Thursday, June 9, 2011

an awesome cartoon-- and brief reviews on two books-- about evolution & Evolution

Second, I finished reading Neil Shubin's Your Inner Fish a week ago or so. (Sam Sloss had recommended it to me.) It's a good read and helpful for those who are a.) those who are open to (interested about) the role that evolutionary mechanisms might have had in the development of life on Earth; and b.) those who want to bolster their a faith in Evolution (the combination of scientific explanation and mostly a scientific-flavored narrative that the mechanisms of evolution are fully responsible for the development of life we see today). 

Shubin shares his personal experiences in fieldwork, describes advances in the field, and lays out some of the "missing links". The biggest value-added for me was his description of DNA and how various parts of it are "turned on" in different cells, within each type of animal.

I was hoping for much more on the development of vital and reproductive organs. Of those, Shubin was most compelling on the development of the ear. But why two nostrils instead of one? Why did it take so long to get bodies? The discussion of the eye was unimpressive, but was the best he could do, I suppose. In a word, he talks about why we have X, correlations between Y and X, and how we might have transitioned from Y to X, but he doesn't (can't) explain how and why evolution took us from Y to X.

I appreciate his humility at times. For example: "No sane paleontologist would ever claim that he or she had discovered 'The Ancestor'." And even though he brims with confidence at other times, he comes off well.

Unfortunately, I can't say the same thing about the book I just started (also recommended by Sam &/or Chris, I think): Jerry Coyne's Why Evolution is True. Although I didn't think about it until getting through the introduction: from the title, you can tell that the book is going to be somewhere between simplistic and propaganda. It's not as novel as Shubin's work; it looks like it'll be a primer on evolutionary mechanisms and Evolutionary claims. And it's irritating, because he does the same things he finds irritating in others-- out of ignorance or deceit...and neither is attractive. 

I'll pound his introduction and chapter 1 in a separate post (linked here).


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home