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Pat Condell Gets Seriously Fucking Pwned

Oh snap. This. Is. Beautiful.

For those who don’t know, Pat Condell is primarily known in our community because Dawkins likes and endorses him repeatedly. Condell is everywhere billed as a “comedian and atheist internet personality,” I suppose because he doesn’t have any actual qualifications in anything (beyond that). He’s sort of like the Rush Limbaugh of criticizing Islam. Indeed, so far as I can tell, that’s Condell’s only substantive contribution to the atheist movement. And getting a hundred thousand Likes for it.

Now, Condell has said some really stupid and ignorant things before, demonstrating his tremendous and epic failure to adhere to even the most rudimentary principles of skepticism (like “check your facts” and “be suspicious of extraordinary claims”). Avicenna has pwned him (and exposed his implicit racism and ethnophobia). PZ Myers has pwned him (and exposed his implicit racism and ethnophobia).

But now it’s just straight off world’s end into the abyss, as Alex Gabriel meticulously demonstrates (with, you know, facts) that in Condell’s latest right wing rant he could not have provided a clearer or more consistent example of…

  • Not knowing what the fuck he is talking about (while arrogantly claiming he’s the one who knows what he’s talking about).
  • Why criticism of Islam needs to be Way Fucking More Nuanced than his racist, ethnophobic bullshit (and, through Gabriel’s deconstruction of it, how to actually effect such a nuanced critique).
  • Why Dawkins needs to start listening to smarter friends who Actually Know What They’re Talking About (given that Dawkins repeatedly praises Condell as the man to heed on this issue).
  • How not to do skepticism (and, amusingly, giving Gabriel a superb opportunity to demonstrate how to do skepticism really well).

Alex’s takedown (with its even more beautiful and educational and extensive statistics addendum) is a tour de force of admirable measure. I cannot fathom how anyone so brutally and thoroughly exposed as wrong about nearly everything he says, and wrong for no plausibly good reason (thus demonstrating that it is very probably bigotry driving his rants and not, say, facts), and never apologize and correct it, can continue to have anyone’s respect in the atheism, humanism, or skepticism communities.

In a world using objective outcome measures, Condell would be done and dusted. Sadly, too many people in the atheism, humanism, or skepticism communities replace objective facts with subjective feelings and defend their Brave Heroes rather than admit when they’ve destroyed their own credibility and their entire efforts have been exposed as a factophobic sham. Condellians will probably pepper my comments with defensive screeds somehow trying to restore Condell’s bullet-riddled body in logic-space to some semblance of crypto-ethnophobic zombie life. Just not with actual facts or logic. (Or they’ll just attack me with complete non sequiturs that don’t even defend their Hero, like I’ve seen them do time and again to others.)

There are lots of things wrong with Islam. But there are lots of things wrong with Christianity, too. And fascism. And poverty. And superstition. And ignorance. And bigotry.

Don’t listen to the Rush Limbaugh of Islamocriticism anymore. Please. Listen to people who know what they’re talking about, and aren’t ignorant ethnophobic bigots. We have at least six blogs on our network with contributors who have extensive experience with or knowledge of Islam and Muslims, some of them by or featuring actual ex-Muslims. I’m sure if you take the trouble to explore our roster you’ll find them (yes, I’m challenging you to do that…assuming you haven’t already!). Hear what they have to say instead.

Comments

  1. neilgodfrey says

    Forgive me for linking here to my own blog, but I have presented selected findings and research studies by internationally respected specialists in Islamic studies and Western ignorance and bigotry toward Muslims generally. I mention my blog because I believe I have added to it two well grounded resources on this very important topic:

    (1) On Islamophobia and bigotry, see the Islamophobia archive, and

    (2) For scholarly views on Islam itself, with an emphasis on research by anthropologists, sociologists, political scientists, see the Islam archive.

    I intend to add to these archives over time and believe they provide useful and grounded information for understanding both Islam and Western responses to it.

    I was appalled at the visceral reactions against scholarly research into the whole question of the ignorance and fear of Moslems generally these and related posts (all based on or sharing the works of prominent and highly respected scholars) elicited from readers. I, too, had presumed intelligent atheists would be smarter than to recycle the bigotries of the past.

    I am very pleased to see you come out so strongly on this matter, too.

    • says

      I recommend reading Neil’s stuff on Islam. He cites some pretty fascinating research. I can’t, however, recommend trying to engage with him in the comments section if you disagree with any of the conclusions he draws from the research that he cites.

      On this topic, he treats anyone who disagrees with him as ignorant and irrational, and will not afford you the basic respect of engaging seriously with your objections. He’ll just insist you don’t understand and need to read more, no matter how carefully you lay out your case, and no matter how many times you explicitly ask him to clarify specific points.

      I, and others, only had a “visceral reaction” to Neil’s condescending and evasive treatment of our disagreements with him on this topic, *not* to the post itself, or to the work of the scholars he cited. That he portrays it this way after the fact is amazing, and yet more disrespect.

    • says

      Just FYI, I would need an example of that complaint, to verify it’s accurate, because I hear exactly the same complaint from so many people in so many other cases who aren’t accurately reporting what happened–all too often when I go and check their example, I find they were not in fact being reasonable or informed, despite insisting they had been, and that when they were finally dismissed as ignorant or unreasonable, that was an accurate description. So I can’t know just from your report whether Neil is being unreasonable or you are. Because I now know from abundant experience that the exact same report, with the exact same wording, can come from a reasonable person or an unreasonable one. So if you have a best-case example you can link to (a thread somewhere that best exemplifies what you are saying), that would be helpful to me and my readers.

    • Jason Goertzen says

      Sure, that’s fair. I didn’t link to it, because he did. (It’s in his “Islam archive: http://vridar.org/2013/06/07/end-of-faith-and-other-pulp-fiction/). It was his article called “The End of Faith and Other Pulp Fiction,” (which he described *in the article* as being about a “fact by fact rebuttal of Sam Harris’s diatribes against all religions” by reference to Scott Atran’s work). Despite the article clearly being aimed at refuting Sam Harris, when something I said suggested the article was yet another of his focused on Sam Harris, he denied it, claiming it was “primarily” about Scott Atran. I guess the fact it was about how Atran’s work refutes Harris was irrelevant.

