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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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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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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 review is from: Blind Watchmaker (Paperback)
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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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)   
This review is from: Blind Watchmaker (Paperback)
=====>
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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29 of 34 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
5.0 out of 5 stars the origin of idiots, April 27 2000
This review is from: The Blind Watchmaker (Diskette)
...Dawkins never claims his "biomorphs" to bebiological, their sole purpose is to show how small changes over aperiod of time can make huge changes in the end product; no more, noless. He turns trees (yes, just the shapes) into grasshoppers, and dragon flies, and satelites (yes, satelites, which are never claimed to be biological). His "quasi-biological forms" (see the forms?) do an excellent job of making his point, and you shall never convince this 'skeptic' otherwise.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dawkins rich of mental image, Oct. 11 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Blind Watchmaker (Diskette)
I actually read this book 5 years ago. It's a book full of imagination! Of the numerous scientific books I have ever read, this is the one that I will never forget. It evoked a series of mental images in my mind. Compare with many biology book burdened with citations and experimental data, this tiny book frequently provides fresh insights by using thought experiment in biological reasoning. I am looking forward to reading it again, with new surprse and definetely, enjoyment.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chapter by chapter summary and critique, Oct. 7 2009
By 
Roger Smook (Guelph, Ontario) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Blind Watchmaker (Paperback)
This is an accomplished and deeply challenging book. Here is an abridged and revised version of my review in Zygon September 1989.

Dawkins aims to persuade the reader that only the Darwinian world-view can account for the facts of biology. By 'Darwinian world-view' he means the modern synthesis based not only upon the classical Darwinian idea of natural selection but also upon Mendelian genetics, molecular biology and other disciplines. I henceforth use the term 'Darwinism' in this sense. Dawkins never succeeds in persuading me that Darwinism is any more than a plausible speculation. The FACT of evolution seems beyond doubt, but I think there is ample room for questioning whether Darwinism provides a satisfactory account of the MECHANISM of evolution.

According to Paley's classic treatise on natural theology, a man ignorant of the genesis of watches, finding one on a heath, could justifiably conclude from its intricacy and ostensible purposiveness that it was the product of design. But intricacy and ostensible purposiveness are even more pronounced in biological organisms than in a watch. Hence we must infer a Designer of organisms, a Divine Watchnmaker. Whereas Paley sees organisms as instances of ACTUAL design, Dawkins sees them merely as instances of APPARENT design. The semblance of design is due to the intricacy of adaptive adjustment between organism and environment. Such adaptation strikes awe and wonder into the human heart and cries out for explanation. In CHAPTER 2 ("Good Design") Dawkins bids fair to outdo even Paley in conveying this awe and wonder through his fascinating account of bat "sonar".

In CHAPTER 1 ("Explaining the Very Improbable") Dawkins states that the elaborate adaptation of organisms is inherently improbable but that it can nonetheless be accounted for by the operation of blind physical forces. This statement presupposes both that the laws of physics themselves need no explanation and that biological laws are reducible to physical laws. Dawkins believes both propositions but does not argue sufficiently for either of them. That the laws of physics are "just right" for the emergence of life certainly seems in need of explanation. Some cosmologists believe that altering the rate of expansion of the Big Bang by one million millionth would have made the universe fall to bits too fast or undergo recollapse too quickly for life to stand a chance of evolving. If, as I suspect, the demand for a non-physical explanation of physics is reasonable, then the hypothesis of design is one candidate. But it would have to be appraised relative to other candidates. With regard to Dawkins's second presupposition it should be pointed out that the program of reductionism still has a long way to go. Dawkins's explanation of modern genetics in CHAPTER 5 ("The Power and the Archives") proceeds as if biology could already be cashed out in terms of physics. But, as another champion of Darwinism concedes, "Notwithstanding the great molecular successes in genetics...it cannot be denied that we are still very far from a complete physico-chemical understanding of the whole spectrum of biological phenomena" (Michael Ruse, The Philosophy of Biology, 1973, p.208.) Admittedly it is METHODOLOGICALLY sound to pursue reductionism as far as possible. Still the question whether life is really understandable in terms of physics must remain open.

CHAPTER 3 "Accumulating Small Change") expounds the central idea of Darwinism that the progression from earlier to later species is accomplished through slow, gradual, cumulative natural selection operating on genetic variations random with respect to adaptive utility. CHAPTER 4 ("Making Tracks through Animal Space") is concerned mainly with the application of this general idea to a specific instance-- the genesis of the human eye. Dawkins appears to reason from "It might have happened thus and so" to "It did happen that way". Thus having satisfied himself of a plausible scenario-- namely, that each member of a series of Xs connecting the human eye to no eye at all was made available by random mutation of its predecessor, and that each such X worked sufficiently well to assist the survival and reproduction of animals possessing it-- he also convinces himself that the scenario is true. How much better just to hold judgment in abeyance! The human eye might have originated this way, but perhaps it came about (at least in significant part) in some other way. (Beware of extrapolating from limited animal populations such as Darwin's finches or DROSOPHILA MELANOGASTER to the whole population of living organisms!)

