I went to tonight’s Richard Dawkins lecture with my friend Catherine.
Dawkins is very popular in a certain circle (which I broadly include myself in), and it sold out within 2 hours of tickets going on sale, thankfully I was able to acquire a couple of tickets from a friend.
Dawkins has fascinating ideas, can present them in entertaining ways, and of course has a terribly sharp mind, so of course it was good, but the evening could still be improved with just a couple of small tweaks to the format. For one thing, by embracing the audience – question time was really engaging, cutting 10 minutes from Dawkins’ monologue to add to the interactive portion would have enhanced both.
It is a problem, of course, that you never know how many questions you’re going to get, or what the quality of those questions will be, so this might be a dangerous approach.
Secondly, and this could sound a bit lowbrow, but it would have been nice to have had slides to illustrate each point he was making as he spoke – he was in front of a pair of gigantic projection screens, and Auckland University Distinguished Professor Brian Boyd used them during his introduction, so the facility was certainly available.
Incidentally, the attached photo is of his reaction to being asked about the Symphony of Science videos – in which he has involuntarily (if that’s the right word) appeared – he has watched them, and indeed seems to find them quite delightful.