American Idiot

Im obnoxiously optimistic.

You have to be, as an HIV-1 researcher. You have to be, cause when you think about how far weve come, and how far we have to go… youd never get out of bed in the morning.

So I happily found something good through Mooneytits and Cockenbaum throwing PZ under the bus: Idiot America

PZ likes it.

Tittycocks dont.

And it seems to be about a topic I have brought up over and over and over with Creationists: How in some cultures, expertise is shunned in favor of mediocrity. ‘Intellectual communism’, which people rightly recognize is suicide in many professions (would you get on an airplane maintained by someone who learned everything they know about mechanics in church?), is encouraged when it comes to medicine, evolution, climate change, etc.

Plus, Charles Pierce sounds like a pretty cool dude:

And not for nothing, but I’m still a semi-practicing Roman Catholic. I have it on good scriptural authority that the gates of Hell will not prevail against the church. So I don’t think I have to worry about bloggers much. Which is to say that y’all seem most bothered by mockery, whether that stems from atheism or from plain old Irish Catholic wiseassery.
You should lighten up about that.

Haha! Burn.

*skips off to Amazon*

H/T– windy

Comments

  1. #1 BAllanJ
    July 16, 2009

    Hmmm… I ran off to the amazon link you gave, and read the interview with the author. I disagree with this statement of his:
    “Stupidity is as stupidity does, to quote a uniquely stupid movie”.

    Of course he’s talking about “Forrest Gump”, the main character in which is exceedingly stupid, but I don’t think he gets the movie. It agrees with him. I saw FG the movie as saying, “Too much of the central events, themes and culture in the US are the product of an idiot”. That’s what I took from the movie, anyway.
    The character is stupid, the movie… not so much, unless that wasn’t the message I was supposed to get.

  2. #2 D. C. Sessions
    July 16, 2009

    The character is stupid, the movie… not so much, unless that wasn’t the message I was supposed to get.

    Not my favorite movie, but it’s in a very long and sometimes distinguished tradition. The “innocent” or “sacred fool” as witness has been around for a long time. Forrest Gump is the long version of the Emperor’s New Clothes.

  3. #3 Carlie
    July 16, 2009

    Wow. And their only criticism, of course, is that he uses the word “idiot”. Not a peep about the actual points brought up in the book.
    I guess that explains why people who call other people idiots never get anywhere in life, like that nobody who wrote the book “Rush Limbaugh is a big fat idiot”. Oh, wait.

  4. #4 The Chimp's Raging Id
    July 16, 2009

    Shorter Mooney:

    Using naughty words is bad. We don’t use naughty words so we’re not bad. Other people are bad. Like all the other people promoting science and rationality who aren’t us.

    Oh and…
    BUY MY BOOK! BUY MY BOOK!

    I guess Sheril & Chris have set themselves up as our latest lolcows.

  5. #5 The Chimp's Raging Id
    July 16, 2009

    Which is to say that y’all seem most bothered by mockery, whether that stems from atheism or from plain old Irish Catholic wiseassery.
    You should lighten up about that.

    I like Pierce’s style. I’ve often wondered why the religious get so pearl-clutchy whenever they’re criticised. If you were convinced that your beliefs are true, why would you give a damn what a few uppity atheists think?

    Anti-intellectualism isn’t a uniquely American problem. I come up against it with dreary regularity here in the UK (and elsewhere in Europe). However, it does seem to be particularly acute on your side of the pond. For example, we have yet to have a serious candidate for high office who overtly revelled in their own ignorance (which isn’t to say we don’t have our share of political dunderheads but rather that we haven’t yet had anyone broadcasting their idiocy (oops, sorry Chris) from the rooftops).

  6. #6 Sili
    July 16, 2009

    SQUEEEEEE!!!

    :does happy dance:

  7. #7 Kitty'sBitch
    July 16, 2009

    HAHA!!
    I got the same thing out of that post.
    MK aren’t getting a dime from me but Idiot America went straight to my Amazon shopping cart.
    I guess great minds DO think alike.
    Kisses

  8. #8 ERV
    July 16, 2009

    Sili– Well, Mooneytits had to be Moonytits, ie Caseytits. But Cockenbaum not only balanced out the gender, I read it in my head in this voice.

  9. #9 Sili
    July 16, 2009

    I’d managed to rub Lasey Cuskin from my mind, but suddenly I understand eddie’s reply.

