Enemies of Reason

Howdy all! I'm a new contributer to this blog; I'll be joining the current team of skepkids in working on ensuring that your daily dose of skepticism gets spread around.

For my first post, I'm going to mention that in the UK, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins' two part series, The Enemies of Reason has just been shown on Channel 4. This documentary aims to demonstrate that in a Western world full of technological and scientific breakthroughs, a market for superstition is running rampant. The series is wholly amusing, and lighthearted in a Richard-Dawkins-is-getting-his-chakras-energized type of way. He talks with all sorts of pseudoscientists, and even attends sessions with many, listening patiently to the "mumbo jumbo" that pervades the interviews.

The first part, Slaves to Superstition, emphasizes how various dogmas are able to corrupt our way of life (though he scarcely touches on one of his favorite topics, religion). He studies horoscopes, palm readers, spiritualist churches, and other non-evidence based belief systems. He speaks with lots of crazy folks at the new age fair that he attends, and speaks very enthusiastically with a crystal ball named George.

In the second segment, The Irrational Health Service, Dawkins takes on even more superstitions, though this time the theme is the alternative medicines and treatment that patients regularly make use of. He speaks with homeopaths, who don't seem to mind the fact that they are prescribing water as medicine, as well as various breeds of faith healers, many of whom rationalize their practice by means of scientific words which have absolutely no relation to the topic at hand, such as "vibrations", "black holes", and most of all "quantum mechanics". I'm taking physics now, so I think that the awesome non sequiturs of the healers trying to argue a point is pretty hilarious...and certainly faulty. I think that an appropriate name for this second half could easily have been Alternative Medicines: The Placebo Effect and You.

You can find these videos on Google, or just click the links from Dawkin's site.


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