Provoking outrage

I made another attempt to talk reason. I’m absurdly optimistic, aren’t I.

Richard Dawkins ‏@RichardDawkins 13h
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.

Answer to my question seems to be yes, and on-line newspapers may be worst offenders – deliberately touting for clicks by provoking outrage.

Ophelia Benson @OpheliaBenson
.@RichardDawkins What about you, Richard? 2 million TGD sold, yes? Outrages many, yes? So…what is your point? You good we bad? That’s it?

@RichardDawkins Haven’t you been – often laudably – provoking outrage for years now? Why rebuke other provokers? Are you being consistent?

@RichardDawkins I heard you provoking outrage on Seattle public radio 1996. Loved it, & nipped off to your reading at U bookstore.

@RichardDawkins Your voice was gone, so Lalla did the reading. Small group, but lively. Inspired me to be more vocal about my atheism.

@RichardDawkins So WHY are you treating “outrage” as a bad thing now, just because you don’t share it? Not fair or consistent.

@RichardDawkins Ok, you don’t like it when we criticise your friends. But do you really think that’s a good reason to fight dirty?

@RichardDawkins I do “outrage” posts all the time – about FGM, honor killings, the death of Savita Halappanavar, the pope, the bishops…

@RichardDawkins …abortion clinics closing all over the US, prayer in school, Boko Haram, witch-hunting (the real kind) in Nigeria…

@RichardDawkins …poverty, inequality, the massive rise in incarceration in the US, Ebola, “blasphemy” charges in Pakistan…

@RichardDawkins …and I doubt that you frown on any of that. Why now?

There’s been no reply. I don’t suppose he’ll ever reply. I don’t understand his thinking here.


  1. says

    I know a Christian who was offended by the title of The God Delusion — while she doesn’t mind being told she is wrong (which she doesn’t; she’s argued religion on the internet for decades), she does object to being called “delusional”. My view is that it’s a good title precisely because it’s provocative — it’s a strong statement of the book’s central thesis. But it probably didn’t hurt sales any, either.

  2. R Johnston says

    Dawkins, just like any other fundamentalist, is incapable of considering the possibility that he might be wrong. His outrage is always rational; outrage held against him is always irrational. His provocation is because it’s the best way to make his point; provocation of others towards him is done solely for the blog-hits.

    This is who Richard Dawkins is; this is who Richard Dawkins always has been. He’s a person who is so closed minded as to be incapable of error in his own estimation, a person who believes that he’s a god who holds a special place in the universe above the mere peons who are people. Sure, he might not use the term “god” to describe himself, but he ascribes himself infallibility, a supernatural property that does not exist except in fictional gods.

    Dawkins is a theist and his god is him.

  3. malefue says

    These past years have estranged me so much from Dawkins. (is that the right phrasing, not used to posting in english)
    I still can’t believe he sides with people who have such a fundamental disregard for other people’s experiences and struggles, out of mere tribalism. This whole “Skeptic Movement” needs a good cleaning out before I can ever call myself a skeptic again.
    I just want to say thank you for your work, Ophelia, this is truly a spot of brightness you created here at FTB. That goes for all the other bloggers as well, of course.

  4. chrislawson says

    R Johnston@3: please don’t use the “he’s just another type of fundamentalist” meme. There’s plenty wrong with Dawkins’ recent Twittering without resorting to the kind of pseudo-arguments creationists are fond of. I also think you’re wrong about Dawkins. He has written several times on the importance of changing your mind when the evidence comes in and has given examples in his own life where he changed his mind on important topics.

  5. Steve LaBonne says

    Sorry, chrislawson. I used to engage in the same kind of excuse-making, but it’s become impossible to ignore the fact that Dawkins (and Harris) respond to criticism with very much the same irrational rigidity and same kinds of cheap rhetorical strategies we’re so used to seeing from creationists. If the shoe fits…

  6. Anthony K says

    and has given examples in his own life where he changed his mind on important topics.

    I’d like to meet the person who’s never, ever changed their mind on an important topic.

