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 Sam
    September 28, 2007

    You own those suckas.

  2. #2 TheJerrylander
    September 28, 2007

    Would love to come, but my car rental is good for New Brunswick only. But I have the greatest confidence that PZ will in fact p0wn those, as Sam has put it, those suckas 😉

  3. #3 Steve_C
    September 28, 2007

    Bring on the smack down!

    Show no mercy!

  4. #4 Christian Burnham
    September 28, 2007

    Can someone do a blow by blow post live from the smack-down?

  5. #5 Tara C. Smith
    September 28, 2007

    “Homies”? Who are you and what did you do with PZ?

  6. #7 Eric
    September 28, 2007

    “Homies”? Who are you and what did you do with PZ?

    Maybe one of the neurobiology students logged onto PZ’s username?

  7. #8 John the Atheist
    September 28, 2007

    I hope someone records the event and posts it here. I’d love to go but am a few states away.

    Go get ’em Prof. Myers!

  8. #9 Todd
    September 28, 2007

    Is this going to be like one of the professional wrestling matches where someone comes running out from backstage and bashes someone over the head with a folding chair?

    Cause I’d like to see that.

  9. #10 writerdd
    September 28, 2007

    I’m not sure either style of communication is “wrong”. Each person should say what they honestly think and not beat around the bush. If Mooney and Nisbet really believe what they are saying, they should stick to it. If they’re just trying to play agaim, they should pack it in. I think E.O. Wilson is honest in his approach, for example. 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.

  10. #11 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.

  11. #12 Graculus
    September 28, 2007

    “Neville Chamberlain” or an “appeaser” (or whatever damn stupid word is in vogue today)

    I’m going with “shrill, militant, fundamentalist moderates”.

  12. #13 inkadu
    September 28, 2007

    Sagan made such a thorough and complete case for science — often using religious scientists overturning incorrect “divine” notions of the universe — that it’s hard to see how religious thinking could stand up to it.

    But Sagan had 12 hours of national PBS time to make his case in Cosmos, and for a different time.

  13. #14 Molly, NYC
    September 28, 2007

    PZ – Are you old enough to remember the Ali/Liston fight? With you there, I anticipate a knock-out in the first round.

    Alas, here I am, five states away.

  14. #15 Dave
    September 29, 2007

    So, how was it?

  15. #16 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.

  16. #17 thalarctos
    September 29, 2007

    I’m in Cincinnati, and my rental car has unlimited mileage, so I thought about skipping the rest of the conference to drive the 15 hours out there to catch the event and the 15 hours back to catch my plane on Sunday.

    I finally decided not to, though, because I couldn’t find any diapers I liked.

  17. #18 Ophelia Benson
    September 29, 2007

    It’s just so hard to find diapers that look good these days.

    Is it dawn in Minnesota yet? Will PZ wake up soon? I want the report. (Interim fix from Rieux very helpful.)

  18. #19 Matt Penfold
    September 29, 2007

    I work in IT and have come with a few rules over the years that help me tell when someone is spouting bullshit. The use of the term “paradigm” is one rule. I have come to the conclusion anyone who calls what they are doing “2.0” is also likely to be talking a load of bollocks.

  19. #20 Malky
    September 29, 2007

    Is there a transcript or recoding available of this discussion anywhere. Can anyone point me in the right direction please?

  20. #21 Dahan
    September 29, 2007

    I got to see it live and, like Rieux, I thought it almost a bit too civil. Still, a conversation worth having. Yes, to those who are asking, it was taped live, so you can expect to have a link soon.

  21. #22 Randy Olson
    September 29, 2007

    It’s nice hearing these comments about how the great Smashdown/Beatup turned out to be a clash of genteel mice. Over the past year and a half I’ve attended about 50 screenings of my film Flock of Dodos with audiences averaging about 200, so a total of probably something like 10,000 people. In all the post-screening discussions I have never heard one person come out with the aggressive foul-mouthed chest-pounding statements that appear on blogs discussing evolution and intelligent design. There is something very strange going on here with the psyche of the science community, using blogs as a forum to anonymously vent their spleens, but unable to present the same voice in public.

  22. #23 Wes
    September 29, 2007

    Randy, you should check out some of the coverage of Dembski’s recent talk at OU…

  23. #24 Rieux
    September 29, 2007

    There is something very strange going on here with the psyche of the science community, using blogs as a forum to anonymously vent their spleens, but unable to present the same voice in public.

