I see on Pharyngula that Richard Dawkins has claimed that Mary Midgley “confessed to never reading the Selfish Gene”:http://www.richarddawkins.net/article,1664,Against-the-grain-There-are-questions-that-science-cannot-answer,Mary-Midgley-The-Independent#71923 before reviewing it in _Philosophy._
This is untrue, whether or not he believes it.
When he first told it me, in, I think, 1995, I checked it out. I asked Ullica Segerstråle, the person to whom MM was supposed to have made this confession, whether it had happened and she denied it. She was embarrassed that it should be believed. Later, after a supper with RD, she concluded the whole thing had been “a misunderstanding”. On that basis, I was happy to describe the incident as I did in the Darwin Wars, as one showing that Dawkins was reluctant to believe that anyone could have misunderstood his book to the extent that MM did.
I take it that the US interview with MM — from which the story arose — was taped. US was, after all, researching a scholarly book at the time. So there should be definitive evidence one way or another.
US believes — as I do, and as MM herself would, I think, now accept — that she got the biology wrong. But she never said she had not read the book: why should she? Of course she had read the book before reviewing it.
I will write more if I have time, and the story rolls on.