Just an observation.

DRAMA-LLAMA-DING-DONG!

Its Drama! Pictures, Images and Photos

Just an observation. Move along, unless youre bored on a Sunday afternoon.

So you all know how I ‘debated’ Charles Jackson a few months ago? Like over 9,000 hours of presentation and Q&A? Well, I answered a lot more Qs after the Q&A, after we had officially ‘stopped’.

A nice young man came up, a little sheepishly, and as delicately as he could, asked me how I could be ‘good’ without his God. He was very concerned that this question might offend me, and kept gushing about how nice I was and such, so I was happy to give him a nice answer, and not the usual ‘So the only thing keeping you from raping babies is the possibility that some creepy god is watching and will be pissed at you? LOL Pervert!’

The nice answer, for me, is The Golden Rule plus an addendum, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. And when in doubt, ask.” The possibility that my actions would cause another person pain or hardship is far more of a deterrent to me, than the idea my actions might cause a god, that may or may not exist, to be upset. While how I think someone might feel might not be how they actually feel, I am quite certain they are a real person with real feelings that I need to take into account.

So naturally, when Mooneytits hypocritically shoved PZ under the bus in ‘Unscientific America’, the emotion I imagined PZ feeling reminded me of how I felt when Caseytits misrepresented me and ERV irl, with the added bonus that Mooneytits had to be a backstabber to do it.

My conclusion was obvious, if Mooneytits would do that to PZ, he would do it to any of us. Only a complete fool would attempt to have a real conversation with this hack now.

But whats still puzzling to me is “Why didnt he throw all of us under the bus?” Why only PZ, over a very you-only-understand-this-if-you-read-SciBlogs event? The only answer I can think of is Mooneytits has some sort of petty vendetta against PZ, for something, because nothing else makes any sense.

1. If ‘New Atheists’ are harming science literacy, why pick Crackergate as an example?
Crackergate makes no sense in context of ‘UA’. PZ reacted to a theistic bruhaha as an atheist. While the theists in question would make stupid claims that can be tested and established false by science, ‘science’ had nothing to do with that encounter, other than the fact PZ is a scientist as a profession.

A better example would be things PZ has said about Creationists. Mooney would have had years and years and years of blog posts, interviews, debates, presentations PZs done to harvest quotes illustrating how mean PZ is to Creationists, as a scientist, which Mooneytits asserts makes dumb roobs scardeded of science.

But the thing is, lots of us (atheist scientists) are mean to professional Creationists. Mooneytits could have picked on PandasThumb (where PZ was a founding member). He could have picked on any of Oracs rants against Egnor. And lord knows he could have picked on me.

But he didnt.

Mooneytits chose to misrepresent PZ on the topic of Crackergate. Huh?? It doesnt make any sense.

2. If bloggers are ‘so uncivil’, and scardeding people away from science, why only use PZ as an example?

Following #1, it makes no sense to connect a bloggers response to a theistic lynch-mob to science literacy. It would have made more sense, if we are talking about civility, to pick on someone like me. My nickname for an HIV Denier, Rebecca Culshaw, before I moved to ScienceBlogs, was Cunt.

Thats it.

Just plain ol Cunt.

I saw her face, thats the nickname that popped into my head.

Btw, shes an unemployed Cunt now, LOL! Didnt even try to get tenure. BAWW! Matheses be hard, huh Blondie? LOL! Fucking loser!

See? That would have been a much better example of how naughty and uncivil and anti-PC scientists can be when they blog, thus ‘lurkers’ get turned off of science.

Another fine example would be Orac, who mercilessly (YAY!) goes after anti-vaxers, alt-med woo peddlers ‘curing cancer’, etc. This merciless stance can be interpreted by ‘lurkers’ as an old fuddy-duddy scientist picking on young mothers and their children, thus, turning them off of science…

… But Mooneytits didnt choose to pick on me, and he is quite smitten with Orac.

“I think it’s definitely a response to the science, which has consistently shown no correlation,” says David Gorski, a cancer surgeon funded by the National Institutes of Health who in his spare time blogs at Respectful Insolence, a top medical blog known for its provaccine stance. A hardening of antivaccine attitudes, mixed with the despair experienced by families living under the strain of autism, has heightened the debate–sometimes leading to blowback against scientific researchers.
…But if the Internet has made it easier for pockets of antiscience feeling to grow and flourish, scientific authorities also deserve some of the blame. “I don’t think they woke up that this was a serious problem until maybe 2008,” David Gorski says about the growing antivaccine sentiment. George Washington University’s Hotez notes that “the office of the surgeon general, the secretary of Health and Human Services, and the head of the CDC have not been very vocal on this issue.” True, the CDC, the Food and Drug Administration, and other governmental organizations feature accurate and up-to-date information about vaccine risks on their Web sites. But that is very different from launching a concerted communications campaign to ensure that the public retains faith in vaccination.

Wait, wut?
PZs blog is “the online clearinghouse for confrontational atheism“, while Oracs blog is “a top medical blog known for its provaccine stance”?

