The Intersection

Dear PZ,

[It's worth pointing out, my problem is not with profanity. Regular readers know that long before I entered the blogosphere, I've vocally celebrated the right to free speech and independent thinking. However, when influential and well respected professors argue like children in a very public online forum, substantive points decompose to nonsense blows, which puts a poor lens on a field that already has an image problem. As visible teachers and bloggers in the sciences, it's within our power to make strides to improve that, and a well argued rebuttal, over a dismissive profane nonresponse, achieves far more.]

I know you are a very popular writer, professor, atheist, and so on. I understand you are also likely frustrated over all the nonsense with that religious movie. If I were in your situation, I too would be terribly upset, angry, and so forth. However, your blogpost from yesterday, is entirely out of line:

Fuck you very much, Matt. You know where you can stick your advice.

That kind of language and reaction is simply unacceptable on and off the blogosphere. It seems to me, that although you two argue constantly, Matt has always treated you with decorum and respect. Regardless of how you felt regarding what he posted, it was cogent and seriously argued. Whether he is right or wrong, you are an adult, a teacher, and a respected and admired professional. Shame on you. This kind of adolescent knee jerk reaction is absolutely ridiculous and you ought to apologize.

Sincerely,
Sheril

Comments

  1. #1 MH
    March 24, 2008

    “…you ought to apologize.”

    Just like you apologised to PZ for wrongly accusing him of “encouraging a boycott of the film”. Oh, my mistake, you didn’t apologise at all, did you?

  2. #2 Chris C. Mooney
    March 24, 2008

    If Sheril got a detail wrong I’m sure she’ll say so because that is part of accepted decorum in the blogosphere, and we respect that.

    But come on, are we really saying that language like what’s quoted above is acceptable here on scienceblogs? Is everyone afraid to say that this is unacceptable?

    This is an issue independent of the substance of what we’re debating about. It’s about whether we conduct our dialogues in serious terms or not. Can’t we at least agree on that?

  3. #3 Matt Penfold
    March 24, 2008

    Sheril,

    I must have missed it, but could you point me to where you take Matt Nisbett to task for telling Myers and Dawkins to keep quiet ? Only unlike you I bothered to read what Nisbett had to say, and the tone was not polite.

    So Sheril, I call on you to apologise for failing to treat Nisbett the same way as you treated PZ.

    Why do you demand PZ be civil and polite but not Nisbett ? Hypocrisy is not a nice trait in a person, and I expected better of you. Clearly I was foolish in expecting to act as you demand others do.

    Stop acting the concern troll.

  4. #4 Matt Penfold
    March 24, 2008

    “If Sheril got a detail wrong I’m sure she’ll say so because that is part of accepted decorum in the blogosphere, and we respect that.

    But come on, are we really saying that language like what’s quoted above is acceptable here on scienceblogs? Is everyone afraid to say that this is unacceptable?

    This is an issue independent of the substance of what we’re debating about. It’s about whether we conduct our dialogues in serious terms or not. Can’t we at least agree on that?”

    Chris,

    Do you think Nisbett’s post was civil and polite ?

    Do you think Sheril’s call for PZ to apologise is hypocritical as it fails to call on Nisbett to do the same ?

  5. #5 Chris C. Mooney
    March 24, 2008

    This is really unbelievable.

    Whatever you might say about Nisbet’s tone, it was nothing like PZ’s.

    Will no one take a stand in favor of not telling our fellow bloggers to *%$! themselves?

    If so it is a sad day for ScienceBlogs

  6. #6 SteveF
    March 24, 2008

    Nisbett’s attack on PZ was smug, condescending and patronizing. I don’t have a problem with “bad” langauge in response; I grew out of worrying about such things when I was around 14.

    Guys, generally I’m with you in the wider debate. On this particular issue, I honestly believe you’ve got it wrong. So do others on your “side”, like Orac.

  7. #7 Matt Penfold
    March 24, 2008

    “This is really unbelievable.

    Whatever you might say about Nisbet’s tone, it was nothing like PZ’s.

    Will no one take a stand in favor of not telling our fellow bloggers to *%$! themselves?

    If so it is a sad day for ScienceBlogs”

    Chris, you clearly think PZ was wrong in his tone.

    Do you think Nisbett was also wrong in his tone ?

    It is a simple question. Only you do not seem to be able to answer it.

  8. #8 Chris C. Mooney
    March 24, 2008

    No, I will not do this. There is no comparison between the two, and if we’re just going to conflate everything and have absolutely zero standards, then this is not a dialogue I want to be part of.

  9. #9 BRC
    March 24, 2008

    Chris and Sheril, Thank you for taking the higher moral ground. I understand your point, consider it quite straightforward and necessary, and am now absolutely astonished that anyone would consider PZ’s belligerent language acceptable and anywhere on par with posts that have referred to him. In a sad state of affairs, I furthermore hope my view that his approach is belligerent is not interpreted by his readers as requiring an apology. Ben

  10. #10 Aerik
    March 24, 2008

    “zomg, he swore!”

    What are you, retarded?

    Worse. Fucktarded.

  11. #11 Aerik
    March 24, 2008

    To wit:

    Fuck fuck fuck, fuck fuckitty fuck-fuck-fuck.

    Does this hurt you? No. Grow up.

  12. #12 Nick
    March 24, 2008

    Good for PZ! The F-bomb is the only appropriate response to two clowns who repeatedly tell you not to participate in the dialogue unless it’s by their rules.

  13. #13 Orac
    March 24, 2008

    That kind of language and reaction is simply unacceptable on and off the blogosphere

    You obviously haven’t been in the blogosphere very long.

    As for the more general point you and Chris have been making about the Myers-Dawkins incident at the Mall of America, this is my response.

  14. #14 Josh
    March 24, 2008

    What’s really unbelievable is your affected, prissy offendedness at a “bad word.” And I do mean unbelievable – I don’t think you’re that offended, I think you’re deflecting (just in case the frame isn’t clear, Chris, yes, I’m calling you dishonest). Is this really the best you and Nisbet can do? I realize it’s much easier to get your knickers crunched up over a ghastly breach of decorum than it is to acknowledge how rude and logically bankrupt yours and Nisbet’s response has been, but really. Chris, I don’t think you really get how many peoples’ respect you’ve lost – people who cheered on your fantastic work until you slid into this PR morass dug by Nisbet. It’s not just “rude pharyngulites,” or nasty, bad-tempered meany atheists. You need to take this seriously Chris. We don’t all have to agree, but you really need to do some introspection and question whether there’s a reason people are criticizing you so vehemently. I’d advise doing it with Nisbet’s counsel.

  15. #15 Matt Penfold
    March 24, 2008

    “No, I will not do this. There is no comparison between the two, and if we’re just going to conflate everything and have absolutely zero standards, then this is not a dialogue I want to be part of.”

    Chris,

    Standards are not just to be applied to PZ you know. You must meet those standards yourself, and must also hold others, not just PZ, to them. You have refused to hold Nisbett to the standards you hold PZ. PZ swore, yes, but Nisbett has been dishonest and uncivil on more than on occasion and yet you have remained silent.

    Nisbett is dishonest when claims Dawkins’ puts of moderate theists as the fact he was a signatory of a letter to The Times calling for creationism/ID to be kept out of UK schools. Other signatories included fellow scientists as well as number of religious leaders. Is Nisbett is right they clearly would not have allied themselves with Dawkins’ in that fight. He is also uncivil in that assumes the moderate theists cannot understand that a person may have more than one message they are trying to get across. Dawkins’ has a message about atheism but also one about evolution. People can, and do, reject the former but embrace the latter. Nisbett insults the intelligence of theists when he claims they cannot do that.

    So Chris, is being dishonest OK by you ? It would seem by your refusal to condem Nisbet that it is.

    Well I will have to disagree with you. I think being dishonest is worse than swearing. Clearly your standards differ, and lying is not wrong by you.

  16. #16 Chris C. Mooney
    March 24, 2008

    Thank you, Ben. I wish others would follow your example.

    Orac, I saw your post, I can’t respond to everything right now–and I’m not even sure I want to. Will you, or will you not, agree that this kind of language is unacceptable?

    As for the rest of you, I have been blogging since 2001, and this is the most I’ve ever found myself questioning whether it’s worth it. If we can’t even stop swearing at each other, we’re really lost.

  17. #17 Orac
    March 24, 2008

    This is really unbelievable.

    Whatever you might say about Nisbet’s tone, it was nothing like PZ’s.

    Will no one take a stand in favor of not telling our fellow bloggers to *%$! themselves?

    If so it is a sad day for ScienceBlogs

    Give me a break. Apparently it’s OK for Nisbet to implicitly compare Dawkins and Myers’ statements to an arguably racist remark about Barack Obama made by Geraldine Ferraro, as long he doesn’t cuss when he does it.

    You’re losing me. I used to lean more towards your “side” of this debate (as you well know from one of our conversations), but your response and especially Nisbet’s response to this incident are so simply unbelievably wrong-headed that I’m finding it increasingly difficult to take Nisbet’s and your version of “framing” seriously anymore.

  18. #18 Orac
    March 24, 2008

    Orac, I saw your post, I can’t respond to everything right now–and I’m not even sure I want to. Will you, or will you not, agree that this kind of language is unacceptable?

    Will you or will you not agree that likening Dawkins and Myers to a Clinton campaign flack who made an arguably racist comment about Barack Obama is unacceptable?

  19. #19 John McCormick
    March 24, 2008

    Obviously this blog is not being monitored for anti-social tone and disrecting languge I and others who value civility find disgusting.

    Maybe this blog needs a delay mechanism to weed out the sicko types of comments Aerik and PZ posted. Water seeks its own level.

    John McCormick

  20. #20 pough
    March 24, 2008

    But come on, are we really saying that language like what’s quoted above is acceptable here on scienceblogs?

    Yes. Or, at least, I am. You and Sheril are saying the opposite.

    Is everyone afraid to say that this is unacceptable?

    Obviously people aren’t afraid to say that it’s unacceptable because people are saying that it’s unacceptable. For example, scroll up to where you and Sheril type stuff.

    Whether or not you like it, “fuck” is a part of the English language and it has its uses. Sometimes, truly, it the most accurate way to express a sentiment, because some things deserve no better. PZ seems to have felt that this was such a time. I can’t say I disagree. And to be honest I think your reaction is pathetic. You sound like an old maid. I’m no longer surprised you drink Miller Lite.

  21. #21 Matt Penfold
    March 24, 2008

    “Thank you, Ben. I wish others would follow your example.

    Orac, I saw your post, I can’t respond to everything right now–and I’m not even sure I want to. Will you, or will you not, agree that this kind of language is unacceptable?

    As for the rest of you, I have been blogging since 2001, and this is the most I’ve ever found myself questioning whether it’s worth it. If we can’t even stop swearing at each other, we’re really lost.”

    Chris, this really is pathetic on your part.

    Nisbett makes dishonest claims about Dawkins and PZ, but rather than you take him to task for doing so you criticise PZ for getting pissed off with Nisbett.

    Do you not read ScienceBlogs very much. Only PZ is not the only blogger here to have used the word “fuck”. Brayton has used when discussing anti-gay bigots. I must have missed Sheril’s post calling on Brayton to apologise. Could either you or she post a link it to please ? I assume it exists, otherwise Sheril’s post would seem to be just a load of anti-PZ vitriol. She does have a tendency to get a bit shrill sometimes.

  22. #22 Nick
    March 24, 2008

    Chris, it sounds like you’re playing the old con of acting offended to get your own way, rather than owing up to being part of a systematic effort to silence PZ all along

  23. #23 Chris C. Mooney
    March 24, 2008

    Orac,
    I didn’t read the Nisbet comment that way. I thought he was being general about people involved in campaigns who have gone off message.

    I don’t think there was any intent to suggest that PZ and Dawkins are like racists. Do you? If so, obviously, that’s not appropriate.

    Beyond that I’ll let Matt defend himself. Now, how about the swearing?

  24. #24 Colugo
    March 24, 2008

    Hey, this is the blogosphere, where terms like “fucktard” and “douchenozzle” are mainstream discourse, used by tenured scholars and reclusive weirdos in their parents’ basements alike.

    I’m sorry Chris, Sheril, and Matt, but you guys just lost the Framing Wars. The flap over the “Myers Expelled expulsion” was the shark-jumping moment. (A term that has itself JTS, I know.)

    I’ve been a big critic myself of the New Atheists’ insistence on yoking Science to atheism. But I know when I’ve been licked. The majority of the science blogosphere disagrees my views. Whatever. It’ll be interesting to see if New Atheism mutates into something more hardline and produces its own Robespierre. Point is, I don’t claim to herald a more effective strategy of communicating science so it doesn’t matter if I’m rejected by the majority of science fanboys and fangirls. But you guys do.

  25. #25 pough
    March 24, 2008

    That kind of language and reaction is simply unacceptable on and off the blogosphere.

    Seriously? Why?

    It seems to me, that although you two argue constantly, Matt has always treated you with decorum and respect.

    I’ve had the opposite impression; that pretty much everything Matt has said to or about PZ has oozed with a lack of respect couched in words carefully crafted to seem like respect for purely political purposes. Or maybe I just don’t calculate respect on a per-syllable basis.

  26. #26 Matt Penfold
    March 24, 2008

    “Obviously this blog is not being monitored for anti-social tone and disrecting languge I and others who value civility find disgusting.

    Maybe this blog needs a delay mechanism to weed out the sicko types of comments Aerik and PZ posted. Water seeks its own level.

    John McCormick”

    Er, I think you need to get your eyes tested.

    PZ has not posted a comment in this thread.

    Do you want to apologise to PZ for lying ?

  27. #27 Rev Matt
    March 24, 2008

    This is getting ridiculous. Personal attacks? Really? I personally have no problem with profanity and don’t understand why people get all bent out of shape over the use of Carlin’s Seven Deadly Words. I do think that PZ was exceptionally rude in what he said, but the most important part of freedom of speech is tolerating speech you don’t like.

    I would rather see people arguing the substantive points of the issue, but since this is all a matter of opinion as to whether PZ/Dawkins/et al should be highlighting this incident or not then there is no right or wrong answer (you may feel it is tactically or morally wrong, that does not make it factually wrong) and people rapidly devolve to moronic comments about the person they disagree with, which does no one any good.

    Plus it’s a Chevy Chase line.

  28. #28 Wes
    March 24, 2008

    Is this the old, “Badger the person over and over, then claim victory when he lashes out in anger” frame?

    Nisbet has been claiming for quite some time now that Myers needs to be quiet and stop speaking openly about his views. To make matters worse, Nisbet issues his calls for self-censorship in condescending and insulting language. My guess is that PZ got sick of it and lashed out. I’d probably do the same thing.

    Not to mention that Nisbet, Mooney, and now Kirshenbaum have managed to take what started out as an amusing (if somewhat minor) embarrassment for some creationist hacks and turned it into a high-drama farce that embarrasses scientists. Who’s doing the damage here? Who’s failing to communicate? Who’s promoting a personal vendetta? Who’s providing the creationists with fodder they can use in their dishonest PR campaigns?

  29. #29 PuckishOne
    March 24, 2008

    This is ridiculous. As a college-educated, middle-class, non-scientist I’d like to think I’m fairly close to the target demographic for ScienceBlogs such as this one, and I too must cry foul here. In the time I’ve been reading these blogs, I’ve seen much ado about “no, no, no, not THAT way” from this blog and Framing Science, with nary a suggestion of what, exactly, the “right” way is. All I can tell is that it apparently involves something that Messrs. Mooney and Nisbet know but don’t feel compelled to share.

    Did you not write a book entitled The Republican War on Science? In which dictionary is “war” defined as a genteel, polite undertaking? I’m all for civil discourse, believe me, but thus far all you’ve brought to the table is “hush up and let us do the talking” without any evidence as to why this would be a good thing to do. PZ Myers expressed the frustration that a lot of us literate non-scientists feel when we read this sort of thing from someone who purports to be in favor of the promotion of science and reason.

    Worse, your suggestion in a previous post that we “check our critical faculties at the door” sounds eerily like the mantra of those promoting dogma and pseudoscience over the scientific method. I cannot fault Mr. Myers for his frustration, for I feel it just as strongly.

    Clearly science does not speak for itself to a great many people. Why are we wasting our time arguing over whose voices should be allowed to bring it to life? We have bigger battles to fight.

  30. #30 Greg Laden
    March 24, 2008

    Dear Sheril,

    I think that an apology is owed, but not by PZ! See Myers-Dawkins-Expelled-gate: Mooney and Nisbet, Framers of the Absurd, Have Stepped Over a Line and Owe an Apology where I think I avoid most profanity (maybe all) but point out that Chris and Matt (more Matt than Chris) really do go over the line in suggesting that PZ and Richard are delusional!

    If I was PZ, Chris and Matt would have gotten a “fuck you very much” from me as well, and there would be no apology forthcoming.

    Let’s get to the real issue here. What Chris and Matt, and Sheril as well, apparently, have suggested is not at all supportive of what should be our common goal. And look around you, guys. You are very much alone on this.

    Join us. We will forgive you.

    Greg

  31. #31 student_b
    March 24, 2008

    You sound like an old maid. I’m no longer surprised you drink Miller Lite.

    She does have a tendency to get a bit shrill sometimes.

    I love casual sexism thrown around.

    *

    —————–

    As for the topic, I have to disagree. PZ’s answer wasn’t very civil, true. But it wasn’t that inappropriate either.

    It’s not something I would have used, but I don’t swear much anyway.

    But as an expression of PZ’s sentiment towards Nisbet, showing his emotions and position, well it works and is quite precise.

    Btw. your post is a tiny little bit like concern trolling, at least it appears to me like this. ;)

    (* Not!, of course, for any irony impaired around here.)

  32. #32 Matt Penfold
    March 24, 2008

    “Orac,
    I didn’t read the Nisbet comment that way. I thought he was being general about people involved in campaigns who have gone off message.

    I don’t think there was any intent to suggest that PZ and Dawkins are like racists. Do you? If so, obviously, that’s not appropriate.

    Beyond that I’ll let Matt defend himself. Now, how about the swearing?”

    Nice wriggle. Do you know how spell double standards ?

  33. #33 scote
    March 24, 2008

    No, I will not do this. There is no comparison between the two, and if we’re just going to conflate everything and have absolutely zero standards, then this is not a dialogue I want to be part of.

    It is a sad day when you would rather attack form than substance, and that you would hold form to be the actionable instance where as the full substance Nisbet’s “shut up” column is ignored in its entirety, and that you would would much rather complain about one word by PZ than the entire STFU diatribe by another.

    I want nothing to do with such a low standard evaluation. Your knee jerk reaction leaves me stunned an unimpressed by your standards.

  34. #34 FastLane
    March 24, 2008

    For our friends from across the pond…

    With all due respect, I think whining about someone’s language, without addressing the issue or substance is defelction and spin of the lowest sort.

    I believe PZ’s comment was clear and concise, sometimes insults and swearing are the best way to express an opinion.

    Oh, and not all insults are ad hominems. Sometimes, they are just insults. And often, well deserved.

    Cheers.

  35. #35 Jon Winsor
    March 24, 2008

    This is really too bad. Isn’t this getting a bit adolescent, PZ? You act like this and want non-adolescents to take you seriously?

  36. #36 Left_Wing_Fox
    March 24, 2008

    Man, civil dialog in the US today seems to be “Muslims are going to kill us, Blacks are inferior, Democrats are communists, Science is evil, atheists are immoral, and Christianity superior.” Just so long as you don’t use a four-letter word, it’s all ok.

  37. #37 J. J. Ramsey
    March 24, 2008

    “That kind of language and reaction is simply unacceptable on and off the blogosphere.”

    It seems to be common, nonetheless.

  38. #38 Greg Laden
    March 24, 2008

    Here’s a list as of an hour or so of commentary on the critique of the reaction:

    The Framing Critique (Dawkins-Myers-Expelled!-Gate)

    (indicating a preponderance of opinion that Matt and Chris … and, sadly, Sheril … maybe have stepped in it a bit…)

    Come on guys, bring it on home. Work with the good guys. You’ll feel better.

  39. #39 Schmeer
    March 24, 2008

    I thought PZ’s comment was entirely appropriate.

    When do you two change the name of your blog from “The Intersection” to “Concern Troll”? Will there be a politely worded, profanity-free press release?

