Saturday, August 23, 2014


Doctor: All elephants are pink. Nellie is an elephant, therefore Nellie is pink. Logical?

Davros: Perfectly.

Doctor: You know what a human would say to that?

Davros: What?

Doctor: "Don't be silly. Elephants aren't pink."

Davros: Bah. Humans do not understand logic.

Destiny of the Daleks

Two weeks ago, Prof Richard Dawkins decided that he would use the power of Twitter to give the plebs a jolly good lesson in logic. If thing A has quality X, he explained, and thing B has quality X to a greater degree, then it doesn't follow that thing A doesn't have quality X at all. If cheese is nice but chocolate is nicer; it doesn't follow that cheese is nasty. If the Beatles are bigger than Jesus, it doesn't follow that Jesus is small.

This is obviously true. However it doesn't fully reflect how we Hobbits actually use language. If Andrew is 6 ft 2 and Steve is 6 ft 1, it would be a little odd to say "Steve is shorter than Andrew" or "Compared with Andrew, Steve is short." You would be more likely to say that Steve is tall but Andrew is even taller. It would be positively confusing to say "toothache is more enjoyable than a bone fracture" or "Joseph was even kinder and more humane than Adolph.". Your meaning is effected by your word choice as well as the actual logic of your sentence. 

Prof Dawkins chose the most toxic and incendiary words possibly to illustrate his purely logical point.

Date rape is bad. Stranger rape at knife point is worse. If you think that's an endorsement of date rape, go away and learn how to think.

Mild pedophilia is bad. Violent pedophilia is worse. If you think that's an endorsement of mild pedophilia, go away and learn how to think.

He spent the rest of the week insisting that the logic of the two assertions was valid (which, obviously, it was) and that anyone who had taken exception to his examples obviously didn't understand logic.

To answer by the method: if you can't see what the problem is; you obviously don't understand language. Go away and learn how to write.

Utterances — even utterances on twitter — are not reducible to their logical content. Our problem is not that we are ignorant peasants who can't see that Thing B can be worse than Thing A without Thing A being good. Our problem is that your chosen examples are riddled — riddled — with unexamined assumptions.

1: "X is bad; Y is worse".

What do you mean by "worse"? How can we tell? Who gets to decide? Do you mean more reprehensible in absolute terms; more severely punished by the law; causing greater harm to the victim; less aesthetically pleasing; incurring more bad karma...? These things obviously do not need to be the same. We are being asked to take for granted a value-neutral line from "black" to "white" with "grey" in the middle. Some kinds of empirical science might work like that. Criminal assault does not. Is Macbeth worse than anchovies?

2:  "Mild pedophilia is bad. Violent pedophilia is worse." 

This takes for granted that "Violent" is a synonym for "Severe" and that "Non-Violent" is a synonym for "Mild". "Severe pedophilia is worse than mild pedophilia" would have been meaningless, amounting to no more than "Bad things are worse than good things". But "Violent pedophilia is worse than non-violent pedophilia" is contentious, to say the least. People with human feelings would  probably think that the two are, well, differently bad. The offences for which Rolf Harris went to prison were non-violent. Yet the victims testified in court about the devastating effect the assaults had had on their lives. Some people might think that a long term quasi-consensual "love affair" between an adult and a young child was if anything rather "worse" than a violent attack. But it's simply nonsense. Are orange things worse than bank holidays?

3: "Date rape is bad. Stranger rape at knife point is worse." 

This has the same problems: we are being asked to take for granted that there is a thing called "rape" of which "stranger rape" and "date rape" are more and less severe examples — in the way that "punching Richard Dawkins on the nose, terribly hard" is a more severe example of "punching Richard Dawkins on the nose, fairly lightly." This ain't necessarily so. A court can send a rapist to jail for a period of time between seven years and forever. It takes into account a large number of mitigating factors (ones which make it less bad); and aggravating factors (ones that make it worse). I don't think "I bought her dinner beforehand" is necessarily a mitigating factor.

4: Go away and learn to think

Dawkins spends 30 of his 140 characters peremptorily insulting anyone who doesn't agree with him. It is just not true that people who can't do logic don't know how to to think. The world is full of people who raise families, survive in combat zones, manage farms, hunt antelopes, and carve sculpture who would go all to pieces if you asked them how many Bs were As if all Xs were Bs but only some Cs were Zs. (There are also people who are really good at keeping track of numbers in their head, but can't cope with the simplest written maths test.) The assumption here is that there is only one kind of thought — narrowly logical thought. Anyone who doesn't think in that way is a moron. Any subject that can't be talked about in terms of logic and simple continuum's from "good" to "bad" isn't worth talking about.

