Dawkinism for the Clueless Dawkinites: Part 1
Dawkinism for the Clueless Dawkinites: Part 1
Every so often a new megastar of controversy rises from the ashes left by a previous effigy that was roasted in the gaze of proper scrutiny. Old controversialists never die, they just become shadows of their former glory running from television talk show to television talk show trying convince an ever shrinking audience to maintain the rage. It has happened Germaine Greer and to Prof Peter Singer. Popping out the occasional controversial editorial may remind people that they are still alive but how many people would want to defend all of their pronouncements unto the death. Greer has the unattractive habit of dancing on the graves of respected people whilst Singer seems to think that objections to his calls for infanticide are unfairly squeamish.
The universal law of controversy is that what goes up the ladder of public outrage eventually goes down. The producers of controversy eventually find that their grand plans create enough discussion for people to first: look at what they said, and then to examine it carefully. What often looks like the great new hope ends up being nothing more than a passing joke soon to be replaced with another passing joke and now it appears that is Dawkins chance at the limelight.
Pantomimes of Public Opinion
I don’t know why some people automatically assume that a controversial book is more intellectually superior to a non-controversial book (must be an in-crowd thing). Yet in the pantomime world of celebrity trash people will often try to play one of two roles: Peter Pan or Captain Hook. Playing Captain Hook is more fun because you get to be nasty, make nasty suggestions, say nasty things and do even nastier things. The down side is that the audience will boo when they come on stage. (I suppose you could say that those who are cheering Hook are the Hookers.) Guess which role Dawkins plays in his own pantomime. Does Peter Pan or Wendy get to dribble ill-conceived vitriol? Do the Lost Children go out of their way to falsely quote books and put their own twisted fundamentalist interpretation on them? Is the reader meant to think too hard about who is the bad guy? No, Captain (Dawkins) Hook does not care about being right, sensitivities or fairness because his role is to be the figure of terror that scares small children. Meanwhile his crew cackle and laugh at every nasty little thing that he says. And that about sums up the travelling pantomime of Richard Dawkins. He is little more that another Captain Hook twirling his mustache as he laughs at his own cleverness. Or as his fans would say, ‘he is one of greatest minds of our time finally showing these evil people a thing or two.’
Join the Fan Club
You have to get over the initial claptrap of hero worship or booing at the object of scorn if you are to ever understand why Dawkins is such a sensation. He has sold millions of books and made millions of dollars playing his role as ‘Captain Hook’ to an imaginary ‘Peter Pan’ of religion. In doing so he, like his predecessors in controversy, has collected a following of fans that want to be just like him. They quote him; they read his website; buy his books, reference his recommended sources and eventually like all good fans they are shuttled off to the merchandize stand. ‘Loved the show? Why not buy a tee shirt? It worked for Cats and Phantom.’ What his adoring fans do not get is that this all just a pantomime and when the curtain is lifted the joke is on them. Pseudo Intellectual product placement is still product placement. Yet as they sleep in their vitriolic tee shirts and drink cocoa from cups with a picture of an atom on it they are often completely oblivious that they have merely been duped by a brilliant marketing plan aimed at the angry spiteful demographic. (A demographic that others have tapped successfully in the past.) No wonder Dawkins looks so happy. (Far be it for me to suggest that many, if not most of his fans, have next to no knowledge about the difference between science and rationalism.)
Yet that is perhaps Dawkins greatest ploy. Most people have limited knowledge in science and few of his adoring followers, whom I affectionate call Dawkinites, may not understand the scientific validity of his own claims. The Dawkinites like him because he provides them with this year’s supply of biblical misquotes; pseudo-theological twaddle and ‘straw men’ to tear apart. Yet few even know what a ‘MeMe’ is or what is wrong with his ‘Genetic Robot’ theory. Fewer would ask why the same blow torch of scrutiny that is applied to every other scientific pronouncement should not be applied to these two dubious concepts. This is because they are so fixated with the celebrity of Dawkins that they can never bring themselves to question the validity of Dawkinism. Instead we have the pantomime response that Dawkins himself promotes ‘to not forward any respect’ to those who are not committed to the Dawkins version of rationalism. (A version of rationalism we should rightly call Dawkinism.) The question that I will pose is: why is Dawkinism superior to other forms of rationalism that have ridden into popularity on a wave false and misleading information?
In Part-2 I will look at the Meme hypothesis.
You just dare touch one hair on our beloved Dawkins and we will destroy you with wave after wave of vitriol and smear campaigns.
My point exactly. Dawkinism is all about crushing enemies, not open intellectual dialogue.