Another Tom Johnson: Did Dawkins call religious people “Nazis”?

There is a certain kind of atheist who never misses a chance to slander the Gnu Atheists, and the usual charges are about tone—we’re strident, arrogant, not respectful, and shout forced laughter into the faces of the faithful.

We’ve seen several of these tone trolls, including Phil Plait and Jeremy Stangroom, go after their fellow atheists on these grounds.  Invariably the instances of “stridency” turn out to be either false (as in the case of Walter Smith—the real “Tom Johnson“), or of strong criticism that barely reaches the level of invective (as in Stangroom’s pathetic—and now abandoned—attempts to show us up as evil).

We have another case.  This time the role of Tom Johnson is played by Nick Matzke, former employee of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) and now a graduate student at Berkeley.  Over at Panda’s Thumb, there’s been some discussion of a new essay that is supposed to demonstrate (it doesn’t) that Gnu Atheist invective will turn people away from science.  The original post was by Matzke, who quickly showed that he’s a nasty piece of work.  He first links to the article, which is by Chris M**ney, and then, when the predictable criticism begins, Matzke shows his true colors. (Isn’t it the case that these guys are even more uncivil than the Gnus they decry?)

First of all, please react to what Mooney is saying here, not some generalized reaction to whatever ridiculous grudge the Gnus have built up against Mooney over the years. Tell us what, specifically, you disagree with in what he wrote, and please back it up with science, like science defenders ™ are supposed to do.

I never understand the hot death people rain down on Chris Mooney for this kind of thing (*). They tend to be the same people that rain hot death on all opponents, real or imagined, all the time. You’ve got to realize, the vast majority of people out there are not committed, deliberate creationists (or climate deniers, or whatever). The vast majority of people have very vague ideas about these topics, whatever their opinions. They can be reached, but not if you lead with you are stupid liers [sic] whose religion is also a lie and by the way there’s no God, no objective meaning to life, and if you think otherwise then science is against you, it’s a package deal and you have to accept all that if you accept evolution/global warming.

I’ve done a lot of speaking to general audiences – students, civil rights groups, church groups, etc. Not once has it seemed even mildly likely that provoking a defensive reaction was a good idea. It’s only good, maybe, when you are in a shouting match on a blog or on Fox News, and even in those venues it’s extremely debatable if it does anything other than get people mad and shut down and repel the very people you would like to reach.

Reader Jolo then asks Nick about the Tom Johnson-ish church group business:

Nick, who does this? Who are these people that go into church groups and provoke defensive reactions? You would be willing to back this up with more than a general comment I assume?

Matzke responds with a pretty serious claim:

Well, I have seen Richard Dawkins address large general audiences and quite deliberately, but ridiculously, play the Nazi card against religion. It’s an instance of Godwin’s Law, and it’s no better when Dawkins does it than when anyone else does it.

Reader Chris Lawson, who’s familiar with this accusation, attacks it immediately:

Are you sure you saw that, Nick? Or did you read the news post by Barney Zwartz covering the atheist conference in Melbourne that turned out to be an egregious misquote for which Zwartz subsequently apologised but not in time to prevent it being reposted in newspapers around the world (none of which bothered to report Zwartz’s apology).

I would be impressed if you could show me a single trustworthy reference to Dawkins equating religious belief with Nazism.

Other people ask for details as as well.  What happens? The rest is silence: Nick doesn’t answer.  I suspect it’s because there was no such event (or it’s merely the one that Chris Lawson mentions), and Matzke hopes that this will blow over if he just keeps his head down and shuts up.

I won’t let him, though. Like Woody Allen with Marshall McLuhan, I happen to have Richard Dawkins right behind this sign.  I wrote to Richard and asked him if he’d ever compared religious people to Nazis. Sure enough, the only time he’s been accused of that was the incident mentioned by Chris Lawson.  And Dawkins didn’t compare religious people to Nazis—he simply used the word “Pope Nazi” to refer to Pope Pius XII, a Nazi sympathizer, since Pius’s name had temporarily slipped Richard’s memory.  With Dawkins’s permission I post his reply.

[For a full account of the incident, first read this post on the Thinkers Podium website]

The above account correctly states that I was referring to Pope Pius XII, NOT Benedict XVI. I was answering a question about the absurd Roman Catholic practice of looking for ‘miracles’ performed by dead people as evidence that they should be made saints. The question was about the Australian candidate, Mary McKillop. In addition to her I mentioned another candidate for sainthood, Pope Pius XII, except that I forgot his name and referred to him as ‘Pope Nazi’. A Catholic apologist might object that Pius XII’s Nazi sympathies can be excused on grounds of political expediency, and that therefore I was being unduly harsh in calling him ‘Pope Nazi’. It was my shorthand for  “Pope . . . I’m blocking on his name, but you know who I mean, the wartime Pope who was accused of collaboration with the nazis.”

But what is absolutely certain is that

1. I DEFINITELY meant Pius XII, not Benedict XVI. This should have been obvious to everyone who heard my speech, since Benedict XVI, being still alive, cannot be a candidate for sainthood

2. I DEFINITELY didn’t come anywhere close to equating any religion with nazism

My whole Australian speech is just posted on my website, if you want to listen to the incident. Link here. (The RD site is temporarily down, but you can also see the video here.)

So, I challenge Matzke to break his silence and either apologize, correct himself, or name any other incidents involving Nazis (since he says he’s seen Dawkins do this at “large general audiences,” which is plural).

It’s curious that these New Accommodationists are so quick to criticize us for our tone, but then adopt exactly the same tone (“hot death rain,” “ridiculous grudge”, etc.) in their criticism.  Further, they’re always weak on the facts, unable or unwilling to give specific instances of Gnu Bad Behavior.  And it’s happened again.  Like Tom Johnson, Matzke has apparently made stuff up to support his accusation. I’m starting to realize that people like him actually despise Gnu Atheists more than they do creationists.

And by their own meanness, invective, and even fabrication or gross exaggeration of incidents, these accommodationists—many who work or worked for the NCSE—have alienated a whole group of potential supporters: those who are both vocal atheists and strong supporters of evolution.  In fact, these accommodationists are even worse than Gnus, because they make up stuff.  And why behold you the mote that is in your brother’s eye, but consider not the beam that is in your own eye?

325 Comments

  1. GraemeL
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    “There is a certain kind of atheist who never misses a chance to slander the Gnu Atheists”

    Would those be Agnustic Atheists?

    • Cafeeine
      Posted April 21, 2011 at 7:39 am | Permalink

      Oh, you’re going to Hell for that one.

      (Well, Hell, Michigan. But only if you want to)

      • Papalinton
        Posted April 21, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

        Heaven for the panoramic view, Hell for the company. A win-win?

    • Diego
      Posted April 21, 2011 at 8:49 am | Permalink

      Well done!

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted April 21, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

      + 10. I think I will have to steal that one.

    • Hamilton Jacobi
      Posted April 21, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

      “Agnustics” was coined by Moewicus over here, but by then the thread was nearly dead and not many noticed it. Good to see it picking up steam.

      • GraemeL
        Posted April 22, 2011 at 3:01 am | Permalink

        I had read that post, but it must have been before Moewicus wrote his comment.

        Although I came up with it independently, I do concede that I wasn’t first and shall withdraw my trademark application.

        Thanks for pointing it out and ensuring that the first to think of it got due credit.

  2. Kevin
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    It’s the immaturity of this gaggle of garrulous geese that most annoys me.

    Again, they have devolved the discussion away from the topic at hand (is there a god) to a playground taunting session.

    • Aj
      Posted April 21, 2011 at 8:30 am | Permalink

      Really?

      I would have said that it was their apparently unlimited capacity for being sanctimonious hypocrites which was most annoying. They really are amazingly consistent.

      Oh well, I suppose we can always make our difference of opinion the subject of the next new Gnu New Atheist schism.

      • Posted April 21, 2011 at 9:30 am | Permalink

        Splitters!

        • Posted April 21, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

          “We’re the New Gnu Atheists not the Gnu New Athiests!”

          “Splitters!”

    • designsoda
      Posted April 21, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

      “It’s the immaturity of this gaggle of garrulous geese that most annoys me.”

      Kevin, you missed an opportunity to extend the alliteration!

      How about:
      “It’s the immaturity of this gaggle of garrulous geese that gets my goat.”

      • Posted April 21, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

        Or “… that gets my gander up!”

        Alliteration and sustained metaphor!

        • Posted April 21, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

          Oh… I think I just eggcorned.

          As you were. Nothing to see here. Move along…

          • Diane G.
            Posted April 21, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

            I thought you did that on purpose and were quite clever. :D

            • Posted April 23, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

              Maybe I should trust my subconscious more!

              • Diane G.
                Posted April 24, 2011 at 12:13 am | Permalink

                And BTW, I love the term “eggcorn!”

        • James C. Trager
          Posted April 22, 2011 at 6:26 am | Permalink

          and a pun (for dander) -)

  3. Egbert
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    “It’s the immaturity of this gaggle of garrulous geese that most annoys me.”

    Immanuel Kant said, “Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one’s understanding without guidance from another. This immaturity is self-imposed when its cause lies not in lack of understanding, but in lack of resolve and courage to use it without guidance from another.”

    Although Kant himself, slips very quickly into immaturity himself, the above message is still entirely relevant.

    • AT
      Posted April 21, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

      I love this!

      Thanks for the quote – I will have to check it out in other sources – if you have links to save me Google search or better yet reference the particular work of Kant I’d be much obliged

      thanks

      • Ben Breuer
        Posted April 21, 2011 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

        May be a bit too late already (i.e., you may have found this yourself) but it’s from a newspaper article, Kant’s answer to the question “What is Enlightenment?” (“Was ist Aufklärung?”). Hope this helps.

  4. Posted April 21, 2011 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    Unbelievable. Now, I’ve made mistakes before and fallen for urban legends that turned out to be false. But when it’s debunked, I always admit it. I don’t fault Matzke for swallowing the Zwartz story (and for what it’s worth, I thought the “Pope Nazi” incident was highly unfortunate anyway, since it’s soooo very easy to misunderstand that kind of off-the-cuff remark — I’m pretty sure I would have thought he meant Ratzy too, even though in context it’s quite clear that he couldn’t have). We all believe phony stuff from time to time, especially if it fits our confirmation biases.

    If he’d stood up and said, “Oops, you are totally right, my apologies. I took that story at face value, and I should have dug deeper. However, here is another example of where I think a Gnu alienated a general audience…” Well, if that were the kind of thing we were hearing from the Gnu-bashers, I might think they had a point… As it is, if your tone is incivil AND you aren’t particularly committed to the truth, well, excuse me if I find your opinion rather easy to dismiss.

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted April 21, 2011 at 7:49 am | Permalink

      Well, at this late date anybody following this “controversy” would know whom Dawkins meant. It’s not credible that someone saw this THIRTEEN MONTHS ago and wasn’t aware of the ensuing clarifications and posts.

      • Papalinton
        Posted April 21, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

        I was at that conference when Dawkins forgot Pius XII’s name. It is as he recounts it. Nothing more nothing less. Matzke would do well to correct the mistake, unconditionally.

        Indeed he should watch the video of Dawkins presentation to assess the context.

      • Papalinton
        Posted April 21, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

        I was at that conference when Dawkins forgot Pius XII’s name. It is as he recounts it. Nothing more nothing less. Matzke would do well to correct the mistake, unconditionally.

        Indeed he should watch the video of Dawkins presentation to assess the context.

        http://richarddawkins.net/videos/617348-update-4-20-richard-dawkins-global-atheist-convention-2010

  5. jose
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    Summary:

    – Gnus are mean to the public.
    – Prove it.
    – Well, Dawkins plays the Nazi card in conferences.
    – Prove it.
    *silence*

    *some time passes*

    – Gnus are mean to the public.

    • Tyro
      Posted April 21, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

      I thought Nick’s point what that, in order to persuade and convince people you need to be gentle, accepting of their quirks and as polite as possible as he demonstrated by being attacking, abusive, deceptive and slanderous and thus failing to convince anyone.

      Of course, his failure could have something to do with the way he couldn’t provide evidence for his claims but I chose to give him the benefit of the doubt and think that it was in part due to his abrasive personality and general dickishness. And thus we two groups can find a compromise.

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted April 21, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

        Very good!

      • Badger3k
        Posted April 21, 2011 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

        But by being abrasive and a dick, and not convincing us, he proves his point. As you say, it has nothing to do with a lack of evidence.

  6. Sigmund
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    Andrew Brown definitely accused Dawkins of comparing religious people to nazis – or at least to Hitler. The occasion was his article on Dawkins speech at the rally protesting the popes UK visit. Brown got so many posts protesting his complete misrepresentation of Dawkins remarks ( and so many links to the actual speech showing his claim was untrue) that he changed the wording of the original article. You can probably find the original scurrilous accusations quoted in the comment thread of that article.
    For the record what Dawkins said in his speech was simply that if the vatican used baptismal records to determine who was and who wasn’t a catholic (to boost their numbers) then they would have to include Hitler!

    • Posted April 21, 2011 at 8:14 am | Permalink

      Well, I (and perhaps 20,000 other people) were there for Prof Dawkins’ speech at the protest the pope rally — and IIRC he countered the pope’s equating atheists with Nazis with the correct statement that Hitler was a Roman Catholic, and (as you say), if they claim membership by baptismal records, they have to count Hitler as well.

    • Posted April 21, 2011 at 8:43 am | Permalink

      My question: did anyone, other than a few gnu atheists, criticise the pope when he played the Nazi card against atheists on his trip to the UK last year?

      • Posted April 21, 2011 at 9:33 am | Permalink

        I think so. Not sure, and I haven’t looked it up (yet), but I think I remember a slightly broader “oh that’s a bit much.” Far from universal but broader than a few gnus. (I know I was one – I remember that much.)

      • Kirth Gersen
        Posted April 21, 2011 at 9:39 am | Permalink

        Ratzi was just recycling the old “Expelled” canard. It’s so common now that one can hardly attempt to refute it among non-Gnus without being drowned out in static.

    • Posted April 21, 2011 at 9:49 am | Permalink

      I’d forgotten that…

      I just re-read, a couple of days ago, his 2006 piece on Michael Ruse’s funny little joke of sending his email exchange with Dan Dennett to William Dembski, telling him to post it, without Dennett’s permission. He left out some crucial facts, such as the lack of permission. It’s a nasty piece, to put it mildly.

    • llewelly
      Posted April 22, 2011 at 8:22 am | Permalink

      Sigmund | April 21, 2011 at 7:50 am:

      For the record what Dawkins said in his speech was simply that if the vatican used baptismal records to determine who was and who wasn’t a catholic (to boost their numbers) then they would have to include Hitler!

      But of course in the case of Hitler the Vatican cannot use baptismal records, because the Mormons posthumously baptized Hitler into Mormonism (and posthumously sealed him to his wife and children … awwww, how sweet). So Dawkins is wrong anyway.

  7. GraemeL
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    I didn’t notice until you pointed the cycle out, but it’s almost exactly the same thing that the religious are doing with the Gnus are ignoring all the “sophisticated modern theology” trope.

    Every time evidence is requested as to meanness or sophisticated theology, it goes quiet for a while and then the same claims appear again.

    • GraemeL
      Posted April 21, 2011 at 7:55 am | Permalink

      Gah, that was supposed to be a reply to comment 5, not a new post.

    • Diane G.
      Posted April 21, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

      Agreed!

  8. Hansen
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    “First of all, please react to what Mooney is saying here, not some generalized reaction to whatever ridiculous grudge the Gnus have built up against Mooney over the years.”

    And this came after only a few negative reactions all of which actually *did* comment directly on what Mooney had written. In other words, Nick Matzke himself is clearly guilty of exactly the kind of generalized, knee-jerk criticism that he accuses Gnus of. Projection much?

  9. Posted April 21, 2011 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Hold on Jerry, I take issue with you here.

    Whilst Nick may well have overdone the rhetoric about Richard Dawkins, there really is a big issue of allies in the science v religion debate.

    Before anyone gets on their high horses, I have suggested that fundamentalists are basically no different from Nazis and am a non-believer.

    Nevertheless, the NCSE where Nick formerly worked is not in the game of science v religion; it is an anti-creationist organisation, just like the British Centre for Science Education (which I helped set up and help run).

    We have a political battle, to keep the creationists out of state-funded schools. It requires our very limited resources to be tightly focused on what is a single issue matter.

    Moreover, it will fail if it involves a general attack on religion because:

    1. You’ll lose a pile of allies.

    2. The message immediately becomes confused and will be ignored.

    3. It will immediately lead to a huge over stretching of resources.

    If you want creationism out of schools, it’s not an intellectual battle. It’s politics and you have to play politics to win. That includes forming alliances with whom you might find distasteful and keeping your distance from many you might agree with.

    It’s exactly the same if you are a trade union leader organising a strike. Once you call the strike, all your beliefs and opinions are irrelevant. All that counts is how many are on your side of the picket line.

    If you lose sight of that, you deserve to fail, and will.

    Pick you enemies carefully and, where possible, don’t let them pick you.

    Lay off Matzke for starters. The attack sounds like a bunch of Grimsby fish wives.

