Pharyngula

Godless, 1205: Godly, 778

We win! In a debate in London pitting Hitchens, Dawkins, and Grayling against a team of theists, Neuberger, Scruton, and Spivey, the audience voted solidly in favor of those obnoxious atheists.

I’m not sure what the consequences are, but it may mean that every Christian in England has to leave the country. Expect mobs of pious Anglicans to start washing up on beaches in Virginia and Pennsylvania any day now.

Comments

  1. #1 Blake Stacey, OM
    March 29, 2007

    There are enough pious Anglicans left to constitute a mob?

    :-/

  2. #2 The Dude
    March 29, 2007

    Uh, why has someone gone and ruined your website by adding those graphics (???) at the beginning of your posts? As a regular & and a web developer I can tell you that it is graphically unnecessary and only succeeds in making the post more difficult to read (I can barely make out the “Category:…” bit on my screen).

    Just because you can add something doesn’t mean you should and this is just adding so much more clutter to a nice site that didn’t need it.

    I dig the octopus at the bottom of each one though…

  3. #3 The Dude
    March 29, 2007

    Uh, why has someone gone and ruined your website by adding those graphics (???) at the beginning of your posts? As a regular & and a web developer I can tell you that it is graphically unnecessary and only succeeds in making the post more difficult to read (I can barely make out the “Category:…” bit on my screen).

    Just because you can add something doesn’t mean you should and this is just adding so much more clutter to a nice site that didn’t need it.

    I dig the octopus at the bottom of each one though…

  4. #4 ctenotrish
    March 29, 2007

    Ummm, been there, done that, anyone?

    If my ancestors came from England (and in part they did), why are there still English-folk!?

    P.S. Ha ha!

  5. #5 The Dude
    March 29, 2007

    Uh, why has someone gone and ruined your website by adding those graphics (???) at the beginning of your posts? As a regular & and a web developer I can tell you that it is graphically unnecessary and only succeeds in making the post more difficult to read (I can barely make out the “Category:…” bit on my screen).

    Just because you can add something doesn’t mean you should and this is just adding so much more clutter to a nice site that didn’t need it.

    I dig the octopus at the bottom of each one though…

  6. #6 notthedroids
    March 29, 2007

    I think it is the video ad that makes Safari crash on my iMac at home nearly everytime I bring up pharyngula. Which means I don’t read it at home any more.

  7. #7 Steve_C
    March 29, 2007

    Hey Obi Wan… I mean notthedroids…

    are you running OS X 10.3.9?

    Does the same to me at home on a G4.

  8. #8 quork
    March 29, 2007

    Mr Hitchens wanted to defend society against “those who know they are right”, while Baroness Neuberger said she did not recognise that picture of religion. The nice cuddly liberal Jews whom she knew were very able and willing to embrace doubt. “Belief matters a good deal less than how you live your life,” she said – begging the question of why bother with the belief.

    Nice job of filling in the blanks, we wouldn’t be likely to see that from an American journalist.

  9. #9 wjv
    March 29, 2007

    Wow. Imagine having to debate Dawkins, Grayling and Hitchens all at the same time. I feel… pity.

    Nah.

  10. #10 Mike Fox
    March 29, 2007

    I am running 10.4.9 and pharyngula has been making my cursor flicker between pointer and “link finger” anywhere and everywhere. This didn’t start until the “ad job.”

  11. #11 Neil
    March 29, 2007

    I think it’s pretty obvious that God exists and is really pissed that this discussion is taking place. Otherwise why would He be making some of the posts show up three times? To reflect the indivisible oneness of the Trinity, of course! I mean, I don’t understand why it happens, so it must be…never mind.

  12. #12 notthedroids
    March 29, 2007

    Steve_C,

    Can’t remember the exact OS version, but it’s a slightly klugey setup. Web-surfing on Safari is pretty slow, but rarely crashes . . . except on pharyngula, unfortunately.

