Saturday, 27 November 2010

Philip S. Skell – a brave dissident of Darwinian evolution

Professor Philip Skell doubted this scenario. Image courtesy of José-Manuel Benito Álvarez, Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

Philip S. Skell, a member of the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and Emeritus Evan Pugh Professor at Pennsylvania State University, died last Sunday at the age of 91.

Skell, a professor of chemistry, was famous for his work in carbene chemistry. Later he found out that Darwinian explanations were often completely unnecessary. Evolution was not the cornerstone of science that many had assumed.

He realised that the scientific community often discriminated against those who dared to doubt Darwinian evolution.

Together with hundreds of other critics of neo-Darwinian evolution, he signed the document A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism.

In 2005 he criticised Darwinism in a famous article in The Scientist. He for instance said:

Natural selection makes humans self-centered and aggressive – except when it makes them altruistic and peaceable. Or natural selection produces virile men who eagerly spread their seed – except when it prefers men who are faithful protectors and providers. When an explanation is so supple that it can explain any behavior, it is difficult to test it experimentally, much less use it as a catalyst for scientific discovery.”

Professor Skell thought that Darwinian explanations were redundant.


Luskin, Casey. 2010. Giving Thanks for Dr. Philip Skell. (25 November).

Skell, Philip S. 2005. Why do we invoke Darwin? Evolutionary theory contributes little to experimental biology. The Scientist 19(16):10 (29 August).