Dawkins: Mock them. Ridicule them! In public.

Here is Dawkin’s speech at the Reason Rally.

Early on, Dawkins asks who could be opposed to a reason rally?  Not me.  The problem is that the New Atheist movement has no monopoly on reason.  On the contrary, there are many aspects of the New Atheist movement that run contrary to reason.  For example, we have just seen how New Atheists leaders are not only spreading misinformation about the way science works, but also contradict themselves when doing so (see here and here) . It is not reason that is behind this misinformation and intellectual inconsistency.

What’s worse is that when you get to the last third of his speech, Dawkins encourages the masses to publicly ridicule the beliefs of religious people.

He instructs his followers to ask Christians if they really believe what they believe.  He then says something that draws much applause from the Reason Rally crowd:

Mock them. Ridicule them! In public.

He also says that religion makes claims that

need to be ridiculed with contempt.

Three insights follow from this call to publicly ridicule.

First, the appeal to ridicule is a logical fallacy.  So the leader of the Reason Movement is promoting and encouraging others to promote logical fallacies.  After all, here is an example of reason from the Reason Rally that was quite popular among the atheists:

Reason at Work at the Reason Rally

Secondly, when a movement adopts ridicule as a tool, it is engaged in propaganda.  And as any social scientist will tell you, propaganda is not the same as reason.  Not long ago, Dawkins floated the objective behind this propagandistic strategy:

I suspect that most of our regular readers here would agree that ridicule, of a humorous nature, is likely to be more effective than the sort of snuggling-up and head-patting that Jerry is attacking. I lately started to think that we need to go further: go beyond humorous ridicule, sharpen our barbs to a point where they really hurt.

Michael Shermer, Michael Ruse, Eugenie Scott and others are probably right that contemptuous ridicule is not an expedient way to change the minds of those who are deeply religious. But I think we should probably abandon the irremediably religious precisely because that is what they are – irremediable. I am more interested in the fence-sitters who haven’t really considered the question very long or very carefully. And I think that they are likely to be swayed by a display of naked contempt. Nobody likes to be laughed at. Nobody wants to be the butt of contempt.

Clearly, Dawkins has abandoned reason as a method of convincing others and instead has opted to manipulate opinion through the use of ridicule and mocking.  He, of course, is free to do so.  But the man who claims to champion reason should be honest about his abandonment of reason in favor of using propaganda.

Third, if a person or group relies on ridicule to oppose a belief, they should be honest enough to admit they are closed-minded about that belief.  For once you have reached the point where you ridicule another belief, you have crossed the point to where you cannot reasonably claim to be open-minded about the belief.

Add up these insights and what do you have?  A group of closed-minded people who promote logical fallacies and rely on propaganda to achieve their objective.

And they labeled their gathering the “Reason Rally.”

 

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5 Responses to Dawkins: Mock them. Ridicule them! In public.

  1. megletroid says:

    He didn’t make an appeal to ridicule, he made an appeal for people to ridicule. It is not the same as the logical fallacy, as there is no claim inherent in it.

    Point two is probably correct.

    Point three is a nonsense though, as it misunderstands the very meaning of the word “belief”.

  2. Michael says:

    He didn’t make an appeal to ridicule, he made an appeal for people to ridicule. It is not the same as the logical fallacy, as there is no claim inherent in it.

    I wrote, “So the leader of the Reason Movement is promoting and encouraging others to promote logical fallacies.”

    Point three is a nonsense though, as it misunderstands the very meaning of the word “belief”.

    No, what is nonsense is to think that someone can remain open-minded about a belief they mock and ridicule. Mocking and ridicule are signs of contempt, all of which follows from adopting a closed-mind on the issue.

  3. thinkingchristian says:

    He didn’t make an appeal to ridicule, he made an appeal for people to ridicule. It is not the same as the logical fallacy, as there is no claim inherent in it.

    You are correct that if there is no argument, then there is no fallacy. But would you not agree that urging persons to ridicule others subverts the reasoning process? It moves the discussion onto emotional ground rather than logical ground. It promotes dismissing rather than evaluating others’ positions. It invites, even hopes for, a response in kind, a tit for tat, rather than calling forth a reasoned answer.

    Dawkins also endorsed the tactic of contempt. That takes it a step further, for it is even more closed off than ridicule.

    And let me add this as one who was there at Dawkins’ speech yesterday, and of course most of the rest of the Reason Rally. This is not just a logical error he and others are making. It is an interpersonal one of stereotyping, treating Christians as uniformly stupid and unthinking. It is both false and bigoted. And hypocritical on their part, for you can be sure they reject all bigotry, right?

  4. Samuel Adams says:

    So if someone comes up to you and says 2+2=5, you’re going to say nothing?

    How about if they insisted on teaching your children that? Would you STILL say nothing?

    How about if they try and pass laws that would take away our Constitutional Rights if you didn’t also publicly proclaim that 2+2=5? Would you STILL stay silent?

    If so – you’re just as ignorant as the people who believe that 2+2=5 or Christianity. They are deluded, and so are you.

    Here’s another one: would you allow a neurosurgeon to operate on YOUR brain (or how about your daughter’s?) if they professed a certain belief that aliens talked to them and gave them guidance? So why would you allow one that’s a Christian, who talks with spooks and ghosts, and bases their beliefs on a book of fables and fairy tales?

  5. Michael says:

    If so – you’re just as ignorant as the people who believe that 2+2=5 or Christianity. They are deluded, and so are you.

    A guy who posts paranoid “theocracy is coming!” nonsense accused me of being deluded.

    Here’s another one: would you allow a neurosurgeon to operate on YOUR brain (or how about your daughter’s?) if they professed a certain belief that aliens talked to them and gave them guidance? So why would you allow one that’s a Christian, who talks with spooks and ghosts, and bases their beliefs on a book of fables and fairy tales?

    This argument is popular in the Cult of Gnu. Of course, there is not a shred of evidence that religious neurosurgeons are any worse than secular ones. Clearly, the Gnus like to delude themselves with their own sophistry.

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