  13. #13 Andrew
    March 29, 2007

    Just be careful what you wish for. A few hundred years ago a bunch of English religious nuts washed up on America’s shores. Now we have Dobson, Robertson, Intelligent Design, Bush, etc. Could it get any worse?

  14. #14 Ethan
    March 29, 2007

    Interesting to note how the vote pattern changed. It looks like the numbers before and after the debate left the pro-god side the same, but a huge majority of the undecideds were convinced of the anti-god side. Entrenchment is a powerful force…

  15. #15 Jeb, FCD
    March 29, 2007

    @Mike Fox
    I’m running the same configuration as you on a Mac Book Pro and have no problems.

  16. #16 FlipConstantine
    March 29, 2007

    Just wanted to respond to the folks having problems with Safari. I loaded it up after reading your comments and I’m not having any problems at all. I’m on os 10.4.9 and running safari with Stand and Saft. I’m on a Core 1 Duo iMac, so is this possibly only a problem for powerpc macs?

    Also Notthedroids: you can find the version by going to “about this mac” under the apple menu

    Just thought I’d add my .02 to the people with problems.

  17. #17 Steve_C
    March 29, 2007

    Yeah. It only crashes for me at home on a G4 and it’s not a 10.4 os.
    Before the ads it never crashes. Apple did do some security and quicktime updates
    around the time the ads showed up however.

    I have a G5 at work and haven’t had any issues here.

  18. #18 greensmile
    March 29, 2007

    whiners: delete your flash player. the space where an ad WOULD be chewing my bandwidth has just a “we’re sorry. You need to update your flash player” image link.

    i’m lucky that way and I am not about to click that link.

  19. #19 jtdub
    March 29, 2007

    If journalists and bloggers don’t learn the difference between begging the question and raising the question my head may very well explode.

  20. #20 El Christador
    March 29, 2007

    “The Queen is inseparable from the Church of England. God is an optional extra.”

    Yes, Prime Minister

  21. #21 dustbubble
    March 29, 2007

    Oh dear, looks like we did it again, andrew (#13). We thought the last lot of psycho god-botherers had swallowed that Genoese wide-boy’s tales, about huge islands to the west. Now you’re saying it was true all along? Damn! They were supposed to fall off the edge.
    We’re terribly sorry. Can we make it up to you?

  22. #22 Nathan Parker
    March 29, 2007

    The Dude wrote: (three times)

    making the post more difficult to read (I can barely make out the “Category:…” bit on my screen).

    I agree.

  23. #23 Fatboy
    March 29, 2007

    Beaches in Pennsylvania? Are they getting there by way of the Great Lakes?

  24. #24 The Ridger
    March 29, 2007

    jtdub: you will lose this. beg the question is a lousy translation of petito principi – no one can possibly guess what it means without being told. I think we should just return to Latin, like we do for so many other fallacy names. Let beg the question mean what it sounds like it means, which is something we do need a term for.

  25. #25 foo
    March 29, 2007

    For all those with advert problems, install firefox and the adblocker plugin… and bob’s your uncle.

  26. #26 Roger
    March 29, 2007

    Please PLEASE don’t send them here PZ! We have enough whackos in VA to deal with. Make them go to… I dunno, Mars might be a good spot for them.

  27. #27 Roger
    March 29, 2007

    Then again, Mars might be too good for them…

  28. #28 John
    March 29, 2007

    On a godless note, Here’s an article that bothers me: religious tolerance is interfering with national security! (Of course, the actual relevance of photo IDs to national security issues is debatable, at best, but…)

  29. #29 CalGeorge
    March 29, 2007

    How many of the 778 voted in favor of religion because they find kookballs like Jonathan Wells, Ken Hamm, Casey Luskin, etc. entertaining?

  30. #30 llewelly
    March 29, 2007

    Expect mobs of pious Anglicans to start washing up on beaches in Virginia and Pennsylvania any day now.

    No no no – they will stroll up onto the beach, after walking
    across the water.

