Respectful Insolence

I learned a new word today…gnoron

Often, my readers educated me. Sometimes, they even teach me a new word. So it was last night when, as I perused my comments, I came across this comment by Antaeus Feldspar:

A “gnoron” is like a moron, except that where a moron is lacking in intelligence (something they cannot help, of course) a gnoron is someone of decent intelligence whose own willful ignorance has brought them to an equivalent state of incompetence.

If there’s better term for people whom the arrogance of ignorance has rendered into the functional equivalent of a moron, I haven’t heard it. In fact, I think I might well start using it, linking back to this post to explain it. In the meantime, have fun in the comments by naming and describing people who qualify for and richly deserve this appellation.

Comments

  1. #1 reasonablehank
    January 23, 2011

    Meryl Dorey, for her incessant gnoronic statements which seem as though she is addicted to emetics.

    Her latest? Stating that a family court ordered vaccination is a court ordered “rape” with “full penetration”, then denying that she meant it sexually and blaming everyone else for their misunderstanding of her.

    http://skepticbros.com/2011/01/19/the-unrepentant-callousness-of-the-anti-vaxxer/

  2. #2 sharon
    January 23, 2011

    I second reasonablehank. Meryl wins hands down for the nonsense she is peddling over at AVN. It would almost be funny if the misinformation she peddles wasn’t so potentially harmful. Gnoron indeed.

  3. #3 NZ Sceptic
    January 23, 2011

    In keeping with the theme of my post on the Mothering thread I nominate ‘Dr’ Jay Gnoron!

  4. #4 Dr Zorro
    January 23, 2011

    I nominate John Benneth
    http://johnbenneth.wordpress.com/
    If you read this blog wear a motorcycle helmet for when you inevitably get the urge to bang your head against a wall.

  5. #5 Cerise
    January 23, 2011

    Meryl Dorey and her disciples. Having had the displeasure of meeting one online, she did seem intelligent if somewhat misguided until she spewed the line that sunscreen causes cancer. All bets were off after that.

  6. #6 Xplodyncow
    January 23, 2011

    How is it pronounced? Is the G silent? I hope not.

  7. #7 NewEnglandBob
    January 23, 2011

    I was going to say Sarah Palin, but she is mostly an uneducated moron with a big dose of gnoronicism.

    So I nominate Michelle Bachmann as queen of the gnorons.

  8. #8 Thoroughly disgusted mom
    January 23, 2011

    Oh there are just too many I want to nominate for this moniker GNORON….Let’s see, most of the Infectious Disease physicians who deny the chronicity of Borreliosis, and the complexity of tick borne illnesses in general. Let’s add to that many of the other physicians who spend 5 minutes with patients, thinking about where they want to have dinner later.

  9. #9 Den!s
    January 23, 2011

    ghilariousu :)

  10. #10 Childermass
    January 23, 2011

    Old and busted: Get a brain morons.
    New hotness: Use your brain gnorons.

  11. #11 Scottynuke
    January 23, 2011

    May I nominate Thoroughly disgusted mom @ #8 for Gnoronically Unaware Poster of the Month?

    Oh wait, let me first suggest Orac create a Gnoronically Unaware Poster of the Month award… :-)

  12. #12 Agent Smith
    January 23, 2011

    Dr. Jay wins this award.

  13. #13 Sauceress
    January 23, 2011

    I’m having trouble thinking of any anti-science moron possessing more than a skerrick of intelligence. I guess I’ll have to stick with Jay Gordon.

  14. #14 Antaeus Feldspar
    January 23, 2011

    As much as I hope that someday he may grow out of his gnoron-ness, I have to nominate Jake Crosby. This is someone who has openly admitted that no matter how thoroughly the evidence demolishes the “vaccines cause autism” theory, he will never stop believing it.

  15. #15 Jay Gordon
    January 23, 2011

    Thank you all for your attention. I will try to live up to your expectations.

    Best,

    Jay

  16. #16 J. J. Ramsey
    January 23, 2011

    Dr. Gordon, everyone, including your patients, would better off if you exceeded our expectations instead of meeting then. The ire you get comes from the fact that you lend credence to advice that can harm or kill people if followed.

  17. #17 Greg Fish
    January 23, 2011

    I’m not sure about “gnoron” myself. Maybe ignoron would be a little more precise?

