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The Blind Watchmaker Audiobook

The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design

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Audible Editor Reviews

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

Publisher's Summary

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.

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Mark Raglan, New Zealand 04-12-12
    Mark Raglan, New Zealand 04-12-12 Member Since 2016

    I love listening to books when cycling, paddleboarding, etc but I press pause when I need to concentrate. Its safer & I don't lose the plot!

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    "Quality"
    What made the experience of listening to The Blind Watchmaker the most enjoyable?

    One of the great modern thinkers - straight from the horse's mouth


    What other book might you compare The Blind Watchmaker to and why?

    The Selfish Gene. No prizes for guessing why


    What about Richard Dawkins and Lalla Ward ’s performance did you like?

    Great narration. The switching added interest


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    No, it was just sustained high quality


    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Blythe California 02-27-16
    Blythe California 02-27-16 Member Since 2012
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    "Lacking if you already know evolutionary theory"
    Would you recommend The Blind Watchmaker to your friends? Why or why not?

    This would be a 5-star recommendation to anyone unfamiliar with Darwin's theory of evolution, or who disbelieved in evolution entirely. However, as a biologist, I found quite a lot of the book condescending and a bit boring. I also think the section on LaMarckian theories needs updating. And I dislike the way Dawkins uses his books as a platform to scoff at people he disagrees with (or who have disagreed with him). So, read it if you know nothing about evolution and want to learn more; but give it a miss if you're already familiar with Darwinism.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J.B. Fort Lauderdale, FL, United States 03-29-14
    J.B. Fort Lauderdale, FL, United States 03-29-14 Member Since 2009

    Reading, the arts and physical activity clarify, explain, illustrate, and interpret life’s goods and bads.

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    "Outdated, pedantic; but not a mere Compendium"

    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).

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rachel YAKIMA, WA, United States 01-25-14
    Rachel YAKIMA, WA, United States 01-25-14 Member Since 2013

    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.

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    "A bit dated but still great"

    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).

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DS 02-06-13
    DS 02-06-13

    Say something about yourself!

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    "GREAT LOGICAL READ"

    For all the creationists out there and for smart people who want a good read, this should be mandatory in high school science classes.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Auckland, New Zealand 01-08-13
    Amazon Customer Auckland, New Zealand 01-08-13 Member Since 2011

    showercomb

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    "A superb book, brilliant narration"
    Where does The Blind Watchmaker rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    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.


    What does Richard Dawkins and Lalla Ward bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    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.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Definitely yes, it didn't take me long to finish - and start again - it kept me up some nights


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    08-26-11
    08-26-11 Member Since 2010
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    "Heavy going but lots of information."

    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?

    12 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eric Vancouver, BC, Canada 07-18-11
    Eric Vancouver, BC, Canada 07-18-11
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    "Book of Enlightment"

    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!

    27 of 45 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gare&Sophia Alexandria, VA, United States 08-10-11
    Gare&Sophia Alexandria, VA, United States 08-10-11 Member Since 2012

    Private intellectual, writer, and retired academic. Currently R&D director for Gravitational Systems Engineering, Inc.

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    "Extremely informative, extremely dogmatic"

    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.

    15 of 27 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steve Reischel Evansville, WI United States 01-18-17
    Steve Reischel Evansville, WI United States 01-18-17 Member Since 2015
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    "Very detailed explanation of evolution"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Maybe. If my friend was having trouble understanding or accepting the theory of evolution, I would recommend the book.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    It was anticlimactic. The book is nonfiction and isn't really a "story" so it doesn't have that sort of climax like a novel would have.


    What does Richard Dawkins and Lalla Ward bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    By having the two of them narrate, they are able to do things like have one person explain something and the other person can quote others to make a point. That part worked well. Other than that, it was essentially the two of them trading off the narration. The other part that was fun for me is their accents and pronunciation.


    Was The Blind Watchmaker worth the listening time?

    For me, it was way too long. There were a few points they made along the way that were somewhat of an "ah-hah!" moment for me. But since I already had a pretty solid understanding of evolution by natural selection, the discussions got dragged out far longer than my attention span.


    Any additional comments?

    The book was written 30 years ago, and while the theory of evolution hasn't fundamentally changed in that time, some of the examples used in the book could use an update.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Matthew
    United Kingdom
    11/16/11
    Overall
    "Read the Selfish Gene instead"

    The Blind Watchmaker is an interesting listen. As with the Selfish Gene, the duo of Dawkins and Lalla Ward makes for excellent narration. It covers a great deal of interesting material, and if you haven't listened to the Selfish Gene, I recommend it.

    The premise of the book is a rebuttal of the Watchmaker argument for an intelligent designer. The theory of evolution itself is an excellent rebuttal of most of this argument, so I was hoping this book might concentrate on the principal weakness of arguments for life without design: the origin of life. Instead, this is covered in a part of one chapter, and in no great depth. I was left disappointed.

    The Selfish Gene is an excellent introduction to evolution, and mostly covers the same topics as Blind Watchmaker. The Blind Watchmaker has more examples, but they're really going over much the same ground.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Jeremy
    Malvern Wells, United Kingdom
    8/10/11
    Overall
    "Sparkling with life!"

    This is a wonderful audiobook, literary full of wonder at the ingenuity of nature. It brought back memories for me as a student of being similarly stunned reading "The Selfish Gene". Early on in this book, Dawkins declares that he prefers the miraculous wonderment of William Paley, to the atheist who cannot see that anything needs explanation about the origins of complex life.

