‘The selfish gene’ 40th anniversary talk with Richard Dawkins and Lord John Krebs hosted by Oxford Academic (7/10/16)  – Secular View reviews 

I wasn’t going to watch this talk when I first saw it advertised but I decided to watch it on Facebook, on a whim none the less, because I love the book and had nothing very exciting planned for the afternoon otherwise – but I’m so glad I did. 

The talk was to celebrate the anniversary of ‘The selfish gene’ a wonderful book on evolutionary biology (and altruism, though the title may suggest otherwise) which is well worth reading as it’s written in a really nice way, not one that is too complex but also not one that is patronising in trying to be too simple. It was the first book on evolutionary biology I read, the first of many I might add, but will always be a favourite of mine. The talk also discussed ‘Climbing mount improbable’ and ‘The blind watchmaker’ which are also coming up to big anniversaries this year and ‘Unweaving the rainbow’ which is my all time favourite science book (apart from ‘The magic of reality’ which is the most gorgeous kids science book ever) 

(My list of favourite science books seems rather monopolised if you’re only aware of these favourite books of mine, I will get around to talking about some other science books by other authors on here when I review some more books)

Dr. Dawkins really excelled in this talk, it was funny, very clever and really informative and what I liked most about it was that it was calm, it was relaxed even when religion came up as a topic and it was really a learning experience. Conversation topics included snail shells, figs, coding, art and science education and was filled with fascinating rambles into genetic science and evolution but also rambles into the writing of the book and other books by Dr. Dawkins and his influences and background in science and dare it be said philosophy. 

There was a rather hilarious question about wether Dr. Dawkins is in fact a philosopher (a question to which  I will aggressively if need must argue otherwise) from which Dr. Dawkins dug himself out of the hole he had been pushed into rather expertly in not really answering the question – and I can’t blame him for not doing so. 

I’ve always been vaguely impressed by his coding skills having read climbing mount improbable and the blind watchmaker but I’ve actually managed to be even more impressed by his discussion about the coding – and his admission that he coded his own word processing system which is certainly a great under appreciated skill of his and I do so hope it’s on his CV as that’s impressive stuff. 

For those who are actually after his discussion of faith and science you won’t be dissapointed, topics such as creationism, the census, science teaching in schools and spiritualism as “a very unfortunate thing” were all included in the proceedings and while very interesting I do wish he had spent less time talking about those things and more about snail shell evolution – though I did watch the talk for the science and not the faith. 

A fascinating and brilliant science focused talk featuring limericks, odd socks, brilliant anecdotes and the best tie I have ever seen this was a brilliant talk and well worth watching if it is posted as a video later – not one to miss.


Cover photo credit goes to Oxford landmark science and the Oxford university academic publishing team


2 thoughts on “‘The selfish gene’ 40th anniversary talk with Richard Dawkins and Lord John Krebs hosted by Oxford Academic (7/10/16)  – Secular View reviews 

    • secularviewblog says:

      I wasn’t there unfortunately, though I would have loved to have been it seemed incredible, I watched it via the Facebook stream.

      The philosopher question is quite funny to me personally as I study philosophy and do a lot of reading in the area and whenever you discuss Dr. Dawkins with philosophers and students of philosophy someone always brings up the “oh he thinks he’s a philosopher but he totally isn’t” line of conversation so whenever anyone talks about him and philosophy it reminds me of all of those brilliant conversations I’ve had about the topic.


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