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)
This is the type of book I'd recommend to someone who is struggling to understand how evolution works. For example, friends who are religious ONLY because they can't believe that evolution could create humans. However, it's not a book to casually enjoy.
Yes. Dawkins has an incredibly indepth understanding of biology, genetics, evolution, etc. I learned vast amounts from this book, even though it was something of a struggle to get through. I especially appreciated Dawkins' narration - he's clearly excited about the material, and has a very pleasing voice. He would be an excellent person to hear a lecture from. Lalla Ward is similarly well spoken.
Hell no. It was exhausting in some places, and I needed to increase the narration speed to 1.25x just to finish it. This is not an easy book.
I got exactly what I wanted out of reading this book. I learned how evolution works, and I learned how we came to exist without the existence of any particular deity. Though this isn't a specifically atheist book, its purpose is to explain life without intelligent design. And it succeeds at this thoroughly.
But I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - J.D. Salinger ^(;,;)^
Not nearly as polemical as I expected it to be. A good solid piece of science writing on, and defense of, Darwinian evolution. The audiobook shows how back and forth reading between Dawkins and Ward worked (and probably made production time minimal).
Blind Watchmaker was read by the author and his spouse—wonderful readers both. The book appealed to me because I had enjoyed The God Delusion and hoped for a similarly enjoyable and educational experience. I had also read The Selfish Gene, which seemed to me harder to read than Delusion. Watchmaker turned out to more like Selfish than Delusion. All good books, but if you don’t come to Watchmaker and Selfish with a burning desire to understand Darwin, you may, by the end of your reading, grow numb, as I did, with the details.
By way of pointing out the elements I found most enjoyable in Watchmaker:
1) The author’s reasoning skills are impressive. He has thought and researched deeply about every subject presented. Dawkins plainly announces that he means to convince his reader that Darwinian evolution presents the only rational explanation of the world’s complexity. Dawkins is anything but dispassionate.
2) Dawkins often presents a view of things that seems to me non-intuitive, yet correct. A brief example: He states that cheetahs are the enemies of gazelles and that gazelles are the enemies of cheetahs. My reaction is, No they’re not. Gazelles don’t hunt cheetahs! Dawkins goes on to say that, from the point of view of the cheetah, if the gazelle can out run the cheetah, the cheetah starves to death. The success of the gazelle, therefore, brings about the extinction of the cheetah, which is the cheetah’s definition of “enemy.” Another: Are cows the enemy of grass? Well, yes, I suppose. In fact, no. Grass has a more formidable enemy than cows—weeds are that enemy. Cows eat grass, but also eat weeds. Voila. I hadn’t thought of that. And on and on.
3 The description of a bat’s ability to hunt and navigate is worth the price of the book. And then Dawkins postulates humans from the bat’s point of view. Almost laugh-out-loud funny.
I read Delusion when it was first published in 2008—the first of his books I had read. Perhaps it too had its more detailed elements, now not recalled, elements that I might have found tiresome—not that the fault was with Dawkins, but rather with a reader, not so interested in the details as he might or should be.
So, a very good book, although not one to be enjoyed in its entirety with a merely passing interest in evolution.
Out of all of the non-fiction books I've listened to, this ranks as the best one yet. This is the second book by Dawkins that I've listened to. I am fascinated by evolutionary biology so I have a natural bias to this book and probably any book on the subject. While some parts of this book are dry, they are necessary for giving a complete picture to what is being discussed.
I enjoyed the discussion on the cumulative selection early in the book. It is a very important concept that helps explain Darwinian evolution.
Dawkins is often viewed as an atheist paragon seeking to always tear down religion but this book does not do that. His focus is on evolution and why it properly describes how we as humans came to be rather than just attacking opposing views.
Eclectic mixer of books of my youth and ones I always meant to read, but didn't.
Until relatively recently (the last decade, say) I thought that the only entertaining science was Science Fiction. Dawkins proved to me (yet again) that the best of fact is so much better than most of fiction. Of course, like any argument, one doesn't have to accept the conclusion to recognise a good argument. That I do accept the conclusion probably helped me enjoy this work, but I could have been the Bishop of Birmingham and, I hope, still have recognised a well structured, logical and persuasively argued thesis when heard this one.
The argument is presented so that you don't need to understand all the science to enjoy the cut and thrust. And cut and thrust there most surely is! Dawkins is not afraid to tilt at apparently well respected opinion and, generally, he doesn't mince his words. I found this occasionally annoying when it seemed a bit mean spirited and an immediate reposte was not available from the butt of the comment, but I was able to get online and see if there was a response from, say, Gould to the criticism and this helped weather the frustration. That said, these flourishes were few and far between. Most of the criticism was obviously carefully considered and well reasoned. I particularly liked the examples. The bat was my favourite, and I did enjoy the bat with angel wings paradoy (even though I had to play it a few times to get the nuance - as I would have had to if I'd read it and had to re-read). Even though the paradoy wasa bit of a flourish, it wasn't personal (or it didn't appear to be so to me).
As for the performance, I was abit apprehensive at first about Lalla Ward's role. Of course she is Dawkins wife, but I just wasn't sure a second voice was necessary, except to highlight quotations and examples. As the performance proceeded, I changed my mind. The change of reader added interest and, after all, Ms Ward has a wonderful voice. As for Dawkins, his infectious enthusiasm is literally bubbling up in his voice. I will never forget the fantastic end to Chapter 10 as a consequence. I am looking forward to listening to him read his Selfesh Gene (one of the first books that opened my mind to Science Faction).
Let's face it, these authors aren't paying me, so there's no need to lie!!
Start the kids out with a Dawkins book that's a little easier to digest, like "Greatest Show on Earth" or "Magic of Reality". Since I believe that EVERY human being should read Dawkins' work, I think it's only fair that I classify WHO should read this one. If you're a logical adult, with a decent education, then this is a must have for your library.
If you are not familiar with Dawkins, then I cannot be clear enough about whether or not you should read this book. IF you are interested in Evolution AT ALL....even a little tiny bit...then READ THIS BOOK! It is the bible of evolution!
I have read the God Delusion and The Greatest Show on Earth. Professor Dawkins referenced this book and I wanted to listen to it on my commutes to work to further my understanding of evolution. This work has great information and good flow. I usually don't like when there is more then one narrator but this works out very well as there are times he is quoting something and then the narrator switches. This makes it easier to know this is occurring when you hear the voice change. Both narrators are wonderful to listen to.
Richard Dawkins is absolutely brilliant! This is one of the most intelligent and educational books I have ever listened to or read. He is showing with an excellent examples and associations how nature works. Listen to this book if you are interested in understanding how natural selection is the driving the evolution on our planet. Everything will make so much more sense!
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!
One of the great modern thinkers - straight from the horse's mouth
The Selfish Gene. No prizes for guessing why
Great narration. The switching added interest
No, it was just sustained high quality
It is such a long book for the same information: evolution. It must be a great book for biologists as it gives rich examples of how evolution works and why. But it was not what I was looking for, unfortunately.
"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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