Defending Dawkins (UPDATED)


For those that aren’t aware, Richard Dawkins edited some kind of compendium of science writing recently published by Oxford University Press. Out of 80-something pieces included in the anthology, only two or three (depending how you count) were written by women.

Not surprisingly, Dawkins was called out on his abysmally biased and exclusionary editing job by a number of bloggers, including, inter alia, Sheril Kirshenbaum, Tara Smith, and DoucheMonkey.

Somewhat surprisingly, Dawkins showed up at Sheril’s to defend his shitty job of editing:

It is not an anthology of “science writing”…[but] a collection of writing by good scientists, many of them dead and very distinguished. I am not one of those who thinks men are genetically better equipped than women to become distinguished scientists. Presumably for other reasons, it is a regrettable fact that the great majority of distinguished scientists of the past 100 years, as measured by Nobel Prizes, Fellowships of the Royal Society, numbers of science publications, etc, have been male. That imbalance, and not an imbalance in my preference or my choice, is what is reflected in the anthology.

This is so woefully deficient and so transparently apologetic for his own white-d00d privilege, that I won’t say any more other than that it is a shame that Dawkins wasn’t willing to sack the fuck up and admit he blew it.

What is less surprising–and much more sadly hilarious–is that numerous rational skeptic d00d Dawkins fanbois came out of the woodwork to nuzzle up to his warm hairy sack and defend their hero. This is an example representative of the intellectual and moral rigor of their defenses:

I don’t see any books there written about the best articles by women scientists by Sheril Kirshenbaum. That was clearly my point. If she wants a book about the best articles by women scientists, why is she waiting/demanding Dawkins produce it like some sort of White Knight come to save her?

This is, of course, 100% hypocritical bullshit, rational skeptic d00d. No one is waiting for or demanding that Dawkins do anything. They are simply criticizing him on the merits for what he did. They are saying that his choice of articles was intellectually lazy and biased.

Isn’t criticizing others for their intellectual errors what you rational skeptic d00ds spend all day doing? You are all about criticizing the cherry-picking, confirmation biases, and other rhetorical antics of your perceived adversaries.

But when it comes to criticism of the intellectual celebrities you consider to be on your side, you turn into a bunch of credulous children swooning over the latest teen idol on the cover of Tiger Beat. Quit acting like hero-worshipping children, and apply the same rational skeptic d00d standards to yourselves and your heroes as you do to everyone else. It’s fucking embarrassing already.

UPDATE: If you think that this has anyfuckingthing to do with whether Dawkins “is sexist/misogynist”, then you are a motherfucking moron. This has nothing to do with Dawkins’s internal mental state, and has nothing to do with Dawkins’s qualities as a human being.

Comments

  1. Anonymous says

    When can we expect you to “sack the fuck up and admit [you] blew it” about your policy requiring students to schedule appointments with you by phone? I believe one commentor already called you out on your “abysmally biased and exclusionary” teaching policy and how it is a barrier to hearing-impaired students seeking equal educational opportunity. Are you as unwilling to examine your hearing-d00d privilege as Dawkins is to examine his white-d00d privilege?

  2. The Barefoot Bum says

    Criticism is not disloyalty (or if it is, it’s the kind of disloyalty we ought to tolerate), a principle liberals, atheists and socialists sometimes seem almost as slow to grasp as Republicans.

  3. Romano says

    what the fuck? have you even read the anthology yet, or did you just scan the authors to get an approximate M/F ratio, and this not being 1:1 you threw a shitfit? though 2/80 is pretty miserable, why must we ignore. what the hell do you expect him to do, collect works based on whether the author has a dick or a vagina between their legs, or based on good work? “but the latter is influenced by teh former”, yeah, sure, i’m well aware of the modern studies showing how much less seriously female scientific publications are taken by male colleagues. but the anthology is based on publication volume; if this reflects a (more) sexist past, then so be it. that’s the way things were. i think we all understand that and aren’t dumb enough to confuse it with its legitimacy.

  4. says

    @Anonymous concern troll,
    nowhere did CPP say that he wasn’t willing to make an exception, if a student was physically unable to use the phone.

    Speaking of concern trolling.
    The Dawkins debacle reminds me of how he defended Bill Maher.
    Somehow skeptical dOOds always mention that religion is bad, because -ZOMG!- it oppresses women, but when atheists (or in Maher’s case pseudo-atheists) are misogynists that’s okay, because they criticize religion, which automatically makes them one of the good guys.

  5. says

    Romano misses the point: … if this reflects a (more) sexist past, then so be it. that’s the way things were.

    And the anthology propagates this sexist past, since it’s published in the here and now.

  6. Whitish-dood says

    What does him being white have to do with it? And since you felt like complaining, tell us which women scientist you feel were unfairly omitted. Otherwise your rant will seem like irrational, biased cherry picking.

