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A Companion to GenethicsA Companion to GenethicsA Cooperative SpeciesA Mind So RareA Natural History of RapeAcquiring GenomesAdapting MindsAgeing, Health and CareAlas, Poor DarwinAn Introduction to Evolutionary EthicsAncient Bodies, Modern LivesAnimal ArchitectsAping MankindAre We Hardwired?Bang!BehavingBeyond EvolutionBeyond GeneticsBlood MattersBody BazaarBoneBrain Evolution and CognitionBrain StormBrave New BrainBrave New WorldsChoosing ChildrenCloneCloningConceptual Issues in Evolutionary BiologyConsciousness EvolvingContemporary Debates in Philosophy of BiologyControlling Our DestiniesCooperation and Its EvolutionCreatures of AccidentDarwin Loves YouDarwin's Brave New WorldDarwin's Gift to Science and ReligionDarwin's UniverseDarwin's WormsDarwinian ConservatismDarwinian PsychiatryDarwinism and its DiscontentsDarwinism as ReligionDebating DesignDecoding DarknessDefenders of the TruthDo We Still Need Doctors?Doubting Darwin?Early WarningEngineering the Human GermlineEnhancing EvolutionEnoughEntwined LivesEthical Issues in Human CloningEthical Issues in the New GeneticsEvil GenesEvolutionEvolutionEvolution and Human BehaviorEvolution and Human BehaviorEvolution and Human Sexual BehaviorEvolution and LearningEvolution and ReligionEvolution and the Human MindEvolution in MindEvolution, Gender, and RapeEvolution: The Modern SynthesisEvolutionary Ethics and Contemporary BiologyEvolutionary Origins of MoralityEvolutionary PsychiatryEvolutionary PsychologyEvolutionary Psychology and ViolenceEvolutionary Psychology as Maladapted PsychologyExploding the Gene MythFaces of Huntington'sFlesh of My FleshFrom Chance to ChoiceFrom Darwin to HitlerGenesGenes in ConflictGenes on the CouchGenes, Environment, and PsychopathologyGenes, Environment, and PsychopathologyGenes, Women, EqualityGenetic Nature/CultureGenetic PoliticsGenetic ProspectsGenetic ProspectsGenetic SecretsGenetics of Criminal and Antisocial BehaviourGenetics of Mental DisordersGenetics of Original SinGenetics of Original SinGenomeGenomeGenome: Updated EditionGenomes and What to Make of ThemGlowing GenesHow Women Got Their Curves and Other Just-So StoriesHuman CloningHuman Evolution, Reproduction, and MoralityImproving Nature?In Our Own ImageIn Pursuit of the GeneIn the Name of GodIngenious GenesInheritanceInside the Human GenomeInside the O'BriensIntegrating Evolution and DevelopmentIntelligence, Race, and GeneticsIs Human Nature Obsolete?Language OriginsLess Than HumanLiberal EugenicsLiving with Our GenesMaking Genes, Making WavesMaking Sense of EvolutionMan As The PrayerMean GenesMenMood GenesMoral OriginsMothers and OthersNature Via NurtureNever Let Me GoNot By Genes AloneOf Flies, Mice, and MenOn the Origin of StoriesOrigin of MindOrigins of Human NatureOrigins of PsychopathologyOur Posthuman FuturePhilosophy of BiologyPlaying God?Playing God?Portraits of Huntington'sPrimates and PhilosophersPromiscuityPsychiatric Genetics and GenomicsPsychologyQuality of Life and Human DifferenceRe-creating MedicineRedesigning HumansResearch Advances in Genetics and GenomicsResponsible GeneticsResponsible GeneticsScience, Seeds and CyborgsSex and WarSociological Perspectives on the New GeneticsStrange BedfellowsStrange BehaviorSubjects of the WorldSubordination and DefeatThe Age of EmpathyThe Agile GeneThe Ape and the Sushi MasterThe Biotech CenturyThe Blank SlateThe Book of LifeThe Bridge to HumanityThe Case Against PerfectionThe Case for PerfectionThe Case of the Female OrgasmThe Century of the GeneThe Common ThreadThe Concept of the Gene in Development and EvolutionThe Debated MindThe Double-Edged HelixThe Epidemiology of SchizophreniaThe Ethics of Human CloningThe Evolution of CooperationThe Evolution of MindThe Evolution of MindThe Evolved ApprenticeThe Evolving WorldThe Fact of EvolutionThe Folly of FoolsThe Future of Human NatureThe God GeneThe Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksThe Impact of the GeneThe Innate MindThe Innate MindThe Innate Mind: Volume 3The Limits and Lies of Human Genetic ResearchThe Lives of the BrainThe Maladapted MindThe Meme MachineThe Misunderstood GeneThe Moral, Social, and