Technically, Nisbet did not say that. He simply showed a picture of PZ Myers … a rather funny picture of PZ that is not what I would call a glamor shot … and made the statement paraphrased as the title of this post in reference to all atheists who have strong views and who are, well, not appeasers of religion.

I’ve been getting private emails from friends and colleagues asking me if I can talk to Nisbet .. and convey a message to him (I won’t repeat the messages here). What I want you to understand is that just because I am a Sbling, etc., does not mean that I’m in touch with the guy. I don’t know him though of course I did a thing with him once, and have certainly debated him on the internet.

In his blog post, Nisbet drones on about how we must work together with the religious. He points out that various catholic writers are mad at PZ for dissing their religion, and in essence, suggests an alternative strategy … of appeasing religious groups and individuals.

Note that the Catholic Register, cited by Nisbet, used the photograph of PZ myers that is used as the head shot on his web site, which was probably the polite thing to do. But Nisbet used this absurd photograph taken from some collection of party shots …. one of many showing PZ in a more relaxed mode than I’ve ever seen, or imagined, Nisbet in.

Let me tell you some truths that Nisbet avoids. About PZ Myers.

First, PZ Myers is explicitly tolerant of religion and religious groups and organizations. He is opposed to state funding of religion, and all that, but he has always supported freedom of expression and worship. His personal opinion, which I don’t need to relay (PZ is quite capable of doing this) is very anti religion, and it is an opinion that he articulates very effectively. Nisbet and the Catholics are telling us that PZ needs to step aside and keep his mouth shut. PZ is not telling them to do the same. There is a marked imbalance of terms of tolerance and acceptance here.

Another thing about PZ that I’d like to note, that I’ve noticed in his writing and speaking but that is probably often missed]: PZ is very willing to leave things open and unexplained when describing and evaluating, and sometimes critiquing, human behavior and the decisions humans make. Humans are conflicted, complex individuals who often strongly feel one way about an issue but hold contradictory beliefs when queried in a different context. Life is complex, and people are complex.

I mention this because it seems to be part of PZ Myers philosophy of critical tolerance. It is this part of his approach that allows vehemence and compassion about the same issues and the same people. It is a higher level of thinking about the world, about society, and about the groups and people that make up society, than we see in Nisbet’s conceptualizing of atheism (or anything else he writes as far as I can see).

What is Matt up to with this post? Well, PZ has gone out of the country for a couple/few weeks. Perhaps Matt feels safe dipping into this issue right now, in this way. Or, perhaps his hit numbers are low and he’s trolling for readers. Well, good luck to him on that. Go ahead and have a look, make a comment, join the party. Nisbet’s post is here.

What I want to know is this: Where is the writing about angry, grumpy, self-serving nasty Christians and the crap that they lay on their followers and everyone else, calling these extremist spokespeople of “the Christian way” on their lies and their damaging speech? Nisbet needs to address that part of religion before anyone can take him seriously, before he can be thought of as anything other than an appeaser. In the mean time, I think I’ll keep Pharyngula in my news reader.

UPDATE … TUIBG tackles Nisbet: Someone is Wrong on the Internet … Afarensis chimes in: Framing Science Embraces the Willie Horton Strategy … Synapostasy identifies Image and Personality Problems

… and …
Love And Anger

Matt Nisbet is a funny man

Matt Nisbet is cranially-rectally inverted on this one
Oh, the Drama.
Nisbet Attacks PZ Myers (again)

Comments

  1. #1 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    August 9, 2008

    I’m with you, Greg, and with PZ and all of the “militant atheists,” as well as with DJ Grothe (he is on my friends list at facebook.) I stand by what I wrote to you in e-mail, I just wasn’t sure if there had been any discussion on any back channels at ScienceBlogs.

  2. #2 negentropyeater
    August 9, 2008

    I’m sending a complaint to Seed.
    He’s deleted 2 out of 3 posts I tried, and I don’t know why ? And it took him 12 hours to approve one.

    Also, both you and Danio at Pharyngula have posted a link to his post. So aren’t you both increasing his Wikio ranking so that he can continue to boast about being one of the top influential blogs for his posts that he makes that are particularly damning of PZ.

    I’d really like to know how much of his #15 ranking he boasted about on July 3 is from links from the top scienceblogs who linked to his posts from negative reactions of his little bickering fight with PZ ? I really would like to know how much he’d be without this ? Would he be in the top 100 ?

