The Selfish Gene (30th Anniversary Edition--with a new Introduction by the Author)

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Overview

Richard Dawkins' brilliant reformulation of the theory of natural selection has the rare distinction of having provoked as much excitement and interest outside the scientific community as within it. His theories have helped change the whole nature of the study of social biology, and have forced thousands of readers to rethink their beliefs about life.
In his internationally bestselling, now classic volume, The Selfish Gene, Dawkins explains how the selfish gene can also be a ...

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The Selfish Gene (30th Anniversary Edition)

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Overview

Richard Dawkins' brilliant reformulation of the theory of natural selection has the rare distinction of having provoked as much excitement and interest outside the scientific community as within it. His theories have helped change the whole nature of the study of social biology, and have forced thousands of readers to rethink their beliefs about life.
In his internationally bestselling, now classic volume, The Selfish Gene, Dawkins explains how the selfish gene can also be a subtle gene. The world of the selfish gene revolves around savage competition, ruthless exploitation, and deceit, and yet, Dawkins argues, acts of apparent altruism do exist in nature. Bees, for example, will commit suicide when they sting to protect the hive, and birds will risk their lives to warn the flock of an approaching hawk.
This 30th anniversary edition of Dawkins' fascinating book retains all original material, including the two enlightening chapters added in the second edition. In a new Introduction the author presents his thoughts thirty years after the publication of his first and most famous book, while the inclusion of the two-page original Foreword by brilliant American scientist Robert Trivers shows the enthusiastic reaction of the scientific community at that time. This edition is a celebration of a remarkable exposition of evolutionary thought, a work that has been widely hailed for its stylistic brilliance and deep scientific insights, and that continues to stimulate whole new areas of research today.

Revised version of this popular explanation of evolution features two new chapters and endnotes.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
In 1976, a little-known biologist named Richard Dawkins published a book called The Selfish Gene, which presented a stark (some said merciless) version of evolutionary theory. Dawkins's pithy writing style and mastery of telling detail combined to make the book one of the popular and controversial books on evolution ever written. This 30th anniversary version contains a new introduction and the two chapters that Dawkins added to the second edition.
From the Publisher
"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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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199291151
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 5/30/2006
  • Series: 30th Anniversary Edition
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 63,828
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins is the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University, a Fellow of the Royal Society and of the Royal Society of Literature, and an international lecturer. His acclaimed books include The Extended Phenotype, a more technical sequel to The Selfish Gene, and The Blind Watchmaker, which won the Royal Society of Literature Award and the Los Angeles Times Prize, both in 1987. His other bestsellers include River out of Eden, Climbing Mount Impossible, Unweaving the Rainbow, and the A Devil's Chaplain. His most recent book is The Ancestor's Tale.

Professor Dawkins is the recipient of many prizes and honors, including the Shakespeare Prize, the Silver Medal of the Zoological Society of London, the Royal Society's Michael Faraday Award, the Nakayama Prize for Achievement in Human Science, The International Cosmos Prize, and the Kistler Prize.

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Table of Contents

Introduction to 30th edn
Preface to 1989 edn
Foreword to 1976 edn
Preface to 1976 edn
1. Why are people?
2. The replicators
3. Immortal coils
4. The gene machine
5. Aggression: stability and the selfish machine
6. Genesmanship
7. Family planning
8. Battle of the generations
9. Battle of the sexes
10. You scratch my back, I'll ride on yours
11. Memes: the new replicators
12. Nice guys finish first
13. The long reach of the gene
Endnotes
Reviews from earlier editions
Updated bibliography
Index and key to bibliography

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 70 )
Rating Distribution

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(42)

4 Star

(14)

3 Star

(7)

2 Star

(3)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 70 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2006

    A review from someone who has read the book.

    I thought this necessary to balance out the religious fundamentalist who 'reviewed' this book before me. I'd like to point out that I've actually read this book, as well as creationist and intelligent design books. In 1976, Richard Dawkins revolutionized biology not only by providing a compelling argument for gene-centered evolution (evolution being the only other choice other than us being magically made of dust a few thousand years ago) but by introducing the concept of memes. Whether you agree with him or not, Dawkins' book is well written and deserves to at least be read in its entirety before being baselessly based by Bible-thumping, fundamentalist, reason and logic lacking creationists.

    18 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2006

    Excellent & A Word For The Creationist...

    I must acknowledge that this is perhaps one of the finest books I have encountered and read. The structure was very well thought out and written in terms that even an average individual without prior exposure to these studies can understand. As for the poor reviews that 'Christians' are always giving Dawkins and other like minded authors and theorist. Stop wasting everyones time with your babbling reviews of repentence and redemtion and persecution. No one has asked for you to agree with our opinions/theorizations on the evolution of life and frankly we do not waste our time in attempting to persuade you to accept our opinions. A word to the Christian. PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH. Stop being selective in your Biblical scriptures and finding ways to twist what your Bible says. If you are going to defend your beliefs, stick with your guidelines in your Bible, NOT what you misconstrue.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2013

    Baby

    Cries.

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2013

    Floorboards creak

    With soft footfall.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2013

    Jamie

    Sits down quietly and plays video games.

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2013

    Ella

    Hey there I say in a gentle voice what you playing ?

