Pharyngula

Peter Irons takes on Uncommon Descent

I know there are a few fans of Peter Irons out there — and maybe some of you agree that he ought to have a blog. Since he doesn’t, though, I’m posting a little email exchange he had with Denyse O’Leary and William Dembski, by his request and with the permission of the participants.

There’s a disturbing–but highly revealing–footnote to Bill Dembski’s crusade against Baylor University and its president, John Lilley, for removing the “Evolutionary Informatics Lab” website of Professor Robert Marks from the university’s server. By way of background, Marks had hired Dembski as a “post-doc” in this non-existent lab, through a grant from a foundation funded by Brendan Dixon, a Discovery Institute benefactor, solely to give Dembski a presence at Baylor after his removal as director of the pro-ID Michael Polanyi Center.

Nursing a grudge against Baylor and Lilley for these dual rebuffs, Dembski used his Uncommon Descent blog to strike back, first by posting a fabricated e-mail message from Lilley, and then by urging UD readers to press the Baylor regents to fire Lilley, including their names and home phone numbers on his blog post. Finally, both the Discovery Institute and UD announced that the producers of the Expelled movie would be visiting the Baylor campus, seeking an interview with Lilley.

In response to Dembski’s antics, I sent an e-mail to Lilley, advising him of Dembski’s crusade against him, and warning him of the ulterior motives of the Expelled producers, with a copy to Dembski. In reply, Lilley wrote to me on September 21, “Peter, thanks for your email. It is greatly appreciated. I shall not take the bait on the movie. I greatly regret the difficulty that Dembski has created. John.”

Obviously stung by Lilley’s message to me, Dembski posted his own message to Lilley on UD, saying that “any difficulties you may be experiencing over your suppression of ID-related research at Baylor are of your own creation. My role in this has merely been to shed some light.” Like campaigning to have Lilley fired, right?

After posting this exchange on UD, Dembski’s followers flooded the blog with comments, most of them off-point. One, however, struck my attention. Calling him/herself “Jehu,” one commenter wrote this: “As a former student of Peter Irons, I have to say that I am surprised that he is involved in these antics. Peter Irons does not even have a high school level understanding of biology [not true, and how would "Jehu" know?] So why is he involving himself in the issue of an evolutionary informatics lab at Baylor? Clearly, Irons is revealing himself to be a militant atheist [sic] who cares nothing about science or reason. I guess all those years of tearing down under the guise of constitutional law [referring to my legal work on the Mt. Soledad case] and protecting the rights of Jews and atheists [sic] were just a subterfuge for his true motives [which are…?] I used to think that Peter Irons was just a liberal, now I know the truth.”

I’m used to criticism of my “liberal” views, and generally don’t reply to it. But “Jehu”s reference to “Jews” smacked to me of a not-so-subtle appeal to anti-semitism, considering that Jews were not involved at all in the Baylor dispute. So I e-mailed Dembski, urging that he remove that comment from UD and/or announce that appeals to bigotry would not be tolerated on his blog. Predictably, I got no response.

So I then appealed to Dembski’s UD satrap, Denyse O’Leary, to urge him to take some action. Below is the entire exchange of e-mails between me and O’Leary on this matter, which “shed some light” on UD’s tolerance of bigotry.
Sept. 23: [PI to O'L] “Hi Denyse, As you and I both know, the level of civility among blog commenters, on both sides of the evo/ID controversy, sometimes descends into personal, ad hominem attacks. However, it should never–and I’m sure you agree with me–sink into the cesspool of racial or religious bigotry.

Since you commented yourself on Dembski’s “Not a Parody” post of my correspondence with President Lilley of Baylor, let me note that one commenter on that post, calling him/herself “Jehu” (and supposedly one of my former students at UCSD) attacks me for defending “Jews.” In my legal career, I have defended the rights of Jews, Christians, Muslims, and antheists (citations on request). But why did “Jehu” single out “Jews” in the comment, if not to make an anti-semitic appeal?

Since you seem to have some influence with Dembski, let me make this request of you: post a comment yourself, or (even better) persuade Dembski to do so himself, making it clear that anti-semitic comments (or anti-Muslim, for that matter, re DaveScot [who commented on Muslims "sticking their butts in the air while praying to Mecca"] will not be tolerated on UD. Fair enough? Otherwise, it will remain as a stain on UD.”

Sept. 23: [O'L to PI] “Peter, Not well expressed, but the message is clear: He thinks you only defend “civil liberties” causes–of Jews or others–as a pretext in order to advance an agenda whose outcome will be suppression for anyone who does not adhere to a strict materialist line or function as a fellow traveler, I would have put the matter somewhat differently myself. Cheers, Denyse.”

Sept. 23 [PI to O'L] “With all due respect, I think your Bigotry Meter is set too low for those on your side, although it’s set very high for the occasional expression of anti-Christian sentiment (which I deplore) on pro-evo blogs.

Assuming that “Jehu” was bashing me for defending “Jews” as a “pretext” for my hidden motive of being a “militant ahtiest [sic] who cares nothing about science or reason,” what possible relevance do “Jews” have to this motive, which is wrong anyway? Nobody involved in the Baylor affair, to my knowledge, is Jewish, and my comments on it did not reference Jews in any way. Your own comment that my “pretext” for these comments is “suppression for anyone who does not adhere to a strict materialist line or function as a fellow traveler” is somewhat puzzling. The Baylor affair has nothing to do with “suppressing” Marks’s expression of his ID views, but with Baylor’s right to control the use of its name on BU servers. I’m sure you disagree with me on this, but that’s my view. BTW, did you intend to evoke the McCarthy era in using the term “fellow traveller”? Who, precisely, are the “fellow travelers” to whom you refer? Finally, since you obviously don’t intend to do anything about the anti-semitic appeal in “Jehu”s comment, I feel free to mention it in the future as an example of the bigotry that is tolerated on UD. OK? Cheers, Peter.”

Sept. 23 [O'L to PI]: “Peter, You are trying to destroy the career of Bob Marks because he has good reason to believe that Darwinian evolution, as presented to the public and to students, is not true. That is likely your only real interest in Baylor. You can say whatever you wish, wherever you wish. You will find the hearers you deserve. Cheers, Denyse.”

Sept. 24 [PI to O'L]: “Hi Denyse, Since you haven’t yet (to my knowledge) posted any of our e-mail exchanges on the Baylor matter, here’s the deal. You have my permission to post mine, provided that you include all of them in their original, unredacted form (along with any commentary you wish to add). That way, I won’t become a victim of your side’s penchant for selective quote-mining. I’d be glad to have a wider audience. Fair enough? Frankly, I doubt you’d want to wash UD’s dirty underwear in public. But I’ll keep my eyes peeled. Cheers, Peter.”

Sept. 24 [O'L to PI]: “Then of course you will be happy for me to make this whole correspondence public–so that people can judge for themselves how happy you would be to see Bob Marks’s SCIENCE arguments against Darwinism publicized to the world–should I choose to publicize this correspondence, right? I should probably publicize the correspondence in my own interests. So why don’t you just go cook up your entirely baseless “anti-Semitism” charges without consulting me further? If this is the best you can do, I really think you should retire from activism. -d.”

