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Book Club 2010 & Prior > March 2010 Runner Up!

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message 1: by Salvatrice (new)

Salvatrice Since many people have expressed interest in the Dawkins book, and the March book has not been a huge hit, I'm starting a new thread for the Greatest Show on Earth. We can keep it going through April while still choosing a new April book...if anyone would like to volunteer to be discussion leader for the Dawkins book please send me a message.
Thanks!


message 2: by Patricrk (new)

Patricrk patrick | 136 comments I enjoyed the book. The author clearly thinks American school systems have a lot of problems in teaching the subject. What is strongest evidence in your opinion that he mentions?


message 3: by Sin (new)

Sin | 0 comments I have this book on my bookshelf and this would be a good opportunity to really read it.
When you mentioned American school system it remainded me of an article I read this Sunday in Toronto Star.
Here is the link if you are interested:
http://www.parentcentral.ca/parent/ed...


message 4: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (last edited Mar 26, 2010 12:52PM) (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (SusannaG) | 273 comments I have not read Greatest Show on Earth (and don't have it); but one of the things I found very interesting about The Selfish Gene was that Dawkins's interpretation of genetic inheritance was the one I got in school. Only about 5 years after Selfish Gene was written, and at a parochial school.


message 5: by Kerry (new)

Kerry (kerrybarringer) This is one of the easiest of the Dawkin's books to read. He is clear, occasionally funny, and has toned down his combative and preachy side.
I am enjoying this book but I wonder if, because of Dawkin's reputation as an outspoken atheist, it will not reach many of the people who could benefit. Most of us who will buy and read this book are probably already comfortable with the ideas of evolution and natural selection.


message 6: by Josie (new)

Josie Bell (bellchild) | 6 comments Giving in and putting The Omnivore's Dilemma and Parasite Rex a bit on the backburner to start this tonight. . . My mind is fickle, at best, but I trust Dawkins to keep me going on a topic like this. I enjoy his style.


message 7: by Josie (new)

Josie Bell (bellchild) | 6 comments Bumbling for a second after reading only the first chapter: I do enjoy it so far, but I'm making notes like a mad woman and having a mock-conversation with Dawkins over his continued reference to pedants and his assumption that his readers already know or understand some things.

I'm probably (definitely) not great enough to classify myself as a pedant. I'm all right with that. Heh. I'm also more interested in science and skepticism than most people I know in my little corner of the planet. But I want to be able to hand the book to a pedantic ass (I love my pedantic ass friends, don't get me wrong) or one of the many curious-but-not-quite-convinced wavering potential creationists. I want to be able to hand it to them without making apologies for Dawkins. Hell, I won't make apologies for Dawkins. I don't think he needs them. But I'm afraid it'd rub them the wrong way from the start.

So I'm going into it with the mindset that he'd better be provin' me lots of something, or we're going to have a battle in annotations over my Kindle. Which isn't to say that this is a bad thing. Annotation battles help me retain information. . . I want it to be valuable to the people it really needs to reach. So I'll undoubtedly read with that squarely in mind the entire time. I want it to be successful, so I'm upping my standards for it, I guess.

End bumble, for now. :D


message 8: by Salvatrice (new)

Salvatrice This is a strange read for me. Truthfully, I probably would not have picked it up b/c Dawkins always strikes me as so angry. I'm a peace-lovin' gal and while I LOVE a good discussion, I don't have much interest in fights and attacks. Of course, my assessment is thus-far based on sound-bites and tid-bits, so it's probably good that I've got some motivation to read his work for myself...


ps-Josie, your "bumbling" cracks me up!


message 9: by David (last edited Mar 28, 2010 06:57PM) (new)

David | 654 comments Mod
Sin wrote: "I have this book on my bookshelf and this would be a good opportunity to really read it. When you mentioned American school system it remainded me of an article I read this Sunday in Toronto Star.
..."


Sin, thanks for the link. To me, it is a very depressing story. And I read a similar story, just today, in our local newspaper about science textbooks for home-schooled children.

On a happier note, I've started reading Dawkins' book, and find it to be very enjoyable. I just love the photograph--taken from Harun Yahya's "Atlas of Creation" of a caddis fly--which is actually a fishing lure!


message 10: by Cookie (new)

Cookie | 15 comments Josie wrote: "Giving in and putting The Omnivore's Dilemma and Parasite Rex a bit on the backburner to start this tonight. . . My mind is fickle, at best, but I trust Dawkins to keep me going on a topic like thi..."
I loved the Omnivore's Dilemma- great book. I will never think of corn the same again.


message 11: by Kevin (new)

Kevin  (coolmoss) | 6 comments Salvatrice wrote: "This is a strange read for me. Truthfully, I probably would not have picked it up b/c Dawkins always strikes me as so angry. I'm a peace-lovin' gal and while I LOVE a good discussion, I don't hav..."

