Welcome to my Substack and Podcast
Dawkins writes, "Science is the zenith of human achievement, the jewel in humanity’s crown."
We might be careful to make a distinction between the scientific method and our relationship with science. The method is rational, the relationship is not.
The scientific method works very well in accomplishing it's intended purpose, the development of new knowledge. This does not automatically make it "the jewel in humanity’s crown". That would depend on the degree to which humanity can successfully manage the obtained knowledge. If we can not successfully manage the obtained knowledge, the jewel in humanity's crown can quickly become the noose around humanity's neck.
EVIDENCE: Thousands of massive hydrogen bombs aimed down our own throats, an ever present existential threat that we typically find too boring to bother discussing, even in presidential campaigns when we are selecting a single human being to have sole authority over the use of these weapons.
This is the species to which science is giving ever more, ever larger powers, at an ever faster pace. If this species was a single individual bored by the gun in their mouth, we would declare them insane.
Does the scientific method work? Yes, proven beyond doubt.
Is our "more is better" relationship with science rational? No, it is not. It's not rational to seek to provide a limited species with unlimited power. It's not rational to try to turn the scientific method in to yet another "one true way" religion.
You will be an interesting addition to the SubStack universe. Thanks for joining.
Thank you Richard. Wonderfully provocative thoughts as always.
One I'd like to have seen, however, would have gone like this...
"Humans can learn to swim before they walk. We're born fatter than other primates consequently we float better too. The hairiest part of the body, the scalp, tends to be above the surface whilst swimming. Fine voluntary breath control there perfectly preadapts for speech. Whilst we can swim the channel the Congo’s been an ape barrier for millions of years.
And yet three generations of students have been taught to ignore or even sneer at the idea of a more aquatic past in human evolution. Discuss."
My first publish on my own Substack was “Science as Poetry” which made seeing Dr. Dawkins publishing here a serendipitous moment! I read The Selfish Gene in college which is the only work I have studied of his, as the nature of my knowledge pursuit usually pulls me towards the dead people who’s reputation I has been established. I like the philosophy of Discussion here, presented quite subtlety, which I found to be at odds with the assumptions of Truth he brought forward for us to discuss. Truth, I think, lies somewhere between the subjective and objective — it is the ideas that emerge when human minds *discuss* which I think is the subtle point he is making. When we drop our notion that what we believe is “right” and somebody else is “wrong,“ then we have truly begun our honest pursuit of knowledge. The real world around is shared, we are one, but our individuality is an undeniable aspect of this world. When we share our ideas, we share our experience, and we build knowledge in the same way we build our civilizations: together. I hope that the community he fosters here becomes one of discussion, as he intends, because as a young man of 24 I crave community where ideas are shared without hostility, where we can manifest that last few ounces of love our modern word has left us in order to learn from what others have to say.
There is no “the truth”, only the search for truth. You are part of that search, but not “the answer “.
All really worthy and great questions that could keep an open minded group going for hours.
This one has a striking parallel to the talk by the Buddha to the Kalamas.
“Truth is not obtained by tradition, authority, holy books, faith or revelation. Truth is obtained by evidence and only evidence.”
This reminds me of a hard won truth for me, that things of the mind, which Buddhism is about and Christianity is supposed to be about, do not always necessitate belief and the removal of rational thought.
Welcome to Substack Dr. Dawkins, glad to have you here.
Dawkins states, "There is a real world out there, and the only way to learn about it is objective evidence gathered by the scientific method."
If the claim was that the only way to learn about the world was by reading the Bible, you might ask us to prove it. So let's apply the same standard to your claim. If you can't prove your claim, it would seem to be one interesting theory among others.
The history of science reveals that the real world has a rather consistent habit of turning out to be far stranger than we could have previously imagined. Thus any sweeping statement such as "the only way" should be viewed with considerable skepticism.
"Man's Presumptuous Brain" is the foundation for, yet simultaneously bends all truths. Scientific rigor attempts to prevent and correct that dilemma.
This explains Darwin's findings being delayed.
We can absorb scientific advancements, but shy away from advancements that force us out of our cultural comfort zones.
I look forward to following your discussions about women and hoping my daughters, granddaughters and the men who love us will join the discussion too. I think we’ll start with “what is a woman” and maybe we’ll learn more about “what is a man” and our human relationships.
Dawkins states, "We humans are the only animals capable of knowing why we exist, where we exist..."
Apologies, but we don't know either the why or the where. We have theories about such things. We don't even know we are the only species with such knowledge. We are currently unaware of any other species with such knowledge. Not too long ago we were unaware of microbes.
Do we know for sure animals can't think? Sometimes you see them stand and stare as if they are trying to come to a decision. We probably will never be able to know for sure.
You need to learn causal inference
Nah, Zen (or any valid mystic branch) is. Studying science is like studying a dream: fun, but 🤷♂️.
The ultimate reality is an eternal, incomparable, impersonal One Mind of infinite possibilities dreaming this.
There’s your poem.
"What is a woman?"
If the definition is "adult human female" then why trans women feel the need to be called women even though they are male?
If what they mean is that they are more feminine than most men and that their feelings and behavior is closer to most women then does that mean that they need to change their "identity",name or even undergo surgical procedures because of that?
Is the best solution to gender dysphoria the transtition?Isn't that putting on a mask just to be accepted?Isn't it better people understand that not all men are the same and not all women are the same and that noone has to "change" their sex in order to be understood?
We are being told that gender differences don't exist and at the same time that genders are so different that you need to undergo surgery.Is it only me or can someone else see the hypocrisy here?
Why we exist? There is no reason why we exist -- we just do. The Universe offers us no reason as to Why?
The scientific method is indeed the best method we have but unfortunately, being operated by humans, it is full of corruption. Unfortunately, (i) well funded interests (think pharmaceutical companies, cigarette manufacturers, cosmetics suppliers etc) are able to buy scientific results through publishing the only 1 of the many studies that happened to show favorable results for their product, (ii) entire disciplines (think economics) can produce baseless results for decades without any empirical grounding, (iii) research can be falsified by pressured academics (think psychology) when little replication is undertaken, (iv) poor research methodology and statistical knowledge amongst researchers and their reviewers can lead to non-detection of erroneous interpretation of results for decades. Science, admittedly better than just introspection or imagination, needs a systemic overhaul to re-establish its trustworthiness.