By Richard Dawkins
Probably the most popular evolutionary biologists at paintings this day, Richard Dawkins has written passionately for years on matters that topic deeply to him - and topic urgently to we all. A Devil's Chaplain brings jointly the simplest and so much provocative of his essays, on topics starting from evolution to ethics, from trip to literature, from schooling to faith. the result's an exciting portrait of 1 of the best minds in science.
With eloquence and power, those essays recommend Dawkins's such a lot primary axiom: search fact. He speaks out opposed to pseudoscience and deftly dissects faith and mysticism. In a strong letter to his ten-year-old daughter, he argues for the need of basing any trust on good facts. And he doesn't turn away from skewering the loftiest associations, no matter if judicial or academic. "To hell with . . . your fact-stuffed syllabuses and your never-ending roster of exams," he publicizes with clean directness. He writes infectiously of his awe on the significant complexity of the universe, will pay relocating tribute to pricey acquaintances and priceless colleagues, and tenderly remembers his boyhood in Africa. Uncompromising, even ruthless as Dawkins famously is while protecting clinical fact and cause, this assortment additionally exhibits a gentler, extra contemplative aspect that could shock his many readers.
Here we meet the basic Richard Dawkins: inspirational in either his loyal realization to rationalism and his abiding passions.
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Extra resources for A Devil's Chaplain: Reflections on Hope, Lies, Science, and Love
Firstly, human error can obviously vitiate the accuracy of the method. But that is true of all evidence. Courts are already accustomed to taking precautions to avoid the muddling up of specimens, and such precautions now become even more important. DNA fingerprinting can establish, almost infinitely far beyond all reasonable doubt, whether a smear of blood came from a particular individual. But 31 SCIENCE A N D SENSIBILITY obviously you must test the right smear. Secondly, astronomical though the odds against mistaken identity by DNA fingerprinting theoretically are, it is possible for geneticists and statisticians to come up with what seem like widely different estimates of the precise odds.
TSee 'Dolly and the Cloth Heads' (pp. 152-5). 34 S C I E N C E , GENETICS A N D ETHICS 1951, is now being grown in labs all over the world. A typical lab, at the University of California, grows 48 litres of HeLa cells per day, as a routine service to researchers in the university. The total daily worldwide production of HeLa cells must be measured in tons - all a gigantic clone of Henrietta Lacks. In the half century since this mass production began, nobody seems to have objected to it. Those who agitate to stop stem cell research today have to explain why they do not object to the mass cultivation of HeLa cells.
Viruses self-assemble like elaborately complex crystal-clusters. The head of the T4 bacteriophage (a virus that infects bacteria) actually looks like a single crystal. Go into any museum and look at the collection of minerals. Even go into a New Age shop and look at the crystals on display, along with all the other apparatus of mumbo-jumbo and kitsch con-trickery. The crystals won't respond to your attempts to 'program' them for meditation, or 'dedicate' them with warm, loving thoughts. They won't cure you of anything, or fill the room with 'inner peace' or 'psychic energy'.