PZ is castigated for accurately describing an insane lynch-mob as “demented fuckwits”, while Orac having a whole category of ‘antivaccination lunacy’ and calling anti-vax claims ‘thermonuclear stupid‘ are fine and dandy like sour candy?

But just to make this point about Mooneytits 100% clear, in his vaccination article, he could have called out Orac for being too mean. But he didnt. Mooneytits throws some guy, Stephen Cochi, and the CDC under the bus for not being civil enough for his pristine standards:

Some outspoken scientists may have actually increased the polarization on this issue. For example, calling those against vaccines “scientifically illiterate”–or, as CDC vaccine expert Stephen Cochi reportedly put it to one journalist, “junk scientists and charlatans”–may just lead to a further circling of the wagons.

Some outspoken scientists. But not Orac scientists. Even though Orac scientists say the same things and worse.

… wut??

The only explanation I see is that Mooneytits misrepresented and attacked PZ in ‘UA’ for purely personal reasons.

It would be interesting if Mooneytits grew a penis and maybe a testicle or two and admitted that.

Comments

  1. #1 Divalent
    August 2, 2009

    Perhaps part of the explanation is that they think it’s only whacko religious beliefs that deserve the kid-glove treatment. Other instances of confused muddleheaded thinking are okay to treat with the ridicule they deserve.

    Which is kind of like treating the symptoms but not the cause. Religion teaches people that it is okay to be irrational, illogical, and to ignore evidence. Process a mind through religion and you produce fertile minds for all sorts of other irrational beliefs.

    Take any woo-believers, and I can guarantee they were indoctrinated in some sort of religion when very young, long before they later took on their special woo-beliefs. Religion is the root of all woo.

  2. #2 Sigmund
    August 2, 2009

    To be completely fair Mooney does not exclusively single out PZ for the ‘nasty atheist’ treatment. He has also, on occasion, singled out Jerry Coyne, in particular when he misrepresented Coyne’s stance on the appointment of Francis Collins in his Newsweek article.

  3. #3 KristinMH
    August 2, 2009

    Awesome! Moar blog drama!

    FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT!

    Seriously…now that you mention it, Crackergate is a very weird example to choose. It actually had very little to do with science – anyone with a popular blog and a fearless nature could have done what PZ did, scientest or no. It doesn’t actually support their thesis, unless Mooney is arguing that PZ is giving scientists a bad name or something and thus harming scientific literacy.

    Or, as you suggest, it’s really just a personal beef with PZ. Hmmm…

  4. #4 D. C. Sessions
    August 2, 2009

    Take any woo-believers, and I can guarantee they were indoctrinated in some sort of religion when very young, long before they later took on their special woo-beliefs. Religion is the root of all woo.

    That’s an interesting hypothesis, but it doesn’t really square with my own observations. I’d love to see some sort of serious test, despite the huge numerical issue caused by the near-ubiquity of religion in Western society, especially once you go back a few decades.

    My own suspicion is that the tendency towards magical thinking is pretty much innate in homo sapiens, and that religion is the result more than the cause. Woo is the expression of that tendency, even in those who are not otherwise prone to religion.

    You could even conjecture that the rise of astrology, tarot, mysticism, and all the other “new age” irrationality are the urge for magic manifesting in a society where religion has largely withdrawn from the day-to-day application of magic to people’s lives.

  5. #5 Wes
    August 2, 2009

    Some outspoken scientists may have actually increased the polarization on this issue. For example, calling those against vaccines “scientifically illiterate”–or, as CDC vaccine expert Stephen Cochi reportedly put it to one journalist, “junk scientists and charlatans”–may just lead to a further circling of the wagons.

    Referring to people who are otherwise your allies under the label “New Atheists” and writing hit pieces on them in Newsweek and the Nation might have a similar effect.

    Mooney is following the Nisbet method: Excoriate others for using exactly the same tactics you yourself do. Chastise atheists for being mean to religionists by calling them “Borat Atheists” or “Don Imus Atheists”. Polarize the debate by accusing everyone else of polarizing the debate.

    I’m just tired of it all. Mooney needs to get back to writing things like the Republican War on Science and stop creating tedious internet drama over silly things like Crackergate, which no one outside of Scienceblogs and the Catholic League even gives a shit about.

    Oh, and part of what makes Orac so awesome is that he calls it like it is. He isn’t afraid to call a spade a spade. I’m glad he doesn’t fit the Mooney mold, because he’d be much less effective if he did.

  6. #6 Stephanie Z
    August 2, 2009

    Divalent, how much you paying on that guarantee? I was raised without religion. Found the whole thing rather confusing, in fact. However, I recently got to hear myself talk about coming to skepticism after believing in woo, and it rang tons of deconversion-story bells.

    I’m starting to think about Mooney the way I thought about Mary Roach after Spook; i.e., wondering whether the early promise was some weird fluke. Too much of what is going on right now doesn’t seem to make sense. On the upside, Bonk was great, so maybe Mooney just needs to write about sex.

  7. #7 Blake Stacey
    August 2, 2009

    A better example would be things PZ has said about Creationists. Mooney would have had years and years and years of blog posts, interviews, debates, presentations PZs done to harvest quotes illustrating how mean PZ is to Creationists, as a scientist, which Mooneytits asserts makes dumb roobs scardeded of science.

