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What Darwin Got Wrong

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What Darwin Got Wrong Cover

 

Review-A-Day

"The longest-running conspiracy theory in science...depicts a fiendishly complex effort by scientists over the past 150 years to prop up a bankrupt Darwinian theory in spite of what its critics see as massive and self-evident flaws. Although nothing in What Darwin Got Wrong suggests that the authors, Rutgers University philosophy professor Jerry Fodor and cognitive scientist Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini, believe that a conspiracy is afoot, their writing follows the usual pattern." Edward J. Larson, The Wilson Quarterly (Read the entire Wilson Quarterly review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

What Darwin Got Wrong is a remarkable book, one that dares to challenge the theory of natural selection as an explanation for how evolution works—a devastating critique not in the name of religion but in the name of good science.

Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini, a distinguished philosopher and a scientist working in tandem, reveal major flaws at the heart of Darwinian evolutionary theory. Combining the results of cutting-edge work in experimental biology with crystal-clear philosophical arguments, they mount a reasoned and convincing assault on the central tenets of Darwins account of the origin of species. The logic underlying natural selection is the survival of the fittest under changing environmental pressure. This logic, they argue, is mistaken, and they back up the claim with surprising evidence of what actually happens in nature. This is a rare achievement—a concise argument that is likely to make a great deal of difference to a very large subject. What Darwin Got Wrong will be controversial. The authors arguments will reverberate through the scientific world. At the very least they will transform the debate about evolution and move us beyond the false dilemma of being either for natural selection or against science.

Jerry Fodor is a professor of philosophy and cognitive science at Rutgers University.

Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini started his academic career as a biophysicist and molecular biologist and is now a professor of cognitive science at the University of Arizona.

What Darwin Got Wrong challenges the theory of natural selection as an explanation for how evolution works—a devastating critique not in the name of religion but in the name of good science.

Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini, a distinguished philosopher and a scientist working in tandem, reveal major flaws at the heart of Darwinian evolutionary theory. Combining the results of cutting-edge work in experimental biology with crystal-clear philosophical arguments, they mount a reasoned and convincing assault on the central tenets of Darwins account of the origin of species. The logic underlying natural selection is the survival of the fittest under changing environmental pressure. This logic, they argue, is mistaken, and they back up the claim with surprising evidence of what actually happens in nature. This is a rare achievement—a concise argument that is likely to make a great deal of difference to a very large subject. What Darwin Got Wrong will be controversial. The authors arguments will reverberate through the scientific world, transforming the debate about evolution and moving it beyond the false dilemma of being either for natural selection or against science.

“Evolution needs a persuasive theory if the struggle for public acceptance is to be won. Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piattelli-Palmarinis bold treatise, What Darwin Got Wrong, convincingly shows that natural selection is not that theory. Drawing on scientific literature spanning the molecular, behavioral, and cognitive scales, with sophisticated excursions into evolutionary-developmental biology and the physics of complex systems, the authors perform a philosophical dismantling of the standard model of evolutionary change that is likely irreversible. Their unambiguous grounding in the factuality of evolution renders this work a service to science and a setback for its opponents.”—Stuart Newman, Professor of Cell Biology and Anatomy, New York Medical College
“Evolution needs a persuasive theory if the struggle for public acceptance is to be won. Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piattelli-Palmarinis bold treatise, What Darwin Got Wrong, convincingly shows that natural selection is not that theory. Drawing on scientific literature spanning the molecular, behavioral, and cognitive scales, with sophisticated excursions into evolutionary-developmental biology and the physics of complex systems, the authors perform a philosophical dismantling of the standard model of evolutionary change that is likely irreversible. Their unambiguous grounding in the factuality of evolution renders this work a service to science and a setback for its opponents.”—Stuart Newman, Professor of Cell Biology and Anatomy, New York Medical College

“In this provocative, enlightening, and very entertaining book, Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini argue that natural selection (NS) cannot explain how evolution occurs. The argument is largely conceptual and proceeds in two steps: (1) that theories of NS are conceptually parallel to Skinnerian theories of learning and so share most of the same debilitating problems, and (2) that NS is actually in worse conceptual shape when its central explanatory notion, ‘selecting for, is properly unpacked. This argument will annoy a lot of important people, both for its conclusion and for the evident delight the authors display in getting to it. The ensuing fireworks should be delightful, and (possibly) enlightening.”—Norbert Hornstein, Professor of Linguistics, University of Maryland

