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Charles Darwin's theory of organic evolution-the idea that life on earth is the product of purely natural causes, not the hand of God-set off shock waves that continue to reverberate through Western society, and especially the United States. What makes evolution such a profoundly provocative concept, so convincing to most scientists, yet so socially and politically divisiv Charles Darwin's theory of organic evolution-the idea that life on earth is the product of purely natural causes, not the hand of God-set off shock waves that continue to reverberate through Western society, and especially the United States. What makes evolution such a profoundly provocative concept, so convincing to most scientists, yet so socially and politically divisive? The Theory of Evolution: A History of Controversy is an examination of the varied elements that so often make this science the object of strong sentiments and heated debate. Professor Edward J. Larson leads you through the "evolution" of evolution, with an eye toward enhancing your understanding of the development of the theory itself and the roots of the controversies that surround it. In these lectures you will: Explore pre-Darwinian theories of the origins of life, from Genesis and the ancient Greeks to such 18th- and 19th-century scientists as Georges Cuvier and Chevalier de Lamarck Follow the life and work of Charles Darwin, and the impact of his 1859 masterpiece, On the Origin of Species. Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection was immediately recognized as a threat to traditional religion, but was quickly accepted (the first printing of Origin of Species sold out on the first day) Examine the history of evolutionary science after Darwin-a fascinating story that includes the "rediscovery," after 35 years, of Gregor Mendel's work on genetic variation; the unearthing of prehominid, or early human, fossils by Raymond Dart in 1925 and the Leakey family in the 1950s; and the confusion created by the sensational, but later discredited, discovery of Piltdown Man-a fake evolutionary "missing link"-in 1912 Trace the history of religious objections to evolution, from those of Darwin's own time to contemporary efforts to teach creation science in American schools. This includes a detailed discussion of the famous Scopes "monkey trial," which in fact was a staged media event, designed to create publicity for the town of Dayton, Tennessee. Are Our Genes more Important than We Are? This course makes it clear that the history of controversy surrounding evolution is not limited to a dispute between science and religion. Even within the scientific community, the fine details of the theory of evolution have long been a matter of passionate dispute. In fact, in the last third of the 19th century, the principal objections were scientific, not religious. Although the fossil record was a key piece of evidence for evolution, it had gaps that could be used to argue against the theory. And both proponents and critics wondered how altruistic human qualities such as love and generosity could possibly have evolved through the competitive, often harsh, processes that Darwin described. From Professor Larson's presentation, you will learn that new ideas in evolution science have often created new controversies. For example, is it truly possible, as some scientists now maintain, that humans exist merely to ensure the survival of their genes? Such research has created disagreement among scientists about the degree to which evolution drives human behavior, and has further alienated many segments of the public. Evolution's "Dark Side": Social Darwinism In these lectures, you will review perhaps the most sinister controversy associated with the theory of evolution: social Darwinism. From the beginning, the Darwinian theory of evolution has been linked to economic and political views. Thomas Malthus's theories of population growth and competition for limited resources even inspired Darwin's thinking on natural selection. Unfortunately, later supporters of evolution carried this line of thinking too far. Beginning with Herbert Spencer, who coined the term "survival of the fittest," Darwin's ideas were used as evidence for a wide range of social beliefs, from laissez-faire capitalism to racism, colonialism, and, in perhaps the worst application, Nazism. In the United States, social Darwinism has served as a basis for the creation of IQ tests and for eugenics programs that resulted in the forced sterilization of thousands of mentally ill or retarded Americans. Unsettling Implications: The Growing Gulf Between Science and Religion During the late 19th century, largely through the efforts of scientists who sought to integrate evolutionary science with spiritual belief, evolution was widely accepted by the religious community in the United States. Today, this is hardly the case. In his last four lectures, Professor Larson examines the trends that have, since 1920, widened the gulf between science and religion. These include an increase in fundamentalist Protestantism, the weakening of liberal Protestantism as a counteracting force, and the growing power of a firmly conservative South. In the 1960s, federally funded neo-Darwinian textbooks provoked a conservative backlash. Beginning with the publication of Henry M. Morris's The Genesis Flood, efforts to gain equal time for the teaching of creation science, based on biblical teachings, gathered strength. Rebuffed by the courts, creationism continues to thrive through the increasing numbers of private Christian schools and through home schooling. The growing gulf between science and religion has unsettling implications for our society. Large segments of the American population reject the naturalism of current evolutionary thinking. Nine of 10 Americans believe in spiritual causes for life, with only 10 percent accepting the purely naturalistic explanations espoused by evolution. Strikingly, these statistics are almost exactly the opposite among the scientific community. A Pulitzer Prize-Winning Teacher As both a historian of science and a professor of law, Professor Edward J. Larson brings exceptional qualifications to this subject. His book, Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion, won the 1998 Pulitzer Prize in History. His analysis provides an invaluable perspective on the volatile history of what is arguably the single most significant idea of modern times.


