Discovery Institute Press publishes books exploring the intersection of science, education, technology, culture, and public policy.
Tucked away in Charles Darwin’s surviving papers is a manuscript of almost 300,000 words that he never completed. It was his sequel to The Origin of Species. It was the book he had promised would finally supply solid empirical evidence for the creative power of natural selection, evidence he admitted was absent from the Origin, which he repeatedly described as a “mere abstract.” Darwin soon abandoned his sequel, though he never revealed that decision to those who awaited its appearance. The mystery of why Darwin didn’t finish his sequel has never been satisfactorily resolved. In this fascinating piece of historical detective work, Robert Shedinger draws on Darwin’s letters, private notebooks, and the unfinished manuscript itself to piece together the puzzle and reveal an embarrassing truth: Darwin never finished his sequel because in the end he could not deliver the promised goods. His book, begun in earnest, devolved into a bluff.
Advance Praise for Darwin’s Bluff
It is a testimony to the mythical status of Charles Darwin that most of his admirers do not know or do not take seriously the fact that Origin of Species was sold as an abstract of a much longer work. Reviewers of Origin took Darwin at his word and cut him considerable slack when evaluating the case for evolution by natural selection. The promised volume would presumably explain the modus operandi of this mysterious process. However, the promised volume never came, though a hefty manuscript survived its author. Robert Shedinger takes a deep dive into Darwin’s correspondence, as well as the unfinished follow-up manuscript, and concludes that Darwin abandoned the project simply because he couldn’t meet the objections to natural selection made even by broadly sympathetic reviewers of Origin. In addition, Shedinger casts a forensic eye on how scholarly interpretations of Darwin’s life have subtly served to obscure this ultimate intellectual failure. The result is nothing short of a demythologization of modern biology’s origin story.Steve Fuller, Auguste Comte Professor of Social Epistemology, University of Warwick, author of Dissent over Descent
Darwin’s Bluff particularly resonates with me. In 2009, as a card-carrying Darwinist serving as a fossil curator in one of Germany’s natural history museums, I mounted an exhibit showing Darwin’s famous work outweighing the works of his leading modern detractors. To prepare for hard questions from reporters, I decided to give the naysayer books a quick read, books I had been assured were all froth and foolishness. I soon discovered that I had been misled. The arguments in those pages were neither shallow nor illogical. Instead, I came to see that it was actually modern Darwinism that rested on a carefully constructed bluff.
Robert Shedinger’s latest book shows that the bluffing has a long pedigree, stretching back to the master of Down House himself. What emerges from Shedinger’s deep dive into Darwin’s private writings is a picture of a man wracked by doubts and insecurities about his evolutionary theory, but also a man not above a good bluff, one he sold so artfully that he may even have persuaded himself.Günter Bechly, former curator for amber and fossil insects in the Department of Paleontology at the State Museum of Natural History (SMNS) in Stuttgart, Germany; Senior Fellow with Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture
Robert Shedinger’s fascinating book explores a puzzling question about Darwin’s career: Why didn’t he ever publish a longer book on evolution by natural selection that he had almost completed? Darwin continually promised his contemporaries that his forthcoming work would provide the evidence he was unable to include in his shorter book, The Origin of Species, which he called an “abstract” of his theory. Through painstaking historical research, Shedinger sheds light on Darwin’s modus operandi and on the shortcomings of his scientific evidence, thus dismantling what Shedinger calls the mythology surrounding Darwin.Richard Weikart, Professor of History, California State University, Stanislaus; author of Darwinian Racism: How Darwinism Influenced Hitler, Nazism, and White Nationalism
Stung by early reviewers’ resistance to many unsubstantiated conjectures in which his Origin of Species abounds, Charles Darwin announced he would bring out a more detailed sequel to quell the opposition of skeptics. Robert Shedinger shows that this promise was essentially a bluff since the promised book on natural selection never appeared. In the early 1860s, Darwin instead devoted his energies to a botanical study of orchids. He nevertheless hoped that, by describing the exquisite “contrivances” found in orchids, his readers would see in these adaptations the power of natural selection at work. Yet precisely the opposite impression was created. Expressing a common sentiment in a review of the volume, an anonymous reviewer wrote in 1862, “The notion of the origin of species by natural selection, we continue to regard as an ingenious mistake.” Worse, Darwin’s Orchids volume was favorably compared with the Bridgewater Treatises in its supposed contribution to Christian apologetics!
