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

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4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  24,163 ratings  ·  1,227 reviews
Charles Darwin’s masterpiece, On the Origin of Species, shook society to its core on publication in 1859. Darwin was only too aware of the storm his theory of evolution would provoke but he would surely have raised an incredulous eyebrow at the controversy still raging a century and a half later. Evolution is accepted as scientific fact by all reputable scientists and inde...more
Hardcover, 470 pages
Published September 10th 2009 by Bantam Press (first published 2009)
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Manny
To any Young Earth Creationist who happens to be reading this review

First, thank you for getting this far. It's to your credit: you're willing to find out something about what the other side has to say. You're probably expecting I'll tell you to read Dawkins's latest book. In fact, I'm not going to do that.

Don't read this book. Dawkins is disrespectful and arrogant about Young Earth Creationism, and he will only annoy you. Instead, I suggest that you might want to look at Charles Darwin's On th...more
A.J.
There's a general feeling out there about Richard Dawkins that he's a little too shrill, a little too hard on people, and perhaps a tad too full of himself. I've had a couple of these thoughts from time to time, though not the last one, and would almost catch myself nodding in agreement until I put myself in the man's shoes. Professor Dawkins is brilliant with a capital B. He is fanatically devoted to science and his particular subject, evolutionary biology. He has spent his life researching and...more
diana
Two disclaimers before I begin my review:

1. I am an atheist.
2. I am a molecular biologist.

So, I am clearly not the target audience. That being said, I really wanted to like this book. I am so happy that there are people out there who are speaking out in defense of evolution and (although not in this book) atheism, and as such I want to support Richard Dawkins. However, the best way I can sum up my feelings about the book is to say that it resembles a very long version of an undergraduate's final...more
Maria
With the help of drawings, photos, cartoons, tables, diagrams & notes, an emphasis on extremely lucid step-by-step explanations, examples, iteration & reiteration & plenty of humor, R Dawkins shows that we are indeed so lucky to be witness to the Greatest Show on Earth -- this wonderful book is addressed not only to those interested in our natural world (and who'll maybe wish they'd majored in biology) but more particularly to the creationists and proponents of "intelligent design" -...more
Marvin
Richard Dawkins has taken his seat along with Stephen Hawking and Carl Sagan as a great populist of science. In all of his science books and especially in The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence For Evolution, He has taken a complex subject and presented it with clarity to a population that usually gets lost in the seemingly foreign language of most scientists. Yet he does not "dumb down" neither. He has a gift for beautifully explaining difficult topics in a way a layman can understand. He sav...more
Kris Madaus

Wow! This is definitely one of those books that makes you look at the world a little differently after reading. Richard Dawkins writes so well on the subject. He is extremely thorough in his description of the fact of evolution, but he doesn't dumb down his explanations either. If you are interested in a particular subject, he often references places you can go to continue the story. He paints a beautiful picture of how evolution really works and why that helps you appreciate this amazing world

...more
Catie
Dawkins arguments for evolution are elegant and, in some cases, simply breath-taking. As a psychology professor myself, and as one who has had to contend with "history deniers" for years, I especially liked his description of Lenski's research on the evolution of bacteria. Although facts have always been denied by those who claim Intelligent Design as a valid explanation for all nature, Dawkins painstakingly and elegantly lays out unassailable facts in support of the theory of evolution. He stak...more
Des
Most of what Dawkins explains in this book was not yet known when I went to school.
My jaw was dropping several times during this most pleasurable trip through the physical evidence of evolution.
In 4 billion years we went from a single cell to a fully developed human, and now each of us has repreated it in the 9 months we are in the womb of our mother. The wonder of epigenisis without a blueprint!

But the funniest part in it was his quote of Monty Pythons 'All things dull and ugly':
All things dul...more
Megan
I wish I'd had engaging and interesting texts like this to read when I had to take science classes in high school. I always wanted to like science so much, but I always got bogged down in minutae, in questions the text or teachers didn't address, and in the boredom of rote memorization. This book really made me like biology. Not only does it explain concepts in an intelligent and cohesive way, it has pictures! Color pictures, even. Much like the ones I stared at in biology or earth science inste...more
Tyler Franklin
Clearly, this is a love story. Dawkin's passion for his subject is contagious. It is the locus of his expertise, the focus of his joy. He can't help himself at times, asking the reader's forgiveness and veering off-task to mention some obscure fact that blossoms into its own microchapter or multi-page footnote. And it is all really quite fascinating.

