The Selfish Genius
How Richard Dawkins Rewrote Darwin's Legacy by Fern Elsdon-Baker

 

 


Fern Elsdon-Baker explores the historical, philosophical and scientific arguments that are beginning to show the cracks in Dawkins' thinking. Published in the year that celebrates the 150th anniversary of On the Origin of Species, her book The Selfish Genius argues that Dawkins' way of seeing evolution - and indeed the world - is far from the only one possible, and that his popular image as the guardian of Darwinism in fact does it a disservice.



The very first line of Dawkins most academic facing book The Extended Phenotype argues that it is a work of unabashed advocacy not the rational argument of a scientist. Dawkins himself acknowledges that this would not be accepted in a scientific journal. So should it be for a popular science book?


Elsdon-Baker, a rational pro-science atheist and specialist in the history philosophy and communication of evolutionary theory, finds Dawkins' influence distinctly worrying. She argues that Dawkins is publicly misrepresenting Science as a whole and by exploring the way in which we communicate science she asks is Dawkins really acting to popularise Science or to popularise Richard Dawkins?

 

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Richard Dawkins' brand of evolutionary theory - which says that natural selection acts at the level of genes, not organisms or species - now seems to publicly dominate our understanding of what Darwinism is all about. His shoot-from-the-hip style of communicating science has also fuelled a growing but unproductive feud between science and religion. But does Dawkins give us the full picture?

 

Does disagreeing with Dawkins necessarily make you anti-Darwin, anti-evolution or anti-science?

 

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