In October, Richard Dawkins will be promoting his new book about himself, with help from his fellow activist, Jerry Coyne. Coyne is soliciting questions from his fans with some telling restrictions:
Please, though, avoid questions that involve the following:
• Extremely technical questions about genetics or evolution. Those would bore the audience.
Dawkins is supposed to be one the world’s lead evolutionary biologists, but he is being shielded from “extremely technical questions (whatever that means) about genetics or evolution” because it would “bore the audience.” Yes, I’m sure discussions of science in a university setting would indeed bore most of Dawkins’ atheist fans. But I think we all know the real reason for this restriction – Dawkins would be too easily stumped by questions about genetics or evolution. His expertise in science seems to be in writing popular science books that come up with clever metaphors for natural selection. If you go beyond that, Dawkins struggles. And we can’t have Dawkins looking confused on stage if he was asked something about introns and evolution, for example. After all, it’s probably been years since he last read a scientific paper. If anyone would be bored by technical discussions or evolution, I suspect it would be Dawkins.
And then there is this:
• Snarky or funny questions that don’t have a point besides showing off, or negative questions that are really attacks in disguise.
Not only is Dawkins being protected from questions about genetics and evolution, but he is being shielded from any criticism. You can’t ask “negative questions!” Y’see, when it comes to The Dawk, there can be no skepticism about anything he believes or has said. After all, Dawkins and the Gnu atheists have too much invested in holding him up as one of the smartest men in the world. If someone had the gall to ask him a skeptical question, there is a good chance he would be stumped and this would hurt the Gnu Brand (consider what happened the last time he was asked about having evidence to support his child abuse nonsense).
C’mon. Why does Coyne feel the need to protect one of the supposedly smartest men in the world from negative questions and “technical” questions about genetics and evolution?
Clearly, Dawkins is being coddled by his fellow activists and acolytes.
So what questions have the starry-eyed atheist fundies submitted? Consider a sampling from below the fold:
- Would you like to be remembered more for your work in evolutionary biology or your advocacy of atheism?
- I’d ask about how he goes about writing: does he need solitude? does he find certain subjects much more difficult than others? how does he get around writer’s block? Are there any techniques he uses to help him write as clearly as he does?
- Richard: are you aware that you are ‘irreplaceable’, and that the light side of mankind will need you for decades more? Keep it coming!
- I would ask him about the role of social media in promoting science and reason. What strategies are most effective, for those who choose to adopt Twitter, FB, etc?
- My question to Prof. Dawkins: Regarding your friend, the late and still much-lamented Douglas Adams, what bit of his writing or commentary sticks in your mind as the most important, and which possibly other bit of his work still strikes you as the funniest?
- Dr. Dawkins, in your opinion, what are the greatest contributions those of us who are not scientists can make to the promotion of science literacy in America?
- Let’s call The End of Faith and The God Delusion the “kick-off” for the new atheist movement. How does Prof. Dawkins characterize/quantify the progress made toward the goal, which (to me) is minimizing or eliminating the effects of religion on society
- Any tips on how to navigate the sea of information we currently live in, how to assist young minds in developing a taste for wonder? How to find quality in the overwhelming quantity that submerges us?
Sheesh. It’s not surprising to see a self-absorbed idol receive such questions from his self-absorbed fans given the celebrity culture Dawkins has crafted. But it will be funny to watch what questions Coyne chooses to add to the coddling.
Let’s end it with a video that is sure to have deep meaning to fans of The Dawk: