Science and Critical Thinking

Science and Critical Thinking

2009, Science  -    -  Playlist 106 Comments
Ratings: 8.67/10 from 331 users.

Produced by the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, this compilation titled Science and Critical Thinking presents a series of convincing vignettes designed to celebrate the power of science from unique perspectives. Each enlightening segment features insights from a panel of philosophers, professors, scientists and professional skeptics. At the center of it all is Dawkins himself, a renowned figure who started his foundation as a means of spreading the gospel of evolution, and preventing its extinction from classrooms and other forums throughout the world.

These evolutionary principles are illustrated in several of the segments hosted by Dawkins, including one titled Saddles and Domes: Evolution of the Giant Tortoises. In this vignette, Dawkins explores the capacity of these fascinating creatures to adapt to new environments, particularly through the reformation of their protective shells. In another segment titled Why Are There Still Chimpanzees?, Dawkins explains our evolutionary relationship with the planet's hierarchy of primates. Psychology professor Robert Seyfarth continues the exploration of the primate by examining the calls of the vervet monkey, which may serve as an indication of our earliest forms of language.

The material contained in Science and Critical Thinking serves an important function, especially in the midst of a society which too often trades the value of scientific reasoning for conspiracies, shallow speculations and ill-considered teachings. "You equip yourself with information about the world to be literate across the whole range, and especially to be scientifically literate," says A.C. Grayling, a revered philosopher and one of the film's distinguished hosts. "To be an informed participant in the great conversation of mankind is to have an alert awareness and understanding of what's happening in the world.'

In Grayling's view, skepticism and critical thinking are paramount to leading a worthwhile existence and realizing the potential of your humanity; a sentiment echoed throughout the instructions of each illuminating segment of the film.

Fast-paced, engrossing and informative, Science and Critical Thinking explores our relationship to and continued understanding of the evolutionary process, the evidence of which we witness across nearly every aspect of our daily environment and in the farthest reaches of the globe.

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Chris Lucy
3 years ago

This doc tries to hammer home the hypnotic brainwashing mantra ‘science reveals truth’ - and everyone questioning ‘science’ is an idiot. However, this doc fails to acknowledge the real truth. that corrupt organisations exist to hide the truth and those wishing to deceive, will use ‘science’ to prevent the canny ones (who smell a big fat dead rat), from exposing the deceptions, while using the ‘buck stops here’ science-block for defending their lies (at times blatant), masquerading as truths. Always do your own research.

3 years ago

"Why should we believe the skeptics? You shouldn't...", he said, funny how he breaks his own premise in demanding that alternative views to evolution have no place in academy.
But let's dissect his thinking.
The cosmos background explorer, COBE found the universe to be 74% dark energy, 22% dark matter and only 4% visible matter, now all our science is based on visible matter, planets, stars and galaxies, but our planet is so small it fits 1,300,000 times in the sun which is not the largest star in the universe.
Here is the question: with such a small sample, how reliable is your data to extrapolate to the whole universe? But it gets even worst, up to the 19th century, classical physics had a hold on science, but with the advent of quantum mechanics, many of these principles are left wanting. For one, the uncertainty principle said that the most you know of a particle, the less you can assert anything about it. A very real contradiction and a stop to any human attempt to explain the cosmos. All we can propose is just a probability of something happening!
Now in terms of evolution, humans are just not another species. You don't see a dog, a bird, a fish..pausing to think: where am I going? Where did I come from? Am I treating my fellows along the Golden Rule? See we are different, we have a soul and this opens up men to the spiritual life. God does not reveal himself to academics, he shows himself in nature's intrinsic details, in the anthropic principle, everyday he is open for anyone that looks to him,...but you must believe that he exist. Think about this, we all get to know our parents thru faith, we trust that they are our parents. How will they feel if we demand a DNA test before we accept them? That's how God feels when when you demand DNA from God.
...and don't call satan ancient demon possession, there are many books, videos, movies, witnesses of actual demon possession, here you fail to investigate the claims of your antagonists, in spite of your claims at the beginning of the film.
Your biases are latent, and they have eternal consequences,...the smart thing is to find out if God is for real.
Will you challenge my God?

