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Old 06-07-2021, 11:53 AM   #1
Aaron W.
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Godless grifters: How the New Atheists merged with the far right

Somewhere, there's a thread where some post-New-Atheist supporters did some reflecting on why New Atheism has basically become irrelevant. Here's an article from the Salon that makes the argument that the whole thing was basically a scam built around social influence, rather than an intellectual movement. The evidence that is presented is what happened to various leaders of the New Atheist movement over the last decade or so, and how it seems to show those people went in the direction of the company they chose to keep, rather than standing firmly on a foundation of honest intellectual inquiry.

https://www.salon.com/2021/06/05/how...ect-surrender/

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New Atheism appeared to offer moral clarity, it emphasized intellectual honesty and it embraced scientific truths about the nature and workings of reality. It gave me immense hope to know that in a world overflowing with irrationality, there were clear-thinking individuals with sizable public platforms willing to stand up for what's right and true — to stand up for sanity in the face of stupidity.

Fast-forward to the present: What a grift that was! Many of the most prominent New Atheists turned out to be nothing more than self-aggrandizing, dogmatic, irascible, censorious, morally compromised people who, at every opportunity, have propped up the powerful over the powerless, the privileged over the marginalized. This may sound hyperbolic, but it's not when, well, you look at the evidence. So I thought it might be illuminating to take a look at where some of the heavy hitters in the atheist and "skeptic" communities are today. What do their legacies look like? In what direction have they taken their cultural quest to secularize the world?

...

crowd. There is nothing ad hominem in saying this, by the way: The point is simply that the company one keeps matters. What's sad is that the New Atheist movement could have made a difference — a positive difference — in the world. Instead, it gradually merged with factions of the alt-right to become what former New York Times contributing editor Bari Weiss calls the "Intellectual Dark Web" (IDW), a motley crew of pseudo-intellectuals whose luminaries include Jordan Peterson, Eric and Bret Weinstein, Douglas Murray, Dave Rubin and Ben Shapiro, in addition to those mentioned above.

At the heart of this merger was the creation of a new religious movement of sorts centered around the felt loss of power among white men due to the empowerment of other people. When it was once acceptable, according to cultural norms, for men to sexually harass women with impunity, or make harmful racist and sexist comments without worrying about losing a speaking opportunity, being held accountable can feel like an injustice, even though the exact opposite is the case. Pinker, Shermer and some of the others like to preach about "moral progress," but in fighting social justice under the misleading banner of "free speech," they not only embolden fascists but impede further moral progress for the marginalized.
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Old 06-07-2021, 12:21 PM   #2
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Re: Godless grifters: How the New Atheists merged with the far right

Ironically I could see the argument being made that the attack on religious conservatism paved the way for the woke movement that so many "New Atheists" are at odds with.
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Old 06-07-2021, 07:19 PM   #3
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Re: Godless grifters: How the New Atheists merged with the far right

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Originally Posted by Aaron W. View Post
Somewhere, there's a thread where some post-New-Atheist supporters did some reflecting on why New Atheism has basically become irrelevant. Here's an article from the Salon that makes the argument that the whole thing was basically a scam built around social influence, rather than an intellectual movement. The evidence that is presented is what happened to various leaders of the New Atheist movement over the last decade or so, and how it seems to show those people went in the direction of the company they chose to keep, rather than standing firmly on a foundation of honest intellectual inquiry.

https://www.salon.com/2021/06/05/how...ect-surrender/
That's a pretty bad article, more a hit piece on various people whose politics the author dislikes than an honest account of the movement and where it ended up.

As for the thesis that New Atheism merged with the far right, very little evidence of this is provided there. It's true that some of the prominent atheists of that time are anti-woke, but that isn't the same as far-right.

