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Martin Rees — Can Science Save Us?

If Science is to Save Us (book cover)

Shermer and Rees discuss:

  • Existential threats or serious problems to solve?
  • overpopulation
  • biodiversity loss
  • climate change
  • AI and self-driving cars, robots, and unemployment
  • his bet with Steven Pinker
  • how science works as a communal activity
  • scientific creativity
  • science communication
  • science creativity
  • Why aren’t there more women and people of color in STEM fields?
  • verification vs. falsification: from Francis Bacon to Karl Popper
  • Bayesian reasoning and scientific progress
  • Model Dependent Realism and the nature of reality
  • Fermi’s Paradox: where is everyone (ETIs)?
  • the “fine-tuning” of the universe and Intelligent Design Creationism
  • Secular Intelligent Design and the future of super computers and AI
  • science and religion
  • his disagreement with Richard Dawkins
  • why he’s an atheist but wants to be buried in the Presbyterian church in which he was raised
  • mysterian mysteries: are there things we can never know, even in principle?

Martin Rees is Astronomer Royal, former President of the Royal Society, Fellow (and former Master) of Trinity College, Cambridge, and Emeritus Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics at the University of Cambridge. He sits as a member of the UK House of Lords. He is the author of many bestselling popular science books, including: On the Future; Just Six Numbers; Before the Beginning; and Our Final Hour. His newest book is If Science is to Save Us.

About the Book

There has never been a time when “following the science” has been more important for humanity. At no other point in history have we had such advanced knowledge and technology at our fingertips, nor had such astonishing capacity to determine the future of our planet.

But the decisions we must make on how science is applied belong outside the lab and should be the outcome of wide public debate. For that to happen, science needs to become part of our common culture. Science is not just for scientists: if it were, it could never save us from the multiple crises we face. For science can save us, if its innovations mesh carefully into society and its applications are channeled for the common good.

As Martin Rees argues in this expert and personal analysis of the scientific endeavour on which we all depend, we need to think globally, we need to think rationally and we need to think long-term, empowered by twenty-first-century technology but guided by values that science alone cannot provide.

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This episode is sponsored by Wondrium:

Wondrium (sponsor)

This episode was released on January 3, 2023.

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