Gillian Brown's reply to Skeptic Mag.

Allen Roy (
Mon, 28 Sep 1998 11:02:59 -0700 (MST)

Here's the response to the skeptics article which will be published.
Basically the question in question was off camera, so it was
re-recorded by the narrator. Dawkins simply couldn't answer the
question. The unedited tape is available for anyone who'd like to see


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"The first to present his case seems right, until another comes forward
to question him." (Proverbs 18:17)

Response from Gillian Brown, Keziah Video Productions, to Barry
Williams, author of Skeptics September '98 article, " Creationist
Deception Exposed".

Barry Williams,

You have written an article, published in the Skeptics journal, which
claims to "demonstrate the depths to which the creationist movement
will stoop in order to try to discredit its critics", in which you
denigrate my character and work, and that without having spoken to me
at all. In respect of fairness I would request that you publish my
response in full.

Your article recounts Prof. Dawkins' recollection of an interview,
which is included in the video "From a Frog to a Prince", which I
produced, in which Dawkins is seen to pause for 11 seconds, and evade a
simple question. As you yourself say, "It beggars belief that
someone of Richard Dawkins' stature in the field would have been
stumped by such a simple question or would have evaded it." So, you
conclude that Dawkins was "set up", with "malicious intent", in "a
piece of crude propaganda", "deliberately manipulated" with "deceitful

Firstly, I would like to say that if you are going to publish a
slanderous attack against someone, it is considered responsible
journalism to at least inquire into both sides of the story, and in
this case, before making accusations regarding the circumstances of an
interview it would have also been circumspect to have viewed the
unedited tape. That way you could have presented a serious
investigation of the matter, and avoided making illinformed and false

You state in the article that, "perhaps it could be argued that Prof.
Dawkins' memories of the eventsmight have deteriorated with the passage
of time since the interview..." In fact, whether from memory lapse or
for other reasons, the recollection of Dr. Dawkins is riddled with
inaccuracies and some downright untruths. Following is an accurate
account of the interview, which may be confirmed by viewing the
unedited video tapes.

Dr Dawkins makes a number of incorrect statements:

1. "On September 16, 1997, Keziah Video Productions, in the persons
of Gillian Brown and Geoffrey Smith, came to my house..."</italic>

GB >> I was accompanied by a former geologist, Philip Hohnen, not
Geoffrey Smith.

2. "...I was challenged to produce an example of an
evolutionary process which increases the information content of the
genome. It is a question that nobody except a creationist would

GB >> That question actually came at the end of the interview. At the
beginning, Philip Hohnen asked several general questions on the origin
of new information. These questions are recorded on tape and may be
viewed, either on tape or transcripted, by anyone interested in the
exact nature of the questions. Dawkins objected to the questions and
stopped the recording. He claimed that questions on the origin of new
information were invalid, and that nobody ever asked him such
questions. I responded that the question of information was perfectly
valid, and very important to the evolution-creation debate.

3. "The tape having stopped, I explained to them my
suspicions, and asked them to leave my house."

GB >> This is untrue. At no time did Dr. Dawkins ask us to leave his
house. A second camera, (newly purchased, which we were testing), was
inadvertently not switched off until later, so it recorded most of the
ensuing conversation. This remains on record to expose such false
statements and clarify supposed "lapses of memory".

4. "Gillian Brown pleaded with me, saying that she had flown
all the way from Australia especially to interview me."

GB >> Actually that was a comment made by Philip.

5. "She assured me that they were not creationists..."

GB >> We were not asked if we were creationists. I made no assertion
or denial regarding our personal views.

6...."but were taking a balanced view of all sides in the
debate. Like a fool, I took pity on her, and agreed to continue."

GB >> I stated that our production was looking at both sides of the
debate, and named the other people who were being interviewed. Dr.
Dawkins objected that he was the only anti-theistic evolutionist in the
production, but agreed to participate.

7. "I remember that, having had quite an acrimonious argument
with her, when I finally agreed to resume the interview I made a
conscious effort to be extra polite and friendly."

GB >> This is untrue. There was certainly no "acrimonious argument",
the conversation was at all times courteous.