Commercial Imperatives of Genetic Testing and ScreeningThe Most Dangerous AnimalThe New Genetic MedicineThe Nurture AssumptionThe Origin and Evolution of CulturesThe Origins of FairnessThe Paradoxical PrimateThe Perfect BabyThe Robot's RebellionThe Shape of ThoughtThe Shattered SelfThe Stem Cell ControversyThe Story WithinThe Stuff of LifeThe Talking ApeThe Temperamental ThreadThe Terrible GiftThe Theory of OptionsThe Top 10 Myths About EvolutionThe Triple HelixThe Triumph of SociobiologyThe Woman Who Walked into the SeaTwinsUnderstanding CloningUnderstanding the GenomeUnnatural SelectionUnto OthersUp From DragonsWar Against the WeakWhat Genes Can't DoWhat It Means to Be 98 Percent ChimpanzeeWho Owns YouWhose View of Life?Why Evolution Is TrueWhy Think? WondergenesWrestling with Behavioral GeneticsYour Genetic Destiny
Published as the companion text to a recent PBS series on
the same topic, this volume is a magnificently illustrated, comprehensive, and
compelling overview of both the events leading up to the formalization of
evolutionary theory, and the theory itself.
The book received well-deserved praise from a variety of major review
publications, including Scientific American, Publishers Weekly,
The first section of this colorful, large-format book covers
the life and times of Darwin and the relevant position of the various related
scientific disciplines at the time of his work in biology and geology. Zimmer also provides what appears to be
more-than-fair treatment of those scientists, thinkers and sophists in Darwins
time who unsuccessfully attempted (by various means) to debunk the theory.
Parts 2 and 3 of the book, which comprise the most
substantial material related to understanding evolution, focus on an
explication and description of the theory and clearly show how evolution has in
fact proceeded on our planet. For all
but the most die-hard anti-evolutionist, there is little to arouse controversy
in these highly informative and well-written sections. As predicted in S.J. Goulds introduction to
the book, Public difficulty in grasping the Darwinian theory of natural
selection cannot be attributed to any conceptual complexity - - for no great theory ever boasted such a
simple structure . . . (p. xii).
In his very comprehensive approach, Zimmer covers topics and
gives supporting examples that are relevant to evolutionary theory, as well as
the theory itself. For example, he describes
the methods by which fossils and geological formations are dated, and provides
interesting but relevant asides, such as the story of how typhus (a bacterium
that seems to be the closest extant relative to our own cells mitochondria)
changed the course of human history.
The only sections of the book that might be considered even
remotely controversial are, of course, those that address our own species. In a chapter entitled The Gossiping Ape:
The Social Roots of Human Evolution, Zimmer lays out current knowledge and
hypotheses regarding the origin of ancestors and the advent our own kind. He unequivocally identifies our social
nature as the primary characteristic that has propelled us into the commandeering
position we now hold on the planet. The
arguments he cites will be convincing to even general readers. In addressing the so-called
creation-sciences and the theory known as Intelligent Design, Zimmer is satisfyingly
direct. He demonstrates why creationism
failed in its attempts to be labeled scientific and then proceeds to show how
advocates of Intelligent Design, while attempting to assume a scientific
mantle, have also fallen short.
An excellent (and free) teachers guide to the study
of evolution was produced to accompany Zimmers book, and may be requested
directly from the studio that produced the PBS series, WGBH in Boston.
© 2001 Keith Harris
Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and supervisor of Victor Valley
Behavioral Health Center in San Bernardino county, California. His interests
include clinical supervision, the empirical basis for psychotherapy research
(and its design), human decision-making processes, and the shaping of human
nature by evolutionary forces.
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