View Full Version : A very interesting Richard Dawkins interview with a Christian right leader

16th August 2009, 06:56 PM
Someone just posted the uncut video of Richard Dawkins interviewing Wendy Wright for his television special The Genius of Charles Darwin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Genius_of_Charles_Darwin). It's an amazing video showing how a creationist thinks and responds to science. Dawkins is amazingly restrained as she launches into personal attacks and say's she being persecuted.

Wright is a creationist and the head of Concerned Women for America (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concerned_Women_for_America), which promotes Christian-right values.

Richard Dawkins interviews Wendy Wright (Part 1)

Richard Dawkins interviews Wendy Wright (Part 2)

Richard Dawkins interviews Wendy Wright (Part 3)

Richard Dawkins interviews Wendy Wright (Part 4)

Richard Dawkins interviews Wendy Wright (Part 5)

Richard Dawkins interviews Wendy Wright (Part 6)

Richard Dawkins interviews Wendy Wright (Part 7)

She denies speciation, won't say how old the Earth is, and blames racism on science. It's common creation ignorance until Wright claims she's being persescuted. During part five Wright says she was "arrested for just praying outside an abortion clinic." A rough transcript of that part:

For praying. Sure, a judge signed an injunction saying certain things cannot be done within 100 feet of abortion clinics in Houston .... and the judge sentenced me to jail for six months and a $500 fine.
A injunction is basically a judge made law. It only applies to certain people. I was not named on the injuction and yet found me guilty of it. Thankfully she was overturned by by a higher court. But there are experiences like that throughout the United States where certain people are told, um, um, punished for acting out their beliefs.

First, let's put that in context with this:

Abortion Opponents Rush Wichita Clinic; 130 Arrested - Protest: Activists scale fence, knock down counterdemonstrator.
Los Angeles Times (http://articles.latimes.com/1991-08-21/news/mn-917_1_operation-rescue)
August 21, 1991

WICHITA, Kan. — Anti-abortion demonstrators stormed the Women's Health Care Services abortion clinic Tuesday in defiance of a court order against blocking it, and 130 of them were arrested.
Mahoney was arrested under U.S. District Judge Patrick F. Kelly's order that cites the protest leaders with failure to post a $100,000 peace bond on Aug. 6. A peace bond is sometimes imposed when a group's activities may cause disorder or property damage.
Two more people named in the arrest order, Wendy Wright of Binghamton, N.Y., and Joe Slovenec of Cleveland, were in Wichita and said they planned to surrender.
During the clinic protest Tuesday, demonstrators knocked down two sawhorse barricades, scaled a wrought-iron fence and blocked the driveway of Women's Health Care Services, in what one officer described as the protesters' most aggressive action yet.
The protesters also knocked down an abortion rights demonstrator while rushing toward the building.
Women's Health Care Services, operated by Dr. George Tiller, has been a target of the protesters because he performs late-term abortions.

Full article: Los Angeles Times (http://articles.latimes.com/1991-08-21/news/mn-917_1_operation-rescue)

That clinic, Women's Health Care Services in Wichita, was the place where Dr. George Tiller (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Tiller) worked. Tiller, of course, being the doctor who was killed in his church by an anti-abortion protestor a few months ago. And following that murder, Randall Terry, the founder of Operation Rescue and one of the people with Wright in the early 1990s, said (http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/8967610531.html): "George Tiller was a mass-murderer. We grieve for him that he did not have time to properly prepare his soul to face God."

Then in 1992, a year later in Houston they were jailed for contempt of court for violating a retraining order:

Anti-abortion leader jailed in Houston
Author: Associated Press (http://docs.newsbank.com/g/GooglePM/DM/lib00377,0ED3D260E8EE7515.html)
Publish Date: August 28, 1992

HOUSTON -- Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry and the Rev. Joe Slovenec were jailed Thursday after a state judge ruled they had violated a demonstration limit issued during the Republican National Convention.

State District Judge Eileen O'Neill found the two abortion foes in contempt of an Aug. 6 temporary restraining order that prohibited protests within 100 feet of any abortion clinic or within 25 feet of anyone entering or leaving the clinics.
Flip Benham of Dallas, Wendy Wright and Keith Tucci in jail. ... Norman Weslin, leader of the group Lambs of Christ, also was arrested after demonstrating...

