Well, there you have it. I got through Dawkins’ The selfish gene, and I must say, I’m not impressed. Perhaps that is to be expected of a 3rd year biology student? I didn’t really learn much *new* about the theory of Darwinian evolution. I did get some nice exerps, followed below:
I recently learned a disagreeable fact: there are influential scientists
in the habit of putting their names to publications in whose composition they have played no part. Apparently some senior scientists claim joint authorship of a paper when all that they have contributed is bench space, grant money and an editorial read-through of the manuscript. For all I know, entire scientific reputations
may have been built on the work of students and colleagues! I don’t know what can be done to combat this dishonesty. Perhaps journal editors should require signed testimony of what each author contributed.
This probably happens more often than we might think! I’m against such “joint authorship” being practiced, even if the person provides grant money and doesn’t do any “actual” work. In the long run, this really isn’t healthy for science. One person is occupied with applying for grants, and everyone else just sits around, waiting for the cash to flow in.
My understanding is that at our Uni, scientists are paid monthly, while scientists around the world are paid out of grants - and when those stop flowin’, they better get typin’.
Observe the elegance of the next sentence from page 1:
Today the theory of evolution is about as much open to doubt as the theory that the earth goes round the sun, but the full implications of Darwin’s revolution have yet to be widely realized.
From page 4:
It often turns out on closer inspection that acts of apparent altruism are really selfishness in disguise.
Indeed, deep down, most of us are kind of like that. Of course, we also think “what goes around, comes around”, may that be bad, or _good_. It makes sense to be “good”, as Dawkins shows in one of his chapters.
… and it gets pretty dull after page 4.
Would I recommend the book? Only if you haven’t really done any brain time about evolution. If you have, you’ll learn very very little and really isn’t worth the time.