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The Enemies of Reason (2007)

TV Movie  |   |  Documentary  |  13 August 2007 (UK)
8.4
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Scientist Richard Dawkins turns a hostile eye on the world of alternative medicine.

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Scientist Richard Dawkins turns a hostile eye on the world of alternative medicine.

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13 August 2007 (UK)  »

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In part one of the series, when Richard Dawkins reads the horoscopes from the magazine, if you look in the window behind him you can see a printed page taped into the magazine. See more »

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Featured in Screenwipe: Episode #4.1 (2007) See more »

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Good stuff
29 November 2007 | by See all my reviews

It's great to see that science and reason has its own Michael Moore in Richard Dawkins. It's not just cool and amusing, but downright triumphant to see him ridicule and expose "alternative" medicine and other wholesale hoaxes. More power to him.

And yet - I'm not really that big a Dawkins disciple. I think he focuses too much on reason in his own reasoning. Now, I'm certainly an atheist and a science-minded person and all that, but Dawkins' critique of religion almost exclusively hinges on how irrational it is. Well, sure it's irrational! Religion is about emotion. It's about fear and insecurity, much of which is very understandable in the life situations of the faithful, who frequently have very tough lives (esp. in earlier historical periods, but also today). Yet Dawkins doesn't address this at all. He doesn't really cut to the heart of the matter; he only talks about what's rational. So it's kind of only addressing half the issue, but, all right, that's entertaining too.

As for something like homeopathy; well, it's certainly a bunch of nonsense, but, what's at work there is the placebo effect, and maybe this actually helps a lot of people. People who're insecure and have a deteriorating health because of it, might react well to assurances that this substance or that will help them, and their very belief in it will make it work - at least to some degree. I agree that it would be better if their problems could be solved in better ways, but as long as they can't be, the placebo effect is a useful and good form of medicine. Once social circumstances start improving (as we have to hope they will), maybe such things won't be necessary anymore, but can be replaced with real medicine (if needed).

Still, despite Dawkins' uncompromisingly rational outlook, I think he's on the right path and I hope he does more programs like this. He needs to look into emotion, though.

9 out of 10.


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