PZ Myers vs. Unscientific America: Part III

By The Intersection | July 15, 2009 11:26 am

In this post, we complete our rebuttals to PZ Myers’ review of our book, Unscientific America. For those who’ve just arrived, we previously laid out the course our response would take here, and began to respond here and here. This is the fourth and final post.

9. Bigotry. At the end of his review, Myers says something astonishing. He claims that our “bigotry blinds [us] to a range of approaches offered by the ‘New Atheists’…a group that is not so closed to the wide range of necessarily differing tactics that such a deep problem requires as Mooney and Kirshenbaum are.”

This is a baseless accusation. Chris is an atheist, and he is not bigoted against himself, his mother (an outspoken secular humanist), or any other atheists. Sheril is Jewish an agnostic, and not bigoted against Chris or any other atheists, either.

Myers provides no evidence of our supposed biogtry. He just makes an inflammatory accusation, one not at all conducive to rational or calm discussion.

It is precisely this kind of rhetoric that led us to address Myers so directly in Unscientific America.

10. The Trouble With PZ Myers. In his review, Myers doesn’t address our criticisms of him–of his public writings and actions. But we will end by elaborating upon why, in the wake of the communion wafer desecration, we decided we had to speak out about Myers in a way that would really be heard.

Though we have not said so until now, Myers is among the central reasons we left ScienceBlogs. There were many factors involved, of course, but one was our shock at what he calls “Crackergate.” We describe the full incident in the book, but let us quote from Myers’ words when he closed off comments (there had been over 2,000) after posting his picture of the defiled eucharist with a rusty nail driven through it:

What effort I put into [the desecration] was not in response to the reality of your silly deity, but in response to the reality of your dangerous delusions. Those are real, all right, and they need to be belittled and weakened. But don’t confuse the fact that I find you and your church petty, foolish, twisted, and hateful to be a testimonial to the existence of your petty, foolish, twisted, hateful god.

Now I’m afraid I’m going to have to close this thread. Its purpose has been well served: the fanatical Catholics and their crazy beliefs have been fully exposed. Over 2300 comments on this subject in 20 hours is quite enough.

Watching all of this, we were appalled. We could not see what this act could possibly have to do with promoting science and reason. It contributed nothing to the public understanding or appreciation of science, and everything to a nasty, ugly culture war that hurts and divides us all.

We recognize that Myers writes entertainingly and sometimes hilariously; we know he’s kind and soft-spoken in person; and we realize he describes science accurately and insightfully. And we understand he’s a very good teacher as well.

Nevertheless, in his online persona–and nowhere more than with the wafer desecration–we believe he cultivates a climate of extremism, incivility and, indeed, unreason (the opposite of calm and respectful debate and exchange) at ScienceBlogs. And it is past time that someone spoke out about that, as we did in Unscientific America.

For too long, people in the science blogosphere have tiptoed around Myers. After all, he can send a lot of angry commenters your way. And he, and they, are unrelenting in their criticisms, their attacks, and so on. Just read our threads over the last week–it’s all there, the vast majority from people who have not read our book and do not seem inclined to do so.

But we’re not afraid of Myers or his commenters. They can leave hundreds of posts on our blog–we readily allow it–but our book will be read by a different and far more open-minded audience. It’s already happening. And that audience will largely agree that Myers’ communion wafer desecration was offensive and counterproductive, and that more generally, he epitomizes the current problems with the communication of science on the Internet.

We know how many others agree with us, because we have heard from them. We also know the standards of intellectual decency, fairness, and so on that we’ve learned from years of journalism and in academia. And if, as our book proposes, we are going to be training young science communicators, they must learn at least two basic lessons they will not be getting from Myers: civility and tolerance.

Our core concern, though, isn’t really about Myers or his blog. What worries us is what they say about the world of American science as it appears on the Internet. For Myers is, as we all know, the most popular blogger on the most popular science blogging site–and has a horde of loyal followers who see themselves as the disciples of reason, and swear by “science” (when they’re not just swearing).

And this is his most famous performance: Desecrating a communion wafer.

That doesn’t just say something unflattering about Myers–it says something devastating about all of us.

Comments (856)

  1. Craig B

    Wow, this is something – really self-indulgent and self-martyred.

    Maybe I’m not typical of the commenters here, Chris, but I read and liked the first two books and read your blog before I read PZ’s, before Sheril joined, and so on. I stopped reading it regularly because, just like now, you pay no attention to the substance of any of the comments – many of which have been well informed, thoughtful, specific, and constructive. Dismissing all the comments on these threads – how utterly arrogant and wasteful.

    Ever since you hooked up with Nisbet, you seem to have lost your way as an investigator and thinker and become single-minded, impervious to the thinking of anyone you don’t already agree with, and seriously narcissistic. Sad.

  2. Lowell

    Goodness gracious. There’s swearing on PZ’s blog?! Thanks for warning me! I have the vapors just thinking about it, better go have a lie down . . .

  3. Ryan

    Although a long follower and reader I think I may have only posted once or twice before. I just wanted to say thank you for coming out and standing strong in this difficult discussion against what I believe to be a very unfortunate distraction (and step backward) in the advancement and public understanding of science by Myers and his followers.

    Just wondering if you’ve caught up with Robert Wright and his new book, “The Evolution of God”? He’s in your corner and he’s presented a very refreshing perspective against the “new athiests.”

  4. Jon

    I posted it on another thread, but I think what’s gathered around the Internet Atheists is a good argument for Cass Sunstein’s side of this bloggingheads dialog:

    http://crookedtimber.org/2008/03/03/deliberation-vs-participation-in-blogs/

    I’m generally an enthusiast for the online political left, but the internet atheists show that there can be some problems…

  5. Davo

    I am sorry but again, your efforts to deflect criticism of bigotry by pointing to your own supposed credentials as atheists or agnostics does not hold much water. You can be perfectly capable of being bigoted toward a subset of the group you belong to; it happens all the time. Also again, your almost exclusive focus on ‘crackergate’ simply diverts attention from the central points that were being made. Also, religous extremists indulge in many extreme actions far more deplorable in their bigotry than ‘crackergate’. PZ Myers may be using strong language here and there, but is ‘crackergate’, a single instance, really comparable to the many more acts of heinous intolerance committed by religious zealots? Sorry, but I find it deplorable that you and others compare what you see as the excesses of the “New Atheism” to the excessess of religious intolerance, and that too largely based on a single incident whose whole overarching point was very different from what you interpreted it to be.

  6. EJ

    PZ’s popular for the same reason talk radio is popular. Dumb people like to get riled up, and they like their little echo chamber.

  7. —- Our core concern, though, isn’t really about Myers or his blog. What worries us is what they say about the world of American science as it appears on the Internet. For Myers is, as we all know, the most popular blogger on the most popular science blogging site–and has a horde of loyal followers who see themselves as the disciples of reason, and swear by “science” (when they’re not just swearing). SK CM

    Unlike cable TV, the blogosphere is wide open, the blogger is the only one that has control of the content of their blog, at least in so far as the blogger’s posts go. Some regulate comments, some don’t, some don’t have comments at all. The results are that different readers will go to different blogs based on what they want to look at. One of the ways you get a large audience in that kind of situation is by being intentionally outrageous in a way that will appeal to a specific audience, that’s one way to get a large audience. I think that’s clearly the non-secret to PZ’s success. If he didn’t make that kind of outrageous PR attempt or appeal to the tastes, such as they be, of his audience, he’d be another science blog with a limited audience.

    Those are all his choice, within his control, just as his most famous publicity stunt was in his control. Just as the dope who offended people at a Catholic Mass was the one who initiated the entirely predictable reaction to what I fully believe he would have known was a serious act of desecration. It was like the street thug in Maine who rolled a pig’s head into an Islamic congregation. Any claims that those weren’t known to be provocative are absurd and unbelievable.

    For people who do those kinds of things to express their victimization when they get the predictable reaction is dishonest. For their fans it’s almost as dishonest. Of course PZ knew what was going to happen, he was, in effect, replicating an action that had already gotten an effect. He’s got a background in science.

    The blog swarm here is just a mob action. It’s going to be one of the things that happens when someone offends the tender sensibilities of the new atheists. I’ve advocated that we deal with them according to the rules they apply to their enemies instead of the ones we apply to more reasonable people. If we don’t it just allows them to rig the rules in their favor. I’m aware of the loss of dignity but the blogs can turn into the equivalent of a down market bar pretty fast. Especially when the new atheists are involved. You don’t go into a brawl without being aware you’re going to lose dignity, but the alternative is to allow thugs to gain ground and to silence the rest of us.

  8. Richard

    A few questions:

    Why do you not mention the broader context of the ‘Crackergate’ affair and concentrate only on PZ’s action in desecrating the communion wafer? And why have you not mentioned the fact that at the same time he desecrated the wafer he did the same to a page from the Quran and a page from the God Delusion?

  9. John Kwok

    Chris and Sheril,

    Thanks for saying what needed to be said about PZ (And please take with a large grain of salt all of the nonsense that he and his acolytes have written about me. Because if they really believed it, then I wouldn’t be in contact with certain prominent critics of creationism now. And no, I’m not going to mention names lest he accuse me of “name dropping”, which, incidentally he does a much better job of – in letting others know that he is the best American pal of Richard Dawkins – than I am capable of. But back to your point, in January, he gleefully boasted back at his blog that he was named to a “Dirty Dozen” list of “prominent” anti – Catholic bigots by a noted American Catholic organization. I must submit respectfully that he’s doing all of this anti – religious nonsense as a means of craving as much notoriety as possible, and who cares about the consequences, any way?

  10. James M

    This powerful statement needed to be said and should continue to be repeated. Those in the practicing science community applaud you Chris and Sheril.

    Thank you

  11. Matt Penfold

    Tell, Mooney and Kirshenbaum, is the reason you have failed to provide the background that led to the desecration that you simply are not aware of the background or is that you are just dishonest.

    Also, you use the term desecration. Unless you are using the word in an ironic context it suggests you think that there is something sacred about a cracker after a Catholic priest has said his magic words. And yet you both claim to be people who value science. Yeah, right.

    Mooney has been highly vocal in speaking out against Republican efforts to stifle science. He has even written a couple of books about it. I did not notice Kirshenbaum getting all upset and complaining he was being disrespectful of Republicans. Why should the religious, who it must be remembered has issued death threats to both Webster Cooke and PZ, being exempt from others being respectful ?

    Can Mooney and Kirshenbaum confirm, for the record, that they condemn the assault by a lay official on Webster Cooke during a communion service, the allegations from a Catholic Bishop that Cooke was guilty of hate crimes, and the death threats Cooke and Myers received.

    As a non American I would also point out that is anyone is bringing American science into disrespect (other than the religious) it is you two, and Matt Nisbet.

    A good number of us are still waiting for either of you to be bothered to support your assertions that religion and science are compatible. We know you think that is the case, but you refuse to explain why. The claim was made in the Newsweek article as well, with no evidence offered to support it. At the very least that is sloppy journalism. For people who claim to put so much store in science, you do not seem to understand the concept of producing evidence to support your claims.

  12. Jon

    Another link I’ve posted before, but it’s worth sharing again. I think if PZ Myers and the online atheists sounded like Carl Sagan did in this clip, there wouldn’t be a problem:

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2181165206611526024&hl=en#7m52s

    Sagan says everything there needs to be said *and* he respects peoples spiritual traditions and matters of conscience. He’s no Dawkins accusing people of child abuse.

  13. Matt Penfold

    Why do you not mention the broader context of the ‘Crackergate’ affair and concentrate only on PZ’s action in desecrating the communion wafer? And why have you not mentioned the fact that at the same time he desecrated the wafer he did the same to a page from the Quran and a page from the God Delusion?

    Either because they are unaware of that fact, or it suits them to lie by omission. Or they are just incompetent.

  14. Lowell

    Since this is Part III of three, I’ll go ahead and ask whether Mooney and Kirshbaum are ever going to address the criticism that their book misrepresents the “new atheists” by stating that they claim “scientific norms and practices . . . entirely preclude God’s existence.”

    Dawkins doesn’t say that, and neither does anybody else, as far as I can tell. Dawkins says he’s a 6 out of 7 on the atheism scale. In other words, there’s no good reason to believe in Yahweh or any other god, and he lives his life under the (apparently very safe) assumption that no such being exists.

    Does that sound like he asserts that science “entirely preclude[s] God’s existence”? Not to me. So what’s the deal?

  15. And why have you not mentioned the fact that at the same time he desecrated the wafer he did the same to a page from the Quran and a page from the God Delusion?

    Has Richard Dawkins or any of his fans complained about what he did to TGD? I haven’t heard any reaction to the Quran desecration, though I’d imagine any might be gratifying to someone who publicly did that during a period when the reaction to that kind of act, getting large numbers of people injured and even killed. Anyone who assumes Myers knew what had happened in the aftermath of the cartoons published in the Danish newspaper, could hardly be faulted for assuming PZ would be prepared for some kind of reaction to his publicity stunt. I haven’t checked his archive to see if he’d commented on the demonstrations and riots that had left people dead in the aftermath of the cartoons. Did he comment on that?

  16. Feynmaniac

    And he, and they, are unrelenting in their criticisms, their attacks, and so on. Just read our threads over the last week–it’s all there, the vast majority from people who have not read our book and do not seem inclined to do so.

    But we’re not afraid of Myers or his commenters.

    Screech Monkey:

    “You’re starting to sound like something I’d see in The Onion: Blogger Shocked At Being Criticized On Internet; Bravely Vows To Fight On.” [My bold]

  17. Matt Penfold

    Though we have not said so until now, Myers is among the central reasons we left ScienceBlogs.

    You are not missed.

  18. OK, I looked. It’s pretty astounding after writing this, that Myers would have risked desecration of the Quran.

    There are some things a cartoonist would be rightly excoriated for publishing: imagine that one had drawn an African-American figure as thick-lipped, low-browed, smirking clown with a watermelon in one hand and a fried chicken drumstick in the other. Feeding bigotry and flaunting racist stereotypes would be something that would drive me to protest any newspaper that endorsed it—of course, my protests would involve writing letters and canceling subscriptions, not rioting and burning down buildings. There is a genuine social concern here, I think. Muslims represent a poor and oppressed underclass, and those cartoons represent a ruling establishment intentionally taunting them and basically flipping them off. They have cause to be furious!

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/02/poxridden_houses.php

  19. John Kwok

    @ Jon –

    I might also observe too that physicist Lawrence Krauss comes across a lot like Sagan too in person, especially when he speaks to Fundamentalist Protestant Christian audiences (which he apparently does do quite often).

  20. PZ Myers may be using strong language here and there, but is ‘crackergate’, a single instance, really comparable to the many more acts of heinous intolerance committed by religious zealots?

    You really shouldn’t point to instances of bad behavior as an excuse to justify your own bad behavior. That’s bad form.

  21. John Kwok

    @ Chris and Sheril –

    If nothing else, maybe your book might persuade some at ScienceBlogs that Myers is an ongoing problem to their image and credibility. I sincerely hope so.

  22. Tristanm

    Funny how Mooney seems to omit the fact that Crackergate was a response to death threats after condemning the death threats given to Webster Cooke in response for taking a communion wafer and not eating it.

    Of course the death threats aren’t important. It’s how Myers responded to them that is important! Next to his response, the death threats mean nothing!

  23. Blogger

    #6 really nailed it.

  24. Tristanm

    Hmm, the comment system removed my sarcasm tags. The second paragraph is supposed to be sarcasm.

  25. Matti K.

    You must understand Mr. Mooney. Naive thinkers always need an villain to make their story, and Dr. Myers is a convenient villain for the time beeing. If there would be no Myers, other “new atheist” scientists would do. In the good old days before Crackergate and Expelled, it was Dawkins who the framers used as the bad example of a good scientist gone awry.

    It seems that just like many priests use the concept of hell to get their point accross to the congregation, Mr. Mooney and Ms. Kirshenbaum use Dr. Myers in a similar way. And they certainly are preaching, not debating.

    How come other accommodationists, like Barbara Forrester or Eugenie Scott, can put their point accross with less fire and brimstone? Should we label Mr. Mooney and Ms. Kirshenbaum as “New Accommodationists” (because of their militancy)?

  26. Zachary Blount

    Chris and Sheril,

    Thank you…To echo James M in comment #10, many of us in the practicing science community do indeed applaud and commend you.

    Zachary

  27. Michael Fugate

    Do you have a single shred of evidence that PZ has harmed science literacy?

  28. Feynmaniac

    OK, I looked. It’s pretty astounding after writing this, that Myers would have risked desecration of the Quran.

    Actually the Catholics were the ones sending him the death threats. They also sent him copies of the Quran asking him to desecrate that as well (not hard to figure out what they were thinking). I don’t think a single Muslim sent him a threat of violence though.

  29. Walker

    I am convinced that this blog has just turned into one solid flame war to promote the book.

    It is not like anything is ever being argued substantially in the comments. The sides continue to talk past each other without any agreement on the basic definitions or principals. The goal posts move so fast they have achieved wave state.

    The book is supposed to be about communication between the two sides (something that I am very supportive of). But the end all we have is yet another Internet flame war on religion and society.

  30. Cain

    It seems M/K completely missed the point of “Crackergate”. PZ didn’t just choose to impale a communion wafer at the end of a night of drunken atheist debauchery. PZ was instead invoking Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, “The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.” Because we are a tolerant friendly people, the right of the faithful to believe anything they want shall not be infringed. That right ends at Webster Cook’s person. The church physically assaulted Cook for attempting taking the wafer Cook was give home with him. We don’t have the right to demand that unbelievers or those that believe differently hold our symbols sacred. The church asserted this right and PZ properly smacked them down for it. In the end we are left with the facts that the church assaulted a person and in response Myers assaulted a cracker. Personally, as far as possible responses go, it was an act of high civility.

  31. Stu

    Okay, that’s it. You’re nothing but dishonest hacks, and you’re not even good at it.

    In response to PZ closing the thread with

    “Now I’m afraid I’m going to have to close this thread. Its purpose has been well served: the fanatical Catholics and their crazy beliefs have been fully exposed.”

    You say:

    “Watching all of this, we were appalled. We could not see what this act could possibly have to do with promoting science and reason.”

    It doesn’t. Because it wasn’t meant to. You know, LIKE HE SAID.

    You should be embarrassed.

  32. J.D.

    Well there you have it, the authors can simply dismiss all the well reasoned legitimate questions put to them by simply labelling them as nasty hordes of PZ sycophants. Now I see what framing is good for.

    Nope, you’ve been asked for the slightest bit of evidence that shows in any way whatsoever a basis for your astounding assertion that “The new atheist movement takes an adversarial approach, but only succeeds in alienating the majority of the planet away from science.” You have failed to address this in the slightest or even provide the slightest bit of evidence that even a small fraction of the “majority of the planet” has the slightest clue who your cadres of “new atheists” even are much less know about their alienating adversarial approach. It’s been definitively shown you misrepresented Dawkin’s position. You’ve made patently false and absurd statements (e.g. “A film with just dinosaurs running around would never have been so successful (and would never have been made). That was our point.” ). And you have been profoundly dishonest and underhanded in putting up a comment from a blog post to attack as “typical of PZ’s followers” and not mentioning the important impetus for your prime target of disgust in the “crackergate” incident. For you PZ is the mad evil alienating scientist that must be laid low and shut up which is exactly what the hordes of zeolots that issued death threats to a boy who innocently took a cracker and then later issued death threats to PZ want. Oh and don’t dare say anything that might get those hordes running for their pitchforks because that would “alienate” them from ever coming to the light of science.

    You two have really dissappointed this reader, and no I’m not a PZ sycophant but I’m sure you’ll just dismiss me that way all the same. Really pathetic performance….

  33. Jon

    I am convinced that this blog has just turned into one solid flame war to promote the book.

    Have you ever seen a PZ Myers comment thread that wasn’t a “solid flame war?” I think PZ’s had a taste for that stuff since his Usenet days, and he’s got a commenter base that pretty much loves that…

  34. Walker


    Have you ever seen a PZ Myers comment thread that wasn’t a “solid flame war?”

    If you think I am on PZ’s side, you are mistaken. But his blog is not the one arguing for the two cultures to come together.

  35. Bernard Bumner

    …has a horde of loyal followers who see themselves as the disciples of reason, and swear by “science” (when they’re not just swearing).

    Because, if you can’t construct an argument, just seek to belittle and undermine.

    I’m not sure how this vitriolic screed against PZ and his supposed “followers” is consistent with your strategy of argument via appeasment, or with your claims to hold the high ground. I suspect that the petty tone of the “followers” accusation was calculated to sting; you could easily have chosen a neutral word, like “readership”.

    You seem to have somewhat misunderstood the Rules of The Internet if you think that Pharyngula regulars have come here for a fight as the minions of PZ. Indeed not; you cannot possible expect to make claims about the character and intelligence of others without them replying. Actually, you seem to hold dear your own right to reply, whilst simultaneously dismissing those who choose to do so in return.

    If you cannot understand that some people have chosen to come here and argue against what they genuinely perceive to be a half-baked thesis, then you seem not to have the interest in reasoned debate that you profess. It is simply lazy, not good enough, to pretend that people have only come here to complain because they are loyal to some personality. Especially so when they’ve attempted to address the broader points you’ve raised.

    I also note that you’ve not bothered to specifically address the numerous other critiques available online, even though you’re keen to trumpet the fact that some people agree with you.

  36. Stu

    Most importantly: note that PZ is not arguing for shutting Mooney up.

  37. Nutella

    @26: “Do you have a single shred of evidence that PZ has harmed science literacy?”

    This is the crucial question, and I see no evidence beyond assertion. I’m sure they could dig up a couple of people who would express dismay over what PZ did, but there are of course no statistics to support the general claim.

  38. ERV

    You are a disgusting, despicable creature, Chris Mooney.

    Enjoy the warmth from the bridges youre burning now No one will build them with you again.

  39. Matt Penfold

    Myers provides no evidence of our supposed biogtry. He just makes an inflammatory accusation, one not at all conducive to rational or calm discussion.

    Tell me Mooney and Kirshenbaum, why the sudden concern about evidence ?

    You do not seem to think you need to bother with things like evidence. You both claim science and religion are compatible and will not produce any evidence to support that claim, so do you think you somehow are exempt from the need to provide evidence ?

    I am now going to call you liars. You claim science and religion are compatible. You have been given ample opportunity to support that claim and have not done so. I thus conclude you have not done so because you cannot do so. You realise you have no evidence, and will not admit it. You lied.

  40. Peter Beattie

    Oh noes! He called us bigots! We’re an atheist and an agnostic, why doesn’t he see that we can’t be bigoted. Quick, call the Amazing Moonford to work his argumentative magic on him to show the world how wrongs he is! And look there! Is it a bird? It it a plane? No, it’s Super Sheril, taking on Big Bad PZ and his purple squid! Eww! Where lesser mortals fear to tread, Super Sheril rushes in and wields her mighty sword of self-righteousness in a dashing display of delusion. All ye suppressed, nay expelled, scientists out there watching, fear not, for the Amazing Moonford and Super Sheril have taken up fighting the good fight. They will not rest until they will have redeemed the sins of all of us!

  41. Paul

    In before “Ken Miller is religious and a scientist, so science and religion are compatible. QED”.

  42. John Kwok

    @ ERV –

    I would never thought I would say this, but I am in complete agreement with you with one notable exception. Your comment (@ 32) really is an apt description of yourself. Maybe one day you’ll wake up and realize that there other, much better, role models in science whom you should be emulating, not that bizarre agent provocateur of Militant Atheism who is your “Messiah”.

  43. Walker


    In before “Ken Miller is religious and a scientist, so science and religion are compatible. QED”.

    Wake me up when someone finally defines what “are compatible” means.

  44. Peter Beattie

    » Michael Fugate:
    Do you have a single shred of evidence that PZ has harmed science literacy?

    Not exactly their area of expertise, I’m afraid.

  45. Peter Beattie

    » John K.:
    I am in complete agreement with you with one notable exception.

    I think I can just see a Pulitzer around the corner for you.

  46. Screechy Monkey

    Hmm. So far in this thread of 33 comments, Chris and Sheril’s supporters have already called anyone on PZ’s side “dumb people,” “thugs,” and “acolytes.”

    And before Anthony McCarthy gives us another lecture on how he’s bravely giving us a dose of our own medicine: that’s not my point. We’re fine with strongly worded criticism. You’re not hurting my feelings, and I doubt you’re hurting PZ’s.

    But we’re not the ones complaining about how MEAN and UNCIVIL the other side is. I just find the hypocrisy amusing and worth noting.

  47. Matt Penfold

    Whoa, Kwak seems to have stopped lusting after ERV. I bet she will be gutted.

  48. — Dr. Myers is a convenient villain for the time beeing Matti K

    Last weekend one of his pals here was comparing him to Loki stabbing religion. That’s what one of his admirers said. You do know who Loki was, don’t you?

    Does anyone believe that PZ wants to avoid attention with his stunts and provocative writing? You think he’d be happy being ignored? I think he doesn’t like being criticized. He’s got a pretty thin skin considering his claim to fame. But he’s not stupid enough to have been doing what he does for as many years as he’s been doing it and have any right to some kind of protection on the basis of proper conduct in an intellectual discussion.

    The new atheists have declared religion and the religious to have the status of being intellectual outlaws, fair game for any kind of attack. Their stuff can get remarkably like some racist propaganda in the 19th and 20th centuries, it’s low down, dishonest and vicious. They often appeal to the lowest impulses of their audience, presenting crude stereotypes. Look at the quote from him @ 18:

    ” There are some things a cartoonist would be rightly excoriated for publishing: imagine that one had drawn an African-American figure as thick-lipped, low-browed, smirking clown with a watermelon in one hand and a fried chicken drumstick in the other. ”

    You think someone going through his blog couldn’t find things that could match that same analogy? In what he wrote, in his comment threads? How about in the other new atheist blogs?

    Not that I’d expect his fans to be able to see it.

  49. Blogger

    PZ Myers = Sean Hannity

    PZ Myers = Glenn Beck

    It works.

  50. John Kwok

    @ Peter –

    That’s one award I definitely won’t win, but if you meant that as a joke, then I appreciate it (Hey, why can’t I laugh at myself too?).

    @ Screechy Monkey –

    I’ll add one more. You’re obviously enjoying your membership in the Coyne/Myers Militant Atheist Borg Collective.

    @ Matt Penfold –

    I never did. But gee whiz, hasn’t Davros contacted you yet for some suitable new programming? I think there’s a defect somewhere in your Dalek circuitry.

  51. John Kwok

    @ Blogger –

    How about PZ Myers = Rush Limbaugh? That’s exactly how I have felt about him ever since “CrackerGate”.

  52. Blogger

    It works, but I like the equal lack of intelligence thing for comparing him to Hannity.

  53. John Kwok

    @ Penfold –

    On a more serious note, ERV contends that she took down Michael Behe all by her little young self with regards to Behe’s assertion that HIV/AIDS is an excellent example of Irreducible Complexity. What she may have forgotten is the fact that noted Michael Behe critic Ian Musgrave provided her with ample technical assistance. That’s an important omission of hers which neither she nor her most zealous acolytes care to admit.

  54. SLC

    Re ERV

    Ms. Smith was more emphatic on her blog when she suggested that Mr. Mooney commit an anatomically impossible sex act (this is somewhat cleaned up). And Mr. Kwok is cordially invited to do the same.

    Re Chris M0oney

    Mr. Mooney, in his jeremiad against PZ Myers for his actions in crackergate has chosen to get into bed with Bill Donahue, the well known antisemitic bigot. Perhaps Ms. Kirshenbaum, based on the Newsweek identification of her ethnic background, should consider whether she too wants to get into bed with him.

  55. John Kwok

    @ Blogger –

    I find Hannity rather nauseating and annoying, and I am supposedly a fellow Republican (But unlike him, I don’t march lock step with the Religious Right.). I think Limbaugh is a more apt anaology since Limbaugh excels in obnoxious stunts like my favorite Morris, MN-based evolutionary developmental biologist.

  56. NeverTheTwain

    I read your book. I want my money back.

  57. Damian

    I’ve just gotta find out how to gain entry to the mental world that some people appear to occupy:

    I’m right, you’re wrong, and that’s just all there is to it. Evidence and argumentation are unnecessary, and anyone who doesn’t agree with me is an unthinking acolyte. And, you get to be as nasty, anti-intellectual, and unethical as you like, while lecturing others about not showing enough deference and respect for the things that you don’t even believe in, yourself.

    It sounds absolutely terrific! A perfect bubble that allows you to write books that state the bleedin’ obvious, while at the same time, completely ignoring any and all objections.

    Is it any wonder that you’re not afraid, Chris? Absolutely shameful.

  58. Jon

    I think PZ has a much better batting average than right wing media, but the level of rhetoric is certainly up there. And he definitely goes for splash at the expense of precision or accuracy in a lot of cases.

    Here’s one of my favorite links on the subject of right wing media:
    http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2008/11/did-talk-radio-kill-conservatism.html

  59. Annie

    You are getting the kind of flogging (here and at other blogs) that
    Muslims reserve for the apostate. And the new atheists don’t think they’re militant…or even “new”!!!

  60. I’m glad you said that about “Crackergate.”

    I still think far too much is made of what he did there by some people. Nonetheless, it’s needlessly and unjustifiably offensive to many decent people who had absolutely nothing to do with the incident that started it all. And however much one may dislike RCC discipline, honestly, if you don’t like it, leave.

    The notion that it is wrong for legal voluntary organizations to enforce its own rules is more like an attack on free association than any kind of blow for freedom.

    A lot of what you said about Myers was hit or miss. But “Crackergate” was just an intolerant attack upon civil society itself.

    Glen Davidson
    http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p

  61. Palo

    “but our book will be read by a different and far more open-minded audience” [than PZ Myers blog commenters].

    Goodbye Chris. I used to respect you and your work. In the last few weeks you managed to present yourself as an intolerant and pedantic crank incapable of dealing with criticism and opposing views, just like what you criticize in others. Now you even take a shot a people like me, people that reads PZ’s blog, occasionally comment on it, and apparently is a closed-minded guy just because of that.
    I’m ambivalent about the full-blown take-no-prisoners approach of PZ and Dawkins on some issues. But they are a tremendously valuable voice in the name of science and reason. Your singling them out as a “problem” in the acceptance of science by the “public” is offensive and misguided, and to that I have to add now –based in your writings— that it is mean-spirited, self-serving, shallow and arrogant. I see no more value in your writings.
    Goodbye.

  62. Reggie

    A commenter on Coyne’s blog makes a good point:

    “What strikes me as odd is for a book called “Unscientific America” to mention science blogs and identify an event like “crackergate” as things of relevance to the scientific literacy of millions of people.

    It seems to me to be a pure product of vanity from the authors.

    They want to believe their blog matters, so if their blog matters, PZ’s must matter an order of magnitude more, and thus when he commits ‘framing heresy’, such crimes must be condemned, no?”

  63. Megan

    This post seems to be largely about how mean PZ Myers is. PZ Myers is mean, but — and here’s the kicker — that doesn’t make him wrong. You seem to be accusing him of pissing in the pool of science, so that now no one wants to get in. Evidence?

  64. Onkel Bob

    …our book will be read by a different and far more open-minded audience

    Or perhaps your book will only be read by your sycophants and the few reviewers. I do not believe Richard Scaife is not going to buy your book in bulk to distribute to his acolytes. Mein Gott, this descent into martyrdom is truly amazing. It is truly amazing that you utterly failed at addressing or responding to any of Dr. Myer’s criticism and instead chose to weave a tale of woe and mistreatment. It is a good thing that you are not a scientist – the critiques you would receive to a grant submission would be far more blistering and your rebuttals would garner howls of laughter from the committee.

    And Discovery Overlords – Please, Please, if you want what few literate posters that wandered over here to return, consider implementing a KILLFILE compatible format. This collection of blogs has some value, but is also infested with concern trolls. Although I undoubtedly will not return to this blog (I didn’t read them over on the other site) I would visit others if I didn’t need to wade through the dross that the resident CT’s post.

  65. Peter R.

    Thank you for sharing your concerns about Myers blog. I have had a similar reaction to Myers’ blog and echo chamber for several years now, although I still follow it from time to time. Technically, it isn’t really a “science” blog at all, but an “anti-religion” blog. Myers is essentially so obsessed with religion in all its forms that he can never just let go–it’s part of his own crusade (oops–did I use that word?). Methinks perhaps he protests too much…

    Two additional thoughts:

    1) Converts are always the strongest proselytizers (sp?), atheists included. And nearly all atheists are “converts.”
    2) The problem _isn’t_ atheism, which is a perfectly reasonable position to take (although I have not). It’s calling everyone else who isn’t an atheist mentally ill or deluded. Or, as Dawkins has said, teaching children religious principles is child abuse. How can you ever have any constructive dialogue with believers when your initial statement is to call them deluded? Would that work in any situation? These new crusading Atheists have this utopian fantasy that religion is going to disappear if we simply tell people they are simply deluded and don’t use reason. And they have no empathy for any kind of religious experience–there is no evidence for God, etc. What they mean is there is not evidence _they will accept_. Revelation is an completely different form of epistemology central to religion, an epistemology that isn’t, _and shouldn’t be_ accepted in science. There are forms of knowledge and experience that are not totally subject to reason.

  66. eugyppius

    Kwok and McCarthy: You guys are parodists right? New Atheists discrediting the accomodationists from the inside, right?

    Anyhow, I pop in here every eight hours or so to see if anybody’s provided evidence that Myers and Dawkins have contributed to scientific illiteracy. That’s still in the works I guess.

  67. Jon

    Am I one of your “concern trolls” Bob?

  68. Blogger

    So now PZ has his disciples claiming that Discover made a mistake by hiring Chris.

    Kill the messenger when you can’t deal with the message, I guess.

  69. Bernard Bumner

    …our book will be read by a different and far more open-minded audience…

    The question, of course, being – who?

    Mooney and Kirshenbaum are already vigorously ignoring their own strategy for mass appeal, by engaging in exactly the kind of strident, partisan nonsense they accuse others of. If they were making an appeal for Accomodationism, then they’ve fallen at the first hurdle by utterly failing to engage with the kind of people they would need to bring on board in order to organise such a strategy. Unless, of course, they’re hoping that their own meek and mild voices will drown out the more ardent (and popular) personalities?

  70. John Kwok

    @ Reggie and Onkel Bob –

    Unfortunately zealous religious creationists – and maybe a few other kinds of evolution denialsts – have contended that BELIEF IN EVOLUTION EQUALS DENIAL OF GOD. They can point easily to Pharyngula and similar science blogs as those which are representing their case in a most definitive, quite conclusive, way. Those who might want to disagree with their rather inane reasoning are confronted sadly with the ample hostility expressed by Militant Atheists posting online at Pharyngula and elsewhere. What else can they conclude but to suspect that maybe their zealous religious compatriots may have stumbled upon the truth (I make this observation not as someone who is religious – I call myself a Deist – but one who is religiously tolerant in light of the fact that I have Christians, Jews and Muslims as members of my extended family. Should I single out certain members of my family for harboring religious views that I don’t share or find rather odious (even if such views are not morally reprehensible)?). I believe you and your fellow Militant Atheists are forgetting the value of the First Amendent of the Bill of Rights in helping to ensure that the United States remain a religiously tolerant nation.

  71. Bernard Bumner

    So now PZ has his disciples claiming…

    So now Mooney and Kirshenbaum have their disciples claiming that PZ has his disciples claiming….

    And. You smell.

  72. Bernard Bumner

    Those who might want to disagree with their rather inane reasoning are confronted sadly with the ample hostility expressed by Militant Atheists posting online at Pharyngula and elsewhere. What else can they conclude but to suspect that maybe their zealous religious compatriots may have stumbled upon the truth…

    I believe this is known as confirmation bias. If they can look no further than to (what they perceive as) the worst examples, then it rather suggests that they aren’t willing to meet halfway in this Accomodationist lark.

    We must tolerate the best of Them, whilst they are allowed only to think the worst of Us?

    Psssh!

  73. JRQ

    “There were many factors involved, of course, but one was our shock at what he calls “Crackergate.” We describe the full incident in the book,…”

    An interesting assertion — do you indeed describe the FULL incident in the book? The entire incident, including the Webster Cook affair and the responses of the Church, other Catholics and the University of Central Florida? Whatever you think of PZ’s actions, they simply cannot be understood outside of the context provided by the original events in Florida.

    I’ve requested your book from my library, but it hasn’t yet arrived. So I haven’t read it…but I’m most interested to find out if, indeed, you describe the FULL incident. Several people commenting here seem to think you did not. If they’re right, that would be deeply disappointing.

  74. For Myers is, as we all know, the most popular blogger on the most popular science blogging site–and has a horde of loyal followers who see themselves as the disciples of reason, and swear by “science” (when they’re not just swearing).

    I have no idea what is behind the “moderation” policy here, so I have no idea why my most recent inoffensive comments aren’t posted yet, or if they will be.

    This one is more critical of this blog and like writings, though. Why you continually stereotype PZ’s readers and commenters with the above quote, and “but our book will be read by a different and far more open-minded audience” I really don’t know.

    The fact is that however much (and unreasonably) you fault the results of PZ’s quite open and free policy on commenters (I’m not calling it perfect, of course), there is a great deal of intelligence exhibited there, and plenty of disagreement with PZ. He’s really not bad at allowing criticism of his remarks, either. One thing I will say is that it can be virtually impossible to dissent on many subjects there, since there is a squadron of relatively sycophantic and reflexive commenters who will pounce–but that’s not unusual on any blog, and one has to understand how the mob mentality exists on the web.

    So these blanket condemnations of PZ’s blog and commenters are hardly fair. PZ himself writes some quite scientifically informative posts, though I wish those were more common than they are. He skewers any number of people who, I’d say, deserve it. And he at times goes too far, seeming often to forget that greater tolerance than he exhibits is generally necessary for society to operate well and to keep from becoming uniform and stagnant.

    It’s one thing to condemn “Crackergate,” it’s quite another to ignore the positive aspects of both PZ’s blog and the comments made on it. And by ignoring the positive aspects, you invite even more reactionary comments on and about your own blog, and book. One has to wonder if you’re trying more to gain readership and sales by attacking a relatively easy target like PZ (who may be popular on the web, but no doubt would not be very favorably received in the population at large), rather than actually dealing with the issues that he raises, and the good that he does by making science interesting.

    Glen Davidson
    http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p

  75. J.J.E.

    Granted, PZ’s stunt wasn’t very polite, and in the end it didn’t even appear to serve the purpose he wanted: raising the profile of the plight of the student Webster Cook. In retrospect, PZ shouldn’t have done it simply because it ticked off and offended people deeply (why is beyond me as people have no right to expect their beliefs to be respected, political, religious, scientific, or otherwise) and people STILL neglect the expulsion threats and death threats that Webster Cook received because he didn’t consume some starch.

    Anyway, PZ shouldn’t have done it and people should still recall the circumstances. A reminder:

    http://www.wftv.com/news/16798008/detail.html

    http://www.myfoxorlando.com/dpp/news/Student_Who_Took_Religious_Icon_Getting_Death_Threats

    It is a disappointment that Chris and Sheril won’t provide their critiques in the context of the ridiculous behavior exhibited by multiple Catholics in response to Cook’s behavior. Absurd really. Their outrage murders, abortions, rapes, etc. never rise to the level experienced by Cook. Why is this bizarre prioritization taken in stride?

  76. This is completely separate from the other issues, but I want to say it’s both to your and PZ’s credit that you allow a lot of critical and even viciously critical comments to be posted. I am glad that whetever the other issues, tolerance towards unfavorable comments is still alive and well on both blogs.

  77. Hoo-boy – every time I think the Toothpaste Twins can’t sink any lower, they post again and sink several yards lower.

    Yeah that eevil PZ – except that you didn’t mention why he nailed the cracker.

    “We describe the full incident in the book”

    No you don’t – you leave out crucial parts.

    “Just read our threads over the last week–it’s all there, the vast majority from people who have not read our book and do not seem inclined to do so.”

    But there are also plenty of comments from people who have read the book – like me for instance – and you stonewall those just as stubbornly. Furthermore, many of the comments from people who haven’t read the book are directed at the posts in question, so they don’t need to have read the book in order to make a cogent comment.

    I wonder if you by any chance remember what Jim said to Huck after Huck pulled a mean trick on him?

    This blog is trash.

  78. J.J.E.

    Re: my comment @ July 15th, 2009 at 2:05 pm:

    “Their outrage regarding murders, abortions, rapes, etc. never rises to the level of outraged directed at Cook.”

    There,that actually makes sense now.

  79. ndt

    PZ’s cracker stunt wasn’t meant to promote science, but it did promote reason by exposing how unreasonable belief in transubstantiation is.