“From the shocking title onward, Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini have set the cat among Darwins pigeons. In arguing why the operation of natural selection says nothing about the causal mechanisms underlying the evolution of coextensive traits in an organism, they take us to the conceptual fault line at the heart of Darwins theory. My prediction is that Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarinis book will raise hackles galore wherever the theory of natural selection is all too glibly misused, not only in studies of the ontogeny and phylogeny of biology, but also in those great overlapping disciplines of philosophy, psychology, linguistics, and behavior—in short, human nature. This book will set the agenda for years to come. It cannot be ignored if the study of evolution is to be honest with itself.”—Gabriel Dover, Professor of Evolutionary Genetics, Universities of Leicester and Cambridge, and author of Dear Mr. Darwin: Letters on the Evolution of Life and Human Nature

“This highly informative and carefully argued study develops two central theses. First, there are alternatives to classical neo-Darwinian adaptationist theories that are plausible, and very possibly capture principles that are the rule rather than the exception even if the basic adaptationist account is accepted. Second, that account cannot be accepted. The two theses are sufficiently independent so that they can be evaluated separately. Whatever the outcome of intellectual engagement with this stimulating work, it is sure to be a most rewarding experience.”—Noam Chomsky

“[Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini] make a persuasive case that the role of natural selection in evolution is ripe for reassessment. To say so should not be seen as scientific heresy or capitulation to the forces of unreason—it is a brave and welcome challenge.”—Philip Ball, The Sunday Times (London)

“[A] powerful little book . . . This book is, of course, fighting stuff, sure to be contested by those at whom it is aimed. On the face of things, however, it strikes an outsider as an overdue and valuable onslaught on neo-Darwinist simplicities.”—Mary Midgley, The Guardian

“A challenging, intriguing argument that poses important scientific and philosophical questions about evolution . . . Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini take a brave stance that will likely draw reaction . . . from across the scientific and theological spectrum. A dense, scholarly, engaging testament to modern scientific thinking and its ability to adapt and evolve.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Philosopher Fodor and cognitive scientist Piattelli-Palmarini challenge Darwinism more effectively than the entire creationist/intelligent-design movement has . . . Many may find this the hardest, absolutely essential reading theyve ever done.”—Ray Olson, Booklist

Review:

"The authors of this scattershot treatise believe in evolution, but think that the Darwinian model of 'adaptationism' — that random genetic mutations, filtered by natural selection, produce traits that enhance fitness for a particular biological niche — is 'fatally flawed.' Philosopher Fodor and molecular-biologist-turned-cognitive-scientist Piattelli-Palmarini, at the University of Arizona, launch a three-pronged attack (which drew fire when Fodor presented their ideas in the London Review of Books in 2007). For one thing, according to the authors, natural selection contains a logical fallacy by linking two irreconcilable claims: first, that 'creatures with adaptive traits are selected,' and second, that 'creatures are selected for their adaptive traits.' The authors present an ill-digested assortment of scientific studies suggesting there are forces other than adaptation (some even Lamarckian) that drive changes in genes and organisms . Then they advance a densely technical argument that natural selection can't coherently distinguish between adaptive traits and irrelevant ones. Their most persuasive, and engaging, criticism is that evolutionary theory is just tautological truisms and historical narratives of how creatures came to be. Overall, the scientific evidence and philosophical analyses the authors proffer are murky and underwhelming. Worse, their highly technical treatment renders their argument virtually incomprehensible to lay readers. (Feb.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

In this provocative, enlightening, and very entertaining book, [the authors] argue that natural selection cannot explain how evolution occurs. This argument will annoy a lot of important people, both for its conclusion and for the evident delight the authors display in getting to it.--Norbert Hornstein, University of Maryland.

Synopsis:

With a New Afterword

What Darwin Got Wrong is a remarkable book, one that dares to challenge the theory of natural selection as an explanation for how evolution works--a devastating critique not in the name of religion but in the name of good science. Combining the results of cutting-edge work in experimental biology with crystal-clear philosophical arguments, Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini mount a reasoned and convincing assault on the central tenets of Darwins account of the origin of species. This is a concise argument that will transform the debate about evolution and move us beyond the false dilemma of being either for natural selection or against science. 

Synopsis:

What Darwin Got Wrong is a remarkable book, one that dares to challenge the theory of natural selection as an explanation for how evolution works—a devastating critique not in the name of religion but in the name of good science.

Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini, a distinguished philosopher and a scientist working in tandem, reveal major flaws at the heart of Darwinian evolutionary theory. Combining the results of cutting-edge work in experimental biology with crystal-clear philosophical arguments, they mount a reasoned and convincing assault on the central tenets of Darwins account of the origin of species. The logic underlying natural selection is the survival of the fittest under changing environmental pressure. This logic, they argue, is mistaken, and they back up the claim with surprising evidence of what actually happens in nature. This is a rare achievement—a concise argument that is likely to make a great deal of difference to a very large subject. What Darwin Got Wrong will be controversial. The authors arguments will reverberate through the scientific world. At the very least they will transform the debate about evolution and move us beyond the false dilemma of being either for natural selection or against science.

