The Blind Watchmaker

In the preface to The Blind Watchmaker, Dawkins states that he wrote the book to persuade the reader, not just that the Darwinian world-view happens to be true, but that it is the only known theory that could, in principle, solve the mystery of our existence.

In the preface to The Blind Watchmaker, Dawkins states that he wrote the book to persuade the reader, not just that the Darwinian world-view happens to be true, but that it is the only known theory that could, in principle, solve the mystery of our existence.

Are you, like me, tired of the modern ‘Discovery Channel’ style of documentary film making? The latest documentary from Richard Dawkins, ‘The Genius of Charles Darwin’, is currently showing on Channel 4 television, here in the UK and whilst it doesn’t entirely fall into the category synonymous with the “Imagine if Dinosaurs could talk” and “When Sharks Eat Aeroplanes” pap the likes of National Geographic have been known to churn out, I thought a timely reminder of where Dawkins began and how documentary film making should be done would go down well, by showing you one of his first programs from back in the 80s, for the BBC Horizon series, based around his book ‘The Blind Watchmaker’.

As well as being a great primer for anyone unfamiliar with Richard’s earlier work, it reminds us that not so long ago, TV documentary programs were made on the assumption the viewer was intelligent enough to follow complex scientific concepts without the need for impressive looking, but ultimately distracting computer graphics and a script padded to stretch between three commercial breaks what could easily be said in 5 minutes, narrated by an awesome voiced actor emoting upon words like “colossal devastation” and “biggest in the world”, all set to a John Williams style major pentatonic chord progression, using ‘String Pad 2’ and ‘Timpani Boom 4’ on a Korg Wavestation.

In this 48 minute made for TV version of the book some people say is Dawkins best writing, he explains the central tenet of his book ‘The Selfish Gene’, in which he builds upon the fact of Darwinian evolution through natural selection by giving us an early glimpse at how mathematical computer modelling of simple organisms, gives us a greater understanding of what natural selection exactly is and how it works.

Watch in full screen

2 comments on “The Blind Watchmaker

  1. Watched it, loved it. I especially the love the diagram at the end with the Dna wrapping upon itself until it was a thick strand, wrapping upon itself until it was a chromosome, zooming outwards towards “middle earth” what our eyes see.

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