Tuesday, 16 January 2007

What do we have to smile about?

Bad news sells papers. People like to hear about misfortune; it either gives them something to moan about or provides them with a little schadenfreude-inspired lift. Not here, though. Not today, anyway.
No, today we are celebrating the triumph of reason, the vanquishing of ignorance, and edge.org, the world's greatest website, which not entirely coincidentally has a feature in which top scientists and thinkers of all stripes list their top reasons for optimism.
Every year Edge asks a question. In the past these have included: "What's your dangerous idea?" and "What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?". This year's question is "What are you optimistic about?" The answers range from predictable (arch atheists Dawkins and Dennett predict the passing of religion's relevance) to the snarky (Karl Sabbagh's "The optimism of scientists") to the brilliant (all of it, really).
It's nice to see science being portrayed as a harbinger of optimism rather than as either the bearer of bad news or the dark force handing god a kicking. I'll return to science as a social phenomenon in a future post, but in the meantime please head over to Edge and enjoy some well written and deeply considered reasons to be cheerful.

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