Dawkins has certainly mixed it up some with the religious right and to be sure he does go all the way when the mood strikes him. Or perhaps to continue with the theme, when the gloves are dropped. It's this reason that I agree with Josie in that I don't heel compelled to apologize for his actions.
You'll find that R.D. is not as aggressive as he is made out to be when he is a teacher and not an activist.


message 12: by Kevin (new)

Kevin  (coolmoss) | 6 comments Josie wrote: "Bumbling for a second after reading only the first chapter: I do enjoy it so far, but I'm making notes like a mad woman and having a mock-conversation with Dawkins over his continued reference to p..."

Hello Josie, I'm no academic when it comes to evolution, but I am very well read. I have enjoyed Dawkins' books in the past, and this one is no exception, what with the comfortable writing style and colorful images.
If you don't fancy yourself an expert on the topic, Dawkins can pass over some points in his book without a more detailed description. I found that much was left unsaid.

As for how the book will be received by your run of the mill creationist, (died in the wool as R.D. would say) I don't think they will go near the book with a ten foot pole. After all, they're creationists. I should think that you'd have more success dropping a copy of Ken Miller's book in their lap.


message 13: by David (new)

David | 654 comments Mod
Kevin wrote: "... As for how the book will be received by your run of the mill creationist, (died in the wool as R.D. would say) I don't think they will go near the book with a ten foot pole. After all, they're creationists. ..."

I agree entirely. This book really serves evolutionists who need some context and understanding of the evidence for evolution, should they encounter creationists.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (SusannaG) | 273 comments I read Omnivore's Dilemma a few years ago, and it was excellent. Highly thought-provoking.


message 15: by Salvatrice (new)

Salvatrice Cookie wrote: i will never think of corn the same way again"

cookie~ i totally agree. :)


message 16: by Salvatrice (last edited Mar 30, 2010 06:36AM) (new)

Salvatrice Kevin wrote: "You'll find that R.D. is not as aggressive as he is made out to be when he is a teacher and not an activist"

I was just thinking as I read last night, that he was probably an awesome prof. his passion for the subject is contagious.

And as David and Kevin mentioned this book is not REALLY for the creationist...I'm sure Dawkins is aware that it's not usually an effective persuasion strategy to open your argument with name-calling.


message 17: by David (new)

David | 654 comments Mod
I finished "The Greatest Show on Earth" last week; I've become so interested in the subject, that I plan to read other books on evolution.

This week I read "The Language Instinct" by Steven Pinker. Another, absolutely wonderful book. The author argues that language acquisition is an instinct that has evolved over many generations, through natural selection. Under the front cover of the book are many testimonials, including a big one by Richard Dawkins, who wrote: "Reading Steven Pinker's book is one of the biggest favors I've ever done for my brain...." That's quite some praise!


message 18: by Kevin (new)

Kevin  (coolmoss) | 6 comments David wrote: "I finished "The Greatest Show on Earth" last week; I've become so interested in the subject, that I plan to read other books on evolution.

This week I read "The Language Instinct" by Steven Pink..."


I haven't taken that one home yet, though I've held on to it before. I have always to decide what kind of time I have free for investment in a topic and time is a commodity right now.
I had picked up "A brain for all Seasons" by William H. Calvin many years ago that tackled (among other things) the origin of language. I'm sure though that Pinker dug deeper into the matter.
As with evolution, one must only grasp the basics to begin spotting the relationships between any trait - be it behaviour or the length of a beak - and the environmental factors that would have allowed the preservation of these traits.
The emergence of spoken language (with the advantage of it's cohesive social networking) is no different.
It's existence isn't arbitrary, it had selective advantage.


message 19: by Liz (new)

Liz Brau | 5 comments Found myself skimming a bit but really overall am enjoying the book so far. The bacteria and guppie experiments were fun to read about and appreciate the thoughtfulness and thoroughness of the experimenters.

Sad to learn about an example of crap science with that textbook that mislabeled many photos of animals...especially the picture of the fishing lure! UGH!!!

And also sad to read about that guy on the plane who was very into the discussion until he learned it was about "natural selection."

("The Language Instinct" also sounds cool. I'll have to but that on my Q.)


message 20: by Eric (new)

Eric (Eric_Underscore) | 2 comments I enjoyed the audiobook and gave it 4 stars. It took me a while to get through (1.5 months) but that is because I have other good books going. I love the science and the writing style. There were a few places that got slow as when he described the microbiology experiments.
I think it's useful to counter some common misconceptions or lies about evolution. I think most readers will learn a lot. I am glad that Charles Darwin is getting the treatment he deserves. I enjoyed the Omnivore's Dilemma maybe a little more because it is more motivating.

I know a few very aggressive creationists but not anyone that I would need to arm myself against as Dawkins seems to be arming the reader. And they would never read a book like this. So I wonder if anyone's mind will be changed? This might help sway the person who is open minded and influenced by logic and who has heard some of the strong creationist vitriol.


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