Sept. 25 [PI to O'L]: “Hi Denyse, This past Sunday, regarding our e-mail exchanges over the Baylor mattere, you suggested that I would “be happy to make this whole correspondence public” and that it would be in your “best interest” to do so, presumably on UD or P-D [O'Leary's "Post-Darwinist" blog]. I said that would be fine with me, providing my messages were published in full, without expurgation.

You seem to have changed your mind–correct me if I’m wrong. So I assume you’d be happy for me to publish them, on Pharyngula [or other pro-evo blogs], subject to the same condition of publishing them in full. As you know, Dembski excised significant portions of my exchanges with President Lilley on UD. Can you let me know ASAP if this is fine with you? I can’t see why not, since you were recently very hot to trot on this. Cheers, Peter.”

Sept. 25 [O'L to PI]: “Sir, do whatever you wish and do not feel any need to consult me about it. -d.”

Readers of these xchanges can decide for themselves whether I am overly sensitive to the anti-semitic overtones of “Jehu”s reference to “Jews” in his UC comment, or unduly harsh on Dembski and O’Leary for not disavowing his comment. Keep in mind, however, that Dembski and O’Leary supposedly “moderate” the comments on UD, and are certainly aware of my complaints. The big picture, of course, is their unrelenting and increasingly vicious attacks on Baylor and President Lilley, including Dembski’s fabricated e-mail and his calls for Lilley’s firing. Enough said.

Comments

  1. #1 H. Humbert
    September 26, 2007

    Lol @ Denyse O’Leary being referred to as a “him.” (Hey, easy mistake to make.)

    As far as the folks at UD go, absolutely nothing they do could lower my opinion of them.

  2. #2 Rob the Lurker FCD BMWCCA
    September 26, 2007

    I’m no expert, but Jehu’s comment sounds anti-semitic to me.

  3. #3 Ichthyic
    September 26, 2007

    Otherwise, it will remain as a stain on UD

    uh, how on earth could you tell?

    It’s like saying you could see a stain on the bottom of a 20 year old litterbox.

    the only thing that bothers me about any of this is that apparently some people are STILL taking Dembski’s antics seriously.

    why?

  4. #4 jfatz
    September 26, 2007

    > I’m no expert, but Jehu’s comment sounds anti-semitic to me.

    That’s just what I would EXPECT a Jew-rights-defender to say!

  5. #5 noncarborundum
    September 26, 2007

    A minor point, but what in the world does Irons have against the word “atheist”? He makes a point of sticking a “[sic]” after it every time it occurs in a passage he quotes. And where does he get the word “antheist” that he uses in its place (which, as far as I can tell, is not attested in any online dictionary)?

  6. #6 Mena
    September 26, 2007

    Lol @ Denyse O’Leary being referred to as a “him.” (Hey, easy mistake to make.)
    At first I thought that I was seeing a bad picture of David Bowie!

  7. #7 garth
    September 26, 2007

    Is it me or did O’Leary just dodge answering every single question Irons asked? And really, if there’s this great ID “research” out there, how come no one ever sees it? I mean, there’s a limit to what the atheist militant whatever conspiracy we’re part of can achieve, and you’d think they’d find some way to get past the forbidding edifice of our wall of suppression.

  8. #8 CalGeorge
    September 26, 2007

    Dembski got hired by a guy who got funded by someone who supports the D.I.?

    That’s pretty bad.

    This I.D. story is getting tiresome.

    It has had its fifteen minutes of fame.

    Conspiracy theories can be fun – the first few times you hear them – but the endless flogging of this b.s. by this ridiculous man has become just plain annoying. And majorly BORING!

    It’s time, Dembski, for you to stop beating the very, very dead I.D. horse.

    Go find something productive to do with the rest of your miserable life. Please!

  9. #9 Coin
    September 26, 2007

    He thinks you only defend “civil liberties” causes–of Jews or others–as a pretext in order to advance an agenda whose outcome will be suppression for anyone who does not adhere to a strict materialist line or function as a fellow traveler…

    Now– I’m having trouble understanding how to interpret this sentence here. Is she saying Jews are “strict materialists”? Or is she saying Jews are “fellow travelers” of “strict materialists”? Or does the sentence just not mean anything at all?

  10. #10 Ichthyic
    September 27, 2007

    Is it me or did O’Leary just dodge answering every single question Irons asked?

    not only did she dodge them, she actually twisted the whole thing in her own mind instead into her believing PI calling “Jehu” for antisemitism was related to Marks being called out for supporting Dembski.

    didn’t you notice the not-so-subtle shift there?

    it’s more formally termed: projection, and these people suffer from an extreme overusage of it.

    less formally:

    they’re friggin’ nuts.

  11. #11 Steven Alleyn
    September 27, 2007

    The [sic] is placed on mispellings that are not the result of typographical errors during transcription, but verbatim copies of mispellings from the original text.

  12. #12 rimpal
    September 27, 2007

    Bill seems to have gotten a bee in his bonnet about this Baylor tamasha. He turns more ridiculous by the day (hard as that mey be for a person like him)

  13. #13 Shawn Wilkinson
    September 27, 2007

    H. Humphrey (#1), you mean Denyse is not a man?! Fooled me…

  14. #14 Brownian
    September 27, 2007

    And you will know they are Christians by their love (of trying to implicate Jews in every perceived conspiracy.)

    These people make me barf. And I’ve got a strong stomach–I regularly eat my own cooking.

    Keep at ‘em, Peter! Good work!

  15. #15 Ichthyic
    September 27, 2007

    Bill seems to have gotten a bee in his bonnet about this Baylor tamasha. He turns more ridiculous by the day (hard as that mey be for a person like him)

    meh, bill is just a petty pimple on the ass of the reconstructionist movement.

  16. #16 phat
    September 27, 2007

    and protecting the rights of Jews and atheists [sic] were just a subterfuge for his true motives [which are...?] I used to think that Peter Irons was just a liberal, now I know the truth.

    That’s certainly something. The fact that O’leary can’t see the obvious motivation behind this statement says a lot about this person. At the very least, O’leary is terribly ignorant of history. That’s not an uncommon problem, to be sure. But I would hope that someone confronted with an attack on atheists and in that attack there is a conflation of Judaism and atheism would see something, anything, odd, just a little bit.

    That’s pretty much it there.

    I suppose I’ll just keep my hat on to hide my horns.

    phat

  17. #17 raven
    September 27, 2007

    Read the exchange. Denyse, quite seriously, doesn’t sound very bright. Or maybe she is just more than a bit crazy. Or just very dishonest. It didn’t look like she understood Peter Irons points in the least. Or cared.

    Yeah, there was some obvious antisemitic tones to Jehu’s message. Why should that be surprising. The KKK and White Christian identity movements are all part of the death cultist universe. You have to remember that the death cultists are very, very, good at hating. They hate other Xians, atheists, and all other religions. And that is just for a start. In their sick world, tolerance and diversity are bad words.

