The cavalry has arrived

Shoulder to shoulder the Thought Leaders stand, resisting the barbarian hordes of witch-hunting thought-police feministas.


Richard Dawkins @RichardDawkins · 17m
I wonder, is it best, @SamHarrisOrg, to just ignore the Outrage Junkies & Offence Junkies? Don’t feed their craving? …

Sam Harris, witch of the week, talks sense as ever. Probably won’t satisfy the Thought Police. …


Retweeted by Richard Dawkins
Steve Zara @sjzara · 14m
@RichardDawkins @SamHarrisOrg I agree Richard, that it’s best to ignore. Engagement is seen by them as a victory.

Retweeted by Richard Dawkins
Daniel Sidnell @DanielSidnell · 14m
@RichardDawkins @SamHarrisOrg Indeed. Being “offended” makes them feel all warm and fuzzy. Loved Sam’s blog though.

Retweeted by Richard Dawkins
Jeremy Stangroom @PhilosophyExp · 16m
@RichardDawkins @SamHarrisOrg Yes! There’s absolutely no point in directly engaging. It just gives them credibility. (Same as creationists!)


Retweeted by Richard Dawkins
Finch @AlinaFinch · 46m
@RichardDawkins @SamHarrisOrg no point in engaging. It makes them feels like their point is worth arguing about

Retweeted by Richard Dawkins
David Galiel @davidgaliel · 47m
@richarddawkins YES! Don’t give them the oxygen they crave. @samharrisorg

Retweeted by Richard Dawkins
Chloe Newsom @ChloesThinking · 47m
@DanielSidnell @RichardDawkins @SamHarrisOrg Stephen Fry’s go-to response to the phrase “I’m offended” is, “Well. So fucking what?”


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

Retweeted by Richard Dawkins
Sean Aitken @SeanAAitken · 45m
@ChloesThinking @RichardDawkins @DanielSidnell @SamHarrisOrg Or Hitchens’ “I’m still waiting to hear what your point is”


Richard Dawkins @RichardDawkins · 38m
.@joshuapaling @SamHarrisOrg Yes, that’s the opposite argument I often put myself (eg whether to debate creationists). I can’t decide.

Retweeted by Richard Dawkins
Musycks @Musycks · 42m
@RichardDawkins @SamHarrisOrg Pointless engagement. You and Sam are genuinely inquiring, seeking answers, they are seeking conflict.

Retweeted by Richard Dawkins
Jonathan Anatrella @The_Uchi_Mata · 44m
@RichardDawkins @SamHarrisOrg They’re outraged nobody listens to their opinions, and rightfully so- they’re looking for excuses to be angry.


  1. says

    The major difference between “witch of the week” and “thought police” is someone is actually calling us “thought police”, in all earnestness, as far as I can tell.

  2. canonicalkoi says

    I loved their insistence on “offended”. You didn’t say you were offended. No one said they were offended. What do they choose to attack? People who are offended, which, if you’ve been following along at home, isn’t any of the people involved in the discussion. Nice example of Straw-Womaning going on there.

    This comment of Dawkins’:

    wonder, is it best, @SamHarrisOrg, to just ignore the Outrage Junkies & Offence Junkies? Don’t feed their craving?

    leaves me wondering if Dr. Dawkins has been in for a check-up lately. I’m not being snide with that; I’m totally serious. For a guy with his PhD (or the equivalent), who’s been great at explaining evolution to devolve down to the level of an 8-year-old telling a friend in school in front of a group of non-invitees, “What’s best, Sammy? Should I invite any of them to my birthday? Huh? Are they cool enough to be invited?” astounds me. Either a particularly petty side is just continuing to emerge from hiding or he’s about to dissolve into a puddle of pomposity or he’s on the verge of an age-related mental condition.

  3. says

    For people who are resolutely not paying attention to, not listening to, and ignoring certain people, they sure write a lot about what those folks are saying.

  4. says

    “Thought police.” Because someone dares criticize what he’s said.
    Because he’s been called wrong, because some people have said that some of the things he says can be harmful.
    After what he’s based his writing and “public personality” career on.

    What a flaming hypocrite.

    He’s sounding more and more like Rush Limbaugh with every tweet.

    (For the record, I’m not offended by him making an utter ass of himself. I’m just taking note of it.)

