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The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True
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The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True

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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  9,635 ratings  ·  715 reviews
Magic takes many forms. Supernatural magic is what our ancestors used in order to explain the world before they developed the scientific method. The ancient Egyptians explained the night by suggesting the goddess Nut swallowed the sun. The Vikings believed a rainbow was the gods’ bridge to earth. The Japanese used to explain earthquakes by conjuring a gigantic catfish that ...more
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Published 2011 by Transworld Publishers and Somethin' Else
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Freakonomics by Steven D. LevittThe God Delusion by Richard DawkinsA Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill BrysonThe Invention of Religion by Alexander DrakeThe Invention of Christianity by Alexander Drake
Most Engaging Scientific Nonfiction
21st out of 163 books — 124 voters
1984 by George OrwellBrave New World by Aldous HuxleyFahrenheit 451 by Ray BradburyTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeAnimal Farm by George Orwell
Books that make you think.
122nd out of 483 books — 460 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Caroline
Mar 04, 2014 Caroline rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone whose knowledge of science is a bit shaky.
Shelves: 5-star-books
I am still sizzling with delight over my latest Dawkins' read - having soaked up its information like a hungry sponge. It leaves the reader totally awed and dazzled with the world. I’m humming with it. The birds (plump with protons and neurons, atoms and molecules) are singing louder than ever in the garden, and that amazingly mysterious and wonderful star that we call the sun, (roaring away converting hydrogen to helium), shines even more brilliantly in the blue sky as we make a sedate path rou ...more
Brian Clegg
A surprising number of scientists feel that Richard Dawkins does the public understanding of science real harm through his belligerent attacks on religion, which turn off a good half of his potential audience, but no one can doubt that he has a talent for getting science, particularly biology, across to a general readership. This is his first attempt at a children's book (or rather a 'family' book as it is aimed at a wider readership) and it has much to praise.

The Magic of Reality is a solid fee
...more
Cheryl
Five stars means, to me, everyone should read it. And yes, this book is clearly enough written for a bright 8 year-old & interesting enough to be shared by a mulit-generational family. It's full of enough information and very nifty pictures that I, evn though I have already read & studied a lot of science, am reading it word-for-word. I'm also buying it for my husband - he doesn't read much non-fiction because the genre still means 'textbook' to him, but he's always wondered 'so how do s ...more
Noah
I live in the United States in the 21st century. There is no greater danger to our species and our civilization right now than religious crazies. How can we ask our businesses to change the way they do business so as to prevent climate change if half of the country doesn't believe in scientific evidence? Or worse yet, if they expect a big bearded man to come down and bail us out if things get too bad?

What about the people who believe that the world will end, in the next few years, with a war in
...more
Emily
I'm a big fan of Dawkins ever since reading The Selfish Gene many many years ago. However, I was very disppointed in this book, which is so basic that it shouldn't contain surprises for anyone who graduated from high school. There were no surprises and nothing really new - the most interesting part for me was how each chapter is introduced with an example of a myth that people have made up to explain some natural phenomenon, which the rest of the chapter then explains. I found the majority of it ...more
Antonia
Great book: clear and accessible (not sure of the best age group, though). Kids are naturally curious and fascinated by how the world works. They're also susceptible to all kinds of nonsense, of course. This much-needed book fill s a gap between simplistic kids' books and adult science books. Also, we need books that help kids understand, not just the facts of the world, but how we know them and, more generally, how do we know whether something's true or not? And I should think this book would b ...more
Book
A note for all my goodreads friends, if you like my review please go to Amazon and click the like button. It would help my "reviewer cred". Thanks and enjoy this wonderful book.


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

"The Magic of Reality" is the latest contribution by evolutionary-biologist icon Richard Dawkins. Professor Dawkins is on a mission of education and in this enlightening book he reaches a younger audience by introducing science like only he can. In one
...more
Jason Mills
Oct 01, 2011 Jason Mills rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Dawkins fans, inquisitive young folks
Dawkins here seeks to enthuse young minds about science: not only with its discoveries but as an approach to the world that is far more thrilling and fascinating - not to say productive - than the idle stories and easy answers of myth and religion. Indeed, it is inherently an encouragement to learn and to challenge one's intellect, rather than to remain ignorant.

Each chapter addresses a question about the world: What are things made of? What is a rainbow? Dawkins commences in each case by recoun
...more
Alastair
Whilst I would not dare to fault Dawkins' science, to describe his grasp of the role of myth and story in social evolution as 'limited' would, yet again, be generous.

Philip Pullman is quoted in the cover: 'The clearest and most beautifully written introduction to science I've ever read.' Perhaps Mr Pullman read a pre-publication edition in which the writing wasn't dominated by a 1950's avuncular style, peppered with complex concepts and language, the understanding of which is assumed. Also to c
...more
James
I don't think I can put it any better than the quote from Ricky Gervais on the back of this book:

"I wanted to write this book, but I wasn't smart enough. Now that I've read it, I am."