8. "As it happens, my forthcoming book, Unweaving the Rainbow,
has an entire chapter (`The Genetic Book of the Dead') devoted to a
much more interesting version of the idea that natural selection
gathers up information from the environment, and builds it into the
genome. At the time of the interview, the book was almost finished (it is
to be published in November, 1998). That chapter would have been in the
forefront of my mind, and it is therefore especially ludicrous to
suggest that I would have evaded the question by talking about fish and

GB >> After he asked for the camera to be switched off, Dawkins asked
that his answers to the first few questions would not be used (and they
have not been used). He then agreed to make a statement, but refused
to take more questions from Philip. We resumed recording, then after
he finished his statement I asked for a concrete example in which an
evolutionary process can be seen to have increased information on the
genome. The long pause seen on the video immediately followed my
question, he then asked me to switch off the camera so he could think,
which I did. After some thought he permitted the camera to be switched
on again and his final answer was recorded, the answer which appears in
the video, which, as can be seen, does not answer the question.
Because my question was off-camera and off-mike (though clearly audible
on the tape), it could not be used in the finished production, that is
why the presenter was recorded later, repeating my question as I had
asked it. Your concern is that the pause was fabricated. No, the
pause followed by an irrelevant answer was in response to that exact
question, a question which Dr. Dawkins could not answer and would have
preferred not to even discuss. "Ludicrous" perhaps, but the question
was indeed evaded. If you would care to view the unedited tape you
will be able to confirm my account.

9. "If I'd wanted to turn the question into more congenial
channels, all I had to do was talk about `The Genetic Book of the
Dead'. It is a chapter I am particularly pleased with. I'd have
welcomed the opportunity to expound it. Why on earth, when faced with
such an opportunity, would I have kept totally silent? Unless, once
again, I was actually thinking about something quite different while
struggling to keep my temper?"

GB >> Whatever he may have been thinking about I don't know, but it is
clear that he did not answer the question.

10. "If it had been left at that, it might merely have been
evidence of professional incompetence on the part of the producer and
editor of the tape...."

GB >> Barry Williams, before making charges of "incompetence" the
original tape should be viewed.

11. "Further evidence of incompetence includes the tape
showing the male "interviewer" in a completely different room from the
Dawkins' drawing room where the interview took place, and with entirely
different lighting. Moreover, the person who interviewed Prof. Dawkins
was named as Geoffrey Smith, while the "interviewer" shown in this clip
is identified as Chris Nicholls, the narrator of the entire tape.
However this, of itself, is not evidence of malice. While it is
doubtful if any professional video producer would inadvertently leave a
silence of that length in a tape, the fact that the long silence ends
with an answer to an entirely different question, one about fishes,
amphibians, and common ancestry, speaks strongly of malicious

GB >> The question, asked by myself, (not Geoffrey Smith) was off
camera, and that's why the question was rerecorded by the narrator, the
pause and the answer which follows is exactly the response from Prof.
Dawkins. The actual pause was in fact shortened from 19 seconds to 11
seconds, and Dawkin's request to switch off the camera so that he could
think was also cut out. So, there was no malicious intent whatsoever,
what is seen is Dawkin's exact response, with a shortened pause, and
the (merciful not malicious) removal of his request for time to think.

11. "Richard does not react as one would expect him to, had he
merely been asked a difficult question; his reaction is much more
believably one of someone who has just realised he has been conned into
giving an interview he would not normally have given, ie he doesn't
look nonplussed, he looks angry....Such is the dramatic change in
Richard's demeanour between the two segments, that it is utterly
inconceivable that the second piece of tape followed immediately after
the first."

GB >> You'd better believe it... angry silence and an inappropriate
response was Prof. Dawkins' answer. I suggest you view the original

13. Your article continues:
"...the Keziah tape...purports to show that there is no biological
evidence for evolution."

GB >> Have you even watched the tape? It purports to show no such
thing. The video presents two opinions on the question of the origin
of biological information, the evolutionist perspective and the
creationist perspective, the viewer can weigh all the evidence and
decide which opinion appears more credible.

14. "By selectively editing this tape, the producer clearly
seeks to show:

a) that Richard Dawkins, an eminent biologist, was unable to answer a
question he was asked about biology; and

b) that he then evaded the question by answering a completely different

This tape seeks to denigrate Professor Dawkins' professional

and it is difficult to believe that it was not deliberately

GB >> Perhaps if you had taken the trouble to view the unedited tape
you would see that, eminent as he is, Richard Dawkins was, on that day,
entirely unable to answer the question.

15. In recent times, both the Australian Skeptics web site and
at the Skeptic office, we have fielded questions from a number of
individuals who have posed questions couched in the terms, "Can you
give one example of new information being added to the genome by
mutation today?"

GB>> Doesn't this suggest to you that this is a valid question worthy
of serious consideration?