5 years ago

Scientism masquerading as science. The base assumption is that only the material is real, and consciousness is either an illusion or an artifact of the physical. This they adhere to in the face of strong evidence that consciousness exists independently of the material world, and is perhaps the fundamental reality. It's alright to hold this view of reality, but one can't call it science when there is zero openness to revision based on experimental results. Richard Dawkins wouldn't even deign to look at Rupert Sheldrake's slides when the two debated. He's no more open-minded than the most committed religious fundamentalist. I love the way Alex T. at Skeptico takes on these diehard materialists - nice to see somebody hit them with the hard questions and expose the rigidity and internal contradictions of their belief system.

This film also fails to recognize the corruption of the institutions and processes of science. As with nearly everything else, big money and political clout often call the shots in science, overriding experimental results and merit. It’s an open secret that the gag rule for submitted scientific papers is often violated when a paper threatens the status quo, and a defense mounted prior to publication (if the paper isn't outright blackballed from publication). It wasn't proper science that led to GMOs being granted "Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS)" status or being declared "substantially equivalent" to conventional crops, it was big bucks and political hardball. Harvard Medical School ran a study designed (in part) to find remedies to flaws in the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), but when they concluded - based on their results - that VAERS underreports adverse events by over 99%, the CDC dropped all contact with them and the study was ignored. Was that good science? How about the Benveniste affair, in which the French researcher was ridiculed and marginalized for the offense of reporting experimental results that gave credence to homeopathy? Benveniste’s team was branded as sloppy and their published paper in the journal Nature was retracted. The fact that 3 other labs had independently replicated Benveniste’s results, their principals’ names also appearing on the study, was ignored in favor of isolating Benveniste and his team as quacks at the periphery of science. Similarly, many excellent studies have been conducted, supporting the reality of psi phenomena, but mainstream science will never accept the results. They bring up one theoretical problem after another, and when subsequent experiments eliminate the possibility of those issues, "skeptics" dream up new theoretical problems. Meanwhile, convenient science can be sloppy indeed, with little or no consequences, as when drug companies use previously approved vaccines or toxic adjuvants as “placebos” to test vaccine safety.

It’s a good idea to develop “baloney detection” skills as advocated by this film, but if the standards were applied equally to all sources, not just those challenging the status quo, many “skeptic” websites and skeptic scientists would be deemed highly suspect. Skeptics are often heavily financed by the medical industrial complex, for example, and aren’t going to bite the hand that feeds them. They will automatically attack any science that threatens the interests of their benefactors. Moreover, some of these baloney detection points seem to be thinly disguised excuses rather than legitimate reasons to reject alternative science. For example, the second toolkit point, “Does the source make similar claims?” is really “guilt by association” in nicer clothing. Oh, so-and-so says the experimental evidence for the reality of psi is good, but did you know, he also believes in extraterrestrials? A nice little tool, indeed, to sweep away inconvenient science.

5 years ago

"whats all this politics stuff, well it's because we are people" gives example of right wing denial of climate change.
"remove politics and ideology".

what sort of reasoning is this ?
how does this mean ideology is the problem ?
all I can gather from that is right wing ideology is a problem.

5 years ago

Anything with Richard Dawkins is always a case of selective truth and narrow viewpoint.

Dave A.
6 years ago

Whenever I read people dismissing absolutelly well stablished scientific standards I realize it's people who haven't got the slightiest hint of a remote clue about science. They come up with outdated theories, already debunked 3rd party hypothesis, misunderstood concepts... Just a few examples:
- We have actually already witnessed speciation real time both in laboratory conditions and in nature, in some insects and fish.
- Even if we did not have one single fossile, evolution would still be an undeniable fact of which we have an inmense amount of evidence thanks to genetics.
- We have already seen many other solar systems in many different stages of their formation. We know exactly how ours formed.
- "Something coming out of nothing" is happening all the time at the quantum level.
- Dark matter is there and we know exactly where to find it and how to detect it. We just don't know what it is... yet.
- The Big Bang did happen and we actually know exactly how the universe evolved from just a tiny fraction of a second right after the "explosion" (and no, it was not an actual explosion).
- "What was there before the Big Bang?". If you use this question to question science you are only showing, again, you have no clue. Time started with the Big Bang. There is no "before the Big Bang", time didn't exist until then.

I could go on for ages with examples like this. Those are just a few.

