Monday, January 14, 2008

Read widely

One of the best pieces of advice to a young scientist is to read, and read widely. The internet has made this whole lot easier and there are numerous sites out there that will direct you to papers worth reading in whatever areas your interest takes you. Over the next few weeks we will be covering a number of topics in evolution. Two blogs that are worth checking out for some clear writing and interesting links on these topics are:

PZ Meyers Pharyngula blog - self-described as 'Evolution, development and random biological ejaculations from a godless liberal'. That seems to describe it fairly well. PZ Myers is a biologist and associate professor at the University of Minnesota (and the pharyngula period is a stage in the embryonic development of vertebrates).

Speaking of the godless, and I mean that quite genuinely, Richard Dawkins has two websites/blogs that are well worth checking out. The official Richard Dawkins website self-described as 'A Clear-Thinking Oasis' and the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (another Clear-Thinking Oasis'). Richard Dawkins holds the Charles Simonyi Chair for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University. He came to prominence through his 'Selfish Gene' book in 1976, a book that all Biology undergraduates at my University were recommended to read a decade after its publication - a recommendation I am happy to pass on thirty years after its publication (that makes me 43 if you are curious, I know I look much younger....). Lately Richard Dawkins has been rather prominently involved in the debate between creationism and evolution and is often described, usually by others, as an 'outspoken atheist'. His latest book, 'The God Delusion', combines his work on evolutionary biology and his passionate atheism to ask why, if there is no god, a belief in one so widespread and prominent as to be almost universal? In the hands of an evolutionary biologist this turns out to be quite an interesting question.

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