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

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

Richard Dawkins

Language: English

Pages: 352

ISBN: 0618056734

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Did Newton "unweave the rainbow" by reducing it to its prismatic colors, as Keats contended? Did he, in other words, diminish beauty? Far from it, says acclaimed scientist Richard Dawkins; Newton's unweaving is the key to much of modern astronomy and to the breathtaking poetry of modern cosmology. Mysteries don't lose their poetry because they are solved: the solution often is more beautiful than the puzzle, uncovering deeper mysteries. With the wit, insight, and spellbinding prose that have made him a best-selling author, Dawkins takes up the most important and compelling topics in modern science, from astronomy and genetics to language and virtual reality, combining them in a landmark statement of the human appetite for wonder.
This is the book Richard Dawkins was meant to write: a brilliant assessment of what science is (and isn't), a tribute to science not because it is useful but because it is uplifting.

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parentage. Now it is easy. All you do is take a sample of blood from the putative parents and compare a particular set of genes with the corresponding set of genes from the child. The verdict is clear and unequivocal, with none of the doubt or fuzziness that creates a need for qualitative judgements. Several young people in Britain today owe their citizenship to DNA technology. A similar method was used to identify skeletons discovered in Yekaterinburg and suspected of belonging to the executed

legislation, we have laws designed to protect us from manufacturers making false claims for their products. The law is not invoked in defence of simple truth about the natural world. If it were, astrologers would provide as good a test case as could be desired. They make claims to forecast the future and divine personal foibles, and they take payment for this, as well as for professional advice to individuals on important decisions. A pharmaceuticals manufacturer who marketed a birth control pill

that C matches A and a one in 365 chance that C matches B, therefore the chance that he matches neither A nor B is 363/365 (he can't match both, because we already know that A doesn't match B). To get the total odds of 'No match so far' we have to take this 363/365 and multiply it by the odds against a match in the previous round(s), in this case by 364/365. The same reasoning applies when we add the fourth person, D. The total odds of 'No match so far' are now 364/365 × 363/365 × 362/365. And so

some 10 or 15 miles away, where they were placed atop a tall tree, to symbolize the height of the clouds. Meanwhile, back at the hut, the men of the tribe would stoop low and, without using their hands, charge at the walls and butt their way through with their heads. They continued butting back and forth until the hut was destroyed. The piercing of the walls with their heads symbolized the piercing of the clouds and, they believed, released rain from real clouds. As an added precaution, the Great

cooperating. The unit that the Darwinian sculptor carves is the gene pool of a species. I have devoted space in the last couple of chapters to warning of bad poetry in science. But the balance of my book is the opposite. Science is poetic, ought to be poetic, has much to learn from poets and should press good poetic imagery and metaphor into its inspirational service. 'The selfish gene' is a metaphoric image, potentially a good one but capable of sadly misleading if the metaphor of

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