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161. Euler : The Master of Us All (Dolciani
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162. Number : The Language of Science,
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163. Conducting Research Literature
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164. Design of Experiments: Statistical
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165. Technology in World Civilization:
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166. Catastrophe: An Investigation
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167. The Origin of Consciousness in
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168. A Devil's Chaplain : Reflections
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169. The Design Revolution: Answering
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170. The Evolution of Useful Things:
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171. The Hunt for Zero Point:Inside
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172. Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The
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173. Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience
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174. America's Hundred Thousand: U.S.
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175. Ecological Methodology (2nd Edition)
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176. The Turning Point : Science, Society,
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177. Nursing, the Finest Art: An Illustrated
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178. Evolution : The Remarkable History
179. We Have Never Been Modern
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180. Stalking the Riemann Hypothesis

161. Euler : The Master of Us All (Dolciani Mathematical Expositions)
list price: $33.95
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Asin: 0883853280
Catlog: Book (1999-01-01)
Publisher: The Mathematical Association of America
Sales Rank: 93566
Average Customer Review: 4.91 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Leonhard Euler was one of the most prolific mathematicians that have ever lived. This book examines the huge scope of mathematical areas explored and developed by Euler, which includes number theory, combinatorics, geometry, complex variables and many more. The information known to Euler over 300 years ago is discussed, and many of his advances are reconstructed. Readers will be left in no doubt about the brilliance and pervasive influence of Euler's work. ... Read more

Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars So much fun it makes you chuckle
I don't have much to add to the excellent reviews above, except to say that if you like clear exposition of sometimes obscure mathematical themes, like logarithms of imaginary numbers, or the almost magical Euler line, you can't do better than read Professor Dunham's books. And when you mix this talent with a subject such as the incredibly clever and curious Leonhard Euler, you can't help but be carried away. I literally found myself chuckling with awe at some of the amazing leaps of intuition this 18th-century mathematician was able to make, even as he was losing his sight and fathering 13 children! I've always been an admirer of Euler's, and Prof. Dunham's wonderful little book only increased my admiration -for both.

I hope Prof. Dunham will decide to write a sequel, and/or tackle the work of other prolific mathematicians, like the Indian Srinivasa Ramanujan, another one of my heroes.

This is the third book by Prof. Dunham I've read. I have enjoyed them all and keep them handy to lift my spirits when I'm down -they're that much fun. I wish I'd had him as a teacher in college, and I envy his students at Muhlendorf. I just hope they appreciate how lucky they are!

5-0 out of 5 stars A little gem.
I had never read any of William Dunham's many books before. Now I want to read them all. In a scant 173 pages he describes in great detail how Leonhard Euler, arguably the greatest mathematician ever, solved the most difficult mathematical problems of his day.

The style in this book is both unusual and clever. Each of the eight chapters covers a different branch of mathematics and each begins with a prologue, then follows with some of Euler's contributions, and finishes with an epilogue. The prologues present the history of mathematics up to Euler's time, so the reader gets a feel of what this great mathematician had to work with. And the epilogues tell where we have come since Euler.

This book is full of equations and expects some work (but not much mathematical background) from the reader. If you like mathematics or ever wondered how some of the great discoveries in this field were derived, do yourself a favor and buy, then carefully read, this wonderful book.

4-0 out of 5 stars Nice book for readers with a background in math
I really enjoyed reading this book that describes some background on Euler and his work. It is written in an informal style, so for people with a math background it reads like a novel.

The book is not suitable for people who want to learn more about the person Euler, but do not have a math background, because 75% of the book is about real math (equations). So if you don't enjoy reading equations, do not buy the book.

Summary: as enjoyable as the other Dunham books, although a bit more expensive (but still worth the money).

5-0 out of 5 stars William Dunham has done it again!
With the publication of this, his third book, Dunham has once more shown himself to be a master himself of mathematical explanation. Unlike his previous two books, The Mathematical Universe and Journey Through Genius, which covered results by a variety of mathematicians, this book focuses on selected results that sprang from the remarkable mind of Leonard Euler, one of the most prolific and important mathematicians of all time. What sets Euler apart is not only the vast quantity of his output (the publication of his collected works, the Opera Omnia, spans six dozen volumes, or over 25,000 pages in all!), but also the breadth and originality of his work. Not only did Euler contribute to a wide array of mathematical fields -- from number theory to complex analysis to geometry -- but in many cases, he was the founder of those fields. For example, Euler invented the field of analytical number theory, and he was the first mathematician to recognize the importance of and to discover the important properties of complex numbers.

This book in many ways resembles Dunham's Journey Through Genius. As in that book, Dunham has selected 15 or so theorems to present in detail, and he makes an effort to keep the proofs similar in spirit to the original proofs. Although the proofs are complete and the book is full of equations, they are accessible to anyone with a high school level of mathematics education. But in addition to the proofs, Dunham also provides historical context, as well as commentary on how later mathematicians used and improved upon Euler's work. For example, we learn that Euler began to loose the sight in his right eye at the age of 32, and that despite his virtual blindness by the age of 65, he continued his prolific rate of output until his death at age 84.

The book's title is taken from a quote by Laplace, who said, ``Read Euler, read Euler. He is the master of us all.'' Indeed, if you have any interest in mathematics, you will almost certainly find yourself in complete agreement with Laplace's sentiments by the time you finish reading this wonderful book. ...

5-0 out of 5 stars " Euler, the anlysis incarnate "!!!!
" Analysis incarnate " , no other more suitable words probably can describe the incomparable power of Euler, as his contemparies called him. Concerning the usual style of Dunham to write this stimulating book, other readers have made many comments and I think there is no need to repeat that. What I want is that Dunham to write another book, perhaps volume 2,3 etc and also write a thorough biography of Euler, one the greatest mathematicians in the history. ( To me, for mathematical ability, his should be at the same rank with Newton, Archaemedes, and Gauss, even Einstein concerning the mathematical and theroetical aspect, is below par compared with Euler ) ... Read more

162. Number : The Language of Science, The Masterpiece Science Edition
by Tobias Dantzig, Joseph Mazur, Barry Mazur
list price: $23.95
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Asin: 0131856278
Catlog: Book (2005-03-10)
Publisher: Pi Press
Sales Rank: 46197
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Download Description

"""It is the aim of this book to...present the evolution of number as the profoundly human story which it is.""

¿Tobias Dantzig

""This is beyond doubt the most interesting book on the evolution of mathematics which has ever fallen into my hands. If people know how to treasure the truly good, this book will attain a lasting place in the literature of the world. The evolution of mathematical thought from the earliest times to the latest constructions is presented here with admirable consistency and originality and in a wonderfully lively style.""

¿Albert Einstein

""Tobias Dantzig's Number: The Language of Science is one of the truly great classics of mathematical exposition, perhaps the most lucid history of the number concept ever written. Its republication should be a cause for celebration by every scientifically minded person, regardless of his or her mathematical background.""

¿Eli Maor, author of e: The Story of a Number and To Infinity and Beyond

""Tobias Dantzig's Number is a classic. A fascinating account of the evolution of mathematics, it deserves a place on the bookshelf of anyone who is interested in the history of thought.""

¿Charles Seife, author of Zero and Alpha and Omega

""A classic! Anyone interested in the history of numbers and mathematics should read this book.""

¿Mario Livio, author of The Golden Ratio

From the rudimentary mathematical abilities of prehistoric man to the counterintuitive and bizarre ideas at the edges of modern math, this masterpiece of science writing tells the story of mathematics through the history of its most central concept: number.

Dantzig succeeds in his aim to reveal a human story, and in making that story accessible to the non-expert. In his friendly and welcoming style, he shows how math developed from basic faculties present in us all, beginning with our ""number sense""¿the ability to discern that an object has been added to or removed from a small collection of objects without counting. The subsequent evolution of the concept of number is inextricably linked with the history of human culture, as Dantzig demonstrates. He shows how advances in math were spurred by the demands of growing commerce in the ancient world; how the pure speculation of philosophers and religious mystics contributed to our understanding of numbers; how the exchange of ideas between cultures in times of war and imperial conquest fueled advances in knowledge; and, ultimately, how the forces of history combine with human intuition to trigger revolutions in thought.

Sweeping in scope, Number is an open doorway into the world of math. Dantzig explains the foundations of mathematics with ease, and eloquently explores deeper philosophical questions that arise along the way. He describes the properties of all kinds of numbers¿integers, primes, irrationals, transcendentals, and more. He explains the significance of zero, and shows that its invention had revolutionary consequences for arithmetic. He shows how the invention of symbols for use in algebra¿a radical departure from tradition at the time¿ushered in a new era of math; how arithmetic and geometry reflect each other; and how calculus uses infinity to model the continuity of space and time.

With a new afterword, notes section, and bibliography written by math professor and author Joseph Mazur, and a new foreword by mathematician Barry Mazur, the Masterpiece Science edition of Number¿which was first published in 1930¿is the first update of Dantzig's classic work in over fifty years. It is a story that ranges from the dawn of man to the genius of history's greatest mathematicians, vividly revealing how the pursuit of knowledge transcends the rise and fall of civilizations." ... Read more

163. Conducting Research Literature Reviews : From Paper to the Internet
by Arlene Fink
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Asin: 0761909052
Catlog: Book (1998-04-21)
Publisher: SAGE Publications
Sales Rank: 72688
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

How can an individual identify and make sense of the voluminous amount of currently available information on nearly every important topic in education, health, social welfare, psychology, and business? What criteria can be used to distinguish between good and poor studies? Conducting Research Literature Reviews shows readers how to identify, interpret, and analyze published and unpublished research literature. Through the use of checklists, case examples, and exercises, author Arlene Fink unravels the intricacies of: selecting questions to maximize the efficiency of the review; identifying subject headings and key words for electronic searches; identifying the most appropriate databases; including supplementing computer and Web-based searches; identifying and dealing with unpublished studies; setting inclusion and exclusion criteria; justifying methods for reviewing only the `highest quality' literature; preparing a structured literature abstraction form; ensuring the reliability and validity of the review; synthesizing and reporting results; conducting and evaluating descriptive literature reviews; and, how to understand and evaluate the principles of meta-analysis.

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Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Readable guide
This is a readable guide to executing a large-scale literature review, with special attention to the issues of doing a quantitative synthesis. It is written for people in the health professions rather than scholars, so the latter may find the treatment a bit light. ... Read more

164. Design of Experiments: Statistical Principles of Research Design and Analysis
by Robert O. Kuehl
list price: $119.95
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Asin: 0534368344
Catlog: Book (1999-08-13)
Publisher: Duxbury Press
Sales Rank: 159442
Average Customer Review: 3 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Robert Kuehl's DESIGN OF EXPERIMENTS, Second Edition, prepares students to design and analyze experiments that will help them succeed in the real world. Kuehl uses a large array of real data sets from a broad spectrum of scientific and technological fields. This approach provides realistic settings for conducting actual research projects. Next, he emphasizes the importance of developing a treatment design based on a research hypothesis as an initial step, then developing an experimental or observational study design that facilitates efficient data collection. In addition to a consistent focus on research design, Kuehl offers an interpretation for each analysis. ... Read more

Reviews (1)

3-0 out of 5 stars Statistics text for people who understand statistics
Kuehl covers a lot of statistical designs, and provides great examples and practice problems. However, the book is not "user friendly" even for student who have had several semesters coursework in regression analysis. Also, the author tends to change his notation from chapter to chapter without telling the reader, thus creating great confusion. For example "r" or "k" could signify replicate. Some sections are poorly organized. ... Read more

165. Technology in World Civilization: A Thousand-Year History
by Arnold Pacey
list price: $20.00
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Asin: 0262660725
Catlog: Book (1991-07-01)
Publisher: The MIT Press
Sales Rank: 177080
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In this very different book, Arnold Pacey takes a global view, placing the development of technology squarely in a "world civilization." ... Read more

Reviews (3)

3-0 out of 5 stars Hello! What about the S. American potato plant!?
The book's a great resource if you're a Marco Polo fan BUT..

Doesn't he know that the Industrial Revolution was caused by the POTATO PLANT which was cultivated by the Aymara Indians in present-day Peru?
The potato plant allowed European wheat-grinding mills to be converted to textile mills and a mere 300 years later, Europe had nuclear reactors.

The Ancient Greeks had the steam engine! Heron of Alexandria called his invention an "aeolopile". But Pacey didn't explain why Ancient Greece had no Industrial Revolution.

Pacey is a physicist. Maybe he knows if the Ancient Greeks had an Industrial Revolution in some Parallel Universe.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Good Overall Review
Arnold Pacey has written a fine examination of the development of technology throughout the world. He does not limit himself to one area of the world ( a common failing of many Eurocentrists), nor does he go overboard in praising the accomplishments of one area at the expense of others ( something many Asiaphiles tend to do).

Pacey concentrates on the last thousand years or so. He covers the numerous accomplishments of Asia and highlights the important role played by the Mongols in linking the world. He also spends some fascinating time in the Americas, which tend to get short shrift from many historians, and draws some interesting parallels between the various "gunpowder empires" and industrial movements. The writing is clear and always interesting, with many nice drawings and diagrams.

