Book Review: The Making of the Fittest

Author: Sean B. Carroll
Title: The Making of the Fittest
Publication Info: Tantor Media (2007), Edition: Unabridged, Audio CD
ISBN: 1400103150


This book is a primer on how natural selection works.  Carroll approaches this topic from a mathematical perspective through statistics and probability, but does so in layperson’s terms (which means I can just barely understand it – hah!).  The book uses examples such as Antarctic icefish for whom natural selection has chosen genes that give them enlarged hearts, blood without red blood cells, and a natural antifreeze.

Mutation is a key idea, with Carroll stressing that mutations despite their bad PR can be beneficial and points out that in fact we are all mutants.  While mutation is blind, natural selection is not.  Natural selection acts cumulatively.  Carroll also takes on the people who deny evolution by natural selection, refreshingly pointing out that it’s not just religious conservatives with examples of Soviet geneticist Trofim Lysenko who persecuted proponents of Medelian genetics and chiropractic practitioners who denied germ theory.

This is a good practical summary of the fascinating key ideas of biology.

Recommended books: On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
Rating: ***

2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Making of the Fittest

  1. terrible book, every word just slipped through my mind as i read it. I’m a science geek as well, and none of this stuff could even have been said more confusingly. Basically don’t even remember what it is about and i finished it about 10 minutes ago. Never read it. waste of time.


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