Richard Dawkins' brilliant reformulation of the theory of natural selection has the rare distinction of having provoked as much excitement and interest outside the scientific community as within it. His theories have helped change the whole nature of the study of social biology, and have forced thousands to rethink their beliefs about life.
In his internationally best-selling, now classic, volume, The Selfish Gene, Dawkins explains how the selfish gene can also be a subtle gene. The world of the selfish gene revolves around savage competition, ruthless exploitation, and deceit, and yet, Dawkins argues, acts of apparent altruism do exist in nature. Bees, for example, will commit suicide when they sting to protect the hive, and birds will risk their lives to warn the flock of an approaching hawk.
©1989 Richard Dawkins (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
"Dawkins first book, The Selfish Gene, was a smash hit.... Best of all, Dawkins laid out this biology - some of it truly subtle - in stunningly lucid prose. (It is, in my view, the best work of popular science ever written.)" (H. Allen Orr, Professor of Biology, University of Rochester, in The New York Review of Books)
Every Dawkins audiobook I've listened to has been exceptionally well produced and this is no exception. He takes the time to rearrange and add to the text to better fit the audio format, make it comparatively easy to follow, and include additional updates. The book itself is an absolute must listen for anyone with even a passing interest in the history of life on our planet.
This is Richard Dawkins 1976 masterwork on evolutionary biology from the perspective of gene selection. The updated edition is as poignant today as when it was penned. Updates include fascinating studies supporting many of the hypotheses forwarded in the original text.
Dawkins is an excellent writer and uses non-scientific vocabulary and analogies to explain complex biological models in an easy to understand and informative way.
Other areas touched on include game theory models (the prisoners dilemma) as a basis for understanding an ESS (Evolutionarily Stable Strategy), memes (a term he coined) and computer virus.
College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.
but those who left the nearly worshipful reviews don't seem to know that better and more up to date work has been done on the topic of Darwinian genetics. For one, Dawkins could have cleared a LOT of confusion about this book by simply using the term "self-interested" rather "selfish"--there is a considerable difference where genetics is concerned, especially when he starts shuffling around words/concepts like "selfish" and "altruistic" and "altruism for selfish means." The one huge flaw in his work is that he proclaims that "there is no higher purpose in nature than propagation of DNA..." This invokes the logical fallacy of begging the question. It is the most scientific explanation of nature, yes, but (the question it begs) "does/has science discover/discovered everything?" Read this book first as a primer, and then go on to the better work that has been done since on the theme of Darwinian genetics, self-interest and altruism, particularly that by Robert Wright, and especially his book THE MORAL ANIMAL.
This would have been better presented as two options: 1) read with footnotes and asides inline, or 2) read without footnotes entirely. Classic book. Great listen. Gets a bit bogged down, unnecessarily.
A fellow listener inclined to share my opinion on these productions. Maybe even inspire someone toward a powerful, or educational audiobook!
This was an amazing read. In this 30 year revision he has added many footnotes and a marvelous introduction! If you have read earlier versions of this book you will be impressed at the additions; well worth it!
l'enfer c'est les autres
Author states that any philosophy of man's place in the universe before Darwin's 1859 "Origin of Species" will be incomplete. The book fully supports that statement. His metaphors for understanding genes and evolution are the best you'll ever come across. He explains the science so that even I can understand it.
I warn you, if you listen to this Dawkins book, you will listen to all of his others. I have and I am much wiser for it.
30 years on, and this book may well still be the definitive popular book on gene-centric evolutionary biology. This 3rd edition has new chapters and endnotes giving us Dawkins' reflection on his original ideas with the benefit of a good-deal of hindsight. An absolute must read for anyone wanting to claim modern scientific literacy!
In this version of The Selfish Gene, the footnotes are very cleanly added to the ends of chapters, and Dawkins went to a great effort to make sure the volume has been updated as the times have progressed. He and his wife have great voices when they are used in tandem as within.
The way they work together is charming, and it helped with the differentiation between the past and the present, the author and the non-author. It was a great instrument choice.
It widened my view in some ways and sharpened it in others. It forces you to critically observe natural phenomena from a new perspective that can, yes, at times be reminiscent of psychosis.
"Too irritating to finish"
Have you ever had a meeting with a salesman who is on a day out with his manager and every few minutes the manager chips in with corrections and comments? After about 30 minutes you're ready to throw them both out of your office. That's what its like listening to this book. Dawkins' wife reads the original text which is interpolated by Dawkins himself with commentary and end notes.
The interruptions to the narrative are infuriating and I found myself grinding my teeth in anticipation of the next one. It doesn't help that Dawkins himself comes over as smug, superior and self-important.
I already shared Dawkins point of view before I started the book but found myself wishing that I didn't.
If you are going to add so much to your original work then you should re-write it.
One that may be better read than listened to.
"A real eye opener"
I will listen to this book over and over again because of the immense detail.
Clear and easy to understand their voices.
Very well written and read, additional notes are read at the end chapter to make the book flow nicely.
"Spoiled by argumentative author's pedantry"
too much self justifying response to decades old arguments by the author- and do we really need a lecture in the pronunciation of 'algae', I think not..
"An engaging portrait of our fundamentals!"
