Dawkins Quietly Tosses Inner Circles Into the Memory Hole

While Gnu Atheists seethed and lashed out at Andrew Brown, the evidence indicates Brown’s criticisms struck a very raw nerve.

From Dhay:

Interesting: the Richard Dawkins Foundation has responded to the criticism and ridicule by reducing the number of circles from six to three — my favourite “Fifth Horseman” circle has disappeared — and the maximum annual donation now being solicited is down from $500,000 to a paltry $9,999.

Why do you think Dawkins so quietly made this change?

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10 Responses to Dawkins Quietly Tosses Inner Circles Into the Memory Hole

  1. GM says:

    Somewhere, some poor bastard is staring at his gaming rig PC in utter, shattering disbelief. “I was going to be the fifth horseman…”

  2. Tom Gilson says:

    Do you really think Dawkins had a choice?

    Or put it this way: if he had left all the circles intact, would there have been anyone there in the inner circle? Or would it have embarrassingly empty?

  3. TFBW says:

    I think that the decision to withdraw the top tiers was a PR move related to the fact that they were getting him publicly compared to a money-grubbing televangelist. Truth be known, the top tiers are probably still available to those who have the wherewithal to purchase a place in the inner circle, and inquire discreetly.

    Bear in mind that Charles Simonyi once provided an endowment which established the “Simonyi Professorship for the Public Understanding of Science” especially for Dawkins. Simonyi might be his only billionaire fan, but it’s not far fetched to think that there might be a few more multi-millionaire anti-theists out there who would like to purchase that sort of social status.

  4. GM says:

    In all seriousness, I’d be willing to give the Dawkins Foundation the benefit of the doubt that this was something that had been in the works. Dawkins has, as far as I can see, spent most of his cultural momentum capital, and thus gone are the days when he could attach a sit-down with his-truly to a six figure price tag. At least with a straight face. I would guess that given the Brown article, the publicists decided that now was the time to pull the trigger on the reduction plan.

    No matter what it’s pretty fascinating. I would have thought Dawkins would have at least replied in some way, if not double down. If this is a sign of decline in the new atheist cultural cache, I would caution against too much Christian triumphalism. I really think this brand of atheism ran straight into the true 800lb gorilla of Western culture: secular postmodernism. Dawkins just broke too many rules in public to avoid the scouring of the rights-focused morality of left-leaning deconstructionism.

    Yes, I’m kind of jacking the thread…

    The Western university has an amusing (to me) problem. In becoming dogmatically secular, you’re basically left with two dominant mindsets: The scientific naturalist on one end of the campus who says “there is no God because (insert appeal to a certain version of positivism, etc, we’re all familiar, yes) and we are willing to jettison any metaphysical idea as rubbish that doesn’t fall under our purview. But then on the other side of campus, you’ve got the humanities department who doesn’t really care if there is a god or not, what matters is free-play and infinite moral skepticism as a matter of preserving whatever personal rights they can affix to themselves. The former is a reduction, but still a preservation, of absolute truth. The latter willingly and admittedly functions on a cognitive dissonance when it comes to ALL matters of truth. When it comes to who gets the keys to the kingdom, these people are ready to eat each other.

    I think while postmodernism is collapsing in on itself, what’s left of it will not let modernism back in the door of culture-formation. This is the real challenge. While the New Atheists made public debate a spectator sport, I can’t recall a significant debate since the rise of the NA movement that would make headlines involving a really entrenched postmodernist. That’s because postmodernism is a force of cultural formation, almost exclusively, and anything that doesn’t fit with the established culture just gets shamed into obscurity. So, Dawkins’ downfall was tweeting the wrong things into the deconstructing ether. Whether or not he was right about God doesn’t matter nearly as much to western culture as it does his views on privilege and rights.

  5. GM says:

    I wonder how much money we’d have to donate to the RDFRS to have Dawkins, on live TV, sit across a table with a teenager with downs syndrome and explain to her why her parents should have killed her before she had emotions, and then explain to them why they have nothing to contribute due to their parents immoral decision.

