Tuesday, August 13, 2013

dawkins logic, part 1

Dawkins being Dawkins:
"All the world's Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge. They did great things in the Middle Ages, though."
"You can attack someone for his opinion. But for simply stating an intriguing fact? Who would guess that a single Cambridge College . . ." 
"Interesting concept: a simple statement of undeniable FACT can be offensive. Other examples where facts should be hidden because offensive?"

Along with the relatively minor failures of 

  1. leaving the power relations that go into producing Nobel Prizes unanalyzed and 
  2. implying that all facts are equally relevant and that the audience should assume they're being presented because the speaker finds them "intriguing" or some other unproblematic reason (imagine a milk salesman telling a shopper considering soy milk a true story about someone who died last week from drinking soy milk),

Dawkins amazingly claims that his own position on the issue is purely factual (particularly with regard to that first statement above). The Nobel Prize count is factual, sure, but look at the gigantic pile of presuppositional shit he tries to sneak in the back door. We're to believe that the intellectual achievement ("science") of large numbers of people cannot only be adequately compared by way of the Nobel Prize, and that not only is there a correlation between science skills and self-proclaimed Muzlitude or self-proclaimed whatever hazy intellectual metaphysical mishmash of brain things people imagine themselves to know and put under a too-convenient socially constructed umbrella, but we're also to believe that religion Z is causal with respect to science skills. 
Plausible, I suppose, but if he knew a damn worthwhile thing about history, religion flavor would be at most a last-ditch guess lying on a heap of failed hypotheses when trying to explain trophy distribution among local elites. 

So, anyway, this is Dawkins' idea of what a fact is: an entirely baseless claim about causality. "Leading western scientist fails to show basic fact identification skills," reads a headline. Take that, Muslims! 

And just in case it appears I might be strawmanning, yes, he is making a causal claim:
“If you [Muslims] are so numerous, and if your science is so great, shouldn’t you be able to point to some pretty spectacular achievements emanating from among those vast numbers? If you can’t today but once could, what has gone wrong for the past 500 years? Whatever it is, is there something to be done about it?”
Imperialism? Living on top of oil fields?

Allow me to keep the structure of Dawkins' argument (or is it merely a barrage of facts from a disinterested party randomly colluding?) while tinkering with the details:

If you Native Americans have such great cultures, why did Europeans destroy you so thoroughly? 

If you 19th century black Americans are so smart, why are your literacy rates so low? 

If you Belgians are so good at making beer, why don't you have more of a reputation for being heavy drinkers?

Or whatever.

And this:
I thought about comparing the numbers of Nobel Prizes won by Jews (more than 120) and Muslims (ten if you count Peace Prizes, half that if you don’t). This astonishing discrepancy is rendered the more dramatic when you consider the small size of the world’s Jewish population.
Why are oil company CEOs so rich?

Why are rich guys more likely to live in mansions?

Why are people born in the ghetto likely to die young, and in the ghetto?

Most importantly, and this is the one I'm most confident answering, having recently studied the random correlationist logic of an elite western scientist: why do white guys like baseball? 

Answer: because they have medium-sized penises. And that's a fact. I mean if they do, whoever they are. 


Anonymous said...

the same day i saw that dawkins tweet, i also saw an article about nobel prize winners who later go on to go to vouch for psuedo-science shit for monetary gain. so, using dawkins reasoning, we can say that fewer muslim nobel winners go on to push bullshit than non-muslim winner.

Devin Lenda said...

Nice one.