The Selfish Gene kindle ✓ eBook 9780199291151

Richard Dawkins ↠ The Selfish Gene text

The Selfish Gene kindle ✓ eBook 9780199291151 ê The Selfish Gene 30th Anniversary Edition—with a new Introduction by the AuthorInheriting 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 GeneImagine that our genes build and maintain us in order to make 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 sinceWhy 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 Although I consider myself a Jesus loving god fearing creationist I simply LOVE reading about evolution I'm not sure what it is but I find the whole concept when explained by a lucid and accessible author fascinating And Dawkins is nothing if not lucid and accessible He presents the topic and various uestions and scientific controversies in a way that anybody with a willingness to pay attention can follow it Some of the chapters were a bit of a slog as Dawkins has to resort to scary scary math and numbers to prove some of his points and set up for even mindblowing stuff in future chapters But most of the time this book is chock full of insanely interesting examples and user friendly analogies Dawkins sure knows his way around language too One of my favorite lines is Sex that bizarre perversion of straightforward replicationOn the science of it all as I said I'm a creationist but I like to read up on the other side and at least understand if not appreciate what their take on the matter is And to read Dawkins is to realize yes this does sound like a very solid theory My one stumbling block to getting onto the evolution train one hundred percent is time Perhaps my comprehension of just how long hundred million years is is faulty but I just can't wrap my mind around how all of these ACCIDENTAL mutations with no conscious will on the part of the group individual or gene itself could possibly result in the complexity of life as we see it now There is an adage that if you gave an infinite number of monkeys an infinite number of typewriters and an infinite amount of time they would eventually produce the complete works of Shakespeare To believe evolution is to believe that you now have a FINITE amount of monkeys and a FINITE amount of time and yet they STILL manage to produce the complete works of Shakespeare and they do it OVER AND OVER AND OVER again Just doesn't seem plausible But perhaps further reading will sway me at a later dateEDIT 6315I can't believe this review is still getting attention after all this time And I love the thread that has developed in the comments I should let you all know though that as of 2008 I have been living on the side of reason and rationality I became an atheist after a LOT of reading and contemplating of the Bible the link to my de conversion story is down in the comments as well I try these days to as much as possible follow the evidence wherever it leads Additionally Dawkins' The Ancestor's Tale was one of THE most beautiful books I've ever read Check out my review if you're interested

reader ò The Selfish Gene ↠ Richard Dawkins

The Selfish Gene 30th Anniversary Edition with a new Introduction by the AuthorInheriting 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 What some people seem to find hard to understand is that there's a part of you in fact the most important part that's immaterial and immortal Your body is really no than a temporary shell for the immortal part and houses it for a little while until it dies The rest of this review is available elsewhere the location cannot be given for Goodreads policy reasons

