Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Plausibility of Life: Resolving Darwin's Dilemma” as Want to Read:
The Plausibility of Life: Resolving Darwin's Dilemma
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Plausibility of Life: Resolving Darwin's Dilemma

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  82 ratings  ·  7 reviews
Offering daring new ideas about evolution, two highly respected biologists here tackle the central, unresolved question in the field—how have living organisms on Earth developed with such astounding variety and complexity? Marc Kirschner and John Gerhart draw on cutting-edge biological and medical research to provide an original solution to this longstanding puzzle.

"In thi
...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published November 15th 2006 by Yale University Press (first published 2005)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Plausibility of Life, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Plausibility of Life

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 249)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Christina
Fascinating molecular systems view of evolution. Not really recommended for people not up on their biology jargon but pretty awesome.
Debs
This is the scary part where we get to see if I actually understood what I read. To explain it a little more, they're proposing a theory called "Facilitated Variation." Basically, they're saying that it is impossible that complex structures evolved from complete small chunks of randomness because all of the complex parts couldn't possibly be coordinated just by chance (e.g. the muscles, bones, capillaries, nerves, etc. of the hand), and also because the individual bits of things have no adaptive ...more
Pete Welter
The theory of evolution has three major elements: natural selection, heredity and variation. While support for the first two is quite solid, this book focuses on the variation part of the equation. In the classic version of evolution, it's given that random mutations cause variation, and that some small set of these mutations are helpful and therefore selected for. However, there are few things skipped over with that version of the story. First, the generation of novelty; that is, how do major j ...more
Mo Tipton
This book reads more like a textbook than popular science journalism, but it's well worth the extra effort. The authors propose a theory of facilitated variation, poking holes in nearly every argument in the Intelligent Design arsenal by providing evidence that complex systems can, and do, evolve in measurable ways, particularly in light of recent advances in molecular biology and genomics.

The authors begin by outlining five phases on the evolutionary timeline during which novel processes appea
...more
Ilya
Darwin's theory of evolution explains the process of natural selection, but doesn't explain the sources of variation the selection acts upon. A lot more is known about variation now than in Darwin's days: how Hox genes divide the bilateral animal embryo into segments, and allow mutated genes to change the development of one segment only; what parts of the genome are conserved for all life, what parts are for all eukaryotes, and so on, and what parts are plastic. There is a connection between the ...more
David
This is a fascinating book that proposes a new neo-Darwinian theory for the evolution of life. The theory is called "facilitated variation", because the authors believe that purely random mutations are not sufficient to produce the variability upon which selection can act. The authors show how the biases in phenotype variation play a large part in evolution.

This may be a very important book, but to tell the truth, I don't understand much of it. The book is highly technical, but it is cast as a g
...more
Robert
In the end, I was barely able to finish this. I mostly skimmed the last two chapters. I don't think I ever really got what they mean by "facilitated variation". They tried hard to write to both a lay and a scientific audience, and I'm afraid that in the end they satisfied neither.
Jacqui
Jacqui marked it as to-read
Mar 28, 2015
Angela
Angela marked it as to-read
Mar 28, 2015
Akrabar
Akrabar marked it as to-read
Mar 26, 2015
Laura Geyer
Laura Geyer marked it as to-read
Mar 26, 2015
Gönensin_Ozan
Gönensin_Ozan marked it as to-read
Mar 26, 2015
Yi Lin
Yi Lin marked it as to-read
Mar 04, 2015
Juvenal Nkeramahame
Juvenal Nkeramahame marked it as to-read
Mar 03, 2015
Axel
Axel marked it as to-read
Feb 24, 2015
Foo Foo
Foo Foo is currently reading it
Feb 22, 2015
Alex
Alex marked it as to-read
Feb 12, 2015
Rebecca
Rebecca marked it as to-read
Feb 07, 2015
Neil
Neil marked it as to-read
Feb 05, 2015
Stephen
Stephen marked it as to-read
Jan 30, 2015
TeamCophine
TeamCophine marked it as to-read
Jan 21, 2015
Ramzi
Ramzi marked it as to-read
Jan 20, 2015
Nobooks
Nobooks is currently reading it
Jan 17, 2015
Álvaro Moreno
Álvaro Moreno marked it as to-read
Jan 17, 2015
Kartik
Kartik marked it as to-read
Jan 15, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Evolution
  • The Variety of Life: A Survey and a Celebration of All the Creatures that Have Ever Lived
  • Life on a Young Planet: The First Three Billion Years of Evolution on Earth
  • Evolution: The First Four Billion Years
  • This is Biology: The Science of the Living World
  • The Richness of Life: The Essential Stephen Jay Gould
  • From So Simple a Beginning: Voyage of the Beagle/Origin of Species/Descent of Man/Expression of Emotions in Man & Animals
  • Evolution in Four Dimensions: Genetic, Epigenetic, Behavioral, and Symbolic Variation in the History of Life
  • Symbiotic Planet: A New Look at Evolution (Science Masters)
  • Smithsonian Intimate Guide to Human Origins
  • Animal Behavior: An Evolutionary Approach
  • Relics of Eden: The Powerful Evidence of Evolution in Human DNA
  • Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution
  • The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution
  • Not by Genes Alone: How Culture Transformed Human Evolution
  • For Love of Insects
  • Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters
  • Cro-Magnon: How the Ice Age Gave Birth to the First Modern Humans
Cells, Embryos & Evolution The Harvey Lectures Series 83, 1987-1988

Share This Book