A new Dawkins interview

Hot off the press, with almost no YouTube views, we have a six-minute interview that Richard gave yesterday to the BBC’s “Sunday Morning Live” (the interviewer isn’t named). This is his first real appearance, beyond his videotaped Reason Rally speech, on a televised interview. Considering his stroke, he seems to be doing very well despite, as he admits, a slight tiredness in his voice (he’s also lost his ability to sing).

I doubt there is much that those who follow Richard will learn from this, but it’s still worth watching for as least one thing. At 5 minutes in, the interviewer seems to become a bit insensitive, not only asking him about his mortality and what he thinks lies beyond the grave (the answer should be clear), but then asking him if he’s changed his mind about that (the answer is equally clear). She seems to be probing, à la Larry Alex Taunton, whether Richard might be flirting with God after his stroke.

I doubt that an interviewer would ask the same question to, say, the Archbishop of Canterbury. “So, Archbishop Welby, have you considered the possibility that you’re dead wrong about your faith, and that when you die, well, that’s all, folks?”

Note Richard’s different-colored socks. I’m trying to find out what’s up with that.


  1. RichardS
    Posted June 21, 2016 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    You never can tell with socks. I once attended a poetry reading in London by the English poet, Robert Graves. He came dressed in a tux with chartreuse socks. 🙂

  2. Posted June 21, 2016 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    He wrote this about wearing odd socks a couple of months ago – https://richarddawkins.net/2016/04/join-the-trend-wear-odd-socks/

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted June 21, 2016 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

      I’m about to follow the link, but my hypotheses were initially : (1) colourblind (r /g) ; (2) his wife is an actor, sufficient reason; (3) pure iconoclasm.
      Off to follow link.

      • Posted June 21, 2016 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

        Yes, what GI Aidan said.
        I frequently wore mismatched socks as a young man for the devil of it, and now I’m currently in my “Don Johnson” phase of personal stylings. If it weren’t for the goat heads I’d not wear shoes either.

      • Posted June 22, 2016 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

        I can’t speak for Dawkins, but I do it out of laziness sometimes – I pick out two that look more or less the same and realize later that one is slightly different.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted June 22, 2016 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

          Like I said – I do my sorting at the shop – charcoal grey. Very hard to tell the difference without counting holes – as the Bishop said to the choirboys.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted June 21, 2016 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

      [Read RD’s reasons] I took a different tack to the same problem. Given a choice, charcoal grey socks ; do the pairing as they come out of the drying basket/ bag ; move on.
      But for functional reasons I still differentiate socks : pure wool next to the skin and thick ( cable-knit ?) socks next to the boot. It reduces blisters in my use case. The “charcoal grey” is good for the woollies, but not so available for “boot socks”. If you’re going to be different, be glaringly different!

    • p. puk
      Posted June 21, 2016 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

      I stopped matching socks for many of the same reasons Richard gives. It was about the time I left home and had to do my own washing, match socks and mourn orphans.

      Over the decades many people have asked me why – or told me that – my socks don’t match. My stock comment is that I was sorry and that I didn’t read the instructions and wasn’t aware that matching was obligatory.

      • Posted June 21, 2016 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

        I don’t have to match socks: I have only one kind (aside from hiking boot socks, of which I also have a single kind). All the socks go together, no effort required.

        • BobTerrace
          Posted June 21, 2016 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

          I only have left socks.

          • Ken Phelps
            Posted June 21, 2016 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

            Well if you’re one of those dancers with 2 left feet, that could be pretty convenient.

          • TnkAgn
            Posted June 22, 2016 at 12:30 am | Permalink

            I actually have a pair of socks that say “R” and “L” Silly, but I don’t dare to put them on without checking.

            • Wunold
              Posted June 22, 2016 at 12:55 am | Permalink

              Runner’s socks often have L and R printed on them, because they are slightly asymmetrical.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted June 21, 2016 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

      I’ve accidentally worn odd shoes to work a couple of times. Rushing to get ready for work, going through all the morning ablutions half asleep and eventually grabbing two shoes that looked the same from the dark wardrobe. Luckily I mostly sat behind a desk.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted June 21, 2016 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

        And we’re all talking about socks and the interviewer.

