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Evolutionary biologist gets to bottom of goodness

Evolutionary biologist gets to bottom of goodness

“In a world supposedly governed by ruthless survival of the fittest, why do we see acts of goodness in both animals and humans?”

It is a question evolutionary biologist Dr Lee Dugatkin from the University of
Louisville, Kentucky will address when he opens a ten-day tour of New Zealand on Monday as the first guest speaker in the 2014 Allan Wilson Centre Lecture Series.

Hosted by Massey University, the Allan Wilson Centre is one of seven centres of research excellence throughout New Zealand engaging scientists examining issues related to the origin, distribution, genetic differences and survival of our unique plants and animals, including humans.

As one of the world’s leading experts on the subject of the evolution of behaviour, Dr Dugatkin addresses some of these issues in his talk The Evolution of Goodness at centres throughout New Zealand from April 28 to May 6.

Dr Dugatkin says the question about acts of goodness in animals and humans plagued Charles Darwin in the 1850s as he developed his theory of evolution through natural selection.

“Indeed, Darwin worried that the goodness he observed in nature could be the Achilles heel of his theory,” Dr Dugatkin says. “Ever since then, scientists and other thinkers have engaged in a fierce debate about the origins of goodness that has dragged politics, philosophy and religion into what remains a major question for evolutionary biology.”

Dr Dugatkin will be speaking at the following venues:

Nelson, Old St John’s, 320 Hardy St, 6pm, Monday April 28. Christchurch, University of Canterbury Central Lecture Theatre 1, 6pm,Tuesday, April 29.

Dunedin, St David’s Lecture Theatre, University of Otago, Thursday, 6.30pm, May 1.Tauranga, Tauranga Power Boat and Yacht Club, 90 Keith Allan Drive, Sulphur Point, 6pm (for 7pm start). Monday May 5. Bookings essential for catering purposes.

Auckland, Auckland Museum Events Centre, 6.15pm,Tuesday, May 6. There is a charge for this lecture: $15/$10. A further event at Wellington is sold out.

Go to this link for further information and audio from a Radio New Zealand interview with Dr Dugatkin.


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