The Richard Dawkins Facepalm Watch, Vol. III

I used to admire and look up to Richard Dawkins; I really did. But it’s becoming harder for me to remember why. Over the last few years, my esteem for him has sunk lower and lower in response to a steady stream of callous, ill-thought-out or just plain ignorant remarks he’s made. And last week, he hit a new low:

This was in response to criticism he received for an earlier tweet, in which he proposed a list of names to go on a hypothetical memorial to humanity, and (surprise, surprise) they were all dead white men:

In response to this, numerous people suggested that there might be some women and non-Westerners whose names would also be worth including. On the advice of some sexist harassers from the slimepit, whom he was only too happy to engage with, Dawkins decided that we “social justice warriors” must have meant that we blame Shakespeare for being white and male. This is as lazily ignorant a misconception as saying that atheists are just troublemakers who are angry at God.

If you were trying to assemble a lineup of the greatest figures in human history, and the result was exclusively composed of white men of European descent, that ought to be a sign that your selection process went badly astray somewhere. How can a group intended to represent all of humanity be limited to such a small and unrepresentative subset? If someone else proposed a list of the most influential humans who’ve ever lived, and all its members were, say, Chinese, I have no doubt that Dawkins or any other Westerner would recognize the incongruity. Why should this kind of provincialism be any more acceptable just because it’s one’s own ethnic group?

Of course, this isn’t just a thought experiment. We have sent something of ourselves to the stars: the golden record carried by both Voyager spacecraft. And I’m happy to say that Carl Sagan, the record’s creator, appreciated the importance of diversity in a way that Richard Dawkins clearly doesn’t. The record has greetings in many languages, music and images from many cultures: not just Bach, Mozart and Beethoven, but Indonesian gamelan music, Australian Aboriginal folk songs, Japanese shakuhachi flute melodies, Peruvian panpipes, Indian and Chinese songs, Navajo night chant, black American jazz, and many more. That’s the kind of message you should send if you wanted to tell other worlds who we were as a species.

Obviously, Shakespeare’s place in the canon of English literature isn’t in question. Nor do we blame him for the content of his chromosomes. The point is that racist and sexist bias has often operated to ensure that only the cultural contributions of white men get noticed and appreciated. Whether Dawkins realized it or not, he was perpetuating that well-established pattern. He asserted that he’d still admire Shakespeare even if he had been a black woman – but of course, if Shakespeare had been a black woman, it’s all but certain we’d never have heard of her. That was the point that so many people were making and that he chose not to see.

Too often, a group consisting solely of white men is treated as the unremarkable norm, rather than being seen for what it is: a strange phenomenon which cries out for an explanation. As someone who’s spoken about the importance of consciousness-raising, Richard Dawkins ought to understand this. Instead, in his vitriolic rejection of the importance of equality and fair representation, he’s turned his back on the principles that led so many of us to admire him in the first place.

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • L.Long

    If you are a white male european and where asked to make a list of important people and you did so and they were only dead (would not be unusual as most people important to you are most likely dead) male & european would mean that you are opinionated to you group. The way all religions work demonstrates that most are tribal in some degree. Last I looked he never said he was all wise in all ways. Remember you are want you were when…… He is a white male european and OLD!!!! His formulation is many many years ago, so his list is no surprise. Has he ever said he was a feminist??? So his list is male heavy, was it wrong?? Was in incomplete or biased?? Yes? OK make another as the one he made is his. Also how was the question asked? Open ended and most people would have jesus & mohammad on the list where I would look at the question as a POSITIVE influence and would not even consider both. And right off the top of my head if asked I could not name any women because all my early schooling only shows white male dead europeans. So some think Dawkins is being an ass, OK So? There is some rule that anti-religion atheist can’t be an ass??

  • BeaverTales

    Yes, it’s ignorant to only include white males on a monument to ALL humanity, but he’s just making suggestions…and from his personal perspective white males have been more influential. That’s forgivable, even if ill-informed and solipsistic. However, for him to double down on his stupid when his opinion is challenged is a trend I’ve noticed in recent years, particularly showing a blind spot and thin skin on feminist issues. It belies an ego and a closed mindedness that a self-aware humanist would normally try harder to eschew.

    However, I don’t like that we elevate our most prominent atheists to a level where they have to please all atheists/humanists with every utterance. Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and even Carl Sagan have said and written things that aren’t always particularly helpful to their individual causes and reputations. Do we have to pay attention to every quote and utterance on every topic? Do we really care what an astronomer thinks about politics? Or what an evolutionary biologist thinks about English literature? Can’t we allow people their blind spots and also the chance to be stupid or less than articulate on their own time?

    Aren’t we all guilty of saying things we aren’t proud of or holding unpopular opinions? No one needs or deserves a spotlight shining on us every moment for an opinion on every topic.

