Letter: Science giants do a good job: we're hooked and keen to learn

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According to Colin Tudge, "only Dawkins gets it right". But Richard Dawkins's writings contain significant distortions of the science. For example, at the heart of his "selfish gene" concept is the outmoded, but still popular, assumption that there is invariably a direct correspondence between specific behaviours and specific genes, so that natural selection can be considered purely at the level of the individual gene. Sometimes (as with colour blindness), this is a good approximation; other situations are less straightforward.

In books such as The Blind Watchmaker, a crucial part of the argument concerns whether there exists a continuous path, leading from the origins of life to man, each step of which is both favoured by natural selection, and small enough to have happened by chance. It appears to be presented as a matter of logical necessity that such a path exists, but actually there is no such logical necessity; rather, commonly made assumptions in evolution theory require the existence of such a path. Once one admits this, one must admit also that large parts of the argument are, as often is the case in science, hypothetical in character, but it seems it would be too dangerous to bring this fact to readers' attention.

Professor Brian Josephson

Department of Physics

University of Cambridge

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