      Anyway, to be clear, I don’t think I was flawless either. I got annoyed (because, again, this was another in a series of such articles) and he was definitely right in a couple of instances that I misread. But for the most part he dodged glaring errors and fallacies and refused to clarify. It was maddening. I should have ducked out much sooner than I did.

    • says

      The article you link to is Atran refuting Harris, of course, not Godfrey refuting Atran. Godfrey says in his reply to you, “I am merely summarizing or sharing what the scholars themselves say from their own and others’ research.” Godfrey is saying, in other words, that you are criticizing Atran, not Godfrey. Godfrey then says you got what he said wrong, repeatedly (indeed he says right away, “I did not accuse Harris of the things you are reading into my words”). You basically ignored him. That’s your bad, not his. I see no evidence of what you were accusing him of here.

      Case in point, you accuse Godfrey (via his summary of Atran) of saying Harris believes “Muslims are evil” (your quote marks, even though that is nowhere a quote from anything in Godfrey’s article). He pointed out that he never said any such thing, but that (and again, only insofar as he is reporting what Atran said; emphasis now mine) “Harris implies [note the meaning of the word implies] Muslims are more evil than atheists” and that “because, according to [Harris’s] logic [as Atran reads him] no atheist would condone the murder of ‘a single little girl’ [here quoting Harris].” This is an easily refuted claim on Harris’s part, and Atran soundly refutes it, and Godfrey approves. And he is right to. The evidence Atran adduces refutes Harris’s premise that no atheist would condone the murder of ‘a single little girl’ and with that premise gone, Harris has no logically sound argument that Muslims are intrinsically “more” evil than atheists (which is not a quote of Harris, but an implication Atran draws from Harris). Certainly one can find some Muslims who are more evil than some atheists, but it is precisely the complete lack of exactly that nuance in Harris that Atran is saying Harris doesn’t voice. Possibly Atran is wrong about that. But you didn’t really make any effort to show it (such as by quoting what Harris does say). Godfrey tried explaining these things to you repeatedly. And you ignored him until he rightly got fed up and told you to go away.

      So, alas, my prediction came true: your own example shows you were not being reasonable, but in fact Godfrey was more than patient and reasonable enough with you, and reasonably gave up on you when you didn’t show the same in return.

      I found the same results for other claims you made. I stopped checking at that point. By then it was already well enough confirmed that you didn’t correctly describe what went on on Godfrey’s comment thread.

      To illustrate how amazingly prescient my prediction was, I’ll repeat it, as now accurately describing exactly what you just did:

      I hear exactly the same complaint from so many people in so many other cases who aren’t accurately reporting what happened–all too often when I go and check their example, I find they were not in fact being reasonable or informed, despite insisting they had been, and that when they were finally dismissed as ignorant or unreasonable, that was an accurate description. So I can’t know just from your report whether Neil is being unreasonable or you are. Because I now know from abundant experience that the exact same report, with the exact same wording, can come from a reasonable person or an unreasonable one.

      Alas.

      You might want to read this.

      It adduces quotes from Harris supporting Atran’s point above, e.g. “Islam, more than any other religion human beings have devised, has all the makings of a thoroughgoing cult of death.” That is basically saying Islam intrinsically produces more evil than atheism. That author adduces many other quotes supporting the same sentiment as being indeed Harris’s thinking on the matter.

      Godfrey was aware of things like this. You do not appear to be.

    • Jason Goertzen says

      So to be clear, I definitely got irritated and wrote progressively rudely. But I stand by the fact that, with a few exceptions, I was correct, and was reading fairly, and that if I wasn’t, the burden was on him to explain the ‘confusion,’ a burden he refused repeatedly.

    • says

      Wow. I don’t know where to begin.

      “You must be confused. The article you link to is Atran refuting Harris, not Godfrey refuting Atran. ”

      Where did I describe it as Godfrey refuting Atran? The sentence was convoluted, but I certainly didn’t describe it like that. I hope you meant “…not Godfrey refuting *Harris*”? In this case it’s a distinction without a difference–which basically summarizes what I argued at length to Godfrey in the comments section of that blog post.

      But to clarify it here–the post was Godfrey listing the facts, from Atran’s book, which he believes ‘refute’ Harris. Whether or not Atran was the source of the facts (or of the inference that these facts “refute” Harris), once Godfrey cites these facts and inferences approvingly, it’s fair to challenge *him* on believing they are valid inferences. It’s also unfair of him to suggest that the article wasn’t really about Harris, when it manifestly was.

      If someone wrote a few blog posts about your work, then another one about Bart Ehrman’s take on your work, would it REALLY fair of him to say that the latest post was about Ehrman, and not really about you, if I mentioned he’d been writing about you a lot? Of course it wouldn’t be. But this is exactly what Godfrey did.

      You claim I “ignored” his plea that he didn’t say the things I accused him of saying. But I literally did the exact opposite! I took several of the specific claims and showed why I had to conclude he BELIEVED these things, given the other things he HAD said (admitting, in the process, that I didn’t believe he said them explicitly–so it’s weird for you to point out the error as though I had not corrected it explicitly). I then added:

      “You hide behind the fact you didn’t outright *say* Harris believes X, despite having written points contradicting X *in a list of “fact by fact rebuttals” of Harris!*”

      Now whether you agree with this reply or not is a separate issue–one we can get into if you’d like–but I find it baffling you should think I *ignored* his protests, given I spent so much time showing why they made no sense. You can’t possibly have read my replies fairly and come away thinking I “ignored” these protests of Godfrey’s!

      Anyway, even if we don’t agree here (having re-read that exchange after so long, I still find him condescending and evasive), I’m glad you found him reasonable–he writes a lot about mythicism, so you might find engaging with him interesting (perhaps to address his post on your work about Bayes’ Theorem.–obviously we’re going to disagree here. It’s an exchange I would enjoy reading.

    • says

      Again, you are ignoring what Godfrey was actually objecting to, getting his response to you wrong, and in the process ignoring almost every point I made and focusing instead entirely on the least relevant one.

      You need to mind that behavior. That’s going to get you banned or berated in every comment thread on earth.

    • Jason Goertzen says

      “You might want to read this.