  • GCT

    And right off the top of my head if asked I could not name any women because all my early schooling only shows white male dead europeans.

    And, that’s part of the problem, isn’t it?

    So some think Dawkins is being an ass, OK So? There is some rule that anti-religion atheist can’t be an ass??

    No, there’s no rule. There’s similarly no rule that atheists who are asses can’t be called out on it.

  • GCT

    What people react to is the fact that Dawkins routinely doubles down and goes out of his way to attack/mock/whatever feminist and minority viewpoints in the process. If Dawkins put his foot in and then listened to others when they pointed it out instead of lashing out, we’d all be much more willing to let it go. So, yeah, we all say stupid things from time to time. The difference is that some of us are willing to admit when we’ve said something stupid, try to learn from it, and try not to do it again. Dawkins gets belligerent and doesn’t learn a damned thing. That’s why he gets criticized, and rightly so.

  • BeaverTales

    I agree, and said as much in my original post…but I also think we don’t need to ask his opinions on every topic. I personally don’t care what he thinks about a hypothetical monument to humanity, and I’m willing to allow him his own personal heroes, even if all are exclusively white and male.

    I don’t agree with him and clearly few of us do, but there are already too many things for me to be outraged about that matter in this world…more outrageous things than his ignorance in areas that have nothing to do with his generally acknowledged expertise. I just want the microphone he has turned off sometimes. He’s not someone I respect or want to hear from on humanist issues.

  • GCT

    We didn’t ask his opinion. He volunteered it.

    I don’t agree with him and clearly few of us do, but there are already too many things for me to be outraged about that matter in this world…more outrageous things than his ignorance in areas that have nothing to do with his generally acknowledged expertise.

    This veers dangerously close to the fallacious argument that we should ignore all injustice in the world until we are able to solve the most egregious.

    I just want the microphone he has turned off sometimes. He’s not someone I respect or want to hear from on humanist issues.

    Agreed. And, it’s important to speak up and say so, as people have done.

  • BeaverTales

    It would be like repeatedly asking Mel Gibson his opinion on religious minorities and women. What is to be gained by focusing on his opinion over and over again, just because it isn’t what we want to hear? He is an actor, not a spiritual guru.

    Dawkins is a biologist and a prominent atheist, but not well regarded as a humanist. What is to be gained by constantly dissecting his well known opinions? I remain unconvinced that we need to do anything more than disagree with him and move on, rather than entering into a war of words over petty issues with a petty mind (with respect to humanism).

  • Doomedd

    Dawkings isn’t just a biologist, he is a very public face of atheism, a role that he fully accept. While he is not a real authority like the pope to Catholics, RD opinions can be interpreted as representative of atheists in general. That why disagreements must be expressed when RD say something stupid.

    Beside, we often ask Catholics to clearly state when they disagree with the pope, someone with real authority.

  • GCT

    No one asked Dawkins for his opinion. He volunteered it…in public. When he received any pushback, he doubled down as he always does. He says stupid shit. People speak up. I’m failing to see what your problem with it is.

    Is your problem one that people will inevitably show up to defend Dawkins no matter what he says, which will touch off a new row over feminism in atheist circles? I’d rather we not have those arguments either, but perhaps not for the same reason. I’m more than willing to have those arguments as long as asshat atheists stand up and loudly proclaim their misogynistic natures. I’d love it if we could just tell Dawkins that he’s wrong and we’d all move along (including Dawkins). But, like it or not, he is a public face of atheism, and it’s important to speak up when he says stupid shit and when he legion of fanboys come along to repeat the stupid shit.

  • eyelessgame

    Facepalm. The guy’s a dick.

    The thing I wrestle with, though, is this.

    While the doubling-down really does call into question some of Dawkins’ judgment and social understanding in general, I wonder if it treads close to ad hominem, if used as a reason to stop using his quotes or arguments when discussing religion.

    I don’t like ad hominem attacks. There are immense numbers of valid attacks on Ayn Rand – we do them here all the time – but one of the least convincing, for me anyway, is “she collected Social Security”. I think ideas stand or fall on their own – ideas are not responsible for the people holding them. (Yes, in the case of cults of personality, it’s appropriate to shoot at the person being worshipped, and to an extent that’s certainly true for Objectivism. But for people who find the arguments themselves compelling, attacking the person who made the arguments is fallacious, and makes the attacker sound like they can’t refute the ideas.)

    So to turn that to Dawkins, here’s the thing. Yes, he’s ignorant about race and gender issues, and he’s a cultural chauvinist. Should that matter when discussing his (often well-made) arguments against religion? Should it be valid to dismiss a particular pithy quote or reasoned argument Dawkins makes about religion on the grounds that he doesn’t know enough black people? (I phrase it the way I do not to ridicule the argument against him but to ask honestly and openly how much it really ought to matter, because I do not know the answer today.)

