Thursday, June 13, 2013

Richard Dawkins named intellectual world's "Top Thinker"


[Dissociated Press] Pundits and intellectuals today applauded the announcement by Prospect Magazine that outspoken atheist and former Oxford professor Richard Dawkins has been voted "The World's Top Thinker" (not a parody).

We here at Dissociated Press had the pleasure of interviewing Sam Shelton, publisher and CEO of Prospect Magazine, about this remarkable public intellectual.

DP: Mr. Shelton, it must be a real thrill to have this opportunity to highlight the accomplishments of Professor Dawkins, who has contributed so much over the past couple of decades to public debate on such issues as evolution, morality, and God's existence.

Shelton: Indeed. We are honored to confer the award. 

DP: Sir, how was the poll conducted?

Seldon: Well we athked 1000 people, including thcientithtth, academicth, journalithtth, and otherth who follow the intellectual world. We athked:  "Among public intellectualth, which ith the biggetht thtinker?" 

DP: Umm, well, did Professor Dawkins win by a large margin?

Seldon: Oh, yeth. By a huge margin-- by over 900 voteth. No other public figure wath clothe. The biggetht thtinker? It wath Richard Dawkinth by a landthlide.

47 comments:

  1. Michael,

    I see that you didn't get on the list of the 65 top thinkers. Going on the intelligence displayed in your 'Dissociated Press' threads, there's no surprise there.

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    1. And you're right up there, correct?

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  2. No real shock there.
    In a world where the film industry is obsessed with super heroes, a music industry is obsessed with 'gansta' c-Rap, and folks are more interested in reality TV than a war or impending tyranny Prof Dawkings 'do what thou Wilt' attitude combined with his 'sciency' approach fits like a glove.
    Who got second place? Steve Wilkos?
    Call Green Peace. Intellectuals are an increasingly endangered species.
    'Don't worry. There probably is no intellectuals.' should be the bus sign.

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    1. From the Christian Post article:

      "The top 10 names in Prospect Magazine's list are all male and include professors, politicians, scientists and economists. Afghanistan politician and former presidential candidate Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, a Muslim, took second place. Experimental psychologist Steven Pinker, who is also an atheist, took third place, while Shia Muslim Iraqi politician Ali Allawi took fourth. American economist Paul Krugman, who served under President Ronald Reagan, rounded up the top five.

      "A full list of the top 66 thinkers as chosen by the voters is available on the Prospect website."

      Hoo

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  3. As it turns out, Richard Dawkins believes in intelligent design, or at least he's left the door open to the possibility.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abugiGHOHg0

    He just can't accept the idea of God as the designer. It could however have been aliens. Yes, aliens. Aliens could have designed us and placed us here, then left some kind of signature in the DNA of the cell. The aliens themselves of course evolved in Darwinian fashion. Which kind of begs the question, where did they come from? And who designed them?

    I assume Sam Harris will be calling him up soon enough to ask the question that all sober, logical scientific types like to ask--what's your evidence? Sam Harris likes to ask that question about people who believe in God, but not people who believe that we were seeded here by little green men who traveled impossible distances in a rocket ship full of lifeforms that they created for fun.

    If anyone were to ask that question, he or she would discover that there is no evidence. There's no evidence of alien civilizations and even less evidence that they created us and placed us here, but Dawkins is willing to entertain this notion because he can't explain how life popped into existence from nowhere and nothing. How did non-living matter become living matter? He doesn't know, but aliens are as good an explanation as any.

    It could be aliens, but it can't be God because God is a mythical creature like wood nymphs and unicorns. Aliens, on the other hand, are real!

    TRISH

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    1. I saw that, TRISH. Unbelievable.

      Wasn't it Hoo who said that astrobiology isn't a real discipline but rather a trendy label used in science these days? Kind of makes you wonder how such an unscientific term became a trendy label in the realm of science.

      Aliens. Good one.