Or this one:

4 Abortion Foes Jailed After Defying Judge
New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/1992/08/16/us/4-abortion-foes-jailed-after-defying-judge.html)
Published: Sunday, August 16, 1992

A state judge sent four opponents of abortion rights to jail for up to six months on Thursday for violating a restraining order prohibiting them from demonstrating in front of abortion clinics here.

On Monday, the four Operation Rescue leaders went to a Planned Parenthood clinic here, prayed and tore up a copy of the judge's order. One, Flip Benham, asserted that they were just praying, not demonstrating, but Judge O'Neill ruled Wednesday that their actions violated her order.
In addition to Mr. Benham, they are the Rev. Patrick Mahoney, Wendy Wright and Bob Jewitt.

It was overturned, but the Texas Surpreme Court ruled they must post "$100 bond to win their release pending an appeal of the contempt of court ruling". Hardly a "victory," but the leader was claiming they were perscuted for praying, I guess forgetting about their history and the injunction.

Texas Supreme Court orders abortion protesters released
Author: AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN (http://docs.newsbank.com/g/GooglePM/AASB/lib00061,0EAD90320B512332.html)
Date: September 1, 1992

HOUSTON (AP) - The Texas Supreme Court on Monday ordered the release of six abortion protesters who were jailed for violating a judge's order to keep their distance from abortion clinics during the Republican National Convention.
Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry was among the six protesters who were jailed on contempt of court charges stemming from protests made at Houston clinics before and...

Terry said as much yesterday, saying, "We are going to jail this morning because we preached, prayed and made a plea to the President inside this 100-foot...

Far from being persecuted, Wright's group had to pay and pay big:

Abortion Foes' Court Losses Are Frustrating the Victors
Published: Saturday, June 11, 1994
New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/1994/06/11/us/abortion-foes-court-losses-are-frustrating-the-victors.html)

With millions of dollars in court judgments and a new Federal law barring demonstrators from obstructing access to abortion clinics, it might seem that abortion rights groups have won the decadelong battle over clinic blockades -- and been well-compensated in the process.

But the money has proved almost impossible to collect from the individuals and anti-abortion groups that have lost in court -- groups like Operation Rescue and Rescue America. And abortion rights organizations are beginning to acknowledge their frustration.
On May 9, a Houston jury ordered two anti-abortion groups to pay more than $1 million in punitive damages to a Planned Parenthood clinic that was disrupted by protests during the 1992 Republican National Convention.
Wendy Wright, a spokeswoman for Operation Rescue National in Dallas, cheerfully describes herself as living a life of poverty. "I live on donations," said Ms. Wright, who worked in Binghamton with Mr. Terry, then in South Carolina with Keith Tucci, the past director of Operation Rescue National, before moving to Texas to assist Flip Benham, the current director.

Full: New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/1994/06/11/us/abortion-foes-court-losses-are-frustrating-the-victors.html)

It's worth pointing the other cases when she was held in contempt of court, such as in Florida in 1993, but maybe for another thread.

That was Wendy Wright's best example of being a Christian persecuted in a country where 76% are Christians (https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/us.html). When creationists can't argue evidence or logic, they say they're victims.

16th August 2009, 07:37 PM
Thanks for taking the time to put all of that together! It's well-researched and very informative.

16th August 2009, 08:28 PM
This sort of stuff proves that fundies really do think differently (and vice versa). I'd love to see a brain scan of a skeptic and a fundie when shown clips of hot-button video and such. I have heard, though, that there have been scans done of "liberal" and "conservative" peoples and the results, unsurprisingly, reveals that the two brains are wired differently. Is it more nature or nurture though?

16th August 2009, 09:07 PM
It was very useful to see how Dawkins responds to these various claims. I kept wanting him to ask her for examples of what she thought should be taught. It seemed woefully naive, on her part, to use genetic variation as evidence against evolution, and Dawkins made short shrift of it. She seemed so well-coached on all the usual talking points, I was hoping to see how he responds to some of the more standard bits of 'evidence'.


16th August 2009, 10:48 PM
This sort of stuff proves that fundies really do think differently (and vice versa). I'd love to see a brain scan of a skeptic and a fundie when shown clips of hot-button video and such. I have heard, though, that there have been scans done of "liberal" and "conservative" peoples and the results, unsurprisingly, reveals that the two brains are wired differently. Is it more nature or nurture though?

