Can it be true?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then I said no, we shouldn’t, so neither should he.

Ophelia Benson ‏@OpheliaBenson
.@RichardDawkins In other words, no. We don’t “fake” anything. That’s a ridiculous & unworthy accusation.

I guess I should have included another item in the joint statement.

Disagreement is inevitable, but bullying and harassment are not. If we want secularism and atheism to gain respect, we have to be able to disagree with each other without trying to destroy each other.

In other words we have to be able to manage disagreement ethically, like reasonable adults, as opposed to brawling like enraged children who need a nap. It should go without saying, but this means no death threats, rape threats, attacks on people’s appearance, age, race, sex, size, haircut; no photoshopping people into demeaning images, no vulgar epithets.

I should have added “no invidious surmises about hidden motivations without a very good reason.”

Dawkins has no good reason to surmise and then announce (or pretend to “ask if”) we have corrupt motivations. None. It makes no more sense to assume we’re “faking outrage” about sexist claims about women than it does to assume he’s “faking outrage” about theism and godbothering.

Stephanie has his worst tweets over the last few hours in a post.

This is probably the prize-winner:

Richard Dawkins ✔ @RichardDawkins

Follow @CHSommers. You may not agree with her but she’s brave, & the Feedingfrenzy Thoughtpolice Bullies have got away with it for too long.
12:28 AM – 16 Sep 2014

Got away with what? Disputing our betters?

They really do think we’re lèsing their majesté.


  1. screechymonkey says

    “And we would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for those meddling Brave Heroes!”

  2. Anthony K says

    Reposting from the previous thread:

    In PZ’s “Richard Dawkins: The Wrongering” thread, kesara (comment 170) linked to this post of Stephanie Zvan’s:
    Here are the tweets she links to. (Not sure how to embed tweets, but they’re there on Stephanie’s post).

    I’m told Adblock stops websites earning money from ads: thwarts bloggers winding up controversy for sole purpose of raising hitcounts. True?
    August 23, 2012 3:26 pm via webReplyRetweetFavorite

    Boycott websites that deliberately wind up false controversy in order to generate advertising revenue
    August 23, 2012 3:37 pm via webReplyRetweetFavorite

    Greta Christina gave data suggesting controversy doesn’t drive blog traffic, in which case boycott pointless, intuition wrong – as often
    August 23, 2012 4:29 pm via webReplyRetweetFavorite

    So he knows this clickbait bullshit is untrue, was informed of it two years ago, acknowledges it’s not true, but he pushes it anyway.

    (I love that Stephanie had the foresight to end her post with “Remember this.”)

  3. R Johnston says

    It’s time to acknowledge that not only has Richard Dawkins always been a virulently bigoted asshole, he’s also never been nearly a smart as his fans have thought him to be. He’s just someone who has a charisma that appeals enough to a certain class of people for him to make a lot of money off of it, but charisma and well-spokenness do not equate to intelligence and critical thinking ability.

    Dawkins simply isn’t that smart and never has been.The quality of his arguments when he steps outside the bounds of rote recitation is uniformly horrible, a whole lot of his rote recitation is horrible as well, and there’s simply no reason to believe that his “good” arguments are anything beyond the parroting of those who came before him. He’s never really had an original thought about atheism or skepticism, and we see quite clearly what happens when he tries to have an original thought and make an original argument: he fails, and generally quite spectacularly so.

  4. says

    maddog @ 1 – “What was his purpose in making the joint statement?”

    To try to heal the rifts, I think. It was my idea. He mentioned the rifts, as a puzzle and a sorrow. I pointed out that they started with Dear Muslima, and that he more than anyone else could do a lot to bridge them, by publicly repudiating what followed from Dear Muslima. It went on from there.

  5. Pierce R. Butler says

    Ophelia Benson @ # 7: … the rifts… started with Dear Muslima…

    Not quite: Dear M came about directly following “Elevatorgate”. E-gate started with uppitiness from Rebecca Watson – evidently Dawkins’s first feminist friction, and the beginnings of the transformation of his public persona.

    Somehow, back in Dublin in 2011, RW put a geas on RD, probably abetted by those fairies and leprechauns whom Dawkins had already dissed. Everything since has unrolled with the inevitability of what happens after the witch’s curse in Act I of a classic play.

  6. says

    Dear Muslima started with Elevatorgate, but the rifts started with Dear Muslima – which is what I said.

    Or, if you prefer, the aspect of the rifts that Richard had most directly to do with started with Dear Muslima, and that’s what I was talking to him about.

  7. Julie says

    To try to heal the rifts, I think. It was my idea.