      It adduces quotes from Harris supporting Atran’s point above, e.g. “Islam, more than any other religion human beings have devised, has all the makings of a thoroughgoing cult of death.” That is basically saying Islam intrinsically produces more evil than atheism.”

      This is exactly the kind of reply that, had Godfrey made it rather than just hiding behind “I didn’t say that!” might have sparked a fruitful dialogue. He didn’t. He claimed he never said it and wouldn’t fess up to believing it. When I pointed out that what he DID say necessarily entails it, he suggested, ridiculously that “if my words were meant to suggest that Harris thinks Muslims are evil then it must also follow that I accused him of saying atheists are evil.” Needless to say, this *doesn’t* follow.

      As it happens, I have read that Glenn Greenwald piece–as a response to Harris linking to it at the time–and it DID make me change my mind about Harris some. While Greenwald does take some quotes SERIOUSLY out of (despite his protests to the contrary), some of what he demonstrated was damning. Greendwald demonstrated that Harris does clearly have several false beliefs about the statistics regarding Muslims and support for terrorism. Reading this helped reshape my views. There’s a reason Godfrey’s denial he’d ever said such a thing (or even implied it!) didn’t help reshape my views.

      As for your defense of the whole thing about Atran’s argument and how right it was and how wrong I was, you obviously didn’t read further down, where Godfrey supplied the quote that Atran used to deduce that Harris believes this:

      “Sam Harris wrote in Letter to a Christian Nation: “An atheist is a person who believes that the murder of a single little girl — even once in a million years — casts doubt upon the idea of a benevolent God.” Atran comments: “The implied logic — that religious people in general, and Muslims in particular, tend to do more terrible things than do atheists — is hollow. . . . Atheists, to be sure, may well believe that the killing of a little girl is evidence against the existence of God. The proposition is true but trivial. Atheists, who have also killed tens of millions of people, among them millions of little girls, can equally take the murders they themselves have committed as evidence against God’s power to intervene.”

      Do you think Atran’s argument is a good one? To me, the entire thing reads as a massive red herring. Atran may be right that Harris is unfairly biased against Muslims, but he’s right by accident. The reason he gives is nonsensical.

      Harris is describing the Problem of Evil. It has nothing to do with Harris thinking Atheists are morally superior.

      So Richard, I’m afraid you read some of the exchange, looking for evidence to support your prediction, and you found it. I don’t think you found it fairly.

    • says

      This is exactly the kind of reply that, had Godfrey made it rather than just hiding behind “I didn’t say that!” might have sparked a fruitful dialogue. He didn’t.

      Yet I found that in one minute of googling.

      Why didn’t you?

      Godfrey took you to task for proving nothing, not knowing what you were talking about, and arguing by assertion, as well as engaging in hyperbole and straw man and other fallacies. He was right.

      Godfrey already provided a source for his claims (Atran), which it looks like you didn’t consult or interact with at all (beyond Godfrey’s paraphrase). And Godfrey took you to task for that as well. He was right.

      You were simply wrong about Harris, you had no evidence to back anything you claimed about Harris, and didn’t even parse Atran’s sourcing (did you even read Atran?) or get what he said right (as I’ve noted). Godfrey said these very same things. And he was, again, right. But you did nothing to correct your approach. That resulted in Godfrey getting tired of you.

      If you can’t figure out why that was justified (and why your weirdly extreme, borderline-libelous accusation against Godfrey here was way out of line and not justified), then you might need to lay off commenting anywhere for a while until you know how to do it properly.

      (And in case you forgot, this is what you said: On this topic, [Godfrey] treats anyone who disagrees with him as ignorant and irrational, and will not afford you the basic respect of engaging seriously with your objections. He’ll just insist you don’t understand and need to read more, no matter how carefully you lay out your case, and no matter how many times you explicitly ask him to clarify specific points. I, and others, only had a “visceral reaction” to Neil’s condescending and evasive treatment of our disagreements with him on this topic, *not* to the post itself, or to the work of the scholars he cited. That he portrays it this way after the fact is amazing, and yet more disrespect. I asked for an example backing this rather scathing generalization. You gave me one. I checked it. And I did not find any of these accusations true. It seems now the only accusation you have left against him is that he would have won his argument against you had he cited Greenwald. That’s pretty weak tea in light of what you were accusing him of. Particularly since you should have found Greenwald yourself. Because you should have checked your claims before making them.)

  2. Schlumbumbi says

    You know what times you’re living in when comedians get villified. Ugly.

    On a more serious note, @ Richard Carrier:
    Why exactly are you so worried about what Pat Condell says ? I don’t hear you lamenting any other crude & over-the-top skits, including the ones you try to pull off every now and then ? And what about us ? Should we start giving you the finger for resorting to comparisons with Hitler, the KKK, Sociopaths and what not whenever you don’t like what someone else said ?

    The opposite between you and Pat Condell is that you take your own stuff way too seriously.

    • says

      You mean, when comedians make false factual claims and are refuted?

      You have a strange definition of “vilified.”

      You also have a strange notion of what’s bad. Refuting falsehoods is good.

      On what the problem is with lying to or misinforming the public and ginning up racist and ethnophobic ignorance and hatred, as if you needed to know what the problem with that is (I guess you think there is nothing wrong with FOX News), Alex Gabriel’s article answers that question directly, even with links showing the real and destructive human cost that results from it. You didn’t bother to look at any of that, clearly.

      You would also know more about the costs and harm this does, even to Condell’s own cause (as one commenter here already correctly explains), if you actually hung out and spoke with an ex-Muslim, particularly one who had to live in America or the UK most of their lives.

      As to your question, “should we start giving you the finger for resorting to comparisons with Hitler, the KKK, Sociopaths and what not whenever you don’t like what someone else said,” you conveniently linked to no examples, evidently so your unsupported assumptions could avoid being burned away by the light of truth. I have never made such comparisons without factually relevant evidence and necessary nuance; I have never done that “merely” because I don’t like what someone said.

      Case in point: I don’t like what Pat Condell has said (it is indeed hateful, bigoted, and false), yet I have not compared him to Hitler, or even the KKK, or called him a sociopath…because I have no evidence that any of those comparisons would be in any way correct or apt in his case; the most one might propose is that he is promulgating claims that are in the orbit of KKK-like arguments, but even then I wouldn’t say he is saying the exact same things as the KKK unless I gathered and presented examples of the KKK saying exactly the same things.

