Want to know what books Jerry Coyne recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Jerry Coyne's favorite book recommendations of all time.
How smart are you? If that question doesn't spark a dozen more questions in your mind (like "What do you mean by 'smart,'" "How do I measure it" and "Who's asking?"), then The Mismeasure of Man, Stephen Jay Gould's masterful demolition of the IQ industry, should be required reading. Gould's brilliant, funny, engaging prose dissects the motivations behind those who would judge intelligence, and hence worth, by cranial size, convolutions, or score on extremely narrow tests. How did scientists decide that... more
Cover note: Each copy of the anniversary edition of The Blind Watchmaker features a unique biomorph. No two covers are exactly alike.
Acclaimed as the most influential work on evolution written in the last hundred years, The Blind Watchmaker offers an inspiring and accessible introduction to one of the most important scientific discoveries of all time. A brilliant and controversial book which demonstrates that evolution by natural selection - the unconscious, automatic, blind yet essentially... more
James RandiThey talk about the blind watchmaker not being able to make a watch, but if you’re given an almost infinite number of combinations and permutations of materials and situations, the world will come about. Or it may not. In our case, it came about. You’re here, I’m here, and I’m very happy about that. (Source)
Jerry CoyneHe wanted to model it on the European system, which by that time had become secular. Universities were originally, in the Middle Ages, religious institutions. Dickson White and Cornell agreed that they were going to make this university secular because only by insulating universities from the influence of religion could there be free inquiry. And he’s absolutely right about that. They put a... (Source)
For a growing number of people, there is nothing more important than religion. It is an integral part of their marriage, child rearing, and community. In this daring new book, distinguished philosopher Daniel C. Dennett takes a hard look at this phenomenon and asks why. Where does our devotion to God come from and what purpose does it serve? Is religion a blind evolutionary compulsion or a rational choice? In "Breaking the Spell," Dennett argues that... more
Jerry CoyneHe calls it Breaking the Spell for a reason. He thinks there is this sanctity about religion which prevents people from asking, “Where did it come from in the first place?” It’s a human construct, after all, it wasn’t given to humanity by God. It couldn’t have been, because we have thousands of different religions. So even religious people recognize the human contribution to religion. At the... (Source)
Jerry CoyneTheology is basically a warped form of philosophy. I’ll get in trouble for saying it, but it’s a fact. Theology is the kind of philosophy that’s applied to a non-existent object. So they use all the tools of philosophy. If you read sophisticated theology there’s even Bayesian analysis and mathematical logic in there. So it looks like philosophy but it all applies to a meaningless question... (Source)
Carl Sagan is considered one of the greatest scientific minds of our time. His remarkable ability to explain science in terms easily understandable to the layman in bestselling books such as Cosmos, The Dragons of Eden, and The Demon-Haunted World won him a Pulitzer Prize and placed him firmly next to Isaac Asimov, Stephen Jay Gould, and Oliver Sachs as one... more
Jerry CoyneOf all these books, this is the one that resonates most for me. It was edited by his wife and published in 2006. It’s a distillation of the Gifford Lectures, a very prestigious series of lectures given in Scotland, endowed to give famous people a chance to talk about natural theology i.e. the relationship between science and religion. They’ve been going more than 100 years by now and they gave... (Source)
Yet The Origin of Species (1859) is also a humane and inspirational vision of ecological interrelatedness, revealing the complex mutual interdependencies between animal and plant life, climate and physical environment, and—by implication—within the human world.
Written for the general reader, in a style... more
Neil deGrasse TysonWhich books should be read by every single intelligent person on planet? [...] On the Origin of Species (Darwin) [to learn of our kinship with all other life on Earth]. If you read all of the above works you will glean profound insight into most of what has driven the history of the western world. (Source)
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