Richard Dawkins: “The Making of a Scientist” | Talks at Google
Richard Dawkins: “The Making of a Scientist” | Talks at Google

Thank you very much. Some of my titles may be good. I’m quite pleased with
“The Blind Watchmaker,” as Ray Kurtzweil has said. “The Selfish Gene”
is not a bad title. But it’s unfortunately
been rather widely read by title only. Various critics have omitted
to read the rather substantial footnote, which is
the book itself. This new book, “An
Appetite for Wonder,” the subtitle is “The
Making of a Scientist,” it is a memoir of the
first half of my life, up to the age of 35,
and it culminates in the writing of
“The Selfish Gene.” So there’s going to be a
volume two, in two year’s time. It was all supposed to
have been one volume. But I kind of lost a
bit of stamina halfway through and decided I needed a
bit of positive reinforcement. So I asked the publisher
if I could split it in half and produce it in two volumes. And so it is actually a
rather natural breakpoint. “The Selfish Gene” was a fairly
natural breakpoint in my life. So I’m going to go through
with a set of readings, kind of strung together
with a bit of talk. The book begins with
ancestors, and goes on to my childhood,
and school days. And I got one or
two little anecdotes from school days, which
might be vaguely amusing. I was sent to boarding schools
of a rather British kind and rather young actually. I was first sent
to boarding school at the age of seven,
which is a bit too young to be sent away to school. I used to have fantasies
that the matron would turn into my mother. And I thought that since both
of them had dark, curly hair, it wouldn’t take too much of
a miracle to achieve that. So I’m going to read a
little bit about school days. I was an exceptionally untidy
and disorganized little boy in my early years. My first school reports
dwelt insistently on the theme of ink. Headmaster’s report– He
has produced some good work and well deserves his prize. A very inky little
boy at present, which is apt to spoil his work. Latin– He has made
steady progress. But unfortunately
when using ink, his written work
becomes very untidy. Mathematics– He
works very well. But I am not always
able to read his work. He must learn that ink is for
writing, not washing purposes. Ms. Benson, my elderly
French teacher, somehow managed to
omit the ink leitmotif. But even her report had
a sting in the tale. French– Plenty of ability,
good pronunciation, and a wonderful facility
in escaping work. I then went on to another
school, a secondary school, which was rather more
spartan in some ways. And I went through a
religious phase, which I then abandoned, and then
became rather rebellious. And with a couple of
friends, we refused to kneel down in chapel. And so everybody else was
kneeling down with bowed heads and we were sitting upright,
like islands of rebellion. It being an Anglican school,
they were very decent and didn’t take it out on us. They didn’t indoctrinate
or punish us in any way, which I think
is a nice advertisement for the Anglican church. I hate to think what
might have happened if we’d been to a school
run by a rival sect. My housemaster,
Mr. Ling, did make sort of an effort to reform me. I’m going to read
a little bit here. I’ve only recently learned that
my housemaster, Peter Ling, actually a nice man, if
rather too conformist, telephoned [? Johan ?]
Thomas, my zoology master, to voice his concern about me. In a recent letter
to me, Mr. Thomas reported that he warned
Mr. Ling that quote, “requiring someone like you
to attend chapel twice a day on Sunday was doing
you positive harm.” The phone went down
without comment. Mr. Ling also
summoned my parents for a heart-to-heart
talk over tea– that’s the way we do
things in England– about my rebellious
behavior in chapel. I knew nothing of this
at the time and my mother has only just told
me of the incident. Mr. Ling asked my parents
to try to persuade me to change my ways. My father said, approximately,
by my mother’s recollection, it’s not our business to
control him in that sort of way. That’s kind of thing
is your problem. And I’m afraid I must
decline your request. My parents’ attitude
to the whole affair with that it wasn’t important. Mr. Ling, as I said, was
in his way a decent man. A contemporary and friend
of mine in the same house recently told me the
following nice story. He was illicitly up in a
dormitory during the day, kissing one of the house maids. The pair panicked when they had
a heavy tread on the stairs. And my friend hastily
bundled the young woman up onto a window sill
and drew the curtains to hide her standing form. Mr. Ling came into
the room and must have noticed that only
one of the three windows had the curtains drawn. Even worse, my friend
noticed, to his horror, that the girl’s feet
were clearly visible, protruding under the curtain. He firmly believed
that Mr. Ling must have realized what was going on,
but pretended not to, perhaps on boys will be boys grounds. What are you doing up here in
the dormitory at this hour? Just came up to
change my socks, sir. Oh, well hurry on down. Good call on Mr. Ling’s part. That boy went on
to become probably the most successful
alumnus of his generation, the mighty chief
executive officer of one of the largest
international corporations in the world and a generous
benefactor of the school, endowing, among other things,
the Peter Ling Fellowship. I don’t mention the
name in the book. But I can divulge to you
that that boy was Sir Howard Stringer, who became the head of
the Sony Corporation, the only non-Japanese to do so. I then went on to
Oxford, which was I think the turning
point in my life really. It was wonderful to be
educated to become a scholar and to think,
rather than educated to learn about what
was in textbooks. And so I think a tremendous
lot to the Oxford experience. And in particular to
various mentors at Oxford and especially one,
Michael Cullen, who was the number
two to Niko Tinbergen, the great ethologist,
animal behaviorist, who later won the Nobel Prize. Niko Tinbergen was my
official research supervisor as a graduate student,
but Mike Cullen was the one who really
looked after me. And I want to read
to you– I hope I didn’t break
down when I do so. I occasionally choke
up a bit– the eulogy that I wrote for him
his at his funeral, in one of the Oxford
college chapels. He did not publish
many papers himself. Yet he worked prodigiously hard,
both in teaching and research. He was probably the
most sought after tutor in the entire
zoology department. The rest of his time–
he was always in a hurry and worked a hugely long
day– was devoted to research, but seldom his own research. Everybody who knew him has
the same story to tell. All the obituaries told it
in revealingly similar terms. You would have a problem
with your research. You knew exactly
where to go for help and there he would be for you. I see the scene as yesterday,
the lunchtime conversation in the kitchen, the wiry, boyish
figure in the red sweater, slightly hunched like
a spring wound up, with intense
intellectual energy, sometimes rocking back and
forth with concentration. The deeply intelligent
eyes, understanding what you meant even
before the words came out. The back of the envelope to aid
explanation, the occasionally skeptical, quizzical
tilt to the eyebrows, under the untidy hair. Then he would have to rush off. He always rushed
everywhere and disappeared. But next morning, the
answer to your problem would arrive, in Mike’s small,
distinctive handwriting, two pages, often some
algebra, diagrams, a key reference
to the literature, sometimes an apt verse
of his own composition, a fragment of Latin or classical
Greek, always encouragement. We were grateful, but
not grateful enough. If we had thought
about it, we would have realized he must
have been working on that mathematical model
of my research all evening. And it isn’t only for me
for whom he does this, everybody in the research
group gets the same treatment, and not just his own students. I was officially Niko’s
student, not Mike’s. Mike took me on,
without payment and without official recognition
when my research became more mathematical than
Niko could handle. When the time came to
me to write my thesis, it was my Mike Cullen who
read it, criticized it, helped me polish every line. And all this while he
was doing the same thing for his own, official students. When, we all should
have wondered, does he get time for
ordinary family life? When does he get time
for his own research? No wonder he so seldom
published anything. No wonder he never wrote
his long awaited book on animal communication. In truth, he should
have been joint author of just about every one of
the hundreds of papers that came out of that research group
during that golden period. In fact, his name appears
on virtually none of them, except in the
acknowledgement section. The worldly success
of scientists is charged for
promotion or honors by their published papers. Mike did not rate
highly on this index. But if he had consented to
add his name to his students’ publications as readily as
modern supervisors insist on putting their names on papers
to which they contribute much less, Mike would have been
a conventionally successful scientist, lauded with
conventional honors. As it is, he was a brilliantly
successful scientist, in a far deeper and truer sense. And I think we know which kind
of scientist we really admire. Oxford sadly lost
him to Australia. Years later in Melbourne,
at a party for me as visiting lecturer, I was
standing, probably rather stiffly, with a
drink in my hand. Suddenly, a familiar
figure shot into the room, in a hurry as ever. The rest of us were in suits,
but not this familiar figure. The years vanished away. Everything was the same. Though he must been well
into his 60s by then, he seemed still
to be in his 30s, the glow of boyish enthusiasm,
even the red sweater. Next day, he drove
me to the coast to see his beloved penguins,
stopping on the way to look at giant Australian
earthworms, many feet long. We tired the Sun with talking. Not, I think, about old
times and old friends, and certainly not
about ambition, grant getting, and
papers in “Nature.” But about new science
and new ideas. It was a perfect day,
the last day I saw him. We may know other scientists
as intelligent as Mike Cullen, though not many. We may know other scientists
who were as generous in support, though vanishing few. But I declare that we have no
nobody who had so much to give, combined with so much
