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Richard Dawkins Public Lecture - Liverpool 08 - Comments

decius's Avatar Comment 1 by decius

I thought this was recorded at the philarmonic and not in a tuberculosis asylum. Or was there an outbreak of pertussis in Liverpool?

Sun, 22 Jun 2008 14:58:00 UTC | #187797

HourglassMemory's Avatar Comment 2 by HourglassMemory

Oh, I think I've seen this one.
I'll watch it again anyway.

Something I do quite often is wander around Youtube and Google Video and search for new videos with Dawkins in it, or Hitchens or Dennett or Sam or anything that has to do with Science or religion or just critical thinking.

If anyone could tell me how I could send suggestions to the people responsible for putting new videos and such on here I think I woul suggest a few videos from time to time.

I find that I watch some video on Youtube and only a week or two later does it show up here.

Sun, 22 Jun 2008 15:07:00 UTC | #187799

LaTomate's Avatar Comment 3 by LaTomate

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jg8lCLumByw

That's one I wanted to share :)

Sun, 22 Jun 2008 16:37:00 UTC | #187835

SmartLX's Avatar Comment 4 by SmartLX

No, hang on, it's not the one from a while back. It's the same lecture, but delivered in a different place, to a different audience. I realised when he didn't announce that it was the largest audience he'd ever addressed, like he did in the previous recording.

That means the Q&A will be all new, and this is definitely worth watching.

Sun, 22 Jun 2008 16:42:00 UTC | #187839

HourglassMemory's Avatar Comment 5 by HourglassMemory

to La Tomate

I just hope that he still keeps this way of thinking at the present time.

Yes, he might have spoken about his faith and so on, so he could have the support of believers, but if he thinks what he says on this talk when he's alone, when he doesn't have to be pandering to religious people, then all power to him.

What he says on that video makes me really not care if he believes in god or not.

Sun, 22 Jun 2008 16:46:00 UTC | #187842

gyokusai's Avatar Comment 6 by gyokusai

SmartLX, exactly; that's what I was about to post after I watched for 20 minutes or so.

But why is it that people who postproduct such "webcasts," as it was indeed called in the introduction, for the, *gasp*, Web, are often so singularly inept at doing so? The sound quality is abysmal, there are gaps, the format (ratio) is all wrong, the sound trails subtly at times (especially so in the youtube version), and they not only show Richard's slides at the wrong times, but go unfailingly fullscreen on them as soon as Richard is about to deliver something funny via gestures or facial expression.

This is really driving me mad. But anyways, I heard a recording of that lecture before, maybe it was the one from Arizona, and the lecture itself is just phantastic.

^_^J.

Sun, 22 Jun 2008 16:54:00 UTC | #187852

LaTomate's Avatar Comment 7 by LaTomate

Hmmm, true it IS a different lecture. Watching...

HourglassMemory: I agree. I have loads to say about this, but I just wanted to share the vid (I don't know how to submit new articles and videos to be posted here). I did not want to hijack the thread :)

Sun, 22 Jun 2008 17:00:00 UTC | #187855

TeraBrat's Avatar Comment 8 by TeraBrat

I have a question about string theory.

We generally start with a hypothesis, run tests to confirm the hypothesis, write a paper, have it peer reviewed, repeated by other scientists and then it becomes a theory.

String "theory" is an hypothesis. It's never even been tested.

So why is it called a theory?

Sun, 22 Jun 2008 17:10:00 UTC | #187860

GodoftheGeeks's Avatar Comment 9 by GodoftheGeeks

That is the largest crowd I have ever seen Dawkins lecture to. Way to go!

Sun, 22 Jun 2008 17:30:00 UTC | #187870

equivocal20's Avatar Comment 10 by equivocal20

TeraBrat,

Here is the Wikipedia link. Go to the problems and controversy section.

Keep in mind that occasionally, people will use theory in place of hypothesis. This is incorrect, but quite common. This occurs for the same reason as people will say they weigh so many pounds, but they should instead be measured in newtons. (Pounds is a measure of mass and the newton is a measure of force). The same principle applies here to the string hypothesis.

Sun, 22 Jun 2008 17:46:00 UTC | #187872

Cobalt's Avatar Comment 11 by Cobalt

Wonderful lecture- Great Job Dawkins!! Thanks for sharing!

