Re: Dawkins' video

Stephen Jones (
Mon, 15 Jun 1998 15:07:53 +0800


On Tue, 09 Jun 1998 19:27:58 -0500, Glenn R. Morton wrote:

GM>I have received a reply to my criticisms of the Video From a Frog to a
>Prince. The reply is from the producer Ms. Gillian Brown. I have received
>permission from her to repost her reply to this group. Fairness and
>honesty requires that I do that. She has also requested that I add
>another paragraph to the bottom of the reply. I will distinguish the two
>replies and not comment further in this post. I will comment on her
>explanation in a subsequent post.

I had not been following this thread very closely but it now looks *very*
interesting! For clarity I will preface Ms Brown's words with her initials.

GB>****Begin First reply.*******
>From: Gillian Brown <xxxxI erased her email address -grmxxxxx>

Could I have Ms Brown's email adress please? Or at least could
you send her this request as an extract so that she can contact
me if she wishes? In fact I don't mind if you send her my whole
post. Thanks.

GB>Subject: From a Frog to a Prince
>Date: Tue, 09 Jun 1998 18:52:00 +1000
>Dear Glen Morton,
>I am the producer of the video "From A Frog to a Prince", which you
>have reviewed for the ASA journal. I conducted the interview with
>Professor Richard Dawkins, and I should like to respond to your comments which
>appeared recently on the internet.

I presume these are the comments:

On Fri, 05 Jun 1998 21:20:08 -0500, Glenn R. Morton wrote (to Ron Chitwood):


>RC>2) Can the DNA be tested on this to prove anything other than
>>microevolution occurred. If it can, Richard Dawkins needs to be informed.
>>He was totally ignorant of any finding that showed an increase in
>>information at the DNA level has ever occurred Videotape FROM A FROG TO A

GM>I viewed this video and wrote a review for Perspectives in Science and
>Christian faith. I saw that portion of the video and was very suspicious.
>The interviewer and Dawkins were never shown in the same frame, the
>lighting was different and the white wall behind the 'interviewer' was very
>different from the bookshelves that the interviewer was normally standing
>in front of. The lighting in the interviewer's room with bookshelves is
>definitely indoors without a window because you can see TWO shadows from
>the artificial lights (the angle of the shadow moves as the guy walks.This
>is where the 'interviewer' talks about how many pages of information a
>microbe and a man have) With the sun the angle would remain the same and
>their wouldn't be TWO shadows. Thus the shadow is not due to sunlight).
>This occurs about halfway through the tape. Dawkins is sitting in front of
>a window. The bookshelves behind Dawkins contained knick knacs and some
>books.The room Dawkins is in has lots of color blue cushions in the window
>seat red curtains, white curtains, and a blue chair he is sitting in. But
>the interviewer is never shown in front of the same knickknacs such as a
>stereo and a weird statue with a smile just above Dawkins' head. (I
>searched the whole tape looking for the interviewer to be with the red
>curtains or with a book shelf that was the same as the one with Dawkins. I
>couldn't find it.) When the interviewer asked Dawkins 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." and they cut to Dawkins, he was not even looking at where the
>interviewer was as he had been in other clips.He was merely staring at
>something above him as if he was waiting for some technician to fix
>something. When he spoke, it was not even addressing the topic that was
>asked. He spoke about the fish/amphibian transition. I became very
>suspicious so I contacted Dawkins, described the scene. He said he didn't
>ever remember being with the interviewer I described and never was asked in
>an interview, the above question. A friend, believes that the video of
>Dawkins came from a CBC broadcast.
>Because of the lighting differences, the white wall (not book cases) behind
>the interviewer and the red curtains behind Dawkins, I don't think Dawkins
>and the man in the purple shirt were in the same room. I don't recall the
>'interviewer' being shown with any of the scientists who were interviewed.
>Now, I am not saying that they did a hatchet job on Dawkins. But until I
>hear a very good explanation, I wouldn't beleive anything on this tape.
>Take what I say and look at the tape again and see if I am not correct.

GB>Firstly, your observation is correct that the presenter is recorded in
>a different location, and not at the location of the interview. The
>presenter was not present at the interview and all his back-cut
>questions were recorded later. However, it is not true, as Richard Dawkins
>claimed to you, that he was never asked the question. Nor is it correct
>that the interview originated from a CBC broadcast.

