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The Science of Liberty

Timothy Ferris

The Enlightenment dates from Isaac Newton's 1689 Principia which employed basic experiment and math to explain the motion of planets. Demonstrated that careful observation and analysis could decipher the laws of Nature. And it showed that the same rules apply to the heavens as apply on Earth.

Science and democracy the two major transformations of last 3 centuries. Science rescued billions from poverty, ignorance and fear. Democracy spread freedom and equal rights to nearly half the world.

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Liberal democracies -> freedom of scientific research -> scientific creativity -> tech improvements -> prosperity (and democracy is itself an ongoing expt)

Some criticize science by pointing out its mistakes and flaws, but they're comparing to an imaginary ideal which doesn't exist. Only religions claim absolute truth and perfection, but their beliefs are easily proven wrong.

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Even intellectuals worry about giving freedom to everyone. The nagging feeling that something terrible might happen if too much freedom extended to people who don't closely resemble ourselves. As William Flew points out, there is always the temptation to ("temporarily") restrict freedoms for the sake of some future good.

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