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The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution | [Richard Dawkins]

The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution

The Greatest Show on Earth is a stunning counterattack on advocates of "Intelligent Design," explaining the evidence for evolution while exposing the absurdities of the creationist "argument". Dawkins sifts through rich layers of scientific evidence: from living examples of natural selection to clues in the fossil record; from natural clocks that mark the vast epochs wherein evolution ran its course to the intricacies of developing embryos; from plate tectonics to molecular genetics.
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Publisher's Summary

In 2008, a Gallup poll showed that 44 percent of Americans believed God had created man in his present form within the last 10,000 years. In a Pew Forum poll in the same year, 42 percent believed that all life on earth has existed in its present form since the beginning of time.

In 1859 Charles Darwin's masterpiece, On the Origin of Species, shook society to its core. Darwin was only too aware of the storm his theory of evolution would provoke. But he surely would have raised an incredulous eyebrow at the controversy still raging a century and a half later.

Evolution is accepted as scientific fact by all reputable scientists and indeed theologians, yet millions of people continue to question its veracity. Now the author of the iconic work The God Delusion takes them to task.

The Greatest Show on Earth is a stunning counterattack on advocates of "Intelligent Design", explaining the evidence for evolution while exposing the absurdities of the creationist "argument". Dawkins sifts through rich layers of scientific evidence: from living examples of natural selection to clues in the fossil record; from plate tectonics to molecular genetics. Combining these elements and many more, he makes the airtight case that "we find ourselves perched on one tiny twig in the midst of a blossoming and flourishing tree of life and it is no accident, but the direct consequence of evolution by non-random selection."

The Greatest Show on Earth comes at a critical time: systematic opposition to the fact of evolution is menacing as never before. In American schools, and in schools around the world, insidious attempts are made to undermine the status of science in the classroom. Dawkins wields a devastating argument against this ignorance, but his unjaded passion for the natural world turns what might have been a negative argument into a positive offering to the reader: nothing less than a master's vision of life, in all its splendor.

Download the accompanying reference guide.

©2009 Richard Dawkins; (P)2009 Simon & Schuster

What the Critics Say

"If Charles Darwin walked into a 21st-century bookstore and wanted to know how his theory had fared, this is the book he should pick up. Dawkins remains a superb translator of complex scientific concepts....he has a way of making the drollest details feel like a revelation." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Daniel Hofman 02-12-15
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    "Fantastic teacher"

    Dawkins is a fantastic teacher of evolutionary science. He has a thorough understanding of what concepts need to be emphasized and what can be glossed over while still maintaining interest. I really enjoyed listening to him.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Aggies 02-03-15
    Aggies 02-03-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Greatest scientific book"

    I learned so much and gained as much knowledge from reading this book. Dawkins brings a lot of great examples to demonstrate principles of evolution.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris 01-23-15
    Chris 01-23-15 Member Since 2008

    Science and philosophy buff

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    "Dawkins at his best"

    a really good walk through of the very compelling evidence for evolution. I have listened to it several times and enjoyed each pass.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    qwertyuiop 01-01-15
    qwertyuiop 01-01-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Comprehensive and interesting"
    If you could sum up The Greatest Show on Earth in three words, what would they be?

    DNA phylogenetic trees


    What did you like best about this story?

    It gives a comprehensive overview of all of the evidence for evolution. When I first started the book, I thought it was mostly aimed at people who are not very familiar with evolution. Not for people like me who already know about the evidence. However, I now have a much better understanding.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    "The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are being slowly devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all kinds
    are dying of starvation, thirst and disease. It must be so. If there is ever a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored."

    I had never realized this before. How come people don't seem to care much about wild-animal suffering?

    The part about the scientist who was describing his work to a man on an airplane, and the man was mesmirized. When the man asked the scientist what the theory behind his research was, the scientist replied "Darwin's Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection". The man's face "went red; abruptly, he turned away, refused to speak further". So sad. Creationism ruined that man's ability to learn about the amazingness of science.