    Ah, but finding any of those quotations would have required actual work.

  8. #8 Ophelia Benson
    August 2, 2009

    Maybe he’s saving it all for the next book? Maybe the next book will be a real humdinger of a page turner all about how mean and evil various bloggers are, with quotations and background and dialogue and everything. The American public will be so fascinated that all tvs will be cold and dead for a week. Does Mooney know how to tell a story or what.

  9. #9 Bayesian Bouffant, FCD
    August 2, 2009
  10. #10 Optimus Primate
    August 2, 2009

    Personally, I think it’s just a matter of numbers. If Moonbat had pissed on Orac (thereby pissing off Orac’s supporters), how much discussion would there be, really? Granted, there would have been some, and most people who read this blog would have been hip to it, but I honestly think it would have died down by now. Not much in the way of press there, either way.

    Piss on Abbie and — please forgive me if this comes off as crass or sexist, but I really believe it’s a factor — he ends up being the dick who attacked the smokin’ hot chick. And if he lets Sheril take credit for it, it just looks catty. Probably not a big boost to sales, and there’s no possible way to get any sympathy out of it.

    Piss on PZ Myers, though and… well, we’ve seen what happens as a result. We’re still talking about this book, when it should have gone the way of Chinese Democracy already. I’m not saying PZ shouldn’t have fired back (he should have, he did, and his response was brilliant), but in firing back I think he gave the book a lot more publicity than it would have otherwise gotten. And Crackergate is the single incident I can recall where even some of PZ’s most ardent supporters said he crossed a line, so Moonbat knows he’s got some sympathy in attacking it.

    Would anyone really remember it if Sinead O’Connor had ripped up a picture of Bill Donohue on SNL? I’m not trying to say that PZ is our pope, but let’s face it: the number of more recognizable American scientists is pretty small. Neil DeGrasse Tyson comes to mind. Michio Kaku, maybe, given how much he whores himself on the Discovery Channel. But neither of those guys is very publicly hostile to religion.

    Moonbat, being the horrible shot he is, went for the largest target he could find that made any kind of sense at all. And I have to admit, whether or not he made this underhanded attack, I never would have bought the book — but the only reason I sat in Books-A-Million and read a lot of it for free is because of the PZ brouhaha.

  11. #11 HP
    August 2, 2009

    Mooney’s personal vendetta against PZ is obvious — Mooney’s whole thesis is that scientists who are conciliatory and accommodationist will be more popular and respected than those who are confrontational and uncivil. PZ is a guy who teaches undergraduates at a small liberal arts school, who has become the World’s Most Popular Science Blogger by being uncivil and confrontational (and, not coincidentally, by being the best science popularizer since we lost Gould). It’s not any one thing that PZ has said or done that pisses off Mooney; PZ’s very existence refutes Moooney’s basic premise.

    Or as I once put it sarcastically in a comment buried somewhere in the Pharyngula archives, “It’s amazing that PZ Myers has gained such an enormous and dedicated following despite his complete lack of communication skills.”

  12. #12 Jared
    August 2, 2009

    Love the llama.

    That’s all I have to say. Oh, and lawl@Bonk; that was a great book. Uno should try it some time after he grows his penis and testicle

  13. #13 Wes
    August 2, 2009

    I’m not saying PZ shouldn’t have fired back (he should have, he did, and his response was brilliant), but in firing back I think he gave the book a lot more publicity than it would have otherwise gotten. And Crackergate is the single incident I can recall where even some of PZ’s most ardent supporters said he crossed a line, so Moonbat knows he’s got some sympathy in attacking it.

    Posted by: Optimus Primate | August 2, 2009 8:25 PM

    You and I seem to be on a similar wave-length. I speculated along these lines over at Ophelia Benson’s blog:

    Back when PZ was expelled from Expelled, Mooney (along with Randy Olsen and Matt Nisbet) all accused him of helping the movie. They claimed he helped Expelled by getting publicity (eg in the NYT) when PZ had nothing to sell, but Ben Stein did.

    Now, Mooney has something to sell (his book), and he has attacked PZ (who has nothing to sell) in both Newsweek and The Nation. And over some incredibly petty things (Crackergate and the Weblog Awards? Are you kidding me?). My guess is that most Newsweek and Nation readers have no idea who PZ is and have never heard of Crackergate or the Weblog Awards before Mooney mentioned them.

    Many people have speculated about whether Mooney is attacking PZ in order to promote his book. I couldn’t say for sure, but his tactics surely mirror some of the thinking that he and his associates have exhibited in the past.
    | Wes | 2009-08-01 – 17:48:18 |

    http://www.butterfliesandwheels.com/notesarchive.php?id=2859

  14. #14 Ciaphas
    August 2, 2009

    A thought I was not expecting to have at work today: That is one freaky looking llama.