Mostly, I think what happened is that after Bush was president Americans started caring less about religion, both for and against, and atheism became passe and so much less interesting to young people.
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Old 06-07-2021, 08:57 PM   #4
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Re: Godless grifters: How the New Atheists merged with the far right

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As for the thesis that New Atheism merged with the far right, very little evidence of this is provided there.
Right, it was abundantly clear these guys were in league with the far right from the get-go. There was no need for them to "merge" with anyone.
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Old 06-08-2021, 01:10 AM   #5
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Re: Godless grifters: How the New Atheists merged with the far right

It is due to Salon's "journalism" that Sam Harris once Tweeted:
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Originally Posted by Sam Harris on Twitter
If X wrote "Black people are apes. White people are apes. Racism is insane." @ggreenwald would write "X claims 'Black people are apes'!"

eta: I'm not saying he's a perfect communicator, but whenever there is a furor over what has Sam Harris said this time? it almost always turns out to NOT be anything Sam Harris actually said, but instead the least charitable interpretation possible made by a 'journalist' who already knows everything they need to know about Harris!
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Old 06-08-2021, 01:16 AM   #6
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Re: Godless grifters: How the New Atheists merged with the far right

Shermer, otoh, does seem to have lost the plot lately Godless grifters: How the New Atheists merged with the far right
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Old 06-08-2021, 01:21 AM   #7
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Re: Godless grifters: How the New Atheists merged with the far right

Meanwhile, Dave Rubin is wondering how he ever became associated with a group with the word 'intellectual' in its name, but is now working hard to see how he can put his grift to work.
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Old 06-08-2021, 11:40 AM   #8
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Re: Godless grifters: How the New Atheists merged with the far right

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Right, it was abundantly clear these guys were in league with the far right from the get-go. There was no need for them to "merge" with anyone.
A lot of truth to the above, in my opinion. For example, even though Christopher Hitchens self-identified as a Democratic Socialist, he was the leading public intellectual cheerleading GWB's War on Terror.
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Old 06-08-2021, 12:12 PM   #9
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Re: Godless grifters: How the New Atheists merged with the far right

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eta: I'm not saying he's a perfect communicator, but whenever there is a furor over what has Sam Harris said this time? it almost always turns out to NOT be anything Sam Harris actually said, but instead the least charitable interpretation possible made by a 'journalist' who already knows everything they need to know about Harris!
Sam Harris has really said some stupid things. The fact that he writes long and somewhat rambling defenses doesn't make them less stupid. But we've gone through iterations of this here, too.

https://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/1...arris-1318389/
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Old 06-08-2021, 12:25 PM   #10
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Re: Godless grifters: How the New Atheists merged with the far right

Harris' major blooper was when he released his convo with Chomsky without realising how badly he did.
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Old 06-08-2021, 02:34 PM   #11
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Re: Godless grifters: How the New Atheists merged with the far right

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Sam Harris has really said some stupid things. The fact that he writes long and somewhat rambling defenses doesn't make them less stupid. But we've gone through iterations of this here, too.

https://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/1...arris-1318389/
Yep. So has Dawkins. I just don't think this shows that New Atheism has much of a connection to the modern far-right or that it was a grift. Dawkins, Pinker, and Krauss are neither on the right and are/were all influential and acclaimed scientists. Boghossian and Lindsay only became prominent once New Atheism was already over. Sam Harris is a political centrist provocateur that has made a living based on writing and talking about controversial moral and political questions in philosophy. You can call him a grifter on that basis, but I don't see why.
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Old 06-08-2021, 05:01 PM   #12
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Re: Godless grifters: How the New Atheists merged with the far right

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I just don't think this shows that New Atheism has much of a connection to the modern far-right or that it was a grift.
New Atheism (as a movement) pretty much died off in the last decade. So I think to argue that New Atheism (as a movement) has any active connection with anything happening today is already going to be a stretch. I'm not aware of any direct offshoots of the New Atheism movement, so to me the whole thing is basically dead from that perspective. Certainly, there are people who were influenced by those ideas from those times, but the movement itself has no clear successor movement that came from it.

The claim that it was a grift (as I read it) is framed around the movement as being primarily an intellectual one:

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New Atheism appeared to offer moral clarity, it emphasized intellectual honesty and it embraced scientific truths about the nature and workings of reality. It gave me immense hope to know that in a world overflowing with irrationality, there were clear-thinking individuals with sizable public platforms willing to stand up for what's right and true — to stand up for sanity in the face of stupidity...

What a grift that was! Many of the most prominent New Atheists turned out to be nothing more than self-aggrandizing, dogmatic, irascible, censorious, morally compromised people who, at every opportunity, have propped up the powerful over the powerless, the privileged over the marginalized.
The author's complaint is that the things he thought the New Atheist movement offered was not actually what the New Atheists ended up doing. The author doesn't believe that the movement was truly grounded in the intellectual things he had believed about it, and that the figures in the movement were more interested in self-promotion than promoting the honesty intellectual conversations that he thought they were about. (And you can argue that this isn't what New Atheism actually offered or whatever. I neither fully accept nor reject his thesis.)

