4What Can Be Done? From the Democracy of the Gullible to the Democracy of Enlightenment

4.1. The hope of the astrophysicist

On September 25th 2011, at France Inter, I was invited to discuss, with a renowned astrophysicist, the relationship between science and belief. My interlocutor was André Brahic, a researcher who discovered the Neptune rings, and was a member of the scientific teams in the Cassini and Voyager missions. A specialist of our solar system, he has, among other things, written splendid works about the planets that we are familiar with. We went over some of the strange beliefs that pervade our contemporary world and we had to inevitably ask ourselves the question: why? Why have beliefs not been weeded out from a world where science exists and knowledge never stops making progress? André Brahic had ideas about a lot of topics and he has one about this matter. In his opinion, there was an irrational part in the human spirit and that could undoubtedly be undermined due to education. People embrace questionable ideas because they do not have enough education. We did not debate too much this rather technical point, but undoubtedly this was the only disagreement during an otherwise friendly program.

Although I did not agree with him, it must be acknowledged that it is the first reasonable idea that comes to mind when we attest to the power of the empire of beliefs in our contemporary world. We must differentiate two things on this point: why beliefs last in general ...

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