The Value of Science Blogs?

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | March 1, 2010 9:06 am

In our book Unscientific America, we devoted an entire chapter to discussing the merits and limitations of science blogging. Here’s an excerpt:

The single-biggest blogging negative, however, is the grouping together of people who already agree about everything, and who then proceed to square and cube their agreements, becoming increasingly self-assured and intolerant of other viewpoints. Thus, blogging about science has brought out, in some cases, the loud, angry, nasty, and profanity-strewing minority of the science world that denounces the rest of America for its ignorance and superstition. This ideological content, which inflames audiences, is often the most likely to draw attention outside of the science-centric blogosphere—meaning that out of the many contributions made by science blogging, the posts that non-scientists (or people who don’t follow science regularly) will probably come across are those skewering religion.

600full-fight-club-posterNeedless to say, while I was not surprised at the response to Chris’ announcement, I am extremely dismayed. Discussion of each post is anticipated, but baseless personal attacks demonstrate the trouble with blogging.

Chris has been blogging for nine years and I began in 2006. The blogosphere is changing, growing, and evolving. In just the past few years, we’ve watched the number of science bloggers swell, while the tone of much of the commentary changed. Most disheartening, the relationships between bloggers fractured across once cohesive networks as small friendly communities chose sides in a growing culture war. (Those involved understand what I mean).

Science blogs themselves continue to afford a wonderful medium for scientists and science writers to reach broad audiences, but they also tend to result in groupthink and often deconstructive or off-topic, rather than constructive discussions. Recently, several science blogs and popular discussion forums such as RichardDawkins.net have been grappling with how to go forward. Multiple science bloggers I admire have retired their sites after frustration with the status quo. So I’ve been pondering the value of science blogging itself.

Much of the time, the blogs have become sport and spectacle. The highest traffic ensues when shots are fired between folks who like to spat angrily across their sites from behind the safety of their desktop. The funny thing is, we assuredly agree on far more than whatever we’re at odds over on any given day. So in the big picture, I often wonder if all the in-fighting does science a great disservice.

What do readers think? Do the positives outweigh the negatives?

MORE ABOUT: science blogs

Comments (518)

  1. Somite

    I think there is a difference in worldview here that approaches the difference between science and post-modernism. In true science blogs once the truth is glimpsed and the latest conclusion is reached the truth is sought uncompromisingly. In science-oriented journalism blogs the truth can be “framed” or can be “accommodated” to fit the psychological needs of a group of people.

    There is enough of this accomodationist stance in mainstream media already with well-funded efforts behind it (Templeton). I personally have no time to accommodate or frame the truth so I prefer when science blogging states facts and is uncompromising about pursuing the truth.

    Regarding the personal attacks; if I recall correctly the first salvo was fired when a book was written naming new atheists by name and arguing their approach was wrong and counterproductive.

  2. blogger

    The book was not the first punch. Not by a long shot. These blog wars go back very far over many years. The example the previous commentor mentions deal with the time a science blogger created photographs of a defiled communion wafer in mockery, so there is a much bigger story.

    But overall, the question of the value of blogs is a good one. Are we doing more harm than good in terms of bringing science to the public? I think, maybe we are.

  3. bilbo

    Do the positives outweigh the negatives?

    The negatives ARE the positives for many in the science blogging world. Look at my point from yesterday as an example. The Reason Project’s website isn’t a blog – it’s supposed to be a “nonprofit foundation devoted to spreading scientific knowledge and secular values in society.” So, in their terms of use agreement, they include a very long list of speech that they consider unbecoming of those who guide their lives with reason, including “inflammatory” or offensive speech and personal attacks. They clearly understand the role of civility in communicating science.

    But then we look at who is on the advisory board. Guess who? Jerry Coyne, a blogger whose every post that isn’t a “Caturday felid” is, basically, a long-form personal attack (such as accusing Chris of committing a felony, per his latest post) chock full of inflammatory and offensive language.

    Why isn’t he (and others on the board) living up to their own foundation’s standards about civility? Because they clearly understand the role of incivility in playing to your own sidelines. That’s what science blogging has become, and judging from the hypocrisy of those who decry incivility but also willingly engage in it on a daily basis, that’s a well-known fact.

    It’s only a matter of time before that hypocrisy comes around to bite them.

  4. moptop

    The big problem for the ruling elite in science blogs is that, as Hillary Clinton famously said, “The problem with the internet is that there are no gatekeepers.”

    No longer is it possible for the elite to just state conclusions and impose them through some kind of imprimatur of authority borrowed from some institution. One has to show one’s reasoning, and reasoning is often messy, subject to bias, innocent error, and careerism.

    Tough! Welcome to Web 3.0. The mass enablement of critical thinking through free dissemination of information and ideas. Remember “Question Authority”? Well the hippies were right about that.

  5. Philip Jr.

    Why isn’t he (and others on the board) living up to their own foundation’s standards about civility? Because they clearly understand the role of incivility in playing to your own sidelines. That’s what science blogging has become, and judging from the hypocrisy of those who decry incivility but also willingly engage in it on a daily basis, that’s a well-known fact.

    That’s a good point. A lot of science bloggers (even sometimes on this site, admittedly) write as if the only people who will read their posts are those that agree with them, when (as everyone knows) that’s definitely not the case.

    There’s very little question that many science blogs have become a simple therapy group for like-minded individuals. Pharyngula is one example, where PZ let someone who agreed with him on a post the other day suggest that a dissenting commenter sodomize himself with rusty kitchen implements, but then later banned a dissenting commenter for repeatedly using the word “stupid.”

    Reading the comment board on WEIT after Jerry accused Chris of a crime that once was punishable by execution, the therapy group appears. Commenters over there were saying the equivalent of, “hey! You guys should go check out how mean I was over on Mooney’s blog!!!” and verbally slapping one another on the back.

    These kinds of science blogs aren’t about furthering science anymore; they’re support groups for those who already “get it.” And that’s a problem.

  6. But has the tone across the science blogohedron appreciably changed over the past few years? I am not sure that it has. Many major cross-blog controversies are flare ups of long-running arguments between the same personalities. To cite a specific example, science blogging vets will no doubt remember the infamous “Framing Wars” in which Chris, PZ, and others played a substantial part. More importantly, these arguments (which got just as personal as the more recent criticism of Chris) set the stage for later arguments, of which (I think) the present response to Chris’ acceptance of the Templeton fellowship is a part. It is not my intention to justify or decry the comments made, but instead to point out that “blogwarz” are not a new phenomenon.

    Furthermore, I think it is important to separate out what bloggers do and what commenters do, both of which are parts of science blogs. A lot of the recent debate/outrage/etc. does not seem to be about blog posts so much as the reactions of commenters, and this in turn brings up the thorny question of how we determine what is uncivil behavior (especially since it seems to depend on context and shared ideas about what is appropriate). If this is true then the issues mentioned above are not unique to science blogs but are something that comes up by running an open forum in which people of disparate views can interact.

    By dealing in generalities, though, the above post does not provide us with a good way to approach these issues (which also was one of the reasons I did not particularly care for the blogging chapter of ‘Unscientific America’). Perhaps eschewing specifics makes it easier to “frame” science blogs as an increasingly antagonistic place, but this comes at the cost of recognizing many science bloggers who are not engaging in the same “negative” behaviors (many of which, like Ed Yong and Scicurious, are very popular without getting involved in mud-slinging). Despite some long-running turf wars I am not convinced that there is as much in-fighting among science blogs as suggested here, even if The Intersection (and particularly Chris) has attracted a great deal of critical comment during the past several years.

    To sum up, to determine whether the positives of science blogging outweigh the negatives we need to deal with specifics. Making somewhat veiled comments about antagonistic interactions does not help us to recognize if things are changing and what we can do foster change. Otherwise, if we just hunker down in our own blogs but never directly address the issues that concern us, we are basically engaging in the same kind of “groupthink” behavior that is criticized in the ‘Unscientific America’ quote.

  7. Julie

    The negatives ARE the positives for many in the science blogging world. Look at my point from yesterday as an example. The Reason Project’s website isn’t a blog – it’s supposed to be a “nonprofit foundation devoted to spreading scientific knowledge and secular values in society.” So, in their terms of use agreement, they include a very long list of speech that they consider unbecoming of those who guide their lives with reason, including “inflammatory” or offensive speech and personal attacks. They clearly understand the role of civility in communicating science.
    ____________________________________________________________________________

    There’s very little question that many science blogs have become a simple therapy group for like-minded individuals. Pharyngula is one example, where PZ let someone who agreed with him on a post the other day suggest that a dissenting commenter sodomize himself with rusty kitchen implements, but then later banned a dissenting commenter for repeatedly using the word “stupid.”

    These kinds of science blogs aren’t about furthering science anymore; they’re support groups for those who already “get it.” And that’s a problem.

    The two above points by Philip and bilbo compliment each other well (a fact that likely delights the hobbit but terrifies PJ!!). Based on what bilbo has shown us from the Reason Project’s core documents, those involved in its leadership clearly get the argument from Unscientific America that incivility is a counterproductive means of communicating the role and importance of science/reason. Not only do they get it – they embrace it based on their terms of use.

    So, why do those same people turn against that argument on their blogs and willingly engage in the very behavior their foundation decries, a la Jerry Coyne? I think it’s because they realize that their blogs aren’t even close to being a medium for communicating science. Instead, they’re the high school “burn book” of the science world, a place where like-minded folks can come together to defame and guffaw and feel better about things and people they don’t like. We even see a little bit of it on this site sometimes, too.

    That would be fine and all – if, like in high school, the burn book didn’t get released to the student body. Tat’s what happens with some of these science blogs, and it reveals that, most of the time, the hypocrites are really the ones who shout about civility the loudest…sometimes those people are Mooney, but now, apparently, people like Jerry Coyne and others on his RP advisory board are in the mix, as well.

  8. gillt

    “Thus, blogging about science has brought out, in some cases, the loud, angry, nasty, and profanity-strewing minority of the science world that denounces the rest of America for its ignorance and superstition.”

    When I first read this in the book, I thought what a noncommittal caveat “in some cases” is. In the majority of cases? Since they made the statement, CM and MK obviously have a number in mind, or if not a number than a sense of a number in mind. Only they won’t say.

    Also, the transition from blogging in general to science blogging in particular is seamless in the paragraph. So if science blogging is no more or less nasty and loud than all other blogging on the internet, what interesting point are they making?

    SK: “So in the big picture, I often wonder if all the in-fighting does science a great disservice.”

    I think you mean to say “…if all the in-fighting does science outreach/communication a great disservice,” because scientists in-fight over minutia all the time. A complete disregard for anything but getting after the truth is encouraged in science and by extension in science blogging.

    And let’s be honest, you’re not talking about science blogging so much as New Atheist science blogging. The bias is obvious in all your examples. However, Mooney inflaming AGW deniers on this blog and Orac doing the same with anti-vaxxers on his blog is not categorically different than Myers doing the same to creationists on his blog.

  9. Hi Laelaps @6,
    Thanks for this thoughtful comment. On this particular point:

    Despite some long-running turf wars I am not convinced that there is as much in-fighting among science blogs as suggested here

    I’m not sure when you joined the network, but there’s no doubt the relationships between bloggers and our communities broke down since I started. Just consider those retiring and shifting sites. This particular blog addresses a lot more than the culture wars (just scroll down), but other topics garner less attention.

    How to foster change? I’m not sure given anonymous commentors and traffic incentive for bloggers. But that’s why I started this thread for further discussion.

  10. Milton C.

    Julie’s on the money, in my opinion, including her admissions that we see the same behavior occassionally here, too. Groupthink is absolutely rampant in the science blogosphere (one example: gillt reading WAY into your use of the word “majority” in an attempt to search for flaws in your argument i post #8).

    How do we fix it? That’s a good question. Who knows if we even can.

  11. What’s wrong with profanity?

  12. gillt

    I’m at a loss as to what felony Coyne accused Mooney of committing. Should there be a citizens arrest?

  13. Laelaps speaks sense, as per usual. The biggest problem in this debate is confirmation bias, or either the negatives or the positives. There are certainly plenty of both, but such is the case for any form of communications. I think we can no more work out a net effect for blogs than we could for books or TV or even conversations.

  14. SLC

    1. I hate to inform Ms. Kirshenbaum but the internet is a tough place where bare knuckle brawls are the norm. My advice is that if one can’t stand the heat, one should get out of the kitchen.

    2. Based on my experience, which is admittedly quite sparse, it appears that the most contentious arguments occur over the issue of climate change, particularly on this blog and Phil Plaits’ blog, mostly generated by the deniers who persist in not only claiming that climate scientists are wrong but that they are also corrupt. Clearly, it is not possible to have a substantive discussion with those who engage in character assassination so the overwhelming temptation is to respond in kind, to which I happily plead guilty.

    3. Relative to the Templeton Fellowship, it should be noted that to most of the critics, the Templeton Foundation is a fraudulent organization preaching pseudoscientific rubbish (for instance, one should observe the vehement attack on a representative of the Templeton Foundation by Richard Dawkins at the 2006 Beyond Faith conference). Given this mindset, it is not surprising that they would consider Mr. Mooney to be guilty by association.

    4. I would also point out, as I did on the Fellowship announcement thread, that Mr. Mooney doesn’t do himself any good by invoking William Saletan, defender of Philip Rushton, a notorious racist.

  15. Busiturtle

    SLC @ 14

    Perhaps climate change deniers are only vocalizing an opinion that many who claim AGW sympathies display through their actions. Which is that AGW is overhyped propaganda.

    If AGW was a clear and present danger perhaps Harrison Ford would settle for a home-made salad instead of “flying up the coast for a cheeseburger.”

    I just don’t think waxing one’s chest hair is a sufficient carbon offset to two hours of air-time in a Cessna.

    http://stossel.blogs.foxbusiness.com/2010/03/01/wax-your-chest-for-the-environment/

  16. SLC

    Re Busiturtle @ #15

    Gee, John Stossel, the main stream medias answer to Glenn Beck.

  17. bilbo

    Busiturtle:

    Similarly, I don’t think that attacking a celebrity you don’t like is a sufficient logical argument against a science you find inconvenient.

  18. Busiturtle

    SLC @ 16

    What does Stossel have to do with Harrison Ford’s lifestyle choices?

    Why is the first response of so many AGW defenders to defame the messenger? This approach may be an effective way to win a political contest but it does not address the facts as they exist.

  19. bilbo

    What’s wrong with profanity?

    Nothing is….until you make a stand against it and continue to use it in a blatant disregard for your own avowed standards.

    Then it becomes the catalyst for hypocrisy.

  20. ThomasL

    SLC,

    The web was, very long ago, an incredibly polite place where ideas where tossed around and serious thought reigned.

    Then they created HTML and web browsers, made it cheap, and let everyone in…

    The result is the creation of segmented echo chambers, where those whom bring a desire for critical thought are left little doubt their presence is not very welcome – they get in the way of the cheering and back slapping of the initiated.

  21. ThomasL

    SLC,

    The web was, very long ago, an incredibly polite place where ideas were tossed around and serious thought reigned.

    Then they created HTML and web browsers, made it cheap, and let everyone in…

    The result is the creation of segmented echo chambers, where those whom bring a desire for critical thought are left little doubt their presence is not very welcome – they get in the way of the cheering and back slapping of the initiated.

  22. Neuro-conservative

    Mooney’s last post was about how to “fight” the “pigs,” where pigs=AGW skeptics.

    Don’t play the victim here.

  23. Neuro-conservative

    Mooney’s last post was about how to “fight” the “pigs,” where pigs=AGW skeptics.

    Sheril — Don’t play the victim here.

  24. J.J.E.

    @ Sheril

    I think as the novelty of the blogosphere wears off, you are left with a different environment than when you came in. So, it is inevitable that things will change. The issue is how do you handle the changes, which come in good and bad flavors.

    For example, if I’m not mistaken, the readership of blogs has been growing. Additionally, the independence (whether competent or not) of the readership has increased. More and more people are coming to have their say, whether or not their say is particularly useful. So, more people with more energy are engaging.

    The Intersection posts by Chris has been an example of a “top down” blog. Although there is on occasion more interactive content (especially from Sheril, but even limited from her), usually it is Chris talking about something of his choice, and the perspective is almost 100% his. Unlike a blog like The Daily Dish or James Fallows blog on the Atlantic, Chris’ posts are seldom self-critical, and since he allows comments, that lack of self criticism really shines through. And so a negative feedback loop builds.

    A clue for Chris: if people are interested enough to spew so much criticism, there is useful energy if engaged properly.

    If he doesn’t want to take the top down approach, consider doing something similar to the some of the more measured frontpagers at Daily Kos, Cosmic Variance, or maybe even Jim Manzi at the American Scene. Those interactive blogs frequently involve the head honcho giving (a probably underved) benefit of the doubt to the most critical commenters, encouraging the less extreme critics feel magnanimous. A few well placed, magnanimous comments that nevertheless still address the issue and admit mistakes or other perspectives is actually a potent tool to manage the readership. It can encourage the supportive readers to be more effective (leading by example) and the reasonable critics to act reasonable (worthy opponent). There is tons of vigorous argument on those blogs, but seldom entrenched “us vs. them” attitudes.

    Chris’s interactions in this context are particularly lacking. He could totally get his critics to enjoy being his critics, but his particular choices on when to and when not to engage harm here. Especially his decision not to engage.

    As for Sheril, I would say that she doesn’t really blog on anything all that interesting to me. That’s just my flavor. She’s vanilla and I like rocky road. Her kissing theme isn’t interesting to me and her take on the sexual assault advocacy theme is something I agree with so strongly and take for granted in my personal thinking that I find nothing to interact with on those posts. I can’t remember other topics Sheril has posted on. (I’m not trying to be mean. I’m just one data point. Sheril can do just fine without me. But that’s my data point for what it’s worth. I don’t really remember what Sheril posts.)

    The fact that this blog can generate hundreds of comments is obvious proof of a lot of energy. Harness it, cultivate it.

  25. bilbo

    Of course, the “pig” reference was a figure of speech, so hyperbole noted, NC.

  26. bilbo

    My advice is that if one can’t stand the heat, one should get out of the kitchen.

    But if the cooking coming out of the kitchen sucks and gives everyone diarrhea, they have all the right to speak out about it.

  27. Gaythia

    I find myself agreeing with Laelaps and Ed Yung in many respects.

    Except that, especially given that we are scientists, we ought to be able to weigh the positive and negative aspects of this new communication medium and then actively work to accentuate the positive ones.

    I first became involved with this blog as a result of a local teacher/creationist/anti global warming controversy: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/intersection/2007/04/08/framing-science-my-response-to-pz/ Comment #5

    As I said then: “We locals are grateful that we have a national science community that we can call on for help. It is wonderful that we are able to access the investigatory powers of both the science bloggers and the science journalists. BUT it is important to focus our efforts in combating these forces so that we do not provide the very publicity that the creationists sought in the first place.”

    The initial national attention, including that of PZ, was useful. It is important to remember that the teacher involved was also part of a network, involving his religious affiliation. Up until that point, I didn’t really know that I had a network. It would have been even more helpful if more regard had been paid for the local situation. The teacher involved was retired by the school district at the end of that semester. He very much desired publicity, as he was writing a book.

    There also needs to be more attention paid to long term follow through. The methods and textbooks for the teaching of science are determined by such things as local teacher hirings, local and state curriculum meetings, and the election of state board of education members. The scientific community needs to encourage local participation, and focus national attention on these ongoing and continuing matters.

    Science Blogs can foster intelligent discussion, and the accessing the attention of this community can be quite useful.

  28. Guy

    Trying to impose “rules” on the science blogs is a a futile endeavor. You can’t control a group of bloggers or commenters anymore that you could herd a hundred cats at once. They are going to go their own way no matter what. A few of them will probably scratch you for attempting to alter their course.

  29. Second opinion

    Science blogs can serve a valuable function to contrast the misinformation of mainstream media in a timely fashion. The internet is surely a way to give people an option to get a second opinion on a topic. This is not to say that the overall picture will be accurate. But since science’s enemies are using the web you are forced to do the same in order to show up among the google hits. I don’t know if this blog is that valuable though since it seems to me rather gossipy.

    As a side note: If you wanted to improve this blog I would start to vigorously delete all off-topic comments. Though this could render up to 90 % of the comments deleted it would massively improve the usefulness of the comments and the climate, as well.

  30. moptop

    Web 3.0 is the new enlightenment. It is the counterrevolution to the “long march through the institutions” I know that frustrates many on the Left, and some on the Right too, but here it is and I think dealing with it is the only way forward. That is unless you are thinking of repealing the first amendment…

  31. moptop

    Which brings us back to answering the questions, instead of attacking the questioner’s motives. But hey, according to you guys, it is only the planet that is at stake.

  32. SLC

    Re Busiturtle @ #18

    What does Stossel have to do with Harrison Ford’s lifestyle choices?

    Since Harrison Ford is not a climate scientist, what does his life style have to do with the scientific validity of climate change?

  33. Busiturtle

    Sheril,

    Blogs provide authors a tremendously convenient way to publish ideas. Readership of what one writes depends on several criteria including (1) the quality of what is written, (2) the reputation of the writer and (3) the value readers gain by spending time on the blog, which is greatly helped by hosting comments.

    Blog writers can opt not to allow comments. The downside of this choice is (1) the lack of a public feedback mechanism will impede growth of the reader community and (2) readers may find the blog stale and disengage more quickly from it.

    Whether or not to host comments is not a a simple choice.

    One compromise you might consider is to limit the number of comments that can be posted to any blog entry.

  34. Sheril;

    I joined ScienceBlogs in October of 2007, though I had been active in the science blogging community on WordPress for about 9 months prior to that. If I recall correctly the great “framing wars” broke out while I was still at WordPress, and in many ways those debate (in which things got pretty heated) did result in the formation of some science blogging cliques.

    Obviously I am probably missing a few, but the blogs which left Sb in the recent past were The Intersection, Stranger Fruit (now A Simple Prop), Afarensis, Dr. Bushwell’s, and Evolving Thoughts. Some of these blogs, like this one, mentioned arguments/tensions between bloggers as reasons for moving, but others did not. It would be in appropriate to go into detail for various reasons relating to privacy, but from what I recall it would be overly presumptuous to assume all of these bloggers left due to issues of incivility. While tense relation between bloggers may play a role, from what I have seen it is more of a contributing factor (or “last straw”) than something that is slowly destroying conduct on science blogs. Perhaps I have missed something, though, so please do correct me if I have.

    As Ed said this discussion is hindered by confirmation bias. Since the whole framing kerfuffle Chris and The Intersection have been regularly criticized by other bloggers and their commenters. At the same time, I do not think such interactions are the rule across science blogs, so we should take care in taking any one person’s/blog’s experience and regarding it as indicative of particular trends. Bouts of in-fighting flare up time and again, but to me this seems to be part of having open forums of communication and would occur regardless of whether we were talking about science or prime time TV. As I stated above, this is not to endorse or excuse anyone’s conduct; it just seems to be the way things work unless we want to just shut down all comments (which I don’t think anyone wants).

  35. I think the positives outweigh the negatives , but only to a certain very limited extent. In the beginning when a blog is new and you don’t know the bloggers’ views on topics, everyone can look forward to a fresh perspective and interesting debate. After a (admittedly short) while though, most new posts simply become affirmations of what we already know about the bloggers’ opinions. In that case, the post adds little that is new to the discussion; however the comments add almost nothing new. For instance most comment threads on this blog during the past entire year have been shouting matches between climate deniers and proponents and between the “New Atheists” and the “Accommodationists”. Do these posts entertain? They do for a lot of people. Do they teach us something new? Hardly. For those who support the words in the posts they are simply confirmations of what they already know, while for the opponents they are simply more examples of what they don’t agree with. Either group, including the bloggers themselves, gain little from these posts in the way of new knowledge.

    I think part of the problem comes from the urge and temptation to blog regularly when you have gained a regular audience. I have faced this problem myself and I think so have the bloggers here. If we had one original and fresh post every month instead of a post on a well-trodden topic every single day, the net value of the blog would be higher. Sadly, blogging has a more than slightly addictive aspect to it; you keep on feeling like writing just to offer new fodder to your readers, even if you yourself know that what you are saying either doesn’t add anything new, or simply serves to provoke more shouting matches. I don’t know the way out of this dilemma, but taking a hard look at what you *really* want your blog to achieve may be a good start. Do you simply want catharsis for yourself? Then sure, go ahead. Do you want your readers to learn something new? Then maybe you should blog infrequently and really thoughtfully. Sure, that may mean much less traffic, but it would also mean you are providing something of real value to your readers…and most importantly, to yourself.

  36. sinz54

    There’s a basic question of ethics here: You need to keep your agendas distinct and not keep them hidden. Too many militant atheists see science as their own “wedge” to undercut religion and promote atheism (a “Wedge Document” in reverse). But by conflating science and atheism under the guise of popularizing science, they give people the impression that scientists believe that science and atheism are inextricably related.

    For example, when you go to Pharyngula and click on “About…”, you see plenty of stuff about Myers as a researcher in biology, but nothing about his track record and goals in promoting atheism.

    The honest thing to do is give balance to both sides: “I’m a biologist and my interests are….” followed by “I’m a proud atheist and my goals are to undercut religion, which I consider to be antiquated and even dangerous.”

  37. And just to briefly throw in on a different tack…

    What is “positive” about science blogs depends on who you are talking about; readers or the people who are writing. I know I have benefited greatly from writing a science blog (starting a career as a freelance science writer, landing a book deal) and I would like to think that what I have written has helped people better understand and appreciate science (though, honestly, that is more difficult for me to know unless my readers tell me so!).

    As Carl Zimmer wisely said, though, blogs are software. They are tools that are not inherently good or bad. What matters is how each of us uses those tools, and that is where things become more difficult to get a handle on in terms of positive/negative effects.

  38. bob

    Sheril, why were you not surprised by the reaction to Chris’ Templeton Fellowship? As usual, you did not provide a straight explanation of that point. On the contrary, as gillt pointed out, you actively avoided saying the word you were obviously alluding to: atheism.

    [To preempt the inevitable comment "it's not about atheism you obsessed pharyngula-loving dawkins-worshipper," I'll simply point out that Sheril has yet to express dismay about equally-strong (or stronger!) reactions to Chris' positions on antivaccination or AGW. So, can it. Unless of course Sheril would like to confirm that she is indeed dismayed, or perhaps explain why she isn't.]

    For my part, this is why I come here and make noise. It seems like things are never laid out clearly and straightforward answers are never provided, and that drives me bonkers! Everything is couched in weasel-words and “framed” carefully, but we are never ever shown the inner workings of this communication alchemy. We’re told to trust the experts, since after all they get prestigious fellowships!

    Which of course means that it could all be (i) completely arbitrary, or (ii) made up as M&K (and their old buddy Nisbet) go along. I used to give these guys the benefit of the doubt and think that it’s arbitrary, but I really think they’re just flying by the seat of their pants at this point.

  39. Milton C.

    There’s a basic question of ethics here: You need to keep your agendas distinct and not keep them hidden. Too many militant atheists see science as their own “wedge” to undercut religion and promote atheism (a “Wedge Document” in reverse). But by conflating science and atheism under the guise of popularizing science, they give people the impression that scientists believe that science and atheism are inextricably related.

    For example, when you go to Pharyngula and click on “About…”, you see plenty of stuff about Myers as a researcher in biology, but nothing about his track record and goals in promoting atheism.

    Precisely, sinz. We had a similar discussion months ago, where we pointed out that Jerry Coyne’s blog was something like 70 percent religion bashing, but the “about” section of WEIT describes Jerry as an evolutionary biologist at the University of Chicago, talks about how the purpose of the blog is to promote evolutionary biology, and even links to his professional scientific research program.

    There’s no reason for these folks to act confused if people conflate their personal atheism with the purpose of science, because they’re the ones throwing the fuel on that fire.

  40. GM

    The funny thing is, we assuredly agree on far more than whatever we’re at odds over on any given day.

    See, you have the bad habit of assuming without questioning things that either aren’t true or there is a very good chance they are false, and this leads you into a quite misguided view of reality.

    So for example, regarding that statement of yours, what exactly is it that we agree on:

    Let’s try and make a list:

    1. Science is good (no argument here)
    2. Creationism is bad
    3. AGW is real
    4. Denialism is bad
    5. (maybe) Religion is false

    So far so good, but I am afraid the list is over here, and if it is over here, this means that you are left completely clueless about the actual situation mankind finds itself right now, the causes of it, the relative significance of AGW in the whole mess (hint: only a part of it and not even the biggest) and the connection between that mess and religion. Which is the reason we completely disagree on what exactly is to be done about those problems. Note that this disagreement is not a mere dispute over the means to achieving the end, it is a disagreement originating from your complete failure to understand the actual problems.

  41. Busiturtle

    SLC @32

    Harrison Ford no more believes in AGW than I do. He demonstrates this lack of belief by embracing lifestyle choices that are completely at odds with what the science requires. He flies private airplanes for leisure and he is a carnivorous! The only difference between his behavior and that of Rush Limbaugh is Limbaugh is not going to wax his chest.

    I do not have a complaint with Harrison Ford, except to find his behavior amusing. I do have a problem with the self-appointed priests of the climate science cabal who will defame all who speak ill of their craft but who ignore the hypocrisy of those who say one thing and do another.

    The only difference between John Stossel and Harrison Ford on the subject of AGW is Stossel does not pretend to believe something he does not.

  42. bilbo

    I do not have a complaint with Harrison Ford

    Wow. I never would’ve thought that, seeing your earlier screed about him

  43. Gaythia

    I think that Wavefunction makes an important point regarding the urge to blog frequently, perhaps more frequently than a blogger has fresh topics or a new slant on a familiar one. It also must be harder for a blogger to monitor a blog on a continuous basis rather than an intermittent one. I think that responses by the blogger help to elevate the commentary. But the bloggers are entitled to a life.

    As a reader of blogs, I like the approach of Laelaps, which rewards me with a nice photograph when I happen to stop by, but no new post is yet available.

    Some blogs are way calmer than others. I think that this has a lot to do with the way that topics are framed. I believe that framing expertise could be further applied here to improve this blog and encourage intelligent comments while still continuing to address topics that create controversy.

  44. SLC

    Re Busiturtle

    Obviously, Mr. Busiturtle has no problem with the commentors on this and Phil Plaits’ blog who accuse Phil Jones and Michael Mann of being corrupt liars. As for Harrison Ford, I couldn’t care less about his opinions on climate change or any other scientific issue for that matter as he doesn’t know his posterior orifice from an excavation in tierra firma. Neither, by the way does Marc Morano the old swift boater.

  45. TB

    I’m guilty of reading the blog but commenting mostly on culture war threads.

    What I’d like to try to do is take a bit more time with post I might not otherwise comment on, and spend less time in the dirt with the trolls.

  46. Busiturtle

    Who is Phil Plait?

    I am a stranger, as we all are on this forum, yet SLC and bilbo keep making claims about me that are not only false but completely fabricated!

    And SLC, the more I read about Harrison Ford the more I like about him. He sounds a lot more fun to hang with than Sheryl Crow who will only spare a square if nature calls.

    Cheerio!

  47. Alexa

    As for Sheril, I would say that she doesn’t really blog on anything all that interesting to me. That’s just my flavor. She’s vanilla and I like rocky road. Her kissing theme isn’t interesting to me and her take on the sexual assault advocacy theme is something I agree with so strongly and take for granted in my personal thinking that I find nothing to interact with on those posts. I can’t remember other topics Sheril has posted on. (I’m not trying to be mean. I’m just one data point. Sheril can do just fine without me. But that’s my data point for what it’s worth. I don’t really remember what Sheril posts.)

    this brings up something really interesting I’ve noticed the past many months. It’s seems that whenever Sheril writes about something substantive other than these topics, commentors always assume she’s Chris. It’s annoying, but I think it explains this person’s comment.

  48. Philip Jr.

    Some blogs are way calmer than others. I think that this has a lot to do with the way that topics are framed. I believe that framing expertise could be further applied here to improve this blog and encourage intelligent comments while still continuing to address topics that create controversy.

    That’s a very true statement. It goes both ways in the Mooney/NA spats, too. The hyperbole doesn’t help. When Coyne wrote a bad review of UA, for example, it got portrayed here as a pathological habit of Coyne’s to write disingenuous book reviews. When Chris gets a fellowship award from a group that Coyne finds unsavory, Coyne accuses Chris of taking bribes and tries to make his career a conspiracy to get $15k. We could all stand a lot less hyperbole if we want to acutally discuss things and get anywhere, but the problem is that hyperbole is sexy. It gets you views and gets you noticed for being “outspoken.” “Chris Mooney is taking BRIBES!!!!!” paints a hell of a lot different picture than “Chris Mooney got a fellowship, but I have philosophical disagreements with the motives of the foundation he’s being funded under,” although they have virtually the same meaning. That meaning, though, is getting lost in the hyperbolic noise.

  49. Milton C.

    Philip Jr.’s post in #48 reminds me of a piece by Jon Stewart a few weeks ago (“The blogs must be crazy”) that skewered the hyperbolic nature of the blogosphere and its tendency to blow disagreements into silly, caricatured free-for-alls. For example, when Stewart criticized Rachel Maddow’s timing of a story regarding politics and the Haiti earthquake, the blogosphere responded with “STEWART EVISCERATES RACHEL MADDOW!!!!!!!!!!!”

    The same thing happens with the climate change and science-religion stuff here. If people have a problem with a lack of data in UA, the book becomes “utterly useless” with no redeeming value. If an atheist criticizes a post by Mooney, people like Coyne et al. call it an “utter takedown.” If two papers in the climate science field contradict one another, then all of climate science is in shambles, and so on. The blog world is a cartoon world.

  50. SLC

    Re Busiturtle

    Phil Plait is known as the Bad Astronomer who also blogs at Discovermagazine. Threads on his blog which deal with climate change also are also infested with clowns like Mr. Busiturtle.

