Richard Dawkins website blocked for being “occult” and “religious”

This is a classic from the New Scientist Feedback section (25th December) where Eliot Attridge let them know that when he wanted to read more about Richard Dawkins:

Unfortunately, the school has installed a net filter called Netsweeper which, Attridge discovered, blocks access to on the grounds that it is an “occult site”.

To add insult to injury when Eliot tested with Sonicwall that described his site as “religious” – I wonder which wrong label would infuriate Dawkins most ? 🙂

11 thoughts on “Richard Dawkins website blocked for being “occult” and “religious”

  1. Richard’s proud of being an Atheist. Atheism is a religion. So it’s simple: Richard’s been correctly categorised there. Round of applause.

    The occult side is harder. Richard used to have many followers that simply believed whatever he said (wrote), which made his site a personality cult vector. Now, however, he has to work a little harder to get that level of faith. So… odd-cult it may be, but I think “occult” misses the mark.

    Might infuriate a number of genuinely occult believers, too, and they can get grumpy in a practical fashion. (-:

  2. I’m not really aware of a definition of religion that would qualify atheism as one. It’s a non-belief rather than a belief, to my mind.

    As for occult, I’d say firmly no, he’s a scientist so he really doesn’t want “hidden” (occult) knowledge, he wants to publish or perish. 🙂

  3. chris,

    A religion is a system of beliefs, polarity isn’t globally implied. Belief in no-God is as much part of such a system as belief in Allah or Buddha or Christ or don’t-know or Gaia or mystic tigers, or name-it…

    WRT “occult”, it has many meanings besides “hidden”. Richard wants people to accept his PoV, which might require not broadcasting some aspects of it quite so loudly as others. However, as you’ve observed, he seems to be more about getting in people’s faces than being shy about his message, so the main traditional aspect of occultism is, I agree, definitely absent.


    Perhaps they just got the date wrong? (-:

    Peace? Happiness? Nah, just rumours. (-:

  4. Hi Leon,

    I can have a system of beliefs around the fact that my milk and food will still be in the fridge when I get home, but that doesn’t make me religious about my fridge. 🙂

    I think we’ll have to agree to disagree, I strongly feel that a belief that there is no god doesn’t mean that you are religious at all. Now I’m not saying that being an atheist doesn’t mean you can’t be religious – look at some Buddhist sects for instance, they don’t necessarily believe Buddha was divine, just that he managed to obtain “enlightenment” (but yes, I am aware that there are some that do believe he is divine). But I don’t believe it means you are either.

    Virtually all of the definitions I could find for religion include a sense of a supernatural being(s) or force(s) that is/are outside of the laws of nature, and to me that’s probably the crux of the matter and where you could clearly say that Dawkins isn’t religious precisely because he doesn’t think there is anything outside of physical laws (like myself).

  5. The thing;s a shame, I came accross this ‘cuz the admin at my workplace (large media multinational) had blocked access to quite a few sites on the network and I was needing some of those for work. Especially when you are in the media you can need to access slightly questionable sites to get juicy quotes etc. Now getting formal permission takes aprox 2 hours for each time, so what we eventually did was use proxy websites like etc as anonymous proxies to get to the site.

  6. About the Dawkins site being blocked as occult and religious: I just wanted to say that I was put off by the site look and general aesthetics. It does look like something by the Church of Scientology SA.

  7. I don’t think any human classified the Dawkins site as religious. It’s done by software that scans text looking for keywords to tell it what the subject matter is. Since Dawkins discusses religion a lot, the software sees many religious references and classifies the site as religious. The software is oblivious to the meaning of what it reads.

  8. It’s entirely possible it was classified by a human. Don’t doubt that people exist for whom Atheist == Not Christian == Devil Worshipper == Occult, and that there are enough of such people that web filters are written with them in mind. The classification given here even makes sense, if you are such a person and wish to deny your children access to “occult” material.

  9. Some people have plastic garden gnomes, and I firmly believe that they made theworld, created the flowers in the garden, and mow the lawn every night. I am a gnomist, it is my religion and I demand respect.

    Some people say this is not true, and call themselves a-gnomists.
    I cannot understand how they cling to this non-believer position, which is obviously a religion, called agnomism. They say I have no proof about my gnomism belief, but they cannot prove that the gnomes don’t dig the garden, when they are not looking.

    They are just bigotted agnomists, obsessed with their religion.

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