    That’s certainly not a comment he accepted anyway on his blog, that would have made him honest.

  3. #3 decrepitoldfool
    August 9, 2008

    I left a comment there which seems not to have made it through moderation. Alas I forgot to copy the text but in summary I speculated if Matt as a child was in the habit of repeatedly touching the hot stove until his mother had to tie him in a chair for his own protection.

  4. #4 PhysioProf
    August 9, 2008

    I mention this because it seems to be part of PZ Myers philosophy of critical tolerance. It is this part of his approach that allows vehemence and compassion about the same issues and the same people.

    Dude, are you out of your mind? It is absolutely impossible that anyone could ever strongly criticize anything, while also having strong feelings of care and compassion for that thing. It’s impossible, I tell you! Anyone who criticizes anything must HATE that thing! It’s true!

  5. #5 greg laden
    August 9, 2008

    negentropyeater: I don’t link to the discovery institutes site and I don’t link to white supremacist and certain other sites. But of course it is simple courtesy to link to Matt since I am referring to his site.

    There are ways to affect one’s ranking that are not about how much people like you. Can’t do much about that.

  6. #6 Matt Penfold
    August 9, 2008

    It is very telling that the only public comments Nisbet has made on the whole “crackergate” affair condemn PZ for his actions but do not mention Webster Cook and the appalling way he, and his friend, were treated.

    If Cook’s being assaulted by an official of the Catholic Church, being labelled as committing a hate crime by the same Church, the attempts to have him removed from his Student Government post and expelled from University, not to mention the death threats, do not make a person angry then that person has no social conscience, and is simply a moral coward. If we do not take a stand when things like this happen, then they will continue to happen. And those who stand back and do nothing will be guilty of helping it happen.

  7. #7 Mark F.
    August 9, 2008

    My first thought when I read Nisbet’s latest about PZ was- “He waited until PZ left the country to comment on the story?” A bit cowardly in my opinion. Second, he cites the Catholic Review article? I read that one and it left out A LOT of the whole story (in fact any part of the story that put the Catholic church in a bad light- not surprising there). My final thought on Nisbet’s post was- wow, he really IS an apologist for the religious, and afraid to take ANY position that might tick them off.

  8. #8 Physicalist
    August 9, 2008

    What Nisbet’s really upset about is the hair.

  9. #9 Matt Penfold
    August 9, 2008

    I cannot recall where I read it, but it was either here on ScienceBlogs, or maybe at Sandwalk. It was a comment in reply to a blog entry in which the comment author said Nisbet was doing everything he could to win the Templeton prize.

    I thought it apposite at the time. I think even more so now.

  10. #10 Blake Stacey
    August 9, 2008

    Training to be a “communications expert” must include lessons on how to sleep at night after being a manipulative spin-doctor.

  11. #11 Hank
    August 9, 2008

    Blake Stacey: That’s easy, you just need to use an internal frame to communicate what you’re doing to yourself.

  12. #12 Todd
    August 9, 2008

    Nisbet’s problem is that he believes PZ’s goals match his.

  13. #13 Matt Nisbet
    August 9, 2008

    Hi guys,
    Sorry to say, but I don’t follow or track PZ’s vacation or travel schedule. And it appears that PZ has already logged in and responded from wherever he might be.

    Second, it takes me a while to wind through and read the comments held for moderation. A bunch (20+) were posted this morning and I will probably have more up tonight or Monday when I get back to the cache.

    –Matt

  14. #14 V Profane
    August 9, 2008

    Matt, are you ever going to address the points raised against you in any meaningful fashion?

  15. #15 Stephanie Z
    August 9, 2008

    My personal theory is that this is all a fiendishly clever plan on Nisbet’s part to capitalize on his unpopularity. He’s realized the Christians aren’t reaching out to embrace him and that he’s burned most of his bridges with the atheists. But in a last heroic effort to contribute to the cause, he’s attacked PZ in the most transparent, inept manner possible. Why? Because a few atheists were squicked out over the cracker, and Nisbet knows this is the fastest way to get them to cleave to PZ again.

    Keep up the good work, Matt!

    Of course, this doesn’t explain why he chose to repeat the irreverence = hate trope. I left a comment yesterday to ask why, as a communicator who should know that repetition adds weight for a lot of people, he would do this. It wasn’t among the comments he let through. Not that he’s answering questions anyway.