  10. #10 The Chimp's Raging Id
    July 16, 2009

    Yo Abbie – your link in #8 isn’t working

  11. #11 Zuska
    July 16, 2009

    Oh that’s rich. Somebody who can’t be bothered to read a book, yet feels perfectly within her rights to pass judgment on said book, is blathering on about stupidity on her blog. The irony is killing me.

    And those cute little nicknames you have for Mooney and Kirshenbaum? Niiiice. That’s the mark of some serious intellect there.

    Idiot America indeed.

  12. #12 Scrabcake
    July 16, 2009

    Oh man. This whole feud is starting to feel like that XKCD comic about there being something wrong on the internet. The condescension displayed by some bothers me a lot more than any immaturity of others. I’m also thinking that I don’t know that many actual adults. Maybe my parents. Certainly no one on the internet. I know a lot of adults who act like children and know it, and I know a lot of adults who act like children who think they’re adults. I am perfectly fine with the former. I am one…at least online.
    I’m starting to think that the solution to this problem is to reclassify children as “nymph stage” humans, kind of like baby cockroaches. They don’t metamorphose so much as just get bigger.

  13. #13 ERV
    July 16, 2009

    Somebody who can’t be bothered to read a book…
    Said by a woman who cant be bothered to read a 126 word blog post!

    The circle of irony is complete! Huzzah! LOL!

  14. #14 ERV
    July 16, 2009

    Scrabcake– This has always been an irreverent blag. Lots of people would call it immature. Casey Luskin, for instance.

    But lots of people would also call it fun.

    :D

  15. #15 Azkyroth
    July 16, 2009

    Zuska:

    Given that your shoe-puking thing is approximately the additive inverse of how Mooney and Kirshenbaum think communication should be approached and given your being on record as having replied to the “catch more flies with honey” platitude with “I’m not looking to catch flies, I’m looking to kill them” (correct me if I got the wording wrong), it’s rather strange to see you defending them. Care to explain your reasoning?

  16. #16 Zuska
    July 16, 2009

    What I’m defending is the idea that it’s a good idea to read a book before reviewing it. If we can’t agree that that makes sense, then why bother collecting data in our labs. Let’s just write whatever we feel like in our journal articles and send them out for publication. No review necessary. Because it’s all about what I THINK I know, right?

  17. #17 Zuska
    July 16, 2009

    I read the blog post you cite, ERV, and the ensuing comment thread you fostered, and I all I can say is it made my brain hurt. It’s really sad.

  18. #18 Prometheus
    July 16, 2009

    #16 Zuka

    “What I’m defending is the idea that it’s a good idea to read a book before reviewing it.”

    I read your blog entry.

    No you aren’t.

    M&K’s most ardently enthusiastic reviewers have said repeatedly that if you followed their blog that the book was just a restatement.

    The book is only 137 pages long, they have published the introduction, first chapter and most of the pertinent chapters on-line in an effort to unsuccessfully defend themselves. The rest is available in ‘peeks’ provided by the contractual retailers of their publishing house.

    ERV knows their schtick their context, idealogical and philosophical bent as well as you.

    But….

    You agreed with dismissing her point as a example of the failings of the perspective of youth.

    Which is lazy and or dumb.

    Particularly in defense of kids who look like they met at a beer pong tournament.

    Even when he was floating his dispatches to the editor’s desk on rivers of bile during the Scopes trial , Mencken gave his victims their due in terms of context and sub-text.

    And he wasn’t even engaging in the pretense of impartial criticism by transcribing those rapid fire very real and far more culturally integral exchanges.

    It is an affirmative journalistic obligation. It’s fine to disagree with that proposition and it is even better to demonstrate that M&K lived up to that obligation in their description of ‘Crackergate’.

    Why don’t you try that.

    Or

    Just go back to your unreadable hugbox.

  19. #19 Tyler DiPietro
    July 16, 2009

    Zuskaids apparently thinks the internet is serious business.

  20. #20 ERV
    July 16, 2009

    Ive never claimed to have read ‘Unscientific America’.

    Ive never claimed to be reviewing the book.

    Im judging the authors hilariously (infuriatingly) Creationist-like behavior. As stated in said post and subsequent comments, here and elsewhere.

  21. #21 windy
    July 16, 2009

    Plus, Charles Pierce sounds like a pretty cool dude

    ,eh writes books and doesnt afraid of atheist?

    —-
    Wow. And their only criticism, of course, is that he uses the word “idiot”. Not a peep about the actual points brought up in the book.

