The Innocent Assassins: Biological Essays on Life in the Present and Distant Past - Björn Kurtén, Eric J. Friis I have just finished this marvelous frolic through the philosophy of science and evolutionary biology. In the first essay he wonders why no one ever attacks Dalton (the scholar who formulated atomic theory) or Einstein's E=MC, the way they do evolution. The problem is they aren’t fair game. There is no money nor fame to be earned by attacking scientists whose obscure theories involve intricate mathematical models . Darwin and biologists are not so lucky. They must constantly explain and defend their work to the public. This is not necessarily a bad thing. "Nothing clears the brain better than to have to explain your ,job to persons who are not specialists in it.

One of Darwin’s greatest contributions to science, if not to mankind, was his development of population theory, the realization that all individuals are unique, that differences between individuals are real and important. Even identical twins are different though they contain the same genes; the influence of environment can never be the same at all times. The old view, called essentialism, reduced everything to typology, i.e. the belief that every species or race can be reduced to a "type," distinct and unchangeable. The misuse and misunderstanding of this theory was easily perverted to form the basis for racism and sexism. Kurten ruminates on the difference between science and pseudoscience. Science maintains a healthy curiosity about what things are really like. "Pseudoscience, on the other hand, is produced by those who ’know’ beforehand what the answer is going to be." Scientists may have an idea where their research may lead, but they are always ready to change their opinion. (Kurten argues that changing one’s opinion about something every day keeps one youthful as long as there is validity to the change, of course.) Pseudoscience represents a shortcut in the search for happiness, hence its popular appeal. Science forces us to face the truth, unpleasant as it may be.