  7. R Johnston says

    chrislawson @7:

    One can admit that one has changed one’s mind in the past and yet still hold fast to the notion that any of one’s currently held beliefs are perforce correct and unassailable. Dawkins is very clearly offended by anyone having the temerity to express the idea that he might possibly be wrong. He is so offended that he is unable to respond to criticism except by incoherent stammering of ad hominem bullshitery entirely unrelated to the ideas at issue. He really does believe that to challenge him, to declare him wrong, is to ipso facto be lying and worthy of violently worded derision.

  8. =8)-DX says

    1) He said FAKED outrage. You can’t be geniune about Harris and Shermer.
    2) He is big man. Big man not talk to little women. Big man only apologise to All Atheist Women.

    Fuck ‘im

  9. =8)-DX says

    @Anthony K #9
    Yeah I have. And in many important positions. Including the very important position (for me) that I’ve been and often am, an asshole. Still not a True Skeptic™ though.

  10. carlie says

    What frustrates me the absolute most in these kinds of exchanges is how they absolutely ignore all of the reasoned, clear questions coming at them. You have raised really good points. Even if the response is a weaselly “it’s not like that and here’s how it’s different”, at least that would be acknowledgment that you took the time to write that all out and try to get him to understand. And yet, he’s just going to ignore it. He’s going to go on guffawing about witch hunts and offense and clickbait and never, ever get anywhere near addressing any of it.

  11. Brony says

    @Ophelia Benson

    There’s been no reply. I don’t suppose he’ll ever reply. I don’t understand his thinking here.

    I think that it’s because it’s not just about thinking. It’s also about feeling. The emotions are important again but now we see flaw from the lack of awareness of emotion in a person who may have been used to using it thoughtlessly with not enough introspection. The distinction between thinking and feeling (the order and intensity between the two is probably important) has been a critical part about the debate.

    Until Dawkins ran into trouble with “his people”, he may not have thought about it very much and so he can’t choose targets among non-opponents well. Or the feeling of “betrayal” might be too much for him and he just goes into “enemy mode” when criticized by “certain groups”.

    Either way since he is an authority figure there is little room for care for his feelings when does not seem to be very good at controlling his own.

  12. Leon says

    When I first encountered Dawkins, underneath the provocations there would always be a reasonable point of view, something I could understand even when I disagreed. That’s completely gone now.

    It’s not just Dawkins — if anything it seems like there are more old white guys in self-constructed bubbles of ignorance claiming to represent me than before.

    I know I changed during the last few decades, but did the world regress when I wasn’t looking?

  13. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    There’s been no reply. I don’t suppose he’ll ever reply. I don’t understand his thinking here.

    I can’t speak for Dawkins but if you are asking why he doesn’t reply to your very reasonable question and point there it might possibly be what you directly cited the other side saying here :

    Retweeted by Richard Dawkins
    Almonds @spartannik · 44m
    @RichardDawkins @SamHarrisOrg Definetely ignore, these people don’t want equality they simply want attention.

    Retweeted by Richard Dawkins
    Michael Noone @MichaelNoone4 · 44m
    @RichardDawkins @SamHarrisOrg engagement=vindication. Ignoring them leaves them sat there boiling.

    IOW, Dawkins could perhaps be deliberately ignoring you because he doesn’t want to give you “attention” and wants to leave you upset and hurt by his disdain for you. The fact that he’s been advised by others to do this and retweeted that advice supports that proposition.

    If so, that does NOT I think reflect at all well on him and seems petty and cowardly to me as the whole ignoring logical, fair argumentation tactic always does.

    Not sure if that really helps at all, sorry if it does not but still.

  14. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    PS. As to why Dawkins thinks its fine for him to provoke outrage but not you, I can’t answer or see why he feels that way other than innate natural (?) human hypocrisy and failure to see that that’s exactly what he’s doing. Again, something he loses respect for from me and I think likely a great many others.

  15. says

    Its a shame he wont have seen any of those tweets… Its a pretty safe wager that he has blocked you for not giving him the deference that he “deserves”…

  16. says

    No, I don’t think he’s blocked me – if he had I wouldn’t be able to RT his tweets, and I am able to do that, so I think he hasn’t. (Not certain though because I still don’t understand everything about Twitter.)


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