    As long as we are judging books by their covers: people hate being called idiots but apparently they are just dandy with being compared to an elephant’s ass?

  22. #22 Stephen Wells
    July 16, 2009

    Zuska, are you claiming that Abbie is reviewing a book without reading it; and if so, where did she do that?

  23. #23 Sili
    July 16, 2009

    windy,

    Please stop making me love people on the internet.

  24. #24 ERV
    July 16, 2009

    THE PLOT THICKENS!!!

    Thank GAWD my power came back on!!!

    *gets popcorn*

    *waits*

  25. #25 Scrabcake
    July 16, 2009

    Aw, hell, I love your blog, ERV. Where else can you read an article called “LTR Gator”? My posting was mainly against people who wave the “maturity” flag while acting like junior high cliquesters.
    eg.
    If someone was pissed at me and called me a rude name, we could talk that out later, nothing too personal. The name is more of a signal that I’ve stepped on toes. If someone was pissed at me and decided to play head games like what seems to be going on here, I’d have a hard time letting go of that and would be tempted to try to escalate things. Junior-high-girl antics say “I want to make you miserable” instead of “I’m pissed and you’re out of line.”
    To be honest, ‘Mooneytits’ wouldn’t have been my first choice for a rude epithet…it’s a bit too irrelevant to make me giggle. Cockenbaum got a snicker, though.

  26. #26 windy
    July 16, 2009

    Sili: I hope that’s not because I link to elephant ass pics.

  27. #27 Sili
    July 16, 2009

    As a wise woman once said: mayyyyyyyyybeeeeeee.

  28. #28 windy
    July 16, 2009

    The circle of irony is complete!

    ERV, you little muffin. The four-dimensional space donut of irony is not complete until you note that it apparently escaped all these dead-tree crusaders that the Dynamic Duo had not read Pierce’s book.

  29. #29 Sili
    July 16, 2009

    Ah – The four-dimensional space donut of irony! I was wondering what to have with that Klein-bottle of bacon that showed up somewhere earlier (most likely Pharyngula – usually a safe bet when it comes to bacon).

  30. #30 Prometheus
    July 16, 2009

    Wow. Dr. Isis is a really icky person. I guess we need to start sexually harassing Abbie so that she will have street cred in twisted megalomaniacal materialist pretentious Catholic cave surrounded by rat bones and shoe boxes where that thing lives.

  31. #31 Sigmund
    July 17, 2009

    I notice the ‘Accomodati’ (I’ve stolen that from brock on Jerry Coynes forum) are out in force on the shoebloggers site.
    Its amazing that none of them have realized that she is pulling their legs with that ridiculous Isis character.
    Really, a physiology researcher who actually believes in virgin births, resurrection of dead bodies, cracker cannibalism and all the rest of that loopy catholic stuff?
    Come on, its like a story from ‘The Onion’.

  32. #32 PeterM
    July 17, 2009

    You little muffin of a pitbull ERV. Sciblogs is like halloween with all the apologists, accomodationists and enablers hustling for candy kudos.

    Dawkins has fleas, M&K are more like bedbugs.

    Whilst I had not heard your slant re dead-tree media, I tend to agree. PZ may have a chance of a publisher picking up a book and responding to the criticism on an equal footing, but as one of the maligned “New Atheists”, I have Buckley’s Chance of making a response in print (for non-aussie readers, Buckley’s Chance = zero).

    Every time I go back to Isis’ blog I leave with less respect for the writing and ideas than the last time. It just seems to be “no true catholic would molest children, let alone institutionalise it” – and “all men (in academia at least) are sexist slavering lust-beasts”. It just gets tedious after a while.

    The more I read PZ, the more I find his clear thinking and writing applies to so much, in life in general but especially in the blogsphere. The specific shot fired at you, about not having read the book (cover to cover) and then the subsequent jab that you were mocking victims of sexism because you haven’t personally been victimised fits within PZ’s posting on “The Courtier’s Reply”.

    It seems unless an atheist has studied Aquinas, read the bible in its original and every commentary written in the last 2,000 years we aren’t qualified to call their religion delusional. And the bleating of the sheeple – demanding we STFU and be polite – just sounds like the annoying buzz of an insect in my ear.

  33. #33 PZ Myers
    July 17, 2009

    I’ve heard from Charles Pierce that he’s planning to make a tour of the midwest this year, to give talks on Idiot America. Get in touch with me and I can give you his contact info, if you’re interested — he’d be a good one to get on campus.

