Pharyngula

A new source for fake science

Answers in Genesis, fresh from their success at aping real science with their fake “Museum,” has a new dishonest enterprise in the works: they’re starting a fake science journal, the Answers Research Journal, which will publish “cutting-edge research that demonstrates the validity of the young-earth model, the global Flood, the non-evolutionary origin of’created kinds,’ and other evidences that are consistent with the biblical account of origins.” Isn’t it sweet how they declare up front exactly which answers they’ll accept?

I hope they’re planning to have a very tight review process. They’re going to face some Sokal-like challenges, as one person has already announced a competition to get a crank paper published.

Keeping in mind that this is the organization responsible for the disgraceful Creation Museum, I am issuing a challenge to the skeptical community and to those of you interested in maintaining high standards in American science education. The first biologist, historian, anthropologist, archaeologist, or astronomer who can get a crank paper published in the Answers Research Journal and reveals their hoax on this site will win…a very special award to be determined later!

Silly person. Don’t you know that everything published in that journal will be a crank paper?

Comments

  1. #1 Bill Dauphin
    January 10, 2008

    Don’t you know that everything published in that journal will be a crank paper?

    Yah, it’s like watching an SNL clip show of their commercial parodies: When they cut to a real commercial, how do you know?

  2. #2 Feste
    January 10, 2008

    The “instructions to authors” ( http://www.answersingenesis.org/assets/pdf/arj/instructions-to-authors.pdf ) is worth a read. The “Paper Review Process” section is particularly interesting – papers are required, among other things, to be faithful to “the grammatical-historical/normative interpretation of scripture.”

    I can’t wait to read me some hardcore science!

  3. #3 Phoenix Woman
    January 10, 2008

    O/T, but here’s an interesting DKos diary on a possible Alzheimer’s treatment, with links to Mayo Clinic data among other things. The diary itself is so-so, but the links are interesting and I hope somebody who knows Pterry sees this:

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/1/10/64628/3319/175/434102

  4. #4 Steve Norley
    January 10, 2008

    Although this is a blatant and devious attempt by AIG to overcome the ‘no peer-reviewed papers’ criticism often leveled at ‘creation science’, they are so far off-track that they don’t even realise that their call for papers neglects the whole principle of science right from the start..

    “Papers can be in any relevant field of science, theology, history, or social science, but they must be from a young-earth and young-universe perspective. Rather than merely pointing out flaws in evolutionary theory, papers should aim to assist the development of the Creation and Flood model of origins.”

    As PZ already pointed out, they’re asking for papers that support a particular conclusion – the direct antithesis of science. What an incredible bunch of dishonest, clueless bozos.

  5. #5 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 10, 2008

    If you download the “Instruction to Authors PDF” there is a section that speaks on references.

    References are an important part of any research paper because they establish the credibility of your research and provide the readers with a source of further reading.

    Scroll down further to see how to properly reference the bible.

    Bible References–Typically spell out books of the Bible; when abbreviating, avoid two letters. An
    abbreviation should contain no less than three letters, e.g., Isaiah should be abbreviated Isa., not Is.
    The only exception is the book of Psalms, which should be abbreviated Ps.

    and then this

    Punctuate Bible References–Punctuate Bible references with commas between verses and chapters;
    semicolons between books. Use a comma to separate one chapter-and-verse reference from another,
    as long as the second reference is from the same book. Do not repeat the book’s name in the second
    reference: Romans 3:23, 10:9. Use a semicolon to separate references from different books that appear
    within the same parenthetical reference: Ephesians 2:10; John 3:16; Romans 3:10.

    a. Use lowercase creation in most cases, except in a list of biblical events, especially “Creation and
    Flood,” “the Creation Week,” and “Day One.”
    b. Usually capitalize Flood in clear references to “Noah’s Flood.” But any other use of flood, such
    as “a local flood,” is lowercase.

    Thank the cosmic muffin they told them how to properly reference the great scientific works of the Bible to establish the credibility of their research.

  6. #6 Rienk
    January 10, 2008

    Awesome! After the last dual-papers were rejected for publishing by APJ (after so much work and great data) I can just go ahead and publish it in ARJ. It’s only a 1-letter difference.

    The published “papers” are a hoot, too! It’s so funny that I would almost call Poe’s law on this!

  7. #7 Kay
    January 10, 2008

    I think it’s time for someone to submit a spoof. I’m sure they would never notice the difference.

  8. #8 J-Dog
    January 10, 2008

    This looks like a job for…. Super Sock Puppet!

    Can write like a creationist without their head exploding!

    Can Quote The Christian Bible without laughing out loud!

    Able to fool Old Ladies with a single Praise Jesus!

    Coming Soon To an AIG Journal Near You!

  9. #9 CalGeorge
    January 10, 2008

    Legitimacy will forever elude these folks.

    Is it fun to watch them try for it? I don’t know.

    I vacillate between extreme anger at their tactics/bullshit and feeling mildly entertained by it.

    Half of me wants to slap or shake them awake. The other half is enjoying the show (sort of).

    In the end, my anger usually wins out. Their manipulations and lies really piss me off.

    I have a motto for the journal:

    Answers: We have them. Now let’s pretend to go find some confirming evidence.

  10. #10 negentropyeater
    January 10, 2008

    “this will be a professional peer-reviewed technical journal for the publication of interdisciplinary SCIENTIFIC and OTHER relevant research from the perspective of the recent Creation and the global Flood within a biblical framework.”

    I guess all the papers will be in the “OTHER” relevant research category.

  11. #11 Greta Christina
    January 10, 2008

    This is hilarious. It’s such cargo-cult science. It’s like they want to be scientists, and they know that scientists publish journals, so they’re going to publish a journal!

    And when that doesn’t help them be scientists, they’re going to re-design their lab coats. And put a better shine on their wicker microscopes.

  12. #12 David Marjanovi?, OM
    January 10, 2008

    References are an important part of any research paper because they establish the credibility of your research and provide the readers with a source of further reading.

    It has been said before: this is a cargo cult.

  13. #13 David Marjanovi?, OM
    January 10, 2008

    References are an important part of any research paper because they establish the credibility of your research and provide the readers with a source of further reading.

    It has been said before: this is a cargo cult.

  14. #14 David Marjanovi?, OM
    January 10, 2008

    LOL! I had no idea how literal “It has been said before” would turn out to be. :-D

  15. #15 David Marjanovi?, OM
    January 10, 2008

    LOL! I had no idea how literal “It has been said before” would turn out to be. :-D

  16. #16 dave m
    January 10, 2008

    “which will publish “cutting-edge research”

    Ouch! don’t you just hate those paper cuts!

    Love this bit from the instructions ot authors:

    “d. Spell out parenthetical Bible references, such as Ecclesiastes (to help readers who are unfamiliar with the Bible)”

    ’cause there’s going to be lots of those…

  17. #17 Clare
    January 10, 2008

    To call it a cargo cult is to insult the original cargo cultists….

  18. #18 Farb
    January 10, 2008

    I have to agree with PZ, and add a little experience for any potential spoofers.

    It will prove incredibly difficult to demonstrate that a successful spoof was actually a spoof to these morons.

    If they like the spoof enough to publish it, it may well become part of their “scientific” literature, even if it is proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that the paper was intended as a spoof. Since their “scientific” literature only exists to strengthen the resolve of their true believers, it won’t be difficult at all for their information managers to argue that what the writer intended as a spoof was actually divinely inspired, notwithstanding the original intent. Actually, I believe this has already happened.

    One of the things that begins to discourage me is the increasing number of young, college-aged, secular intellectuals who have totally abandoned this struggle against sarcastic ignorance, arguing that (1.) there’s no way to win against these morons, anyway, and (2.) there are so many of these morons that fighting them will ultimately damage their employment prospects. It’s Ben Stein in reverse.

  19. #19 Paul Koeck
    January 10, 2008

    …and other evidences that are…

    Aaaarrggghhh!

    “Evidences” is not the plural of evidence! It’s a fucking VERB! If they can’t even use the language correctly, or a dictionary, how can they expect to do anything useful?

    This one always tweaks a nerve in me.

  20. #20 Zeno
    January 10, 2008

    Ken Ham provides us with yet another case of parasitism. His Answers in Genesis operation previously used the subscriber list of Creation Ministries International’s Creation magazine (which AiG used to distribute in the U.S.) to launch its rival Answers magazine. Having successfully stolen the bulk of CMI’s subscriber base in the U.S., Ham now wants to poach on the territory of CMI’s Journal of Creation, a so-called “technical journal” for creation-science “research.”

    Ham presumably no longer has access to CMI’s mailing list, so his new pseudoscientific journal had to wait till the hoopla over the Creation Museum gave him an opportunity to launch it. But it’s just more copy-cat stuff from shyster Ken Ham, who pretends his operation is not descended and evolved from its estranged parent CMI organization.

  21. #21 negentropyeater
    January 10, 2008

    …le ridicule ne tue pas…
    (what’s ridiculous doesn’t kill)

  22. #22 murgadroid
    January 10, 2008

    I find it interesting that authors are required to sign over all copyrights for all text, graphics etc. – it’s quite comprehensive. Most “real” peer reviewed journals require a license to publish but allow the author to retain copyright. I wonder what the ulterior motive is?

  23. #23 wheatdogg
    January 10, 2008

    The first biologist, historian, anthropologist, archaeologist, or astronomer who can get a crank paper published …

    I would not know where to begin. My brain doesn’t work that way.

    Is there anything in the author’s guidelines that mentions anything about, say, experiments, double-blind studies, observational evidence? Or is ARJ going to be a forum for recursive analysis of the (Protestant) Bible?

    Like I said, my brain doesn’t work that way.

  24. #24 Stephen
    January 10, 2008

    This is quite a coincidence, because just the other day, I was thinking to myself, “Now, since some creationists want to pretend to be scientists, but obviously are never going to break into the actual scientific community, why haven’t they set up some kind of circlejerking group of creationist ‘peers’ so that they can claim to have published ‘peer-reviewed’ papers?”

    And here it is!

  25. #25 Cuttlefish, OM
    January 10, 2008

    I wonder if I can get this published…
    http://digitalcuttlefish.blogspot.com/2007/11/cuttlefish-in-genesis.html

    Similarity shows that a common designer
    With similar blueprints and parts
    Constructed the human and cuttlefish forms–
    I swear by all three of your hearts.

    The God who created the heavens and earth
    And killed dinosaurs off in The Flood
    Used the same old ideas again and again
    You can tell by your copper-green blood.

    But the clearest, most obvious clue to His Touch
    Is the similar form to our eye
    (They are really quite different, in various ways,
    But if you won’t tell, neither will I).

    Color-blind cuttlefish never see red
    But they can see polarized light;
    This common designer gets different effects
    Out of human and cuttlefish sight.

    Anatomically, too, these are two different eyes
    They have retinas frontward-to-back,
    And cuttlefish reshape the whole of their eye
    Because shapeable lenses they lack.

    The shape of the pupil allows them to see
    To the front and the rear all at once
    So similar, clearly, to what we can do–
    If you dare disagree, you’re a dunce!

    When Answers in Genesis says it’s design
    And not just a matter of fitness
    I know they’re not fibbing–right there, number nine–
    Thou shalt not bear false witness.

    I only have one little, lingering doubt
    Though I really, I promise, am trying–
    If it’s perfectly clear they see common design
    It’s even more clear that they’re lying.

