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Richard Dawkins - His Research and Books

Richard Dawkins - His Research and Books

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Richard Dawkins - Biographical resource about the author / scientist and his research and ...

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Richard Dawkins "has established himself as a biological guru" with the publication of books detailing and expanding upon Darwinian theory, according to Times Literary Supplement contributor Stephen R. L. Clark. Wired Magazine says this "Revolutionary Evolutionist" is "the first true ethologist of the gene". Richard Dawkins "has been concerned to convince the literate public that they must now take evolutionary theory seriously as the context within which to think about ourselves and the world," writes Clark "and he strives to bring his theories to an audience of lay readers through comprehensible analogies and clear writing." Personal Born March 26, 1941, son of Clinton John (a farmer) and Jean Mary Vyvyan (Ladner) Dawkins; married author Marian Stamp, August 19, 1967 (divorced, 1984); married Eve Barham, June 1, 1984 (divorced); children-Juliet Emma; married actress Lalla Ward, 1992. Education Balliol College, Oxford, B.A., 1962, M.A., 1966, D.Phil., 1966. Career University of California, Berkeley, assistant professor of zoology, 1967-69; Oxford University, Oxford, England, lecturer in zoology and fellow of New College, 1970-90, reader in zoology, 199095; Evolutionary biologist and the Charles Simonyi Professor For The Understanding Of Science at Oxford University; Elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in May, 2001. Essays Bin Laden's Victory Videos

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Books In The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins "gently and expertly debunks some of the favorite illusions of social biology about altruism," writes Peter Medawar in the Spectator. The critic also remarks that the work is "a most skillful reformulation of the central problems of social biology in terms of the genetical theory of natural selection." "Building on a beautifully chosen set of analogies," describes Douglas R. Hofstadter in the Washington Post Book World, ". . . Richard Dawkins shows how, in the end, spectacularly complex organizations can have the properties we attribute to ourselves, all as a consequence of aimless chemical reactions. This is one of the coldest, most inhuman and disorienting views of human beings I have ever heard," continues Hofstadter, "and yet I love it! It is so deep an insight, to bridge the gap between the lifeless and the living, the chemical and the biological, the random and the teleological, the physical and the spiritual." New York Times critic Christopher Lehmann-Haupt finds Richard Dawkins's writing more than adequate to his task: "It is not the theory of The Selfish Gene that is so arresting as the marvelous lucidity with which Mr. Richard Dawkins applies it to various behavior mechanisms that have hitherto been misunderstood." Pfeiffer also admits that Richard Dawkins "demonstrates a rare and welcome ability to make formidably technical findings come alive." A New Yorker reviewer expresses a similar opinion: "What makes [The Selfish Gene] accessible is the brilliance and wit of Mr. Richard Dawkins' style. It is a splendid example of how difficult scientific ideas can be explained by someone who understands them and is willing to take the trouble." In 1989 Richard Dawkins produced a second edition of The Selfish Gene, which included extensive new endnotes as well as two new chapters. ¤ Of his second book, The Extended Phenotype: The Gene as the Unit of Selection, Richard Dawkins tells CA: "I suppose most authors have one piece of work of which they would say `It doesn't matter if you never read anything else of mine, please at least read this.' For me, it is The Extended Phenotype. In particular, the last four chapters constitute the best candidate for the title `innovative' that I have to offer. The rest of the book does some necessary sorting out on the way." ¤ Richard Dawkins once again investigates aspects of Darwinian theory in The Blind Watchmaker:

