25 Jul 15
7 Jan 14
Index: list of all reviewed books.
Goal of this site
philosophy and evolution
(is category in Introduction page)
10 Jan 14
27 Nov 13
30 Aug 13
13 Jan 14
Peter Godfrey-Smith (2014) 'Philosophy of Biology', Princeton University Press, hardback, eBook.
Info. See homesite Peter Godfrey-Smith
Charles H. Lineweaver, Paul C. W. Davies, Michael Ruse (Eds.) "Complexity and the Arrow of Time", Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2013. 369 pp
Review: "Eric Chaisson offers data showing a trend in what he calls energy rate density, understood as a proxy for complexity, over the history of life (and even over the much longer history of the universe)... biologist David Krakauer's later chapter discusses the progressive transfer in evolution of information from environment to genome, or in the case of humans, to brains via learning. ... Paul Davies presents a new-to-me argument that cancers are morphologically, behaviorally, and genetically more complex than the host tissue in which they originate... In another fun paper, Stuart Kauffman argues that the well-defined spaces in which physics typically represents change are not available in evolutionary biology, because in biology the relevant variables involve function. In evolution, Kauffman notes, "Not only do we not know what WILL happen, we don't even know what CAN happen". ... Also engaging is philosopher William Wimsatt's treatment of what he calls generative entrenchment, the dependence of later stages in embryonic development on earlier stages ... The volume closes on a skeptical note, with theologian and philosopher Philip Clayton expressing doubt that a unified, interdisciplinary science of complexity is possible." (Science, 13 Dec 13)
Kostas Kampourakis (Editor) (2013) 'The Philosophy of Biology: A Companion for Educators' (History, Philosophy and Theory of the Life Sciences), Springer.
31 chapters, including chapters about evolutionary biology, religion and intelligent design. Part of the Introduction is available at amazon, and the first two pages of each chapter is available at Springer.
Massimo Pugliucci, Maarten Boudry, Eds. (2013) "Philosophy of Pseudoscience. Reconsidering the Demarcation Problem", University of Chicago Press.
Info: In this volume, the contributors seek to answer this question, known to philosophers of science as "the demarcation problem." ... this volume make a rousing case for the unequivocal importance of reflecting on the separation between pseudoscience and sound science. ... How to Demarcate after the (Alleged) Demise of the Demarcation Problem.
Do the authors succeed in a new demarcation criterion? The 'info' link (publisher) gives the Contents (with all authors, including Michael Shermer, Michael Ruse, Donald Prothero) and free chapters.
The first 3 authors present a short history of the Demarcation problem (Popper, Laudan). Massimo Pugliucci presents two classifications, the first: established science – soft science – proto/quasi-science – pseudoscience. In the second classification he presents a useful two-dimensional graph for classifying sciences according to an empirical and a theoretical dimension. Michael Ruse presents his classification (and evolution) of evolutionary science: From Pseudoscience to Popular Science, from Popular Science to Professional Science.
"The Structure of Scientific Revolutions: 50th Anniversary Edition"
by Thomas S. Kuhn (1962, 2012) (with an introduction by Ian Hacking) Univ. Chicago Press. 264 pp.
"For the 50th-anniversary edition, the University of Chicago Press has included an introductory essay by renowned Canadian philosopher Ian Hacking.
His introduction provides a helpful guide to some of the thornier philosophical issues, and gives hints as to how historians and philosophers of science have parted with Kuhn. ... The field of science studies has changed markedly since 1962. Few philosophers still subscribe to radical incommensurability; many historians focus on sociological or cultural features that received no play in Kuhn's work; and topics in the life sciences now dominate, whereas Kuhn focused closely on physics."
Science: (splendid review): "Put simply, the terms of the new way of working are not translatable into those of the old way. The inability to straightforwardly translate between competing paradigms without interpretation is their "incommensurability." The tree of knowledge grows, says Kuhn, but it is also pruned. Philosophers, perhaps understandably, treated this notion with alarm, incredulity, and sometimes derision. American philosopher and mathematician Hilary Putnam declared it to be "totally incoherent". Nevertheless, it has not proved easy, after Kuhn, to formulate a way of understanding how paradigms change without invoking incommensurability or something similar".
"Am I Making Myself Clear? A Scientist's Guide to Talking to the Public"
by Cornelia Dean, Harvard University Press: 2009. 288 pp.
