Richard Dawkins reads his hate mail. (SLYT)
November 14, 2010 7:07 PM   Subscribe

"Would you please be so kind as to read some of your hate mail in that adorable British accent?" One of the questions asked of Dawkins in a recent Reddit AMA.
posted by Duke999R (40 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sorry, forgot the NSFW language warning. My bad.
posted by Duke999R at 7:13 PM on November 14, 2010


Why does Reddit get to have Dawkins?!
posted by Jimbob at 7:17 PM on November 14, 2010


Why does Reddit get to have Dawkins?!

They're atheist...... deal with it
posted by Electrius at 7:19 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why does Reddit get to have Dawkins?!

"The perfection of the universe requires that there should be inequality in things, so that every grade of goodness may be realized." -St. Thomas Aquinas
posted by sebastienbailard at 7:32 PM on November 14, 2010 [26 favorites]


transcription
posted by ericost at 7:32 PM on November 14, 2010


What's so adorable about his accent?
posted by glip at 7:32 PM on November 14, 2010


I love that as they begin the hate mail segment, the cat's all "Right, I'm out of here!" and flees the scene.

I bet it was guilty conscience. Cats send a lot of incoherent hate mail when not under surveillance.
posted by Drastic at 7:38 PM on November 14, 2010 [16 favorites]


I find it amusing that the one letter he reads claims that satan will enjoy torturing him (Dawkins). This seems vaguely illogical. If pulling people away from god(s) is what satan (presumably) wants, then Dawkins should be heralded as a hero amongst demons!
posted by MrLint at 7:38 PM on November 14, 2010 [9 favorites]


Bracketing the "what there is" / "what should I do" science/morality discussion at the beginning of the Sam Harris comment (which Dawkins apparently thinks is "cliché"), I don't understand his comment on role of science in ethical decision as regards suffering. Dawkins agrees with Harris that science can "tell you when people suffer," and thinks that this should factor into our moral decisions. Why is it necessary to outsource the identification of suffering to a specific field of scientific research? Does this strike anyone else as totally absurd? What do you do when personal testimony asserts suffering, but the neurophysiological data does not confirm, for any number of reasons, from isolated errors to systemic problems in the research? Alternatively, could the neuroscientist claim that someone who by testimony is content is in reality suffering? Can someone explain how neuroscience helps us identify suffering, rather than merely point to a neurophysiological state correlative to an already recognized phenomenal occurrence? In what sense could we stop relying on personal testimony or phenomenal observation and make the switch to neuroscientific data? In what sense would this help us further identify suffering? Am I misunderstanding something?
posted by Dia Nomou Nomo Apethanon at 7:41 PM on November 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Am I misunderstanding something?

Nup, but I am
posted by the noob at 7:45 PM on November 14, 2010


Like frosted Lucky Charms, that was magically delicious.
posted by Sternmeyer at 7:46 PM on November 14, 2010


Show Biz Don, making movies of himself...
posted by Wash Jones at 7:47 PM on November 14, 2010


I find it amusing that the one letter he reads claims that satan will enjoy torturing him (Dawkins). This seems vaguely illogical. If pulling people away from god(s) is what satan (presumably) wants, then Dawkins should be heralded as a hero amongst demons!

You're assuming Satan has a sense of honor. Why reward the guy when it would be so much more fun to punish him? It's like a great big all-you-can-eat Ethiopian meal, with Dawkins as the edible flatbread serving platter. First you torture all the friends he brought in, and then for dessert you torture the guy himself.

posted by nebulawindphone at 7:49 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Needed string music over the intro.
posted by Wataki at 7:53 PM on November 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Why does Reddit get to have Dawkins?!

Because they don't hate evangelical atheists.
posted by pompomtom at 8:01 PM on November 14, 2010 [12 favorites]


Wouldn't the mere fact that a hell exists be the worst punishment possible for someone like Dawkins?
posted by Throw away your common sense and get an afro! at 8:24 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's not rot on the inside. It's tea!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:29 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wouldn't the mere fact that a hell exists be the worst punishment possible for someone like Dawkins?

