Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Evolutionary psychology: The selfish gene in the art world ...

In The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions, American-born but Paris-based mathematician David Berlinski, writes,

More often than not, the disjunction between what scientific figures claim and what they believe represents a strikingly successful exercise in self-delusion.

When it was first published, Richard Dawkins's The Selfish Gene took the intellectual world by storm. Conversion experiences among young men were widely reported. They still are. The idea that we are all "lumbering robots" designed by natural selection to advance the interests of our genes has become one of those things believed widely because widely believed. The mystery has even been celebrated in art. First promoted at the Cambridge Science Festival, Lifetime: Songs of Life & Evolution is a drama whose "mission [is] to spread the good word on evolution." There are tributes to Richard Dawkins, one song entitled "I'm a Selfish Gene and I'm Programmed to Survive." Although I have not seen it, I am persuaded that this theatrical endeavor is horrible beyond measure. (p. 176)

Ah yes. One should not judge a book by its cover or a show by its hoardings, but in some situations one can safely say that a show does sound, well, ... missable.

If we must all decide how to get home from the show in a hailstorm, we really do not want to depend on the "Selfish Gene Who is Programmed to Survive" (as if).

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