Richard Dawkins sues Josh Timonen

Wow. Just wow.

I realize that I haven’t exactly been enamored of Richard Dawkins lately, at least not as much as I was, say, three or four years ago. Most of this came about gradually, although the final nail was driven into the proverbial coffin last fall, when Atheist Alliance International bestowed the Richard Dawkins Award to that quacktastic anti-vaccine and anti-science believer in woo and cancer quackery, Bill Maher, an atrocity that I likened to giving Jenny McCarthy an award for public health. Actually, the second to last nail was probably driven in back in May when Richard Dawkins proclaimed that he was “proud to have presented the [AAI] award to Bill Maher.” The true final nail was driven in at TAM8 in July, when in response to questioning by JREF President D.J. Grothe during an interview Richard Dawkins once again defended the choice of Bill Maher and publicly poo-pooed his demonstrably harmful anti-vaccine and anti-“Western” medicine views as not being particularly significant or relevant to that choice.

Game over, as far as I was concerned. Dawkins was toast, at least to me.

Even so, I find it sad to have learned this morning via ERV that Richard Dawkins is suing the forum moderator of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, Josh Timonen, for nearly $1 million embezzled from the Foundation.

Apparently, if Dawkins’ complaint is accurate, these are the sorts of things that the embezzled funds were used for:

Timonen’s “significantly older” girlfriend, defendant Maureen Norton, allegedly used at least $100,000 of the charity’s money to upgrade her Sherman Oaks home before she put it on the market.

A recent real estate listing describes improvements such as a “custom backyard pool and spa area with a wonderful waterfall and glass block fire pit plus custom seating for the ultimate outdoor living and entertaining experience,” according to the complaint.

Dawkins claims Timonen made off with 92 percent of the money generated at the store in 3 years.

Timonen has responded. Although I find his denial self-serving, I do find it odd that there have been no arrests. After all, embezzlement is a criminal offense. If I ran a charitable organization and discovered that an employee had embezzled close to $1 million, I’d have called the police, not the lawyers. Something more than meets the eye appears to be going on here.

In any case, this makes me wonder: What is it about rationalist/skeptic groups that make them seemingly have such a hard time running their organizations well from a financial standpoint? After all, just a couple of months ago the Center for Inquiry (CFI) sent out letters desperately begging for more contributions. The reason was that CFI had one large benefactor whose yearly contribution funded approximately 20-25% of the yearly CFI budget. As clueless as I may be about finances, even I know that you don’t use such donations to run the operating expenses of an organization, because you can’t count on them from year to year and it’s too big a chunk. You use this money for special short-term projects and a rainy day fund. Not surprisingly, when this mysterious donor stopped donating earlier this year, suddently CFI was in deep doo-doo from a financial standpoint, prompting the desperate plea for donations and deep budget cuts. I realize that the down economy has played havoc with many nonprofit and charitable organizations, but these issues with skeptical organizations seem to go beyond just that. Or is this just a problem with nonprofits in general?

Comments

  1. #1 Sigmund
    October 30, 2010

    Amazing Anthony!
    So now YOU are demanding evidence to back a claim!
    Perhaps I should direct you to google – isn’t that what you usually do when asked to substantiate an accusation – it’s certainly what you’ve done throughout this thread.
    Just a piece of advice, if you are ever involved in a thread where you are asking someone to answer your question, its never a good idea to make a creepy remark like your “consider what happened to poor Madeline O’Hair”.

  2. #2 Anthony McCarthy
    October 30, 2010

    Sigmund, I’m asking you to back up your obvious lie. Which anyone with an ability to read and the slightest interest in the truth could see is a lie. So that doesn’t cover a lot of the people on your side.

  3. #3 Seb30
    October 30, 2010

    @ Anthony

    He should count his, uh, blessings. Consider what happened to poor Madeline Murray O’Heir. I kind of miss her.

    You quote the name of an atheist who has been murdered, most likely for being an atheist, and you wonder why people you’ve been arguing with for more than 3 days think you are making death threats?
    I could agree it’s quite a jump, but if your posts were, um, easier to understand, you may be less likely to run into this sort of mis-assumptions. I frankly cannot make sense of your 3 last posts. More likely because I am the one lacking the background, but you are the one who decided to publish your opinion here.
    You know, that people don’t understand what you are saying is not a sign of your intelligence. It’s not that you are stupid either. Just that you are not clear.
    I was 12-y old when I learned this truth. The hard way.