4-0 out of 5 stars Technology in World Civilization
Pacey's thesis is that technology spreads through dialogue between cultures. There are three different types of technological diffusion: when one culture simply gives another culture a technology, when one culture gives another the basic idea and the latter improves upon it, and when technology is imposed upon another culture. A good example of the first type of diffusion is when the Chinese empire came into contact with the Europeans they exchanged goods as well as information that lead to the use of gunpowder and looms in Europe. The second; when the Turks taught the Europeans how to make guns and the Europeans developed an even more powerful cannon that made it back to the Turks. And finally, the plantation farming techniques were imposed on the Africans during the colonial era, even when they thoroughly depleted the soil and required fertilizer and pesticides. The AP World History theme best reflected in Technology in World Civilization is the impact of technology and demography on people and the environment. There are hundreds of examples of this theme in Technology in World Civilization so I will list the three best ones. When the gun was invented after the Chinese spread the word about gunpowder, 'gunpowder empires' began to form. The Ottoman Empire is the best example as it was built around the gun. The Ottoman Army was one of the first to fully embrace the firearm into its tactics and even trained special units called Janissaries that were trained from an early age in the ways of firearms. Another critical invention was the printing press in China. The Chinese had an incredible hunger for books and loved to read and learn. The printing press allowed the book to be accessed by many more people than ever before. The final invention that changed life more than anything else was the steam engine. At first only used to pump water out of coalmines because of its incredible inefficiency, it evolved into the force that powered factories, trains, and blast furnaces. Not only did the steam engine make it possible to produce textiles hundreds of times faster than before it united the world. Within 100 years since the popularization of the steam locomotive, tens of thousands of miles of track had been laid and nearly the entire world was accessible by rail. Pacey's thesis seems very sound based on everything he's written in Technology in World Civilization, which makes sense since he wrote the book to defend his thesis. Not having read any other books about the subject matter, I'm not the best person to attack or defend his thesis, but I will choose to defend it because I see no other logical way technology could be transferred. It could be possible that technology was brought over by middlemen who bought and sold information, however it seems that that is a relatively new concept and it didn't occur the pre-modern peoples that information is worth money. The cause and effect examples that support Pacey's thesis are very clear. If one civilization never imposed technology upon another than there wouldn't have been plantations in Africa and the indigenous peoples would still be 'multistory farming'. If technology never spread through dialogue, than the Turks would be ruling the world with their superior weaponry that no nation could come close to. Pacey also has a wide variety of examples from all different cultures and eras that support his thesis. In order to prove technology is spread through dialogue, he starts by using the spread of the loom and gunpowder as examples and then moves through history all the way through the train and how it quickly spread through the entire world. Pacey's sources are very varied and never contradict each other. All the books listed in the bibliography are for specific sources and he consulted a separate book for every area of specific interest as well as several more general sources including two of his previous books. He documented every source perfectly and had a wide cross section of author nationalities as well and publishers guaranteeing that his information couldn't be biased. He also had many illustrations and a few sources that were originally from the time period or based on originals. There are few periods in time were it is excruciatingly difficult to find works of the period and many historians write books to fill in the gaps, which are referenced in Technology in World Civilization. In conclusion, Technology in World Civilization is a good read a well as a very informative book on the spread of technology. The only thing it lacked was the pre-historical spread of technology, which I hoped to learn more about. Pacey's thesis is very sound and he provide plenty of evidence to back it up as well as many maps, tables, and drawings. Every fact is documented and he has an impressive list of sources on his bibliography, from the most obscure Studies in Primitive Looms to the very broad Printing and Paper Pacey covered every subject in his book with the utmost detail. Technology in World Civilization delivers not only a lesson in World History, but also an entertaining read. ... Read more

166. Catastrophe: An Investigation into the Origins of Modern Civilization
list price: $25.00
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Asin: 0345408764
Catlog: Book (2000-02-01)
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Sales Rank: 181467
Average Customer Review: 3.84 out of 5 stars
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Everybody knows the Dark Ages weren't really dark, right?Not so fast, counters archaeological journalist David Keys, maybe it's more than just a slightly judgmental metaphor.His book Catastrophe: An Investigation into the Origins of the Modern World, based on years of careful research spanning five continents, argues that sometime in A.D. 535, a worldwide disaster struck and uprooted nearly every culture then extant. Given contemporary reports of the sun being blotted out or weakened for nearly a year and a half, followed by famine, drought, and plague, it's hard not to think that so many reports from all over the world must be related.

Keys shows a keen grasp of both the written historical record from Asia, Africa, and Europe and the archaeological evidence from the Americas, and tells many tales of great havoc destroying old empires and laying the ground for new ones.Rome may have fallen, but Spain, England, and France rose in its place, while farther east, Japan and China each unified and gained strength after the chaos.Could an enormous volcanic eruption have had such influence on the world as a whole, and could the same thing happen tomorrow?Catastrophe makes no predictions, but leaves the reader with a new sense of history, nature, and destiny. --Rob Lightner ... Read more

Reviews (45)

4-0 out of 5 stars How Forces of Nature Shape Human History
"Catastrophe" refers to a mid-6th century climactic cataclysm that author David Keys believes destroyed the geopolitical status quo of late antiquity and gave birth to the protomodern era from which our current world circumstances derived. According to the hypothesis put forward in "Catastrophe", around the year 535 AD there occurred a major atmospheric disturbance that blocked out much of the Earth's sunlight all over the globe. Tree ring and ice-core evidence, as well as archeological and contemporary written accounts indicate that there was, indeed, severe climactic disruption at this time, and that it almost certainly was the result of a tremendous volcanic explosion. In "Catastrophe", David Keys describes the ways in which he believes the famine, drought and plague that resulted from this explosive event directly and indirectly led to the downfall of the contemporary political powers and the emergence of the new political entities and forces which shaped the world we live in today. As every continent was affected by the loss of sunlight, Keys hypothesizes that the fall of the Roman Empire, the emergence of Islam and the Arab and Ottoman Empires, the reshaping of Eastern Europe, the creation of the modern nations of Japan, China, and Korea in the East and the European powers in the West, the collapse of the great Mesoamerican Empire of Teotihuacan and the emergence of the Mayans, among other great shifts in power, were all indirect results of the climactic changes unleashed in 535 AD.

I find it unlikely that all of the developments that David Keys attributes to the "catastrophe" would not have occurred otherwise. While the direct consequences of a single event are predictable and substantiable, the indirect consequences of something are, of course, impossible to know for sure as there are other factors involved. How many of the developments which occurred in the centuries following the eruption of 535 AD would not have occurred, or would have occurred at a different time, or would have occurred by different means, if the climactic catastrophe had not set change in motion is impossible to say. But David Keys' point is well taken: "Forces of nature and other mechanisms" beyond human control have played -and may continue to play- a fundamental role in human history, culture, and achievements. "Catastrophe" reintroduces the concept of determinism to the discussion of human history, which has been unfashionable for a while now and is due for reconsideration by the academic community. Keys also gives the reader a nice overview of the transition from the order of late antiquity to that of protomodern nations all over the globe, which is interesting and informative regardless of what may have instigated the changes.

4-0 out of 5 stars A New Explanation for the 535AD Catastrophe
That the Earth suffered catastrophic weather conditions starting around 535AD and lasting for many years thereafter, is becoming a scientifically accepted "fact." As explained in "Catastrophe: a Quest for the Origins of the Modern World," these conditions weakened the Eastern Roman Empire; created horrendous living conditions in the western part of Great Britain that were remembered and later incorporated into the Arthurian legend; contributed through drought in the America's to the fall of the Teotihuacan civilization in Mexico; and through flooding to the collapse of a major center of civilization in Yemen.

Almost wherever in the world that there was significant use of writing in the 6th century AD, from Constantinople to China, references to this catastrophe have shown up in contemporary documents. Many such documents are cited in this book. In the 20th century, the occurrence of the catastrophe and its worldwide impact has been confirmed by the analysis of ice-cores from Greenland and Antarctica and by the study of annual growth rings in wood from across the world that can be safely dated to the 6th century.

The author of "Catastrophe," David Keys, has a theory about the event - or closely related events - that caused of this catastrophe. I found his theory plausible and frightening. Plausible because of the way he lays out his facts, and frightening because there appears to be no reason such dramatic and devastating events could not happen occur again - in the next thousand years or in the next ten years.

Mr. Keys is an excellent writer. He certainly makes this book fully accessible to the non-scientist. He also is apparently quite well informed about both the historic and archeological record from around the world during the 6th century and for a long time afterwards. In fact, most of his book consists of plausible - usually directly climate related - explanations for all kinds of civilization collapses, barbarian migrations, and shifts in economic and political power in different parts of the world following the "event" of 535AD. These explanations are fascinating, and, as just mentioned, always plausible. On the other hand, I doubt that they can all be right, and wished that author had given a little more credit to happenstance and the decisions of individuals in shaping the "origins of the modern world."

5-0 out of 5 stars Rethinking the Dark Ages and the Origins of the Modern World
"Catastrophe" rocketed to fame as a result of a PBS series which devoted two one hour episodes to its thesis: that an eruption of what was probably a monstrous earlier version of the volcano Krakatoa created weather disruptions and tidal phenomena which wiped out many Classical civilizations, brought on LITERAL "dark ages" in many societies, and helped to create the Medieval world and lay the foundations of the modern.

The Keys theory is so widely accepted now (just five years after the publication of the book) because it is not only backed by masses of contemporary documentary evidence, but also because it explains, better than any other theory, the global decline of civilization in the 6th Century of the Common Era. In mathematical terms, it is "elegant." It is a latter-day Occam's Razor cutting through generations of theories based upon individual cultures or isolated events to show that they could all have at their heart a single event which triggered, as the title says, global "Catastrophe." (Definitely with a capital "C"!)

Keys uses Chinese records to show that a loud bang was heard over hundreds of square miles around 535, and that this was followed by a fall of yellow ash. Other records, from Japan and parts of modern Indonesia, support this occurence. Keys, after weighing and rejecting alternative theories, suggests that only a massive volcanic eruption could be the culprit for the event recorded by the Chinese, and shows, decade by decade, using historical records, dendrochronological (tree ring) records, ice samples, and other measurements, that what happened was no ordinary eruption, but possibly the largest volcanic eruption in history, which darkened skies around the world, creating a "volcanic winter" which brought famine and plague in its wake. Amazingly, he does it in plain, easy-to-read language, a hallmark of historiographic greatness.

Keys documents major climatic disruptions and uses established scientific models to project the impact of these changes on people as diverse as the Central Asian Avar and Turkish horse nomads, East African herdsmen, South American fishermen, and Anglo-Saxon and Britannic farmers in the modern British Isles. His conclusion is stunning: the eruption triggered waves of nomadic migrations which helped to bring about the decline of the recently revived Byzantine empire (which was well on its way to reconquering much of the old Roman Empire), destroyed flourishing urban cultures in the Americas, ruined the powerful Southern Arabian kingdoms which had existed for centuries (thus creating the power vacuum later filled by Mohammad's follwers), and also wrought devastation remembered in Arthurian romances.

One of the crucial contributions which Keys has made is an explanation of the otherwise unexplainable irruption of the bubonic plague out of Africa and into the Byzantine and Indian worlds. The plague -- which spread as far as Britain and permanently ended any chance that an independent Celtic Church would be established, separate from Rome -- killed millions of then and former Romaions (inhabitants of the original Roman Empire) and blasted any hopes of re-establishing the Empire, relegating it instead into an ever-dwindling Greek-centered Eastern Empire, subject to nomadic incursions from Arabia and central Asia.

In the Americas, Teotihuacan and Tikal alike suffered from near-simultaneous climatic disruption which ended their civilizations -- contemporaneously with the decline of the great cities of the Classical Eurasian world. Only the Keys Catastrophe theory explains BOTH phenomena -- the end of urban cultures in the Americas AND in Africa-Eurasia.

In east Asia, Keys blames the super-eruption for the famines whch led to the revolt of Hou Jing, which ended southern Chinese independence and led ultimately to the establishment of the Sui Dynasty and the near-continuous unification of China as a single cultural entity since then. In 535, the very year which Keys gives for the eruption, the Korean state of Silla, probably faced with climatic turmoil and famine as bad as China's, abandoned its pagan past and adopted Buddhism, laying the groundwork for the unification of THAT country, too. Again, no other theory provides a unified explanation for the near-simultaneous events.

The Keys theory is not without its weaknesses. I have particular doubts about the Indonesian chronicles which he utilizes, but which, if authentic, indicate that the Sunda Strait is a relatively modern phenomenon, and, until 535-536, Java and Sumatra formed a super-island, dominated by an unfortuante civlization (called Holotan by the Chinese). If the records Keys uses are correct, Holotan was destroyed (along with much of the island) by the super-eruption, putting it alongside Thera as a major cultural center destroyed by a single volcano. Undeniably, however, major changes took place in Southeast Asia after 535, including the establishment of Proto-Cambodia and Proto-Thailand only one generation later, along with other, more diffuse civilizations, presumably filling the gap left by the vanished Holotan.