  18. #18 qetzal
    January 23, 2011

    @NewEnglandBob (#7)

    I think Palin and Bachman are more like poser gnorons. They don’t actually know enough to be guilty of willful moronicness. They just see all their heroes being gnorons, so they try to act the same way. They want everyone to think that they, too, wallow in intentional ignorance. But in their case, it’s more congenital than intentional.

  19. #19 Bob
    January 23, 2011

    ORAC suggests naming and describing people who qualify for and richly deserve this appellation (GNORON) ???

    Has ORAC reduced the Scientific Method to name calling?

    I can only hope that ORAC returns to his senses and actually goes back to his roots uses his gift of critical thinking.

  20. #20 Yakivegas
    January 23, 2011

    A couple of weeks ago, I heard a radio talk show host use the term “Dumbgerous” to describe people that are so ignorant/stupid as to be dangerous.

  21. #21 Pareidolius
    January 23, 2011

    Dear Bob,
    Try not to be such a humor-impaired fucktard will you? The goddam blog is called Respectful Insolence for a reason. That is what is known as an ironic name. You are not only a possible gnoron, but may be irony-defficient as well.

  22. #22 Bob
    January 23, 2011

    Dear Pareidolius,

    I know what ORAC means when he says “the stupid, it burns”

  23. #23 The Christian Cynic
    January 23, 2011

    Bob:

    I know what ORAC means when he says “the stupid, it burns”

    I suspect this is true – perhaps you know better than most of us – but not in the way you think it is.

  24. #24 prn
    January 23, 2011

    Such a broad, dehumanized label sounds childish at best or thuggish, as well as ineffective, even if the label reflects some serious pent-up frustrations.

    Broad dismissal of opponents as gno-rons invites disaster down the road.

  25. #25 Emory Kimbrough
    January 23, 2011

    Related concept: Lamebeciles – People who will accept and repeat lame arguments for their pet causes even though they would otherwise be smart enough to see the flaws.

  26. #26 Bob
    January 23, 2011

    Am I alone in the land of Respectful Insolence?

    Does anyone see that name calling is exactly what “promotes the idea that “mainstream” science and medicine are uninformed, biased, and corrupt”?

    When you see a “scientist” resorting to rebuttal-by-name calling, you know that you’re not seeing “science”.

    The way real scientists deal with disagreement is not by name calling.

    I suspect that I actually know less than most of you, and I am disappointed that I am not learning more here.

  27. #27 Ben S
    January 23, 2011

    My first thought was that gnoron referred to people against free operating systems. -.-

  28. #28 Ben S
    January 23, 2011
  29. #29 Orac
    January 23, 2011

    suspect that I actually know less than most of you, and I am disappointed that I am not learning more here.

    My goodness, the tone and concern trolls have come out of the woodwork to clutch their pearls, haven’t they? They must be new here. Heck, I didn’t even use phrases like “The stupid, it burns,” “napalm-grade stupid,” or “neuron-apoptosing stupid” even once. Normally, I’d expect that I’d at least have to pepper a post with a few phrases like that to get this level of complaint. Oh, well, my readership must be getting more sensitive.

    Whatever the case, I will tell these new tone trolls what I tell everyone who complains about the “tone” here (that is, when I bother to tell them anything at all): If the “tone” here bothers you so much, no one is forcing you to subject your delicate eyes to what Orac lays down here. Some days, it’s pure, dispassionate science. Some days it’s not-so-Respectful Insolence. You can never predict which it will be on any given day.

  30. #30 Psychofant
    January 23, 2011

    “Has ORAC reduced the Scientific Method to name calling?

    I can only hope that ORAC returns to his senses and actually goes back to his roots uses his gift of critical thinking.”

    I don’t think so Bob. Ever since the PepsiScienceBlogs incident, the critical thinking has fallen to new lows, essentially nothing more than name-calling and raspberries to anyone who isn’t a ‘psychofant’. I can only guess that perhaps Pepsi has had more influence than first thought.

  31. #31 prn
    January 23, 2011

    Actually “the stupid, it burns” would be a reasonably cute response to a series of bald assertions that are simply, factually wrong. Its use is less effective and more risky to project any opinions in a controversy, when someone knowledgeable can dissect it for errors and bias, now or later.

