Dawkins Poe’d Again?

Dawkins, ever the publicity hound, returns to some more of his “hate mail.” Note that the video begins with the following claim:

Because most of the letters were written by Religious Fundamentalists, viewer discretion is advised.

Of course, this type of claim simply exposes the hypocrisy of Dawkins and his organization. While Dawkins pompously preaches the need to support truth claims with evidence, once again we note there is no evidence that “most of the letters were written by Religious Fundamentalists.” None. In fact, Dawkins and his organization make no effort to provide any evidence to support their truth claims. Instead, after years of denigrating faith, Dawkins expects us all to accept his truth claim on faith.

Dawkins is oblivious to an alternative explanation that is just as plausible as his truth claim: most of the letters were written by Atheists impersonating Religious Fundamentalists. It’s called getting “Poe’d,” a common phenomenon among atheists on the internet. Those of us who know how to think like scientists can only marvel at Dawkins’ tremendous blind spot and inability to detect such an obvious alternative.

As we can see, New Atheist claims about “evidence” and “faith” are not rooted in reason and principle. The New Atheists only care about “evidence” and denigrate “faith” when they think they are scoring anti-religious points. This indicates that their posturing about evidence and faith are instead rooted in bigotry and opportunism.

One thing is clear. Since Dawkins has made it clear he will continue to publicize his “hate mail” with cutesy little videos that get hundreds of thousands of hits, atheists who enjoy poe-ing surely have a juicy opportunity for having fun while being a good and faithful culture warrior.

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75 Responses to Dawkins Poe’d Again?

  1. Allallt says:

    If you know how to think like a scientist, how do you do a Bayesian analysis to identify that being Poe’d is as likely as the letters being sincere?

  2. Dhay says:

    Allallt > If you know how to think like a scientist, how do you do a Bayesian analysis to identify that being Poe’d is as likely as the letters being sincere?

    Actually, if you look back through statistician WM Briggs’ blog, you will find him repeatedly bemoaning that the vast majority of scientists are ‘frequentists’ who do not use Bayesian analyses, ever (and also bemoaning that their understanding of even ‘frequentist’ statistics is poor.) Very, very few scientists do Bayesian analyses.

    To answer your question as literally put, any decent statistical textbook will tell you how to do Bayesian analyses: I look forward to viewing your own calculations. A good scientist will at least weigh the evidence, using whatever methods are appropriate, before drawing conclusions. Michael knows this, I am sure, whereas it is evident that Dawkins does not and is behaving as a poor scientist.

    If you want an analysis of why Dawkins’ certainty that these e-mails are not Poes, please do extend yourself to at least read the lengthy analyses which Michael and I made of the e-mails which his previous video were based on, and which you will find in, and in response to, Michael’s December 05 2014 “I Need Evidence” blog. I analysed a good many of Dawkins’ “Ugly” e-mails, and stopped where I did because I considered my point already amply made.

    If you wish to dispute our analyses, please do so in here in this response thread, as some two thirds of Dawkins’ e-mails in this latest video are from that very same analysed batch of old e-mails. Or if you do not wish to dispute the analyses, please refrain from the rabbit-hole of asking for a Bayesian analysis of what seems to be overwhelming evidence.

    It is actually a mistake to consider the e-mails in terms of science — what experiments could one perform, and on precisely what? The e-mails are English Literature, or perhaps English Language, and should be analysed accordingly.

    I note that you seem to have inferred that Michael thinks that “being Poe’d is as likely as the letters being sincere”; as I believe he has now explained to you several times in similarly-themed posts, he doesn’t; could I suggest you apply some basic English Literature and English Language skills, including actually reading his post.

  3. TFBW says:

    Allallt said:

    … how do you do a Bayesian analysis to identify that being Poe’d is as likely as the letters being sincere?

    Allallt, it seems that you are pretending to know what you don’t know — and no, I’m not going to describe that as “faith”, I’m going to describe it as “bluffing”. “Bayes’ theorem is a theorem prescribing how probabilities are to be changed in the light of new evidence.” (A. F. Chalmers, What is This Thing Called Science?, 3rd ed, ch. 12) You wouldn’t use Bayes’ theorem to determine the ratio of Poes to genuine nuts: you would use ordinary statistical analysis for that, assuming that you could actually distinguish between the two with any reliability. Bayes theorem could come into play if you were hypothesising that a particular message is a Poe, and relevant new evidence came to light, such as an identical message being found elsewhere under a different name, but that’s a very different problem to the one you described.

    Your inapt reference to Bayes aside, however, you are more or less on the right track. If you are thinking like a scientist, then you will at least be considering the question as to whether the email is a Poe or a genuine nut. How you might go about answering it using empirical evidence, such that you reach correct answers with greater probability than random guessing, is a different (and much more complex) question. Note, however, that Dawkins hasn’t even considered the question. That’s the irony being highlighted here: Dawkins, who promotes himself as a paragon of scientific atheism, is simply assuming that these things are genuine because they match his bigoted notion of what religious people are like.

  4. Dhay says:

    Jerry Coyne re-posts Richard Dawkins’ “Love Letters to Richard Dawkins” video, on his 21 January 2015 blog entitled, “Richard Dawkins reads his hate mail: Part 2”, and evidently delights in it.

    Let’s analyse these “love letters” for Allallt, who doesn’t seem to be able to handle the task himself: on a quick count of the “love letter” mails, and using a Google search for the origin of each, I find that of the seventeen mails, no fewer than eleven were from the Old Richard Dawkins (http://old.richarddawkins.net/letters/ugly) website and were sent before 20 August 2012. Michael and I have already looked at and demolished these — remember “EVELOOTON”? — as bearing such marks of copy-cat trolls as “freemason”, “gay”, “faggot”, “sodomy”, “suck Chomsky’s dick” or “make love to monkeys”; or as bearing other marks of copy-cat trolls, such as canned laughter (“ha ha ha aha ha ha”), CAPITALS, long strings of “!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”, and patent absurdities — winking smileys, really — such as “LOOTING THOSE GOD FEARING HEROES”, Ash Hanna’s “many” anti-Christs, “You wish you could be a bacteria instead of a human”, “From your neighborhood Jesus Freak”, “I WILL BE BACK, TROLLING…”, and the hilarious “Fuck you, u fuckity fucker”.

    Copy-cat trolling is where a troll looks to see what has had maximum impact previously, and copies the style, content, or both to achieve something of similar impact; alternatively, it indicates someone so clueless about their subject-matter that they have to look at other mails to see what the subject-matter should look like. When you see copy-cat mails, you can expect that here is someone who is a trolling Poe, someone ignorant of what they “ought” to be saying, who has to pick it up from the example of others.

    One of these old mails includes, “Your famed intelligence is nothing more than the fart of God”, which is revealing; I find it, followed by different words than Dawkins quotes in the video, ie “You suck. Go burn in hell. Satan will enjoy torturing you”, instead of, “You are one of those unfortunate ones that need GOD to shove it in your FACE”, in an August 2008 Guardian article: if there are two different versions, that means either Dawkins has taken liberties with the wording of a single mail, or someone has spotted that including “fart of God” gets your mail noticed and has copy-cat trolled it, including the entirety of a very distinctive (and absurd — winking smiley alert!) sentence.

    Of the remaining six, they seem, as quoted by Dawkins, to consist of personal abuse. Um, “You need to be killed in a plane crash or a flamethrower accident” is in one; absurdly over the top, that looks just like a winking smiley to me.

    When I looked at the Dawkins’ old site’s “Ugly” page to analyse the mails presented in the previous “love mail” video, I am sure that the equivalent “Good”, “Bad” and “Ugly” pages were present on the new website. I don’t find these pages now, nor those six most recent mails which presumably adorned the new “Ugly” page, So I presume that Dawkins has decided to remove those pages — while flaunting what are presumably the six worst alleged hate-mails in this new video.

    The banner for Dawkins’ video confidently declares that the “love mail” is from religious fundamentalists. I am reminded of the story of a lawnmower manufacturer who included in the warranty registration document a short questionnaire including the question, “Do you have a lawn”; the story goes that the manufacturer was startled to discover that a large percentage of lawnmower purchasers said they did not have a lawn. Although I expect the lawnmower manufacturer eventually put two and two together, it seems Dawkins, Coyne and the many other who are just lapping up this “love mail” as the real thing, seem unable to do so.

    Coyne reports that the YouTube notes describe the video as read out in “a candid moment”. “Candid” is a strange term, for the video is certainly not filmed without Dawkins’ awareness — it is obviously carefully set up — nor, in view of the deliberate omission of the fact that these are mostly old mails, is Dawkins being open and honest; presumably it just means that Dawkins parades “fuck you” and other abuse.

    Coyne finishes:

    “What this shows is that Dawkins has a sense of humor about all this—something denied by his opponents, and something very different from a few other atheists who flaunt their hate mail to paint themselves as victims, and even to push themselves further into the public eye. Don’t get me wrong: such mail can be disturbing, and people need to know how awful these trolls can be. But I don’t think their hatred should be turned into a form of self-aggrandizing publicity. Everyone who takes unpopular stands on the Internet receives this kind of stuff.”
    https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2015/01/21/richard-dawkins-reads-his-hate-mail-part-2/

    Well no, what it shows is not that Dawkins has a sense of humour, but that he delights to sneer. And Coyne has just made the point. made earlier in Shadow to Light, that “Atheists Sure Seem to Enjoy Their Hate Mail”.

    Let’s look at the last bit again: “… very different from a few other atheists who flaunt their hate mail to paint themselves as victims, and even to push themselves further into the public eye … Don’t get me wrong: such mail can be disturbing, and people need to know how awful these trolls can be. But I don’t think their hatred should be turned into a form of self-aggrandizing publicity.” Yep, you read it: Coyne has here attacked his friend Dawkins as flaunting his hate mail, painting himself as a victim, and pushing himself into the public eye; and attacked Dawkins’ video as “a form of self-aggrandizing publicity”.

    If one wants to know how disturbing such mails can be, and “how awful these trolls can be”, just look at Coyne’s own blog: “Fuck the Pope”, indeed; or Comment #20: ”Ha! Fuck you pope dick breath! You violent piece of adult diaper shit!” — that’s the entirety of that comment. What Coyne posts or allows approvingly, Coyne is saying himself, the awful troll.

    Another way of looking at Dawkins’ “Love Letters to Richard Dawkins” video is that he is using mails which are reasonably arguably Poes to troll the religious; Dawkins, too, is arguably an awful troll.

