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Intelligent Thought: Science versus the Intelligent Design Movement Paperback – May 9, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; First Vintage Books Edition edition (May 9, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307277224
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307277220
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #524,226 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Writer and editor Brockman (What We Believe but Cannot Prove), who publishes the online magazine Edge, has assembled sixteen short essays by prominent scientists on current thinking about evolution. A few of the contributors, such as Jerry A. Coyne and Daniel C. Dennett, use close readings of Intelligent Design (ID) advocates' claims to argue that ID is a political or ideological movement without scientific legitimacy. These arguments are concise and persuasive, if sometimes familiar; strong evidence and wide acceptance in the scientific community have made evolution central to biology and related branches. The most fresh and interesting essays essentially ignore ID to explore aspects of evolutionary biology, including paleontologist Tim D. White considering evidence for Homo sapiens' evolution, psychologist Steven Pinker on the compatibility of evolution and ethics, and geologist Scott D. Sampson proposing primary science education that links evolution and ecology. As a whole, this sampler makes a powerful cross-discipline case for teaching evolution as an accepted biological consensus-as opposed to "teaching the debate"-and offers glimpses into how the science behind the theory continues to evolve in a range of fields.
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Review

“Evolutionary biology certainly hasn’t explained everything that perplexes biologists, but intelligent design hasn’t yet tried to explain anything at all.” –Daniel C. Dennett, Philosopher

“Natural selection is not some desperate last resort of a theory. It is an idea whose plausibility and power hits you between the eyes with a stunning force, once you understand it in all its elegant simplicity.” –Richard Dawkins, Evolutionary Biologist

“An evolutionary understanding of the human condition, far from being incompatible with a moral sense, can explain why we have one.” –Steven Pinker, Psychologist

Not only is ID markedly inferior to Darwinism at explaining and understanding nature but in many ways it does not even fulfill the requirements of a scientific theory. –Jerry A. Coyne, evolutionary biologist

The geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky famously declared, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” One might add that nothing in biology makes sense in the light of intelligent design. –Jerry A. Coyne, evolutionary biologist

Evolutionary biology certainly hasn’t explained everything that perplexes biologists, but intelligent design hasn’t yet tried to explain anything at all. —Daniel C. Dennett, philosopher and cognitive scientist

A denial of evolution–however motivated–is a denial of evidence, a retreat from reason to ignorance. —Tim D. White, paleontologist

Natural selection is not some desperate last resort of a theory. It is an idea whose plausibility and power hits you between the eyes with a stunning force, once you understand it in all its elegant simplicity. —Richard Dawkins, evolutionary biologist

The supernatural explanation fails to explain because it ducks the responsibility to explain itself.—Richard Dawkins, evolutionary biologist

Nothing indicates that people who believe that life arose by chance also believe that morality is haphazard. —Scott Atran, anthropologist and psychologist

An evolutionary understanding of the human condition, far from being incompatible with a moral sense, can explain why we have one. —Steven Pinker, a cognitive scientist

To state that a given organ is so improbable that it requires design is just ill founded. The argument uses standard probability, which does not apply to the evolution of the biosphere. —Stuart A. Kauffman, theoretical biologist

We don’t have an intelligent designer (ID), we have a bungling consistent evolver (BCE). Or maybe an adaptive changer (AC). In fact, what we have in the most economical interpretation is, of course, evolution. —Lisa Randall, physicist

What counts as a controversy must be delineated with care, as we want students to distinguish between scientific challenges and sociopolitical ones. —Marc D. Hauser, evolutionary psychologist

Incredulity doesn’t count as an alternative position or critique. —Marc D. Hauser, evolutionary psychologist

Rather than removing meaning from life, an evolutionary perspective can and should fill us with a sense of wonder at the rich sequence of natural systems that gave us birth and continues to sustain us. —Scott D. Sampson, paleontologist

