I was just looking at Peter Boghossian’s website. On the About page there’s a collection of comments about his book A Manual for Atheists. I’ll just help him plug the book.

Commentary and Reviews

“Peter Boghossian’s techniques of friendly persuasion are not mine, and maybe I’d be more effective if they were. They are undoubtedly very persuasive–and very much needed.”
–Richard Dawkins

“If I started reading A Manual for Creating Atheists as a Christian I would have been an atheist by the time I finished it. Peter Boghossian’s book is the perfect companion to Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion. They should be bundled like an atheist software package to reprogram minds into employing reason instead of faith, science instead of superstition.”
–Michael Shermer

“Dr. Peter Boghossian’s ‘A Manual for Creating Atheists’ is a precise, passionate, compassionate and brilliantly reasoned work that will illuminate any and all minds capable of openness and curiosity. This is not a bedtime story to help you fall asleep, but a wakeup call that has the best chance of bringing your rational mind back to life.”
–Stefan Molyneux, host of Freedomain Radio, the largest and most popular philosophy show on the web

“A ‘how to’ book for the ages. Boghossian manages to take a library’s worth of information and mold it into a concise and practical tome to guide through the murky waters of magical thinking, docking the reader safely on the shores of reason, logic and understanding. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, and highly recommend it.”
–Al Stefanelli, author of A Voice of Reason In An Unreasonable Word-The Rise of Atheism On Planet Earth and Free Thoughts-A Collection Of Essays By An American Atheist

“This is a manual that we can use in our everyday interaction with those infected by the faith virus. The skills and concepts are both practical and learnable. As the founder and Chairman of the Board of, I recommend that all of our facilitators and leaders not only read and share this book, but actually learn how to use the questioning and dialogue techniques Dr. Boghossian illustrates. It will help you avoid common mistakes and give greater value to the conversations you have with the religious.”
–Darrel Ray, Ed.D., author of The God Virus, & Sex and God

“There is nothing else on the market like this book that helps atheists talk believers out of their faith. Every atheist interested in doing so, or who talks to believers about faith at all, should read it. It’s both needed and brilliant!”
–John W. Loftus, author of Why I Became an Atheist and The Outsider Test for Faith

“Boghossian has provided an indispensable chart book for all of us who must navigate the rising sea of magical thinking that is inundating America today.”
–Victor Stenger, Ph.D., author of God: The Failed Hypothesis and God and the Atom

“If we want to live in world that is safer and more rational for all, then this is the guidebook we have been waiting for. Relying on extensive experience and a deep concern for humanity, Peter Boghossian has produced a game changer. This is not a book to read while relaxing in a hammock on a sunny afternoon. This is the how-to manual to take into the trenches of everyday life where minds are won and lost in the struggle between reason and madness.”
–Guy P. Harrison, author of 50 Simple Questions for Every Christian and Race and Reality

“After the Four Horsemen comes the infantry—the army of evangelical rationalists making the world safe from faith. Boghossian’s book is both clarion call and roadmap for these heroic new battalions. Onward atheist soldiers!”
–Tim van Gelder, Ph.D., Principal, Austhink Consulting, Principal Fellow, University of Melbourne, Eureka Prizewinner for Critical Thinking

“Since atheism is truly Good News, it should not be hidden under a bushel. Peter Boghossian shows us how to take it to the highways and the byways. I love it!”
–Dan Barker, Co-President of the Freedom From Religion Foundation

“I predict that within one week of the publication of this book it will be banned in at least 20 countries.”
–Kevin Boileau, Ph.D., author of Essays on Phenomenology and the Self

“A book so great you can skip it and just read the footnotes. Pure genius.”
–Christopher Johnson, co-founder, The Onion

“I was so impressed by your book, and have been using the techniques every time I go out against the street preachers on a Friday or Saturday night with my atheist group. The fact is, it’s perfect. It’s simple, and (most importantly) accessible. The same techniques you outline can be used in all walks of life, also, for social justice issues, to boardroom negotiations. Your book does what no other atheist/skeptic book has done in the past, it gives you somewhere to go to after you’ve read everything and said, “well, that was fascinating, where the hell do I go to now?” It works. It really does.”
—Jake Farr-Wharton, author of Letters to Christian Leaders: Hollow Be Thy Claims, and host of The Imaginary Friends Show

“A brave, clear book, crammed with useful insights. Boghossian’s call for honest, evidence-based thinking has implications far beyond its focus on debates about God and religious faith. A Manual for Creating Atheists is a strong challenge to ideology and propaganda, wherever we find them.”
—Russell Blackford, Ph.D, author Freedom of Religion and the Secular State; co-author 50 Great Myths About Atheism

