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Jerry Coyne

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Jerry Allen Coyne is an American biologist known for his work on speciation and his commentary on intelligent design. A prolific scientist and author, he has published numerous papers elucidating the theory of evolution.
9 books on the list
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As Gods book cover
As Gods
A Moral History of the Genetic Age
Matthew Cobb - 2022-11-15
Goodreads Rating
The thrilling and terrifying history of genetic engineering  In 2018, scientists manipulated the DNA of human babies for the first time. As biologist and historian Matthew Cobb shows in As Gods, this achievement was one many scientists have feared from the start of the genetic age. Four times in the last fifty years, geneticists, frightened by thei...
Jerry Coyne
This is an excellent book (I know because I read an early draft and made comments), and the NYT, like Science and the WSJ, gave it a stellar review. It deserves it. Buy it, and maybe Matthew will buy me a few beers.      source
Life's Greatest Secret book cover
Life's Greatest Secret
The Race to Crack the Genetic Code
Matthew Cobb - 2015-07-07
Goodreads Rating
Scientists and laypeople alike now know that our genomes contain information that can help us to interpret our evolutionary past. Just a half century ago, this idea was revolutionary. In April 1953, James Watson and Francis Crick published in Nature their groundbreaking work revealing the double helix structure of DNA. While this discovery received...
Jerry Coyne
A nice article by Matthew showing how scientists found that the genetic code was a triplet code and details how it was decoded. If you want to go deeper, I highly recommend his book (written for the curious layperson), "Life's Greatest Secret: The Race to Crack the Genetic Code."      source
Kindly Inquisitors book cover
Kindly Inquisitors
The New Attacks on Free Thought, Expanded Edition
Jonathan Rauch - 2014-01-23 (first published in 1993)
Goodreads Rating
“A liberal society stands on the proposition that we should all take seriously the idea that we might be wrong. This means we must place no one, including ourselves, beyond the reach of criticism; it means that we must allow people to err, even where the error offends and upsets, as it often will.” So writes Jonathan Rauch in Kindly Inquisitors, wh...
Jerry Coyne
A great book on freedom of speech      source
Also recommended by
Colin WrightJames Lindsay
The Worst Journey in the World book cover
The Worst Journey in the World
Apsley Cherry-Garrard - 2021-01-27 (first published in 1922)
Goodreads Rating
The Worst Journey in the World is a memoir of the 1910–1913 British Antarctic Expedition led by Robert Falcon Scott. It was written by a member of the expedition, Apsley Cherry-Garrard, and has earned wide praise for its frank treatment of the difficulties of the expedition, the causes of its disastrous outcome, and the meaning (if any) of human su...
Jerry Coyne
I'd put "Annapurna" up there with it, too. Cherry-Garrard's book is truly a page turner, well worth reading.      source
Evolution book cover
What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters
Donald R. Prothero - 2017-08-21 (first published in 2007)
Goodreads Rating
Donald R. Prothero's Evolution is an entertaining and rigorous history of the transitional forms and series found in the fossil record. Its engaging narrative of scientific discovery and well-grounded analysis has led to the book's widespread adoption in courses that teach the nature and value of fossil evidence for evolution. Evolution tackles sys...
Jerry Coyne
This is the wildcard on my list, the one book that evolution aficionados might not have heard of. It’s important because it is the one book that really lays out in great detail, for the non-specialist, some of the strongest evidence for evolution, which is the fossil record. It’s stuffed full of figures showing fossil transitions, and descriptions of the evolutionary process. I found it fascinating and absolutely convincing. It supplements Darwin, who had almost no fossils.      source
On the Origin of Species book cover
On the Origin of Species
Charles Darwin - 2017-02-07 (first published in 1859)
Goodreads Rating
Darwin's theory of natural selection issued a profound challenge to orthodox thought and belief: no being or species has been specifically created; all are locked into a pitiless struggle for existence, with extinction looming for those not fitted for the task. Yet The Origin of Species (1859) is also a humane and inspirational vision of ecological...
Jerry Coyne
The reason why I chose The Origin is because of all the books that have ever been written on science that are accessible to the layperson, this is the most important. It’s the one book you have to have read if you want to be considered an educated person.      source
The Blind Watchmaker book cover
The Blind Watchmaker
Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design
Richard Dawkins - 2015-09-27 (first published in 1986)
Goodreads Rating
The Blind Watchmaker is the seminal text for understanding evolution today. In the eighteenth century, theologian William Paley developed a famous metaphor for creationism: that of the skilled watchmaker. In The Blind Watchmaker, Richard Dawkins crafts an elegant riposte to show that the complex process of Darwinian natural selection is unconscious...
Jerry Coyne
If I had to pick just one self-contained book that lays out Dawkins’s philosophy and methodology, and shows his literary skills, I would have to pick this one. His most famous book is The Selfish Gene because it lays out the gene-centred view of evolution, but it’s a bit of a tough slog. All the stuff you find in it you can also find in The Blind Watchmaker.      source
The Mismeasure of Man book cover
The Mismeasure of Man
Stephen Jay Gould - 1996-06-17 (first published in 1982)
Goodreads Rating
The definitive refutation to the argument of The Bell Curve.How smart are you? If that question doesn't spark a dozen more questions in your mind (like "What do you mean by 'smart,'" "How do I measure it" and "Who's asking?"), then The Mismeasure of Man, Stephen Jay Gould's masterful demolition of the IQ industry, should be required reading. Gould'...
Jerry Coyne
It’s written so well, and it’s so engrossing. There’s a lot of statistics and discussion of mathematics in there, but it’s a really good book – in the last couple of paragraphs you can find some of the finest prose I’ve seen written in science.      source
Also recommended by
Geoffrey Miller
Charles Darwin book cover
Charles Darwin
A Biography, Vol. 1 - Voyaging
Janet Browne - 1996-03-31 (first published in 1995)
Goodreads Rating
Few lives of great men offer so much interest--and so many mysteries--as the life of Charles Darwin, the greatest figure of nineteenth-century science, whose ideas are still inspiring discoveries and controversies more than a hundred years after his death. Yet only now, with the publication of Voyaging, the first of two volumes that will constitute...
Jerry Coyne
This book may be the best scientific biography that I’ve ever read. I was quite surprised, as Janet’s previous publications have been largely scholarly ones, though well written. Then, somehow, when she wrote this biography she came into her own. She was able to write in an almost novelistic way, except this is fact and not fiction. It’s just absolutely engrossing.      source