gender, 28 April 2011

Brain Storm: The Flaws in the Science of Sex Differences 
by Rebecca Jordan-Young.
Harvard, 394 pp., £25.95, September 2010, 978 0 674 05730 2
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... biologists whose work she builds on, and radical Marxist critics of genetic determinism such as Richard Lewontin, pioneered these more open theories of biological development. However, they saw ‘context’ as less circumscribed. For them, it encompassed the entire social framework in which science is embedded. These earlier scientist-critics sought ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Looking Ahead, 18 May 2000

... New Consensus was published in March. Harvard University Press are advertising it together with Richard Lewontin’s new book, The Triple Helix: Gene, Organism, Environment, presumably to let everyone know they’re not taking sides. Lewontin and Wilson, fiercely opposed to each other intellectually, used to have ...

Middle Positions

John Hedley Brooke, 21 July 1983

Archetypes and Ancestors: Palaeontology in Victorian London 1850-1875 
by Adrian Desmond.
Blond and Briggs, 287 pp., £15.95, October 1982, 0 85634 121 5
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Evolution without Evidence: Charles Darwin and ‘The Origin Species’ 
by Barry Gale.
Harvester, 238 pp., £18.95, January 1983, 0 7108 0442 3
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The Secular Ark: Studies in the History of Biogeography 
by Janet Browne.
Yale, 273 pp., £21, May 1983, 0 300 02460 6
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The Descent of Darwin: A Handbook of Doubts about Darwinsm 
by Brain Leith.
Collins, 174 pp., £7.95, December 1982, 0 00 219548 8
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... for T.H. Huxley, ‘the natural and irreconcilable enemies of science’. His professional rival Richard Owen, by contrast, considered those blind to the beauty of design in nature to be suffering from ‘some, perhaps, congenital, defect of mind’. But the trouble with reduction to polar opposites is that what really gets excluded are the middle positions ...

The Darwin Show

Steven Shapin, 7 January 2010

... bulldog’, the Oxford emeritus professor for the public understanding of science, Richard Dawkins, has been called his unmuzzled rottweiler; according to Dawkins, Darwin’s idea wasn’t just a great one (‘the most powerful, revolutionary idea ever put forward by an individual’), it is essentially the only idea you need to explain life ...

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