  31. #31 brtkrbzhnv
    March 29, 2007

    petito principi

    petitio principii

  32. #32 llewelly
    March 29, 2007

    Those of you curious about Pennsylvania’s beaches, know they are in
    the Lower Counties .

  33. #33 Kristine
    March 29, 2007

    the philosopher Professor AC Grayling and the evolutionary biologist Professor Richard Dawkins, to whom Mr Hitchens referred tongue-in-cheekly as a “spokesman for the moderate wing” of the atheist movement

    Hahaha! Inyer face, Dawkins critics! (Hitchie must be scoping out a mate, dragging out the humor n’such.)

  34. #34 Bill Dauphin
    March 29, 2007

    Then again, Mars might be too good for them…

    Naahh. Everybody (but especially the Brits) knows Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids.

  35. #35 Peter McGrath
    March 29, 2007

    Can I call this thread to order? The headline here is Brits send religion packing, not Macs falling over. Will the USA kindly get a grip on its noisy fundamentalists, or we may have to revoke your independence and re-appoint a minister for the colonies.

    ibook G4, OSX 10.3.9, Safari never cra

  36. #36 Peter McGrath
    March 29, 2007

    shes.

  37. #37 Bechamel
    March 29, 2007

    Safari never cra

    shes.

    Sure it doesn’t…

  38. #38 Krystalline Apostate
    March 29, 2007

    That was a pretty cool article. What was even more entertaining, was the theists posting a response. “Don’t forget Matthew blah-blah-blah”, nihil ex nihilo, all the standard canards…that 2witnesses seemed like 2 people, sharing the same body (conspiracy wacko extraordinaire).
    PS, I’m using XP, & having absolutely no problems. ;P

  39. #39 Steve_C
    March 29, 2007

    I’m using OS X and having no problems. ;P

  40. #40 Azkyroth
    March 29, 2007

    I still have to manually disable Java (not Javascript) every time I open Opera on my laptop, or else it crashes within a usually short time of browsing scienceblogs sites. I emailed the webmaster about it most of a week ago and haven’t heard back. At any rate, I think I’ll do the same on my desktop, since I believe it prevents the ad from loading properly, which presumably means they don’t get the revenue they would have if I’d loaded it, which serves them right for not adequately bug-testing a feature like this–it’s apparently causing a lot of problems for a lot of people and they don’t seem to be very responsive.

    As for deleting Flash, since it does in fact serve useful and desirable functions, that would be a bit like nuking Seattle to nail the DI.

  41. #41 Steven
    March 29, 2007

    Fantastic.

  42. #42 Martin
    March 29, 2007

    FWIW, I’ve never had Safari crash here.

  43. #43 Graculus
    March 29, 2007

    Safari sucketh. We have banished it from the Macs at work. Try a different browser.

  44. #44 Tex
    March 29, 2007

    Azkyroth – ‘that would be a bit like nuking Seattle to nail the DI.’

    Sounds like a plan to me.

  45. #45 sue
    March 29, 2007

    glad it is not just my iMac crashing every time i try to read pz and everyone who writes on here…have been really frustrated for past week or so with no intelligent conversation to read……..man in apple shop said change to firefox……..but hopefully if i can read this post does that mean it has been fixed at your end and can stay with safari now??????

  46. #46 John Pieret
    March 29, 2007

    [Cough] … is it bad of me to point out that, in a in a country where 63% of the populace say that they are not religious, getting 61% of any audience to vote in favor of obnoxious atheists is not necessarily a major victory?

  47. #47 Azkyroth
    March 29, 2007

    but hopefully if i can read this post does that mean it has been fixed at your end and can stay with safari now?

    More likely that the instability is intermittent.

  48. #48 PZ Myers
    March 29, 2007

    It’s not bad, but it is silly and pointless. The frequency of the unreligious country-wide is irrelevant when considering the self-selected population that attended the event.

  49. #49 John Pieret
    March 29, 2007

    The frequency of the unreligious country-wide is irrelevant when considering the self-selected population that attended the event.

