Field of Science

Required reading for science majors

Margaret runs a blog, My Growing Passion, which is a very popular botany blog from Australia. Yes, there are botany blogs. I learned about the Superb Lyrebird from her, for which I'm very grateful. Check that out. Also, she tagged me in one of these blog-memes. This one is about science books:
Imagine: YOU are asked to assign a half-dozen-or-so books as required reading for ALL science majors at a college as part of their 4-year degree; NOT technical or text books, but other works, old or new, touching upon the nature of science, philosophy, thought, or methodology in a way that a practicing scientist might gain from.

Post your list, and forward the meme to a half-dozen-or-so other science-oriented bloggers of your choosing.
How can I resist?

  1. Robert Axelrod: The Evolution of Cooperation, 2006.
  2. Sean B. Carroll: Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo, 2006.
  3. Richard Dawkins: The Selfish Gene (in which he coined the term 'meme', by the way), 1976.
  4. Jared Diamond: Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, 2005, revised edition.
  5. Jared Diamond: Collapse, 2005.
  6. Jared Diamond: Why Is Sex Fun? : The Evolution of Human Sexuality, 1997.
  7. Steven Levitt: Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, 2005.
  8. Richard Feynmann: Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! (Adventures of a Curious Character), 1997.
  9. Stephen Jay Gould: The Richness of Life: The Essential Stephen Jay Gould, 2007.
  10. Desmond Morris: Animal Contract, 1991.
  11. Michael Shermer: Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design, 2007.
  12. Neil deGrasse Tyson: Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries, 2007.

Also, they should read the Natural History magazine front to back 1989-2009.

I tag Evolutionary Novelties, Somatopsychic, Epiphenom, and The Dispersal of Darwin.

Update 2/10/09: Wait, everyone else are only listing six books. Isn't a dozen four and twenty?


  1. Well here are some additions:

    Douglas Hofstadter: Gödel Escher Bach, 1979
    or alternatively:
    Douglas Hofstadter: I am a strange loop, 2007

    Jonathan Weiner: Time, Love, Memory: A Great Biologist and His Quest for the Origins of Behavior, 2000

    And most of the things Stanislaw Lem wrote


  2. Gödel Escher Bach is just way to much trouble to get through. Talk about making a short story long.

    I haven't read his 2007 book, nor the others, Weiner and Lem.

  3. That is why I added the "strange loop" as an alternative...

    On the other hand, these are books supposed for science majors, and science majors are supposed to be the elite in thinking, they should be able to handle that. :)


  4. Timewise I couldn't handle GEB. Please don't finish that thought...


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