Episode 7 Jerry Coyne


Jerry Coyne is a professor in the Department of Ecology and EvolutionĀ at the University of Chicago. Jerry is well known for his research on the evolutionary genetics of speciation in Drosophila. His 2004 book Speciation, which he co-authored with H. Allen Orr, is a classic in the field. Jerry has also been very successful at writing for a popular audience with his 2009 book Why Evolution is True and its companion website. I met with Jerry in his office at the university of Chicago. We talked about religion and science and he shared some great stories about his days as a student. His story about how he got into graduate school at Harvard is just one of many really great stories in this episode.


5 thoughts on “Episode 7 Jerry Coyne

  1. I cannot speak to personal experience with gould,but I have read his material,and isincerely do not get the impression that he is not a nice person.he was defending a hypothesis that was unpopular.maybe that was has focus for not nice behavior

    • sorry-for some strange reason my spelling on internet comments is atrocious,Jerry also admitted to approaching gould with a group of students to talk(confront?) about this disagreement.I wasn’t aware that scientific issues were settled in this way. Sounds like coyne pleads political purity, when that was not the case at all. There are other issues that Gould took up-contingency,randomness,the ideology of progress, or a ladder model for evolution, which really is a secular religion, and not the way things really are in nature.He was a historian of science,and pointed out that our images of early scientists were off base,which I perceived as enormously generous.Is gould seemed to be not a nice man-how often,under what circumstances.I think jerrys word is not enough to convct a dead man who cannot respond in his own defense is,…well-not very nice

      • I bother you one more time. Maybe his comment that jerry is a hidebound gradualist will turn out to be true, when more evidence comes in.I have heard there is recent evidence that our genes really are subject to alteration by environment, and lifestyle choices more than we thought, in the same way that we have discredited the old hidebound theory that older people cant grow new brain cells(neurogenesis)Thomas Kuhn wrote in the structure of scientific revolutions that science often paints itself into a dogmatic corner. I think there is much dogma in current explanations for evolution.Personally,I see the power of natural selection, but I cannot convince myself that it is the only construct at work. In physics I have ,to myself, assigned a word “simultaneity” in opposition to reductionism(which is a productive tool for the human mind)that says that all these humanly separated characteristics of energy/matter occur at once all the time-out there in nature, and that reductionism is not an adequate description of what’s actually going on

    • Richard, thanks for listening. Jerry was speaking about his personal experiences and what his close colleagues had told him. I know he has written his opinions on some of Gould’s ideas on WEIT and in the scientific literature. I am sure you can find a more full view of Jerry’s take on Gould by looking elsewhere in addition to here. He may even comment directly on this if you bring it up in the comments of WEIT.

      • he did say some nice things about Gould. I still must insist, that from my readings of Gould that he comes across as a very generous kindhearted person. If you visit jerry’s site often enough, you will realize he expends a lot of time beating dead horses.Recently,however,in all honesty he’s gotten off that jag somewhat.I think his criticisms of goulds writing style are probably simple human jealousy.I cannot countenance his calling NCSE accomodationists.Its a waste of time, and energy-its really quite petty. I have commented on site, and have been viciously flamed by his devotees, who generally fall all over themselves trying appease the master. He has savaged Ed Wilson for his positions on sociobiology.I think the man could have a point.I think coyne is very dogmatic in many of his views.but don’t take my word for it examine the evidence

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