  6. Bilbo says:

    If we’re lucky, he’ll do it for free on Twitter.

  7. TFBW says:

    UD also has a follow-up, in which P. Z. Myers rebukes Dawkins, saying, “it is not immoral to have a child with Downs. It is immoral to insist that a fetus with Down Syndrome should be aborted.” (Emphasis in original.) So confusing. How do I tell which one is right? Surely the science of bioethics has determined the moral fact of the matter by now? Where’s Sam Harris when I need him?

  8. GM says:

    There’s a pretty palpable sense of panic on a lot of the posts on FTB about this. People calling for this to be “buried, now.” and only-half-joking speculations as to whether or not Dawkins is being paid to make atheism look bad.

    I think he’s basically one tweet away from truly resetting the popularized angry atheism phenomenon clock. It’ll be another 20 years before anyone has a chance to reach his level of popularity using the same tactics at this point.

  9. Dhay says:

    Seeing that the RDF facebook page is urging, “Help support RDFRS and receive benefits by becoming a member! More info: https://richarddawkins.net/join/“, I took a look and found that the six circles which became three circles have now become eight circles.

    The circles and benefits are:
    1. Supporting Member – $25 a year

    Weekly newsletter, advance invitations to all RDFRS public events, a discount to our online store, and a personalized membership card

    Wow, you can see who this is aimed at — anybody who is pretentious enough to want to boast that they are a Member of the prestigious Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, and imagines the letters MRDFRS after their name.

    2. Selfish Gene Level – $60 a year

    Add a lapel pin

    3. Blind Watchmaker Level – $120 a year

    Add a swag bag of RDFRS merchandise

    4. Ancestor’s Tale Level – $180 a year

    Add a Premium swag bag of RDFRS merchandise, including a Surprise Book from the RDFRS Reading List

    These must be truly wonderful if capitalised for emphasis.

    5. God Delusion Level – $240 a year

    Add an invitation to participate in an annual Member-Only Online conversation with Richard

    I imagine this will be like Dawkins’ “Good” (ie simpering adulation) letters, except that on this one(?) day a year Dawkins actually replies, and says something simpering back.

    “Dawkins Circle” levels start here.

    6. Reason Circle – $1,000 a year

    Invitation to Dawkins Circle member-only event, Member-only discount for all purchases in the richarddawkins store

    But they are all already getting a store discount: perhaps this is a bigger discount; or perhaps not. And there’s no mention of that all-important card to prove you are a MRDFS, or of the lapel pin, Premium swag bag, and Surprise Book, etc.

    7. Science Circle – $2,500 a year

    Add one guest ticket to an invitation-only Dawkins Circle event with Richard

    Hey, if you join the “Reason Circle” twice, you can save yourself $500 a year; and if there are additional goodies like a lapel pin, Premium swag bag, Surprise Book, etc., you get them twice. You’d have to be stupid not to realise that. Perhaps this tells us something about the level of intelligence the “Science Circle” is aimed at.

    8. Darwin Circle – $5,000 a year

    Add two guest tickets to an invitation-only Dawkins Circle event with Richard.

    Hey, if you join the “Reason Circle” three times, you can save yourself $2,000. And get triple goodies (if there are any).
    Or if the wording means you end up with four tickets, not three, join the “Reason Circle” four times, save yourself $1,000, and get quadruple goodies.
    So the “Darwin Circle” must be for really thick people.

    Despite the effective increase in membership levels of circles, the amounts being asked for are considerably down from August 2014. At that time, $500,000 would get you the special bonus of breakfast with Dawkins and the RDF’s director. $500,000! Plainly, the RDF was desperate for extra money.

    Suggestions that the RDF might have been, or continues to be, concerned to ensure it has sufficient funds to cover any demands for back tax — should its tax-free charitable status ever be removed — are of course speculation.

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