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← A note about the 'Richard Dawkins Award' being presented to Bill Maher this weekend

A note about the 'Richard Dawkins Award' being presented to Bill Maher this weekend - Comments

Mango's Avatar Comment 1 by Mango

Bill Maher is a great voice of reason (much but not all of the time) and as an AAI member I'm happy with this recognition of him.

Tue, 29 Sep 2009 21:35:00 UTC | #401935

Sally Luxmoore's Avatar Comment 2 by Sally Luxmoore

I have no problem with this. I enjoyed Religulous.
I am also very grateful to this site for introducing me (as a Brit) to Bill Maher and especially his 'New Rules', which I think are brilliant and frequently hilarious.
In my view, Bill deserves recognition for his many years of courageous opposition to religion in America. I understand that he has to live constantly with bodyguards because of it.

Tue, 29 Sep 2009 21:42:00 UTC | #401938

TIKI AL's Avatar Comment 3 by TIKI AL

Great news. 2 of my favorite people. I don't suppose this will be televised, right?

I rented "Religulous" and passed it off to 6 neighbors including Mormons and Catholics before returning it.

Tue, 29 Sep 2009 22:02:00 UTC | #401946

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 4 by mordacious1

Bill Maher has some questionable opinions on certain issues, but he is spot on when it comes to religions and made up gods. Good for him to earn this award.

Tue, 29 Sep 2009 22:12:00 UTC | #401948

HughCaldwell's Avatar Comment 5 by HughCaldwell

What's AAI? American Atheists something, I suppose.

Tue, 29 Sep 2009 22:17:00 UTC | #401950

ContainsCaffeine's Avatar Comment 6 by ContainsCaffeine

Maher's attitudes towards alt-med deserve criticism, but there is a proper forum for that (Like the forum on this page for instance!). Disrupting or protesting this award is silly. The award is for his work in the atheist community, and for that it is deserved.

Keep up the irreverence, but keep it up in a place and format that is constructive!

Tue, 29 Sep 2009 22:19:00 UTC | #401952

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 7 by Steve Zara

I wasn't going to post for a while, but I have been following the issue of the award to Maher recently. I had thought and hoped that it was some kind of mistake. I see it wasn't. I now see that Sam Harris was right when he talked about the problem with the label "atheist". It is a political label, not one based on rationalism. I refuse to support a generalised battle against religion, as the real battle should be for reason and science. Maher is a very poor supporter of either reason or science with his crank views.

If RichardDawkins.net is really about a campaign against religion, as against supporting reason, then I was wrong to register an account here. I am deeply disappointed that someone who uses their position as a celebrity to rubbish so much science is being promoted by this site, and given an award with Richard's name.

Tue, 29 Sep 2009 22:19:00 UTC | #401953

Acumen's Avatar Comment 8 by Acumen

I'm with Steve Zara, and would like to propose a comparison for your consideration:

"You don't need to get treatment from a doctor. Mainstream medicine is controlled by Big Pharma and poisons you. All you need to stay healthy is to get natural cures from alternative therapists."

"You don't need to get treatment from a doctor. Turning to medicine is showing a lack of trust in God and will endanger your soul. All you need to stay healthy is to trust in the Lord."

How, exactly, would the proponents of those two claims be any different? And why would you denounce one and give a free pass to the other?

Steve's got it dead on. Getting rid of religion won't do us any good if people just turn to homeopathy or quack treatments or astrology for comfort instead. Promotion of reason and science is the only way to solve the root of the problem that is irrational thinking, of which religion is only a symptom.

Tue, 29 Sep 2009 22:44:00 UTC | #401960

scarecroe's Avatar Comment 10 by scarecroe

Steve, you make it sound like Maher is anti-science. This may be true, I don't know. I would like to learn more. Can someone point me to some observations about Maher's condoning of anti-scientific alternative medicines?

Tue, 29 Sep 2009 22:47:00 UTC | #401963

Mango's Avatar Comment 9 by Mango

Steve,

The AAI and its mission is compatible with the RDF, but does not reflect the entirety of the foundation. I think that's where you went off the rails.

This website, as you know from reading the varied stories posted here, is about rebuking superstition as well as promoting science news and scientists' views and, above all, reason.

Tue, 29 Sep 2009 22:47:00 UTC | #401962

gf1's Avatar Comment 11 by gf1

‘Religulous’ wasn't very good either. And it used the same tactics (fake movie name, misrepresenting it's makers intent, etc) that people here have complained about so loudly with 'Expelled'.

Saying that, Maher is a comedian, and may just be misinformed about some medical matters. Has anyone seen him take part in a debate of any real length? If he's just been misled by some alternative claims, I don't see why he should be treated like a heretic.

Tue, 29 Sep 2009 22:48:00 UTC | #401964

Mango's Avatar Comment 12 by Mango

Acumen: Getting rid of religion won't do us any good if people just turn to homeopathy or quack treatments or astrology for comfort instead.