    All part of the plan.

  16. #16 RBH
    August 9, 2008

    Nisbet wrote

    A bunch (20+) were posted this morning and I will probably have more up tonight or Monday when I get back to the cache.

    Uh huh. Twenty-two comments that were submitted after mine made it through OK, but somehow mine didn’t. So I guess I’ll mirror it here:

    Nisbet should visit my local school district where the fundamentalists have been trying to jam creationism into the public schools and who are running political interference for a science teacher who for years has been operating what amounts to a fundamentalist Christian private school embedded in the public school system. Without benefit of appearances by PZ Myers or Richard Dawkins, the “atheist” epithet is tossed around as an insult, stuffed in the face not only of the few genuine atheists here but also of the moderate Christians who oppose the fundamentalists’ efforts.

    Nisbet lives in an academic fantasy world. He apparently believes that this is some sort of rational discussion with people who are susceptible to reason, and that calm discourse with fundamentalist loons is an effective strategy. Well, come on down here, bunky, and reason rationally with the Christian Dominionists who are infecting my school district.

    I note with interest and not a little disdain that Nisbet was pusillanimous enough to post this on the day when, as was publicly announced on Pharyngula, PZ left the country for a trip to the Galapagos and will have spotty web access. That’s just plain chickenshit, Nisbet.

    I also call attention to Afarensis’ remarks on Nisbet’s post. His invocation of the “Willy Horton” tactic is exactly on point here. If what Nisbet has posted above is an appropriate application of “framing” then I want nothing to do with it.

    Richard B. Hoppe, Ph.D.

  17. #17 eddie
    August 9, 2008

    from negentropyeater;

    I’m sending a complaint to Seed.
    He’s deleted 2 out of 3 posts I tried, and I don’t know why ? And it took him 12 hours to approve one.

    There must be a whole load of comments squelched like that. And mine wasn’t even that bad, just strongly worded. Was I too rude in saying;

    Matt quoted the CR article;

    “hate,” “contempt,” “dogmatism,” “a junior high level understanding of religion,” “irate,” “incredulous,” “bigoted”…the list goes on.

    projection, much!

    You just keep on lying about us and we’ll keep on telling the truth about you.

  18. #18 Lou FCD
    August 9, 2008

    Nisbet:

    Why the need to censor comments in the first place? How very communicative of you.

    The way you cry about atheist meanies and then censor comments that disagree with you reminds me of someone. I won’t mention her name, but her initials are Ftk.

  19. #19 Lou FCD
    August 9, 2008

    Y’know, the more this comes up, the more pissed off I get at the whole framing bunch.

    I’m about sick of of the rank hypocrisy of their attitude of “Shut up and get back in the closet because you’re not tolerant like us!!!one11elevnty!1!”

    Here’s my final (for the moment) two cents:

    Fuck off.

  20. #20 Aerik
    August 9, 2008

    My jovial quip (made famous by Mooney himself) about Mooney and Nisbet being closet creationists just gains more efficacy every week, doesn’t it?

  21. #21 eddie
    August 9, 2008

    I’m just back from reading the Afarensis post.

    Up to now I didn’t know what ‘framing’ meant but, on thinking about it, I’m reminded of a book I once read about power and sex in british politics. Can’t remember the title but it was by one of the authors surname Self.

    The author used the method of psychoanalysis to critique various figures in public life and from history. He took margaret thatcher (spit) to task and I found myself agreeing with what was said. Then he used the same technique on leaonardo da vinci and I thought this criticism stemmed from the author’s homophobia.

    I realised that the technique itself is flawed and amounts to character assassination. Now I see framing is just another word for that.

  22. #22 Aaron Golas
    August 9, 2008

    Count me among those who commented yesterday and never got out of moderation. Oh well, at least I got a blog post out of it…

    What makes me angriest is, Nisbet clearly has no real desire to help us solve the atheist image problem, because he’s feeding right into it himself. Take that first line of his: “I’m an atheist… but a friendly atheist.” Way to throw the rest of us under the bus. How is that different from saying, “I’m a Jew, but not a greedy Jew”? It sets himself up as an exception to the stigma, rather than a counterexample. If he’s really on our side, then I expect better from a purported communication expert.

