Ok, Susan Blackmore may appear somewhat new-age but let me promise you her understanding of the boundaries and operation of science is unsurpassed. Sue holds a PHD in psychology and spent much of her scientific career attempting to find evidence regarding the existence of psychic powers. In spite of devoting many years to this pursuit she eventually abandoned it, having come to understand the low probability of any confirming evidence showing up that could be considered scientific.
Since then her research has been roughly split between consciousness studies and Memetics. Her efforts on Consciousness, what the philosophers refer to as 'the hard problem", has been informed by her research into Memetics. Memetics is the study of cultural evolution by means of replicating memes and is a theory within the umbrella of Universal Darwinism.
Richard Dawkins, who first introduced Memetics in his book The Selfish Gene, which is considered one of the great works of 20th century biology, called Blackmore's book The Meme Machine the best shot Memetics could have in establishing itself as a scientific discipline.
John O. Campbell
That would be me! This site is a result of my lifelong fascination with Darwinian processes and their potential for providing a unified understanding of Science.
As an independent researcher I have written numerous books and journal articles that attempt to provide synthesis and context for the many exciting theories under the tent of Universal Darwinism and inferential systems.
As one who reveres Einstein, I follow his injunction that the purpose of science is to 'awaken this feeling (the cosmic religious experience) and to keep it alive in those who are receptive to it.' It is my hope that the unifying concepts of Universal Darwinism may serve as a window on this view of science.
Richard Dawkins is the retired Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford after an illustrious career combining eminence in research and the furthering of pubic understanding of science. He is one of the foremost theorists of the past century within the field of biological evolution, and can be credited with introducing the first scientific theory of cultural evolution: Memetics.
Dawkins is an outspoken defender of science. He has been tenacious in revealing the irrational basis of fundamentalist Christians who insist on legislation to allow the teaching of non-scientific subject matter in our schools' science classes.
Since retirement he has been wielding his razor of rationality to strike shame into religious fanatics of all stripes who dare suggest that their theistic 'inspirations' qualify as scientific content.
Daniel Dennett is the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University. He is a prominent philosopher of science whose research has often focused on Darwinian science and the power of Darwinian processes.
Nothing, I believe, illustrates so well Dennett's penetrating understanding of science specifically as it concerns the role of Darwinian processes as this quote from one of his classic books: Darwin's Dangerous Idea.
If I were to give an award for the single best idea anyone has ever had, I’d give it to Darwin, ahead of Newton and Einstein and everyone else. In a single stroke, the idea of evolution by natural selection unifies the realm of life, meaning, and purpose with the realm of space and time, cause and effect, mechanism and physical law.
David Deutsch is a physicists at Oxford University and has pioneered the field of quantum computation. He is perhaps best known to the public for his book: The Fabric of Reality. This book is an inspirational proposal of 'a theory of everything' composed of four mutually supportive areas of knowledge: quantum physics, epistemology, quantum computational modeling and Darwinian processes.
Wikipedia summarizes the Darwinian processes strand of his theory as:
Richard Dawkins's refinement of Darwinian evolutionary theory and the modern evolutionary synthesis, especially the ideas of replicator and meme as they integrate with Popperian problem-solving (the epistemological strand).
More recently David has developed constructor theory which provides a framework for all physical theories. The most fundamental concept in this theory is knowledge. As David descibes the relationship between existence and knowledge:
Everything that is not forbidden by the laws of nature is achievable with the right knowledge.
Karl Friston is professor of Neurology at University College London. He has been a principle participant in formulating the theory of the Bayesian Brain.
This theory treats the brain as an adaptive system attempting to model reality according to the data it receives from the outside world in an manner exactly similar to that employed by science to construct models conforming to the evidence. In both cases the proposed logical glue, used to bind data to model, is Bayesian Probability.
The Bayesian Brain theory is causing great excitement within the community of neurological and behavioural researchers as it is considered by many to be the leading candidate for a unified theory of brain function.
The Bayesian Brain theory is embedded within Karl's principle of variational free energy. Free energy within this principle refers to a universal imperative to minimize errors between a model and an existing entity brought into existence by that model - think for example of a genetic model and a biological phenotype.
Accuracy can be improved between the model and the existing entitiy in two ways, either by making the model better at predicting entities which can exist (natural selection) or by intiating actions that will cause the model predictions to be more accurate (embryology).
Lee Smolin is a an adjunct professor of physics at the University of Waterloo and researcher at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. The Perimeter Institute, established through the largess of the inventor of the Blackberry, is truly a premiere hotbed of research into fundamental physics and will soon be a research home to Stephen Hawkings.
Lee Smolin is best known for his ground breaking work on Loop Quantum Gravity, one of physics leading candidates for a 'theory of everything' encompassing both quantum theory and Einstein's theory of General Relativity.
Lesser know is Smolin's theory of Cosmological Natural Selection which attributes the 'just right' properties of our universe as a result of their being selected by a Darwin process.
Wojciech Zurek is Laboratory Fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory and a leading authority on quantum theory. The main thrust of Zurek's extensive research career has concerned quantum decoherence, the pivotal point of the famous Bohr Einstein debates concerning the nature of reality. Quantum decoherence is concerned with the manner in which quantum phenomena enters our reality in its classical guise.
A culmination of Zurek's research is the theory of Quantum Darwinism where he reveals the solution to this debate with a Darwinian process at its core.