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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This the THE book on the subject, March 22 2009
By 
Bernie Koenig (London, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
Ce commentaire est de: Why Evolution Is True (Hardcover)
Natural Law, Science, and the Social Construction of Reality

As a philosopher who has written on evolution, both from a scientific and ethical viewpoints, I found this book to be extremely clear in explaining what evolution is, and what it isn't, and why we all not only should, but MUST accept the truth of evolution.

I have two minor quibbles with the book, quibbles only a philosopher would have. One has to do with the use of the term 'theory' and the other with Coyne's discussion of values in the last chapter.

Coyne is essentially correct in stating that the scientific use of 'theory' is not the same as everyday usage. In science theories explain facts. For example, atomic theory explains why boiled water turns to steam. Evolution is a fact. The evidence is overwhelming. Yet people refuse to accept the truth of evolution by calling it a theory.

As Coyne points out, there are some problems with explaining certain aspects of the evolutionary process, but that, in no way, diminishes the truth of evolution. My minor quibble with his use of the term is that he sometimes uses it a bit imprecisely and sometimes comes close to everyday usage.

The book is set out in 9 self chapters, each presents what is needed to convince the reader of the truth of evolution. And, in the process, he demonstrates the shortcomings and fallacies of anti evolution arguments.

In chapter one he defines what evolution is: "Life on Earth evolved gradually beginning with one primitive species....more than 3.5 billion years ago; it then branched out over time, throwing off many new and diverse species; and the mechanism for mot ( but not all) evolutionary change is natural selection."

Chapter two discusses the fossil record and how the fossil record demonstrates evolution in three ways:
Fossils confirms predictions which arise out of evolutionary theory, transitional forms are in the fossil record where they should be, and the fossil record records major changes.

Chapter three deals with our vestigial organs and how they demonstrate human evolution, as well as how human embryonic development also demonstrates the evolutionary process in humans. In this chapter Coyne also shows how various arguments from design do not hold up.

Chapter four is about how geography influences evolution from the developments of different characteristics of the same specie in different geographical contexts, and how travel to isolated islands can effect the evolution of a species. This leads into a discussion of the effects of environment on evolution.

Chapter five is a detailed discussion of the processes of natural selection and how it works, using a wide variety of examples. Briefly, natural selection involves the adaption of a characteristic which is variable within a species as the color of an animal. Second, some of the variation has to be genetic, and third, the genetic change must improve the animal's ability to leave offspring.

Chapter six about how sexual selection affects evolution. It is through sex that we reproduce, so how sex selects who produces works with natural selection in insuring species survival.

Chapter seven discusses what is meant by 'species.' It was Coyne's teacher Ernst Mayr who came up with the definition still used: a group of interbreeding natural populations that are reproductively isolated from other such groups." This is called the "biological Species Concept."

And chapter eight finally gets around to human evolution. Coyne again returns to the fossil record and relates some of the history of finding fossils that fill out the human evolutionary chain. In this chapter he also discusses the relationship between humans and our nearest relatives, the chimpanzees. The most interesting aspect of this discussion is that, while we are constantly told that there is only a 1.5% difference in the dna of chimps and humans, Coyne shows how this is misleading and that the differences, when looked at from an amino acid standpoint, since there are hundreds of them, 1% in genetic material may still mean there are hundreds of differences in protein make up of the dna. Thus we are bit farther away from chimps than just 1.5%

And in the final chapter Coyne discusses why people still refuse to believe in evolution. People do want to give up other aspects of how we think about ourselves.

And my final quibble is when Coyne allows that sources such religion can still be used for our values. In this he still adheres to an old view of science where fact and value are separated. But, as I argue in my book, listed above, our understanding of nature implies certain values. In other words, evolution contains a foundation for ethics.

But aside from these minor quibbles, this a is a great book and should convince every reader of the truth of evolution.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A CREATIONIST'S NIGHTMARE, Sept. 1 2009
By 
Stephen Pletko "Uncle Stevie" (London, Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
Ce commentaire est de: Why Evolution Is True (Hardcover)
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"Darwin looked beyond the obvious, suggesting--and supporting with copious evidence--two ideas that forever dispelled the idea of deliberate design. Those ideas were evolution [genetic change in populations, often producing changes in observable traits of organisms over time] and natural selection [see below]...[His book] "On the Origin of Species" [first edition published 1859] turned the mysteries of life's diversity [on Earth] from mythology [and the supernatural] into genuine science...

