Reading, the arts and physical activity clarify, explain, illustrate, and interpret life’s goods and bads.
Okay, The Selfish Gene, by Richard Dawkins is a complete analysis of gene theory; meaning the basis by which traits are passed from parents to offspring through gene transmission. Genes are located on chromosomes and consist of DNA. Who you are is dependant upon what your DNA physically makes you into. They are passed from parent to offspring through reproduction. In the analysis Prof. Dawkins attempts to determine how the gene manifests itself into everyday life. Note merely human life but all life. Now, I rarely find myself out of agreement with Prof. Dawkins conclusions and he may very well have the true answer here but even after reading this study I am not so sure he has persuaded me as to his thinking on the universal working of genes and compatibility with the Darwinian process.
The attempted persuasion here is that the gene has a universal scheme by which it functions. The book is filled with statistical analysis attempting to persuade. Not so fast though. Prof. Dawkins seems to contend genes have a path they follow, as if they were subject to specific process, a prescribed roadmap. His process is well thought out but there may be more of a catch- as-catch-can effect to gene interaction of Darwinian development rather than statistic practicalities. Perhaps at the gene level variances occur without any relevance to real world factors. It is conceivable genes have no particular communication to the actual world. Then once manifested, their effects move into the world and create living things, by happenstance, not statistical certainty.
This is a brilliant work, but it did not convince me as to its veracity. Anyhow, I found this a very difficult read. Laborious. Too much repeated explanation of Dawkins and other scientist’s statistical analysis. (This book is a little unique as it was republished and Dawkins, uses the republication to comment on his original thoughts – right and wrong conclusions.) Dawkins reliance on statistical analysis is specious: that stuff that tells us how the stock market will work or who will win the next election. Now if you are a biologist or a statistician this would be a very good work to have in your bailiwick of knowledge. But if you just want to know the results of other’s studies, this work may be too data specific to be an enjoyable read or listen.
This audiobook is highly educational and has the potential to liberate someone who has been programmed by religious stories about life on earth and human behavior.
However; The truths in this audiobook about the behavior of animals due to their genetic programming via natural selection for continued replication, can feel like a dry eye opener and slap to the face vs the benevolent nature point of view.
Much respect to the author who has taken the responsibility of teaching us the ugliness of nature, while still advocating altruism among beeings as the most logical behavior (win win scenario) in most cases.
We can and should be genuinely good to each other and to nature and still we will be under our naturally selected selfish genetic objectivism. I am at peace with that.
Eclectic mixer of books of my youth and ones I always meant to read, but didn't.
I recall being very excited after I listened to The Blind Watchmaker (last year I think) and very much looking forward to re-visiting this book. After all, it was this book that sparked the debate about evolution that has flared for decades, now. I think I got too excited.
By the time I listened to this production, the novelty of the Dawkinses' reading of Richard Dawkins' text didn't have the same sparkle for me. In fact, I thought the exchange of his and Lalla Ward's voices wasn't used enough (as opposed to my view about it when employed in The Blind Watchmaker). There was more than one occasion that I was not sure if I was in the 1989 footnote or back in the original text. I had to check the hardcopy more than once. Still, Dawkins' reading is infectious in its enthusiasm and it is hard to fault Lalla Ward's lovely voice.
Also, because of the many advances since the book was first published in the mid '70s and since I first read it in the mid 1980's, some of the original thesis seemed a bit dated. Of course that can hardly be laid at the author's door. It would be unfair indeed to accuse him of being too successful in the promotion of debate, investigation and the development of his Darwinian based theories. I guess I (unfairly) expected the book to have evolved, too.
In one way, the book has evolved. The two new (to me at least) Chapters, particularly the last one, came as a very pleasant surprise. They have provoked me to go in search of The Extended Phenotype. I can't find it in Audible (I understand it is quite long - 300+ pages - from the Amazon reference), but it really seems very interesting if the last Chapter is a fair precise of its content. I look forward to its addition to Audible's collection!
In summary, if you haven't read Dawkins before, you might want to skip this seminal work and move to the more recent writings, many of which summarise this book. I enjoyed it because I enjoy the way Dawkins writes, reasons and argues a case. You don't have to agree with his argument, but you need to be particular dull not to understand it. For me it remains a classic treatment of his basic arguments. It was worth the re-listening and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to study good argumentative writing and wants to understand something about natural selection.
This is an interesting book on genes and evolution. Although I thought I knew about this kind of thing I still found I could learn some things. Most of the time I find authors disappointing as readers but Dawkins and Ward both read really well so it's a comfortable listen. I think this "edition" was particularly good with Dawkins' recent updates and reflections added in with the text.
My only disappointment was when I got to the final chapter. This is a summary of the later book The Extended Phenotype. He says that is the work he is most proud of and recommends to switch to that rather than just read the summary. I was looking forward to doing just that but discovered Extended Phenotype doesn't seem to have an audiobook yet. Bring it on!
Get ready for scenarios and probability. Written in the 1970's, this book was certainly ahead of its time and is very much relevant to today. It even profferred a new word /concept - the meme - in use today. There are some updated comments in response to what Richard previously wrote (that are made known as the book progresses) which add to the quality of this thesis / book and often very funny.
Hey Audible, don't raise prices and I promise to buy lots more books.
Originally published in 1976, this edition builds upon the principal theory of George C. Williams's first book Adaptation and Natural Selection. Dawkins coined the term "selfish gene" as a way of expressing the gene-centered view of evolution as opposed to the views focused on the organism and the group. The view suggests that the more two individuals are genetically related, the more sense (at the level of the genes) it makes for them to behave selflessly with each other. Interestingly, this does not necessarily connote a phenotype (physical expression) preference that is necessarily selfish. The biological concepts and constructs are somewhat technical and even esoteric at times. They are, however, immensely interesting to biologists (especially geneticists) and others interested in the science of evolution. That was what my understanding of the book was to be about. The book, however, goes further.
The Selfish Gene discusses philosophical and moral questions that go way beyond the biological arguments that Dawkins makes. While humanity finally gaining power over the "selfish replicators" is a major theme at the end of the book, Dawkins wastes no time at all in the beginning making his arguments against religion. What, you say, has religion got to do with biology? Exactly my question. Dawkins does this over and over and over again in each of his books that I have read. Frankly, I am as anti religious as he but I believe a book of this nature has no place for that argument. I love the subject of evolution. Generally, I cannot get enough of the subject. However, I am tired of reading Richard Dawkins' antireligion, hackneyed diatribes. I believe the mixing of science and personal agendas is bad science and makes all of an author's writing suspect and unprofessional.
The book was highly recommended by a couple of friends. So I bought it. As it turns out this audio version is a new and improved (???) version of the original book. With insertion of rebuttal by author against every little slight inflicted by any and all intellectual experts on the subject over the past 20+ years. The result is horrible. The author interjects in every paragraph refereeing to some slight by someone and tries to rebut the slight. We the poor reader has no clue about the full extent and the context of the slight asa result this might get the ego of the author satisfied, but for a reader it is most irritating and completely takes away from the central point the author was trying to make. After first couple of hours of listening the whole experience was irritating that I stopped listening.
I took a course Genetics in college eons ago and purchased the book to bring myself up to date on evolutionary theory. The science in the book was quite informative and I enjoyed it. Unfortunately the science is buried in mounds of self justification by the author who attempts to defend in this redo his original 1970's work. It may have been criticized heavily at the time, judging by the lengths to which the author goes, but other than the Nobel Committee, who would care? I should have bought the original edition.