Dawkin's The Selfish Gene, 30yrs On...
March 26, 2006 10:39 AM   Subscribe

The night's event featured speakers Daniel C. Dennett, Matt Ridley, Sir John Krebs, Ian McEwan, and -- the man himself -- Richard Dawkins. It was, as you might suspect (based on the title), an event celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of Dawkins' seminal work. If you didn't get a chance to attend, you can still read the full transcript or stream/download the audio of it in MP3 format (many thanks to Helena Cronin, founder/director of Darwin@LSE, for hosting the file). Thanks to 3QD for the link.
posted by Moody834 (20 comments total)

He IS the man.
posted by ChasFile at 10:56 AM on March 26, 2006

Cool post Moody834.
posted by bardic at 10:59 AM on March 26, 2006

thanks for the post. i requested tickets for this but was too late. good to see edge has made the entire program available.
posted by tnai at 11:03 AM on March 26, 2006

Cue snarky comments about Dawkins. Heck, maybe we could get a good Dawkins-vs-Gould flame war going. I'll go get some torches.

Thanks, Moody834; I'm looking forward to listening to this one. Glad to know that solid popular science still has some supporters.
posted by medialyte at 11:10 AM on March 26, 2006

No snarky comments about Dawkins from me. I love the man. He's a hero, as is anyone who vociferously and relentlessly sticks it to the god squad.
posted by Decani at 11:32 AM on March 26, 2006

I was there, second row, liveblogging it. It was pretty good. It's well worth grabbing the MP3 of it.
posted by tommorris at 11:42 AM on March 26, 2006

I still havn't forgiven Dawkins for starting that whole meme business.
posted by afu at 12:51 PM on March 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

Richard Dawkins. Yes. A brilliant man. A graceful writer (however much he's tarnishing his reputation by his intemperate, unscientific attacks on religion). But Ian McEwan? The novelist laureate of the humorless class? Who invited him?
posted by Faze at 1:43 PM on March 26, 2006

And, according to Daniel C. Dennett, such pieces are examples of the sin of Xism:

"When you can't stand the implications of some scientific discipline X, but can't think of any solid objections, you brand them instances of the sin of Xism and then you don't have to take them seriously!"

afu, beware Xism.

And if anyone's the man, it's Romana's. Speaking of which, it's so cool that she and her husband both have asteroids named after them (although his is cooler).

In cases where the conflict is very strong, like males attracting females when the females are reluctant to mate, the arms race between manipulation and resistance results in an escalation.

Somehow, I knew that somewhere in this talk would be something that encapsulates our times.
posted by dhartung at 1:46 PM on March 26, 2006

If an important measure of a man is his enemies, Dawkins certainly measures well: hated equally by the Creationism-in-schools set and the welfare-and-affirmative-action set (who will never forgive him for sociobiology).
posted by MattD at 1:46 PM on March 26, 2006

Good post, which also reminded me that I still need to download The Root of All Evil?...thanks, Moody.
posted by youarenothere at 1:57 PM on March 26, 2006

his intemperate, unscientific attacks on religion

Yes, shame that. Because temperate, scientific things like religion deserve sooo much better.
posted by Decani at 3:36 PM on March 26, 2006

hated equally by the Creationism-in-schools set and the welfare-and-affirmative-action set

And let's not forget the, 'ooh, he's so rude; he should respect other people's beliefs, even when those beliefs are patently savage and deranged, and have patently done huge damage to humanity' set.
posted by Decani at 3:39 PM on March 26, 2006

afu, beware Xism.

eh? Most of what I've read by Dawkin is quite interesting and thought provoking. I just find the idea of memes to be idiotic. Evolution is just not really a useful tool in studying cultral change.
posted by afu at 5:56 PM on March 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

I couldn't read "The Selfish Gene" for all the smugness. Not sure if this is a common problem.
posted by Eideteker at 6:10 PM on March 26, 2006

Does anyone have a mirror for that mp3? I cannot get either the FTP or the HTTP connections to download for squat.
posted by pwb503 at 9:38 PM on March 26, 2006

I tried watching The Root of All Evil, as a dutiful eupraxophist and inveterate Dawkins fan. It was pretty boring - he interviewed some very intelligent people in an extremely sulky way, and chances for interesting conversation were squandered all over the place. I just felt like he was a git. A smart git, but a git nonetheless.

(Decani - I think the problem is that just attacking people like you (and Dawkins) do is never going to get anywhere. The only result is that you get to keep sulking about all the philistines that won't listen to the enlightened people shouting at them. It's a chicken and egg thing - you don't respect people who don't agree with you because they believe such stupid things, so you shout at them, so they don't listen to you.)

The doco on atheism with Jonathan Miller was much more interesting and well done.
posted by wilberforce at 11:51 AM on March 27, 2006

the mp3 is well worth the listen as all the speakers make some very valid points!

informative and inspiring content!
posted by Flamingoroad at 6:40 PM on March 27, 2006

I think the problem is that just attacking people like you (and Dawkins) do is never going to get anywhere.

It depends what you mean by "get anywhere". Please don't imagine for one second I'm trying to persuade these pathetic subhumans. I don't think adults capable of buying the outrageous bullshit that is religion are capable of that level of smarts. No, the reason I support - and share - Dawkins' full-on, aggressive attacks on them is because I see this as a war. I really do. It really has come back to that again. They've been tolerated for too long and now we see the price: the attempts to return to the dark ages. The attacks on abortion rights, on evolution, on gays, on you-bloody-well-name-it. All the precious advances of the enlightenment are under threat once again because of these weak-minded spiritual cowards and hell yes, I think it's time to get angry and intolerant about that. To fight them. Fuck persuading them; they're lost. What I want to do is slap them the fuck down and keep their nasty, primitive ideas and wishes out of the lives of more evolved human beings. I want them to know and feel the depth and breadth of my revulsion: to know what they're up against. To know that they will not be allowwed to get away with their superstitious crap without one hell of a fight,

I can't stress this enough: I don't want to persuade these cackwitted morons, I want to smack them the fuck down, like the irksome roaches they are. I want them to know just how vigorous the resistance to their bullshit is and I want to make damned sure they know that some of us do not and will not fall for this "respect other people's beliefs" crap when those beliefs are so astonishingly bad. And here's the other thing the oh-so-fashionable Dawkins knockers need to get their soft heads around: Dawkins' combative intelligence is attractive. He does attract people to his side by dint of the sheer force of his personality, his style and his obvious intellect. Don't doubt it, man. He'll get his converts, if you really want to make the sort of lazy, superficial parallel that goes "Oh-he's-as-much-of-a-zealot-as-those-he-attacks".

It annoys the piss out of me that Dawkins is now getting criticised for being aggressive in his attacks on religion whereas religious aggression is still, to far too great an extent, tolerated. Religion still benefits from bogus respect; still whines and falls back on the Emperor's New Clothes of "Do Not Disrespect Our Sacred and Heartfelt Belief". Yet when the likes of Dawkins lay out their ideas with comparable passion they get slammed by piss-blooded whiners who think that it's somehow less seemly when the anti-religious get a bit vociferous. Fuck that nonsense, and fuck religious apologists.
posted by Decani at 6:41 PM on March 27, 2006

Yeah, well, good luck with that.
posted by wilberforce at 8:24 AM on March 28, 2006

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