There are only a few biologists on Substack that I know of (Colin Wright is another), so I welcome the addition of Richard Dawkins’s new site, “The Poetry of Reality,” which you can find at the link below:
You can subscribe for $70 per year, but can also subscribe for free to get the occasional public post.
So far there are two posts up. First, an introduction in which Richard poses a series of discussion questions (I’ll give just a couple of the many):
Rather than write a manifesto in the form of an essay, I have chosen to cast it as a series of propositions or questions, invariably followed by the word “Discuss”. It is not my intention to pose these discussion points to my guests. Rather I intend, by this repetition of “Discuss”, to convey the atmosphere that I hope will pervade both forums, podcast and Substack. It should be an atmosphere of continual questioning, recurrent uncertainty, and I hope stimulating dialogue. “Discuss” really means discuss.
“There is a real world out there, and the only way to learn about it is objective evidence gathered by the scientific method.” Discuss.
“There is no such thing as your truth as distinct from my truth. “There is just the truth, and that means evidence-based scientific truth.” Discuss.
“Truth is not obtained by tradition, authority, holy books, faith or revelation. Truth is obtained by evidence and only evidence.” Discuss.
. . .What the hell is postmodernism? Have you ever met a self-styled postmodernist who could give you a coherent answer? Discuss.
What is a woman? Discuss.
You can already see that his site is going to attract attention!
Second, there’s a free post called “Evidence-based life,” a nice essay in which Richard argues that we should base our lives, as far as possible, on empirical evidence, avoiding “faith” or superstition. Here’s one paragraph from that, which I like because it’s related to something I wrote ten years ago (and in fact quoted Dawkins at the end):
Even expert scientists haven’t the time or the expertise to evaluate sciences other than their own. Most biologists are ill-equipped to understand modern physics. And vice versa although, I have to admit, to a lesser extent. In any case, nobody has the time to do full justice to all the detailed research papers in a journal such as Nature or Science, even if we could understand them. If we read a report that gravitational waves have been reliably detected as emanating from a collision between two distant galaxies, most of us take it on trust. It almost sounds like taking it on faith. But it’s a faith that’s more securely grounded than, say, religious faith. That’s an understatement. When biologists like me express “faith” in the findings of physics, we know that physicists’ predictions have been verified by experimental measurements to find accuracy. Very different from “faith” in, for example, the doctrine of transubstantiation which makes no predictions at all, let alone testable and tested ones.