    I have to admit to rattling Dr. Plaits’ cage on occasion over the issue of manned space flight, which he supports, by posting the contrarian comments of Prof. Bob Park (emeritus Professor of Physics at the Un. of Maryland), and Prof. Steven Weinberg (Professor of Physics at the Un. of Texas) , both of whom consider the manned space program to be a gigantic waste of money.

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/

  51. @47 Alexa

    It’s seems that whenever Sheril writes about something substantive other than these topics, commentors always assume she’s Chris.

    And here I thought I was the only one to notice ;)

    Yes, I unless I’m writing about women or posting weekend photos, my contributions are often attributed to Chris. Discover will be putting our names at the top of posts soon, so hopefully authorship will be clearer soon.

  52. Sorbet

    - reminds me of a piece by Jon Stewart a few weeks ago (”The blogs must be crazy”) that skewered the hyperbolic nature of the blogosphere and its tendency to blow disagreements into silly, caricatured free-for-alls.

    Congratulations! The blogs have finally decided to go the way of the MSM. Welcome to America.

    Re SLC: Add Carl Sagan to the list of people who considered manned space flight to be unnecessary and wasteful

  53. Milton C.

    Actually, Sorbet, when the “MSM” begins skewering blogs for being too hyperbolic, then you know we’ve got problems.

  54. gillt

    sinz54: “The honest thing to do is give balance to both sides: “I’m a biologist and my interests are….” followed by “I’m a proud atheist and my goals are to undercut religion, which I consider to be antiquated and even dangerous.”

    No, not precisely at all.

    The subtitle to Pharyngula reads:

    “Evolution, development, and random biological ejaculations from a godless liberal”

    You don’t have a case here.

  55. Vyspyr

    I didn’t know calling people murder enablers, “deluded fuckwits,” and encouraging those who cherish religion to violate themselves with rough broomstick handles had anything to do with biology. But to each his own, I suppose

  56. bilbo

    I’ll note that even Richard Dawkins has been grappling with the value of the similar internet entity of forums over on his blog. Apparently Richard doesn’t mind hurling out “hyperbole” and “over-the-top” language, but he himself gets “outraged” when others use it to the point of being simply dumbfounded why people should be so filled with hate instead of getting their arguments across rationally.

    Welcome to the Internet, Richard. and welcome to the beast of hyperbole that you have been integral in creating.

  57. Philip Jr.

    That’s sad but predictable, bilbo. Should one really be surprised that, when you encourage people to be as offensive and confrontational as possible about topics they don’t agree with, they’d carry over that mantle to something as trivial as an operational forum change?

    You do reap what you sow, after all.

  58. Dear Sheril,
    I think that 99% of the garbage to which you refer comes from blogging about something other than science on a science blog. Those blogs which report only on science have very little in the way of trolls, poseurs, or troublemakers.

    The thing is, for climate science no such site exists.

    There are a zillion denialist blogs, and hundreds of anti-denialist blogs, lots of basic information blogs. But nowhere is there a blog that describes the most recent cool climatological summaries of the past week or month.

    One of the reasons climate skeptics exist is that climatologists don’t present themselves like normal scientists.

    Astronomers, biologists, physicists revel in all the crazy, wondrous, unbelievable things in the world. They amaze us with the intricate, byzantine ways of deducing grand movements from a tiny deviation in signal. Climate scientists do this too, but we never hear about it. Instead they turn into moralistic drones whenever they get near the press.

    As a result, it is not surprising that skeptics distrust climate science. It isn’t presented like real science.

    The sad thing is, all this awesome research is still going on. There’s a recent paper where marine sedimentologists looking for clues to the Younger Dryas instead traced the spread of Islam through Africa by the increase in sedimentation, and change in pollen species, caused by goat farming.

    But we never hear about that kind of thing. All we hear is bad Al Gore impersonations. And over the past 4 years, science blogging has gotten more academic, monotone, and stuffy, not less. So blogs aren’t filling the void left by mainstream climate coverage.

  59. bob

    You guys aren’t even trying anymore. As gillt recently noticed wrt the description of PZ’s blog, you people are just making crap up to fit your arguments.

    Please, prove me wrong. Show me how Richard Dawkins was “integral” in making the internet a “beast of hyperbole,” bilbo. Show me where Richard Dawkins “encourage[d] people to be as offensive and confrontational as possible,” Philip Jr. Please, show me.

    Sheril, you are certainly right to wonder about the utility of this particular science blog, at least.

  60. Philip Jr.

    bob,

    Richard is an exquisitely kind man in person, but his whole reputation in the world of nonbelief is based on motivating the angry masses to be just that: angry masses. The mantra of many Dawkins fans is based around acting as offended as possible, to begin with (“I am offended!!!”).

    When you make your living urging others to call their fellow humans child abusers, molesters, and associates to genocide because they sit in pews on Sundays, getting mad about someone calling you an “utter twat” seems pretty irrelevant.

  61. bilbo

    If you let those who base their philosophical arguments solely on name-calling and taunts, bob, don’t be surprised when you finally piss them off and they turn the name-calling guns on you. That’s hardly a difficult concept to grasp outside of the world of irreconcilable groupthink. In fact, it’s inevitable.

  62. Gaythia

    Name calling begets name calling. Continuing in this mode is not inevitable.

    Richard Dawkins has written some great books and has made some intriguing statements such as the following, which has nothing to do with motivating angry masses:

    “There’s real poetry in the real world. Science is the poetry of reality”.

    Climate scientists are justifiably frustrated by having to operate in such a politicized and frequently antagonistic atmosphere. I think we can help the most by aiding in increasing the understanding of the basic principles of weather and climate among the general public.

    We should be teaching the science and not the controversy.

  63. gillt

    Re Lab Lemming: I think the blog “Few Things Illconsidered” has pretty much what you say is missing on the internets in its “Another Week of GW News” posts.

  64. bilbo

    Gaythia, I believe that was Philip’s point. Dawkins is an incredibly skilled writer, but when you couple your brilliance with name-calling to evoke primitive emotion, guess which one you’ll become known for the most.

  65. Sheril, I am sad to say that what you are saying is what I was saying will inevitably happen since at least 3 years. This evolution we are seeing in the comments has been the same evolution with electronic forums, with chat groups, and with newsgroups around 1994-95. But why are we not seeing it coming each time? Because each time, the most vehement promoters of these new tools are the only ones we want to listen. They are promising an utopian world where everybody will be equal, where rational discussion will become the standard, and we are naive enough to believe them.

    Nevertheless, I do believe that blogs are a huge progress, and that the possibility that everybody can speak their mind is spectacular, since 10 years ago the only opportunity would have been one letter a year in their local newspaper. But as sad as it may seems, I think that comments are sometimes entirely a waste of time, especially when they arrive to the point where people do not want to dialogue —in fact they even do not understand what dialogue means.

    I do believe it is only a matter of education. I am sure that one day, people will understand that it is no more acceptable to insult on the web that it would be in their living room. But I fear that this moment could take a long time.

  66. First, let me say that I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment that a lot of the people who would benefit the most from reading science blogs most likely do not read science blogs (at least it stands to reason that one who does not place much stock or interest in science will not spend time reading science blogs, regardless of how vitriolic or accommodating their tone may be). That being said, there is no reason to throw the baby out with the bath water…
    1. I think you confuse atheism blogs (that happen to be hosted or written by scientists) with science blogs. A blog that is (at least mostly) about science should be (at least mostly) impartial, filled with interesting data and findings, and thus, only offensive to people who would deny science for political or other motives.
    2. I don’t think you give the public much credit either if you think all of science blogging is spoiled by a few “bad apples”. I happen to read and enjoy both this blog and Pharyngula (as well as many others) and I should hope I am discerning and free thinking enough to agree and disagree with both at different times. I’d like to think that many people follow a similar strategy, reading many blogs, and seeing many viewpoints, all of which they cannot simultaneously agree with, except where all of the viewpoints converge, which is where the real science gets dispensed (i.e. global warming is real and impacted by human activities).
    Finally, an absolutist science blog would, I think, refrain from making claims about how blogs foster affirmation of beliefs and intolerance of opposing viewpoints without presenting data to back up such a claim. But, let’s face it, there is no such thing as an absolute science blog. We all inject pieces of our personality and viewpoints into what we write, and often, even scientists express beliefs for which we have no data (even if related research suggests what we are saying may be true). Some bloggers get more carried away with how much personality (vs. how much science) their blogs contain, but to say that all of science blogging (or even your own personal contributions) should be questioned for their value seems to me to be allowing hurt pride to get in the way of a noble mission: to provide knowledge to people who seek it.

  67. Gaythia

    As Pascal Lapointe states, our objective is to open a dialogue.

    I don’t think that blogs are a totally unique form of human communication, or that problems with respectful conversation only started with electronic forums.

    As scientists, we should certainly not fear being presented with actual evidence that might prove some of our initial assumptions wrong.

    It is helpful, even necessary, to attempt to rise above and help others rise above primitive emotional responses.

    There will be people who we can’t dialogue with. This does not mean we should sink to their level.

  68. Philip Jr.

    There will be people who we can’t dialogue with. This does not mean we should sink to their level

    Precisely my outlook.

  69. I hate to inform Ms. Kirshenbaum but the internet is a tough place where bare knuckle brawls are the norm. My advice is that if one can’t stand the heat, one should get out of the kitchen.

    Indeed.

    Clearly Sheril never experienced the wild and wooly world of Usenet back in its heyday in the 1990s through the early 2000s, before web-based discussion forums and blogging in essence killed it to the point where many ISPs don’t even maintain a Usenet server anymore. If Sheril thinks the blogosphere is nasty, I can show her some discussions in various newsgroups that would show her that the blogosophere is relatively tame. There are threads where I was labeled a pedophile, among the milder things they called me, all for doing two things (1) opposing Holocaust denial and (2) arguing for science in medicine. I recall one thread where an elderly WWII vet was taunted as a “murderer” by a neo-Nazi because he was a fighter pilot who had engaged in strafing and bombing runs. The list goes on.

    None of this is anything new at all, of course. Only the youngsters coming to it are new. Having never seen it before, they think that somehow the blogosphere is getting nastier when in reality it’s just a massive case of confirmation bias. Of course, if someone could show me some data somewhere to substantiate the claim that the blogosphere is getting progressively nastier, like any good skeptic I’d be open to possibly changing my mind if the evidence is sufficiently compelling, but absent that all this handwringing about how horrible the blogosphere has allegedly become betrays a profound lack of experience and knowledge of the history of online discussion forums.

    God, I feel old after having said that.

  70. @70 Orac,
    Come now Orac, you know our blog. The purpose of this post was not to say I surprised about the tone. But you–of all bloggers–realize that blogs are a large part of the reason that the anti-vaxx movement ramped up, as well as many other pseudoscience claims. (Not their cause, but assuredly a tool to grow.)

    So you didn’t address the question: Do you think the positives of such blogs outweigh the negatives?

  71. bsci

    There’s a huge swath of science bloggers that aren’t involved in these arguments and a huge number of high quality science blogs. There is some insularity & echo chambers, but there’s also a huge amount of communication. There are scientists might never have given deep thought to gender or race issues in science, but are now deeply part of the discussions. There are people across fields who are finding commonalities they didn’t realize. There are entire textbooks worth of well written basic educational material spanning many blogs. The positives definitely outweigh the negatives.

    I’m a semi-regular reader of your work and I like it, but I have one major critique. Both of you repeatedly throw personal attacks towards other people. You’ve published a book which included some of those personal attacks. Still, you seem surprised when some of those people being personally attacked by you direct attacks back at you. I don’t care about who started what, but if you want to decrease the personal attacks, stop making them!

    The intersections and dialogs between science and religion are important. You have yet to provide any polling or other hard evidence that the “new atheists” are harming that dialogue. If you can’t provide that evidence then why are you and Chris spending so much of your time and mental energy writing about them?

    Much could be said about religion and science without mentioning the new atheists. If you stop defining them as your opposition then, slowly, they might stop acting like opposition. Present positive examples of science intersecting with religion and fewer examples of atheists arguing against religion.

    Here’s a semi-scientific experiment. How about neither of you mention atheism or “those skewering religion” for the next 2 or 3 months and see what happens to the personal attacks in the comment section of your blog. I know both of you have more than enough interesting things to say without these attack posts and I’d like to read more of it.

  72. Paul

    @71

    You’re being too specific. Most of the hardcore anti-vaxx type sites are not “Science Blogs” in that there is major focus on the bloggers themselves, with comments heavily censored. You’re comparing unlike things.

    What really allowed anti-vaxxers and climate denialists to get their point of view out is the mass media. Bad journalists providing false balance. Why are you not asking if the positives of mass media outweigh the negatives? And even if there were not blogs, they could get their false information out via Usenet, message forums, or simply vanilla web sites. Why are you not asking if the internet, on balance, is positive or negative?

    Focusing excessively on “science blogs” being a medium for transmitting pseudoscience seems silly. It’s one of many channels, and one of the least likely to convince a layperson of falsehoods.

  73. Philip Jr in #5 says: “PZ let someone who agreed with him on a post the other day suggest that a dissenting commenter sodomize himself with rusty kitchen implements, but then later banned a dissenting commenter for repeatedly using the word “stupid.””

    Wait, what? Ban someone for using the word “stupid”? That is simply not true. I log everyone who gets banned, and it really takes a lot of obsessive, repetitive behavior to get kicked out…or stupid stuff like pasting in an entire chapter of a book, or changing usernames to give an impression of a mob agreeing with some point.

    It’s also completely false to claim it has something to do with whether someone agrees with me or not. For example, some wanker calling himself ivankaramazov showed up at the blog just yesterday to heap insults on me — he’s not at risk for banning at all, unless he carries through into the kind of inflammatory behaviors that do get people banned.

    The rest of your comment is about as worthless as your dishonesty would suggest.

  74. Gaythia

    Sherril, regarding your exchange with Orac, I think some background in history is called for. The world has long been a rough and tumble place, with various attempts at freedom of expression and many mechanisms by powerful interests to squash such freedoms.

    Yellow journalism in the gilded age of the late 1800′s bears some resemblance to current times. I believe that Orac would find the 1960′s battles with the John Birch Society regarding the fluoridation of public water supplies to have analogies with those with the contemporary anti-vax movement.

    Many such analogies could be made.

  75. Sheril:

    So you didn’t address the question: Do you think the positives of such blogs outweigh the negatives?

    You didn’t answer it, either. I assume we get to imply that since you haven’t simply shut down this blog, your opinion favors the positives? But then, your article only deplores science blogging (at least, the modern form, not the SciBlogging of the long ago Golden Age). So it’s not at all clear where you stand, which means you don’t get to berate others into giving an answer when you won’t yourself.

  76. Philip Jr.

    It really takes a lot of obsessive, repetitive behavior to get kicked out…or stupid stuff like pasting in an entire chapter of a book, or changing usernames to give an impression of a mob agreeing with some point…For example, some wanker calling himself ivankaramazov showed up at the blog just yesterday to heap insults on me — he’s not at risk for banning at all, unless he carries through into the kind of inflammatory behaviors that do get people banned.

    OK, PZ. So if “inflammatory behavior” is what you deem appropriate for banning, then can you explain to us how “pasting in an entire book chapter” is more inflammatory than all of the following tidbits from posts on Pharyngula (some of which have even been awarded Mollies and are still allowed to post such lovely tidbits on a regular basis)?

    “Go f*** yourself with a rusty chainsaw…”
    “You condescending little s***, you can go f*** yourself and f*** your stupid libertarian a**hole…”
    “Go f*** yourself, you useless s***-eating c**stain.”
    “GO F*** YOURSELF WITH SOMETHING JAGGED.”
    “Oh go f*** yourself you pathetic subhuman lying scumbag”
    “go f*** yourself with the the business end of an extra large bellows”
    “Karol, go f*** yourself up the a**…Then die in a f***ing fire.”
    “Go f*** yourself with a tire iron.”

    I understand that it’s your blog, and thus your rules. But I’m getting a bit confused between what you say (inflammatory behavior gets you banned) and what reality says (inflammatory behavior gets you banned…but usually only if you’re a dissenter. If you agree with PZ and use the same inflammatory behavior, it occasionally gets you a Molly award).

  77. bilbo

    If “inflammatory behavior” is the sole criterion for banishment on Pharyngula, I’m Michelle Obama. I actually got banned from Pharyngula because I (according to PZs log) “threw out insults.” In turn, many of these ‘insults’ that got me banned were me using religious allusions to refer to Pharyngulites.

    On the other hand, if you say (to quote a recent poster who was awarded by PZ), “go f*** yourself with a splintered broomhandle,” you get a hearty pat on the back. Oh no, my friends, “inflammatory behavior” is not what gets you banned. Inflammatory behavior that underlies a simple opinion that is counter to the majority is what gets you banned from Pharyngula. Inflammatory behavior in line with the majority, in fact, gets you awarded.

    (Oh, and PZ, to respond to your apparently non-inflammatory statement about whether or not I have “learned to masturbate in public,” I have not. It is my one true flaw.)

    But thank you for exmplifying inflammatory behavior for us. Stay classy.

  78. Milton C.

    Mr. Myers, I’m a frequent reader or Pharyngula and, although it’s entertaining, you hardly ban people for “inflammatory behavior.” You admittedly will ban someone for pasting a book chapter into a comment box, but when someone (with whom you agree) suggests that another poster (with whom you disagree) sodomize themselves with farm inplements and/or commit suicide – all with sexually-explicit references sprinkled throughout – you either do nothing or, occasionally, reward them for the “best and most deserving of acknowledgement” content.

    In the end, you get to decide who gets banned and who doesn’t (because it’s your blog, after all), but could you spare us the incredibly dishonest statement that “inflammatory behavior” is what can get someone banned from a blog? I have to wonder if that was some kind of joke.

    Like I said, Pharyngula is entertaining, but it’s hardly a bastion of intelligent discussion. And that’s precisely where science blogs begin to lose their value (to get marginally back on-topic).

  79. Philip Jr.

    Wow. Looks like my above sentiment was not alone. To get back on topic (as Milton C. suggested), examples like we’ve seen above are some of the negatives of science blogging. As Chris and Sheril correctly said in UA, science blogs (like any other blog) become a haven for like-minded individuals and, in this one case being discussed, seem to have the nasty side-effect of letting some rather “inflammatory behavior” stand if it reflects one viewpoint while letting equal or less-inflammatory behavior serve as justification for banning if it reflects an opposing one. On Pharyngula, if someone says “go f*** yourself” but aligns with the status quo, people cheer it on, while if someone says the exact same thing, the overall reaction is often one of shock or dismay. That’s simply groupthink exemplified. That doesn’t have to be a problem with science blogs, as long as such blogs don’t pass themselves off as a place for objective discussion. Science doesn’t (or at least shouldn’t) get mired in mushyminded groupthink. Maybe we should stop calling such places “science blogs” if that’s the case? I don’t know.

    OK, I’ll step back and let the flaming consume me.

  80. bilbo

    Just to correct myself if I painted a false image, I don’t pretend to not be a troll. I am one here, for goodness sake, so I certainly was on Pharyngula. I was engaged in some similar, if not less inflammatory, rhetoric to regular posters there.

  81. gillt

    If you think you were banned for trivial reasons bilbo, try apologizing profusely for bad behavior. It seemed to work for you here.

  82. Seminatrix

    OK, PZ. So if “inflammatory behavior” is what you deem appropriate for banning, then can you explain to us how “pasting in an entire book chapter” is more inflammatory than all of the following tidbits from posts on Pharyngula (some of which have even been awarded Mollies and are still allowed to post such lovely tidbits on a regular basis)?

    “Go f*** yourself with a rusty chainsaw…”
    “You condescending little s***, you can go f*** yourself and f*** your stupid libertarian a**hole…”
    “Go f*** yourself, you useless s***-eating c**stain.”
    “GO F*** YOURSELF WITH SOMETHING JAGGED.”
    “Oh go f*** yourself you pathetic subhuman lying scumbag”
    “go f*** yourself with the the business end of an extra large bellows”
    “Karol, go f*** yourself up the a**…Then die in a f***ing fire.”
    “Go f*** yourself with a tire iron.”

    Wow. Now I realize why people here decry Pharyngula so much as a waste of internet space. Talk about an echo chamber….that sounds more like an anger-management therapy group.

  83. Petra

    I can vouch for the examples by PJ, Milton, and bilbo. I’ve been kindly asked to go kill myself (after violating myself with various kinds inanimate objects) at Pharyngula simply for expressing an opinion, sans insults or rhetoric, that over-the-top behavior is a turn-off to many, such as myself. I’ve got a thick skin and expected to get criticism there for saying that, but does suggesting someone “die” for simply expressing an opinion that you don’t agree with have any “value?” Of course not. That’s precisely the problem with some science blogs…if they can even be called such.

    and, of course, my above case went unmoderated, while Dr. Myers claims to loathe “inflammatory behavior.” Give. Me. A. Break.

  84. Rev. BigDumbChimp

    and, of course, my above case went unmoderated, while Dr. Myers claims to loathe “inflammatory behavior.” Give. Me. A. Break.

    And you of course know exactly what he means by inflammatory behavior, right?

  85. Petra

    Of course I do, good reverend. That’s exactly my point. To the rest of the planet, suggesting that the best course of action is for someone to kill themselves (to be specific, set yourself “on fire and die”) rather than hold a contradictory opinion is considered inflammatory behavior (literal and figurative, in this case!!). And, if someone with a contradictory opinion on Pharyngula suggests such a thing, they’re usually banned.

    The problem is that when the opposite happens (someone with a harmonious opinion to PZ with regards to the topic at hand) says the exact same thing, nothing happens. In other words, PZ seems to be judging not objectively on behavior but on the behavior’s source. Which, of course, is the problem many of us have been highlighting: he’s not holding everyon to his own avowed standards equally.

    But that’s the old main problem with blogs to begin with, isn’t it?

  86. Philip Jr.

    If telling someone to commit suicide simply because they disagree with you isn’t “inflammatory behavior” by anyone’s definition, Rev. Chimp, they need a new label for what they’re calling inflammatory.

  87. J. J. Ramsey

    Rev. Chimp: “And you of course know exactly what he means by inflammatory behavior, right?”

    There’s also the matter that what’s on Myers’ dungeon page isn’t entirely accurate. For example, citing his daughter as an example of a strident atheist by pointing out that she had made a broad-brush insult against theists is considered insulting his daughter, and he has redefined the words “several times, after being warned” to be a synonym for “once.” If his page can’t be relied upon to give the straight story as to why someone was banned, how can it be a guide as to what constitutes inflammable behavior?

  88. bilbo

    The New Atheism is all about selective standards, Philip. They judge the merit of everything based solely on its source. Or, to quote Jerry Coyne’s old student, Dr. H. Allen Orr, “they (New Atheists) judge the validity of arguments based solely on where they lead.”

    The same holds true for blog comments too, apparently.

  89. Wowbagger

    PZ admits straight out that loathes some kinds of inflammatory behaviours but not others. His exact quote was ‘the kind of inflammatory behaviors that do get people banned‘.

    Not the same thing.

    Yes, telling someone to commit suicide is clearly inflammatory, as Philip Jr. noted – but that’s not the same as ‘the kind of inflammatory behaviors that do get people banned‘, since it’s not amongst the behaviours he’s listed as bannable transgressions.

    He’s saying ‘you can’t cross the road right here where it says don’t cross‘ while you’re insisting he’s saying ‘you can’t cross the road at all, ever.

  90. Knockgoats

    Anyone can read what gets you banned at Pharyngula, both in general and from a list of specific cases (everyone who has been banned is on it) by following Rev BDC’s link. But of course that would require actually caring about accuracy, and it’s evident most here wouldn’t recognise that if it bit them on the bum. The relief when that uber-tedious self-confessed troll “bilbo” was banned was indescribable. The whingers and delicate flowers who have taken refuge here are not missed, either.

  91. J. J. Ramsey

    Knockgoats: “Anyone can read what gets you banned at Pharyngula, both in general and from a list of specific cases”

    As I had pointed out already, that list isn’t quite accurate, so no, it’s not as helpful as it might be as a list of bannable offenses. Or did you miss the part where he used “several times, after being warned” to mean “once”? Either PZ Myers is lying or he didn’t check his facts, which makes him negligent.

  92. bilbo

    Knockgoats: “Anyone can read what gets you banned at Pharyngula, both in general and from a list of specific cases”

    As I had pointed out already, that list isn’t quite accurate, so no, it’s not as helpful as it might be as a list of bannable offenses.

    If you read PZ’s log, I “masturbate in public.” Case in point.

  93. Philip Jr.

    That’s a pretty weak description, wowbagger – and an incredibly rambling rationalization for why PZ seemingly finds people suggesting that others commit suicide just fine but pasting book exceprts he doesn’t like utterly reprehensible.

    A little reality would be much appreciated from you.

  94. Seminatrix

    Of course PZ has no problem with people uttering violent threats and sexually-motivated invectives at dissenting commenters – because that’s what he’s built his blog (and reputation) around. Asking PZ to quell the violence references and lewd, childish taunts would be akin to asking Rush Limbaugh to not raise his voice.

    If you took out the posts and comment threads on Pharyngula that are just written to offend and have little, if nothing, at all to do with writing about science, you’d be left with a smattering of posts about peer-reviewed articles PZ didn’t enjoy and a scattering of weekly photos of animals. And PZ would have no book, about 69 less million views on his website, and would be an unknown biologist who hasn’t published a peer-reviewed article in years mired in the tenure dungeon at an unknown university. In other words, violent suggestions and sex-crime talk is what PZ Myers and Pharyngula literally are.

    …which raises the inevitable question: is this really a “science blog?” I would argue no.

  95. Knockgoats

    If you read PZ’s log, I “masturbate in public.” – bilbo

    A metaphorical description, as of course both you and anyone who reads it knows, but it gives a vivid picture of just how disgusting your antics were.

    J.J. Ramsey,

    Not knowing you, without specific links to the incidents in question, I’m not simply going to take your word that your account is accurate.

  96. Knockgoats

    If you took out the posts and comment threads on Pharyngula that are just written to offend and have little, if nothing, at all to do with writing about science, you’d be left with a smattering of posts about peer-reviewed articles PZ didn’t enjoy and a scattering of weekly photos of animals. – seminatrix

    That’s a bare-faced lie, as anyone can discover by going to Pharyngula and typing into the searc htoo (for example) “Category evo-devo”.

  97. bilbo

    Of course it was metaphorical….and you just admitted that Pz’s log is, in fact, not a list of specific, accurate, legitimate infractions.

    Thanks.

  98. Knockgoats

    Bilbo,
    No I didn’t. Metaphors can be accurate, and that one was extremely so.

  99. bilbo

    Metaphors are, by definition, comparisons between two things that are not literally applicable.

    You’re forcing your insults, Knockgoats. Stop trying so hard to score yourself a molly, and they’ll come to you more freely.

  100. Knockgoats

    Here’s the specific, accurate, legitimate account of bilbo’s infractions: “Standard tedious troll. Threw out insults, and claimed that replying to them would be proof of their validity.” That is followed by the colourful but spot-on metaphor about public masturbation.

    Of course PZ has no problem with people uttering violent threats – seminatrix
    Examples of such threats? Telling people to commit suicide, by the way, is not a threat.

  101. J. J. Ramsey

    You can start here for a fuller explanation, which has the links to the relevant posts: irrationalrationalist.com/home/miscellaneous/setting-the-record-straight-on-how-i-got-in-p-z-myers-doghouse

    You can, of course, search Pharyngula to find out whether his claim about repeated insults to his daughter holds up. And if you wonder if the disemvoweled posts in the thread on the Courtier’s Reply contain said insults, here they are, in all their lack of inflammation …

    GH: “And he does point out the seperation of religious claims from others is invalid.”

    Fair enough, then. Orr then is wrong on that point; Dawkins has “follow[ed] philosophical debates about the nature of religious propositions”. I stand corrected.

    Caledonian: “In any case, Ramsey is incorrect. The placeholder for a ‘god’ isn’t the Emperor, it’s his new clothes”

    Ahem, from my post above: “In the case of the naked emperor, the X is the clothing. In the case of The God Delusion, the X is God.”

    PZ Myers: “what is it with people who think it’s OK to tear into Dawkins on 2nd or 3rd hand echoes of what he actually wrote?”

    Pieret and I are here reacting as much to the comments made in defense of Dawkins and against Orr as much as to Dawkins himself. You tried to reduce Orr’s review to the Courtier’s Reply, and I pointed out the problems with that. Of course, Orr could have–and judging from GH, did–get some of Dawkins wrong, but not in the way that you described.

    As for Rosenhouse’s thread, the argument mainly revolved around the weaknesses of the “who designed the designer” argument, which Dawkins had put forth well before he even wrote The God Delusion.

    –next post–

    “the high-test theological parts of religion are still one of the best illustrations of a degenerating problem shift I know of.”

    Agreed. One problem I see is who is going to read a book entitled The God Delusion, someone who is into the red-blooded religion or someone who is starting to sense this degenerating problem shift but is still clinging or trying to fend back this sense?

    –next post–

    Rich: “I think that Don is misrepresenting the doctrine of original sin.”

    Sort of. See here: [link to newadvent.org/cathen/11312a.htm#VII]
    This bit is interesting:

    “St. Basil attributes to us the act of the first man: ‘Because we did not fast (when Adam ate the forbidden fruit) we have been turned out of the garden of Paradise’ (Hom. i de jejun., iv). Earlier still is the testimony of St. Irenaeus; ‘In the person of the first Adam we offend God, disobeying His precept’ (Haeres., V, xvi, 3)….

    “‘without absurdity it may be said to be voluntary’ (St. Augustine, “Retract.”, I, xiii).”

    I think the “without absurdity” part is disputable, to put it politely.

  102. Knockgoats

    I already have a Molly, bilbo (under another name). As for insults, I wouldn’t waste a good one here, where it won’t be appreciated.

  103. Milton C.

    you took out the posts and comment threads on Pharyngula that are just written to offend and have little, if nothing, at all to do with writing about science, you’d be left with a smattering of posts about peer-reviewed articles PZ didn’t enjoy and a scattering of weekly photos of animals. And PZ would have no book, about 69 less million views on his website, and would be an unknown biologist who hasn’t published a peer-reviewed article in years mired in the tenure dungeon at an unknown university. In other words, violent suggestions and sex-crime talk is what PZ Myers and Pharyngula literally are.

    …which raises the inevitable question: is this really a “science blog?” I would argue no.

    A very relevant point, and one that leads into another. Too many “science blogs” aren’t really blogs about science but are just blogs, written by scientists. Pharyngula is certainly one of the latter cases. WEIT started off as a mostly science blog, went down the road to groupthink irrelevancy, and has recently started to have a bit more science-oriented posts which are actually fairly decent and have offered some bit of redemption. Knockgoats is attacking his own little strawman by pointing out that, because some science exists on Pharyngula, this isn’t the case. But it is. Anyone with half a brain can see that.

    Although I very rarely, if ever, agree with their opinions, Chris and Sheril actually do more blogging about science here – and they’re not even practicing scientists! That’s why I choose to spend the majority of my time here versus other blogs, who are just written by scientists but are meant to be support groups for those with like-minded worldviews, with science sprinkled in only occasionally…just enough to let ScienceBlogs host them.

    That’s a troubling trend for science blogging, in my opinion. Blogs are getting passed off as representing something they do not.

  104. Knockgoats

    J.J.Ramsey,

    Won’t do. You made the charge, so you link to the actual place where the incident occurred if you want to be taken seriously.

  105. Knockgoats

    It’s a veritable convention of Pharyngula rejects here, isn’t it? Do I smell sour grapes, perchance?

  106. Bilbo was banned for, and I quote his own words, “I’m only taunting to piss them off.” He was intentionally trolling to stir up a lot of noise. It was a blatant admission that he had no interest in discussion, so he was kicked out. No loss.

    Ramsey was banned because he’s a rather revolting coward who decided my daughter was fair game for his contempt. You want to criticize me, criticize me, not my family. He frequently whines that he only did it once, as if that excuses his behavior. I think once is enough.

    As usual, Philip Jr lies. He says, “if someone says “go f*** yourself” but aligns with the status quo, people cheer it on, while if someone says the exact same thing, the overall reaction is often one of shock or dismay”. This is completely false. I do not censor rudeness or crude language from anyone. Try it. On Pharyngula, you can tell me to “go f*** yourself”, and nothing will happen. You might get laughed at if that’s all you’ve got to say, but this snide and dishonest insinuation that only people on my side get any latitude is simply wrong.

    And no, posting book excerpts is not a problem, whether I like them or not. Posting a full 6400 word chapter as a great big bolus of text is simply mindless spamming — it wouldn’t matter if it were from Lives of the Saints or Structure of Evolutionary Theory. It will get you banned for abusing my latitude in allowing a liberal amount of space for commenting. If somebody tried it here, I suspect it would also get your posting privileges shut down.

    And yeah, Bilbo is a wanker. It looks like he’s found a home here, at least.

  107. Seminatrix

    From the Pharyngula archives:

    posts about “science” – 830

    posts about “godlessness” – 975

    and any argument that PZ’s reputation is not built off of allowing his blog to be a place where nonbelievers can come and engage in suggestions of violence, sex crimes, and general inflammatory hatespew against religious believers is just a silly, irrelevant one, Knockgoats.

    Even most of us nonbelievers admit that.

  108. Knockgoats

    seminatrix,

    You lied. I called you on it. Simple as that.

  109. bilbo

    Bilbo was banned for, and I quote his own words, “I’m only taunting to piss them off.” He was intentionally trolling to stir up a lot of noise.

    In other words, I was doing exactly what many of your other commenters do on a daily basis. Your woollyheaded selectivity is duly noted. And to think, I always thought being a rational thinker elevated one above such foolishness. Apparently sycophantics and cronyism are enough to fill the void of once-held religious beliefs when it comes to deluding even the most self-avowed rationalist.

  110. Seminatrix

    A hurried attempt at post-evasion, I see, Knockgoats. You’ve been taking lessons from the science denialists we get here so often, haven’t you?

