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The Michael Shermer Show

A series of conversations between Dr. Michael Shermer and leading scientists, philosophers, historians, scholars, writers and thinkers about the most important issues of our time.

Watch or listen here or on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts, iHeartRadio, Stitcher, and TuneIn.

EPISODE # 205

Richard Dawkins on evangelizing for evolution, science, skepticism, philosophy, reason, and rationality, based on his new book Books Do Furnish a Life: Reading and Writing Science

Books Do Furnish a Life: Reading and Writing Science (book cover)

Richard Dawkins is author of The Selfish Gene, voted The Royal Society’s Most Inspiring Science Book of All Time, and also the bestsellers The Blind Watchmaker, Climbing Mount Improbable, The Ancestor’s Tale, The God Delusion, and two volumes of autobiography, An Appetite for Wonder and Brief Candle in the Dark. He is a Fellow of New College, Oxford and both the Royal Society and the Royal Society of Literature. In 2013, Dawkins was voted the world’s top thinker in Prospect magazine’s poll of 10,000 readers from over 100 countries.

This episode is heavily edited because Dawkins was having trouble with his voice, and Shermer tried to speak a little more to give Dawkins a chance to let his voice rest.

Shermer and Dawkins discuss:

  • his conversations with Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Steven Pinker, Matt Ridley, and Christopher Hitchens,
  • third culture science books as literature,
  • Popperian falsification vs. Bayesian reasoning: how science actually works,
  • evolutionary adaptationism, hyper-adaptationism, spandrels/exaptations,
  • fitness, adaptive, good; eyes and brains are good, but not always: blind cave fish, most animals have small brains,
  • The myth of natural selection as a “force”
  • Is religion adaptive?
  • E.O. Wilson and group selection, multilevel selection, and other misunderstandings about evolutionary theory,
  • metaphors and analogies in science: artificial selection,
  • Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace and how they differed in their theories,
  • directionality to evolution; evolution of evolution; Gouldian contingency?
  • convergent evolution and ETIs: will aliens look anything like us?
  • how we know evolution is a fact of nature,
  • Christopher Hitchens, America as a theocracy? Faux religions like Nazism, communism, wokeism, Trumpism?
  • religious truths vs. political truths vs. empirical truths,
  • Afghanistan and Islam,
  • humans as gullible or skeptical, irrational or rational,
  • scientism, is-ought naturalistic fallacy, objective morality,
  • Grand mysteries? God, free will, consciousness, nothingness?

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This episode is sponsored by Wondrium :

Wondrium (sponsor)

This episode was released on September 1, 2021.

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