    • Posted April 21, 2011 at 8:49 am | Permalink

      You obviously don’t follow this site. I have never said that the NCSE should espouse atheism; I have said that it shouldn’t espouse either atheism or accommodationism. It should just teach science and oppose creationism. Leave the religion coddling (which is an explicit part of the NCSE) out of it, and don’t put in any atheism.

      So are you asking the rest of us atheists, who oppose creationism as well, to just shut up about religion?

      Or do you think the battle against creationism is so much more important than the one against the pernicious effects of religion that we should concentrate on the former and simply keep our mouths shut about the latter? You realize, of course, that creationism will never go away until religion does. I know of only a single creationist (David Berlinski) who isn’t motivated by religious faith.

      If you’d read my popular book promoting evolution (WEIT), you’ll see that I say virtually nothing about religion.

      I’d suggest, then, that you lay off telling us what to do until you’ve read about our goals. The fact is that we’ll always be fighting creationism until religion goes away, and when it does the fight will be over, as it is in Scandanavia.

      • Posted April 21, 2011 at 9:27 am | Permalink

        In case anybody is wondering, the Society for the Study of Evolution (of which our host is currently president) has the perfect treatment of the matter:

        http://www.evolutionsociety.org/resourcesgeneral.asp

        If it ever becomes necessary to address the matter directly, this letter shows how it should be done:

        http://www.evolutionsociety.org/download/idessay.pdf

        If the NCSE were to adopt a similar policy, the Gnus would be thrilled.

        Cheers,

        b&

      • Posted April 21, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

        Seems to me that the best way to “attack” religion is to go for the extremists because they are the big problem. The clever way is to divide what you think your enemy is, not take them all on at once.

        The United States has a really big an depressing problem with fundamentalists; they are a huge force within the Republican movement and are deeply politicised.

        If you have a political problem, play politics rather than intellectual masterbation.

        • whyevolutionistrue
          Posted April 21, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

          It’s spelled “masturbation.”

          • Helen Wise
            Posted April 21, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

            oh, shucks, I was going to say that.

            • whyevolutionistrue
              Posted April 22, 2011 at 9:03 am | Permalink

              He’s finally learned to spell it as he continues his tone trolling over at the Dawkins site. LOL!

        • truthspeaker
          Posted April 21, 2011 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

          “Seems to me that the best way to “attack” religion is to go for the extremists because they are the big problem. ”

          Unfortunately, when you attack Christian extremists, or Muslim extremists for that matter, their less extreme co-religionists tend to see it as an attack on them – even if you specifically mention the extremists as your target – and leap to the extremists’ defense.

          • articulett
            Posted April 22, 2011 at 3:19 am | Permalink

            Besides even the non-extremists promote the silly idea that “faith is a virtue”– and that there are “other ways of knowing”.

        • truthspeaker
          Posted April 21, 2011 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

          I also don’t see this as a political problem at all – it’s an intellectual, moral, and social problem. People have a bad tendency for treating those problems as political problems, which results in them voting for politicians for reasons that have nothing to do with how that politician will vote on or implement government policy.

        • Egbert
          Posted April 22, 2011 at 4:30 am | Permalink

          The fundamentalists or the fundamentalist enablers? Both are fair game.

    • truthspeaker
      Posted April 21, 2011 at 10:39 am | Permalink

      We are not the NCSE. Their goals are not identical with our goals. I don’t expect the NCSE to attack religion. I do expect them not to attack us for attacking religion.

    • Helen Wise
      Posted April 21, 2011 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      Well, jeepers, Roger. This is not a great way to win friends and influence people.

      You’re just going to blow off Matzke’s misrepresentation of Dawkins, ignoring the fact that it isn’t ok to (continually) make stuff up?

      And then when people object to this, you’re going to accuse them of getting “on their high horses”, and then tell them to lay off?

      You’re not helping.

    • tomh
      Posted April 21, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

      Roger Stanyard wrote:
      If you want creationism out of schools, it’s not an intellectual battle. It’s politics and you have to play politics to win.

      In the United States, this is exactly wrong. The political and legal battle is settled, US law is clear, and it says that it is against the law to teach creationism in science class in public schools. Period. The problem is, the law is a routinely ignored, ignored with the full support of school boards, parents, and especially, religious authorities. The poll in that article shows that 13% of public high school science teachers teach creationism more than an hour a day, another 60% are afraid to teach anything (“a large number claim that students are free to choose evolution or creationism based on their own beliefs”) and only 28% teach evolution. There is no political or legal solution to this, we already have that. The problem will not go away until the influence of religion wanes.

    • gillt
      Posted April 21, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

      What’s clear from Roger Stanyard’s characterization of the events is that he’s drawn a line separating himself and the NCSE from Gnu Atheists.

      How much overlap is there at the NCSE between anti-Gnu and anti-creationist politics?

    • Posted April 21, 2011 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

      If the battle were merely to move the support for evolution a few percentage points your analogy to trade unionism and picket lines would serve well. If that is the purpose of your new organization, then you have perhaps set the wrong goals. But, it’s your battle in Britain and not mine and perhaps you understand the whole thing better than I do.

      If I may paraphrase Sam Harris from The Moral Landscape, acceptance of evolution is only part of the effort to rid students and pupils and citizens of creationist-style thinking. The battle is to teach people to think critically and skeptically so that acceptance of evolution becomes inevitable. Creationism is just a symptom, it is not the disease. It is patronizing to pretend that evolution has no implications for religious beliefs. Patting believers on the head to say “You can think both scientifically and religiously, but it doesn’t matter as long as you go along with natural selection” only claims a temporary victory. The people you are trying to reach will only have a partial understanding of the process of science.

      The NCSE should focus on science education and leave the religious to figure how to accommodate. It shouldn’t be favoring theistic evolutionists over another religious set of beliefs.

      The larger point is that Matzke misrepresented Dawkins, and this is dishonest and if I may be so bold and use a Tom Johnson reference towards Nick:

      “You’re not helping.”

    • articulett
      Posted April 22, 2011 at 3:17 am | Permalink

      Shouldn’t god belief be treated like demon belief and other supernatural claims by science organizations– that is, ignored? Dismissed? Why do you think that evolutionary acceptance is highest in the most secular nations? How do you think evidence can help ameliorate ignorance in an audience who have been told that their salvation depends upon them believing the right creation story?

      When a scientific organizations coddles some bands of religion, it gives the false impression that some brands of religion are scientific and worth coddling. I don’t want to be a part of any organization that gives that impression.

      I’d prefer it if religious folks were encouraged to keep their magical beliefs private– the way they want those of conflicting faiths to keep theirs. If they don’t mention their religion, I’ll presume they are rational, and I’ll refrain from mentioning my opinion of grown ups holding magical beliefs.

      It seems clear that you thought you knew the gnu atheist position, but you were wrong. What else might you be wrong about?

    • Ichthyic
      Posted April 22, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

      “Lay off Matzke for starters. ”

      sorry, but “He started it!” actually does apply here.

      It’s Matzke you should be telling that too.

  10. NickMatzke
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    It’s a bit anxious to go after me like this, I think, it’s a busy week and it’s lot like I always get around to responding all to comments on any blog including my own, but oh well.

    But what I was referring to was a Dawkins talk I watched at the University of Oklahoma in 2009. There was a slight in that talk that had (a) some typical image representing religion and (b)a dramatic Nazi photo side-by-side. It was up for a long time. It was part of Dawkins’ discussion of “archaeo-purpose” and “neo-purpose”, and so I know some will say that he was just taking these as two examples of how human instincts can be coopted for “neo-purpose” — but (a) there are a million and one things you could juxtapose on a slide besides religion and Nazis, especially since Nazis are pretty much the most emotionally-provoking worst thing anyone can think of, and (b) IIRC, it happened again later in the talk.

    I didn’t have a recording of the talk, but lucky for me it is online:

    at 37:39.

    There we go, up on the screen for like a minute, in the midst of a talk which by the end was sticking a finger in the eye of religious people almost for the sake of doing so (although I understand that this talk was pretty restrained on the religion front, for Dawkins), we have (a) one photo of the pope, and (b) 3 nice photos of Nazis. This is not a slide aimed at scholarly, reasoned academic discussion, it is an attempt to connect religion and Nazism — to express Dawkins’ emotional view of religion, and/or bring out that feeling in viewers.

    If that weren’t enough, at 44:24 we have slides with (a) God, (b) the Ayatollah and Ted Haggard, and (c) some tribal group and…Nazis. The next slide is of some Amish or some such. The whole discussion connects religion, militarism, 9/11, etc. as all examples of the same thing.

    • Posted April 21, 2011 at 8:48 am | Permalink

      Nick: did you publicly criticise the pope when he compared atheists to Nazis during his UK visit last year?

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11332515

      Or do religious leaders get a free pass, as usual?

      • Badger3k
        Posted April 21, 2011 at 8:59 am | Permalink

        Ray – don’t you know that religious people like the Pope have nothing to do with the Evolution – Creationism battle that is the only thing we need to focus on! /snark

      • SaintStephen
        Posted April 21, 2011 at 9:04 am | Permalink

        Nick…

        Your 15 minutes of fame is nearing the end.

        Quickly now. Say something interesting before you fade away into irrelevancy.

        • SaintStephen
          Posted April 21, 2011 at 9:13 am | Permalink

          The picture being referred to in the video above is right here

      • Garnetstar
        Posted April 21, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

        Extremely good point. And I want to hear Nick’s answer.

    • Posted April 21, 2011 at 9:14 am | Permalink

      Oh, bother.

      Nick, enough with the pearl-clutching on the fainting couch. You’re reading waaaaaaay too much into all that.

      I’d dissect your nonsense, but you’re displaying such paranoia I’m sure you’ll just turn it around and paint me with the same boogeyman brush.

      Maybe somebody else with more optimism and / or patience will have a go at it.

      Cheers,

      b&

      • AT
        Posted April 21, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

        ben,

        love your comment – totally share the attitude of withdrawing from a discussion when it reached the point when any word that would be said is automatically mis-interpreted by either party

    • Posted April 21, 2011 at 9:20 am | Permalink

      I’ve watched this talk before, and I’ve just watched the relevant bit again.

      Richard Dawkins is his usual mild-mannered self throughout this talk. At the relevant point you’ve referred to, he is making the point that we can find our purposes redirected in the service of such things as nations, churches, sects, and parties. The slide illustrates that, and it correctly underlines the dangers that can be brought by this redirection of purposes in the service of something “greater”. This is what much of his talk was about.

      No wonder we lose patience with people like you, Nick. You have distorted things in a way that is intellectually dishonest. There’s no other way to say it.

      Anyone who watches this wonderful talk – and I encourage everyone who hasn’t seen it to watch it – will see for themselves.

      • Posted April 21, 2011 at 9:22 am | Permalink

        Put more succinctly, they are the same thing in the sense of the talk. I.e., they are examples of how we can put ourselves in the service of these sorts of collective things such as parties and sects. That’s what Richard is arguing, and I think he’s basically right.

        • latsot
          Posted April 24, 2011 at 4:52 am | Permalink

          Quite so. It’s not *automatically* bad to compare a group to nazis.

          It’s bad if you’re unfairly using the negative connotations of what the nazis did to smear that other group in lieu of an actual point (Expelled springs unbidden to mind).

          That is very clearly not what Richard was doing in this talk. Insofar as he’s making a comparison at all, it’s an apt and perfectly fair one.

      • truthspeaker
        Posted April 21, 2011 at 10:58 am | Permalink

        “No wonder we lose patience with people like you, Nick. You have distorted things in a way that is intellectually dishonest. There’s no other way to say it.”

        There is another way to say it: Nick Matzke is lying.

    • Al West
      Posted April 21, 2011 at 9:27 am | Permalink

      It would be a bit rash to brush that comparison aside, of course, and to be fair, there is an implicit connection made between Catholicism and Nazism. But Dawkins’ point isn’t an explicit comparison between *all* of religion and Nazism. It’s a connection in one aspect, that of loyalty to a cause that seems morally repugnant from the outside – the connection espoused being seemingly quite apposite. Dogmatic Catholicism and Nazism *do* have a lot in common, and in fact, the Nazi comparison shows something about the sociology of religion and patriotism rather than the beliefs of either. Socially, they are in many ways the same. In-group identity can be pathological. That Dawkins believes Catholicism to be pathological would seem to be on the record…

      • FarSeeker
        Posted April 7, 2014 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

        “Richard Dawkins is his usual mild-mannered self throughout this talk.
        Calmness means little. Any conman can deliver their BS in a clam manner.

        “At the relevant point you’ve referred to, he is making the point that we can find our purposes redirected in the service of such things as nations, churches, sects, and parties. The slide illustrates that, and it correctly underlines the dangers that can be brought by this redirection of purposes in the service of something “greater”. This is what much of his talk was about.”
        Such as when you redirect your Rationalism to make an Enemy of “Them”:
        RE:
        “Seems to me that the best way to “attack” religion is to go for the extremists because they are the big problem. The clever way *is to divide what you think your enemy is*, not take them all on at once.”

        Dawkins was clearly using a “Reductio ad Hitlerum” fallacy. Otherwise It would be more effective for him to use Stalin as a warning to Atheists about their own, “redirection of purposes in the service of something ‘greater’.”
        “It’s not *automatically* bad to compare a group to nazis.”
        Now that’s BS!

        “In-group identity can be pathological. That Dawkins believes Catholicism to be pathological would seem to be on the record.”

        ” It’s a connection in one aspect, that of loyalty to a cause that seems morally repugnant from the outside”
        Such as that shown by Atheists on this forum? Or that shown by the Allies (& French Partisans) against the Nazis?

    • Insightful Ape
      Posted April 21, 2011 at 9:56 am | Permalink

      Have you no shame, Nick the liar? He juxtaposes pictures of Ted
      Haggard and the ayatollah to show examples of “auhority figures”. So you are telling me they were not authority figures? In the next picture he is showing some tribesmen next to the Nazis, to show examples of “loyalty”. Does this mean he thinks the tribesmen are Nazis?I know how ridiculous you can get , but it is really laughable if that is what you are implying. Likewise posting pictures if the pope and the Nazis again is to give example of the phenomenon of strong group loyalties.
      It may mean to you he us calling all religious people Nazis, but not to anyone with two brain cells to rub together.

    • Posted April 21, 2011 at 10:00 am | Permalink

      Oh for heaven’s sake. Just look at the film Matzke has kindly posted here and decide for yourself. Did you ever see such gratuitous (one cannot help suspecting deliberate, agenda-driven) misunderstanding? Just watch the film for yourself: it speaks for itself. There is nothing more I need say, except that Matzke’s new alleged example is even more pathetic than the discredited ‘Pope Nazi’ one.

      Richard

      • Insightful Ape
        Posted April 21, 2011 at 10:19 am | Permalink

        It is not a misunderstanding. He is caught claiming Richard “equates religion with Nazism”. All he has to back up such a serious claim is a talk that, applying the same criteria, can be taken to mean Richard is equating African tribes with Nazis.
        It is deliberate mendacity.

      • Posted April 21, 2011 at 10:31 am | Permalink

        Amen, brother.

        b&

      • SaintStephen
        Posted April 21, 2011 at 10:38 am | Permalink

        You have long coattails, Professor Dawkins, which are only going to get longer as your fame increases.

        Unfortunately, such coattails are prone to collecting fleas and other opportunistic vermin, like this pathetic Nick Matzke.

        • Posted April 21, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

          Opportunistic vermin? That’s nice. Jeez, I didn’t realise just how nasty some of the people posting here are.

          • whyevolutionistrue
            Posted April 21, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

            Yes, play the tone card, and ignore how I responded to you with substantive arguments (without rancor, notice). And, of course, you’ve lost a lot of potential supporters with your own post, which was hardly polite.

            Well, you have plenty of allies with the accommodationists at NCSE.

            • Microraptor
              Posted April 21, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

              And lost the NCSE at least one potential donor.

              • Harry
                Posted April 22, 2011 at 3:06 am | Permalink

                Richard has posted about this on his site, and Stanyard has taken his whinging over there. He spells “masturbation” correctly this time.

              • Ichthyic
                Posted April 22, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

                “He spells “masturbation” correctly this time”

                heh.

                One would hope that with repeated engagement of the behavior, would at least come knowledge of correct spelling.
                :)

          • gillt
            Posted April 21, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

            I didn’t realise just how nasty some of the people posting here are.

            Intellectual dishonesty and misrepresentation you let slide, but name-calling…you apparently find that just too offensive not to comment on.

            • Badger3k
              Posted April 21, 2011 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

              Get a fainting couch – he’s getting an attack of the vapors!

          • SaintStephen
            Posted April 21, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

            Roger:

            Please don’t sacrifice the English language in your churlish pursuit of irrelevancy on Professor Coyne’s website. By the way, turning people away from their religious delusions isn’t properly characterized as a “war”. “Divide and conquer” indeed. What a maroon you are. (Get back to your Panzer blitz board game.)

            And in case you’re interested… I employed the apt definition 1c for the word verminfrom The Merriam Webster Online dictionary:

            1c: animals that at a particular time and place compete (as for food) with humans or domestic animals.

            Seems perfect for Nick Matzke (and you, weasel).

