Except Dan Dennett, that is. Philosophers are A-OK.
But otherwise, he’s written a remarkable post, a farewell to the skeptic and atheist movement, in which he goes down the line and expresses his distaste for everyone associated with that broad group. Sam Harris seems to have triggered the latest round of dissociations, but he also takes swipes at Neil deGrasse Tyson, Michael Shermer, Jerry Coyne, Lawrence Krauss, Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitchens. Or maybe it’s not so much that he detests them all, as that he considers himself far superior to them.
As someone who has also deplored the idolatry of heroes, to the extent that their flaws are then excused, I kind of sympathize. Except, unfortunately, that posting them all in a giant lump is kind of an indigestible exercise that makes Pigliucci look like he’s just burning all of his bridges. And also because the last recipient of his splenetic expulsion is…me. I don’t know whether to be flattered by an inclusion in that list of Big Name Atheist Celebrities, or be appalled at either being labeled as a celebrity or at the obvious purely personal dislike he expresses.
Last, but certainly not least (dulcis in fundo1, as the Romans used to say) one cannot conclude this parade without mentioning P.Z. Myers, who has risen to fame because of a blog where the level of nastiness (both by the host and by his readers) is rarely matched anywhere else on the Internet2, and who has lately discovered3 (together with a number of others that I don’t need to mention here4) both social progressivism and feminism (or perhaps he invented them?5), and has immediately proceeded to confuse them, somehow, with tenets of atheism6.
1Because Latin, like footnotes, makes your hatchet job look like a serious scholarly effort.
2Oh you poor naive man. He doesn’t seem to get out much on the internet, I guess. I was surprised to see that some of his commenters actually defend me (startling…I’m used to seeing nothing but hatred, and there is some of that, to a degree that ought to give poor Massimo the vapors. But then, he probably sees the nastiness against me as justifiable). But Pigliucci replies to the rejection of this claim with one line:
It’s really not difficult, just pick almost any thread on that blog and you can read it yourself. Wow.
3He also seems unaware of the long history of the blog author he excoriates. No, I’ve never been anti-progressive or anti-feminist. But even if I had been, would moving towards greater social consciousness be a mark against me? This is a very strange complaint.
4It’s too bad. He could have purged even more bile if he’d bothered to acknowledge the existence of all those other little people, rather than just me.
5Even stranger. Why would anyone sensible think I’d invented feminism? I rely on the works of known, serious feminists to improve my understanding of the subject.
6Nope, I’ve never confused them. I’ve argued, in line with what a philosopher ought to think, that accepting a major premise about the nature of the universe has implications, and that atheists ought to think more deeply about what being an atheist means — and not resort to the lazy trope of claiming that all it means is that you don’t believe in gods. To name one thing, denying the existence of a supernatural authority of absolute morality does mean you have to change the way you talk about right and wrong from the default (in Western culture) of falling back on religious authority.
Oh, well. That killed a half hour of my time waiting for my connecting flight at Schiphol, so I guess his post was good for something.