The Keys theory will likely be subject to much criticism in the years ahead, and further refinements, but it is already so well-established as a convenient explanation for the catastrophic events of the Sixth Century C.E. that anyone who wants to understand histories of the period being written nowadays simply MUST be familiar with "Catastrophe."

I give "Catastrophe" Five Stars, the highest rating, for its historiographic significance, ease of reading, and current impact on historical thinking.

5-0 out of 5 stars A fascinating historical detective story
Recent years have seen the publication of several books offering radical new explanations of ancient events or presenting sweeping revisionist theories of history. Examples include Noah's Flood, Eden in the East, Voyages of the Pyramid Builders, and 1421: The Year China Discovered America.

Catastrophe is one of the best of these. Archaeological writer David Keys has assembled multiple arguments supporting his theory that a major natural disaster around the year 535 altered the world's climate for years, causing famine and plague and triggering the collapse of existing political systems. He gives us brief but well-written summaries of events that sprang from this catastrophe, including the rise of Islam. According to Keys, this event ended an old world and gave birth to a new one whose patterns we still see today. After a process of elimination, Keys proposes that the cause of this disaster was a volcano in what is now the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra. He warns that natural catastrophes in the future could change the world we know. Even if you don't agree with his conclusion, you will learn much from his reviews of historical events. This is fascinating stuff, and highly readable.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not Catastrophic....But a Little Suspect in Places
Catastrophe, by David Keys, is an effort to attribute several significant changes in history that occurred in or near the 6th Centuary AD to drastic global weather changes, and to attribute those changes to a volcanic eruption. Keys ammasses an enormous amount of evidence to support these attributions, enough by itself to make the work impressive. However, on the whole his trail of evidence is a bit suspect.

Keys offers ample convincing evidence that the 6th century AD saw startling changes in weather. In doing so, he presents data from literally around the globe; moreover, his various sources of information seem to corroborate one another. This represents the most solid part of his argument, although he didn't tell us if he omitted evidence that didn't support his conclusions. From here, Keys proceeds to suggest what affects this weather pattern may have had on the world.

Some of these suggestions are more believable than others. His attribution of plague outbreaks to the weather patterns seems reasonable. Similarly a discussion of impacts on the Roman Empire is well argued and somewhat supported. From there, though, Keys trots about the globe presenting marginal evidence that most of the major events of the 6th Century (and some thereafter) are directly attributable to this weather pattern. In doing so, Keys includes a lot of marginal evidence and reaches for some causal relationships that are probably a lot more complicated than his book suggests. In particular, I found his version of events in the Middle East, Europe and China not so well supported.

I was a little bothered by the language and evidence of some of these chapters. Frequently, Keys uses phrases such as "almost certainly" to describe a cause-and-effect relationship, without providing any real supporting evidence. In one place, his endnote to such a comment simply repeats the "almost certainly" phrase without offering any additional information or citing a source. I think this fact really weakens the credibility of his work.

As he moves toward the end, Keys tries to pinpoint the source of the weather patterns. Toward this end, he nominates the eruption of a volcano in Java. However, in doing so, he needs to significantly re-interpret Javan historical accounts based on second and third hand sources. And while there's some limited basis for doing so, the connection is, from my point of view, far from a slam-dunk. It's easy to see that Keys left this section for the end because it's the least supported part of his chain of argument and potentially unravels the whole thesis.

On the whole, the book is an impressive projection of a lot of focused research. Sadly a lot of the evidence presented is weak in supporting Keys premise. In the end, it's easy for the reader to see that some, perhaps even a lot, of the things that Keys suggests caused major historical changes are credible. Still, a lot aren't. I give the book three stars for pulling together and presenting this information, which is in itself an impressive feat. Keys is not convincing in telling us that a volcanic eruption in 535 AD rewrote most of human history from that point on, however. Other than that, the book is interesting and fairly readable, and worth the time to take a look. ... Read more

167. The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind
by Julian Jaynes, JulianJaynes
list price: $18.00
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Asin: 0618057072
Catlog: Book (2000-08-15)
Publisher: Mariner Books
Sales Rank: 15999
Average Customer Review: 4.53 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

At the heart of this classic, seminal book is Julian Jaynes's still-controversial thesis that human consciousness did not begin far back in animal evolution but instead is a learned process that came about only three thousand years ago and is still developing. The implications of this revolutionary scientific paradigm extend into virtually every aspect of our psychology, our history and culture, our religion -- and indeed our future. ... Read more

Reviews (102)

4-0 out of 5 stars Probably wrong, but thought-provoking
I read this book about 20 years ago, and it still stands out in my mind as a very interesting theory. I initially believed it, but then developed doubts.
It would be very hard to find a clear test of the theory, but some of my suspicions are based on theories of why humans evolved intelligence. The arguments in Geoffrey Miller's The Mating Mind suggest pressures that would have caused consciousness to be used as soon as the brain developed the capacity for it. But Jaynes' theory seems to require that genes needed to support consciousness spread around the world without being used for that purpose.
What I like most about the book is the way it shakes up the common assumption that we can understand the mind by a combination of introspection and casually observing people around us (i.e. by folk psychology). Jaynes doesn't do this as well as Dennett in Consciousness Explained, but he comes close.

5-0 out of 5 stars An extraordinary, challenging, enduring idea.
An extraordinary, challenging, enduring idea lies at the core of this book: an idea that encompasses and seeks to explicate the birth of consciousness, and thus the origin and evolution of civilisations. An evolution which, from this book's remarkable perspective, is still taking place now, and whose trail the reader can trace as clearly through recent centuries as the author delineates it in ancient cultures. The trail of consciousness.
Jaynes is quite possibly a maverick. He is, however, intellectually rigorous, painstaking, and honest. There is no sense that the reader is being lured into crackpot theory - this is no von Daniken potboiler. It's no easy read, believe me: and yet, Jaynes always provides the reader with clear, sure ground on which to proceed.
This book is, and should be regarded as, one of the 20th century's major works of psycho-archaeology, a true landmark and turning point in how humans understand themselves. It throws down many challenges to our elemental cultural and psychological assumptions. And it confronts, as bravely and as stimulatingly as any single thesis since Freud's idea of the subconscious, the biggest questions of all in our secular epoch: who are we? And what is our consciousness?
Questions that, as you will find out in discussion having read it, most people would rather leave well alone.

1-0 out of 5 stars Critical Thinkers, BEWARE!
This book is disturbingly ill-reasoned tripe. Do NOT listen to the positive reviews that have been granted this work, as they ignore the fundamental problems that are endemic in this work. Jaynes bases his thesis on some of the poorest and most circumstantial evidence I have ever come across in my years as a psychological researcher. He succumbs to many pitfalls in his search for the root of human consciousness, including the subtle adherence to Cartesian Dualism. In other words, he is basing his book on the idea that there is a homunculus in our brains that guides our actions (or in this case, guided the 'hallucinations'). This idea is as reasonable as their being a little man in our television sets that orders the programming.

I believe that many of the positive reviews are a product of Jaynes' alluring writing style. He is quite capable with his word usage, but part of the trick he employs is miring his concepts in jargon in order to pull a fast one over discerning readers. The words sure are pretty, but they signify nothing. This is the kind of book that can successfully implant literally hundreds of false notions and poor scientific concepts in your mind without your recognition, on account of the level of his prose.

For a radically different and faaaaaaar more reasonable view of human consciousness, read Dennett's Consciousness Explained. While I have yet to discover the PERFECT book on consciousness, Consciousness Explained is a great start in the right direction towards a valid way to look at the issues.

5-0 out of 5 stars Intriguing
First of all the book was copyrighted in 1976 and apparently first published in 1982. That is eons ago in the science of cognition and brain imaging. So I would like to know how the past 2 and a half decades have affected the theories in this book.

I also note that the author taught at Princeton University (he died in 1997), so his theories ought to have received a hearing. But apparently the follow-up book he intended was never published, and he was considered somewhat of a maverick, if not quite a crackpot. This website offers some perspective:

His theory, in simplest terms, is that until about 3000 years ago, all of humankind basically heard voices. The voices were actually coming from the other side of the brain, but because the two hemispheres were not in communication the way they are now for most of us, the voices seemed to be coming from outside. The seemed, in fact, to be coming from God or the gods.

So far, so good. That is certainly imaginable to most of us, because we know that schizophrenics and some others still hear voices in apparently this manner today.

But he also posits that many sophisticated civilizations were created by men and women who were all directed by these godlike voices. What is not very clearly explained (a serious gap in his theory) is how all the voices in these "bicameral civilizations," as he calls them, worked in harmony. But his theory is that ancient Greece, Babylon, Assyria, Egpyt, and less ancient but similar Mayan and Incan kingdoms were all built by people who were not "conscious" in our modern sense.

When one hears voices, whether then or now, the voices tend to be commanding and directive, and the need to obey them compelling. Free will is not possible. And so the people who built the pyramids were not self-aware as we are, did not feel self-pity, did not make plans, but simply obeyed the voices, which somehow were in agreement that the thing must be done.

Again, when he mentions that hypnosis may be triggering a reversion to a similar kind of consciousness, in which a voice, somehow channeled through the sub-conscious rather than the reasoning part of the brain, has an unusual compelling quality to it, and enables a person to do things that in their conscious analytic mind they are unable to do, we feel that we do have a glimmer that such a state of being is possible.

Of course, he connects these ideas to schizophrenia, seeing that as a throw-back to an earlier kind of mind-state, though now socially unacceptable and also unacceptable to its victim, who retains a remembrance of what it was to have control of his or her own mind.

He also sees prophets as remnants of the older mind, still able to hear the voices after most people had lost the ability. And he sees idol worship and modern religious behavior as both signs of a longing for the lost certainty and simplicity of a world in which decisions didn't have to be made, and all were of one accord as to what the gods wanted done.

I don't see much evidence for the pastoral simplicity which he thinks the bicameral mind lived in. But I do think that it is possible that not only ancient people but even many modern people have mind-experiences that are very different from our individualistic, introspective, self-determined ideas. In fact, I think relatively few human beings question and ponder and change belief systems as we might. The feeling of being adrift in a world that we can't understand, struggling with questions about everything, is far from universal, I think.

It is pertinent that he calls the shift from bicameral (two houses) to modern consciousness a "breakdown." He sees the shift as happening in response to crises and threats in the environment, but he doesn't present it as necessarily positive, and certainly not as pleasant to those living in its shadow. He sees the cries of the Jews and many other people for God to "rend the heavens and come down," to "not forsake them," as cried from people who no longer hear the "voices" that seemed to be the gods, and who desperately miss them.

In view of individuals such as Mother Teresa, who at one point had a clear inner sense of being directed by God (not necessarily actual auditory voices) and then lost that sense of presence and had to walk blindly thereafter (or silently would be a better metaphor), perhaps we would agree that the experience of the gods or God going silent not only happened at large in human history but is often recapitulated in individuals' personal history as well.

If Jaynes is on to something (and I think he is, though I think he may have pushed his "theory of everything" too far and lost scientific credibility), his theory does help us understand why there is a widespread belief that in Biblical times, God interacted with people in a very different way than He does now. The Bible, and other holy books as well, are remnants of a time when human beings own inner sense of right and wrong, clean and unclean, enemy and neighbor, were experienced as coming from outside of them, from disembodied voices that commanded great power. As the mind (or brain) developed, this split healed (or this mind broke down?) and this knowing become a still small voice in many people, and in others a resounding silence.

The question remains: should we take the reductionist view, and look at all religious ideas as merely misunderstandings based on schizophrenic-like delusions and hallucinations? Or should we take the view that God, who in times past spoke to us in fire and plague and audible voices (and later in dreams and visions) has now become one with humanity and speaks to us in the silence of our own hearts?

A fascinating book, raising as many questions as it answers, but well worth the reading.

5-0 out of 5 stars breathtaking
I have just recently re-read Jaynes' book after reading it when it was first published. Though one's reading interests tend to change wildly over so long a period, I was surprised to find that the thesis of the book is still as compelling to me now as it was decades ago. This is an astonishingly creative, cross-disciplinary tour-de-force and the best book of its type that I have ever read.

The book is basically an elegant and meticulously detailed theory about the historical appearance in humans of what we call consciousness. The tough sledding referred to by many of the other reviewers, I think, is in his explication of what precisely consciousness IS, and how that differs from our common misconceptions about it. This part, admittedly, is no page- turner: I had to stop and think frequently just to make sense of what he was saying and trying to relate that to my own experience.

But the definitional foundation pays off as Jaynes places the origin of human consciousness into the historical timeline, and starts applying it to the ancient literature of the Old Testament and the Iliad, and to several curiosities in idols observed throughout the prehistoric world. This is the portion of the book that I found breathtaking. In particular, reading the Old Testament has a resonance for me that it never had before. As a modern skeptic, many of these stories were difficult for me to think about: there seemed to be no middle ground between thinking of the stories as cultural fabrications or else having to confront the odd hypothesis that they are records of a completely implausible reality. Now the stories are revealing in ways that I never would have imagined.

