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And then there's this huge penumbra of pseudo-science around the subject. It's what I think of as neo-creationism. In Kansas nothing can be explained by evolution; it's wrong. That's it. To a lot of evolutionary psychologists, though, everything in human society — war, peace, rape, marriage, the lot — can be explained by the pressure to pass on genes. But if everything can be explained, then nothing can be explained. You don't need any experiments, it's in the great Darwinian Bible. I've seen evolutionary explanations of acne, of gossiping, of ballroom dancing, the lot. It's a parlor game called name and explain. Just as for creationists, all this needs nothing more than belief. The infantile Darwinists are in a situation where they can't lose. If you find everything in the Bible or the Origin there's no point in doing science.

Evolution is to social scientists as statues are to birds. It's a convenient platform on which to drop ill-digested ideas. An odd thing about evolutionary psychology — which is what most of the public (and, as I know to my cost, quite a few book reviewers) see as the centre of the science — is that it is almost absent from the practice of evolution itself. It may be talked about in psychological conferences, but it is never mentioned in evolutionary meetings. I go to dozens of them. People argue about the fossil records, about DNA, about animal behavior, about kin selection, about the nature of species — everything is open; but evolutionary psychology is, in the eyes of evolutionists, more or less a dead duck. I've never seen any of its supporters at a scientific meeting about evolution, either. There's a kind of parallel Darwinian universe in the arts faculty out there — and I don't think the arts faculty has much useful to say about science.

JB: What are you trying to accomplish with Darwin's Ghost?

JONES: I'm doing it in part for Dr. Johnson's reason, which is that no man in his right sense has ever written except for money. But I also did it because there was a gap that needed to be filled. There's a lot of good writing about evolutionary biology, but there's no good single book about evolution. Gould writes passionately and well about fossils; Dawkins about natural selection; Pinker about behavior; Diamond about our own biological past — but every one of those topics is only a small part of the story of evolution, and only one chapter (and for humans not even that) in Origin of Species.

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