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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars good addition to The Selfish Gene
Published ten years after The Selfish Gene, this book is just as enlightening and entertaining as that first book by Dawkins. More examples of evolution in the natural world, and more evidence that evolution has indeed shaped the diversity of living things, past and present, on the earth. Very well written, it's a pleasure to read. One criticism of this and especially The...
Published on Dec 1 2007 by Paul J. Fitzgerald

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars General in Content
This is a good book for the general public, but for those with a four year degree in Biology or who are well read in the life sciences, it is not particularily stimulating. It does well covering the basics of biological evolution, and it affectively addresses the conventional creationist arguments, but I don't think this book demonstrates in the end what it seeks to...
Published on Aug. 24 2003 by Christopher Boyce


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars good addition to The Selfish Gene, Dec 1 2007
This review is from: Blind Watchmaker (Paperback)
Published ten years after The Selfish Gene, this book is just as enlightening and entertaining as that first book by Dawkins. More examples of evolution in the natural world, and more evidence that evolution has indeed shaped the diversity of living things, past and present, on the earth. Very well written, it's a pleasure to read. One criticism of this and especially The Selfish Gene: Dawkins seems to think that there's no or very little selection at the level of the group, and that natural selection takes place at the level of the individual or even his or her DNA. However, I think it's clear that there is a good deal of selective pressure at the level of the group or tribe, and even to some degree at the level of the entire species. If a group of animals dies, that includes every member of the group, so it stands to reason that there should be some selection at the level of the group, even if that selection runs counter to the immediate goals of the individual within that group. In spite of this criticism, any curious person should give this, and The Selfish Gene, a read. Author of Adjust Your Brain: A Practical Theory for Maximizing Mental Health.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars General in Content, Aug. 24 2003
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This is a good book for the general public, but for those with a four year degree in Biology or who are well read in the life sciences, it is not particularily stimulating. It does well covering the basics of biological evolution, and it affectively addresses the conventional creationist arguments, but I don't think this book demonstrates in the end what it seeks to establish.
I strongly recommend another book by Richard Dawkins, "The Selfish Gene", a book which presents a very useful paradigm for viewing the biological world.
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28 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Classic Explanation of Evolution, Jan. 11 2007
By 
Oliver (Los Angeles) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Blind Watchmaker (Paperback)
Back in the 18th or 19th Century, a man named William Paley came up with a very clever argument to prove the existance of god: Say you find a watch lying on the beach. Just by looking at the watch, you "know" it was made for a purpose. Such an odd collection of materials did not assemble itself. It is not an accident, and it must have been designed by someone specially for the purpose of telling time. Where there is a watch, there must be an intelligent watch maker. Well, human beings are much better designed than watches, so we too must have been created by an intelligent designer. That designer is god.

That's a brilliant argument, and it sure would have convinced me. Dawkins takes that argument, and smashes it to pieces. (He does not insult Paley, of course. Neither did Einstien insult Newton).

Dawkins explains how an object (or plant or animal) can be "designed" by the simple process of natural selection, without anyone to do the selecting. All it takes is replication (sexual reproduction) and limited resources. The laws of physics do the rest. The species that are most successful at surviving tend to survive -- it sounds so simple when you think of it that way. So, each generation has more of the successful models and less of the unsuccessful ones.

Once in a while random copying errors occur. Most of these make the plant or animal less successful, and those genes are not passed on. Once in a while, however, the error leads to a better design, and the new gene wins out. Over long, long periods of time, very efficient and very complicated designs can and will show up, even though they have not been designed by anyone. Just as the Grand Canyon was created by a long slow process, so were we.

