Richard Dawkins delights in his own invective

The late Derek Ratcliffe, arguably Britain’s greatest naturalist since Charles Darwin, once explained how he cultivated a technique for finding golden plovers’ nests. As he walked across the featureless moor, ‘the gaze’, he wrote, had to be ‘concentrated as far ahead as possible, not in one place, but scanning continuously over a wide arc from one side to the other and back’. Should you look down at your feet, or allow yourself to be distracted for a second, chances were that this elusive wader would slip off its eggs and you would never work out whenceit came. Reading Richard Dawkins strikes me as requiring a similar kind of disciplined attention.