Contextualizing Darwin’s own doubts and insecurities by exhaustively researched reference to his correspondence, Shedinger opposes many accretions of Darwinian hagiography. It would be a sensible step forward, Shedinger concludes, to take Darwin at his word when he wrote in a letter to Asa Gray in 1857, “I am quite conscious that my speculations run quite beyond the bounds of true science.” This book is particularly to be recommended to those tempted to view Darwin as an unquestionable Victorian sage.Neil Thomas, Reader emeritus in Modern European Languages, Durham University (GB); author of Taking Leave of Darwin: A Longtime Agnostic Discovers the Case for Design
Robert Shedinger’s accomplishment deserves much attention within my own primary field of the history of science. Historians of Darwin have largely overlooked what Shedinger here demonstrates: The rhetorical success of Darwin’s Origin of Species owed much to the early readers imagining mountains of evidence forthcoming in the much larger book that Darwin promised would soon be finalized and published. The evasiveness of this maneuver is well documented in Shedinger’s analysis of Darwin’s forever unfinished—and evidentially disappointing—“big book” manuscript and his collegial correspondence.Michael N. Keas, author of Unbelievable: 7 Myths About the History and Future of Science and Religion
Robert Shedinger’s portrait of Darwin is far different from the reverent hagiographies we’ve come to expect. In accessible, enticing prose—and drawing from more than 260 letters Darwin wrote or received from his contemporaries—Shedinger shows us sides of the man long obscured. Darwin emerges as a striver whose reach exceeded his grasp in his failing to provide ironclad evidence for his famous theory. The candor and penchant for false modesty in his letters peel back the years; we discover a Darwin whose quirks and foibles make him recognizably human. Shedinger’s meticulously researched and carefully argued volume takes the patina off this Victorian legend, opening Darwin to a most appropriate fresh inspection.Michael A. Jawer, author of Sensitive Soul and co-author of The Spiritual Anatomy of Emotion and Your Emotional Type
Why did Darwin call The Origin of Species an abstract? Anyone interested in Darwin’s evolving strategy to roll out his revolutionary ideas in two distinct stages will find here a luscious banquet. Robert Shedinger’s Darwin’s Bluff will shock most readers in every chapter. In my own field of the rhetoric of science, the varied tactics of persuasion employed by Darwin are brought to light. Best of all, as we listen in on his own correspondence, Darwin himself comes alive in ways we never imagined. So, what’s the untold story of Darwin’s abandoned “big book” project? Carve out a few hours and feast on Shedinger’s vivid reconstruction and resolution of this mystery.Tom Woodward, Research Professor at Trinity College of Florida; author of Doubts about Darwin: A Rhetorical History of Intelligent Design and The Mysterious Epigenome with ophthalmologist James Gills
The adequacy of natural selection to explain evolution and life has been seriously challenged on a number of fronts—from paleontology, biochemistry, molecular biology, and genetics to theology, philosophy of mind, and the history of religions. In a minutely researched piece of new scholarship, Robert Shedinger shows us that The Origin of Species was intended as an abstract of a theory that Darwin could never substantiate, and that, more telling still, the confident scientific naturalism for which Darwin is mythologized today is largely a set of rhetorical devices and dogmatic beliefs that add up to a massive bluff with significant negative consequences, particularly with respect to race, gender, scientific inquiry, religious belief, and intellectual freedom. Darwin’s Bluff is the history of science and the study of religion at their best, brought together toward a more nuanced future.Jeffrey J. Kripal, J. Newton Rayzor Professor of Religion at Rice University; author of The Flip: Epiphanies of Mind and the Future of Knowledge
A landmark of the intelligent design movement, The Design Inference revolutionized our understanding of how we detect intelligent causation. Originally published twenty-five years ago, it has now been revised and expanded into a second edition that greatly sharpens its exploration of design inferences. This new edition tackles questions about design left unanswered by David Hume and Charles Darwin, navigating the intricate nexus of chance, probability, and design, and thereby offering a novel lens for understanding the world. Using modern concepts of probability and information, it exposes the inadequacy of undirected causes in scientific inquiry. It lays out how we infer design via events that are both improbable and specified. Amid controversial applications to biology, it makes a compelling case for intelligent design, challenging the prevalent neo-Darwinian evolutionary narrative. Dembski and Ewert have written a groundbreaking work that doesn’t merely comment on contemporary scientific discourse but fundamentally transforms it.
