pseudoscience / Science · September 10, 2006

Richard Feynman

Before biologist Dr. Richard Dawkins became an outspoken critic of religion, another scientist had made it plain that he thought religion was bunk.

Dr. Richard Feynman, Nobel prize winner, (and my favorite role model) was perhaps the most influential scientist for a whole generation of new scientists. Feynman was a physicist, but foremost he was a teacher who loved teaching. New generations of physics majors dig up his lectures to read or listen to.

At a guest lecture that he gave at the University of Washington, Feynman said:

Looking back at the worst times, it always seems that they were times in which there were people who believed with absolute faith and absolute dogmatism in something. And they were so serious in this matter that they insisted that the rest of the world agree with them. And then they would do things that were directly inconsistent with their own beliefs in order to maintain that what they said was true.

In his speech on Cargo Cults, he speaks about having the scientific integrity to test the world as it is, honestly, without basing your tests on the supernatural, without lying to anyone, including yourself, actively or by omission. It’s a very powerful speech.

Here I’ve found something neat. The Vega Science Trust has videos of Dr. Feynman teaching physics to non-scientists. These are just regular people, and Dr. Feynman makes his lecture not only understandable, but also fascinating. It’s magical to watch, he is such a charismatic speaker. And when you’re done you will have learned something.