Compass: Enemies of Reason Cast: Professor Richard Dawkins
Running Time: two-part series
"We live in dangerous times where superstition is gaining ground and rational science is under attack. In this program I want to take on the Enemies of Reason." - Prof.Richard Dawkins
After his controversial 2007 documentary series Root of All Evil, evolutionary biologist Professor Richard Dawkins presents a new television onslaught where he pits hard science against astrology, tarot, psychics and alternative medicines. Richard states that there are two ways of looking at the world - through faith and superstition or through the rigours of logic, observation and evidence - in other words, through reason. He believes that reason and respect for evidence are precious commodities, the source of human progress and our safeguard against fundamentalists and those who profit from obscuring the truth. Yet, today, society appears to be retreating from reason. Apparently harmless but utterly irrational belief systems from astrology to New Age mysticism, clairvoyance to alternative health remedies are booming.
In this two-part series, Richard Dawkins confronts what he sees as an epidemic of irrational, superstitious thinking...
Episode 1: Slave to Superstition
Is it rational that the dead can communicate with the living and give sound advice on how they should live their lives? What about sticking pins into your body to free the flow of Chi energy and cure your illness? Or the bending of spoons using your mind alone? Is that rational?
Richard Dawkins doesn't think so, and feels it is his duty to expose those areas of belief that exist without scientific proof, yet manage to hold the nation under their spell.
He will take on the world's leading proponents in their field of expertise, meet the 'victims' who have used them and expose the history of the movements - from the charlatans who have milked these practices to the experiments and testing that have failed to produce conclusive results.
Richard Dawkins takes on the "New Age" and occult industries from spirit mediums to astrology, a spiritualist church and seances.
Episode 2: The Irrational Health Service
In this episode, Professor Richard Dawkins looks at how health has become a battle ground between reason and superstition. A third of the people in the UK now spend a total of over £1.6 billion a year on 'superstitious' alternative remedies, but 80% of those remedies have never been subjected to properly conducted trials. Richard criticises the growing field of alternative medicine which does not pass the same objective and statistical rigour as scientifically derived treatments using controlled double-blind studies.
Today science is treated with suspicion, perhaps born of fear and even medical advance is challenged by the march of irrational belief. While we indulge unproven healing 'magic', tried and tested scientific medicine is under attack. Media 'causes celebres' - from side effects to superbugs - have bred widespread cynicism about medical progress.
The danger of devaluing evidence has never been more apparent than when one survey of twelve children wrongly linked MMR vaccine with autism and yet prompted hundreds of thousands of parents to opt their children out of entirely sensible inoculations to ward off dangerous diseases.
Where once there was reason, now there is confusion...