“Up to now, most atheists have simply criticized religion in various ways, but the point is to dispel it. In A Manual For Creating Atheists, Peter Boghossian fills that gap, telling the reader how to become a “street epistemologist” with the skills to attack religion at its weakest point: its reliance on faith rather than evidence. This book is essential for nonbelievers who want to do more than just carp about religion, but want to weaken its odious grasp on the world.”
—Jerry Coyne, Ph.D, author of Why Evolution is True

“Excellent application of science, philosophy, and strategy for breaking through ideological and psychological barriers to freethought, all in terms anyone can understand and apply. Delightfully novel and controversial, this is the kind of thing I’ve long wanted and we need more of: bringing practical philosophy to the common man and woman.”
—Richard Carrier, Ph.D., author of Sense and Goodness without God

“This book is a feisty, tough-minded attempt to undo what the author sees as the profound damage done to society by faith. There is something here that lots of people are likely to get angry about: Liberals, academics, feminists, psychologists, politicians, progressives, and libertarians—and everybody in between. The book is a Molotov cocktail of ideas, arguments, policy proposals, thought experiments, encouragements, and denunciations.”
—Steven Brutus, Ph.D., author of Religion, Culture, and History: A Philosophical Study of Religion

That’s 17 endorsements! Not too shabby, is it.


  1. chrislawson says

    Steven Brutus? That is one cool name. I haven’t heard of him before. Should I have?

  2. John Morales says

    I’ve been an atheist for a looooong time, and I hardly need a manual to be one.

    (Nor do I think much of so-called “self-help” books)

  3. John Morales says

    We are?

    (I did notice the Onion as a reviewer, but all I’m going by is the post itself)

  4. says

    As simple as that.

    You actually have to go to some trouble to get seventeen men and not one woman. Notice Dan Barker and not Annie Laurie Gaylor, for instance.

    A philosophy conference that had seventeen men and not one woman would be in deep shit.

  5. tonyinbatavia says

    Peter Boghossian drives me nuts. I heard him on a couple podcasts and couldn’t help but notice that he really, truly, honestly believes that he’s doing atheism a great favor by deigning to lend his enormous intellect to our movement.

    Seriously. That’s the way he sees it.

    After another year or two wading in the muck with us, trying to elevate us beyond all the things we are currently mired in, he’s planning to move on to some other venture that needs his brain and do them the great service of doing the important thinking for them for a while. Then I suppose he’ll move on from there.

    He is massively, massively impressed with himself and has no patience for all the little thinkers in our movement. I’m not at all surprised that he would find the idea that he should actually include a few words from women to be tiresome and too lowly for him to think about.

  6. says

    The book itself (the correct title is, I think, “A Manual for Creating Atheists”) has its points, although it does suffer somewhat from the sorta self-promoting condescension that tonyinbatavia@14 notes. Boghossian believes that it’s useful and worthwhile to try to convert people to atheism, if you’re willing and able to take the associated social risks, and he discusses the pitfalls of direct approaches and suggests some alternative strategies that may be more effective. I’m not sure that these ideas are original to him, but he’s offering the first comprehensive discussion of them (although definitely not a flawless one) that I’ve seen in the context of atheism, and that’s worth something, I think.

    As for the 17/0 split of the reviewers (not to mention some of the specific names on the list), well, that’s a bit more problematic. Maybe it was an oversight on his part, maybe his publisher did it and he had no say, maybe, maybe, maybe. There’s always a laundry list of possible excuses. But for me the most important question is whether he’ll be properly embarrassed about it now that it’s been pointed out and endeavor to correct it the next time around, or whether he’ll be dismissive and/or hostile. I hope he chooses wisely.

    However, even more than this, what I would *really* like to know (in a sort of nosy, gossipy way) is how Boghossian got himself kicked out of the UNM philosophy program. He always sorta brags about it in his self-description blurbs but never gives details anywhere that I’ve seen, and the story also doesn’t seem to be available online anywhere obvious. From my own experience with graduate programs, it seems to me there’s gotta be something juicy going on if you manage to actually explicitly get yourself kicked out, as opposed to just having your funding dry up with everybody kind of shrugging their shoulders instead of helping you. If it was ideological persecution, as the bragging seems to imply, it surprises me a little that he doesn’t tell the whole story. And if it’s something else, then I’m not sure why he brags about it…

  7. Lee delay says

    Bogossian drives me up a wall. >_> I couldn’t stand dealing with him when I was on the local cfi board and he (rather condescendingly) offered me a reference after I worked on one of his talks that cfi hosted. Mind you I’d talked to him for about 5 min before the meeting he made that offer but clearly he knew me well enough for that (/sarcasm?) I had been running atheist and skeptical groups for about 3 years by this point and his offer was made in the tone (and nearly the words) of “oh hey I’m a rising star if atheism clearly I’ll help you if you promote me” it pissed me off greatly. That and the fact that he essentially attempted to take over the board meeting that we had him a guest at to hash out the details of his talk. One of those moments where you can’t help but pause and stare at someone’s sheer audacity. I remember thinking when he talked over the (female) president for the umpteenth time that he was exactly everything that pisses me off about male privilege.

