Over the last few years I have been seduced by scepticism. I don’t want to bore you with the details of how I got here, but what it has left me with is a very strong love for science. I was crap at all things science at school, which is unsurprising considering my boredom with logic and a preference for imagination (I did see both concepts as opposites, wrongly).
At the heart of scepticism is scientific thinking is proving very useful at work. Looking at consumer trends, the clarity of understanding the divide between behaviour that is guided by emotion and instinct, and behaviour that is guided by reason and evidence, often proves a good platform for predicting where some trends might be heading.
For example, the media is doing a fine job of frightening us into thinking we’re all doomed. We have the twin demons of environmental disaster and a financial depression (the media’s view, not mine), two ideas which together encourage a very powerful and irrational mindset.
Several surveys over recent months from the likes of MORI, Mintel and, today, CCB fastMAP, show how our immediate financial needs are eroding the once-sacred environmental ethical urge. On the other hand, there are claims that superstition and religion are on the rise.
These two trends are compatible if keeping up an ethical lifestyle, or consuming products with dubious benefits (like homeopathic medicines), cost us money, whereas going to church or avoiding black cats cost us nothing.
Apart from the everyday mundane things that give me comfort (like teasing the kids, beer and watching 24), I find spiritual inspiration from scientific journalism. There are the brilliant Guardian Science Weekly and SGU podcasts, amongst others. And in my RSS reader are ScienceBlogs and the famous Dr Ben.
So it’s no surprise then that I elected to watch David Attenborough’s ode to Charles Darwin last week. This programme included one of the most inspired descriptions of nature I have ever seen: the computer-generated Tree Of Life. Considering the weight of evidence that has accumulated over the last century to support the theory of evolution, I find it sad that dogmatic stubborness still separates millions of people from appreciating the awesome beauty of natural selection.
(WordPress is playing silly buggers with embeddable video. If it doesn’t appear at this point in the blog post, then watch the clip here.)
Footnote: one of the saddest things of all is happening in children’s education.