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Charles Darwin's theory of organic evolution-the idea that life on earth is the product of purely natural causes, not the hand of God-set off shock waves that continue to reverberate through Western society, and especially the United States. What makes evolution such a profoundly provocative concept, so convincing to most scientists, yet so socially and politically divisiv Charles Darwin's theory of organic evolution-the idea that life on earth is the product of purely natural causes, not the hand of God-set off shock waves that continue to reverberate through Western society, and especially the United States. What makes evolution such a profoundly provocative concept, so convincing to most scientists, yet so socially and politically divisive? The Theory of Evolution: A History of Controversy is an examination of the varied elements that so often make this science the object of strong sentiments and heated debate. Professor Edward J. Larson leads you through the "evolution" of evolution, with an eye toward enhancing your understanding of the development of the theory itself and the roots of the controversies that surround it. In these lectures you will: Explore pre-Darwinian theories of the origins of life, from Genesis and the ancient Greeks to such 18th- and 19th-century scientists as Georges Cuvier and Chevalier de Lamarck Follow the life and work of Charles Darwin, and the impact of his 1859 masterpiece, On the Origin of Species. Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection was immediately recognized as a threat to traditional religion, but was quickly accepted (the first printing of Origin of Species sold out on the first day) Examine the history of evolutionary science after Darwin-a fascinating story that includes the "rediscovery," after 35 years, of Gregor Mendel's work on genetic variation; the unearthing of prehominid, or early human, fossils by Raymond Dart in 1925 and the Leakey family in the 1950s; and the confusion created by the sensational, but later discredited, discovery of Piltdown Man-a fake evolutionary "missing link"-in 1912 Trace the history of religious objections to evolution, from those of Darwin's own time to contemporary efforts to teach creation science in American schools. This includes a detailed discussion of the famous Scopes "monkey trial," which in fact was a staged media event, designed to create publicity for the town of Dayton, Tennessee. Are Our Genes more Important than We Are? This course makes it clear that the history of controversy surrounding evolution is not limited to a dispute between science and religion. Even within the scientific community, the fine details of the theory of evolution have long been a matter of passionate dispute. In fact, in the last third of the 19th century, the principal objections were scientific, not religious. Although the fossil record was a key piece of evidence for evolution, it had gaps that could be used to argue against the theory. And both proponents and critics wondered how altruistic human qualities such as love and generosity could possibly have evolved through the competitive, often harsh, processes that Darwin described. From Professor Larson's presentation, you will learn that new ideas in evolution science have often created new controversies. For example, is it truly possible, as some scientists now maintain, that humans exist merely to ensure the survival of their genes? Such research has created disagreement among scientists about the degree to which evolution drives human behavior, and has further alienated many segments of the public. Evolution's "Dark Side": Social Darwinism In these lectures, you will review perhaps the most sinister controversy associated with the theory of evolution: social Darwinism. From the beginning, the Darwinian theory of evolution has been linked to economic and political views. Thomas Malthus's theories of population growth and competition for limited resources even inspired Darwin's thinking on natural selection. Unfortunately, later supporters of evolution carried this line of thinking too far. Beginning with Herbert Spencer, who coined the term "survival of the fittest," Darwin's ideas were used as evidence for a wide range of social beliefs, from laissez-faire capitalism to racism, colonialism, and, in perhaps the worst application, Nazism. In the United States, social Darwinism has served as a basis for the creation of IQ tests and for eugenics programs that resulted in the forced sterilization of thousands of mentally ill or retarded Americans. Unsettling Implications: The Growing Gulf Between Science and Religion During the late 19th century, largely through the efforts of scientists who sought to integrate evolutionary science with spiritual belief, evolution was widely accepted by the religious community in the United States. Today, this is hardly the case. In his last four lectures, Professor Larson examines the trends that have, since 1920, widened the gulf between science and religion. These include an increase in fundamentalist Protestantism, the weakening of liberal Protestantism as a counteracting force, and the growing power of a firmly conservative South. In the 1960s, federally funded neo-Darwinian textbooks provoked a conservative backlash. Beginning with the publication of Henry M. Morris's The Genesis Flood, efforts to gain equal time for the teaching of creation science, based on biblical teachings, gathered strength. Rebuffed by the courts, creationism continues to thrive through the increasing numbers of private Christian schools and through home schooling. The growing gulf between science and religion has unsettling implications for our society. Large segments of the American population reject the naturalism of current evolutionary thinking. Nine of 10 Americans believe in spiritual causes for life, with only 10 percent accepting the purely naturalistic explanations espoused by evolution. Strikingly, these statistics are almost exactly the opposite among the scientific community. A Pulitzer Prize-Winning Teacher As both a historian of science and a professor of law, Professor Edward J. Larson brings exceptional qualifications to this subject. His book, Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion, won the 1998 Pulitzer Prize in History. His analysis provides an invaluable perspective on the volatile history of what is arguably the single most significant idea of modern times.

