Good news, Richard Dawkins is back on his bullshit. I mean, I’m not sure he was ever off his bullshit because I feel like ever since he had that stroke a few years back someone wrestled his social media accounts out of his control so he could no longer tweet about dogs 69ing or whatever.
But thanks to Dr. Matt Lodder on Twitter, I noticed that Dawkins’ latest venture is promoting a far-right Christian evangelical group’s conference, “Speaking Truth to Social Justice.” Dawkins writes, “Pretentious postmodern nonsense is a serious menace in universities & contemporary culture. Peter Boghossian, James Lindsay & Helen Pluckrose are heroes in the fight against it. Hear them at the London conference on “Speaking Truth to Social Justice.””
This is a conference put on by a group called “Sovereign Nations,” run by Michael O’Fallon. They’re explicitly evangelical, as you can tell by O’Fallon’s signature on this letter to American Christians calling for a day of prayer for President Trump because his “enemies continue to try everything to destroy him, his family, and the presidency. In the history of our country, no president has been attacked as he has. I believe the only hope for him, and this nation, is God.”
Their website is basically a copy of Infowars, with worrying about Facebook censoring far-right thought, brown people emigrating to places that should only be for white people, and liberals outlawing Christianity. Their conference begins with a Christian service.
So why, exactly, is Richard Dawkins, famous atheist man, promoting them? Simple: the enemy of my enemy is my friend, and the enemy of both Richard Dawkins and evangelical Christians is, of course, progressive thought.
This isn’t going to be shocking news to many of you who have been, you know, paying attention to what has been happening amongst New Atheists for the past decade. It’s something I (and many others) have been warning people about this entire time — Dawkins, Sam Harris, and others pretend to be pinnacles of rationalism until the subject matter is something they don’t like much, like religions they’re unfamiliar with, or philosophies they don’t understand, or women politely requesting they not be groped at an atheist conference. Just to name some random things.
Evangelicals hate all those things, too, which is why they invited the three “heroes” Dawkins mentions: Peter Boghossian, James Lindsay & Helen Pluckrose. If those names sound familiar, it may be because they’re the guys who were behind the plan to submit a bunch of made-up papers to various journals to prove a thing we already know, which is that peer review is borked. They are also the great minds behind Areo Magazine, which rather ironically was recently revealed to be publishing the work of a fraud named John Glynn, who claimed to be a psychologist with a phD as he wrote evolutionary psychology nonsense. Glynn was also conning Skeptic magazine and Center for Inquiry. When asked why their fact-checkers didn’t catch the obvious fraud, James Lindsay said they don’t have enough money to check facts.
These titans of intellectual thought are clearly the right ones to speak to evangelicals on the topic of “speaking truth” to social justice, and so of course Dawkins would promote them doing so. Or at least, he did promote them doing so until either he realized how obvious he had made his agenda or someone managed to get the phone out of his hand and deleted it.
Because obviously fighting social justice has been Dawkins’ primary goal for a long time now, at least since he objected so forcefully to me asking atheists to be a little better to women at conferences. But a Tweet like this really says the quiet parts loud: Dawkins is saying he does not care about the spread of evangelical Christianity, he does not mind supporting people attempting to introduce a theocracy, and he does not mind promoting actual frauds, if he gets to bash “social justice” while doing those things. Obviously we all have to make compromises here and there — I, for instance, will agree with someone on a specific point though I disagree with them on other issues. But here’s a very real example of how my values differ from Dawkins: while researching exactly what happened with the John Glynn incident, I found an article absolutely excoriating Skeptic Magazine, CFI, and Areo for falling for such an obvious fraud. But I was a little suspicious of just how much of an axe the writer had to grind, so before I cited him in this video or linked to him in the transcript, I checked out the author and found that he is a conservative Republican former Holocaust denier who may or may not have changed his ways. I may agree with him that these publishers are major assholes who really fucked up, and that not all of them are owning their fuck up as they should, but I think he’s a piece of shit as a person and I will absolutely not promote his opinion just because he happens to be attacking people I can’t stand.
Dawkins does not have that compunction. If you are anti-feminist, if you are anti-Muslim, if you are anti-social justice, he will support you because it suits his priorities, whether you also happen to be a white nationalist or an evangelical Christian. That’s why a True Skeptic (™) can’t have heroes, and shouldn’t blindly promote whatever happens to align with your worldview.