    Seriously, what’s your point about Dawkins, evo-psy, life and the universe? So far, all you have done is resurrect the eternal debate about nature versus nurture, and not in a very clear way. I gathered that, according to you, Dawkins and theories about inherited behaviors are connected, atheists could be mean people, and not everything is encoded by DNA. Well, I agree on the last two (the 1st I have no idea about), but, so what? That’s not news.
    It’s a bit hard to follow what you are arguing about.

  4. #4 Anthony McCarthy
    October 30, 2010

    She and othere were murdered as part of a robbery and revenge by one of her followers who worked for American Atheists.

  5. #5 Anthony McCarthy
    October 30, 2010

    It’s probably futile to post the link but, here.

    http://www.austinchronicle.com/issues/vol18/issue40/pols.athiests.html

    I won’t post the link to something by her estranged son because it is heresay that can’t be verified, though you’ve got to wonder at her taste in employees.

    I did mean it when I said I missed her. She could be funny and was colorful, if bigoted and vulgar. Lots less pretentious than the current crew.

    Break’s over.

  6. #6 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    October 30, 2010

    Anthony McCarthy – Ah, so you were saying that it could be much worse. Someone could have stolen from the foundation AND kidnapped and murdered Richard Dawkins.

    It appears to have been unclear to many that this was the point of your original comment.

    Glad we’ve got that cleared up.

  7. #7 Anthony McCarthy
    October 30, 2010

    M O’B, I said what I said. Though I’m sure by the time you guys get done with it, I’ll have said what I didn’t say. Such is the integrity of fundamentalists of all stripe.

    You know there are some of us who can chew gum and walk at the same time.

  8. #8 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    October 30, 2010

    So just to be clear, what you said was “He should count his, uh, blessings. Consider what happened to poor Madeline Murray O’Heir. I kind of miss her.”

    Lots of things happened to Madalyn Murray O’Hair over the course of her life. The comparison you were trying to make was unclear without a bit more context.

    Suppose you told someone, “Have a good time at the theater. Consider what happened to Abraham Lincoln. I kind of miss him.” Now, the unstated part of that may be “His picture is on the five dollar bill” or “He was born in a log cabin in Kentucky.” On the other hand, you may be referring to the unfortunate incident involving John Wilkes Booth and saying “you could get killed by a secessionist actor.”

    So if someone misconstrues what you say, it might further the conversation if you took a moment to say what you really meant.

    Naturally, this is just a suggestion and you are free to ignore it at your peril.

  9. #9 Anthony McCarthy
    October 30, 2010

    M O’B, you are being silly. Read what the Austin Chronicle said about the one instance and what the post says about the other and if you still don’t get it you might need some help with remedial thinking.

  10. #10 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    October 30, 2010

    AMC – Ah, you’ve decided it’s my fault you’re unclear. Excellent – good persuasive technique. In what way is my summary of your point incorrect?

  11. #11 Anthony McCarthy
    October 30, 2010

    M O’B I’m faulting you for not having the research skills that a lazy 4th grader would have if you put the relevant material one finger click away. I’m not spending any more time coddling lazy Sci-blog dross.

  12. #12 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    October 30, 2010

    Golly, Anthony, I hope you carry that same attitude in your political activities as well. We all need more “Aqua Buddha” ads.

  13. #13 Anthony McCarthy
    October 30, 2010

    So, did you read the Austin Chronicle file?

    Maddy M. O’Hair her son and a grandaughter were done in by one of her crew at American Atheists over money and revenge, not because she was an atheist. Dawkins might have been ripped off by one of his associates, but that’s for a court to decide. I pointed out that Dawkins might have gotten ripped off but he’s still alive. Now, if only the new atheists here had bothered to know that much about the history of recent atheism you boys would not have assumed I meant any more than I said.

    History is a lot more effective in telling you about human affairs than behavior sci.

  14. #14 Seb30
    October 30, 2010

    @ Anthony McCarthy

    OK. Thanks for clarifying your position.
    The quick look I gave into Wikipedia was too quick and I did the wrong inference. Call me stupid if you want. But again, missing context is not helping.
    So you were referring to Dawkins in you post #195? This was really unclear, you were just talking about Jim Lippard, then about the Turing test, and suddenly this ‘count his blessings’ came out of nowhere, without a single mention of the post’s topic.