The article goes further to point to the ways that some of these people have drifted into far-right circles which (to the author) signals political opportunism and indicates against the "moral clarity" of the movement.

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Dawkins, Pinker, and Krauss are neither on the right and are/were all influential and acclaimed scientists.
The point of their scientific background is acknowledged, but the relevance is unclear.

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Boghossian and Lindsay only became prominent once New Atheism was already over.
I have to admit that I didn't even know who these people were.

Quote:
Sam Harris is a political centrist provocateur that has made a living based on writing and talking about controversial moral and political questions in philosophy. You can call him a grifter on that basis, but I don't see why.
I would argue Sam Harris is a grifter in the context of this article in the sense that he didn't really offer a really solid intellectual discussion for many of his views. He wasn't actually open to discussion and investigation of ideas. He would say something kind of stupid, and then come out with some sort of "I'm the victim and people are too dumb to understand what I'm saying" essay where he doesn't actually clarify any points or effectively address the criticism that was raised. The "value" of his "brand" was not in the actual depth of the intellectual content and discussion he provided, but charisma.
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Old 06-08-2021, 05:43 PM   #13
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Re: Godless grifters: How the New Atheists merged with the far right

Boghossian is listed under 'Others' on Wiki's New Atheism entry.
So is AC Grayling, but since AC Grayling couldn't be further from the far right that this piece of 'journalism' is trying to tarnish New Atheism with, best ignore him, right?



I don't think anyone uses the label New Atheism anymore, unless they're preparing to denigrate specific atheists. Even if this 'journalist' was correct in everything he said about this tiny group of individuals, it says nothing whatsoever about today's atheist/secularist/humanist movements, or however people want to currently describe themselves.


tldr: Atheists span the political spectrum, some no doubt might hold shitty views on some topics.




eta: Rubin is clearly a grifter, such a clear grifter in fact that he stands out, and his grift is pointed out by numerous other atheists/secularists/humanists.

Last edited by BeaucoupFish; 06-08-2021 at 05:49 PM. Reason: Rubin the grifter
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Old 06-08-2021, 06:52 PM   #14
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Re: Godless grifters: How the New Atheists merged with the far right

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New Atheism (as a movement) pretty much died off in the last decade. So I think to argue that New Atheism (as a movement) has any active connection with anything happening today is already going to be a stretch. I'm not aware of any direct offshoots of the New Atheism movement, so to me the whole thing is basically dead from that perspective. Certainly, there are people who were influenced by those ideas from those times, but the movement itself has no clear successor movement that came from it.
I meant a genealogical connection such as the author seems to be claiming in that article.

Quote:
The claim that it was a grift (as I read it) is framed around the movement as being primarily an intellectual one:
Quote:
New Atheism appeared to offer moral clarity, it emphasized intellectual honesty and it embraced scientific truths about the nature and workings of reality. It gave me immense hope to know that in a world overflowing with irrationality, there were clear-thinking individuals with sizable public platforms willing to stand up for what's right and true — to stand up for sanity in the face of stupidity...

What a grift that was! Many of the most prominent New Atheists turned out to be nothing more than self-aggrandizing, dogmatic, irascible, censorious, morally compromised people who, at every opportunity, have propped up the powerful over the powerless, the privileged over the marginalized.
The author's complaint is that the things he thought the New Atheist movement offered was not actually what the New Atheists ended up doing. The author doesn't believe that the movement was truly grounded in the intellectual things he had believed about it, and that the figures in the movement were more interested in self-promotion than promoting the honesty intellectual conversations that he thought they were about. (And you can argue that this isn't what New Atheism actually offered or whatever. I neither fully accept nor reject his thesis.)
To some extent I agree with the bolded: the generally self-aggrandizing, censorious, dogmatic, and irascible nature of the some of these people (eg Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris in particular) was obvious at the time. And insofar as you are sympathetic to progressive views on race and LGBT you'll likely view the current anti-woke views of many of the most well-known NA leaders as demonstrating a lack of moral clarity.