9 review for The Theory of Evolution: A History of Controversy

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    Larson did a great job covering the history of evolution starting before Charles Darwin all the way to the present day. This was a series of 12 lectures of 30 minutes each, all very easy to understand & well laid out. There is almost no scientific jargon. If I have any complaints, it's because he went a bit too far in that direction. For instance, while he discusses the effects of genetics in small populations, he never calls it 'genetic drift'. I normally like to make notes on each section, but Larson did a great job covering the history of evolution starting before Charles Darwin all the way to the present day. This was a series of 12 lectures of 30 minutes each, all very easy to understand & well laid out. There is almost no scientific jargon. If I have any complaints, it's because he went a bit too far in that direction. For instance, while he discusses the effects of genetics in small populations, he never calls it 'genetic drift'. I normally like to make notes on each section, but these were short & I listened to them one after another, so I'll just make some quick notes that really stood out. Some may not be in the correct place. Sorry in advance. 1-Before Darwin: Darwin didn't make his theories in a vacuum. There was an intellectual revolution that predated him & set the stage for his ideas. These were accepted so readily because society was ready. Religious authority had broken down somewhat, many sciences & the Industrial Revolution were taking hold, & literal creationism as described in the Christian Bible makes no sense. Larson discusses several of the other ideas that were popular & helped shaped Darwin's views such as the works of Malthus. 2-Evolution in the Air: As more canals & quarries were dug & the layers were noticed by scientists, fossils became important. There was a lot of controversy due to missing links & not understanding just how old the Earth is. Talks about dinosaurs & some of the other early discoveries. 3-Darwin's Inspiration: his education & a little about his voyage on the Beagle. He really came up with his basic evolutionary ideas (He returned in 1836.) but wouldn't publish them until decades later when he wrote The Origin of Species in 1859 when another sent him a paper that echoed his thoughts. He wanted to make sure he answered all the questions since the idea had already been floated & was ridiculed since no one could answer how it happened. No understanding of genetics. 4-An Intellectual Revolution: The consequences of Darwin's theory among scientists & society. He couldn't really make a good scientific case, but did come up with basically 5 arguments for it. It bothered a lot of people, both scientific & religious, though. 5-Debates over Mechanism: Gregor Mendel did send Darwin his work on Genetics, but Darwin ignored it! Without understanding genetics, the way they thought change happened would have gotten swamped. Main opponents pointed to the complexity of organisms are a reason against Darwinian evolution. Couvier, Agassiz, & Owen pointed to jumps in fossil record as data against. These guys died & were never replaced. Their students went on to support, if still argue about, evolution & they found evidence for it. The human missing link was proposed. 6-Missing Links: More on fossils through to the turn of the 20th century. He didn't mention anything about how difficult it is to make a fossil, but does say how we've been finding more & more. 7-Genetics Enters the Picture: Mendel's work is finally recognized & makes sense of how evolution works. The idea of recessive genes & genetic drift take hold. Looking back & further work with Darwin's finches seals the deal. 8-Social Darwinism & Eugenics: Evolution became all the rage & was carried too far. Culture & means were confused with intelligence. Racism suddenly had a scientific basis & grew into the 2 World Wars plus eugenic programs in the US. 9-America's Anti-Evolution Crusade: discusses the issues during the 1920s in the US, specifically the side show called the Scopes Trial. 10-The NeoDarwinian Synthesis: Darwin got the ball rolling, but he didn't have it all right & he also backed off in successive editions of The Origin of Species. With radioactive dating, better understanding of the actual age of the Earth & life on it, plus the understanding of genetics, his basic theory has been tweaked to its current state. 11-Scientific Creationism: gets more into the issues facing the US scientific community on evolution & the religious fundamentalists that think their version of the Christian Bible has the answer in Genesis. It's hard to believe, but a lot still believe in it. 12-Selfish Genes & Intelligent Design: more on the above, but brings in current players such as the atheist Dawkins (The Selfish Gene) & Charter schools. He talks about text books & the new power of the evangelical movement. This is an excellent primary on the subject that's very accessible. I highly recommend it & may well listen to bits of it over again soon. He's not the greatest speaker, but he's done a great job on the content.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Xavier

