A sweeping tour of the mechanics of evolution from the Science Guy.
“Science is the way we know nature and our place within it,” writes Nye, who is open-minded and curious but also someone who likes the best explanations devised by the human project: “In science, a hypothesis should not only explain the evidence we have found,” he writes, “it should also make predictions about things not yet discovered....Science is inherently work in progress.” What kind of evidence do we have about evolution; what kind of dynamic thinking, informed by all we have experienced, can we bring to its understanding? What method of inquiry allows us to advance our understanding? Nye neatly deconstructs the arguments against evolution, from basic mistakes of biology and physics to more cosmological concerns—that the naysayers “avoid the exploration of evolution because it reminds us all that humankind may not be that special in nature’s scheme. What happens to other species also happens to us”—and he takes very seriously the problems posed by introducing creationism to school curriculums around the country. While he has no trouble sinking his teeth into the creationists and anti-evolution activists, Nye really takes flight when he is trying to puzzle out how we get here from there or considering the strangeness of sexual selection (“Consider the peacock, the epitome of costly signaling”). In addition to Darwin, the author examines the contributions of a host of scientists from a variety of disciplines, including biology, geology and genetics. With the smoothness and encouragement that mark his writing, Nye suggests that “[t]he only way to get the answers is to keep looking at living things and learning more about the process by which we all came to be.”
Proof positive that evolutionary theory can be popular and inviting.