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Atheist/Humanist Spokesmen With a Positive Image {200 word post maximum}
Posted: 11 August 2008 06:15 PM   [ Ignore ]
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{200 word maximum}
Traveler and I were discussing atheist/humanist celebrities and noted that people like Dawkins, while having much good information is pompous, patronizing, makes statements most of us agree with (but as opinion) as fact, is snotty when responding to even reasonable questions.  I can understand them getting frustated by the frequent attacks they must endure, but as spokesman they have to remain pleasant and present an attractive persona if we hope to have people listen and consider our tenets. 

Comments and suggestions?

Occam
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Edited title to clarify post length.

[ Edited: 20 August 2008 06:18 PM by Occam ]
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Posted: 11 August 2008 06:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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No suggestions, just an observation. When anything of note happens in the African American community, I watch all of the journalist run to Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, to get their pronouncement on what African Americans think of whatever happened. As if African Americans do ANY thing in lockstep. I can’t stand and don’t agree with much either of these people say. When journalist want an opinion of Atheist, they first run to Dawkins, as if he can speak for all atheists. While I agree with a good number of his views, all atheist do not think in lockstep! I haven’t seen Dawkins say anything to promote that view ( However, I have not seen all of his speeches, and I am not particularly enamored of his web site.).

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Church; where sheep congregate to worship a zombie on a stick that turns into a cracker on Sundays…

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Posted: 11 August 2008 06:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I’ve complained a lot here about the greatest attention in the mainstream media being given to the shrillest voices in atheism. Doug’s usual response, which makes sense, is that a variety of voices is the best strategy to reach the boradest audience, and that motivational “rallying the troops” has its place too. I miss Carl Sagan, though.

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Posted: 11 August 2008 07:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Occam - 11 August 2008 06:15 PM

{200 word maximum}
Traveler and I were discussing atheist/humanist celebrities and noted that people like Dawkins, while having much good information is pompous, patronizing, makes statements most of us agree with (but as opinion) as fact, is snotty when responding to even reasonable questions.  I can understand them getting frustated by the frequent attacks they must endure, but as spokesman they have to remain pleasant and present an attractive persona if we hope to have people listen and consider our tenets. 

Comments and suggestions?

Occam
81 words

I hate to blow my own son’s horn, but this is one of Matthew’s central messages, and he’s an excellent example of how to be persuasive with class and dignity. He puts me thoroughly to shame.

He’ll be starting college at the New School in Manhattan in a few weeks. Though he has his plate full, I encourage anyone who is interested in a spokesperson for our issues to consider him.

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I cannot in good conscience support CFI under the current leadership. I am here in dissent and in support of a Humanism that honors and respects everyone.

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Posted: 11 August 2008 09:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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The first thing that came to mind when reading the OP was something Richard had said in a Discussion between Richard and PZ Myers - At one min.. He says that at Oxford College when he happens to be the senior fellow he says the Grace - Halfway down page. He does so because he thinks it is polite, a tradition and it would be petty to refuse to say Grace which would give atheism a bad name. The prayer is obviously contrary to Richards beliefs, but he recites them for the above reasons.

Edit: I apologize, on second thought I realize it’s not really related to the topic. Besides it gave PZ a chance to say he was less of an ‘appeaser’ than Richard.

[ Edited: 11 August 2008 09:20 PM by jholt ]
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Posted: 11 August 2008 10:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I think there is a problem with scientists in general being spokespeople.  By temperament and training, they are thick-skinned and critical of ideas.  Knocking down bad ideas is how science identifies the good ones.

Carl Sagan was a notable exception, as Neil Degrasse Tyson is now—there’s something about astronomers.

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Posted: 11 August 2008 11:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I like Neil deGrasse Tyson as well. A group of prominent atheists made “beyond belief”, it’s a video where Tyson among other prominent scientists discuss atheism.  This is all done by an organization called the science network, their are a bunch of people on the video that would make good spokes people for atheism.

That being said I think atheism needs as many spokespeople as possible. I think you get a 2d view of atheism/humanism when only one person is used to represent 10% of the population.

beyond belief

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Posted: 12 August 2008 05:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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One of our main problems is that many of our best spokespeople won’t identify themselves as humanists or secularists. This is a variation on the problem of seeing ourselves outside our own culture. We’ve self-identified ourselves out of the game, to such an extent that anyone who does what this topic suggests is reluctant to be associated with us. I believe when that changes, more spokespeople will emerge.

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I cannot in good conscience support CFI under the current leadership. I am here in dissent and in support of a Humanism that honors and respects everyone.

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Posted: 12 August 2008 05:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Thanks Occam,

Yes, looking at the big picture I see that there must be many intelligent people caught in familial and cultural religious dogma who feel uncomfortable with the many falsehoods they are expected to regurgitate. But where do they go for a suitable substitute that can provide a sense of friendship and fellowship? CFI provides some excellent centers, but they are geographically sparse compared to “holy” buildings.