    Yet, in "The Blind Watchmaker", he makes the case with brilliant clarity, that the process that has given rise to the creative diversity and seeming design in nature is as much a physical nonrandom process as the sifting of pebbles from sand on a beach. This book explains the principles of Evolution with sparkling clarity.

    The audiobook version is read alternately by Richard Dawkins and his wife, Lalla Ward, and initially I found this change odd. However, within a chapter, I came to enjoy the conterpoint of male and female reading voices. It was kind of soothing, and a great innovation. I look forward to other audiobooks being read in this way.. One effect of this was a feeling of familiarity with the author. I came to admire his quest for the Truth, and his contempt for those who would fudge the difficult questions and the evidence to preserve their old beliefs.

    And so, there is the unavoidable "G" question. Paley's God is clearly shown by Dawkins to be as redundant to the process of evolution, as to the apparent motions of the planets. Yet, given (possibly) infinite universes, with N dimensions of space and time, one might speculate on the evolution of some transcendent intelligence pulling on our strings in the present!

    Perhaps Paley's God too can still be glimpsed in the elegance and power of the principles of evolution itself? But then, as Darwin saw in the ichneumon wasp, there is then the problem of theodicy. After listening to this book, I was left with a vivid impression both of the sheer creative intelligence of Nature, and the cost in pain and death of previous generations.

    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • Rainer
    7/24/15
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    "Slow start (if you listened to the selfish gene)"

    I got this audio book after having listened to Dawkins' Selfish Gene. Admittedly I like the way him and Ward read his books, however in the beginning I thought that many of his arguments were already made in the Selfish Gene and only some more examples or different explanations are given. I kept listening though and after a while it started exceeding the spectrum of the Selfish Gene and became very interesting again. I guess that the early repetition of many of the Selfish Gene's arguments are necessary to make this a self-contained book, given that the aim of this book overlaps with the aim of the Selfish Gene.

    Much like the Selfish Gene, the Blind Watchmaker is very elaborate in the argumentation and gives many examples and explanations. Dawkins and Ward do a fantastic job at making this a very enjoyable 16 (or so) hours. The book is very comprehensible and all concepts that are not completely intuitive are very well explained.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Gustav
    London, United Kingdom
    8/18/12
    Overall
    "Dry but good overview of evolution"

    This is a very dry, slow and methodological overview of evolution. It takes its time to make its points, and it does so convincingly, but it isn't a fast and fun book. Neither does it have to be, if you have a bit of patience.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Anders
    Denmark
    7/13/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Makes you think"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    Some arguments but that is rather a silly thing, as I am not the author, and do not have the privilege to do so. So I would leave it and both enjoy to agree and disagree.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Blind Watchmaker?

    The general picture, in which arguments are presented.


    What does Richard Dawkins and Lalla Ward bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    Firstly, the author's voice gives the correct connotations, which you might skip, miss or change in your own personal reading. Secondly, they have good reading voices that brings the book to a level, where you do not feel like falling asleep, which I find to be the strive of any good reader.


    Could you see The Blind Watchmaker being made into a movie or a TV series? Who would the stars be?

    No, but a documentary/debate program, though I find that there is a lot of these things around.


    Any additional comments?

    Even though I do not agree with all arguments I, as an Atheist, found it very useful and good for both mind and relaxation.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Balor of the Evil Eye
    Éire
    2/14/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Intelligent design my rear!"

    Yet another compelling presentation by Dawkins,The Blind Watchmaker tackles the idea, perhaps most prominently promoted by Creationists, that intelligent design has informed how humans gained much of the form with which we are all so familiar. As ever Dawkins rubbishes his detractors with his practiced aplomb, demanding that they recognise the obvious truth behind his theories, or admit that they just don't believe in a scientific approach to answering questions about human development.
    Perhaps the most popular organ for those espousing the intelligent design hypothesis, the eye, is singled out by Dawkins for treatment, treatment that could leave few listeners with the impression that his thesis lacks substance.

    As with his other titles, the narration by both himself and Lalla Ward is competently performed and easy to listen to. The fact that Dawkins gets so exercised about certain topics comes through in the narration, and is actually a bit of a bonus, especially if you are used to rather flat readers presenting scientific topics.

    A good book. Buy it after The Selfish Gene.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • D.
    2/23/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The near master"

    Only Darwin himself beats Dawkins.
    Dose go deep into evolution more so then any other.
    Did take a while to finish.
    And as always, Dawkins and wife are Crystal clear

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • M
    United Kingdom
    1/3/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Very interesting book"

    The material is very in and is beyond what I learned at school, have learned a lot even though I'm not a fan of biology I found this fascinating

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    UK
    7/11/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Darwinian Evolution as a religion"
    What made the experience of listening to The Blind Watchmaker the most enjoyable?

    The narration by the author and Lalla Ward makes for a good combination.
    The chapters are mostly interesting - with a few over the top explanations.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Darwin - because he is right - only he is right - all the rest are wrong - according to Dawkins - Darwin's prophet.


    What about Richard Dawkins and Lalla Ward ’s performance did you like?

    The split in reading the material.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No, it requires digestion time - to comprehend the ideas presented.


    Any additional comments?

    While I am convinced by most arguments in the book, the zealous following of Darwin - and rebuttal of all other evolutionary views smacks a bit like religion - my god is the only god!.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • rachel merrell
    4/20/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Another fantastic Dawkins book"

    Great book, great narration. Richard Dawkins is such a brilliant writer and this book is definitely one of his best.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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