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What Darwin Got Wrong

3.02  ·  Rating details ·  102 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
What Darwin Got Wrong is a remarkable book, one that dares to challenge the theory of natural selection as an explanation for how evolution works---a devastating critique not in the name of religion but in the name of good science. Combining the results of cutting-edge work in experimental biology with crystal-clear philosophical arguments, Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini mo ...more
ebook, 288 pages
Published March 1st 2011 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published January 1st 2010)
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David M
Jul 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to David by: Justin
Friend Justin (who has several names, some too crude to mention here) brought Fodor to my attention. Given my interest in philosophy and opposition to Dawkins, Pinker et al, I was, as they say, happy as a pig rolling in its own fecal matter.

The title of course is a knowing provocation (remember when Marx was the 19th century thinker everyone had an opinion about? those were the days). My guess is that it was chosen by the publisher, not the authors. Darwin's names has become a kind of shibbolet
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
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
Jan 05, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Koen Crolla
Oct 21, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biology
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.
Chris Lawrence
Jul 31, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
Feb 20, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Feb 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini are atheists who have no quarrel with evolution (common descent with modifications) per se, they merely think neo-darwinian natural selection theory is inadequate for explaining it. What Darwin Got Wrong is the book where they make their case.

The authors make many empirical criticisms of neo-darwinism. These are difficult to dismiss, since they are drawn from what many current biologists are learning and saying. The authors think recent trends in biology show that n
Feb 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you believe that natural selection is the mechanism of evolution, you also necessarily believe in some kind of God (which you shouldn''s lazy metaphysics). Lucky for us naturalists, as this book makes abundantly clear, evolution doesn't work that way.
Rodrigo Medel
Nov 03, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
In my opinion, Fodor risked his prestige as philosopher and cognitive scientist by writing this book. There are so many misunderstandings of basic conceptual issues in evolutionary biology that arguments cannot be taken seriously. Only for Fodor fans.
Ben Wanamaker
A short, helpful overview of the book's philosophical aims
Andreas Schmidt
Troppo tecnico?
E' un libro eccessivamente tecnico, non per i contenuti, ma per il fatto che si traggano conclusioni sull'evoluzione utilizzando come base del linguaggio la filosofia per parlare di concetti tecnici (servirebbero una decina di testi per capire a che teorie gli autori vanno a riferirsi con "free rider" eccetera, per chi non è addetto ai lavori). Mi lascia parecchio perplesso il capitolo conclusivo, in cui si cerca di definire attraverso la pura logica filosofica, la realtà tangibil
Jul 14, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book is very self-indulgent and tedious. The introduction and first chapter is littered with normative terms that has nothing to do with either philosophy or science, and comparisons to behaviorism which doesn't do justice to either. It continues in the following chapters, making out the science part of the book. This is the part I object to the most, because I don't trust science being taught to me by someone who's clearly on an agenda. It's also filled with unnecessary complex language an ...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
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
Apr 17, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 26, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: evolution
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.
Billie Pritchett
Feb 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biology
Ugh, my book reviews have just gotten longer and longer. I wrote one about this book but the review runs to, like, five pages, and so I didn't want to post it here and eat up space. But the review is comprehensive. Hope it helps. Best wishes, BP
John Parrish
Interesting arguments brought up but many of their premises are false by starting with a belief in god and are not able to match their ideas up with some of the reality painted by Darwin. Also, it is pretty well established that Darwin did get quite a bit wrong, but modern biology has fixed all of that and this book isn't offering anything new.
Very informative, this book helped me pin down the reason Origin of Species by Charles Darwin was such an epic fail.
relativismo epistemologico

dargli una stella e' dargli troppo.
Riccardo Ricci
rated it really liked it
Dec 06, 2016
rated it liked it
Mar 06, 2012
rated it it was ok
Mar 17, 2013
Anson Mackay
rated it it was ok
Sep 13, 2011
David Bahry
rated it did not like it
May 07, 2016
John Wallace
rated it really liked it
Sep 28, 2015
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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.

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“This is not a book about God; nor about intelligent design; nor about creationism. Neither of us is into any of those. We thought we’d best make that clear from the outset, because our main contention in what follows will be that there is something wrong–quite possibly fatally wrong–with the theory of natural selection; and we are aware that, even among those who are not quite sure what it is, allegiance to Darwinism has become a litmus for deciding who does, and who does not, hold a ‘properly scientific’ world view. ‘You must choose between faith in God and faith in Darwin; and if you want to be a secular humanist, you’d better choose the latter’. So we’re told.” 1 likes
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