    It exposed that many people actually believe that a piece of bread turns into a god if a priest says the right magic words. That kind of delusional thinking is bad for science and bad for humanity.

  80. Logicel

    Having a degree in C0mmunications, I was appalled at Nisbet butchering of the subject and held high hopes for Chris Mooney and his collaboration with Sheril. But it seems that you two are too green and too compulsively polite for something as important and challenging as communicating science either on the net or in books in such an overwhelmingly religious country as America. BTW, Europeans adore what PZ does. He takes the problem of religious dominating science seriously and to heart. We appreciate that stance.

    You are whitewashing the real reason why science is not accepted in America, and that is because non-evidential religious beliefs are given way too much respectful deference. You can respect the right for people to believe in anything, but that does not mean you can’t criticize those beliefs mercilessly. You are attacking the very people who are no longer deferential to the content of these non-evidential, archaic beliefs, instead of the content of these beliefs because you can’t tell a difference where a believer begins and their way-off-the-wall beliefs end. You are deferring to beliefs that are on the level of astrology and Tarot. You do not know how to be firm with people who need you to be firm with them. You are enabling religious believers to cherry pick science and to elude reality. Why? You believe in belief, that’s why.

    You two are part of the problem, not its solution because your grasp of the situation is muddled and filled with confirmation bias, not to mention a sickening cleaving to politeness for politeness sakes. Have you guy ever been involved in any major cultural change that demanded shaking up the complacent status quo? Like women’s right or civil rights? Well, I have, and you are doing it wrong. With folks like you, women would still be behind hot stoves (and Sheril would not be in any position to protest the demeaning of her stature because of idiots focusing only on her exceptional looks).

    You two are a deep, deep, deep disappointment to an old warrior like me. My only hope is that you will change though time and live up to your education and intelligence.

  81. Lowell

    Ndt: But that’s so . . . impolite of you. Another blow to the scientific literacy of Americans.

  82. Davo

    Isn’t it a little disingenuous and convenient to simply dismiss people critical of your views as those who haven’t read your book? I can clearly see at least some here who have read it and then commented. What about those? Also, why do you keep focusing on ‘crackergate’ without focusing on the ridiculous series of events that led to the post? Do you really think PZ would have done it if the fundamentalists and Bill Donohue had not given the poor student such a hard time? At the very least, does this series of events receive equal condemnation from you as ‘crackergate’? And do you realize that compared to PZ’s post, the backlash from the religious lobby was even greater and actually included death threats? Do you think PZ’s post was comparable in its intolerance or harshness to death threats?

  83. Roadtripper

    M&K: “We describe the full incident in the book….”

    And with that, my last shred of respect for either of you is gone. I’ve read your ‘account’ of Crackergate in UA, and it doesn’t even come close to being complete. It’s entirely one-sided and self-serving, dishonest and cowardly.

    The anti-science religious right is far and away more intolerant, more bigoted, and much, much more hateful than the ‘new atheists’ have ever been, yet you insist they must be treated with “respect.” That’s very nice, and I’m sure they’ll appreciate it. Your “respect” will make their task of dismantling religious freedom and science education in America that much easier, in both the short term and the long run.

    They’ll thank you for your respect, then get on with the business of electing creationist school boards, introducing new anti-evolution legislation in their states each year, promoting ‘abstinence only’ sex-ed programs and killing their children with ‘faith-based medicine…the list goes on and on. We’ve all seen how much harm they can do, and will do.

    “Respect” isn’t going to stop them. You’re wasting your time, and everyone else’s by perpetuating this pointless debate about how to engage with irrational theists. Those that are doing the most damage to science education in America will never change, or give up their anti-science agenda. The only proper way to deal with them is to expose their lies, mock their foolishness, and when they cross the line, take legal action against them.

    The two of you clearly have no idea what the real problem is, who the real enemy is, or how they actually think. You’re not part of the solution; you’re part of the problem. And PZ Myers was mistaken: your book is worse than ‘useless.’ It’s pathetically misguided.

    Rt

  84. Richie P

    Chris,

    Well even though I am generally quite sympathetic to the “New Atheists”, I have to confess I agree with your points 9 and 10. You are right that PZ never says what he means by bigotry, and it is not entirely obvious what he meant by it either. Nevertheless, I still thought his reply was a good one with many salient points.
    You are also right about Pharyngula- there are too many posters on that blog that are just to aggresive, and not receptive enough to contrary viewpoints. These individuals put off people who are new to posting comments on science blogs or blogs generally. It’s a real shame since there are many good posters on Pharyngula as well who really are strong exponents of reason and logic. PZ is also a bit of an enigma himself. Sometimes he can be absolutely brilliant posting witty, entertaining and engaging material, but at other times he decends to immature antics like the “crackergate” desecration.

    Please do not tar all of us who support the “new atheists” with the same brush though. Even though I disagree with a fair amount that you have said so far, I am actually interested in your book. I thoroughly enjoyed the “Republican War on Science”, and I would like to find out the solutions proposed in your new book for myself. Unfortuantely, I live in the UK- will the book be available here?

    Now, to Crackergate:-

    No reasonable person (in my view) can seriously condone the wafer desecraton incident. The while incident was a sorry mess, in which nobody came out smelling of roses. The only person I genuinely did sympathise with was Webster Cook ,who made one little mistake (not eating a communion wafer) and was harrased no end for it. The behaviour of the aggressive Catholic minority was outrageous and shameful, and Bill Donohue only made matters worse (as ever) . So yes a look at the broader context does show that the actions of PZ Myers was not the only shameful part of the sorry affair. Nevertheless, the desecration itself was just immature and thoughtless. Why did he do it? Until that point the Atheists were on the moral high ground (which was quite an achievement given that many religious fundies would say we don’t have any morals!). PZ should have capitialised on this and used it as an example to show the moderates just how far the Christian fundamentalists are prepared to go. Just think, would Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett or Jerry Coyne have desecrated a communion wafer? Me thinks not.

  85. John Kwok

    @Glen –

    While yours is often the sanest – and best – voice of reason posting at Pharyngula, I have to disagree with your observation here regarding both the blog and PZ. PZ isn’t spending more time posting about science, but instead, critiquing critics like Chris and Sheril or condemning those who are religiously devout, with special emphasis of course on Roman Catholics.

    While Myers did a good job in reporting back in May about a notable theropod dinosaur discovery, I think Carl Zimmer’s post was far more informative and to the point:

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/loom/2009/06/17/of-birds-and-thumbs/

  86. eugyppius

    @54, the good John writes:

    I believe you and your fellow Militant Atheists are forgetting the value of the First Amendent of the Bill of Rights in helping to ensure that the United States remain a religiously tolerant nation.

    Oh please. The First Amendment binds only the Congress from passing laws respecting particular religious establishments. It nowhere mandates that we tolerate nonsense.

  87. gillt

    For a review of CM&SK’s book that is well-reasoned and mainly critical without ever once mentioning new atheism or religion, look here:

    http://scienceblogs.com/ethicsandscience/2009/07/book_review_unscientific_ameri.php

  88. Jon

    Lowell: But that’s so . . . impolite of you.

    As if this was all about Chris getting into reading Letitia Baldrige.

  89. Jeff

    And again, Chris and Sheril miss the point ENTIRELY. I’m beginning to believe that this is intentional. I sincerely hope that the “Crackergate” incident, if included in their book, is actually described in context — I don’t know, I haven’t read it. People who have read it seem to indicate it’s not placed in the context of threats of expulsion and physical harm over the “kidnapping” of a cracker.

    If so, kiss any integrity you thought you had goodbye. There are SO MANY good examples you could have addressed in your book to illustrate your supposed point. But you didn’t. Instead you seem to have written a shallow diatribe against outspoken atheists (and Pluto… PLUTO?!?!), with absolutely no new solutions, despite your breathless claims otherwise. Again, I can’t be 100% certain, but a number of people who have read the book, and have given lengthy quotes and reviews, seem to bear that out.

    Oh well. Hopefully someone else will do a proper job of addressing the very real problem of “unscientific America” and have actual concrete solutions. The Intersection is getting dropped from my Google Reader feeds.

  90. Matt Penfold

    PZ’s cracker stunt wasn’t meant to promote science, but it did promote reason by exposing how unreasonable belief in transubstantiation is.

    It exposed that many people actually believe that a piece of bread turns into a god if a priest says the right magic words. That kind of delusional thinking is bad for science and bad for humanity.

    It did that of course, but to me the main purpose was to show how these moderate religious people resorted to death threats. Catholics are all pro-evolution, and so for M & K are the “good” guys. You will not hear a peep out of M & K over those death threats. I am not sure if they are unaware they were made or actually claim they were not made. Being tolerant for M & K means keeping quiet when Catholics issue death threats. It accepting the demands from the religious for respect, whether that respect has been earned or not. It means they expect atheists to sit meekly and silently, and not criticise religion for fear of upsetting the religious.

    And besides, you will make M & K cry if you say mean things about Jesus.

  91. John Kwok

    @ J. J. E. –

    Myers had a responsibility to himself, his colleagues and his students to act in a responsible manner as an associate professor of biology at the University of Minnesota, Morris. While I will agree that his online support of Webster Cook was laudable, what he did next with “CrackerGate” wasn’t just a silly, stupid stunt. It was rather insensitive, but all too typical, from someone who freely engages in anti – religious bigotry. It is likely that for this and similar reasons that Chris and Sheril have found “CrackerGate” objectionable.

  92. JRQ

    Ophelia Benson says,

    ‘Yeah that eevil PZ – except that you didn’t mention why he nailed the cracker.

    “We describe the full incident in the book”

    No you don’t – you leave out crucial parts.’

    See, that’s what bothers me about this — An awful lot happened in this case before PZ did anything to a communion wafer. PZ himself posted long analyses of the situation and long explanations for why he did it. I have never seen his critics deal these explanations — criticisms of “crackergate” always boil down to loose rationalizations of a knee-jerk disgust response, with little actual argument about what was wrong with it. “Crackergate” made me uncomfortable too, but the more I thought about it, the more I came down on PZ’s side. To ignore the broader context of Crackergate, and the reasons offered by PZ at length for it, is either sloppy, dishonest or both. I can’t get away with that level of sloppiness and dishonesty in my own work, and if Chris and Sheril are guilty of it here, they shouldn’t be able to get away with it either.

  93. PZ shouldn’t have done it simply because it ticked off and offended people deeply (why is beyond me as people have no right to expect their beliefs to be respected, political, religious, scientific, or otherwise)

    Actually, to a point I think they do have that right, although it is not generally a legal right in America.

    I mean, why do you suppose that US servicemen are not allowed to desecrate the Koran when in Iraq? Are they even allowed to do so anywhere? You just don’t stomp on the sensibilities of people.

    I know that PZ put a nail through the Koran (sure, it was a translation, so not an “official Koran,” but it was an attempt to “desecrate” it), but you can be fairly sure that he’d not have done so publicly had he been in Iran. Would he burn a Native American totem where he could be seen? Spit on a Buddha in Thailand?

    And if he would, wouldn’t he be roundly condemned for those actions, rightly be called an ugly American? Of course he shouldn’t be killed for desecrating the Koran, as he could be in Saudi Arabia. But people naturally take offense when what they hold dear is treated with contempt, which is the main reason PZ did it.

    Catholics and US Muslims (the fact that it was a translation may have helped PZ there) aren’t going to do much, true, which is why they were the ones to be offended, or at least so it appears. I’ve never heard of PZ bothering to desecrate (legally purchased) African sacred objects, or violating Inuit taboos where these would be noted. Of course not, because it would be understood why this would be wrong in a moral (not legal) sense. Poke a Catholic in the eye, figuratively, and who cares? Well, the Catholics do, and one should care as much about them as anybody, I’d say, and not just with the fact that you’ll get away with nailing a communion wafer a lot better than in violating Shinto customs.

    No, one thing I don’t like about “Crackergate” is the notion given out that people really don’t deserve (morally, not legally) to have their beliefs respected. Yes, they do, although not to any unreasonable degree.

    How coarse and unfeeling are we really to be toward our fellow citizens?

    Glen Davidson
    http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p

  94. “I sincerely hope that the “Crackergate” incident, if included in their book, is actually described in context”

    They do give some of the context – certainly more than they give in this post, or in the Newsweek article – but it’s still incomplete, and it’s also instantly countered with some deferential stuff about how “the Eucharist is one of the seven sacraments in the teaching of the Catholic Church and considered the literal presence of Christ…”

    It’s more than nothing but it’s far from complete.

  95. NewEnglandBob

    Mooneybaum is just embarrassing themselves. What a joke this post is.

  96. Richie P

    #59 ndt

    Well, I cannot deny that it is deeply disturbing just how many people literally believe in transubstantiation, but did the desecration itself show this?

    No, I don’t think it did. If PZs aim was to expose the number of people who believe in this nonsense then all he had to do was simply point to all the furore surrounding the Webster Cook incident. He could have said something like ” look at all these Catholics who think that stealing a wafer is the equivalent of kidnapping a God- silly Catholics” and that would have been the end of it. In fairness, PZ did actually say things like the above, but instead of stopping there, he went further, too far, and in doing so over stepped the mark of reasonable behaviour.

  97. John Kwok

    @ Glen –

    How come I haven’t seen more of your excellent reasoning over at Pharyngula regarding why you think “CrackerGate” was morally reprehensible? I have read snippets, but nothing really as well stated as what you’ve just written.

  98. JRQ, exactly.

    Oh hell, I’ll just have to type in the whole thing, so that everyone can see what they included and what they left out.

  99. GM

    Nevertheless, in his online persona–and nowhere more than with the wafer desecration–we believe he cultivates a climate of extremism, incivility and, indeed, unreason (the opposite of calm and respectful debate and exchange) at ScienceBlogs. And it is past time that someone spoke out about that, as we did in Unscientific America.

    This is the n-th (where n is a large number) time I try to explain this on various blogs: why is that in our society people are more concerned with whether something is “extreme” or “radical” or “militant” or any of that kind of words?

    None of these determine whether something is true or not, and while there is some overlap between crackpot views and views that would be classified as belonging to the class of views that those words describe, they still have very little to do with the correctness of the views.

    At this point I realize very well that the authors of this blog are unlikely to read that but again – should scientists be more concerned with whether they are being politically correct or with whether they are representing what is scientifically defensible? And what happens with science if we adopt the former approach?

  100. Lowell

    John: “As if this was all about Chris getting into reading Letitia Baldrige.”

    I’m not familiar with that phrase, but if you mean it’s not about how Crackergate offended Chris’s delicate sensibilities, I think the evidence demonstrates otherwise. He states above that he was “shocked,” and “appalled” at the “incivility” of Crackergate, etc. Quick, get the fainting couch!

    The more important point is that there’s no evidence that PZ’s “shocking” behavior (or any of the “new atheist” writings) did anything to reduce scientific literacy in the USA. Lord Mooney and Lady Kirshenbaum just assume it to be true.

  101. I’m finding it harder and harder to understand the point of this ‘dialog’, when the very cause of ‘uniting’ is being wielded as a weapon to divide.

    Who’s the People’s Front of Judea, and who’s the Judean People’s Front? I can’t even tell anymore.

  102. dave

    Way to go M&K! Stand up to these self-righteous low-life bullies who think they are doing science and our culture a favor. Don’t back down!

    PZ is just some guy using Howard Stern-style shock tactics to advance his career (that’s all he really cares about), and just like Howard, he has many adolescent followers who will blindly follow him.

  103. J.J.E.

    @Glen Davidson:
    July 15th, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    Of course, you are correct about what being respectful and polite is all about. But simply because religious people claim by fiat that certain types of rude discourse are blasphemous (that have been punishable by death historically) is certainly out of proportion given how we try nearly all other types of rude discourse. And rudeness, as long as it is non-violent, is a venial sin. Death threats and frivolous legal bullying are far more serious.

    Can you imagine anyone receiving death threats in the U.S. for burning a politician in effigy? If that did happen, I suspect people would strongly condemn the death threats and perhaps suggest that burning in effigy is a bit extreme, but I doubt there would be sanctimonious, self-righteous scolding of the burner. Every cherished belief can be challenged except the religious ones. In fact, people who simply choose to quietly refuse to accept religion are demonized. This requirement for tip-toeing around religion is unfair and inconsistent with the way other aspects of our society operate. Again, why does religion get special consideration over other ideas?

  104. Michael Fugate

    How do the people who complain about the commenters and readers at Pharyngula know about the commenters and readers at said blog unless they are readers too? Do they include themselves in the sweeping generalizations they continually make?

  105. DS

    The last point Chris and Sheril make is the most important one: PZ’s blog isn’t really about science. It’s about atheism, politics, etc. While I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with blogging about those subjects, it is sad that the #1 ‘science blogger’ on the internet hardly ever writes about science. It also makes me think that most of his readers don’t come to his blog to learn about science.

    A quick survey of the last 50 posts on Pharyngula shows that only 4–that’s 8%–actually discussed some kind of scientific development. And none of the posts discussed or explained peer-reviewed scientific research. If someone were to visit his blog hoping to learn something about science, he or she would most likely come away disappointed.

    So my point is that Myers isn’t really much of a ‘science communicator’ at all. Why, then, should he be upset when Chris and Sheril point out that he isn’t doing much good for the cause of science communication/education? He doesn’t even seem to be trying.

  106. SteveF

    “You are a disgusting, despicable creature, Chris Mooney.

    Enjoy the warmth from the bridges youre burning now No one will build them with you again.”

    RAGE!!!!!!!!

  107. Jon

    How do the people who complain about the commenters and readers at Pharyngula know about the commenters and readers at said blog unless they are readers too?

    I dip my toe in once every few months. It’s a smart group, but dialog there has more in common with ultimate fighting than it does with philosophical discussion.

  108. Paul

    How do the people who complain about the commenters and readers at Pharyngula know about the commenters and readers at said blog unless they are readers too? Do they include themselves in the sweeping generalizations they continually make?

    They aren’t actually readers of Pharyngula. They might go over there once and pick out one post reinforcing their most horrible notions (see Mooney’s “Classic PZ” post), but in general they have no problem just outright condemning a place that they really don’t understand or even read the content of. But of course the Pharyngula readers/posters are the mindless sycophants. No irony there.

    The exception here would be Kwok, who fastidiously reads Pharyngula but can’t post since he’s banned. He settles for attacking PZ wherever his name comes up.

  109. Paul

    So my point is that Myers isn’t really much of a ’science communicator’ at all. Why, then, should he be upset when Chris and Sheril point out that he isn’t doing much good for the cause of science communication/education? He doesn’t even seem to be trying.

    They aren’t saying he’s not much of a science communicator. They completely and without evidence assert that he’s harming science education. The lack of evidence is the issue at hand and brought up, and note that Mooney completely ignores it. Rather ironic since he’s an undergraduate science professor, where it seems Mooney just makes his money attacking atheists.

  110. I typed the whole first para but it’s in moderation. I don’t see why.

    Can I post it in two pieces? Is that allowed?

    “In summer 2008, a University of Central Florida student named Webster Cook removed a communion wafer from Catholic Mass and took it home with him – according to one news report, ‘holding it hostage.’ Cook seems to have been unhappy about the fact that his state-sponsored university funded religious groups; he also claimed he simply wanted to show the wafer to a friend…

  111. Is everything I say in moderation now?

  112. ndt

    70. Richie P Says:
    July 15th, 2009 at 2:35 pm
    #59 ndt

    Well, I cannot deny that it is deeply disturbing just how many people literally believe in transubstantiation, but did the desecration itself show this?

    The reaction to the desecration showed just how dangerous the belief is. People got upset about a piece of bread. That shows something devestating about them.

    In fairness, PZ did actually say things like the above, but instead of stopping there, he went further, too far, and in doing so over stepped the mark of reasonable behaviour.

    How did he go to far? What was unreasonable about his behavior? He stuck a nail through a piece of bread and threw it in the trash. It’s just a piece of bread, for pete’s sake.

  113. Oookay, how about if I post the first para one sentence at a time…

    “In summer 2008, a University of Central Florida student named Webster Cook removed a communion wafer from Catholic Mass and took it home with him – according to one news report, ‘holding it hostage.’

  114. tomh

    @ #68
    “No, one thing I don’t like about “Crackergate” is the notion given out that people really don’t deserve (morally, not legally) to have their beliefs respected. Yes, they do, although not to any unreasonable degree.”

    And just who is supposed to decide what is a reasonable degree of respect? The believers? Many of them think that any mention of their beliefs is disrespect. The infidels who are disrespecting the beliefs? I’m afraid you need to appoint a government body to decide whether each case is reasonable or unreasonable.

  115. How come I haven’t seen more of your excellent reasoning over at Pharyngula regarding why you think “CrackerGate” was morally reprehensible?

    Actually, I thought that I did explain it in #55:

    One thing I will say is that it can be virtually impossible to dissent on many subjects there, since there is a squadron of relatively sycophantic and reflexive commenters who will pounce–but that’s not unusual on any blog, and one has to understand how the mob mentality exists on the web.

    I did dissent a number of times prior to the incident, if carefully (I’m not out to be the whipping boy). Once it was over, though, the issue there changed (deliberately, on the part of PZ, if also understandably) to the many truly outrageous responses to his action. I sometimes did preface condemnations of those responses with the fact that I never thought well of the “cracker incident,” but that was no longer the subject.

    I can and do write more here because the response is not stiflingly hostile. Really, while many commenters over there are reasonable, it just won’t do to fight the mob.

    Should I write more about it there, be more “brave”? It isn’t even a subject that I was ever very interested in. I much prefer dissections of ID. So no, I don’t think I have any obligation to be fighting out the matter over there, which effectively would do little more than inflame tempers. I could be “brave” and do not a speck of good. Here I can write and not simply be attacked by a mob.

    Because several are suggesting that somehow PZ might have been justified by the school’s response to the student, I will excerpt here the post that is still being held up in moderation:

    And however much one may dislike RCC discipline, honestly, if you don’t like it, leave.

    The notion that it is wrong for legal voluntary organizations to enforce its own rules is more like an attack on free association than any kind of blow for freedom.

    No, I don’t see how a student voluntarily joined to the church and voluntarily going to a Catholic school who might actually be disciplined by the church/school justifies offending the members of that voluntary organization. One might discuss how “voluntary” it is for the student, true, but whatever those issues are, they are endemic problems for free association, which most of us would still claim as a right under the Constitution.

    Glen Davidson
    http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p

  116. Nope. I’m not allowed to post the first para, or any part of it. What’s that about? Copyright violation? I’d say it’s fair use.

  117. Lowell

    DS: “Why, then, should he be upset when Chris and Sheril point out that he isn’t doing much good for the cause of science communication/education? He doesn’t even seem to be trying.”

    First, I just want to make sure you are aware that PZ is a college biology professor. Second, as far as PZ’s blogging goes, Mooney and Kirshenbaum don’t argue that he’s not “doing much good.” They argue that he “cultivates a climate of extremism, incivility and, indeed, unreason” and that he “epitomizes the current problems with the communication of science on the Internet.”

    You can’t blame him for responding to that kind of approbrium.

  118. Paul

    @Ophelia

    Everything I post that’s longer than 2 lines goes to moderation as well.

  119. Richie P

    Ophelia,

    I’ve just discovered your “Butterflies and Wheels” site- I have to say that I am very impressed. Congrats and keep up the good work.

    As for the apparent constant moderation on Ophelia’s comments, what is up with that?

  120. JRQ

    @Glen,

    “No, one thing I don’t like about “Crackergate” is the notion given out that people really don’t deserve (morally, not legally) to have their beliefs respected. Yes, they do, although not to any unreasonable degree.”

    Yes, all things being equal, I agree with this. But all things were not equal. The purpose of Crackergate was not simply to “disrespect” a belief, but to expose and raise consciousness about what was a clearly unreasonable overreach on the part of Catholics. Crackergate did itself served a moral purpose that has to be weighed against the harm of desecation. I see a moral benefit on balance. I realize not everybody does, but I haven’t been convinced by those arguments when they’ve been presented. And its frustrating to hear discussions of Crackergate that ignore or gloss over its purpose.

  121. oriole

    Chris and Sheril,

    Your “responses” to PZ Myers’ criticisms of your book are deeply disappointing. You continue to fail to provide any evidence whatsoever for your claim that Myers and other so-called “New Atheists” are harming science, you attack ridiculous strawmen (obviously, Myers was accusing you of bigotry against the “new atheists”, a distinction YOU insist on, not against atheists in general), engage in dishonest reporting by eg deliberately concealing from your readers the events that provoked PZ’s “desecration”, etc.

    And your self-absorption and tendency to see yourselves as martyrs are also not particularly attractive traits. Do you think anyone really cares whether PZ’s behaviour drove from you from his website? Do you think anyone is impressed when you declare that you are not afraid of PZ? Why would anyone be afraid of a slightly paunchy biology professor whose most aggresive act to date has been driving a nail through a stale cracker?

    Get off your high horses, shake off the pomposity, and in general get over yourselves.

  122. tomh

    @ 112 I see I got the numbers wrong – it should be Glen Davidson said

  123. gillt

    Curiosity in the book was high in the beginning, even while I disagreed with Mooney. But after this week’s childishness on the part of the authors (and not the cute and silly kind but the whiny vicious dwarf kind) interest has plummeted to the point where I’ll freely admit this is one workingclass scientist (soon to publish!) who will not be reading the book based solely on the online writing of its authors. Is there really anything in the book that I can’t find among the propagandizing on this blog?

    According to Stemwedel’s review linked above, a scientist would be wasting her time on a book dedicated to glad-handing platitudes and naive solutions for would-be science communicators.

    Slightly OT, but is this a coauthored book because it looks somewhat more like a first author second author situation.

  124. Chris is in the air and I’m now back from lunch. I’ve just approved about 50 comments or so and no one was singled out.

  125. CJO

    Crackergate did not “expose the belief in transubstantiation,” (paraphrase) or anything of the sort. What it exposed is that the religious –even the supposedly ‘moderate’ wing– genuinely expect, and will vociferously demand, that their sectarian mandates have force in the secular world.

    They do not, and they will not, and if they don’t like it, too damn goshdarn bad.

  126. J.J.E.

    @Glenn Davidson:

    But what about the death threats toward Cook? That’s clearly out of proportion.

    Wolf whistling at a woman is usually impolite, but that wouldn’t justify a threat against Emmett Till, let alone his grisly murder. Carrying out a bit of baked carbs out of a superstitious gathering is also impolite if they’ve clearly asked that such things not be done before you enter. But again, the response was out of proportion by orders of magnitude.

  127. Jon

    They might go over there once and pick out one post reinforcing their most horrible notions (see Mooney’s “Classic PZ” post), but in general they have no problem just outright condemning a place that they really don’t understand or even read the content of.

    PZ’s blog is usually not hard to understand. I know some smart people are into ultimate fighting, but that doesn’t mean I have to watch it constantly to “get” what it’s about. I also only had to read only one Bret Easton Ellis novel and felt like I knew his schtick enough not to read any more, that I wasn’t missing anything incredibly essential.

  128. Richie P

    #111- Ndt- yes of course we all know that it is just a rusty nail in a cracker, but that is not the issue. Like it or not we live in a world where a significant number of people think that a wafer takes on some aspect of their God. A larger number still think that this same wafer, whilst not literally transforming into God, is very important (their reasoning often being more nebulous than the literalists). You cannot go around indiscriminately offending people for no reason, even if their beliefs are extremely irrational. I am all for Atheists standing up for themselves, but there’s got to be some sort of limit on what constitutes reasonable behaviour.

  129. If that did happen, I suspect people would strongly condemn the death threats and perhaps suggest that burning in effigy is a bit extreme, but I doubt there would be sanctimonious, self-righteous scolding of the burner. Every cherished belief can be challenged except the religious ones.

    I don’t think so, no. I thought previously about using examples of, say, spitting on Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches, or using the African National Congress’s flag as a doormat, but stuck with religious taboos in order to keep the focus more narrow.

    Although the US flag may legally be desecrated, the fact is that a politician who burned the flag would still be almost impossible to elect. Whatever people hold to be a symbol of themselves is something that they think deserves at least a certain amount of respect. I would argue from a social psychology perspective that religious taboos against “desecration” are first and foremost about vicarious actions of respect or disrespect against a people.

    I wouldn’t wipe my feet on an image of a shamrock on St. Patrick’s day in Irish areas of Chicago. Actually, I generally wouldn’t do so, but it really wouldn’t matter if I did so in private and told nobody about it. What I’m getting at is that generally I wouldn’t be disrespectful to a people or to the symbols of those people, because although they are just “things,” they are things invested with collective myths, beliefs, and aspirations.

    And I agree with Ophelia Benson on the moderation, which seems to be preventing any real conversation from happening here. My response to Kwok is held up, along with my first post here. And I have no idea if this will get through soon, if ever.

    Glen Davidson
    http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p

  130. Paul

    “You cannot go around indiscriminately offending people for no reason, even if their beliefs are extremely irrational. I am all for Atheists standing up for themselves, but there’s got to be some sort of limit on what constitutes reasonable behaviour.”

    Do you eat meat? Why is a Catholic’s transmuted godflesh more sacred than a Hindu’s cow eating taboo? Why do you get to select which arbitrary religious belief is worth respect and which is not?

  131. And another thing –

    “And this is his most famous performance: Desecrating a communion wafer.

    That doesn’t just say something unflattering about Myers–it says something devastating about all of us.”

    But if you think this is a bad thing – why are you working so very very hard to make it even more famous? Did you think writing about it in Newsweek was a good way to play it down?

  132. CJO

    You cannot go around indiscriminately offending people for no reason

    Can I go about discriminately offending people for good reasons? Thanks.

  133. Richie P

    #126 JJE-Yep, spot on, the response was out of proportion by several orders of magnitude. But bare in mind that since we are ambassadors for Science and reason our behaviour should be much more sensible, balanced and mature than your average religious fundamentalist.

  134. Here’s another try at the first paragraph of chapter 8, which gives all the context they offer about Wesley Cook:

    “In summer 2008, a University of Central Florida student named Webster Cook removed a communion wafer from Catholic Mass and took it home with him – according to one news report, ‘holding it hostage.’ Cook seems to have been unhappy about the fact that his state-sponsored university funded religious groups; he also claimed he simply wanted to show the wafer to a friend. But as the Eucharist is one of the seven sacraments in the teaching of the Catholic Church and considered the literal presence of Christ, his action outraged many Catholics, sparking a flurry of media coverage and even, apparently, some death threats. As the controversy escalated, Cook soon returned the wafer in a Ziploc bag. There things might have ended, had the popular atheist science blogger and University of Minnesota professor Paul Zachary (‘PZ’) Myers not gotten involved.”

  135. Alun

    Seeing what was written about Crackergate is easy enough. Amazon has Unscientific America as a searchable book in the US and UK. Search for Webster and you can read pages 95,96 and 97. I won’t say any more as the text isn’t very ambiguous.

  136. But what about the death threats toward Cook? That’s clearly out of proportion.

    Wolf whistling at a woman is usually impolite, but that wouldn’t justify a threat against Emmett Till, let alone his grisly murder. Carrying out a bit of baked carbs out of a superstitious gathering is also impolite if they’ve clearly asked that such things not be done before you enter. But again, the response was out of proportion by orders of magnitude.

    Sure it is, and it’s why I was more likely to address the response to PZ after the “cracker incident” than the incident itself, because whatever anyone might think of PZ’s actions, the responses were worse.

    I don’t think, though, that the idiot Catholics threatening Cook justified effectively giving the finger to the many who did not do so.

    Glen Davidosn
    http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p

  137. Paul

    Yep, spot on, the response was out of proportion by several orders of magnitude. But bare in mind that since we are ambassadors for Science and reason our behaviour should be much more sensible, balanced and mature than your average religious fundamentalist.

    Which is why PZ drove a nail through a cracker, instead of sending death threats.

  138. tomh

    Richie P says:
    “I am all for Atheists standing up for themselves, but there’s got to be some sort of limit on what constitutes reasonable behaviour.”

    And you will define that limit, I presume? This is still America we’re talking about, isn’t it? Regulating behaviour that harms only delicate feelings is a dicey proposition.

  139. Damian

    The last point Chris and Sheril make is the most important one: PZ’s blog isn’t really about science. It’s about atheism, politics, etc. While I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with blogging about those subjects, it is sad that the #1 ’science blogger’ on the internet hardly ever writes about science. It also makes me think that most of his readers don’t come to his blog to learn about science.”

    From Pharyngula’s “By Category” archives:

    Academics (255), Communicating science (104), Development (196), Genetics (80), Molecular Biology (128), Reproduction (136), Creationism (1602), Evolution (379), Fossils (94), Neurobiology (70), Organisms (641), Science (763).

    Granted, not all of them are about peer-reviewed research, but there are hundreds of posts about science.

    And, although I cannot blame you, just to show you how vacuous your claim is, someone did a comparison between Pharyngula, Cognitive Daily (which only blogs about Peer-reviewed research), Greg Laden’s blog, Bayblab, and Tetrapod Zoology:

    How much science does a science blog blog ….?

    Turns out that PZ posts about science as often as anyone else, it’s just that he posts a lot about other topics, as well, which appears to give the impression that he hardly ever posts about science.

    You’re welcome, by the way.

    Oh, and before I go, it is ironic that you made that remark on this blog, as our esteemed hosts post even less about scientific research (and they used to be one scienceblogs, as well). Does your criticism apply to them, as well?

  140. Paul W.

    DS, you’re wildly wrong about PZ “hardly ever” blogging about science. That’s just ridiculous.

    This canard has been hashed out before, with statistics.

    PZ blogs about science more than most science bloggers, including most at ScienceBlogs and, I’m pretty sure, more than Mooney and Kirshenbaum. (Certainly far more than many others, such as Nisbet.) He’s a prolific guy, both in terms of science writing and in terms of irreverence.

    He has written many, many articles explaining serious biology, and is far better at it than most science bloggers.

    Go check out the “A Taste of Pharyngula” section in the sidebar at Pharyngula. Seriously. Anybody who thinks PZ is just an atheist loudmouth is just wrong.

    BTW, Kwok’s comment comparing PZ and Carl Zimmer is ridiculous, too. Maybe Carl’s article on theropods was better than PZ’s—I don’t recall. But given that Zimmer is one of the very best science writers in the world, that’s just not saying a whole lot.

    If everybody who didn’t write as well as Carl was to stop writing, the web would be pretty sparse.

    Carl’s a great science writer, but there’s room at the top and PZ is certainly no slouch. Many of us are big fans of both, and it’s not mere coincidence.

  141. M.

    This is…appaling. I don’t care about bashing PZ (he does not hold himself back, and he can certainly take you on), and I agree with you that Crackergate was counterproductive from the view of science (not from the point of atheism, which is PZ’s other cause).

    But you have officially crossed the line and become actively dangerous to the cause of science in the US. Your overall approach, along with things like supporting Collins’ appointment (have you seen his BioLogos website, and the kind of “philosphy” he’s pushing there?) makes you more dangerous then the Discovery Institute. You have to be actively opposed from this point on.

    Your beliefs – based on no facts whatsoever, other than your imagination – that conciliation with religion would cause a shift in public opinion is, frankly, delusional.

    Your average creationist isn’t going to read books about evolution, any more then he’s going to read Islamic theology. He is going to read exclusively creationist literature, since that is where he’ll learn the beliefs he has to espouse in order to fit in with the rest of the tribe. The purpose of that literature isn’t to teach him or her about the nature of the world. The purpose is to define “us” as opposed to “them”.

    For instance, your average American fundagelicals will read shallow, twisted stories about Islamic teachings, which enable them to feel that their group is superior to those dangerous “others” out there, those who hold to all kinds of wrong beliefs. Just the same, he’ll read creationist fiction, which serves to enable him to feel superior and chosen, above all those stupid, deluded, evil scientists out there.

    You can train all the scientists in the world to be superb communicators. It will not matter, because your target audience will not listen. You will never, ever, ever be succesful in using facts to convince creationists to accept evolution, or global warming deniers to accept climatological evidence. Facts. Do. Not. Matter.

    The problem is cognitive: there is a toxic belief system that has to be overcome. As long as you two – and other supporters of your ideas – continue to espouse “respect for beliefs”, you will have zero results. We need to change beliefs and values of the public: get them to stop believing that science is evil, and to start valuing scientific achievement over, say, last week’s football scores. Then we will need good communicators.

  142. @Annie

    You are getting the kind of flogging (here and at other blogs) that
    Muslims reserve for the apostate. And the new atheists don’t think they’re militant…or even “new”!!!

    Did you really just compare blog comments to physical assault, abuse, and murder?

  143. Screechy Monkey

    DS@76: “A quick survey of the last 50 posts on Pharyngula shows that only 4–that’s 8%–actually discussed some kind of scientific development. And none of the posts discussed or explained peer-reviewed scientific research. If someone were to visit his blog hoping to learn something about science, he or she would most likely come away disappointed.”

    First, I’d say that looking at the last 50 posts isn’t really representative, any more than the 50 posts of The Intersection are really representative of this blog.

    Second, I’m not sure that the percentage of “science” posts is really the right measure. Or at least, it’s not the only measure. As this (admittedly crude) study: http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2008/05/how_much_science_does_a_scienc.php

    shows, PZ is a fairly prolific blogger. So even if he has a lower percentage of “science posts” than other science bloggers, he’s still posting a fairly high number of science posts.

    The one thing that the most highly-trafficked blogs have in common is that they have lots of new content. Blogs that only have one new post a week, on average, don’t get much traffic. So having some non-science content can actually help promote the science posts by keeping the blog active and fresh.

    Third, there’s more to scienceblogging than blogging on new scientific developments. I wouldn’t disqualify Chris and Sheril as science bloggers simply because they rarely report on new research. I think that posts on creationism, the anti-vaccine movement, etc. are scienceblogging even though those rarely involve new research (instead, it’s rebutting the same old tired arguments).

    Obviously there’s a point at which the science content of a blog becomes so low that it can’t really be considered a science blog. I just think your analysis is a little superficial.

  144. Jon

    And you will define that limit, I presume? This is still America we’re talking about, isn’t it? Regulating behaviour that harms only delicate feelings is a dicey proposition.

    Yes, this is America. And we can discuss anything, including what constitutes reasonable behavior.

  145. Richie P

    #131- CJO- erm….. depends how good your reasons are I suppose.

    #129- Paul- Yes I eat meat. But your comparison is not a reasonable one. In the case of the Hindu cow-eating taboo- I am merely not abiding by the taboo. The equivelent of this in the case of Catholicism is NOT eating communion wafers (which I also do). What is the Hindu equivalent of desecrating the communion wafer? Er.. well maybe something like saying all cow-worshippers are morons and the “sacred” cow is a slut.

  146. I’m sorry to come in this way, and even sorrier to do so within such an entertaining exchange of ICBM’s. But following the controversy here has led me back through PZ’s rebuttal of it to the M&K assessment of my own new book, Idiot America. I have to admit I’m very disappointed that people who freely admit they hadn’t read it at the time decided to so fundamentally misapprehend so much in it, especially since Chris’s previous book was such a help in several parts of IA, most especially the chapter on Shishmaref and global-warming.
    As Myers points out, my book does not call the people with whom I disagree “idiots.” (I do write that the Creation Museum is a “monument to barking idiocy.” Because, well, it is, and both of you know it.) I make it quite plain that Idiot America is not the place where people believe silly things, or even the place where people make a buck off them. It is a collective act of will by which the rest of us generally accept nonsense as fact just because it sells well and/or succeeds politically. Idiot America is not that ID proponents believe what they do. It is that the NYT refers to the movement as ” a politically-savvy challenge to Darwinian evolution,” which is a nonsensical sentence, as long as we stipulate that words mean what they do. I celebrate the tradition of the genuine American crank. I just point out that the crank is devalued as soon as he sells a lot of books or files suit in federal court. It is a book about the war on expertise in every field — not just science — in which winners and losers are judged not by the objective analysis of their arguments, but on the effectiveness of their sales techniques. I produced the book because I was taught to write and to think by, among other people, the Sisters of St. Joseph, the Xaverian Brothers, and, most important, the Jesuits.
    And not for nothing, but I’m still a semi-practicing Roman Catholic. I have it on good scriptural authority that the gates of Hell will not prevail against the church. So I don’t think I have to worry about bloggers much. Which is to say that y’all seem most bothered by mockery, whether that stems from atheism or from plain old Irish Catholic wiseassery.
    You should lighten up about that.

  147. Steve H

    One of the most difficult things for us out in the real world, who must work with all groups of people, is to overcome the incredible decisiveness that has come to represent this country. Largely due to fringe elements with greater power than their actual numbers call for, its very difficult for politicians, both local, state, and national, to take an actual principled stand. If I need to get a message through to some groups of people, as part of the “science” crowd I must go through a trusted intermediary, and then it’s still slim that they’ll care.

