Amusing Stupidity From DaveScot

William Dembski’s lead blogflak DaveScot has stepped in it even more badly than usual. Commenting on Richard Dawkins’ recent appearance on Bill Maher’s show the other night, he writes:

I watched Dawkins on the Bill Maher show last night. Among other interesting things he said was when it comes to belief in gods if you were to rate his belief on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being most belief and 10 being least he puts himself at a 6. Then he compares belief in gods with belief in fairies and pink unicorns. So I guess he’s conflicted about those too. Bill Maher then ridiculed religion in predictable trite ways which caused Dawkins to reconsider the belief rating and up it to “6 point 9”. Hilarious. Richard Dawkins is really a centrist on religious beliefs. Who’da thunk?

Too bad Bill Maher didn’t ask Richard Dawkins to rate his belief in the existence of material intelligent agents who can alter the course of evolution by tinkering with the DNA of living organisms. Personally I put that “belief” at a 1 (no doubt) unless someone convinces me that Craig Venter doesn’t really exist.

Ahem. Dawkins, of course, ranked his level of belief as a six out of seven, not ten.

The idea that anyone remotely familiar with Dawkins’ view of things could think he ranks his belief in God at a six out of a possible ten is rather amusing. But if you’re going to be snotty about it, you really ought to make sure you get your facts right.

As Dawkins himself once wrote, in response to a critical review of The Selfish Gene written by someone who plainly had made no attempt to glean its point:

Indeed, we are in danger of assuming that nobody would dare to be so rude without taking the elementary precaution of being right in what she said.

As for the interview itself, well worth the six and a half minute investment. It’s mostly the usual talking points, and I think he’s a bit unfair to Francis Collins, but listening to Dawkins and Maher is always good for the soul. (Well, usually good for the soul in Maher’s case…)

Update: 5:28 pm: DaveScot has added a correction to his post acknowledging his error.


  1. #1 J-Dof
    April 14, 2008

    Yeah.. If Maher weren’t such a knucklehead about vaccines, he’d be more believable.

    I wish I could be an atheist about DaveScot, but unfortunately, the probability of there being an autodidact chubby bully that wears too tight pink shirts in TX is 100%

  2. #2 Aaron Golas
    April 14, 2008

    *sigh* I guess I really should watch that interview. I really can’t stomach Maher anymore, but I might make an exception for Dawkins’ sake.

    Comment #6 on UD: “congregate is right: Dawkins very definitely put himself at a six on a 1-to-7 scale . . . . I think DaveScot should delete or revise this post before the Darwinist bloggers have a field day with it.”


  3. #3 Orac
    April 14, 2008

    Well, usually good for the soul in Maher’s case..

    Scratch “usually.” The guy is such a moron on vaccines, not to mention that he’s a germ theory denialist (really), that listening to him pontificate on anything other than his “New Rules” segment (which is funny reasonably often) causes me to clench my teeth. The guy is proof positive that atheism is no guarantee of rationality. Worst of all, he’s pompous and smug about his idiocy. Oh, and the guy is also a big time PETA supporter as well.

    No, I can’t tolerate Maher anymore.

  4. #4 Jason Rosenhouse
    April 14, 2008


    Boy, Maher really gets under your skin doesn’t he? The items you list are a very small portion of what he discusses on his show, which is usually about politics and current events. On those subjects I find him consistently excellent.

  5. #5 rpenner
    April 14, 2008

    Say it ain’t so, Dave Scot!

    Oh wait — he did. That hurts my worldview.

  6. #6 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    April 14, 2008

    I just went to the site, and DaveScot has corrected his error. One commenter suggested that he delete the entire post before the “darwinists” have a field day with it.

    With the error fixed, it looks even more stupid.

  7. #7 Leni
    April 14, 2008

    More street theater. Neat!

    Maher has said a lot of things I agree with, but that vaccine thing really gets under my skin too. I just have a hard time respecting someone who thinks something so obviously false. And since the ramifications are potentially very serious it’s not something I can easily blow off.

  8. #8 Jason Rosenhouse
    April 14, 2008


    Note that I added an update mentioning DaveScot’s correction.