  26. #26 wheatdogg
    January 10, 2008

    Ouch! Now my brain hurts! I just read the ARJ article about Genesis and germs. If that’s their idea of original, cutting edge research, then this journal will be more of a joke that the Creashun Mooseem. The author has basically tried to take a bunch of round pegs (bacteria and viruses) and put them in square holes (the order of creation events). Only a ninny would accept his arguments as scientifically (or logically) consistent.

    The creationists will love it.

  27. #27 Glen Davidson
    January 10, 2008

    I like the science implied by these instructions to people sending in “science papers”:

    3. Punctuate Bible References–Punctuate Bible references with commas between verses and chapters; semicolons between books. Use a comma to separate one chapter-and-verse reference from another, as long as the second reference is from the same book. Do not repeat the book’s name in the second reference: Romans 3:23, 10:9. Use a semicolon to separate references from different books that appear within the same parenthetical reference: Ephesians 2:10; John 3:16; Romans 3:10.

    Why yes, the Bible is the foremost science publication to be referenced in journals of science.

    What is sad is that creationist buffoons do more science than the IDists, who fail to directly reference the Bible. That’s because the creationists, while not having a falsifiable science, at least have a falsifiable religion. IDists have neither, or at least their main goal is to have neither.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  28. #28 JC
    January 10, 2008

    I would suggest that anyone writing a spoof paper should also write a point by point rebuttal of the paper as they go along.

    I can just see the creationists claiming that the author of the spoof is only claiming it is a spoof to deflect the Darwinist death squads.

  29. #29 blipey
    January 10, 2008

    I think this sentence from the submissions guideline page says it all:

    High-quality papers for Answers Research Journal, sponsored by Answers in Genesis, are now invited for submission.

    Cranks just try to hard to sound professional while sounding just the opposite. It’s like all the scummy theatrical producers that advertise in newspapers for “professional actors” for “professional” shows.

    Oh well, they’ll be less funny the day they realize actions are better regarded than words.

  30. #30 stogoe
    January 10, 2008

    ceci n’est pas une science journal.

  31. #31 Mrs Tilton
    January 10, 2008

    papers are required, among other things, to be faithful to “the grammatical-historical/normative interpretation of scripture.”

    Well, I suppose this isn’t entirely negative news — I’ve always felt that good grammar should be encouraged.

  32. #32 Brownian, OM
    January 10, 2008

    Oh well, they’ll be less funny the day they realize actions are better regarded than words.

    We’re talking about religious people here. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the Hovinds, Haggards et al. of the world, it’s that the religious care not a fig for actions, but swoon at pretty words.

  33. #33 Cthulhu cultist
    January 10, 2008

    How about a spoof on the origin of the octopus? Tracing it back to Cthulhu and the great flood.

  34. #34 Sigmund
    January 10, 2008

    How does Endnote handle the King James version?

  35. #35 A Lurker
    January 10, 2008

    I don’t think the spoofs have any chance of being published.

    Even ignoring the call for spoofs, they would already know of that possibility since there have been a number of well publicized hoaxes that they almost certainly know about.

    If you are not a known YEC superstar very likely that they will actually read the submission carefully and will almost certainly check some of your references.

    It would not be hard to contact the pastor of your alleged church or to verify any claimed professional credentials. And yes they are very likely to ask about both if you don’t include them in your required biography. And don’t forget they will be talking to you quite a bit in the revisions process.

    So unless one are willing to make a convincing fake conversion to their brand of fundamentalism including being generous at the offering plate and the learning of their particular lingoes, you got very little chance.

  36. #36 Jamie
    January 10, 2008

    I wonder if I can get this published…

    Hee hee! It rhymes, isn’t that cute! Like bah bah Black Sheep, have you any wool? yes sir, yes sir, three bags full!

    Seriously, you should grow up. Poetry compromises information content, and isn’t to be encouraged.

  37. #37 TomDunlap
    January 10, 2008

    I’d love to submit a paper to the ARJ, but I need some grant money to get my research going. Anyone know who’s offering grants in Creation Science Research? ;-)

  38. #38 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 10, 2008

    Seriously, you should grow up. Poetry compromises information content, and isn’t to be encouraged.

    There’s as much information content in that poem as there is in any Creation science research paper. (YES I wanted to use scare quotes but I resisted).

  39. #39 Brownian, OM
    January 10, 2008

    Seriously, you should grow up. Poetry compromises information content, and isn’t to be encouraged.

    I’d watch that kind of talk if I were you. Folks ’round here don’t take too kindly to people hatin’ on the Cuttlefish.

  40. #40 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 10, 2008

    that should read…. “There’s much more infor…”

    sheesh.

  41. #41 Jamie
    January 10, 2008

    that should read…. “There’s much more infor…”

    No, no, you got it right the first time.

  42. #42 Eisnel
    January 10, 2008

    If my crank essay contains entire paragraphs IN CAPS, and lots of recursive parenthesis (like this (and this (this too))), does it stand a better chance of being accepted into the journal?

  43. #43 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 10, 2008

    No, no, you got it right the first time.

    Who is it that needs to grow up again?

  44. #44 Sickle Cell
    January 10, 2008

    I was actually kind of curious about reading one of the articles (and witness some research, guess how well that worked)

    The funny thing is what was written at the “references” section:

    “These are pseudonyms. The writers, who hold PhDs in fields related to the topics of their abstracts, are scientists at prominent research facilities in the eastern part of North America. They prefer to keep their creationist credentials hidden for the moment until they achieve more seniority.”

    over here:

    http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/arj/v1/n1/proceedings-microbe-forum

  45. #45 dale
    January 10, 2008

    “….this will be a professional peer-reviewed technical journal for the publication of interdisciplinary scientific and other relevant research from the perspective of the recent Creation and the global Flood within a biblical framework.”

    And the “peers” that will review the papers will be the peers of AIG, not real scientists. A totally dishonest use of the word peers.

  46. #46 DiscoveredJoys
    January 10, 2008

    They have set a high bar on the quality of submissions. Single spaced, RTF format, defined use of capitalisation. What are they going to do with all the submissions in green crayon, or 14 different fonts, or with entire phrases capitalised? They could miss the really good stuff!

  47. #47 Zeno
    January 10, 2008

    I wrote an earlier comment that is languishing in moderation purgatory (probably because it contained two links), so let me try a one-link version. I expanded my comment into a post over at Halfway There for those who want more (including the links), but the essence is this:

    Ken Ham is really up to his old tricks. His U.S.-based Answers in Genesis outfit used to be affiliated with Australia’s Creation Ministries International. A couple of years ago he broke the ties between the two operations while stealing CMI’s subscriber base for Creation magazine and switching it to Ham’s own Answers magazine. CMI also has a so-called technical journal. Now Ken has one of his own. It’s all part of Ken Ham’s continuing program of supplanting CMI in everything it does. Survival of the fittest?

    [Link]

  48. #48 Ragutis
    January 10, 2008

    Is there extra credit if the spoofer comes up with a title whose acronym would be “GODDIDIT”? How about “DARWIN”? “KENHAMISATWAT”?

  49. #49 Dave Godfrey
    January 10, 2008

    I agree Jaimie, there is as much information in Cuttlefish’s poem as in a Creation science paper. Its just that cuttlefish’s poem contains accurate information, and is interesting and informative to read.

    You’d be surprised by the different ways that people can learn. If some people can remember concepts and ideas by reading and writing poetry then there’s no reason not to use it.

    Its not as if Cuttlefish is without precedent. The biologist Walter Garstang wrote poetry that described the aspects of developmental biology that he worked on.

  50. #50 Bing McGhandi
    January 10, 2008

    Yes if the acronym of the title is hilarious, you get my sister.

    Heehee/

    HJ

  51. #51 Brownian, OM
    January 10, 2008

    Visit Cuttlefish’s site and read his other poems.

    He is without precedent, and needs none.

  52. #52 Andrea
    January 10, 2008

    #18 — clearly, you’ve never seen Dr. Who.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXrAK6sUZ_0

  53. #53 octopod
    January 10, 2008

    Jeez, Jamie, who pissed in your Cheerios? “Poetry compromises information content”? Since when is maximum information density the goal of all language? Human language is not like computer language — since humans do not have perfect recall, its goal is frequently not to maximise information density but rather to increase its memorability. Or simply to entertain, for that matter.

    On the other hand, if you just read so slowly that it pisses you off to have to read something that doesn’t communicate the maximum possible amount of information, I apologise. But that’s the only reasonable excuse for a lame-assed comment like that.

    “Isn’t to be encouraged.” LOL! It sure is, by me at least.

    I thought it was a good poem. Our Poet Laureate is slowly converging on a scientifically and cephalopodically oriented version of W. S. Gilbert.

  54. #54 Helblindi
    January 10, 2008

    @40 and pseudonymous authors – what about this:

    http://www.arn.org/docs/odesign/od201/peeringdbb201.htm

    I am confused…

  55. #55 Dave Godfrey
    January 10, 2008

    That wasn’t intended as a slight against Cuttlefish at all, he’s one of the highlights of this blog. I was trying to point out to Jaimie that poetry and science aren’t such strange bedfellows as one might think.

  56. #56 CortxVortx
    January 10, 2008

    re: #38 Don’t forget the Comic Sans font.

    And what kind of English Lit teacher did little Jamie-troll have that turned him off to poetry?

    — CV

  57. #57 eyesoars
    January 10, 2008

    Maybe they can retread some of those Soviet economists, like the one who “discovered” Soviet citizens had more buying power than western consumers, who were too poor to purchase all the goods off stores’ shelves.

  58. #58 Kseniya
    January 10, 2008

    Look on the bright side, folks. We now have a front-runner for the author of the first crank paper: Jamie!

    (I wonder if we could slip a crunk paper past the review board…)

  59. #59 Eisnel
    January 10, 2008

    This Answers Research Journal is begging to be lampooned. Perhaps the Pastafarians should stay competitive by starting a journal for scholarly research of the Flying Spaghetti Monster? It could be called the “FSM Science Monthly”, or FSM for short.

  60. #60 Jamie
    January 10, 2008

    Human language is not like computer language — since humans do not have perfect recall, its goal is frequently not to maximise information density but rather to increase its memorability. Or simply to entertain, for that matter.

    Sorry, but in all the years I’ve been studying science I’ve never encountered a single person who finds scientific concepts best elucidated or memorized by means of poetry. (Something like “Campbell’s Ordinary Soup Does Make Peter Pale” is hardly a poem.)

    Yes, I agree that poetry is about entertainment. From this it follows that poets ought to wipe the smug grins off their faces. They’re hedonistically playing about with little cute phrases; they’re not writing anything profound or doing anything constructive. And at any rate, I think there are plenty more entertaining things to do than writing and reading poetry. (Those who say otherwise are, I suspect, simply deceiving themselves.)

  61. #61 Rey Fox
    January 10, 2008

    Don’t worry, Jamie. We won’t let the big bad poets get you.

  62. #62 spurge
    January 10, 2008

    “I think there are plenty more entertaining things to do than writing and reading poetry.”

    Jamie

    Like what? trolling?

  63. #63 Blake Stacey
    January 10, 2008

    The Philistine decries all kinds of rhyme,
    And calls all forms of verse a waste of time,
    Yet I have seen a pair of legs widespread
    By four and ten iambic lines I said —
    And heard her cries which called my work sublime. . . .

  64. #64 Glen Davidson
    January 10, 2008

    It probably should be noted that there are already creationist “journals” out there. The ones I know about are the Creation Research Society Quarterly coming from the ICR, and Origins put out by GRI, the Seventh-day Adventist “creation research” institute.

    I’m sure this new one will be just like the old ones, with a rather minimal amount of science, a whole lot of apologetics, and with everything checked by religion.