So you're saving Gilbert and Sullivan are vindicated?

When all night long a chap remains
On sentry-go, to chase monotony
He exercises of his brains,
That is, assuming that he's got any.
Though never nurtured in the lap
Of luxury, yet I admonish you,
I am an intellectual chap,
And think of things that would astonish you.

I often think it's comical – Fal, lal, la!
How Nature always does contrive – Fal, lal, la!
That every boy and every gal
That’s born into the world alive
Is either a little Liberal
Or else a little Conservative!
Fal, lal, la!

Undesired Walrus
17th August 2009, 04:34 AM
Is there a particular 'pwnage' moment? It's hard to watch this all without suffering high blood temperature.

17th August 2009, 05:14 AM
Funny watching him ask her about all the fossils showing Human evolution only to have her change the subject... so he asks her again, and she changes the subject again... and again... and again...

17th August 2009, 03:03 PM
I could only stomach about one and a half of those clips, but I think I heard Ms. Wright use the phrase "So what I go back to is . . ." I wonder if this particular group has ever tried going forward. When she asked for evidence, he gave it. I particularly liked the bit where she assumed all evidence for evolution that's ever been collected is on display in the Smithsonian. I admit, I've never been there, but that seems horrifyingly naive.

17th August 2009, 03:42 PM
She certainly seemed to totally, completely and utterly fail to absorb and understand anything of what was said.
Dawkins said he would not like to live in a society based on Darwinian ideas,she persisted as if he had said the complete opposite.

And the really sad repetition of:
'show us the evidence'.
'Okay, here's the evidence.'
'we need to see the evidence.'
'Here you go: fossil A, B, C ... homo sapien.'
'The hardcore evolutionists have shown us no evidence.'
'Well, here are the fossils'
'I have been to the museum and the only evidence is drawings. Where is the concrete evidence?'

At this point maybe dropping an australopithecus fossil on her head might have an effect...

And that is just one little snippet of the gobsmacking rubbish she kept spouting.

Actually quite compulsive watching.

17th August 2009, 04:19 PM
If you're distressed about her, this may give you some comfort:


XKCD (http://xkcd.com/154/)

license (http://xkcd.com/license.html)

18th August 2009, 07:50 PM
I felt stupider and stupider the more I watched, so I had to stop at video #4.

I admire Dawkins' patience in talking with her.

18th August 2009, 08:07 PM
God, her self-assured laugh in the first video made my brain puke.

18th August 2009, 09:37 PM
I felt stupider and stupider the more I watched, so I had to stop at video #4.

Admittedly one wouldn't have to be especially clever to be more clever than she is, but surely watching it couldn't make you feel stupider.

9th September 2009, 08:51 PM
According to New Scientist, Dawkins uses this interview in his new book "The Greatest Show on Earth":

...Dawkins provides a transcript of his interview with the president of Concerned Women for America which reads like a Monty Python skit as the woman, a bullheaded creationist, simply answers all of Dawkins's sophisticated argumentation by saying she's not convinced - like a cartoon character standing in front of a hail of bullets taunting, "You missed me."

Source (http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20327256.400-review-the-greatest-show-on-earth-by-richard-dawkins.html)

9th September 2009, 09:29 PM
The OP vids are down. Do you have a different link?

10th September 2009, 03:08 PM
Yeah, I get a video removed message when I try to play them.

11th September 2009, 08:45 AM
A quick search of the title the OP gave us yields:
www . youtube . com / watch?v= US8f1w1cYvs

(Sorry, I can't link yet)

11th September 2009, 10:15 AM
Here are the new & improved links (Thanks GreyArea):








11th September 2009, 11:27 AM
Here are the new & improved links (Thanks GreyArea)

You're welcome. And thank you for putting all the parts together like that. It'll make it easier for me to watch it when I'm ready.

I looked for this on Richarddawkins Net but couldn't find it. Is it a DVD extra or something?

11th September 2009, 02:54 PM
Man, these really are hard to watch. My ears are ringing from the /facepalms.

11th September 2009, 07:17 PM
Me too, I made it through 1 1/2 of them. What an annoying lady. Why didn't Dawkins bring some bones with him?:)

12th September 2009, 12:47 AM
This woman regularly lies throughout the interview, and you can tell from watching her that she's aware of it in several instances. By the third part of the video she's tripping over her words as she's trying to take the statements by Dawkins and re-mold them into the strawmen her ideology is built to knock down.