          • Matt Penfold
            Posted April 22, 2011 at 8:53 am | Permalink

            You object to “Opportunistic vermin” but are happy to condone Matzke’s dishonesty ?

            I am underwhelmed by your moral and ethical standards.

            • latsot
              Posted April 24, 2011 at 5:05 am | Permalink

              Oh it’s not about the argument, Matt, it’s about being holier than thou. It’s a classic ‘bigger picture’ maneuver: I don’t need to have an actual argument if I can pretend to be a lone combattant wrestling with a nuance everyone else is too stupid to understand. The beauty of the bigger picture maneuver is that even when you’re called on it, you can *still* retreat to a yet bigger picture, where details such as your obvious lies are no longer relevant to your ever-decreasing point.

      • Fraser
        Posted April 21, 2011 at 10:39 am | Permalink

        Personally, I’m grateful to Mr Matzke; it was a great talk and I’m glad I was alerted to it.

        Anyway, Hitler was anti-smoking! Why do you love smoking so much?

      • Posted April 21, 2011 at 11:38 am | Permalink

        Richard Dawkins himself! As you can see, the Nazi card is highly emotional any way it is played. You and Coyne have come out of the woodwork over one guy’s pretty vague statement about it in one comment way down in the list of comments on a blog. Perhaps this will help you to see why it’s almost impossible to put up a slide with one pope photo and three Nazi photos and not have the audience make a connection.

        So, here’s the question for Dawkins or anyone else. Why one pope and three Nazi images on the slide, out of all the images that might have been chosen? Everyone have another look at:

        At the very least, even if you don’t accept that it’s reasonable to think that Dawkins was connecting religion and Nazis with this slide, you have to admit that the slide was a bad call, if the purpose was supposed to be objective scholarly discussion of religion. Nazi images are basically the closest thing us modern democracy-loving folks have to waving a red cape in front of a bull.

        (PS: All that said, Coyne and others are blowing this way out of proportion. My actual view is that in general I enjoy his work, and I enjoyed Dawkins’ talk overall, just as I enjoyed doing breakfast with him that morning. I was coincidentally at University of Oklahoma speaking for a different Darwin anniversary event for the Zoology Dept. It’s just that there were parts of the talk I disagreed with, basically the parts where I think religion was being unnecessarily or unfairly attacked. Which shouldn’t be surprising. When someone claimed indignantly that gnu atheists never cast unfair aspersions on religion, this came to mind, because I witnessed it.

        Even if I were wrong about this, it doesn’t deserve the hot death, accusations of lies, etc., comparisons to some internet imposter, etc., that Coyne et al. are sending my direction.

        • truthspeaker
          Posted April 21, 2011 at 11:44 am | Permalink

          “At the very least, even if you don’t accept that it’s reasonable to think that Dawkins was connecting religion and Nazis with this slide, you have to admit that the slide was a bad call, if the purpose was supposed to be objective scholarly discussion of religio”

          No, we don’t have to admit that at all.

          Pope Pius was a Nazi sympathizer.

          The Nazis got their antisemtitism from the Catholic and Lutheran churches.

          These are historical facts.

          “Even if I were wrong about this, it doesn’t deserve the hot death, accusations of lies,”

          You told a lie, so you get called a liar. That’s how it works, Nick.

          • Posted April 21, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

            There’s one vote for “Yes, we SHOULD be comparing religion to Nazis.” This totally undermines other folks’ indignant reactions to the idea that gnus make such comparisons.

            • truthspeaker
              Posted April 21, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

              Where the comparison is appropriate, sure. But your claim wasn’t that Dawkins was comparing religion to Nazis, it was that Dawkins “played the Nazi card with religion”. That’s a very different claim.

              The rise of the Nazis, and how they did it, tells us a lot about sociology and human behavior. Why should that be exempt from discussion? Why should the sociological aspects of religion be exempt from discussion? Why should the Christian influence on Nazi ideology be exempt from discussion?

              • ckitching
                Posted April 21, 2011 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

                The rise of the Nazis, and how they did it, tells us a lot about sociology and human behavior. Why should that be exempt from discussion?

                Ooh! Ooh! I know! I know! Because it might tell us some rather unflattering things about ourselves and our capacity to happily inflict grievous harm to others? And it might make people feel uncomfortable as a consequence if they see parallels to their own lives?

            • SAWells
              Posted April 21, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

              You accused Dawkins of “deliberately and ridiculously playing the Nazi card against religion”

              What you have pointed out in the talk is no such thing.

            • llewelly
              Posted April 22, 2011 at 10:02 am | Permalink

              Thank you, Tom Johnson.

        • Helen Wise
          Posted April 21, 2011 at 11:59 am | Permalink

          “It’s just that there were parts of the talk I disagreed with, basically the parts where I think religion was being unnecessarily or unfairly attacked. Which shouldn’t be surprising.”

          Surprising, it is not.

          Given an opportunity to include gripes against gnus when you write, you unfailingly avail yourself.

          In this particular instance of gnu-bashing, you’ve embroidered on the facts, haven’t you, when reality hasn’t supported you as well as you’d like?

        • Insightful Ape
          Posted April 21, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

          “Coyne and others are blowing this way out of proportion.”
          I have to say Nick is the typical web troll true to form. When he gets caught with his pants down, he accuses others of “blowing it out of proportion”.
          So Nick, if putting pictures of Nazis is a “bad call” as you put it, then why aren’t you whining about Richard putting pictures of Nazis next to tribemen of Africa?
          Maybe because that would mean “Dawkins equating belong to a tribe with Nazism”. And then even you couldn’t run away from the ridiculous it sounds.

          • Microraptor
            Posted April 21, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

            Next thing you know, he’s going to have a sockpuppet account claiming that he’s a certified genius and everybody who disagrees with him isn’t smart enough to get the joke.

            • Badger3k
              Posted April 21, 2011 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

              I hear Scott Adams has one for sale.

          • nichole
            Posted April 22, 2011 at 9:58 am | Permalink

            Look, clearly the only person who’s allowed to blow things way out of proportion here is Nick Matzke.

        • Garnetstar
          Posted April 21, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

          That juxtaposition was not an attack on religion. Nothing in Dawkins’ talk was.

          Religion and Nazism are exactly equivalent in the way that Dawkins was discussing.

          His point was that religion, patriotism, etc., are examples of the flexibility of the brain’s goal-seeking ability. That that ability, while evolved to seek the goal of propagation of genes, is flexibile enough to generate other goals and sub-goals, to which entire lives can be devoted.

          The slide illustrates that point perfectly, and no other meaning is implicit in it. Religion and Nazism are “equated” only in this scholarly and inoffensive manner.

          I think that Nick is seeing what he wants to see.

          • Posted April 21, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

            So are sports, star trek clubs, knitting groups, going “greek” in college, new atheism itself, and a million other things, but no, again and again, Dawkins picks militarism and religion as his subjects of choice, in the talks and the slides.

            • truthspeaker
              Posted April 21, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

              Yes, because they have a lot in common, and have historically been very destructive forces. So what? Dawkins often speaks on the harmful aspects of religion. Do you object to that for some reason?

              • NickMatzke
                Posted April 22, 2011 at 7:05 am | Permalink

                Wow, yet another vote for “yep, they were compared, and rightly so!”

                How much of this are we going to have to see before it is admitted that I’ve got a point here? Again and again, we have: (a) Indignant protests that gnus / the leaders don’t make unfair or hyperbolic comments about religion, followed almost instantaneously by (b) justifications of just those sorts of comments.

                I’m just reading through the thread here, but I have yet to see a defense so far of the 1 pope + 3 Nazi images slide. We’ll see what comes up later.

              • Posted April 22, 2011 at 7:27 am | Permalink

                So you want a defense of the slide. I can try that.

                The first picture, top-left, shows religious authority which most people in Western-style democracies are indoctrinated to respect from an early age. The one under it shows youth patriotism that encourages youth to be supremely proud of a society they had absolutely no part in building and have no choice in opting out of. Then on to the bottom-right photo we see the patriotism turning into militant flag-waving that combines undue respect for authority and undue pride in one’s country. Then the top-right photo shows the military machine in full swing after it has successfully exploited the youth. It’s one possible scenario out of many that has happened time and again in human history.

              • truthspeaker
                Posted April 22, 2011 at 10:11 am | Permalink

                “I’m just reading through the thread here, but I have yet to see a defense so far of the 1 pope + 3 Nazi images slide.”

                Why does it need defending?

              • Diane G.
                Posted April 22, 2011 at 11:31 am | Permalink

                For Aratina Cage: applause.

                For truthspeaker–+ 1.

            • Garnetstar
              Posted April 21, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

              No. The examples Dawkins spoke of when that slide was up were religion, patriotism, and a sense of duty. Those goals were what the slide was illustrating.

              He is entitled to, in fact should, pick the strongest examples to illustrate his points. He was talking about goals that were extremely tenacious, the ability of the mind to be flexible enough to adopt such goals, but inflexible enough to cling to them despite whatever else.

              No one is willing to die for their star trek club or knitting group. Religion, patriotism, and duty, however, are tenacious enough to persist even in the face of death. Apt examples. And, the Nazism illustrates at least the latter two in the highest degree.

              I’d hardly call atheism, however new, a “goal” generated from the evolutionary drive to propagate–it seems more like the reverse of what Dawkins was discussing, a negation or refusal to form a goal.

              • Garnetstar
                Posted April 21, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

                BTW, I really want to hear, Nick, whether you (or Mooney)spoke out about the pope attributing Nazism to atheism. And what you said, and where.

        • Posted April 21, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

          Nick, you should study up on the First Rule of Holes.

          A single slide of hundreds in an hour-long presentation displayed for maybe a minute isn’t something to get worked up over in the first place.

          When it’s a presentation on the evolutionary pitfalls that can lead to irrational choices to become part of an authoritarian organization, one should expect prominent and extreme examples of both to be used. The Holy Roman Catholic Church and the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei are the two most obvious examples of authoritarian organizations in history — just as Rome and the United States are the most obvious examples of democratic empires in history. Will you now object to the new parallel I just made, and take offense that I somehow just managed in your overly-fertilized imagination to equate Obama with Nero?

          From the tone of the drum you’re beating so hard on, the only way I can imagine that Richard could have given his presentation without causing you to clutch your pearls would have been if he had done nothing but praise all religious groups for leading the way into the enlightenment of democracy and equality for all.

          So, enlighten us. If you were giving Richard’s presentation, how would you have made the points he was making? Or do you disagree with his facts or his conclusions? If so, on what basis do you differ?

          If you want to keep digging, at least do so by tossing out some constructive criticism.

          Cheers,

          b&

        • debunk
          Posted April 21, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

          Even if I were wrong about this, it doesn’t deserve the hot death, accusations of lies, etc., comparisons to some internet imposter, etc., that Coyne et al. are sending my direction.

          You’ve got to understand though, Nick, that this isn’t an isolated incident. There have been many of these gratuitous and completely unfounded attacks leveled against the so-called New Atheists. One way to deal with them is to speak up against them, which is what you’re now experiencing.

          • NickMatzke
            Posted April 22, 2011 at 7:24 am | Permalink

            If the goal is actually reasoned debate, we should go all the way back to the beginning of the “New Atheist” debate, when Dawkins compared a large number of lifelong, extremely committed, quite successful science defenders to Chamberlain and his appeasement policy, and his (Dawkins’s) view of things to Churchill. (And what does that make religion, I wonder? Hmm.)

            By and large, the gnastiness is on the gnu side, it has been from the beginning, and it still is now. You can see it in Coyne’s post here and the number of posts just containing cheap insults and name-calling. You don’t see non-gnus dumping nastiness like this. You see calm criticism of the gnu approach, and you see arguments that criticize common gnu tactics as unfair, unscholarly, unhelpful to science education, and the like. These are, for some reason, taken as insults and responded to with cheap vitriol as much or more than anything else.

            When you actually know people like Phil Plait and Chris Mooney, and have had beer with them, and realize the hard work and good things they have done for science education — since long before the gnu movement came on the scene — it’s just impossible to take seriously the spite and bile they get from gnus.

            • truthspeaker
              Posted April 22, 2011 at 7:54 am | Permalink

              “If the goal is actually reasoned debate, we should go all the way back to the beginning of the “New Atheist” debate, when Dawkins compared a large number of lifelong, extremely committed, quite successful science defenders to Chamberlain and his appeasement policy, and his (Dawkins’s) view of things to Churchill. (And what does that make religion, I wonder? Hmm.)”

              Sounds perfectly reasonable to me.

              “You don’t see non-gnus dumping nastiness like this. You see calm criticism of the gnu approach, and you see arguments that criticize common gnu tactics as unfair, unscholarly, unhelpful to science education, and the like.”

              Really? All I see from you is blatant falsehoods. That’s not reasoned debate, that’s dishonesty.

              “When you actually know people like Phil Plait and Chris Mooney, and have had beer with them, and realize the hard work and good things they have done for science education — since long before the gnu movement came on the scene”

              The gnu movement came in the scene around 450 BC with Diagoras of Melos.

              • Badger3k
                Posted April 22, 2011 at 9:51 am | Permalink

                Not sure about anyone else, but why the heck would I want to have a drink with liars and hypocrites, however much they have defended science (or at least the areas that are important to them)?

              • articulett
                Posted April 23, 2011 at 12:50 am | Permalink

                Are these people unable to do their “good works” without disparaging other science educators and outspoken atheists?

                Does the harm they cause by spreading gnu atheist bigotry make up for the good work they do?

                Aren’t the people they are slandering doing just as good work or better?

                Why is it that the faitheist crowd is so big at dishing out advice that could be better utilized on themselves.

                Don’t be a dick, Nick.

            • latsot
              Posted April 24, 2011 at 5:56 am | Permalink

              Yes, I see the problem here. Richard was comparing a strategy of appeasment with…. a strategy of appeasment. How DARE he? Will his rudeness and stridency never end?

            • Posted April 24, 2011 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

              when Dawkins compared a large number of lifelong, extremely committed, quite successful science defenders to Chamberlain and his appeasement policy, and his (Dawkins’s) view of things to Churchill. (And what does that make religion, I wonder? Hmm.)

              Gee, you might want to ask Michael Ruse that question, Nick, since he is the origin of the comparison with Hitler (what a surprise that the slurs from accommodationists are blamed on the gnus).
              But of course, Nick, you’d have to be intellectually honest to admit that you’re wrong once again. And we no longer expect you to live up to that ideal. But for those who are honestly interested in the source of the Hitler thing, see http://homepages.shu.ac.uk/~llrdjb/shs/delusion.html

            • Ichthyic
              Posted April 24, 2011 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

              since long before the gnu movement came on the scene

              orly?

              you must have your own personal definition of what a new atheist is, very much like you appear to have your own personal definitions of a great many things.

              I could label it more simply as delusion.

              but this:

              it’s just impossible to take seriously the spite and bile they get from gnus

              I would label as pure projection.

              you’re insane, Nick.

        • SAWells
          Posted April 21, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

          Again with the “hot death” when you mean “criticism”. Grow up.

        • Posted April 21, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

          Even if I were wrong about this, it doesn’t deserve the hot death

          You do realize that Hell is not real, don’t you, and that you are accusing atheists of taking a Christian rhetorical tactic?

        • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
          Posted April 21, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

          It’s just that there were parts of the talk I disagreed with, basically the parts where I think religion was being unnecessarily or unfairly attacked. Which shouldn’t be surprising.

          Why not? Social phenomena gets unnecessarily or unfairly attacked every day. What happens here is a good example. Who can keep up with all that; who needs to keep up with it? It is a fact of life.

          So, surprisingly, you have some special interest.

          And what makes religion so special?

        • articulett
          Posted April 22, 2011 at 3:00 am | Permalink

          You’re a liar Nick. From now on you should take the advice you feel so free to dish out to critics of Mooney: “please back it up with science, like science defenders ™ are supposed to do.”

          Had you thought to do that before telling your little lie– no one would have known what a liar you are. (We still would have known about the hypocrisy, bigotry, faitheism, and self-importance though.)

          Here’s my “scientific evidence” for calling you a liar. You lied. You said: “Well, I have seen Richard Dawkins address large general audiences and quite deliberately, but ridiculously, play the Nazi card against religion.”

          That was a lie… and like the Tom Johnson lie it was used to confirm your biases about new atheists and spread prejudice against those who are clearly more honest than you.

          • NickMatzke
            Posted April 22, 2011 at 7:28 am | Permalink

            So, really, putting the pope and three Nazi images on a slide is really just a totally objective, neutral thing to do? It doesn’t convey any message?

            • truthspeaker
              Posted April 22, 2011 at 7:55 am | Permalink

              Of course it conveys a message. You claim that message is “ridiculous”. We claim it isn’t.

            • truthspeaker
              Posted April 22, 2011 at 8:05 am | Permalink

              And yes, it is objective. Organized religious institutions, the Catholic Church in particular, are objectively similar to authoritarian political movements.

            • Michieux
              Posted April 23, 2011 at 7:32 am | Permalink

              In the context of Prof. Dawkins’s talk, the slide is quite relevant in my opinion. What I understand from this imbroglio is that people will see what they’re disposed to seeing. You, sir, appear to have painted yourself into a corner.

