Richard Dawkins Misquote?
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29-09-2011, 10:16 AM (This post was last modified: 29-09-2011 10:22 AM by Azaraith.)
Richard Dawkins Misquote?
I've been alternately reading and listening to an audiobook of The God Delusion and ran across a quote out of context from John Adams:

"This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!!!"

When the full quote is:

" Twenty times in the course of my late reading have I been on the point of breaking out, "This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!!!" But in this exclamation I would have been as fanatical as Bryant or Cleverly. Without religion this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company, I mean Hell."

I think that it is largely irrelevant what the founding fathers believed personally, but agree with Dawkins that it is clear that some were likely atheist and that they desired a secular government. The source of the quote is below:

http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/pds/...soncor.pdf

Does this bother anyone else? It seems like a mark that would diminish some of his credibility and provide a target for some theists as he spoke out against misquoting things earlier in the book...

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29-09-2011, 01:04 PM
RE: Richard Dawkins Misquote?
(29-09-2011 10:16 AM)Azaraith Wrote:  Does this bother anyone else? It seems like a mark that would diminish some of his credibility and provide a target for some theists as he spoke out against misquoting things earlier in the book...

It bothers me a LOT actually, as I study history. Historical truth is paramount, to me. You cannot lie, or skew reality to fit a modern ideal or whim. All too often people will try to bend facts to make a historical figure look more in line with their mode of thinking in a gross attempt at an appeal-to-authority fallacy, and I think the Founding Fathers are the most common example of this (understandably, as we based our society on their ideals, but still...) This is the exact same, to me, as when people use any other historical myth like "most wars are caused by religion", which is easily disproved with a few moments on Wikipedia, let alone real historical research.

Furthermore, how often do we, as atheists, become upset when someone tries to skew the words of Stephen Hawking, Carl Sagan, or Albert Einstein to try and fit the narrative of all scientists being religious? Just as it hurts their credibility, so too does it hurt Dawkins' credibility, and you're absolutely right in that, Azaraith.

This kind of behavior is grossly unacceptable. If you have a point to make with a historical figure, or the words one used, be honest about it and draw honest conclusions. Maybe your conclusions will be wrong, but at least you arrive at an honest assessment. Don't just flat-out misquote someone, because it is the exact same as lying.

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29-09-2011, 03:04 PM
RE: Richard Dawkins Misquote?
Hey, Azaraith.

I've always said that Richard Dawkins is a brilliant biologist, that he has an understanding of Darwinism that is second to none and that his book, The Selfish Gene, is probably one of the most important works of the 20th century. But he's a shitty social scientist. I wouldn't hang my entire critique of him on this one quote or imply that it shows a pattern (unless someone showed me evidence of a series of quote bending) but it does tarnish his credibility in that it's unacceptable. It's easy to misquote someone, so I ain't gonna crucify the guy, but the crime here is that Dawkins made it look like Adams was saying the exact opposite of what he was saying. I don't know Adams from a hole in the wall but reading that quote makes me figure he's anti-religious and that he (and his reputation) supports Dawkins' position, which, judging by the full quote, couldn't be further from the truth. If it was accidental, then I call shitty research. If it was intentional, then that's actually quite despicable.

All of that being said (and here is where my bias shines through) it doesn't shock me because pretty much the entirety of The God Delusion is crap. Also, I think Dawkins is fanatical, so the full quote actually makes a lot of sense to me. Oh, the ironing!

Hey, 17th.

I'm with you, but ixnay on the arway otnay ausedcay ybay eligionray. It'll get ya burnt at the stake round here. Oh, the ironing!

Peace and Love and Empathy,

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29-09-2011, 04:14 PM (This post was last modified: 29-09-2011 04:18 PM by 17thknight.)
RE: Richard Dawkins Misquote?
(29-09-2011 03:04 PM)Ghost Wrote:  Hey, 17th.

I'm with you, but ixnay on the arway otnay ausedcay ybay eligionray. It'll get ya burnt at the stake round here. Oh, the ironing!

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt

They can try to burn me on it, they can try, but like everyone who tries they will lose, and badly.

I had to erase a lot of this post because I began ranting. I get very riled up when people make obviously-wrong claims about history, because history is what I live for. I hate how many people THINK they know history, without having ever studied it in their lives. 99.99% of people couldn't even tell me what Tarraconensis and the Cantabrian Wars were without a Google search, but that sure doesn't stop them from making outrageous historical claims and thinking they're experts.

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29-09-2011, 04:43 PM
RE: Richard Dawkins Misquote?
(29-09-2011 04:14 PM)17thknight Wrote:  
(29-09-2011 03:04 PM)Ghost Wrote:  Hey, 17th.

I'm with you, but ixnay on the arway otnay ausedcay ybay eligionray. It'll get ya burnt at the stake round here. Oh, the ironing!

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt

They can try to burn me on it, they can try, but like everyone who tries they will lose, and badly.

I had to erase a lot of this post because I began ranting. I get very riled up when people make obviously-wrong claims about history, because history is what I live for. I hate how many people THINK they know history, without having ever studied it in their lives. 99.99% of people couldn't even tell me what Tarraconensis and the Cantabrian Wars were without a Google search, but that sure doesn't stop them from making outrageous historical claims and thinking they're experts.