    I see why you offered but I really honestly don’t understand why he agreed. He obviously didn’t mean a word of it. For myself anyway this is finally it. I’ve not bought anything or gone to see talks etc. but I was always hoping he would finally see what everyone was trying to tell him. Lesson learned.

  8. resident_alien says

    So, according to Wise Man Dawkins:
    Corporeal punishment is mostly harmless.
    Sexual molestation isn’t that bad, either.
    But criticizing the wisdom of Pope Dawkins the Infallible is
    bullying, faking outrage, causing deep rifts and all for mere greed.
    He should be living in the fucking Vatican.

  9. arthur says

    To be fair to Harris, you did appear to call him an asshole in your response post, Ophelia.

    Not inaccurate perhaps, given his clearly sexist posturing, but not in the spirit of the Dawkins co-statement, in my view.

  10. aziraphale says

    R Johnson @6:

    Dawkins simply isn’t that smart and never has been.

    That’s going much too far. Could you have written The Extended Phenotype? I certainly couldn’t. I have seen top-flight biologists say that that book, along with The Selfish Gene, changed their thinking.

  11. drken says

    The South Park guys got it right when then summarized the basic philosophy of Richard Dawkins as :”It doesn’t matter what you believe, just so long as you’re an asshole to anybody who disagrees with you!”

  12. R Johnston says

    aziraphale @14:

    I could not, of course, write, or even usefully read The Extended Phenotype as I don’t have the proper training. Dawkins has, however, written and said a great many things that I do have the necessary background to treat critically, and his thinking has generally ranged from unimaginative regurgitation to obnoxious anti-intellectual bellicosity. Make no mistake about it: Dawkins current ramblings are deeply anti-intellectual, epistemically incompatible with a scientific approach to knowledge. He utterly rejects the notions that his work can be criticized in good faith or in any way improved upon, that his personal observations may not be universal or reproducible, that there is merit to peer review of his ideas. He rejects science.

    As I said, he may be a fine technician who writes quite well. He is, however, no scientist, not so long as he rejects the application of the scientific method in his public works.

  13. maddog1129 says

    @ OB in #7

    That’s what I thought. It’s unimaginably sad that he has so spectacularly pulverized any chance of benefit from that agreement.

  14. Brony says

    Dawkins has no good reason to surmise and then announce (or pretend to “ask if”) we have corrupt motivations. None. It makes no more sense to assume we’re “faking outrage” about sexist claims about women than it does to assume he’s “faking outrage” about theism and godbothering.

    Dawkins has apparently decided that this is all personal now. I guess that’s what happens when you wrap yourself in the social contract in ways that are fundamentally dishonest. It starts feeling like a straight jacket and the temptation to take it off becomes overwhelming. Dawkins has informative reasons, just not good ones.

  15. Ichthyic says

    along with The Selfish Gene

    yup, I recall how that book changed my thinking when I was in grad school.

    it clarified for me how wrong the “selection acts at the level of the gene” idea that Richard regurgitated from Williams actually was.

    even back when Richard wrote it, in 1976, most of the evidence from direct studies already favored that selection was acting at the level of the individual.

    Richard, over time, tried to explain that what he was really talking about in the Selfish gene WAS individual selection (by combining the meme (gene) with the replicator (individual), and that reason he framed it the way he did was that was a clearer way to explain it to people who really didn’t understand evolutionary biology.

    He might have been right; certainly it DID educate a lot of people about evolutionary biology in general, but to this day I wonder if it actually did a disservice in actually representing evolutionary biology as a field.

    Williams, after all, was wrong.

  16. Ichthyic says

    ..and before anyone jumps in with: butbutbut there ARE examples of gene-level selection.

    yeah, there are. those are the exceptions though, not the rule we see out there, and the exceptions are very well defined, and have been for decades (see Hamilton).

  17. R Johnston says

    Let me add that you don’t, as a scientist, have any more license to cherry pick your methodology in order to achieve desirable or beneficial results that you have to cherry pick your data. Richard Dawkins, in renouncing scientific thought and methodology outside of his own lab, is doing something no different that John Lott did in his infamous More Guns, Less Crime “study.” He is announcing that he simply doesn’t understand why scientific methodology is important and why and how it works. He will only follow the forms of science so long as he finds the results comforting. In his scientific practice he’s a technician who acts by rote, not a scientific thinker.

    Certainly people don’t have too be equally rigorous in applying scientific methodology in all quests for knowledge; no one has the time or energy for that. But that doesn’t mean you ever get to wholly reject scientific methodology in an ostensible search for knowledge and still call yourself someone who’s actually seeking knowledge. If you only accept science when it gives results you like and tells you that you’re right then you have flipped science the bird. You’re Ken Ham, or you’re John Lott, or you’re Richard Dawkins.

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