This is an excellent book even for those who like me, were generally familiar with most of the concepts tackled within it already. The trick to knowing whether you really understand something or not is whether or not you can explain it to someone else and have them understand it too. Before reading this book I'm not
...more
Armin
The Magic of Reality covers the very basics of what we know about evolution, astronomy, geology, physics and science in general. With its lovely illustrations and clear explanations, it's an amazing gift for children.

I didn't include adults because I assume they already know these basic facts of science. In reality though, I've encountered people, even some college graduates who don't know these basic stuff. And, frankly, I find it astonishing that many adults either don't know anything about or
...more
Shaimaa Ali
فى "سحر الواقع" يأخذنا داوكنز فى مقارانات عديدة بين الأساطير والعلم فى استعراض جذاب يجعلك لا تترك الكتاب لحظة! لقد نجح تماماً فى جعلى قارئة نهمة لكتابه حتى انتهيت منه!!

فى أول فصلين يحاول داوكنز جاهداً تأكيد قانون الانتخاب الطبيعى الذى جاء به داروين وأثره فى تفسير عملية التطور البطىء للأجناس المختلفة (ومن ضمنها الانسان بالطبع) .. كل ما نجح ان يثبته هو الاستدلال بأن الشفرة الوراثية للانسان تختلف بتسعة احرف فقط عن الشمبانزى ، بينما يختلف الفأر عنا فى ١٣٩ حرفاً .. ثمّ؟! لا شىء!! لم يفسر لنا لمًَّ .
...more
Nihal Engin
This was the worst popular science book that I have read. It was lazily-written with no real structure rather than flimsy chapter beginnings with myths. The information in it was extremely random and superficial. I'm sorry to say this but it is nothing more than a rant of a famous person than a popular science book with an aim to inform its audience.

I used to enjoy Dawkins' books back in the day; when they were about topics which he has a good grasp of (i.e. evolution). But I really don't like
...more
Bruce Caithness
The critical underpinning of science is brought to attention in "The Magic of Reality" as well as the wonderful list of findings that have been put forward by science. One cannot fault the book for lacking enthusiasm.

Joe Barnhart in Karl Popper: Philosopher of Critical Realism made some nice comments that temper Richard Dawkins sometimes overly enthusiastic positivism.

Myths graduate to science when they are open to being tested, science rests on a bedrock of mythology.

Creationists who insist on
...more
Nikki
I'm not entirely sure why I still read Dawkins' work. I think he's an extremely intelligent person, of course, and I've enjoyed reading books that focus on science by him -- I love The Ancestor's Tale, for example. But I hate the way that he cannot stop poking at religion, and I expected to hate it even more in a book called The Magic of Reality.

Actually, he's more respectful than usual. It all seems rather toned down, since it's aimed at a younger audience than his other books (which is somewha
...more
Mohammad Tanviruzzaman
Science's explanation can be more beautiful and amazing than any myth, miracle, or magic: Dawkins makes this point by picking up a series of questions (like: what is real? what is a rainbow? why do we have night and day, summer and winter? who is the first person? why are there so many kinds of life-forms? etc.), which haunt many of us time and again, and then he presents what the myths have to offer as the answer to each of those questions and what science has to offer; and through this journey ...more
Patricia Lee
As a work of non-fiction,The Magic of Reality: How we know what’s really true, by Richard Dawkins and illustrated by Dave McKean, is an app, where “reading relies on touch and manipulation”. (Bouchardon & Heckman, 2012). This text is Dawkin’s first for teenagers, persuading the reader that the reality of science is as ‘magical’ as mythology. The well researched content is clearly presented, however, on occasions, Dawkins resorts to first person thus detracting from the authority of the text ...more
Marzie
An excellent 'family book'. The app of the book, which contains the full text and interactive elements, is a fabulous means to engage older elementary and middle school children in scientific thinking. With emphasis on logic and seeking evidence to understand our reality, Dawkins offers a pragmatic look at a variety of topics, which include evolution, the seasons, light, etc.
Maryam Same Same
سحر الواقع كتاب علمي بحت عن بعض الظواهر ع الارض مثل الزلازل \ تعاقب الليل والنهار \قوس قزح وغيرها يبدا المؤلف الفصل بسؤال؟ ثم يعطي اجابات من اساطير اسيويه وافريقيه متداوله ثم التفسير العلمي الصحيح \ اسلوبه متوسط وسهل الفهم يشرح الفكره بامثله من الحياه اليوميه فيسهل استعيابها\ ع الهامش شاهدت له وثائقي من فتره كان فكرته عن التصرفات السيئه في المجتمع المتدين والغير متدين خلاصته ان كلا افراد المجتمعين يقومون بتصرفات سيئه بس في المجتمع المتدين التصرف +الشعور بالذنب واذكر لما صرح احد الوعاظ عندنا ان ق ...more
Ainar Miyata
Wow. I would give this a 6 if it was possible. Maybe even a 7. Dawkins's passion for science is brought to life through his succint prose and magnified thousandfold by some of the most breathtaking illustrations I've ever seen.

