You may recall Suzan Mazur’s breathless reporting on “The Altenberg 16” (which she has apparently turned into an online book, Altenberg 16: An Exposé of the Evolution Industry.
Her thesis has been not only that modern evolutionary biology is rotten to the core, but that we evolutionists all know it and are desperately trying to cover up a crumbling paradigm. Her interviews with people like Stuart Pivar and my old boss, Dick Lewontin, are really funny: Mazur desperately wants them all to admit that evolutionary biology is bankrupt, no matter what they think. Instead of finding out what they think, she presses and presses them to agree with her. It seems that most of these hilarious interviews have disappeared from the internet, but you can get a taste of them here and here.
Well, of course she quite likes What Darwin Got Wrong, but claims that it doesn’t go far enough in exposing the corrupt evolution industry. In other words, it wasn’t looney enough!
There is no mention of right or wrong fresher perspectives like that of Stuart Pivar, whose toroidal model Piattelli-Palmarini found initially interesting, or of geologist Mark McMenamin, who thinks the famous Dolf Seilacher Namibian tongue fossil is a flattened morphogenetic torus, a “paleotorus”.
Some of these scientists have discussed with me at length in online interviews various mechanisms of evolution — particularly, Stuart Newman — saltational mechanisms of embryonic development, chemical oscillation, etc. Scott Gilbert, who gets no attention in What Darwin Got Wrong, referred to “five main mechanisms for the generation of anatomical diversity” in our Q&A last year: heterochrony, heterotopy, heterometry, heterotypy, heterocyberny. Almost every scientist I’ve spoken to, however, does admit that the PROCESS of evolution remains elusive.
I was glad to see that the Italian edition of the Fodor, Piattelli-Palmarini book references my coverage (“la saggista e giornalista”) of the Altenberg 16 saga and (“fieramente indipendente”) Scoop Media. Lynn Margulis too is acknowledged in Italian via our phone interview from Oxford, in which she recounts how she and Francisco Ayala pronounced neo-Darwinism dead one night at a meeting with Whiteheadian philosopher John Cobb. Philosopher and zoologist Stan Salthe with his “poisonous” view that Darwin’s theory is “unexplainable caprice from top to bottom” is cited in Italian as well, and rightly so, because Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini agree to a degree.
. . . What happens next as the neo-Darwinist house of cards collapses and the turnaround in evolutionary science proceeds with the circle drawn wider and wider to include more of the public? “The Jerry Coyne crowd will just fade into the background,” one evolutionary scientist whispered to me. . .
Nice! I’m sad that she doesn’t identify that “evolutionary scientist,” who apparenently had to “whisper” out of fear that our evil, hornéd cabal would bring down the wrath of Darwin. But I’m flattered and honored to have the crowd of sane evolutionary biologists named after me!
Mazur is a real hoot, and I really don’t worry about her attacks on evolution because, so far as I can determine, nobody takes her seriously.