    Really? What self-selection do you have evidence for that didn’t reflect the general populace’s religious beliefs? I missed that in the articles you referenced.

  50. #50 Saint Gasoline
    March 30, 2007

    I wish I could have heard that. I love Dawkins, and even on the theist’s side I must say that I’ve found Roger Scruton’s philosophy books rather entertaining. This would have been a great event to attend. Too bad I live in Missouri.

  51. #51 Tatarize
    March 30, 2007

    >>Really? What self-selection do you have evidence for that didn’t reflect the general populace’s religious beliefs? I missed that in the articles you referenced.

    So your argument is that if PZ can’t prove that the people who went to the debate *wanted* to go to the debate he must fail and endorse the ‘default position’ that the audience is comprised of a randomly selected sample? That’s an odd shift in the burden of proof. The fact that the audience elected to be there is sufficient to prove they are a self selected sample. What types of people would select themselves to attend is another question altogether but fairly irrelevant on account of having the data prior to the debate and after the debate.

    It takes work to show that a sample is randomly selected, the fact that every person who attended didn’t elect to travel any distance (most are probably local) is enough to restrict the sample. You really can’t show (from the evidence on the table) that the data from a randomly selected slice of the general public fits this specific, self selected, audience. And since you are making the claim, it’s on you to evidence such a claim.

  52. #52 BobboUnit
    March 30, 2007

    John Pieret said, “Really? What self-selection do you have evidence for that didn’t reflect the general populace’s religious beliefs? I missed that in the articles you referenced.”

    Silly.

    Self-Selection: Those who wanted to show up did so. They are only a small subset of the debate attending population, much less the General Population.

    Do you think that the same critera that was used in the poll you referenced “ICM interviewed a random sample of 1,006 adults aged 18+ by telephone between December 12 and 13. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.” was used to vet the debate attendees and used for their admission?

  53. #53 Alexender dert
    March 30, 2007

    I just got confused by your catchy tittle. I have yet to fully grab the context on which you are talking. It’s quiet an not that rational subject to talk about from my pointof view.First post on here so I would like to thank whoever it is that has made this http://www.scienceblogs.com possible. I have tried the editor and find it very instinctive, certainly easy and above all functional. Again my thanks go to those who have made it possible.

    As somebody who has invested both time and money in this concept I am very pleased to see it gaining momentum and it is very helpful when a site such as this becomes available to the general public. Well all I can wish for upcoming users is that may all you have website of your own soon. I designed mine from Top Web Design Firm , hopefully all of net bees here get a step better ,may we shall have a very healthy discussion on this plateform.

    Hopefully the site can receive some good exposure over the coming weeks, months as the scenario here gathers pace. Good luck and good fortune to everyone.

  54. #54 amph
    March 30, 2007

    Where is the control experiment? Obviously, they should have voted before and after the debate.
    And I do like the graphics, but not so much that I am going to post that thrice.

  55. #55 Hieronymous Cowherd
    March 30, 2007

    If I might be permitted to consider this as a case ad hominem, I’m amazed the voting went that way considering the parties on either side.

    Dawkins is Dawkins, and, probably due to being married to a time lord, is well on the way to being regarded in the UK as a crank. We like cranks, but it tends to diminish the authority of their arguments.

    Grayling is well known as a publicity whore who unselfconsciously wears a cape. And gives his students reading lists of books out of print, which is unforgiveable if you happen to work in the philosophy department of Waterstones in Gower Street.

    And as for Hitchens, well, Hitchens is pretty much banned from liberal England now on the basis of his slavering devotion to smiting Muslims wherever they occur. It’s also worth noting that Peter Hitchens (journalist) is the brother of Christopher Hitchens (journalist), a hyper conservative pious Anglican, and both brothers’ careers are entirely based on disagreeing with the other brother. A quick dose of family therapy and the British public could be saved thousands of words of sententious ill-thought out journalism.