    Unlike the IDist PCID, however, it will probably at least come out with new issues, as the older creationist “journals” do.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  65. #65 Brownian, OM
    January 10, 2008

    And at any rate, I think there are plenty more entertaining things to do than writing and reading poetry. (Those who say otherwise are, I suspect, simply deceiving themselves.)

    I, nor most others I suspect, would never dream of disagreeing with you about what you think.

  66. #66 CalGeorge
    January 10, 2008

    The editor Snelling is in deep:

    Even though God has left us with evidence for creation and the Flood, the Bible still says that without faith it is impossible to please and believe Him (Hebrews 11:6). Because we weren’t there at the time of the Flood we cannot scientifically prove exactly what happened, so there will always be aspects that will involve our faith. However, it is not blind faith. As we have investigated the evidence, we have seen nothing to contradict what the Bible says about a world Flood. We can be satisfied that there are reasonable explanations, consistent with Scripture, for the seeming lack of human fossils in Flood rocks.

    What a waste of brain matter this guy is.

  67. #67 Epikt
    January 10, 2008

    Awhile back, somebody published a Phys Rev Letter with his cat as second author. I wonder if ARJ will ever get an author that prestigious.

  68. #68 Richard Wolford
    January 10, 2008

    Science. You’re doing it wrong.

  69. #69 Zeno
    January 10, 2008

    I see in the author’s manual for the Answers Research Journal that one is supposed to italicize foreign words that would not be familiar to ARJ readers. The manual says that ARJ readers would recognize “angst” and “canard”, so no italics. On the other hand, ARJ readers would not recognize Lebensraum, so italics are necessary. Does this mean that ARJ readers are not Nazis (after all, Nazis are evolutionists, right?) or that ARJ readers don’t know any World War II history?

    We’ll have to guess.

  70. #70 Bing McGhandi
    January 10, 2008

    The sponsor of the contest is an English lit teacher. A lot of modern poetry is effete, feckless and dull. You can tell that a lot of it is written at Starbucks.

    Computer languages don’t have irony or a subconscious cognitive map of language.

    The Nazi’s were all in to Intelligently Designing a race of uber-monkeys.

    HJ

  71. #71 Azkyroth
    January 10, 2008

    Hee hee! It rhymes, isn’t that cute! Like bah bah Black Sheep, have you any wool? yes sir, yes sir, three bags full!

    Seriously, you should grow up. Poetry compromises information content, and isn’t to be encouraged.

    You know, I’m not terribly fond of poetry as a general approach either, but the difference is, I don’t pretend there’s a reason for that other than sucking at writing it.

    Dumbass.

  72. #72 David Marjanovi?, OM
    January 10, 2008

    Aaaarrggghhh!

    “Evidences” is not the plural of evidence! It’s a fucking VERB! If they can’t even use the language correctly, or a dictionary, how can they expect to do anything useful?

    Since when, actually? While nowadays it’s a shibboleth for scientists vs others, I’ve read a scientific paper from the 1950s from a native speaker of English that talks about plural evidences.

    Has “information” always been the singular-only word in English that it is now? (In German and French, for example, it’s not…)

    Most “real” peer reviewed journals require a license to publish but allow the author to retain copyright.

    That’s unfortunately not true. Typically you only retain the right to use the figures again elsewhere and to use the text in future compilations of your work or things like that, and to freely distribute the reprints (but not to copy them).

    ceci n’est pas une

    revue scientifique. :-)

    (You got the gender of revue right!)

    They have set a high bar on the quality of submissions. Single spaced, RTF format

    Single-spaced? Seriously? Told you it’s a cargo cult. Journals always want double-spaced manuscripts so the editors and peer-reviewers can print it out, read it, and make annotations by hand at leisure. Few people can brag (like me) to be able to read off a screen for hours. And why not .doc or .pdf??? .rtf files are even bigger than .doc files.

    Yes, I agree that poetry is about entertainment. From this it follows that poets ought to wipe the smug grins off their faces. They’re hedonistically playing about with little cute phrases; they’re not writing anything profound or doing anything constructive. And at any rate, I think there are plenty more entertaining things to do than writing and reading poetry.

    You are saying Cuttlefish is not a poet.

  73. #73 David Marjanovi?, OM
    January 10, 2008

    Aaaarrggghhh!

    “Evidences” is not the plural of evidence! It’s a fucking VERB! If they can’t even use the language correctly, or a dictionary, how can they expect to do anything useful?

    Since when, actually? While nowadays it’s a shibboleth for scientists vs others, I’ve read a scientific paper from the 1950s from a native speaker of English that talks about plural evidences.

    Has “information” always been the singular-only word in English that it is now? (In German and French, for example, it’s not…)

    Most “real” peer reviewed journals require a license to publish but allow the author to retain copyright.

    That’s unfortunately not true. Typically you only retain the right to use the figures again elsewhere and to use the text in future compilations of your work or things like that, and to freely distribute the reprints (but not to copy them).

    ceci n’est pas une

    revue scientifique. :-)

    (You got the gender of revue right!)

    They have set a high bar on the quality of submissions. Single spaced, RTF format

    Single-spaced? Seriously? Told you it’s a cargo cult. Journals always want double-spaced manuscripts so the editors and peer-reviewers can print it out, read it, and make annotations by hand at leisure. Few people can brag (like me) to be able to read off a screen for hours. And why not .doc or .pdf??? .rtf files are even bigger than .doc files.

    Yes, I agree that poetry is about entertainment. From this it follows that poets ought to wipe the smug grins off their faces. They’re hedonistically playing about with little cute phrases; they’re not writing anything profound or doing anything constructive. And at any rate, I think there are plenty more entertaining things to do than writing and reading poetry.

    You are saying Cuttlefish is not a poet.

  74. #74 Ichthyic
    January 10, 2008

    It would not be hard to contact the pastor of your alleged church or to verify any claimed professional credentials.

    LOL

    “professional credentials”

    yeah.

    didn’t they try this shit with the ISCID journal a few years back?

    look how well THAT turned out.

    IIRC, the last “publication” of that “journal” was over three years ago?

  75. #75 Ichthyic
    January 10, 2008

    Unlike the IDist PCID,

    ah, that’s the one i was thinking of.

  76. #76 Ichthyic
    January 10, 2008

    And at any rate, I think there are plenty more entertaining things to do than writing and reading poetry.

    frankly, I’ve been carrying around inspirational snippets from Wordsworth and Blake for decades.

    I suppose you decry the value of art itself?

  77. #77 Mrs Tilton
    January 10, 2008

    Jamie @58,

    From this it follows that poets ought to wipe the smug grins off their faces. They’re hedonistically playing about with little cute phrases; they’re not writing anything profound or doing anything constructive.

    You write “hedonistically” as though that were a bad thing.

    Seriously, I wonder whether there is a condition analogous to tone-deafness, an inability to “get” poetry — let us call it illyricism — and whether Jamie has it. To the illyrical, poetry might well be truly as dull as a poinsettia looks to a victim of red-green colour-blindness; “little cute phrases” and nothing more. His disdain for poetry, under such circumstances, would be entirely sincere and (subjectively) justified; though of course it merely points up a privation under which he suffers.

    I don’t like or agree with everything Dawkins writes, but unlike Jamie he is spot on about poets and poetry; see (I think) Unweaving the Rainbow and his turning of Auden’s dukes-and-curates image on its head. It would be nice to think that Dawkins occasionally lurks here and thus has the great good fortune to read the little odes with which Cuttlefish favours us.

  78. #78 Azkyroth
    January 10, 2008

    I don’t like or agree with everything Dawkins writes, but unlike Jamie he is spot on about poets and poetry; see (I think) Unweaving the Rainbow and his turning of Auden’s dukes-and-curates image on its head. It would be nice to think that Dawkins occasionally lurks here and thus has the great good fortune to read the little odes with which Cuttlefish favours us.

    I believe Dawkins has actually commented here on a few occasions.

  79. #79 murgadroid
    January 10, 2008

    I checked a couple of journals that I receive, one was Science from the AAAS. In AAAS author guidelines it says that the author licenses the work to the magazine but retains copyright.

    Another is Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. This one doesn’t specifically talk about copyright, but gives a wide range of ways in which the author can reuse and/or republish their work per a publishing agreement.

    My point was that there seems to be something sinister about the copyright issue. Perhaps it’s the sinister nature of the entire enterprise. But then, I don’t want to be labeled a conspiracy nut! :-)

  80. #80 Mrs Tilton
    January 10, 2008

    Also, Jamie is likely to incur the wrath of our host. For it was Plato whose republic would have outlawed poetry, whilst Aristotle was rather keen on proper ??????? of ??????; and our host decided a while ago that he is an Aristotelian rather than a Platonist.

  81. #81 Kseniya
    January 10, 2008

    Poetry: A Waste of Paint?

    TEACH THE CONTROVERSY!

  82. #82 Mrs Tilton
    January 10, 2008

    Kseniya @77:

    beautiful. The rest of us might as well just go home.

    PZ: does Kseniya have a Molly yet? And if not, why not?

  83. #83 Blake Stacey
    January 10, 2008

    Azkyroth (#75):

    I believe Dawkins has actually commented here on a few occasions.

    Yep.

  84. #84 Richard Simons
    January 10, 2008

    . . . in all the years I’ve been studying science I’ve never encountered a single person who finds scientific concepts best elucidated or memorized by means of poetry.

    Have you not come across The Biochemists’ Song Book by Harold Baum? He made songs of biochemical pathways and set them to music to make it easier for his students to remember them, evidently with great success.

  85. #85 David Godfrey
    January 10, 2008

    . . . in all the years I’ve been studying science I’ve never encountered a single person who finds scientific concepts best elucidated or memorized by means of poetry.

    Erasmus Darwin, Charles’ grandfather wrote “Loves of the Plants” in heroic couplets to illustrate and update Linnaean botanical classification system and disseminate it in an accessible style. “The Temple of Nature” (published posthumously) did the same for his (rather Lamarckian) theory of evolution. Both were bestsellers.

  86. #86 Bing McGhandi
    January 10, 2008

    The prize looks like it’s going to be upped by a hundred dollars. Someone is planning to make a donation. Remember that you can participate in the contest be contributing a prize to the winner. I won’t handle the money/merchandise/extra copy of Winged Migration you want to give away, but I will put winners and prize-givers in contact.

    HJ

  87. #87 PB
    January 10, 2008

    Jamie @58, get educated and get a copy of the soon to be published Open Science Blogging Anthology. Digital Cuttlefish’s poem is the opener. He shares the book with Pharyngula, The Bad Astronomer and many other Science Blogs.com authors…

    … and consider yourself fortunate that you’re subject to his sort of genius online, rather than middling-dull commentators like yourself. Baaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

  88. #88 Ex-drone
    January 10, 2008

    The problem with getting a crank paper published in ARJ is that, after it is revealed as a hoax and the furor dies down, the creationists will continue to cite it to support their lame arguments for the next ten years.

  89. #89 Bing
    January 11, 2008

    Part of this is to encourage them to not trust anyone who sends them anything. That, in my fanciful mind, keeps their list of potential contributors rather short.

    HJ

  90. #90 Dangerous Dan
    January 11, 2008

    Sorry, but in all the years I’ve been studying science I’ve never encountered a single person who finds scientific concepts best elucidated or memorized by means of poetry.

    A friend of mine once resorted to reciting to himself Tom Lehrer’s “Element Song” during a chemistry test. Does that count?

    Although I don’t often learn anything from Cuttlefish’s poetry, and often forget the poems themselves, I do often find them among the most enjoyable comments in whatever thread they are attached to.