If you want to understand evolution, this is the place to start (Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Steven Pinker and many others will pick up from there). If you believe in intelligent design, and want to keep believing, do NOT read this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dawkins Meets Darwin, Jan. 2 2004
By 
Stephen Pletko "Uncle Stevie" (London, Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
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This book (first published in 1986) by Richard Dawkins (born: 1941) explains and "fine-tunes" for the general but educated reader Charles Darwin's (1809-1882) Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection.
This is not a definitive guide to evolutionary theory and the author explains this immediately: "This book is not a dispassionate scientific treatise. Other books on Darwinism [that is, Darwin's Theory of Evolution] are, and many of them...should be read in conjunction with this [book]."
What are the purposes and aims of this book? They are numerous and some are as follows:
(1) "To convey...the sheer wonder [or mystery] of biological complexity to those whose eyes have not been opened to it."
(2) "To remove [the mystery of (1) above]...by explaining the solution."
(3) "To persuade the reader, not just that the Darwinian world-view happens to be true, but that it is the only known theory that could, in principle, solve the mystery of our existence."
(4) "To destroy [the]...myth that Darwinism is a theory of [random or blind] 'chance'."
(5) To help readers make the "leap" in logic that "complex [biological] 'design' [can] arise out of primeval simplicity" and that this complex design is not due to a "supernatural deity."
(6) "To resolve the paradox" that even though natural selection appears to have an ultimate goal (like a watchmaker whose goal is to make a working watch), it, in fact, does not. That is, "natural selection is the blind watchmaker."
(7) To help the reader answer questions like the following: "Could the human eye have arisen directly from no eye at all, in a single step?" or "Could the human eye have arisen directly from something slightly different from itself?"
(8) To underscore the importance of animal genetics (DNA, RNA, protein, genes) and animal embryology.
(9) To explain gene and environmental adaptation interaction.
(10) To explain that "events that are...called miracles are not supernatural, but are part of a spectrum of...improbable natural events."
(11) To explain the importance of geological time that is measured in eons or "thousands of millions of decades."
(12) To explain "that we don't need to postulate a designer in order to understand life, or anything else in the universe."
(13) To explain that "all animals and plants and bacteria, however different they appear to be from one another, are astonishingly uniform when we get down to molecular basics."
(14) To help the reader realize "that only natural selection can drive evolution in adaptive directions."
Dawkins in his very readable writing style fulfills all of these goals and, as well, he explains much more.
There are two aspects of this book I especially enjoyed:
(i) Dawkins selects certain anti-Darwinian arguments and analyzes them using the principles he has developed to show that they could not be true. In this way, the reader gets to practically use the information that Dawkins has introduced us too.
(ii) This book is filled with examples of various animals (including humans) that have undergone evolutionary change. These examples provide concrete validity to Darwin's theory.
The last chapter of this eleven chapter book is my favorite. It deals with rival theories to Darwinism. Such theories as 'mutationism' and creationism are analyzed and commented on.
There are three ways to improve this book so as to make reading it easier. First, Dawkins, when he presents unfamiliar terms initially, defines or explains them in his narrative. After this he assumes, when he presents these terms later on, that the reader will remember their definition accurately or take the time to look in earlier chapters to refresh his or her memory. For myself, this assumption was false. Thus a glossary at the end of the book would have been most helpful. Second, Dawkins explains everything in word pictures. I felt that clear, labelled drawings would have made key concepts easier to understand and decreased the amount of wordiness. Lastly, most chapters contain numerous elaborations, recapitulations, and digressions. I felt that each chapter could have been broken up into sections to accomodate this, thus allowing the reader to follow the discussion more easily.
Dawkins says that "even if there was no actual evidence in favor of the Darwinian theory...[then] we should still be justified in preferring it over all rival theories." I disagree with this statement and was surprised that Dawkins made it. The only reason this theory is preferred is that there is scientific evidence for it. Accepting a theory on the basis of no evidence is called (blind) faith.
Finally, Dawkins speaks of possible life elsewhere in the universe. Thus, once you read this book, I strongly recommend the book "Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe" (2000) by scientists Ward and Brownlee.
In conclusion, this is an excellent book that makes Darwin's Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection understandable. The single most exciting idea that you can take from this book is that the diversity of life we see around us is not incredible, but inevitable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fine, Jan. 17 2004
>His key experiment is a highly dubious experiment using a computer program to produce objects with different morphologies. The problem is that the program doesn't really prove anything.
It does not ATTEMPT to "prove" anything. It attempts to ILLUSTRATE something, and it illustrates it well. (Though perhaps Dawkins is a bit too enamored of his own program.)
>Perhaps if he spent less energy and rhetoric railing against punctuated equilibrium. Dawkins is hyper-critical of any evolutionary theory that doesn't follow strict gradualistic Darwinian evolution. Once you have made up you mind that you have the 'one true answer' you stop questioning. If you cannot question objectively you cannot do good research.
Nonsense. Dawkins is almost always questioning here. He is not at all doctrinaire or preachy. If anything, he is too glib. He doesn't "rail" against "punctuated equilibrium", he refutes it calmly, succinctly, and convincingly.
Don't get the idea I agree with all of Dawkins opinions. (He clearly differentiates opinion and fact, by the way. There is no problem there.) I don't subscribe to the notion that theism and evolution are necessarily irreconcilable, and I don't believe that theism is at root the reason a large contingent remains unable at this late date to accept evolution despite the overwhelming body of scientific evidence amassed in its favor since Darwin's time. I think those who reject evolution suffer from some sort of existential vertigo and are clinging to religion merely to cloak that existential vertigo.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A morass of intuition, June 22 2001
What you won't find in this book, is an abstract model of Natural Selection theory. In a few quick quips a definition of Natural Selection theory is jotted down, the rest of the book containing highly philosphical meanderings based around these quips.
An extreme example of this philosphical meandering, is when he redefines biology as the study of complexity. He then goes to write about how he feels that mountains are less complex then organisms, but provides no argumentation how this is the case. Having meandered this way about complexity for numerous pages, he then drops the subject in the rest of the book, leaving the reader miffed about the whole thing.
A basic error that shows through, is his view of chance. That is, his many views of chance. Dawkins shifts and gears between many different definitions of chance, as can be deduced by the way he uses the word. This gets to be quite problematic in the end of the book when he explicitely and strongly denies that Natural Selection is a chance event. This is simply not true by any standard definition of chance, and not true by professional biologists using Natural Selection in a statistical way, based on the chance of reproduction. When looking at any unit of selection biologists theorize about the reproductive chance it has, and what selective events would influence that reproductive chance. Certainly reproductive chance can't reasonably be called the "antithesis of chance", can it? But this curious redifinition is what you absolutely *have to* accept, by the authority of the rather demanding and defensive professor Dawkins.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great and informative read, June 5 2007
By 
Jonathan Rekve (Saskatoon, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Blind Watchmaker (Paperback)
The book also goes over and debunks many of the things creationists say prove that the theory evolution is either impossible or just made up garbage. They include the argument of the evolution of the eye or the wing, they say what is the use of a half a functioning eye or wing., Dawkins then goes on to explain that they probably started as much similar organs in the case of the eye we can look at simpler organisms like planaria have eye-like organs called “eye spots” that are used to detect the intensity of light, and with the wing it is much easier to explain the need for a “half a wing” using the example of the Archaeopteryx which is believed to be the link of reptiles and birds, and it had almost wing like appendages that would have most likely evolved into the complex wing structure shared by the Aves class. Dawkins also shows the reader the striking resemblance of past arguments for evolution, he goes over the story of how when Moss’s team first discovered that bats could possible use radar for navigation, when the scientific community first heard of they were shocked because the use of radar technology were still top secret due to its use in the war. Scientists found it mind boggling that something they had just recently discovered could have been used by a lesser life form for thousands of thousands of years, but eventually upon looking closer the scientific community realized that this was in fact more probably then they previous thought, since the bat has relatively bad eye sight so they needed to develop a way to navigate during the night so the use of radar becomes much more reasonable.

