Book Review: The Greatest Show On Earth by Richard Dawkins

Few questions are as fascinating as the questions about our origin of life. The quest for the truth of our origin and how science leads this quest really fascinates me. Science says that life on earth started with lesser forms of life like bacteria and then evolved to advanced forms of life like fish, apes and humans. The historic debate of Science vs. Religion has two sets of people: evolutionists, who believe in the scientific theory that life evolved slowly over millions of years, and creationists, who say that all life on Earth was created by God only a few thousand years ago.

One of my favourite books on evolutionary science is ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ written by the biologist Richard Dawkins. This book holds a very important place because it brings together all the scientific evidence for Darwin’s theory of evolution, an idea that dominated science and that was pivotal for scientific progress in the last century. I have special appreciation for Dawkins for making science so simple and interesting for the general audience.

Dawkins starts the book with a discussion about the problem of calling the evolutionary theory as a ‘theory’. He says that it causes people to misinterpret that evolution is not true in reality. The book then covers how humans created various breeds of dogs through domestication. If humans could transform a wolf into different breeds of dogs in just a few hundred years, then there is no wonder that nature could make different species of animals and plants in millions of years.

The book then covers a very interesting topic of how scientists measure long periods of time that run into billions of years. The author introduces us to carbon dating and tree rings, clocks that are found in nature and that can precisely measure time for a few millions of years. After providing a very comprehensive explanation on natural clocks, Dawkins draws out heaps of fossil evidence to show the strength of evidence for evolution. At times, Dawkins does accept that there are some missing links in the scientific evidence for evolution. He draws an analogy that evolution is like the hour hand of the clock; one never sees the hour hand move, but we know that it moves.

I especially like the way Dawkins brings together evidence from geology, physics, fossil evidence, cell biology, and cosmology and helps us appreciate the beauty of evolution. The book conveys that there is grandeur in the evolution of life, and the endless beauty around us is a direct consequence of natural selection – the greatest show on Earth.

Thank you.

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What’s happening in Online India?

The Nielsen Global Online Shopping Report looks at how consumers shop online: what they intend to buy, how they use various sites, the impact of social media and other factors that come into play when they are trying to decide how to spend their money.

  • More than eight out of ten Indian online consumers plan to shop online in the next twelve months
  • More than a quarter indicate they spend upwards of 11 percent of their monthly shopping expenditure on online purchases
  • 71 percent Indians trust recommendations from family when making an online purchase decision, followed by recommendations from friends at 64 percent and online product reviews at 29 percent
  • Half the Indian consumers (50%) use social media sites to help them make online purchase decisions.
  • Online reviews and opinions are most important for Indians when buying Consumer Electronics (57%), Software (50%), and a Car (47%).
  • More than four in ten Indians are more likely to share (post a review/ Tweet/ review) a negative product or service experience online than they were to share a positive experience
  • In the next six months Indians are most likely to buy Books (41%), Airline ticket/reservations (40%), and Electronic equipment like TV, Camera, etc. (36%) online
  • When shopping online, one third of Indians (33%) purchase most frequently from websites which allow them to select products from many different stores.
Google India‘s Managing Director – Rajan Anandan gave a keynote speech at NASSCOM Social Media Summit in Delhi on 29th April, 2011. Following are some of the videos from the summit:

HBS Case Studies to read

Some of the case studies which are a must-read for every marketer:

1. Marketing Myopia

There is a reason for this being the first in this list. This is a revolutionary
article on Marketing written by Theodore Levitt. This article made him world-famous and the father of modern marketing. This is one of my favourite articles and is easily one of the greatest contributions to Marketing.

2. Marketing Simulation: Managing segments and customers

This is a simulation program from Harvard Business School, where the student assumes the positions of CEO and CMO of a medical motor manufacturer and are tasked with executing successful B2B marketing strategies from period to period. This is one program that teaches you the whole framework of Marketing Strategy.

3. Marketing Analysis Toolkit: Market Size and Market Share Analysis

Market shares, market sizes, growth rates are the breath of every marketer. Every marketer should understand the basics of market and how these are calculated. Marketers frequently need to estimate the projected sizes of the markets and market shares. This case covers all you need to know about the market analysis and projections for both existing products and new products.

