Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Shallow World of Conrad Black

Why anyone would care why convicted felon Conrad Black has to say is beyond me.

Why anyone would give this supercilious dolt 1500 words in a major newspaper to attack atheists is also beyond me.

Nevertheless, that's what the National Post just did.

Bigotry against religious denominations is not generally tolerated. But bigotry against atheists gets 1500 words. As a thought experiment, what major newspaper in North America would publish a column entitled "The shabby, shallow world of the militant Jew"?

There's really no point fisking this crap in detail; it's already been done a million times before, since Conrad Black literally has not a single original word to say. I'll just point out a few things:

"militant atheist": as I've said before, it's a good bet that if you hear somebody repeat this cliché, you're dealing with a propagandist or shoddy thinker. Black repeats the cliché several times. People like Peter Singer and Richard Rorty are derided as "vocal atheistic militants", but then what is the term for John Lennox, the glowing subject of the column? Is he not a "vocal Christian militant"? (And who the heck is the "David Hawking" that Black refers to?)

"Dr. Lennox is one of the world’s most eminent mathematicians": No, I'm sorry, he's not. This is a typical example of credential inflation, one of the favorite tools of creationists and propagandists. You should not be surprised to see Conrad Black use it.

Dr. Lennox is certainly a good group theorist, but "one of the world's most eminent mathematicians" is a gross exaggeration that, I dare say, even the good Dr. Lennox himself would disavow. Dr. Lennox has not won the Fields medal. Dr. Lennox has not won the Cole Prize in Algebra, Dr. Lennox's field. As far as I can see, Dr. Lennox has not won any mathematical prizes at all. According to MathSciNet, the main reviewing journal in mathematics, Dr. Lennox has published 70 works since 1970, or about 1.6 papers per year. This is a good, but not outstanding record. His papers have received a total of 292 citations. (By contrast, MathSciNet says I have published 182 papers since 1975, which have received a total of 1125 citations. And I want to emphasize that I am certainly not "one of the world's most eminent mathematicians".)

All this pompous protestation aside, Black is on the losing end of this debate. More and more young people are rejecting the bogus claims of organized religion. Christianity and Islam cannot survive in their present form; it's only a matter of time. Either they will dominate the world through totalitarianism, or evolve closer to Deism, or they will slowly vanish.


Randy said...

"major newspaper"

Well, that's it right there. No reason to be upset. Unless.... has the National Post suddenly become major?

Paul said...

I'm having trouble getting past this sentence in Black's column:

People like Bernard Shaw, Bertrand Russell and Sigmund Freud, wrote and spoke well, and were more able than is rigorously admissible now to cloak themselves in the inexorable march of science and reason.

Is he saying that Shaw et al. cloaked themselves better than we are now inclined to admit? Or is he saying that it is now more difficult to cloak oneself in the march of science? I think it's probably the latter, though I beg to differ ("spooky physics" != "God exists" if that was where he was going with it).

It's also typical of prejudice to single out the "good atheists" (all conveniently dead). I skimmed through the rest of it (including the obligatory Nazi reference) but there didn't seem to anything very new or interesting.

aljones909 said...

Have these creepy millionaires and billionaires actually read the words attributed to Jesus? Surely they should convert to a religion that promotes the screwing of the poor and disadvantaged.