  5. Michael says:

    Allallt,

    Both Dhay and TFBW have already provided excellent replies to your question.

  6. Dhay says:

    Richard Dawkins has had to dredge up hate mails from his old site to bulk up his hate mail; two-thirds date from before 21 August 2012; six is it, since; he’s not exactly getting a flood of them, is he.

    Heck, the Pope has recently got more abuse from just one blog post — using ‘Mr Deity’ as his mouthpiece — from Jerry Coyne, together with those of Coyne’s acolytes who joined in the abuse of the Pope and — viciously — his mother in the comments. What awful trolls.

  7. Allallt says:

    No they haven’t.

  8. Dhay says:

    Allallt > No they haven’t.

    You really are a drive-by pot-shot merchant, aren’t you: I’d call you an attention-seeking troll. You reply to the opening post with a single sentence which shows you are clearly not very bright, and that you didn’t bother to actually read and understand the post. TFBW and I have taken the trouble to reply to you — and more importantly to others, for I really do not think you are worth the bother — at great length, to which you have replied with a mere assertion, one that is just three words in length, and which is as I have come to expect from you devoid of argument or any attempt at serious engagement.

  9. Billy Squibs says:

    Ah, thanks for clarifying that Allallt. You win.

    But here is a thought experiment for you – and in a sense it requires you to step outside yourself and your biases to answer honsetly.

    Let’s pretend that we are on an atheistic leaning blog and the same conversation was played out but this time with a user called tllallA. Now imagine if tllallA’s retort to a claim that his opening comment has been effectively critiqued by two different commenters was “No they haven’t”. But sadly he gave us no counter argument and no defence of his position. Only this one short reply.

    Would you be satisfied with this?

  10. Billy Squibs says:

    Dhay, I would suggest that Allallt’s intelligence should not be in question here. What is in question is whether Allallt can justify his claim or if he will he really give an empty retort and then exit the conversation via the door that says “Intellectually dishonest”. A person could be as thick as two planks and actually be willing to either a) attempt to provide a defence of their position or b) admit that their claim appears to rest on shakier ground than they otherwise thought. Intellectual dishonesty – e.g. refusing to engage with critiques – is a choice and therefore a personality fault.

  11. Your excuse for your fellow Christians would also mean that all of the vile letters to the Freedom from Religion Foundation, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, myself, many atheists, and secular organizations like the ACLU, etc are all being supposedly “poe’d” alas, many many Christians aren’t very nice people at all and are ignorant bigots. Why is it so hard to admit that Christians could and have written such letters to atheists like those Dawkins wrote? To complain that some are old seems to miss the point. The point is that Christians, who claim to love a loving god, to turn the other cheek, to be the meek who inherit the earth, are nothing like they and their fellows claim to be. One cannot claim that such people aren’t True Christians, because the bible itself also advocates to be violent to unbelievers, all through the OT, and in the NT too, culminating with the revenge fantasy in Revelation.

  12. Billy Squibs says:

    A couple of points followed by some questions.

    1) I don’t believe that anyone is denying that Christians may have written nasty missives or crude, insulting emails. I think it is almost certain they did. However, if I am understanding Michael correctly his point is that a self-style rationalist and freethinker like RD is talking out both side of his mouth when he accepts that these must have come from Christians rather than, say, an atheist hoping to score points.
    2) Both God and the Bible are proper nouns and are therefore capitalised.

    a) Can you please elaborate on your claims that follow after you wrote “such people aren’t True Christians because …”? Can you provide me with supporting verses and tell me how you think they fit into the broader context of the passage or even the book.

    b) When you say that “many, many Christians aren’t very nice people at all and are ignorant bigots” what makes you think this? Can you provide us with some figures – a rough percentage – of how many Christians are “aren’t very nice people at all and are ignorant bigots”? Can you explain in what way they demonstrate the unpleasant character traits of not being nice and bigotry?

  13. Kevin says:

    And could you also provide passages where Christians are told to be violent to unbelievers? I’ll even give you a hint: Christians didn’t exist before Christ, and quite a bit changed doctrinally after Christ.

    So yes. Either provide verses, or admit you lied, or admit you drank the Gnu kool-aid and don’t have a clue what you’re talking about.

  14. Dhay says:

    clubschadenfreude > Your excuse for your fellow Christians would also mean that all of the vile letters to the Freedom from Religion Foundation, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, myself, many atheists, and secular organizations like the ACLU, etc are all being supposedly “poe’d”

    Nobody here claims “all” of the mails are Poes, only that it is highly inappropriate for the recipients to claim that “all” of the mails are from religious fundamentalists, when with a little study it is obvious that most of the mails to Richard Dawkins — I have not looked at the other websites — could be Poes, and many of them probably are Poes. I have given my reasons already, so will not repeat them here.

    > alas, many many Christians aren’t very nice people at all and are ignorant bigots. Why is it so hard to admit that Christians could and have written such letters to atheists like those Dawkins wrote?

    I am sure that there are indeed some Christians who aren’t very nice people at all, and are ‘pig-ignorant’ (as the idiom has it) bigots who could have sent such mails to Richard Dawkins. On the other hand, many of the mailers are copy-cat trolls, and I judge that the people most likely to resort to copy-cat trolling are those who must do so, because they are genuinely ignorant (lacking knowledge of Christian teaching), namely atheist trolls.

    > To complain that some are old seems to miss the point.

    Not a complaint, but the observation that the implied flood of hate mail since the previous video is actually a trickle, and that two-thirds of Dawkins’ hate mails read out in the second video pre-date his first video, hence are definitely not new mails as implied by their description as a “second batch”.

    Billy Squibs and Kevin have responded to the last assertion, so I’ll let you respond to them.

  15. Michael says:

    Your excuse for your fellow Christians

    You are confused. I made no “excuse” for any “fellow Christians.” I simply highlighted the fact that Richard Dawkins has no evidence to support his truth claim. I understand that Dawkins, and you, want to believe most of those letters were from “Religious Fundamentalist,” but you need to come to terms with the reality that your belief is rooted in faith, not evidence. All of this is most amusing given the way New Atheists posture as if they highly value evidence and disdain faith.

    would also mean that all of the vile letters to the Freedom from Religion Foundation, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, myself, many atheists, and secular organizations like the ACLU, etc are all being supposedly “poe’d”

    No, it would not mean that all of the vile letters were Poes. Look, you need to ask yourself what type of person would send Dawkins “hate mail.” I can think of at least 4 categories. You and Dawkins are stuck at level 1 – you can think of only one category.

    alas, many many Christians aren’t very nice people at all and are ignorant bigots.

    alas, many many Atheists aren’t very honest.

    Why is it so hard to admit that Christians could and have written such letters to atheists like those Dawkins wrote?

    Why is it so hard to admit that internet atheists have a long tradition of pretending to be irrational, hateful Christians?

    To complain that some are old seems to miss the point. The point is that Christians, who claim to love a loving god, to turn the other cheek, to be the meek who inherit the earth, are nothing like they and their fellows claim to be.

    Ding, ding, ding. Thank you for admitting Dawkins’ readings have “a point.” What’s “the point” of it all? The point is that Christians, who claim to love a loving god, to turn the other cheek, to be the meek who inherit the earth, are nothing like they and their fellows claim to be. Ah, the smell of propaganda in the evening.

    What you have stumbled upon here is further reason to distrust Dawkins’ “hate mails.” Since the point of it all is to denigrate religious people, and those who are making the point are anti-religious activists and bigots, the fact that Dawkins has no evidence to back up his “point” is all the more meaningful.

  16. Michael says:

    No they haven’t.

    Yes they have.

  17. Dhay says:

    Interesting: looking down the comments on YouTube, there’s various commenters, presumably atheists, or perhaps Poes pretending to be atheists, whose comments look rather like Richard Dawkins’ hate mail. My favourite is this, from a Mark Solezo:

    “These goD fucking people need a aggressive virus to wipe them out! All religious freaks, imbeciles christians, muslins, all that non-sense useless crap need to fucking die. Piece of shit judge mental motherfuckers. BEEEE CHHES”

    Spelling mistakes and lousy grammar, incorrect caPitalisation, “fucking”, extreme virulence, all religious people “need to fucking die”, “wipe them out!”, “judge mental”, CAPITALS: this shows a good number of the characteristic marks displayed in the mails of the trolls who have trolled Dawkins. This comment is a hate mail.

    It displays so many marks characteristic of Dawkins’ hate mail, that I have to wonder whether Mark Solezo has trolled Dawkins and has had one or more of his troll mails read out by Dawkins. If so, Solezo’s an agnostic troll, parodying fundamentalist Christian and fundamentalist New Atheist alike.

  18. Allallt says:

    Maybe I should re-phrase my question. It seems that brevity is seen as a weakness, so I’ll bulk it out with unnecessary self reference like this sentence.
    The post claims the realities ‘theists sincerely wrote these emails’ and ‘trolls insincerely wrote these emails’ are “just as plausible”. This does require a Bayesian analysis, because it requires establishing prior probabilities.
    TFBW quoted “Bayes’ theorem is a theorem prescribing how probabilities are to be changed in the light of new evidence”, but that’s precisely my point. A Bayesian analysis requires establishing prior probabilities (which can then be used to identify how they change in the light of evidence). TFBW hasn’t answered my question, instead just tried to dodge it.
    Dhay is talking about Dawkins’ certainty. I am not. I am talking about the claim made in the post that these emails are just as plausibly what they appear to be as they are to be fakes.
    I ask for two reasons. Firstly, the video claims “most of the letters were written by Religious Fundamentalists”, not ‘all’. Secondly, and thank you to TFBW for alluding to this, because distinguishing between the two is unreliable and so you cannot make the claim that the two options are “just are plausible”.
    So, again, how is it that you establish the approximately equal probability of the emails being insincere or sincere?

  19. Michael says:

    I never claimed to have established equal probability. I proposed the Poe explanation as one that was just as plausible as Dawkins’ explanation. I did this after noting there was no evidence to support Dawkins explanation. Since there is no evidence to support Dawkins explanation, then any other plausible explanation will be just as plausible. If you disagree, and think Dawkins explanation is more plausible that the Poe explanation, please share your Bayesian analysis.

