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The Darwin Wars: The Scientific Battle for…

The Darwin Wars: The Scientific Battle for the Soul of Man

by Andrew Brown

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Though it has been a matter of much comment at Amazon, I think, first off, we ought to put away the idea that it is somehow wrong or remarkable that Brown is a journalist writing a book about science.

The extent to which a good journalist (and Brown is one) cannot sufficently grasp the issues in modern Darwinism is precisely the extent to which no popular books ought to be written about it at all, by anyone.

If an intelligent journalist working full time on the issue can't correctly understand it, what hope does the casual reader have?

The fact is that most of the issues really aren't all that tough, and where things do get complicated, the issues are often philosophical and interpretive. Areas where scientists have not shown themselves to be particularly adroit (as Brown notes). There is plenty of writing out there by scientists whose credentials in the lab are impeccable and whose command of the facts I wouldn't dare to question.

But when some of these folks quit the job of fact gathering and start interpreting and sketching out implications . . . well, let's just say that words & phases like naive, wishful thinking, overly ambitious and even stupid start coming to mind.

Brown (though he briefly forgets which sex is XY) generally seems to have his facts straight, he digs up little-told portions of the history of the Darwin Wars, and has an interesting take on the personalities involved.

Brown's philosophical sympathies lie with the Gould camp (emphasizing the limits on what science can really say with confidence about things like society and culture), but he presents a pretty balanced view nonetheless, very solid on the sometimes rather half-baked philosphical underpinnings of scientific interpretation at its most exalted (and perhaps most dangerous) level.

A valuable book. ( )
  ehines | Jun 26, 2011 |
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