So, the question remains. Can we, as the young people say, give Dawkins "a pass" and say that, yes, he has been incredibly insensitive, but that's incidental to his status as National Treasure. We really should focus on the incredibly important logical point he is making, and not pay too much attention to the horrible way he has chosen to express it. Someone online said, well, yes, of course, Dawkins can sometimes come across as a bit sexist, but what do you expect of someone who is a scientific genius but also a 75 year old privately educated Oxford Don?

I am not at all sure I buy this. I think that his insensitivity is part and parcel of his ideology.

Obviously, we are talking about Twitter posts. Judge every man according to what he posted on Twitter, and which of us would 'scape whipping. But the current outburst fits into a pattern. Back in June he effected not to understand why anyone would consider throwing bacon at a mosque to be a hate crime. "Who" he asked "apart from the pig, is harmed by bacon?" That word "harm" again. It starts to look very much as if he thinks that if there hasn't been direct and measurable physical injury, nothing very serious can have happened. This is on approximately the same level as the person who doesn't understand why black people get so het up about the n-word. It's just a word. Who is harmed by a word. Why is the law so worried about this made-up idea of "offence"?

I assume that I don't actually need to spell this out: that particular words and particular kinds of meat have particular meanings in particular contexts for particular reasons. No-one was claiming that Johnny Muslim was kicking up a fuss about the remains of Bacon McMuffin which had been carelessly left near his place of worship by someone who didn't mean anything by it. The bacon had been placed there intentionally by racist bastards who knew the symbolism perfectly well. You might just as well say "what's the big deal about putting excrement though someone's letterbox?" You've probably got some marigolds and some disinfectant in the kitchen. Anyone with small kids or a dog has to clear muck up all the time.

If you press this kind of hyper objective thinking too its, er, logical conclusion, you might end up saying something like this: "Why is it such a big deal to touch someone's penis without their permission? More than, say, to tweak their nose or tap them on the shoulder? Your dick is just a part of your body, the same as any other. It's only social convention that has made it taboo."

Dawkins' Tweets are a sort of a test, like the pea which the prince put under the princess's mattress in one of those fairy stories which Dawkins doesn't think we should sometimes wonders whether we should read to our kids. Make a trivial logical statement, wrapped up in horrible example that makes light of what is, for quite a lot of people, the worst thing that happened to them in their whole lives. And watch people's reactions. Some people -- the one who don't believe in cultural meanings, feelings, or that language is complex -- will only see the logical bit, and not be able to understand how anyone could be "offended" since the logic is sound. Other people will react to the horrible beliefs that are "signaled" by the text as a whole, and say that the logic of it is neither here nor there.

Once you have divided people into sheep and goats you can then begin assimilate the logical ones into your cyber-army and start to exterminate the inferior creatures who do not know how to think.

Once you have divided people into sheep and goats you can assimilate the logical ones into the collective, form an invincible cyber army based on pure logic, rampage across the universe, seek out inferior life forms who have not learned how to think and ex-term-in-ate them!

Most of the people you talked to today were probably "atheists", in the sense that they don't believe in a personal deity who can be talked to and invoked; or in the sense that they don't give it very much thought one way or the other. But it is increasingly clear that what the "new atheists" disbelieve in is not the God of church and religion. It's also feelings and cultural meanings and subjectivity and the humanities and just about anything which isn't cold A = B logic. And if "atheism" means denying all that stuff as well, you have probably never met an atheist.

And of course, it might be that Dawkins is right. It might be that once you have eliminated Jehovah and Krishna and Wotan -- all the old men and all the sky fairies -- then all the rest caves in as well and what you are left with is a race of Daleks, who know how to think but not how to feel. And it might be that if you admit cultural meanings and feelings and fuzzy language and morals then all the gods-with-faces start creeping back in through the back door. And that might be one reason why religion can't, ultimately, be dispensed with. Not by human beings, at any rate. There is no point in asking the Daleks. They wouldn't, by definition, understand the question.

Read: Where Dawkins Went Wrong --  The Book


g said...

