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2004 World Technology Awards Winners & Finalists

Richard Dawkins

Please describe the work that you are doing that you consider to be the most innovative and of the greatest likely long-term significance.

A DEVIL's CHAPLAIN Reflections on Hope, Lies, Science, and Love. By Richard Dawkins.

''We are docile credulity-cows,'' Richard Dawkins writes in ''A Devil's Chaplain,'' a collection of essays that span 25 years of writing on evolution, education and science versus nonsense. In several pieces, he denounces the widespread popularity of pseudoscience. Many modern people, he says, are ''eager victims'' of irrational and dangerous ideas, like astrology, homeopathy and the healing powers of crystals. Along the same lines, Dawkins makes a case against organized religion. Though he is sometimes as dogmatic as the believers he deplores, his discussions of religious issues are intensely thought-provoking. Why, he asks, are questions that science has not yet answered -- like what ''made the spontaneous origin of space and time possible?'' -- turned over to theologians? Why is there an intellectual hands-off when religious figures pontificate on these matters? Representatives of religion ''claim to have some insight into ultimate questions. But what reason have we ever been given for taking this claim seriously?'' If Dawkins's view of humanity is dim, his zeal for evolutionary theory is intense. ''Light Will Be Thrown,'' originally published as the foreword to an edition of ''The Descent of Man,'' discusses what Darwin did and did not know in intricate, fascinating detail. Dawkins is creative, articulate and, above all, emotional.

Christine Kenneally

(from http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F05E4DE153DF936A35753C1A9659C8B63)

Brief Biography

RICHARD DAWKINS, elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in May, 2001, is a gifted writer, who is known for his popularization of Darwinian ideas as well as for original thinking on evolutionary theory. He has invented telling metaphors that illuminate the Darwinian debate: His book The Selfish Gene argues that genes-molecules of DNA-are the fundamental units of natural selection, the "replicators." Organisms, including ourselves, are "vehicles," the packaging for "replicators." The success or failure of replicators is based on their ability to build successful vehicles. There is a complementarity in the relationship: vehicles propagate their replicators, not themselves; replicators make vehicles. In The Extended Phenotype, he goes beyond the body to the family, the social group, the architecture, the environment that animals create, and sees these as part of the phenotype-the embodiment of the genes. He also takes a Darwinian view of culture, exemplified in his invention of the "meme," the unit of cultural inheritance; memes are essentially ideas, and they, too, are operated on by natural selection.

Richard Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist and the Charles Simonyi Professor For The Understanding Of Science at Oxford University; Fellow of New College; author of The Selfish Gene, The Extended Phenotype, The Blind Watchmaker, River out of Eden (ScienceMasters Series), Climbing Mount Improbable, Unweaving the Rainbow, and The Devil's Chaplain.

In his role as the Charles Simonyi Professor For The Understanding Of Science at Oxford University, Dawkins regularly talks to the public regarding his views on the wonders of science. On November 12th, 1996, he delievered the Richard Dimbleby Lecture on BBC1 Television in England, entitled "Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder."

(from http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/bios/dawkins.html)