"I've never read a better, more thorough guide to science communication in all its forms." (Nature)
"The Intelligibility of Nature. How Science Makes Sense of the World"
by Peter Dear, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2006. 254 pp
"Written for a nonspecialist audience, Peter Dear's The Intelligibility of Science argues that such prescriptive debates within science are integral to its development. The classic story of Newton provides the early turning point in Dear's concise and ambitious essay. Ranging from Aristotle and Lavoisier to Maxwell and Darwin and from Descartes to Einstein and Bohr, Dear portrays the development of modern science through the shifting accounts of what it means to make nature intelligible. Dear (a historian of science at Cornell University) distinguishes science as natural philosophy, an account of what the world really is and how it works, from science as an instrumental tool, a collection of techniques useful for making predictions about the world and for changing it."
Science, 7 Sep 07.
by Ronald N. Giere, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2006. 168 pp.
Giere's book makes a serious case for constructivism, but those with strong objectivist inclinations will not be moved.
"Theories on the Scrap Heap. Scientists and Philosophers on the Falsification, Rejection, and Replacement of Theories"
by John Losee University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA, 2005. 216 pp.
Review: "Theories on the Scrap Heap provides a lucid, nicely consolidated introduction to the appraisal of scientific theories. We no longer talk of phlogiston, caloric, electrical fluid, pangenes, bodily humors, or immobile continents. Many theories thus end up in the wastebin. In a clever turnabout, he asks not how investigators establish evidential support for theories but why they find certain theories inadequate, even if once widely accepted." (Science 10 February 2006). This book could be very relevant for the evaluation of the theory of evolution and for the critics of evolution.
Conjectures and Refutations, fifth edition.
by Karl Popper (1989)
"Try to learn what people are discussing nowadays in science. Find out where difficulties arise and take interest in disagreements. These are the questions which you should take up." (page 129).
Against Method, third impr
by Paul Feyerabend (1976)
"The first step in our criticism of customary concepts is to step outside the circle and either to invent a new conceptual system or import such a system from outside science, from religion, from mythology." (page 68)
Unended Quest. An Intellectual Autobiography, Fontana paperback.
by Karl Popper (1976)
Popper and Feyerabend gave me, as a traditional trained biologist, the reasons to pay attention to criticism of evolution.
"For years I found that people had great difficulty in admitting that theories are, logically considered, the same as hypotheses.
The prevailing view was that hypotheses are as yet unproved theories, and that theories are proved or established hypotheses.
And even those who admitted the hypothetical character of all theories still believed that they needed some justification; that, if they
could not be shown to be true, their truth had to be highly probable.
The decisive point in all this, the hypothetical character of all scientific theories, was to my mind a fairly commonplace consequence
of the Einsteinian revolution, which had shown that not even the most successfully tested theory, such as Newton's, should be regarded as more than a hypothesis, an approximation to the truth." (page 81)
"Evolution. The History of an Idea" (revised edition)
by Peter Bowler (1989); and (2003: third, revised expanded edition).
This book contains a short and balanced treament of creationism (second edition Chapter 12, p354-364) in which creationist claims are taken seriously and their value and implications are discussed in a patient and very reasonable way. It is balanced because he criticises evolutionists as well as creationists. This chapter sets a standard for dealing with with the Creation-Evolution Controversy:
Indeed, creationists hope to win the battle by continuously pointing to unsolved problems and unanswered questions, keeping evolutionists forever busy. At the same time they ignore substantial scientific progress.
- Existing scientific theories cannot solve all the problems confronting them
- but alternative theories face even greater difficulties
- Evolutionists cannot be expected to answer all the questions put to them
- Scientists who claim that evolution theory solved all the problems give a misrepresentation of science to the public
- Creationists need to present elaborated theories for detailed scientific scrutiny
- but it is difficult to see how their theories can be elaborated in enough detail if they depend on miracles
- For pedagogical reasons one needs to concentrate on the strong points of existing theories
In later publications Peter Bowler apparently got impatient with the religious critics of evolution. See: Pennock's Primer for Defending Science a review of Tower of Babel by Peter J. Bowler.
21 Nov 2013
20 Sep 2013
1 Aug 2013
William J. Sutherland, David Spiegelhalter, Mark Burgman (2013) "Policy: Twenty tips for interpreting scientific claims", Nature 20 November 2013.
This list will help non-scientists to interrogate advisers and to grasp the limitations of evidence: Differences and chance cause variation; No measurement is exact; Bias is rife; Bigger is usually better for sample size; Correlation does not imply causation; etc etc etc. This list could be usefull for dealing with the 'evolution-creation-controversy'.