        • llewelly
          Posted April 22, 2011 at 9:56 am | Permalink

          Nick (Matzke) | April 21, 2011 at 11:38 am:

          “You and Coyne have come out of the woodwork over one guy’s pretty vague statement about it in one comment way down in the list of comments on a blog. Perhaps this will help you to see why it’s almost impossible to put up a slide with one pope photo and three Nazi photos and not have the audience make a connection.”

          Shorter Nick: “U R arguing against me so I must be right”. It’s the sort of defense Scott Adams would invent.

          • Ichthyic
            Posted April 22, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

            It’s the sort of defense Scott Adams would invent.

            …or a creationist. Nick has come to share many features of presentation with creationists. Projection, reaching, denial… all becoming more and more common with each successive attack on his fellow atheists.

            Nick has a problem; the pattern is easily recognizable, yet nobody seems to want to tell him so.

            Well, I will. Again and again. And I don’t care if I get chastised for saying it:

            Nick, you’re simply no longer being rational. Don’t know if it’s stress, or what, but you really should go get checked out.

        • Ichthyic
          Posted April 22, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

          “As you can see, the Nazi card is highly emotional any way it is played.”

          so, you admit that lying about it was a play for attention.

          well, so long as we’re clear, Nick.

    • Sigmund
      Posted April 21, 2011 at 10:17 am | Permalink

      I agree with Polly-O!

    • truthspeaker
      Posted April 21, 2011 at 10:45 am | Permalink

      “The whole discussion connects religion, militarism, 9/11, etc. as all examples of the same thing.”

      Because they are. This is a perfectly reasonable treatment of the social implications of conformity and authoritarianism.

      Also, Dawkins was not talking about promoting the teaching of evolution in public schools, he was giving a lecture about religion. So this has nothing to do with yours or the NCSE’s goal of encouraging good science education.

      • Posted April 21, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

        ““The whole discussion connects religion, militarism, 9/11, etc. as all examples of the same thing.”

        Because they are. This is a perfectly reasonable treatment of the social implications of conformity and authoritarianism. ”

        Another vote for “OK, Dawkins did connect Nazis and religion, but this was OK because he’s right about it”.

        Dawkins-defenders, please make up your mind!

        • truthspeaker
          Posted April 21, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

          “Another vote for “OK, Dawkins did connect Nazis and religion, but this was OK because he’s right about it”.”

          Well, yeah. You don’t dispute that, do you?

          Having a rational discussion about the similarities between authoritarian political movements and religions is very different from “playing the Nazi card”, which is what you accused Dawkins of.

          • NickMatzke
            Posted April 22, 2011 at 7:31 am | Permalink

            There are a lot of ways to discuss the authoritarianism in religion without playing the Nazi card — which is pretty much the trump card for destroying reasoned discussion, as Godwin’s Law states and as we have seen in this thread. But Dawkins did it anyway.

            It’s fine if you agree with Dawkins playing the Nazi card, but then just don’t bash me for pointing it out and criticizing it.

            • truthspeaker
              Posted April 22, 2011 at 7:56 am | Permalink

              “There are a lot of ways to discuss the authoritarianism in religion without playing the Nazi card — which is pretty much the trump card for destroying reasoned discussion”

              Only in your mind.

              In real life, it is perfectly possible to have a reasoned discussion that includes mentions of the Nazi party.

            • SAWells
              Posted April 22, 2011 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

              I think we can agree that any mention of the Nazis utterly destroys Nick’s capacity for rational discussion. Nick, don’t project your emotional problems onto everyone else, ‘kay?

        • Posted April 21, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

          Nick, before you posted your first response in this thread, I wrote a lengthy analysis of the relationship between Nazism and Christianity; it’s #11, a bit farther down the page.

          Rather than wasting everybody’s time tallying up votes for or against the existence of a connection between Nazis and religion, I’d appreciate if you’d offer your own take on my points.

          Do you agree? If so, kindly mark yourself in the “Yes, there really is a connection between Nazism and religion” column. If not, I’d appreciate a rebuttal. Are my facts worng? If so, what are the correct facts? Are the conclusions I draw from those facts unsupported? If so, where do I go off the rails?

          Or is your position merely that it makes Christians uncomfortable to observe that Nazism was largely a Christian phenomenon, and therefore we should lie to them that it wasn’t so we don’t hurt their feelings?

          Cheers,

          b&

          • truthspeaker
            Posted April 21, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

            Nick’s position seems to be that it doesn’t matter if the comparison is valid or not, you shouldn’t make it because it’s not nice.

            Please correct me if my impression is wrong, Nick.

            • NickMatzke
              Posted April 22, 2011 at 7:46 am | Permalink

              My objection is Godwin’s objection. It’s just unfair and histrionic to compare religion to Nazis, at least without a very careful and detailed statement of what is meant and what isn’t. It’s like comparing Republicans to Nazis, or Republicans comparing Obama to Nazis. It’s just unfair and unbalanced. Yes, there are things to criticize about religion, Republicans, and Obama. No, none of them are anywhere near as bad as freakin’ Hitler. As Jon Stewart has repeatedly noted, Hitler and the Nazis worked hard to be as evil as they are, they earned their reputation, don’t give people that kind of anti-cred over what in the grand scheme of things are minor disagreements.

              http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-june-16-2005/a-relatively-closer-look—hitler-reference

              • truthspeaker
                Posted April 22, 2011 at 7:57 am | Permalink

                “My objection is Godwin’s objection. It’s just unfair and histrionic to compare religion to Nazis, at least without a very careful and detailed statement of what is meant and what isn’t.”

                Dawkins’s lecture – that you linked to – included a careful and detailed statement about what was meant.

                It is not unfair to compare religion to Nazism. Christianity was the source of the Nazi’s antisemitism.

        • debunk
          Posted April 21, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

          Another vote for “OK, Dawkins did connect Nazis and religion, but this was OK because he’s right about it”.

          But there ARE connections. Do you dispute the connection between Nazism and On The Jews And Their Lies, for instance? Are you saying there is no connection, or are you saying people shouldn’t make the connection?

        • Sastra
          Posted April 21, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

          Nick, I think truthspeaker’s second point here deserves some more consideration. He wrote

          Also, Dawkins was not talking about promoting the teaching of evolution in public schools, he was giving a lecture about religion. So this has nothing to do with yours or the NCSE’s goal of encouraging good science education.

          This was in response to your original point:

          They can be reached, but not if you lead with you are stupid liers [sic] whose religion is also a lie and by the way there’s no God, no objective meaning to life, and if you think otherwise then science is against you, it’s a package deal and you have to accept all that if you accept evolution/global warming.

          Even if Dawkins did indeed mean to draw a connection between religion and Nazism, he did not do so in the manner or context of your accusation against the gnu atheists: inserting an atheist debate into a discussion on global warming or evolution.

          • NickMatzke
            Posted April 22, 2011 at 7:54 am | Permalink

            The talk was primarily a discussion of evolution, and there was a big chunk at the beginning on how Dawkins was donating $5000 to the pro-evolution education group Oklahomans for Science Education. And Dawkins is of course a leading popularizer of evolutionary science. All that is for the good.

            All I am saying is that Dawkins’s attacks on religion in that talk were an example of what Mooney was talking about — an approach unlikely to get the public to open their ears and mind and listen to the evidence presented by science and the scientists.

            • truthspeaker
              Posted April 22, 2011 at 7:58 am | Permalink

              “All I am saying is that Dawkins’s attacks on religion in that talk were an example of what Mooney was talking about — an approach unlikely to get the public to open their ears and mind and listen to the evidence presented by science and the scientists.”

              That talk was not directed at the general public. It did not have getting the public to open their ears and mind and listen to evidence presented by scientists as its goal.

        • Tyro
          Posted April 21, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

          The Godwin problem is when you start calling your opponents Nazis which Dawkins definitely did not do. He did demonstrate how blind, dogmatic obedience leads to problems and picked religion and Naziism as two examples so yes, he did say the two have elements in common.

          Is that what you meant when you said that he played “the Nazi card against religion”?

          If so, how can anyone ever discuss the problems with Nazis or other dogmatic regimes? And I think you really need to double-check Godwin’s Law because this ain’t it. If you have some concerns with Dawkins’ presentation, you need to take a step back, defuse these accusations and explain yourself. If there are some serious points, you’re burying them with your hyperbole.

          • Badger3k
            Posted April 21, 2011 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

            I tried discussing how bad the Nazi’s were for a history class on WW2 and was accused of playing the Nazi card.

            You can’t win… ;P

            (what can I say, three day weekend just started!)

            • Microraptor
              Posted April 22, 2011 at 8:18 am | Permalink

              Godwin’s Law apparently started out as an attempt to keep people from trying to shut down discussion by calling each other Nazis, but it has since morphed into “You said Nazi! You lose the argument!” even if the subject was World War 2.

              • Badger3k
                Posted April 22, 2011 at 9:55 am | Permalink

                I guess I should have put /sarcasm on it – I thought the emoticon would work. Maybe if I said I was told “You Lose – you’re playing the nazi card you nazi”?

                Sorry if the attempt at humor didn’t work out as intended.

              • Microraptor
                Posted April 22, 2011 at 10:22 am | Permalink

                @Badger3k

                Missed the emoticon, but I have been in debates where people were that bad with Godwin’s Law. It’s turned into a monster.

              • Badger3k
                Posted April 22, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

                I’d ask “really” to your debate comment, but I’ve seen things equally bad, so I can believe it.

                Next time I’ll try to stick to the usual accepted standard on posting.

        • Stan Pak
          Posted April 21, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

          Church by its own choice has made a connection with Nazis and their regime by helping them in coming to power and then reinforcing these relations by signing Concordat. They cooperated with Nazis (and Mussolini, Franco). They had even their chaplains in Wehrmaht. They could have opt-out but they did choose to do otherwise and keep with the strong side. There is whole (historical) reason to frame them together in one picture, even if this was not the thing Richard wanted to point out in his lecture.

    • Badger3k
      Posted April 21, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

      Nobody made the comment on what Dawkins was saying – it’s been about 12 hrs since I looked at it, but Dawkins mentioned various forms of…ah, something. He chose images people would recognize – for religion, the pope (I assume it’s him, one pointy hat looks like another), for nationalism and patriotism, Nazis. Hell, when you mention nationalism, they are what pops into my head as an extreme. For patriotism, maybe there was some image that people would recognize – maybe some Tea Party shill with a misspelled sign, or the stereotype image of communist soldiers marching in Red Square perhaps – but would it have been as recognizable?

      And perhaps Richard did want to create a negative impression to associate with all those concepts – showing how the normal evolutionary ability was co-opted for these other things. I haven’t watched more than a couple minutes to find out where he went with whatever he was talking about – work came up.

      Side note – was that religious image the same nazi-sympathizing Pope? If that was a pope and not some other lower ranking individual.

      What worries me is that Richard is comparing some innocent tribal group to Ted Haggard. Low Blow, man.

      • Badger3k
        Posted April 21, 2011 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

        Whoops – maybe y’all did – all of a sudden my browser has more comments – must have done something wrong. Now I have to go to the top and reread again.

    • Matt Penfold
      Posted April 22, 2011 at 4:37 am | Permalink

      Matzke,

      Why not go away and learn about the concept of political religion and then come back when you have some idea of what you are talking about ?

      Still you never persue a policy of being honest when a lie will suffice. I am still waiting for you to apologise to me for lying about the AAAS not saying religion and science are compatible. Of course I hold out no hope of your actually apologising. That would require to much intellectual honesty and civility on your part, and as we all know, you have neither.

      • NickMatzke
        Posted April 22, 2011 at 8:04 am | Permalink

        Civility involves not jumping from “someone didn’t respond to me on some thread” to “liar”…or from “somebody doesn’t know the text of everything ever put out by someone at AAAS” to “liar”.

        • truthspeaker
          Posted April 22, 2011 at 8:06 am | Permalink

          Nick, you made a statement that is objectively not true, that you had reason to know wasn’t true. That’s lying.

          • NickMatzke
            Posted April 22, 2011 at 8:23 am | Permalink

            C’mon, unless there is an official statement from the AAAS saying “science and religion are compatible” it is going to be a tough argument to make that I was wrong, much less that I was *lying* about it.

            I googled WEIT and got back to what must be the original discussion of this particular point, from a AAAS FAQ.

            ======
            Are science and religion inherently opposed?

            No. Science does not take a position on an intelligent designer, which is a matter of religious faith, and is not testable scientifically. AAAS and other scientific groups do not want to create the impression that religion and science are inherently in conflict. They live together quite comfortably, including in the minds of many scientists.

            Science and religion ask different questions about the world. Many individual scientists are deeply religious. They see scientific investigation and religious faith as complementary components of a well-rounded life.
            ======

            It doesn’t say all scientists think this way, it doesn’t say that science and religion are definitely compatible in every possible way, or that every religious view is compatible with science, it just says that religion is not *necessarily* opposed to science. Which is true, and worth saying, particularly since the extreme ends of the spectrum try to force people in the middle to their side by making them pick between science and religion.

            I suppose I should say that if I were writing the statement, I wouldn’t have put it “They live together quite comfortably, including in the minds of many scientists”, since that is a little too strong, I would have said “They live together quite comfortably in the minds of many scientists.” But I’m not going to convict the entirety of AAAS on a single word and a comma, when I’ve been to many AAAS sessions and meetings, met their people, and read a lot of their literature, and know that their main message on this is that science and religion are not *necessarily* opposed, rather than a strong positive statement of compatibility.

            • truthspeaker
              Posted April 22, 2011 at 8:57 am | Permalink

              That’s not the lie I’m talking about. I’m talking about your lie about Dawkins.

        • Matt Penfold
          Posted April 22, 2011 at 8:16 am | Permalink

          Civility also means admitting when you are wrong, and refraining from repeating untrue statements. Neither of which you can manage.

          With regards the AAAS, you made a categorical statement that it did not take a position on the compatibility of religion and science. The problem with that is that they did. Now you could have been truly ignorant of that fact, but in that case someone who cared about being honest would have admitted they were wrong and apologised. You did neither.

          You have again made an untrue statement. You have again been corrected. You have again failed to admit your mistake and apologise. Do you see a pattern here ? You do not behave in a honest manner. There comes a time when you can no longer be given the benefit of the doubt, and you are way past that time.

          So Nick, are you going to be honest or not ?

  11. Posted April 21, 2011 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    Well, since the thread itself is a Godwin, might as well salvage it with a sincere examination of the matter.

    First, it should be patently obvious by now but probably needs be writ regardless: equating all religious people with Nazism is ludicrous in the extreme. No Jew could possibly be a Nazi. The religious people I personally know, officially and unofficially, publicly and privately, are as universally horrified by Die Endlösung der Judenfrage as any sane human would be — and that includes people who would wholeheartedly agree with the Nazi platform on economic and other policies.

    However, it is quite fair to observe that the Nazis were quite religious — specifically Christian.

    Mein Kampf painstakingly lays out Hitler’s Biblical justification for his plans in a screed that could just as easily have been written by Martin Luther himself. The Wehrmacht wore belt buckles emblazoned with “Gott mit uns.” It was the Deutscher Freidenkerbund that Hitler outlawed while the churches flourished. Countless photos abound of Nazi gatherings at Christian ceremonies.

    And, as I hinted, not only is Christianity compatible with Nazism in the same sense that Francis Collins finds science and religion compatible, but Christianity was actually one of the driving forces behind Nazism. In the same sense that Orphism was virulently anti-Thracian even though Orpheus was himself (according to the myth) Thracian, Christianity is virulently anti-Semitic even though Jesus was himself (according to the myth) Jewish. In both cases, the hero unabashedly espouses Greek values and philosophy, and the indigenous population is cast as a caricature antithetical to those values and philosophy. It’s a well-worn rhetorical tactic designed to beat the audience over the head: “Look at those primitive savages who defile our noble virtue! Don’t be like them, be like us!”

    We see this in the scene with the moneychangers, Jesus’s “brood of vipers” epithet, the way the Sanhedrin is made to make asses of themselves, the withering of the fig tree (which was a symbol of Torah), and on and on and on. For details, all you have to do is re-read Mein Kampf for the Bible passages Hitler quotes — it’s all right there, laid out quite clearly and unambiguously. And, no, he never quotes fragments out of context or distorts the clear meaning of the text.

    So, coming back to the topic at hand: the overwhelming majority of Christians have outgrown the shit-filled vermin-infested stable their religion was born in and successfully integrated the far more enlightened secular humanism of our times. While Christianity can, without much trouble, be equated with Nazism, Christians in general most certainly cannot — to their great credit. And non-Christian religious people are so far removed from the matter it’s a rather peculiar non-sequitur to even make the suggestion.

    Cheers,

    b&

    • Posted April 21, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      Is that bit about Jesus and the fig tree being symbolic of dissing the Torah true? All I had ever read about that (baffling) anecdote was that by C.S. Lewis called it “the most embarrassing verse in the Bible”.

      Also, Ben, as always, like many of us I’m sure, I really enjoy all your comments here. Wish you had a blog. Hope you’re writing a book.

      • Posted April 21, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for the kind words, Peter. I don’t have any book plans for the near future, though I suppose I might someday get the urge.

