As a founding Friend of Charles Darwin, I am hardly going to complain about hagiographic telly series presented by Mr Prof Dawkins – and episode one was a pretty good overview of Nat Sel for those unfamiliar with either Dawkins’ books or evolution generally. Two minor gripes: first, when talking to that multi-ethnic class of schoolkids, he tended to present Natural Selection as a refutation of theism (at least implicitly), when, technically, it is no such thing; even the Vatican accepts Darwinism these days – even if it was probably God’s idea. What Natural Selection refutes, demolishes, argues against, debunks, pisses on from a great height etc., is that viral menace known as Creationism. If Dawkins had clarified this distinction, then the more religiously-inclined kids would have been less resistant to accepting evolution. Get them to drop the Adam and Eve for now, and let them join up the rest of the dots in their own good time – if they want to.
Then there was the section on nature ‘red in tooth and claw’, with some fabulously gory wildlife footage. Here the emphasis fell almost entirely on predictably cliched definitions of adaptive fitness, such as speed, strength, aggression etc., with no mention of other forms of adaptive fitness that might be expressed in co-operative or altruistic behaviours – or symbiosic relationships beteen species. Then there was sexual selection – not mentioned at all.
That said, the series has a way to go, and it’s off to a good start, in my humble.
Oh, yeah, and they should get rid of the gratuitous sound effects.