Such is life, right? People love voicing opinions even when they haven't the faintest clue on the matter. I have the opposite problem - I can't effectively voice an opinion unless I'm 110% sure it's right. Which is why I say very little... I think most people just like hearing themselves talk and think they're smart because in their mind, they've got all the facts and understand them...

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29-09-2011, 05:05 PM
RE: Richard Dawkins Misquote?
(29-09-2011 04:43 PM)Azaraith Wrote:  Such is life, right? People love voicing opinions even when they haven't the faintest clue on the matter. I have the opposite problem - I can't effectively voice an opinion unless I'm 110% sure it's right. Which is why I say very little... I think most people just like hearing themselves talk and think they're smart because in their mind, they've got all the facts and understand them...

Very true. It's surprising how many people have firm opinions on things they don't really understand.

It's funny that we're having this discussion in a thread about Dawkins, given how many people adamantly have views on evolution yet have never studied biology in their lives.

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29-09-2011, 05:21 PM
RE: Richard Dawkins Misquote?
(29-09-2011 05:05 PM)17thknight Wrote:  
(29-09-2011 04:43 PM)Azaraith Wrote:  Such is life, right? People love voicing opinions even when they haven't the faintest clue on the matter. I have the opposite problem - I can't effectively voice an opinion unless I'm 110% sure it's right. Which is why I say very little... I think most people just like hearing themselves talk and think they're smart because in their mind, they've got all the facts and understand them...

Very true. It's surprising how many people have firm opinions on things they don't really understand.

It's funny that we're having this discussion in a thread about Dawkins, given how many people adamantly have views on evolution yet have never studied biology in their lives.

To be fair, one doesn't have to be a biologist to see that Creationism is crazy. Evolution being the best alternative to a theistic creation story (at least that I'm aware of), it makes sense that most rational people would adopt it. Most of us also studied biology in high school and have a passing understanding of Evolution. I never had that advantage as my high school was Christian and ignored science and math altogether... I studied economics in college (read: no biology courses). I have studied it as well as I can though by finding sources online and in textbooks... Does that count? Undecided

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29-09-2011, 05:23 PM
RE: Richard Dawkins Misquote?
(29-09-2011 05:21 PM)Azaraith Wrote:  To be fair, one doesn't have to be a biologist to see that Creationism is crazy. Evolution being the best alternative to a theistic creation story (at least that I'm aware of), it makes sense that most rational people would adopt it. Most of us also studied biology in high school and have a passing understanding of Evolution. I never had that advantage as my high school was Christian and ignored science and math altogether... I studied economics in college (read: no biology courses). I have studied it as well as I can though by finding sources online and in textbooks... Does that count? Undecided

Lol, well, mostly I was referring to the people who will adamantly say that evolution isn't real. That's really the difference, though, is that those who do study biology universally maintain one position, and those that do not study biology think they know better.

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29-09-2011, 05:51 PM
RE: Richard Dawkins Misquote?
(29-09-2011 10:16 AM)Azaraith Wrote:  I've been alternately reading and listening to an audiobook of The God Delusion and ran across a quote out of context from John Adams:

"This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!!!"

When the full quote is:

" Twenty times in the course of my late reading have I been on the point of breaking out, "This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!!!" But in this exclamation I would have been as fanatical as Bryant or Cleverly. Without religion this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company, I mean Hell."

I think that it is largely irrelevant what the founding fathers believed personally, but agree with Dawkins that it is clear that some were likely atheist and that they desired a secular government. The source of the quote is below:

http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/pds/...soncor.pdf

Does this bother anyone else? It seems like a mark that would diminish some of his credibility and provide a target for some theists as he spoke out against misquoting things earlier in the book...

Meh, its not like the opposite side does not do the same, intentionally I might add. So, I do not really see the problem.

Only a gullible buffoon is swayed by the quotes of people long dead.
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29-09-2011, 08:36 PM
RE: Richard Dawkins Misquote?
(29-09-2011 05:51 PM)mysticjbyrd Wrote:  
(29-09-2011 10:16 AM)Azaraith Wrote:  I've been alternately reading and listening to an audiobook of The God Delusion and ran across a quote out of context from John Adams:

"This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!!!"

When the full quote is:

" Twenty times in the course of my late reading have I been on the point of breaking out, "This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!!!" But in this exclamation I would have been as fanatical as Bryant or Cleverly. Without religion this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company, I mean Hell."

I think that it is largely irrelevant what the founding fathers believed personally, but agree with Dawkins that it is clear that some were likely atheist and that they desired a secular government. The source of the quote is below:

http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/pds/...soncor.pdf

Does this bother anyone else? It seems like a mark that would diminish some of his credibility and provide a target for some theists as he spoke out against misquoting things earlier in the book...

Meh, its not like the opposite side does not do the same, intentionally I might add. So, I do not really see the problem.

Only a gullible buffoon is swayed by the quotes of people long dead.

That's true, but less than 30 pages prior he had made a statement condemning other writers that mis-quote authors... I'm not saying I'd take whether Adams was an atheist, Christian or worshiper of Zeus to mean anything, but that it is a poor show for Dawkins. I'd actually argue that it's irrelevant what anyone else believes, all that matters is fact and rationality - which you don't have to take anyone's word for.

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