A Devil's Chaplain: Reflections on Hope, Lies, Science, and - download pdf or read online

By Richard Dawkins

Some of the most popular evolutionary biologists at paintings this present day, Richard Dawkins has written passionately for years on matters that subject deeply to him - and topic urgently to we all. A Devil's Chaplain brings jointly the easiest and so much provocative of his essays, on matters starting from evolution to ethics, from go back and forth to literature, from schooling to faith. the result's an interesting portrait of 1 of the best minds in science.

With eloquence and power, those essays recommend Dawkins's such a lot primary axiom: search fact. He speaks out opposed to pseudoscience and deftly dissects faith and mysticism. In a robust letter to his ten-year-old daughter, he argues for the need of basing any trust on good proof. And he doesn't turn away from skewering the loftiest associations, even if judicial or academic. "To hell with . . . your fact-stuffed syllabuses and your never-ending roster of exams," he announces with clean directness. He writes infectiously of his awe on the tremendous complexity of the universe, can pay relocating tribute to pricey pals and useful colleagues, and tenderly recollects his boyhood in Africa. Uncompromising, even ruthless as Dawkins famously is while protecting clinical fact and cause, this assortment additionally exhibits a gentler, extra contemplative part that can shock his many readers.

Here we meet the fundamental Richard Dawkins: inspirational in either his dependable recognition to rationalism and his abiding passions.

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Extra info for A Devil's Chaplain: Reflections on Hope, Lies, Science, and Love

Sample text

Isn't it only the discontinuous mind that wants to erect barriers anyway? So what if, in the continuum of all apes that have lived in Africa, the survivors happen to leave a convenient gap between Homo and Pan? Surely we should, in any case, not base our treatment of animals on whether or not we can interbreed with them. If we want to justify double standards - if society agrees that people should be treated better than, say, cows (cows may be cooked and eaten, people may not) - there must be better reasons than cousinship.

5 Trial By Jury Trial by jury must be one of the most conspicuously bad good ideas anyone ever had. Its devisers can hardly be blamed. They lived before the principles of statistical sampling and experimental design had been worked out. They weren't scientists. Let me explain using an analogy. And if, at the end, somebody objects to my argument on the grounds that humans aren't herring gulls, I'll have failed to get my point across. Adult herring gulls have a bright yellow bill with a conspicuous red spot near the tip.

How about twelve good chicks and true? Now you're talking. If twelve chicks are independently offered a choice between two alternatives, the odds that they will all reach the same verdict by chance alone are satisfyingly low, only one in 2048. But now suppose that, instead of testing our twelve chicks independently, we test them as a group. We take a maelstrom of twelve cheeping chicks and lower into their midst a red spotted dummy and a blue spotted dummy, each fitted with an electrical device for automatically tallying pecks.

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