Friday, April 13, 2007

Not recommended reading

With three kids (four, if you count P1, my husband), and being a full-time graduate student, I don't get much chance to read. Most of the reading I get to do is by listening to books on tape. Right now I'm listening to what is supposed to be a SciFi novel "The Second Angel," by Philip Kerr. Sadly it's a lot more Fi than Sci. I'm starting to get really bored by it. More than not being exactly fast-paced, it's the scientific inaccuracies that bother me the most.

Specifically, on tape 1, the author claims that blood provides the most convincing evidence of intelligent design. Because several proteins are required for blood to transport and deliver oxygen to the cells, the author concludes that blood is irreducibly complex, and the chance of blood having occured by "accident" very, very, very small. Conclusion: god did it. Sigh... How creationists go from A to B to C is a mystery to me. Nothing can account for this but faith, certainly nothing having to do with education, intelligence or common sense.

On tape 2, the author explains the genetic background of Thalassemia, which is a blood disease caused by a recessive gene. The author botches the description, stating that the parents of an infected child both had to be homozygous for the gene (of course that would make them very sick, instead of just carriers of the disease). He also explains to the shocked parents who had no idea that they were carriers of a genetic disease because no genetic screening is done in parents in the mid-21st century, that their background is to blame. The father is of greek descent and the mother of italian descent, and in the Mediterranean Thalassemia is much more prevalent, because it confers some resistance to malaria. Nonsense, of course, to judge from this map. Unless the Mediterranean was relocated to the southern part of Africa or something in the early 21st century, malaria is not particularly prevalent there.

So now I'm at the end of tape 2. I wonder whether to continue reading this book and to post my commentary here, or to just give up and not waste any time reading nonsense. It may be fiction, but with such egregious errors, there is not a lot of fun it. Ok, that's it. I'm returning this piece of junk and getting something good instead. Maybe something from Kurt Vonnegut (who is up in heaven) to counteract the bad taste left in my mouth by Philip Kerr.

Update: Ok, book was swapped. If anyone can think of any reason why I should go back to the library and check it out again to finish listening, just let me know.

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