With colleagues like him…

Jacques Rousseau also thinks Dawkins is mistaken in his response to the Tim Hunt issue.

As with “shirtgate”, where Rosetta scientist Matt Taylor was in the news for wearing a shirt depicting naked women, the Tim Hunt case has prominently featured Richard Dawkins, telling us how to understand feminism and the issue of sexism in science.

It has, yes, and that’s unfortunate, because he’s not well informed about feminism nor is he sympathetic to it.

In his letter to The Times (paywalled, so – sorry – I’m linking to the Daily Mail‘s quotes of the letter), Dawkins says:

Along with many others, I didn’t like Sir Tim Hunt’s joke, but “disproportionate” would be a huge underestimate of the baying witch-hunt that it unleashed among our academic thought police: nothing less than a feeding frenzy of mob-rule self-righteousness.

‘A writer in the Guardian even described it as “a moment to savour”. To “savour” a moment of human misery – to “savour” the hounding of one of our most distinguished scientists – goes beyond schadenfreude and spills over into cruelty.’

One might hope that Dawkins is demonstrating “disproportionateness” via example, but he’s no doubt serious in this one-sided portrayal of events.

Well I suppose one of these days he could burst out laughing and tell us it’s all been an elaborate hoax, but it seems like an awful lot of trouble to go to for a joke.

When the speaker of the offensive remarks has felt the need to apologise, fully acknowledging that the remarks were inappropriate, seeing a senior male scientist like Dawkins describing reaction to those as a “feeding frenzy of mob-rule self-righteousness” is unlikely to reassure anyone who has concerns regarding perceived or actual sexist treatment of women in the workplace.

Indeed it is and that is why it would be so nice if Dawkins would just stop. But he won’t. He apparently likes being the darling of the anti-feminists, so that will be part of his legacy.


  1. says

    Dawkins misrepresented that “savour” comment, too. The writer in the Guardian was “savouring” the attention being directed towards sexism in the sciences as a result of Hunt’s comments, not savoring “human misery”.

  2. Silentbob says

    Rosetta scientist Matt Taylor was in the news for wearing a shirt depicting naked women

    I’m sorry, I know it’s completely beside the point, but my inner pedant won’t allow me to refrain from pointing out that there were not, in fact, any naked women on Matt Taylor’s shirt. “Scantily clad” or “eroticised” would be a fair call.

    (It’s about ethics in journalism! 😉 )

  3. Al Dente says

    Dawkins has become almost a parody of himself. His dogmatism, his refusal to acknowledge that others might have legitimate opinions contrary to his opinion, and his hyperbolic language all show the workings of an ignorant, overwrought, reactionary man. Dawkins considers himself to be the logical, concise thinker par excellence but his writings show otherwise. He embarrasses himself with every new rant he makes on feminism.

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