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Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss in conversation at ANU

By johnboy 20 April 2012 91

ANU has published to YouTube an hour and a half of Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Kraus in conversation here in Canberra with this lengthy note:

Critically-acclaimed author and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and world-renowned theoretical physicist and author Lawrence Krauss discuss biology, cosmology, religion, and a host of other topics at this event entitled ‘Something for Nothing’. This video was recorded at The Australian National University on 10 April 2012.

Richard Dawkins FRS is the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford. Born in British colonial Africa, he was educated in England, where he now lives. He did his doctorate at Oxford under the Nobel Prize winning zoologist Niko Tinbergen, then was briefly an Assistant Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, from 1967 to 1969, after which he returned to Oxford, first as a Lecturer in Zoology, then Reader, before being elected to his present professorship.

He is the author of nine books: The Selfish Gene (1976, 2nd Ed 1989), The Extended Phenotype (1982), The Blind Watchmaker (1986), River Out of Eden (1995), Climbing Mount Improbable (1996), Unweaving the Rainbow (1998), A Devil’s Chaplain (2003), The Ancestor’s Tale (2004) and The God Delusion (2006). The God Delusion has sold more than two million copies in English, and is being published in 30 other languages. Dawkins is now editing an anthology of scientific writing for Oxford University Press, The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing. In 2006, to promote the values of education, science, and critical thinking skills, he established The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (RDFRS) which is now a registered charity in both the UK and USA.

Richard Dawkins has Honorary Doctorates of Literature as well as Science, and is a Fellow of both the Royal Society and the Royal Society of Literature. He has been awarded the Silver Medal of the Zoological Society of London, the Michael Faraday Award of the Royal Society, the Nakayama Prize, the Cosmos International Prize, the Kistler Prize, the Shakespeare Prize and the Lewis Thomas Prize.

Lawrence M. Krauss is a renowned cosmologist and science populariser, and is Foundation Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration, and director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University. Hailed by Scientific American as a rare public intellectual, he is also the author of more than three hundred scientific publications and nine books, including the international bestseller, The Physics of Star Trek, and his most recent bestseller entitled A Universe from Nothing.

He received his PhD from MIT in 1982 and then joined the Society of Fellows at Harvard, and was a professor at Yale University and Chair of the Physics Department at Case Western Reserve University before taking his present position. Internationally known for his work in theoretical physics, he is the winner of numerous international awards, and is the only physicist to have received major awards from all three US physics societies, the American Physical Society, the American Institute of Physics, and the American Association of Physics Teachers. Krauss is also a commentator and essayist for newspapers such as the New York Times, and the Wall St. Journal, and has written regular columns for New Scientist and Scientific American and appears regularly on radio and television. He is one of the few scientists to have crossed the chasm between science and popular culture, and is also active in issues of science and society. He serves as co-chair of the Board of Sponsors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and on the Board of Directors of the Federation of American Scientists.

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Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss in conversation at ANU
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HenryBG 1:03 pm 01 May 12

poetix said :

Yes, female genital mutilation is big in the Anglican church. Almost as big as lemon butter.

So you’ve kind of got the point: the beliefs that have backed-off somewhat from contradicting reality (eg, the major Christian sects). have the least outrageous irrational practices.

poetix said :

I find it amusing that you give these aggressive diatribes and then criticise people for being defensive.

Which is exactly the approach being taken against Dawkins: they don’t like what he says, they can’t deny the truth in his statements, so they complain about the *way* it has been said.

I believe that approach is now called “tone-trolling” – diverting a debate by offering inconsequential comment about the tone being used by some participants.

poetix said :

I seem to remember birder offering to explain his (or her, sorry, that’s a fault I must overcome) point of view on how science and religion can co-exist, and how science can not explain everything, and basically being ignored, except for pre-emptive aggression. It’s important to yell about evidence, while not hearing any alternative point of view.

I see you are confused. Birder wasn’t talking about irrational belief being able to co-exist with reason (which would be a nonsense, obviously), it was Birder who decided to bring up evidence, in this way:

There is both logical and scientific evidence that points toward something outside of the natural world – powerful evidence in my opinion.

