Category Archives: book reviews

More Egnorance about Darwin and language in the Washington Post

Well, given the number of comments on my review in the Washington Post of Tom Wolfe’s abysmal new book on Darwin, Chomsky, and the evolutionary basis of language (Wolfe says there is no such basis), I shouldn’t have been surprised that there would be pushback from readers. But what I didn’t expect was that one of the […]

NPR’s Barbara King dismisses Tom Wolfe’s knowledge of evolution, but still recommends reading his new book

Barbara King, a retired anthropology professor at William and Mary (my alma mater), has a regular column at National Public Radio’s (NPR’s), Cosmos & Culture site.  The column this week, “Evolution uproar: What to do when a famous author dismisses Darwin, ” is devoted to Tom Wolfe’s new book The Kingdom Of Speech, which I reviewed […]

The masses comment on the Wolfe review

Nick Cohen’s advice to authors includes this gem: “Never read the comments.” And I nearly always follow that dictum, except for the comments on this site.  I also made an exception for my review of Tom Wolfe’s book in the Washington Post. I wanted to see how people reacted to my defense of evolution, realizing that […]

I’m #3

This is gratifying, despite the numerous creationists infesting the comments—people who don’t know squat about biology and nevertheless feel compelled to pronounce on it. Several people said, “We know nothing about speciation,” apparently unaware that I wrote a 450-page book telling biologists what we know (and want to know) about that very field! Even worse […]

Two morning tw**ts

Although I don’t follow anyone on Twi**er, as I’d never get anything done if I did, I do count on the kindness of stranger (and readers) to call interesting tw**ts to my attention. Here’s one that Grania sent me. I must admit, this solution to the trolley problem had escaped me… https://t.co/qBpTilAwT9 — Sam Harris (@SamHarrisOrg) […]

NYT’s pathetic summary of Tom Wolfe’s book misses the boat on evolution and linguistics

What would a major newspaper do if they were discussing the views of a famous scientist who went off the rails about something unrelated to their profession? Take Lynn Margulis, for example, rightly renowned for promulgating (but not inventing) the idea that mitochondria within cells are actually the remnants of bacteria, showing an ancient event in […]

USA today gives Tom Wolfe’s book three stars out of four

This is what happens when a book reviewer is assigned a book in which he has no expertise whatsoever. Over at USA Today, Don Oldenburg reviews Tom Wolfe’s new book, The Kingdom of Speech. I’ve read the book, and its thesis is that human language is not in any way a product of biological evolution. […]

The Guardian slams Larry Alex Taunton’s book on Hitchens’s “conversion”

I’ve now read most of Larry Alex Taunton’s odious book The Faith of Christopher Hitchens: The Restless Soul of the World’s Most Famous Atheist, and I stand by my judgment that Taunton is a vulture, profiting from picking at the corpse of a man who can’t respond. As you surely know, Taunton’s book was written to suggest that, at […]

Matthew reviews Mukherjee’s new book in Nature

Siddhartha Mukherjee, Pulitzer-Prize-winning author of The Emperor of All Maladies, and subject to a bit of discussion on this site in the last week, has now published a new book: The Gene: An Intimate History, and our own Matthew Cobb has just reviewed in in Nature (free link).  The book is doing well on Amazon, […]

New York Times reviews Mukherjee’s new book on the gene

Jennifer Senior, a daily book reviewer for the New York Times, has appraised Siddhartha Mukherjee’s latest book The Gene: An Intimate History, in the New York Times. Since it’s in today’s paper, I suspect there will be another review next Sunday. This review is mixed, but you can see for yourself. I hope for two things: that the […]