    It’s actually pretty obvious why Mooney doesn’t go after Orac; he’s a bad target. This country has a big anti-intellectual streak and Mooney is trying to exploit that. Orac is an actual, honest to god, breast cancer surgeon. Just like the one who may have saved your mother’s life. He’s not some pointy headed “intellectual” who’s never done anything but read “books” and get an “education”.

    The biggest problem with Mooney is a simple one. He doesn’t care about science, he cares about Mooney.

  15. #15 Azkyroth
    August 3, 2009

    … But Mooneytits didnt choose to pick on me, and he is quite smitten with Orac.

    “I think it’s definitely a response to the science, which has consistently shown no correlation,” says David Gorski, a cancer surgeon funded by the National Institutes of Health who in his spare time blogs at Respectful Insolence, a top medical blog known for its provaccine stance.

    I dunno; Mooney made the effort to out that pseudonymous blogger, even though it wasn’t precisely secret.

  16. #16 Azkyroth
    August 3, 2009

    PS: As the forces of reason attempt to analyze the defeats they have suffered in the struggle against scientific illiteracy, all Mooney has to offer is another Dolchstoßlegende.

  17. #17 Kristjan Wager
    August 3, 2009

    I was kinda thinking the same Azkyroth. If they wanted to use a named source, they could use David Gorski (who might, or might not, be Orac) and his work at http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/

  18. #18 Stephen Wells
    August 3, 2009

    “Hey, nice llama” / “I bet you say that to all the cute scientists.”

  19. #19 clinteas
    August 3, 2009

    Hehe….
    Try using the c word on Pharyngula Abbie,hint : being a chick will not save you from the wrath of the righteous…:-)

  20. #20 Christophe Thill
    August 3, 2009

    I don’t know exactly why Mooney felt the need to use Orac’s real name. Whether he was explicitly allowed to do so isn’t clear either. But, Abbie, although it’s not really the best kept secret in our galaxy, I think you should blank out this name wherever it appears in your post (and in the comments).

  21. #21 ERV
    August 3, 2009

    Orac linked to Mooneytits vaccine article on Respectful Insolence, so Im assuming he knows about and is cool with the ‘outing’. I agree Mooneytits should have referenced ‘Science Based Medicine’ instead, but if Orac is fine with it, none of my business.

  22. #22 Sili
    August 3, 2009

    Nice hair.

  23. #23 Blake Stacey
    August 3, 2009

    I was raised without religion. Found the whole thing rather confusing, in fact. However, I recently got to hear myself talk about coming to skepticism after believing in woo, and it rang tons of deconversion-story bells.

    I was about to write a lengthy screed concurring with and commenting upon this remark, when I realized that I’d already said it all, basically, on pp. 52–56 of my science-fiction novel. BUY MY BOOK! BUY MY BOOK!

    . . . sorry, I think M&K are rubbing off.

    And Crackergate is the single incident I can recall where even some of PZ’s most ardent supporters said he crossed a line, so Moonbat knows he’s got some sympathy in attacking it.

    True, I think, although this long after the event, even those people are likely going, “That again?”

  24. #24 Jason Thibeault
    August 3, 2009

    My fiancee Jodi was pretty heavy into the woo before we met. She was not religious, having been raised completely without religion, however she was then exposed to it in the form of her father joining the Jehovah’s Witnesses when she was old enough to choose not to join herself. While she wanted to be a part of what her father’s religious life, to understand what he got out of it, my understanding is that she didn’t believe any of it herself. And she was already, at that point, into astrology and chakras and ghosts and other new-agey junk. Religion had nothing to do with it whatsoever.

    She is well and truly on the side of reason now, fully “deconverted”, owing only to my exposing her repeatedly to how awesome evidence-based science actually is. It helps that she was a Star Trek fan before we met as well — because that primed her for science being pretty damned close to what they show on TeeVee. I am firmly in the camp that says humans are prone to magical thinking, as a whole. Our brains are buggy, squishy systems that are prone to mind-viruses like religion and woo. The thought that one has to be indoctrinated into religion to believe in woo is patently false and easily disproven. Sorry.

    (PS: Jodi loves llamas. Seriously.)

  25. #25 Prometheus
    August 3, 2009

    Some clever sexy person posted this last week:

    “The book will succeed because it’s point was to lay the blame for a claimed and unproven floundering science literacy on the smallest group they could find that was both vocal and that M&K had an admitted prior grudge against.

    By putting the ugly baby at the doorstep of new atheists they free the religious, the accommodationists, the journalists and the blissfully ignorant from all personal responsibility.”

    I think they needed a quick scapegoat and PZ not only filled the bill, Mooney was butthurt. (dead birds=double points)

    I think if PZ wasn’t such a moving target then M&K might have picked ERV as an example of crassness and Sheril could have woven yet another crapestry of..

    “Just because I order a couple hundred glamor shots, have a you tube channel that looks like it was made by a retarded twelve year old and (with no qualifications) want to write a book about kissing…yadayadadada da da da…..cyber raped!”

    Keep being you Abbie and I bet you could get honorable mention next time.

    Bring up that Mooney (the Scott Baio of science journalism)has piggy eyes and is starting to get fat.

