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The Selfish Gene: 30th Anniversary Edition--with a new Introduction by the Author Paperback – Deluxe Edition, May 25, 2006
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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.
"Dawkins first book, The Selfish Gene, was a smash hit...Best of all, Dawkins laid out this biology-some of it truly subtle-in stunningly lucid prose. (It is, in my view, the best work of popular science ever written.)"--New York Review of Books
"This important book could hardly be more exciting."--The Economist
"The sort of popular science writing that makes the reader feel like a genius."--New York Times
"Who should read this book? Everyone interested in the universe and their place in it."--Jeffrey R. Baylis, Animal Behaviour
"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
"The presentations are remarkable for their clarity and simplicity, intelligible to any schoolchild, yet so little condescending as to be a pleasure to the professional."--American Scientist
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Top Customer Reviews
After a lengthy exploration of basic biology, covering topics such as DNA and the origin of life, Dawkins introduces the gene-centered view of evolution that has long been textbook orthodoxy. Dawkins uses the remainder of the book to look at various types of animal behavior in an effort to convey some general conclusions and tools to help the reader understand evolution and natural selection. Much of his effort is devoted to explaining behavior in terms of the 'selfish gene' - especially social behavior that has long been held to have evolved 'for the good of the species.' Dawkins shows that how fundamental axiom of natural selection (that the genes best at surviving and reproducing will eventually spread through the gene pool) leads directly to the selfish gene and the behavior exhibited by nearly all animals (humans being the prime exception).
Many of Dawkins's metaphors have caused raised eyebrows - one outstanding example is his characterization of living things as "lumbering robots" built to protect the genes that hide in them - but the metaphors are always (eventually) brought under control.Read more ›
I'm going to quote Dawkins from the preface to the original edition as he provides an excellent summary of the central message of the book and its effect upon him (and me):
"We are survival machines - robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes. This is a truth which still fills me with astonishment. Though I have known it for years, I never seem to get fully used to it."
Using one of the many excellent analogies utilised throughout his book, Dawkins explains that we are like a chess computer program that has been programmed by its creator to play in its absence. The programmer (genes) takes no part in the game (life) but instead provides the tools for its vehicle (animal, plant etc.) to play the game on its behalf.
I am glad that Dawkins says that he never gets fully used to this idea. I find it very difficult to replace the idea of my primacy in my body with the idea above. It requires a sort of `flip' in one's perception - but it is so different to what our senses tell us that it flips back without a conscious effort (or so I find, anyway). But how many of us have not regularly had to do battle with themselves to do what they know they should do rather than what they feel an urge to do? Dawkins' ideas provide an excellent framework in which to help understand these problems, which I suspect is a major part of the reason why Munger recommended this book.Read more ›
It's a shame that a book of such excellent writing quality received such poor production treatment for this new format.
I started it many years ago at the suggestion of a friend, thinking I wouldn't find it very interesting, and not much liking the kind of philosophy of life that (on the basis of my friend's description) seemed to lie behind it. But only a chapter or two in, I was completely hooked, and wanted to read more Dawkins.
On one level, I can share in the sense of wonder Dawkins so evidently sees in the workings-out of such complex processes, often made up of quite simple elemental mechanisms, but interacting so complexly to produce the incredibly complex world we live in.
But at the same time, I largely blame "The Selfish Gene" for a series of bouts of depression I suffered from for more than a decade, and part of me wants to rate the book at zero stars for its effect on my life. Never sure of my spiritual outlook on life, but trying to find something deeper - trying to believe, but not quite being able to - I found that this book just about blew away any vague ideas I had along these lines, and prevented them from coalescing any further. This created quite a strong personal crisis for me some years ago.
The book renders a God or supreme power of any sort quite superfluous for the purpose of accounting for the way the world is, and the way life is.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
fascinating and intriguing. It brings many thoughts to mind on a daily basis as the selfish genes are all around us and acting everyday.Published 7 days ago by Carol Young
The book is virtually new, and there are no pages missing, or any smudges, or highlights, nothing. Thank you for a great copy of the The Selfish Gene! 🙂Published 14 days ago by Amazon Customer
A superb read! Carefully argued and very insightful. A great foundation text for understanding genetics and human evolution. It arrived on time and in perfect condition. Read morePublished 15 days ago by M. Zavala
Dawkins has a lot of good ideas about how far we...our genes...will go to survive. It dispels lots of the romantic and intrinsic motives of human behavior. Read morePublished 16 days ago by Suanne Huffman
I had been looking forward to reading this book for some time before buying it, and I am not disappointed. In fact I finished it quickly and re-read it. Read morePublished 20 days ago by DavidKindama
Eye opening read. Pretty intense. It's not a fluffy read, but great in-depth info on the human tendencies and our brain.Published 21 days ago by Kim's Amazon
This book has had the biggest impact on how i see life (life as a concept) than any other book. It is truly enlightening. Read morePublished 22 days ago by Brandon