Queerer Than We Can Suppose

No, the title isn’t a reference to Alan Carr or Graham Norton. It refers to a quote by biologist J.B.S. Haldane, that the world is "not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose." It is also the title of a talk by Richard Dawkins, given at Oxford in July last year.

Clearly this talk was given at a time when Dawkins’ was consolidating and preparing his thoughts for The God Delusion. For the benefit of those who are put off by the title of that book, neither the talk nor the book carry the degree of negativity that you might suppose. Both are, as anyone who has read Dawkins before will expect, more about promoting a scientific world view than it about denigrating a non-scientific one.

The central point of the talk is the proposition that our view of the universe is dependent on our position within it, specific that we exist on a medium scale neither small enough to innately comprehend quantum effects nor large enough to grasp galactic scales. That therefore we are naturally unable to grasp the nuances of the oddness of the universe.

Anyone else who likes to play a game of "Where’s Douglas?" when listening to or reading Dawkins will note that the game is becoming increasingly easy. To be fair, if I had been friends with Douglas Adams I’d go on about it the whole time too.