Another free evolution book

Get this while you can:  it’s a free Kindle copy of Evolution: A View from the 21st Century by James Shapiro.  I haven’t read it, but the price is right.

Jim Shapiro is heterodox in his views and opposed to much of modern evolutionary theory, so this may be a strange book.  Weigh in if you’ve read it.

Thanks to Bob for the notice.


  1. Rudi
    Posted September 26, 2011 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    The price was $26.78 when I tried!

    • agentwhim
      Posted September 26, 2011 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      £17.33 here in the UK (about the same).

      • Posted September 26, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

        Yep, £17 on my UK Kindle account, too.

  2. Terry
    Posted September 26, 2011 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    It was free for me. Thanks.

  3. TheBard1599
    Posted September 26, 2011 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    I like his books on Shakespeare better . . . .

    • Llwddythlw
      Posted September 26, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

      James S. not James A., but then you knew that didn’t you?

  4. NewEnglandBob
    Posted September 26, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Order #: D01-XXXXXXXXXXXX

    Subtotal of items: $0.00
    Total before tax: $0.00
    Tax Collected: $0.00
    Total for this Order: $0.00

    I never like it when the tax is 100%

    • Sili
      Posted September 26, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

      Good thing it isn’t then.

    • Bobo
      Posted September 26, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

      Learn to divide by zero. kthxbai.

  5. Scott near Berkeley
    Posted September 26, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    I have not been ordering anything by credit card, lately (3-4 months) or even using it for in-person purchases. But I ordered the “free” book last time you mentioned it, plus a couple of other books through Amazon, supplied by third parties. Next thing you know, my credit card has been hacked for $49.99 by a Washington state company. My bank caught it. Just a heads up…..

  6. Posted September 26, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    “So much science, so little time.” No time for science-deniers and magical thinking here.

  7. steve oberski
    Posted September 26, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    A review of the book:

  8. BillyJoe
    Posted September 26, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Shapiro is a teleological wolf in philosophical clothing as far as I can tell.
    Probably only worth reading if you know a enough about evolution to recognise the flaws.

  9. prasad
    Posted September 26, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    How does one find these temporarily-free kindle books? I’d love to hear about them in there some nifty website where someone lists them?

    • Marlene Zuk
      Posted September 26, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

      If you look on the Amazon website under “Kindle ebooks” and then click “Bestsellers”, it will give you the top 100 free as well as the top 100 paid. Often these are trashy (and oddly, lots of niche religious books — who knew there was such a thing as Christian vampire fiction?), but there are good ones too. And most pre-copyright books, like Darwin’s, are available for free to download. Check out Project Gutenberg.

  10. Posted September 26, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    Darn, too bad it’s only in the proprietary Kindle format (don’t own that device). It’s offered on Google eBooks, but only through Amazon at full price. I’ll spread the word.

    • Janet Holmes
      Posted September 26, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

      You can a Kindle ap for your puter free. I have an actual Kindle and a Kindle reader on my Mac too, quite handy.

  11. Sean P
    Posted September 26, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    $2.00 when I followed your link Jerry! Does anyone know if it is only free if you are shopping from within the US?

    • Janet Holmes
      Posted September 26, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

      It’s probably that you have an older Kindle, they charge $2 for the use of Amazon’s 3G network if you’re not in the States. You can download the book onto your computer (using the the free Kindle ap for your puter) and then by cable onto your Kindle for free though.

      • Sean P
        Posted September 27, 2011 at 4:48 am | Permalink

        I do have an older Kindle. Thanks, I’ll try it see how it goes. Thanks!

  12. Janet Holmes
    Posted September 26, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    Yippee, I do love freeeee!

  13. Posted September 26, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    Worked for me….

  14. Posted September 26, 2011 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    Jerry, smart play toning down the vitriol.

    You obviously pegged Shapiro as a looming threat you are not quite sure how to handle.

    Now, just how to deal with a smart scientist that just happens to believe in the ultimate abstraction.

    cogno-disso? Or maybe just a strong expresso?

  15. Posted September 26, 2011 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    Larry Moran skewered him reasonably well, at least for a short review:

    It doesn’t look good.

    Glen Davidson

  16. Diane G.
    Posted September 26, 2011 at 11:35 pm | Permalink


  17. Be Aware
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 1:06 am | Permalink

    That is an Intelligent Design book – thought you might want to know. They are getting tricky aren’t they…

  18. Rumraket
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 3:57 am | Permalink

    Wow, Shapiro reads almost like your average ID disco-institute propagandist. His representations of the history and the science of evolution is… terrible to read. Check out this example from the kindle book(free in denmark it seems):

    • Posted September 27, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

      Someone needs to translate that for the rest of us.

  19. Posted September 27, 2011 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    It’s worth the price. Whether reading it is worth the time, I cannot say.

    I did have some fun over at Uncommondescent quoting from it.

    Regardless of whether Shapiro’s conjectures are worth anything, he accepts evolution as a fact, and he accepts evolution as capable of inventing new complex things.

    So he can be used to tweak the masses of creationists that lurk behind the ID movement.

    I found this snippet interesting:

    The bottom-up approach is to design experimental systems in which cells have to produce two or more targeted changes to pass through a particular selection regime (such as growth on a medium that lacks a particular nutrient or that uses a novel growth substrate). The frequencies of single and multiple change events can be determined, and the roles of particular natural genetic engineering systems, such as transposons and retrotransposons, can be evaluated. In this way, we can develop an appreciation of the potential for coordinated genomic changes.

    A thousand references, and no mention of Lenski.

  20. Mutating Replicator
    Posted September 30, 2011 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    I skimmed it and came across some claims that look simply wrong. Like this howler:

    “It is important to note that selection has never led to formation of a new species, as Darwin postulated. No matter how morphologically and behaviorally different they become, all dogs remain members of the same species, are capable of interbreeding with other dogs, and will revert in a few generations to a common feral dog phenotype if allowed to go wild.”

    The guy does have good science in his book, apparently cutting-edge stuff about the ability of cells do surprisingly versatile things including (says Shapiro) “read-write” operations on the genome in order to cnvey intelligence back into the DNA. He does hasten to add that this is not supernatural intelligence but some form of cognition by the cell responsive to its environment. Sounds pretty Lamarckian to me!

    Any thoughts on this? I’m undergoing some cog dis right now with the respect I ordinarily accord a real scientist doing actual pertinent work in the lab and regularly publishing it, and the feeling that this conclusions are not merely wrong, but also are getting him seen with the likes of Dembski at ID events and trotted out for discussions and interviews by ID organizations.

    • BillyJoe
      Posted October 2, 2011 at 4:22 am | Permalink

      He anthropomorhises and then forgets that’s a metaphor. Suddenly cells cogitate, make purposeful decisions, and seek out and have sex with one another.

      His science looks sound.
      His philosophy is way off beam.

  21. Posted October 2, 2011 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    our experience is that when scientists move outside the application of the scientific method and theri very narrow expertise to other fields, they quickly jump into ideology and crackpot territory.

    However, ideology and crackpot ideas serve strong and broad emotional needs and are thus are rewarded in pop culture, e.g., Deepak Chopra

2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] A view from the 21st Century” (James Shapiro) is currently available free for Kindle, as reported on Jerry Coyne’s web site.  Shapiro is known to have some very non-standard views on evolution, and I am interested in […]

  2. […] things that make him sound open to ID.  When mentioning this Amazon offer, Jerry Coyne said “Jim Shapiro is heterodox in his views and opposed to much of modern evolutionary theory, so this may…“  This review is my weighing […]

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