Adam Lee thinks Dawkins needs better defenders.
This week, I published a column in the Guardian arguing that Richard Dawkins’ sexism is overshadowing his contributions to the atheist movement. It got, shall we say, a large reaction. But not all negative, I hasten to add! I was very pleased with the amount of praise and compliments it attracted – I heard from a lot of people who told me that I said exactly what they’ve been thinking (including this piece by Allegra Ringo in Vice, published the same day as mine).
Because believe it or not, Jerry & Russell & Michael & the rest of the gang, we are not the only ones who are noticing Dawkins’s Twitter freakouts, and he’s not actually doing a fabulous job of PR for atheism right now. You clearly want to think it’s all just an attempt to grab the throne for ourselves or some such damn fool thing, but it’s not. I, for instance, would like a much less sexist atheist movement. I have zero hope of getting it at this point, but that’s what I want.
Calling Adam a liar, for instance – not great PR.
@LvAryaSta But why do you believe that liar in the Guardian? Isn’t it obvious that what he says is false?
Obvious? No. Not obvious at all. Hidden.
Note, it’s not just that he disagrees with my criticism – he thinks I’m lying, as in deliberately setting out to deceive. This, unfortunately, is of a piece with Dawkins’ recent pattern of assuming bad faith on the part of any atheist who criticizes him (“clickbait for profit”), and acting as if this means the criticism itself doesn’t need to be answered. (“Isn’t it obvious?” After all this time, he can’t even comprehend why people might object to anything he says. I think this post on Underverse offers an excellent explanation of why that is.)
Since everything in my Guardian piece was based on public statements that Dawkins has made, if I’m lying or misrepresenting anything he’s said, it ought to be very easy to prove. Just cite a claim that I attributed to Dawkins, then point to the corresponding place in his public record to show that what he actually said was the opposite. For a rational community like us, that should be a simple task.
Has anyone done it yet? Not that I’ve seen. Just Coyne calling Adam pathetic.
The evening it went up, I heard from Miranda Celeste Hale, who I gather is a friend of Dawkins. She expressed surprise that the Guardian published my piece at all (shock, horror, an atheist Thought Leader is being criticized!), and repeatedly accused me of dishonesty. Was she able to substantiate that charge? Judge for yourself:
There follows a Storify, in which Adam keeps asking for examples, and Miranda keeps saying “you were dishonest!!” over and over. It’s pretty funny.
UPDATE: Another defender of Dawkins joins in: Jerry Coyne, author of Why Evolution is True. He’s none too pleased with my article, although, yet again, he declines to specify exactly what about it is false: “I won’t bother to dissect it in detail”. I posted a comment in reply.
Here’s how it starts:
Well, this is unexpected. I remember when we met up for dinner in Chicago in 2011 – I still appreciate the hospitality you showed me and my wife in giving us a guided tour of the U of Chicago campus. I guess I shouldn’t expect a callback if I return to Chicago any time soon?
You disagree pretty strongly with my article, that’s obvious. Fair enough. But you know what I noticed? You’re not the first critic who said I’m a terrible person for writing it, but who declined to say in any detail which parts of it are false (“I won’t bother to dissect it in detail”). Richard Dawkins himself accused me of lying, but wouldn’t or couldn’t say what specifically he thought the lie was.
Because it’s “obvious”…