You started with Richard Dawkins and then leapt to "the New Atheists".

Let us stipulate that Richard Dawkins's personal ideology says that physical violence is the only really bad thing, and no other sort of harm can be very bad.

(Of course this is directly contradicted by some things he has said and you have taken issue with, but perhaps this indicates not that you are being in any way unfair to him but that he is inconsistent. So let's proceed.)

How do you get from there to a general statement about the values of "the New Atheists"? Are there any "New Atheists" other than Richard Dawkins?

The original referents of that curious phrase, I think, were: Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, Hitchens. It does not appear to me that Dennett, Harris, or Hitchens are or were of the opinion that "direct and measurable physical injury" is the only "very serious" kind of harm. I have to confess, though, that while I've read quite a lot of Dennett it's mostly not been on that topic, and I've read rather little Harris and Hitchens; perhaps if I had I'd see that that really is their view?

I agree that it's possible, in principle, that if you do away with religion then you end up with a race of Daleks. It is also possible that if you do away with religion then we will all be eaten by giant pandas. Neither seems terribly likely, though. Some countries are very irreligious and they don't seem to be full of Daleks.

I confess I find it easier to believe that, just as some atheists formerly known for their clear thinking and good writing may go astray and start posting things to Twitter that inadvertently reveal some of the nastier aspects of their view of the world ... so also some Christians formerly known for their clear thinking and good writing may go astray and start posting things on blogs that inadvertently reveal some of the nastier aspects of their view of the world.

Top tip: When you pick a group whose religious views you dislike and stick a label on them that calls them unfeeling, subhuman, brutal and murderous, there's a certain amount of historical precedent that suggests it might not be the greatest of ideas. (Perhaps you could elaborate on your fascinating theory about the intentions of the New Atheists by suggesting that they kidnap Christian children and drink their blood? You might say that they do it as a protest against the whole notion of "Christian children", perhaps.)

But what a silly person I'm being, getting so het up about a word. It's just a word, after all. I'm sure the problem is just that I don't understand, what with being subhuman and all.

E said...


It might just be me, but it seems you're making the same mistake Dawkins does... and which Andrew is writing about in the first place.

Andrew is not making blanket statements about the New Atheists unfairly - if that seems to be a key point in the post, I'm not sure how to help. You're picking nits there.

The scientistic view that no truth is really truth unless it is scientific or logical truth is the real culprit here. It's not just doing away with religion, though that certainly applies, but doing away with the nuance of understanding words in context as deeply meaningful.

Or at least pretending to not notice that rape and child molestation carry baggage with them - and you invoke those words at your peril. To do so casually, or unfeelingly might be a problem.

I think there is a significant difference between calling someone out for a bad rhetorical stance and saying, "this is dangerous for us if we really believe it" and saying that the people themselves are, "unfeeling, subhuman, brutal and murderous."

If you don't see the difference, again, I'm not sure how to help.

But, sigh, to my first point... talking about kidnapping children and drinking their blood is the "same" mistake as Dawkin's is making and that AR is trying to pull us away from.

Namely, the use of incediary language while missing the real point entirely.

g said...


Let's see.

"Not making blanket statements about the New Atheists unfairly". Well, Andrew does say this -- this is in fact the only sentence he wrote that uses that exact phrase: 'But it is increasingly clear that what the "new atheists" disbelieve in is not the God of church and religion. It's also feelings and cultural meanings and subjectivity and the humanities and just about anything which isn't cold A=B logic.' That looks to me like a blanket statement about the New Atheists; does it not to you? Or is it your opinion that it's a fair blanket statement about the New Atheists?

"The scientistic view that ..." -- I have to confess that I don't know what you mean by "... that no truth is really truth unless it is scientific or logical truth". To me, "scientific" and "logical" are descriptors for ways of arriving at truths, not for the truths themselves. But if you mean, e.g., that "New Atheists" think that the only things that are true are ones within the domain of scientific enquiry, then I think that's simply wrong.

"unfeeling, subhuman, brutal and murderous": perhaps I should have made my argument more explicit at this point, so let me do so now. Andrew chose to describe people-like-Richard-Dawkins using the word "Dalek". In case you happen not to be familiar with this particular reference, I should explain that in a certain popular televisual entertainment, the Daleks are a race of aliens who have given up biological bodies to turn themselves into mostly-mechanical killing machines; they are narrowly intelligent but lack all subtlety, and they are single-mindedly dedicated to exterminating all forms of life other than Daleks. (The word "exterminate" is something of a trademark of theirs.)