  111. Petra

    Bilbo was banned for, and I quote his own words, “I’m only taunting to piss them off.” He was intentionally trolling to stir up a lot of noise. It was a blatant admission that he had no interest in discussion

    So, let me get this straight, PZ. You banned bilbo beause he was intentionally stirring up noise and taunting people, with no interest in discussion.

    So, explain to us how someone repeatedly asking others to “f*** themselvles with a rusty chainsaw,” “go die in a fire after f***ing yourself in ass,” and the like warrants you not banning them. In other words, how do such statements NOT “intentionally stir up noise” and “taunt people?” You’re a rational guy, so there’s got to be some clear rationale behind this besides using your agreement/disagreement with individuals, right?

    (and for the record, Knockgoats, I’m not a “Pharyngula exile.” I’ve never even posted over there. I’m just wholly confused at the doublespeak we seem to be getting here.)

  112. Knockgoats

    You’re lying again, seminatrix. Here is the entire exchange between us:

    If you took out the posts and comment threads on Pharyngula that are just written to offend and have little, if nothing, at all to do with writing about science, you’d be left with a smattering of posts about peer-reviewed articles PZ didn’t enjoy and a scattering of weekly photos of animals. – seminatrix

    That’s a bare-faced lie, as anyone can discover by going to Pharyngula and typing into the searc htoo (for example) “Category evo-devo”. – Me

    From the Pharyngula archives:
    .br
    posts about “science” – 830
    .br
    posts about “godlessness” – 975
    .br
    and any argument that PZ’s reputation is not built off of allowing his blog to be a place where nonbelievers can come and engage in suggestions of violence, sex crimes, and general inflammatory hatespew against religious believers is just a silly, irrelevant one, Knockgoats.
    .br
    Even most of us nonbelievers admit that.
    – seminatrix

    seminatrix, You lied. I called you on it. Simple as that. – Me

    A hurried attempt at post-evasion, I see, Knockgoats. You’ve been taking lessons from the science denialists we get here so often, haven’t you? – seminatrix

    Note that seminatrix does not address the point I made – that seminatrix told a bare-faced lie – at all. This is because, of course, the charge of lying was absolutely true: 830 posts is not a “smattering”, nor do they consist solely or mainly of “posts about peer-reviewed articles PZ didn’t enjoy and a scattering of weekly photos of animals.”, as anyone can check for themselves. The charge of “evasion” is thus a classic example of projection. It’s unwise to lie, seminatrix, when your lies are so readily detected.

  113. Paul

    if nothing, at all to do with writing about science, you’d be left with a smattering of posts about peer-reviewed articles PZ didn’t enjoy and a scattering of weekly photos of animals.

    posts about “science” – 830

    Yea, Knockgoats is the one being evasive.

  114. Knockgoats

    Anyone who reviews the exchange between seminatrix and me can readily see who is evading.

  115. Milton C.

    Bilbo was banned for, and I quote his own words, “I’m only taunting to piss them off.” He was intentionally trolling to stir up a lot of noise. It was a blatant admission that he had no interest in discussion

    OK. Intentionally stirring up noise and taunts are clearly cause for banning an individual. I get that.

    …but I fail to see the logic behind what allows you excuse things like “go f*** yourself with a rusty chainsaw” and “why don’t you just go and die?” if those are your standards. What you say still isn’t matching up with what you seem to mean. You seem to be judging equally ridiculous comments solely on their source, which is the mindless selectivity we’ve all been talking about.

    If there’s some underlying logic behind what excuses those statements from being deemed “taunts” and noise-stirrers, by all means – let’s have it!

  116. Philip Jr.

    I hardly see how any blog who posts a majority of posts about religion can be deemed a science blog. But ok.

  117. Philip Jr.

    OK. Intentionally stirring up noise and taunts are clearly cause for banning an individual. I get that.

    …but I fail to see the logic behind what allows you excuse things like “go f*** yourself with a rusty chainsaw” and “why don’t you just go and die?” if those are your standards. What you say still isn’t matching up with what you seem to mean. You seem to be judging equally ridiculous comments solely on their source, which is the mindless selectivity we’ve all been talking about.

    If there’s some underlying logic behind what excuses those statements from being deemed “taunts” and noise-stirrers, by all means – let’s have it!

    I agree. I’m still seeing a pretty blatant double-standrd here. If there’s some logic behind this that excludes it from passing through a simple, opinion-based mental spam filter, I’d like to see it. Because something smells fishy.

    But I’m just a pathological liar, so what do I know?

  118. This seems to be very hard for you to grasp.

    If someone were to post nothing but “go f*** yourself with a rusty chainsaw” over and over, with no other commentary, yes, they would get banned. But not for the profanity or the rudeness — that’s simply not something I police at all, from either side. It doesn’t mean I approve of the sentiment, but my approval of the point of view simply doesn’t matter.

    Intentionally trolling — repeating the same stuff over and over, not responding to discussion (or even announcing that any discussion with him validates his points, as Bilbo said) is just adding noise. It gets pruned. And as has already been shown, Bilbo openly admitted to trolling the blog.

    I suspect you’re one of those prudish little prissy pants who reads someone’s post and only notices profanity, completely ignoring anything of substance they might say otherwise. I ignore the cussin’ as irrelevant, and if someone is engaged in a discussion, I don’t care how they’re saying stuff.

  119. Thomas H.

    Good heavens. PZ Myers is doing about as bad of a job defending his blog moderation as the science denialists do backing up their statements about climate science. So much for worrying about him as a force for logic in our world…

  120. Milton C.

    PZ:

    First off, thanks for exemplifying your point about how people sprinkle impish bullshit in their arguments by calling me a “sissy pants.” Duly noted.

    Now, to wade through the pile of feces to whatever relevant point you’ve chosen to bury within it. I went back to search for what bilbo had posted on your blog. And, outside of the one thread that got him banned (where he really DIDN’T do anything but troll), bilbo had posted some actual argument on many other past threads. Admittedly, his arguments weren’t very right (sorry, hobbit), nor were they well-founded, but they were arguments seemingly trying to communicate his opinions and points to the comment board nonetheless. And, furthermore, other commenters engaged him on them and actually used the opportunity to make very good points about atheism.

    So, again, what you’re saying doesn’t add up. If you banned someone for repeatedly obfuscating on a single thread, there go about a quarter of your commenters, who I rarely see contribute more than “go f*** yourself and die” and similar taunts.

    It really, honestly seems you have few standards for banning beyond your opinion of the validity of what the person in question is saying…which is precisely the point several of us have been trying to make, much to your dismay. We’ve been saying it because it’s a symptom of mindnumbing groupthink: exclude the dissenters rather than letting the correct ones with the real truth take them down. You’ve probably been dismayed (and spent a large majority of your time and effort on a blog that you oh so frequently deem useless, I’ll add) because you know that’s exactly the case.

  121. Philip Jr.

    So, in summary:

    PZ Myers: “I ban people who engage in inflammatory behavior.”

    Intersection commenters: *post multiple examples of inflammatory behavior that get awarded – not banned – on Pharyngula*

    PZ Myers: “Well, no, no. I actually just ban those who enegae in taunts and noisemaking.”

    Intersection commenters: *post multiple examples of said behavior that isn’t banned*

    PZ Myers: “well, um. It’s not those first two at all. You see, what REALLLLLY gets you banned is if you do that kind of behavior over and over again.” (then, seeing what’s coming) “and plus, you have to admit to it! Yeah, that’s it!”

    This is like watching my six-year-old try to explain why there’s a grape juice stain on the carpet.

  122. Feynmaniac

    Welcome to the InterDungeon, where Pharyngula’s banned (e.g, Kwok, bilbo, Ramsey) and wannabe banned (e.g, McCarthy) can whine about being banned.

    Honestly, do Chris and Sheril use the dungeon page as a recruitment list?

  123. Petra

    We get it, PZ. You’re just incredibly selective. You could have just agreed on that in the beginning and avoided personifying the short-tempered, grudge-clutching, immature codger you felt Chris and Sheril oh-so-unfairly painted you as in UA.

    Turns out that part of it wasn’t “utterly useless,” at least.

  124. J. J. Ramsey

    PZ Myers: “He frequently whines that he only did it once, as if that excuses his behavior.”

    Excuse me, but pointing out that you distorted the facts is whining?

    PZ Myers: “Ramsey was banned because he’s a rather revolting coward who decided my daughter was fair game for his contempt. You want to criticize me, criticize me, not my family.”

    That makes no sense when you think about it. I was criticizing you. You made a claim that a strident atheist was merely a vocal one, and I showed you what a strident atheist looked like. If I made a mistake, it was in picking a quote from someone who was close to you, rather than, say, Penn Jillette. If our altercation (or whatever you want to call it) had happened later, I probably would have quoted PhysioProf. Or would you have still called it “cowardice” if I had quoted anybody but you?

    Is it cowardice to show children displaying the same prejudices as their parents? It’s not my fault that your daughter chose to write, “Next idea for a blog post is ‘Why I don’t believe in god.’ I suddenly realised how necessary it is for me to condense my beliefs and reasoning in retard-friendly format. This format is important for the audience I am targeting with it.” (To be fair, after the fact, she said that–despite no indications in her original post–she had really meant only her high-school peers. That she even wrote as if she thought theists in general were stupid is telling, though.) It’s not my fault that it is utterly untrue that a full-grown atheist would write something as immature as what she had written. If you don’t like seeing such crass sentiments coming from your own kid, maybe you ought to look in the mirror and ask where they came from.

  125. Carlie

    Oh, good lord. Here is a list of the categories PZ uses. Notice that “science”, “science philosophy” and “communicating science” are two different categories, and that there are over a dozen other categories of science. Not every post tagged in another category is also tagged in the science category; that is a tag used for the polyphyletic group of sciencey posts that don’t fit another already established category. And notice that the category of “creationism” has a huge number of posts as well; those usually go point-by-point as to why a creationist idea is wrong from a scientific standpoint. You can’t claim that comparing the numbers for the “science” tag to another one mean anything other than how he felt like tagging each post that day.

  126. Carlie

    Typo: three categories in that third sentence. I wrote “two” and then added one.

  127. Deepak Shetty

    @Philip Jr., @Petra
    Profanity is not treated as inflammatory on Pharyngula.
    Profanity by itself doesn’t get you banned.
    Get it now?
    Try it out yourself. Address whatever P.Z. posts and liberally sprinkle 4 letter words. See if you get banned, so long as you stay on topic and make some valid points.

  128. Seminartix

    Fine then, Carlie. Go through the past month or two of Pharyngula and give up some stats. on which posts are mostly religion bashing and which ones are mostly science that isn’t based on this flawed idea of tags. Be my guest.

  129. Thomas H.

    Sheril asked about the values and problems of science blogging. When perhaps the world’s most prominent ‘science blogger’ has to defend himself as to why he lets people suggest violence and lewd sexual acts as very frequent discussion points (and actually has trouble doing it), the problem is pretty apparent.

  130. Julie

    Well, the last couple of hours’ comments on this post have been mostly useless, outside of the fact that P.Z. Myers has proven himself to be the very embodiment of the character Chris and Sheril make him out to be (and to which he so frequently objects). I expect to not hear any worrisome cries of mischaracterization from that peanut gallery as long as this thread sits around.

  131. Philip Jr.

    …and thus PZ Myers proved all of the New Atheist stereotypes (the highly subjective value judgements, the reliance on vituperation instead of substance, the double-standards, the letting rhetorical standards lax in lieu of tribalism, the rampant mindguarding and groupthink) absolutely, 100% true.

    Thanks, PZ.

  132. Wowbagger

    I’ve realised that one of Philip Jr’s ‘inflammatory’ post examples (in what is currently #77) from Pharyngula is one of mine, so I’ll comment on that.

    To put it into context, the recipient of the ‘abuse’ was a homophobic, misogynistic, dishonest, intellectually dishonest, moronic creationist who’d been blogwhoring on the site for days; he posted numerous content-free posts and generally annoyed everyone.

    The expression to describe this is ‘horses for courses’. Like the majority of the Pharyngulites who engage in this kind of inflammatory language from time-to-time, it’s determined by the actions of the person it’s aimed at. In response to posters who aren’t idiot trolls I’ve written dozens (possibly hundreds) of posts where I haven’t used a single scatalogical epithet or swear-word, or suggested physiological problematic acts of self-gratification.

    But the recipient of that abuse got what he deserved and I make no apologies for that. I loathe inane trolls, and that particular idiot was the epitome of such behaviour.

    Petra wrote:We get it, PZ. You’re just incredibly selective.

    I would say he’s somewhat selective and has a few ‘hot-buttons’. There’s plenty of dissent there, and numerous posters with whom he disagrees but hasn’t banned. Don’t believe the hype; have a read through yourself.

    Philip Jr wrote: PZ Myers: “I ban people who engage in inflammatory behavior.”

    No, he didn’t. He said he bans people who engage in particular inflammatory behaviour, not any inflammatory behaviour. Please stop taking it out of context; his words are right there in his post for anyone to see what he said, and it’s not that.

  133. Carlie

    Go through the past month or two of Pharyngula and give up some stats. on which posts are mostly religion bashing and which ones are mostly science that isn’t based on this flawed idea of tags.

    I really don’t need to – the tags are an ok broad proxy for topic, as long as you categorize them properly. Add up all of the tags that are science-based and compare to the ones that are religion-based.

    Genetics 86
    Neurobiology 74
    Nutrition 1
    Science 830
    Cephalopods 457
    Development 213
    Environment 108
    Evolution 429
    Fossils 106
    Galapagos 12
    Molecular biology 137
    Reproduction 144
    Science Philosophy 4
    Communicating science 136

    That’s about 2737 posts.

    Religion 728
    Godlessness 975

    That’s 1703 posts. I guess you could include the “stupidity” and “kooks” category, but that’s if you assume that those terms accurately describe religion. Still only takes you to 2466, less than the science categories. Carnivals (239) and Creationism (1776) span both.

    There really isn’t any call to say that there are more posts bashing religion than there are on science. It shows a misunderstanding of how tags are used, a misunderstanding of math, and in large part an enormous misunderstanding of the intersection of religion and science in this country. Fundamentalists have made it impossible to talk about some areas of science (e.g. evolution) without bashing them by default, since simply stating that evolution is true is a declaration that they are wrong.

  134. Petra

    No, he didn’t. He said he bans people who engage in particular inflammatory behaviour, not any inflammatory behaviour

    So PZ is incredibly selective…or at least I would call deeming wishing aloud for the death of another human (figurative or literal) non-inflammatory while generally being obfuscating magnitudes more inflammatory incredibly selective. That’s essentially the point several of us have been trying to make.

    I, personally, don’t want to be a part of a community that makes it a habit of relying on such hateful, violent rhetoric as default responses, even to creationists. So I won’t. It’s my selecive opinion that such behavior makes one’s reuptation generally worthless.

  135. Philip Jr.

    Profanity is not treated as inflammatory on Pharyngula

    Deepak:

    The point, as Petra just stated, is that PZ apparently deems “wishing aloud for the death of another human (figurative or literal)” as not inflammatory, based on his statements. Just because PZ deems it kosher does not make it kosher; acting otherwise is being too much of an unthinking lemming for my taste.

    And, in the Real World, not Pharyngula Hate World, sprinkling in a sentence or two about wishing for the death of your debate opponent generally nullifies any “valid points” you might have connected to it. Based especially off of his last comment here, PZ apparently deems such hate rhetoric completely harmless as long as you can attach something else to its back end.

    That’s a terribly, terrifically boneheaded way to view the world.

  136. Philip Jr.

    To put it into context, the recipient of the ‘abuse’ was a homophobic, misogynistic, dishonest, intellectually dishonest, moronic creationist who’d been blogwhoring on the site for days; he posted numerous content-free posts and generally annoyed everyone…But the recipient of that abuse got what he deserved

    So, wowbagger in #133, we’re operating off of “an eye for an eye” now?

    You tell me why that’s generally a bit hypocritical of someone of your leaning.

  137. bilbo

    But the recipient of that abuse got what he deserved

    Leave it to Wowbagger to evoke a principle from the Old Testament as justification for his behavior.

    Irony.

  138. Milton C.

    Leave it to Wowbagger to evoke a principle from the Old Testament as justification for his behavior.

    I imagine he’d cut your hand off if you stole his bread, too, or stone his wife as a prostitute outside the village gates if she touched another man and became unclean.

  139. 'Tis Himself

    I see some folks who were banned from Pharyngula are whining about how mean PZ is. I particularly remember Bilbo. He would make nasty remarks about people (without using bad language) and claimed that people responding to those remarks showed how true they were. He finally admitted that all he was trying to do was annoy others.

    You have to work hard to be banned by PZ. Disagreeing with him and using naughty words aren’t enough. A couple of days ago I had an argument with PZ and I used foul language in some of my posts. Sorry but I didn’t get banned.

  140. Wowbagger

    Leave it to Wowbagger to evoke a principle from the Old Testament as justification for his behavior.

    Leave it to Bilbo to further demonstrate his vacuity with this pathetic piece of false equivalence.

    That’s a terribly, terrifically boneheaded way to view the world.

    But it’s not the world. It’s a blog, and there’s a difference. In the boxing ring if someone punches you in the head it’s okay; if, on the other hand, a person in the street walks up to you and lays into you it’s a crime.

    Are you capable of grasping that?

  141. Philip Jr.

    And a boxing ring isn’t typically a place where people come for vigorous discussion, is it? A blog is more like a debate event than a boxing match. And if you rely on vituperation as the main thrust of your argument in a debate, you lose.

    …and you have the gall to talk about false equivalencies, Wowbagger? That one’s just about as pathetic as bilbo’s.

  142. Wowbagger

    I imagine he’d cut your hand off if you stole his bread, too, or stone his wife as a prostitute outside the village gates if she touched another man and became unclean.

    Yes, Milton C., writing caustic words about someone you dislike on a blog is exactly the same as wanting to cause them actual, real physical harm in unjust retribution for petty theft or a minor slight.

    When you and the other prudes sewed up your ‘potty-mouths’ did you also slip and lobotomise yourselves?

  143. Wowbagger

    A blog is more like a debate event than a boxing match. And if you rely on vituperation as the main thrust of your argument in a debate, you lose.

    I disagree; I think that really depends on the blog – which is the whole point. There are blogs which are more like debates, and there are those which are more like boxing matches. If you sign up for a boxing match you aren’t allowed to complain that you’re on the receiving end of some heavy blows; at a debating club, however, you’d be right to be upset if your rebuttal leads to a right cross.

    Pharyngula, to me, seems like a combination of the two – but at a casual glance at a linked comment (or, as is the case here, out-of-context phrases from biased sampling provided for the sake of argument) that may not be apparent.

    The aforementioned comment was the result of many, many attempts – by myself and other posters – to engage that particular troll about his beliefs and his criticisms of evolution and equality (for women and gay marriage, amongst other things); having not received anything other than content-free drivel and blogwhoring attempts, I chose to stop bothering with reason and instead insult him.

    Not what you’d do? Fine; it’s not for everybody. But to simply assume that comment was the first response someone got for offering a simple difference of opinion is foolish, and to misrepresent it as ‘typical behaviour’ is dishonest.

  144. Milton C.

    Yes, Milton C., writing caustic words about someone you dislike on a blog is exactly the same as wanting to cause them actual, real physical harm in unjust retribution for petty theft or a minor slight.

    Oh, you must mean like when someone says “go set yourself on fire and die” because someone wrote an opinion on a blog comment board that they didn’t agree with. Yes, in fact that is just like wanting to see physical harm caused to someone in unjust retribution for a minor slight.

    And you and several others have been arguing in defense of that all night.

    Now this prude has justification to call you a hypocrite.

  145. bilbo

    …and an oblivious one, at that.

  146. Julie

    “Yes, Milton C., writing caustic words about someone you dislike on a blog is exactly the same as wanting to cause them actual, real physical harm in unjust retribution for petty theft or a minor slight.”

    Oh, you must mean like when someone says “go set yourself on fire and die” because someone wrote an opinion on a blog comment board that they didn’t agree with. Yes, in fact that is just like wanting to see physical harm caused to someone in unjust retribution for a minor slight.

    And you and several others have been arguing in defense of that all night.

    That was pretty pathetic, wowbagger. you’re just arguing for the sake of argument now, not even paying attention to what you’re saying.

  147. Philip Jr.

    Yes, Milton C., writing caustic words about someone you dislike on a blog is exactly the same as wanting to cause them actual, real physical harm in unjust retribution for petty theft or a minor slight.”

    After seeing PZ and yourself argue for letting people make implications about physical harm for the past few hours Wowbagger (and all for the trivial reason that your debate opponent disagrees with you), I hope you realize how stupid you truly are after your last post….even though we all know you won’t let onto it.

    Now, perhaps, you finally see our point.

  148. Philip Jr.

    You certainly seem to, seeing as how you just echoed it.

  149. Wowbagger

    Yes, in fact that is just like wanting to see physical harm caused to someone in unjust retribution for a minor slight.

    Oh, good grief. Do you all think that when someone says they’re hungry enough to ‘eat a horse’ they end up snacking on Trigger sandwiches? Because that’s the ‘logic’ – and I use the term loosely – you’re endorsing.

    Even if I were being hypocritical – which I’m not – it’d still be far less pathetic than this blatant intellectual dishonesty.

    I’m the one arguing for the sake of argument? Please.

  150. Philip Jr.

    Oh, good grief. Do you all think that when someone says they’re hungry enough to ‘eat a horse’ they end up snacking on Trigger sandwiches?

    I don’t know, Wowbagger. You tell me if you really mean you want people to die a painful death and/or be sodomized with various objects. You’re the only one here, after all, who is stepping to such pathetic levels to draw attention to yourself on the internet.

    I’m sure that those you’re wishing death and/or sexual violation on aren’t really sure when you spew your hateful tripe at them in lieu of anything intelligent or, dare I say it, rational, either.

  151. Vyspyr

    Well, I certainly have to say that this thread has certainly lowered my opinion of nonbelievers and the role of reason by several orders of magnitude. I’ve never even seen religious bigots try so hard to justify their hate.

    Well done, bilbo, Philip jr., and Milton C. You don’t often make a lot of sense, but you’ve done a good job of drawing the stereotypes out that these people claim don’t exist. Everyone who writes something about the “New Atheism” from this point out should reference this thread.

  152. “The web was, very long ago, an incredibly polite place where ideas were tossed around and serious thought reigned.”

    Yeah, usenet was justso polite (that was sarcasm, by the way). Hot button items like evolution, HIV denial and vaccination denial were at least, if not more, virulent and impolite in the days before HTML (even the BASIC programming discussion group got very sweary on occasions). I probably hold the record for more swearwords in the title of a post directed at me than any other person on talk origins. Possibly that is why Science Bloggers who are ex-usenetians are less polite, we have used up all our politeness in the usenet swamps, and are now weary of fools. When you come across the 4,496,875 th repetition of a non-argument about evolution, you are less inclined to be all sweetness and light about it.

  153. Petra

    “Oh, good grief. Do you all think that when someone says they’re hungry enough to ‘eat a horse’ they end up snacking on Trigger sandwiches?”

    ___________________________________________________________________________

    I don’t know, Wowbagger. You tell me if you really mean you want people to die a painful death and/or be sodomized with various objects. You’re the only one here, after all, who is stepping to such pathetic levels to draw attention to yourself on the internet.

    I’m sure that those you’re wishing death and/or sexual violation on aren’t really sure when you spew your hateful tripe at them in lieu of anything intelligent or, dare I say it, rational, either.

    I certainly wasn’t sure. All I said was the equivalent of “Don’t you think it might turn people off to science if they see scientists acting like children?” To which I was told that I should die slowly (presumably figurative, but who knows?) and that I should take it upon myself to be raped (or I guess more accurately for ‘f*** yourself,’ sodomize myself) with landscaping tools…before I died, of course. The death part was presumably to come immediately after. I found myself being very thankful that I was hiding behind the anonymity of the internet. If this had happened in person, I would have likely called the police….even if I was relatively certain it was hyperbolic. I’m sure you’re being hyperbolic yourself, wowbagger, but listen to yourself. I mean, really, really listen.

    That was my one and only post on Pharyngula. Anyone who claims that losing religion leads you to a world free of bigotry and hate is a liar. It takes much more than that, as these people attest to…because they’ve failed.

  154. Vyspyr

    Anyone looking to find out what’s wrong with the science blogging world should look no further than Petra’s post above. Criticism and harsh language are just a part of the internet, but not hateful wishes of violence and sexual violation like this. This is a whole new level, and it makes me sick. And what’s more? It’s found on almost every thread at Pharyngula. I thought it was a one-time case or somethng overblown. But no. It’s in the comments of almost every thread. Pathetic – especially for something representing a discipline as noble as science.

    And you – Wowbagger, Knockgoats, PZ Myers, and others – you have the wherewithall to attempt to DEFEND such behavior, while claiming to represent an outlook on the world that frees one from hate?! You make me absolutely sick. Take a long hard look at yourselves, and understand why so many people look down on you. It’s not because you’re an atheist, or because people “don’t get it.” It’s because you’re too blinded by pure hate to even see that you’re wishing death and sexual torture on people simply because you disagree with them

    Yes, religion isn’t the only place hate exists in the world. As long as people like you are trying to justify it, you’ll be a walking example of that fact.

    Everyone should read what Petra said to know what disgusting “people” you are.

  155. Wowbagger

    Philip Jr wrote: You tell me if you really mean you want people to die a painful death and/or be sodomized with various objects.

    Considering I’ve not made those suggestions – my own vituperations are far more likely to be unflattering characterisations than recommendations for self-harm – I can’t answer that; you’d have to ask the people who said it whether they meant it or not. But I’ll go out on a limb and state what is obvious, to everyone else and to you here, despite the fact you’re lying through your teeth about it right now: of course they weren’t, and you know it.

    I’m sure that those you’re wishing death and/or sexual violation on aren’t really sure when you spew your hateful tripe at them in lieu of anything intelligent or, dare I say it, rational, either.

    I believe one can be intelligent, rational and abusive; they aren’t mutually exclusive. However, it seems that it’s convenient for people like you to choose to focus on the tone rather than actually ever engage with the argument presented; you can get endless mileage about how the mean people said horrible things about you instead.

    Anyone who claims that losing religion leads you to a world free of bigotry and hate is a liar.

    If the recent posts on this thread (specifically, those by the regulars) are anything to go by, it’d be just as erroneous to claim that it led to increased perception, critical thought or intellectual honesty, either.

    I’m sure you’re being hyperbolic yourself, wowbagger, but listen to yourself. I mean, really, really listen.

    Get a grip. Seriously. You might as well be saying ‘won’t somebody think of the children?’.

  156. Deepak Shetty

    @Philip Jr.

    “wishing aloud for the death of another human (figurative or literal)”

    I hate to speak for P. Z. Myers but I doubt he would not ban someone who repeatedly wished or threatened violence to any other poster. Note that this is different from telling someone to go f*** himself or stick his head up his a** or shove an iron rod into some orifice, all of which are clearly profanities , and used as such.

    Just because PZ deems it kosher does not make it kosher;

    No one said it is. P.Z. has laid down the rules for his blog quite clearly, you may choose to disagree, but you cant ask him to follow what you deem kosher.

    And, in the Real World, not Pharyngula Hate World, sprinkling in a sentence or two about wishing for the death of your debate opponent generally nullifies any “valid points” you might have connected to it.

    perhaps. But you are referring to Commenters on P.Z.’s posts, not to any debate or argument that P.Z. has made right? I believe the topic was censorship/banning on P.Z.’s blog , not what an effective debating tactic profanity is.
    Lets have an experiment. Arrange in order of what you think (by your rules, not mine or PZ’s) is the most offensive statement from below. Also because these are real statements , please provide evidence where you have actively refuted the statements
    a. Take a rusty implement and f*** yourself
    b. The use of condoms increases aids.
    c. ONLY 12% (of all the cases) were sexual abuse, the rest were just fondling and kissing (on Irish Catholic church abuse)
    d. You should teach the controversy to our children. Intelligent Design is a theory just like Evolution.

  157. Vyspyr

    Get a grip. Seriously. You might as well be saying ‘won’t somebody think of the children?’.

    The phrase isn’t “won’t somebody think of the children?” The phrase is “won’t you realize that you’re wishing aloud for the death and suffering of another human?” And for no reason other than the fact that they pushed your buttons on the internet. What filth.

    I believe one can be intelligent, rational and abusive

    So, now you’re trying to defend your hate by claiming that one gets carte blanche for insinuating as much violence as they want as long as they’ve said something rational recently. What an absolute affront to reason.

  158. bilbo

    “I believe one can be intelligent, rational and abusive”

    Wowbagger, I don’t think there’s such a thing as “but I was being rational!!!” defense when someone threatens violence.

  159. Philip Jr.

    Deepak:

    Only one of the examples in your “experiment” is an explicit request for violence. That’s the benchmark even PZ Myers claims that someone using reason should not cross. The fact that you seem to be deeming violent and sexual threats appropriate responses and equivalencies to irrational claims is precisely the problem.

  160. bilbo

    ” reserve the right to publicly post, with full identifying information about the source, any email sent to me that contains threats of violence.”

    That’s a statement from PZ Myers’ website. Apparent he thinks that when someone says they are hungry enough to eat a horse that they just might end up with Trigger sandwiches.

    Yet PZ will actively get on here and defend commenters hurling threats of violence in the opposite direction – one he actually approves of rather than disagrees with.

    Hypocrisy. It’s as ugly as religion.

  161. Milton C.

    I’m still dumbfounded that we’re seeing people on here trying to defend someone wishing that another human would “set themselves on fire and die,” all for the reason that they disagree.

    Anyone who says there isn’t tribalism in this culture war is lying. Only tribalism leads to defenses of statements like that. Tribalism, and hate.

  162. bilbo

    So, if people who issue threats of violence and wishes of death against someone who stole a cracker are “deluded fuckwits,” but similar threats of violence and threats of death against people who are simply annoying are “appropriate responses,” is it appropriate to call the people using such horrific double-standards deluded or just desperate to justify hate?

  163. bilbo

    ” We don’t threatene believers with violence.” – PZ Myers

    Oh yes, PZ, yes you do. and you hasve defended and encouraged doing so here. Liar and hypocrite.

  164. Milton C.

    I believe one can be intelligent, rational and abusive”

    It sounds like Wowbagger just gave himself free reign to stab someone to death simply for disagreeing with him too much, just because he’s the “rational one.”

    I mean, really, saying that you’d like to see someone burn alive or get sodomized is only one step away from actually doing it. And Wowbagger’s trying very, very hard to justify that big first step.

  165. Piltdown Man

    Nonbelievers trying to justify implicit requests for the death and sexual mutilation of others? This is disturbing. I’m being serious.

  166. GilbertNSullivan

    Oh yes, PZ, yes you do. and you hasve defended and encouraged doing so here. Liar and hypocrite.

    Citation needed.

  167. Katharine

    A few little gems from the people who comment on here who got tossed in the Pharyngula dungeon:

    “Actually, the Bible is a very progressive book. For example, it legislated that debts were to be completely forgiven every seven years. Every 50 years one’s property (the means of making a living in an agrarian society) was to be returned to the person who sold it (or the family) — absolutely free. One was not allowed to harvest all of one’s crops, but had to leave the edges and corners for the poor to harvest. And Israel may have been the first nation to have a six-day work week. And if we turn to the prophets, we see that they criticize Israel and the other nations most for oppressing the poor. Even in the case of Sodom and Gomorrah, Ezekiel says that their major sin is not caring for the poor (and he doesn’t mention sodomy or homosexuality).
    And if we examine the New Testament, we find Jesus feeding the hungry, healing the sick, and criticizing the religiously self-righteous. And when the first community of believers formed in Jerusalem, they held everything in common, with people selling excess property to help take care of the poor.
    You may not agree with the theology of the Bible, but I suggest you reconsider its ethics. Posted by a liberal ID advocate. ”

    So Bilbo’s a creobot who has not read his bible, I see.

    “If biologists succeed in designing living organisms, they also will have succeeded in advancing an inductive argument for Intelligent Design:

    1) No non-intelligent processes from non-living to living organisms on Earth are known.

    2) All researched non-intelligent processes to living organisms have, so far, proven exceedingly improbable and implausible.

    3) All known processes from non-living to living organisms are intelligently designed (biologists designing living organisms).

    4) Therefore, by inductive reasoning, it is probable that the process to the original living organisms on Earth was intelligently designed.

    And as biologists become more and more adept at designing living organisms, and we continue to fail to find a non-intelligent way for organisms to appear, this inductive argument will become more and more powerful. ”

    Your grasp of biology and logic sucks. All of these points have absolutely no evidence to support them.

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/11/frank_schaeffer_throws_the_ath.php#comment-2051019

    No, Bilbo, I don’t care HOW liberal you are, you’re still an idiot and I see why PZ banned you – because you can’t argue worth squat and you parroted the same thing over and over there without actually supporting your assertions.

    As for JJ Ramsey, I can’t call the page up, but I seem to remember it consisted of largely base attacks about PZ’s daughter, which is rather stupid to do on her father’s blog.

  168. bilbo

    Katharine, at least paste my quote and not another attributed to me. What are you even talking about??!! I said (link below as proof):

    “Didn’t take long for the tribalism to get whipped up, did it? (That’s another parallel, if you’re keeping track). Circle the wagons, my brothers in new atheist faith! Someone has criticized us, and we must join forces to mount an opposition against the infidel! If you doubt me, check the number of responses to me talking about “us.” Aren’t many of those same people talking about how there’s no ‘movement’ here? *facedesk*

    As with religion, it doesn’t take much to stir the sycophantic sheep. More proof that the new atheism is made up of little more than born-again fundamentalists, stripped of god yet pursuing the same old bigotry under a new banner.”