generosity in giving it. From Oxford, I moved
on to Berkeley, where I spent two
years as a very junior assistant
professor, who loved it. But was then lured
back to Oxford, where I became a
university lecturer and eventually wrote
“The Selfish Gene,” after quite a while
there at Oxford. Throughout the book, I
tried to put, in addition to just stories about my
life and the people I knew, I tried to put little
asides, perhaps little scientific thoughts. And I want now to
read a couple of them. They really are asides. They could have come
anywhere, almost. The first is about–
actually the first two– are about the luck that we
all have in being here at all. And I introduce it in
the very first part of the book, where I’m
talking about my ancestors, including one Clinton George
Augustus Dawkins, 1808 to ’71. He was the British
consul in Venice and he was there during
the war against Austria. I have a cannonball
in my possession, sitting on a plinth, bearing an
inscription on a brass plate. I don’t know who’s is
the authorial voice and I don’t know
how reliable it is. But for what it is worth,
here is my translation from French, then the
language of diplomacy. One night, when he was
in bed, a cannonball penetrated the bed covers
and passed between his legs, but happily did him no more
than superficial damage. This narrow escape of my
ancestor’s vital parts took place before he
was to put them to use. And it is tempting to
attribute my own existence to a stroke of ballistic luck. A few inches closer to the fork
of Shakespeare’s radish and– But actually, my
existence, and yours, and the postman’s, hangs from
a far narrower thread of luck than that. We owe it to the precise timing
and placing of everything that ever happened since
the universe began. The incident of a cannonball
is only a dramatic example of a much more
general phenomenon. As I put it before,
if the second dinosaur to the left of the tall Cycad
tree had not happened to sneeze and thereby failed to catch the
tiny shrew-like ancestor of all the mammals, we would
none of us be here. We all can regard ourselves
as exquisitely improbable. But here, in a triumph
of hindsight, we are. And that theme of being lucky
to be here I come back to in the very last chapter, which
is called “Looking Back Along the Path,” in which I
tried to talk about all the different things
I described in my life and say what would
have happened if they had been a bit
different, if things had happened differently? What if Alois
Schicklgruber had happened to sneeze at a
particular moment, rather than some other
particular moment during any year before mid-1888,
when his son, Adolf Hitler, was conceived? You may know that Hitler’s
real surname was Schicklgruber. Heil Schicklgruber doesn’t
have the same ring, does it? Obviously, I have
not the faintest idea of the exact sequence
of events involved. And there are surely
no historical records of Herr Schicklgruber’s
sternutations, but I’m confident that a
change as trivial as a sneeze, in say 1858, would have been
more than enough to alter the course of history. The evil omen sperm
that engendered Adolf Hitler was one
of countless billions produced during
his father’s life. And the same goes for his
two grandfathers, four great grandfathers,
and so on back. It is not only plausible,
but I think certain, that a sneeze many years
before Hitler’s conception would have had knock-on
effects sufficient to derail the trivial circumstance that
one particular sperm, that one particular egg, thereby
changing the entire course of the 20th century,
including my existence. Of course, I’m not denying that
something like the Second World War might well have happened
even without Hitler. Nor am I saying that Hitler’s
evil madness was inevitably ordained by his genes. With a different
upbringing, Hitler might have turned out good,
or at least uninfluential. But certainly, his
very existence, and the war as it
turned out, depended upon the fortunate– well,
unfortunate– happenstance of a particular sperm’s luck. And I end that with a
poem from Aldous Huxley. A million million spermatozoa
All of them alive; Out of their cataclysm but one
poor Noah Dare hope to survive. And of that billion minus one
Might have been Shakespeare, another Newton, a new
Donne– But the One was Me. Shame to have ousted
your betters thus, Taking ark while the
others remained outside! Better for all of us,
froward Homunculus, if you’d quietly died! Well, I was told
to stop at 1:30. So I think maybe I’ll stop and
take questions at that point. Would that be a good idea? RAY KURTZWEIL: So that’s a
very interesting thought. I’ve had that thought of
the incredible improbability of my own existence. So I wonder what you thought is
on the incredible improbability of our universe having a
standard model with these 15 or so constants, which is
so precisely what they need to be to allow for a universe
that encodes information, which is the enabling
property for evolution to be at all possible? RICHARD DAWKINS: Yes. It’s a very interesting point. Not all physicists
accept that argument. Victor Stenger,
for example, says that actually the alleged
improbability of the universe is less than many people think. But assuming that it’s right
and that we have these 15 knobs, that each one represents
a fundamental constant and if any one of those knobs
had been tuned ever so slightly different, the
universe as we know it would not have been possible. Galaxies would not have formed. Perhaps, stars would
not have formed. Therefore, the elements
would not have formed. Therefore, chemistry
wasn’t impossible. Therefore, life wouldn’t have
been possible, and so on. So there’s a temptation to see
the universe as a put-up job and to see a divine creator
as a divine knob twiddler, who twiddled these knobs to exactly
the right value in order to foreshadow, foreordain,
life, perhaps even human life. I find that a deeply
unsatisfying idea because of course it leaves totally
unexplained the divine knob twiddler himself. You need exactly
the same problem. If you can magic
him into existence, you might as well just magically
the fine-tuning into existence. Other physicists have resorted
to a multiverse theory, where they propose that this
universe, our visible universe, is only one of a bubbling
foam of universes. We are in one bubble. And the other
bubbles in the foam have different
physical constants. So there are billions of
universes in the multiverse, all with different values of
the physical constants, all with different
settings of the knobs. And with hindsight,
since we’re here, we obviously had to be in
one of the bubbles, however small a minority, which had
the right physical constants to give rise to galaxies, and
stars, and chemistry, and life. That’s the anthropic principle. It’s obviously a
lot more satisfying than the divine
knob twiddler idea. Other physicists say
that the 15 knobs, or how many ever there are,
are not free to vary anyway. There’s only one
way for them to be. But the standard
model of physics doesn’t yet tell us
what that way is. And we need a better physics,
which will one day tell us that the values of the
fundamental constants could only be that way. As Einstein put it,
rather unfortunately, in unfortunate
language, Einstein said what really interests
me is whether God had any choice in
setting up the universe? What he meant, of course, was is
there only one kind of universe that is possible to
have or are there lots of alternative ways in
which a universe might exist, in which case the
multiverse theory works? OK. I probably said
enough about that. The next question? AUDIENCE: OK. Something very
interesting I’ve noticed, I mean this is about
belief in a deity. What I’ve usually seen is
that some of the people who are exposed to
natural sciences, especially through high
school and college, they kind of start to understand
that– I mean at least go away from faith in a deity. Interestingly, I’ve
seen several scientists, usually in abstract mathematics
and sometimes computer science, who actually, as
the kind of grew up, they start believing in
maybe the abstract idea that is kind of similar to what
they’ve been experiencing. I was wondering what’s
your thoughts on that and what do you have
to say to those people? RICHARD DAWKINS: Yes. Some research has been done
on fellows of the National Academy of Sciences
in the United States, the elite scientists
of the United States and the equivalent
elite scientists of the British Commonwealth,
the Royal Society. And these two
independent studies have both come up
with the same result. That about 90% of these elite
scientists are nonbelievers. About 10% have some kind
of religious belief. And within that 10%, there is
a slightly greater tendency for physical scientists
and mathematical scientists to be believers than for
biological scientists, which agrees with
the observation that you’ve just made. Quite often when you meet
a religious scientist, it’s worth asking what
he really does believe. It often turns out to be a
kind of Einsteinian religion. I mean Einstein did not
believe in a personal god. Einstein used the
language of religion, used the language
of God, to refer to that which we
don’t yet understand. And he had a deep
and fitting reverence for that which we
don’t understand. And I think many
of us would agree that we feel– some
might call it spiritual when we think about the enormous
amount that we don’t yet know, the deep mysteries of
existence, the deep mysteries of the universe. But that’s hugely
different from believing in a personal god, the god
of Abraham, the god of Moses, the god of Jesus,
the god of Muhammad. And I think it does
a disservice to use the same language
for those two things. As to why biologists
should be slightly more likely to be nonreligious
than physicists, I think that might
come from the fact that Darwin’s theory of
evolution by natural selection is deeply anti-design in the
sense of deliberate design by a creative intelligence. If you think about it, the
great achievement of Darwin was to show that we don’t
need a creative intelligence. What Darwin showed is
that entities complicated enough to be creative designers,
things like a human brain– the human brain is
perhaps the only one we know– entities
complex enough to do that don’t suddenly
get magicked into existence. They come about through a
very slow, gradual process, exactly like the carving
out of the Grand Canyon, as Ray Kurtzweil said. So biologists are predisposed
to be hostile to any attempt to smuggle in an
intelligence by magic because we know how
