Michael Shermer explains how a scientific way of thinking manages to improve the world in various kinds of ways. He describes how science and reason lead humanity toward truth, justice and freedom. “As democracy increases, violence decreases” is the theme of his talk. He discusses the death penalty, women and gay rights and so much more. He states that within these delicate issues, rationality and abstract thinking are the keys to increased awareness and democracy.
One of the central tenets of science is to define a problem to be studied with as much clarity as possible, and the key to clear communication is calling things what they really are. Unfortunately, both the American media and public intellectuals have failed to be honest in identifying what everyone in Europe knows is the primary source of terrorism in the world today: Islam.
In this provocative and compelling talk—that includes brief histories of freedom rights, women’s rights, gay rights, and animal rights, along with considerations of the nature of evil and moral regress—Shermer explains how scientific ways of thinking have moved us ever closer to a more just world.
At the book party to launch The Moral Arc on Monday night January 19 in New York City, the host Gerry Ohrstrom and the sponsor the Reason Foundation wanted to liven up the party so they brought in a couple of remarkable magicians and the famous science rap artist Baba Brinkman, famous for his “Rap Guide to Evolution” and, more recently, his “Rap Guide to Religion”, which is now an off-Broadway production in New York. To my utter surprise, before Steve Pinker and I launched into our “In Conversation” about science and moral progress, Baba got up and performed a rap song tribute to The Moral Arc, which, he said, he wrote on the drive over to the party! Now that’s creativity on the fly.
On Sunday, March 21st, 1965, about 8,000 people gathered at Brown Chapel in Selma, Alabama and began a march to the capitol building in Montgomery. At the front of the crowd was the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and they were marching for one reason. Justice. They wanted simply to be given the right to vote. They had tried to march twice before, but were met with tear gas, billy clubs, and rubber tubing wrapped in barbed wire. And both times they were forced to turn back. But not this time. This time President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered 2,000 National Guard troops to protect the marchers. And so for five days, over a span of 53 miles, through biting cold and frequent rain, they marched. Word spread, the number of demonstrators grew, and by the time they reached the capitol building on March 25, their numbers had swelled to at least 25,000.
Astronomy is a historical science because the distance scales involved are so immense that to look out into space is to look back into time. Even at the almost unfathomable speed of light at 300,000 kilometers per second, the sun is eight light minutes away, the nearest star is 4.3 light years away, the center [...]