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/11/frank_schaeffer_throws_the_ath.php#comment-2051029

    My above quote is quite trollish, but its certainly not whatever fabricated quote you paste from me above. I have no clue what you’re even talking about. If you can find a quote that’s actually from me and finds me espousing creationism, I’ll never post here again. That’s a promise.

    Stop lying, Katharine.

  169. Philip Jr.

    Katharine, when I go to your link to find bilbo’s “ID” quote that you posted, bilbo says nothing of the sort. Are you making things up?

  170. Milton C.

    How did you turn:

    “Didn’t take long for the tribalism to get whipped up, did it? (That’s another parallel, if you’re keeping track). Circle the wagons, my brothers in new atheist faith! Someone has criticized us, and we must join forces to mount an opposition against the infidel! If you doubt me, check the number of responses to me talking about “us.” Aren’t many of those same people talking about how there’s no ‘movement’ here? *facedesk*

    As with religion, it doesn’t take much to stir the sycophantic sheep. More proof that the new atheism is made up of little more than born-again fundamentalists, stripped of god yet pursuing the same old bigotry under a new banner.”

    into:

    “Actually, the Bible is a very progressive book. For example, it legislated that debts were to be completely forgiven every seven years. Every 50 years one’s property (the means of making a living in an agrarian society) was to be returned to the person who sold it (or the family) — absolutely free. One was not allowed to harvest all of one’s crops, but had to leave the edges and corners for the poor to harvest. And Israel may have been the first nation to have a six-day work week. And if we turn to the prophets, we see that they criticize Israel and the other nations most for oppressing the poor. Even in the case of Sodom and Gomorrah, Ezekiel says that their major sin is not caring for the poor (and he doesn’t mention sodomy or homosexuality).
    And if we examine the New Testament, we find Jesus feeding the hungry, healing the sick, and criticizing the religiously self-righteous. And when the first community of believers formed in Jerusalem, they held everything in common, with people selling excess property to help take care of the poor.
    You may not agree with the theology of the Bible, but I suggest you reconsider its ethics. Posted by a liberal ID advocate. “

    ,Katharine? Because your link goes to the first quote, while you claim the latter. Are you lying or just incredibly confused? The bilbo that posts here may be an a-hole, but he’s certainly no “ID advocate.” Reading his posts here is proof enough of that.

  171. bilbo

    Ah, I see now, Katharine. The quote you posted was from a “Bilbo,” but it was not from this bilbo. (I know you’ll not believe me since you’ve already called me an “idiot,” but I can assure you that the quote you posted was not mine). I may be a doucheish troll, but I’m no “ID advocate.”

    If you don’t believe me, PZ can gladly dig up IP addresses on the quote you posted about the Bible and my actual quote on the Frank Schaffer thread, and they’ll show that these two “bilbo”‘s are not the same person.

  172. Philip Jr.

    OK Katharine, perhaps bilbo can explain this for us, but when I go back through search results of posts attributed to “bilbo” on Pharyngula, I get two completely different posters: one “bilbo” that is obviously a Christian and anti-evolutionist, and the other a “bilbo” that is an atheist and evolution advocate who has some sort of problem with PZ Myers. Based on his previous posts on The Intersection, the bilbo you’re addressing here is the latter bilbo – not the one who made the quote you posted about the Bible and ID.

    Either that, or bilbo has some incredible split personality disorder.

  173. Piltdown Man

    So, Seed Media Group’s “terms and conditions” clearly state,

    ” You may not submit any Submission that is unlawful, harmful, harassing, threatening, abusive, hateful, libelous, defamatory, obscene, pornographic, profane, vulgar, indecent, sexually explicit or otherwise objectionable, or that would constitute a criminal offense, give rise to civil liability, violate any third party’s rights of privacy or publicity or otherwise violate any applicable law or right.”

    Can anyone explain how things like “f*** yourself with a rusty chainsaw” and, especially, “go set yourself on fire and die. The world will be better off without you.” NOT violate these umbrella terms?

  174. gillt

    Milton C.: “Although I very rarely, if ever, agree with their opinions, Chris and Sheril actually do more blogging about science here.”

    Typically, it helps if your taunts have at least the appearance of believability.

  175. Philip Jr.

    I don’t see how they don’t violate those terms, Piltdown. “Go set yourself on fire and die. The world would be better off without you” sounds abusive, hateful, and indecent.

    Similarly, “go f*** yourself with a splintered broomhandle” is profane, obscene, sexually explicit, indecent, abusive, hateful, and obscene. Heck, even Wowbagger admitted to being “abusive,” which is a clear violation of those overarching terms.

    Why is Pharyngula getting a free pass on their media group’s own rules and regulations?

  176. Knockgoats

    Well, I see the lunatic “Piltdown Man” (he advocates a return to Catholic “sacred monarchy” and considered john-Paul II a dangerous liberal) has turned up. Serves you right!

  177. Piltdown Man

    Knockgoats,

    What?! What are you even talking about? How do you pull “sacred monarchy” out of a post about Seed’s terms and conditions?

  178. Piltdown Man

    For the record, Knockgoats, if you’re trying to tie me to another “Piltdown Man” that you don’t like (the only plausible assumption for the wild accusations you just hurled at me and/or tried to pin on me), it’s not me. This is my first time posting here, and I’ve never posted on Pharyngula.

  179. Petra

    Can anyone explain how things like “f*** yourself with a rusty chainsaw” and, especially, “go set yourself on fire and die. The world will be better off without you.” NOT violate these umbrella terms?

    I don’t see how they could. I’m going to do what I should have done when I was first told to get raped and die and send Seed Media an official complaint, referencing the rhetoric in question, along with their terms and conditions. The rules are clearly outlined, and in my opinion, at least, they should be adhered to if they’re going to be posted on the website.

  180. J. J. Ramsey

    Katharine: “As for JJ Ramsey, I can’t call the page up, but I seem to remember it consisted of largely base attacks about PZ’s daughter, which is rather stupid to do on her father’s blog.”

    And as I said before, what actually happened is that I once pointed out that she made a statement where she apparently called theists–or to be more precise, her unnamed audience for a future blog post “Why I don’t believe in god”–stupid. You can see it in post #125, or in the first link on page #102. Furthermore, the reason that I quoted her in the first place was that PZ had said, “Now, define ‘strident’. Near as I can tell, it’s simply being an atheist and publicly arguing against god-belief,” and her words were a clear example of what it meant for an atheist to be “strident” rather than just “vocal.” That’s a far cry from, say, telling someone “f*** yourself with a rusty chainsaw.”

    Now if I had done that repeatedly, I could see how that would be badgering. As it stands, what I did wasn’t much different than responding to a Christianist who said, “Now, define ‘strident’. Near as I can tell, it’s simply being a Christian and publicly arguing for faith,” by showing said Christianist’s kid making ignorant slams against atheists, with the obvious implication that he/she was mirroring the parent’s bigotry.

  181. I need to borrow more pearls to clutch. Mine are all worn out.

  182. Milton C.

    I don’t see how they could. I’m going to do what I should have done when I was first told to get raped and die and send Seed Media an official complaint, referencing the rhetoric in question, along with their terms and conditions. The rules are clearly outlined, and in my opinion, at least, they should be adhered to if they’re going to be posted on the website.

    I believe I’ll do the same, Petra. I’ve never posted on Pharyngula myself, but it’s pretty clear that what’s getting posted on there is in clear violation of those terms. In fact, with PZ himself claiming on here that those types of submissions are appropriate and defensible, this discrepancy needs some attention.

  183. Petra

    Excuse me for taking offense to someone suggesting I ram the rough end of a garden rake up my vagina until it bleeds, Rev. BigDumbChimp. I’m glad you find that a fairly innocuous statement worthy of praise.

  184. Katharine

    Oh, look, it’s wacky cat-licker Pilty!

  185. Katharine

    bilbo, after reading the thread on here and reading the thread on Pharyngula, I conclude, thankfully, that you are not the IDiot.

    Mea culpa.

  186. Katharine

    bilbo, after reading the thread on here and the thread on Pharyngula, I can conclude that, thankfully, you are not the ID-creobot .

    Mea culpa.

  187. Excuse me for taking offense to someone suggesting I ram the rough end of a garden rake up my vagina until it bleeds, Rev. BigDumbChimp. I’m glad you find that a fairly innocuous statement worthy of praise.

    Oh yes, of course I was praising it because thinking that people overrating to statements is of course the same thing as praising them.

    /eyeroll

    Please let us know the outcome of your letter to Seed.

    Soooo

    I’m assuming that’s a no on borrowing your pearls?

    They all worn out too?

  188. Milton C.

    It could be worse, Petra. I suppose you could be asked to be “f***ed rigid with a broken broomhandle covered in hot sauce.” That’s another gem from the Pharyngula archives that violates about 90% of Seed Group’s “inappropriate” content.

    And, of course, it went applauded by the people there.

  189. Katharine

    Whoa, multipost much? Sorry.

  190. negentropyeater

    Petra,

    I’m going to do what I should have done when I was first told to get raped and die and send Seed Media an official complaint

    Do you remember which thread it was ?

  191. Katharine

    My take on the comments on Pharyngula, as someone who commented there before PZ turned on the registration requirements, is that it seems to be more a discussion about substance than style.

    Which is a good thing. Now, frankly, I think it’s much less efficient and much less incisive in an argument to pepper one’s vocabulary with four-letter words, but I can understand their ire because I too often feel it; more than once have I entertained some fairly nasty thoughts about people who don’t have a grasp of science, usually because they’re such a gigantic force in society for bad.

    And I do hate it when people whine about style to distract from substance. People who do this are disingenuous and cowardly.

    However, it is incumbent on everybody to attack their opponent in a manner that suggests the person doing so is an adult and not a 2-year-old. I try to limit my vulgarity (I don’t necessarily not use it) to things that provide appropriate emphasis on a statement and suggest, somewhat understatingly, that I am not amused.

    I also find it far more amusing to attack someone’s intelligence – perhaps suggesting that they make pond scum look like Einstein – than suggesting they have rough intercourse with a chainsaw.

  192. Deepak Shetty

    @Philip Jr

    Only one of the examples in your “experiment” is an explicit request for violence.

    Ah you didn’t answer my experiment though. Ill take it to mean that rusty instrument statement is the most offensive to you and the others are either less offensive or not offensive.
    So one more question. What is the difference between
    1. Take a rusty instrument and go f*** yourself
    2. I will take a rusty instrument and f*** u
    3. If i knew where you lived I will take a rusty implement come to your home and f*** u
    I would expect to see 2. get a strict warning and 3. get an immediate ban but 1. is a common form of profanity, and as before whether you choose to allow profanity in comments is a personal choice. This is separate to whether the use of profanity helps you get across your point better (In my opinion a qualified no)
    Its also interesting that an implied sexual reference is more offensive to you than statements that cause actual harm (i.e. no contraceptive use in countries with a significant AIDS problem -The Pope), statements that condone vile behaviors and try to excuse it (i.e. ONLY 10% of statements are actual abuse – Bill Donohue), statements that actually threaten education of our children(any ID/creationist) and have been implemented in some states. So before you accuse P.Z. of highly selective behavior, you should clean up your own act, hmm?

    The fact that you seem to be deeming violent and sexual threats appropriate responses and equivalencies to irrational claims is precisely the problem.

    I don’t think Go f*** yourself is a sexual threat, neither are variations of you go do something to yourself with some pointy instrument. Threatening violence is when I say I will do something to you – Id expect this to be banned.

    You also are repeatedly trying to mix “Should sexual insults/abuses be used in discussions/arguments” with “Should someone ban people for these insults used in comments if he bans people for other reasons”. And you think support for the former is equivalent to supporting the latter. You also seem to think that not banning is equivalent to supporting/condoning the behavior.

  193. Milton C.

    And I do hate it when people whine about style to distract from substance. People who do this are disingenuous and cowardly.

    Katharine, when someone’s response to you is “you should go die in a fire. The world would be better off without you,” the “style” you’re talking about us whining over actually becomes all the substance such a comment has. There isn’t anything else there.

    That’s hardly being disingenuous.

  194. Philip Jr.

    Ah you didn’t answer my experiment though. Ill take it to mean that rusty instrument statement is the most offensive to you and the others are either less offensive or not offensive.

    Deepak:

    Your “experiment” in and of itself is disingenuous, because your “examples” listed three opinions and one violent invective. Those aren’t equivalencies under any rules unless you deem opinions you strongly disagree with on par with violent invectives. Which, of course, is exactly what many of us have been saying is so fundamentally flawed about your defense of such violence references as acceptable.

    Regardless, PM’s link to Seed MEdia Group’s terms and conditions make the line in the sand pretty clear. And Pharyngula crosses it, on a daily basis. There’s no arguing over that.

  195. Katharine

    “Katharine, when someone’s response to you is “you should go die in a fire. The world would be better off without you,” the “style” you’re talking about us whining over actually becomes all the substance such a comment has. There isn’t anything else there.

    That’s hardly being disingenuous.”

    Agreed. I cringe a little inside when anyone on any side says something like that.

    I’m talking about the wider state of discourse that you’re all complaining about at Pharyngula.

  196. Katharine

    Vyspyr, Petra, Wowbagger, to address your conversation -

    I am an atheist. I sympathize with ‘New Atheism’. I consider religion something of a blight on society and I hate it when accomodationists get all simpery.

    Much the same as you counsel us to not link every religious person to wingnuttery, I would like to counsel you to not link every ‘New Atheist’ to the tendency to be so verbally – well, abusive online.

    In fact, I don’t think it’s a trait representative of most people who call themselves New Atheists. Maybe of people at Pharyngula, but that’s not all of them and it’s just a website.

    Wowbagger, yes, it is possible to be intelligent, rational, and abusive, but frankly it would make more sense and make people look more mature if they stuck to the ‘intelligent and rational’ and didn’t do the ‘abusive’. It’s possible to subtly smack someone down and make them look like an idiot without telling them to have rough intercourse with, say, a bacteria-ridden trowel.

    PZ, take heed of this – I agree with you that substance is important, but know your enemies – if not in the interest of civility (which has been made into something of a weasel word, I agree, but I’m talking about making sure your normally-very-mature commenters can have an argument without descending into talking like 12-year-olds), then hack out the abusive language to make sure you present a more mature image to people who lack brains but are vituperative enough to use the slightest lapses against you.

    Vyspyr, Petra – especially Petra – bear in mind that Pharyngula is only a single website, and that worse behavior has been found at the websites of people who we rail against. This does not in any way condone exhortations of violence, and nor do I, but you’re going to have to compartmentalize a bit to get an accurate picture of the discussion.

  197. Paul

    Petra, 112

    (and for the record, Knockgoats, I’m not a “Pharyngula exile.” I’ve never even posted over there. I’m just wholly confused at the doublespeak we seem to be getting here.)

    Petra, 154

    That was my one and only post on Pharyngula.

    So, why the change of story?

  198. Deepak Shetty

    @Philip Jr

    Those aren’t equivalencies under any rules unless you deem opinions you strongly disagree with on par with violent invectives.

    Ah but that is precisely my point. is evolution v/s intelligent design an opinion to disagree with? is the use of condoms increasing aids an opinion? How is it that you don’t find them offensive? Why are you being so highly selective? Dont you care about people who get AIDS due to statements like the above. Tsk tsk. posters like you should be banned- Sheril why arent you banning such commenters- Dont you care about the damage you do?. Tsk Tsk. I need to wring my handkerchief.

    You confuse profanity with violence for the example you have posted. You repeatedly make that assertion of violence . I gave you three examples and told you why the latter (i will do something to you)is a threat and the former(you do something to yourself) isn’t. if you have examples of the ‘I will do something to you’ variety, then I would concede that P.Z. should have banned those posters-perhaps with at the most 1 warning.

    Regardless, PM’s link to Seed MEdia Group’s terms and conditions make the line in the sand pretty clear. And Pharyngula crosses it, on a daily basis

    Yep. But it isnt P.Z.’s posts that contain threats of violence. Policing the comments is then left upto Seed media. Perhaps you should complain to them. Again notice your attempt to use the comments on P.Z’s blog to tar the blog itself i.e. the posts(pharyngual violates it). I find such dishonesty offensive , much more so than profanity. Can we get you banned?

  199. Petra

    Sorry for the confusion, Paul. I should have said “I never post over there,” seeing as how I have that one incident in my past. Flame me and defame me as you will.

  200. Paul

    Sorry for the confusion, Paul. I should have said “I never post over there,” seeing as how I have that one incident in my past. Flame me and defame me as you will.

    Pointing out when a person contradicts themself is “flaming and defaming”? Martyr much?

    It would be much obliging if you provided the handle you posted on, or a link to the offending post. One would think you had it handy as you were going to report it to SEED, correct?

  201. Feynmaniac

    Petra,
    Can you point to the thread where you were allegedly treated badly? What name were you posting under?

    If I sound skeptical it’s because McCarthy made the charge here that his comments at Pharyngula were deleted. A little investigation showed that they were not.

  202. Petra

    One would think you had it handy as you were going to report it to SEED, correct?

    Already done, Paul.

  203. Paul

    Petra,

    Then it would be trivial to provide a link to the post in question to show the Intersection folks how right you are, no? Is it not considered good form to substantiate allegations of poor treatment?

  204. Skeptical Skeptic

    Good grief there’s a ton of hate on this thread. Here’s a good ground rule:

    no matter what you think of the source, someone wishing death on someone or hoping they get sodomized/violently sexually assaulted simply because they disagree is never useful or defensible. Not in jest, not when taken literally, not when made in frustration. Never.

    I’m simply stunned to see people actually defending such speech. And I’m with Piltdown Man, Milton, Petra, and several others: if Seed Media Group’s blanket terms and conditions clearly state that such speech is not allowed on the sites they host, then it should be reported and removed from any hosted blog – by the blogger or by force from the media group itself.

  205. Philip Jr.

    I was about to tell Paul that he could likely just search Pharyngula for Petra’s case, but then I noticed that there are easily over 15-20 references to sodomy/sexual assault on Pharyngula’s archives, with several references each to gardening tools, broomhandles, rough broom handles, broken broomhandles, broken broomhandles smeared with hot sauce, and other various inanimate objects, requested that they be inserted into particular posters’ vagina, anus, or other orifice of choice. And, more often than not, it is requested that the posters in question be put to death after their sexual assault, either by suicide (my personal favorite, “so you can die before you have a chance to have children”) or by other means, including several requests that posters be set on fire and burned alive.

    The epitome of class, that blog is.

  206. I’m simply stunned to see people actually defending such speech.

    Well it would be nice to establish the actual comment first.

    If Petra would care to link to it that would be a giant help. Or if any of the people making claims here would link to the any of the comments they are oh so offended by that too would help.

  207. Carlie

    Petra, rape is one metaphor that is slapped down, and slapped down hard, by the commentariat at Pharyngula. If you were indeed told something of the sort (which you have provided no evidence for as yet) the person who told you that would also likely have been ripped apart for using that language.

    But until you provide the link, we won’t know. You wouldn’t have posted there as Petra because you don’t show up in any searches, so right now you’re just blowing smoke.

  208. Janine

    Skeptical Skeptic, be careful about who you side yourself with. Piltdown Man thinks that there should be a return to Catholic theocracy, that the Inquisition was fully justified and that PZ Myers is processed by demons.

  209. Oh, dear. Bilbo’s complaint has been traced. Bilbo says, “On the other hand, if you say (to quote a recent poster who was awarded by PZ), “go f*** yourself with a splintered broomhandle,” you get a hearty pat on the back.”

    Here’s the actual comment:

    That’s why conservatives are so apparently down on sex. Banning stuff makes it naughtier and thus more fun. Imagine all that emotional guilt based frisson when the 19 year old, illegal immigrant, identical, Chinese, twin girls you bought from your arms dealer friend (who are spanking you with a rolled up copy of anything by Adam Smith) call you a very dirty daddy before pegging you rigid with a splintery broom handle strap on covered with tabasco, and then decide to give you a girl on girl on boy p*ss fest and mutual fist-a-thon whilst snorting coke off a pile of gay men’s c*cks shortly after these gents have performed what can only be described as a human demonstration of the principle underlying Da Vinci’s helicopter.

    ….but enough about my weekend….

    My point is that these perverts LIKE banning stuff so they get extra thrills. If all this good sexual shennanigans and general unethical rubbish were allowed, no one would enjoy it and the world would be vanilla.

    I’m sorry, but I will give Louis a hearty pat on the back for that. It was hilarious. It’s exactly why I don’t censor language at all, and why I think all the humorless prudes can go back to sucking lemons.

    And again, it’s a beautiful example of the kinds of lies Bilbo and his bluenosed colleagues like to spread. He implied in his comment that this was some kind of violent insult or threat to someone, when clearly it was not.

  210. Oh, I see Milton C and Philip Jr joined in the clueless chorus of echoing Bilbo’s dishonest and mangled quoting. You should be ashamed.

  211. Philip Jr.

    Rev. BigDumbChimp, here are some examples (horrifically, just a small sampling) which I will be forwarding to Seed Media Group’s headquarters immediately after I post them to you, specifically highlighting their banning of “sexually explicit, obscene” language on their hosted blogs:

    “Go F*** yourself, you useless, s***-eating c**stain.”
    “Take a greased pole and f*** yourself.”
    “go f*** yourself with the the business end of an extra large bellows”
    “F*** yourself with a sharp stick”
    “Go f*** yourself in the a**hole”
    “Karol, go f*** yourself. Up the a**, since you’ve got such an obsession with that. Then die in a f***ing fire”
    “Go f*** yourself with a rusty chainsaw”
    “find a splintering stick and f*** yourself up the a**”
    “go f*** yourself. And then die in a fire”
    “Go. F***. Yourself. With a Hefty Bag full of rottweilers”
    “Go f*** your mother and sister”
    “Go f*** yourself with a chainsaw in that festering pustule of an a**hole of yours” (A Molly award winner)
    “go f*** yourself in the v***** with a sharp stick, and break it off”
    “F*** yourself Charles- IN THE A**”
    “go f*** yourself in the a** with a duck”
    “You can f*** yourself with a razor-bladed stick and go die in a ditch, you pompous, lying, gutless, disingenuous f***”
    “go do us a favor and give yourself aids”
    “Take your gun, lube the barrel and f*** yourself in the a**”
    “go f*** yourself with a tire iron…until you bleed”
    “you should be f***ed sideways with a rusty knife”
    “Do us all a favor and kill yourself before you have a chance to have children”
    “you can go f*** yourself. Do it deep, long and hard.”
    “Go die in a f***ing fire. The world will be a better place without you in it.”
    “I will, however, say that this f*** up here is a complete a**hole and needs to die in a fire”
    “You are a waste of flesh. F*** off and die. In a fire.”
    “All you deserve is to get to die in a fire”
    “Go and die painfully, okay?”

  212. Rev. BigDumbChimp, here are some examples

    How hard is the request for an actual link to these comments to understand?

  213. Katharine

    Philip, some of those don’t sound entirely hazardous. An extra-large bellows? A duck? A greased pole?

    The others, yeah, but whatever’s wrong with people who like it up other orifices instead of or in addition to the traditional p-in-v way?

  214. Deepak Shetty

    @Skeptical Skeptic

    no matter what you think of the source, someone wishing death on someone or hoping they get sodomized/violently sexually assaulted simply because they disagree is never useful or defensible. Not in jest, not when taken literally, not when made in frustration. Never.

    Agreed.
    The question is if people do indulge in profanities, should they be banned for it? This is emphatically not the same question.
    If your answer is yes , then I assume that for comments that are demonstrably worse(comments that cause actual physical damage or harm by virtue of people carrying them out) than *wishing* violent deaths , they should be met with the same ban, correct?
    If someone answers no the banning , should he be taken to task for it?

    Also are all profanities the same? The example I take is you go f*** yourself in the *** is not the same as I am going to f*** you in the ***. Agree or disagree?

  215. Katharine

    A duck kink. Now that’s a weird one. :P

  216. Katharine

    To be precise, most of what Philip Jr is citing aren’t threats of violence so much as requests for people to do violence to themselves.

  217. Philip Jr.

    Which, Katharine, is still “Sexually-explicit” and “obscene,” which are very clear violations of the terms and conditions.

    Which is precisely why they’re getting sent to Seed Media, despite your strange protests that they’re harmless.

  218. Deepak Shetty

    @Philip Jr
    Sigh.
    There is this comedy central clip, where Bernard Goldberg makes a statement to the effect that liberals would more likely abort a baby with genetic illness than conservatives. To which Jon Stewart paused and then said go f*** yourself.
    Do you think he should be banned?
    If not why not?

  219. Which is precisely why they’re getting sent to Seed Media, despite your strange protests that they’re harmless.

    I sure hope you sent links to each and every one.

  220. Philip Jr.

    It depends, Deepak.

    Does Comedy Central have terms or service that explicitly forbid it?

    No.

  221. Deepak Shetty

    @Philip

    Does Comedy Central have terms or service that explicitly forbid it?

    Oh so your contention is that the posts need to be removed , not because they are a sexual threat or have implied violence, but because they violate the terms? If Seed Media changes the terms and conditions to match Comedy Central, you would then be ok with said comments?
    Funny since you were objecting to the comments before you read the terms and conditions. Second your complaint should then be with the scienceblogs site admins, not P.Z. as the threat of violence is mostly absent from P.Z.’s posts

  222. So, how about those links Petra and Philip Jr. ?

  223. I find myself hopelessly bemused at the thought of these sober, serious fellows diligently typing the words “f*** you” into google and searching the 925,000 comments on Pharyngula for ones that offend them.

    Please do send them in, with links, because one thing I’ve learned in this thread is that you guys are liars who do not shy away from making up quotes or distorting them. I wouldn’t be too surprised if there were such rudenesses there…but with almost a million comments made in the last few years, no, I’m not going to slap down a policy of strict prohibition of profanity on all my commenters because a fraction of a percent offend you. This is a slice of the real world; face it, some percentage of reality will offend each one of us.

  224. Philip Jr.

    I’m simply shocked that you seem oblivious to the fact that suggestions of violence and sexual assault are commonplace on Pharyngula, PZ. There isn’t much interpretation that one can put on ““I will, however, say that this f*** up here is a complete a**hole and needs to die in a fire” that doesn’t make its purpose rather clear.

  225. Deepak Shetty

    @Sheril

    Needless to say, while I was not surprised at the response to Chris’ announcement, I am extremely dismayed.

    But not dismayed enough to actually discuss valid points? i.e. is it unethical for a journalist who claims to be objective to accept money/fellowship/honours from an organisation which is looking to push a particular perspective?
    http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/horgan06/horgan06_index.html

    Do the positives outweigh the negatives?

    easily, Yes. You believe it too , otherwise you’d stop blogging.

  226. Deepak Shetty

    @P.Z.
    Im curious , do you think you would ban a poster who made a statement of the form
    “you should be f***ed sideways with a rusty knife”
    (Assuming that this didhappen)

  227. I wouldn’t be too surprised if there were such rudenesses there

    Me either. In fact I guarantee it, but it would be nice to have a link to the comments that Petra claims and Philip Jr. seems to have at his fingertips but is unable to provide the source.

    Knowing who said what comments and in what context sure would shed some light on this terrible internet campaign of offense.

  228. Katharine

    “Which, Katharine, is still “Sexually-explicit” and “obscene,” which are very clear violations of the terms and conditions.”

    Depends on what your definition of sexual explicitness and obscenity is. One must balance that with the fact that sex often gets discussed fairly in-depth and occasionally with accompanying pictures on ScienceBlogs.

    Honestly, I think you may be getting a little too wilting-daisies on here.

  229. Katharine

    And I agree with what BDC says: links, please.

  230. negentropyeater

    Let’s pick one example of the choice “sexually explicit, obscene” language in Philip Jr.’s #212 :

    “Karol, go f*** yourself. Up the a**, since you’ve got such an obsession with that. Then die in a f***ing fire”

    Now, previous to this, in that same thread, these were some of the choice comments made by this same Karol :

    how come than all faggots in North America are represented and lead by homosexual pedophiles??

    I do not care if you gay boys screw each other in the ass as long as the faggots on receiving end of sodomy do not prepare and serve my food or come anywhere near me. All of my objection on that front are driven by concerns for my own health and have nothing to do with alleged homophobia, as I am not willing to risk my health just because some of you boys have your rectums so damaged that fecal matter leaks from your digestive tract into your abdominal cavity and turns you into human vectors spreading all kinds of nasty stuff.

    And Karol goes on and on and on…

    Now, I don’t condone the use of obscene sexual language, and I agree mostly with what Katharine said. But I would like people who read this blog to understand that commenters such as Karol is what we have to unfortunately deal with constantly on Pharyngula. They are not nice civil polite commenters, but odious trolls, who come to Pharyngula to provoke and spread their venomous speech and get their satisfaction from making many of us angry.

  231. J. J. Ramsey

    PZ Myers: “Please do send them in, with links, because one thing I’ve learned in this thread is that you guys are liars who do not shy away from making up quotes or distorting them.”

    Wow, that’s a blanket statement, and this from the guy who said, “Brayton [as in Ed Brayton of the blog Dispatches from the Culture Wars] loathes atheists, and would like to see them silenced.” By the way, you yourself rarely provide links on your plonk page so that readers can judge for themselves. Funny thing, that.

    From Googling Pharyngula, it looks like the one about the “business end of an extra large bellows” was tongue-in-cheek, complete with smiley. On the other hand, the one about the “razor-bladed stick and go die in a ditch” looks like a genuine insult, aimed at KnockGoats, interestingly enough. Some of the examples from post #212, I can’t find at all so far, which may not mean that much.

    BTW, Rev. Chimp, one catch with providing a lot of links is that the moderation filter tends to catch them.

  232. Janine

    J. J. Ramsey, the person who said that was a libertarian troll. Knockgoats is one of the more esteemed regulars at Pharyngula. And this is what he said in response.

    I addressed your arguments, admittedly dismissing them as the ignorant, ludicrous nonsense they are, and you responded with personal abuse. And you’re not even any good at that.

    In other words, Knockgoats dismissed the insult. How big of you to feel insulted by those words for Knockgoats.

  233. Milton C.

    Depends on what your definition of sexual explicitness and obscenity is. One must balance that with the fact that sex often gets discussed fairly in-depth and occasionally with accompanying pictures on ScienceBlogs.

    Honestly, I think you may be getting a little too wilting-daisies on here.

    Katharine, “go f___ yourself sideways with a rusty knife up your ass until you bleed.”

    That’s a quote from Pharyngula. Is sodomizing yourself with a rusted knife, lacerating your rectum so severely that you bleed, really leaving any question about sexually explicitness and obscenity.

    If not, I would love to see what you deem obscene.

  234. Petra

    Honestly, I think you may be getting a little too wilting-daisies on here.

    Katherine, if finding the phrase “Go f*** yourself with a chainsaw in that festering pustule of an a**hole of yours” obscene and sexually-explicit is being “wilted-daisies,” then I’m glad I’m intelligent enough to be a wilted daisy.

    And I’m certainly glad I don’t think that saying so is totally fine.

  235. Paul

    Wow, that’s a blanket statement,

    In the context of this post, not so much. There is a demonstrated history of people coming onto the Intersection to make false claims about how they were treated on Pharyngula. A couple past examples would be Anthony McCarthy complaining about banning and censorship, Daisy Deadhead claiming people were mean to her unprovoked (which was easily shown to be a lie), etc etc. Even in this thread alone there is Petra changing her persecution story and refusing to give a source for the offending post, and people using a post that is satire as an example to be quote-mined to demonstrate the rudeness of Pharyngula commenters.

    On the other hand, the one about the “razor-bladed stick and go die in a ditch” looks like a genuine insult, aimed at KnockGoats, interestingly enough.

    And interestingly, it is from a recurrent (at the time) Libertarian rabble-rouser named Ward S. Denker. He was not popular, and most of the regulars despised him (and he had a bone to pick with Myers due to the general hostility towards Libertarians on Pharyngula), but note he’s not in the dungeon. So much for Myers plonking or censoring everyone that doesn’t agree with him, as is commonly asserted in these parts.

  236. J. J. Ramsey

    Janine: “How big of you to feel insulted by those words for Knockgoats.”

    Sorry, but I didn’t feel any great empathy for Knockgoats. I just looked to see whether it was a real insult or something more like what Myers quoted in #210.

  237. Rev. BigDumbChimp

    BTW, Rev. Chimp, one catch with providing a lot of links is that the moderation filter tends to catch them.

    I’d settle for Petra giving us one link.

    Or Philip Jr. picking a few at a time.

    The point is very much to what you and negentropyeater demonstrated in your comments and could be addressed if the terribly offended folks here could actually back up their claims by providing a link to the source quote.

  238. Thomas H.

    So, one of Philip Jr.’s nastiest examples (“You can f*** yourself with a razor-bladed stick and go die in a ditch, you pompous, lying, gutless, disingenuous f***”) is completely real, at least, and came about due to nothing more than a spat over the accuracy of American history.

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/01/its_yet_another_atheist_bus_po.php#comment-1364322

    And, from the looks of PZ’s log, the author isn’t banned…although PZ all but told us yesterday that he has no problem with such tripe as long as it doesn’t happen a lot (seriously)?

    As many have said – this is an in-your-face violation of Seed Media’s terms and conditions. I wonder if PZ even has a moderation system in place, seeing as how he seems oblivious that some of this stuff is even on his blog to begin with.

    I don’t even want to read thorugh the rest. When one of the worst, such as this one, has truth behind it, that’s enough for me.

  239. Rev. BigDumbChimp

    That’s a quote from Pharyngula. Is sodomizing yourself with a rusted knife, lacerating your rectum so severely that you bleed, really leaving any question about sexually explicitness and obscenity.

    Who said it? What was it in response to? Did this comment actually exist?

    Can you please provide a link to it or do I just need to take you and the other’s honest scout promises about the author of said comment (something mostly missing from the pearl clutchers here) and the context in which it was said (almost completely missing here) or that it even exists?

  240. Katharine

    Oh, there is some awesome skewering of this post going on at Pharyngula.