  91. #91 Reynold
    January 11, 2008

    It looks like someone’s already sent in a spoof…as recorded by Fundies Say the Darndest Things:

    Mutations in the ebg system are clearly not an example of evolution but mutation and natural selection allowing for adaptation to the environment.

    Gronk! Look at what they’ve just slipped past the AIG screeners. It’s not an example of evolution but it’s an example of the process of evolution?!

  92. #92 Reynold
    January 11, 2008

    When one read that article, heading: Adaptive Mutation and the E. coli ebg Operon it appears they’ve put in some wiggle room with the statment:

    A major implication of this research is an understanding that adaptive mutation makes “limited” changes that severely restrict its use as a mechanism for evolution.

    Still, it looks to me like they’ve got less room to wiggle than before. Or am I being overly optimistic?

  93. #93 Don't Panic
    January 11, 2008

    You write “hedonistically” as though that were a bad thing.

    Yah, what was that about?

    Seriously, I wonder whether there is a condition analogous to tone-deafness, an inability to “get” poetry — let us call it illyricism — and whether Jamie has it. To the illyrical, poetry might well be truly as dull as a poinsettia looks to a victim of red-green colour-blindness; “little cute phrases” and nothing more. His disdain for poetry, under such circumstances, would be entirely sincere and (subjectively) justified; though of course it merely points up a privation under which he suffers.

    Oh, I could believe that such a condition exists. I must admit that, in general, I don’t “get” poetry — find it dull and interminable, and just “little cute phrases” for the most part. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t recognize that my condition isn’t universal. Jamie’s distain, dripping with animosity, on the other hand is also something I don’t “get”. This is a friggn’ blog for, ah, … snap … sake, and a little poetry tossed in isn’t obscuring any point or “information content”. In fact, Cuttlefish’s rhymes are often worth my effort — me, a perennial poem skipper. If for no other reason than amazement that someone can do that in the short time frame, on topic, to order and without too much fudging with pseudo-rhyming (you know those close-but-no-cookie word matches that often spring up in bad poetry)

  94. #94 Bing
    January 11, 2008

    It’s called near rhyme, and it’s bloody well legit. What gets me is when you have to twist the grammar all out of shape.

    HJ

  95. #95 David Marjanovi?, OM
    January 12, 2008

    PZ: does Kseniya have a Molly yet?

    Sure, since May 2007. She’s just too shy to mention that.

    (Which latter phenomenon is, unlike hedonism, not a good thing.)

  96. #96 David Marjanovi?, OM
    January 12, 2008

    PZ: does Kseniya have a Molly yet?

    Sure, since May 2007. She’s just too shy to mention that.

    (Which latter phenomenon is, unlike hedonism, not a good thing.)

  97. #97 Jamie
    January 12, 2008

    Mrs Tilton, #74:

    Seriously, I wonder whether there is a condition analogous to tone-deafness, an inability to “get” poetry — let us call it illyricism — and whether Jamie has it. To the illyrical, poetry might well be truly as dull as a poinsettia looks to a victim of red-green colour-blindness; “little cute phrases” and nothing more. His disdain for poetry, under such circumstances, would be entirely sincere and (subjectively) justified; though of course it merely points up a privation under which he suffers.

    Well, I strongly suspect people are just deceiving themselves about the entertainment value of poetry. Why would they do such a thing? Well, it’s widely perceived as an intellectual field, and it’s fashionable in educated circles. Poetry makes people feel good about themselves — it makes them feel educated.

    Why don’t I just go with the simplest hypothesis, namely that people genuinely enjoy poetry? I personally don’t see its appeal at all, and neither do those friends of mine who aren’t likely to deceive themselves. Poetry is also notoriously unpopular among scientists. Some people try to account for this by supposing that people fall into two generally mutally exclusive categories, logical and artistic. I think it’s better to assume that scientists simply aren’t as skilled at self-delusion.

  98. #98 Jamie
    January 12, 2008

    I’m not speaking entirely from inexperience and ignorance, by the way. Once when I was a teenager I fooled myself into believing that I loved Dostoyevsky’s writing. In hindsight, I’m quite certain I was mistaken. I’d guess that I was bored over 60% of the time when reading those novels — and yet I didn’t consciously admit this. The human mind is a strange thing.

  99. #99 Jamie
    January 12, 2008

    Yes, I know Dostoyevsky’s novels are hardly the same as poetry, but you understand what I mean.

  100. #100 Jamie
    January 12, 2008

    Pedants’ corner: I meant that the categories are “generally disjoint”, not “generally mutually exclusive”.

  101. #101 Ichthyic
    January 12, 2008

    Well, I strongly suspect people are just deceiving themselves about the entertainment value of poetry. Why would they do such a thing?

    why would you insist on so much projection?

    I fooled myself into believing that I loved Dostoyevsky’s writing.

    you fooled yourself into enjoying something?

    sounds more like you’re fooling yourself now, to me.

  102. #102 Ichthyic
    January 12, 2008

    The human mind is a strange thing.

    um, so i see…

  103. #103 Stanton
    January 12, 2008

    Well, I strongly suspect people are just deceiving themselves about the entertainment value of poetry. Why would they do such a thing? Well, it’s widely perceived as an intellectual field, and it’s fashionable in educated circles. Poetry makes people feel good about themselves — it makes them feel educated.

    Why don’t I just go with the simplest hypothesis, namely that people genuinely enjoy poetry? I personally don’t see its appeal at all, and neither do those friends of mine who aren’t likely to deceive themselves. Poetry is also notoriously unpopular among scientists. Some people try to account for this by supposing that people fall into two generally mutally exclusive categories, logical and artistic. I think it’s better to assume that scientists simply aren’t as skilled at self-delusion.

    Then, please to explain why the hordes of scholars who have been studying both poems, as well as how to write poems, for the last couple thousand years are delusional.

    Or, better yet, please to explain why the Chinese wasted their time deluding themselves with regarding poetry to be the highest form of literature.

  104. #104 Blake Stacey
    January 13, 2008

    Poetry is also notoriously unpopular among scientists.

    Evidence, please.

  105. #105 Rey Fox
    January 13, 2008

    Well you see, Blake, Jamie doesn’t like poetry, and neither do his friends. Well, except that one guy…and that other guy’s wife…but they don’t count, obviously. What more evidence do you need, you self-deluded fool?

  106. #106 PZ Myers
    January 13, 2008

    Now I’m curious about what other art forms serious scientists aren’t supposed to like.

    Is music OK? How about literature? Dance? Theater? Movies?

    There should be a list somewhere.

  107. #107 Ichthyic
    January 13, 2008

    Is music OK? How about literature? Dance? Theater? Movies?
    There should be a list somewhere.

    easy.

    you’re only allowed to enjoy expressions that can be appreciated fully by your “left brain”.

    if it can be appreciated by direct analysis, you’re good to go.

    if it requires translation because of the use of metaphor or imagery, you’re screwed.

    I joke, but I HAVE seen this kind of thing before; quite a few people block out the ability to appreciate art, and focus entirely on analytical pursuits. Rarely do i see them project that as a “good” thing, however.

    I’m sure it was a topic of discussion in my lower level psych courses, but I can’t recall if any specific name was applied to it beyond the pop-psych left/right brain dichotomy.

    example:

    http://educationalissues.suite101.com/article.cfm/left_brain_characteristics
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lateralization_of_brain_function

    like i say though, that whole dichotomy is mostly just pop psych (though of course there ARE *some* bilateral processing differences). I’m not sure if a specific condition has been attached to the rejection of poetry/art as a means of expression.

  108. #108 SEF
    January 13, 2008

    art forms serious scientists aren’t supposed to like

    I think the only real one is: lying. That’s very much the province of the non-science people who go into professions such as politics, law, religion and medicine.

    However, scientists could certainly take on the appearance of not liking arts if they simply couldn’t afford them in the way those better paid corrupt professions can. Cost of and support for the arts is a long-running argument in the UK (and was one of the issues which featured in the comedy show Yes Minister).

  109. #109 David Marjanovi?, OM
    January 13, 2008

    Now, it is the case that I (for one) don’t find much value in vast amounts of poetry or literature, but that doesn’t mean there is no such thing as entertaining poetry or good literature.

    However, the highest form of it all is not poetry, but the gag comic.

  110. #110 David Marjanovi?, OM
    January 13, 2008

    Now, it is the case that I (for one) don’t find much value in vast amounts of poetry or literature, but that doesn’t mean there is no such thing as entertaining poetry or good literature.

    However, the highest form of it all is not poetry, but the gag comic.

  111. #111 Jamie
    January 13, 2008

    Now I’m curious about what other art forms serious scientists aren’t supposed to like.

    Is music OK? How about literature? Dance? Theater? Movies?

    There should be a list somewhere.

    As usual, PZ, you resort to misrepresentation when an un-PC opinion is voiced. I didn’t say that ought not to like poetry. I’m taking it as sufficiently obvious fact that poetry is “notoriously unpopular” among scientists. Maybe this is wrong, but personal experience tells me it isn’t, and I’m going to need something substantial to convince me otherwise.

  112. #112 Jamie
    January 13, 2008

    Screwed up the quotes.

  113. #113 Jamie
    January 13, 2008

    Then, please to explain why the hordes of scholars who have been studying both poems, as well as how to write poems, for the last couple thousand years are delusional.

    Going to play this game, are we? All right then, please explain why the hordes of scholars who have been studying theology for the last couple thousand years are delusional.

    The answer is, of course, that it’s perfectly possible for large numbers of people to delude themselves.

  114. #114 Jamie
    January 13, 2008

    #106 is barely coherent, so I’ll post it again.

    Now I’m curious about what other art forms serious scientists aren’t supposed to like.

    As usual, PZ, you resort to misrepresentation when an un-PC opinion is voiced. I didn’t say that scientists ought not to like poetry. I’m taking it as sufficiently obvious fact that poetry is “notoriously unpopular” among scientists. Maybe this is wrong, but personal experience tells me it isn’t, and I’m going to need something substantial to convince me otherwise.

  115. #115 PZ Myers
    January 13, 2008

    Scientists are people of very dissimilar temperaments doing different things in very different ways. Among scientists are collectors, classifiers and compulsive tidiers-up; many are detectives by temperament and many are explorers; some are artists and others artisans. There are poet-scientists and philosopher-scientists and even a few mystics.

    Peter Medawar

    I find your claim that poetry is “notoriously unpopular” among scientists to be remarkable. I like poetry. I know other scientists who like poetry. I know scientists who write poetry. The proportion of poetry lovers among scientists is lower than among academics in the humanities, in my experience, but higher than what you’ll find in non-academics.

    You’re the one making a claim against my experience, and further claiming that scientists have a “notorious” dislike of poetry — you’re the one who needs to back up that bizarre assertion.

    Read any Goethe lately?

  116. #116 Jamie
    January 13, 2008

    Another thing no-one has commented on is the prevalent consensus, at least among people from the humanities, that poetry is somehow philosophically profound and replete with wisdom. Now this is complete bullshit. As I indicated earlier, poetry greatly compromises information content. It is therefore not the preferred medium for conveyance of “pearls of wisdom”. If poets had genuine deep ideas, they would write a tangible essay and express themselves in plain words — much as scientists do in scientific papers.

    Naturally, many people here will say that poetry is just about entertainment — you don’t read it to better understand the world. But one has to appreciate that in much of academia, there is a great equivocation between whether poetry is supposed to be constructive (a medium for conveyance of ideas), or purely for hedonistic purposes.

