BookshelfJacob deGroot-Maggetti

The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution – Richard Dawkins

Thoughts: This book’s decent, but not without its warts. While there were some novel examples of phenomena I was already familiar with, it was only in the book’s last chapter that I came across any new concepts. Throughout, Dawkins never missed an opportunity to take a swipe at creationists, a tendency I would have been happy without. And he would occasionally dig in his heels on oddly specific points: for example, defending his desicion to refer to the Peking Man as such (Peking, evidently, is an old anglicization of Beijing) in a substantial footnote. Overall, I took almost as much from the book as an example of Dawkins’s writing/rhetorical style (he’s intelligent and his theories make sense, but I can see why he’s a polarizing figure) as from the content itself.

(The notes below are not a summary of the book, but rather raw notes - whatever I thought, at the time, might be worth remembering.)

Dawkins, Richard. 2009. The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution. Free Press.

Chapter 1. Only a Theory?

Chapter 2. Dogs, Cows and Cabbages

Chapter 3. The Primrose Path to Macro-Evolution

Chapter 4. Silence and Slow Time

Chapter 5. Before our Very Eyes

Chapter 7. Missing Persons? Missing No Longer

Chapter 8. You Did it Yourself in Nine Months

Chapter 9. The Ark of the Continents

Chapter 10. The Tree of Cousinship

Chapter 11. History Written All Over Us

Chapter 12. Arms Races and ‘Evolutionary Theodicity’

Chapter 13. There is Grandeur in this View of Life

Posted: Aug 23, 2021. Last updated: Aug 31, 2023.