    As we discover more and more about one another today (and about historical figures) it becomes easier and easier to find some unconventional or uncomfortable fact about them. Thomas Jefferson raped his slaves. Mother Teresa thought suffering was a good thing. Carl Sagan smoked pot. Ayn Rand collected Social Security. Richard Dawkins is sexist. David Brin harasses women. John Edwards had an illegitimate son. George W Bush didn’t show up for Air National Guard duties. Barack Obama did cocaine. Keep going – who don’t we know something like this about, today?

    The question isn’t whether you like these people or not – some of them I do, some I don’t. The thing is – to some extent, I think, maybe all of us live in glass houses. Each of these things gives a reason to respond to any given thing any given person says or does with “yes, but here’s an ad hominem attack that keeps me from thinking about whether what they say/do is interesting.”

  • Richard Hollis

    I don’t blame him for suggesting only white males, exactly – that’s just a group he probably has considerably more experience with. If someone asked me to name the greatest figures in Chinese or Indian history, I would feel out of my depth making a judgement call simply because of my distance from those cultures (as well as my ignorance of Chinese and Indian history).

    What does disappoint is the reaction to being called out on his bias. Surely the more open-minded response would have been to ask for suggestions for people who did not fit the social group, and possibly thus learn a few things along the way.

  • katiehippie

    He just needs to stay away from twitter. Seems he hasn’t bothered to really understand any other viewpoint than his own. He doesn’t quite see his own privilege yet.

  • Azkyroth

    “Yet?” He’s getting neither better nor younger.

  • Tommykey69

    In fairness to Dawkins, he listed the names of 4 people on a Twitter tweet and then asked others who they thought should be recognized. It’s not like he proposed a definitive list of a hundred names and all were dead White males. If it were that, I could see calling him out on it.

  • GCT

    Perhaps you should read the links. You should also note that he’s being called out now for being disdainful of people who seek social justice.

  • Science Avenger

    That this is a culturally-biased off-the-top-of-his-head list is more apparent when you look at other groups that are highly overrepresented here: 50% British, 50% German, and 50% scientisrts. Even if it was well-thought-out, it’s a rerun: Dawkins is a dated chauvinist, and rigidly so, and we all knew this already. Now if he says something stupid on some other issue, maybe that’s worthy of note, but the next sexist thing he says isn’t.

  • Science Avenger

    “And, that’s part of the problem, isn’t it?”
    With the education system, not with Dawkins.

  • L.Long

    After reading the comments there are a few points.
    1-Yes we all need to be more aware of the female contributions, which can be difficult as the publishing male scientists get the credit. Look thru past papers for many examples. But even worse is the religious/cultural media that minimizes women. We have to be shouting louder.
    2-stop paying so much attention to white haired old farts!! We all have ‘olds-timers’. Using myself as the example I know of 15 women who did important work and some foreigners, Like ‘who is the girl with the Babbage computer? I just can’t pull her name out.
    3-you younger guy don’t get so Superior, you’ll soon be grumpy duds with ‘olds-timers’ soon enough.

  • Pito Rosario

    Almost exactly what I was thinking. At least this time, it does seem to be more of a spur-of-the-moment listing of some of history’s great men and the reaction seems clearly overblown to me. I do want to point out that it wouldn’t necessarily occur to anyone/everyone to ask which group’s contributions aren’t being considered, though.

  • GCT

    Yes, with the education system. That’s not Dawkins’ fault, nor is it L.Long’s fault. It’s what we choose to do to address this inequity that matters.

  • GCT

    It’s the reaction to Dawkins clearly siding with the MRA crowd and responding with insult and mockery that is garnering reaction, and it’s not overblown at all.

  • swbarnes2

    Well, the all-male, all Western European list suggests that one’s thinking is mighty narrow. In the 21st century, it’s not like a guy like him hasn’t had the opportunity to learn a little, and that’s the real criticism here.

    One of the hallmarks of atheism/rationalism/ humanism ought to
    be the constant awareness that we as people are biased towards what we know, so we need to be open to being nudged about it, so we can correct the mistakes in our thinking. Dawkins is failing badly at that.

    Dawkins could have said “Yeah, you are right…let me think about it a little more” instead of “You all hate me and Shakespeare because we are white!”

  • AndyT

    While I appreciate Dawkins as a biologist and a writer, but I can’t approve of both his too confrontational anti-theist stance and his (apparent?) slippery slope into a sort of soft cultural, white-centric racism.

  • Pito Rosario

    I know about the other incidents due to Adam’s previous posts, hence the phrase ”at least this time” in my comment. He’s no doubt a sexist asshole, I agree.