    Oh yes… fuck. (I hope no one faints after reading that horrible profanity)

  40. #40 Matt Penfold
    March 24, 2008

    “Orac,
    I didn’t read the Nisbet comment that way. I thought he was being general about people involved in campaigns who have gone off message.

    I don’t think there was any intent to suggest that PZ and Dawkins are like racists. Do you? If so, obviously, that’s not appropriate.

    Beyond that I’ll let Matt defend himself. Now, how about the swearing?”

    Nice wriggle. Do you know how spell double standards ?

  41. #41 Chad
    March 24, 2008

    Honestly, I now have more respect for PZ for saying that to Chris.

  42. #42 factician
    March 24, 2008

    Are you *really* more upset over the particular word that PZ used, rather than the suggestion by Nisbet that PZ shut up? What if Nisbet had said “Shut the fuck up”, would that have been worse? It’s rather the same, if you ask me. Telling some one to shut up is pretty unfriendly, and begs for the response, “Fuck you very much”.

    What if PZ had said, “Piss off”. Should he have said, “Forget it”. Or how about, “I respectfully disagree, sir, and I’m going to continue to speak.” What about “Please, sir, I beg your forgiveness, but I would like to disagree. May I continue to communicate in the blogosphere?”.

    Give me a break.

  43. #43 Jon Winsor
    March 24, 2008

    The race to the bottom makes you look sooo good to the public at large, let me tell you.

  44. #44 Colugo
    March 24, 2008

    Dean Johnson (RIP): unwitting prophet of blogosphere discourse
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZnMtvuvM_i0

  45. #45 scote
    March 24, 2008

    Since PZ’s FU very much (in line with Eric Idle’s excellent song for the FCC) is a response to non-sensical calls for him to STFU about creationist hypocrisy it is really amazing that Mooney, Nisbet et al don’t get that the framing of **expelling** people from Expelled shows the movie’s hypocrisy an their false claims for what they are. This is the **perfect** framing and you don’t need to know any science to see it, that’s why it is so perfect.

    Maybe some people who know science better than they know framing aren’t seeing the forest..

    Orac has an excellent explanation of why the Expelled expulsion is so perfect (though it should be self-evident from PZ first post on the topic):

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2008/03/the_dawkins_incident_sometimes_its_neces.php

  46. #46 Steve
    March 24, 2008

    I, for one, have enough PZ and his flagrant disregard for those who have opinions other than his. He has become a boil on the ass of Scienceblogs, albeit the boil that brings in the hits. A good comparison of a good communicating atheist would be Phil Plait. He quite explicitly runs a tightly controlled site that does not tolerate much of the behavior that can be found on PZ’s. By continuing to allow a person who shows disrespect to so many people as PZ does on Scienceblogs, I feel that Sb is harmed in the long run. Let PZ take his anit-religion side-show elsewhere, but he can stay behind and use proper decorum to speak of issues with which he is professionally trained. In fact, that should be a requirement of all Sb posters. Let’s see, who is trained in communicating? And has proven successful at it?

  47. #47 Brian
    March 24, 2008

    While I don’t agree that PZ’s response was all that big a deal, I will say that responding with more of the same when Sheril complains about it is particularly douche-tastic.

  48. #48 Chad
    March 24, 2008

    I meant to say Matt. Oops, I tend to get those two confused nowadays…

  49. #49 Greg Laden
    March 24, 2008

    JJ: I just want you to know that all the “fucks” on the scienceblogs.com for my site (and by the way, that was a brilliant idea) are Physiprof being profane in my site. I would never say fuck.

  50. #50 PalMD
    March 24, 2008

    Everybody has, to some extent, a “flagrant disregard for those who have opinions other than” their own. And everyone can be, um, vociferous about it.

    I think it actually can advance debate in some ways (see current discussion).

    Especially when it comes to atheism, the forces arrayed agaisnt we non-believers are tremendous. A few f-bombs isn’t always a bad thing.

  51. #51 student_b
    March 24, 2008

    I, for one, have enough PZ and his flagrant disregard for those who have opinions other than his.

    Oh, where did PZ said people who have an other opinion then himself should shut up?

    Ah, I forgot, sorry. Wrong frame.

    but he can stay behind and use proper decorum to speak of issues with which he is professionally trained. In fact, that should be a requirement of all Sb posters.

    Once again, somebody who doesn’t understand the point of ScienceBlogs.

    I’ll let you in a little secret: ScienceBlogs isn’t just about science! *shock* *horror* *flagburningoutrage*

    Let’s see, who is trained in communicating? And has proven successful at it?

    Hmm… nobody here that I can think of.

    Oh, you don’t really mean the framers, do you? The only thing they’re communicating seems to be framing for the sake of framing.

    At least that’s the impression I’ve got from all those discussions. If this is the wrong impression I’ve got (could be, can’t be sure)… well, they aren’t that good at communicating then, aye? ;)

  52. #52 dm
    March 24, 2008

    No, the real point here is not whether PZ adolescent sycophants gunk up the boards with mindless profanity, but how the whole New Atheist movement appears to those outside it. Almost everyone who is borderline religious or fully religious will lookup at us, shake their heads, and say, “is that what we’re supposed to become? No, thanks – I’ll stick with my church.”

  53. #53 student_b
    March 24, 2008

    No, the real point here is not whether PZ adolescent sycophants gunk up the boards with mindless profanity

    Word of advice. When lambasting others for profanity, don’t use profanity yourselves. ;)

  54. #54 MH
    March 24, 2008

    John McCormick wrote “Obviously this blog is not being monitored for anti-social tone and disrecting [sic] languge [sic] I and others who value civility find disgusting.”

    You could always get a nanny-filter?

  55. #55 tonyl
    March 24, 2008

    Sheril,

    I normally enjoy your posts and dislike the anti-theist rhetoric of PZ and others, but I’m going to disagree with you on this one. After reading Matt’s post and PZ’s, I have to say that PZ’s comment was entirely appropriate. Sometimes, when someone is completely full of shit and out of line, you have to tell them honestly, and frankly, that he/she is full of shit and out of line. “Fuck you very much,” really was an appropriate response to Matt’s idiocy.

  56. #56 mlf
    March 24, 2008

    So Nisbet doesn’t want PZ or Dawkins to talk to the media and Sheril doesn’t want PZ (and anyone, it sounds like) to ever say curse words on the “blogosphere” or in real life.

    Poor Dawkins and PZ, pretty soon they’re not going to be allowed to say anything to anyone at this rate.

    Sheril, you are the one that needs to grow up. Real adults are mature enough to handle “that kind of language.” If what PZ did was so unacceptable then Science Blogs would have punished him, and I’m pretty sure you do not speak for Science Blogs.

    And claiming that there are commonalities within the “blogosphere” past the fact that blogs are written by humans just proves to everyone that you have no idea what you are talking about.

  57. #57 Joe
    March 24, 2008

    don’t you kids have an internal message system for discussing such petty matters? I don’t want to read about such childish drama.

  58. #58 PL
    March 24, 2008

    This isn’t the internal seekrit message system????? (looks around)

  59. #59 Donalbain
    March 24, 2008

    The response was completely appropriate. When someone who knows fuck all about a subject tells me what to do, I will happily tell them to fuck off.

  60. #60 dm
    March 24, 2008

    Real adults are mature enough to handle “that kind of language.

    Yeah, but real adults don’t want to have to deal with it. It’s like spam – it gets in the way. It becomes so prevalent, that the signal-to-noise ratio of the discussion degrades to the point where there is no real communication. Just mindless apes flinging excrement.

  61. #61 Matt Penfold
    March 24, 2008

    Did I miss the vote where Sheril got put in charge of what words people around the world can and cannot say ?

    Only I don’t think I did, it is the sort of thing one would remember.

    So why then is she acting all high and mighty lay downing the law as what PZ can and cannot say ?

    Come Sheril, stop acting so pious and let some air out of your ego before it bursts from over-inflation.

  62. #62 pough
    March 24, 2008

    You sound like an old maid. I’m no longer surprised you drink Miller Lite.

    I love casual sexism thrown around.

    Apparently I do, too. That’s very interesting. (It was directed at Chris, not Sheril, just in case that wasn’t clear.) I’m not sure what else I could have used to express my meaning without getting into long-winded descriptions of a person who disapproves of naughty words for the sake of some kind of decency that’s never really defined and likely not relevant or necessary and who is old and behind the times and… Can you think of anything? I’m happy to learn. I’d prefer not to be casually sexist.

  63. #63 Jon Winsor
    March 24, 2008

    don’t you kids have an internal message system for discussing such petty matters?

    As my old boss used to tell arguing coworkers, “Get a room, guys.” Once you’ve got the door closed you can pound the table all you want, and even say “fuck you, man,” from time to time.

  64. #64 pough
    March 24, 2008

    Yeah, but real adults don’t want to have to deal with it. It’s like spam – it gets in the way. It becomes so prevalent, that the signal-to-noise ratio of the discussion degrades to the point where there is no real communication. Just mindless apes flinging excrement.

    Bullshit. Obviously some real adults do want to “deal with it”. It can sometimes be like SPAM, but often not. It has not become so prevalent that there is no real communication. Apes are not mindless.

  65. #65 Donalbain
    March 24, 2008

    “Fuck” is not spam. It is not noise. In this case it was most definitely the message. PZ desired to express real, visceral annoyance at Matt and one of the ways the Englisgh language provides for doing that is saying “Fuck you”.

  66. #66 dm
    March 24, 2008

    Bullshit. Obviously some real adults do want to “deal with it”. It can sometimes be like SPAM, but often not. It has not become so prevalent that there is no real communication. Apes are not mindless.

    Oh Yeah? Well Fuck you too, dude! Kiss my ass.

    (no offense – just trying to fit it ;)

  67. #67 Matt Penfold
    March 24, 2008

    Could someone come up with a list of books and films Sheril should not read or see ?

    Only if she so dislikes the word “fuck” she cannot see “Four Weddings and a Funeral”, or read “Trainspotting”. Both make liberal use of the word.

  68. #68 Timcol
    March 24, 2008

    Although I don’t think PZ should stay quiet on this whole matter, I do agree with Sheril and Chris that PZ stepped over the line.

    Let’s be clear – we have the facts and the empircal evidence on our side. We don’t need to stoop to the level of Ann Coulter to make our point. Although it does make for entertaining blog reading, it also makes for some golden quote-mining opportunities for others who already have a fine-tuned spin machine.

  69. #69 David Marjanović
    March 24, 2008

    I see everyone else has already said it… still it bears repeating: OMGWTFBBQ — oh noes!!!1! He said the F word!!!1! AAAAAAAAAAAARGH!!!eleventyone!

    Matt has always treated you with decorum and respect.

    Untrue. He told him to, in effect, tell journalists who might ask to interview him about Expelledgate “I’m much too embarrassed to talk about it, please talk to the NCSE instead, or to a communication genius like the glorious Matt Nisbet.”

  70. #70 steve
    March 24, 2008

    student_b:

    Chris Mooney is a communicator of science to the general public. He gets paid specifically for having this gift. He relies on the ability of people to understand and comprehend what he writes and speaks (when on tours)to make money. Maybe people should, you know, listen to him. Give him a change. Just try it; if it doesn’t work, so be it. But no, the reaction from the elite has been: “Chris does not have a PhD, let alone a science degree, how dareth this mere mortal try telling me, the great PZ, what I should do!!!! PZ smash Chris!!! AARRRGGHH!!!” Please let us know when you make some money selling science minded writings to non-science people. Oh, and to the old guard of science high-mindedness, thanks for being sooooo successful at communicating the importance of science to the general public. A+ Job!!!

  71. #71 student_b
    March 24, 2008

    (It was directed at Chris, not Sheril, just in case that wasn’t clear.)

    Ups. Uh… eh… I really should have put more points into my reading comprehension skill.

    I thought you meant Sheril, so sorry for that.

    Still, I think that using old maid wasn’t appropriate. Ok, maybe I’m just picky, but using old maid in this context (together with the comment about light beer) sounds like you meant to effeminate him. (The argument usually goes like this: old maid, light beer -> not a real man -> feminine -> thus a problem.) Old maid isn’t something usually used on men after all. (It’s like when someone calls a man a pussy, or a sissy and thus by application female -> bad.)

    That’s why I’ve objected. Is my reasoning understandable? Probably not, so I’ll just shut up for now. It’s off topic anyway. :/

  72. #72 MH
    March 24, 2008

    Steve wrote: “Please let us know when you make some money selling science minded writings to non-science people.”

    Who do you think has sold many more “science minded writings to non-science people”, Dawkins or Mooney?

  73. #73 llewelly
    March 24, 2008

    Recall that Nisbet and Mooney initiated this charade by accusing outspoken atheists like PZ and Dawkins of helping creationists. What PZ has said to Nisbet is kinder.

  74. #74 Matt Penfold
    March 24, 2008

    Steve,

    Can you point to any publication Chris has made that explains science to the public ?

    I now he has published books on how the Republicans have tries to sideline science, and on the political response (or lack of) to global warming but those are not books explaining science to the public. They are books explaining parochial US responses to science, hardly the same thing.

    Richard Dawkins though has written a number of books explaining aspects of evolution to the public, starting in 1976 with “The Selfish Gene”.

    Explainin science, which Dawkins does is not the same thing as writing about how science and politics collide. Dawkins has also written a book on the latter (The God Delusion) and the book he is currently writing will deal with creationist claims that evolution is “just a theory”.

  75. #75 Matt Penfold
    March 24, 2008

    “Recall that Nisbet and Mooney initiated this charade by accusing outspoken atheists like PZ and Dawkins of helping creationists. What PZ has said to Nisbet is kinder.”

    Ah, you are falling into the trap of assuming that Chris and Sheril are tying to be even-handed. It is clear that Sheril has some kind of personal animus towards PZ, just as PZ has towards Nisbett. Unlike PZ, Sheril lack the integrity to admit it. PZ is not the first ScienceBlogger to tell someone to fuck off. If Sheril was really concerned about people telling each other to fuck off she would have taken those other ScienceBloggers to task when they did so. I have asked her for a link to the post where she did so. Her silence says it all really. She does not give a stuff about what wa s said, but about who said it to who.

    And yes, I will admit. I do not like Sheril. I find her patronising and shrill.

  76. #76 Katsu
    March 24, 2008

    I’m with PZ on this one. The f-word is a word like any other, and can be very effective when it comes to communicating. Further, having read what PZ was responding to, frankly, I think he showed far more restraint than many others with nastier tempers would have in the same situation.

    And I’m sorry, but I think it’s wrong and offensive to tell PZ and Dawkins to hush up and let the professionals deal with it.

    It’s not your story to tell – it’s theirs.

  77. #77 Davis
    March 24, 2008

    But no, the reaction from the elite has been: “Chris does not have a PhD, let alone a science degree, how dareth this mere mortal try telling me, the great PZ, what I should do!!!! PZ smash Chris!!! AARRRGGHH!!!”

    You know, I’ve been reading ScienceBlogs for years now, and I’ve seen no such attitude toward Chris. You’re making this up out of whole cloth.

    My perspective on this: I was a fan of Chris, ever since reading RWOS (I even got a copy signed at one of his readings). Sheril was a welcome addition to the blog. However, their posts about “framing” show a noticeable step down in quality and critical thinking. For someone who is supposed to “get” the framing thing, Nisbet does a miserable job of using it himself (his entire approach seems to be crying “you’re doing it wrong” to people who command large audiences). You were better before you took up Matthew’s cause, Chris and Sheril.

    And you were very, very wrong on this one — you should admit it, and then drop it.

  78. #78 Matt Penfold
    March 24, 2008

    When PZ told Nisbett “Fuck you very much, Matt. You know where you can stick your advice” is there anyone who is left in any doubt as to how PZ feels about Nisbett ? I should not think so, which would suggest that as a “frame” it was highly effective. If only the frame advocated by Nisbett and Mooney was as effective.

  79. #79 Linda
    March 24, 2008

    Except for a handful of comments here today, which show thought and interest, it seems that quite the ‘fringe’ element has come aboard. Name-calling and extreme rudeness, like little children do, is always a BIG TURNOFF!!! Shame on all you ‘INTELLECTS’…

  80. #80 H.H.
    March 24, 2008

    Give me coarse truth over mannered bullshit every time.

  81. #81 Matt Penfold
    March 24, 2008

    “Except for a handful of comments here today, which show thought and interest, it seems that quite the ‘fringe’ element has come aboard. Name-calling and extreme rudeness, like little children do, is always a BIG TURNOFF!!! Shame on all you ‘INTELLECTS’…”

    Linda, did you bother to read what Nisbett wrote ? And if you did can you not see why PZ might have found it insulting ? And can you see why some of us think Chris and Sheril are not being even handed, in that they refuse to criticise Nisbett whilst critising PZ ? Do you not feel ashamed for not addressing those points ?

  82. #82 Lance
    March 24, 2008

    Sheril,

    I agree that PZ’s response was impolite and crude. What exactly were you expecting?

    Uh, have you never read his blog? Or is it alright when he treats people from say Climateaudit that way since they are “denialists”?

    This has been an interesting little display of fratricidal combat over who gets to be the official “progressive” voice of science.

    I’ll sit back and watch. As John Stewart would say, while munching pop corn, “Yes. Go on!”

  83. #83 snow dog
    March 24, 2008

    Linda said:

    Except for a handful of comments here today, which show thought and interest, it seems that quite the ‘fringe’ element has come aboard. Name-calling and extreme rudeness, like little children do, is always a BIG TURNOFF!!! Shame on all you ‘INTELLECTS’…

    I’m intelligent enough to pay attention to the real SUBSTANCE of what someone is saying, whether or not their message contains profanities. If you turn your ears off to everything that’s said once you hear an “unpleasant” word, than that’s YOUR LOSS.

    I guess, “The world is fucking round, you idiots!” is a bad message, cuz, you know, it contains the F-bomb. Therefore, you shut your ears off and refuse to listen to the message.

    “The world is flat, ladies and gentlemen”, is a message that you will happily listen to, because it’s polite, and after all, politeness is all that counts.

    What a tragedy that some people limit themselves in such a way. Like I said: your loss.

  84. #84 Brownian
    March 24, 2008

    Shame on all you ‘INTELLECTS’…

    My sentiments exactly.

    The rabble swear. We do not. If we do not hold ourselves to a higher standard than they, how can we ever expect them to look to us as examples of emotionless rationality?

    Will no one take a stand in favor of not telling our fellow bloggers to *%$! themselves?

    If so it is a sad day for ScienceBlogs

    I will stand with you Chris, and echo your heartfelt words (well, they would be heartfelt if expressing emotion weren’t so unscientific).

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to joylessly fornicate with a lab assistant.

  85. #85 jesustweak
    March 24, 2008

    When I read PZ’s “FU very much” comment, I thought it was surprisingly immature. However, it is becoming clear to me that it was the right response. Exchanging ideas without profanity is an admirable goal, but swearing may be the only appropriate response to something as stupid and offensive as Nisbet’s post. Is there a better way to sufficiently offend him so that he goes away and takes his ridiculous appeasement strategies with him?

  86. #86 chezjake
    March 24, 2008

    I think that Orac, Jake Young, and “Cool Aunt” Janet have got this situation exactly right. Nisbet and Mooney’s conflation of “science vs. creationism” with exposing blatant hypocrisy is nothing but evidence of failure to think through the situation logically. Now this post and Chris’s comments here are nothing but childish whinging.

    After Nisbet first came to ScienceBlogs, I read several of his posts and then decided he didn’t have much of substance to say. I liked Chris’s posts that stuck to science, and I thought that the addition of Sheril to the blog was brilliant. I’m now revising those opinions and probably won’t read this blog anymore. I definitely won’t be buying any more of Chris’s books.

  87. #87 Jon Winsor
    March 24, 2008

    …Trainspotting…

    Good movie. But it involves adolescents, not scientists with PHD’s. Sick Boy is not your ideal front man in the struggle against the counter-Enlightenment…

  88. #88 michaelf
    March 24, 2008

    I think most have missed pointing out that Matt also called Richard and PZ delusional and labeled their beliefs simplistic and unscientific without any evidence to back his conclusion.
    It is a bit strange to denigrate their beliefs and then denigrate them for denigrating the beliefs of others.
    Plus Chris and Sheril’s spineless response to PZ and the commenters here – if you can’t criticize Matt then don’t criticize anyone – perhaps some cheese to go with their whine.
    The whole issue is more complicated than any side is willing to admit. The difficulty for most people is living with uncertainty – people crave certainty and science can’t provide that. Religion tries tending to reject uncertainty – ecumenism just doesn’t sell well.
    What we need to see is that more than one path is possible – as Daniel Berrigan and Thich Nhat Hanh titled their book “the raft is not the shore” – the concern is where we are going not how we get there.

