Podlich Distinguished Fellow

Genomemania
RICHARD LEWONTIN
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2001

Biologists and geneticists have been making great
claims for the Human Genome Project to answer
many if not all the mysteries of human life.
Richard Lewontin, the Alexander Agassiz Research
Professor of Biology at Harvard University and one of the
leading geneticists of our time, has vigorously challenged these
claims and attempted to show precisely what biology and
evolutionary theory can and cannot explain. Attacking reductive
misconceptions of genetic determinism, Lewontin has underscored the complex interractions of gene, organism, and environment in the development of life.

A brilliant scientist and writer, Lewontin has been called by
Clifford Geertz "the Voltaire of the Age of the Absolute Gene."
And Stephen Jay Gould has said "Lewontin is simply the
smartest man I have ever met. His knowledge and broad
humanistic perspective. . .give us the precious gift of access to his
insights, his warnings, and his distinctive view of life."
Lewontin's recent books include The Triple Helix (Harvard
University Press 2000) and It Ain't Necessarily So: The Dream of the
Human Genome and Other Illusions
(2000). He is also the author of
The Genetic Basis of Evolutionary Change (1974), Biology as
Ideology: The Doctrine of DNA
(1992), and The Dialectical Biologist (1985) (with Richard Levins). Professor Lewontin will be in
residence at Claremont McKenna College until February 24th as
a Podlich Distinguished Fellow. This year's other Podlich
Fellows discussing the implications of "Darwin and Evolution" include Professors Michael Ghiselin of the California
Academy of Sciences and David Hull of Northwestern
University (also in residence in February) and Professor
Dame Gillian Beer of Cambridge Univesity (in late March
and April).