Toss out the moderator for a better discussion

Here’s an interesting video – a discussion between Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss at the Australian National University recently.

I have a couple of thoughts about this event:

  1. It really only took place because both speakers were in Australia for the recent Global Atheist Convention in Melbourne. I think this endorse a point made by one journalist that such conventions do have important spin-offs. Of course there are economic ones – and this convention, which attracted over 4000 participants, would have brought tourists and money into Melbourne and Australia generally. That’s why governments actually help fund events like this.
    But this journalist was also talking about the intellectual and cultural benefits the convention brought to the country. The in the country inevitably leads to other events – TV interviews, debates, lectures and discussions like this. This contributes to the intellectual and cultural life of the country.
  2. Just look at how many people there were in the audience. it is gratifying to see top rate scientists creating such interest and drawing such crowds.
  3. The format of the discussion. Richard Dawkins has for some time expressed disappointment in the debate and moderated argument format. He repeats his reasons at the beginning of this video. Consequently he has undertaken a number of unmoderated discussions along the lines of this one. Personally I think they are successful – and much prefer them to debates which can end up as just glorified verbal boxing matches. I welcome readers thoughts on these formats.
    I look forward to such an unmoderated discussion where the participants have stronger difference. I like to think it could be successful. What do you think?

Thanks to:  Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss in conversation at ANU | The RiotACT.

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4 responses to “Toss out the moderator for a better discussion

  1. Joe 'Blondie' Manco

    I watched this video last night. Both Dawkins and Krauss express their dislike of the debate format (both had had debates the previous night – Dawkins vs Pell on Q&A and Krauss vs Badar at the ANU). I much prefer this format although I’m yet to see it between two people with opposing viewpoints.

    In reference to point 1, I just wanted to point out that in 2010 there was no government funding for this event. In 2012 the Victorian government helped with funding but the federal government did not. So, there’s room for improvement in that regard. Couldn’t agree more with everything else.


  2. Um, would the federal government help fund a Global Christian Convention? Or a Global Muslim Convention perhaps?

    If you want them to fund atheist conventions, they’ll have to fund theist conventions as well.

    Can’t have that can we.

    Australia is such a mess, thank god I didn’t move there.


  3. The answer to your question Klem, is yes. This was the bone of contention before the 2010 atheist convention. Organisers applied for funding normally given to such meetings, and which had been given to a recent Christian convention. They were turned down or ignored.

    However, the 2010 atheist convention was so successful, and such an obvious benefit to the country, that the state government coughed up this time.

    This sort of discrimination, or privilege for religion, is extremely common. Most governments, for example, allow tax exemption purely for relgion. Supernatural belief and its promotion, is considered a charity and gets exemption from taxation and local body rates.

    This is never allowed for non-supernatural beliefs.


  4. Um, would the federal government help fund a Global Christian Convention? Or a Global Muslim Convention perhaps?

    Klem is wrong again.
    Poor Klem.


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