    The Xian reconstructionists/dominionists have no room for anyone who isn’t a death cultist. I’ve read some of their gibberish from the rank and file where they claimed the Pope is the representative of Satan. Catholics and Protestants spent 400 years killing each other and anti-Catholic prejudice still exists in places. Up until recently, it could get you killed being Catholic in the wrong neighborhood in N. Ireland or vice versa I suppose.

    The death cult version of Xianity has as much resemblance to real Xianity as a stuffed bear does to a grizzly.

  18. #18 phat
    September 27, 2007

    The death cult version of Xianity has as much resemblance to real Xianity as a stuffed bear does to a grizzly.

    Um, I hate to ask this, but what do you mean by this. I can think of two interpretations of this statement.

    I can spell them both out if you want.

    phat

  19. #19 arachnophilia
    September 27, 2007

    he’s trying to supress ID research?

    how about this. dembski and co first show that research is being done before they can claim their research is being supressed. cause if all they got is a website, well.

    and frankly, i’m somewhat amused that someone going by the name “jehu” would stoop to anti-semitism. i’m sure that this person doesn’t even realize that jehu is “yehu” as in “yehuda” (judah), the origin of the name “jew.” i mean, it’s one thing to big an israelite king to name yourself after, and be anti-semitic, and another thing to pick the very name you you seek to drag through the mud. i mean, that’s POWERFUL stupid.

    just another idiotic fundamentalist bigot, i suppose. and it doesn’t surprise me that UD won’t moderate that sort of filth. after all, the moderators are way too busy deleting the really offensive stuff: any real scientific content.

  20. #20 arachnophilia
    September 27, 2007

    “one thing to pick an israelite king…”

    i really should hit that preview button more often.

  21. #21 Ichthyic
    September 27, 2007

    At the very least, O’leary is terribly ignorant of history.

    Read the exchange. Denyse, quite seriously, doesn’t sound very bright. Or maybe she is just more than a bit crazy. Or just very dishonest. It didn’t look like she understood Peter Irons points in the least. Or cared.

    yes, and she’s an even smaller pimple than Debbski (yes, the spelling is intentional)

    move on, there is really nothing to see here.

  22. #22 Rich
    September 27, 2007

    Truth in advertising have allowed me to reprint this email exchange:

    ” Dear Dr. Dembski,
    With Immediate effect rename your blog “Uncommon Descent” to “Wah! Wah! Baylor!”.

    You whiny b*tch. “

  23. #23 Ichthyic
    September 27, 2007

    it’s one thing to big an israelite king to name yourself after, and be anti-semitic, and another thing to pick the very name you you seek to drag through the mud.

    It’s just projection.

    common to all fundies, along with a massive use of denial.

    this really is a psychological issue, extreme fundamentalism, not a theological or even general philosophical issue.

    It’s as if someone walked up, covered in small, reddish boils, and people completely ignored the obvious symptoms in favor of thinking the underlying illness was somehow related to a philosophical position.

    seriously, anybody can read a standard freshman psych text, and immediately see the patterns common to every fundie on the planet. they all show two common symptoms, EVERY ONE OF THEM:

    massive over-usage of psychological defense mechanisms primarily consisting of:

    projection and denial.

    they’re damn textbook cases of the phenomena, for FSM’s sake.

  24. #24 peter irons
    September 27, 2007

    Let’s don’t get sidetracked here. In “Jehu”s original comment on UD, he/she twice misspelled the word “atheist” as “athiest,” which is why I put [sic] after it. In transcribing the version I sent him, PZ corrected the misspellings, which makes it look like I was picking non-existent nits. But that’s a minor issue. The real issue is the implicit ant-semitism in “Jehu”s reference to “Jews,” and Dembski and O’Leary’s failure to bounce the comment. It’s still there on UD.

  25. #25 arachnophilia
    September 27, 2007

    projection? yes, probably. especially about islam — everytime i hear a fundamentalist argue about how silly, or evil islam is, i always point out that their arguments also apply to their own beliefs and their own texts.

    but, uh, no those commandments to genocide in the bible are different than the ones in the quran. because, afterall, the christian god is the real one, and that genocide was justified and holy. oh, and hating jews is ok, because god changed his mind, and they didn’t download the update or something.

    i think it goes beyond that, though. it’s not just projection — and i’m not sure denial accounts for the rest. there’s some powerful conditioning and programming going on in fundamentalist churches. it’s truly scary.

  26. #26 Kseniya
    September 27, 2007

    O’Leary interprets Jehu as implying that Irons defends the civil liberties of non-Christians not because he cares about civil liberties, but because he’s a soldier in The War on Christianity — one who is working towards the establishment of Darwinist Atheism as the de facto State Irreligion, with Liberty and Justice for None (except Materialists and their Fellow Travelers).

    Apparently, O’Leary agrees with Jehu – vehemently, I’d say – for she blatantly accuses Irons of “trying to destroy the career of Bob Marks” for the sole purpose of executing a preemptive strike against “Marks’s SCIENCE arguments against Darwinism”.

    File under: Just another example of contemptible dreck from UhDuh.

  27. #27 Caucasian Jesus
    September 27, 2007

    Just remember: it’s not racist if the Bible says it’s OK. Then it’s God’s will!

  28. #28 Paul Lurquin
    September 27, 2007

    Is anyone else getting tired of this crap or is it just me?
    Who really wants to know the minutiae of PZ battling the Denyse and the Demski? This is getting to be ultimately boring, like witnessing the neighbors getting a divorce.

    So, Denyse and Billy are doing their creationist thing, demonstrating their incompetence and stupidity every step of the way. Who the hell cares! Why not follow Genie Scott’s general advice and stop debating and debunking these clowns. PZ, why are you paying any attention to these two losers? The yawning conclusion of this is that you guys all get some recognition in your respective spheres of influence. No net gain anywhere, just a boring draw. Maybe that’s the sad result of the blogoworld: scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours, spew your venom and my friends will spew theirs.

  29. #29 Ichthyic
    September 27, 2007

    i think it goes beyond that, though. it’s not just projection — and i’m not sure denial accounts for the rest.

    NO! the denial and projection are merely symptoms OF the disease, like red boils with white pus centers are symptomatic of measles (and just as gross, actually).

    so you are correct that there lies something BEYOND the projection and denial, but not that projection and denial account for anything more than being symptomatic of a mind under extreme duress.

    and indeed, you DO find similar defense mechanisms being symptomatic of those indoctrinated into cults, which is why they have to be “deprogrammed” in order to interact rationally again. To be clear, again, the defense mechanisms are symptomatic; they merely point to an underlying psychological malady.

    I’d say what is causing the symptoms of denial and projection in the fundies’ case is most likely something related to the old theory of cognitive dissonance, which is actually making a bit of a comeback, perhaps even because of the prevalence of the very thing we are discussing here.

    what causes the cognitive dissonance is the extreme worldview differences between the influences of early peers and later observations of reality.

    papers published in the last few years tend to support this conclusion, especially the one published in Science a couple months back:

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/316/5827/996

    it was blogged about on at least 3 different sciblogs after it was released, btw.

    that said, I don’t want to further detract from PI beating UD over the head with it’s obvious and repeatedly racist, ignorant, and mindless posting behavior, as that is a totally separate issue.

