By Jeremy Manier
In a rare though hardly surprising development, two evolution researchers at the University of Chicago have the top two books in the “Evolution” category at amazon.com. (It’s hardly surprising because the university’s graduate program in ecology and evolutionary biology is consistently ranked the best in the nation… end of gratuitous plug.) The #1 bestseller in the category is Neil Shubin’s “Your Inner Fish,” and #2 is Jerry Coyne’s new hardcover, “Why Evolution Is True.”
Now it’s turned into a well-nigh Darwinian struggle to see who can claim and keep the top spot, with Jerry openly yearning to wrest away Neil’s bestseller mojo.
In truth they’re both fine books with very different audiences, and Science Life is shamelessly exploiting both authors. We’ve already run interviews with Neil on misconceptions about evolution and other topics, and soon we’ll have a dialogue with Jerry about the links between biology and ideology. For a preview, check out Jerry’s recent essay in The New Republic on why efforts to reconcile evolution and religion are doomed to fail. I disagree with him on some points, including the minor issue of whether God exists. But he’s certainly right that a religion that takes evolution seriously might look very different from the religious views that most believers hold. I wrote about the same subject for the Chicago Tribune magazine last year, complete with a colorful description of Jerry’s own de-conversion experience.