intelligence comes about. We know how it comes
about that brains exist which are
capable of designing planes, and cameras,
and computers. So that may be why there’s
a slightly greater bias. But all scientists of these two
elite groups, the Royal Society and the National Academy,
only about 10% are religious. And even they, one
wonders whether they’re religious in the
Einsteinian sense, rather than the personal god sense. AUDIENCE: Thank you. AUDIENCE: Hi. You’ve done all
kinds of great works. I’m sorry to follow
up a religion question with another religion
question, but– RICHARD DAWKINS: They
usually are, I have to say. RAY KURTZWEIL: This might be
a gross oversimplification or perhaps even a
misinterpretation of your work. But something that struck
me as one of the arguments in “The God Delusion”
is sort of we can as biological
entities, conscious ones, realize maybe the
pull towards religion and how that affects us and
choose to not follow that. And I’m wondering how
you would compare that with other things that might
be a part of our nature, sort of chemically
and physically as biological beings, what
that means to how we react to other things, in
addition to religion, such as sexual desire, or
love, and other aspects that might be considered “better?” RICHARD DAWKINS: Right. So I think I may have
got the question. Things like sexual
desire are built into us by natural selection for reasons
we can clearly understand. I mean obviously
natural selection is all about the surviving
of genes and genes get passed on by reproduction. And we need sex
for reproduction. And so we have rules
of thumb in our brain which make us lust
after the opposite sex. Other things, like religion,
might come from something a bit analogous to that. I mean I don’t think religion
has a direct genetic survival value in the way that
sexual lust does. But perhaps another
way to put it would be that there are
psychological predispositions which under the right
cultural circumstances manifest themselves as religion. And I suppose you
could say in a way that sexual lust, under the
right cultural conditions, manifests itself as great
poetry like “Romeo and Juliet.” So it’s not all that different. The kind of psychological
predisposition I’m thinking of is well, because we’re
very social animals, we have a natural tendency
to calculate debts to others, things that we owe
to others because reciprocation is so important for
good Darwinian reasons. And so we are aware
of who owes us what. We are aware of whom
we owe things to. And when something
really good happens, we swim so much in a
sea of other people that we naturally think
we need to thank somebody because so much of
what happens to us is because of
social interactions. And so we feel a need to thank. And often there really
is somebody to thank. Often, it really
is another person who is responsible for the good
thing that’s happened to us and so we thank them. But when there’s no other
person to be responsible for– to be grateful to, if
say the weather turns out nice for our barbecue-
take a trivial example– we still feel the
impulse to thank. But there’s nobody to thank. I mean nobody actually called
the weather to be nice. So you thank God. So maybe that’s
a small component of the psychological
predisposition that led to religion. Another one might
be the tendency for children to obey and
believe their parents. In the wild state,
a child is extremely vulnerable to being killed by
accident and by foolishness. So a child brain might
be naturally selected, comes into the
world preprogrammed with the rule,
whatever else you do, believe what your
parents tell you. If they tell you not to
go too close to the cliff, don’t ask questions, just obey. If they tell you not to pick up
a snake, don’t ask questions. Don’t obey the sort of
scientific curiosity impulse. Just obey your parents. Don’t touch that snake. Well, if the child
brain is preprogrammed with that rule of thumb, obey
and believe your parents, it has no means
of distinguishing between good advice like
“don’t touch the snake” and bad or at least
time-wasting advice like “perform a sacrifice at
the time of the full moon” or “pray five times a
day, facing the East.” How could the child know
which is good advice and which is bad? If it knew, it wouldn’t
need the advice. It would just know. So the child brain
is preprogrammed, just as a computer is built, to
obey whatever instructions it’s given, in its own
machine language. And that’s why computers are
vulnerable to computer viruses. A computer doesn’t
have any filter that says the instructions
I’m now being given are evil instructions, designed
to wipe somebody’s hard disk and destroy their
doctoral thesis. Why do people do
that, by the way? Can you imagine? The computer is simply built to
obey whatever instructions it’s given in the appropriate
machine language. And that’s why it’s vulnerable
to computer viruses. And so another way to put
what I’ve just suggested is that religions are computer
viruses, the mind viruses. AUDIENCE: I guess just to be
blunt about it, to go forward, to follow that
analogy sort of, why is following those
predispositions towards religion sort of bad? I get that impression from–
as opposed to following say love, which might be another
biological process that we follow [INAUDIBLE]. RICHARD DAWKINS: Yes. No, I didn’t mean
to say it’s bad. It could be good. And I mean I’m not sure
how widely it’s done, but it has been suggested
that computer viruses too could be good. That you could– if it
comes from anywhere, it probably come from
Google actually– the idea that you could use the
principle of a program that spreads itself, because it
spreads, because it spreads, because it spreads,
because it contains the instruction, spread
me around the internet. It could be benign. I mean you could spread a good
mind virus, a good computer virus. So there’s nothing that says
that the analogy to computer viruses has to have to be bad. But it could be. And in some cases, I
think it probably is. At best, some of them
might be time wasting. I mean it is an awful
waste of time spending hours on your knees praying
to some nonexistent spook. AUDIENCE: I, of course,
have another question on atheism and religion. [LAUGHTER] So my question,
organized religion of course has a long history of sexism. And you might expect atheism
to do better in this regard. And I think it’s
true that it does. But organized atheism
also had several incidents with male-dominated events,
both in terms of audience and in terms of people speaking,
and also major incidents, both at conferences and
in online discussions. And you yourself have been
criticized in this regard. And I’m wondering is there
some reason that atheism falls victim to
the same traps as– RICHARD DAWKINS: Well, I think
it’s a very unfortunate thing that many institutions
fall victim to. And it would be quite surprising
if atheist conferences and atheist organizations
were completely immune to it. AUDIENCE: Is there some
way we could better? RICHARD DAWKINS: Sorry? AUDIENCE: Is there some
way we could do better? Something that [INAUDIBLE]? RICHARD DAWKINS: Yes. I mean I think we all
need to do better. I think it’s pretty clear that
there’s nothing particularly bad about this in
the atheist world. But there is a need to
do better certainly. Yes, I agree. AUDIENCE: Is there some
way we could do better? Like something we could
do differently maybe? RICHARD DAWKINS: Well, I mean
treat all human beings as of equal worth and don’t looked
down upon 50% of the population because they happen to
have different genitals. [APPLAUSE] AUDIENCE: So I don’t have
a question about religion. [APPLAUSE] In your
book, you were reflecting on a bunch of
different memories, one of them of somebody
who has passed. I was wondering if you’d
be willing to share a memory about somebody
else who has passed, Christopher Hitchens? Is there any favorite
memory that you might find useful
to share with us? RICHARD DAWKINS:
I think he was– I mean I was a friend of his,
but only in his later life. I wasn’t one of the early
coterie of friends like Martin Amis, and Salman
Rushdie, and Ian McEwan. So I only met him I think after
2006, when we both published books at around the same
time, on a similar theme. He was, I think, the
most spellbinding orator I ever heard. He was a magnificent speaker,
a beautiful, resonant voice, superbly resourceful, with
what must have been something close to a photographic memory,
able to pull out examples with great speed and to
best anybody in debate. I once wrote a
puff for him which said something like if you are
a religious apologist invited to have a debate with
Christopher Hitchens, decline. He was a warm, friendly man. He didn’t suffer fools gladly,
but he was patient as well. I had enormous
admiration for him. I disagreed with him
on certain things. I disagreed with him over
the Iraq War, for example. He was impossible
to typecast on sort of standard left,
right continuum. He was his own man in
that, as in so much else. His approach to atheism came
from a slightly different direction than mine. Mine is more scientific. So for me, what
really matters is the truth about the universe. And the god hypothesis,
it seems to me to be an alternative
hypothesis about the nature of the universe and its origins,
which is I think clearly false. And so for me, it’s
a scientific battle. For Christopher, I think it
was more a political one. I think he saw religions
as political organizations. And he saw God as a
sort of divine dictator. And he saw the kingdom of God
as a kind of divine North Korea. Perhaps, enough of that. AUDIENCE: I was looking at
some of your personal details earlier. And was surprised to see that
you’re married to the best “Doctor Who” companion ever. RICHARD DAWKINS: Here, here. AUDIENCE: And I’d
like to know are you a big fan of “Doctor Who?” RICHARD DAWKINS: Well, I became
a big fan of “Doctor Who” only after I met her actually,
I’m ashamed to admit. I’d heard of “Doctor Who.” But I’d never actually
watched any of the episodes. And then after we married,
I did watch, not DVDs, it was– what do you call them? Tapes, yeah. [LAUGHTER] And I did become a
fan of those tapes. I loved them. Not least actually,
because in her time, which was the Tom Baker
era, who many people regard as the definitive
Doctor as well, the script was written
by Douglas Adams. And was consequently witty,
satirical, and appreciated on different– I mean it
was a children’s program. And it’s appreciated
much by children. But also, there
was a witty irony, which was appreciated
