Richard Dawkins and his wife, actor Lalla Ward, give a highly entertaining read of Dawkins's 1986 critique of creationism, The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design. The audiobook follows an updated edition of the book from 2006 and provides intricate explanations, by way of witty examples, of why random, infinitesimal gene changes over millions of years have produced us and the world we live in. Dawkins's writing contains a self-deprecating, dry sense of humor that comes to life as he reads his best-selling book. Alternating voices between Dawkins and Lalla Ward provides nice listening contrast while also setting apart examples, clarifications, and segments of greater detail. Dawkins and his wife live in a world that is perhaps more scientific on a daily basis than ours so the book takes great care to vary the delivery of information for greater emphasis and easy understanding.
Dawkins's goal in The Blind Watchmaker is to "remove by explaining" any doubt that anything but scientific fact is behind the origin of the universe. Just because something — like human beings or the universe — is complex does not mean that it cannot be explained. Dawkins works hard to help listeners understand the smaller-than-microscopic changes that evolved through staggering amounts of time, changes humans have a hard time intuitively comprehending. To paraphrase the author, do not draw conclusions from your own inability to understand something. The truth of Darwinism comes in its acceptance of physics, probability, and the unending march of time. Dawkins helps listeners out by using examples that are easier to grasp: for example, the evolution from wolves to domesticated dogs. Or how echo location in bats clearly shows the evolution of a trait necessary for survival of a species.
The Blind Watchmaker, read by the author and by Lalla Ward, is an example of an audiobook best listened to while not driving or operating anything requiring devoted attention. Dawkins calls upon us to think about complex concepts that are not necessarily part of daily life. Led by the author, The Blind Watchmkaer is a lively, humorous explanation of the seemingly mystical yet ultimately understandable maze of evolution that is our world. Along the way it is nice to know that a scientist such as Dawkins can, like us, forget to save information on his computer. Re-creation of his data simply leads to another example of probability and complexity that makes, as Dawkins reiterates, the circumstances of any of us being here surprisingly unique, but scientifically not unusual. Carole Chouinard
The Blind Watchmaker, knowledgably narrated by author Richard Dawkins and Lalla Ward, is as prescient and timely a book as ever. The watchmaker belongs to the 18th-century theologian William Paley, who argued that just as a watch is too complicated and functional to have sprung into existence by accident, so too must all living things, with their far greater complexity, be purposefully designed. Charles Darwin's brilliant discovery challenged the creationist arguments; but only Richard Dawkins could have written this elegant riposte. Natural selection - the unconscious, automatic, blind, yet essentially nonrandom process Darwin discovered - is the blind watchmaker in nature.
©1986, 1987, 1996 Richard Dawkins (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
"As readable and vigorous a defense of Darwinism as has been published since 1859. (The Economist)
"The best general account of evolution I have read in recent years." (E. O. Wilson, Professor in Entomology, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University)
“Dawkins’s explanation of the evolutionary process continues to be timely and revelatory…This dual reading is an interesting model for a scientific text. It helps to clarify and emphasize points… this is a commendable production, and an excellent primer on how evolution works.” (AudoFile)
Reading, the arts and physical activity clarify, explain, illustrate, and interpret life’s goods and bads.
It certainly assembles all arguments against natural selection and provides indexed muliplle arguments to defeat creationist allegations, thinkings and biases. It just became too much of the same; repeating the failures of creationist logic and comparting it to dawrinistic proofs time and again and again. Although, for one who wants to master all thoughts on the subject it is complete. I am a darwinist, and still got tired of the logic versus the prayer. The presentation or reading thought was well done. The pass off between Dawkins and Ward made it easier but only for the first 70% of the read (listen).
I am a clay sculptor and an art instructor at a community college. I mostly listen to audiobooks while I work in my home studio.
I really enjoyed the book. All of the technology references are laughably dated, but the biology, writing and explanations seem to hold up just fine.
