Review of 'The Dragons of Eden'

The Dragons of Eden by Carl Sagan

the_dragons_of_eden.jpg Carl Sagan is probably best known for his “Cosmos” television series where he attempts to explain the concepts of modern (at the time) physics to ordinary viewers. In “The Dragons of Eden” he turns himself to the world of Biology, a subject in which he admits he is not an expert relying on such experts to supplement his thinking.

Beginning with the now-familiar “cosmic calendar” that condenses the life-span of the universe into a familiar construct: an Earth year, we are humbled to think that we occupy quite a small fragment of the final seconds of the final day of the year. From here we quickly move onto the theme of the book, and that is, human intelligence where he returns again and again to the old axiom of brain size dictating intelligence though, to be fair, he does begin with an explanation of why he believes this to be so. The penultimate chapter Sagan does touch on what is know fairly old news regarding machine intelligence though illustrating this with something that is not such a good example of this: Computer graphics. The final chapter ties it all up into a neat package with his belief in extra-terrestrial intelligence.

As one might expect with a popular scientist, Sagan does touch on some fairly outrageous topics to engage and, perhaps, entertain the reader but at the heart of the matter are scientific principles which he has a knack of explaining to non-scientists though often I did find my mind glazing over in parts. I do believe that he is a bit heavy handed with some of the science, more so than is probably necessary here and making the book feel over-long, but it is generally speaking an interesting book.

Rating: “It is OK but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2022-09-04

Genre: Non-Fiction

Publisher: Random House

Publication Date: 1977

ISBN: 0345260317