  5. says

    Right? I tweeted at them to ask –

    @RichardDawkins @SamHarrisOrg So outrage is bad? So no outrage for bishops then? FGM? “Honor” killing? Creationism in schools?

    No reply, of course. But I’m serious. What do they think they’re arguing for?

  6. says

    Are they really passing out advice that amounts to “don’t engage with people who disagree with the things you say”? Weren’t we supposed to be skeptics? Aren’t we supposed to value the marketplace of ideas? Particularly when one of the core elements of the criticism here was that Harris seemed to be dismissing the concerns of others within his own movement as being beneath him, it’s particularly disheartening to see other “leaders” telling him to do exactly that.

  7. says

    Well I think the unstated premise is that they should ignore bad, illegitimate, unreasonable criticism like, say, mine. (And PZ’s, no doubt, since they’re at least as pissed off at him as they are at me.)

  8. HappyNat says

    If you ask me, and you didn’t, it seems like Harris and Dawkins are the ones who take offense to the very idea of being challenged.

  9. says

    I went through a phase, shortly after I went through my deconversion, where I figured I was being reasonable, and thus people who disagreed with me were unreasonable. After all, it turned out that was often the case. But I came to realize that this was a dangerous attitude; yes, it could be that I disagree because my interlocutor is unreasonable, but they are not necessarily unreasonable just because I disagree. The first rule of reason is that you can always be wrong. That’s part of what led me, rather without realizing it, to become a feminist as well as an atheist.

    It’s rather a let-down to see that some of the people I considered (and, to a degree, still do consider) my heroes don’t seem to have moved past that first stage. I know what I’d like to have seen from Sam, and I posted it on your first article about his response. I’m curious now what Sam would consider a valid, reasonable criticism, what he’d like to have seen from us. But, if he’s going to begin (or, as he actually posted, go back to) ignoring his critics, I guess I’ll never know.

  10. quixote says

    I’m seeing a lot of “But, but, but Dawkins was so smart and incisive in his books, scientific work, whatever. How can he be such a derp?”

    As someone who has spent way more years in academe than I care to admit, believe me, universities bulge with pompous, self-important doofi who are smart about one sliver of human knowledge. (All the other academic churchmice here will say the same!) Dawkins has been inflating the bulge as long as I’ve been aware of his work. (And making actual contributions with his scientific studies.) None of this is new.

    I’d be deeply astonished if someone with his lifelong habits, eminence and age suddenly learned to see new points of view.

  11. paulhavlak says

    I hate to see Dawkins taking his role as atheist pope so literally, complete with coddling of sexual misconduct and dismissing uppity women.

  12. leni says

    wonder, is it best, @SamHarrisOrg, to just ignore the Outrage Junkies & Offence Junkies? Don’t feed their craving?

    Says the guy who made a career out of trollbaiting creationists (not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

  13. chigau (違う) says

    Golly gee, Ophelia!
    Your old buddy Jeremy Stangroom is in there!
    (whatinhell happened to him?)

  14. says

    Witch hunt, Thought Police, Outrage Junkies…
    Wasn’t there some kind of agreement about, you know, not name-calling?
    Having their sexism / racism / whatever pointed out upsets these guys so much, they just lose it. I think they hear “you are a bad person” rather than “that’s an unfortunate thing to say as it reinforces existing discrimination”. If anyone knows a way round that, do send a memo.

  15. canonicalkoi says

    If anyone knows a way round that, do send a memo.

    Unfortunately, no matter how you frame it or phrase it, it still says, “You’re wrong.” That it’s saying, “You’re wrong on this particular point” or “You’re wrong in how you phrased that” or “You’re wrong and totally disenfranchising 50% or more of atheists/skeptics” doesn’t sink in. They hear the “You’re wrong” part and, like Pavlov’s dog, react to it. I’ve said it before, but for two guys who’ve basically made a household name for themselves by denigrating dogma and the idea of infallibility, they surely seem to embrace it for themselves.

  16. Brony says

    Ignore the “Outrage Junkies & Offence Junkies?” That was some pretty well deserved outrage and offence. They feel precisely like Pat Robertson and Ken Hamm in my head.