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Customer Reviews

Overall, the book was a good read, but some of the essays seemed out of place in this work.
S. Potter
The reason this book is important is because it shows that such belief is fine, but we need to acknowledge that it is a 'belief' & should not start calling it science.
@souvikstweets
It is certainly important reading, given the efforts being made to turn "intelligent design" into a "science."
J.P.P.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
In "Intelligent Thought: Science Versus The Intelligent Design Movement" editor and literary agent John Brockman has assembled sixteen insightful, quite well-written, essays from leading scientists and philosophers regarding the so-called "Evolution vs. Intelligent Design creationism" debate. While most essays offer ample refutations of Intelligent Design, others explore other, related issues, ranging from the evolution of human consciousness and whether there is indeed evidence supporting the very idea of a "designed" universe. Noted evolutionary geneticist Jerry Coyne distinguishes between "soft" scientific Intelligent Design, and its harder "religious" version, in the opening essay, "Intelligent Design: The Faith That Dare Not Speak Its Name". Eminent philosopher David Dennett explains why Intelligent Design is a hoax in "The Hoax of Intelligent Design and How It Was Perpetrated", discussing at length, favorite Intelligent Design rhetorical techniques like "insisting" that a scientific controversy exists when one doesn't, simply by criticizing or misinterpreting valid published scientific research (One that is clearly a favorite pastime of Discovery Institute mendacious intellectual pornographer William Dembski.). Paleontologists Tim D. White and Neil H. Shubin weigh in with succinct essays on, respectively, the hominoid fossil record ("Human Evolution: The Evidence") and the evolutionary transition from fish to tetrapods ("The `Great" Transition"). Historian of science Frank J. Sulloway explains "Why Darwin Rejected Intelligent Design".Read more ›
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52 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Rhoads on May 31, 2006
Format: Paperback
Over 200 years after the Enlightenment, and about 150 years after Darwin's theory revolutionized biology, most of the United States (among other countries) remains incredulous towards biology and scientifically illiterate. Coupled with a popular conservative movement, dedicated to actively fighting progress in the biological sciences, and intellectual thought in general, the capacity of future generations to advance science and technology is being threatened.

This threat is called Intelligent Design, and slowly the science community is recognizing that to combat this threat, they as scientists must reach out to the public at large to proactively explain the utility and necessity of their chosen fields, and in relation to Evolution, in particular. In that vein steps John Brockman and a list of 16 highly-respected contemporary scientists, with exceptionally well-written essays.

Intelligent Thought's greatest weakness is that it only offers 16 essays - the scope, impact, and supporting evidence of Darwin's The Origin of Species could accommodate many more discussions. As such, this book will not convert the radical devotees and preachers of Intelligent Design, but you can count on it to bring to focus at least a few concepts related to Evolutionary Theory that all but the most well-read readers will find eye-opening.

Among them:

Several of the authors in this collection of essays address ID's two-faced propaganda and intellectual dishonesty. While often-discussed in the public forum, here these problems with ID are discussed in a fresh way that reinvigorated my view of such tired discussions, and I suspect will persuasively summarize such discussions for newer readers of the Evo/ID Wars discourse.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By @souvikstweets on July 5, 2006
Format: Paperback
One of the positions we have to take, depending on what influences us, is whether we believe we were created by a supernatural God or not. The reason this book is important is because it shows that such belief is fine, but we need to acknowledge that it is a 'belief' & should not start calling it science. This book is important because it shows, again, that both religion & science have important positions in our lives, & in their own context. This book is NOT anti-religious or anti-Christ; but it has strong, well-argued positions on why religion should not be confused with science & what could happen if we didn't acknowledge the demarcation.

This book has some very interesting essays. There is a good representation of ID - in its two forms; one public which is decorated with some scientific flavour to dodge the US constitution & one private which aims to establish that the earth came to be just the way it is depicted in the Bible. It is the first one that has been falsified in many essays in the book with both examples & analogy. It is interesting to note that quite a few essays note that ID is not a theory or a hypothesis because it does not have the necessary properties. Nevertheless, these scientists have still established how ID does not hold any water, even if we were to grant that it was a valid hypothesis. This, in a way, shows how strongly the scientific community feels about the issue.

There are most informative essays on evolution, & how the process of natural selection has unfolded over the millions of years. There are notes on how evolution affects & draws from not just biology but fields like geology, paleontology, physics & chemistry.
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