        Whether or not the curse Jesus laid upon the fig tree, causing it to wither, was originally meant to be symbolic of damnation of Judaism could be a reasonable topic of debate, as with any other form of exegesis — if, of course, you consider exegesis itself reasonable.

        However, the Torah has long been symbolized by a fig tree. It at least dates back to Proverbs 27:18. Google for “fig tree Torah” and you’ll find all kinds of explanations, ancient and modern both.

        The only way to argue that Matthew 21:19 wasn’t meant as an attack on Judaism would be to argue that the author was unaware of the symbolism. And, considering that almost nothing in the Bible is untouched by Jewish symbolism, I’d find that nearly impossible to believe.

        I suppose one could also take the literal approach: the pre-un-dead Jesus literally was walking down the road one day when he decided to cast a spell to kill a fig tree for no good reason, and who are we to question Mysterious Ways and Means? That is, one could take the literal approach if one is also willing to publicly profess a belief in talking animals and wizards dueling with their magic wands and zombies and angry giants and talking plants (on fire!) and and and and….

        Cheers,

        b&

        • KP
          Posted April 21, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

          But there are also a lot of christian fundamentalists who take a different approach. Their view is that the Jews are heroic for fulfilling their role in carrying out the “scriptural plan” by crucifying Jesus.

          They’re all over the board on this. Others, like our Nazi conspecifics, think the Jews are christ-killers.

          “if, of course, you consider exegesis itself reasonable.”

          This being the key to the whole discussion.

          • Posted April 21, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

            Oh, I’ve long since had that thought — at least that the Jews were only playing their part in God’s plan for humanity’s redemption, I’m not sure that’s heroic.

            I didn’t know it was an established idea.

          • Badger3k
            Posted April 21, 2011 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

            Just as they have all different views about Israel, including where they want the Israelis to rebuild the Temple, so that their savior can come down and kill or convert all the Jews. Share the love!

  12. Posted April 21, 2011 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    I was there on the occasion that Chris is discussing. :)

    It all happened rather quickly, in response to a question, and I can understand that some people thought Richard was calling the current pope a Nazi because of his involvement with the Hitler Youth … especially if you didn’t catch all the words. In my view that would have been unfair, but it’s a long way from “Dawkins called Christians Nazis.”

    In any event, what he actually said was that many moderate believers think that “Pope … Nazi had miracles.” He was definitely referring to the pope who was up for canonisation, i.e. Pope Pius XII.

    Furthermore, this was not Richard alienating a general audience. He was speaking in front of a sympathetic and enthusiastic audience.

    Further furthermore, the most notable thing about his performance in question time was when he was asked a long, rambling, stupid, hostile question, and some people in the audience started to shout down the speaker. Richard hushed them and insisted on the question being heard and on giving a proper answer. He was a class act that day, as is typical of him.

    This issue about “Pope Nazi” has, in fact, long been cleared up, and it’s quite clear what he said if you watch the video, watching out for it.

    I’m surprised that it’s necessary to deal with this yet again. It’s clear what he said and what it meant, even if some didn’t catch all the words correctly at the time and genuinely drew the wrong conclusion.

    All that said, some of the worst aspects of Nazism did in fact derive from Christianity, and we should not hold back from sayhing so. But that wasn’t at all the point that Richard was making.

    • Hansen
      Posted April 21, 2011 at 9:22 am | Permalink

      “All that said, some of the worst aspects of Nazism did in fact derive from Christianity, and we should not hold back from sayhing so.”

      Further further furthermore, it is actually theists that most often bring up the Nazi/Hitler “argument” when they want to berate atheism. This more or less forces atheists to point out the strong ties between Christianity and Nazism.

      • Diane G.
        Posted April 21, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

        +1

    • Papalinton
      Posted April 21, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

      As I noted earlier:
      I was at that conference when Dawkins forgot Pius XII’s name. It is as he recounts it. Nothing more nothing less. Matzke would do well to correct the mistake

      http://richarddawkins.net/videos/617348-update-4-20-richard-dawkins-global-atheist-convention-2010

  13. Transient Reporter
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    Back in the 1990s, Mayor Giuliani suggested that New Yorkers learn to be “more civil” towards each other. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but it probably went something like this: “Be civil, goddamit, or I’ll kick your motherfucking ass!”

    • Posted April 21, 2011 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      :D

    • truthspeaker
      Posted April 21, 2011 at 11:24 am | Permalink

      “Excuse me, would you please go fuck yourself? Thank you.” – Civil New Yorker

      • Posted April 21, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

        So it’s, um, Giuliani Time?

  14. Posted April 21, 2011 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    (Isn’t it the case that these guys are even more uncivil than the Gnus they decry?)

    Yes it is, and we have a name for it at Pharyngula: Mooney’s Law. (Coined by Feynmaniac)

    • Posted April 21, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

      Ah – I’ve been needing a name for that. Badly, I’ve been needing a name for that.

  15. Paul W.
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    I think people should reflect a little on Godwin’s Law.

    Godwin’s Law does not say that making a comparison to Nazis is necessarily invalid, and it’s not.

    It’s also not necessarily a bad thing to do, as Mike Godwin will tell you.

    Making a comparison to Nazis as part of a reductio ad absurdam—a disproof of a generalization by a clear counterexample—can be entirely valid..

    Suppose, for example, that somebody says that religion is evolutionarily good for groups in certain game theoretic terms, because it promotes group loyalty and cohesion, making the group more effective, and then makes some glib, naively reductionist claim that religion is therefore good.

    The major error there is assuming that what’s good for groups is good in anything like moral terms.

    To show that error, Nazis are an excellent counterexample. Nazism is a great example of group loyalty and cohesion, leading to a group being highly effective in an objective sense. But they’re obviously not good, so evidently the generalization is false.

    If somebody then claims that you compared religious people to Nazis, they missed the point. There’s no real “comparison” there. The reductio doesn’t say whether religious people are in fact like Nazis at all, much less how much like Nazis they are, much less that they’re very much like Nazis.

    It just says that that the inference from promoting cohesion to being morally good is quite evidently wrong. The rule can give absurd results, and is evidently not valid.

    Godwin was saying that in long internet wrangles, it’s very likely that

    1) eventually, someone will bring up Nazis, and make some kind of “comparison,” and that

    2) even if the “comparison” is perfectly reasonable and valid, some idiot is likely to fly off the handle because they don’t understand the logical validity of a reductio ad absurdam, or more generally that to compare things is not to equate them.

    IIRC Mike Godwin is cynically amused that people have taken Godwin’s Law as prescriptive in a way he never intended.

    He did mean to show that people should be careful about Nazi “analogies” or reductios in online conversations, where the openness of fora makes it especially easy for some idiot to wander in, take something out of context, misunderstand the point, draw the attention of other people to the “comparison to Nazis,” etc., and have things get ridiculously out of hand.

    In this case, that idiot is Nick Matzke, who went out of his way to dig up a “comparison” embedded in a video, in a perfectly reasonable way in context, de-contextualize and mis-describe it, and put it out on the internet as a bullshit textual claim, to smear someone and cause a ruckus.

    Nice going, Nick. You got the quote mine without even having a quote to start from.

    By the way, IIRC Godwin also thinks that anybody who takes Godwin’s Law as prescriptive in the way you do—“Dawkins broke Godwin’s Law! He loses!”—is an idiot.

    Godwin’s Law was not intended to make it easier for people to idiotically fly off the handle at the mention of Nazis, by having a “Law” on their side.

    I just can’t figure out whether you’ve learned nothing from dealing with creationist quote-miners, or learned a lot.

    • Diane G.
      Posted April 22, 2011 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      Now that’s helpful!

      Godwin’s Law /= eternal third rail of all internet discussion.

      (Plus, there are also subtle distinctions between a Dawkins lecture and, say, a WoW flame war…)

  16. Helen Wise
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    Good god, the way Matzke’s site threads, it’s a wonder anyone can understand anything at all, and that’s in the first place. In the second, abundant comments are provided by Kw*k.

    • Jolo
      Posted April 21, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

      Sorry, that is my fault.

      • Helen Wise
        Posted April 21, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

        No. You’re good.

    • Badger3k
      Posted April 22, 2011 at 10:01 am | Permalink

      I started last night, went to bed, and finished today. I never thought I’d see a Kw*k apologist, but even he has one. The camera-fiend sure can derail a thread.

      • Posted April 22, 2011 at 11:41 am | Permalink

        If only someone would send him that damn Leica M7 rangefinder already! And they should probably also include a note saying “Yes, we know that Frank McCourt was one of your high school teachers. Blessed be thy name, Kw*k” :)

  17. Insightful Ape
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    I must say the accomodationist hypocrisy is absolutely revolting.
    First, Nick the liar makes the broad claim that Dawkins “equated religion with Nazism”. When he gets called out on his lie, he produces no quote from Dawkins to that effect; he shows us a talk in which Dawkins shows pictures of Nazis next to the pope (and elsewhere next to tribesmen of Africa). And then, when told that the video is not confirming his claim, he accuses others of ” blowing this way out of proportion.”
    But what is most interesting is that all this happens in the context of criticizing us for being rude-of offending others unnecessarily.
    Well accomodationists do the same, and they bakc up their claims with lies and strawman attacks.
    So may I put Nick’s picture next to Ted Haggard for a lecture on hypocrisy? It will be amsuing to watch his response.

  18. Pete Dunkelberg
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    What a logical thread! Nick is called names for mentioning that Dawkins “played the Nazi card.” The same folks doing the name calling display the slide showing that Dawkins did it, and also argue that making such connections is what the talk was about.

    • Posted April 21, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

      You must have missed how it went from this:

      They can be reached, but not if you lead with you are stupid liers [sic] whose religion is also a lie and by the way there’s no God, no objective meaning to life, and if you think otherwise then science is against you, it’s a package deal and you have to accept all that if you accept evolution/global warming. [emphasis added]

      That hyperbole then fizzled and morphed into this:

      I have seen Richard Dawkins address large general audiences and quite deliberately, but ridiculously, play the Nazi card against religion.

      And then it once more fizzled and morphed into this:

      what I was referring to was a Dawkins talk I watched at the University of Oklahoma in 2009. There was a slight in that talk that had (a) some typical image representing religion and (b)a dramatic Nazi photo side-by-side. It was up for a long time. It was part of Dawkins’ discussion of “archaeo-purpose” and “neo-purpose”… but (a) there are a million and one things you could juxtapose on a slide besides religion and Nazis, especially since Nazis are pretty much the most emotionally-provoking worst thing anyone can think of, and (b) IIRC, it happened again later in the talk.

      Which isn’t the Nazi card at all (the Nazi card is, “You are Nazis!”).

      • Citizen Z
        Posted April 21, 2011 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

        “Which isn’t the Nazi card at all (the Nazi card is, “You are Nazis!”).”

        Says who? Other descriptions of the Nazi card you can find online only state it simply as a comparison. (e.g. reductio ad Hitlerum, Godwin’s Law) That’s what Richard Dawkins did. (And has done before: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmMv0ceWTVQ#t=3m08s)

        It’s not like Mr. Dawkins should be banned from polite society for those comparisons. When I saw the Ted Haggard clip I thought “oh that was an unfortunate comparison to make” and that it was a rare slip by the usually exceedingly polite Mr. Dawkins.

        It was unfortunate because any time you bring up the Nazis it tends to bring up emotional responses, distracts from discussion, and inflames the debate. As is evidenced by this very thread! Nick Mazke says “Nazi card” and everyone is furious. Richard Dawkins makes comparisons to Nazis and everyone simply says the comparison is apt.

        • Garnetstar
          Posted April 21, 2011 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

          It need hardly to be said that, in this video, Dawkins does not “equate” religion with Nazism. He jokingly says that Haggard’s service reminds him of a Nuremburg rally. Says it politely, too: “I’m almost reminded, if you’ll forgive me,….” Haggard doesn’t get emotional, distracted, or inflamed: he laughs too, and says it’s like a rock concert.

          This alleged instance of “playing the Nazi card” is even more feeble than the instance Nick posted. It’s certainly no support for the claim that Dawkins has equated religious belief and Nazism.

          • Michieux
            Posted April 23, 2011 at 8:10 am | Permalink

            Totally agree. I’d also add that were anyone in need of justification for the approach taken by Gnu Atheists, this documentary, particularly the piece involving Haggard, provides it in spades.

        • Posted April 21, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

          Says who? Other descriptions of the Nazi card you can find online only state it simply as a comparison. (e.g. reductio ad Hitlerum, Godwin’s Law)

          Where are you getting this information from and why are you misconstruing what actually happened?

          It’s not like Mr. Dawkins should be banned from polite society for those comparisons.

          Not even Nick Matzke called for something as ridiculous as that, so where are you getting such ideas from?

          When I saw the Ted Haggard clip I thought “oh that was an unfortunate comparison to make” and that it was a rare slip by the usually exceedingly polite Mr. Dawkins.

          Dawkins was quite right to call that guy out on his schtick; Haggard is one of the biggest narcissistic cons out there. And, it has nothing to do with what Matzke accused Dawkins of doing. And, Dawkins in that clip did not call Haggard a Nazi.

        • Posted April 21, 2011 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

          everyone is furious

          It doesn’t take that much time to read how the responses morphed from a general Gnu Atheist strawperson to a Dawkins strawman to the divining of Dawkins’ intent in a couple of slides during his “The Purpose of Purpose” lecture. And now we have you rushing to Ted Haggard’s defense. Isn’t all that enough reason to be a little upset with this accommodationist shell game?

        • truthspeaker
          Posted April 22, 2011 at 8:00 am | Permalink

          “When I saw the Ted Haggard clip I thought “oh that was an unfortunate comparison to make” and that it was a rare slip by the usually exceedingly polite Mr. Dawkins.”

          Why? Ted Haggard is a vile human being.

          • Microraptor
            Posted April 22, 2011 at 8:32 am | Permalink

            I’ve seen videos of both Haggard’s rallies and the Nuremberg rallies, and I think the comparison was entirely justified.

        • NickMatzke
          Posted April 22, 2011 at 8:27 am | Permalink

          “As is evidenced by this very thread! Nick Mazke says “Nazi card” and everyone is furious. Richard Dawkins makes comparisons to Nazis and everyone simply says the comparison is apt.”

          Yep. And I deliberately said “played the Nazi card”. I didn’t assert that Dawkins wholesale “equated religion and Nazis”, that’s a misquote that has arisen somehow.

          • KG
            Posted April 22, 2011 at 9:12 am | Permalink

            So, why did you make an accusation against Dawkins that is simultaneously vague (as we’ve seen, “playing the Nazi card” has widely differing interpretations) and highly inflammatory – and without referring (as you finally have here) to the specific example you had in mind?

          • Dan L.
            Posted April 22, 2011 at 9:28 am | Permalink

            Maybe that’s because “played the Nazi card” is an idiomatic and ambiguous way of saying whatever the heck it was you were actually trying to say. If you’re actually as worried about effective communication you should take this sort of thing into account. For all anyone who isn’t you knows, you DO mean “equated religion and Nazis” by “played the Nazi card.” It’s really not clear.

            For that matter, “rain hot death” is idiomatic and ambiguous. Where’s the line between “raining hot death,” “sternly reprimanding,” and “voicing legitimate concerns”?

            You don’t see non-gnus dumping nastiness like this. You see calm criticism of the gnu approach…

            Yes I do, and I see more nastiness than calm criticism, I have to say. If we include overblown characterizations and unnecessarily martial language like “rain hot death” when you really mean “asserting one’s point of view”…well, that’s nasty. That’s not fair. From my perspective, it’s definitely you guys lowering the tone, mostly by falsely accusing gnus of lowering the tone.

            and you see arguments that criticize common gnu tactics as unfair, unscholarly, unhelpful to science education, and the like. These are, for some reason, taken as insults and responded to with cheap vitriol as much or more than anything else.

            You guys never credit gnus for what they get right; and for that matter, you don’t acknowledge the arguments that gnus aren’t actually harming science education or respond to demands for evidence for this same assertion. You always focus on the crapscreamers instead of the people who are making actual arguments and trying to engage with your arguments.

            And then when gnus call you out on trying to skew the debate by using unfairly martial language and by cherry picking the worst examples of gnus, you blow smoke like you’re doing here.

            If y’all are such great communicators, how is it you can’t do anything but mischaracterize the views of a bunch of people who essentially share your values and world view, thereby pissing them off? And why do you always assume the worst instead of trying to understand what we’re actually trying to say? As I said above, it’s not clear to anyone besides you what you mean by “play the Nazi card” or “rain hot death.” Maybe if you toned down the language and put the tiniest amount of effort into understanding the gnu point of view we could get past some of this empty invective.

    • Garnetstar
      Posted April 21, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

      Making the connection between the different types of goal-seeking seen in humans is the only way that Dawkins suggested that religion and Nazism were alike.

      That was what the talk was about.

      That is not “playing the Nazi card.” There was no statement or suggestion that religion was comparable to Nazism in any sense but that.

      A lot of mind-reading here: you and Nick seem to be doing pictorial exegesis or art criticism to tease out hidden meaning in Dawkins’ slides, instead of listening to his words and understanding that he is saying (clearly, too) what he means.

