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Another scholar who dismissed Darwinism – at the end of his life

A friend writes to say that he is very much enjoying Beyond Natural Selection, the work of scholar Robert Wesson, a researcher at the Hoover Institute in Stanford, who died in 1991, the year his book was published. Here’s the blurb:

Humans are not simply the result of a mechanistic process. In this broad inquiry, Robert Wesson proposes an approach to evolution that aims to be more in harmony with modern science and more meaningful for the comprehension of our existence. He emphasizes the importance for evolution of inner direction and the self-organizing capacities of life. This view is better able to account for the chaotic nature of the evolutionary process and the inherent propensity of complex dynamic systems to grow more complex with time.

A large number of examples of plants and animals support this idea, and Wesson’s account includes both documented scientific facts and anecdotes about the odd aberrations in natural selection. Wesson also points out that Darwinism and neo-Darwinism explain only part of the richness of contemporary biota and, in fact, even deny the reality of the most important features of evolution. Complex systems such as the human eye, the sonar apparatus of bats, and the electric organs of some fish are infused with patterns better described by the methods of modern chaos theory.

He begins with a description of Darwinian theory and the controversies over its application and then proceeds to show why natural selection cannot sufficiently account for the development of the multitude of modern species. Along the way Wesson addresses a number of issues, including the implications for Darwinian theory of the incomplete fossil record, the often extravagant and apparently useless developments around sex, and an ethical challenge to Darwin’s insistence on survival of the fittest. He explains the ways genetic patterns or attractors influence evolution and considers the relationship of heredity and environment as well as genetic and behavioural response to external signals. Wesson concludes this study by applying evolutionary theory to humans, summarizing the long term trend of evolution and discussing the relationship between the way we understand evolution and development of human values.

It’s an interesting coincidence that broadcaster Gordon Rattray Taylor also died the year his book, The Great Evolution Mystery, was published, doubting Darwin’s version of evolution.

Do people make a point of waiting till they have one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel before deciding to say what they think about the Darwin racket? Its understandable that people who have3 contributed a great deal to society don’t want to listen to abuse from Darwin’s mob of trolls, but they are not doing future enquiring minds any favours.

See also Pond hydra makes use of light without having eyes

Karl Popper never really retracted his skeptical view of Darwinism

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6 Responses to Another scholar who dismissed Darwinism – at the end of his life

  1. He had some strange things to say about dinosaurs.

  2. Details? It’s nothing new. Recently, we pointed to a media-inspired claim that dinosaurs rule alien worlds. What did Wesson say?

  3. My memory is hazy but he said something along the lines of no dinosaur genera is ancestral to the other.

  4. Well, we’ll try to get a review of the book. Perhaps he meant that, as with the horse lineage, there is simply no neat Tree of Horses, just one darn horse after another.

  5. 5

    There are no such things as dinosaurs. THey were simply kinds of creatures who had some like details for good reasons.
    Yet a t rex and triceratops were no more related then a kangaroo and a rhino.
    Classification errors created dinosaurs. they were not lizards either or close.

    good and neat point about how only when old do high up thinkers in science question origin subjects conclusions.
    they are afraid of rejection when it matters.
    i don’t know about punishment.

    unless as the bible says with the old one finds wisdom.

  6. I am in the process of reviewing this book by Robert Wesson it has been described as one of the best critiques of natural selection available, its filled with facts you will not find in textbooks. I was suprised Wesson was a political scientist becuase the way he has written the book would make you think he was an ecologist actually doing research in the field, he clearly knows his stuff and clearly spent much time researching the topic.

    Another scholar who comes to mind who also was skeptical of Darwinism was the philosopher Richard Spilsbury author of the book Providence Lost: Critique of Darwinism. It is a shame these books have been forgotten about.

    An Intelligent design advocate called Kevin Cassall has reviewed the book by Wesson. Here is part of his review:

    “Beyond Natural Selection is Wesson’s attempt to chip away at the edifice of Natural Selection by conjuring literally hundreds of enigmas in nature that Natural Selection is hard pressed to explain. Each chapter serves as a category of how he has grouped these fascinating mysteries: Inventive Nature, Remarkable Structures, Fantastic Behaviors, Intelligent Instincts, Altruism, Sociality, and so on. The book is so packed with the enigmatic behaviors of animals, birds, fish, worms, and insects that reading it – and it’s no easy read, mind you – leaves you feeling like you just did a marathon viewing of the Discovery Channel.” http://kevincassell.com/PERSON/CONVERSA/wesson.htm

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