Sunday, March 23, 2008

Ahhhhhh, shhhhhaddd uuupppp already!

Science advocate Matt Nisbet seems to continue to not like having the likes of PZ Myers and Richard Dawkins around (he also likes to gripe about Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens). Its just anyone who is opinionated about religion and science.

PZ Myers:

You just knew Matt Nisbet was itching to voice his opinion, and we all knew exactly what he'd say.

As long as Dawkins and PZ continue to be the representative voices from the pro-science side in this debate, it is really bad for those of us who care about promoting public trust in science and science education. Dawkins and PZ need to lay low as Expelled hits theaters. Let others play the role of communicator, most importantly the National Center for Science Education, AAAS, the National Academies or scientists such as Francis Ayala or Ken Miller. When called up by reporters or asked to comment, Dawkins and PZ should refer journalists to these organizations and individuals.

If Dawkins and PZ really care about countering the message of The Expelled camp, they need to play the role of Samantha Power, Geraldine Ferraro and so many other political operatives who through misstatements and polarizing rhetoric have ended up being liabilities to the causes and campaigns that they support. Lay low and let others do the talking.

So Richard and PZ, when it comes to Expelled, it's time to let other people be the messengers for science. This is not about censoring your ideas and positions, but rather being smart, strategic, tactical, and ultimately effective in promoting science rather than your own personal ideology, books, or blog.
Fuck you very much, Matt. You know where you can stick your advice.

I'm much more impressed by the fact that the Expelled crew is in damage-control mode and is beating a hasty retreat than the pontifications of a mealy-mouthed hack.
I think that puts it well.

Then Nisbet decides to gripe about EXPELLED, cause he's the voice of reason and discourse.

Hmmm. I should have thought the powerful voices of communications experts shrieking at Richard Dawkins to hide under his bed would have had some effect, but no…he's gone ahead and written his review of Expelled. And lo, in the camp of the Framers, there was much wailing and weeping and grinding of teeth, and rending of garments, and epic despair, because surely this will cause the destruction of Science.
Jason Rosenhouse also expresses his thoughts on Nisbet's utterances.

I suspect that everyone reading this has heard the story of what happened when P.Z. Myers and Richard Dawkins tried to attend a screening of Expelled in Minneapolis last week. Short version: P.Z. got recognized and was not allowed in. Dawkins was not recognized and was allowed in. If you've been living in a cave for the last week you can check out P.Z.'s post here. Then scroll through the remainder of his recent posts to hear about the fallout.

There are many aspects of this worth discussing, but here I am interested in only one. Matt Nisbet, you see, is once more beating his favorite dead horse. That's the one where he protests that people like Richard Dawkins and P.Z. Myers (and Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens and Daniel Dennett) are hurting the cause of promoting good science education. They make people think that science and atheism are intextricably linked, you see, which causes fence-sitting religious moderates to side with the forces of darkness and ignorance.

I've discussed this point before at this blog. I see the argument Nisbet (and others) are making, but in the end I do not agree with it. Frankly, I think we need hundreds more just like Dawkins and Myers. That, however, is not the issue I want to raise right now.


But this all goes along with the nasty comments shot at and the comments of those like Dawkins and Myers.

Is Richard Dawkins a Fundamentist?

Chris over at Mixing Memory argues, both in this post and in the subsequent comments, that he is. I think that claim is deeply silly and trivializes the term fundamentalist. I've been mixing it up with Chris and some of his readers in the comments to his post. Having spilled so many words on the issue, I figured I might as well get a blog post of my own out of it. So go have a look and let me know what you think!
New Atheist, Fundamentalist Atheist, it all gets placed on those at are more forthright in their opinions. Some don't want this and it is easier to just "frame" those that they disagree with as fringers or outsiders.

Now not everyone should or needs to be as outright as Richard Dawkins, but the drive to exclude and recategorize people like him is ridiculous. There is room for a variety of approaches. So to just try to silence or dismiss this debate is childish.

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