by adults as well. And that’s got Douglas
Adams written all over it. And you can appreciate Douglas’s
episodes of “Doctor Who,” which included the Tom
Baker and Lalla Ward times as beautiful satire,
of the same kind of satire as he was to use also in
the “Hitchhiker’s Guide” and in his Dirk Gently series. So making science
into comedy– laughing at, in a sort of genial,
benevolent, satirical way, scientific ideas– and
satirizing contemporary life was something that he
did supremely well. And that got into “Doctor
Who” at that time. AUDIENCE: Hi. I personally
believe that we live in a universe which is
governed by physical laws. That’s it’s not
necessary to have spirits or anything like that. I understand that other
people, their behavior may be explainable
using physical processes and that I should apply
that to myself also. But I’m struggling at
the moment with where does this kind of
sensation come from, my consciousness, my
awareness of myself? And I don’t really have an
answer for that at the moment. So I wonder if you could help? [LAUGHTER] RICHARD DAWKINS: I mean
ditto, ditto, ditto. I am as mystified as you. I feel exactly the same way. I am aware that my brain is the
product of natural selection, evolution by natural selection. And it is a machine. It’s an on-board computer. It’s helped my
ancestors to survive on the African plains, in
the Pleistocene and before. And somehow an emergent
property of that large brain is the feeling of subjective
consciousness, which makes me know that
I’m me and not you. Makes me believe that
you have a personality and you have a consciousness,
which is similar to mine, that I can never actually
get inside your mind, nor can you get inside mine. That doesn’t make
you a solipsist. It’s the exact
opposite, of course. A solipsist is
someone who thinks that he’s the only
person that there is and everybody else is, as
it were, part of his dream. There was a nice story
by Bertrand Russell. That he had a letter from a lady
who said, Dear Lord Russell, I’m delighted to hear
that you are a solipsist. There are so few of
us around these days. I suppose that people
like you and me have to think that something
about making a brain which is good at navigating through
the world in a versatile way, coping with all sorts of
different things that happen, not moving through
a stereotype world like some computer programs,
which can only navigate through a world of
colored bricks or a table or something of that sort. We have to navigate through
a very versatile world. Above all, we have to navigate
through a world in which the dominant things that we see,
we encounter are other people. Like ourselves. We have to interact with sexual
partners, with business rivals, with business companions,
with co-workers, with possible enemies,
with children. All the time, we’re
surrounded by people and we have to
interact with them. I suppose you could
say that something about needing to interact
with other people might facilitate the setting
up of a model in the head. We all have models in the head
of the world in which we move. I mean when we see
something, what we’re doing is constructing a model in
the head of that something. And you can show this
with visual illusions. When you construct a similar
model of the other people you’re having to deal with
and you have to put yourself in their place, maybe something
about the model of other people that you have to make
necessitates the generation of subjective consciousness. But that doesn’t
really do it, does it? That’s sort of based on an
idea of Nicholas Humphrey. Daniel Dennett has
more advanced ideas in his book,
“Consciousness Explained.” And I think I better not
go on too much with that. But you could look at
“Consciousness Explained” and see if that does it for you. There’s other people who
are attempting to do it. I sort of feel it’s
one of those things that maybe one day it’ll
seem awfully obvious and how could we be so
stupid as not to realize it. But at present, it does
seem to be a deep mystery. Sorry about that. AUDIENCE: So I read
the big footnotes to “The Selfish Gene.” And one of my
takeaways from it is that it’s really not
about being selfish. I was absolutely uplifted by how
much cooperation helps people. And somehow like the
reasoning in this book kind of flipped me over. So my plea would be, could
you write more articles with maybe better,
catchier titles? And my suggestion would be– I
don’t know who to attribute it, but I love this one,
Snuggle for Survival. RICHARD DAWKINS: OK. Thank you. Yes. I mean you’re absolutely right. That the central message
of “The Selfish Gene” is not that we are selfish. Still less is it that
we should be selfish. It’s actually mostly
a book about altruism, snuggling if you wish
to put it that way. And it is true that title– I
think most of my other titles have been OK, actually,
“The Blind Watchmaker,” “Unweaving the Rainbow,”
“Climbing Mount Improbable,” and so on. I did show an early
pair of chapters to a well-known London
publisher before I gave it the title, “The Selfish Gene.” He said you can’t call
it “The Selfish Gene.” It’s a down word.
“Selfish” is a down word. Call it The Immortal Gene. And that would have
been good, I think, because it does also convey
another aspect of it. The reason why
natural selection can be said to work at
the level of the gene is that genes are immortal,
or potentially immortal. And therefore, in the
long-term, survival of genes is what really matters. And if they were not
potentially immortal, it wouldn’t matter which one
survived and which ones didn’t. So “the immortal gene,” it’s
a phrase I use in the book. And that possibly
would have been better. I also suggested
in the book that it could have been called
The Slightly Selfish Big Bit of Chromosome, With the
Even More Selfish Little Bit of Chromosome. RAY KURTZWEIL: Let me ask
you to actually follow up on this last question. You described religion
as a set of mind viruses. Another word for
mind virus is meme, which is your I
think very apt word. And some of those memes
could be bad or good. And I think one of the
good memes from religion is the golden rule, which
is a synonym for altruism, which you just alluded to. And you had a very interesting
thesis in “The Selfish Gene” about how altruism originates
or evolves in nature. So maybe you could
sum up by sharing your view of how
altruism evolves? RICHARD DAWKINS: Yes. The golden rule, of course,
is terribly important. I think it would be unfair
to attribute it to religion. It’s true that many of the
great religions have adopted it. But I think it actually does
have older roots than that. And that’s really what
you’re asking about, which is the evolutionary
roots of the golden rule. Do as you would be done
by, so unto others as you would have them do unto you. Altruism has two main
evolutionary roots. One is that. One is reciprocation. One is the survival value of
doing good turns because others may do good turns to you. And the mathematical theory
of that, the best way to approach it, is the
mathematical theory of games. And the theory has
been well worked out. And it does indeed work in
an evolutionary context. And a lot of “The
Selfish Gene” is actually about the game theory of–
well, game theory generally, including aggression
and reciprocation. The other main source
of altruism is kinship. It’s easy to see nowadays–
it wasn’t originally– but nowadays, we can
see that any gene that makes an individual animal
behave altruistically towards genetic relatives
has, other things being equal, a good chance of
propagating itself because those genetic
relatives statistically are likely to contain
copies of the same gene. And so anyone can see that
that’s true for offspring. What W.D. Hamilton
showed is that it’s also true of collateral
kin, like nephews and nieces, and
cousins, and siblings. Well, humans probably
spent a large part of their ancestral
life in small bands, perhaps rather like baboons,
in which they were surrounded by a group, a clan,
who would have been mostly cousins,
mostly relatives. And therefore, there would have
been a genetic kinship pressure to be altruistic towards
everybody in your band, which pretty much meant
everybody you ever meet. And at the same time, since
you meet the same people over and over
again in your band, you’re going to meet them again
and again throughout your life, that is perfect raw
material for reciprocation. It’s perfect conditions
for the evolution of reciprocation, reciprocal
altruism, the golden rule in one way, putting it. So the fact that humans went
around in limited bands, clans, fostered altruism
in these two different ways and provided what
could be called a lust to be nice, which was
analogous to the lust for sex. The lust for sex worked
because before the days of contraception, sex tended
to be followed by babies. Nowadays, sex very often
is not followed by babies because we’re all
wise to contraception. And so we still enjoy sex, even
though we know perfectly well cognitively that
we’ve separated it, we’ve dissociated it from
its Darwinian function. But we still have the lust. And why on earth, shouldn’t we? Because the lust was
built into our brains at a time when contraception
had not been invented. Natural selection doesn’t
have cognitive wisdom. Natural selection simply builds
in clockwork rules of thumb. The lust for sex is just
such a clockwork rule. And the lust to be nice is also. Because it evolved
at a time when we did live in small groups. Nowadays, we don’t
live in small groups. We live in large
cities, where we are not surrounded by cousins. And we’re not
surrounded by people we’re going to meet again
and again in our lives. We’re surrounded by
perfect strangers. But the lust to be nice is still
there, just as the lust for sex is still there. The lust to be nice still works. We still feel empathy
towards somebody in distress. We still feel we want to
do a good turn to people who is neither related
to us, nor in a position to give the good turn back. But it’s there. And we feel it. It’s an extremely
powerful emotion. There are a few
people, and we call them psychopaths,
who don’t have it. But most of us do have it. Most of us do have empathy. Most of us do have pity
for people in misfortune. Most of us give to
charity and so on. So I think that
would be my attempt at a Darwinian explanation
for the origin of altruism. And it becomes, of course,
much more sophisticated due to cultural evolution,
which you can if you wish, interpret in terms of
memes, not in what it does. Thank you very much.

