Wednesday, 13 December 2006

The Enemies of Reason

I am really looking forward to Richard Dawkins' programme this evening, the Enemies of Reason. Richard Dawkins is a bit of a hero of mine, as The Selfish Gene is, I think, the best science book I have ever read.

However, I have an uneasy relationship with him, as I do all of my heroes. These doubts are twofold:
1. I don’t actually hate religion as I know that my Mum effectively owes her life to it. He attacks religion with such relish that, whilst I basically agree with him, it makes me uneasy.
2. For all the evidence he will pile up this evening against ‘new age therapies’ there is a nagging feeling in me that knows that even science cannot explain everything. The scientific method is itself flawed, as anyone who has ever studied statistics will testify.

I think the area I can wholeheartedly agree with Dawkins is the area of funding. The NHS should not be supporting anything that cannot be empirically tested, after all, this seems the only ‘proper’ test of efficacy. Leaving the issue of funding aside, I share the same doubts about horoscopes and inviting angels to sit on your shoulder as Dawkins.

But a nagging doubt remains: if those same angels offer one crumb of comfort to one dying person, who am I to argue?