  89. #89 Lance
    March 24, 2008

    Oops meant “Jon” Stewart. No “h” of course. No doubt in the spirit of the current lovefest someone would take the opportunity to call me a “fucktard” for the typo.

    Who am I kidding? I’m sure someone will anyway.

  90. #90 Adrienne
    March 24, 2008

    I recall that Ed Brayton of “Dispatches” once told PZ to eff-off, after PZ jumped on him (Ed) for criticizing Dawkins. Did you speak up then, Chris Mooney? (Sheril wasn’t a co-blogger back then, I think).

    I mean, I’m no big fan of this type of language, but even religious types like Rob Knopp occasionally resort to it (he even titled a post about PZ being an a$$hole, although he retracted it later). Did you get bent out of shape them and tsk tsk him? Zuska of Thus Spake Zuska has told many other bloggers here that they have their heads up their asses, and so on. So this sort of profane namecalling is not exactly new here on ScienceBlogs. It’s all well and good for you to take the high, profanity-free road on your blog, but clearly some of your SciBlings don’t feel the same obligation to avoid bad words and even, yes, namecalling.

  91. #91 Matt Penfold
    March 24, 2008

    Adrienne,

    It is for that reason I do not believe Sheril is really upset about the words PZ used. If she, and as Chris has supported her, Chris were really so upset about people using bad language they would have spoken out before. That they have not shows suggests they are not being truthful about their real motivations which I suspect are anger that PZ came up with such an effective put down of their friend Nisbett.

  92. #92 Jonathan
    March 24, 2008

    Did this REALLY need to be it’s own post… Seriously this just screams of Look at us! Look at us! We are important too!!!!

  93. #93 Matt Penfold
    March 24, 2008

    “Good movie. But it involves adolescents, not scientists with PHD’s. Sick Boy is not your ideal front man in the struggle against the counter-Enlightenment…”

    I was actually referring to the book, although the film is good.

    My point in raising the book (and ok, film) was not that the people in it would be good spokesmen for science but that it contains liberal uses of bad language. Thus Sheril clearly would not approve of anyone reading the book, or seeing the film. She cettainly should avoid doing either herself lest her sensibilities be upset.

    However her distaste for bad language does not alter the fact that Trainspotting is an important part of C20th Scottish literature. Thankfully prudish Sheril does not get to decide what are nice books.

  94. #94 Sigmund
    March 24, 2008

    So its OK for Matt to say the following:
    “Indeed, among the atheist netroots, PZ’s preferred brand of Don Imus atheism has become very popular, spreading all sorts of wrong headed myths that religious people are stupid and that science literacy will set them free.”
    And yet using a little adult language amongst grown ups is frowned upon? Likening someone to a renowned racist is fine but using a single english word is a sin?
    Sheril, close your eyes……….

    NOW
    Philip Larkin – This Be The Verse

    They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
    They may not mean to, but they do.
    They fill you with the faults they had
    And add some extra, just for you.

    But they were fucked up in their turn
    By fools in old-style hats and coats,
    Who half the time were soppy-stern
    And half at one another’s throats.

    Man hands on misery to man.
    It deepens like a coastal shelf.
    Get out as early as you can,
    And don’t have any kids yourself.

  95. #95 Mark F.
    March 24, 2008

    And here we have the real reason why Kevin Millar wants to give us all a big group hug. Because this whole thing has generated one big fricken’ circular firing squad. (I thought I’d avoid using a word that might cause some to require a fainting couch.)

    For the record, like Orac, I tend to lean toward the Nisbet/Mooney side on the framing thing, but on this one, Nisbet is just plain wrong. I don’t blame PZ for saying what he did.

  96. #96 Jon Winsor
    March 24, 2008

    Thus Sheril clearly would not approve of anyone reading the book, or seeing the film.

    I bet Sheril liked Trainspotting if she saw it. The point is that something can be fine in one context and show a complete lack of self awareness in another. (You can probably think of an example–this is pretty basic stuff.)

  97. #97 UWash
    March 24, 2008

    OH MY GOD! (and that’s not literal, I don’t believe in the guy!)

    You atheist morons give the rest of us a bad name! Seriously. It’s as if you’re singlehandedly turning me off to atheism. PZ at the lead naturally. Of course, I’m kidding, I’m a life long nonbeliever-but seriously-

    All this thread does is point out all the reasons that a fundamentalist mentality ruins any sort of intelligent enlightened discourse.

    As a well regarded scientist, an atheist, and someone who fears for what you sheep are doing to the state of science at large- YOU MAKE STEIN’S ARGUMENT FOR HIM DEONSTRATING INTOLERANCE.

    So I will continue to watch and read and quietly believe what I like without all this hostility that you so often feel the need to convey online. It’s a waste of space. Frankly, many here are no better than creationists in your style of argument.

    Further, Sheril is completely correct. And I don’t give a hoot about Matt Nisbet, but if we want to raise the discussion to anything of substance, Dr. Myers should refrain from using profanity which undermines his argument.

  98. #98 Chris Clarke
    March 24, 2008

    This concern came up a few years back in a diffderent context, with bloggers on the right calling, in between posts advocating torture and internment of Enemies of the State, for a moratorium on rude language from bloggers.

    I wrote about it at length back then. One thing from that post of mine is, I think, germane to the current issue.

    Billy Golfus, the disability rights activist who made the film “When Billy Broke His Head,” heard some years ago that the über-civil staff at Utne Reader had chided Lucy Gwin, the militant editor of Mouth Magazine, for incivility in her refusal of an Alternative Press Award. Golfus’ letter to Utne is one of the best analyses of civility I have ever read. Golfus said, in part,

    Lucy Gwin faxed me her protest about the Utne Reader awarding MOUTH something or other with a pat on the head. Your response that she was ‘alienating people’ was the Minnesota Nice Liberal cliche. We have to stand up and scream about some wrongs. c.f. Camus’ The Rebel. Remember that not-nice Nobel Prize winner?

    Slavery is wrong. Period. Alienating people while protesting owning other human beings seems inevitable when there are people who believe in slavery.

    OR you could be nice and say there are two sides to every argument.

    Killing people in gas chambers and then hiding the evidence in crematoriums is hideous. Period. Alienating people who believe that racial cleansing is right seems inevitable.

    OR you could be nice and say everyone has a right to their own point of view.

    Taking an indigenous people’s land away and then locking them up on reservations is wrong. Period. (You see the pattern.)

    The Citizen’s Alliance of the Nouveau Riche in Minneapolis – with their nice and genteel ways – kept working wages here 15 percent below the rest of the country for a quarter of a century until the truck strike of 1934 when labor finally won against management. They proved David could win against Goliath if he didn’t mind alienating people.

    A lot of oppression comes dressed nicely, and shops at Lund’s.

    The posters here, along with Nisbet, have successfully reframed the issue from “Creationists deliberately lie to spread ignorance among the susceptible” to “PZ has a potty mouth.” They do so in the name of that fake civility Golfus rightly decries.

    How is “fuck you” not an appropriate response to that, from anyone in favor of scientific literacy?

  99. #99 H.H.
    March 24, 2008

    Dr. Myers should refrain from using profanity which undermines his argument.

    And what argument has PZ ever made that is undermined by his use of profanity?

    Are you sure it’s not some argument of yours that’s being undermined?

  100. #100 MH
    March 24, 2008

    A Google site search for “fuck” on ScienceBlogs returns 1,750 results. Will we be seeing Sheril tell other bloggers off for their ‘potty mouths’?

  101. #101 Jody
    March 24, 2008

    Chris, I have to disagree.

    As a writer, it’s fairly easy to tell Dr. Nisbett used many, many, many words to say to PZ what PZ said to Dr. Nisbett with very few.

  102. #102 Jon Winsor
    March 24, 2008

    The Citizen’s Alliance of the Nouveau Riche in Minneapolis – with their nice and genteel ways – kept working wages here 15 percent below the rest of the country…

    Look, I’ve lived in areas with low wages. This is a freaking argument between a social science PHD, a biology PHD, and a journalist with two published books. No one is going without health care. No one is going without a living wage. They disagree. Matt Nisbett and Chris Mooney are not oppressing PZ Myers. And to act as if they are is… adolescent.

  103. #103 PZ Myers
    March 24, 2008

    It is petty and childish to whine about a profanity in a post (and who defines what is profanity? Ben Stein daubing himself with the ashes of Dachau to proclaim the moral superiority of Christian ignorance is by far a greater obscenity than anything I have ever said, yet where is your outrage there?), while ignoring the substance of the disagreement.

    Matt Nisbet has told me and Richard Dawkins to shut up, stop speaking out, and defer to his chosen religious apologists in future discussions. How insulting, how patronizing, how arrogant of him … and how ignorant. Would you prefer that I rip him apart at length and in detail, with relish and exuberant vigor, as long as I didn’t use a single four letter word? I could do it, you know, and I would have a phenomenally good time, and I would leave you and Chris and Matt far more angry than you are at my crude dismissal. I would happily open the spigot on the flamethrower wide open, and expand a war of rhetoric the Nisbet began with his oh-so-genteel accusations and demands for censorship.

    I was being fucking kind to simply suggest that we fuck all that noise.

  104. #104 Chris Clarke
    March 24, 2008

    Jon Winsor: I agree. Good thing that’s not at all what I was saying.

  105. #105 Jon Winsor
    March 24, 2008

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I have here Nisbet saying that he never told anyone to “shut up.”

    I swear, this is just like the feminists in the early 90′s going to lectures with police whistles shouting “patriarchy” when someone says the wrong thing. Victimized identity politics, all over again.

  106. #106 Anon
    March 24, 2008

    Winsor: You know that the cite you give is 6 months old?

  107. #107 Linda
    March 24, 2008

    Snow Dog:
    The TONE of a thought, a message, an exchange of information and ideas, certainly does mean a lot in its interpretation and acceptance. That is elementary.
    UWash:
    I very much agree with what you say.
    Chris and Sheril:
    Go forward to better things.

  108. #108 Brownian, OM
    March 24, 2008

    Correct me if I’m wrong

    Yup. You’re wrong. He said that, but read this post.

    I’ll highlight the important bits.

    As long as Dawkins and PZ continue to be the representative voices from the pro-science side in this debate, it is really bad for those of us who care about promoting public trust in science and science education. Dawkins and PZ need to lay low as Expelled hits theaters. Let others play the role of communicator, most importantly the National Center for Science Education, AAAS, the National Academies or scientists such as Francis Ayala or Ken Miller. When called up by reporters or asked to comment, Dawkins and PZ should refer journalists to these organizations and individuals.

    If Dawkins and PZ really care about countering the message of The Expelled camp, they need to play the role of Samantha Power, Geraldine Ferraro and so many other political operatives who through misstatements and polarizing rhetoric have ended up being liabilities to the causes and campaigns that they support. Lay low and let others do the talking.

    I swear, this is just like the sexist apologists of the early 90s who claimed every woman not satisfied living under a glass ceiling was a dangerous radical feminist.

  109. #109 Jon Winsor
    March 24, 2008

    If he did tell Myers to “shut up,” then I stand corrected.

  110. #110 Chris C. Mooney
    March 24, 2008

    PZ,

    Substance: I don’t want you to shut up. You are a great writer. I have loved your reviews of both of my books. In each case, they have been the *best* reviews out there.

    Substance: I think Nisbet has important and thoughtful things to say about tactics. I wish you felt likewise.

    Substance: I do think that Expelled could benefit via controversy. I hope you’ll consider that possibility.

    Style: But in any event, yes, I wish you would disagree on substance alone, because your tone signals to all your many readers (see the nastiness above) that this kind of talk is okay.

    And it isn’t–or at least, it shouldn’t be. And I think deep down we agree about that.

    cm

  111. #111 PZ Myers
    March 24, 2008

    How about a more current post?

    When called up by reporters or asked to comment, Dawkins and PZ should refer journalists to these organizations and individuals.

    If Dawkins and PZ really care about countering the message of The Expelled camp, they need to play the role of Samantha Power, Geraldine Ferraro and so many other political operatives who through misstatements and polarizing rhetoric have ended up being liabilities to the causes and campaigns that they support. Lay low and let others do the talking.

    So Richard and PZ, when it comes to Expelled, it’s time to let other people be the messengers for science.

    Nisbet couldn’t possibly simply say “shut up”. He needs to expand it to 98 words. Good thing he didn’t use any naughty words, though, or he might have thrown a few people into a tizzy.

  112. #112 Jon Winsor
    March 24, 2008

    It’s one thing to say it’s bad advice and I’m not going to take it. Saying “fuck you” is a different kind of response, isn’t it?

  113. #113 pedlar
    March 24, 2008

    Jon Winsor:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, …

    Why would we bother? You’re really not that important.

  114. #114 usagi
    March 24, 2008

    That kind of language and reaction is simply unacceptable on and off the blogosphere.

    Sheril, sorry but your basic premise is incorrect. There is a time and place for everything, and this was a time that profanity was a perfectly appropriate response.

    then this is not a dialogue I want to be part of.

    Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

    In all the time I’ve been reading ScienceBlogs, I’ve never seen such fundamental stupidity running around as this kerfuffle. Nisbet was wrong, stupidly wrong, in his initial post. The whines (and they are nothing but pearl-clutching whines) for an apology from PZ for his completely appropriate response are painful to read.

    As Molly Ivins used to say, when you’re stuck in a hole, the first step is stop digging.

  115. #115 Anon
    March 24, 2008

    WInsor: To tell a scientist that he should censor himself and be quiet is, as a matter of fact, really stupid, and invites exactly the reaction that we saw. (I would probably react the same.)

    If you have a problem with PZs blog or tactics, there is one obvious solution: start your own blog, and beat him in popularity.

  116. #116 Anon
    March 24, 2008

    Chris Mooney: You say “Substance: I do think that Expelled could benefit via controversy. I hope you’ll consider that possibility.”

    Have you thought about how much Expelled can benefit from the rivalry within its oppposition (i.e. the Evolution camp) that you and Nisbet have fuelled?

  117. #117 Matt Penfold
    March 24, 2008

    “I bet Sheril liked Trainspotting if she saw it. The point is that something can be fine in one context and show a complete lack of self awareness in another. (You can probably think of an example–this is pretty basic stuff.)”

    To quote Sheril directly: “That kind of language and reaction is simply unacceptable on and off the blogosphere”

    She clearly would disapprove, unless she was lying when she said that.

    As I have pointed out, and Sigmund when he quoted Larkin, she is quite simply wrong she claims it is also unacceptable. She clearly has no love of English literature as a fair bit of it makes use of profanity. Even Shakespeare and Chaucer use profanity, although you do need to understand English usage of their time to know that.

    It all goes to show how pathetic she is. The poor little prude cannot cope with people using nasty words.

  118. #118 Jon Winsor
    March 24, 2008

    Why would we bother? You’re really not that important.

    You mean I don’t have a science PHD, or a blog where I tell other PHDs “fuck you”? Is that what makes you “important”? Interesting thought process there. Who did you learn that from?

  119. #119 Linda
    March 24, 2008

    Matt Penfold:
    Sorry I did not address your comment too. I group everyone together, that is to say, exchange of ideas, GREAT!
    Exchange of insults, diminishes the message.

  120. #120 Matt Penfold
    March 24, 2008

    Chris,

    Has it not occurred to you thatif what Nisbett had to say has got people all annoyed then maybe the frame he used is at fault ? And if one of the main proponents of framing is so useless at it then maybe it needs more work ? And that you owe us all an apology for supporting someone who cannot act as he demands others do ? Why should you and Nisbett demand PZ and Dawkins work in the frame you demand they do when you cannot even get a good frame working for yourself ?

  121. #121 snow dog
    March 24, 2008

    The TONE of a thought, a message, an exchange of information and ideas, certainly does mean a lot in its interpretation and acceptance. That is elementary.

    Yes, you obviously care much more about the TONE than the substance of a message. That’s exactly what I said in my comment. How very self-limiting of you.

    As H.H. pointed out in his comment:

    “Give me coarse truth over mannered bullshit every time.”

    I’d prefer the truth, regardless of whether there’s an F-bomb there or not. Linda, you would much prefer a lie couched in genteel language, simply because you can’t have your delicate little ears hurt.

  122. #122 Brownian
    March 24, 2008

    You mean I don’t have a science PHD, or a blog where I tell other PHDs “fuck you”? Is that what makes you “important”? Interesting thought process there. Who did you learn that from?

    Yes, subtle innuendo and indignant sarcasm is certainly much more preferable to a straight-forward “fuck you”.

    If anyone sees the help, I wonder if they’d be so kind as to send them by to freshen my tea. My word, can’t a man without corduroy patches on his tweed jacket find decent service these days?

  123. #123 ponderingfool
    March 24, 2008

    This maybe missed in all these comments, but why did Nisbet blog about this? Why didn’t he just contact Myers via e-mail? Wouldn’t that have been more productive?

    Lets be honest we can’t control the actions of others. Why are Sheril, Chris, and Matt spending all this time writing blog posts attacking Dawkins and Myers for saying anything? Reality check you knew they would. Why not I don’t know frame the events? You know actually lead; show how it is done.

    Why aren’t these communicators of science communicating science?

    Why instead do they give fodder to the IDiots? Ironically doing exactly what they accuse Myers and Dawkins doing?

  124. #124 PZ Myers
    March 24, 2008

    Chris, I thought Nisbet had something of value to say, too — I was initially quite interested in his suggestions for better tactics, until I began to see a pattern. He has no knack for tactics, nor is he even trying. He has a point of view, like we all do, but instead of arguing for it honestly, he prefers to wrap himself up in these vague ideas about communication and declare himself the arbiter of all speech, entirely as a tool to promote himself. I tried; I asked him to objectively give us some better framing tactics for promoting atheism, for instance, and instead he simply told us that we can’t.

    We’re seeing the same thing now. Here’s this creationist propaganda film coming out, and is he (or you, or Sheril) making any helpful suggestions on how to counter it? No. The answer again is sit down and shut up, and let Ayala and Miller handle it. How about a productive suggestion for a change? How about helping people communicate their position more effectively (which would impress me) rather than doing absolutely nothing to advance any position and telling any activist to be silent?

    More and more I’m seeing that he has these pretensions that he can dictate to everyone how they should communicate, but he seems to have absolutely no talent for communicating himself.

  125. #125 Anon
    March 24, 2008

    ponderingfool: That was exactly the thinking behind my question to C. Mooney above.

    For all their purported expertise in communication, they do not seem to be very skilled in strategy and tactics…

  126. #126 snow dog
    March 24, 2008

    PZ, you’re just flaming asshole. Suck my dick.

    Hmm, I can’t wait to find out if the delicate little flowers who find PZ’s use of the word “fuck” (and the overall tone of his message) offensive will get themselves in a tizzy over gw’s lovely message! Or is it okay that gw said it, because he doesn’t like PZ?

  127. #127 Coin
    March 24, 2008

    Substance: I do think that Expelled could benefit via controversy. I hope you’ll consider that possibility.

    Chris, this doesn’t really work. Your participation in this flamewar has gone way, way beyond just saying “Expelled could benefit via controversy”, in that you have linked and endorsed Nisbet’s comments and overall sent a strong message that Nisbet speaks for you on this subject– and Nisbet said a lot more than you did.

    You can’t endorse statements like Nisbet’s, and then when people get upset try to retreat to some more reasonable position (like “well just consider, maybe controversy is good for Ben Stein” or whatever). If you’re actually desiring to get people to focus on substance and calm down from slinging epithets, you need to be clear about what it is you are and aren’t saying. Otherwise you and Sheril are just playing the old good cop/bad cop routine with youall as the good cops and Nisbet as the bad cop. And nobody takes that routine seriously.

  128. #128 Linda
    March 24, 2008

    Snow Dog:
    One last attempt,
    Perhaps you are ‘self-limiting’. I am not talking about someones ‘truth’ or ‘bullshit’, that is for the reader to decide. I am talking about the way in which the writer conveys their truth or bullshit, as I said before, it sets a tone for the ears and intellect.