      Ben

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    2. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyJune 13, 2013 at 8:11 AM

      Yes, it was Mathoo who said that. He says many amusing things. But a quick review reveals much of his commentary as trollish chest-beating or simian threat displays. Very little in the way of informational value.

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    3. Especially if you can't process information.

      Hoo

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    4. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyJune 13, 2013 at 8:14 AM

      See what I mean, Ben?

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    5. Hoo, so glad you could join us. Now I might be mistaken, but was it you who said that astrobiology wasn't really a discipline, but rather a trendy label used in the scientific domain? I could be wrong. Somebody said it, it might not have been you.

      Ben

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    6. That was me, indeed, Ben.

      Hoo

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    7. I thought it was you, Hoo.

      Now why is this super sciencey guy losing himself in speculation about life being transplanted here by an extraterrestrial civilization? Extraterrestrial civilizations are not in evidence.

      Keep in mind that I don't reject the possibility of their existence. It's a great big universe out there, but as far as we know, we're the only ones in it. Such are the limitations of human observation.

      But then again, I'm one of those weird people who believes in God and other such fairytales.

      If this theory of evolution really works, and it might, it can't rely on the entirely unscientific premise that we were transplanted here by creatures that we don't know to exist. If that's the case, then it isn't science.

      Dawkins isn't nearly as scientific in his thinking as he would have us believe. To him, a scientific worldview isn't one that demands hard evidence before belief, but simply one that is always and everywhere anti-religion. That's why he can accept the idea of aliens designing us, but not the God of the Bible.

      As far as I can tell, Dawkins is about as credible as people who believe in unicorns.

      Ben

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    8. And another thing. I'll ask my question again. How did an unscientific term like "astrobiology" become a trendy label in science? Do scientists usually adopt trendy labels that are at odds with science?

      Ben

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    9. Every new scientific directions begins with a hunch, Ben. Quantum mechanics wasn't established science at one point, now it is. That's true of any scientific theory. So naturally scientists are excited about new and promising directions that could one day turn into a new branch of science. Most don't.

      It's no different from other fields of human endeavor.

      Hoo

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    10. Okay. Well, I want to start a Godology department. I'd like some funding please. I have a hunch.

      Ben

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    11. Dawkins isn't nearly as scientific in his thinking as he would have us believe. To him, a scientific worldview isn't one that demands hard evidence before belief, but simply one that is always and everywhere anti-religion. That's why he can accept the idea of aliens designing us, but not the God of the Bible.

      Or heck, just look at how he insists on repeating his stupid "religion is child abuse" idea, even though it has long been directly and repeatedly contradicted by all the actual scientific research on the matter. He's resolutely anti-intellectual and anti-science, at least where "science" refers to the actual activity of collecting empirical evidence and inferring rational conclusions from it. He merely likes the image of scientific prestige, and only to the extent that he thinks he can use it to confer the illusion of intellectualism to his philistine bashing of Christianity.

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    12. Apply for funding, Ben. If federal funding agencies or private sponsors find your idea convincing, you will be in business.

      Note, however, that there may be individuals with similar ideas, so the competition could be stiff. But don't let that stop you from trying.

      Hoo

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    13. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyJune 13, 2013 at 11:20 AM

      "Apply for funding..."

      The mantra of the Left.

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    14. You got a problem with science funding, admiral? Want to close down the NSF and the NIH? Don't be shy, tell us like it is.

      Hoo

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    15. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyJune 13, 2013 at 11:50 AM

      Whether or not I have a "problem" with science funding is irrelevant to my point that "Apply for funding..." is the mantra of the Left.

      Although I was the beneficiary of considerable funding from NSF and other organizations, like DoD, not all individuals need to rely on begging for money.

      For example, Dr Egnor has probably has - or perhaps had - his share of funding. But I have no doubt that if he decided to eschew taxpayer-funded work, his phone would continue to ring.

