Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Is Dawkins a great biologist?

“Dawkins at least is a credible intellectual in his field. He coined the term “meme” and is one of the world’s greatest living biologists”
Dawkins certainly has credentials. However, I cringe every time I see him characterized they way you do. To begin with, as far as I know (and I looked into it) he hasn’t published a novel piece of research in evobio in decades, unlike his long running rival, S.J. Gould, who kept publishing technical papers and books right to the end of his life. Also, Dawkins’ opinions on evolutionary theory are by now hopelessly dated, and not just because of what he thinks about epigenetics. So, yes, credentialed intellectual; no, not the world’s greatest living biologist, by a long shot.
For a world-famous science prof., this is a remarkably thin bibliography of scholarly publications:

Extended Phenotype – But Not Too Extended. A Reply to Laland, Turner and Jablonka
Biology and Philosophy 19: 377–396, 2004.

Parasites, Desiderata Lists and the Paradox of the Organism
Dawkins utilizes parasites to prove his argument that the most basic unit in the hierarchy of life is the organism itelf.
S63-S73, 1990

The Evolution of Evolvability
Dawkins discusses the model (or environment and conditions) that he created to allow evolution to take place.
Artificial Life, SFI Studies in the Sciences of Complexity, 1988, pp. 201-220

Replicators and Vehicles
This article asserts that the principles of evolution allow DNA to protect itself and DNA in turn has a greater purpose to our existence.
Current Problems in Sociobiology, Cambridge University Press, pp. 45-64, 1982

Do digger wasps commit the concorde fallacy?
Richard Dawkins, H. Jane Brockmannt
Animal Behaviour, Volume 28, Issue 3, August 1980, Pages 892–896

Twelve Misunderstandings of Kin Selection
This article addresses the 12 common misunderstandings in kin selection theory and denies them.
Z. Tierphyschol, 1979, 51: pp. 184-200

Joint Nesting in a Digger Wasp as as Evolutionarily Stable Preadaptation to Social Life 
Behaviour, Vol. 71, No. 3/4 (1979), pp. 203-245

Evolutionarily Stable Nesting Strategy in a Digger Wasp
Brockmann, Grafen, and Dawkins examine the nesting behaviors of digger wasps and concludes that their strategy is evolutionarily stable.
 J. theor. Biol. 1979, 77: pp. 473-496
Replicator Selection & the Extended Phenotype 
This is a modified version of a lecture given in the plenary session on “Sociobiology: at the 15th International Ethological Conference, Bielefeld, 1977.
Zeitschrift für Tierpsychologie, 47: 61–76

Hierarchical Organization and Postural Facilitation: Rules for Groom in Flies
Richard and Marian Dawkins examine the parameters of grooming sequences in blowflies.
Animal Behavior, 1976, 24: pp. 739-755

Decisions and the Uncertainty of Behaviour
Richard and Marian Dawkins assert that behavior can be described through changing uncertainty or through a structural behavior pattern.
Rec. 1972, Vol. 20, No. 4: pp. 83-103

The Hunting Behaviour of Individual Great Tits in Relation to Spacial Variation in their Food Density
James N. M. Smith and Dawkins respond to data collected in variations of food density and spacial changes present when testing great tit birds.
Animal Behavior, 1971, 19: pp.695-706

A Threshold Model of Choice Behaviour
This article suggests a model for the underlying mechanisms of making choices from an evolutionary standpoint.
Animal Behavior, 1969, 17: pp. 120-133

The “Peck/No-Peck Decision-Maker’ in the Black-Headed Gull Chick
Using the Choice Threshold Model, Dawkins and Impekoven determine the absolute number of responses to stimuli in black-headed gull chicks.
Animal Behavior, 1969, 17: pp. 243-251

The Attention Threshold Model
This article utilizes selective attention theory to validate Dawkins’ Choice Threshold Model.
Animal Behavior, 1969, 17: pp. 134-141

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