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Richard Dawkins at the University of Maryland - Comments

mklim's Avatar Comment 1 by mklim

Thanks. That will keep me occupied for the next one hour!

Tue, 23 Aug 2011 16:20:53 UTC | #863389

Inferno821's Avatar Comment 2 by Inferno821

I was in attendance and while I feel that it might have been interesting to a new listener, many of us came because we knew who he was and were slightly disappointed. There was little expectation that he would talk about atheism because of the groups that sponsored him and because the interviewer had vaguely referenced his displeasure about Dawkins' atheism in his Evolution classes. It would have been nice if Professor Castillo-Davis had asked him something that was more intellectually provoking.

Complaining aside, it was still very exciting to see Professor Dawkins live. The only Horseman I have left to witness is Daniel Dennett.

Tue, 23 Aug 2011 16:54:04 UTC | #863405

Peter Grant's Avatar Comment 3 by Peter Grant

Here's a torrent for anyone also having time-out issues with youtube.

Tue, 23 Aug 2011 20:35:24 UTC | #863495

huzonfurst's Avatar Comment 4 by huzonfurst

The story of the dead-leaf caterpillar was fascinating!

Tue, 23 Aug 2011 20:39:08 UTC | #863499

UncleJJ2's Avatar Comment 5 by UncleJJ2

Another good discussion with Richard (although mostly on familiar topics) and this time it was followed by an interesting set of questions from the students. Although one question at the end was bizarre and unanswerable.

Tue, 23 Aug 2011 21:03:33 UTC | #863510

The Plc's Avatar Comment 6 by The Plc

Comment 2 by Inferno821 :

I was in attendance and while I feel that it might have been interesting to a new listener, many of us came because we knew who he was and were slightly disappointed. There was little expectation that he would talk about atheism because of the groups that sponsored him and because the interviewer had vaguely referenced his displeasure about Dawkins' atheism in his Evolution classes. It would have been nice if Professor Castillo-Davis had asked him something that was more intellectually provoking.

Complaining aside, it was still very exciting to see Professor Dawkins live. The only Horseman I have left to witness is Daniel Dennett.

Really? I feel that the god issue is the mundane one. I'm reminded of Steven Weinberg's musing that his physicist colleagues don't care enough about the god question to be even be considered practising atheists. Scientific inquiry is far more intellectual intriguing and fascinating than all that. And really, what import would the existence of a god have on the real and important questions of science? As Dawkins himself points out, throwing a vague notion with the three letter word into the equation sheds light on absolutely nothing. It's entirely vacuous.

Tue, 23 Aug 2011 21:04:19 UTC | #863511

HappyPrimate's Avatar Comment 7 by HappyPrimate

A most enjoyable interview. So excited to see so many young people interested in science and in particular biological evolution. Gives one bit of hope for the future. The bit about the catterpillar at the end was fascinating. Didn't know that and I will be checking my garden for such things.

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 00:43:30 UTC | #863568

Vicktor's Avatar Comment 8 by Vicktor

"Got his postdoc at Harvard university in statistical genomics"? Since when is a postdoc some kind of degree?

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 01:09:42 UTC | #863578

jbyrd's Avatar Comment 9 by jbyrd

1

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 01:48:28 UTC | #863584

bogdan78pop's Avatar Comment 10 by bogdan78pop

that's how i've read the tittle : Christian,..... Castillo-Davis interviews Richard Dawkins !!!! Silly me, i thought it was another debate...but it's actually science...Love-it

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 02:55:56 UTC | #863601

RDfan's Avatar Comment 11 by RDfan

It's a welcome relief to hear RD talking science instead of religion. More science, less religion, please.

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 03:38:39 UTC | #863620

cdm's Avatar Comment 12 by cdm

Comment 6 by The Plc :

Really? I feel that the god issue is the mundane one. I'm reminded of Steven Weinberg's musing that his physicist colleagues don't care enough about the god question to be even be considered practising atheists. Scientific inquiry is far more intellectual intriguing and fascinating than all that. And really, what import would the existence of a god have on the real and important questions of science? As Dawkins himself points out, throwing a vague notion with the three letter word into the equation sheds light on absolutely nothing. It's entirely vacuous.