    So, an atheist could murder another atheist.
    But again, so what?

  15. #15 J. J. Ramsey
    October 30, 2010

    Anthony McCarthy, there’s an XKCD comic that notes, “Communicating badly and then acting smug when you’re misunderstood is not cleverness.”

  16. #16 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    October 30, 2010

    Actually, Anthony, I did read the Austin Chronicle story (indeed, it was where I pulled out the correct spelling of Madalyn Murray O’Hair). I certainly understand the article, and understand what happened to her. What was unclear was what you meant to say by the reference.
    Thanks for clarifying.

  17. #17 Anthony McCarthy
    October 30, 2010

    J.J.R. I wasn’t communicating badly, I assumed dedicated atheists would know the story of her murder. Not expecting them not to, I was curious about finding out about that. If people hadn’t made so much of that stupid Pew survey a few weeks back I probably wouldn’t be curious about it.

    We’ve seen enough of each other in places like this for me to be surprised that you’d think I expect people here to think I’m clever. I’m not even interested in thinking about that, myself.

  18. #18 J. J. Ramsey
    October 30, 2010

    Anthony McCarthy: “I wasn’t communicating badly.”

    You made a vague reference to O’Hair in conjunction with Dawkins. Whether that had to do with her murder or other matters involving her was as clear as mud. Indeed, what all this stuff about genetic drift and evo-psy has to do with this thread is beyond me.

  19. #19 Anthony McCarthy
    October 31, 2010

    JJR. I didn’t mention genetic drift or even allude to it, though I could have if I’d thought it was relevant. Dawkins’ citation of a mention of it raised a couple of interesting issues but I left that for now. I only alluded to evo-psy in response to someone else who compared Dawkins to Sagan, Bronowski and Feynman. I only pointed out that the comparison had problems since both Dawkins and Sagans’ communications largely dealt in speculations on the fringes of science and not science. Of course, in the case of Sagan I meant “exobiology (about which we, actually, know absolutely nothing since we have absolutely no physical evidence of even one, single, organism of “other life”. And Dawkins speculations about life here isn’t based in physical evidence but in speculations about the forever lost behavior of unknown populations of our own species the extinct species of our ancestors. Since one of the new atheist-“skeptics” started complaining early in the process that my comments were long enough to tax their abilities, to no objection by the self appointed defenders of science, I don’t see how going into more detail would have helped. You see, I’m used to people knowing things about what they’re talking about and if they don’t know to look things up, especially if convenient links are provided.

    It’s generally my assumption that the people who get into these discussions are adults, many of whom have finished high school, some of whom have finished college. I might be naive but by the time I’d finished high school I had been taught that if you don’t understand something because you didn’t know enough about it and you tried to find out more. We used to have to use a card catalog with actual cards, no automatic links (though there were tracings) and looking at indexes in actual books, etc. When hypertext links and automated search came in it seemed like no work at all to check for RELIABLE sources of information. But I guess that its being as simple as could be doesn’t mean that people understand those lost arts.

    I mentioned my fascination about Dawkins’ fans in this discussion quite literally not knowing the first thing about his claim to fame, though I’ll bet many of them skimmed his God Delusion. Which had its problems with the scholastic arts, as well. In fact I revealed my motives in not getting into a “skeptics” style quote duel in favor of trying to knock information about that ignorance loose, well before this twist about the embezzlement and the murder of O’Hair and the others. When I was surprised to find out that the Brights here were in the dark about that as well and when they started flying off the handle, irrationally and baselessly saying I’d made death threats, I wasn’t in the mood to spoon feed it to them.

    There are some very basic problems with your movement, one of those is many of its most ardent followers are pig ignorant. If you think I’m going to pass up the opportunities that presents, I’m not under any obligation to do so. Not when you boys are always going on about how clever your kind are.

  20. #20 Rrr
    October 31, 2010

    @Mr McCarthy:

    There are some very basic problems with your movement, one of those is many of its most ardent followers are pig ignorant. If you think I’m going to pass up the opportunities that presents, I’m not under any obligation to do so. Not when you boys are always going on about how clever your kind are.

