The Enemies of Reason - Richard Dawkins

In his last Channel 4 series, Root of All Evil?, the evolutionary biologist Professor Richard Dawkins explored how organised faith and primitive religious values blight our lives. But the fault line runs deeper even than religion. There are two ways of looking at the world – through faith and superstition or through the rigours of logic, observation and evidence – in other words, through reason. Reason and a respect for evidence are precious commodities, the source of human progress and our safeguard against fundamentalists and those who profit from obscuring the truth. Yet, today, society appears to be retreating from reason. Apparently harmless but utterly irrational belief systems from astrology to New Age mysticism, clairvoyance to alternative health remedies are booming.

Richard Dawkins - The Enemies of Reason (part 1)
Richard Dawkins confronts what he sees as an epidemic of irrational, superstitious thinking. He explains the dangers the pick and mix of knowledge and nonsense poses in the internet age, and passionately re-states the case for reason and science.

Richard Dawkins - Enemies Of Reason - (Part 2)
The Irrational Health Service. Prof Richard Dawkins looks at how health has become a battleground between reason and superstition. A third of us now spend a total of over 1.6 billion a year on superstitious alternative remedies, but 80% of them have never been subjected to properly conducted trials.


By artmosphere
on 12/21/2007

aHH, rICHARD Dawkins….your skepticism with alternative healing actually supports the awful government making drugs for band aid remedies in which they actually created the disease in the first place. Alternative medicine derived from ancient wisdom is the only way to heal oneself. There is no such thing as a chemical imbalance due to genetics. We get our disease strictly from the modern environment. Nurture is the key. These “superstitious” practices are the very key to personal healing and peace. 
Sorry skeptic. Science is evolving to the invisible forces which at the moment cannot be proven.

By Scott Stevenson
on 12/24/2007

Atomosphere, could you please list the contributions alternative medicine has made to eradicating polio, or malaria, and what good has ever been accomplished from taking pictures of your aura?

Atmosphere, I don’t think Dawkins suggests we should not use alternative healing or ancient wisdom when those techniques work. For example,  traditionally Alaskan Natives ate a diet of wild meat, herbs and berries.  That diet has been replaced by sugar and processed meat with disastrous effects.  Natives are returning to their traditional diet because it works.  There isn’t anything illogical about it. 

Atmosphere your comment above seems to imply that ancient wisdom and logic are mutually exclusive.  Not so.  Logic implies we use ideas that work.

By erlybird
on 02/23/2008

Atmo…“ancient wisdom”...yes, I see…it is all very clear to me now.  Wait, which ancient wisdom are we talking about here?  The stuff about the sun going around the earth and the planets influencing our health or maybe you mean the wisdom behind thinking that the circulatory system was the seat of thought. Which of these two should we readopt in modern times to get back to healing ourselves better?

Professor Dawkins call to the use of logic and reason when addressing the subject of religion is not knew.

American founding father Thomas Paine promulgated the same thesis in the late 1700’s.  Two of his books,“The Age of Reason” and “Common Sense” foreshadowed Dawkins current “Enemies of Reason” commentary.

Has either changed the preference of the majority to believe in revealed religion?

I didn’t really understand his points about “postmodernism”—what exactly was he attacking? The only difference I can see between Dawkins’ position and that of the “postmodernists” is that Dawkins thinks that we should assume that scientific authorities are correct until proven otherwise, and the “postmodernists” do not.

I understand his argument that the “postmodernists” are apologizing for silly ideas and sloppy thinking, but I just can’t get worked up about it like he does. People believing stupid things is the cost of a free society—or shall we ban political ideologies we don’t like? And frankly that’d be more useful than banning belief in bigfoot or homeopathy.

But at the abstract level at which he deals with the “postmodernists” in this, I just don’t see that Dawkins is in the right. You can’t tell people to think for themselves and then demand they think only in certain ways. So I’m going to call this particular battle in favor of the “postmodernists.”

Polio is not gone. Polio now hides behind these names: Viral or aseptic meningitis, Guillaine Barre Syndrome (GBS), Chinese Paralytic syndrome, CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME, epidemic cholera, cholera morbus, spinal meningitis, spinal apoplexy, inhibitory palsy, intermittent fever, famine fever, worm fever, bilious remittent fever, ergotism, ME, post-polio syndrome, acute flaccid paralysis. The leading cause of GBS in through vaccination(unless you trust the CDC who will tell you otherwise). Specifically the flu. You will see a lot more GBS with the H1N1 vaccine then ever. You will also see the CDC deni those clams and another vaccine come out to fight GBS. Our bodies have surived for thousands of years. Why is it that in the remote tribes in countries like South Africa the people lead healthy lives until civilized people get there? The introduction of new medican can wipe out a tribe that previouse suffered not illness.

Ummm, Scott, could you please explain what good has come from making “adjusted entries” to the perfectly balanced genetic health journal? Perhaps… to make a profit? Or is that too hard for you and the millions of other religious fanatics that have brought this country down to accept?

By Jeff Ricks
on 02/21/2010

Scott S., I think you misunderstand something. Scott Stevenson is anything but a religious fanatic.  Last I talked with him, he called himself an atheist.

Modern medicines are based upon science and reason.  It’s regulated by government who makes us well informed about side effects and precautions.  While the skill of the physician in applying them is a great variable, I still prefer it to self-prescribed folk remedies.  Saying this, I am also not averse to taking an herbal preparation if I can learn enough about it, how it works and reasonably assume it’s not harmful. However, I will not place blind faith in either one.  To assume native peoples “lead healthy lives” without interference from civilized society is patently untrue, BTW.  They lived short lives, wracked with disease in many cases.  It shows clearly in skeletal remains.


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