    One more thing which sets off my bullshit detector is that they force poetry on children in schools. If it’s just intended to be for entertainment, then why don’t they put video games on the curriculum?

  117. #117 Jamie
    January 13, 2008

    I find your claim that poetry is “notoriously unpopular” among scientists to be remarkable. I like poetry. I know other scientists who like poetry. I know scientists who write poetry. The proportion of poetry lovers among scientists is lower than among academics in the humanities, in my experience, but higher than what you’ll find in non-academics.

    Yes, higher than what you’ll find in non-academics. Hardly surprising, seeing as poetry has always been fashionable in the non-scientific part of academia. Also, scientists are more literate than the general population.

    Scientists, the most logical people in academia, are the least likely of all academics to like poetry. That’s all I need for my argument to hold, really.

  118. #118 thalarctos
    January 13, 2008

    Read any Goethe lately?

    And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve cut way back on commenting lately, because I’ve gotten a book contract, which has sucked all my “free time” into the black hole of writes/rewrites. The book is on developing skills in research literacy (reading and understanding scientific research) for non-scientists.

    One of the book’s fundamental points is developing the ability to distinguish science from non-science and anti-science. Among the examples I use are origin stories, such as in the Finnish epic poem, the Kalevala, and the Navajo origin story, Diné bahane’.

    Science, they aren’t, obviously–but the power and beauty and richness of the language and the stories, even surviving the meat grinder of translation, continues to move listeners–I get chills down my back just reading them on the screen or page, much less hearing them performed by a skilled reader.

    I think Mrs. Tilton is on the money with the analogy to tone-deafness, although color-blindness works just as well. It’s as if Jamie can’t see anything but gray, so he’s trying to persuade the rest of us that we should give up seeing color, since no one else can see color, and color is all a big PC hoax, foisted on us by the schools.

    It’s bizarre, but if he’s truly incapable of appreciating something, I guess I can see why he’d resent those who do and project that resentment onto “scientists” as a group. I’ve learned a lot about denialism over the last couple of years, but I have to admit that “poetry denialism” is a new one on me.

  119. #119 Blake Stacey
    January 13, 2008

    I’m taking it as sufficiently obvious fact that poetry is “notoriously unpopular” among scientists. Maybe this is wrong, but personal experience tells me it isn’t, and I’m going to need something substantial to convince me otherwise.

    Scientists do not rely upon personal experience. The mind can edit and reconstruct memories after the fact; sampling bias can skew observations; anecdotes are not data. You have presented us with an extraordinary claim, but you have not shown us the extraordinary evidence required to support it.

    It is unusual and ironic to see the integrity and mental discipline of scientists upheld in such an unscientific fashion. This might make a good subject for a poem.

  120. #120 MAJeff
    January 13, 2008

    I pity Jamie.

  121. #121 Jamie
    January 13, 2008

    Scientists do not rely upon personal experience. The mind can edit and reconstruct memories after the fact; sampling bias can skew observations; anecdotes are not data.

    Utter bullshit. We all heavily rely on personal experience, and we don’t obtain every one of our opinions from scientific studies. Anyway, I don’t see how anyone can deny that scientists tend to be significantly less interested in poetry than other academics.

    No-one has yet responded to my point about school curriculum. How does poetry have more of a right than video games to be taught in schools?

  122. #122 Jamie
    January 13, 2008

    I pity Jamie.

    And I pity you if you truly don’t have more engaging hobbies than reading childish rhymes and quaint phrases.

  123. #123 Jamie
    January 13, 2008

    Why don’t you instead go and read some good science writing? Plenty of quaint phrases there, and you get to learn wonderful facts about the real world as well.

    Oh, wait! Science writing usually doesn’t rhyme, does it? Silly me — what was I thinking?

  124. #124 MAJeff
    January 13, 2008

    Maybe I’ll read Dawkins and get poetry along with my science writing.

    What a fuckwit. I guess that since I enjoy reading Dawkins I have to give up Wilfred Owen. Enjoying Hawkings means no Shakespeare.

    I guess I should give up Mahler and van Gogh and AbFab and Beethoven and Julia Mehretu and The Simpsons and Richard Russo and Garcia-Marquez as well.

    What an empty world you must live in.

  125. #125 Suricou Raven
    January 13, 2008

    A suggested topic:

    Pre- and Post-Fall functional comparison of pathenogenic organisms.
    (What did all those bugs do before they could kill people? Pick a disease causing organism, speculate on a non-harmful function it could have performed. Remember, it cant evolve. I suggest the Guina Worm)

    Effects of magnetic field reversal on atmospheric water vapor capacity.
    (Where did all the water for the Flood come from? Make up something about a strong magnetic field assisting the alignment of polarised molecules to hugely increase the capacity of the atmosphere.)

    Oligochaeta as a model for the imact of post-flood UV radiation on lifespan.
    (Shine UV at earthworms in a tray, observe they die sooner than a control (Just make up the figures), and extrapolate to the long lifespans of Noah’s family.

  126. #126 Stanton
    January 13, 2008

    Another thing no-one has commented on is the prevalent consensus, at least among people from the humanities, that poetry is somehow philosophically profound and replete with wisdom. Now this is complete bullshit. As I indicated earlier, poetry greatly compromises information content. It is therefore not the preferred medium for conveyance of “pearls of wisdom”. If poets had genuine deep ideas, they would write a tangible essay and express themselves in plain words — much as scientists do in scientific papers.

    Then why did the Chinese revere and imitate their great poets for thousands of years?

    Why do scholars of English regard William Shakespeare’s sonnets as among the greatest examples of English literature ever composed?

    Scientists, the most logical people in academia, are the least likely of all academics to like poetry. That’s all I need for my argument to hold, really.

    Wrong
    All you need for your argument to hold is to provide examples of scientists who routinely spurn poetry as a useless endeavor. Your argument is floundering because you refuse to provide actual examples of scientists who spurn poetry.

    And I pity you if you truly don’t have more engaging hobbies than reading childish rhymes and quaint phrases.

    Obviously, you are oblivious to the complex rhyming schemes of sonnets, or even to the rhyming schemes of haikus.

    Why don’t you instead go and read some good science writing? Plenty of quaint phrases there, and you get to learn wonderful facts about the real world as well.

    Oh, wait! Science writing usually doesn’t rhyme, does it? Silly me — what was I thinking?

    You have not read any Chinese literature, and you are quite oblivious to Poetry’s influences toward all forms of Chinese literature, to the point where many scholarly and scientific texts were written with a rhyming scheme, and that applicants who took the entrance test to enter the Imperial Bureaucracy had to answer their essay questions in the forms of poems that followed complex rhyming schemes similar to the Petrarchan rhyming scheme of Italian sonnets.

    No-one has yet responded to my point about school curriculum. How does poetry have more of a right than video games to be taught in schools?

    Maybe because we didn’t think you were stupid enough to think that teaching video games in a school curriculum would violate international copyrights on most video games, and we didn’t think you were stupid enough to not realize that video games do not expose children to language in a way that will allow them to form basic communication skills the way poems do, if at all.

  127. #127 Jamie
    January 13, 2008

    Chinese literature? Are you for real? How could this possibly stand to confute anything I’ve said? I think poetry might very well have been a worthwhile endeavour many years ago, back when there was significantly less for people to do. Of course, there was a great deal of self-deception associated most of it. You know: people trying to fool themselves into believing that obscurantism is philosophically profound.

    Maybe because we didn’t think you were stupid enough to think that teaching video games in a school curriculum would violate international copyrights on most video games, and we didn’t think you were stupid enough to not realize that video games do not expose children to language in a way that will allow them to form basic communication skills the way poems do, if at all.

    International copyright laws? Do you really believe that video games would be taught alongside poetry if it weren’t for those pesky copyright laws? Now who’s the stupid one.

    Poetry improves “basic communication skills”, does it? I don’t think it does. I think too much interest in poetry, even in intelligent scientists, can lead to the kind of muddled, self-conscious Stephen Jay Gould writing style. At any rate, I don’t know why you would choose poetry to improve children’s communication skills. Why not The Lord of the Rings, or whatever literature they’re more likely to actually enjoy?

  128. #128 Anon
    January 13, 2008

    http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/53489/

    http://www.newscientist.com/blog/shortsharpscience/2007/07/poetry-of-science.html

    http://www.thenewatlantis.com/archive/4/cantor.htm

    One thought–in both good poetry and good scientific writing, a common goal is precision of language. It is my opinion that writing poetry is a wonderful exercise in choosing just the right word to convey a thought, and that scientific writing would benefit greatly from such exercise. Good poetry is not inefficient, but condenses ideas. (Of course, there is horribly bad poetry, too–PZ linked to a Xian poetry site that was horrendous). My gut feeling (I don’t claim “notorious” popularity for this idea) is that scientific writers who do *not* like poetry also have a tougher time editing their scientific prose. Hey, it’s an empirical question…

  129. #129 Jamie
    January 13, 2008

    What a fuckwit. I guess that since I enjoy reading Dawkins I have to give up Wilfred Owen. Enjoying Hawkings means no Shakespeare.

    I wouldn’t say that. What I would say is that I think there are better things to be doing in the 21st century than reading Shakespeare and Wilfred Owen. And I’ll say that I suspect people exaggerate the extent to which they enjoy such things as Shakespeare.

  130. #130 Stanton
    January 13, 2008

    International copyright laws? Do you really believe that video games would be taught alongside poetry if it weren’t for those pesky copyright laws? Now who’s the stupid one.

    Please show me where did I say that I would endorse teaching videogames if it weren’t for copyright laws, unless, of course, you’re simply doing what trolls often want to do by making a strawman out of their opponents’ points.

    Why not The Lord of the Rings, or whatever literature they’re more likely to actually enjoy?

    Please explain how you would be able to teach basic communication and basic language skills to 1st graders or kindergarteners by reading The Lord of the Rings to them, please.

  131. #131 Stanton
    January 13, 2008

    Chinese literature? Are you for real? How could this possibly stand to confute anything I’ve said? I think poetry might very well have been a worthwhile endeavour many years ago, back when there was significantly less for people to do. Of course, there was a great deal of self-deception associated most of it. You know: people trying to fool themselves into believing that obscurantism is philosophically profound.

    What makes you think that the Chinese and other civilizations didn’t have alot to do even then? I brought up the example of the Chinese because they were a civilization that loved Poetry to the point where it had profound influences on all aspects of Chinese literature. The Chinese valued aesthetics in all forms, including verbal aesthetics. The Chinese valued the scholar who mastered his own language to the point where he was capable of shaping his own words like soft clay. And I can not fathom why scholars and scientists today shouldn’t also be able to master their own languages to the point where they, too, can sculpt what they speak. If you weren’t blinded by your own frothing distastes, you might have realized this, too.

    Also, did it ever occur to you that poetry is derived from singing, or, do you regard song composition to be an equally worthless pastime?

    And I’ll say that I suspect people exaggerate the extent to which they enjoy such things as Shakespeare.

    Provide proof, please.

    Also, did it ever occur to you that people on this blog think of you as a flaming bigot because you have declared yourself Judge Judy and Executioner over what scientists can and are forbidden to do with their free time?

  132. #132 Brachychiton
    January 13, 2008

    And I pity you if you truly don’t have more engaging hobbies than reading childish rhymes and quaint phrases.

    And I pity you if your hobby is to whinge about other people’s reading matter. Get out, laddie. Get some fresh air into you. Dwelling on you failures in the English Lit class can’t be good for you.