David Harding
8 years ago

planets gravitational influence upon each other and in comparison with their host star are negligible. The stars are kept in stasis by the collective gravitational pull in all directions balanced against centripetal force.

8 years ago

What these smug and pompous recent run of Dawkins types neglect to mention is that each and every one of their fundamental premises are unprovable and called theory, but are really only speculation. The "cause" of the Big Bang, the "proofs" for (macro)evolution, the ambiguous and contradictory answers given for fundamental matters of empirical science (age of the Earth, number of stars in our own galaxy...the temperature on Mars...the nature of gravity, the reason for aging and the procession of time, etc.), all of these amount to guessing and speculation, in fact with no more claim to "truth" or "reality" than a bevy of gods creating the universe on a whim. THIS is their religion, a baseless, essentially moral-less commitment to, at best, the majority opinion in contemporary science. That this is good enough, in this day and age, that is, that parroting today's science as your religion of choice is better than, oh, belief in God and Creation, is so laughable it hardly merits discussion. And that they do not define their commitment to these unproven speculations as a religion, or exactly like one, makes it even funnier.

Jean-Claude Lafond
8 years ago

What about evidence that has been Suppressed due to economical, political reasons. What I don't understand nothing was brought up the key factors for the confusion of the Scientific process. This Documentary forgot about liars, conspirators and very corrupt individuals who would have the money and the means to suppress great technologies which would be discredited for economic sense. I like some of the Baloney question, but there is huge flaw in his logic.... the flaw in not acknowledging the innate corruption of Human Beings.... What I love is how he takes the same positions has Conspirators... this Documentary does so by shutting the mind of possibilities... Possibilities is what makes like worth living. All science is bias, and is based upon certain data that Human Beings create... if science data was manipulated and giving to other scientist to duplicate how could you prove the possibilities that it could work. Like the data suppression from Pharmaceuticals about Prozac, but if you are a Doctor or a Scientist you can't be wrong? I am not skeptical of the scientific process I am skeptical of the Scientist who apply the scientific process and then claim a certain truth because MONEY was the driven force behind collecting the data. We fail to see that MONEY IS THE TRUE corruption of the Scientific Process and Skeptics should be skeptical of that more so... I can't believe that was not more of an focus on that problem regarding the Scientific Process... MONEY... Ladies and Gentlemen... So as soon as you have a Company who is doing research where money is involved there will always be bias within the Scientific Community even among the most reputable of Scientist.... This Documentary needs more serious thought than just regurgitating Scientific Hypothesis...

Janeen Clark
8 years ago

i never wanted to be an atheist , for many years i researched the toatl human knowledge regarding different fields and disciplines and as a greater understanding began to emerge my ideas where forced to change in order to conform to reality. i am now an atheist. i wish i could live forever and not have to face my mortality and those i love but there is no justification for such non-sense. my thoughts and language used in my mind is not what is real , reality dictates what the truth is. however i learned conscious creatures are so much more valuable than if they did have an eternal life.

8 years ago

Well wasn't that special, I was hooked up until Shermer bought up deniers as his first point of contention. I could see it oozing from his frontal lobe, how he wished to inject that personal opinion into the conversation. Strange coming from the self-professed skeptic himself, seems a bit contradictory. I hate to be the one to tell Shermer that science also picks and chooses it's evidence to slant in specific directions. Empirical evidence has become so bastardized by politicisms, it can rarely be trusted by anyone anymore, now that's skepticism. That's why I made it a full two minutes before rejecting it.

Ivar Nielsen
8 years ago

I just wonder what kind of "Baloney Detection Kit skills" are needed in this case:

1) Planets in our Solar System orbits gravitationally with DIFFERENT orbital velocities around the Sun as the gravity center, according to the celestial laws of Keplar and Newton

2) Stars in the Milky Way galaxy orbits aroud the galactic gravity center with the SAME velocity compared to the center.

3) The supposed solution to this gravitational difference should be "dark matter".

4) But even if finding any "dark matter" this doesn´t and can NEVER explain the orbital and gravitational difference anyway.

Take THAT "Science and Critical Thinking"! Come up with a kit to solve this insolvable contradiction before solving all other possible baloneys.

22sojourner .
8 years ago

45 seconds in ...

I realized I couldn't stand listing to any more B.S. ...