Pharyngula

Girding my loins in Dinkytown

All right, homies, I hope some of you are planning to show for the big rumble at the Bell Museum tonight. I’ve arrived, and I’m flexing and stretching on the home turf, getting ready … in other words, I’m hanging out at the Espresso Royale stoking up on caffeine. Here’s the deal:

Speaking Science 2.0: New Directions in Science Communications
Friday, September 28, 2007
7:30 p.m.
Bell Museum Auditorium
$5 Suggested Donation

I just noticed the unfortunate typo up there in the announcement: they misspelled “wrong” as N-E-W.

We’ll hash that out this evening, I think.

Comments

  1. #1 Blake Stacey
    September 28, 2007

    writerdd:

    I have to think, however, that Sagan and Gould (two of Nisbet’s recent examples), might have changed their tune if they’d lived to see 9/11 and the Bush administration bullshit.

    I keep trying to point out that Sagan is a terrible example for Nisbet’s case. Even in The Demon-Haunted World, which everybody trots out to prove that Uncle Carl was a “Neville Chamberlain” or an “appeaser” (or whatever damn stupid word is in vogue today), he lists a whole string of empirical claims made by major religions. So much for NOMA. He also raises a point which certain people have, perhaps willfully, ignored: if we were to do a good job teaching science and critical thought to a generation of students, some of them will apply those skills to targets beyond aspirin commercials and crystal healers.

    Furthermore, in Pale Blue Dot and particularly The Varieties of Scientific Experience, Sagan was even less conciliatory. He ends up saying, basically, the religion which has no quarrel with science is one which hasn’t been invented yet.

    Uncle Carl took great pains to be nice to people, but he also knew when to call a spade a shovel.

  2. #2 Rieux
    September 29, 2007

    Okay, I was there….

    It was a pretty placid affair, actually. Mooney and Nisbet tried hard to direct the discussion toward areas where they thought they’d get agreement from the other tag team–such as using global climate change, rather than evolution, as their case study in how framing is being successfully used by both pro- and anti-science factions. This tactic largely succeeded, in that it elicited a fair amount of (boring) agreement from Laden and PZ about the usefulness of framing in some contexts.

    PZ and Laden weren’t quite as bashful about naming the elephant in the room (religion), although I guess I would have liked to see more flying elbows off the top rope (directed at certain folks’ published attempts to denigrate Uppity Atheism) from the scarlet-A team.

    Midway through, things were genteel enough for Mooney to crack that (1) he had “taken off [his] flak jacket” and (2) the noises of general agreement PZ and Laden had made meant the framers could “declare victory” on the night.

    Well, I came to see blood, so when it was my turn with the mike I tried to get a punch-up going with a “Hey, Nisbet, how come we haven’t heard you say anything tonight about all of these horrendously disastrous problems with the way Greg and PZ and company discuss religion?” question. (Okay, I was actually more diplomatic than that–you can take away my keys to the secret lair later.) That got Nisbet talking about Dawkins; he said some oddly complimentary stuff about The God Delusion and then swerved into Expelled–which, he told us, has a PR campaign featuring Dawkins saying something nasty-sounding about god-believers.*

    Anyway, that launched Nisbet into his long speech about those bad old “New Atheists.” Greg and PZ got in a few nice shots in rebuttal. Said shots were much more polite than the online versions, though. These guys would make lousy professional wrestlers.

    With some of their points (e.g., “A multiplicity of approaches toward religion from scientists is a good thing,” or “Some of us have fundamental goals in this area that aren’t served by making conciliatory gestures toward religion”), I would have liked to see the Uppity faction push Mooney and Nisbet substantially harder. In the end, though, I didn’t think anyone came off poorly.

    Probably the most scathing review I heard came from my wife, who was sorry to tell me that the Framers outscored the Scarlet-A’s decisively on the Sexiness Meter. (I think I was smart to avoid asking where I rate.)

    For whatever it’s all worth. Now I want to hear the recording.

    * …Upon further review, he must have been talking about the film website, which quotes Dawkins saying this:

    If people think God is interesting, the onus is on them to show that there is anything there to talk about. Otherwise they should just shut up about it.

    Nisbet recounted that line more or less correctly. God only knows (heh) if Dawkins actually said that to the Expelled hacks.

  3. #3 Eamon Knight
    September 29, 2007

    Upon further review, he must have been talking about the film website, which quotes Dawkins saying this:
    If people think God is interesting, the onus is on them to show that there is anything there to talk about. Otherwise they should just shut up about it.
    Nisbet recounted that line more or less correctly. God only knows (heh) if Dawkins actually said that to the Expelled hacks.

    Why should anyone object to that? Replace “God” with most any noun you like — cosmology, classic cars, WW2 history — and the statement is still true. The only people who should have a problem with it are the ones who subconciously suspect that their favorite noun refers to nothing of interest.

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