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Blind Watchmaker Paperback – Apr 25 2006

4.3 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin UK (April 25 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141026162
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141026169
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 2.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 281 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #11,731 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Oxford zoologist Dawkins (The Selfish Gene, The Extended Phenotype trumpets his thesis in his subtitlealmost guarantee enough that his book will stir controversy. Simply put, he has responded head-on to the argument-by-design most notably made by the 18th century theologian William Paley that the universe, like a watch in its complexity, needed, in effect, a watchmaker to design it. Hewing to Darwin's fundamental (his opponents might say fundamentalist) message, Dawkins sums up: "The theory of evolution by cumulative natural selection is the only theory we know of that is in principle capable of explaining the evolution of organized complexity." Avoiding an arrogant tone despite his up-front convictions, he takes pains to explain carefully, from various sides, why even such esteemed scientists as Niles Eldredge and Stephen Jay Gould, with their "punctuated equilibrium" thesis, are actually gradualists like Darwin himself in their evolutionary views. Dawkins is difficult reading as he describes his computer models of evolutionary possibilities. But, as he draws on his zoological background, emphasizing recent genetic techniques, he can be as engrossing as he is cogent and convincing. His concept of "taming chance" by breaking down the "very improbable into less improbable small components" is daring neo-Darwinism. Line drawings.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Dawkins, author of The Selfish Gene ( LJ 12/1/76), persuasively argues the case for Darwinian evolution. He criticizes the prominent punctuationist school, and takes issue with the views of creationists and others who believe that life arose by design of a deity. Using the evolution of various animals as examples and drawing parallels from improvements in modern technology, Dawkins demonstrates the logic of the selection process and of an incremental evolution whose end products are the highly complex, functional organisms we know today. This provocative work is likely to generate further controversy in the scientific community. Recommended for informed laypersons, undergraduates, and scholars. Joseph Hannibal, Cleveland Museum of Natural History
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Format: 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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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.Read more ›
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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".
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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.
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