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Richard Dawkins - Break the Science Barrier,
subcultured at 10:25AM, Aug. 2, 2008
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SCIENCE is useful but that is not all it is. Science can be uplifting, thrilling, life-enhancing. Originally broadcast on Britain's Channel 4 in 1996, Break the Science Barrier follows the Oxford Biologist Richard Dawkins as he meets with people who have experienced the wonders of science first-hand. We meet the astronomer who first discovered pulsars, the geneticist who invented DNA fingerprinting, a scientist who discovered a protein that causes cancer, and others. Dawkins interviews famous admirers of science such as Douglas Adams and David Attenborough, and asks them why science means so much to them. We also see how dangerous ignorance of science can be in classrooms, courts, and beyond.

With so many expressing paranormal beliefs and ignorance of science, Dawkins encourages viewers to contrast these ancient superstitions with the power and beauty of our scientific achievements and understanding.



J
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:03PM
ozoneocean at 4:00AM, Aug. 3, 2008
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Science just helps us understand the world in a way we can manipulate it.
Art in all its forms (music, dance, painting, performance, reading, films etc.), religious experiences, experiences of creation, birth, all the multitudes of great experiences involved in different forms of social interaction, or even just seeing a great view or feeling great on a perfect day are uplifting and life enhancing.

Science is more like something that works out the grey building blocks that make stuff what it is. If anything it helps make life more boring in many ways. Like explaining to a movie watcher exactly how all the effects are done, who wrote the scripts, where the filming was done, how many takes each scene took, the lighting methods they used… All while they're trying to watch it. :)

I DON'T say science is bad at all, it brings us fantastic stuff, I'm a huge consumer of the products of science like everyone else, and personally very deeply interested in it!
I'm Just offering a different perspective. Everything has its place in the human perspective, superstition is just another aspect of our cultural make-up (as long as we don't let it take over!). We need a good working knowledge of science but we need all the rest as well.
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-TLDR: Science is not a replacement for any other aspect of culture, but it is a very useful adjunct.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:32PM
bravo1102 at 6:10AM, Aug. 3, 2008
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Science is as much a thrilling and creative endeavor as any of the arts. In many ways the two have gone hand in hand as exemplified in the artists of the Renaissance.

To say science “ just helps us understand the world in the way we manipulate it.” is like reducing any activity to its tools. Science as understood by many is grey and boring, but it isn't For every person who thinks that science is boring there is another who sees trips to art museums the same way or thinks comics are just the funny papers and something you grow out of when you first get interested in girls.

But science is a lot more than that, just like history is more than a dry list of names and dates. Unfortunately that impression is primarily the fault of the educational system and much kudos to Richard Dawkins (and one who greatly inspired him; Carl Sagan)for trying to make peopel see science as something more than just a bunch of guys in lab coats scribbling numbers on a board and an exciting creative process in and of itself.

OT: Did you know that Douglas Adams introduced Dawkins to his wife who was the actress who played Romana on Dr. Who? (Douglas Adams wrote for Dr. Who during the Tom Baker years) Talk about science and art getting together…
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:33AM
ozoneocean at 8:18AM, Aug. 3, 2008
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No, I didn't say science was boring. I said:

Me
I DON'T say science is bad at all, it brings us fantastic stuff, I'm a huge consumer of the products of science like everyone else, and personally very deeply interested in it!

and:

Me
Science is more like something that works out the grey building blocks that make stuff what it is. If anything it helps make life more boring in many ways. Like explaining to a movie watcher exactly how all the effects are done, who wrote the scripts, where the filming was done, how many takes each scene took, the lighting methods they used… All while they're trying to watch it

Also:

My last word there
-TLDR: Science is not a replacement for any other aspect of culture, but it is a very useful adjunct.

I just started of by saying basically "yeah, a lot of other things are a lot more life enhancing just in our daily experience"

The problem is that some want to elevate science to the status of religion. That's a horrible, stupid idea. The sort of thing would be the worst thing to happen to it. We need to see it for what it IS, not romanticise it. It's a process of finding out about the world in a way that we CAN manipulate it. An on going process of carefully reasoned and tested discovery. That's Science.
Genes, atoms, elements, quarks, gravity: science doesn't make these things, It's the process that helps us learn about them and then do all sorts of interesting things with them.

As I say, it's not a replacement for any other part of our culture. But it does exist in almost all other parts of our culture in many ways and has probably always done so: an adjunct.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:32PM
Ronson at 5:03AM, Aug. 4, 2008
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As I say, it's not a replacement for any other part of our culture. But it does exist in almost all other parts of our culture in many ways and has probably always done so: an adjunct.

Ah! But it has replaced parts of our culture. Science pushes superstition into the crevices and corners of things we don't yet know.

That many religions now have a “God of the margins” is a verifyable fact. While some may still believe there is a God who created everything, we no longer believe that a god or God pushes the sun across the sky or that crops fail because we didn't sacrifice enough virgins. That's major cultural shift where superstition was replaced by science.

And it still happens. Evolution replaces or reinterprets creationism. Computers (scientific by-products) put different cultures within reach of eachother and alter the way these cultures view eachother, which alters cultural norms.

