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April 1965

The Ideas of Biology.

Author Affiliations

By John Tyler Bonner. Price, $3.75 text; $4.75 nontext; $1.45 paperback. Harper & Row, 49 E 33rd St, New York, 10016, 1962.

Arch Intern Med. 1965;115(4):503. doi:10.1001/archinte.1965.03860160129028

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This is an excellent book, although the author tries very hard in its first chapter to make it seem that it is not. This chapter contains many examples of an unfortunate mannerism—one that is found in many books on science for beginning students: in order, apparently, to make certain basic biologic processes sound at least somewhat familiar, the author uses allegories and similes that involve inanimate objects. This of course is good pedagogic practice, but, however, the author falls into the trap of giving these inanimate objects psychologic attributes such as feelings, awareness, willpower, etc. He says (page 2): "It is a combination of awareness and co-ordination that is really characteristic of any motor..." Although motors show responsiveness, there is nothing to indicate that they have awareness. Chlorophyll, according to the author (page 8), is capable of "encouraging" carbon dioxide and water to combine to form sugars. These examples might

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