Well argued and eminently readable… I don’t see how any open-minded scientist can ignore this important book.Sergiu Klainerman, Higgins Professor of Mathematics, Princeton University, member of the National Academy of Sciences
Clearly written, rigorous, and intellectually compelling. A work of genuine genius.Stephen C. Meyer, Director of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture, author of Signature in the Cell, Darwin’s Doubt, and Return of the God Hypothesis
A compelling refutation of the neo-Darwinian narrative; it will be a gamechanger in the discourse on whether or not life has been designed.Muzaffar Iqbal, Founder-President of the Center for Islamic Sciences, past Director of the Pakistan Academy of Sciences
Prepare to be dazzled. This new edition of The Design Inference is a tour de force of thinking and explaining-a veritable feast. If you are serious about understanding fundamental reality, evidence, and reasoning, read this book.Gale Pooley, Associate Professor of Business Management, Brigham Young University-Hawaii, co-author of Superabundance
In this superb new edition of The Design Inference, Dembski and Ewert set design science on a solid scientific foundation and provide scientists with the opportunity to test their theories for and against design using objective quantitative methods.Michael Egnor, Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery, Renaissance School of Medicine, Stony Brook University
The second edition of The Design Inference makes a compelling case that the ‘design’ in nature is real and can be scientifically inferred. As they show, the specified complexity of the information contained in DNA and RNA… cannot plausibly be attributed to unguided natural processes; logically and causally, it requires an intelligent designer.Timothy P. Jackson, the Bishop Mack B. and Rose Stokes Professor of Theological Ethics, Candler School of Theology, Emory University
This second, and expanded, edition benefits greatly from the significant advances in understanding the design inference over the last twenty-five years… The Design Inference shows how meaningful events can be, and indeed are, recognized using a simple criterion: specified complexity. In this second edition, Dembski and Ewert carefully explain this criterion, showing how it… extends the reach of science.Fred Skiff, the Harriet B. and Harold S. Brady Chair in Laser Physics, University of Iowa
This book is another important step along the way to validating intelligent design as a mainstream and scientifically robust alternative to Charles Darwin’s nineteenth-century philosophy of natural selection.Andrew Ruys, Professor of Biomedical Engineering (Retired), University of Sydney
A pleasure to read… [and] worthy of attention and respect.Christopher P. Grant, Associate Professor of Mathematics, Brigham Young University
In this second edition of The Design Inference, Dembski and Ewert present a formidable probabilistic and information-theoretic method for determining whether design, rather than chance, was the cause of an observed event.Terry Rickard, PhD, Engineering Physics, University of California, San Diego
I highly recommend you give this book a serious read.James P. Keener, Distinguished Professor of Mathematics, University of Utah
Is your mind the same thing as your brain, or are there aspects of mind beyond the brain’s biology? This is the mind-body problem, and it has captivated curious minds since the dawn of human contemplation. Today many insist that the mind is completely reducible to the brain. But is that claim justified? In this stimulating anthology, twenty-five philosophers and scientists offer fresh insights into the mind-brain debate, drawing on psychology, neurology, philosophy, computer science, and neurosurgery. Their provocative conclusion? The mind is indeed more than the brain.