The only question I have comes up late in the book. I would like to know Dawkins' thoughts on newer research that seems to support a variation of Lamarkism. Dawkins' vehemently objects to the idea and his evidence seems clear except that I've read about inheritance of acquired traits in recent periodicals and would like to know if any new information has caused Dawkins to adjust his opinions (or if they are still as strong and he finds the new research flawed).
susinict, thoughtful, and comprehensive
Yes, all due respect to Prof. Dawkins, Lalla is one of the best voice performers I've heard since I started using audible.
The beginning (definition bit) is slow and requires your attention but the rest is great and makes every point clear and if not "easy" at least logical to understand.
This book is definitely among my favorites to listen to, ever. I have listened to it at least three times through now and it delivers something new every time. It is very well written in Richard Dawkins' distinctive style - smart, humorous, thoughtful and engaging. I can imagine Dawkins to be a superb teacher who makes his students fall in love with the subject.The narration is amazing. The best out of all the books I have ever listened to. In fact all of Dawkins' books are a true pleasure to listen - he is very passionate about his subject and knows it inside and out. Sometimes i listen to one of his books (I have bought every single one of them and they are all fantastically narrated) just because it is such a pleasure to listen to him and Lalla Ward perform it.
The story comes to life when narrated by Richard Dawkins and Lalla Ward. I have read all of Dawkins' books and they are brilliant, but I definitely prefer to listen to him narrate, so I have bought and listened to all of the available audio versions as well. Ever since getting an audio version of a book i never went back to the paper version. That is probably because the books are written in a conversational style (which makes them so lovely to read) so to listen to an actual conversation is real fun.
Definitely yes, it didn't take me long to finish - and start again - it kept me up some nights
I found Richard Dawkins' book very interesting but very heavy going for the 'lay-man'. It was swimming in scientific rhetoric and step by painful step analysis. All I wanted to do was cut to the chase! I will have to revisit the book again to be able to digest it further as my mind tended to fog over with the analysis of each minute detail. However I am glad I read it and am inspired to know more about the beginning of the world as we know it. I have long discarded the theory of "One god-like Being made the world in a week and then on Sunday he rested" One salient point was not touched - how the universe came into being in the first place?
I've listen to Dawkins narrate On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin and that was great. Dawkins is a very clear speaker and quite pleasant to listen to.
I'm about half way through and I want to tear my hair out. I WILL FINISH THIS BOOK IF IT KILLS ME. Because I like this topic. Because it's an intelligent argument and there's a lot of interesting information in the book. Because it's one of those books that you kind of "have" to read.
But GOD this is a tedious read. The hilarious irony is that Dawkins spends a good couple paragraphs talking about how while analogy is a good way to explain complicated concepts, but it is important not to become so crack brained as to use TOO many analogies. I AGREE!!! I guess his idea of a reasonable number of analogies is very different from mine.
I felt like stopping at least a 100 times. Not because I disagree with things he is saying. Only that after his initial explanation, he goes on to press and push and provide another 5000 words on something that I ALREADY GOT THE FIRST TIME.
Is he trying to "persuade" people about Darwinian evolution? I wish there was a short version for people already convinced of this, where he just includes the first 100 words of each chapter and that way we don't have to subject ourselves to 1001 extra examples and cases of something we got in the first example.
Anyway he's laying out his argument "for" in a way that a very boring high school debate team would when arguing a case "against"
- First, define what we mean by "evolution" (not necessarily "getting better" but becoming more adapted (to the environment, predators, disease etc) and passing on more genes
- Establish the concept of "cumulative" change vs. one-shot genetic change (build an eye by tiny incremental steps)
- Lay out the case that this process took a LONG long time (more than the human concept of scale can easily grasp, but that we can compute)
- Tiny probabilities may not be that tiny given enough time to occur
...that's as far as I've got. As I said, very clearly laid out. I wish it wasn't as pedantic and boring as it ends up being...
