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Surprising Science

Charting Crickets, Critics, and Talk-Show Hacks With Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins is perhaps the world’s preeminent voice in one of our weightiest debates—‘how did we get here?’ So, how does the spearhead of modern atheism feel we are doing at handling such ‘big’ issues? As long as Bill O’ Reilly and other rating-hungry hacks are on the air, Dawkins remarks in his Big Think interview, not well.

If we want to advance public discourse beyond the lowly impasse at which it has stalled for years, Dawkins suggests, we could start by ending the prolonged and increasingly bizarre obfuscation of evolution’s status as a ‘fact’—and not, by any logical measure, a ‘theory’—and hopefully bury the moral absolutism and insularity that plague our ‘serious’ debates.

In a world unburdened with religious extremes and biases, Dawkins envisions a morality and sense of human duty that is informed by scientific reasoning, wherein we could rationally gauge and grapple with issues ranging from politics and human suffering to education and the meaning of history in a much more realistic and efficacious manner.

Dawkins also shed some light on many of evolutionary biology’s fascinating mysteries—such as why sex is entirely irrational and inexplicable from an evolutionary perspective and why nobody can figure out just how or why humans became conscious in the first place. He also takes us on a personal journey of his development as a scientist, uncovering his first inspirations, favorite research projects, and his long-lost attempt to chronicle the songs of crickets—the experience, did however, allow him to give us some great impressions of the insect’s surprisingly nuanced melodies.


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