For those interested in discussions about scientific inquiry and for whom the absurdity of religious belief is a settled issue, discussions never really touching Dawkins' atheist and anti-theist efforts are perfectly fine. But these people are not the entirety of the audience Dawkins is attempting to reach. Atheism is an intellectually settled issue for me, but in the face of such vast social and political nightmares brought on by the absurdity of belief, the issue still needs to be explored in an educational manner. Dawkins is a strong voice in that educational campaign. If it is mundane for you, fine. However, keep in mind that there are those who see the importance of the subject beyond their own intellectual occupation. Expecting or wanting Dawkins to leave the subject of atheism alone simply because you are bored of it is a shallow and ignorant position which ignores the continued urgency for the shattering of religious belief as it erodes our political and educational systems. In some intellectual utopia I can easily see atheism as an empty and self-congratulatory topic. We do not live in such a utopia.

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 06:48:33 UTC | #863653

Functional Atheist's Avatar Comment 13 by Functional Atheist

Terrific video! Thanks so much for posting it.

Professor Castillo-Davis got off to a shaky start--he sounded nervous, and his early fixation on the word 'random' was unfortunate--but he improved as the event went on. Richard, it must be said, was in particularly fine form from beginning to end.

The caterpillar anecdote was charming and interesting, and new to me.

I was amused by Richard's response to the Terence McKenna fan--his tone and manner perfectly conveyed his barely concealed impatience with the profound silliness of the question. It was a thing of beauty--Richard remained respectful to the lad (even asking him to repeat McKenna's name) while making it clear to all that the questioner should sit down and stop wasting everybody's time.

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 08:12:07 UTC | #863666

Peter Grant's Avatar Comment 14 by Peter Grant

When questions about the survival value of the religious impulse come up it might also be worth pointing out that until not so long ago outspoken unbelievers were usually stoned to death or burnt at the stake or some such. There is much survival value in social conformity, or at least in the appearance thereof.

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 10:55:12 UTC | #863702

reasonisstrong's Avatar Comment 15 by reasonisstrong

i did not get that impression at all in Richard's reaction. why would such a hypothesis be wasteful? its a hypothesis. an interesting one at that. not a theory.

Comment 13 by Functional Atheist : I was amused by Richard's response to the Terence McKenna fan--his tone and manner perfectly conveyed his barely concealed impatience with the profound silliness of the question. It was a thing of beauty--Richard remained respectful to the lad (even asking him to repeat McKenna's name) while making it clear to all that the questioner should sit down and stop wasting everybody's time.

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 20:47:05 UTC | #863864

inrodwetrust's Avatar Comment 16 by inrodwetrust

Great interview, though the kid who introduced them needs some speaking lessons. Never in my life have I talked like everything was a question, and I am a college drop out (intentional).

I suppose I expect more from our youth than I should.

Thu, 25 Aug 2011 18:36:26 UTC | #864209

Hobomidget's Avatar Comment 17 by Hobomidget

This will keep me thinking for months. I like the way he answered the issue that mutations are seen to be random, but not. It's confusing really, some times I have to put my faith in science and call on an expert when times get tough.

I know it works, I know it as breeding or heredity. That is the level I am at right now. I will have to listen to this talk again and take notes. As the blind watch maker is my favorite book so far, I just don't understand all the ins and out yet.

Also Best luck on your secular Europe Campaign, I would go, but I don't have a passport.

Thu, 25 Aug 2011 18:45:13 UTC | #864211

blitz442's Avatar Comment 18 by blitz442

Comment 16 by inrodwetrust

Never in my life have I talked like everything was a question

This manner of speaking, along with talking very fast in a high-pitched tone and saying the word "like" every 5 seconds, is the result of a virus that originated in Southern California in the early 1980s, and has since spread across the English-speaking world.

I'm only in my mid-thirties, and even I can't stand it.

Thu, 25 Aug 2011 18:46:14 UTC | #864213

inrodwetrust's Avatar Comment 19 by inrodwetrust

Glad to see that im not the only one, I just hit thirty recently and it is like nails on a chalk board.

Comment 18 by blitz442 :

Comment 16 by inrodwetrust

Never in my life have I talked like everything was a question

This manner of speaking, along with talking very fast in a high-pitched tone and saying the word "like" every 5 seconds, is the result of a virus that originated in Southern California in the early 1980s, and has since spread across the English-speaking world.

I'm only in my mid-thirties, and even I can't stand it.

Thu, 25 Aug 2011 19:03:18 UTC | #864217

blitz442's Avatar Comment 20 by blitz442

Comment 19 by inrodwetrust

Glad to see that im not the only one, I just hit thirty recently and it is like nails on a chalk board

I actually took a junior staff member aside last month and, only half-jokingly, told him to stop saying "like" so much, and in general to stop talking like a 13 year old girl. But then I felt bad later on, because almost everyone his age at our firm speaks like this, and it looked like I was singling him out.

