Gene Levinson: Rethinking Evolution

Cover: Rethinking Evolution

Cover: Rethinking Evolution

RETHINKING EVOLUTION:
THE REVOLUTION THAT’S HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT

Gene Levinson, PhD
World Scientific Publishing Company, Oct 2019 (Europe); Nov 2019 (U.S)
Hardbound, $138; ebook, $110
ISBN-10: 1786347261; ISBN-13: 9781786347268
ebook ISBN: 9781786347282
Institutional ebook ISBN: 9781786347275

Levinson reports:

Having grown up in Berkeley, California in the 1960s, it seemed only natural that I should rebel against the established conceptual order. As a biology undergraduate at Berkeley in the 1970s, I ranted—during lectures and office hours—about the limitations of the 1940s “Modern Synthesis” of evolution, which held that selection is the only creative force in natural selection, and mutations are just random raw material.

Gene Levinson, PhD

Gene Levinson, PhD

I was fascinated by the evolution of the genes that drive the development of embryos, and the nonrandom ways that DNA sequences can change. As a graduate student at UC Irvine, I continued to stir up trouble by insisting that I pursue my own as-yet-unfunded research interests. This led me to discover slipped-strand mispairing (SSM), the fundamental mechanism that expands repetitive DNA sequences in multicellular organisms. SSM accelerates gene duplications, which are among the best examples of nonrandom changes in DNA that provide opportunities for preservation by natural selection.

Only recently did I come to accept that I am a generalist who prefers to communicate the “big picture” and to challenge existing paradigms. I connected on LinkedIn with a brilliant popular science writer and quantum physicist, Ruth Kastner, who argues that the logical potential for events to occur is as much a part of reality as actual events that occur in time and space, and that potential is constantly changed by previous events. I reasoned that previous events also lay the groundwork for potential future opportunities in evolution. Therefore, there’s more to natural selection than incremental, random change alone.

Ruth encouraged me to write a book and wrote a letter recommending me to an acquiring editor at World Scientific Publishing Company, leading to a book contract. Once I started writing in earnest, it took me a year of half-time writing to finish the book.

My advice to aspiring writers is to listen to the immortal words of Stan Lee: “If you have an idea that you genuinely think is good, don’t let some idiots talk you out of it.”

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Nov. 20, 2019

Advance Copy

For this column, NASW book editor Lynne Lamberg asks NASW authors to tell how they came up with the idea for their book, developed a proposal, found an agent and publisher, funded and conducted research, and put the book together. She also asks what they wish they had known before they began working on their book, what they might do differently the next time, and what tips they can offer aspiring authors. She then edits the A part of that Q&A to produce the author reports you see here.

Publication of NASW members' reports in Advance Copy does not constitute NASW's endorsement of their books. NASW welcomes your comments and hopes this column stimulates productive discussions.

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