In addition to (1) suggesting that the consequence of the end of religion might be "a race of Daleks" and (2) saying that religion "can't, ultimately, be dispensed with. Not by human beings, at any rate" and contrasting human beings with Daleks, Andrew also (3) made the following comment on Richard Dawkins's recent tweets: "Dawkins's Tweets are a sort of a test... Once you have divided people into sheep and goats you can then begin [to] assimilate the logical ones into your cyber-army and start to exterminate the inferior creatures who do not know how to think."

If you are seriously suggesting that in doing 1,2,3 Andrew was not intending to stick on the New Atheists the label of Dalek, and to draw attention to their genocidal brutality ... well, then I can only think that perhaps Richard Dawkins is not the only person here who is attending only to "cold A=B logic" and not to the implications of words.

"Namely, the use of incendiary language": My whole point is that Andrew has been engaging in language at least as incendiary as Dawkins's. He has, to be more specific, taken a group of people whose religious position he dislikes -- "new atheists", whatever exactly Andrew means by that phrase, but his use of it makes clear that he isn't talking about Dakwins alone -- and attached to them a label -- "Daleks" -- whose connotations include at least these: rejecting humanity (or in their case, IIRC, what I suppose one might call Kaledity) in order to become single-purpose machines, and genocidal murder. And it's not like these connotations are accidentally coming along for the ride; Andrew explicitly, deliberately, drew attention to them. (Subhuman: "what you are left with is a race of Daleks, who know how to think but not how to feel". Genocidal murder: "start to exterminate the inferior creatures".)

(to be continued because of Blogger comment-length limit; sorry)

g said...

(... continued:)

If Andrew is "trying to pull us away from" incendiary language then he is going about it in a bloody strange way. Perhaps it's only incendiary language aimed at Christians that you would like us pulled away from?

And, again in case my reasoning wasn't sufficiently clear, I find this problematic because there have been occasions in the past when members of one religion have stuck labels on people of other religious opinions that have tried to identify them as subhuman, unscrupulous, and murderous. Go and look up the phrase "blood libel" if it's not immediately obvious what I have in mind.

Now, of course someone sensible and decent like Andrew would never take the next step and start calling for the blood of the evil atheists. But if you hop over to his Twitter feed you will find him retweeting (without any sign that he feels any discomfort about it) a tweet from someone who calls himself "Amazing Toothbrush": "There is no death painful enough for Richard Dawkins.".

Now, personally I would not say that even about, say, Fred Phelps or even Adolf Hitler. The latter may be rather extreme and I certainly don't think anyone is obliged to agree with me. But I venture to suggest that most people, most of the time, don't think that offences such as being an obnoxious dick on Twitter or being a sexist or having a terrible attitude to people with intellectual disabilities justify something worse than the most agonizing death possible. I rather doubt that Andrew -- or even "Amazing Toothbrush", actually -- would be willing to push the button that starts torturing Richard Dawkins to death, if they were actually in that position. But it's very easy to say such things if one doesn't quite view the people involved as human. If, for instance, one thinks of them as being more like disembodied brains inside killing-machine mechanical bodies, whose sole desire is to take over the universe and wipe out all other life forms.

For the avoidance of doubt: I agree that subtexts and overtones and shades of meaning and so forth are important. I agree that objectively verifiable physical violence is not the only form of real harm. I agree that "mild" and "violent" are not exact antonyms. I agree that some things classified as "date rape" are just as evil and just as harmful as some instances of "stranger rape at knife point". I agree that rape and child abuse are (and should be) emotive topics and anyone who expects them to be discussed dispassionately and academically (other than in special contexts like, er, a dispassionate academic discussion) needs to, how shall I say?, go away and learn how to think. I agree that there is much more to thinking than formal logic. And I agree that Richard Dawkins has more than once been an obnoxious dick on Twitter.

So if Andrew were simply pointing out those things, I would have no objection at all. But he isn't. He has, for whatever reason, chosen to (1) infer from Dawkins's obnoxiously dickish tweeting that Dawkins believes that only measurable physical harm matters, that only cold logical A=B thinking matters, etc.; (2) bring in "the new atheists" generally and tar them with the same brush; and (3) label the whole lot with the name of Dalek and explicit accusations (not intended to be taken as literal truth, for sure) of genocidal intent.

