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)
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.
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
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,
I've listened to a few books by Dawkins and feel that this is the weakest of them so far. I particularly enjoyed the Selfish Gene, however I didn't really learn anything "new" in this book and found it to drag on. I started listening at 2x speed just to get through it. Nonetheless, there were a few points where I stopped, slowed down and listened intently and very much enjoyed those segments. There just were not enough of them for me to give the book more than a two star rating. Others may well enjoy the book, especially if they have not read any other works by Dawkins.
The basic information is fine, but the author spends at least 50% of the time on distractions, tangents, superfluous information, and digressions.
If you have read Dawkins lastest works, you might question the point of reading one of his earlier works as I did. But Dawkins is writing in a freer less self critical way,and it makes it fun.
I have a mixed feeling about this.
If you understand the subject yes. I tend to listen at 2x to 3x. This book is diffidently a 2x book.
Incredible number of analogies to explain a simple point. Dare I say arrogant attitude in the narrative. Haven't finished listening, don't know if I will return. I am a biologist, and an evolutionist and still don't understand why some people think God is an instant magician.
Did not finish the book, and may not. The book is not going to enlighten any Creationists, it may bore the h--l out of them.
Extremely dated. Unnecessarily laborious in a-b-c logic. I have read more recent books by Dawkins and thought this would prove entertaining; it wasn't. I am a university professor in a surgical field. Although I personally am an atheist who marvels at those who refer to the "theory of evolution", I make no effort to convert others to my own philosophy of life and man's rather limited and transient role in the universe. Dawkin's dawdled on details of his arguments to the point I forgot what his original argument was. He became more entertaining and mercurial in his later years, but evidently started off slowly. I thought this would give me some historical context of Dawkins but instead gave me a nap.
No further Dawkins or Hitchens. I'm comfortable with my beliefs and don't require further validation.
How could it have been worse?
Maybe a good book on membrane theory?
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