Dawkins

He edited the Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing this year…and I got it, it’s too good not to get.

But this man should not have the post he has.

This is the man who said children should be discouraged from reading Harry Potter because it might give them unscientific ideas.

Leigh Brackett couldn’t’ve written this, and neither could Ray Bradbury. “Scientists for Proscription”. It’s simply astonishing.

George W. Bush has a lot to answer for. It wasn’t just Dennis Miller who got stung by 9/11, wasn’t just Christopher Hitchens. Who counts the cost on the other side?

Honestly, this shit’s got to end. Rupert Sheldrake sounds like the voice of fucking reason compared to Dawkins. Dawkins is driving me to witchcraft, voodoo, astrology. I don’t think Dawkins really understands or likes science, any more than he likes or understands history. I am beginning to despair of him.

James Randi would tell you: there’s no one in this world easier to fool than a scientist.

Dawkins has bent his mind just like a spoon. Of course there IS no spoon.

Don’t tell HIM that, though. He’ll accuse you of not being a proper Vulcan.

Actually, it’s disgraceful.

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12 responses to “Dawkins

  1. I had to stop reading PZ Myers’ blog a few years ago for the same reason. It got to the point where I was embarrassed to share even a hint of an ideology with that humorless, bullying twit.

  2. You mean there’s more of them?!

    We should mock the shit out of them, really. You could almost do a parodic “Inherit The Wind” at this point.

  3. “This is the man who said children should be discouraged from reading Harry Potter because it might give them unscientific ideas.”

    No he didn’t. Really he didn’t. And I agree unreservedly with what he actually said.

    Anyone can watch the interview and decide if the paraphrase is accurate or even remotely fair.

  4. Jesus, RAB. He doesn’t say that, you’re right. But what he does say is worse. He’s the kind of person who will never understand what a story is, or why people tell stories. He’s someone who has his own private cause and he’s completely sure he’s right that he doesn’t think about any reason for things besides the one he’s formulated. Because stories about magic make children anti-science. No they fucking don’t, and no sane person could argue that.

    “Atheist Evangelist” should be an oxymoron, not a job description.

  5. What I extracted this from was a quote in a newspaper…that I read some time ago, so there’s your full disclosure.

    I’ll go off now to reacquaint myself with the material! But I’m fairly sure I won’t find myself agreeing with him…

    Back here shortly, to elaborate on my findings!

  6. Okay, refresher done! Although it wasn’t really necessary for me to watch that if it was just to see that my paraphrase was accurate. Or fair. I said he said that children “should be discouraged” from reading unscientific literature, and obviously he didn’t say that. So, accurate: no. And fair: no

    Remotely fair, though…I’m prepared to argue that “remotely”.

    But first: much worse is when I ascribe to Dawkins the inclinations of a proscriber of texts! I should say something like “to my knowledge, Dawkins has never advocated such a thing”, except…well, that would be pretty mealy-mouthed of me, too, wouldn’t it? “To my knowledge…” It would be much fairer to say “I can’t imagine Dawkins ever advocating such a thing”, or even “he would never advocate such a thing.” And make the stance clear. Then if he ever, you know, did…I would gain the double privilege of being both dead wrong, and completely shocked. So I’ll throw up a big “mea culpa” on that one…

    And return to “remotely”. Permit me to disagree with you, RAB: I can agree with none of the things said in that interview. Dawkins’ bias, as I’ve often said, is toward a sort of free-range Scientism, that comes complete with its own supporting ahistorical myths of development and progress — the most important of which is the thing I call the Galileo Myth, the story of Galileo being persecuted for his scientific forthrightness rather than for his political naivete — the Creation Myth of modern Scientism! — and its own set of ideologically-precluded counterarguments. Note in the interview his observation that fairy-stories are “unscientific”, and his consequent curiosity about whether bringing children up to believe in spells and wizards and magic wands and so forth is potentially corrosive of rationality…to the point where he wonders if some research shouldn’t be done on the subject.

