Why doesn’t Richard Dawkins ever debunk US militarism, trickle-down economics, or corporate media propaganda?
By E.F Nicholson
In 2007, evolutionary biologist and celebrity atheist, Richard Dawkins, produced and wrote a two-part television documentary, The Enemies of Reason, in which he claims to expose “those areas of belief that exist without scientific proof, yet manage to hold the nation under their spell”, including mediums, acupuncture, and psychokinesis.
The show represented Dawkins’ debunking polemic, where he stridently takes on the role of slayer of the unreasoned. To the guests’ credit, Deepak Chopra and psychic medium, Craig Hamilton, particularly held up reasonably well when questioned with such hostility and contempt. One assumes they weren’t told the show was called “Enemies of Reason” for obvious reasons. Maybe Dawkins would have preferred to have called it “Me, a very smart person, talking with very stupid people,” which would have better captured the spirit of the show’s intent.
Since the religion of new atheism was born, Dawkins and his cohort of celebrity atheists such as Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, Ricky Gervais, Bill Mahler, etc. all seemed to be united in exactly what were the biggest and dangerous threats to reason and therefore the biggest threats to humanity’s survival and happiness, namely religion, psychics, and practitioners of alternative medicine—possibly in that order.
Yet, there also appears to be uniformity within the new atheist movement: those super-powers of reason and the scientific method for uncovering lies and fraud don’t ever fall under their scrutiny, namely the areas of society’s woes where the biggest lies, swindles, and deceptions have the most negative and destructive impact, such is propaganda, politics, and economic and social injustice.
Maybe I have missed it but I have yet to see Dawkins or his ilk debate, write a book, or produce a TV series debunking the lie of “trickle-down economics”, where rich people and corporations are given huge tax breaks that will result in more jobs and prosperity for society as whole. Even though the reality is these mistruths are laid bare in the massive growth of income and wealth inequality through the US and the UK, where it’s been most practiced, it’s still a lie that gets peddled continually. Unlike homeopathy, this lie devastates many people’s lives.
Also absent from their microscope of truth is how western corporate media operates as an instrument of established power and is not “objective” or “neutral”; rather, it constantly shapes, crafts and molds public opinion for the service of state and corporate power. Using Chomsky and Herman’s seminal work, “Manufacturing Consent”, that outlines how the propaganda model works, they could debunk that myth of objective news that has such a distortive and destructive impact on society and explains how and why we end up consenting to so much that is wrong and why people actively vote against their best interests.
What about the “long con”, that when it comes to foreign invasions and wars, we are there because we are the “good guys” and we want to help spread democracy? This myth and mistruth has caused so much instability, death, and destruction on such a massive scale. Surely, this is more important than exposing a Reiki practitioner for being deluded or a born-again Christian who thinks Noah’s ark was real.
I could list even more lies we are sold surrounding capitalism, materialism, global warming, neo-liberalism, the nature of debt, globalisation, racial inequality, sexism and objectification, and so on. These are all issues involving enormous amounts of money and energy that go into upholding their mistruths to detriment of millions of people. As scientists, surely they should grade the lies to debunk against a scale denoting which lies cause the most damage.
Yet, what we see in those who claim to be the most reasoned and cool headed about promoting the truth are their own beliefs and prejudices of what truths are worthy of promotion and what lies are deemed necessary for debunking. There is no doubt Richard Dawkins is an intelligent man with a sharp mind. It’s just shame it goes to waste on problems that should be way down the list of what is most pressing when it comes to the issues humanity is facing. That is the problem of promoting oneself when one feels one is the king of rationality or the enemy of the irrational; your actions and words should live up that image but in reality they don’t. As its evident, the new atheists have very particular irrational targets for their scorn and derision—targets I would considered irrational given their non-importance and irrelevance in most people’s lives.
An obvious example is the energy Dawkins directs to exposing Islam as a supposed religion of violence. Yet, when we look at the US political religion of capitalism and neo-liberalism, its veneration for militarism, combined with the fervent worship of profit at any cost, we see the evidence of decimation and destruction far outweigh the negative impact of radical Islam. Nations and their citizens must bow at the American altar or be invaded and bombed or banished with economic sanctions. The wars, coups, propping up of tyrants, the force of debt peonage, invasions, drone assassinations, bombing, all in the name of the US god of economic interest, has left in its wake over 20 million dead civilians and millions more trapped in lives of desperation and despair. It also conveniently and irrationally ignores how US foreign policy helped facilitate and grow the very radical Islam the new atheists so zealously detest.
Yet, like most of us, what we see in others we fail to see in ourselves. Richard Dawkins sadly just further contributes to the milieu of lies we live with, by taking people’s attention away from what matters to what does doesn’t, making him, in fact, his own enemy of reason.
Worth a watch: Rupert Sheldrake explains how he avoided getting duped into appearing on Dawkins “The Enemies of Reason”
5 thoughts on “Why doesn’t Richard Dawkins ever debunk US militarism, trickle-down economics, or corporate media propaganda?”
Um, what a strange article. Wonder why he criticized Dawkins for not addressing trickle down economics? First of all, Atheism is not a religion, the clue is in the title. Theism – the belief in a god or gods, A-theism the rejection of those claims or no belief in a god or gods. Further, Dawkins is an anti-theist, someone that stands against religion.
