Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins has once again found himself at the centre of controversy after he waded into the discussion about Ahmed Mohamed’s home-made clock, questioning whether the teenager had actually built it at all and why he’d done so.
14-year-old Muslim schoolboy Ahmed was arrested by five police officers in Texas after he brought the clock to school and a teacher apparently mistook it for a bomb. Shockingly, Ahmed has since been suspended from school for three days.
In the aftermath, Ahmed received overwhelming support from people on social media and U.S. President Barack Obama even invited the teenager to the White House.
Taking to Twitter himself, however, Dawkins was not convinced by the legitimacy of Ahmed’s clock creation skills and even questioned his motives for doing so, although he did agree with the majority that the teenager should never have been arrested.
Dawkins posted a link to a video in which user Thomas Talbot alleges that Ahmed’s clock is not an invention, but instead “the ‘clock’ is a commercial bedside alarm clock removed from its casing”.
If this is true, what was his motive? Whether or not he wanted the police to arrest him, they shouldn’t have done so https://t.co/LtOFAAmVxK
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) September 20, 2015
In a series of tweets, Dawkins added:
If this is true, what was his motive? Whether or not he wanted the police to arrest him, they shouldn’t have done so. This man seems to know what he’s talking about.
Assembling clock from bought components is fine. Taking clock out of its case to make it look as if he built it is not fine. Which is true?
Yes, there are other reasons why a boy might take a clock out of its casing & pretend he’d made it. Trying to impress teachers, for instance.
If the reassembled components did something more than the original clock, that’s creative. If not, it looks like hoax.
Dawkins, the author of books including bestsellers The God Delusion and The Selfish Gene, is a leading critic of religious belief and an advocate for rational thought, but this isn’t the first time that Dawkins’ social media musings have gotten him into trouble, especially when it comes to Islam.
As the backlash to his comments grew, Dawkins eventually retreated from his bizarre (and fairly pointless) stance.
In an answer to a Twitter user who wrote, “I think you too frequently confuse ‘truth’ with ‘obsessive and unnecessary dedication to accuracy’”, Dawkins replied, “That could well be true, in which case I apologise. I guess I’m a bit sensitive about being among the many fooled.”
Dawkins has since retweeted Obama’s White House invitation to Ahmed, perhaps in way of apology. In future, maybe he should just think before he tweets!