Caption: Biology as Ideology: The Doctrine of DNA. The 1990 Massey Lectures by Richard Lewontin
Biology as Ideology: The Doctrine of DNA. The 1990 Massey Lectures by Richard Lewontin 

Episode 18 - Richard Lewontin

From: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Series: How to Think About Science
Length: 53:56

HOW TO THINK ABOUT SCIENCE: Part Eighteen of a documentary by David Cayley, a producer with the CBC Radio program IDEAS. Modern societies have tended to take science for granted as a way of knowing, ordering and controlling the world. Clips include: Richard Lewontin, an evolutionary biologist and geneticist. Read the full description.

Ep-18-lewontin_small Some years ago, on Ideas, American evolutionary biologist Richard Lewontin delivered the  annual CBC Massey Lectures under the title Biology as Ideology: The Doctrine of DNA. In his lectures Lewontin argued that science had replaced religion as what he called “the chief legitimating force in modern society.” Science sanctions the existing social order, he claimed, by telling stories about a universal “struggle for existence,” or about how we are all blindly programmed by our selfish genes. These stories, in Lewontin’s view, constitute the ideology of biology, and he has devoted much of his long career in trying pry the ideology apart from the science. In this episode he talks about how over-extended metaphors distort our understanding of both science and society.

To hear the full audio, sign up for a free PRX account or log in.

Also in the How to Think About Science series

Caption: From Knowledge to Wisdom, by Nicholas Maxell. Published by Pentire Press, 2007

Episode 24 - Nicholas Maxwell (53:57)
From: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

HOW TO THINK ABOUT SCIENCE: Part Twenty-Four of a documentary series by David Cayley, a producer with the CBC Radio program Ideas.Modern societies have tended to take science ...
Caption: The Trouble With Physics, by Lee Smolin. Published by Houghton Mifflin, 2006

Episode 23 - Lee Smolin (53:56)
From: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

HOW TO THINK ABOUT SCIENCE: Part Twenty-Three of a documentary series by David Cayley, a producer with the CBC Radio program Ideas. Modern societies have tended to take ...
Caption: The Harmony of Illusions , by Allan Young. Published by Princeton University Press, 1997

Episode 22 - Allan Young (53:56)
From: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

HOW TO THINK ABOUT SCIENCE: Part Twenty-Two of a documentary series by David Cayley, a producer with the CBC Radio program Ideas. Modern societies have tended to take science ...
Caption: Quantum Theory and the Flight from Realism, by Christopher Norris. Published by Routledge, 2000

Episode 21 - Christopher Norris and Mary Midgley (54:00)
From: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

HOW TO THINK ABOUT SCIENCE: Part Twenty-One of a documentary series by David Cayley, a producer with the CBC Radio program Ideas. Modern societies have tended to take science ...
Caption: Re-Thinking Science, published by Polity Press, 2002

Episode 20 - Michael Gibbons, Peter Scott, and Janet Atkinson Grosjean (53:56)
From: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

HOW TO THINK ABOUT SCIENCE: Part Twenty of a documentary series by David Cayley, a producer with the CBC Radio program Ideas. In this episode, he talks with Peter Scott and ...
Caption: Exploding the Gene Myth by Ruth Hubbard and Elijah Wald. Published by Beacon Press, 1999

Episode 19 - Ruth Hubbard (53:56)
From: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

HOW TO THINK ABOUT SCIENCE: Part Nineteen of a documentary by David Cayley, a producer with the CBC Radio program IDEAS. Modern societies have tended to take science for ...
Caption: Physicist and Professor of the history of science at Harvard

Episode 17 - Peter Galison (53:56)
From: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

HOW TO THINK ABOUT SCIENCE: Part Seventeen of a documentary by David Cayley, a producer with the CBC Radio program IDEAS. Modern societies have tended to take science for ...
Caption: The Scientific Revolution, by Steven Shapin. Published by University of Chicago Press, 1998

Episode 16 - Steven Shapin (53:57)
From: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

HOW TO THINK ABOUT SCIENCE: Part Sixteen of a documentary by David Cayley, a producer with the CBC Radio program IDEAS. Modern societies have tended to take science for ...
Caption: Disembodying Women, by Barbara Duden. Published by Harvard Univeristy Press, 1993

Episode 15 - Barbara Duden & Silya Samerski (53:56)
From: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

HOW TO THINK ABOUT SCIENCE: Part Fifteen of a documentary by David Cayley, a producer with the CBC Radio program IDEAS. The word gene is a scientific term, but it is now also ...
Caption: Evelyn Fox Keller

Episode 14 - Evelyn Fox Keller (53:56)
From: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

HOW TO THINK ABOUT SCIENCE: Part Fourteen of a documentary by David Cayley, a producer with the CBC Radio program IDEAS. Modern societies have tended to take science for ...

Piece Description

Some years ago, on Ideas, American evolutionary biologist Richard Lewontin delivered the  annual CBC Massey Lectures under the title Biology as Ideology: The Doctrine of DNA. In his lectures Lewontin argued that science had replaced religion as what he called “the chief legitimating force in modern society.” Science sanctions the existing social order, he claimed, by telling stories about a universal “struggle for existence,” or about how we are all blindly programmed by our selfish genes. These stories, in Lewontin’s view, constitute the ideology of biology, and he has devoted much of his long career in trying pry the ideology apart from the science. In this episode he talks about how over-extended metaphors distort our understanding of both science and society.

1 Comment Atom Feed

Caption: PRX default User image

Thanks for Lewontin

Many thanks for making this interview available on the web.. A very interesting perspective on biology...

Broadcast History

This 24 part series first aired on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Musical Works

Title Artist Album Label Year Length
SUITE RED ALEX HOUGHTON ALEX HOUGHTON: MORE LOVE. HOUGHTON 04:12
GARRY OWN... DOUG COX DOUG COX: CANADIAN BORDERLINE. MALAHAT MOUNTAI 05:37
CAUSEWAY ALEX DE GRASSI A WINDHAM HILL RETROSPECTIVE. WINDHAM HILL 06:50

Related Website

http://www.cbc.ca/ideas/features/science/index.html#