Re: Hello, can anyone help?

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Sat 15 Feb 2003 - 23:38:53 GMT

  • Next message: Steve Drew: "Hello, can anyone help?"

    >From: Keith Henson <>
    >Subject: Re: Hello, can anyone help?
    >Date: Fri, 14 Feb 2003 23:44:52 -0500
    >At 10:57 AM 14/02/03 -0500, you wrote:
    >>> --- Martha Granger <> wrote: >
    >>> > He told me that he would read 10
    >>> > books of my choosing
    >1. Selfish Gene. It was written before Dawkins became so exasperated with
    >creationists. Have him read the Second Ed.
    >"Selfish Gene" Dawkins gives 16,500 hits in Google.
    >2. Evolution of Cooperation by Axelrod is a requirement if you want to
    >engage in useful discussion in this area. Small book, very well done, and
    >not at all dated in close to 20 years. Basic Books
    >"Evolution of Cooperation" (using the quotes) in Google offers up 12,000
    >3. The Ascent of Mind: Ice Age Climates and the Evolution of Intelligence
    >by William H. Calvin
    >"William Calvin" gets 10,200 Google hits.
    >4. The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation
    >by Matt Ridley
    >"Matt Ridley" evolution gets 4120 links.
    >5. The Moral Animal, by Robert Wright. Why We Are the Way We Are : The
    >New Science of Evolutionary Psychology. 1995 Gives an excellent overview
    >of evolutionary psychology in layman's terms. His new book Non-Zero has a
    >lot of memetic implications.
    >" Moral Animal" "Robert Wright" gives 2850 links
    >6. The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating David Buss's 1995
    >"David Buss" gets about 2100 links in Google. There is a really good
    >interview here:
    >7. The Social Brain by Michael Gazzaniga (1985). New York: Basic Books.
    > Michael lays out the evidence of the modular nature of our brains and how
    >the modules, while doing the best they can, still make errors.
    >"Michael Gazzaniga" gets 1490 Google hits.
    >8. Sperm wars by Robin Baker "Most of the book is about heterosexual sex,
    >and a lot of it is about female instinctual programming ..."
    >[I remember being kind of horrified when reading this book--but it was
    >impossible to dismiss knowing what I did about evolution.]
    >"Sperm wars" in Google gives 1180 links.
    >I only put in one per author, though some of these authors have done a
    >number of other interesting books, Dawkins, of course, Calvin, Ridley (Red
    >Queen in particular) and Gazzaniga. Calvin's more recent book, The
    >Cerebral Code: Thinking a Thought in the Mosaics of the Mind, invokes
    >evolution on a time scale of milliseconds to minutes as we evolve noise
    >through a number of grammar and meaning selection cycles into speech.
    >"Evolution as an on-the-fly Brain Process I tend to think that the fancier
    >mental processes (language, planning, music, logic) utilize a form of
    >Darwinian process that operates in milliseconds to minutes."
    >I could think of a dozen more that are less closely related to evolution,
    >but support it in various ways. Minsky's Society of Mind supports
    >Gazzaniga and Calvin. (Marvin Minsky in Google, 19200) Born To Rebel,
    >Birth Order, Family Dynamics, and Creative Lives by Frank J. Sulloway (Born
    >to Rebel, 1570 links)
    >My particular views on memetics and the evolution of ideas are not exactly
    >represented by any of the better known memetics books.
    >[THOUGHT CONTAGION How Belief Spreads Through Society by Aaron Lynch.
    >"Aaron Lynch" 3260 links in Google
    >Virus of the Mind, by Richard Brodie "Virus of the Mind" Brodie 2340
    >The Meme Machine, Susan Blackmore (3160 links)]
    >Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life by Daniel
    >Dennett might be the closest, but he does not spend a lot of ink on the
    >subject. There is a fairly good review here:
    >"darwin's dangerous idea" 6570 links
    >"darwin's dangerous idea" memetics 606 links
    >It is perhaps a bit pretentious for me to suggest the article you can find
    >with "sex drugs cults henson" in Google. For what it is worth, the
    >author's name in Google and "Cryonics OR Nanotechnology OR meme OR
    >memetics OR scientology" (to try to weed out the jazz player, gay porn
    >star, and NASA guys of the same name) gives 19000 links.
    >Keith Henson
    >PS, the article should be the last thing he reads, not the first. :-)
    I thought Martha was looking for books that would give a god overview of evolution, where it seems most of the books you suggest may lean more towards behavioral topics. I had suggested Mayr's recent book, because he gives a decent, though biased, overview of the topic and is quite knowledgable and reputable. Martha might be looking for something that addresses the evolutioncreation controvesry head on, which I'm at a loss for right now.

    Does anybody know any good books that address the evolution/creation controversy that are approachable to someone with Biblical leanings?

    Mayr has several suggestions in his _What Evolution Is_ book, including:

    Douglas Futuyma. 1983. Science on Trial: the Case for Evolution. Pantheon Books, New York

    Niles Eldredge. 2000. The Triumph of Evolution and the Failure of Creationism. WH Freeman. New York

    Philip Kitcher. 1982. Abusing Science: the Case Against Creaationism. MIT Press Cambridge Mass


    Michael Ruse. 1982. Darwinism Defended. Addison-Wesley, Reading Mass

    There's a several more listed by Mayr on page 4 of the hardcover edition of his book (which should be available on shelf in many bookstores still). I'm not sure which of these books would be best.

    Another resource that may be of some help is the website:

    where there's an archive and FAQ.

    As for memetics and other behaviorally related disciplines with evolutionary relevance there's Kevin Laland and Gillian Brown's recent _Sense & Nonsense_ which does a good job of providing overviews. I thought it was a fair and reasonable balanced treatment of the subjects such as memetics and evolutionary psychology. Martha might be more interested in this one, where the person who offered to read 10 books might do well to read some of Mayr's suggestions of some basic sources covering modern evolutionary biology in summarized overview.

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