      (If you believe demonstrating someone is a bigot is the same thing as equating them with the KKK, then the false assumption there is being made by you, not us.)

      The opposite between you and Pat Condell is that you take your own stuff way too seriously.

      You mean I take the truth way too seriously?

      If you think accusing me of taking the truth seriously is an insult, you are on the wrong side of sense.

  3. says

    What these bigoted shits NEVER seem to grasp, is that when we look at the Muslim community, we need to be looking for potential allies, not just enemies. BOTH are there to be found, and if we don’t succeed at both, then our campaign to discredit religious extremism will fail miserably.

    There are plenty of Muslims out there who want to get rid of the extremists and support a secular society just as badly as we do, for all of the same reasons. Anyone who can’t see the difference between potential allies and enemies should be kicked to the curb ASAP, for the good of everyone, before they do even more damage than they’ve already done.

  4. Nicole says

    When I first started listening to Pat Condell, he was genuinely funny. He focused on Christianity and on occasion veered of to take a look at Islam. As time went on he became more and more obsessed with Islam his videos we less and less funny. Finally they turned into a one note rant about the dangers of Islam and to top it all off they were boring. I unsubscribed a while ago … glad I did .

  5. says

    Jerry Coyne, of Why Evolution Is True, likes Pat Condell too. This is tragic because Coyne’s pictures are more plentiful than PZ Myers’. One quibble, which is that surely Sam Harris should have made an appearance somewhere in there?

    This sort of thing is why I am no longer an atheist. Theists always equivocate between their actual religion and the definition of “religion” as meaning “the belief I am obliged to be moral” and “God” as “the personification of Good..” If you’re against obligation to be good and despise Good Himself, you’re not really an atheist, you’re a libertarian. Even worse, practical atheism is an essential proposition in metaphysics. Most people aren’t doing science, so they don’t need a grip on philosophical materialism. What’s important is rejecting bigotry. Unfortunately, as the Condells show us, atheism and anti-bigotry aren’t the same thing.

    Good post.

    • says

      I don’t know what you mean about Harris. Are you saying Harris has endorsed Condell’s rants about Islam? I wasn’t aware of that. (I also didn’t know Coyne has endorsed him; I would appreciate links showing either, so I can see exactly what you mean.)

      Most people aren’t doing science, so they don’t need a grip on philosophical materialism.

      Oh, dear, no. That is entirely incorrect. Lacking a sound grip on philosophical materialism leads to countless instances of philosophical error plaguing society today. It makes people vulnerable to manipulation, superstition, and error.

      Rejecting bigotry isn’t enough. You also have to know how the world actually works, what actually exists, what your own nature really is, and so much more. Bigotry is not the only toxic form of ignorance. All ignorance brings risks and dangers, and all is bad. Even the one tiny facet, of rejecting bigotry, is not easy to do reliably without a good grasp on reality, the world, and human nature. All of which only naturalism is getting right.

      Nonbelief in god is atheism. You can’t avoid that truth. So unless you believe in god, you are an atheist. The only question here is what sort of atheism dominates organized atheism as an identity movement: the ignorant and bigoted like Condell’s, or the informed, nuanced and compassionate like Gabriel’s.

      It’s pretty clear where I side in that equation. It would be nice if Condell realized this and joined us, and criticized Islam informedly and empathetically, like many an atheist like Gabriel is doing.

    • says

      This sort of thing is why I am no longer an atheist.”

      The bad behaviour of a small number of your fellow atheists is a shallow and frankly stupid reason to disavow the label. If you hold no belief in theistic gods, you are by definition atheist regardless of how other atheists behave. But hey – if you change your criteria for belief and start holding to deism or theism, feel free to not be atheist any more.

    • says

      Mentioning Harris was meant to be mildly humorous. I always thought of him as the Animal Farmer amongst the 9/11 atheists. “All religions are equal(ly bad) but some are more equal than others.” Since I have to explain it plainly not funny, sorry.

      But here’s a link for Coyne: http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2013/01/08/pat-condell-on-israel-and-palestine/
      You may think Coyne is nuanced enough here not to be regarded as endorsing Condell in general.

    • says

      Thanks. That is a little disturbing. Does Coyne not know what the actual grievances are among Palestinians? Or that most Palestinians, poll after poll, prefer a peaceful coexistence solution…that addresses their actual grievances? Instead he buys into Condell’s racist, ethnophobic, and ignorant nonsense as if he trusted Condell to actually inform him of the facts on the ground. Why does he do that? I can’t imagine what the answer is.

      Religion certainly plays a part (it drives the extremists and hardliners on both sides), but none of the actual grievances most Palestinians voice are religious. And contrary to Condell’s hyperbole, the virtues and crimes of both sides are acknowledged by most liberal critics of the conflict. And so on and so forth. Most of what Condell says in that video is either false or a standard fallacy of hyperbole or false generalization. Notably, he gives no examples or evidence for any of his claims. He just strings together a monotonous series of assertions couched in an air of restrained rage. Embarrassing.

      I recommend people peruse this poll summary site; which draws in part from this source; poll data indicate 60% of Palestinians “oppose military operations against Israeli targets and believe they harm Palestinian national interests” and the 31% who support them do so only “as appropriate response under current political conditions” and not as a zero-sum jihad. Only 12% of Palestinians want the dissolution of Israel. The rest want a peaceful solution of coexistence (some variety of either one-state or two-state). Etc.

      How can Coyne buy into what Condell is saying, in the face of actual facts like these?

      That even Coyne does shows how dangerous and toxic Condell’s ignorant bullshit is. It is misleading even leading lights like Coyne. And Coyne doesn’t even think to educate his readers by fact-checking what Condell says. Bad skeptic.

    • Al says

      Condell’s video is just propaganda. You’ll notice the racism creeping out with his comments about Arabs. What is interesting is that Condell previously did a video where he was critical of Israel:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Vaw658Bow8

      Now he is basically a Likud mouthpiece.

      Looking at Coyne’s take more closely, it makes little sense. Coyne thinks that the Palestinians are not motivated by territorial grievances, but by religion. Then, strangely, Coyne thinks, in order to achieve peace, Israel should withdraw all its settlements. Well, if it’s all about religion, what good will that do, Jerry? Silly Jerry.

    • Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

      This sort of thing is why I am no longer an atheist. Theists always equivocate between their actual religion and the definition of “religion” as meaning “the belief I am obliged to be moral” and “God” as “the personification of Good..” If you’re against obligation to be good and despise Good Himself, you’re not really an atheist, you’re a libertarian. Even worse, practical atheism is an essential proposition in metaphysics. Most people aren’t doing science, so they don’t need a grip on philosophical materialism.

      Yeah. You know, theists are always equivocating between “following god” and “following teachings” of a particular religion. I’m also aware of their belief that following god means “I am obliged to be straight” with “God” as “the personification of the head of a family (father)”. If you have an obligation to be straight but reject Patriarchy itself, you’re not queer, you’re a hedonist. Even worse, practical queerness is an essential proposition as a metaphysical comparator to even *define* straightness, hence all the rules against cross dressing and queer men’s sex in various religions. But most people aren’t doing sexology, so they do need a grip on philosophical sexual orientation.

      This sort of thing is why I am no longer a lesbian.

    • Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc says

      I agree. His older videos were well worth watching but somewhere he went completely off in to the long grass of British isolationism… I wonder what happened (without getting in to pop psychology!)?

  6. Chris B. says

    “I cannot fathom how anyone so brutally and thoroughly exposed as wrong about nearly everything he says, and wrong for no plausibly good reason (thus demonstrating that it is very probably bigotry driving his rants and not, say, facts), and never apologize and correct it, can continue to have anyone’s respect in the atheism, humanism, or skepticism communities.”

    I suppose these people endure for the same reason that sites like Breitbart and World New Daily (or extreme right- and left-wing media outlets in general) are popular. Most people will choose supporting their social group over reason, even when they claim to be skeptics.

  7. Thetarr says

    Richard, it’s wonderful that you are unleashing your “intellectual artillery” on Condell. Writing like an angry 12 year old, using stupid terms like “pwning” must be so invigorating for you. You’re now on a par with Ophelia and PZ, but you will never hold a candle to the best blogger of all on FTB, Comradde PhysioProffe.

    • says

      Funny. Someone who thinks using funny and apt terms like “pwn” is childish is in that very statement acting like a crotchety eighty-year-old out-of-touch conservative who doesn’t know how cellphones work. Or pop culture.

    • says

      That’s funny. Because I didn’t. I am a regular reader of Alex Gabriel. And thus he clearly cannot be my “least-favourite blogger” (!?); and consequently I didn’t have to “monitor the internets” to learn of this (much less look for buzzwords).

      I just read diversely among good bloggers (as anyone who wishes to not be ignorant should do) and love an excellent and thorough take-down of any truly awful and toxic argument (as anyone who loves truth and reason would).

      But nice try attempting to alter reality to suit your fantasies. Too bad reality doesn’t cooperate. Sad face.

  8. Donnie says

    STOP CURTAILING PAT’S FREEZE PEACHES!!!!!!

    This is just another example of how removing religion does not make the world a better place, in and of itself. I am among the PZ types and all who do not define myself by my atheism. However, releasing myself from the constraints of religion has enabled me to focus on making the world a better place despite the resistance from the #BraveHeros who are skepto-atheist fanatics in refusing to apply social justice concepts. Seriously, what is so wrong or hard about it? Weird.

    I wasn’t very aware of Dawkins and his praise for Pat Condell. Just another check mark against Richard in my book where Richard fails with his benighted world view.

  9. Theodore Shellhamer says

    Thanks for the heads up, Richard. Although it has been a while since I last saw a Pat Condell video, I recall being amused (and sometimes entertained) by his rantings. For me, they got old and I stopped watching them. I much prefer a reasoned argument with facts or even actual comedy from a professional stand-up – heck, even conservative comics like Larry the Cable Guy and Jeff Foxworthy are funny when they re in their realm and relating personal experiences.

    Keep up the good work.

  10. robotczar says

    I suggest that the source of any problem with what some say about Islam is the inconsistency of your atheism with your politics. Multiculturalism is an ideology, not a scientific principle. While “respect” for other cultures is fine, it is a mistake to think that all cultures are equal or that every belief of a culture should be respected.

    Condell attacks Christian culture too, but he defends Western culture, which seems to be the only one that doesn’t get any respect. Islam currently has a greater hold on political entities in many countries than Christianity has on Western states (maybe the US is an exception). So, those who seek to criticize Islam have a hard time criticizing the religion without criticizing the culture–they are to entwined. The fact is, Islamic culture has many things that should not be respected, just like Christian culture. But the culture of the West has promoted several ideas that I think deserve more respect than Islamic culture–equal treatment for women, free speech and tolerance of varied perspectives, free speech, acceptance of homosexuality, and more. Why should my culture be assumed wrong or be forced to accept other cultures? On what evidence is equality of cultures assumed?

    • says

      I’m unclear what you are saying. I actually agree with you. So does Gabriel (as you would know if you read his article). You seem to think we don’t agree with you. Why?

  11. says

    I used to worry I was the only atheist who found Condell to be an irritating blowhard. It seems like he’s getting even worse, though I wouldn’t have thought that possible.

    This take down is as awesome as it is thorough.

    I do find it a bit of stretch when Alex takes issue with referring to the god of Islam as “Allah.” He suggests it has “no purpose other than to make Islam seem more foreign.” I would argue he’s half-right. It has no purpose at all. It’s not done “on purpose.” I think people–including Condell–just do it because they’ve learned to do it, since English-speaking Muslims also do it. I don’t think Condell was doing it, on purpose, to make Islam sound more foreign. Though, if he’d thought of it, I’m sure he would have ;)

    • says

      I would say it’s like racism more generally: people often don’t know they are doing or saying something racist (it isn’t consciously deliberate), but what they are doing or saying is still caused by unquestioned racist assumptions and serves to reinforce them in the speaker’s mind. It might never occur to Condell that Allah just means God; but he still keeps using it because it separates Muslims as “foreign” in his mind and allows him to rationalize his treatment of their godism as in some way (crucially, a bad way) different from Christian godism. He might not be conscious of this. But it’s part of the ethnophobia trapped in his head. It’s the same way misogynists refer to all feminism as radfem. It might not be conscious or deliberate–they might actually believe all feminism is radfem, which is still sexism (paradigmatic bigotry by negative stereotyping). Similarly, the Condells of the world might actually believe Allah is some alien thing and not just the same old God belief we’ve been fighting for centuries–which is still paradigmatic bigotry by negative stereotyping. Conscious or not.