    Oh the irony. I seem to recall you claimed to be altogether too busy with some election campaign work to be able to post much at all in this discussion, yet here you are a hundred posts and almost a week later, only days before those ballots are cast if my understanding is correct — and this is still the best of all your “final” arguments? With all those long words and precious time invested, you didn’t find it prurient to distill your points succinctly and save everyone (including yourself) a lot of bother, enabling them to do something more important, instead of going on in endless running paragraphs about how it is incumbent upon everyone else to divine what you actually mean and do the research necessary for that inspired elucidation?

    If this is how your political campaigning is done, maybe it would be better for you to work for the opposition instead?

    Or is that what you have been doing here all along?

  21. #21 Anthony McCarthy
    October 31, 2010

    Rrr, I posted a number of links. I didn’t do that because the color contrast was interesting to look at.

    I’m becoming interested in the idea that what I’ve said is impeached because it’s not simple enough to fit into tweets. I’m unaware of a rule of logic, even in the abbreviated “skeptical”/ new atheist rules of logic, which says that the favorite whine of modern undergrads, “but that’s hard” constitutes a valid refutation. Though it might be fun to follow up on. Back in my day no self-respecting, first week Freshman would have made that plainte.

  22. #22 Freki
    October 31, 2010

    I’m becoming interested in the idea that what I’ve said is impeached because it’s not simple enough to fit into tweets.

    The complaint is that everything you’ve said IS simple enough to fit into tweets, but you are padding it like a 10th grader’s 500 word essay.

  23. #23 Anthony McCarthy
    October 31, 2010

    Freki, translate what I’ve said here into tweets Show us how it’s done.

  24. #24 Rrr
    October 31, 2010

    Because links are SO much easier than to state succinctly what you want to say.

  25. #25 Anthony McCarthy
    October 31, 2010

    Because links are SO much easier than to state succinctly what you want to say.
    Posted by: Rrr

    Are you 12?

  26. #26 Anthony McCarthy
    October 31, 2010

    Freki, translate what I’ve said here into tweets Show us how it’s done. 8:18

    Freki: *crickets*

  27. #27 llewelly
    October 31, 2010

    Anthony McCarthy | October 29, 2010 5:24 PM:

    Consider what happened to poor Madeline Murray O’Heir. [O’Hair, I presume] I kind of miss her.

    Bad analogy, used to construct an argument from consequences.

  28. #28 Freki
    October 31, 2010

    Just as soon as you provide any evidence for your various assertions, Anthony.

    *celery growing*

  29. #29 Anthony McCarthy
    October 31, 2010

    llewelly, I wasn’t making an argument for anything at that point except that Dawkins’ alleged embezzlement could have been worse. Anyone who could fail to see the two examples of embezzlement by employees of atheist non-profits, by the respective “most famous atheists” of their time, as analogous for that purpose would fail to see anything.

    “Bad analogy, used to construct an argument from consequences.”

    I wonder if anyone might collect this kind of stuff and issue a book of fractured logic.

  30. #30 Anthony McCarthy
    October 31, 2010

    I’m off for the afternoon here, so snark away. No links to lectures and articles because you boys don’t like hard and long stuff.

  31. #31 Rrr
    October 31, 2010

    I wonder if anyone might collect this kind of stuff and issue a book of fractured logic.

    Great idea, Anthony. You might begin by sourcing yourself for examples… But dont put aside your career in immensely important political work just yet — rather, you should continue to spout those biting, convincing one-liner soundbites that you do so well. I always said that links fit absolutely fantastically on placards, bumper stickers and cocards. Not to mention bullhorns.

    No links to lectures and articles because you boys don’t like hard and long stuff.

    “Indicate precisely what you mean to say. Yours sincerely, wasting away” /Beatles (No link, awfully sorry)

  32. #32 Anthony McCarthy
    October 31, 2010

    I’ve got my laptop with me and there’s a lull so, almost at random:

    Sociopaths are by definition selfish people. The phenomena of selfish and altruistic behaviors are of special interest in clarifying the sociobiological research program, because one’s first impression of how natural selection works is that it “helps those who help themselves.” Richard Dawkins (1976) introduced sociobiology with his infamous metaphor of ‘the selfish gene,’ which appeared to be a genetic gloss on ‘the selfish individual’ (see also Williams, 1966, for an early development of ‘genic selectionism’). This concept has continued to be a cornerstone of the field.