    Don’t feed their craving? This is religious mythologizing at its finest in the purpose of trying to get away with saying something sexist and getting away with it. At no time did Sir Robin Harris actually engage his critics and I have yet to see anything good out of Dawkins either. I’m not sure if Dawkins is Patsy yet. I need to get some coconuts in his hands…

    Engagement is seen as a victory? Interesting twist. I would not want to engage either if I had absolutely no chance of winning on a fair field of battle. So I don’t suggest that my critics are not really critics, because women are probably not good at criticism, because of estrogen. As a neuroscientist. So I don’t do that.

    “Well. So fucking what?”

    I guess we will see how effective that is. Especially since I am of the opinion that more outrage is required because of cowardly sexist bullshit.
    Incidentally this would not be simply ignoring. This would be making an aggressive point about how they really feel about their critics.

    Whose seeking conflict? After getting caught making sexist comments I think the aggression is in the wish to say “Well. So fucking what?” instead of all the words they are forced to say to hide the bullshit replacing the logic and reason.

  17. Silentbob says

    How can this be the same Dawkins who wrote in The God Delusion that thanks to the shifting “moral zeitgeist” he could no longer ignore the racism in his childhood Bulldog Drummond books? Who praised feminists for their “consciousness raising” about gendered language (policeman vs. police officer, etc.)?

    Where was this foot-stamping about “offence junkies” and “thought police” then?

  18. Ethan says

    @ silentbob 19

    Because Richard Dawkins understands the difference between issues and non-issues. To people who are concerned with truth this is a non-issue.

  19. says

    Thanks for the link. I see it’s just “vulgar” epithets that are out of bounds. Dearie me, we can’t be having vulgarity, can we?
    I guess what “managing debate ethically” means is subjective. Admittedly, equating someone who dislikes something you say with “Thought Police” seems more like brawling to me. Maybe a nap would do some people good.

  20. Silentbob says

    @ 20 Ethan

    To people who are concerned with truth could not give a flying fuck if the atheist community is riddled with sexism this is a non-issue.


  21. Seven of Mine: Shrieking Feminist Harpy says

    I wonder, is it best, @SamHarrisOrg, to just ignore the Outrage Junkies & Offence Junkies? Don’t feed their craving?

    Fuck you Richard Fucking Dawkins. As if any of these Twitter storms you’ve found yourself embroiled in were the result of anything other than you deliberately making incendiary comments just so you could scoff at the reactions. What a fucking bully he is with this two for flinching bullshit.

  22. John Morales says

    Seven of Mine, doesn’t Harris laud the “critical posture”?

    (Seems a bit emotional to see all criticism as outrage and offence!)

  23. mildlymagnificent says

    Outrage Junkies & Offence Junkies?

    Well if Richard would just give his good mate Sam a call, Sam would explain that all this is quite clearly yet another example of Estrogen Vibes leading women towards a more nurturing, cooperative approach.

    Does that sound right or is something mixed up there?

  24. carlie says

    The other thing they don’t realize is that this frustration with that attitude goes far beyond arguments online about how atheism is presented to the world. Theirs is the same attitude that has women seeing incompetent men promoted over them, seeing their ideas not get implemented, seeing their paycheck lower than a man at the same level, seeing everyone blame them when anything goes wrong, seeing their concerns about their partner’s temper handwaved away as overreaction, etc. and etc. in every area of their lives. These lazy dismissive stereotypes about women have real consequences for women. And then they haughtily wonder why we’re making “such a big deal” out of it.

  25. carlie says

    Now he’s referring to Feedingfrenzy Thoughtpolice Bullies.

    Richard Dawkins is doing this.

    Richard “Endowed chair at Oxford” Dawkins.

    Is resorting to making acronyms into insulting words worthy of a 5th grader.

    Because he doesn’t like people telling him and his friends that they are stereotyping women and not looking critically at their own biases.


  26. Dunc says

    I’m giving Richard Dawkins a 9.9 for that beautifully executed double backflip, triple axel over all of those sharks.

    Stick a fork in him, he’s done.

  27. carlie says

    Really, I want to make a casserole for each of the FTBloggers. This has to be hard personally, too, to see him acting like this.

  28. says

    Now he’s referring to Feedingfrenzy Thoughtpolice Bullies.
    Richard Dawkins is doing this.

    Richard Sanderson always fancied himself as some sort of influential and important person, and I scoffed.
    But now he has the famed Richard Dawkins copying his style and using his meme.

