Book review 5) The Blind Watchmaker

Hi,
just few minutes back I finished the book Blind Watchmaker, here is the review. (Also do not forget to check out my second blog!)

Book: The Blind Watchmaker

Author: Richard Dawkins

Genre: Science

Pages: 332

Rating: 8.1/10


Ok so compared to the first book I read from Dawkins, the Selfish Gene, this one was a bit weaker. Maybe I rated it lower because I expected something different from the book but anyway there were parts which were for me kind of boring.

This book is about the Blind Watchmaker which is natural selection. Blind because evolution does not plan ahead, it just selects the fittest.

In first chapters which were very very good Dawkins talks about probability and ireducible complexity which are favorite arguments by creationists and other anti-evolutionists. The point is that organs like eye are extremely complex, too complex to appear by chance. This should be the argument against evolution and for intelligent design. It is shown that as long as you can imagine something just a little less complex and then something just a little bit less complex than that, you will after lot of steps get to no eye at all and at all times bad sight is better than none at all, by this you can explain how complicated organs evolved over long period of time.

There is lot of text only for the echolocation of bats which is very interesting topic I recommend you to read.

Pictures from Dawkins’s simulation

Dawking puts an images of what his old computer produced when he let him run a program that changed a simple ornament into various complicated structures via simple “mutations”. He illustrates on this how species may be created.

At one point there comes a huge “disappointment”. Author is saying that the event of statue waving on you is improbable though it can happen. If all the atoms in the hand moved at the same time back and forth. He even says that his friend calculated for him the probability, and then he does not mention it!!!
What was he thinking about? That the reader would not want to know what is the probability of statue waving?! I mean, my life wont make any sense until I will found the probability somewhere… -_-

At around the page 200 it gets somewhat boring because he talks about all the schools of evolution and what all of them think, and what is right, and what arguments are good and which are not. This continues almost to the end until in last chapter he puts down creationism, lamarckism and other so called “doomed rivals” of evolution.

The start of the book was very good but the end was boring as I said. At the same time I would not want to be influenced by the effect of “peak-end” so I give 8.1/10.

Dragallur

Altruism does not exist

Hi,
the title is pretty self-explanatory but I can expand it. What I want to write about today is the theory of selfish gene and how it interacts with selfishness and altruism. (Btw. do not forget to check out my second blog!)


So altruistic act is the act that helps others while giving you to worse position, by this I mean that it costs you some energy for example.

What I want to say that there is apparently altruistic behavior towards those who are similar to you. Who is that? Your family.

Over all you share 1/2 of genes with your siblings and with your parents and also children, nobody can get closer to you if you wont make a copy of yourself or you have twin.

From the point of the selfish gene which is in you, it is important to stay in population and not die out [1]. This means that the gene is trying to safe other genes which may be riding in different bodies.


How does he know that there is his identical gene twin in other individual? Dawkins says for example in his book The Selfish Gene, that when there is gene for altruism in your body you will know that this same gene appears in somebody else who is also behaving altruisticly. While it is always from evolutionary point of view best to safe yourself, it is also good to safe others because they may contain the same stuff as you and that is what is important, not the outer shell which is anyway just a vehicle which will disappear after few years.

To enhance this argument I will just add: if gene is able to recognise himself in other “survival machines” then it will be more often present in future generations which is basicly natural selection.


 

You can not apply this for human behaviour because we are no longer bound only by instincts and this surely is not a way to live a life. At the same time, think over your past days about you and also people around. Do you behave altruisticly or are you hiding your selfishness behind altruism? What I see often is that people do “good” things just because they want to look like doing good things over all being selfish, what do you guys think about this?

Dragallur

[1] It is of course not important for the gene. Genes are not thinking. If the gene would not be good at staying in population it would not be there.