Gene Expression

Since I will use vulgar language, this post will be mostly below the fold.

This commenter asked me to justify a claim, to which I responded by calling him an asshole. The reason is simple, the question is a simple factual query which could have been answered by checking the source I cited. The reality is that adding links to my posts take time, but I do so on the theory that readers will take some time out of their day and follow the links to make sure they fulfill their obligation toward due diligence. Sure, I could have simply responded “check the link,” but I didn’t like the tone of the commenter.

The fact is that I could have cut & pasted the data into a table in HTML and what not so that it was out in front of everyone, but I didn’t. Why? That would have taken time, as it is, I trusted in readers to follow the links if there were issues they had questions about. If they didn’t follow the links I would expect at least that they would be polite and not assume a tone which seems to imply that they have a right to the “proof.” I don’t have patience with lazy readers, and the reason is that I’m a mortal, and every minute that passes is a minute closer to death. I don’t mind answering questions from civil readers, though I would prefer that they did some leg work first before issuing a query on a first order factual point. I’m a habitual user of google, wikipedia, google print and amazon’s “search inside” feature. I make a point to look up data. Unfortunately I don’t always link to things, sometimes I’m in a hurry. Usually if I don’t link to a supporting point, or make a reference, I’m pretty open to taking time out to answering questions. If the issue is more analytic and second or third order, that is, you couldn’t just “look it up,” I’m game for getting into it with readers. I don’t do this out of altruism, I do this for my own enjoyment.

The issue ultimately goes back to “why do I blog”? I don’t do it to be a political activist, I don’t care much about politics anymore. I don’t do it to foster a “community,” I’m a prig to a lot of my readers and I’m not interested in the personal details of the lives of my correspondents and commenters. I do it because blogging gets me into touch with people who can better help me in furthering my collection and analysis of data. That might sound robotic, but that’s just how I am. Some people want piles of money, some people want a harem, while others bask in the glory of fame, but I just want a big pile of well analyzed data before I pass into oblivion. The human mind being what it is many of my facts are transient and they disappear from my accessible memory, so I have to keep stuffing myself just to keep up, and the unfortunate truth is that the more data I absorb the more ignorant I feel. It’s a cycle. Nevertheless, there are many smart people out there, and they point me to books, critique my ideas and offer me new conceptual tools.

As I said, I am willing to be a normal human being and make issues known to others. Most of the posts on this weblog have been pretty simple, but the long term goal is to get in touch with others who are interested in the topics I’m interested in, and have us read the same papers and same books so we can engage each other. People like Matt McIntosh or Agnostic are picking up books on evolutionary genetics, and soon enough they’ll be where I am. This isn’t because I want to “convert” them for their own good, I don’t care about that, but I want their input, as they might see what I miss. I know very well that the goal of my life, to know as much possible, will be furthered by getting in touch with others with concurrent goals.

This means that I’m not that interested in this forum in “convincing” anyone of my viewpoint. For example, some idiot posted some stuff about ancient Egyptians being black. I could have taken 10 minutes in PUBMED to find the relevant archeogenetic papers to refute this, but what would that get me? I don’t care what the loon thinks, and I doubt he really cares about papers. I just told him he was dumb, and hope he’s offended enough never to come back again.

There are other tacks I take. I regularly delete all comments from Creationists and Intelligent Design people. The reason I am proactive here is that it seems flies swarm to shit, and so I don’t want to seem like I tolerate that crap. I’m totally uninterested in that material on a substantive (as opposed to sociological) level, and it just wastes my finite time.

Now, I don’t read many other weblogs, but when I do participate in the comment threads I often understand why I don’t, I just don’t get why people say/do the things they do. Once I was on Matt Yglesias’ blog talking about evolutionary biology and group selection and making a reference to “DS Wilson,” and another commenter, who thought he was the shit reminded me, “By the way, that’s not E.O. Wilson, that’s David Sloan Wilson.” I was like, “No shit sherlock, ain’t you smart? I figured that using the initials DS could clue you into the fact that I know the difference between two people with different first names?!?!” Another time I was on Winds of Change and I pointed out some inaccuracies on the part of one poster (on a comment thread) in regards to slavery and Christianity, and off he topic he stated, “Antony Flew now believes in God” (he knew I was an atheist). That was my last comment on that thread, and I don’t really comment on that weblog partly because of children like that (the idiot was Glenn Wishard).