    • Jason Goertzen says

      You raise some good points. I hadn’t thought of it that way. But it seems to me that if the English-speaking Muslims refer to God as Allah, surely it can’t be THAT disrespectful to follow suit when speaking to or about them? I mean, if feminists pretty much all called themselves “radfem,” it wouldn’t be problematic for others to follow suit, right?

      But I agree that the term might help them categorize Muslims as “extra wrong,” somehow. As if plain old wrong Christians are at least the “wrong people you know.”

    • says

      It’s not a question of being disrespectful. Read what Gabriel actually said. Please.

      It’s a question of neurolinguistics: by choosing to use the foreign word (from just one Muslim language…many Muslims do not speak Arabic) you are contributing to the false belief that Muslim God-belief is somehow different and alien from all other God-belief, and flagging their foreignness (a particular absurdity, for example, when talking about Muslims who are not only Americans or Brits but have been for generations), and thus contributing to a bigoted mindset, both in yourself and in anyone you are speaking to and trying to persuade.

      You’ll notice this when you commit to never using the word Allah for a year. See how it changes the way everything you say and hear about Muslims sounds and feels, and what associations it now does and doesn’t evoke in your mind. That will open your eyes.

      It’s just like always using the male pronoun. When you try always using the female pronoun instead (indeed, try that for a year), you will start to see how it looks to half the world’s population when you do it the other way around. And then you’ll understand.

    • says

      Ah, yes. That makes more sense. Looking now, I read “There is absolutely no reason – except to make Muslims sound particularly foreign – to refer to the god of Islam as Allah” as a suggestion that Condell was using the word, on purpose, to achieve this end.

      After your explanation I no longer read it this way, though it’s harder to pin down. More like “Please stop using that word. It’s having this effect.”

      Thanks for explaining.

    • says

      Again, Condell might not be doing that on purpose. But that doesn’t change the fact that his doing it still reinforces ethnophobia and bigotry. And that’s the point Gabriel is making, and that we should all take away from this.

      (Also, the aim is not to never use the word. The aim is to be conscious of when and why we are using it, and to rethink that, if the consequences in a particular context are not what we should wish, even upon ourselves and our own thinking.)

  12. jdoran says

    “I cannot fathom how anyone so brutally and thoroughly exposed as wrong about nearly everything he says, and wrong for no plausibly good reason (thus demonstrating that it is very probably bigotry driving his rants and not, say, facts), and never apologize and correct it, can continue to have anyone’s respect in the atheism, humanism, or skepticism communities.”

    The same way Jesus mythicists do, I expect.

    http://eschatonnow.blogspot.cz/2013/10/did-jesus-really-exist-brief-defence-of.html

    (I’m not the writer of the above blog)

    • says

      That’s a false analogy. Nothing that guy says even responds to the mythicism of myself or (for example) Earl Doherty. It’s just a giant straw man that doesn’t even quote or interact with any actual mythicist literature. (It just asks questions we have all long answered; and shows no awareness of what those answers even are.)

      A better example would be citing my own article demonstrating toeheads still stay sold on Atwill’s mythicism.

      But maybe you didn’t want to because that would reinforce my point about Condell.

    • jdoran says

      Either analogy works, really. It’s interesting that you jumped to the conclusion that I’m a Condell supporter (I’m not), when I was actually pointing out that the same argument applies to your own position. I’ve seen enough of your talks on Youtube and read enough of your material (I was tentatively a mythicist, until I bought and read your Proving History in the hopes of being able to better argue for the mythicist position) to know that you’ve put forth your own alternative answers to those questions.

      The author’s point was that your answers to those questions are far more convoluted than simply accepting the theory that there was a crazy apocalyptic preacher (if I recall correctly, even you agree that they weren’t uncommon in Roman-occupied Judea) who happened to be the basis for the Jesus of Christianity. We see similar behavior from creationists and apologists when they try to justify their god and/or creationism. Though I would indeed be surprised if he knew what your specific answers are; you don’t seem to have much published material in reputable journals.

      Instead, a group of mythicists started their own journal (Wikipedia says it died in 2003) to promote their ideas. Who else does that? Oh, right, the creationists.

      Instead, mythicists write books and give talks aimed at laypersons, since they can’t make any headway in challenging the scholarly consensus. Who else does that? Oh, right, the creationists. As JT Eberhard says (of creationists), “What does that say about them? What does that say about what they think of you?”

      It’s just so odd to me that the atheist community supports the scholarly consensus when the idea being advanced is “Jesus was the son of God, performed miracles, etc, etc”, but fails to do so when the idea put forth is “historical figures usually have some basis in reality and Christianity’s Jesus was no exception”.

    • says

      Oh, indeed. I have been quite vocal about the pseudo-history and irrational fanaticism among mythicists myself. That doesn’t justify concluding that they represent the best case for mythicism.

      I don’t think there is anything odd about atheists trusting the mainstream expert conclusion that the evidence doesn’t support divinity or miracles (since it doesn’t take much to see why that’s correct) but distrusting the mainstream expert conclusion that Jesus is like Abraham (since it doesn’t take much to see the arguments advanced in defense of that are terrible). Precedent establishes the atheists are probably right: the mainstream establishment viciously opposed the ahistoricity of the patriarchs when it was advanced as a fringe theory in the 70s; it’s now the mainstream view.

    • Vince Hart says

      One might also argue that “supernatural figures who appear in visions usually have no historical reality (e.g., the Angel Moroni, the Angel Gabriel) and Christianity’s risen Christ is no different.

  13. Jet says

    Condell pwns himself IMO. The Rush Limbaugh comparison is apt. Considerably so as, like with those who listen to Limbaugh, I’m not certain people who take Condell seriously can be reasoned with or persuaded. At least I doubt they’ll be persuaded by something like what Alex wrote.

