8th December 1998
DISTURBING news reaches us of Richard Dawkins, the bashful Oxford Professor for the Public Understanding of Science famed for insisting that cold science leaves no room in the rational mind for religious or other paranormal beliefs. So I am intrigued to learn of a poster in Blackwell’s bookshop in Bristol featuring the names of 15 authors who took part in its literary festival. Of these, 14 (Sebastian Faulks and David Attenborough among them) have signed next to their names, but one has not. A visitor who asked after this absence was told the Professor refused to sign because the name of Uri Geller – who went to Blackwell’s to plug Jonathan Margolis’s fascinating biography Magician Or Mystic? (Orion, £18.99) – was on the poster. The manager laughed appreciatively. “I’m not joking,” said Dawkins sharply. “I will not sign on the same piece of paper.” Such superstitiousness is endearing, but it must be a grievous burden for a scientist to carry. If he cares to write in (using his lucky rabbit foot’s pen, of course), we will supply Professor Dawkins with the names of hypnotherapists who may be able to help.
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