  20. Allallt says:

    You feel that “just as plausible” is not synonymous with “just as likely” in this context?
    If yes, how do you define “just as plausible”?
    I haven’t argued they aren’t as likely as each other. I simply asked you how you reached that conclusion. You’ve now answered, by saying there’s no evidence either way, therefore they are equally plausible. But that simple isn’t a valid method.
    Take this exaggerated example to see why, in the absence of evidence, not all speculation is equally likely: I was counting up loose change yesterday so that I could buy milk without breaking a £5 note. I had managed to get to about £1.05 before I looked in an envelope on a kitchen shelf. There was £1 there, which took my total high enough to go buy milk, but the initial £1.05 was not where I thought I had put it down. I never did find that initial £1.05. The answers “I put it down somewhere absent mindedly and confabulated” and “rabbits sneaked in and stole the coins” are not equally plausible. But both have equal (read: no) evidence in their defence.

  21. Crude says:

    You’ve now answered, by saying there’s no evidence either way, therefore they are equally plausible. But that simple isn’t a valid method.

    Alright. Let’s see your example.

    The answers “I put it down somewhere absent mindedly and confabulated” and “rabbits sneaked in and stole the coins” are not equally plausible. But both have equal (read: no) evidence in their defence.

    Doesn’t seem to be the case.

    ‘Known behavior of yourself.’
    ‘Known behavior of rabbits.’

    To name just two bits of evidence to help distinguish between the two claims.

  22. Michael says:

    Your analogy breaks down because rabbits sneaking into your house to steal coins is not a plausible explanation. Say you lived with a roommate who has a history of stealing from you. In that case, the answers “I put it down somewhere absent mindedly and confabulated” and “my roommate stole the coins” would be equally plausible.

    In this case, atheists do have a history of impersonating Christians. It is so common it has received its own label – “Poe”

    Look, do you agree with Dawkins that most of those letters were sent by “Religious Fundamentalists?”

  23. Allallt says:

    So you agree that a lack of evidence does not mean equal plausibility? Thus, the reasoning you’ve used establish equal plausibility doesn’t work.
    What you’re arguing is that because Poes exist it is as plausible that the letters have Poe authors as sincere ones. I’m saying that you don’t have enough evidence (either physical or statistical) to make that claim.
    I don’t know whether most of the letters were written by religious fundamentalists, as the video claims. But I sent the Foundation an email to ask how they established that instead of just accusing Dawkins of being dishonest.
    You are free to peruse my blog to see if you can find a place where I bandy around criticisms and certainty where they simply don’t belong (just in case you think I’m a hypocrite as well).

  24. Michael says:

    So you agree that a lack of evidence does not mean equal plausibility? Thus, the reasoning you’ve used establish equal plausibility doesn’t work.

    Wrong. As we have seen, if you have two plausible explanations, but neither one is supported by any evidence, then neither one is more plausible than the other. They would both be equally plausible. Of course, at this point, one can try to gather evidence to help choose between the alternatives. You keep overlooking the fact that I raise this in response to Dawkins publicly insisting one explanation is far more plausible than the other(to the point where he won’t even mention the other possibility), yet has no evidence to back up that claim.

    What you’re arguing is that because Poes exist it is as plausible that the letters have Poe authors as sincere ones. I’m saying that you don’t have enough evidence (either physical or statistical) to make that claim.


    I don’t know whether most of the letters were written by religious fundamentalists, as the video claims. But I sent the Foundation an email to ask how they established that instead of just accusing Dawkins of being dishonest.

    I didn’t accuse him of being dishonest; I accused him of hypocrisy given his infamous posturing about the need for evidence. I’m delighted to hear you sent an email inquiry. Please feel free to share their methodology with us. One question – would you have sent such an email had my blog entries not existed? 😉

  25. Crude says:

    So you agree that a lack of evidence does not mean equal plausibility? Thus, the reasoning you’ve used establish equal plausibility doesn’t work.

    Your example didn’t touch that claim, for reasons I illustrated. Would scientists discard established knowledge and past experiences? Or would they call them “evidence”?

  26. You have tried to claim that people should think that it was just people who are “poe’ing” Dawkins when he gets all sorts of hateful emails from Christians. That is indeed an excuse offered as an alternative to the truth that theists, be they Muslims or Christians or something else, do write and do send such things to those who do not share their religion.

    There is no reason to suspect that Christians, et al, did not write such things, other than the desire to retain the fantasy that Christians are supposedly “good”. I have no “faith” that this is the case, I have the words of the people themselves in their emails and letters. I have no reason to doubt the person who claims that they believe in God, in Jesus Christ, in hell and in heaven. I can turn on the tv at this moment and watch Christians make the same attacks on non-believers that the letter writers did, perhaps with less curse words. I have the real names of those who have made similar wishes and prayers about me. So I have all of the evidence I need, belying your false claim that I somehow have “faith”.

    Indeed, what type of person would send hate mail to Dawkins, the FFRF, the MRFF, and to me? Theists who are frightened and angry that anyone dare say that they are wrong. Again, provide evidence for your claim of that there are at least “4 categories” (whatever they are) that are doing these letters?

    Please do show that I am not honest. Or is this just an attempt to try to make baseless accusations about me in an attempt to ignore my points? Again, there are many many Christians who are ignorant bigots. There are many who are not; these are not the ones who are sending hate mail to someone who says their religion is myth.

    Please do show that “that internet atheists have a long tradition of pretending to be irrational, hateful Christians?” Again, you have made a claim with no evidence. There probably are some atheists who may have done this. Again, you need to show that the letters to Dawkins, the FFRF, the MRFF and myself were done by these possible people.

    Unfortunately for you, the Christians who send hate mail and claim that Dawkins, the people at the FFRF, the MRFF and me should die, get sick, go to hell, are quite biblical in their words. The bible does this repeatedly, contradicting the claims of pacificism and non-violence it also contains. It’s quite a contradictory mishmash of very human claims. All of you claim to be True Christians and you all create Christianity in your own image. It is not “propaganda”, it is showing that Christianity isn’t all that is claimed. It shows that the claim that Christianity is some divine “truth” and makes people better is false by the Christians’ own words.

    Again, no reason at all to distrust the fact that theists and religions are often nasty. We have it in the words of the theists themselves, and again it is not unusual at all to hear Christians or other theists say exactly the same things that are in those letters. We get to see such nonsense anytime the news shows Christians demonstrating their hate for homosexuals, for immigrants, for believers of other faiths, and for people who have no belief in gods at all. Now, I’m going to guess that you’ll again try to claim that those are all false flag operations to make people think that Christians are bad people and not Christians acting like Christians often do. Christians and other theists do a perfectly fine job at showing how their religions fail and denigrating themselves; there is no reason for non-believers to waste time doing it ourselves. I can understand that you may not like to know that your fellow Christians are not nice people, but that is no reason to gin up an excuse trying to blame anyone but the actual perpetrators themselves.

    Unless you can prove your claims, all you are doing is bearing false witness against people who have done nothing like you claim.

  27. Kevin says:

    You have yet to show where Christians are told to be violent, yet you repeat the claim. While I don’t deny that too many Christians base their conceptions of God’s will on their own ideas, pacifism against enemies is one of the few that simply can’t be misread. Nowhere is a Christian told to be violent. Ever. Quite the opposite in fact.

    Stronger hint: Christians didn’t exist until after Christ’s resurrection, in Acts. So tell me, where are Christians told to be violent?

  28. Allallt says:

    Your blog is equally how i came across the video(s) so i can’t confidently answer the question. I would have dismissed that “calibre” of “apologist” though.
    When you say any two plausible answers, unsupported by the evidence, are equally plausible, how do you evaluate what is plausible? For example, how did you know to dismiss my thieving-rabbit hypothesis?
    Equally, are you treating plausibility as a binary issue (in this context)?

  29. Crude says:

    When you say any two plausible answers, unsupported by the evidence, are equally plausible, how do you evaluate what is plausible? For example, how did you know to dismiss my thieving-rabbit hypothesis?

    I’ve already shown how your example had evidence to draw on, and thus they were not equally supported by the evidence.

    A better question would be – can you show us how you dismissed the thieving-rabbit hypothesis without any reference to evidence, or equivocating on the evidence you used?

  30. TFBW says:

    Quite so, Crude. Allallt is smuggling in data from general knowledge to establish prior probabilities. It is true that his two alternatives are not equally plausible, but only in the light of background knowledge. To say that there is no “evidence” is problematic: it’s either false, true but insignificant, or true and fatal to science in general. If background knowledge counts as evidence, then it’s false. If background knowledge does not count as evidence, but does count as another valid category of information that we can draw on when reasoning, then it’s true but insignificant. If we can’t draw on background knowledge, then we’d have to pretend that we know nothing at all about the plausibility of all possible explanations — a condition which Allallt has clearly violated. On top of which, without background knowledge of some sort, how would we even recognise “evidence” as being for or against something?

    In the good-faith belief that you are genuinely open to education, Allallt, I’ll take the time to answer this:

    TFBW quoted “Bayes’ theorem is a theorem prescribing how probabilities are to be changed in the light of new evidence”, but that’s precisely my point. A Bayesian analysis requires establishing prior probabilities (which can then be used to identify how they change in the light of evidence). TFBW hasn’t answered my question, instead just tried to dodge it.

    First up, note that I haven’t yet agreed that you’ve provided a situation in which Bayesian analysis is the appropriate way to proceed. I still think you’ve just thrown “Bayesian” around as a piece of weighty jargon without proper understanding, and your question is a red herring. You are being awfully persistent with this red herring, however, so I’ll answer your question just to demonstrate why it’s irrelevant. Since you approve of Chalmers as a guide to Bayesian analysis, let me continue to defer to him on the subject of establishing prior probabilities.

    There are two schools of thought on the subject of establishing prior probabilities: “objective” Bayesians and “subjective” Bayesians. The Objective school insists that prior probabilities be established with rigour, and that the posterior probabilities “represent probabilities that rational agents ought to subscribe to in the light of the objective situation.” This school faces the problem that most scientific questions have a potentially infinite number of hypotheses that could explain them, leaving all prior probabilities as infinitesimals which Bayes’ theorem can not modify. As such, Chalmers rejects this approach, because his interest is the philosophy of science.

    Subjective Bayesians simply allow that the prior probabilities are subjective degrees of belief, held in the light of background information on the subject. The element of subjectivity means that this can not produce an objective account of science as a whole, but it does provide an objective account of scientific inference, analogous to the rules of deductive logic. In the same way that deductive logic can not tell you what’s true, but only which truths follow from prior truths, subjective Bayesian analysis can not tell you what’s probable, but only what probabilities follow from prior probabilities. In the subjective case, prior probabilities do not need to be established with any rigour, but divergent prior beliefs will gradually converge with application of evidence and Bayes’ theorem.