    Who know Sanderson would attain such heights? Is he a new Thought Leader?
    Or is Dawkins is plumbing new depths?
    Or are those now the same thing?

    The world is a strange place.

  29. Eric MacDonald says

    In religious circles what Dawkins et co are doing is called “shunning,” and the aim of shunning is to expel recalcitrant members of a group (or to accept them back, suitably submissive and remorseful). Of course, this can only be done by those who consider themselves in some sense leaders or representatives of the group as a whole. The attempt is clearly to establish what will be considered an orthodoxy (or praxy). This tendency to tighten the limits of the group has been around for quite awhile now, and we shouldn’t be surprised. Stangroom was one of the first to tighten the thumb screws, and then, belatedly (but not by much!), Dawkins and a few others got on board. Now they’re trying to draw others into the leadership group. Let the good ship Lollipop go on its way. Dawkins was quickly becoming a liability anyway. He’s so antediluvian in his social attitudes that progress was not to be expected from that quarter. And a meme held them captive! Woman’s place is barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen. Imagine, having such upstarts demanding respect in public! Wander out in public and women deserve to be hit upon, treated as tarts, and held up to contempt if they object. Dawkins would do well in Saudi Arabia.

  30. says

    Carlie, so Dawkins is the new Sanderson. They’re both Richards, after all.

    (For those not up with developments on Twitter, Rich Sanderson who came up with the #FTBullies hashtag a couple of years ago, finally got banned, after Twitter finally acted on a months-old abuse complaint by Stephanie Zvan.)

  31. Wowbagger, proud member of the thought police says

    (For those not up with developments on Twitter, Rich Sanderson who came up with the #FTBullies hashtag a couple of years ago, finally got banned, after Twitter finally acted on a months-old abuse complaint by Stephanie Zvan.

    And there was much rejoicing, for all knew he was a mewling pissant of the highest order.

  32. Menyambal says

    Why are people trying to communicate substantive information over Twitter? It’s only good for little thoughts, like “they hate our freedoms”, that conservatives use in lieu of real thought.

    When you get to making up short terms to describe other people, you are no longer regarding them as fully human. (How is that for a short thought?)

    Yeah, well over the shark and looking like sticking the landing.

  33. Anthony K says

    Ha-ha! Lookit all those men nurturing other on Twitter!
    “Sam, what should I do?”
    “Shh, it’ll be okay Richard. [Wipes away a tear from Richard’s face.] Just ignore them. They’re just ragey.”
    “So much rage! Hold me.”

    So, what point was Sam Harris making about men and women again?

  34. dshetty says

    Im losing track of the number of hypocrisies being displayed –
    Perhaps if I say men follow Harris/Dawkins because men love hypocrisy due to their genital organs , he might get it?

  35. says

    And now see, via Stephanie Zvan’s latest, that Dawkins has tweeted several tweets (that sounds redundant) with the tired “they’re creating controversy to get clicks and $$” theme.

    I’m at a loss for words… It’s like he’s a twitter troll time machine set to 2010.
    How long before he starts leaving comments on Pharyngula saying “where are the science posts?!”

  36. Brony says

    @ Eric MacDonald

    They might be shunning. If they are shunning I think that it’s yet another way to get anyone that might sympathize with them to avoid looking at what their critics are actually saying.

    They can try to shun. They may not be very successful because the power of that is limited. They may only succeed at concentrating themselves in one social space and I rather like the idea of that sort of person being with their own for ease of identification. Also they may infect one another with bad behavior to the point where they will become good warnings to others. For shunning to work they need to have something the people they want to disconnect from value. I honestly have not valued Dawkins or Harris for a while.

    If shunning does not work the alternative is expulsion through harassment and some people started at that level.

  37. Anthony K says

    How long before he starts leaving comments on Pharyngula saying “where are the science posts?!”

    I LOL’d.

    But of course he won’t. Pharyngulites weren’t sufficiently deferential to His Highness the last time he dropped by with his most excellent “Dear Muslima” comment, and of course, as a man, he’s scared of aggression and only wants nicey nicey discussion harmony. Also, he doesn’t want to give his friend PZ the click$.

    (I often wonder about how Muslima feels about Dawkins being persecuted as a witch? He must be getting all sorts of messages of support from women in Ghana who know what that’s like.)