  133. #133 windy
    January 13, 2008

    At any rate, I don’t know why you would choose poetry to improve children’s communication skills. Why not The Lord of the Rings…

    Noooo!!! There’s poetry in it!

  134. #134 Jamie
    January 13, 2008

    Please show me where did I say that I would endorse teaching videogames if it weren’t for copyright laws, unless, of course, you’re simply doing what trolls often want to do by making a strawman out of their opponents’ points.

    I didn’t say you endorsed anything. But clearly you must have felt that copyright laws obstruct video games from featuring on the school curriculum — otherwise why would you have mentioned copyright laws?

    Please explain how you would be able to teach basic communication and basic language skills to 1st graders or kindergarteners by reading The Lord of the Rings to them, please.

    So poetry is only suitable for first-graders? And there’s no other material besides poetry that can improve first-graders’ communication skills? It does help to make sense, you know.

    What makes you think that the Chinese and other civilizations didn’t have alot to do even then?

    I take it as sufficiently obvious that there are more entertaining activities now than there were then. Do you think this claim as well needs to be backed up with a scientific study?

    Provide proof, please.

    Proof? Well, I think this conjecture is beyond the present resources of mathematics.

  135. #135 Ichthyic
    January 13, 2008

    All right then, please explain why the hordes of scholars who have been studying theology for the last couple thousand years are delusional.

    here, Hector Avalos explains it for you in detail:

    http://www.mnatheists.org/atheist_talk//07_10_23-HectorAvalosEndofBiblicalStudies_pt1.mp4
    http://www.mnatheists.org/atheist_talk//07_10_23-HectorAvalosEndofBiblicalStudies_pt2.mp4

    I think you need to vist a therapist, personally. Instead of saying something like “What? I just don’t like poetry” you instead exhibit the extreme projection that scientists in general don’t care for poetry, which is obvious BS considering that you have lots of scientists HERE IN THIS THREAD that do. when someone utilizes projection like you do, it suggests some sort of underlying problem you are trying to protect.

    so, what is it?

    just lonely?

    ex girlfriend was an artist?

  136. #136 Stanton
    January 13, 2008

    I didn’t say you endorsed anything. But clearly you must have felt that copyright laws obstruct video games from featuring on the school curriculum — otherwise why would you have mentioned copyright laws?

    I mentioned copyright laws because the companies that make video games do not appreciate having their products used in a manner in which the games were not intended to be used as, and when a company wishes to stop the unauthorized use of one of their products, they tend to cite copyright violations as one of the reasons.

    So, then, please to explain why a first grade teacher is better off teaching his or her students by using Halo 3, or assigning the students to read The Silmarillion, as opposed to, say, discussing The Witch’s Charm from Macbeth?

    Proof? Well, I think this conjecture is beyond the present resources of mathematics.

    I am using proof as a synonym of evidence, and you know it. That you have to resort to petty semantics lawyering to give the illusion of addressing this request strongly suggests that you have no evidence whatsoever to support your arrogant claim that you know best for what scientists and children can and can not read for educational or entertainment purposes.

  137. #137 Ichthyic
    January 13, 2008

    sufficiently obvious

    ah yes, the words of projection.

    if it were sufficiently obvious to anyone but yourself, do you think that all these people would be trying to get you to see otherwise?

    stop and think.

    you’re projecting.

    stop it.

  138. #138 Ichthyic
    January 13, 2008

    btw, is this the same jamie who is the animal rightist?

  139. #139 Ichthyic
    January 13, 2008

    I’ve cut way back on commenting lately, because I’ve gotten a book contract

    congrats!

    sounds like things have really taken an upswing for you of late.

  140. #140 Cuttlefish, OM
    January 13, 2008

    Re #61:

    A peacock’s tail is much too big
    To help it much in flying.
    And If I claimed that poetry
    Was science, I’d be lying.
    But fancy tails and fancy rhymes
    Both generate affection,
    And poetry is here because
    Of sexual selection.

  141. #141 windy
    January 13, 2008

    One of the book’s fundamental points is developing the ability to distinguish science from non-science and anti-science. Among the examples I use are origin stories, such as in the Finnish epic poem, the Kalevala….

    Now I’ll definitely have to read it ;) What translation/s did you use? (It’s almost a shame that we don’t get home-grown creationists arguing for the validity of the Kalevala origin story, instead of the banal imports…)

  142. #142 Blake Stacey
    January 13, 2008

    I get a reply from Cuttlefish! Woo hoo!

  143. #143 David Marjanovi?, OM
    January 13, 2008

    Another thing no-one has commented on is the prevalent consensus, at least among people from the humanities, that poetry is somehow philosophically profound and replete with wisdom. Now this is complete bullshit.

    I agree in the vast majority of cases. So what?

    so, what is it?

    just lonely?

    ex girlfriend was an artist?

    Having had to learn Shakespeare by rote without being taught what grammar like “thou spakest” means?

  144. #144 David Marjanovi?, OM
    January 13, 2008

    Another thing no-one has commented on is the prevalent consensus, at least among people from the humanities, that poetry is somehow philosophically profound and replete with wisdom. Now this is complete bullshit.

    I agree in the vast majority of cases. So what?

    so, what is it?

    just lonely?

    ex girlfriend was an artist?

    Having had to learn Shakespeare by rote without being taught what grammar like “thou spakest” means?

  145. #145 Jamie
    January 13, 2008

    I mentioned copyright laws because the companies that make video games do not appreciate having their products used in a manner in which the games were not intended to be used as, and when a company wishes to stop the unauthorized use of one of their products, they tend to cite copyright violations as one of the reasons.

    No, you were just bullshiting. It’s unlikely that copyright laws are the reason why video games aren’t on the school curriculum. I therefore fail to see why you chose to mention them.

    ISo, then, please to explain why a first grade teacher is better off teaching his or her students by using Halo 3, or assigning the students to read The Silmarillion, as opposed to, say, discussing The Witch’s Charm from Macbeth?

    Oh, I don’t think any of those things should be done in schools. But if poetry is only supposed to be for hedonistic purposes, as some people claim, then why not teach video games?

    If poetry is only on the curriculum as a means of teaching language skills, well — I can’t understand why they don’t instead use work which (a) promotes good use of language, and (b) is actually fun for as many kids as possible. By these criteria, The Lord of the Rings would be a good candidate.

  146. #146 Ichthyic
    January 13, 2008

    But if poetry is only supposed to be for hedonistic purposes, as some people claim

    where?

    oh, you mean YOU.

    projecting again?

    tisk tisk.

    so, is this the same Jamie that is an animal rightist?

    seriously, your lack of logic and tremendous projection does sound familiar…

  147. #147 MAJeff
    January 13, 2008

    so, is this the same Jamie that is an animal rightist?

    pro-torture.

  148. #148 Jamie
    January 13, 2008

    I am using proof as a synonym of evidence, and you know it. That you have to resort to petty semantics lawyering to give the illusion of addressing this request strongly suggests that you have no evidence whatsoever to support your arrogant claim that you know best for what scientists and children can and can not read for educational or entertainment purposes.

    So you’re after evidence and not proof. Do say what you mean, in future. I think I can come up with some good arguments that there are more educational things for children than poetry, and I don’t think many here would dispute my claim that scientists like poetry less than most other types of academic. Admittedly I don’t have references to any scientific studies at my disposal, if that’s what you’re really after, but since when did every opinion have to be buttressed by those?

  149. #149 Stanton
    January 13, 2008

    But if poetry is only supposed to be for hedonistic purposes

    Please explain how you can arrive at this conclusion if the Chinese, the Greek, the Roman and English civilizations used poetry for purposes besides love poems, such as describing and personifying animals, and natural events, as well as their myths, legends and creation stories, and provide evidence to why you come to this conclusion.

  150. #150 Ichthyic
    January 13, 2008

    pro-torture.

    oh.

    i see.

    that one.

    I just wanted to be clear why anyone was bothering, and I see now there is little point.

    the answer to the earlier question as to the underlying cause of his malfunction is:

    lonely.

  151. #151 Jamie
    January 13, 2008

    pro-torture.

    Lying shitbag. I said, many times, that I think torture is deplorable in almost all situations — the only exceptions being extremely improbable, currently dismissible, “ticking time-bomb” situations where torture is the last resort. The opinion I expressed was exactly the one put forward by Sam Harris in The End of Faith. Now I don’t want to get into another argument about that irrelevancy. Cut it out with these barefaced, wretchedly dishonest lies.

  152. #152 Stanton
    January 13, 2008

    I think I can come up with some good arguments that there are more educational things for children than poetry, and I don’t think many here would dispute my claim that scientists like poetry less than most other types of academic. Admittedly I don’t have references to any scientific studies at my disposal, if that’s what you’re really after, but since when did every opinion have to be buttressed by those?

    Then why is it that everyone else here on this blog, including its owner, disagrees with and disputes all of your opinions and claims about poetry?

    And what evidence do you have that demonstrates that you, and you alone, are the sole arbiter of what scientists and children can and are forbidden to read for entertainment and educational purposes beyond the fact that you hate poetry beyond reasoning for no apparent reason?

  153. #153 Stanton
    January 13, 2008

    I don’t think many here would dispute my claim that scientists like poetry less than most other types of academic. Admittedly I don’t have references to any scientific studies at my disposal

    Show me another poster who agrees with your claim that scientists dislike poetry on principle, and do realize that if you can not support your claims with evidence, we can not trust whatever claims you make.

  154. #154 Jamie
    January 13, 2008

    Please explain how you can arrive at this conclusion if the Chinese, the Greek, the Roman and English civilizations used poetry for purposes besides love poems, such as describing and personifying animals, and natural events, as well as their myths, legends and creation stories, and provide evidence to why you come to this conclusion.

    Poetry isn’t the best way to describe the natural world. Almost all scientists agree with me, as is evinced in every scientific journal you would care to look at. So what exactly is it for?

    Some people insist that it’s a source of philosophical profundity. I would ask them to direct me to online articles explaining some tangible, novel ideas that were first put forward in poems. Others — like Mrs Tilton in this thread — admit that it’s mainly for entertainment. I don’t dispute the latter viewpoint; I say only that I’m suspicious (note: suspicious, not convinced) as to whether these people are deluding themselves.

  155. #155 Jamie
    January 13, 2008

    Show me another poster who agrees with your claim that scientists dislike poetry on principle…

    I didn’t claim any such thing.

  156. #156 Stanton
    January 13, 2008

    Then why did you stated that poetry is used solely for hedonistic purposes when I said that, among other things, poetry has been used to describe the natural and supernatural worlds, and that poetry is derived from singing, as most ancient cultures recited poetry through singing, such as the reciting of creation epics.

  157. #157 Stanton
    January 13, 2008
    Show me another poster who agrees with your claim that scientists dislike poetry on principle…

    I didn’t claim any such thing.

    Then show me another poster who agrees with this:

    I don’t think many here would dispute my claim that scientists like poetry less than most other types of academic.

    please, when all of the other posters have disputing your claims and opinions about poetry.

  158. #158 Jamie
    January 13, 2008

    I don’t think many here would dispute my claim that scientists like poetry less than most other types of academic.

    I’m not making claims about all scientists; I’m speaking statistically. OK, who disputes my assertion that on average scientists like poetry less than non-scientific academicians, including those from the humanities departments? PZ, at least, agrees with me (see his earlier post in this thread).

  159. #159 Jamie
    January 13, 2008

    Then why did you stated that poetry is used solely for hedonistic purposes when I said that, among other things, poetry has been used to describe the natural and supernatural worlds, and that poetry is derived from singing, as most ancient cultures recited poetry through singing, such as the reciting of creation epics.

