2017

Comments: Following a long absence due to a minor stroke, Richard Dawkins returned to public life. The following letter to The Guardian was not published.

Good to see Richard Dawkins being so pro-French (Letters, 6 May). Will that extend to his expressing admiration for the vindicated French evolutionary pioneer, Lamarck?
Hugh Dower

Comments: Following an interview with Richard Dawkins in The Times, in which he revealed he had become vegetarian on the grounds of speciesism, I sent the following letter which was not published. 

The judgement of history that Richard Dawkins should fear is not over speciesism (Saturday Interview, May 13) but over his condemnation of Lamarckism, which he once described as ‘deeply pernicious’. The science of epigenetics is now showing Lamarckian inheritance to be a reality, particularly in respect of diet. Accordingly, we owe our big brains to the fact that our ancestors were not vegetarian. Also, it would be setting ourselves apart from nature for us to assume a ‘higher moral calling’ – something Dawkins has always seemed loth to do.
Hugh Dower

Comments: See Lamarck essay, and see November 2008 for my further thoughts about vegetarianism. The following letter to The Guardian was not published.

All that your Evolution article (Oldest Homo sapiens bones ever found shake foundations of the human story, June 8) proves is that homo erectus got around Africa (as well as Asia) and changed along the way. Ever since it was confirmed that Neanderthals bred with immigrant homo sapiens, it has seemed likely that there has only ever been one homo for almost two million years.
Hugh Dower

Comments: Following the publication of a contentious book about Darwin, author A.N.Wilson’s article in The Times prompted the following published letter (in a slightly reduced form).

Sir, In his book-promoting essay (Darwin’s greatness is founded on a myth, August 26), A.N.Wilson repeats the error of claiming Cuvier was an evolutionist. Though Cuvier, like his British counterpart Richard Owen, was well aware of the issue of transformism – taking part in a widely-reported debate with Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire in 1830 – he adamantly maintained that there were four distinct, separately-created phyla in the animal kingdom, and that fossils of extinct species had been formed by the Flood (or floods). Wilson is right to say that Darwin was very bad at acknowledging his many predecessors though.
Hugh Dower