13th September 2009, 09:32 AM
Well, I can't take a look at the video now as I'm at work but all I wanna say is that the Dawkins-Ben Stein interview was a major dissapointment for me, in terms of how Dawkins handled it. I'm not blaming it exclusively on Dawkins, I do believe Ben Stein has mastered a kind of rethorical manipulation when it comes to the art of making an interview seem as if the other side was being inconsistent when it actually isn't (which is what Stein achieved by seeming extremely calm and making Dawkins seem extremely nervous).

So I'm hoping this interview will redeem that feeling for me.

But then again, from the feedback I've been reading in this thread, it seems unlikely that I'll be able to hold through the entire interview.

13th September 2009, 05:43 PM
The answer is, "you can't win arguing with these hard case ideologues". There is no point in even trying. It was kind of disappointing Dawkins didn't just say, well, hey you want proof? Come with me. He could have had a limo outside waiting to whisk them off to the museum. But, of course that would not work either. It's pretty much the same thing as the JW's at my door trying to talk me into their schtick. Just annoying, not interesting.

13th September 2009, 10:47 PM
Well, you know, by the time I reached the half of part 2, I realized it's pointless.

You can't argue, I insist, you can't argue these subjects with these people. The reason of this is because it isn't about evolution and religion. It isn't about God vs no God. It's about a much more, deep, underlying reason. It's the people who are still living in the Dark Ages, when you couldn't possibly fathom the concept of there being no soul. That's right. Soul. This is all about the damn qualia. Everything else comes from that. In other words, forget Dawkins, Hawking, Darwin or Feynman. These people need to read Dennett. The whole issue is about Qualia. People need to be shown the basic fallacies of the apparently logical assumption that there has to be a Qualia. There doesn't have to be one.

You get a very good idea of this at the very beginning of the interview, when this woman speaks about the need to believe and how that has (in her view of reality) proved to be the only way for societies to live in an ethical way.

Until this essential point is addressed, everything else (and yes, that includes evolution and trying to tell someone for the 20th time that the fossil evidence is in the goddamn museums) is simply put pointless. They are not going to listen. We are not approaching the issue at the root. We're attacking the leaves. And the leaves will keep on being replaced by newly born leaves. You have to deal with the root.

I remember once I was at this bar and I met this guy. Really cool fella. He started talking about how annoyed he was at these Christian folks who would come over to him and try to sell him the idea of Jesus. He mentioned how he once just told one of them "Thank you but I'm a Satanist" just to shake the guy off. I thought "Heh, what a cool guy". Later, on the same evening, he mentioned how he "knew" that there just had to be something more than just the physical. In other words, he believed in Qualia.

A lot of people don't buy into Religion anymore, because they can see it's not different from any other fairy tale. But the Folk Belief in a qualia is still deeply rooted in the mind of thousands of millions of individuals.

We have not, in my opinion, fully approached this type of education yet. And part of the reason is because we keep dealing with the leaves, the consequences of this essential belief in Qualia. That is: Religion, Psi Balls, Dowsing, Psychic Powers, OBEs, etc.

So I will rephrase it one more time: It's not about Religion. The essence of the problem is the still inherent belief in Qualia.

14th September 2009, 02:53 AM
... People need to be shown the basic fallacies of the apparently logical assumption that there has to be a Qualia. There doesn't have to be one..

"Qualia" is plural, singular "quale".

14th September 2009, 09:00 AM
Ron, I really enjoyed Dennett's "Darwin's Dangerous Idea", although some of it was above my head.

Could you expand on your qualia point?

14th September 2009, 10:08 AM
Ron, I really enjoyed Dennett's "Darwin's Dangerous Idea", although some of it was above my head.

Could you expand on your qualia point?

My point was in the previous post: There is a sense, a primitive inner hunch within our deep unconscious mind, that there has to be something else beyond the physical. A desire that comes from both an initial lack of technology to explain the phenomena in nature (which was then "explained" with myths) and the fact that we have a consciousness and thus we're the only creatures who have an awareness of Death, which perhaps motivates us to cling to some supernatural belief that Death is not the end.

