Come in, Agent Dawkins, your job is done

Obsessed by himself

In The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins invented the word “meme” for an idea that spreads osmotically throughout a culture. Today, he has extended that word to me-me-me-me-me-me-me, forever demanding that we pay homage to his colossally superior intellect.

- Matthew Norman, The Telegraph (UK)

While the geneticist and militant atheist’s brilliance is not in doubt (this newspaper ranked him 20th in a 2007 list of living geniuses) there is an elite sub-genus of humanity, if I might invent a phrase of my own, called The Clever Fools. These are people whose extraordinary cerebral gifts are yoked, lethally, to the common sense and judgment of an amoeba, and Dawkins is their god.

His latest sortie into the realm of religious controversy concerns the followers of Islam. “All the world’s Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge,” he tweeted this week, in what seemed an unorthodox welcome to the festival of Eid. “They did great things in the Middle Ages, though.” He might have added the phrase du jour employed by those who, after throwing a hand grenade into social media, feebly try to distance themselves from the collateral damage. But presumably he had exhausted his 140 characters, and had none left for the faux naif “Just sayin’…”

His claim is technically true, the scoreline being Trinity 32: Muslims 10. But as others, including our own Tom Chivers, have pointed out with far more elegance than you would expect from this column, his real point was crystal clear. The lobotomising strictures of Koranic teaching and extremist dogma, goes the subtext, has atrophied the Muslim mind so completely over the centuries that these robotic drones have produced far fewer Nobel laureates than a single weeny college.

The observation is too plain dumb to detain us for long. It needs no spelling out that the Muslim world is dramatically less wealthy and academically well served than the West as a whole, and the Oxbridge candidate pool in particular. Whether he was being casually racist is another question, and not a particularly relevant or intriguing one. As he pointed out in his own defence, while scurrying away from the original tweet in a craven and effete version of Knock Down Ginger, Islam is a religion, not a race. So is Judaism, of course, and one doubts he would have the courage to make any such incendiary remark about “the Jews”.

FULL STORY Come in Agent Dawkins, your job is done