So Birder apparently has some supernatural “evidence” up his sleeve. “Evidence” so powerful nobody else can see it.

A bit like *your* evidence of Dawkins’ being an arsehole: you admit it doesn’t exist in this video we are discussing. So he wasn’t an arsehole?

HenryBG 10:53 am 01 May 12

Bramina said :

As I have written before in this thread, I think what he says is correct. I just don’t think that warrants being an asshole.

And again, it’s worth pointing out that people whose wrongness has just been publicly identified are not the most objective when it comes to deciding who is being an arsehole.

Basically, Dawkins argues fact, and the deluded believers of fairy stories engage in ad-hominems in response – a classic error in logic on their part.

It is spelled “arsehole”, BTW, please try to learn the correct spelling.

Bramina said :

I do not see why being an asshole is necessary to prevent society from slipping into a dark age. Why is it being an asshole the only way?

Good to see you employing the full panoply of illogic here.

Bramina said :

Are there not other ways of influencing and persuading people? Are these ways not better.

Like, maybe, accomodationism, where truth is muddied and the people who are wrong are encouraged to cling to their wrongness, thus solving nothing?

Or were you thinking more of appeasement, a technique whereby the deluded imagine that bad things, bad faith and dishonesty will just magically go away all by themselves if everybody just pretends they’re not really there?

Bramina said :

As for people’s beliefs harming society, I think you assume that society would not function properly if people did not understand things, and then you conclude that because society has functions well, people must understand things.

But this is poor logic. There is no reason to think that the assumption that society needs people who understand most things if it is to function.

Right, because places with high levels of education (like, say Western Europe) are not vastly more successful societies than places where there is no education (like, say, Bangladesh).

Knowledge isn’t just power, it is also a key to economic success.
The Taliban are a perfect example of the direction that anti-knowledge would like to take us. And George Pell and anybody who makes excuses for him are taking steps down the same path.

Bramina 12:13 am 29 Apr 12

HenryBG said :

Bramina said :

So what you are saying is that Richard Dawkins being an asshole is the only thing standing between us and an oppressive religious state?

What is it that makes him an american arsehole? The fact that he’s right, and you’re wrong, is that it?

As a matter of fact, a bloke who stands up and publicly calls out institutional liars probably *is* standing between us and one kind of an irrational dictatorship or another.

A society where – in your words – “most people are wrong about most things” would be a society where we would find such charming practices such as witch-burnings, female genital mutilation, the sale of powdered rhino horn, suttee, etc….

I’m glad we live in a society where evidence is valued and where we are allowed to call out people who are wrong about things.
As we can see, those people respond very defensively to being called out, which is why they should not be all;owed anywhere near the reins of government.

As I have written before in this thread, I think what he says is correct. I just don’t think that warrants being an asshole.

I do not see why being an asshole is necessary to prevent society from slipping into a dark age. Why is it being an asshole the only way? Are there not other ways of influencing and persuading people? Are these ways not better.

As for people’s beliefs harming society, I think you assume that society would not function properly if people did not understand things, and then you conclude that because society has functions well, people must understand things.

But this is poor logic. There is no reason to think that the assumption that society needs people who understand most things if it is to function.

This flies in the face of evidence that people don’t understand most things. If you tested people on university exam questions in science, law, economics, medicine, etc. almost every single person alive would fail miserably.

It is more logical to say that society works even though people are ignorant of most things, therefore high levels of ignorance are not harmful to society.

There is plenty of evidence to corroborate this. Economics teaches us that people are specialists who only need to be good at their speciality. Historically, there is little correlation between the religiousness of society and how it functions. I could go on…

But I won’t.

Gungahlin Al 9:17 pm 28 Apr 12

LSWCHP said :

There seems to be a lot of hatin’ on Professor Dawkins here, and I just don’t get it. I watched the entire vid last night, and he seems like an intelligent, pleasant and witty bloke who spoke in a civil manner throughout. Based on what I saw I’d categorise him as a nice man, and I’d be happy to have him over for dinner.

What are the particular bits where he behaves like an “asshole” or is not “nice”?

