Richard Dawkins is Misguided

Filed under History, Political

Believe me when I say I can take any subject and pretty much tie it back to a political argument. It's not hard because the state has ensconced itself into every facet of life.

A friend of mine recommended that I read "The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution" by Richard Dawkins. It seems that Dawkins' primary beef is that 40% of Americans don't buy evolution. He explains that this is the primary purpose of writing his book. And that's a fine reason indeed. If you have a viewpoint you want to get across, write a book and help people understand.

But that's not why Dawkins is misguided. You have to ask yourself, why is it so important to Dawkins that everyone accept evolution as fact? Well, that's where I get political. Dawkins wants science to be pure. He wants it to be free from pseudo science. And on that, we both agree. But he believes that the only way to do it is to convince the general public to accept evolution. And that's where I disagree. Science shouldn't ever depend on a majority.

If science can only be done by consensus, there will always be conflict. So the solution is to get away from the need for consensus. I'm talking about general consensus, not consensus within science itself.

If you don't get away from consensus, you have to turn to indoctrination. But it shouldn't matter if 50% + 1 of the general public accept one conclusion over another. You can present the general public a mountain of evidence, yet they believe what they want (see OJ trial). Science should be unfettered by general consensus. If the evidence leads a certain place, science should follow that evidence, even if 100% - 1 person believe otherwise.

The problem is that science is funded primarily by government and coercion. Grants come with strings attached. But even if the strings don't affect the outcome of scientific research, a moral problem still exists. The moral problem is that the funds were obtained by violent means.

Government should not be involved in research. It should not do science. There needs to be a separation of science and government, but instead there's a lobby. Research should be funded voluntarily. Political angles always surface. The scientists who do the research that tends to lead to pro-state political outcomes will successfully lobby the funding while the research that leads away from pro-state outcomes will get ignored.

There will always be piles and piles of money waiting to go somewhere. Some of it goes into war. Some of it goes into major economic sectors. But even what's left over for scientific research is huge.

The above is a problem even assuming there is no fraud in scientific research. But imagine what kind of money-pit could happen if research is falsified for a time just to get at that cash-cow. Nobody is surprised when fraud is found in the commodities industry. If "Big Oil" or "Big Iron" is caught with its hand in the cookie-jar, it's almost expected and they get a slap on the wrist. So why would scientific research free from the same scrutiny and suspicion?

There is another gentleman named Dan Dennett who has similar but not identical misguided ideas about education. Dennett is a little less of a prick about it than Dawkins. Where Dawkins would beat people over the head with scientific research, Dennett's approach would be to beat people over the head with all other religions.

Their ideas might be different, but both approaches on dealing with their ideas are identical. They both pine over the democratic implication of ignorance. They both want to take their appeal directly to children, bypassing the parents because they know better.

Dennett claims he wants the parents involved but then asserts that children must be taught all facts in all religion, possibly against the wishes of the parents. I'm sure there are some parents that are totally in favor of this idea. There are some who would rather home school their children, at great expense, to avoid it. Dennett wants to mandate his curriculum policy even for the home schooled.

Both Dawkins and Dennett want to teach their overarching philosophies regardless of what parents value. Check it out, and listen to their recommended tactical political policies:

While Dawkins outright attacks religion, Dennett fanes support for it:

I highly recommend you watch both of the above. It is where education is headed whether you like it or not. The only solution is to abolish government schools. These nutjobs will continue to assert their dastardly policies piggybacking scientific research to get there.

By the way, I'll put anybody on the intelligent design side of the discussion into the "nutjob" category if they are trying to mandate national policies for education too. I know they exist. None of it is valid if the goal forced curriculum. Both sides of the origins debate are trying to leverage public opinion and that's what I object to.

As for the true science itself, I have no objection to it. If you want to research evolution by natural selection, do it. Have fun. It is certainly compelling science. And if you want to teach a curriculum on the same, do it. Offer your curriculum to schools that want to teach it. But don't force it on people by offering it as a national policy. If you have the truth, it should be self-evident. You shouldn't need the violent apparatus of the state to get what you want.

Posted via email from Anthony Martin's Weblog


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  1. Anders Emil says:

    I think you misunderstand Dawkin's argument (and book). The point is not so much to convince the public about evolution in the name of science, but rather to avoid that schools teach fairytales to children who don't know any better. It is appalling to think of the curriculums that some religious people want taught at school, and the only way to battle this kind of indoctrination is to get the facts out to the public.