  23. #23 Blake Stacey
    August 9, 2008

    Greg Laden:

    There are ways to affect one’s ranking that are not about how much people like you. Can’t do much about that.

    Well, there’s the rel=”nofollow”, for however much that’s worth. Think of it as a symbolic protest, if nothing else.

  24. #24 PZ Myers
    August 9, 2008

    Don’t complain to Seed. Don’t lobby to throw Nisbet off, or anything ridiculous like that. It’s a blog. All you have to do is not read it if you don’t like it.

  25. #25 greg laden
    August 9, 2008

    He, PZ, how are the Iguanas?

    Right, I am sure that Matt is not moderating anyone … it may take some time for comments to appear given our slightly funky commenting system. If you write a letter to Scienceblogs, please just ask for a new server, or new software, or whatever it is we actually need.

  26. #26 Stephanie Z
    August 9, 2008

    Greg, while I agree that there are much better things to ask Seed for, it’s been more than 24 hours since I added my comment to the queue. Unless he’s really releasing them out of order, I’ve been censored. So have others. And I was much nicer in that comment than I was here.

  27. #27 Blake Stacey
    August 9, 2008

    Ask them to upgrade to Movable Type 4. It can support a LaTeX plugin for rendering actual equations!

  28. #28 PZ Myers
    August 9, 2008

    I haven’t gotten to the iguanas yet! We fly out of Quito early tomorrow morning to the Galapagos — then I need to hunt down some exotic animals with my camera.

  29. #29 greg laden
    August 9, 2008

    PZ: Remember Julia’s advice … you won’t be needing the binoculars.

    Also, I’m hoping you’ll repeat Darwin’s experiment with the iguanas (where he keeps throwing the same animal back into the ocean over and over again…)

    As for Framing Science’s moderation policy: I have to say, I may disagree with Matt on this issue and think he is being a total dork, he can moderate and delete whatever he wants.

    Oh, and by the way, you’re all gonna love tomorrow’s “This Picture Needs a Caption” post! Stay tuned…..

  30. #30 llewelly
    August 10, 2008

    eddie:

    I realised that the technique itself is flawed and amounts to character assassination. Now I see framing is just another word for that.

    No. ‘framing’ is a much more general technique. It is not character assassination, or spin (although it can be used to enhance the effectiveness of either.) It is connecting a subject with a stereotype and a context. Nisbet, unfortunately, has chosen to use framing as a character assassination technique, but that is not its only use. In fact – Nisbet’s articles on PZ have left me thinking that Nisbet is either bad at framing, or framing is not particularly well-suited to character assassination, or Nisbet is bad at character assassination. (The fact that Nisbet’s remarkably ugly (even for PZ) picture of PZ is holding a terrifying and threatening toy panda is evidence of the last.)
    Finally – those of you who have waited 12 or more hours for your posts to appear – please understand that not everyone can afford to check a blog more often than every 12 hours, and while a 12 hour wait may be frustrating, it is not necessarily a disaster. (From about 1995 to about 2004 I was a regular on a moderated usenet group where 8-12 hour delay in posts was normal. The group remained active and interesting the whole time, (and it is still that way today, I’ve just moved on to other things).)

  31. #31 Zeno
    August 10, 2008

    I posted a comment on Nisbet’s board that has yet to see the light of day. Perhaps it will show up later, or perhaps he didn’t like my suggestion that it was uncool to go sniping at PZ the moment he leaves the country. Nisbet is welcome to disagree with anyone or anything, of course, but he sure doesn’t know how to do it in a classy way.

  32. #32 Stephanie Z
    August 10, 2008

    Well, of course he can moderate however he chooses, but that only works in spaces he controls. Outside those, the practices will be noted and will get him mocked and analyzed and treated in much less respectful ways than would conversation on his blog. As I said upthread, if he’s trying to make PZ look better (not that I think PZ needs it) Nesbit is doing a hell of a job.

  33. #33 Stephanie Z
    August 10, 2008

    Gah. The misspelling of his name was totally unintentional. This time.

  34. #34 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    August 10, 2008

    Don’t worry Stephanie, I used to do that all the time.

    I can’t say that Matt is all bad, but he gets on this kick and I can’t stand him all over again. It almost seems like he wants to be the lapdog of the Christians who are easily offended, right?