      Some branches of science, I call it circle-jerk science, don't really have that option. Practitioners in such areas are forced to depend on the public purse because they don't know anything that would cause someone to pick up the phone and offer to pay them for knowledge that would improve their lives, businesses, careers, products, or services. They will forever be, in a very real sense, wards of the state.

      So no, I am not in favor of "closing down" NSF or NIH. But I do question the level of funding allocated to circle-jerk science (defined as science whose absence no one - except practitioners, their professional friends, and loved ones - would notice if it disappeared from existence tomorrow) while middle-class incomes are falling, inflation is eating away what's left, good jobs are disappearing to be replaced with part-time and lower-paying work, and taxpayers are being stretched further and further.

      However, I understand you're on board with the more funding and fuck the taxpayer, and that's OK. At least until the money runs out. And it eventually will because, if for no other reason, the middle-class taxpayer just stops paying.

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    16. You understand it wrong, admiral. I am extremely grateful to the taxpayers who fund my research. The money supports mostly grad students and postdocs, the next generation of scientists.

      What you call "circle-jerk science" is basic research. It often has no immediate applications but may have them in the future. Semiconductors were a scientific curiosity at some point. They are now a quarter-trillion-dollar industry these days.

      Hoo

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    17. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyJune 13, 2013 at 12:20 PM

      I know what basic research is, Mathoo. And "circle-jerk science" is what you say I call basic research - not what I said. Don't try to redefine the terms of my ideas, you silly git. Get your own ideas for a change.

      And, FWIW, you are a lying fraud. Sorry, troll. If there was ever, in Dawkin's words, a programmed, lumbering robot, you, son, are he. At least Dawkins's royalties go a long way to support his nincompoopery.

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    18. You wouldn't know basic research if it bit you in the butt.

      Hoo

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    19. I don’t understand why everybody is so down on astrobiologists. One of NASA’s biggest goals is to find evidence for life beyond the Earth, and the discipline of astrobiology is critical to that endeavor.

      Astrobiologists are intimately involved with designing instruments for Mars landers and possible probes to the Jovian moons. Their input is also central to setting the design parameters and performance specs for numerous space based instruments designed to look for signs of life beyond the solar system.

      NASA is currently considering sample return missions from Mars and eventual manned exploration. The protocols to prevent contaminating the Martian environment with Earth microbes or vice-versa has a major impact on the cost and engineering of these programs, and would literally be impossible without the input of astrobiologists.

      -KW

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    20. Everyone is "down" on astrobiology, KW, because it is a science that studies something not known to exist. I'm not being cheeky when I say that I consider the likelihood of alien life forms to be very high. They're probably out there, some impossible distance from us, wondering if they are alone just as we wonder if we are alone. Nonetheless, it's an unproven quantity, which is something truly scientific people don't even consider. That's what they tell me about God, anyway.

      NASA's immediate purpose from inception was to put military hardware in space before the Soviets. Maybe they said something nice about reaching out to alien life because it sounded nice, but Cold War concerns were the actual reason. The program has outlasted the Soviets, true.

      Ben

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    21. Deuce: Child abuse is illegal. If Dawkins means what he says than he should advocate taking children away from religious parents and locking up their abusers.

      Isn't that really the end goal of these atheist fanatics? If I said that, they'd call me paranoid. But what other conclusion can I draw when they tell me that raising a child in a religious faith is child abuse? Unless they think child abuse is fine, they must have something planned to remedy the situation.

      Ben

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    22. Gee Ben, did you miss the part where I gave concrete examples of astrobiologists working on the design of instruments and procedures in use today? Astrobiologists are center stage when it comes to determining the performance parameter for the follow-on to the James Web space telescope in hopes of detecting signs of life on planets orbiting other stars.

      You don’t know what you’re talking about regarding NASA history. NASA was formed to be entirely separate from our military space program and has had literally nothing to do with our military presence in space ever. If you don’t know something you should at least give it a quick google before you embarrass yourself further.

