Sunday, August 24, 2008

Dawkins vs. Meadon

So there's a somewhat unseemly spat going on at Richard Dawkins.net occasioned by some criticism of Dawkin's new documentary by Michael Meadon, who earlier took issue with some of the pedagogy in the show. I thought that some of Meadon's remarks where a bit on the bracing side, but left the matter alone mostly because I'd not yet had a chance to see the film and so wasn't qualified to engage. But there's something here that can be remarked on without seeing the film at all. Dawkins responded to Meadon by saying (see the comment thread):
That is a bloody lie. I tried to persuade those children to abandon their belief in CREATIONISM. That is NOT the same as persuading them to become atheists. I was scrupulously careful to do no such thing.

I suspect that you didn't watch the documentary at all, but read one of the critics, such as Libby Purves, and believed her.

Please apologise NOW. As an educator, I feel extremely strongly about this.
Richard
Well, no. At most Dawkins had grounds to believe that according to his view Meadon was incorrect. A justified assertion to the effect that someone is lying requires something else - it requires grounds for believing that they believed what they were asserting to be false, yet asserted it anyway. Dawkins had no such evidence, and although Meadon (who had indeed watched the film) has, on further watching and considering the responses to his original post, retracted some of his claims, last I saw Dawkins was still tiresomely insisting on calling him a liar. Dawkins has no grounds for doing so. Such evidence as is publicly available strongly suggests that Meadon (in general an admirer of Dawkin's work, which he follows enthusiastically through his blog) had absolutely no mendacious intent. At best Dawkins is bullshitting (in the sense of Frankfurt - asserting something for reasons other than concern with truth). I don't see any way to read his response where it doesn't turn out pretty mean, although the discussion continues.

5 comments:

Michael Meadon said...

This Meadon guy sounds like a cunt and a self-aggrandizing git.

Doctor Spurt said...

Steady on, dude. Now when people Google for 'Dawkins' and 'cunt' they're going to end up on my blog. That's one small step away from atheist porn, I tell you.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry about that, Spurt - there's plenty enough documents with those two words already.

Michael Meadon said...

And, because of your comment, now people will find your blog when they search for "atheist porn".

*A lot* of people find my blog that way, by the way. I'm not sure I'm comfortable with dissapointing lots of horny men...

Doctor Spurt said...

Maybe we need an atheist porn carnival of some sort. And how do you know it's men - could be frisky atheist babes for all you know.

"Pound my monkey-hole" and all that.