  • GCT

    You’re focusing on the list when you should be focusing on the reaction and the embrace of the MRAs. Again, it is not overblown.

  • Anathema

    Remember you are want you were when…… He is a white male european and OLD!!!! His formulation is many many years ago, so his list is no surprise.

    Being old is not an excuse. Old people are still capable of learning. Not every old white European man says the same stupid things that Dawkins does. And not every old white European man lashes out at people who criticize them for failing to take their biases into account the way that Dawkins does.

    Has he ever said he was a feminist???

    I don’t know. If I recall correctly, he at least said positive things about feminism in The God Delusion. That’s part of what makes his backlash against feminists who criticize him so frustrating.

    There are far too many people who say that they are committed to equality, but balk at the suggestion that they change their own actions to help make the world more egalitarian. It appears that Dawkins is one of them.

    . And right off the top of my head if asked I could not name any women because all my early schooling only shows white male dead europeans. So some think Dawkins is being an ass, OK So? There is some rule that anti-religion atheist can’t be an ass??

    You know, if Dawkins had responded to people pointing out how biased his list was by acknowledging that his list was biased in favor of white men and that this bias was largely a product of him living in a culture that values the achievements of white men over the achievements of women and people of color, I don’t think we’d be having this conversation. The problem isn’t so much the list that Dawkins came up with (no one is immune to cultural biases after all) as it is the way that Dawkins reacted to people pointed out the way that cultural biases might have affected his list. Instead of acknowledging that his list might reflect cultural biases, Dawkins lashed out against the people who were pointing this out and strawmanned them. In failing to acknowledge his own biases and misrepresenting the people who have criticized him, Dawkins isn’t just being an ass, he’s being a bad skeptic.

    There’s no rule that says that an anti-religious atheists can’t be ass, but that doesn’t mean that they should be exempt from criticism when they start acting like one. There’s no rule that anti-religious atheists have to be skeptics either, but we have a problem when an atheist who bases their anti-religious stance on skeptical principles fails to consistently apply those principles in other areas.

  • J-D

    My reaction to the whole ‘Cosmic Tombstone’ concept is to wonder what the argument would be in favour of trying to commemorate the greatest _individuals_ of humanity rather than, instead, trying to commemorate the greatest _achievements_ of humanity.

    And maybe there’s a principle underlying that question which also guides my attitude to Richard Dawkins.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Adam Lee

    Yeah, it’s definitely his reaction to being called on this that’s the problem. If he had said something like, “I know there are probably people from other cultures who are just as deserving, but I’m not as familiar with them,” I doubt anyone would have minded. As you said, it would have been an excellent opportunity to learn.

    It’s his arrogant reaction – insisting that the people he named were objectively the best, and that anyone who says differently is just driven by hatred of white men – that really seals the case against him here.

  • GCT

    Yay, our resident racist and sexist chimes in!

    Cite?

    We’re talking about people who have formed a group with the express purpose of harassing others.

    The implication being that not only should Dawkins be familiar with the posting history of everyone on the internet, he should avoid any contact with any that engage in bad behavior.

    He should, at least, be familiar with this particular group given his previous encounters.

    Tiny and unrepresentative? You’re seriously going to pretend that this subset is “tiny”?

    4 people to represent all of humanity culled from a group of only white European men is tiny in comparison.

    I don’t think there’s much denying that the Western world has contributed to science much more than China has.

    Is that even true? China had gunpowder well before Europe, for instance. Secondly, this isn’t solely about science.

    If groups of white men are extremely common, then by definition they are the norm.

    As typical of you, you play dumb in order to avoid the point being made so that you can persist in your racism while JAQing off.

    So, here you are defending the selection of only white men as completely normal, and we are supposed to simply look past all of that and all of your previous history and not call you a sexist and a racist?

    (UWIR whining to commence in 3…2…1…)

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Adam Lee

    Do we have to pay attention to every quote and utterance on every topic? Do we really care what an astronomer thinks about politics? Or what an evolutionary biologist thinks about English literature? Can’t we allow people their blind spots and also the chance to be stupid or less than articulate on their own time?

    Unfortunately, Dawkins isn’t just any evolutionary biologist. Even if he doesn’t have the authority of a religious leader, he’s still treated as the de facto spokesman of the atheist movement, in a way that’s not true of virtually any other person. For better or for worse, his opinions are often assumed to represent all of us, and that’s why it’s important to make clear that that isn’t the case when he screws up.

    His comments were especially unhelpful to an atheist movement that’s still struggling publicly with issues of feminism, diversity and fair representation. Just when we need to broaden our appeal to women and people of color, he’s taking us in the opposite direction with remarks that devalue the contributions of non-white non-men. I think that makes it all the more important to show that he doesn’t speak for all of us.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Adam Lee

    I struggle with that as well. There are atheist and skeptic leaders whom I’ll no longer cite because they’ve behaved in ways I find unacceptable.