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2008

    A reviewer

    Dawkins is genious. clear as day.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 5, 2014

    Very good book. It was not exactly what I expected but like all

    Very good book. It was not exactly what I expected but like all Dawkins books it is very well written. He presents a well argued case. 

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  • Posted May 2, 2014

    Great read.

    Want a fresh look at evolution from different angle? View it from the point of view of a selfish gene. Simple but powerful explanations and analogies. We discussed this book in a book club and it stimulated some lively discussion, especially about the "selfish" part. Where does altruism come from? Selfishness??
    Caveats: This is book written for those already interested in evolution or at least have open minds. Some of the science is already obsolete. Author calls aleles, genes. It was written 30 years. Not to be read for technical accuracy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2013

    Anonomus

    Wonderful book. I learned a lot.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 7, 2012

    In this classic sociobiology text, Dawkins shows how mathematica

    In this classic sociobiology text, Dawkins shows how mathematical analyses can help us understand the evolution of social behaviors in humans and other animals.

    Dawkins uses game theory to show how differing strategies can come to coexist in populations. He does this with strategies of physical aggression, mating and infant-care strategies.

    He writes about the evolution of altruistic behaviors—i.e., behaviors that promote the survival of others while reducing the chances of survival of the altruistic individual. Here the analysis is based on the understanding that natural selection operates at the level of genes rather than organisms.

    In the process of natural selection, random mutations create alleles (versions) of genes that create different varieties of a feature (e.g. different eye colors, or different levels of aggression). The alleles that endow the organism with characteristics that best serve to reproduce that allele become increasingly common in the population.

    By reducing the likelihood of survival, altruism reduces the likelihood of reproduction of individual organisms. However, an allele that creates an altruistic behavior could become common if that behavior benefited enough other individuals who also carried that allele. Altruistic acts toward closer relatives are more likely to be of benefit to an allele because closer relatives are more likely to also have that allele.

    All of this makes for fascinating reading. However, Dawkins takes three shortcuts that can lead the reader to misunderstand the process of natural selection.

    He refers to gene alleles as “genes.” Secondly, for much of the book he writes at the level of the individual organism rather than the allele. Finally, in order to make it easier to evaluate how specific strategies impact the allele’s frequency, he writes as if genes—and animals—are beings that consciously strategize with self-reproducing goals in mind.

    These shortcuts don't compromise his analyses of specific strategies. However, he almost never restates his arguments in scientifically objective, allele-centered terms. As a result, the reader may create an incorrect mental model of natural selection in which human-like genes—and the individuals they control—are locked in a dog eat dog competition for dominance.

    Dawkins himself seems to have succumbed to this misconception. On page 2 he writes: “I shall argue that the predominant quality to be expected in a successful gene is ruthless selfishness. This gene selfishness will usually give rise to selfish behavior.”

    Gene alleles don’t have attitudes to other alleles of the same gene, they simply code for characteristics—only a fraction of which have anything to do with social behavior. Is an allele for light hair in Northern Europe “selfish”?

    The alleles that become frequent in a population are the ones that code for characteristics that enhance their reproduction. Most mutations produce alleles that reduce the viability of the organism and hence of the allele. If one wanted to attribute a quality to alleles that become prevalent it would be “lucky,” or “effective,” not “selfish.”

    That said, reading “The Selfish Gene” was a pleasurable, at times even enlightening, experience for this reviewer. I strongly recommend this book, especially if you don’t already have a background in game theory or in the theory of kin selection.

    Just be careful to step around the pitfalls that Dawkins falls into.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2012

    Some parts are tough, but overall amazing read

    It can get complicatedat times, and fairly technical. But stick with it.the insights offered are incredible. This reqlly os alandmark, must-read book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2011

    Wow

    Deep ideas. Provoking!

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  • Posted March 1, 2009

    The Selfish Gene "meets" Death by Black Hole

    "The Selfish Gene" by Richard Dawkins, like "Death by Black Hole" by Neil Degrasse Tyson, is another example of fine scholarship. Although these 2 insightful books cover different subject matter, I found something astutely interesting illustrated in each book.

    On page 23 of the paperback version of "The Selfish Gene," Dr. Dawkins writes, "...when you were first conceived you were just a single cell, ... This cell divided into two, ... Successive divisions took the number of cells up to 4, 8, 16, 32, and so on into the billions."

    On page 284 of the paperback version of "Death by Black Hole," Dr. Tyson writes regarding being devoured by a black hole, "That's the gory moment when you body snaps into two segments, breaking apart at your midsection. Upon falling further, ... so forth, bifurcating your body into an ever-increasing number of parts: 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, etc."

    The point of these 2 references is to illustrate how science, revealed through sound scholarship, presents cogent patterns in the architect's esoteric fabric of our existence to those who seek a higher understanding of life. These revelations are esoteric only because there are relatively few who "seek" this higher understanding when considering the whole of humanity.

    "The Selfish Gene" is filled with insightful, scientific, and relevant information. Therefore, I highly recommend the book to the general public, and especially to the intellectual.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2006

    Excellent book

    A must read for everyone.

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    Posted March 24, 2013

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    Posted July 8, 2011

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    Posted April 9, 2009

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    Posted May 16, 2012

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    Posted June 16, 2011

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