    At the time of crackergate, I wasn’t in outreach, and I wasn’t upset over the matter then. I didn’t care for it as it was tacky and something better left to Penn Juliet. However, I now see where others’ innocuous actions can have a real effect on our ability to communicate with people of different worldviews.

    Take, for example, Eliot Sober. I have seen him give a presentation, in the heart of the bible belt, accurately and completely destroying the notion that intelligent design is somehow scientifically viable. Even in a room of people there to argue with him, nobody did, with the exception of know-it-all philosophy grad students complaining about that he was wasn’t correct in his generalized interpretations of philosophical works. Sober’s response was to have them read his published work for the answers, which if they were good grad students they would have done prior! THIS IS EVIDENCE IN SUPPORT OF CHRIS AND SHERIL. Evidence that making generalizations can be successful, that framing can be successful, and that by not attacking people’s faith by demonstrating logic one can actually better communicate with different groups.

  148. J.J.E.

    @ Glenn

    Again, I agree with you about being polite. But you seem to be avoiding the issue of proportion. Why was Cook’s behavior worthy of death threats? It wasn’t. And as much of a rude, counter-productive boor as PZ may have been, his action never once crossed the standard that a death threat holds.

    I don’t like defending PZ because he’s such a blunt instrument, so cut me some slack. At least acknowledge that the Catholics (especially when riled up by the Catholic League) are frequently fanatical beyond reason about the most mundane of events. PZ was more wrong in motive than Cook who by all accounts simply wanted to show curious friends (though Cook was more wrong in action than PZ, as he actually personally violated private property to “perpetrate” his “insult”).

    In any event, what stands out is that death threats make both of those transgressions (and transgressions they were) pale by comparison. It is simply absurd that Catholics were threatening the death of someone for nicking a cracker. And even if you want to argue around that, you do have to acknowledge that that very crucial aspect of the whole episode is very much on the table.

    In summary, yes, in general everyone should try their best to follow your advice regarding civility. That is acknowledged. But we are talking about a postmortem of the event, to simply say what everyone SHOLD have done without saying that the Catholics SHOULD have refrained from threatening Cook is missing the most significant aspect of the whole thing.

    And just to come back around at your comment about being elected: I don’t see how that is relevant. Someone who simply fails to choose a church to affiliate with would have difficulty getting elected at all but the local level, even if they never publicly share their lack of faith. What is your point about burning a flag? Somebody who burns a North Korean flag could get elected in Texas. Hell, somebody who wink winks and nudge nudges about secession is GOVERNOR of Texas. And people who are hateful and rude are in fact in office right now. But as long as they respect “God and country” where God is Christian and country is the exceptional US of A, they can be rather rude before anyone notices.

    Anyway, I apologize in advance if I don’t reply. I’ll probably be asleep before you reply to this given the commenting SNAFUs. Good night.

  149. Paul

    But you have officially crossed the line and become actively dangerous to the cause of science in the US. Your overall approach, along with things like supporting Collins’ appointment (have you seen his BioLogos website, and the kind of “philosphy” he’s pushing there?) makes you more dangerous then the Discovery Institute. You have to be actively opposed from this point on.

    Have they seen it? They quoted it approvingly in their Newsweek article:

    Collins wrote a book called The Language of God, frequently talks about his religious conversion during medical school, and recently launched the BioLogos Foundation, which declares, “We believe that faith and science both lead to truth about God and creation.”

    The critics, though, have it exactly backward: the United States needs more scientists like Collins

    Oh hey, Collins agrees with us, so he’s a good guy. He even has a website!

  150. J.J.E.

    @ GD Ooops. A post where you DID consider proportion slipped in between my refreshes. My apologies.

  151. ndt

    128. Richie P Says:

    July 15th, 2009 at 3:07 pm
    #111- Ndt- yes of course we all know that it is just a rusty nail in a cracker, but that is not the issue. Like it or not we live in a world where a significant number of people think that a wafer takes on some aspect of their God. A larger number still think that this same wafer, whilst not literally transforming into God, is very important (their reasoning often being more nebulous than the literalists). You cannot go around indiscriminately offending people for no reason, even if their beliefs are extremely irrational.

    Why the heck not?

    Remember that the people who were offended by crackergate are the same people that donate money to an organization whose leaders say something offensive about homosexuals, women, or non-Christians almost every week. Are you saying it’s OK for them to offend people, but not for us to offend them? To heck with that.

    You should never bring a casserole to a gun fight.

  152. Stu

    Several people over at Pharyngula have asked me to post here what I posted there. Since it violates the commenting policy here violently and continuously, and I don’t feel like rewriting it, I’ll see if Chris & Sheryl will accept a link. I think they may, actually, since it is another perfect and example of Pharyngula *snort*:

    Warning: continuous foul language. Extreme rudeness.
    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/07/unscientific_america_still_use.php#comment-1776178

  153. ndt

    Let’s just be glad Chris and Sheril aren’t counselors for domestic violence victims. I imagine their advice would go like this: “He’ll stop hitting you if you stop saying things that make him mad!”

  154. Blogger

    The point quoted below is gold:

    “The last point Chris and Sheril make is the most important one: PZ’s blog isn’t really about science. It’s about atheism, politics, etc.

    A quick survey of the last 50 posts on Pharyngula shows that only 4–that’s 8%–actually discussed some kind of scientific development.”

  155. DS

    I’m not sure I think Chris and Sheril’s emphasis on the civility/incivility angle is the most important point they make. The larger point–which makes up vastly more of the book’s argument–is that they want scientists to have influence.

    PZ Myers has fans–lots of them. But does he really have any broader cultural influence on what people think of science? If he’s not really writing about science, then it’s a fair argument that what cultural influence he has on what people think about science is mostly negative. He may be having a fantastic influence on what people think about atheism (although that’s certainly debatable too), but not science.

    Carl Sagan had influence. SJ Gould had influence. Ken Miller has influence. Those people are effective communicators precisely because they reach(ed) people who otherwise would not have found reliable information about science. They encouraged people who otherwise knew little about science to appreciate it–and scientists–more. And they did so largely because they didn’t aggressively alienate moderates.

    This isn’t about ‘appeasement’ or ‘accomodation.’ To present the issue in those terms is to admit that the issue, for you, is combating religion first and foremost, not promoting science. What Chris and Sheril want to do is promote science, and to encourage scientists and science communicators to think more carefully about how best to have influence. That’s why I think what they say is worth listening to.

  156. Blogger

    Sheril and Mooney, keep up the good work:

    “For too long, people in the science blogosphere have tiptoed around Myers. After all, he can send a lot of angry commenters your way. And he, and they, are unrelenting in their criticisms, their attacks, and so on. Just read our threads over the last week–it’s all there, the vast majority from people who have not read our book and do not seem inclined to do so.

    But we’re not afraid of Myers or his commenters. “

  157. Let me ask all of you true PZ fans, has he ever done anything you think is open to criticism, or is he, indeed, infallible? List please.

    —- How do the people who complain about the commenters and readers at Pharyngula know about the commenters and readers at said blog unless they are readers too? Do they include themselves in the sweeping generalizations they continually make?

    That would be unlike the sweeping generalizations that PZ and his fan club make about billions of people around the world.

    I go there once in a while, often when an internet search throws up one of PZ’s posts prominently. I’ve participated in several brawls there. But mostly, I encounter PZ’s Playmates when they attack me or other people on other blogs. “PZ Myers says” is not infrequently heard.

    I think we’ve seen a fair representation of the PZites here over the past several days, PZ too.

    — Hmm. So far in this thread of 33 comments, Chris and Sheril’s supporters have already called anyone on PZ’s side “dumb people,” “thugs,” and “acolytes.” Screechy Monkey

    I’ve said thugs, because some of them are thugs. I have said “acolytes” on other occasions but not here, I don’t think. I try not to say “dumb”, though it might get out once in a while.

    — And before Anthony McCarthy gives us another lecture on how he’s bravely giving us a dose of our own medicine: that’s not my point. We’re fine with strongly worded criticism. You’re not hurting my feelings, and I doubt you’re hurting PZ’s. S.M.

    Fine, I wasn’t trying to hurt your feelings, I was talking to other people not you. The only thing I’ve said about PZ’s feelings is that he’s mighty thin skinned for someone who does what he does. His fan club drawn by his antics are foolish if they expect any other kind of reaction than the one he gets from people who don’t like his act.

    —- But we’re not the ones complaining about how MEAN and UNCIVIL the other side is. I just find the hypocrisy amusing and worth noting. S.M.

    What you find funny isn’t my responsibility. If by “mean” and “uncivil” you’re referring to my finding that post about the Danish cartoons and pointing out the clear chance that PZ took after that in desecrating a copy of the Quran, after saying what he had about the violence set off by the cartoons, I guess I’m a mean and uncivil little guy.

    The hypocrisy of people going nuts over criticism of what was clearly an intentional, planned and self publicized series of offensive acts sort of eclipses anything his critics have done. Especially in light of his comment on the deadly rioting that he had every reason to think could possibly have been ignited by one of those.

  158. tomh

    Jon Says:
    Yes, this is America. And we can discuss anything, including what constitutes reasonable behavior.

    Gee, did I say we couldn’t? Of course, if you had read what the original poster actually wrote, you would note that he wasn’t discussing what constituted reasonable behavior, but proclaiming that we need to put a limit on behaviour. Behaviour that, when all is said and done, harms no one. Just where this limit would be wasn’t addressed.

  159. dinkum

    M. (#141)

    Bravo.

    Except for “As long as you two – and other supporters of your ideas – continue to espouse “respect for beliefs”, you will have zero results.”

    Since we are talking about people for whom “accommodation” is functionally equal to “acquiescence,” anything short of direct opposition will only strengthen their confidence in their ignorance.

  160. Brownian

    You two are hacks. Bring back Dr. Matt “I’m an athiest, but don’t worry: I’m a friendly atheist” Nisbet.

    Now there’s a man who knows how to build himself up at the expense of the others in his self-identified group.

    Anthony (Brownian) “I’m a Pharyngulite, but don’t worry: I’m not one of science-destroying Pharyngulites, y’know, like all the rest of them” Karosas

  161. Paul

    This isn’t about ‘appeasement’ or ‘accomodation.’ To present the issue in those terms is to admit that the issue, for you, is combating religion first and foremost, not promoting science. What Chris and Sheril want to do is promote science, and to encourage scientists and science communicators to think more carefully about how best to have influence. That’s why I think what they say is worth listening to.

    So either Myers isn’t trying to promote science in the first place and has no relation to the book (and thus, they wasted a chapter on a personal vendetta), or he is trying to and for some reason Mooney and Kirshenbaum think that attacking him in their book will aid him somehow in this goal? I think you’re trying too hard to give them the benefit of the doubt.

  162. Paul

    You two are hacks. Bring back Dr. Matt “I’m an athiest, but don’t worry: I’m a friendly atheist” Nisbet.

    I can’t decide if that’s better or worse than attacking atheists then pulling the “it couldn’t have been an attack; I’m an atheist, and I’m sure I didn’t attack myself” gambit.

  163. Richie P

    Ndt- ” Remember that the people who were offended by crackergate are the same people that donate money to an organization whose leaders say something offensive about homosexuals, women, or non-Christians almost every week. Are you saying it’s OK for them to offend people, but not for us to offend them? To heck with that.

    You should never bring a casserole to a gun fight.”

    Yes, I can symapthise with your argument here to a point. But I just can’t help but think that we should be above the antics of the homophobes and the hellfire preachers. Somebody has to break the cycle of offense- and yes I would quite like that to be us. That’s not to say that we should never offend- there are many occasions where it is the right thing to do. I frequently, substitute Sky-fairy for God and have no regrets at calling the Creationists ignoramuses- (which is what they are after all).

  164. DS

    Screechy @143

    I readily admit my analysis was superficial. I also agree that one does not have to write only about peer-reviewed research to be considered a ‘science writer.’ But I think the point still has merit. I’ve been a longtime reader of Pharyngula (used to post there under a different name), and my own anecdotal sense is that PZ used to post a lot more about ‘pure science’ than he does now. In fact, one of the reasons I read his blog less frequently these days (and hence had to do the survey) is that I’m disappointed by the low percentage of posts there devoted to scientific topics.

    As I said, though, I’m not against a blog–written by a scientist or not–that’s mostly about atheism. Different strokes for different folks. My point is simply that I think in fairness it should be admitted that the science content there takes a backseat to criticism of religion/promotion of atheism, and that in itself is an argument that Myers is less committed to promoting science (on his blog–I’m sure he’s a wonderful undergraduate instructor) than he is to other things. And because of that, the criticism that he isn’t really having much positive influence on how people think about science is fair.

  165. John Kwok

    @ Glen (@ 115) –

    Okay, I have to confess I was slightly sarcastic with my observation (@ 85), since I realized, as you, yourself have stated (@ 115) that you don’t want to be subjected to the same kind of “affection” which Paul and other zealous acolytes of PZ have demonstrated again and again.

    Anyway, I haven’t thanked you enough for your support when PZ went ballistic over me at Pharyngula, so let me express it now.

  166. Mark T.

    Just pathetic. Good luck in your next careers kids.

  167. And this is his most famous performance: Desecrating a communion wafer.

    Gee, I thought it was getting himself kicked out of Expelled before my eyes.

    I’m still waiting for your response to this article when you’re done complaining about PZ.

  168. — At least acknowledge that the Catholics (especially when riled up by the Catholic League) are frequently fanatical beyond reason about the most mundane of events. J.E.E.

    In my short blogging career I’ve called William Donohue “rent a reactionay” and a number of other things. I’ve slammed him over and over again, for his predictable, quasi-antisemitic, hypocritical, etc. words and acts.

    I’ve criticized John Paul II, Ratzinger, Cardinals Spelman, Egan, um, several others by name for various political statements and acts. I know in blog comments I’ve pointed out the shady history of Pius XII when he was a papal legate in Germany, I think I pointed out that Bishop Sheen was pro-fascist….. Just two days ago I told my state legislator that the archdiocese of Portland Maine should lose its tax exempt status due to participation in promoting ballot measures opposed to gay rights. I’ve critisized The Catholic League, The Knights of Columbus, Opus Dei, a number of Catholic publications ….

    And those are just figures in the Catholic church I’ve criticized. I’ve also praised a number of Catholics including Pope John XXIII, Archbishop Romero, Dorothy Day, Ita Ford, Dorothy Kozol ….

    I hope that answers your question.

  169. J.D.

    Well I guess I’ll have to put up one last post on this blog, hopefully to get through moderation within the next 8 hours or so. This excerpt on the authors summarization of the beginning of crackergate kind of sums it all up for me:

    “In summer 2008, a University of Central Florida student named Webster Cook removed a communion wafer from Catholic Mass and took it home with him – according to one news report, ‘holding it hostage.’ Cook seems to have been unhappy about the fact that his state-sponsored university funded religious groups; he also claimed he simply wanted to show the wafer to a friend. But as the Eucharist is one of the seven sacraments in the teaching of the Catholic Church and considered the literal presence of Christ, his action outraged many Catholics, sparking a flurry of media coverage and even, apparently, some death threats. As the controversy escalated, Cook soon returned the wafer in a Ziploc bag. There things might have ended, had the popular atheist science blogger and University of Minnesota professor Paul Zachary (’PZ’) Myers not gotten involved.”

    Ahh yes, this is the problem with the author’s line of unreasoning. You see after Cook had been the victim of bullying to the point of actual death threats especially from a large, well funded and well publicized group of zeolots he returned the cracker and the authors think that should have been the end of it. Incident over and done with. Move along, nothing to see here. Oh a boy’s life was threatened over a cracker? Well we have to respect that because some people think the cracker is important so threatening a boy over that is not to be scorned or ridiculed, we just ignore that. If we ignore this kind of stuff these people will see we are respecting their superstitions and then they will be persuaded to listen to us and be so swayed by our watered down scientific explanations for things that they will see the light of science!

    That was not the path out of the middle ages, that is the path back into it.

    Goodbye Intersection, you’ve lost this reader…

  170. Meyers and other “new atheists” are hindering rational dialog and, untintentionally, encouraging people of faith to remain steadfast in their religiosity and rejection of science. Free thinking atheist scientists need to show solidarity in our rejection of Meyers.

    The commenters on his “science” blog are so inept and over-zealous that one can’t help but conclude that “new atheism” — if the activity on Meyers’s blog is any indication of its fruits — is close to earning full-fledged cult status.

    Meyers’s main strategy is to encourage dozens of angry followers to shout down any dissenting view point, any idea that doesn’t conform to the narrow “new atheist” (=logically superficial) approach to criticizing religion. Just watch them all showing up here to “pharyngulize” us. (Yes, the term ‘pharyngulize’ is actually part of their cult lingo.) Until they can start producing logical and evidence-based argumentation in favor of their views, instead of the usual insults and crassness, they will not be taken seriously by most scientists as an adequate way of dealing with anti-scientific movements.

  171. Lowell

    DS, again. Mooney and Kirshenbaum are not cricizing PZ for not “really having much positive influence on how people think about science . . . .” They argue that he has an extremely negative influence, so much so that they devote a chapter of their book to the subject.

  172. Robert

    I find the lack of supporting evidence by the authors to be very disconcerting coming from scientist and much more like people of faith. I keep expecting them to address that issue and each time I come back nothing of any significance has been done about this. I really would like to see the data… plain and simple.

  173. John Kwok

    @ Anthony (@ 157) –

    I am still waiting to hear from Mike Haubrich as to when, if ever, he has dared to criticize PZ in much the same fashion that I have critiqued Ken Miller’s espousal of a “weak” anthropic principle online, stating more than once how much I agree with Massimo Pigliucci’s rebuttal of it, which he posted back in February at his Rationally Speaking blog. And Lawrence Krauss, in his recent Wall Street Journal essay, stated that, while he regards himself as a friend of Ken’s, disagreed with Ken’s theistic evolutionist stance and Ken’s support of “accomodationism” (Incidentally I do disagree with Krauss’s take on both positions, but he stated it in a well-reasoned, quite diplomatic, way, unlike the usual verbal diarrhea I have seen from certain individuals who shall remain nameless.). Since Mike hasn’t replied yet, I have to concur, with utmost reluctance, with your harsh assessment of him as one that seems rather accurate.

  174. DS

    Paul @ #161

    Maybe they did give too much attention to PZ–I might have done things differently if it was my book, but who knows? Nonetheless, as a number of other reviews on ScienceBlogs and elsewhere have pointed out, the bit about PZ Myers isn’t really that significant compared to the larger message of the book. And that’s where most of those reviewers–and I–disagree with Myers’ contention that the book is ‘useless.’

    I also think that what most of Chris and Sheril’s detractors here are defending is PZ’s position on atheism, not science. Here I would reiterate that if your primary concern is defeating religion and promoting atheism, then you have a valid argument that Myers’ contribution is significant. But conflating that with ‘promoting science’ is a big, big mistake.

    I’m an atheist and a science educator. I’d like to see both goals accomplished. But I mostly agree with Chris and Sheril that Myers’ promotion of atheism isn’t helping–and may actively be damaging–promotion of science, because I think he conflates the two also.

  175. John Kwok

    @ Blogger (@ 156) –

    I enthusiastically second your endorsement for the very reasons stated by Chris and Sheril (Note to Coyne/Myers Militant Atheist Borg drones: His abysmal acts against me are among the least reasons I possess for condemning him and his ridiculous, often insane, behavior against those who are religiously devout.).

  176. Silvermute

    Chris/Sheril

    I’ve been following both PZ’s and your blog for a few years now without ever feeling I’ve had anything of value to add to the debate. The events of the last few days surrounding the publication of your book have provided me with the needed incentive, however. And I’m afraid it’s not in support of the stance you have taken.

    In my opinion you have completely mishandled your apparent goal of setting out an agenda to improve the understanding of science in your country (I’m English). Rather, you have alienated a large section of the vocal community who would seem to an outsider to be your otherwise best supporters in getting your message across. Your weak (and disingenuous) responses to PZ’s criticism have only made this worse. The “desecration” of a biscuit may have offended some, but it was clear to anyone who read PZ’s posts that he was making a point that needed to be made in the wake of the death threats being aimed at the young man who originally sparked the whole issue. Answering criticism on the way you have misrepresented this by endlessly saying that the answer is in the book just appears to be an attempt to improver sales.

    And it must be said that if your most ardent supporters are Kwok and McCarthy, then you really have problems. Your lack of comment on Kwok’s sycophancy and name-dropping seems to imply that you value his support – I know you have deleted his more unacceptable attacks on other posters, but silence is not enough. I used to have a great deal of respect for your work: I cannot say the same today. This is a great shame.

    I am genuinely saddened that your appear to have sacrificed your integrity in return for a few extra book sales and increased blog traffic from a proven liar (re The Panda’s Thumb and Obama’s birth certificate – did you ever answer the questions raised there, John? Or were you too busy corresponding with your famous friends from your famous alma mater?).I’m not going to say that I’ll never return to this blog, but you have disappointed me enormously.

  177. John Kwok

    @ DS –

    PZ is among the worst here in the USA, but alas, he’s not alone in conflating his promotion of atheism with the promotion of science. The Number One target is, unfortunately, Richard Dawkins.

  178. Brownian

    His abysmal acts against me

    Buy your own cameras, Kwok.

  179. Mooney and Kirshenbaum,

    Please do keep up the good work. I know of more independent voices that will be coming out against Meyers in time.

    For all those who follow Meyers, please take a break for a few days from Meyer’s blog and seriously re-examine the things you are being led to believe over there. Carefully notice that the bulk of Meyers’s posts are nothing more than propaganda screeds. Criticizing religion is good and healthy and the mark of any free thinking society. But pompous bullying of the sort Meyers promulgates is NOT the way to gain positive support for science, nor will it incline believers toward deconversion, and it doesn’t even count as a critique of religion — it’s just schoolyard insult flinging. The more you support Meyers, the more you help reaffirm the stereotypes that religious America has against atheists.

  180. Meyers and other “new atheists” are hindering rational dialog and, untintentionally, encouraging people of faith to remain steadfast in their religiosity and rejection of science. Free thinking atheist scientists need to show solidarity in our rejection of Meyers.
    The commenters on his “science” blog are so inept and over-zealous that one can’t help but conclude that “new atheism” — if the activity on Meyers’s blog is any indication of its fruits — is close to earning full-fledged cult status.

    Meyers’s main strategy is to encourage dozens of angry followers to shout down any dissenting view point, any idea that doesn’t conform to the narrow “new atheist” (=logically superficial) approach to criticizing religion. Just watch them all showing up here to “pharyngulize” us. (Yes, the term ‘pharyngulize’ is actually part of their cult lingo.) Until they can start producing logical and evidence-based argumentation in favor of their views, instead of the usual insults and crassness, they will not be taken seriously by most scientists as an adequate way of dealing with anti-scientific movements.

  181. John Kwok

    @ SLC (@ 54) –

    I thought you knew that ERV is Ms. Smith. You of all people should know, since you have stated more than once that your regard Smith and Kirshenbaum, among others, as “hot”. I have no doubt that you’d feel the same way about Lisa Randall too if you found a decent picture or two of her.

  182. @65 – “It’s calling everyone else who isn’t an atheist mentally ill or deluded.”

    This kind of statement irritates me. I’ve never read any atheist – militant or otherwise – calling theists mentally ill or retarded. Yet I always read theists saying that atheists are calling them this. I’d say it’s classic strawman except I’m not sure the theists, or in this case the accommodationists, realize they’re not being called “mentally ill or deluded.”

    Now, I see plenty of atheists, accommodationists, and theists calling this or that religious belief “lunacy.” Or maybe someone’s position on a topic is stupid, or something like that. But I never see the personal, ad hominem attacks being whined about by the victims of Pharyngula.

    Personally, I think most everything in all religions is utter mental garbage. But I realize that stupid beliefs don’t necessarily mean a stupid person, and I respect the right of people to believe stupid religious things. A religious person might call this “hate the sin, not the sinner.”

    But please speak accurately. Don’t accuse people of personal hostility when it’s actually a healthy confrontation of ideas.

  183. JoshS

    I kept wondering what Kwok’s affected writing style – his endless “risibles,” “I have dubbeds” “the noted scientists” “I, for one, enthusiasticallys” – reminded me of. What was that voice I kept hearing? Then, I remembered:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K7qHmqQWLyw

  184. gillt

    Glen: “I don’t think, though, that the idiot Catholics threatening Cook justified effectively giving the finger to the many who did not do so.”

    I would argue PZ fingered those Catholics alerted to what he did through the Catholic League’s newsletter and various second-hand accounts. I find it hard to imagine those same people weren’t clued into the news of the death threats before PZ ever came on the scene. Where was the sensible Catholic outrage over the death threats? I’m not saying Catholics everywhere are responsible for every member of their sect, but to criticize PZ like Mooneybaum does, like many of his critics did, so unevenhandedly is disingenuous.

    Besides, if the interested parties were curious as to PZ’s motivations at having done something so brash and offensive, they could have read his justification for doing so easily enough on his blog. You know, the part about wanting to take some of the heat off the student via a pugnacious publicity stunt.

    I agree. PZ goaded and offended, but not without purpose or point. Off the top of my head: to reveal a darker side of so-called moderate believers (success), to take attention off a college student in way over his head (success), and to make a blunt point about the concept of the sacred in a free society–that it’s a privilege, not a right, and religious deference, blah, blah blah (your mileage may vary).

  185. Paul

    Kwok,

    Okay, I have to confess I was slightly sarcastic with my observation (@ 85), since I realized, as you, yourself have stated (@ 115) that you don’t want to be subjected to the same kind of “affection” which Paul and other zealous acolytes of PZ have demonstrated again and again.

    Quit misrepresenting people. Glen Davidson is fairly well respected, regardless of his side on an issue. You know why? He actually considers both sides of an issue and does not use “misrepresenting the opposition” or “appeal to authority” as a method of argumentation, whereas they are a staple of your posting style.

    DS,

    I’m an atheist and a science educator. I’d like to see both goals accomplished. But I mostly agree with Chris and Sheril that Myers’ promotion of atheism isn’t helping–and may actively be damaging–promotion of science, because I think he conflates the two also.

    Do you perhaps have some evidence that PZ is damaging promotion of science? M&K phrased it even stronger than you did, but they haven’t been at all forthcoming with said evidence they used to inform their assertion. Perhaps you have more than assertion to offer?

  186. John Kwok

    @ Autnonomy_ Now –

    Yours is a statement I strongly endorse. In fact, contrary to Paul’s inane assertion (@ 108), I try to ignore Pharyngula as much as possible for the very reasons you’ve just stated.

  187. John Kwok

    @ Paul –

    Shut up please. I happen to like Glen a lot for the reasons you stated. What a real jerk you are….

  188. Brownian

    The more you support Meyers, the more you help reaffirm the stereotypes that religious America has against atheists.

    Yeah, you’re right. Growing up Catholic, serving mass as an altarboy, and attending Catholic school, I noticed the entirety of the doctrines held by the church that could be described as antithetical to science were supported by the claim that ‘atheists are mean’. Did not the Pope just recently claim that he’d happily endorse condoms for Africans if only the atheists would swear less? No? Hmm.

    Perhaps then there’s another stereotype of science that so offends many of the religious, and “schoolyard insult-flingers” isn’t it. Note the distinct lack of profanity in the vast majority of peer-reviewed research supporting, say, comprehensive sexual-education and the lack of support for it among many of the religious.

  189. articulett

    M&K must imagine faults in PZ and other new atheists so that they can inject themselves as the “better way”.

    If your arguments were valid, M&K, you wouldn’t need straw men, and you’d answer Ophelia’s simple questions. You imagine yourself role models of diplomacy as you criticize those who seem far more effective at teaching critical thinking than you are.

    So do you have any evidence that people like PZ are responsible for “unsicentific America”?… because it looks to me like religion plays a far bigger role: http://moses.creighton.edu/JRS/2005/2005-11.html (Lookie– evidence! Do you have any for your claims??)

    From the article: “There is evidence that within the U.S. strong disparities in religious belief versus acceptance of evolution are correlated with similarly varying rates of societal dysfunction, the strongly theistic, anti-evolution south and mid-west having markedly worse homicide, mortality, STD, youth pregnancy, marital and related problems than the northeast where societal conditions, secularization, and acceptance of evolution approach European norms ”

    Religion is associated strongly with being a scientific ignoramus– and this appears to lead to further social ills that you’d imagine that Mooney would be concerned about.

    Coddling religion and pretending it can provide knowledge on par with science seems to be a recipe for scientific illiteracy: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/short/313/5788/765

    Were lower than Iran! I don’t really think the New Atheists are to blame since the top countries in terms of the acceptance of evolution are the most secular (so presumably they’d have the most “new atheists)” and the bottom are the most religious (which indicates that religiosity is positively correlated with scientific ignorance.

    I think M&K have imagined faults in “new atheists” that are more evident in themselves so they can avoid the fact –that what they see as “peacekeeping” –is really bigotry towards outspoken atheists coupled with the coddling of some brands of superstition. They’ve heard what isn’t there in the words of PZ Myers, Dawkins, and Coyne while totally missing the main message. Shame on them. Shame on their hubris.

    Here’s a scientific paper they may wish to read more carefully so that they might be more effective in communicating science (if that is truly their goal) http://psp.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/28/3/369

    The incompetent folks are too incompetent to realize that THEY are the incompetent ones.

  190. John Kwok

    @ Brownian –

    I’ll wait for Pivar to sue the pants off PZ and then ask Pivar to buy the cameras with PZ’s money. How do you like that, moron? I said more than once I was joking, jackass.

  191. Richie P

    #173 John Kwok “PZ is among the worst here in the USA, but alas, he’s not alone in conflating his promotion of atheism with the promotion of science. The Number One target is, unfortunately, Richard Dawkins”

    No, I am sorry but I don’t understand you here at all. Richard Dawkins is an atheist and an evolutionary biologist who says that his science led to his Atheism. He also says that he thinks theat evolution and a belief in God are close to incompatible.That is fine, it is his opinion and I don’t think he is forcing it on anyone else. In addition Dawkins would advocate everybody thinking for themselves on these questions and coming to their own conclusions. Why is the mere expression of an opinion a threat to Science education?? If he were forceably trying to ram down your throat you might have a point.

    On the other side however we have religious fundamentalists telling their flock that evolution is wrong, and the last thing they want is for people to think for themselves on the matter. Can you not see that there is a massive inbalance there???

  192. JoshS

    Shut up please. I happen to like Glen a lot for the reasons you stated. What a real jerk you are….

    I find your appalling insensitivity to other posters indicative of a base mentality. You, sir, are risible. It is not shocking to me, though, since I have long known you to among the Militant New Rudists who have so besmirched the good name of etiquette. Noted and eminent columnist Judith Martin (known to her readers as Miss Manners) has often said. . . .”

    Not very nice, Kwok. Saying “shut up” makes me a sad panda.

  193. JoshS

    Whoops. Apparently my tags indicating “start channeling Kwok” and “end channeling kwok” are naughty and filtered. Is there an automatic snark filter?

  194. Paul

    Kwok,

    My 108 was inane? You noted a post by Feynmaniac on Pharyngula this morning, yet we’re supposed to believe you don’t read the threads there? Makes perfect sense.

  195. S&C: I agree totally that spearing a Eucharist with a rusty nail advances science very directly. Since religion often does oppose science, an act that made religion go away suddenly and without cost or difficulty could be said to benefit science but there would probably be immediate unforeseen consequences that in the short term might out weight that. Whatever.

    But I’d like you to consider this. I, as a communicator, educator, and scientist, do things to advance science. But I also do things to advance human rights in certain parts of the world. (As you know.) Those things do not necessarily advance science in any direct way, though expanding basic human rights would enhance education generally and so on and so forth so there would be indirect positive effects. But the point is, not everything I do in the way of communication or science blogging (or should I say “blogging on a science blog”) is about science, and should not be (and is generally not) judged in terms of science.

    Same with PZ. He is on a crusade. It is a crusade that is hard, dangrous, make him plenty of enemies, and that many people fully support and that is important. Yes, there is a connection between science and anti-religion that PZ makes, but in truth, specific actions such as crackergate are not that closely conneted, and I doubt wheter PZ thought about (he can correct me if I’m wrong) the effects on science itself or science education per se. To put it another way: PZ is a developmental biologist. He did the Crackergate thing. He could have been an English Literature prof and done the same thing.

    Here’s another thing I’d like to bring up. One of the reasons my review of your book is not out yet (aside from me getting a nasty cold) is that the nature and contents of the review become increasingly important to me and harder to address as this debate expands and boils over. That is not a bad thing per se, it just means that my job is getting really hard . I could make it easy by just jumping on one bandwagon or another and doing what everybody else is doing. But it is not what I believe. Which is why I wrote my Acommodationist/New Atheist piece (click my name above to see that).

    As I say in that post, I think that there are two or three important issues that actually define what has to happen (in the big picture, not mythologically) over which there is no disagreement between the two of you and PZ and me and lots of others.

    The amount of forward movement that your book has created (and I think there will be forward movement) is discounted by this debate. Can we possibly fix this?

    I have been trying to work with you two guys, and obviously Sheril and I have had some real success working together recently. To the onlooker: Oh, yes, there is a fair amount of one on one communication and this whole Silence in the Enemy thing happened because Sheril started it and various allies, such as myself, communicated, joined up, conspired, brought others in, and did stuff with no problem whatsoever amongst us.

    Yet at the same time I was totally in with PZ on Crackergate. It was I who posted the pieces by the friend of the young man who had the Eucharist, and yes, it was I who discovered the image of Jesus on the banana peel. There is a reason that when people who don’t like me get mad at me they call me “PZ Junior” and there is a reason that when people call me that I think “What a nice thing do say. And PZ is, after all, much much older than me.”

    Perhaps my message here really is that I’m an enigma. But what I’d prefer my message to be is this: We actually agree on the fundamentals. Let’s get past this (it will take time to do so) and then kick ass. Please.

  196. Do you perhaps have some evidence that PZ is damaging promotion of science?

    Evidence that PZ is damaging promotion of science.

  197. John Kwok

    @ JoshS –

    You’re right, I shouldn’t have said, “Shut up”. I should have said, “Continue enjoying your Coyne/Myers Militant Atheist Borg Collective membership”. That applies to you too.

  198. dahduh

    Mooney, I’ve enjoyed your previous books but you’ve called this one wrong. People aren’t scientifically illiterate because they haven’t been exposed to good science communication; they remain illiterate because what they hear contradicts something they already believe, so they dismiss it. Experiment: sit 10 creationists in front of Sagan’s Cosmos series, and at the end of it 9 out of 10 will still be creationists.

    The solution here is to challenge those people’s fundamental beliefs directly, not ‘respect’ them. Maybe you equate ‘frank’ with ‘rude'; if so, get over it. There’s nothing wrong with bluntly challenging an erroneous belief, that’s what makes science work!

  199. Muzz

    I’m new at all this Scienceblogs spatting but why are our hosts seemingly arguing as though science fame is some sort of zero sum game?
    You’re either saying that crackergate and PZ somehow took all the attention away from other aspects of science in the media (which it didn’t. It barely rated a mention in the mainstream press around the world. The biggest stories of the time would be medical things, GM crops and global warming). Or it’s being said that it took the bulk of the hits on science blogging. In which case, who cares? Plenty of bandwidth to go ’round. It’s like saying “With PZ as Perez Hilton, there’ll never be an E-News or Hello! magazine for science!”. (nb: I wouldn’t call him that myself, obviously).

    I haven’t read the book, of course, but any argument that PZ is somehow representative of science in the public mind (and therefore bad because he’s a cranky atheist and turning people off) has got a pretty uphill climb. You’d have a hard time even making the same case about Dawkins. Far more well known are guys like Kevin Warwick and his habit of sticking things in himself. That’s the public face of science for better or worse.

    (and anyone worried about rude comments in mildly large numbers like that is some sort of internet naif who must lie awake at night worried that 4chan might take in interest in them. Honestly kids, you mustn’t have spent much time in this here internet. Pharyngulites barely rate on the scale)

  200. … and when I said “advances science” I meant “does not advance science” in the first sentence.

    Oh, and methodologically…. :)

  201. Lowell

    Alright, I’ll ask. Autonomy Now #191: in what way is an open thread on PZ’s blog discussing Mooney and Kirshbaum’s latest post “damaging promotion of science”?

  202. @191 – I fail to see where promotion of science comes in.

    However, the link at the bottom to a comment by Stu is brilliant: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/07/unscientific_america_still_use.php#comment-1776178

  203. Peter R.

    “This kind of statement irritates me. I’ve never read any atheist – militant or otherwise – calling theists mentally ill or retarded. Yet I always read theists saying that atheists are calling them this. I’d say it’s classic strawman except I’m not sure the theists, or in this case the accommodationists, realize they’re not being called “mentally ill or deluded.””

    Perhaps “mentally ill” is too strong a phrase, but I’ve read plenty of posts and comments at Pharyngula to know that they come very close to claiming this. The common claim–by Dawkins, Myers, etc. that religion is a parasitic communal delusion on our civilization-that religion has produced _only_ misery for humans is also a very common claim, one that is patently wrong, when you consider that millions of people gain great joy from it, and the beautiful works of art and music inspired by it. Not to mention the great science of the past (done by Kepler, Newton, and others) that was inspired by an intense desire to know how God constructed the universe. Indeed, historically, religion and science only parted ways about 200 years ago. Before that, they were often two sides of the same coin.

  204. @194

    That link was to the entire blog.

  205. Jeff

    Regarding conflating science and atheism: Science IS atheistic, in the sense that NO WHERE do you find scientists bringing religious claims into their work. Period, end of story. SCIENTISTS can be religious (although personally I have no idea how that works, compartmentalization is an amazing trick of the brain). I’m sure thoughts of gods and angels can inspire some scientists to do really good work — clearly that has happened in history — but tell me where such ideas and claims show up in scholarly literature? That’s right, it doesn’t.

    I’m shocked — SHOCKED I tell you — that some religious believers are uncomfortable by the audacity that “new” (insert eye-rolling here) atheists are daring to speak their mind, and attempt to keep religious beliefs from interfering in good science. I mean, the gall! They should just keep quiet and let the serious thinkers (ie. theologians, accommodationists) find some middle ground. You know, maybe acknowledge a creator here and there, nod approvingly to some article of faith that might be trodden upon by a scientific discovery. Just get along.

    Sorry, but faith and religion has held on to its privileged position for way too long. Believers don’t get to assert their beliefs on everyone else and simultaneously be immune to critical examination. You can’t “just get along” with people who claim the earth is 6000 years old, or that magic bread must be defended to the death, or that artists who draw Mohammed should be killed, or *insert-cherished-religious-belief-here* MUST be revered by all.

    It’s too bad that Chris and Sheril don’t seem to get this. I might be more interested in their book if one of the solutions proposed was to encourage people to GROW THE F*CK UP, realize that your religious “ways of knowing” don’t work for everyone else, and hey, there’s this really useful and pretty solid way of knowing called “science” that DOES in fact seem to work for everyone, regardless of their own personal faith in the unseen and unknowable. Maybe that would be a nice firm step towards a less Unscientific America.

  206. Damian

    Autonomy_Now:

    Who is this Meyers that you talk of (hint: if you can’t even get his name right, why should I believe that your criticisms are based on experience)?

    If you’re talking of PZ Myers, I’m quite sure that you will be able to present mountains of evidence that he is “hindering rational dialog and, untintentionally [sic], encouraging people of faith to remain steadfast in their religiosity and rejection of science.”

    If you cannot, what makes you so sure?

  207. Skepoet

    You know, I am just going to post my response to all this cross-blog warfare here:
    http://skepoet.wordpress.com/2009/07/15/unscientific-america-the-debate-and-crackergate-redux/

    I think both “sides” in this debate are missing key points that the other one is making, and also missing who the arguments are aimed at. The intended audience does make a huge difference here.

  208. John Kwok

    @ Autonomy_Now –

    Here he is, back in January, celebrating his listing in a Top Ten anti-Christian bashing list:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/01/im_in_good_company.php

    Really underscores your point IMHO about him being harmful to the promotion of science.

  209. @Damian – I clearly don’t follow Myers’s blog as religiously as some do. Forgive me.

    Also, do let us know when you can present empirical data that bullying and ridiculing people on a blog is a productive way to promote science.

  210. Peter Beattie

    » Autonomy_Now:
    Until they can start producing logical and evidence-based argumentation in favor of their views … they will not be taken seriously by most scientists as an adequate way of dealing with anti-scientific movements.

    See, Chris and Sheril, even your own acolytes now take a stand against your behaviour. I would be worried.

  211. Silver Fox

    “But what about the death threats toward Cook?”