I will prevail...
UPDATE: I finished this and then had to lie around like a trauma victim because my brain became so bored it almost shut itself off. How can such an interesting topic have become so hashed up. How can such intelligent writing be so dang boring. That is all and never again.
Richard Dawkins deserved so much credit of my curious and confused mind. He is so brilliant that this audiobook once you start listening you just can't stop. Lalla Ward is splendid as Richard Dawkins. I love listening to her voice. But of course Richard Dawkins is unparallel.He is like listening to my High School teacher in Physics who is also from England. He has this teacher or professor sounding nice and kind voice.This book was well written and carefully scripted not to offend the creationist believers.
It will go down in history as the 21st century, the Age of Enlightment. Like Charles Darwin when his Theory of Evolution was first published in 1859. I was 13 years old when I started questioning about our creator. I had few catholic missionary friends when I was 13 yo and started asking questions of our creator. I was never satisfied of their answers. They all seems to have the same answer.."Faith"...a blind faith. It took me over 40 years to realize that I should not feel guilty that there's no such thing as Intelligent Design. Finally, all these clouds in my mind are 100% clear now. There's no such thing as Intelliget Design (ID) fun intented :) Bravo to Sir Richard Dawkins!
Private intellectual, writer, and retired academic. Currently R&D director for Gravitational Systems Engineering, Inc.
As a student of historical religions, and science as religion I find Darwin extremely compelling, and logical. Dawkins on the other hand, has truly drunk the Kool-aid. I realize that the work is a bit dated, so some inaccuracies, for example his near ridicule of epi-genetics and Lemarkism, by focus on genes rather than switches. However, as a scientist I have learned that absolute certainty is only for mountebanks. I must say however, that I learned a lot, despite the fact that I have read most of Darwin's works, and many related texts. Unfortunately it is easy to get riled up by his everyone else is an idiot tone, and miss many of the startling insights of the work. I have a lot of respect for Mr.Dawkins, so I truly hope that this was more of a show than his true scientific point of view. And yet, all in all, I would recommend the book to all who have an interest.
I would recommend it to those with an interest in evolution, but with reservations. It is 80% good, but sometimes comes across as peevish and pedantic, in particular the chapter on punctuated equilibrium.
I actually preferred Prof. Dawkins' narration of the "Origin of Species".
I am sure Prof. Dawkins enjoyed doing a project with his wife, and justified this on the basis of her being a classically trained actor. However the switching between one voice and another became annoying, and sometimes confusing, when it was done in the middle of a passage expressing a single idea.
"Let down by very poor reading"
A professional and quality narration would do justice to the book. Dawkins is not a good reader of his own work …and the book itself does not let itself easily to a reading.
"Some good analysis but lacks vision"
The author is good at analyzing the work of other writers and is able to produce well though out arguments for or against each theory. However I found it frustrating that any of his own original concepts and examples were shallow and lacked imagination. In fact he falls into the traps he warns against. In many instances he extrapolates from what he sees on earth now and not from what all possibilities might produce. When he postulates on the existence of life on other planets he suggests that we should have received radio signals. This assumes that at some point in the evolution of life on another planet a human type brain is probable.
I would recommend this book to people who are struggling with the concept of evolution. I would also recommend it to anyone who believes that life as we know it could only come about as a result of an all knowing entity.
Not yet decided.
Work well together
I would change the name. Even a blind watchmaker will act with intent and yet he goes to great length to point out that evolution does not.
I would remove any section of the book where the author attempts to extrapolate from the work of others to give us his beliefs on a topic.
I would remove any of the statements he makes which make assumptions for the ability of human beings to understand a particular concept and ask the author to replace with "I find it difficult to imagine, understand, picture" or " some people find it difficult to ".
From his attempts to draw conclusions on certain concepts it appears he is expressing his struggle to visualize and assuming everyone else has the same difficulty.
I agree with his analysis of the work of other authors.
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