  19. J.J.E.
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    I think that “accommodationists” are playing the role of the David Goodsteins and the Jim Fosters. At a certain point, the Harvey Milks (e.g. the Gnus) should make peace with the fact that the Goosteins and Fosters aren’t helping the cause the Harvey Milks are most interested in, and just go about their way, and redirect the energy spent answering the accommodationists to doing even more of the kind of positive activism that garnered them fame to begin with. I think this is even more useful in this case because the Gnus are usually punching down when they address the accommodationists whereas the gay rights accommodationists were more prominent than the upstart Milk and his allies. In short, while not disagreeing about the substance of anti-accommodationist arguments, I suspect simply ignoring accommodationists will deprive many (not all) of them of oxygen. For example, Mooney, Matzke, and Rosenau can probably be ignored with little consequence (although once in a blue moon, Mooney goes on big outlets). Ruse, perhaps not so much given that he has a propensity to push his ideas in high-profile places.

    Anyway, just thinking out loud here.

    • AT
      Posted April 21, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      I second!

      Ignore and support guys like Sam Harris , Jerry Coyne and others who talk science and not superstition

      Human deliberative capability is most represented by science – most recent development in our natural desire to come up with the model of the world around us

      Undoubtedly the institutions of superstition and ungrounded belief (such as religion to name one) will give way to institutions of science

      We should all keep talking science and provide the phisical manifistation of institutionalization of science

      And when young and highly plastic brains stumble upon our discourse there is high chance they will abandon the institutionalized ignorance they soaked unknowingly through their parents, school and our general public institutionalized ignorance and instead adopt honestly scientific worldview and join our community and make their contribution into further institutionalization of science and vestigialization of ungrounded beliefs

      Upward and onward!

  20. GatorApe
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Has Matzke apologized yet for being completely off base on the “Pope…Nazi” thing yet? I see that he is has focused all his energies on now on this other talk from Richard but if he has admitted his error regarding the Australian talk, then I missed it. It almost seems as if he is hoping we will all forget about that baseless charge.

    • Posted April 21, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

      No, he hasn’t — and he’s even shifted the goalposts further.

      Now, anybody who observes that there’s any sort of a connection between Nazism and Christianity is a poopyhead.

      He’s yet to reply to my posts where I make note of the direct influences Christianity had on Nazism. Frankly, I doubt he will.

      Cheers,

      b&

      • Garnetstar
        Posted April 21, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

        Well, actually, Nick may have only been thinking of this latest-cited “example” of the Nazi card, and not at all about the non-existent Australian one.

        We all seem to have assumed Nick was speaking about Pope Nazi because in that case it’s perhaps possible to have misinterpreted Dawkins’ words, while it’s almost beyond belief that misinterpretation is possible in the Pope/Nazi photos. One only has to listen to the talk to be disabused of any Nazi card notion. Nick is making a very, very much weaker case than if he had relied on Pope Nazi as evidence.

      • Badger3k
        Posted April 21, 2011 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

        We have the Gish Gallop, I know there’s one for Ken Ham but I can’t recall it…how about the Matzke Shuffle?

  21. Sili
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Even if Dawkins had made such comparisons, he did so to an audience of atheists; not in a church.

    • truthspeaker
      Posted April 21, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

      Maybe any criticism of religion, made anywhere, hurts the cause of advancing evolution education?

      • Observer
        Posted April 21, 2011 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

        This, really, is what it all boils down to for people line Matzke and Mooney.

    • Posted April 21, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

      Well, there was that one guy in the audience who happened to look and act an awful lot like a certain elementary school teacher on South Park.

    • NickMatzke
      Posted April 22, 2011 at 8:28 am | Permalink

      ‘Twas a general audience of like 10,000 people.

      • NickMatzke
        Posted April 22, 2011 at 8:30 am | Permalink

        And even if it was all atheists, that wouldn’t make it hunky dory, although it would perhaps obviate the point that religious people were being unnecessarily antagonized such that they would be less likely to listen to the scientific evidence.

        • Matt Penfold
          Posted April 22, 2011 at 8:39 am | Permalink

          If Dawkins antagonises religious people so much, why is able to work with religious leaders in the UK to oppose the teaching of creationism ?

          Religious leaders that included Anglicans, Catholics and Jews ?

          Or maybe those religious people are a bit more intelligent than you think they are, and are able to work with Dawkins on an issue about which they agree whilst continuing to disagree with him on other issues.

          Really, you are incredibly patronising to the religious. Another example of how you cannot bring yourself to be civil.

          • Posted April 22, 2011 at 10:39 am | Permalink

            Thanks for this.

            The whole accommodationist argument is based on the assumption that potential moderate religious allies are stupid, immoral, and/or incredibly thin skinned to the point that they would abandon their values if they have to work with someone who disagrees with them. They also must not realize that accommodationist atheists don’t disagree with their religious beliefs.

        • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
          Posted April 22, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

          even if it was all atheists, that wouldn’t make it hunky dory,

          Since there was no Nazi card, I’m going to interpret “such comparisons” as “Dawkins equating religious belief with Nazism”.

          That would be _perfectly_ “hunky dory” in the context of the lecture, since there is no case of “[to] lead with you are stupid liers”. To wit, as truthspeaker notes, there is nothing antagonistic here.

          If you could make a case that it was a Nazi card, when you may have something. But you haven’t.

      • truthspeaker
        Posted April 22, 2011 at 8:59 am | Permalink

        So what?

        There was nothing the least bit antagonistic about his talk.

  22. KP
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    At the PT site a couple days ago, I asked, in the comments to Nick’s post, whether Ken Miller had gotten any further by using the approach that Mooney (and Matzke) tout. The responses were mixed.

    So let’s make a testable hypothesis: If we count everyone who said they had come to accept evolution by reading Miller vs. everyone who came to accept evolution by reading Dawkins, those numbers will NOT be significantly different from one another.

    • Posted April 21, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

      I’m not sure that’d be a fair test.

      Richard is one of those rare superstars of science, in the same league as Carl Sagan, David Attenborough, and Stephen Hawking.

      Ken Miller, for all the wonderful things he’s done to further science education, simply isn’t in that league.

      By sheer virtue of the difference in the sizes of the audiences each enjoys, Richard will have far more notches on his belt.

      And I don’t think Richard’s alleged “stridency” has anything to do with it, in either direction. Neither Sagan, Attenborough, nor Hawking get tarred with the “strident” brush. I must admit I’m at a complete loss as to why, though…Sagan’s garage dragon, Attenborough’s eye worm, and Hawking’s recent “je n’avais pas besoin de cette hypothèse-là” are all as unapologetically anti-religious as anything I’ve ever heard from Richard, if not more so.

      Cheers,

      b&

      • Badger3k
        Posted April 21, 2011 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

        Don’t forget that at in his time, Sagan was routinely criticized in much the same way Dawkins is now. The success of Cosmos diluted that and clouded the waters. I wasn’t aware of the reaction to him until I read more about his life and actions.

        • Garnetstar
          Posted April 22, 2011 at 5:58 am | Permalink

          Indeed. Jared Diamond speculated that Sagan’s activities in science outreach was the reason he was not elected to the NAS.

      • NickMatzke
        Posted April 22, 2011 at 8:31 am | Permalink

        On the other hand, Kenneth Miller’s textbook Biology has like 40% of the high school market in the U.S., in addition to his trade books.

        • Badger3k
          Posted April 22, 2011 at 10:06 am | Permalink

          But he doesn’t try to convert people through his textbooks, so it’s also irrelevant to the testable hypothesis.

  23. Pete Dunkelberg
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    This is weird. It seems that most here call yourselves “gnus”. I take it this includes Jerry Coyne and Richard Dawkins. Now it happened earlier today that one Nick, in a comment that I saw elsewhere, mentioned that Dawkins played the Nazi card. In this thread, gnus display the card. So far, nothing much happening — except that the gnus are very angry at Nick for mentioning it!

    Can anyone of the gnus explain this?

    • truthspeaker
      Posted April 21, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

      Matzke accused Dawkins of “ridiculously” playing the Nazi card “against” religion.

      What we’re doing is comparing various religions to the Nazi party and pointing out the historical relationship between the Nazi party and one specific religion. I don’t see anything ridiculous about that.

      • Posted April 21, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

        There is much to compare between the two; the Catholics and Nazis even collaborated, for the sake of all that is Spam!

        Also, “gnu” and “new” are homophones, but I’m not sure Dawkins has ever called himself a “gnu” (or “new” for that matter), not that he has much choice in whether he is called one or not.

    • debunk
      Posted April 21, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

      There’s a very simple explanation. One side says the New Atheists compare all religious people to Nazis, the other side says that there are some comparisons between religion and nazism is some aspects.

    • Helen Wise
      Posted April 21, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

      Could you trouble yourself to read the backstory? It would obviate the need for someone to explain it you. Helpful links have been provided.

    • astrokid.nj
      Posted April 21, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

      Pete,
      Very weird. I was browsing the web, saw some blog posts on some sites, and some long responses as well. Looks like you are angry. Can you read through everything, and summarize for me?
      -Thanks

    • Pete Dunkelberg
      Posted April 21, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

      Thanks to all for the answers to my question. Truthspeaker shows some awareness – he disagrees that the playing of the card was “ridiculous.” It seems that many agree with him on that. I think Truthspeaker grasps that this sort of disagreement does not make either party a liar.

      # 23 asserts “disingenuous” etc evidently based on semantics but does # 23 see it as fact?
      # 26 disagrees with on semantics – how strongly must one play the Nazi card before it is OK to call it that?

      Others are insistent that Nick must agree with their interpretations (or apologize as they put it). This is absurd. If Nick thinks the playing of the card was uncalled for, ridiculous or whatever, then that is what he thinks. Why must he agree with you? Can you understand that this sort of disagreement does not make either party a liar?

      You’re so sensitive! ;)

      Again, thanks for the replies.

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted April 21, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

        Again, could you trouble yourself to read the actual story here before making comments? Aratina Cage sums up under #17.

        It would be a good idea to sum up as astrokid notes – so far you don’t seem to make any sense in the context of the discussion.

      • Posted April 21, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

        No card was played. Stop saying that.

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted April 21, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

        Actually, she sums up for you, I missed that. So I should perhaps take it you are not interested in the actual discussion!?

        • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
          Posted April 21, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

          Oops. I meant “actual story”.

      • truthspeaker
        Posted April 21, 2011 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

        “Pete Dunkelberg
        Posted April 21, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

        Thanks to all for the answers to my question. Truthspeaker shows some awareness – he disagrees that the playing of the card was “ridiculous.” It seems that many agree with him on that. I think Truthspeaker grasps that this sort of disagreement does not make either party a liar.”

        I don’t grasp that at all – I explicitly accused Matzke of lying in another post.

        Calling Dawkins’s comparison of the Nazi party and the Christian religion in the context of a discussion on authoritarian tendencies in human nature “ridiculous” is a lie. Implying that Dawkins did so in the pursuit of advocating good science education that includes evolution is another lie.

        • Pete Dunkelberg
          Posted April 21, 2011 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

          Aratina makes up a rule restricting the use of a phrase, and justifies name calling retroactively. This would be odd even if it were a good rule. A phrase like “playing the Nazi card” is naturally understood by analogy to “playing the race card,” and the original use is proper. Imagine doing something like Dawkins did in a political debate, and then trying to explain it away as has been done here. FAIL

          Truthspeaker thinks merely disagreeing with his opinion of what is ridiculous is a lie. Do you understand that sometimes people simply don’t agree?

          I wonder if Nick’s real offense was simply criticizing Dawkins. I also wonder why Richard Dawkins doesn’t just say “Yes I did it, and I think rightly?”

          In any case, the original assertion (playing the Nazi card) clearly occurred. Insisting after the fact that the phrase should not be used analogously to “playing the race card” but must be used much more restrictively does not alter the fact that the original meaning was clear and it happened. Name calling – FAIL

          If persons here, starting with Jerry Coyne, see nothing amiss with the name calling, all I can add is that you do not see yourselves as others see you.

          • Josh Slocum
            Posted April 21, 2011 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

            Wait. . .what was that? Oh yes. The sound of no one giving a shit.

          • Posted April 21, 2011 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

            Dawkins was not debating and it was not a discussion. He didn’t accuse anyone of being a Nazi. He didn’t use it to get out of a corner in an intellectual battle. You are full of it!

          • Posted April 21, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

            I also wonder why Richard Dawkins doesn’t just say “Yes I did it, and I think rightly?” –Dunkelberg

            He did.

            I mentioned another candidate for sainthood, Pope Pius XII, except that I forgot his name and referred to him as ‘Pope Nazi’.–Dawkins

            Did you ever see such gratuitous (one cannot help suspecting deliberate, agenda-driven) misunderstanding? Just watch the film for yourself: it speaks for itself.–Dawkins

            • NickMatzke
              Posted April 22, 2011 at 8:34 am | Permalink

              Aratina Cage
              Posted April 21, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

              I also wonder why Richard Dawkins doesn’t just say “Yes I did it, and I think rightly?” –Dunkelberg

              He did.

              I guess I was right to say so, then. The accusation that I was lying about it is, then, somewhat puzzling.

              • Posted April 22, 2011 at 8:41 am | Permalink

                I have not said you were lying, Nick, have I? Your story did change, however. The generic Gnu-A type person you started out with turned out to be Richard Dawkins in a very different situation from what you were originally giving the impression of.

              • truthspeaker
                Posted April 22, 2011 at 10:23 am | Permalink

                “I guess I was right to say so, then.”

                But that’s not what you said. You said his mention of Nazis was “ridiculous”.

            • Badger3k
              Posted April 22, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

              However, notice the slight of hand – Dunkelberg is referring to Dawkins playing the Nazi card, when all Richard says is that he couldn’t remember the name and said one thing. They’re not the same.

              They also have nothing to do with Matzke’s slides and his arguments about that. I don’t see how Dawkins comment on Pius whatever is relevant to the main issue being argued here.

          • truthspeaker
            Posted April 22, 2011 at 7:21 am | Permalink

            Nobody is telling you not to use the phrase “playing the Nazi card”. Aratina told you not to use it when it wasn’t appropriate.

            Watch the video of Dawkins’s lecture. At no time did he “play the Nazi card”. At no time did he make a comparison between religious leaders and Nazis that any reasonable person could call “ridiculous”.

          • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
            Posted April 22, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

            Aratina makes up a rule restricting the use of a phrase, and justifies name calling retroactively.

            Huh? We must not read the same comments. [The comment numbering shifts around - I wasn't aware and apologize.] I referred to Aratina’s comment describing Matzke’s shift in claims, starting with “You must have missed how it went from this:”. There is no rule of her there.

            Nor elsewhere what I can see. I think you refer to her asking you to stop referring to something that is under discussion as if it did happen. Especially since it is clear to most that it didn’t. But that is no rule, just asking you to stop being insinuative and dickish.

            And what was the name calling that Dawkins was involved in? It was a lecture.

          • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
            Posted April 22, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

            [Repost attempt; this time without the explicit link.]

            I wonder if Nick’s real offense was simply criticizing Dawkins. I also wonder why Richard Dawkins doesn’t just say “Yes I did it, and I think rightly?”

            So I don’t see it here, but since it has been posted over at Pharyngula [in the Nazi's everywhere thread] and can be assumed to be legit:

            “As I just posted on WEIT, there are two separate questions here:

            (1). Did I in fact ‘play the Nazi card’?

            (2). Would I have been right to do so if I had?

            It is absolutely clear that the answer to (1) is no. In other words, Matzke is a liar. But he seems to think he can wriggle out of it by arguing that some people on this thread give a ‘yes’ answer to (2). He has inanely gone about counting ‘votes’ for (2), scoring them as though they somehow justify his lie about (1).

            It should be clear to anyone of the smallest intelligence that (1) and (2) are completely separate questions, that (2), though interesting in its own right, is irrelevant to the question of whether I “played the Nazi card”, and that Nick Matzke is a liar. Is it really so difficult to do the decent thing and simply apologise?

            Richard”

            • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
              Posted April 22, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

              Oops! I missed it, it is further down thread. (And yay, it was indeed legit!)

    • SaintStephen
      Posted April 21, 2011 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

      He CRITICIZED Dawkins for playing the Nazi card, you blog bot.

      As Ben Goren and many others have shown so convincingly, there shouldn’t be any issue with this from fellow atheists.

      Do you understand now, Herr Dunkelberg? Please try and keep up.

    • Bruce Gorton
      Posted April 22, 2011 at 4:25 am | Permalink

      Lets put it this way:

      Hitler believed in “cars for the people” resulting in the Volkswagen. Ford believed in much the same when he started out.

      Am I playing the Nazi card against Ford?

      • NickMatzke
        Posted April 22, 2011 at 8:35 am | Permalink

        No, but if you gave a talk with a slide of Ford and three Nazi images on it, you would be. Especially if you were criticizing Ford or industrialists in general as part of the talk.

        • Matt Penfold
          Posted April 22, 2011 at 8:44 am | Permalink

          Are really as stupid as you seem to be ?

          Go away, and read about political religion.

          Quite honestly, your continued insistence on showing us all how ignorant you are is very uncivil. But then I forget, you are not required to be civil, since you think you are so special.

