Podcast on Kropotkin - A colder voyage of the Beagle

Podcast on Kropotkin - A colder voyage of the Beagle

Biologist Lee Dugatkin discusses his latest book, which is about Kropotkin, 'The Prince of Evolution' on Skeptically Speaking podcast.

Lee Dugatkin has written numerous books on the evolution of co-operation and in his latest book, The Prince of Evolution, surveys the life and work of Pyotr Alexeyevich Kropotkin.

He begins the interview on Skeptically Speaking discussing Kropotkin's early life before moving on to his early natural history and geography work in Siberia, described as 'a colder version of the HMS Beagle voyages'. The link between his science and anarchist politics takes up a significant portion of the interview, including his imprisonment, how he coped with prison life, and his escape in 1876.

The book is the most recent work of popular science to discuss Kropotkin's scientific work - previously, Stephen Jay Gould had written about him in an essay 'Kropotkin Was No Crackpot'. More recently geneticist Steve Jones devoted a whole chapter to Kropotkin in his book Coral, and in 2010, historian Oren Harman discussed his work in The Price of Altruism.

An excerpt of the book is at Scientific American.

Posted By

Sep 19 2011 18:53


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Sep 21 2011 17:46

Thanks Choccy,

I listened to this going to and from work today. It was pretty good. The stuff about the background to 'Mutual Aid', and it being a polemic against TH Huxely was interesting.


Sep 22 2011 19:36

Yeah it's not bad, I've read the first chapter of the book, and while Dugatkin doesn't necessarily endorse Kropotkin's politics, he's certainly very sympathetic to his science and keen to redress the balance in terms of noting Kropotkin's scientific influence.

Tellingly, lots of researchers in group selection (EO Wilson, David Sloan Wilson) don't seem to cite Kropotkin as a much of an influence at all. Dugatkin clearly thinks this is a serious oversight.

Sep 22 2011 19:52

Yeah, thanks for posting. I wish there were more podcast like that.

Sep 23 2011 15:33

Science podcasts or politics ones? There's a lot of very decent science ones - Massimo Pigliucci and Julia Galef do a good one, Rationally Speaking, that occasionally touches on the interface between science and politics, although they're liberals.

I have to say I have yet to find any good political podcasts. I generally only listen to science, philosophy or sport ones.

Sep 23 2011 17:06

Political. Do you have links to the Pigliucci and Galef ones though?

Sep 24 2011 11:48

Yeah their archive is at http://www.rationallyspeakingpodcast.org/archive/
Their conclusions are often frustrating but the topics themselves are interesting - critiques of evolutionary psychololgy, gender research, transhumanism etc