The key here is “why do you speak?” Do you speak because you want to win an argument? You want to seem smarter than someone? Want to “catch” someone? Well, homey don’t play game. There’s plenty of places to behave like a child. Life is short, we’re all going to die, and I don’t believe in an eternal afterlife to contemplate God’s Creation. I’m trying to take it all in now, bitch! To people like Rob Skipper, Greg Cochran, John Hawks, Matt, Mike Mckeown, Agnostic, the David Bs, John Wilkins, the long time non-bestial readers of my other weblog etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. (and so many more offline), a big thanks. Not that you should care that you’re making my life sweeter before I die, I’m thinking about what you can do for me. In the process if I can do something for you, all for the better, I’m human enough to have some tinkling of empathy and vicarious pleasure.

Note: I spent 30 fucking minutes on this non-post! My life = Now – 30 minutes!!!

* I don’t mean retard in the Down Syndrome sort of way, I mean retard in the way you act and how you like to waste other people’s lives.


  1. #1 Paul Riddell
    April 20, 2006

    Nothing but sympathies, my friend: I had no choice but to do the same thing over at my blog, solely because these people aren’t wanting a discussion. They’re wanting to start a fight without actually getting stomped, and they won’t be happy until they can get the rest of the Kallikak clan to the monitor to show them “Lookee what I did!” (Back when I was still wasting time writing for science fiction magazines, I’d get a lot of that sort of pedantic, humorless-while-pretending-to-be-funny commentary from Cat Piss Men who thought they were special because they could flog the cliched deceased equine: that’s when I realized that wit is the sniper rifle of humor because none of these twits even heard the round that got ’em.)

  2. #2 bigdumbchimp
    April 20, 2006

    That was a grade A blue ribbon rant of the highest order.

    I for one loved it.

  3. #3 Matt McIntosh
    April 20, 2006

    I appreciate it, Razib, and it’s mutual. FWIW, you’ve probably done more for me than I have for you. I’ve not been particularly active at GNXP mainly because I feel underqualified, but that’ll hopefully change after I’ve worked my way through the texts I’ve gathered for self-education this summer. (BTW, I picked up the 2000 ed. of the Phil Hedrick text; couldn’t find Hartl & Clark for cheap.)

    Anyway I know how you feel. I’ve been reading and commenting on a lot of political blogs for a good three years now, but I’m slowly getting tired of the constant pissing matches and want to move on to something with a lower percentage of bullshit. Life is too short and there’s just so much out there.

    I also fully endorse your method of dealing with BS artists in the comment sections: let the discussion range far and wide, but come down hard on anyone who’s a net negative on the quality of discussion. That’s the same style I used back in my days of modding video game forums, complete with the public beheadings and everything. 🙂 It’s not pleasent, but there’s much to be said for the the effect of occaisionally making a memorable example of someone.

  4. #4 John Wilkins
    April 21, 2006

    It was 30 minutes well spent. You complimented me…

  5. #5 Orac
    April 21, 2006

    Heh. Sounds like Fore Sam and J. B. Handley.

  6. #6 bwilliamsdc
    April 21, 2006

    I love this post. I sent it to a friend under the title Science + Rage and they responded “Did you write that? Because it definitely sounds like something you would write.”

    Thanks for making the last few minutes of my life entertaining.

  7. #7 Agnostic
    April 21, 2006

    Yikes, thank god my blog isn’t that high-profile… it’s just vulnerable to spambots. :p

    But if you truly want the most understanding possible — be prepared to live out of a suitcase while being hosted by people w/ money, like Erdos.