  129. #129 Brad Hudson
    March 24, 2008

    I’m not a scientist, but I love science. I’m an avid reader of ScienceBlogs, but I don’t think I’ve been driven to comment before. And I’ve enjoyed the back and forth over framing. Seems to me that open disagreement is one of the virtues of science.

    But the folks here at the Intersection seem to me to be confusing substance with form. When Matt publicly told PZ and Dawkins to sit down and shut up, his substantive rudeness far exceeded the formal rudeness of PZ’s response. It doesn’t matter whether you say it nicely — sit down and shut up is about as rude as it gets.

    I’ve got no dog in the hunt other than my desire to have my kids learn science in the science classroom. But Matt’s posts, together with the follow-ups from Chris and Sheril, lead me to seriously question whether they really have any idea as to what they are doing. How much common sense does it take to know that you don’t want to write the lead article for Uncommon Descent?

    And the public demands for apologies simply make them look childish. I’d suggest the folks here at the Intersection grow some thicker skins. It can be a nasty, hard-hitting world, and an F-you is far from the worst they will ever see.

  130. #130 Norman Doering
    March 24, 2008

    ponderingfool pondered:

    Why are Sheril, Chris, and Matt spending all this time writing blog posts attacking Dawkins and Myers for saying anything? Reality check you knew they would.

    It’s like asking a leopard to change its spots, isn’t it?

    Why instead do they give fodder to the IDiots? Ironically doing exactly what they accuse Myers and Dawkins doing?

    Well, Nisbet’s article made the front page of Uncommon Descent and not because they were criticizing him. The screen writer for Expelled loves to link all three.

    Nisbet can complain about most of us following PZ and Dawkin’s lead, but its our choice whose lead we follow. The only way he any one can claim “the title” (prominent Spokespeople for Science) is to inspire us.

    If PZ ever did change his spots a lot of us would walk out on him and go elsewhere — and not to Nisbet.

    PZ is not their problem — we are.

  131. #131 David Marjanović
    March 24, 2008

    Go here, read, and laugh. And then read comments 37 and 69 on that page — 69 was written by one of the blog’s in-house creationists.

    And then ask yourself who has succeeded in framing Expelledgate in which ways.

    A Google site search for “fuck” on ScienceBlogs returns 1,750 results.

    :-D

  132. #132 M.
    March 24, 2008

    Mooney, Nisbet, Ms. Kirshenbaum.

    PZ and Dawkins have successfuly framed the issue of “Expelled”, by showing its producers to be hypocritical liars, and by making utter fools of them. People are laughing at their blundering, and if you are the “communication experts” you claim to be, you know that few things are as destructive to a political side as mocking laughter is.

    However, since they didn’t ask Mr. Nisbet for his seal of approval first, and did not follow his rules (which, as far as I can see, boil down to doing nothing), you decided you can’t let it stand.

    So you are now reframing this as an example of atheist intolerance and aggression. Whereas a day ago science was on the winning side, now you have managed to muddle the water enough so that bottom-feeders of the DI can pretend to be the wronged side.

    Congratulations! You have indeed demonstrated that you can successfuly frame an issue. Too bad that you keep doing so for the wrong side.

    Or…perhaps you have demonstrated that framing – being a political concept, based on demagoguery – always works to support those things that are based on demagoguery as well (such as the entire program of the DI). Fact-based entities, such as science, will always lose in this context.

    Hm, I’ll have to think about that a bit.

    And the pretense of this post – pretending to take issue with language (when stronger words have been used before, and when Nisbet’s diatribe is far more insulting to PZ then any curse word), and then childishly insisting upon it…

    So here’s my take on it. First of all, fuck. See, it’s a word. Won’t kill you. Second…dude! You are asking us to put you forward as an expert in communication. But when communicating to a frickin’ friendly audience – you manage to alienate it within a year. Completely. All scientists were loving you a few years ago. Now you are almost universally regarded as an idiot by association (to the idiot by substance, Nisbet).

    And we are now supposed to send you out to talk to an UNfriendly audience next?

    Judging from this latest series of debacles, if we let you frame the issue of evolution, this country will have legally enforced creationism teaching in schools within a few years. Where in the world do you get the chutzpah to present yourself as communication experts?

    How about you follow Nisbet’s advice, and let someone else be the spokesperson for science? Perhaps someone competent?

  133. #133 Brownian, OM
    March 24, 2008

    Linda, I believe you’ve got a point, but it cuts both ways. I live in a town with a lot of intellectuals as well as blue collar non-intellectuals. I’ve successfully defended science (and even–horrors!–social science research) to people who’ll write you off as an effete liberal homosexual if you don’t drop an F-bomb within the first few minutes of the conversation. You guys want to talk about communicating science? There’s a whole group out there who don’t trust us. But they see us as human when we let our guards down, and that’s a good thing. (Hey, even Feynman frequented strip clubs.)

    You want to communicate science effectively? Demanding we all raise our pinkies as we sip our afternoon Earl Grey sure as fuck won’t broaden the appeal of science.

    You don’t have to swear. But some of us have done very well for ourselves and the causes we believe in by pulling the sticks out of our asses and getting a little gutteral on occasion.

  134. #134 snow dog
    March 24, 2008

    Linda, I give up. You’re just too dense. Although, I admit, your responses have given me much needed comic relief today :)

  135. #135 Doctor T
    March 24, 2008

    The substance in what you are saying can be lost in how you say it. Personally, whenever anyone starts cursing in their posts, I stop reading. I assume if they had anything worthwhile to read they wouldn’t need to result to shock-value to attract attention.

  136. #136 Tatarize
    March 24, 2008

    PZ wasn’t “telling our fellow bloggers to *%$! themselves,” as Mooney accuses him of doing. He said, “fuck you very much.” — There’s a major difference.

    The underlying tone of Nisbet’s “advice” to PZ is “shut the fuck up” and typically one thanks a person for “advice”, ergo the parallelism with “thank you very much”. It is noteworthy to point out that by Mooney using ‘fuck’ as a direct sexual verb, he’s actually being very unfair to PZ. If you look at the sentence PZ is using fuck as a stand-in for the transitive verb “thank”, in order to directly mock the underlying tone of Nisbet’s advice.

    I think Mooney’s assessment of the statement is completely out of context and a major mischaracterization. If I said that an idea was “absofuckinglutly stupid”. It would be wrong to say I told the the person with that idea to “go fuck themselves” — such a mischaracterization would be absofuckinglutly stupid.

  137. #137 Joe Shelby
    March 24, 2008

    Tatarize: the FCC would disagree with you, given their stance in the upcoming Supreme Court case.

    Yeah, don’t mean diddly, but you get my meaning – some people really can’t take that word for anything other than its sexual connotations, no matter how its used.

  138. #138 Davis
    March 24, 2008

    I assume if they had anything worthwhile to read they wouldn’t need to result to shock-value to attract attention.

    Then you don’t understand taboo language. Go read some Steven Pinker and set yourself straight, and stop smugly writing people off simply because they use words you don’t like.

  139. #139 Brain Hertz
    March 24, 2008

    Chris, Matt, Sheril,
    if you could, please provide the response that you think PZ should have provided to being told to lie low and shut up (about as arrogant and offensive request as I can think of, btw)? I’m not asking you to provide an answer which is merely syntactically or lexicographically different (the latter of which you seem to have your collective panties in a bunch about), but one which is actually sematically different.

    What would have been a more “appropriate” response to such a request? Really?

    Frankly, I’m buggered if I can think of one.

  140. #140 Brain Hertz
    March 24, 2008

    @ Joe Shelby,
    that’s because the FCC can be absofuckinglutely stupid sometimes.

  141. #141 Joe Shelby
    March 24, 2008

    “Brain” – don’t have to tell me twice. I knew that since my first George Carlin record 23 years ago. :)

  142. #142 Chris Clarke
    March 24, 2008

    PZ is not their problem — we are.

    And the degree to which they don’t get that is shown above in Chris’ statement to PZ about “see what your fans do now that you’ve set profanity as an acceptable tone.”

    He seems incapable of seeing us as anything other than sheep waiting for a pretty frame to jump through.

  143. #143 gerald spezio
    March 24, 2008

    There are some real life or death problems in the world.

    As some of the most public science bloggers masturbate linguistically and imitate the English Department in all its literary glory, the planet hurtles toward doom carrying us all.

    Let’s try to keep our eyes on the ball.

  144. #144 Colugo
    March 24, 2008

    PZ Myers: “Ben Stein daubing himself with the ashes of Dachau to proclaim the moral superiority of Christian ignorance is by far a greater obscenity than anything I have ever said”

    Actually, Stein is Jewish, as are David Berlinski and Gerald Schroeder, two other IDists featured in Expelled.

    That’s one of my problems with Expelled: it makes Jews look stupid.

  145. #145 femalesci
    March 24, 2008

    Right, because they should just shut up and play nice and not talk too loud or use bad words until everyone comes around to their side. Because, you know, being bitchy or strident won’t get you anywhere.

    Heard that before? Most of the rest of female scientists have. Did you notice it doesn’t work?

    Science is at a frightening crossroads and I for one am glad we have PZ to fight for us, even I don’t always agree with everything he says or does. PZ has the right to express himself how he wishes. If I wanted crap MSM I wouldn’t read blogs. PZ is still fundamentally non-violent in his approach, which is appropriate, and I think he’s entitled to tell the Framers where to shove it in this case.

  146. #146 Gordon S
    March 24, 2008

    It didn’t offend me. It was a dismissive statement, and it included naught cuss words. BFD.

    Myers has gone head to head versus the same arguments before in an entirely respectful tone, multiple times. We know perfectly well where he stands on those issues, and he hardly needs to expound on it any more.

    Then again, I agree with a post a few months ago by Larry Moran, making the argument that Nisbet is an enemy of science, so maybe that’s tainting things. I think Nisbet is always, and Mooney when the opportunity arises, are the most glorious concern trolls this side of the Kansas Homeschooling Association.

  147. #147 Gordon S
    March 24, 2008

    Also my grammar are hurting.

  148. #148 PhysioProf
    March 24, 2008

    I’m not sure exactly who said what to whom about what. But I am here to stick up for “fuck”. Saying “fuck” a lot kicks fucking ass!

  149. #149 DrugMonkey
    March 24, 2008

    I’m offended.

  150. #150 inkadu
    March 24, 2008

    Rules for sanity in politics:

    1. You can only control your own actions.

    Therefore:

    If you have something to contribute, contribute it.

    If you think you can do something better, do it.

    If someone is doing something you think is wrong, tell them, then let it go. You can’t control them.

    Telling people to shut up is a waste of time.

    Telling people to shut up about shutting up is equally a waste of time.

    Cheers.

  151. #151 SLC
    March 24, 2008

    The bottom line here is that Mr. Mooney and Dr. Kirshenbaum are entitled to run their blog any way they see fit. If they don’t want the f word and other profanities used here that’s their privilege. By the same token, If PZ Myers and Ed Brayton use profanity (and to be fair, Prof. Myers rarely uses swear words) and allow commentors to use profanity on their blogs, that’s also their privilege. Thus far, there are no FCC regulations about use of profanity on the internet. My suggestion to Dr. Kirshenbaum is that if she objects to the use of swear words, she should confine her web browsing activities to those sites where such language is verboten (e.g. Jason Rosenhouse, Phil Plait, etc.).

  152. #152 Orac
    March 24, 2008

    I don’t think there was any intent to suggest that PZ and Dawkins are like racists. Do you? If so, obviously, that’s not appropriate.

    If that’s the case, then why did he choose that particular example? Maybe it was subconscious.

    Beyond that I’ll let Matt defend himself. Now, how about the swearing?

    I find it very odd that you and Sheril never said anything about the liberal use of the “f-word” on ScienceBlogs before now. As has been pointed out above, it’s not like it’s traditionally been an uncommon occurrence around here. Yet now Sheril makes a big deal out of it and you join in. Either she hasn’t been reading SBs much, or the real reason she wrote this laughably self-righteous post is that PZ directed the word at a friend of yours with whom you’ve collaborated.

    As for my blog, I do not generally use the F-word, but I do not censor it either. I think I may have used it maybe once in the entire three year history of my blog. I also agree that sometimes it’s not an entirely inappropriate response. In this case, Matt basically told Myers and Dawkins to shut up. There’s no getting around it, that’s what he said, and quite frankly I find that more offensive than Myers’ response. Also, as someone who’s routinely worked to combat Holocaust denial, in this case I agree with PZ that Ben Stein’s emoting and bad acting at Dachau in his attempt to link Darwinism to the Holocaust are far more offensive than the use of an f-bomb. Quite frankly, if Nisbet’s post had been directed at me, I would have been seriously tempted to respond the way that PZ did. I probably wouldn’t have, but I would have been seriously tempted.

  153. #153 notsobad
    March 24, 2008

    Oh noes, he used the f-word!
    Everything is OK as long as you offend people with euphemisms. But to actually be honest and say what you really think, that’s a big no-no in your world of pretension and hypocrisy.

  154. #154 PhysioProf
    March 24, 2008

    I’m offended.

    Fucking blogwhore.

  155. #155 Tara C. Smith
    March 24, 2008

    It seems to me, that although you two argue constantly, Matt has always treated you with decorum and respect.

    I’ve stayed out of this framing mess, but Matt lost a lot of respect from me with the whole “Don Imus atheism” characterization of PZ. Personally, I prefer the blunt “fuck off” over Matt’s “framing” of PZ’s position.

  156. #156 Jim Lippard
    March 24, 2008

    Chris Mooney: “As for the rest of you, I have been blogging since 2001, and this is the most I’ve ever found myself questioning whether it’s worth it. If we can’t even stop swearing at each other, we’re really lost.”

    “I’m taking my frame and going home” isn’t going to make people feel bad and agree with you.

    If I were in a firestorm like this (and I’ve been in them before, though never of my own making), I would write a summary of the situation in which I attempted to show the details of both my own position and my opponents’ position, showing where they agree and disagree, and making any concessions where I’ve said things in error. This serves to show that you do actually understand what your opponent is saying (something which seems to be lacking on your part, based on your replies which continue to fan or even pour gasoline on the flames), as well as identify common ground and circumscribe points of disagreement.

  157. #157 Russell Blackford
    March 24, 2008

    I have totally lost any respect for Nisbet and any sense of his being a member of the party of reason. His call for PZ to “lay [sic] low” (he uses this expression twice so it’s not a typo; he really is illiterate) was totally uncalled for.

    I’d have preferred it if PZ had said the above, but, hey, it’s no big deal.

  158. #158 Dave
    March 24, 2008

    PZ Meyers has long been considered one of the best assets for the other side, precisely because he’s so vitriolic. It would be difficult for anyone impartial to visit Pharyngula and not come away with the impression that the guy (and lots of the visitors to his site) is a hostile, in your face, jerk. Sorry to put it bluntly, but he isn’t doing anyone any favors. Mooney and Nisbet are right on this one, and if people really want the public to be persuaded by evolutionary theory, they’re going to need a change of the guard.

  159. #159 ab
    March 24, 2008

    That this post was ever written is pathetic. I agree that PZ could have written a more mature reply, but the reality is that Matt told PZ to “shut the fuck up”, he just left one of the words out. If you think, yes that is the point, you are missing the point.

    I’m not sure when this blog became the official strategy center of the glorious evolution party, but as one who first started reading SciBlogs because of this blog, I have to say that I’ve had enough of it. Chris and Matt have gone beyond giving helpful advice to being hostile to those who decline to accept that advice. It is both tiring and pointless.

    Chris, I think you need to either accept that PZ and company are NEVER going to come around to your point of view and get off the topic, or accept the fact that you and Matt are not actually on the same side as PZ and friends because you are fighting for entirely different outcomes. Nitpicking about a dirty word makes your side seem small and petty.

  160. #160 Janus
    March 24, 2008

    Nisbet has essentially told Myers to shut his trap. That’s just as rude as the use of the F word. The only difference is that one has the outwards appearance of politeness, if one doesn’t bother to look deeper. But then that’s what Nisbet and Mooney are all about, isn’t it? Appearances. Putting a pretty shine on things. Framing.

  161. #161 Roy Hinkley
    March 24, 2008

    Wow, this is all starting to sound like dailykos.com. The GBCW diaries should begin any moment.

  162. #162 Wes
    March 24, 2008

    The “framing” approach seems to have lost the support of every SciBlogger who’s commented so far who isn’t named “Chris”, “Sheril” or “Matt”.

    The three of you need to uncircle your wagons and evaluate the effectiveness of your approach. You’re so obsessed with your dubious theory of what “alienates” the public that you’ve failed to notice that you are alienating yourselves from your fellows.

    PZ, Afarensis, Orac, John Lynch, Brian Switek, Tara Smith, John Wilkins, DrugMonkey, Greg Laden, Mark Hoofnagel, Jason Rosenhouse, Jake Young, Coturnix, and probably more I haven’t noticed yet (in addition to non-SciBloggers like Phil Plait and Sean Carrol) have all been saying the same thing: Your approach here is deeply misguided.

    You’re alienating your intended audience (scientists who want to communicate with the public). You call yourselves “communication experts” and feel you can lecture everyone else on when they can speak, what they can say, when they should apologize, what type of language is appropriate, what type of comments help whom and how…

    Are you paying attention? Are you noticing what you’ve done? Do you see just how miserably your efforts here have failed? Do you not see the irony in your lecturing your fellows about their supposed failures of communication and alienation of peers?

    To be perfectly frank, I really don’t care so much about Sheril and Nisbet. I’ve always found their commentary to be vapid and condescending, and when they go off the deep I just ignore them. But I always liked and respected Chris and I’m utterly baffled (and disappointed) that he’s participating in this clusterfuck–I can’t just ignore him. Please pay attention to just how much you’ve alienated others with your behavior in these “So-and-so needs to defer comments to the NSCE” and “So-and-so needs to apologize” exercises–all the while shouting at others for how alienating their rhetoric is and how they supposedly don’t communicate well. You’re failing miserably at the very thing you denigrate others for not doing. How can you not see that?

    I want the old Mooney back. You’re too smart and too talented for these farcical pseudo-dramas. Let this shit go and focus on the real issues.

  163. #163 Jim RL
    March 24, 2008

    The f-word!? Oh, noes! Will someone please think of the children!?

    Matt acted like a condescending prick telling a prominent scienceblogger to shut up about a situation he was directly involved in, but PZ used the f-word. If Matt cared half as much about actually winning the evolution debate as did about arguing with PZ to up his hit count then he would have realized what a perfect framing opportunity this is. Every other person in the science blogosphere seemed to realize it, but Matt had to put his problems with PZ and Dawkins before actually winning the evolution debate. He didn’t use the f-word, though. How admirable.

  164. #164 H.H.
    March 24, 2008

    But in any event, yes, I wish you would disagree on substance alone, because your tone signals to all your many readers (see the nastiness above) that this kind of talk is okay.

    And it isn’t–or at least, it shouldn’t be. And I think deep down we agree about that.

    Ah, the old “deep down you know I’m right” argument.

    “Deep down” atheists know there really is a god.

    “Deep down” feminists want to be mothers and housewives.

    “Deep down” adults know swear words are totally unacceptable.

    No, Chris, I think the lesson you should take away from all this is that most people (even those on this very site) don’t agree with you, deep down or anywhere else. Most adults know there is a time and place for strong language, and utterly reject your supposition that such language is always intolerable. My hope is that you now incorporate this newly learned fact into your worldview.

  165. #165 Norman Doering
    March 24, 2008

    Well, Chris, Sheril and Matt, you guys may be getting hammered now but if you’re right and we’re all wrong, if Expelled turns out to be the next “Birth of a Nation” or “Triumph of the Will,” then you’ll have quite a feather for your cap.

  166. #166 Crow
    March 25, 2008

    Sheril,

    I’m with you on this one. I don’t mind the language so much; what I mind is the knee-jerk reaction from Myers and 95% of the blog commenters who seem to feel that we should not even be having the conversation “Is PZ Myers doing good or harm for science education in the United States today?”

    When proving one’s “party loyalty” becomes more important than intelligent discussion of tactics, it’s clear the party no longer stands for what it once did. They’ve become pigs wearing pants.

    -Crow

  167. #167 Chris Clarke
    March 25, 2008

    what I mind is the knee-jerk reaction from Myers and 95% of the blog commenters who seem to feel that we should not even be having the conversation “Is PZ Myers doing good or harm for science education in the United States today?”

