Richard Dawkins
#16 Overall Influence

Richard Dawkins

English ethologist, evolutionary biologist and author


Why is this person notable and influential?

Richard Dawkins is an emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford and former University of Oxford’s Professor for Public Understanding of Science, but he is best known for his work in evolutionary biology. He studied zoology at Balliol College, Oxford, earning a bachelor’s degree, M.A., and Ph.D.

Dawkins is a pioneer in the role of genes in evolution. His most well-known book, The Selfish Gene, is an examination of how genetics drive evolutionary change. He also coined the term “meme” in this book, to describe the behavioral equivalent of a gene. A meme, he felt, reflected a cultural touchpoint that, once assumed in popular culture, continued to evolve and change as it passed from one person to another.

In 2006, he published The God Delusion, a book in which he challenges religiosity and its infiltration into government and politics. In his view, children should be taught comparative religion in school without bias, enabling them to draw their own conclusions about religion based on evidence and critical assessment. He is an opponent of the teaching of intelligent design in schools, which he considers a compromise to give oxygen to creationism.

An outspoken atheist, Dawkins has also criticized pseudoscience and alternative medicines. In 2012, a group of ichthyologists from Sri Lanka honored him with a new genus name, Dawkinsia, in recognition of his achievements in evolutionary biology.

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Other Resources


What schools is this person affiliated with?
University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Berkeley

Public research university in Berkeley, California, United States

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University of Oxford
University of Oxford

Collegiate research university in Oxford, England

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Notable Works

What contributions to academia has this person made?
  • Science in the Soul: Selected Writings of a Passionate Rationalist
  • The God Delusion
  • The Selfish Gene
  • The Blind Watchmaker
  • Climbing Mount Improbable
  • Viruses of the Mind
  • River Out of Eden
  • The Magic of Reality
  • Why We Believe in God(s): A Concise Guide to the Science of Faith
  • A Devil's Chaplain
  • Unweaving the Rainbow
  • Brief Candle in the Dark: My Life in Science
  • The Ancestor's Tale
  • The Extended Phenotype
  • The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution
  • An Appetite for Wonder: The Making of a Scientist

Influence Rankings by Discipline

How’s this person influential?
#3 World Rank
#167 World Rank
#177 World Rank
#900 World Rank