It’s almost easy to forget at this point that back in the 2000’s the “New Atheist” movement was a reaction to the idiotic rich people tax cuts/war mongering evangelicalism of the Bush administration. But here we are in 2017 and there’s a new breed of condescending dorks to contend with, but this time they’re the hip right wing libertarian type. What fun. Thing is, I wasn’t even aware some of these douches were outspoken atheists until I read this article. (from The Baffler):
“The heirs to New Atheism may have a new target and a remodeled ethos, but their rhetorical crutches remain the same. They announce at every opportunity that they revere logic, evidence, and science, even if the opposite is plainly true. We saw this play out with James Damore, the engineer who was fired from Google after spreading a memo critiquing the company’s pro-diversity policies. Damore argued in his memo, titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber,” that biological differences between men and women, not sexism, could account for the lack of gender parity in the tech industry. In the memo, he repeatedly used the favored buzzwords of atheist pedants. He wrote that he “strongly value[s] individualism and reason,” claimed that “the Left tends to deny science” and asked that Google “be open about the science of human nature.” The repetition of these sentiments failed to strengthen his case, which was made from gut feeling and justified retroactively with garbled logic and irrelevant studies. An investigation by Wired found that two of the researchers Damore cited disagreed with the conclusions he drew from their work, with one telling them that “It is unclear to me that this sex difference would play a role in success within the Google workplace (in particular, not being able to handle stresses of leadership in the workplace. That’s a huge stretch to me).”
It became more evident that Damore was less interested in scientific truth than giving credibility to his prejudices when he immediately brought his grievances to the right-wing internet. Despite writing in the memo that “some on the Right deny science that runs counter to the “God > humans > environment” hierarchy (e.g., evolution and climate change),” he was willing to be interviewed by campus gadflies Milo Yiannopoulos and Ben Shapiro, both of whom are climate change deniers. Damore’s choice of interviewers damaged his cause, but it revealed his motives.
Ben Shapiro, formerly of Breitbart and now editor-in-chief of The Daily Wire, has made a project of adapting the pedantic rhetorical style of New Atheism to conservatism, an ideology that persists in constant tension with rational thought. His speeches and television appearances are a mainstay of “Feminist DESTROYED by Facts” YouTube, and they often accumulate millions of views. His orthodox Republican political positions are nearly identical to those of the nutjob theocrats New Atheists gleefully tore down during the Bush years—including that homosexuality is a choice, transgenderism is a mental illness, pornography should be illegal, and G-rated TV shows are corrupting our children. Even so, he frequently professes to love “science,” which is all his credulous fans require. Comically, given his religion-derived worldview, Shapiro’s current catchphrase is “facts don’t care about your feelings.”
James Damore’s first and most damning interview after being fired was with prolific writer and YouTube personality Stefan Molyneux, who represents the most extreme example of the misuse of militant atheist rhetoric. Molyneux is an enthusiastic Trump supporter, a frequent Alex Jones collaborator, and a fixture in the alt-right. Like Damore’s other acquaintances, he denies climate change exists, but he also subscribes to fraudulent race science, argues that mental illness is a Jewish conspiracy, and believes the Las Vegas mass shooting was the result of a nationwide war on children. Despite all this moonstruck gibberish, Molyneux writes and speaks in the New Atheist style, fashioning himself as a master of logic, reason, and evidence.
In a political cartoon by Ben Garrison, an ex-libertarian who now panders to the alt-right, Molyneux is drawn popping bubbles—labeled “Trump is a misogynist,” “Trump is stupid” and “my feelings”—using enormous needles tagged “logic,” “reason” and “evidence.” In another, Molyneux holds a golden shield emblazoned with “REASON EVIDENCE LOGIC” as Hillary Clinton fires arrows representing her various campaign slogans. In these portrayals, the evidence or reasoning in question is never revealed, and for good reason. The depicted slogan “Stronger Together” is unmemorable, sure, but what about it is inherently illogical? What evidence could conceivably “disprove” it? The concepts themselves, imbued with such inherent value that they may as well be magical incantations, are powerful enough to frighten attackers before an argument can ever take place.