Saturday, July 30, 2011

Review: The Selfish Gene: 30th Anniversary Edition

The Selfish Gene: 30th Anniversary Edition The Selfish Gene: 30th Anniversary Edition by Richard Dawkins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I know that you're all swooning now and sitting in awe of how incredibly well read I am, but let's just all settle down a minute so that I can tell you what I thought of this. Because really, that's why we're here. ;) Overall, I thought that this was really interesting. I like Dawkins already after listening to The God Delusion (although I liked that one much more than this one). I think The Selfish Gene is intriguing and plausible and actually makes a lot of sense. It was really interesting to learn about the different possibilities for design and evolution, and to see the cause and effect of different variations of a gene. I liked the risk and reward concept as well... It all makes a lot of sense to think of things in this kind of philosophical way -- Everything we are and will be is a carefully honed creation of time and trial and error and cause and effect. It kinda makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Where this one fell a little flat was in the reading and the very last quarter of the book. The reading was pretty good. I'd give it a B- overall. Lalla Ward and Richard Dawkins alternate reading this one, and mostly do a good job with the tone and pacing and all that. But there are times when it was just plain distracting, too. Lalla Ward speaks very proper British, e-nun-cee-a-ting her words and speaking very crisply and clearly, almost to the detriment of what she's actually saying, when all I can focus on is her pronunciation. Even when it's not WAY strange pronunciations like "hah-reem" instead of "hare-em" for "harem", her pronunciation just gets in the way, and at times just sounds a little school teacherish. Richard read all his own end notes immediately after the section in which they pertained, and sometimes he sounded almost bored and sad. And other times he sounded very pompous and critical of others. At one point in an end note, he went on a little tirade about computer programmers creating computer viruses, which has nothing at all to do with the point of this book. Which brings me to the last quarter of the book, in which he goes off on a statistical and odds game ramble for AGES. Explaining different types of betting and games of chance, and possible outcomes and options depending on whether one plays this way or that way... Sort of relevant to genes, but not really new, in that he'd already illustrated the odds and possible outcomes of genes ending up one way or another, and the cooperation of genes with another to improve odds or to effect a desired outcome, etc. Kinda glazed my eyes over a bit in this section because it was just a rehash of information already provided, and in a much less relevant and interesting (to me) way. Overall, I enjoyed this one. I feel like I learned something, and that's why I read it. Could have been a bit better in the execution department, but I can't complain too much. You may resume swooning now. :D

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