    Professor Larson takes us on a short walk through the halls of history and into the Theory of Evolution. The idea that species evolve and change over time goes back to Socratic times. Throughout the ages as mankind grew more curious and technology improved so did our understanding of evolution. Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace are most synonymous with this idea but they weren't the ones who 'invented' this theory. Evolution was already a hot topic way before Darwin dropped his classic On Professor Larson takes us on a short walk through the halls of history and into the Theory of Evolution. The idea that species evolve and change over time goes back to Socratic times. Throughout the ages as mankind grew more curious and technology improved so did our understanding of evolution. Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace are most synonymous with this idea but they weren't the ones who 'invented' this theory. Evolution was already a hot topic way before Darwin dropped his classic On the Origin of Species. We also learn about the long debate between the religious and the scientific communities and how that effected the curriculum in schools across the U.S. The course ends with our current understanding of evolution. Larson did an okay job at narrating. It was a bit rough in the beginning but he improved as the course went on. Also, Alfred Russel Wallace is mentioned but I feel he gets glossed over whenever the topic comes up. He was in an important figure; He basically pushed Darwin to go public with his theory! Give the guy some love dammit! In general the course was enjoyable. It reinforced my knowledge of Darwin's life and the events that lead to the sharpening of his theory. I also gained a sharper understanding of genes, random mutations and how the ever-changing environment effects change. Really cool stuff. If you're looking to jump into this topic this is a nice place to start.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Igor

    It could be longer. Still, the 'audioclass' was very informative for me and it has opened up many lines of readings. Based on it, I will read: 1) by Edward J. Larson - Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion; and 2) by Richard Dawkins - The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution. It could be longer. Still, the 'audioclass' was very informative for me and it has opened up many lines of readings. Based on it, I will read: 1) by Edward J. Larson - Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion; and 2) by Richard Dawkins - The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tammy

    Very good lecture series! Listen to it if you want to learn more about how the Theory of evolution got its start and its reach into present day.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Feng Ouyang

    This is a short course on Darwin's theory of evolution with 12 lectures. The course recounted the development and acceptance of Darwin's theory up to the 1970s. The lectures are in chronological order but follow two parallel threads. One thread is the scientific understanding of evolution. The course started with pre-Darwin evolution theories, mainly Lamarck's theory of transmutation. It says evolution happens at the body level because some organs are used more than others. Such changes are passe This is a short course on Darwin's theory of evolution with 12 lectures. The course recounted the development and acceptance of Darwin's theory up to the 1970s. The lectures are in chronological order but follow two parallel threads. One thread is the scientific understanding of evolution. The course started with pre-Darwin evolution theories, mainly Lamarck's theory of transmutation. It says evolution happens at the body level because some organs are used more than others. Such changes are passed to the offspring. Darwin's main contribution is proposing a new mechanism for evolution: natural selection. The theory's main difficulty is that it cannot explain how small changes accumulate over the generations before reaching a level to results in survival advantages. In the early 20th century, Mendel's pea experiments show that: 1) inheritance happens in the unit of genes. Traits such as heights are not necessarily changed in tiny steps but can change abruptly. 2) There are dominant and recessive genes. So even if a gene is not expressed in traits, it can still survive in a population. Mendel's discovery explained how gene mutation could happen and survive in the population, supporting the natural selection theory. It also shows that abrupt changes, instead of gradual ones, should drive the evolutional process. The next step is in the 1940s. It was found that many traits involve multiple genes. So we are back to gradual evolvement as these genes slowly mutate. This view is known as the Neo-Darwinian Synthesis. The evolution theory was later extended from physical traits to behavioral traits such as cooperative tendencies. The "selfish genes" theory explains why individuals may have traits that help the group at the individual's expense. The course does not discuss molecular biology and DNA. This is a pity because the discoveries of DNA mutation mechanisms significantly enrich the evolution theory. The second thread is Darwinism's social impact, where the primary concern is its relationship with Christianity. This debate started right at the beginning. After Darwinism gained acceptance, it encountered new resistance in America in the 1920s, as conservative American protestants gained power. There were debates on whether evolution theory should be taught in public schools. After this wave was defeated, the so-called scientific creationism emerged, self-identified as an alternative scientific theory competing with the evolution theory. That theory continued to become "intelligent design, " which is still active today. Another social impact is social Darwinism and eugenics, which advocates the propagation of "superior race" at the expense of other races. The course provides a comprehensive recount of the history of Darwinism. It seems to aim at people without scientific training. Therefore, the lectures do not go deep into scientific knowledge and scientific methods. It is probably best used in complementary with other courses or teaching materials on Darwinism.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Chris Esposo

