Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.
Charles Darwin is in the pantheon of great intuitive geniuses. Richard Dawkins reinforces Darwin’s beliefs in his 30th anniversary edition of “The Selfish Gene”, originally published in 1976.
“The Selfish Gene” theory fails biology like string theory fails physics. Controlled experiments cannot presently prove or disprove Dawkins’ gene hypothesis. On the other hand, both gene and string theory hypotheses are plausible arguments for the evolution of biological life and the physics of a Planck’ sized world.
Putting aside Dawkins’ gene hypothesis, his game theory analogies for human behavior are terrific and worth knowing, whether one believes in “The Selfish Gene” or not. In this time of government turmoil in the United States, Dawkins explanation of suckers, cheaters, and grudgers is enlightening.
Suckers are all the tax paying Americans that want to be left alone and only pay taxes to comply with the law. Cheaters are Americans that game the system through tax avoidance, exploitation, and political contribution based on self-interest. The remaining Americans are grudgers that fight the cheaters and rally the suckers to preserve human freedom, and equal opportunity. If the grudgers are outweighed by the suckers and cheaters, democracy in America is destined to become as extinct as the Dodo bird.
A fellow listener inclined to share my opinion on these productions. Maybe even inspire someone toward a powerful, or educational audiobook!
This was an amazing read. In this 30 year revision he has added many footnotes and a marvelous introduction! If you have read earlier versions of this book you will be impressed at the additions; well worth it!
Author, Richard Dawkins, does an outstanding job in laying out a lot of scientific evidence of why living organisms (humans included) do what they do throughout nature. Is it a simple matter of survival, or do most living organisms actually undergo a process of "cost/benefit" analysis?
This book does a wonderful job of giving some fantastic examples of animal/human behavior and how so much of it is driven by our genetic makeup. Essentially, genes are using the various living organisms that they inhabit, to procreate and carry on the next generation of themselves.
I learned so much from this book, and it kept me captivated and fascinated throughout.
The own experience of Richard Dawkins
the wonderful sequence by which life on earth interact and performs the beautiful planet we live in today
A very clear, complete and beautifully performed audiobook on life sciences
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.
I didn't realize the book was decades old. Even the update is the 80's. A lot has changed in this field.
The book doesn't agree with many of my priors (beliefs, assumptions, etc.) about the world but I found the arguments pretty insightful and compelling. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the author (and he is as committed a Darwinist as they come), it is well worth the read even though I found it's implications to be somewhat depressing. I would have liked to think that elephants, trees, humans, etc. are more than just an efficient mechanism to propagate elephant, tree, and human DNA.
Great read, but I didn't like the way the reader kept switching between Dawkins and Ward. Sometimes it seemed like they almost switched mid-sentence. I wish Dawkins has just read the whole thing.
I've enjoyed listening to this book tremendously. I'm totally new to this topic but still found it easy to understand. Can't wait to read (listen to) his other books.
Up there with the best, it puts what I have seen in nature into a context that allows greater understanding of why nature goes to extremes.
Some sections required a second listen, the understanding to flow is worth the effort.
Not that sort of book.
I could not listen to it in one sitting, it required concentration, but the quality of writing made the subject easier, it is great to feel comfortable with my level of understanding now, but I suspect very few people could get a good understanding in one sitting. Like a complex movie, the second time around is just as revealing as the first.