Book Review: “An Appetite for Wonder: The Making of a Scientist” by Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins is a well known author and atheist. I first read his “God Delusion” book back in spring, 2007. See my review here. I was since impressed by his passion for evolution and debunking of creationism. In his young tender age of 71 now, Richard Dawkins decided to write a memoir about himself and described how he became who he is. There aren’t that many great scientists would venture to write a memoir for himself but Richard Dawkins are no ordinary scientist, his arguments for evolution are all very compelling. I am sure he has pushed many people on the fence over to the side of evolution, myself included.

In this book, he went through his childhood and upbringing and growing up in Africa and various countries around the world. This might have made him a rebel and yet very adaptable to strange places include the one full of right-wing extremists. His move to Berkeley, California, in the 1960’s might have reinforced his rebellion mentality. His eventual tenure at Oxford legitimized his place in science and specifically atheism.

A few takeaways from the book:

Dawkins, as a zoologist, designed lots experiments to understand the animal behavior to determine the natural and nurtured behaviors like chicken’s response to light shone from the top vs from the floor.

A penchant for computer programming: Dawkins was so adept in computer programming, way ahead of his time, such that he designed several programming languages to suit his needs.

We stand on the shoulders of many giants so we can look farther. Dawkins attributes his success to Charles Darwin and a few college advisers and professors.

I need to read the Selfish Gene book. He described many of the details how he arrived at the Selfish Gene book he wrote more than 30 years ago. In essence, the gene or a well evolved gene would propagate in the selfish manner to extend its immortality. Otherwise, they would go extinct. We humans are here because of our human selfish gene.

As a true evolutionist, Dawkins questioned whether he could become who he became without having to lived and evolved through his life environment. I cannot help think that at this moment the world is still evolving and my actions and thoughts may have an impact to the process. And in many ways out of infinite possible ways we all do.

There are so many videos I recommend about Dr. Richard Dawkins’ view:
Militant Atheism.
Why the universe seems so strange
Best of Richard Dawkins Arguments

This book gives me a glimpse of the making of a great scientist. It takes courage, tenacity, and constant questions about the status quo and an appetite for wonder.