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The Modern Scholar: Evolutionary Biology, Part 1

Darwinian Revolutions
Narrated by: Allen D. MacNeill
Length: 7 hrs and 57 mins
4 out of 5 stars (20 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

With Evolutionary Psychology I and II, Allen D. MacNeill of Cornell University led a thought-provoking series of lectures on why people do the things they do. In Evolutionary Biology I, MacNeill addresses a different side of the coin by examining the biological component, from Charles Darwin’s and Gregor Mendel’s “dangerous ideas” to contemporary thought leaders and the forming of the modern synthesis of this vital field of study.

©2011 Allen D. MacNeill (P)2011 Recorded Books, LLC

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No Part 2 Audible available ?

This is an interesting and clear book, if a little slow.

It bothered me a little that fully the first 4-5 chapters are so basic and often seem to be covering intelligent design as much as they cover evolution.

You have to get 6 chapters into the book before it even starts to talk about evolution and Darwin, but it does explain well.

Aside from too much emphasis on creationism, even if it is as a negative, or inserted to make the creationists feel better, it does correctly criticism creationism as not scientific.

But I did enjoy that the book goes back into history to the ancient Greeks and shows that there were very advanced ideas back then beginning with the Ionians and their ideas of science. One wonders where we would all be today if these ideas had taken hold and had thousands of years to grow rather than religion and all the wars we have had.

The existence of a Part 1 implies that there is a part 2, but I do not see it in Audible.com.

While I enjoy and have bought many good non-fiction books at Audible, there is a real shortage of good scientific or educational books such as this one that I would love to see corrected. Another book called the "Making Of The Fittest" has more descriptions of evolution and its terms and ideas which I highly recommend.

One thing that bothers me a bit is that whenever they read Darwin the narrator switches to this feeble old high-pitched voiced, like a doddering old man with a fake British accent. It's a small price to have to pay, but I don't really understand why they feel the need to do that, at some times it is almost comedic and can detract from the ideas being presented.

Evolutionary Biology, Part 1: Darwinian Revolutions is both entertaining and educational. I recommend the book, but I am hungry for more, so I really want to see part 2 available as soon as possible. Part 3 anyone?

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Euryleia
  • Fountain Valley, CA United States
  • 03-19-13

Interesting content, unfortunate delivery.

The information in this lecture was interesting and well organized but the lecturer delivered every quoted passage- and there were a lot of them- in cringingly bad accents which was, to say the least, distracting.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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More so a history and a philosophical defense.

I bought this because I wanted to learn more about how evolution functioned. I did somewhat, but I learned a great deal more about the history of the modern evolutionary theory synthesis and the various ironies that accompanied it. The author seems to be aware he's lecturing on a touchy subject so he makes a point to make his progressive orthodoxy unmistakable. At the same time, I have to wonder if the choice to place the grisly history of what the theory of evolution has been used to justify after the section on the unmooring philosophical implications of a science based worldview is meant to drive home the gravity of Darwin's intellectual significance, or simply as a way to cover his behind in the event that he is accused of relativism or the ideas he goes on to discuss.

He seems to take great issue with the politicization of science (as do I) but he does a better job of defending the legitimacy of evolution than explaining its operation. I wish he had more confidence in the ability of quality science to stand on its own merits instead of apologizing for any unsavory philosophies that could be extrapolated from a naturalistic worldview. Additionally, the narrator would have probably been well advised not to do some many accents. They sounded a little like cartoon versions of the dialects they were intended to reference.

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History and Concepts Woven Together

This is a thorough history of the major players and concepts in the development of evolutionary biology , from pre-Darwinian creationist natural history to the Modern Synthesis that combined Darwin's theory of evolution through natural selection with Mendelian genetics. In the last lecture, it previews Part 2: everything that has been discovered in evolutionary biology since 1959 (the centennial celebration of Darwin's theories that marked the widespread acceptance of the Modern Synthesis). I can't wait!

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  • Jose
  • Lavista, NE, United States
  • 02-23-12

Attention grabbing

Any additional comments?

There is interesting information in this audio about this great science. However, you might laugh as this scientist denies free will, and argues philosophical questions on a one-sided manner. Good intro though.

3 of 6 people found this review helpful