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Coffee! Fan mail for Richard Dawkins from, of all places, New Scientist

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I mean, really, whodathunkit? I haven’t got the book Greatest Show on Earth yet – Bantam’s publicist could always get in touch with me at oleary@sympatico.ca, if she wants to send me a copy.

What’s interesting to me is that Randy “Flock of Dodos” Olson, referring to Dawkins’s constant free insults, says

Dawkins provides a transcript of his interview with the president of Concerned Women for America which reads like a Monty Python skit as the woman, a bullheaded creationist, simply answers all of Dawkins’s sophisticated argumentation by saying she’s not convinced – like a cartoon character standing in front of a hail of bullets taunting, “You missed me.”

It’s a shame Dawkins couldn’t take a few tips from his atheist colleague Jerry Coyne. Coyne’s powerful and popular book [Why Evolution Is True] was, to quote Booklist, “far more presentational than disputatious”. That is a desperately needed attribute these days in making the convincing – and persuasive – case for evolution.

In short, Olson is virtually admitting that, in his view, Dawkins did not make a very effective case, but he does quite the fancy dance around admitting it.

Dawkins refuses to debate educated people who doubt his theories, like Michael Behe. People like Olson and institutions like New Scientist help him get away with this because they need to believe so badly that if they suspect he laid an egg, they could not admit it to themselves, never mind to others.

Anyway, Olson’s suggestion won’t work. No one believes for a moment that any of these people regard the public that pays their bills with other than the contempt born of sublime, unjustifiable arrogance. Not only does that attitude leak out all over, but – in my experience – in any situation where they get the upper hand, everyone else is expected to just shut up and believe whatever they say, even if what they say is as ridiculous as the ramblings of “evolutionary” psychology.

But things are changing. As I have written elsewhere, “evolutionary” psychology has started to take a well-deserved beating, despite the fact that evolutionary biologists have generally refused to denounce it. Their attitude reveals their reckless arrogance because, apart from a few figures like “selfish gene” Dawkins, they didn’t even create that monster!

They could have just cut loose nonsense like the Big Bazooms theory of human evolution without harm to their current beliefs, in the same way that the Catholic Church, which accepts miracles in principle, can say that a local housewife’s claims are “not of interest to the faithful.” But the Darwinists, unlike the Catholic Church, never thought that the good sense of educated non-members or doubters would matter. We’ll see.

hdx, Olson did not "say" that Dawkins did not make a very effective case, but he unfavourably compared his book to Jerry Coyne's, which is known in the field as "damning with faint praise." His review is a classic in the exculpatory tradition of book reviewing. If you don't get the subtleties, you should read more literature and more book reviews. Tajimas D, you had better read what DonaldM says at 2. Dawkins generally does not debate educated people who fundamentally disagree with his theses, and he publicly demeans them. His avid supporters lap it up, but if anything is becoming quite clear, it's the fact that the rest of the public isn't buying it. We are not nearly as stupid as some egotists suppose. VMartin, I wouldn't bother commenting at New Scientist. Comment here. We have a troll monitor, but you probably won't run into him. NS are the people who fronted Amanda Gefter's article that implied that the recent Mind-Brain-Body conference at the UN might be in some way related to the Seattle-based Discovery Institute - a view held by no one who knows anything about either organization. Oh, gosh, now THAT article was another one for the "Our brains are shaped for fitness, not for truth" files. O'Leary
Th problem of the New scientist is their new comment policy. I've tried to add a comment below Olson's article twice - both of my posts have been deleted. Obviously you can discuss some of minor Dawkins' ideas, but you can't challenge the (neo)darwinian nonsense itself. Not to speak about their bizarre concept of "natural selection". VMartin
Dawkins refuses to debate educated people who doubt his theories...
No, Dawkins has often engaged people who "doubt his theories". Much of the Extended Phenotype was a response to criticism about The Selfish Gene. What he refuses to do is debate creationists. And of creationists, there are almost none---excepting people like Kurt Wise who admit that they put faith above facts---who are educated in the field of evolutionary biology. Tajimas D
I didn’t forget. I didn’t bother.
And by not bothering you changed the context of Olson's statement from Dawkins not being effective because the certain people he is trying to convince don't have rational beliefs to "Dawkins did not make a very effective case" which are two very different things. hdx
I didn't forget. I didn't bother. People can read the Darwinists' contempt for the taxpayers who support them anywhere. But if they click on the link to New Scientist, they will not further feed the arrogance by actually paying. O'Leary
Dawkins refuses to debate educated people who doubt his theories, like Michael Behe. People like Olson and institutions like New Scientist help him get away with this because they need to believe so badly that if they suspect he laid an egg, they could not admit it to themselves, never mind to others.
On several occaisions Dawkins has said he won't debate the likes of Behe or Dembski or William Lane Craig or anyone else of note because, he says, appearing on the same stage with them will give their worldview credibility, which he wants to be careful to not let happen. In other words Dawkins is saying, "if I allow these cretins to appear on the same platform with me, Richard Dawkins the Great, then I run the risk that someone might think that I think these ignorant boobs have a degree of academic respectibility, when, in fact, they aren't worthy of anyone's respect, let alone attention. So, no, I will not give them oxygen by being seen on public platform with them!" I've actually heard Dawkins use the phrase "I won't give them oxygen..." The arrogance of this stance is papable, but not surprising coming from him. Of course, the real reason he won't debate anyone of note from either the theist or ID camps is because deep down he knows he'll get his clocked cleaned on logical grounds alone, let alone substance. Dawkins, I've come to realize, is little more than an atheistic, Darwinian hit-and-run man. He'll use a bat to bash those with whom he disagrees while he's runs by in the dark, and then run off and hide rather than confront them directly. I really do feel sorry for him. DonaldM
You forget to add what Olson really thinks, that Dawkins shouldn't even bother with people like the president of Concerned Women for America. The two lines before what you quote:
But in the end, you have to wonder why Dawkins wastes so much time trying to argue with creationists. We all know that creationists are not rational thinkers. They are driven by beliefs, not by logic.

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