Guess I'll have to grin and bear it.

Thu, 25 Aug 2011 19:10:49 UTC | #864220

neil pharr's Avatar Comment 21 by neil pharr

One comment: It seems that biologists have not yet noticed the trend in biology over time toward developed mind, i.e., more advanced expression of mind over time. I do not see adaption to nitche as a fully satisfactory explanation.

Thu, 25 Aug 2011 19:15:22 UTC | #864222

Robert Howard's Avatar Comment 22 by Robert Howard

Comment 18 by blitz442

This manner of speaking........originated in Southern California in the early 1980s, and has since spread across the English-speaking world.

I had always understood that this peculiar way of speaking was called the Australian Interrogative Inflection, and originated, as its name suggests, in the Antipodes?

Of course, I could be wrong?

But I don't think I am?

Thu, 25 Aug 2011 19:25:33 UTC | #864226

blitz442's Avatar Comment 23 by blitz442

Comment 22 by Robert Howard

Of course, I could be wrong?

I hope you are right, because we Americans get blamed for enough things these days.

It's also possible that this speech pattern arose more than once.

Thu, 25 Aug 2011 19:29:32 UTC | #864227

Daniel Williams's Avatar Comment 24 by Daniel Williams

Comment 19 by inrodwetrust :

Glad to see that im not the only one, I just hit thirty recently and it is like nails on a chalk board.

Comment 18 by blitz442 :

Comment 16 by inrodwetrust

Never in my life have I talked like everything was a question

This manner of speaking, along with talking very fast in a high-pitched tone and saying tthe word "like" every 5 seconds, is the result of a virus that originated in Southern California in the early 1980s, and has since spread across the English-speaking world.

I'm only in my mid-thirties, and even I can't stand it.

32 and totally agree. Maybe its our age......

Sat, 27 Aug 2011 17:22:32 UTC | #864720

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 25 by Richard Dawkins

I had always understood that this peculiar way of speaking was called the Australian Interrogative Inflection, and originated, as its name suggests, in the Antipodes?

Steven Pinker tells me it's call 'upspeak' and it started to spread throughout English-speaking youth because of the popularity of Australian soap operas. It is now ubiquitous even among young people who have never seen an Australian soap: an interesting case study in memepidemiology, parallel to the spread of the glottal stop in British youth of all social classes and all regions. It is fascinating how fast language evolves. Upspeak is normal in French, but that is nothing to do with youth or Australia. In English it has a tentative sound to my ear, as though the speaker lacks conviction. It could also be understood as checking up that the target is still listening before going on to the next sentence.

But I'm like "Perhaps this whole conversation about upspeak and youthspeak is like irrelevant to the topic of the thread?"

Richard?

Sun, 28 Aug 2011 03:19:30 UTC | #864814

All About Meme's Avatar Comment 26 by All About Meme

Funny... This afternoon I just bought two books by Steven Pinker: The Language Instinct and The Stuff of Thought.

I think I'll cozy up to one of them right now.

Sun, 28 Aug 2011 03:50:15 UTC | #864818

calvinchan's Avatar Comment 27 by calvinchan

The adverb "basically" also tends to feature very frequently in their sentences for no particular reason. Along with useless fillers such as "you know what i'm saying", which is usually pronounced with a suspiciously fake Ebonics accent.

It's basically so annoying like dude talk properly you know what i'm sayin'? They like talk like this even in university and some of them totally major in English too.

Sun, 28 Aug 2011 06:33:21 UTC | #864831

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 28 by Ignorant Amos

Comment 25 by Richard Dawkins

Tut! tut!....pot, kettle.......Steve Zara will be chortling merrily under his breath when he see's this Sir.

I am glad to see that the request for nested comment-trees is not universal. I hope we'll consider very carefully before going over exclusively to that system. It does have advantages,not least because commenters often Reply without saying to whom they are replying, which can be infuriating. They probably forget that, during the time they are replying, somebody else may have inserted a comment.

Sun, 28 Aug 2011 11:36:17 UTC | #864873

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 29 by Steve Zara

Comment Removed by Author

Sun, 28 Aug 2011 12:27:52 UTC | #864882

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 30 by Ignorant Amos

Comment 29 by Steve Zara

Comment Removed by Author

Thought better of it then? I know, I was being petty and pedantic, it was a bit mischievous, the effects of last nights partying no doubt. }80)~

Sun, 28 Aug 2011 12:40:34 UTC | #864886