October 7, 2009 in Writing
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October 7, 2009 · Writing

Richard Dawkins romps through Toronto

Everyone’s favourite atheist has a book out this fall and he’s on the road to promote it.

Everyone’s favourite atheist has a new book out this fall: The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution

From an excerpt on Wikipedia:

This book is my personal summary of the evidence that the ‘theory’ of evolution is actually a fact – as incontrovertible a fact as any in science.
—Richard Dawkins, The Greatest Show on Earth, p. vii


As part of the literary-industrial complex’s promotion efforts, he made a whirlwind voyage through Toronto’s media scene last week. Hamutal Dotan and I decided to join in the fun and cover the Indigo-organized book reading for Torontoist.

Richard Dawkins at UofT

Full house at Isabel Bader. Apparently lots of people like this guy. So for everyone who had to fork over $10 (or $100 in the case of this desperate soul) to see Dawkins, was it worth it?

Richard Dawkins at UofT

Only if you enjoy listening to celebrities read. Don’t get me wrong — Richard Dawkins has a beautiful voice and an even more beautiful writing style.

But about the only thing that I learned that I couldn’t have got from his book is the fact that his wife knows how to paint neckties. He was wearing one that featured various icons of evolution and apparently it’s one of his most cherished possessions.

Other than that, it was the usual Creationist-bashing that anyone who follows the evolution “debate” is familiar with.

Richard Dawkins at UofT

The Canadian twist, of course, was the abundance of self-congratulatory clapping to indicate how much saner we are than those crazy Americans. From Hamutal’s piece:

In a textbook case of preaching to the choir, Dawkins gleefully skewered the 44% of Americans who believe that “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so,” and his listeners laughed right along with him.

If Dawkins really wants to reach this group, is such a sarcastic, aggressive tone the most effective?

Again, from Hamutal’s piece

The very last question of the evening dealt with a recent attempt to repackage atheists under the more positive-sounding name “Brights.” Dawkins, a supporter of this movement, told the audience that the term never took off because it implied that non-believers were smarter than believers. “So?” he asked rhetorically, with an arched eyebrow and a knowing smile.

But at least he wasn’t as offensive as another angry atheist I’ve covered before.

Richard Dawkins at UofT

After the highly-regulated Q&A, it was off to the assembly-line style book signing. Streams of people were hustled past the sales table and given a brief moment with Dawkins to get their books signed — “No greetings! Just signatures” — and perhaps squeeze in a few moments of chit chat. Like most celebrities, Dawkins is a master at extricating himself from demanding questions (the swarms of Indigo staffers also helped on this front).

Richard Dawkins at UofT

All in all, not the most memorable event. But hey, at least I wasn’t the victim of a theft like I was the last time I covered something with Hamutal.

If you want to see pictures of someone who managed to score closer seats, Michael Willems has also has some shots on his blog.


This entry was written by Andrew Louis on October 7, 2009 and posted in Writing. It's tagged with , , , , , .