Monday, October 24, 2011

The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True, by Richard Dawkins

Let's get the net-net out on the table right away:   this is an extremely good book.   Maybe even an important book (I'll get to why in a bit).

The problem is, Prof. Dawkins has written this book for an extremely broad audience, including a young adult (say maybe 8th grade and up) audience.   As a consequence, some of the writing -- while commendable for being so straight forward and clear -- can be a bit overwhelmingly simple.

Okay, back to the book.   Prof. Dawkins gives the clearest, simplest explanation of evolution that I've ever read; it is outstanding.   He also dispels odd myths of all sorts.

Let me posit that not a word Prof. Dawkins writes is scientifically incorrect -- you couldn't disprove a word of it.   A problem for some folks might be that they might not like all of it, based on their personal buy-in to specific myths.  

For example, if you're into a creation myth (such as one from Tasmania, where people were initially created by gods, but they had tails and no knees until another god gave them knees and removed their tails), you might decide to not prefer the science.

I suppose for most readers, the more likely creation myth that Prof. Dawkins would seek to portray as merely a myth is the Adam and Eve story.

Recently the US Republican Party has been holding debates with the lead candidates to gain the Party's nomination to run in the general election in a year or so.   One of the more worrisome aspects of those debates is the tendency of some Republicans (Jon Huntsman excepted, as he openly says that he does believe in science, probably dooming his chances to gain support from the Party) to dismiss science and prefer to make their decisions on faith.   (One hopes they're just pandering to the Tea Party faction and not actually sincere, but I'm not confident that's entirely the case.)  

Given this situation, a book that promotes science (not just evolution, but some astronomy, etc.), that is easily understood by any age audience, is a welcome thing.

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