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The Greatest Show

Entry 1133, on 2009-12-20 at 19:48:49 (Rating 4, Science)

I have just completed reading Richard Dawkins' latest book, The Greatest Show on Earth. Its a presentation of the evidence for evolution and, although that may sound like a somewhat dry and technical subject, the book is well written and quite easy to read. Its probably not quite as much "fun" to read as another one of his books, The God Delusion, but its a lot tighter scientifically and factually.

I have been told that my old "friend", occasional debating opponent, and prominent creationists, Jonathan Sarfati, is already preparing a reply to this book. I know its bad to pre-judge something just because it is contrary to your world view but I would have to say here that I suspect its probably going to be the standard litany of lies and misleading propaganda that Sarfati usually produces. I will give him the benefit of the doubt and hope that maybe this time he can raise his standards above the usual intellectual dishonesty he has shown in the past, but I do think that's unlikely.

I noted the page numbers from various parts of the book as I read it so I will try to summarise the highlights of Dawkins' case presented there on my web site or here in my blog. I do know the basics of evolution fairly well but there were a few points made in the book I hadn't heard before and some nice examples of the process of evolution, so I would like to write something about these.

While the book was mainly about the scientific fact and theory of evolution it did take more than an occasional shot at creationists and other deniers of scientific fact. The problem of science denial is a serious one, especially with some more practical problems, such as global warming, being denied by certain groups - often by the same groups who deny evolution in fact, including Sarfati!

I'm not sure what the solution is although I think the modern subject of "science communication" (which Dawkins' himself is the leading proponent of) which is now being taken seriously at universities (including the one I work at) might be able to tip the balance back to science being taken seriously and respected more than it currently is.

The statistics showing belief in nonsensical myths like the Creation Myth are disturbing but a lot of that might be because science isn't trusted and understood. If science communication can help that situation it can only be good. Our only hope for a better world is by following science and technology.

A significant part of the population believing in silly fairy stories (creation) and political propaganda (global warming denial) isn't helping anyone - even the groups who promote those beliefs. Its time science took the threat seriously and fought back!

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Comment 1 (2567) by Anonymous on 2009-12-21 at 10:21:12:

How can you say "Our only hope for a better world is by following science and technology" when that is what has caused so many of our problems like pollution and nuclear weapons. It would be better if we used technology less and lived more naturally.

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Comment 2 (2568) by Andrew on 2009-12-22 at 14:00:22:

Yes... when we lived naturally what was the average lifespan?

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Comment 3 (2569) by OJB on 2009-12-23 at 21:30:20:

Exactly. While there have been some problems associated with science and technology many people don't understand (or refuse to understand) how much our basic daily lives have been improved by them. Communications, improved food drops, transport, medicine. Anyone who rejects these advances is just being plain ignorant.

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