    Do I give a shit that he’s doing everything he can to make money being a public atheist? No. Do I give a shit about his book? Not really. Am I surprised that his book blurbs are all male? (Wait for it) nope.

    He had a female protégée when I was at school, she was exactly what one would expect. Brash, outspoken and very much so a chill girl. We didn’t get along after I had to ask her multiple times our first meeting to not use the r word for things she didn’t like. We could deal with each other professionally but beyond that, notsomuch. Just like I did with her mentor really. The more bogossian comes up in the wider atheist blogosphere the more uncomfortable I get. All I can think is “oh great, another one of them” the cookie cutter public atheist that completely glosses over the rest of us that aren’t in his mold is totally what we need more of. >_> right.

  8. aziraphale says

    Randal Rauser has a long multi-part review of the book ending at which points out a number of (in my view) serious problems.

    For example, Boghossian writes “This section will unpack the two primary reasons for this appearance of failure: either (1) an interlocutor’s brain is neurologically damaged, or (2) you’re actually succeeding.”

    Really? If your patented method for creating atheists doesn’t work, your first thought is that your opponent is brain-damaged? Unbelievable arrogance, and, I’m afraid, typical of the man. It worries me that he got so many endorsements.

  9. yazikus says

    Wow. That is one very special who’s who list of endorsements. I always wonder how something like that makes it past how many editors(?) with no one noticing anything wrong. Amazing.

  10. yazikus says

    I can just hear the excuse, “It is not my fault all the important atheists are men!”

  11. Anne C. Hanna says

    The quote that aziraphale@18 shared is a pretty good example of the problems with the book, specifically that Boghossian doesn’t seem to bother with certain very important details of the communicator’s craft — things like sensitivity, nuance, and not doing splash damage. To be somewhat fair to Boghossian, Rauser, in pulling that quote, is also following *his* usual schtick of quote-mining for excuses to be offended and focusing on semantics rather than content, all in the service of disrupting challenges to his particular flavor of Christianity by any means necessary. So he’s contributed to the problem here by stripping off all the context(*) that would clarify the actual point of those lines and make them at least somewhat more understandable, albeit not less offensively expressed.

    Rauser’s review is also flawed in that he seems to have missed the entire point of the book, and even the point of some of the quotes he pulls. He says things like, “The first problem is that Boghossian seems to have no awareness of the fact that people don’t change their core beliefs quickly,” which is completely at odds with Boghossian’s clearly explicated stance throughout the book that you probably will not get someone to change their mind all at once. And of course, it’s also at odds with the very quote that we’re discussing here, which was highlighted by Rauser himself.

    Anyway, I don’t want to defend Boghossian from charges of being a pompous jerk, because he does kind of come off as one in the book, in ways that also mesh rather well with the experiences Lee delay describes @17. And then of course there’s the review blurb issue. But, as I said above, I do think he makes some valuable points in the book that I haven’t seen made and connected to each other so explicitly elsewhere in modern atheism.

    In particular, I like that he encourages atheists to try to learn how to proactively disrupt others’ confidence in false and harmful beliefs, and how to do so in the context of everyday interactions rather than only in books and debates. He also assembles at least the germs of some useful strategies for doing so, and encourages the confidence necessary to practice and eventually perfect one’s skills in this area. It’s probably not for everyone, but I think it’s worth exploring for those who are willing and able, and it’s something I’d like to see talked about more. Boghossian is also clearly not the best role model for good usage of these skills himself, but I’d hate to see the useful parts of what he says entirely disregarded just because he presents them badly.

    (*) The context is a discussion of how to disrupt somebody’s ill-founded confidence in an incorrect belief. The point Boghossian’s trying to make is that even when you’ve succeeded in doing so, often it’s not going to look like it right away, because many people will have a defensive reaction that will look very similar to them being unconvinced, but that defensive reaction often conceals the beginnings a more long-term shift that can be sustained if you don’t give up on them. With the full context, it’s pretty apparent that the comment about “neurological damage” is a maybe-sort-of-jokey attempt to account for the possibility that a minority of people may have unusual reactions. The maybe-sort-of-jokeyness does not, of course, prevent the comment from being both inaccurate and offensive.

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