I think #1 is at least debatable even for Dawkins specifically; #2 is largely indefensible; and #3 is as obnoxious as anything Dawkins has said on Twitter.

(to be continued once more; sorry again)

g said...

(... continued:)

I should maybe expand on my parenthesis there -- since clearly this comment is not long enough already. Of course Andrew doesn't actually think that Dawkins actually intends to raise a robot army of cold logicians and exterminate everyone else. But, as I believe someone may have commented earlier here, cultural meanings and feelings matter, and if you go out of your way to conjure up an association in people's minds between atheists and genocide, I do think you are being irresponsibly and harmfully unfair.

(Finis, finis, finis, ludendo dicit!)

Anonymous said...

A point on logic and the cold A=B thing that has been mentioned and the way in which it has been mentioned.

It doesn't quite work like that.

There are two aspect of logical argument. The validity of the form and the soundness of the premise (such as there not being pink elephants.)

Part of me thinks that was part of your point, another doubts and so I type...

Further, when I have heard atheists/skeptics talk about "thinking" they are not talking about the above only.
They tend to talk about"critical thinking" which is really just a way of saying that you try to be aware of all the fallacious ways of thinking, including your own gullibility and biases.

In practice this should make you more aware and understanding of other peoples cultural perspectives not less even if you do not agree with them.

Keith Edwin Schooley said...

I suspect that what Andrew meant by "Daleks" was rather what Lewis meant by "men without chests." (Though Andrew did write "exterminate the inferior creatures." There was in fact another notorious Dawkins tweet about the abortion of someone with Down's Syndrome which might be of interest here. But I digress.) That is, the focus was on logic without feeling rather than what to do with those who don't "go home and learn how to think."

The real problem is that Dawkins isn't a Dalek. A Dalek wouldn't know how to play the game Dawkins is playing. I think he only seems to be focusing on the logical statement and ignoring the emotional content; that in fact, he is using the logical statement in order to Be Incendiary, and then drops back into focusing on the formal logic of his statements when people express outrage. It's similar to the situation Screwtape described in which a person says something inoffensive in itself but in such a tone as to be almost "a blow in the face." They thus communicate for the purpose of offending and then pretend innocence when offense is actually taken.

I don't follow Dawkins on Twitter, so I have no idea if this was part of a larger conversation, or from what implied context Dawkins was writing. If he merely meant that a kind of category creep has attempted to lump together things of less severity with things of more severity, so as to imbue the less severe thing with the condemnation once accorded to the more severe thing, I might be inclined to agree. Witness the horrible, horrible metaphorical use of the word "rape" to mean "did something to me which I did not particularly like."

g said...

Yeah, but what Andrew wrote was not "Men without Chests", nor "people with regrettably limited appreciation of the subtleties of feeling and communication", nor even "silly atheist extremists who if they got their way would destroy all that I find most valuable in human society".

What Andrew wrote was "Daleks". And "exterminate". And all the rest of it.

When my complaint is that Andrew is using inflammatory terms that reduce his opponents to inhuman killing machines -- because he has chosen to label them with a word whose meaning is exactly that, and to talk about them trying to wipe out ordinary human beings, etc. -- and that this sort of dehumanizing language has predictably bad consequences (as witness, e.g., Andrew's apparently-approving retweet of someone saying no death is painful enough for Richard Dawkins) -- it's entirely pointless to say "Oh, but what he meant was" followed by some paraphrase that deliberately omits all mention of the inflammatory bits of what Andrew wrote.

And ironic, given that one of the main points Andrew was making in between labelling his opponents as inhuman genocidal killing machines was that words have connotation as well as denotation and it's indecent to pretend they haven't and act all innocent when someone is upset by them.

g said...

Perhaps I should mention: It hasn't escaped me that it's possible Andrew deliberately chose -- how shall I put it? -- "the most toxic and incendiary words possible to illustrate his purely logical point". The idea being, I suppose, to show those awful New Atheists and their sympathizers how horrible Richard Dawkins's comments are by turning the tables and letting them experience something similar from the other side.

I am not a fan of this sort of tactic.

Andrew Rilstone said...


There is, in fact, a glitch in the article.

The glitch is that I use the word "exterminate" before I have introduced the concept of "daleks" (except in the epigram, assuming the reader knows who Davros is.)