I do wonder if the intervening years have been kind to Jaynes' suppositions on the mechanics of the mind - especially his reliance on the (historically recent) emergence of bicamerality. If he is ultimately proved wrong in this respect, I think it doesn't detract at all from his central intellectual achievement. Because if the ultimate test for any theory is that it should explain the most phenomena in the simplest way, Jaynes' theory is a towering one. By simply asking us to accept a few counter-intuitive principles on the nature of our own minds, he provides a beautifully simply paradigm for some of the most intriguing oddities that hover around the dawn of our literature, religions, and cultural historical record. ... Read more

168. A Devil's Chaplain : Reflections on Hope, Lies, Science, and Love
by Richard Dawkins
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
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Asin: 0618485392
Catlog: Book (2004-10-27)
Publisher: Mariner Books
Sales Rank: 3094
Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The first collection of essays from renowned scientist and best-selling author Richard Dawkins is an enthusiastic declaration, a testament to the power of rigorous scientific examination to reveal the wonders of the world. In these essays Dawkins revisits the meme, the unit of cultural information that he named and wrote about in his groundbreaking work The Selfish Gene. Here also are moving tributes to friends and colleagues, including a eulogy for novelist Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; correspondence with the evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould; and visits with the famed paleoanthropologists Richard and Maeve Leakey at their African wildlife preserve. The collection ends with a vivid note to Dawkins's ten-year-old daughter, reminding her to remain curious, to ask questions, and to live the examined life. ... Read more

Reviews (30)

5-0 out of 5 stars Darwin's Dangerous Disciple strikes again!
To some, Richard Dawkins is threatening. His phrases pry open shut minds. His words bend and flex rigid thinking. His ideas trash dearly held dogmas. And, of course, he idolizes The Devil's Chaplain - Charles Darwin [the title is from a letter of Darwin's]. He performs all these feats with a graceful style - one which anyone writing science should study. This collection is comprised of letters, book reviews and even eulogies - an unusual vehicle for espousing the cause of rational thinking. If much of his writing seems intense, it's because he recognizes his role in waging an uphill battle against "established truths", no matter how false they prove. To show the validity of truth over myth requires a direct approach.

Dawkins recognizes that people abhor being called animals. The continuity of life, one of the major themes in this collection, remains an indisputable fact, he stresses. This series reinforces Dawkins' attempts to make us aware that we are part of Nature. He is always witty, using his sound scientific basis and rationale to keep us informed. Science, in his view, must not be eroded by baseless tradition nor false dogmas. The goal of living, he argues, is the understanding of life itself. Religion and philosophy have failed abysmally, the realm of science should be given its opportunity. It's a broad view, sustained by an ability to grasp it firmly. Better yet, for us, it's presented here with verve and dedication.

Segregated into [lucky!] seven sections, each addressing a general theme. He covers many topics in this anthology - evolution, of course, but medicine, genetically modified foods [many foods are hybrids resulting from genetic manipulation], jury trials, intellectual heresies, and even government policies are included. The arrangement presents no difficulty - in fact, each offering might be chosen at random without losing any impact. Selecting a favourite is an arduous task [although it promotes re-reading] but the review of Sokal and Bricmont's "Fashionable Nonsense" ranks very high. The review demonstrates Dawkins' many talents, from insight to incisiveness. Few essayists provide the imagery he can attain to explain an idea.

There are those, particularly adherents of the idea that science lacks morality, who see scientists as cold and distant. Dawkins shows how false this idea is with his laudatory comments on John Diamond, Douglas Adams and William Hamilton. He even extends an olive branch to his academic opponent, the late Stephen J. Gould. As fellow evolutionists, Dawkins and Gould forged a rapport against the rants and duplicities of the Christian creationists. It requires a broad mind to take such steps, and narrowness isn't among Dawkins' blemishes. He's a feeling human being and a tireless campaigner. We would all do well to heed and emulate him. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]

4-0 out of 5 stars A response to middle America
I'd just like to briefly respond to the "reader from middle America" who I feel is over-reacting a little to Dawkins' book.

Dawkins' main target is not what I'd call 'traditional theists', but that group of what's usually labelled "fundamentalists" who are trying to suppress science teaching and replace it with their bogus "creation science".

I know plenty of intelligent people who believe in a God. I don't know any that believe in the literal "created in six days" word of the bible or who think a belief in evolution is absolutely antithetical to religious belief.

The majority of denominations - and thus Christians - don't subscribe to the fundamentalist view (don't take my word for it, do a quick search). In fact most explicitly disavow a literal reading of Genesis. So it's entirely wrong for "middle America" to speak of creationism as a "majority" belief.

Dawkins does take a fairly militant stance. Although I share his views, I initially felt he was being a bit hard on those he disagrees with. However when I read of people seeking to have creationism ranked as "science" in schools at the exclusion of real science I think he's right to get stuck into them.

Dawkin's target isn't "middle America" or the majority of believers for whom belief in God and science can coexist. His target is what we call in Australia "the loudmouth ratbag fringe" who want to foist their view on others. And he's got me on side.

Incidentally, his broadside at postmodernism is just as much fun to read as his views on 'creation science'.

5-0 out of 5 stars Evolution is the art of the developable
This selection of Richard Dawkins' essays is an absolute delight and a clear-cut illustration of the author's strong anti-tradition, anti-authority and anti-revelation opinions.
It deals with very important problems like the real nature of natural selection, its cruelty and blindness to suffering.
The author's life goal is nothing less than a combat with the cosmic progress and its clumsy, blundering waste, and that with one of the products of evolution itself: our brain.
Crucial is his war of words with the late S.J. Gould about the question if evolution is progressive. No, for Gould. Yes, for Dawkins. For the latter, progress cannot be defined in terms of complexity (Gould), but rather by the accumulation of features contributing to adaptation. I believe now that Dawkins is right.
Other very important issues are his battle with the creationists, his lucid pro-opinion on genetically modified food, his brilliant refutation of genetic determinism via the blueprint/recipe distinction or his necessary virulent anti-religious viewpoint (religion is a virus of the mind and the most inflammatory enemy-libelled device in history).
I have only a few remarks.
Richard Dawkins writes that 'Every time we use contraception we demonstrate that brains can thwart Darwinian designs'.
But, ceteris paribus, the outcome here is a certain defeat. The genes of those who use contraception will be overrun by those who don't. Contraception is itself a component of the Darwinian design.
In his essay 'What is true', he misses some important points.
As Tarski said, truth = accordance with the facts or processes.
Popper's importance was mainly the refutation of inductivism and its demand for infinite corroborations. As long as a theory has not been falsified we can continue to work with it. Popper's proposition constitutes a progress and time gain of lightyears for science as a whole. Also testing remains the cornerstone of scientific research.
Presenting Popper as a truth-heckler seems to me a little overdone, when we don't know 90% of the matter in the universe, perhaps 1 % of the existing virusses; when 'I' doesn't exist (V. Ramachandran) or when 'is' is an illusion (L. Smolin). As Popper said, the more we know, the more we see how little we know.
Richard Dawkins' essays are thought-provoking analyses and comments, written by a splendid humanist and a superb free mind.
This book is a must for all those interested in the fate of mankind.

Dawkins is a well known biologist whose "The Selfish Gene" revolutionized the way we think (or ought to think) about evolution.

In this book, he puts together a collection of essays which, in the essence, is a guidebook to non-scientists to debunking pseudo-science. He does so in a variety of ways:
1. He demonstrates how complex physics concepts are used in literature to seem more scientific.
2. He shows how creationists seek legitimacy in the public eye with scientific sounding ideas like "intelligent design" and others which are nothing more than pseudo-science. He also offers ideas on how to deal with them.
3. He points out, in an open letter to his daughter, how to know what is truth and what isn't, what are good and bad reasons to believe something.
4. He recommends a number of follow up readings in his book reviews. These are mainly on Stephen Jay Gould and Peter Medawar, two other famed biologists who write for the general public.

The essence of the book is reflected, I believe, in the last essay, in which he makes the point that evidence is the only way to truth and knowledge, and the basis of science. He shows that evidence is a better reason to believe something than its three foes: authority, revelation and tradition.

I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for intelligent arguments and thoughts on a wide variety of subjects, all related to science, its importance and its usage (or lack thereof) in society.

4-0 out of 5 stars In Defense of the Scientific Method
If you only read one book by Professor Richard Dawkins, I recommend The Selfish Gene. That book is a remarkable tour de force covering the latest thinking about how evolution really works by taking into account our understanding of genetic qualities in reinforcing the evolutionary struggle of the survival of the fittest.

By contrast, A Devil's Chaplain is a book that will appeal primarily to people who have read several books by Professor Dawkins and would like to know more about him as a person and his views outside of neo-Darwinism.

If you have not read anything by Professor Dawkins, I recommend you skip this book unless you have a thorough understanding of the latest evolutionary theories. Much of the book won't make sense to you otherwise.

A Devil's Chaplain is a series of essays (some published before and some not), laments, eulogies and a letter to his daughter. From these materials, you can learn more about how Professor Dawkins sees his colleagues, those who oppose evolutionary teachings, postmodernists, and his personal views on religious beliefs and "alternative" medicine. Much of what he says will not surprise you. As a scientist, he favors the scientific method and is rationally skeptical of anything that cannot be proven by this method. He is also annoyed by a society that grants prominent opportunities to share views that are not proven by scientific methods. As a result, he is also an atheist . . . but one who draws great joy from considering the world around him and the methods by which it has been created.

Many people think of atheists as gloomy people, or people without much emotion. Professor Dawkins is neither. His loving descriptions of relations with his colleagues, rivals and mentors show just the opposite. His concern for using scientific methods is obviously also based on a desire to help people live better lives.

Catholics may find the book a little annoying in that Professor Dawkins likes to challenge some of the "faith"-based beliefs that that religion espouses.

As I finished the book, I found that I was most attracted to the advanced speculations that Professor Dawkins used in his book that speak directly to evolutionary studies. I especially recommend the essay, "Son of Moore's Law," where he describes the timing of when individual genomes will be economically affordable and how that will influence health and medical treatments. I was also drawn to the essays that describe his optimistic belief that we can escape our evolutionary heritage and evolve into people who produce the best possible future for all.

There's much food for thought here. I doubt if any religious believers will be undone by his arguments. I also doubt that he will convert any people who believe in the literal creation as described in the Bible to change their views.

Ultimately, I was left wondering how other prominent scientists bridge the gap between their scientific methods and having a rich religious life.

I graded the book down one star because the editor presumes the reader has a little too much familiarity with the leading lines of thought about evolution. The book could have used more footnotes to explain the background of the points Professor Dawkins is making for those of us who are not evolutionary biologists . . . but simply like to read books about the subject. ... Read more

169. The Design Revolution: Answering the Toughest Questions About Intelligent Design
by William A. Dembski, Charles W. Colson
list price: $22.00
our price: $14.96
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Asin: 0830823751
Catlog: Book (2004-01-01)
Publisher: Inter Varsity Press
Sales Rank: 15066
Average Customer Review: 3.62 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (13)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Very Good Read; An Outstanding Resource
This book is written for a general audience, and provides an interesting and informative read about the scientific theory of intelligent design (ID) and its importance to our understanding of biological systems in nature. The format is particularly interesting, as it is divided neatly into forty-four short question-and-answer sections. As a result, there is some overlap of content, but the repetition helps to reinforce key concepts and arguments without becoming redundant.

Section two is quite interesting, for it is in the chapters contained therein that Dembski succinctly discusses the concept of a design inference, describes his explanatory filter for design, and deals with the related issues those concepts have given rise to. Particularly noteworthy is the section that follows (section three), which deals with information. I personally find issues pertaining to information-including its characteristics, generation and maintenance-to be downright fascinating. Expect several chapters of intriguing reading here.

Section six is worth special mention because it contains important discussion about the promise of ID and what it will take for ID to become a fruitful program of scientific research. ID has some cultural and institutional barriers to overcome, but contains some intriguing possibilities that have only begun to be explored.

As a non-scientist who is nonetheless familiar with most of the published literature in the contemporary Darwin vs. design debate, I found sections one and six particularly useful. (In the interest of disclosure I should point out that I am an attorney who works with the Discovery Institute's Center for Science & Culture.) ID is frequently comes under scrutiny through the use of simplistic arguments that are really nothing more than the stuff of ad hominems, straw men, red herrings, genetic fallacies, etc. Dembski ably deals with these kinds of fallacious arguments while simultaneously building a strong, positive case for ID.

It is all too often the case that skeptics of ID never bother to read the materials of ID proponents, instead relying upon the glosses of other ID skeptics. Should skeptics of ID wish to take their debate to a higher level of sophistication and nuance, they would do well to read this book before launching into their attacks.