In conclusion Richard Dawkins “The Blind Watchmaker” main purpose is to not only to explain evolution but to go over the specific concepts that readers thought were left unclear in Richard Dawkins previous book and to comment on some of the things critics of his first book were not supported sufficiently. I would recommended this book to anyone who takes an interest in evolution or more specially Richard Dawkins work in the field, but really anyone who wants to understand why things are the way they are, and how things around came to become the complex organism we see today. The only thing I could see a problem for some people is the length of the book, because with any book if you do not specially take a interest in the book it can be hard to get through it, so like not those who don’t have a passionate interest in biology shouldn’t the book its just they should probably take it a little slowly.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Takes you step by step into understanding Darwinian Evolution, June 19 2014
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You can't be a lazy reader with this one. You will be forced to think and understand, and you'll be grateful for it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Dawkins is clear, logical, and thoughtful, Feb. 4 2014
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Highly recommended, produced by an enlightened secular Humanist populist pioneer.

Resplendent writing style that provided lucid concepts.

A great piece of writing and a pleasure to listen to!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This book is hilarious!, June 30 2002
By 
Jeff (Houston, Texas) - See all my reviews
I must say that when an atheist friend of mine told me about this "ground breaking" book, I was a little concerned that Dawkins might be the first evolutionist who really had some decent arguments. I am thankful he told me about it though because it gave me some great material for my web site.
The Blind Watchmaker is subtitled "Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe WITHOUT DESIGN." With a title like that, it's hard to understand why he would write, "The complexity of living organisms is matched by the elegant efficiency of their APPARENT DESIGN. If anyone doesn't agree that this amount of COMPLEX DESIGN cries out for an explanation, I give up." He also writes, "...it (DNA) is of the same order of elaborateness and COMPLEXITY OF DESIGN as the human eye is at a grosser level...it could not have come into existence through single-step selection. Unfortunately, the same seems to be true of how DNA replicates itself...but also to more primitive creatures like bacteria and blue-green algae." And lastly, "But these notions, complexity and DESIGN, are so pivotal to this book...there is something special about complex, and APPARENTLY DESIGNED things."
To read other side splitting quotes from this book, go to [the internet] and read my page entitled "HOW DID LIFE BEGIN?"
Dawkins describes himself as a writer of HISTORY. After reading his book riddled with words like assume, hypothetical, imagine, postulate, probably, should, suppose, suspect and theory, I would say that FANTASY writer is more accurate.
I read the entire book and read all of these reviews. It just goes to show you how easily the god of this world can deceive people. How anyone can read this book and think Dawkins has solved anything is beyond comprehension.
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Blind Watchmaker
Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins (Paperback - April 25 2006)
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