Never let questions get in the way of a good story. Especially if you are a scientist who has made a habit of debunking gospels. Ask Richard Dawkins, British evolutionary biologist and the preeminent atheist of his era. His critical mind and probing queries have earned him legions of fans. Last week, they got him brickbats.
Dawkins's crime was that he questioned the motive and ability of Ahmed Mohamed, the 14-year-old Muslim boy who was arrested in Texas, US, for bringing a homemade clock to school, which his teachers took for a bomb. The arrest, which was widely reported as a case of Islamophobia, got him a call from a Saudi prince, a tweet from US President Barack Obama and invitations to Silicon Valley.
Dawkins, obviously, did not like it. In Twitter, he questioned whether Ahmed had truly “invented” the clock. “If this is true, what was his motive?” he asked. When asked why he was annoyed with Ahmed, Dawkins said: “Because he disassembled and reassembled a clock (which is fine) and then claimed it was his ‘invention’ (which is fraud).”
Dawkins got so pummelled in Twitter that he had to say sorry. A Twitter user wrote: “You too frequently confuse ‘truth’ with ‘obsessive and unnecessary dedication to accuracy’.” Dawkins answered: “That could well be true, in which case I apologise.”