Inheriting the Wind ... (Exchange)

The Nation, October 14, 2002 | Go to article overview

Inheriting the Wind ... (Exchange)


We endured our own KT-event regarding David Hawkes's review of Stephen Jay Gould's last book, The Structure of Evolutionary Theory ["The Evolution of Darwinism," June 10]. Scientists and nonscientists e-mailed us in numbers too large to reflect here (a longer exchange is at www.thenation.com).--The Editors

Tuscaloosa, Ala.

* I have always respected The Nation as one of the few remaining sources of responsible journalism, so it was with a sinking Et tu Brute? feeling that I read David Hawkes's "review" of Stephen Jay Gould's last book. Hawkes has not reviewed the book Gould actually wrote. Instead, he has chosen to proselytize for the religious movement commonly known as intelligent design (ID). He begins the review in a fantasy world in which Darwin did not originate the concept of natural selection. Such an assertion flies in the face of literal mountains of historical documents. Errors fly thick and fast. Whereas there is some justice to the assertion that Darwin's theory of evolution was reductionist, it is nothing short of absurd to claim that the study of genes is even more reductionist. Modern evolutionary theory is far more holistic than was Darwin's and partners with ecology and developmental biology to offer powerful insights about life on earth.

Curiously, Hawkes digresses at length to castigate Richard Dawkins, showing clearly that his real purpose is to attack evolutionary theory. He returns to science, but it is the science of the 1960s. Referring to Triceratops as a member of Reptilia is almost like referring to phlogiston as if it were a valid scientific concept. This is followed by the astonishing claim that evolutionary biologists insist that natural selection is the only cause of evolution and that catastrophes (such as meteor impacts) have no place in their theories. Hawkes proceeds to unveil his revelation, which boils down to: Shit happens. Unfortunately for Hawkes, evolutionary biologists discovered this long before our "reviewer." The technical literature of the past fifty years shows clearly that Hawkes is attacking a straw man. Hawkes then claims that Niles Eldredge and Gould developed the punctuated equilibrium model of evolution as a replacement for what creationists like Hawkes choose to call "Darwinism." Nothing could be further from the truth. The debate over the relative merits and explanatory power of punctuated equilibrium and gradualism revitalized the study of evolutionary rates a few decades ago, and ample proof was shortly discovered that both modes of evolution are common in the real world.

Finally we come to the point of the whole "review." Hawkes claims that intelligent design should be taken seriously because of recent political and pedagogical successes. Here is where Hawkes's training in English (but not science) fails him. Scientific theories do not win acceptance the way one wins a beauty contest. Political successes do not cut the mustard. In the realm of science, theories gain acceptance when they are supported by facts, and when they are shown to have explanatory power. Unfortunately for those who would like ID to be a scientific theory, it is not. ID isn't science for the very simple reason that (1) it makes no testable predictions, (2) its adherents do not do scientific research and (3) there is not one single published scientific paper that uses facts and reason to provide credible support for any aspect of it. ID may be wrong, it may be right, it may be a lot of things. But it won't be science until it acts like science and until its followers begin doing the things that real scientists do.

The Nation didn't earn any points by printing this religious tract masquerading as a book review. David C. Kopaska-Merkel

Geological Survey of Alabama

Spokane, Wash.

* David Hawkes sets a new standard for obtuse reviewing by trying to spot-weld Stephen Jay Gould's last book to the giddy expectations of Michael Behe's intelligent design.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Inheriting the Wind ... (Exchange)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.