      -KW

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    23. Actually, you can do astrobiology without even leaving the Earth. One way is to look for a life form on Earth that's radically different to everything else. All species examined so far have had the same DNA code, with minor differences, implying that life arose just once (or perhaps arose more than once, but then the others went extinct).

      If we found a species with a radically different DNA code, or even one with a different genetic mechanism, and we haven't looked at all the species yet since there's an estimated 10 million of them including many in very inhospitable environments such as deep terrestrial rock, it would imply that life actually arises very easily, and it might not have been a fluke confined to Earth.

      Another way would be to detect an Earthlike atmosphere on one of the more than 1000 extrasolar planets already discovered. The Earth's atmosphere is a product of life. One of the experiments in the recent transit of Venus was to examine the Sun's spectrum in a reflection off a lunar crater - to measure the Venusian atmosphere. Why? We know what the Venusian atmosphere consists of. It was a proof of concept - making the examination of the Venusian atmosphere as difficult as possible to confirm that it's also possible to do the same for extrasolar planets.

      Richard Dawkins doesn't take the idea of seeding of life from elsewhere. It was a hypothetical. As an alternative to life arising here. Unlike Fred Hoyle, a British astronomer, who took it very seriously. Too seriously. It's been suggested that he failed to win a Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on solar nucleosynthesis because the adjudicating committee in Sweden didn't like his other ideas. Such as exobiology.

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    24. So we study astrobiology by studying terrabiology? That's dumb, even for you, Bachfiend. Astrobiology still hasn't been found, so a science dedicated to studying it is nonsensical.

      In the video, Dawkins doesn't say that life was seeded here by aliens, he says the possibility is there. But the possibility that God made us? He won't consider it. Why is that?

      If we called God something else, say King of Planet Nebagootoon, and said that heaven was just a parallel universe, Dawkins could muse all day long about the possibilities. But if we talk about God and heaven, he says "Silence! This is science! We do not discuss such fanciful, unprovable notions here!" Then he calls you a child abuser and accuses you of being guilty of everything evil ever done in the name of religion.

      The point is that scientists are supposed to deal in facts and hard evidence. Yet when they struggle to locate the origin of life they have to spin off into hypotheticals based on neither because they don't know the answer. The hardened anti-theist scientists simply know that the answer cannot be God, under any circumstances.

      I agree with Ben:

      "To him, a scientific worldview isn't one that demands hard evidence before belief, but simply one that is always and everywhere anti-religion."

      Also, Bachfiend, do you agree with Hoo that astrobiology is merely a trendy label? Why or why not?

      TRISH

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    25. Bach,

      While I think there would be much value in the discovery of a life form with some wild variance (or lack thereof) of genetic make up, why would the immediate assumption be extra terrestrial life?
      It could be, for example, that current model of evolution is incorrect. Even that a parallel evolutionary path was taken by some different form of life in a radically different environment, no?
      Then there is the whole idea of some weird (macro) superpositioning of matter to consider in such a hypothetical. Perhaps the mere search/observation for/of a complex molecule could cause it to come into being complete with a history. Kind of like Schrodinger's cat, if observed after several hours delay.
      Of course this is all way down the rabbit hole, but then assuming an organism has crossed the vastness and hostile regions we call 'space' (and the gulfs of time - however that works 'out there',), then survived entry into our atmosphere, and then adapted from a presumably small culture/population to thrive on earth would seem an even further stretch.
      After all, the superpositioning of micro particles is a known and well tested foundation of quantum mechanics. The implications of which are profound, especially when considering the 'time' factor.
      I think a more realistic term for these fields (astrobiology, exobiology, cryptid research etc on earth) would be paranormal research or perhaps 'parabiology'. They are all highly speculative and have no real basis currently.
      Interesting stuff, granted. But, not exactly 'hard science' at this point.
      Find an organism (or even a virus like thing) on Mars or Europa and then we have something to work with. Then we begin to see real science and not just educated speculation.
      Until then, it is most reasonable to begin the study of any such variation in genetic structure (if found on Earth) with a far more local scope.

