Really nice explanation of evolution

From the economist, for Darwin's 200th birthday. There's some stuff at the end that is very populist & I don't agree with, but the review of where the theory came from & what controversies are still active (e.g. the Gould stuff) is really nicely written. Also, a discussion about how the other radical new scientific ideas of the 19th century have penetrated public acceptance, while evolution has not (in some countries.)

Evolution: Unfinished Business


Marios said…
It is the natural curse of all books and articles on evolution that they must surrender to the ridiculous in their last chapter/paragraph. It feels like the author has effectively been holding their breath as they swim through the amoral waters of science and then they suddenly surface at the end coughing up sentiment left, right and centre.

"For people do, now, have a united evolutionary common purpose: to halt that natural selection in its tracks."

Nicely Buddhist - samsara as natural selection - when we attain moksha.

I'm not sure "brutal handcuffs of nature" invokes quite the right image.

Joanna said…
Thanks Marios -- yeah, my mom queried about that too. I forgot she didn't do it publicly, it's a shame, I thought you were replying to our conversation when I first saw the email notice for your comment. Yes, the end is BS, humans are of course still subject to evolution although the definition of "fittest" has substantially changed due to culture. I actually suspect sometimes those typical last paragraphs of which you speak aren't even written by the authors but by some editor trying to cover their magazine's butt.