The selfish gene

Scott Nature;that the idea of selfish genes was born ten years before the book was published. Today we can scan genomes by the hundreds and look for the signals of natural selection in DNA, regardless of what that DNA is actually doing.

This is the book in which Dawkins introduces the theory of memes — the seemingly self-replicating pool of art and science, literature and music, knowledge, folklore and platitude that survives with each human life — and indeed coins the word itself, and fires the opening salvoes in what will become his all-out intellectual artillery assault on aspects of religion.

The selfish gene audiobook

The important differences between genes emerge only in their effects. That barb was not just misguided, but wildly unfair. Doolittle and C. From there, he looks at DNA 's role in evolution , and its organisation into chromosomes and genes , which in his view behave selfishly. There is an adage that if you gave an infinite number of monkeys an infinite number of typewriters and an infinite amount of time, they would eventually produce the complete works of Shakespeare. Darwin, p. Matt Ridley. But he allows that you or I might prefer organisms—and it really doesn't matter. From the moment of its publication 40 years ago, it has been a sparkling best-seller and a scientific game-changer. They generally, for reasons that we shall come to, gang together into large communal survival machines or 'vehicles'. In later writings Dawkins goes even further and argues that phenotypic traits are what really matter in selection and that they can be treated independently of their being organized into vehicles The group is too wishy-washy an entity. Examples that spring to mind are artefacts like beaver dams, bird nests, and caddis houses.

Stephen Jay Gould took exception to calling the gene a 'unit of selection' because selection acted only upon phenotypes. His contention is that the genes that are passed on are the ones whose evolutionary consequences serve their own implicit interest to continue the anthropomorphism in being replicated, not necessarily those of the organism.

In that case, the strategy of having a female offspring is safe, as she'll have a pup, but the strategy of having a male can bring a large return dozens of pupseven though many males live out their lives as bachelors.

It also added a second preface by the author, but the original foreword by Trivers was dropped. He presents the topic and various questions and scientific controversies in a way that anybody with a willingness to pay attention can follow it.

Put like that, you can see why The Selfish Gene annoyed the hell out of assorted philosophers, biologists and bishops.

the selfish gene documentary

It certainly alters the likelihood of events, but a concatenation of contingencies decides what actually occurs. I try these days to, as much as possible, follow the evidence wherever it leads. Ayer 's Language, Truth, and Logic The complexity of the structure of the gene itself has since grown enormously, with the discovery of introns, control sequences, RNA genes, alternative splicing and more.

And what by far the larger part of the genome is doing for much of the time is still something of a mystery. Although Dawkins and biologists in general recognize these phenomena result in more copies of a gene, evidence is inconclusive whether this success is selected for at a group or individual level.

The selfish gene

I try these days to, as much as possible, follow the evidence wherever it leads. Wynne-Edwards , arguing instead that each parent necessarily behaves selfishly. In the 30th anniversary edition, Dawkins all but apologises for the choice, offering other potential labels for the front cover. I became an atheist after a LOT of reading and contemplating of the Bible the link to my "de-conversion" story is down in the comments as well. Stephen Jay Gould finds Dawkins' position tries to have it both ways: [32] "Dawkins claims to prefer genes and to find greater insight in this formulation. Matt Ridley. Altruism too can evolve, as in the social insects such as ants and bees, where workers give up the right to reproduce in favour of a sister, the queen; in their case, the unusual haplodiploid system of sex determination may have helped to bring this about, as females in a nest are exceptionally closely related. Another example is the existence of segregation distorter genes that are detrimental to their host, but nonetheless propagate themselves at its expense.
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The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins