Atheist Alliance International, an alliance of several smaller atheist groups, will award their 2009 Richard Dawkins Award to comedian and talk show host Bill Maher. This has upset a lot of skeptics, since Bill Maher, in addition to being a loud and open atheist, is also a promoter of pseudoscientific “alternative medicine” treatments, a promulgator of paranoid conspiracy theories about pharmaceutical companies and western medicine, and an antivaccinationist. The Dawkins Award, in the words of AAI, is supposed to be given to those people “whose contributions raise public awareness of the nontheist life stance; who through writings, media, the arts, film, and/or the stage advocates increased scientific knowledge; who through work or by example teaches acceptance of the nontheist philosophy…” Bill Maher may meet the secularist qualifications, but he fails miserably on the increasing scientific knowledge front. And the nonsense he spews could keep people from seeking life-saving medical treatment.
Some of the criticism over this award has been directed at Richard Dawkins himself, but he’s not a member of the AAI committee that chose Maher as this year’s recipient. However, AAI has issued a statement claiming Dawkins is “happy” with the decision, as he doesn’t have to agree with someone on every point to appreciate his or her work promoting nontheism. AAI says Maher’s documentary “Religulous” was “easily the most prominent film against religion in the United States last year”.
via The Amateur Scientist: The Value in Skepticism.