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The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's…

The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True (2011)

by Richard Dawkins, Dave McKean (Illustrator)

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895209,862 (4.06)28
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    Newton at the Center by Joy Hakim (themulhern)
    themulhern: Both books are about the process of science as well as the facts of science. Both are written for young adults but readily appreciated by fully mature adults.

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The Magic of Reality is a science book for children. In this book, Richard Dawkins claims that the scientific world is full of what he calls ‘poetic magic'. He defines this as something “deeply moving, exhilarating: something that gives us goose bumps, something that makes us feel more fully alive.” Each chapter of the book focuses on a different area of science and begins with a question such as, “What are things made of?” or “Who was the first person?” or “When and how did everything begin?” Dawkins does an excellent job illustrating this magic in the world. From the tiniest subatomic particles right before my eyes, to galaxies unfathomable distances away, this book left me in awe of just about everything. The sheer magnitude of the universe, evolution, the structure of atoms—all of it is absolutely mind blowing. There were times I had to put the book down because contemplating the universe became too much. The book is also accompanied by beautiful illustrations weaving their way in and out of the text.

This book is its unapologetic attempt to convert children to atheism. Dawkins’s attitude towards those with religious beliefs is often arrogant and condescending. I would have enjoyed the book more if he had focused on his scientific arguments and refrained from belittling the opposition to prove his point.
( )
  klburnside | Aug 11, 2015 |
Like "What If," this book answers those burning questions you've always had using scientific explanations. In this book, students will enjoy the unbelievable facts as well as the little experiments Richard Dawkins employs to explain concepts. Thinking like a scientist, students will discover what makes the world really tick.
  Melina_Hiatt_Easter | Jul 16, 2015 |
Dawkins uses several simple questions, such as "Why are there so many different kinds of animals?", as starting points for providing simple, clearly reasoned discussions of evolution, the creation of the universe, and other scientific "magic". He starts out most chapters by discussing some of the myths that have grown up to explain things, then shows how the scientific method has revealed far more accurate--and to Dawkins, more magical--explanations. In discussing these myths, he makes no differentiation between those of the ancients and those of currently popular world religions. Jesus is described only as "a Jewish preacher." I'm sure Dawkins smiled every time he wrote that phrase. I'm a nonbeliever myself, so none of this bothers me, but I do think Dawson at times displays a misunderstanding of faith in general. He debunks the Miracle of Fatima, for instance, by saying that if the sun had actually zoomed down closer to the earth, everyone would have been incinerated. But for the faithful, that is beside the point. If their god could make the sun do that, then their god could also make it happen without harming anyone or without the sun appearing to move for anyone not at Fatima! Still, Dawkins is a patient teacher, reiterating the advantages of the scientific method in each chapter and making the essential point that scientists are always seeking the truth, and if that means dispensing with an old theory when a better one takes its place, so be it. My biggest annoyance with the book, and what keeps it from earning five stars, are the times when Dawkins cites some sort of exception or special case to what he is talking about, but says it would take too long to explain it, then moves on without even a brief aside that would at least point readers in the right direction to find out more information. I would recommend this book mainly for middle schoolers. I read it to see if it would be suitable as the next science book for my 12-year old homeschooled daughter to read. It passed the test.

BTW, I read the trade paperback edition. It has only black and white illustrations for each chapter. I believe there is an edition with better, more numerous color illustrations. I would highly recommend purchasing that version for a few dollars more. There were a few times reading then when I wished for a clear illustration to help illuminate the point Dawkins was making. ( )
  datrappert | Feb 10, 2015 |
Answers some of the most asked questions of the young and inquisitive mind. This book was refreshing and I will definitely be having my daughter read this once she gets old enough. Does not shove anti-religion in your face but also does not leave religion open as a viable option to explain the world. A very good read. ( )
2 vote DarthBrazen | Feb 2, 2015 |
This is the fourth book of Richard Dawkins that I have read - God Delusion, Blind Watchmaker, Selfish Gene and now Magic of Reality.

There is one thing common in all these four books (something tells me you can include other books to this list as well) - he encourages an attitude to think on your own.

Coming to this book, there were some parts of the book that I felt were obvious and not new while I read through it. But that probably is because I have read quite a few books on Evolution, Universe and other Science-related issues. Though they were a repetition for me, I definitely liked the way the author put them in words. A few years ago I picked up the book The Energy of Life - Guy Brown just for general reading purposes, but it in turn spawned an insatiable interest in me to know the how/what/why of things. This book has the potential to do the same.

There are many chapters of the book that I like, but the one that stands out for me was the part where they talk about how the Immune system works and it's impact on the body.

I recommend this book for anyone. ( )
  nmarun | Mar 11, 2014 |
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as Richard Dawkins confirms again and again in this book – his first for "a family audience" – science composes stories as thrilling as Homer, as profound as Job, and as entertaining as anything by Kipling.
added by mikeg2 | editThe Guardian, Tim Radford (Sep 21, 2011)

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Richard Dawkinsprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
McKean, DaveIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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The author of "The God delusion" addresses key scientific questions previously explained by rich mythologies, from the evolution of the first humans and the life cycle of stars to the principles of a rainbow and the origins of the universe.

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