    “Supernatural worlds” are nonexistent, and describing them hardly qualifies as non-hedonistic. The natural world is best described in formats other than poetry. Some people try to use poetry for philosophy — I’ve already argued that I think this is almost always silly.

    My argument was that the only possible good use of poetry is for hedonistic purposes.

  160. #160 Stanton
    January 13, 2008

    If PZ agrees with you, then how come he also said

    You’re the one making a claim against my experience, and further claiming that scientists have a “notorious” dislike of poetry — you’re the one who needs to back up that bizarre assertion.

    right after he tempered his statement about there being proportionally less poets and poetry-lovers among scientists than there are poets and poetry-lovers among humanity academics, what with poetry being a division of the Humanities, with stating that there are more poets and poetry-lovers among scientists than there are among non-academics?

  161. #161 Rey Fox
    January 13, 2008

    “I don’t think many here would dispute my claim that scientists like poetry less than most other types of academic.”

    I don’t think so either. It’s probably because 1) they consider it a trivial and irrelevant point, and 2) they don’t have as big a stick up their asses as you do.

  162. #162 Jamie
    January 13, 2008

    PZ said:

    The proportion of poetry lovers among scientists is lower than among academics in the humanities, in my experience, but higher than what you’ll find in non-academics.

    That’s what I was referring to.

    I know that he disagrees with the other opinions I’ve expressed.

  163. #163 Stanton
    January 13, 2008

    “Supernatural worlds” are nonexistent, and describing them hardly qualifies as non-hedonistic. The natural world is best described in formats other than poetry. Some people try to use poetry for philosophy — I’ve already argued that I think this is almost always silly.

    So, then, is this to imply that you’re inferring that the ancient poet-philosophers, such as Eurypides, Sappho, Confucius, or Virgil, were all hedonistic fools, and that the tradition of a culture preserving its epic cycles of creation and heroic ancestors is a useless waste of time?

  164. #164 Stanton
    January 13, 2008

    I know that he disagrees with the other opinions I’ve expressed.

    Such as your opinion that scientists should avoid engaging in the enjoyment of poetry altogether?

  165. #165 PZ Myers
    January 13, 2008

    Jamie, you really don’t get it.

    There is a higher proportion of people who like poetry in the humanities because that’s where you find professional poets and writers and students of the arts. Saying that there are fewer fans of poetry in the sciences in that context is like saying there are fewer fans of football at home than sitting on the bench at an NFL game.

    It takes real dedication to put your foot in your mouth as persistently as you do. I’m sure you can find better things to do than continuing to defend an utterly idiotic statement.

  166. #166 Jamie
    January 13, 2008

    People here are amusingly naive. I would get ridiculed by my physicist pals if I were to say to them that I read poetry. Playfully, yes, but they would be honestly baffled as to why I would read it. I’m sure my friends aren’t especially strange, either. I’ve had teachers of the same mentality, and not just a few of them. How many people here can report a similar thing? Most of you, I’ll wager.

    I’m not saying that people shouldn’t read and write poetry. They can do it if they want; I don’t care. However, I think it should be kept out of schools unless they can explain how it’s educational in addition to being supposedly entertaining. (Most people are hardly poetry-lovers, by the way.) Also, since my encounters with classic literature as a teenager, I would urge people to ensure that they aren’t deceiving themselves with respect to their pastimes. It’s surprisingly easy to fool yourself into believing that you love this or that literature, even when you really find it quite boring (but won’t consciously admit so). Again, I know people who are of the same opinion, so I’m sure I’m not unique in this way.

  167. #167 Anon
    January 13, 2008

    So… nobody has any actual data? This is just a pissing match?

    Fortunately for Jamie, internet blog pissing matches are among the most efficient forms of communication. Otherwise, one might consider this a waste of time, and only good for hedonistic purposes.

    Anecdotally… years and years ago, a prof of mine decided that it was worth his time, when lecturing on selection by consequences, to illustrate this fundamental concept in biology and psychology with a recitation, from memory, of Frost’s “The Road Not Taken”. It worked. I use it in my classes today.

  168. #168 Blake Stacey
    January 13, 2008

    Another thing no-one has commented on is the prevalent consensus, at least among people from the humanities, that poetry is somehow philosophically profound and replete with wisdom. Now this is complete bullshit.

    Sure, 90% of poetry is crud. That’s because 90% of everything is crud. (It’s not an original observation.)

  169. #169 Steve_C
    January 13, 2008

    Damn you’re a geek. And not in a good way.

    Please tell us how Halo 3 is the high point of culture..

    Grow up.

  170. #170 Jamie
    January 13, 2008

    There is a higher proportion of people who like poetry in the humanities because that’s where you find professional poets and writers and students of the arts. Saying that there are fewer fans of poetry in the sciences in that context is like saying there are fewer fans of football at home than sitting on the bench at an NFL game.

    I assumed you’re intelligent enough to bypass this oversimplification, but I’m clearly mistaken. Not all people in the humanities have to write poetry. There are, for example, historians who don’t have much academic experience with poetry. And yet these are, by my reckoning, considerably more likely to enjoy poetry than scientists.

  171. #171 Blake Stacey
    January 13, 2008

    Let’s multiply anecdotes:

    Does Dawkins’ Unweaving the Rainbow count? What about the entomologist named Vladimir Nabokov? Or the professor of biochemistry named Isaac Asimov, who turned to writing comic verse when office politics tired and depressed him, and who later wrote two volumes on Shakespeare? Was Stephen J. Gould just faking his enjoyment of Gilbert and Sullivan the way Meg Ryan faked an orgasm in When Harry Met Sally? How do we reckon the work of Carl Sagan, whose writings shimmer with the experience of a lifetime of eclectic reading? Should we tally the cosmologist Sean Carroll, whose wedding vows were based on W. H. Auden and Rainer Maria Rilke? (Of course, we can’t really trust a man whose wife wears red on her wedding day.) What about the poetry quoted with admiration by the mathematical physicist John Baez, perennial fixture of online physics discussion and debate?

    And on and on.

  172. #172 windy
    January 13, 2008

    (Most people are hardly poetry-lovers, by the way.)

    Unless you consider that many song lyrics are essentially poetry set to music.

  173. #173 Stanton
    January 13, 2008

    I assumed you’re intelligent enough to bypass this oversimplification, but I’m clearly mistaken. Not all people in the humanities have to write poetry. There are, for example, historians who don’t have much academic experience with poetry. And yet these are, by my reckoning, considerably more likely to enjoy poetry than scientists.

    Can you specify which sort of historians you refer to that don’t have academic experience with poetry, given as how there are a nigh-infinity variety of historians who specialize in topics as diverse as cars to cattle breeds?

    And, why would the fact that, say, a historian who specializes in Russian military history, and doesn’t happen to appreciate Longfellow or Shakespeare, lend strength to your argument, as opposed to, say, a historian who specializes in Ancient Greek History, and is intimately familiar with Ancient Greek poetry written by historians from Ancient Greece, or even a historian of English history, and the often-repeated claim that the epic poem of Beowulf being the very first example of English literature?

  174. #174 MAJeff
    January 13, 2008

    Unless you consider that many song lyrics are essentially poetry set to music.

    And there’s this new thing called “rapping” that the kids have really gotten into lately. I’ve even heard young people doing this thing called “rhyming” during my day-to-day activities.

  175. #175 Jamie
    January 13, 2008

    #164:

    Funny that you mention Stephen Jay Gould. An overly-poetic scientist if there ever was one. He could be muddled to the point of obscurity by his habitual urge to please the humanities crowd. His books and essays are full of ridiculous, gratuitous, self-conscious allusions to esoteric nonsense from the so-called fine arts.

    The others occasionally indulge in references to poetry, but they seldom go overboard. Which is a good thing.

    I don’t think my experience of scientists is anecdotal. And I do think there’s a reason why they’re ever trying to lateralize logic and creativity in pop-psychology, thus placing people into one of two disparate categories. (Of course, I don’t agree with it, but I do accept that people doing science and people doing the humanities are in general significantly different.)

  176. #176 Jamie
    January 13, 2008

    Unless you consider that many song lyrics are essentially poetry set to music.

    I don’t think the words is the most appealing aspect to most songs. But yet another debate, which I’m not prepared to enter.

  177. #177 Jamie
    January 13, 2008

    People can’t even agree on whether they think the main purpose of poetry is fun or philosophical profundity. I’m quite sure a large percentage of people — especially those from the humanities — would choose the latter. And yet when you ask them to give you an example of this philosophical profundity…

    So there remains a glaring possibility that the main purpose of poetry is charlatanism. Now, you see why I’m so cynical?

  178. #178 Stanton
    January 13, 2008

    So there remains a glaring possibility that the main purpose of poetry is charlatanism. Now, you see why I’m so cynical?

    So, then, you’re insinuating that we should go out and destroy all existing copies of Shakespeare, Longfellow, Sappho, Virgil, and Eurypides, as well as all epic poems, and non-historical scholarly works that follow a rhyming scheme by all writers throughout history just in case this paranoid suspicion of yours it true?

  179. #179 Anon
    January 13, 2008

    “I don’t think my experience of scientists is anecdotal.”

    Please re-read that, Jamie, and feel free to supply the polls or surveys that raise your individual experience above that of “anecdotal”.

    Also, there is a world of difference between academic and pop psychology. It speaks volumes that you cite something as support that even you disagree with.

    I suspect that these colleagues of yours who would ridicule you for reading poetry would also ridicule you for speaking so freely about matters you are ignorant about. In the absence of any real data, you are relying on your personal, anecdotal experience. You would do well to ask, not your physicist friends, but an experimental psychologist, about the biases inherent in such extrapolation.

  180. #180 Jamie
    January 13, 2008

    Clearly all I was trying to do was show that different ways of thinking — the so-called categories “logical” and “creative” — are commonly perceived.

  181. #181 Stanton
    January 13, 2008

    At the very least, if it is true that the reason for Jamie’s unreasoning hate of poetry stems from the fact that he is afraid of his physicist friends ridiculing him, it would behoove Jamie to replace his old physicist friends with newer physicist friends who accept him for who he is immediately.

  182. #182 Jamie
    January 13, 2008

    Bah! The last post is screwed up completely. Ignore it.

    Also, there is a world of difference between academic and pop psychology. It speaks volumes that you cite something as support that even you disagree with.

    Clearly all I was trying to do was show that different ways of thinking — the so-called categories “logical” and “creative” — are commonly perceived.

  183. #183 MAJeff
    January 13, 2008

    At the very least, if it is true that the reason for Jamie’s unreasoning hate of poetry stems from the fact that he is afraid of his physicist friends ridiculing him, it would behoove Jamie to replace his old physicist friends with newer physicist friends who accept him for who he is immediately.

    My guess: poetry, through its use of metaphor, tends to appeal indirectly and often emotionally, and is also coded as feminine. Translation: it’s a girly thing, and therefore to be ridiculed and avoided.

  184. #184 Jamie
    January 13, 2008

    At the very least, if it is true that the reason for Jamie’s unreasoning hate of poetry stems from the fact that he is afraid of his physicist friends ridiculing him, it would behoove Jamie to replace his old physicist friends with newer physicist friends who accept him for who he is immediately.

    Now here comes the ungrounded psychoanalysis. You know, I’ve had my share of rough online exchanges with religious fundamentalists, and I can honestly say that the tricks and misrepresentations some of you here are using are no less rotten and dishonest than what I got from them.

  185. #185 Anon
    January 13, 2008

    Um… you brought out the pop psych first. And the unsubstantiated claims.

