Dawkins’ final demise

Oh boy he had this coming! And how sadly true it all is. Richard Dawkins is now an ageing posterboy for arrogance. A sad thing to happen to a previously enticing intellect.

Also, do note the wondrous and important point in this article too: science may be one of the pinnacle achievements of the Enlightenment, but you cannot hope to comprehend all knowledge and human achievement through its lens without losing everything you tried to grasp. That would be the supreme arrogance of (natural) science.

Richard Dawkins, what on earth happened to you?

“Remember when Dawkins was widely respected? When his biggest detractor was late evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould? I don’t. Having grown up after Dawkins made the transition from lauded science communicator to old man who shouts at clouds, it’s hard for me to understand why anyone continues to listen to him about anything.

Sure, he wrote some pop science books back in the day, but why do we keep having him on TV and in the newspapers? If it’s a biologist you’re after, or a science communicator, why not pick from the hundreds out there who don’t tweet five or six Islamophobic sentiments before getting off the toilet in the morning? If you need an atheist, there are many philosophers, scholars of religion, and public intellectuals available who don’t refuse to acknowledge the existence of theology.

Dawkins has been arrogant for years, a man so convinced of his intellectual superiority that he believes the one domain in which he happens to be an expert, science, is the only legitimate way of acquiring or assessing knowledge. All of his outbursts in recent years follow from this belief: he understands the scientific method, a process intended to mitigate the interference of human subjectivity in data collection, as a universally applicable way of understanding not just the physical world but literally everything else as well. Hence his constant complaint that those appalled by his bigoted vituperations are simply offended by clarity; feeble-minded obscurantists who cling to emotion, tradition or the supernatural to shield themselves from the power of his truth bombs.

You don’t have to be religious to find this level of hubris baffling. In his review of The God Delusion, Terry Eagleton remarks:

Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology.

Dawkins’ narrowmindedness, his unshakeable belief that the entire history of human intellectual achievement was just a prelude to the codification of scientific inquiry, leads him to dismiss the insights offered not only by theology, but philosophy, history and art as well.”


Mindblowing molecular biology animations

You simply have to watch this TED talk. Some new animations are revealed that show our latest understanding of how cellular and sub-cellular structures, such as our DNA, RNA machines, chromosomes etc, work.

The sheer beauty, complexity and magic of our cellular reality will blow you away.

TED talk on Animations of unseeable biology


On dairy milk

Interesting article about whether milk is healthy to drink. It’s an old topic but no doubt it’s of continued interest as milk is being consumed and increasingly pushed by a politically powerful dairy industry.

I don’t think there’s a one size fits all answer with dairy, some do well on it, many really don’t.

I now do quite well on some dairy (my initial low allergy went down after pregnancy) but won’t touch anything low fat. I never drink milk but I’m very happy on lots of leafy greens, tahini, tofu etc which do help build bones. I also eat cheese but tend to go for organic and always full fat. I wouldn’t want to rely in dairy for my calcium or protein needs alone (or even mostly, perhaps).

The most interesting sociological insight in this article may even be more fundamental in rethinking our approach to dairy: the dairy industry is politically powerful and dictates food and even agricultural policies. This is most pronounced in the US but also true in Australia and Western Europe.

The dairy industry doesn’t really care about our health, it cares about its financial livelihood only. They sponsor science that shows what they pay it to show.

“Let’s just forget the science and spend taxpayer’s dollars to promote foods that we know are harmful, because money runs politics. To heck with the health of our citizens”.

What did you think of the article?

Some of you, no doubt, would lament the narrow focus on health. How about the environment and animals themselves? Is our focus on our health alone really selfish?

Got proof? Lack of evidence for milk’s benefits