Persons who are interested in ID and its possibilities for explaining the information-rich, complex structures in biological systems will find this to be a useful resource. I recommend reading it through once and then keeping it as a handy reference for ID-related issues.

This engaging book is highly recommended to anyone who is interested in ID and the Darwin vs. design debate.

5-0 out of 5 stars There is something going on here...
I believe this will end up being an important book in the ID movement...but not because it offers any new insights or ID defenses. It doesn't. It also doesn't necessarily discredit naturalistic processes. What this book does is thoroughly catalogs the ID position and demonstrates the "reasonability" of the ID argument when compared to undirected "macro-adaptation" (neo-Darwinism, I guess) as an explanstion for the rise and diversification of life on Earth. "Thinking people" with doubts about naturalism fear not---you will WANT to be on this side of the debate after reading this book. The arguments are presented clearly and fairly---your world view will determine if an event is either "obvious" or "mind-numbingly improbable". I got the strong sense reading the book that Dembski feels ID (as a science...not a philosophy) needs a breakthru (decisive confirmation) in order to progress. This is a high-bar considering how little we really know about the universe (sort of like flatlanders trying to "prove" spheres exist)...but at least it's POSSIBLE (unlike neo-Darwinism which is utterly un-provable). Today I read that an ounce of dried DNA has the information storage capacity of 1 Trillion CDs. Now, a CD is pretty cool, and I'm glad that someone WAY smarter than me invented them. Yet the materialist happily acknowledges that "nature" has randomly produced a substance a mere fraction of the size of a CD with...ummm...a TRILLION times more processing capability. There is something going on here...

5-0 out of 5 stars Another fine Dembski offering
This book will be enjoyable and informative to anyone interested in the issue of intelligent design. Dembski covers a broad range of issues and objections related to his specialty in a question and answer format that makes it reasonably easy to follow, even for the lay reader.

One reviewer below apparently felt that Dembski did not cover all the territory he needed to. Can it be that this individual does not understand the significance of the information question that is the focus of Dembski's work? Perhaps he expected a greater focus on nuts-and-bolts biology? At any rate, since the reviewer seemed to accuse the author of intellectual cowardice, he should have been more specific about Dembski's alleged problem areas at least. In my opinion, this book does a fine job of confronting the toughest objections to design head on. Buy and enjoy!

1-0 out of 5 stars Thinly disguised Christian blather
All you need to know about this book is found in the name of the person who wrote the foreword, ex-Watergate scoundrel Chuck "I'd drive over my own grandmother" Colson, who "found" God in prison. Uh, what are his scientific credentials again?

1-0 out of 5 stars A.M.D.G.?
If you've got some set of EMOTIONS that you choose to call "believing in God" then more power to you. But don't go propping it up with a bunch of p*ss-poor "scientific" arguments. -- Hey I got an idea. Why don't you try reading the Bible and praying, instead of wasting your time on these so-called "apologetics" which only serve to make Christians look like idiots. ... Read more

170. The Evolution of Useful Things: How Everyday Artifacts-From Forks and Pins to Paper Clips and Zippers-Came to be as They are
list price: $13.95
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Asin: 0679740392
Catlog: Book (1994-02-01)
Publisher: Vintage
Average Customer Review: 3.17 out of 5 stars
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This surprising book may appear to be about the simple things of life--forks, paper clips, zippers--but in fact it is a far-flung historical adventure on the evolution of common culture. To trace the fork's history, Duke University professor of civil engineering Henry Petroski travels from prehistoric times to Texas barbecue to Cardinal Richelieu to England's Industrial Revolution to the American Civil War--and beyond. Each item described offers a cultural history lesson, plus there's plenty of engineering detail for those so inclined. ... Read more

Reviews (18)

4-0 out of 5 stars Good Tech History book
This is a scholarly look at the history of invention. Henry Petroski is a Professor of Civil Engineering at Duke and has written several books of this genre. The book is well written, has many footnotes, and an eight page bibliography. While the book is not technical per se, it would probably be most enjoyable by other engineers and fans of technological history.
The author tracks the engineering and development of several common devices of everyday life. Two that he spends a lot of time on are the fork and the paper clip. There are several full chapters examining issues such as the first historical records of use, patents, and the development of companies and industries as these items became incredibly popular. Other items receiving lesser treatment include wheelbarrows, tin cans, and McDonalds hamburger containers.
This book will give you an appreciation of the time frame that great inventions occupy. Most of the items discussed here are developed over several lifetimes, or at least several working lifetimes. This alone should be very instructive to anyone trying to get a feel for the history of invention. The histories given are very detailed with names, dates, addresses, patent numbers and drawings, and the economic data (manufacturing costs, prices, etc.). If you find intriguing the question of where and how did we get all of the modern devices that we use everyday, you will enjoy this book.

4-0 out of 5 stars An interesting look at the development of everyday objects
Things get improved because in their current form, they do not work properly. Henry Petroski's book, The Evolution of Useful Things, traces the development of objects in our everyday life, including detailed histories of the development of the staple, the zipper, silverware, and hand tools. The book is interesting, although Petroski does tend to shy away from offering a theory of development, and instead offers a conjectures about how things might have developed. He explains, but he does not offer a theory or an argument that explains everything. Overall, though, a goos book, well researched, well illustrated, and interesting on many levels.

4-0 out of 5 stars Form follows failure
This book is an extended essay about the process of invention. In it, Petroski takes the viewpoint that the form of manufactured items is the result of an evolutionary-like process. He stresses that for any specific item, the form it has is only an arbitrary choice from many possible solutions that the inventor could have come up with. And the driving force behind invention, according to Petroski is failure- -each change in form that an invention takes is the result of trying to address some failure in what was done previously.

Petroski introduces the book with an item that very aptly demonstrates his thesis: the fork. He details the history of the development of the fork, starting with the table manners of the Middle Ages, when people were in the habit of using knives to both spear bits of food and convey them to their mouths. But in order to chop off bits of food from larger pieces, it was handy to have a second knife to hold the larger piece steady. Of course, the second knife was also like to put a hole in the larger piece, and wasn't well adapted to holding things, not until someone had the brilliant idea of making a stabilizing knife with two prongs instead of one. Eventually, this stabilizing knife began to be used for conveying food to the mouth instead of just holding food steady while cutting, and it was found that four prongs were much better suited for this task than two. Each step of the way through the history of the fork, Petroski points out how when the implement of the time failed to accomplish its intended task satisfactorily, its form was modified, until the fork took its present customary form. At the same time, however, Petroski also stresses that the current form of the fork is only one possible solution to the food conveyance problem. He compares its development to that of chopsticks, which are equally well suited to the same task, but take a very different form.

Other objects given a detailed examination in this book include paper clips, zippers, and cans for food, as well as openers for cans. In this last topic, Petroski brings out the point that objects are often developed and brought into use long before their supporting technology is even conceived of. Although tin cans came into general use during the first half of the Nineteenth Century, it was to be another 50 years before the first can opener was finally developed. Until then, producers of canned foods expected their customers to open their cans by stabbing them with hammer and chisel and (miraculously) come back for more!

Overall, I found the book somewhat interesting, and certainly illuminating. While I agree that form does follow failure in many cases, I think that Petroski is too quick to dismiss aesthetic influences in the evolution of form. He notes that some forks in modern tableware sets have only 3 tines out of a desire to look different or special, even though they aren't as efficient at conveying food as 4-tined forks. But he dismisses this as being a minor factor, unimportant for the general evolution of the fork. Perhaps he is right in the case of forks, but there are a number of other items where fashion plays a larger role. High-heeled shoes, for instance, are certainly an evolutionary wrong-turn in foot attire, but not a dead end. Colored cars are wasteful in the mass production process, as Henry Ford was quick to point out, but he learned that color options are also a selling point. Indeed, many times a better solution for achieving a task can be invented, but then never brought to market because of economics. Or the form that finally does become standard is a less than optimal solution for the task, but cheaper to manufacture than a better one. Petroski points to tableware sets with over 200 individual items, each with a separate task. He argues that each item was developed in response to some perceived failure of another form at doing the stated task, and dismisses the idea that it was simply manufacturers trying to develop new things for consumers to buy so that they would have a complete set. Personally, I'm not so sure that the manufacturers really depended entirely on failure to develop the forms of their tableware. I find it easy to imagine an artist being asked to come up with some more fancy designs that could be created in silver so that customers would have more items to purchase. Perhaps some of these new silver utensils received their titles only after they were actually created and tested to see what they might be good at. In short, I think that economics may have a stronger influence on the form of things than Petroski seems willing to grant in this book. But in any case, the book is very well researched and documented. It is amply illustrated with black-and-white photos and drawings. The text itself flows smoothly and is quite clear for general and technical readers alike although it can be a bit dry at times.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Lucid Primer on Industrial Design for Everyday Folks
How does everyday discontent lead to material progres? Does form follow function? What are some common mistakes in patent writing? The Evolution of Everyday Objects, explores the hidden history of axes, spoons, paperclips, garbage bags,tin cans, and zippers for a general audience. Henry Petroski, a professor of industrial design at Duke University, also introduces unlikely heroes like Walter Hunt (the safety pin) Richard Drew (Scotch tape), and Jacob Rabinow (pick-proof lock) while celebrating the marvels of engineering and industrial design.
This lucid primer weaves a weird and wonderful tale of techincal evolution and expanding consumerism. Petroski argues that disappointment with available choices inspires inventors, engineers, and industrial designers to continually expand our consumer choices. Form, contrary to rumors, follows failure. Edison's edict seems more apt than ever.
Petroski focuses on the telling details behind both familiar success stories and the far more frequent failures of consumer objects and modern artifacts. Although this 288-page paperback lacks illustrations and might seem a bit repeative and/or simplistic to specialists, Petroski's book should appeal to aspiring inventors, engineering students, and curious readers seeking a better understanding of our modern consumer culture. You might even look at your cluttered desk, a crowded department store, and your crammed tool shed with more appreciation.

3-0 out of 5 stars A little dry, but worthwhile
Petroski's field is design, but his take on it is the history of design rather than the "science" of design as Donald Norman (of The Design of Everyday Things fame). Although their approach is different, the two men share some of the same insights into how and why objects are the way they were. But where Norman's philosophy is that an object can be designed to be "better," Petroski feels that an object will always be less than perfect. His theory, in part, is that because most objects have multiple purposes, the object can not perform any single task perfectly. This idea of the competition of purposes is best illustrated from the book by Petroski's examination of eating utensils. The perfect utensil would be one that could cut and lift food to the mouth for eating. But knifes that cut have difficulty in lifting, forks are almost useless with a soup, and a spoon doesn't cut well. By showing us the evolution of the flatware selection (which remains imperfect), Petroski gives weight to his theory.

But I'm not wholly convinced. Perhaps it's because I read Norman first that I want to defend him. I want to believe that objects can be bettered--an interface can be easier to use, etc. The difference between Norman and Petroski is also one of style. Norman's prose is almost light weight compared to the dense, multi-syllabic approach used by Petroski, and Norman wasn't afraid to use terms and ideas that were not in lay usage. It could be that Norman's short columnar structure breaks up the duty of trying to convey so much information that his is more readable prose. It could also be that Petroski likes the language of academia, even when it begins to obfuscate. From the design standpoint, both authors are worthwhile. It is important to see specific examples of real world solutions to design problems to come up with ideas for our own designs, be it a fork, a building, or software. ... Read more

171. The Hunt for Zero Point:Inside the Classified World of Antigravity Technology
by Nick Cook
list price: $14.95
our price: $10.17
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Asin: 0767906284
Catlog: Book (2003-08-12)
Publisher: Broadway
Sales Rank: 75849
Average Customer Review: 3.43 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

This riveting work of investigative reporting and history exposes classified government projects to build gravity-defying aircraft--which have an uncanny resemblance to flying saucers.

The atomic bomb was not the only project to occupy government scientists in the 1940s.Antigravity technology, originally spearheaded by scientists in Nazi Germany, was another high priority, one that still may be in effect today.Now for the first time, a reporter with an unprecedented access to key sources in the intelligence and military communities reveals suppressed evidence that tells the story of a quest for a discovery that could prove as powerful as the A-bomb.

The Hunt for Zero Point explores the scientific speculation that a "zero point" of gravity exists in the universe and can be replicated here on Earth.The pressure to be the first nation to harness gravity is immense, as it means having the ability to build military planes of unlimited speed and range, along with the most deadly weaponry the world has ever seen.The ideal shape for a gravity-defying vehicle happens to be a perfect disk, making antigravity tests a possible explanation for the numerous UFO sightings of the past 50 years.

Chronicling the origins of antigravity research in the world's most advanced research facility, which was operated by the Third Reich during World War II, The Hunt for Zero Point traces U.S. involvement in the project, beginning with the recruitment of former Nazi scientists after the war.Drawn from interviews with those involved with the research and who visited labs in Europe and the United States, The Hunt for Zero Point journeys to the heart of the twentieth century's most puzzling unexplained phenomena.
... Read more

Reviews (49)

4-0 out of 5 stars Very entertaining
If you enjoy "X Files", "Roswell", even "Star Trek" for the entertainment value (as I do) you will probably like this book. If you are a passionate believer, or disbeliever, you won't. In "The Hunt for Zero Point" Nick Cook has crafted a very readable, entertaining novel around a subject for which there is little hard evidence, historical or current. And in a field which is rife with conspiracy theories and theorists he manages to underplay this aspect - as a respectable journalist should.

