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Dawkins vs. Gould (Kim Sterelny, 2001)

Check for this book.

ISBN 1-8404-6249-3

An enjoyable read; the pages practically turn themselves. Sterelny has made a good job of representing his subjects' sometimes subtle arguments. This is a harder task than might appear, for both Gould and Dawkins share a good deal of common ground, and the divergence of their opinions generally takes place beyond the point where most people's interest in evolution has already ceased. To explain these differences, and to make them interesting, is quite an achievement.

So it is a real pity that his accomplishment is compromised by a number of superficial errors. Some of these appear to be simple carelessness, such as referring to the Cambrian Period as an era (p. 11). Others, such as using the example of beetles to introduce the concept of phyla or the unfortunate figure 4, are more concerning because they are less readily explained as 'typos' and thus cast doubt upon the author's biological or geological knowledge, thereby undermining his authority. However, there is only one point where I vehemently disagree with Sterelny and that is in his assertion (p. 140) that "macroevolution is not just microevolution scaled up." Well, actually, unless one is going to invoke saltation on an unprecedented scale - and frankly I think I'd feel more comfortable with divine intervention! - then that is pretty much what you are left with. Macroevolution really is microevolution scaled up.

Recommendation: Recommended.

Look and Feel: My edition is the usual matt-finish paperback with some lines drawings and a few grainy b&w photographs.

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