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The Pony Fish's Glow: And Other Clues To Plan And Purpose In Nature Paperback – 25 Sep 1998

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About the Author

George C. Williams taught at the State University of New York at Stony Brook for thirty years where he was instrumental in establishing the Marine Science Research Center and the Department of Ecology and Evolution, from which he retired in 1990. He has earned many honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, election to the National Academy of Sciences, and recognition as Ecologist of the Year in 1989 by the Ecological Society of America.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4 reviews
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
pretty good: read Dawkins and Ridley first though 16 Nov. 2003
By Wyote - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book because Richard Dawkins called it a classic in an endnote. It's not bad, and if you enjoy reading about biology you'll certainly enjoy it.
But I'd recommend books by Richard Dawkins, especially "River Out of Eden," and Matt Ridley, especially "The Red Queen," and "Genome," ahead of this one. Williams also wrote "Why we Get Sick." Although the writing in "Pony Fish" is better, "Why we Get Sick" has a lot more information for the curious, and you might prefer it if you've read a bit of Dawkins and Ridley already.
In this book, Williams basically explains adaptionist storytelling and shows the coherence and power of modern Darwinism. To readers of Dawkins and Ridley, there will be very little new information. But it won't bore you either. He covers material such as the perfections and flaws of bodies, the evolution of sexuality and the human experience of reproduction. Again, Ridley and Dawkins cover all this in more depth, and they are more readable authors.
The highlight of the book is the last chapter, "Philosophical Implications." It's fairly understated; but it's interesting to see a great scientist take a stab at the religious and philosophical significance of his science. If there's a reason to read the book, it's just because George Williams wrote it, and you probably don't have the privilege of sitting down with him for coffee and picking his brain. This is what he'd tell you if he had the chance, and it's an opportunity to listen.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Essential ideas. 21 Jan. 2003
By Luc REYNAERT - Published on
Format: Paperback
Besides his excellent explanations of 'past evolutions' and the 'evolution at work', the author discusses some essential religious, moral and scientific items.
With bees and ants as examples, Prof. Williams explains clearly that the Darwinist evolution is about genes, not about living beings. He also discusses the advantage of sex and aging for a successful gene reproduction.
Other important remarks are, firstly, the fact that the brain erupted only to propel genetic success, not to investigate philosophical or other problems. Secondly, there is a probable discrepancy between adaptations dated from the Stone Age and our actual living conditions, which could be at the origin of actual defects (e. g. myopia) or inadaptations.
But the more important items lay on a different level.
On the religious front, Prof. Williams attacks righteously the God-is-good gospel. Living beings on earth have only one purpose: the success of their own genes. This brings us to a second very important point: natural selection, albeit stupid, is a story of 'unending arms races, slaughter and sufferings'. It is a law of nature and its immorality has to be accepted and, at least, to be thought about.
On the scientific front, the author castigates what he calls domain (field) confusion: the mingling of physics, morality, mind and data processing.
A frequent example is the mixing of the biological (the working of the brain) and the data processing fields.
But more important is the mix up of religion and biology. Prof. Williams declares courageously that it is biologically speaking untenable to declare that a human being exists from the moment of conception. Only a full-term baby is that.
This book attacks essential everyday problems and is a must read.
Fast shipping 2 Sept. 2013
By Felicia - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I always get my school books used so there's always a risk that it will be beat up or ripped or suffering from water damage or stained or whatever. This book was perfect. Perfect book and perfect condition.
clear thinking 23 April 2012
By Ken Braithwaite - Published on
Format: Paperback
George Williams is one of the clearest thinkers in biology. Here he covers a wide range of topics related to Darwinism, with admirable and tough minded clarity. Super.
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