Textbook give-away!

As I announced yesterday, I’m clearing out the accumulated bookage of my office shelves and giving away free books on Patreon. Patreon has a few rules I have to follow, though:

  • I can’t bribe people to sign up for Patreon, which is fair enough, so it has to be open to anyone and everyone.
  • I can’t use chance to decide who gets the books, because then it would be a raffle. No gambling allowed!

So here’s my plan. I’m going to show you three pairs of books, each pair consisting of one lovely, useful, science-filled textbook, and one horrid, wretched, lying piece of garbage. You have to accept them as a set, although they’re yours at that point, and I can’t tell you what to do to them. I only ask that you don’t give away creationist trash to libraries or whatever; let’s keep those away from impressionable minds, OK? The good texts are still useful, they’re older editions or redundant copies, and not white elephants at all. The others? Just trash I want to get rid of.

The way this will work is that I’ll list 3 pairs, Set A, B, and C, and you can comment on Patreon and let me know which set you want. Say why! I’ll use your comment to judge who gets them this time. If you don’t get it, don’t panic! I have lots and lots of books, and plan to do this weekly.

I have to add one other pragmatic criterion: I’ll favor North American recipients, and will be sparing in sending them overseas, just to save myself some extravagant shipping costs. I won’t totally exclude you furriners, though — if you give me a really good reason, I’ll find a way.

Here are this week’s choices:

Set A: Essential Cell Biology, 4th edition, by Alberts and others. It’s a good basic cell & molecular textbook. I’ve got a couple of copies of the most recent edition, so I can spare this one. I’ve paired it with one of Michael Behe’s, The Edge of Evolution. I’ll never read that book again, it was a waste of time the first time, but maybe you can a use for it.

Set B: Essentials of Genetics, ninth edition, by Klug and others (this one is paper bound). It’s a solid introduction to transmission genetics. Again, I’ve got multiple editions and copies, and I teach out of Concepts of Genetics, so this is another quality text I don’t need. I’m throwing in Jeanson’s Replacing Darwin, since if you understand genetics at an undergrad level you’ll be able to see why it’s crap.

Set C: Neuroscience, 3rd edition, by Purves and others. Most of the neurobiology texts I’ve gone are great thick monsters, but this one is comparatively slender and digestible. It’s still a good reference text, though. I’m flinging Meyer’s ungodly bad Signature in the Cell at it, since he seems to be under the delusion that he understands intelligence and the mind. He doesn’t.

Let’s give this a try! If you’re interested, leave a comment that says which set interests you, why you would find the books interesting, and mention if you live overseas (which won’t disqualify you, it just means I’ll be limiting my expenses a bit). I’ll make a decision by next weekend and get another set ready.

Help me clear 20cm off my bookshelf!


  1. says

    Ah, I was sadly prevented from commenting on Patreon.

    However I will say that I’m actually interested in the neuroscience/signature in the cell book. Why that pair?

    Well, the neuroscience book comes closest to my own training in undergrad and 500-level psychology. I worked on the 500-level stuff primarily as it related to cognitive heuristics, because that was related to my studies of why we employ the ethics we employ — because I was interested in not merely what ethical system might be best in some abstract sense, but what ethical systems might be best for human beings, with all their inherent abilities and limitations including more relevantly for ethical decision making… thinking and decision making abilities and limitations.

    While I have some decent knowledge of how cognitive heuristics limit and benefit us, I’m very curious (in the non-biologist way) in knowing more about neurology itself because of how the physical processes which allow us to think and make decisions underlie those cognitive heuristics and determine which of these heuristics we can supersede, which we can partially supersede, and which we can simply never overcome due to the physical limits of our particular neurology. I think it’s likely that this basic neurology text wouldn’t cover the bridges between neurology and psychology very well, but I actually already have texts left over from school that try to do this from the psychology side. I can thus pair this book with a re-reading of those to see if I can gain any new understanding of how our biology affects our moral thinking.

    Of the 3 creationist texts, it just so happens that Signature in the Cell interests me most. This is not because I think it would be the best, but merely because in my own neck of the woods it is the one I see referenced most often. I can’t promise I would read the whole thing, but neither would it be a doorstop: I would certainly skim the whole thing, and very likely read some sections that catch my eye both to understand Meyer’s more general habits of reasoning (rather than just the reasoning deployed in a particular argument) and also to see some of the arguments in full that I have previously only seen excerpted. I would probably also look up at least a couple cited sources to see how closely he does (or doesn’t) follow those sources’ facts, arguments, and conclusions in his own writing. I’m particularly interested in situations where Meyer (and his ilk) cite 19th century biologists. Obviously there are a couple very famous examples (I’m looking at you, vertebrate eye) of Darwin’s thoughts on a character or organism being taken out of context, but I’m curious if there are more, and how they are handled by people like Meyer. I read On the Origin of Species twice, once in my first year of college (I wasn’t even studying biology, I just felt like it) oh-so-many years ago, and once about 3 or 4 years ago, so I’m not entirely unfamiliar with Darwin’s thoughts, though admittedly I would have to refresh because for lack of everyday interaction with the topic I’m much more likely to forget important aspects of Darwin’s writing than aspects of writing I still use in my day to day work.

  2. BACONSQAUDgaming says

    What? You aren’t getting rid of your Atlas of Creation? Or have you already done that?