    By the way – http://givesgoodemail.com/2010/03/03/religious-wingnuts-on-parade/

    Apparently the People Who Should Focus On Their Own F#$%ing Family want to stone Tillikum.

    Crazy #$%$#%^s.

  241. Katharine

    “# 234. Milton C. Says:
    March 3rd, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    Depends on what your definition of sexual explicitness and obscenity is. One must balance that with the fact that sex often gets discussed fairly in-depth and occasionally with accompanying pictures on ScienceBlogs.

    Honestly, I think you may be getting a little too wilting-daisies on here.

    Katharine, “go f___ yourself sideways with a rusty knife up your ass until you bleed.”

    That’s a quote from Pharyngula. Is sodomizing yourself with a rusted knife, lacerating your rectum so severely that you bleed, really leaving any question about sexually explicitness and obscenity.

    If not, I would love to see what you deem obscene.
    # 235. Petra Says:
    March 3rd, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    Honestly, I think you may be getting a little too wilting-daisies on here.

    Katherine, if finding the phrase “Go f*** yourself with a chainsaw in that festering pustule of an a**hole of yours” obscene and sexually-explicit is being “wilted-daisies,” then I’m glad I’m intelligent enough to be a wilted daisy.

    And I’m certainly glad I don’t think that saying so is totally fine.”

    Dude, I was talking about the duck and the bellows. Stop quote-mining, ignorant twits.

  242. Milton C.

    “Go die in a f***ing fire. The world will be a better place without you in it.”

    Again, one of the worst on Philip’s list (because it directly requests the death of an individual) is true. It came after “Sean” made an equally stupid remark about Ted Kennedy’s death.

    What’s so damning is that PZ Myers was following this thread, chimed in to scold a poster for being “libertarian” just a couple of posts above this one, but apparently felt that wishing for the death of another wasn’t all that bad.

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/08/ted_kennedy_has_died.php#comment-1875641

    And you tell us you have no idea that these things are said, PZ. Liar.

  243. Katharine

    “# 234. Milton C. Says:
    March 3rd, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    Depends on what your definition of sexual explicitness and obscenity is. One must balance that with the fact that sex often gets discussed fairly in-depth and occasionally with accompanying pictures on ScienceBlogs.

    Honestly, I think you may be getting a little too wilting-daisies on here.

    Katharine, “go f___ yourself sideways with a rusty knife up your ass until you bleed.”

    That’s a quote from Pharyngula. Is sodomizing yourself with a rusted knife, lacerating your rectum so severely that you bleed, really leaving any question about sexually explicitness and obscenity.

    If not, I would love to see what you deem obscene.
    # 235. Petra Says:
    March 3rd, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    Honestly, I think you may be getting a little too wilting-daisies on here.

    Katherine, if finding the phrase “Go f*** yourself with a chainsaw in that festering pustule of an a**hole of yours” obscene and sexually-explicit is being “wilted-daisies,” then I’m glad I’m intelligent enough to be a wilted daisy.

    And I’m certainly glad I don’t think that saying so is totally fine.”

    I was talking about the duck and the bellows. Your reading comprehension is terrible.

  244. Rev. BigDumbChimp

    And, from the looks of PZ’s log, the author isn’t banned…although PZ all but told us yesterday that he has no problem with such tripe as long as it doesn’t happen a lot (seriously)?

    Yeah he’s not banned, and if you care to look beyond your own myopia blinded sense of outrage you’ll see it was the regulars there who dealt with that idiot. Good grief.

    You people are really hilarious.

    How do you stand living in a world where possible offense lurks around every corner?

    Philip Jr. and Petra, still waiting on links from you.

  245. Rev. BigDumbChimp

    I see my comments are being moderated now?

  246. Rev. BigDumbChimp
  247. Shoot yourselves in the feet some more, guys. That quote about a “razor-bladed stick” is from an annoying libertarian pest who was quite fond of that kind of cannonade, it was directed at one of our regular commenters, and the guy was reviled for it, among other reasons.

    You might as well dig up some creationist quotes from the comments and accuse me of running a blog that endorses creationism. It would be about as credible.

  248. Rev. BigDumbChimp
  249. Oh, also: he wasn’t banned, but he was urged to leave. He took the hint.

  250. negentropyeater

    Please note that Petra is still refusing to provide a link to the thread where she claims to have been told to “get raped and die”.

  251. Milton C.

    A couple more examples of some very explicit suggestions that people need to be murdered or otherwise be snuffed as a living thing from the planet:

    “Peter’s misogynist ass needs to die” (from a Molly winner, no doubt. I’m not surprised) This was, I’ll add, an argument over whether or not “Family Guy” is a good show.

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/03/talking_dog_is_an_atheist.php#comment-1515640

    “I will, however, say that this f*** up here is a complete a**hole and needs to die in a fire.”

    Also true. http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/02/bob_marshall_backpedaling_unsu.php#comment-2298376

    That first example is particularly disgusting.

  252. Carlie

    Petra, Philip, J.J. and the rest, would you think that someone who posts a link to thiswith the comment “Gotta laugh!” on it should be banned?

    That was posted by your own Piltdown Man, who was in fact banned at Pharyngula but seems to be a favored commenter here.

  253. Seminatrix

    That quote about a “razor-bladed stick” is from an annoying libertarian pest who was quite fond of that kind of cannonade, it was directed at one of our regular commenters, and the guy was reviled for it, among other reasons.

    There you have it, fellas. You’ve been saying for two days that PZ turns a blind eye to violent and sexually-explicit comments if they’re directed at someone he doesn’t like/agree with.

    He just confirmed that for you. The razor blade sodomy comment got ignored because it was directed at an “annoying libertarian,” and thus it was absolutely fine.

  254. Antiochus Epiphanes

    As a Greek king of the middle east, I am unfamiliar with some of the terminology used here. What is “f***”? Perhaps it would be easier to explain how one might “f***” themselves with business end of a bellows (I have many smiths and artisans attached to my court so I am well-familiar with these bellows)?

  255. Wowbagger

    I see the intellectually dishonesty, baseless appeal to emotion and rampant false equivalence of the self-appointed Loyal Intersection Morality Police (should there be an acronym?) continues, undeterred by anything resembling reason or actual evidence (in context).

    Those of you in the uninitiated cheer squad might actually try reading some of the posts on Pharyngula rather than just accepting the pap being spooned to you by the NetPolice here – the big picture is far different from the stick-figure crayon drawings of strawpeople they’re handing out.

    Maybe they could commission Jack Chick for some illustrations.

  256. Wowbagger

    Seminatrix, learn to read for comprehension. The comment you reference came from the annoying libertarian and was directed at a regular on the site. And yet the person was not banned.

    Kind of sinks your ‘argument’, doesnt it?

  257. Rev. BigDumbChimp

    There you have it, fellas. You’ve been saying for two days that PZ turns a blind eye to violent and sexually-explicit comments if they’re directed at someone he doesn’t like/agree with.

    He just confirmed that for you. The razor blade sodomy comment got ignored because it was directed at an “annoying libertarian,” and thus it was absolutely fine.

    Reading comprehension fail. It was from an annoying libertarian pest, not at one.

    See

    is from an annoying libertarian pest

  258. Janine

    Seminatrix, I do not admire your reading comprehension. That was said by the libertarian, not directed at the libertarian.

  259. bilbo

    That quote about a “razor-bladed stick” is from an annoying libertarian pest who was quite fond of that kind of cannonade, it was directed at one of our regular commenters, and the guy was reviled for it, among other reasons.

    PZ, perhaps you’ve been oblivious to the fact that we’ve been saying for TWO DAYS now that you do just what you said: let violent and/or sexually explicit threats slide because “that guy deserved it.” That’s exactly our point. You’re a tribialist, justifyign hate with personal opinion, and not a smidge of rational thought.

    Thanks for confirming us.

  260. Rev. BigDumbChimp

    let violent and/or sexually explicit threats slide because “that guy deserved it.”

    I see bilbo also suffers from a lack of reading comprehension skills.

  261. Vyspyr

    couple more examples of some very explicit suggestions that people need to be murdered or otherwise be snuffed as a living thing from the planet:

    “Peter’s misogynist ass needs to die” (from a Molly winner, no doubt. I’m not surprised) This was, I’ll add, an argument over whether or not “Family Guy” is a good show.

    Disgusting. Get your damn house in order, PZ. You’re an enabler of hate just as much as the worst religious fools, giving voice to this immature filth.

  262. Wowbagger

    Bilbo,

    Read again, this time for comprehension. The comment was directed at someone PZ mostly agrees with by someone he doesn’t; that person was not banned. That is the opposite of what you’re claiming. You’re wrong.

    Now, let’s see if you’ve got enough character to own up to it.

  263. Janine

    Chimpy, we know Bilbo’s past. It could be that he said that just to bait people.

  264. Antiochus Epiphanes

    Chimpy, we know Bilbo’s past. It could be that he said that just to bait people

    You might say that he is the master.

  265. Seminatrix

    The question isn’t whether or not there’s cronyism in comment moderation (because there is on any blog) – it’s the simple fact that PZ lets people from either side post suggestions of sodomy, sexual violation, and even wishing that posters would die (“Peter’s misogynist ass needs to die”), while the rules of his web hosting group specifically outline that such speech is not allowed.

    I’m going to send a message to Seed Media Group as well, if nothing else to get their rationale behind why this one blog gets excluded from their own legal, binding policy. What’s the best address?

  266. Wowbagger

    Vyspyr,

    Try reading the actual posts (not the cherry-picks) and seeing the context in which they were written. If I did what you’re doing I could just as easily turn around and claim, in another blog, that on Intersection someone named Vyspyr was writing hateful, violent things because he/she said, (and I quote) ‘Peter’s misogynistic ass needs to die’, and say that I saw it written in a comment with his/her name at the top.

    Technically, that would be true; it’s right there in post (currently) #262. In context, of course, it’s nonsense.

  267. Rev. BigDumbChimp

    “Peter’s misogynist ass needs to die” (from a Molly winner, no doubt. I’m not surprised) This was, I’ll add, an argument over whether or not “Family Guy” is a good show.

    Disgusting. Get your damn house in order, PZ. You’re an enabler of hate just as much as the worst religious fools, giving voice to this immature filth.

    Are you folks even trying any longer?

    Is research into your claims something you think is unnecessary?

    Look up that thread and and tell me the context of that quote and what it was in response to.

    go ahead

    There’s a pattern forming here folks.

  268. negentropyeater

    So let’s see, for now, we’ve got :

    1. Petra who still refuses to provide a link to substantiate her allegations, does not appear at all in the comment log of Pharyngula, and keeps changing her story.

    2. A libertarian troll who writes a nasty sexually explicit comment to one of the Pharyngula regulars.

    3. A homophobic troll Karol who gets told a nasty sexually explicit comment after having written numerous sexually explicit offensive comments such as “faggots screwing themselves in the ass and turning into human vectors spreading all kinds of nasty stuff”.

    Your case doesn’t look good Philip Jr.

  269. Janine

    Milton C, MAJeff said that in response to this.

    F*** you Michelle R., you stupid f***ing b**ch.

    All she said what it was too bad that Family Guy isn’t funny. It was not an argument over if the show was funny. One woman said the show was not funny. In return, she got a misogynist response. But, hey, what is a little misrepresentation among friends?

  270. Methinks Seminatrix and bilbo are (intentionally or not) using the wrong referent for “the guy” in “the guy was reviled for it”. Seminatrix and bilbo seem to think that applies to the target of the insult, while PZ Myers (obviously, in context) intended it to apply to the libertarian troll/nitwit.

  271. Janine

    Oops! Sorry about that.

  272. Philip Jr.

    “Peter’s misogynist ass need to die”

    …and this would be precisely what people in this thread have been talking about. On virtually any other blog out there, this kind of hateful worthlessness gets you banished, even if it’s in response to another insult. wishing for someone’s death is a line that most people with a rational mind do not cross.

  273. Rev. BigDumbChimp

    My comment on the subject is in moderation.

    How about you, Philip Jr., look up that comment and figure out the context?

    Go ahead.

  274. Antiochus Epiphanes

    “wishing for someone’s death is a line that most people with a rational mind do not cross.”

    What does rationality have to do with it?

  275. Wowbagger

    Rev. BigDumbChimp asked:How about you, Philip Jr., look up that comment and figure out the context?

    Unfortunately, that would require some reading comprehension and critical thinking skills – something that (along with intellectual honesty, a basic understanding of human social behaviours, sociolinguistics, and the tiniest grasp of internet culture) Philip Jr seems to lack the capacity for.

    With that in mind, I’m going to put my money on ‘continues to bleat using fallacious reasoning and baseless claims’ instead.

  276. minitus

    Wow, where to start. First, some throat-clearing:

    I’m a proud Pharyngulite. PZ and his blog do more for skepticism and reason in our world than anything else (IMHO), partly through shock factor and rhetoric that is very much needed. I understand the internet, too. I get it. It’s a dog-eat-dog place. Always has been. Always will be.

    First, bilbo and friends are wrong. PZ is an equal-opportunity blogger when it comes to people posting profanity, etc. Claims otherwise are simply false. I’ve seen creobots post equally nasty stuff to OMs and I have seen both not get scolded.

    BUT – bilbo et al. also have a point. As Seminatrix said, the point isn’t what person says such things, but that scuh rhetoric is used to begin with. Suggesting that someone should die/sodomize themselves/etc/ etc/ etc/ isn’t ever a justified response, not even if the previous poster was equally inflammatory. In the case of “Peter’s misogynist ass needs to die,” the defense that it came after someone using the word b*tch is not a rational defense. Calling someone a b*tch and suggesting that someone die are two different creatures. Both are useless; one steps over a very dark line into a violent, hate-filled realm that reason should have nothing to with. I can easily find most (but not one or two) of Philip’s multiple quotes from way above, and they’re on the blog. That’s disturbing. The argument that most of them came in the midst of an ongoing spat is no justification whatsoever.

    Lastly, I hear several of you suggesting that some posters here (“Mooneyites”) are too sensitive and easily offended. Well, if you aren’t, why lash back with escalating invective when someone offends you? That’s just a bad pearl-clutching as someone acting all huffy. And it shows that you’re very easily offended yourself. Just something to think about.

    Anyway, that’s my .02, and I’m out. People here on both sdies are taking this uber-personally and are thus unable to examine this critically.

    Flame on.

  277. Rev. BigDumbChimp

    wishing for someone’s death is a line that most people with a rational mind do not cross

    Yes, yes no one ever uses hyperbole to make a point.

    Someone get the fainting couch

  278. Paul

    Try reading the actual posts (not the cherry-picks) and seeing the context in which they were written. If I did what you’re doing I could just as easily turn around and claim, in another blog, that on Intersection someone named Vyspyr was writing hateful, violent things because he/she said, (and I quote) ‘Peter’s misogynistic ass needs to die’, and say that I saw it written in a comment with his/her name at the top.</blockquote
    QFT.

    Philip Jr says the following was posted on Pharyngula:

    “Go and die painfully, okay?”

    The closest that could be found is:

    The following is an actual message I recieved on my Youtube channel from a religious person who is apparently upset that I am an Atheist.

    “Die painfully okay? …

    Context? Who needs it, when you have a good quotemine.

  279. minitus

    Oh, and if Seed has a policy forbidding the behavior you guys have been arguing about (which it does), the behavior shouldn’t be allowed on Pharyngula as long as it’s hosted there. Bar-none.

  280. Feynmaniac

    wishing for someone’s death is a line that most people with a rational mind do not cross

    “Hyperbole (pronounced /haɪˈpɜrbəli/[1], from ancient Greek ὑπερβολή ‘exaggeration’) is a rhetorical device in which statements are exaggerated. It may be used to evoke strong feelings or to create a strong impression, but is not meant to be taken literally.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperbole

  281. Milton C.

    “Peter’s misoguynist ass needs to die.”

    If you guys can show that this is somehow not a wish for someone’s death, I’m all ears.

  282. Remarkable.

    First you can’t comprehend a simple English sentence and complain that I play favorites and let people on ‘my side’ get away with crude remarks…and then when it is discovered that you got it wrong, that the person saying the nasty stuff was an opponent, not a word of apology, not even an acknowledgment that Bilbo and Seminatrix got it exactly backwards.

    Then you find another example of someone demanding someone die…only it’s Shplane, yet another weird guy randomly trolling the blog…who if you read a little further down, you’d discover that everyone is piling on him for his out-of-line comments. Without wishing him an ugly death, by the way.

    Then you find another instance of someone, this time a respected regular, saying “Peter’s misogynist ass needs to die”. You neatly remove the context, in this case that this “Peter” was another drive-by creep who’d just, out of the blue, announced “F*** you Michelle R., you stupid f***ing b**ch.” What was being said was not a threat of physical action, by a hyperbolic request that the annoying misogynist be banned.

    What you all seem to miss is that anyone can comment on Pharyngula — people who detest me, people who like me. We have creationists, homophobes, right-wing loons, libertarian loons, homeopaths, chiropractors, all brands of crazy, all converging on the site and engaging in heated argument. I don’t censor and I don’t ban, no matter what their point of view, simply for being angry and profane. I am not interested in maintaining a happy little G-rated site for family entertainment in which we all have sweet little discussions; again in direct contradiction of your repeated claims, it’s the freewheeling and often antagonistic atmosphere that gets both sides swapping barbs.

    And we like it.

    It’s going to stay that way. Go ahead, whine to Seed. If your case is anything like what you’ve made so far, they’ll laugh your petulant, whimpering butts out the door.

  283. Amy

    I’m sure that those in the world who have literally been “fucked with a broomstick” and lived to tell about, like my uncle, just find it gut-bustingly funny when you people use his few moments of life-altering, hellish torture as a light-hearted jab for your own juvenile amusement.

    Keep trying to legitimize it, and make yourselves look subhuman. Keep it up. You’re doing such a wonderful job.

  284. Knockgoats

    On the other hand, the one about the “razor-bladed stick and go die in a ditch” looks like a genuine insult, aimed at KnockGoats, interestingly enough. – Some Pearl-clutcher

    So it was, and you know what? I couldn’t have cared less. The numbskull who made the remark, who used the handle Ward S. Denker (and claimed, IIRC, that this was his real name), did offend me by his glibertarian callousness and idiocy, but not by his use of “naughty words”.

    I think we’ve all met pompous prodnoses like Philip Jr., IRL, or at least seen them on TV – we used to have a hilarious one in the UK, by the name of Mary Whitehouse. A British porn mag was named Whitehouse in her honour – I wonder if any publisher would be kind enough to name one “Philip Jr.”.

    BTW, I haven’t been following this ridiculous thread for the most part, but I heard on the-blog-that-must-not-be-named-here-for-fear-of-causing-fits-of-the-vapours that “Piltdown Man” denies being the same as the lunatic of that handle banned from TBTMNBNHFFOCFOTF. Well, Piltdown Man, if that’s so, I apologise – and you should know that there’s a lunatic out there using the same handle. Google him on TBTMNBNHFFOCFOTF and you’ll see what I mean.

  285. Knockgoats

    We seem to require an entire fleet of waaaaambulances here.

  286. gillt

    This post is reminding me of the time in-the-not-so-distant past when usual The Intersection flunkies (bilbo and milton c.) threatened to ruin another commenter’s professional career by outing him.

    Remember how that went kids…Mooney deleting the entire post and threatening to ban ya’ll unless you grovel appropriately and promise never to do it again.

    Good times!

  287. Knockgoats

    bilbo@260,
    We’ve been saying for months that you have the mental prowess of a brain-damaged maggot on Mogadon.

    Thanks for confirming us.

  288. Seminatrix

    Thanks boys. Your sudden reliance on insults is all we’ve come to expect from years of Pharyngula training.

  289. Knockgoats

    Semanatrix@254,

    I do apologise. I didn’t notice that you were the first to make the turnip-witted error of reading “from an annoying libertarian” as “to an annoying libertarian”. The credit is all yours; bilbo was just jumping on the bandwagon as it careered over the cliff.

  290. Rev. BigDumbChimp

    Thanks boys. Your sudden reliance on insults is all we’ve come to expect from years of Pharyngula training.

    Hilarious.

    Thanks for confirming what we’ve said about you folks. Namely that you don’t let the facts stand in the way of a good public protest of some perceived (yet hard to support) offense.

    We may need more than one fainting couch

  291. bilbo

    Show me someone who can argue without sprinkling their argument with references of sodomy and death, and I’ll show you someone who isn’t a Pharyngulite.

  292. John Morales

    Sheril Kirshenbaum,

    [The Value of Science Blogs]
    What do readers think? Do the positives outweigh the negatives?

    Yes, they do.

    The single-biggest blogging negative, however, is the grouping together of people who already agree about everything, and who then proceed to square and cube their agreements, becoming increasingly self-assured and intolerant of other viewpoints.

    Hm. Is it really a generic flaw of every instantiation of the medium?
    If so, singling out science blogs seems pointless.

    I do note some viewpoints are silly, and even demonstrably wrong. How much tolerance such viewpoints should be granted is problematic.

  293. Knockgoats

    Seminatrix,

    Well, I suppose with your record as a liar and evader, I shouldn’t be surprised that you simply ignore the fact that you made an accusation against PZ based on a beautifully precise inversion of what actually happened.

  294. Milton C.

    I’m still utterly stunned that there are people here defending statements such as “take a splintered stick and ram it up your vagina until it bleeds, then die.”

    And yes, Reverend, I am not ashamed to be offended by people talking about how much they want others to undergo severe sexual mutilation. If anything warranted a finating couch, seeing people defend that fith would most certainly be it.

  295. Rev. BigDumbChimp
  296. Wowbagger

    Seminatrix,

    Your continued demonstrated cowardice by failing to respond to numerous substantial points raised – or to show character by admitting you were flat-out wrong, as in post (currently) #254 – and to instead reference one insult is all we at Pharyngula have come to expect from years of Intersection training.

    Keep up the good work!

  297. Knockgoats

    bilbo,
    Sastra, OM. Just the first that comes to mind. We don’t mind, we’re very tolerant, we let her get away with a complete lack of obscenity, because she’s brilliant, witty, erudite, rational, fair-minded – everything you’re not. BTW, did you notice that your #286 refers to both sodomy and death?

  298. Knockgoats

    Milton C.
    “take a splintered stick and ram it up your vagina until it bleeds, then die.” entered into TBTMNBNHFFOCFOTF’s search facility, produces no matches. Do you have a link, or is this one you made up yourself?

  299. Rev. BigDumbChimp

    And yes, Reverend, I am not ashamed to be offended by people talking about how much they want others to undergo severe sexual mutilation. If anything warranted a finating couch, seeing people defend that fith would most certainly be it.

    Sure if you want to ignore the who, why and when of the comments as all of the fainting couch contenders have been doing. Very telling that you all refuse to do any research.

    I’m utterly stunned that people can completely ignore any context to the comments being referenced and continue to be so offended without being able to support or defend against the evidence laid out before them.

    Did you guys just do a search for the seven dirty words on Pharyngula then grab your pearls in disgust when you saw a phrase?

  300. Vyspyr

    I’m still utterly stunned that there are people here defending statements such as “take a splintered stick and ram it up your vagina until it bleeds, then die.”

    Don’t act so shocked, Milton. They’re jockeying for points in a blog war. And when you’re in a blog war, you never concede anything to your opponent…even if that means standing up in support of sodomy.

    It’s all a game to these people. And while they’re playing, there are actual people in the real world who really get splintered sticks rammed up their vaginas and die…for reasons just as insiginificant as using foul language to describe a cartoon. I didn’t expect them to go this far to foster their culture war, but I was wrong.

  301. Wowbagger

    Bilbo wrote:Show me someone who can argue without sprinkling their argument with references of sodomy and death, and I’ll show you someone who isn’t a Pharyngulite.

    Bilbo, that is an outright lie. Please cite the comment numbers in this post where I have done either – other than to quote posts on another thread.

    And you still haven’t apologised to PZ for misrepresenting him in post (currently) #260. Why is that?

  302. I’m still utterly stunned that there are people here defending statements such as “take a splintered stick and ram it up your vagina until it bleeds, then die.”

    The only person who has said that is Milton C. Seriously. Nobody said it, and nobody is defending it.

    If somebody did say something like that to someone on Pharyngula, there would be a ton of bricks coming their way. Metaphorically, of course.

  303. Maslab

    I’m still utterly stunned that there are people here defending statements such as “take a splintered stick and ram it up your vagina until it bleeds, then die.”

    I’m utterly stunned that there are people who actually take statements like that seriously.

  304. Wowbagger

    Vyspyr, (currently) #301

    Please include the link to the comment(s) to which you refer where such a suggestion is made by someone on Pharyngula to another poster. That way we will know a) that it actually exists (since that is currently in doubt) and b) that you’ve read it in context.

    Otherwise, stop. What you’re doing is trivialising real violence and degrading the suffering of those who have genuinely experienced it with your ridiculous as-yet-unsupported claims.

  305. Rev. BigDumbChimp

    Good luck Wowbagger. The only people doing the research and looking up quotes are the one who care about accuracy. Namely, us evil offensive Pharyngula regulars.

  306. Knockgoats

    “even if that means standing up in support of sodomy” – Vyspyr [emphasis added]

    Shakespeare could have used that one, Vyspyr! (Edmund in King Lear says “I grow. I prosper. Now, gods, stand up for bastards!”.)

    BTW, what have you got against sodomy as such, Vyspyr? If the sodomiser and the sodomisee both consent to it, why is it any of your concern?

  307. Wowbagger

    This thread in summary: lots of umbrage taken at claims demonstrated to be false – yet no-one has the character to admit they were deceived by the actions of some dishonest cherry-pickers with a grudge.

    Says a lot, really.

  308. Rev. BigDumbChimp
  309. bilbo

    If somebody did say something like that to someone on Pharyngula, there would be a ton of bricks coming their way. Metaphorically, of course.

    Really? Because there certainly were no metaphorical bricks hurled when someone said ““you should be f***ed sideways with a rusty knife” on your blog. Only silence.

    Oh, but I’m sure that the other person was being mean, and so they deserved it!

    I’m sure that’s what the people who literally rape others with rusty knives say when they’re arrested. She asked for it, you know. She was being mean.

    She had it coming.

  310. Rev. BigDumbChimp

    Really? Because there certainly were no metaphorical bricks hurled when someone said ““you should be f***ed sideways with a rusty knife” on your blog. Only silence.

    Link?

  311. Thebear

    Wow Bilbo, you really are your own brand of stupid. No other kind of stupid could ever compare.

    The reaction to the comment you are citing is explained in this thread. Either you choose to ignore it or you are too stupid to understand.

    I’m leaning towards the second one, but only because I’m feeling charitable-

  312. BdN

    @Rev.

    Well, you already know, but here it is : http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/05/bill_donohue_is_a_vile_and_dis.php#comment-1668631

    The complete quote now : “Yeah, well, usually I’m 100% with the “no-one ever deserves to be raped” line. And also 100% opposed to torture. But rape and torture apologists really make that position hard to sustain. Fuck that shithead sideways with a rusty knife. (Umm, but only metaphorically. *Draws self heroically back from cliffedge*)”

    Note that this was about Bill Donohue where he was minimizing the sexual abuse by the Irish church.

  313. Paul

    Link?

    And include the whole context, please. If it’s the Cath post I quoted above, it was not a statement directed at another poster, the text was different, and the context was rather relevant.

  314. Full quote:

    Yeah, well, usually I’m 100% with the “no-one ever deserves to be raped” line. And also 100% opposed to torture. But rape and torture apologists really make that position hard to sustain. F*** that s***head sideways with a rusty knife. (Umm, but only metaphorically. *Draws self heroically back from cliffedge*)

    This was in response to Bill Donohue telling the victim of rape by a priest to shut up.

    There is someone farther up who outright says that Donohue “deserves to be raped”. Several people, including myself, berate the guy for that kind of ugly comment. So yes, Bilbo is lying again: those bricks were thrown.

    Go ahead and listen to Donohue defend rape and child abuse. It doesn’t in any way excuse threatening violence, but it does explain why people were extremely angry.

  315. Janine

    Here is the link to Cath’s statement. It was in response to Bill Donohue yell at a victim of rape.

    And this is what PZ Myers said later in the thread.

    Please, people, no threats of violence and rape against Donohue. It’s ugly, and it’s exactly the behavior Donohue tries to excuse when Catholic priests do it; if I were on a radio program, I wouldn’t be making excuses for you guys, I’d plainly condemn even this talking about committing violence and rape.

    Bilbo, eat it and choke on it.

  316. J. J. Ramsey

    Carlie: “Petra, Philip, J.J. and the rest, would you think that someone who posts a link to this [work by Robert Crumb that I hope is meant to satirize racism and anti-Semitism] with the comment ‘Gotta laugh!’ on it should be banned?”

    Uh, if it wasn’t clear from the post with the link, it was certainly clear from the next post by the same author that he didn’t think much of those works of Crumb that he saw as racist and anti-Semitic, or as he put it, “That’s the thing about satire, you see. Like ‘postmodern irony’ it allows you to indulge your basest instincts with a cover of plausible deniability.”

    Now if you scroll down further on the thread with the post in question, you can see some facepalm-worthy comparisons of conservatism versus liberalism, but that wasn’t what you were talking about, right? You wanted to suggest that Piltdown Man was racist, did you not?

    Carlie: “That was posted by your own Piltdown Man”

    My own? I didn’t ask to be put in the same “dungeon” as him. Heck, not only did Myers write of me, “Wouldn’t normally have been subject to banning,” but as I pointed out before, he embellished the purported reasons for banning me.

    John Morales: “Hm. Is it really a generic flaw of every instantiation of the medium?”

    Back on the subject of this thread, I’d say no, not at all. The blogs of Orac and Isis are good examples of successful science blogs. Orac is a great resource to learn about quackery. Isis covers, among other things, the intersection of feminism and academia and often points out how sexism festers even in this day and age. They are also entertaining, mixing in sci-fi references or tongue-in-cheek bragging about “hotness” and other humor along with the serious material. Neither of these blogs is a big stickler for civility, with an F-bomb dropped here or some heated conversation there. In spite of that, though, neither blog suffers from a nasty, vituperative atmosphere. Might be interesting to probe why.

  317. Rev. BigDumbChimp
  318. I’m noticing the pattern here. A few people throw out accusations, including partial quotes, but don’t bother to link to the offending comment (which is odd, since they obviously found the quotes somehow).

    Then the gang from Pharyngula comes over, includes links, and shows that the quote was either by some drive-by opponent, was taken out of context, or that the Intersectionists either got it exactly backwards or were making stuff up.

    Are you tired of self-destructing yet? Or are you going to keep on stuffing your feet in your mouth?

  319. negentropyeater

    Because there certainly were no metaphorical bricks hurled when someone said ““you should be f***ed sideways with a rusty knife” on your blog. Only silence.

    A search for “sideways with a rusty knife” gives only the following Cath quote :
    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/05/bill_donohue_is_a_vile_and_dis.php#comment-1668631

    F*** that shithead sideways with a rusty knife. (Umm, but only metaphorically. *Draws self heroically back from cliffedge*)

    Not a metaphorical brick ? When the commenter clearly specifies that her comment is to be taken metaphorically ?

  320. J. J. Ramsey

    Knockgoats @#105: “Won’t do. You made the charge, so you link to the actual place where the incident occurred if you want to be taken seriously.”

    Take another look. The page to which I posted a link in post #102 contains the link to the actual incident in question.

  321. Milton C.

    I have a long comment in moderation (held up due to links) that provides links to about 95% of what Philip posted earlier and got accused of fabricating by PZ himself.

    More interestingly, it highlights that most of the poeple commenting here (i.e. Wowbagger, Jeanine (multiple times), and Rev. BigDumbChimp) are actually the people making these statements they’ve been trying so hard to defend.

    This explains it all.

  322. bilbo

    “just eat a lump of cold poison and die already. You are useless. I only hope you haven’t had the opportunity to breed and add another dose of willful ignorance to the world. You deserve nothing better than to live in a s***-hole without the benefit of electricity or clean water. Better yet, just kill yourself. Stop wasting valuable oxygen you demented f***tard. Get one of your ignorant creotard buddies to nail you up to a cross”

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/06/amphioxus_and_the_evolution_of.php#comment-952178

    What did “stan,” the focus of this hate, do? Why, he simply said equivalencies of “evolution is false” over and over and over again.

    I don’t like creationists any more than you people. But it’s just great to see we’re suggesting killing creationists off now – and, furthermore, doing nothing about it do moderate it. I won’t expect to see any metaphorical bricks, PZ – just more defense of death references.

  323. Janine

    Mutton Sea, one of the regulars of Pharyngula beat you to this by a couple of hours. Yes, a couple of those quotes are mine. I was serious with one. The other was a tease. I will leave it to the readers to figure out which is which. Also, I defend nothing. It is what it is. But I am sure you will continue to whine.

  324. bilbo

    “Please do the human genome a favor and kill yourself before you procreate.”

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/10/more_reasons_not_to_debate_cre.php#comment-2027935

    Oh, lookie there. Another example of the sentiment that, instead of fighting creationism, we should request that they kill themselves – a sentiment made in full True ReligionTM “kill the infidels” fashion, I’ll add.

  325. bilbo

    “Mutton Sea, one of the regulars of Pharyngula beat you to this by a couple of hours. Yes, a couple of those quotes are mine. I was serious with one. The other was a tease. I will leave it to the readers to figure out which is which. Also, I defend nothing. It is what it is. But I am sure you will continue to whine.”

    Glad to see you finally back down off the “oh, you’re just lying” foolishness. It’s liberating to take the tribal headdress off, isn’t it?

  326. bilbo

    Christians who beleive this ought to be hit in the head with a tire iron.
    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/12/for_the_nerd_who_isnt_very_bri.php#comment-1255128

    If people believe the flood myth, they should be physically assulated. Beautiful.

    And again, no “ton of bricks” from the blogger famous for so often pointing out that atheists don’t advocate violence. The hits keep coming.

