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Explore Evolution: The Arguments For and Against Neo-Darwinism Paperback – January 1, 2007

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Two microbiologists, two philosophers of science and a technical writer present for students a concise introduction to the cases, both pro and con, regarding major aspects of neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory.

Within the evolutionary-biology realm, the authors explore how Darwin's theories of natural selection and universal common descent are faring these days. They use an inquiry-based approach: point, counterpoint. The book's brevity precludes extended treatment of topics, but through succinct language and extensive use of illustrated sidebars and summary boxes, an impressive amount of terrain is covered in a colorful and lively fashion. The role of the fossil record, biogeography and anatomical, molecular and embryonic similarities are rolled out to buttress the theory of universal common descent. Counterclaims follow that seek to undermine the earlier conclusions, including the circular reasoning of the molecular clock, the potential fabrications of Haeckel's ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny, how differing family trees are created via anatomical and molecular patterns of relationships and the meaning of gaps in fossil evidence. They move on to probe how the evidence squares with theories of variation, heritability and differential reproduction; that is, the creative power of natural selection. Challenges to examples of artificial selection and microevolution namely, the beak of the finch and the peppered moth classics take them apart without necessarily dismissing the theories writ large. The same can be said for natural selection as a whole, from disagreements that impugn the validity of co-option in forming complex organisms, or the importance of mutation in producing fundamentally new life forms. Still, in the end, it is Darwinism that raises the interesting questions, which is what good science is all about.

Substantive food for thought about natural selection and universal common descent, and surprisingly rich for so concise a treatment.

--Kirkus Reviews


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Hill House Publishers; 1st edition (January 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0947352481
  • ISBN-13: 978-0947352486
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 7.8 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #747,729 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 83 people found the following review helpful By D. G. Frank on February 7, 2009
Format: Paperback
I am a PhD scientist, and I also teach honors high-school math and science courses to highly gifted young people. I am convinced that Explore Evolution (EE) will stimulate more interest and encourage more young people to pursue careers in the biological sciences than any other textbook I've seen.

Most high-school biology texts present biology topics (alas, also science) as a list of static theories and stale facts, rather than in the context of an exploration and learning process which is underway, fascinating, changing by the minute, and accessible to most anyone willing to invest themselves. Especially today, as the field of biology is expanding in so many new and exciting ways.

I am also convinced that this book will SWEEP the home-schooling community, as the prose is lucid and non-intimidating to any 'home-school parent.'

For those of you who want to understand why the ID community is critical of Neo-Darwinism, EE is an easy introduction. It is a bit shallow on its presentation of ID itself, as ID was not the focus. For a more thorough yet still accessible intro to ID, Behe's book is an essential read. Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution Behe's sequel is brilliant and thorough, but a bit more challenging read.The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism

I appreciate the inquiry approach employed in EE for use at the high-school level, and have employed it many of my classes in the past.
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Format: Paperback
Explore Evolution promotes “intelligent design” creationism. Four of the book’s five co-authors are closely tied to the “intelligent design” creationism movement. Lead author Stephen C. Meyer is a Discovery Institute (DI) vice president and program director of the DI’s Center for Science and Culture.

Beneath all its distortions, all its misrepresentations of modern evolutionary science, Explore Evolution uses familiar and long-refuted creationist anti-evolution arguments. Students who are required to read this book in a science classroom will be confused by its flagrant inaccuracies, and will be put at a disadvantage in standardized tests which require an understanding of modern biology.

NCSE and a team of consulting scientists have prepared this detailed chapter-by-chapter, page-by-page analysis of the book’s errors, failings, and distortions.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Our increasing understanding of genetics is raising more and more serious problems about the concept of biological evolution through natural selection. It's starting to look like Darwinism is too simplistic. This excellent book clearly delineates some of these difficulties from both conservative Darwinian and more progressive viewpoints.

Important: This thoughtful and scientifically erudite book does not tout Creationism. What it does do is kick back against uncritical faith in Darwinism. If genetic studies reveal that natural selection cannot explain the production of new species, then what does? No question in science today is more fascinating or more important.
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8 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Cecil Phillips on September 16, 2012
Format: Paperback
This textbook is the most balanced treatment of the scientific issues related to evolution theory that I have found anywhere. It is also one of the most readable, as it is presented at the high school and college general science levels. The graphics are excellent. Each of the main issues in evolution theory is presented in a chapter that covers both sides (and sometimes several sides) of the controversy. The key facts and interpretations are generously sourced with citations for fact-checking and deeper research into the literature.

For anyone looking for just one book that covers the main issues regarding Darwin's theory, I recommend this one. Also, the material is well suited to teaching critical thinking and other fundamentals of the scientific method. While the public controversy over Darwinian theory is often clouded with religious concepts, this text deals only with the scientific aspects, which makes it an excellent choice for use in science courses in public schools and colleges.
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9 of 18 people found the following review helpful By John Smith on July 10, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book is an enjoyable read. It is not boring. It presents both sides of the issue and has references where one can check the opposing view for more information.

As a text book, it has one exercise (project) in it towards the end. It is a good intro for a high school student, but it still lacks a lot of depth. I would expect even more from a textbook.

Who should read it? Anyone can read the book especially after the 8th grade. Anyone who has no scientific knowledge of evolution or the case against it. An advanted person who is not familiar with the evidence might find it a bit of an overview. Most college students will find it informative if they are not acquainted with the arguments but they will not find it a challenge.

If you are looking for a thorough discussion where you might be able to talk about both sides of the debate in a very in depth, educated manner. SORRY! You will only find an intro here. You might be able to look up more of the references provided to get a more in depth understanding. This is an intro. It is NOT thorough in that you will come out with a basic college education in evolutionary criticism.

I was disappointed because of this. THINKING OF IT AS A TEXTBOOK, made me think that after reading it i would be very well rounded in my understanding of the subject matter and ins and outs, but i was not. While the references are good in my opinion, no one will want to take the time to locate, access and read all the various references used in the book. We really just need a more in depth version.

I'm giving it 4 stars. I think 3 is too little and 5 is too much. It is accessible to most English speaking people, easy to read, and educational. I learned a lot but not as much as I'd like to have learned.
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