Richard Dawkins criticised for Twitter comment about Muslims

Dawkins Nobels Prizes tweets

The outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins was involved in an online Twitter row on Thursday after tweeting: “All the world’s Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge. They did great things in the Middle Ages, though.”

As users piled in to criticise him, the scientist continued: “Why mention Muslim Nobels rather than any other group? Because we so often hear boasts about (a) their total numbers and (b) their science.”

His other posts included: “You can attack someone for his opinion. But for simply stating an intriguing fact? Who would guess that a single Cambridge College” and “Muslims aren’t a race. What they have in common is a religion. Rather than Trinity, would you prefer the comparison with Jews? Google it.”

With the debate escalating, Dawkins, who has more than 777,000 followers, said: “Many are asking how many Nobels have been won by atheists. Needs research. I’d love to know. I suspect the proportion is v high, and growing.”

Owen Jones, the left-leaning commentator and author of Chavs, told Dawkins: “How dare you dress your bigotry up as atheism. You are now beyond an embarrassment.” Legal blogger Jack of Kent added: “Following @RichardDawkins tweet, Trinity Cambridge has presumably also produced more Soviet-supporting traitors to the UK than Islam.”

The row also drew in historian Tom Holland and Channel 4’s economics editor Faisal Islam who commented: “I thought scientists were meant to upbraid journalists for use of spurious data points to ‘prove’ existing prejudgements”.

@jptoc chipped in: “A similar (and infuriating for Dawkins) ‘fact’ is that Islam has more recipients of Nobel Prizes than Dawkins. It’s bad scientific method.”

Guardian, 8 August 2013

See also Nesrine Malik, “Richard Dawkins’ tweets on Islam are as rational as the rants of an extremist Muslim cleric”, Guardian, 8 August 2013

And Tom Chivers, “Please be quiet, Richard Dawkins, I’m begging, as a fan”, Daily Telegraph, 8 August 2013

Update:  See Owen Jones, “Not in our name: Dawkins dresses up bigotry as non-belief – he cannot be left to represent atheists”, Independent, 9 August 2013

And Matthew Norman, “Come in, Agent Dawkins, your job is done”, Daily Telegraph, 9 August 2013

And Dan Murphy, “Finally something that Mike Huckabee and Richard Dawkins can agree upon”, Christian Science Monitor, 9 August 2013

Also Nathan Lean, “Richard Dawkins does it again: New Atheism’s Islamophobia problem”, Salon, 10 August 2013