My father-in-law turned me on to this book. He is a taciturn fellow; his comment to me was "there is not a lot here, but you might enjoy it." He was right on both counts, and my guess is he should know. He was an electrical engineer, drafted into the Army during WWII, worked for ARPA, was posted to Germany towards the end of hostilities to help "clean up" after the Wehrmacht, and then went back to DARPA until he retired as a full colonel. Perhaps unsurprisingly, both of his sons work for large defense contractors managing "confidential" engineering projects.

So, regarding that conspiracy theory stuff? Hey, humans hide things from each other - you aren't telling your friends that you dress up in a tutu, suck your thumb and cry while your spouse spanks you, are you? We have our reasons. Our governments have their reasons (security) and our industries do too (to protect revenue).

Imagine trillions of dollars invested in a world-wide infrastructure, millions of people directly employed and many millions more indirectly, large profits and tax revenue generated, and maybe even a belief in the manifest destiny of humankind to fully utilize the resources that God has provided. Along comes a technology that will render the infrastructure obsolete, put all those people out of work, and destroy the profits and tax revenue - overnight. What do you do? You sit on the new technology until the resources are depleted (or until the asteroid strike). That's not a conspiracy, that's just common sense.

Recommended. Buy this book, and enjoy it. Then get on the web and find out that maybe it is not all smoke after all.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great Read!
This book is great example of someone writing with a passion for searching for the truth. Well documented, the author takes us back to the early days of rocket development to search out if indeed we truly have man-made UFOs and the secret of anti-gravity.

How does one develop and exploit technology that can provide tunable "death rays," great anti-missile, anti-arty, anti-meteor defense, unlimited cheap energy, "flying saucer" spacetime travel, unlimited supplies of potable water, remediate nuclear pollution, enrich nuclear material, alter atomic structure, manipulate massenergy (i.e. increase or reduce gravitational/inertial mass, alter the weather, create seismic disturbances, "tractor beams," etc.), see through walls, and offer instantaneous, secure communications, among other things, but also provide a weapon that can sufficiently disrupt spacetime to destroy an entire planet? One needs a secret international, if not intra-galactic, extra-governmental military-industrial complex control group of some really stand-up guys. Or, let's at least hope they're "stand-up" since we don't exactly elect them. Let's also hope that all that power does not go to their heads! This book will help you understand a very small part of this story, namely what some of the sons of Adam figured out and built in massive underground complexes in Nazi-occupied Central Europe some six decades ago and how, with the help of the OSS at the fall of the Third Reich, a certain thoroughly evil genius for organization and intrigue named Hans Kammler, came west with the fruits of this technology after killing as many people who worked on it as possible. Think he might have taught us anything? If I have any fault with this book, it is that I could not help but suspect that the author, Nick Cook, editor of Janes Defence - Aviation, is not entirely the uninformed, naive, outside investigator that he protrays himself.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not what you'd think
"Antigravity" is too restrictive a subtitle. It implies the author is focusing on gravity. In fact, he focuses on a search for technology that allows flight based on principles other than chemistry and aerodynamics. He chronicles his hunt for clues to alternative technologies hinted at in the footnotes of recent history. These technologies are based upon unusual phenomena, observed and partly tamed but not understood. He believes that significant advances were made in WWII Germany and continue to be developed today in "black" government programs. There are many intriguing hints of the existence of this technology and its direction, but the description of theoretical possibilities such as "zero point energy" seem only uninformed speculation. The author is severely hampered by a lack of technical training or mindset. Yet, this is an interesting tale with lots of diverse threads woven into an intriguing picture.

5-0 out of 5 stars In and Out of the Shadows
In this shadowy world of antigravity, there is deliberate deception and false stories pointing to UFO's, and then ridiculing that possibility by others. People are whipped around by propaganda worthy of "1984". Nick Cook writes an excellent undercover book in The Hunt for Zero Point, but I am left wondering if he is participating in truth-telling, or deception, or both? It's well written, intriguing, and I cannot see any reason why anyone wouldn't like this book. the end, is it true? My opinion is that antigravity is a deep black program and a lot of UFO sightings are sightings of already flying disc craft of human origin. ... Read more

172. Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins Of The Internet
by Katie Hafner
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
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Asin: 0684832674
Catlog: Book (1998-01-21)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Sales Rank: 32179
Average Customer Review: 4.55 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Twenty five years ago, it didn't exist. Today, twenty million people worldwide are surfing the Net. Where Wizards Stay Up Late is the exciting story of the pioneers responsible for creating the most talked about, most influential, and most far-reaching communications breakthrough since the invention of the telephone.

In the 1960's, when computers where regarded as mere giant calculators, J.C.R. Licklider at MIT saw them as the ultimate communications devices. With Defense Department funds, he and a band of visionary computer whizzes began work on a nationwide, interlocking network of computers. Taking readers behind the scenes, Where Wizards Stay Up Late captures the hard work, genius, and happy accidents of their daring, stunningly successful venture. ... Read more

Reviews (47)

4-0 out of 5 stars Great intro. to the Internet,
I'm reading a series of technology-history books at the moment, this one, 'The Triumph of Ethernet' and 'how the Web was born'. This is definitely the place to start - a clear, fast paced tale of the various characters behind networked computers in late 1960's and 70's. Essentially this book describes the origin of human computer interfacing which became networking theory in the North East United States in the late 1950's and '60s.
The first computer network was called ARPANET, an outcome of inspired technology-development policy from ARPA -the Advanced Research Projects Agency, a part of the Defense Dept. The story is laid out chronologically without too much techspeak, and brings up a number of questions.
One question that seemed clearer to me at the end of the book was that ARPANET was the first mover towards internetworked computers, but from the story it is clear that it was a series of hardware computers which acted as 'routers' of information and that the heartbeat of the internet, as we have come to know it, is the communications protocol [called TCP/IP, specified by Vint Cerf, among others] which allowed the various messages to be interpreted by the different computers. TCP/IP and Cerf are almost incidental to this book, which is a pity.
Other topics covered are the initiation and development of E-mail and how the non-hierarchical, informal communications process among academics came to be the spirit of communications in the internet as a whole - something which is not altogether obvious from its origins in the Defense Dept. For me, the other big revelation was the speed of the adoption of the internet (even in days before the World Wide Web) and how the originators of the ARPANET were happy to allow it to be made obsolete by technological development. No one mentioned in this book seemed to want to (or know how to) commericialize the technology which they were working so feverishly to implement.
For those of a technical persuasion there are plenty of references to the various papers which moved the various technologies forward. This book is a great first taste for those who want to dip into the subject, gives a realistic description of the 'wizards' who had the weird and wacky ideas which we now rely on , and the text includes enough 'beef' to indicate how to dig deeper into the detail.

5-0 out of 5 stars Enthralling History of the Internet's Origin
This book gives you the complete story behind the conception and birth of the internet. The story focuses on the work done by BBN to pioneer and develop all of the protocols and designs that are the internet. The book does a good job of laying the foundation of where the state of computing was when these initial developments were being made and what outside social and economic trends effected and encouraged the internet's development. The authors do a very good job of focusing on the personalities, anecdotes and larger issues without getting bogged down in minutiae. At 265 pages, the book is packed and makes for a very quick read. The writing style of Ms. Hafner and Mr. Lyon is outstanding, which greatly increases the quality of the book.

There are some very interesting aspects of the development that are related. I was very interested in the origins of BBN, their background in acoustics, and the zeal with which they pursued the original DARPA contract. Of equal interest was the method in which the teams were managed, and the way that the development was not pursued with large teams and brute force, but rather with smaller teams that were headed by the best possible people and given all of the resources that they needed. The creation of the internet is an awe-inspiring event, and the text offers several subtle management lessons that are too important to be overlooked. The book also does a splendid job of showing some of the theory that was used in the development of the necessary software and how the developers did such a good job of bridging theory and practical engineering development. In this light the book does a much better job discussing theory than two other recent books on the history of the Computer, "Engines of the Mind" by Shurkin and "Computer" by Campbell-Kelly and Aspray. These are just some of the interesting stories told, the whole text is packed cover to cover with similar stories.

I highly recommend this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great book on the history of the internet
This was an excellent account of how the internet was created and how both ARPA and distributed networking has shaped what we use now everyday.. This book provided an excellent account of what the founders of the internet had to deal with in order to design what we have today..

This is a great read and provides a great reference for all who use and depend on the internet...

3-0 out of 5 stars A good book about the history of the net
This book tells about how the Internet as we know it today has come into existence.

In February 1966 Bob Taylor who was employed by the Advanced Research Project Agency located in the Pentagon, was in charge of three non-networked computer terminals, each terminal running a different operating system. Communications between the terminals was at that point in time impossible. Taylor set out to explore a way to get the three computers to talk to each other.

The political climate at the time was such that the Russians have launched sputnik into space (1957). President Eisenhower began ARPA as a research and development agency to rival the Soviet's advances in technology.

ARPA's mission was to find a way for (government-sensitive) information withstand an attack (from the Soviets) on the Pentagon.

Paul Baran joined ARPA. He was working on a way "to build communications structures whose surviving components could continue to function as a cohesive entity if the other pieces were destroyed."

Baran diagramed 3 kinds of networks in a paper he wrote. The three networks were, centralized, de-centralized and distributed.

Baran had another idea. To send information over the network, he suggested that the messages themselves be fractured. This was formulated into packet-switching.

Special computers had to be constructed in order to uses packet-switching. The software form these computers was build by a company called BBN. The hardware of the machines known as IMPs was built by Honeywell.

In the beginning there were four nodes on the network. Over time the amount of nodes grew to 115 - until senstive government nodes claimed their own network, MIILNET.

Through funding, the National Science Foundation helped get many more colleges and universities on the network.

Lots of information is conveyed with excellent editing making this book a very fast read. But AT&T's 6-year opposition to distributed processing is as appropriately treated -- without comment -- as the telegram sent by Senator Edward Kennedy's office to Boston-based BBN Corportation when the latter landed ARPA's contract for the Interface Message Processor: "Congratulations on your contract to build the Interfaith Message Processor."

This book's a beauty. ... Read more

173. Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience
by Max R. Bennett, P. M. S. Hacker, M. R. Bennett
list price: $39.95
our price: $34.76
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 140510838X
Catlog: Book (2003-06-01)
Publisher: Blackwell Publishers
Sales Rank: 237638
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent, and controversial, critique of neuroscience
Undoubtedly this book contains both excellence in terms of its review thoroughness and controversey by virtue of its conclusions. It is quite clear from the beginning that Hacker's philosophical stance drives most of the conceptual critique in the book. It is a complicated book, given the vast variety of themes and attendant analyses, and a short review will do it little justice. However, Hacker is a later Wittgensteinian, and to appreciate most of the philosophical input the reader should have reasonable knowledge of the contrast between early and later Wittgenstein, and what exactly characterises the core components of the latter.

The primary criticism leveled at neuroscience is that it is a conceptual shambles due to repeatedly confusing functions of 'selves' with functions of organs (the brain of course). Neursoscience is identified with Cartesian dualism by clumsily shifting talk of properties of persons to talk of brain phenomena and assuming them equivalent. The anvil upon which neuroscience is being philosophically temepered is termed the mereological principle (or fallacy - and you can buy the book for an explanation).

Part of the criticism echoes Wittgenstein's 'if a lion could talk we wouldn't understand him', and most significantly recalls previous critiques of private langage arguments (with a nod to Kripke). It turns out, according to Bennet and Hacker, that neuroscience has been secretly keeping private mental objects alive - presumably in ignorance of philosophical canons.

The book concludes with a well argued and welcome broadside against Dennett's intentional stance (a sacred tenet among cognitve neuroscientists) and, unfortunately, a more toothless critique of Searle on intentionality.

Is this a good book? As an exercise in conceptual analysis this is an excellent text to study - and disagree with. However, implicit in the text is a philosophical backcloth that will not be accessible to many readers outside philosophy (e.g. the presentation of neuroscientific concepts as neo-platonic). It is an immensely scholarly work, but personally I believe that readers with an informed understanding of Wittgenstein will follow the threads more easily than others. Nevertheless, I heartily recommend it.

