Friday, 9 August 2013

The science of Muslims and science

It's not easy when someone you respect makes statements that you feel the need to defend because of that respect. One such statement is Dawkins' comments about the lack of Nobel Prizes amongst Muslims. 

It's not that this is factually wrong, it's that one should surely be precise about the point that is being made and back that point with clear evidence and analysis. When a group consists of over a billion people, members of that group will live in such a range of cultures and environments it's much harder to show scientifically which factor or factors are responsible for a lack of scientific progress. It's hard enough even with a smaller group. Let's pick one - Americans:

The USA has produced many, many Nobel Prize winners and yet the USA is a highly religious country with much science denial. So what does this statistic say? Nothing unless you can focus, with factorial analysis, on the causes. Does religious belief influence acceptance of science? Yes, it does. 

Do certain modern Muslim cultures have a particular issue with this? Yes, they do. But sweeping statements about 'Muslims and Nobel Prizes' don't do anything to illustrate what the specific problems are - such statements are, in my view, meaningless. 

I can't defend such statements, and as a supporter of science, I won't, because scientists should be open about their disagreements with friends and those they respect, not apologists for certain views because of who expresses them.

So, I respectfully disagree with the validity of Dawkins' statement.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I always feel that Dawkins ought to word his statements with more thought. Although I understand the limitations of Twitter, it makes his certainly valid points come across as crass.