Richard Dawkins interview Australian ABC television

Andrew Denton, a popular Australian interviewer and comedy writer, spoke to Richard Dawkins as part of Denton's "Elders" series. It was probably one of the worst interviews I've seen for some time. Denton repeatedly tried to take Dawkins where he didn't want to go - talking about his inner feelings.

Dawkins explicitly rejected opportunities to disclose personal feelings and that's his right. Denton asked for word definitions like 'wisdom' as a way of getting Dawkins to talk about himself. This obviously made him uncomfortable - he kept saying use a dictionary instead. I found, surprisingly, Denton continued this line of questioning instead of then changing direction to make the interview more effective. The whole aim of this type of "celebrity" interview is to garner as much information as possible - let the interviewee talk.

Finally the interview finished and Dawkins had virtually left before the final wrap-up.


Here's the link to the ABC. The transcript or video isn't there yet. ABC television page

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Comment by Alex McCullie on December 21, 2009 at 5:37pm
Kristy, well put! I would have preferred Denton to explore his passions now at the latter stages of his career and, perhaps, how these passions have changed over his lifetime. That theme would be in keeping with the "Elders" concept.
Comment by Chrys Stevenson on December 21, 2009 at 5:17pm
I've always felt that Dawkins is not a particularly 'warm and fuzzy' kind of person, and this certainly proved it. He's not a celebrity. He's not a movie star. We should not expect that his private life and thoughts would be riveting - or even that he would care to share them.

He is a scientist. His job is to speak about science and how religion impedes it. That's really the end of the story. I think it's a good lesson in keeping our expectations realistic.

Dawkins should not be idolised like a movie star. He is not the atheist's version of the messiah - and that's a good thing! Let's not try to build him up to be more than he is. Rather, let's value him as a scientist and an advocate for reason. We should expect no more of him than that.
Comment by Robert on December 21, 2009 at 4:31pm
Very disappointed in Denton. Trying to take Dawkins into personal areas he was very uncomfortable discussing. The result was one of Dentons worst interviews. I got the impression Dawkins was really pissed off but hid his feelings as best as he could. I wonder what their
pre-interview guidelines were - if any.



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