Second, Dawkins is a biologist, not an economist or a physicist or a politician, I’m sure he has opinions on these, but he tends to address the areas he is an expert in. Medicine is one of those and so is biology. Might as well go to a computer engineer and ask him why he didn’t lecture on obesity if he finds computer hacking such a problem. I’m sure the computer engineer has an opinion on obesity, but why the fuck would you ask him that?
Dawkins is not addressing the problems he may think are the most pressing in the world (probably overpopulation) He is addressing the issues he has researched and is an expert in.
Instead of wasting his time putting down Dawkins for not addressing government corruption or trickle down economics, this dipshit should have taken the time to research those topics and written an article on it. Doesn’t really surprise me though, he was too lazy to even ask an atheist what that label means to them.
Hi Phillip, Thanks for you feedback, its “dipshit” here and I thought I would reply. In principle I agree with you, in the sense that I haven’t written this about other scientists for the very reason you state. If Dawkins remained solely with his field of science I wouldn’t expect him to critique economic theory, yet the reality is he doesn’t. He wades into politics and religion frequently from the Iraq war, feminism but in particular in his attacks on Islam. So that being the case he make himself open to be question why his attack remained limited to that and not other subjects. “He is addressing the issues he has researched and is an expert in.” This is patently false. He is not a religious scholar or expert in religion, yet he constantly lambasting it. Which fine but doing so you can argue why doesn’t he use his laser sharp mind to deride far more damaging societal structures that just this.
Dawkins has done a fair amount of research into religion. Mostly because he opposes it in education, specifically when it tries to insert itself into scientific education. He may not have a doctorate in it, but he has done the work. He has established a foundation that tries to promote science and secularism so he probably knows his stuff. Enough so that he has debated some of the prominent theist scholars. If your claim is that he is not an expert in religion, I would ask you to go and do some research. Even if I granted you that he does not know much about the study of theology, I would certainly be cautious about calling him ignorant on religion. Not all experts come with degrees attached to their names.
Because he is a celebrity, he has also given his views on a variety of subjects. His opinion on government activity outside education is likely very shallow though and so he doesn’t address it much. Are you suggesting he should apply his intellect to every topic some reporter thinks is pressing? He has decided education and scientific inquiry is the most important pursuit in stamping out the bullshit in society and government.
Think about it, would it be better to oppose government directly, or bring up a generation that can apply logic and reason when selecting their leaders or discerning media lies? It’s that or create another generation that believes God put president trump in power and so making the super wealthy more rich must be Gods intention.
I enjoy the veil of ignorance exercise. I want a world where I could be born and be happy, regardless of gender, orientation, religion, race, class, country. Islamic nations and people are by far the worst in this exercise though. The most bigoted, (see throwing gays off rooves) most sexist (see stoning adulterous women, needing 2 women in court to equal 1 man) most fundamentalist, (bombing, twin towers, inserting creationism in school, take your pick, I’m not about to list them all.)
I am an anti-theist, religion can go fuck itself, but as far as I’m concerned, Islam outstrips all the others by orders of magnitude. You want the world to change? Start by making it illegal to teach religion to any child before the age of reason. The age, by the way, many Muslim girls are already long married, justified by their Islamic doctrine.
I don’t dislike you though. Happy to have a conversation in email. I think you’re ignorant on this topic, but I think everyone is ignorant on most topics. My first response was cut and paste from my Facebook reply to my aunt, thus the profanity. But if you want real profanity, ask me to discuss Islam. Fair warning though, I am irreverent if you are religious. Born and reside in South Africa if you thought I was raised in a cushy first world country.
Firstly it was you who claimed that he only stays within his field of expertise, so why should he be expected to have opinions outside of that field of expertise. You are now back-tracking of that line of logic as it obviously false. I’m not claiming he needs to have PhD to have an informed opinion on any subject, including religion but you seem to be missing the logic of my argument. He has chosen to focus on debunking psychics, homeopaths and religion, with Islam in particular because as far as he is concerned they dangerous and harmful to society. So that being the case if he going to determine what subject he goes after , outside of his field of expertise, then surely you would thinking being the logical guy he would choose to debunk the lies which cause the most harm. Are you following , or have a I lost you?
Secondly radical Islam has it issues but again if you want to scale “beliefs systems” that are most destructive and harmful to society, which include the belief in free markets, capitalism, turbo consumerism, privatisation of all public services, neo-liberalism, neo-colonialisms, trickle down economics, US exceptionalism ect.. . On the whole all these things combined cause more death and destruction than radical Islam. If climate change keeps going the way its going there won’t be Islam or any religion to speak of as humans will be extinct. What’s worse, radical Islam or the economic and political structure that enable climate change to worsen? I also remind you it’s not Muslim countries that have bombed, invaded, sanction and destroyed other nations over the last 50 years, it’s been the USA. 20 million dead people in 37 victim nations. https://www.globalresearch.ca/us-has-killed-more-than-20-million-people-in-37-victim-nations-since-world-war-ii/5492051 So I don’t deny the danger of radical Islam but it has a many murders to go to catch up to the good old USA. Which if recall is Christian country