I’m going to be taking off for the Gateway to Reason conference this weekend, and will be speaking on Sunday morning. The title of my talk is “Evolution and Cooperation: A Historical Perspective”, and I kind of suspect that the audience, what few of them show up, will be either a) mildly bored, because too many atheists are uninterested in history and philosophy of science, or b) mildly pissed off, because I’m going to show them that the history of evolutionary theory isn’t as clean and tidy as they imagine, because it got hijacked by conservatives from day one.
My ‘villain’ is Herbert Spencer, a complicated Victorian proto-Libertarian, and my ‘hero’ is Peter Kropotkin, an idealistic Russian anarchist. I’ll tell you the end: Spencer wins. The version of evolution the general public holds is a very Spencerian one, and that’s a real shame. It goes without saying that I’m going to draw some comparisons between the scientific ideology of the late 19th/early 20th century and the modern atheist movement.
There! Now if you’re at the conference you can just sleep in on Sunday, because you know what I’m going to say, more or less. Cooperating to reduce the strain on my colleagues and friends is very Kropotkinesque.