John Maynard Smith


Born
in London, The United Kingdom
January 06, 1920

Died
April 19, 2004

Website

Genre

Influences


John Maynard Smith FRS was a British evolutionary geneticist; one of the most important biologists of his era.

Average rating: 4.1 · 1,629 ratings · 83 reviews · 26 distinct worksSimilar authors
The Origins of Life: From t...

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4.08 avg rating — 184 ratings — published 1999 — 6 editions
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The Major Transitions in Ev...

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4.22 avg rating — 95 ratings — published 1995 — 5 editions
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The Theory of Evolution

3.98 avg rating — 83 ratings — published 1976 — 4 editions
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Evolution and the Theory of...

really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 76 ratings — published 1982 — 4 editions
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Evolutionary Genetics

4.22 avg rating — 32 ratings — published 1989 — 4 editions
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Animal Signals

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really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 17 ratings — published 2003 — 2 editions
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Shaping Life: Genes, Embryo...

3.80 avg rating — 25 ratings — published 1998 — 5 editions
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Did Darwin Get It Right?: E...

3.61 avg rating — 18 ratings — published 1988 — 3 editions
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The Evolution of Sex

really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 14 ratings — published 1978 — 3 editions
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Mathematical Ideas in Biology

really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 10 ratings — published 1968 — 2 editions
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More books by John Maynard Smith…
“In living organisms, nucleic acid molecules are the only indefinite hereditary replicators, or at least they were until the invention of language and music.”
John Maynard Smith, The Major Transitions in Evolution

“Thus three conclusions emerge from the eye story: (1) it is easier to inherit a ‘vision acquisition device’ than a full-blown hard-wired visual analyser; (2) the visual analyser, once ‘set up’, is refractory to radical restructuring—hence the existence of a critical period in its development in cats; (3) the eye seems to have evolved in steps from a light-sensitive, innervated cell to our complex organ by common evolutionary mechanisms. Something similar may have been taking place in evolution of the language organ, and may be occurring during individual development. An argument, put forward forcefully by Noam Chomsky and his followers, refers to the ‘poverty of stimulus’. Most permutations of word order and grammatical items in a sentence leads to incomprehensible gibberish. There is no way that children could learn without some internal ‘guide’ which sentence is grammatical and which is not, only on the basis of heard examples. To make matters worse, many parents do not correct their children’s grammatical mistakes (they seem to be much more worried about the utterance of four-letter words). Recent investigations clearly confirm that children’s ‘instinctive’ understanding of grammatical intricacies, between the ages 2 and 4, is far better than one would expect from a conventional learning mechanism. Thus there seems to be a ‘language acquisition device’ (LAD) in the brain, which must be triggered by linguistic input so that its working ultimately leads to proper language. It is the LAD, and not a fully developed linguistic processor, which seems to be innate.”
John Maynard Smith, The Origins of Life: From the Birth of Life to the Origin of Language

“There is no theoretical reason to expect evolutionary lineages to increase in complexity with time, and no empirical evidence that they do so. Nevertheless, eukaryotic cells are more complex than prokaryotic ones, animals and plants are more complex than protists, and so on. This increase in complexity may have been achieved as a result of a series of major evolutionary transitions. These involved changes in the way information is stored and transmitted.
[The major evolutionary transitions, Nature 374, 227 - 232 (16 March 1994)]”
John Maynard Smith

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