Another free evolution book

September 26, 2011 • 11:19 am

Get this while you can:  it’s a free Kindle copy of Evolution: A View from the 21st Century by James Shapiro.  I haven’t read it, but the price is right.

Jim Shapiro is heterodox in his views and opposed to much of modern evolutionary theory, so this may be a strange book.  Weigh in if you’ve read it.

Thanks to Bob for the notice.

34 thoughts on “Another free evolution book

  1. Order #: D01-XXXXXXXXXXXX

    Subtotal of items: $0.00
    ——
    Total before tax: $0.00
    Tax Collected: $0.00
    ——
    Total for this Order: $0.00

    I never like it when the tax is 100%

  2. I have not been ordering anything by credit card, lately (3-4 months) or even using it for in-person purchases. But I ordered the “free” book last time you mentioned it, plus a couple of other books through Amazon, supplied by third parties. Next thing you know, my credit card has been hacked for $49.99 by a Washington state company. My bank caught it. Just a heads up…..

  3. Shapiro is a teleological wolf in philosophical clothing as far as I can tell.
    Probably only worth reading if you know a enough about evolution to recognise the flaws.

  4. How does one find these temporarily-free kindle books? I’d love to hear about them in general..is there some nifty website where someone lists them?

    1. If you look on the Amazon website under “Kindle ebooks” and then click “Bestsellers”, it will give you the top 100 free as well as the top 100 paid. Often these are trashy (and oddly, lots of niche religious books — who knew there was such a thing as Christian vampire fiction?), but there are good ones too. And most pre-copyright books, like Darwin’s, are available for free to download. Check out Project Gutenberg.

  5. Darn, too bad it’s only in the proprietary Kindle format (don’t own that device). It’s offered on Google eBooks, but only through Amazon at full price. I’ll spread the word.

    1. It’s probably that you have an older Kindle, they charge $2 for the use of Amazon’s 3G network if you’re not in the States. You can download the book onto your computer (using the the free Kindle ap for your puter) and then by cable onto your Kindle for free though.

  6. Jerry, smart play toning down the vitriol.

    You obviously pegged Shapiro as a looming threat you are not quite sure how to handle.

    Now, just how to deal with a smart scientist that just happens to believe in the ultimate abstraction.

    cogno-disso? Or maybe just a strong expresso?

  7. It’s worth the price. Whether reading it is worth the time, I cannot say.

    I did have some fun over at Uncommondescent quoting from it.

    Regardless of whether Shapiro’s conjectures are worth anything, he accepts evolution as a fact, and he accepts evolution as capable of inventing new complex things.

    So he can be used to tweak the masses of creationists that lurk behind the ID movement.

    I found this snippet interesting:

    ***********
    The bottom-up approach is to design experimental systems in which cells have to produce two or more targeted changes to pass through a particular selection regime (such as growth on a medium that lacks a particular nutrient or that uses a novel growth substrate). The frequencies of single and multiple change events can be determined, and the roles of particular natural genetic engineering systems, such as transposons and retrotransposons, can be evaluated. In this way, we can develop an appreciation of the potential for coordinated genomic changes.
    *************

    A thousand references, and no mention of Lenski.

  8. I skimmed it and came across some claims that look simply wrong. Like this howler:

    “It is important to note that selection has never led to formation of a new species, as Darwin postulated. No matter how morphologically and behaviorally different they become, all dogs remain members of the same species, are capable of interbreeding with other dogs, and will revert in a few generations to a common feral dog phenotype if allowed to go wild.”

    The guy does have good science in his book, apparently cutting-edge stuff about the ability of cells do surprisingly versatile things including (says Shapiro) “read-write” operations on the genome in order to cnvey intelligence back into the DNA. He does hasten to add that this is not supernatural intelligence but some form of cognition by the cell responsive to its environment. Sounds pretty Lamarckian to me!

    Any thoughts on this? I’m undergoing some cog dis right now with the respect I ordinarily accord a real scientist doing actual pertinent work in the lab and regularly publishing it, and the feeling that this conclusions are not merely wrong, but also are getting him seen with the likes of Dembski at ID events and trotted out for discussions and interviews by ID organizations.

    1. He anthropomorhises and then forgets that’s a metaphor. Suddenly cells cogitate, make purposeful decisions, and seek out and have sex with one another.

      His science looks sound.
      His philosophy is way off beam.

  9. our experience is that when scientists move outside the application of the scientific method and theri very narrow expertise to other fields, they quickly jump into ideology and crackpot territory.

    However, ideology and crackpot ideas serve strong and broad emotional needs and are thus are rewarded in pop culture, e.g., Deepak Chopra

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