Many despise Dawkins. He's one of those guys people love to hate. In my experience, religious persons of any stripe collectively agree that his is a...more
Tag Riggs
After reading this book, I quickly realized that it was targeted for a particular audience--the choir complete with holy robes and clapping hands shouting, "...Preach it brother Dawkins, preach it my brother, Evolution AMEN!, Hallelujah!" I honestly think that it is required that you be a Dawkinite and part of the Dawkins Tabernacle Choir in order for you to take this book seriously.

I was fully expecting some kind of scientific treatise yet it ended up being like a bunch of guys on the dock lau...more
David S. T.
This isn't the best introductory book I've read on evolution, Dawkins loves to insult the people who don't hold his views, goes way to far sometimes to get his point across and has a tendency to ramble on and mention interesting but irrelevant stuff. Once you get past the flaws this actually is a pretty good book, oddly by the end some of those qualities I hated about the book in the beginning, I started to appreciate more in the end (I kind of enjoy the almost pointless side stories and facts)....more
M.G. Mason
Dawkins latest book finally tackles creationism in a not-so-head-on collision. Always vowing to never answer a challenge directly, Dawkins does it in the best way he possibly could, by demonstrating why evolution is true.

He seemingly leaves no stone uncovered in the challenge, often tackling direct claims made by creationists and demonstrating why they are false. He also covers how speciation has been observed and the whole "show me your transitional fossils" non-argument is handled masterfully....more
Marius Masalar
This is a challenging book to assess. My first question, upon finishing it, is "who is this for?"

The science is too involved for a scientifically illiterate fundamentalist creationist audience, the sardonic tone likewise off-putting to them, and the atheists like me who share his broad perspective hardly need a hand-held walk through the garden of nature's wonders and weirdnesses.

Then again, maybe we do: it should be emphasised that this book makes for a fantastic full spectrum look at the subje...more
Merilee
I am almost sad to finish this excellent book, my fifth of Dawkins'. It ranks right up there with Climbing Mount Improbable and River out of Eden. Dawkins writes beautifully, especially for a scientist, with a combination of erudition and wit. I have a fairly strong background in science, but I don't think that this book would be too much of a slog for the intelligent humanities-based reader. The book's subtitle is The Evidence for Evolution, and the case he makes is cogent and convincing (altho...more
James
In the present spirit of literary descendent-drawing, allow me to assure you that, in its wordplay, erudite references, and plethora of pleasingly flagrant diversions, Dawkins' book is tantalizingly close to the kind of volume on evolutionary biology that we'd expect from Tristram himself, had Tristram been a different person in so many ways as to make the comparison completely meaningless.
Terry
Ironically a book on evolution would be a chimera of textbook, polemic, and panegyric it does none of those things particularly well. Too informal to be authoritative and too casual to be something one could refer someone to this book fits into the wide middle of Dawkins book which are summed up as "nice but someone else has done it better".

Dawkins' books seem to grow out a nagging urge to yell something at the world and "the point" is poorly spread across sprawling chapters that reference acros...more
Scott
This book does a decent job of explaning evolution, though I have two criticisms:

First, the format suffers organizationally. The book is written as a rebuttal to creationist arguments, but Dawkins addresses those arguments by interspersing them, in no coherent order, within affirmative evidence for evolution. A bettter way to format the book would have been to model it after a good legal brief. Present the affirmative case for evolution first, then address creationist counterarguments second.

S...more
Book
The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins

The Greatest Show on Earth is another solid book in a series of books by Richard Dawkins. This book has to do with the evidence in support of evolution. The book is composed of the following thirteen chapters: 1.Only a theory? 2. Dogs, cows and cabbages, 3.The primrose path to macro-evolution, 4.Silence and slow time, 5.Before our very eyes, 6.Missing link? What do you mean `missing'? 7. Missing persons? Missing no longer, 8. You did it yourself in n...more
Emily
Richard Dawkins has set out to challenge Creationists with his new book "The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution." As someone who was taught evolution by one of the most hardcore nuns in my Catholic school, I've always found Creationism somewhat baffling. Isn't "faith" believing in spite of evidence? Not pretending the evidence doesn't exist?