    DaveScott has posted a great many humdingers exactly along the lines of Jehu, and those are still on UD (or in the archives) as well.

    Peter, you should ask the guys at Panda’s Thumb to dig up some of the more egregious posts of DaveScott to add to those of the rest of the morons like Jehu that poot drivel on UD.

  30. #30 Ichthyic
    September 27, 2007

    Is anyone else getting tired of this crap or is it just me?

    nope, not just you.

    but, I suppose if nobody called them on their constant idiocy, the rest of the world would somehow miss it.

    UD is just a microcosm of the reconstructionist movement as a whole, and as such is fair game for exposure on a regular basis.

    The reason that so many ID/Creationist “blogs” don’t allow commentary is exemplified by what you see on UD; if they did, they would constantly have to explain why every one of their supposed “supporters” appears to be a bigoted, ignorant, moron.

  31. #31 Shap
    September 27, 2007

    I actually went to UC (ugh) and saw this disgusting comment by DaveScot:

    “A percentage similar to the number of terrorists who stick their butts up in the air while facing Mecca on a daily basis.”

    You know what? It’s even MORE ridiculous when you put it in context. He was answering this question from another commenter:

    “What percentage of ID researchers believe in God and read the bible on a regular basis?”

    So he was ACTUALLY comparing ID researchers to terrorists! The analogy would be ID researcher:Christian as terrorist:Muslim. So the ID researchers are the christian version of terrorists. Most KKK members believe in God and read the bible, as do Christian terrorists Timothy McVeigh and Eric Rudolph.

    I’m not sure where DaveScot was going with his analogy, but he manages to pull off racism, ignorance, and self-deprecation, without even trying very hard at all.

  32. #32 Ichthyic
    September 27, 2007

    I’m not sure where DaveScot was going with his analogy, but he manages to pull off racism, ignorance, and self-deprecation, without even trying very hard at all.

    that’s DaveScot in a nutshell.

    literally.

    did you know he’s a self described Auto-didact?

    LOL

    seriously, if anybody wants to spend time laughing at UD, go to the “After the Bar Closes” area of the Panda’s Thumb blog, and you will see YEARS of posts of UDites saying the dumbest shit you could possibly imagine.

    It’s the favored hobby of ATBC’ers: making fun of UD.

    you won’t find a better history, or more witty takedown, of UD anywhere.

  33. #34 Ichthyic
    September 27, 2007

    sorry, Rich, I’ll pop back in as soon as I get my own blog rolling, and that has to wait until I finalize my institutional access again.

    (damn interminable wait!)

  34. #35 Abbie
    September 27, 2007

    I dunno, kind of brings to mind the repubs calling for the dems to “disown” the Petreus MoveOn ad.

    Really, if they want to make asses of themselves on their own site, why not let them? I say leave the evidence there for people to see.

  35. #36 tacitus
    September 27, 2007

    Bigots are often unable to recognize the bigotry of others they share a common cause with. Just look at FreeRepublic.com for example. They went nuts when Bill O’Reilly claimed to have found hateful and bigoted comments on their message board, and they demand to see the evidence.

    But all you have to do is Google FreeRepublic for one of any number of gay or Muslim slurs to find that the whole site is riddled with bigotry and hate. Yet their most of their community is completely oblivious.

    No doubt O’Leary is blinded by her own hatred for anyone she believes is a supporter of materialism (even if they are religious). It’s quite clear she feels the need to outdo Dawkins and Hitchens when it comes to attacking her enemies (but she’s a rank amateur in comparison).

    So it comes as no surprise that Peter got the brush off. If a Jewish ID-supported had objected to Jehu’s comment, she would have removed it instantly.

  36. #37 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    September 27, 2007

    There is a part of this exchange that I can’t resolve decidedly. Perhaps I can get some help. I suspect that this has been analyzed in detail elsewhere, so pointers would be fine:

    It is the context really. Dembski is up to his usual “antics” [thanks, Ichthyic!] in acting to have Lilley fired, promoting falsifications, et cetera. But regarding the core issue, Marks’ academic freedom vs Baylor’s right to control the use of its name on its servers, I’m not sure how to resolve the conflict.

    And I’m not the only one who see supportable sides on this issue. The academics are divided. Peter Irons here support Baylor, while the computer scientist Tom English (known from his debunking of Dembski’s misuse of NFL theorems) has joined the resurrected “lab” site. On The Panda’s Thumb, English wrote:

    Steve S suggested that I share what I wrote to him and PvM. I originally planned to silently take the heat for affiliating myself with the EvoInfo lab. I believe that scholars should associate freely, and without explanation. The reason I’m deviating from my plan is that I am appalled to see the mileage the ID movement is getting out of the affair at Baylor. The lab is not doing ID, and I am not an ID convert.

    I joined the lab to protest Baylor’s infringement of Bob Marks’ academic freedom. In my opinion, it’s impossible to discriminate against ID, because it’s a sociopolitical instrument that has no intellectual legitimacy.

    My tentative resolution is that Marks had his freedom, in that the site was moved and he can continue his other work. While Baylor doesn’t have to get associated with a person they don’t want to work with. And perhaps English analysis of that specific situation is in error.

    Again, any thoughts or additional facts, or pointers to earlier analysis, are welcome.

  37. #38 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    September 27, 2007

    There is a part of this exchange that I can’t resolve decidedly. Perhaps I can get some help. I suspect that this has been analyzed in detail elsewhere, so pointers would be fine:

    It is the context really. Dembski is up to his usual “antics” [thanks, Ichthyic!] in acting to have Lilley fired, promoting falsifications, et cetera. But regarding the core issue, Marks’ academic freedom vs Baylor’s right to control the use of its name on its servers, I’m not sure how to resolve the conflict.

    And I’m not the only one who see supportable sides on this issue. The academics are divided. Peter Irons here support Baylor, while the computer scientist Tom English (known from his debunking of Dembski’s misuse of NFL theorems) has joined the resurrected “lab” site. On The Panda’s Thumb, English wrote:

    Steve S suggested that I share what I wrote to him and PvM. I originally planned to silently take the heat for affiliating myself with the EvoInfo lab. I believe that scholars should associate freely, and without explanation. The reason I’m deviating from my plan is that I am appalled to see the mileage the ID movement is getting out of the affair at Baylor. The lab is not doing ID, and I am not an ID convert.

    I joined the lab to protest Baylor’s infringement of Bob Marks’ academic freedom. In my opinion, it’s impossible to discriminate against ID, because it’s a sociopolitical instrument that has no intellectual legitimacy.

    My tentative resolution is that Marks had his freedom, in that the site was moved and he can continue his other work. While Baylor doesn’t have to get associated with a person they don’t want to work with. And perhaps English analysis of that specific situation is in error.

    Again, any thoughts or additional facts, or pointers to earlier analysis, are welcome.

