Evolutionary battleground (2 of 2)

March 29, 2012

Steven Rose claims that Mark Pagel's Wired for Culture is full of contradictions and misunderstandings, but this is actually more characteristic of Rose's review than Pagel's book (" 'Brain candy' is hard to swallow", Books, 8 March).

Rose chides Pagel for neglecting evolutionary mechanisms other than natural selection, but doesn't explain what other mechanism is capable of producing complex adaptations such as the human brain (it's difficult to see how it could be genetic drift, for example). Rose then criticises "grand unitary theories of everything", having advanced one himself (that alloparenting is "one of the most convincing arguments for the evolution of human sociality"). But the statement that really made me fall off my chair was that Pagel is wrong to say that our brains think because "it is we who think, using our brains". Descartes lives! (In spirit if not in body.)

Robert Barton, Professor of evolutionary anthropology, Durham University

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Worried man wiping forehead
Two academics explain how to beat some of the typical anxieties associated with a doctoral degree
A group of flamingos and a Marabou stork

A right-wing philosopher in Texas tells John Gill how a minority of students can shut down debates and intimidate lecturers – and why he backs Trump

A face made of numbers looks over a university campus

From personalising tuition to performance management, the use of data is increasingly driving how institutions operate

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

As the country succeeds in attracting even more students from overseas, a mixture of demographics, ‘soft power’ concerns and local politics help explain its policy