Tag: 1989

Richard Dawkins – The Blind Watchmaker | Review

Title: The Blind Watchmaker

Author: Richard Dawkins

Type: Non-Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 350

Rating: 3.5/5

 

Richard Dawkins - The Blind Watchmaker

Richard Dawkins – The Blind Watchmaker

 

This book has been on my TBR pile for a while, but I finally picked it up as my bedside book and quickly got hooked. Even though it’s a non-fiction science book about evolution, and even though it gets kind of dry times, it was a delight.

Of course, it felt a little outdated at times because Dawkins talked about some computer software he’d created which used a 1989 Apple Macintosh, but it was only the technology that was old. The concepts themselves still hold up today, and while it’s hard for me to pinpoint any specific part of the book that stood out to me, I do feel as though my understanding of evolution as a whole has been dramatically improved.

That’s because Dawkins basically takes all of the arguments against evolution and systematically debunks them, in the same way that he railed against religion in The God Delusion. The Blind Watchmaker is used as an analogy for the way that evolution can build complex physical mechanisms without requiring a designer. So in evolutionary terms, if a watch was a living animal then it could evolve piece by piece over time without requiring a watchmaker (such as an omnipotent god) to design it.

 

Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins

 

For example, some people will point to eyes and say that you can’t have half an eye and therefore they must have been designed. Dawkins points out that that’s not how eyes developed. It’s easy to see how just having the ability to tell the difference between light and darkness, for example, could make a big difference to an animal’s survival rates. And if the animal is more likely to survive then it’s more likely to pass its genes on.

It’s all fascinating stuff, but it’s not necessarily easy reading. It’s the kind of book that forces you to think, but I like books like that and I’m looking forward to continuing to read through Dawkins’ back catalogue. I always learn something new from his books.

 

Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion

Richard Dawkins – The God Delusion

 

Click here to buy The Blind Watchmaker.

 


Andrew Johnson – Factory Farming | Review

Title: Factory Farming

Author: Andrew Johnson

Type: Non-Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 274

Rating: 3*/5

 

Andrew Johnson - Factory Farming

Andrew Johnson – Factory Farming

 

The first thing to mention is that I read this book as part of the research for a new novel that I’m writing called Meat. Meat is set on a factory farm, and so I picked up this book as one of the half-dozen or so most well-reviewed non-fiction books I could find about factory farming and its effects.

There were two main problems with this book. The first was that it was perhaps overly technical, which caused by eyes to glaze over from time to time and which stopped me from absorbing as much of the information as I potentially could have. The author has a very dry writing style which conveys a lot of facts but which doesn’t really bring them to life. The other problem was that by now, it’s quite a few years out of date. I haven’t checked the publication year, but from the legislation that it covers I’d guess it was written in 1989 or so, around the time I was born.

Still, I did learn some fascinating stuff, predominantly around the different tests that have been carried out on the capacity of animals to feel pain. There was one test that found that cows would rather brave the cold at -20C to sleep on straw rather than sleeping in the warm on a metal grid, and another that found that chickens get so bored that given the choice between completing a task (such as pecking a target) for food and simply being given it, they’d rather work for it.

 

Factory Farm

Factory Farm

 

Click here to buy Factory Farming.

 


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