[ Radio Announcer: “The following is a highly exaggerated, extremely overdramatized account of the experience you may have if you dare to read [begin echo chamber] ‘The Selfish Gene!’ [end echo chamber] by Richard Dawkins. This has been your announcer, speaking.” ]

Welcome to Planet “Selfish Gene!”

[ In the background: incidental music from “The Outer Limits.”
Narrator: Vic Perrin (The Control Voice) or possibly Orson Welles. ]

Let us suppose that you are an avid reader of books in the science fiction genre. You have just purchased an inexpensive paperback from your local book store with an intriguing title, “The Selfish Gene.” What could it possibly mean? You open the book; turn to page 1. You are innocent, suspecting nothing. Without even a hint of caution, you begin reading. What you discover is a wonderful story, bizarre and totally absorbing.

But then, over the course of a few days, slowly, inexorably, you begin to realize that the strange, unfamiliar world being described to you is not some imaginary realm on a distant planet. No, you begin to recognize that the storybook world is YOUR world and that, far from being a work of science fiction, the book is, in fact, totally real. With astonishment, it dawns upon you that the world you previously inhabited, the world you thought you knew so well, the world you formerly regarded as real has been reduced to mere fiction.

You are astounded by this silent, private realization, but you have little choice but to persist in the daily routines of your previous life. You drive through the city in your car, peering out of the same windows you looked out of just a few days ago, but it is a different city now, different than the one you had known before. You observe the people seated in their cars; the people walking up and down the streets. Yes, they are people—similar to those of only a few days ago—but today they are oblivious to the truth that they inhabit a different world than the obvious one surrounding them, a world they no longer understand in quite the same way you do. You consider telling them about your experience, but you cannot, for you know that you will not be believed. So you continue driving; continue going about your business in a world that will never be the same to you again.

Welcome to planet “Selfish Gene!”

[ Music interrupted by scream of horror. ]