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Edmund Blair Bolles : Educated in St. Louis and Philadelphia, he spent two years in Tanzania, East Africa, as a Peace Corps volunteer. Bolles currently lives in New York
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Obres de Edmund Blair Bolles


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For those who enjoy the literary side of science. Excellent choice of essays and excerpts to include. It helps if you know a little bit about a lot of different science fields. The quantum mechanics and relativity are probably going to be the most challenging for most people.
Gumbywan | Jun 24, 2022 |
I read this book for my research methods course. It was assigned because this book tells the story of how scientists "discovered" the Ice Age. In order to discover the Ice Age, scientists had to put away a lot of what they believed were facts and look at the evidence. There are accounts of scientists who looked at the evidence and still dismissed the theory of an Ice Age. Thus, it's a great book to show how the same facts have been interpreted to support two sides of a theory.

The author was quite snarky though, so that took a lot from the story.… (més)
roniweb | Hi ha 6 ressenyes més | May 30, 2019 |
This book is like the little girl who had the little curl: When it is good, it is very very good, but when it is bad, it is rotten.

The conceit of the book is to take a museum tour through evolution, from the time the human lineage split from chimpanzees to the present day, and see how speech arose in the course of this journey.

It's a cute idea, although no museum could ever afford as much space as Bolles wants to devote to his exhibits. What bothers me, though, is the assumptions he makes. Sometimes he confesses to it, and sometimes he explains his logic (as when, e.g., he explains his dating for how we lost our most of our hair) -- but too often he doesn't, and too often there are obvious alternatives which he ignores.

Another trait of the book may not bother you as much as it bothers me: Bolles is a group selectionist (the argument for this starts on about page 68). That is, he doesn't believe in gene-level selection -- the so-called "selfish gene" theory. Oh, he waves it away as "multi-level selection." And multi-level selection is true. Absolutely it's true. But not the way Bolles does it. Most of evolution is about game theory -- developing strategies that have the highest reproductive payoff. What instantly falls out of game theory is that individuals compete to survive. You know the story: If two mice are being chased by a cat, to survive, one of the mice doesn't have to be faster than the cat, it just has to be faster than the other mouse.

But that model of evolution is sufficient only if survival is a zero-sum game. And it is not. Richard Dawkins, who gave us the term "selfish gene," noted that his book could just as well have been labelled "The Cooperative Gene." In many situations, cooperation pays off, and you don't need group selection to develop cooperation -- you just need memory and an appropriate ability to develop a strategy and what economists call "economies of scale." (e.g. if two hunters can capture more than twice as much food as one alone -- which they usually can). If cooperating with your neighbor means that you will have twice as many kids as you would otherwise, it doesn't matter if he has twice as many kids too; you're still getting ahead of the non-cooperators. Once they're gone, then you may start competing against other cooperators -- by labelling them "Republicans" or "Democrats," e.g. If you read this book without knowing the proper evolutionary theory, you'll get the whole idea wrong.

As you can probably tell by all the space I devoted to that point, the way Bolles presented that really, really bugged me. Bugged me enough that I had to slow down my reading of this book so that I could try to gather the gold amidst the dross and not just, for instance, toss it across the room.

I suppose the bottom line is this: author Bolles (who I suspect has a very active visual imagination) saw a series of pictures in his mind, and wanted to write them down. Ultimately, he wanted to write a novel. But how do you write a novel that accurately tells the details of human evolution (or the details as he imagined them, anyway)? Such a book probably couldn't get printed. So we got this. It's a novel disguised as non-fiction. I personally don't care for novels -- I prefer true non-fiction. But for someone who likes novels, this might be quite interesting. As long as you are aware of the rotten bits, anyway.
… (més)
1 vota
waltzmn | Sep 24, 2017 |
Scientific history, which explores how the Ice Ages went from being a lunatic theory dismissed by every reputable scientist to a valid, generally accepted explanation. Laymen who assume that scientists behave in a generally rational manner and carefully examine facts and evidence to reach conclusions will find this little volume an eye-opener.
BruceCoulson | Hi ha 6 ressenyes més | Mar 14, 2014 |


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