If your report of what Dawkins said to you was accurate, and Ms Brown is
telling the truth, then it is difficult not to conclude that Dawkins is
not telling the truth. How could he forget that he was interviewed and asked
such a question?

It seems you owe Ms Brown an apology for your "hatchet job"

GB>I asked him the question as it appears repeated by the presenter in
>the video. The question is word-for-word verbatim as it was asked him. His
>response to the question was the long pause, as seen on the video. He then
>asked me to switch off the camera. (That request is edited out of the
>video.) Then he gave the unedited response which follows in the video,
>that evolution happened a long time ago and we would not expect to see such
>changes today. A response which clearly does not answer the question.

This is just an evasion! Why should the fact that something happened
"a long time ago" necessarily mean that "we would not expect to see" it
happening today"? The whole point of Darwinian evolution is that it *is*
supposed tobe happening today. Otherwise, why do they point to peppered
moths coulour changes and finch-beak variations on the Galapagos as evidence
of evolution in action?

If "evolution" is something mysterious that "happened a long time ago" and is
not happening now, thenpresent processes like random mutation and natural
selection cannot be the. true causes of evolution. That opens up the real possibility
that the real true was the direct work of an Intelligent Designer.

GB>Since the question is in fact the same question, and the response is portrayed
>faithfully it would be a severe distortion of the truth to suggest that
>this common documentary practice has been in any way used to mislead the
>viewer. It is our policy to represent the views of those on both sides of
>the debate fairly and without manipulation.

I agree with Ms Brown. I have been interviewed by TV reporters several times in
my former job as a hospital manager, and I have also attended a TV interview training
course run by a proiminent TV journalist as part of my job. In my experience it is normal
for interviews to be edited and pieces spliced in (eg. to show the TV interviewer
asking the question, which obviously can't be done with only one camera, if you
think about it).

While a person not familiar with TV interviewing might think it strange that a
different interviewer is shown that the one who actually did the interview, as Ms
Brown says this is "common documentary practice" and providing
the exact same words are asked, I can't see that it makes any material
difference who actually asked the the questions.

On Thu, 11 Jun 1998 15:48:13 -0400, Brian D Harper wrote:

BH>What I would like to know is what else Dawkins said after asked that
>the cameras be switched off, i.e. did he say that his answer (the
>one given on the tape) was off the record? If not why did he ask
>the cameras to be turned off? Also, why is this request not shown?
>In my experience, a request by an interviewee to turn off the
>cameras indicates something is going on.

In *my* "experience" it is perfectly normal for a person being interviewed
on TV to ask the recording to be stopped to collect his/her thoughts. I
did it myself on every occasion I was interviewed. In my experience it is
routine for the TV interviewer to tell the interviewee they can stop the
interview anytime. Indeed, I would have thought it unusual for a TV
interview to proceed from start to finish without such interruptions.

GB>The original, unedited, recording of the interview is available for
>viewing by anyone who may doubt the integrity of this production.
>The release form signed by Dr. Dawkins granting his permission to use
>the interview is in my possession.

This would settle any such questions if you have any doubts. Personally
I am impressed by Ms Brown's openness in mentioning that the unedited
tape of the interview is available.

>Gillian Brown,
> Director, Keziah Productions

GB>*****BEGIN ADDITION****************
>From: Gillian Brown <xxxxxxx>
>Subject: From a Frog...
>Date: Wed, 10 Jun 1998 04:46:35 +1000

GM>[part snipped at Ms Brown's request]

GB>When you repost my reply I would like to add the following comment:
>The question of whether evolutionary processes can increase genetic
>information, as discussed in the video "From a Frog to a Prince", is one
>which is often swept under the carpet. We know that great variation
>within species does result from rearrangement or loss of genetic
>information, but this does not explain the supposed macroevolutionary
>transition from simple life forms to complex ones with far greater genetic
>information. Where does the new information come from? As far as I know,
>not even one single example of new information resulting from random
>mutations and natural selection has ever been presented. This is an
>important question which should be openly debated. If new information
>cannot be shown to come through evolutionary mechanisms then the only
>alternative is intelligent design, an option which may be repugnant to
>some, but which should surely be considered as a possible explanation.

Agreed. Indeed, since (as even Theistic Evolutionists admit) there actually *is*
an Intelligent Designer, who came to Earth from 4BC - 27AD, in the Person of
the Lord, Jesus Christ, this seeming lack of naturalistic mechanisms for building
new information (evidenced by the fact that the world's greatest Neo-Darwinist
apologist, and Oxford Professor for thePublic Understanding of Science, does
not seem to know of any), makes it likely that the information-building was the
supernatural work of that Intelligent Designer.