I think PLC has a tremendous resource in his son. If his son presents a friendly and non-judgemental attitude to other people, and if he is a respected person with a kind heart, he should naturally draw others from their dogma - but that’s just one person. Hypnos is right in general about scientists making not-so-great spokespersons. I agree with danlhinz in his estimation of Neil deGrasse Tyson. Tyson has terrific charisma - but he does not (so far as I know) draw attention to atheism. I’m not saying he should either, because his role as a science teacher should be devoid of such matters because that silence speaks volumes.

We need, I think, someone with Obama’s charisma (pick someone else if you don’t like him) who can speak in a non-threatening, . . . {Sorry, but I had to cut you off at 200 words.}

[ Edited: 12 August 2008 11:18 AM by Occam ]
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Posted: 12 August 2008 06:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Even though I think Dawkins is wrong to blame religion for many of the evils of our world (911, for example), I appreciate his ability to speak, think, and write logically, clearly and, above all, with a sense of humor.

I think we all miss Sagan not because he was a nice guy (I heard he wasn’t), but because he was a great artist with the ability to communicate his ideas to the public. Dawkins also tries, but his heart, I believe, lies elsewhere; as much as wants to sound poetic once in a while, he’s more effective as a popular science writer — I found his Ancestor’s Tale absolutely brilliant. And Tyson somehow misses Sagan’s level of sophistication. Not sure what to expect of Harris. Before I’ll fall in love with him, I want to hear from him what it is he finds so fascinating about Budhism and “debatable” about reincarnation.

Being nice and Humanist won’t get you far. If you want people to pay attention to you, you need to stand out, be different and be creative. Just like Gene Roddenberry or Carl Sagan were.

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Posted: 12 August 2008 07:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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George - 12 August 2008 06:53 AM

Even though I think Dawkins is wrong to blame religion for many of the evils of our world (911, for example), I appreciate his ability to speak, think, and write logically, clearly and, above all, with a sense of humor.

I think he does that much better in his writing than in his speaking (to kids, for example.)

I think we all miss Sagan not because he was a nice guy (I heard he wasn’t), but because he was a great artist with the ability to communicate his ideas to the public. Dawkins also tries, but his heart, I believe, lies elsewhere; as much as wants to sound poetic once in a while, he’s more effective as a popular science writer — I found his Ancestor’s Tale absolutely brilliant. And Tyson somehow misses Sagan’s level of sophistication. Not sure what to expect of Harris. Before I’ll fall in love with him, I want to hear from him what it is he finds so fascinating about Budhism and “debatable” about reincarnation.

Agreed

Being nice and Humanist won’t get you far. If you want people to pay attention to you, you need to stand out, be different. . .

{Sorry, Traveler.  You exceeded the 200 word limit again.  It would probably help you if you avoided copying complete paragraphs.}

[ Edited: 12 August 2008 11:24 AM by Occam ]
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Posted: 12 August 2008 07:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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traveler - 12 August 2008 07:08 AM

True, so far as individual star-power, but if all of us are nice and Humanist - with perhaps a bit more humility, we would be more attractive to those who might approach us.

Hmm, not sure. Whenever I see humility I suspect either naivety or hypocrisy. Call me a cynic. Humans respond to the laws of nature just like everything else in the universe. I am as skeptical about people being nice as I am about Andromeda being nice and not colliding with the Milky Way. Even Einstein knew that he was wrong to propagate pacifism after it was too late.

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Posted: 12 August 2008 07:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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George - 12 August 2008 07:42 AM

Whenever I see humility I suspect either naivety or hypocrisy. Call me a cynic.

You’re a cynic, George!

LOL

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Posted: 12 August 2008 07:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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dougsmith - 12 August 2008 07:43 AM
George - 12 August 2008 07:42 AM

Whenever I see humility I suspect either naivety or hypocrisy. Call me a cynic.

You’re a cynic, George!

LOL


downer


Sometimes I think I should have stuck to the novels. All the romanticism evaporated from my soul the day I read Dawkins’s Selfish Gene.

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Posted: 12 August 2008 08:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Nah, you’re pretty cool George. My experience has been that those lacking humility are the more insecure and defensive persons, while those who are confident exhibit more patience (and humility) with those not yet “caught up”.

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Posted: 12 August 2008 08:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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traveler - 12 August 2008 08:10 AM

Nah, you’re pretty cool George.

Thanks for being nice ( wink )  to me, Traveler.

traveler - 12 August 2008 08:10 AM

My experience has been that those lacking humility are the more insecure and defensive persons, while those who are confident exhibit more patience (and humility) with those not yet “caught up”.

Indeed. That ‘s why Doug and Spock don’t get upset. But what are the chances that the rest will “catch up”? What is the correlation between insecurity and I.Q., for example? Or insecurity and social status? Or insecurity and physical attractiveness? Or whatever…

I wish the scientists (Dawkins included) payed a bit more attention to the psychologists. Maybe with the help of neuroscience we will be able to answer more questions why we behave the way we do, and if we somehow forget about the fear of being accused of Social Darwinism, maybe we can even act upon the findings of the psychologists and the neuroscientists.

[ Edited: 12 August 2008 08:44 AM by George ]
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