Friday, August 06, 2004

Dawkins book Selfish Gene's (1976) basic theme was this - we are prisoners of our DNA.

"Dawkins says he is now no longer so aggressive, a claim that is manifestly untrue. In his last book, A Devil's Chaplain, he quotes with relish a Spectator review that 'to be Dawkinsed is not just to be dressed down or duffed up: it is to be squelched, pulverised, annihilated, rendered into suitably primordial paste.' "

"He is spectacularly combative, picking fights not just with churchmen but other evolutionary biologists, in particular the late Harvard palaeontologist Stephen Jay Gould."

"The two clashed violently over Gould's ideas that evolution proceeds in strange jumps and starts, known as the theory of punctuated equilibrium. Dawkins denounced Gould's ideas and writing as being filled with 'forced analogies that obscure rather than illuminate' and 'bad scientific poetry' (a real Dawkins put down). Their battle divided US and UK researchers into deeply divided camps (Steve Pinker and Daniel Dennett with Dawkins, Steve Rose and Richard Lewontin with Gould) and is considered one of science's most unpleasant disputes."

"In 1995 he was given an Oxford chair, endowed by Microsoft millionaire Charles Simonyi. He has maintained his fusillades of anti-cleric abuse, once utterly crushing the Bishop of Oxford, Richard Harries (a former scientist), in a debate over the common ground that exists between science and religion (no guessing what Dawkins's view was)." FULL STORY

Full name: Clinton Richard Dawkins
DoB: 26 March 1941, Kenya
Education: Oundle School; Balliol, Oxford (MA, DPhil, Msc)
Publications: The Selfish Gene (1976); The Extended Phenotype (1982);
The Blind Watchmaker (1986); River Out of Eden (1995); A Devil's Chaplain (2003)