By Richard Dawkins
Probably the most popular evolutionary biologists at paintings this day, Richard Dawkins has written passionately for years on matters that topic deeply to him - and subject urgently to we all. A Devil's Chaplain brings jointly the easiest and such a lot provocative of his essays, on topics starting from evolution to ethics, from commute to literature, from schooling to faith. the result's an exciting portrait of 1 of the best minds in science.
With eloquence and vigour, 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 strong facts. 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 unending roster of exams," he publicizes with clean directness. He writes infectiously of his awe on the wonderful complexity of the universe, will pay relocating tribute to expensive buddies and necessary colleagues, and tenderly remembers his boyhood in Africa. Uncompromising, even ruthless as Dawkins famously is while protecting medical fact and cause, this assortment additionally exhibits a gentler, extra contemplative part that may shock his many readers.
Here we meet the fundamental Richard Dawkins: inspirational in either his loyal cognizance to rationalism and his abiding passions.
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Additional info for A Devil's Chaplain: Reflections on Hope, Lies, Science, and Love
The football is, therefore, theoretically a pattern into which carbon atoms might spontaneously fall. Mirabile dictu, exactly this pattern has been discovered among carbon atoms. The team responsible, including Sir Harry Kroto of Sussex University, won the 1996 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Called Buckminsterfullerene, it is an elegant sphere of 60 carbon atoms, linked up as 20 hexagons interspersed with 12 pentagons. The name honours the visionary American architect Buckminster Fuller (whom I was privileged to meet when he was a very old man*) and the spheres are affectionately known as buckyballs.
Let us imagine setting one up along the equator, across the width of our home continent of Africa. It is a special kind of chain, involving parents and children, and we'll have to play tricks with time in order to imagine it. You stand on the shore of the Indian Ocean in southern Somalia, facing north, and in 23 SCIENCE A N D SENSIBILITY your left hand you hold the right hand of your mother. In turn she holds the hand of her mother, your grandmother. Your grandmother holds her mother's hand, and so on.
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. Their babies peck at the red spot, which induces the parents to regurgitate food for them. Niko Tinbergen, Nobel Prizewinning zoologist and my old maestro at Oxford, offered naive young chicks a range of cardboard dummy gull heads varying in bill and spot colour, and shape.
A Devil's Chaplain: Reflections on Hope, Lies, Science, and Love by Richard Dawkins