DAWKINS: "SCIENTISM" IS A DIRTY WORD
AN EERIE PROPHECY OF COVID-19
Cognitive scientist Steven Pinker, and astrophysicist, Martin Rees have co-written a fascinating article for New Statesman. It’s all about how in 2002, Martin made a bet on the Long Bets website, wagering that “bioterror or bioerror will lead to one million casualties in a single event within a six-month period starting no later than 31 December 2020.” A little eerie considering the current circumstances, right?
For Pinker, who is known for his work showing how much the world has improved on almost every level over the years, this was a bit of a pessimistic take. Pinker bet that this wouldn’t happen, saying that the idea of an evil genius wreaking havoc through biotech, or some other man-made misfortune was extremely rare.
Of course, Rees wanted to lose the bet, and Pinker wanted to win, but unfortunately, they’ve decided to postpone the decision until the scientific evidence on the origins of COVID-19 becomes clearer. Both admit, however, that this may never be the case and that they may never be able to settle the bet.
Despite their differences, both agree that the world was underprepared for COVID-19, and that we need to prepare for the intellectual, moral and practical challenges posed by burgeoning biotech. They both call for well-crafted policies that recognise the equally positive and negative potential that biotech has on human safety.
What do you think? Are we too laissez-faire about the risks involved in biotech research? Or was COVID an unforeseen disaster that couldn’t have been avoided?
THE PERFECT TIME FOR GIVING
We Australians have end of financial year sales upon us, and the promise of tax returns may tempt us to finally buy all those things we’ve had sitting in our shopping basket.
Nonetheless, it’s a good time to pause and think about how just a little of that money could go a long way in helping the lives of others.
As you already know, one of the biggest influencers in the effective altruism movement is Peter Singer, and he’s received a nice little write-up in Tuesday’s edition of The Guardian Australia.
Peter says that if COVID has taught us anything, it’s that we are all in this together; and now that Sydneysiders are back in lockdown and feeling a bit blue – giving back is a sure-fire way to feel better.
Have a look at The Life You Can Save’s Australian website, which lists 20 charities working to alleviate extreme poverty. Every charity has been assessed as being effective and providing good value for donors.
Also, we are looking for volunteers for our Peter Singer tour! If you’re a fan of Peter this is the perfect opportunity to see the show and meet this incredible man in person. Please shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get in touch.