Wednesday, 14 March 2012

'River Out of Eden', by Richard Dawkins, 1995

I recently finished Dr Dawkins's best book (by repute), River Out of Eden, and very much enjoyed it. It's easy to see why Dr D has acquired his status as a communicator of science: it's extremely lucid and accessible and in places rather beautiful even though it contains those notoriously savage statements about 'blind pitiless indifference' and humans 'dancing to the music' of DNA. I only had trouble with the discussion on the reproductive efficiency of seals which became a bit clotted, and am indeed grateful for the explanation of analogue versus digital forms of information-exchange which I'd never properly understood before: even though that raises the question, as it isn't anywhere near the field of evolutionary biology, of how reliable the Dr is in areas which aren't his specialism (I wouldn't know). There is only one bit which makes one cringe: Dr Dawkins mocks the stupidity of an anonymous female student who has, he can't resist pointing out, a 'slow rural accent'. That's really rather disagreeable.

1 comment:

  1. I sometimes feel that Dr D, much as I value this book, behaves a little as I must have done at school when the report came home: "He does rather let himself down sometimes..." And brilliant though he is, in other contexts he perhaps lacks the open-mindedness you show here, Rev!