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BIG NEWS!

Richard Dawkins is Coming to the Skeptics Conference at Caltech May 29–31, 2015!
Richard Dawkins (photo by Lalla Ward)

We are thrilled to announce that the world’s most famous evolutionary biologist and atheist activist RICHARD DAWKINS will be participating in the Skeptics Society’s annual conference at Caltech Friday–Sunday May 29–31, joining our galaxy of science stars Jared Diamond, Lawrence Krauss, Esther Dyson, John McWhorter, Ian Morris, Carol Tavris, Greg Benford, David Brin, & Donald Prothero. On Friday night at the dinner at The Westin Pasadena, Richard will mingle and talk to guests plus do a dramatic reading of his “love mail” from his most ardent religious critics. On Saturday Richard will do a mid-day “In Conversation” with Michael Shermer on religion and the far future of humanity. On Sunday Richard will appear at a private fundraising dinner ($1000/plate) at the Shermer home for a small number of guests. This private dinner event is a fundraiser for the Richard Dawkins Foundation. Register online or call the office at 1-626-794-3119.

This is going to be our biggest conference ever that will sell out the Caltech auditorium, so be sure to REGISTER NOW for the Friday night dinner, the Saturday all-day lectures and discussions (meals included), one of the Sunday field trips, and evening private dinner with Dawkins.

Learn more

Register online


NEW ON THE MORAL ARC BLOG
Why the Founding Fathers Wouldn’t Have Been Anti-Vaxxers

The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Lead Humanity toward Truth, Justice, and Freedom (book over)

Visit the Moral Arc website for more information about the book, or click one of the following to order the book right now from Amazon, Shop Skeptic, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, iBooks, Kobo, and IndieBound.

Are you a vaccination skeptic? Or are you skeptical of the vaccination skeptics? Your answer will most likely depend less on science and more on political ideology. The science jury is in when it comes to vaccinations, as it is for climate change and evolution. Vaccinations work, climate change is real and evolution happened. But, though skepticism in all three cases tends to be the product of politics, to doubt science is to run up against the very heart of America’s political framework.

The founding principles of America were the product of 18th century Enlightenment thinkers who were inspired by 17th century scientists such as Galileo and Newton. (This is an argument I make in my new book, The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Lead Humanity Toward Truth, Justice, and Freedom.) The experimental methods and analytical reasoning of science that these Enlightenment thinkers consciously applied to solve social, political and economic problems created the modern world of liberal democracies, civil rights and civil liberties, equal justice under the law, free minds and free markets, and prosperity the likes of which no human society in history has ever enjoyed.

CONTINUE READING

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Donald Prothero
A Tale of Two Debaters

Donald Prothero considers the diverging fortunes of Bill Nye the Science Guy and creationist Ken Ham in the wake of their "Great Debate."

Read the Insight


The Moral Arc (book cover)

Visit the Moral Arc website for more information about the book, or click one of the following to order the book right now from Amazon, Shop Skeptic, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, iBooks, Kobo, and IndieBound.

Arcing Toward Morality
SKEPTICALITY EPISODE 248

In this episode of Skepticality, Derek has a conversation with Dr. Michael Shermer about his recently released book, The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Lead Humanity toward Truth, Justice, and Freedom. Find out more about how a shift in society which led to the Enlightenment, abstract reasoning and skepticism, have moved humanity toward a more just and moral world.

8 Comments »

8 Comments

  1. Roy Niles says:

    Dawkins? I’d rather read Mary Midgley on Purpose, Meaning & Darwinism where she
    meditates on mind and meaning among the mutations. And in which she writes that the Selfish Gene is Dawkinsism, not Darwinism.

  2. Antoine A.H. Wonders says:

    The Selfisch Gene is Darwinism applied to genetics, of which Darwin had only a faint idea. Lo and behold, it works. What one rather reads rather than Dawkins doesn’t make an argument.

  3. Bad Boy Scientist says:

    I was amused by the questions “Are you a vaccination skeptic? Or are you skeptical of the vaccination skeptics?” as if I had to be skeptical of one and only one. Why can’t I be skeptical of both? Or of neither?

