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The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True Hardcover – Oct 4 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (Oct. 4 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439192812
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439192818
  • Product Dimensions: 18.7 x 2.8 x 24.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 885 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #114,077 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"I wanted to write this book but I wasn't clever enough. Now I've read it, I am"
—Ricky Gervais

“Exhilarating. The clearest and most beautifully written introduction to science I've ever read. Again and again I found myself saying "Oh! So that's how genes work!" (or stars, or tectonic plates, or all the other things he explains). Explanations I thought I knew were clarified; things I never understood were made clear for the first time. My favourite adjective of praise has always been "clear", and this book has clarity all the way through.”
—Philip Pullman, author of The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ and the His Dark Materials trilogy

“I am often asked to recommend good books on science for young people. From now on, I will not have to hesitate. The Magic of Reality provides a beautiful, accessible and wide ranging volume that addresses the questions that all of us have about the universe, separating often too-little known facts from too-frequently believed fictions. For this reason it should be a powerful resource for people of all ages, written with the masterful and eloquently literate style of perhaps the best popular expositor of science, Richard Dawkins, and delightfully illustrated by Dave McKean. What more could anyone ask for?”
—Lawrence Krauss is Foundation Professor and Director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University and the author most recently of Quantum Man, and A Universe from Nothing

About the Author

Richard Dawkins is a Fellow of the Royal Society and was the inaugural holder of the Charles Simonyi Chair of Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University. He is the acclaimed author of many books including The Selfish Gene, Climbing Mount Improbable, Unweaving the Rainbow, The Ancestor’s Tale, The God Delusion, and The Greatest Show on Earth. Visit him at RichardDawkins.net.

Dave McKean has illustrated and designed many award-winning comics and books as well as CD covers, a Broadway musical, and creatures for the Harry Potter films.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Pletko TOP 50 REVIEWER on Dec 4 2011
Format: Hardcover
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"The truth is more magical--on the best and most exciting sense of the word--than any myth or made-up mystery or miracle. Science has its own magic: the magic of REALITY."

The above extract comes at the very end of this extraordinary book by Richard Dawkins with illustrations by Dave McKean. Dawkins is a British ethologist (the scientific study of animal behaviour), evolutionary biologist and author. He is emeritus fellow of New College, a constituent college of the University of Oxford in the UK and was this university's Professor for the Public Understanding of Science from 1995 to 2008. McKean has illustrated and designed many award-winning books and graphic novels.

The chapters of this book are titled by a question like "What is the sun?" or "Why are there so many different kinds of animals?" Most chapters usually begin with some mythical answers to a chapter title question. (Amazingly, many people today believe these mythical answers.) Then a scientific or reality-based answer to the question is provided.

Who can read this book? Anyone aged 120 to 12 (including those adults who still think like children). For those with a solid science background, this book can be regarded as a good review of important concepts.

The myths chosen for this book are from around the world such as Babylonian, Judeo-Christian, Aztec, Maori, Aboriginal, Nordic, Hellenic, Chinese, and Japanese. One chapter includes modern alien abduction mythology and another chapter omits mythology altogether (there is a reason for this omission and Dawkins explains why).
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful By A. Volk #1 REVIEWER#1 HALL OF FAME on Oct. 7 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book really is an introduction to the world of science, and how science answers questions that were previously answered using magical or supernatural explanations. Like a US reviewer said, when I was younger, I believed in supernatural explanations and phenomena. As a curious lad, I was eager to soak up any information that I could, and some of those explanations sounded pretty plausible. The only problem (and it was a big one) was that I didn't have a gauge for how reliable one explanation was compared to another.

Metaphorically, neither did humanity until science came around. In both cases (mine and humanity's), science provided the tool for which to measure how reliable an explanation was in relation to another. How to compare two otherwise equal explanations based on explanatory and predictive power based on reliable data. This book pits common stories of creation and causation on a whole rage of topics, from the origins of species, to what we are made of, to the cycles of seasons and day/night. Most of the chapters start off with a "magical" explanation that is based on religion. All religions are represented here, including ancient and/or tribal religions. The book then moves on to explaining the phenomenon in question using simple, logical science.

I've rated this book five stars, but for two important audiences, it won't be.

First, for experienced scientists or science readers, this book will be pretty low-level. It's aimed at people who aren't familiar with science and its explanations (e.g., Dawkins cites ~20% of Europeans don't know how long it takes us to orbit the sun, and why- this is the book for them). It would also work well for younger readers. I can see ages 12+ absorbing this book quite well.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Estrild on Nov. 21 2011
Format: Audio CD
We enjoyed the 6 disc audio book, though if not for my 10 year old son enjoying it, I would not have continued listening. The presentation is aimed at children, or adults suffering from a severe lack of science in their lives, perhaps recovering from religious indoctrination.

Also the book would cause offence to religious parents, so although it would be excellent for all children, I fear it won't reach the children who will need it most, those being raised on religious explanations and the bible. It is however, wonderfully suited for atheist homes.

I feel it is suited as soon as the child begins to ask the big questions such as "where do we come from?" age 5 or 6 in small segments, larger segments for older children. It would also be wonderful to help dispell the fears small children have about things they don't understand. It would suit up to age 12 or 13. Though as a family, we all enjoyed it, especially the segment about your millionth great grandfather the fish, and the detailed explanations of evolution, using time travel, and a ginormous stack of photos, as devices to help get across the vast distances of time. It was amusing and entertaining, though it was almost entirely information I am already familiar with.

Dawkins' rich, eloquent voice delivers the material clearly and concisely, though his irritation at certain issues of religion are not masked, which takes the book beyond the traditional science of the 70's and 80's into neo-atheist teritory; science with an agenda.

He refers to Jesus, Mary, God and biblical stories as one of many world mythologies, right alongside myths of the Maya, Navaho, Norse, Indian, and others stressing how many people today still believe these myths to be true, shock horror!

My son greatly enjoyed it, even regularily asking for another installment.
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