The mind-body problem lives! A stimulating collection of contemporary perspectives on a perennial conundrum.Gregory Chaitin, algorithmic information theory pioneer; author, Building the World from Information & Computation
Materialism about the mind is a deeply entrenched assumption, so much so that alternative viewpoints are shrugged aside as inconsequential. Minding the Brain challenges that mindset, but not by giving a single, knock-down refutation of materialism or a single, obviously superior alternative. Instead, it presents a kaleidoscopic array involving multiple objections and multiple alternatives, authored by highly competent thinkers from neuroscience, consciousness studies, computer science, information theory, and philosophy. Both materialists and anti-materialists who want to understand the mind should not miss this book.William Hasker, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, Huntington University
Minding the Brain is an imposing assemblage of cutting-edge criticisms of materialist views of the mind while advancing compelling alternative accounts of consciousness. The chapters on information, computation, and quantum theory are groundbreaking, advancing serious unacknowledged problems for materialism that must be contended with.Brandon Rickabaugh, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Palm Beach Atlantic University; Franz Brentano Fellow in the Metaphysics of Mind, The Martin Institute
Written by renowned experts in different fields of science and philosophy, Minding the Brain provides a thorough, multifaceted, and insightful analysis of the age-old mind-body problem. It is well known that even an apparently simple inanimate entity like a sandpile may present a complex, non-linear, and chaotic dynamic which cannot be predicted by the individual properties of its constituting elements. With a unique common thread, the essays in this anthology elegantly expose reductionism for what it truly is, a simplistic endeavor grounded on the scientific materialism creed which, on the topic of the mind-body problem, tries to explain all the complexity of higher-order cognitive phenomena exclusively through reference to the most basic physico-chemical interactions within its underlying biological strata. Such a myopic and simplistic naturalistic approach is not only intellectually disappointing but also inherently flawed, ultimately falling short of the awe-inspiring grandeur of the life of the mind as we all know and experience it. Try explaining the totality of the delightful experience of reading this academic masterpiece through a mathematical equation!Tobias A. Mattei, MD, FACS, Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery, St. Louis University School of Medicine
Minding the Brain is an important book on substance dualism that comes with breadth, depth, and insight. It incorporates a number of fields of study and academic disciplines; it is up-to-date and rigorous in its presentation and argument; and it is fresh, thoughtful, and thought-provoking. I am pleased to see this robust defense of substance dualism that pushes back against the dominant view of naturalism in the academy as well as alternative views that likewise attempt to avoid the explanatory power of substance dualism and its important implications.Paul Copan, Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics, Palm Beach Atlantic University; coeditor, The Naturalness of Belief: New Essays on Theism’s Rationality
Minding the Brain is a very up-to-date anthology on the body-mind problem. The editors have assembled a team of excellent scholars from philosophy, neuroscience, psychology, computer science, quantum physics, and mathematics. Together they provide a very strong, cross-disciplinary, and cumulative argument for the need of non-material explanations of human characteristics such as consciousness, will, feelings, and creativity. A recurrent theme of several chapters is the importance of information as a mediator between the non-material and material. The book is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand why purely physical accounts of the mind have failed, and that alternative dualistic or idealistic theories are more credible than ever. I’m sure Minding the Brain will simulate many interesting discussions and much further research.Ola Hössjer, Professor of Mathematical Statistics, Stockholm University
Minding the Brain is an intriguing and comprehensive anthology. This thought-provoking collection delves into the realms of philosophy of mind, neuroscience, psychology, and the intersections of information, computation, and quantum theory. The book presents a diverse range of perspectives and arguments, providing readers with a rich exploration of the mind-body problem and the nature of consciousness.
