25 February 2023

Von Daniken makes huge error about chimp-human difference and more...


chimp-human difference: 83% ???

In a previous blog I gave a first impression of Von Daniken's book Evolution is Wrong. A Radical Approach to the Origin and Transformation of Life. I noticed some funny and nice things and some problems. I now finished a complete review of the book which I published on my Was Darwin Wrong website. I found a huge blunder: Von Daniken misreads a scientific publication about genetic differences of chimp and human. Further, a lot of amazing logical fallacies. These give entertaining reading and show how a non-scientist and non-biologist thinks about biology and evolution. Evolution educators could learn from this and overcome intuitive and non-religious conceptual obstacles to understanding evolution. Evolution textbook writes should also include a section 'Overcoming obstacles to evolution'.


An example of paying attention to conceptual obstacles is: Kostas Kampourakis (2014) 'Understanding Evolution'. The obstacles for Von Daniken are not (yet) included.

Further Reading

12 February 2023

New evolution textbook as birthday present for Darwin


Futuyma, Kirkpatrick 5th ed. OUP hardback 2023
615 pages plus 83 pages index, literature.

A new evolution textbook for Darwin's birthday 12 Feb 2023

The publication of a new evolution textbook is a rare event. The textbook displayed above is now the most recent evolution textbook. The previous edition (4th) was also published together with Mark Kirkpatrik in 2017 (5 years ago). It is the longest-running series of Evolution textbooks. Futuyma published his first evolution textbook in 1979. For a visual overview of all evolution textbooks see the homepage of my WDW website. And here on the Introduction page they are listed with short descriptions.

The emphasis of this textbook is on organisms and species. Human evolution gets considerable attention (50 pages). The largest section is about mechanisms: mutation and variation, natural selection, genetic drift. There is a large section devoted to the History of Life (122 pages). I like the presence of a chapter about genome evolution. There is some attention to philosophical issues, and a chapter about Evolution and society. The numerous color illustrations make it a pleasure to browse. 

I was mystified and disappointed that there was no illustration of the molecule all life is based upon; the carrier of hereditary information. This molecule and its mechanisms of action are described in as few words as possible. As if this molecule is of minor importance in evolution. However, its discovery was rewarded which a Nobel prize! I am talking about DNA. Portraits of many evolutionary biologists are present, but Watson and Crick are missing. I also found the space devoted to the origin of life minimalistic.

A welcome feature of this edition is that most chapters have a final What We Don't Know section. The message is: evolutionary biologists have not yet solved all evolutionary puzzles. Critics take note!


I will update this first impression either here or on my WDW website.