  34. #34 ERV
    July 17, 2009

    Oh my god. I am going to have an orgasm from the irony of all of this.

    So, after reading my post comparing Mooneytits and Cockenbaum to Caseytits, two Anons defend TittyCock by screaming “SHE NEVER READ THE BOOK!”, a la Creationist ‘defense’ against my article on Behe/HIV-1, and “SEXIST! SEEEEXIST!”, a la Casey Luskin, and “LOOK AT THOSE MEAN COMMENTORS! BAWWWWW!”, a la Luskin.

    LOL! Idiots.

    Oh my little chickadees, I wish I could tell you why Im not at all sorry you are disturbing Isisisisis delicate sensibilities, or making ZuskAIDS head hurt (you have no idea how much this genuinely pleases me), but alas.

    But I assure you that these screams of ‘SEXISM’, attacks that could upset a more gentle soul, have no effect on this /b/tard.

    They actually make me quite happy.

    Because, as you might notice from my post that started this, disturbing people who have wrongly attacked friends makes me happy.

    :)

    *skips off to work*

  35. #35 Prometheus
    July 17, 2009

    #32 Peter M,

    “It seems unless an atheist has studied Aquinas, read the bible in its original and every commentary written in the last 2,000 years we aren’t qualified to call their religion delusional.”

    Fair enough.

    I was a Medievalist.

    Summa theologica
    The Latin Vulgate of Saint Jerome
    Augustine’s City of God
    100s of Hagiographies
    100s of treatise on Heresies
    100s of texts on cannon law
    Orbi et Urbi,
    2 papal audiences
    Unreserved access to the study collection of the Vatican museum including Archivum Secretum Apostolicum Vaticum

    I play five card with an archbishop.

    .
    .

    I own the Sepphorean Sororigradalis

    I’m qualified.

    .
    .
    Their religion is delusional.

  36. #36 Tyler DiPietro
    July 17, 2009

    “But I assure you that these screams of ‘SEXISM’, attacks that could upset a more gentle soul, have no effect on this /b/tard.”

    The wailing and gnashing of teeth should encourage us to do more of it. ARE YOU WITH ME, /b/ROTHERS???

    (Or should I be gender neutral and refer to you as “si/b/lings”?)

  37. #37 LanceR, JSG
    July 17, 2009

    Prometheus FTW! +2 Internets!

    We can close the thread now. Prometheus wins. Nothing more to see here. Move along.

  38. #38 Lledowyn
    July 17, 2009

    ERV teh /b/tard? How cool is that? So have you been around teh /i/nternets? :p

  39. #39 Sili
    July 17, 2009

    I want to be Prometheus.

    Whose brain do I have to eat?

  40. #40 KristinMH
    July 17, 2009

    Personally I lost respect for Isis when I found out she liked Twilight.

    Prometheus: I am the daughter of a former Catholic priest. Raised in the church, baptised, confirmed, 14 years of Catholic school, sincere believer until mid-teens. And I completely agree with you.

  41. #41 ERV
    July 17, 2009

    KristinMH– Personally I lost respect for Isis when I found out she liked Twilight.
    *blink*

    *blink*

    … Amazing how something so little can explain so much.

  42. #42 Prometheus
    July 17, 2009

    “I want to be Prometheus.

    Whose brain do I have to eat?”

    I’ll start pickling it at about 4:30.

    Glenmorangie okay?

    I can go with Remy Martin cause I know you are a foodie.

  43. #43 KristinMH
    July 17, 2009

    … Amazing how something so little can explain so much.

    Not that I’m dissing young adult fantasy fiction or anything – I’m a big Harry Potter fan – but Twilight? Srsly?

    I prefer my Mormon propaganda straight up, thank you, without the chaser of fake sparkly vampires.

  44. #44 windy
    July 17, 2009

    Now, now, Tyler, my little muskrat, two wrongs don’t make a right. After all these scurrilous attacks on our blogmistress I think we should focus on creating and maintaining a SAFE SPACE here, what do you say Tyler? Are you ALL IN?

  45. #45 Sili
    July 17, 2009

    Oh, I am but a sad foodie wannabe. And not at all a whiskyie – yet, at least.

    I’ve seen some nice Twilight fanart before I found out what the hell is was about. Iono – not my thing, but I can say that about a lot of stuff (but, yes, I know that this crap is seriously creepy).

