An argument between Dawkins & Wilson

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal features an argument between Richard Dawkins and EO Wilson, with a cameo by Michael Lynch.

*I fear this may be a very inside evolutionary biology joke which greatly oversimplifies the positions held by all three individuals.

Linkonomicon II

  1. Risk of death by Russian Roulette in Kentucky is one in a million (per year) – via Tyler Cowen
  2. Rape is rape, Mr. Akin.
  3. Shipping pallets, the sine qua non of the global economy – via Cory Doctorow.
  4. If you are going to pick an arbitrary day to bask in the glory of Singin’ in the Rain (and Donald O’Connor‘s vaudevillian genius), the 100th birthday of Gene Kelly (star & co-director) is as good as any – via Maria Popova.
  5. How to annoy EO Wilson without criticizing group selection by Michelle Nijhuis.

Dawkins vs Wilson, Nothing to See Here

Hostilities between EO Wilson and Richard Dawkins have heated back up with Dawkins’ scathing review of Wilson’s new book, The Social Conquest of Earth. People seem to be laboring under the delusion that the current spat between EO Wilson and Richard Dawkins reflects a throwback to a traditional academic cage match between intellectual giants defending their theories with acerbic rhetoric.

In now thoroughly refuted 2010 paper in Nature, Wilson and colleagues attempted to overturn much of the modern understanding of natural selection theory and altruism, known as inclusive fitness theory. Wilson’s new book (apparently, I have not been graced with a copy) continues this line of argument. Dawkins got testy with Wilson then and now:

. . .unfortunately one is obliged to wade through many pages of erroneous and downright perverse misunderstandings of evolutionary theory.
-Richard Dawkins

The problem is, as David Sloan Wilson pointed out in 2010, the debate isn’t about the evolutionary theory that experts currently recognize. This debate has less similarity to a rigorous debate between the intellectual giants of their field and more to a couple of old guys arguing whether the Yankees or the Mets are better based on their vague memories of the 1972 season. Continue reading “Dawkins vs Wilson, Nothing to See Here”

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