    What about them? I don’t know of any documented threat against the life of Cook. But for the sake of argument, lets say there was. That would be an assault; it’s a crime. If anyone laid a hand on Cook; that would be battery. It’s a crime. Criminal behavior is the province of the police and prosecutors. It is not handled by some self-appointed vigilante who take it upon himself to avenge any affront to another.

    PZ’s initial reaction was against the Eucharist when he proclaimed “nothing is sacred”. I suspect that the defense of Cook was an after thought when the proverbial crap began to hit the fan.

    The Chancellor on the campus where PZ teaches described behavior like the kind PZ engaged in as “despicable” but noted that since it occurred outside the precincts of the university, he didn’t think the university could sanction him.

    What PZ defiled was a Eucharist Host, not a cracker, wafer, biscuit, etc.

  212. Sarcastro

    Folks proffered logical arguments against the KKK for years, but it was the old Superman TV show portraying them as comedically moronic redneck imbeciles that ended the Klan as a major political movement.

    I’m not one of PZ’s biggest fans. I find his horizons to be dreadfully close and his science to be overly doctrinaire. But the plain fact is that you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel of folks left that can be reasoned with. The vast majority of people are perfectly OK with accepting religion as metaphor and as a tool for self-exploration rather than a tool used to define reality. Those are the folks we need to keep convinced that the religious fundamentalists are absurd laughing-stocks worthy of nothing but ridicule. Then THEY will provide the social opprobrium that will peel people away from the lunatic fringe.

    Basically; both sides in this debate are doing it wrong. PZ is not accommodating anyone and you’re accommodating everyone.

  213. Damian

    That isn’t evidence, Autonomy_Now.

    Serious evidence would constitute the following: a decent sized survey where the vast majority of respondents claimed that PZ Myers had turned them away from science. Or even, one where the vast majority of respondents claimed that anyone mocking their deeply held beliefs turned them away from science.

    And even if you could produce that kind of evidence — which you cannot, quite clearly — why should we respond to blackmail? Don’t get me wrong, I’d certainly consider it, but it would still constitute blackmail.

    Now, imagine what you would say if I presented a survey that showed that criticism of the “new atheists” had turned them away from science. I imagine that you’d be thoroughly unimpressed, and that you’d likely tell us all to grow up.

    And you’d be right…..

  214. @Peter – that was about PZ.

    And now that you’ve chimed in: please let us know when you can present empirical data that bullying and ridiculing people on a blog is a productive way to promote science.

  215. Silver Fox

    Very nice column today by Michael Gerson of the Washington Post on the appointment of Francis Collins to direct NIH.

    He describes Collins as superbly qualified for the position and gave kudos to Obama for having the courage and vision to appointment him in the face of so much opposition by atheistic scientists.

  216. Richie P

    Kwok- Please could you reply to my post on comment 191. Sorry to ask but I’m genuinely interested in what you have got to say in response.

  217. John Kwok

    @ Greg –

    While I appreciate your thoughtful response to Sheril and Chris, I wish you and PZ had thought clearly the implications as to how CrackerGate might be perceived, and not just by fellow scientists and atheists. Had PZ acted in a manner consistent to what I have seen from Lawrence Krauss, then I wouldn’t be criticizing him, period. But he doesn’t, and you know that very well.

  218. Stu

    “Also, do let us know when you can present empirical data that bullying and ridiculing people on a blog is a productive way to promote science.”

    Nice try. YOU are making an empirical claim that PZ is harming the promotion of science. Until you can do better than linking to his blog (seriously? that is an acceptable argument in your world?), the burden of proof is squarely on you.

  219. Peter R. (203),

    “The common claim–by Dawkins, Myers, etc. that religion is a parasitic communal delusion on our civilization-that religion has produced _only_ misery for humans is also a very common claim, one that is patently wrong, when you consider that millions of people gain great joy from it, and the beautiful works of art and music inspired by it.”

    Again, I don’t hear these absolute claims being made like you say they are. However, I do hear arguments that religion’s supposed benefits are outweighed by the intellectual, emotional, and social shackles it has invariably put on people.

    But maybe I have not read carefully. Do you have examples of the absolute claim being made?

  220. @Damian — where is your empirical evidence that bullying and ridiculing people on a blog is productive way to promote science?

    There is plenty of empirical evidence for the general fact that bullying people tends to discourage them from freely taking the course of action you desire. Of course, you know that no studies have been done specifically on the readers of Myers’s blog (as it’s not a very significant issue). But the general fact — which is strongly evidentially supported — applies to PZ’s pompous bullying and ridculing. Shouldn’t be difficult to see this.

  221. John Kwok

    @ Richie P –

    Dawkins is a former evolutionary biologist. He recently retired, and has not done any meaningful scientific research since the late 1980s. As for criticizing his zealous – shall I say – “missionary” zeal on behalf of atheism, it is warranted, and this is a view shared, by other, truly prominent, people, including a few notable former Britons who are distinguished professors of philosophy and history of science. Just because Fundamentalist Christians are engaging in similar types of behavior doesn’t mean that Dawkins and his fellow Militant Atheists are justified – ethcially speaking – in following suit. In fact for them to claim to be a rational, better alternative to religion is laughable, considering that I either know or have met many more religiously devout scientists who act far more rationally than Dawkins, Myers or Coyne with respect to this very issue.

  222. John Kwok

    @ Silver Fox –

    There may be hope for you yet. Thanks for stating something quite rational for once. I will have to look at Gershon’s article, and hopefully, soon.

  223. Absurdist

    Comparing Richard Dawkins to the evangelical, frothing fundamentalists is absurd. It’s like comparing George W Bush to Osama bin Laden or Barack Obama to Mao.

  224. ndt

    163. Richie P Says:
    July 15th, 2009 at 3:45 pm
    Yes, I can symapthise with your argument here to a point. But I just can’t help but think that we should be above the antics of the homophobes and the hellfire preachers. Somebody has to break the cycle of offense-

    Why?

  225. JRQ

    @Skepoet, 207:

    That is a terrific analysis of the situation.

  226. @Stu

    It’s pretty intuitive. I’ll lead you through the reasoning.

    Is it true that bullying and ridiculing someone is not a productive way to encourage that someone to freely and rationally adopt your point of view? I think your answer would be ‘yes”.

    Do you agree that PZ engages in bullying and ridiculing on his blog? You cannot plausibly deny this (see the link I provided), so here too your answer would (or, at least, should) be ‘yes’.

    So long as you agree to those statements, it follows fairly straightforwardly that PZ is failing to productively encourage people to adopt a pro-scientific attitude.

  227. in his online persona–and nowhere more than with the wafer desecration–we believe he cultivates a climate of extremism, incivility and, indeed, unreason

    I’m shocked! shocked!! to hear of a scientist’s disrespect of religion. M&K, get right on the case with these evil doers speakers too:

    “If we don’t play God, who will?” —James Watson (1996), in The Lives to Come: The Genetic Revolution and Human Possibilities

    “The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.” —Albert Einstein, Gutkind Letter (3 January 1954)

    “The aim of this conference is to have a constructive dialogue between science and religion. I am all in favor of a dialogue between science and religion, but not a constructive dialogue. One of the great achievements of science has been, if not to make it impossible for intelligent people to be religious, then at least to make it possible for them not to be religious. We should not retreat from this accomplishment.” —Steven Weinberg, Facing Up: Science and Its Cultural Adversaries (2001), p. 242.

    “There is no need for that hypothesis.” —Laplace

  228. John Kwok

    @ Autonomy_Now –

    In rebuttal to Stu, I think you also have to note this, which I am noting again here, which demonstrates clearly PZ’s anti-religious bigotry:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/01/im_in_good_company.php

  229. Skeptic

    How nice it must be for John Kwok to indulge in his verbal diarrhea here after he has been banned from other sites. He must be delighted that he has finally found a forum where he can dribble his spittle with unabashed abandon, post after post. Chris and Sheril are clearly generous in allowing people like him to comment away to glory.

  230. Stu

    “Is it true that bullying and ridiculing someone is not a productive way to encourage that someone to freely and rationally adopt your point of view?”

    That depends, but in general, sure.

    “Do you agree that PZ engages in bullying and ridiculing on his blog?”

    Bullying? No. Ridiculing? Yes.

    “it follows fairly straightforwardly that PZ is failing to productively encourage people to adopt a pro-scientific attitude.”

    Which is not the same as the promotion of science.

    I know what you’re trying to say, but it is sweeping, imprecise and assumes both one goal, one objective and one way of getting there.

  231. Richie P

    Kwok- I have to say you rather spectacularly miss my point when you say

    “Just because Fundamentalist Christians are engaging in similar types of behavior doesn’t mean that Dawkins and his fellow Militant Atheists are justified – ethcially speaking – in following suit.”

    No- as I argued in #191- Christian fundamentalists are not engaging in a similar type of behaviour! The fundamentalists are saying that evolution is necessarily Atheistic and thus incorrect and evil, and rarely bother to supply any reasons for this claim. Dawkins on the other hand says that there is a compatability issue, but importantly less forcefully than the fundamentalists, and most importantly gives reasons why he thinks this. You are welcome to agree or disagree with his reasons of course, but why does this constitute a problem for science education? Furthermore, Dawkins time and time again emphasises that he wants people to think for themselves, the fundamentalists unambigiously fail to say anything remotely like this.

  232. John Kwok

    @ Skeptic –

    Only in your wildest dreams do I “indulge in [my] verbal diarrhea”. But I’m flattered by your “praise” and wish you well in enjoying still your ongoing membership in the Coyne/Myers Militant Atheist Borg Collective.

  233. Damian

    Autonomy_Now:

    Right, you don’t have any evidence, so you thought that you’d better shift the burden back on to us? Seriously?

    And where’s your evidence of “bullying”? Define it, and then present the evidence.

    Ridicule is a weapon that has been used for centuries (and still is, very effectively, at least in my country, the UK), and while it is certainly harmful in certain situations, I’m just not buying these black and white assertions.

    In any case, where religion is concerned, who says that we are promoting science education? Indeed, you’d have to show that ridicule is the only thing that we do, which again, you can’t/won’t.

    See how difficult it becomes when you make blind assertions about people? If you’d only accept that the people that you criticize are far more nuanced (in their language and approach) than you have made them out to be, you wouldn’t get yourself in to so much trouble.

  234. M.

    @Paul:
    “Have they seen it? They quoted it approvingly in their Newsweek article”

    That, on its own, destroys any credibility they may have left. Damn. I really admired Mooney when he published his first book. I liked his second book as well. A major talent for science promotion self-destructing like this…

    @DS:
    “Carl Sagan had influence. SJ Gould had influence. Ken Miller has influence. Those people are effective communicators precisely because they reach(ed) people who otherwise would not have found reliable information about science. They encouraged people who otherwise knew little about science to appreciate it–and scientists–more. And they did so largely because they didn’t aggressively alienate moderates.”

    Yes, Sagan and Gould had influence – they excited people who were already on the side of science.

    Did their efforts result in a reduction in the levels of pseudoscience? Did they reduce the number of young-earth creationists? Did they reduce the widespread antiscientific sentiment?

    It’s pretty clear they haven’t. And Ken Miller, likeable though he is, achieves very little today, along the same lines.

    Let me make my point as clear as possible.

    This is not about PZ. It is not about Crackergate (which I think was a very unwise move on PZs part, but nowhere near as apocalyptic as Mooney and Kirschenbaum present it).

    This is about the simple fact that accomodating anti-scientific beliefs has been tried, and has failed to work. The New Atheists have been writing for the last five years: the unswerving tide of antiscientific sentiment has not budged for decades. The idea that atheists are somehow responsible for poor public image of science is absolutely insane – on the level of Ben Stein and his “evolution was the cause of Jewish pogroms” thing.

    We are not dealing with a public that is poorly informed. We are dealing with a public that is, from their very basic beliefs, actively hostile towards science. No amount of personable communication will change their opinion. See comment #141.

    To reiterate something I’ve written previously: the only way we can change people’s minds is to make them care about the subject. People don’t care about science or about evolution. As long as we “leave their beliefs alone” and just try to “communicate the facts”, we will fail. The facts will simply be ignored as unimportant.

    If we strike at their beliefs, the core of their group identity, then we have a different story. I’m not saying that we should start going door-to-door and attacking people’s beliefs. But when those beliefs are stated in a public forum, we should stand up and say “I don’t believe that is the truth, and here are the reasons why“. Then, in the process of defending their beliefs – which they DO care about – the believers are forced to examine and research the actual evidence of the matter, thus exposing themselves to the facts.

    This is a tentative strategy. We’ll see if it works. The goal isn’t neccessarily to destroy someone’s belief system – if they can change it to fit the facts, that’s fine. But they won’t change their belief system to fit the facts because of facts alone. Their previous belief system has to become untenable, their group cohesion has to be threatened.

    So far, we are running into tried-and-true defense that creationists have been using for over a century. Just like they won’t read a biology book, but will instead rely on the creationist literature to explain to them why biology is wrong, most people who criticize the New Atheists have not actually read their arguments, but have instead formed a priori opinions – or just bought a Ray Comfort-style book which will “explain” to them why Dawkins is wrong without having to think for themselves.

    (This is also the case with most anti-atheist criticisms on this forum as well: most people attack those aggressive New Atheists for saying things they never actually said, and chastise PZ for opinions he doesn’t hold.)

    The thing that, so far, has worked is activation of the dialogue. Thanks to New Atheists, there are many more people standing up and saying “What you just said isn’t true, and here’s why” all over the place. This makes it much, much harder for believers to avoid exposure to discussion about things they care about. Which is, at least according to the above hypothesis, the first step towards greater acceptance of facts. I see some encouraging trends being born from here.

    What remains as an absolute, basic, bedrock fact is that we shouldn’t just keep doing what hasn’t worked before.

    Mooney and Kirschenbaum not only work hard to undermine the work of others, to split and sow discord among those who are trying to popularize science, but they are insisting that the only strategy that can be allowed (!) is the one that has never worked in the past, does not work in the present, and cannot possibly work in the future.

    It is only a matter of time before this book is quoted in support of antiscientific action. I will remind everyone that last time this happened, with a spat between Mooney/Nisbett and PZ, the things Mooney and Nisbett wrote were mirrored by the Discovery Institute as evidence that “Darwinists” are evil and unscientific. This is a rerun, but on a national scale, with a book instead of a blog post.

  235. John Kwok

    @ Richie P –

    Rhetorically both Militant Atheists and Xian Fundamentalist Christians do sound alike. I think that’s why eminent evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson has stated that atheism is a “stealth religion”. IMHO there’s no real difference between PZM and WAD at Pharyngula and Uncommon Descent or by their acolytes posting at either website. That’s the point you are missing.

  236. John Kwok

    @ M –

    You do have a “point”. I suppose that is why a recent poll published in the Guardian nearly two weeks ago showed that only 51% of Britons recognize that there is valid scientific evidence in support of evolution. My hunch is that Militant Atheists like Dawkins and Hitchens may be responsible for this poll result. And if that is what has happened over in Great Britain, then don’t dismiss that a similar effect is working here in the USA courtesy of Pharyngula and similar blogs.

  237. Aeromondo

    If your sensitivities are disturbed by the kind of criticism dished out by Myers you have no business on the front lines of the war on science. Being sphincter bound and trying to search for a civilized bullet to shoot through the heart of the enemy makes you too slow and soft for the job and you should head on back to the supply line and find a nice safe place to work that won’t harm your girlyman complexions.

  238. Richie P

    Kwok- who cares about what they sound like rhetorically? That’s just an indicator of passion, and since when was being passionate a crime. What matters far more is whether or not one is looking to indoctrinate or express an opinion, regardless of the passion behind such an opinion. There is no doubt in my mind that Dawkins is only expressing his opinion when he talks about Science and religion compatibilty- are the fundamentalists doing the same thing I wonder?

  239. CJO

    PZ’s initial reaction was against the Eucharist when he proclaimed “nothing is sacred”. I suspect that the defense of Cook was an after thought when the proverbial crap began to hit the fan.

    First, I will note with amusement that your insufferable stupidity and execrable dishonesty has earned you kudos from none other than the Kw*k. A real meeting of the minds, that. May the two of you be fruitful and multiply… here, and blessedly not there.

    Far from Cook’s plight being “an afterthought,” the disposal of the cracker was not even conceived of until after the initial insult. Really not very smart misrepresenting a matter of public record.

    Further, contrary to your feeble crowing, funny how the shit never really did hit the fan, isn’t it?

    What PZ defiled was a Eucharist Host, not a cracker, wafer, biscuit, etc.

    The whole point is that you can call it whatever you want, in your church, under the aegis of your ritual. Nobody cares. But out here in reality, it’s a cracker. It has no more importance than any other cracker. And your reverence for it carries no force in the secular society. I’m glad you’re here, really. So much easier just to be able to point at you than to have to make the point, yet again.

    All you PZ haters, beware. Silver Fox is a walking own-goal.

  240. windy

    Chris and Sheril, in your response to PZ, your point 1 was to claim that you weren’t ‘Getting personal’, PZ is just criticized because he is a public figure.

    Then several posts later, you admit in your point 10 that yes, personal reasons did play a major role in your decision!

    How is this consistent, or honest?

  241. Peter R.

    @223:

    Dawkins and Fundamentalist (or literalist) Christians really are two sides of the same coin. Both are very clear that acceptance of evolution entails atheism with no middle ground. Dawkins simply accepts atheism–he has said that evolution was the one theory that made atheism complete, or similar words to that effect. Fundamentalists can’t accept atheism, so they reject evolution. Both are also fairly hard-core realists, in the sense that they assume that science must tell us what the world is really like. Neither of them interprets the results of science from an instrumentalist point of view. ‘Realism’ and ‘instrumentalism’ are also somewhat comparable with ‘literalist’ and ‘metaphorical’ interpretations of the Bible.

  242. Jay K.

    Here’s another blurker you’ve turned off. Between PZ, ERV and Jason Rosenhouse, I’ve managed to reawaken my curiosity into many of the sciences that I had left behind in undergrad classes. Thanks to them I’ve restarted grad school and I read around 2 science based books a month, or more. What have you two done for me, or other atheists with your accommodationist screed? You might take note of the whackjobs that are supporting you. Other than Mike from RealClimate.org, you’ve got the Kwok brigade. You’re on a wonderful path to obsolescence. Congratulations!

  243. Brownian

    My hunch is that Militant Atheists like Dawkins and Hitchens may be responsible for this poll result.

    Yes, as you all keep saying. Yet, to a person not one of you has provided any evidence that attitudes towards science have declined as a result of, or even in tandem with, the rise of the new atheists, which was M’s point.

    Kwok, your hunches aren’t worth a state fair psychic’s tarot deck. Perhaps y’all might consider refraining from commenting on what’s good or bad for science until you actually learn what it is. (See both Kwok’s and Autonomy_Now’s posts for examples of what it isn’t.)

  244. Rilke's granddaughter

    @196 – As others have pointed out, your link does not constitute evidence that PZ is damaging the promotion of science. Clearly you are not yourself a scientist and so perhaps don’t understand the nature of evidence. Can you provide, for example, documentation that shows that anyone has been turned off from science by Myers?

    Didn’t think so. You’re almost as vapid as Kwok – though I appreciate that you don’t seem to be quite as hormone-ridden as Kwok.

  245. Rilke's granddaughter

    Kwok, your “hunches” aren’t evidence.

    For someone who talks so much about science, you sure don’t seem to understand it.

  246. Barry

    It would not be hard to create a poll and find out. And it would be quick too. Unfortunately, I can think of at least one scientist who would make it a mission to crash such a poll.

  247. Charles Pierce: In your comment you remind me a little of Father Murphy.

  248. Richie P

    My hunch is that MILITANT ATHEISTS may be responsible for all the poverty in the world, famine, disease, global warming denial, holocaust denial, the holocaust itself, the moon landing hoax, the Westboro Baptist Church, Jenny McCarthy and Simon Cowell. They are an evil bunch who should be locked up. Now I just need to find some evidence to back up my hunch.

    Only joking……

  249. Lowell

    Well, Brownian and RG, okay so maybe Kwok’s hunches aren’t evidence. But what if he happened to know some very eminent scientists, who he is personally familiar with, who would agree with him. Surely, that would convince you.

  250. Brownian

    For someone who talks so much about science, you sure don’t seem to understand it.

    No matter. He has close, personal friends that do.

  251. Sorbet

    Kwok, give us the evidence that “militant atheism” is responsible for public indifference or hostility toward science. Put up or shut up.

  252. Sorbet

    Well, Ken Miller said XYZ. There, I beat Kwok to it.

  253. Stu

    Could we all, in the name all of that is good in the world, leave the 301.0 / 301.4 / 301.81 alone?

  254. Richie P

    I hope the joke on my last post is taken in the spirit it was intended.

    Let’s just put it this way. If “Militant Atheists” are really responsible for as much chaos as some of the posters here suggest, then it doesn’t on the face of it say a lot for believers. If the religious believers out there are really so fragile as to move way from Science just because there are a few Scientists out there critical of religion then.. well… I worry for those believers.

  255. Brownian

    And it would be quick too. Unfortunately, I can think of at least one scientist who would make it a mission to crash such a poll.

    Indeed. If only PZ’d remember that this is all a popularity contest in which he is losing by winning, somehow.

  256. John Kwok

    @ Brownian –

    I almost fell out of my seat roaring with laughter when I saw your comment which included this precious gem, “….what’s good or bad for science until you actually learn what it is”.

    I am a former invertebrate paleobiologist who also received ample training in stratigraphy, sedimentology and evolutionary ecology. So I don’t know what science is? Go back to sleep, and when you wake up, you might realize how foolish you are by making such an inane comment.

  257. foolfodder

    “JRQ Says:

    @Skepoet, 207:

    That is a terrific analysis of the situation.”

    Seconded.

  258. John Kwok

    @ Sorbet –

    Did Stephen Jay Gould say that too? If he did, then I’d might listen (Hint: Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s my favorite scientist of them all? Gould, Miller, Coyne, Myers.).

  259. Lindsay

    Bravo, Chris and Sheril!

    I agree that although I like PZ a lot, he is not being a responsible popular figure for science. But what he chooses to do is his choice, and no one should tell him to stop or shut up. I do think your criticisms are valid (from what I’ve read on the blog) and he and his writhing hoard should take note of the major point: if you are nice to people, they will like you and what you have to say more.

    I wanted y’all to know that I think the great majority of practicing scientists (especially those trying to reach out to non-scientists) are right there with you. We try to work very hard to get people of all different faiths and positions to listen to what we have to say, and it is very frustrating when you can’t reach out because someone else in your field has been rude or insulting to them.

    I look forward to getting back from my field season and reading the book (it should already have been delivered!). Don’t take comments too seriously anyway; if I can’t imagine any one of these people having the guts to say it to your face anyway.

  260. Peter Beattie

    » Autonomy_Now:
    @Peter – that was about PZ.

    It’s not exactly Self-awareness Day today, is it?

    You asked for “empirical data that bullying and ridiculing people on a blog is a productive way to promote science”. Nobody has claimed that, and certainly not me. So asking me to provide such evidence seems a bit daft.

    M&K, on the other hand, have repeatedly claimed that PZ and RD et al.’s rhetoric and general approach are counterproductive. They have not presented a single shred of evidence. Have you asked them lately to provide it for us?

  261. John Kwok

    @ Rilke’s Granddaughter –

    OUCH THAT HURTS. I’ll sic Arnie on you if you don’t stop Wah! Wah! Wah!

    Oh wait, I just had a nightmare, in which I was married to ERV and you were our maid. Not in my wildest dreams, I hope…..

  262. Rockstar

    Kwok, I have question for you. Really it’s a guilty curiousity. Guilty because because I think, especially in this context, you should be judged upon your statements (I have). What do you do for a living? You post a lot and are quite judgmental based upon other peoples careers and your perceptioin of their successes.

  263. Peter Beattie

    » John Kwok:
    So I don’t know what science is? Go back to sleep, and when you wake up, you might realize how foolish you are by making such an inane comment.

    John, I’d like to get your input on this. Would you agree that one of the fundamental parts of the scientific mindset is that you should (at least be able to) specify conditions that would lead you to change your mind?

  264. Brownian

    I am a former invertebrate paleobiologist who also received ample training in stratigraphy, sedimentology and evolutionary ecology. So I don’t know what science is? Go back to sleep, and when you wake up, you might realize how foolish you are by making such an inane comment.

    Then how come you’re so blindingly moronic, John? Is it drugs? Do you sleep with your rock hammer perched precariously above your head? Perhaps you’ve a fondness for free-diving beyond your abilities? Do tell us.

    Because until you start learning to provide evidence for your assertions rather than hunches, it’s absolutely clear you do not understand science, whatever degree your most assuredly over-fatigued thesis committee let you escape with.

  265. Brownian

    Oh wait, I just had a nightmare, in which I was married to ERV and you were our maid. Not in my wildest dreams, I hope…..

    How scientific.

  266. Sorbet

    According to John Kwok, scientific credibility is judged by past training, not by actual words and opinions.

  267. John Morales

    Well, I have now read the promised “rebuttal”.

    I find it unconvincing.

    Point #10 is revealing — PZ explicitly declined to address personal criticism, and this too has been “rebutted”, thusly:

    [PZ] I am not going to address his personal criticisms of me — there’s no point, you obviously know I think he’s completely wrong, and the uncharitable will simply claim my disagreement is the result of a personal animus — so instead I’m only going to address a couple of other general points that Mooney and Kirshenbaum get completely wrong.

    In his review, Myers doesn’t address our criticisms of him–of his public writings and actions. But we will end by elaborating upon why, in the wake of the communion wafer desecration, we decided we had to speak out about Myers in a way that would really be heard.

  268. Silvermute

    @ Kwok:

    Do you ever answer direct questions on your appalling behaviour and misrepresentations of others with anything more than your “gosh I’m so clever” insults (“Militant Atheist Borg Collective”, blimey, it’s like Wilde is born again) or a reference to what one of your we’re-on-first-name-terms famous friends may have to think on the subject?

    Richie P at #191 and #216 are just the most recent examples of where you blather on without answering direct questions, although you do find time to thank others (#217) on Mooney and Kirshenbaum’s behalf – thus becoming their DaveScot. Congratulations.

    You’ve been found out on a number of issues (Obama’s birth certificate? Are you sure he’s not a citizen? Hello? Hello?) banned at other blogs and ridiculed wherever and whenever you start the name-dropping and alma mater nonsense: doesn’t any of this start to tell you something? You even managed to get posters on erv out in support of the ID brigade when you announced that you had “reviewed” Dembski’s book without reading it (hilariously, you clearly thought that your act would result in adulation when you announced it (http://scienceblogs.com/erv/2008/07/green_buttocks.php#comment-963465), rather than the opprobrium you actually received)

    You, sir, are a pompous troll and bring nothing to the debate but fleeting amusement at your expense. I suggest you view your entry at http://rationalwiki.com/wiki/John_Kwok and then rethink the way you present yourself in public.

  269. Jeff

    @ John Morales
    Shorter Moonie: “Since we claim PZ is just a rude rhetorical firebomber, we’ll respond to his specific criticisms by throwing rhetorical firebombs. Take that, biatch!”

  270. Jeff

    Er, that should be Mooney, of course. I didn’t intend to butcher his name. Just his ideas.

  271. Regarding bigotry, it is my understanding that your book (correct me if I’m wrong) is basically telling the “New Atheists” (in contrast to more “generic atheists” like Mooney – hence bigotry could still be at work) that they should shut up and quit using science as a tool to combat religious beliefs. Now personally, I try to be civil and only combat those religious beliefs that directly conflict with things I see as important for society, ignoring more benign beliefs (like communion wafers) even when I think they are silly. However, I wouldn’t presume that my approach is the only valid one, nor that it is wrong for people to use science to more generally combat belief in supernatural phenomena. It is ignorant to claim that there is no good reason (logical or practical) for doing so, and if there is, then who am I (and who are you) to claim that doing so is wrong, particularly considering the recent “coming out” of atheists all over the world (including myself) that no doubt is inextricably tied to the “New Atheist” movement .

  272. Stu

    @Lindsay

    “he and his writhing hoard”

    Did you take analogy & imagery lessons from John?

    “the major point: if you are nice to people, they will like you and what you have to say more”

    Not if those people have already decided that they will not listen to what you have to say no matter what. Is that so difficult to understand? Do you guys enjoy being willfully obtuse?

    Do you truly think you can reason with, oh, let’s say… the WBC? Donahue? Taliban? DI? CA? Scudamore? They’re laughing at you. You’re hurting science by demanding respect for unyielding, frothing lunacy.

  273. Peter Beattie

    » Greg Laden:
    The amount of forward movement that your book has created (and I think there will be forward movement) is discounted by this debate. Can we possibly fix this?

    I think this taps into the solutions theme that has been running through the whole debate pretty much from the start. Many people have repeatedly asked M&K to please provide just one or two sentences on their proposed solutions, or at least the directions in which they see them run. They have steadfastly stonewalled those requests and instead chanted, ‘Buy our book!’ I for one would have loved to debate actual solutions, but the two supposedly people best placed to fix this have so far refused to be part of a real discussion.

    Perhaps my message here really is that I’m an enigma. But what I’d prefer my message to be is this: We actually agree on the fundamentals.

    While that may be true, what K&M have shown of their understanding of scientific thinking is abysmal. You can’t have failed to see that. Refusals to give evidence, appeals to authority, misrepresentation, a complete failure to specify any conditions that would make them change their mind—they have violated just about every major rule in the book. And yet they wrote a book purportedly about scientific illiteracy. Unfortunately, it very much looks like we don’t agree on the fundamentals.

  274. ndt

    I’ve never seen PZ bully anyone. I have seen him ridicule lots of people, and no, ridicule will not get those people to change their minds. Nothing will get those people to change their minds. The point of the ridicule is to help other people understand just how loony those people are so they will stop listening to them and respecting their opinions.

    Pope Benedict is never going to stop being a bigot. Donald McLeroy is never going to stop lying about evolution. But some of the people who listen to those people might wake up and say, wait a minute, what he’s saying is ridiculous. I’ll stop voting for him/giving him money.

    If the cracker affair caused just one young person to realize their parents’ beliefs were ridiculous, then PZ will have accomplished some good in the world.

  275. ndt

    Also, my grandmother doesn’t use the internet, so there’s really no reason to censor out the f****** swear words.

  276. windy

    I wanted y’all to know that I think the great majority of practicing scientists (especially those trying to reach out to non-scientists) are right there with you.

    Please don’t try to speak for all of us or even the ‘great majority’, unless you have some evidence for this.

    with regards,
    one of the eldritch creatures from the writhing ‘hoard’

  277. We could not see what this act could possibly have to do with promoting science and reason. It contributed nothing to the public understanding or appreciation of science…

    Perhaps it’s a brilliant act of framing, employing outrageousness to nix the perception of all scientists as timid geeks.

    That theory has about as much evidence to support it as any other regarding the far-reaching effects of crackergate.

  278. Wowbagger

    The ‘real’ scientists have always been at war with Eastasia. Er, I mean, the New Militant Atheists…

  279. DS

    M @ 230

    Yes, Sagan and Gould had influence – they excited people who were already on the side of science.

    Did their efforts result in a reduction in the levels of pseudoscience? Did they reduce the number of young-earth creationists? Did they reduce the widespread antiscientific sentiment?

    It’s pretty clear they haven’t. And Ken Miller, likeable though he is, achieves very little today, along the same lines.

    I think you’ve missed my point. You’re acting as if the single issue facing science education is the teaching of evolution. I think that’s a pretty big issue too (seeing as I study evolutionary biology), but I’m thinking about the bigger picture, and so are Chris and Sheril.

    I think you must either be too young to remember the heyday of Sagan and Gould, or you’re just plain wrong. As Chris pointed out in an earlier post, Cosmos reached 500 million people. He had an enormous influence on increasing the enthusiasm, funding, and cultural relevance of science during the 1970s and early 80s.

    I can’t tell you the number of students I’ve had (sadly, less since his death) for whom Gould’s writing was the first, and sometimes only, exposure to science outside of a school curriculum. These are not people who were necessarily “already on the side of science” in any way at all.

    I just don’t know what you mean when you say these people had no positive effect on the culture. Using the growth of creationism as evidence they were somehow unsuccessful seriously misunderstands the history and sociology of religious fundamentalism. Think of how much worse things would be now if those two had never lived!

    The statement about Ken Miller is also just empirically false. Here’s an anecdote: A couple of years ago we invited him to my bible-belt campus, where speakers who lecture on evolution are often greeted frostily or with outright hostility. Within minutes he had the entire auditorium of 500+ people on his side. At the end of the talk there was a line of people stretching out the door for copies of his book. Let me promise you these were not all people who came to the lecture as hard-core evolutionists. We need more people like Ken, not fewer.

    But there are pressing issues besides creationism. We need basic science research funded at a much higher level than it currently is. We need to train and prepare many more students for scientific careers. We need to investigate and promote renewable energy, and counteract the effects of global warming. These goals must supersede any philosophical objections to religious institutions or beliefs, except where those beliefs present a clear and demonstrable obstacle to those goals (and I grant that fighting creationism is one such instance).

    Sure, in an abstract sense I’d like to live in a world with no religion. But I’m much more concerned about living in a world that isn’t dependent on burning fossil fuels for energy, for example. So go ahead and promote skepticism about religion–personally, I’m right there with you. But please don’t pretend that goal is identical with the much more serious and pressing ones I mentioned above. And please give some serious thought to whether it’s genuinely a love of science and concern for our planet that is motivating you.

  280. DS

    ndt @274

    I’ve never seen PZ bully anyone. I have seen him ridicule lots of people, and no, ridicule will not get those people to change their minds. Nothing will get those people to change their minds. The point of the ridicule is to help other people understand just how loony those people are so they will stop listening to them and respecting their opinions.

    If he needs to resort to ridicule to get that message across, he must have fairly limited persuasive abilities. And give me a break: how many readers of Pharyngula are in danger of “listening and respecting” the people he’s ridiculing?

    Again, the ‘message’ is atheism, not the promotion of science. That’s fine if you think the eradication of religion is the #1 problem facing us today. I simply don’t.

  281. Silver Fox

    Matt:

    “Can Mooney and Kirshenbaum confirm, for the record, that they condemn the assault by a lay official on Webster Cooke during a communion service, the allegations from a Catholic Bishop that Cooke was guilty of hate crimes, and the death threats Cooke and Myers received.”

    Everyone condemns assault and battery. They are crimes and crimes are handled by police and prosecutors not by self appointed vigilantes who take it upon themselves to avenge non-victims. Cooke made his own choice.

    There is no documented evidence that anyone assaulted Cooke but if they did that was a matter for the proper authorities. Same fot PZ.

    The pages of the Quran, pages from God Delusion were included to support PZ’s position that “nothing is sacred”. Well, some things are. It seems to me that the Cooke defense was an after thought when the proverbial crap began to hit the fan.

    M and K are not telling the complete story? Well, the best source for the complete story is Pharyngula, PZ’s blog, where he documented everything he did. Eucharistic Host wrapped in banana peel and coffee grinds, rusty nail driven through the Host.

    Anyone reading the unfolding of that sad episode should have been horrified. PZ’s rat pack was not.

    The Bishop saying Cooke committed a “hate crime”? I don’t know if he did or not. But I do know that if Cooke is a Catholic, (and if he wasn’t, I don’t know what he was doing in church receiving Communion) the Bishop has the authority to excommunicate him from the Church – cut him off from the sacramental life of the Church. There is no evidence that he did that, although Cooke may have done that automatically by his actions.

  282. Heraclides

    Chris & Sheril,

    Keeping this short as you haven’t addressed other’s comments, but just keep plowing on…

    Though we have not said so until now, Myers is among the central reasons we left ScienceBlogs.

    As a writer you should know better than include something with personal issues into a work. Unless you intent it to be polemic with personal “attacks” and all the rest. (Nothing personal in writing this, but there are writers like that and they’re generally regarded as sour old grapes!)

    By way of example of putting aside something with too strong personal connections, I was invited by a media organisation to write about an institute recently established in my country. While very knowledgeable about it and the science involved, I declined as I felt I was too personally involved. Most writers know it’s a line not to cross in the public sphere of writing.

    In many ways your reply has justified some of what PZ has written about you, confirming that it was, indeed, at least in part, targeted at him and not the underlying issues.

    I’m not agreeing with (all of) the “Crackergate” saga—in hindsight some things could have been done differently—but I think your approach in response (at least on these blogs) sounds a little off target, to be polite.

    We could not see what this act could possibly have to do with promoting science and reason. It was clear that it’s purpose was to get people to look at the harm being done by the church, it was pretty much said so at the time. Why should you try link it to something else? No need to say that the “sciblogs” should only be about science: easily a half of the article on all of the blogs there aren’t. So that can’t be your real gripe.

  283. “Also, my grandmother doesn’t use the internet, so there’s really no reason to censor out the f****** swear words.”

    Typical grandmother stereotyping. The grandmothers I know can make sailors faint dead away. &#*%%$!!

  284. I’ve read down the thread, it’s like PZite wallpaper, a boring and unvaried pattern that you can’t wait to paint over.

    I’ve counted exactly one PZ fan who seems to think he’s not above criticism, though my eyes have been glazing over every comment or two.

  285. Miguel

    Hmm, is it PZ Envy I see here? (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=pz+envy).

    On a more serious note, let me say up front that I really enjoyed your “Republican War on Science” book, and I haven’t read “Unscientific America” yet.

    I hail from Brazil, and have been reading Pharyngula for at least two years. And I must say that it gave me a more positive view of the american scientific culture. I’ve been inspired by PZ’s commitment to science, and I’ve learned quite a lot from him. He stimulates scientific curiosity in a lot of ways, for a lot of people.

    Of course I’m also an atheist (theists can’t survive over there, you know), and I enjoy his anti-religious antics (sharing most of his views myself). Some atheists may not like his style, and so will not enjoy his blog, and some scientifically educated christians won’t like it either and will mostly keep away. But they won’t stop pursuing scientific knowledge just because there’s an angry atheist around – you just can’t say that in good conscience.

    As for the their more radical brethren – the “unscientific americans”, they won’t change their ways because the spokesmen for science are humble and meek. They don’t feel alienated because of the New Atheists’ vociferousness – that’s relatively new. They feel that way because actual scientific knowledge threatens their cherished worldviews – that’s why we have young earth creationists.

    Pretending that religion doesn’t harm science isn’t productive in any way. The creationists don’t believe in evolution because it negates their 6-day creation fairy tale, not because atheists are mean and arrogant and close-minded. They won’t suddenly start believing evolution as soon as we start respecting their magic crackers.

    I know that at least Mooney is smart enough to realize all of this, so I’m honestly puzzled by the book reviews I’ve been reading. Are you guys pretending to be wise (http://lesswrong.com/lw/yp/pretending_to_be_wise/)? Because that’s what accomodationists seem to be doing.

    Stop pretending to be above the bickering of us mere mortals, and don’t be afraid to take a side. Or do you really think that the New Atheists are the only ones to blame, and there’s no anti-science bias from the theist side?

  286. ndt

    If he needs to resort to ridicule to get that message across, he must have fairly limited persuasive abilities.

    Why? Ridicule is very effective. Don’t any of you watch Monty Python or the Daily Show?

  287. ndt

    Of course PZ is not above criticism. Nobody is above criticism.

    The only criticism I have of PZ is he doesn’t correct inaccuracies in blog posts fast enough. For example, he had a post saying Simon Singh was “found guilty” of libel, even though the article he linked to was about a pre-trial hearing in the Simon Singh case.

  288. Very good point ndt.

  289. — It was clear that it’s purpose was to get people to look at the harm being done by the church, it was pretty much said so at the time. Heraclides

    PZ’s purpose was to get people to look at the harm being done by the church? And that’s how he thought it was best to do it? Was he alleging the Catholic communion was an act of “harm being done by the church”? Did he think that people would concentrate on the Vatican’s irrational stand on reproductive issues and AIDS prevention as a result of his publicity stunt? Did he think that they would concentrate on the various scandals involving sexual abuse? Or it’s unequal treatment of women? Is that what he thought he was doing? Or was it the entirely predictable over reaction to Webster Cooke’s own stupid stunt? Did he think that his doing that was going to take the heat off of Cooke? Pardon me, if I think it had more to do with garnering attention for himself.

    Since his fans are accusing two authors of the horrible crime of trying to sell their book, I’ve got to ask, did his hits go up during and right after it?

  290. CJO

    Said of Pharyngula:
    Again, the ‘message’ is atheism, not the promotion of science. That’s fine if you think the eradication of religion is the #1 problem facing us today. I simply don’t.

    It’s a false dichotomy. The tyranny of the discontinuous mind is on full, goose-stepping parade here today.

    It’s two false dichotomies in one, really: 1. The ‘message’ cannot encompass both, and 2. the implication is that one would only ever promote atheism, at all, with an iota of energy, if one believed “the eradication of religion is the #1 problem facing us today.”