    I’ve only read HP1 and see 3 and 4, because my sister gave my mother the dvds (and the first two on vhs, but she’d already watched those before the last Winter where I tried to tend to her). And I think reading it just to make nice with the poor woman I’m crushing on will a bit too … creepy/desperate. For now, at least …

  46. #46 Prometheus
    July 17, 2009

    Somebody told me that the Twilight author is LDS

    I guess fat Mormon gals are getting into the “masturbate to anti-jesus” thing too.

    Charlaine Harris is an Episcopalian

    I had dinner with Anne Rice once. She sure loves bein’ Catholic (ssshh I think she has down’s syndrome)

    Most Catholic women love vampire crap and generally don’t know why.

    It’s because it is the reverse of the Catholic depiction of the “living Christ” which is the only acceptable circumstance under which a girl raised catholic is allowed to explore sensual feelings.

    Sexual versus celibate

    carnal versus spiritual

    blood of damnation versus blood of redemption

    death of the soul versus death of the flesh

    Blah blah blah

    I wish they would get over it.

    When I feel the need to break their hearts I reveal that the titular and direct descendant of Prince Vlad “Tepes” Basarab Dracula (and Ulysses s. Grant oddly enough)lives in America.

    Then tell them he is a middle aged DWI lawyer in Midland, Texas.

  47. #47 Carlie
    July 17, 2009

    Oh, windy, I see what you did there. That’s the kind of blog crossover that could make the entire universe implode on itself.

  48. #48 Blake Stacey
    July 17, 2009

    Man. Twilight, compartmentalizing scientists, “safe space”, bacon, the Courtier’s Reply and faitheism. High Internet pressure!

  49. #49 Anton Mates
    July 17, 2009

    Hey now, the Twilight movies are works of high camp. Mostly because the actors are as appalled by the books as the rest of us are.

  50. #50 Dustin the DramaLlama
    July 17, 2009

    Sorry I followed you home. =(

  51. #51 Tyler DiPietro
    July 17, 2009

    It’s okay windy. Even if no one else wants to participate in a frenzy of sexist comments to further infuriate the self-obsessed pseudofeminists around these parts, there is already enough of a lollocaust going on with what’s already transpired. These people aren’t too hard to get riled up.

  52. #52 Sili
    July 17, 2009

    Dustin,

    As long as you get along with Arnie and don’t Kw*k on the floors, I don’t think ERV’ll mind.

    I mean … she puts up with me.

  53. #53 Lorax
    July 18, 2009

    Damnit ERV you are so mean!!!11!!1 I mean really?! You are supposed to fall over all puppy-dog eyed for the fluffy-feelgoodism of MmmKay et al. Everyone goes to bed feeling like the world is good despite reality. Asshats like PZ make us go to bed feeling all icky about real issues and, well you know, stuff. So please let us bask in our glory of those who deign to give us the right to exist (quietly so very very quietly) without feeling like the whores we are…..

    oh! and bitches!

  54. #54 windy
    July 18, 2009

    “I wish I could tell you why Im not at all sorry … but alas.”

    Oh PLZ PLZ PLZ give us a hint…

  55. #55 Jennifer B. Phillips (aka Danio)
    July 18, 2009

    Oh PLZ PLZ PLZ give us a hint…

    Posted by: windy | July 18, 2009 3:35 AM

    Indeed, I’m dying to know as well. I’ve been trying to back ERV up over at those nice ladies’ pads, but so far they’re ignoring me.

  56. #56 kristinMH
    July 18, 2009

    I second windy and Jennifer (or third them, I guess). Dish!

  57. #57 Azkyroth
    July 18, 2009

    What I’m defending is the idea that it’s a good idea to read a book before reviewing it. If we can’t agree that that makes sense, then why bother collecting data in our labs. Let’s just write whatever we feel like in our journal articles and send them out for publication. No review necessary. Because it’s all about what I THINK I know, right?

    Am I to understand, then, that you will henceforth begin making sure you actually understand what people are saying before lashing out at them, or at least acknowledging the error and perhaps apologizing once you’ve received an explanation correcting your misunderstanding?

    (Note: one example of many, involving numerous people other than myself).

  58. #58 Dan J
    July 19, 2009

    More and more, ERV climbs the list of my favorite blogs. You fukin’ RAWK, Abbie!

  59. #59 ERV
    July 20, 2009

    Id love to, guys, but cant. See, the perps behaved badly in ‘the back forum’, which is hallowed ground. Like, how you cant kill a Highlander in church?

    I dunno, people have been so supportive of TittyCock for ‘coming out’ with why they left SciBlogs.