I hope you're convinced [after reading my book] that evolution is far more than a scientific theory...We've looked at evidence from many areas [such as:]

(1) the fossil record
(2) biogeography [the study of the distribution of animals and plants on the Earth`s surface]
(3) embryology [the branch of biology dealing with the formation and development of embryos]
(4) vestigial structures [a structure that is the evolutionary remnant of an earlier structure once useful in an ancestral species but that is no longer useful in the same way]
(5) suboptimal design [imperfect design is the mark of evolution and is, in fact, expected from evolution. The idea of perfect design is an illusion]...

[A]ll of that evidence show[s], without a [trace] of a doubt, that organisms have evolved. And its not just small "microevolutionary" changes either: we've seen new species form, both in real time and in the fossil record and we've found transitional forms ["missing links"] between major groups, such as whales and land animals. We've observed natural selection in action, and have every reason to [logically infer] that it can produce complex organisms and features."

The above comes from this fascinating book by Jerry Coyne who has been a professor at the University of Chicago in the Department of Ecology and Evolution for the past twenty years (where he specializes in evolutionary genetics and the origin of new species).

This book can be thought of as a modern, easy-to-read, and extremely evidence-based book that explains in modern terms Darwin's magnum opus, "On the Origin of Species." Thus, it's all here and explained clearly in a well-written narrative the essential processes and mechanisms of evolution:

(1) Adaptation: a change in structure, function, or form that improves the chance of survival for an animal or plant within a given environment. Example: the flowers of plants are adaptations to attract pollinators (like bees).

(2) Macroevolution: major evolutionary change where there is large changes in body form or the evolution of one type of animal or plant from another type. Example: the change from our primate ancestor to modern humans.

(3) Microevolution: minor evolutionary changes, such as the change in size or colour of a species. Example: evolution of different skin colours or hair types among human populations.

(4) Speciation: the evolution of new populations that are reproductively isolated from other populations.

(5) Natural Selection: process by which those individuals of a particular species with characters that help them to become adapted to their specific environment tend to leave more offspring and transmit their characters, while those less able to become adapted tend to leave fewer offspring or die out, so that after many generations there is usually a progressive tendency in that species to a greater degree of adaptation.

(6) Mutation: a small change in DNA.

(7) Genetic drift: a random change in gene (a segment of DNA) frequency within a population, resulting in mutations which, regardless of their adaptive value, become fixed within that population.

The last chapter of this book explains, among other things, why we still have people that say, "I find all the evidence for evolution very convincing--but I still don't believe it." I found this chapter to be well thought out.

Which brings up a question. Who is this book written for? Answer: For those who are uncertain about explanations of life's diversity. It is also written for those who want a good, comprehensive review of evolution with new, startling evidence. It is NOT written for those who do not value evidence, observation, logic, reason, and rationality.

Peppered throughout this book are illustrations that make the written narrative yet more easier to understand. And there is an glossary of essential terms to aid even more in understanding.

Some people might get the impression from hearing about this book that it is out to attack Creationism (and all its types like Intelligent Design). NO. This book's main emphasis is to explain evolution. What the author does do occasionally is to present evidence for some event and then he presents what creationists believe about the same event. This juxtaposition may have the reader saying to himself/herself: "How could anyone believe that?"

Finally, I recommend after reading this book, the excellent, easy-to-understand book "Relics of Eden: The Powerful Evidence of Evolution in Human DNA" (2007) by Daniel J. Fairbanks.

In conclusion, this is a clear, easy-to-understand book (in fact, this book is so easy to read that a caveman/cavewoman can understand it) that shows that evolution has occurred, the evidence is overwhelming, and that no other rational explanation for what we see around us makes sense.

It also explains why the late scientist Carl Sagan stated in his 1980 landmark series "Cosmos" the following:

"Evolution is a fact, not a theory...Natural Selection...makes the music of life more beautiful as the eons pass."

(first published 2009; preface; introduction; 9 chapters; main narrative 235 pages; notes; glossary; suggestions for further reading; references; illustration credits; index)

<<Stephen Pletko, London, Ontario, Canada>>

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful review of the overwhelming evidence for evolution, March 12 2010
By 
Charles Ethier (Montreal) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Ce commentaire est de: Why Evolution Is True (Hardcover)
Evolution is a scientific fact.