5-0 out of 5 stars A conceptual handbook for both students and researchers
Philosophical Foundations Of Neuroscience is the collaboration and brainchild of both neuroscientist M. R. Bennett (Professor of Physiology and University Chair, University of Sydney) and philosopher P. M. S. Hacker (Fellow of St. John's College, Oxford, England), surveying numerous theories including those of Blakemore, Crick, Damasio, Edelman, Gazzniga, Weiskrantz, and others. Written as a conceptual handbook for both students and researchers, Philosophical Foundations Of Neuroscience is a scholarly, college-level text covering the history of this intersection between disciplines, cognitive powers, emotion, conscious experience, reductionism and more. Philosophical Foundations Of Neuroscience is highly recommended as an excellent general foundation resource for academic Philosophy collections and reading lists. ... Read more

174. America's Hundred Thousand: U.S. Production Fighters of World War II
by Francis H. Dean
list price: $59.95
our price: $59.95
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Asin: 0764300725
Catlog: Book (2000-01-01)
Publisher: Schiffer Publishing
Sales Rank: 288709
Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

America's Hundred Thousand covers in detail the eleven U.S. fighter aircraft types produced just before and during World War II - with a combined production total of just over 100,000 aircraft. Covered are the Army Lockheed P-38 Lightning, P-39 Airacobra, Curtiss P-40 Tomahawk/Kittyhawk/Warhawk, P-47 Thunderbolt, North American P-51 Mustang, Northrop P-61 Black Widow, and the Navy F2A - Buffalo, F4F - Wildcat, F4U - Corsair, and F6F - Hellcat fighters. The text is supplemented by more than 650 photographs, and 200 tables and graphs. Fighter production figures are also included. After an introduction of each type, a heavily illustrated overview of earlier inter-war production from 1920-on, along with a discussion and illustration of wartime experimental types, is provided. A lengthy section considering several technical factors affecting fighter performance follows. These include engine models, supercharger types, propellers, aerodynamic thrust, lift and drag, aircraft weight, balance, stability and control, and armament. America's Hundred Thousand also provides details of each U.S. World War II production fighter in terms of models and changes, numbers produced, and major engine and aircraft performance aspects - in tabular and graphical form - details of weights, discussion of handling qualities and general comments, along with detailed descriptions containing many illustrations of aircraft structures and systems showing the technology of that time. In addition a comprehensive week-to-week and month-to-month chronology of development and wartime combat operational life for each fighter is provided, including many photos. This study concludes with comparisons of the eleven types in terms of program milestones, aircraft drag, power available at various altitudes, speed, climb, rolling and turning, acceleration, and diving performance, as well as general evaluations by World War II pilots., over 1,000 b/w photographs, graphs, charts, 8 1/2" x 11" ... Read more

Reviews (5)

4-0 out of 5 stars the planes we built, and how we built them
This isn't a book for couch potatoes. It contains no tales of derring-do ("Erik dropped out of the sky upon the unsuspecting Zero") and it could do you an injury if you dozed off.

Rather, it presents the best collection of facts, figures, drawings, photos, and anecdotes about U.S. World War II fighters that I have ever seen, and a whole lot more. For openers, Dean sketches American fighters of the 1920s and 1930s, along with the planes that might have fought in World War II but didn't make the grade, often because they were too goofy to be believed. He also talks about the elements that enable a fighter to fight, including a wonderfully lucid explanation of aircraft stability.

The main text is given over to the 11 planes that actually went to war, including the Brewster F2A Buffalo (509 delivered, mostly to desperate foreigners) and the humungous Northrop P-61 Black Widow (706 delivered, late in the war). Any kid with a yen for model airplanes or Combat Simulator can name the rest: the shark-faced Curtiss P-40, the rotund Grumman F4F Wildcat and F6F Hellcat, the burly Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, the incomparable North American P-51 Mustang. . . . From 1939 to 1945, U.S. manufacturers built 100,090 combat-worthy fighters. "Today," Dean notes, "no one could pay for that number even if they were desired."

In the Schiffer tradition, photograph is piled upon drawing, table upon graph--74 for the Brewster Buffalo alone, which U.S. pilots flew in just one engagement, defending Midway on June 4, 1942. The drawings are generally taken from pilot's manuals and the like, giving a pleasantly retro look to the pages.

Among such wonders, I was disappointed to find countless errors of spelling and punctuation, notably "Kittihawk" for the British Kittyhawk version of the big-jawed P-40. Never mind! Just as nobody will ever build so many fighters again, nobody is likely to attempt another such labor of love, so we'll have to be content with this one.

5-0 out of 5 stars Dean's remarkable effort is a technical tour de force!
There are a few books that the World War Two aviation enthusiast absolutely must have in their collection. America's One Hundred Thousand is certainly one of those books. Any compilation of WWII works would be the lesser for not including this monumental volume. Having offered up this rather strong statement, I can assure the reader that Dean's book measures up to this standard of approbation.

To this writer's knowledge, no other book produced comes close to America's 100k in depth nor in scope. Dean presents the major American fighter types with the goal of defining every aspect of the aircraft's history, design, construction and performance. In his quest, the author has been successful in the extreme.

Mr. Dean covers the following types: The Air Corps' P-38, P-39, P-40, P-47, P-51, P-61 and P-63. For the Navy and Marine Corps, Dean presents the F2A, F4F, F4U and the F6F.

From the title page on, America's 100k displays the finest period photography available. Much of these wonderful images come from Mr. Dean's extensive personal collection. In addition, Dean has enlisted Pete Bowers and his huge library of photos and negatives. If the book was no more than a photographic history, it would worth every penny. However, there is much more here than the outstanding photography.

There are hundreds of charts, stats and manufacturer's drawings. Each system and sub-system of the eleven featured fighters are described in great detail. As are the individual flying qualities, design and construction of each type. Yet, Dean does not stop here. His accompanying text is rich with details and a wealth of data. Virtually every one of the 606 pages is jammed with the kind of information that most aviation enthusiasts tend to drool over.

In terms of design and layout, the book is impeccable. America's 100k is structured in a manner that allows for easy reading and research. Paper quality is first rate and typical of Schiffer's recent top-notch efforts. The binding is excellent and the dust jacket is remarkably attractive as one can see above. Indeed, this may very well be the best investment you will ever make in an aviation book.

Corey C. Jordan, Editor The Planes and Pilots of WWII Internet Magazine

5-0 out of 5 stars This book brings useful data for WWII aircraft's nuts.
Thank you Mr.Dean for this magnificent book.There's b&w pictures and the drawings are great ! I recommend this book for those who loves WWII american fighters such modelers or historians.I regard this book as a treasure in my WWII collection.

5-0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Wonderful!
I would have to agree with the good Prof. above (whose books are also excellent, btw). This one is truly a definitive work. Among other wonders, the author explains "compressability" in a few short sentences in a way that is instantly comprehensible -- that's a subject I've seen butchered in dozens of books. I guess being a retired avation engineer helps.

This book isn't just large and comprehensive -- it's really good. It's well-written, well-organized, and just thoughtful on every level. Granted, you have to be sort of a maniac to buy a 600-page $60 book on WW II fighters. But if you're that kind of maniac, buy it now!

5-0 out of 5 stars An indispensable book for WWII aviation enthusiasts.
I have been writing about and studying modern military history for fifteen years and it is very rare to discover a book that genuinely deserves the term "definitive." Francis Dean's _America's Hundred Thousand_ is one of them. Table top books or pictorial essays about various WWII fighters are common. Dean's work, however, is a long (nearly 600 pages and large format) and detailed study of the ten most important US fighter aircraft of the war. It includes solid data on every major subsystem as well as overall aircraft performance. Crammed with graphs and charts, Dean analyzes the crucial but often neglected fine points that made the difference between life and death in air combat. Lastly, he does a long and extremely interesting comparison of the strengths and weaknesses of the various planes. Throughout the work are comments from WWII pilots who knew the craft first hand. Dean, a former Boeing engineer and well known aviation writer, spent six years researching this work and it shows. This book belongs on the bookshelf of every serious student of the air operations so crucial to the Second World War. Highest possible recommendation. ... Read more

175. Ecological Methodology (2nd Edition)
by Charles J. Krebs
list price: $120.60
our price: $120.60
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Asin: 0321021738
Catlog: Book (1998-07-23)
Publisher: Benjamin Cummings
Sales Rank: 329393
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars A must-have book for young ecologists
This is a wonderful book. As a graduating senior in Ecology, I can say that there is no way I could have completed my research without this book. Krebs is cited in journal articles constantly, and there is a reason - this reference work is thorough, well written and gives many examples to follow. I also recommend the EcoMeth software mentioned in the text, it is well worth the cost. Just browsing through the book will give you ideas on how to analyze your data. It even provides wonderful advice for those just in the process of setting up their experiments. All in all, it's top notch!

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent reference text
Krebs' text is a thorough and outstanding reference for any ecologist. This is is the ideal balance of technical background and practical application of methods commonly used in ecology. Ive found other sources either too cursory or far too involved with derivations of formulae, etc. Krebs hits the major points for the methods he discusses, describes the strengths and weaknesses, and gives the original citations (for most) so the reader can seek more information if necessary. ... Read more

176. The Turning Point : Science, Society, and the Rising Culture
list price: $18.95
our price: $12.89
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Asin: 0553345729
Catlog: Book (1984-08-01)
Publisher: Bantam
Sales Rank: 30559
Average Customer Review: 4.33 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (15)

5-0 out of 5 stars A brilliant and important book.
It's all here. Everything we ever needed to know to begin to change our world and ourselves. Totally brilliant. Many years in the making, this book covers a very wide spectrum of knowledge and is fascinating all the way through. Like The Tao of Physics, this book looks toward a world view that encompasses a balance of science and spirit. Capra is also not shy about deconstructing or critisizing popular economic and political mythology, which may disturb some readers, but he has the benefit of input from some of the greatest minds of our time and his analysis is unassailable. Female readers will probably appreciate his sensitivity and balanced approach to feminist perspectives as he discusses what's wrong with our world and what we can do to change things.

My experience was that I read his other book "Uncommon Wisdom" first, which was in large part about Capra's experiences leading up to the writing of The Turning Point with the people and minds that inspired and enlightened him. Reading that first made all of The Turning Point flow even smoother. But Uncommon Wisdom is getting hard to find, so don't quibble. Read Turning Point no matter what! It is still 100% relevant to today and comes from a man who has been at the forefront of cutting edge thinking since the 1960s.

This book is filled with Capra's take on insights obtained over the years from people like Werner Heisenberg, E.F. Schumacher, J. Krishnamurti, Hazel Henderson, Gregory Bateson, Pitirim Sorokin, Stanislav Grof, Margaret Locke, R.D. Laing, David Bohm, Adrienne Rich, Lyn Margulis, and many others. With The Turning Point, you're getting into the thoughts of a whole lot of brilliant thinkers, both male and female, that Capra has known personally or studied thoroughly.

All of Capra's books are fascinating. Check out "The Web of Life" which is another 5 star book in my opinion.

4-0 out of 5 stars An Outstanding Review and Critique of Reductionism
The Reductionist model of the world holds sway today with incredible tenacity and effect. Capra's tracing of it's history, implications and role in present society is outstanding. His advocacy for system thinking is likewise terrific. In the second portion of the book Capra attempts a prescriptive dialog in several areas. This prescriptive section was interesting and contains some good ideas, yet lacks the power of the first part. My recommendation: Everyone should read the first portion while the second is very optional.

5-0 out of 5 stars Important messages
I think Fritjof Capra is making some very important observations in this book. Through his observations, the author states that Western Civilization is gradually approaching the climax of a major turning point in its evolution. He suggests that the cause of this is in our consciousness, a certain way we are seeing and understanding our experiences. This is leading to many of our present day environmental, social, political, and financial crises. We are all sitting on a treebranch that is gradually getting too heavy. Many modern theorists try to explain this phenomena but Capra articulates this in a way that many people can understand. This book as well as "The Ever-Transcending Spirit" by Toru Sato do a very fine job in trying to open the public eye to these issues. Both of these books are highly recommended for people who want to understand things from a wider, larger, and deeper perspective.

5-0 out of 5 stars a much-needed mind walk
This landmark, timeless work and the movie based on it (Mindwalk) are great accomplishments that have much relevance to today's events and where the world is headed.

Read before it is too late!

1-0 out of 5 stars Half-Baked Qusai-Philosophy
Chapter two is worth reading, and so is chapter three. The rest of the book is unintelligble. Capra's cultural and historical analysis and argument are logically inconsistent with "the new physics." Furthermore, Capra offers no treatment of Chinese civilization and culture aside from exploiting pop Chinese mystical terms. Most of the book is a grand exercise in equivocation. I'm sorry to run contrary to so many other readers, but my opinion is that this book will not be remembered well--if at all. ... Read more

177. Nursing, the Finest Art: An Illustrated History
by M. Patricia Donahue
list price: $68.95
our price: $68.95
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Asin: 0815127278
Catlog: Book (1996-01-15)
Publisher: C.V. Mosby
Sales Rank: 77142
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars The perfect gift for a nurse
This book is a great gift idea for all nurses. I bought one during my senior year of nursing school to help with a take-home exam. Not only did it help with the exam, but it was actually very interesting to read. The format of the book is nice because it has a timeline, and is organized by major historical events in nursing. Even if you don't like reading about history, the pictures tell a story themselves. It is a great coffee table book to have just to flip through and enjoy the beautiful artwork and pictures of nurses from past to present.