    The thing with Dawkins, I think, is that there are areas where he can legitimately claim expertise. I still trust his work on biology, for example. But there are also many areas he knows little or nothing about, and he clearly doesn’t know which is which.

  • GCT

    Perhaps if there is additional information that Adam Lee thought we should consider in evaluating Dawkins’ actions, he should have included it in his article…

    That’s why the links are there, so that he doesn’t have to repeat what others have said. Do your own homework.

    People who allegedly seek social justice.

    LOL, this ought to be good.

    Considering the crap you’ve pulled, you’re hardly a reliable authority regarding seeking social justice.

    Yes, part of seeking social justice is calling out the racists/sexists like you when you show your ugly worldviews in public. Calling out your racism and sexism doesn’t make me dishonest or an asshole. Being the racist/sexist is the asshole part, and you lying and complaining after having your issues laid out for you endlessly (by not just me, but others as well) is rather dishonest. But, this is a great example of what Dawkins engages in. When he’s called out, he doubles down, just like you. He lashes out at those pointing out his bullshit, just like you. Anyone looking to learn how not to act in civilized company can take both you and Dawkins as examples.

  • Science Avenger

    Absolutely. In one sense, Dawkins himself is a victim, having his worldview limited as it is by flaws in the system.

  • Science Avenger

    I agree with the bulk of your post, but want to focus on this:

    “Being old is not an excuse. Old people are still capable of learning. Not every old white European man says the same stupid things that Dawkins does.”

    Oh? How about this:

    “Being poor and black is not an excuse for all the blacks in prison. Poor blacks are still capable of following the law. Not every poor black joins a gang.”

    We are all creatures of our culture and time, and while we can logically overcome these biases to some extent, the notion that anyone can totally step outside that and be 100% objective is ridiculous. Being old IS an excuse. I just had this conversation with a young family member who went to visit her great grandma in the deep south and came back horrified at the racism that is a routine part of life there. I explained to her that great grandma was 30 when the Civil Rights Act was passed, and has lived in a place her whole life where it mostly hasn’t applied. It’s not easy to change deeply held views at an older age, so give great grandma a break.

    We can give Dawkins a break for his initial post. The guy is 73 for Chrissake, the arteries do in fact harden. I agree he should react better to the criticisms, a kind of “wow, I didn’t realize I did that”, but alas, old beliefs die hard, especially the ones we don’t realize we carry.

  • Annerdr

    There’s Al-Razi, Ghandi, Confucious, Sun-zi, Isadora Duncan, Artemisia, Sappho, Sojourner Truth, Marie Curie. That’s off the top of my head. Richard Dawkins is a good biologist and atheist, but not the best historian.

  • XaurreauX Pont DeLac

    And don’t forget, a Chuck Berry song, “Johnny B. Goode,” was also included on both Voyagers.

  • Azkyroth

    Not this shit again…

  • http://oolon.co.uk/ oolon

    I disagree, his low is supporting that racist bacon attack on a mosque. Avicenna tackles JT here, but Dawkins set the tone with the exact same sentiment in tweet form. http://freethoughtblogs.com/amilliongods/2014/06/22/no-jt-its-not-stupid-it-is-hate/
    At least JT has an excuse being an American, he probably doesn’t know the context. Dawkins knows these people are racist asshats and it was designed to intimidate and bully brown muslims for being “foreigners”. But he still stood up for them, a far right, racist, group of thugs. Stunning to me, even after his other facepalm moments.

  • Paul Pickering

    I disagree with you, Mr. Lee. Many of us are most familiar with Western Civilization. As far as changing the world and making it a better place, he chose wonderfully. Granted, he just named a few. I imagine he would mention Rosalind Franklin, Marie Curie, Susan Anthony, and others if given the chance. And if I had to choose between Joan Tower’s music or Ravi Shankar’s music or Schubert’s music–hands down to Schubert. Dawkins is fine here. He boldly states his opinion, and it’s not one about which he needs to be embarrassed.

  • DJMankiwitz

    Agreed, but for one small point.

    That selection of music STILL kinda “biases” the music selection. Whenever someone describes a modern first world country ONLY in terms of their stereotypical culture, well, that’s a problem.

    Japan doesn’t JUST have their ancient flute music, they’ve got pop culture out the kazoo, so a selection of more world-wide “contemporary” music from these places would have also been appreciated. It’s like if, say, England got the full representation of both modern and past culture, but the US only got “folksy banjo music” represented.

    Now, the bigger issue is how to compress all that and also tell aliens how to decode it. A record is an analog non-compressed source of data. Tell them how to built the machine and that’s all you need. A DVD is a compressed fully digital source. Aside from much more complicated machine building instructions, the software package would also need to be described, including encryption and decompression. At that point, for all the size such instructions would be, one might as well just include a fully functional machine that plays the message itself, as well as instructions for nothing more than hitting the “play” button (for ease of use, include standard pause, stop, and so on, for them to figure out on their own).

