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Editorial Reviews

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

Publisher's Summary

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.

Critic Reviews

"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)

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Bring your intellectual running shoes

Another pleasurable listen. Was more challenging than The God Delusion. I appreciate the lengths Dawkins takes to inform from all sides ( that are deemed relevant...) Fascinating depth on taxonomy.

I’ll be traveling back to The Selfish Gene next

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Amazing book with great narration!

This is a great book about evolution which explains why it is the best theory we have for describing life. The narration by Richard Dawkins is amazing.

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Absolutely Solid and Amazing

Having studied Neuroscience and Molecular Biology, Darwinian evolution is sometimes taken for granted. I thought I understood it completely but Dawkins makes you realize you’ve only scratched the surface. His explanations are clear and concrete and his use of explaining concepts in juxtaposition to other schools of thought are enlightening. You may find yourself having prior ideas one of these other schools without even realizing it.

In the Selfish Gene, Dawkins tackles evolution with game theory and although extremely well done, Dawkins covers many of the same basic concepts in a more metaphorical and more readily understood ways... Assuming your not a mathematician that not only understands game theory (no one does) but evolutionary game theory.

I applaud Dawkins and his wife Lalla for another amazing audio book.

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Comprehensive and clear, slightly repetetive.

While arguments are provided in a structured and convincing way, it gets somewhat repetetive. Well not even great scientists can be expected to write everything like entertaining poetry.

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weak follow up to selfish geane

I wasn't able to finish this one. Unlike the selfish gene tbat had alot of well thought out cross applicable concepts, including the idea of the extended phenotype (which may be a better read). This book is full of weak circumstantial arguments repeated in various forms with out driving to any strong conclusion. The book starts with a weak argument by saying that the proof of the absence of God is going to be done only from a biological perspective and removing all conversation around the chemistry and physics of the universe. That is like me saying I'll prove there are not humans by discussing computer network evolution, but I will not be discussing circuitry or programming as I am a system engineer not a developer.

With all of that said there are a few gems found here. One of the most satisfying is where the idea of our evolution into computer systems is discussed I found very interesting and echoing the preferential concepts of the selfish gene. if your looking for a weak debate against the concept of a creator, this one is for you. If you are looking for a deep strong scientific foundation to understand atheism or challenge the western faith narrative this is not it.

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Evolutionary fanaticism

This was the fourth book I have read recently about evolution. Unfortunately, this was the worst of the lot.
The second chapter on Bat's radar is the jewel of the book and makes it worth reading. The rest of the book is arrogant proselytizing by Professor Dawkins. There is a chapter on a simulated computer program called evolution that the Prof wrote and the program and the chapter are garbage. It is unfortunate that Professor Dawkins has tunnel vision and does not allow himself to see other options than evolution and natural selection resulting in our current biology. He disregards the notions of chromosomes and the evidence that speciation results in or from chromosomal changes. He throws out saltation and macroevolution as impossible when it is quite likely that each of these processes has a role in evolution. His most egregious sin is that he is a know it all who fails to see how little we actually know about evolution and the process of biologic development. It could be that everything he says will turn out to be incorrect.
Much better is Stephen Meyer's Darwin Doubt. 9/10 of the book is spent factually debunking evolutionary theory as we know it based on scientific data (Professor Dawkins never bothers with such trivia unless it conveniently fits his preconceived notions). Unfortunately the book invokes Deus ex machina or intelligent design as the underpinnings of natural selection, for no good reason.
The best of the books were Greg Bear's Darwin's radio and Darwin's children which gives a rational explanation through Saltation. 5% of the human genome consists of endogenous retrovirus. Positting them as programmed agents of genetic change makes a lot of sense and very good listening.
For complete disclosure I am a trained medical geneticist with great reservations about neo darwinism.

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great book

I think Richard Dawkins is extremely intelligent and his style is unique. He does not shy away from going through details elaborate analysis or discussions. I learnt a lot from this book. but I think it also needs someone who knows biology and evolution to be able to go through it.

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Excellent!!!

Great book that is well worth the time spent. Definitely opens your eyes to the world of evolution

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Nothing less than brilliant

This book is nothing less than an entrance to the magical history of life and its origins.

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Very detailed explanation of evolution

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Maybe. If my friend was having trouble understanding or accepting the theory of evolution, I would recommend the book.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

It was anticlimactic. The book is nonfiction and isn't really a "story" so it doesn't have that sort of climax like a novel would have.

What does Richard Dawkins and Lalla Ward bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

By having the two of them narrate, they are able to do things like have one person explain something and the other person can quote others to make a point. That part worked well. Other than that, it was essentially the two of them trading off the narration. The other part that was fun for me is their accents and pronunciation.

Was The Blind Watchmaker worth the listening time?

For me, it was way too long. There were a few points they made along the way that were somewhat of an "ah-hah!" moment for me. But since I already had a pretty solid understanding of evolution by natural selection, the discussions got dragged out far longer than my attention span.

Any additional comments?

The book was written 30 years ago, and while the theory of evolution hasn't fundamentally changed in that time, some of the examples used in the book could use an update.