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Evolution for Everyone: How Darwin's Theory Can Change the Way We Think About Our Lives
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Evolution for Everyone: How Darwin's Theory Can Change the Way We Think About Our Lives

3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  644 Ratings  ·  66 Reviews
What is the biological reason for gossip?
For laughter? For the creation of art?
Why do dogs have curly tails?
What can microbes tell us about morality?

These and many other questions are tackled by renowned evolutionist David Sloan Wilson in this witty and groundbreaking new book. With stories that entertain as much as they inform, Wilson outlines the basic principles of evol
Paperback, 400 pages
Published December 26th 2007 by Delta (first published 2007)
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Dec 02, 2008 Teresa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone!
Shelves: scienceisfun
This book is packed full of so much information - from why dogs have floppy ears to why some people become homicidal, all approached from an evolutionary perspective. Wilson shows us that a better understanding of evolution leads us to a better understanding of every aspect of our daily lives and social interactions. His goal is to prove that science isn't something accessible only to an elite few, but instead is an exciting and rewarding field that can easily be understood by anyone. Furthermor ...more
Shawn Smith
"Evolution for Everyone" includes a fine enough and simple description of natural selection early in the book, but it becomes increasingly laden with ideology after the first few chapters. The author clearly has a socio-political point that he's trying to advance, which would be fine if he had openly disclosed that. As is, the title and description of the book are quite misleading. He should have titled it something like "How the Theory of Natural Selection Can Be Used to Advance My Ideology." H ...more
Seth Wilpan
Sep 18, 2007 Seth Wilpan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Evolution provides a framework for thinking about all aspects of the human condition. A significant teaching for me is the distinction between the proximate and ultimate cause of an adaptive change. The proximate cause is an immediate response to something in the environment that turns out to be useful for survival. Kids may gather to play because it's fun (the proximate cause), but it makes them safer to be in a group, so the behavior is reinforced (the ultimate cause).

It was surprising to find
Ami Iida
various thoughts of theory evolution.
I reference their thoughts very well.
Sep 21, 2011 Nelson rated it it was ok
I have rarely read a book more grievously mistitled. This isn't evolution for everyone. It isn't even evolution for fellow travelers otherwise well-disposed to the claims of science as explanatory for much of life. This is evolution for the very small set of people who think exactly like DSW, which is to say, those who believe with something akin to religious fervor that the theory of evolution explains literally everything. The theory may in fact do that; it would take a far more careful and se ...more
Sep 14, 2011 Naum rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How discovered/stumbled upon? Twitter (@dkorten) recommendation from author David Korten…

What media type? Read on my Kindle, but to my chagrin, noted that it is also available on the shelf of the local library down the street!

What is the book about? Evolution, not so much in hard core science sense, although there are some chapters devoted to such experiments, but jargon is toned down for a universal audience, and appeal is made that evolution should be broadly applied, and not just confined to
May 28, 2008 Dia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was quickly won over by this excitable biologist's presentation of evolutionary theory, mainly because of the fascinating studies he describes (though I'm not sure that they necessarily support the conclusions he wants them to support) and his cheerful, sometimes even dorky, but certainly humble, story of his own development as a scientist. His special take on the meaning of evolutionary theory for us humans at this time is interesting and perhaps heartening but not all that convincing. (He th ...more
David Bond
Jun 10, 2013 David Bond rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read a lot of darwin books, this one was really unique, took a look at the evolutionary origins of laughter and other weird things.
Vishnu Parupati
I am bit bored with initial chapters. But the later chapters are very interesting. I somehow manage to finish this book with good ease to connect dots from evolution to religion.
Doug Robinson
Feb 17, 2017 Doug Robinson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very accessible read on Evolutionary thought.
May 20, 2013 Erik rated it did not like it
Shelves: socio-biology
Many interesting research examples and a wide array of topics are discussed in this book to give an overview of how wide ranging and useful evolutionary principles are to humans and society. Unfortunately I was very disappointed with how one sided many of the topics where presented.

Wilson claims that because a relation can be seen between economic inequality and crime all you have to do is eliminate economic differences and you will not see substantial differences in crime between groups or popu
Oct 18, 2007 Steve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am writing this review while I am approximately halfway through Evolution for Everyone.