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Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design. Lee Dembart of the Los Angeles Times calls the work "a clear, logical, rational book that is the antidote to silliness. . . . [The book] cuts through the nonsense about the origin and development of life and leaves it for dead," continues Dembart. "He demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt that evolution is the only possible explanation for the world we see around us." In this work, Richard Dawkins refutes the argument that the complexity of life cannot be random, thus implying a designer or creator. The author uses Charles Darwin's idea of small mutational variation to "demonstrate that it (and it alone) is competent to explain the enormous diversity of living things in all their extremes of complexity and specialization," writes David Jones in the London Times. Like the author's previous work, Jones finds that The Blind Watchmaker "is brilliant exposition, tightly argued but kept readable by plentiful recourse to analogies and examples. What Richard Dawkins does successfully is very good: The Blind Watchmaker is as clear, as enthralling, as convincing an account of neo-Darwinian theory as I have read. . . . His opposition to dogmatic vivisectionists and his appreciation of the marvelous diversity and ingenuity of the world are very welcome." Dembart summarizes his own impression of the work: "The book is beautifully and superbly written. It is completely understandable, but it has the cadence of impassioned speech. Every page rings of truth," continues the critic. "It is one of the best science books--one of the best any books--I have ever read." Explaining the origin of this "passion" for truth, Richard Dawkins remarked that his "early interest in evolution was really as a sort of alternative to religion, and an explanation for the way things are," the author remarked to Sarah Duncan in the London Times. While "other biologists start out as bird watchers or bug hunters," said Richard Dawkins, "I started with a curiosity about why things exist." ¤ "Climbing Mount Improbable is another attempt to explain Darwinian evolution. It focuses on how natural selection generates complex organs, including one organ in particular, the eye. Charles Darwin admitted he was stumped to explain its evolution. However, what Darwin couldn't do, Mr. Richard Dawkins can. Chapter 5 explains, step by step, the evolution of organs of vision. It is a masterpiece. Like much of this book, this chapter was screened by colleagues who had the expertise to insure accuracy, and whose help Mr. Richard Dawkins properly acknowledges. A skilled writer and spellbinding storyteller, he summarizes current research to explain how structures like spider webs, organs of flight and sight, snail shells or the complex mutualism of fig trees and tiny wasps that act as pollinators could evolve." writes The New York Times. Audubon states "In his tightly argued book Richard Dawkins showed how, given vast amounts of time, living complexity arose out of primeval simplicity. Each successive change in the gradual evolutionary process was simple enough, relative to its predecessor, to have arisen by chance," he wrote. "But the whole sequence of cumulative steps constitutes anything but a chance process, when you consider the complexity of the final end-product relative to the original starting point. The cumulative process is directed by nonrandom survival. Nonrandom survival or, in the catch-phrase, survival of the fittest is at the heart of natural selection." ¤ "Richard Dawkins is above all a masterly expositor, a writer who understands the issues so clearly that he forces his readers to understand them too. River Out of Eden displays these virtues to the full, and it maintains his high standards of clarity and excitement. The "river" of the title is the river of DNA that flows from early life forms to their present-day descendants. This is a powerful metaphor, and Mr. Richard Dawkins puts it to a number of good uses." reviews Natural Selections. The Los Angeles Times states "Richard Dawkins' latest book, "River Out of Eden," is a beautifully crafted, superbly written exposition and explanation of this view. He presents the counter-arguments, and one by one, he dismantles them." New Scientist says "Richard Dawkins' success is well deserved; he writes with great fluidity and clarity about the big evolutionary issues and has not shirked the arguments of his adversaries. His forthright advocacy of the Darwinian view exposes the shallow thinking of its many critics. The simple logic of selection on self-replicating entities remains an

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immensely powerful explanation. Richard Dawkins takes this evolutionary message beyond its usual biological bounds. Darwinism has too often been portrayed as a grim and pessimistic creed. River Out of Eden shows there is little reason for this." ¤ "The first thing to be said about Richard Dawkins's Unweaving the Rainbow, which argues that scientific fact is both intellectually and esthetically more pleasing than pseudoscientific fantasy, is that he is to be congratulated for his courage in attempting it." - Science. The New York Times states that in Unweaving the Rainbow, Richard Dawkins "emerges as one of the most incisive science writers alive." The Skeptical Inquirer continues "Richard Dawkins is one of the treasured few scientists today writing in depth about science and scientific processes for intelligent general readers whose works are simultaneously scientifically rich and provocative, accessible (although there is never a sense of being watered down), and successful. He brings a discerning critical intelligence and an impassioned concern in the hope that we will find science worthy of our own awe. At the same time by learning about our own genetic and environmental heritage and the workings of our brains we can learn how to be aware of our own capacities for self-delusion." ¤ "The Devil's Chaplain is a collection of essays that span 25 years of writing on evolution, education, and science versus nonscience. The book is divided into seven sections containing a mixture of pieces of varying lengths covering several themes-- including Darwinism, morality, education, justice, history of science and, of course, religion." The New York Times writes "Dawkins is creative, articulate, and above all, emotional." Here, Richard Dawkins is at his best, peerless as an expositor of the wonders of science, with a defense of science and reason and a contempt for mysticism of any kind. This shines through in many, if not most, of the essays.". . . ¤ "In The Ancestors Tale, the renowned biologist and thinker Richard Dawkins presents his most expansive work yet: a comprehensive look at evolution, ranging from the latest developments in the field to his own provocative views. Loosely based on the form of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, Dawkins's Tale takes us modern humans back through four billion years of life on our planet. The Ancestor's Tale is at once a far-reaching survey of the latest, best thinking on biology and a fascinating history of life on Earth. Here Dawkins shows us how remarkable we are, how astonishing our history, and how intimate our relationship with the rest of the living world." ¤ "In The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins, the celebrated evolutionary biologist, Oxford Professor, and author (The Selfish Gene, The Blind Watchmaker, A Devil's Chaplain, The Ancestor's Tale), gives us a carefully-reasoned yet entertaining treatise on atheism that is equally eloquent and provocative. His basic argument is that the collective irrational belief in "The God Hypothesis" is not only wrong ("intellectual high treason"), but pernicious in its resulting intolerance, oppression, bigotry, arrogance, child abuse, homophobia, abortion-clinic bombings, cruelties to women, war, suicide bombers, and educational systems that teach ignorance when it comes to math and science. Sure to provoke his adversaries, Dawkins not only portrays the "psychotic" God of the Old Testament as "arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully" (p. 31), but also challenges, quite convincingly, every major argument for God's existence, and shows that the Founding Fathers considered religion to be a threat to democracy. Thomas Jefferson, for instance, claimed "Christianity is the most perverted system that

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ever shone on man" (p. 43). Benjamin Franklin said "Lighthouses are more useful than churches" (p. 43). A 1796 treaty signed by John Adams declares, "the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion" (p. 40). Adams also said, "this would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it" (p. 43). Even conservative icon, Barry Goldwater, threatened to fight fundamentalists "every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans" (p. 39)." web@richarddawkins.com
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