Reader reviews for The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution

Dawkins at his best.
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At first sight the focus of this book - the evidence for evolution - seems a bit strange. To anyone with basic knowledge of bilology, evolution is simply the modern scientific explanation of the way plants and animals appear and disappear in nature. The evidence for it is something you think about a bit when you first learn about it in school, in the same way that you learn about Rutherford's evidence for the existence of atoms, for example, and that's that. If you continue to have a keen interest in biology, you see with your own eyes how perfectly everything in nature makes sense in light of the theory of evolution by natural and other forms of selection (e.g., sexual), and wonder how it was possible that it took so long before scientists discovered it. On the face of it, no-one with a serious interest in biology should need a book about this evidence, whereas those who do need it are probably very unlikely to read a book like this.Well, I personally, certainly, didn't need a book to convince me about the evidence for evolution, but I found it a very interesting and enjoyable book nevertheless. As usual, RD presents a huge amount of fascinating data from a wide range of biological areas, and as usual it is written in an brilliant and enjoyable (even beautiful and entertaining) way. The theme of "evidence for evolution", then, for me served mainly as a thread (or backbone) binding the different parts of the book together into a coherent, argumentative, logical whole. Having said that, it is a sad fact that there is an industry of religiously motivated deniers of evolution, and this has had particularly strong influence in the USA. The book's appendix refers to various opinion surveys indicating, for example, that 44% of Americans think the earth is less than 10,000 years old. The situation in Europe is better, but even here about 22% seem to take a similar view.So the book probably serves a good purpose in strengthening the resolve of educated people against this kind of reversal to pre-scientific ignorance.As a final point, RD makes a clear effort to focus strictly on the evidence of evolution here, without linking it to advocation of atheism. In other words, this should not be an uncomfortable read for those who are happy to reconcile an educated understanding of biology with religious beliefs. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if they are the main target audience for this book.
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This is Dawkins' latest book, a love story to evolution that clearly, painstakingly, and non-combatatively lays out the evidence for evolution. It's very well-written, and it is definitely a book meant to explain to people - reasonable people, who are open to science - why evolution is a fact. This is long-overdue, honestly, and Dawkins shows up a lot of his critics by being able to step back from the religous arguments and say (and this is a paraphrase, because I don't have the book with me, but it's close to a direct quote): "I already wrote a book about why I don't believe in god, so we're not talking about it here. Believe what you want about how the universe started, but now follow me on a journey about how life has transformed."He still retains the Dawkins fire and punchiness, and makes no bones about his ... almost, I don't know, disbelief that there are so many people out there who are young-earth creationists (you and me both, Mr Dawkins!), but he has a specific purpose to this book and sticks with it. It's delightful, and well-done, and the joy of science shines through. This has surpassed The Selfish Gene as my intro-to-evolution go-to book now, which says a lot!
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great round up with good modern examples as well as well-rehearsed scientific argument
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Another masterpiece from the 'rotweiler of Darwin'. Intellligent and amazing book about the greatest show on Earth (evolution). Sometimes incredibly funny (when he debates with creationist) and easy to understand to everyone with an IQ higher than 50 (yes, it excludes most of the creationist and/or ID believers... :-) )
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An excellent, approachable treatment of the topic. Dawkins does best when on home turf.
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In this Year of Darwin, it's not surprising to see a new book from one of the leading proponents of Evolution. Dawkins has covered the topic from many angles in the past, this time, however, he's poking his fingers in the eyes of Creationists/"Intelligent Designers" (or, as he prefers to call them, "History deniers"). Dawkins begins by stating the dictionary definitions of the word "theory", a common entry point on Creationist dogma. The first definition of the term is, to paraphrase, "an explanation that describes a set of facts." This, he maintains, is what the Theory of Evolution is; a model which describes a set of facts. The "History deniers," however, insist on pointing to another definition of the term -- again to paraphrase, "a conjecture that describes a set of observations that have not been tested." By the end of the book, there is no doubt whatsoever that the first definition is the correct one when describing evolution.Dawkins also purports to give readers ammunition they can use when going up against Creationist/Intelligent Designer pinheads. His examples superbly describe the evidence for evolution beyond any shadow of a doubt -- however, the examples are not of the sort that simpletons will readily understand or concede. He does debase another tiresome argument that the "fossil record is incomplete" and "riddled with missing links;" Dawkins goes on to explain how we can prove evolution without using a single fossil, and besides, we have plenty of "missing links," the deniers just keep saying that as if constant repetition will make the evidence go away. Some of the hard, indisputable evidence comes from experiments in microbiology -- which is where the ammunition gets a little sophisticated for use in your average bar fight.The conclusion of the book in inescapable -- the Theory of Evolution is not dogma, to be taught alongside alternate opinions -- it is fact and needs to be taught as such. One of the staggering statistics he repeated often is that 44% of Americans actually believe the earth is less than 10,000 years old and that humans coexisted with dinosaurs. While there is some good stuff here to throw at them, most will just yell "la la la" when you try to make them less ignorant.
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Dawkins does a nice job of collecting the evidence for evolution in one place, keeping the gloating mostly under control. I think there might be a few people already teetering on the edge who would read this book and find it enough to push them over, but mostly I think it will serve to fill gaps in knowledge for those of us who are not "history deniers" as Dawkins aptly describes creationists. I liked the update on missing link fossils, although I personally find molecular evidence the most compelling.Dawkins throws in many self-indulgent asides in the form of long tiny-print footnotes. He says he knows they annoy some of his readers but he doesn't care. I enjoyed some of them; many were annoying.
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Excellent book which shows that evolution is a fact, not fiction, and not a theory. I will use arguments from this book to naysay people who spout creationism.
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Richard Dawkins has done it again! In a followup to his 2006 bestseller, The God Delusion, Dawkins hits religion again. This time, he compares the religious who deny evolution to Holocaust deniers, calling them 'nuts.' The Greatest Show on Earth is life: the beauty, elegance and evolution of life. Dawkins delves deep into his science background to show how life has evolved and how it is still evolving. Beautiful full color pictures accompany the text.
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