  • Guest

    Prof. Richard Dawkins is one of my personal heroes.

    Then you’re not really in a position to decide what’s “too minute” to those not afflicted with hero worship.

  • J-D

    If you think there was ‘way, way, way too much’ criticism, then how much criticism do you think would have been the right amount?

  • GCT

    If that’s all he had done, it wouldn’t be such a big deal. You seem to want to ignore all the ugliness of him siding with MRAs and making up strawmen so that he can denigrate those who don’t share his opinion that those white Europeans are objectively the best.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    I don’t quite see the problem. Dawkins limited himself to 4 people. Tell me your top 4 to show me what your concern is.

    I do like your point, which I interpret to be: What if a black woman had written a corpus with Shakespeare’s brilliance back then, instead of a white dude? Yes, I see that we’d likely not know about it. But what do we do with that observation besides conclude that history creates a poor record?

  • GCT

    No, that’s not the point. Can everyone please read through the whole entire article before claiming that all Dawkins did was pick 4 people that others disagreed with?

    Once again, the fact that Dawkins doubled down, sided with MRAs, and decided that it’s a good idea to demean people who seek social justice is the issue here. If it were only that he picked 4 people totally oblivious to his biases and nothing else happened, we wouldn’t be talking about it.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Adam Lee

    It’s not his choice of names that bothered me, but the way he lashed out at people who questioned it, ignorantly asserting that the only possible reason to object to his specific choices is that the questioner must hate white men.

  • UWIR

    You have a small list of technology, not science, from the ancient world. Does paper really compare to a 64 GB drive that is the size of a small coin? Movable type to 3D printers? The compass to the GPS system? Gunpowder to a drone? And technically, Chinese movable type were not put in printing presses, and they were of limited utility due to the lack of alphabet (something that, thousands of years later, China still hasn’t rectified).

  • UWIR

    That’s why the links are there

    No, the links are not, in fact, to a clear and concise account of the converstaion.

    Do your own homework.

    You’re not my professor, jackass. If Adam has something he would like me to know about, he should tell me, rather than assigning me “homework”. That way, only one person (Adam) has to do the research, rather than every reader having to do their own research, and it’s completely transparent as to what the argument is. With this “do your own homework” system, everyone comes with up with their own idea about just what the issue is, and they’re all talking past each other, because one thinks Adam is criticizing RD based on X, and the other thinks that he is criticizing RD based on Y. But I guess people you are more interested at yelling at other people about how horrible they are than actually having productive discussions, so you’re quite happy with the status quo.

    Yes, part of seeking social justice is calling out the racists/sexists like you when you show your ugly worldviews in public.

    The very fact that so-called “social justice” involves calling people out for being “racist” simply because they refuse to say silent when blatant lies, such as that white people commit murder at a rate higher than black people are promulgated, shows how morally bankrupt it is.

    Calling out your racism and sexism doesn’t make me dishonest or an asshole.

    But lying and being an asshole does make you a lying asshole. Is or is it not true that I posted a link to statistics on inmates, and you took the numbers for just federal prisoners, and implied that my analysis was incorrect? Yes, or no?

    Name one thing that I’ve said that is actually objective racist, and your accusation of racism is not based on you reading into it what I’m “really saying”, rather what I’m actually saying.

    But, this is a great example of what Dawkins engages in. When he’s called out, he doubles down, just like you.

    Pot, kettle. You’re the one who’s responding to being called a lying asshole by posting dishonest insults. I made three specific claims. You didn’t address those claims at all, instead you just made a bunch of unsupported allegations. You’re the one doubling down on your assholism.

    He lashes out at those pointing out his bullshit, just like you.

    You make unsupported allegations. I back up my claims with citation after citation to established sources, and you just dismiss that as “bullshit”. I cite FBI statistics, and you just dismiss the FBI as racist, and offer no evidence whatsoever of your own. I take a position supported by both Zimmerman’s statement to police and the court testimony of an independent witness, and you call me racist for not dismissing those statements as meaningless. The ONLY basis you ever present for my claims being “bullshit” is your own say-so. And on the basis of me not just accepting whatever you say just because you say it, you throw insults at me.

    Anyone looking to learn how not to act in civilized company can take both you and Dawkins as examples.

    You’re the one who absolutely refuses to discuss any of your disagreements with me civilly. Calling people racist based on things they’re not saying, and are just what you’re reading into their statements, is not civil behavior. Insulting people for disagreeing with you is not civil behavior.

