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Go to: [Update 1/27] Closing Statements - Richard Dawkins at the Jaipur Literature Festival

Serena's Avatar Jump to comment 10 by Serena

Hi Richard,

I understand that it is quite likely that I am biased. The two factors that I could identify now are time and, information (... as in "the amount of surprise", with apologies to Shannon).

The Selfish Gene felt like a Revelation. I was in my early 20s, and that was about 10-15 years ago. I even gained insights into human culture -- beyond what I read in the book. One example that I remember vividly has to do with the Mosuo of China -- a matriarchal society where the woman is promiscuous, and a man has no responsibilities towards his biological children, but takes care of his sister's children. With the gene-centered view, this made perfect sense. No such explanation was offered in the medium where I learnt about them (it was TV, IIRC). (Apparently, the Akan of Africa have this in common with the Mosuo -- something I discovered just now when looking up the name of the Chinese society.)

Though I have read and enjoyed your other pre-2000 books, I don't have as clear a recollection of the experience of reading them, or of the revelations or mini-revelations I got. I attribute it to their information content. (... the Shannon kind!!)

Of the post-2000 books, I have read just The God Delusion, which I did, the year it was released. By that time, I had nearly 20 years of experience in arguing against faith. (I started rather early, and am a 1st generation atheist.) So... The God Delusion was a low-information book for me.

And so... all this blathering was in the benefit of putting my earlier comment in context: I don't have a clue if your style has changed.

Oh! And... on double-checking now, before I replied to you, I discovered that I have not read beyond the first 2-3 chapters of The Extended Phenotype. :-D I have something to read now, after all! I'm sorry I gave the wrong impression about this earlier. (Er... any thoughts on the videos?)

Thank you!

If/when I have something more concrete to say to you about your writing style, I'll let you know :-).

Thu, 26 Jan 2012 21:15:13 UTC | #911847

Go to: [Update 1/27] Closing Statements - Richard Dawkins at the Jaipur Literature Festival

Serena's Avatar Jump to comment 5 by Serena

WRT the lady who asked if it was Richard's conscious decision to use simpler and simpler language over the years, and Richard replying that each was addressed to a different audience:

I'd like it if Richard writes books for an audience that has read The Selfish Gene and The Extended Phenotype. I consider The God Delusion "light reading"... something to read for a quick laugh, but essentially, I did not come across much that I had not figured out already for myself. (The Smolin bits were entirely new to me.)

Please, please, please.... write books for MEEEEE ! Oh, I'd also like extended video versions of The Selfish Gene and The Extended Phenotype. There! I announced my Christmas list in January.

Thu, 26 Jan 2012 18:06:51 UTC | #911772

Go to: Dawkins’s Theory of God

Serena's Avatar Jump to comment 23 by Serena

But I am a bit surprised the Hindu fundies did not come out supporting Rushdie...

I guess the most likely reason is this:

Thu, 26 Jan 2012 16:08:02 UTC | #911730

Go to: Dawkins’s Theory of God

Serena's Avatar Jump to comment 22 by Serena

Comment 9 by Arki : Is this for criticism, mock, education, exposition or just to get some gasps from fundamentalists who read an opinion different from theirs about religion?

My guess? None of the above. In my experience, most Indians don't get offended if you don't single-out their religion or their country. As for Hindus, Evolution by Natural Selection does not go against anything they believe or maintain as sacred. I think I can say this about Hindu fundies too. If Muslim fundies or Christian fundies had protested, Hindu fundies would have been busy attacking them. I think this is how it works in India. But I am a bit surprised the Hindu fundies did not come out supporting Rushdie -- maybe it's because Rushdie is a bit too blatant about his criticism, or maybe it's because Rushdie writes in English, a language Hindu fundies do not care for.

Comment 20 by Starcrash : Okay. It all appears to be factual, which is nice, but it doesn't appear to be a news report, which makes me wonder why it's just factual. Unlike the average essay, there's no thesis or assertions. It's nice to read a Dawkins article that doesn't offend, but how could it offend? The author doesn't appear to have an opinion.

I sense the attitude is more like "Richard Dawkins was here and he said some things just for us! How cool is that?!" I guess the paper sent out a few journalists to cover the event. Richard is famous enough and likable enough ('charming style', 'Dawkins moments') to... umm... cover.

I think it is a news report, so I prefer it opinionless. But I must admit, "[Dawkin's] strong views on origin of the universe" offends me. He has no right! ;-)

Thu, 26 Jan 2012 15:26:27 UTC | #911720

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