Dawks jumps the shark

By Michael J. Smith on Friday June 15, 2012 06:02 PM

I am delighted to report that one of the guys I most love to hate, Richard Dawkins, has just fully confirmed all my suspicions about him:

Evolution should be considered "the new classics", Richard Dawkins has claimed, arguing that a university course in the subject would produce the most academically polished students.

[Note for non-Brits: by 'course' the Dawk means what we Yanks would call a 'major'. No doubt among us it would be called 'evolutionary studies'. -- MJS]

... Although no such course exists in Britain, with the subject principally being confined to biology programmes, Prof Dawkins said degrees in evolution were sure to appear in future and their students would achieve "polymathic status". Reading evolution would broaden scholars' horizons by giving them a better understanding of economics, social science, philosophy, engineering, medicine, agriculture, linguistics, physics, cosmology and the history of science, he argued.

... "I think evolution would do a good job of uniting not just biology and geology and the obvious scientific subjects, but also philosophy, history, economics....

Explaining the common ground shared by evolution and behavioural economics in his speech last weekend, he said: "Everything has to be paid for, there is no such thing as a free lunch. You have to pay for whatever you do now in the form of lost opportunities to do other things in the future."

Confined to biology programs, eh? Free Darwin! This is of course a little like saying that the teaching of quantum mechanics is usually confined to physics programs.

Faithful readers of this blog -- fit audience, though few, as another Brit once wrote -- may recall earlier episodes of Dawkins-bashing on my part. One of the reasons I have always objected to him is that he really thinks he has an answer for everything, and surely any jury would return a verdict of 'guilty as charged' on this count after reading his demented ravings, in the Telegraph piece linked and quoted above, about 'evolution' as Queen of the Sciences.

Perhaps it is superfluous to comment on the 'no free lunch' trope, so beloved of market cultists, who also curiously enough have an answer for everything. In their case it's The Magic Of The Market (tm). There's a deep kinship, I think; Dawkins and the market cultists have essentially the same picture in their overheated heads: a relentless bellum omnium contra omnes.

Comments (22)

I don't see how evolution makes the concept of opportunity costs any easier (was it supposed to be hard) to understand. "There is competition for what you do with your time, just as there is competition in nature"? Impressive!

Dawkins didn't confirm your worst suspicions when he declared Islam the most evil religion?

I think you are right about the kinship. It just seems to be very close to the kind of social Darwinism I'm sure Dawkins would decry as a relic of the 19th century. Dawkins, red in tooth and claw. There's a nice YouTube video of him cackling and dissecting a giraffe.


One of the interesting things about 'opportunity cost' is that, like 'inclusive fitness', it is a sum over infinity. Who can enumerate the paths not taken?


Oddly enough, perhaps, I cut Dawkins a bit of slack on the Islam thing, simply because he's a Brit.

In my experience, even the most intelligent, cultured, enlightened, humane, kindly Brits (of whom Dawkie is not one) are nevertheless nearly always batshit crazy on the subject of Islam.

The topic comes up, the pallid dolichocephalic face turns purple, spittle flecks the prim pursed lips -- they're even more screaming-Mimi on the subject than we are in the States, which is saying a lot.


All infected by the Islam hating mem, eh?





The Islam-hating mem-sahib, perhaps. Imperial mem-ories die hard.

In my experience, even the most intelligent, cultured, enlightened, humane, kindly Brits ... are nevertheless nearly always batshit crazy on the subject of Islam.

I lived in Edinburgh for four years, and didn't find that to be the case--I found more concern with US-borne Christianity offshoots, if anything. Then again, I was hanging out with rubes mostly; the case may be otherwise for the well educated.

(I will admit in hindsight, the--at the time refreshing--obsession there with the fate of the Palestinians is probably more to do with fact the Zionists booted Her Majesty from the mandate than concern for human rights.)


It might come as a surprise but Hindus and their practices were a bigger cultural bugbear than Muslims and their practices for colonizing Brits of the 19th century. As Mahmood Mamdani wrote:

Nor was it mere idiosyncrasy that inspired the devotion with which many colonial officers and archivists recorded the details of barbarity among the colonised – sati, the ban on widow marriage or the practice of child marriage in India, or slavery and female genital mutilation in Africa.

British and French have had a profitable relationship with political Islam (as did Ruskies in the 19th and Gringos in the 20th century). Part of the reason why Islamists have averaged around 7-8% of vote over the last 2 generations in Muslim majority countries is the distrust they arouse among common folks for being proxies of London or DC (as in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia which used to be a client of Lawrence and later the likes of Kermit Roosevelt). English Orientalists even patronized some less than salubrious forms of Islamism when they ruled over India:

..the Wahabi Movement in India was bred and nursed by British Power. Documentary proof of this evidence is found in the book "Mukalamatus-Sadrain" in which Moulana Shabir Ahmed Osmani has revealed that the Tableeghi Jamaat was launched with the financial assistance of the British.