        • truthspeaker
          Posted April 22, 2011 at 9:00 am | Permalink

          What if it were a discussion about Ford’s anti-semitic beliefs? Would that still be “playing the Nazi card”?

          • KG
            Posted April 22, 2011 at 9:22 am | Permalink

            As a matter of fact Henry Ford had considerable influence on Hitler, which went beyond their shared extreme antisemitism. See Timothy W. Ryback’s “Hitler’s Private Library”.

        • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
          Posted April 22, 2011 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

          Now you are adding a hypothetical. To make it applicable to a part of the discussion above, you would also have to change “cars for the people” as leading to trouble always. (It was used by the Nazi regime war effort, but not to my knowledge similarly by Ford. :-D)

          And then we are back to the pertinent specific context of the movie. But that wasn’t the point of Gorton’s hypothetical here. It was a generic, indeed _the_ generic situation and illustrating how claiming playing the Nazi card isn’t automatically always applicable as you seem to think. Note that you _added_ to the original hypothetical, indeed admitted that the generic is good.

        • Ichthyic
          Posted April 22, 2011 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

          No, but if you gave a talk with a slide of Ford and three Nazi images on it, you would be.

          It would entirely depend on what the point of doing so was.

          taken out of context, AS YOU DID, the point is entirely lost.

          you, Nick, have not only lost the point, you’re just… lost!

    • Pete Dunkelberg
      Posted April 22, 2011 at 8:37 am | Permalink

      Aratina, whether Dawkins was engaged in a one-on-one debate in that instance is not the point. But you do have a good point in saying that Dawkins does admit it. But here is a puzzle: if it is admitted, how can it be dishonest for someone to mention it? It seems to me that most here think Dawkins not only explained it, but explained it away so that it doesn’t count, at least in any negative sense. In the first instance, he forgot someone’s name. When one is not so young this is not unusual. “I momentarily forgot his name, so I called him Mr Nazi” is unusual. It may be a Freudian slip reflecting strong feelings. The second instance was clearly planned, and Dawkins’ explanation is just to dismiss the mention of it as if “it doesn’t count (in any negative way) when I do it. I automatically have good enough reason.” Most here seem to agree. He didn’t “really” do it. From that you decide that the person who made the plain observation that he did it must be mistaken. Then you jump to “that person is lying.”

      The feeling that it doesn’t count (in any negative way) when we do it is a common ingroup feeling. For instance, when the USA took up torture recently, we just redefined a few things and decided it doesn’t count as torture when we do it. Ingroup feelings notwithstanding, to jump from that to saying that someone who sees it differently (normal outside the ingroup) is dishonest is hardly justified.

      Bryan @ 31, aside from stating it categorically, you are on the right track. Recall that the phrase “play the Nazi card” does not have a long history in English and is most readily understood by analogy with “play the race card.” One does not nearly have to use an explicit epithet to be playing that card. Indeed it is often done less directly. Look up Race card dog whistle or race card dogwhistle.

      Overall, some need to work on the distinction between disagreement and dishonesty, and it wouldn’t hurt to think how all the name calling appears outside this group.

      • Matt Penfold
        Posted April 22, 2011 at 8:41 am | Permalink

        Overall, some need to work on the distinction between disagreement and dishonesty, and it wouldn’t hurt to think how all the name calling appears outside this group.

        Dishonesty is saying something you know to be untrue, or should know to be untrue.

        Matzke is guilty of being dishonest by that definition. And not only in the context of the Dawkins quote.

        • Pete Dunkelberg
          Posted April 22, 2011 at 8:55 am | Permalink

          Matt, some need to work on the distinction….

          Can’t you see that it plainly looks like the card was played to someone outside this group?

          • truthspeaker
            Posted April 22, 2011 at 9:01 am | Permalink

            No.

          • Matt Penfold
            Posted April 22, 2011 at 9:03 am | Permalink

            I can see how they might think that given Matke’s wilful misrepresentation of what Dawkins actually said. But I do not see why Dawkins should have to guard against lies by the likes of Matzke.

            But answer me this. Do you think the cause of teaching evolution is advanced by Matzke’s lies ? Only you have not addressed his dishonesty and I would like to know why not. Why are not you calling him out on the lies ?

          • Posted April 22, 2011 at 9:29 am | Permalink

            As I said on Richard’s site, this “playing the Nazi card”/”Gorwin’s Law” business is just intellectual laziness.

            Some comparisons with Nazism are unfair and fallacious:

            P1. The pope is German.
            P2. The Nazis were German.
            C. The pope is a Nazi.

            We see a lot of this in debates about reproductive technologies, euthanasia, and other bioethical issues.

            In other cases, it’s perfectly appropriate to refer to Nazism, e.g. if someone collaborated with the Nazis, as Pius XII arguably did, or if some system of thought shares some of the problems of Nazism, as Christianity arguably does, or if some doctrine historically fed into Nazism, as Christian attitudes to the Jews did.

            It’s not beyond the human mind to work out which references to Nazism are fair and which are not, though of course there are grey areas.

            But to suggest that Richard did something egregiously unfair that called be called “playing the Nazi card” or called out as an example of “Godwin’s Law” is sheer stupidity, as well as lazy, as well as damaging.

            On the contrary, what Richard did in his talk was perfectly appropriate to make his point. What Matzke did in response this week is pretty damn contemptible.

            But I’m getting used to this from accommodationists by now. As someone else (more or less) said, there’s another law – that the nastiness and unfairness from accommodationists will always exceed whatever nastiness and unfairness they claim to have identified.

            • Posted April 22, 2011 at 9:30 am | Permalink

              Damn “Godwin’s Law” not “Gorwin’s Law” … though maybe that should also exist. Sounds like something from The Lord of the Rings.

            • Josh Slocum
              Posted April 22, 2011 at 9:32 am | Permalink

              Someone (I’m sorry that I’ve forgotten who) named it Mooney’s Law.

              • Matt Penfold
                Posted April 22, 2011 at 9:39 am | Permalink

                Feynmaniac I think.

            • Tyro
              Posted April 22, 2011 at 9:38 am | Permalink

              This FTW

        • Pete Dunkelberg
          Posted April 22, 2011 at 9:20 am | Permalink

          Truthspeaker: Wow! that’s the thread in a nutshell.

          You and Matt and others are (if not pulling my leg) really unable to recognize and accept simple disagreement on some matters that move you. Wow again.

          • Matt Penfold
            Posted April 22, 2011 at 9:27 am | Permalink

            Lying is not simple disagreement. Matzke lied.

          • truthspeaker
            Posted April 22, 2011 at 10:09 am | Permalink

            This isn’t simple disagreement. No reasonable person with an IQ greater than 85 could watch that Dawkins lecture and reach the conclusion that Dawkins had “played the Nazi card”.

      • Posted April 22, 2011 at 9:10 am | Permalink

        Pete, I’m searching my comments to find out where I said Nick was lying and not finding it. What I said is that the story changed. What we have now is the claim that a trump card was played in a situation where there was no ongoing game! Dawkins was giving an educational lecture and did nothing more than juxtapose an image of religious figures (who were they, by the way?) on the same slide as images of Nazi propaganda and a Nazi military parade. It doesn’t match up with anything Matzke originally claimed.

        Please explain to me how this:

        The vast majority of people have very vague ideas about these topics, whatever their opinions. They can be reached, but not if you lead with you are stupid liers [sic] whose religion is also a lie and by the way there’s no God, no objective meaning to life, and if you think otherwise then science is against you, it’s a package deal and you have to accept all that if you accept evolution/global warming. –Matzke

        has any parallels, any relation at all, to the lecture by Dawkins where the slide in question is shown.

        • Pete Dunkelberg
          Posted April 22, 2011 at 9:55 am | Permalink

          Aratina, thanks for the correction. I see that my statement was near the end of a paragraph that started off addressing a comment of yours. I should have said “several commenters make the jump to …” or something like that. I’m glad you are not one.

          Regarding your question, a word-for-word connection to that exact Dawkins talk is not need to see the point in regards to the broader context, is it?

          Expanding the topic, I guess gnus have the objectives of gaining more acceptance of themselves and less acceptance of religion. This is not the same as just wanting to help the public understand science. Why not just accept the existence of different objectives and get along? [All: can you answer this question without invective? Please?]

          • Posted April 22, 2011 at 10:05 am | Permalink

            But Pete, I don’t think there is any disagreement with the notion behind the original assertion by Matzke which I quoted in the comment above yours.

            The thing is that nobody we know of makes a habit of doing that during outreach sessions, and so we wanted examples instead of this straw-gnu, and the one example we got doesn’t have any relation to what was originally depicted by Nick.

            If Matzke hadn’t built up a straw-gnu or if he had acknowledged that it was indeed a straw-gnu, then we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

            • Ichthyic
              Posted April 22, 2011 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

              If Matzke hadn’t built up a straw-gnu or if he had acknowledged that it was indeed a straw-gnu, then we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

              QF-fucking-T!

              Nick’s been trying to prop this strawman up for years now. It’s time it was just blown away and forgotten.

            • articulett
              Posted April 23, 2011 at 12:56 am | Permalink

              Exactly!

              And when asked to “please back it up with science, like science defenders ™ are supposed to do” (Nick’s words)– he told an anecdote that was a lie– the equivalent of a “Tom Johnson story” (story invented to confirm a bias).

              When called on it, he handled it, he could have demonstrated how he thought self-appointed great “science communicators” should act– but instead he gave a weaselly notpology (like Mooney) and blamed others.

          • truthspeaker
            Posted April 22, 2011 at 10:07 am | Permalink

            “Why not just accept the existence of different objectives and get along? ”

            We’re not the ones you should be asking that question.

          • Ichthyic
            Posted April 22, 2011 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

            I guess gnus have the objectives of gaining more acceptance of themselves and less acceptance of religion.

            but… we’re all so nasty and strident, right?

            How does that fit with gnus wanting to gain acceptance for themselves?

            pick one, Dunkeberg. I’m sure you can invent your own narrative to support either.

  24. ivorygirl
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    Pete Dunkelberg,try looking at the whole thread before making your inane comments.
    Matzke put his foot in his mouth then did’nt have the guts to admit he was wrong. Supporting his disingenuousness,and obfuscations hardly makes you the logical one.

    • Badger3k
      Posted April 21, 2011 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

      Needless to add, this is a pattern with Matzke, as any regular reader to this and a few other sites would know. I once supported the NCSE, but not now. I wish them all the luck, but I’ll fight the bigger battle with other groups, not with a group so focused on the leaves they can’t see the tree.

  25. pittige maki
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    in his book “abermals krahte de hahn” a german writer Karlheinz Deschner proves not only that the church has collaborated with the nazis more important he proves that catolicism led to nazism.

    • Chris
      Posted April 21, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

      The Austrian writer Thomas Bernhard, who grew up during the Nazi era/WWII, rails against this very connection in his novels and autobiography. ‘The Catholic mentality is the Nazi mentality.’ Of course, he is a misanthrope and thus likely to be discounted as a reliable source.

      • CFM
        Posted April 22, 2011 at 3:42 am | Permalink

        As a reliable academic source on this topic I recommend, among others:
        Claus-Ekkehard Bärsch: “Die politische Religion des Nationalsozialismus” (The Political Religion of National Socialism).
        Bärsch was a renowned German professor of political science – he is now an emeritus – and specialised on the “politology of religion”.
        Bärsch shows in a very detailed fashion how a certain interpretation of Christianity influenced Hitler, Goebbels, Rosenberg and other Nazi ideologues.

        Bärsch is, BTW, a Christian himself.

        I am not sure this particluar book is available in English, but Routledge has an interesting book series on “Totalitarianism Movements and Political Religions” in general, which includes some of his writings. The series also includes the volume “Religion, Politics and Ideology in the Third Reich. Selected Essays”, edited by Saul Friedlander and Uriel Tal.

        I doubt that it is helpful to accuse all these historians, political scientists and sociologists of “playing the Nazi card against religion”.

        The similarities between totalitarian political movements and (organized) religions and the influences of certain interpretations/ traditions of Christianity on National Socialism in particular are well known to all social scientists familiar with the topic. There is of course still much ongoing research on the details…

  26. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    So much ground to cover, must run quick:

    – Nick Matzke is indeed some piece of work.

    And is he comparing blogs with Fox News? Why is he then so invested in the media?

    – Mooney’s piece is awful, probably worthless.

    I’m not sure he had references even. At my first two attempts to check I got one unreferenced essay and one on moral judgment that is used to hold up science portrayal (!). At that point I gave up.

    – The return of good old “M&M framing” and its results reminds of Nisbet’s latest attempt.

    His “Climate Shift” report takes a lot of flack for the obvious reason:

    “Here’s liberal me, but just because the people worried most about climate change tend to the left or progressive side of politics is no reason to fudge the truth about the seriousness of climate change, and its primacy among reasons to change the economy fast. The problem here is that if climate change is so serious, its correctives all seem to require concerted, int’l government action. Mandatory stuff ordered by distant bureaucrats will always inspire in the conservative side of humanity desperation to wish the problem away rather than accept a solution so hard to stomach. So it goes. Where’s the intellectual honesty in fibbing about why one thinks we need to burn a LOT less fossil fuel? That is, the conservative-offending nature of plausible solutions is built in to the situation, and is not the result of bad framing of the argument. Changing the subject won’t help. That is, climate change itself must be cast as a non-partisan issue of major significance. Solutions and arguments about them ought to be a different topic (and good luck with that..).” [My bold.]

    Note that the last part applies for the gnu – gnasty divide as well. ‘That is, religion itself must be cast as a non-partisan issue of major significance. Solutions and arguments about them ought to be a different topic’.

  27. David M
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    I’ll just quickly come into bat for Richard being very fairminded when it comes to Q&A.

    The question at the atheist convention sounds much like the Q&A for the writers festival talk/interview I saw him give in Melbourne for Greatest Show…

    It was a largely sympathetic audience (and I don’t recall any mention of Nazis) but one of the questioners was a creationist, and really wanted to beat the drum, using Giraffes as an example – a strange one given the discussion of the giraffe in Greatest Show, but anyhoo – he was insistent, and the crowd got antsy, but Richard really gave him a fair and long answer, and also answered more follow up questions from him than others. In that same Q&A, an (I presume) atheist asked him if he thought you could make a case for religious people to be excluded from political office because they were “delusional.” Reference obviously to both Richard’s book and our PM at the time K Rudd (an Anglican). Again, Richard’s answer was spot on (although, if I’m being cheeky, you could call it politics v religion accomodationism).

    Not much more to add, other than if this Nick chap doesn’t start dealing in specifics shortly, he’s going to dig a hole all the way to I don’t know where. Pouncing on any mention of Nazi and religion in the same sentence and calling it “playing the Nazi card” makes reasonable discussion impossible.

  28. Doug
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    Gotta say the best bit of this piece is the ending quote…religion may be crap, but the bible is full of bon mots

  29. Papalinton
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    @ Nick Matzke

    A simple and genuine mea culpa is all it takes to redress an untruth.

    Cheers

  30. Josh Slocum
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    subscribing

  31. Internet Do-Gooder
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

    Since I didn’t see a seek-time given for the Nazi comment in the video, here is an auto-seek link to it (55:41).

  32. Tim Harris
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    I suggest that both Matzke & Dunkelberg should look very carefully and honestly at the video of Dawkins speaking and listen carefully and honestly to what he says; nowhere does he play the ‘Nazi card’, and it is either foolish or dishonest to pretend that he does.

    • Bryan
      Posted April 21, 2011 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

      I think Pete is asserting that ANY mention of Nazis or Nazism in connection with religion (in any way) constitutes
      “playing the Nazi card”.

    • Mandrellian
      Posted April 22, 2011 at 1:41 am | Permalink

      But Tim, if these chaps looked carefully & honestly, they’d realise precisely how paper-thin and baseless their criticisms & denigrations are and would have to admit they were wrong or at least “not right”. As we’ve all observed, you can’t be a very good coddler of superstition – sorry, champion of tolerance – I mean, possible Templeton nominee – if you admit you were in error in your characterisation of a Gnu position.

      I mean, come on, they’re only rotten ol’ Gnus anyway, so even if you ARE wrong and you KNOW you are and KNOW that it can easily be demonstrated by anyone TO anyone, you serve noone by giving those mean nasty strident meanies any more ammo (because let’s face it, the Mootzkes of the world practically gift-wrap the bullets that the Gnus fire at them).

  33. Egbert
    Posted April 22, 2011 at 4:40 am | Permalink

    How many times have atheists been called Nazis? The familiar Mao, Hitler and Stalin association turns up plenty of times in anti-atheist diatribes.

    Oh, and while this thread has gone so Meta, Chris Mooney is now conceding that there is positive evidence that visible loud atheism actually works

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/intersection/2011/04/21/psych-evidence-that-supports-new-atheism/

    And here is a useful word: prejudice.

    • Diane G.
      Posted April 22, 2011 at 11:23 am | Permalink

      I like Torbjörn Larsson’s comment there!

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted April 22, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

        Thanks, lots of web love back!

        (And I’m amazed it wasn’t STFU’d.)

  34. Tim Harris
    Posted April 22, 2011 at 5:22 am | Permalink

    Yes, all grand and right: so perhaps Matzke & Dunkelberg (sounds like a delicatessen) could explain exactly why they think Dawkins is playing the Nazi card, instead of indulging in petty little ripostes that are in fact cowardly evasions.

