Richard Dawkins (The Matrix Dictionary)
This is updates and commentaries to the main article A Critique of Richard Dawkins and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI).
The reductionism called biologism is a part of The Matrix Conspiracy. Therefore I also see Richard Dawkins as a Matrix agent. His words about that “religious people are hijacked by an infectious malignant god-virus, because god is delusion a ‘psychotic delinquent’ invented by mad deluded people,” or his description of “religion as both an evolutionary by-product and as a Memetic virus” is pure Agent Smith. And when he then states that this is something Dawkins, and his “skeptic” followers, or atheists as such, are raised above, then we have to do with pure fascism. The theory emplicates that evolution will lead to atheism, and that atheists therefore are better and wiser human beings than religious human beings. And therefore this will have to be imprinted in all areas of society.
Dawkins´s explanation of Memetics, or "cultural evolution", and how our sense of morality evolved, is utterly nonsense, and fully in line with the Darwinistic fascistic nonsense of New Age.
Memetics is the study of information based on an analogy with Darwinian evolution. Proponents describe Memetics as an approach to evolutionary models of cultural information transfer.
Memetics is pure pseudoscience. Memetics is notable for sidestepping the traditional concern with the truth of ideas and beliefs. Instead, it is interested in their success.
The term Meme was coined in Richard Dawkins' 1976 book The Selfish Gene.
Analogous to a gene, the Meme was conceived as a "unit of culture" (an idea, belief, pattern of behaviour, etc.) which is "hosted" in the minds of one or more individuals, and which can reproduce itself, thereby jumping from mind to mind. Thus what would otherwise be regarded as one individual influencing another to adopt a belief is seen as an idea-replicator reproducing itself in a new host. As with genetics, particularly under a Dawkinsian interpretation, a Meme's success may be due to its contribution to the effectiveness of its host.
This evolutionary model of cultural information transfer is based on the concept that units of information, or "Memes", have an independent existence, are self-replicating, and are subject to selective evolution through environmental forces. You could replace the term Meme with any crazy New Age theory. All are equally unable to be tested. All are equally “good” explanations. There is no foundation for that the one is better than the other, because the Meme and/or the New Age theory is the unexplained, untested, and untestable, starting point.
Starting from a proposition put forward in the writings of Richard Dawkins, it has since turned into a new area of study, one that looks at the self-replicating units of culture. It has been proposed that just as Memes are analogous to genes, Memetics is analogous to genetics.
Mary Midgley criticises Memetics for at least two reasons: "One, culture is not best understood by examining its smallest parts, as culture is pattern-like, comparable to an ocean current. Many more factors, historical and others, should be taken into account than only whatever particle culture is built from. Two, if Memes are not thoughts (and thus not cognitive phenomena), as Daniel C. Dennett insists in "Darwin's Dangerous Idea", then their ontological status is open to question, and Memeticists (who are also reductionists – see the main article) may be challenged whether Memes even exist.”
Questions can extend to whether the idea of "Meme" is itself a Meme, or is a true concept. Fundamentally, Memetics is an attempt to produce knowledge through organic metaphors, which as such is a questionable research approach, as the application of metaphors has the effect of hiding that which does not fit within the realm of the metaphor. Rather than study actual reality, without preconceptions, Memetics, as so many of the socio-biological explanations of society, believe that saying that the apple is like an orange is a valid analysis of the apple.
Richard Dawkins is the atheistic answer to Ken Wilber. Both are biologists who want to be philosophers instead of the philosophers. Both are in love with Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution. Both want their own discipline to be the answer to all the riddles of the universe. And both therefore ends in two versions of biologism (two versions of Social Darwinism). They are two sides of the same coin. See my main articles A Critique of Richard Dawkins and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) and A Critique of Ken Wilber and his Integral Method.
But not only Richard Dawkins and Ken Wilber are fascinated with biologism. It´s a central part of the New Age movement as such. And it comes from Theosophy (see my article The Fascism of Theosophy). Some New Age directions even claim to be examples of “Atheistic spirituality” [sic]. An example is the Canadian Raelian movement. Read more in my updates and commentaries to the Matrix Conspiracy.
