The idea of a world run by scientists is a conceit I — like many other scientists — have occasionally indulged in. It’s hard not to, in a world sleepwalking into climate catastrophe, governed by science denialists. But David Sloan Wilson, a professor of biological sciences and anthropology at Binghamton University, not only indulges in such fantasies, he argues for them. In his new book, “This View of Life: Completing the Darwinian Revolution,” Wilson suggests that the framework of Darwinian evolution could even be a kind of cure-all for 21st century problems like globalization and automation.
Of course, this sets off all sorts of alarm bells about “social Darwinism,” the 19th century idea that socially powerful individuals are innately better than weaker ones, which underpinned early 20th century theories of race, justified colonialism, and rationalized eugenics and Nazi-ism.