Calling yourself “rational” might not make it so

Lately, the “Rational Response Squad” has been making a bit of buzz in the atheosphere (and even in the theosphere).

Vjack asked for opinions from his readers before writing a fair review of RRS and their site. He found them to be “immature at times” but remarked that this “is a good thing.” Their aggressive, bold and ‘in-your-face’ style of attacking theists appealed to Vjack and he noted that they probably have a strong appeal to teens. Vjack also had some decent constructive criticism, suggesting that the RRS tone down the “chip on their collective shoulders” in an effort to play nice with the rest of the atheist/rationalist community. He also found their website to be “something of a mess.” I’ve always found it to be an html travesty and its poor design was the single biggest reason for me not staying on the site every time I ever visited.

Hemant Mehta, a.k.a. The Friendly Atheist, had a couple of blog posts that were critical of the RRS and their “aggressive tactics.” He compared and contrasted his method of outreach with that of the RRS and ended up with a response from Brian Cutler, one of the lead personalities of this group, which was to fallaciously measure “de-conversion” outcomes. I say fallaciously since there was no regard for methodologies or controls, so such an outcomes claim is meaningless from the start.

Enter Reed Braden of UnorthodoxAtheism, who revealed that he encountered Cutler and one of his sidekicks in a chatroom where they made accusations that Richard Dawkins had or was having an affair outside of his marriage. This accusation made in the wake of RRS apparently not being able to ride the Richard Dawkins Foundation coattails. Braden later published another chatroom transcript where Cutler attempted to plead, beg, and -finally- threaten Braden in order to prevent him from further discussing or publishing the accusation. Ostensibly because “If this news gets out, Richard Dawkins will be nothing tomorrow (Brian Sapient),” although it smells strongly of self-preservation, mostly since it hasn’t much chance of being true based on the juvenile and irrational actions of the, perhaps, inappropriately named RRS.

Matt at [GBG] Atheist News writes that It’s Time to Drop the Rational Response Squad. And by “drop,” he means not link to them in blogrolls and not to reference them in serious discourse.

I think that’s the most sound advice I’ve heard so far. Reed Braden already removed the two posts I mentioned above (so you won’t find them in the links, but you might still find them in your rss feed aggregator or on Planet Atheism), which is probably a good thing. And, as for the RRS, they’re not in my links list, not even in this post. In my opinion, shaped mostly over the last few days, the Rational Response Squad is misnamed, juvenile, and without lasting academic or redeeming merit. They’re that train wreck you can’t avoid looking at, but at the end of the day you’re glad you weren’t on the train and their significance is forgotten.

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8 Responses

  1. I removed the posts because I’m not the only one who feels that now the original pre-emptive strike was made on the rumour, the rumour needs to die quietly while RRS dies painfully. I would like to see this “news” end and all discussion of it end as well because now that the RRS is further discredited in the minds of the truly rational, no more good can come of it.

  2. As for myself, I’m content to sink back into anonymity with my usual ~100 readers and work on my podcast.

  3. I suppose I was a bit ambiguous with the last paragraph. I was attempting to point out the low significance of the RRS in the grand scheme of things and that removal of links to them might not be a bad idea at all.

    Looking over what I wrote, I suppose it implies something nefarious with your reasons for removing the posts. I can’t say I disagree at all with your decision to pull those posts and move on. Good luck with the podcast, by the way!

  4. Yeah, because it’s SOOO rational to take an allegation, even one that you believe to be false, and suddenly accuse somebody of lying and broadcast it to the world with no evidence to support your claim, either. “The more rational people…” *LOL*

  5. So that’s what the RSS remarks were about!

    I’d be interested to know whether or not the Pope was having an affair outside his vows, but only because that would be relevant to his pretensions of morality. The same holds true for Haggard and Craig. I don’t care about their homosexual activities, I do care about their hypocrisy.

    If someone who was not making claims of moral superiority were having an affair, then that is apropos of nothing, and should not be broadcast because of the risk of hurting the culprit’s spouse.

    “Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

    Right now, I’m being a tad small minded, but the underlying principle strikes me as important.

  6. I’m frankly stunned that anyone (especially of Dawkins’s caliber) would pay attention to these clowns in the first place.

    And I’m glad they’ve finally shot themselves in the foot. Now, time to even stop writing blogs about them – farts in the wind, faded memories, candles remembered not even by their stench.

  7. There’s much hilarity to be had relating to this so called “Rational” Response Squad.

    http://www.rantsnraves.org/showthread.php?t=7740

    Seriously, take a look, it’s really quite funny.

  8. May I just add that the rumour is bloody daft. I mean, Dawkins is married to Lalla Ward. Lalla Ward! I’m sure he knows what a lucky man he is.

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