16.. " Certainly this is by no means the first occasion on
which the creation `science' movement has sought to misrepresent the
words of eminent scientists to bolster their own inept grasp of
scientific matters, and to mislead their own unfortunate followers."

GB >> This accusation is beneath contempt now that the your
willingness to make accusations without doing your homework has
surfaced. Another skeptic, Glen Morton, made similar charges on the
internet, he asked Richard Dawkins about it and Dawkins denied
recollection of the interview. Finally, after listening to an audio
tape of the interview, Dr Morton posted this apology:

>>Glen Morton: "Last month (June 1998) on the evolution reflector,
there was a bit of a discussion concerning the Video From a Frog to a
Prince which is put out by Keziah Production which is headed by Gillian
Brown. The tape showed a narrator asking Dawkings the question:
"Professor Dawkins, can you give an example of a genetic mutation or
an evolutionary process which can be seen to increase the information in
the genome?" Dawkins is shown staring at the ceiling for 11 seconds which
includes a sharp in take of air. and then he resumes with the unresponsive :

"There is a popular misunderstanding of evolution that says that fish
turned into reptiles and reptiles turned into mammals and and so
somehow we ought to be able to look around the world today and look at our

I had originally questioned whether there was some doctoring going on
in the tape because of certain technical details that were amiss. The
shadows on the narrator were not the shadows from the room in which Dawkins
sat. And the room appeared to be different. I wrote Dawkings and asked him
about this. He denied having any recollection of this event. I suspected a
video hatchet job. After Gillian established contact with me in June,
I found that my suspicions were correct that the narrator was not in the
same room as Dawkings. Gillian admitted that she had the narrator re-dub
the question but contended that she had asked exactly that question and
that Dawkins was shown exactly has he performed at the filming. Gillian
sent a copy the original audio tape of the interview with Dawkins to a freind
of mine. He sent the tape to me. I have just heard it tonight.

I will state categorically that the audio tape of the interview 100%
supports Gillian Brown's contention that Dawkins couldn't answer the
question. Here is the relevant transcript:

**begin ***

Gillian Brown: Can you give an example of a genetic mutation or an
evolutionary process which can be seen to increase the information in
the genome?

[19 seconds of silence which includes a sharp intake of air which is
seen on the video and heard on the audio tape-grm]

Dawkins: "Can you just stop there I think ...[tape then has a second
or two of silence-grm]"

{When the taping starts again the audio tape demonstrates that the
unresponive response was what was there==grm]

Gillian: "I'm recording."

Dawkins: "OK"

"There is a popular misunderstanding of evolution that says that fish
turned into reptiles and reptiles turned into mammals and and so
somehow we ought to be able to look around the world today and look at our
ancestors. We ought to be able to see the intermediates between fish and
reptiles and..."


17. "So much for the supposed impartiality of Gillian Brown,
the producer of the tape, or for her protestations of "balanced view",
of which she assured Professor Dawkins when seeking to continue taping
in his home."

GB >> Please take the trouble to view the video and notice that there
are two sides presented, both represented fairly and with impartiality.
How impartial are <underline>you</underline> being in your
consideration of this issue, Barry Williams?

18. "This is, sadly, typical of the less-than-honest political
propagandist approach creationists use in their "mission"....they
resort to ad hominem attacks on the genuine scientists who have exposed
their myths."

GB >> These are the biased accusations of an uninformed Skeptic who
falsely charges others with misrepresenting facts, while blindly
refusing to consider the evidence on both sides of the question with
appropriate partiality.

19. "This is not the way of science - it is the way of
political propaganda -yet another blatant example of "telling lies for

GB >> "Who's telling lies?" You may view the unedited, original
video tape of our interview with Richard Dawkins in order to establish
the truth in this matter.

Barry Williams, in your article you accuse me of a "resort to trickery
in order to denigrate critics, and to mislead unsophisticated minds."
May I suggest that you check your "facts" more carefully and draw your
conclusions on a less biased view of a one-sided and distorted account
of events.

Behind the smokscreen thrown up by your cry of "lies, lies" is a very
important question: What is the origin of new information? We do
know that great variation within species results from rearrangement or
loss of genetic information, but this does not explain
macroevolutionary transition from simple life forms to complex ones
with far greater genetic information. Clearly, if new functional
information cannot be shown to come through evolutionary mechanisms,
then the only alternative is intelligent design.

I just have one final question: Could you give any example of an
evolutionary process or mechanism which can be seen to create new
functional information at the genetic level?

Gillian Brown