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/sociobiology/

    Richard Dawkins’s ideas, and those of other sociobiologists, then, provoke extreme reactions and misunderstanding because their critics believe them to be in conflict with the moral and political commitments that they hold.

    http://www.jeremystangroom.com/about/

    Well-known sociobiologists:

    * Edward Osborne Wilson
    * Richard Dawkins
    References

    * “Sociobiology: The New Synthesis” by Dr. Edward Wilson;
    * “The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature” by Steven Pinker
    * “The Selfish Gene” by Richard Dawkins

    http://www.wordiq.com/definition/Sociobiology

    A year later, in England, the science of sociobiology was given a further boost by the publication of a more popular‐directed work: The Selfish Gene, by biologist Richard Dawkins. Making his points succinctly through new metaphors, Dawkins backs Wilson’s general approach, arguing that social behavior is a direct function of selection. However, Dawkins shows more sympathy for cultural elements than does Wilson. At the end of his work, Dawkins introduces the very notion of a meme as a unit of cultural information that functions analogously to a gene. Whereas Wilson argues that human behavior (including human thought) is very much a product of direct biological factors, Dawkins, although no less a stalwart Darwinian, argues that in the human realm we find near‐autonomous processes that stand, as it were, on but above the purely biological.

    http://psychology.jrank.org/pages/2171/sociobiology.html

    But evolutionary psychology (an offshoot of sociobiology) really got rolling in the mid-1970s with E. O. Wilson’s “Sociobiology” and Richard Dawkins’ “The Selfish Gene.” In no time works of pop sociobiology made these already accessible works even more accessible.

    http://www.salon.com/books/it/1999/05/21/evolution/print.html

    [Susan McCarthy is no relation to me.]

  33. #33 Anthony McCarthy
    October 31, 2010

    Dawkins’ expertise as a young scientist and more recently as an explicator of evolutionary psychology so lucid that he occupies the Charles Simonyi professorship for the public understanding of science at Oxford University.

    http://richarddawkins.net/articles/4047

    I’ve got to get back to work, but if that longer list of citations gets out of moderation, I’ve got tons more. Notice this one is from Dawkins’ own website, in a debate between him and Francis Collins. You’d think he or his people would have corrected it.

    I do, however, seem to notice that just as “Sociobiology” was eclipsed as it became more controversial, that “evolutionary psychology” seems to be rather scarcer as time goes on in this record.

  34. #34 Anthony McCarthy
    October 31, 2010

    Still stuck in moderation, I see.

    Catch the adaptive stories.

  35. #35 ildi
    October 31, 2010

    So, as far as I can tell, Anthony’s main points are:

    Atheism is a tool for destroying decent morality and society.

    Evolutionary psychology is a tool for destroying decent government and science.

    Richard Dawkins is doubly a tool for being an atheist and popularizing evolutionary psychology.

    Francis Collins, however, is a good scientist because he loves God and hates evolutionary psychology.

    For those of you who find Anthony’s turgid opaque prose difficult to wade through, Massimo Pigliucci has an excellent podcast (25 minutes) of the problems facing evolutionary psychology:

    You’ve heard the claims: men are inclined to cheat on women because natural selection favors multiple offspring from multiple mates, especially if you don’t have to pay child support. Even rape has been suggested to be the result of natural selection in favor of “secondary mating strategies” when the primary ones fail. Welcome to evolutionary psychology, a discipline curiously situated at the interface between evolutionary science and pop psychology, where both wild and reasonable claims seem to clash against the wall of an incredible scarcity of pertinent data.

    The issue is not whether it makes sense to apply evolutionary principles to the study of human behavior. Of course it does, human beings are no exception to evolution. But the devil is in the details, and the details deal with the complexities and nuances of how exactly evolutionary biologists test adaptive hypotheses, as well as with the nature of historical science itself.

    The Stevens Institute of Technology’s Center for Science Writings gives the distinction of popularizing evolutionary psychology to Steven Pinker in their list of Stevens 70 Greatest Science Books :

    Dawkins, Richard, The Selfish Gene. Oxford University Press, 1976.
    In the most original and influential of his many books, Darwin’s icily eloquent defender and extender introduces the theory of selfish genes, which remains as compelling and disturbing as ever. Dawkins’s biggest flaw is his haughtiness; his sentences all seem implicitly prefaced with the phrase, “As any fool can see…”

    and

    Pinker, Steven, How the Mind Works. Norton, 1997.
    Thank God most scientists can’t write as well as Pinker, or we journalists would be out of jobs. Pinker popularized evolutionary psychology with this bestseller, which describes the mind as a grab-bag of adaptations designed by natural selection. But can you really know how the mind works without knowing how the brain works?

