Thursday, 27 November 2008

Mary Kenny FAIL

http://www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/atheist-bus-more-like-a-bandwagon--on-highway-to-hell-1550742.html

There are several astonishing things about this article. The first is that it contains a truly bewildering number of factual errors, far too numerous to document here in full. For example, Richard Dawkins did not 'start up' the atheist bus campaign. The slogan in the adverts is actually "There's probably no god. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life". I can't help but wonder if Kenny deliberately substituted 'relax' because of its more hedonistic-sounding connotations. I'm certain that Kenny's bald statement that most of the campaign's money was donated by Guardian readers has no basis in truth. How could she (or anyone else) possibly know that?

There are many other factual errors. They might indicate that Kenny hasn't bothered to conduct even the most perfunctory research; that she is deliberately distorting facts to ridicule the campaign and its proponents; or is being deliberately dismissive of the campaign. None of these possibilities is impressive for a professional journalist. Nevertheless, the factual errors are just annoying rather than downright offensive. Anyone doubting the extent of her ignorance would be certain by the time she'd finished accusing atheists of being responsible for every one of society's troubles. She has the audacity to somehow blame the death of Baby P (and unimaginably, her article doesn't link to any stories about Baby P, but in the same sentence does link to various stories in the Independent about the UK).

She finishes with the usual smug statement that the atheist bus campaign in Belfast will only have the effect of uniting protestants and catholics against atheists. Again, not a hint of how she might know this, although she states it as a bald and unassailable fact. Even if it were true, I imagine many atheists would be delighted at that outcome.

[Edit]: Pharyngula has a post on how the presence of religion correlates with indicators of a sick society (in Mary Kenny's sense). Oh dear. It turns out that religious societies don't do very well. As Myers points out, these are correlations not causes, but this in no way prevents it from being an excellent riposte to fools like Mary Kenny.

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