Sun, 22 Jun 2008 17:46:00 UTC | #187873

Quine's Avatar Comment 12 by Quine

TeraBrat:

So why is it called a theory?


Because in Theoretical Physics the development of models runs ahead of available experimental data. They get to call it a "theory" so long as it is not contradicted by known observation. Your point is correct, if they wanted to be logically consistent with the rest of science they would have to start with "hypothesis" and then wait for the experimentalists to test predictions.

Many are grumbling against "string theory" because of alleged intrinsic untestability.

Sun, 22 Jun 2008 17:48:00 UTC | #187874

sanjiv's Avatar Comment 13 by sanjiv

Comment #197764 by HourglassMemory

Something I do quite often is wander around Youtube and Google Video and search for new videos with Dawkins in it, or Hitchens or Dennett or Sam or anything that has to do with Science or religion or just critical thinking.


LOL....exactly what I do everyday, but I also look for anything from Dan Barker.

Sun, 22 Jun 2008 17:55:00 UTC | #187875

andreww's Avatar Comment 14 by andreww

Thanks LaTomate!

Your video link of Barack Obama talking religion:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jg8lCLumByw

has MADE MY DAY. He has really thought about this.
I liked the acknowledgement that non-believers (less threatening name for atheists) are ranked equal amongst the various religious groups.

It gives me (English) some hope that the US might just become a nation to look up to again if he is elected. (Of course, my lot aren't much better, but at least we don't do torture, offshore concentration camps, etc. yet.).

WEBMASTERS: this video link deserves a top level listing on this website.

Sun, 22 Jun 2008 18:01:00 UTC | #187876

TeraBrat's Avatar Comment 15 by TeraBrat

Many are grumbling against "string theory" because of alleged intrinsic untestability.


I agree with them.

I also think it's way too complicated to be right. Occums razor.

Information theory makes more sense to me.

I'm not a physicist but I know that a lot of physicists think that way.

Thank you for explaining.

Sun, 22 Jun 2008 18:03:00 UTC | #187878

SmartLX's Avatar Comment 16 by SmartLX

It's also the largest crowd Dawkins ever saw to lecture to. He couldn't actually see the other one, the lights were too bright.

Good Q&A session, mostly giving RD a chance to mention stuff he didn't get to. The last question's about Haggard, and the audience quite enjoyed it.

TeraBrat, string theory has been tested in a way. The tests so far have generally been purely mathematical exercises to determine whether known phenomena are accurately predicted, but that's still a test.

What makes it a theory, however, is the fact that rather than a simple hypothesis it's an entire system, a complete set of mechanics that can be applied to the physical world. You can make predictions with it, you can model it in a computer, you can stick it into a calculator.

I should mention that there are actually five different string theories, which explain and match various phenomena with varying degrees of accuracy. A new "M-theory" aims to unify them all, and good luck to it.

Sun, 22 Jun 2008 18:15:00 UTC | #187881

Carl Sai Baba's Avatar Comment 17 by Carl Sai Baba

LaTomate :

The obama video is thrilling, but what he says is a really easy argument to make. It feels so relieving to hear a politician say anything against theocracy, but he isn't holding himself to much. Is it really so revolutionary for him to speak out against murdering children?

Don't forget that Obama is still a Christian who goes to a "rock and roll church" as Hitchens calls it. He can go there for 20 years, and leftist atheists will dismiss it as political posturing, but when he says we should report child murder to the police, in ONE short video, suddenly he's the first secularist ever?

Sun, 22 Jun 2008 18:53:00 UTC | #187891

Zaphod's Avatar Comment 18 by Zaphod

I also think it's way too complicated to be right. Occums razor. "


Occam's razor isn't a law of nature. It basically states that you shouldn't make unnecessary assumptions. It is a heuristic for producing the most parsimonious hypothesis or theory. Quantum Theory isn't simple but it is highly accurate.

String theory could be correct but could never be testable. How amusing would that be. We would never be amused though because we would never know.

Occam's razor doesn't mean SIMPLE=BETTER. If you have two hypotheses that both explain observations then you should keep the hypothesis with the least assumptions.

Sun, 22 Jun 2008 19:32:00 UTC | #187907

TeraBrat's Avatar Comment 19 by TeraBrat

Occums razor- A rule of thumb stating that in the presence of alternative, adequate explanations for a phenomenon , the simpler one is the more likely to be correct.