  327. Janine

    Glad to see you finally back down off the “oh, you’re just lying” foolishness. It’s liberating to take the tribal headdress off, isn’t it?

    I did no such thing. I already caught you in your lie. That was enough.

  328. Seminatrix

    Seed Media Group policy:

    You may not submit any Submission that is unlawful, harmful, harassing, threatening, abusive, hateful, libelous, defamatory, obscene, pornographic, profane, vulgar, indecent, sexually explicit or otherwise objectionable

    From Pharyngula, a Seed Media Group blog:

    “just eat a lump of cold poison and die already. You are useless. I only hope you haven’t had the opportunity to breed and add another dose of willful ignorance to the world. You deserve nothing better than to live in a s***-hole without the benefit of electricity or clean water. Better yet, just kill yourself. Stop wasting valuable oxygen you demented f***tard. Get one of your ignorant creotard buddies to nail you up to a cross”

  329. Again, nobody defends the angry exasperation that erupts from time to time. It’s what happens when the argument gets fierce. But I will point out that that quote is from a science post (you know, the ones that don’t exist on my site), the guy telling the fellow to kill himself is an outlier in that thread, and you’re minimizing “Stan”. Stan is not just an occasional creationist: he goes on sprees, much like David Mabus, in which he’ll post dozens of comments saying exactly the same thing, and he also constantly morphs his username to evade killfiles and the fact that he’s been banned.

    I will repeat: I do not police comments word by word. These are grown-ups, mostly, and I leave them to talk among themselves as they will. Stan is a perfect example of what my comment policy does restrict: people who abuse the comment system to disrupt other people’s conversations.

    And yeah, Bilbo is a dishonest crank. Are you ever going to at least acknowledge and retract the falsity of your claim in #260? Or are you just hoping we’ll forget your embarrassingly stupid mistake?

    ‘Cause we’re not, you know.

  330. bilbo

    PZ Myers: “Atheism is not a state to be avoided….It doesn’t even make you want to bomb churches.”

    From PZ Myers’ blog: “just eat a lump of cold poison and die already. You are useless. I only hope you haven’t had the opportunity to breed and add another dose of willful ignorance to the world. You deserve nothing better than to live in a s***-hole without the benefit of electricity or clean water. Better yet, just kill yourself. Stop wasting valuable oxygen you demented f***tard. Get one of your ignorant creotard buddies to nail you up to a cross”

    Oh yes, atheism doesn’t make you want to burn churches. But, apparently, it can make you want to see Christians drink poison and die, or be nailed to logs, hung verticially, and die excrutiatingly over the course of several days in a tpe of longform torture.

    One needs to look no farther than PZs own blog to refute his statements. Keep your own house in order if you’re going to worry about being characterized as violent, PZ.

  331. J. J. Ramsey

    bilbo: “Oh yes, atheism doesn’t make you want to burn churches. But, apparently, it can make you want to see Christians drink poison and die, or be nailed to logs, hung verticially, and die excrutiatingly over the course of several days in a tpe of longform torture.”

    That’s rather unfair to atheists, especially explicitly friendly ones like Hemant Mehta.

    Oh, and for the record, here’s a link to your quote: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/06/amphioxus_and_the_evolution_of.php#comment-952178

  332. Seminatrix

    Or better yet….

    PZ Myers, Pharyngula: “It’s easy to be tolerant and civil when you’ve compelled everyone to be agreeable with you; the challenge is to do the same when you’re being denounced.

    PZ Myers, The Intersection: “I am not interested in maintaining a happy little G-rated site for family entertainment in which we all have sweet little discussions; again in direct contradiction of your repeated claims, it’s the freewheeling and often antagonistic atmosphere that gets both sides swapping barbs.

    And we like it.

    It’s going to stay that way.”

    Looks like PZ has given up on his own value system. Either that, or Intersection-PZ and Pharyngula-PZ are having a split personality fight.

    Predictable.

  333. bilbo

    Oh, not all atheists think that violently, J.J.

    Just the ones that post tripe like that on Pharyngula. You know, the place where they constantly decry linking atheists to violence.

  334. Petra

    “PZ Myers, Pharyngula: “It’s easy to be tolerant and civil when you’ve compelled everyone to be agreeable with you; the challenge is to do the same when you’re being denounced.

    …and we’ve seen PZ rabidly defending those who fail to meet that challenge for over 200 posts now. Classic. Absolutely, mindnumbingly classic.

  335. bilbo

    PZ Myers, Pharyngula: “It’s easy to be tolerant and civil when you’ve compelled everyone to be agreeable with you; the challenge is to do the same when you’re being denounced.”

    Hmm. Wise words from PZ Myers.

    Too bad he’s spent two days claiming that you can be as violent with your rhetoric as you want as long as someone’s been denouncing you.

    Which PZ Myers should we trust? They change like a fart in the wind depending on who’s arguing.

  336. Milton C.

    All those silly faithiests, claiming that people on PZs blog talk about assaulting Christians and reference violence….I mean, it’s not like anyone says that Christians should be beaten for believing certain things, or that they should drink poison and kill themselves rather than be religious.

    Where oh where would these silly faithiests get their ideas? Surely not from Pharyngula. Surely not…

  337. Wowbagger

    I’m tempted to do a count of how many times Bilbo has been caught out lying through his teeth on this thread and compare it to the number of times he’s acknowledged being caught out and shown character by retracting the comment.

    Anyone else fancy it’ll turn out to be lots vs. none at all?

  338. Antiochus Epiphanes

    Ultimately, what many of you are calling for is censorship…that’s what moderation is isn’t it? I find that obscene. I can live with the creotards, and the drive-by homophobes, the pedants, the trolls, and asshats who wish that people would die or get raped with whatever*, the profane, and the stupid alike. Your call for censorship I just find dull–like most of the commentary on this blog. The discussion (which is sometimes very informative at Pharyngula) proceeds at a lightening pace because almost nothing is held up for moderation…it is all up there, the good the bad, the stupid, and the evil. If you can’t handle it, don’t read it. Or killfile it. The bar at the right of your screen will allow you to scroll right past an author who you find offensive.

    Amy: I’m sure that your uncle doesn’t find allusions to broom-sodomy funny. I don’t either, for different reasons…BUT, let’s not pretend that the crime of suggesting that someone do that to themselves is really the same as actually carrying out the event in meat space.

    I’m a regular poster at Pharyngula, and not actually inclined to make many such suggestions (eg please insert {object} into your {orifice}). However, when I log on evenings, I do so with the quiet serenity that comes from knowing I will not have to take any of the suggestions that are offered to me should I choose not to. Not once have I found myself the victim of a crime.

  339. bilbo

    Perhaps you could call me a useless, s***eating c**stain like you have a history of doing, Wowbagger. It’ll make you feel so much better.

    And if you get lucky, maybe I’ll even go sodomize myself for you, per your past requests.

  340. Philip Jr.

    What PZ Myers says about New Atheists (note bold):

    “What the New Atheists (who are the same as the old atheists) have shown, though, is that they can be subjected to generations of intolerance and to continued denigration by people like Wright, who think their call for atheists to be silent and modest is a liberal attitude, and yet we manage to cope without resorting to violence or threats to shut up our critics.”

    Now, the actual reality:

    “Christians who beleive this ought to be hit in the head with a tire iron”

    just eat a lump of cold poison and die already. You are useless. I only hope you haven’t had the opportunity to breed and add another dose of willful ignorance to the world. You deserve nothing better than to live in a s***-hole without the benefit of electricity or clean water. Better yet, just kill yourself. Stop wasting valuable oxygen you demented f***tard. Get one of your ignorant creotard buddies to nail you up to a cross”

    “Peter’s misogynist ass needs to die” (Critics…you know, critics of “Family Guy” in this case)

    You guys need some work to live up to PZ’s wishful thinking.

  341. gillt

    Nothing new here. Like McCarthy before him, bilbo’s been caught quote mining from, I believe, Coyne’s blog. Paul W. did the research and called him on it.

  342. Antiochus Epiphanes

    Bilbo: The quote from Wowbagger to which you linked was directed at one Professor Dendy. Are you one and the same? Did you get plonked twice?

  343. Wowbagger

    Bildo, you’ve demonstrated that you meet that description without me having to go to the effort of writing it. But if you’re trying to shame me, I have some bad news for you – I make no apologies for using those words; that’s what they’re for.

    Maybe that’s because I know it’s better to be foul-mouthed, forthright, upfront and intellectually honest than a cowardly, character-deficient, disingenuous, mealy-mouthed, demonstrated mendacious scumbag.

    By the way, have you apologised to PZ for your post #260 yet? You know, the one where you were wrong about what he did?

  344. bilbo

    Maybe that’s because I know it’s better to be foul-mouthed, forthright, upfront and intellectually honest than a cowardly, character-deficient, disingenuous, mealy-mouthed, demonstrated mendacious scumbag.

    Calling someone a “s***-eating c**stain” isn’t being intellectually honest, it’s taking the intellectual low-road. It’s a thoughtless shortcut. A cop-out.

    Or, as PZ said, the greatest intellectual challenge is to remain civil when other are not, while still speaking the truth. And you failed.

    You still do.

  345. Janine

    Wowbagger, I would like it if Bilbo took this back.

    Oh, but I’m sure that the other person was being mean, and so they deserved it!

    I’m sure that’s what the people who literally rape others with rusty knives say when they’re arrested. She asked for it, you know. She was being mean.

    She had it coming.

    But why should he when he can whine about the use of swear words. And, yes, I will confirm that I called dendy a sh*tstain on the panties of life.

    Did I just discredit everything I have ever said?

  346. Petra

    ““just eat a lump of cold poison and die already. You are useless. I only hope you haven’t had the opportunity to breed and add another dose of willful ignorance to the world. You deserve nothing better than to live in a s***-hole without the benefit of electricity or clean water. Better yet, just kill yourself. Stop wasting valuable oxygen you demented f***tard. Get one of your ignorant creotard buddies to nail you up to a cross”

    New Atheists: standing for nonviolent principles in the face of intolerance. (Or, as Wowbagger just put it, doing anything but being “intellectually honest.”)

  347. Janine

    Oh, but I’m sure that the other person was being mean, and so they deserved it!

    I’m sure that’s what the people who literally rape others with rusty knives say when they’re arrested. She asked for it, you know. She was being mean.

    She had it coming.

    This was by no means a thoughtless shortcut nor a cop-out. Never mind the fact that I shown that he was wrong, that Bilbo set fire to a straw PZ.

  348. Wowbagger

    Looks like I’ll have to add intellectual honesty to the list of topics I tell people that Intersection regulars fail to comprehend – right below hyperbole and rhetoric.

  349. Janine

    New Atheists: standing for nonviolent principles in the face of intolerance. (Or, as Wowbagger just put it, doing anything but being “intellectually honest.

    I have faced physical violence issued by people who did not say a bad word and have face people who hurled invectives at me. Try to guess which is easier to deal with?

  350. Wowbagger

    Not to mention context, cherry-picking, quote-mining and quotations…

  351. bilbo

    Some gems from Janine:

    “Take your gun, lube the barrel and f*** yourself in the a**” (In Janine’s defense, she only wanted derender to tear his rectum open and likely perforate his colon – not die. Derenders offense? Creationism.)

    “Sooty, find a splintering stick and f*** yourself up the ass.” Sooty’s offense? Being too libertarian.

    “Take a greased pole and f*** yourself.” Pole Greaser’s offense? Being an obstinate creationist.

    Janine has a strange penchant for wanting to see people sodomize themselves. Why?

  352. bilbo

    Bilbo posts Wowbagger’s quote: “go f*** yourself, you s***-eatign c**stain.”

    Wowbagger: “Those of you in the uninitiated cheer squad might actually try reading some of the posts on Pharyngula rather than just accepting the pap being spooned to you by the NetPolice here – the big picture is far different from the stick-figure crayon drawings of strawpeople they’re handing out.”

    bilbo: posts link to Wowbagger’s quote

    Wowbagger: “I make no apologies for using those words; that’s what they’re for.”

    So you know, we were totally misconstruing those words that Wowbagger totally admitted were used in the exact same context we painted them as. We’re sooooooooooo dishonest.

  353. Rev. BigDumbChimp

    More interestingly, it highlights that most of the poeple commenting here (i.e. Wowbagger, Jeanine (multiple times), and Rev. BigDumbChimp)

    Seriously folks, that’s all you got. We already pointed out that at times we use saucy language when dealing with idiots.

    How about all those links you are sooooooooooooo offended by that are the drive by trolls?

    Good grief you’re like the creationists moving the goalposts constantly when you are called on your BS.

    Petra where’s that link to your specific comment again?

  354. Petra

    I find it quite entertaining that the posters from Pharyngula who felt the need to come here to defend hate speech turned out to be the same ones who were responsible for the hate speech in question. Ravishing.

  355. Rev. BigDumbChimp

    Petra, where’s that link to the comment you say was directed at you?

  356. Antiochus Epiphanes

    I neither committed hate speech nor defended it. I expressed disgust at censorship. I hope that this is also entertaining.

    It also seems that the only posts that you react to are obscene.

  357. bilbo

    Let us not forget, Petra, that PZ Myers himself said that the benefit of atheism is that it finds ways to stand up to intolerance without stooping to violence and threats.

    But those violent threats and suggestions on his blog (see: ‘We should beat Christians in the head with a tire iron’)? Nothing wrong with that. Just pay attention to what he says. Not what he turns a blind, approving eye to.

  358. Seminatrix

    It also seems that the only posts that you react to are obscene.

    Seed Media Group Terms of Use by participating bloggers/commenters: “You may not submit any Submission that is unlawful, harmful, harassing, threatening, abusive, hateful, libelous, defamatory, obscene,pornographic, profane, vulgar, indecent, sexually explicit or otherwise objectionable”

    Posts from Pharyngula, a Seed Media Group blog:

    “Take your gun, lube the barrel and f*** yourself in the a**

    “just eat a lump of cold poison and die already. You are useless. I only hope you haven’t had the opportunity to breed and add another dose of willful ignorance to the world. You deserve nothing better than to live in a s***-hole without the benefit of electricity or clean water. Better yet, just kill yourself. Stop wasting valuable oxygen you demented f***tard. Get one of your ignorant creotard buddies to nail you up to a cross”

    “Christians who believe this (the Bible) ought to be hit over the head with a tire iron

    “F*** that s***head sideways with a rusty knife.”

    ____________________________________________________________________________

    Now, if you could kindly explain to us, logically, how the above statements are not generally obscene, abusive, profane, vulgar, indecent, and sexually explicit (regardless of what came before them – caustic or civil), you and others (including PZ) may begin to approach some semblance of relevancy.

  359. Janine

    Petra, I am interested to see your definition of hate speech.

    Bilbo, I take it that you stand by this statement.

    Oh, but I’m sure that the other person was being mean, and so they deserved it!

    I’m sure that’s what the people who literally rape others with rusty knives say when they’re arrested. She asked for it, you know. She was being mean.

    She had it coming.

    It is always so much more easy to attack a person when you stuff words in his mouth.

  360. bilbo

    It is always so much more easy to attack a person when you stuff words in his mouth

    Or, in your case, it’s so much more easy to attack a person when you just suggest they stuff a splintered stick up their rectum.

    Or a pole.

    Or a gun barrel.

  361. Antiochus Epiphanes

    This is tedious.

  362. Philip jr.

    This is tedious.

    Watching people defend sex crimes as justifiable humor usually is, Antiochus.

  363. bilbo

    Oh yes, Philip – I’m thinking of watching an innocent man get raped with a broken broomstick handle, and it’s knee-slappingly funny!!!!!!!

    These guys were right: sodoomy and rape are both appropriate and HILARIOUS!!!

  364. Seminatrix

    Of course, bilbo. You didn’t know? Wishing that someone you disagree with would have violating, psychologically-tormenting, physically-brutal sex crimes performed on them with sharp, rough objects is a totally appropriate response when you’re annoyed.

    Not only that, it’s “intellectually honest.

  365. bilbo

    At least some of them are thoughtful enough to suggest that the rapist use ‘lube.’

    Don’t ever believe those fools who claim that new atheists argue from violence like the rest of us. Just look at that kindness!

  366. Philip Jr.

    But how dare you even suggest such a thing, bilbo!! I mean, the only way you could make a claim about new atheists espousing religious intolerance on par with fundamentalists was if they went reallllllly overboard and said things like, I don’t know, that we should violently assault Christians for believing the flood story or, gee, let’s see, suggesting that Christians experience violent deaths due solely to their religious beliefs.

    But we all know you’ll never find that tripe on any New Atheist’s site. Especially not PZ Myers’ blog.

  367. Janine

    Or, in your case, it’s so much more easy to attack a person when you just suggest they stuff a splintered stick up their rectum.

    Or a pole.

    Or a gun barrel.

    Translation. My lies are nothing compared to the mean words that are said.

    Sorry, Bilbo, but you are admitted to being at Pharyngula just to stir things up. You have no intellectual honesty. There is no way to trust your words. And it is way to easy to whine about decorum.

    Wow, Seminatrix, telling a person to go get biblical with themselves is tantamont to a sex crime. How did you ever get out of a school playground safely?

  368. Feynmaniac

    What I find offensive is the people on this thread trivializing actual violence by shamelessly comparing it online hyperbole.

  369. Feynmaniac

    Honestly, if you guys want offensive material why not focus on the Bible? A lot murder, genocide, and misogyny there. Commands to kill sinners. David even buys a wife with 200 foreskins of his enemies.
    That book is more appalling and far, far more influential than Pharyngula could ever hope to be. It’s also NOT meant to be taken as hyperbole!

  370. Ichthyic

    a little late, but when Sheril said this:

    I’m not sure when you joined the network, but there’s no doubt the relationships between bloggers and our communities broke down since I started.

    first thing that popped in my head was to ask her if she was related to Yoko Ono.

  371. Ichthyic

    But how dare you even suggest such a thing, bilbo!! I mean, the only way you could make a claim about new atheists espousing religious intolerance on par with fundamentalists was if they went reallllllly overboard and said things like, I don’t know, that we should violently assault Christians for believing the flood story or, gee, let’s see, suggesting that Christians experience violent deaths due solely to their religious beliefs.

    that’s an excellent example of histrionics there, boyo.

    do you REALLY want to represent :

    Do i have to point out that this rain better have been salty- otherwise all the fish in the ocean would have died from the changes in salinity, as well as kill ALL deep sea creatures becasue they were squashed by the water pressure. And finally, WHERE the fuck is all this water?! Christians who beleive this ought to be hit in the head with a tire iron.

    as meaning literally that this person (who I’ve never seen post before or since on Pharyngula, btw), wanted to go out and start whacking people with tire irons?

    If so, you have no argument other than hyperbole.

  372. Ichthyic

    What I find offensive is the people on this thread trivializing actual violence by shamelessly comparing it online hyperbole.

    just so.

  373. Aquaria

    And look at all the Moonegit supporters here who follow their leader off that cliff of confusing what PZ writes with what his commenters write.

    EPIC Intellectual honesty FAIL

  374. Katharine

    I personally find anyone who puts unsubstantiated things over substantiated things fairly offensive.

  375. Seminatrix

    Wow, Seminatrix, telling a person to go get biblical with themselves is tantamont to a sex crime.

    “Go f*** yourself with a splintering stick.” – Janine

    You tell me, Janine. You’re the one using references to violent sexual assault as whimsical, good-natured fun.

  376. Seminatrix

    And look at all the Moonegit supporters here who follow their leader off that cliff of confusing what PZ writes with what his commenters write.

    I take it you’ve failed to read the entire thread, in which PZ Myers fully defends his commenters using sex crime, violent assault (beating Christians), and death references as appropriate responses because a person is being “annoying.”

  377. Vyspyr

    Sheril,

    You asked “Do the positives outweigh the negatives (of science blogs)?”

    Since, over the last 200 posts we’ve seen several people, including one of the world’s most popular science bloggers, defend one of blogging’s biggest negatives: an anonymity that allows people to spew forth references to sexual assault (rape with inanimate objects), physical violence (“Christians who believe this should be beaten with a tire iron.”), and death (“You are useless. Drink poison and die before you have a chance to procreate and spread your genes.”) in lieu of rational discourse about science.

    Not only that, we’ve seen these same people try to turn this negative into a positive of blogging. To quote PZ Myers, “We like it.”

    I think you should have your answer now.

  378. negentropyeater

    Sorry to derail the fascinating discussion on common insults found on Pharyngula, I’ll go back to Sheril’s question for a short while :

    “The Value of Science Blogs?”

    Bertrand Russel wrote, in one of his American Essays (1931-1935) “The Triumph of Stupidity” :

    the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt. Even those of the intelligent who have a nostrum are too individualistic to combine with other intelligent men whith whom they differ on minor points.
    It is, I think, undeniable that the best men of the present day have a wider and truer outlook, [...] but they are impotent spectators. Perhaps we shall have to realise that skepticism and intellectual individualism are luxuries which in our tragic days must be forgone, and if intelligence is to be effective it will have to be combined with a moral fervour which it usually possessed in the past but now usually lacks.

    So either :
    . a blog lets stupidity triumph and it has little or no value. This happens often when a blog attracts and lets a type of commenter triumph who have little or no interest in discussing contents but only focus on tone, who refuse to engage in evidence based reasoning, who refuse to provide evidence or references to support their arguments, and who relish in derailing threads.

    or :
    . a blog lets intelligence be effective and it has high value. This happens when a blog attracts intelligent commenters who are cocksure and possess a moral fervour to systematically denounce and scare away the kind of commenters who prevail in the blogs where stupidity triumphs. Intelligent commenters who prefer to dicuss contents and not tone, who engage in evidence based reasoning, who provide evidence and references to support their arguments, and who avoid to derail threads.

    These are of course the two ends of a wide spectrum, and I think one can use those criterias to value a specific blog.

    I think Pharyngula is a good example of Science blog that belongs to the high value category where intelligence is effective in not letting stupidity triumph.
    As I prefer to be polite I’ll let the reader decide which category this thread on “the value of science blogs” belongs to.

  379. Paul

    Basically everyone on the Intersection side has been conflating variations of “go f*** yourself” with “go get raped”. I find this extremely, extremely offensive on behalf of rape victims everywhere. Most of the posts in question are basically pointing out that someone was basically just masturbating on the blog, not engaging other posters. And you have the nerve to conflate masturbation and rape? You should be ashamed. Especially since it has been pointed out that rape metaphors, when they do come up, are very, very firmly pounced upon.

  380. Seminatrix still hasn’t read for comprehension.

    I take it you’ve failed to read the entire thread, in which PZ Myers fully defends his commenters using sex crime, violent assault (beating Christians), and death references as appropriate responses because a person is being “annoying.”

    I never said any such thing. I do not defend using threats of sex crimes or assault as a rhetorical strategy: I have said that I defend the principle of free speech, which means we let people say things even if we don’t like what they say. Apparently, to you and other commenters here, free speech means only letting people say things if we approve of them.

    And no, you’ve still got it backwards. What I said up there was that the offensive quote was from a commenter I found persistently annoying, with an ideology I found repugnant. I did not censor him. Again, that’s the thing about free speech; there are limits, of course, but they shouldn’t be applied differently to people on the basis of their political views.

    But then, that’s par for the course here. I’ve rarely encountered so much dishonest argument in one place as I’m seeing here, from Seminatrix and Vyspyr and Bilbo and Milton C and Philip Jr. Vyspyr in #378 makes the same kind of appalling and apparently intentional distortion.

  381. Janine

    Seminatrix, can you hear a thing when you have all of that echoing in your head?

    I have been a volunteer councilor for victims of violence. And I find it sickening that many of you would compare hyperbole with actual physical violence.

    So, yeah, you are so on point when you claim that I call it good natured fun.

    So, please carry on with your complaints that Pharyngula is full of racist, misogynist, rape loving, violent thugs. It shows that many of you have a reading comprehension that would embarrass a second grader. I would rather spend my time with a bunch of intelligent, foul mouthed and humorous people instead of of bunch of dour neo-Victorian idiots.

    This troll is gone.

  382. Deepak Shetty

    In summary
    We have pharyngulites defend the non banning of people who use profanities though people have tried to portray it as defend sexual threats/violence.
    From all the examples posted only a handful could be actually treated as threats of violence. go f*** yourself or go take an iron rod and shove it up are common forms of abuse that are used even in face to face arguments , not just anonymous bloggers, and everyone recognizes it, for what it is , an obscene insult – no more. You don’t see the oh so offended commenters asking for people to be jailed or their mouths taped shut if someone told them to f*** themselves this in real life. Commenters who equate this with rape or violence need to look up what those words mean.

    Is use of profane language uncivil or obscene? Yes. is it good?, does it add value?- No. But should you be banned for it?
    Does it violate Seed Medias terms – yes. But the blog itself doesn’t. pharyngula doesn’t. Some comments on it do. A lot of posters here have dishonestly tried to equate comments made by posters (including trolls) to P.Z. and his posts.

    But far worse comments can be made without the use of any profanity. Where are all the offended commenters when the religious say gay people should be denied rights? Where are you when the religious campaign to deny aid to programs that teach birth control? where are you when they demand Teach the controversy? Far far more offensive then Go f*** yourself and far far more harmful than stick an iron rod.

  383. Sven DiMilo

    “go f*ck yourself (with an object)”
    “f*ck you”
    “get f*cked”
    violent sexual assault

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WhuikFY1Pg

  384. Sven DiMilo

    what, not enough asterisks?
    *eyeroll*

  385. Philip Jr.

    And you have the nerve to conflate masturbation and rape? You should be ashamed.

    Hmm. Interesting. I didn’t know that “get f***cked with a broken broomhandle” and “f***ed sideways with a rusty knife” constituted masturbation. Interesting.

  386. bilbo

    Hmm. Interesting. I didn’t know that “get f***cked with a broken broomhandle” and “f***ed sideways with a rusty knife” constituted masturbation. Interesting.

    Mental masturbation, perhaps. But they refer to something else entirely.

  387. Paul

    @Philip

    The fact that you’re still using the second quote as an example of a threat shows how intellectually dishonest you are. It’s not like the context has been provided several times in this thread or anything. A link has not been provided for the former quote, is nowhere to be found by searching Pharyngula with the quote provided, and the closest thing to be found (which PZ quoted in full earlier in the thread) was a satire post, not even directed at another poster. I suppose it doesn’t show the same level of intellectual dishonesty, but you’re using an uncited quote as evidence…you’re putting words in other people’s mouths so you can knock down a straw man. Again, you should be ashamed of yourself.

  388. Seminatrix

    So, please carry on with your complaints that Pharyngula is full of racist, misogynist, rape loving, violent thugs

    Point out where I said anything about racism or misogyny. Please. Because I’d love to see that.

    I have been a volunteer councilor for victims of violence. And I find it sickening that many of you would compare hyperbole with actual physical violence.

    Then tell someone you council “f*** yourself with a splintering stick” (your own words, not mine), and see how they react. Then try to explain to them that you were just using innocent little ‘hyperbole.’

    Then you may begin to understand our point.

  389. Vyspyr

    This supposedly ever-so-important context of “he was being mean first, so he deserved it!” is hardly an excuse for suggestions of sexually-explicit references to violence. That’s precisely why we tell scold our children for such things when they try to excuse their own juvenile behavior and inappropriate language with “but he did it first!” Several of you are attempting to use a child’s reasoning to justify why you’ve been acting like one.

    Similarly, “he should have known I was using hyperbole!” is not a sufficient excuse, either. As Seminatrix said, try telling a victim of sexual abuse (or someone with close family members who are vicitms) to “go f***yourself sideways with a rusty knife” or that they should “f*** yourself with a splintering stick,” and see if they are completely understanding that you’re just usually hyperbole that you pathetically claim to be so innocent. Then, as Seminatrix said, you’ll understand what we’re talking about.

    And, to respond to several of you, claiming that there was “intellectual honesty” hidden somewhere in a kernel of non-hyperbole within all of your immature, hate-ridden suggestions of death and sodomy is perhaps the shoddiest defense of them all. Intellectually honesty is no excuse for wishes of violence and death. It simply never is.

    Again, the rush to defend violent rhetoric here is astounding on a level that I have never even been able to imagine. It totally confirms what I’ve heard said about many “new atheists” that I’ve heard you all claim is so false…yet here you are exemplifying it. Pathetic.

  390. bilbo

    So, lemme get this straight. Based on the last few posts, your behavior (e.g. suggestions of violent sexual abuse with inanimate objects and violence/death, many of them coupled) is justified because:

    1.) Your argument was right (e.g., “I was being intellectually honest), so any subsequent breaches of morality and/or mature conduct – such as calls for violent, forced sodomy – are justified.

    2.) The person that you’re requesting to die/get violently sexually assaulted in the rectum with sharp objects (one poster: “until you bleed”)/both had either been “annoying” or had said something mean before you did. So, therefore, calling for their demise/traumatizing sexual assault was just the right thing to do.

    or 3.) The person that you were requesting to die/get violently sexually assaulted in the rectum with sharp objects (one poster: “until you bleed”)/both should have just inherently known that you were totally not being serious, because, even though people in the real world get violently sexually assaulted in almost identicial ways to some of your suggestions, they should inherently be able to read your mind and know that you would never do such a thing.

    I see. And you wonder why we call you “pathetic?”

  391. Bob S.

    I have been a volunteer councilor for victims of violence

    Wow, Janine. Then I would expect you, of all people, to understand why some people in this world are a bit more sensitive than others when you ask them to go violently assault themselves in a sexual nature, hyperbolic or not.

    I just had to breach my lurker status after reading that incredibly oblivious and downright stupid statement. Janine, the very same person asking people to get sexually violated “with a splintering stick” and a gun barrel, is a sexual violence counselor.

    Incredible. And you people are wondering why we see something wrong with this behavior?

  392. Paul

    “go f***yourself sideways with a rusty knife” or that they should “f*** yourself with a splintering stick,”

    Neither of those quotes are accurate. And even if we mangle them to the point where we can match them to posts on Pharyngula, neither of the phrases were actually directed at a poster.

    I mean, seriously? It doesn’t bother you guys at all the degree to which you are being dishonest and disingenuous in this thread?

    For shame. I’m done here, since you guys aren’t even trying to be accurate in your critiques.

  393. negentropyeater

    Seminatrix,

    “go f*** yourself with a splintering stick” is an insult. In the same way as “go f*** yourself” is a very common insult. Don’t tell me you have never heard it or read it anywhere. The fact that it’s with a splintering stick doesn’t change the nature of it being an insult.

    I don’t like to insult people on blogs, I wouldn’t use any of it.

    But it is NOT in any way shape or form “a reference to violent sexual assault” (as you say in your comment #376).

    Please refrain from making such ridiculous allegations, and rather discuss the subject of this thread, ie Sheril’s question on the value of Science blogs.

  394. bilbo

    Janine’s “splintering stick” quote has been linked to multiple times, Paul, and Janine has even admitting to saying it to another poster herself.

    So, you’re lying. And you know it.

  395. bilbo

    Wow, Janine. Then I would expect you, of all people, to understand why some people in this world are a bit more sensitive than others when you ask them to go violently assault themselves in a sexual nature, hyperbolic or not.

    I just had to breach my lurker status after reading that incredibly oblivious and downright stupid statement. Janine, the very same person asking people to get sexually violated “with a splintering stick” and a gun barrel, is a sexual violence counselor.

    Incredible. And you people are wondering why we see something wrong with this behavior?

    This deserves more than a few bumps. I hope you’re proud of the image you’re promoting to others by defending sexual violence references and suggestions of death. It’s doing wonders for you in the eyes of others, apparently.

  396. Katharine

    Having taken the time to look up a good deal of these threads on Pharyngula and having been privy to several of the threads where these were mentioned, I can only really say that if you think ‘go f*** yourself’ is a terribly offensive statement, you need to sack up or ovary up.

    I’m going to bid this particular blog goodbye, as neither its proprietors nor a lot of its commenters are human beings who I consider particularly honest nor particularly parsimonious about the truth.

  397. Paul

    Hm. I need to retract. I mixed up the “splintering stick” with the “splintered broomhandle” quote that people keep citing erroneously.

    See how that goes, bilbo? Civilized people admit when they make a mistake. You’ve made many more than anyone else in this thread, and have not retracted a single false claim.

    As previously stated, I won’t be replying further…honesty simply compelled me to set my record straight. Too bad none of the trolls around here see fit to do such, otherwise there might be productive discussion.

  398. J. J. Ramsey

    Paul: “Civilized people admit when they make a mistake. …honesty simply compelled me to set my record straight.”

    Wish that a certain other Paul would do that. He didn’t check his facts before writing “chose to insult my daughter here, several times, after being warned,” and now he refuses to correct himself.

  399. bilbo

    Having taken the time to look up a good deal of these threads on Pharyngula and having been privy to several of the threads where these were mentioned, I can only really say that if you think ‘go f*** yourself’ is a terribly offensive statement, you need to sack up or ovary up.

    Translated for clarity: “I was involved on these threads where my friends told others to commit violent sexual crimes on themselves and/or commit suicide. I normally do not promote and/or encourage such speech (see my initial comments on this thread before I got dragged into the tribalism). But, seeing as how I align myself with the opinion of those suggesting the violence, I will choose to defend it myself. Why? Because I’ve got a culture war to fight. I let my standards of decency lax in lieu of banging my tribal drums as loudly as I can. If that means defending/justifying violent rhetoric, so be it.”

  400. Bob S.

    OK, after going back through this entire screed and checking links, several things are apparent:

    1.) bilbo, PJ, MC, and others were incorrect about one thing. PZ does seem to let violent, hate-filled rhetoric get posted on his site regardless of source (however, I think there is a case about the nature and severity of his reactions to it on a person-by-person basis. But, this is probably trivial).

    2.) The point about Seed Media Group’s terms and conditions seems an incredibly relevant one. I honestly don’t see how things like “______ should die” and the like are allowed to stay on Pharyngula’s comment boards seeing the very clear and explicit prohibited behavior outlined in Seed’s official, legally-binding statement. Out of all the points made here, this is probably the most relevant one.

