I won't bother gathering all the links that show there's anger about this. But Chris is considered a very, very big idiot in some circles. The critics never tire of demanding his evidence. Where's the data that shows that religious folk are turned off to science messages, if the messenger is also bashing their religion?
Well, sure, it would be nice if the NSF poured a couple of million dollars into some social psychologist's longitudinal study of how religious folk react to religion-bashing scientists. But here's why I don't think they'll do that: the NSF doesn't fund research that aims to prove the obvious.
How could religious folk NOT be offended and alienated by religion-bashing scientists? Take, for example, a visit to a creation museum being planned by PZ Myers and the members of a secular student group. Now, I don't fault them for wanting to visit the museum. But on Pharyngula we read advice not to be rude during the visit that goes like this--
After we leave their private property, it will be time to laugh and mock and vent, and we will: this trip will produce over 200 experienced people who know exactly what kind of lunacy the Creation "Museum" represents, and we will express ourselves in opinion pieces, on blogs, at school board meetings, and in gatherings with our friends. That's where we get our payoff, not in rudeness during our visit that gets us evicted.I dare say a few creationists have read this passage. Can it do anything but offend them to feel they are going to be laughed at and mocked (though not until after the visit)? And in that state of feeling offended, can they possibly become receptive to evolution?
Oh, but wait, what's my evidence that people lose receptiveness to a message when the messenger is disrespectful? Where's the data? Well, OK, I don't have it. So I have to admit that people could just conceivably remain receptive to science messages, even when their religion is being mocked by the messenger. For that matter, it could also be that you can mock people's race and gender, and still get through to them. So there's no evidence to hold someone back from creating a science blog that bashes people on the basis of race or gender.
But given the high degree of plausibility that Mooney's view enjoys, even without being supported by "hard evidence," why is he an apostate for stating it? Why does "the atheist community" demand such extraordinary fealty to its obstreperous, in-your-face ways? Why can't there be an open and respectful debate among skeptics about how to talk to the rest of the world?
Previous posts about Unscientific America:
Atheists Loud and Quiet
Atheists Loud and Quiet (Part 2)