Paul A. Offit (2013) "Do You Believe in Magic? The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine",
Harper, New York.
Offit is the author of Autism's False Prophets (see below on this page).
Review: Science (20 Sep 2013): "Do You Believe in Magic? achieves Offit's aim of taking "a critical look at the field of alternative medicine" and separating fact from myth. Informative and well-written, the book deserves a wide audience among the general public, scientists, and health care professionals. ... He also devotes a pair of chapters to the cruel deceptions of cancer quackery. Although Offit provides short summaries of the hazards of alternative remedies and the lack of supporting evidence for therapies such as herbals and megavitamins, his emphasis is on analyzing how health frauds arise and prosper".
Donald R. Prothero (2013) "Reality Check: How Science Deniers Threaten Our Future", Indiana University Press (2013)
Also from Prothero: Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters.
Review Nature: "The shabby tactics of science denialists sparked this astute exposition of what we lose when science is sidelined. Palaeontologist Donald Prothero lays out key cases, such as former US President Ronald Reagan's misbegotten Strategic Defense Initiative and the demonization of biologist Rachel Carson for her work on pesticides. The usual suspects – from creationists to anti-vaccinationists – are examined too. Ultimately, Prothero argues, by claiming that clear findings on climate change, biodiversity loss and overpopulation are false, deniers inch us closer to catastrophic planetary tipping points."
Michael D. Gordin (2012) "The Pseudoscience Wars. Immanuel Velikovsky and the Birth of the Modern Fringe", University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2012. 301 pp
Review: Science: "That such an interesting story could emerge out of what superficially appears to be a very obscure topic is one of the unexpected joys of the book. The thesis of Velikovsky's major work, Worlds in Collision, sounds so ludicrous that its immense popularity seems incredible. ... The Velikovsky affair is a story of major scientists trying to grapple with what to do about someone they deemed a serious crackpot. Velikovsky, for his part, attempted in fits and starts to find inroads into respectability. Velikovsky was not crazy, Gordin emphasizes. He was simply crankish–totally obsessed, completely convinced, interpersonally difficult. ... Nonetheless, those who are interested in how bad ideas start, how they diffuse, how they covet and resist confrontation, and how they wax and wane in popularity over time will find much food for thought in this gripping book."
Nature: "The book also covers Lysenkoism and young-Earth geology in depth. Velikovsky's Worlds in Collision became a best-seller. But Velikovsky wanted to be recognized as a bona fide scholar. He was stung by harsh reviews. ... Velikovsky was simply not speaking the same language as the scientific community, yet his books were received uncritically by many of the public. ... There are fascinating and alarming parallels between these outsider narratives and Christian creationists' use of pseudoscientific arguments to lend legitimacy to their cause.
Nicoli Nattrass (2012) "The AIDS Conspiracy: Science Fights Back" Columbia University Press, Hardcover
Margaret Wertheim Walker (2011) 'Physics on the Fringe: Smoke Rings, Circlons, and Alternative Theories of Everything', 336 pp.
"Why listen to outsider physicists?
They may not be Albert Einstein or Paul Dirac. Their ideas aren't going to be taught at universities such as Princeton and Harvard. But their theories are a store of imaginative thinking about how our Universe might be constructed. This is an important cultural phenomenon – like studying the diaries of foot soldiers alongside those of generals. Some of the works, especially Carter's, are also aesthetic achievements. Most of all, they give us a window on to the role of science in our lives. These people want to be at home in the Universe. They believe that science can provide us with an understanding of the cosmos, but feel alienated by mainstream theories. (...) Today's cosmological explanations have become incomprehensible to many people. This is one reason why religious fundamentalism has become reactive to science. If mainstream science ceases to provide us with an accessible picture of our world, it is not surprising that some folks begin to look elsewhere." (From: Nature, 479, 40 (03 November 2011)
Naomi Oreskes, Erik M. Conway (2010) 'Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming', Bloomsbury, New York, 2010.
Oreskes is the author of a previous book The Rejection of Continental Drift: Theory and Method in American Earth Science.
The website of Merchants of Doubt.
"Because it is so thorough in disclosing how major policy decisions have been delayed or distorted, Merchants of Doubt deserves a wide readership". "There are many reasons why the United States has failed to act on global warming, but at least one is the confusion raised by Bill Nierenberg, Fred Seitz, and Fred Singer.".