    In any case, your view of science seems rather elitistic and abstract to me; science is about the real world we live in and most sciences have practical applications for the general public as end result of the studies. So if science is not important to get across to the layman and general consensus, I honestly have no idea what science is for. The only reason why Dawkins is so threatening to religion is because fundamentalists are trying to fight the clear scientific world view because it in most cases directly contradicts their dogma which was usually written thousands of years ago by people who knew nothing of science.

  2. Thanks for stopping by.


    In your first paragraph of your comment, you appear to contradict yourself. You said the point is not so much to "convince the public" about evolution but then you want to "battle this kind of indoctrination" by "[getting] the facts out to the public." Is this equivocation or did I miss your subtlety?


    In your second paragraph, you imply it is important to get general consensus, otherwise science is useless. But as I said, science should not turn on general (read public) consensus.


    I don't find Dawkins all that threatening to religion. He has views that are consistent with evidence. Religion just isn't all that interested in the evidence Dawkins cites.


    The main point of my article is to show that Dawkin and others know that science is subservient to democracy. Dawkins realizes this so he seeks to gain democratic consensus so that the democratic process will in turn promote his view. I think that is an inefficient use of anyone's time.


    Science should not have to appeal to heads of state (through the constituents) to seek the truth. It is a major roadblock. Dawkins is willing to play the game and promote the use of force to further his curriculum for the purpose of increasing the use of force to seek his ends of more pure science. It's cyclical. It's immoral.


    So here's my question for you, dear Anders. Am I free to disagree with the use of force in promoting scientific endeavors?

  3. I half agree with you here -- at least from the sense that forcing things down people's throat through government mandate is just outright stupid (of course it is, government defines stupidity). But I also do agree with the above comment that you misunderstand Dawkins to a degree. The point that most atheists make, myself included, is to be FAIR about how you teach things to kids, and label them correctly.

    I have no issue with Creationism being taught in schools -- only, teach it where it belongs: comparative religion. Make sure kids understand it as a myth that some people believe to be true. The big issue that myself and other atheists have is that "intelligent design" is creationism masquerading as science, the purpose being to get itself into science classes where it doesn't belong. Science SHOULD be pure, as both you and Dawkins mention - meaning it holds up to the scientific method ID has NO methodology, and in the end is an appeal to authority (religious, in this case, not governmental) rather than going through the rigours that evolution has in the scientific method.

    But largely, I very much agree with you - none of that should be mandated.

  4. If there is a scientist who believes Intelligent Design, let's call him Murphy, approaches the evidence with this particular belief, is that scientist able to come to any valid conclusions?


    It seems to me, whatever conclusions Murphy comes to, it is automatically viewed by the scientific community with contempt.


    I am trying to explore why that is and why the scientific community views Murphy with contempt. I conclude it must be along the lines of political reasons rather than scientific ones.


    I'm assuming that Murphy uses the scientific process but just has a different worldview. He goes in directions that atheistic scientists would not attempt to go in. It's to the point that it would be better for Murphy if he never revealed his worldview.


    It's along the same lines as Dawkins' assertion in the video that atheists face limitations when dealing with political discussions. Dawkins thinks in some ways, being dishonest about your beliefs gets you further in politics. I'm just turning it around to science.


    All other things being equal, why should people have to be dishonest about their beliefs in order to be taken seriously?

  5. adam says:

    great summary.

    and you nailed anders emil right between the eyes. he is one of the guys you are writing about.... "fairytales, indoctrination and getting the info out to the public".

    im starting to notice that alot of the super scientific naturalist guys dont pay much heed to the queen of the sciences.

  6. Sean says:

    "If the evidence leads a certain place, science should follow that evidence, even if 100% - 1 person believe otherwise."

    Where does prick Dawkins or nutjob Dennett say otherwise?

    Dawkins wants people to accept evolution because he feels it is perverse to think otherwise.

    If 60% of people thought the stork theory of pregnancy was legitimate science, should he just shut up and not be concerned?

    If 60% of Americans thought the world was flat would you not care about their ignorance?

  7. The reference to 100% - 1 is to illustrate that general consensus doesn't matter if the goal is the truth.


    Dawkins points out in his book that no reputable scientist refutes evolution. I would put that statement on par with being "otherwise to 100% - 1," by way of the fact that this one scientist is looking for evidence to refute evolution scientifically. Dawkins asserts this person is not a reputable scientist, I guess.


    If 60% of Americans thought the world was flat, would I care? I would care, sure. You are missing the point.


    That I care would not mean I want coercive force to correct their ignorance. That's my point.

  8. Sean says:

    How far into the book are you?

  9. I'm about halfway through this piece of work. Far enough to see his evidence is completely and in all other ways irrefutable.

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