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Richard Dawkins autobiography "An Appetite for Wonder"

An Appetite for Wonder: The Making of a Scientist - Richard Dawkins An Appetite For Wonder: The Making of a Scientist - Richard Dawkins

A lighthearted book about his childhood, his upbringing and his reflection of himself as a boy.


There are a lot of good storytelling, regarding his grandfathers and his father and mothers. His early childhood in Africa.

His early year


A young Richard being stink by a scorpion, because he mistaken it for a lizard and thought it was a good idea to allow it to craw over his leg and stick his leg in its path. Also he was a young bee keeper, with a first docile colony that didn't stink at all, that got killed by neighbor's pesticide. The second colony was the opposite and stink anyone of anything that moved. 

The really interesting story came from his days in boarding school. How his teachers saw him. As a boy who was kind of messy when it came to writing in ink. A boy who was brainwashed by teacher into believing in religious bullshit, and other bullshit without critical or skeptical thinking.


Richard was critical of himself as a boy, who wasn't that empathetic when it came to a boy being bullied. The disturbing episode that he was molested by a pedophile teacher. He thought the other boys who weren't that damaged by the experience is from his own perspective, which I think raise some controversy.   


Year in Oxford


He got into the best college in Oxford. Good for him and he talked a lot about what he liked about the Oxford. He think he wasn't that much into lectures as he spent too much time taking notes that he wouldn't read later. The one time he didn't take note, he enjoyed it more. And his reason for not taking note on that day, is because he forgot his pen and would be too shy to ask the woman next to him to borrow a pen.


Also, it is the system of tutoring that he like best. The tutoring is not like the one we see here. It is not about exam, not even about lecture, but everything in the field is open up for learning and discovery. He mentioned one tutor that asked him to read PhD thesis and then wrote essay on the background, and talked about the merit or criticism of the research thesis plus direction for more research., That's the best way to learn, thinking about what is good and not good about current work  and what is the new areas of research. I must try it some time.

This is the story that make me like Oxford, way more than how it is behind Cambridge on the number of Nobel prize winners in the college. 

Another story is the post war interview for a young man, who confessed that he forgot all his Latin during the two years of service and wouldn't able to pass the Latin entry exam. 


"War counts for Latin. War counts". Giving a young man the chance in going to study in the best university in the world.


Half way through the book. More update coming. 

Years in Berkeley 


That's when he has his job as a young university lecturer with his first wife. A lot of things happened, mostly his work and his love for computer programming. He is a geek through and through and would write new computer language to do work, that has a wider application, but lack of use in real life.


Nothing much happened, except his own reflection on his person and on his obsession with research of animal behavior.


Back to Oxford


That's when he came back, again. To continue teaching. He wrote his own notes and do his own lectures. And has a lot research. 


The life changing result of his really good and popular book. He wanted to write a book that non science people would like to read. But without much marketing and launch, this became a best seller.


He is much more human and much more humble for a person with such good education, status and intelligent. Good for him.


He also used the money from the advanced payment for Selfish Gene to buy the painting that became the cover of Selfish Gene.


That's the end of this book. 



What I like about it


Richard Dawkins let you in his world, the way he see himself looking back as a young person. He said he wasted time as a teenagers. He got some talent in music, and because of that, he didn't learned enough about music, or how to read music to make him any good.


The thing is, children or even adults think it is good to have talent and do thing without working hard on it. The opposite is true. If you have talent, it is your duty to work hard on it and make something of it. Time is wasted when you are lazy or not motivated to work on your talents. 


And just being smart is not good enough, unless you are really exceptionally smart. For Richard Dawkins, he didn't think he is exceptionally smart. This is so nice for him to not letting things get into his head. He keep going at it, even when he was a young lecturer at Berkeley and Oxford. He still think he should have worked on things, and still have regret on projects that he started and never finished. 


I wanted to from a friend like him, not because of his success, but he always think he could be better. The way I dislike that people are either full of themselves, or don't think they should work on themselves. It is time wasting that they like. Sad but true.


I would give it 5 stars. Because the book give me a personal look of a real person, who like to tell you who he is, and how he see himself. he is so real. And I'm glad I read it.