Mathew Nisbet has unleashed another attack on vocal atheists in general and PZ Myers1 in particular [Two Images of Atheism: Hate versus Community].
Atheists have a major image problem. There's a reason that when people ask me what I believe I have to say with a smile: "I'm an atheist...but a friendly atheist." For sure, atheists for a long time have been unfairly stereotyped in the mainstream media and in popular culture. But we also have a lot of lousy self-proclaimed spokespeople who do damage to our public image. They're usually angry, grumpy, uncharismatic male loners with a passion for attacking and ridiculing religious believers. Any fellow atheist who disagrees with their Don Imus rhetoric, they label as appeasers.Nisbet thinks he's an expert on how to deal with the problems of religion. He just doesn't get it. Several decades of being "nice" and "friendly" toward those who believe in superstitious nonsense got us nowhere. We atheists were ignored at best, and denigrated at worst.
These "new atheists" are the dark under belly of atheism. In books, blogs, and public statements, they sell us ideological porn, sophomoric rants that feed our dark sides and reinforce our own unfair stereotypes about the "other," i.e. the religious.
Yet all of this does far more harm than good. The addictive nature of their rhetoric radicalizes us and leads us to an ever more closed off conversation about how we are superior and everyone else is delusional.
Now, just a few years after publication of The God Delusion (and other books), atheism is on the radar and the believers have to deal with the fact that non-believers exist. Not only that, the non-believers are fighting back against the religious bigots. People like PZ Myers have done more to advance the case for rationalism over superstition than all the Nisbets have done in decades of accommodation. That makes Matt really, really mad. He just can't cope with the fact that his version of framing didn't work.
The guest blogger on Pharyngula took note of the attack (PZ is in the Galapagos) [Oh, the Drama]. Needless to say, the comments on that blog are not kind to Nisbet, but, then again, neither are the comments on his own blog. Not too many people like Matt Nisbet these days. I can't imagine why. Could it have something to do with bad framing?
Afarensis recognizes the injustice of Nisbet's attack: Framing Science Embraces the Willie Horton Strategy
1. The picture that Nisbet posted of PZ Myers is beyond the pale. Whatever remaining credibility Nisbet had (not much) is gone.