CHAPTER 6 ("Origins and Miracles") concerning the origin of life is frankly speculative and anyway not directly relevant to Darwinism which already presupposes the existence of some ancestral form of life.

CHAPTERS 7 ("Constructive Evolution") and 8 ("Explosions and Spirals" indicate ways in which natural selection can work constructively so as to cause "a building up of complexity that has more in common with addition than with subtraction" (p.169). Neither of these chapters, however, addresses explicitly a problem that worried Alfred Russell Wallace (a man who contributed to as much to Darwinism as Darwin himself): How can natural selection explain the complexity of the human brain? More recently: the philosopher Thomas Nagel has been bothered by essentially the same problem: "Even if natural selection explains all adaptive evolution, there may be developments in the history of species that are not specifically adaptive and can't be explained in terms of natural selection. Why not take the development of the human intellect as a probable counterexample to the law that natural selection explains everything, instead of forcing it under the law with improbable speculations unsupported by evidence" (THE VIEW FROM NOWHERE, 1968, P.81).

In CHAPTER 9 ("Puncturing Punctuationism") Dawkins dismisses the significance of punctuationism by minimizing the difference between it and standard Darwinism. On the other hand and somewhat inconsistently he does admit one important difference between the two. "As I said, the one respect in which punctuationists do differ from other schools of Darwinism is in their strong emphasis on stasis as something positive: as an active resistance to evolutionary change rather than as, simply, absence of evolutionary change. And this is one respect in which they are probably wrong" (p.248). I am inclined to think that, on the contrary, that the punctuationists are probably right. It seems there are indeed life forms that actively resist evolution. Consider the "living fossils" like the gingko tree and LATIMERIA fish, which have existed unchanged throughout exceedingly long stretches of time.

CHAPTER 10 (The One True Tree of Life") is a technical and rather unrewarding discussion of alternative taxonomic systems. I found CHAPTER 11 ("Doomed Rivals"), however, the best in the book. It contains penetrating criticisms of alternatives to Darwinism. Also very useful is the discussion of various biologically relevant meanings of the word 'random'. It nevertheless seems to me that Dawkins commits what Norman Macbeth has appropriately called "the best in the field fallacy": "Darwinism has had to compete with various rival theories, each of which aimed at a more or less complete explanation. the most famous rivals were vitalism, fundamentalism, Lamarkism, and the hopeful-monster suggestion of Goldschmidt. The Darwinians have shown that none of these theories are any good...Thus the Darwinians are able to say that Darwin made a better try than anyone else. Does this mean that Darwinism is correct? No. Sir Julian Huxley says that, once the hypothesis of special creation is ruled out, adaptation can only be ascribed to natural selection, but this is utterly unjustified. He should say only that Darwinism is better than the others. But when the others are no good, this is faint praise. Is there any glory in outrunning a cripple in a foot race? Being best-in-the-field means nothing if the field is made up of fumblers" (DARWIN RETRIED, 1971, p77).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Science and Religion, April 17 2004
By 
This review is from: Blind Watchmaker (Paperback)
Some of the "one star" reviewers think that a lot of what is in this book is based on speculation and theory and it has no basis in facts.
To me that is like someone driving along a highway and coming upon a car crash then pretending that no crash occurred. It makes no sense. One cannot ignore some scientific observation, like the car crash, since perhaps in the Bible or some other religious book there was never a mention of a car crash.
Darwinian theory is perceived by some to be compatible with religious views of evolution. But Darwinian theory itself might be wrong. It is probably still too soon to tell.
Some of the scientific observations have taken decades of careful analysis in the laboratory to sort out. I strongly recommend a related book "Wonderful Life" by Stephen Jay Gould that lays out how a typical scientific analysis is undertaken, and how mistakes can be made, but how they are eventually corrected after numerous researchers draw the same conclusions. That book deals with 500 million year old fossils. In that study the scientists find more diversity among the early animals than we have today, not less, which is contrary to evolution theory. In fact evolution is probably much about completely random decimation (like a meteor hitting the earth) and survival than it is about adapting and evolving to complicated life forms by a guided hand or unguided hand.
Jack in Toronto
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fine, Jan. 17 2004
This review is from: Blind Watchmaker (Paperback)
>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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Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins (Paperback - April 25 2006)
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