The Selfish Gene: 30th Anniversary edition Paperback – Apr 15 2006
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Inheriting the mantle of revolutionary biologist from Darwin, Watson, and Crick, Richard Dawkins forced an enormous change in the way we see ourselves and the world with the publication of The Selfish Gene. Suppose, instead of thinking about organisms using genes to reproduce themselves, as we had since Mendel's work was rediscovered, we turn it around and imagine that "our" genes build and maintain us in order to make more genes. That simple reversal seems to answer many puzzlers which had stumped scientists for years, and we haven't thought of evolution in the same way since.
Why are there miles and miles of "unused" DNA within each of our bodies? Why should a bee give up its own chance to reproduce to help raise her sisters and brothers? With a prophet's clarity, Dawkins told us the answers from the perspective of molecules competing for limited space and resources to produce more of their own kind. Drawing fascinating examples from every field of biology, he paved the way for a serious re-evaluation of evolution. He also introduced the concept of self-reproducing ideas, or memes, which (seemingly) use humans exclusively for their propagation. If we are puppets, he says, at least we can try to understand our strings. --Rob Lightner --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
`Review from previous edition The sort of popular science writing that makes the reader feel like a genius.'
New York Times
This book should be read, can be read, by almost everyone. It describes with great skill a new face of the theory of evolution. W.D. Hamilton, Science
Learned, witty and very well written...Exhilaratingly good. Peter Medawar in The Spectator
The exciting theories and their wide implications are explaned with clarity, wit and enthusiasm.
Peter Parker, Sunday Times
Dawkins demonstrates that complex, theoretical or mathematical ideas can be expressed rigorously, in plain English. The book remains an excellent way for those who have not been trained in evolution to understand modern arguments.
Trends in Ecology and Evolution
A splendid example of how difficult scientific ideas can be explained by someone who understands them and is willing to take the trouble. The New Yorker
the reader will come away with a clear understanding of kin selection, evolutionary stable strategies, and similar staples of the literature on evolutionary theories of animal behaviour. This is a considerable achievement.'
Times Higher Education Supplement
`Buy this book, read it and recommend it to your students...There is still nothing else quite like it. Not only are the new chapters and endnotes worthy additions to the original, but the 1976 text comes up as fresh as a primrose and, in its way, nearly as perfect.'
`What is so refreshing about Dawkins is that he has confidence in the scientific method, in the testing of beliefs to destruction, no matter how cherished they may be.'
Benjamin Woolley, The Listener
'Scientists give every appearance of being addicts, and science is their vice. That is one reason why progress in science is so rapid. I for one have benefited a great deal from Dawkins's addiction.'
David L. Hull, Nature
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Top Customer Reviews
It's also frowned upon, in modern society, to kill people. From a Genetic perspective, there's no advantage to killing people, even your rivals.. it wastes energy, and may make other rivals even stronger in rank. Reverse rationalization.Read more ›
He begins by anticipating the outcry of those who must see humans set apart from the rest of life. "Why Are People" examines several behavioral aspects of animals and people. Altruism receives particular attention because the term "selfish" applied to life returns us to the concept of nature "red in tooth and claw" which he wishes to avoid. Genes are not conscious entities who make decisions about their existence or future. Genes are simply replicators, using whatever resources are available to make more of themselves. With luck, the environment in which they do this allows them to survive and continue replicating. If not, the gene, and whatever characteristic it represents, goes extinct. Enough bad matches and a whole species follows the gene into extinction.
In the beginning our very earliest ancestors weren't likely to even have been organisms, but simply chemicals. From this, Dawkins traces the development of the DNA molecule and the organisms that came to carry it in their cells. These organisms, "survival machines" in Dawkins' expression, carry the genes, supplying them with the raw material to continue replicating.Read more ›
The main idea in the book is to change the perspective of evolution: it is genes that use bodies and organisms to reach their goals of reproduction. In my opinion, however, the most brilliant part of the book is the very beginning, in which Dawkins explains how it could come about that some chemicals (genes) actually would grow a "wish" to reproduce. The answer makes the reader feel really smart, and that is what pop science is all about.
Much of the book is devoted to showing how evolution can in fact explain altruism, agression, aging, cooperation, sexual relations, etc. He spends a lot of time debunking the theory that animals act a certain way "for the good of the species". His argument is that animals have no want, it is the genes that want more of themselves available.
I highly recommend this book to anyone with a wide open mind, a logical train of thought, and deep curiosity about life. Dawkins will change the way you see life, and he will hold your hand through the entire process, quenching your thrist for knowledge. It is written in such a simple way that it is hard to understand why this book is not recommended at high schools. Anyways, I hope you choose this book, it is one of those that make you sad to have finished.
Most recent customer reviews
Not enough really new content for those who already know evolution and natural selection.Published 14 days ago by History Reader
There's no much I can say that hasn't been said about the Selfish Gene. It's an extremely important book in the field of evolutionary biology, and a must-read for any biology... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amanda
Amazing book, it really gave me another insight into the roles DNA plays in the biological systemPublished 2 months ago by Hong Pham
While some of the science is somewhat above my understanding, in spite of simple, layman, text, I find this edition to be very interesting. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Muriel Eaton
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