If that statement troubles you in any way, you owe it to yourself to read this book.

There is no more reason to doubt the Theory of Evolution than there is to doubt the Theory of Gravity.

Darwin first came up with the theory over 150 years ago, but keep in mind that even with the incredible amount of knowledge that has accumulated since then in anthropology (mountains of new fossils), genetics (Darwin knew nothing about DNA), geology (plate tectonics and the movement of continents), and physics (new methods of dating), not a single piece of evidence has contradicted evolution; on the contrary, we just keep finding data to support it.

The realization that in a way the universe has become self-aware through us, is an awe-inspiring and, given the size of the Universe, a humbling experience. It belittles Life to attribute it to magic.

I am proud to know that I am the product of an unbroken line of descendants linking me to the first form of life. Every single one of my ancestors, over the last 3.5 billion years, has managed to survive and reproduce. Awesome.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most convincing case for evolution I've read, May 21 2013
By 
Rodge (Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
Ce commentaire est de: Why Evolution Is True (Paperback)
I'm no scientist, and I'm of a background sympathetic to intelligent design. From my point of view, Coyne's book is the most convincing and best written option for proving the case for evolution. He effectively starts from the best evidence, creating a firm foundational case before moving to areas where there are more questions, or in the case of human evolution, where the greatest controversy lies.

Coyne dismisses creationist arguments, but he avoids belittling religious beliefs or the values that might cause people to resist the case for evolution. Therefore, this is a book to give a creationist interested in seeing the best opposing arguments (better than Dawkins' "Greatest Show on Earth"), or to someone who is wavering on the edge, just needing a little more convincing. Obviously a dyed-in-the-wool creationist won't read it.

The story that's outlined here is truly astonishing and awe-inspiring, and hardly diminishes anyone's avenues for exploration. Some people think this is a non-magical explanation of origins, but to my way of thinking, natural selection is magic, considering its power to shape and create species, at least as outlined here. Just because you can invoke "natural selection" doesn't mean that you understand what it is. Anymore than invoking "God" increases understanding.

Anyway, a wonderful book that will give me much to think about in the future. At least I know what evolution really teaches, as opposed to some caricatured variation alleged by a dishonest creationist.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WHY EVOLUTION is TRUE, April 8 2009
By 
Jacques Loeb (CANADA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Ce commentaire est de: Why Evolution Is True (Hardcover)
In spite of a recent book review in The Economist calling the book "redundant" I consider it to be well written, easy to follow and a necessary wake-up call to those who hide their ignorance and unwillingness to think behind the motto "it's all so difficult so let's have faith in Intelligent Design" because that relieves us of the burden of having to think logically.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Superb!, July 13 2014
By 
Charles H. Heroux (Mundelein, IL United States) - See all my reviews
Achat vérifié(Quest-ce que cest?)
Ce commentaire est de: Why Evolution Is True (Paperback)
Quite simply, the best book on evolution I have ever read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Why Evolution Is True, June 5 2014
Achat vérifié(Quest-ce que cest?)
Ce commentaire est de: Why Evolution Is True (Paperback)
This is a great book delivers a Solid account explaining the evolution and its ability to make predictions, its applications and of course solid evidence that's available to us all. I did my undergrads and grads in physics and this book gave me a great knowledge on the subject of evolution by natural selection. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning natural science.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A good book on Evolution, June 18 2013
Clearly written. You should read it. The title says it all, the book explains the Why part in a way anybody could enjoy understanding it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book for non-scientists and scientists alike!, Dec 10 2012
Ce commentaire est de: Why Evolution Is True (Paperback)
Amazing, Coyne sums up all of the arguments so cleanly and with as little jargon as possible. Examples are given and the case is made. If you love evolutionary biology (like i do) or are a creationist or non-science person willing to see the incredible amount of irrefutable backing evolution has, this IS the book to read. And its concise, which is good.
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5.0 out of 5 stars read this even if you know it's true, March 21 2010
By 
G. Holborn (Thunder Bay, ON, CAN) - See all my reviews
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Ce commentaire est de: Why Evolution Is True (Paperback)
I've read most of Darwin's, Dawkins', Wilson's, Sagan's, and Diamond's works and found this completely enlightening. Nothing new but everything clearer and more confirming. Bravo Dr. Coyne!
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Why Evolution Is True
Why Evolution Is True by Jerry A. Coyne (Paperback - Jan. 26 2010)
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