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August 02, 2014



Great post, Chris!

"For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction." ~ Kahlil Gibran ('The Prophet')

Trumpton riots

I fully take the point of this post.

But then it becomes a battle between what is and what isn't taboo. I think flying an Israeli flag in public is taboo, but some still do it. The official taboo is never personal but related to the balance of power, brainwashing etc i.e. separated from rational thinking.

Freedom of speech is a battleground.

Allowing people to be rational is something the system fights against. It is a revolutionary act to fight for rational thinking, even if it is naive and often misused.


Isn't "Your a cunt" the traditional way to address Prof Dawkins? Rather than "You're...."?

I would expect an Oakshottian to respect such traditions, even if the reason for that tradition is lost in twitter history.

Ben Greenhalgh

Very interesting view, one I fully agree with. I think Dawkin missed the point on this. I would have loved to have found out his motivation for such a emotion enducing prod. The fact that he brings this up shows his inability to understand a world outside logic. He examines rape as if its effects are quantifiable, as a rule based concept dependent upon the severity of the event. Great post.


Dawkins is wrong about why people don't like what he's saying. His main problem is that he's not backing his claims up with any evidence, because no evidence exists.

Being assaulted at knifepoint is obviously horrifying, but it's really not obvious to me that it's worse than being, say, assaulted in your own home by someone that you personally know and trust. It's certainly not obvious that Richard Dawkins is in possession of any particular insight into this question.

The whole point of "which bad thing would you rather have happen to you" games is that people's answers are often surprising and subjective. It really does depend on who the person is and how trauma affects them, and since traumas of that level of seriousness are thankfully rare, there's not a lot of data to enable us to predict the outcome ahead of time.

The problem is that he is being perfectly rational in the context of a set of assumptions about what rape is like, and he's interpreting people's disagreement as being an emotional "yuck factor" response to his mention of the r-word, rather than a critique of the lack of support for his conclusions.


Rob, I think you're missing Dawkins' point, which he could have made equally well by saying date rape is worse than knife rape.


Chris, I expect your general point on Dawkins and his rationality is right. His specific point here though is really quite important and, I think, worth making.

Often people that suggest gradations of terrible and (normally also) sexual things, get shouted down as in some way endorsing or dismissing the lesser evil.

This could be a good thing. It could be that ackowledging that some rape is worse than others make some men more likely to commit the 'lesser' rape.

But it could also be that refusing to acknowledge gradations gives the very people that you need to persuade and excuse to ignore you.

Given the reaction to Dawkinss tweets, I suspect it would be quite difficult to have a reasonable and public discourse on which effect dominates.


Rob is correct. It is noticeable that only rape seems to get this kind of attempt at grading. I never seem to hear people say some murders are worse than others or some armed robberies are not so bad. Rather than being a master of logic Dawkins is just reproducing the widespread social "meme" that excuses rape in possibly consensual contexts as not somehow being rape.

As we know from statistics that it is rare for rape to involve abduction by knife wielding strangers and most victim knows the rapist I do not see what good this evidence free throw away twitter controversy does. It merely shows up the boredom Dawkins must feel now he is retired as an academic and has too much time on his hands.


Yeh, Dawkins is so rational his thoughts on religion led him to approve of that scumbag Sam Harris. There's rationalism and there's rationalism.

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