  38. #39 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    September 27, 2007

    Denyse, quite seriously, doesn’t sound very bright. Or maybe she is just more than a bit crazy. Or just very dishonest. It didn’t look like she understood Peter Irons points in the least. Or cared.

    I’m quite certain that O’Leary isn’t the brightest bulb in any chandelier, not even in an Uncommonly Dense setting. But I read the exchange differently.

    O’Leary initially reads Irons as attacking UD’s message instead of the displayed bigotry specifically, despite Irons initial effort. When Irons opens up the door the slightest bit for such a reading by replying with mentioning “sides” (and protesting about her provocative language), she feels certain of her interpretation. Further replies from Irons are met with an increased polarization from DO.

    My analysis of such gradually polarized behavior falls back on O’Leary’s denialism and the cognitive dissonance that characterizes it. As it happens, Ichthyic makes an excellent application of the model on DO.

    I submit that O’Leary’s adoption and use of denialism makes it appear that her intelligence is further compromised. Which of course most of the time is observationally indistinguishable from the underlying DO’hness. :-P

    that’s DaveScot in a nutshell. literally. did you know he’s a self described Auto-didact?

    Further, he is too incompetent to recognize his incompetence. (Another psychological problem along the line of cognitive dissonance, but actually verified in experiments.) He has delusions of grandeur, placed somewhere north of his sphincter.

  39. #40 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    September 27, 2007

    Denyse, quite seriously, doesn’t sound very bright. Or maybe she is just more than a bit crazy. Or just very dishonest. It didn’t look like she understood Peter Irons points in the least. Or cared.

    I’m quite certain that O’Leary isn’t the brightest bulb in any chandelier, not even in an Uncommonly Dense setting. But I read the exchange differently.

    O’Leary initially reads Irons as attacking UD’s message instead of the displayed bigotry specifically, despite Irons initial effort. When Irons opens up the door the slightest bit for such a reading by replying with mentioning “sides” (and protesting about her provocative language), she feels certain of her interpretation. Further replies from Irons are met with an increased polarization from DO.

    My analysis of such gradually polarized behavior falls back on O’Leary’s denialism and the cognitive dissonance that characterizes it. As it happens, Ichthyic makes an excellent application of the model on DO.

    I submit that O’Leary’s adoption and use of denialism makes it appear that her intelligence is further compromised. Which of course most of the time is observationally indistinguishable from the underlying DO’hness. :-P

    that’s DaveScot in a nutshell. literally. did you know he’s a self described Auto-didact?

    Further, he is too incompetent to recognize his incompetence. (Another psychological problem along the line of cognitive dissonance, but actually verified in experiments.) He has delusions of grandeur, placed somewhere north of his sphincter.

  40. #41 MacT
    September 27, 2007

    Further to TL’s comment on DaveScot, the quote below from DaveScot is extracted from a longish response he made to me in a recent exchange on UD regarding how one could design a test for intelligent agency. In trying to drag him away from circularity, I had asked (about 4 times, using increasingly small words) for him to define the nature of intelligent agency. He finally did:

    “It’s my position that the best explanation is the designer of organic life on earth is no longer involved, has not been involved for billions of years, and isn’t coming back. This is called “directed panspermia” and was most famously described by Francis Crick and Leslie Orgel. Life was placed here one time, purposefully, and the initial instance of earth-life was programmed to unfold over time into all we see today.”

    To paraphrase Senator Bentsen: DaveScot, I studied with Francis Crick; I knew Francis Crick; Francis Crick was a friend of mine. DaveScot, you are no Francis Crick.

    BTW, Crick did speculate about panspermia, but later said: “Speculation is fun, but even correct hypotheses without experimental follow-up are unlikely to have much effect on the development of biology.” Amen.

  41. #42 katie
    September 27, 2007

    I’m actually more offended by DaveScot’s comments about Muslims… Granted I’m not either Jewish or Muslim.

    But it really is kind of frightening how quickly they broaden their comments to include people of different religions. Do I detect a little persecution complex?

  42. #43 Dave S.
    September 27, 2007

    garth [#7] –

    Note that Dembski doesn’t say “ID research”, he says “ID-related research”. If nothing else, Dembski is the master of using weasle words to make one thing appear to look like another. Any reaearch can be seen as ID-related, as long as you relate it to ID. Of course he can’t do ID reaserch, because there is no theory from which to draw testable hypotheses. Dembski weasles out of that dilemma by using the word ‘related’.

    Like Homer says, weaseling out of things is what separates us from the animals…except the weasle.

  43. #44 Inoculated Mind
    September 27, 2007

    He thinks you only defend “civil liberties” causes–of Jews or others–as a pretext in order to advance an agenda whose outcome will be suppression for anyone who does not adhere to a strict materialist line or function as a fellow traveler…

    Now– I’m having trouble understanding how to interpret this sentence here. Is she saying Jews are “strict materialists”? Or is she saying Jews are “fellow travelers” of “strict materialists”? Or does the sentence just not mean anything at all?

    It doesn’t make any sense if you think about it in the terms that they use in the outward public discussion. To say all Jews “adhere to a strict materialist line” or are “fellow travelers” to atheists doesn’t make sense – since a great many Jewish people believe in the supernatural and differ with atheists an a great many issues.

    It does, however, make sense in the terms that they probably think about this issue in their heads or in private discussion. Evolution (and more broadly, science, since Denyse is fond of “disproving” materialistic neurobiology) is a “materialistic subversion” of reality as they see it – one in which their deity makes flagella, habitable planets, and HIV and Malaria in all its glory. Depsite the lack of evidence for this, this is what they truly believe. And anyone that so much as defends the scientific method and what knowledge may be derived from it that is contrary to their worldview is a co-conspirator against them and their deity. In other words, if you are not willing to accept their ignorant views about the origin and development of life (and the function of the brain, too) based upon gaps in our knowledge alone, then you are their enemy. If you defend science as it is in court you are their enemy. Anything but full committal to their viewpoint marks you as a “fellow traveler,” a co-conspirator, and a worthy target of any insult they can squeeze out of their keyboards.
    Another odd thing is that they simultaneously rejoice as people of other religious backgrounds get interested in ID, yet, they allow so many insults and bigoted statements about those religious groups on their blogs. This makes more sense if you consider ID as an evangelism tool for their version of Christianity. If ID was taken up by the muslim world and turned against the Christian IDists over here, they might object and claim that it doesn’t support Islam. Only Christianity, and their brand at that. People who are Jewish, Muslim, or whatever, that accept “Intelligent Design” are potential converts and to be respected, but Jews and Muslims that aren’t on their side are not respected and subject to the standard bigoted statements of ridicule that you would expect out of an unseasoned teenager.

    Hope this helps.

  44. #45 slpage
    September 27, 2007

    So, what is Marks’ “science” casting doubt on evolution again?
    And he’s an engineer with no background in biology, yes?

  45. #46 ERV
    September 27, 2007

    Nononononono guys! According to Dembski at OU, UD moderators are ‘hard line’!

    Sexual harassment, sexism, violent metaphors, antisemitism, its all A-OKAY at UD!

    But the second you say anything that supports science- its The Banned for you! They take a hard-line!