Exactly so. And Dr. Dawkins produced "The Enemies of Reason" to address this matter.

Tue, 29 Sep 2009 22:49:00 UTC | #401965

TIKI AL's Avatar Comment 13 by TIKI AL

Hugh Caldwell @ 5:

I think the AAI that is giving the award is Atheist Alliance International.

But given Bill has a problem with flu shots it might be the American Association of Immunologists.

And since he also climbs mountains of intolerance, it could be the American Alpine Institute.

Oh crap, now you've got me confused.

Tue, 29 Sep 2009 22:49:00 UTC | #401966

Duae Quartunciae's Avatar Comment 15 by Duae Quartunciae

There would be better ways to recognize your appreciation of his film. The problem is that your criteria for the award are as follows:

The Richard Dawkins Award will be given every year to honor an outstanding atheist whose contributions raise public awareness of the nontheist life stance; who through writings, media, the arts, film, and/or the stage advocates increased scientific knowledge; who through work or by example teaches acceptance of the nontheist philosophy; and whose public posture mirrors the uncompromising nontheist life stance of Dr. Richard Dawkins.

Bill Maher, as it stands at present, doesn't meet these requirements; specifically the advocacy of increased scientific knowledge.

The difficulty with people like Mr Maher is the same as the difficulty with creationists or advocates of "intelligent design". They don't actually engage the scientific issues or appear to understand how science actually works.

This selection devalues the award, and gives more support to the notion that much of the advocacy for atheism simply decides if people are rationalist only on the basis of their attitude to God, rather than actually being committed to reason and rationalism first, and letting atheism be a consequence.

Tue, 29 Sep 2009 23:00:00 UTC | #401968

alaskansee's Avatar Comment 14 by alaskansee

Zara,

Big part of the above article went into how it is possible to support people some of the time BUT NOT ALL OF THE TIME.

Not sure what isn't clear about this, I suspect you haven't voted for a while/forever?

I signed up on this .net to hear interesting views on science and other science related stuff. I for one am not about to throw the baby out with the bath water because of a link to this occurrence. I've always enjoyed your comments and would hate to lose you based on unrelated maters.

Seems someone was quite annoyed about links to Pharyngula too recently but again if we don't talk to people we mildly disagree with what about the people we totally disagree with?

Bill is funny and dislikes religion, Richard is not funny and dislikes religion. Bill is against marrage, Richard is married. I hope he will accept the award from a married man, ooh! Our paths cross sometimes with people who have come to the same place by very different means, don't leave us Steve.............

Tue, 29 Sep 2009 23:00:00 UTC | #401967

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 16 by Steve Zara

Richard Dawkins is the best supporter of reason and science alive today. His new book (which I have just finished reading) is a wonderful addition to his work, and his writing is better than ever.

I have no problem at all with his association with Christopher Hitchens (even though I disagree with much that Hitchens says), and I have no doubt that Richard's work with Bishop Harries in promoting the teaching of evolution wasn't valuable.

But in both cases, Richard was promoting reason.

But when you give an award, that is to the whole person, and the whole person of Maher frankly stinks when it comes to reason and science.

This is an unwise award, and will do much harm.

EDIT:
Comment #420153 by Duae Quartunciae

increased scientific knowledge


There is no doubt that Maher has failed in this.

Richard. If you read this, there is a chance for you to do a lot of good by refusing this award. Otherwise, you are helping promote damaging pseudo-science.

Tue, 29 Sep 2009 23:02:00 UTC | #401970

alaskansee's Avatar Comment 17 by alaskansee

Yes, yes but don't leave Steve.

Tue, 29 Sep 2009 23:03:00 UTC | #401971

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 18 by Steve Zara

Comment #420156 by alaskansee

I won't call myself an atheist if Maher is going to be publicly identified as a celebrated example of what prominent atheists consider award-worthy.

I support science, and reason, passionately, and, of course, will continue to do so. But if the support of a position called "atheism" leads to awards to people like Maher, then count me out.

Tue, 29 Sep 2009 23:09:00 UTC | #401974

Sally Luxmoore's Avatar Comment 19 by Sally Luxmoore

But Steve - Richard isn't giving it. Or if he is handing it over, then I presume it's just from the previous holder to the next one.
I thought that the award had been named after Richard (as the first recipient I presumed) but that the giving of it was decided by others.
I don't really see why this has to be such a big deal. If there's a problem, isn't it AAI's, rather than RD.net's?

Edit: Do we have to be so desperately serious? I'm happy for a bit of light heartedness and comedy to get a regular look-in.

Tue, 29 Sep 2009 23:12:00 UTC | #401975

NewEnglandBob's Avatar Comment 20 by NewEnglandBob

15. Comment #420153 by Duae Quartunciae

Your comment is the most persuasive.

Tue, 29 Sep 2009 23:15:00 UTC | #401977

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 21 by Steve Zara

Comment #420160 by Sally Luxmoore

Josh has posted here that Richard is happy to go along with the award.

