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)
Selfish Gene - same author - if you like the selfish gene you will like this too
Unsightly Ticking Away
yes - the narration is excellent. This makes a huge difference. I am a fan of audiobooks yet have found that in some cases the book needs to be read instead because the voices are unpleasing - this is definitely not the case here. The narrators are delightful to listen to. This is an excellent book and I reccomend it.
Scientist, Atheist, Humanist, and Historian. I don't know everything, but I know enough to know if you're full of it!
I have listened to The Blind Watchmaker six times and find something to take away each time!
"Have you ever seen a Frelephant?"
I thought the switching back and forth worked really well.
I have found myself quoting this book numerous times.
Haven't read the print edition but I think the confusing parts (probabilities and punctuated equilibrium) may have been easier to digest in print form.
Slightly difficult audiobook to listen to and actually retain. It lost me on the discussions of probabilities and also confused me until the very end of his discussion of punctuated equilibrium. Other than that it's still a good book for getting a grip on some of the more nuanced aspects of evolution by natural selection. But not for science beginners...
Enjoyable, illuminating, essential
The read very well and clearly and the text is beautifully written.
A bit too thought provoking for one sitting, but I did not read anything else till it was finished.
Anyone unsure about the fact that IS evolution should definitely read it.
This book really challenged my worldview and caused me to re-evaluate some very closely held beliefs. Dawkins presents his arguments clearly and with easily understood examples.
This book shares the "how do things work?" attitude of the Freakonomics books.
I liked how the two voices alternated to indicate when Dawkins was quoting other works and conducting debates with notional opponents.
I highly recommend this book to anyone willing to challenge their own beliefs or wishing to understand how the amazing diversity of this world arose. However, Dawkins occasionally slips into a derisive attitude which might offend creationists or those who fail to believe exactly as he does.
Information everyone should know explained in a way anyone can understand.
Explanation of the eye as an example for evolution.
Read by the writer is always better.
I would recommend the book. It is thought provoking and there were times I found myself talking back to Dawkins as I listened.
The 747 in a hurricane analogy has really stuck with me.
Having the actual author read is moving.
No ! I can't mentally keep up and had to work through in smaller chunks.
I had a poor understanding of evolution, this has help me understand.
Maybe Richard Dawkins but not Richard Dawkins and Lalla Ward
The story does not flow. There is poor timing regarding the inputs from Lalla Ward. The changes between the two are abrupt. A different combination of readers may have been better. The two voices and expressions do not compliment each other. It is just not the right combination.
It is a good topic and there are good points put forward but extremely repetitive. Maybe it is for people who understand less about the topic. It comes across as the author is being condescending or making things oversimplified. It appears as though the author is belittling the readers' intelligence/intellect.
Suggestions on higher order books in this genre?
Near the top
(Not a story) A non fiction piece that was easy to listen to, and an excellent explanation of evolution,
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