    Jingoistic name calling is simply counterproductive to any pretense of civil, rational discourse. Typically feels good within a herd mentality at the time, but may sound unbalanced or defensive to passersby and may poorly.

  32. #32 sharon
    January 23, 2011

    prn, your claims above are hyperbolic balderdash. You seem to be suggesting that the views of ‘opponents’ are entitled to as much consideration as others. The problem with that argument is that most people can only listen to so much repetitive stupid before taking the piss becomes the natural response. If people want to engage in thoughtful discourse then by all means do it, but the mantra like claims, and circular arguing by many do not deserve a thoughful reply.

  33. #33 Sauceress
    January 23, 2011

    Poor Bob. Sounds like he’s suffering a terminal case of Humour Deficit Disorder. Day to day life must be ever so grueling and grim for you Bob.
    You have my utmost sympathy.

  34. #34 Narad, the Man of Iron
    January 23, 2011

    “Jingoistic”?

  35. #35 Christopher Wing
    January 23, 2011

    I always liked “stupeptitude.” I would think that Palin and Bachmann fall into that category, as they’ve both been shown to have the 2 qualities that make up the word.

    My vote for gnoron would have to be Oprah, as she seems not only to be one but to create them.

  36. #36 Sauceress
    January 23, 2011

    #34 Narad, the Man of Iron

    “Jingoistic”?

    prn wins one Ignoron!

  37. #37 Dangerous Bacon
    January 23, 2011

    There are also Borons, who are so boring that their moronity isn’t even entertaining.

    Bob: “Does anyone see that name calling is exactly what “promotes the idea that “mainstream” science and medicine are uninformed, biased, and corrupt””?

    Nah. What promotes that are the gnorons who yammer on about how proponents of “mainstream” science and medicine are just a bunch of Pharma shills.

    “I suspect that I actually know less than most of you, and I am disappointed that I am not learning more here.”

    I suspect your suspicions are correct. The way to remedy that is to nurture your brain on the valuable information and sciency goodness to be found herein, and stop concentrating obsessively on tone.

  38. #38 JohnV
    January 23, 2011

    How about internidiots? Definition would be people who might very well be normal offline, but once online are immensely stupid.

    Examples from this post include: bob, prn and psycofant.

    I’ll be generous and give Dr. Gordon a pass this time.

  39. #39 Rene F. Najera, MT, MPH
    January 23, 2011

    What? No bunch of letters after Dr. Gordon’s name to show us how much he knows?

    (See what I did there?)

  40. #40 Skeptiverse
    January 23, 2011

    @JohnV But only because your qualifier is people who are only stupid online, and not just stupid all the time.

  41. #41 Treppenwitz
    January 23, 2011

    I hope the gn- is pronounced like it is in gnocchi.

  42. #42 Lawrence
    January 23, 2011

    One thing Jay does have on trolls like Sid & augie (among others) is that he at least tries to build coherent arguments, even if they are based on erroneous assumptions or data. He attempts to offer at least some basis for what he argues – which I have to respect – as opposed to most of the other spammers that run & gun with just plain nonsense.

    And while we do have a tendency to be extremely “insolent” to those that have proven, time and time again, that they will ignore any facts or evidence that contradict their closely-held opinions, I think, as a group, those that approach with actual honest questions are treated very well (compared to what you would find at places like AoA).

  43. #43 prn
    January 23, 2011

    @32, Sharon
    prn, your claims above are hyperbolic balderdash. You seem to be suggesting that the views of ‘opponents’ are entitled to as much consideration as others.

    It’s not the views of the ‘opponents’ that require consideration, it’s the audience. Once one stoops to blind name calling, one loses the argument with the fresh audience that counts, because they’ll likely stop listening. These arguments, the semi-pro proponents (either side) merely sharpen their points and polish their rhetoric after noting any new information, positional change is very slow, if any.

    Embarrassing, unthinking, unrestrained rhetoric, including name calling, by one’s supposed allies and fellow travellers can be your worst enemy. Just look at some of the catcalls, above. Not exactly building credibility.

    The problem with that argument is that most people can only listen to so much repetitive stupid before taking the piss becomes the natural response.