    It seems that your objection, Allallt, is that Michael hasn’t provided prior probabilities. I argue that this is irrelevant, because we aren’t trying to establish anything here which requires Bayesian analysis in the first place. That was the thrust of my original answer. You rejected it, but it actually still stands. Nevertheless, let’s see if we can establish prior probabilities, no matter how irrelevant they are.

    If we side with the objective school, we either need to establish prior probabilities through statistical analysis, or by enumerating theories and granting them equal probability by a principle of indifference. We can do that by simplifying our model of hate-mail authors down to two categories: “religious fundamentalist”, and “not religious fundamentalist”. All authors will fall exclusively into one of these categories. There are infinite possible categories, but Bayes can’t handle that: we have to simplify. We don’t have any hard data about who wrote what, so we’ll have to go with the principle of indifference and say that the prior probability for each individual message is 50/50 in the absence of further evidence. Job done.

    If we side with the subjective school, then it really doesn’t matter much what our prior probabilities are. I can only speak for myself, so I’ll claim to be agnostic on the matter and say 50/50, based on the same rationale as the objective approach. Job done.

    See? That wasn’t hard, and it wasn’t important. Basically you just gave us a hoop to jump through, asserting that our argument wasn’t valid unless we jumped through the hoop. So I’ve now spent quite a long time jumping through that hoop, only to demonstrate that it was never necessary to do so in the first place. It’s a red herring.

    In an attempt to squeeze a little extra value out of this analysis, however, let’s revisit Dawkins’ claim that “most of the letters were written by Religious Fundamentalists.” This is a statement of prior probabilities, and it’s not a 50/50 distribution. Is Dawkins misleading us by expressing a subjective belief as though it were a fact (the kind of thing he condemns others for doing), or does he have access to hard data which produces this claim objectively, and is simply hoarding it? I’m pretty sure that if he had the data to back up his assertion, he’d be crowing about it, not hiding it, so I’ll subjectively assign 99/1 to these hypotheses (in the absence of further evidence).

  31. TFBW says:

    clubschadenfreude said:

    I have no reason to doubt the person who claims that they believe in God, in Jesus Christ, in hell and in heaven.

    Ever heard of Landover Baptist Church?

  32. Michael says:

    You have tried to claim that people should think that it was just people who are “poe’ing” Dawkins when he gets all sorts of hateful emails from Christians.

    Wrong. I am reacting to an assertion that was made by Dawkins and his organization. Dawkins insists most of those emails came from “Religious Fundamentalists.” I simply react by noting he provides no evidence to back up that claim and expects us to accept the claim on faith.

    Try it this way.

    The question would be – “Who sent those hate mails to Dawkins?”

    Dawkins’ answer – “Most of them were sent by Religious Fundamentalists.”
    My answer – “I don’t know. Could have been Religious Fundamentalists. Could have been Poes. Could have been Trolls. Could have been…..”

    Are you aware that he who proposes has the burden of proof? Dawkins proposes and I merely express skepticism. And you demand that I abandon my skepticism and embrace Dawkins’ belief because __________________. (fill in the blank)

    There is no reason to suspect that Christians, et al, did not write such things, other than the desire to retain the fantasy that Christians are supposedly “good”.

    No fantasy is involved. What I rely on is many, many years of experience on the internet – a place filled with Poes, sockpuppets, trolls, fake web sites, con-men, etc. It is not rational to ignore this context and accept Dawkins claims on faith.

    I have no “faith” that this is the case, I have the words of the people themselves in their emails and letters. I have no reason to doubt the person who claims that they believe in God, in Jesus Christ, in hell and in heaven.

    First of all, if you read the letters, it is rare for anyone to claim to believe in God, Christ, Heaven or Hell. The writer merely speaks as if he/she holds those beliefs. And as TFBW mentioned, your words indicate you believe Landover Baptist Church is real, right?

    Second, you are accepting those letters at face value. On faith, you accept them at face value. The problem is that the words of the people themselves in their emails and letters could easily be the words of Poes and Trolls.

    Please do show that “that internet atheists have a long tradition of pretending to be irrational, hateful Christians?”

    When I get the chance, I’ll write up a series on blog entries on people getting Poe’d.

    Again, you have made a claim with no evidence.

    Are you saying there are no Trolls and Poes in the internet atheist community?

    There probably are some atheists who may have done this.

    There ya go. We can agree that at least there “are some.” Do you think it possible for one person to “Poe” people more than one time?

    Again, you need to show that the letters to Dawkins, the FFRF, the MRFF and myself were done by these possible people.

    No, I don’t. I’m not insisting most of the letters were written by Poes. I’m simply pointing out that when Dawkins insists most of the letters were written by Religious Fundamentalists, he a) has no evidence to support this claim and b) has not ruled out alternative explanations.

    Unless you can prove your claims, all you are doing is bearing false witness against people who have done nothing like you claim.

    You have it backwards. Please show us where Dawkins has proved his claim.

  33. Michael says:

    BTW, I should mention that even though this blog is small, people try to Poe me every month or so. I simply don’t let them get through moderation. But here’s one example:

    Fellow Christians, I have just received a revelation from our Lord!!!!

    As best I could decipher, Elvis is dead, Jesus was gay, and the U.S. sucks donkey dicks when it comes to soccer!

    If I receive further messages from our Lord I will promptly pass them along.

    Assuming that I am not masturbating to my favorite Sarah Palin picture.

    Or the Virgin Mary

    . (‘Virgin’!!……, yeah, right!!

    Blessings in the name of Jeeezuus!!!!

    Anyone think that was from a Christian? Anyone?

  34. Allallt says:

    We’re going round in strange circles here. I’m not the one making claims about prior probabilities, Michael is. Michael said “Dawkins is oblivious to an alternative explanation that is just as plausible as his truth claim”. This claim is the claim that the ‘sincere religious author’ hypothesis and ‘Poe or troll’ hypothesis are equally likely (or “just as plausible” as each other).
    Michael’s defence of that claim is “there is no evidence that ‘most of the letters were written by Religious Fundamentalists.’ None. In fact, Dawkins and his organization make no effort to provide any evidence to support their truth claims” and “Since there is no evidence to support Dawkins explanation, then any other plausible explanation will be just as plausible”. That is not the case. That is not how one establishes prior probabilities, but is explicitly the method Michael has used here.
    Michael, in the comments section, says “any other plausible explanation will be just as plausible.” That means Michael has some mechanism by which he can create a binary distinction between plausibility and implausibility, but cannot distinguish between levels of plausibility i.e. so long as a thing is plausible, it’s all equally plausible. He dismissed my loose change being stolen by rabbits as implausible, but it being stolen by a housemate as equally plausible to my confabulation.

    So here are the questions I want you to consider:
    (1) Is the claim that one hypothesis is “just as plausible” as another a claim about prior probabilities?
    I’d argue that the answer is “yes”. If you disagree, I’d love to know why.
    (2) Is Michael right to refer to anything he has evaluated as “plausible” being ‘equally plausible’? Alternatively, should he do as Crude alluded to, and pay attention to “established knowledge and past experiences”, and if he does, won’t this lead to a spectrum of plausibility?
    (3) If Michael does what Crude describes, would Michael really have established each hypothesis as being “just as plausible” as the other? Or would he concede that the true answer is that he has no idea how plausible each hypothesis is?
    (4) All I’m asking Michael to realise is that arguing these hypotheses are equal is mistaken and admit to having it reworded to something more akin to “is also plausible” or “Dawkins’ has misplaced confidence in the sincerely religious authorship of these letters”; I just want Michael to admit that the “just as plausible” claim is unsupported. Is that reasonable?

    (Bonus round) Do you think Michael is being consistent when he dismisses the Rabbit hypothesis of my missing loose change and evaluates a quick-handed housemate as a more plausible answer, but then argues that Troll and Religious hypotheses are equal because of an absence of evidence? Or, do you think that Michael is evaluating evidence similar in nature to what Crude alludes to, to dismiss the Rabbit hypothesis and then reverts to ‘no evidence = just as plausible’ reasoning when trying to answer the question of the authorship of the letters? Or, lastly, is the divide between when Michael does and does not acknowledge evidence that might support establishing a prior probability simply a case of his own convenience? He acknowledges that Poes are common enough to have a name, which is evidence in support of a higher prior probability of the Poe authorship hypothesis, yet refers to “no evidence” when attempting to argue that the prior probabilities are equal.

  35. TFBW says:

    Allallt, I spent a long time answering your question about Bayesian reasoning, but you seem to have conveniently ignored the part where I establish perfectly reasonable grounds for assuming prior probabilities of 50/50. What’s with that? You can’t just ignore comments which are devastating to your case, you know.

    Is the claim that one hypothesis is “just as plausible” as another a claim about prior probabilities?

    Not with the kind of synonymy that you’re suggesting, no. Plausibility is a much coarser filter than that. In this case, the plausibility is a factor of whether we have any prior experience of the thing in question happening. Do we have experience of hateful people sincerely claiming to be Christians? Yes: Westboro Baptist Church. Do we have experience of people deliberately pretending to be hateful Christians? Yes: Landover Baptist Church. Do we have experience of people stealing stuff? Yes, of course. Do we have experience of rabbits breaking into houses and stealing stuff. No, don’t be stupid — that’s a stupid suggestion, and you must think we’re a pack of idiots to suppose that you can pass it off as remotely comparable to any of the other explanations offered here. You’re either insulting our intelligence, or a moron yourself, and I no longer see why I should tiptoe around that point, because you’ve had plenty of opportunity to withdraw the remark.

    If Michael does what Crude describes, would Michael really have established each hypothesis as being “just as plausible” as the other? Or would he concede that the true answer is that he has no idea how plausible each hypothesis is?

    Look, I’ve already established 50/50 probabilities using methods which are acceptable to both the objective and subjective Bayesian schools. You simply ignored them. Instead, you’re waffling about some other criterion which doesn’t even seem to allow the possibility of any knowledge, ever. Why should anyone take this criticism seriously?

    If you’re saying that it’s wrong to make claims about prior probabilities, given the lack of evidence here, you could have saved a whole bunch of time by (a) pointing out that this is your opinion, based on some undisclosed, private theory of knowledge and probability, and (b) clarifying that Dawkins is just as guilty, because he’s making claims about prior probabilities too, rather than muddying the waters by harping on as though Michael, specifically, was at fault. Indeed, if Dawkins is just as guilty, why did you even feel the need to come here and “correct” people? Or are you berating Dawkins for his lack of correctness on some other forum?