  35. #35 tguy
    August 10, 2008

    You can always do like I do: call him Michael Nesmith and be done with it. Both matter to me about equally.

  36. #36 eddie
    August 10, 2008

    Thanks for that, Llewelly.

    How about some of those who put nice, supportive comments up? Were they delayed? Or even those in the agin-but-’moderate’ camp?

    Do we got stats on this?

  37. #37 greg laden
    August 10, 2008

    Well, of course he can moderate however he chooses, but that only works in spaces he controls. Outside those, the practices will be noted and will get him mocked and analyzed and treated in much less respectful ways than would conversation on his blog.

    Absolutely. It pays to think though one’s communicative interface with the outside world.

  38. #38 Stephanie Z
    August 10, 2008

    Eddie, several people posted their comments in the thread on Pharyngula, since Nisbet is known for his immoderate moderation. You can see there what made the cut and what didn’t, although llewelly’s caution about how much time it can take to get comments up is highly applicable here.

    Mike and tguy, I don’t like unintentional misspellings. I’m perfectly happy to refer to him as Nitwit when the situation calls for it. Never Nesmith, though. Nesmith, whether you like him or not, is a competent musician. Just not an appropriate parallel.

  39. #39 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    August 10, 2008

    I didn’t mean that I do it intentionally, but I have a tendency to fix a misspelling in my mind and can’t shake it. I’m just bad at names most of the time.

  40. #40 Ophelia Benson
    August 10, 2008

    “I’m with you, Greg, and with PZ and all of the “militant atheists,” as well as with DJ Grothe (he is on my friends list at facebook.)”

    Mine too. I’ve even met DJ in real life (he interviewed me for Point of Inquiry last year) and he’s a swell guy. It’s funny (in a pathetic way) that Nesbit thinks he’s the nice guy type when he does this kind of thing – over and over again. He thinks he’s ‘a friendly atheist’ and I think he’s exceptionally nasty and underhanded and unpleasant. Odd, that.

    I made two comments yesterday, and mine too did not make the cut. What do you know. Sure, Nisbet can moderate comments any way he likes, but it’s pretty contemptible to throw a lot of mud around and then prevent a slew of people from responding. Goes right along with doing the mud-throw after PZ goes on a voyage. ‘Friendly’ my ass.

  41. #41 Pierce R. Butler
    August 10, 2008

    Aaron G: Since your blog apparently allows comments only by those registered with Blogger or kindred services, a requirement which gripes my ass (yeah, I’m sure it’s not by your choice), I’ll take the liberty of saying here what I wanted to say there:

    The only other notable thing about the photo is that PZ is wearing his Scarlet A t-shirt.

    Eh? He’s sharing a moment of privileged colloquy with Prof. Steve Steve, internationally renowned scholar and bon vivant, and you focus on a t-shirt?!?

  42. #42 Aaron Golas
    August 11, 2008

    Pierce: Sorry about that, I thought the comments were open, but they must have switched back somehow? Anyway, they’re open now. Thanks for pointing that out.

    And you’ll note I said the only other notable thing. PZ had already spoken for Herr Professor; I didn’t want him dragged into this any more than he already had been.

  43. #43 AK47
    August 11, 2008

    I attempted to post the remark below on Nisbet’s blog at about 11PM Pacific time. It still hasn’t made it there. (I did use a fake email. I didn’t see why I should have to give him my email address just to leave a comment.)

    I admit that he has posted several negative comments. But the fact that several other comments (that were not spam or profanity-laced tirades) don’t get posted further lowers my opinion of him.

    —-

    PZ is a self-proclaimed spokesperson for atheism? Could you please point out where he makes such a proclamation, or are you just being misleading on this point because deception is part of your framing strategy?

    I thought PZ was just a Professor with a popular blog. I thought that there could be a wide variety of atheist viewpoints and we didn’t all have to speak as a monolithic voice and have strategy meetings about talking points.

    This is just your latest whiny plea for PZ to shut up because you don’t like what he has to say. Instead of whining that he does atheists more harm than good, why don’t you go out and do more good so we can all emulate you.

    Stop focusing on the superficialities and talk about the substance. Make a convincing argument for why you think that the Catholic belief that a cracker turns into Jesus is something that PZ should take so seriously that he shouldn’t dare toss one into the garbage.

