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The selfish gene by Richard Dawkins

The selfish gene (original 1976; edition 1989)

by Richard Dawkins

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7,31173483 (4.3)1 / 129
Title:The selfish gene
Authors:Richard Dawkins
Info:Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.
Collections:Your library

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The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins (1976)


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English (68)  French (1)  Italian (1)  Hebrew (1)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (73)
Showing 1-5 of 68 (next | show all)
The science was very interesting, and I particularly enjoyed Dawkin's treatment of the mathematics of evolution. I also liked his theory on why men typically chase after women, whereas women press for the sanctity of marriage, and not the other way around. It did at times get a bit repetitive, and also seemed to be settling some scores with other biologists, which is really of little interest to the average reader. But I found it a worthwhile addition to my knowledge on the subject. ( )
  JacobMayer75 | Jul 16, 2015 |
A little over my head, and a little out-of-date. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Apr 14, 2015 |
What does natural selection act on? Dawkins makes a case for the unit of replication: the gene. Or less succinctly, the sequence of DNA that remains together when chromosomes cross and divide. This is in contrast to E. O. Wilson (I was interested to see that they’ve been arguing about this for 30+ years), who proposes selection at multiple levels: individual – kin - group. The gist is that “life evolves by the differential survival of replicating entities”. Genes replicate; organisms do not. Genes cooperate in cells to keep chemical pathways together. Cells cooperate in organisms to allow specialization. It is not that genes intend anything; genes are the perpetual entities that improve the “survival machine” (organism) by influencing its features and behaviors, all other things held equal. An analogy is choosing crew members for a boat: If a boat is propelled by multiple rowers, then a single best rower can’t be determined; but if boats propelled by rowers in a variety of combinations compete in a series of races, then individuals can be correlated with winning.

Dawkins advocates a game theory model of assessing populations. Instead of assuming that a balance of characteristics is optimal for the population as a whole, investigate actions of individuals with costs and benefits to understand why the population has settled into a particular “evolutionary stable strategy”. A simple example is the ratio of male : female. This model is not a Dawkins original; he refers frequently to the work of John Maynard Smith and Robert Trivers. Which is not at all to discount the contribution of Dawkins; he makes an engaging and persuasive presentation, perhaps not flawless, but extremely useful as a general perspective. (Dawkins elaborates in The Extended Phenotype.) This book is a classic for a reason.
  qebo | Dec 27, 2014 |
I'd heard a lot about this book and finally got around to checking it out.
Dawkins postulates that the driving force behind biological evolution isn't so much survival of the species as it is survival of the gene. He clearly presents background information on exactly what constitutes a gene (it's not as clearcut as I thought it was) and a lot of evidence supporting his contentions.
But at a certain point, the book just got too tedious to retain my interest. It was during his discussion of various permutations of possible genetic bases of what might be characterized as altruistic behavior by organisms.
Still, I'm glad I ventured into the book. I got a lot out of it. ( )
  dickmanikowski | Aug 14, 2014 |
I have read a few great books from Richard Dawkins and this one is equally amazing. The arguments the author talks about are very thought provoking. Recommended to any one interested in Evolution and its relatives. ( )
  nmarun | Mar 11, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dawkins, Richardprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ferreira, Karin de SousaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Intelligent life on a planet comes of age when it first works out the reason for its own existence.
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(Dutch) Nederlandse uitg. oorspr. verschenen o.d.t.: Het zelfzuchtige erfdeel
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0199291152, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:19 -0400)

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"The Selfish Gene is remarkable in several ways. First published in 1976, aimed at a general audience and written by a then little-known young lecturer in zoology at Oxford University, The Selfish Gene rapidly became highly influential. The important biological work of such figures as W. D. Hamilton and Robert Trivers was introduced to a wider public for the first time. But that was not all. Drawing together the threads of contemporary research in Neo-Darwinism into a powerful vision of the living world viewed through the eyes of genes as the units of selection, it was a significant contribution to biological thought. The full explanatory power of the gene's eye view was presented, in fine non-technical prose, for the first time in one short volume, bringing novel insights to those working in the field and inspiring whole new areas of research. Yet even that is not all. It has been widely acclaimed too for its literary qualities. Here is a book that set a new standard in science writing for the wider public, a modern masterpiece that fresh generations of aspiring young scientists would seek to emulate."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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