    Maybe other bloggers who left recently might be forgiven if they come out with why they left, considering this topic of sexism in particular, even though the events happened on the back channel. I mean certain people are so concerned about sexism, Im sure they would want these bloggers stories to come to light!

    HMMMMMMM!

    **LAUGH!!**

  60. #60 Ranson
    July 20, 2009

    Like, how you cant kill a Highlander in church?

    Well, I’m sure you could

    We have a piper down. I repeat, a piper is down.

    ‘S all right, he’s just pissed.

    I expect at least one of this crowd to get that, anyway…

    Anyway, more on topic…
    Nah, it’s not worth the hassle. Let’s just say I like posting here, on occasion. I haven’t been lectured on why I’m not qualified to do so.

  61. #61 Jennifer B. Phillips (aka Danio)
    July 20, 2009

    Well, Zuska has now asked me to ‘get offa’ her blog for my horrible thought crimes against women. I thought about pointing out that I hadn’t actually address any of the misogyny issues in my comments on her ERV thread, but I’m not that fussed, honestly.

    I did comment specifically on the misogyny topic on Isis’s ERV rage post, and she didn’t respond to it there, but in *Zuska’s* thread Isis made the odd comment:
    “Oh, Jennifer, Jennifer, Jennifer…..I hope that ERV is able to continue her career in such a state of ignorant bliss…”

    So, apparently, all of our real world experience with actually, you know, being women scientists, developing our own internal criteria for where the we draw the line between “annoying but harmless” and “uncomfortably pervy” is invalid. The serious feminists have called us out as ignorant. And blissful. Yay! Because being that reactionary has got to be just fucking exhausting.

  62. #62 Sili
    July 20, 2009

    I respect the privacy, but – dammit – now you’re making me curious.

    Anyone know Zimmer personally? Or do I need to ask his brother? (Whom I unfortunately do not know personally.)

  63. #63 windy
    July 20, 2009

    other bloggers who left

    Like the one who’s been trying to yank your pigtails? :)

  64. #64 becca
    July 20, 2009

    Jennifer B. Phillips (aka Danio): You are fully entitled to drawing your personal line betwen “annoying but harmless” and “uncomfortably pervy” where you want. Actually, it’s good for all of us, myself and Zuska included, to be reminded different people draw the line differently.

    However, I’d argue that no one is entitled to tell anyone their feelings are invalid because they drew that line in a different place.

    Knowing Zuska (and having read the “She’s such a geek!” book on her sidebar) I can very much see why she would think ERV’s comments about feminism expressed in the bloggingheads video as being blissfully ignorant. Possibly even “blissfully intentionally obtuse”.
    I don’t know what to think about ERV and feminism- other than I’m pretty sure a good sense of humor and an optimistic attitude about sexism are very useful skills I hope to have in my toolbox (not that I never see a place for skills involving adequate communication of righteous indignation).

    (as an incidental note… Jenifer, I’ve been glad you’ve presented your view at the other blogs; my compulsion to express my difference in perspective with you here is likely more due to a contrarian streak than a fundamental disagreement with most of your take on this issue)

  65. #66 Jennifer B. Phillips (aka Danio)
    July 20, 2009

    @ Becca, thanks for your comment. Honestly, having this fragmented conversation across three or four different blog posts based on a tangential reaction to one aspect of the larger kerfuffle over UA has been rather taxing.

    Actually, it’s good for all of us, myself and Zuska included, to be reminded different people draw the line differently.

    Thank you very much for acknowledging this. It’s been my main point all along.

    However, I’d argue that no one is entitled to tell anyone their feelings are invalid because they drew that line in a different place.

    I completely agree–whom are you suggesting has actually done this? j

    Also, just to clarify (given the eleventymeta element), It was Isis who made the claim of ‘blissful ignorance’, though Zuska may indeed share that view. Would you consider a declaration that a particular point of view is ‘blissfully ignorant’ to be on a par with declaring that view ‘invalid’?

  66. #67 becca
    July 20, 2009

    whom are you suggesting has actually done this?

    Dustin, in comment #8, on ERV’s “congrats on the transformation” post. He said (about Sheril’s post on the annoying and/or uncomfortably pervy behavior of a senior scientist): “Mostly this was calculated to stir up a frenzy of third-wave sanctimony and white knighting. “. I think it is logically unjustified to assign someone else a motive in this fashion (how can you know what was calculated to do what?). Moreover, in context, I think it amounts to saying Sheril’s perspective is invalid.

