[I]s there anyway I could learn about evolution without having an upper level education in biology and whatnot, (I'm a senior in High School)?Yes! The "catch" (if there is one) is that you will develop an upper level education in biology on the way. You just have to do a lot of reading. Thankfully, there are a number of good books out there that can introduce you to the topic. It is, however, a good idea to have a basic familiarity with biology, particularly genetics and a bit of molecular biology. But, to begin with, the material covered in a high school biology class (or equivalent level of textbook) is a good start. It's important to know, for instance, what an allele is, or the base-pairing of DNA. Also, it's important to understand the relationship between DNA and proteins.
The study of evolution is pretty varied. We can break it down into two major parts:
1) The study of the mechanisms and principles that cause evolutionary change
2) The history of life: the historical record and inferred pattern of changes/transformation
It's important to understand both of these things and they will come from different sources. For instance, basic texts on evolution are pretty weak on paleontology. But paleontology texts will be pretty weak on aspects of evolutionary mechanisms. They're needed to complement each other.
The most important thing, beyond anything, is to understand the evidence for any proposition about evolution. Always ask if the evidence is convincing. If so, why? If not, why not?
Some book recommendations:
A few lay-reader type of books that are really good:
Weiner, J. 1995. The Beak of the Finch. Vintage.
Carroll, S.B. 2005. Endless Forms Most Beautiful. Norton.
Zimmer, C. 1998. At the Water's Edge. Free Press.
Texts on biology and evolutionary biology are always a good and obvious place to start. But my preferred way to do things is to get some basic knowledge set up and start looking at evidence (that's how I learn). Books of any type, age, or scope on zoology, botany, anatomy, palaeontology, are very good because they're extremely visual and give you an understanding of the diversity of living form. If you're a very visual learning, as I am, then these can really be helpful. But they're also useful because a lot of texts on evolution or biology talk about things as though they're somewhat divorced from the actual organism to which they might be relevant. A good background in zoology, botany, as well as palaeontology will be extremely helpful.
The short answer is: yes, there are a lot of readily available resources for self-educating in evolutionary biology. Have fun!
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