BC>I would be grateful if you would keep me informed of the development of
>this discussion.
>Kind regards,
>******END LAST PARAGRAPH********

I trust that in the interest of truth you would indeed keep us *all*
informed of the "development of this discussion."

On Tue, 09 Jun 1998 19:56:04 -0500, Glenn R. Morton wrote:


GM>First some housekeeping. I would like to thank Ms Brown for the honesty in
>admitting the correctness of my observations that the 'interviewer" and
>Dawkins were not in the same room. I will stand corrected and correct my
>friend who believed that the video came from a CBC broadcast.


GM>Now, I will point out two things. First, the restaging of the question,
>which was supposedly audible on the original tape, creates a muddied
>situation in which the original record has been altered. And given Dawkins
>denial of the event, we now have a 'he-says; she says' situation in which
>it is impossible for an outsider now to ever tell the real facts. Hard-core
>atheists and evolutionists will believe Dawkins. Hard-core young-earthers
>will believe Brown. Who is correct? I don't know. But now there is no

Ms Brown specifical says that there is an unedited version of the tape.
Why don't you order it, if you have any doubts.

GM>I have re-emailed Dawkins, last Sunday prior to getting the e-mail
>from Brown asking him about the tape again but have not heard from him, yet.

Indeed, why don't you ask him the same question as on the tape and
share his answer with us all?

GM>There are some things said in the snipped portion that relay information
>to me about what happened that does concern me, but I will honor Brown's
>request to keep them to my self as that was her instructions. The question
>asked by the 'interviewer' was the only time that he asked any of the
>scientists on the video any questions. All the other statements by
>scientists are simply that statements with no questions having been asked
>to them. Dawkins is the only one in who has a question "thrown" to him by
>the 'interviewer'. But of course that man never actually asked Dawkins

No. But Ms Brown asked him the same question. So what difference does
it make who asks the question?

I haven't seen the video, so I am curious why you say the question was
"thrown" to Dawkins? I presume it was a normal interview in a studio or
Dawkins' rooms at Oxford, etc? In such cases, Dawkins would have
plenty of time to answer, and in fact he stopped the interview to give
him time to think of an answer.

GM>I would suggest that this 'restaging' of the question, even if it was a
>direct restatement of the original question is not an accurate
>representation of history and what happened. The viewer is clearly given
>the impression that the unidentified 'interviewer' was sitting in the same
>room with Dawkins when in fact he wasn't. While many Christians may not
>find this wrong, I find it to be very disappointing that Christians would
>do what the secular press does and restage events.

Here you go with your usual "Christians should be better" routine! In this case
if it is "common documentary practice", as Ms Brown says, then who are
you, a geophysicist, to judge that it is wrong?

There is nothing wrong with staging events to make a TV interview flow better.
While a naive viewer might think that things happen on TV just as we
see them, with no editing and interruptions, this is simply impractical.

GM>I am reminded of the staging of things in the Food Lion Meat shop by one of
>the networks. Food Lion nearly went out of business because a producer decided
>to engage in staging of events. My recollection was that Food Lion was granted a
>considerable amount of money in the subsequent lawsuit.
>There is a book entitled 'My Utmost for His Highest'. I do not find
>restaging of events to be the utmost we can do for his glory. They would
>have been far better off if they had simply left the totally unaltered tape
>in tact. It would have made their case more believable. To me the
>adulteration of any event or fact is very distasteful.

See above. There *is* a "totally unaltered tape"!

Implying that Ms Brown has done something wrong that would warrant
a "lawsuit" , and that she has somehow "adulterated" an interview, when she
has pointed out that it is "common documentary practice", is hardly 'My
Utmost for His Highest'!

GM>Concerning the last paragraph which Ms. Brown added. I replied to her.
>>>Thank you. I will honor your requests.

I hope you will indeed "honor" Ms Brown's "requests" by sending her this

[continued on thread: "Information: a very technical definition".


"Evolution is the greatest engine of atheism ever invented."
--- Dr. William Provine, Professor of History and Biology, Cornell University.

Stephen E (Steve) Jones ,--_|\
3 Hawker Avenue / Oz \
Warwick 6024 ->*_,--\_/ Phone +61 8 9448 7439
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