    That’s a dishonest retelling of what this conversation is.

    I’d be fine having that particular conversation. (I wouldn’t be too shocked if PZ would be fine having that particular conversation.) I consider PZ as good a friend as anyone I’ve neither met nor had cybersex with, and there are times when I disagree with his approach. There are times when I would really rather read about something other than how deluded religionists are. And I AGREE that they’re deluded, most of the time.

    That’s not what this conversation is. This conversation is about

    1) Nisbet being too lazy or untalented, or both, to compete with PZ and Dawkins in the marketplace of ideas, and therefore telling them they need to shut up rather than providing a compelling counter-argument, thus shifting the frame from “Godbags lie” to “atheists’ opinions are unconstructive and therefore anathema”;

    2) Chris’ admirable though utterly misplaced loyalty for his friend Nisbet utterly blinds him to the astoundingly offensive and combative move in #1, allowing him to brand PZ’s intemperate response as The Real Issue Here, thus further shifting the frame from “Godbags lie” to “PZ is MEEN”;

    3) Sheril, who seems like a good smart person, apparently hops on the loyalty bandwagon, likewise ignoring Nisbet’s atrocious behavior and focusing on a naughty word whose target utterly deserved worse language;

    4) A handful of PZ PartiZans, understandably upset, make things marginally worse by using obnoxious sexism to express themselves, unnecessarily undermining the validity of PZ’s position, thus

    5) solidifying the effect of Nisbet’s tantrum in providing aid and cover to the creationists, and putting his loyal friends in the sad role of being Ignorance’s Attachés.

    You want to have the discussion of whether PZ’s doing harm or good for science education in the US today? So do I. It would be a potentially constructive and welcome relief from this crap. And like I said, it wouldn’t shock me to see sometime in the next couple days that PZ had read this comment and made “PZ: Threat or Menace” a topic for discussion on Pharyngula.

    Because abrasive as he himself admits he sometimes is, the guy’s got integrity. I can think of a few people who ought to consider emulating him.

  168. #168 Jim RL
    March 25, 2008

    Crow,

    How do you get that PZ is the one stifling conversation? Nisbet was the one who told him to “lay low”. The truth is, PZ has addressed Nisbet’s claim at length and without profanity in the past.

    PZ is a blogger. He obviously likes voicing his opinions. He is also good at it, and has quite a following. For someone to arrogantly and repeatedly demand that he shut up must be incredibly frustrating. Nisbet deserved the exact response he got, and PZ was no less polite than Nisbet.

  169. #169 H.H.
    March 25, 2008

    Crow, we are having that conversation. Your side is losing.

  170. #170 Coin
    March 25, 2008

    Crow, I see plenty of people in this discussion who don’t like PZ and/or don’t think his tactics are good for science yet agree that the Nisbet camp is simply wrong on this. PZ didn’t do anything wrong either last Friday or in his public discussions of the event, Nisbet did several noteworthy things wrong in his attacks on PZ over this, and Intersection’s attempts to defend Nisbet from attack have accomplished absolutely nothing either inside or outside scienceblogs except making the Intersection authors look bad. In this particular case it is PZ who has been acting in the best interests of science, and Nisbet has been the one who has been acting against the best interests of science to further his own personal agendas.

    I don’t know if you follow this site closely, but these PZ Versus Somebody flamewars come up about once every other month. Usually the site kind of splits with some persons supporting PZ and some persons supporting Somebody (usually this is Nisbet). But I have never seen the entire site take one side anything like the way has happened here. You should consider that there is probably a reason for this.

  171. #171 DrugMonkey
    March 25, 2008

    You’re so obsessed with your dubious theory of what “alienates” the public that you’ve failed to notice that you are alienating yourselves from your fellows.

    PZ, Afarensis, Orac, John Lynch, Brian Switek, Tara Smith, John Wilkins, DrugMonkey…have all been saying the same thing: Your approach here is deeply misguided.

    For the record, Wes, I’ve said nothing on the issue of “framing”. or at least not on this particular issue of “framing”. I’ve been interested in the nature of “taking offense” to certain expressive phrases and words.

    I find the notion that the majority of workaday adult conversation in the US specifically excludes the word “fuck” to be laughable. “unacceptable on and off the blogosphere” ? Not in my experience.

  172. #172 Mobyseven
    March 25, 2008

    Holy overreaction Batman!

    You aren’t seriously trying to take the moral high ground because someone *shock!* used a naughty word after you told him and his friend essentially to shutup and not talk to the media or publicly criticize factual innaccuracies and intellectual dishonesty, regardless of whether or not they are telling the truth?

    Seriously?

    Stop acting so fucking (look, a naughty word!) offended. You offended PZ and he went right back and returned the favour. The only difference is that he was more concise in doing so.

  173. #173 Lee
    March 25, 2008

    Jon Winsor:
    “…Trainspotting…

    Good movie. But it involves adolescents, not scientists with PHD’s.”

    I have to say, anyone who doesn’t know that scientists with PhD’s frequently speak in a manner that would be right at home in trainspotting, has simply not spent much time among scientists with PhDs.

  174. #174 Duae Quartunciae
    March 25, 2008

    I don’t like bad language like this; but is a stylistic concern. Matt’s post was so egregiously silly, and so insulting, that a strong reaction is completely appropriate.

    It’s not how I would have chosen to react; but a profanity has the advantage of being concise.

    Matt deserved it; very much so. The only apology from PZ might be due to readers, or to scienceblogs; but not to Matt. If Matt had called for other voices to speak up, then I’d have more time for him. He focused in telling some very effective communicators to shut up. That was way out of line, and unless Matt wises up and apologizes hiself, he deserves the derision. Sometimes it will be phrased in ways that don’t fit polite society. Tough.

    What we need is to encourage more people to speak up in diverse ways, including some in ways that can be heard by religious readers. I’m active in that project myself, already, and I think with some success, by my participation on conservative Christian online forums. I’m openly atheist; but friendly and unaggressive and constructive. And this works, for me at least. People listen, and I’ve been able to be a voice for science without running down religion or antagonizing Christian onlookers. I’m a total contrast to PZ, who once called me a “do-nothing” atheist in his blog titles. PZ is sometimes pretty silly. But he’s got good cause to be very angry indeed with Matt.

    For me, Matt is just an annoying distraction. I’m doing already the conciliatory communication thing; I’ve seen nothing useful from Matt to help. He seems to be far more about the futile and destructive effort to shut down those who don’t see things his way, rather that actually enabling and expressing an alternative.

    You guys at the Intersection are better than Matt, because you DO give a lot of useful and positive material helping to communicate science. But your choices in this recent debacle have been silly and most unfortunate.

  175. #175 Erasmus, FCD
    March 25, 2008

    Framing.

    Lamest. Non. Communication. EVAR.

    Are you sure you are a communicator? Is that French for concern troll?

  176. #176 Dan S.
    March 25, 2008

    Just mindless apes flinging excrement.

    Ooh! Where?
    I mean, hey, that’s got to be more fun (and possibly more productive) than this . . .

  177. #177 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    March 25, 2008

    What baffles me now is that both “Framing Science” and “The Intersection” have managed to take what was clearly an “own goal” and try to tell the referee that it doesn’t count because PZ was on the field at the time it was scored. You three have managed to take what was a public relations disaster for “the movie that is going to blow the lid off of darwinism” and turn it back into a positive for the film. Now the Creationists who made it are saying “See, even the darwinists don’t like PZ, he must be a truly nasty person and we were right to keep him out because he would have used a swear word in the Q&A.”

    Do you think before you write these things? Matt’s focus on the New Atheists has done some framing all right. Lakoff’s book title is Don’t Think of An Elephant because the more one criticizes a word, the more one thinks about the word. Matt seems intent on conflating atheism with science communication, and although he tries to create a negative association by telling people they should ignore the “New Atheists” he is instead adding to to the association. In fact his version of framing is drawing a stronger, more definite line between atheism and evolution than Dawkins or Myers have ever done.

    Matt is personally condescending to people he doesn’t think he needs. He insulted me by walking away when I was trying to talk to him. PZ has never done that to me. Is my judgment on this issue affected by that? Possibly, but the frame that you are trying to out on PZ with this post is unfair and incorrect. I would rather side with PZ, because he is personally gracious, if it comes to a war over who is more civil.

    PZ has a positive point. Don’t try to take away from the failure of the promoters of this film by using it as another opportunity to dump on vocal atheist scientists. They screwed up and Matt is giving them an escape route.

  178. #178 Paul A
    March 25, 2008

    Good grief, are you really getting your knoickers in a twist because someone swore on the internet? You’d better grow a thicker skin and grow it fast.

  179. #179 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    March 25, 2008

    (“They” meaning the producers of the movie.)

  180. #180 bug_tea
    March 25, 2008

    If we’re talking about “adolescent knee jerk reactions”, this article stands as a shining example.

    Oh, and FUCK!

  181. #181 Wes
    March 25, 2008

    PZ, Afarensis, Orac, John Lynch, Brian Switek, Tara Smith, John Wilkins, DrugMonkey…have all been saying the same thing: Your approach here is deeply misguided.

    For the record, Wes, I’ve said nothing on the issue of “framing”. or at least not on this particular issue of “framing”. I’ve been interested in the nature of “taking offense” to certain expressive phrases and words.

    I find the notion that the majority of workaday adult conversation in the US specifically excludes the word “fuck” to be laughable. “unacceptable on and off the blogosphere” ? Not in my experience.

    Posted by: DrugMonkey | March 25, 2008 1:02 AM

    Sorry about that. I must have misunderstood your point. But my over-all point still stands, that the people lecturing others about the evil of alienating your audience with a divisive message are doing exactly that themselves.

    And as I said on Wilkins’ blog, it’s not that “framing” is an intrinsically bad idea. It’s just that Nisbet’s approach to it (and through him Mooney and Kirshenbaum) has gone bonkers. Turning this silly and entertaining “creationists shoot themselves in the foot” event into a cheesy infighting soap opera makes no sense at all.

    And I totally agree with you about “taking offense”.

  182. #182 Luna_the_cat
    March 25, 2008

    Sheril — I appreciate what you tried to do here, even if it is obvious that the effort is doomed.

  183. #183 Dan S.
    March 25, 2008

    You know, there’s another way to look at this. If I was sitting next to a moderate-ish religious person who was undecided about ID creationism’ message, I would say (phrased really poorly and incompletely because I’m rushing to leave in time, but bear with me):

    - look, this is a difficult topic, but if nothing else, you can tell a lot about a person (a group, a movement) by the way they act, by what they do. ID creationists say they’re just striving after truth and fairness, but they end up lying all the time, and acting like hypocrites. When they swore on a Bible in Dover to tell the truth, they got up and – as it came out -just lied about everything for who paid for what books to what the scientific literature says. They pretend their movie is something else than what it is to get interviews, and while some folks think that was a clever trick, it’s still a lie. They lie about where ID came from, and worst of all, despite almost all being – I think – genuinely devout Christians – they deny what Jesus means to them time and time again, going on about how the Designer might be space aliens or Gaia. They say they’re for free and fair inquiry and against censorship, but they have a guy who they tricked into being in their film kicked out by a security guard for nothing more than waiting quietly in line because – according to them – they could, and he had criticized the movie.

    Now all these scientists, on the other hand – well, you might not like – really not like – what a few of them say about religion. Fair enough – heck, I’m an atheist, and still a lot of what PZ and Dawkins say pisses me off too! But whether it’s training or just personality, you definitely know where you stand with them. You (and I, and a lot of other scientists) might not agree with some of their opinions; you might think they’re even really offensive – but they’re not trying to fool you, not trying to hide their ideas in order to trick you into accepting evolution, like the ID folks do with ID. They happen to think science has some real effects on religion, and they let folks know. Other scientists and pro-science people disagree – Ken Miller, for example, thinks that if anything science helps us appreciate religion better, and has criticized some of his colleagues for going overboard about God – he’s entirely upfront about it, and instead of being censored by others (or himself) he’s well known and highly respected. Same thing with Francis Collins.

    And while these scientists might disagree with each other about religion – even loudly and critically – when it comes to actually doing science, PZ doesn’t try to make his zebra fish prove atheism; Miller doesn’t argue that cell biology is proof of God. They just do their best to tell the truth about what they see in the natural world, so that other people can decide for themselves. Same thing in this kind of discussion, about things beyond the natural world. They don’t – at least, no more than any other group of imperfect human beings! – try to trick or manipulate you, or hide things they think are uncomfortable – they say what they think; you get to decide for yourself.

    (Of course, there are a few people who are maybe trying to make a liar out of me in regards to this, but if that’s what they believe, they have a right and duty to say it).

  184. #184 MH
    March 25, 2008

    Mike Haubrich wrote: “Matt is personally condescending to people he doesn’t think he needs. He insulted me by walking away when I was trying to talk to him.”

    Wow, that’s bad. Sheril, do you agree that’s bad?

    ———-

    Dan S., that was a perfect example of good framing. Matt & Chris would do well to listen to you.

    ———-

    Is anyone else very disappointed with the lack of response from Chris, Sheril and Matt? C’mon guys, you should, by now, know what the right thing to do is.

  185. #185 N 'Man O' Rage' R
    March 25, 2008

    Jesus Fuckin’ Christ! Next you will be telling me not to take the lords name in vain!

    PZ’s response to Nisbet was most appropriate. Science isnt about being polite and neither is blogging… infact sometimes its all about quite the opposite!.

    Cheers to all the folks from Blighty weighing in…

    Toodle’pip.

  186. #186 Oliver
    March 25, 2008

    Just thought I’d point out another utterly acceptable use of “fuck” in the blogosphere, used by a true grown up on a blog moderated by perhaps the world’s best moderator. Just as an existence proof….

  187. #187 ChrisC
    March 25, 2008

    Dear god Mooney, what happened to you?

    I used to really enjoy your thoughfull analysis of the intersection between science aand public policy. I bough both “Storm World” and “RWoS”. I enjoyed your blog posts.

    But lately… For one, PZ and Richard Dawkins were not in the wrong in the events at the Mall of America. They had done nothing wrong. And you have the audacity to critise them for speaking out.

    Then Nisbet, with nothing of substance to say, declares that PZ and RD should shut up, simply because he doesn’t like the way the deliver their message, and you and Sheril jump on PZ for a perfectly rational response.

    This is not fair. PZ and RD are scientists, speaking out on a matter directly related to their area of expertise, and you approve of them being muzzeled.

    I hate to say it, but this blog has really gone downhill. The apeasement of the creos is not winning any battles around here and its about time you recognised it.

  188. #188 Jim RL
    March 25, 2008

    Based on the response from the scienceblogging community I’ve come to a a profound conclusion:

    Framing: you’re doing it wrong.

  189. #189 Jon Winsor
    March 25, 2008

    I have to say, anyone who doesn’t know that scientists with PhD’s frequently speak in a manner that would be right at home in trainspotting…

    I don’t doubt it. But there’s a reason why the old SNL skit where Dan Ackroyd says “Jane, you ignorant slut,” is funny. It’s because it’s absurd that adults would carry on public discourse that way.

  190. #190 Jim RL
    March 25, 2008

    Jon, no it’s funny because it’s absurd that new reporters were talk in such a way to one another, and because it is totally unexpected and uncalled for. PZ is a blogger, and bloggers often swear, and it was completely called for by Nisbet’s equally rude, but sans-profanity post.

  191. #191 Rienk
    March 25, 2008

    In stead of complaining about PZ, Dawkins, Harris and others, and how they frame science, maybe Mr. Nisbet and Mr. Mooney could actually do and explain some real science for themselves. These personal attacks actually do help the creationist cause since it is the pro-science side that now looks divided and silly.

    Are Mr. Mooney and Mr. Nisbet perhaps creationists themselves? I sometimes actually do wonder.

    This would be a better solution: let the horsemen deal with the crowds in their way, and you deal with the crowds in your way. Different flavors of argument for different people. Stop wasting time by attacking other pro-science advocates with childish remarks and stop whining if someone uses the f-bomb out of frustration.

  192. #192 Duae Quartunciae
    March 25, 2008

    Huh? I see your addition to the post, Sheril, and I am now more confused than ever.

    Your problem is not with “profanity”? What the heck IS your problem then?

    You saw Nisbet posting a call for PZ Myers and Dawkins to be silent on this issue where they are passionate and active and widely appreciated (even if you are not one of the appreciative ones). And you see PZ give a concise response, which (paraphrased to remove the profanity) says “Blow it out your rear, Matt”, followed immediately by a simple demonstration that PZ Myers’ recent writing has put the Expelled people into drastic damage control mode. That is not a “nonresponse”. That is a two line DEMOLITION of Nisbet’s utterly ridiculous and insulting post, marred only by the use of a bit of profanity.

    Excusable profanity under the circumstances; although my own preference would be for scienceblogs to avoid such language. I’d like scienceblogs to be family friendly and accessible to a wide cross section of readers; profanity IMHO is better avoided. But hey. Until scienceblogs makes a definite policy, it’s a judgment call where I accept differences.

    There has, since then, been another post by PZ Myers in which he goes into more detail on one of the reasons why Matt’s remarks were so blisteringly stupid. (clueless)

    Matt Nisbet’s call to silence communicators he doesn’t like was ridiculous and totally inappropriate. Shame on you for not calling him on it. He needs to hear from his friends that he was out of line.

    You did have a reasonable point with the profanity. Now that you deny that profanity was the point, nothing you say here makes a lick of sense, and the call for apologies is absurd.

    People are going to disagree. That’s fine. I’ve had some monumental disagreements with PZ myself, to the extent that he is one of the very few people to whom I have ever directed the famous f-word myself.

    But if you don’t mind the profanity, what on earth should PZ apologize for?

    Duae Quartunciae — dismayed to see how far this sometimes excellent blog is sinking

  193. #193 Jon Winsor
    March 25, 2008

    A blast from PZ’s past:

    How to Use USENET Effectively:

    Posting an article is a lot like driving a car − you have to be in control of yourself. Postings which begin ”Jane, you ignorant slut, …” are very definitely considered in poor taste. Unfortunately, they are also far too common. The psychology of this is interesting. One popular belief is that since we interact with USENET via computers, we all often forget that a computer did not do the posting; a human did. A contributing factor is that you don’t have to look the target of abuse in the eye when you post an abusive message; eye-to-eye contact has an amazing effect on inhibiting obnoxious behavior. As a result, discussions on the USENET often degenerate into a catfight far more readily than would a face-to-face discussion.

    Before you post an article, think a minute; decide whether or not you are upset, angry, or high. If you are, wait until you calm down (or come down) before deciding to post something. Then think about whether or not you really want to post it. You will be amazed what waiting a day or even a few hours can do for your perspective.

    Bear in mind that shouting hasn’t convinced anyone of anything since the days of Charlemagne, and being abusive makes people hold even more tenaciously to their ideas or opinions. Gentleness, courtesy, and eloquence are far more persuasive; not only do they indicate you have enough confidence in your words to allow them to speak for you, but also they indicate a respect for your audience. This in turn makes it easier for your audience to like or respect you − and people tend to be far more interested in, and receptive to, arguments advanced by those they like or respect than by writers who are abusive. Finally, remember that some discussions or situations simply cannot be resolved. Because people are different, agreed-upon facts often lead to wildly different feelings and conclusions.

    These differences are what makes life so wonderful; were we all alike, the world would be a very boring place. So, don’t get frantic; relax and enjoy the discussion. Who knows, you might even learn something!

    PZ Myers:

    Yes, anyone can get on usenet and speak their mind. There is no intrinsic mechanism to prioritize anyone’s voice over another’s. The news administrators are scrupulous in defending free speech; they are religious in avoiding judgment on the basis of content, and all they care about is ensuring that no one hampers anyone else’s ability to express themselves. You can say anything on usenet, and your post has exactly the same weight as anyone else’s. These are, in principle, very good things.

    In practice, though, there are problems. Usenet is like an open park, where anyone can bring a soapbox and shout out their opinions. And shout they do. The flaw in the democratic model is that the ones who shout the loudest and the most frequently are the voices that are heard best. And hecklers may have important points to make, but what happens is that they get their own soapbox and try to shout down the original speaker. It is extremely easy for a newsgroup to reduce to a roaring cacophony of near-incoherent yelling…

    Indeed.

