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The blind Watchmaker & The Selfish Gene

Posted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 12:18 pm
by Beebub
I haven't read these yet, but intend to do so.

Are they quite different to The Greatest Show on Earth or is that a follow on from the two books?

I assume they're worth reading and will do so, but I was wondering if there's a lot of overlap between them and the GSOE?

Alos, parts of GSOE went a bit over my head. I got a bit bogged down in the carbon dating part. I also got a bit bogged down in the meme part of God Delusion.

Are the two books above very techincal or are they reasonably accessible?

I'm listening to an audio book of The Salmon of Doubt and Admas talks about how life changing The Blind watchmaker was for him.

I got the same reaction from God Delusion. It's not that it gave me any kind of revalation, but prior to reading GD, I was completely passive about my atheism. On reading GD, I became active.

He also marvels at the brilliance of PG Woodhosue; he's next on my list as a result.

Thanks in advance.

Re: The blind Watchmaker & The Selfish Gene

Posted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 3:20 pm
by nozzferrahhtoo
It is a highlight complicated subject, but Dawkins manages to make it about as accessible as is possible for it to be I think.

Both books, and the ancestors tale which Dawkins says is the one he is most proud of, are mostly accessible but parts of it will go over your head still. I know some of it went over mine too.

Thankfully, most of his books do not require too much of you, and if you dont understand one part, it tends not to affect anything that comes later too badly.

Re: The blind Watchmaker & The Selfish Gene

Posted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 6:23 pm
by Ygern
Bear in mind that The selfish gene was written for a reader who was well-versed in biology, certainly a tertiary-level understanding of the the subject. Saying that, Richard Dawkins is always very careful to write clearly, you won't ever find him deliberately obscure and wordy. It is perhaps a little less accessible than his books that were aimed at a wider, more general audience. Nevertheless, it is quite readable for the non-biologist.

Re: The blind Watchmaker & The Selfish Gene

Posted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 10:52 pm
by DaithiDublin
I haven't read GSOE yet, but I'm looking forward to it. I'm hoping that it is his 'accessible' book on evolution.

I read The Blind Watchmaker after reading Salmon of Doubt, buoyed up by Adams' gushing recommendation. And to be fair, it is an excellent read, but it isn't exactly an easy one. There's an early chapter where he uses a computer program to illustrate how small random changes can build into elaborate 'designs'. He wrote the program himself in the early 80's on an 64-kilobye computer! This chapter is actually crucial for grasping some of the concepts involved later in the book and I was very glad that I resisted the temptation to skim it.

He does work very hard to make himself understood, but I did definitely struggle at times. But I also struggled with Origin of Species plenty of times!
Maybe I should have taken biology in school instead of physics. I completely misunderstood what physics was when I put my name down. I though we'd learn how to fix telly's.

P.J. Wodehouse. Ahh, Jeeves! Everyone should have a Jeeves. Life would be so much easier. I've only read a couple, but I'd advise you to start at the beginning and pick up a copy of Carry On, Jeeves. "From the collar upward he stands alone, I gave up trying to run my own affairs within a week of his coming to me." Adams was spot on. Writing is rarely more effortlessly hilarious. Except maybe for good old Adams himself, may he Rot In Peace!

Re: The blind Watchmaker & The Selfish Gene

Posted: Wed Mar 16, 2011 12:07 am
by Ygern
The Ancestor's Tale is also a relatively easy read as it was more specifically written for a general public.

If you like Jeeves & Wooster, you should read this:
http://richarddawkins.net/articles/4371 ... us-mystery

Re: The blind Watchmaker & The Selfish Gene

Posted: Wed Mar 16, 2011 10:47 am
by Beebub
Thanks all. I have a copy of a Jeeves & Wooster anthology which I intend to dip into next... right after I finish My Booky Wook 2. :D

Re: The blind Watchmaker & The Selfish Gene

Posted: Thu Mar 17, 2011 12:02 am
by Mirthomaniac
We did some work with Blind Watchmaker for part of my course and I read the book not too long after. It's a really good read, definitely approachable by any interested party. One thing I will say is that the computer programming stuff bored me a little bit only because I'd spent enough time actually using the damn program already. That, and the sparse references to linear algebra reminded me of things I probably should have been studying instead of reading.

Re: The blind Watchmaker & The Selfish Gene

Posted: Thu Mar 17, 2011 7:34 pm
by Byron
I started reading The Selfish Gene a few years ago and had to put it down after the first few chapters as simply too much of it was going over my head and it wasn't making the topic interesting to me. I put that down to the fact that it was Dawkins' first book and wasn't some of it based on his Phd thesis? If so, that'd explain why it's less accessible than say The Greatest Show on Earth, which I must say is a fantastic book and very accessible. I'm going to try reading The Selfish Gene again this summer and i'm sure i'll grasp it a lot easier this time around as when I was reading it the first time, I wasn't as versed on the subject as I am now.