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Richard Dawkins says Pope is 'stupid'

  1. Apr 1, 2009 #1
    Richard Dawkins says Pope is 'stupid'

    Whether correct or not, this seems like a very outspoken statement, even for Dawkins.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 1, 2009 #2
    I am afraid the topic is not good (bit religious).. but, I gotta love Dawkins here :biggrin:
    (What Pope said, that just doesn't make sense)
     
  4. Apr 1, 2009 #3
    In my opinion, this is more of a political statement than anything. I mean, imagine John McCain calling Obama "stupid". What a complete outcry it would become.
     
  5. Apr 1, 2009 #4
    According to http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/04/the_pope_is_either_stupid_igno.php" [Broken], Dawkins was misquoted in the telegraph, and what he actually said was "The Pope is either stupid, ignorant or wicked."
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  6. Apr 1, 2009 #5

    turbo

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    Any excuse to bash Obama!

    It is extremely ignorant for an educated person (I'm assuming that the pope has *some* education) to claim that increasing the use of condoms will increase the incidence of AIDS. There is a local fundamentalist who writes to the local newspapers (and actually gets published from time to time) claiming that birth-control causes breast cancer. They both have their motivations and they are both lying to sway the ignorant.

    If you want to compare the outrage at such blatant lying to the public's dismissal of unwarranted criticism of Obama by the hard right-wing propaganda machine, then you should be assured that 99% of the people in this country to not share your skewed perception. Even the people who don't agree with Obama's approach hope that it succeeds, because we all need it to work for our common good. Standing on the sidelines and yelling "stupid" with no constructive alternatives is a tactic that the GOP in Congress is using now, and it will come back to bite them in 2010 and 2012. the Green Party will be the "loyal opposition" soon if the GOP doesn't grow a pair and start espousing true conservatism. Yes, until the 2nd Reagan administration, I was a reliable Republican - since then I have been an Independent, and I ignore extremism from both parties and their surrogates.
     
  7. Apr 1, 2009 #6

    Pengwuino

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    I find this quite funny because I very recently read an article in response to what I suppose was when the Pope said this. The article featured a professor at Harvard who headed a group that studied amongst other things, how the use of condoms effected the AIDS rates. Oddly enough he claimed that in countries that had well funded programs to supply condoms and that gave the most condoms out actually had the opposite effect of increasing the rates of AIDS. The logic behind the explanation was pretty decent, the population had sex more often, so much that the gain in having condoms available was overtaken by the increased sexual activity. So it might be a little more complex of an issue to say the least...
     
  8. Apr 1, 2009 #7
    Yes, I agree it is unprofessional to call anyone stupid or wicked (ignorant seems to be acceptable).
     
  9. Apr 1, 2009 #8

    mgb_phys

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    Or perhaps the countries that gave out the most condoms had the biggest aids probem?
    It's a bit like how hospital emergency rooms are so terribly dangerous - a much larger number of people die in them than any other type of hospital
     
  10. Apr 1, 2009 #9
  11. Apr 1, 2009 #10

    Pythagorean

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    What's your point?
     
  12. Apr 1, 2009 #11
    So pope wanted to ban the use of condoms in HIV rich population.

    Great

    The question is why do social norms dictate that people in high positions should not be allowed to make such a comment like Dawkin.
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2009
  13. Apr 1, 2009 #12

    mgb_phys

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    Remember dead catholics still count, as long as they're baptised you still score a point.
     
  14. Apr 1, 2009 #13

    Moonbear

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    Actually, the original reports said the Pope instructed that putting a Bible over the penis was a better way to prevent AIDS. I did think about that and realized it could work...if the person trying it slams the Bible closed hard enough after doing so. :uhh: :devil:

    But, it's not at all a surprise that Dawkins would call the Pope "stupid." He is well-known for ridiculing religion.