I just don't see how this equals "grift." The idea that New Atheism as an intellectual movements is shown to be a grift because of those characteristics is ridiculous. This is why I pointed out that in fact many of the leaders he lists really were well-known and influential intellectuals, regardless of their moral behavior or other views. The author frames his article as a case of disappointed hero-worship, and on that basis accuses these former NA leaders of grifting. The problem here is the childish hero-worship the author seems to have had in the first place. Intellectuals often have exactly the faults he identifies here, but that doesn't mean that their ideas aren't worth paying attention to or that they aren't actually intellectuals.

Quote:
The article goes further to point to the ways that some of these people have drifted into far-right circles which (to the author) signals political opportunism and indicates against the "moral clarity" of the movement.
Not really. Most of this "drifting" is just the guilt-by-association linking that progressives on the internet often engage in to describe people as part of a disfavored group.

Quote:
I would argue Sam Harris is a grifter in the context of this article in the sense that he didn't really offer a really solid intellectual discussion for many of his views. He wasn't actually open to discussion and investigation of ideas. He would say something kind of stupid, and then come out with some sort of "I'm the victim and people are too dumb to understand what I'm saying" essay where he doesn't actually clarify any points or effectively address the criticism that was raised. The "value" of his "brand" was not in the actual depth of the intellectual content and discussion he provided, but charisma.
I don't agree with this description. Harris doesn't seem to me very open to changing his mind on many of the things he talks about most often, but he generally presents his views as the conclusion to an argument, where he clearly provides the reasons that are meant to justify his position and addresses counter-arguments. He is a generalist and popularizer, and so sometimes doesn't go into the kind of detail and source-citation that academics generally think is required to do this right, but that is too high a bar for writing meant for the general public.

Claiming that he is a grifter because he doesn't effectively address criticisms or complains a lot about how people misrepresent and lie about his views seems obviously wrong to me. The first just means that you disagree with him and the everyone nowadays does the latter.
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Old 06-08-2021, 08:29 PM   #15
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Re: Godless grifters: How the New Atheists merged with the far right

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I just don't see how this equals "grift." The idea that New Atheism as an intellectual movements is shown to be a grift because of those characteristics is ridiculous. This is why I pointed out that in fact many of the leaders he lists really were well-known and influential intellectuals, regardless of their moral behavior or other views. The author frames his article as a case of disappointed hero-worship, and on that basis accuses these former NA leaders of grifting. The problem here is the childish hero-worship the author seems to have had in the first place. Intellectuals often have exactly the faults he identifies here, but that doesn't mean that their ideas aren't worth paying attention to or that they aren't actually intellectuals.
I'm curious how you separate out their "other views" from their "intellectual views." Unless you're taking the position that the New Atheists were really only claiming to be intellectuals narrowly on the topic of atheism, I don't know how you intend to distinguish these categories of thought.

I think that's part of the reason you're reaching a different conclusion than the author. If you frame New Atheism to be solely about atheism, then you're probably right. But the New Atheists postured themselves (I would say intentionally) as being more than "just" atheists. There was a larger attempt at a social movement. And in that sense, those "other views" were core to what made New Atheism what it was (or at least what it aspired to be).

You can call it "hero worship" but I think that sells the New Atheist movement a little short on what its ambitions were.

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I don't agree with this description. Harris doesn't seem to me very open to changing his mind on many of the things he talks about most often, but he generally presents his views as the conclusion to an argument, where he clearly provides the reasons that are meant to justify his position and addresses counter-arguments.
How do you feel about people like Milo Yiannopoulos and Tucker Carlson. They present their views as the conclusion of an argument, and they clearly provide the reasons that are meant to justify their positions and address counter-arguments. Is that standard really sufficient for your purposes?

Quote:
He is a generalist and popularizer, and so sometimes doesn't go into the kind of detail and source-citation that academics generally think is required to do this right, but that is too high a bar for writing meant for the general public.
I'm not asking for source-citation. I'm not using that as any part of my standard of his argumentation.

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Claiming that he is a grifter because he doesn't effectively address criticisms or complains a lot about how people misrepresent and lie about his views seems obviously wrong to me. The first just means that you disagree with him and the everyone nowadays does the latter.
That everyone does it doesn't mean that it is or is not a thing.