  9. #9 JimCH
    April 14, 2008

    I must agree with J-Dof & Leni. As soon as Maher leaves politics I hold my breath. In the same episode as the one with Dawkins, he said, regarding the incident in Florida where some high-schoolers kid-napped another student & filmed themselves beating her, “that we don’t know that she didn’t deserve it” & that “we should let kids just be kids”. Jason Alexander, another guest on the episode, rightly stated that Maher really is just one step from madness.

  10. #10 J. J. Ramsey
    April 14, 2008

    Orac: “Boy, Maher really gets under your skin doesn’t he? The items you list are a very small portion of what he discusses on his show”

    True, but considering that this small portion concerns topics near and dear to Orac, his reaction is pretty understandable. Imagine what you’d think of Maher if he were as aggressively ignorant about evolution as he is about medicine. Heck, Maher got on my bad side with the “kids will be kids” idiocy that JimCH mentioned. That got me mad enough to yell “B*lls**t!” at the screen, and I generally don’t do that.

  11. #11 Biochemist
    April 14, 2008

    Also this scale was something Bill Mahar brought up because it was established by Dawkins IN THE BOOK?

    I mean, I’m not surprise that this guy hasn’t read the book, but wouldn’t it be nice if he did?

    I’m also not sure I generally like the phrase ‘discovered the human genome.’ They sequenced it alright, but we knew already that there was a genome there. The idea of genomes has been around for almost ninety years, there were a number of genomes sequenced before the human genome project. It just doesn’t seem like quite the right word to me.

  12. #12 JimCH
    April 14, 2008

    Dawkins corrected Mahar on the “Francis Collins discovered the genome” misstatement.

  13. #13 Biochemist
    April 14, 2008

    Yes, he corrected him that Collins didn’t discover the human genome, but rather that he was the head of the operation that did discover it. I’m just saying I don’t like the word “discover” for this sort of thing, that’s all.

  14. #14 Sigmund
    April 15, 2008

    I think Maher is completely wrong regarding Francis Collins believing the garden of Eden story. Collins does seem to believe the miracles of Jesus, which is bad enough I suppose for a supposedly rational scientist, but I certainly wouldn’t put him down as being a young earth creationist.

  15. #15 JimCH
    April 15, 2008

    Maher said that the Garden of Eden belief was a quote in an interview with him. In other words, it isn’t from a second hand source. If it happened it should easily be verifiable (assuming that it happened in some public arena, presumably Maher’s show), or Maher is a liar.

  16. #16 Jason Rosenhouse
    April 15, 2008

    Maybe I’m just watching Maher at the wrong times. The only time I see his show is if I happen to be in a hotel room with HBO, or if I seek out a YouTube clip as I did here. Sometimes he turns up on Larry King or Hardball or shows like that, but then he mearly always talks about politics and, as I said, I find him funny and insightful on that subject.

  17. #17 QrazyQat
    April 16, 2008

    Yeah, it’s just that on medical matters Maher’s a complete nutcase.

  18. #18 James F
    April 16, 2008

    Dawkins taking Maher at his word about Collins believing the “snake story” was offsides. Collins is anti-creationism and anti-ID. Very disappointing, I’m guessing Maher’s memory was off. I’d like to see a few friendly emails to smooth it over and maybe a post at Aside from that, good interview.

  19. #19 jre
    April 29, 2008

    A two-week old thread, ah, but what the heck.
    I am pleased to see that the DaveScot discussion turned into a Bill Maher discussion, because Maher is more interesting — and vastly more influential — than an obscure pinheaded moderator of a creationist blog.
    I have gone back and forth on Maher, but I am settling into the view that he is more annoying than funny.
    The same ferocity of wit that makes his attacks on Bushies, fundies, etc. so savagely hilarious starts to look like arrogant, childish bombast when it is directed against an innocent crime victim, or “Western Medicine.”
    Maybe it depends largely on whether it’s my ox that is being gored.
    I had much the same reaction when Scott Adams started talking out of his ass on evolution, and now I can’t enjoy Dilbert the way I used to.
    Anyway, that’s my first comment on your blog; take it as you will. For what it’s worth, I really liked your paper on Sewell.

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