In my personal canon, I rather like the idea that the "clay" God made Adam out of in the Bible is actually RNA. All live evolved from this,...more
5pac3m0nkey
Jun 02, 2012 5pac3m0nkey rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: science geeks, philosophers, rationalists
Ah the venerable Richard Dawkins -- self-proclaimed atheist of an almost evangelical bent. My problem with Richard is that he spends too much time philosophizing publicly. His atheist stance becomes almost more important than his work as a evolutionary biologist. But we are dealing with dumb times so I think he believes it is his duty to inform the general public of the misconceptions about evolution.
If you are into the implications of natural philosophy on the question of God, as well as the h...more
Cherie
Richard Dawkins has crafted a masterpiece dedicated to explaining evolution in a way that the layman can understand, providing excellent examples of evidence from fossil evidence to observable evidence, genetic evidence, and so on. My personal favorite chapter was on the geographic distribution of animals and speciation. It is really like an extraordinary puzzle that fits together so beautifully. Richard Dawkins uses the detective analogy to describe the study of evolution. And I can't think of...more
Sandra
This is an important book, chock-full of wonderful information, and beautifully crafted arguments to quash purveyors of creationism and intelligent design. It left me immensely depressed because, of course, Dawkins is preaching to the choir here. Said purveyors of creationism and intelligent design will not read this book, nor will they let you try to explain it to them. According to Dawkins, 44% of Americans believe God created human beings pretty much in their present form sometime during the...more
Ashley
Scientists accept evolution because there is so much evidence for evolution and none found yet that refutes it. But what IS that evidence? I knew so little of that evidence before I read this book. This book was much needed because it thoroughly explains the evidence for evolution coming from a variety of scientific areas: zoology, geography, geology, genetics, natural history, etc. Further, it does so in a way that was easy for me to understand (for the most part...more on that a bit later). I...more
Amanda
Approaching this with an education (albeit only just over half an undergrad degree for now) in evolutionary biology was a rather different experience, I would imagine, than approaching it with minimal knowledge of the subject matter. As it stands, I liked the book; I thought it was well put together and used some really classic as well as some really new and exciting examples of experiments that have been done and discoveries that have shaped our current understanding of evolution. But I also ha...more
Meenakshi
He’s frustrated, he’s angry and he’s had quite enough. I echo his sentiments exactly. Why is it so difficult to believe in the evidence shoved in your face but just way too easy to believe in naked beings eating forbidden fruit and unleashing horrors in the world? A conversation with my dear mother or a close friend can make anyone fly off the handle. Senseless logic is in abundance. I am a very patient person except when it comes religion. I see no reason why I should be.
A brilliant article in...more
Jack Ferreira
As usual Richard Dawkins managed to put toguether yet another irrefutable and amazingly well writen book. You really don't need to have any cientific background whatsoever to enjoy his work, and it reads as rivetingly as any good fiction can. His explanatory skills are superb and so, so easy to follow.

The objective of this book is to prove why evolution is true, and it absolutely does. It really puts into perspective the grand scope of evidence that exists in favour of it. And I thought I kne...more
Lynne Williamson
Reading Dawkins' "The Greatest Show on Earth," I developed a much greater understanding of how all living organisms are related as branches on the evolutionary "tree." The chapters on mammals and the emphasis on the bone structure that all mammals have - same number of bones in a similar alignment - with wonderful variations selected for environmental conditions - was awe inspiring. (And I use "awe" here in the sense of a rational human wanting to know more --- not in some sort of quasi-metaphys...more
Erik
"Evolution is a fact. Beyond reasonable doubt, beyond serious doubt, beyond sane, informed, intelligent doubt, beyond doubt evolution is a fact."

So Dawkins ardently asserts by page seven of his latest coup de grace of scientific reasoning and logical deduction which is easily digestible by laypeople such as myself.

Dawkins also warns us readers several times of the ignorance that pervades our world, even in this new century.

"…some 40 million per cent of the American population, and a somewhat sma...more
Mahmoud Adly Ezzat
Although I believe in Allah (aka God, i.e, a creationist), I gave this book five stars because it is a real book of science. I like how believers in anything choose wisely their battles and avoid using weak arguments when there are stronger ones to use.

The book took me from the basic science I studied at school to higher levels to prove a point. I had a round in cosmology, chemistry, biology, geology, ... etc (many words ending wit -ology).

It defends its model to the last proof and piece of info...more
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Dawkins Is A Preacher & Novelist, Not A Scientist 11 53 Jul 09, 2014 01:07PM  
Update some present science concepts... 2 89 Oct 09, 2012 10:05AM  
  • Why Evolution Is True
  • Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution
  • Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters
  • Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design
  • Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life
  • The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution
  • Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea
  • The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values
  • The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God
  • What Evolution Is
  • Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body
  • The Counter-Creationism Handbook
  • The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever
  • A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing
  • The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature
  • Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution
  • Life: A Natural History of the First Four Billion Years of Life on Earth
  • From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time
The God Delusion The Selfish Gene The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True

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“Evolution could so easily be disproved if just a single fossil turned up in the wrong date order. Evolution has passed this test with flying colours.” 103 likes
“Why would an all-powerful creator decide to plant his carefully crafted species on islands and continents in exactly the appropriate pattern to suggest, irresistibly, that they had evolved and dispersed from the site of their evolution?” 74 likes
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