  3. climateteacherjohnj says

    Oh man,
    This caught my eye over at Mastodon. “Free” is just one of those words that pop! I teach biology and math online these days and I’ve been lucky to get some precocious young homeschoolers as well as afterschool kids who want the college-level stuff. My, and their, interests are ecology, evolution, and the whole of biology. Since I had to move abruptly (a few years ago now) I lost most of my textbooks from my undergraduate years. I haven’t been able to replace them. And since I won’t dare set foot in the embattled classroom anymore, I’ve got to give this online teaching a try. But, I’m also broke AF.
    So, that’s my sob story. Besides also just hankering after an excuse to debunk and tear down those myths if they come up in student discussions. I’d like to be prepared, inoculated as it were. So, sign me, very interested!
    Thank you PZ!

  4. birgerjohansson says

    Has any of those books been banned in Florida? That should increase the collectible value a hundredfold.

  5. charley says

    I had my eye on Signature in the Cell as the best source of fire-starting pages for my fireplace, but Crip Dyke’s case is admittedly more compelling.

  6. tantalusprime says

    I don’t want it, but I do have to agree that Purves is an excellent text. If you need the details, read Kandel; but if you want to understand neuroscience, read Purves.

  7. climateteacherjohnj says

    Oops, I forget to say which set! I still have Darnell’s Molecular Cell Biology, 2nd ed. but no texts on genetics so, Essentials of Genetics and the Jeanson’s flop look like good restarters. If I may. I don’t have a Patreon account anymore so, I can’t see if they’ve been taken. Thank you for doing this kindness to someone, – John Jorgensen, a.k.a ‘Climate Teacher John J’

  8. logicalcat says

    I would like essential cell biology (set A), but only if no one else will. I’m just an EMT so its just for fun on my end although I’m tired of this job and want to be a medical lab tech in the future so maybe that would help. But I would definitely prefer if the book was given to someone with more immediate use of it as these books can be expensive.

  9. Ridana says

    Are you also giving away the little figures with each set? I’m curious about why you have them and what they’re from. They’re very cute!

  10. birgerjohansson says

    “I don’t think I could afford to ship that monster”
    Try this mammoth tome:”The Proterozoic Biosphere”!

  11. hemidactylus says

    This is a great thing for such specific types of texts I’d be interested in except for the fact I have way too many books already and won’t read them in two lifetimes. To save space I get ebooks anymore, except rare occasions where I fund Bezos’ superyacht for print versions not found digitally. Hope your readers benefit greatly from your shelf weeding.

  12. acdoylejr says

    I would be happy with any of the bi-polar sets. I was an anthropology major. My college had three tracks: archaeological anthropology, social anthropology, and biological anthropology. I chose the biological, which meant my degree was actually in Natural Sciences, rather than Social Sciences or Humanities. I went on to get a Master’s in Public Health.

    For completing all the requirements in Biological Anthropology, courses in the bio department, such as population biology, genetics, ecology would count, so I took several. The bio department was divided into CDB (cellular and developmental biology) and OEB (organismic and evolutionary biology). I took the famous E.O. Wilson course, and while much of it troubled me, Wilson’s findings with bees and ants and termites were less disturbing than the ways that a-holes could bend and twist sociobiology to racist conclusions. Gould was a good lecturer, and an entertaining writer. He was frail, suffering from the usually fatal mesothilioma, bald from chemo and radio, wore a little Navy wool watch cap. Nice guy.

    Naturally Social Anthro courses counted, so I read a lot of stuff that was “classic” 40 years ago, and i undoubtedly discredited now as racist and methodologically slipshod — Emile Durkheim, Claude Levi-Strauss, Margaret Mead, Mercea Eliade, Clifford Geertz. I read a few years back that some elderly Samoan women said they were pulling Mead’s leg — they were offended that this pompous young Brit was asking them inappropriate questions about sex, etc., so they just lied to her, and giggled about it afterward. Meaning that most of Mead’s “great findings” were based on her being fooled by mischievous Samoan teens.

    The archaeology of Sumer and Akkad and Babylon and Assyria and Egypt and the African kingdoms was cool.

    The biology track was mostly primate and human evolution, possibly eurocentric, but I don’t recall it being offensive. Ramapithecus, australopithecus, homo erectus, homo habilis sort of stuff. We read a fair bit of Gould and his ilk.

    In grad school the biology portion of public health largely consisted of epidemiology, as in tracking STDs through teenage populations in Boston, or low birthweight among blacks, etc.

    Anyway, this was a long time ago, and human biology lite. Meaning others, such as Cripdyke, have far better bona fides. But is any of the books are unclaimed, I’ll take a pair.


  13. says

    @birger johansson:

    The Proterozoic Biosphere?

    Publisher ‏ : ‎ Cambridge University Press; First Edition (June 26, 1992)
    Language ‏ : ‎ English
    Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 1374 pages
    ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0521366151
    ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0521366151
    Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 7.62 pounds
    Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 9 x 2.75 x 11.5 inches

    Only 7 pounds of 8&1/2 by 11 paper? Pish and tosh. I have to have 5 books around here each with more than 1300 pages. Hang on. Hang on. No, not that one. Okay, I have to have 5 books around here that sum to more than 1300 pages!