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How Science Works: Evolution

By: R John Ellis


Paperback | Nov 2009 | #182227 | ISBN-13: 9789048131822
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NHBS Price: £31.99 $39/€36 approx

About this book

This book answers many fundamental questions concerning evolutionary biology.

From the reviews: " I have just read through your book. It is admirably clear, and very accurate about evolution. It should convince any unbiased reader of the fact that there is overwhelming evidence for evolution, and that Darwinian natural selection is the major cause of evolutionary change." (Professor Brian Charlesworth F.R.S., Institute of Evolutionary Biology, University of Edinburgh) " Your students are lucky indeed. This is the clearest, most comprehensive and accessible compact account of science that I have seen. I was amazed by your clarity of thought and your comprehension of many subjects that come from diverse areas of science, philosophy, and history. You have really avoided almost all the pitfalls that even the most experienced scholars fall into at times. Really a wonderful treatment." (Professor Kevin Padian, Department of Integrative Biology & Museum of Palaeontology, University of California at Berkeley) " I would make this book required reading for all students entering University science courses". (Dr. Robert Old, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Warwick) " Many authors, such as Dawkins, Dennett and Grayling, have discussed at length various aspects of religion and its conflict with the logic of science. In this excellent book, John Ellis ignores the moral and societal aspects of the science/religion argument and instead concentrates on exploring the way science works, and the way it doesn't, in the context of biological evolution. It clearly sets out the fundamental principles of science and how they differ from a simple deference to authority, the basis of all religions. It then examines in detail the Darwinian framework for evolution by natural selection, and the numerous lines of evidence that, independently, overwhelmingly support the theory. This is, quite simply, the best and most easily understood presentation of the arguments I have ever read." (Dr. Geoff Oxford, Department of Biology, University of York) " I have just had the very enjoyable and instructive experience of reading your 'How Science Works', and think that it is exactly the kind of thing that should be sent to every school and indeed every school pupil, not to say every university student too, in the country. I hope it is! and write to applaud its clarity and organisation, and the way it grips attention from the opening words." (Professor Anthony Grayling, School of Philosophy, Birkbeck College, London) "I read your manuscript with interest, and thought it was a clear and precise introduction to evolution." (Professor Steve Jones, Department of Genetics University College London) "Ellis (emer., Univ. of Warwick, UK) ! provides an excellent treatment of science in general and evolution in particular. His thesis ! can be understood by most readers, even those without a background in science. His masterful treatment of evolution includes carefully selected illustrations and discussions of historical aspects. ! serve as a teaching resource, which it is, but it is also an excellent introductory reference for most audiences. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through researchers/faculty, two-year technical program students, and general readers." (F. W. Yow, Choice, Vol. 47 (11), August, 2010)


AcknowledgementsPreface: The Importance of ScienceIntroduction: The Aim of This BookPart I: Two Ways of Explaining the World- Supernaturalism and Naturalism- The Incompatibility of Science and Religion- Further Reading ListPart II: How Science Works- Nullius in Verba- Occam's Razor- Religious Belief amongst Leading Scientists- Uncertainty- The Importance of Defining Terms- Facts, Theories and Hypotheses- Science and Religion Compared- The Naturalistic Origins of Moral Values - Further Reading ListPart III: Darwin's Theory of Evolution- Biodiversity- Adaptation- Possible Explanations for Biodiversity & Adaptation- The Early Life of Charles Darwin- Evolution by Natural Selection- Direct Observation of Natural Selection in Finches- Historical Context of the Idea of Natural Selection- Common Misconceptions about Natural Selection- Genetic Drift- Further Reading ListPart IV: The Evidence for Evolution- Similarities at the Molecular Level- The Unity of Biochemistry- The Principles of Molecular Biology- The Tree of Life- Lateral Gene Transfer- The Origin of Eukaryotes- Similarities at the Anatomical Level- Direct Observation- Transitional Fossils- Logical Inference- Hierarchical Classification- Biogeography- Vestigial Structures - Further Reading ListPart V: The Evolution of Eyes- One of Darwin's Difficulties- Light-Detection Structures- Plausible Evolutionary Possibilities- Genetic Control of Eye Formation- Further Reading ListConcluding RemarksDefinitions Suggestions for Discussion Topics

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Professor R John Ellis FRS is an Emeritus Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, University of Warwick, UK

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