The Altenberg 16

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  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 2010-02-09
  • Publisher: North Atlantic Books
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This book takes a look at the rivalry in science today surrounding attempts to discover the elusive process of evolution. In one camp are the faithful followers of the long-standing theory of natural selection promulgated by Charles Darwin more than 150 years ago. This "survival of the fittest" theory, according to author Suzan Mazur, is no longer the scientific cornerstone of biology and has been challenged for decades. In the other camp are those challengers who want to steer evolutionary science in a more honest, scientifically accurate direction. However, the Darwinian theory has become a political powerhouse brand that is hard to unseat because of the money and power associated with it. The Altenberg 16is about a group of evolution scientists who met in 2008 in Austria to discuss and attempt to tell the truth about this "brand." Will they and their findings help rid us of the natural selection "survival of the fittest" mentality that has plagued civilization for a century and a half, now that the cat is out of the bag that natural selection is largely a political brand? It's almost guaranteed that debate and contention will continue into the foreseeable future. Some of the biggest names in evolutionary science and related fields are profiled or interviewed by Mazur. They include Richard Lewontin (Harvard University), Robert Hazen (Carnegie Institution), Richard Dawkins (bestselling author), Stuart Newman (New York Medical College), Lynn Margulis (University of Massachusetts and Oxford University), Noam Chomsky (MIT), and many others from around the world. From the introduction: "Evolutionary science is as much about the posturing, salesmanship, stonewalling and bullying that goes on as it is about actual scientific theory. It is a social discourse involving hypotheses of staggering complexity with scientists, recipients of the biggest grants of any intellectuals, assuming the power of politicians while engaged in Animal House pie-throwing and name-calling: ls"ham-fistedrs", ls"looney Marxist hangoverrs", ls"secular creationistrs", ls"philosopherrs" (a scientist who can't get grants anymore), ls"quackrs", ls"crackpotrs". . . "In short, it's a modern day quest for the holy grail, but with few knights. At a time that calls for scientific vision, scientific inquiry's been hijacked by an industry of greed, with evolution books hyped like snake oil at a carnival."

Author Biography

Suzan Mazur's interest in evolution began with a flight from Nairobi into Olduvai Gorge to interview the late paleoanthropologist Mary Leakey. Because of ideological struggles, the Kenyan-Tanzanian border was closed, and Leakey was the only reason authorities in Dar es Salaam agreed to give landing clearance. The meeting followed discovery by Leakey and her team of the 3.6 million-year-old hominid footprints at Laetoli. Suzan Mazur's reports have since appeared in the Financial Times, The Economist, Forbes, Newsday, Philadelphia Inquirer, Archaeology, Connoisseur, Omni and others, as well as on PBS, CBC and MBC. She has been a guest on McLaughlin, Charlie Rose and various Fox Television News programs. Her Web site is www.suzanmazur.com.

Table of Contents

Forwardp. iii
Introductionp. v
Chronologyp. ix
Evolution Tribesp. xiii
The Altenberg 16p. 1
Altenberg! The Woodstock of Evolution?p. 19
Jerry Fodor and Stan Salthe Open the Evo Boxp. 33
Theory of Form to Center Stagep. 43
The Two Stus
Stuart Kauffman - Peace, Love and Complexityp. 54
Stuart Newman - The Chess Masterp. 57
The Two Massimos
Massimo Pigliucci - Evolution & Flamboyance?p. 67
Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini - Evoluzione senza Adattamentop. 69
The One and Only Richard Lewontinp. 71
Knight of the North Star: Antonio Lima-de-Faria, Autoevolutionp. 81
The Wizard of Central Park: Stuart Pivarp. 93
Richard Dawkins Renounces Darwinism as Religionp. 97
Rockefeller University Evolution Symposiump. 100
Mainstream Media Doesn't Get It - Except Vanity Fairp. 104
Stuart Newman: Evolution Politicsp. 114
The Astrobiologists
Bob Hazen: The Trumpeter of Astrobiologyp. 138
Roger Buick & NASA: Follow the H2O or Energy Not Selectionp. 158
David Deamer: Line Arbitrary Twixt Life & Non-Lifep. 169
Ex NASA Astrobiology Institute Chief Bruce Runnegarp. 184
NASA Humanist Chris McKay: Where Darwinism Failsp. 200
The Rome Abstracts: "Evolutionary Mechanisms"p. 217
Scott Gilbert: Evolutionary Mechanisms & Knishp. 230
Evolution Sea Change?p. 243
Lynn Margulis: Intimacy of Strangers and Natural Selectionp. 257
Paul Nurse: Revolution in Biologyp. 283
Stuart Kauffman: Rethink Evolution, Self-Organization is Realp. 291
Stuart Newman's "High Tea" - Before Genetic Programs There Were DPMsp. 304
The Enlightening Ramray Bhat: Origin of Body Plansp. 307
Piattelli-Palmarini: Ostracism without Natural Selectionp. 314
Niles Eldredge, Paleontologistp. 326
Stan Salthe: Neo-Darwinians Risking 'Rigor Mortis'p. 335
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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