  26. #26 Dr Benway
    August 3, 2009
  27. #27 Prometheus
    August 3, 2009

    #24 Jason Thibeault wrote,

    “My fiancee Jodi was pretty heavy into the woo before we met. She was not religious, having been raised completely without religion, however she was then exposed to it in the form of her father….”

    It is an interesting dilemma but thankfully one I have not had to deal with as The Bride is one of the faithless.

    The god squad tried to sell The Bride banana bread yesterday and her response was, “I love banana bread but I’m not gonna buy it unless you are some grifter using the Jesus angle to raise money for crack.” he was aghast and was then advised,”Well f*ck off then!”

    That’s my baby.
    http://witneyman.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/horror-2.jpg

    Her father, on the other hand, will corner you regarding conspiracies and cover-ups for hours. Not her, because she just throws something at him but he buttonholes anyone else who will listen.

    Do you think that the waning of religion is creating a vacuum filling with woo as Dawkins predicted.

    Speaking of llamas and woo, one floody summer I dealt with three different farmers bringing “sea serpents” to museum receiving (storage and forage). When llamas pass on to llamaradise their necks detach at the shoulders and the hair comes off. Scary.

    Imagine that floating down the bar ditch.

  28. #28 Jason Thibeault
    August 3, 2009

    Prometheus: The Bride sounds awesome.

    And yeah, PZ seems to have been a target of opportunity. They had a pre-existing beef, PZ already had some enmity with their favorite faith-heads, and with PZ’s supporters being as prone to vociferous blogging as we are, they get a shit-ton of free advertising. I mean holy hell, I stopped caring about M&K and their ridiculous book ages ago. (In internet time a month is like over 9000 years.)

  29. #29 H.H.
    August 3, 2009

    I have a theory about the Crackergate incident and on Mooney’s position in general. As Coyne pointed out, Mooney has said some pretty condemning things about religion in the past (http://www.slate.com/id/115965/). But somewhere along the line, something happened to turn him into a faitheist. Most people accuse (credit?) Nisbet with this transformation, but I think it may have more to do with his involvement with Sheril Kirshenbaum. While this entails a whole lot of speculation on my part, I know that SK is Jewish, and generally many Jews tend to be “culturally Jewish.” That is, they don’t take their religion very literally, but it’s extremely important to them as a matter of group identity. More than anyone, I could see SK being uncomfortable with any criticism of faith and religion, which as an intelligent woman she knows is indefensible.

    But indoctrination is a bear, and many smart people still to cling to bad ideas for emotional reasons. That’s why they would just prefer to leave the whole matter of religion roped off from discussion; it’s so they don’t have to defend or reevaluate their beliefs, a process which they find painful or uncomfortable (as well as a losing proposition). I get the sense that Crackergate really offended SK, since she’s the who still has an active stake in protecting faith and religious beliefs, and the atheist Mooney merely defends her position as his own because he enjoys riding in as her shining white knight.

    So, that’s my going theory. Mooney is severely pussy-whipped, and that’s what has turned his brain to mush. Like I said, pure speculation on my part, so take it for what it’s worth.

  30. #30 John Phillips, FCD
    August 3, 2009

    I would say that it is fairly obvious, to me at least, jealousy pure and simple. After all, Mooney claims to be the professional communicator yet it is PZ who has by far the most popular blog on SciBorg and was probably a large part of the reason Mooney left the Borg. Additionally, the only time M&K tend get visitors in any real numbers to their new blog, ignoring the usual crazies who hang there, is when they attack more successful bloggers like PZ.

  31. #31 Prometheus
    August 3, 2009

    Herald Sun front page with Sheril in a purty sun dress next to a tree. I am going to need some acid reflux med if this keeps up…..

    “DURHAM — She’s been a Top 40 disc jockey, a radio morning show host and a drummer in a punk rock band.

    She’s a blogger and has worked on ships along the Maine coast and served as a congressional science fellow.

    She’s also a marine biologist, with two master’s degrees and a research associate at Duke University who has studied the, as she calls it, “charismatic sea cucumber.”

    But what interests Sheril Kirshenbaum most now is proselytizing for science, spreading the gospel about the importance of science in our lives, cautioning against encroaching scientific illiteracy and urging scientists to learn to communicate better.”

    Gross.

  32. #32 Prometheus
    August 3, 2009

    P.S. The picture is full color and bigger than the article. Register if you want, I used bugmenot because I don’t want junk e-mail from a crappy paper.

  33. #33 jim
    August 3, 2009

    I think H.H. (@29) may have nailed it… but does the timing of Mooney+SK correlate well?

    Though I would have left out the 2nd last sentence.

  34. #34 Ophelia Benson
    August 3, 2009

    You mean the one that goes “Mooney is severely pussy-whipped, and that’s what has turned his brain to mush.”

    Gee, why? Just because it assumes that female-to-male influence is some kind of abhorrent perversion that turns the male’s brain to mush?

  35. #35 ERV
    August 3, 2009

    Um, it does, sometimes.

  36. #36 Ophelia Benson
    August 3, 2009

    No doubt, but the phrase implies that it does all the time, inherently – and that it’s a violation of nature for Feeble Women to be influencing Strong Men.