    Maybe there are habits you learn in places like USENET that don’t translate well into atheist PR campaigns?

  194. #194 David C. Brayton
    March 25, 2008

    Someone said “fuck off” on the internet? That was so inappropriate.

    I also find the use of the following words inappropriate: bitch, slut, whore, cunt, jackass, feeble-minded twit, sit, damn, packer, dick, prick, cock, shithead, shit, little turd, crap, fukkity fuck fuck, cameltoe, poo poo face and meanie.

    Please, make sure that none of your post (along with the comments) have these words. These inappropriate words might offend me.

    Oh, I almost forgot…please add asshole to that list. I too would find that very offensive.

    But what I find most offensive is that some people feel a transferred sense of self-righteousness. This blogger is upset about a naughty word being used by someone else in a conversation that that is totally not related to them.

    And worst of all, the word fuck was used entirely appropriately. It conveyed the author’s thoughts exceptionally well.

  195. #195 philos
    March 25, 2008

    I’m not calling for PZ and Dawkins to be silent, but to act
    like civil people you can actually have a conversation with
    and put on a TV to actually communicate Science without berating
    everyone – that’s what we need.

    They’re just horrible, montrous communicators that will
    setup scientists to look like snub asses in the public eye.

    I’m wishing them to be adult, scholarly, respectable,
    gentlemenly scientists and not foul-mouthed
    attention-seekers of this playground, abstracted in their
    own agenda and ideaology of selling books and blogs.

    Darwin WOULD NOT be proud.

    And he was an agnostic. Think about it.

  196. #196 David Marjanovi?
    March 25, 2008

    Chris and Sheril:
    Go forward to better things.

    Posted by: Linda | March 24, 2008 5:36 PM

    That’s a great way to frame it. :-)

  197. #197 David Marjanovi?
    March 25, 2008

    They’re just horrible, montrous communicators

    No. Stein and Mathis are horrible, monstrous communicators and attention seekers. And so for that matter is Nisbet.

    BTW, aren’t you the guy who’s in the dungeon of Pharyngula?

    And incidentally, you don’t need to press “enter” at the end of a line. This is a computer, not a typewriter. Line breaks are made automatically.

  198. #198 Tulse
    March 25, 2008

    I’m not calling for PZ and Dawkins to be silent, but to act
    like civil people you can actually have a conversation with
    and put on a TV to actually communicate Science without berating
    everyone – that’s what we need.

    Was PZ “berating” in the clip from Expelled? Was Dawkins? What the hell is your point?

  199. #199 philos
    March 25, 2008

    Not that I know of.

    Philos was Darwin’s nickname while on the HMS Beagle.

    I’m not surprised you didn’t know that.

    I suggest you go back to read the Classics.

  200. #200 Tara C. Smith
    March 25, 2008

    I don’t see how your corollary makes it any better. Have you called out Nisbet publically for his Don Imus comments (that he’s repeated several times), or referring to all PZ’s readers as “sycophants”? How is that rhetoric good communication?

    I largely agree with your message calling for greater civility, but I think the three of you (and especially Matt) need to do a bit of self-examination and perhaps be more critical of your own tactics as well as PZ’s. Incivility can also wear a smile and use pretty words.

  201. #201 philos
    March 25, 2008

    Tulse:

    Must I spell it out for you?

    I’m talking about PZ’s (and some of Dawkins’)
    response to the indicent, not the clips in the Expelled film itself. I havent’ seen a pre-screening yet.

    A papoose for PZ next time with mouth restraints? Indeed.

    Arghh.

  202. #202 dm
    March 25, 2008

    referring to all PZ’s readers as “sycophants”?

    Actually, I think that’s pretty accurate description.

  203. #203 Tulse
    March 25, 2008

    I’m talking about PZ’s (and some of Dawkins’) response to the indicent, not the clips in the Expelled film itself. I havent’ seen a pre-screening yet.

    Right, so just to be clear, you’re not talking about when they are “put on a TV to actually communicate Science” [my emphasis], but instead about their interactions with others in the blogosphere regarding communication strategies. Because when I’ve seen Dawkins in his documentaries, and saw the clips of PZ and Dawkins in the Expelled trailer (available from Nisbet’s blog), or listened to PZ on a radio talk show debating a creationist, they certainly didn’t come off to me as “horrible, montrous communicators” and “foul-mouthed attention-seekers”. When in public, communicating “Science” (the capital is Important), they are almost unfailingly polite and calm and civil. They happily argue against some ideas and beliefs, but in a polite and calm and civil way.

    So if your complaint is that PZ is being rude to Nisbet, I suppose we could debate that point. But I think there is no evidence that PZ (or Dawkins) is problematic in their presentation style when they address science in public.

  204. #204 Linda
    March 25, 2008

    Chris and Sheril,
    Please move on from all this tedious, blown-out-of proportion ‘stuff’, and give these poor people time to refocus on a better world.
    I really enjoy reading both of you, and have great respect for you with the issues that you take on…

  205. #205 Chris Clarke
    March 25, 2008

    Sheril, with all due respect,

    and a well argued rebuttal, over a dismissive profane nonresponse, achieves far more

    You’ve gotten a lot of well-argued rebuttal in this thread. Has it achieved anything, or have you simply stuck to the battle lines as drawn previously?

  206. #206 Luna_the_cat
    March 25, 2008

    Brayton, Duae Quartunciae — you seem to me to have missed the point. The profanity is just a flame. It’s not a witty takedown. It’s just a flame. It’s not a rebuttal. It’s just a flame. It’s not a “that’s a bad idea and I’m not going to follow your advice.” It’s just a flame. The internets is full of flames. It’s not big and it’s not clever, and all it does is encourage a vicious stompfest between people who are all supposed to be holding a line against popular ignorance and dishonesty. And don’t, please don’t, come back with the “But he started it…!” defense; it still wasn’t big, clever, or admirable of Myers to respond that way.

    A witty, detailed, precise and reasoned takedown — yes, that would have been better. Not just a standard “fuck you” flame. Billions of morons manage “fuck you”, we frankly ought to be able to expect better.

  207. #207 Luna_the_cat
    March 25, 2008

    btw, Jon Winsor –

    Thank you. Exactly.

  208. #208 David Marjanovi?
    March 25, 2008

    Darwin WOULD NOT be proud.

    So what?

    And he was an agnostic.

    So am I, but what is that supposed to be relevant for?

    I’m not surprised you didn’t know that.

    I suggest you go back to read the Classics.

    What for? They’re interesting to read, but 150 years old. Not exactly cutting-edge research.

    referring to all PZ’s readers as “sycophants”?

    Actually, I think that’s pretty accurate description.

    Looks like you don’t spend much time on Pharyngula.

  209. #209 Jim RL
    March 25, 2008

    It’s not about the profanity? Then why do you say:

    That kind of language and reaction is simply unacceptable on and off the blogosphere.

    And why do you ask for an apology? If it’s not about the profanity then are you saying that concise responses are now offensive in and of themselves? I’m sorry, but that doesn’t pass the bullshit test. Nisbet’s condescending bs deserved no more of a response than he got. Does this post of yours pass for meaningful debate? Your digging deeper and deeper into bs territory. It’s best to turn around now.

  210. #210 s1mplex
    March 25, 2008

    philos:

    Before you say anything else, please try reading PZ’s FIRST TWO responses to the incident:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/03/expelled.php

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/03/a_late_night_quick_one.php

    Cheers.

    s1mplex

  211. #211 Oran Kelley
    March 25, 2008

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen a comment page which has so strongly impressed me with the fact that most people are loudmouth morons. No offense, I mean that in the kindest possible way! And of course it’s quite common for people to call each other morons on the web, so just try to live with the fact that you probably can’t bang two intellectual rocks together.

    Why be offended by PZ’s language? because that’s what he was trying to do, you dopes! That’s why he used it! That’s why Dick Cheney used it. And what’s wrong with it? The raw hostility of the response violates the basic collegiality that, hopefully, one can maintain in a setting like this.

    PZ has a very thin skin and maybe can’t tell the difference between something being presumptuous or somewhat impolite and bile and hostility. But he at least should have the graciousness to acknowledge that.

  212. #212 MH
    March 25, 2008

    Luna, I’d say that “Fuck you very much, Matt. You know where you can stick your advice” translates quite clearly into “that’s a bad idea and I’m not going to follow your advice”.

    As for witty, I associated it with the line “Fuck you very much” from the film Falling Down, as delivered by the great Robert Duvall. If you knew the film, and the context of the line, you too might have found PZ’s use of it witty, as I did.

  213. #213 Richard
    March 25, 2008

    I think that Nisbet has been disrespectful of Dawkins and Myers from the beginning, referring to them as The New Atheist Noise Machine. Nisbet is deliberately provocative, full of himself, and never seemed to have an interest in having a dialogue with Myers/Dawkins. Nisbet could have tried to air his concerns in a respectful manner, as Neil de Grasse Tyson did, but that’s not his style. He prefers condescension and prescription over discussion. Have at him, PZ.

  214. #214 Harry Abernathy
    March 25, 2008

    I would like to get Sheril’s opinion on the substance of Matt’s comments to PZ, but it’s a SEPARATE TOPIC. It’s also a topic that’s being discussed all over the place On SB already. People have complained about this particular post about language, but please keep in mind that this is just ONE post talking about ONE aspect of the topic. Heck, this is the fourth post on the Intersection about the whole incident. If you don’t care for it, comment on another post.

    I disagree with Matt’s reasoning, but I do agree with Sheril and Chris that the foul language is not necessary. My biggest problem with it is that this is ScienceBlogs, which is associated with and publicized by SEED, a science magazine available to the general public, even those under 18. True, the internet is full of filth and foul language (some of it even quite thoughtful), but a little more decorum here at SB couldn’t hurt. If all of this is supposed to be a discussion about science, religion, and communication, then why not keep it civil?

    I mean, I’ve never heard the f-bomb dropped in any of the normal conferences I attend (American Chemical Society, Electrochemical Society, American Ceramic Society).

  215. #215 MH
    March 25, 2008

    Jon Winsor wrote: “A blast from PZ’s past…”

    Are you suggesting that PZ didn’t consider his response to Matt telling him to shut up? PZ posted his response a couple of days ago now, and the consensus seems to be that it was appropriate. Or are you of the opinion that ‘swear words’ are never appropriate? They are just words you know. They don’t have special powers to hurt you. And as others have pointed out, they have been an important component of literature for centuries.

  216. #216 ben
    March 25, 2008

    Chris Mooney, you are a stupid, malevolent cunt. Fuck off.

  217. #217 MH
    March 25, 2008

    [Regarding the update to the post]

    Sheril, you initially wrote “That kind of language and reaction is simply unacceptable on and off the blogosphere”, to which you have now added “It’s worth pointing out, my problem is not with profanity”. Err… okay. Then you ended with “…and a well argued rebuttal, over a dismissive profane nonresponse, achieves far more”. Yeah, you see, it still sounds like it was the delivery that you have a problem with. Well done trying to move the goal-posts though; they look heavy.

  218. #218 MH
    March 25, 2008

    Ben wrote: “Chris Mooney, you are a stupid, malevolent cunt. Fuck off.”

    Now you see, that was artless (unless you were doing it in a cockney accent, à la Peter Cook).

  219. #219 Scote
    March 25, 2008

    [It's worth pointing out, my problem is not with profanity....]

    Hmm…are you trying to tie the Expelled producers for least convincing post hoc excuse?

    Let’s look at your OP:

    “Fuck you very much, Matt. You know where you can stick your advice.”
    That kind of language and reaction is simply unacceptable on and off the blogosphere.

    Nope, your backpedaling (well, back filling) doesn’t fly. You were being criticized for undeniably criticizing form over substance, so now you try and claim, no, really you were criticizing PZ for “lack of substance.” R-i-g-h-t.

    Care to try again with a more convincing excuse?

  220. #220 Luna_the_cat
    March 25, 2008

    MH — I’m *not* familiar with that movie, as it happens. There are probably a few others out there who aren’t. All we have to evaluate on is what is here.

    And, it’s just a flame. Not wit or rebuttal. Not reason. Not clever. Just another ben-style flame. Which is pointless as an argument.

    See, I thought that Myers’s 2nd post to Nisbet handled the issue better. It contained reason and was much better written. Why couldn’t he have done that first?

  221. #221 mlf
    March 25, 2008

    [Regarding the update to the post]

    Oh for the love of FSM…

    #1 Your initial post made it CRYSTAL clear that you have a problem with naughty words.

    #2 If you really do not have a problem with naughty words… WHY the HELL did you wait to say so until after ~200 comments that mostly chastize you for caring about naughty words on a blog?

    No one is buying it.

  222. #222 Matt Penfold
    March 25, 2008

    Sheril,

    Initially you said:

    “That kind of language and reaction is simply unacceptable on and off the blogosphere.”

    Now you have said:

    “It’s worth pointing out, my problem is not with profanity”

    Do you not see that there is a problem in that you are now contradicting yourself ? Did you somehow forget what you had written ? Or was one of the post written when you had to much to drink ? That would explain it, and would be a better explanation that you are talking out of your backside.

  223. #223 MH
    March 25, 2008

    Luna (and Sheril, if you are still around), I’m curious to know what your opinion of Eric Idle’s FCC song is? He wrote it in response to the FCC fining him for swearing:

    “Fuck you very much the FCC
    Fuck you very much for fining me
    Five thousand bucks a fuck so I’m really out of luck
    Thats more than Heidi Fliess was charging me.
    So fuck you very much the FCC
    For proving that free speech just isn’t free
    Clear Channel’s a dear channel
    so Howard Stern must go
    Attorney General Ashcroft doesn’t like strong words and so
    He’s charging twice as much as all the drugs for Rush Limbo
    so Fuck you all so very much!”

    Was that inappropriate? Was it a “well argued rebuttal”?

  224. #224 oriole
    March 25, 2008

    Chris, I can’t believe you would say “If Sheril got a detail wrong I’m sure she’ll say so because that is part of accepted decorum in the blogosphere.” First of all, it was not a detail, it was a false accusation. Second, she shouldn’t acknowledge she’s wrong because it’s part of some “accepted decorum in the blogosphere”, but because you’re not supposed to tell lies. This is not a modern issue new to the blogosphere.

    But of course, this reasoning is of a piece with your later “this is an issue independent of the substance of what we’re debating about”. Chris, for scientists, substance is IMPORTANT, even more important than your and Nisbet’s cherished framing and decorum. Nisbet’s open letter to PZ and Dawkins was condescending and insulting; insulting in the true sense of being contemptuously rude and not in the idiotic PC sense beloved of politicians and journalists of constituting an opportunity to huff and puff and get up on your sanctimonious high horse.

    I suppose there’s some entertainment value to be had in watching Obama and Clinton take turns being HIGHLY OFFENDED by some comment which they obviously don’t really give a rat’s ass about, then getting someone fired and chalking up bad PR points for their opponents, but this has nothing to do with having a serious discussion. And your vaunted framing even fails on its terms; you’ve presented the creationist liars with free propaganda points which they’re gleefully using and made it harder for the SUBSTANCE of what real scientists like PZ and Richard are saying to make it through your ridiculous PC din in which you get the vapours everytime a scientist uses strong language.

    As for your faux-tragic mewling about getting out of blogging, why do you imagine that anyone cares? Stay in, get out, as you like, but if you write crap on the internet expect people to call you on it.

    But maybe you would be well-advised to get out of blogging, and maybe you should also switch to an all-tapioca-pudding diet; that would probably be better suited to your delicate temperament.

    Oh, and by the way, fuck. (Gasp)

  225. #225 Ian
    March 25, 2008

    PZ’s response was “a well argued rebuttal, over a dismissive profane nonresponse”!

    We only make these cusswords and racist stereotype words what they are by our reaction to them. As a society we agreee to pretend that this is a bad word, that’s a good word. The words themselves aren’t lethal. The only way to cure this antiquated nonsense is to over-use the words until they actually are meaningless.

  226. #226 Luna_the_cat
    March 25, 2008

    mlf, the issue Sheril appears to have had was not with profanity per se — in other words, one may say “fuck” in her presence without provoking a fit of vapours — but with profanity in the context of response to another ScienceBlogger, as an “adolescent, knee-jerk response”. The point was not that people shouldn’t ever cuss, the point was that there could have been a much better response.

    It isn’t goal-post moving; this has been perfectly clear to me, at least, from the start.

  227. #227 Matt Penfold
    March 25, 2008

    “mlf, the issue Sheril appears to have had was not with profanity per se — in other words, one may say “fuck” in her presence without provoking a fit of vapours — but with profanity in the context of response to another ScienceBlogger, as an “adolescent, knee-jerk response”. The point was not that people shouldn’t ever cuss, the point was that there could have been a much better response.

    It isn’t goal-post moving; this has been perfectly clear to me, at least, from the start.”

    You seem to be the only to whom it has been clear.

    Let us see what she actually said: “That kind of language and reaction is simply unacceptable on and off the blogosphere”

    Ok, when she talks of the blogosphere she might well mean ScienceBlogs, but off it ? Clearly she cannot be ScienceBlogs in that context, which makes your claims she only meant her comments to be taken in that context mistaken.

    The simple fact is a silly person has a hissy fit, and rather than act all grown up over it she lies and says she did not really mean what she said. That Chris has refused to step in and make it clear to her she is in the wrong just shows that what ever standards Chris once had, and I am told he did have some, have now deserted him.

  228. #228 Jon Winsor
    March 25, 2008

    I’m curious to know what your opinion of Eric Idle’s FCC song is?

    I also like his Christmas carol. It’s pretty funny. But I think Eric Idol would agree that it’s completely adolescent humor. Jon Swift it aint.

    Sounds like he’s drunk and having fun, but in his present state keep Eric away from heavy machinery and atheist PR campaigns…

  229. #229 Scholar
    March 25, 2008

    Nisbet: “Shut your pie hole PZ, you are making things worse for science.”

    Mooney: “Yum, I likes pie!”

  230. #230 mlf
    March 25, 2008

    Luna_the_cat said: “…but with profanity in the context of response to another ScienceBlogger…”

    But, that isn’t what she said. And she said “on or off the blogosphere”, not “in the presence of another ScienceBlogger on or off the blogosphere.”

  231. #231 michaelf
    March 25, 2008

    So the only reason Sheril blogged on this was to agree with Matt and jump on the attack PZ bandwagon. First PZ can’t talk about atheism and now he can’t curse either. What else don’t you want him not to do?
    Here’s something productive to do with you time – design an experiment we can apply in our courses, our clubs, our churches, etc. that will test methods for communicating science and especially evolution to people. Let’s see if your ideas work.

  232. #232 PhysioProf
    March 25, 2008

    PZ, Afarensis, Orac, John Lynch, Brian Switek, Tara Smith, John Wilkins, DrugMonkey, Greg Laden, Mark Hoofnagel, Jason Rosenhouse, Jake Young, Coturnix, and probably more I haven’t noticed yet (in addition to non-SciBloggers like Phil Plait and Sean Carrol) have all been saying the same thing: Your approach here is deeply misguided.

    Hey, me too!!!

    http://physioprof.wordpress.com/2008/03/23/framing-non-insane-responses-to-delusional-nutjob-theocratic-wackadoodle-douchehounds/

  233. #233 Matt Penfold
    March 25, 2008

    If the people who claim to have invented “framing” are so poor at it, and Nisbett’s criticism of PZ and Dawkins, along with Mooney’s and Kirshenbaum’s adulation of Nisbett would indicate they are, then why should the rest of us take any notice ? It would be like going to a gross obese person for advice on weight loss.

  234. #234 Dan
    March 25, 2008

    I would just like to join in with my own “Fuck you very much” to Matt, Chris and Sheril.

    Thanks guys. I look forward to reading you again once you get off the “let’s politicize science” bandwagon and return to reporting on the politicization of science by others.

  235. #235 s1mplex
    March 25, 2008

    Sheril:

    Regular readers know that long before I entered the blogosphere, I’ve vocally celebrated the right to free speech and independent thinking.

    Oh yeah, well my best friend is gay!
    :|

  236. #236 scote
    March 25, 2008

    Regular readers know that long before I entered the blogosphere, I’ve vocally celebrated the right to free speech and independent thinking.

    Well, no longer, because that was then. Now you write things like:

    That kind of language and reaction is simply unacceptable on and off the blogosphere.

    unacceptable |ˌənəkˈseptəbəl|
    adjective
    not satisfactory or allowable : unacceptable behavior.

