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Darwinian Fairytales: Selfish Genes, Errors of Heredity and Other Fables of Evolution

David Stove

(hardcover), Encounter Books, 320 p., 2005

Item# B110
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"A Ridiculous Slander on Human Beings."

That is what the philosopher David Stove concludes in his hilarious and razor-sharp inquiry into Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.

But wait! Stove is no "creationist." He is not a proponent of "intelligent design." He is a man of "no religion," a theological skeptic who admits Darwin's "great genius" and acknowledges that the theory of natural selection is the most successful biological theory in history.

But Stove also thinks that Darwinism is one of the most overblown of contemporary scientific dogmas. In Darwinian Fairytales, he provides a penetrating inventory of what the "unbelievable claims" of Darwinism, from its classic formulation in the nineteenth century through contemporary variations of neo-Darwinians such as E.O. Wilson and Richard Dawkins.

Every organism has as many descendants as it can. That's what Darwinian Theory holds. But do you know anyone who has as many descendants as he could?

In every species, child mortality�that is, the proportion of live births which die before reproductive age�is extremely high. How many friends do you know who have children? How many have died?

The more privileged people are the more prolific: if one class in a society is less exposed than another to the misery due to food-shortage, disease, and war, then the members of the more fortunate class will have (on average) more children than the members of the other class. Which comes closer to the truth, this Darwinian chestnut or the old song "The rich get richer and the poor get children"?

Any variations in the least degree injurious to their possessors in the struggle for life will be rigidly destroyed by the process of natural selection. Start with the letter "A": Abortion, fondness for Alcohol, Altruism. Are any of these "variations" being "rigidly destroyed"?

Darwinian Fairytales is a must-read book for people who want to get behind the doctrinaire cant that characterizes both sides in the debate over Darwinism. It is the one book to read if you want to understand the issues behind the most hotly debated scientific controversy of our time.

About the Author
David Stove was born in 1927 in Moree, New South Wales, Australia, and taught philosophy at the University of New South Wales and the University of Sydney. He was an expert on the philosophy of David Hume and a widely published polemical journalist. He completed Darwinian Fairytales shortly before his death in 1994.


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