    Normally, I think it would have been written off, since it was after all Dustin who said it, not ERV.

    But then ERV couldn’t resist the opportunity to be funny (comment 11, same thread), and replied in a way that was taken as mockery of Sheril (actually, since ERV’s response made me laugh, I tried really hard to see it anyway other than as a mockery of Sheril, and I came up with nothing… is there another way of reading that?).

    Would you consider a declaration that a particular point of view is ‘blissfully ignorant’ to be on a par with declaring that view ‘invalid’?

    Possibly, but it depends on context. Personally, I’d rather be “blissfully ignorant” than “invalid”. The first implies I’m sheltered (i.e. I did not have a complete dataset to analyze), the second suggests the audacious notion I might be incorrect (in how I have analyzed the data available to me).

  67. #68 windy
    July 20, 2009

    Normally, I think it would have been written off, since it was after all Dustin who said it, not ERV. But then ERV couldn’t resist the opportunity to be funny… and replied in a way that was taken as mockery of Sheril

    Jebus, Dustin really broke the internets with that one. *DUSTIIIN!*

    Moreover, in context, I think it amounts to saying Sheril’s perspective is invalid.

    yeah but on the other hand a wise man once said:
    “Speaking both personally and professionally what people say, and indeed even believe in some cases, is of less value in arriving at a close approximation of objective truth than is the consideration of all available data.”
    (don’t worry, I’m just being meta-facetious here.)

  68. #69 jennifer B. Phillips (aka Danio)
    July 20, 2009

    I think it is logically unjustified to assign someone else a motive in this fashion (how can you know what was calculated to do what?). Moreover, in context, I think it amounts to saying Sheril’s perspective is invalid.

    I agree that Dustin’s comment was speculative. However, I think it is worth pointing out that he seems to be mostly talking about the example Sheril used to set up her larger complaint (of the frequent sexism she experiences as a young, attractive woman in science, IIRC). Furthermore, Abbie confines her snarky comment specifically to this incident (old nerdy dude story) as well. Maybe this seems like hair-splitting, but a brief banter in a comments thread about this particular offense–and Sheril’s reaction to it–seems a bit far from actually telling Sheril anything about where she should or shouldn’t draw her lines. So if (as I read it) the mockery is confined to the set-up incident and not a judgement of the validity of the core complaint, maybe it just comes down to how effectively the original piece was framed (yeah, I said it). Kind of like how the Pluto demotion story is a really shitty way to set up a book about scientific illiteracy, but criticizing this approach in no way invalidates the contention that science illiteracy is a very real problem.

    Possibly, but it depends on context. Personally, I’d rather be “blissfully ignorant” than “invalid”. The first implies I’m sheltered (i.e. I did not have a complete dataset to analyze), the second suggests the audacious notion I might be incorrect (in how I have analyzed the data available to me).

    To me, the disturbing implication of the current conversation, and the charge of ‘blissful ignorance’ is that we will *never* be acknowledged as “having the complete data set” as long as we continue to disagree with the feministas on what constitutes misogyny and how to combat it. I find it difficult not to to see that as an attempt to invalidate our position.

  69. #70 becca
    July 20, 2009

    This is getting quite meta.
    windy- You don’t have to assume anyone’s word represents Objective Reality. I think you generally do have to take people at their word about what they FEEL about what happened.
    Given that, you’d either have to argue 1) sexism has an Objective Reality that has absolutely nothing to do with how the victim feels about it (not the most useful operational definition of sexism, IMO) OR 2) Sheril was lying about how she felt (if anyone is arguing this… citation???)

    jennifer- One can logically support the criticism of the way an argument is expressed without necessarily attempting to undermine the overall argument. But in the absence of an explicit indication of such, it is not reasonable to expect everyone else to assume that is what is going on. Particularly when it comes to emotionally charged issues. That goes for sexism, and probably anti-atheist views as well.
    Let’s try an analogy. How would it seem to you if I came along and posted on every thread where ERV describes the reluctance of her local population to listen to scientists with “People aren’t like that! Everyone is ever so eager to talk to me as a scientist, something must be wrong with you! You have nothing to complain about, you’re just making stuff up, drama queen! LOLZ!”
    (honestly, my first instinctive response to some of ERVs posts was along those exact lines… and then I thought about how I would feel about living in Oklahoma, and how different the people she knows might be from the people I know… and I shook some sense into myself and refrained from replying)
    The important thing to remember is that No One has the complete data set.