    I see a lot of people in Condell’s vein coming from the position of outrage at the perceived liberal tendency to go easy on Islam, often citing the fact that Muslims are a minority in the west and suffer oppression. That Alex spends the first several paragraphs doing exactly that makes me suspect anyone from Condell’s camp will have stopped listening before getting into the thick of the argument.

  14. says

    “that’s Condell’s only substantive contribution to the atheist movement.”

    He has made many videos about Christianity as well, many of which are very entertianing.

    “failure to adhere to even the most rudimentary principles of skepticism”

    Even you said he is billed as a comedian and atheist personality, not a skeptic.

    “Why criticism of Islam needs to be Way Fucking More Nuanced”

    I believe many people have told you that your criticisms need to be more nuanced as well. When did you become the nuance police?

    “You mean, when comedians make false factual claims and are refuted?”

    Since when are comedians held to the same standards as people in the business of providing factual claims? Do these people also spend their time refuting Bill Hicks? He was crazier than Condell will ever be, and is still loved by atheists everywhere, myself included.

    For the record, I am not a “Condellian”. I appreciate some of his work for what it is, an art form known as comedy, where jokes do not have to be factually correct or politically correct. You do not have to agree with everyhting someone believes or says in order to enjoy their performance, or else most comedians would be out of work. Also, just out of curiosity, not as a non-sequitar intended to attack you, but why do you randomly captatlize words?

    • says

      “Pat Condell is not a skeptic.” Aptly said. Thanks!

      “I believe many people have told you that your criticisms need to be more nuanced as well.”

      Example?

      Since when are comedians held to the same standards as people in the business of providing factual claims?

      We aren’t talking about comedy routines. We are talking about straight political speech. Condell isn’t doing a bit here. He’s preaching a factual view of the world. Surely you can tell the difference? (I shudder in horror if you can’t.)

      I haven’t said anything about Condell’s comedy bits. I’ve never even seen one. (Criticizing humor is different than criticizing straight speech; here I am only talking about Gabriel’s take-down of Condell’s preaching, not his comedy act.)

      why do you randomly captatlize words?

      Because it’s not randomly. It’s a common literary device for emphasizing that what is being capitalized is a Big Idea rich with important consequences that should be noted and explored.

  15. L.Long says

    Yes Pat may be over the top with many of his comments, and out right wrong on others.
    BUT…Is he wrong about the muslins hating gays?

    Let’s see…islame-Xtians-jews are all abrahamic religions based on old testament.

    The OT says kill the gay. All three make sure, or at least try to, that gays have no equal rights and if possible no rights at all except the right to be beaten up.

    When the religious hold up their fairy tale books with red lines thru certain parts and declare this is not moral, then I will believe that gays-atheists-women can be tolerated by these types.

    So long as their holey books say what they say, the more tolerant of these deluded sheeple are nothing more then enablers of the fanatical ones.

    Yes Pat may well be over the top but he aint even close to being a Rush.

    • says

      Holy crap. You didn’t even read Gabriel’s article, did you?

      Example:

      Is he wrong about the muslins hating gays?

      Pop quiz: how did Alex Gabriel answer that question?

      Give me the exact quote. And the links Gabriel provided.

      If you can’t do that, then you are choosing to be willfully ignorant and refusing to learn anything.

      And that will be the story of you.

    • L.Long says

      Sorry Richard but I did read the article and yes it says something about many muslins do not hate gays.

      But I did not address Alex’s view of things, nor Pat’s view, my comment is based on their so called moral religious text.

      And based on my reading of the texts and the way the believers talk about it. My comment still stands.

      Their moral guide for islame-xtian-jew states kill the gay, kill the atheist, kill just about anyone you don’t like.

      Now I’m not close to any muslins but I do know a lot of xtians and although MANY CLAIM to be OK with gays they still made sure they did not have as many rights in government as the heteros. And I treat Alex’s ‘sources’ the same way. They may say one thing but what are the gay’s rights as compared to the norm. Hell I would consider it a positive if the xtians would let the gays alone in the USA, and that is likely to happen way before it does in the middle east or anywhere else islame has a political power hold. When the news story is ‘gay couple cheered at wedding by islamic neighbors’ is when I will give any belief in Alex’s ‘sources’.

      So as long a their MORAL CODE says ‘kill (insert bigotry)’, I don’t trust any believer.

    • says

      Huh? You admit you made a false generalization about Muslims, then simultaneously insist you stand by your false generalization? Then you make another false generalization, refuted by Gabriel (and which you admit was refuted by Gabriel), as if you still believe it’s true.

      You aren’t making any sense.

      When the news story is ‘gay couple cheered at wedding by islamic neighbors’ is when I will give any belief in Alex’s ‘sources’.

      If you actually knew some Muslims, you wouldn’t have to so foolishly wait for the news to decide that they want you to see an example of this.

      Or you could just stop being a dupe of American media and pay attention to the news in other countries for a change.

      You know, like this. Or this.

      But if you would bother to spend even one minute googling the matter, you’d have found examples even in our media. Like this. Or this.

      Will you recant now?

    • L.Long says

      OK I looked at your links and at BEST there are, like there are a few xtians, some islames that are better then their BS holey moral code book.

      But again I considered that Alex may have a point and I was not agreeing with PAT.

      I stated that THEIR MORAL CODE BOOK says ‘kill who you don’t like’ (paraphrased).
      And like jews and Xtians, I will not totally trust ANYTHING a muslin says as long as his morals are based in a book that says ‘kill -insert bigotry-‘. Because at best they PERSONALLY may act better then their BS book of morals, but as a group they are at best enablers of fanatics like the taliban.

  16. says

    Condell has done some very good stuff. Dawkins has done ooodles upon oodles of absolutely excellent stuff. Strongly praise what’s good, and criticize gently what you y’all in your godlike certainty regard as not so good.

    But you don’t, and you won’t. You do the opposite. You folks remind me of Christians.

    • says

      And Mussolini made the trains run on time.

      That someone spouts racist and ethnophobic bigotry and ignorance and exhibits a total failure to be accurate or informed or a good skeptic, and thus does real harm to the cause of secularism and promotes real harm being done to human beings, and exposes themselves as grossly unreliable in terms of thinking rationally and getting the facts right, cannot make them respectable just because occasionally they say something correct.