  36. #36 Anthony McCarthy
    October 31, 2010

    ildi, I see you’re able to come up with some explanatory fables too. Only, they don’t explain anything about what I said.

    Now, why don’t you address what was said instead of what you wish I had said because you’ve got some prefab answers to them.

    Stephen Pinker, gee, most of the scientists I’ve ever known who’ve talked about him, including one or two rather sarcastic atheists, aren’t impressed. But I’m not going to get into the guy with the hair in this thread.

  37. #37 Rrr
    October 31, 2010

    Hey Tony, don’t you have some very important election to promote, like you said? FYI, I am not eligible to vote in that one. To put it succinctly, like, that means it’s not mainly MY valuable time you have been wasting for the last week or so. Mmkay?

    Aww, so sowwy, maybe you don’t even have a proper job to look after? Nevermind voluntarily putting the Sabot into teh Cogs of Demoncrazy, eh? Well, a “man”‘s gotta do etc.

    Actually, you were quite thoroughly debunked a while ago by folks much smarter than you’n’me, in my humble opinion. So, what’s your next move — a whiff of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds? /Beatles

  38. #38 ildi
    October 31, 2010

    Now, why don’t you address what was said instead of what you wish I had said

    Like these gems?

    I had been aware of the popularity of evidence free science among the “skeptics” and the new atheists but it wasn’t until I’d read Hawking’s latest stuff that I came to realize that it was ubiquitous. I’d known that much of the orthodoxy around cog-sci and behavioral sci constituted a kind of materialism in the gaps but I hadn’t realized how serious that problem was until just a few weeks back. I think it’s a real danger to the integrity of science and a danger to democratic politics. I’m also beginning to understand why so many of the popular figures of those fads turn out to be right wing libertarian crackpots. It’s a deeply anti-intellectual movement, in contradiction to its claims.

    don’t believe that the new atheist blog clique say, they seem to be about as bad at reading comprehension as they are with science.

    You don’t mean that the mighty Brite are above little things like accurate and honest attribution, I hope, because being an atheist doesn’t mean you get to make it up to suit you. Though an honest representation of reality does seem to be a novel concept to most of the new ones I’ve encountered.

    The reference is to a song by the group tlc. I think SC recently saw the film “The Other Guys”.
    In other words, what’s held in new atheist circles to be the higher learning.

    I generally think of new atheists with gender neutral pseudonyms as boys because most of them are and I usually figure women are less prone to frat style behavior.

    I’ve had the impression for a long time that it’s one of the dirty secrets of the new atheism that a lot of the physical scientists regard evo-psy as a pseudo-science but are afraid to say so out loud.

  39. #39 Anthony McCarthy
    October 31, 2010

    Rrr, which point was debunked? That Richard Dawkins isn’t a figure in evo-psy/Sociobiology, because as his own website and his own YouTube channel show, that would seem to be news to him. The stuff about O’Hair’s murder? Because once I spoonfed the facts I’d linked to, that seems to have evaporated as a line of attack.

    The Beatles, give me a break. I’ve never owned one of their records and I’m their age. Besides, I thought it was Pinker who was supposed to be the groovy one.

    Richard Dawkins must be kind of dispirited if he’s aware of this thread, his adoring fans seem to be unfamiliar with his career in science and seem to want to get him away from his positions, despite hearing it in his own words. Apparently it’s a Just-so version of Richard Dawkins that they want so, so much to believe in instead of the real thing. Which should tell us a lesson about the gap between reality and desired reality. And that’s with abundant evidence that can be, not only observed but also articulated from the horses’ mouth. It’s quite possible to create an extended scenario that is way off. Unobserved behavior is so prone to achieving deceptive results, especially when the wider context, the constructed habitat, if you will, is also unavailable for close observation.

  40. #40 Anthony McCarthy
    October 31, 2010

    I could go on forever answering this silly stuff, I think I’ll just go do something useful. Though it’s been fun and I’ve learned three startling things I hadn’t known before.