    I'm going to go listen to a talk tomorrow morning by someone from Mozambique who has set up an HIV/AIDS education/prevention program there. He's the person I'm going to collaborate with building their anatomy program up. I'll be curious to hear if he has any comment on this, especially since the university he works for is a Catholic university. Though, the high rate of AIDS, particularly in African countries, predates education about AIDS and use of condoms.
     
  15. Apr 1, 2009 #14

    Hurkyl

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    If he really wondered, then why didn't he find out before making his statements? It sounds more like he just wanted an excuse to attack religion.
     
  16. Apr 1, 2009 #15

    CRGreathouse

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    Dawkins would attack religion even if condoms would increase the incidence of AIDS. The Pope would oppose condom use even if it would decrease the incidence of AIDS. Nothing new there.

    I am curious about the issue raised, though. Essentially no rational person would disagree that
    • Condom use prevents *some* percentage of AIDS transmission
    • Condom availability increases sexual activity by *some* percentage

    The former is obvious by physics: any barrier decreases the chance of an agent penetrating. The latter is obvious by economics: any decrease in 'price' for a standard* good increases the quantity consumed.

    My understanding is that condom use reduces the chance of pregnancy by a large percentage (high 90s) and the transmission of (smaller) viruses by at least mid-90s. (Anyone with better numbers is welcome to share them! Be careful about what is reported, though: flat chance of transmission vs. reduction in transmission chance, for example.)

    Anyone willing to find numbers and do a basic binomial model? I'm thinking something like 10% base transmission chance, 0.2% transmission chance with condom (subject to better numbers on condom failure, breakthrough, and manufacturing defects), and equating the risk between having sex t times with HIV-positive individual(s) with condoms and t*f times without condoms. If f is huge for t reasonable, condoms are very good at preventing the transmission of AIDS, despite changes in behavior; if f is close to 1 for t reasonable, condoms are ineffective or actively harmful** (increased sexual activity plays a large role); if f is around perhaps 1.5-4, it's not clear without actual statistics.

    To be honest, I have no idea what the results would be: there are many factors, most of which are hard for me to guess, and their interplay is subtle in some cases.

    Edit: It's worth noting that there are utilitarian arguments that would support condoms even if they (slightly) increased AIDS incidence. I hope that no one takes the outcome of this Fermi experiment as normative: I just think learning the facts has value of itself.

    * I take it no one here will argue that sexual activity is a luxury good whose consumption is based on the prestige of its scarcity?
    ** Intuitively, condoms could not be harmful because that would work against the initial reason (decreased AIDS risk) for increased sexual activity. But this need not be the case: consider Jevons' paradox, originally applied to coal but quite applicable here.
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2009
  17. Apr 1, 2009 #16

    CRGreathouse

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    Although I haven't made that claim, I think perhaps you would call me "extremely ignorant" as well for raising the possibility?
     
  18. Apr 1, 2009 #17
    I believe that the Catholic position on the issue implies that handing out condoms creates a sexually permissive atmosphere where not all persons will be using condoms all the time. And that's their big point, more people having more sex but not necessarily using condoms.
     
  19. Apr 1, 2009 #18
    Excellent find. From that article:
     
  20. Apr 1, 2009 #19

    CRGreathouse

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    I hadn't even considered that possibility (and don't think it's particularly likely).

    But I did neglect network effect (in both directions). More people having sex with more partners increases the density of the infection graph (this does *not* automatically mean it would be riskier than the other case!) which may have effects beyond what I can easily predict (raising the risk more for those engaging in low-risk sexual activity than for those in high-risk activity?). And of course whichever method has higher AIDS transmission will get a feedback effect, but I don't think this changes the answer (since the question is about which is riskier for a society, not what the magnitude will be).
     
  21. Apr 1, 2009 #20

    russ_watters

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    Imo, while he is outspoken, aggressive and typically well informed, his attitude makes him a less than ideal ambassador for science. A guy like Bob Park is much, much better because he is far less emotional.
     
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