Dr. Wilson has written an extremely compelling book about evolution. There are two aspects I find especially endearing:

1) Wilson does not use the standard, now-hackneyed strategy of writing a book on evolution that simply breaks up chapters into such topics as "why do we laugh?", "why do we blush?" "how is a bee colony an organism in its own right?" Instead, he begins with an overview of how evolutionary t
İskender Öksüz
Feb 16, 2017 İskender Öksüz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Evolution as it affected everything not only in the distant past but also in the recent past and today. For example a discussion of how our million years' heritage makes us obese today. The title is misleading, the book is not Darwin 101 but at the Scientific American level with some autobiography added.
Sarah Messick-Milone
I was facinated by the discussion of individuals acting as collective organisms (particularly the discussion of bees) and I found the discussion of cancer in terms of selfish cells intersting as well. One of the most interesting arguments of the book is that humanity's chief adaptation is cooperation, and that we operate like a collective organism. The author presents intersting evidence supporting the fact that our eyes evolved differently from chimps to aid this adaptation and various other ex ...more
Oct 03, 2013 Alex rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed-books
The author writes well and that makes "Evolution for Everyone" a pleasure to read whether you agree with the subject matter or not. Even though "chapter one" is really a preface. He can be forgiven.

The author points out the various ways evolution has shaped how we have learned to think. While the author is in love with Darwinism he doesn't let fanaticism get in the way of a good presentation.

I especially liked (and he proved to me) that people of the Middle Ages thought in a radically differen
Shea Mastison
This is a good book that explains the essential, and beneficial nature of applying the theory of evolution to every branch of the sciences. Not only that, but it also explains how evolution applies to the "softer" sciences; like sociology and psychology.

This book has one considerable flaw, in my opinion. The author goes through considerable trouble and rather tedious gymnastic-style contortions to give religion a seal of approval. "Nevermind facts," he seems to say, "religion has been evolution
Manta Rui
Mar 09, 2015 Manta Rui rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very revolutionary and ambitious and audacious attempt at trying to bridge the very old chasm between the social sciences/humanities and the 'hard' sciences. Yet Wilson is far from your standard arrogant scientific rationalist of the Dawkins school. He argues for an open, intelligent consideration of evolution in all aspects of our lives, including in religion.

In stark contrast to the fiery (and highly entertaining) expositions of Dawkins, Wilson approaches religion and a whole slew of related
Jurij Fedorov
If anyone has a hard time understanding why evolution is important for understanding Homo sapiens I would recommend them this book. It is easy to read and very entertaining. I have read a lot about evolutionary psychology before this book but I still learned a lot from it. Read it - there is something very special about it. It has a personal but still very academical style. David Sloan Wilson just immortalized himself with this book as an expert on evolutionary psychology.

Cons: As you already kn
Sep 29, 2013 Maiken rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
beware of the claims made in this book. they are not necessarily true although dsw does a great job trying to convince you otherwise. dsw is way too enthusiastic and one-sided in his use of evolutionary theory and natural selection as explanatory tool for human behavior etc. his thinking is biased and many of his cases could have other explanations. the argumentation and scientific discussion is simply not thorough enough. i think he fails as an objective, conscientious and humble scientist. as ...more
Bookmarks Magazine

Evolution for Everyone is David Sloan Wilson's fifth book on the subject (including Darwin's Cathedral and The Literary Animal) and the most reader-friendly. Critics favorably compare the effort to Steven J. Levitt's and Stephen J. Dubner's runaway best seller Freakonomics. They claim that Wilson, professor of biology and anthropology at Britain's Binghamton University, does for evolution what those two authors did for economics__that is, draw interesting and unexpected connections between musty