    3.) Paul, Janine, Wowbagger, Knockgoats et al. are making a mountain out of a marginally-relevant molehill in terms of the loud, overblown cries of “intellectual dishonesty.” Bilbo and several others were indeed incorrect on the context of one comment from Pharyngula, but many, many (really, a large majority) of the comments they have referenced are indeed posted on the site and, furthermore, were posted in contexts that do not really lessen the severity of the comments’ rhetoric. When I’ve looked at many of the comments referenced here, for exmaple, I find many people calling for the sodomy and death of those who align themselves with creationism and/or religion. While I strongly disagree with those viewpoints, they’re hardly just cause to call for violence and/or death on those who hold them – hyperbolically or literally. The same goes for those who were just being “annoying.” Annoyance is never the catalyst for sexual violation. I’m sorry – it just isn’t.

    So, in my opinion (which doesn’t matter a lot), both sides have points. BUT, it doesn’t belie the fact that there is some rather disturbing and violent behavior being used disproportionately on Pharyngula, and it is getting a blind eye turned to/violates the terms and conditions policy of Seed Media Group very, very clearly. And, as many others have said, I’m disgusted to see certain individuals defending their use of calls for sodomy, rape, and death. That’s beyond amoral.

  401. Deepak Shetty

    Bob S
    >Out of all the points made here, this is probably the most relevant one.
    Not really. You need to take it up with SEED , not with P.Z. or the posters on pharyngula. PZ Myers posts themselves are mostly inline with the terms and conditions. The relevant question to SEED would be who moderates ? There is nothing in the terms that state that the owner of the blog must moderate commented content to be inline with SEED’s terms and conditions. The owner of the blog is only responsible for comment he posts.
    Ill ask you the same thing I asked Paul Jr who seems to have willfully avoided the question. Jon Stewart on Live Television told Bernard Goldberg to go f*** himself.
    What should be done? Ban? Violations of Comedy Centrals terms and conditions is a separate issue because all of you’ll seem to be arguing that there is something morally as opposed to legally wrong with using obscenities. You’ll also seem to be arguing that if someone says Jon Stewart is well within his rights , then that someone is condoning/encouraging sexual violence/threats.

  402. Skeptical Skeptic

    Bob S.’s post is by far the most sensible yet. If we’re going to put “intellectual honesty” on a gilded pedestal, the TRULY intellectually honest path for the people involved here to take, based on the truth from what I’ve read when following some of these linked comments, would be:

    (a) bilbo and friends admit to some of their distorted statements and apologize, and then stick to the facts.

    (b) Wowbagger, Janine, Rev. BDC, and others to own up to their overblown, disproportionate responses to other commenters on Pharyngula as unecessary and counter to intelligence and reason, and then stick to true intellectual argument from here on out…or take the high road and ignore obnoxious posters instead of implying they be sodomized/killed.

    (c) PZ to admit that, while he treasures free speech passionately, he as a blogger has agreed to keep his site in line with Seed Media Group’s terms and conditions. He should admit that yes, the content on his blog from commenters is in clear violation of those terms (that much is really not a question). He should then either moderate a little more strictly to keep his site in line, or request a third-party moderator from Seed to cull out the sexually-explicit references and abuse for him.

    But….this is a culture war, so we’re not going to see any of that. We’ll see more hyperbole, more dishonesty, and more unrelenting rhetoric from all sides and all parties. It’s a shame, because it blackens everyone’s eye.

  403. Deepak Shetty

    Skeptical Skeptic
    When are you petitioning to remove abuses from the English Language?

    or request a third-party moderator from Seed to cull out the sexually-explicit references and abuse for him.

    And who is going to pay for this in time as well as money? Perhaps you have come up with a way to eliminate spam and trolls from the internet as well. You should patent this.
    Or since Sheril has now allowed a blog post with repeated use of the word f*** and splintered sticks in the comments you should have a point
    d. Sheril to not allow such topics to be posted or have a moderator from discover remove all posts which quote abuses.

  404. gillt

    The Children of The Intersection have assumed the job of interpreting the policy (and attempting to see it enforced) of a corporation and nothing more. And it goes without saying, a service SEED hasn’t requested. In other words, they turned into complete tools just to air a personal grievance against PZ.

    Apparently they had to, because they full well know that claiming to be so morally offended by someone somewhere on the internet using fowl language to the point of insisting on censorship is as disingenuous as it sounds.

    For tone policing the intertubes and passive aggressive personal grievances, CM and SK set the example.

  405. qbsmd

    @Rev. BigDumbChimp, 268.

    That lack of concern with accuracy and context in the pursuit of making people believe one’s point of view reminds me of the criticism expressed about the entire framing thing.

  406. J. J. Ramsey

    qbsmd: “That lack of concern with accuracy and context in the pursuit of making people believe one’s point of view reminds me of the criticism expressed about the entire framing thing.”

    Trouble is, there’s plenty of lack of concern for accuracy going around. As Bob S. pointed out in post #401, the Pharyngula regulars have been overblown in their claims of intellectual dishonesty and underplayed the cases where the Pharyngula regulars have genuinely used violent rhetoric.

    Oh, and we’re now being watched by Ophelia Benson, who has criticized our blog hosts for using violent rhetoric, and by this, she means the idiomatic use of “attack” and “assault” in reference to verbal conflicts. Funny how she neglects to chide the Pharyngula regulars for their use of language far stronger that Mooney and Kirshenbaum. She did find the time though to tell untruths about me, going even further than Myers (or maybe just misreading him?) and saying that I “chose to hassle the host’s daughter.” **Facepalm** But then, she’s engaged in a culture war, so why pay attention to such niceties as getting facts straight?

  407. Kagato

    Congratulations. You’ve now filled up this page on the Discover site with (barely-censored) profanity and obscenities!

    Oh, sure, you were “just quoting someone else”… but does that excuse you from the fact that you’ve taken objectional language from a different site, and repeated it here over and over (and over) again? You could have just included links to the offending posts, but no, you had to repeat them — well, not verbatim, because most have been rewritten to suit your accusations better; but at least in explicit detail.

    Such a pity you’re all so flagrantly disregarding Discover’s terms of use:

    “FORUMS AND PUBLIC COMMUNICATION

    “Forum” means a chat area, message board, or e-mail function offered as part of DISCOVERmagazine.com. Without limiting the foregoing, the following activities are prohibited on DISCOVERmagazine.com:

    * Uploading, posting, emailing, transmitting or otherwise making available any content that is unlawful, harmful, threatening, abusive, libelous, or obscene; ”

    Hypocrites.

  408. J. J. Ramsey

    Kagato: “Oh, sure, you were ‘just quoting someone else’… but does that excuse you”

    Yes.

    Oh, and why do you need the scare quotes around “just quoting someone else” when that’s exactly what they’re doing?

  409. Kagato

    If people want terms of use to be enforced rigorously, then no, I don’t see that quoting an external site is an excuse regardless:

    “Uploading, posting, emailing, transmitting or otherwise making available”

    And they weren’t scare quotes, that was a (partial) hypothetical response.
    ‘But I didn’t say those things, I was quoting someone else…’

    If I was using scare quotes, I would have said they were ‘quoting’ someone.
    (Which in some cases above would be justified; as they weren’t quoting, they were paraphrasing and omitting context which contradicts their accusations.)

    I’m not going to defend any specific crude statements mentioned above; I personally think they’re in poor taste and wouldn’t make them myself. But I’m also not going to tell people how to behave in their own house — if they want to swear like sailors that’s their call, as long as they’re not actually advocating oppression or harm to others.

    And they’re not.
    No rational person can *genuinely* look at those comments and conclude the speaker honestly wished the other person real harm, let alone the specific harm mentioned.

    For example, people are actually complaining above that “go die in a fire” is a serious personal threat. It’s such a common internet meme that it’s got a recogisable abbreviation (DIAF)! It carries about as much weight as a threat of arson and immolation, as “go jump in a lake” or “go soak your head” is a threat of forced suicide by drowning.

    I don’t recall seeing any single quote above being of any form other than “go do something unpleasant *to yourself*”. While crude, it’s hardly a meaningful threat unless you possess some remarkable powers of persuasion. It’s hyperbole.

    Now, if someone starts phrasing things in the form “I want to”, “I’m going to”, “I will”, then you’re looking at an actual threat. Not necessarily credible, but a threat.

    I mean, “I will screw off your head and s**t down your neck” is a threat, but not one to be taken seriously. Unless you believe I possess superhuman upper body strength, and your oesophagus is unusually wide.

  410. J. J. Ramsey

    Kagato: “If people want terms of use to be enforced rigorously, then no, I don’t see that quoting an external site is an excuse regardless”

    I’m no lawyer, but I suspect that there is some leeway for common sense.

    Kagato: “No rational person can *genuinely* look at those comments and conclude the speaker honestly wished the other person real harm, let alone the specific harm mentioned…. It’s hyperbole.”

    Yes, it’s hyperbole, but it’s not playful hyperbole. It’s the kind of bile that trolls seem to find rewarding. Contrary to popular belief, spewing out angry sentiments isn’t cathartic, but encourages more ill feelings, and often when people get angry, they don’t think. That’s not healthy for rational discussion.

  411. bilbo

    “No rational person can *genuinely* look at those comments and conclude the speaker honestly wished the other person real harm

    Again, I reference my request to Janine to repeat some of her violent, forced sodomy suggestions to her sex violence victims and see what happens when she says “hey, I didn’t mean it!!!!!”

    Not everyone knows what you’re thinking, kagato. Some people are crazy enough to sodomize someone if that person looks at the them the wrong way.

  412. Petra

    Skeptical Skeptic: “But….this is a culture war, so we’re not going to see any of that. We’ll see more hyperbole, more dishonesty, and more unrelenting rhetoric from all sides and all parties.”

    The responses since have fulfilled The Prophecy.

  413. Thomas H.

    Bob S.’s post is by far the most sensible yet. If we’re going to put “intellectual honesty” on a gilded pedestal, the TRULY intellectually honest path for the people involved here to take, based on the truth from what I’ve read when following some of these linked comments, would be:

    (a) bilbo and friends admit to some of their distorted statements and apologize, and then stick to the facts.

    (b) Wowbagger, Janine, Rev. BDC, and others to own up to their overblown, disproportionate responses to other commenters on Pharyngula as unecessary and counter to intelligence and reason, and then stick to true intellectual argument from here on out…or take the high road and ignore obnoxious posters instead of implying they be sodomized/killed.

    (c) PZ to admit that, while he treasures free speech passionately, he as a blogger has agreed to keep his site in line with Seed Media Group’s terms and conditions. He should admit that yes, the content on his blog from commenters is in clear violation of those terms (that much is really not a question). He should then either moderate a little more strictly to keep his site in line, or request a third-party moderator from Seed to cull out the sexually-explicit references and abuse for him.

    But….this is a culture war, so we’re not going to see any of that. We’ll see more hyperbole, more dishonesty, and more unrelenting rhetoric from all sides and all parties. It’s a shame, because it blackens everyone’s eye.

  414. Kagato

    J.J Ramsey: “I’m no lawyer, but I suspect that there is some leeway for common sense.”

    Quoting an obscene comment once? Sure, I can see that.
    Reposting the same obscene comment *more than 30 times* (a quick count of one example), where a simple “see post #XX” would do? Really?

    “Yes, it’s hyperbole, but it’s not playful hyperbole(1). It’s the kind of bile that trolls seem to find rewarding. Contrary to popular belief, spewing out angry sentiments isn’t cathartic, but encourages more ill feelings(2), and often when people get angry, they don’t think. That’s not healthy for rational discussion(3).”

    1) Indeed. Such comments from the regulars typically come after someone has said something *truly* offensive (even though it was perhaps phrased in ‘polite’ language); the response is genuinely angry. (This does not, however, automatically imply ‘hateful’). And sometimes anger, or outrage, is the only reasonable response to a situation.

    2) You can argue that, but I don’t think you can assert it.

    3) Such heated responses usually come at the end of an attempt at rational discussion. By the time it gets to that point, the prospect of rational discussion with that person has long since gone out the window.

    But none of this is really relevant to the accusations being thrown about up-thread. People are accusing posters on Pharyngula of *genuinely threatening violence*. Hyperbole is, kind of by definition, not genuine.

    Bilbo: “Again, I reference my request to Janine to repeat some of her violent, forced sodomy suggestions to her sex violence victims and see what happens when she says “hey, I didn’t mean it!!!!!” Not everyone knows what you’re thinking, kagato. Some people are crazy enough to sodomize someone if that person looks at the them the wrong way.”

    So you apparently think Janine has the strength of willpower to force other people to commit unspeakable acts on *themselves*? Because that’s all I see quoted above. How can a (rude, unpleasant) suggestion about what to do with your spare time possibly be a real threat?

  415. Kagato

    J.J Ramsey: “I’m no lawyer, but I suspect that there is some leeway for common sense.”

    Quoting an obscene comment once? Sure, I can see that.
    Reposting the same obscene comment *more than 30 times* (a quick count of one example), where a simple “see post #XX” would do? Not so much.

    “Yes, it’s hyperbole, but it’s not playful hyperbole.”"

    Indeed. Such comments from the regulars typically come after someone has said something *truly* offensive (even though it was perhaps phrased in ‘polite’ language); the response is genuinely angry. (This does not, however, automatically imply ‘hateful’). And sometimes anger, or outrage, is the only reasonable response to a situation.

    “That’s not healthy for rational discussion.”

    Such heated responses usually come at the end of an attempt at rational discussion. By the time it gets to that point, the prospect of rational discussion with that person has long since gone out the window.

    But none of this is really relevant to the accusations being thrown about up-thread. People are accusing posters on Pharyngula of *genuinely threatening violence*. Hyperbole is, kind of by definition, not genuine.

    Bilbo: “Again, I reference my request to Janine to repeat some of her violent, forced sodomy suggestions to her sex violence victims and see what happens when she says “hey, I didn’t mean it!!!!!” Not everyone knows what you’re thinking, kagato. Some people are crazy enough to sodomize someone if that person looks at the them the wrong way.”

    So you apparently think Janine has the strength of willpower to force other people to commit unspeakable acts *on themselves*? Because that’s all I see quoted above. How can a (rude, unpleasant) suggestion about what to do with your spare time possibly be a real threat?

  416. Ichthyic

    How can a (rude, unpleasant) suggestion about what to do with your spare time possibly be a real threat?

    Bilbo must be one of those rare individuals who simply cannot resist a good suggestion of self mutilation.

    I do believe that particular dysfunction is treatable, though.

  417. Ichthyic

    …maybe we should be more sensitive to poor Bilbo, and utilize less physically damaging epithets when addressing his inanity?

    after all, I’d hate to see Bilbo end up like Gary Aldridge because he took it literally when I tell him to “…stick a dildo up that ass of yours, if it can fit past your head, and then wear two wetsuits and see if you can sweat it out.”

  418. Ichthyic

    Then tell someone you council “f*** yourself with a splintering stick” (your own words, not mine), and see how they react. Then try to explain to them that you were just using innocent little ‘hyperbole.’
    Then you may begin to understand our point.

    the implication here is that you would have a violent response.

    so, you’re admitting to being a very violent person, who would typically respond violently to the slightest insult?

    i see.

  419. Deepak Shetty

    J. J. Ramsey

    im no lawyer, but I suspect that there is some leeway for common sense

    Great. now how about putting into practice some of that common sense.

  420. Jerome

    Naughty words and hyperbole are so much worse than people being denied civil rights, children being miseducated and unrealistic policy decisions based on scripture.

    Quick, to the fainting couch!

  421. Pope Maledict DCLXVI

    And, as many others have said, I’m disgusted to see certain individuals defending their use of calls for sodomy, rape, and death. That’s beyond amoral.

    I agree totally, so would you like to quote for me the examples of posters in this thread who have *clearly* and *unambiguously* defended calls for rape, so that we can identify those individuals? Good luck to you, on this train wreck of a thread, given that its full of misquotation, misrepresentation, and cherry-picking of a colossal number of comments, to throw them all into disrepute. Did you miss the references upthread to real apologists for rape being generally repudiated at Pharyngula?

  422. bilbo

    Naughty words and hyperbole are so much worse than people being denied civil rights, children being miseducated and unrealistic policy decisions based on scripture.

    Translation: “We can request that religious believers be brutally killed and/or violently sexually abused all we want, because they’re religious, and that maks it justified. All we have to do is either call it ‘hyperbole’ or pathetically whitewash “Peter needs to die” as ‘naughty words,’ and it’s ok.

    We can add Jerome to the list of those who defend hate, sodomy, and violence in the name of his culture war.

  423. Jerome

    423: See 422.

  424. Thomas H.

    Whoever said “It’s all a game to these people” much earlier in the thread was dead-on. Jerome seems to be very much caught-up in the culture war game, and is oblivious to the fact that he just tried to defend calling aloud for the death and sexual torture of people…just because they’re religious.

  425. Bob S.

    Bob S.’s post is by far the most sensible yet. If we’re going to put “intellectual honesty” on a gilded pedestal, the TRULY intellectually honest path for the people involved here to take, based on the truth from what I’ve read when following some of these linked comments, would be:

    (a) bilbo and friends admit to some of their distorted statements and apologize, and then stick to the facts.

    (b) Wowbagger, Janine, Rev. BDC, and others to own up to their overblown, disproportionate responses to other commenters on Pharyngula as unecessary and counter to intelligence and reason, and then stick to true intellectual argument from here on out…or take the high road and ignore obnoxious posters instead of implying they be sodomized/killed.

    (c) PZ to admit that, while he treasures free speech passionately, he as a blogger has agreed to keep his site in line with Seed Media Group’s terms and conditions. He should admit that yes, the content on his blog from commenters is in clear violation of those terms (that much is really not a question). He should then either moderate a little more strictly to keep his site in line, or request a third-party moderator from Seed to cull out the sexually-explicit references and abuse for him.

    But….this is a culture war, so we’re not going to see any of that. We’ll see more hyperbole, more dishonesty, and more unrelenting rhetoric from all sides and all parties. It’s a shame, because it blackens everyone’s eye.

    Au contraire, SS! Yours was much more truthful.

    But you’ll notice that we’re just seeing more of the same tired old defenses of violence and sexual abuse. At least several others in the blogopshere and beginning to take notice – and agree with – your stance on this.

  426. qbsmd

    407. J. J. Ramsey Says:
    “Trouble is, there’s plenty of lack of concern for accuracy going around. As Bob S. pointed out in post #401, the Pharyngula regulars have been overblown in their claims of intellectual dishonesty and underplayed the cases where the Pharyngula regulars have genuinely used violent rhetoric.”

    Disclaimer: This comment represents the impression I have gotten from this thread. A few counterexamples probably exist that I’ve missed, and if enough counterexamples are pointed out to me I may have to change my mind.

    The Pharyngula readers have consistently claimed that people here have altered comments and taken them out of context. They’ve requested actual links so they could look at the actual comments in their actual contexts. They’ve responded to claims individually. That they have a different standard for what’s acceptable and what isn’t isn’t dishonesty or lack of accuracy, just a different opinion.
    The people on your side have made shotgun style arguments: a list of examples, a sweeping statement (like your “overblown claims” and “underplayed cases of violent rhetoric”) without focusing on specific statements and evidence.

    It reminds me somewhat of people that believe in ghosts or that UFOs are alien spaceships who argue that out of millions of sightings, even if most are false, they can’t all be, so the phenomenon must exist. Skeptics then insist that a pile of anecdotes isn’t evidence; that one good example is better than a million bad ones (and that no one has enough time to debunk all of the millions of cases). In this case, I think the standard for a good example involves a threat or personal attack (more than just an expression of frustration) from a regular Pharyngula commenter (not a troll or a one time visitor), that other regular commenters then either defend or let slide in the thread. Overall I get the impression of skeptical behavior on one side, and propagandist or politician-like behavior on the other.

    *edit after writing: I just reread the first comment in this thread, and found that my comment may be a little late.

  427. Carlie

    For those keeping score at home:

    Petra – still hasn’t provided a link to the alleged comment supposedly telling her to “get raped” that she claims to have already provided to Seed.

    Bilbo – still hasn’t admitted that he lied about PZ not rebuking a commenter in a specific thread who made violent remarks.

    J.J. Ramsey – still thinks it’s ok to make terrible comments about a blogger’s daughter, especially if he “only did it once”.

    Everyone clutching their pearls in this thread -
    *still conflating “go * yourself” with “go get * done unto you by someone else”

    *still confusing quoting someone else with saying something yourself

    *still not understanding the difference between “a drive-by troll said x” and “x was said to a drive-by troll”.

    *still not grasping that a few comments with harsh language out of almost a million is a very small number, that the number that actually do advocate violence are a very small portion of that (much smaller than those that have been linked to here, since most of them aren’t) and still not comprehending that the vast majority of the time those kinds of comments really do appear, that they are unambiguously trashed later on in said thread.

  428. Bob S.

    Carlie-

    You seem to miss quite a few comments that have been referenced here (in addition to others on Pharyngula) that DO, in fact, say “go get _____ done on you by someone else.” Not all of the comments disussed here say that, but quite a few do, and several have been discussed at length here – and defend by variations of “but that poster I was talking about was a creationist, and (s)he was annoying!”.

  429. Bob S.

    J.J. Ramsey – still thinks it’s ok to make terrible comments about a blogger’s daughter, especially if he “only did it once”.

    So you’re “clutching pearls” because bad language was used about PZs daughter, but much more imflammatory references to people getting killed/burnt alive/beaten with tire irons/gutted up their sexual orifices by inanimate objects/the very blatant “__________ needs to die” are funny and/or acceptable.

    I believe this was the double-standard of filtering rhetoric based on source that many here were cautioning about originally.

  430. Carlie

    Bob S. – First, those references are not exactly as presented. Second, there is a huge difference between telling someone off personally after they have exhausted your patience and moral sensibility with several truly abhorrent thoughts and statements (part of the context studiously ignored by most of the commenters here) and picking on someone’s’ child who has no part in the argument.

  431. Carlie

    I am, in fact, seriously bothered by the fact that you can’t see that distinction.

  432. J. J. Ramsey

    Carlie: “J.J. Ramsey – still thinks it’s ok to make terrible comments about a blogger’s daughter, especially if he ‘only did it once’.”

    Terrible comments? Have you even looked at the comment in question? By this point, you have no excuse not to have seen it. At the top of post #102, I already posted a URL to a page with a full quote of the “terrible comment,” and that page has a link to the original “terrible comment.” Between that and Googling Pharyngula, you have enough information to decide whether PZ Myers is distorting the truth.

    Heck, it isn’t even true that, as Bob S. put it, “bad language was used about PZs daughter.” All I did was bracket a quote where she was insulting other people with the words “No, this is the attitude I’d call strident” and “Luckily, these are just the words of an adolescent. A full-grown adult would never write something so immature. Right?” That’s it. That’s the complete “terrible comment.” This is the thing that is regarded as such a grave insult while calls for people to commit acts of self-mutilation, hyperbolic or otherwise, are dismissed as acceptable.

    qbsmd: “The Pharyngula readers have consistently claimed that people here have altered comments and taken them out of context. They’ve requested actual links so they could look at the actual comments in their actual contexts.”

    And by now, the actual links have been posted, as can be seen by clicking through the link in post #324. Based on that, it’s pretty clear that Bob S. was right in post #401.

  433. J. J. Ramsey

    Carlie: “there is a huge difference between telling someone off personally after they have exhausted your patience and moral sensibility with several truly abhorrent thoughts and statements (part of the context studiously ignored by most of the commenters here) and picking on someone’s’ child who has no part in the argument.”

    Carlie, suppose that I had instead quoted Penn Jillette making remarks about “Christards” or quoted someone from the IIDB saying something similarly nasty. Would you consider that picking on someone “who has no part in the argument”? Or would that be just citing an example?

  434. Stephen Wells

    Could I point out that anyone who doesn’t want to be terribly deeply insulted by having nasty things said to them at Pharyngula has the option of NOT GOING THERE. If you don’t like a style of argument that includes profanity you don’t have to go over there. As it is we have the pearl-clutchers fastidiously dipping their tongs into the Pharyngula archives, finding cases where A tells B to go and do ridiculously hyperbolic act C, and oh won’t somebody think of the children. You might as well call the police to a rugby match because that big nasty man tripped up that other man and he fell in the mud, how terrible.

    Personally I think commentators who post claims which boil down to “you scientists are all fools, frauds, liars and/or idiots” – which is the implication of pro-creationism/anti-evolution arguments, and of climate change denialists- are being far more offensive, even if they don’t use a single swear word, than a response which includes the recommendation that they go engage in a private act with an agricultural implement. A world of “civilised discourse” which regards “Atheists can’t be really moral” or “Evolutionary theory is responsible for the Holocaust”or “Climate change is just a left-wing conspiracy” as less offensive than “fuck off” has neutered itself.

  435. Carlie

    Really, J.J.? You’re now saying that picking on a celebrity that a person has never met is the same as picking on their daughter? This is a perfect example of the total lack of understanding of what is offensive and what isn’t. If you told me to go * myself with a * I’d see that as pure hyperbole, and nothing to really wonder about except your command of language. If you went to my underage child’s blog, pulled out a comment from it, and brought it back to my blog to snark at, that’s a pretty personal and invasive thing to do, and it is, to use a word, offensive. Do you think that any statement is by definition inoffensive as long as it doesn’t include profanity?

  436. J. J. Ramsey

    Carlie: “You’re now saying that picking on a celebrity that a person has never met is the same as picking on their daughter?”

    No, I’m saying that it’s irrelevant that a quote came from somebody “who has no part in the argument.”

    Carlie: “If you went to my underage child’s blog, pulled out a comment from it, and brought it back to my blog to snark at, that’s a pretty personal and invasive thing to do, and it is, to use a word, offensive.”

    Let’s try a thought experiment. Pretend you are a homophobe trying to make anti-gay legislation sound respectable, and on your blog you say, “Near as I can tell, a ‘homophobe’ is just someone who stands up for marriage.” A commenter then says, “No, this is a homophobe,” and quotes your kid making a public remark casually using an anti-gay epithet. Is that overly cruel, or just underlining just how bad a negative example you are setting?

  437. Bob S.

    there is a huge difference between telling someone off personally after they have exhausted your patience and moral sensibility with several truly abhorrent thoughts and statements (part of the context studiously ignored by most of the commenters here….

    Carlie, my very point is nested within your context. Defending the use of suggestions of sodomy/death/sexual abuse/violent assault because the person you aimed them at “exhausted your patience” is not a defense at all. It’s trying to find excuses for the “truly abhorrent thoughts and behaviors” coming out of one’s own mouth.

    There’s a reason we don’t use “an eye for an eye” any more, Carlie.

  438. bilbo

    Personally I think commentators who post claims which boil down to “you scientists are all fools, frauds, liars and/or idiots” – which is the implication of pro-creationism/anti-evolution arguments, and of climate change denialists- are being far more offensive, even if they don’t use a single swear word, than a response which includes the recommendation that they go engage in a private act with an agricultural implement

    You think “you’re an idiot, scientist” is worse than “Peter needs to die?”

    Really? Well then, you’re part of the problem here.

  439. Carlie

    Bringing their own child into an internet argument? Yep.

  440. J. J. Ramsey

    Carlie: “Bringing their own child into an internet argument? Yep.”

    Ok, but why? I can think of some good reasons, but they all involve norms of civility–and Myers has rejected those.

    One might argue that the child in question is too young to be responsible for what he/she says–but that’s not a helpful argument if part of the point is that child is reflecting poor attitudes of adults.

    One can argue that the child isn’t a representative example, but that depends on the context of the argument. Given the examples of vituperation on this thread, if Myers’ daughter is unrepresentative, it’s because she’s a very mild example.

    Invasiveness? That would only make sense if one were quoting from things the child said privately.

    So it looks like we’re back to civility again, and civility is the very thing Myers rejects.

  441. Carlie

    No. You’re making a category error. Deciding that one particular action doesn’t constitute a violation of civility is not rejecting the concept of civility altogether. You’re being exactly like religious zealots who think that any slight deviation from taking every word of the Bible as the inerrant word of God is becoming a baby-eating drug-addicted Satan worshiper.

  442. J. J. Ramsey

    Carlie: “Deciding that one particular action doesn’t constitute a violation of civility is not rejecting the concept of civility altogether.”

    As far as I can tell, Myers doesn’t reject the concept of civility. He rejects the value of it.

  443. J. J. Ramsey

    Another thing, Carlie.

    If someone had said on the Pharyngula blog that Myers’ daughter should do some of the acts of self-mutilation described on this thread, I can easily see said person being banned. PZ Myers himself probably would have some difficulty expressing the reasons for such a ban without being a hypocrite, but all that would show is that even his tolerance for incivility is finite. If someone had actually harassed Myers’ daughter, heck, he wouldn’t even be a hypocrite to object to that.

    We’re not talking about that, though. We’re talking about it being off-limits to use certain people as examples of bad behavior. More to the point, we’re talking about it being off-limits to point to certain facts. Think about that. Myers professes to want to speak the truth bluntly, and objects to those who he sees as obscuring that truth. Yet when a certain truth is is pointed out to him, he balks.

    What’s telling is he tries to obscure the cause of offense, and then he embellishes it. Why? Why not state what really offended him? Why hide behind misleading vagueness? And why, if you value the truth so much, do you not object to his dissembling?

  444. OK. That’s it. I’ve given up on the comments here at the Intersection. Every time I look at them, there seem to be a group of commenters, all of them regular here, who are more busy commenting on the failings of other bloggers and commenters at other blogs. Not only that, they are frequently cherry-picking, misquoting, and making claims without substance.

    Sheril and Chris – science blogs are definitely worthwhile, and even when one doesn’t agree with what has been written, one normally get something out of it, if nothing else, then because of the discussion in the comment section. Unfortunately, the later is not the case here at the Intersection, for the reasons mentioned above. This diminishes the value of this particular blog, in my opinion.

    One way of doing something about it, would be to police the comment section a bit (deleting the most off-topic comments, whether you agree with them or not), or by interacting more with the commenters. One thing is clear – for the comment section to add value, it got to be more than a place for people to air their grievances about another blog or to defend said other blog.

    I’ll keep reading this blog, but until there is a change in the comment policy, I’ll steer clear of them here. It’s sad, because a good commenter community is a boom for any blog (see e.g. Making Light for a good example of this)

  445. bilbo

    So it looks like we’re back to civility again, and civility is the very thing Myers rejects.

    PZ said, and I quote “We like it” about the widespread sexually-explicit references to violence, death, and sexual mutilation on his blog being allowed to stand there without moderation.

    So, there should be no crying from his corner when the rhetoric escalates to the point where children get brought into the arena. Those who live by defending violent rhetoric shouldn’t be shocked when some kind of similar rhetoric gets thrown back at them.

  446. bilbo

    One thing is clear – for the comment section to add value, it got to be more than a place for people to air their grievances about another blog or to defend said other blog

    So, a heated argument about the positive or negative aspects of violence/sexual mutilation references being posted in a widespread nature of science blog (on a comment thread of a post trying to stimulate debate over said positives and negative) is egregiously off-topic? Hardly. We all may be more childish than is necessary on both sides to stimulate anything useful, but that doesn’t belie that a prominent science blog is allowing itself to be peppered wiht suggestions of violent sexual assault and even death on a regular basis – and what’s more, the blogger presiding over that blog and several of his “Molly” award winners have defended such rhetoric here as appropriate responses to those one disagrees with.

    That’s a VERY relevant discussion to have on a thread about the positives/negatives of science blogs.

  447. Celtic_Evolution

    OK… I swore I would not foray into this, but… Bilbo, there’s a reason you’re held in the low regard you are (seemingly everywhere but here that is)…

    You make statements like “PZ said, and I quote “We like it” “, which gets the quote right, but then leaves off the rest of the actual context, whereby you then invent your own, full of lies and over-the-top misrepresentations. I notice you stopped the actual “quote” after the “We like it” part and started filling in the blank with your own tediousness. Your motives are transparent and if the best you can do is outright lie… well… I guess you are where you belong.

    This is my first, only, and last post here. I prefer my interactions to be honest, substantive and meaningful. Maybe this thread is not representative of this blog as a whole, and I admit to basing the following opinion on this thread… but really, it’s enough for me to decide this is pretty clearly not the place I’m going to find it.

  448. J. J. Ramsey

    bilbo: “So, there should be no crying from his corner when the rhetoric escalates to the point where children get brought into the arena.Those who live by defending violent rhetoric shouldn’t be shocked when some kind of similar rhetoric gets thrown back at them.”

    I don’t think that’s quite the takeaway lesson here. Pointing out a child mirroring her father’s crass habits isn’t very similar to violent rhetoric.

    bilbo: “So, a heated argument about the positive or negative aspects of violence/sexual mutilation references being posted in a widespread nature of science blog (on a comment thread of a post trying to stimulate debate over said positives and negative) is egregiously off-topic?”

    I can’t speak for Kristjan Wager, but while I’d say that it’s egregiously off-topic, it’s a pity that the thread is largely about one particular blog and not about the state of science blogs in general. Of course, I contributed to that, unfortunately, although in part that was because someone mentioned Pharyngula’s Dungeon page, and I felt I had to defend against the libel on it. (At the very least, Myers should delete the “several times, after being warned” part and put a link to the offending post. Either that, or he should attempt to show where the “several times” bit came from, emphasis on the word “attempt.” I’d actually like to see him try the latter.)

  449. Feynmaniac

    Either that, or he should attempt to show where the “several times” bit came from, emphasis on the word “attempt.”

    PZ:

    J.J. Ramsey is a major loser, too. He’s written me in the past a few times, asking to be un-banned. No apologies for sneering at my daughter (not that I’d be in a mood to accept them, anyway), and always this whining that he only did it once. Which isn’t true: he made the one post about it here, but then I found him complaining about Skatje on other sites, too. So bye-bye, J.J., and no, you’re never coming back.

