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Since 2003, the Atheist Alliance International has annually presented the Richard Dawkins Award to “an outstanding atheist whose contributions raise public awareness of the nontheist life stance.” Past recipients of the prize have included James Randi, magicians Penn Jillette and Raymond Teller, and comedian Julia Sweeney. When it was recently revealed that the 2009 Richard Dawkins Award winner will be Bill Maher—political satirist, television host, and director of the 2008 documentary Religulous—ScienceBloggers responded with widely varying views. Orac of Respectful Insolence argues that Maher’s stances on vaccination and animal rights run counter to the goal of advancing scientific knowledge, as the award’s description specifies. But PZ Myers of Pharyngula and Jason Rosenhouse of Evolution Blog defend the decision, contending that Maher’s contribution to the atheist movement deserves recognition.


  1. #1 Gray Gaffer
    July 27, 2009

    “an outstanding atheist whose contributions raise public awareness of the nontheist life stance.”

    Says nothing about scientific literacy, or lack thereof. And Bill Maher is the most prominent atheist by far that the general public sees as an atheist. And he is not shy about expressing his opinions either.

    It is all very nice and tidy to require that ones’ spokespeople for some aspect of your philosophy be perfectly in accord with all other aspects of yours, but hardly realistic. So what if he is on the outer fringe of nuttiness with his opinions on health? This award is not concerned with that. So I wince when he ventures beyond his domains of expertise. On Atheism, he is within his domain. That is what counts, surely.

  2. #2 Jason Brown
    September 27, 2009

    Well, there are 4 criteria for the award and he only meets one of them.

    Please check out:

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