Friday, November 06, 2009

Dawkins causes population crisis shock!

Further to my last post I read today that Dawkins is being blamed for falling birth rates across Europe! This would be laughable, but for the fact that our government has recently seen fit to elevate the author of this nonsense, Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, to a position in the upper house of this country's Parliament. His argument appears to be that secularism equals selfishness and immorality. This is an old, tired, and completely wrong proposition that is regularly wheeled out by theists and has long-since been proved utterly fallacious. Dawkins himself dealt with it in The God Delusion, a book that Sacks appears to have either not read, or not understood. It is truly scary that someone who thinks that all morality flows from belief in mystical sky-gods occupies a position in the government of this country. (And I'm not even going to deal with the fact that he thinks a falling birth rate is a bad thing...)


  1. Quantum religio potuit suadere malorum.

  2. A fellow Dawkins fan, I would be interested to know what you think of his thoughs on Family Law from an extract from the Selfish Gene:

    This talk of laughing all the way to the bank reminds be of a delightful line from Shakespear:
    "The first thing we do, let' kill all the lawyers." 2 Henry VI
    In what are called civil "disputes" there is often in fact great scope for cooperation. What looks like a zero sum confrontation can, with a little goodwill, be transformed into a mutually beneficial nonzero sum game. Consider divorce. A good marriage is obviously a non zero sum game, brimming with mutual cooperation. But even when it breaks down there are all sorts of reasons why a couple could benefit by continuing to cooperate, and treating thei divorce, too, as a nonzero sum. As if child welfare were not a sufficient reason , the fees of two lawyers will make a nasty dent in the family finances. So obviously a sensible and civilized couple begin by going together to see one lawyer, don't they?
    Well, actually no. At least in England and, until recently , in all fifty states of the USA the law, or more strictly-and significantly-the lawyers' own professional code, doesn't allow them to. Lawyers must accept only one member of a couple as a client. The other person is turned from the door, and either has no legal advice at all or is forced to go to another lawyer. And that is when the fun begins. In separate chambers but with one voice the two lawyers immediately start referring to "us" and "them". "Us", you understand, doesn't mean me and my wife; it means me and my lawyer against her and her lawyer.
    When the case comes to court, it is actually listed as "Smith versus Smith"! It is assumed to be adversarial, whether the couple feel adversarial or not, whether or not they have specifically agreed that they want want to be sensibly amicable. And who benefits from treating it as an "I win, you lose' tussle? The chances are, only the lawyers.
    The hapless couple have been dragged into a zero sum game. For the lawyers, however, the case of Smith v. Smith is a nice fate nonzero sum game, with the Smiths providing the payoffs and the two "professionals" milking their clients' joint account in elaborately coded cooperation. One way in which they cooperate is to make a series of proposals that they both know the other side will not accept. This prompts a counter proposal that, again both know is unacceptable. And so it goes on. Every letter every telephone call exchanged between the cooperating "adversaries" adds another wad to the bill. With luck this procedure can be dragged out for months or even years, with costs mounting in parallel. the lawyers don't get together to work all this out. On the contrary, it is ironically their scrupulous separateness that is the chief instrument of their cooperation at the expense of the clients. The lawyers may not even be aware of what they are doing.
    Like the vampire bats we shall meet in a moment, they are playing to well-ritualized rules. The system work without any conscious overseeing or organizing. It is all geared to forcing us into zero sum games. Zero sum for the clients, but very much nonzero sum for the lawyers.
    What is to be done? The Shakespeare option is messy. It would be cleaner to get the law changed. But most parliamentarians are drawn from the legal profession and have a zero sum mentality. It is hard to imagine a more adversarial atmosphere than the British House of commons. (The law courst as least preserve the decencies of debate.
    As well they might, since "my learned friend and I' are cooperating very nicely all the way to the bank.) Perhaps well-meaning legislators and, indeed, contrite lawyers should be taught a little game theory. It is only fair to add that some lawyers play exacly the opposite role, persuading clients who are itching for a zero sum fight that they would do better to reach a non zero sum settlement out of court.

  3. Yes, I remember that passage. I like his healthy disrespect for lawyers (the bitterness of his words has always suggested to me that he speaks from experience), although I'm not sure how a non-schizophrenic divorce lawyer can act for both parties!

  4. Not sure it sounds bitter, objective in my opinion.
    The only narrative I have found which seems to get to the heart of the issues of Family Law without nebulus circular argument of whether Solicitors are greedy and self serving or noble servants of the law etc, individual morals and approaches are largely irrelevant with a system designed to chanel people into an adversarial system when they are usually at their most vulnerable.

  5. It only sounds bitter if you're a lawyer. ;) Otherwise it's a very scientific and accurate analysis. I first read this in happier days and obviously wasn't paying attention... Thanks, Anon.

  6. Au contraire, I think it only sounds bitter if you do not have an axe to grind against divorce lawyers. ;-)

  7. I get it so everyone who does not agree with the way Family law/divorce lawyers operate is a crank with an axe to grind and thats the end of it? (Mmmm sounds strangely familiar what I would call Divorce industry stock reply)
    Another clever fellow once said
    "Quickly, quickly, walls against reason are needed; and it doesn't matter that the fortress to be errected is foolish one. Quick a hiding place from thought! Whew, safe in the nick of time. No need to think about these uncomfortable issues any longer. (but hey ho he probably has an axe to grind with Solicitor as well?)


  8. What is this, 20 quotations? :-)

  9. Did he write this before his two divorces or after?

  10. Certainly after one of them I think, was in a later addition of the original book, I suspect his personal experience was the stimulus, however do not agree with Johns convenient post hoc ergo proctor hoc conclusion.
    I simply don't see how such a comprehensive scientific critique of Family Law can be so readily dismissed? and as I mentioned in my previous post I would describe Johns attemps to categorized anyone who disagrees with Family Law as bitter is a industry standard stock answer.


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