        I need to add how lovely it is to hear from Professor Dawkins again! His mind is still as sharp as ever.

        • Wunold
          Posted June 22, 2016 at 12:32 am | Permalink

          I see that as a good sign. To us, it’s just no big news he didn’t come to god(s) just because of a major setback. We’re happy he seems to be out of the woods, so socks are all that is left to talk about. 🙂

        • Posted June 22, 2016 at 3:24 am | Permalink

          Yes, but his evolutionary reductionism is just as bizarre as ever. At least to those of us who learned our biology from Ernst Mayr and our paleontology from S. J. Gould.

          And why make such a bother about the god-myths? I suppose he must really care about whether or not there is pie in the sky.

          • Posted June 22, 2016 at 4:00 am | Permalink

            “And why make such a bother about the god-myths?”

            Hmm… it seems you haven’t been reading this bl— … website for very long, Fred.


          • craigp
            Posted June 22, 2016 at 4:08 am | Permalink

            I doubt he cares much about “whether or not there is a pie in the sky”. That argument is more or less settled. I think he cares more about what that belief does to the public understanding of science. Religion and science are 2 fundamentally different ways of viewing the universe and any religious belief corrupts the scientific understanding. Dawkins was Charles Simonyi professor for the public understanding of Science, hence his work to promote a scientific world view over a religious world view.

          • Wunold
            Posted June 22, 2016 at 7:13 am | Permalink

            Gould failed to contribute to the discussion with his NOMA hypothesis which is rejected by secular and religious thinkers alike. I prefer Dawkins’ open and honest but always fairspoken rejection of any reconciliability of science and religion.

          • Heather Hastie
            Posted June 22, 2016 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

            Sorry Fred, but I see that comment as rather mean-spirited. He has a right to express his opinion just like anybody else on the god myths, and his doing so has brought many to the same realization. In fact, after many years of vague deism, it was while watching a Dawkins documentary that I finally clicked there’s no God.

      • Wunold
        Posted June 22, 2016 at 12:23 am | Permalink

        I have only black socks, so I never know when I wear odd pairs. People don’t seem to recognize it either, or they are too polite to tell me.

        As for dark closets, having mostly black clothes makes it sometimes very difficult to find specific items in a big pile, like after doing laundry in the evening. But it helps keeping one mentally agile.

    • Marella
      Posted June 21, 2016 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

      I wear matching socks only because the different socks have different elastic tightnesses and lengths, so they feel different, which I find distracting. #oversensitive

  3. Rachel Truman
    Posted June 21, 2016 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Richard explains about the odd socks here:

  4. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted June 21, 2016 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    I can’t put a name to the interviewer, but she’s one of the regular “talking heads” on BBC morning news TV.

    • craigp
      Posted June 21, 2016 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

      Her name is Naga Munchetty.

      • Posted June 21, 2016 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

        Isn’t that a mythical kind of cobra? A good name for an interviewer!


      • Johnw
        Posted June 21, 2016 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

        She was fine. The cadence, her seeking quick questions, are all editing.

        • Dower_House
          Posted June 25, 2016 at 5:12 am | Permalink

          I found the editing quite stracting to the flow.

  5. Amy
    Posted June 21, 2016 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    I know about the socks. He mentioned in one of his tweets: he does not have a particular preference for Democrats or Republican. 🙂

    • Amy
      Posted June 21, 2016 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

      Or maybe I’m wrong — the case might be I had that impression when I saw him wearing the strange socks. :))

      • Amy
        Posted June 21, 2016 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

        I don’t vote. But if I do, overall I’m on the Democrats side, but I do worry, the regressive left is way too stupid, what if the Democrats can’t do self clean?

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted June 21, 2016 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

      He treads the grapes of those wrathful ones equally?
      (Does EN_US have the same possible interpretations of “grapes” as EN_GB?)

