Guest post: On Dawkins, hero worship, and doubling down

Guest post by Josh the SpokesGay

I’m pondering this and haven’t come to any firm conclusions, but I want to float it for conversation.

We’re seeing an enormous number of people (who we thought would know and do better) ignore the most awful behavior from Dawkins. Obviously, not just with him, mind. It’s sometimes staggering; it’s so surprising to see people one knows to be capable of independent thought and analysis turn so completely nasty and dishonest in their attempts to stop any suggestion that Dawkins might be wrong.

We know that people have heroes. We know that we, too, are subject to the same instinct to circle the wagons. But the degree to which Dawkins supporters are doing this genuinely stuns me. It is quite literally watching rational people become irrational, fact-free, religious (perhaps ‘tribal’ is better) adherents for whom no argument is too dishonest or low. [Read more...]

We’re the thought police again

More managing disagreement ethically from Richard Dawkins.


Richard Dawkins ‏@RichardDawkins
The “Big Sister is Watching You” Thought Police hate @CHSommers’ Factual Feminism, and you can see why.

That’s ethical disagreement all right – calling feminists who don’t respect Christina Hoff Sommers ‘The “Big Sister is Watching You” Thought Police.’

What would the other kind look like?

Thou shalt respect The Leaders

Michael Nugent has decided to defend Richard Dawkins and Michael Shermer from the violence and abuse of those evil Freethought bloggers. It’s not a very even-handed account of the situation, in my view.

Let me preface this post by saying that I accept that I might be mistaken in anything that I write, and that I am open to changing my mind on the basis of reasonable civil discussion. Also, I assume that I have done variations of at least some of the things I am complaining about others doing here.

I believe that atheist and skeptic people and groups, like all people and groups within society, should promote compassion, empathy, fairness, justice, equality and respect for people, combined with robust rational analysis of ideas. I believe that this should include tackling sexism, racism, homophobia and other discriminatory biases in society.

I believe that the approach taken by PZ Myers, and by some other people on (for shorthand) the FreeThought Blogs perceived ‘side’ of some disagreements, is counterproductive to these aims. It is also unjust and harmful in itself, because it routinely demonises decent people who support equality but who have a different approach to it.

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Got a brioche?

PZ has a terrific guest post by Marcus Ranum on the nasty undertones of the bullshit about “click bait.” I was going to quote from it when it was a comment, but when I got around to it it had graduated to being a post.

I automatically despise people who use the “clickbait” “to make money” argument. And here is why: it never seems to come from someone who is enduring economic hardship, and it implies that the person supposedly doing it is so desperate that they need the extra fractions of a cent they might get. If you’re a bestselling author and lecturer with an international stature with an estimated net worth of over $100 million, claiming that your detractors are pushing click bait amounts to asking “why don’t they eat cake?” (“Qu’ils mangent de la brioche”) yes in the internet era there is money to be made with click bait, but it requires huge volumes such as that driven by celebrity selfie leaks and sex tapes. From the sound of it, bloggers such as those on FTb and Patheos make vastly less blogging than someone of Dawkins’ stature commands from a single speaking engagement.

Vastly less. A fraction. It’s ludicrous that they think otherwise.

Representing the totality

My friend Muhammad Syed, co-founder and ED of EXMNA, has an open letter to Yale Humanists and Muslim Students Association at Hemant’s blog.

As an activist and an ex-Muslim, I have witnessed many attempts to prevent direly-needed conversations by those threatened by the voices of others. I am saddened to see this trend continue — namely, the letter signed by several student organizations at Yale in order to prevent Ayaan Hirsi Ali from speaking at their university. [Read more...]

Guest post: And now they’re stuck

Originally a comment by =8)-DX on The cavalry has arrived.

I’m just going to try to give a really accommodating interpretation of the events:

James Randi, Sam Harris, Michael Shermer, Richard Dawkins: all agree women are human beings and should be treated as such. But in their specific, biased, tribal, personal, ordinary, everyday, exploitative, non-sexist!, clearheaded, logical, rational, fun-loving, emotional situations a crack has appeared. This is the crack through which feminist thought, language, experience, evaluations seeps through. [Read more...]

Provoking outrage

I made another attempt to talk reason. I’m absurdly optimistic, aren’t I.

Richard Dawkins ‏@RichardDawkins 13h
Can it be true, some bloggers are paid by the click, and consequently fake outrage, or play the bully, in order to attract clicks? Hope not.

Answer to my question seems to be yes, and on-line newspapers may be worst offenders – deliberately touting for clicks by provoking outrage.

Ophelia Benson @OpheliaBenson
.@RichardDawkins What about you, Richard? 2 million TGD sold, yes? Outrages many, yes? So…what is your point? You good we bad? That’s it?

@RichardDawkins Haven’t you been – often laudably – provoking outrage for years now? Why rebuke other provokers? Are you being consistent? [Read more...]

Can it be true?

So now Dawkins is going full-on sleaze, by talking like any random troll about bloggers “faking outrage” or “playing the bully” in order to make thousands of dollars per post.

Richard Dawkins ‏@RichardDawkins 11h
Can it be true, some bloggers are paid by the click, and consequently fake outrage, or play the bully, in order to attract clicks? Hope not.

I pointed out (in a tweet that I now can’t find, don’t ask me why) that he is paid per book, so should we assume he “fakes outrage” in his books in order to sell copies?

Updating, because I figured out why. (Forgot to hit “tweets & replies,” like a chump.)

Ophelia Benson @OpheliaBenson · 4h
@RichardDawkins Did you “fake outrage” or “play the bully” 2 attract royalties for TGD? No, I don’t think so – you wrote what you wanted to.

@RichardDawkins So how about assuming other people do the same unless you have VERY good reason to think otherwise?

Then I said no, we shouldn’t, so neither should he. [Read more...]

More than one factor

A couple of more notes on Harris’s pig piece, for thoroughness, just because they’re nagging at me. I was short on time when I did the first post so I rushed it.

I am well aware that sexism and misogyny are problems in our society. However, they are not the only factors that explain differences in social status between men and women.

Nobody said they were. It was Harris who tried to answer the question about why so few women in your audiences as if innate differences were the only factors. It was Harris who gave the simplistic one-factor explanation, not the pesky PC feminists. [Read more...]