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Jerry Coyne

Recommended Books

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
Explore the thrilling and terrifying history of genetic engineering with this awe-inspiring and chilling book. As Gods by Matthew Cobb delves into the power of targeting the extinction of pests, altering our own genes, and creating dangerous new versions of diseases. Discover why geneticists have temporarily halted their experiments four times in the last fifty years, and why this revolutionary technology is far too important to be left solely in the hands of scientists. This thought-provoking read asks the question: should we trust them to keep their ingenuity from producing a hellish reality?
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
Explore the fascinating history of molecular biology and the race to crack the genetic code in Life's Greatest Secret. Follow the journey of mathematician Norbert Wiener, physicist Erwin Schrödinger, information theorist Claude Shannon, and biologists Jacques Monod and Marshall Nirenberg as they struggle to find answers to questions they didn't know they had. Discover how each discovery propelled our understanding of the natural world forward and showed us just how much more we have yet to learn. Ultimately, this is a story of humans exploring what it is that makes us human.
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 - 1995-04-01 (first published in 1993)
Goodreads Rating
Explore the complex issues surrounding free speech and censorship in "Kindly Inquisitors" by Jonathan Rauch. With a persuasive argument for the value of "liberal science" and the idea that conflicting views produce knowledge, Rauch argues for pluralism over purism. In this expanded edition, Rauch elaborates on his original argument, bringing it up to date in a world where hate speech regulations are growing, both domestically and internationally. Discover how pitting biases and prejudices against each other can foster more fruitful discussions and replace hate with knowledge in our society.
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 - 2006-02-28 (first published in 1922)
Goodreads Rating
This memoir explores the perils and hardships faced by members of the 1910-1913 British Antarctic Expedition. Apsley Cherry-Garrard, a member of the team, shares his honest account of their disastrous outcome and the struggles they faced, including extreme cold and darkness. One particularly challenging mission was to recover eggs of the Emperor penguin in complete darkness and subzero temperatures. This book has received excellent reviews for its frank portrayal of human suffering under extreme conditions.
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 - 2007-11-06
Goodreads Rating
This engaging book by Donald R. Prothero explores the fascinating history of transitional forms and series found in the fossil record, with extensive coverage of the primordial soup, dinosaur reign and human evolution. Tackling systematics and cladistics, rock dating, neo-Darwinism, and macroevolution, Evolution describes new transitional fossils in vivid detail, reframing creationism as pseudoscience instead of presenting it as a viable intellectual alternative to sound scientific education. Ideal for scholars, teachers, and general readers interested in sound science in this post-truth era.
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
The Blind Watchmaker book cover
The Blind Watchmaker
Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design
Richard Dawkins - 2006-04-06 (first published in 1986)
Goodreads Rating
Explore the theory of natural selection and evolution in The Blind Watchmaker. Richard Dawkins offers an elegant rebuttal to creationism by illustrating how Darwinian natural selection is an unconscious, automatic process. Using simple organisms to show how complexity, diversity, and beauty developed over time, he asserts that nature's "watchmaker" is blind, operating without foresight or purpose. This seminal text is a must-read for anyone seeking to understand evolution today.
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
On the Origin of Species book cover
On the Origin of Species
Charles Darwin - 2004-05-01 (first published in 1859)
Goodreads Rating
A groundbreaking exploration of natural selection, this book challenges orthodox beliefs by asserting that no species or being has been specifically created. While exploring the harsh competition for survival, it showcases the interrelatedness between animal and plant life, and the environment, offering an inspirational and human perspective. Written with a combination of scientific rigor and literary style, this remains one of the most important works of modern times.
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 Mismeasure of Man book cover
The Mismeasure of Man
Stephen Jay Gould - 1996-06-17 (first published in 1982)
Goodreads Rating
This book tackles the controversial topic of measuring intelligence and the IQ industry. The author, Stephen Jay Gould, dissects the motivations behind those who judge intelligence and worth, and how power maintains itself in the 19th and 20th centuries. Gould's brilliant, funny, and engaging prose is a must-read for anyone interested in the history and politics of IQ testing. This revised and expanded edition includes a critique of The Bell Curve.
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 - 1996-04-01 (first published in 1995)
Goodreads Rating
Discover the fascinating life and legacy of Charles Darwin, the iconic scientist who still inspires controversy today. With unprecedented access to new material, Janet Browne's two-volume biography offers a vivid and comprehensive portrait of Darwin - exploring how this genteel young man came to challenge religious and scientific norms with his groundbreaking ideas. From struggling with personal demons to experiencing the exhilaration of discovery, Browne's dramatic retelling of Darwin's life sheds new light on one of history's most influential figures.
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