What Darwin Got Wrong
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What Darwin Got Wrong

3.07 of 5 stars 3.07  ·  rating details  ·  60 ratings  ·  18 reviews
This is not a book about God, or about intelligent design. Rather, here is a remarkable book, one that dares to challenge natural selection—not in the name of religion but in the name of good science. Most scientists are so terrified of religious attacks on the theory of evolution that it is never examined critically.

But there are major scientific and philosophical problem...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published February 16th 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published February 1st 2010)
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Modern Hermeneut
Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini invite us to pay some overdue attention to the specter of intentional agency that haunts most of the adaptationist explanations that pass for scholarship these days. One can understand their dismay at the appalling lack of experimental evidence that often attends these explanations.

And yet, Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini fail to persuade. Their first problem is one of style. They obscure their argument behind an accretion of extraneous rhetorical scaffolding--most no...more
The title of Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini's (F & P) book is What Darwin Got Wrong, and true to the title F & P do tell us exactly what Darwin got wrong. One problem with this is that modern students of biology do not read Darwin, and unless they care about Darwin's thoughts in particular, they shouldn't. Any modern college level textbook on biology has more to say than Darwin, and will say it in a way that is more comprehensible. The correctness of neo-Darwinism does not depend on Darwi...more
I hate to admit it, but I bought this book because of the covers. I was interested in the theme, but the real reason I immediately bought it and started reading it were the covers.
As the authors put it, it is "an attack on the most influential scientific orthodoxy of the last 150 years". Although at times demanding a lot of attention, there are humorous parts, beginning with the introduction bearing the name "Terms of Engagement" :), as well as the Granny Gravity bit.
The authors claim that there...more
Why has this book received such bad press? It is not, strictly speaking, a bad book. At least its overarching argument is not a bad one. So why the vitriolic dismissals of it? I believe there are two main reasons for this.

The first and likely most prevalent reason is Fodor's characteristic hubris. To a certain extent, when Fodor is writing in his own field (i.e. philosophy of psychology and cognitive science) he can get away with writing as if those who disagree with him don't know what they ar...more
Jun 23, 2010 Brian rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: a/theistic philosophers
I'm of the a priori opinion that I liked this book; however, post hoc I'm nonplussed. As it's a serious book calling on the carpet a serious (or at least pervasive) scientific theory, I expected it to be a serious scientific critique. However, it's actually a philosophical critique -- Fodor's influence has a choke-hold on the argumentation style -- which at a minimum means you better be fluent in Latin polemic ("in medias res", "ipso facto", "a fortiori", "tout court", "inter alia", "mutatis mut...more
Rafael Ventura
This book purports to revise, but also to revoke the role of natural selection as the main causal mechanism responsible for change in the living world. By first enumerating a plethora of factors that constrain natural selection's scope of action, the authors begin the first part of the book with an interpretation of evolutionary change as largely the consequence of historical, architectural and physico-chemical contingencies (ie, changes that happened unchecked by natural selection). This revise...more
Shridhar Jayanthi
This book is recommended for two types of people. Those of philosophical inclination that wants to understand the problems in darwinism posed by modern biology (part I), and those with current biology understanding and that, given the high number of alternative non-gene hereditary mechanisms that we know of, are skeptical of the Dawkins vision of pure random probability as an engine and do not want to give in to intelligent design or guided evolution solutions.

If you're in the first group, you s...more
Chris Lawrence
I read this through once and then a lot of it a second time. I really struggled to make head or tail of their arguments, and why they thought they had such a killer critique of the theory of natural selection.

For full review please see: Smear campaign.
If you believe that natural selection is the mechanism of evolution, you also necessarily believe in some kind of God (which you shouldn't...it's lazy metaphysics). Lucky for us naturalists, as this book makes abundantly clear, evolution doesn't work that way.
Deniz Cem Önduygu
Part I: Lewontin Strikes Back (Literally, the authors thank and quote Lewontin so often that it feels like he wrote this section.) – "Everything's oh so complex, with epigenetics and stuff, you gotta stop being so modernist and reductionist and respect the pluralities and relativities... Leave all your theories and come to the Continent where there is no Grand Narrative..." Okay the last part may be reflecting my personal protest at Lewontin; Fodor and the Italian guy with the long name (this di...more
Nick Turner
The work makes the case that there are many sources of adaptive traits (not just natural selection) - rather than being free random generators exploring the gargantuan space of all possible life forms (mostly infeasible), species have evolved to search small internally-constrained spaces that include (mostly) good solutions. The argument that pigs can't grow wings is more rhetorical than scientific - whales evolved from small terrestrial animals like pigs, a more incredible evolutionary feat tha...more
I've always been suspicious of most adaptationist accounts of evolution I've read, and this book is welcome as a strong refutation of that way of thinking. That said, it's dense almost to the point of being unreadable for the average reader, and possibly boring for even the seasoned reader of evolutionary science. The authors might go too far in their outright dismissal of Natural Selection as a cause of evolutionary phenomena, I'm not educated enough in the field to say. But as a logical critiq...more
Dennis Willingham
2 star rating is based on my understanding, not the accepted quality of the book. The review I read led me to believe this was more of a lay person's book, but it requires a better understanding of college level biology than I have. It seems to me to be a couple of levels beyond "The Blind Watchmaker", "The Selfish Gene" and the like. It was a slog to finish, but I did enjoy parts of the book where I felt I learned a little biology. I found most of the philosophical discussions uncompelling, man...more
A very phylosophically challenging book, a bit too much for me. Although I didn't understand everything, they convinced me that evolution, explained by neo-Darwinists, has flaws. I think that's the main reason worth reading it. On my répertoire of must reading is Evolution: A view from the 21st century by James A. shapiro.
Koen Crolla
This doesn't merit a proper review; there's no substance here. More than just building on Gould's toxic legacy, Fodor and Piattelli have out-Discovery Instituted the Discovery Institute.
No wonder Midgley liked it.
Very informative, this book helped me pin down the reason Origin of Species by Charles Darwin was such an epic fail.
Ben Wanamaker
A short, helpful overview of the book's philosophical aims
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Jerry Alan Fodor is an American philosopher and cognitive scientist. He is the State of New Jersey Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers University and is also the author of many works in the fields of philosophy of mind and cognitive science, in which he has laid the groundwork for the modularity of mind and the language of thought hypotheses, among other ideas. Fodor is of Jewish descent.

Fodor argu...more
More about Jerry A. Fodor...
The Modularity of Mind The Mind Doesn't Work That Way: The Scope and Limits of Computational Psychology The Language of Thought (The Language and Thought Series) Lot 2: The Language of Thought Revisited Concepts: Where Cognitive Science Went Wrong (Oxford Cognitive Science Series)

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