It’s not all about him

To counteract the bad taste left by Dawkins’s interventions (and if you want to feel even sicker you can always check out Louise Mensch on Twitter, who is in a positive lather of bullying), there is the very intelligent discussion on Athene Donald’s blog. She defends Hunt, but she does it reasonably as opposed to shoutingly. (Although she does use the phrase “lynch mob,” which I really wish people would stop doing.) In particular she says making a fuss about Tim Hunt is easy, and everyone should be doing the less easy things too. She gives a list:

We should all be pro-active, not look the other way. Here’s an easy list to help people make that commitment. Everyone should be able to find one they are in a position to carry out.

  • Call out bad behaviour whenever and wherever you see it – in committees or in the street. Don’t leave women to be victimised;
  • Encourage women to dare, to take risks;
  • Act as a sponsor or mentor (if you are just setting out there will still always be people younger than you, including school children, for whom you can act);
  • Don’t let team members get away with demeaning behaviour, objectifying women or acting to exclude anyone;
  • [Read more…]

More unreconstructed every day

The morning update. Dawkins is still raging at feminism, still whipping up hatred against women who object to Tim Hunt’s contemptuous remarks about women scientists.


Richard Dawkins ‏@RichardDawkins 8 hours ago
“The Modern Witch-hunt.” @TheTimes letter: “Competitive condemnation.” “Ugly race to condemn.” The wish “to be in the front row of the mob.”

Condemnation can be good. But Internet today makes it all too easy to whip up a baying mob & recapture the spirit of the playground bully.

The bully here is Tim Hunt. The bully here is Richard Dawkins with his 1.2 million followers. The bully here is the consortium of Famous Pale Male Scientists trying to defend their right to express their contempt for women as colleagues.

“The baying witch-hunt”

Richard Dawkins is at it again and still – he is still at it, and he has produced another specific instance of it. The “it” in question is his determined, condescending, angry, vindictive attack on feminism. (Why “vindictive”? Because to all appearances it started with Dear Muslima, and he’s made it very obvious that he’s deeply pissed off at all of us who pushed back against Dear Muslima.)

We saw him at it just a few days ago, in a pair of tweets he sent on Sunday, perhaps while still at the CFI Reason for Change conference. Maybe he sent them Sunday morning while listening to Stephen Law’s talk – I know he was there because he was the first to ask a question at the end. I was there too. If only I’d known I could have flung myself at him and knocked the phone or tablet from his hands, thus saving him from yet another self-exposure as a raging anti-feminist bully. (Yes, bully. He’s using his fame and star status to do what he can to repress feminism and incite his fans to do even more of that. I know he knows that because I fucking told him so.)

Those tweets again:

Richard Dawkins ‏@RichardDawkins Jun 14
“A moment to savour”? Really? Please, Guardian, could we just lighten up on the witch-hunts? #ReinstateTimHunt.

Richard Dawkins ‏@RichardDawkins Jun 14
@SquashedLumps I didn’t like Tim Hunt’s joke. But I loathe and detest mob rule and witch hunts and politically correct feeding frenzies.

Now he’s sent the content of the tweets to The Times. Yes really: he sent a letter to The Times complaining of a “baying witch hunt.” He actually did that. [Read more…]

These days, Dawkins describes himself as “a communicator”

Sophie Elmhirst has a long profile of Richard Dawkins in the Guardian. It’s partly about his new career of creating uproars on Twitter, and whether or not that’s a good idea.

The two strands of Dawkins’s mission – promoting science, demolishing religion – are intended to be complementary. “If they are antagonistic to each other, that would be regrettable,” he said, “but I don’t see why they should be.” But antagonism is part of Dawkins’s daily life. “I suppose some of the passions that I show are more appropriate to a young man than somebody of my age.” Since his arrival on Twitter in 2008, his public pronouncements have become more combative – and, at times, flamboyantly irritable: “How dare you force your dopey unsubstantiated superstitions on innocent children too young to resist?,” he tweeted last June. “How DARE you?”

“Flamboyantly irritable” is a good way of putting it. There are problems with both, especially in a famous Oxford academic – and especially when they are irritable rather than witty or probing. Anybody can do irritable, and anybody does; it’s hard to see why Dawkins needs to join that massive and uninteresting crowd.