      You are the one acting like a Christian, attempting to excuse gross error, irrationality, harm, and ignorance with claims like “churches and mosques do so many nice things, too, why don’t you give them credit for that?”

  17. says

    According to a commentator, even in 2008 Condell ‘ talks of the “demographic profile” of muslims and the risk they will overwhelm us because of their breeding patterns’

    He got seriously owned in that link I gave from 2008, which showed him even then to be an anti-Islamic ranter.

  18. says

    That is indeed a great post! I must admit I was initially sucked into Condell’s vortex, many moons ago, but then, many moons ago he did say the odd sensible thing.

    One problem with the linked post, though, was this:

    “(The cutting of more than one human in ten’s penis, unlike the female version a near-universal practice, would surely rank among Islam’s most undesirable manifestations, but is demanded next to nowhere – indeed, very arguably proscribed – in the Qur’an. Every religion’s texts, conversely, bear long-forgotten commandments.) ”

    Now I admit, I had a little following the sentence structure on this one, but if the comment is trying to pin FGM to Islam, even whilst saying that it is only practiced in a few locations, it’s worth correcting this.

    FGM is traditionally practised almost exclusively in Africa, the exception being the Yemen (and obviously traditionalists that move to places like Britain and try to carry on the practice). The point being that in Africa, FGM is practised, in both majority Christian and majority Muslim countries, and in roughly equal numbers in both. It is likely a tradition stemming from North African culture, not Islam, and has been subsumed into local versions of both Islam and Christianity (in much the same way that Obeah and Christianity coexist, sometimes in individuals, in the Caribbean).

  19. culuriel says

    I had the exact same experience. After a while, he just forgot about other religions, or the problem with religion and superstition in general. His website became rant after rant about how the Muslims were coming for us all and why doesn’t anyone but him care? I’m surprised- he looks old enough to remember when the IRA was bombing Britain. Why he thinks terrorism or religious violence is a problem only in Islam is beyond me.

  20. says

    People should read Alex Gabriel’s excellent article and what it said about British Muslims.

    ‘While 32 percent did say killing in the name of religion could be justifiable, only 4 percent answered ‘Yes in order to preserve and promote that religion’ – i.e. the kind of violence that commonly makes headlines when fundamentalists plant bombs.’

    Just 4 per cent. Dwell on that figure. It is not even in the teens.

    And yet people like Condell claim that is a problem.

    4 per cent is fewer than one in 20.

    In fact, only one in 25 British Muslims think killing in the name of Islam to preserve and promote that religion is justifiable.

    What on earth is the problem with Condell? Can’t he do maths?

    Or does he not get as many as 25 people to his shows? :-)

    • says

      Well, I will correct you on one point: I do think that 4 percent is a problem. Rather, it’s being a problem does not justify blanket assertions that this sort of thing is true of all Muslims or even common among them, any more than if 4% of American Christians thought atheists should have their citizenship revoked would we be justified in condemning all Christians as fascists and traitors and a threat to American liberty.

  21. Matthew S. North says

    Well Richard, if you’re sure that Jerry Coyne is misinformed or buys into Condell’s hyperbole and since Coyne is a respected member of our community, when you have time, ( I know you’re busy.), why don’t you e-mail him or comment on his blog your thoughts and provide him with links to those Palestinian polls. I’d be interested in what he’d think about all of this. When I started watching Condell’s videos years ago I thought he was funny but he’s gotten progressively more cranky over the years.

  22. Cassanders says

    You and a suit of people you claim have pwned Condell due to (among other things ) his claim that muslims (in general) (sic) and in GB in particular, don’t approve homosexuality (and likely by the extention: homosexuals).

    To me it looks like a rather strange justification of your critique when you : a) try to reinterpret the particular british poll. and b) Simultaneously seems to disregard the larger international poll with results i would think are quite corroborating. http://www.pewglobal.org/2013/06/04/the-global-divide-on-homosexuality/

    Now if I in my raw data (I’m a biologist) had discoverd distributional patterns with this very clear patterns, I’d be quite excited. There are a number of rather obvious hypotheses that could be made and tested based on these data.

    Do you also think a statement like “Muslims in most parts of the world- both muslim majority countries and as diaspora populations, do not find homosexuality morally acceptable… Also in an undefensible generlalization?

    I agree that PC do a number of unjustified extrapolations and adds unwarranted “strengthening” adjectives to his claims,
    But I do not find your arguments WRT “genralization” very damaging.

    Cassanders
    Halfthe lies they tell about me are true
    S.Gorn’s Compendium of RarelyUsed Clichés

    • says

      You don’t seem to have a good grasp of English, so I am not sure you are making mistakes in communicating. But it doesn’t look like you read Gabriel’s piece or are interacting with any of Gabriel’s actual points.

  23. Kiljoy says

    I haven’t read all the above. I will say I have tended to think Condel makes some important contributions but I’m prepared to admit that maybe I’m allowing him to appeal too much to a way of thinking considerably more unhelpful than helpful.
    I’m not overly concerned for myself, I don’t make a point of following him, I can take or leave him.

    I know him mainly through the Theodore Dalrymple Forum. It would be interesting to see you (Richard) challenge some of their views on their own turf. I appreciate that’s very unlikely, you’re too busy doing more important things, of course; perhaps they’re too bigoted and beneath you.

    A problem here, among many, that you’d perhaps not disagree with, merely the manner in which it’s dealt with, is that people who cry ‘racist’ are too often framing an issue primarily concerned with culture and ideology as something far more genetic based, biologically determined, like skin colour, and therefore beyond the pale, racist. The sort of thing that leads to or begins in eugenic excesses.

    If it isn’t already obvious I consider myself much more of a conservative persuasion. For instance, if you take the Point of View interview of Steven Pinker, about thirty minutes in I think, Pinker says he’s something of a traitor to his generation. I’ll grant him some integrity on this but I think it would have been far more honest to say he, at least on the issue of increased crime in the 60’s etc, is a traitor to the left liberal mindset.

    With Big Data I think more and more evidence, the sort of evidence that ‘left’ inclined are obsessed with, (left brained, ref McGilchrist) will reveal much more of the sort of findings that Pinker somewhat reluctantly had to concede.

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