“Richard Dawkins’s book The God Delusion sold a million copies. In a new and hilarious onslaught he pits hard science against astrology, tarot, psychics, homeopathy and other ‘gullibiligy.'” This is how Richard Dawkins’ new two-part TV series was introduced in a recent Sunday Times review, The Gullible Age.
The makers describe the series, entitled The Enemies of Reason as follows:
“Is it rational that the dead can communicate with the living and give sound advice on how they should live their lives? What about sticking pins into your body to free the flow of Chi energy and cure your illness? Or the bending of spoons using your mind alone? Is that rational? Richard Dawkins doesn’t think so, and feels it is his duty to expose those areas of belief that exist without scientific proof, yet manage to hold the nation under their spell. He will take on the world’s leading proponents in their field of expertise, meet the victims who have used them and expose the history of the movements – from the charlatans who have milked these practices to the experiments and testing that have failed to produce conclusive results.”
The medium who found Dawkins’s father on the far side
The Sunday times review presents some idea of the series in the following description of Dawkins’ consultation with a medium:
When Dawkins consulted a medium who has appeared on daytime television and charges £50 for instant phone readings she said she could hear or see his father “on the other side”.
He did his best not to look surprised as she continued: “I’m aware of your father stood right behind you. “On a spiritual level he wasn’t the most openest man with his thoughts and his feelings. Ummm, I kind of want to say that I do love you and I do care – but that wouldn’t have been his character.” (Or that of many middle-class father figures of his generation, a sceptic might have said.)
But Dawkins let her continue. “I’m aware that you don’t have you dad’s photograph out” – it was true, he didn’t – “so I’m a little bit concerned why. So I’m going to ask you: why don’t you have it out?” Dawkins had a bombshell ready: “Well, he might be aware that I don’t have it out because he comes to the house about once a week.” “Oh, he’s still here,” she said, adding after a few seconds: “I don’t feel it’s working.”
“Is that because you thought my father is dead and discovered that he’s still alive?”
“No, nothing to do with that. I don’t know.”
She commented later: “As a clairvoyant you’re only as good as the client.”
I think superstition is still a huge problem in modern society. It may appear harmless, but it demonstrates how widespread irrational thinking still is. This, like the blind faith many have in religion, can be used to promote irrational and dangerous activity. After all, isn’t modern terrorism based on superstition, blind faith and irrational thinking. It’s great to see Dawkins undoubted skills in the popularisation of science being turned to exposing this problem
The Enemies Of Reason starts on Channel 4 in the UK on August 13. I wonder if we in New Zealand will ever get a chance to see it.
Questions science cannot answer?
Debating science and religion
Solution to climate change?
Faith and terrorism
“I’m an atheist, but ……”
Putting Dawkins in his place
Limits of science or religious “fog”?
Can science enrich faith?
Miracles and the supernatural?
Should we teach creationism?