Field of Science

Evolution for Everyone

This afternoon, I picked up a copy of David Sloan Wilson's (DSW) new book, Evolution for Everyone. I have been looking forward to reading it ever since I heard about it a year or so ago. The idea that DSW puts forward is that evolutionary thinking can illuminate many subjects, not just those in biology. In the opening chapter, DSW refers to himself as an "evolutionist" as opposed to an "evolutionary biologist": although he is a certainly a biologist, he uses evolutionary thinking to consider a whole variety of problems not exclusive to biology.

In putting his efforts where his mouth (or keyboard) is, DSW has also organized what sounds like a really exciting program at Binghamton University called Evolutionary Studies (EvoS). The program is described in some detail in his recent paper in PLoS Biology,
Evolution for Everyone: How to Increase Acceptance of, Interest in, and Knowledge about Evolution.

Along with a thoughtful review from one of my favorite science writers, Natalie Angier, the New York Times has made the first chapter available online. A review that recently appeared in the New Scientist said:
"DO WE need another popular book on evolution? That 54 per cent of adults in the US believe we did not evolve from earlier species is reason enough, but David Sloan Wilson's book also has much to teach those of us who are already convinced. His aim is to show that evolution can transform our basic understanding of everyday life. We have no problem believing in the physical sciences, he says, because we are so used to them in our lives - when we drive cars or build bridges, for example. Evolution is different, yet without it we can't understand medicine, politics, economics, art and, yes, religion. With a clear passion for the subject, Wilson shows that understanding evolution is easy, even intuitive - it really is for everyone. If only everyone would read his book."
I'm only three chapters into the book so far, but I'm already really enjoying it; I'll report more later. In the meantime, if anyone has comments on the book (or article), please leave them.

1 comment:

  1. See my comments (in reverse order) as I read through the book. The bottom line is that I liked it a lot. In the end I found it a much more personal and confessional book than I expected.


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