The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design (Reissued in 2006 and 1996)
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"The best general account of evolution I have read in recent years."―E. O. Wilson. With a new introduction.
Twenty years after its original publication, The Blind Watchmaker, framed with a new introduction by the author, is as prescient and timely a book as ever. The watchmaker belongs to the eighteenth-century theologian William Paley, who argued that just as a watch is too complicated and functional to have sprung into existence by accident, so too must all living things, with their far greater complexity, be purposefully designed. Charles Darwin’s brilliant discovery challenged the creationist arguments; but only Richard Dawkins could have written this elegant riposte. Natural selection―the unconscious, automatic, blind, yet essentially nonrandom process Darwin discovered―has no purpose in mind. If it can be said to play the role of a watchmaker in nature, it is the blind watchmaker in nature.
the adult. The same goes for antennapaedia in fruitflies and the many other so-called 'homeotic mutations'. This concludes my digression on macromutation and saltatory evolution. It was necessary, because the theory of punctuated equilibria is frequently confused with saltatory evolution. But it was a digression, because the theory of punctuated equilibria is the main topic of this chapter, and that theory in truth has no connection with macromutation and true saltation. The 'gaps' that
conversation between a real-life Darwinian and an extreme caricature of a Darwinian. Real-life. I wonder why bats didn't evolve wings like angels. You'd think that they could use a free pair of arms. Mice use their arms all the time for picking up food and nibbling it, and bats look terribly clumsy on the ground without arms. I suppose one answer might be that mutation never provided the necessary variation. There just never were any mutant ancestral bats that had wing buds sticking out of
probable turn out to be wrong by many orders of magnitude. Our •well-tuned apparatus of scepticism and subjective probability-theory misfires by huge margins, because it is tuned - ironically, by evolution XVI Preface itself - to work within a lifetime of a few decades. It requires effort of the imagination to escape from the prison of familiar timescale, an effort that I shall try to assist. A third respect in which our brains seem predisposed to resist Darwinism stems from our great
Blind humans frequently leam to make use of these echoes. A rudimentary version of such a skill in ancestral mammals would have provided ample raw material for natural selection to build upon, leading up by gradual degrees to the high perfection of bats. Five per cent vision is better than no vision at all. Five per cent hearing is better than no hearing at all. Five per cent flight efficiency is better than no flight at all. It is thoroughly believable that every organ or apparatus that we
strings of DNA text that are identical. When the information in a computer memory has been read from a particular location, one of two things may happen to it. It can either simply be written somewhere else, or it can become involved in some 'action'. Being written somewhere else means being copied. We have already seen that DNA is readily copied from one cell to a new cell, and that chunks of DNA may be copied from one individual to another individual, namely its child. 'Action' is more