  44. #44 Ophelia Benson
    August 11, 2008

    Not only is he not friendly, he’s not even honest. That bullshit about being snowed under with posts and he’ll get to them later –

    “Second, it takes me a while to wind through and read the comments held for moderation. A bunch (20+) were posted this morning and I will probably have more up tonight or Monday when I get back to the cache.”

    Please. I posted my two on Saturday morning; he’s posted later ones but he still hasn’t posted mine or, apparently, those of several other people. Mine wasn’t spam or obscenity-laced, it was merely strongly critical. So – Nisbet feels free to single out PZ for yet another bizarre personal attack, but he won’t allow responses that are critical of him. My contempt for him deepens with every move he makes in this solipsistic game he’s playing.

  45. #45 PhysioProf
    August 11, 2008

    Nisbet is notorious for picking and choosing what comments he will post. I guess when you are “framing”, you can just make shit up, censor comments that make you look bad, and just generally throw intellectual honesty under the bus. Cause, you know, it’s “framing”!

  46. #46 Ophelia Benson
    August 11, 2008

    Yeah – he’s notorious for a lot of things. But it’s so odd that he keeps adding more mud to his own name. What can he possibly think he is making himself look like? A spiteful, belligerent, nasty-mouthed, self-flattering attack dog who won’t even let people disagree with his spiteful belligerent nasty-mouthed self-flattering attacks? This is ‘framing’?

    I know, it’s been pointed out many times how funny it is that he’s a framing expert and he’s so bad at it – but all the same.

  47. #47 Aaron Golas
    August 11, 2008

    What can he possibly think he is making himself look like? A spiteful, belligerent, nasty-mouthed, self-flattering attack dog who won’t even let people disagree with his spiteful belligerent nasty-mouthed self-flattering attacks?

    A lousy self-proclaimed spokesperson who does damage to our public image? Perhaps an angry, grumpy, uncharismatic male loner with a passion for attacking and ridiculing fellow bloggers?

  48. #48 negentropyeater
    August 11, 2008

    PZ,

    Don’t complain to Seed. Don’t lobby to throw Nisbet off, or anything ridiculous like that. It’s a blog. All you have to do is not read it if you don’t like it.

    1. Oh but don’t worry, I will complain. And I will complain only about one thing : the very peculiar type of CENSORSHIP that Mr Nisbett is practicing with the comments that are sent on his blog. He has a comment policy, he can moderate if he prefers and filter those comments that do not fit his comment policy, but that’s not what he is doing.
    For this I will include as evidence all the different posts that commenters have tried to send and that haven’t appeared and have posted on other Scienceblogs instead because they weren’t sure if they were going to appear, and believe me that’s a lot, it’s clear that he is picking and choosing, and this, from the point of view of those who use this service, the regular readers and commenters on Scienceblog, is very frustrating and downright unacceptable. We, the commenters and regular readers also do spend time and creative thought to compose our comments. When they don’t appear, and we don’t know why, what do you expect ?

    2. It’s not a question of lobbying to throw Nisbett off, or anything ridiculous like that, but it’s a matter of service. If I use a service, and it is broken, I complain to the service provider. That’s my only option. It may be a complete waste of time, but I think it is important that Mr Nisbett reacts and understands what is going on here.

    3. I cannot, not read him. if he makes a post like the one we are talking about, I will have to read him, and react.

    I actually do like Framing Science, I read it regularly, there are many very interesting posts there (apart from the ones where he is discussing “New Atheists”, where he is generally wrong, but that’s an opinion, and not what I’m complaining about) but the comment policy of its owner is what I’d like to complain about.

  49. #49 Greg Laden
    August 11, 2008

    negentropyeater: I totally get your frustration, but I for one, as an SB blogger, would be very unhappy if the editors or management leaned on Matt in any way regarding his comment policy. I’m not saying I like it, but I have to go along with total autonomy in this case.

    But yes, letting it be known that you don’t like it is great, here, via emails to Seed, wherever and however you like.

  50. #50 negentropyeater
    August 11, 2008

    Sorry for misspelling Mr Nisbet’s name.

  51. #51 negentropyeater
    August 11, 2008

    Greg,

    it’s almost as if he doesn’t seem to care at all about his readers and commenters.

    A blog ?

  52. #52 AK47
    August 12, 2008

    Despite the fact that my comment didn’t get posted, my only real objection is the deception. The only thing that seems to be mentioned on his blog about comments not getting posted is:

    “Comment Policy
    Keep it substantive, serious minded, on topic, and respectful.”