  7. Sean says

    I love being a white dood biology student. My email is full of nice scholarships I cannot apply for as I am male, but that is ok, because only 65 percent of the students are female. I just show people my white dude card when I want to do things like pay rent or tuition. Ah, being the oppressor is great!

  8. Sean says

    I find folks who try to pass themselves off as paragons of politically-correct virtue insufferable. I often see it as another form of marginalizing an outgroup by intellectual bullies.

    Anyway, maybe my post was off topic. Too bad Dawkins had an gender-unbalanced(?) book. Not really seeing how much I should care.

  9. Diane G says

    “But when it comes to criticism of the intellectual celebrities you consider to be on your side, you turn into a bunch of credulous children swooning over the latest teen idol on the cover of Tiger Beat. Quit acting like hero-worshipping children, and apply the same rational skeptic d00d standards to yourselves and your heroes as you do to everyone else. It’s fucking embarrassing already.”

    Hear, hear.

    There’s also the slight matter of the “intellectual celebrities” seldom brooking skepticism of each other…

  10. Katharine says

    “I love being a white dood biology student. My email is full of nice scholarships I cannot apply for as I am male, but that is ok, because only 65 percent of the students are female. I just show people my white dude card when I want to do things like pay rent or tuition. Ah, being the oppressor is great!”

    ‘Cause maybe you’re not the person who had to fight long and hard to get the vote or the person who got sexually harassed by a labmate or the person who got called ‘little woman’ or something equally ridiculous by a colleague. When’s the last time you were the target of some form of racism, sexism, or homophobia?

    Fuck you, asshole. Get off the waaaaahmbulance and recognize that these scholarships aren’t going to be able to go away until prejudice does.

  11. Katharine says

    There are white guys who are not assholes. Case in point: my best friend who lives in Romania. He is quite white and straight, and he is also (though he for some reason is reticent to use the label, maybe it’s the fact that he’s a bit underinformed about the complex history of feminism) feminist and non-racist and non-homophobic.

    And then there are white guys who are assholes, such as the KKK and other various fundie pieces of shit (and to a lesser extent Bill Maher, that Sean moron upthread, and possibly Ed Brayton).

  12. Katharine says

    Although Bill Maher is as much of an asshole as the fundies when you account for his other shit.

  13. Sean says

    Boo hoo, I’m an asshole! I was obviously hurling around insults all over the place. Yep, that makes me an asshole I guess!

  14. Sean says

    And I am a moron too! What could you call me next, a gimp? What about a cripple? Go on K, choose one!

  15. The Barefoot Bum says

    Sean: Yes, you are an asshole. One characteristic of assholes is that they’re generally clueless, and don’t realize they’re assholes.

    And yes, you are a moron, a cretin, an idiot, and a retard.

    Basically, we’re saying that nice, sensible intelligent people don’t like you. Sadly, it’s another characteristic of assholes is that they don’t care that nice people don’t like them. They usually care only whether powerful people like them.

    Why don’t you leave the sensible people along and go hang out with your jock buddies and gang-rape a stripper.

  16. Sean says

    Wow, you people make a lot of assumptions as well as use pejorative language for the differently-abled.

  17. says

    It is quite obvious that Dawkins fucked up, but the real outrage is how he chose to defend himself. Of course, whenever the d00dly feel threatened they repeat teh same tired argument. Which is to blame “affirmative action” of course.” I had tried to remain cool up to this point. Now it is obvious- the man is asking to have his ass handed to him.

    Isn’t ironic that, when called out on disregard for women’s achievements, his immediate response is to blabber on about “would you chose the the less-qualified woman?!”

    Anyway, you did well in debating him. Thank you.

    I am not sure this was necessary though-
    “to nuzzle up to his warm hairy sack”

  18. Katharine says

    You remind me a lot of my mother – her world seems to be largely concerned with herself and to some extent she either can’t or won’t dredge up the ability to empathize at least for a moment with others and realize that, yeah, some groups have got it shitty – except you’re actually an outright asshole instead of just being apparently slow on the uptake to understand these things.

  19. Katharine says

    Sean, the difference between morons and ‘gimps’ and ‘cripples’ is that ‘gimps’ and ‘cripples’ actually can make contributions of worth to society.

  20. Sean says

    I am wondering why some of you folks get so angry and hostile, when my comment could fairly be regarded as trolling (as it was off-topic). Pretty strange. Especially from long-established bloggers. You should know better.
    In any case, I have no problem with funding or programs to increase female participation in science. it is probably a good thing. At my institution there seems to be no lack of female representation in the student body at least (majority female), but at the faculty level there is definitely a lack of representation. It is just that from my perspective, there is virtually nothing to go around (at least at my school), and I get frustrated when the only scholarship notices I get in my email are ones I am excluded from because of my sex. That is really all there was to my comment.
    Sorry you got offended. Thanks for the name calling.

  21. Sean says

    And sorry, Katherine, but “moron” is actually a pejorative for someone with a mental handicap. It was actually used as a clinical term at one time. That was my only point there.

  22. Katharine says

    So your reaction, when you get these scholarship notices in your email – notices for scholarships that exist for a precise reason – is to go ‘WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH THEY’RE NOT FOR ME’?

    There are plenty of other scholarships out there, ninny. Go apply for them.

  23. Katharine says

    Regarding the ‘moron’ thing, dude, somehow I suspect you’re just saying that to be a hyperbolic dick.

  24. says

    I am pretty sure only grumpy psychologists ever used the word “moron” in regards to mental disability. Not too sure about that one.

    As far as scholarships go, everyone is getting the ass end of things right now. Except the rich people. Too bad.

    You just don’t seem to understand WHY these scholarships exist. The assflavor-of-the-month answer is that the government is making up for past discriminations. LOL@REPARATIONS. Do people really think our government is that considerate?

    NO. The reason for scholarships, grants, loans, and all that jazz offered specifically to women and nonwhites is CURRENT discrimination. All the usual funds are essentially tailored for you, must claim everything else too?

    In other words, as in whetdood speak, the government has to pay the fucking institutions to accept nonwhite dudes because greedy/ignorant people don’t seem to do so otherwise! So before you scream “unfair!”, think about who is actually causing the problem. Hmmmm…heterosexual nonwhite dudes.

    Shit.

  25. says

    So your reaction, when you get these scholarship notices in your email – notices for scholarships that exist for a precise reason – is to go ‘WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH THEY’RE NOT FOR ME’?

    There are plenty of other scholarships out there, ninny. Go apply for them.

    I suspect that Sean is annoyed by these in precisely the same way that you would be annoyed if or when you get lots of notices for scholarships that are open only to men.

    Privileged or not, I can tell you from personal experience that white men are subject to the same range of normal human emotions as all other people are.

  26. Nuspirit says

    “I demand an anthology be made of the greatest 100 meter sprint runners of the last 5 decades. I furthermore demand that white runners must be demographically represented.”

    Can someone explain to me where the above goes wrong but the criticism against Dawkins don’t?

  27. Sean says

    Stop trying to make sense Chris Osborn! You are making my task as secret agent of the patriarchy too difficult! I prefer if you would stick to name-calling.
    I don’t really disagree with anybody here, I suppose I just like pushing buttons. I guess I must be pretty skilled at it to generate such heated commentary.
    Anyway, have fun folks. Sorry to derail the conversation about the Dawkins book.

  28. says

    “I demand an anthology be made of the greatest 100 meter sprint runners of the last 5 decades. I furthermore demand that white runners must be demographically represented.”

    Can someone explain to me where the above goes wrong but the criticism against Dawkins don’t?”

    1) Given that nearly 40% of the Gold medalists for the 100 m in the last 50 yrs were white, I don’t think they need much “affirmative action” on that score. Now, if someone brought out an anthology of Gold medalists that mentioned only black winners and Allan Wells, would you find that acceptable, or a little odd?

    2) I can’t recall a moment in history has a winning white sprinter was forced to stand aside an allow his black colleagues to take all the medals home. There is no talk of “affirmative action” needed here. It’s about recognising that women have already made a significant contribution to science, and that some of them have already written about it in non-technical publications.

    3) Sports makes a lousy metaphor for gender differences in academia. The brain is not a muscle, and the gift of critical rationalism is not dependent on a fast serve.

  29. mat says

    Privileged or not, I can tell you from personal experience that white men are subject to the same range of normal human emotions as all other people are.

    Sure, but they are severely lacking in the perspective of others not like themselves. More so than any other group on average.

  30. says

    “Given that nearly 40% of the Gold medalists for the 100 m in the last 50 yrs were white”

    My bad. It’s 50% if you take into account that Carl Lewis won it twice.

    Crikey, that was a stinking metaphor, wasn’t it?

  31. says

    A number of terms that get thrown around today–moron, imbecile, idiot, and, most egregiously, retard–were once used as ways to classify people with developmental disabilities, particularly mental retardation. (Personally, I avoid “retard” in my name-calling behavior for just that reason, though I’d argue that the others have lost their former associations. I generally prefer “asshole,” as everyone has one, i.e., it doesn’t have sexist overtones, either.)

    As for the comparison to the 100m dash: are you serious? Really? You can’t tell the difference between a contest where some (more or less) unambiguously crosses a finish line first and a situation wherein individuals in a (privileged) group decide what will be published in various publications and end up being more likely to pick things written by others in their group?

