Your Inner Fish – A Chapter-by-Chapter Review

Neil Shubin should be a household name.  The fact that he isn’t is just another example of the pitiful science education (both formal and continuing) in the US.  Dr. Shubin found an organism that, for all intents and purposes, is the perfect transitional organism between fish and amphibians.

Further it is an amazing example of the predictive power of science in general and evolutionary theory in particular.  But I’m going too quickly.

This weekend, I had occasion to take a stack of books to the local buy-back bookstore.  While there I picked up some books for the boy and found Your Inner Fish by Dr. Shubin.  I started reading it and I must say that Shubin is an excellent writer.  He does tend to transition between topics quickly and without much of a segue.  Still, he is entertaining to read and the story flows quite smoothly.

I got to chapter 2 and thought, dang, I wish all those creationists would read this and understand it.  Then I thought, oh wait, I have a blog.

I have little hope that creationists will read this and understand, but I do want to take this opportunity to go over the things we know, understand, and don’t know about the idea of common descent, which is what this book is really about.  I’m sure that creationists will be able to handwave away all of the details that will be presented individually, but let’s see what happens when they are all presented simultaneously.

That is the biggest thing about science and one that creationists and others of their ilk (global warming deniers, anti-vaccines, etc) can never deal with.  Sure, they can create enough confusion that a point or two can be lost.  But a science like evolutionary thory (or global warming or evidence based medicine) are not based on one point.  They are based on dozens of concepts that each have thousands to millions of supporting data points.

It’s not, ‘we found this fossil, therefore common descent is correct’.

It is, “look here’s another fossil to go with the hundreds of thousands, plus all the other things we have, that support the idea of common descent’.

It’s a subtle difference and often mistaken in the popular writing (which goes back to my original points about the poor quality of science education in the US.

With all of that in mind, I’m going to undertake a chapter-by-chapter review of Your Inner Fish.

Chapter 1 – Your Inner Fish – Finding Your Inner FIsh

Chapter 2 – Your Inner Fish – Getting a Grip

Chapter 3 – Your Inner Fish – Handy Genes

Chapter 4 – Your Inner Fish – Teeth Everywhere

Chapter 5 – Your Inner Fish – Getting Ahead

Chapter 6 – Your Inner Fish – The Best-Laid (Body) Plans

Chapter 7 – Your Inner Fish – Adventures in Bodybuilding

Chapter 8 – Your Inner Fish – Making Scents

Chapters 9 and 10 – Your Inner Fish – Vision and Ears

Chapter 11 – Your Inner Fish – The Meaning of it All

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21 Responses to Your Inner Fish – A Chapter-by-Chapter Review

  1. Altair IV says:

    I loved Your Inner Fish. I hadn’t bought any new books in a long time, but all the mentions on PT and elsewhere prompted my to grab it up, and I’m glad I did. It’s not a heavy read, and Shubin does a pretty good job at explaining our evolutionary heritage. I highly recommend it to anyone who has even a little scientific bent.

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  15. Savannah says:

    Thanks for posting this. It really helped me understand the book in detail. I have to read this book for my science class and I already understood the book but with your postings, it helped me pick out the key points in every chapter. Thanks!

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  17. Karissa says:

    This book, I felt was a great way to help people understand evolution and where we come from. I really enjoyed it. Neil Shubin did a great job at explaining our heritage. Although, I feel it was a bit hasty. I loved hearing his own short stories and perspective from the field. Thank you so much for posting this it helped me find important points in every chapter as well as isolate the main point from the rest of the book. The important points sometimes get lost inside the interesting stories. Thank you!

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