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What Darwin Didn’t Know: The Modern Science of Evolution  By  cover art

What Darwin Didn’t Know: The Modern Science of Evolution

By: Scott Solomon,The Great Courses
Narrated by: Scott Solomon
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Publisher's summary

Charles Darwin's remarkable On the Origin of Species was a groundbreaking work that fundamentally altered how scientists approached the study of life itself. However, since its publication in 1859, the modern science of biology and genetics has added surprising new dimensions to evolutionary theory.

In this course, you’ll discover what Darwin didn’t know, covering much of the curriculum of an introductory college course in evolutionary biology. No background in science is needed to follow these engaging lectures, delivered by Professor Scott Solomon of Rice University, a gifted teacher and widely traveled field biologist. 

Dr. Solomon reveals how the many gaps and mysteries in the evolutionary theory of Darwin’s day were systematically solved by brilliant researchers, such as Gregor Mendel, Thomas Hunt Morgan, Theodosius Dobzhansky, Rosalind Franklin, James Watson, Francis Crick, Motoo Kimura, and a host of others, who have brought the world into a golden age of biological research. 

Your lessons begin by laying the foundation of Darwin’s theory. Then, you’ll move forward in time, and hear how advances in genetics, molecular biology, paleontology, and even geology have given Darwin’s ideas more depth, and in some cases, turned them on their heads. You’ll uncover how DNA reconstruction has allowed us to gain a clearer picture of evolutionary history and explore the vital role of heredity in the millions of species known today - including species Darwin himself never even dreamed would exist. Throughout these lectures, you’ll apply modern evolutionary theory to better understand the breeding of plants, animals, and genetically modified organisms. Finally, you’ll hear how the cutting-edge science of gene editing is being used to influence evolution, and you’ll peer into the future to gauge the prospects for further evolution of our own species.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2019 The Great Courses (P)2019 The Teaching Company, LLC

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Amazing journey.

As a physician I've always been interested in how evolution of past events might affect present problems in patients. This is been an amazing journey and I really appreciated and learned a lot from this book. I actually visited the Burgis Schale site. In Canada and it was the best part of the whole trip.

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10 people found this helpful

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Lectures like a school girl

While the subject matter is interesting I can’t stand the way this guy seems to read the whole lecture from a script. I also can’t stand his constant upticks and downticks.

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8 people found this helpful

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Excellent and clear

Extremely lucid and well organized presentation. Only very rarely (when discussing letter patterns of DNA code) did the narrative become a little too technical for audio format only. Otherwise, one of the best in the Great Courses series I've heard.

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7 people found this helpful

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Like having a term paper read to you for 12 hours

I appreciate the author's depth of knowledge but the presentation of the material is rather tedious.

If you don't mind the same repetitive statement-as-a-question and rise-and-fall vocal inflections over and over while the cluttered PDF is basically read to you for 12 hours then you might enjoy this, but I'm trying to finish it and am disappointed in the product so far.

Specifically, I think the way the information itself is organized could use some punching up and editing to create better flow. Some sentences and paragraphs are too choppy in structure while others are just blunt recitation of researched fact. The subjects of the sentences shift too frequently within paragraphs, which makes the delivery of the already fractured material even more scattered.

It's a nice looking PDF, but it needs a skilled editor and narrator to be a good audiobook.

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So much has been added to the knowledge of evolution.

When I studied biology and evolution in college and high school I guess I ended up with the idea that pretty much everything was known about the subject. These lectures showed me the amazing amount of knowledge that has been added in the past 50 years.

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Pretty good

I like reading about evolution. This book served as a good overview of advances since Darwin's day and of general theory.
I will say however, that compared to other literature on the subject, it was not especially compelling or well written. Still enjoyable all the same. I recommend "the moral animal" as a personal favorite for those interested in the subject.

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Start Slowly, Taper Off from There

I learned much about evolutionary genetics, and some about Darwin. I was hoping the balance might have gone the other way. So much of this course is very interesting, but for listeners without much scientific background, it can be a bit of a slog at times. For me, that meant that Solomon's consistent grammar issues (E.g., he doesn't, for instance, seem to know the difference between "you and I" and "you and me" and routinely settles the verb on the last spoken noun rather than than subject) were ongoing distractions from DNA and RNA sequences that flew right over my head. Still, I have gleaned what I hope is a useful starting point in understanding evolution.

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The good bad and ugly

Good

Really good historical context of evolution science. Very entertaining and informational. Lots of experiment based details. Very enjoyable. Unusual recognition of rapid evolution was surprising in a good way.

Bad

Research experiments presented as definitive solutions without any recognition of scientific criticism of the results. Good for a Jr High presentation, but not for adults.

The Ugly

The lecturer’s uncritical attachment to the modern synthesis of Darwinism via random mutation is ugly. Hello, have you ever heard of mutation via lateral gene transfer?

The really ugly

The Dawkins’s random phrase generator as a simulation of evolution via random mutation is really ugly. Only people without any knowledge of statistics would reference it. This is a debunked experiment that would fail a high school statistics class. Sampling without replacement is comically bad.

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  • 05-19-19

Fantastic lectures on evolution

I absolutely loved this audiobook. The lectures are easy to follow and very interesting. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in biology. After all, "nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution." - Dobzhansky

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Great summary!

This succinct and organized summary of what we knew (in 2019) has just a few chapters that simply describe unusual animals. It focus mainly on how they got that way. It's a.great review if you already know the "basics" and is likely to offer food for thought.for professionals in the field.

The lecturer uses "uptalk" which, if you're familiar with it? you might like? but I find it annoying.

That is easy to get used to, though, and I highly recommend this course.

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1 person found this helpful