Daniel Dennett endures the execrable Dinesh D'Souza

Sigh. Groan. Moan. I’ve just spent a couple of hours watching the video of the “debate” between Daniel Dennett and Dinesh D’Souza at Tufts University last Friday. I wanted to watch it because I always enjoy Dan Dennett, but it was a pretty painful experience. D’Souza is an odious little squirt: shrill, ranting, illogical, rude, discourteous, constantly haranguing the audience while completely ignoring the moderator’s attempts to remind him of time limits. Dan Dennett was polite, respectful, and moderate, but even he was getting visibly annoyed at D’Souza’s grandstanding.
I advise scientists of all stripes to steer clear of this video. D’Souza’s caricatures of cosmology, evolutionary biology, neuroscience, physics and psychology betrayed either monumental ignorance or a complete lack of principle. And logicians and philosophers should also stay away. I have never heard so many abuses of the concept of causality in one session. Nor can I remember when I last saw so many hoary old arguments dusted off and defended with so little craft: even Pascal’s Wager was wheeled out (twice!). And D’Souza had the nerve to attack Dawkins, and Dennett too, for venturing out of their areas of expertise. (However I must concede that he stayed in his own specialty all evening: unadulterated bullshit.)
And I’m not even going to get into his frequent references to atheism’s responsibility for Stalin, Hitler, and eugenics. Speaking of which, it was nice to see my old friend and colleague Jon Dreyer in the audience, asking D’Souza to explain how he justified the leap from a “first cause” to Christianity. It’s a shame D’Souza chose to completely ignore the question, but at least it gave him another excuse to bring in Hitler and the Nazis. Where’s Godwin’s Law when you really need it? ((Jon: if you read this, perhaps you add a comment about how the audience reacted to D’Souza’s curious move of attacking his hosts and audience as a bunch of north-eastern elitists? Was he simply rattled because almost all of the questions were directed at him, and many were distinctly hostile in tone?))
D’Souza is a nasty little man, and an intellectual midget. He didn’t deserve to be on the same stage as Dennett.