    If his real policy is that many comments meeting this “policy” don’t get through (whether he’s simply removing comments that he thinks have already been expressed, or whatever), I think this fact should be made clear and much more conspicuously displayed. Currently, one gets the incorrect impression that a free exchange of ideas is taking place. Had I known the truth, it’s less likely I would have bothered attempting to post.

  53. #53 Matt Springer
    August 12, 2008

    Oh but don’t worry, I will complain. And I will complain only about one thing : the very peculiar type of CENSORSHIP that Mr Nisbett is practicing with the comments that are sent on his blog. He has a comment policy, he can moderate if he prefers and filter those comments that do not fit his comment policy, but that’s not what he is doing.

    Feel free, but it’s unlikely you’ll accomplish anything. Seed gives us ScienceBloggers essentially full autonomy in how we deal with comments. While I personally feel that people should try to keep comments as open as possible, autonomy and the ability to keep comments sections up to par is very important. If a particular writer wishes to countermand his own written comment policy, I think that’s poor practice but nonetheless it’s his prerogative. Take Gene Expression‘s comment policy, for instance:

    “Comments that I feel do not edify this forum will be deleted without warning or explanation.”

  54. #54 negentropyeater
    August 12, 2008

    Matt,

    so if a blogger decided that he wanted to block all comments, or take the liberty to modify comments, that would also be ok with Seed ?
    I can live with Gene Exp.’s comment policy, and the way he implements it, there are no problems there, are his readers complaining ?

    But I really believe there needs to be a limit to dishonesty and censorship ; the 66 comments that currently appear at Framing Science on that particular post do not represent the reality of the reactions of the commenters, there are tens of comments that have been censored, for no apparent reason, as most of them are in line with his comment policy, there is a lot of evidence.

    Look it’s simple, how does a service provider know when something is going wrong with his service ? When people complain. If Seed wants to ignore that, fine, but I think a simple discussion with Matt Nisbet could clear things out and improve the service, unless he intends to stick with his current comment policy. But then, he should have at least the honesty to inform the reader of what it is upfront :

    “I will delay posting and pick and choose the comments that I prefer.”

  55. #55 Greg Laden
    August 12, 2008

    negentropyeater,

    Following up on Matt’s comment: What a blogger Sb can do depends on our somewhat primitive technology. So for instance, there are a couple of commenters that are always moderated on my site, but I can’t not moderate them. They are just always in the moderation cue and I always have to let them out.

    I think no science blogger would want the management of Sb to dictate comment policy. We have very few rules (maybe only one) that we ever hear about, and there are no comment management rules. This is how it should be.

    I do like Gene Expressions approach. If you are going to erase comments, that is the honest reason why one usually does it, and that is a well done statement.

  56. #56 negentropyeater
    August 12, 2008

    Greg,

    I’m not asking Seed to come up with some new policy, yet another useless policy.

    I’m just asking Seed and who other Sb bloggers might be interested to discuss this issue simply and openly with Matt Nisbett, and try to improve things.
    Many people are complaining about this point, I don’t believe in big “policies”, just when there’s a problem, solve it.

    If you, or Seed or Nisbet say, there’s no problem, then you guys are obviously not paying attention.

    This is a simple matter, gee I’ve managed a consumer service business much larger than this one, if we didn’t listen to our customers when they were complaining, that’s the most stupid mistake one can make.

  57. #57 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    August 12, 2008

    My comment still isn’t posted, so apparently it wasn’t respectful or substantive enough. Or maybe Matt is just sick of me. Like neg, I have posted positive comments and had them go through, and he has even put through negative comments of mine.

    The reason that I have my own blog is that I don’t have to moderate my own posts if I don’t like what I say.

  58. #58 Greg Laden
    August 12, 2008

    negentropyeater:

    I’m not saying there is no problem, but I am saying that we have an overriding policy that obviates a discussion. Our policy preserves independence among the SB bloggers to the same level that we would have if we were all blogging no on a Seed server but, say, on Blogspot or with our own servers. That is a fundamental thing that we can’t compromise.

    Yes, discussions happen. There is a discussion of how to deal with when something happens on someone’s blog you don’t like.