  46. #47 Boosterz
    September 27, 2007

    “Otherwise, it will remain as a stain on UD”

    That’s like getting dirt on a compost pile…

  47. #48 Laser Potato
    September 27, 2007

    “Bigots are often unable to recognize the bigotry of others they share a common cause with. Just look at FreeRepublic.com for example. They went nuts when Bill O’Reilly claimed to have found hateful and bigoted comments on their message board, and they demand to see the evidence.
    But all you have to do is Google FreeRepublic for one of any number of gay or Muslim slurs to find that the whole site is riddled with bigotry and hate. Yet their most of their community is completely oblivious.”
    This sort of thing happens in the comment sections on MediaMatters EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. MM is accused of taking comments “out of context” or “distorting” them, when they are in fact just posted unedited on the site and then discussed. There are cases in which Bill O’ himself did it. For instance: http://mediamatters.org/items/200701170009
    Bill says abducted kid liked being molested.
    http://mediamatters.org/items/200702060010
    Bill, still unapologetic.
    http://mediamatters.org/items/200702230009
    Bill, claiming it was taken “out of context”.

  48. #49 Ric
    September 27, 2007

    Honestly, it seems that Mr. Irons does not know how UD operates: they regularly post hateful bigotry; it’s par for the course.

    He also doesn’t know, apparently, that the entire world (those who know of the existence of the piddling little site at least) regards UD as a laughingstock and a joke, nothing more.

  49. #50 Saveau
    September 27, 2007

    Tacitus in #36 –

    “Bigots are often unable to recognize the bigotry of others they share a common cause with. Just look at FreeRepublic.com for example. They went nuts when Bill O’Reilly claimed to have found hateful and bigoted comments on their message board, and they demand to see the evidence.”

    Actually, that’s not quite what went down there: It started with Bill O’Reilly claiming that the Daily Kos was a racist website because a commenter said something he didn’t like (I don’t recall the specifics off-hand, but I believe it was something about American-backed Israeli policies toward Palestine – please correct me if I got it wrong). This caused a number of people to point out that the Daily Kos moderates their comments, condemms hate speech, and eventually bans trolls – and that right-wing trolls get banned after clear warnings that are still visible in the threads. the same people then pointed out right wing hate-speech in the comments at Bill O’Reilly’s own blog with no moderation and no warnings – directly contradicting specific claims he’d made – as well as sites like FreeRepublic. Bill-O naturally ignored the fact that he’d been called – yet again – on his own BS and went on to praise the superior morals of himself and his partners-in-crime.

  50. #51 noncarborundum
    September 27, 2007

    #24:

    There’s no need to tell me what’s a “minor issue”; you’ll notice that I began my post with the words “A minor point, but . . .” And I count only two comments in response to mine (the other guy seriously misunderstood what I was asking), so there’s no danger of sidetracking the discussion here, even if that had been my intention. (Btw: this is a sidetrack, but “bill is just a petty pimple on the ass of the reconstructionist movement” is ad rem?)

    I saw a quotation in which you appeared to disparage the word “atheist” and substitute one of your own devising. This did look very like “picking non-existent nits”, and, given the good press you’d received in this blog and elsewhere, I found it puzzling. Did it hurt to ask?

    I do recognize your major point here, but in general I’m wary of the tactic of holding blogs responsible for what their commenters post. That game has been played against blogs like HuffPost and Daily Kos to feed right-wing accusations of anti-Semitism on the left (in conjunction with such things as the rejection of Joe Lieberman in the 2006 Conn. primary), and I didn’t find it persuasive then.

    Like some other commenters here, I’m more exercised about DaveScot’s comment on Muslims, but only because (as far as I understand UD, which isn’t very) DaveScot is not just another random commenter, but part of the UD power structure.

    But even there, rather than suppressing such comments, I’m in favor of leaving them up as a window into the commenters’ motivations. We now know more about Jehu and DaveScot than we would if their comments hadn’t been allowed to stand. and sunlight is the best disinfectant. Not that we shouldn’t point out and decry such things when we see them, but do we really want to be in the business of encouraging UD to whitewash its image?

  51. #52 Calladus
    September 27, 2007

    PZ, why are you paying any attention to these two losers?

    Uhm… because sunlight is a great disinfectant?

  52. #53 Steve_C
    September 27, 2007

    No amount of bleach or acid could clean the stupid off of UD.

  53. #54 Calladus
    September 27, 2007

    Perhaps we can’t clean it up, but we can prevent the colony from spreading and killing the host.

  54. #55 Shap
    September 27, 2007

    Jehu’s comments didn’t offend me, but that’s because I’m able to weigh the integrity of the commenter, and brush it off easily (I am Jewish). Which is not to say the comment wasn’t offensive (it was) or bigoted, just that coming from someone with such limited mental capacity, it doesn’t affect me personally. (You can tell that the guy/gal is an idiot when he parrots ‘liberal’ as a pejorative, O’Leary reinforces his/her idiocy by denouncing ‘civil liberties’)

    It’s like when Limpo or Blow Reilly say something that’s clearly offensive, I’m not personally offended because I know the source has no integrity.

    I say, leave the comment up. Let the world know who these people really are. It’s not our responsibility to pick up after their mess.

  55. #56 tacitus
    September 27, 2007

    Re: O’Reilly. I am well aware that the spat over hate speech began with DailyKos, but as others have said, Kos does not deny that there are bigoted comments left on the board. That’s just the nature of having a board that gets tens of thousands of comments a day. There are plenty of trolls about.

    But when Billo then attacked FR (in a lamely belated attempt at “balance” no doubt) the FR people cried foul, claiming that they actively delete any bigotry as soon as it’s noticed, so there is nothing like that ever left on the board. But it’s quite obvious, when you search for derogatory names for gays or Muslims via Google, that they make an exception when it comes to gays and Muslims. Sure they will claim that its the gay activists they hate, and the Muslim terrorists, but it’s all too easy to see through that lie.

  56. #57 Cynthia
    September 27, 2007

    @ #28
    Well, I am interested in this Baylor thing because it’s close by and my son has been receiving a lot of “Come to Baylor – We’re great!” material. They do have a good medical school and do a lot of pediatric AIDS work in Africa. However, the school is funded by Southern Baptists who believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible. Since my son is interested in medical research (especially neuro), I have misgivings for him attending the undergrad program there. Baylor teaches evolution in their science classes, but then everywhere else you get bombarded with the “that’s science, but we really know that God did it” argument. I didn’t tell my son not to go there, but explained why I had reservations about the school.

  57. #58 Micah
    September 27, 2007

    This is sadly unsurprising; the UD folks are so primed to see themselves being persecuted in everything that they are completely unable to notice anyone else being targeted.

  58. #59 Moses
    September 27, 2007

    You know what I like the best about this? Dembski is radioactive-for-life and will almost certainly never get back into any reputable academic institution.

  59. #60 Alethias
    September 27, 2007

    I have Jewish ancestry that I only discovered late in life. I tend to be somewhat sensitive to antisemitic sentiments, and I felt that your response was a touch overboard on that issue in an other apt series of responses.

