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Explore Evolution: The Arguments For and Against Neo-Darwinism Paperback

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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: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,103,578 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


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

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 78 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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10 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Jack on January 7, 2013
Format: Paperback
I am a student in a 10th grade biology course, and we are using this text in our studies of evolution. Although we have not quite finished the book yet, I absolutely love this book. I am very pleased to finally find a book that looks from the matter at a perspective other than the "evolution and no other option" viewpoint that is forced into most students' minds.

I love a good debate, and I find it very refreshing to see people question the theory of evolution, while still explaining the evidence that scientists use to explain it. The only complaint I have is that this book lacks depth, and only gives a very basic explanation of the various theories. I will likely further my reading, as this topic interests me greatly.

I am disappointed to see so many 1-star reviews, simply because people don't like anything that dares question their evolution theories. It's sad to see such closed-mindedness (not that the other end of the spectrum is any less guilty), though I suppose it can't be helped.

Regardless, I found this to be a very helpful introductory material to the subject of evolution and the many theories surrounding it. I hope to delve deeper into the subject via further reading. I would recommend to this to any high school student or even someone in their early years of college who want a glimpse at both sides of the topic.
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8 of 16 people found the following review helpful By R. Martinez on June 21, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book is not a Biology Text book, but it seems to be designed to supplement the study of Biology. The book emphasizes the basic premises of the Theory of Evolution, and brings to light its limitations. Here is an example: Fruit flies and wasps which are every similar in body form (phenotype). These two insects were theoretically assumed (by the theory) to share gene sequences and pathways (genotype) and explained their similarities in their body structures . If evolution is to be true any transformation of these insects could be explained by means of DNA (small) alteration (gene tinkering) to create new or altered body parts, that's assuming genotype and phenotype are correlated. This way of reasoning would be conceptually acceptable. But it has been found that their genotypes are not correlated in some cases. Although they have a strong semblance, their gene decoding schemes follow different pathways. These theoretical failure of the theory of evolution would be hard to find in the more general biology text books.
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6 of 13 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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