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The Sciences

Counterproductive Attacks on Religion--Exhibit A

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneyOctober 22, 2009 5:53 PM


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After much controversy and much investigation, it now seems clear that the story told by "Tom Johnson" below is not credible. Details are here and here. I regret giving it the attention that I did with this post.

Reacting to a previous post, a scientist named Tom Johnson left a comment so striking that I believe it deserves greater attention. Here it is:

Many of my colleagues are fans of Dawkins, PZ, and their ilk and make a point AT CONSERVATION EVENTS to mock the religious to their face, shout forced laughter at them, and call them “stupid,” “ignorant” and the like – and these are events hosted by religious moderates where we’ve been ASKED to attend. They think it’s the way to be a good scientist, after all.

So what do you think happens when you spit in someone’s face, mock them openly, figuratively throw them to the ground and kick dirt in their face – and then ask “now we really need your help!!”? When my colleagues do this, you can watch the attention visibly disappear from the crowd when you finally start talking about conservation and real science.

That’s the problem with the blogosphere – you can say all the extreme, controversial things you want without consequences. But when your readers start echoing those things to the public (the people that science desperately needs to translate research to action), I’m afraid the consequences are rather severe.

Exactly. In the real world, it is vastly more important to build bridges with those who might be different from ourselves so as to achieve shared goals, than to score intellectual points when only a small and relatively homogenous intellectual group is even keeping track of those points.

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