As an example of the similarities of Dawkins´s theory of the Meme and New Age theories I will first quote Dawkins, hereafter the New Age guru´s Joe Dispenza, Lee Carroll and Gregg Braden.
In Skeptical Inquirer Vol. 41, No. 2 Dawkins says:
“[…] Might the gene´s eye view penetrate the remote past in yet other ways? Several of my books have developed an idea which I called ‘The Genetic Book of the Dead.’ The gene pool of a species is a mutually supportive cartel of genes that have survived in particular environments of the past, both distant and recent. This makes it a kind of negative imprint of those environments. A sufficiently knowledgeable geneticist should be able to read out, from the genome of an animal, the environments in which its ancestors survived. In principle, the DNA in a mole Talpa europacea should be eloquent of an underground world of damp, subterranean darkness, smelling of worms, leaf decay, and beetle larvae. The DNA of a dromedary, Camelus dromedaries, if we but knew how to read it, would spell out a coded description of ancient ancestral deserts, dust storms, dunes, and thirst. The DNA of Tursiops truncates, the common bottlenose dolphin, spells, in a language that we may one day decipher, ‘open sea, pursue fish fast, avoid killer whales.’ But the same dolphin DNA also contains paragraphs about earlier worlds in which the genes survived: on land when the ancestors escaped the attentions of tyrannosaurs and allosaurs long enough to breed. Then, before that, parts of the DNA surely spell out descriptions of even older feats of survival, back in the sea, when the ancestors were fish, pursued by sharks and even eurypterids (giant sea scorpions). Active research on ‘The Genetic Book of the Dead’ lies in the future. Will it colour the epilogue of the fiftieth edition of The Selfish Gene?”
From this, which certainly have some facts in it, and very well written and poetic, comes his theory of the Meme. The Meme sounds like the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges´s short story the Aleph. In Borges' story, the Aleph is a point in space that contains all other points. Anyone who gazes into it can see everything in the universe from every angle simultaneously, without distortion, overlapping, or confusion. The story traces the theme of infinity found in several of Borges' other works, such as "The Book of Sand".
As in many of Borges' short stories, the protagonist is a fictionalized version of the author. At the beginning of the story, he is mourning the recent death of a woman whom he loved, named Beatriz Viterbo, and resolves to stop by the house of her family to pay his respects. Over time, he comes to know her first cousin, Carlos Argentino Daneri, a mediocre poet with a vastly exaggerated view of his own talent who has made it his lifelong quest to write an epic poem that describes every single location on the planet in excruciatingly fine detail.
Later in the story, a business on the same street attempts to tear down Daneri's house in the course of its expansion. Daneri becomes enraged, explaining to the narrator that he must keep the house in order to finish his poem, because the cellar contains an Aleph which he is using to write the poem. Though by now he believes Daneri to be quite insane, the narrator proposes without waiting for an answer to come to the house and see the Aleph for himself.
Left alone in the darkness of the cellar, the narrator begins to fear that Daneri is conspiring to kill him, and then he sees the Aleph for himself:
“On the back part of the step, toward the right, I saw a small iridescent sphere of almost unbearable brilliance. At first I thought it was revolving; then I realised that this movement was an illusion created by the dizzying world it bounded. The Aleph's diameter was probably little more than an inch, but all space was there, actual and undiminished. Each thing (a mirror's face, let us say) was infinite things, since I distinctly saw it from every angle of the universe. I saw the teeming sea; I saw daybreak and nightfall; I saw the multitudes of America; I saw a silvery cobweb in the center of a black pyramid; I saw a splintered labyrinth (it was London); I saw, close up, unending eyes watching themselves in me as in a mirror; I saw all the mirrors on earth and none of them reflected me; I saw in a backyard of Soler Street the same tiles that thirty years before I'd seen in the entrance of a house in Fray Bentos; I saw bunches of grapes, snow, tobacco, lodes of metal, steam; I saw convex equatorial deserts and each one of their grains of sand...”