  41. #41 Nibi
    October 31, 2010

    Anthony McCarthy writes:

    I could go on forever …

    Finally, a claim supported by evidence.

  42. #42 Anthony McCarthy
    November 1, 2010

    I’ll give Nibi as just one example of how the Bright boys are too lazy and/or ignorant to see and/or understand evidence when you put it right under their nose @232-234, even after you explain your rhetorical strategy of not giving that evidence, so abundantly available it’s amazing that Scienceblog readers haven’t run across it before, was to get an idea of how extensive the Brights ignorance was, twice, and the extent to which Scienceblog readers/owners who were aware of it – and I know many are – seem to be intimidated in informing their fans of that evidence.

    The news that not only the most famous current atheist- fundamentalist is largely unknown to what appears to be a significant part of their fan base, who also don’t seem to be curious to know why he’s famous, but that the immediate former, most famous atheist in the world as well seems to be largely unknown to them is also interesting. In the assertion that MMO was killed “because she was an atheist”, when she was rather infamously killed by an atheist in her employ and the obviously constructed version of a mythical character called “Richard Dawkins” who didn’t have the real ones career in science, maybe we see some of the dangers of telling stories in the absence of facts. Sort of like those somewhat tacit tales of pre-historic adaptation that the real Dawkins spun before an audience on that last You-Tube. Only I’d expect that the real Richard Dawkins is smarter than his fans and would make reference to the available historical record which any potential critic could also see.

    There, I think I’ve explained myself, though I’m sure the fan boys won’t bother to find that out and will keep on spinning those stories Just-so they can maintain their ignorance.

  43. #43 Anthony McCarthy
    November 1, 2010

    Oh, and, in a probably futile attempt at cutting them off at the pass, maintaining that the meta-adaptive tale of our pre-historic ancestors isn’t behind that string of bigotry in that last YouTube will only be evidence of the fundamental ignorance of so many of the fan boys of what evolution is. Some of them seem to be unaware that it didn’t begin with someone called Darwin but, actually, is about the actual living beings in the vast, pre-historic past. For so many of them it’s more in the nature of being a sports team supporter than it is in actually knowing much about it. But that’s for another blog brawl.
    So much of evo-psy and its practices have seeped into our thinking and those tales are so well entrenched that they go unsaid, though they are an intrinsic part of the logic of those adaptive fables. So much so that even Gould, on one occasion that I know of, lapsed into its near use, though H Allen Orr noticed it and called him on it in his review.

    http://bostonreview.net/BR24.5/orr.html

  44. #44 Sigmund
    November 1, 2010

    Although I originally only said it as a joke, I think the ‘bad Turing Test’ is probably the most logical explanation for the waffling stream of non-sequiturness that signs itself as Anthony McCarthy.
    Even if it isn’t really just a bot replaying nearly random twaddle upon picking up on certain key words I think we may have stumbled upon an algorithm for beating the notorious test. Instead of having a program that tries to reply with a seemingly intelligent and relevant answer to the Turing tester, perhaps we should design a program that answers back as a messageboard lunatic! Posting links that have either nothing to do with the point at hand or that directly refute what the program claims they prove, throwing random insults at all who try to engage the points at hand, claiming it is far too busy with important things to give a detailed reply and telling the questioner to simply use google. I think it would work!
    Thank you Anthony, you might finally have done some good for science.

  45. #45 Anthony McCarthy
    November 1, 2010

    Lazy Sigmund. Clearly you didn’t read that article pointing out problems with the Turning test, one of which was that neither the computers or the testers could handle issues of complexity in a wider context. NAs are often more of like an Eliza bot, as I used to tell one over in the Discovery blogs.

    I suppose, in keeping with “skeptical”/NA norms of rhetorical discourse I’m supposed to add a vulgar equivalent of, “So there!”

  46. #46 Josh Timonen
    July 17, 2011

    It seems interest in this case has died out here, but I wanted to alert readers to my new blog post about some new developments:

    THE DOG ATE MY HOMEWORK? DAWKINS AND FOUNDATION CLAIM THAT DOCUMENTS THAT SUPPORT THEIR CASE WERE “LOST FOREVER”

    http://joshtimonen.com/post/7749335533/the-dog-ate-my-homework-dawkins-and-foundation-claim

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