  8. #8 razib
    April 21, 2006

    be prepared to live out of a suitcase while being hosted by people w/ money, like Erdos.

    alas, i have more constraints than he…i like the ladies 🙂

  9. #9 matoko_bgrrl
    April 21, 2006

    You make life sweeter for the rest of us.
    You are one of the very rare people in this universe that is capable of genuine guerrilla thought.
    May your ghost never diminish. 😉

  10. #10 Robert Skipper
    April 21, 2006

    We blog for precisely the same reasons. Blog on!

  11. #11 RPM
    April 21, 2006

    Does this make you a self absorbed blogger?

  12. #12 razib
    April 21, 2006

    i’m a self-absorbed person, so yeah, prolly. (i like to think i’m honest about my motives)

  13. #13 Karl
    April 21, 2006

    Life is short, we’re all going to die, and I don’t believe in an eternal afterlife to contemplate God’s Creation. I’m trying to take it all in now, bitch!

    My sentiments exactly.

  14. #14 pconroy
    April 21, 2006

    As a semi-bestial reader, who finds it difficult to make time to read all the books you recommend, and mostly just has time to Google a few points here and there, and hopefully add a little to any ongoing discussion, I have to ask, where do you ultimately see this ending…

    In the future, as we approach the Singularity, when you have amassed copious data, do you see it merged with your existing brain’s data on memories, ideas etc., and all uploaded into the post-human Razib – Razib.v2 – to be mulled on for eternity?

  15. #15 Matt McIntosh
    April 21, 2006

    The comment I left last night seems to have been held hostage by the blog software. Let’s try this again.

    I appreciate it Razib, and it’s mutual. You’ve probably done more for me than I have for you, but hopefully once I get myself up to speed I’ll start paying it back a little. 🙂 (I bought the Phil Hedrick text last night, so that plus the others I already have will keep me busy for the next four months.)

    I too am losing my appetite for the sorts of p*ssing matches that characterize so much discussion on the net; life really is too short, you’re right. Ironically enough, Randy Barnett just put up a post that references John Suler, who is doing work on the psychology of cyberspace. I think a large part of why people become retards over the internet is that it lacks the constant feedback that realtime f2f has. People’s quirks tend to be amplified rather than inhibited.

  16. #16 Boknekht
    April 21, 2006

    I think of Razib as some kind of Superman. He’s *constantly* updating his blog with highly insightful posts, often heavy on data, links, & swiftly responds to his commenters’ opinions, yet also has the time for a personal life. I also suspect that he’s a super-fast reader who can read tons of books in the time it would take me to read(& understand) one(or less).

    I, like Razib, want to know all i can possibly know about everything that interests me before i die. Yet, unlike Razib, it’s much more frustrating for me to achieve this. I just don’t have enough “g”, time or motivation to sit trying to absorb the endless complexity of interrelated ideas. For example, if i go to wikipedia & attempt to get a truly thorough understanding of Economics & Finance, it’s becomes clear that that’s impossible, at least for me to achieve.
    For me the frustration = time spent on reading long articles & their sub-sections+trying to understand & fully comprehend all i read+realizing that to really understand one topic, you must also understand countless unfamiliar terms(hyperlinks & their hyperlinks & so on) & other topics, which are also long articles, with their own subtopics & hyperlinks etc. Seemingly countless hyperlinks linking to exponentially more hyperlinks. Just one topic has subtopic after countless subtopic. Very discouraging for me.

    Attaining knowledge is getting to be like dealing with the U.S. Federal tax code, i.e., unending complexity. I wonder if there’ll ever be a time when the amount of information & knowledge about topics & sub topics+their subtopics compounds to such an enormous extent that not even the brightest will specialize in more than the very tiniest fraction of material. Or maybe all this is just that i’ve got low “g”?

  17. #17 peter shone
    August 28, 2006

    dear razib
    A lot of people want to make a point without having to justify it.
    The only people they are likely to be face to face with are those who get their opinions from the same tabloid journal.
    Don’t let them get you down.

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