The team’s on vacation, so for this week’s Honestly, we’re sharing a favorite episode from a favorite podcast, one you may not have heard of: UnHerd with Freddie Sayers. UnHerd’s mission is similar to ours: to push back against the herd mentality, and to provide a platform for otherwise unheard ideas, people, and places.
Per Dawkins, religious beliefs are ridiculous, and at the same time we should blindly follow “the science” when we have no time to validate scientific assumptions (e.g. Covid Vaccine efficacy) because we had no time. I guess there are truly no atheists in foxholes, including Dawkins
Yes, it was really disappointing when it got to the covid stuff and the loss of trust in science and his lack of willingness to recognize the harm that was done by people who should have known better. He almost explicitly endorsed the "we can't tell them the truth" angle that most government authorities took when deciding not to share how little was known about the real effectiveness of the vaccines and how they differed from traditional vaccines. The unprecedented damage done to society by the covid response and the repression of individual freedom is hard to overestimate and he kind of waved it off, "what else could they do?". And the way scientific institutions, including the biggest journals, biased their coverage and sharing of information, silencing as much as possible alternative hypotheses about the origins of the virus, the effectiveness of things like masks as well as vaccines, have done real harm to the future trust that we can place in those institutions. Science is all about being wrong and adapting to new information, but when you refuse to admit it when a hypothesis is wrong and conspire to tear down alternative explanations, that is not excusable.
Dawkins was so impressed by the "unprecedent speed" to develop the mRNA vaccine; "a glory of a science." Part of the glory of science was transmitting the virus sequence "over the airwaves".
To see someone purposefully blind themselves is truly tragic. He sees "no mistrust of science."
As great as Dawkins is, it’s disappointing to hear him say he cares about human survival above knowledge.
Of course, the contrary might sound insane, but if you accept that somethings are more important than objective truth, it’s a very slippery slope down to “we can’t talk about human sexual dimorphism because some amorphous social phenomena might occur that might someday cause a transgender person to be killed for some reason”. Which is kind of where we are: in a world where even the slightest or most ephemeral harm is considered to be more important than reality.
Positioning truth above all else is hardly an easy choice, but I’d rather come down on the side of Oppenheimer, legitimately tortured as the man might have been in wondering whether there are some truths best left undiscovered.
Aside from his huge blind spots Dr Dawkins is an open minded individual.
The interviewer was the intellectual in the room. He did a nice job.