I think that a British reader would probably associate the world "exterminate" with Daleks, where an American reader would, very natural, associate it with Hitler.

So while I was intending to compare Dawkins with ridiculous robot baddies in a children's TV programme, it could very easily have come across that I was comparing him with the gestapo.

(I also used the word "assimilate" which had a specific meaning for Star Trek fans, but not necessarily anyone else.)

The passage would be improved if I had simply written "and ex-ter-min-ate the inferior creatures" but in fact the whole joke needs to be broader perhaps "Once you have divided people into sheep and goats you can then assimilate the logical, create an invincible cyber army, and rampage across the universe seeking out life forms that have not learned to think and EX-TER-MIN-ATING them." I am not sure whether it is worth making this change in the blog, but any collected edition will reflect this. Thanks for drawing my attention to.

Carry on.

Blood libel, indeed.

Andrew Rilstone said...

I have actually updated the piece because I think the amendment makes it better. I took the opportunity to make one other change which has been suggested by well-wishers.

E said...


These things can spiral out of control related to length, will attempt to answer your questions in brief - let me know if something isn't clear and I'll try to expand.

I think Andrew's line is a good read on the New Atheists, a couple of quotes below:

The question of whether there exists a supernatural creator, a God, is one of the most important that we have to answer. I think that it is a scientific question. My answer is no. ~Dawkins

What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof. ~Hitchens

Go ahead and believe in God, if you like, but don't imagine that you have been given any grounds for such a belief by science. ~Dennett

It is time that we admitted that faith is nothing more than the license religious people give one another to keep believing when reasons fail. ~Harris

I hear what you're saying, amend my statement to be that these folks consistently say things like, "scientific and logical means are the ONLY way for arriving at truth." So anything outside of that particular discipline can be dismissed out of hand. That is the New Atheist line isn't it?

Yes, I am seriously suggesting that Andrew was not saying Dawkins is, in fact, literally, a genocidal maniac. Or that he was making a comparison that implied any such thing. AR confirmed this in his own comment.

It's not that I'm afraid of incendiary language. But when you say "goat raper" or something similar and then step back and act like that is the same as saying "candlemaker" or something much more innocuous - that's a bit dishonest rhetorically. That kind of thing seems consistent from the NA camp.

It's the shell game that bothers me.

My read of AR's comments about Dawkins isn't that he feels Dawkins is somehow sub-human and therefore fair game for saying anything about him. It would be more accurate to say that his way of argument, or using language, or not being allowed to have a valid belief about anything without "proving" it first - has the potential to dehumanize us all if we buy it.

So we shouldn't do that.

g said...


The quotations you give don't seem to me to be saying anything even slightly like "scientific and logical means are the only ways to arrive at the truth". Especially if you take "scientific" to mean something like "falling within the purview of one or another of the usual branches of science", rather than "looking rationally at empirical evidence and taking measures to avoid fooling oneself".

And no, "anything outside of that particular discipline can be dismissed out of hand" is not -- so far as I can tell -- the New Atheist line. It's a caricature widely deployed by their opponents.

I have the impression that you think you are disagreeing with me when you say that Andrew isn't literally claiming that Richard Dawkins is a genocidal maniac. You aren't. As I wrote before: "Of course Andrew doesn't actually think that Dawkins actually intends to raise a robot army of cold logicians and exterminate everyone else. But, as I believe someone may have commented earlier here, cultural meanings and feelings matter, and if you go out of your way to conjure up an association in people's minds between atheists and genocide, I do think you are being irresponsibly and harmfully unfair."

Take your paragraph about goat-rapers and replace them with Daleks. It exactly explains what I find problematic about Andrew's rhetoric here.

It isn't made less problematic by the suggestion that oh no, Andrew wasn't saying that Richard Dawkins is somehow less than human, only that using language the way Richard Dawkins allegedly does would make us less than human. (Exercise for the reader: work out why.)

Nor by the observation that Andrew wasn't merely dubbing the New Atheists with the name of a race of inhuman genocidal killing machines -- he was dubbing them with the name of a race of ridiculous inhuman genocidal killing machines.

And yes, for the avoidance of doubt, I did understand that Andrew was Making a Joke. I would refer the honourable gentleman to the Eleventh Epistle of Screwtape.

Andrew Rilstone said...

See new thread.

Andrew Rilstone said...

No, not that one, the other one.