Edit: Do we have to be so desperately serious? I'm happy for a bit of light heartedness and comedy to get a regular look-in.


I'm afraid we have to be serious. Maher is rubbishing medical science. His quackery has to be exposed, and, I honestly feel, should not be supported in any way by those who stand for science and reason. Maher's views aren't abstract religious platitudes.

Tue, 29 Sep 2009 23:18:00 UTC | #401979

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 23 by mordacious1

Here are the other winners...and no, Richard wasn't the first:

Past recipients
2003 — James Randi (inaugural award)
2004 — Ann Druyan
2005 — Penn and Teller
2006 — Julia Sweeney
2007 — Daniel Dennett
2008 — Ayaan Hirsi Ali
2009 — Bill Maher

Tue, 29 Sep 2009 23:21:00 UTC | #401981

alaskansee's Avatar Comment 22 by alaskansee

Steve

I like one of the comments on the thread about chris hedges, he tries to lump all of us "atheists" together as if not believing in something makes us a group. The comment was, I paraphrase, "how can such anamorphose unstructured group ever be considered a homogeneous group"

Tue, 29 Sep 2009 23:21:00 UTC | #401980

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 24 by Steve Zara

Comment #420160 by Sally Luxmoore

Sally - do you think it is appropriate for the finest living science writer and educator to have his name associated with Maher, who isn't even sure that vaccines work?

Tue, 29 Sep 2009 23:24:00 UTC | #401982

Sally Luxmoore's Avatar Comment 25 by Sally Luxmoore

Steve -
It certainly makes me uncomfortable, when you put it like that!
But It's Maher's views on Religion and his very effective use of comedy to make his points that are the focus of this award, as far as I can tell.
It's not as if the award is in our gift, decided by a vote of all RD.net-ers...

Tue, 29 Sep 2009 23:32:00 UTC | #401985

Fuller's Avatar Comment 26 by Fuller

This isn't a small issue. Maher is a nut, and I'm done with Real Time after seeing his latest pro-alternative medicine rant. Again and again he comes down on the wrong side of the argument in regards to medicine. He genuinely believes, among other crazy things, that the pharmaceutical industry is engaged in a conspiracy to keep people sick (and therefore keep buying their products). He is opposed to vaccinations. He thinks that cancer treatments haven't improved at all in the past 50 years, and he thinks you can get locked up in the US for even talking about alternative cancer treatments. Being able to spread this rubbish on TV makes him positively dangerous.

I must say I'm disappointed about this award. I would hope that Richard, at the very least, makes it clear that he does not support these views, and in fact actively opposes them. Because they are the views of a paranoid, deluded, anti-science crackpot.

Tue, 29 Sep 2009 23:36:00 UTC | #401988

Aratina Cage's Avatar Comment 28 by Aratina Cage

I won't call myself an atheist if Maher is going to be publicly identified as a celebrated example of what prominent atheists consider award-worthy.
Oh come on. You've always known "atheist" had nothing to do with anything except no belief in a god. Why would you just now decide not to call yourself atheist over this flap when we've had countless prestigious atheists who were flat out bonkers for as far back as history has been recorded? If you really can't accept this award going to Maher, then don't join AAI (or cancel your membership if you have already joined), but don't act like being an atheist means you have to agree with AAI.

Tue, 29 Sep 2009 23:39:00 UTC | #401990

root2squared's Avatar Comment 27 by root2squared

24. Comment #420167 by Steve Zara

do you think it is appropriate for the finest living science writer and educator to have his name associated with Maher, who isn't even sure that vaccines work?


Shouldn't it be upto the finest living science writer and educator to decide whether his name should be associated with Maher?

Tue, 29 Sep 2009 23:39:00 UTC | #401989

Fuller's Avatar Comment 29 by Fuller

Shouldn't it be upto the finest living science writer and educator to decide whether his name should be associated with Maher?


I'm not convinced Richard is aware of just how crazy Maher's views on medicine are. I have a feeling that if he did, he would not be comfortable associating with him.

Tue, 29 Sep 2009 23:42:00 UTC | #401992

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 30 by Steve Zara

Comment #420170 by Sally Luxmoore

You sum up why I am uncomfortable!

Richard Dawkins has, for decades, been for me the most eloquent exponent of reason. He really taught me about the excitement of science, and the humility of scientists.

Perhaps the most significant thing that he wrote, for me, was when he changed his mind about the handicap principle - when evidence and reason showed that he was wrong. Richard's description of that situation has been an inspiration to me.

So I can't understand an award in Richard's name which seems to me to be promoting a dogmatic position - pure atheism. I had hoped that Dawkins would be associated forever with going where the independent scientific evidence led, and that is certainly not something that Maher supports.

I totally support atheism, but only if it is the result of rational investigation. Imposed atheism, be it by politics, or culture, or even by following a comedian, is against rationality.

Tue, 29 Sep 2009 23:43:00 UTC | #401994