      • Posted June 21, 2016 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

        If by “grapes” you mean “huevos”, then yes.

  6. merilee
    Posted June 21, 2016 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    I have some great multicolored socks that come in pairs, though unmatched. Also got a set of 5 socks for my granddaughter, all different colors and patterns. you GO richard!

  7. merilee
    Posted June 21, 2016 at 1:28 pm | Permalink


  8. BobTerrace
    Posted June 21, 2016 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    I found that to be an unsatisfactory interview. I feel the interviewer did not try beyond clichés.

  9. craigp
    Posted June 21, 2016 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    The interviewer is Naga Munchetty. She works for the BBC, on breakfast TV, among other things.

  10. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted June 21, 2016 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    If I were more thoroughly and classically religious than I am and interviewing Richard Dawkins I might consider asking him if he has re-evaluated Catholicism (morally NOT doctrinally!) in the light of Pope Francis, or evolution-religion re Francis Collins, but I would regard it is incredibly rude and intrusive (or as Dawkins would colorfully say “effrontery”!!- a word his accent makes even more delightful) to ask him about re-evaluating anything in the light of his stroke. As bad as any question ever asked by Barbara Walters!

    (I guess I am “residually religious” like many Unitarians and culturally and ethically a liberal-Christian/Buddhist, but far far too skeptical of all supernaturalism to be much else. So come to think of it the issue I would be most likely to challenge RD on is Einsteinian religion.)

    • Filippo
      Posted June 21, 2016 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

      “As bad as any question ever asked by Barbara Walters!”

      Barbara Walters was not content to merely ask questions; she felt entitled to give her unsolicited opinions, little digs and cutting personal remarks over the air to be heard by millions.

      • dabertini
        Posted June 22, 2016 at 7:00 am | Permalink

        …and those batting eye lashes!! Sheesh.

  11. onur engin
    Posted June 21, 2016 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    I am sorry but the way the interviewer brings the question on “what lies beyond” is totally disgusting! First, with a smile, asking Richard how he is doing just like that is what she cares about, but then hits w/ the real question in mind.

    • ToddP
      Posted June 21, 2016 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

      Agreed. Very disgusting. Do the religious folks ever just take a moment and try to realize not only how incredibly insensitive such questions are, but how badly it paints their supposed Deity?

      “Now that you’ve suffered through [insert health crisis], doesn’t it make you consider the existence of a loving savior?”


      “Now that you’re dying of a terrible disease, don’t you want to embrace an omnipotent, benevolent God?”

      It’s completely callous and so totally clueless. Why don’t they ever pose such questions to people on the BEST days of their lives rather than when they’re sick or dying?

      • Posted June 21, 2016 at 10:25 pm | Permalink


        People who aren’t desperate are much less likely to embrace the fantastic.

  12. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted June 21, 2016 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    I have sometimes worn different colored socks. When this is pointed out to me, I just say ‘and I have another pair just like them!’

    • Frank Bath
      Posted June 21, 2016 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

      I’ve even been out in odd shoes, but that was a mistake.

  13. Posted June 21, 2016 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    I wasn’t too bothered by her questions about his own position on faith and mortality. He certainly wasn’t! I think he enjoyed the opportunity to reiterate his lack of belief.

    I see it this way: It’s a man bites dog situation. Someone has religious faith is not news ((hence she likely wouldn’t ask the Archbishop of Canterbury). If they do not, and are very public about it, that is news. (Maybe some day it won’t be — I hope so — but for now, it is.)

    I think she was respectful while doing her job: I’m sure many in the UK are interested in Dawkins’ particular case regarding religious faith. (And the religious are always desperate for a conversion story: Sure click bait or dial-bait.)

    • Wunold
      Posted June 21, 2016 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

      I concur. The questions were absolutely appropriate and politely phrased, and they gave him an opportunity to publicly fortify his inviolate unbelief.

      • keith cook + / -
        Posted June 21, 2016 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

        I agree too, the interview to me was a ‘I’m still here’ and that was good to see, all the while not over taxing her guest, given what he has been through. She seemed aware of his health advice.

