Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Which science book should the next US president read?

Nature magazine (which was founded with help from Darwin's associates Huxley and Hooker and celebrates its 139th birthday on US election day, November 4th) posed this question in its 24 September issue:
Which science book should the next US president read?

In response, Jerry Coyne,  Professor of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago wrote
"Anyone aspiring to be president should have a basic acquaintance with evolution and with the masses of evidence that it's not just a theory, but a fact. Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species comes to mind, but it is outdated and written in turgid Victorian prose that is uncongenial to modern readers. Future US leaders should read a short, popular work that lays out the evidence for evolution and dispels the spectres of creationism and intelligent design without dwelling on religion. Sadly, no book fills this niche. My attempt, Why Evolution is True (Viking, 2009), will be published only after the election...

Sorry, Jerry, the correct answer to the question is The Rough Guide to Evolution, which will be available just a few weeks after the election. In fact, I'll make sure Barack Obama gets a signed copy and just for devilment make sure that creationist Sarah Palin gets one too, to enjoy after her lapse back into obscurity!

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