Sunday, September 2, 2007

Richard Dawkins: The Enemies of Reason, Etc.

"Science is the poetry of reality" -- Richard Dawkins, The Enemies of Reason Part I, 41:25

"Science replaced private prejudice with publicly verifiable evidence" -- Richard Dawkins, The Enemies of Reason Part II, 14:46

Richard Dawkins is awesome. He is really confronting the insanity of unreason and superstition in our world as hard as he can right now. He's taking the battle to the foreground, visiting psychics, visiting astrologers, and submitting claims to empiricism.

Here is Richard Dawkins confronting irrationality and delusion in video form, following on from his book The God Delusion.

You can read more on WikiPedia:

And on his web site:,1556,Enemies-of-Reason,Google-Links

Here is an excerpt from WikiPedia

Is it rational that the dead can communicate with the living and give sound advice on how they should live their lives? What about sticking pins into your body to free the flow of Chi energy and cure your illness? Or the bending of spoons using your mind alone? Is that rational? Richard Dawkins doesn’t think so, and feels it is his duty to expose those areas of belief that exist without scientific proof, yet manage to hold the nation under their spell. He will take on the world’s leading proponents in their field of expertise, meet the victims who have used them and expose the history of the movements – from the charlatans who have milked these practices to the experiments and testing that have failed to produce conclusive results.

Part I

This reminds me very much of Carl Sagan's Cosmos in which he explains how ridiculous astrology is. One of the most interesting parts for me is at minute 36, when he discusses B.F. Skinner's experiments with Pigeons and shows how they developed superstitious beliefs when he rewarded them randomly with food. The pigeons would do things like looking over their shoulder to try to "invoke" the random food dispersal mechanism.


  • Post-modernism and relativism have lead to the closing of physics departments.
  • Post-modernism has lead to valuing private feeling over verifiable evidence.
  • The internet is both a help and a hindrance to truth.

Part II

This part discusses the history of medical advances thanks to science and reason, but today there is far more retreat into irrational belief and superstitious theories.


  • Tried and tested scientific medicine is under attack from superstition
  • Shows how a formerly traditionally trained general practitioner is now talking about "Chakras" might be "black holes" inside the body. (This is completely insane)
  • Shows how quantum theory is increasingly used by people like Deepak Chopra are capitalizing on the ignorance of people.
    • Famous physicist Richard Feynman: "If you think you understand quantum theory, you don't understand quantum theory."
  • In his face-to-face interview with Chopra, he confronts him on the use of scientific language.
  • Homeopathy:
    • The irrational claim that diluting a medicine makes it stronger!
    • They just use water that has a "memory" of active ingredients that are not actually president any more.
      • This is more than insane.
    • People can call themselves homeopaths without any credentials

Richard Dawkins at TED Talks

Richard Dawkins is Oxford University's "Professor for the Public Understanding of Science." Author of the landmark 1976 book, The Selfish ... all » Gene, he's a brilliant (and trenchant) evangelist for Darwin's ideas. In this talk, titled, "Queerer Than We Suppose: The strangeness of science," he suggests that the true nature of the universe eludes us, because the human mind evolved only to understand the "middle-sized" world we can observe. (Recorded July 2005 in Oxford, UK. Duration: 22:42) - More TEDTalks at

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