No, I'm pretty sure burning forever on a lake of fire would be worse.
posted by device55 at 8:31 PM on November 14, 2010 [6 favorites]


I don't understand his comment on role of science in ethical decision as regards suffering. Dawkins agrees with Harris that science can "tell you when people suffer," and thinks that this should factor into our moral decisions.

I think looking and asking have been identified as reasonable measures of such a thing insofar as there is no motive for deception, and from there you can use them on your own, for simple things, like bee stings or starvation or breaking your arm. For things less clear, like "Does lead in drinking water cause suffering?" it's more practical to assign a team with a relevant skillset to figure it out from the general population, yeah. Science is just looking and then making sure you saw what you thought you saw to greater and greater degrees of certainty, not always taking the most physics-based route, although that is generally the most reliable.
posted by EtzHadaat at 8:32 PM on November 14, 2010


I want to hear him say C3P0 stuff.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 8:42 PM on November 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


No, I'm pretty sure burning forever on a lake of fire would be worse.

See, I was under the impression that hell follows "Treehouse of Horror IV" rules. rather than "Bullshit grandma told me so that I would be good" rules
posted by Throw away your common sense and get an afro! at 8:51 PM on November 14, 2010


Bit posh of course, so not the best English accent, but pleasantly avuncular and enjoyed the cut-away to the fireplace between hate mails; reminiscent of a Songs of Praise type bit of cosy religious broadcasting.
posted by Abiezer at 9:00 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I gained a lot of respect for Dawkins after watching his exchange with Neil DeGrasse Tyson (NSFW for language).
posted by yaymukund at 9:04 PM on November 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yeah but who's his favorite jersey shore cast member. He looks like a snookie man to me.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:08 PM on November 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hate mail sure has a lot of cursing.
posted by device55 at 9:11 PM on November 14, 2010


I'm disappointed in his wavering position on fairies and Santa.

I can only imagine that Death will not be happy.

[You see what you done now Mr Dawkins, you made Death sad!]
posted by Ahab at 9:22 PM on November 14, 2010


Too bad about the snickering.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 9:31 PM on November 14, 2010


Sorry I'm late sir! Barnacles!, Favorite Dawkinsiana (the version I saw was on a "skeptics society lecture series" DVD), but by bits of the transcript, and skimming seems essentially the same, personally a Big fan of the "Barnacles Anecdote" (about 30 minutes in). "No moah, no Moah", "but where does your papa do his barnacles? There's something so implausible about barnacles."
posted by infinite intimation at 10:52 PM on November 14, 2010


What do you do when personal testimony asserts suffering, but the neurophysiological data does not confirm, for any number of reasons, from isolated errors to systemic problems in the research? -Dia Nomou Nomo Apethanon

Suffering is a much more slippery concept than he is letting on in this interview. I think he's abbreviating his argument considerably for the camera, or at least I hope so. Doctors and other medical professionals make these kind of judgments against patient testimony every day with much less information than is available to a capable neuroscientist. This is mostly due to their licenses being tied closely to a very strict set of beliefs surrounding pain medication and the abuse thereof. I'm not sure that a neuroscientist would use a word like "suffering" in any quantitative manner in a peer reviewed paper. I think they'd be more concerned with something which does have physiologically measurable markers, like negative stress. We experience an amazing amount of negative stress without ever being aware of its sources or consequences so that is pretty clearly a type of suffering that someone might not acknowledge. An hour of rush hour driving will cause anyone to experience suffering that is physiologically measurable, but often not recognized by the driver consciously. A 5k run will cause suffering but it's very good for you. It's just not a cut and dry concept and I think it's far less science based than Dawkins would like to admit.

On the other hand you could just let a concept of God guide your behavior, which I can understand why that's a very attractive option to most people, so much simpler. The slightest question of what a god actually is unravels it completely though, so it's not such a strong foundation either.