4. Giant Consumer Products: The Sales Promotion Resource Allocation Decision

This case provides students with an opportunity to become familiar with some major strategic issues that firms face when formulating and implementing a sales promotion, including: cannibalization, branding, pricing strategies.

5. Cunard Line Ltd.: Managing Integrated Marketing Communications

Cunard, the world’s oldest luxury line company, is confronted with several key issues involving its marketing and marketing communications strategy. One concerns the balance between image/positioning, and the competition planning. This case explains all the problems related to positioning, and how to solve the communications problems with an integrated communications strategy. This is a very important case for every marketer.

6. Creating a Marketing Plan: An Overview

This is well explained in the book Marketer’s Essentials, a book by HBS. But it is a delight to go through this book and the way all the concepts of marketing are integrated to develop marketing strategies. Also definite templates for Marketing Plan, and Customer Value are provided.

Also, one can refer to

Also, refer to the references of papers in Marketing Management text book given for each chapter. This is a very comprehensive collection of all papers in Marketing.

Qualitative Market Research – Book Review

The Book: Qualitative Market Research by Wendy Gordon and Roy Langmaid

About the Authors:

Wendy Gordon and Roy Langmaid run successful qualitative research practices in London. Roy Langmaid is one of Europe’s leading consumer psychologists and Wendy Gordon is the co-founder of brand consultancy The Fourth Room. One of the authors has a psychology degree, and the other a social anthropology degree; both of them have experienced clinical psychology first hand and are one of the most celebrated authors in the field of Qualitative Research.


It is the authors’ commitment to accumulate the knowledge of forty years of their experience that created this book. I congratulate the authors for taking on such a challenging task of writing a comprehensive book on Qualitative Research.

This is the first book to bring all the practices and principles of the sister discipline of market research – Qualitative Research. The book starts with the introduction to qualitative research and the contribution to the growth of Qualitative Research. The authors state that the days of endless debates about the superiority of quantitative and qualitative research are over. Both the methods have their strengths and weaknesses and are friends and not enemies. The authors go on to describe the problem areas suited to Qualitative Research such as consumer perceptions, understanding the dimensions of brands, new product development, creative development and diagnostic studies. Furthermore, the authors describe the choice of research methodology and the process of research brief and research objective.

Starting from Chapter Three is the group processes and group dynamics. This is about what factors influence what people say and how they behave in groups. This chapter discusses the components of group discussion, how group discussion is used in research, and the Do’s and don’ts for the interviewer. This describes the several stages of a group process like Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Mourning. There have been some very good ideas and techniques like anchoring on how to do better group interviewing.

Starting from Chapter Six is my favourite part of the book: the individual depth interview, non-verbal communication (NVC) and projective techniques. The book describes the skills required for good depth-interviewing and the internal and external parameters of body language. It describes the application and usage of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), study of eye and head movements and body postures during the interview. It provides a complete coverage of major projective and enabling techniques and this is the best part of the book. It covers all the different association procedures, completion procedures, construction and expressive procedures used in NVC. The usage of psycho drawing, thought bubbles, brand mapping, sentence completion, word association, mirroring  and other techniques are explained in detail with examples.

The book flows into the interpretation and presentation of qualitative research. Various techniques of interpretation are explained given the fact that people often ‘don’t say what they mean’ and ‘don’t mean what they say’. Also, there has been special focus on how to conduct research with children and the techniques used in such research. The book concludes with the various hybrid methodologies and statistical procedures used for the analysis of qualitative research.

This book really helped me to get a holistic picture of qualitative research. It helped me interrogate and digest the various techniques involved in qualitative research. I just loved some of the psycho drawings and associations presented in this book. It made me ask some interesting questions of how music can be used in qualitative research and consumer behaviour.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to have a good understanding of all the techniques of qualitative research that are making qualitative research influential. The book doesn’t have much of technical jargon and is a very simple and beautiful read for anybody slightly interested in market research and any form of behavioural sciences.

Thank you. It has been pleasure writing this review.

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