    • Bryan
      Posted April 22, 2011 at 7:02 am | Permalink

      They have: Dawkins displayed a slide featuring 1) religious imagery and 2) Nazi imagery. That is “why they think Dawkins is playing the Nazi card.” It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but that seems to be what they think.

      • articulett
        Posted April 23, 2011 at 1:07 am | Permalink

        And remember, this is after being asked for evidence for this dishonest allusion about supposed new atheist behavior:

        “They can be reached, but not if you lead with you are stupid liers [sic] whose religion is also a lie and by the way there’s no God, no objective meaning to life, and if you think otherwise then science is against you, it’s a package deal and you have to accept all that if you accept evolution/global warming.

        I’ve done a lot of speaking to general audiences – students, civil rights groups, church groups, etc. Not once has it seemed even mildly likely that provoking a defensive reaction was a good idea. It’s only good, maybe, when you are in a shouting match on a blog or on Fox News, and even in those venues it’s extremely debatable if it does anything other than get people mad and shut down and repel the very people you would like to reach.”

        The Dawkins quote was supposed to be THE evidence for this nasty straw man! Just like Tom Johnson– the lie became the evidence to further the original slanderous scientifically unsupported claim.

        Shame on Nick. I don’t think he’d take it very well if anyone did this to him.

  35. Helen Wise
    Posted April 22, 2011 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    And last, but not least, there is this exchange in which I participated at Dawkins’ site:

    Comment 21 by pasadena beggar : [That's me, Helen Wise]

    Stanyard, Jebus.

    The discussion at WEIT is about Matzke’s misrepresentation of Dawkins. There are a hundred or more comments there that attempt to correct the misrepresentation, and call Matzke to account. Suddenly you pop into the thread, basically say “leave Matzke alooooooooone”, and then you castigate the people who aren’t putting up with Matzke’s lying. Do not now pop over here to Dawkins place with your underpants in a wad, all innocent and whining about people who called him names.

    This was not your fight, and I can’t begin to imagine why you thought that inserting yourself into the midst of it was at all helpful.

    [What Roger Stanyard replied to me]:

    It is part of my fight. I’m in the same business as Nick Matzke, defending science. You’re damaging it. [I'm a retired management consultant who now works as a mild-mannered librarian, but whatev.]

    You should mind your manners as you’re giving your cause a bad name – same as describing Nick Matzke as “vermin”.

    My name is Roger Stanyard, btw.

    Who are you? [End]

    I’m sorry I’ve damaged science for you all.

    • Egbert
      Posted April 22, 2011 at 7:24 am | Permalink

      Helen,

      I’m sympathetic to your mistreatment, however some atheists think they deserve a special privilege and status because of the jolly good work they do for humanity, which leaves them beyond criticism.

    • Jolo5309
      Posted April 22, 2011 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      No, your good

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted April 22, 2011 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

      I’m in the same business as Nick Matzke, defending science. You’re damaging it.

      Ouch.

      So Stanyard, representant for BSCE, smears gnus including all the great scientists and educators like Dawkins, Carroll, Stengers, for associating with outspoken atheism?

      That is so gnasty. It is also lacking all evidence, which we have repeatedly pointed out.

      And we have historical evidence (suffragettes, gays) and science (Rosenhause) supporting the opposite, gnu works well, gnasty doesn’t work as well. (People doesn’t give away political, economical, and/or social power spontaneously.)

      If anything, Pharyngula’s thread as well as this one points to a new phenomena. (For me at least.) Education, skeptic and perhaps science organizations are damaged by gnasty attitudes! Commenters are becoming outspoken with their distaste for irrational behavior:

      “He seems to think that the science/skeptical community can do without us. I say we prove to him otherwise via a boycott of any and all “science” organizations who want to get cozy with the religious.” [#41, "Nazi's everywhere".]

      “I have personally decided not to join or contribute at ALL to skeptic movements and that because of this attitude. It’s clear though I am skeptical I am not wanted so you don’t get any of my time or cash. There’s a real world example of someone being driven away by being a dick, Nick.” [#47, "Nazi's everywhere".]

      “And you can’t HEAR about a Skeptic even[t] without also hearing someone expressing “I wish all the atheists would go away!” or “Three panels out of Fifteen!? Jesus why didn’t we just label this Athiestdoucheacon instead of SKepticon!”” [#55, "Nazi's everywhere"; same commenter as #47.]

      “And lost the NCSE at least one potential donor.” [#10, here.]

      ================================================

      Just for kicks, gnasties even succeeds to annoy agnostics:

      “Nick being a dick at 107 replied:

      Another gnu vote that playing the Nazi card is just ducky.

      Nice troll! But in your desperate attempt to label me “gnu” you have failed to recognize I am niehter gnu or atheist. Infact, I’m an agnostic incase you’re wondering. Oh noes…another class of disbelief who can’t stand accomondationists. Because as a skeptic the onus of proof is still on the person making the claim and not on the person asking the question. You “sell outs” like to muddy that….which is evident by your posts.” [#168, "Nazi's everywhere".]

      A theological agnostic (“you can’t tell anything”) can’t be incorporated, but surely a skeptic agnostic (“the onus of proof”) can be called “a-gnastic”!? :-D

    • Ichthyic
      Posted April 22, 2011 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

      “It is part of my fight. I’m in the same business as Nick Matzke, defending science.”

      *looks to see where Matzke irrationally accusing people of things they didn’t do ‘defends science’*

      nope, still not seeing it.

      perhaps you can explain how Nick was defending science here?

      I’m sure I at least will get a chuckle out of that, which is the only value you have to offer this thread, apparently.

      so get on with it, and make us laugh already.

      • Ichthyic
        Posted April 22, 2011 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

        that’s directed at Stanyard, just to be clear, and not to Helen; I’m just responding to the bits she posted from Stanyard.

    • Posted April 23, 2011 at 5:20 am | Permalink

      Grow up!

      • Helen Wise
        Posted April 23, 2011 at 6:12 am | Permalink

        “grow up”

        Stanyard, you’re a sexist, tiresome bore.

        You’ve chided me on my manners for having the temerity to yank you up short for your support of Matzke’s lies.

        You’ve accused me of damaging science. A

        And now you’re accusing me of being childish.

        No one else who has responded to you, including Blackburn and Coyne, get these kinds of personal remarks.

        [Dr. Coyne, I do apologize to you for this instance of name-calling.]

      • Diane G.
        Posted April 23, 2011 at 11:06 am | Permalink

        Also–leave Helen alone or we’ll sic our cats on you!

      • Ichthyic
        Posted April 23, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

        Grow up!

        hmm. Slightly amusing, but you need to shake your fist when you say that, I think.

  36. ivorygirl
    Posted April 22, 2011 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    I have to say that I am very dissapointed by Dr Matzke comments.
    He claims that “Dawkins has equated religion with Nazism”.
    Then presents a video in which Dawkins juxtaposes pictures of Nazis and the pope (along with tribesmen of Africa-just to show the context). Dawkins never accused the pope of being a Nazi anymore than accusing the tribesmen of Africa of being Nazis.
    He is a man with an agenda who has found it convenient to lie and distort.

    • Matt Penfold
      Posted April 22, 2011 at 8:20 am | Permalink

      He has not finished his doctorate yet, so plain “Mr” will suffice.

    • truthspeaker
      Posted April 22, 2011 at 9:02 am | Permalink

      ‘He claims that “Dawkins has equated religion with Nazism”.’

      Matzke didn’t actually claim that.

      • Jolo5309
        Posted April 22, 2011 at 9:48 am | Permalink

        @truthspeaker
        You are correct, Matzke didn’t claim that Dawkins equated religion with Nazism”. What Matzke actually claimed was that Dawkins would “play the Nazi card against religion”. Which is different than what ivorygirl said, but not sufficiently different enough for your denial.

        • articulett
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 1:29 am | Permalink

          He made the claim: I have seen Richard Dawkins address large general audiences and quite deliberately, but ridiculously, play the Nazi card against religion. It’s an instance of Godwin’s Law, and it’s no better when Dawkins does it than when anyone else does it. as supposed evidence in support of his straw man that included the follow allegations about gnu atheists:

          1. They “rain hot death” on people for “real and imagined” things “all the time.”

          2. They lead discussions by calling people “stupid liers [sic] whose religion is also a lie and by the way there’s no God, no objective meaning to life, and if you think otherwise then science is against you, it’s a package deal and you have to accept all that if you accept evolution/global warming”

          3. They purposely provoke defensive reactions.

          In other words, he lied to confirm his prejudicial allegations about “gnu atheists”. Though he imagines himself an expert in science and demands that others provide scientific evidence for their opinions about Mooney, he has not been able to back up any of the above claims nor his delusion that “gnu atheists” are hurting the cause of science education.

  37. Matt Penfold
    Posted April 22, 2011 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    Well there have been a good number of comments from Matzke, around a dozen at a rough count.

    Not one of them contains anything by way of an apology. Not a single admission he did anything wrong.

    Matkze maybe “pro-evolution” but he is clearly in favour of lying to advance his cause. No one needs an ally like him.

  38. John Phillips, FCD
    Posted April 22, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    What I have seen of the three accommadationists in this thread so far, I think I have more respect for the average fundie. For at least you know where you stand with the average fundy, unlike these three disingenuous sacks of shit. Is that gnasty enough for you Nick et al?

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted April 22, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

      Umm. . .yes, I know you’re frustrated, but, as per the roolz above, try to lay off the namecalling, please.

    • Posted April 22, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

      I’ve been thinking about this a bit.

      Gnus and accommodationists both think that religion is bullshit. The difference is that a Gnu is willing to state that publicly, while an accommodationist isn’t. Further, many accommodationists seem bent on ingratiating themselves with religionists by loudly proclaiming how rude the Gnus are for publicly stating what the accommodationists privately believe.

      So, yeah. I personally know many fundamentalists who display much more personal (if not academic or intellectual) integrity than almost any accommodationist.

      Cheers,

      b&

  39. Posted April 22, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    There are two separate questions here:

    (1). Did I in fact ‘play the Nazi card’?

    (2). Would I have been right to do so if I had?

    It is absolutely clear that the answer to (1) is no. In other words, Matzke is a liar. But he seems to think he can wriggle out of it by arguing that some people on this thread give a ‘yes’ answer to (2). He has inanely gone about counting ‘votes’ for (2), scoring them as though they somehow justify his lie about (1).

    It should be clear to anyone of the smallest intelligence that (1) and (2) are completely separate questions, that (2), though interesting in its own right, is irrelevant to the question of whether I “played the Nazi card”, and that Nick Matzke is a liar. Is it really so difficult to do the decent thing and simply apologise?

    Richard

    • Tim Harris
      Posted April 22, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

      Clearly, for NM, it is.

    • Posted April 22, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      Regardless of whether or not Nick does the decent thing, I think that, at this point, it would behoove the NCSE to distance itself a bit further from Nick.

      Yes, he’s no longer employed by them, but he frequently reminds us that he was one of their wunderkinds.

      Richard, I’d be hard pressed to name even a handful of other living people who’ve done as much to further the public understanding of the biological sciences. David Attenborough, of course, springs to mind, but I’m not sure there’s anybody else I’d rank with the two of you.

      And, as such, you could rightly lay claim to having done more to further the mission of the NCSE than any of their staff. This is not to denigrate the staff of the NCSE, of course; as dedicated and hardworking as they are, you’re a superstar of science, and have had the position and the leverage to do things that the NCSE never could do. For example, while PBS has reported on the activities of the NCSE (especially including the Dover trial), it’s inconceivable that they’d ever go to them for several documentary films. And I’m sure the NCSE is never going to publish a single bestseller, let alone the dozen or so you have.

      In light of all that, Nick’s antics, as somebody so closely affiliated with the NCSE, is doing the NCSE no good whatsoever. He’s “not helping,” with several exclamation marks. I, personally, hope that somebody at the NCSE takes notice and does something to correct the situation.

      Cheers,

      b&

    • articulett
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 12:44 am | Permalink

      Yes, what is it with the “notpologies” of the faitheist crowd?

      Nick Matzke has a belief that gnus are bad for furthering science understanding (a common prejudice in the faitheist crowd.) When asked to “back it up with science, like science defenders ™ are supposed to do” (Nick’s words), he makes a slanderous claim about Richard Dawkins– not unlike the similarly slanderous claims Mooney made about PZ. When asked for evidence, Nick proffers the first available lie –not unlike Mooney and the Tom Johnson story (which slandered Jerry Coyne and was a general indictment regarding all gnu atheists– a supposed “example” of how they hurt science education.) When the lie was exposed, both of these men hemmed and hawed and hand-waved and gave a notpology while attempting to muddy the water furthers with tangential allegations (in Mooney’s case there was this allusion that the Tom Johnson story was probably similar to things that really happened). In Matzke case it was as Richard describes above.

      For people who appoint themselves as “experts in science communication” and who demand that others show evidence for their claims, the hypocrisy is overwhelming.

      Not only that, but Matzke and Mooney have spread bigotry against some of the demonstrably best science educators around –along with an already much maligned group of people! What has Mooney or Matzke contributed that can compare to those whom they’ve slandered? What can they ever do to make up for the bigotry they’ve flamed? The self-appointed “science communication experts” have problems with basic communication and, in typical Dunning-Kruger fashion, can’t recognize actual scientific communication competence because they are too busy spreading misinformation that confirms their nasty little biases which are not supported by any scientific evidence at all.

      Here Nick try this on: “I’m sorry. I can see that I was mistaken in my zealous defense of Mooney– so much so, that I was blinded by my own prejudices and ended up doing the exact same thing that made Mooney persona non grata amongst the gnus in the first place. I lacked data to support my prejudicial beliefs about the gnus so I spread misinformation (which I should have checked over first). I am deeply sorry, and I will attempt to deal with my unsupported biases about gnu atheists supposedly hurting the cause of science education. Clearly, the person I slandered has done more to further science than I can ever hope to. I can only blame my jealousy for my unflattering behavior. Thank you for correcting me; it will never happen again.”

      • 'Tis Himself
        Posted April 23, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

        When the lie was exposed, both of these men hemmed and hawed and hand-waved and gave a notpology while attempting to muddy the water furthers with tangential allegations (in Mooney’s case there was this allusion that the Tom Johnson story was probably similar to things that really happened).

        Actually it’s worse than that. Mooney managed to convince himself that he was the victim in the Tom Johnson episode. As a result, he hasn’t apologized to the gnu atheists for slandering us but instead is mildly miffed nobody has apologized to him.

  40. John Phillips, FCD
    Posted April 22, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    Sorry Jerry, won’t happen again however tempting and however disingenuous they continue to be.

  41. Papalinton
    Posted April 22, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    Nick Matzki,
    Do the honorable thing.
    Fall on your sword.

  42. Papalinton
    Posted April 22, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    Nick Matzke
    Do the honorable thing.
    Fall on your sword.

  43. Tyro
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    Lest we get too caught up in whether or not “the Nazi card” was played (whatever that might mean), let’s not forget the big picture. Nick started by saying:

    They tend to be the same people that rain hot death on all opponents, real or imagined, all the time.

    When asked to defend this, instead of pointing out what Richard does “all the time” (as Nick claimed), we’re given a specific academic talk given several years ago. I’m a gonna call that one a fail.

    Next, instead of showing how Richard has “rained hot death” down upon his opponents, the video at most showed him deliver a calm, restrained academic lecture which included a single slide which Nick thought was inappropriate. Is that really raining hot death?

    It would be nice if Nick could at least take a step back and say “sorry fellas, I got caught up in the dog pile and lost some perspective. I thought that amidst a lifetime of public speaking, Richard made a small error on a single slide but I could have expressed myself better.”

    Or at least admit that his “hot death” and “all the time” comments were out of line. At least bring this back down to earth.

    Right now, this squabbling over what is and is not a “Nazi card” is actually working in his favour since we’re forgetting that even if some of us think that he could have a point, it still doesn’t begin to justify the accusations which started this all off.

    • Posted April 23, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      Very good, Tyro.

      Jerry is, perhaps, to blame for focussing attention on “playing the Nazi card” — which I think Dawkins did not do (whatever the phrase means, it surely can’t refer to legitimately mentioning the Nazis in a wholly appropriate context, can it?)

      But even had Dawkins been “guilty”, you’re absolutely right: It in no way substantiates Nick’s original calumny of gnu atheists.


4 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] Another Tom Johnson: Did Dawkins call religious people “Nazis”? There is a certain kind of atheist who never misses a chance to slander the Gnu Atheists, and the usual charges are [...] [...]

  2. [...] the big “Nick Matzke = Tom Johnson” thread the other day, a fellow named Roger Stanyard came over to complain.  He is spokesperson for the British Centre for Science Education (BCSE), the UK equivalent of our [...]

  3. [...] the big “Nick Matzke = Tom Johnson” thread the other day, a fellow named Roger Stanyard came over to complain.  He is spokesperson for the [...]

  4. [...] couple weeks ago on a different site, Coyne was arguing with a grad student, Nick Matzke, about whether modern atheists are too hostile to religious people.  Coyne asked Matzke if he had [...]

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