    I think I’m done wasting time on you, Allallt.

  36. Allallt says:

    You can read my comments, and you’ll note that I’ve already said I’ve contacted the RDFR about how they make the claim “most are written by religious fundamentalists” (I’ve had no reply yet, when I do I’ll share it with you).
    As for “I’ve already established 50/50 probabilities using methods which are acceptable to both the objective and subjective Bayesian schools”… no you haven’t. We don’t consider the likelihood of the common cold and of SARS as being equal just because we have experience of both, and we didn’t in 2003 (when SARS was in the news) either. “Prior experience” is not a binary issue. It’s not a case ‘we know it’s possible, therefore it’s as plausible as anything else’, which is what you seem to be assuming.
    To make the claim that Poes are as likely as sincere authors Michael would need some data on the comparative prevalence of sincerely hateful religious people and mock-hateful mock-religious people, or their resultant hateful literature. (Just like for the diagnosis of SARS, one must consider the actual prevalence of the condition). Michael doesn’t have that. And you are arguing that the mere existence of both equates to their equal plausibility. That’s not right either.
    I don’t have a “private theory of knowledge and probability”, I’m not “waffling about some other criterion”. I am asking how one can justify their claim that these hypotheses are “just as plausible” as each other, while they simultaneously claim there is no evidence.
    Your response has been to talk about things in terms of evidence. That violates the conditions of my question i.e. you’re dodging my question. Michael says their no evidence either way, and that both explanations are equally plausible, and I’m saying that does not follow.

    I have never denied that these letters being written by Poes is plausible. I’ve not even denied that they are equally plausible. I denying that, from what Michael has presented, it is a knowable claim.

    Of course, you know that. If you don’t know that, you either haven’t read or haven’t understood my comments. In which case, I find your accusation against me a little ironic.

  37. TFBW says:

    Allallt says:

    As for “I’ve already established 50/50 probabilities using methods which are acceptable to both the objective and subjective Bayesian schools”… no you haven’t.

    Ah, the “no you haven’t” argument again. Yes I have. What I haven’t done is establish 50/50 probabilities using methods which are acceptable to you, personally, but you seem to be playing by your own unique set of rules, so who knows where the hell those goalposts are hidden? Also, who cares? I’m not appealing to you any more: I’m appealing to a generic reasonable third party, and my work here is just about done.

    We don’t consider the likelihood of the common cold and of SARS as being equal just because we have experience of both …

    No shit, Sherlock. That’s because we have detailed statistics on that sort of thing, based on available evidence, which is a completely different situation to the one we find ourselves in. You’re arguing for some kind of esoteric “we have no statistical evidence, therefore we must not assign probabilities” thing — or at least, that seems to be the latest swerve you’ve taken. Of course, if you’re arguing for that, then I’m completely vindicated in saying that all your “Bayesian” talk was bluff, because you’re now insisting that prior probabilities are unknowable in this case, that equal apportionment of probability between hypotheses (principle of indifference) is not a valid substitute for knowledge (a private theory of yours), and therefore that Bayesian analysis is impossible as things stand. In other words, your opening comment in this thread was nothing but a trick question based on private theories of knowledge.

    Waste. Of. Time.

  38. Dhay says:

    clubschadenfreude > There is no reason to suspect that Christians, et al, did not write such things, other than the desire to retain the fantasy that Christians are supposedly “good”. I have no “faith” that this is the case, I have the words of the people themselves in their emails and letters. I have no reason to doubt the person who claims that they believe in God, in Jesus Christ, in hell and in heaven.

    Let’s look at just one mail from a “Christian”: it’s in the “Bad” section of the old website, dated 07 October 2011, and from the very Welsh Gwyndaf M Hughes, BA. A quick online search shows there is indeed a Gwyndaf Morus Hughes in North Wales, but his facebook page shows he graduated from the sixth form of Ysgol David Hughes (Ysgol = School) in 2012, so would have been a kid of just 17 or 18 at the time of the “bad” mail to the RDF, so he clearly did not hold the BA qualification his mail claimed. He’s a spotty kid out for a laugh.

    He’s not even a spotty Christian kid: scroll down to the picture dated 11 October 2011 (which is just four days after the RDF mail) and entitled, “Nice bum, Marky :L”; young Gwyndaf jibes at his friend Rees for “going all religious”, saying “rees going all religious he was like isnt that the thing in loures :’)”; the “thing in Lourdes” is a statue of the Virgin Mary, which Gwyndaf has climbed up to in order to get himself pictured with the Virgin Mary supposedly performing fellatio on him.

    “Trust gwyns to try to fuck the virgin mary:’)”. I rather think he’s done the same (metaphorically) to the RDF — he’s a trolling Poe.

    So this “bad” mailer is a good example of why your, “I have the words of the people themselves in their emails and letters. I have no reason to doubt the person who claims that they believe in God, in Jesus Christ, in hell and in heaven.” looks a trifle naïve.

  39. No, we do not agree that there are some. I said that there could be, maybe.

    Again, the evidence is that these letters are from theists, not poes. We have names and addresses, we have their very own words on tv, we know that Christians threaten and bluster like this. What we don’t have is evidence from you that poes did this. You have not presented addresses and names, you have not presented instances where this has definitely happened. You have presented an assumption, which appears based on the desire to hope that Christians aren’t so vile. You have indeed insisted that most of the letters were writen by poes. You now wish to try to claim that you were “only” pointing out that Dawkins has no evidence, which he does.

  40. TFBW says:

    The confirmation bias is strong in this one.

  41. Michael says:

    I have never denied that these letters being written by Poes is plausible. I’ve not even denied that they are equally plausible. I denying that, from what Michael has presented, it is a knowable claim.

    Oh, please. I never claimed to know they were equally plausible. As I told you from the start, I made/make no claim of having established anything. What I did was raise a proposal. I am able to float this proposal because Dawkins’ claim is not supported by any evidence. By proposing the two explanations are equally plausible, they effectively cancel each other out. Thus, saying they are equally plausible is another way of saying we don’t know the source of the emails. Which is the point I made to club:

    Try it this way.
    The question would be – “Who sent those hate mails to Dawkins?”
    Dawkins’ answer – “Most of them were sent by Religious Fundamentalists.”
    My answer – “I don’t know. Could have been Religious Fundamentalists. Could have been Poes. Could have been Trolls. Could have been…..”

    Now, I can’t help but notice your strong reluctance to criticize Dawkins. He has done far more than offer up a proposal about plausibilities. He has made a distinct truth claim: “most of the letters were written by Religious Fundamentalists.”

    He, and his allies in the Gnu Movement have then promoted this truth claim.

    His truth claim has been seen on YouTube over 700,000 times.

    Your response? To complain that I don’t know something I never claimed to know.

    Apparently, it doesn’t concern you in the least that your leader, who has spent decades preaching about the need to root truth claims in evidence, preaches and promotes a truth claim without any evidence.

  42. Michael says:

    Again, the evidence is that these letters are from theists, not poes.

    That’s how it looks to you. You are experiencing what is known as confirmation bias.

    We have names and addresses,

    We do? What are they?

    we have their very own words on tv, we know that Christians threaten and bluster like this.

    So your “evidence” is something you saw on television. Are you serious? That’s ridiculous.

  43. Allallt says:

    Why would i criticise Dawkins here? You’re not Dawkins. You’re not Dawkins friends. You’re not even on Dawkins side.

    I’ve told you I’ve emailed asking for their methodology. As of yet i have received no reply.

    Can i take your comment to mean you retract the words “just as plausible” (from the post) and wish to replace it with something of the sentiment ‘is an alternative deserving of investigation before any confident conclusions can be espoused’?

  44. Allallt says:

    Why would i criticise Dawkins here? You’re not Dawkins. You’re not Dawkins friends. You’re not even on Dawkins side.

    I’ve told you I’ve emailed asking for their methodology. As of yet i have received no reply.

    Can i take your comment to mean you

  45. Dhay says:

    Here’s an interesting mail in the “Good” section of the old RDF site:

    “I think what finally clinched it for me was reading the letters in “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”.
    Starting with “Ugly” and working my way ‘up’ to “Bad”, I have to say that I died laughing! Being an atheist makes you see the BRIGHT side of life so that even “The Ugly” is funny. And “The Bad”? It’s a scream. “The Good”? … moving.”
    http://old.richarddawkins.net/letters/good?letter_id=466490&page=11#letter_466490

    What’s interesting is that it is dated 04 May 2010, which is the put-on-website date for all the old mails pre-dating this website, hence pre-dating its “Good”, “Bad” and “Ugly” sections. How, I ask myself, can there be a mail referring to reading mail not yet inserted into in not-yet-existing sections. No, it’s not someone jumping in quick on the opening day — looking at the dates of following mails, this mail is clearly well within the pre-website batch, and the next mail after 04 May 2010 starts to trickle in some six weeks later.

    One obvious explanation is that in addition to the current RDF site, and the old RDF site it replaced, there might have been an even older site also containing “Good”, “Bad” and “Ugly” sections. I would appreciate an informed answer from anyone in a position to tell me whether such a site definitely did or did not exist prior to 04 May 2010, as I would like to rule out the second obvious explanation.

    The second obvious explanation is that some bored RDF website admin decided to see how far they could pull the wool over readers’ eyes by including amongst the mails the most glaringly obvious winking smiley. If the RDF admins have tampered with, or fabricated one mail, that puts the authenticity of any or all mails in doubt.

  46. Dhay says:

    Here’s a Richard Dawkins hate mail that looks to have been tampered with: it’s dated 04 May 2010; I’ve highlighted an interesting, very distinctive sentence:

    “Go f*** yourself. You , Sir, are an absolute ASS. Your feigned intelligence is nothing more than the fart of GOD. You are one of those unfortunate ones that need GOD to shove it in your FACE.
    Your soul is at jeopardy.”

    (I spot that this 04 May 2010 mail also appears on the new site, and is there dated Jan 30, 2013. Perhaps this answers the question posed in my last post above; perhaps the RDF staff hide the dates of older mails, and thereby hide that the mails are coming in over a much, much longer period than appears, by periodically re-dating older mails to a more recent “arrival” date. There’s deception afoot, I think.)

    The atheist community is loving this one — Google “fart of god” and view may examples of their obvious enjoyment. But is this hate mail authentic?