I would argue that the griftiness depends on whether the thing being presented is the thing that it is. You seem to be narrowly defining the goals of the New Atheist movement to make it about some things and not other things. Since there was never really a formal declaration, it's fair if you think differently about it than I do. But at least in the mind of the author, these are the things that the New Atheists promoted as part of their "brand":

1) Moral clarity
2) Intellectual honesty
3) Embrace scientific truths about the nature and workings of reality
4) A community of clear-thinking individuals willing to stand up for what's right and true

He felt let down on enough of these brand markers that he considers it a grift. You can call this list of aspirational brand markers "hero worship" and I guess I can't do more than disagree with you. But I would be curious to see where you would draw boundaries around what is and is not part of the New Atheist movement.
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Old 06-08-2021, 09:06 PM   #16
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Re: Godless grifters: How the New Atheists merged with the far right

They were bold truth-tellers when they were dunking on easy targets like Biblical literalists and creationists. Once they got out of that lane it became obvious that they're actually a pack of extremely uninteresting mediocre dudes.
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Old 06-08-2021, 11:51 PM   #17
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Re: Godless grifters: How the New Atheists merged with the far right

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They were bold truth-tellers when they were dunking on easy targets like Biblical literalists and creationists. Once they got out of that lane it became obvious that they're actually a pack of extremely uninteresting mediocre dudes.
This is silly.

The exact opposite is more likely the case for someone like Dawkins, who has had a massive impact in his field of professional expertise, and imo is mediocre when it comes to the easy target dunking of counter-apologetics. I doubt The God Delusion would have had much of an impact if Dawkins wasn't already well known.

Boghossian's book (A Manual for Creating Atheists, though I haven't read it myself) spawned a Socratic technique called "Street Epistemology" (basically, a doubt inducer), which has become popular among atheist/secular/humanist groups. I wouldn't call such an impact mediocre, regardless of Boghossian's other positions.

Sam Harris has probably popularized mindful meditation more than almost any other person.

The Weinstein brothers are generally bloviators and dull as dishwater, fair enough, but they aren't remotely 'mediocre'.

Etc.

All the criticisms about these folk come from within the atheist/secular/humanist community, which just makes me question the point of this topic. Who is being said to have looked to Richard Dawkins for moral expertise or leadership?


Dave Rubin though, it's agreed - he's an uninteresting and mediocre grifter.
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Old 06-09-2021, 07:59 AM   #18
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Re: Godless grifters: How the New Atheists merged with the far right

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The exact opposite is more likely the case for someone like Dawkins, who has had a massive impact in his field of professional expertise, and imo is mediocre when it comes to the easy target dunking of counter-apologetics. I doubt The God Delusion would have had much of an impact if Dawkins wasn't already well known.
I'm sure he did great work as an academic biologist. As a public intellectual, you couldn't ask for a more medicore clown. Guy just really should have stayed in his lane.


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Old 06-09-2021, 11:41 AM   #19
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Re: Godless grifters: How the New Atheists merged with the far right

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The Weinstein brothers are generally bloviators and dull as dishwater, fair enough, but they aren't remotely 'mediocre'.
If being dull as dishwater isn't mediocre, what is?
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Old 06-09-2021, 12:17 PM   #20
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Re: Godless grifters: How the New Atheists merged with the far right

I don’t know as much about the Weinsteins. Seems like one of them was a crank who quit science to do podcasts because that’s just what middle-aged white men do these days.
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Old 06-09-2021, 02:18 PM   #21
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Re: Godless grifters: How the New Atheists merged with the far right

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I'm curious how you separate out their "other views" from their "intellectual views." Unless you're taking the position that the New Atheists were really only claiming to be intellectuals narrowly on the topic of atheism, I don't know how you intend to distinguish these categories of thought.
To my ear, "grifter" implies some kind of fraudulence or fakeness to what is being sold. LeBron James makes a lot of money from playing basketball, but there is nothing fake about his ability which is why he isn't a grifter. I don't really know on what basis the New Atheist leaders claimed to be intellectuals, but my point is that they were not faking it, they really were intellectuals. Dawkins was a prominent scientist and perhaps the most well-known science writer in the world. Dennett was an innovative and influential philosopher and also a very successful popularizer of philosophy and science. Hitchens was more a generalist, but by the time he became identified as part of New Atheism also someone with an independent reputation as a serious political and moral writer. Pinker would also be included here as a highly-regarded intellectual insofar as he is part of New Atheism. Even the lesser known bloggers and writers, eg Krauss, Coyne, PZ Myers, etc, tended to be prominent in their own academic fields and as popular writers.