I will buy this book for those I love.
Ahmad Badghaish
كتاب علمي بحت ؛ فيزياء، كيمياء، أحياء. أعجبني تبسيطه للمواضيع العلمية
بالنسبة لي -بحكم دراستي للهندسة- فكثير من المواضيع مكررة بالنسبة لي، الجديد بالنسبة لي كان في مواضيع نظرية التطور، أظن بأن هذه أول مرة أقرأ عنها بهذا التوسع
Prem Aparanji
Not for young children. Teenagers maybe. But otherwise good compilation of myths and their contrast with scientific reasons for various questions like origin of universe, man, etc.

Scientific temper is necessary and that requires a skeptical mind. Denouncing myths is one thing, not understanding their power is another. Myths have the power to capture the imagination of the child. Not this book.

Richard Dawkins has a good intent, bad execution. He needs to learn how to narrate, make science facts
...more
Linda Rawlinson
This book is an excellent explanation of science, what it's for, and why it's important. I don't really see it as a book for children, I see it as a book for anyone who wants to think about the beauty of science and everything. It's a book that just consolidates what we already know - I didn't really learn anything knew from it, but I didn't expect to; I did find that the book helped me to pin down my thoughts on reality though, which is just what I hoped it would do. Of course, it's aimed at a ...more
Tony
THE MAGIC OF REALITY: How We Know What’s Really True. (2011). Richard Dawkins. ****.
When I got this copy from the library, I learned that this was a YA-sized coffee table book about selected subjects in science. Nothing wrong with that, especially from an excellent writer like Dawkins. To top it off, the book is profusely illustrated by Dave McKean, an artist with a long list of awards in his pocket. Dawkins takes a somewhat different approach to his topics. His contention was that our ancestor
...more
Owen
This book is aimed at teens, I guess, but while the science seems to be at the appropriate level, its discursive and rhetorical style are probably going to go over their heads. Dawkins' approach is to present mythical explanations for natural phenomena, followed by our current scientific understanding of what's really going on—the reality which is, in his terms, even more "magical" and wonderful than the myth. I'm dismayed that our supposedly advanced civilizations, particularly the US, are stil ...more
Megan
This is a beautiful book with some really great illustrations, and it does a wonderful job of making science accessible to younger readers (although, not super young - the writing style is a bit challenging at times). This would be a really cool textbook, or style for a textbook.

The writing occasionally edges into the dry, but there are enough anecdotes and pretty pictures to make up for the occasional wall of text.

My only problem is with his approach towards mythological stories. I like the var
...more
Erika RS
The audio version of this book is read by Richard Dawkins and some other Lalla Ward. This is mainly relevant because it meant that I got to spend 5 hours listening to British accents. =)

The book itself was good. Each chapter poses a question, gives some answers provided by traditional myths, and then talks about the real scientific answer. I'll lay out up front, that yes, Dawkins does use the Bible for some of his examples of myths, but except to the biblical literalists (especially of the Creat
...more
Lana Fadel
The Magic of Reality is a great book that i enjoyed reading a lot! This book provides some simple point of view answers to young adults like us who have questions about God, life, evolution and etc..
It's written by Richard Dawkins who is an atheist and has a certain point of view, not biased per say, but might be offensive to some believers. The book has scientific explanations to every question. for an instance, Dawkins defines reality as what can be perceived with the senses, detected with sc
...more
Becky Black
I remember when I was a kid owning large format hardbacks books about natural history and astronomy with great photos and illustrations, published by companies like Reader's Digest and Time Life. They were books I could go back to over and over and were inspiring to my young mind. I think this book would have fitted in very well with them. I wish I'd had it then. It's a thing of beauty as well as being interesting and educational, with glossy pages with gorgeous illustrations. Highly recommended ...more
Rosalía
Written for children, this book by Richard Dawkins is chock full of colorful illustrations that are quite beautiful for even the adults. The content of the book is really not for children and more for a high school student or for someone who is just starting out in college and who needs a science review before moving on to meatier subjects. I enjoyed the review as well as a different perspective on plate tectonics or the color spectrum. Even his discussion on folklore was fascinating.
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“bad things, like good things don't happen any more often than they ought to by chance. the universe has no mind, no feelings, and no personality, so it doesn't do things in order to either hurt or please you. bad things happen because things happen.” 20 likes
“The truth is more magical - in 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.” 17 likes
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