Wednesday, July 11, 2012

More Richard Dawkins

A few weeks ago, I watched a Q and A episode featuring Richard Dawkins and Steve Fielding.   It was from March 8, 2010.

I noticed that members of the audience laughed when Steve Fielding said things.  I felt bad for Fielding and thought the laughing was a bit rude.  In my post about this, I said that if it made him feel bad, I hope he remembers to act differently. when he's in a situation where his opinion is the one accepted by the loud majority.   

Today I'm watching the April 12, 2012 episode of Q and A.   This is the episode featuring Dawkins and Cardinal Pell.

Someone in comments mentioned Dawkin's behavior in this episode. Now I'm seeing it for myself.

He seems to be hypersensitive.  Fielding ignored the laughing...well, at least from what I remember.  Dawkins comments on the make-up of the audience.  He accuses it of being skewed.

Well, I just re-watched the bit to see what he said exactly.

I'm confused.

Cardinal Pen does a little monologue about Stalin and Hitler leading atheist movements. There seems to be some heckling during this, but I'm not sure.

Dawkins begins his response by saying, that is ridiculous.  At that point, there's very loud and enthusiastic applause from the audience.  This is when Dawkins turns to Tony Jones.  And I THINK he says....

Wait, I just realized there's a transcript of all this.That should make my life easier.

Ah, but no. They don't include this little aside.

Anyway, I think he says, Most unbiased audience you have here.  Or he says, most unbiased audience you have sent me here.  I'm not sure.

Maybe I'm deluded, but from my viewpoint it seems the more vocal members of the audience are on Dawkin's side.

Did Dawkin's think otherwise?

Or did he see the bias towards himself and was speaking out against that?

It would be nice to believe that, but Dawkin's seems defensive as he continues speaking.  He seems like someone who is angry for himself rather than someone who angry on behalf of his opponent.


I looked back at the transcript.

I found what I had been looking for. The unbiased bit WAS included. I'm an awful reader.

Dawkin's said, A most unbiased audience you've assembled here by the way.

I guess I could give him the benefit of the doubt and imagine he was NOT being sarcastic.  

I think, though, that this would be too generous.

A few moments later, Dawkins tries to make the point that, although, it may be human nature to wonder about why we're here, it does not mean that it's a valid question.  Some members of the audience laughed.  I personally didn't take it that they were laughing at Dawkin's idea. I could be wrong.  But I saw it as them laughing at his cleverness.

Who knows, though.  Someone else might watch the episode, with Steve Fielding and think people were laughing at HIS cleverness.  It's hard to tell sometimes.

What happens, though, with Dawkins is he gets angry. He demands to know what's so funny. Then he continues his talking in an agitated manner.

I've watched only fifteen minutes of the show so far.  From this point, I'll say that Dawkins isn't showing his best side.

He seems to be a bit mentally unstable. I've had moments like that. So I have empathy for him.

What happens to me is I DO often get a lot of shit.  I deal with rejection, unfairness, criticism, nastiness, etc.   Or actually, I sometimes don't deal with it. I take it in and bottle it up inside. Then through the weeks, months, or even years, I build myself up into an irrational state.   I get into a state where I imagine everyone hates me, and/or I twist people's benign words into something negative.   There's a little rational part of me that says, They don't mean it in a bad way.  But then I fight hard to ignore these rational thoughts. 

Maybe this is what Dawkins did for the episode?

I do wonder how he later viewed his behavior.  Did he watch the show and realize he sounded overly defensive?  Or did he feel his behavior was warranted?   Does he still think there was a bias against him?

Then I have to wonder the same thing I wondered about Fielding. If Dawkin's felt he was treated unfairly, will he now work to make sure other people aren't treated unfairly.   If he's on a show where he perceives a bias against his opponent, will he speak up if he feels the audience is being rude?    Would he even notice such a bias?  Or would he only notice or care if the bias is against himself?  


  1. Mr Dawkins is probably hyper sensitive but it is most likely the build up of sensitivity over time not just the show.

    He is a rationalist and constantly deals with people who refuse to engage in the debate at that level, no wonder he is a bit frustrated.

  2. Big Dog Talking:

    I'd say that rationality is in the eyes of the beholder.

    Almost every guest on Q and A has had to endure debates with people with whom they feel are not up to their level.

    Many of them have frustrations built up over a lifetime of encountering weak arguments, hypocritical thinking, and ideas that make little sense to them.

    For some guests this has led them to feeling hypersensitive and reacting in a anxious manner. Other guests are able to show much more poise.