    Any additional comments?

    The main problem is that in the first chapter he goes all anti-God, and he probably alienates the people who need to learn about the evidence for evolution.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matt 12-30-14
    Matt 12-30-14
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    "Informative and irrefutable"

    The one drawback is the extent to which Dawkins goes into repetitious detail on things like taxonomy and embryology, but that's all.

    What a great start for beginning a lesson in evolution. He covers everything from geology to alien microbes. A full arsenal for evolutionists and atheists alike. Makes you want to revert to college and switch to biology.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Claidhmore 10-23-14
    Claidhmore 10-23-14 Member Since 2005

    claidhmore

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    "Audio Format May Not Be the Best"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    The message of the book is important and the information presented is excellent. However, I struggled with the audiobook format. I'm a voracious audiobook listener but this one didn't work for me and I believe it would have been better in Kindle/hardcopy form. Additionally, I especially disliked the switching back and forth in narration between Dawkins and Lalla Ward. I think either of them would have been good narrators but I don't think the amount of switching worked for this topic.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Richard Dawkins? Why or why not?

    Yes - The message is important and Dawkins is an excellent thinker/author. I'm not sure I would listen to another audiobook but would probably read it instead.


    What three words best describe Richard Dawkins and Lalla Ward ’s performance?

    Disjointed, offputting


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    No


    Any additional comments?

    Even if you don't listen to the audiobook consider the Kindle/hardcopy edition as the topic, information and points are important.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steve Wynnewood, PA, United States 09-20-14
    Steve Wynnewood, PA, United States 09-20-14 Member Since 2014

    I rate as follows: 5-Best of the best, 4-LOVED it, 3-LIKED it, 2-Meh, 1-Didn't like it. Fav genres: sci-fi/fantasy, fiction, science

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    "Super Fascinating!"

    Even though I am a scientist (though not a biologist), I must admit that I had only a basic understanding of evolution before listening to this book. Not only do I now know the varied and mutually reinforcing evidence for evolution, but I have gained a much greater appreciation of the elegance and beauty of evolution. This book was an absolute joy to listen to, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to have their mind blown by learning about the astonishing miracle of life which we largely take for granted.

    My only complaint is that Richard Dawkins has such a great voice, I don't understand why there is a second narrator. It seems like sometimes they switch at points where there might be something like a sidebar in the text (just guessing), but otherwise it seems like they just alternate passages for no particular reason. Laila Ward also has a nice voice, and does a very good job, but I, for one, would have preferred to have Dawkins narrate the whole thing.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert 08-01-14
    Robert 08-01-14 Member Since 2015
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    "Very in-depth and very insightful"

    This book is a must for anyone who wants to know more about evolution. Really, it should be a required text for anyone interested in science at all. Dawkins work is extensive and every point he makes is new and fresh. The book features several examples and boatloads of real, easy to understand evidence. It will be hard for just about anyone to read this book and doubt evolution ever again. It was a fantastic and eye-opening book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C Cary, NC, United States 05-12-14
    C Cary, NC, United States 05-12-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Explanative for so much"
    Where does The Greatest Show on Earth rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I was unpleasantly shocked to hear the statistics of my fellow humans being so ignorant to reject natural selection, in that was the largest argument that it exists. I am quite serious.

    But a wonderful informative fact packed and postulating book. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your experiences. It must be fun to just use your mind and be surrounded by many interesting thoughts. Wonderful thanks again.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Clancy Durham, NC 12-09-13
    David Clancy Durham, NC 12-09-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Truly Awesome Read"
    Where does The Greatest Show on Earth rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Dawkins shines here on this topic and his knowledge of evolution is truly vast. These aren't just old arguments and evidence that you've heard a thousand times over. This book contains mountains of evidence, some of which was only discovered in the publication year.


    What does Richard Dawkins and Lalla Ward bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Having Dawkins read his own work, in my opinion, brings a lot to this book. He knows where to place the emphases and how to make everything flow. His wit clearly comes through and it really is entertaining to listen to.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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