The Blind Watchmaker[Cover image may differ] Paperback – 6 Apr 2006
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Richard Dawkins has updated evolution ... His subject is nothing less than the meaning of life, and he attacks it with the evangelical fervour of a clergyman and the mind of a scientist (The Times)
Beautiful ... he seizes happy analogies, bright metaphors and shining images to light up his passion and our darkness (Guardian)
Good writing, tight argument and unpulled punches ... a satisfying book (Economist)
One of the best science books - one of the best of any books - I have ever read (Los Angeles Times)
Acclaimed as the most influential work on evolution written in the last hundred years, "The Blind Watchmaker" offers an inspiring and accessible introduction to one of the most important scientific discoveries of all time. A brilliant and controversial book, which demonstrates that evolution by natural selection - the unconscious, automatic, blind, yet essentially non-random process discovered by Darwin - is the only answer to the biggest question of all: why do we exist?See all Product description
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This book is an extended explanation of why the appearance of design in the animal world is an illusion and how organised complexity can emerge from a sequence of cumulative, small changes via natural selection. Of course, most rational folk accept that evolution is as proven as a theory ever gets but it is a fascinating subject and one well worth knowing more about, even if only to counter the feeble attempts of the non-rational to contradict it.
Dawkins has an engaging, affable tone in the book, yet is easy to understand. The section on the development of echo-location in bats is one of the books high points, as is the discussion on why the African widow bird has a seemingly impractically long tail . The Blind Watchmaker is not without its faults, however. An entire chapter devoted to taxonomy seemed to have no relevance to the main narrative and I skim-read the chapter on a computer simulation of biomorphs as it was heavily repetitive and felt a bit tenuous as a model for evolution.
There are some surprising (to me) insights here. I had no idea that so little of the genetic information in our cells was actually used - apparently only about 1%. I did not know that the tripling in the size of the human brain was one of the fastest known evolutionary changes, taking a paltry three million years. Dawkins also skewers some common myths about evolution, pointing out, for example, that the entire theory of evolution would collapse in an instant, were a 500 million year-old fossilised mammalian skull to be discovered, refuting the creationist canard that evolution is an 'unfalsifiable' tautology.
Overall, this is an entertaining and informative read.