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Biology popular science books

  1. Nov 24, 2005 #1
    [SOLVED] biology popular science books

    I just finished reading Behe's Darwin's Black Box and what I really dug about the book was how it went in depth into the biological functions of things and was a really technical book(for the layman anyways). What I'm looking for now is the other side of the argument, but most evolutionary books I've seen seem to not have not been written by biologist and seemed to use more metaphore than anything. I'm gaining a big interest in biology these days, and I dont really belong to any particlar "side" of the argument, I'm just interested in what both sides have to say to make up my own mind. Anyone have any good recommendations for books?


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  3. Nov 24, 2005 #2


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    Well, if you're into reading about evolution, reading Darwin's On the Origin of Species is of course THE book to read. Keep in mind that evolutionary biology has come a long way since then, and the theory has really been refined quite a bit, but it's good to really know the original writings on it to appreciate how it has "evolved." (sorry about the pun :redface:)

    Another interesting book is Richard Dawkin's The Selfish Gene.

    Keep in mind that books are necessarily oversimplified for the general public. The journal articles presenting the active research in the field are filled with technical terms that would be very difficult for a non-scientist to understand without stopping to look up every third word. Trying to "translate" these technical writings to a more accessible language does lose meaning and leads to ambiguities that don't really exist in the scientific literature, as well as makes other things sound more certain than they are in the scientific literature. So, as long as you keep in mind that you'll never get the whole story from popular science books, they certainly are a good place to begin learning.
  4. Nov 24, 2005 #3
    Thanks for the reply!

    I was plannnig either Selfish Gene or Blind Watchmaker... any preference?

    I'm also in the middle of doing some calculus and phyics correspondance courses before I go to university, I think I might just pick up a biology textbook as well and get into that too. :smile:
  5. Nov 24, 2005 #4
    Just to add.... does anyone recommend any books on trees or plants, I'm looking for something on how tree's grow and the biology behind tree's and plants.
  6. Nov 29, 2005 #5


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    I wouldn't recommend Darwin's book for a first dive into evolutionary biology. The writing is 19th century scholar style (thick & slow to the point). Dawkin's book is a good start...Selfish Gene or Blind Watchmaker should be ok. Kenneth Miller's book Finding Darwin's God has some interesting rebuttles to Behe's book, but that book also gets into some non-biology (religious) speculation (Miller is a Catholic as well as an evolutionary biologist). Carl Zimmer's book Evolution is a good introduction....history and theory. And of course there are a score of books by Stephen J. Gould which are thorough and accessible to the layperson...not sure which one to start with though (Panda's Thumb? Burgess Shale? any recommendations?)
  7. Dec 8, 2005 #6
    cool, thanks a lot everyone. appreciate it. but im also looking for a book on the biology of plants and trees. I've heard lots of lil interesting tidbits about how tree's grow, and how they work internally and I cant seem to find any books that delve into this further, any suggestions?
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