  37. #37 H.H.
    August 3, 2009

    No doubt, but the phrase implies that it does all the time, inherently.

    Um, no, not at all really. It describes a particular type of dysfunctional relationship that some men fall into some of the time. It doesn’t assume that female-to-male influence is some kind of abhorrent perversion, but it does assume that spinelessness and subservience are undesirable qualities (in anyone). The term is useful because it describes not only a condition, but the underlying psychology which is the cause of the condition. Yes, it’s a gender specific term, but the misogynistic reading you have chosen to give it is pretty forced, in my opinion.

    But if the term offended anyone, you have my apologies. Really.

  38. #38 Ophelia Benson
    August 3, 2009

    It didn’t offend me – it’s just that I think misogynist language does do harm. Sorry. As you say – it is a gender-specific term. That’s not just some accident. Nobody talks about the underlying psychology of being cock-whipped.

    But I’m not trying to extort apologies, or anything else.

  39. #39 Tristan Croll
    August 3, 2009

    Just posted this at the latest kerfuffle over at the Intersection. Reposting here just in case it doesn’t make it through moderation.

    Marc asks:

    “Is there some evidence that attacking someone’s religious beliefs as superstitious twaddle is an effective way to change their mind? Or is the game only allowed to be played in one direction?”

    Is there any evidence that any approach will change the minds of more than a tiny fraction of the strongly religious? If there is, I have yet to come across it.

    I’m going to describe my approach, because from what I’ve seen and read it’s pretty much the same as that taken by PZ, Dawkins et al.

    Everything I’ve seen tells me that the vast majority of strongly religious adults are already lost forever – so firmly wedded to their beliefs that nothing will ever change their minds. Children, adolescents and many of the “apatheistic” young adults, on the other hand, are still for the most part flexible enough to be reachable.

    So, why go after the “unreachable” adults? Simple. Because they’re currently the de facto role models for legions of impressionable young minds – many of whom are watching. So, I show my clear, forthright contempt for those role models, but more importantly try to clearly convey why they’re contemptible: their hypocrisy, their complete divorce from reality, their wilful lying and, all too often, their utter betrayal of the very “Biblical morals” they claim to hold so dear. This is never going to convince them of anything, but – the Internet being first and foremost a very public arena – it helps to illustrate to anyone watching that these are not role models to follow.

    That, I think, is the major service that the “New Atheists,” whether hyper-popular blogger or relatively obscure forum debater, perform.

  40. #40 Jason Thibeault
    August 3, 2009

    I do like the White Knight theory because it sounds a good deal like pretty well every instance of online chivalry I’ve seen, and it could be supported via the pattern of action with regard to what he’ll block and moderate and excoriate, and what he won’t. That said, I am sure I disagree that it by definition means he’s pussy-whipped. He could as easily be deluded into thinking his actions might get him some skin sometime down the road (not even necessarily with Sheril). Or he could just think of himself as some kind of internet paladin out to right all injustices with his mighty computer keyboard as his lance.

  41. #41 Tristan Croll
    August 3, 2009

    As an aside, man would I love to see the list of criteria triggering comment moderation over there!

  42. #42 Azkyroth
    August 4, 2009

    You mean the one that goes “Mooney is severely pussy-whipped, and that’s what has turned his brain to mush.”

    Gee, why? Just because it assumes that female-to-male influence is some kind of abhorrent perversion that turns the male’s brain to mush?

    As an aside, what would you call the state of a guy being in thrall to his buddies in a fashion analogous to this “pussy-whipped” thing, because he’s afraid if he ever makes a decision on his own they’ll accuse him of being “pussy-whipped?”

    Pussy-whip-whipped? Meta-pussy-whipped? Inquiring minds want to know. O.o

  43. #43 Sigmund
    August 4, 2009

    I think its wrong to put the blame for Mooneys conversion to faitheism on Sheril Kirshenbaum. I suspect that there is a lot occurring behind the scenes of which we are unaware. As a career move it seems quite reasonable – there IS a degree of polarization in the culture wars and the middle ground is rather empty (whether or not it is logically valid in this question is entirely another matter). Mooney, like Nisbet is simply occupying a niche – albeit one that is more political than scientific. By the way, what’s happened with the old Mooney-Nisbet partnership? We had Mooney, a few months back, criticising Nisbets call to stop using the term ‘denier’ for climate change ‘skeptics’ and now a deafening silence from Nisbet on ‘Unscientific America’ regarding one of his primary talking points – that the ‘New Atheists’ should shut up.
    As for the most devastating comment on Mooney and Kirshenbaum, read the last two lines of this spoof.
    http://www.thespoof.com/magazine/index.cfm?eID=4715
    As Homer once said “its funny coz’ its true”

  44. #44 carlsonjok
    August 4, 2009

    Mooney’s whole thesis is that scientists who are conciliatory and accommodationist will be more popular and respected than those who are confrontational and uncivil.