  450. J. J. Ramsey

    I went and Googled “Ramsey Skatje”, and couldn’t find any references to me talking about Skatje from before January 2, 2007, when I made the offending comment in question, which as you can see from the “Bugger off” comment from the post below it, is the comment that got me banned. I did find these:

    * A comment from September 2007 on Richard Dawkins’ site, where Dr Benway had said, “JJ, I now understand why you’re in PZ Myer’s killfile. I read his note: …,” and then I explained myself just as I’ve been doing here.

    * A comment on the Friendly Atheist blog, entitled “Teaching Children to Respect Others” (sorry, it’s a Google cache) in January 3 2009 (note the year, 2009 not 2007), where someone asked “Do we also hear of young kids raised under atheist parents spouting off disrespectful words in the same way?” and I said, “Oh, boy, does that question open up a can of worms for me,” and mentioned Skatje’s post, which most assuredly was an answer to the question. I didn’t even make any comments about stridency or immaturity.

    * A post on Pharyngula dated August 8, 2009, where someone mistook me for Kook Curious, who complained that Skatje was a “prolific writer of pro-bestiality articles.” Considering that it was the commenter “For the Kids” or FtK who had gone on before about Skatje supposedly condoning bestiality, as you can see by going to Pharyngula’s Dungeon page and clicking on the link labeled “overwhelming creepiness,” you’d think that they’d have thought that “Kook Curious” was FtK instead. Interestingly enough, this demonstrates just how misleadingly vague PZ Myers was in just saying “insult my daughter” without providing a link to the supposed insult, since the commenter “Discombobulated” obviously thought that the insult in question had to do with bestiality.

    First, note that Myers’ Dungeon page had said that I had insulted Skatje “several times, after being warned,” but all these posts date from after what he regards as the insult that got me banned. Unless PZ Myers has a time machine, it would be rather hard for him to warn me about them.

    Second, note that either the posts aren’t insults, or they aren’t from me. One is an explanation to Dr Benway, similar (but mercifully briefer) than what I’ve provided here. One is an answer to a question for which quoting an atheist child was a perfectly appropriate response, since it was about what “young kids raised under atheist parents” have said, and the third isn’t even by me.

    So, anybody want to try again to show where that “several times” came from?

  451. J. J. Ramsey

    Feynmaniac, there’s a post that I think is still stuck in moderation, but the short story is that if you Google “Ramsey Skatje” (without the quotes), you won’t find anything dating after the ban date of January 2, 2007, and what you’ll find either isn’t an insult or isn’t by me but someone called “Kook Curious.” Bear in mind that Myers said that I was banned “after being warned,” so he would have had to be talking about material done before banning me. Note too that he doesn’t provide any links.

  452. Obsess much, J.J.?

  453. J. J. Ramsey

    PZ Myers: “Obsess much, J.J.?”

    Sometimes. It depends. :P

    Seriously, though, did you actually notice that what I had described as “misleading vagueness” actually misled somebody? Also, got any actual links defending the whole “several times, after being warned” bit? Ones that lead to actual insults and don’t involve a time machine? You insist on links from others, so it’s only fair for you to do likewise.

  454. bilbo

    You make statements like “PZ said, and I quote “We like it” “, which gets the quote right, but then leaves off the rest of the actual context, whereby you then invent your own, full of lies and over-the-top misrepresentations. I notice you stopped the actual “quote” after the “We like it” part and started filling in the blank with your own tediousness. Your motives are transparent and if the best you can do is outright lie… well… I guess you are where you belong.

    When PZ said, “We like it,” he was specifically referring to the ability of anyone on his blog to say whatever they like – including, in the context of our previous discussion, incredibly violent and sexually-explicit rhetoric.

    So, while you may not like me or agree with me, your cries of “out of context!” and “liar” are overblown lies themselves, and you’re just grasping at straws to get in on the foray.

  455. Jessimos

    This is a largely useless comment thread that has surprisingly raised a very valuable point. That is, does allowing violent rhetoric suggesting death, sexual abuse, and violence on other posters (hyperbolic or not) ruin the tone and tenor of science blogs? Pharyngula has likely been the main and only example because it’s one of the science blogs where such rhetoric appears the most. I’ll admit, there are some good discussions to be had in Pharyngula comment threads. But to me (and apparently many others here, some trolls and some not) the foolish, hateful rhetoric destorys the substance. That’s something that needs more *honest* discussion.

    And let’s face it: neither “side” is being truly honest here.

  456. J. J. Ramsey

    Oh yeah, here’s another untruth from PZ Myers:

    PZ Myers: “He’s written me in the past a few times, asking to be un-banned.”

    The “written me in the past” is definitely true. I figured it was appropriate to contact him in private. As for the “asking to be un-banned,” um, not quite. This is what I wrote the first time:

    “I’d like to get a straight answer on whether or not I get ‘paroled’ from the Dungeon or not, and if so when. If you aren’t going to ‘parole’ me, it would only be reasonable for you to explain where the heck you got the idea that I insulted Skatje several times and that you warned me about doing so. Last time I checked I rubbed in your face a quote from Skatje where she wrote as if she thought theists were generally retards–with ‘retard’ being *her* choice of words–and you lowered the boom right after that: no warnings, no nothing.”

    Here I ask him for a yes or no answer on whether I’ll be un-banned, since he said I was eligible for “parole” in 2008, and it was a couple months into 2008. That’s not a request for un-banning; that’s asking him about a decision he already made.

    The second and third times, I made no request for un-banning, but simply called him on lying about me. Here’s the second e-mail:

    “Last time I checked, this claim was still embellished:

    “‘chose to insult my daughter here, several times, after being warned.’

    “The ‘several times’ part is dead wrong, as is the ‘warning’ part. Those bits needed to go a long time ago.

    “(I could quibble about whether it is an insult to point out that referring to a broad swath of people is immature, and it certainly makes you look more wronged to not disclose the contents of what you called an insult.)”

    The third is kind of long, but the thrust is the same as that of the second. In short, he’s shaded the truth in other ways by making distorted claims about the content of my e-mails.

    I realize, too, that in what Feynmaniac quoted, he shifts the goalposts. He says that he found me “complaining about Skatje” rather than insulting her. He also completely ignores the “after being warned” part, which if true would mean that he tolerated me insulting her multiple times before banning. And he still doesn’t provide links.

    Such an intellectually honest class act Myers is.

  457. Deepak Shetty

    Jessimos

    . That is, does allowing violent rhetoric suggesting death, sexual abuse, and violence on other posters (hyperbolic or not) ruin the tone and tenor of science blogs

    Sigh. You have already jumped to the conclusion that a common form of profanity is violent rhetoric suggesting death, sexual abuse etc. a common phrase in my native language is to go take a handful of water and drown yourself in it and die (to indicate that you have done something truly embarassing). Its used by people, in movies etc. If someone says this is violent rhetoric suggesting death, you will likely be told to go drown in the same cup.

    Only a couple of examples shown from Pharyngula’s comments in the entire googling so far has anything that can be called violent rhetoric where it was suggested that violence be done to the poster. Which then doesn’t sound like the point you’ll want to make.

    A more accurate question would be does the use of profanity reduce the value of Science Blogs, but that isnt what you’ll actually want to ask , is it?

    the foolish, hateful rhetoric destorys the substance.

    Really? So the foolish hateful rhetoric on this thread has destroyed the substance of the comments as well as the original post?

  458. qbsmd

    434, J. J. Ramsey
    “And by now, the actual links have been posted, as can be seen by clicking through the link in post #324″

    Yes they have. In a post by a regular Pharyngula poster, Janine. Linking to a post on Pharyngula, http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/03/episode_xxxiv_you_can_say_that.php#comment-2320421
    Just so we’re clear, not by you or anyone who introduced the quotes. That supports my point: they produced evidence that some of the things you said were true.
    They just happen to think that variations of “go f*ck yourself” and DIAF don’t cross the line, which is a matter of opinion. I would personally prefer that such things weren’t said, but I support free speech, so I defend their right to say them. Also, I haven’t seen any inconsistencies in that position, so I can’t call them hypocritical.

    If people here consistently expressed that Pharyngula commenters undermine their own points with violent imagery and personal attacks and pointed to the appropriate comments, I wouldn’t have objected. Instead, parts of this thread look more like a political attack ad: make your opponent look as bad as possible, sacrificing accuracy whenever necessary. For one example: conflating “go f*ck yourself” with rape is intellectually dishonest, and I’ve seen that here several times.

  459. Jessimos

    You have already jumped to the conclusion that a common form of profanity is violent rhetoric suggesting death, sexual abuse etc

    ______ needs to die.

    There are no “common phrases” we use in the Englih language for that to mean anything else.

  460. Deepak Shetty

    Jessimos
    Ah I have said there were a couple of comments that could be considered threats.

    However most of the examples posted and discussed are of the form of “go f***k yourself with some sharp implement and die”. You’ll seem to have found what 4-5 comments that actually have some violence , lumped them together with comments that have profanities , equated that to sexual abuse and rape and then said the entire Pharyngula site and comments are responsible.

  461. Jessimos

    I haven’t done that, Deepak. You’re lumping what I’ve said with what others have, and you’re arguing your case against those others to argue against me. Cool it.

  462. bilbo

    They just happen to think that variations of “go f*ck yourself” and DIAF don’t cross the line, which is a matter of opinion

    For the uninitiated, “DIAF” stands for “die in a fire,” variations of which on Pharyngula have included “this guy needs to burn in a fire and die,” and “this f***-up here needs to die. Slowly, in a fire.”

    “Happening” to think those variations don’t cross the line is precisely the problem.

  463. Seminatrix

    They just happen to think that variations of “go f*ck yourself” and DIAF don’t cross the line, which is a matter of opinion. I would personally prefer that such things weren’t said, but I support free speech, so I defend their right to say them.

    Forgive me if I’ve mischaracterized anyone’s argument, but I hardly see anyone here on either side claiming that one doesn’t have a right to voice requests for the death/sexual assault/mutilation of specific individuals. They certainly have that right. And we have the equal right to call such requests pathetic, vile, worthless, and demeaning of science when posted on a science blog (and especially so when the hosting group of said blog supposedly prohibits such speech.

    Claiming that we have said no one has “the right” to say such things is a lie, just as much as claiming that free speech is a valid defense of the value of such statements.

  464. Deepak Shetty

    @Jessimos
    Pardon me? You said
    “does allowing violent rhetoric suggesting death, sexual abuse, and violence on other posters….Pharyngula has likely been the main and only example because it’s one of the science blogs where such rhetoric appears the most”
    So unless you can give more that 2-3 examples of *violent* rhetoric from Pharyngula, I’m afraid you are going to be lumped with the others.

  465. Seminatrix

    And until you can show me three uncut diamonds, I shall deem you a troll.

    Why are using qualifying lists of traits to determine someone’s opinion, again?

  466. Deepak Shetty

    @Seminatrix
    Im assuming that the statement is directed to me. (Your latter sentence doesn’t make any sense)
    A violent threat isn’t someone’ opinion. It’s already been pointed out that telling someone to go and do something to himself cant really be construed as violent. Stating that I will do something to you or that a gang of people need to get together and do something to you is violent.
    e.g. Look at
    http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2010/03/07/the-home-schoolers-respond/
    What raises the comment reprinted at the bottom from a profane , vulgar insult to that of a violent threat is the presence of “I beat the s*** out of people like you”.
    So if you want to accuse Pharyngula commenters of violent rhetoric , you need to provide examples of the latter sort of which as far as I know there have been 2-3 , not enough to say that they destroy the substance of Pharyngula. If you wish to argue that profanity destroys the substance , go ahead.
    Jessimos and people like him/her try to frame their question as “Do you still beat your wife”, they try to ask a loaded question , hoping that no one will question their assumptions. You must first prove that the rhetoric is violent before asking whether it destroys the substance.

  467. Stephen Wells

    (a) in the context of discussing whether somebody should or should not be banned from a blog- which is the worst consequence ever visited upon any unpopular poster at Pharyngula, oh the humanity- “X’s misogynistic ass needs to die” means “Ban X”. Unless you have some literal reading based on, I don’t know, necrotising fasciitis, where people’s asses die independently of the rest of them.

    (b) For the love of mercy, don’t let Bilbo read anything by P.G. Wodehouse. As soon as any of the characters says “Oh, go and boil your head” or “Go jump in the lake” or “Fink-Nottle, I intend to tear you into tiny pieces and jump on them”, he’ll have conniptions at the horrifyingly violent rhetoric. The rest of us are capable of reading English.

  468. Paul

    (b) For the love of mercy, don’t let Bilbo read anything by P.G. Wodehouse. As soon as any of the characters says “Oh, go and boil your head” or “Go jump in the lake” or “Fink-Nottle, I intend to tear you into tiny pieces and jump on them”, he’ll have conniptions at the horrifyingly violent rhetoric. The rest of us are capable of reading English.

    Bilbo’s admitted he is a deliberate troll. He admitted it on Pharyngula, he admitted he’s doing it here. I have far less sympathy for the rest, who took a completely uncited list of “quotes” (many of which don’t even appear if you search for the quote sans stars on Pharyngula) without context and used said list to accuse Pharyngula commenters of condoning death threats and sexual assaults. Really, it’s indefensible.

    I know I said I wasn’t posting anymore, but now that the thread has wound down I thought it deserved a summary. ITT: a troll fabricates quotes and Intersection commenters spend 400 posts bashing the strawman thus created, without ever checking once to even see if the critiques are valid. Really, really pathetic. And with that, adieu until the next train wreck.

  469. bilbo

    If you don’t have a useful counter to the message, kill the messenger.

    We get it, Paul: I was just oh sooooooo obnoxious to your friends on Pharyngula months ago, thus my argument now if defunct based on that history.

    What a wonderful use of your cherished “reason.”

  470. Bob S.

    OK, the argument I’ve seen so far is….

    (1) Seed Media, Pharyngula’s web host, states that it bans “sexually explicit” or “profane” submissions from bloggers and/or commenters.

    (2) Pharyngula has many, many sexually explicit references to sodomy and/or other various forms of sexual abuse, self-inflicted or otherwise.

    (3) Hyperbolic or not, indirect or not, things like “go f*** yourself with a splintering stick” and “get f***ed with a rusty knife until you bleed” are rather clearly sexually-explicit and profane, thus violating Seed Media’s policy.

    The calls about these phrases being “death threats” and the like are overblown, but if anything is “indefensible,” it’s the above facts. No amount of context changes the meaning of such phrase and, in fact, the only ‘context’ I’ve seen is that the people being asked to perform some rather grotesque and violent sex acts on themselves is that they were (a)”annoying” or (b) a creationist (c) both or (d) someone who didn’t like PZ.

    If any one of those is the case, it doesn’t change the nature of the comments.

  471. C. W.

    Great ghu on a roller coaster, what a load of willful, purblind obtusity! And you consider yourselves rational, reasonable people?

    If someone called you a poopyhead, would you declare you’ve been threatened with suffocation by manure and fear for your life? I am among those who are not particularly pleased with the robust expressions of a number of commenters on Pharyngula; I find the not-infrequent fornicatory directives off-putting and would myself prefer a more restrained mode of expression, and I do think the tone may offend some visitors into leaving, thereby missing well-reasoned arguments, informative disquistions and important current science, not to mention many cephalapods.

    On the other hand, I’m old enough to be P.Z.’s mother, and thus have been dismayed for the last decade with the ubiquity of the F-word in all its many forms right out there in the streets, frightening the horses. However, his blog, his rules, so I accept the distasteful dross along with the plentiful gold. Often enough I even applaud the more imaginative imprecations justly hurled at the trolls, mindless creationists, and pearl-clutching ninnies who miss the larger point.

    The denizens of this thread are classic examples of the last, of course; I’ve seen some of you there, and you pretty much deserve what’s been directed your way. Now you’re behaving like a passel of five-year-olds, crying because Someone Is Mean On The Internet and ooohhhh, used a Bad Word, stamping about in your little mud puddle, wildly flinging exaggerations about as if you really believe them, not bothering to make sure brain is engaged before putting fingers in gear. Lord love a duck, Mr. Science, what a pathetic sight, and what a load of steaming excrement in which you wallow!

    I’ll take exasperated raw Anglo-Saxon profanity over your intellectually dishonest tantrums any old day.

  472. Deepak Shetty

    @Bob S
    So the thread really should have been about how Seed Media doesn’t police comments that violate its terms and conditions?

  473. Deepak Shetty

    Interestingly the Internet Police has omitted the following terms

    You are solely responsible for any Submission you post or otherwise disseminate on or through the Service. We have no responsibility or control over the content, frequency or any other aspect of Submissions by our users, and we cannot be held liable for any such Submissions. We have the right, but not the obligation, in our sole discretion, to pre-screen, refuse, edit, move or remove any Submission in any Venue. We are not responsible for screening, monitoring or verifying any Submissions (subject to the “Copyrights and Copyright Agent” paragraph below), although we reserve the right to do so. Any opinions, statements or other material expressed, posted or otherwise disseminated on or through the Service by visitors, account holders or third parties are those of such parties and not of Seed Media, and Seed Media does not endorse any such opinion, statement or other material

  474. Bob S.

    I haven’t seen anyone say that individuals should be banned, Deepak. All I’m personally saying is that the examples here violate Seed’s policy. Period. Whether or not Seed needs to monitor Pharyngula more closely/take action (or no action) is their perogative.

    Don’t confuse what I’m saying with what others might have said here, Deepak. I think you and I agree here more than we disagree.

  475. Bob S.

    ow you’re behaving like a passel of five-year-olds, crying because Someone Is Mean On The Internet and ooohhhh, used a Bad Word, stamping about in your little mud puddle, wildly flinging exaggerations about as if you really believe them, not bothering to make sure brain is engaged before putting fingers in gear.

    First off, C.W., I believe equating “poopyhead” to “__________ needs to die” is more than a bit disingenuous.

    Secondly (to respond to your comment above), the fact of the matter is that Seed Media explcitly prohibits the very language being used on Pharyngula almost on a daily basis (specifically, sexually-explicit references to sodmoy and sexual abuse). Whether or not you think they are funny/appropriate is irrelevant.

  476. Paul

    First off, C.W., I believe equating “poopyhead” to “__________ needs to die” is more than a bit disingenuous.

    More disingenuous than equating “go f*** yourself” with “sodomy and sexual abuse” like you just did yet again?

    There truly is no limit to the class people show here.

  477. Deepak Shetty

    @Bob S
    Ah ok , my mistake.
    But the policy violation is hardly what interests folks. most anti-Pharyngula commenters want to state that its a blog with violent rhetoric and sexual abuse or that its value is destroyed because of said comments. Looks to me like a conclusion in search of evidence.

  478. qbsmd

    465. Seminatrix
    “Claiming that we have said no one has “the right” to say such things is a lie, just as much as claiming that free speech is a valid defense of the value of such statements.”

    I should have worded that differently; I understand why it was misunderstood. I was attempting to state my own position because someone misinterpreted my post (@428). Since the post at 460 was also misinterpreted, I am apparently not communicating well. Sorry for that.
    I was referring to a freedom of speech beyond just the legal definition. I believe a forum where people aren’t censored is preferable to one where they are. I find it disturbing that people are trying to get Seed Media Group to censor Pharyngula for the same reasons that everyone should be disturbed by any censorship.
    Also, I never claimed to defend the value of any statement. There are a lot of distinct arguments going on here; I’ve tried to limit the ones I’ve gotten involved in to minimize confusion. Apparently unsuccessfully.

  479. C. W.

    “First off, C.W., I believe equating “poopyhead” to “__________ needs to die” is more than a bit disingenuous.”

    Oh, fiddlesticks, sonny! Simply resort to the classic retort, “I’m rubber and you’re glue; it bounces off me and sticks to you!” and run along, satisfied that your castigator is now one step away from being done unto as s/he instructed you to do to yourself. Honors even, and now you can FINALLY get down to substance rather than a furshlugginer frenzy over tone.

  480. Bob S.

    More disingenuous than equating “go f*** yourself” with “sodomy and sexual abuse” like you just did yet again?

    There truly is no limit to the class people show here.

    sodomy: anal copulation (according to Mr. Webster)

    “go f*** yourself with a rusted pipe up your ass.”

    Is there something crucial we’re missing? Some hidden code here? I mean, you’ve got an argument about how “bad” or “good” this speech is, but come on Paul – at least acknowledge what it’s referring to.

  481. Paul

    You’re fond of dictionary definitions.

    Copulation: To engage in coitus or sexual intercourse.

    Masturbation isn’t copulation, fool. Not even if it involves your butt.

  482. bilbo

    It’s always nice to go over to Pharyngula and find on the latest comment thread that people are requesting that someone sexually violate and/or rape (they weren’t very specific on what “fuck” refers to in their quote) Sheril, Chris, and several of us here with a rusted knife. This time they didn’t suggest that Sheril or anyone else do it to themselves – they specifically just wished aloud that it would happen to us.

    Always classy.

  483. Seminatrix

    I’m sure that, with all her tireless advocating for women’s rights, Sheril will find the request on Pharyngula that someone sexually violate her (along with others here) using a rusty knife just a downright hilarious use of hyperbole, Pharynguloids. Good one!

    I know that I, with a close family member who is a victim of sexual violence, just found it downright gutbusting and harmless. (Excuse me for pearl-clutching. It’s not like such statements dredge up horrific memories of one of the most terrible moments in my family/my life, or anything….)

  484. Philip Jr.

    Oh Seminatrix, you’re just overreacting. Calling for the violent sexual assault (if there’s a hidden meaning of “f*** them with rusty knife” that I’m missing, by all means, let us know) of someone you disagree with is really just a calm, measured, appropriate response.

    It’s especially appropriate when one of the people you’re wanting to see get raped with a rusty knife is a person who frequently speaks out against sexual violence and such issues on her blog. That’s just the epitome of class. I’m sure Sheril is just laughing to herself like crazy right now.

  485. Bob S.

    That’s OK, natrix. We all realize that requesting the violent sexual violation (in some circles, rape) of female bloggers/blog commenters with knives is a joke, anyway, and a totally appropriate use of hyperbole to express disagreement. (*disgusted sarcasm*)

    They “like it that way” in terms of hyperbole at Pharyngula, remember?

  486. bilbo

    I see the Pharynguoids are utterly perplexed that people would find requests that someone find a specific individual and violently rape them with a knife offensive. I mean, who would possibly think that? Calling for a person to be violently sexually assaulted is just good old natured FUN!

    At least they admit to finding Chris and Sheril “attractive.” I suppose in the world of hate, calling someone attractive nullifies the negative effects of admitting you’d like to see them violently raped/killed.

    Classy.

  487. John Morales

    bilbo Says:

    Calling for a person to be violently sexually assaulted is just good old natured FUN!

    Quoted for posterity.

  488. Feynmaniac

    What a fun game you discovered John!

    Bilbo,

    So, therefore, calling for their demise/traumatizing sexual assault was just the right thing to do.

    I let my standards of decency lax in lieu of banging my tribal drums as loudly as I can. If that means defending/justifying violent rhetoric, so be it.

    We can request that religious believers be brutally killed and/or violently sexually abused all we want, because they’re religious, and that maks it justified.

  489. Feynmaniac

    bilbo,

    If people believe the flood myth, they should be physically assulated.

  490. Feynmaniac

    bilbo,

    These guys were right: sodoomy and rape are both appropriate and HILARIOUS!!!

    Seminatrix,

    Wishing that someone you disagree with would have violating, psychologically-tormenting, physically-brutal sex crimes performed on them with sharp, rough objects is a totally appropriate response when you’re annoyed.

    The razor blade sodomy comment got ignored because it was directed at an “annoying libertarian,” and thus it was absolutely fine.

    Philip Jr. ,

    Calling for the violent sexual assault…..of someone you disagree with is really just a calm, measured, appropriate response.

    Wow, just look how violent the regular commenters at The Intersection are!

  491. Wowbagger

    Good grief that Bilbo is a monster. Look at what he’s written as quoted by Feynmaniac at #491. He’s justifying violent sexual assault and the brutal murder of religious believers. The quotes are right there to see. He wrote the words; there’s no other possible interpretation of what he could mean because context is irrelevant.

    I hope someone’s complained to Discover Magazine about his behaviour.

  492. You people are still on about this?

    yawn

  493. Kagato

    I find sexually violent language offensive.

    Even when it’s ridiculously over the top, anatomically impossible, and is a suggestion to be self inflicted — as almost *every example above* is (and which is easily countered with “I’d rather not”) — it’s somewhat offensive. I don’t care about the rude words, but I could do without the imagery.

    However:
    I find equating hyperbolic and (unfunnily-) joking crude language with *actual, legitimate threats of violence and rape* to be GROSSLY offensive.

    You’re taking the foul-mouthed equivalent of “get lost” and trying to tar the speaker as a rapist and murderer! That’s shameful.

    Pharyngula has its potty-mouths, but this thread is a cesspool.

  494. hen3ry

    Why are you all still feeding Bilbo?

    After this:

    81. bilbo Says:
    March 2nd, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    Just to correct myself if I painted a false image, I don’t pretend to not be a troll. I am one here, for goodness sake, so I certainly was on Pharyngula. I was engaged in some similar, if not less inflammatory, rhetoric to regular posters there.

    I wonder why anyone would bother talking to it ever again, and yet here most of you are.

  495. Bob S.

    Kagato,

    The problem is that you’re pinning all of the above references to sexual violence and death as a little good-natured “joking.” I have yet to see the clearly demarcated line between joking and threats that all of these remarks stand firmly on one side of. In fact, many of the death references specifically have been hurled at those that many on Pharyngula willingly label as enablers of crime (sometimes violent), child abusers, and those responsible for evil in the world. So, I personally find it a bit hard to believe that someone would engage in some innocent, good-natured ribbing with someone that they willingly view as an enabler of genocide.

    But maybe I’m wrong. The problem is that those who are getting told to get sexually assaulted and/or killed (hyperbolic or not, “_____ needs to die” and “f*** them with a rusty knife” are pretty clear as to what they refer) don’t know if you’re just “joking” or letting your true wishes slip out in soome twisted, Freudian nature. Just assuming that everyone knows you’re joking isn’t a safe bet or a rational defense…especially when people like Seminatrix (who has admitted to having family members as victims of violent sexual assault) and Sheril (apparently a very well-read person on the subject of women’s rights) are the ones you’re requesting get raped/killed – hyperbolic or not.

    Because to them, getting “f***ed with a rusty knife” isn’t anatomically impossible or “over the top.” But, I am glad my concern for trivializing rape and sexual violence by using them as “jokes” makes me part of a “cesspool.”

  496. Wowbagger

    Actual threats of violence – even on the internet – are crimes. If what we Pharyngula posters are doing what you say we’re doing then, using your rationale, we are committing crimes by writing what we write.

    So, which of you here has the courage of your convictions?

    Who’s going to go down to the nearest police station with a laptop and insist a detective navigate to the Pharyngula page in question so you can point out where the unbowdlerized version of ‘f***ed with a rusty knife’ appears and demand that they prosecute the poster for making threats of sexual violence?

    Bilbo? Philip Jr? Seminatrix? Vyspyr? I mean, if it’s as a big a deal as you’re continuing to make it then surely you have a public duty to do something about it.

    Or is it that you know you’re making a pathetic, intellectually dishonest mountain out of what is, at absolute worst, the kind of distasteful (to some) hyperbolic language that is the direct result of the anonymous, at-a-distance communication that the internet provides and that, if you went anywhere near a law enforcement officer with this you’d become as much of a laughing-stock to them as you already are to the rest of the internet community?

  497. Stu

    Seminatrix: yes, of course, me using the exact wording of what has been pearl-clutched about in this thread over and over again was by no means a reference. It of course literally means that I want to abuse you all with corroded kitchen implements.

    That loud whooshing sound above your head? It’s the point.

  498. J. J. Ramsey

    Stu, you can’t expect everyone who read your comment to have read this thread, and furthermore, once you’ve left off the part where Cath says, “Umm, but only metaphorically. *Draws self heroically back from cliffedge*,” you lose everything that made Cath’s comment defensible.

  499. Stu

    Since it was in response to a comment discussing exactly what this thread was about, you mean? Only here do we seem to find those who come upon that comment, miss the context AND the obvious satire and retreat to their fainting couch.

  500. TB

    J. J. Ramsey banned from PeeZee’s site? I knew I liked his posts for some reason.

  501. TB

    Hey Stu, it was a tasteless remark, no context saves it and you’re not heroic or tough for standing by it.

  502. Kagato

    Bob S:
    “The problem is that those who are getting told to get sexually assaulted and/or killed (hyperbolic or not, “_____ needs to die” and “f*** them with a rusty knife” are pretty clear as to what they refer) don’t know if you’re just “joking”…”

    No, see, *that’s* what I find objectionable about this whole stinking mess.

    Virtually every comment quoted above was of the form “go do something unpleasant to yourself”, NOT “someone is going to do something unpleasant to you”.

    “Go play in traffic”, a common enough dismissive comment, is not even close to the same as “I am going to run you over with my car” — but that’s exactly the same equivocation that’s being made here.

    Please indicate where the line between dismissal and threat is crossed, and why:
    Get lost / Go soak your head
    Get f***ed / Go f*** yourself
    …sideways
    …with an implement
    …with a rusty/jagged/etc implement

    I see degrees of emphasis, rudeness, and indeed offense; but the essential meaning of all of these is identical. Yet I’m guessing you wouldn’t jump on anyone for the first line, despite them *clearly* wishing you to drown in a bucket, the psychos.

  503. J. J. Ramsey

    TB, that’s not fair to PZ. He seemed to have a good reason for banning “For the Kids,” judging from the link he gave to what FtK actually said. Now if only he hadn’t told three different mutually incompatible stories about me

  504. TB

    J.J. Ramsey: I don’t doubt it – but judging by your evidence I suspect your banning puts you in an entirely different league. Badge of honor, in this case…

  505. Stu

    TB: tasteless? So what? And considering the context, who are you to judge?

  506. J. J. Ramsey

    Thanks, TB. :) Yeah, I didn’t even find out about what Myers said about me on Dawkins’ forum until he gave his latest story, which led me to start Googling to figure out what he was talking about, and led me to the posts in question. I was actually pretty shocked that he went so far as to tell falsehoods about me being a pedophile. Yeesh! He could have so easily kept the moral high ground. Why did he cede it so readily? Is his memory just that bad? Did he think he could just get away with it? I really don’t grok people like him. Maybe I don’t want to.

  507. TB

    @509 Stu: “tasteless? So what? ”

    So what’re you over here whining for?

    You wanted to offend? Well you did. You want to be considered clever? Too bad – it doesn’t take brains or bravery to be offensive. Ignorance, yes, you’ve exhibited that successfully.

    Who am I to judge? Just one of the many people on the internet who you chose to display your ignorance to.

  508. Amiable dispatch and this enter helped me alot in my college assignement. Gratefulness you as your information.

  509. DaveH

    Do the positives outweigh the negatives?

    Well, apart from the amazing science information at blogs like Cosmic Variance, startswithabang, BA, and even Pharyngula, there is the denouncing of ignorance and superstition, which has to be a positive.

  510. Paul W.

    It has become clear that at least a few of the posters in this thread were all sock puppets of the same person. (“Milton C” has admitted as much.)

    Chris/Sheril, could you look at the IP’s and tell us which ones appear to be the same person as “Milton C”?

    It would also be interesting to know if anybody else was sock puppeting this thread, or others around that time.

    Thanks.

  511. TB

    I do not sock puppet and I stand by my opinions expressed in this thread.

  512. Wowbagger

    I believe that Petra and Seminatrix were other names YNH William admitted to sockpuppeting under. Looking back over it, though, it’s hard to tell; there were a lot of people dancing to the beat of the same intellectually dishonest drum.

  513. TB

    That’s crap, Wowbagger. You just hate the idea that you got taken in by a sock puppet. Doesn’t make you any less wrong than usual.

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About Sheril Kirshenbaum

Sheril Kirshenbaum is a research scientist with the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas at Austin's Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy where she works on projects to enhance public understanding of energy issues as they relate to food, oceans, and culture. She is involved in conservation initiatives across levels of government, working to improve communication between scientists, policymakers, and the public. Sheril is the author of The Science of Kissing, which explores one of humanity's fondest pastimes. She also co-authored Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future with Chris Mooney, chosen by Library Journal as one of the Best Sci-Tech Books of 2009 and named by President Obama's science advisor John Holdren as his top recommended read. Sheril contributes to popular publications including Newsweek, The Washington Post, Discover Magazine, and The Nation, frequently covering topics that bridge science and society from climate change to genetically modified foods. Her writing is featured in the anthology The Best American Science Writing 2010. In 2006 Sheril served as a legislative Knauss science fellow on Capitol Hill with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) where she was involved in energy, climate, and ocean policy. She also has experience working on pop radio and her work has been published in Science, Fisheries Bulletin, Oecologia, and Issues in Science and Technology. In 2007, she helped to found Science Debate; an initiative encouraging candidates to debate science research and innovation issues on the campaign trail. Previously, Sheril was a research associate at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and has served as a Fellow with the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History and as a Howard Hughes Research Fellow. She has contributed reports to The Nature Conservancy and provided assistance on international protected area projects. Sheril serves as a science advisor to NPR's Science Friday and its nonprofit partner, Science Friday Initiative. She also serves on the program committee for the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She speaks regularly around the country to audiences at universities, federal agencies, and museums and has been a guest on such programs as The Today Show and The Daily Rundown on MSNBC. Sheril is a graduate of Tufts University and holds two masters of science degrees in marine biology and marine policy from the University of Maine. She co-hosts The Intersection on Discover blogs with Chris Mooney and has contributed to DeSmogBlog, Talking Science, Wired Science and Seed. She was born in Suffern, New York and is also a musician. Sheril lives in Austin, Texas with her husband David Lowry. Interested in booking Sheril Kirshenbaum to speak at your next event? Contact Hachette Speakers Bureau 866.376.6591 info@hachettespeakersbureau.com For more information, visit her website or email Sheril at srkirshenbaum@yahoo.com.

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