Unweaving The Rainbow

By: Richard Dawkins 1998 Type: NF

55% A pro science book - tries to explain the value science against romantic belief.
Review : Tries to mix science and poetry, often waffles and over explains could have written the same book in 150 pages not 320, he tends to make a point and then spend 20 pages reinforcing it.

meaning : It is an important book cos without truth you can't make good decisions, so junk science is an enemy of the people. His book explains why "good scientific practice" is important and successfully trashes a lot of wacky theories.

Synopsis : Science vs Poetry - science is undervalued.
- facts can defeat romantic belief, but people don't like it
- Eventually science reduces romantic ideas. Light and DNA can be explainned as bar codes.
- Explains when DNA evidence can and cannot be reliable
- worried about normal peolpe juging scientific evidence.
- Explains why people believe in paranormal much more strongly than they should.probably doesn't exist
- Expains some of the problems against logical thought, e.g. our prehistoric brains confused by modern life, feminists saying logic is a male conspiracy
- Doesn't believe in Gaia, but explains how we are merged with other organisms
- other interesting scientific other bits and pieces
- humans are special cos they have language and imagination which gives us both poetry and science

Intro :
- Responds to criticism that book will seem negative, but it is a positive thing : to get rid of falseness, dreams etc.
- People are romantic, but surely reality is better than a tricked imagination.

- squids can change colour and convey messages. like inside of human brain
- Evolution timescale is so huge that it would take more than the Earth's matter to have an example of each fossil. Which explains missing links to evolutionists.

- Science and Poetry - science is undervalued.
- Science is insulted - hijacking, dumbing down- hostility from other field scientists
- courts take more notice of religion - science is seen as another myth
- X-Files bad cos reinforces bad science.
- Proper scientists admit their mistakes
- In UK culture people feel it's OK not to know about science
- whinge at media people feeling threatened and criticising science
- Until science defines, explains, you are allowed to indulge romantic dreams.

I think : when we don't know about something we imagine it usually in a romantic positive way
- digresses as he explains the science of DNA ID and when it's reliable ..interesting

Barcode of light
refracting light thro a substance reveals a barcode - so each substance has a bar code

Barcode of DNA
scientists sometimes get ideas from poets
way of analysing DNA produces barcodes, but there are problems
1. clerical - wrong name on sample
2. One in a million problem : In China red haired people are one in a million, but in a town with many many foreigners the numbers would be much higher. So if you caught a criminal and you arrested a a red hair it might be one of the other red haireds in town.
If the crime happened in Manchester and the criminal was wearing a Ulan Batar United T-shirt and you caught a man wearing a Ulan Batar United T-shirt then there's a million to one chance that you have the right guy, but if the crime happened in Ulan Batar then the chances of a false positive would be much higher.
DNA is not perfect, but better than an identity parade of less than a million people
national DNA database : would be good, but problems would arise : people finding out who there real father is
could be used in a malicious way, or eugenics
He says in courts scientists would make better judges.

- Moans astrology outsells astronomy - takes the piss out of it.
- If paranormal worked it would have been proved already
- uncomfortably- he adopts a scoffing tone e.g. ridiculous for companies to use diviners etc it might not be provable, but if companies feel in their experience works for whatever reason. What's wrong with that ?
- quotes Hume's reverse way of thinking " can only believe in something if the evidence it doesn't exist is unbelievable"

people are gullible
In a large number of people you get a large nuber of coincidences e.g. If 23 people in a rooms 2 will probably have the same birthday
- superstition - In tests when no probe to food pattern exists animals look for patterns and end up with superstitions ie it rain last time I danced, so if I dance it will rain.
- false positives - if some results arise in 1 expt it doesn't mean the case is proved cos in 1000s of expts will have good guesses
I would add that people are reluctant to accept they don't know

Argues that world has changed, but our brains are still hardwired to the old world. So our instinct is out of touch. There are more coincidences than we can deal with.
- Science often contradicts intuition e.g. heavy objects falls as fast as a light one.
Scapegoat - tradition from a jewish village
When we call for execution of a thief are we scapegoating ..i.e. thinking that he will take our sins away with him also. Instead of accepting we all have sins
- science words have been hijacked by newage crackpot theories
- Bee in his bonnet about feminism prob fueled by feminist teachers saying logic is a masculine conspiracy
Stats and probability can confuse normal people

selfish vs Coop
- scientists can get confused by bad analogies
- rubbishes Gaia as a stupid romantic notion
argues species in no way have awareness of the whole planet. They selfishly work for themselves. They can't see the long term benefits.
selfish vs Coop argues it can be selfish to cooperate
- Part of our bodies come from bacteria parasites, which have somehow merged with us so are incuded in our own DNA
- chloroplasts in plants actually first came from bacteria
- each organism is really a community
- termites have bacteria as part of their stomachs
- genes reflect the history of a species i.e. if it once lived in the sea etc ?

Conned Brain
- Brain uses redundancy techniques only takes notice of things that have changed
surely that means that one part of our consciousness is completely photographic, but I can access it completely with conscious, why is this. My brain knows exactly what the room was like 2 minutes ago. It's not really just scanned it all a millisecond ago only a fraction of it.
our brains con us half the time interesting hollow mask illusion we read a hollow mask as a face, but put it on a turnable see how it moves
We have 2 pics of the world : one from our genes another from our senses
- human brains are much bigger. Why ?
- maybe there is a link to communication, people with the best brains are the best communicators they can draw and handle language syntax.. really helps teamwork and hunting
- meme - a routine tool - e.g. how a bird can open a milk bottle
- The software in our head carries a copy of the world, put this together with language and you get poetry
- humans are the only species that, can guess what the world was like before they existed and can predict how it will change after.... surely this is a romantic notion

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