Friday, 20 August 2010
Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters by DR Prothero
First of all I like all the small unimportant things about it. It's a hardback, and a good quality one, with heavy paper and a lovely cover, and colour plates, and nice margins for scribbling notes, and a thorough index and bibliography (breathe). Best of all of these things it has a comprehensive further reading list at the end of every chapter. Joy.
Second and, of course, far more important than all that stuff, this guy knows his stuff, isn't afraid of saying when he doesn't know stuff, or isn't sure about stuff, and he has actually done the science stuff (ok well not all of it).
Comprehensive coverage of the politics and religion behind the creationist agenda methods and arguments and a comprehensive take down of why they are wrong. An understanding of what science is and how it works shows us that creationists are 'not even wrong' in the sense that they aren't even doing science. A brief history of the brief history of creationism (it is very modern). A tour of fossilisation, dating, 'flood geology', the grand canyon and quote mining followed by a potted history of the evolution of evolution and a list of the main kinds of evidence supporting evolution as a fact of history (aside from fossils) and a quick summary of the current understanding out how it works..
But this is just a warm up for Prothero, next he brings out the oft neglected big guns and gives us a comprehensive overview of some of the main lines of fossil evidence supporting the modern synthesis. Diagrams, photos, anecdotes and of course plenty of places to go next if you want to dig deeper.
I'm doing a couple of talks to BHA folks later in the year on creationism in the UK and I have found a few gems to work into my talk somewhere.
Wit and wisdom, hard facts and open acknowledgement of what we don't know makes him my kind of author.
Five out of five stars.