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Selected Books by Edmund Blair Bolles

  • Galileo's Commandment: 2500 Years of Great Science Writing
  • The Ice Finders: How a Poet, a Professor, and a Politician Discovered the Ice Age
  • Einstein Defiant: Genius vs Genius in the Quantum Revolution

« TwoTypes of Words | Main | The Co-evolution of Speech and Speakers »



I have to think that the review process for CSIL is not very rigorous (as is the case with many working papers volumes) since Stebbins demonstrates no more than a skimming, cursory awareness of the literature on language evolution and seems to fundamentally misunderstand the difference of opinion between Chomsky and Pinker/Jackendoff. As I understand it, Chomsky's position is not that language could not have arise by evolution, but rather that it probably did not arise piecemeal, in a slow step-by-step process. His position is, I think, that language probably arose 'overnight' with a combination of recursion mutation and exaption from other cognitive abilities. Pinker and Jackendoff would say it arose piecemeal. To hijack Chomsky's position as an argument for considering 'alternatives' to Darwinism is highly dishonest.

Stebbins' ignorance of evolutionary theory and how it works is betrayed in a recent review of a book on in which he admits "I've long wondered how unguided natural forces, without the benefits of intent, are supposed to "adapt for" anything." (

In any case, I doubt the paper will be picked up by anyone, it being from a grad student in an obscure publication. He should probably hope no one over at Panda's Thumb picks up on it.

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