by Denyse O'Leary
Australian philosopher David Stove (1927-1994), not a religious man and no defender of any type of creationism, wrote a book Darwinian Fairytales (Avebury Press, 1995), which is part of the Avebury Series in Philosophy, that shows clearly why the principal neo-Darwinian concepts of kin selection and inclusive fitness simply do not conform to the available evidence - certainly not for humans, and probably not for many other life forms. This series of blogs briefly introduces the topics covered in the 11 chapters of the book, with some other links, as available. This is a brief comment on the Preface.
As the Acknowledgments briefly relate, David Stove died in 1994, leaving the complete manuscript of Darwinian Fairytales, which was the concern of the last three years of his life. His literary editor James Franklin, of the School of Mathematics of the University of New South Wales, rightly claims the honor of seeing the book through the press (September 25, 1995). It is divided into eleven chapters, which he calls Essays.
On reading the book, it is clear that Stove did not start out with some strong desire to disprove evolution or Darwinian evolution. Conceding that natural selection probably enables new species to come into existence, he then says,
I do deny that natural selection is going on within our species now , and that it ever went on in our species, at any time of which anything is known.
He waives the question of how our species came to be what it is now, because he wants our species portrayed correctly in known historical time, and "not to be imposed upon by the ludicrously false portrayals which Darwinians give of the past, and even of the present, of our species." In other words he has no time for the sham psychology of "evolutionary psychology."
He admits that his only professional qualification is "40 odd years' acquaintance with Darwinian literature, and a strong distaste for ridiculous slanders on our species." But that may well be enough qualification.
After all, anyone looking for nonsense, need look no further than evolutionary psychology, the weakest link in the chain of psychologies.
As I noted in an earlier post, evolutionary psychologists claim to be able to explain altruism, crime, economics, emotions, infidelity, laughter, law, literature,
love, marketing, obesity, religion, war, voting conservative why the United States does not go to war against Canada (which has almost no military presence),
sexual orientation, what women currently find attractive, why children dislike vegetables, shoes, and so forth, by what cave guys* supposedly did.
And this is hardly an exhaustive list. Indeed, no exhaustive list would be possible, because anyone can interpret any current social situation (a gruesome baby-killing, a demand to legalize polygamy, US-Canada relations) in the light of what supposedly happened in prehistoric times, and then make up a story about how the behavior arose among cave guys shouting rot into the stalactites of their caves ....
(*The vast majority of those cave guys were not our direct ancestors, but, hey, why let a detail get in the way of a good story, let alone tenure?)
I think Stove, wherever he is, should be laughing now. But steady on. Hear his key points, starting with Chapter 1: "Darwinism's Dilemma" . They are worth observing.
Toronto-based Canadian journalist Denyse O'Leary (www.designorchance.com) is the author of the multiple award-winning By Design or by Chance? (Augsburg Fortress 2004), an overview of the intelligent design controversy. She was named CBA Canada's Recommended Author of the Year in 2005 and is co-author, with Montreal neuroscientist Mario Beauregard, of the forthcoming The Spiritual Brain (Harper 2007).
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