Richard Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist and the former Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University. He is the author of several of modern science's essential texts, including The Selfish Gene (1976) and The God Delusion (2006). Born in Nairobi, Kenya, Dawkins eventually graduated with a degree in zoology from Balliol College, Oxford, and then earned a masters degree and the doctorate from Oxford University. He has recently left his teaching duties to write and manage his foundation, The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, full-time.
Question: Are our debates over ‘big’ issues effective?
Richard Dawkins: Well, some of them are. I mean, if they're debates between two intelligent and educated people, they are conducted effectively. But if they're conducted between an intelligent, educated person on the one hand and Bill O'Reilly on the other, they're probably not, no.
Question: How could we better our public discussions?
Richard Dawkins: Perhaps have more intelligent people as television interviewers, rather than people like Bill O'Reilly, for a start. That might not be great for ratings, I suppose, but perhaps we should become less influenced by ratings.
Recorded on: October 21, 2009. Interviewed by Paul Hoffman.