  70. #71 Jennifer B. Phillips (aka Danio)
    July 20, 2009

    But in the absence of an explicit indication of such, it is not reasonable to expect everyone else to assume that is what is going on.

    Maybe not, but neither is it reasonable to expect anyone to qualify their every utterance with a sufficient number of disclaimers to avoid all possible unintended interpretations. This is, after all, the internet. There is no shortage of things to be offended by, although some of these offenses are undeniably far more overt and unambiguous than others.

    How would it seem to you if I came along and posted on every thread where ERV describes the reluctance of her local population to listen to scientists with “People aren’t like that! Everyone is ever so eager to talk to me as a scientist, something must be wrong with you! You have nothing to complain about, you’re just making stuff up, drama queen! LOLZ!”

    Well, for this analogy to apply situationally you would have to be posting these comments on someone else’s blog, not ERV, right? And in addition to contending that ERV’s lament about this disinterest is a bogus play for sympathy, your example also denies that the problem exists at all, which is most emphatically NOT the situation we have been discussing.

    The important thing to remember is that No One has the complete data set.

    Indeed, which is why it seems like a really bad idea for anyone to assume that their experience and considered opinions trump all others.

  71. #72 Azkyroth
    July 21, 2009

    Given that, you’d either have to argue 1) sexism has an Objective Reality that has absolutely nothing to do with how the victim feels about it (not the most useful operational definition of sexism, IMO) OR 2) Sheril was lying about how she felt (if anyone is arguing this… citation???)

    How the subject or object of an allegedly sexist remark or action feels as a result of it is certainly an important criterion, but the question “is this a reasonable reaction?” is also worth asking (not to say it is, or isn’t, in this case). The line has to be drawn somewhere; there’s probably at least one person on the planet who finds “manatee” sexist as a designation of “personatees,” ffs.

  72. #73 Blake Stacey
    July 21, 2009

    So if (as I read it) the mockery is confined to the set-up incident and not a judgement of the validity of the core complaint, maybe it just comes down to how effectively the original piece was framed (yeah, I said it). Kind of like how the Pluto demotion story is a really shitty way to set up a book about scientific illiteracy, but criticizing this approach in no way invalidates the contention that science illiteracy is a very real problem.

    This is, more or less, what I was going to say.

    Discussions, even those passionately argued in a good cause, can circle the drain and accomplish nothing of lasting value. Having met a fair number of the bloggers who responded to the catcalls sent Kirshenbaum’s way, I can say that they’re nice people who were almost certainly writing out of genuine feeling rather than an attempt to make themselves look better. That didn’t change the fact that I found the whole business tedious and ineffective at probing the deeper problems — those more fundamental than a couple guys being dicks on the Internet.

    [...] neither is it reasonable to expect anyone to qualify their every utterance with a sufficient number of disclaimers to avoid all possible unintended interpretations.

    If such disclaimers could even be formulated in advance; I’m betting they couldn’t.

  73. #74 windy
    July 21, 2009

    Blake:
    This is, more or less, what I was going to say.

    That just goes to show what a MISOGYNYST!!1! you are!

    (sigh, I was trying to tear myself away from this multi-blog ‘misogyny’ trainwreck, but couldn’t resist)

    becca:
    windy- You don’t have to assume anyone’s word represents Objective Reality.

    I wasn’t endorsing that statement as much as observing that challenging someone’s perceptions of an emotionally distressing situation seems to be OK in some situations but a big no-no in others. Oh well.

  74. #75 becca
    July 21, 2009

    Azkyroth- all questions are worth asking, but not all are equally worthy.
    Asking about the reasonableness of a reaction to a social interaction we have very limited information on strikes me as less productive than asking what we can do about the real and important issue the anecdote was used to bring up. Some of us did have such conversations after Kirshenbaum’s posts, but there was also a great deal of superfluous internet dramu.

    speaking of which…
    Blake Stacey- has you good methods for probing deeper the problems than a couple of guys being jerks on the internet? A lot of us do not mind dramu per se, but would rather be discussing more substantial stuff.

    windy- challenging someone’s perceptions of an emotionally distressing situation IS ok, on this blog and many other places. But context matters.
    I personally tend to find such challenges vaguely grating (likely as a result of having my emotional perceptions challenged). Still, I don’t think it’s “a big no-no”, though it is likely to be remarkably ineffective unless you are very good at understanding what will make someone defensive.

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