We thought the opening chapters of Emily Willingham’s Phallacy: Life Lessons from the Animal Penis were superb. Willingham demonstrates how to critique a scientific paper for underlying bias: What questions are being asked, and in what ways do a study’s design sway the likelihood of reaching different conclusions? These critical thinking skills are invaluable for students first learning to read research literature. Sometimes data are more ambiguous than students would expect from the way science is covered in the popular press; sometimes authors’ conclusions aren’t really supported by the data. (Willingham draws on a traditional boogeyman—low-sample-size evolutionary psychology studies—for examples of the latter.)

Then Willingham provides a lucid portrait of evolution in action. Readers are likely to gain a great understanding of convergent and divergent evolution, as well as the sorts of environments that are most likely to give rise to each.

These are essential concepts for biology students to...

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