Lewis Wolpert has a pleasant interview in Salon today — I find most of what he says copacetic. I very much like his developmental biology textbook, but I’m afraid I found his recent popular book, Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast(amzn/b&n/abe/pwll), far too scattered and unfocused to be memorable. It’s a pleasant enough read — get it and you won’t regret it — but it was more like an agreeable conversation with an intelligent and eccentric fellow than a work that will either shake you up or strengthen your views…and that also comes through in the interview. He’s pretty much a sensible skeptic who doesn’t put up with much woo-woo nonsense.
There is one part that I didn’t much care for, that would probably prompt me to start an argument if this were a conversation:
You call David Hume your “hero philosopher.” Why do you like him so much?
First of all, I don’t like any other philosopher. I think philosophers are terribly clever but have absolutely nothing useful to say whatsoever. I avoid philosophy like mad. But David Hume does say such interesting and important things. He’s very good on religion, for example. I like him for that.
That’s just me, though. If I had my druthers, I’d have a philosophy of science requirement in place for our biology majors, as an essential piece of background in a good liberal arts education—biology has gotten so huge, though, that something had to go, and that’s one we aren’t even going to try to push into the curriculum, and I’m probably the only person in my discipline who’d consider it useful.