One of the most important books to influence me becoming a behavioural scientist was “The Selfish Gene” written 25 years ago. Today I finally got to meet the author who changed my worldview. It’s not the first time I have been in the same room as Richard Dawkins. About 10 years ago, I shared a train carriage with him but he was so caught up in working on a manuscript and I was so star-struck that I didn’t have the nerve to introduce myself, and say what exactly?
As many of you know, my work has often been contrasted with Richard Dawkins and simpletons often misunderstand what I am saying as contrary to his meme thesis. However, today it was quite clear that we are singing from the same hymn sheet. We had a great discussion about essentialism before his co-presentation with his wife, Lalla Ward (Yes, that’s right… Hammer Horror film actress and side -kick of Tom Baker’s Dr. Who). Children’s essentialism was raised again by a question from the audience (thank you for that Thalia of course!) where he discussed Ernst Mayr’s proposal that psychological essentialism was a fundamental obstacle in human reasoning when it came to understanding natural selection. Music to my ears of course.
He has a signed copy of SuperSense and promised to start reading it tonight. I even think he might! What a day to remember.
15 responses to “My Own D-Day”
that’s brilliant! i’d really be interested in hearing what he has to say about your book. meanwhile maybe you could summarize your discussion about essentialism for us? i thought about him and what he’d think/say quite a bit while reading your book.
Hi teobesta & Katie,
Yes, I will blog that item in a couple of days – its a fascinating argument. I thought that I had originated it in the book but it turns out that I was making the same point (but not as succinctly) that Mayr had made 20 years ago and Dawkins repeats in Chapter 2 of his new book.
Very cool. Yeah, from what you’ve disclosed of your ideas on your website (tease!) I have trouble seeing the incompatibility with Dawkins’ work. I suppose I will find out for myself soon enough, because SuperSense is on the way right now…
You look so chuffed Bruce.
The camera loves you.
Superb news, Bruce! I’ve been reading your updates unusually quietly lately, but had to add my congrats on your meeting The RD. And I second teobesta’s request for the Essentialism discussion!
How superb. I am in awe of your proximity to Dawkins.
I know that he’s a genius, but is he a nice man? Just curious about the other half…
Yes.. and very fond of his dogs. We went for lunch and both ate bangers and mash washed down with Somerset cider… he does a pretty good accent.
If he seems a bit grumpy, it’s because he has been asked the same questions over and over again.
Was the talk filmed? Would love to see it (would even be willing to pay a few bucks for it).
No, not filmed & at one point he asked the photographer who was getting overly active to stop taking pictures – the guy was being very irritating.
Ah Bruce, I have to confess to being more than just a tad envious. I am a huge fan of Richard’s work, and fully understand your joy at meeting him and having him discuss your ideas. I have to put my pedant hat on, though: The Selfish Gene was published in 1976, a full 33 years ago. There, I’m taking it off now. 🙂
You’re absolutely right… where did I get that figure from? -Oh yes, I remember… that’s how long I have been a scientist!
You don’t look old enough, sir. I’d have said 23 years…24, tops. 😀
Thanks Steve… I do seem to have a portrait in the attic. My first paper was Hood & Willatts (1986) British Journal of Developmental Psychology
You do have one of those eternally-young looking faces. My ex had one, and for a long time, people thought that he was much younger than I was, when in fact, he was one year older.
Don’t worry, though. It allowed me to develop a tough skin, but it probably added to my overall curmudeonliness (wd?).
Go dust your portrait, Dorian.