The Extended Phenotype

Richard Dawkins

Summary: The book was quite hard to follow since it is very academical and if you are not acquainted with biology and genetics I think it will be hard to follow for you too.

Score: 60 / 100

Goodreads review:


I expected much more examples of the extended phenotype since I think it is a great idea but this book is full of arguing against oponents, of making points againts other theories, comments on other researchers’ ideas and papers.

I enjoyed the Selfish Gene much much more. But despite the three stars I am looking forward to reading other Dawkins’ books.*

the same views expressed by so respected an author. (Monday, February 17, 2014, 08:15 AM, page 248)

Statistical methods are designed to help us assess, (Monday, February 17, 2014, 08:51 PM, page 348-49)

there is no general reason for expecting genetic influences to be any more irreversible than environmental ones. (Monday, February 17, 2014, 08:56 PM, page 382-83)

The point of the passage from Stebbing which Symons paraphrased is the reasonable one that X is a useless word unless there are some things that are not X. (Monday, February 17, 2014, 09:09 PM, page 429-30)

natural selection has no foresight. As Sydney Brenner has remarked, natural selection could not be expected to have favoured some useless mutation in the Cambrian simply because ‘it might come in handy in the Cretaceous’. (Sunday, February 23, 2014, 11:54 PM, page 933-34)

In Gore Vidal’s words: ‘It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail.’ (Monday, February 24, 2014, 10:36 AM, page 1079-80)

When the object an animal seeks to manipulate is non-living, (Thursday, February 27, 2014, 04:53 PM, page 1367-68)

there is massive pheromonal traffic flow from queen to workers, and it is easy to imagine powerful manipulation of worker behaviour by queens. (Friday, March 07, 2014, 08:11 AM, page 1780-81)

Meanings of words are important, but not important enough to justify the ill-feeling they sometimes provoke, (Monday, March 10, 2014, 12:45 PM, page 1949)

Progressive evolution may be not so much a steady upward climb as a series ofdiscrete steps from stable plateau to stable plateau (Wednesday, March 12, 2014, 07:29 PM, page 2294-95)

Perhaps we should take warning from this historical twist. Both arguments resort to the ‘hard to imagine’ style of reasoning that Darwin so wisely cautioned us against. (Wednesday, March 12, 2014, 07:32 PM, page 2310-11)

When explaining the workings of a motor car we forget atoms and van der Waal’s forces as units of explanation, and prefer to talk of cylinders and sparking plugs. This lesson applies notjust to the two levels of atoms and cylinder heads. (Thursday, March 13, 2014, 08:06 PM, page 2510-12)

Maynard Smith (i976a) notes, ‘It is in the nature of science that once a position becomes orthodox it should be subjected to criticism (Monday, March 17, 2014, 07:26 AM, page 2570-71)

‘evolutionarily stable strategy’ or ESS. The ESS has been rigorously defined (Maynard Smith 1974), but it can be crudely encapsulated as a strategy that is successful when competing with copies of itself. (Monday, March 17, 2014, 09:19 AM, page 2666-67)

‘It is as if we had to do with a (Friday, March 21, 2014, 09:43 AM, page 3044)

dogs presented with handkerchiels held under human armpits can distinguish the sweats of any two individual humans except identical twins (Kalmus 1955). (Wednesday, March 26, 2014, 06:18 PM, page 3215-16)

a large fraction of the DNA is never translated into protein. (Friday, March 28, 2014, 12:46 PM, page 3443)

stated by Crick: genetic information may be translated from nucleic acid to protein, but not the other way. (Wednesday, April 02, 2014, 05:02 PM, page 3829-30)

the central dogma of embryology. This is the dogma that the macroscopic form and behaviour of an organism may be, in some sense, coded in the genes, but the code is irreversible. (Wednesday, April 02, 2014, 05:05 PM, page 3837-38)

of post-revolutionary normal science (Kuhn 1970), I0 An Agony in Five Fits (Wednesday, April 02, 2014, 05:19 PM, page 3924)

God and natural selection are, after all, the only two workable theories we have of why we exist. (Thursday, April 03, 2014, 10:41 AM, page 3964)

The central biological problem is not survival as such, but design for survival’ (Monday, April 07, 2014, 06:47 PM, page 4023-24)

If we lO0k far enough into the future, either I shall have no descendants at all, or all persons alive will be my descendants (Fisher 1930a). (Monday, April 07, 2014, 06:53 PM, page 4044-45)

individual-level thinking. (Monday, April 07, 2014, 10:05 PM, page 4191)

von Frisch code to indicate the direction (Wednesday, April 09, 2014, 04:53 PM, page 4490-91)

Swallows return, each year, to exactly the same nest. (Monday, April 14, 2014, 08:41 AM, page 5098-99)

Reread as blinkist on 2020-01-10.

It has a different vibe to it, it was more about the selfish gene explanations, but it might be caused by the well-written summary / blinks.

published: 2014-04-14
last modified: 2023-01-21