    Take a look at this 2008 Guardian webpage which evidently starts with a video of Dawkins reading his hate mail; the video does not now play, but clearly Dawkins has been videos of himself reading out hate mail for quite some years now. http://www.theguardian.com/science/blog/2008/aug/26/dawkinsemail

    Then there’s two quotes from hate mails, the bottom one of which was read out in the first of his recent videos, and on the old site bears the familiar date, 04 May 2010: after the editorial comment, “Another shouts bizarrely:” is, “I hope you get hit by a church van tonight and you die slowly.

    This is indeed bizarre: I can think of churches which have, or occasionally hire, minibuses, but a van is for moving goods, which is not a normal church activity where I come from; it’s so bizarre, so wildly imaginative and good-for-a-laugh that I question the mail’s authenticity.

    Anyway, back to the tampered-with hate mail: the other hate mail quoted in 2008 is similar to, but different from, the one at the beginning of this response; because the 2008 version does not appear alongside the 2010 version, I have to conclude that these are not two separate mails — one of which would, in any event, obviously be an copy-cat trolling Poe based on the other — but that a single mail has been tampered with and changed by RDF staff.

    You sir are an absolute ass. Your famed intelligence is nothing more than the fart of god. You suck. Go burn in hell. Satan will enjoy torturing you.

    Assuming that the 2008 version is the original, by 2010:
    * “Go f*** yourself.” had been added at the beginning
    * Space and comma added after “You”, comma after “Sir”
    * Capitalisation of “ASS” and “GOD”
    * “You suck. Go burn in hell. Satan will enjoy torturing you.” has changed to, “You are one of those unfortunate ones that need GOD to shove it in your FACE. Your soul is at jeopardy.”

    Isn’t that clear enough evidence that Dawkins and his staff tamper with, and change, the hate mails he says he receives. And since they have been caught out “improving” parts of that hate mail, should we not assume they have “improved” other hate mails; and perhaps they have made up some of the hate mails in their entirety.

  47. TFBW says:

    Dhay, it seems that the old RichardDawkins.net site has been publishing the good, the bad, and the ugly since at least late October, 2006. The 2010 dates on some of those messages are probably simply because they didn’t bother to date things prior to that time, and they started dating things as the result of a site re-design which included dates (with all the legacy posts arbitrarily dated to the time of the re-design).

    If you want to sniff around in history, go here: https://web.archive.org/web/20061029160758/http://www.richarddawkins.net/theUgly — that’s the earliest incarnation of “the ugly” that I can find in the Wayback machine, given the amount of effort I’m prepared to expend. Have fun.

    I’d just like to note in passing that they have so little accurate dating and attribution on these messages that I doubt they could verify the sources of the older ones. It’s just hearsay on an atheist activist website, really.

  48. Michael says:

    Dhay,

    The wayback machine shows that the “hatemail” dated May 4, 2010 was on his site back in 2007. It looks to me like it was Dawkins who took two different “hate mails” and combined them for the missing video that was apparently transcribed by the Guardian.

    Yet the tampering hypothesis is intriguing. Who maintained Dawkins site from 2006 until 2010 and would thus be the custodian of those “hate mails?” Josh Timonen. Many of the atheists on the Dawkins site accused Timonen of behaving in extremely unethical manner when it came to his sneaky and manipulative manner of shutting down their forum. Worse yet, Dawkins himself filed a lawsuit against Timonen, accusing his embezzling close to half a million dollars over 3 years. Dawkins quietly dropped the lawsuit in 2010.

    Bottom line – we have even more reason to distrust those “hate mails” given they were posted and maintained by someone as unethical as Timonen.

  49. Michael says:

    Why would i criticise Dawkins here?

    Indeed. That would assume you were an atheist standing on principle when it came to demanding evidence. I’m beginning to think no such atheist exists.

    You’re not Dawkins. You’re not Dawkins friends. You’re not even on Dawkins side.

    And that explains why you cannot admit I am right.

    I’ve told you I’ve emailed asking for their methodology. As of yet i have received no reply.

    Hmmm. Were you rude in your email? Why would they ignore you?

    Anyway, in meantime, I wonder if you can tell us the evidence for believing most of those emails came from Religious Fundamentalists.

    Can i take your comment to mean you retract the words “just as plausible” (from the post) and wish to replace it with something of the sentiment ‘is an alternative deserving of investigation before any confident conclusions can be espoused’?

    Don’t be silly. I will take my proposal off the table if a) someone comes up with some decent evidence that most of those emails were sent by Religious Fundamentalists or b) Dawkins retracts his assertion.

  50. Allallt says:

    Thanks for the “conversation”. But we’re not getting anywhere.

  51. Dhay says:

    Thanks, both.

    So the RDF is bumping the dates of the older mails every now and then. For all that the website was updated periodically, bumping dates is a choice; a useful choice for their purpose.

    So it was the Guardian quote which was doctored — that way round makes best sense to me, as it now becomes evident that for propaganda purposes the milder, “You are one of those unfortunate ones that need GOD to shove it in your FACE. Your soul is at jeopardy.”, was deliberately altered to the horridly hate-filled, “You suck. Go burn in hell. Satan will enjoy torturing you.”, for the Guardian piece. Someone, either Richard Dawkins or a someone at the RDF who supplied this doctored quote, lied to improve the dramatic effect.

    Looking at the history of the Josh Timonen fracas, I found this interesting comment from a lordpasternack:

    But let’s just say that I’m not under the impression that Timonen was the only, or the worst, conjob within RDFRS… And I am under the impression that Dawkins – for all his preaching about evidence and critical thinking – is a dupe and a goddamn idiot, when it comes to his ‘charity’.”
    http://rationalia.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=75&t=29481&start=150

    That’s on Page 11 of an interesting thread. So Timonen was allegedly not the only or worst conjob within RDFRS; Dawkins – for all his preaching about evidence and critical thinking – is a dupe and a goddamn idiot.

  52. Dhay says:

    Allallt > Why would i criticise Dawkins here? You’re not Dawkins. You’re not Dawkins friends. You’re not even on Dawkins side.

    Do I detect the honour-shame culture, a culture which is more usually associated with fundamentalist Islam — do not criticise the leader, as it reflects badly upon the group and upon the individual follower.

    Actually, you are not being asked to criticise your leader, just to look at the evidence critically and impartially. You don’t have to agree with everything Michael or I say — for myself, my own look at the evidence has rapidly led me to adopt a very jaundiced view where I perceive Poe evidence everywhere, perhaps very rightly, so an informed view from the other side would be a welcome check; for that reason, I prefer that you shouldn’t agree with my conclusions — but do at least examine the evidence and present your own.

    It might help you get your mind around the issues if, instead of focussing on “equally plausible”, you focussed on the — I think — functionally equivalent “equally implausible.” Michael is not making a strong truth claim, he is denying the rather dodgy truth claims made by Richard Dawkins.

    I have spent some time examining the evidence and analysed that, and why many of the mails could be, and probably are, Poes; I have shown evidence that Dawkins lied to camera in 2008, misquoting a hate mail to make it seem worse; could we have your own analysis and evidence at some time, please.

  53. Allallt says:

    Dhay,
    You’re willfully ignoring my comments and I very much now believe you are doing this on purpose. I am not mirroring honour-shame attitudes by refusing to criticise Dawkins here. I have queried his methods to the Foundation. It is of no practical use to join you in saying ‘he can’t say “most”. We don’t know it’s “most”!’. This is especially true until I get an answer from him outlining his method. At best, you’re only noticing that he didn’t share a method, not that he doesn’t have one. (I concede that I can’t imagine what practical method he and the Foundation might have used, but doesn’t mean there isn’t one.)
    I’ve already said, more than once, that “most” might be over reaching. I am challenging the idea that the Poe and Sincere Author answers are “just as plausible” as each other. That is it. It is that one idea, with focus on the two words “just as” that I am taking issue with. That’s it.

    I’m not sure how Dawkins lying in 2008 supports the Poe hypothesis to explain an event in 2015. As I am not making a claim, but instead challenging a claim made by Michael, I’m not even sure what nature of evidence I might be looking for.

  54. TFBW says:

    As I am not making a claim, but instead challenging a claim made by Michael …

    You have made numerous claims as a part of that challenge. You have also insinuated claims by asking various questions. For example, you have effectively claimed that Bayesian analysis is relevant to this matter — or, if you want to deny that, then you have been sending me on a wild goose chase with your references to it. I still can’t see why you think it’s relevant.

    At the heart of your complaint is a premise along the lines of, “you can not validly say that two explanations are equally plausible unless you can establish equal prior probabilities.” (Am I right? I ask, because you’re not very good at spelling out the core of your complaint.) The nicest thing I can say about that claim is that it’s pedantic. Plausibility is just subjective reasonableness. You seem to be demanding that Michael provide evidence to establish that half of the letters were written by Poes in order to justify his statement. That kind of evidence simply isn’t necessary to justify it: they could all be written by Poes, or none of them could be written by Poes, and his assertion about both alternatives being equally plausible would still stand, precisely because there’s nothing unequivocal in evidence which would let us decide one way or another.

  55. Dhay says:

    Allallt > It is that one idea, with focus on the two words “just as” that I am taking issue with. That’s it.

    Noted; I’ll refrain from responding further on that issue, which I see as essentially a side issue.

    > I’m not sure how Dawkins lying in 2008 supports the Poe hypothesis to explain an event in 2015.

    That Dawkins (or his staff) fabricated part of a hate mail, the one that was publicly paraded in 2008 on the Guardian website, means that that particular hate mail was a Dawkins-created Poe. Dawkins himself (or his staff) Poe’d the public. Whether Dawkins has been Poe’d or not, Dawkins (or his staff) has a record of being a Poe himself.

    If Dawkins (or his staff) has Poe’d the Guardian with one faked hate mail, it is entirely plausible that he has Poe’d his own “Ugly” hate mail page with faked hate mails. With that doubt, what value is their answer to you regarding their methodology, whenever you get it.

    > I’m not even sure what nature of evidence I might be looking for.

    Odd, I spotted evidence straight away, and have presented it in previous responses. Let me echo your word back to you: “You’re wilfully ignoring my comments and I very much now believe you are doing this on purpose.”

    You and I seem to be largely talking past each other, you perhaps frustrated that I do not see your narrow focus, and I frustrated that your narrow focus seems to miss and ignore the wider issues.

    OK, I’ll accept your focussing where you want, I’ll focus elsewhere, and hopefully we’ll live at peace.