    I would disagree. But, I have to tread carefully here. I think PZ is effective as a voice for demanding an open place in society for non-believers. I think he is also a talented writer and can/has be an effective science educator. As a non-scientist and member of the general public, I think the problem comes in when the two are intertwined. The first question that needs to be asked is what is your goal: Is your goal to get people to abandon their religion or is it to advance the cause of effective science education? If your goal is the former, there really isn’t much I can say. If it is (solely) the latter, then the real discussion is not what approach is most popular, but what is most effective.

    Unlike other commenters, I believe most people are reasonable and are willing to hear a subject out. Certainly the types that gravitate into the debate are demagogues and not educable. But, most of the religious people I know and interact with are not that way.

    So, understanding that it is a historical fact that science education has been done poorly in the past and that it is a similar truism that religion is a large part of peoples lives, you have to approach the subject carefully. Religion is familiar and science is foriegn. You have to meet people where they are. And nothing will turn them off faster than charging in and telling them that they are stupid and delusional for believing in a sky fairy. You are attacking what they consider a large part of their self and you will get nowhere fast.

    Don’t believe me? Look at how creationists react to folks like Ken Miller and Frances Collins versus PZ. They have to go through all sorts of contortions (and take a few trips down into the quote mine) to try and counter Miller. With PZ, all they have to do is point. PZ does the rest of their job for them.

    I think Crackergate was used, not because it is part and parcel of PZ’s science education “portfolio”, but because it was so outsized and tends to drown out his effective, but less dramatic, science advocacy. Frankly, I cheered him on in Crackergate as he showed up that demagogue, Bill Donohue. Theocrats need to be called out. But, I struggle with applying the same approach regarding rights and privileges from matters of policy. Suppression of rights, whether it is by toads like Donohue or anyone else, needs to be confronted. But good science education is a matter of policy. And policy-setting is a delicate matter and is better served by gentle, but persistent and non-compromising, advocacy that doesn’t tell people they are fools.

  45. #45 Sigmund
    August 4, 2009

    Creationists have no problem dismissing Miller or Collins. They just point out that neither of these men are ‘Real Christians’. Ken Ham has even made the point that Christians cannot logically dismiss some of the bible and yet keep the rest of it – the way theistic evolutionists use that book.

  46. #46 Blake Stacey
    August 4, 2009

    does the timing of Mooney+SK correlate well?

    Looking back through my archives, I find that Mooney started collaborating with Nisbet in April 2007, and Sheril got into the game towards the end of May. I seemed to remember the interval being longer — Internet time must be playing tricks on me.

  47. #47 Screechy Monkey
    August 4, 2009

    That Slate article linked to in #29 is really extraordinary. In reviewing a PBS series on evolution, Mooney seems to take a dim view of accomodationism:

    But PBS’s mainstreaming of Darwinism also trims back some of the theory’s more controversial implications. Evolution flatly denies equal time to Darwin’s religiously based rivals, Creationism and intelligent design theory, yet the program repeatedly argues that evolution and religion are compatible. If you eat Darwin’s theory for your main course, Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould and others seem to say, you can have religion for dessert.

    Yet the fundamentalists seem to be exactly right about the religious implications of the study of evolution. Sure, Kenneth Miller can separate his scientific research and his religious beliefs. But few top scientists actually do so. In 1998 in the journal Nature, the historian Edward Larson and Washington Times religion writer Larry Witham reported the results of their survey of the religious views of National Academy of Sciences members. Nine out of 10 were atheists or agnostics, and among NAS biologists, just 5.6 percent believed in God, the lowest percentage for any scientific field. Larson and Witham quoted the Oxford scientist Peter Atkins: “You clearly can be a scientist and have religious beliefs. But I don’t think you can be a real scientist in the deepest sense of the word because they are such alien categories of knowledge.”

    In fact, he criticizes PBS for not giving equal time to the “non-accomodationist” views of athiests:

    Evolution’s attempt to divorce Darwinian science from atheism, though well intentioned, is finally naive. Darwinism presents an explanation for life’s origins that lacks any supernatural element and emphasizes a cruel and violent process of natural selection that is tough to square with the notion of a benevolent God. Because of this, many students who study evolution will find themselves questioning the religions they have grown up with. What’s insidious is that Evolution allows fundamentalists to say this, but not evolutionists. The miniseries interviews several experts who could be expected to oppose the reconciliation outlook, notably Daniel Dennett, author of Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, and the Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins, author of The Selfish Gene, who has written, “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.” But neither Dennett nor Dawkins gets much of a say on the topic of religion.

    He concludes by noting PBS’s selective quotation of Darwin to imply that Darwin was religious, ignoring some of Darwin’s explicit statements “because it puts Darwin far closer to Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins than rare theistic evolutionists like Kenneth Miller. The series strives to present a charming picture of a scientific theory that leaves religion relatively unchallenged, but Darwin’s life itself suggests otherwise.”

    Now, this was written in 2001, and I guess he would have been in his early 20s at the time. Guy’s entitled to change his mind. But he’s not only changed his mind, he’s now claiming that people who believed what he used to are actually hurting the cause of science literacy. Has 2009 Mooney ever apologized for the harm inflicted by 2001 Mooney?