  32. Nuspirit says

    “Given that nearly 40% of the Gold medalists for the 100 m in the last 50 yrs were white

    My bad. It’s 50% if you take into account that Carl Lewis won it twice.”

    How exactly is 3 out 12 (and that’s accounting for Lewis winning twice) 50%? Does race equality, in addition to gender equality, trump history now? Guess that’s logically coherent at least.

    If only I had thought of picking the last 2 decades, I could’ve come up with 100% black winners. Woe is me.

    “Sports makes a lousy metaphor for gender differences in academia. The brain is not a muscle, and the gift of critical rationalism is not dependent on a fast serve.”

    So what you wanna talk about chess world champions instead?

    “It’s about recognizing that women have already made a significant contribution to science, and that some of them have already written about it in non-technical publications.”

    It’s about recognizing have already blahblah.

    Special pleading and hand-waving is all I’m getting from this or any other blog on this topic.

  33. Nuspirit says

    “As for the comparison to the 100m dash: are you serious? Really? You can’t tell the difference between a contest where some (more or less) unambiguously crosses a finish line first and a situation wherein individuals in a (privileged) group decide what will be published in various publications and end up being more likely to pick things written by others in their group?”

    So what Dawkins is responsible for all THAT now? Or is it merely that his opinion of what constitutes a great contribution to science writing differs from yours?

    I’m still waiting for something better than

    “Women, and don’t dare mention other demographics cause this doesn’t apply to them, should have been more represented in science writing, and don’t dare mention other disciplines because this doesn’t apply to them, well I can’t think of a good reason so I’ll just go with BECAUSE”.

  34. insanityisfun says

    I’m still waiting for a reply to DrugMonkey’s request for some of these poor, unjustly omitted female scientists…

  35. says

    I think you must be confusing me with someone else holmes. I’m capable of following the multi-blog conversation. There have been many suggestions. I notice the assklown response is to pretend they have not been offered or to say “yeah but…we need moarz, we need specifikz..”

    keep up your repetitive bleating by all means, it illustrates your true motivation better than any critic could

  36. Nuspirit says

    “It’s fucking embarrassing already.”

    Good thing you basically beat everyone to it so you can speak from a position of some authority.

  37. Katharine says

    “Stop trying to make sense Chris Osborn! You are making my task as secret agent of the patriarchy too difficult! I prefer if you would stick to name-calling.
    I don’t really disagree with anybody here, I suppose I just like pushing buttons. I guess I must be pretty skilled at it to generate such heated commentary.
    Anyway, have fun folks. Sorry to derail the conversation about the Dawkins book.”

    Beat it if you can’t argue honestly, asshole. You might not be a sexist or racist, but you’re an immature piece of shit.

  38. Katharine says

    “I suspect that Sean is annoyed by these in precisely the same way that you would be annoyed if or when you get lots of notices for scholarships that are open only to men.

    Privileged or not, I can tell you from personal experience that white men are subject to the same range of normal human emotions as all other people are.”

    I’m a straight white atheist girl. Does that mean I get pissed off when I see scholarships for ethnic minorities or gay people? No. I’m not an insecure little turd and I know why those scholarships exist.

  39. Katharine says

    I’m a straight white atheist WOMAN. I just egregiously committed one of the things I’m beginning to hate: calling adult men ‘boys’ or adult women ‘girls’.

  40. says

    WTF? Try to keep up. Someone upthread said, oh, the 100-yard-dash is a good comparison, and I (and others) were saying, well, no, it’s not a good comparison, for these reasons. It’s not a comment on Dawkins, it’s a comment on the original comment that tried to negate Dawkins’ assholery by saying that choosing the Best Science Writing is as unambiguous as who crosses a finish line first.

    Drugmonkey, yes, I completely agree that access to training resources is relevant to the conversation, especially if we’re broadening the considerations. In general, the people who own the balls get to decide who gets to play.

  41. Isabel says

    “FYI, “retard” is not a welcome epithet at this blog.”

    But feel free to mock poor white people all you want. PP finds this hilarious! After all they’re white, and we all know class privilege does not exist.

    Hint: references to “trailers” will be especially welcome.

    Oh Pee Pee, you are so evolved, so sensitive! So..so…so…superior? Yes! That’s it!

  42. Isabel says

    Pretty pathetic response. That’s the best you can do?

    After all, aren’t we ALL ABOUT examining our privileges here?

    Exactly how does mocking those less privileged fit in to that philosophy?

    Isn’t Comrade your first name?

    As a first step to actually earning that moniker you might want to fill out the privilege meme.

    Then I can suggest some readings for you. After all, so many people here have been so kind offering suggestions for me. I just want to give back.

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