I'm not sure if this subject is a relevent one for the Ridley discussion, but it might be interesting to ask his view on this:
Franz deWaal gave what was for me the best lecture at the Values conference at the weekend.
His main point was that humans - like apes -are not innately "bad". He argued that there is a strand of thought going back to Huxley (in deWaal's book "The Ape and the Sushi Master" he takes this back to Hobbes) in which Humans think of themselves as being innately bad but with a thin veneer of culture which gives them their "goodness". He attacks this view and argues that love and niceness evolved too. He argued that Darwin agreed with him on this point and that Huxley misrepresented Darwin's views.
Then he put up a slide. Imagine a cutaway view of the Earth with the core at the centre and the mantle around it and with a very thin crust at the surface. Now imagine that the very thin crust is labelled good the mantle is labelled bad and the core is labelled very bad. I don't know if this will work without the picture but it had the audience in roars of laughter.
He argued that Dawkins perpetuates this myth by saying that we can fight our "nasty" nature.
There is something of a history of disagreement between Richard Dawkins and Franz deWaal on this point.
Dawkins has accused deWaal of poetic science for somthing he wrote in one of his earlier books.
In the conference they clashed about deWaal's point . Dawkins defended Huxley and quoted Darwin's statement about "What a book a devil's chaplain might write". In reply deWaal said that Huxley had been influenced by his religious upbringing and that was why he saw it so black and white.
Anyone have a view? Edited by: PeterDF at: 10/13/03 5:48 pm