  48. #48 Brian X
    August 4, 2009

    Ophelia:

    So far as I know, M&K are not a couple. As for women being “cock-whipped”, such a thing evidently does seem to happen (I seem to recall Ronnie Spector having said such a thing about her extremely fucked-up relationship with That Murdering Record Producer). I don’t think the actual term is used much, though, at least compared to the anatomically female version.

  49. #49 Optimus Primate
    August 4, 2009

    Great find, Screechy!

    Has Moonbat been confronted with this? I’m insanely curious about how he would respond? Would he admit to having changed his mind? Would he say he was wrong in the past, and defend his change of stance? Or would he try to retcon the shit out of his previous statements?

    I’m guessing the latter, but I’d love to be proven wrong.

  50. #50 Optimus Primate
    August 5, 2009

    I’ll take one of those question marks back. Sorry ’bout that.

  51. #51 Screechy Monkey
    August 5, 2009

    I didn’t find the article; H.H. linked to it in post #29. I just thought it was worth quoting at length.

    I don’t know if anyone’s asked him. You could post on The Intersection, but I doubt you’d get a response.

  52. #53 Sigmund
    August 5, 2009

    #52
    So he has read some more history and philosophy and decided he was mistaken in the past and is now focused on a more pragmatic approach?
    Can anyone point me to some serious historical or philosophical work that proves that the sort of theistic beliefs of Collins or Miller are compatible with the scientific method because I am currently at a loss to explain that one.
    Pragmatism I can understand but nobody is questioning him on that one.

  53. #54 Prometheus
    August 5, 2009

    Okay we have had more than a few statements that are insane in this thread and being slightly insane myself the “meh” reflex has been working overtime but it is starting to break.

    #29 H.H.

    Those two are an example of gruesome vanity symbioses. They spend half of their presentations talking about how awesome the other one is. Maybe the fact that she has some religion on her makes Mooney back peddle but I don’t think it has anything to do with gender, Jewish faith, sex, or anything other than a repugnant blood pact to both play Echo thinking nobody is going to catch on to the fact they are both Narcissus. It has worked a hell of a lot better than anything they could accomplish solo.

    Fat Narcissus: The autobiography of the worlds most dashing science journalist

    The Circumcised Nautilus: Anti-Semitism and sexual harassment anecdotes from a gorgeous marine biologist …..and kissing.

    #44 carlsonjok

    “Unlike other commenters, I believe most people are reasonable and are willing to hear a subject out.”

    The reason you differ on this point is because you are mistaken

    “So, understanding that it is a historical fact that science education has been done poorly in the past and that it is a similar truism that religion is a large part of peoples lives, you have to approach the subject carefully. Religion is familiar and science is foreign.”

    No. It is not true or a “historical fact” merely because you say it is without supporting non-anecdotal evidence. This is the M&K failing. You are implying in your post that we meet the magical thinkers on their turf. Science education is in the business of explaining how a cigarette lighter works, not flipping a Zippo in a cave and shouting “I am the God of Fire!” We are past that. The first step is thinking critically and empirically. If a person is unwilling to make that step, tricking or seducing them is not only unethical it is ludicrous. Religion is not familiar, it is easy. It is not science that people turn their backs on in favor of religion, it is the entire western intellectual tradition.

    Since Thales it has been unacceptable to make up magic answers when there is not a readily available explanation. This is not foreign, it merely requires the assumption of a responsibility the majority of humans have been shirking for 2,500 years because people are lazy and want to be immortal.

    “But good science education is a matter of policy. And policy-setting is a delicate matter and is better served by gentle, but persistent and non-compromising, advocacy that doesn’t tell people they are fools.”

    I prefer my policy settings on the no-bullshit wavelength. Listening to static makes me annoyed or sleepy. Try favoring policy with a good beat you can dance to.

    #52 Sigmund
    “Pragmatism I can understand but nobody is questioning him on that one.”

    Provided you define pragmatism as “tell people what they want to hear for money” I guess I don’t question him either.

  54. #55 Blake Stacey
    August 5, 2009

    Can anyone point me to some serious historical or philosophical work that proves that the sort of theistic beliefs of Collins or Miller are compatible with the scientific method because I am currently at a loss to explain that one.

    First, you say the words “philosophical versus methodological naturalism”. Then, you assert that there exist questions which are not of a moral or aesthetic nature but instead pertain to fact-like matters, and which are outside the realm of science. Next, you assert that religious beliefs are a or even the way of answering these questions. State calmly that unlike the beliefs of the rabid fundamentalists, yours have no quarrel with specific items of scientific fact. (Lying to make this point, or just being ignorant about vast swaths of science, is a convention of the genre.) At this point, someone will probably try to object, so you accuse them of “scientism”. They will give up all hope of having a reasonable discussion and leave, allowing you to declare victory.

  55. #56 eddie
    August 7, 2009

    What got me most of all was his criticism of a scientist saying anti-vaxxers are “scientifically illiterate” while writing a book claiming to address the problem of scientific illiteracy.
    Is muskin’s head so far up his own frame that he has a problem with using active rather than passive verb forms?