    Not so much about evolution as a biological process, but as an idea, and how the idea was developed and how it's impacted English and North American society. The real insight I got out of these series of lectures was how the debates on the validity of evolution, with respect to human origins, impacted the political partisanship we observe today. Things like parochial schools, conservative media, some higher education institutions, and think tanks, all owe at least some of their existence, to the Not so much about evolution as a biological process, but as an idea, and how the idea was developed and how it's impacted English and North American society. The real insight I got out of these series of lectures was how the debates on the validity of evolution, with respect to human origins, impacted the political partisanship we observe today. Things like parochial schools, conservative media, some higher education institutions, and think tanks, all owe at least some of their existence, to the Herculean attempt of Protestant evangelical churches to push back against increasingly robust scientific evidence for the origins of man, dispelling the literal interpretation of the Genesis account. This is relevant today as it is an example of how science and technology, can adversely affect society in unintended ways. As we now are at the cusp of another technological change, this time in AI, we should be vigilant to how this could also partition society. It was also interesting to note that prior to this evangelical rebellion, the political landscape and alignment with respect to evolution was very different to today. For instance, liberals actually sided against the teaching of the subject in the early 20th century because of association with social Darwinism, and many proponents of evolution at that time were also proponents of colonialism, unhindered capitalism, and other ideas classically associated with Western chauvinism. Overall, a pretty good set of lectures on the history of scientific thought with respect to Wallace-Darwinian evolution, ranging from inception, synthesis, and societal impacts.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Chris Leuchtenburg

    This is a concise overview of the development of the scientific theory of evolution with occasional colorful depictions of some of the major contributors. Several reviewers have criticized these lectures as being rather thin, which is true, but a bit unfair. With more time, he certainly should have spent more time on Buffon, Wright and even Darwin himself. But this is an overview, and I appreciated that he continued the story through the scientific challenges to natural selection and then the de This is a concise overview of the development of the scientific theory of evolution with occasional colorful depictions of some of the major contributors. Several reviewers have criticized these lectures as being rather thin, which is true, but a bit unfair. With more time, he certainly should have spent more time on Buffon, Wright and even Darwin himself. But this is an overview, and I appreciated that he continued the story through the scientific challenges to natural selection and then the development of the Neo-Darwinian Synthesis in the 1950's. The part that disturbed me was that after a brilliant and fascinating analysis of the Scopes Trial, he displays a casual acceptance of recent fundamentalist challenges to evolution, the age of the earth and just about any rational approach to our origins. Although he rightly spanks Simpson and Huxley for claiming more than they could demonstrate scientifically, he seems to imply that we should weigh equally the beliefs of religious fundamentalists, just because there are so many of them. If we are going to assess scientific theories by popular appeal, he should at least have balanced his affection for American fundamentalists with a discussion of the broader popular acceptance in other regions, such as Europe. There should also have been at least a nod to the complexity of the evidence for natural selection and the fact that extensive education would be required to have a valid opinion on the subject. Larson likes controversy, as the title indicates.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Catherine Puma

    What I loved about this was its different perspective on teaching how Evolution as an idea grew in the societal psyche. Previously, I have been taught Evolution in various Biology, Ecology & Animal Behavior classes through a biography of Charles Darwin's life. While Darwin was of course crucial to communicating Evolution's mechanism and providing ample evidence for the theory, there is so much more to the story of Evolution's biography! Prof Edward J. Larson is really great as describing pre-Dar What I loved about this was its different perspective on teaching how Evolution as an idea grew in the societal psyche. Previously, I have been taught Evolution in various Biology, Ecology & Animal Behavior classes through a biography of Charles Darwin's life. While Darwin was of course crucial to communicating Evolution's mechanism and providing ample evidence for the theory, there is so much more to the story of Evolution's biography! Prof Edward J. Larson is really great as describing pre-Darwin scientific developments and cracks at accurately describing Evolution, such as with Lamarck's giraffes and Gregory Mandel's peas. In addition, learning more about societal and religious reactions to Darwin's Evolution, and over a larger time period than one is usually introduced to in one unit of a college course, was so interesting. I wish I could sign up for a newsletter to get notified of whenever Larson comes out with another audiobook, narration, or Great Courses piece. I would recommend this to anyone who has been taught Evolution in school (which should be everyone), and especially those who are into popular science books about evolution, biology, animal behavior, ecology, genetics, etc.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Hank Pharis

