The Selfish Gene (30th Anniversary Edition--with a new Introduction by the Author) / Edition 3

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by Richard Dawkins
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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780199291151
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 05/30/2006
Series: 30th Anniversary Edition
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

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.

Table of Contents

Introduction to 30th edn

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The Selfish Gene (30th Anniversary Edition--with a new Introduction by the Author) 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 46 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dawkins is genious. clear as day.
dwellNC More than 1 year ago
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. 
RonHelpmanLCSW More than 1 year ago
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.
Old_Sage More than 1 year ago
"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.
kaipakartik on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Richard Dawkins considers the gene to be the basic unit of evolution in this book. It is a quick read for such a dense subject and Dawkins does a brilliant job explaining.One of the best popular science books that I have read.
Leigh56 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Incredibly informative and is the most thought inspiring book I've ever read.
Lapsus16 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Bestseller by a fairly egomaniac scientist. This is his best work, then he decided he was God and lost touch with reality. His anti-higher power belief is OK and expected in a modern scientist, but he is too much absorbed by his own success that started to become more a liability than an asset for the atheist-rational world.
Dianejones59 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
A classic book on gene theory written in Dawkins beautiful prose.
cdagulleiro on LibraryThing 8 months ago
A great and timeless work. Dawkins gives light to the average jow to many questions about evolution and behaviour. Nonetheless, Dawkins is not the most entertaining writer. He wanders in circles too much, analogy after analogy for the same idea or topic creating endless chapters. But all in all, I can not think of a better single work about evolution.
mcandre on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This book is not about the controversy, just Evolution in its own terms.
red.yardbird on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Great book. Love Dawkins style and explanations.
Qshio on LibraryThing 8 months ago
You don't really understand evolution until you read this book. Probably the best thing I can say about it is that it makes the thing we call "life" -- usually described as this ethereal force or spark -- far more concrete than one thought possible. Read this, then read The Beak of the Finch by Jonathan Weiner, and then this whole thing we call evolution will make sense on the micro and macro level.
Audacity88 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Brilliant science that reshapes the moral idea of the human being.
princemuchao on LibraryThing 10 months ago
This classic science text personifies the gene in order to look at evolution/natural selection in a new way. Game theory and its effects on natural selection play a key role, and Dawkins' biological examples throughout are interesting and informative - did you know that male bees do not have fathers?This is also the book that introduced Dawkins' concept of memes - all the more important a concept to those internet-savvy individuals who may be using this "web 2.0" site.Written in 1976, the text is a bit dated, but the 30th anniversary edition has 50 pages of endnotes that elucidate the text and deal with some of the controversy and counter-responses generated after its publication.
johnxlibris on LibraryThing 10 months ago
The basic premise of this foundational work states that genes will act "selfishly" in order to ensure further self-replication. This does not imply that they do this consciously, but as Dawkins carefully lays out, the selfishness is behavioral, not subjective. To put it differently, genes that behave selfishly (they benefit at the expense of others) tend the survive and replicate themselves into the next generation. That behavior is then repeated. Even apparently altruistic behavior in the organisms, the genes' vehicle, can be shown to ultimately benefit the genes of the altruistic host.My explanation is far too simplified to give justice to Dawkin's work. In his mouth, the workings of creation take on a glorious simplicity even if the explanation for them is laboriously worked out. He discusses how genetic "selfishness" plays out between species, families, sexes, within individuals and even extends beyond the individual into the material world.Dawkin's book is the answer to the ultimate "how" and a partial response to the "why." It reminds me of the narrator's quote from the latest film adaptation of War of the Worlds (2005): "By the toll of a billion deaths, man had earned his immunity, his right to survive among this planet's infinite organisms. And that right is ours against all challenges." We exist because we can. Sure it's a tautology, but a wonderfully assuring one.
ashishg on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Evolution theory with gene as center of survival competitions, and how animal social behaviours can be interpreted as result of this process. Introduces to "Evolutionary Stable Strategy" concept. Some novel ideas but poorly written or explained, and leaves many questions unanswered.
soylentgreen23 on LibraryThing 10 months ago
There comes a book, every now and then, that changes your conception of things. Of all the books I've read like that, Dawkins' is the one to have made the most lasting impression, as it has changed the way I think about all humanity.
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