Why is Richard Dawkins Doubling Down on His Previous Statements?

Richard Dawkins, Screengrab
Richard Dawkins, Screengrab
By now, you’ve no doubt read the interview with Jaden and Willow Smith. The kids, born into wealth to famous parents, gave laugh-out-loud answers to the New York Times and clearly thought they were way more intelligent than they actually sounded. Instead of coming across as above it all, it’s clear they’re not even in the same realm as the rest of us:

By Hemant Mehta|Friendly Atheist

You mentioned breathing earlier, and it’s also an idea that recurs in your songs.

WILLOW: Breathing is meditation; life is a meditation. You have to breathe in order to live, so breathing is how you get in touch with the sacred space of your heart.

JADEN: When babies are born, their soft spots bump: It has, like, a heartbeat in it. That’s because energy is coming through their body, up and down.

WILLOW: Prana energy.

JADEN: It’s prana energy because they still breathe through their stomach. They remember. Babies remember.

WILLOW: When they’re in the stomach, they’re so aware, putting all their bones together, putting all their ligaments together. But they’re shocked by this harsh world.

JADEN: By the chemicals and things, and then slowly…

WILLOW: As they grow up, they start losing.

JADEN: You know, they become just like us.

They’re 14 and 16 and they sound like they just graduated from the Deepak Chopra School of Bullshit. (Or a place that preaches Scientology…)

I bring this up because it reminded me of Richard Dawkins.

In an interview with reporter Kimberly Winston, Dawkins stood by the really frustrating and tone-deaf remarks he’s made over the past year on Twitter (and even before that, in other venues). It was pretty obvious from his remarks that none of the criticism leveraged at him has sunk in. And those of us who still appreciate his books — count me in that mix — are left trying to figure out what the hell to make of all this.

The biggest question I’m trying to sort out is how someone I consider brilliant could be so callous and indifferent in the way he handles some very sensitive issues.

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