Dawkins Co-opts the Skeptics

Have you heard that Richard Dawkin’s organization has merged with the Center For Inquiry, a secular humanist organization?  What’s interesting is that Dawkin’s organization appears to be taking control of the CFI:

The new organization will retain the Center for Inquiry name, while giving a seat on its board to Richard Dawkins, the British evolutionary biologist who is a superstar in the atheist community for his best-selling books on atheism and science and his outspoken talks against religion.

As part of the merger, Ron Lindsay, a lawyer who has headed CFI since 2008 — and shepherded the Amherst, N.Y.-based organization through a difficult and controversial transition from its founder, humanist philosopher Paul Kurtz — will step down. Taking his spot will be Robyn Blumner, the Dawkins Foundation’s executive director for the past two years.

Normally, larger companies/organizations absorb smaller ones in such mergers, but in this case:

In addition to his celebrity, he brings a good bit of cash to CFI. It has a $5.2 million budget for 2016 and 41 employees, according to numbers supplied by CFI before the merger. In addition to its focus on secularism, CFI has programs on human rights, freedom of expression and the advancement of science. The Dawkins Foundation will bring in an additional $1.3 million to $1.5 million and three employees, a CFI spokesman said.

Apparently, the skeptics at CFI are star struck and salivated over having such a famous celebrity take over their organization.  This, of course, should make for some more entertainment in the future, as atheism (which is supposed to be nothing more than a lack of God belief) picks and chooses the “humanist values” that are supposed to come with it.

In fact, some people at the CFI already seem nervous about Tweety Dawk:

“He’s also his own person, and just like everyone else associated with or employed by CFI, he can and will speak for himself on occasion,” Fidalgo added, “and not necessarily for CFI.”

The wishful thinking of skeptics.  Someone needs to inform Fidalgo that Dawkins is not just someone “associated with or employed by the CFI.”  He now effectively runs it.  Thus, he now defines it.

Which kind of explains why Rebecca Watson, the atheist activist who has been banned from speaking at the same conventions as Dawkins, entitled her reaction as “Center for Inquiry Merges with Richard Dawkins & His Twitter Account.”

And his twitter account.   😉

On the other hand, we have this:

The news came as a surprise to many within and outside of organized atheism. There are approximately 20 atheist, humanist and other secularist organizations, all of which have rubbed elbows or collaborated with the Dawkins Foundation in the past. Why did Dawkins take his celebrity and fortune to CFI instead of the American Humanist AssociationAmerican Atheists or the Freedom From Religion Foundation, some of which have given him awards in the past?

“I think it is the science angle” at CFI, said Ryan Cragun, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Tampa who is working on a book about atheist and secular organizations. “Dawkins knows CFI is going to be around for a long time, they have resources in place to support his interest in science and reason. It makes sense to go with CFI.”

Cragun is overthinking this. Why the CFI?  Let’s see if this list can help:

The American Humanist Association’s budget for 2011 was about $2 million

The Center for Inquiry has a budget of around $4.8 mil

American Atheists have a budget of about 588,000

Atheist Alliance has a budget of 158,000

In addition to the CFI having the largest budget, as the news report noted, “CFI, meanwhile, has 21 international branches or representatives, from Canada to Pakistan to Zambia.”

Dawkins wanted his name attached to the largest, most extensive, skeptic/atheist organization out there.  Why?  Always remember he is driven by his ego.  As such, at 74, a plausible explanation is this – Dawkins is trying to immortalize himself.  Look, what’s to become of the Richard Dawkins Foundation once Richard Dawkins is no longer with us?  For a time, it could survive as some type of memorial to Dawkins, selling even more t-shirts and trinkets.  But eventually, it would go the way of Project Reason.  Dawkins could, at some level, be very well aware of this and might be trying to use his celebrity status to hedge against it by attaching his name to the largest, most extensive skeptic/atheist organization out there.

Anyway, let me close by quoting Watson:

In conclusion, the skeptic/atheist sphere is an embarrassing shitshow and the organizations will continue polishing Richard Dawkins’ knob until he dies, at which point he will be sainted and his image will be put on candles and prayed to in times when logic is needed.