5-0 out of 5 stars Every nurse should own this book
This book is a treasure for the profession of nursing. I saw the first edition of this book while a nursing student in the author's nursing history course. Dr. Donahoe performed extensive research in writing this book. It is a moving account of those things that drew me to the profession of nursing and a thorough education for those unaware of nursing's history. The artwork is phenomenal and shows how nurses have been captured in art throughout history as well. ... Read more

178. Evolution : The Remarkable History of a Scientific Theory (Modern Library Chronicles)
by Edward J. Larson
list price: $21.95
our price: $14.93
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Asin: 0679642889
Catlog: Book (2004-05-04)
Publisher: Modern Library
Sales Rank: 11592
Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (5)

3-0 out of 5 stars Good, up to the second half of the 20th century
Larson is quite competent at describing the history of evolutionary thought up until recent decades. Then he becomes obsessed with Wilson's pop-sci "sociobiology" and completely misses the much more significant Zukerkandl & Pauling, Kimura, Jukes & Cantor, Walter Fitch, and the whole revolution in molecular evolution which brought evolution out of the swamps of mere "naturalism" and into serious molecular and genomic studies.

1-0 out of 5 stars Much ado over nothing
Overblown worthless drivel. Much hype over an old idea

5-0 out of 5 stars A Litte of Everything
Edward J. Larson manages to pack this little book. The author goes beyond the usual small format of the Modern Library Chronicles series only a little in terms of page number but seems to cram much more information in than the readers of this dazzling series usually encounter. And the joy is that he does it so effortlessly, with scientific jargonize only sneaking in near the very end. The concept of evolution is covered from Cuvier in the Napoleonic era through Darwin and onto the modern 21st culture wars in America. Everything important is touched on in a manner that makes it relevant, understandable, and interesting, and the story flows quickly and intelligently. It is one of the better volumes of the series making the best use of the space allowed in order to introduce important historical ideas and events to the general reader. A highly recommended read.

4-0 out of 5 stars Evolution-- a history of delusion
This is a well-done and very succint history of the theory of evolution, or at least, Darwin's theory, from the eighteenth century to the present. Even a critic of Darwinism might find it interesting as far as it goes. Unfortunately the subject of evolution is so filled with confusion even, or especially, among Darwinists (and the Darwin book market no doubt so unforgiving)that any historical account is likely to mirror the standard hero myth and even a specialist is likely to follow the programmed theoretical 'pack of lies',unawares. The key moment, not for theory, but general paradigm fixation, was of course the publication of Darwin's Origin (with Wallace quietly squelched in the background in the famous Ternate letter episode ensuring Darwin's priority). One of the confusions of this history is that early researchers understood the complexity of the question, and would never have proposed an idea as simplistic as Darwin's, which however took over the field. As Larson points out, by the end of the nineteenth century, Darwin's theory of natural selection was in eclipse and only made a comeback with the rise of the Synthesis. The appearance of the new population genetics, with its mathematical veneer, and new twists seen in the work of such as Hamilton, took on the appearance of a final triumph, especially with its crackpot versions of the evolution of ethics, always the stumbling block for a theory like Darwin's. But it is as if the Darwinists have learned their lesson and won't let it be eclipsed again. Historians of the subject are at the mercy of this second round of delusion, often unable to see the limits of the math models which most definitely are not a full theory of evolution.
A complete history of the idea of evolution might as well point out that Lamarck was the real founder of evolution, despite his other confusions over adaptation for which he is mainly known. Or point to the teleomechanists working in the legacy of Kant, or the work of such as St. Hilaire in embryology, a contribution only now becoming known. Indeed, any history of evolution should be setting the record straight in the age of hox genes and dna. Instead, the paradigm is managing to survive a complete expose of itself. A work such as Soren Lovtrup's Darwinism: Refutation of a Myth does that up to a point.
The appearance of the idea of evolution was in some ways more insightfully considered, though entirely in premature fashion, in the eighteenth century, witness the work of Kant or the insight of Diderot who refects on the embryological aspects of the egg, as recounted by Ilya Prignone in his Order and Chaos. The generations just after Newton still had some who grasped the full implications and difficulty of theories of evolution, but such was the tide of scientism that the whole subject derailed at the start. So, in the sense of Kuhn, everyone seems in the grips of the phase of 'normal science' and unable to wrestle free of the tentacles of delusion. In many ways Lamarck still had the better idea (forgetting the red herring of his adapational confusions) with his insight into two levels of evolution. Lamarck was a radical discredited in the wake of the French Revolution, and rapidly deep sixed. Darwin a proper Whiggist estab type, and swiftly promo'ed. The connections to ideology seem to escape all parties, including the Marxists who bit on the hook and never managed to see the key instance of their own critiques.
The history of evolution is a corrupt subject, as one can see. Caveat lector.

5-0 out of 5 stars The trials of an idea
Edward Larson has capped a fine string of publications on evolution with this history. A study of the idea of evolution and consideration of the mechanisms driving it, this book introduces you to the major thinkers and researchers involved. Each chapter focuses on an individual or a concept, explaining the rationales behind the idea and its supporters. Larson's evocative prose style keeps the account moving smoothly, even when disputants over an idea grow disruptive and acrimonious.

Larson opens with consideration of the problem of deep time. With biblical authority decreeing a young earth and the immutability of species, the idea of change over time was deemed impossible, if not heretical. Ironically, the first scholar to open the notion of deep time was one of evolution's "staunchest foes" - Georges Cuvier. This French scientist was an early expert on comparative anatomy, stressing form resulted from functional use of an organ. His studies led him to argue that fossils truly represented extinct species. However, new species didn't evolve from the older ones, he argued, but were the result of an act of subsequent creation. Extinctions were due to some catastrophic event. The idea of species succession, however, introduced the notion of deep time - an Earth older than then supposed.

From Cuvier, Larson logically moves to the ideas of another French scientist, Jean Baptiste Lamarck. Today, Lamarck's ideas are blithely dismissed, but Larson shows the significance of his contributions. Although the paleontological record provided spotty support, Lamarck rejected Cuvier's "fixed species" sequences for a form of continuous change. Thinking that changes to the body would be reflected in later generations, Lamarck developed the thesis of "acquired characteristics". Larson makes clear that Lamarck's ideas, although denounced today, were a needed foundation for Darwin's great insight.

Larson's summary of Darwin's Beagle voyage and development of the concept of evolution by natural selection is clear and succinct. Except for Larson's insistence on calling it "evolutionism", thereby changing a scientific idea into an ideology, it's a fine synopsis. Larson is correct in concentrating on human evolution. No matter what Darwin wrote of pigeons or barnacles, people wanted to know how humans fit into the evolutionary scheme. More than one scientific and social issue depended on that pivotal point.

Larson describes the years of challenge to natural selection and the rise of Mendelian genetics leading the assault. Objectors to natural selection came from more than just the ranks of Christian dogmatists. Lord Kelvin's calculation of the sun's waning heat denied evolution sufficient time to operate. Others argued that breeding species blended traits instead of separating them into new species. Later, the most important student of heredity, Thomas Hunt Morgan, rejected natural selection in favour of a mutation-driven mechanism. The turning point came with J.B.S. Haldane, Sewall Wright and Ronald Fisher's new "biometric" studies in population genetics. The merging of Mendelian genetics with Darwin's natural selection is now known as the "new synthesis" or "neo-Darwinism". That combination has proven the most lasting and meaningful aspect of thought on the idea of evolution. From it, Larson explains, arose E. O. Wilson's innovative concept of sociobiology. The behaviour of social insects offer insight into group interaction and are applicable to human evolutionary history.

There are many books with information on the history of evolution as a concept. Why choose this one over any of them? The main reason is Larson's focus on evolution as an idea. The biological themes are discussed only briefly, keeping Larson free to relate the history of the concept. He describes some of the off-shoots of Darwin's original thesis, such as Gould and Eldredge's "punctuated equilibrium", but cautiously avoids any commitment to any of them. His purpose is relating how the idea came to dominate science. He also portrays its Christian opponents in the United States and how their strategies have been applied in driving education away from science to embrace religious themes, however disguised. As an overview, this book is an outstanding introduction. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada] ... Read more

179. We Have Never Been Modern
by Bruno Latour, Catherine Porter
list price: $19.50
our price: $19.50
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Asin: 0674948394
Catlog: Book (1993-11-01)
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Sales Rank: 104722
Average Customer Review: 3.75 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars of course some people wouldn't like this book
i loved this book: it questions the idea of repeatability, which means that it questions the religion of science (as practiced by amateurs)and it shows you how language has served the impulse towards duplicity. the book also has a certain tongue-in-cheek wit about it, and that makes the ideas more interesting to read.

i can see where latour would make people nervous if they were fully invested in a point of view not fully understood. but, until the government takes down the bill of rights, diversity in thinking is still allowed and maybe even encouraged.

enjoy this book. it is fun.

3-0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but hard to read
I'd like to think I'm not a dummy, but this was hard to read. It looks to me like the book was translated to English by someone who might know more about Anthropology than written communication. There were times when I felt that maybe it had been run through Babblefish.

Dissing of the translator aside, the author assumes the reader is completely knowlegable of all the apparently pretty divisions and differences in opinions between one group of scientists and another. Man I could care less, unless it leads to an advancement of a science, and I wasn't convinced. But maybe because I didn't care.

There were times where I felt that a greater service would have been done if the soap opera would have been skipped.

That said, the book contains some insightful and thought provoking ideas on how societies view each other and themselves. I found some concepts a powerful catalyst in my design efforts.

2-0 out of 5 stars It only takes a French accent...
Anglophone readers probably don't realise that Latour meant this book as a tongue-in-cheek exercise to capture the postmodern social theory market in his own country by using a postmodern style to show what an illusion postmodernism has always been. But, as fate would have it, when someone sneezes in Paris, an Anglophone is felled with pneumonia. It's hard to believe that anyone with a firm grasp of the history of the last 250 years of Western culture would find this book anything more than a diversion worthy of maybe a couple of arguments in the pub. It's telling that historians of science, who are really the people who are in a position to hold Latour accountable to anything he says here, have given the book a chilly reception. Classify this one under 'Pseud's Corner'.

5-0 out of 5 stars a great, new work; serious social theory for scientists too
For this reader, Bruno Latour's book is one of the most ambitious, original, and important reformulations of social theory since 1989. It is getting lots of attention among scholars, and deserves a wider public. The press reviews here don't do this book justice.

Latour, for those of you who don't know him, has been at the forefront of the emerging field of "science studies", the history and sociology of science, for the past 15 years. He's also a rather bizarre fellow. His "Aramis" is a book of real sociology that is told in the form of a novel, in which the metro car of a failed Parisian public transportation project becomes one of a series of narrators. In "We Have Never Been Modern," he conscisely summarizes the theoretical basis of his work, and stakes out ground that is genuinely new. The book should excite humanisitic academics, scientists, and intellectually adventurous people from all walks of life with a taste for theory.

The thesis -- the basis for the "we have never been modern" part -- is that the "great divide" between nature and human, subject and object, science and society, was never real. Instead, he says, this subject/object divide was the great dirty fiction of the "modern" world.

To give you the gist of the argument as briefly as possible: the separation of nature and human, that has marked Western intellectual life since the 17th century, allowed both science and the humanities to make their own claims for absolute truth. This divide was the basis for our image of "modern western man."

But these claims hid the fact that "hybrids" were springing up all the while. Modernity also spawned technological "quasi-objects" that blur the line between the natural and the human. The tremendous multiplication of these "quasi-objects" (Latour's neologism)in our times has finally forced us to the point where we are at a startling conclusion: the divorce of man from nature never really took place.

What we thought of as scientific Western man was never real. Latour wants us, the generation left with the consequences of this revelation, to exhume this past of hybridity, and seek out a new relationship between nature and culture. In short, he wants to both humanize science and render the humanities more scientific.

This brief bastardization does not do justice to the work. Latour elegantly and convincingly lays out his thesis, and the results are dazzling and compelling. He's also sharp and witty, and fans of the like of Baudrillard and Derrida will see their idols tossed about a bit.

On the other hand, the book is immensely ambitious in its theoretical claims, and has a tendency to pretend that complex and difficult ideas are obvious truth. One wonders at times if he is practicing the French intellectual's habit of making our heads spin for the sheer thrill of watching the confusion. But he's not, and most readers, I think, will finish the book that Latour is ultimately both a sensible man and a humane one.

As a graduate student in the humanities, I know that this book is getting a growing audience in academia. I hope that some non-academic visitors to (especially science buffs who enjoy the likes of Steven Pinker and Daniel Dennet) will treat themselves to this intellectual adventure. It's a truly original book, not much over 100 pages, reasonably priced, and well worth the experience. ... Read more

180. Stalking the Riemann Hypothesis : The Quest to Find the Hidden Law of Prime Numbers
by Dan Rockmore
list price: $25.00
our price: $16.50
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Asin: 037542136X
Catlog: Book (2005-04-05)
Publisher: Pantheon
Sales Rank: 24485
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