  56. Michael says:

    Thanks for the “conversation”. But we’re not getting anywhere.

    We are not getting anywhere because you have no evidence most of those emails were sent by Religious Fundamentalists.

    We don’t know it’s “most”!’. This is especially true until I get an answer from him outlining his method. At best, you’re only noticing that he didn’t share a method, not that he doesn’t have one. (I concede that I can’t imagine what practical method he and the Foundation might have used, but doesn’t mean there isn’t one.)

    What makes you think think there was a method?

    Also, Josh Timonen was running and maintaining the website when most of those “hate mails” came in to the RDF. Do you think that is relevant?

  57. Allallt says:

    And i never claimed they were. We’re not getting anywhere because you’re attempting to force that position on to me.

  58. No, that is not just how it looks to me, that is what the evidence supports.

    I get names and addresses every time I get an email or a snail mail letter. Some of these theists have no problem in signing their names and giving addresses, some do not. Again, all evidence supports that it is conservative theists who write these hateful messages.

    Nice try there to disregard the words of Christians on television ministry shows and on news shows. No, the evidence is the words and actions of Christians on television. I am quite serious and it is not ridiculous at all. You only want to claim it is ridiculous because the actions of those Christians in public defeats your claims.

    Let me guess, Michael, you believe it’s one big conspiracy against Christians that makes these pastors stand up in front of a tv camera and speak against non-believers, and the conspiracy also makes people write blog posts on the websites of churches, and protest funerals, and protest immigrants, and stand at the Reason Rally a few years ago and bother non-believers, bother people who support women’s health rights, threaten to murder and murder health care workers, etc.

  59. TFBW says:

    clubschadenfreude said:

    No, that is not just how it looks to me, that is what the evidence supports.

    The evidence in this case is entirely consistent with the messages being sent by stupid, hateful Christians. Nobody is disputing that fact. The problem is that the evidence in this case is also entirely consistent with the messages being sent by people impersonating stupid, hateful Christians. As such, your claim that the evidence supports the “hateful Christian” theory is misguided: you’d need something which was also evidence against the competing “Poe” theory for it to be that. Failure to make this distinction is a primary cause of confirmation bias.

    So far, your argument against the “Poe” theory consists of personal incredulity (not a terribly compelling form of argument), and continued harping on the fact that hateful Christians are real because you get mail from them and see them on the TV (irrelevant, because it is equivocal evidence that does not make Poe theory any less plausible).

    I wonder — what checks do you apply to test whether your own incoming hate-mail is real, or whether it’s a troll, Poe, griefer, or what-have-you? I’m guessing… nothing whatsoever?

  60. Michael says:

    No, that is not just how it looks to me, that is what the evidence supports.

    Wrong. You are still ensnared by your confirmation bias. You want these emails to be genuine, so your mind looks for anything that will confirm your preconceptions. This should be clear if we consider your “evidence.”For example, you write:

    I get names and addresses every time I get an email or a snail mail letter. Some of these theists have no problem in signing their names and giving addresses, some do not. Again, all evidence supports that it is conservative theists who write these hateful messages.

    First of all, you seem oblivious to a simple fact – none of us see any of these supposed emails and snail mails you get. From where we sit, there is no evidence you receive any such mails. It looks differently to you because you claim you can see such mail. We see nothing other than your private knowledge claim. From where we sit, you could very well be making it all up. After all, it seems highly unusual that you would get “hate mail” in the snail mail. How does that find you? Do you post your real-life name and address on your blog? And you get names and addresses “every time” you “get an email or snail mail letter?” It’s hard to believe that.

    Now, we could rely on the principle of charity and accept that you receive such mail on faith. But faith is a big NO-NO among atheists, so that option is not available for you. What that means is this:

    There is no evidence most of the mail Dawkins received was sent by Religious Fundamentalists.
    You claim there is such evidence and the evidence is that you receive such mail.
    But, from where we sit, there is no such evidence.

    Second, let’s apply the principle of charity anyway (I’m not the one who thinks it would be evil to do so). What do you have? “Names and addresses.” So what? What does that prove? “Names and addresses, all by themselves, hardly qualify as evidence. Poes can easily send you names and addresses (and you come across as someone who would be easily Poe’d). They can easily make them up, or pick out some real world ones from the phone book or internet. To turn these data into evidence, you would have to use the “names and addresses” in a way that confirms you are dealing with real “conservative theists.” Can you explain the methods you used to do this?

    Third, let’s go all the way and assume everything you say is legit and verified. As such, lets use this evidence to formulate your strongest possible argument:

    You have evidence that some of those emails sent to Dawkins could have come from Religious Fundamentalists.

    That’s all you have. Circumstantial evidence that makes it plausible for Dawkins to be telling the truth.

    But your strongest possible argument goes nowhere for two reasons:

    1. It is easily cancelled out by making an alternative claim – some of those emails sent to Dawkins could have come from Poes. We too can gather circumstantial evidence to support this claim.

    2. Your strongest argument is: some of those emails sent to Dawkins could have come from Religious Fundamentalists.
    But that is far away from where you need to go to support Dawkins claim: most of those emails sent to Dawkins were from Religious Fundamentalists.

    Some is not most.

    Could have is not were.

    Summary: You claim you have data which amounts to evidence. There is no evidence you have such data. If you did have such data, it hardly amounts to evidence. And even if you did have data that amounts to evidence, it goes no further than establishing a point we all already agree on: some of those emails could have been sent by religious fundamentalists.

    In other words, you have…….nothing. Which explain why someone like Allallt has not latched on to your “evidence.”

  61. Allallt says:

    TFBW – “you can not validly say that two explanations are equally plausible unless you can establish equal prior probabilities.”

    Yes, I am happy to accept that as a claim I am making. And it’s not just pedantic, it’s important. Without establishing why these claims are equally plausible, which is a claim Michael makes, we can all posit any evidence free hypothesis and demand it has equal plausibility.
    If Michael wants to retract that element and change it for something akin to ‘is worthy of investigation’ then I suddenly have no qualms with the post.
    It is fair for the post to point out that Dawkins has not presented the evidence he has to justify his seemingly high confidence that these emails are written by religious people. But that is not synonymous with all claims being equally plausible.
    To highlight equal plausibility you would need to demonstrate the population of Poes to be as productive as the population of religious people who are frustrated. I would be highly impressed if you could establish that. But, until you can, the claim that these hypotheses are equal is unjustified.
    Now that this has been brought to Michael’s attention, the failure to adjust the statement is hypocritical and amusingly ironic.

    Also, as you still haven’t looked up Bayesian theorem and priors (instead you’ve worked with two quotes that deal only with a portion of Bayesian theory… conveniently), I’ll bring the reading to you: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayesian_probability#Personal_probabilities_and_objective_methods_for_constructing_priors

  62. Allallt says:

    Michael – Don’t bring me into your conversation with Club, he is arguing something very different to me. My claim doesn’t require his evidence.
    I am merely acting as peer review, claiming that you have no proper method by which you establish the equal plausibility between the two hypotheses. In fact, it started off not as a claim, but as a question: how have you established it? Some other commenters have attempted to argue that ignorance is the same as equality in this context, but that’s it.
    Establishing the existence of Poes doesn’t equate to equal plausibility either. You’d need to establish rough equality in productivity. But we have already established that it’s near-impossible to distinguish between sincere and Poe letters, so I’ll (for now) assume that level of evidence is beyond you and I. I therefore am simply asking whether you think you should, for the sake of intellectual honesty, change “just as plausible” to “also plausible”. I don’t contend that your alternative explanation isn’t cause for significant doubt, it is. I am merely pondering how you established a 50/50 probability, and in the absence of evidence of that claim, you shouldn’t make it. That is the very spirit of your post, and you violate it. That is the amusing irony.

    Club could search Google and Youtube for sentences like “pastor preaches death to atheists” and “Poe preaches death to atheists” and post the numbers of results as evidence of the productivity of both sides, or even more vaguely “hateful poe” and “hateful religious person” and post those numbers. But I’m sure you’d find a way to dodge that evidence as well.

  63. TFBW says:

    Allallt said:

    And it’s not just pedantic, it’s important.

    It’s important only in the sense that strengthens your position by holding Michael to a stronger claim than he is actually making, allowing you to posture as though you’ve found a falsehood in his claims, when really you’re just attacking a straw man.

    … you still haven’t looked up Bayesian theorem and priors …

    You still haven’t explained its relevance, and it doesn’t seem any more relevant in the light of your Wikipedia link. Feh — you’ve had ample opportunity to explain yourself on this matter; I’m satisfied that your failure to explain its relevance arises from the fact that it has none.

  64. Dhay says:

    Allallt > But we have already established that it’s near-impossible to distinguish between sincere and Poe letters, so I’ll (for now) assume that level of evidence is beyond you and I.

    I will keep out of the 50/50 debate, but who’s “we”? That level of evidence is not beyond Michael and I. Michael first showed that the most recent of the old site’s hate mails is not plausibly genuine; I then looked at and analysed a sample of the previous hate-mails, found a number of characteristic marks of non-genuine hate mails, and stated what those characteristic marks were, giving reasons

    So we have already established that it is possible to distinguish between sincere and Poe letters; I have referred you to Michael’s post and my response so that you could see and judge for yourself what the evidence and reasoning was, and I invited you to criticise my reasoning. You have failed — and I mean failed — to do so.

    You “found a way to dodge that evidence” — echoing your words back to you — you ignored it.

    One of the earliest mails in the “Ugly” section is actually a spambot scam — “RDFRS Staff note: Yes, this is SCAM-SPAM we received but it was just too good to pass up and we thought you all would enjoy it too”: will you tell me that “we” (ie you) find it near-impossible to distinguish whether that was a sincere or a Poe letter?

    I have now given you evidence that Dawkins himself has Poe’d the Guardian and the public. Do you claim that “we” cannot distinguish whether that was a sincere or a Poe letter?

    You “found a way to dodge that evidence” — echoing your words back to you — you ignored it.

    …and post those numbers

    OK, let’s do that:
    No results found for “pastor preaches death to atheists”.
    Your search – “Poe preaches death to atheists” – did not match any documents.
    “hateful poe” – 13 results
    “hateful religious person” – 19 results

    > But I’m sure you’d find a way to dodge that evidence as well.

    Here’s the evidence you said would be dodged. The first two results, zeros, are exactly what I would have predicted, and I would also have predicted that the final two results would be small numbers, as they are. I think you can base no sweeping general claims on such small numbers; and that you have demonstrated a tendency to make wild and implausible claims with little thought.