    Saying that language–mere language–is unacceptable everywhere shows that you have changed your mind on that whole “celebrating free speech” thing.

    You could simple said such language was rude, inappropriate, counterproductive, or some such. But, no, you said it was simply unacceptable, anywhere. You are no champion of free speech. That you would now try an trot out such a claim that is in direct contradiction of your espoused position on “F-ck You Very Much” shows that you are no longer writing rationally or honestly.

  237. #237 Jon Winsor
    March 25, 2008

    Saying that language–mere language–is unacceptable everywhere…

    Profanity is one thing. “Fuck, I stubbed my toe.”

    “Fuck you” as a response is another matter. It’s like the “Jane you ignorant slut” response I talked about above.

  238. #238 Luna_the_cat
    March 25, 2008

    mlf — I interpreted Sheril’s comment of “simply unacceptable on and off the blogosphere” as being as a response to a colleague. An SB colleague, in this instance. An academic colleague would have been equally so. An SB colleague in a pub, yeah, that too, unless they were on the same wavelength and joking — which they patently aren’t, here.

    Was I unclear? For that, I apologise. I should have said “colleague”, not just ScienceBlogger. I do not intend to shift goalposts myself, this is genuinely how I understood it. It’s just that in this case, the colleague IS a Sciblogger, so I wrote that without thinking.

    What she also said was
    Regardless of how you felt regarding what he posted, it was cogent and seriously argued. Whether he is right or wrong, you are an adult, a teacher, and a respected and admired professional. Shame on you. This kind of adolescent knee jerk reaction is absolutely ridiculous and you ought to apologize.
    That makes it clear to me, anyway. It WAS an adolescent, knee-jerk reaction, face it. It wasn’t a reasoned or well-written takedown. It really was just a garden-variety flame, such as can be found on about 160,000,000 other English-language blogs. Not the response of a professional, adult, teacher. *I* happen to agree with Sheril on that aspect. And although I think that Nisbet was a bit of an idiot to post what he did, when he did, Myers’ reaction definitely lowered the tone even further, and slid the whole thing into a profanity dogpile with startling speed, with posters apparently now given permission just to start cussing out the people they don’t agree with. Gee whiz, way to impress folks with your stunning intellect, there, guys. :-/

    Seriously, if I want to read a flame war I can click onto any forum on the internet at random. I try to read here to get intelligent conversation. Unfortunately, in the past I’ve seen several previously good forums dissolve into factions and brainless insult-hurling and be lost to intellect; that’s the kind of slide I wouldn’t like to see repeated in this context. And that comment by Myers did not help. So I really sympathise with Sheril’s frustration. See where I’m coming from?

    Matt Penfold — it is clear from your record of posts here that you have become a troll with nothing substantial to contribute, you simply hang around to fling insults at people you don’t like, generally by equating them with undesireable “female” traits. I don’t particularly consider you worth paying attention to or responding to given this behavior, especially given that nasty streak of (potentially unconscious) sexism you’ve been waving around, but as a matter of politeness, I thought I would give you one post to explain why.

  239. #239 michaelf
    March 25, 2008

    Luna,
    did you ever consider that PZ doesn’t view Matt as a colleague?

  240. #240 Jon Winsor
    March 25, 2008

    did you ever consider that PZ doesn’t view Matt as a colleague?

    Not a lot of evidence lately that he can even be collegial, is there?

  241. #241 Luna_the_cat
    March 25, 2008

    As I have often reflected (to my dismay), one does not get to choose who one’s colleagues are, any more than one gets to choose one’s family. I’ve met a few computer people who I really, really didn’t like, but like it (or them) or not, they are in the same field and thus colleagues — and if we operate in the same place, I feel the need to deal with them civilly even when I am privately thinking that I have met smarter rocks.

    Nisbet is also a spokesman for science, and they both operate in the context of the Seed-sponsored blog group. I know Myers considers him no more qualified for that position than Nisbet considers Myers to be, but there you are, them’s the breaks…and how they interact with each other can poison this entire environment.

  242. #242 Linda
    March 25, 2008

    Luna_the_cat,
    You are a smart cookie, a voice of reason. Thank goodness…

  243. #243 Jon Winsor
    March 25, 2008

    Seconded. I was wondering when the adults were going to arrive.

  244. #244 michaelf
    March 25, 2008

    Luna, Linda and Jon,
    So am I to conclude that PZ is the only one at fault in this whole mess?

  245. #245 mlf
    March 25, 2008

    PZ: Said a bad word in a short sentence directed at Nisbet.

    Nisbet/Mooney/Sheril: Want PZ/Dawkins to silence themselves.

    That is the only issue here that is really important. That Sheril is clearly backtracking about her comment on profanity is merely amusing. The #1 rule of the Free Thinkers/Science Club is that you do not silence anyone that is not disrupting anyone else.

  246. #246 Scholar
    March 25, 2008

    Luna_the_cat, I don’t post much, but I’d just like to point out that you are incorrect about both points you make.

    1. Nisbett/Mooney is simply THE token Christian/Creationist voice of scienceblogs, he does not represent the mainstream.

    2. Matt Penfold is SPOT ON.

    Stop being a victim, you too Sheril R. Kirshenbaum.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-uwa9dUCk0

  247. #247 Lewis
    March 25, 2008

    My colleagues over at the Psychology department (major university) are having a wonderful time with this ongoing ‘discussion’. It appears that there have even been messages from the Theology department at a rival university regarding potential wagers on what type and how many of the various ‘maladaptive behaviors’ will be exhibited by the posters.

    Amusement comes in varied forms. Sb’s audience grows…

  248. #248 Jon Winsor
    March 25, 2008

    You wish that Nisbet and Myers could work it out together before it got this personal and ugly. At least they could agree to disagree. One thing about Myers though, is he can be pretty nasty, at least in print. (I haven’t seen him in person…)

    I actually like populist rhetoric in my politics. I get why it makes sense. But it’s weird coming from intellectuals. Matt Nisbet did not invade Iraq, deny anyone health care, stack the DOJ with cronies, make our children learn ID, etc. Nisbet and Myers are on the same side, at least where it’s important.

    One problem with framing is that it can be subjective, sure. But then Myers should be making that argument, not telling Nisbet “fuck you” in public. You don’t show yourself as the mature party in the argument by doing that.

  249. #249 Jon Winsor
    March 25, 2008

    Nisbett/Mooney is simply THE token Christian/Creationist voice of scienceblogs

    Good god. I’m afraid to ask what qualifies them as that.

    My colleagues over at the Psychology department (major university) are having a wonderful time with this ongoing ‘discussion’. It appears that there have even been messages from the Theology department at a rival university regarding potential wagers on what type and how many of the various ‘maladaptive behaviors’ will be exhibited by the posters.

    I don’t doubt it.

  250. #250 Tulse
    March 25, 2008

    Matt Nisbet did not invade Iraq, deny anyone health care, stack the DOJ with cronies, make our children learn ID, etc.

    No, Nisbet just told PZ and Dawkins what they should do professionally, which is to shut up. It wouldn’t piss you off if someone else repeatedly told you you’re doing your job wrong, and to just go home and leave the work to others?

    Nisbet and Myers are on the same side, at least where it’s important.

    I’m increasingly unsure if that is in fact true. In some obvious sense, it isn’t, since PZ (and Dawkins) believe that to actively support the interests of science in the long run, the irrationalism in religious belief must be actively exposed, whereas Nisbet seems to be working instead toward more short-term political gains on specific issues.

  251. #251 Coin
    March 25, 2008

    Nisbet is also a spokesman for science

    Honestly I do not think it would be most accurate to describe either Nisbet or PZ as spokespersons for science. Nisbet’s primary concern is not science, but bringing about certain kinds of transformation in U.S. politics. PZ’s primary concern is not science, but the promotion of a certain religious perspective. Both these persons sometimes act as spokespersons for science, because both have identified greater public acceptance of science as critically helpful toward their respective goals. However both have made it clear that they are more than willing to throw science itself under the bus on those occasions when it conflicts with their larger overarching goals.

    Maybe it would be worth it to observe that PZ and Nisbet do have subgoals in common, and it could be worth it for both to figure out a way to find synergy on the points where they agree rather than emphasizing conflict on the points where they disagree. Surely it would be worth it to observe that PZ and Nisbet both make real use of scienceblogs.com as a medium, and PZ and Nisbet are only hurting themselves by continually making ScienceBlogs unreadable with these tedious sitewide flamewars.

    But describing PZ and Nisbet as “colleagues”? This is at best a stretch. They’re simply not working toward the same thing.

  252. #252 Austin Cline
    March 25, 2008

    That kind of language and reaction is simply unacceptable on and off the blogosphere.

    Always? In every context? Regardless of the circumstances or what one is responding to? Of course not, that’s silly – although that’s what your broad language implies. Certainly there are times when “that kind of language” is entirely appropriate. You must mean that it was inappropriate in this case, but you don’t explain why. That, in turn, would require engaging the substance of the issues in dispute here…

    However, when influential and well respected professors argue like children in a very public online forum, substantive points decompose to nonsense blow…

    The same happens when people focus their concern on the use of a single word without regard to context or any of the substantive issues. If all you care about is the use of a word, and not why the word was used, then you don’t really care about the issues.

    a well argued rebuttal, over a dismissive profane nonresponse, achieves far more

    It can achieve a lot by people who are swayed by a “well-argued” argument, but it’s a fact of life that not everyone is. Moreover, even those who are can also be effectively reached through ridicule, satire, profanity, images, music, propaganda, and other forms of communication. Sober, logical arguments have their place, but it’s arrogant to presume that they are the only appropriate means of communicating, of responding, or of swaying opinions. Then again, you aren’t offering a sober, logical argument on the basis of reason and evidence here, so you must know all this.

    If you think that Nisbet’s post did not justify PZ’s response, then make your best case for why. It’s not enough to simply say that he is a “colleague,” either, unless you can make a case for why such a comment is never, ever appropriate to a colleague no matter what they have said themselves. I doubt that such an argument would be effective, though, so you’d be back to focusing on this context specifically.

    If, however, you don’t have a case to make, then please continue to ignore the context of his comment as if context were irrelevant. This will ensure that no substantive issues will be addressed, nothing of Nisbet’s views will be touched upon, and everyone can be distracted by a single word. You’re doing an excellent job with that so far and give the distinct impression that it has been your goal all along, so I probably don’t need to return to see if decided to post a real argument.

  253. #253 Steven Schafersman
    March 25, 2008

    Matt asked PZ to self-censor himself; to remove himself from the noble discourse of defending science and criticizing dishonesty. Matt had no good reason except that, in Matt’s opinion, PZ’s writing was turning off middle-of-the-road Americans who might be receptive to science’s message if it wasn’t so laden with anti-religious sentiment from PZ.

    Chris, what kind of response is appropriate to such a demand?

  254. #254 me
    March 25, 2008

    PZ’s primary concern is not science, but the promotion of a certain religious perspective.

    Uhhh, last time I checked PZ was a professor of biology. That would suggest that his primary concern is in fact science as that is his real job. The promotion of atheism is (most likely) a hobby at best.

  255. #255 Paul W.
    March 25, 2008

    This is just ridiculous.

    This may not be just any old place on the internet, but these are blogs, not academic conferences or faculty meetings. The full rules of professional civil discourse do not apply.

    Blogs are where people get to express their very personal views and feelings about various subjects. They don’t pay well enough to expect people to be terribly formal, and being terribly formal isn’t what gets the hits that pay the bills.

    Certainly, some minimal standards of discourse ought to more or less apply, but a priggish rule about F-bombs isn’t one of them.

    (I’ve said something like the following in the Framing thread… sorry for the redundancy if you saw it there.)

    In the contretemps between PZ and Matt, the gloves were pretty well off long before the F-bomb.

    They were off no later than when Matt said that PZ and Dawkins were deluded, with no scare quotes or hedges.

    If a colleague at a conference or in a faculty meeting said that I was deluded, it’s likely they’d get at least an F-bomb in response. It might not be the best or cleverest riposte, but it wouldn’t be unwarranted.

    IMHO, it’s a far more serious thing to make a claim that somebody is delusional than than to express a preference that they fuck off.

    Among non-prigs, a little profanity on a blog—even a fairly serious blog—is not a big deal, and can be quite appropriate. It’s preferable to making literally false and derogatory claims about somebody’s mental state or behavior.

    For example, consider the following two statements

    1. PZ Myers is a mean motherfucker.

    2. PZ Myers is mean and has sex with his mother.

    I think most reasonable people would say that the second statement is vastly more serious than the first. The first expresses a tacitly but clearly subjective attitude. The second makes an apparent truth claim with very serious content.

    The water here is certainly muddy because PZ and Dawkins do in fact claim that religious people are actually deluded. They do say something that “offensive” about other people. (So maybe turnabout is fair play?)

    I personally think that’s okay. I think they make good arguments for that position as a literal truth, so they’re not just name-calling; they’re arguing a controversial but plausible position on an important science-related issue, and that’s exactly the kind of thing that ought to happen on ScienceBlogs. It may be offensive, and might be false, but it’s sincere, substantive, interesting, and not obviously stupid or just vindictive.

    You may disagree. Maybe you think it’s never okay to call people “deluded,” even if they actually are. Maybe you think PZ is not just wrong but grossly unreasonable for thinking that the religious are deluded. And maybe you think that Matt is justified in thinking PZ is deluded in his view. Whatever.

    In any event, the F-bomb is just not the big issue, and Matt dismissively called PZ deluded before PZ replied with a dismissive F-bomb. Deserved or not, that’s got to be a bigger deal than the F-bomb response.

    I thought PZ’s response was fairly appropriate. Matt did not seem to want to argue with PZ’s position, but to condescendingly and insultingly dismiss it while dispensing self-important advice.

    We could argue about “who started it,” but it’s certainly easier to make PZ the clear baddie by obsessing about an arguably justified F-bomb in a blog post. Likely it’s not worth it to have a flame war about who’s been more condescending and insulting to whom… but if so, the F-bomb is worth ignoring, too.

    It seems to me that you two owe PZ an apology for being such insufferable prigs about a four-letter word. (But that’s explicitly my subjective opinion.)

  256. #256 Sigmund
    March 25, 2008

    Come on Luna, stop being such a terrible hypocrite. Matt Penfold is absolutely spot on with his observations. You, on the other hand, despite the priggy attitude you portray on this thread, are not averse to the odd “shove it up your ass until you bleed from your teeth, you motherfucking son of a bitch” when losing a previously civil Scienceblog argument.
    Or was that another Luna_the_cat?

  257. #257 Schultzy
    March 25, 2008

    You know, Sheril, by writing this post all you’re doing is giving PZ more publicity (of which, we all know, there is no kind but good). Therefore, I humbly (and politely!) suggest you frame the issue in such a way as to be effective in winning others over to your side: namely, by shutting the hell up.

    I’m sure your resulting bunker of silence will be sufficient to halt PZ’s relentless barrage of F-bombs, so long as you remember to barricade it with a reinforced steel frame (wink wink, nudge nudge). Pretty soon, PZ will become intimidated by your lack of protestation and cease to use the dreaded four-letter word!

    Hallelujah! Fluck yeah!

    [I apologize for the harshness of my post, but at least I didn't say fuck, right?]

  258. #258 Leni
    March 25, 2008

    Brownian wrote:

    You want to communicate science effectively? Demanding we all raise our pinkies as we sip our afternoon Earl Grey sure as fuck won’t broaden the appeal of science.

    LOL.

    *****

    Actually, I think that’s a good point. Obviously, you don’t need to swear to get your point across, but there’s no reason to freak out about it either. In fact, I think if we’re talking about general tone, this kind of response isn’t exactly a helpful de-escalation. It really looks to me like nothing more than vindictive finger-wagging.

    Sheril Kirshenbaum wrote:

    It seems to me, that although you two argue constantly, Matt has always treated you with decorum and respect.

    I understand your point, I really do. I am a cusser and I know people don’t like it and I understand why, and sometimes I genuinely feel bad about offending them because I don’t always mean to. But I think you are missing the fact that Matt really hasn’t been very respectful. He earned the response he got.

    The flip side to criticizing PZ is perhaps mentioning to Matt that petty, insulting attacks on your “colleagues” might not always be well- received. I’m guessing he probably knows that already. Just as I’m sure PZ kows that telling someone to fuck off isn’t the most professional response.

  259. #259 Sheril R. Kirshenbaum
    March 25, 2008

    This thread reminds me of great great grandpa PZ’s evolving meme last October. Over time, the origin had a funny habit of evolving in unpredictable directions far from where it began. Evolution of sorts, no?

    A couple hundred comments in, I’ll clarify one point:

    As I explained in the preceding post, no one should be silenced.

    Let Stein have his film. Let Dawkins have his book. So it goes. Move on.

    …it’s time for a new voice to emerge [in science] reflecting our diversity, tolerance, the encouragement of ideas, and ultimately, that we must question what we’re told–in religion, in science, in life.

    PZ knows that a serious dialogue between respected scientists provides a far more convincing platform than a dismissive crass one line nonresponse. I expect more from him and suspect a well-argued reply will foster the productive rather than destructive evolution of ideas.

  260. #260 Duae Quartunciae
    March 25, 2008

    Luna_the_cat, hi. Let’s you and I try to communicate with each other civilly. In a comment dated March 25, 2008 12:15 PM you suggest I have have missed the point.

    Brayton, Duae Quartunciae — you seem to me to have missed the point. The profanity is just a flame. It’s not a witty takedown. It’s just a flame. It’s not a rebuttal. It’s just a flame. It’s not a “that’s a bad idea and I’m not going to follow your advice.” It’s just a flame. The internets is full of flames. It’s not big and it’s not clever, and all it does is encourage a vicious stompfest between people who are all supposed to be holding a line against popular ignorance and dishonesty. And don’t, please don’t, come back with the “But he started it…!” defense; it still wasn’t big, clever, or admirable of Myers to respond that way.

    Luna, I think you are wrong. PZ Myer’s response was angry, and concise, and included a word which appears to have stopped a lot of people reading any further. But his response DID go further, and it DID include a simple substantive defense which was accurate, to the point, and IMHO leaves Matt’s position in smoking ruins.

    I’ve already said most of this in my second comment to this thread; here it is again point form. We may end up disagreeing, which is ok. But I think your account of “the point” is wrong.

    ■ PZ Myers’ response was NOT just a flame. The immediately following sentence pointed out concisely a very good reason why Nisbet is so horribly wrong. Specifically, PZ Myers pointed out that his latest contributions on Expelled have been very effective and left the Expelled produces in damage control spin mode. Quite so. If you think it was “just a flame”, then you failed to read to the end. Some of the comments here have just been flames. PZ Myer’s post to which Sheril objects was not.

    ■ This is the wrong time to ask PZ to shut up; this Expelled debacle is an occasion where PZ should speak up clearly and loudly, and we should all be supporting that. One thing that stands out like a beacon to most commenters, including those like me who sometimes critical of PZ’s tactics, is that the timing of Nisbet’s insulting post shows just how badly Nisbet fails to get the communication issues here.

    ■ I have agreed with you concerning problems with profanity; but frankly I think that is a stylistic choice. I have chosen to use profanity myself, but only on very rare occasions. PZ’s blog posts rarely use such profanity. His interviews and writing for other public outlets are pretty mild.

    ■ Sheril now says the issue is not the profanity, which leaves her with nothing. What should PZ apologize for? Failing to give a substantive response? But he DID give a substantive response.

    ■ I don’t say Matt started it. I say Matt deserved it; which is more to the point. Whether profanity was good or bad tactics we might even agree upon; but it’s a subjective choice, and no basis whatever for demanding apologies.

    ■ The strong disagreement expressed with Sheril and Chris over this whole issue is not just from PZ Myers’ cheer squad. It is also from many of us who prefer and use a much more conciliatory approach in dealing with science and religion issues, and many of us (me too) have had some major public disagreements with PZ.

    I agree that there is plenty of scope to disagree with PZ over tactics; but this is going to be an ongoing debate. Calling for “apologies” over PZ’s understandable contempt and anger is high handed arrogance and a failure to grasp the issues.

  261. #261 Leni
    March 25, 2008

    Good. Perhaps we can all agree to accept more of a “productive rather than destructive” level of commentary from Nisbet than he’ delivered so far.

