I like this guy because he doesn’t buy the “religion is bogus and useless” idea, nor does he accept the implicit (bad) ethics of standard hyper-darwinian theories. He’s willing to do science in order to help us become better people, rather than do science irrespective of what your theories will influence people to think and do. Take two with a tall glass of water after any exposure to Dawkins.
and he’s got a new book out: Evolution for Everyone: How Darwin’s Theory Can Change the Way We Think About Our Lives. From the NYT:
David Sloan Wilson, an evolutionary biologist at Binghamton University, takes a different and decidedly refreshing approach. Rather than catalog its successes, denounce its detractors or in any way present evolutionary theory as the province of expert tacticians like himself, Wilson invites readers inside and shows them how Darwinism is done, and at lesson’s end urges us to go ahead, feel free to try it at home. The result is a sprightly, absorbing and charmingly earnest book that manages a minor miracle, the near-complete emulsifying of science and the “real world,” ingredients too often kept stubbornly, senselessly apart. Only when Wilson seeks to add religion to the mix, and to show what natural, happy symbionts evolutionary biology and religious faith can be, does he begin to sound like a corporate motivational speaker or a political candidate glad-handing the crowd.
In Wilson’s view, Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection has the beauty of being both simple and profound. Unlike quantum mechanics or the general theory of relativity, the basic concepts behind evolutionary theory are easy to grasp; and once grasped, he argues, they can be broadly applied to better understand ourselves and the world — the world both as it is and as it might be, with the right bit of well-informed coaxing. Wilson has long been interested in the evolution of cooperative and altruistic behavior, and much of the book is devoted to the premise that “goodness can evolve, at least when the appropriate conditions are met.”