This updated edition of The Selfish Gene showcases much of what people love and hate about Richard Dawkins' preferences when presenting his theses. An unquestionably solid empirical approach to explaining his theory of the form, function and dissemination of genes tainted in part by a somewhat arrogant demand that you either accept his conclusions or admit that you are at best being obtuse, or at worst, a religious zealot.
Interesting examples are presented to assist the listener understand how genes move down through the generations, perhaps the most interesting are those that detail why certain genes proliferate and others fall away as they engage in a possibly hopeless mission to achieve a stable evolutionary strategy.
Undoubtedly the best explanation of gene theory I've encountered thus far.
The narration performance by Dawkins and Ward is quite good and logically implemented.
I have bought other Dawkins audiobooks, this is probably the most satisfying.
"Each to his own format...."
I think this is a tremendously important book, and everyone should own it. But I'm just not sure that it is suited to the audiobook format. Some of the concepts can be quite complicated and I prefer to have a book in my hand when I feel the need to re-read something a couple of times... You are perfectly entitled to disagree and if you think you can digest a reasonably complex layman's book on science via audio then go for it.
However, I'm also not a fan of Lalla Ward's contributions. I find her more of a hindrance to understanding than a help (especially in 'The God Delusion' where a second voice was meant to clarify the narrative).
My advice to people is to actually buy the book physically, or as an eBook... sorry audible ;p
"Not what I expected. Berates social darwinists."
For the main part this was an enjoyable and informing listen. Dawkins was not as arrogant nor amoral as I expected. In fact quite the opposite (in the main). He holds a warm humanitarian outlook that is really not supported by his science and so could well be described as a faith. He is also highly critical of social darwinists who do not seem to understand his book properly - probably because they have never read past the title.
One glib comment did annoy me and that was the suggestion that nobody thinks about the meaning of the whole cosmos when making daily decisions. I think he is wrong, I think many of us reach ultimate questions when daily events become to tiring or painful and we really do ask what is all this about? Some of us can then put this question to the back of our minds in order to continue to function with it popping up periodically to annoy, entertain and awe us. Others cannot put this question to the back of their minds for any consistent period of time and therefore cease to function 'normally'. But to pass this point over so glibly is a great mistake.
For me knowing that my genes are getting me up and putting me through what seems like a repressive, slightly painful and pointlessly repetitive routine is comforting, hopefully they know wtf is going on because my conscious mind certainly doesn't. Although I think social conditioning actually has a lot to do with it too - so that would be my unconscious mind which is probably gene and meme driven. So maybes the memes know what's going on?
Ultimately this book will inform you about the evolutionary theory of genes, something we are still only really beginning to understand. Even if we do get to understand the machine to disregard the purpose of the machine as if it were a less important question seems a little cowardly. Really it is the only really meaningful question.
In addition to glibly pass over the statistical problem with evolution is also dishonest. There is a serious issue with evolution from a statistical viewpoint when compared with the usual levels of certainty applied to scientific theory and there are growing numbers of highly qualified scientists who voice concern - not that you'll hear most of it unless you really hunt it down.
"Genuinely fascinating ideas"
Let's get the negative out of the way. Sometimes I felt the narrative got a bit dull where a series of similar investigations were being described (e.g. social insects, vampire bats... etc). At those points I found my mind wondering. Also RD comes across as a bit pompous sometimes some of his comments aimed at other writers sound a bit petty. As someone new to the field, none of the names or works meant anything to me and RD sounded like my Nan complaining about a family insult from the 1940s.
However, these are really minor gripes. RD is wonderfully intelligent, clear thinking, intensely curious and excited by his subject. Many of the ideas in this book were completely new to me. I really did not understand evolution properly before reading this book. And the journey was truly exciting. I listened to a lot of it out running and had to play some parts again where there was too much outside noise. I don't really like running but this book had me looking forward to my runs.
I think it's one of the few books that I will keep coming back to.
"Good introduction into socio-biology"
Narration is slightly confusing but a good (but somewhat high-brow) introduction into sociobiology.
Dawkins is clearly very clever, and his arguments are neatly constructed. For those without a biological background, the terminology here may be somewhat confusing. I like the challenge, but this is not an easy read.
I'm nowhere near qualified to judge the accuracy of the arguments however..
A truly enlightening experience!
Highly recommended for anyone seeking truth and understanding of why we are the way we are 😊
Very well explained by Richard Dawkins, some fantastic natural occurrences used as examples.
Narration is very concise and professional as expected of the Author.
What else can I say.. Listen right to the end! Amazing!
"A must read for any biologist."
Dawkins has a phenomenal use of the English language. Not only a scientist and a keen observer, he is a natural writer, using beautiful metaphors and analogies. (some of which he mentions have worked against him among an audience too skeptical to humor the witty title "selfish gene")
Had I the time, I would have happily listened to this in one sitting.
Richard Dawkins has lead an interesting life. He is full of anecdotes, and has a clearly superior grasp on the topic in discussion. Compared to other evolutionary scientists he can appear somewhat more aggressive with his distaste to creationism. If you are a disbeliever in evolution or a believer in a deity, the written copy of the book, or a viable alternative, may be an easier pursuit.
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