  • UWIR

    DIsagreeing with the sentence for a crime is not the same as defending the act. The “Dear Muslima” letter remains his low.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    Thanks for the clarification.

  • J-D

    As William Shakespeare almost wrote: ‘If there be any in this assembly, any dear [friends] of [Dawkins], to [them] I say that [my] love to [Dawkins] was no less than [theirs]. If then [those friends] demand why [I] rose against [Dawkins], this is my answer: not that I loved [Dawkins] less, but that I loved [fairness] more.’

  • http://oolon.co.uk/ oolon

    Except he didn’t, the crime was described as not damaging. >> “Who (apart from the pig) is damaged by bacon?”
    … It was a racist hate crime, by all means disagree with the sentence given but don’t describe it as harmless.

  • GCT

    No, the links are not, in fact, to a clear and concise account of the converstaion.

    Should Adam also go back to first principles in regards to everything else, or only in times when you want to defend sexism/racism?

    If Adam has something he would like me to know about, he should tell me, rather than assigning me “homework”.

    LOL. Now you’re a petulant little child who can’t be bothered to even look at a link before spouting off racist/sexist nonsense.

    The very fact that so-called “social justice” involves calling people out for being “racist” simply because they refuse to say silent when blatant lies, such as that white people commit murder at a rate higher than black people are promulgated, shows how morally bankrupt it is.

    You can keep lying about it all you like, it doesn’t change the facts.

    Name one thing that I’ve said that is actually objective racist, and your accusation of racism is not based on you reading into it what I’m “really saying”, rather what I’m actually saying.

    This has been dealt with, repeatedly, and not just by me. You continually make this claim that nothing you’ve said can be “objectively” labeled as racist, as if that means something. You’re a horrible person.

    You’re the one who absolutely refuses to discuss any of your disagreements with me civilly.

    Being lectured on civility by a known racist and sexist is simply too much. I knew this would be funny, and you didn’t disappoint.

  • Jen L

    Dawkins is constantly claiming that his stance is always the logical and rational one, but when he is called on opinions of his that are illogical or irrational, he reacts with vitriol, unable to admit logical error. He will still attack people who call him on his behavior and logical fallacies for years after they have stopped addressing him, while explicitly encouraging harassment of those people.

    Despite his claims that his stance is always the logical and rational one, in this case, when his logical flaws were pointed out, he acted on emotion, devoid of logic, mocking others for what he falsely sees as a fallacy. When that is repeated and unrepentant behavior, it undermines the credibility of his claim that he is logical and rational.

    Like many educated, middle-to-upper class white men, he defines logical as anything that he agrees with and illogical/emotional as anything that he disagrees with, no matter how many logical fallacies he makes when making that claim and no matter how loudly and furiously he is yelling at the time.

  • Jen L

    But don’t you know? If the speaker is a middle-to-upper class, white heterosexual Western male, it is logical and rational to argue that absence of evidence is evidence of absence, especially from a position of confirmation bias.

  • Jen L

    As someone that Dawkins declares illogical based solely on having lady parts (a disgust that he shares with other fundamentalists), there is not even close to enough pushback on your hero– because if the world were rational and just, he would be held accountable by no longer being considered a hero. Your bias is obvious and you need to examine it.

    The man is just as fundamentalist as Falwell. He gets paid well for that, and all fundamentalists call themselves rational. In the case of Dawkins, his claims to rationality are disproved by his hatred of women and racial minorities*, which in turn discredits the movement that upholds him as a paragon of rationality.

    This isn’t an issue that you should ignore if you value women, non-white people*, or atheists. His stance discredits YOUR position.

    *I am unaware of his beliefs onsexual preference/gender identity so my omission here is not a claim that he fails to discriminate here as well.

  • Jen L

    FFS it’s not an ad hominem attack to point out discrimination.

  • BeaverTales

    Okay, but why are we still paying attention to him? Just because he wrote a bestselling book doesn’t make him our god or our spokesman, or anybody else’s.

    When do we get to turn the microphone off? I don’t believe the answer is “never”. Even fundamentalist Christians mostly ignore Pat Robertson, they’ve moved on from him being their demented self-appointed spokesperson. Ditto Pat Buchanan for Catholics.

    Maybe I am mystified by the attention he’s given because I haven’t yet read the God Delusion, and nothing he has said ever defined my atheism. I was an atheist long before I ever heard of this guy.

  • J-D

    Do you always find it mystifying when people pay attention to the author of a book that you haven’t read?

  • GCT

    Okay, but why are we still paying attention to him?

    I can see why you might still be wondering that seeing as how you don’t pay attention to anyone who actually explains it to you.

  • BeaverTales

    I understand why, I just don’t agree…is that okay with you or do you prefer to enforce groupthink on every issue? Asking me over and over again for weeks on end why I am being an asshole about holding an unpopular opinion isn’t going to change it….and gosh, I’m not even famous!

