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

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4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  11,404 ratings  ·  842 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 ca ...more
ebook, 272 pages
Published October 4th 2011 by Free Press (first published 2011)
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Caroline
May 20, 2015 Caroline rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone whose knowledge of science is a bit shaky.
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
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
Yazeed AlMogren
يتحدث ريتشارد دوكنز في هذا الكتاب الذي أنتهى منه في عام 2011 عن بعض الظواهر الطبيعية والطبية والكونية وكيفية حدوثها وماذا كانت تعتقد الأمم القديمة عنها قبل أن يأتي العلم الحديث بتفسير لها، الكتاب شيق وممتع وترجمة عدنان الشهاوي كانت متقنة ورائعة لدرجة تشعر بها بأن لغة الكتاب الأصلية هي العربية لولا الخطأ الذي وقع فيه المترجم عندما نقل أن سقراط هو أول من فكر بالذرة بينما الصحيح "كما ورد أيضًا في النسخة الإنجليزية من الكتاب" هو أن ديموقريطوس من فكر بذلك
Toni
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
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 حرفاً .. ثمّ؟! لا شىء!! لم يفسر لنا لمًَّ .. ل
...more
Shaun
I enjoy reading and learning about myths. I devour a good ghost story. I actively seek out tales of the supernatural. But I also believe that the greatest magic of all is the magic of reality, and for that reason, I love science.

This was a library copy, but after reading, it's one I'll purchase if only so I can have it around for the kids to thumb through. In fact, it is written in such a basic and easily digestible format that I am considering using in my home school curriculum.

This beautifully
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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
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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
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
Santhosh
The book covers a lot of basic science topics in brief, serving as a good, clear, basic introduction to evolution, natural selection, genetics, molecular physics, cosmology, astronomy, plate tectonics and probability. While the stated audience for this book is 12-year olds, I would say it also makes a good read for intelligent adults whose science grounding is poor. The biggest current danger isn't kids not getting some education, but rather growing up into adults who falsely believe in religiou ...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
Nihal Vrana
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.
Nesma Mostafa
_ انتهيت اليوم من قراءة كتاب: "سحر الواقع" / لـ "ريتشارد دوكنز" / ترجمة: "عدنان علي الشهاوي".
_ الكتاب عبارة عن 280 ص، مقسم إلى إثنى عشر فصلا معنونة كالتالي:
الفصل الأول: ما الواقع، ما السحر؟
الفصل الثاني: من كان الإنسان الأول؟
الفصل الثالث: لماذا يوجد عدد بالغ الكثرة من الحيوانات المختلفة؟
الفصل الرابع: ممّ تتكوّن الأشياء؟
الفصل الخامس: لماذا الليل والنهار والشتاء والصيف؟
الفصل السادس: ما الشمس؟
الفصل السابع: ما قوس قزح؟
الفصل الثامن: متى وكيف بدأ كُل شئ؟
الفصل التاسع: هل نحن بمفردنا؟
الفصل العاشر: ما الز
...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
Ahmed Hassan
قرأت معظمه..
كتاب مناسب جداً لطفلِك الملحد..
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
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“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.” 24 likes
“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.” 24 likes
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