The book begins with an introductory chapter by the editors, setting the stage for the subsequent discussions. Angus J. L. Menuge’s chapter on declining physicalism and resurgent alternatives offers a compelling examination of philosophical viewpoints surrounding the mind. J. P. Moreland’s contribution on neuroscience and the metaphysics of consciousness and the soul raises intriguing questions about the nature of consciousness and its relationship to the brain.
One of the highlights of this book is the section dedicated to the philosophy of mind, where different perspectives such as substance dualism, idealism, and physicalism are thoroughly explored. Stewart Goetz and Charles Taliaferro present a robust defense of substance dualism, while Douglas Axe offers a commonsensical defense of idealism. These chapters provide readers with a deep understanding of the philosophical underpinnings of different theories of mind.
The exploration of neuroscience and psychology in the anthology is equally engaging. Michael Egnor’s chapter on neuroscience and dualism challenges the prevailing materialistic view, while Cristi L. S. Cooper’s discussion on free will and the limitations of Libet experiments offers a fresh perspective on agency and determinism. Joseph Green’s chapter on the limitations of cutting-edge neuroscience prompts readers to critically examine the current state of the field.
The book also studies the fascinating relationship between information, computation, and quantum theory. Bruce L. Gordon’s chapter on consciousness and quantum information offers intriguing insights into the potential role of quantum processes in understanding consciousness. Additionally, Winston Ewert’s discussion on the human mind’s sophisticated algorithm presents a compelling argument about the nature of human creativity and its computational basis.
Overall, Minding the Brain is an excellent compilation of diverse perspectives on the mind-body problem. The book covers a wide range of topics and offers deep insights into the crossroads of philosophy, neuroscience, psychology, and quantum theory. Readers with an interest in the nature of consciousness, the mind-brain relationship, and the limits of empirical science will find this book to be a valuable resource. The contributors present rigorous arguments and engage in thought-provoking discussions, making this book a must-read for those seeking a deeper understanding of the complexities of the mind and human-level intelligence.Lipo Wang, Associate Professor of the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Minding the Brain is a fascinating look at the relationship between conscious experience and the three-pound mass of neurons resting in one’s skull. Scholars from different fields address the challenge of understanding the immaterial mind using a materialist framework, and they make the case that a multidisciplinary approach is required to unravel this enigma. What follows is a tour de force of philosophy, neuroscience, and computer science that presents non-materialist solutions to the mind-brain problem. Anyone who has wondered if people are more than a pile of atoms should read this book.Andrew Knox, M.D., M.S., Assistant Professor of Neurology, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health
Polymath and raconteur David Berlinski is at it again, challenging the shibboleths of contemporary science with his inimitable blend of deep learning, close reasoning, and rapier wit. In Science After Babel he reflects on everything from Newton, Einstein, and Gödel to catastrophe theory, information theory, and the morass that is modern Darwinism. The scientific enterprise is unarguably impressive, but it shows no sign of reaching the empyrean heights it seemed to promise a century ago. “It resembles Bruegel’s Tower of Babel,” Berlinski says, “and if it suggests anything at all, it suggests that its original plans have somehow been lost.” Science endures. Scientism, it would seem, is guttering out.(more…)
Charles Darwin fathered not just a scientific theory, but a toxic social ideology that fueled racist colonial policies in Africa. In this sobering book, African scholar Olufemi Oluniyi traces the insidious impact of Darwinian ideas on British imperial policies in Northern Nigeria. Drawing on official documents, public statements, and well-attested historical events, Oluniyi documents how concepts such as evolutionary racism and survival of the fittest were systematically used to demean black Africans, consigning some people to a status of permanent inferiority. Rejecting Social Darwinism, Oluniyi makes a compelling argument for the equality of all human beings, and for recognizing Africa’s many seminal contributions to the history of human civilization.(more…)