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.
"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.
"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.
"Darwinian Evolution as a religion"
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.
Darwin - because he is right - only he is right - all the rest are wrong - according to Dawkins - Darwin's prophet.
The split in reading the material.
No, it requires digestion time - to comprehend the ideas presented.
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!.
"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.
"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.
"Makes you think"
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.
The general picture, in which arguments are presented.
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.
No, but a documentary/debate program, though I find that there is a lot of these things around.
Even though I do not agree with all arguments I, as an Atheist, found it very useful and good for both mind and relaxation.
"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.
"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
"Another fantastic Dawkins book"
Great book, great narration. Richard Dawkins is such a brilliant writer and this book is definitely one of his best.
All I expected from the most honest and brave champion of truth and reason in advancing the fact of evolution
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