Comments: I had another letter published in The Guardian Review on September 25th, 2004.
Richard Dawkins may be many things, including a great conceptual scientist and a wonderful writer, but I know many philosophers will balk at Matt Ridley’s description of him (“Meet the Concestors”, September 18) as “the foremost [evolutionary] philosopher”, using “ruthless and surprising logic”.
I wonder whether, in his new book “The Ancestor’s Tale”, Dawkins repeats the surprising logical error he made in “River out of Eden” in claiming that the most recent common male ancestor could have lived several millennia after the most recent common female ancestor. Any true [evolutionary] philosopher would have known that the most recent common male ancestor must have been either the father, partner or son of the most recent common female ancestor. His claim could only apply to the mitochondrial and Y-chromosome ancestors.
Far more serious though is the distortion of logic used by all neo-Darwinists in their decision that genes must be the sole determinants of inheritable characteristics merely because they cannot detect anything else.
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