    The word ‘skepticism’ seems to have lost most of its meaning – I think most people use it to mean ‘doubt’ or even ‘disbelief.’ And it seems that they use it as an absolute with no degrees of intensity: either you are skeptical or you are not – and if you are skeptical of one side of an argument ipso facto you embrace the other side… and there is no room for being ‘a little skeptical’.

    I guess that’s not how my mind works – I view skepticism as the mental obstacle that ideas, theories, notions, interpretations of evidence, etc must overcome for me to have confidence in them. Even if I am 99.99% confident in something, there is _always_ an obstacle or two left – so I always have at least some remaining skepticism.

    Take vaccines, there are myriad variables to consider: even if we established that there is absolutely no link between autism and vaccines, what about other (more subtle) health complications? Vaccines do kill a teeny tiny number of patients. What about this particular batch of vaccines – maybe it wasn’t properly manufactured or stored? But my (inexpert) assessment of these risks is that they are far, far lower than the risks of not vaccinating. The thing is: the risks aren’t zero – they are very, very small. Am I skeptical of vaccines? Of course, I am! Being safer than the alternative does not mean perfectly safe.

    I think the true nature of skepticism is being mindful of the limits of confidence one can have in any/all positions. Some positions have more evidence upon which to base confidence so we lean toward those positions – but if we ignore the limitations we’re acting on faith and belief and not reason.

  4. Kenn Kirby says:

    Who can honestly dispute that The Selfish Gene is nothing less than remarkable. That being said, I wish that Dawkins was not touted as the advocate for atheism. This is a harsh word. How about `selective non-questioner’.

    Dawkins, like all the rest of us finite beings, will die one day, and his words, contrary to some ineffable Hellenic mystical affirmation, are not immortal. They’ll just last a little while.

    People are absurd; many of us still don’t step on cracks because we don’t take chances tampering with invisible beings who may want to thwart us in our belief that everything can be okay if we just follow the right protocol. Little old ladies whose grand children die at war like to light candles because it lets them take control of something they can’t control, death of a loved one that will never return.

    Who wants to be an atheist?

    A true skeptic questions everything, accepts only the immutable laws of physics as absolute fact (of which I leave out much of cosmology, which is merely theoretical, i.e., no true `proof in the pudding’, such as speculation regarding `proof’ of life on other planets because there is a trace of water on another world).

    The rest is open to debate, becomes `fact’ only insofar as it meets the current needs of the day. Darwin’s natural selection is fact; Dawkins’ selfish gene’ is fact because it supplies answers and viable solutions, and improves on Darwin where Darwin had not lived long enough to see an advancement in technology and new ways to test theories.

    However, why bother picking on faith believers … unless they stifle science. Most don’t. The word `atheist’, though, just creates more anger with those that need faith to get through the day.

    Skeptics are those who question, but don’t necessarily need definitive answers (or do they/). Believers are those who need answers. God and protective guardian angels make them feel secure.

    Nobody needs to be an advocate for atheism. It just alienates more believers that may otherwise be open to possible insight. Why does there always need to be two walls of diametrically opposed thought set up with a battlefield in between?

  5. Roy Niles says:

    Among many others, David Sloan Wilson in his blog at The Huffington Post, exposed the contradictions that lie at the heart of selfish gene theory.
    He ran a series of articles singling out Richard Dawkins as a target. Example: “Richard has become unaccountable – as a spokesperson for science. When it comes to semantic confusion, you can’t beat selfish gene theory.”
    But of course the NeoDarwinists (i.e., Dawkinsists) that follow this site are all for the theories where all genes have been intelligent enough to make selfish choices, but the bulk of our earlier organisms had no intelligence at all, having had it conferred upon their genes by random accidents.

  6. Lamouline says:

    I am very please to discover that american atheists or sceptics (if you prerfer) exists. In Europe, the people of United States is, sorry, considered as the more religious occidental people .
    Thanks. A belgian atheist.

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