    (NOTE: I'm stingy with stars. For me 2 stars means a good book or a B. 3 stars means a very good book or a B+. 4 stars means an outstanding book or an A {only about 5% of the books I read merit 4 stars}. 5 stars means an all time favorite or an A+ {Only one of 400 or 500 books rates this!).The great news is that I can listen to a book a day at work. The bad news is that I can’t keep up with decent reviews. So I’m going to give up for now and just rate them. I hope to come back to some of the mos (NOTE: I'm stingy with stars. For me 2 stars means a good book or a B. 3 stars means a very good book or a B+. 4 stars means an outstanding book or an A {only about 5% of the books I read merit 4 stars}. 5 stars means an all time favorite or an A+ {Only one of 400 or 500 books rates this!).The great news is that I can listen to a book a day at work. The bad news is that I can’t keep up with decent reviews. So I’m going to give up for now and just rate them. I hope to come back to some of the most significant things I listen to and read them and then post a review.This might be the most generous book toward the creationist ever written by an evolutionist.He is also honest about things in the history of evolution that you seldom hear. flag Like  · see review Feb 07, 2020 Marshall Wayne Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition Shelves: great-courses Theory of Evolution: A History of Controversy by Professor Edward J. Larson receives 4 stars from me. The information and the delivery are solid.Larson is a science historian. In this lecture series he is following the theory of evolution. He follows the controversies, as the title suggests, regarding the theory. From other scientists and their responses to the religious objectors and their views. Recommended: if you are interested in history, or in the theory of evolution—yes. flag Like  · see review Oct 31, 2017 Mindy Sagmoen rated it really liked it Some areas were covered very briefly or lacked desired in depth detail that I feel could have made for a much longer lecture series. But, overall, I thought it was a good series and offered a good jumping off place for many of the subjects covered. Curious minds will always find other sources to fill the voids, but curious minds will, probably, walk away from these lectures wanting answers that weren't addressed. Some areas were covered very briefly or lacked desired in depth detail that I feel could have made for a much longer lecture series. But, overall, I thought it was a good series and offered a good jumping off place for many of the subjects covered. Curious minds will always find other sources to fill the voids, but curious minds will, probably, walk away from these lectures wanting answers that weren't addressed. flag Like  · see review May 23, 2020 Mars Cheung rated it it was amazing Not bad. I read Jerry Coyne's book, "Why Evolution Is True". That book goes into much more depth about the process. This course had a couple of other general details about the history behind the concept and not simply the process itself. Some of the controversial social phenomena that arose with Darwinian Evolution are also discussed(The Scopes Monkey Trial, eugenics, etc..). There are brief mentions of Evolutionary Psychology towards the end. All in all, a very interesting listen. Not bad. I read Jerry Coyne's book, "Why Evolution Is True". That book goes into much more depth about the process. This course had a couple of other general details about the history behind the concept and not simply the process itself. Some of the controversial social phenomena that arose with Darwinian Evolution are also discussed(The Scopes Monkey Trial, eugenics, etc..). There are brief mentions of Evolutionary Psychology towards the end. All in all, a very interesting listen. flag Like  · see review May 25, 2020 Chad Schultz rated it really liked it Not bad. Not particularly exciting, either, but a decent overview. Note that this is less of a biology textbook explaining evolution and more of a history textbook talking about the theory of evolution. What came before it, about Darwin's creation of it, competing theories at the time, and the ebb and flow of waves of opposition over the time since then. Not bad. Not particularly exciting, either, but a decent overview. Note that this is less of a biology textbook explaining evolution and more of a history textbook talking about the theory of evolution. What came before it, about Darwin's creation of it, competing theories at the time, and the ebb and flow of waves of opposition over the time since then. flag Like  · see review Apr 06, 2019 Rachid Fachat rated it really liked it Quite basic if you already know about the theory of evolution and the people that contributed to this great theory. Still, it is one of the greatest books on the field . I highly recommend it to everyone. flag Like  · see review Aug 29, 2018 Jana Dancikova rated it did not like it Quite basic flag Like  · see review Jul 05, 2021 Elizabeth rated it liked it 3.75 flag Like  · see review Mar 29, 2020 Greg rated it it was amazing Fascinating to see how and why public perception of this controversial topic has “evolved” over the years. flag Like  · see review May 22, 2016 Rodney Harvill rated it liked it Shelves: science In this lecture series, Dr. Larson discusses the history of evolutionary thought and its interaction with the broader culture. As a creationist, I consider it important to understand the other side of the creation-evolution controversy and found the information in this lecture series interesting and enlightening.In dealing with Darwin, Dr. Larson very effectively made the point that