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The Selfish Gene, by Richard Dawkins
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MikeAlx



Joined: 17 Nov 2008
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Location: Seaford, East Sussex

PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 3:10 pm    Post subject:  Reply with quote

TheRejectAmidHair wrote:
Dawkins’ viewpoint is quite simple: one shouldn’t believe in religion because it isn’t true.

I don't think that's quite accurate. As far as I'm aware, Dawkins' viewpoint is more like "one shouldn't believe in religion because there's no evidence it's true" - which is a significantly different claim.



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TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
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Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 4:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, you're quite right: it's an important distinction.

But this still presupposes that those who believe do so on the basis of empirical evidence, and I really don't think this is the case. People do not, I think, believe on the basis of evidence, so pointing out that evidence does not exist is hardly going to deter anyone from believing.


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Simon The Sponge



Joined: 13 Dec 2008
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Location: Gillingham, Kent

PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 7:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MikeAlx wrote:
I don't think Dawkins has a problem with alternative viewpoints - just with plain wrong ones.


I was making some large generalisations my post wasn't I, although Like Himadri I sympathise with Dawkins in the face of viewpoints like creationism which can be proved to be plain wrong, but he also has similar emphasis on viewpoints which cannot be disproved with empirical evidence.

On the subject of memes, I didn't realise that he'd linked meme evolution with gene evolution,  I thought he only used genes as an analogy for the survival of cultural ideas and information and so demonstrating that the mechanism is quite widely seen in other areas of nature.  Moreover he also uses this to suggest that religion itself is a meme - a cultural idea that is spread by speech or ritual behaviour.  If this is the case then religion will only disappear when the cultural environment has changed so that it cannot survive or isn't required, as with the gene analogy.  In which case it seems like he's whistling in the wind against his own argument.  

I too found the Bus adverts a little odd too Himadri as a I thought removing God was more likely to induce worry through existential angst (to use a Dai phrase) Smile

But I guess the most important question would be what would Dawkins have to say about the explanation of spoons jumping across draining boards - any developments on that Himadri?


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MikeAlx



Joined: 17 Nov 2008
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Location: Seaford, East Sussex

PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 8:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm also very uneasy with the idea of memes. There's nothing physical or measurable to underpin it, so it's at best a metaphor, and certainly not part of empirical science.

It also seems to me to be based on a rather simplistic conception of what an idea is - for all we know, it might be the case that no two people ever have exactly the same idea. It ignores questions about whether certain ideas can exist independently of language, and whether they inevitably change when they cross into another language or culture, and suchlike.



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Caro



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
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Location: Owaka, New Zealand

PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 10:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very very much sideways here, sorry, but I hear that Stephen Hawkings is very ill.  I have read his Brief History of Time (to the end! but rather skipping parts) and also an autobiography, or was it a biography? of his first wife, which showed him in a rather different light, though just as intelligent and focussed.  Not much of a husband, though.

Cheers, Caro.  (Perhaps I should have put this elsewhere, but I can hardly open a thread on the death of authors who haven't actually died.)


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Caro



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 10:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Back to memes though, there are lots of scientific ideas which don't have actual evidence at the time of their proposals, but that doesn't necessarily invalidate them.  I don't think there was much evidence of black holes when they were first mentioned or the big bang or some of this string theory that I don't understand.  

And does calculus actually exist? Isn't it just made up?  It shouldn't exist anyway, as far as my 6th form maths was concerned.

Cheers, Caro.


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TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
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Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 10:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Simon The Sponge wrote:
But I guess the most important question would be what would Dawkins have to say about the explanation of spoons jumping across draining boards - any developments on that Himadri?


For those who haven't seen my page on Facebook, I should explain that this refers to an event that happened in our very kitchen about a month or two ago. My wife and I were ready to retire for the night, when we heard a crash in the kitchen: we went there to find a saucepan on the floor - it had obviously fallen from the kitchen worktop. I was just explaining that we must have left it too close to the edge, and that it must have toppled over, when, before our very eyes, a spoon that was standing upringht in the plastic drainer next to the sink leaped out a good yard or so across the kitchen worktop. We both saw this. And what's more, not only were we both stone cold sober, but neither of us had been experimenting with any sort of drug at all - not even aspirin.

Whatever the reason, I can definitely report that there has been no further poltergeist actvity in the house. As you all know, I am sceptical and rational about everything, but if this wasn't the spirits of the dead trying to contact us, then I'm Uri Geller.




Last edited by TheRejectAmidHair on Tue Apr 21, 2009 10:38 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Caro



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
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Location: Owaka, New Zealand

PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 10:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Apparently there is connection between poltergeist activities and teenagers in a home, though I have never understood how the two combine.  That is a very weird thing to have happened, Himadri.  There must be logical explanations, though it is often hard to see what.

Cheers, Caro.


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TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
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Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 10:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Caro wrote:
Back to memes though, there are lots of scientific ideas which don't have actual evidence at the time of their proposals, but that doesn't necessarily invalidate them.  


I doesn't invalidate them, but it doesn't give us any particular reason to talk about them either. One could make any hypothesis about anything, but if there's no evidence, then what's the point?

Quote:
And does calculus actually exist? Isn't it just made up?  It shouldn't exist anyway, as far as my 6th form maths was concerned.


Very Happy Oh, that's good! I don't have to explain the ideas to the children then!


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Simon The Sponge



Joined: 13 Dec 2008
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Location: Gillingham, Kent

PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 11:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
but if this wasn't the spirits of the dead trying to contact us, then I'm Uri Geller.


Probably why the spoon was making a bid for freedom then Wink

Caro,  I've also read Jane Hawking's Music to move the stars, if that's the book you're referring to.  It was a few years ago that I read it, but I found it a very honest book.  From what I remember she came across as being a very caring and warm person and despite the circumstances of their divorce it struck me that she was resolved not to be too bitter



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