100 thoughts on “Richard Dawkins: “The Making of a Scientist” | Talks at Google”

  1. 0grilo0 says:

    omg those school cards… me but with way less money…

  2. Clifford Wilson says:

    Oops, you're going to have to revisit your "science" Richard … …

  3. Tom Adamson says:

    If a group of children's alphabet blocks were observed on a table arranged in such a fashion as to create a word, one could assume that would be evidence of an external intelligence that arranged the blocks to create that word.  However, an Evolutionist would say that this arrangement is result of an undeniable fact that no external intelligence was required at all.

  4. nemo one says:

    Do you know if and where might be able to find the transcript of this , so intelligent lecture? Thank you so much.

  5. Seekmosttoprophesy says:

     Evolution has no place in any classroom setting because it is utter fantasy.

  6. Wm. Thomas Sherman says:

    "Elect Richard Dawkins for God." A secular dogmatist incapable of real impartiality and rational objectivity, and has absolutely no explanation for the questions of either higher love or raw evil other than to lazily deny they don't exist. In sum, Dawkins works for Satan or someone very like this. Were he actually of the truth, he would never get so much airplay as he does. I am only posting this because though I have, as a point of fairness, watched one or two Christopher Hitchins videos on YouTube, for the past several months my YouTube video recommendation page is continually inundated with plugs for Hawkins and Kitchins videos; while scarcely making reference to the  99% of other topics and videos I actually go looking for on a regular basis. What propaganda!

  7. WhyURnotPefect Jones says:

    I personally can't distinguish between Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Jesus and other overzealous/religious cult leaders. They all believe they have the answers; but can't justify anything, except maybe to impose their own self-righteous belief on the masses.

  8. Paul Masgalajian says:

    Most people, if not virtually all, theists and non theists alike, equate the MYTHOLOGY of religion with genuine SPIRITUALITY. But, they're two different things. And religion does not have a monopoly on mythology. American medicine has plenty : "ADHD", "Hyperactive Nerve Disorder", "C.O.P.D.", et al.
    An atheist who scoffs at the Life in the Eucharist will, in the same breath, (Part 1)

  9. Paul Masgalajian says:

    (Part 2) preach that without his daily communion of Lipitor, he is likely to drop dead. However, the social mythologies which developed in antiquity, for example the classical Greek, were Man's attempt to explain natural phenomena through the Literary Paradigm before the axioms of scientific thought had been fully established since the Age of Enlightenment. Nowadays

  10. Paul Masgalajian says:

    (Part 3) myths do not usually evolve spontaneously, but are manufactured in places like Wall Street in order to suggest a "need" for which a product may be sold. Any person who thinks that non material realities exist is "spiritual". A simple example is the unique human quality of COMPASSION. This experience is familiar to virtually all people on the planet. Nevertheless, there are a very small minority of persons to whom

  11. Paul Masgalajian says:

    (Part 4) the reality of this quality is nothing more than a linguistic abstraction. They will never acknowledge it because they are incapable of experiencing it. Such people are known by the term "sociopath". COMPASSION, EMPATHY, and ALTRUISM are realities of human experience which must be deemed non material, for they cannot be deduced through the scientific method. Physicists have yet to determine the

  12. Paul Masgalajian says:

    (Part 5) melting point of altruism or describe empathy in its solid state. They do not because these are non material realities, and hence, inaccessible to the scientific paradigm. When one posits that the ONLY reality is that which may be deduced by the scientific method, one necessarily severely truncates one's perception. It is like viewing life through a pin hole and claiming that the only realities are those seen in your field

  13. Paul Masgalajian says:

    (Part 6) of vision. It is no more possible to describe cosmic consciousness (God) to a committed materialist than it is to explain compassion to a sociopath. My personal theory for this phenomenon is that there is some type of chromosomal anomaly or defective gene which makes some types of reality inaccessible to such individuals. I am certain that SCIENCE will eventually prove this !

  14. Carl Arnold says:

    "The Making of a Scientist":
    "Darwin allowed atheists to be intellectually fulfilled"-Dawkins
    "I see no good reasons why the views contained in this volume should shock the religious views of anyone."–CHARLES DARWIN, "Origin of Species"
    In 6!!! editions of "Origin", Darwin NEVER/NEVER argued "better adapted for immediate local environment" (5th edition),
    PAIN-FREE insentient NON-LIFE obtains NO "better adapted" evolving to
    WHY!! Darwin NEVER contended ABIOGENESIS.
    Dawkins' piously "defends" Darwin.  BULL-SHIT….he's ALL IN for abiogenesis.
    All atheists MUST contend abiogenesis.
    Ya think possibly THAT! is to what schools object?!?! 
    "If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modification then my theory would absolutely breakdown." DARWIN-"Origin"
    1 billionth second before 1st life the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics allowed NO!!!
    Dawkins' "Ultimate 747 Gambit" FAILS HILARIOUSLY to account for 2nd Law!
    747s NEVER/NOT ONE TIME "assemble in junkyards". Dawkins says, "Physics awaits it's Darwin".  There's one "scientist" who's a LONG way from being "made".
    "Thermodynamics is the one universal theory I'm certain will never be overthrown."
    Albert Einstein
    NEWS!!! IT HAS NOT BEEN!!!!  More descriptive, prescriptive, predictive than anything Darwin dreamed.
    CHARLES DARWIN NEVER claimed "natural selection" non-life from life.
    "3rd day plant seed-5th day marine animals to birds-6th day terrestrials to man."
    Genesis 1–FIRST PAGE
    PERFECT evolutionary paradigm: progressivity-periodicity-staging.
    Clarence Darrow AND WJ Bryan BOTH stipulated days as epochs @ Scopes trial. 
    NO OTHER "creation myth" REMOTELY accommodates "evolution".
    Judeo/Christianity has NO problem with Darwin.
    Dawkins' claim is for ABIOGENESIS….PERIOD!!
    CRAIG VENTER!! & Nobel biologist Lee Hartwell BOTH said to Dawkins face:
    "We'll never know life's origin."  VENTER: "It's not feasible we'll contrive life."
    (ASU–"The Great Questions; What Is life")
    Dawkins doesn't pull it out of thin air.  He does it in
    "The Making of a Scientist"??!?!?
    I take the kid gloves off

  15. Jake Hardie says:

    to me its simple; sexual lust, like all physiological functions have evolved for a set purpose. I don't think religious beliefs have evolved at all for any useful purpose. Apart from the same way wolves have evolved to benefit from pack behaviour. Or a tribal group collective. To me religion is  probably a derivative of this but redundant. we can all agree sexual lust is useful in any species (think of the panda).

