Dinesh D’Souza, Mental Mosquito

I propose a new unit of measurement: a megaScoville shall henceforth be known as a D’Souza, because the stupid, it burns!

Here’s the first part of a debate between Daniel Dennett and Dinesh D’Souza at Tufts University:

(Follow the “More From:” link to get parts 2-15.)

I warn you, though: you may need to make a SAN roll. Not only does he have the gall to say to Dennett’s face that consciousness can never be understood by mere humans, he then proceeds to use—I kid you not—Pascal’s Wager.

In fact, the first audience question was about Pascal’s Wager, but it wasn’t what I was expecting:

I have a question for Mr. D’Souza: Are you fucking kidding me? And I have a followup: No, seriously: are you fucking kidding me?

which is what I would have asked. But I was at home, not in Boston, so all I could do was jab pencils in my ears so I wouldn’t have to hear him blither. Except it didn’t help, because apparently D’Souza feels compelled to SHOUT everything.

He said it was absurd to believe that the universe just happened for no reason, but practically in the same breath said that it was perfectly sensible to believe that God just exists for no reason.

He argued that just as a painting needs a painter, the universe needs a designer. Ray Comfort would have been proud. Someone challenged him on this, asking who created God. D’Souza tap-danced around it, saying that the rules inside the universe don’t apply to God, who is outside. Dennett got to point out that in that case, you can’t say that the universe required a designer, either.

It was so bad that at several points, Dennett accused him of caricaturing science, which I took to be polite-academic-speak for “You’re either so dense that light bends around you, or you’re lying.” In fact, toward the end of the debate, D’Souza quoted a review of Dennett’s book Darwin’s Dangerous Idea by Stephen Jay Gould, in which he accused Dennett of writing “a caricature of a caricature”. D’Souza proceeded to read various other choice quotes from the same piece of paper in his hand. The only problem is that the stuff he read doesn’t actually appear in the review. This is beyond quote-mining, and well into pulling stuff out of his head-congested ass.

When you have to lie to defend your position, it’s usually a sign that yours isn’t a very good position to begin with. And every time he opens his mouth, he proves that he has the intellectual stature of Kent Hovind, with the charm of Ann Coulter.

Update: I forgot to mention that D’Souza described the placebo effect as “mind reshaping matter”, thus adding newage twaddle into the mix.

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2 Responses to Dinesh D’Souza, Mental Mosquito

  1. kj says:

    I just stumbled upon your post, and I thought I would respond. While I certainly respect your right to challenge the ideas of the debate, perhaps you could do so with a little more intellectual humility. This lack of humility is one of the main reasons atheism is strongly rejected by so many listeners and readers.
    With all due respect, you talk like the country bumpkins at the local pub. Its a distraction from your argument. You should unpack a logical critique and avoid the name calling. Whether you agree or disagree, your militant tone–which permeates this new, immature form of atheism–will disrupt your ability to properly communicate and convey your ideas. You lose your ethos.


  2. arensb says:

    I think that what you perceive as a “militant tone” is simply a refusal to feign respect for religious ideas and bad arguments simply because they’re religious. I realize that most people still hold to the idea that we should respect deeply-held cherished beliefs, but that’s a stupid taboo, and I’m not going to play along.

    Bringing up Pascal’s Wager in a debate with Dennett is like telling Stephen Hawking that he’s wrong by comparing the Big Bang to a TNT explosion. And toward the end, D’Souza makes stuff up that’s not in Gould’s review (“misleadingly quotes unreferenced sources” is as conciliatory as I’m prepared to be, in this case). I see no reason not to call him on it.


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