Coyne Replies…But We're Still Not Past "Shut Up"

By Chris Mooney | June 5, 2009 9:57 am

His reply is here. He fails to comment on my invitation to a substantive in-person debate, and insists I was trying to tell him to “shut up.”

All I can do is continue to note that this is false–and also that I don’t have any powers of censorship. I’m not the Church (the very idea is comical), and Coyne is not Galileo (among other things, Galileo was very religious).

I’m on an article deadline but I will be posting my next (substantive) response to Coyne soon, which perhaps will get us past the censorship canard. Certainly this next piece, which focuses on science and religion in the Dover trial, and some points of philosophy, is fully substantive–though inevitably it also has strategic elements in it. It is already written, it just needs editing. More soon…


Comments (15)

  1. Jerry Coyne

    Did you not see this in my post?

    “I will wait until Mooney publishes all of his several promised critiques of accommodationism before I respond.”

    That certainly is a comment on your invitation!

  2. i guess not. okay. more soon then.

  3. I’m thinking maybe just leave the blog wars out of it and critique the various positions without bringing the personalities into it.

  4. At this point, it seems to be nothing more than a cross-blog pee content. Who is really interested in that?

  5. Jon

    Who is really interested in that?

    If you hadn’t noticed, the blogosphere loves pee contests. I’ve read some rants by ostensibly educated people that could have been delivered by Hulk Hogan…

  6. Jon,
    Yes it does, but I still think we’re going to do better with this one…

  7. Gaythia

    Chris, as part of “doing better” would you please add the term “shut up” to those items not allowed under the comments policy. It is, in my opinion, incompatible with fostering a constructive discussion here.

  8. Anthony McCarthy

    There isn’t enough adult level fighting on blogs. Most of the comment threads devolve into an in group clique that all end up reinforcing their preexisting beliefs and trying to top each other with more irresponsible and outrageous expressions of that. If you go onto one of them and try to point out what they’re saying doesn’t make sense or is flat wrong, the response isn’t usually more than “shut up”, with an article and f-bomb between them.

    Having read the book, I’d expect this side can do more than steroid addled posturing and bluffing. If it’s a formal debate on stage, though, which is an entertainment, you shouldn’t forget that. It’s not about settling a question, it’s about changing a margin who will vote for your position.

  9. Erasmussimo

    I went over to Mr. Coyne’s blog and read his post. I was disappointed that the entire content seemed to be an attempt to prove that you really DID tell him to shut up. Who cares? I think you’ve been handling this with much maturity. If I were in your position, I would stipulate (not concede, STIPULATE) that “I am a big fat stupid person who told you to shut up, and that makes me a stinky-winky” and then suggest that we move on. However, while that’s what I would do, I can’t recommend the policy to you.

    There really is a substantial issue here in the matter of accommodationism. I think that it deserves serious discussion in our community. And I’ll warn everybody that there’s a tricky spectrum of meaning arising from the vehemence of disagreement. The more forcefully one expresses disagreement, the easier it is for opponents to infer an attempt at censorship. All such inferences are incorrect, because nobody is in a position to censor anybody on the Internet. I can tell another person that their comment is so bad that it will lead to the extinction of all life on the planet, and that person will likely — and incorrectly — infer that I am suggesting that their comment should not have been made. So let’s just dump all this silliness about censorship and telling people to shut up. It’s ridiculous. So shut up about saying “shut up”! 😉

  10. Chris

    maybe you two should just get in a room and hash it out – in front of microphones, then podcast it.

  11. I’d love to do it in front of microphones, webcast, podcast, etc. But here is my next reply to Coyne, which just went up

  12. Cross-posted from “Why Evolution is True”:

    Oh come on, if Mooney was telling Coyne to shut up, fine, but then we’re all being told to shut up countless times during the course of a month.

    Indeed, wasn’t Coyne telling Forrest and the NCSE to “shut up,” if we’re using this particular (loose) standard? Not altogether, of course, but to shut up about religion. Which is the closest Mooney came to telling anyone to “shut up.”

    Or one could understand Coyne and Mooney to be making statements about what is preferable to say, and how to say it. This is done all of the time as well.

    There may be specific objections to be made about what Mooney said (especially the title), but those would be better to focus upon, rather than turning this into an issue of someone supposedly saying “shut up.”

    Glen Davidson

  13. Aquaria

    1) Debates are not where issues are resolved, nor where truth is established. It’s an appeal to mob rule (let the audience–notoriously stupid and easily swayed–decide!), not truth. It is for this reason that some people consider public debates as the last refuge of scoundrels and creationists.

    2) To paraphrase a famous quote, your debating with Coyne might look good on your c.v., not so good on Coyne’s.

  14. Anthony McCarthy

    1) Debates are not where issues are resolved, nor where truth is established. It’s an appeal to mob rule (let the audience–notoriously stupid and easily swayed–decide!), not truth. It is for this reason that some people consider public debates as the last refuge of scoundrels and creationists.

    Did you miss those famous debates two years back between Chris Hedges and Sam Harris on one night and Christopher Hitchens the next night? I’m pretty sure that most of the brite lights of the new atheism have participated in public debates.


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About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs.For a longer bio and contact information, see here.


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