  16. Eduardo Rico says:

    Great Dawkins, nice contributions to the public understanding of science, free inquiry and rational skepticism. Detractors should try (even if difficult) and keep an open mind about his many remarks, if this debate is going to ever go somewhere, that is. 

  17. Steven Ramage says:

    Some people are just fill the blank

  18. Steven Ramage says:

    Bit of a sly dig at Muslims there,No need

  19. Khawar Nehal says:

    Some people believe their theories should explain everything. They argue that the observations that do not match their theory are not really observations. These people do not follow the scientific method. They immediately disqualify themselves as scientists and become propagandists. Furthering their beliefs about the non existence of God. Let them further their lack of existence. Believing in a theory with contradicting observations is not science. They mislabel their propaganda as science. Real scientists accept the observations which contradict the theory and make up another theory. Watch the propagandists reply with useless and flawed logic to this statement. Real scientists shall observe their flawed logic immediately.

  20. corvus oculum says:

    For the "believers" that want to hide behind terms…its called "natural selection" not "natural random chance" for a reason.   An independent, reproducible reason.

  21. Martin Chartrand says:

    I have never seen any point at wich Professor Dawkins failed to take into account any evidence provided by the other side. If you consider feelings and visions as evidence then you don't apply the scientific method. Apart from irrational stories and personal feelings I have never seen Richard Dawkins flinch from directly answering any fact that was in any ration al way grounded on reality, so who is doing propaganda here? Mr Nehal you do. Asking people to face the world at truth value and to put their received teachings into question when they contradict logic, reason and scientific observations is not propaganda it is progress and the very scientific method which you pervert for your own propaganda. If you fail to understand the scientific method and the fact that any real scientist it eager to prove every single one of his and his fellow scientist theory wrong at the risk of having to completely reshape our understanding of the universe, don't try to use it as a tool for the propaganda of an absolutely biased faith alternative that insist on curbing evidence to its doctrine rather than the other way around.

  22. sagellivokin says:

    33:16 this guy sounds like he's asking some king for advice. Kind of embarrassing.

  23. ZeldaFeb says:

    Bish I just wanna learn about how to be a scientist wtf

  24. m a j walsh says:

    Militant atheism at it's best!  or worst!  Whichever way you want to look at it.

  25. TurboCMinusMinus says:

    Richard Dawkins: The Making of a Bitter, Arrogant Asshole

  26. Mother of Macarons says:

    I'm in awe of this man.

  27. Texas Arcane says:

    Shameless poseur hawking his garbage books. Television science is essentially a very sophisticated form of welfare for more intellectual bums. It is people getting paid to promote the kind of political gibberish the State needs people to believe. I'd like to see Dawkins go after Judaism instead of Christianity and Islam, I predict his career would last at least ten more seconds.

    None of you are smart enough to know it but Dawkins himself is the product of an evolutionary abstract process in which the mass media searches through existing ranks of failed scientists to find a proper spokesperson for the gibberish the State and its investors most wants to promote. When they find a useful tool like Dawkins, they see to it other branches of inquiry are trimmed back and never published. It is a form of dysgenic selection that leaves inferior men in the public eye.

  28. DaSnarky Remarky says:

    He may be controversial, veering at times into stridency, sometimes a bit elitist, arguably showing less sensitivity for the beliefs of the less sophisticated. Whatever your convictions may be, there is no denying the fact that he remains a colossal figure in modern science and an intellect of the highest order.

  29. Carl Arnold says:

    Dawkins lampoons the religiose parodying 4 tenets necessary for science,
    applied here instead to the allegations made by Dawkins: 
    1) "Richard Dawkins has promulgated an official dogma binding upon all atheists"
    that life began by purely natural means.
    Craig Venter & Nobel laureate in biology Lee Hartwell BOTH said to Dawkins'
    face @ ASU's "The Great Debate: What Is Life?": 'it's IMPOSSIBLE
    humans will EVER know the origin of life". YET Dawkins offered NOTHING
    at that time to rebut them.  WHAT COULD HE SAY?!
    2) "It has been privately revealed to Richard Dawkins that we do know life 
    began as the first self-replicating molecule."  SOUNDS GOOD! ANY EVIDENCE?
    WEELLL, if you consider Dawkins' statement that "it only had to happen once."
    Isn't that otherwise known as A MIRACLE? Perturbation of the laws of
    chemistry/physics…'JUST ONCE, PLEASE'.  GOOD LUCK with physicists/chemists!
    3) "Dawkins was brought up to have total & unquestioning faith" that the physical
    universe is of entirely natural phenomenon.  DESPITE "General Relativity" AND
    "Quantum Mechanics" BOTH deconstructing to UTTER, impossible infinity at
    the "Event Horizon": Singularity. AND Thermodynamics at paradox collapse
    differentiating between ex nihilo or eternal universe; BOTH of which it PRECLUDES WITHOUT EXCEPTION.
    4) "Richard Dawkins has been vouchsafed a strong inner conviction" that 
    religion has been a source of historical suffering/tragedy.
    "The Black Book of Communism" (Harvard University Press): "In fewer than 75
    years communism was responsible for 100 million deaths.'  EVERY!! communist
    country MANDATED ATHEISM!!
    In fewer than 10 years, NAZIsm, Fascism, Japanese supremacism killed 40 million.
    Absolutely NO CLAIMS of deific/religious predicate.
    Robert Pape, U. of Chicago: "Irredentism was overwhelmingly the impetus for terrorism; 1980-2010: 315 incidents studied. Religious associations below:region/race/language/ethnicity.'
    3-Vol "Encyclopedia of War": 'Of 1,763 wars from 262 BC to 2011, religious conflict
    accounts for 7.4%'.  LEAVING Dawkins to account for 92.6%!!
    largest world-wide provider of education/health-care/indigent services.
    He's quantifiably an ANTI-SCIENCE CHARLATAN!!!

  30. Antti Harju says:

    If I ever wanted to have a president for the human race, this would be the guy.

  31. Simon Cortez says:

    islands of rebellion huh?……not the best historical phrase….but go on….

  32. Simon Cortez says:

    islands of rebellion huh?……not the best historical phrase….but go on….

  33. RinaldoDegliAlbizzi says:

    This guy is so full of himself. Those anglican priests didn't put him in his place when they had the duty to do so.

  34. Chris Massey says:

    Is Dawkins a good pretender?

  35. PhiI93 says:

    The speech about his tutor was very touching.

  36. Chris Massey says:

    Do Christians control the universe?

  37. Bodomi says:

    Dawkins has given many great lectures, contributed to numerous discussions and lectures, but this speech, if you will, is one my most favourite.

  38. The Red Queen Defect says:

    I am in awe of this man, he is so poetic

  39. poshit nag says:

    Chant Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare and be happy…..what use is of those theories and arguments which make no way to peace and reduce my struggle for existence….neither the earthquakes, flood etc could be stopped nor there is a relief from death….so whats the point in fighting over arguments rather get the experience of wonderful life by singing and dancing to Hare Krishna maha mantra.

  40. Travis Trantham says: Hitler's real last name was Hitler. that aside, I'd love to meet Mr. Dawkins, and shake his hand.

  41. nidokim makkah says:

    What can account for the amazing staying power of religion? Why, exactly, won’t God go away?

    Most secular thinkers believe that religion is an entirely psychological invention—born out of confusion and fear—to help us cope with the struggles of living and comfort us in the face of the terrible certainty that we will die. But Andrew and Eugene d’Aquili offer a new explanation, at once profoundly simple and scientifically precise: the religious impulse is rooted in the biology of the human brain.

    Andrew and Eugene base this revolutionary conclusion on a long-term investigation of brain function and behavior as well as studies they conducted using high-tech imaging techniques to peer into the brains of meditating Buddhists and Franciscan nuns at prayer. What they discovered was that intensely focused spiritual contemplation triggers an alteration in the activity of the brain that leads one to perceive transcendent religious experiences as solid, tangible reality. In other words, the sensation that Buddhists call “oneness with the universe” and the Franciscans attribute to the palpable presence of God is not a delusion, or subjective psychology, or simple wishful thinking. The inescapable conclusion is that God seems to be hard-wired into the human brain.

  42. John Galt says:

    Has anyone noticed that Islam is taking over the world by population? You don't have to agree with it because it's your head on the chop block.

    Seems to me that the Western countries had lots more freedom under Christianity and as we chase christians to the curb…slowly the New World Order Globalists are bringing in more terror attacks, taking over more towns, demanding Sharia law and filling govt. positions with Muslim Brotherhood soooooo how brilliant are we?

