Tuesday, August 13, 2013

dawkins logic, part 2

Here, I broke down how Richard Dawkins recently presented a dubious claim of causation as an indisputable fact. Specifically, the fact he presents is that people who call themselves Muslim do not win as many Nobel Prizes as members of such groups as Jews, Christians, and atheists. The mostly buried implications that accompany this fact, and that are inseparable from it, are that group affiliation/culture is causal in this process (i.e, being Muslim makes you more likely to be bad at science, being atheist makes you more likely to be good at it); winning Nobel Prizes is good because, science; and Jewish/Christian/atheist culture produces superior results to Muslim culture.

The framework he's using is hard to miss. Muslim culture is retrograde, barbarian. Christians and Jews are a few rungs up on the ladder. Atheists are at the top. The U.S., western Europe, and good, western-compliant Asians like the ones in Japan and South Korea have Presidents and Prime Ministers with all the misguided implications of humanistic freedom-loving rationality that tag along with those words, while Muslim countries have dictators or, when they're behaving, strongmen who use force to keep the unruly idiots in line. It's a defense of western culture all the way and fails to employ the fact-sorting methodology that gives science a heuristic leg up on its rivals. But if we were to do that we'd see that...

nominal Christians have killed considerably more humans, particularly via state-organized mass killings like the relatively recent ones in Korea, India, Vietnam, and Iraq than have nominal Muslims. Using Dawkins logic, Christians have a lotta splaining to do, at the very least. If Christians are so peaceful (borrowing Dawkins' question-begging formula), why are they so bad at not killing people? Look at the Muslims (again, Dawkins logic). They're relatively peaceful. Now Dawkins wouldn't concede the point, having presorted the data based on the tribalist identity of the actors (i.e., having failed to use scientific methodology), but if he did, he'd have to either say that non-murderousness isn't that important in comparison to science skills and perhaps other cultural excellence indicators or give up the argument. If religion helps cause sciencey behavior, it helps cause murdery behavior. If religion flavor is causally relevant (it's not -- certainly not when the religions in question are as broad, ill-defined, and overlapping as they are, as covered in part 1 -- but even if it were...), then by arguably the most basic measure of human decency there is -- the ability to not murder people for no fucking reason (aww, c'mon, you know what I mean) -- Christians lose.

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