13
Oct
09

The Greatest Show on Earth

In case you have not read Dawkins’ latest book, “The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution,” I highly recommend it for those of you with only a cursory knowledge of evolution or biology in general. While it is by no means a comprehensive documentation of all the evidence for evolution, it does touch on many fallacies and arguments often put forth against evolution. However, it does much more than this. It describes, in classic Dawkins style, a rather broad sample of the fossil, molecular, biogeographical, embryological, and experimental evidence for evolution ranging from Lenski’s experiments to Endler’s guppy experiments and many others. Even those that have taken college courses in evolutionary biology, but have not kept up with the literature of the past decade or so would greatly benefit from this book. While I disagree with many of Dawkins’ metaphors, such as DNA “code” and other falsehoods, I nevertheless think these falsehoods are useful in the introductory style or writing in which they are used for only a basic introduction. In fact, I may even go so far as to say these are necessary for this particular target audience. For those of you at least moderately familiar with evolutionary biology, Dawkins may not tell you anything new (or he may), but his manner of explaining this demonstrates, if nothing else, a useful model in how to present this information to the uninformed.

I must admit I am genuinely unimpressed with this book in terms of information contained within it (I knew about pretty much everything he covered except for the lack of fossil flatworms and a few other points), but I am very impressed with what I have learned reading between the lines regarding how Dawkins presents this information.

Advertisements

1 Response to “The Greatest Show on Earth”


  1. November 25, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    I was disturbed by how many minor mistakes there were. For example, he said that Carbon-13 had a very short half life and so wasn’t useful for radioactive dating. In fact, the problem is sort of the opposite. C-13 is stable. Moreover, under certain conditions the fact that you have two separate stable carbon isotopes can actually be useful. This is the sort of thing where if he had had an expert in that area read it over they would have caught it immediately.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Join the best atheist themed blogroll!

RSS Adventures in Ethics and Science

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Blag Hag

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS denialism blog

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS ERV

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Greg Laden’s Blog

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Laelaps

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Lawful Good Wonk

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Pharyngula

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Tetrapod Zoology

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS White Coat underground

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

Older stuff

wordpress stats

%d bloggers like this: