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

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  20,994 ratings  ·  1,523 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
Hardcover, 271 pages
Published October 4th 2011 by Free Press (first published 2011)
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Tony Maggs There is no such thing as 'before the big bang'. The start of the universe was the start of time, time doesn't exist outside the universe. Anything…moreThere is no such thing as 'before the big bang'. The start of the universe was the start of time, time doesn't exist outside the universe. Anything outside the universe can have no effect on what is inside the universe. If some form of god exists outside the universe it doesn't matter because any being outside can have no effect on anything in the universe. It really is a tough one to get your head around.
As for aliens, that's more a question of probability than belief, given the number of worlds in the universe there is a very high probability some others contain intelligent life. Conversely, we have studied quite a large chunk of the universe in great detail and found not one single piece of evidence for a god or gods.(less)

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Average rating 4.04  · 
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Ahmad Sharabiani
The Magic of Reality : How We Know What's Really True, Richard Dawkins
The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True is a 2011 book by the British biologist Richard Dawkins, with illustrations by Dave McKean. The book was released on 15 September 2011 in the United Kingdom, and on 4 October 2011 in the United States. It is a graphic science book aimed primarily at children and young adults. Dawkins has stated that the book is intended for those aged around 12 years and upwards, and t
Mar 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
To be sure, I need to be clear as to WHY I like this book. It's not like any of the science or reasoning in it is new or unusual, or that I haven't heard many similar reasonings here or there all the way from high school physics courses all the way to certain and strange movies I've enjoyed.

Why I do love this book is simple: it's clear, concise, and it does a very admirable job of setting up magical thinking in all its flavors against the fundamentals of science.

It's a gr
Brian Clegg
Sep 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 15, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Oct 12, 2011 rated it liked it
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, wi
Darian Onaciu
Jun 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As a wee child - no, I'm not Scottish, I just like how 'wee' sounds - I was introverted and could rarely feel at ease while playing with other children.
Unfortunately that was a problem because, being human, I also didn't enjoy being left out of activities. All that changed when I discovered the magic of reading books - no, I didn't turn into a robot from the Dungeon Dimensions.

Now, don't get me wrong, I wasn't a hermit and got my periodic dose of socialization - yup, sounds cri
Oct 30, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
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
I actually wanted to give this book a 2 and a half but it didn't work haha, This is pretty good but you must be really concentrated and thats kinda hard to not think of other things when you read it. Maybe i am to young to understand everything so i think i will try again in a couple of years!
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science, evolution
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 sc
Jason Mills
Sep 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  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 re
Aug 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 r
Mar 18, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Dyary Abubakr
Mar 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: richard-dawkins
Magic is a slippery word: Dawkins wrote it is commonly used in three different ways, and the first thing I must do is distinguish between them. I'll call the first one 'supernatural magic', the second one 'stage magic' and the third one (which is my favourite meaning, and the one I intend in my title) 'poetic magic' What I hope to show you in this book is that reality – the facts of the real world as understood through the methods of science – is magical in this third sense, the poetic sense, t ...more
Nihal Vrana
Aug 25, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
Aug 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Kacey Kells
Aug 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
« We should always be open-minded, but the only good reason to believe that something exists is if there is a real evidence that it does ».
Richard Dawkins’ aim is to promote rationalism and the scientific method (i.e. proposing a model and then testing it), rejecting myths and the supernatural. Hence, he addresses key issues such as: the evolution of species and natural selection, organic chemistry and Carbon based life, atoms (“what things are made of”), rainbows and the dispersion of light, t
Feb 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jim Whitefield
Sep 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Armed with the foreknowledge that this book is written to appeal to quite young readers as well as other ages, you will not feel Dawkins is as condescending in tone as you might otherwise be drawn to conclude. In my opinion, he does a marvellous job of writing in a fashion that will entertain and retain the interest of youngsters, whilst at the same time enthralling those of us who are of a much older generation. Beautifully illustrated throughout and with numerous wonderful photos as well, the ...more
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 (whic
Nov 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 anyth
Cassandra Kay Silva
Jan 22, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science
I didn't like the approach of this book. I liked the God Delusion and I liked some of his other books on evolution especially The Greatest Show on Earth, but this one is kind of a bad combo of the two. He basically pits Religious and Mythical tradition against "the Magic of Science and the reality of Nature". Whether he meant to do that or not this is definitely the way it comes across and I think this is a terrible approach. I am a great lover of reading religion and mythical tradition for what ...more
Catalin Negru
Dec 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
Target audience: The book primarily targets children and young adults, but it is good for adults who know little about biology as well.

About the author: According to Wikipedia, Clinton Richard Dawkins is an English evolutionary biologist and author. He is an emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford, and was the University of Oxford's Professor for Public Understanding of Science from 1995 until 2008. Dawkins is an atheist, and is well known for his criticism of creationism and intelligent design. In his 1986 book The Blindwell.
Bruce Caithness
Jan 15, 2013 rated it liked it
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. ...more
Prem Aparanji
Feb 19, 2012 rated it it was ok
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 sc
Karel Baloun
Dec 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a fine capstone book for Richard Dawkins illustrious career; I can't think of how it could be better.

He bounces back-and-forth between myth and reality, and leaves us hopeful that tomorrow's reality will look like magic to us.

Yet, as a science interested adult, it seemed to me that I knew every fact and every story in the book, perhaps because cosmos told so many, or because it's hard to be original in these foundational science areas with the Internet. The only t
Mohammad Tanviruzzaman
Mar 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Mukesh Emes
Dec 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.
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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.” 46 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.” 32 likes
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