- When doubt becomes a weapon, Nature 22 July 2010
- American Scientist:
"Oreskes and Conway's book is the most powerful exploration to date of how climate-change denialists managed to infiltrate high ranks of the Republican establishment and to block the translation of scientific facts into intelligent action".
"if science gets in your way, you can always make up some of your own.".
- Free chapter 6 "The Denial of Global Warming" at the NCSE website (12 Jul 2011).
Greg Critser (2010) 'Eternity Soup: Inside the Quest to End Aging', Harmony, 256 pp.
Mike Hulme (2009) 'Why We Disagree About Climate Change: Understanding Controversy, Inaction and Opportunity',
Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2009. 432 pp
James Hoggan, Richard Littlemore (2009) "Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming",
Greystone Books: 2009. 224 pp.
Hans C. Ohanian (2009) 'Einstein's Mistakes: The Human Failings of Genius', W. W. Norton & Company
Of the approximately 180 original scientific papers that Einstein published in his lifetime, about 40 are infested with mistakes. For instance, Einstein's first mathematical proof of the famous formula E = mc2 was incomplete and only approximately valid; he struggled with this problem for many years, but he never found a complete proof (better mathematicians did).
Compare with Darwin!
Ronald H. Fritze (2009)
"Invented Knowledge: False History, Fake Science and Pseudo-Religions" Reaktion Books Hardcover 272 pp.
Dutch: "Zo maken pseudohistorici liever gebruik van de lacunes in de kennis om hun claims te ondersteunen, dan dat ze historisch feitenmateriaal in zijn geheel beschouwen" (nrc)
Seth Kalichman (2009)
"Denying AIDS: Conspiracy Theories, Pseudoscience, and Human Tragedy, Springer: 2009. 205 pp.
"Kalichman dismisses denialists' attempts to portray themselves as intellectually honourable dissidents who question accepted wisdom. He draws clear distinctions between dissidence and denialism; the latter, he says, is merely a destructive attempt to undermine the science."
Review: Nature 459, 168 (14 May 2009).
David Michaels (2008)
"Doubt is Their Product: How Industry's Assault on Science Threatens Your Health", Oxford University Press.
Lawrence Solomon (2008)
'The Deniers: The World Renowned Scientists Who Stood Up Against Global Warming Hysteria, Political Persecution, and Fraud **And those who are too fearful to do so' Upd Exp edition (Hardcover)
Paul A. Offit (2008) Autism's False Prophets. Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure.
Columbia University Press, New York, 2008. 322 pp.
Reviewed in: Science 12 December 2008: Vol. 322. no. 5908, pp. 1635 - 1636.
Daniel Lee Kleinman et al (eds) (2008) 'Controversies in Science and Technology: From Maize to Menopause (Science and Technology in Society) (v. 1) (Paperback)
- 'Controversies in Science & Technology Volume 2: From Climate to Chromosomes'. (Hardcover)
Martín López Corredoira & Carlos Castro Perelman (Editors) (2008) "Against the Tide. A Critical Review by Scientists of How Physics and Astronomy Get Done.", Universal Publishers, 265 pages.
"Nobody should have a monopoly of the truth in this universe. The censorship and suppression of challenging ideas against the tide of mainstream research, the blacklisting of scientists, for instance, is neither the best way to do and filter science, nor to promote progress in the human knowledge.".
info and sample.
Free download pdf.
Seth Shulman (2006) Undermining Science: Suppression and Distortion in the Bush Administration,
202 pp, Berkeley: University of California Press.
The subject of Seth Shulman's book is the overt manipulation and abuse of science under the administration of George W. Bush.
Topics: Stem-cell research, denial of global climate change and refusal of the Kyoto Protocol, contraception, sexual abstinence,
prescription drug protocols, Endangered Species Act (eye-opening chapter).
Michael Brooks (2005) 13 things that do not make sense. New Scientist magazine, 19 March 2005. (free)
Stubborn facts and observations in medicine, cosmology, astronomy, and physics that should not exist according to orthodox scientific theories (evolution is not in the list). Lesson: unexplained facts exist in the exact sciences.
Robert Ehrlich (2003) "Eight preposterous propositions" Princeton University Press.
Scientists approach a controversial theory from the opposite perspective of lawyers. Lawyers are paid to make the best case possible for their client, a person they may believe to be guilty. Scientists on the other hand, are more like jury members. They judge a theory by fairly weighing all the evidence on each side. But unlike a jury, which has to make up its mind once and for all, scientists must continue to remain open-minded to contrary evidence even after they have accepted a theory as being probably true (page 2).