  43. Chiradeep Sen says:

    When you consider that this man wrote the Selfish Gene when he was 35, and compare that to what most of us accomplish in the first 35 years of our lives, you begin to realize how far out of our leagues he really is. And then came one book after another. And what a fantastic teacher he was and still is – just look up the Royal Society lectures. I am thankful to modern technology and the internet that I and my children will have access to his work and talks for years to come. Thankfully, once it is out on the internet, it is out for good. Burning books worked in the middle ages. They can't do that to electrons.

  44. Gato Villano says:

    Its interesting to Wonder the what if that could have been if history was slightly different but irrelevant.  If Hitler would have been born in a different social context he would have very likely been a painter.  But without WW2 Wernher Von Braun wouldnt have migrated to american and allow us to send a man on the Moon.  It is more relevant to focus on the here and now. More importantly, we should focus on our goals as humanity as a whole.  Tolerance unites us and discord divides us.  Focusing on the pass brings discord.  The conflicts that last for many generations in the middle east is the best exemple (isn't it odd that the middle east is always a good exemple of the worst way to do everything =P ). Basically, if humanity insist on being divided, it will eventually fall. Yet, on a evolution stand point, if humanity destroys itself it will leave room for an other organism to thrive.

  45. Mario Ciattoni says:

    “It would be possible to describe everything scientifically, but it would make no sense; it would be without meaning, as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure.”
    ― Albert Einstein

  46. Lexus Fox says:

    Richard Dawkins is a true role model, it would be a nice thing to see scientists be considered celebrities the same way artists are.

  47. Free Science says:

    Free scientific thinking! Stop allying science with evolution or any other religion and forcing it on the next generation. Phenomena such as metamorphosis and thousands of others shout that evolution is far from proven. Let's just wonder at nature and its apparent programming; we do no service to mankind or the advancement of science by being illogical. On the contrary, forcing evolution onto the general public will herald a dark age of totalitarian suppression of logic. How sinister!

  48. crashoppe says:

    i believe people that hold this pedophile dick dawkins in high praise are sick and dont have any logic or reason. you probably dont even realize that dawkins feel that everyone that comments on this video doesnt even "deserve" to be alive. he believes any fetus that is "less that perfect" should be aborted and the parents should just try again. life doesnt mean enough to have any kind of value to him.

    dawkins doesnt care if his ideas destroy america as long as hes famous. he couldnt do it as a scientist so hes doing it as an atheist. i cant believe how many people blindly follow him
    atheists dont even seem to be intelligent enough to research and examine the evidence of what has happened when EVERY society has replaced the idea of God for this so called "reason". here's a few examples:

    Eugenics – let those in power decide who is worthy to live
    england became atheist and the muslims took over
    germany became atheist and the muslims took over
    cambodia became atheist and 25% of the population was killed
    the french jacobins, nazis, etc. all replaced a creator with their own lofty goals as to how to have total control over all civilization

    i could put a whole thesis in this comment on how atheism is only going to replace one idea for another and accomplish nothing but a bad outcome.

  49. crashoppe says:

    i believe people that hold this pedophile dick dawkins in high praise are sick and dont have any logic or reason. you probably dont even realize that dawkins feel that everyone that comments on this video doesnt even "deserve" to be alive. he believes any fetus that is "less that perfect" should be aborted and the parents should just try again. life doesnt mean enough to have any kind of value to him.

    dawkins doesnt care if his ideas destroy america as long as hes famous. he couldnt do it as a scientist so hes doing it as an atheist. i cant believe how many people blindly follow him
    atheists dont even seem to be intelligent enough to research and examine the evidence of what has happened when EVERY society has replaced the idea of God for this so called "reason". here's a few examples:

    Eugenics – let those in power decide who is worthy to live
    england became atheist and the muslims took over
    germany became atheist and the muslims took over
    cambodia became atheist and 25% of the population was killed
    the french jacobins, nazis, etc. all replaced a creator with their own lofty goals as to how to have total control over all civilization

    i could put a whole thesis in this comment on how atheism is only going to replace one idea for another and accomplish nothing but a bad outcome.

  50. Srithor says:

    I admire Richard Dawkins as a biologist and anti-religious humanist. However, not everything he has to say on historical details is accurate: "You may know that Hitler's real surname was Schicklgruber…Heil Schicklgruber!" is a misrepresentation. Adolf's father Alois Schicklgruber officially changed his name to "Hitler" in 1877, the later demagogue was born in 1889 with that surname.

  51. Saif Uddin Ahmed says:

    Evolution is a propaganda. It's a delusion of atheists.'s_Theory_and_Even_Opposite_to_Human_Evolution_Descent_of_Man_from_the_Lower_Animal_like_Chimpanzee

  52. Graham ASH-PORTER says:

    Ink! Wish I had thought of that!

  53. David Shaw says:

    I would venture to say, a clear objective look at the current time, for some, is impossible, why? I get the impression some have taken their education in science and turned it into a soft-power War against any belief system that can’t be quantified from a materialistic, Gov. Grant obtaining mindset. One of the many problems is re: Dawkins and many others have neglected the advancement and further progress in the very field they profess to be expert. That in my humble opinion smacks of -"The religion of this particular, view of biological Science" -No more hassles with experimentation.Therefore turning it in to a faith based belief system……Sorry, I caught myself "thinking" I will try to remember to ask Darwin for forgiveness,,,,,,,,, Darwin does deserve credit for observing what the Greeks did in the 2nd century B.C the "variations within species" called
    "Adaptation". It is a shame his brother, who was a socially and politically connected promoter ending up selling the idea of applying it to all things biological. A major thought mistake, implying that is it! We now know it ALL!!! This caps any further learning, because listening becomes nothing more than fake facial expression…then the attacks start.

  54. GodSmoko says:

    At 2:00 a lot of kids thougt the same way, too bad they got sexually abused and killed

  55. Be Love says:

    May God guide all atheist, he defenetely exists. The greatest thing you can find in life is that you have a Creator, and unhappiest life is the one which does not include him. You are born alone and die alone.

  56. Be Love says:

    The Ultimate Being from whom all exists – God. The Pure, The Perfect, The Absolute.

  57. lefu says:

    Firstly, great talk and Q&A.
    Secondly, my gripe is with videos and channels that take intellectualism seriously; why the fuck do they all have relatively high volume intros and outros to all their videos? TED, GoogTalks, Stanford OCW, look for any other seriously intellectual series and they all have super loud OP ED jingles that do absolutely nothing but trigger bouts of autistic aggression like what you're reading right now.

  58. Narciso de Almeida says:

    Wallace's very public advocacy of spiritualism and his repeated defence of spiritualist mediums against allegations of fraud ,learn from Wallace.fool.

  59. Oklahoma Norm says:

    Dawkins, Hitchins, Harris, Russell, James Haught, Jennifer Hecht, Judith Hayes and other great scholars have done moregood for humanities than all the preachers, theists, and other morons have done.

  60. Michael Thompson says:

    Hey, anyone who's listening, and Richard if he monitors this: I've just done some very basic calcs (using numbers from Google) and I reckon that the 500 million years ago the world had a surface temp of 100 C – water all boiled off. So, how come evolution had been functioning for the previous 3 bn years, at even hotter earth surface temps? If you don't like my question, please, do the calcs yourself, or ask me, and I'll send them to you. See Terrestrial heat flow, 1965.

  61. Colton McCoy says:

    Ray Kurzweil sem-interviewing Dawkins…. This is why I love google talks so much.

  62. Jonathan Burns says:

    Your belief system is antiquated and set in Victorian era, when are you going to account for the discoveries of MODERN scientists? As a biologist, how do you view the importance of clay in the formation of the 1st rna/dna strands?

