Lessons from Bill Maher

Bill Maher, recipient of the Richard Dawkins Award and someone who sits on the Advisory Board of Sam Harris’s “think tank,” was recently spouting off about his anti-vaccine views. This led Orac, the physician blogger who first sounded the alarm about Maher’s views, to post a lengthy criticism. Orac summarizes his analysis as follows. Pay attention to the points I emphasized:

Maher believes himself to be the real pro-science advocate. He is about as wrong as wrong can be. He is anti-vaccine, anti-“Western medicine,” and in general antiscience, except for a limited number of areas of science that fit in with his ideological biases. As such, he’s an object lesson in how one can be intelligent and anti-science at the same time. He’s also an object lesson in how being an atheist and being pro-science are related only by coincidence. I had thought that Maher might have been sufficiently chastened by the spanking he received in 2009 and 2010 about his antivaccine stylings. Apparently five years have been enough time for his antivaccine freak flag to fly again.

Yes, this is a nice example of how New Atheists are “pro-science” only when it comes to positions that fit their ideological biases.

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2 Responses to Lessons from Bill Maher

  1. Allallt says:

    “this is a nice example of how New Atheists are “pro-science” only when it comes to positions that fit their ideological biases.”
    Sentences like this are the reason I would really like you to post an explanation of what you see as defining of New/Gnu atheism, different from atheism. I really would appreciate it.

  2. Kevin says:

    New Atheists are synonymous with anti-theists. They are activists with the goal of destroying religious belief. The problem with activists is that the reason they are activists is they are emotionally invested in their beliefs, in this case that religion is horrible and needs to go. And when one is heavily driven by hatred, rationality flies out the window.

    New Atheists will familiarize themselves with the sciences that supposedly disprove God, or at the very least with quotes from atheists who do know the science. This isn’t because they love science, it’s because they view it as ammunition in the war against religious belief. That’s why they will ignore, downplay, or attempt to discredit any scientific study that proves the benefits of religious belief. That’s why they ignore the recent study that showed that only roughly 7 percent of all wars have religion as a root cause.

    And given that they don’t actually love science beyond its usefulness as a weapon against religious belief, they will be as clueless on the actual scientific method as the rest of the population.

    Atheists simply don’t believe in God. It’s almost as vague a description as saying “religion”. New Atheists are anti-theistic activists whose aim is to abolish religious belief.

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