  14. Randall Schenck
    Posted June 21, 2016 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    The difficult thing today would be to find an interviewer/journalist who does a respectable interview. Even those who made a living on the interview tend to be very poor…such as Charlie Rose.

  15. Posted June 21, 2016 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Some people would have no problem beating someone into brain damage if their “conversion” confirmed their own faith.

  16. Posted June 21, 2016 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  17. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted June 21, 2016 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    After watching the video I googled “Richard Dawkins singing”.

    Most of the hits are either something to do with Richard Dawkins and Peter Singer, or stories about a Christian heavy metal singer who gave up on religion after reading Christianity.
    One was a video made by a very snarky self-aggrandizing Christian with a clip of Dawkins explaining why he likes to sing Christmas carols.

    • JonLynnHarvey
      Posted June 21, 2016 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

      I meant after reading DAWKINS! Ouch.

    • darrelle
      Posted June 22, 2016 at 6:59 am | Permalink

      That story of the Metalcore band lead singer losing his religion is excellent. A great example of how a few brain cells, decent ethics and a bit of giving a shit about what is actually true, can be inimical to religion.

  18. Amy
    Posted June 21, 2016 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    Glad to see Dawkins looks good! His voice used to reminds me Harry Porter’s voice, maybe that was just wrong impression, but that’s what I felt. Hope Dawkins getting better & better.

    “Violence” is the line should never be crossed when atheists defense against religions — a very good question and a very good answer.

    Happened to find this video today, I think it is an interesting debate to watch. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEA8rTQkim8

    • Shwell Thanksh
      Posted June 21, 2016 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

      Me too! It’s great to see him in public form again, still so much his singular, charming self. He’s one of my heroes.

    • Wunold
      Posted June 22, 2016 at 12:15 am | Permalink

      Another important point was to use argument and evidence instead of insults.

  19. Ken Kukec
    Posted June 21, 2016 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    I doubt that an interviewer would ask the same question to, say, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

    Yeah. I’ve never known a nonbeliever to go up to a bereaved believer and try to comfort them by saying the deceased “had a good life, enjoyed it while it lasted; now it’s done and over. Good Night, Irene.”

    The faithful, on the other hand, have no similar compunction about attempting to comfort even professed nonbelievers with blather about the deceased being in a better place, enjoying eternal happiness, awaiting ultimate reunion with family and friends.

  20. grasshopper
    Posted June 21, 2016 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    I have always had a penchant for thick socks. My siamese cat had a penchant for chewing holes in them and also carrying them into the street and dropping them there. And she would take them from the laundry basket, freshly washed and dried, so, no! It wasn’t about the smell lol. Wearing odd socks became necessary.

    One of my favourite “Dad jokes”-
    Do any of your socks have holes in them?
    Then how do you get your feet inside them.

    • Posted June 22, 2016 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      I suspect that a lot of people would protest that a hole in sock has to “go all the way through”. The philosophers Achille Varzi and Roberto Casati have a book all about holes which explorers the craziness of these folk intuitions.

  21. Siggy in Costa Rica
    Posted June 21, 2016 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    Nice to see that he’s doing well after the stroke. He seems just as sharp minded as before and hopefully with time his voice will recover.

  22. Michael Waterhouse
    Posted June 21, 2016 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    I think the question was a reasonable one and reasonably asked.
    I think it is important that the correct answers to those kinds of questions are heard.

    Nothing lies beyond.

  23. TnkAgn
    Posted June 22, 2016 at 12:32 am | Permalink

    Mismatched socks? I’ll bet he has an identical pair at home.

  24. boggy
    Posted June 22, 2016 at 2:53 am | Permalink

    I knew a teacher who wore a red Wellington boot on her left foot and a green one on the right. These signify port and starboard in nautical parlance. There is a joke about knickers (panties) from C&A which I will not explain.

  25. Posted June 22, 2016 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    I’m very glad to see Richard doing so well!

  26. Posted June 25, 2016 at 12:35 am | Permalink

    Odd socks? Naw, got another pair just like that at home 🙂

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