ePub The Selfish Gene

The Selfish GeneFrom the perspective of molecules competing for limited space and resources to produce 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 Lightn On 27 December 1831 a young naturalist by the name of Charles Robert Darwin set upon a voyage of discovery on the HMS Beagle which was to last five years and take him all over the globe He came back with a lot of specimens copious scientific notes and an explosive theory which was to rock the world of ideas the theory of evolution by natural selection Suddenly God became an unnecessary and unlikely hypothesis man was pulled down from his high throne as the master of creation and existence became a cacophony of chance events rather than a carefully co ordinated orchestra Naturally the religious establishment rebelled But like all ideas whose time had come evolution hung on with great tenacity to become the widely accepted idea it is todayI have been fascinated with the idea ever since I was introduced to it in high school As far as I am concerned the very argument that theists put forward against evolution is its greatest strength; viz the complexity of the natural world According to the believer such a complex and “perfect” whatever that means system has to have an architect behind it But the fact is that it is not “perfect” – nature is dynamic What we perceive as stability is homeostasis a seething mass of life eating one another and being eaten; and as nature shifts her stance so does life whole species dying out like the dinosaurs to make way for othersBut wait Humans are different aren’t we? We compete true but we also show altruism People lay down their life to protect their progeny their brothers and sisters their countrymen if we were selfish survival machines why would we do this? It means we have the spark of divinity within us doesn’t it?Well not exactly according to Richard Dawkins It only means we have the “Selfish Gene” within us The Selfish Gene needs no introduction This is one of those iconic “pop” science books which everyone seems to have read like The Naked Ape by Desmond Morris I was a bit late well about 37 years in getting to it However the book has lost none of the charm and the idea any of its power due to the ravages of time if at all it has become strongerWhat is a gene?Dawkins confesses that there is no universally agreed definition of ‘gene’ We now know that the blueprint for building of each human being is coded in 23 pairs of chromosomes one of every pair being inherited from each parent The code inside the chromosome is written in DNA molecules the famous ‘Double Helix’ that Dawkins terms the ‘Immortal Coils’The DNA molecules are replicators They replicate themselves; they also manufacture proteins the basic building block of life as we know it These DNA molecules some version of them were the original “life” in the “primeval soup” they reproduced themselves and competed with one another to survive Natural selection defined which lasted and which died awayDawkins defines a gene a definition borrowed from G C Williams as “any part of chromosomal material that potentially lasts for enough generations to serve as a unit of natural selection” In other words a gene is a copier with high “copying fidelity” that is it ensures that it copies itself without mistakes so that longevity in the form of copies is ensuredSo in the primeval soup these genes went on happily competing with each other evolving newer and newer ways of surviving in an environment which got increasingly complex As part of survival technology the genes built a lot of machines bunching together to form gene complexes in the context The machines got and complex from the single cell amoeba to the human beingDawkins starts the book with the uestion “Why are people?” This is his answer – so that the gene can survive and replicate We are nothing but vehicles for the genes who exist to ensure their survivalPretty disillusioning isn’t it? But Dawkins is far from done After pulling down humanity from its pedestal as the “pinnacle of creation” he proceeds to explain all the lofty sentiments such as love altruism sacrifice etc as the result of strategies for gene survival – extremely selfish strategies at that It is very difficult to stomach for a generation which has been trained to behold human beings as somehow special and the above sentiments as the proof of their exclusivity which separate them from the “lower” animals As one disgusted poster said in one of the fora where this book was discussed “So altruism is like going to the potty? Oh dear”But even though disheartening at first as Dawkins begins to back up his arguments with solid scientific reasoning it is difficult to dispute him and difficult not to get excited when he presents his theory with mathematical precisionAggression and StabilityOne of the most common arguments put forward against evolution is that an uncontrolled state of aggression will lead to a free for all and the “stable” environment we see cannot exist Dawkins explains this with the concept of an ESS Evolutionary Stable Strategy which leads to a dynamic euilibrium or homeostasis he posits a theoretical society populated by pure aggressors “hawks” and pure pacifists “doves” and proves logically that over a period of time the number of hawks and doves will stabilise in roughly eual proportion This is because it is not the survival machines which are having the final say on who will win it is the genes This concept is further expanded with fine variations on the behavior – ultimately every time a dynamically stable configuration resultsIn Chapter 12 ‘Nice Guys Finish First’ added as part of the second edition Dawkins takes this theory further and presents a varying set of evolutionary strategies modelled on Game Theory It describes in detail various evolutionary stratagems he tried out on his computer with contributions from a lot of scientists and the outcomes This is a fascinating analysis and in my opinion the most interesting part of the book – but that may just be the engineer in me who loves anything mathematicalAltruismOh yes The old stumbling block The favourite saw of the creationists If we are all selfish how does altruism come into the picture? Why do parents sacrifice themselves for their children why do siblings do the same for each other why do we co operate at all? Should we not be at each other’s throats all the time?No according to Dawkins If we look at it from the gene’s point of view it all makes perfect senseWhen we are talking of genes we are talking of gene pools here a group of genes working together so that the survival of each is maximised Dawkins makes a brilliant analogy to a rowing team If a coach is choosing a team he would over a period end up with a group who can pull in such a way that the winning chance is maximised – an individual rower however brilliant he is would find no place in the team if he did not contribute to the group effort In the case of genes natural selection plays the role of the coach Those genes which could not co operate simply get discarded in the evolutionary race over a period of timeAlso one should bear in mind that a gene is not a single physical bit of DNA; it is all replicas of a particular bit of DNA distributed throughout the world A gene might be able to assist replicas of itself that are sitting in other bodies If so this could be the origin of altruism Dawkins calls it ‘genesmanship’ He spends four chapters explaining how it applies to siblings offspring lovers and apparent strangers In the last chapter ‘The Long Reach of the Gene’ Dawkins extrapolates the above argument to how the gene in one species can extend its reach to another species possibly to the detriment of the latter to explain parasitismOne may take it or leave it but the arguments are well thought out and presented with great clarity; with cold scientific logic There are no opinions here It makes fascinating reading even though the mathematical analysis may put some offMemesThe concept of the ‘meme’ is possibly the most revolutionary one expressed in this book Dawkins defines a meme as a unit of cultural transmission a basic idea which gets replicated in human brains in the ‘primeval soup’ of human culture; which according to him is in the same state as the biological ‘soup’ was at the dawn of life on earth To uote the author himselfExamples of memes are tunes ideas catch phrases clothes fashions ways of making pots or of building arches Just as genes propagate themselves in the gene pool by leaping from body to body via sperms or eggs so memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain via a process which in the broad sense can be called imitationAccording Dawkins all prevalent ideas including the idea of God is a meme the meme survives because it has a survival value in the meme pool If we subscribe to this idea the whole intellectual arena is nothing but a group of memes grappling for survival – not a very edifying thought It seems Dawkins appreciates this because he ends the chapter on memes with the speculation that man has the capacity for genuine disinterested true altruism He says “We are built as gene machines and cultured as meme machines but we have the power to turn against our creators We alone on earth can rebel against the tyranny of the selfish replicators”I as a fan of the Jungian idea of the Collective Unconscious could not help speculating on whether the meme could be embedded way down in the gene itself? Maybe the Collective Unconscious is nothing but little bits of consciousness embedded inside the DNA which guided the process of survival? If so it could be case for Intelligent Design – or rather Intelligent EvolutionThis is one of those ‘pop science’ books which are enlightening and enjoyable at the same time A must read Read the review also on my BLOG