Customer Review

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, 22 Jun 2008
This review is from: The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution (Hardcover)
All species' lifeforms are encoded in DNA sequences. In Humans this is 7 billion characters long. During replication, not all characters are copied correctly. For example, in humans it is estimated 125 or so are copied incorrectly. In certain cases this can mean the resultant amino acids and proteins, which the DNA encodes will be different. This is a mutation. If the mutation provides an advantage, natural selection will mean it is probable it will propagate throughout the species.

DNA provides detail of the mirco mechanisms and strong evidence when critical events happened in evolutionary history. We don't actually need a fossil record to explain evolution. This is the main theisis in this book.

For example, Old World Monkeys and Apes have trichromatic vision whereas New World monkeys are just dichromats. Why? When? How? Carroll explains all in succinct detail by locating the exact location of the relevant gene and then working through the sequence of events.

He uses simple mathematics, running through some probability examples and statistics analysis to the point that one has a full understand of the mirco details, feeling there are no "missing links". It's reductionism at its very best.

He then shows why understanding infectious diseases requires understanding evolution. We are involved in germ warfare. For example, in areas where malaria or typhoid fever is endemic, the genetic profiles of humans shows that they have evolved genes which provide resistance to some forms of these diseases. The problem of course is that these diseases are also evolving (not just to human resistance but to the antibiotics that are used to treat them). Our hole approach to combating these diseases is shaped by our understanding of evolution - right at the level of DNA. For example, it is the reason why triple antiretroviral drugs are used in treating HIV AIDS.

Carroll is superb at explaining micro details. The only criticism I would have is a quick run through speciation and the Popperian scientific method would have helped many who do not understand the big picture, how evolution explains new species being created and how the scientific method validates that explaination. Even though 20 minutes on google will give all that, it would have been helpful for those who do not have any scientific acumen.

The book concludes with some of the challenges facing Science. This may manifest in many forms from political circles to religious fundamentalists. When one factors in pertinent realities such as climate change it only becomes all too obvious how important it is we have a scientific understanding of the world and we make the best judgments from that.

I have read several books on evolution and this right up there with the best. It's just as good as anything I have read from Dawkins and doesn't have any of the caustic anti-religion undertones. He explicitly states that the Pope John Paul II publicly accepted evolution as do most Protestants Churches; Christian creationists and fundamentalists are really only a minority.

It is a book which contains superb explanations of the micro details of evolution. It is full of helpful diagrams, charts and graphs which really help understand the concepts being explained. Don't get it from the library, buy it because you'll want to keep it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
 


Review Details

Item

4.6 out of 5 stars (13 customer reviews)
5 star:
 (8)
4 star:
 (5)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
Used & New from: 1.62
Add to wishlist
Reviewer


Top Reviewer Ranking: 34,361