These days, Dawkins describes himself as “a communicator”. But depending on your point of view, he is also a hero, a heathen, or a liability. Many of his recent statements – on subjects ranging from the lack of Nobel prize-winning Muslim scientists to the “immorality” of failing to abort a foetus with Down’s syndrome – have sparked outraged responses (some of which Dawkins read aloud on a recent YouTube video, which perhaps won him back a few friends). For some, his controversial positions have started to undermine both his reputation as a scientist and his own anti-religious crusade. Friends who vigorously defend both his cause and his character worry that Dawkins might be at risk of self-sabotage. “He could be seriously damaging his long-term legacy,” the philosopher Daniel Dennett said of Dawkins’s public skirmishes. It is a legacy, Dennett believes, that should reflect the “masterpiece” that was The Selfish Gene and Dawkins’s major contribution to our understanding of life. As for Twitter: “I wish he wouldn’t do it,” Krauss said. “I told him that.”

Lots of people have told him that – friends and colleagues, I mean, not just onlookers. [Read more…]

Spin in the Dawkins Circle

What was that about Dawkins’s never having “proclaimed himself as any kind of atheist ‘leader'”?

What about this then – what about Join the Dawkins Circle?

Reason Circle: $1,000 to $2,499 annually (or $85/month)

  • Invitation to Dawkins Circle member-only event with RDFRS personalities
  • Member-only discount for all purchases in the store

Science Circle: $2,500 to $4,999 annually (or $210/month)

All the benefits listed above, plus:

  • One ticket to an invitation-only Dawkins Circle event with Richard

[Read more…]

What language are they speaking? Is it English?

I think what set Dawkins off on his University Probably Is Not For You hashtag spree was Christina Hoff Sommers on her own Twitter spree on the subject of her talk at Oberlin on Monday.

He replied to one of her tweets:

Richard Dawkins‏@RichardDawkins
@CHSommers What language are they speaking? Is it English? English is my native language and I couldn’t understand a single word they said.

Kids today eh. Students eh well I never. Young people talk a strange lingo get offa my lawn wot wot. [Read more…]

But it’s terribly important to understand

I saw a discussion of a video of Dawkins talking to someone on a stage in front of an audience, which is an extract from the full video posted by the RDF. It’s an event at Kennesaw State University in Georgia last November 21. I watched the first four minutes of the extract because it’s interesting. I transcribed most of it for the purpose of saying what’s wrong with it.

The guy asking the questions, Dr. Michael L. Sanseviro, Dean of Student Success at Kennesaw State, asks about the controversy about feminism and why Dawkins has been comparing degrees of badness when one could say the same thing about atheism. Yes, Dawkins says. “I want to be clear about this.” Then he pauses to think and then proceeds:

When I say something like, “This kind of maltreatment of women in America is bad but the treatment of women in Islam is worse,” I’m not saying treatment of women in America is good. I’m just saying it’s not asbad. I get the feeling there are some people who can’t tell the difference between saying that this is bad but that’s worse. They seem to think I’m saying this must be good because that’s worse and of course I’m not saying that at all.

[Read more…]

That’s why

Adam Lee has a post on the “suppression” of Richard Dawkins, based on that interview with Kimberly Winston a few weeks ago. There’s a comment on it that is surprisingly oblivious to something that seems completely obvious to me. (Which just goes to show – what’s obvious to me is not obvious to thee. That’s what all this is about, in the end.)

Adam, your points are as always well thought through and equally well written.
What I don’t understand is the obsession that some in the atheist community have in following Richard Dawkins every word and then proceeding to perform an autopsy on the perceived flaws in his character. He is after all human like the rest of us, albeit extremely talented and skilled in areas I am only just able to understand as a layman. [Read more…]

Dana’s advice for Coyne Dawkins and Harris

Dana Hunter has a brilliant post on all this. It draws on brilliance from Libby Anne and from Hiba Krisht, for a hat trick of brilliance.

I’d like to ask a favor of anyone who can manage to get a critical viewpoint through the defenses of atheist celebrities like Harris and Dawkins: please get them to read Libby Anne’s infuriating and heartbreaking post, Do They Care about Women, or Simply Bashing Religion? Because it’s a question they need to address. They’re driving people like Libby Anne away from movement atheism. That is very much to the detriment of the movement.

It most certainly is. And Libby Anne is very far from the only one they are driving away. [Read more…]

The arbiter of what feminists should or shouldn’t get upset about

Michael Nugent has a terrible, patronizing, let-me-fix-this post chastising Adam Lee for his article quoting Dawkins’s recent forays into anti-feminism. I’m very tired of Michael’s self-appointed let-me-fix-this posturing, and I was going to ignore the post, but then I saw on Twitter that Adam had responded so I clicked on the link, which turned out to be to a comment – a very good comment – on Michael’s post.

You said that you were going to address the question of where my article was “inaccurate”, but the majority of your article is a complaint about various choices of wording I made, the thrust of which is that it’s unfair for me to use emotive language in support of the conclusions I advocate. I reject this. [Read more…]