Ruling Out Some More

Let’s take a look at some more “hate mail” that Dawkins read on his YouTube video. Dawkins introduces the readings by claiming most of the “hate mail” was sent by Religious Fundamentalists. In pyschology, this is called priming. By introducing the thought of a connection between the letters and religious fundamentalists, a person’s mind is primed to more likely make the connection when presented with the readings. Yet if we take a second look at some of those letters, a pattern emerges:

6:05 – “Richard Dawkins, I hope you die of rabies. Bitch licker.”

6:13 – “Richard Dawkins, your father’s sperm was wasted on you, you ugly person. Say hi to your mother.”

6:20 – “Richard Dawkins, he is a dick and needs to be killed in a plane crash or a flame thrower accident.”

6:38 – “Richard Dawkins, I genuinely hope something bad happens to you. Like getting cancer or something.”

Strip away the priming and something should be painfully obvious – there is not a hint of religiosity in these emails.

These are all 100% secular. They look like run-of-the-mill hate mails that any dime-a-dozen troll might send. And they could come from anyone: a feminist from PZ Myers clan, someone who doesn’t like Dawkins politics, someone who likes to troll famous people, someone responding to one of Dawkins’s crazypants tweets about Down’s syndrome, etc. So there is no rational basis for linking these to “Religious Fundamentalists.” None.

To these four we can add a fifth one that begins at 4:50. It’s too long for me to transribe, but if you listen carefully, you will find it to be 100% secular. The person rails against Dawkins as a communist, leftist leech, and a Jew. But nothing religious. Desparate Gnu’s might try to cite the anti-Jew comments as some type of evidence, but that would be silly. After all, it was a New Atheist (and self-described “anti-christian”) who recently sent Jerry Coyne anti-Jewish hate-mail.

Let’s finish with one more:

Ha ha bitch no u are not an atheist, you are a gay-theist!!! lolol
They should call u richard dick-kins because your so busy suckin off bill maher and those labour party dipshits u can’t do anything else
Oh, and your science books are shit, but not as shit as god delusion, dude it was so poorly written it was a waste of toliet paper, muthafuka.
Lol and your wabsite sucks ass big time bee acch!!!
DONT WORRY I WILL BE BACK, TROLLING YOUR STUPID-ASS WEBSITE!!! HA HA AH AHA AHA HA AHA AH HA

Again, strip away the priming and look at the text as is. This one looks pretty secular to me. There are no religious claims or threats. The author mentions Dawkins as an atheist, but that looks like a set up to call him a “gay-theist.” The author attacks Dawkins’s books, but only for being “shit” and “poorly written.” In other words, a troll trying to strike at something Dawkins values.

What’s more, I don’t think there are many religious fundamentalists out there who know who Bill Maher is. And even fewer that know of the slang term “beeach” and who can spell “muthafuka” correctly.

This looks like standard insult after insult after insult after insult trolling to me.

So where do we stand? By my count, Dawkins read 17 letters. Thus far, it turns out that 5 are clearly secular with no basis whatsoever for thinking they were sent by religious fundamentalists. One more is likely to be secular. And another one is quite likely to be a Poe.

For Dawkins to be telling the truth about most of the letters being sent by religious fundamentalists, he needs nine genuine letters. Of the remaining eleven on the table.

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2 Responses to Ruling Out Some More

  1. Andrew says:

    In one sense, I get what you’re doing here.

    In another sense, it seems a waste of time. A far more biting and effective response would be: “Hey, it’s a bunch of letters written by trolls or ignorant people to another”. Even if every single letter was from an extremist “Christian”, it would prove nothing except that at least a few such people exist.

    Out here in Australia, there are a bunch of white men who have been convicted of fraud, embezzlement and similar crimes. The existence of such people doesn’t reflect badly on me unless one can show a more-than-surface coherency between them and I or unless I choose to identify with them.

  2. TFBW says:

    The major point is not how the letters reflect on Christians, although that is the aspersion that Dawkins and co wish to cast. The major point is that Dawkins harps on about how he uses evidence and reason, which are good bases for knowledge, and how religion uses authority, tradition, and revelation, which are bad bases for knowledge — and yet here we have a clear case of him paying no heed to fairly obvious evidence. The major point is the blatant double standard that Dawkins and his ilk apply: they are super-critical of anything which lends support to theism, but credulously uncritical of anything which aids the anti-theistic agenda. It’s not just that it’s a double standard — it’s a double standard held by a man who promotes himself as being a paragon of rationality, and people take his word for it because he’s a famous science professor. If ever there was a need to point out the emperor’s nudity, this is it.

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