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  4. Sour grapes, Mr. Egnor?

    Hoo

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    1. Yea. I'm crushed.

      It's tho diththapointing.

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    2. It's OK. I am sure Evolution News & Views will feature one of your future blog posts. Big fish in a small pond.

      Hoo

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  5. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyJune 13, 2013 at 7:47 AM

    Damn! I'm surprised!

    I thought Dawkins was a "gigantic lumbering robot" like everybody else.... didn't know he was special.

    Funny how that works, isn't it?

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  6. I am just shocked Mr Obama did not win.

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    1. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyJune 13, 2013 at 7:57 AM

      I hear he's lined up for the Transparency Prize.

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    2. He already won the Nobel Peace Prize. Interesting tidbit of trivia--Obama has launched more cruise missiles than any other Nobel Peace Prize winner.

      Ben

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    3. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyJune 13, 2013 at 8:12 AM

      More drone kills, too.

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    4. Obama <3's drones. For a while there his administration refused to rule out droning American citizens on American soil. What's worse is that 41% of Democrats were with him. And 26% of Republicans, I might add.

      Ben

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  7. Dawkins is in good company. Pretty much the whole list is a joke. Tells you something about the PC-addled mind of the average Prospect reader, I guess.

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  8. Sorry about their not being any Christian thinkers on the list, but the sad fact is, they haven’t had anything new to say for 800 years.

    -KW

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    1. KW,

      Leibniz? Newton? Bruno? Faraday? Kelvin? Joule? Pasteur? Planck? Price? Heisenberg? Gödel?
      Any of those names ring a bell?
      That's only a handful from the last three centuries, and that's only in the scientific fields.
      What a bigoted ignoramus you are, KW.
      It must take a serious effort to act that slack-jawed. Wouldn't it just be easier to THINK once in a while?

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    2. Their contributions where in spite of their Christianity, and quite often put them at odds with the Church. The assumption that there is a God hasn’t done a thing to advance human understanding. Quite the opposite in fact.

      -KW

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    3. Weak, KW. Really weak.
      A genuine milk toast argument.
      I can tell by your pathetic understanding of human enquiry that you are an unmotivated slob. Don't project that lack-lustre, slack jawed conformity on the rest of humanity.
      People are inspired by many things, and one of them is to understand the 'mind of God'.
      Some of the greatest scientists to ever have live have used that description (some precisely) to illustrate that which drives them.
      You don't get it?
      That's obvious, dolt.
      I doubt you find inspiration in anything besides the promise of a sensual experience and/or power over others.
      But I have a question for you. After reading your puerile trash for months now, I think I have you neatly pegged and I would really enjoy knowing: Are you an atheistic or theistic satanist?
      To which brand of the darkness do you owe your loyalty? One of the tools or one the 'beasts'?
      Are you a pawn of the Le Vayans or a Crowleyite?
      Come on now, be honest.
      Don't be ashamed.
      Own your hate.

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  9. “The hardened anti-theist scientists simply know that the answer cannot be God,”

    Yes Trish, that is the underlying assumption of the materialistic world-view that makes science possible.

    -KW

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    1. Once again, KW shows he hasn't got a clue what the scientific process is for or how it functions.
      More bullshit from the resident cultist.

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    2. LOL, priceless. So, KW, let's copy this over to a theoretical world in which fish are intelligent.

      KW the Fish: "Yes, Trish the Fish, the assumption that all there is is the ocean and its properties is what makes science possible. Now, let's get back to trying to figure out what this dangling hook is doing here and how that worm became impaled on it."

      Or....you can not tell science what kind of explanations are and aren't available to it, and just follow the evidence where it leads?...

      -Dave

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