    On the theists side Nigel Spivey is a tweedy classicist of the sort that probably pops into mind when Hollywood is trying to cast a tweedy classicist and Julia Neuberger is a lovely person marred only by the fact that she expresses that loveliness through religion. Both charmers, basically.

    The fly in the ointment is Scruton, Graylings great UCL rival as philosopher who gets on the radio every time there’s something a bit philosophy-y to discuss. (There was a period in the late 90s when Scuton went quiet – perhaps he was actually working?) and Grayling stepped in to fill his place. Readers may like to note that the UCL philosophy department is a pleasant 15 minute walk away the BBC’s radio studios. Philosopher’s at further flung universities stand no chance of publicity.

    While Grayling’s MO is to be reasonable about everything except religion, Scruton’s philosophy can best be described as contrarianism. He also has one of those very very upper class accents we Brits have long learned to despise. (Never underestimate class as a driver of British society: there was a report on Newsnight last night about child labour on cocoa farms in africa, but I couldn’t concentrate on it because the reporter insisted on pronouncing “down” as “dine”).

    The upshot is that the theists should have carried the day on charm alone. Perhaps the anti-cult of Scruton is still strong enough to overcome the combined egotism that was the atheist bench.

    Meanwhile don’t read too much into the 63% poll listed above: the key question was “do you regard yourself as ‘religious’?”. As a good chunk of christians answered that in the negative, it’s obvious that some people simply regarded the question as meaning “do you go to church” not “do you believe in God”. For the record only 16% of people in the last census (2001) identified themselves as having ‘no religion’. The UK census sample size is slightly less than 60,000 times that of the ICM survey. 16% still makes us one of the most irreligious nations in Europe and pisseth on the US theocracy, but it’s not 63%.

    The trick here, as I see it, is to have an established church. You therefore get the stupid hypocrisy of organised christianity shoved in your face all the way from age 5 (until recent reforms religious studies were the only mandatory subjects in British schools). Christianity therefore ceases to be part of your identity and associated instead with stuff you struggle against to form that identity.

  56. #56 Richard Harris, FCD
    March 30, 2007

    Great post, Hieronymous Cowherd! The only bit that surprised me was “Dawkins is Dawkins, and, probably due to being married to a time lord, is well on the way to being regarded in the UK as a crank.”

    Really? (I mean the crank bit.) I don’t get out much, but I hadn’t heard that.

  57. #57 mah9
    March 30, 2007

    @Hieronymous Cowherd: I’m fairly sure that Maths and English have been compulsory for some time.

    But the religious studies element is a hangover to the evolution of the state education system in the UK, which can be traced to people attending Sunday Schools (after church) to learn to read and write, given that Sunday was the only day that they were not in the fields or factory. When full time education was initially made compulsory (I think it was until the age of nine, but this was the mid 19th Century), schools were set up adjacent to churches, often using the same buildings as used for the old Sunday schools. As a result there was always a religious element in the teaching.

    Having said that, my RS at school was primarily based around comparative religion, although I wouldn’t say it was well taught (try learning about Islam from an ex-Army Chaplain from Northern Ireland), but any preaching would have been laughed out of the classroom by the students, and would probably have had the teacher thrown out of the school.

    And there are also now secular schools, with no religious affiliation, unfortunately they tend not to be as well funded and do not get as good results as church schools.

  58. #58 Hieronymous Cowherd
    March 30, 2007

    @mah9, yes, since the advent of the national curriculum. I’m old enough now to regard that as recent.

    @richard harris, I was exaggerating throughout for effect, obviously, but it’s more that I think Dawkins is in danger of becoming a perceived as a crank in Britain. Not necessarily a harmful drank, but a stock figure in the public life who is ignored because you know exactly what they’re going to say and they’re likely to embarrass you when they say it. A bit like the Archbishop of Canterbury.

    A more visible sense of humour and a little less laser-like focus would do Dawkins’ public persona a world of good, but the weaknesses I perceive play very well in the US, where there is obviously much work to be done.

