Publication Date: March 27, 2017
Tour Dates: August 14-25
This is a very Popperian approach to evolutionary study. Karl Popper was a philosopher of science, who took science very seriously, and had a profound influence on the chemists and zoologists where I did my undergraduate degree. The book starts from about 1600, when people accepted that life continued to arise “naturally,” and then moves to the pre-evolutionary concept of the fixity of species. Darwin started as a geologist in the Hutton-Lyell tradition and quickly became convinced that current causes were sufficient to explain geology, and he then moved to biology. I gave an account of his theory in some detail. However, there is also an update on what we have learned since Darwin. This is followed by a chapter on human evolution, especially human speech and the Out of Africa theory. This is followed by two chapters on beliefs that maybe incorrect (one of which is the extinction of dinosaurs from the extraterrestrial impact at the K-Pg boundary—maybe incorrect). The other is the direction of change between eukaryotes (which have a true nucleus) and akaryotes (without a true nucleus). The book finishes with a section on what is left for the future. In good Popperian style, there is a lot left for us to discover!
David Penny is a 'Distinguished Professor' at a New Zealand University, and has a PhD from Yale University. He is a New Zealander by birth.