Richard Dawkins: The Magic of Reality

Richard Dawkins, the world’s most famous evolutionary biologist and one of science education’s most passionate advocates, has spent his career elucidating the wonders of science for adult readers. But now, in a dramatic departure, he has teamed up with acclaimed artist Dave McKean and used his unrivaled explanatory powers to share the magic of science with readers of all ages. This is a treasure trove for anyone who has ever wondered how the world works. Dawkins and McKean have created an illustrated guide to the secrets of our world—and the universe beyond—that will entertain and inform for years to come.

Now this is the kind of bedside book I like to read to my children before they go to sleep. The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True is currently available for pre-order on Amazon.com and will start shipping early next month.

[The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True – Richard Dawkins]

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4 Responses to Richard Dawkins: The Magic of Reality

  1. These are not "myths" in the sense Dawkins states, they are metaphors. Which we can hardly do without, our whole conscious experience is predicated on metaphorical thought (Jaynes 1976). To say that the sun is a "big ball of gas" is to evoke the images of "ball" and "gas" which may not st rictly apply to the sun. Whatever descriptions is used the onus is on the listener to infer a proper meaning. Across cultures this can prove problematic as some cultures will use different metaphors than others. While Dawkins prefers to refer to the sun as a "ball" though it is not strictly spherical, not made of rubber, plastic or anything else a ball would typically be made of, another culture may refer to it as a "disc" or "chariot" but not intend to convey the limitations inherent in the concepts of "disc" or "chariot". So the onus is always on the listener to discover a way in which the speaker's words make sense and correlate with one's own experiences. As Donald Davidson wrote "Charity is forced on us; – whether we like it or not, if we want to understand others, we must count them right in most matters."

    However, when one's self-worth is defined in opposition of some other culture, it can be incredibly difficult to allow oneself to see the other's point of view. If my sense of intellectual or perceptual superiority is bound up in misunderstanding your point of view, then it is profitable for my self-esteem to continuously deny any validity in your point of view. If you tell me a children story like "The Ugly Duckling" to prove a point, it would be profitable for me to hang on the fictional nature of the story, and assert that your point is predicated on myth and fable and is therefor invalid.

    An outline of how concerns of self-esteem affect one's world view and shapes behaviour:

    Also see the video on "Conceptual Schemes"

  2. "Now this is the kind of bedside book I like to read to my children before they go to sleep". Yap, he knows how to put you to sleep alright.