Oh yeah, they're all great opportunists, well able to turn on a dime. The US and Israel spent a lot of effort back in the day encouraging Muslim 'fundamentalists' -- a coopful of iron-beaked chickens who have since come home to roost rather spectacularly. Next week the enemy du jour might be somebody else, possibly even a this-week's friend, and the face will still predictably empurple. Those damn... those damn fucking Tadzhiks!

Dawkins is the penultimate Brit: a yippy little chihuahua, in a hand-knitted paisley sweater, sitting in the handbag of America's long-term agenda.

That sad little inbred island exemplifies what will happen to America whenever the hegemon thing falls through.

anon ankle biter:


If they can knit paisley by hand, then 'hats off' to them. They are human history's champion knitters.


Speaking of Paisley, Dawkins is really an Islamophobic variant of the venerable Rev. Paisley who established a nice franchise of communal bigotry in Northern Ireland a while back:

The website of Paisley's public relations arm, the European Institute of Protestant Studies, describes the institute's purpose as to "expound the Bible, expose the Papacy, and to promote, defend and maintain Bible Protestantism in Europe and further afield." Paisley's website describes a number of doctrinal areas in which he believes that the "Roman church" (which he termed Popery) has deviated from the Bible and thus from true Christianity...In 1988, when Pope John Paul II delivered a speech to the European Parliament, Paisley shouted "I denounce you as the Antichrist!" and held up a red poster reading "Pope John Paul II ANTICHRIST" in black letters. John Paul continued with his address after Paisley was ejected from the hemicycle by fellow MEPs...Paisley continued to denounce the Catholic Church and the Pope after the incident. In a television interview for The Unquiet Man, a 2001 documentary on Paisley's life, he expressed his pride at being "the only person to have the courage to denounce the Pope".

It's just that unlike the bully pulpit inhabiting Padre the likes of Dawkins and genocide fantasizing Sam Harris pass off as scientists (Dawkins, unlike the latter did do solid work, but that was in the era of Disco and bell bottoms) having polysyllabic titles such as Evolutionary Biologist and Neuroscientist thereby getting a free pass and a fanbase among nerdy geek types who with the latest recession have seen a dimunition in their love for 'Liberatarianism'.


I kinda admire Paisley for taking on JP II, whom I always loathed. Strangely, I rather like the current Pontifex Maximus, probably because of our shared fondness for eccentric ecclesiastical garb.


"... he expressed his pride at being "the only person to have the courage to denounce the Pope"."

He was forgetting Sinead O' Connor... who did it on Sat. Night Live in 1992. But he probably wouldn't credit that because O' Connor was a Catholic, at least nominally.


I kinda admire Paisley for taking on JP II...

As I recall you also admired the Iranian government at one time even though they named a street after Bobby Sands. Next you'll be telling us of the soft spot you've always had for Margaret Thatcher.

MJS, like this?

You can't enumerate all the paths you didn't take, just the obvious ones. And since the sum diverges, you can feel infinite regret.


Sainty knits and, like Penelope, awaits the homesick husbands of civilization. The torch tapers. Afghans unravel while plying grief remains.

In a dream Baron Verulam's greedy hands gather ice to cool this strutting fowl.

Dawkins, the flotsam of Hobbes, Parson Malthus, Mad Bentham, and Ricardo, adrift with the fit slant of Darwin's second edition...


Paisley wasn't challenging the Pope. He was just another 16th Century throwback, being himself. The Pope has had his leg humped by worthier dogs.

Unlike Paisley, when Sinead O'Connor did it, it wasn't a career-enhancing move.


Oh, I'm still a big fan of the Iranians. As for Maggie T., that's Owen's kink, not mine.


"Sainty knits and, like Penelope, awaits the homesick husbands of civilization."

" The torch tapers.
Afghans unravel while plying grief remains."

"In a dream Baron Verulam's greedy hands gather ice to cool this strutting fowl."

"Dawkins, the flotsam of Hobbes, Parson Malthus, Mad Bentham, and Ricardo, adrift with the fit slant of Darwin's second edition..."


I'm very glad to see somebody take a whack at that vulgar wretch Bacon.


Dawkins jumps the shark and screws the pooch.

reminds me of South Park's, Go God Go.

i'm a devout atheist but i loathe The New Atheists (though i'm no fan of Chris "rebellion without Revolution" Hedges).

condemnant quod non intellegunt.

Post a comment

Note also that comments with three or more links may be held for "moderation" -- a strange term to apply to the ghost in this blog's machine. Seems to be a hard-coded limitation of the blog software, unfortunately.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on Friday June 15, 2012 06:02 PM.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Creative Commons License

This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Powered by
Movable Type 3.31