  60. #61 Anton Mates
    September 27, 2007

    Torbjörn,

    Dembski is up to his usual “antics” [thanks, Ichthyic!] In acting to have Lilley fired, promoting falsifications, et cetera. But regarding the core issue, Marks’ academic freedom vs Baylor’s right to control the use of its name on its servers, I’m not sure how to resolve the conflict.

    And I’m not the only one who see supportable sides on this issue. The academics are divided. Peter Irons here support Baylor, while the computer scientist Tom English (known from his debunking of Dembski’s misuse of NFL theorems) has joined the resurrected “lab” site.

    So far as I can see, Peter Irons doesn’t support Baylor in its canning of Marks’ website, nor does PZ. Marks’ lawyer claims that they removed the language on the site which implied Baylor affiliation, and I think most academics are agreed that if he’s telling the truth about this, the university had no further grounds for removing it from their server.

    Of course, as someone on the above-linked thread pointed out, there’s a significant chance that he’s not telling the truth; we have only his word on this issue, and that’s generally not worth much with ID-affiliated lawyers. But unless Baylor presents a different story, yeah, they were in the wrong there.

  61. #62 John Marley
    September 27, 2007

    He thinks you only defend “civil liberties” causes–of Jews or others–as a pretext in order to advance an agenda whose outcome will be suppression for anyone who does not adhere to a strict materialist line or function as a fellow traveler, I would have put the matter somewhat differently myself.

    This one took me a while to parse, too. I came to the concusion that there is a period missing after “function”

    “as a fellow traveller” is a clause conneted to “I would have …”

    That’s my take on it, anyway.

  62. #63 peter irons
    September 27, 2007

    Before this thread peters out (pun intended, but no double entendre), let me reply to some of the latest comments.

    First, Anton Mates is correct that both PZ and I have questioned Baylor’s removal of Marks’s “Evolutionary Informatics Lab” site from its server. Although, as I’ve noted, Marks’s departmental website includes an “Apologetics” section in which he expresses–with no censorship–his personal religious views.

    But the issue I raised in my e-mail exchanges with Dembski and President Lilley centered on Marks’s effort in setting up the EIL, with funding from a Discovery Institute benefactor, to give Dembski a presence on the Baylor campus and to pay him as a “post doc” with funds processed through Marks’s department. The university had every right to object to this subterfuge and return the grant.

    Secondly, the issue I raised with Lilley was Dembski’s petulant crusade against him, with the fabricated e-mail and pressure to fire Lilley.

    John Marley, in comment #60, confesses to difficulty in “parsing” O’Leary’s sentence that has a comma between “fellow traveler” and “I would….” That stems from a mistake in PZ’s transcription of her e-mail, which had a period between those two phrases. Sorry to puzzle you, John, but does that make things more clear?

    Finally, Alethias (in comment #58) suggests that I went a bit “overboard” in reading ant-semitism into “Jehu”s comment. I don’t think so. Referring to “Jews” in issues that had nothing to do with Jews can’t have been a benign, non-pejorative comment.

  63. #64 peter irons
    September 27, 2007

    Oops! It was my error, not PZ’s, in putting the miscreant comma into O’Leary’s e-mail that puzzled John Marley, instead of the period. Sorry, PZ.

  64. #65 John Marley
    September 27, 2007

    real version

    …anyone who does not adhere to a strict materialist line or function as a fellow traveler. I would have put the matter somewhat differently myself.

    Thanks.

    Now what the hell does “function as a fellow traveller” mean?

  65. #66 peter irons
    September 27, 2007

    John,

    I haven’t the foggiest idea what O’Leary meant by “functions as a fellow traveller.” Why don’t you ask her yourself; you can reach her at oleary@sympatico.ca (“ca” stands for Canada). I’m not on her FaveFive anymore. While you’re at it, maybe you could ask how she would have phrased “Jehu”s comment “differently.” Leave out the reference to Jews, perhaps? If you do this, and get a reply (don’t hold your breath) keep us posted.

  66. #67 ecurve
    September 27, 2007

    Now what the hell does “function as a fellow traveller” mean?

    “…function. As a fellow traveller, I would have put…” Confused me, too.

    Prof. Irons & Prof. Myers: you guys are Made Of Awesome.

  67. #68 John Marley
    September 27, 2007

    ecurve:

    That’s what I thought, too. (Comment #60)

    But peter irons corrected that in Comment #61.

    Apparently “…functions as a fellow traveller. I would have…” is how it was originally written.

  68. #69 Kseniya
    September 27, 2007

    I read it as needing a period after the word “traveler.”

    I think Mr. Irons was on-target when he suggested that O’Leary was trying to invoke McCarthyism (or should I say godless Communism) by her obviously intentional use of the “fellow traveler” term. It’s a term which comes pre-weighted with idiological baggage and therefore doesn’t just jump out of the pen for no reason at all, and she used it appropriately. Simply substitute “communist” for “materialist” and we’re off and running. The message is clear.

  69. #70 Kseniya
    September 27, 2007

    (Oops. Please make that “ideological”.)

  70. #71 Ichthyic
    September 27, 2007

    Torbjorn:

    I joined the lab to protest Baylor’s infringement of Bob Marks’ academic freedom.

    ask yourself if that is the correct reason for a “scientist” (which English really isn’t) to support a “lab” (that doesn’t even exist).

    people forget that Baylor’s objection to Mark’s was that he was using University resources to promote something unrelated to the University itself, and instead choose to use this as some barometer of academic freedom, which it really isn’t.

    frankly, while I’m sure Lilley et. al. would still be pissed that Mark’s did an end-around to try to shore up a false sense that Dembski was still connected to Baylor, they likely would have done nothing but grumble if he hadn’t utilized University resources to put up his “lab”.

    you slap your own University in the face, is it a surprise they slap back?

    Moreover, I read the putative “papers” linked on the site, and there is little more than the same poor assumptions that Dembski used in his very first set of papers.

    I rather think English has confused what is there for something legitimate.

  71. #72 Ichthyic
    September 27, 2007

    make that:

    “Baylor’s objection to Mark’s site…”

  72. #73 Ichthyic
    September 27, 2007

    Yet their most of their community is completely oblivious.

    denial.

    which will inevitably be followed by projecting their own bigotries and hatreds on to their perceived opponents.

    ayup.

  73. #74 Hap
    September 27, 2007

    68: It may have been a typo, but “idiological” seems rather appropriate for the context.

  74. #75 Spaulding
    September 27, 2007

    If I wanted to attack any blog, I could use this strategy:

    1. Find a scummy response posted by some commentor.
    2. Demand that the owners of the blog disavow the comment.
    3. Do the owners disavow the comment?
    – No: Publicly accuse the blog owners of condoning the content of the scummy comment.
    – Yes: Go to step 1 and repeat.

    Dembski and the guys at UD suck because they lie to confuse people about scientific knowledge. But Irons is using a cheap-shot strategy here, and UD is wise not to take the bait.

    It’s an embarrassing tactic that’s been tried before. It’s a cheap shot regardless of the political affiliation of the person attempting it.

