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Why is a Fly Not a Horse? [Paperback]

by Giuseppe Sermonti
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 11, 2005 0963865471 978-0963865472
This book's Italian title, Dimenticare Darwin, means "Forget Darwin," and its prologue bears the title "Evolution is dead!" The author, Dr. Giuseppe Sermonti, is a respected Italian biologist who boldly shatters the myth that all critics of Darwinian evolution are American religious fundamentalists. This delightful little book is loaded with scientific facts that aren't taught in standard biology classes, but it is also full of history and poetry. Why is a Fly Not a Horse? does not have all the answers, but it asks many of the right questions-in a style that is both entertaining and inspiring. Giuseppe Sermonti is retired Professor of Genetics at the University of Perugia. He discovered genetic recombination in antibiotic-producing Penicillium and Streptomyces and was Vice President at the XIV International Congress of Genetics (Moscow, 1980). Sermonti is Chief Editor of Rivista di Biologia/Biology Forum, one of the oldest still-published biology journals in the world, and he has published seven other books, including Dopo Darwin (¿After Darwin), with R. Fondi (1980-1984).

Editorial Reviews


I am only halfway through, but the spell has already been cast. -- Jonathan Witt, Senior Fellow, Discovery Institute

The attentive reader of this book will be fascinated from beginning to end. -- Dr. Leendert van der Hammen, Founder of the Osaka Group for the Study of Dynamic Structures

With charming prose Sermonti describes biology which contradicts Darwinian expectations: leaf insects... before leaves, insects before plants. -- Dr. Michael Behe, Author, Darwin's Black Box

From the Publisher

This book is part of a series published by the Center for Science & Culture at the Discovery Institute in Seattle. Previous books in the series include Are We Spiritual Machines?: Ray Kurzweil vs. The Critics of Strong A.I. by Jay W. Richards et al and Getting the Facts Straight: A Viewer's Guide to PBS's Evolution by the Discovery Institute.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Discovery Institute (July 11, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0963865471
  • ISBN-13: 978-0963865472
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,243,666 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 26 people found the following review helpful
This is a good popular work that focuses on the more interesting/less talked about side of the debate. Dr. Sermonti, a famous and well-respected geneticist, speaks with much eloquence about the anomalies in nature that throw a monkey-wrench into Darwin's theory. However, he's not a creationist; rather, it seems that he takes more of a Platonist's view of biological organisms.

Such topics include:

A. The fact that organisms with varying complexity do not have proportional genome sizes. If neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory (NDET from now on) were true, shouldn't mammals have more DNA than amphibians, mollusks, or flowering plants? You would think so if NDET were true and an increase in DNA meant an increase in complexity, but you'd be wrong. They vary *widely*.

B. The sudden appearance and stasis of species in the fossil record. Though this is frequently discussed in other books in the origins debate, it is always good to throw it in.

C. How some animals seem not to be fitted for their environment, but rather, they seem to be works of art. As Sermonti put it: "In fish the colors can be bright and resplendent, even among species that never see the light of upper regions, but their patterning bears no relationship to internal structure; the colors just seem to be put there like paints on an artist's palette" (p.58). There are other things mentioned such as the beautiful mathematical shape of the mollusk's shell and the innate knowledge of some birds to know their bird-song without being taught it.

D. The fact that the same genes (such as hox genes) can create different structures in different animals. For instance, a cat's "eye" genes that are transferred to a blind fly's egg will create the multi-faceted eyes in a fly.

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable reading. September 16, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I found reading the book very enjoyable. One of the points that I liked most was how Giuseppe Sermonti shows that there is no determinism of DNA in relation to some differences in body structure and function. Evidently fundamentalists will label the book creationist garbage. But that does not matter. The dogs bark but the caravan passes.
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19 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can Darwin Explain Life's Most Basic Questions? June 21, 2006
Discovery fellow and editor of the prestigious Italian biology journal "Revista de Biologia," Giuseppe Sermonti explains why evolution resembles a "paradigm" more than it does an explanation. Scientists assume that the theory and its implications (such as universal common descent) are true, but no one can ever explain the details of precisely why it is. According to Sermonti, naturalistic theories of biological origins are science-stoppers.

