Saturday, December 19, 2009

Jerry Coyne's Why Evolution is True, Part I

Some books are difficult to read because they are not well written while others are difficult to read because the ideas don't make sense. There is turgid prose and then there is turgid logic. I have finally finished Jerry Coyne's Why Evolution is True which, if Coyne was not a leading evolutionist of international repute, I would have dismissed after the first chapter. Coyne is an excellent writer but Why Evolution is True is a laborious read because it doesn't make much sense. Thumbing through my copy, I see page after page with margin notes indicating various fallacies and inconsistencies. More later on this, but for now here are some aggregate statistics.

By my count Coyne affirms the consequent 21 times throughout Why Evolution is True. He begs the question 33 times and makes 35 theological claims. Coyne fails to mention important scientific problems that bear on his points 31 times.

I finally tired of counting but the volume is a veritable treasure trove of evolutionary thought. There are the usual just-so stories, unfalsifiable claims, presumptuous statements, ad hominem criticisms and so forth. In the evolution genre you can hope for quality writing but it seems there is no escaping problems with the content of that writing.


  1. I hope you plan on posting your list of logical fallacies you have found.

  2. Alex R., you are one royal a-hole.
    Did you not graduate from kindergarten at least? Sad.

  3. Sean,
    Evolutionary thought IS a system of making logical fallacy appear reasonable