G. C. Williams RIP

G. C. Williams (never known as “George”), one of the last generation’s most famous evolutionists, died on Wednesday.  He was best known for his work on sex ratios and inclusive fitness, and above all for his book Adaptation and Natural Selection (1966), which, along with Dawkins’s Selfish Gene, was enormously influential in promoting the gene-centered view of evolution among my generation of biologists.

Michael Ruse wrote a nice obituary in The Chronicle of Higher Education. and, over at Edge, John Brockman offers his own reminiscences about Williams, an excerpt from Williams’s writing, and some older tributes to the man by various scientific luminaries.

George C. Williams (1926-2010)

12 thoughts on “G. C. Williams RIP

  1. Not exactly a comment on this post. I am a psychologist who is greatly interested in biological evolution. I would be interested in Professor Coyne’s reaction to the work of Michael Lynch who, if I understand him, argues that (if I am quoting him accurately)”natural selection is a caricature of evolution.”
    The introductory psychology book that I teach from defines evolution as basically a change in gene frequecies. Is this a caricature? I realize that Professor Coyne has other things to do besides educating psychologists.

    1. Mike is a smart guy, and I wouldn’t want to react to that one sentence alone. If you provide a link to where he said it, I’ll try to oblige.

  2. All my days won’t be dances of delight when I’m gone
    And the sands will be shifting from my sight when I’m gone
    Can’t add my name into the fight while I’m gone
    So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here

  3. I am one of George’s sons-in-law. To your comment that he was “…(never known as “George”)…” George was known to me as “George”. George was also known to his wife Doris as “George”.

    1. Sorry–I meant “known to evolutionists“. In my career I never heard him called anything other than “G. C. Williams”. (And, of course, I may not have known some scientists who called him “George.”)

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