5 August 2008

Media and blog reaction to 'The Genius of Charles Darwin' (updated).

In the Guardian, Charlie Brooker is just on fire. Any scientist who feels under-appreciated should go and read this. Pardon me if I quote:
Or rather, take The Genius Of Darwin (Mon, 8pm, C4), the latest documentary from professional God-hatin' Professor Yaffle impersonator Richard Dawkins, which sets out to calmly and lucidly explain a) Why Darwin was so ace, and b) Just how much evidence there is to support his findings.

Darwin's theory of evolution was simple, beautiful, majestic and awe-inspiring. But because it contradicts the allegorical babblings of a bunch of made-up old books, it's been under attack since day one. That's just tough luck for Darwin. If the Bible had contained a passage that claimed gravity is caused by God pulling objects toward the ground with magic invisible threads, we'd still be debating Newton with idiots too.
Update: ah, joy. The Guardian's Nancy Banks-Smith is possibly the finest television reviewer to grace the planet or the language and she too watched TGofCD. Go read.

The Daily Telegraph: James Walton contrasts Dawkins's enthusiasm for evolution with his inability to see a religious belt without hitting below it.

Merle Brown at The Herald says just what I thought of the programme: was the subject matter gripping enough to stop passing viewers going on to the soap operas? Probably not, she decided, but was enthusiastic about the quality of the programme.

Slamming your hand in a car door may be preferable to reading The Daily Mirror's forty-watt review of the programme, but I include it for the sake of completeness.

A truly informed commentator is Mark Pallen, Professor of Microbial Genomics at Birmingham University. He writes an excellent overview of the programme:
In general I thought it was an accomplished entry-level piece on Darwin and evolution that will go down well with non-expert viewers (as judged from a sample of my wife and two children) and meets Dawkins’ usual high standards of linguistic craftsmanship—I particularly liked the one sentence summary of natural selection: “The race is survival, the finishing line reproduction!”
Prof Pallen does have reservations - he really is worth a read. His blog The Rough Guide to Evolution is new, and should be bookmarked.

For the reaction of the best informed and most erudite evolutionary elephant in the blogosphere, go and read Milennium Elephant's "Darwin was a genius but these guys are nuts!".

Dan at Wordage broadly gave it the thumbs-up as an explanation of evolution.

Richard Darwkins makes Frugal Dougal at Tales from a Draughty Fen grumpy, so he never misses a gawk at the Dawk. A thoughtful but disapproving review which takes issue with Prof. Dawkins' constant attacks on religion.

The title Question Darwin tells you all you need to know about this blog's opinions on Darwin. It's a lengthy negative review, with one punchy comment. "There are none so blind as those that cannot see."

Benedict White at aconservative's blog thinks "Darwkins is a plonker". Too much Richard, not enough Charles, Benedict thinks.

If I've missed your review, leave a comment or drop an email to peter -at- thebeagleproject.com


Cait H said...

I did like the programme, in as much as I enjoyed the presentation and he showed admirable patience with those kids, I thought.

What I did think was though - where the hell are the prime time BBC1 programmes about Darwin? the only kids who are going to see this show are the ones who already accept Darwin and the facts of evolution.

Unless teachers show it in schools.

Karen James said...

The Beeb is planning a LOT of Darwin programming - find out more here.

Karen James said...

p.s. Peter, either your links to the Guardian are wonky or my dial-up is especially cranky tonight.