    But this is a pretty poor starting-point, if it’s science we’re talking about — because the critical assumption is not that fairy-stories could be somehow dangerous because of their “unscientific” character but that children are “brought up to believe” in them…which of course they are not. There are all kinds of “unscientific” things out there that children are “brought up to believe in”, but Harry Potter isn’t one of them, and neither is anything in C.S. Lewis or E. Nesbit…or A.A. Milne, for that matter. Dawkins is simply indulging in question-begging: if children are brought up to believe in an irrational scheme of event-interpretation, then it will — sorry, may — threaten their ability to think rationally. But now Dawkins himself sounds a little mealy-mouthed: because which is it? Is irrational thinking harmful to rationality, or isn’t it? There’s a little wiggle room here, but he can’t use it: I may not treat “rational” and “scientific” as synonyms, but he does it all the time, so he’ll be hoist on his own petard if he abandons that identity at this late date.

    So, rational, scientific…I don’t need to split these things up either: by Dawkin’s own habitual formula, unscientific equals irrational equals…

    …Bad?

    Well, does he indeed think it equals “bad”?

    It’s hard for me to see why anyone would even remark on the “unscientific” character of fairy-stories, if they were not trying to first find a way to paint them as “bad”…so for me it seems uncomplicated to say that “bad” isn’t simply equated with the meaning of “iurrational/unscientific”, but rather supplies their meanings to them. It’s question-begging again: what’s the rationale for assigning this attribute to J.K. Rowling or the Brothers Grimm, and not to anything else, to practically the whole of fiction if it comes to that? What, even, is the rationale for making “degree of scientific-ness” any kind of a universal cultural yardstick at all? What good does this do? What concept of worth lies behind it, and in what does that concept of worth originate? I could rant and rant and RANT about this: what is the developmental effect of “unscientific” fiction on children? To put the question is to immediately see the inadequacy of Dawkins’ label: it is not useful for doing science. So what in the world justifies using it, in the way he does?

    His campaign is all in code, but I don’t think he realizes it.

  7. My objection was entirely to the points which you’ve graciously conceded. The rest of it, no worries!

    I mean, yes, we still disagree on the intent and purpose of Dawkins’ whole argument…but there’s more than enough room for us to honestly and legitimately disagree about that topic without it becoming a thing.

  8. “But objectivity is subjective!” “Yes, but subjectivity is objective!” Ha. Thanks for bringing the objection up, by the way; if I won’t give Dawkins any slack for just blurting out some unsupported assertion as fact (and you know I never would), I can’t very well reserve any slack in that area for myself!

    On the Bush thing though, I know I’ve said this before, but…I can well understand people both in the States and out of it having started to worry “oh shit, there’s gonna be a theocracy around here any minute, kids’ll have to be taught, not just creation science, but creation math too…” Creation chemistry: “now what happens if we add 30 ml of Holy Ghost to our Righteousness solution?” “Oh, the test tube’s getting hot!” “That’s the Rapture energy coming out of it…”

    I can’t bring myself to overlook that as a factor in all the New Atheism jazz — the whole thing smacks of circling the wagons, to me…

    And man, I’d like to go into something about that, but unfortunately it’s pretty much the substance of a friend’s Phil. of Sci. paper…very interesting stuff, I thought, but…

    Aha! Email!

  9. But this man should not have the post he has.

    Luckily, he has been replaced in his official position by somebody really cool, Marcus du Sautoy, whose brilliant program about math(s) I watched most of, and I’m (as I think I told you) am not really a math person but I thought it was brilliant. Here‘s a video I was shown that introduced me to this new guy, and his confident competence, clear communication and most of all evident enthusiasm for his subject has already convinced me that he’s worlds better than Dawkins at furthering the Public Understanding of Science.

  10. Again, couldn’t agree more… If I haven’t ever pointed you to Rilstone’s blog, BTW, you *must* check out http://andrewrilstone.blogspot.com/search/label/A Sceptic’s Guide to Richard Dawkins . Rilstone is one of the most intelligent writers on a vast number of subjects out there…

    Interesting that Sean picks up on Dawkins not understanding what a story is – a very valid and true criticism – because one of the big problems with him as a ‘scientist’ is he invents these unscientific Just So Stories and can’t tell the difference between them and actual science…

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