    Both patently stupid.

    PZite wallpaper, yes, with spit-up stains all over it from the squalling infants.

  291. Brownian

    I’ve read down the thread, it’s like PZite wallpaper, a boring and unvaried pattern that you can’t wait to paint over.

    I’ve counted exactly one PZ fan who seems to think he’s not above criticism, though my eyes have been glazing over every comment or two.

    Thanks for all the content there, Tony. Reading posts like yours, and those of Autonomy_Now and John/Dave Kwok/Scott, I’m really starting to see what engaging and interesting concepts I’m losing out on by being one of the PZ’ites.

    [Scribbling] “notes on ‘science': Anthony McCarthy is bored. Kwok thinks we are Borg. Autonomy_Now doesn’t like PZ.”

    Got it. Anything else of substance we should be jotting down?

  292. M.

    @DS, #279

    “I think you’ve missed my point. “

    I think you’ve actually missed mine. By quite a bit.

    You are right that Sagan reached hundreds of millions, and that Gould reached millions. And I agree that the things would be far, FAR worse without them.

    But the simple fact is, they failed to make progress. They stemmed the tide, but didn’t move the river. This is still a very anti-intellectual society, and the proportion of public that subscribes to young-earth creationism is just the same as it ever was.

    Also, you miss the thrust of my argument. I’m not saying we don’t need Ken Miller. We need him, very much. And we need many more like him. But that won’t be enough.

    In addition to Ken Miller, we also need PZ (as a motivator for atheist/scientific contigent, if nothing else). We need Dawkins to make noise. We need Coyne to cause infuriated, blubbering responses. And we need a broad effort to change the basic cognitive processes at work – the basic beliefs that define the anti-science stance.

    And you miss an even more important point in your last paragraphs. I’m mostly-atheist, but PZ might not call me that. My wife is a theist. I am not arguing that we need to “eliminate religion”. At all.

    If we can achieve a science-friendly religion that does not fight tooth and nail against both scientific facts and social progress, you won’t hear a peep from me. In fact, if PZ attacks such a religion, I’ll be against him. I don’t care if people believe things I don’t think are true, as long as the negative consequences for science (and society) are not too great.

    What I’m saying is very simple: we cannot change the beliefs of antiscientific religious people by communicating facts. Precisely because of the bigger issues: even if you manage to convince (with great effort) a believer to accept evolution, that won’t change them into a science-friendly type who’ll just accept global warming. We have to address the beliefs themselves.

    Again, the strategy is “What you just said isn’t true, and here’s why“.

    There is no “here’s why” answer to a statement such as “I believe in God”, or “I believe in afterlife”. Sure, I don’t believe in them, but I don’t have any positive evidence to dissmiss them beyond reasonable doubt, nor do I feel any need to do so.

    There is a “here’s why” for statements such as “prayer cures”, or “world was created 6000 years ago”, or “global warming is the sign of Jesus’ coming”, or “god hates gays”.

    Mooney and Kirschenbaum want us to not only limit our arsenal to things we know won’t work (except, fine, as stopgap measures), but they want us to treat those who hold these beliefs as reasonable oponents. And over that, they are creating tons of quotable material that can be used in the future to “show” how “even scientists” dismiss those who question faith, and how faith is entirely reasonable, etc. Have you seen how creationists love to quote Gould’s accomodationist prose? This book won’t be used, it will be twisted. That’s pretty much guaranteed to happen.

  293. nick bobick

    Irony: Kwok using the phrase “verbal diarrhea” about other posters.

  294. — Of course PZ is not above criticism. Nobody is above criticism. ndt

    OK, what do you think he’s done that it is fair to criticize. I asked way up in the thread and none of you guys have seemed to be able to think of anything. With one exception I noticed. Though I’d guess a few of you might think he hasn’t offended enough people yet. Give him time, he’s going to have to keep pumping it up to keep his kind of audience. I’d guess this fight is going to do more for his hit numbers and standing in the new atheist blogosphere than it will his critics’ standing. Though their book looks pretty good to me.

  295. windy

    Glen:

    And however much one may dislike RCC discipline, honestly, if you don’t like it, leave.

    The notion that it is wrong for legal voluntary organizations to enforce its own rules is more like an attack on free association than any kind of blow for freedom.

    No, I don’t see how a student voluntarily joined to the church and voluntarily going to a Catholic school who might actually be disciplined by the church/school justifies offending the members of that voluntary organization.

    It wasn’t a Catholic school, it was UCF. And it would have been fine if the church had applied church discipline, but they didn’t, instead the church group and assorted other Catholics wanted the university to do something about it.

  296. Oh, I’m really wounded, Brownian. Really.

    Wounded.

  297. Marion Delgado

    I hope in a few months the underlying issues can be visited without the personalities intruding.

  298. Screechy Monkey

    Lindsay @ 259:
    “he and his writhing hoard”

    Please, it’s “horde.” “Writhing” is accurate, what with all the tentacles and all.

    “should take note of the major point: if you are nice to people, they will like you and what you have to say more.”

    This is overly simplistic.

    It doesn’t matter how much people like you and what you have to say, if what you have to say doesn’t challenge their views in any way.

    Contrary to what Chris and Sheril and many commenters here would have you believe, the New Militant Meany Fundamentalist Atheists don’t advocate walking up to people on their way to church and yelling “you’re a big stupid delusional idiot!” with perhaps some expletives thrown in for good measure. Their advocacy is confined to the public sphere. They write books or op-ed pieces or blog posts, give speeches, etc.

    Unfortunately, challenging people’s views on religion, in any way, and in any forum, seems to get categorized as “not nice” no matter HOW you say it. I’m sure that Chris didn’t worry that much about offending Republicans when he wrote The Republican War on Science. But people are so accustomed to religion being “special” that when you talk about religion the way you would talk about politics or any other subject, you get labelled as rude, uncivil, etc. That is part of what the Angry Militant Atheist Hordes are challenging, because we believe that we can’t have a real conversation about things until we can speak honestly and bluntly about them.

    “We try to work very hard to get people of all different faiths and positions to listen to what we have to say, and it is very frustrating when you can’t reach out because someone else in your field has been rude or insulting to them.”

    This is so patronizing! I may be one of the Mean Nasty Uncivil Atheists, but I apparently have a much higher opinion of theists than you do. I don’t think that most theists are going to refuse to listen to all scientists because one scientist once said something they found offensive, and those few who do refuse to listen on that basis probably weren’t reachable anyway.

    “Don’t take comments too seriously anyway; if I can’t imagine any one of these people having the guts to say it to your face anyway.”

    Why not?

  299. dreikin

    How about the WHOLE quote from Myers’ thread-closer, instead of starting halfway through at the most ‘shocking’ point:

    Man, to all the people who claim that I’ve invested a lot of time and effort in desecrating a cracker: it took a minute. It would have been quicker if I hadn’t had to take a half dozen pictures of my garbage can. As for blogging it all, I blog like I breathe, with little effort. The few posts I’ve written on this subject took maybe 20 minutes each to put together, less for the ones where I just redirect you to a new thread, more for this last one. The biggest time sink by far has been dealing with the obnoxious clot of email in my inbox. It’s strange to see what a skewed perspective some of you get of my life — you see it only through the lens of this blog, and you think your time spent railing against me or praying to Jebus is somehow an investment on my part.

    What effort I put into it was not in response to the reality of your silly deity, but in response to the reality of your dangerous delusions. Those are real, all right, and they need to be belittled and weakened. But don’t confuse the fact that I find you and your church petty, foolish, twisted, and hateful to be a testimonial to the existence of your petty, foolish, twisted, hateful god.

    Now I’m afraid I’m going to have to close this thread. Its purpose has been well served: the fanatical Catholics and their crazy beliefs have been fully exposed. Over 2300 comments on this subject in 20 hours is quite enough.

    Further, here’s the link to that article you cite Dawkins from: click (page two has the quote). I’m sure the NY Times is just ecstatic that you’re using the pull “We provide this quotation, and the accompanying context, in the book.” to get people to buy your book, rather than putting in a link to your actual source. A great example of civility there.

  300. Hey, McCarthy, remember the good old days of a week or so ago when you tried to say epigenetics wasn’t a real science because you confused it with mimetics and also because someone on the internet said it was like Lamarckism? Remember how silly you looked then?

    Or how you said exobiology was a pseudoscience? Then we found out you didn’t actually know what exobiology was! That was fun.

    Or how you demanded one instance of religion corrupting scientific research. Then I showed that research paper that succeeded in sneaking a designer god in past the reviewers and you freaked out about science being a patriarchy or something, moved the goal posts and tried to deny everything! Those were the days, my friend.

  301. Wowbagger

    Silver ‘Have you accepted Yog-Sothoth as your personal saviour?’ Fox wrote:
    What PZ defiled was a Eucharist Host, not a cracker, wafer, biscuit, etc.

    Evidence, please. If there is a difference then surely you’ll be able to describe for us an objective, scientific test to discriminate between a ‘sacred host’ and an ordinary non-sacred cracker that is in every other way identical. Could you tell the difference just by looking?

  302. Miguel

    I’ll bite the bullet about criticizing PZ.

    He’s written about the singularity now and then, and is especially critical of Ray Kurzweil (see here: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/02/singularly_silly_singularity.php). I don’t agree with Kurzweil myself (see my comment at the aforementioned post), but I think that PZ’s comments regarding futurists in general are rather naive (for instance, he is too quick to dismiss nanotechnology).

    Nevertheless, I still learned something from his post (he has a very cogent argument against Kurzweil’s exponential extrapolation/shoehorning). So, even though I disagreed with him and he was quite obnoxious against futurists in general, I try to see it all as another data point – more evidence to integrate. There’s no reason to play the “I’m offended” card and accuse PZ of being intolerant, since he’s not advocating violence or censorship.

    By the way, I also think he was at fault for not updating his blog post to link to the three major singularity schools (it was pointed out to him at least twice). But who cares? PZ is just a man, not an atheist ersatz god.

  303. dreikin

    should take note of the major point: if you are nice to people, they will like you and what you have to say more.

    Be wary of falling into the “nice guy” fallacy. And, because of this particular blog’s decency requirements:
    NSF little kids (but recommended anyway): click.
    Yes, normally a dating thing, but do you really think the attitude, and the response to it, is really just confined to that realm?

  304. Mel

    Wow. Reading through this thread, I cannot help feeling more depressed than I have in a long, long time. I see endless public fights ahead over science education, policy, and all else, with obnoxious, self-righteous fundamentalists who are absolutely certain they and obnoxious, self-righteous New Atheists who are absolutely certain they are right both yelling at the tops of their lungs at each other, endlessly provoking other, endlessly attacking each other, endlessly showing contempt for each other and all moderates of all stripes, most of whom just wish the two groups would either shut up or just go away. I see nothing getting better; indeed the endless provocation just getting worse, and everything suffering for it. This was a hard day, and to look in on this thread and find all this hatred and certainty and lack of historical or human perspective…It really makes me wonder if I want to have doing a lot of science education to be a career goal anymore. The frustrations of the lab are hard enough without the prospect of decades of this.

    I am so glad I will have a few days without a computer, and won’t be tempted to look at this anymore. I’m just done.

  305. Kitty'sBitch

    Well, Unscientific America certainly won’t be gracing my shelves, but Idiot America sounds interesting.
    Purchase.
    I’d love to throw in a comment or two, but frankly, reading through these comments is exhausting. I just haven’t got the energy for an argument at this point.
    Have fun kids.
    Try not to leave many scars.

  306. tomh

    Silvermute wrote:
    @ Kwok: Do you ever answer direct questions on your appalling behaviour and misrepresentations…

    No, he doesn’t, as anyone who still reads his comments well knows. For anyone interested, this Panda’s Thumb thread shows him at his eccentric best, ignoring all evidence and lying for weeks on end. As in other blogs, most of which eventually banned him, he has managed to achieve his goal here, which is to turn the blog into All About Kwok.

  307. Silver Fox

    gillt: 184

    I find it hard to imagine those same people weren’t clued into the news of the death threats before PZ ever came on the scene. Where was the sensible Catholic outrage over the death threats?

    Death threats are a police matter; not a PZ matter.

    PZ “came on the scene” because he hates religion; Catholicism in particular. He’ll take any opportunity to denigrate religious practice or beliefs of any kind. He has found a niche industry; a group of toadies like you who don’t think you can make it on your own without a guru. Unfortunately he’s not a Socrates at whose feet you can learn something worth while; he’s an empty suit unless, of course, you have this insuppressable desire to learn something about zebra fish. If you have any desire to elevate the mind or to transcend the 3.5 billion years of naturalistic muck, you’re crap out of luck.

  308. Damian

    Anthony McCarthy:

    I too disagreed with PZ about the final execution of “Crackergate” (the actual desecration), though I certainly agreed with his overall point. So did tens of other regular posters. I have also disagreed with him about numerous other issues, and so too have many of his regular posters. But so what? Is that not what adults are supposed to do?

    I thought that “The Republican War on Science” was a terrific book, and I’ve agreed with Chris and Sheril hundreds of times about hundreds of issues. I agree with them about some of what they have said about communicating science to the general public. But again, so what?

    Why would I care that you (or anyone else) wish to call people unthinking acolytes, or PZ borgs, or whatever else you wish to call us? I know who I am, and it is the people that I love and care about who concern me, not some random people on the internet.

    This is all rather unimportant in the grand scheme of things, and no single person is going to either change science education and understanding, or destroy it.

    There is one thing that I will do, however, and that is to continue insisting that evidence is forthcoming for any claims — particularly those of supposed fact — about the real world. And I reserve the right to live in an open and free society where nobody gets to tell me, or anyone else, that they don’t belong, or that they should sit down and be quiet.

    Oh, and by the way Mel, that you continue to smear people with the “obnoxious, self-righteous New Atheist” label, simply because you disagree with them, and after being told about it several times, only reflects poorly on yourself. You’re no moderate. The very act of labeling in that way suggests that you are prepared to smear people, any way that you can, simply because they won’t bow to your obvious superior knowledge.

    It won’t work.

  309. Wowbagger

    Silver ‘The Force is strong is this one’ Fox wrote:
    Death threats are a police matter; not a PZ matter.

    Yes, and breaches in church etiquette are a church matter, not a school matter. If the church and its followers involved in the Webster Cooke matter had simply reacted appropriately and within their acceptable sphere of influence (i.e. sent him a letter asking for an apology) rather that call for his expulsion from school (not to mention assault and make death threats) then PZ wouldn’t have done what he did. Heck, he – and everyone else, wouldn’t have even heard about it.

    If you can’t see that one of the main reasons PZ did what he did is because the church overstepped its boundaries, claiming special privilege for itself because on religious grounds, then you’re either stupider or even more willfully ignorant than your frequent clueless, vapid postings indicate.

  310. Wes

    We get it, Chris and Sheril. You don’t like PZ. You don’t have to. Many people don’t. I’m iffy on him. Sometimes I like what he does, other times I think he’s going about things the wrong way.

    But writing a chapter of your book on him? Slamming him in Newsweek? And all over an incident which wouldn’t be on anyone’s radar if Bill Donahue from the Catholic League hadn’t turned it into an issue? Crackergate may have been immature or inappropriate, but it is not at all what you make it out to be. He posted a desecrated cracker on his blog, for cripes’ sake! It’s not THAT big of a deal. And your post today makes it obvious that you are making it a big deal because you have something against PZ, not because it is a major issue that must be addressed.

    That’s low, Chris and Sheril. Very, very low. These are Nisbet tactics: Promote your cause by picking out a scapegoat and constantly (and needlessly) attacking him/her. How could you possibly think that constantly hounding PZ will promote science communication?

  311. Michael the little boot

    Lots of comments so far, and mine so low on the list it probably won’t be read. All good. Just wanted to say something that occurred to me while reading Ryan’s comment @ 3: if all of us stopped thinking of each other as having “corners” (as in “he’s in your corner”), we might sit down and discuss things toward the end of understanding. We don’t all agree, but we all have a vested interest in finding common ground. Doesn’t mean we can’t point out inanities when we see them. In fact, hearing criticism usually makes one stronger, especially if it’s correct and one can change as a result.

    And I don’t mean accommodationism here. I mean understanding. Once you understand the views of others, only then can you determine whether said views come from a rational position.

    Also, Richard @ 8 (along with Matt Penfold @ 11) has an excellent point: Myers didn’t do what he did to the cracker just to be mean and nasty. He wouldn’t even have done it had the Catholic Church not come down inordinately hard on the kid who left the church building with the communion wafer.

    Seems turnabout isn’t fair play to the two of you.

    It’s equally funny to me you left out the context (I’m not the first to suggest it), while accusing the readers from Myers’ blog of the same (you know, since they dared to criticize something they hadn’t read…even though you don’t know whether they read it or not…). Thanks for this. Entertaining day after day.

  312. Silver Fox

    WOW: 301

    “Evidence, please. If there is a difference then surely you’ll be able to describe for us an objective, scientific test to discriminate between a sacred host and an ordinary non-sacred cracker that is in every other way identical. Could you tell the difference just by looking?”

    How strange to see you somewhere other than Pharyngula. You sure the boss doesn’t mind you wandering off the range.

    No scientific test and no difference by looking at it. But you know that already because I’ve explained that to you before, probably several times. You aren’t confused and you don’t have a legitimate question. You only want to spread your very limited knowledge based on materialism and naturalism of the physical world. That’s all there is for you and you would like to hoodwink whatever unfortunate there is out there who might buy into your crapola.

    Tell PZ hello for me when you get back home.

  313. — Hey, McCarthy, remember the good old days of a week or so ago when you tried to say epigenetics wasn’t a real science gillt

    No, because I never said that. Although I said that memes were a myth, that evo-psy’s Just So stories were made up and that exobiology didn’t have a single example of “other life” to compare to its theoretical models.

    What I remember is you lying about things I said, challenging me to show you where you said stuff and me producing what you said and where you said it, that was last weekend, wasn’t it? I also remember asking you question after question to which you knew the answers but you didn’t want to answer those. Then you lying about that too.

    gillt, you are dishonest to the core.

  314. Wowbagger

    Silver ‘Dance to the music of Alma-Lodaka’ Fox wrote:
    No scientific test and no difference by looking at it. But you know that already because I’ve explained that to you before, probably several times.

    Oh, I’m perfectly aware of that – but that’s not the point. Why don’t you refresh my memory and explain it again? I’m sure the nice people who aren’t familiar with your explanation here would love to know how you justify why you believe what you believe.

    Or are you embarrassed to admit it? I know I would be if I were you – but that’s intellectual honesty for you.

  315. —- Why would I care that you (or anyone else) wish to call people unthinking acolytes, or PZ borgs, or whatever else you wish to call us? Damian

    I wouldn’t expect you would care. I don’t think I’ve ever called anyone a ‘borg’ because I’ve never really understood what that meant.

    About “new atheist” , yet again. Go tell the likes of Jerry Coyne and Jason Rosenhouse and, I’m certain, many other new atheists to stop using it before you go lecturing us on using it. I’m not going to insult other atheists who reject the program of the new atheists by associating them with it.

    As I’ve said, if other atheists want to come up with a term to distance themselves from the new atheists, I’ll use that one. Until then, I’m following what I’ve seen new atheists using for a while now.

  316. Wes @307: He posted a desecrated cracker on his blog, for cripes’ sake!

    How did he get that “cracker”? Other than tell his sycophantic followers to go steal some for him. You don’t see anything wrong with that?

  317. DS

    ndt @ 286

    Why? Ridicule is very effective. Don’t any of you watch Monty Python or the Daily Show?

    Right. And the Daily Show and Monty Python are entertainment. Perhaps socially conscious entertainment, but still entertainment. How many times have John Stewart and his staff tried to remind people of this? So I guess you’re saying PZ Myers is just an entertainer? Do you really want to go there with that analogy?

    CJO

    It’s a false dichotomy. The tyranny of the discontinuous mind is on full, goose-stepping parade here today.
    It’s two false dichotomies in one, really: 1. The ‘message’ cannot encompass both, and 2. the implication is that one would only ever promote atheism, at all, with an iota of energy, if one believed “the eradication of religion is the #1 problem facing us today.”
    Both patently stupid.
    PZite wallpaper, yes, with spit-up stains all over it from the squalling infants.

    Wow–is that really what passes for argument with you? I’ve expressed my disagreement with PZ rationally and politely. You respond by comparing me to a Nazi, call me stupid, and compare me to an infant. All without offering any substantive rebuttal or counterargument. So I guess anyone you disagree with is a stupid Nazi infant? Nice. That really does a lot to combat negative stereotypes of Phyrangulites. And you know what’s even more telling? I’ll bet not one single PZ supporter will criticize you or call you on this behavior.

    M @ 292

    Ok, first off I’ll own up to having accused you of missing my point also. But really, I don’t think I’ve missed your point–I just don’t agree with you. I’ve explained why I don’t agree, and I think your response just talks past what I’ve said earlier in several posts.

    I do wish you and others here would stop using that label ‘accommodationist.’ It’s not meaningful in any way, since it is applied so broadly and indiscriminately. Am I an accommodationist? Just because I don’t think PZ Myers is a very effective or helpful voice for science? Using that label is effectively an ad hominem argument. First you brand someone an accommodationist. Then you get to argue that the person is wrong because he’s an accommodationist. That’s pretty lazy in my book.

    Finally, I was making my own arguments about why I think PZ isn’t very helpful. I happen to think Chris and Sheril are worth listening to, but I wasn’t just parroting their position. Your criticism of them doesn’t really address what I was saying about priorities.

  318. All this over a stinking wafer?

  319. Wowbagger

    TomJoe wrote:
    How did he get that “cracker”? Other than tell his sycophantic followers to go steal some for him. You don’t see anything wrong with that?

    Perhaps you should try actually reading the threads on Pharyngula, rather than second-hand (and second rate) summaries. He made it quite clear the crackers he received were sent to him by now ex-Catholics who’d taken them when they were still members of the church. None of them were ‘stolen’ by anyone.

  320. Miguel

    @Silver Fox: Oh, I guess that I’m too stuck at my materialistic worldview. I still fail to see the importance of your magic cracker. It’s just like a regular cracker, except that it’s, like, you know, *magic*.

    “You may think that you’re getting just a cracker, but there’s more to it than meets the eye. For just $1.99 you’ll be eating the _actual flesh of christ_. And if you call *now*, we’ll send you his blood for free, although it’ll look like a bottle of cheap wine.”

    Sorry man, but I’ve got to agree with PZ: nothing is sacred. And I wouldn’t like it any other way…

  321. — He made it quite clear the crackers he received were sent to him by now ex-Catholics who’d taken them when they were still members of the church.

    Is that what PZ claimed? I find it very hard to believe that. I’ll bet it was never consecrated, I’ll bet it was a fake.

  322. Heraclides

    @289: You level at me a lot of things I didn’t write; please only attribute to me/imply is mine what I actually did write. Everything after the first sentence in your response to what you have quoted me, has nothing to do with what I wrote. I did point out that I didn’t agree with all of how it was handled, you surely can’t have missed that. My point was simply to address how Chris & Sheril have “crossing wires” with their comments about the purpose of PZ’s posts on the “Crackergate” thing when they complain “it wasn’t to do with science”. Not all of the posts on sciblogs have anything to do with science per se, probably about a half don’t. Just because it’s on sciblogs doesn’t mean an article “has” to be about science communication. See the Sandwalk blog for another, independent, article that says much the same as what I was trying to point out (I read Sandwalk after I wrote my comment).

  323. —- Everything after the first sentence in your response to what you have quoted me, has nothing to do with what I wrote. Heraclides

    You deny those things weren’t actual examples of harm being done by the church? Here’s how I began, with a quote from you.

    — It was clear that it’s purpose was to get people to look at the harm being done by the church, it was pretty much said so at the time. Heraclides

    PZ’s purpose was to get people to look at the harm being done by the church? And that’s how he thought it was best to do it? Was he alleging the Catholic communion was an act of “harm being done by the church”? Did he think that people would concentrate on the Vatican’s irrational stand on reproductive issues and AIDS prevention as a result of his publicity stunt?….. AM @ 289

    What “harm being done by the church” did you mean PZ’s PR was meant to draw attention to?

    Oh, heck, here’s the rest of it

    — Did he think that they would concentrate on the various scandals involving sexual abuse? Or it’s unequal treatment of women? Is that what he thought he was doing? Or was it the entirely predictable over reaction to Webster Cooke’s own stupid stunt? Did he think that his doing that was going to take the heat off of Cooke? Pardon me, if I think it had more to do with garnering attention for himself.

    Since his fans are accusing two authors of the horrible crime of trying to sell their book, I’ve got to ask, did his hits go up during and right after it? @289

    So. Did PZ’s hit count go up after his attention drawing stunt?

  324. Wowbagger

    Anthony McCarthy wrote:
    Is that what PZ claimed? I find it very hard to believe that. I’ll bet it was never consecrated, I’ll bet it was a fake.

    So…you’ve been criticising his actions regarding the cracker incident without bothering to actually read the relevant posts about it? Interesting.

    But yes, that is what he claimed, and supported that claim with an explanation of where and from whom he received it. Why would you doubt him on that issue, even if you don’t like him or what he does? Are you saying he makes a habit of lying? What is your evidence?

    Catholics on the threads admit taking the cracker home rather than eating it; why is it such a stretch that they may have kept it? Why would you doubt that, once they’ve discarded their useless faith, they would have any problem giving it to PZ?

    Do you think he’d be afraid to use a ‘real, consecrated’ cracker? If so, why?

  325. Jeff

    McCarthy: “I’ll bet it was never consecrated, I’ll bet it was a fake.”

    …and how, exactly, would you be able to tell the difference?

    I honestly don’t know how PZ got the crackers. The point remains… IT’S. A. FRAKKIN’. CRACKER. It’s only “the Holy Eucharist” if you believe in Catholicism. The event illustrates a point very well. Your “ways of knowing”, your magical rites, your god’s dictates… CANNOT be forced on nonbelievers in a free, pluralistic, secular society.

  326. articulett

    No, SF, PZ doesn’t like magical thinking. Religious magical thinking is particularly offensive because it demands respect for it’s own crazy notions while, rightfully, mocking and dismissing other crazy notions. Your straw man may be alive in your head, but believing in things, doesn’t make them true.

    Religions claim truths they have no right to claim while vilifying actual truth tellers who provide evidence for their claims. They imagine themselves humble while arrogantly claiming “special” ways of knowing about invisible and undetectable entities that are indistinguishable from imaginary entities and the demons they do not believe in.

    Religion encourages people to feel good for doing the equivalent of imagining they’ve caught a glimpse of the emperor’s new clothes. It recruits apologists to give the courtier’s reply to maintain the childish bullying delusions they proffer. It manipulates people from birth claiming that “faith” is the key to “happily ever after” and “lack of faith” will seal ones doom. It takes credit for all that is good and causes believers to imagine themselves as more moral than those who believe differently or lack belief– all without evidence!

    You, Mooney, Kirshbaum, etc. are jealous because you think that people should want to be more like you– like your example. But smart people find those you criticize to be much better role models. The faults you find in them, are more evident in yourself. We don’t see you as the examples of reason that you imagine yourself. We see as you as being as wacky and manipulative as chain letters, Amway salesmen, or parents threatening the kiddies with lumps of coal in their stocking.

    PZ comes off as much more honest, humble, funny, eloquent, and RIGHT than his critics from my perspective. There are truly good reasons that the smart folks don’t want to be more like you and your superstition promoting cohorts. There’s a reason that the dregs are accumulating on this apologetic, self-aggrandizing, wishy-washy blog. You really are not as “civil” and “moderate” and efficacious as you imagine yourself to be. You have no evidence to support your pleas that we should all be more like you. From my perspective, the accommodationists are bent at proving the horrible nature of their opponents because it helps them see themselves as better or more civil etc. But your illusion doesn’t translate to this reader. To me, it looks like you guys invent straw men at every opportunity to avoid the simple message of what is actually being said by those you are bent on demonizing. You miss their point again and again while claiming messages they never intended.

    Religion deserves no more respect than any other pseudoscience or superstition. You imagine people are treating it unfairly because you are used to it getting respect it does not deserve. But until the “woo” crowd can show why scientists should treat their brand of magical thinking differently than they, themselves, treat other “woo” then it all sounds like the courtier’s reply. PZ and Dawkins are honest enough to declare the emperor naked. You weenies think that’s impolite. You weenies are free to kiss the ass of the “woo” of your choice for whatever cause you imagine it serves. But I choose PZ and Dawkins as preferable “candles in the dark”. The emperor IS naked… unless, of course, you have evidence to show otherwise. Faith and feeling cannot lead to truth. When you promote the notion that it can you are responsible for the m the messages that people get that they attribute to gods, angels, demons, ghosts, and mystical realms. There is no way to determine a false revelation from a true one, after all– a message from a real deity from a schizophrenic delusion –or “sign” you imagine coming from a 3 pronged waterfall, for that matter. These delusions are no more valid than a hijacker’s parents dream that their child is speaking to them from paradise.

    I suggest the accommodationists work on gathering facts to show that their own methods of science education are effective rather than wasting their time presuming that others’ are hurting the cause. Given the responses and Pharyngula versus The Intersection, I think Pharyngula clearly has a more scientifically literate readership. They certainly are funnier and more coherent. Don’t mistake their passion for the truth as “incivility”– unless, of course, you need to do so to support your own delusions of grandeur.

    You folks are peeved because your “be more like me” approach is causing gales of laughter from folks who would much rather be like themselves and/or those you criticize. Accommodationists come off as dishonest to me. They are asking us to cater to some brands of “woo” in a way that they, themselves, would never cater to conflicting woo, and then attributing all sorts of imaginary harm and vile motives to those who refuse. I think that is hypocritical. And all your bad-mouthing of your opponents (whom I suspect you are secretly jealous of) hardly changes the fact.

    On the other hand, I’m sure the brouhaha actually DOES encourage scientific learning and excitement. Crackergate has drawn in a whole lot of new posters. Sometimes being provocative and/or using satire is a far better tool at generating critical thinking than mealy mouthed pleas to “civility”. In any case, I don’t see the “new atheists” trying to amp up your “watered down” approach to truth, so I think it’s time for you to stop trying to tone us down. We don’t want to be more like you. We see no evidence that your fears are valid or that your approach is useful for understanding the truths that are the same for everybody (no matter what they’ve been indoctrinated to “believe in”).

    The deluded have good reasons for creating straw men, obfuscating, mislabeling their opponents, fearing inquiry, and avoiding pointed questions. Those who tell the truth, do not. I think the accomodationists are as deluded about their strategies as believers in various invisible forms of consciousness are about their ghosties. It’s hard to communicate with those who think they already know everything there is to know on a subject via “inner knowingness”… they could learn something, but they are so sure they already no know more than those who might give them a clue. The accommodationists need to see the “new atheists” as the “bad guys” so they can imagine themselves “moderates” and “peacekeepers” bridging the “non overlapping magisteria” of truth and fantasy.

    The “new atheists” don’t believe in “divine truths” and don’t respect enablers of such delusions.

  327. —- So…you’ve been criticising his actions regarding the cracker incident without bothering to actually read the relevant posts about it? Interesting.

    I read some of what PZ said. And I’ve read lots of what his adoring fans have said. That particular tall tale sounding part of it, I missed.

    I have to say, if that’s what he’s claiming, that Catholics would have taken consecrated hosts home, for who knows what reason, and kept them for an unspecified amount of time before turning apostate and sending them to him, it sounds very unlikely to me. I’ll bet he cut it out of wonder bread and flattened it or something. Does anyone know it wasn’t cardboard or something?

  328. Sven DiMilo

    PZ claimed at the time to have received a number of Holy Wafers. The one he used came with a video of a guy waiting in line for communion and then palming the cracker.

  329. Oh, I forgot this.

    —- Catholics on the threads admit taking the cracker home rather than eating it; why is it such a stretch that they may have kept it? Wowbagger

    I came from a very Catholic family and know a very large number of Catholics. I have never once heard of one of them doing that, not even the ones who left the church and wouldn’t have any reason to not talk about it. I’ll have to ask someone who’s still active in the Church what they’re saying about it these days, but back when I was still a Catholic there were extremely strict rules about how a consecrated host was supposed to be treated.

    I think it’s a fake.

  330. Of course, anyone who believes it was fake are free to do so. Those people, though, would then have nothing to complain about.

  331. Heraclides

    @323 wrote You deny those things weren’t

    Since you clearly want to foist things on me then just repeat yourself I have no interest in “talking” with you. My previous post states my position: there is no need to try twist it.

  332. Wowbagger

    Anthony McCarthy wrote:
    I have to say, if that’s what he’s claiming, that Catholics would have taken consecrated hosts home, for who knows what reason, and kept them for an unspecified amount of time before turning apostate and sending them to him, it sounds very unlikely to me.

    It’s not just what he’s claiming, it’s what ex-Catholics themselves admitted to doing. If you read the threads – admittedly, there are many with literally thousands of comments on each – you’d see that. You’d also see that many Catholics (former and current) also admitted to taking the cracker in exactly the same fashion that Webster Cooke did, and considered it standard practice.

    I’ll bet he cut it out of wonder bread and flattened it or something. Does anyone know it wasn’t cardboard or something?

    He also included pictures. It looks exactly like other pictures of the crackers the priest casts their magic spells over to turn them into Jesus.

    Why do you find it so hard to believe? We’ve established that Catholics take crackers home, we’re aware people give up their faith, we know that giving up faith can sometimes result in an enthusiasm to decry that faith when the opportunity arises, and statistics tell us PZ has a high number of readers.

    Combine these known quantities together and it’s hardly far-fetched that a ex-catholic reader of PZ’s blog had a ‘consecrated’ cracker and sent it in to him.

  333. Stu

    “PZ’s purpose was to get people to look at the harm being done by the church?”

    For crying out loud, he literally said what the purpose was. It’s quoted right in the article.

    “Now I’m afraid I’m going to have to close this thread. Its purpose has been well served: the fanatical Catholics and their crazy beliefs have been fully exposed”

    You are so, so sad.

  334. —- PZ claimed at the time to have received a number of Holy Wafers. The one he used came with a video of a guy waiting in line for communion and then palming the cracker.

    Uh, huh. And was this person still an observant Catholic who just happened to be having a video of himself taken while receiving communion, who then turned apostate and decided to send said video and consecrated host to PZ Myers who later decided to use it in a publicity stunt in the wake of an unrelated host desecration?

    I wish I’d paid more attention to the details because this sounds entirely fishy. So, do Dawkins and Harris and Hitchens also get unsolicited communion hosts sent to them too? And how about anti-Catholic fundamentalists, do they have apostate Catholics surrendering their illicitly held hosts too?

  335. “PZ’s purpose was to get people to look at the harm being done by the church?”

    For crying out loud, he literally said what the purpose was.

    For crying out loud, Stu, I was quoting Heraclides as saying such. Keep up.

  336. One among the Pharyguhorde

    > And if, as our book proposes, we are going to be training young science communicators, they must learn at least two basic lessons they will not be getting from Myers: civility and tolerance.

    There is nothing uncivil about cracker desecration, save it may be poor table manners at a sufficiently formal dinner.

  337. Marc

    The bullying by the Pharyngula brigade here is really a piece of work. They are coming across like the folks from Little Green Footballs. It’s amazingly un-self aware how they behave in the way that I see here and then demand evidence that being vicious is not the most effective way to convince people. Their awful behavior here proves that M&K were correct: Pharyngula is not a science site and is overloaded with fanatics. Anyone contradicting them only encourages them to throw more sarcasm and vitriol on the fire. It’s like a train wreck.

  338. Wowbagger

    Anthony McCarthy wrote:
    I wish I’d paid more attention to the details because this sounds entirely fishy. So, do Dawkins and Harris and Hitchens also get unsolicited communion hosts sent to them too? And how about anti-Catholic fundamentalists, do they have apostate Catholics surrendering their illicitly held hosts too?

    You’d have to ask them. PZ specifically asked for one, and got several – along with the evidence to support his claim that it is genuine. What more would you like him to do?

    I don’t understand why you find this so hard to believe, given that we know that people who give up their religious beliefs may stop taking the trappings of those religious beliefs seriously. Again, if you read the comments on PZ’s posts on the issue you’ll find plenty of ex-Catholics to confirm this.

  339. Has the video been posted anywhere? I want to see it.

    I’m more skeptical the more I think about it. If PZ didn’t pull a hoax, I’ll bet someone pulled one on him.

  340. Stu

    “For crying out loud, Stu, I was quoting Heraclides as saying such. Keep up.”

    Anthony, it’s hard to keep up with whatever alternate reality you’re living in at any given moment in time. One minute you’re banned from Pharyngula, the other minute you’ve participated in many brawls, the other PZ has magically resurrected your posts…

    I’m so sorry… it’s hard!

  341. Wowbagger @319: He made it quite clear the crackers he received were sent to him by now ex-Catholics who’d taken them when they were still members of the church. None of them were ’stolen’ by anyone.

    So PZ said on his blog, “I want some ex-Catholics who have some hosts stored in their houses, to send them to me?” (or something to that effect)?

    No, he asked his sycophants to “score him some”. Right here.

    Can anyone out there score me some consecrated communion wafers? There’s no way I can personally get them — my local churches have stakes prepared for me, I’m sure — but if any of you would be willing to do what it takes to get me some, or even one, and mail it to me, I’ll show you sacrilege, gladly, and with much fanfare.

    Of course, the word “score” is a nebulous, but what do you expect? Just as long as someone, anyone, could “do what it takes” to send some his way.

  342. Wowbagger

    Anthony McCarthy wrote
    I’m more skeptical the more I think about it. If PZ didn’t pull a hoax, I’ll bet someone pulled one on him.

    Why? Why do you think this is such an impossible thing to have happened? All you’ve presented so far are anecdotes and the argument from personal incredulity.

    Has the video been posted anywhere? I want to see it.

    PZ’s comment (it’s currently no. 329) is a link to it on YouTube.

  343. So what many seem to be forgetting about “the great desecration” is that PZ desecrated three things: a communion wafer, the Qur’an ,and The God Delusion. I’m pretty sure he got 0 death threats from Muslims and atheists. So when you say that “his most famous performance [is] Desecrating a communion wafer” you completely missed the point. His most famous performance is that he baited the pathological nuts into revealing just how powerful and dangerous religion can be.

  344. Stu

    “The bullying by the Pharyngula brigade here is really a piece of work.”

    Bullying?
    [Citation needed]

    “They are coming across like the folks from Little Green Footballs.”

    Yeah! Exactly! Except having not a shred of ideology in common and actually having facts to back up what they say!

    Wait, what?

    “It’s amazingly un-self aware how they behave in the way that I see here and then demand evidence that being vicious is not the most effective way to convince people.”

    [Citation needed]

    “Their awful behavior here proves that M&K were correct: Pharyngula is not a science site and is overloaded with fanatics.”

    Yeah! Except for the science posts. Except for the resident theists. Except for vocal, vitriolic theists that are more than welcome to argue their point. Except for the libertarians that are more than welcome to argue their point. But hey, why let reality cloud your judgement, right?

    “Anyone contradicting them only encourages them to throw more sarcasm and vitriol on the fire.”

    What do you expect us to do, with the amount of denial and projection you are such a stellar example of?

    “It’s like a train wreck.”

    Are you all vampires? Did you smash all mirrors in your home?

  345. Lowell

    TomJoe, what is your point? PZ’s explanation of where he got the wafer seems pretty believable to me. Is there some nefarious explanation that you find more plausible?

  346. Dark tent

    “What worries us is what they say about the world of American science as it appears on the Internet. For Myers is, as we all know, the most popular blogger on the most popular science blogging site–and has a horde of loyal followers who see themselves as the disciples of reason, and swear by “science” (when they’re not just swearing).”

    Some bloggers (particularly on Science blogs) seem to have an overinflated view of their own importance, but it means nothing.

    My guess is that only a tiny fraction of the general public even read science related blogs — science blogs or any others.

  347. Miguel

    @Marc: “Their awful behavior here proves that M&K were correct: Pharyngula is not a science site and is overloaded with fanatics.”

    Oh, really? Then I guess that microRNA is not science, then, since I’ve just learned about its importance at Pharyngula (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/07/what_caused_the_cambrian_explo.php).

    You guys are still not addressing the root of the problem. The New Atheists are not causing scientific illiteracy – they’re almost an allergic reaction to it. If faith and “other ways of knowing” weren’t so widespread, if people actually followed reason and evidence, instead of dogma, silly books and magic fairies in the sky, there would be no need for outspoken, vociferous atheists.

  348. I’ll look at the You Tube tomorrow, I’m on dialup tonight.

    So, he did ask his toadies to obtain consecrated hosts for him under false pretenses then. I wish you guys would get your PZology straight.