You are right – he was perfectly OK on that night. Unless you’re a fan of Cardinal Pell perhaps.
At other times though…

poetix 7:46 pm 28 Apr 12

HenryBG said :

Bramina said :

HenryBG said :

Bramina said :

Jim Jones said :

Funny how the only criticism that Dawkins seems to garner is that he’s not very ‘nice’.

I was unaware that being nice was some sort of criteria for truth.

Put it this way – the truth isn’t everything.

Society works quite well with most people being wrong about most things.

Yes, and those sorts of societies give us the Spanish Inquisition and Shariah Law.

No thanks.

So what you are saying is that Richard Dawkins being an asshole is the only thing standing between us and an oppressive religious state?

What is it that makes him an american arsehole? The fact that he’s right, and you’re wrong, is that it?

As a matter of fact, a bloke who stands up and publicly calls out institutional liars probably *is* standing between us and one kind of an irrational dictatorship or another.

A society where – in your words – “most people are wrong about most things” would be a society where we would find such charming practices such as witch-burnings, female genital mutilation, the sale of powdered rhino horn, suttee, etc….

I’m glad we live in a society where evidence is valued and where we are allowed to call out people who are wrong about things.
As we can see, those people respond very defensively to being called out, which is why they should not be all;owed anywhere near the reins of government.

Yes, female genital mutilation is big in the Anglican church. Almost as big as lemon butter.

I find it amusing that you give these aggressive diatribes and then criticise people for being defensive. I seem to remember birder offering to explain his (or her, sorry, that’s a fault I must overcome) point of view on how science and religion can co-exist, and how science can not explain everything, and basically being ignored, except for pre-emptive aggression. It’s important to yell about evidence, while not hearing any alternative point of view.

People who do not relish aggression will simply withdraw. That doesn’t mean you are right, just that you use the tactics of a playground bully. My husband, for example, tells me I am mad to attempt to engage in any debate with you at all, that it’s worthless. But the issues you yell about are nonetheless interesting.

As to #86, LSWCHP, I base my views on Dawkins on a lot of his work, not just this talk.

LSWCHP 5:52 pm 28 Apr 12

There seems to be a lot of hatin’ on Professor Dawkins here, and I just don’t get it. I watched the entire vid last night, and he seems like an intelligent, pleasant and witty bloke who spoke in a civil manner throughout. Based on what I saw I’d categorise him as a nice man, and I’d be happy to have him over for dinner.

What are the particular bits where he behaves like an “asshole” or is not “nice”?

HenryBG 4:27 pm 28 Apr 12

Bramina said :

HenryBG said :

Bramina said :

Jim Jones said :

Funny how the only criticism that Dawkins seems to garner is that he’s not very ‘nice’.

I was unaware that being nice was some sort of criteria for truth.

Put it this way – the truth isn’t everything.

Society works quite well with most people being wrong about most things.

Yes, and those sorts of societies give us the Spanish Inquisition and Shariah Law.

No thanks.

So what you are saying is that Richard Dawkins being an asshole is the only thing standing between us and an oppressive religious state?

What is it that makes him an american arsehole? The fact that he’s right, and you’re wrong, is that it?

As a matter of fact, a bloke who stands up and publicly calls out institutional liars probably *is* standing between us and one kind of an irrational dictatorship or another.

A society where – in your words – “most people are wrong about most things” would be a society where we would find such charming practices such as witch-burnings, female genital mutilation, the sale of powdered rhino horn, suttee, etc….

I’m glad we live in a society where evidence is valued and where we are allowed to call out people who are wrong about things.
As we can see, those people respond very defensively to being called out, which is why they should not be all;owed anywhere near the reins of government.

Bramina 4:03 pm 28 Apr 12

HenryBG said :

Bramina said :

Jim Jones said :

Funny how the only criticism that Dawkins seems to garner is that he’s not very ‘nice’.

I was unaware that being nice was some sort of criteria for truth.

Put it this way – the truth isn’t everything.

Society works quite well with most people being wrong about most things.

Yes, and those sorts of societies give us the Spanish Inquisition and Shariah Law.

No thanks.

So what you are saying is that Richard Dawkins being an asshole is the only thing standing between us and an oppressive religious state?

LSWCHP 11:27 pm 27 Apr 12

Correction…Not much at all…

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