    Outright trolling is where page moderation starts. The threshold problems of moderator bias, the appearance of bias, and threshold creep swinging the hammer.

    I suppose for repetitious generic [newbie, stupid] arguments, “see [linked] FAQ #yyy” might be useful.

  44. #44 Daniel J. Andrews
    January 23, 2011

    Gnoron doesn’t translate well from written to spoken, assuming the g is silent. Think ignoron works better.

  45. #45 sharon
    January 23, 2011

    @ crn, thanks for your reply, which under other circumstances I might agree with. But look at the topic. It’s clearly a post of jest. It seems clear to me that there is no intent to educate (well apart from inform others about a funny word) or sway others with an empirically based argument etc. I think the point you make is valid when the context is intending to achieve the end you speak of above. But in this case I see it as nothing more than some light relief. I would like to think any newcomers to this site would read beyond this post to get a broad understanding of what it has to offer.

  46. #46 geolith
    January 24, 2011

    As a prefatory note, let me say that I took the post and the term as @Sharon suggested it should be taken, and I like the term when it is appropriately used as nomenclature after appropriate diagnosis.

    For that purpose, I find Orac to be a master diagnostician.

    However, it is worth remembering that moron began as a diagnostic term, but became coopted in common rhetorical usage to stand in for “I applied my intelligence and came to a correct conclusion, and since you disagree with me, your intelligence is obviously defective.”

    While calling someone a moron is not the most probable path by which to gain a convert, the real peril lies in the sociological context, where groups coalesce by the use of normative behaviors/memes that include and exclude.

    Consider that following the introduction and population of the nomenclature to classify people as morons or or non-morons, the application of eugenics led to compulstory sterilization and institutionalization of people classified as morons.

    Sometimes people are simply wrong, but sometimes their cognitive systems are operating under different principles. In the latter case, progress in resolving differences comes when at least one of the parties commits to actually understanding the position of the other.

    Sure, there are a fair share of whackaloons arguing a “controversy” who fit the first case, but when a significant proportion of the American population gives some credence to those arguments, it is important to understand why that happens (can the Flintstones really explain why 41% of Americans believe cavemen and dinosaurs coexisted?), and to be wary of applying convenient nomenclature that fits our conceptions as a substitute for understanding.

    So, looking beyond the jestful context of this post, it’s worth considering why someone of decent intelligence would be willfully ignorant.

    PS And, in the spirit of adapting Goddard’s classifications for coinage in the realm of the Internet, perhaps “idiobecile” – a person rendered incapable of objective reasoning by the persistence of ideological beliefs?…

  47. #47 DLC
    January 24, 2011

    Gnoron — sounds like a new particle.
    (headline) researchers at CERN today annoucned the discovery of the gnoron. It’s an incredibly dense particle.

  48. #48 Azkyroth
    January 24, 2011

    Seems kind of redundant given that people who apparently fit the description account for the overwhelming majority of my uses of terms like “moron.” (Especially when they’re behind the wheel of a car – if they were actually as oblivious and thought-free as their driving suggests they presumably wouldn’t HAVE a job to be going to, or to spend the money from).

  49. #49 Halı Yıkama
    January 24, 2011

    So, looking beyond the jestful context of this post, it’s worth considering why someone of decent intelligence would be willfully ignorant.

  50. #50 sharon
    January 24, 2011

    Ok, I’ll play. Do you really think people here and in other forums have not considered the question Hali Yikama? I can assure you lots have, and recent books (the most recent I know of is Seth Mnookin’s Panic Virus)outline their hypothesis of how seemingly reasonable people have been so willing to buy the conspiracy line.
    Here’s my theory in a nutshell for what it’s worth. People who ascribe to all manner of conspriacy theories are motivated to do so by the arrogant sense of superiorty it gives them. They feel as if they possess non mainstream knowledge, and this makes them more intelligent and special than most. They believe they have avoided being duped via their superior powers of analysis. It’s the same mental process those in cults use. They are convinced they possess special knowledge and insight into an issue, this bolsters their sense of self, and is what also serves to make it next to impossible to let go of a theory once they have embraced it. It is more than changing an opinion, it means giving up the smug sense of superiorty that comes with the delusion. Reading accounts by those who left cults and like minded, one eyed, self interest groups, it is clear that the process is slow and painful, and requires the letting go of deeply ingrained beliefs, but more importantly the sense of belonging to the ‘group’.
    I could go on, but I’m sure you get my drift. I may be wrong but that’s my thoughts for now.