    —- All you’ve presented so far are anecdotes and the argument from personal incredulity. Wowbanger

    You’re the one who said: He made it quite clear the crackers he received were sent to him by now ex-Catholics who’d taken them when they were still members of the church. None of them were ’stolen’ by anyone.

    Which is what got my suspicions roused. I’ve never heard of an observant Catholic doing that, never once in more than half a century of knowing Catholics, observant, ex and hostile ex. One of you guys stealing one, that I can believe. I’d assume the guy in the video is known by name and is known to have been the same person who sent whatever PZ used in his stunt. Or at least some name is attached to the video.

  349. Wowbagger

    TomJoe,

    I think we – and I do admit to much of the fault being my own – have derailed this thread enough already, so I’m going to stop rehashing what has already been done to death on Pharyngula, and which is there for people to check out for themselves.

    Basically, you – and Anthony McCarthy – will find that everything you’re bringing up has already been asked and answered on The Great Desecration. PZ explains – better than I can – where he got it and why he believes it to be genuine.

  350. Stu

    “The New Atheists are not causing scientific illiteracy – they’re almost an allergic reaction to it.”

    Brilliant. I am SO stealing that.

  351. Wowbagger, you’re the one who made me suspicious with that weird tale of observant Catholics taking hosts home, etc.

    “The New Atheists are not causing scientific illiteracy – they’re almost an allergic reaction to it.”

    The new atheism as a Benadryl stupor, would explain some of it.

  352. Costanza

    So I have never actually tasted one of these babies. I doubt they taste better than Pringles or the new Lays kettle cooked jalapeno-flavored treats.

  353. Stu

    “The new atheism as a Benadryl stupor, would explain some of it.”

    What? Benadryl is an allergic reaction? Could you at least put a token effort into being coherent every now and then?

  354. Wowbagger

    Anthony McCarthy,
    Wowbagger, you’re the one who made me suspicious with that weird tale of observant Catholics taking hosts home, etc.

    Read the posts and judge for yourself. Apart from the fact that you’ve never had anyone admit to you that they did it, why don’t you think it’s true? Think about the reasons. What, precisely, would ex-Catholics have to fear if they no longer believe in divine retribution?

    You can argue that the Catholics involved weren’t 100% ‘observant’ either before, during or after taking the cracker and what they did was in some way wrong – I can’t argue with that – but the issue is whether or not the cracker PZ used was one which had genuinely been ‘consecrated’ as per the Catholic definition.

    Were they bad Catholics? Yes. Were they bad people? Depends on your definition. Was the cracker therefore not consecrated? Not in the slightest.

  355. Silver Fox #307: “… he’s an empty suit unless, of course, you have this insuppressable desire to learn something about zebra fish. If you have any desire to elevate the mind or to transcend the 3.5 billion years of naturalistic muck, you’re crap out of luck.”

    Actually I do research with zebrafish which is how I stumbled across PZ’s blog in the first place. It was on a ZFin listserve. So along with a incomprehension add pretentious to the list of things you excel at today!

    McCarthy, I can’t say I exactly missed the days when you called everyone you disagreed with bigots. You and Kwok have always been the low-hanging fruit around here. But at least you had some pizazz! Now that all your statements begin with the oh-so devastating “I bet,” or “I feel,” or I sense,” it seems you’ve grown lazy. Perhaps you’ve finally run out of things to say?

  356. drsid

    I am curious as to why the authors sent their book to Dr. Meyers for review given that they criticized him in the work? Was the purpose to create this “conflict,” and increase exposure for the book?

    Seems like a pretty good marketing/publicity stunt, especially given Ms. Kirshenbaum’s background in “social marketing” in the radio industry. You want publicity for a science book? Who better to get riled up than the “Rush Limbaugh” of internet scientists. If I was a complete cynic, I would suspect Dr. Meyers was in on it.

  357. Hahahah. 33 Thinks that “He Who Must Not Me Mentioned”‘s comment threads are all flamewars.
    You ever been on IRC or USENET? Or for that matter **any** public message boards? You’re kidding right? Lemme tell ya somethin': the stuff on PZ’s blog is TAME. It’s like a sparkler fight next to the fire department.
    Most of the people posting on PZ’s blog give fairly well reasoned responses, even to the many people who wander in simply to troll. <> kwok <>

    I haven’t read your book, I freely admit. At this point I don’t think I’m going to. I might have been interested to a week ago, but there’s been so much junior-high poo-slinging on both sides that I really don’t think there could be anything useful said, especially given that a chapter is purportedly devoted to whining and pettiness.

  358. Sven DiMilo

    Metal-band name: Koncekrated Kracker

  359. jope

    Sigh. This whole protracted comment thread makes me sad.

    The handful of overzealous PZ supporters here, whose handles I see repeated over and over and over again, seem to fancy themselves the Basij of the New Atheist movement.

  360. Heraclides

    @360: jope, several of the more vocal “overzealous PZ supporters here” are in fact people banned from PZ’s blog. I hope Chris and Sheril have the decency to acknowledge this, some there comments refer to comments here without making this clear.

  361. TTT

    Myers’ critique of “Unscientific America” mentioned that he himself had been attacked in it, but then changed the subject to refuting the book’s overall points. Mooney’s response was to basically say “nuh uh!” as quickly as possible about the book itself, then veer the conversation back towards attacking Myers at every opportunity.

    It is sad to see a self-professed “communicator” demonstrate such an unserious approach to communicating ideas. Even a halfway decent communicator can sidestep a clash of egos and focus on the issues instead. Sadly, Mooney appears more comfortable building up ego clashes and irritatingly maudlin Palin-esque rhetoric of self-martyrdom.

  362. Heraclides

    Opps, that’ll be read out of context. What I meant was that be aware that some of more vocal posters aren’t representative of PZ’s lot, but the fringe that people over there put up with.

  363. passingby

    “For too long, people in the science blogosphere have tiptoed around Myers. After all, he can send a lot of angry commenters your way. And he, and they, are unrelenting in their criticisms, their attacks, and so on. Just read our threads over the last week–it’s all there, the vast majority from people who have not read our book and do not seem inclined to do so.”

    compare to:
    “Prehistoric boneheads be forewarned: We occasionally exhibit a pack mentality and some bloggers bite, so venture down that road at your own risk…”
    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/intersection/2009/03/25/singled-out/

  364. Wowbagger

    jope,

    You use this word, ‘overzealous’. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  365. John Kwok

    @ Peter Beattie –

    Best example I know of where I had to change my mind is when a fellow graduate student had compiled overwhelming evidence proving that the K/T mass extinction was caused by an asteroid impact off the coast of Yucatan, Mexico. Now that’s science, not the nonsensical rhetorical back and forth between “accomodationists” and militant atheist Borg drones here (Not including yourself, but I think you ought to tone down your rhetoric over at Coyne’s blog. You sound a lot better when you try to be more reasonable.).

  366. John Kwok

    @ Silvermute –

    Shoouldn’t your moniker be Wintermute? You certainly act like that character in “Neuromancer”. Won’t bother commenting on the rest of your inanity.

  367. Silver Fox

    WOW 314

    “Oh, I’m perfectly aware of that – but that’s not the point. Why don’t you refresh my memory and explain it again? I’m sure the nice people who aren’t familiar with your explanation here would love to know how you justify why you believe what you believe.”

    Typical member of the rat pack: “I’m perfectly aware of that” and “Why don’t you refresh my memory” Of course if you’re perfectly aware of it, you don’t need your memory refreshed. So typical.

    But I’ll pretend that you’re honest. There are two categories of knowledge. Two ways of knowing – two epistemological methodologies. There is scientific knowledge derived from forming hypotheses, experimenting, testing and drawing conclusions. It provides ontological knowledge of the physical world. Then there is a realm of metaphysical knowledge. It is not knowledge of physical proofs but probabilistic knowledge of evidence that remains largely subjective epistemic knowledge. In part it is a knowledge born of faith which allows the mind to transcend the materialistic, naturalistic realm of knowledge. Its a knowledge known to the knower but does not easily lend itself to second party confirmation. For example, you could not know what it is like to be me. This is the case with most contrast arguments. Suppose you were to say “this is a counterfeit coin”. It could not be unless these was a legitimate coin issued by some agency with legal authority to issue legal coins; supposed you said “he is skating on thin ice”. Well the only way that could be was if there was in fact thick ice. Knowledge as a contrast argument would hold that if there was knowledge of a material world; philosophically, you could not hold that unless there was knowledge of an immaterial world. It represents a dualism with necessary conjunctions that are essentially inseparable.

    If you want a primer on contrast arguments try B.A. Farrell.

  368. Karl Childers

    I haven’t read this comment stream yet, but I hope at least one person has pointed out that PZ–with whom I generally agree–has committed a pointless and crass act by posting an “Open thread for general revilement” of Chris and Sheril. Here, he says he can’t get to Part III of their criticisms until later. I hope that everyone raking C & S over the coals for making “placeholder” posts promising future items of substance are equally up in arms about PZ’s post, and at least C & S haven’t encouraged the equivalent of a pack of rabid dogs to go on a tearing or maiming spree. PZ should have just criticize the book and leave it at that; his commenters do a fine job of handling the aggressive stuff, an interesting state of affairs given that few if any seem to have actually read “Unscientific America”.

  369. Wes

    364. passingby Says:
    July 15th, 2009 at 11:26 pm

    “For too long, people in the science blogosphere have tiptoed around Myers. After all, he can send a lot of angry commenters your way. And he, and they, are unrelenting in their criticisms, their attacks, and so on. Just read our threads over the last week–it’s all there, the vast majority from people who have not read our book and do not seem inclined to do so.”

    compare to:
    “Prehistoric boneheads be forewarned: We occasionally exhibit a pack mentality and some bloggers bite, so venture down that road at your own risk…”
    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/intersection/2009/03/25/singled-out/

    But ComradePhysioprof, DrugMonkey and Dr. Isis were saying things that Mooney and Kirshenbaum agree with. It’s okay to be strident, forceful, and use foul language if you use it to SUPPORT Mooneybaum. Just look at John Kwok. It’s when you’re strident or rude and fail to agree with them that civility becomes THE central issue.

  370. Silver Fox

    articulett:

    “There’s a reason that the dregs are accumulating on this apologetic, self-aggrandizing, wishy-washy blog.”

    There sure is. The rat pack has heard the master’s voice and have dutifully shagged over. What a tiresome bunch of toadies.

  371. Stu

    Phew, and here I was fearing I would have to give an example of the vapid blathering that got SF banned from Pharyngula.

    Oh, by the way, jope: do you have an actual argument?

  372. anaxagoras

    wheat flour + water + nail
    I see no problem here.
    The fact that there are many people who get all up in arms over this — indeed even to the extent of issuing threats! — is illustrative of the problem being confronted by many who have rejected wishful, magical thinking. By calling it desecration, and judging it appalling and devastating, you demonstrate that you are part of the problem.

  373. Silver Fox

    Stu: 369

    Hi Stu. How have you been. Tell PZ hello for me when you get back home.

  374. Lowell

    And, I hate to repeat myself, but my point at #14 in this thread still stands: Mooney and Kirshenbaum have not, as far as I can tell, addressed the criticism that their book misrepresents “new atheists” as arguing that “scientific norms and practices . . . entirely preclude God’s existence.”

    That’s a creationist talking point, and it’s not true. Dawkins doesn’t say it, and neither does anybody else, as far as I can tell. Dawkins says he’s a 6 out of 7 on the atheism scale, meaning that here’s no good reason to believe in Yahweh or any other god, and he lives his life under the assumption that no such being exists. He’d be willing to reconsider if there were some evidence available.

    Are Mooney and Kirshenbaum ever going to respond to that? Do they care about journalistic integrity at all?

  375. Silver Fox

    Lowell 236

    “PZ’s explanation of where he got the wafer seems pretty believable to me.”

    PZ could tell you he saw a rooster with titties and it would seem pretty believable to you.

  376. anaxagoras

    SF:
    “…a knowledge born of faith…”? You mean saying that something must be true because you believe it? And you think this category of “knowledge” is on par with the knowledge gained by reproducible hypothesis formation, experimentation, and observation?

  377. Silver Fox

    WOW 350

    “have derailed this thread enough already, so I’m going to stop rehashing what has already been done to death on Pharyngula”

    Why don’t you do that WOW. You can go back over to Pharyngula. PZ may need you to crash a poll. That seems to be a favorite activity there.

  378. Lowell

    Well, Silver Fox (I’m not using post numbers because the moderation here makes that useless), how do you think PZ got the bleedin’ wafer? Do you think he broke into a church in the dead of night or something? Did he take the form of a bat in order to do so?

  379. Wowbagger

    Stu wrote:
    Phew, and here I was fearing I would have to give an example of the vapid blathering that got SF banned from Pharyngula.

    I thought it’d be best if the posters here knew exactly what sort of woo-soaked delusional they had cheering for their side. Then I realised it’d be much easier to convince him to drool his rantings over here rather than go to the effort of cutting and pasting myself – plus, this way I avoid him attempting to distract attention from it by claiming I misrepresented him somehow.

    Say, Silver Fox, since you’re feeling explanatory, perhaps you can answer the question you’ve dodged every time I’ve asked if you in the past?

    Namely, if there is this ‘category of knowledge’ where things can be known without any need for evidence or verification, how does one distinguish between two mutually exclusive and contradictory ideas with any certainty?

  380. Stu

    “The rat pack has heard the master’s voice and have dutifully shagged over. What a tiresome bunch of toadies”

    Your wit is piercing and awesome. Must be that other way of knowing that we’re all shutting ourselves off from, right?

    “PZ–with whom I generally agree–has committed a pointless and crass act by posting an “Open thread for general revilement” of Chris and Sheril. Here, he says he can’t get to Part III of their criticisms until later.”

    Phah! For shame! It’s not like M&K took three full days to work up to this current pathetic excuse for a refutation, is it?

    Actually, as for his general sentiment towards this post, he’s provided a link to my comment (as his Official SycophantTM). As par for this blog, you’re more than welcome to take that particular comment as representative of PZ and all of his commenters. Not that it is in any way, shape or form, of course, but it seems de rigeur around here. Enjoy.

    Haroo! Haroo!

  381. Wowbagger

    Silver ‘Bacchus bless my flagon’ Fox wrote:
    PZ could tell you he saw a rooster with titties and it would seem pretty believable to you.

    But, Silver Fox, you’ve just gone to great lengths to explain to us that there is a way of knowing that does not require evidence to support it.

    Why can’t Lowell’s claim to know that PZ had a proper cracker with the requisite magic spell/voodoo dance performed to make it ‘consecrated’ be this kind of ‘knowing’? How can you doubt him and retain your position on such ‘knowledge’?

  382. anaxagoras

    Silver Fox:
    Also re: “…a knowledge born of faith…” (#368):
    If this “knowledge” does not require evidence and we can’t expect it to be verifiable, then how can anyone tell whether another person indeed is the holder of genuine “knowledge” vs. having delusions or other flights of fancy? In other words, if “knowledge” can be so subjective, why should anyone else have to believe it?

  383. Lowell

    Oh, Anaxagoras, if horses had locks hanging from their ears, would it help you remember certain dates? (Totally inside, by the way.)

  384. Andy C

    “Sheril is Jewish an agnostic”

    I’d like to know how you’re defining ‘agnostic’ in this case, because the definition I’m used to involves the existence of nature and god being not only unknown, but unknowable, hardly consistent with a belief system that makes specific claims about the nature and existence of god.

  385. V.O.R.

    Seems to me that PZM & Co. are treating M&K pretty much like M&K accuse PZM & Co. of treating the religious and/or anti-rationalist.

    Have M&K been persuaded that their book is useless yet? Are they now more sympathetic to PZM’s views?

    Though, on second though, PZM has yet to “desecrate” a copy of the book, right? So maybe it’s a threshold thing and he’ll have to think up stronger insults – really offensive stuff! – before they’ll come around.

  386. Silvermute

    @ Kwok #367

    Ironically, you fail to answer the question “Do you ever answer direct questions…”, but rather choose to compare me to an AI character in a book in the hope that I will retire from the fray, sorely wounded by your rapier wit.

    This is, I believe, known as “epic fail” amongst the cognoscenti of internet drama.

    However, should you ever choose to respond to a question with an answer based upon, you know, facts… oh, never mind…

  387. tomh

    Karl Childers wrote: …the equivalent of a pack of rabid dogs to go on a tearing or maiming spree.

    Geez, rabid dogs? You do realize that it’s just opinions posted on the Internet, don’t you?

  388. JoshS

    Karl Childers wrote: …the equivalent of a pack of rabid dogs to go on a tearing or maiming spree.

    Geez, rabid dogs? You do realize that it’s just opinions posted on the Internet, don’t you?

    No, it’s not! It’s vicious bodily harm! Ouch, Mommy, ouch! Please make the Bad Man stop hurting me? Mommy, it hurts. He said I was vapid! Ouch! Mommy, please help me?

  389. JoshS

    Karl Childers wrote: …the equivalent of a pack of rabid dogs to go on a tearing or maiming spree.

    Geez, rabid dogs? You do realize that it’s just opinions posted on the Internet, don’t you?

    Oh, and Mommy? Those bad, mean people hurt me. They made me feel bad about my religion! Make them show you on the doll Mommy?

  390. Karl Childers

    Yes, Tom and Josh, I realize that full well. My mention of rabid dogs was an analogy, not an assertion that blog comments can inflict bodily harm. I guess I’m being unreasonable in expecting the harpies here to understand as much.

    And Josh, you would be greatly enhancing your intellectual profile by not jumping to false conclusions. I am about as religious as tree bark, and nothing I wrote even remotely implied that I was coming from a theistic position in remarking on the questionable tactic PZ deployed in starting a thread solely intended to provide a forum for jumping all over Chris and Sheril–as if there’s not enough of this going on already. And your disturbing and repeated references to “Mommy” reveal much more about you than they do about anything else.

    Of course, as noisy as the PZ-Intesection battle has become, no such war would be complete without the miserable cretin ERV insinuating herself into the proceedings for the sole purpose of vulgar self-aggrandizement. She’s one of those bloggers who would rather be reviled by some than ignored by most, and it shows in her every misguided remark, e.g., “Chris can go f*** himself.” This, over a book she hasn’t shown evidence of reading. Classy, that one. Science Blogs should be proud to have her along with a cavalcade of irrelevant pundits and egomaniacs like Orac.

  391. Peter Beattie

    @ John Kwok:

    I’m not quite sure if that meant that you agree. If you do, can I submit that we have yet to see Chris and Sheril indicate that they would change their mind (e.g. about Philosophically Savvy Atheists’ rhetoric hurting the cause) under specifiable conditions?

    As to the toning down of statements over at Jerry Coyne’s blog: I write exactly the same stuff here. I have said here that C&S use kindergarten logic, that some of what they’re saying is crazy-talk, that their response to PZ is mostly idiotic, and that they are displaying a fair amount of philosophical illiteracy.

    Those comments are accompanied in each case by substantial evidence to support them, as well as to enable others to come to their own conclusions. Seeing as there is actual evidence to support them, I think they are on rather firmer ground than C&S’s claims. And unless and until there be evidence to the contrary, I shall consider them fairly accurate descriptions of C&S’s behaviour.

  392. Feynmaniac

    Kwok,

    I said more than once I was joking

    Translation: I emailed several people at a university faculty and attempted to blackmail PZ into buying me an expensive camera. People howled with laughter so clearly I’m it’s a joke. And if I say it enough times it will eventually be true.

    Anthony “Joe” McCarthy,

    I’ll look at the You Tube tomorrow, I’m on dialup tonight.

    Translation: What?! A video of a person in church taking the wafer? The sidebar clearing stating that he then sent that cracker to PZ? Where?…..
    ***puts in ears fingers****
    la la la …..I cant’ hear you…..la la la ……the cracker was fake…..la la la ….I’m banned from Pharyngula…..la la la …..

    * Tips to Owlmirror

  393. The frenzied denial of my skepticism over the authenticity of PZ’s greatest claim to fame, his great publicity stunt, is hilarious.

    Would you lose your childlike faith in PZ if his stunt turned out to be a staged hoax? If the host was only a prop? Does the great and wondrous act of PZ lose its significance, does it lose its strength if the host hadn’t been consecrated or turned out to have been a fake made of Wonder Bread?

    What an irony, the reputation of PZ the great rests on the status of a piece of bread having been consecrated. So, you see, it matters to you if it had been consecrated, after all. How funny.

    By the way, I did an experiment. I tried making a phony host out of a piece of bread. It was homemade so it flattened with a bit of difficulty but it was quite possible. It’s the easiest thing you could imagine to press a design into one and dry it out. I used the cross from my old rosary beads. Snapped fairly convincingly when I tried it. My guess is that using white bunny bread from the store would be even more successful in making a phony prop host. I’m fairly sure you could get the raw materials to phony up this thing in any supermarket.

    PZ’s reputation rests on an act that you wouldn’t even need The Amazing Randi to replicate.

    If that story about observant Catholics keeping hosts that they sent to the PZ after turning apostate was ever part of the fable, I think it’s a total fake staged by PZ to get attention for himself. Which was the intent of the thing, phony or not.

    The chance that he could have set off demonstrations somewhere in the Islamic world with his desecration of the Quran, the kind of thing he’d mentioned a couple of years earlier, was undeniably irresponsible and hypocritical of PZ, who said this in 2006:

    “Feeding bigotry and flaunting racist stereotypes would be something that would drive me to protest any newspaper that endorsed it—of course, my protests would involve writing letters and canceling subscriptions, not rioting and burning down buildings. There is a genuine social concern here, I think. Muslims represent a poor and oppressed underclass, and those cartoons represent a ruling establishment intentionally taunting them and basically flipping them off. They have cause to be furious!”

    Apparently PZ was willing to risk people getting hurt or killed over that feature of his PR act
    didn’t keep him from doing it. He’s irresponsible and juvenile.

    — McCarthy, I can’t say I exactly missed the days when you called everyone you disagreed with bigots. gillt

    Gillt, the several times I’ve bothered to go back and dig out the evidence I’ve been able to show with your own words that you had said what you later denied. I know that won’t impress new atheists but I don’t really care which bigoted lies they replace for reality anyway. Other than as subjects to experiment on to see how they’ll react, I don’t care what they think they think about me.

  394. — Anthony “Joe” McCarthy Feynmaniac

    Oh, how clever, you’ve seen a bit of history on TV. I’m sure that makes you an expert in the subject among the PZites.

    It really would bother you to find out that PZ had staged the stunt, wouldn’t it. I’m going to look into what he claimed at the time. If that story Wowbagger told was part of it, it was a staged hoax. I wouldn’t believe it unless I had the guy’s name and saw him in person to make sure it was him in the video, not if he was allegedly an observant Catholic at the time the video was taken.

    If he stole it for his hero, PZ, at his request, I’d believe that, as I already said. And I do think what he asked people to do amounted to theft, considering they’d never have been given it if the priest or eucharistic minister knew it wasn’t going to be eaten.

  395. MartinB

    What the heck would it matter if PZ Myers did not “desecrate” a “real” (transsubstantiated?) cracker? The important point about the whole stunt was provoking the reactions it did. People *are* willing to make death threats if someone “desecrates” objects they consider holy, and it was nicely shown that this was done by catholics, but neither by Muslims nor atheists.

  396. Wowbagger

    Anthony McCarthy, do you realise that you are effectively undermining the entire argument Chris and Sheril are making by using the cracker incident as an illustration of how provocative PZ is? Because if it wasn’t a consecrated wafer, then couldn’t have been desecration, could it? You can’t desecrate something that hasn’t been made sacred, can you?

    Because if you’re right then all of the fuss was that ensued was for nothing, and everyone who made any sort of complaint about what he did had absolutely no grounds to do so.

  397. I just got done talking to one of my relatives who has been a Eucharistic minister in her Roman Catholic parish for about twenty years. First, she’d never heard of PZ Myers or his famous stunt, so tough luck. She didn’t seem to be as distraught about it as you guys would have hoped either.

    When I told her what you are alleging the first thing she said was that a host wouldn’t stand up to what was allegedly done with this one. She pointed out they’re made to dissolve in your mouth in a matter of seconds. That was the first point she was skeptical about.

    She said that the size of what PZ had used would be important because the nickle sized hosts that are distributed are a lot different than the large one the priest uses in the consecration and those are never distributed. As pointed out, it’s supposed to be eaten in a few seconds. She imagined they’d be made with the idea that a lot of Catholics think chewing the host is a sin. I reminded her of once in my youth when the priest broke one of the large ones into small pieces because he knew they were running short on hosts that week, she pointed out that it would have been a little piece in that case.

    She said that she’s never distributed a small host with a design embossed into it but that she thought there were some sources with those. She agreed that a print out of a jpeg of one would look almost as real as a real one at the size of the small hosts that are distributed. She agreed that it would be fairly easy to fake one even without resorting to pressing the back of a crucifix on Wonder Bread.

    The story about observant Catholics taking home hosts to keep them sounded totally phony to her too. She’d never heard of one doing that even without malicious intent and she’s been at this a long time. Just about any Catholic who made their first communion would have been taught it was a serious act of desecration to do that, even in today’s lax atmosphere. Eating the host and drinking the wine are the point of receiving communion. She agreed that someone taking it without the intention of eating it would be theft because it would never be given to someone who didn’t intend to eat it.

    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and as I understand it, PZ disposed of any evidence in this matter. How unscientific. The tale of PZ’s Great Desecration is seeming rather dubious. It wouldn’t stand up under the rules of proof that the “skeptics” regularly subject weeping statues and other things to. Now jump, jump.

  398. — Anthony McCarthy, do you realise that you are effectively undermining the entire argument Chris and Sheril are making by using the cracker incident as an illustration of how provocative PZ is? Wowbagger

    No, PZ intended to offend and he did offend, I’m just questioning if the incident was the Great Desecration that he asserts it was. His intention to offend and his offensiveness are about the only parts of it that are entirely verifiable.

    I concentrated on the Quran in the beginning because as documented in PZ’s own words he was aware of the possibility of people getting killed as a result of that desecration, which I have no doubts he actually did and publicized. I don’t know of anything more irresponsible than a publicity stunt that you have every reason to expect could end up with dead people at the end of it. For him to claim it had something to do with Webster Cook’s life being threatened loses all credibility when you take that into consideration.

    It doesn’t matter if the host was phonied up or real to see what PZ claims to have done was seriously irresponsible and hypocritical.

    You can analyze things in different ways, that’s how I look at it.

  399. Rorschach

    Mr McCarthy,

    you might want to just quickly go over what you wrote there LOL,because it kinda undermines S&C’s argument a wee bit…Some might say,it rather torpedoes/sinks/kills it..:-)
    The whole,”couldnt have possibly have been a real cracker” bit,you know…:-)

    Would seem to me this place has seen way too much attention from real,educated,sincere commenters already.Kinda wasted it would seem.
    Few roos short in the top paddock,the non-Pharyngula commenters here.
    Will this get moderated? LOL

  400. Why do you always set yourself up for FAIL, McCarthy? I was raised Roman Catholic and now have to clear up a few things for you and your likely fabricated Eucharistic Minister.

    “She pointed out they’re made to dissolve in your mouth in a matter of seconds. ”

    Have you ever eaten one? They take forever, and often stick to the roof of your mouth for the duration of Mass. A host is unleavened bread. Does a saltine cracker dissolve in your mouth instantly?

    “She said that the size of what PZ had used would be important because the nickle sized hosts…”

    Nope. Bigger than nickels. More like silver dollars.

    You don’t seem to understand the difference between a cross and a crucifix.

    “She imagined they’d be made with the idea that a lot of Catholics think chewing the host is a sin.”

    She or you imagined it all right.

    Think about it. Nuns don’t make them a certain way because some Catholics think chewing them is a sin. That doesn’t even make sense.

    All the hosts I’ve seen have a cross pressed into the middle of it.

    Theft? Don’t you mean sin? The host is given in good faith to the parishioner, which is why it would be awfully hard to prosecute someone putting a host in their pocket and leaving church. What is illegal is another parishioner attacking someone for attempting to do so, as was the case with crackergate.

    Extraordinary blathering requires easy debunking.

  401. MartinB

    Anthony McCarthy,
    you keep going to great lengths trying to prove that it is almost impossible to get a real host for desecration in the manner PZ Myers did. (BTW, the argument “I know someone who is knowledgeable and she never heard about this kind of thing” seems a bit weak to me.)
    Historically, host desecration was a crime that Jews were blamed of very often, so if it was so easy back then, why not now?
    Besides, as said above, what the heck does it matter?

  402. She didn’t seem to be as distraught about it as you guys would have hoped either.

    Guess that means that PZ’s action didn’t negatively affect people’s perception much then. Thanks, you just showed why Mooney’s attack on PZ was uncalled for.

  403. Wowbagger

    First, she’d never heard of PZ Myers or his famous stunt, so tough luck. She didn’t seem to be as distraught about it as you guys would have hoped either.

    Once again you demonstrate how much you’ve missed the point of what PZ set out to achieve. He didn’t need every single Catholic on the planet to respond to what he did; the thousands who ranted and raved and frothed and spluttered and pleaded; the small (though still significant) number who made death threats and posted analogies about how threatening a baked good was like burning down synagogues or having their children murdered were enough to illustrate just what whackjobs religious believers can be.

    But I’m fascinated that you haven’t managed to work out that, if PZ just threw a plain old cracker into his trash, it makes his point for him regarding the unreasonable reaction of the religious even more significant. Not to mention undermining the claims our hosts and those on their side of the divide on the issue are making regarding PZ.

    So, I’ll ask you again, if PZ didn’t obtain a genuinely consecrated cracker, what were all the complaints about? You can’t desecrate something that’s not sacred. And if he didn’t desecrate anything, no-one can honestly have a problem with it, can they?

    Now, are you sure you want to doubt him on this, Anthony?

  404. Jebus

    “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and as I understand it” And the evidence against evidence here is the testimony of a single minister? Scientific indeed.

  405. People are still more important than crackers.

  406. I’m enjoying the flea circus act, keep it up.

    Medievalist Jon Says:
    July 16th, 2009 at 8:10 am People are still more important than crackers.

    But clearly not as important as PZ’s publicity stunt is to him, as his Quran desecration proves.

    I’m going to have to copy the photos and compare the size and appearance of the “host” with what I can find out from that. But I’m going to take my time about it. As to what my relative said, I’ll let any Catholics who have received communion judge whether or not it makes sense.

    As I recall the ‘skeptics’ code says that it’s the responsibility of those making the extraordinary claims to back it up. I don’t think anyone with a bit of thought would believe a nickle sized piece of bread, about as thick as a piece of construction paper would stand up to what PZ claims to have done with one.

  407. Rorschach, are you my, apparently former, comrade in socialism, or are you another Rorschach?

    I’m still a socialist, a leveler, etc. Only I’m interested in real life as opposed to make believe. I don’t think the new atheism is a bulwark progress, I think it’s a self-involved continuation of adolescent cliques which can only be counterproductive.

    Catholic Worker has done more to further radical justice than anything the play left has done. I say that as a former Catholic who has been very critical of the Catholic hierarchy and even Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, while admiring much of what they did. I don’t consider them as sacrosanct in the way the PZites do their great hero.

  408. Wowbagger and Lowell are either being obtuse or lack any reading comprehension skills. I provided a quote DIRECTLY from PZ’s blog where he asked people to do essentially whatever it took, to score him a host. When I read that, I take that to mean if someone had to lie, steal, disrupt Catholic services or cheat to get a host, he would have been just fine with that. It ultimately doesn’t matter where he got the host, what matters is that he implicitly condoned bad behavior by issuing a blanket request asking people to do whatever was necessary.

    To him it didn’t matter whose life was potentially disrupted. The idiots who served him could have made a mess out of a Mass from the most liberal, Darwin-loving Catholic parish in the country to get that host and he would have been just fine with it. And that is what is the problem with militancy. Militants don’t care who gets hurt. You’ve drawn the line and if you don’t think they’re for you (typically without ever asking them), they’re definitely not with you and anything is fair game … innocent bystanders be damned.

  409. Knockgoats

    “But we’re not afraid of Myers or his commenters.” Mooney and Kirshenbaum

    Well, your matchless courage must surely leave all unbiased observers swooning in admiration.

  410. Knockgoats

    “I don’t consider them as sacrosanct in the way the PZites do their great hero.” – Anthony McCarthy

    You’re either a liar, or you never read Pharyngula. I, as a regular commenter there, have criticised PZ’s ignorance of European politics, and specifically his willingness to associate with racists like Geert Wilders and Pat Conlin; and his indulgent attitude towards the Maoist “Revolutionary Communist Party”. Most other regular commenters will have expressed serious disagreements with him at some point.

  411. Knockgoats

    “A lot of what you said about Myers was hit or miss. But “Crackergate” was just an intolerant attack upon civil society itself.” – Glen Davidson

    I don’t in the least agree with Glen here, but as he is a frequent and long-time Pharyngula commenter, and has expressed similar views there, his comment is another nail through the lie that the Pharyngula readership consists of PZ Myers’ “acolytes”, “followers” or whatever.

  412. Feynmaniac

    Anthony “Joe” McCarthy,

    By the way, I did an experiment. I tried making a phony host out of a piece of bread. It was homemade so it flattened with a bit of difficulty but it was quite possible. It’s the easiest thing you could imagine to press a design into one and dry it out. I used the cross from my old rosary beads.

    Translation: Like at me, I’m so sciency! With my great mind I managed to prove that one piece of bread can be made to look like another piece of bread !1!one!
    Stay tuned for upcoming peer review article on the subject.

    I wouldn’t believe it unless I had the guy’s name and saw him in person to make sure it was him in the video, not if he was allegedly an observant Catholic at the time the video was taken.

    Translation: I use radical skepticism at my opponents’ claims, but for my own me repeating it over and over is good enough (see my claim of being banned from Pharyngula). This double standard does not bother me whatsoever.

    I just got done talking to one of my relatives who has been a Eucharistic minister in her Roman Catholic parish for about twenty years. First, she’d never heard of PZ Myers or his famous stunt, so tough luck. She didn’t seem to be as distraught about it as you guys would have hoped either.

    Translation: Hey, Chris and Sheril, do you see me undermining your entire thesis by showing that not only have the religious not heard of Myers but that they really don’t care what he did!

    No, PZ intended to offend and he did offend, I’m just questioning if the incident was the Great Desecration that he asserts it was

    Translation: Like another McCarthy I have no regard whatsoever for the truth. I just like trying to defame my opponents by repeating dumb claims over and over again (see my claim of being banned from Pharyngula).
    I have no sense of decency either.

    It doesn’t matter if the host was phonied up or real

    Translation: It doesn’t matter whether it’s real or not, but watch me spend hours trying to prove it’s not real.

    (No wonder Owlmirror does this. It’s so fun!)

  413. David Wilford

    “That doesn’t just say something unflattering about Myers–it says something devastating about all of us.”

    I don’t think the Crackergate stunt says anything remotely close to that, anymore than some fundamentalist preacher saying something stupid about President Obama does. I fail to see how giving P.Z. Myers the Sister Souljah treatment by scapegoating him as somehow being a major cause of American scientific illiteracy makes the slightest bit of sense, unless you can show some genuine cause and effect that I’m not seeing.

  414. ndt

    I will close with a quote from a foul-mouthed malcontent who I admire very much. From Hunter S. Thomspon’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas:

    “It’s people like you that voted for Hubert Humphrey.”

  415. Marc

    #413: Do you think that this is coming across as rational and scientific? Really?

    I almost never see an actual, honest attempt at understanding when someone on the web takes what another person has written and begins with Translation:…

    There are plenty of ways that one could counter a claim that Pharyngula “cultivates a climate of extremism, incivility and, indeed, unreason.” Instead you, and a cadre of people from that site, seem intent on proving the point.

    I support reason against fanaticism, and that means that I have no use for the approach that you and others use in your hate-religion bubble over at Meyers place and are exhibiting here. I’m sure that you can come up with some snappy “translation”, which doesn’t make what you’re doing any more convincing or less juvenile.

  416. Sven DIMilo

    I’m going to look into what he claimed at the time.

    Maybe–just a suggestion–do that first?
    And then opine about it?

    Seriously–you’re admitting here that you don’t know what you’re talking about, but you keep talking about it.

    Why?

  417. Stu

    The only reason I can think of for Marc & McCarthy being this whiny and obtuse is that they’ve been promised a cookie if they can troll another thread past 450 posts.

  418. Great work, both of you. My applause.

    I’d love to participate at Science Blogs, and tried a couple of times, but eventually was totally eviscerated and driven off due to my religious beliefs. (Another problem: Sexist, classist insults are okay at Pharyngula, IF directed at Christians.) (And politically, I am further left than most of the commenters there, which is the irony. ) Appealing to Myers through email, he assured me that I brought all those insults on myself, simply by showing up.

    This is no way to get anything accomplished. Your book IS. Thanks again.

  419. Knockgoats

    “I have no use for the approach that you and others use in your hate-religion bubble over at Meyers place” – Marc

    Who is this “Meyers” of whom you speak?

  420. And BTW–

    Jon @ #12, enjoyed the Sagan clip enormously! Thanks so much for linking.

    Carl Sagan and Stephen Jay Gould seemed to get it about religion, dunno what the problem is with PZ and his posse.

    Sometimes, I think it’s the never-ending, addictive Quest for Blog Hits, pure and simple…

  421. Lowell

    TomJoe, you’re grasping at straws here. PZ didn’t encourage anybody to do anything illegal to get him a communion wafer. (You do realize they are given away freely, right? I mean, they are not that hard to get.)

    A few months after Crackergate, he put up a post criticizing a man in Florida who disrupted a Catholic ceremony by grabbing a bunch of wafers. See here http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/11/no_youre_doing_it_wrong.php

    He didn’t applaud the guy. He called it “unacceptable” and said that “Blasphemy is something you can feel free to do on your own, but not when you’re disrupting other people’s rituals, no matter how silly they are.”

    Doesn’t exactly sound like someone who advocates disrupting Catholic ceremonies to me.

  422. Silver Fox

    WOW”

    “Yes, and breaches in church etiquette are a church matter, not a school matter. If the church and its followers involved in the Webster Cooke matter had simply reacted appropriately and within their acceptable sphere of influence (i.e. sent him a letter asking for an apology) rather that call for his expulsion from school (not to mention assault and make death threats) then PZ wouldn’t have done what he did. Heck, he – and everyone else, wouldn’t have even heard about it.”

    Let us talk about the Chruch’s “sphere of influence” as it relates to this matter. First, I would express my admiration for the patience and tolerance of the Bishops in South Florida and Morris Minnesota. They are a lot more temperate men than I am.

    If Cooke is Catholic, as Bishop, I would have called him in for consultation and demanded that he publicly admit the grievous wrong that he did and accept whatever censure the Church imposed on him. He probably automatically excommunicated himself from the Church by his action but I would have made that official by excommunicating him publicly.

    As Bishop over the Morris Minnesota area when PZ engaged in the “crackergate” incident I would have demanded that the University censure him. If they refused, I would have notified every Catholic faculty member teaching at the Morris campus that unless they made arrangements to terminate their association with that campus, they faced excommunication. I would have notified the parents of every Catholic student attending at that campus that Morris campus was not a fit place for Catholic students and they should plan to withdraw their students at the earliest convenience but no later then the end of the current semester. Refusing to do that would expose them to further Church sanctions.

    Those Bishops report only and directly to the Pope and, on a matter of Eucharistic desecration, he would have backed them to the hilt. You want to talk about the Church’s “sphere of influence” there it is. Again, I admire the patience those men exercised. I admire them but I would not have emulated them.

  423. Lowell

    And that, Silver Fox, is why it is a damn good thing you are not in charge of anything, you totalitarian fool.

  424. Feynmaniac

    Marc,

    I almost never see an actual, honest attempt at understanding when someone on the web takes what another person has written and begins with Translation:…

    What did I not understand about McCarthy’s profound statement that Wonderbread could be made to look a Eucharist host?

    There are plenty of ways that one could counter a claim that Pharyngula “cultivates a climate of extremism, incivility and, indeed, unreason.” Instead you, and a cadre of people from that site, seem intent on proving the point.

    Whether something is “extreme” is subject and irrelevant to whether or not it’s true. Civility is overrated and I don’t think anyone would claim Pharyngula is filled with it, including its regulars. As for “unreason”, read the threads and you’ll see the place is filled with intelligent comments.

    You seem to be working under the incorrect assumption that incivility and rationality are opposites. They’re not. They’re orthogonal. It’s perfectly possible for one to be rude and rational or polite and fallacious. If you’ve ever watched academics debate you’d see it can get heated at times. McCarthy has forfeited any respect due to him by lying and continually making a fool out of himself.

    From my experience people only start to whine about incivility because their case is so weak they can’t defend it on rational grounds.