  63. LOVE IN A VOID says:


  64. Stephen McDonald says:

    Richard Dawkins approach to religion is and completely definitively wrong. You aren’t going to change the world you are probably just going to change the capable and the lesser of us you will just change their snapshot frame of mind. You aren’t healing people instead you are more generally hurting people.
    I believe your time would be better used using religion as an aid to the humanities as an unconscious awakening. Of course religion is a long theological discipline, highly bullshit of the things it underqueaths. Which is why i believe religion needs to be more widespread, but not in its current state. I would like to work under him to make religion less highly smelling of bullshit somehow.
    You are going against some peoples natural instinct something that is very meaningful in their lives and instead leaving them more with emptiness rather than meaning. Meaning is very important in peoples lives. I think rather you should convert people to a new religion. Religion needs a remake to better serve the humanities. To me, all of current religion is fundamentalism, it is built up upon the ages which is highly capital of bullshit. Which is why it needs a rescript.
    I would like to tackle this huge immense problem, but i am lacking and too need guidance. I need support from someone that has a passion for this kind of thing.
    Richard Dawkins problem is that he is too focused on the bullshit. He frowns upon it and that is very linear thinking. Richard Dawkins is too smart for his own good seeing as how he is highly skilled but other dynamics of life need to approach him and he needs to be up to becoming a more enlightened individual. A sharp skill set or skill can lead to many smart endeavours, and in that sense he is more of a man than i will ever be. He has lived a life more immensual than i could comprehend and i applaud him for it. I worship you, but i just think that you need a better approach to this kind of mess.
    So please change your foundation so that it could be more widespread and be more ailing to the ailments of society. I just don’t want you to do something metaphorically in relation to trying to change a person’s personality completely because that is highly hard to do. You can’t uproot people from their origins and expect them to lead productive lives it just won’t happen. Thank you.

  65. Narciso de Almeida says:

    shame what ignorance,typical homosapien.

  66. Edward Yang says:

    The "golden rule" is not from religion. It is from humanism. It existed and was (re)invented in many cultures of different civilizations outside the context of any religion.

  67. Lachlan Maclean says:

    i go to monash university now and hearing that about mike cullen is very inspiring, if it werent for dawkins i would never had heard his name but undoubtedly he would have contributed so much to the school i study at every day, it seems like such a small word sometimes

  68. Gege Andersen says:

    What an amazing man. I am totally mesmerized by Dawkins.

  69. The Q says:

    TRIGGER WARNING! skip 32:18–33:55 A cancerous blithering moron asks a question!

  70. a MOFVGFDGD GD says:

    richard dawkins is so 2006

  71. pointyfinger says:

    Nice to know everything Doc but can you explain how the LSD experience is a separate consensus reality,….it has been bugging me since 1968,…..if all that is between our ears is electric jelly,….how is it possible?

  72. pointyfinger says:

    Hello Doc,….The LSD experience is a separate consensus reality, you may already know that if your memory serves you well,….how is that possible if all that is between our ears is electric Jelly?

  73. Brian Finnegan says:

    Google should be ashamed of what they did to James Damore

  74. Joaquim Assunção says:

    Wonderful speech. Dawkins is an inspiration for those who are attracted by science. His knowledge and skills in concatenate ideas are undeniable.

  75. Alexandru Popescu says:

    4:26 That's how zoology is pronounced!!

  76. Papageno says:

    WTF is he married with a Doctor Who companion? xD

  77. Nithin Kakkoth says:


  78. Louise Haley says:

    They have to make a movie based on his biography !

  79. Phillip Loco says:

    Richard Dawkins is a HERO

  80. Donald Hotep says:

    I always suspected the moai on Easter Island were depictions of rebellious humanist schoolboys during chapel services.

  81. Anonymous Man says:

    "Richard Dawkins is a racist because he is white."

    -Every "Vernacular" Democratic Pundit in America, (just as bad if even worse than the backyard scientists who exist there, except they don't even want to discover ANYTHING, even something as unrealistic as the Judeo-Christian god)

    Nevermind his sciency-piency credentials or pinnacle of human achievement, if Dawkins was an American in Californa (Berkeley), the left would eviscerate him because of his white privilege. Or, does their brand of preferential one-sided eekwality not matter when looking at the merits of someone by his character and not skin color? Let's pray to the non-existent god that the left changes here in America.
    The right isn't much better, but that's how it is.

    From my honest assessment of American politics living here, a fundamentalism and pseudo-scientific control mechanism is the right-wing endeavor (not educating children on the truth and instead using god as a control mechanism), and an anti-intellectual drivel generating societal sociopathy is the left-wing endeavor (mis-educating them and misrepresenting the objectivity of the sciences and shunning truth).

    Regardless of what you believe in America, you are not safe from anybody.
    As Fox Mulder says in the X-Files, Trust Nobody. Not even yourself. What your mind is capable of is especially deadly as a fundamentalist embracing magical thinking (left or right) in America.

  82. Anonymous Man says:

    As an IT professional, I'd be delighted to fix Dawkin's computer issues. lol

  83. Anonymous Man says:

    The guy at 33:03 should have been answered properly by Dawkins, "Do you think if I had a sex change that would fix the problem?" It's a fact that statistically women are drawn to their biological instinct to be the mother and emotional caretaker instead of the hunter/breadwinner. There is a clear biological trend in this regards with respect to the career fields women chose besides men, so I think this is an unfair question to pin a male dominance hierarchy on a person as distinguished and authored as Dawkins. Dawkins just said what the guy wanted to hear (but touched on the lack of this discrimination briefly), because if he gave an honest critique, the left would go insane thinking that he was a misogynistic bigot for having a slightly different opinion.

    Shall I be concerned as a male that Hillary Clinton went to college, and that there are more women going to college and getting educated than men? No?

    Even with this advantage, the data shows it is more along the lines of a women's choice of employment rather than a systematic disenfranchisement of women by the "oppressive male", a concept just as imaginary as the god of the Bible, (although the left prays to the "oppressive male" daily to excuse taking responsibility for their actions, while the right does so with their Jesus).

    A basic probability and statistics class will tell you that there are lurking factors. Hell, this is even in college generals! Do people know nothing of scientific principle?

  84. Aquilla Fleetwood says:

    Genesis 1: 14, the stars shall be for signs!
    Psalms 75: 6, exaltation comes from God out of the north!
    Google, the Northern Cross, by Aquilla Fleetwood, youtube!
    Google, Night Signs, by Aquilla Fleetwood, youtube!

  85. Übermensch says:

    Humanity will lose a great deal when this man dies.

  86. Albert Jackson says:

    People who believe that everything was created by a god have nothing to figure out about the universe. They say why question god? I question their IQ.

  87. Albert Jackson says:

    Whether a person believes in a creator can be determined by testing. You measure their IQ. If it is zero, then, they believe the entire universe was created by a god.

  88. Multiyapples says:

    As a Christian I love science but can’t take Richard Dawkins seriously.

  89. charlie morris says:

    Colin Wilson said you are an idiot and Arthur C. Clark for claiming there is no God then doing a TV series about ESP and other spiritual phenomenon.

  90. castroy64 says:

    Let’s talk about the making of a slave trader. Isn’t that how your family got it’s money, Richie?

  91. Eric Claey says:

    More like… the making of a pseudoscientist.

  92. GoVitasCom says:

    Former atheist, Angelo Stagnaro, explains why he renounced atheism because of their lies and deceits.

  93. GoVitasCom says:

    Sir Francis Bacon is credited as the man who developed the Scientific Method. Here are his own words: "A little science estranges a man from God; a lot of science brings him back. God has in fact written two books, not just one. Of course we are all familiar with the first book He wrote, namely Scripture; but He has written a second book called Creation. God's first creature was light. Of all virtues and dignities of the mind, goodness is the greatest, being the character of the Deity. There are two books laid before us to study and to prevent our falling into error; first the volume of the Scriptures which reveal the will of God; then the volume of the Creatures which express His power." THEISTS = GENIUS!

  94. GoVitasCom says:

    What caused the famous British atheist to become a Deist? The scientific data found within the DNA molecule! "Unlocking the Mystery of Life" video on YouTube convinced Antony Flew to renounce atheism and become a Deist.

  95. William Peterson says:

    When I wrote a very good paper though I was having a life-changing medical problem – the Professor offered to put his name first, fortunately, I ignored his desires. But this is greater. Mr. Cullen must have been a wonderful man.

  96. Bonnie Dario says:

    74 who shouldnt breed for the benefit of humanity

  97. P/S/A says:

    Recent study shows atheism creating phsycopaths they dont have any remorse for their own life and others because for them we are just animals and there is nothing to this,college shootings are result of it.where we are leading in this world.

  98. Louise Haley says:

    I can’t wait to see the movie. (They made one of Stephen Hawking).

  99. Louise Haley says:

    3:47 -“It being an Anglican School, they were very decent” – wasn’t RD molested in one of these “decent” Anglican schools ?
    Besides what does he have against Catholic ones ? They’re not ALL bad.
    I went to one as was never happier.

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