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The Four Horsemen
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Here's a 2-hour discussion between the "New Atheists" or "Four Horsemen" or whatever you'd like to call them: Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and Sam Harris.

It's okay, but not all that great. I listened to in the background while I did some other work. If you're going to just watch one or the other, I'd stick to the second's got more interesting stuff in it.

I was particular struck by the exchange in which Dan Dennett says there are certain truths we probably would be better off not investigating and not knowing. Examples of these? They talk about the book The Bell Curve, and how if there really were genetic differences in intelligence based on race, that might not be something we'd really want to look into or know the answer to. Which I think is hogwash. A good scientist...hell, any rational person, should seek the truth wherever it takes them. One could use this same argument for not ever investigating the rotation of the planets or human evolution, which both made people feel sort of bad at first (and the evolution thing still bothers a lot of people).

Another example had to do with biological warfare, like the knowledge of weaponizing anthrax. And these guys should know this, especially Dawkins, that any knowledge is a coin with two sides. Just about any sufficiently powerful new discovery has the potential to either benefit or destroy. We learned how to fly, and that led to commercial airlines and bombers. We learned how to split the atom, and that led to nuclear power and nuclear weapons.

Knowledge comes with a price. There's almost always the potential to use it for destruction, but that doesn't mean we should forswear the search for knowledge and recede into ignorance. It means we have to be humble and seek the temperance and wisdom to use what knowledge we find responsibly.

I'm actually surprised and a bit embarrassed for these guys to sit around and seem to assent to a notion like that.

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