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Richard Dawkins: How a scientist changed the way we think Paperback – 22 Mar 2007
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Review from previous edition 'sparkling collection' (Prospect)
this book presents a vivid picture of how one man, by force of rigorous analysis and clear writing, taught a generation of biologists how to think about evolution (New York Times science section)
an interesting series of essays. (Philip Hensher, The Spectator)
About the Author
Alan Grafen is Professor of Theoretical Biology in the Department of Zoology at Oxford. He is co-author of Modern Statistics for the Life Sciences (OUP, 2002) and numerous scientific papers. Dr Mark Ridley lectures at the Department of Zoology at Oxford, and is best known as the author of a number of books, including Evolution (Blackwell, 2e, 2003), Evolution: A Reader (OUP, 2e, 2003) and the critically acclaimed Mendel's Demon (Wiedenfeld, 2000).
Top Customer Reviews
Biology is often seen as merely applied physics and chemistry rather than a 'proper' science in its own right. This book shows how the principles of neo-Darwinian evolution have much wider ramifications and applications.
More than two dozen essays comprise this collection. They are topically organised, starting with the biology issues, moving through the logic Dawkins uses to his writing skills. Today, the biology seems straightforward: genes build bodies. Those bodies contain nervous systems and brains - the root of behaviours. At the publication of "The Selfish Gene", it was widely thought that evolution worked at the species' level. Dawkins moved that mechanism much deeper. Its effect is manifested through various ways, with mate choice one of the more significant. Andrew Read explains how evolutionary pressure forces such practices as "lekking" in certain bird species. The mechanism can be readily projected to other creatures, and is manifested in humans, as well.
The "selfish gene" operating in humans has, of course, caused the greatest distress among many readers. An entire section of the book is devoted to that issue.Read more ›
Even the ones that start off well, like John Krebs’ contribution, which gives us a lovely picture of a woman at a dinner party plonkingly announcing “But we don’t believe in science in our family,” soon beds down into obscurity and all the thrill of reading a textbook. Even Michael Shermer, who writes excellently lucid columns for Scientific American, succumbs to the urge to be worthy. Honourable mention should go to Randolph M. Ness, not only for having the best title of the bunch in “Why a lot of people with selfish genes are pretty nice except for their hatred of The Selfish Gene,” but also in producing the most readable of the essays.
What none of the essays explore, sadly, is the fascinating study of the paradox that is Dawkins. Though he writes superbly, arguably there are few scientists less well qualified for a chair of public understanding of science than he is. I have never come across a scientist better at putting ordinary people’s backs up, and making them resistant to the message of science.Read more ›
However if you are looking for an introduction to Dawkins it's better to read "Selfish gene" or "The blind watchmaker" instead. These should be the main course. "Richard Dawkins: How a Scientist Changed the Way We Think" can be treated as a nice dessert.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have read much on the subject. There was nothing too new for me. It is good for those who
know nothing about science and the concept about the beginnings of this world we... Read more
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