    I can’t see why changing Dawkins’ opinion (or mine) is so critical to you moving on with your life. I’m just another deeply flawed human being with a deeply flawed opinion. There are lots of us out there, unfortunately.

    Sucks how that works, doesn’t it? Concern trolling is such a thankless job….

  • BeaverTales

    Apparently, I’m about as mystified as you are that not everyone on the Internet agrees on every issue.

  • GCT

    I understand why…

    Then stop asking everyone why.

    …I just don’t agree…

    What, exactly, is it you don’t agree with? That we should speak up when an influential member of the atheist community says something sexist/racist/stupid? You think we should remain quiet and let them speak for us?

    …is that okay with you or do you prefer to enforce groupthink on every issue?

    Freeze Peach! alert. Too fucking bad. You posted on a public forum and said some stupid shit. I called you out on it, as did a bunch of other people. Apparently getting called out on stupid shit is enforcing groupthink? Oh, go fuck yourself.

    Asking me over and over again for weeks on end why I am being an asshole about holding an unpopular opinion isn’t going to change it….and gosh, I’m not even famous!

    Actually, you’re especially being an asshole now, something I have not previously accused you of in this conversation…which you were participating in. Don’t act like I’m simply spamming you with insults. But, the shoe does seem to fit at the moment for you.

    I can’t see why changing Dawkins’ opinion (or mine) is so critical to you moving on with your life.

    I could make the same ludicrous statement about you, since you’re arguing with me as well. That’s something that people tend to do on blogs, discuss/argue, especially when it comes to certain topics. And, we happen to have hit one of those topics, namely equal rights. I’m so glad that you are privileged enough to be nonchalant about equal rights and denigrate anyone else who dares to challenge you on stupid shit as being too passionate, but fuck you. Not everyone is as callous as you.

    Sucks how that works, doesn’t it? Concern trolling is such a thankless job….

    Says the hypocrite that just posted a comment full of concern trolling…

  • BeaverTales

    “…denigrate anyone else who dares to challenge you on stupid shit as being too passionate, but fuck you.”

    Wow, all I did was express my opinion and you melted down because it wasn’t yours. I dropped it last week, but you apparently expect me to go further and erase my all my posts and apologize for not agreeing with “everyone” because someone replied to me on an old thread.

    I’m not going to even bother debunking your strawmen about how I “agree with Dawkins” and your obvious attention seeking behavior. You win the Internets, troll. Have a nice life.

  • GCT

    Wow, all I did was express my opinion and you melted down because it wasn’t yours.

    Yes, please continue to double down.

    Melted down? I’m sorry, I didn’t realize that pointing out why it’s important to speak up when people say stupid shit was the same as melting down.

    Oh, no wait, it’s melting down because I’m pointing out that you are now being condescending, derogatory, and smug about the fact that some people actually care about equality and don’t just shrug their shoulders when influential atheists say stupid shit…something you still have yet to address. Again, this makes you look rather callous in your casual disregard for the fact that not everyone can be as privileged as you.

    I dropped it last week, but you apparently expect me to go further and erase my all my posts and apologize for not agreeing with “everyone” because someone replied to me on an old thread.

    I don’t even know what the fuck you are talking about. Someone else responded to you. You followed up by asking the same question that’s been answered multiple times by multiple people. I pointed that out and that’s somehow tantamount to asking you to erase all your posts and apologize for not agreeing with everyone? WTF is wrong with you? This sounds a lot like the faux outrage by Dawkins.

    I’m not going to even bother debunking your strawmen about how I “agree with Dawkins”…

    Again, I have to wonder what the fuck thread are you reading? Where did I claim that you agree with Dawkins? Please, point it out, because I don’t remember doing so, and I just scanned my comment and can find no trace of that.

    So, go ahead and think that you’re really clever and that you showed me, but anyone reading this can see that you’re talking out of your ass and have nothing substantial to contribute. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out…or do for all I care.

  • J-D

    You’re not behaving as if you really believe that you always have other things to do that are more important than posting comments on blogs, so your response is disingenuous.

  • Azkyroth

    If he’d continued in that vein, it might have mattered.

  • Atombrecher

    Insofar as I understand the point you make, and based solely on the arguments and tweets herein presented, I’d disagree on the “objectively the best” stuff.
    The first tweet starts with a question to the reader, asking for a piece of opinion. It is followed by a personnal opinion, then the question is repeated. If anything, somebody read too much into a 140 caracters message, and manned the harpoons.
    Then, the second tweet, which is a semi-angry rebuttal from an old guy not renowned for his tact.

    Twitter drama ex nihilo. Barely worth a comment on some blogs.
    On the plus side, I love yours, wish you the best, and can’t wait for the next Atlas dissection.


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