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Lamarck's Revenge: How Epigenetics is Revolutionizing Our Understanding of Evolution's Past and Present

Lamarck's Revenge: How Epigenetics Is Revolutionizing Our Understanding of Evolution's Past and Present - Peter Ward

I received an Advanced Readers Copy of this book through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer program in exchange for an honest review.

 

The slow progress of Darwinian evolutionary theory seems to be lacking evidence in the fossil record, but a paradigm shift maybe in the offering as epigenetics might explain why evolution happens so fast that potential fossil specimens can’t be put in the strata.  Lamarck’s Revenge: How Epigenetics in Revolutionizing Our Understanding of Evolution’s Past and Present by Peter Ward attempts to show that epigenetics should be incorporated into the understanding of current evolutionary paradigm thanks to new evidence thanks to various disciplines.

 

Ward puts forth that Jean-Baptiste Lamarck first described what is now being call “epigenetics” in his explanation of the inheritance of acquired characteristics, but do to unfriendly colleagues and later Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection Lamarck became a scientific laughingstock for over a century and a half.  However, Ward states that as DNA became to be understood and brought into consideration in its role in evolution the ideas of Lamarck began to return to study and now needs to be incorporated into the paradigm of the theory of evolution.  Ward then goes through the history of life, especially focusing on the sudden expansion of life and body forms after the great mass extinctions, as well as the history of humanity from the Ice Age through today and our possible future.

 

Unfortunately instead of a straightforward emphasis on Lamarck’s ideas, epigenetics, and how it can be seen in how evolution has progressed for a general audience, Ward decided to hero-worship Lamarck so much and attacking several scientists but particularly Darwin that the first quarter-to-third of the book was slow grind until he finally focused on epigenetics and discussing evolution through that prism.  However because of the amount of pages spent deifying Lamarck—Ward literally, though admittedly with sarcasm said Christians should worship Lamarck not God—and demonizing Darwin that Ward had to rush all over the place in explanations about how life evolved and developed while implying assertions without backing them up.

 

Lamarck’s Revenge while giving this reader a better knowledge about how the history of the world is seen through evolutionary theory, is nothing more than a book by an agenda driven author akin to current political pundits and lowest-class of pop historians.  If fact because of Ward’s bias, I don’t even know if my new knowledge is actually accurate but in any case my new limited understanding of epigenetics would have been better served if he had decided to focus on that instead of wasting page space on the deification and demonizing of long-dead scientists.  As a general reader I don’t recommend this to others.