Though staggered by the experience of seeing the Aleph, the narrator pretends to have seen nothing in order to get revenge on Daneri, whom he dislikes, by giving Daneri a reason to doubt his own sanity. The narrator tells Daneri that he has lived too long amongst the noise and bustle of the city and spent too much time in the dark and enclosed space of his cellar, and assures him that what he truly needs are the wide open spaces and fresh air of the countryside, and these will provide him the true peace of mind that he needs to complete his poem. He then takes his leave of Daneri and exits the house.
Borges is fascinated by what I have called thought distortions, especially my thought distortion Endless Split of the Thought. The Meme, like Borges´s Aleph, ends in solipsism. You confuse your thoughts with reality, or the wholeness (the Universe), and that splits the thought in infinity (see my book A Dictionary of Thought Distortions).
You just have to replace Dawkins´s theory of the Meme with some spiritual nonsense, and you have New Age. Here is a quote from Joe Dispenza:
“The environment writes the story of our genes and our DNA is the rich history book of generations untold. Science is just beginning to catch up in its understanding of nature’s wisdom.”
And Lee Carroll (a channeler of an entity called “Kryon”):
“Could it be that all the mysterious secrets of your past, your science, your health, and the ability to regenerate youth… is already known? The answer is yes, and this lives inside you in a very sacred place. This place is starting to be revealed within the New Human. You are in the right place at the right time Old Soul, and worthy to receive all of it!”
Carroll's Kryon series elaborated a number of popular New Age concepts. Amongst them are co-creating, spiritual contracts, karmic imprints, karmic implants, magnetic layers (strands) of human DNA, karmic groups, synchronicity, ascension, helpers from other star systems etc.
Or take Gregg Braden. The crux of his book The God Code is that our DNA sequence, when read by assigning Hebrew characters to the base sequence, spells out the words of our Creator. So this is the big secret that he has discovered (at least I presume it is his discovery): within each cell of our body is God's signature in Hebrew (read more about Gregg Braden in my The Matrix Conspiracy Updates).
The evidence for the Meme, or Braden´s God Code is the same: Zero. And in my view none of the theories are better explanations.
My inquiry in the main article is: why is it then that Richard Dawkins is so praised in the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry - (Center for Inquiry (CFI) and Richard Dawkins Foundation are now formally merged) - where the main virtues (a defense of science, rationality and reasoning) only can be described as the precise opposite of, what I in this article show, is Dawkins´? I show that it is because the underlying goal is ideology and neither science nor philosophy. Religious pseudoscience and atheistic pseudoscience are two sides of the same Matrix coin in The Matrix Conspiracy valuta. My conclusion is that CSI in short is a right-wing conservative, so-called “skeptic” atheist movement. In the main article I illustrate this by investigating both sides of the coin, since New Age is part of the widely spread popular culture, which actually adopts a lot of atheistic pseudoscience.
There is a lot of good rational thinking among skeptics generally, and I think the skeptics community largely is doing a good job (and I certainly have been inspired by it), but if you for example have a look at the Skeptical Inquirer magazine, it can be tiresome to hear the same analyses of the same topics again and again, as for example Creationism. Creationism is after all a belief held only by a very limited group of people. And if those analyses again are being limited to a very few people within creationism, the whole thing is getting a bit foolish. Take for example the 8 pages long article Fire-breathing Dinosaurs in the July/August issue 2017 (read more here).
It is a well-researched and all through scientific article, that shows why dinosaurs can´t breathe fire, and that the creationist idea of fire-breathing dinosaurs therefore is an example of pseudoscience. But what´s the point in using so much energy on such a limited topic? (it seems like the magazine is desperately in need of material in order to have enough content for the next issue).
If the skeptic community should be taken seriously they should also deal with the pseudoscience within reductionism, and all the problems of man, society and nature.
The Matrix Dictionary