the direction of thought in the broader culture both prepared Charles Darwin to develop a theory of evolution and In this lecture series, Dr. Larson discusses the history of evolutionary thought and its interaction with the broader culture. As a creationist, I consider it important to understand the other side of the creation-evolution controversy and found the information in this lecture series interesting and enlightening.In dealing with Darwin, Dr. Larson very effectively made the point that the direction of thought in the broader culture both prepared Charles Darwin to develop a theory of evolution and the broader culture to accept his theory. Paleontological and geological discoveries were already causing people to question the Genesis account. The geological uniformitarian theories of Charles Lyell inspired Darwins thoughts of biological uniformitarianism, and the writings of Malthus inspired his mechanistic theory of natural selection. Herbert Spencer was already articulating what would become known as social Darwinism. Darwin himself sat on his ideas for two decades while cultivating a reputation as a scientist. When he published Origin of the Species, he could not be easily dismissed, and the culture was ready for it.Dr. Larson also confronts head-on the internal controversies within the science community. He acknowledged that one of the strongest evidentiary objections to evolution is the fossil record itself, which shows the abrupt appearance and disappearance of species and stasis. Furthermore, the sudden appearance of complex organisms in Cambrian sediment defy evolutionary explanation. In addition to these issues is the matter of mechanism. For several decades, a debate raged within the scientific community that accepted evolution regarding how it actually worked. Darwin's natural selection seemed inadequate. How did the changes in organisms occur in the first place, and how did they avoid being diluted in the existing population? One possibility was the propagation of acquired characteristics advocated by Lamark, but that theory is easily debunked. Let's face it. A mouse that loses a tail does not produce tail-less offspring. Finally, the scientific community settled on the genetics-based Neo-Darwinian synthesis that is still the prevailing doctrine today with some modifications, such as the theory of punctuated equilibria developed by Stephen Gould and Niles Eldredge.I have to give Dr. Larson a mixed review of his treatment of Christian fundamentalism, creationism and intelligent design. He did not strike me as dismissive, at all. He placed the Scopes trial in the context of a surge of Christian fundamentalism in response to the liberalization of mainline denominations and the increased exposure of the public to evolutionary thought via mandatory public schooling. Instead of producing a caricature of William Jennings Bryan, he placed his involvement in the trial and the anti-evolution movement in the context of his highly nuanced political, cultural and religious background. He also discussed Dr. Henry Morris' role in getting the scientific creationism movement off the ground and acknowledged that the movement represents an effort to demonstrate that the same scientific evidence that caused people to question the Genesis account is actually consistent with the Genesis account. I have no qualms with any of this. However, I have an issue with his characterization of the intelligent design movement as religiously based. Although Phillip Johnson was an early leader of the movement, he and other proponents were inspired by the book Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, written by the agnostic biochemist Michael Denton. His portrayal of intelligent design as strictly a religious movement, and by implication, unscientific, is why I rated this lecture series with three stars instead of four. If Dr. Larson, is going to write about a scientific movement, then he needs to be accurate. flag Like  · see review Nov 19, 2013 Daniel Chaikin rated it it was ok This is the first time I tried The Great Courses. Larson is Harvard Law graduate, but he is not a historian, scientist or expert in the history of science, and that shows. Also his time is limited to twelve lectures of 30 minutes each, which keeps the content pretty thin. I would divide the lectures into four themes - before Darwin, Darwin, after Darwin, and the development of the religious creationist movement. His coverage of science before Darwin was terrible, and his coverage of Darwin is on This is the first time I tried The Great Courses. Larson is Harvard Law graduate, but he is not a historian, scientist or expert in the history of science, and that shows. Also his time is limited to twelve lectures of 30 minutes each, which keeps the content pretty thin. I would divide the lectures into four themes - before Darwin, Darwin, after Darwin, and the development of the religious creationist movement. His coverage of science before Darwin was terrible, and his coverage of Darwin is only OK. He does a much better job looking at the twentieth century, and the neo-Darwinian synthesis. When he covers the Scopes trial, another lecturer takes over. We are showered with interesting details and careful characterizations and suddenly the atmosphere comes alive. I suspect Larson may be most comfortable with the legal side of things. But the most interesting part of the book was his history of the rise of the creationist movement in the United States, a movement that really only began to grow maybe 50 years ago. I found it very interesting how the mainstream churches lost their power. The scientific community left the church altogether. But the religious conservative community also abandoned these churches for more evangelic and fundamentalist churches. Religious groups that were historically fringe