Art and music and the enjoyment of nature are important in human development and personal happiness, but science has permeated and changed them all. Some science, of course, makes things worse. But it seems to me that it has done more good in terms of quality and length of life than any other cultural aspect.

Now, I would not say that science should be treated as a religion. But it certainly should be more of a guide for the way we treat eachother than religion is, along with its tools mathematics and logic.

Every so often, another leap in the study of our species crops up and reinforces that the differences between us are so minor and the similarities are so overwhelming that our habit of creating cultural barriers between “tribes” is simply ridiculous. That's science showing us a beauty we ignore at our peril.

And, of course, the current system of guiding social rules by emotion and religious preference is leading many societies to ruin.

I don't think this is an issue that is easily debated by us laymen. I will say that my love of nature isn't diminished if I know a beatiful sunset is comprised of sun rays being refracted through water vapor. Nor is my appreciation for ancient works of art diminished when I think of the careful study and devotion the painter had to find exactly the right materials to create the colors that have survived to this day.

In fact, I have a greater appreciation for the quantum leaps in visual effects that Star Wars made when I see the “making of” documentaries. Just so long as no one talks while I'm watching the end result. :) Which I think is what Ozone was saying.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:10PM
ozoneocean at 9:57AM, Aug. 4, 2008
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Now I appreciate all that you Say Ronson. I read through every bit, not skimmed, But I'm approaching from a slightly different angle….

Basically, no part of culture is ever static, it's always shifting and changing. Some ideas hang around for longer, some don't. science has not “replaced” things within it, because science is a process (not the results of that process), and it's always been part of culture. If anything, it works as an agent of change.
Yep, that'd be the main function within culture.

See where I'm coming from?

I.E. knowing about refraction isn't science or scientific. Science helped us get that knowledge, and now that we have it, it's part of our culture alongside all the rest.

Ronson
I don't think this is an issue that is easily debated by us laymen.
We all research things, hypothesise, theorise, experiment, test, apply logical reasoning all our lives, we're never separated from science. It's not just biology, chemistry, and physics. So we're never laymen discussing a topic that's beyond us in any way. Career researchers just have extremely good grasp of their fields of work and a very good grounding in the process. :)

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Superstition is really just a pejorative term for belief systems and folklore that that were an important part of the shared stories and development of early communities. They were part of the foundations of communication among other things, and they still are. Those shared stories continue to bridge ethnic cultural gaps and enrich our life experience- Consider the themes of so much popular entertainment in all its forms and the types of that media most likely to have cross cultural mileage.

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The problem here may be one of perception: The old dualistic antagonism that always seems to be one of the most fundamental ways of understanding things; from the most basic of the religions to the 1's and 0's in bytes, to liberal VS Con, capitalism VS communism, East Vs West, Black VS White…

Sorry, I can't see it as science VS religion and superstition. That's like the Sun VS the Sea: Opposition is just way of looking at them, they're actually very different things and their interaction is really quite complex and multifaceted.

-edit-
Thought of a better analogy:
The Science VS Religion false debate is like the Sea VS the Coastline; One perspective will tell you the sea is a destructive, erosive force that wears down the coast. But that's ONLY true from one single perspective and not the real story. The interaction is essential, eternal, highly complex and really all the sea does is just act as an agent of change on its borders.

Dawkins' problem with religion is really just a problem with conservative reactionary thinking by certain parts of the community that refuse to embrace new knowledge and reject facts. He puts the blame on religion in general, which is wrong: We've always had room for new ideas and facts and older ones change to accommodate them, some are harder to shift but eventually they just have to. But we have no need to go in and actively expunge and throw certain ones away, - suppressing ideas, culture, or knowledge in the name of religion, politics or “scientific enlightenment” is equally negative.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:32PM
bravo1102 at 11:58AM, Aug. 6, 2008
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Science is not a belief system. It is a proof system. A toolbox of skills used to prove how things work as opposed to taking it on faith because that is what you are told, or someone or something “so much wiser than you” (whether gods, Confucious, Plato, Yahweh, etc.) says it is so.

Superstition is the darkness and what is to be feared/avoided/reverred because you are inculcated to do so. Science is challenging that. Were we always challenging? Not really. For every challenge there was the branding of "heretic!“ and ”recant"! or destroy that knowledge… The universe can't change…because faith, custom and superstition says it is so and faith, custom and superstition cannot be wrong. It can be adjusted from time to time but it was never wrong.

Experiment and science has been stifled by faith and superstition many more times than it has been allowed to expand. From the Chinese emperors(and philosophers) to the Egyptians to Holy Mother Church.

Currently we are experiencing the first time in history where it has taken firm root and is expanding exponentially. Previously it died young or was the fringe and then forgotten.

Chinese to Portugese “Wow you built those cool mechanical clocks? I love them, can I have one?” (They forgoten they had invented them 1000 years earlier and that knowledge had slipped away because of faith and superstition stated that the universe is not allowed to change and you cannot question and mechanical clocks raised questions)
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:33AM

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