Sermonti explains that biology has advanced greatly when naturalistic theories of biological origins have been disproved. For example, in 1688 Francesco Redi performed an experiment which refuted the notion that flies come from rotting meat--Redi discovered that flies actually come from worms that hatch from eggs laid in rotting biological matter which subsequently develop into flies. The recognition that flies come from eggs rather than meat fostered our early understanding of biological development, but one theory of spontaneous generation had to die before the advance was made.

Sermonti recounts that the field became stalled when the early evolutionist Comte de Buffon imagined that everything from fleas to the hippopotamus emerged from the primordial slime. Providing an Italian perspective on the history of biology, Sermonti explains that an Italian naturalist named Spallanzani refused to just accept spontaneous generation as the easy answer, and through a series of carefully observed experiments, came to the conclusion that "omne vivium ex ovo" (all life comes from eggs). Spontaneous generation was finally disproved by Pasteur's experiments nearly a century later. This was a fact lamented by Darwin, who claimed that Pasteur "denied spontaneous generation." Despite Pasteur's "denial," biology progressed.
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26 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars There's a jewel hidden in this text! October 5, 2005
I find the structure of this book to be surprising. Most of what Mr. Sermonti has to say is fairly irrelevant to the question of the veracity of NeoDarwinian evolution. He makes a strong case that there are other specific structures in living organisms beside DNA that must be carefully reproduced for life to reproduce. How this is consequential is beyond me. Reproduction is reproduction. Whether it is DNA or prions, if there is accurate reproduction, with rare but existing reproduction error (mutation), then the raw material for NeoDarwinian evolution exists.

However, Mr. Sermonti presents data that is fundamentally contrary to NeoDarwinian evolution. If his data is correct, the only logical conclusion can be that mutation + natural selection, with all of it's subtleties, cannot adequately explain this data. If it cannot adequately explain this data, then it is not the complete answer to the question of how all the varieties of life came to be.

Some have questioned whether NeoDarwinian evolution is falsifiable. Certainly there have been many expectations from simple theory which have found to be too simplistic.

* Scientists expected gradualism to render in the rock record, and concluded that punctuated equilibrium was a better description of the rock record. Rather than finding the theory to be false, evolution adapted to absorb this new data, to the point where punctuated equilibrium is now considered to be a characteristic of NeoDarwinian evolution.

* Studies of animals with similar characteristics were found to have fundamentally different heredities. Seals and Manatees, for instance, are both primarily aquatic animals that have a lot of similarities, but do not have a common ancestry.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Another creationist diatribe against evolution
Sorry, but this book opens no new doors of knowledge nor does it present any new evidence for the author's predisposition for creationism. It's just another ID/creationist oater.
Published on October 16, 2009 by DK
1.0 out of 5 stars Pathetic
If you really want answers to questions of this nature study biology
instead of getting your head filled with this ideological non-sense.
Published on July 12, 2007 by Michael Spenard
5.0 out of 5 stars Utter anger, not science
It's quite impressive how certain reviewers can be full of irony and verbal violence making very clear for me that his/her intention is more to protect his position than defending... Read more
Published on June 17, 2006 by Carlos Edmundo Lima
3.0 out of 5 stars On errors and/or inaccuracies
Just a few hopefully short comments I wanted to make after having read the reviews of this book (which I have not read yet):

One reviewer claims, as those who accept... Read more
Published on March 19, 2006 by J. Buchanan
4.0 out of 5 stars Flies in the Face of Tradition
The proponents of intelligent design have exposed the weakness of neo-darwinism in much better ways than I could have, even though I've tried, even before the movement began. Read more
Published on December 17, 2005 by N. Mordecai
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book!
An excellent usefull book! The author writes like he was a literature major in one of his past lives. Read more
Published on December 11, 2005 by The Professor
1.0 out of 5 stars Utter fiction, not science
I am the author of a review of Dr. Sermonti's book which appears at the pro-science The Panda's Thumb web site, and is mentioned in a previous comment here (which quotes from a... Read more
Published on October 15, 2005 by Andrea Bottaro
1.0 out of 5 stars Same Silly ID Diatribe
In August '05, it was shown on Panda's Thumb that Mike Behe's endorsement blurb for the Discovery Institute-published anti-evolution diatribe "Why is a fly not a horse? Read more
Published on October 4, 2005 by Xopher
1.0 out of 5 stars Beset by errors, give this a miss
Almost without merit, this is a familar reheat of Creationist dogma, containing such a host of inaccuracies as to be risible. Avoid at all costs.
Published on September 26, 2005 by Dr Jack Gibson
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