The book has been favorably reviewed by Walter Gratzer "A healthy draught of scepticism", Nature 426, 766-767 18 Dec 2003.
Robert Ehrlich (2001)
"Nine Crazy Ideas in Science" Princeton University Press.
This book contains a list which is very useful for evaluating a number of unorthodox ideas in biology and evolution.
Nine unorthodox theories are presented in nine chapters. I enjoyed the chapter 'AIDS is not caused by HIV'
(Peter Duesberg's theory; Ehrlich is somewhat biased against the theory) and 'The solar system has two suns' (meteorite impacts and extinctions). The Introduction contains a useful checklist with 10 questions to determine whether a crazy idea might be true.
No chapter about creationism, but the book is very useful for learning to evaluate unorthodox ideas.
- Is the idea nutty?
- Who proposed the idea?
- How attached is the proposer to the idea?
- Does the proposer use statistics in an honest way?
- Does the proposer have an agenda?
- How many free parameters does the theory contain?
- How well is the idea backed up by references to other work?
- Does the new idea try to explain too much or too little?
- How open are proposers about their data and methods?
- How well does the idea agree with common sense?
Peter H. Duesberg (1996) "Inventing the AIDS virus", Regnery Publishing, paperback, 722 pages.
Peter Duesberg, the most important critic of the HIV/AIDS hypothesis, explains why it has not been proven that HIV is the cause of AIDS. AIDS will never be the same after reading this book. The well documented story of a scientific controversy by one of its main critics. The clash between orthodoxy and a growing number of dissenters. The core of the book is chapter 6 in which Duesberg shows why HIV fails all three postulates of Koch. Therefore, HIV cannot be the cause of AIDS. The perfect correlation between HIV and AIDS is inevitable because HIV is part of the defintion of AIDS. I am unable to assess his bias, but see Robert Ehrlich's Nine Crazy Ideas in Science.
There is a site aimed at debunking claims denying that HIV is the cause of AIDS: AIDSTruth.org.
There are obvious parallels with evolution denial. See: Science
15 June 2007 Vol. 316. no. 5831, p. 1554.
Intelligent Design theorist Michael Behe states: "the human immunodeficiency virus HIV, the virus that causes AIDS" (The Edge of Evolution, page 137). There are more books: The Origin, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory
by Henry H. Bauer (2007).
Richard Webster (1996) "Why Freud Was Wrong: Sin, Science and Psychoanalysis", Fontana Press 704 pages
The claim of the book is that Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, was misled and misleading, bewitched by the simplicity of his own ideas.
Arthur Strahler (1987) "Science and Earth History. The Evolution/Creation Controversy." Prometheus Books.
A 552 page encyclopaedic work about the evolution/creation controversy.
Aquatic Ape Hypothesis and Elaine Morgan (wiki article).
A controversial theory about human evolution not accepted by mainstream science.
"The appeal of the theory has been explained in several ways:
- The theory appears to offer absolute answers while orthodox science is qualified and reserved, a situation which has great appeal to students and the public
- Unusual ideas challenge the authority of science and scientists, which appeals to antiscience sentiments
- The AAH as developed by Morgan has a strong feminist component, which particularly appeals to a specific, feminist audience
- The AAH can be explained simply and easily, lacking the myriad details and complicated theorizing involved in dealing with primary sources and materials
- The AAH uses negative arguments, pointing to the flaws and gaps in conventional theories; though the criticisms of mainstream science and theories can be legitimate, in this case, as with Creationism and AIDS denialism the flaws in one theory do not automatically prove a proposed alternative is true
- The consensus views of conventional anthropology are complicated, require specialized knowledge and qualified answers, and the investment of considerable time to understand."
www How to be Anti-Darwinian
A useful page with a classification system of Darwin critics, based upon which part of neo-Darwinism is rejected.
www James A Shapiro,
(The University of Chicago)
A Third Way (Alternatives to Creationism and Darwinism)":
"I will focus on a growing convergence between biology and information science which offers the potential for scientific investigation of possible intelligent cellular action in evolution.".
A 21st Century View of evolution.
www Letter to the New Scientist
This is a comment of the author of this site (Gert Korthof) on an article of Paul Davies: Life force, New Scienitst 18 Sept 1999, pp27-30. The page disappeared from their site (thank-you for Leandro Saracino for the notification), but it is in the printed edition and I have a copy of the letter.