  59. #59 Hieronymous Cowherd
    March 30, 2007

    @mah9, I forgot to mention: religious education is still required by law in British schools. (Education Act 2002, section 80). In practise it’s exactly the sort of comparative wishy washy stuff you describe, but we’re a long way from fully secular education.

  60. #60 mah9
    March 30, 2007

    @Hieronymous Cowherd. Yes we are a long way from a fully secular education, but I’m not too worried about compulsory comparative religion being taught, and in areas without high levels of ethnic and religious diversity it can be the only way that pupils gain any form of exposure to non-white English culture and history. I think the main problems are that RS is generally woefully underfunded, teachers are badly trained in the subject matter, and that it is used as a political football (although that happens with education generally, and usually to the detriment of the pupils).

  61. #61 Feòrag
    March 30, 2007

    Just to point out that ‘Alexender dert’ at No. 53 is clearly comment spam.

  62. #62 Daniel Martin
    March 30, 2007

    Expect mobs of pious Anglicans to start washing up on beaches in Virginia and Pennsylvania any day now.

    Others have already pointed to the geography of the Eastern US, but I’d like to point out that the standard place for waste to wash up on shore and be a big scandal is my home state of New Jersey.

    Please get your state-based slurs right.

  63. #63 Heather S
    March 30, 2007

    Keep them away from Pennsylvania we already have enough!

  64. #64 Ian H Spedding FCD
    March 30, 2007

    For recognition purposes here is a mob of pious Anglicans

  65. #65 blf
    March 30, 2007

    I though Beagle was an experiment with ways of deploying pious Anglicans to Mars.

    Successfully: Launch and never hear from again… 😉

    (On the triposting aside: I use Linux and do not have a problem with either Opera or Firefox, albeit I also don’t (and won’t) have a Flash player installed. At larger font sizes, there are layout problems, especially with the not-too-useful graphics obscuring things. But what gets my goat is the poor handling of UTF-8 and HTML entities. Grrrrr….)

  66. #66 John Pieret
    March 30, 2007

    Self-Selection: Those who wanted to show up did so. They are only a small subset of the debate attending population, much less the General Population.

    Well, of course they self-selected by getting a ticket and going through the door. The question was if there was any evidence (apparently not) that the self-selection was such as to change the expected percentages of religious/non-religious that exists in the general populace. Someone could have bussed in a bunch of radical Christianists or the Humanist Society might have bought out the balcony. But in the absence of that kind of information, we’re dealing with speculation of how and if the audience’s relative religiosity differed from the general populace.

    On speculation (but acknowledging my American bias), I’d guess that the audience for a debate on a Wednesday nite is likely to be skewed, if at all, to more educated (and possibly to more intelligent) people than you’d expect from a random sample of the general populace. I would have thought that would give an advantage (vis-a-vis the relative religiosity of the general population) to the atheists.

  67. #67 matt
    March 30, 2007

    @Hieronymous Cowherd: Despite geographical proximity and occasional rumours of takeover, Birkbeck != UCL.

    Also, your ad hom analysis hopelessly underestimates the Scruton Factor: he’s repellent enough to outweigh a whole rugby team of Julia Neubergers…

  68. #68 Leon
    March 30, 2007

    Can I call this thread to order? … Will the USA kindly get a grip on its noisy fundamentalists, or we may have to revoke your independence and re-appoint a minister for the colonies.

    With our political and social history at home and diplomatic track record abroad, I’m actually starting to thing that might not be such a bad idea! We can take this opportunity to borrow the best from each (eg, First Amendment from here, we adopt the metric system like we should have 30 years ago, etc.). But one thing for sure: spellings get standardized from this side of the water!

  69. #69 BobboUnit
    March 30, 2007

    John said “I’d guess that the audience for a debate on a Wednesday nite is likely to be skewed, if at all, to more educated (and possibly to more intelligent) people than you’d expect from a random sample of the general populace.”

    Im glad you finaly woke up to the obvious.

