- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group; 1st edition (November 1, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0316731935
- ISBN-13: 978-0316731935
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.2 x 7.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,671,763 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Single Helix: A Turn Around the World of Science 1st Edition
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About the Author
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Jones has a string of excellent books to his credit: "Almost Like A Whale" ["Darwin's Ghost" in the US] and "Y-The Descent of Men" being among the better known. He knows how to write to an informed and interested audience. He's so good at it that he's won a medal for "increasing public knowledge of science". The title derives from his work on snails and the notoriety gained by James Watson's account of the revelation of DNA's structure. Although Jones' own field is biology, he's able to venture into other disciplines in this collection. Even history is probed for unusual information - the "Telemobiloskop" is certain to gain your attention at the next cocktail party. For a biologist - and a malacologist at that, it might seem out of place for Jones to dabble in astrophysics or physics itself, yet he manages it with panache. In today's world, however, genetics plays too significant a role to be passed over lightly, and Jones provides several excellent items on the topic.
Applying a sense of irony and humour throughout these pages, Jones easily dispels the image of the dour scientist. He's not above examining his own mistakes, even while depicting critics as "vultures drawn to carrion". Nobody "peer reviews" books on science aimed at the general public, and things slip by. His discussion of errors he made in "Almost Like a Whale" is accompanied by his views on evolutionary psychology. In the process, he reminds us that we're a social species, and must tread lightly in making generalisations about how that situation is manifested in science writing. It would have been nice if Jones had avoided the lure one scientist-essayist fell prey to. Instead of baseball, however, at one point Jones deals with the national sport of his own. The axes he has to grind are kept strictly associated with science. A highly readable, entertaining and useful book. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
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Jones declares that "natural selection can work only when some people have, for genetic reasons, more progeny than others". It appears then that he does not understand the concept of natural selection.
He states that he was once the president of what was once known as the Eugenics Education Society. Unsurprisingly then, he declares: "Psychiatric problems are often a symptom of organic disease." He then states, without any supporting evidence, that Stalin suffered from pre-senile dementia.
Other topics include a cheap shot debunking of homeopathy, again without supporting evidence. Jones also touches on so-called social Darwinism, declaring that "Glasgow in its injustices is still a factory for Darwinism. There poverty and wealth live close together ..."
With regard to the desertion of the Mary Celeste (Jones calls it the Marie Celeste), Jones believes that a convincing explanation is that the crew ate moldy biscuits, then, pursued by imaginary demons, they leapt overboard.
The author, according to the book jacket, won a Royal Society Faraday Medal for the Public Understanding of Science. One moment of unintentional humor.