  425. Lowell @422: Doesn’t exactly sound like someone who advocates disrupting Catholic ceremonies to me.

    Too bad PZ didn’t say, at the time CrackerGate was at its highest fever pitch, that disrupting services wasn’t the route to go. Instead he issued a blanket “do whatever you need to” to “score me some”. That his stance changed after the fact, is not the point. What he said, at the time things were at their worst, speaks for itself.

  426. Pete M.

    I’m a pretty regular reader of Pharyngula. I don’t consider myself primarily a defender of PZ Myers or the New Atheism or anything, though I am an atheist. Sometimes I agree with him, sometimes not (especially his naturalized moral theory – my background is in philosophical ethics and I’m more of a Kantian. Still, there is a real debate to be had here.). I’m a little annoyed at all of the broad brush labeling of “Pharyngulites,” as if this were a homogeneous army of anti-religious zealots. Prominent New Atheists are often accused of this same sort of broad brush attack against “religion.” But, as many have repeatedly pointed out, their actual positions are more subtle: they, like I, have a problem when religious persons attempt to dictate public policy on the basis of fundamentally religious values, as well as on the basis of beliefs that stem directly from their religious views but which contradict well-established scientific theory.

    However, I do not think that all religious thought is pointless or wrong. There are indeed questions that science is not well-suited to address. Some of these are asked in philosophy of science, where the standards of inference and evidence that the scientific method relies on to establish its conclusions are themselves examined. Science cannot itself, while relying on these standards, establish the very same standards.

    Another area that I believe science is not well-suited to address is the realm of value (I believe this is itself a source of disagreement between myself and PZ Myers, as I mentioned above). Sure, we can conduct surveys about what people say that they value, and so on, but this isn’t the same as exploring the fundamental nature and source of values. There is some very interesting work done by religious thinkers in this area. I do not accept these views, in general, but still I find them worth engaging with, because they have produced powerful and comprehensive accounts that seek to explain, prescribe and justify moral claims and give an account of the human good.

    So, to sum up: a. I find many of the attacks against the New Atheists to be unjustified and misleading, including many (maybe most) of the attacks made by Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum; but, b. I still think that there is value to engaging (some) religion and religious thinkers on questions of values.

  427. Lowell

    TomJoe, PZ never wrote “do whatever you need to,” so why did you put those words in quotes? That’s dishonest.

    And your argument is really weak. If I ask you to get me a six-pack of beer at the store, am I implicitly approving of your stealing the beer at gunpoint if I don’t specifically tell you not to use violence? It’s just silly.

  428. — Like at me, I’m so sciency! With my great mind I managed to prove that one piece of bread can be made to look like another piece of bread Feynmaniac

    Gee, Feynmaniac, just as yourself, what would Richard Feynman do?

    — Chris and Sheril, do you see me undermining your entire thesis by showing that not only have the religious not heard of Myers but that they really don’t care what he did! Feynphony

    Their thesis would stand even if Meyers cut the “host” out of printer paper, he offended people as was his clear intention.

    You people should really look up words like “thesis” before you use them, you’re embarrassing yourselves. With anyone who knows that much, which lets you off the hook with your fellow PZites.

    I am so amused at how you guys are so frantic to distinguish a consecrated host from a phony PR prop host. Not to mention not being able to get your stories about the Great Desecration.

  429. Lowell @428: PZ’s exact words were “… if any of you would be willing to do what it takes …“. There is nary a difference.

  430. Silver Fox

    Stu:

    “Well, Silver Fox (I’m not using post numbers because the moderation here makes that useless), how do you think PZ got the bleedin’ wafer? Do you think he broke into a church in the dead of night or something? Did he take the form of a bat in order to do so?”

    Doesn’t really make much difference HOW he got it. It’s what he did after he got it that makes him a scumbucket

  431. Lowell

    SF: “Doesn’t really make much difference HOW he got it. It’s what he did after he got it that makes him a scumbucket.”

    I agree that it’s not very important how PZ got it. Why don’t you explain that to Anthony McCarthy and TomJoe? They seem hung up on it.

  432. Feynmaniac

    Gee, Feynmaniac, just as yourself, what would Richard Feynman do?

    He’d denounce the Cargo Cult science you engage in.

    I am so amused at how you guys are so frantic to distinguish a consecrated host from a phony PR prop host.

    Posts by McCarthy discussing whether or not it was a real host:
    #321
    #327
    #329
    #335
    #340
    #349
    #352
    #394 – “By the way, I did an experiment. I tried making a phony host out of a piece of bread. It was homemade so it flattened with a bit of difficulty but it was quite possible. ”
    #395
    #398 – “I just got done talking to one of my relatives….When I told her what you are alleging the first thing she said was that a host wouldn’t stand up to what was allegedly done with this one.”
    #399
    #407- “I’m going to have to copy the photos and compare the size and appearance of the “host” with what I can find out from that”

    Project much?

  433. Lowell

    Yes, TomJoe. And “what it takes” to get a communion wafer (the magic ones made out of Jesus, that is) is sitting through a Catholic mass, walking up to the front, and accepting one from the guy in the dress. It’s not difficult, but it is extremely boring.

  434. Sven DiMilo

    Daisy D, could you identify the thread in which you were subjected to sexist/classist insults? Because context is key.

  435. Gee, Feynmaniac, I seem to remember him doing a practical experiment with those O rings. After doing a little asking around.

    You know, I could be doing another experiment here, based on what Wowbagger and the rest of you guys have been saying.

    I’m going to have to go buy some bananas to see if I can calculate sizes, but I think the scale might be a bit off.

    In the mean time, I’m finding your panic on this great question almost as interesting as the last few times I’ve had a long go-round with the PZ’s Avengers. I’ve gained a few insights into the real nature of him and the new atheist fad.

  436. Stu

    AM:

    “he offended people as was his clear intention.”

    No it was not. Hey, lookie there, M&K even quote him on his intentions!

    You are aware that people can scroll up and check your lies, right?

    SF:

    That wasn’t me.

    “It’s what he did after he got it that makes him a scumbucket”

    Ah, those lovely theist values… “scumbucket”? Really?

  437. Stu

    “I’m finding your panic on this great question”

    Good grief, you are delusional. Yikes.

  438. Matt Penfold

    There is a photograph of the wafer PZ put a rusty nail through.

    Can McCarthy not ask a Catholic priest if it was a consecrated wafer at the time ? If anyone can tell the difference between a consecrated and unconsecrated wafer it will sure be a priest.

  439. Lowell, I’m just doing what a real skeptic would, looking at the claims and the possible faking of evidence. You guys are always the ones gassing on over going with the simplest evidence. The simplest story would be that PZ faked the host, whether with Wonder Bread or by finding a jpeg online, printing it out and using sissors, or some other means of faking it.

    That story Wowbagger told about how the “host” in question came to be in PZ’s possession sounds like total fabrication to me. If he’d never said that I’d never have gotten involved with this argument. Though it is fun to see you guys jumping.

    It being Thurdsay and me having a full teaching schedule, I’m not going to get around to measuring the image as compared to the label on the banana, it might help if I could find out what brand of banana or what size nail that is. The scale looks off to me especially as compared to the page sizes. And I think a real host would probably crack under that kind of treatment. Though I’ll have to see what there is to be seen.

    I suspect the whole thing was a hoax. I’m not sure if what he did to the page of the Quran would qualify as desecration since it’s just an English translation from what I can see on the page, which might account for why it didn’t set off rioting, getting people killed. Though I’d never have taken that chance.

  440. McCarthy I see you’ve managed to be looking at your untied shoelaces while the point of the “Great Desecration” sails just over the top of your pointy head.

    Good job. Keep it up as it is quite entertaining in a stumbling drunk guy with a bucket of slop kind of way.

  441. Silver Fox

    Stu and Wow:

    You need to hurry back to Pharnygula. PZ has a poll for you to crash.
    It has something to do with religious inscriptions on the new National Visitors Center.

  442. Silver Fox

    Very fine editorial this morning by Cal Thomas about Francis Collins’ nomination to head NIH. He gives Dr. Collins thumbs up and a high five. He does do a mild take-down of the secularists who are having fits over this.

  443. Feynmaniac

    McCarhy,

    In addition to the bananas…..*giggle*…..you need to buy a copy of the Qur’an and The God Delusion for your…. *attempts to hold in laughter*….. experiment.

    Silver Fox,

    Perhaps you should stay on this blog. I think you’ll fit right in with McCarthy and Kwok.

  444. — McCarthy I see you’ve managed to be looking at your untied shoelaces while the point of the “Great Desecration” sails just over the top of your pointy head. Rev. BigDumb

    What makes you think my purpose has anything to do with whether or not the “host” was authentic?

    Here’s a hint, I don’t happen to be a Christian or an adherent of Islam.

    Now, I’ve got to go teach at 1:00. Keep jumping for PZ, he depends on it.

  445. John Kwok

    @ Feynmaniac –

    A few friends of mine caught onto my “threat” over at Pharyngula and realized immediately that I was joking (I had no idea that they were reading it until I found out a few days later.). But the point remains that even I admitted to PZ that it was a joke, he still insisted – and apparently still does – that it wasn’t. IMHO for him to still insist means that he’s lying.

  446. John Kwok

    @ Peter Beattie –

    You don’t refer to Chris and Sheril as “Mooneybaum” here, but over at Jerry’s increasingly shrill, and rather ridiculous, blog (I knew that it had descended down to Pharyngula’s level after I read his self-serving condemnation of the World Science Festival for receiving funding from the “evil” Templeton Foundation when his own university, the University of Chicago has been receiving tens of millions of dollars in support from that same foundation.). Moreover, you come across more rational here than at that blog.

    What Chris and Sheril have been contending about PZ is an issue probably best left to sociologists of science and religion. But I think they have made a very valid point, and if I was someone responsible for overseeing the blogs at ScienceBlogs, consider seriously the possibility that Pharyngula is a black stain on both ScienceBlogs’s credibility and raison d’etre.

  447. What makes you think my purpose has anything to do with whether or not the “host” was authentic?

    Thank you for continuing to support my point.

  448. Paul

    What makes you think my purpose has anything to do with whether or not the “host” was authentic?

    Because you’ve made at least a dozen posts questioning said authenticity? Honestly, you’d make more sense if you kept in mind people can look at your previous posts.

  449. Sorbet

    All this coming from a man (?) who does not even comprehend the molecular integrity of a cracker and who claims that it “dissolves in your mouth in seconds” without doing a single experiment with it and by taking the word of one minister. Science- another thing the New Militant Accomodationists suck at.

  450. Sven DiMilo

    fine editorial this morning by Cal Thomas

    HAHAHAHAHahahahahahahahahahaha!

  451. Pete M.

    I have a tangential question that has probably been answered somewhere, but a quick Google search failed to turn up: who IS John Kwok? Does this guy teach somewhere? I saw him mention some very good philosophers of science on a thread somewhere and say he’d been in contact with them, but I don’t think he’s a philosopher, right? Sorry for the interruption, but I’m really just curious. His posts are so… so… well, just so weird.

  452. Badger3k

    Gilt @ 401 (if the numbers hold) – absolutely right. As an ex-Roman Catholic (Archdiocese of Chicago) for 18-odd years, the host used is a lot bigger than a nickel – the silver dollar sounds about right, and yes, they take forever to dissolve. Darn things were disgusting, felt like chewing cardboard, and tasted about the same. The amount of denial done by McCarthy is hilarious. He can’t even accept the idea that a “consecrated” host was actually used – It Has To Be Fake!!!!! Dude, if I had a local Catholic Church, I’d be able to walk right in, sit down, go through the motions, and get the host easily. Considering we had always had the option of either taking it on our tongue or getting it placed in our hands. I’ve even walked back to the pew with one, but being an idiot at the time, and young, I ate the god-forsaken thing. Does McCarthy think that priests have a special “Detect Non-Catholic” sense? They only have that in D&D.

    Wow. Just, wow. Oh, almost forgot to compliment the other of the pair. Loved how Kwok worked in his connection to Important people, as in the grad student working on the KT extinction. Now, if only Ken Miller could have been walking by at that moment, or the grad student went to the same high school – we’d have a trifecta!

  453. Matt Penfold

    John Kwok is Ken Miller’s bestest every buddy.

    They went to school together you know!

    Oh, and Frank McCourt taught him English.

    John Kwok knows more than you do.

  454. Daisy D, could you identify the thread in which you were subjected to sexist/classist insults? Because context is key.

    No, context isn’t key.

    It is never decent behavior to call anyone “shit-kicking moron from Dogpatch” and proclaim that because I live in the south, I enjoy making babies with my brother. Ever.

    I will not go looking for that thread because quite frankly, I can’t bear to look at that stuff now, I was so deeply humiliated by it.

    True, I am not as well-educated as most of you, no college degree, etc. (My honesty about that brought forth: “the only thing you types are good for is to clean my toilets”–from someone named “Logician”.) But I did not call anyone names, and in fact, the only people I call names on blogs are public pests like Bill O’Reilly.

    There is simply no reason to belittle people for disagreeing with you, unless you have no other arguments to make. But on Pharyngula, any person who is honest about their religious belief can expect to be savaged in short order.

  455. Pete M.

    Huh. Thanks Matt @ 454 and especially Sven @ 455. So, he’s a programmer, a statistician? I guess that makes a sort of sense. It strikes me that the set of skills required to be a good programmer, while not simple or easy, are limited in domain, such that one can go off the rails in some interesting ways and still be a competent programmer. (I know some very well-rounded programmers and statisticians, though, just to be clear that I don’t mean to malign the profession at all.)

  456. It is never decent behavior to call anyone “shit-kicking moron from Dogpatch”

    What does decent have to do with it? Sometimes people’s arguments are so repetitive and unsupportable that you are left with ridicule as nothing else will get through. And I’m not claiming this is the case with you as I have no idea on this one charge and you refuse to point us to the thread in question.

    and proclaim that because I live in the south, I enjoy making babies with my brother. Ever.

    I don’t disagree but that’s more geographical ignorance and prejudice than sexist. You’ll find many of us that call people out for such idiotic statements on Pharyngula.

  457. Pete M.

    Oh, and thanks Paul @ 457 – I posted before seeing your response. That wiki entry’s got a helpful list of some of his comments.

  458. Paul

    There is simply no reason to belittle people for disagreeing with you, unless you have no other arguments to make. But on Pharyngula, any person who is honest about their religious belief can expect to be savaged in short order.

    Look up Scott Hatfield. PZ has even recognized him in the past for positive contribution to the blog. He’s openly Christian.

    oh, and 20 seconds in google turned up the thread in question.

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/01/the_bibles_one_true_value.php

    Daisy’s posts:

    You gonna make me delurk for this one, aincha?

    Nah, the Bible’s other true value is that it allows all of you to feel so SUPERIOR. And what would you do without that? ;)

    Jeff, it’s the elitism and constant stench of superiority that is offensive. I’m a lefty. If you’re a right-winger, then it makes sense you think you have the right to diss people for whatever reason (religious belief or lack of it included), since you feel you are superior and it’s therefore justified. Otherwise, I don’t get it.

    The content of the video doesn’t offend me, I watch South Park, et al.

    I’ll note that the only elitism to this point was an assertion that some people find religious faith ridiculous.

    And Jeff, yeah, it may be ridiculous… but not nearly as ridiculous as obsessing over something I claim I don’t believe in, as you do.

    Right out of the cheap apologist handbook.

    “People Who Don’t Want Their Beliefs Laughed at Shouldn’t Have Such Funny Beliefs”

    GrrlScientist, you mean like believing in spelling words all cutesy and hip and trendy like “Grrrl”? Good point. I’ll make a point not to laugh, but usually I do.

    Ian, what’s wrong with Santa and the Tooth Fairy? (No, I don’t condescend to children or anyone else.)

    Jeff, when I say “lefty”, I refer to class consciousness, one of those old-fashioned ideas I subscribe to. An interesting offshoot is the idea of “false consciousness” which I think probably interests you and others here? (or not?)

    “I have lofty interests, something you atheists that only want to bash theists because you’re obsessed with them know nothing about”

    Somebody doesn’t know how to read. I voted strategically for Ron Paul. As stated previously, I’m a lefty.

    Moses, I hope your “science” isn’t like your reading comprehension.

    Jim, are you saying all religion inevitably leads to these things? Can you prove this hypothesize?

    Because I think that is an emotional appeal, as groundless as saying “All atheists are immoral/amoral,” blah blah blah…

    “you’re just like the religionists, not all religions are bad and you’re a fundamentalist for implying religion can be bad by pointing out examples”

    Ok, doing this is making me sick and taking longer than I thought. She did post a lot in that thread. But amazingly, when you come into a thread and start tossing out unsubstantiated insults, people will attack you back. It’s silly to expect otherwise. Logician was the only one aside from Daisy throwing out personal attacks, it’s not like the whole of Pharyngula went about race baiting and making inbred jokes.

  459. Matt Penfold

    Pete M,

    Please don’t forget that he is a programmer at a Prominent Institution!

  460. John Kwok

    Just to clear up some misconceptions, folks:

    No, I didn’t go to school with Ken Miller (He’s much older than me, trust me), but, as an undergraduate, I did assist him in his very first debate against a creationist. However, I did go to graduate school with the planetary scientist who discovered the K/T mass extinction impact crater, thought his evidence was ridiculous, and kept rejecting it, until I finally saw some of his published data. Then I couldn’t reject it, realized that it made a lot of sense, and recognized that he and his colleagues were absolutely right. That’s how science should work, but I might add too that my graduate school classmate acted on some well-founded hunches in predicting that there was an asteroid impact crater somewhere in the Caribbean after finding extensive evidence for such an impact while doing field research in the Dominician Republic (Oh wait, are you going to tell me now that because he relied upon his “hunches” that he didn’t do good science? Give me a break please.).

  461. Paul

    My #461 in moderation is somewhat misleading with quotes based on the way blockquote works on The Intersection. I am used to a sidebar for each blockquote tag, making it obvious where they split. So separate quotes run together. It’s not a big deal, I just don’t want to give the impression there are 3 different quotes when I quoted several different posts by Daisy.

  462. John Kwok

    @ Matt Penfold –

    I went to high school with Brian Greene and Lisa Randall too. So what? That’s irrelevant IMHO.

  463. Davo

    Daisy, I agree; those comments were entirely uncalled for and are repulsive, but they are not representative of comments on Pharyngula. In fact I am pretty sure even PZ would deplore those obnoxiously racist, sexist and condescending commments.

  464. So Daisy it turns out you were attacking people and then coming here playing the victim.

    And if you read that thread you’ll see Carlie going through the comments and calling out the ones that were indeed nasty and the ones that weren’t what you claimed.

    Did you just want to come here to just on the Bash Pharyngula bandwagon while brushing your own behavior under the rug and ignoring the regulars who were not happy with some of the comments directed at you?

    I see you’ve bought into the persecution complex quite nicely.

    Shameful.

  465. anaxagoras

    Anthony McCarthy, you said (#407, 8:24am):
    “As to what my relative said, I’ll let any Catholics who have received communion judge whether or not it makes sense.”

    Really?! OK, here we go!

    I was raised Catholic. You yourself have thoroughly impeached your eucharistic minister relative’s credibility, and your own. Consecrated hosts are *routinely* and *knowingly* given by priests to Catholics for the purpose of taking them home, to give to their disabled or infirm relatives. Any eucharistic minister should know this. I know this from direct personal experience, in my own family, in multiple parishes and regions of the US. Also, there are Catholics whose families come from certain Eastern European backgrounds who have the custom of bringing consecrated hosts home to be consumed on Christmas eve before dinner. The priests (including a priest in my own family!) give these consecrated hosts to these families to take home. This also comes from direct personal experience, every year until I left my parents’ home.

    Given human nature and the vast numbers of hosts that make such a trip, it is entirely plausible, even to be expected, that some are put away for next Sunday, next Christmas, whatever; some are probably forgotten about, lost, and found later. No one has to steal anything. Hosts make their way to Catholics’ homes without any evil intent whatsoever by such Catholics. Given the decline in the population of observant Catholics in this country it is also entirely plausible, even to be expected, that some of these Catholics would have lost their faith before finding the hosts that they had previously put away, forgot about, or lost.

    Are you aware that you were simply making an argument based on incredulity, and such arguments tend to be very flimsy?

    In any case, your posts have demonstrated *repeatedly* that you entirely miss the point. The point is that just because some subset of the community believes that a piece of wheat flour + water is “holy”, doesn’t meant that everyone needs to agree and act accordingly. The faithful are unreasonable in their expectation and insistence that they can impose their superstitions on everyone else.

    Actually, can you imagine that? What if *every* religious group on the planet had a right to make everyone else on the planet be observant of their religious rules? No one could eat pork or beef or shellfish, or use birth control, or do work on Saturdays, or do work on Sundays (better not need an ER doc on the weekend!), or use electricity or drive cars, or allow women to show their faces in public, or receive medical treatments (other than prayer), or believe that the pope can make doctrinal mistakes, or have contact with “suppressive persons”, etc, etc, etc. Clearly, *that* can’t work.

    So who gets to decide which religions get to make such impositions on which non-believers? Doesn’t it just make sooooo much more sense that religions may impose rules on *only* their own members? Why do some members of religious organizations think they are justified in being indignant or even threatening harm to non-members for non-compliance? What makes their belief system so much more deserving of special treatment than all the other belief systems that are not being complied with by most of the world?

    And, to head off vitriol before it is slung, I never looked at PZ Myers’ website before yesterday, the same day I first saw this website. I am no one’s acolyte. Just a critical thinker who cherishes my right to believe what I choose.

  466. Kwok I think you dropped something.

  467. John Kwok

    @ Rev. BigDumbChimp –

    Thanks for the reminder. I’ll take care of it now.

  468. Silver Fox

    Anax:

    “In other words, if “knowledge” can be so subjective, why should anyone else have to believe it?”

    With subjective epistemic knowledge you cannot have second party confirmation. Whether the second party “believe” you or not would, I guess, depend on how well what you’re telling him reflect with his own subjective experience. That’s the nature of disagreements; it centers around the compatibility of epistemic knowledge. There are rare disagreements as to the ontological knowledge of the natural world. With the latter, you can experiment, test, draw conclusions, etc. Who can disagree with that. But, that’s only half the knowledge story. Unfortunately, for the atheist, that’s the whole story.

  469. Sven DiMilo

    I did go to graduate school with the planetary scientist who discovered the K/T mass extinction impact crater

    Glen Penfield?

  470. Sven DiMilo

    More likely Alan Hildebrand?
    So you went to Arizona, John? Who did you work with there, and what degree did you earn?

  471. Stu

    SilverFox, that argument is as vapid as the first 3,140,288 times you tried to use it on Pharyngula only to have it refuted the same way every single time.

  472. John Kwok

    Sven,

    Alan and I used to have lunch and dinner on campus when he wasn’t out in the field. But aside from that, I’m not saying more, simply because I know how much you like to twist things around.

  473. Davo

    John Kwok knows Lisa Randall, Brian Greene, Ken Miller and the K/T. Therefore all his enunciations logically must be resoundingly true.

  474. John Kwok

    @ Sven,

    I haven’t seen or heard from Alan since graduate school. I honestly doubt he’d remember me.

    @ Davo –

    Of those you’ve listed, I only know Ken Miller. Haven’t seen Lisa since high school and Brian I saw for the first time since high school at last month’s World Science Festival.

  475. anaxagoras

    Silver Fox,

    I see your continued contributions today (#423 11:19 am, #431 12:06 pm, #442 12:42 pm, #443 12:46 pm). Perhaps you missed it–last night I (#377 12:54 am and #383 1:29 am) and Wowbagger (#380 1:03 am and #382 1:13 am) posted some questions to you about your ideas concerning “a realm of metaphysical knowledge” (#368 12:21 am), but you have not addressed our questions.

    Speaking only for myself, I made my posts genuinely interested in what your answers may be. Please, enlighten us.

  476. John Kwok

    @ Rev. BigDumbChip –

    Again, I do appreciate your reminder. I took care of it immediately, like I said I would.

  477. BAllanJ

    I’m going to comment on the post, since I haven’t time to read these long comment threads.

    First, nice job misrepresenting the history of crackergate in this post. I assume you did the same in your book. (Any mention of Webster Cook at all?) At least here you reference back to PZ’s blog so people can check it out for themselves. I hope you provided the url in the book too, although you know few of the readers of the book will head over to their computer to check it out, right. That way you can misrepresent however you like.

    Second, you say you found crackergate offensive and the religious would too, although few of them were regular readers of PZ’s blog. So who is going to offend more people? PZ, with few religious readers, or you, who claim to reach a broader audience? You remind me of those imams in Denmark who didn’t think enough Muslims had been offended by the cartoons so they copied them and spread them around the islamic world. Nice job.

    Now, I’m pretty sure that PZ wasn’t saying anything about science when he did the crackergate thing. His blog isn’t all about science, you know. So I’m not sure why you would see fit to expound on this issue when writing a book about science education or outreach. There doesn’t seem to be a reason. He has written posts where he states his position on the conflict of science and religion, and maybe those would have been relevant… I’m not sure not having read the chapter. I’m just unclear on what crackergate has to do with a book on the topic at hand. Unless you believe that one can only blog on one topic. Or perhaps you want to sell books by building outrage. Is that a framing thing? Good cop / Bad cop, maybe?

  478. Davo

    That’s not the point. You constantly resort to quoting one scientist or another (and of course Ken Miller is your muse) as support for your statements. A better example of argument from authority I have not seen. Are you going to think for yourself or what?

  479. Marc

    #474: logic doesn’t work that way Stu. Axiomatic logic systems (if A, then B) only work if you accept A. It’s completely logical for someone to disagree with B if they don’t accept A.

  480. gillt

    Yes yes, Silver, but all knowledge is not created equal. For example your subjective religious beliefs are an irrelevant knowledge to everyone but yourself. And for practicalities sake, can we really call that knowledge–a way of knowing that only you have access to?

    Why bother mentioning it unless you want this superfluous knowledge to be regarded with respect by others. For that, you’ll have to convince us that your beliefs are worth “knowing.” I’m just not sure you’re up to it.

  481. Pete M.

    Silver Fox @ 471, I just checked out your 368 and man that contrast argument stuff is some wacky epistemology. So, you say that “philosophically” knowledge of the material world implies knowledge of the immaterial world, just as in having knowledge of thin ice implies having knowledge of thick ice.

    But, there is a world of difference between grasping a concept, on the one hand, and having knowledge of real existence, on the other. First, note that for any concept, we can come up with a contrastive concept by the simple logical move of adding “not” to it. So, take the concept of a unicorn. We can easily construct the contrastive concept of “not unicorn.” Now, I know that my keyboard, on which I now type, is “not unicorn.” I mean, I understand the concept of “not unicorn” and see that it applies to my keyboard. But this does not imply that I somehow have knowledge of the real existence of unicorns! I simply understand the concept.

    Just so with material/immaterial. My knowledge that the concept “material” applies to real, existing things, in no way implies that the concept of “immaterial” also applies to real existing things, even if it is true (which I will at least grant for the sake of argument, though I’m not sure this is always the case) that my understanding one concept implies understanding the other.

  482. anaxagoras

    Silver Fox,

    Ack, I see each our most recent posts crossed paths.

    You said “Whether the second party “believe” you or not would, I guess, depend on how well what you’re telling him reflect with his own subjective experience.” (#471 2:10 pm)

    It sounds like you are making my point for me. If my subjective experience tells me that one particular variety of wheat flour + water is no more “holy” than any other, therefore not requiring any special treatment, what makes your subjective experience more correct than mine?

  483. Marc

    #478 – I looked back at your post/response, and I think you’re talking past each other. He’s claiming that there are some experiences which don’t lend themselves to external tests; for example, “I felt the presence of God when I saw that beautiful sunset.” How do you falsify that? How can you know what someone else felt and was experiencing?

    Now, if you say “I believe that every word in the bible is literally true; therefore, the Earth is 6,000 years old”…then you’re making an empirical claim, and it’s false.

    That’s how I’d read what he’s saying, in any event. You may believe the former category of statement is useless, etc.; but that doesn’t mean that you can disprove it.

  484. Okay, you found the thread.

    Did I call anyone names? Did I suggest atheists are immoral and so forth, as you all suggested I was an idiot? I was snarky only in response to snark.

    BTW, I had previously participated in several threads at Pharyngula in a well-behaved and uncontroversial manner. This was the first religiously-themed one that I ever responded to (and the last–also quit lurking, of course).

    Me: It is never decent behavior to call anyone “shit-kicking moron from Dogpatch”

    Reverend: What does decent have to do with it? Sometimes people’s arguments are so repetitive and unsupportable that you are left with ridicule as nothing else will get through.

    There is plenty wrong with it.

    Do you think you will convince people like that? Do I really have to explain to you how name-calling alienates people?

    Well, I guess if that was easily understood, this thread wouldn’t be as long as it is.

    Paul: Right out of the cheap apologist handbook.

    I believe I said, I do not have the education that most of you do. I do the best I can. How about you explain to me why that statement is wrong or mistaken, rather than getting all high-minded and superior on me? (That was the conversation I sought, not the one I got.)

    “People Who Don’t Want Their Beliefs Laughed at Shouldn’t Have Such Funny Beliefs”

    GrrlScientist, you mean like believing in spelling words all cutesy and hip and trendy like “Grrrl”? Good point. I’ll make a point not to laugh, but usually I do.

    Hey, I was funnier than I thought! Good for me.

    Ian, what’s wrong with Santa and the Tooth Fairy? (No, I don’t condescend to children or anyone else.)

    That was actually a serious question: What’s wrong with Santa and the Tooth Fairy, or Krishna or Jesus or Xenu, as long as we don’t try to legislate belief, teach it as science and do not make religious belief a litmus test for office?

    Jeff, when I say “lefty”, I refer to class consciousness, one of those old-fashioned ideas I subscribe to. An interesting offshoot is the idea of “false consciousness” which I think probably interests you and others here? (or not?)

    This was in response to someone telling me I couldn’t be a leftist if I am Christian.

    Paul subtitles my comment: “I have lofty interests, something you atheists that only want to bash theists because you’re obsessed with them know nothing about”

    Huh? I meant nothing of the sort; I would love to have that conversation and have had it with many bloggers about all kinds of things, religion and science included. (?) Again, why the belittling?

    Somebody doesn’t know how to read. I voted strategically for Ron Paul. As stated previously, I’m a lefty.

    Moses, I hope your “science” isn’t like your reading comprehension.

    This was from someone who called me a Ron Paulbot, another exercise in name-calling, based on one post I made about Ron Paul.

    Me: Jim, are you saying all religion inevitably leads to these things? Can you prove this hypothesize?

    Because I think that is an emotional appeal, as groundless as saying “All atheists are immoral/amoral,” blah blah blah…

    And you subtitle this: “you’re just like the religionists”

    Okay, is “religionist” the same as a believer? Is a believer who has nebulous and/or heretical beliefs still a “religionist”? Like, do you have to technically belong to a religion to qualify for “religionist”? You are using lingo that I don’t even fully understand, and then attributing these ideas to me. (?)

    “not all religions are bad”

    I tend to think people can turn anything either good or bad, and most things are not good or bad in and of themselves.

    But people of good will can certainly differ.

    “and you’re a fundamentalist for implying religion can be bad by pointing out examples”

    I live in Bob Jones country, as I said in the thread, and I know full well how religion can be bad.

    I didn’t say these things and do not believe them, yet you are attributing them to me.

    Perfect example of how people argue on Pharyngula, though.. Thanks for the examples! However, you missed Logician’s quotes and how heartily he was encouraged and laughed at.

    But amazingly, when you come into a thread and start tossing out unsubstantiated insults, people will attack you back.

    Where were the insults? Every snarky thing I said was in reply to snarkiness directed at me. Did I call anyone names? Did I accuse anyone of being “Mammy” and committing incest?

    It’s silly to expect otherwise. Logician was the only one aside from Daisy throwing out personal attacks,

    Where are these personal attacks?

    it’s not like the whole of Pharyngula went about race baiting and making inbred jokes.

    PZ Myers in an email to me, said the thread was okay with him. That means he agreed with Logician’s savaging of me. If he didn’t, he could have said “Wow, sorry! I have an overzealous contingent at my blog and they can sometimes get carried away!”–and I would have understood. (I don’t moderate comments at my blog and have occasionally had to say the same thing, and I certainly don’t have the number of comments he does.)

    Reverend: So Daisy it turns out you were attacking people and then coming here playing the victim.

    Where did I ‘attack’ anyone that was polite to me?

    And Carlie went through the thread only after I wrote the post. Points off.

    But it IS notable that a woman had to do it.

    PS: The word “victim” is getting as bad as “race card” and “Hitler”–starting a new lefty Godwins law that nobody is allowed to start right wing Michelle Malkin “victim! victim!” jabber on blogs.

    Be advised! :P

  485. Patricia

    Anthony McCarthy – When did the pope change catholic church policy to allow female clergy? Your remark about your relative being a woman Eucharistic pastor is quite stunning.

  486. John Kwok

    @ Davo –

    If a scientist has something useful (or not) and I believe it is worth noting, then I shall note it. If I said, “Hey, you should listen to me because I know Ken Miller and Ken said…..”, well that’s ridiculous and I would expect no one to believe me. Moreover, if Ken really is my “muse” (I’d credit others, including Kitcher, Gould and Scott too IMHO.), then shouldn’t I agree with him ALL THE TIME like some of PZ’s most devout fans do? Instead, more than once, I have noted that I reject Ken’s acceptance of a “weak” anthropic principle and have pointed to philosopher and evolutionry biologist Massimo Pigliucci’s elegant refutation which he posted back in February at his Rationally Speaking blog.

  487. Pete M.

    Gillt @483. I think your argument proves too much (which isn’t to say that SilverFox is in any way correct): I want to be able to say things like, “I know I am in pain.” Now, the sensation of pain is essentially perspectival: you have to adopt a particular perspective (in this case, mine) in order to be able to experience it. Of course others might use evidence to establish that I am indeed in pain (by attending to my cries of pain, or conducting an MRI or whatever), and might also then, on various accounts of knowledge, know that I am in pain. But there does seem to be an asymmetry between my knowledge and theirs: I’m aware of my pain in a way that they aren’t. I know what it is like to feel my pain right now, and this is something that perhaps others cannot know. But the simple existence of perspectival properties, like what my pain feels like, does not undermine materialism. It seems to me that your argument above implies that I do not count as knowing what my pain feels like, because it is “a way of knowing that only [I] have access to.” But, we don’t need to give up being able to claim knowledge of internal mental states in order to preserve materialism.

  488. Stu

    “but that doesn’t mean that you can disprove it.”

    We are quite aware of that. That makes it useless in any scientific discussion. “Because I know” is bullet-proof.

    But the question that SF has dodged over and over is far more interesting: how his way of knowing is right, when all the other religious ways of knowing are wrong. And how he knows that. It is painfully obvious that it is all circular, and all in his head.

  489. John Kwok

    @ Davo –

    I think my attitude towards Ken Miller stands in sharp contrast to, for example, Mike Haubrich’s with PZ. I’ve criticized Ken when I thought it was necessary. Have yet to read anything from Mike where he’s criticized his friend.

  490. tomh

    It’s nice that this friendly blog has made a home for commenters who have been rejected on so many other blogs, Kwok, McCarthy, and now Silver Fox. Of course, to have those three as your main defenders … well, how embarrassing.

  491. gillt

    Right, so how do I know your experiencing pain other than taking it on good faith that you’re not deceiving me or yourself when you say your in pain? See below.

    But pain is something all human can relate to, so I’m not sure it’s a good comparison to SF’s supernatural god.

    This reminds me of the qualia conundrum. For example, when you see the color red is it the same as when I see red?

    Marvin Minsky, among others, offers a good refutation of qualia:

    “”Now, a philosophical dualist might then complain: “You’ve described how hurting affects your mind — but you still can’t express how hurting feels.” This, I maintain, is a huge mistake — that attempt to reify ‘feeling’ as an independent entity, with an essence that’s indescribable. As I see it, feelings are not strange alien things. It is precisely those cognitive changes themselves that constitute what ‘hurting’ is — and this also includes all those clumsy attempts to represent and summarize those changes. The big mistake comes from looking for some single, simple, ‘essence’ of hurting, rather than recognizing that this is the word we use for complex rearrangement of our disposition of resources.” (wiki)

  492. Marc

    #488: We may be getting someplace useful, at least in establishing the origin of disagreements. Religious folks, by and large, are not engaged in a scientific question.

    Let’s say that someone believes in a God, and they have a particular emotional reaction which they attach to that God. Others share the same reaction and experiences, and they form a church and have weekly celebrations. If you ask them to prove why their experience is the correct one, they cheerfully admit that it’s a matter of faith: either you have their subjective experiences or you don’t. That’s much closer to how people approach religion than coming at it from a hypothesis-based approach. Is it real? Their emotions are real, their perceptions of their experiences are real, and it’s a major part of their lives. You’re just not addressing the basic reason why they are religious when you talk about whether the resurrection was real.

    Now – if they start making demands about the behavior of others, or factual claims about the way that the world works, that’s a different matter. The propoer response depends on the degree of imposition and there is a lot of room for debate. But there is a pretty solid basis for tolerance on matters like this.

  493. Sven DiMilo

    Daisy D: The problem with playing the martyr here is that the thread, and your words in it, are still available for reference. YOU were the first to bring up up sex, race, and class in that thread:

    your analysis/analogy may be the most amazing hyper-educated-upper-class-American-white-man statement I’ve heard all day

    Yeah, Logician was a dick. But he was the only one. In other words, your whine that “I’d love to participate at Science Blogs, and tried a couple of times, but eventually was totally eviscerated and driven off due to my religious beliefs” actually translates as “I couldn’t handle one asshole commenter at Pharyngula.” (And your behavior on that thread was hardly above criticism! You did far more than “just showing up,” you were snide and sarcastic right off the bat because somebody made fun of the Bible.)

  494. John Kwok

    @ tomh –

    I’ve been banned only at two blogs. As for McCarthy he often makes much sense. I don’t Silver Fox makes sense, but he’s been surprising me lately.

  495. John Kwok

    @ tomh –

    Typo: should have read, “I don’t think Silver Fox makes much sense, but he’s been surprising me lately with some unexpectedly thoughtful comments.”

  496. Sven DiMilo

    Did I accuse anyone of being “Mammy”

    I’m not supporting Logician, but for the factual record, he was referring to Mammy Yokum.

  497. gillt

    Marc: “That’s much closer to how people approach religion than coming at it from a hypothesis-based approach. Is it real? Their emotions are real, their perceptions of their experiences are real, and it’s a major part of their lives. You’re just not addressing the basic reason why they are religious when you talk about whether the resurrection was real.”

    Is it real? No more than munching some peyote and seeing your dead grandmother riding a technicolor horse, I suppose. According to your statement, what separates the two emotional experiences? Is one more worthy than the other?

    I think your use of the word “real” actually means “very important.”

    Marc: “But there is a pretty solid basis for tolerance on matters like this.”

    Again, with the tolerance. Why are atheists always being told to behave tolerantly? Get some perspective, man! We’re a small minority universally demonized the world-over by every major religion. Tolerance for people, not their beliefs.

  498. Reverend: What does decent have to do with it? Sometimes people’s arguments are so repetitive and unsupportable that you are left with ridicule as nothing else will get through.

    There is plenty wrong with it.

    Do you think you will convince people like that? Do I really have to explain to you how name-calling alienates people?

    Well, I guess if that was easily understood, this thread wouldn’t be as long as it is.

    Did you just ignore the rest of my comment?

    “Sometimes people’s arguments are so repetitive and unsupportable that you are left with ridicule as nothing else will get through.”

    As that is very important to the point, Daisy.

    PZ Myers in an email to me, said the thread was okay with him. That means he agreed with Logician’s savaging of me. If he didn’t, he could have said “Wow, sorry! I have an overzealous contingent at my blog and they can sometimes get carried away!”–and I would have understood. (I don’t moderate comments at my blog and have occasionally had to say the same thing, and I certainly don’t have the number of comments he does.)

    He sent you an email about that insignificant thread? While I’m sure its possible I highly doubt it unless it was a response to you sending him an email complaining about your perceived mistreatment.

    And no, him being ok with the thread is not an endorsement of Logicel as much as him seeing the others calling Logicel’s comments asinine and figuring it was handled fine there.

    Which it was.

    Where did I ‘attack’ anyone that was polite to me?

    And Carlie went through the thread only after I wrote the post. Points off.

    But it IS notable that a woman had to do it.

    So its decent to respond with nastiness?

    And if you are trying to portray the bulk of the posters at Pharyngula as sexist based on one thread then maybe you should consider widening your sample.

    Seriously, you couldn’t be any farther from the truth but why let that stand in the way of a nice persecution complex fueled rant?