Oct 17, 2014 Claire rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
This book is full of "common sense" insights, which when once pointed out with numerous scientific principals and empirical data to support the view, are made impossible to ignore. For me one of the most striking insights was the idea that the evolution of man, as pertaining to social / cultural development, is towards egalitarianism. Apparently the human ability to cooperate with each other appears to be the catalysis for this most hopeful state of human existence. Imagine, equality for all hum ...more
Jul 13, 2011 Sherrie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
His writing style is to me chaotic and haphazard. I do not like how he says one thing and later says "I must revise what I previously said"...He stops a train of thought mid-chapter and says "I'll get to that in a future chapter or I'll return to that later".
The first half of the book was very hard to get through and even want to finish. I've read Diamond, Boyer, and other scientists' books but this was harder due to his style. But by the last part it was much better. Chapter 27 was the most int
it was ok, but it took me forever to read so whenever he kept referring back to little stories or chapters from before I had already forgotten what the hell he was talking about. .. some of the comparative stories were helpful in understanding where he was coming from, but I just felt like his ideas never really became fully formed. he was dancing around topics a lot. nevertheless, this book was a jumping point for many new perspectives for me and I thank Wilson for writing it. maybe I'll read i ...more
An absolutely fantastic book great for anyone interested in evolution. I'm particularly interested in the evolution of cooperative behavior, and this book is the best explanation I've seen. Though I enjoy reading Dawkins, his selfish gene hypothesis has given too much support to those who believe that people are driven only by self interest. Wilson has a far more sophisticated analysis with enormous implications for the design of economic systems that will be able to confront the biophysical cri ...more
Wilson write an accessible story of his efforts to expand the application of evolutionary theory in a multitude of useful applications across the entire spectrum of academia. I applaud his effort. William Meller is persuing the same efforts in medicine. Their efforts contain value beyond anyone's imagination.

These days D. S. Wilson spends too much time chasing the dubious rabbit-trails of group selection and lamenting the failure of biologists to study Evolutionary Religions Studies (ERS).
Keith Parrish
Jun 22, 2011 Keith Parrish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wilson raises some interesting points about the nature of evolution and goes beyond the standard biological aspect. He examines how human behavior and tendencies, including controversial subjects like humor, morality, altruism, and yes religion, have a basis in evolutionary science. While i don't know that I agree with all his conclusions, it does provide food for thought.
I did find his tone to be rather self-congratulatory, self-serving and even a tad self-righteous. He also does a good bit of
Jul 02, 2010 Chrissy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
I don't know how this book ended up on my to-read list and where I got the recommendation from, but simply shaking my head (and let me get one thing straight--I have mercilessly pursued the sciences since like the 8th grade and am obviously extremely fascinated by the process of evolution). The first half of this book is interesting because it reads like a shallow animal behavior 101 course, but I wasn't buying the rest of what Dr. Wilson was selling. And not to be a complete asshole, but I just ...more
Hanje Richards
Although David Sloan Wilson tries to make this book accessible to non-scientists, there were parts of the book that were over my head.

The parts that I was able to wrap my head around were interesting, and I certainly found it worth powering through, as I often do with science books that are just slightly above my level.

This is another time where I wish half stars were available. I would certainly give this 3.5 stars, but probably due to my own limitations, I don't think I can give it 4 stars.
Jan 09, 2010 Richard marked it as partially-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: have-owned
I was struck by the non-atomicity of organisms - how a single human's immune system, senses, emotions, reasoning ability, etc. overlap in space and time, but evolved piece-by-piece and capability-by-capability rather than being a top-down design with consciousness in control. Moreover, our life functions are integrated with processes that extend beyond our bodies. My "wow" was realizing the correlation between these overlapping life functions and the concepts of trans-human psychology and vital ...more
John Pedersen
Jan 12, 2013 John Pedersen rated it did not like it
Should be called "I've Got an Axe to Grind and a Pedantic Superior Attitude and I'm Going to Foist Them on You Until You Surrender". I'm a big fan of evolutionary theory, but very much not a fan, I've discovered, of David Sloan Wilson. I read the first six chapters, but the rubbing-the-wrong-way started immediately. I skipped around a little, and just gave up. It takes a lot for me to not finish a book, but this book had plenty of that.
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David Sloan Wilson has been a professor of evolutionary biology at Binghamton University for more than twenty years. He has written three academic books on evolution, authored hundreds of papers, some with E.O. Wilson, and his first book for a general audience was Evolution for Everyone: How Darwin's Theory Can Change the Way We Think.
More about David Sloan Wilson...

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