An amusing back-and-forth

The tiff between Jerry Coyne and Robert Wright is getting even more hilarious. Wright is accusing Coyne of misrepresenting and misunderstanding his book, and is bringing up all these quotes from The Evolution of God to refute Coyne’s claims. If you just read Wright, you’ll have to agree — Coyne does say things that are directly contradicted by the text.

But then you miss the point. Coyne has a short reply in TNR and a longer reply on his blog where he quotes Wright several times saying exactly what Wright says he didn’t say. Wright’s true name seems to be Legion, and he contains multitudes. One of the problems with his book is that it hares off in all kinds of directions, and you can find pieces that say one thing, and others that say something very different.

It’s a lot like the Bible.

Note to fans of Wright: that’s not a compliment.

And there’s more! The few comments are from Wright fans whose response is to demand that “the Editors … step in on this one and review the original essay by Jerry Coyne. The author provides some strong evidence that his book was either misunderstood or not actually read by the reviewer.” Quite the contrary. The evidence shows to me that the reviewer seems to have read the book more carefully and perceptively than the author.