May 24, 2013

From the Memory Hole: Dawkins/Sheldrake Face Off

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

Once upon a time Rupert Sheldrake and Richard Dawkins had a debate, however brief. Except that it wasn't so much a debate as it was a set-up, proffered on false pretenses, and designed to make Sheldrake look foolish. But Dawkins was unable to spring the trap, came off looking a bit foolish himself, and the whole thing disappeared down the memory hole.

I previously mentioned Dawkins's "Enemies of Reason" here. I recently stumbled on Sheldrake's account of his futile attempt to discuss evidence with Dawkins. His write-up can be found here. Most telling, I think, is Dawkins's statement on science and belief.

The Director asked us to stand facing each other; we were filmed with a hand-held camera. Richard began by saying that he thought we probably agreed about many things, “But what worries me about you is that you are prepared to believe almost anything. Science should be based on the minimum number of beliefs.”

I would humbly suggest that the number of beliefs a scientist holds is far less important than their willingness to suspend disbelief and follow the evidence wherever it may lead. And that is the problem with so called "skeptics" like Dawkins. However many beliefs they may have they're completely caught up in them and refuse to surrender them even when they're contradicted by evidence. So they go about asking for extraordinary proof, not for what are genuinely extraordinary claims, but for anything that defies their belief system. And not only is no amount of proof enough, they won't even look at the evidence before dismissing it out of hand. And these are the people who think they're defending the scientific method.

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