The Gnus think Dawkins is some world famous scientist. But in reality, he is not much of a scientist. EO Wilson agrees:
Although Wilson has much to be arrogant about, few who have met him would accuse him of it. But the criticism must have hurt, and Wilson was evidently still feeling stung by it when writing his latest book, in which he rather waspishly describes Dawkins, a distinguished Fellow of the Royal Society and retired Oxford professor, as an “eloquent science journalist”.
“What else is he? I mean journalism is a high and influential profession. But he’s not a scientist, he’s never done scientific research. My definition of a scientist is that you can complete the following sentence: ‘he or she has shown that…’,” Wilson says.
“I don’t want to go on about this because he and I were friends. There is no debate between us because he’s not in the arena. I’m sorry he’s so upset. He could have distinguished himself by looking at the evidence, that’s what most science journalists do. When a journalist named Dawkins wrote a review in Prospect urging people not to read my book, I thought the last time I heard something like that I think it came from an 18th-century bishop.”
“My definition of a scientist is that you can complete the following sentence: ‘he or she has shown that…’,” Wilson says.”
Nice. And what has Dawkins shown? Dawkins himself always replies with his notion of an extended phenotype.
Yet after writing the book decades ago, did Dawkins ever go into the lab or the field to try to show his hypothesis was correct or incorrect? Nope. All he did was speculate about it and he left real scientists to do the work.
Yes, journalists can come up with hypotheses that scientists can later test. But that doesn’t make the journalist a scientist.