My view is that what made New Atheism interesting to people is that these otherwise prominent and highly regarded thinkers were all so public in their anti-religious views at a time when religion seemed so impactful in American politics. This gave a kind of intellectual cover to the Reddit Atheists and other people to break away from their own religious upbringing and to challenge those who used religion as a justification for moral or political views they thought were wrong. This is largely why it didn't matter that much that Dawkins, et al weren't that sophisticated in their analysis of religion. New Atheism was more about offering intellectual respectability and seriousness to people who wanted to attack religion. The fact that real intellectuals like Dawkins, Dennett, and Hitchens were making the same criticisms of religion and theism did that.

I'll admit that Harris is a bit different here as he made his reputation during New Atheism. My judgement that he is not just grifting is based on my having read enough of his writing to not regard him as arguing in bad faith. In the same way that I can read WL Craig and see that he is trying to defend his position through arguments, even when I think those arguments are wrong and often obviously so. I think the same of Harris.

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I think that's part of the reason you're reaching a different conclusion than the author. If you frame New Atheism to be solely about atheism, then you're probably right. But the New Atheists postured themselves (I would say intentionally) as being more than "just" atheists. There was a larger attempt at a social movement. And in that sense, those "other views" were core to what made New Atheism what it was (or at least what it aspired to be).
There were attempts at making New Atheism into a larger movement, but they just ended up being subsumed into varied subsequent social movements. There was Atheism+ as an attempt to marry New Atheism with social justice concerns, but that quickly just became part of the larger social justice movement. There was a lot of attention paid to "rationality" as a distinctive feature of the non-religious epistemology that would replace religion, but that went off into the Less Wrong people or just kind of petered out. But of the primary NA leaders, except maybe for Harris, they became irrelevant or only remained significant because of their prior specialties. Hitchens died. Dennett is still just doing philosophy, mostly of mind, and Dawkins is just regarded as a kind of crank outside of his writing on evolution.

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You can call it "hero worship" but I think that sells the New Atheist movement a little short on what its ambitions were.
Nearly all social movements have unfulfilled ambitions. Taking the ambitions a movement has about what it wants to be, instead of what it actually is at the time to describe the movement seems like a mistake to me.

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How do you feel about people like Milo Yiannopoulos and Tucker Carlson. They present their views as the conclusion of an argument, and they clearly provide the reasons that are meant to justify their positions and address counter-arguments. Is that standard really sufficient for your purposes?
I've not read much Milo Yiannopoulos. During the early Trump years he mostly seemed a troll, who did not really intend his arguments to be taken seriously. Tucker Carlson was a journalist who now has a late-night TV talk show on Fox News which I've never watched. Maybe he is a serious thinker, but based on my familiarity with the genre I'm skeptical.

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That everyone does it doesn't mean that it is or is not a thing.

I would argue that the griftiness depends on whether the thing being presented is the thing that it is. You seem to be narrowly defining the goals of the New Atheist movement to make it about some things and not other things. Since there was never really a formal declaration, it's fair if you think differently about it than I do. But at least in the mind of the author, these are the things that the New Atheists promoted as part of their "brand":

1) Moral clarity
2) Intellectual honesty
3) Embrace scientific truths about the nature and workings of reality
4) A community of clear-thinking individuals willing to stand up for what's right and true

He felt let down on enough of these brand markers that he considers it a grift. You can call this list of aspirational brand markers "hero worship" and I guess I can't do more than disagree with you. But I would be curious to see where you would draw boundaries around what is and is not part of the New Atheist movement.
Yeah, this is right about why I think that article is bad. As a description of New Atheism this seems pretty obviously wrong. At minimum you should include something about atheism and its anti-religion viewpoint. This is a description of New Atheism as a cult - he thought he was joining with a movement whose members were the virtuous and right-thinking people irrespective of their specific beliefs, and as he got older and changed his own beliefs it turned out they were ordinary humans and so is now disappointed in them. Okay, fine, say so. That doesn't retroactively mean that they were grifting.