    I dunno; isn’t that a so-common-it’s-a-cliche point about the entire blogosphere (and thus not “strange” at all)? Just about every blog denizen, scientist or not, is more of a “spleen venter” online than she is in person.

  24. #25 Randy Olson
    September 29, 2007

    Just checked out the account by ERV of the OU Dembski evening which sounded like great fun (wish i’d been there), but my comment still stands.

  25. #26 Oldfart
    September 29, 2007

    Blogs are anonymous. How many of you use your real names while blogging? The typewritten word lacks any kind of social context. You have to go thru loops to joke about something without someone else taking it wrong. You type things with a tone of voice in your mind that does not translate to the page. Consequently, you get into pissing contests with people and say things that you would not say face to face because face to face, the tone of voice and other social factors (such as the actual physical SIZE of your opponent) serve to mediate your comments. Very few people are as violent as they seem on the blogs. Only a tiny few actually buy the diapers and drive 500 miles to find some poor blogger who pissed them off.

    (Note: Since I have been flamed on scienceblogs before, this is my uneducated (but experienced) opinion not based on any scientific study)

  26. #27 CalGeorge
    September 29, 2007

    The real question is: should PZ be girding his loins at his age? Isn’t there a danger of injury?

  27. #28 Leni
    September 29, 2007

    Graculus wrote:

    …fundamentalist moderates

    LOL. That pretty much sums it up.

  28. #29 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    September 29, 2007

    I am glad that I went, but I thought it ended up being a bit short for such a hot topic. While Chris tried to deflect Matt’s “New Atheism Noise Machine Issue” by steering focus to Global Warming (which is the subject of his latest book, btw,) Matt referred to the NANM in the Q&A as Rieux reported. I was hoping that would be more the focus, but…

    I am glad I went, and I went to the reception afterwards. I got a brief exchange in with Chris, but Matt was a bit more aloof. It was good to meet Greg, and I got a little “face time” with PZ and Jennifer Marshall. Look for her byline at New Scientist magazine. I would encourage anybody who gets a chance to talk to either Greg or PZ to do so at their earliest convenience, as it is a great experience.

  29. #30 Kausik Datta
    September 29, 2007

    Is PZ okay? Is he feeling alright? Then why have we not heard the “Official” account (from the horse’s mouth, so to say) yet? It is now 11:07 a.m. in New York city…

  30. #31 greg laden
    September 29, 2007

    The official accounts thus far are here:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2007/09/victory.php

    http://gregladen.com/wordpress/?p=1365

    http://scienceblogs.com/intersection/2007/09/a_consensus_on_framing.php

    Nothing yet from Matt. He is a more ponderous blogger. Which is probably a good thing.

  31. #32 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.

  32. #33 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    September 29, 2007

    I want to publicly apologize to Jessica Marshall since I referred to her as “Jennifer” in a previous comment. Please don’t hate me, I am really bad with first names.

  33. #34 ERV
    September 29, 2007

    Randy Olson– In all the post-screening discussions I have never heard one person come out with the aggressive foul-mouthed chest-pounding statements that appear on blogs discussing evolution and intelligent design.

    I know. It was hysterical how fast Dembski distanced himself from his online activities when I asked him about it at OU.

    For some reason, grown men harassing and threatening young females wasnt something he wanted the audience aware of…

  34. #35 Sven DiMilo
    September 29, 2007

    Do you have to be from Minnesota to be able to use the sobriquet “Dinkytown” with a straight face? I had formerly only heard of it as an early haunt of the nascent genius from Hibbing who called himself “Bobby Dillon” at the time.

  35. #36 Kristjan Wager
    September 30, 2007

    Over the past year and a half I’ve attended about 50 screenings of my film Flock of Dodos with audiences averaging about 200, so a total of probably something like 10,000 people. In all the post-screening discussions I have never heard one person come out with the aggressive foul-mouthed chest-pounding statements that appear on blogs discussing evolution and intelligent design.

    Randy, I seem to remember someone who would have fit that bill when you screened the film in Denmark. For those not there, there was a scientist who kept heckling the intelligent design proponent (no, it wasn’t me – I’m a computer scientist/IT consultant – though I did make a few rude remarks).

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