    For instance, I recently used the phrase “Michele, you ignorant slut” as the title of a post, as a reference to Weekend Update, and as an intentional insult to Michele Bachmann.

    A fellow SB blogger wrote me a polite email suggesting that this phrase might be considered inappropriate (he did not get the reference). As a result, I added to the bottom of the post a link to the Wikipedia piece on Weekend Update, so that people who did not get my reference could do so.

    The truth is that this SB blogger was not satisfied with the outcome, but he also acknowledged that he does not have to be satisfied. He just made the suggestion then dropped it, and in fact, he would have dropped it even if I had not even added the link to Wikipedia. Or, if he felt really strongly, he could write a blog post calling me out on this. Then we could have a big fight. But it would be no different than, say, TUIBG and me having a big fight in the blogosphere.

    In other words, among ourselves, it is OK to make a quiet comment in the backchannel or by email but it is NOT ok to pressure, or organize.

    Now, on the blogosphere, that is a different matter. I have created a forum here (this post, other posts) for people to complain about Framing Science. This is especially important for those who don’t have blogs. But I can’t engage in anything other than making a quiet suggestion to Matt than I can engage with a blogger who is NOT on scienceblogs. We are independent, and need to remain independent.

    I’m probably not explaining this well, but our independence is important … I am no more integrated or interactive with other SB bloggers than I am with any blogger that I happen to interact with, when it comes to this sort of thing.

    This does not stop some of my fellow SB bloggers from abusing the SB link, including the back channel, to carry out thought-police actions. Some do that, I slap them down, others slap them down, and eventually they shut up and learn. I myself do not want to be telling other SB bloggers what to do in any way other than how I might go about expressing my opinion about blogging (i.e., by blogging about it, generally).

  59. #59 Matti K.
    August 12, 2008

    Nisbet is a hypocrite^2. What else is new?

    It seems that PZ, along with many other Sciencebloggers, have written Nisbet off as a baby having regular tantrums. I don’t think there is any need for others to complain to the administration that Nisbet’s policy on his blog is not fair.

    For some reason a few bloggers still respect Nisbet so much that they are still willing to analyze his articles (see Greg’s links). However, with every new article on PZ Nisbet gets less and less reaction, although he uses more and more (hidden) personal insults. Is there anything more terrible that can happen to an attention whore?

    Of course, it may be that Nisbet just needs PZ as a statcow. After all, in the Wikio-world there is no such thing as negative publicity, is there?

  60. #60 negentropyeater
    August 12, 2008

    However, with every new article on PZ Nisbet gets less and less reaction

    Not really true :

    You can check the tab New Atheism and here are his biggest posts since the begining :

    8 Aug 08 66 comments (not yet finished)
    6 Apr 08 62
    6 Jan 08 48
    18Sep 07 52
    21Aug 07 52
    2 Aug 07 51
    17Jul 07 66
    28Jun 07 161

    (note that with his first post he wasn’t censoring posts, his last post 8 Aug 08 would have done well over 100 if he had the same policy)

    So people do seem still interested in reacting to his posts on this subject (basically mainly to tell him that they disagree and why), but now a NEW phenomena has appeared, which is that he is implementng a comment policy of delaying posts indefinitely and picking and choosing those that he likes best. And that is worth complaining about, if you’ve spent time and creative thought in composing a comment, and it never appears, and you don’t even know why, what do you expect ? Just sit there quietly and say nothing ?

  61. #61 eddie
    August 12, 2008

    While I agree that MN is not sticking to the moderation policy stated, I also agree with PZ that the best way to react to this is to no longer read his blog.
    If attention whoring is the problem, this is indeed the solution.

    While on the subject of boycotts, I should mention that as well as the olympics, I’m blanking GS(S,I) for her coverage of H P.

  62. #62 Matti K.
    August 13, 2008

    What comes to PZ and “angry atheists”, Nisbet (along with Mooney) is interested only in preaching, not discussions. He does not answer to relevant questions in the comments and his moderation policy ensures that even the commenters can not discuss together on his turf. The comments that he lets through are within the frame he carefully selects. If you send your comment there, you play his game.

    Nisbet’s blog is clearly not a place for serious discussion about atheism and atheists. Therefore I suggest that other bloggers classify their future articles linking to Nisbet’s (or Mooneys) rants on “angry atheists” as “humor”. After all, some of those rants are almost as ridiculous as those of creationists.