Last edited by Original Position; 06-09-2021 at 02:23 PM. Reason: added text for clarity
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Old 06-09-2021, 02:53 PM   #22
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Re: Godless grifters: How the New Atheists merged with the far right

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They were bold truth-tellers when they were dunking on easy targets like Biblical literalists and creationists. Once they got out of that lane it became obvious that they're actually a pack of extremely uninteresting mediocre dudes.

What is a Biblical literalist? Could you please give examples of people you believe are Biblical Literalists? Thanks.
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Old 06-09-2021, 04:09 PM   #23
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Re: Godless grifters: How the New Atheists merged with the far right

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If being dull as dishwater isn't mediocre, what is?
Sorry, I'd meant to specify 'academically'.

They're both probably only known because of Bret W's involvement in the Evergreen University debacle several years ago involving a group of overly entitled college-aged children. At that point he would probably have been considered very positively (excluding some extreme leftists), only after capitalizing on that event have opinions probably shifted.

You probably know that it was Eric W that coined the Intellectual Dark Web phrase.

eta: is that enough "probably"s?

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Originally Posted by Aaron W. View Post
How do you feel about people like Milo Yiannopoulos and Tucker Carlson.
Interesting choices! Carlson was recently sued for defamation, I believe, and the judge ruled using Fox lawyers own arguments that (paraphrasing) no-one serious should believe Carlson was genuinely presenting facts.
Yiannopoulos is a self professed troll and provocateur (provocateur should be a label that is earned rather than chosen).
WLC should be a good choice, as Original Position suggested.

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Originally Posted by lagtight View Post
What is a Biblical literalist? Could you please give examples of people you believe are Biblical Literalists? Thanks.
Lol, do you have to make every thread about you?

Last edited by BeaucoupFish; 06-09-2021 at 04:13 PM. Reason: PROBABLY!
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Old 06-09-2021, 04:18 PM   #24
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Re: Godless grifters: How the New Atheists merged with the far right

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Originally Posted by Original Position View Post
I've not read much Milo Yiannopoulos. During the early Trump years he mostly seemed a troll, who did not really intend his arguments to be taken seriously. Tucker Carlson was a journalist who now has a late-night TV talk show on Fox News which I've never watched. Maybe he is a serious thinker, but based on my familiarity with the genre I'm skeptical.
My point here is that you're creating judgments about these individuals not on the basis that you presented ("he generally presents his views as the conclusion to an argument, where he clearly provides the reasons that are meant to justify his position and addresses counter-arguments"), but rather on other standards (general impressions).

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Yeah, this is right about why I think that article is bad. As a description of New Atheism this seems pretty obviously wrong. At minimum you should include something about atheism and its anti-religion viewpoint. This is a description of New Atheism as a cult - he thought he was joining with a movement whose members were the virtuous and right-thinking people irrespective of their specific beliefs, and as he got older and changed his own beliefs it turned out they were ordinary humans and so is now disappointed in them. Okay, fine, say so. That doesn't retroactively mean that they were grifting.
I think the inclusion of the anti-religion viewpoint is fair. However, I would say that the anti-religion viewpoint can be seen as the outcome of the values rather than the primary goal.

To me, New Atheism was more than just "Religion = bad." It was "This other way of thinking/being = good, and therefore religion = bad." I think from that perspective, it was more than an anti-religion movement, but a pro-other-things movement. And that's where the "grift" kicks in, as does our disagreement.

If New Atheism were nothing more than anti-religion movement, I would agree with your perspective. But I would say that it postured itself to be something more. And the grift is that it wasn't.
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Old 06-09-2021, 04:20 PM   #25
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Re: Godless grifters: How the New Atheists merged with the far right

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Originally Posted by BeaucoupFish View Post
Carlson was recently sued for defamation, I believe, and the judge ruled using Fox lawyers own arguments that (paraphrasing) no-one serious should believe Carlson was genuinely presenting facts.
Notice how "facts" didn't play a role in this discussion. It's merely the presentation of things that look like arguments.

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Yiannopoulos is a self professed troll and provocateur (provocateur should be a label that is earned rather than chosen).
Again, it's plain that you're using a different standard than the thing that was presented.
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