Everything else, within the Woo library, emanates from that.

14th September 2009, 10:09 AM
"Qualia" is plural, singular "quale".

I'll keep it in mind, thanks.
When english is your second language, you're always learning new details.

14th September 2009, 04:41 PM
I looked for this on Richarddawkins Net but couldn't find it. Is it a DVD extra or something?

It's part of The Genius of Charles Darwin: The Uncut Interviews (http://store.richarddawkins.net/products/the-genius-of-charles-darwin-the-uncut-interviews):

26 uncut interviews from ‘The Genius of Charles Darwin’, British Broadcasting Awards’ Best Documentary Series of 2008.

Richard Dawkins’ 2008 hit television series ‘The Genius of Charles Darwin’ explored Darwin’s theory of natural selection and some common misconceptions associated with it today. The interviewees filmed for this documentary included biologists, philosophers, clergyman, business analysts, teachers, Evolutionary Psychologists and more. This massive 3-DVD collection brings you over 18 hours of these fascinating uncut interviews and discussions.

14th September 2009, 10:15 PM
I would additionally like to add this quote by CS Lewis which someone else provided on a different forum and which I think sums up my thoughts on the whole issue of Qualia, in a much more perfect sense that I could have ever dreamed of:

"In order to keep this section short enough when it was given on the air, I mentioned only the Materialist view and the Religious view. But to be complete I ought to mention the In-between view called Life-Force philosophy, or Creative Evolution, or Emergent Evolution. The wittiest expositions of it come in the works of Bernard Shaw, but the most profound ones in those of Bergson. People who hold this view say that the small variations by which life on this planet 'evolved' from the lowest forms to Man were not due to chance but to the 'striving' or 'purposiveness' of a Life-Force. When people say this we must ask them whether by Life-Force they mean something with a mind or not. If they do, then 'a mind bringing life into existence and leading it to perfection' is really a God, and their view is thus identical with the Religious. If they do not. then what is the sense in saying that something without a mind 'strives' or has 'purposes'? This seems to me fatal to their view. One reason why many people find Creative Evolution so attractive is that it gives one much of the emotional comfort of believing in God and none of the less pleasant consequences. When you are feeling fit and the sun is shining and you do not want to believe that the whole universe is a mere mechanical dance of atoms, it is nice to be able to think of this great mysterious Force rolling on through the centuries and carrying you on its crest. If, on the other hand, you want to do something rather shabby, the Life-Force, being only a blind force, with no morals and no mind, will never interfere with you like that troublesome God we learned about when we were children. The Life-Force is a sort of tame God. You can switch it on when you want, but it will not bother you. All the thrills of religion and none of the cost. Is the Life-Force the greatest achievement of wishful thinking the world has yet seen?"

Indeed. Is the Life-Force the greatest achievement in the realm of wishful thinking? I like to think that this may be how Wishful Thinking has evolved. It started with the most primitive forms, which became extinct as mankind became more educated about how the world was. These memes were replaced by other more powerful memes: The Religion Memes. However, in our current era, despite the still over ruling pressence of Religion Memes, the one that seems to be promising to be the future "Empire" so to speak is the Life-Force Meme.

15th September 2009, 08:44 AM
"(M)ere mechanical dance of atoms"?

Wow. The universe is full of the most beautiful, wonderous things, but to some people, that's not enough. That they can see anything this fantastic as a 'mere mechanical dance of atoms' unless a god is present, is beyond me.

12th October 2009, 10:32 AM
What self-righteous, condescending tripe; I watched the whole thing.

I just watched some other videos of her on YouTube. It's hard to tell what's going on. At the very first, I'm checking for red flags of a psychiatric disorder. Perhaps a personality disorder. Perhaps she thinks Jesus visits her personally. Perhaps her unusual calm is actually a flat affect symptomatic of psychosis.

But seeing her on other videos, she seems more at home debating public policy rather than science. Her very poor performance debating Dawkins may be exactly what it appears to be-- pride in ignorance. She knows just what she needs to call foul on the system.

12th October 2009, 10:58 AM
So I will rephrase it one more time: It's not about Religion. The essence of the problem is the still inherent belief in Qualia.

I think I've come to a somewhat similar conclusion.

Religion/sprituality/whatever is just a lot of fancy flowery cultural symbols/behaviours around a very simple emotional axiom.