pausetowonder

Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion, and the Appetite for Wonder

Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder - Richard Dawkins The actual science bits in here are great. Learned heaps about the workings of light and colour, sound and hearing... was even reminded that the idea of "superstitious behavior" in animals is attributed to Skinner (and not, sadly, my own idea). Much geeky excitement experienced all round by yours truly. Dawkins does a fine job of explaining complex ideas clearly and well.That's what was good about Unweaving the Rainbow.Sadly, what feels like way more than half of the book was spent painstakingly trying to argue people out of believing in astrology, ghosts, remote viewing, etc. using logic and scientific fact. Its starts about one third the way in. My problem with this is threefold:1) Dawkins is assuming that logic and scientific fact would have persuasive power for anyone believing in what he calls "superstition" or "ad hoc magic". (And really, why would it? I think believers would be the first to point out that this sort of thing is beyond the purview of science.)2) Dawkins assumes that these "deluded" people are reading his book. I can't say for sure, but personally, I would be surprised if a diehard believer in ESP or astrology would be interested in reading Dawkins' explanation of Fraunhofer lines, the electromagnetic spectrum and other fairly hardcore sciencey topics that fill the first third of this book. Seems like a different sort of audience. So he ends up "preaching to the choir" -- and there is something rather uncomfortably self-righteous about this. Not to mention dull.3) Dawkins (I don't mean to be unkind, but I can't think of any other to state the fact) embarrasses himself when he wanders out of the world of science and into literature and the humanities. Critiques of the scientific accuracy of Wordsworth poems or a fantasy story by Mark Twain are cringe-making.What Dawkins doesn't understand about human psychology is a lot. I think his whole crusade against religion has been a waste of a good scientific mind and has done a lot of damage to the discussion. His aggressive, dismissive and disrespectful approach has only put people on the defensive and set an unfortunate example.I was hoping for a lot more "wonder of science". Instead, I felt like I was getting lectured at length for something I didn't even do. What do I care about astrology??Anyhow, I was hoping for more wonders-of-science and less railing. Disappointing. Better books on science and wonder that I'd recommend:[bc:The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science|6885204|The Age of Wonder How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science|Richard Holmes|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1334680515s/6885204.jpg|4419518] [bc:In Defence of Wonder and Other Philosophical Reflections|14451025|In Defence of Wonder and Other Philosophical Reflections|Raymond Tallis|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1351014026s/14451025.jpg|20093424]

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