  499. Not Logicel… logician

    sorry

  500. Ah, I’ve got a few minutes.

    — You yourself have thoroughly impeached your eucharistic minister relative’s credibility, and your own. Consecrated hosts are *routinely* and *knowingly* given by priests to Catholics for the purpose of taking them home, to give to their disabled or infirm relatives. anaxagoras

    Not unless they’re either consecrated Eucharistic ministers or temporarily given that office, according to my cousin. She’d never heard of anyone else ever bringing consecrated hosts home with them. I don’t know how much leeway various bishops would have to bend the rules. She said that they’re required to take only as many as they’re pretty certain will be eaten by the people who’ve asked for communion and if they have any others they have to return them to the church right away. I’ll ask her where the official rules might be found. I’ve never heard of them just being handed out to go home but I’ll ask her about that later.

    From what I’ve always understood about those Polish Christmas Eve suppers, the “hosts”, the name of which I can’t remember, were unconsecrated. What other eastern European Christians do, I’ve got no idea. Can PZ verify that’s how the “hosts” he’s claiming to have came into his possession. I will look but I doubt that has anything to do with PZ’s stunt.

    You guys are only proving that it’s not “just a cracker”, not even to you, with your agonized jumping around. I was going to save it for later but she said that anyone can order the same wafers they use online. She thought if the wafer was authentic that’s probably where he really got it. But it’s just a cracker unless it was consecrated. She thought the whole story sounded phony. I think it’s probably just cut out of paper, myself.

    From the time PZ said:

    Of course, anyone who believes it was fake are free to do so. Those people, though, would then have nothing to complain about. PZ @331.

    I’ve just been pulling your chains to watch you jump. He did seem to throw in the towel pretty early in the process for someone of his temperament. Maybe he should have kept the evidence of his great piece of performance art to prove its authenticity.

    Gillt, maybe you just weren’t smart enough to keep it from sticking to the roof of your mouth. I don’t remember having that trouble.

  501. It is impossible to reason with Paul Zachary Myers just as it is with Richard Dawkins. They are congenital atheists, immune to change. They each have dedicated all their energies to the denigration of anyone who might suggest that phylogeny WAS a guided process. In short they are not scientists and never were. Actually it is not their fault. They, like everyone else, were determined, probably millions of yeasr ago, to be the “born to lose” losers they have proven to be.

    The simple truth is that the Darwinian model (which they silently defend) is a hopeless failure which can account for nothing more than those intraspecific variations which can be produced by selection, natural or artificial. Natural selection is entirely conservative, preserving the status quo and preventing evolutionary change, a strategy which, with very few exceptions, results in extinction.

    “Everything is determined…by forces over which we have no control.”
    Albert Einstein

    It is my conviction that phylogeny, like ontogeny, proceeded (past tense) on the basis of information prepared in advance. It is my further conviction that creative evolution is a phenomenon of the distant past which has now ended and which probably will never resume.

    jadavison.wordpress.com

  502. Lowell

    But Mark, in the end, don’t the religious always end up “making demands about the behavior of others, or factual claims about the way that the world works”?

    That’s the problem. If it was just a hobby, like knitting (to use PZ’s example) or D&D or something, no one would care.

  503. anaxagoras

    Marc #487,

    I do not dispute the existence of subjective experience, and the validity of it to the person who has it. Eg., no one can know my mood like I can.

    I dispute Silver Fox’s logic, which, if I understand it, goes like this:
    I just *know* the wafer is holy,
    therefore it *is* holy,
    and everyone else must give the wafer special treatment regardless of what *their* subjective experience tells them,
    and I am completely within my rights to get all upset and scream like hell if they don’t comply with how my religion says a holy wafer should be treated.
    In other words, for some reason his subjective experience trumps everyone else’s.

    Silver Fox, if I misunderstand your logic, please clarify.

  504. Lowell

    Sorry, Marc, not Mark

    BTW, Anthony McCarthy: Everything you’re saying about the Great Desecration was said and responded to dozens, perhaps hundreds, of times during Crackergate on PZ’s blog. Do you think you’re the first person to think of these issues?

  505. Silver Fox, if I misunderstand your logic, please clarify

    Silver Fox doesn’t clarify, he repeats his assertion un-clarified and un- supported.

  506. — The amount of denial done by McCarthy is hilarious. He can’t even accept the idea that a “consecrated” host was actually used – It Has To Be Fake! Badger3k

    I wish you people could learn the finer points of reading. What I said was that the story Wowbagger told about how it “really” came into PZ’s possession sounded phony to me. I said all along that it wouldn’t surprise me if one of his minions stole it on his request.

    I do think PZ probably faked it because he was jealous of that dopy guy who got all the attention over a verified, witnessed, incident.

    As I said, I’ve just been having a bit of fun practicing some real skepticism for about the last hundred fifty comments. You guys are as credulous as the flakiest new agers, in your own way.

  507. gillt

    McCarthy: “Gillt, maybe you just weren’t smart enough to keep it from sticking to the roof of your mouth. I don’t remember having that trouble.”

    If you’ve ever eaten a host, then you’d know the wafer is larger than a nickel.

    In honor of McCarthy’s new found love for skepticism, wouldn’t it make more sense, based on his past cheap opinions and underhanded tactics, to assume he’s lying about this Eucharistic minister relative and call it a day?

  508. Lowell, Oh, now you’re going to use the “heard it all before” line.

    I don’t bother with PZ’s blog very often, it’s kind of like reading the phone book, without the variety.

  509. I do think PZ probably faked it because he was jealous of that dopy guy who got all the attention over a verified, witnessed, incident.

    I see you’re still staring at those untied shoes.

  510. anaxagoras

    Anthony McCarthy, #504:

    I see you ignored the second half of my post, the part about “In any case, your posts have demonstrated *repeatedly* that you entirely miss the point,” that we don’t need to all agree about what is holy and deserving of special treatment, that given the diversity of religious beliefs and religious rules in the world it is not reasonable for everyone to comply with all of them, and that there’s no reason why one belief system (with no evidence) is more deserving of special treatment than all the other belief systems in the world. Why do some members of religious organizations think they are justified in being indignant or even threatening harm to non-members for non-compliance? What makes *your* belief system so much more deserving of special treatment than all the other belief systems that are not being complied with by most of the world?

    Its not about the cracker. Its about the imposition of unjustified beliefs on others.

  511. I wouldn’t want to disillusion you in your faith, BigDumb.

    Hey, PZ, if you’re going to put your cred on the line over something like this again, you’d better do a better job with verification. Though your true believers won’t ever, ever, give up their faith in you.

  512. Lowell

    Anthony McCarthy: No, the fact that we’ve heard it all before doesn’t make your arguments any weaker (you’ve taken care of that yourself). It just makes them more tedious.

    Did you have a chance to run those banana size comparisons yet?

  513. I wouldn’t want to disillusion you in your faith, BigDumb.

    Oh look, he made a funny with my name. How original.

    My point still stands.

  514. anaxagoras

    Verification? I repeat: Its not about the cracker. Its about the imposition of unjustified beliefs on others.

  515. Feynmaniac

    Anthony “Joe” McCarthy,

    As I said, I’ve just been having a bit of fun practicing some real skepticism for about the last hundred fifty comments.

    You’re a pseudo skeptic. You practice radical skepticism against ideas you disagree with but unquestioningly accept ideas that (you think) will make your opponent look bad (“My relative said it was impossible therefore it must be!!!”).

  516. Stu

    John A. Davison? Oh, this is priceless. Who’s next, Mabus?

  517. @anaxagoras (518):

    Verification? I repeat: Its not about the cracker. Its about the imposition of unjustified beliefs on others.

    Correct, astute assumption. But the Catholics who acted unChristian (to say the least), and ofr that matter Sheril and Chris, are not the only ones guilty of trying to impose beliefs, unjustified or otherwise. Many of the commentors above you are tyring to do just the same thing, and Dr. Myers has long been trying to impose his beliefs on others. The problem is that when someone disagrees with him, that someone is called unintelligent, irrational, and told, essentially to go sit quietly in the corner. Same for Prof. dawkins and Mr, Hitchens (to name two more). In other words, if Myers can not convert you to his way of seeing the world, he won’t respectfully disagree with you, but will resort to behavior that is analogous to the behavior he so detests.

    That is what Chris and Sheril are writing against; that is how PZ hurst science, and that is what too many people on this thread are doing. Ask yourselves – all of you – how did leaving reasoned debate over Sheril and Chris’ points, and attacking each other and them instead – how did that advance the cause of science and the relationship between science and the broader culture?

    From where I sit, it didn’t. I have teanagers in my house who are less myopic about their behavior.

  518. gillt

    There use to be commenters here who engaged McCarthy in honest debate. They are now gone, regretfully having wasted a lot of time. Ever since Mooney’s initial volley at Coyne these threads have been a wasteland of McCarthy and Kwok comments. It’s good to see none here take him seriously anymore.

  519. Marc

    Davison: Attacks on evolution? Well, that’s one way to bring the scientists (of all religious opinions) together into one happy circle. Personally – I prefer “Einsteinist” to “Darwinist.”

  520. JoshS

    Davison, old pal! How did you manage to get enough time away from creating new blogs to drop in here? I mean, blogs fill up fast with comments, and then they get all full, so you have to create a new one so that you can keep posting. Cuz you can only put up one post per blog. Then you can only comment, and when it’s all full-up with comments, the blog is useless. And you need a new one.

    [For readers who think I’m insane, I’m not making this up. Google for Davison and see what I mean]

  521. Patricia

    Anthony McCarthy – Could you kindly answer my question @489?

  522. Stu

    Actually, I’m wondering what Happeh’s take on all of this is.

  523. Davo

    Elementary. When you are given carte blanche to indulge in verbal diarrhea, you simply spray others with your spittle and filth until they turn away with disgust and stop responding. Then you thump your chest and proclaim how you, the gentlest and most tolerant of souls, have “won” against those evil militant atheists. Chris and Sheril really need to douse this section with some Pepto Bismol.

  524. JoshS

    Actually, I’m wondering what Happeh’s take on all of this is.

    Silly Stu. You know what Happeh would say. We’re all leaning to the left with our homosexually and masturbatorily deformed bodies. Haven’t you ever wondered why your left side is so shriveled and shrunken?

  525. Sven DiMilo

    Is that THE John A. Davison? The one who said such risible things about Ken Miller?

  526. Monkey Deathcar

    Anthony McCarthy:

    A “consecrated eucharistic minister” is just someone who has gone through the sacrament confirmation. Anyone who is confirmed can do it, there’s no special knowledge. There’s not even any real training, nothing to sign. Usually there are a few people who are asked to perform this duty any given week, but if they don’t show up someone else can wonder up there and give out the cracker. Technically since I haven’t been excommunicated, I can still give out communion even though I am now an atheist (I wouldn’t, I don’t want to be bored for an hour on a Sunday while I can be sleeping). The communion sacrament would even still be valid to the person receiving it if I gave them the wafer. I could pocket a dozen of these things if I wanted. Getting one of these things is extraordinarily easy.
    You’ve been wrong about so much, it’s a wonder you even continue.

  527. Stu

    “Haven’t you ever wondered why your left side is so shriveled and shrunken?”

    I’m sorry, what?

  528. JoshS

    Stu, you must not be acquainted with Happeh Theory. You’ll understand what I meant after you read this:

    http://www.happehtheory.com/Masturbation/HappehTheoryAndMasturbationMainPage.htm

    Be careful. Your brain will be damaged.

  529. Monkey Deathcar

    Also, they make special “holy canisters” to give to people to take to sick relatives. Most churches have a program where volunteers can bring multiple consecrated crackers to nursing homes. The priest doesn’t have to do this. You don’t want to deny these poor people their Jesus cookie.

  530. tomh

    John A. Davison? Oh, this is priceless. Who’s next, Mabus?

    The word’s out. If you can’t post anywhere else, come to Kwokville.

  531. Lowell

    This is so awesome. Kwok, Anthony McCarthy, Silver Fox, and John Davison all on one thread. Mooney and Kirshbaum must be proud of this all-star lineup of supporters. I’m waiting for DaveScot and Pete Rooke to chime in.

  532. Patricia

    John A. Davison – Do you think Ken Miller is as set in his opinions re: science and evolution as Paul Zachery Myers is? If there is a link to one of your blogs regarding Ken Miller I would be pleased if you would post it.

  533. Feynmaniac

    The Intersection: The blog for Pharyngula’s banned (and banned wannabes).

  534. Stu

    Oh no, Josh, I’m more than familiar with Happeh Theory. *shiver* I was just saying that MY particular left side is in fine shape, thank you.

    Probably because I’m right-handed, eh?

  535. Patricia

    Monkey Deathcar – Thank you for the answer to my question re: Eucharistic minister. That’s shocking. I had no idea the Pope would allow such a thing.

  536. Lowell

    Philip H. There’s a difference between arguing one’s position unapologetically and imposing one’s beliefs on others. I suspect you have no problem making that distinction in other areas where there are strenuous disagreements (politics, entertainment, even food), but fail to make it here because of the special protections we’re all taught to give to religious beliefs.

  537. Feynmaniac

    Davison,

    I have to disagree with your statement that Stuyvesant High School is overrated.

  538. Lowell

    I heard that the principal at Stuyvesant declared publicly that the school would never, ever teach Prescribed Evolutionary Theory while he was in charge. Seems a bit doctrinaire to me.

  539. JoshS

    That’s all well and good, Lowell, but is the principal Noted or Eminent? I don’t listen to people unless they’re those things.

  540. —- There use to be commenters here who engaged McCarthy in honest debate. They are now gone, gillt

    And clearly his name isn’t “gillt” who lies with an abandon unusual even among new atheists.

    —- A “consecrated eucharistic minister” is just someone who has gone through the sacrament confirmation. Anyone who is confirmed can do it, there’s no special knowledge.

    I wish you guys would stop making it up as you go along, I really don’t have the time to review things I haven’t thought about in decades.

    Everything I’m looking at specifically mentions appointments to a special ministry by the hierarchy with all kinds of confusing and evolving requirements. I seem to recall my cousin mentioning going to the cathedral to have her hands anointed. I’ll ask her tonight but I know you’re pulling this one out from somewhere other than reality.

  541. articulett

    I think the whole point of crackergate is that, to a nonbeliever, there is no difference between a consecrated wafer and an unconsecrated one… which means that the only real difference is entirely in the mind of those brainwashed to believe that blessing a cracker can make it “divine”. That’s clearly a crazy delusion that sane people should be allowed (even encouraged) to mock. It may be the best way to help in the deprogramming of the brainwashed. (Plus, it’s jolly good fun and no actual people were hurt in the process!)

    Letting go of wacky superstitions is often the first and biggest step one can take in becoming more scientifically literate. It’s hard to learn facts when you imagine yourself saved for believing an unbelievable story.

  542. Stu

    “I wish you guys would stop making it up as you go along, I really don’t have the time to review things I haven’t thought about in decades.”

    Oh, the irony flows like a sweet river everlasting…

    I love it so!

  543. Patricia

    Anthony McCarthy – I have the patience to wait for a correct answer if Monkey Deathcar is wrong. Thank you.

  544. Feynmaniac

    I wish you guys would stop making it up as you go along

    Translation: Stop stealing my bit!

    I really don’t have the time to review things I haven’t thought about in decades.

    Translation: I really don’t have the time to review things that might harm my case.

    I’ll ask her tonight but I know you’re pulling this one out from somewhere other than reality.

    Translation: Any claim that contradicts me is by default wrong.

  545. articulett @545: I think the whole point of crackergate is that, to a nonbeliever, there is no difference between a consecrated wafer and an unconsecrated one…

    Actually there is a wide range of thought in regards to the Eucharist amongst christian circles as well. Calvinists don’t think it is literal. Baptists don’t think it is literal. Lutherans do, but differently than Catholics and Orthodox, so on and so forth.

    Catholics don’t even care if you mock it, or them either. What chafes them is that PZ purposely asked for volunteers to go into their churches and score some for him by whatever means necessary. You don’t think that goes above and beyond mere mocking? Also, how in the world is that going to help scientific literacy … other than it will not, by a long shot? Anyone who claims CrackerGate was necessary to help the cause of scientific literacy … is off their rocker.

  546. —– You’re a pseudo skeptic. You practice radical skepticism against ideas you disagree with but unquestioningly accept ideas that (you think) will make your opponent look bad (”My relative said it was impossible therefore it must be!!!”). Feynmaniac

    Well, You’re a phonyFeynman.

    What ideas have I unquestioningly accepted? About the only one I can see that’s controversial is the size of a communion wafer, my cousin said “about the size of a nickle”. She wasn’t any more specific than that. I haven’t taken communion in thirty or more years. I remember the host as being about that size. And unlike gillt, I didn’t have much trouble swallowing it.

    She was the one who told me you could buy them online, which I hadn’t known. She thinks that’s probably where it would have come from. I still think he made it out of paper to put into his diorama and then he destroyed the evidence.

    What happens in the new atheism if their great PZ is subject to skepticism? Apparently you all stamp your feet and pout “that’s not fair”.

    —- My point still stands. Big Dumb

    What do you think I’ve been looking down on the ground, Big Dumb? Hint: It wasn’t my shoes.

    You do realize I’m not a Catholic. I’m not a Christian. I respect communion for the regard that other people hold it in, not because I believe in the real presence of Jesus in the bread and wine. Though, being open minded, they might be right about that.

  547. Badger3k

    McCarthy, actually, you’ve been going on and and about investigating the claim that PZ used a real “consecrated” cracker, including making the claim that you were going to get a banana to compare sizes (must…resist…) – why would you do that if you were only “skeptical” of the claim, and not the cracker itself.

    Not sure of your friend, but I’ve seen the priests give hosts to people to take home (heck, when it was brought up I remembered my Aunt had one in a glass frame hanging on the wall in her bedroom, which is creepy when I think about it now). But then, we come from Polish and German stock, so maybe that’s particular to our cultural practice of Chicago-based Roman Catholicism. Perhaps the practices differ from one Diocese to another, which is certainly true – isn’t that the reason that they kept moving those priests around, to keep the practices consistent?

    My, this certainly has kept my last-day-of-summer-school-sitting-in-my-classroom-with-no-students-because-they-want-us-to-stay-blargh-but-it’s-easy-money interesting and amusing.

  548. JoshS

    Anyone who claims CrackerGate was necessary to help the cause of scientific literacy … is off their rocker.

    And since no one claimed that, TomJoe, you have no need to worry. Stop making stuff up. Stop putting words in other peoples’s mouths. Stop ignoring them when they clearly, repeatedly tell you why they think what they think.

  549. — I think the whole point of crackergate is that, to a nonbeliever, there is no difference between a consecrated wafer and an unconsecrated one articulett

    I think I’ve demonstrated that to the PZites it does matter desperately. They’ve been frantically denying that PZ might have made a phony one out of printer or Wonder Bread paper all day.

    Stu, Lowell, Feynmaniac, gillt etc. The best minds of the new atheism, the cream of the crop. A fad that is past its sell by date.

    TomJoe, others I really hope I haven’t said anything offensive to you while I was messing with them.

    Now, as I’m on dial-up, this thread has gotten too long for me to continue with it.

  550. Feynmaniac

    Is that THE John A. Davison? The one who said such risible things about Ken Miller?

    Are you talking about ACTUAL comment by Davison::

    Now that Carl Zimmer has properly introduced Ken Miller into the “blogosphere,” perhaps Ken or Carl will respond to the “heresies” presented by some of us skeptics of the Darwinian model. Or will they, by remaining silent, continue with the assumption that there have never been any valid objections to the Darwinian scheme?

    How dare Davison challenged Miller like that ?!

  551. I’m sorry, reading up the thread I missed this at 489

    —- Anthony McCarthy – When did the pope change catholic church policy to allow female clergy? Your remark about your relative being a woman Eucharistic pastor is quite stunning. Patricia

    I don’t think “Extraordinary Eucharistic Ministers” count as clergy. I’ve had two of my female cousins and one of my aunts who have been Eucharistic Ministers going back about two decades, I’d guess. I know they had to have training and some form of anointing. Like a lot of Catholic practices the history is really complicated and I haven’t kept up with it. I’d suggest looking it up online under Extraordinary Eucharistic Minister Roman Catholic.

  552. articulett

    Crackergate brought an audience to PZ… it showed them science and scientists can be fun.

    I’m a former Catholic, and I found it cathartic, as well. If you use M&K’s measurements for scientific literacy, I have no doubt that the people involved in the crackergate brouhaha (even as lurkers) have a better grasp on science than those not involved. Therefore, I don’t think PZ harmed the cause that M&K are worried about, and he might have helped it. The more people drawn to science blogs the more scientifically literate the populace becomes. And science isn’t a language for “Americans”–it’s the same for everyone in every language no matter what they believe.

    I think the Catholic church has a lot of crazy stuff to answer for including what they did to Webster Cook… I think it’s dishonest to pretend that anything PZ did was in any way comparable to the shenanigans of the Catholic church, and vilifying him is just a vile way to take the spotlight off their much worse atrocities.

    Where the hell is the evidence that PZ harms scientific literacy? Lets ask PZ readers how long it takes the earth to go around the sun and then ask those who are regular readers of the accomodati and compare. Or use whatever measurement you want regarding scientific literacy.

    I don’t want my scientists worried about offending Catholics any more than they worry about offending Scientologists. Sometimes the accommodati and those they are accommodating need to be offended because they are offensive on so many levels.

  553. articulett

    I’m not sure you can get read of peoples demons and superstitions without subjecting their gods to the same harsh light. I think it’s dishonest to try and do that.

    I think it’s arrogant to imagine yourself “in on” divine secretes that aren’t measurable, testable, or even open to questioning by science or empirical means. I don’t think “belief” makes people more moral, honest, enlightened, or anything else– though it does make them imagine they are all those things.

    I am much more a fan of Dennett and the more honest, outspoken “new atheists”: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2009/jul/16/daniel-dennett-belief-atheism

    I think we need more people like PZ, not less. I think the “faith in faith” crowd are a dime a dozen. To me, they all engage in the equivalent of the courtier’s reply. They may feel like they are “moderates”, “mature”, and “peacekeepers”, but I do not share this delusion they have of themselves.

  554. McCarthy: “You do realize I’m not a Catholic. I’m not a Christian.”

    Wow. My opinion of you has totally, like, not changed at all. McCarthy, it wouldn’t matter if you were a godless atheist, your opinions still nominate you as the ruling anti-science crank of this blog. Which is no small accomplishment considering the competition here.

  555. Feynmaniac

    Kwok,

    I don’t Silver Fox makes sense

    Oh no you didn’t!
    I bet Silver Fox is just going to take that lying down and not respond.

  556. Davo

    “Any claim that contradicts me is by default wrong”

    Also add “Anyone who disagrees with me is by default an intolerant, self-serving militant atheist bigot, a servile Myers/Dawkins sycophant”

  557. I believe it was Vatican II, Patricia.

    They even have altar girls in some churches now. Just the librul ones though. Catholics span a wide range, from the Mel Gibson jew-baiting infallible pope kind to the liberation theology latin American kind. One thing they all have in common that McCarthy should know about but doesn’t is the wacky concept of transubstantiation.

  558. articulett

    If the “new atheists” are too scary for the sensitivities of the “faith in faith” crowd, then they are free to hide behind the skirts of M&K and the assorted courtiers and protectors of the faith.

    But I like my truth undiluted, and I resent people trying to silence those I want to hear more of in the same way I resent such people attempting to silence me.

    They are a lot of avenues towards scientific enlightenment. I don’t think PZ is hurting the cause, and I suspect he may be helping it far more than the accomodati realize. In fact, I bet all of the people they criticize are. I also think that covering for this silly idea that “faith is another way of knowing” is harmful to scientific literacy. A way of knowing what, exactly?

    I don’t find “people of faith” humble, and I don’t find the “new atheists” abrasive.

    Rather, I find “people of faith” arrogant in their presumptions plus they tend to be bigoted towards the “new atheists” whom I find far more coherent, scientifically literate, amusing, eloquent, and HONEST than their critics. Very often they say what I am afraid to say (because I am afraid of irrational people who are close enough to be able to throw things at me.) I find PZ’s critics far more abrasive and detrimental to science than him. To me, they need to paint him as the straw man “new atheist stereotype” so that they can feel better about whatever lesser talents they have to offer humanity. They imagine themselves as “peacekeepers”, but in fact that are spreading hatred towards those who have the balls to say, “the emperor is naked” (and his dick is small and limp).

    From my space in the cybersphere, PZ’s critics are more guilty of the very things they criticize him for. This includes M&K.

  559. Patricia

    Anthony McCarthy @555 – Thank you for the reply, and suggestion to look up Extraordinary Eucharistic Minister Roman Catholic, which I will do. Knowing the correct title will help me a great deal.

  560. articulett

    McCarthy is a Catholic? When I was a Catholic, we considered ourselves “Christian”. Whatever. Anyhow, McCarthy makes me glad I was deprogrammed.

    I hope PZ has facilitated such deprogramming with his crackergate. (I bet he has.) It’s the best thing that could happen to “Unscientific America”. I’m sorry that the meme infection was too entrenched in McCarthy for him to benefit, but posting here may keep him from spawning more vectors for the virus.

  561. To me, one of the lessons of “CrackerGate” is that no one has that right to harm or imprison someone else over a wafer – consecrated or not.

    I can toss the cracker like a frisbee, I can beat on a Koran and a New Testament like a set of bongos, I can use a menorah to play Freddy Krueger. When we get down to it, these things are only foodstuffs, paper and ink, and a candelabra. They are not magic and not reasonable justification for committing violence.

    I am very glad that PZ stood his ground and “desecrated” the cracker. It was a brave act that all free thinkers should admire. And I think it’s good that people were offended and challenged. It’s not a bad thing for people to be offended and to determine where they think the lines of good taste and resonableness should be (re)drawn.

  562. Oops, should be “no one has the right to harm, etc. etc.”

  563. Patricia

    Gilt – Thank you, I haven’t looked at Vatican II in many years. I’ll check that out. Some times it’s difficult to keep up with changes in doctrine.

  564. Peter Beattie

    @ John Kwok:

    You don’t seriously think that referring to Chris and Sheril collectively as “Mooneybaum” is any worse than pointing out that some of their arguments are idiotic, do you? I really don’t see your point. I’ve put pretty much everything on the table here—and you will have noticed the C&S haven’t addressed even a single one of the serious concerns that I, and others of course, have raised. If even you say those concerns (or at least some of them) are reasonable, I would have half expected some kind of engagement. I mean, the point of a blog, after all, is to have a dialogue with your readers, isn’t it? At least that’s what I would have hoped.

    As to the real issue that I asked your opinion on: Have you seen C&S point to any reasonably specific circumstance that might change their mind, e.g. on their claim, so far unsubstantiated by any evidence, that the Outspoken Atheists harm the cause of scientific literacy?

  565. Rev. BigDumbChimp

    John A. Davison? Oh, this is priceless. Who’s next, Mabus?

    Could we hope for the bulk of the Kansas troll patrol too?

    Davison, I really hope someone knows you’re off your meds and you’ve gotten out of the house again. Last time it was messy when they finally found you.

  566. Rev. BigDumbChimp

    You do realize I’m not a Catholic. I’m not a Christian. I respect communion for the regard that other people hold it in, not because I believe in the real presence of Jesus in the bread and wine. Though, being open minded, they might be right about that.

    Again with the big dumb. Seriously, I’ve never heard that before. You’re a natural.

    Whether you’re a catholic or not, you still don’t get the point of the entire exercise.

    And with every post you splatter in the comments here you reinforce that.

    Please keep being so “open minded” about whether consecrated crackers actually are the body of a supposed historical religious figure.

    Are you open minded about the Mormon’s Golden Plates, Hindu’s belief in the Sacred nature of Cows and Scientologist’s belief in Xenu and engrams?

    You know the saying about having an open mind…

  567. Wowbagger

    Anthony McCarthy wrote:
    I think I’ve demonstrated that to the PZites it does matter desperately. They’ve been frantically denying that PZ might have made a phony one out of printer or Wonder Bread paper all day.

    But it doesn’t</i< matter. He might have made the whole thing up, but he said he didn't and I take his word for it because he has no reason to lie – for the reasons already mentioned.

    His point was proved either way by the reactions of the religious – and people like Chris and Sheril, who keep on referring to it as a desecration. How can it be a desecration if it wasn't consecrated? Are you going to insist that Chris and Sheril and everyone else who uses the term to stop?

    I, for one, felt his point wold have been better made if he didn't desecrate it, because it highlights the insanity better by virtue of the fact he was getting death threats and terrible analogies for something he hadn’t even done. But he did get one, and did what he did.

    All you want to do is to be able to claim that he lied about the cracker being consecrated. Which, even if it were true (and we’ve had plenty of accounts here that undermine your claim that ‘no Catholic would do that’), has absolutely no relevance in the slightest to the issue at hand, which is that religious people rank a magic cracker as more important than human life.

  568. Rev. BigDumbChimp

    has absolutely no relevance in the slightest to the issue at hand, which is that religious people rank a magic cracker as more important than human life.

    Wowbagger, shhhh.

    He’s busy in contemplation over the status of his untied shoes.

  569. Wowbagger

    Gah, html fail. Apologies.

  570. Sorbet

    Medievalist, well said. And one question I have always had is; are these religious people so thin-skinned and uncertain of their faith that they let the actions of one professor from Minnesotta ruffle their feathers? Is their faith really so fragile? To me, at the very least, a truly religious person would ignore what happened by invovking “God, forgive them for they know not what they do”. Seriously, I would say to the contrary that religious people who get all upset because of acts like these are actually not religious enough and don’t have enough faith.

  571. Wowbagger

    Eh, I’m done with McCarthy. He illustrates the sad fact that you can’t reason a person out of a position they weren’t reasoned into.

  572. Wowbagger, thank you for setting off my skepticism about PZ’s stunt. If anyone wants to know who to thank, Wowbagger’s the one.

    Sorbet, I’m sorry to have to tell you. Just as many atheists I’ve mentioned him to have never heard of PZ, many Catholics apparently aren’t aware of his PR stunt. Actually, that’s a lie. I’m not sorry to tell you that at all.

  573. I see this blog is crawling with the usual flotsam and jetsam from After The Bar Closes, Pharyngula and RichardDawkins.net forum, mostly cowardly, anonymous blowhards, not one of whom has ever published a word on the only matter which has ever been in question – the mechanism of a long ago terminated evolution. Of course neither Myers nor Dawkins ever did either. Only Dawkins even thinks that he did!

    I showed up here because Glenn Hara invited me. Otherwise I would never have known this citadel of science even existed. All I see here is a bunch of wannabe, mightabeen, congenital defectives venting their pathetic spleens in perfect abandon.

    Don’t let a real scientist disrupt your festivities. You may now resume amusing yourselves if you get my drift.

    It is hard to believe isn’t it?

    Not at all. It is a matter of record.

    It doesn’t get any better than this.

    I love it so!

    “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.”
    Albert Einstein

    jadavison.wordpress.com

  574. Monkey Deathcar

    Anthony McCarthy:

    Your latest argument is incoherent and pointless. So many people haven’t heard of PZ? Everybody involved knows this and it certainly doesn’t further your point that he’s “harming science.”

  575. Feynmaniac

    John A. Davison,

    Can you please clarify your position on Ken Miller?

  576. Monkey Deathcar, as the idea of googling Extraordinary Eucharistic Ministers proved too difficult for you to manage, I’m not especially concerned that you’d find something I said incoherent and pointless.

    I don’t think I’ve expressed a concern that PZ Myers is “harming science” here, have I? I’m reading SK’s and CM’s book right now, I haven’t gotten to an extensive mention of PZ’s harming science. He seems to be harming his fans ability to read and reason. Or maybe those are just the types he attracts.

  577. Monkey Deathcar

    Anthony McCarthy: What does googling I don’t see how it refutes what I said. Maybe you should explain it since you’re so smart and then explain to me how my 12 years of catholic school are wrong. I went through that “training” as read by the all mighty google. It was real tough (note the sarcasm).

  578. Monkey Deathcar

    should have started “I googled it and I don’t…”

  579. Patricia

    John A. Davison – I left you a question @536. If you cite your blog post I’ll go look. Thank you.

  580. I didn’t come here to be interrogated. I came to enlighten which is what scientists are supposed to do. That requires a receptive mind.

    Ken Miller is a Darwinist just like Richard Dawkins and P.Z. Myers. Dawkins denigrates Miller only because Miller claims to be religious. I wouldn’t give a nickel for any Darwinian myself. To assume that it is intrinsic in the nature of nonliving matter to self assemble into a living evolving entity even once is ridiculous. If that were true it would have been demonstrated in the laboratory long ago.

    I commented on Ken Miller here at DISCOVER and was banished by Carl Zimmer for my efforts.

    jadavison.wordpress.com

  581. Dan L.

    Bottom line — the dude put a nail through a tiny piece of unleavened “bread.” The reaction was absurd.

    I think that superstition is inimical to science, and that the foundations of religious belief are superstitious. Are you really saying I should just keep my mouth shut? Or would I only be obligated to keep my mouth shut about it if I had a popular blog? How is dragging that whole stupid episode out all over again productive in the least?

    Have you even considered the argument that perhaps we are morally obligated to speak out against the Catholic church? Is it impossible for an honest atheist to be a part of the “solution”?

  582. Sorbet

    True. Only those Catholics who issued death treats to him and spewed forth on his post.

  583. Kseniya

    Didn’t PZ receive the host/cracker from someone who assured him it was consecrated?

  584. Stu

    “Don’t let a real scientist disrupt your festivities.”

    Ah yes, the Galileo complex. Could you take time off from your persecution complex and give us your thoughts on Ken Miller?

    “You may now resume amusing yourselves if you get my drift.”

    Stay classy John, stay classy!

    I love amusing myself so!

  585. Sven DiMilo

    John Davison:
    Are you willing to either back up (with evidence) or withdraw the risible ad hominem attacks you have made on noted Brown University alumnus Ken Miller (who, incidentally, recently was deemed worthy of receipt of a prestigious award)?

  586. Kseniya

    As I recall, Professor. Davison’s criticisms of Dr. Miller were unfounded and, frankly, outrageous.

  587. Sven DiMilo

    I’d say “risible.” Also “mendacious.”

  588. Wowbagger

    Anthony McCarthy wrote:
    Just as many atheists I’ve mentioned him to have never heard of PZ, many Catholics apparently aren’t aware of his PR stunt. Actually, that’s a lie. I’m not sorry to tell you that at all.

    Apparently you’re as coherent as you are intellectually honest – or just regularly honest, for that matter.

  589. You clowns don’t seem to realize that I am not being persecuted, I am the persecutor! I gave Miller and Zimmer ample opportunity to respond to my thesis. My reward was to be shut down. That is typical of the congenital atheist Darwinian mindset. It has been that way ever since Mivart dealt the first death blow to Darwin’s fantasy in 1871. We many critics simply are not allowed to exist.

    What I can’t understand is why I am allowed to hold forth here now. What is most revealing is how neither Myers nor Dawkins recognize their real adversaries but rely on their goon squads to deal with them in flame pits like this one. Apparently Zimmer is now doing the same.

    I have repeatedly challenged them to open discussion on their turf or mine or any neutral ground. Their refusal leaves only one conclusion. They are afraid of me and my many sources, some of the finest scientists of the post Darwinian era.

    “Davison is the Darwinian’s worst nightmare.”
    Terry Trainor

    “The majority of the stupid is invincible and guaranteed for all time.”
    Albert Einstein, Ideas and Opinions, page 28

    jadavison.wordpress.com

  590. MartinB

    “To assume that it is intrinsic in the nature of nonliving matter to self assemble into a living evolving entity even once is ridiculous. If that were true it would have been demonstrated in the laboratory long ago.”

    So, mountains also form by intelligent rising?
    So the sun does not shine by fusion since we don’t have fusion reactors in our labs?
    So stars do not aggregate in clouds (never have created a star in a lab)?

    How utterly ridiculous can you be?

    The principles of evolution have been shown in the lab time over time. It is of course unfortunate that grad studuents don’t like to write theses that take a few million years…

  591. Greg. Tingey

    Oh you MUSTN’T CRITICISE the dear religious believers.
    If you expose their pathetic delusion, they might turn nasty!

    THAT is what you are saying.

    But, um, er ….
    Criticism of religion goes on all the time, and already gets nasty – it’s called crusade and jihad, and fulfilling the will of god (usually by killing and torturing innocent people).

    So stop lying, get your heads out of wherever you’ve inserted them, and WAKE UP.

  592. —- Apparently you’re as coherent as you are intellectually honest – or just regularly honest, for that matter. Wowbagger

    I suspected you couldn’t keep away.

    Greg. Tingey, I got nasty? I don’t think I’d even mentioned the “host” until Wowbagger said :

    He made it quite clear the crackers he received were sent to him by now ex-Catholics who’d taken them when they were still members of the church. None of them were ’stolen’ by anyone. Wowbagger @319

    I responded by saying:

    Is that what PZ claimed? I find it very hard to believe that. I’ll bet it was never consecrated, I’ll bet it was a fake. AM@321

    Then he said:

    But yes, that is what he claimed, and supported that claim with an explanation of where and from whom he received it. Why would you doubt him on that issue, even if you don’t like him or what he does? Are you saying he makes a habit of lying? What is your evidence?

    Catholics on the threads admit taking the cracker home rather than eating it; why is it such a stretch that they may have kept it? Why would you doubt that, once they’ve discarded their useless faith, they would have any problem giving it to PZ? Wowbagger @324.

    Other than specially appointed and, I guess you could say, “ordained” Eucharistic ministers, I’ve never heard of Catholics bringing home consecrated hosts in about 60 years of living with Catholics. I said:

    I came from a very Catholic family and know a very large number of Catholics. I have never once heard of one of them doing that, not even the ones who left the church and wouldn’t have any reason to not talk about it. I’ll have to ask someone who’s still active in the Church what they’re saying about it these days, but back when I was still a Catholic there were extremely strict rules about how a consecrated host was supposed to be treated.

    I think it’s a fake AM @ 329

    To which PZ, himself, said:

    The source of the cracker was documented on video. @330

    and:

    Of course, anyone who believes it was fake are free to do so. Those people, though, would then have nothing to complain about. @331

    Which seemed to be throwing in the towel too quickly and PZ, himself, didn’t correct what Wowbagger had said. I have every right after that to take Wow’s word as “gospel”. The rest of it was just one after another of PZ’s faithful defending his “Great Desecration” from my skepticism which came from what Wowbagger and PZ said. I said early on:

    You’re the one who said: He made it quite clear the crackers he received were sent to him by now ex-Catholics who’d taken them when they were still members of the church. None of them were ’stolen’ by anyone.

    Which is what got my suspicions roused. I’ve never heard of an observant Catholic doing that, never once in more than half a century of knowing Catholics, observant, ex and hostile ex. One of you guys stealing one, that I can believe. I’d assume the guy in the video is known by name and is known to have been the same person who sent whatever PZ used in his stunt. Or at least some name is attached to the video. @349

    So, you see, I expressed skepticism about the authenticity of PZ’s great act based on things that he and one of his true believers said about it. What other of PZ’s increasingly frantic and lying fans said only heightened my skepticism.

    I think the “consecrated host” was a fake, which would be easier to fake than a weeping statue. I think the frantic and angry, unhinged, reaction of PZ’s fans show that they’re a bunch of credulous cultists, not skeptics or rationalists. Though there was quite a bit of rationalization along the way.

    I’ve got to say, I’d concentrated on the “Quran desecration before this part started because it was apparent in the wake of the reaction to the Danish cartoons, which PZ had written about before this stunt, risked getting people killed. After I heard the line about where the “consecrated host” came from and the “verification” of it, I decided to test those aspects of what I’d come to conclude was a PZ cult several years back. And everything I found out from his avenger patrol here indicates it’s a cult with faith practices not much different from similar cults of religious fundamentalists. I’m going to write the thing up and post it on my blog, which is why I’ve come back here today. Might give a few religious folk a laugh at PZ’s expense.

    So, me nasty? I didn’t swear at anyone, I only called gillt a liar because he is one, as I’ve also documented with his own words. I used a shorted form of a pseudonym which one of PZ’s crowd chose for themselves. I think on the threads of PZ’s blog, the level of my conduct here would be considered the height of politeness and civility. Show in my own words where I was “nasty”? That is, unless you think mild skepticism when applied to PZ the Great and “skeptical” is nasty. Well, I’ve always said the new atheism was about practicing a double standard.

  593. I didn’t come here to be interrogated. I came to enlighten which is what scientists are supposed to do. That requires a receptive mind.

    Unfortunately all you accomplished was strengthening your reputation as an unhinged washed up professor with delusions of grandeur.

    Par for the course with you really