suddenly became influential.I'm giving this two stars because the content is thin, and the author came across to me as not an expert in everything covered. But, still, it's worth listening to. flag Like  · see review Jul 06, 2015 Jim rated it liked it Shelves: evolutionary-biology, philosophy, tgc Audio download of 12 30 minute lectures, with a 91 page guidebook.Dr Larson is an historian, writing and speaking about the thought and philosophy of science and scientific advancement...he is not a scientist. Well then, that's perfect since these lectures are not about the science behind Darwin's Theory of Evolution, but rather about the history of the theory's intelligent design (do you see what I did there?). Larson lays the groundwork for Darwin's work, examines his process and concludes wit Audio download of 12 30 minute lectures, with a 91 page guidebook.Dr Larson is an historian, writing and speaking about the thought and philosophy of science and scientific advancement...he is not a scientist. Well then, that's perfect since these lectures are not about the science behind Darwin's Theory of Evolution, but rather about the history of the theory's intelligent design (do you see what I did there?). Larson lays the groundwork for Darwin's work, examines his process and concludes with the controversy that rages even today.In my opinion this historical review resembles a CliffNotes version, probably appropriate for sophomore high school, and lacks the historic depth surrounding possibly the most important contribution to science in more than 150 years. Twelve lectures does not allow for any significant background for those scientist (and philosophers) that served as the foundation for Darwin's work, nor does it give voice to opposing viewpoints.I do, however, recommend the lectures as a warm-up for lectures by Gregory ('The Darwinian Revolution'), and a reread of Darwin's own work, "On The Origin of Species". Like other reviewers, my rating should be 3.5...or, good, but could be better.On sale, with a coupon, as always. flag Like  · see review Jul 31, 2016 Vincent rated it liked it This is the course guide for a Teaching Company course of the same name. It is an interesting course and well presented and is certainly food for thought and consideration.He did a good job but it was another case of a course being on video and the only asset of the video was than one could see occasional photos or drawings for the players being talked about. The guidebook was good and the referenced additional reading was chapters not full books so well thought out but without being at a librar This is the course guide for a Teaching Company course of the same name. It is an interesting course and well presented and is certainly food for thought and consideration.He did a good job but it was another case of a course being on video and the only asset of the video was than one could see occasional photos or drawings for the players being talked about. The guidebook was good and the referenced additional reading was chapters not full books so well thought out but without being at a library or without being willing to devote much more time it was hard to go beyond the course book and lectures - but still good and worth while. flag Like  · see review May 24, 2016 Bob rated it it was ok Audio Great Courses: The subject matter was much better than my rating would indicate. It was the professor's, Dr. Larson, delivery that was so poor. He would repeatedly mispronounce a word-- like he's say epic when he meant epoch. And then his occasional halting delivery would leave me wondering if he wasn't reading the whole thing and had just lost his place. Still there was a lot of good information, that was worth the listening time: the influence eugenics movement had on the Scopes trial. Audio Great Courses: The subject matter was much better than my rating would indicate. It was the professor's, Dr. Larson, delivery that was so poor. He would repeatedly mispronounce a word-- like he's say epic when he meant epoch. And then his occasional halting delivery would leave me wondering if he wasn't reading the whole thing and had just lost his place. Still there was a lot of good information, that was worth the listening time: the influence eugenics movement had on the Scopes trial. flag Like  · see review Mar 19, 2009 Kevin rated it liked it Shelves: general-science Good historical information with explanations of theories and how they came about. Also covered a good amount of popular and unpopular arguments pro and con on these issues throughout the history of evolutionary thought. flag Like  · see review Feb 01, 2016 Troy Blackford rated it really liked it This is a fairly solid history of the development, acceptance, and further development of the theory of evolution. There is a superior set of lectures on this topic, focusing more on the human impact, but this is good for focusing equally well on the scientific aspects. Worth checking out. flag Like  · see review Feb 01, 2014 Sam rated it really liked it Shelves: evolution A great audio course on the history of the ideas and theory of evolution, including an in-depth look at how it has interacted with American culture. flag Like  · see review Jun 05, 2013 Darren added it Great course on evolution and its history. Only 12 thirty-minute lectures, too! flag Like  · see review Oct 05, 2008 Ty rated it liked it Shelves: atheism, commentary, analysis, history, religious Nice treatment of the endlessly fascinating subject. Learned a ton. flag Like  · see review Sep 23, 2014 David Doyle rated it really liked it A good study on Evolution flag Like  · see review Lynne rated it really liked it Jan 17, 2009 Antipoet rated it liked it Jun 28, 2021 « previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 next »

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