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3 Responses to Dawkins Co-opts the Skeptics

  1. John says:

    Wow.So Richard Dawkins,who’s net worth is over 150 million dollars,decided to support the richest and most far-reaching skeptical organisation in the world and/or America.

    It seems to me that New Atheism will only truly die when Dawkins’ money is spent,he cannot support atheist organisations anymore and his own personality cult is forgoten.

  2. Dhay says:

    I’ll remind everyone of the 28 April 2015 “Every Penny” post in which ‘lordpasternack’ is quoted criticising Richard Dawkins and the RDF for alleged financial irregularities involving money donated for disaster relief:

    “Will you bother to check every penny goes to victims? Your assurances have a bad track record.”


    I’ll also remind everyone of the Rationalia forum thread entitled, “For Reason and Science?”; the accusations are spread out over (currently) twenty-seven fascinating pages, but include many such gems as:

    “I am so tempted to ask my boss at the charity I’m involved with, what she thinks of someone [Dawkins] setting up a charitable organisation [the RDF], then using the funds to finance the upkeep of a courtesan. Which is in effect what’s happening here.”


    On Page 25 (post dated 22 March 2015) ‘lordpasternack’ writes:

    I still haven’t completed my referral to the IRS, but I know exactly what I’m going to say. It’s a matter of having the time and the wherewithal to get it down in black and white and finally submit it.

    I have changed my mind about one important thing, though: I’m not going to go straight to the media. I’m going to wait at least 12 months until after I receive confirmation from the IRS that they’ve received my referral – and then I’m going to send Dawkins the referral, with a list of things I would like him to do to fix RDF, or else it all goes to the media.

    Perhaps, just perhaps, the reason for the merger is not as publicly stated, but is instead a financial and reputational damage limitation exercise in anticipation of a possible IRS investigation. At a stroke it is no longer the RDF, with its reported history of funds going missing and incompetent management — at a stroke it has acquired the name, and the presumably impeccable reputation and practice, of the CFI.

    I think it might be a bit gullible of the CFI to put the RDF management in charge, but we will see in due course.

  3. Dhay says:

    Ryan Cragun > “Dawkins knows CFI is going to be around for a long time, they have resources in place to support his interest in science and reason. …”

    For someone who, for decades, was Professor for the Public Understanding of Science, whose role was (Wiki) “to communicate science to the public without, in doing so, losing those elements of scholarship which constitute the essence of true understanding” and “with the express intention that the holder “be expected to make important contributions to the public understanding of some scientific field”” — well, I think Richard Dawkins definitely did make an important contribution to the public understanding of evolutionary biology, but his interest and efforts in any and every other field of science were (and presumably still are after retirement) — er, has anyone any advance on nil? — and in his two The Enemies of Reason TV programmes his attack on the pseudo-scientific nature of astrology was itself pseudo-scientific, a cringe-worthy demonstration of how to pretend to use the methods of science and reason while not using the methods of science and reason.

    Dawkins’ interest, and the RDF’s, interest, in (non-evolutionary) science seems to be limited to the science news collation section of the RDF website, where some staffer writes very brief summaries of science articles published elsewhere, and links to those elsewheres. News collation isn’t much of an active interest in science.


    As regards Dawkins’ interest in reason, in the usage of Dawkins (and Sam Harris, likewise many other atheists and New Atheists), “reason” is in practice merely a euphemism for their anti-theism; by arrogating “reason” to refer to their own camp, hence by excluding contrast denying it refers to others, especially to their ideological opponents, religious people (or “faith-heads”), it stakes a claim that atheists are reasonable and rational thinking people, whereas religious people are not — by implication, religious people “must” be unreasonable, irrational and unthinking.

    But it’s a mere self-labeling, aimed at both exalting their own camp and denigrating their ideological opponents in their own eyes; it’s a propaganda gambit. And didn’t someone once say that what can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

    Dawkins’, er, interest in reason would be better evidenced had not his attempt at philosophical reasoning in his The God Delusion been thoroughly slated by genuine philosophers; at the other end of the spectrum, his tweets likewise by the general public; so he is not in a good position to claim a general competence in reason.

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