I'm much less willing to allow neuroscientists to be the sole judges of suffering as Dawkins seems to advocate in this video. Again, I hope he's abbreviating. In the system presented here you're just replacing clergy with scientists and scripture with scientific theory. I am an atheist, but I'm not beholden to Empiricism either.
posted by Locobot at 11:06 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why does Reddit get to have Dawkins?!
posted by Jimbob at 3:17 AM on November 15


Because the r/atheism fundamentalist extremists simply asked him and he said yes?
posted by Decani at 1:35 AM on November 15, 2010


I gained a lot of respect for Dawkins after watching his exchange with Neil DeGrasse Tyson (NSFW for language).

Odd...it kinda makes me lose respect for a dude when he jokingly laughs off well-articulated criticism...haha...fuckoff.
posted by hal_c_on at 2:57 AM on November 15, 2010


Wouldn't the mere fact that a hell exists be the worst punishment possible for someone like Dawkins?

But Dawkins is British so surely he would go to the Anglican hell, which has moved on from the lake of fire thing and is just the 'absence of god'. But that would seem to me to be a bit too much in line with what Dawkins would like from an afterlife so it may well be that the best way to punish Dawkins would be to send him to Heaven, implying he would have to deal with the fact of God's existence for eternity.
posted by biffa at 4:19 AM on November 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


What's a "british" accent?
"Speak British to my kids!"
posted by The Ultimate Olympian at 4:40 AM on November 15, 2010


atheism fundamentalist extremists

*snicker*
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:26 AM on November 15, 2010


For even more contradictory nonsense, try "atheism evangelical fundamentalist extremists."
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:27 AM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Odd...it kinda makes me lose respect for a dude when he jokingly laughs off well-articulated criticism...haha...fuckoff.

You and I have different definitions of "well-articulated". I'm sure Dawkins is tired of being told that he should stop telling people they're wrong when he's telling them they're wrong.
posted by Legomancer at 6:44 AM on November 15, 2010


I confess that I was vaguely amused by the lack of brotherly love expressed by his correspondents as I suspect that at least some of them declare themselves "good, god-fearing Christians" committed to upholding principles like "turn the other cheek," "love thy neighbor" and so on.
posted by cool breeze at 10:19 AM on November 15, 2010


Now I want to write him hate mail solely so I can hear Prof. Dawkins read something I wrote.

DEAR DAWKINS DOG! YOU ARE GOING TO GET NUT-PUNCHED BY GOD FOREVER.
posted by lumpenprole at 2:09 PM on November 15, 2010


I love the off camera, "Oh, Jesus" at 14:38 (or was that 14:08?). I agree with some of the youtube comments, monthly feature, please?
posted by arnicae at 11:30 PM on November 15, 2010


Let's frame this situation, by analogy, in one easy example..le'ts see how it could be explained to a children.

We have two doctors. Doctor Cheat, who was helped by Mr X all the way to graduation, and Doctor Study, who wasn't helped at all and did it all on his own.

One day Mrs Sore Thumb visited Doctor Cheat and said her thumb hurted. Doctor Cheat said the thumb was infected and that he could save her life only by cutting the thumb away. Mrs Thumb tought that it was better to save her life, too bad for the thumb, but then she had many problems while handling things because she lost her thumb. She was happy of being alive, but heck she missed her useful thumb so much.

What Mrs Thumb couldn't know, because she only visited Doctor Cheat, is that there was a better solution. The helpful Doctor Study knew that he could have used penicillin to cure her thumb. Doctor Cheat, being a corners-cutter, immediately looked for the simple solution (cut the thumb) because he didn't care about learning how to cure in a way that is better for the patient. All Doctor Cheat wanted is to be called Doctor, because otherwise people wouldn't have visited him and paid him money for his work.

------

So did the real Mr.X do something "bad" by helping others to write their papers?
Some think it doesn't really matter if the helped person doesn't become able to damage somebody _also because_ of Mr.X help.
posted by elpapacito at 7:30 AM on November 18, 2010


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