    Now does PZ’s statement, “It’s not bad, but it is silly and pointless. The frequency of the unreligious country-wide is irrelevant when considering the self-selected population that attended the event.”, make more sense to you?

  70. #70 David Marjanovi?
    March 30, 2007

    Using Internet Explorer 7 and Windows XP here, I should mention that the main page often doesn’t finish loading. Now, for example, I’ll have to follow the link to the previous post maybe 5 times to reach the post I want to reach.

    And no, I won’t uninstall my Flash player. I need it sometimes.

    “Alexender dert” is indeed obviously spam.

  71. #71 David Marjanovi?
    March 30, 2007

    Using Internet Explorer 7 and Windows XP here, I should mention that the main page often doesn’t finish loading. Now, for example, I’ll have to follow the link to the previous post maybe 5 times to reach the post I want to reach.

    And no, I won’t uninstall my Flash player. I need it sometimes.

    “Alexender dert” is indeed obviously spam.

  72. #72 Kagehi
    March 30, 2007

    Hmm. Odd.. I am using Firefox and a) don’t see this mysterious ad, but I have had the browser freeze for 30 seconds or more on the page load, just like it sometimes does with some such ads on other pages.. Pisses me off too. I am on dialup and often have only 4-5 hours to browser. Having 10-20 minutes of my time wasted by a frozen browser because I opened 5-6 pages from here on articles I want to read (and other places which do the same damn thing to me) doesn’t do anything to improve my fracking mood about how long it takes them to load in general. If I could “see” where the dang ad it supposed to be I could use the “Nuke Anything: Permanently” to get rid of it entirely.

  73. #73 Kagehi
    March 30, 2007

    Hmm. Come to think of it, I have javascript for google-analytics, specificlick, plantyours, brightcove, and doubleclick on the “do not let their javascript run” list, so I might not be seeing the ad do to them not being allowed. But something is “still” fracking with my page loads since they made the changes anyway.

  74. #74 Kagehi
    March 30, 2007

    But one thing for sure: spellings get standardized from this side of the water!

    American English has become a defacto trade tongue. There isn’t much point in “standardizing” such a thing, since two days after you do so some clown from a new trade partner will be mucking up the spelling and pronunciation all over again, usually by introducing new words, concepts or grammer conventions to it that are “not” part of the original system.

    Besides, what language but English is equally confortable with sentences that describe objects “before” telling you what they are *and* telling you what something is, then telling you what it looks like? Spanish you can’t do the former, without some convoluted nonsense. There is no hot soup in Spanish, let alone giant flying pink bananas. You have to *tell* the audience you are going to describe a banana, then tell them why its unusual. Takes all the fun out of things imho. But, english can also go tell you its a banana, and with minimal fuss, compared to stricter languages, then describe what makes it special. Yeah, practically have to tell everyone, in something like spanish, that you are talking about a generic “object”, then provide an entirely seperate sentence that says, “And by the way, the object is a banana.” Ugh!! lol

    Seriously. Orderly languages that carefully define each individual spelling perfectly, and mandate strict grammer conventions, are just… boring. 😉 Its much more fun to have one that tries to incorporate *everyone else’s* words, spellings, grammer, etc. into the mix.

  75. #75 Keith Douglas
    March 31, 2007

    FlipConstantine: I’m on 10.4.8 with an iBook, so the PowerPC thing is ruled out. (As it should be – the code is more or less identical in the user space.) However, I do use Pithhelmet.

  76. #76 sharon
    March 31, 2007

    Absolutely everything wot Hieronymous Cowherd said.

    Except to make the point that we LIKE cranks. In English culture it’s not an automatic pejorative. (And I don’t think that Americans get that most English atheists have a deep and abiding affection for the Church of England. It’s made us what we are today.)

    Hitchens is still an obnoxious drunk git though.

  77. #77 John Marley
    March 31, 2007

    Does scienceblogs have a word vrification feature? Spam comment like #53 are really annoying.

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