    What I find really irritating about you is that you prattle on endlessly about evidence, and how it might possibly be found, but refuse to actually search out and look at the evidence yourself, and you ignore (and blithely sail on with claims to the contrary, ie dodge) that others have already done so.

  65. Dhay says:

    Just reminding you that there’s at least one “Poe preaches death to ‘All religious freaks, imbeciles christians, muslins, all that non-sense useless crap need to fucking die.'”
    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2015/01/23/dawkins-poed-again/#comment-7269

    I judge the guy a Poe: clubschadenfreude and Allallt would presumably take him at face value as an atheist.

  66. Michael says:

    Yes, I am happy to accept that as a claim I am making. And it’s not just pedantic, it’s important. Without establishing why these claims are equally plausible, which is a claim Michael makes, we can all posit any evidence free hypothesis and demand it has equal plausibility.

    Not quite. I raise the hypothesis that most of those emails were sent by Poes. I think that plausible and no one has provided any reason to think it implausible. Given that Dawkins claim has no evidence (as you concede), the most we can say about it is that it too is plausible.

    We thus have two plausible claims with very little hard evidence to go on.

    Either one is more plausible than the other, or they are equally plausible.

    I propose they are equally plausible, especially since we don’t have much hard evidence.

    That this bothers you suggests you have the closet belief that Dawkins belief is more plausible than my explanation. But rather than defend your claim, one that fits the Gnu agenda, you are trying to come up with a way to get me to remove my proposal from the table. Sneaky.

    To highlight equal plausibility you would need to demonstrate the population of Poes to be as productive as the population of religious people who are frustrated. I would be highly impressed if you could establish that. But, until you can, the claim that these hypotheses are equal is unjustified.

    A proposal/hypothesis does not need to be backed up by a demonstration, especially when the competing explanation has no evidence.

    As for the comparative analysis you have in mind (one that has oddly changed since the last time you floated one), that would be just one dimension of an inquiry. Many other factors would become relevant. For example, who would be more likely to spell evolution as EVELOOTON? A religious fundamentalist or a Poe?

    Now that this has been brought to Michael’s attention, the failure to adjust the statement is hypocritical and amusingly ironic.

    That’s how it looks to you. Being unable to support your leader, you’ve come up (in your mind) with a way to discredit me.

    Has the RDSF responded to you yet?

  67. Allallt says:

    They have sent no reply yet. They haven’t even acknowledged receipt. I wonder if others would also like to contact the RDFRS to increase the issue on their priority list.

  68. Dhay says:

    Allallt > I don’t know whether most of the letters were written by religious fundamentalists, as the video claims. But I sent the Foundation an email to ask how they established that instead of just accusing Dawkins of being dishonest.
    > I’ve told you I’ve emailed asking for their methodology. As of yet i have received no reply.

    While I can honour your good intentions in seeking an official answer from the RDF, I would point you towards the banner which has headed each and every “Ugly” page from 2007 until the site’s major re-design in 2012 or 2013; after quoting Ann Coulter’s book — not a letter or mail, mark you — it says:

    This section is dedicated to insanity such as this that finds its way to our inbox. When it goes beyond criticism and into Crazytown, we post it up here for all to see.

    That is a methodology; it’s hardly a sophisticated scientific or forensic approach; the mails arrive in the RDF inbox; then they are partitioned into posts for the “Good”, “Bad” and “Ugly” pages; any which are “insanity” and/or “beyond criticism and into Crazytown”, get posted on the “Ugly” pages.

  69. Michael says:

    That is a methodology; it’s hardly a sophisticated scientific or forensic approach; the mails arrive in the RDF inbox; then they are partitioned into posts for the “Good”, “Bad” and “Ugly” pages; any which are “insanity” and/or “beyond criticism and into Crazytown”, get posted on the “Ugly” pages.

    Which raises the question – is it possible that some of the “insanity” does indeed come from people who are truly mentally ill? Not mentally ill in Boghossian’s pseudoscientific sense. But people who do suffer from diagnosed conditions. If so, is it really fair to post those and hold them up to score points in a culture war? Would this be akin to making fun of people who are mentally ill?

  70. Dhay says:

    One of the very last of the Old site’s hate mails was a poem; one of the very first new mails after that was a poem. It’s dated February 19 2013; its Feb 03 predecessor included both, “I think u was abused as child coz …” and “i bet u cryin coz u cant no longer suck hitchens dick”, which you will see copied here; this one includes the homosexuality accusation meme, the “burn in hell” meme, the manic laughter meme, THE CAPITALS MEME, the atrocious spelling meme; the always different, always wrong spellings of “Dawkins”; then there’s the contrasting perfect spelling, sometimes of two or three words in a row, which rather puts the lie to idea that the author is drunk or severely dyslexic; “EUTHNAIS” is implausible as a mis-spelling, in that someone bad at spelling would not guess “eu”; “R=OOPILATION” , whatever it’s meant to be, looks like a random hitting of keys rather than mis-keying nearby keys (and the author is probably not drunk, remember); one has to be really paranoid to take “Gchrisysns will rise ande kill” seriously, and what seems from adjacent keys to be “Ruler of the known universe” functions not as a jibe but as an absurdity (amongst many others here), a winking smiley. I have a life to live, so I’ll stop here.
    https://richarddawkins.net/2013/02/a-message-to-dawikns-ugly-tue-feb-19-2013-1917/

    SALUTE!
    MY POEM:

    WHO S A JEW AND PRODIU OF IT? DIKINS
    WHO HARES ARELIGION COZ E WAS ABSUSED AS CUIKD? DICKCING
    SHO WANS TO SUCJ HOTCHENS DICK FROMN HIS GRAVE? DICKINGS
    WJHO ANRES TO EUTHNAIS WHOKM R=OOPILATION CO ZHE LOVES NAXI HITLER/ FAWKIND
    WHPOS SAY AND IWIL BURN IN HEILL? DAKKINS

    VUT HA HA AHA 0OWNED BIUTC

    JWILLE REHARET THSE FSY TEH GCHRISYSNS WILL RISE ANDE KILL H AND SEND U OFHJ HELL WHE REINTE HTRE DVEIL EILL VOTE TO TORTUDE UR SSS AND PALY WITH U ANUS BUT I WOULD LIKE THAT XOA U AY ASHHOT
    RIP;ER OF TH KNOWN UNIVERSE

    So, what sort of methodology (or method) leads to RDF staff pronouncing this mail a genuine Christian fundamentalist hate mail? Anyone want to argue that it’s not an obvious Poe?

  71. Your projection is quite amazing. I don’t care if you don’t see all of these emails and snail mails I get, you are trying to claim that they don’t exist, just because you don’t want to believe that your fellow Christians could be assholes. I have those and that Christians say similar things all of the time. You make claims that have no evidence to support them, you don’t even have the evidence I have, nor can you claim you do. All you have is a baseless claim that Dawkins is lying and your conspiracy theories. Congrats, Michael.

  72. Michael says:

    Your projection is quite amazing. I don’t care if you don’t see all of these emails and snail mails I get,

    In other words, you don’t care to supply any evidence to support your claims.

    you are trying to claim that they don’t exist,

    No. I noted that none of us here have any evidence that they exist. You are expecting us to take your word on faith.

    just because you don’t want to believe that your fellow Christians could be assholes.

    Christians can indeed be assholes. But that is not evidence that most of the letters sent to Dawkins were from religious fundamentalists. Look at it this way. That are lot of atheists on the internet who send rape threats (as outlined in many of the FTB atheist blogs). Is that evidence to support PZ Myers allegation that Michael Shermer is a rapist?

    I have those and that Christians say similar things all of the time.

    Again. We have no evidence you have anything. Even if you did, you would need to rule out Poes. Even if you did, you have nothing more than support for the claim that those emails could have been sent to Dawkins by religious fundamentalists.

    You make claims that have no evidence to support them, you don’t even have the evidence I have, nor can you claim you do.

    I provided evidence that someone tried to Poe me, even though this is an obscure blog. I provided evidence that a rather large and active community of Poes exists on the internet. I then provided evidence that there is reasonable cause to doubt Dawkins truth claim.

    All you have is a baseless claim that Dawkins is lying

    My claim is that he has been Poe’d, not lying. Although he did lie in the first video by trying to pass off a book quote as a letter he personally received.

    and your conspiracy theories.

    No conspiracy theory has been invoked or is needed.

  73. Nice lies about me not providing any evidence when I have. Thank you for your interaction, it has done a good job at showing the lengths that Christians will go to in trying to ignore the actions of their fellows.

    I am finished with this conversation, Michael. Outright lies are so sad, and leave little point to continue. You have claimed Dawkins has not told the truth when he said that religious conservatives sent him those emails and insisted that the truth was that they were poe’s, so you did claim he was lying.
    Good bye.

  74. Michael says:

    Nice lies about me not providing any evidence when I have.

    I told no lies. Anyone reading this thread can see for themselves you have not provided any evidence. You claim to have received the same hate mail, but you could easily be making this up. I told you I would be willing to accept your claim on faith, but atheists don’t allow faith. You also shared your opinions about how evil Christians are. But your personal opinion is not evidence.

    Thank you for your interaction, it has done a good job at showing the lengths that Christians will go to in trying to ignore the actions of their fellows.

    What our interaction has shown is that new atheists do not stand on principle when they demand evidence. New atheists don’t think their truth claims need to be supported by evidence. When someone asks them for evidence, they do what you do – get mad and expect people to share in their confirmation bias.

    I am finished with this conversation, Michael. Outright lies are so sad, and leave little point to continue.

    Given the weakness of your position, you feel the need to play to lie card. Of course, I have not lied. I just expect you to practice what you preach.

    You have claimed Dawkins has not told the truth when he said that religious conservatives sent him those emails

    No, I pointed out that his truth claim is without evidence. And he claimed “Relgious Fundamentalists” sent them, not religious conservatives.

    insisted that the truth was that they were poe’s,

    You are lying. Can you quote where I insisted the the truth was they were Poe’s? Of course not. That straw man exists only in your mind.

    so you did claim he was lying.

    Wrong again.

    Good bye.

    See ya.

  75. GRA says:

    If anyone has read CCo’s testmonial of her being a Christian turned Atheist, and a browse of her books that led her to become even more entrenched in her “escape” from Christianity, it pretty much says it all about her. But she’s married to the most perfect man, though.

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