Simon Singh
The Big Bang, p. 504

Sun, 22 Jun 2008 19:37:00 UTC | #187908

dragonfirematrix's Avatar Comment 20 by dragonfirematrix

Outstanding lecture!

Wayne (Forest, VA)

Sun, 22 Jun 2008 19:45:00 UTC | #187909

robotaholic's Avatar Comment 21 by robotaholic

Richard Dawkins is a superstar and my hero.

Sun, 22 Jun 2008 20:32:00 UTC | #187922

mmurray's Avatar Comment 22 by mmurray

@TeraBrat.

Occums razor- A rule of thumb stating that in the presence of alternative, adequate explanations for a phenomenon , the simpler one is the more likely to be correct.


It's not clear that there are alternative theories which cover the same ground.

@HourglassMemory. Email your suggestions to articles@richarddawkins.net

Michael

Sun, 22 Jun 2008 21:00:00 UTC | #187925

ridelo's Avatar Comment 23 by ridelo

If simplicity was the criterion in Occam's razor then goddidit would be the best theory ever. Even with a walnut brain you can memorize that.

Mon, 23 Jun 2008 00:08:00 UTC | #187949

epeeist's Avatar Comment 24 by epeeist

Comment #197937 by ridelo

If simplicity was the criterion in Occam's razor then goddidit would be the best theory ever.
There are other requirements though, like accuracy, testability and falsifiability. Goddidit doesn't meet these.

Plus the fact that you are introducing an incredibly complex entity, which goes against the razor.

Mon, 23 Jun 2008 00:26:00 UTC | #187952

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 25 by Steve Zara

I should mention that there are actually five different string theories, which explain and match various phenomena with varying degrees of accuracy.


Maybe I have been reading too much Peter Woit, but I don't know of a single phenomenon that has been explained with any physical precision by any form of String Theory. There have been things that look like insights (especially with regard to black holes), but nothing more.

Mon, 23 Jun 2008 00:41:00 UTC | #187956

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 26 by Steve Zara

Comment #197937 by ridelo

To expand on epeeist's point, God is problematic when considered to be a person of some kind. Minds are the most complex things we know of. Invoking some vast eternal mind fails Ockham's Razor in almost every possible case.

Mon, 23 Jun 2008 00:44:00 UTC | #187959

MPhil's Avatar Comment 27 by MPhil

Occam's Razor simply means "do not multiply entities beyond necessity".

At the dawn of human intellect, where no real explanations of natural phenomena were available, it was to be expected that intentionality was thought to be behind phenomena - and since intentionality requires a mind, people postulated a mind behind the growing of crops, lightning, thunder, rain etc...

...religion is stuck in this infantile notion. But we now have real explanations - we can describe the meachanisms, the causation-chains behind phenomena. These are explanations. "Goddidit" never is - it cannot describe the causal chains. It postulates direct fulfilment of the intentions of a non-spatiotemporal super-mind. Which is just a ludicrous concept. We need causality to explain intentionality and its fulfilment, not the other way around. It has no explanatory value whatsoever.

And since we can agree on the entities and phenomena in the spatiotemporal world, postulating a deity is never parsimoneous. If we can even conceive of naturalistic explanations for something, invoking a deity is always a multiplication of entities beyond necessity. And since it never has any explanatory value - it is always the worst possible "explanation".

Mon, 23 Jun 2008 00:51:00 UTC | #187966

Dhamma's Avatar Comment 28 by Dhamma

February 25th?

Has the internet slowed down lately?

Mon, 23 Jun 2008 03:03:00 UTC | #188019

clatz's Avatar Comment 29 by clatz

HouglassMemory:

If anyone could tell me how I could send suggestions to the people responsible for putting new videos and such on here I think I woul suggest a few videos from time to time.


Try sending an email to articles@richarddawkins.net

Mon, 23 Jun 2008 04:05:00 UTC | #188033

shad0w's Avatar Comment 30 by shad0w

Steve Zara:
That's why every physicist is awaiting for LHC to go online. It could provide the first evidence of string theory.

There are predictions of string theory that can be tested by LHC(like small dimensions, that particles dissapear to for example).

This is a very exciting time to be alive indeed! The LHC could provide an insight into the Universe that we have not had since General Relativity came about.

Mon, 23 Jun 2008 05:31:00 UTC | #188060