    The internet has no shortage of ignorant, hateful idiots. If some of them comment on a blog thread, it’s no direct incrimination of the site.

  75. #76 Ichthyic
    September 27, 2007

    and UD is wise not to take the bait.

    after seeing the response from Densye, THAT is your conclusion as to why Dembski et. al. didn’t bother to even post a notice decrying hints of racism and bigotry??

    fascinating.

    You may be right about the tactic in general, but read the responses again, and then tell me that you can really conclude that’s what was going on here.

    frankly, you give Densye far too much credit.

    you might actually want to read a few of her posts before concluding she has even half a brain, or bother to actually check out the archives of UD for the innumerable displays of idiocy, bigotry, and hatred spewed by ALL involved there, including WD40 himself.

    hint:

    go find the archives for the thread put there by Dembski a couple years back called:

    “Darwin in a Vise”

    then tell me that Jehu’s post doesn’t belong there, THAT being the real reason it is not only not removed, but not even the slightest commentary on the post was forthcoming from the UD “management”.

    If you perceive all the world is out to get you, chances are your perceptions will eventually be proven accurate as you let your own supporters figuratively get away with murder.

  76. #77 Kseniya
    September 27, 2007

    Spaulding, that is generally true and well worth noting, but context and history do matter. The moderators at UD aren’t shy about banning commentors or deleting comments judged guilty of preceived transgressions that most people would find less objectionable than what has been alleged by Mr. Irons in the case of the Jehu comment. That’s how it seems to me, anyway.

  77. #78 peter irons
    September 27, 2007

    My thanks to Ichthyic and Kseniya (stand up and take a bow, folks) for saying to Spaulding (who he?) what I was just about to say.

    Here’s my point: the UD blog is supposedly “moderated” by someone (and the buck stops with Dembski) to remove inappropriate comments, which would certainly include racial or religious bigotry. As everyone knows, UD bounces pro-evo comments and anything critical of ID; O’Leary even boasts of hitting the “reject” button on her “Post-Darwinist” blog to bounce her critics.

    I don’t think it’s a “cheap shot” to suggest that anti-semitic and anti-Muslim comments like those of “Jehu” and DaveScot should have been bounced from UD and denounced. I’d expect the same from Pharyngula if I tried to post a comment like those. That’s not censorship of an “open forum,” it’s simply imposing a standard of decency that all blogs should adopt.

    One question to Spaulding: have you recently checked the UD blog? The comments by “Jehu” and DaveScot are still there, unbounced and undenounced. To paraphrase a common saying, “What would Spaulding do?”

  78. #79 Kseniya
    September 27, 2007

    By the way, I’m not a big fan of deleting comments unless there’s a very good reason to do so (such as removing pointlessly vile comments, or those that post someone’s personal information or otherwise breaks anonymity against will of the target). Otherwise, I say, “Give’em enough rope.” Fight words and ideas with words and ideas.

    There’s a standard disclaimer, written or not, that applies to blogs everywhere: “The opinions expressed by the commentors do not necessarily represent the opinions of the blog owner(s).” Beyond that, it’s up to the individual owner/moderater how to handle objectionable material. Mr. Irons has the right to request that UD address the alleged “appeal to anti-Semitism” in Jehu’s remark, and UD has the right to do nothing about it.

    What’s telling is not that Dembski or O’Leary declined to delete the comment or issue a statement in response, it’s that O’Leary ultimately agreed with Jehu’s point, and insisted that any and all anti-Semitic overtones were wholly Mr. Iron’s invention.

  79. #80 Andrew Wade
    September 27, 2007

    and frankly, i’m somewhat amused that someone going by the name “jehu” would stoop to anti-semitism. i’m sure that this person doesn’t even realize that jehu is “yehu” as in “yehuda” (judah), the origin of the name “jew.”

    You’re assuming Jews are a Hebrew-speaking semitic people concentrated in the middle-east. I’ve conversed with nuts who think that us pale-skinned Europeans are descendants of Abraham and the people known to the sane world as Jews aren’t. I didn’t bother paying attention to the history that supposedly explains this; if Abraham existed most of the old world probably has him as an ancestor to some small degree by now.

  80. #81 Andrew Wade
    September 27, 2007

    You’re assuming Jews are a Hebrew-speaking semitic people concentrated in the middle-east.

    On second thought, even if “jehu” does have wacky ideas about history, it’s entirely possible for him to be ignorant of the origin of his handle.

  81. #82 Kimpatsu
    September 27, 2007

    A minor point, but what in the world does Irons have against the word “atheist”? He makes a point of sticking a “[sic]” after it every time it occurs in a passage he quotes.
    The “sic” isn’t for the term “atheist”, but for the term “militant atheist”. PI is pointing outthat there ain’t no such animal, except in the paranoid minds of the IDers, because to DL and her ilk, any voicing of doubts about the existence of their shiny beardy friend in the sky is “militant”.

  82. #83 Steve_C
    September 27, 2007

    Spaulding,

    Peter has it right. UD deletes comments and bans people all the time that disagree with them. That’s the difference between DailyKos and UD.

    Your point isn’t valid. PZ is way more tolerant of creationist godbots than UD is to the people that try and talk reason to them.

    In fact DaveScot is legendary. He’s been banned all over the place. He, however, has a happy home at UD.

    Spaulding.

    Don’t be so lame.

  83. #84 Anton Mates
    September 28, 2007

    Ichthyic,

    people forget that Baylor’s objection to Mark’s was that he was using University resources to promote something unrelated to the University itself, and instead choose to use this as some barometer of academic freedom, which it really isn’t.

    But–again, according to Marks’ lawyer, who may or may not be lying, but we haven’t seen a counter from Baylor–Marks’ site took down the elements implying Baylor support, and the university was initially satisfied with that. If that issue was actually resolved, then I’d say the mere presence of the site is a matter of academic freedom. I doubt it was massively burdening their servers or anything–how many people do you think visited it at all?–and plenty of professors have pages up about non-university-associated matters.

  84. #85 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    October 5, 2007

    Catching up on old threads:

    Anton Mates, peter irons:

    Thanks. (I noted the “Apologetics” section too.)

    Ichthyic:

    a “scientist” (which English really isn’t)

    Eh? He is a computer scientist. CS is decidedly a lot of math, but it is also a lot of exploration of computer and network architectures and their properties.

    For the rest of your comment: I missed the misdirected grants and their implications. And I agree on the value on the papers. (I have commented on them two times on Good Math, Bad Math and The Panda’s Thumb in case you are interested in critical threads.)

  85. #86 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    October 5, 2007

    Catching up on old threads:

    Anton Mates, peter irons:

    Thanks. (I noted the “Apologetics” section too.)

    Ichthyic:

    a “scientist” (which English really isn’t)

    Eh? He is a computer scientist. CS is decidedly a lot of math, but it is also a lot of exploration of computer and network architectures and their properties.

    For the rest of your comment: I missed the misdirected grants and their implications. And I agree on the value on the papers. (I have commented on them two times on Good Math, Bad Math and The Panda’s Thumb in case you are interested in critical threads.)

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