Richard Dawkins, one of nonfiction's bad boys, is the author of the newly released An Appetite for Wonder, the first volume of what will be a two-part memoir.
From his Q & A with Noah Charney for The Daily Beast:
Tell us a funny story about your Oxford experience.Richard Dawkins is Lee Child's hero (outside of literature).
It was my habit, when interviewing entrance candidates, to invite them to show how they could think, rather than test their knowledge. In pursuit of this aim, I sometimes asked them to estimate, very roughly, how far back in time we’d have to go before we hit a shared ancestor between the candidate and me. One young woman, when asked this question, looked me up and down intoned, in a slow, rural Welsh accent, “Back to the apes.”
When you wrote The Selfish Gene in 1976, it changed the way people thought of evolution and began the discussion of genes among the general populace. How did your academic career change with that book? Sometimes academe is wary or jealous of popular successes…
It did change my life in that I became more of a public figure. I had to get used to speaking on the radio, or writing newspaper articles. I was invited to present a BBC Horizon TV documentary on The Selfish Gene, but was too shy to do so. I recommended John Maynard Smith instead, and he did a very good job. I don’t think I suffered much from the jealousy effect you are talking about, unlike Carl Sagan who was never elected to the National Academy, almost certainly because of jealousy. By contrast...[read on]
Learn about Richard Dawkins's five favorite books.