  51. #51 peicurmudgeon
    January 24, 2011

    Some days, it’s pure, dispassionate science. Some days it’s not-so-Respectful Insolence. You can never predict which it will be on any given day.

    Which is exactly why I come here every day. I appreciate both.

  52. #52 J. J. Ramsey
    January 24, 2011

    sharon:

    Do you really think people here and in other forums have not considered the question Hali Yikama?

    FYI, Hali Yikama is a spammer who cut and pasted from geolith.

    Here’s my theory in a nutshell for what it’s worth. People who ascribe to all manner of conspriacy theories are motivated to do so by the arrogant sense of superiorty it gives them.

    That’s a possible reason. I suggest that another possibility is that the reasons for subscribing to certain conspiracy theories depends on the particular contents of the theory.

    Take the theories about vaccines or mercury causing autism (… please). Now autism is genetic, so if one has an autistic child, it means that in a certain, arguably twisted sense, one is at “fault” for the autism. That’s a hard enough pill to swallow as is. It also means that one really has little control over one’s child being autistic. Blaming the vaccines or the mercury takes the blame off one’s genes, and it also gives a sense of control, since one “knows” what one could have done to prevent one’s kid’s autism. If one outright blames the mercury or other purported toxins, then there are concrete steps one can take to try to undo the autism, such as chelation “therapy.” Of course, that sense of control is illusory.

  53. #53 sharon
    January 24, 2011

    @JJ Ramsey, another reasonable hypothesis. I’m sure there are many motivating factors.

  54. #55 Sharon
    January 25, 2011

    @ reasonablehank, hey you didn’t get the pic of Meryl Dorey in?

  55. #56 Sauceress
    January 25, 2011

    Another one from the Urban Dictionary.
    “gnosonarcissism”

    This word is a combination of “gnosis” (knowledge) and “narcissist” (a self-centered person). So, a gnosonarcissist is a person who believes in a self-centered way that his level of knowledge is correct and/or complete despite what others know. This implies a lack of understanding that others might know more in areas of knowledge in either a horizontal way (breadth of knowledge) or a vertical way (depth of knowledge).

    Dudley was a gnosonarcissist who believed that his own limited understanding was better than the the knowledge of others who knew much more.

    By Gregory V. Richardson

  56. #57 Tom
    January 26, 2011

    Going back to the original suggestion…
    I nominate Bill Maher. He’s a smart guy yet he has peddled anti-vaccine nonsense and spoken out against anti-biotics with the idea that you wouldn’t need them if you just took better care of yourself. It’s not that he’s stupid it’s just that he is wilfully ignorant on these issues and prefers quackery over science.

  57. #58 David44
    January 26, 2011

    I nominate the Pope as a stand-in for any other religious leader or follower, i.e., believers in god, the ultimate wu.

    Alternate nominee: Ingrid Newkirk as a representative of all the animal rights nuts who deny any benefit to humans or animals from animal research.

  58. #59 Vader
    January 26, 2011

    I’m not sure our culture is actually so short of epithets that we are really in need of more.

    $0.02

  59. #60 Pascal Fervor
    January 26, 2011

    Why isn’t ignoramus good enough?

    Mind you, I’m a big fan of wordplay. If gnoron will capture the essence, that’s fine with me. Deliberate know-nothings, and proud of it, have been around for a longer than I’ve been alive, and I’m practical ancient.

  60. #61 paulmurray
    January 27, 2011

    “When you see a “scientist” resorting to rebuttal-by-name calling, you know that you’re not seeing “science”.”

    Bob, why the scare quotes around ‘scientist’ and ‘science’ in the sentence above?

  61. #62 Ken
    January 28, 2011

    Republicans who are trying to repeal the healthcare law. They say cutting spending and reducing the deficit are their main priorities, but they’re trying to repeal the healthcare law (which does both) because it was a law originating from Pres. Obama and passed by the then-Democratic majority.

    I wish they’d get over themselves and do what’s best for the American people, instead of opposing anything they didn’t think of themselves.

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