  38. yazikus says

    I often wonder about how Muslima feels about Dawkins being persecuted as a witch? He must be getting all sorts of messages of support from women in Ghana who know what that’s like.

    This really bothers me. Considering trying to end actual witch hunts is a thing some atheist activists are doing, his use of “witch of the week” and “literal witch hunts!” to describe criticism is so offensive. Strike that, I’m not offended, I’m contemptuous, to quote Melissa McEwan.

  39. Anthony K says

    This really bothers me. Considering trying to end actual witch hunts is a thing some atheist activists are doing, his use of “witch of the week” and “literal witch hunts!” to describe criticism is so offensive. Strike that, I’m not offended, I’m contemptuous, to quote Melissa McEwan.

    It’s repulsive. And with respect to his use of ‘literal’: for fuck’s sake, Richard Dawkins, if you’re gonna use my language, learn to use it properly.

  40. Anthony K says

    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.

  41. Crimson Clupeidae says

    Stephanie@1: Well, I’m offended! [I’m male though, so it might actually count to the Dawkinsites and Harris fanbois.]

    I’m offended by the utter lack of any resembling a coherent discussion or addressing of points. It seems Dawkins has already forgotten about his ‘cease fire’ from a couple weeks ago. Although, I think, in his mind, not using any harsh language means all the other demeaning crap is perfectly acceptable.

  42. =8)-DX says

    Uhm, ok.

    I’m just going to try to give a really accomodating interpretation of the events:
    James Randi, Sam Harris, Micheal Shermer, Richard Dawkins: all agree women are human beings and should be treated as such. But in their specific, biased, tribal, personal, ordinary, everyday, exploitative, non-sexist!, clearheaded, logical, rational, fun-loving, emotional situations a crack has appeared. This is the crack through which feminist thought, language, experience, evaluations seeps through. And they don’t know what the fuck to do. They’re not equipped for it. Because in the past three years they decided to ignore the rising tide of feminist voices. That wasn’t important, that couldn’t happen, they didn’t do it. And now they’re stuck.
    When my favourite atheist YouTuber said “guys, don’t do that”, I thought I’d learned something new. But I was wholy ignorant of reality: atheist emancipation, feminist thought, equality, secularism and skepticism, can’t take place on a backburner of slow, incremental progress. I had to take into account the gender of each participant, I had to take into accout the legion of bigots who at every turn need to express a reluctance to change.
    “If only people could get together, sit down and sort things out.” doesn’t work when most (90%?!) are operating on prejudice alone, expounding confirmation bias and have no problem shouting their ignorance to the world.

    People: you’ve always helped me in my ignorance, by taking me to task. Why don’t the big names understand this? Because equal rights are not just a word, but a whole field of inquiry that takes years of research and listening to grasp.

    Shutting up now.

  43. =8)-DX says

    @Brony #18
    @Eric MacDonald #32
    These tendencies are not inherantly religious, although it what has put many of us off religion. I’d point more to confirmation bias, especially Dunning Kruger and attempted echo-chamber creation (clickbait, anyone?)
    Living in a mostly nonreligious society – these things still exist despite religion. Maybe I should mention memes now or something.

  44. Brony says

    @ =8)-DX
    Fair point and I don’t mind clarifying.

    I do believe that these behaviors are not just religious. In fact my passion is motivated in part because I believe that these tendencies are universal to human groups and I don’t like seeing my fellow atheists refuse to fact just what religion might really be deep down.

    But it can be effective to make the comparison to the thing we have been fighting. It’s deliberately invoking “that which we are not supposed to be like” to make people see what is in the reflection in the mirror. The word mythology was deliberately chosen, and still totally appropriate. Maybe there is a better way of doing all of that?

  45. John Morales says

    [meta +OT]

    Brony @53: “my fellow atheists”

    That’s the problem. That’s the tribalism.

    You should be thinking “other atheists”.

  46. Brony says

    @ John Morales
    Good point. Some of my emotion driving this is based on a feeling of of having people doing terrible things in a common group with me. I’m certainly not trying to otherize anyone like Dawkins or Harris. They are in my group and as much as any of the best or the worst of us.
    Getting rid of social instincts that drive feelings is not really an option. Understanding them and using what they mean as best as we can is better. I’m not trying to see other atheists of any behavior as not in my group so I need to focus on the bahavior better.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *