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By: Fern Elsdon-Baker
282 pages, b/w illustrations
Richard Dawkins is one of the world's most recognisable living scientists. In the public perception of evolutionary theory, it often seems as if Dawkins has become more associated with Darwinism than Charles Darwin himself. However, in recent years he has been left behind by changes in the way science thinks about evolutionary processes. Dawkins was not actually a professor of biology but a professor for the public understanding of science. The very first line of "The Extended Phenotype" reads, 'this is a work of unabashed advocacy' - not the rational argument of a scientist. Dawkins himself acknowledges that this would not be accepted in a scientific journal. So why is it for a popular science book? He has used his position to publicly attack 'unreason', in the form of organised religion, pseudo-science, or new age folly.
This polarised representation of science is potentially fuelling the feud between Darwinism and Creationism. Fern Elsdon-Baker, a rational pro-science atheist and specialist in the history and communication of evolutionary theory, finds Dawkins' influence distinctly worrying. She argues that Dawkins is publicly misrepresenting science as a whole and asks - is Dawkins really acting to popularise science or to popularise Richard Dawkins?
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