What is Richard Lewontin most known for?

From Reddit. https://www.reddit.com/r/psychology/comments/3hktp8/try_phacking_for_yourself_the_process_of_fishing/cu8rexf?context=3

 [–]jufnitz 2 points

Not a bad place to plug the excellent, accessible, and snarky Statistics Done Wrong, which explains this problem with p-values along with many other, similarly rampant statistical missteps in natural and social science.

Also too, this:

Science is not a magic wand that turns everything it touches to truth. Instead, “science operates as a procedure of uncertainty reduction,” said Nosek, of the Center for Open Science. “The goal is to get less wrong over time.” This concept is fundamental — whatever we know now is only our best approximation of the truth. We can never presume to have everything right.

…is what philosophers of science have been saying for decades now, contrary to the lay tendency to invest in science the social and ideological capital once held by organized religion. Sure there are scientists who encourage this tendency, but this isn’t necessarily distinguishable from rank self-interest fit for the most soulless corporate executive.


Lewontin is not the right person to cite for skepticism. He is best known for his fallacy with regards to racial divisions.

[–]jufnitz 1 point

Among the general population of working scientists, Lewontin is “best known” for his groundbreaking contributions to evolutionary biology and evolutionary genetics. The circles among which he’s “best known for his fallacy with regards to racial divisions” tend to be those of scientific eugenics and lay racism.


His Wikipedia page mentions his anti-determinism work/activism in the introduction section too. :)

You can also look at his citations: https://scholar.google.dk/scholar?hl=en&q=lewontin&btnG=&as_sdt=1%2C44&as_sdtp=

His #1 citation is his famous paper against the adaptionist program, i.e. part of his anti-determinism work. His #2 fits what you are saying. His #3 is again part of his general behavior genetics/differential psychology denialism. #4 concerns the very question of how to apportion human diversity. #5 is his communist biology manifesto (didn’t we try that once before?). And so on.

You can also look at his publications the last 10 years, they seem to be exclusively or mostly about his denialism project, i.e. political activism. He states this himself in his own books. See also Defenders of the truth.

So yeah, he is mostly known for his political activist biology. He did some real work a long time ago, for which he is still rightfully known to population geneticists.