  262. #262 I don't actually know PZ's mothers name
    March 25, 2008

    I am Paul’s mother and I’ve never even thought about having sex with him. This is uncalled for bitches.

    “PZ Myers is mean and has sex with his mother.”

    I do however have a shotgun and your IP address so expect a social call mutherfulker. I like slugs.

  263. #263 Scote
    March 25, 2008

    This thread reminds me of great great grandpa PZ’s evolving meme last October. Over time, the origin had a funny habit of evolving in unpredictable directions far from where it began. Evolution of sorts, no?

    Well, one reason the comments “evolve” is because your story is changing…

    First, when Myers was essentially told to STFU by Nisbet and Myers responded tersely, it’s

    … your blogpost from yesterday, is entirely out of line:

    “Fuck you very much, Matt. You know where you can stick your advice.”

    That kind of language and reaction is simply unacceptable on and off the blogosphere. ..Shame on you… you ought to apologize.

    But now it’s

    Regular readers know that long before I entered the blogosphere, I’ve vocally celebrated the right to free speech and independent thinking.

    and

    As I explained in the preceding post, no one should be silenced.

    Let Stein have his film. Let Dawkins have his book. So it goes. Move on.

    …and Nisbet his post telling Myers to shut up—ER, oh what, was that anonymous “no one should be silenced” a mea culpa? Let’s see, did you mention Myers or Nisbet? No? Nope, I guess not.

    Hundreds of posts later and you’ve still learned nothing about what was wrong with your first post. What you should have done is say you mis-spoke and shouldn’t have said “un-acceptable” but “inappropriate in your opinion” and then said that you agreed or disagreed with Nisbet and why–backed up by a rational explanation. But, no, instead you try and stand by everything you’ve written and your new excuses all at the same time. You are stretching all credulity to the bursting point by doing so.

    Yup, the thread is evolving and you are the primary reason for that, unfortunately, your story can’t be said to be evolving, only changing, and not for the better.

  264. #264 Scote
    March 25, 2008

    BTW, if you wanted your credibility back you’d have either have stood up for your anti-profanity stance (and be consistent, if questionable) or **changed** some aspect of your previous stances. What doesn’t work is your attempt to have it both ways. “I wrote ‘p’ which means ‘not p’ and I still mean ‘p’”

    You are really taking the wrong lesson from the Expelled producers and their changing stories. You see, when they try to have it both ways it’s considered BAD. Because we are consistent, it is considered BAD when you do it, too.

  265. #265 Orac
    March 25, 2008

    Sheril should just give up and move on. With every “clarification” and new comment she just digs herself in deeper. As a blogger, there sometimes comes a time to realize when one’s screwed up and cut one’s losses. I say this from experience.

  266. #266 Davis
    March 25, 2008

    I expect more from him and suspect a well-argued reply will foster the productive rather than destructive evolution of ideas.

    What entails a well-argued reply to “you should just shut up and let someone else do the talking”? That’s not a position, it’s an imperative. Where I come from, people who say things like that get told where they can shove it, not engaged in polite dialogue. (Funny, my years of academic training haven’t snuffed out that instinct.)

    Sheril, you should take Orac’s advice on this one. Every other SB blogger who has commented on this has said Matt was out of line, even the ones who don’t usually defend PZ (Mark C-C and Orac are prime examples). That should tell you something.

  267. #267 AL
    March 26, 2008

    I don’t get it. PZ tells Matt to fuck off in direct terms, while Matt tells PZ essentially the exact same thing, only without profanity, and this makes PZ the bad guy? I guess it’s OK to tell someone to go fuck themselves, as long as you “frame” it euphemistically and without directly saying fuck.

  268. #268 Lance
    March 26, 2008

    I see the teapot is still in the midst of a category 5 tempest.

    PZ is the dyspeptic vivisectionist ruler of his little corner of the blogosphere. You have offended his sense of importance and now you will bear his puny wrath and that of his fan boys. Actually I rather enjoy his blog but it is not a place that tolerates insolence, i.e. disagreeing with His Squidliness.

    That said Nisbett was out of line by trying to squelch dialogue in his ongoing, and totally ineffectual, “framing” putsch.

    The ID maroons are going to get the same mileage out of their lame docu-martyry as if this little fracas never happened, which will be pretty much be a blip on Fox News and some fliers in evangelical churches.

    Get over yourselves people.

  269. #269 Shirakawasuna
    March 26, 2008

    Sheril: PZ has written a reply, it was well-argued. You and Matt have chosen to focus on superficial qualities (a professor said ‘fuck you’ humorously?) in response, hardly what can be expected from a serious discussion. PZ has even come over to your blog and posted comments with actual substance, pointing out how silly your taking offense is and how it deflects from the real issue – your response? Ignore the fact that you changed the subject and start restating your original criticism, implying some straw men along the way (no one has claimed censorship).

    And you have the nerve to pretend you have the higher ground? I’ll take substantive responses with occasional profanity any day over dishonest tactics and condescension, thanks.

  270. #270 Russell Blackford
    March 26, 2008

    I’m getting a bit bored with this topic, but I still think there’s a serious issue here:

    http://metamagician3000.blogspot.com/2008/03/no-one-has-monopoly-on-speaking-for.html

    Maybe time for us all to move on soon. There are many other issues for us to worry about.

  271. #271 Luna_the_cat
    March 26, 2008

    Coin: good points. However, given that the Seed-sponsored blogs are maintained for the purpose of being a sort of centralised platform for a variety of people involved in different aspects of science, to communicate how they think and what they think both to other people in the sciences and to a wider public…I still maintain that this makes them “colleagues”, in much the same way that the database people and the server infrastructure people and the web people are all my colleagues. Different specific goals, different specific fields, larger general context, larger general goal. We may have to agree to disagree on that one, but I don’t think you can say unambiguously that there is no case for them being colleagues. And certainly, the interaction between different bloggers here IS what makes this environment.

    Scholar — thank you for the “I see nothing wrong, therefore you are all playing victims” perspective. Duly noted for all the importance that it has.

    Sigmund — that was me. That comment was also in response to a direct insult+ad hominem sexist attack aimed at me (hardly a winning argument), and you don’t have any idea of the story behind it. I’m not particularly proud of that comment, but I do stand by it. Please note, though, that the comment made to me was done for no purpose whatsoever
    other than to insult me (it worked), and I am not a pre-eminant blogger here speaking to a colleague.

    To various people — no, I thought that Nisbet was being an idiot as well, and I said so on his post. The difference is, when I posted that there it wasn’t immediately faced with half-a-dozen people crying foul and demanding an explanation, so having said what I went there to say I did not feel the need to keep going back to explain it, and it remains as one post.

    The problem pointed to here, on this specific post, is the let’s-just-have-an-unintelligent-flamewar response. Honestly, I wouldn’t have thought that this concept was so difficult for people to see.

  272. #272 Sigmund
    March 26, 2008

    Luna, just a piece of friendly advice. Just because someone argues against a point of yours it doesn’t mean it is a direct ad-hominem sexist attack. Of course it could be but most people have no way of knowing your gender by your messageboard handle. It is a mistake to assume that someone who is mocking an illogical argument is engaging in a personal attack and even if it does descend into a personal attack it doesn’t necessarily make it sexist if they are male and you are female (or vice-versa).

  273. #273 Luna_the_cat
    March 26, 2008

    Sigmund, hon, I do know that. The crack made — and responded to in the fashion mentioned above — was specifically about whether or not I should ever be involved in the effort to eliminate female genital mutilation, apparently made as a gratuitous crack about my personality and competence, not as an argument about the whaling issue. **Also, the points on the whaling issue were responded to as points on the whaling issue, explained clearly, and the person to whom I was responding seems to have -finally- understood.** I have also never made any secret, anywhere, about the fact that I’m female; I don’t get mistaken for male all that much.

    All in all, it was what it was, which was an insult just for the sake of insult, and responded to as such. I try to keep my temper and act like a civilised creature — most of the time — but I’m not a doormat, either; and on that particular issue, it just so happened that it affects people I know personally, friends, and is an effort I have actually been involved in trying to criminalise in the UK. Make sense to you?

    OT for this thread, though.

  274. #274 Luna_the_cat
    March 26, 2008

    Oh, and the point I failed to make — whether it was the crack about female mutilation or words loaded with sexist overtones like “prissy” and “shrill”, if the person in question is not being sexist, then why the use of sexist hot-buttons?

  275. #275 Sigmund
    March 26, 2008

    Now now Luna, its certainly going off topic to this debate but I’ve read that thread and you and I both know that what you have just said is untrue. You excused particular actions regarding whaling as being tribal practices, an excuse that has been used by apologists for several other inhumane practices and it was simply pointed out to you, by extending it to other questionable tribal practices, that this is hardly a good argumentative strategy. More than one example was given (I seem to recall cannibalism being mentioned too) but you chose to fly off the leash about just one of them and frame it as some sort of sexist attack on you!
    Help, Help, I’m being repressed!

  276. #276 Lee Harrison
    March 26, 2008

    Paul W’s comment here: http://scienceblogs.com/intersection/2008/03/pz_myers_mind_your_manners.php#comment-803917

    easily wins the thread. He’s outlined, very well, the real issues and cut through the fluff. As well as getting into the details of profanity in communication, he also relatively calmly points out the simple truth that…

    (deep breath)

    …this is a fucking BLOG, people!!!! What the hell else did you EXPECT!!!

    (ahem)

    This is not a televised debate seen by millions – it’s a teacup tempest read by a small group of interested parties and maybe a different small group of agressive parties who are looking for quote mines to assist in their ‘choir-preaching’. It’s not big-picture important.

    It’s also not a scientific conference. It’s a BLOG with a science flavour – a science ‘frame,’ if you will. A BLOG- a place where personal opinions are expected, where venting is expected, and where forthright responses to condescending bollocks are expected (at least by adults).

    I’d like to see Sheril and Chris respond to Paul W’s post substantively.

  277. #277 Luna_the_cat
    March 26, 2008

    Sigmund, no, no, you know that is not true.

    The point on that was (and yes, this is wandering very far off this blog post), that human interests trump animals’ interests EXCEPT where (a) it is to the detriment of an entire species, (b) it is against the law, or (c) where it can be demonstrated empirically that the “animals” in question have an equal moral status to humans. That was, *I* thought, made entirely clear. The issue with the aboriginal hunting, is that there is some actual aboriginal hunting of whales which (a) is genuinely necessary for the survival of human communities, (b) is not threatening the survival of the entire species of hunted whales, and (c) is legal and well-regulated, so there is genuinely an argument for allowing aboriginal hunting while still protesting the Japanese hunting, which is none of the above. I’m frankly amazed that you are passing over all of this as if you did not see or understand any of it, in order to harp on about the insult aspect of that conversation, and to try to “frame” it as if I were all about crying victimhood. Anyone who wants to can go back and read; you do know that we can go back and see the whole conversation, right?

    Unless you have something actually substantive to add, consider this part of the conversation closed.

  278. #278 Dobby
    March 26, 2008

    The bottom line is that the “framers” here are upset that Dr. Myers was even interviewed for the film – albeit under false pretenses – in the first place. They would have preferred that PZ defer the interview to some PR committee, which would have spent endless hours devising milquetoast responses to be given by an agreed-upon talking head.

    And guess what? The IDers still would have been able to splice whatever diplomatic non-answers were given in an effort to make the scientific community look like fools.

  279. #279 Rev. BigDumbCHimp
    March 26, 2008

    Having suffered through every single comment including the OP, I still come to one conclusion.

    Being upset about a terse and arguably offensive word and ignoring the substance of the overall argument is a very lame attempt to deflect the criticism that PZ was pointing at Matt, Chris et al.

    Continuing to to be so Mrs. Reverend Lovejoy offended (“Won’t somebody please think of the children!”) does nothing other than to further the overall appearance that PZ is exactly correct. That you are all consumed with your shit not stinking and if everyone eats exactly they way that you think is best, their shit can smell like roses too. If they don’t eat like you say is the only way to eat, then they are the ones causing all the stink in the room.

    All the while everyone at your table is holding their noses.

  280. #280 Joe Shelby
    March 26, 2008

    PZ knows that a serious dialogue between respected scientists provides a far more convincing platform than a dismissive crass one line nonresponse. I expect more from him and suspect a well-argued reply will foster the productive rather than destructive evolution of ideas.

    I think PZ’s point was he’d already had that “well-argued reply” some 6 months ago when the Framing argument first came up, found his position pretty much ignored, and then was told this week “you’re wrong, you’re always wrong, so just shut up” in no uncertain terms.

    If you know the other side has no intention of listening, then there’s little point in talking, is there?

    PZ was not reasoned with to start with; he, and ALL atheists and agnostics, were crassly insulted.

  281. #281 Daryl McCullough
    March 26, 2008

    AL writes: I don’t get it. PZ tells Matt to fuck off in direct terms, while Matt tells PZ essentially the exact same thing, only without profanity, and this makes PZ the bad guy? I guess it’s OK to tell someone to go fuck themselves, as long as you “frame” it euphemistically and without directly saying fuck.

    Uh, yes, I think so. The form in which something is expressed makes a difference. In particular, some ways of expressing disagreement make reconciliation much harder. Maybe you think this shouldn’t be the case, but it is.

  282. #282 Carol
    March 26, 2008

    What frustrates me most, being an atheist, is that this entire ridiculous affair proves Sheril’s point overall.

    Certain more vocal writers create a very hostile environment. Rather than patiently pointing to science as evidence for why we believe what we do, we create a very unpleasant place making us easy to dismiss.

    Good for Ms. Kirshenbaum for being brave enough to stand up to the king-of-scienceblogs. I read Pharygula and agree with much of what PZ writes, but in this case, the sheer response to this post demonstrates why we must change our approach.

  283. #283 Scote
    March 26, 2008

    What frustrates me most, being an atheist, is that this entire ridiculous affair proves Sheril’s point overall.

    That’s not really possible because she keeps changing what she claims her point is–which is part of her problem.

    BTW, being reflexively stubborn in the face of clear evidence that your argument is self-contradictory isn’t brave nor should it be applauded.

  284. #284 Duae Quartunciae
    March 26, 2008

    In a comment dated March 25, 2008 12:15 PM, Luna_the_cat suggests I have missed the point.

    Brayton, Duae Quartunciae — you seem to me to have missed the point. The profanity is just a flame. It’s not a witty takedown. It’s just a flame. It’s not a rebuttal. It’s just a flame. It’s not a “that’s a bad idea and I’m not going to follow your advice.” It’s just a flame. The internets is full of flames. It’s not big and it’s not clever, and all it does is encourage a vicious stompfest between people who are all supposed to be holding a line against popular ignorance and dishonesty. And don’t, please don’t, come back with the “But he started it…!” defense; it still wasn’t big, clever, or admirable of Myers to respond that way.

    But this is simply false. PZ Myer’s response was NOT just a flame. There is more than the one sentence with a word that appears to have stopped a lot of people reading any further. But for those who keep reading, it was followed by a substantive defense which was accurate, to the point, and IMHO leaves Matt’s position in smoking ruins. He said also: “I’m much more impressed by the fact that the Expelled crew is in damage-control mode and is beating a hasty retreat than the pontifications of a mealy-mouthed hack.“, with a link to a demonstration of the case.

    Now frankly, I’m staggered that everyone fixates on “fuck” but not on “mealy-mouthed hack”. The later, in my view, is much worse. Unfortunately, it seems increasing apt. Regardless, the point about putting Expelled into damage control is an effective and substantive response to Matt’s absurd call for Myers to keep silent. It is not just a flame. It engages and shows why Matt is wrong.

    Luna, this is intended as a civil but robust reply setting why I think you are incorrect. In point form:

    ■ PZ Myers’ response was NOT just a flame. The immediately following sentence pointed out concisely a very good reason why Nisbet is so horribly wrong. Some of the comments here have just been flames. PZ Myer’s post to which Sheril objects was not.

    ■ This is the wrong time to ask PZ to shut up; this Expelled debacle is an occasion where PZ should speak up clearly and loudly, and we should all be supporting that. One thing that stands out like a beacon to most commenters, including those like me who sometimes critical of PZ’s tactics, is that the timing of Nisbet’s insulting post shows just how badly Nisbet fails to get the communication issues here.

    ■ I have agreed with you concerning problems with profanity; but frankly I think that is a stylistic choice. I have chosen to use profanity myself, but only on very rare occasions. PZ’s blog posts very rarely use such profanity. His interviews and writing for other public outlets are pretty mild.

    ■ Sheril now says the issue is not the profanity, which leaves her with nothing. What should PZ apologize for? Failing to give a substantive response? But he DID give a substantive response.

    ■ I don’t say Matt started it. I say Matt deserved it. Whether profanity was good or bad tactics we might even agree upon; but it’s a subjective choice, and no basis whatever for demanding apologies.

    ■ The strong disagreement expressed with Sheril and Chris over this whole issue is not just from PZ Myers’ cheer squad. It is also from many of us who prefer and use a much more conciliatory approach in dealing with science and religion issues, and many of us (me too) have had some major public disagreements with PZ.

    I agree that there is plenty of scope to disagree with PZ over tactics; but this is going to be an ongoing debate. Calling for “apologies” over PZ’s understandable contempt and anger is high handed arrogance and a failure to grasp the issues.

  285. #285 George
    March 26, 2008

    This used to be a blog site worth coming to read from time to time. No longer. Bye. Delete from favorites…

  286. #286 Mike
    March 26, 2008

    Jim Lippard got it right in his typically succinct style but the inability to admit a mistake has brought many down before this.

  287. #287 Scote
    March 26, 2008

    The Intersection has never lived up to my expectations as a blog. And now even less so.

    To add to what Duae Quartunciae says, “■ Sheril now says the issue is not the profanity, which leaves her with nothing. What should PZ apologize for? Failing to give a substantive response? ” Well, it is worse than that. In her next thread, she describes this one as “suggesting a simple use of decorum” WTF, I though your addendum said this thread isn’t about the profanity (as it so clearly was by her own words), but the substance???

    She really can’t keep her story straight. It is one thing to make corrections, but they aren’t corrections if you try and hold multiple contradictory positions concurrently. Sheril seems incapable of admitting error of any sort, even when faced with her own clear self-contradictions–pretty stupid considering how smart she can be when she isn’t being an indefensibly stubborn stuffed shirt. She really should ask someone who isn’t her friend, lover or sycophant to giver her an objective overview of the situation to her.

  288. #288 Barry
    March 26, 2008

    Just skimmed this thread and to Scote- Everyone gets you like checking the intersection all day, but it can’t be good for your eyes to spend so much time at your computer. How about a hobby or team sport? You must singlehandedly account half of their visits per day. LOL

  289. #289 Scote
    March 27, 2008

    @Barry,

    Ahh, the Ad Hominem attack! Rather than argue that my posts are factually or logically flawed you argue that, er, I visit too often (for which you will be tempted to claim this reply is proof). What can I say, I find hypocrisy by science bloggers who know better to be very, very annoying and I was rather hoping that SK would come to her senses and pick a set of points that don’t contradict each-other. One can still hope.

    As for you, if the best you have got is that I post a lot, well, then you haven’t got much of a point. And as for traffic? Well, that spike does seem to be over, what with all of 6 posts in the newest thread. Note that I’m not posting there, as it wouldn’t be relevant, so don’t even try to claim that I’m trolling, nor “protesting too much.”

  290. #290 the real cmf
    March 31, 2008

    re: PZ Myers said *”Ben Stein daubing himself with the ashes of Dachau”* That is soooo anti-semitic…Is it only anti-semitism then, when left wing Jewish ideas are under scrutiny? Is ok to mock right wing jewish thought,tactical positioning, and idiocy ala Stein in such a Jew bashing way then?

  291. #291 Scote
    April 1, 2008

    “re: PZ Myers said *”Ben Stein daubing himself with the ashes of Dachau”* ”

    Really? It’s actually a Christian film hosted by, I hear, non-observant Jew. PZ would have, I think, said the same thing regardless of the religion of the maudlin melodramatist performing such an act, even of an atheist. And, I might point out, PZ is arguing for the respect of the holocaust rather than cynical invocation of it for political purposes not related to it.

  292. #292 bal
    April 3, 2008

    Nice to meet you.
    I had a look at blog.
    Please link to this site.
    http://www.geocities.jp/edokmet/

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