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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MYTH-BELIEVER'S NIGHTMARE: magic with no...hocus-pocus or abracadabra!!!
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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...
Published on Dec 4 2011 by Stephen Pletko

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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More for kids than grown-ups
If you're a fan of Richard Dawkins, I'd suggest you give this a miss ... unless you'd like to buy it as a present for some preteen for whom the notions and wonders of science are a book yet to be opened. In that case, it touches a large number of interesting phenomena, with lots of pictures.
Published on Oct. 30 2011 by Mischa Sandberg


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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MYTH-BELIEVER'S NIGHTMARE: magic with no...hocus-pocus or abracadabra!!!, Dec 4 2011
By 
Stephen Pletko "Uncle Stevie" (London, Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
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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).

Dawkins details these topics (even though he doesn't use many of these terms):

(1) evolution
(2) speciation (evolutionary process by which new biological species arise)
(3) atomic theory (concerned with the nature of matter)
(4) optics
(5) planetary motion
(6) gravitation (or gravity)
(7) stellar evolution (or star evolution)
(8) spectroscopy (study of the interaction between matter and radiation such as visible light)
(9) plate tectonics (describes the large scale motion of Earth's outermost rocky layer)
(10) speculation on exobiology (life beyond Earth)
(11) Chaos theory ("Why do bad things happen?")
(12) Human psychology ("What is a miracle?")

All the science in this book is well-presented. It has to be since it has to appeal to a wide age-range of people (as indicated above).

Finally, all the illustrations in this book are in a word--fantastic. They add to its enjoyment.

In conclusion, this book is truly a myth-believers nightmare. Make no myth-stake about it, this is a good book. I leave you with a key concept from this book:

"Next to the true beauty and magic of the real world, supernatural spells and stage tricks seem cheap and tawdry by comparison. The magic of reality is neither supernatural nor a trick, but--quite simply--wonderful. Wonderful and real. Wonderful BECAUSE real."

(first published 2011; 12 chapters; main narrative 265 pages; index; acknowledgements; picture credits)

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

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Juniors' Introduction to Science, Nov. 21 2011
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Ce commentaire est de: The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True (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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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reality versus fantasy - an introduction to science, Oct. 7 2011
By 
A. Volk (Canada) - See all my reviews
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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. In fact, that's around the time it would probably be most helpful (12-14), as it outlines how science works and why its explanations are superior to those of magical or supernatural causes. I enjoyed reading the book myself, but found very little of it new. Still, I'm glad that I have it as a reference for kids and adults who aren't as familiar with the science presented in this book.

Second, this book will not be very popular with devoutly religious people. Dawkins once more takes square aim at the major religions, pointing out how unlikely some of their "stories" are. In particular, the last chapter is a chapter on miracles, where Dawkins adopts Hume's stance on miracles. They are likely to be true if the alternate explanation (that they aren't true, that say, 500K people mass hallucinated someone parting the water of San Francisco Bay) is more likely to be false than the miraculous explanation. Of course, there are no such examples, leading Dawkins to claim that miracles are very likely false. In an important way, I agree strongly with the point he is trying to make. In essence, coincidences that seem miraculous (e.g., dreaming of an uncle the day that uncle dies) are really just the product of odds we're not good at calculating, recognizing, or even understanding. That's a good point, and well worth making. But I think he could have done more by directly challenging some kinds of magical explanations (e.g., psychic powers) more directly, including evidence from neuroscience. Instead, his choice of attacking religious stories represents a confrontational choice of topic that is going to drive some people away from this book. I don't disagree with the need and value of challenging any belief, but I think that some of the people who could most benefit from this book will simply be turned off by it. I hope they aren't, but I'm guessing they will be.

Which is too bad. Because, as Dawkins says, there is a certain poetic magic to reality once you understand it more. From the immense size of the universe to the evolution of minute structures, I've certainly found that scientific, reality-based explanations are every bit as majestic, awesome, and satisfying as magical or supernatural explanations ever could be. Science really is far and away the best tool for understanding the universe around us, and ourselves in it. Science really is an almost magical invention (in the poetic and metaphoric sense) that has allowed us to discover and explain things not only beyond what we thought possible, but also beyond what we ever imagined existed! If that's not magic enough for you, I don't know what could be! Magic and myths might be cool, but the reality of universe is even cooler.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great conditions for an amazing book, April 19 2012
It's a great book talking about science today and how our ancestors used to explain what they weren't able to understand like earthquake, rainbow, nights and days etc...
It shows how magic is our world in the poetic sense.
And it's really interesting to see how we used to interpret things before having a scientific approach.
Shipping is also great !
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Myth vs scientific method, Dec 9 2011
Purchased this for teenaged niece and nephew and read it myself first. Interesting presentation of how to use scientific evidence to explain things like: what is reality, what are things made of, the reason for day and night, the seasons, earthquakes, when and how did everything begin, who was the first person. He starts each chapter with several myths that were used to explain these questions in ancient times. Written at an adult level and would be suitable for teens who like to read and learn. Lots of good illustrations. Very entertaining and thought-provoking style of writing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful book for kids and grown ups, April 30 2013
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The magic of reality is not only a wonderful book for kids but for the grown ups.
I think this book is a beautiful way to give kids tools to judge for their selves.

I come from South America. My family is Roman Catholic. As a child I was sent to “study” Catechism but I didn’t make it to the end. I was fired.

During my catechism classes, I once asked the priest how come he could believe somebody could walk on water. Then, I continued, do you really believe that? Is that what you say serious?

As I was asking questions, the priest sent me back home three times. After the third time not even my grandma could talk the priest into letting me in again.

My grandma was very worry because of the church and what people would say and of course my future in hell. I was sad too but not for the same reasons. At that time, I didn’t understand too much about religion or heaven or hell.

I was also sad because it was the first time I had to deal with rejection and on top of that I’ve lost all the friends I have made during few Catechism classes.

I tell you this story because if, as a kid, I had have an idea about how we know what is really true, I would have been equipped to judge by myself and better deal with it.

I read The Magic of Reality in 2012 I now buy it as a gift for the first communion of my niece.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reality is magical, Nov. 13 2011
Richard Dawkins "The Magic of Reality" should be assigned reading for all elementary school science classes. I read this book with my 10 year old daughter and she was as entranced by the magnificent illustrations as she was by the subject matter. Excellent work.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You simply couldn't ask for better., Nov. 26 2011
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""I wanted to write this book but I wasn't clever enough. Now I've read it, I am"
'Ricky Gervais"

I wanted to use this kind of review. Then I found this one, so I did, sort of. :)

You won't regret buying this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Magic of Reality, May 5 2013
As an 81 year old who has read most of his life, The Magic of Reality is the most important book I have ever read!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece!, Nov. 26 2014
By 
D. Belec (Canada) - See all my reviews
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Everyone loves a good story and this story, the story of reality, is a collection of stories (some real, some fiction) told in a friendly, rational, and accessible voice. And by the final chapter, the reader realizes how truly clever this book really is. I want to give a copy to everyone I know.
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The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True
The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True by Richard Dawkins (Audio CD - Oct. 4 2011)
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