About the Author

Jerry Fodor is a professor of philosophy and cognitive science at Rutgers University.

Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini started his academic career as a biophysicist and molecular biologist and is now a professor of cognitive science at the University of Arizona.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780374288792
Author:
Fodor, Jerry
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Author:
Piattelli-Palmarini, Massimo
Subject:
Life Sciences - Evolution
Subject:
Evolution
Subject:
Natural selection
Subject:
Evolution (Biology) -- Philosophy.
Subject:
Philosophy
Subject:
Social aspects
Subject:
Philosophy & Social Aspects
Subject:
Biology-Evolution
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20100216
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Includes 3 Illustrations, an Appendix, R
Pages:
288
Dimensions:
8.28 x 5.52 x 0.87 in

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Related Subjects


Science and Mathematics » Biology » Darwin Criticism
Science and Mathematics » Biology » Evolution
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What Darwin Got Wrong Used Hardcover
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Product details 288 pages Farrar Straus Giroux - English 9780374288792 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "The authors of this scattershot treatise believe in evolution, but think that the Darwinian model of 'adaptationism' — that random genetic mutations, filtered by natural selection, produce traits that enhance fitness for a particular biological niche — is 'fatally flawed.' Philosopher Fodor and molecular-biologist-turned-cognitive-scientist Piattelli-Palmarini, at the University of Arizona, launch a three-pronged attack (which drew fire when Fodor presented their ideas in the London Review of Books in 2007). For one thing, according to the authors, natural selection contains a logical fallacy by linking two irreconcilable claims: first, that 'creatures with adaptive traits are selected,' and second, that 'creatures are selected for their adaptive traits.' The authors present an ill-digested assortment of scientific studies suggesting there are forces other than adaptation (some even Lamarckian) that drive changes in genes and organisms . Then they advance a densely technical argument that natural selection can't coherently distinguish between adaptive traits and irrelevant ones. Their most persuasive, and engaging, criticism is that evolutionary theory is just tautological truisms and historical narratives of how creatures came to be. Overall, the scientific evidence and philosophical analyses the authors proffer are murky and underwhelming. Worse, their highly technical treatment renders their argument virtually incomprehensible to lay readers. (Feb.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "The longest-running conspiracy theory in science...depicts a fiendishly complex effort by scientists over the past 150 years to prop up a bankrupt Darwinian theory in spite of what its critics see as massive and self-evident flaws. Although nothing in What Darwin Got Wrong suggests that the authors, Rutgers University philosophy professor Jerry Fodor and cognitive scientist Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini, believe that a conspiracy is afoot, their writing follows the usual pattern." (Read the entire Wilson Quarterly review)
"Synopsis" by , In this provocative, enlightening, and very entertaining book, [the authors] argue that natural selection cannot explain how evolution occurs. This argument will annoy a lot of important people, both for its conclusion and for the evident delight the authors display in getting to it.--Norbert Hornstein, University of Maryland.
"Synopsis" by ,

With a New Afterword

What Darwin Got Wrong is a remarkable book, one that dares to challenge the theory of natural selection as an explanation for how evolution works--a devastating critique not in the name of religion but in the name of good science. Combining the results of cutting-edge work in experimental biology with crystal-clear philosophical arguments, Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini mount a reasoned and convincing assault on the central tenets of Darwins account of the origin of species. This is a concise argument that will transform the debate about evolution and move us beyond the false dilemma of being either for natural selection or against science. 

"Synopsis" by ,

What Darwin Got Wrong is a remarkable book, one that dares to challenge the theory of natural selection as an explanation for how evolution works—a devastating critique not in the name of religion but in the name of good science.

Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini, a distinguished philosopher and a scientist working in tandem, reveal major flaws at the heart of Darwinian evolutionary theory. Combining the results of cutting-edge work in experimental biology with crystal-clear philosophical arguments, they mount a reasoned and convincing assault on the central tenets of Darwins account of the origin of species. The logic underlying natural selection is the survival of the fittest under changing environmental pressure. This logic, they argue, is mistaken, and they back up the claim with surprising evidence of what actually happens in nature. This is a rare achievement—a concise argument that is likely to make a great deal of difference to a very large subject. What Darwin Got Wrong will be controversial. The authors arguments will reverberate through the scientific world. At the very least they will transform the debate about evolution and move us beyond the false dilemma of being either for natural selection or against science.

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