The Enemies of Reason (UK Channel 4) is Dawkins’ measured attack on post-enlightenment relativism, in its New Age “spirituality” variants. He sees it as a failure of education that we are increasingly coming to treat personal feelings as superior to reason. Views that would have been dismissed as ignorant tales for the credulous a hundred years ago are socially widespread now.
Dawkins’ arguments are pretty unassailable. He presents them in a gentle way, the more remarkable because a few of his targets are engaged in the most dangerous forms of woo – spiritualists offering false comfort to the grief-stricken; alternative medical practitioners who can just provide gestures to the sick.
All the same, most of the people Dawkins talks to are polite and happy to engage in discussion and even experiment, which makes a pleasant change from the polarised debates that normally characterise this sort of debate.
Dawkins points out the ironies that triumphs of science and reason, such as the Internet, are being put to the service of irrationality – with bizarre conspiracy theories and fundamentalism being spread through the Net much more easily than they would have before it came into existence.
Answering those people who claim that logic is cold and empties the universe of meaning, Dawkins makes the point that the real universe is infinitely fascinating. His enthusiasm for the real world makes most of the ersatz magic workers
This is the strange thing about woo. It starts from a position that the real world is dull. This perspective is very hard to grasp and certainly must be a failure of our education system. The real universe is miraculous. It is always stranger than we can ever grasp. Surely, the effort of using our feeble human consciousness to understand ourselves and the nature of the universe provides enough meaning for our whole species.