    I am certain that the moment you bring any actual evidence, that is what will be responded to.

  186. #186 Larry Ayers
    January 13, 2008

    I don’t usually comment on these long Pharyngula threads; with most of them I become weary after reading half or less of the comments, and it’s usually because of some verbose idiot like Jamie.

    Why do you put up with this guy, other commenters? He’s dogmatic, resistant to reason, and damned annoying. Such commenters are best ignored, IMHO–responding to such trolls makes them feel like they are actually participating in a real conversation, with the give-and-take inherent in such exchanges.

    I really doubt the guy actually has many physicist friends, and he very likely isn’t employed by an academic institution.

    BTW I think Cuttlefish’s poems have brightened many a ScienceBlog comment section!

  187. #187 Stanton
    January 13, 2008

    You came to this blog by yourself, and you were the one who was trying to imply that your opinions that poetry is just a big, useless, sham that no self-respecting scientist should engage in, and that torturing a person is ok if it’s to save lives, were correct.

    That you go about insulting people and engaging in projection because we do not agree with your opinions is not our fault.

  188. #188 Annoyed
    January 13, 2008

    Jamie,

    There’s a long history of scientists and poetry. Scan down this page here. (I mean, actually read it.)

    James Clerk Maxwell’s poems are amusing.

    Geoff Landis has some good thoughts about poetry here.

    Many scientists, generally speaking, tend to be well-rounded people and enjoy many things. And as far as school, we are taught subjects that we might not have exposure to elsewhere. Poetry is part of history, it is simply pleasurable, it is moving and it is also skill and craft. (And yes, much is boring and bad, but then so are many science books.) Kids have no problem finding video games on their own, but they might never discover Shakespeare, Keats, Hughes, et al. without being exposed to them. It’s also more interesting when one better understands it, and class-generated discussion helps. You don’t have to like it, but your vacuous comments make me wonder how old you are.

    Cuttlefish is very clever and always topical. Try writing something similar yourself.

  189. #189 Ichthyic
    January 13, 2008

    . You know, I’ve had my share of rough online exchanges with religious fundamentalists,

    damn, even THEY thought you were a moronic ass?

    sucks to be you.

  190. #190 Ichthyic
    January 13, 2008

    It takes real dedication to put your foot in your mouth as persistently as you do. I’m sure you can find better things to do than continuing to defend an utterly idiotic statement.

    based on his near-endless performance in the thread on torture, I’d say the answer to that is clearly no.

    Jamie needs to get out of the house more, I think. I’d suggest divesting some cash at his local pub.

  191. #191 Rey Fox
    January 14, 2008

    I’d suggest laxatives for the wooden implement lodged in his rectum, personally. I would wager that he regularly coughs up splinters, and this may be a contributing factor to of his ill will towards lyrical verse.

  192. #192 Anne
    January 14, 2008

    At first, the claim that scientists “notoriously” don’t like poetry seemed as silly as claiming that they don’t like chocolate – poetry is mainly about emotions, and as far as I know scientists have those just like the rest of us (and if you think I’m deluding myself about enjoying poetry you should hook me up to a “lie-detector” or similar device and have me read Upon Westminster Bridge – I guarantee you’d get a pretty strong autonomic response). But then I realized I’d come across a similar attitude, not just towards poetry, but fiction in general, several times before. It’s not uncommon among people with Asperger’s to feel this way (although the only person I know who really, REALLY loves Dostoyevsky and insists that all other writers are worthless and their books a waste of paper, also has AS, so it’s far from universal). I’m not saying Jamie has AS, but he certainly seems rather literal-minded. That makes it difficult to “get” poetry. It really is a lot like color-blindness, and I feel sorry for him. A good poet can use language to influence my emotions in such a subtle way that I respond emotionally to what he/she is saying even before I understand it consciously. Robert Frost’s Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening is a good example. I remember the first time I read it: my emotional response seemed out of proportion until I realized that the word “sleep” could have a different meaning. To Jamie, I suppose it’s just cute rhymes and quaint phrases. How sad.

  193. #193 Jamie
    January 14, 2008

    OK, enough of this stupid bullshit. You’re trying to deny the obvious fact that there is considerable estrangement between science and the humanities. Stephen Jay Gould even saw fit to devote a book to the subject (The Hedgehog, the Fox, and the Magister’s Pox). You’re all aware of the existence of this estrangement, so don’t fool yourselves.

    I made several obviously reasonable points about the drastically conflicting views of the purpose of poetry. Many people act as if they really believe poetry is for conveyance of philosophical profundity; this is, I would imagine, why it’s still taught in schools. If instead it’s just used for hedonistic ends, as some people here say, then it’s difficult to see why they would put it on the curriculum, as (a) most kids don’t enjoy it, and (b) since when did pure hedionism have a place in school?

    It’s quite possible that the majority of people in the humanities use poetry chiefly to further their pseudo-philosophical charlatanist agenda. There is no agreement on the question of whether poetry is either for philosophy or entertainment. To me, the situation with respect to poetry is equivalent to the following:

    Some people say Activity X is used for the impartment of wisdom, and to best express one’s intellectual opinions. Others say that it’s purely a form of entertainment. The former mentality seems to be adopted by teachers in schools, where most children aren’t entertained by X at all. And yet when pressed, no-one can explain how Activity X does serve as a source of enlightenment. Furthermore, there is known to be a tradition of obscurantism surrounding Activity X and fields associated with it.

    My complaints don’t sound so unreasonable when put in that vein, do they?

  194. #194 Mrs Tilton
    January 14, 2008

    Jamie @187,

    My complaints don’t sound so unreasonable when put in that vein, do they?

    Erm… yes; they do.

    BTW, you are using “hedonism”, at least as applied to poetry, in a strange way. There’s a plausible argument to be made that the primary goal of any aesthetic endeavour is to confer pleasure on the reader/viewer/listener. Somebody taking that position would very legitimately claim that poetry is hedonistic. But as used in that context, “hedonistic” would not be pejorative at all — rather the opposite, in fact! (And it certainly wouldn’t have the implication your use of it seems to have, that of cheap, decadent pleasure.)

    If you cannot understand why poetry should be taught in schools, BTW, you should consider that even people who think pleasure the primary purpose of reading and learning about literature would not claim this is the sole reason.

  195. #195 thalarctos
    January 14, 2008

    People here are amusingly naive. I would get ridiculed by my physicist pals if I were to say to them that I read poetry.

    To paraphrase another great physicist and science educator, one I’m sure your physicist pals have heard of, and who enjoyed the humanities to the hilt himself**, what do we care what your physicist pals think?

    You’re trying to deny the obvious fact that there is considerable estrangement between science and the humanities.

    Nice attempt at moving the goalposts, but we see right through it. Now you are attempting to paint your assertions as descriptive, but up until now, you have been arguing prescriptively, in favor of promoting that estrangement.

    There is no agreement on the question of whether poetry is either for philosophy or entertainment.

    That’s only a problem if you’re married to a binary world-view.

    My complaints don’t sound so unreasonable when put in that vein, do they?

    You know, if you had compensated for your inability to appreciate aesthetics by developing some kind of super-laser-honed logical ability, that would at least be some kind of consolation prize for you. But failure to understand the burden of proof, continual unsupported positive assertions, confusing skewed anecdotes with data, goalpost-shifting, appeals to authority, and all-around whininess–that just isn’t particularly impressive.

    ** Richard Feynman, if you missed the reference.

  196. #196 thalarctos
    January 14, 2008

    Now I’ll definitely have to read it ;) What translation/s did you use?

    Actually, I’m going to have to rely on others who know more than I do about it for recommendations–I have heard a few different versions over the years, but since I only have a few words of Finnish (“hi”, “thanks”, “1-10″, and “bye”, and I’m, unfortunately, pretty much done with my vocabulary), I’d really welcome any recommendations from native speakers and/or scholars who thought a particular translation was especially faithful, well-executed, or both.

    (Off-topic: Saturday night I went to a concert of Finnish Orthodox choral music, and–following along in the program notes–it seemed to me they were taking a *lot* of liberties with vowel length. Either sung Finnish tolerates way more variation on that score than spoken Finnish does [as I've found out the hard way! :)], or else, the non-native speaker/singers didn’t quite do all their homework.)

    While researching it, I’ve been using John Martin Crawford’s translation as a text placeholder, since it’s the first google hit for “otso kalevala”, but I’m *really* dubious about using it for the final version, for reasons I’ll explain below.

    It’s at http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/kveng/kvrune46.htm — I’d link, but ScienceBlogs would probably gag on it (it’s already playing havoc with line breaks as it is).

    I *think* this is correct; please correct me if I am mistaken on any account: Otso is the bear-spirit, Otava is the Great Bear constellation, Tapio is a god of the hunt and forest, and Mielikki is a goddess of the hunt and forest.

    “Otso was not born a beggar,

    Was not born among the rushes,

    Was not cradled in a manger;

    Honey-paw was born in ether,

    In the regions of the Moon-land,

    On the shoulders of Otava,

    With the daughters of creation.

    “Through the ether walked a maiden,
    On the red rims of the cloudlets,
    On the border of the heavens,
    In her stockings purple-tinted,
    In her golden-colored sandals.
    In her hand she held a wool-box,
    With a hair-box on her shoulder;
    Threw the wool upon the ocean,
    And the hair upon the rivers;
    These are rocked by winds and waters,
    Water-currents bear them onward,
    Bear them to the sandy sea-shore,
    Land them near the Woods of honey,
    On an island forest-covered.

    “Fair Mielikki, woodland hostess,
    Tapio’s most cunning daughter,
    Took the fragments from the sea-side,
    Took the white wool from the waters,
    Sewed the hair and wool together,
    Laid the bundle in her basket,
    Basket made from bark of birch-wood,
    Bound with cords the magic bundle;
    With the chains of gold she bound it
    To the pine-tree’s topmost branches.
    There she rocked the thing of magic,
    Rocked to life the tender baby,
    Mid the blossoms of the pine-tree,
    On the fir-top set with needles;
    Thus the young bear well was nurtured,
    Thus was sacred Otso cradled
    On the honey-tree of Northland,
    In the middle of the forest.”

    I think, frankly, it shows its age (120+ years)–and yet, flawed as it may be, I like it (despite its giving me an earworm for the Longfellow poem “The Song of Hiawatha”, which I had to memorize as a child. “Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis”–I’ll never get those neurons back! But since Longfellow deliberately borrowed meter from the Kalevala, it’s appropriate, if a bit annoying).

    Among other smaller concerns, I have a very big one: I have to wonder how much meaning was sacrificed to preserve strict meter in this translation. Finnish and English being so different from another, I find it hard to believe that the same denotations and connotations would fit into the same number of syllables.

    I can see doing it free-form or as a prose poem to get all the meaning in, by sacrificing meter–but this meter is too perfect, so I have to suspect Crawford sacrificed richness of meaning in a Procrustean-bed kind of way. And I am not the person to evaluate that myself.

    But google has spoken, so for the moment, it’s my placeholder. One of my research tasks is to solicit recommendations for what are considered the better or “best” translations, and I welcome those recommendations, both from native speakers who aren’t necessarily specialists, and from scholars who specialize.

    (It’s almost a shame that we don’t get home-grown creationists arguing for the validity of the Kalevala origin story, instead of the banal imports…)

    Heh–that would at least be a step up, wouldn’t it? :)

  197. #197 Jamie
    January 14, 2008

    Mrs Tilton, #188:

    If you cannot understand why poetry should be taught in schools, BTW, you should consider that even people who think pleasure the primary purpose of reading and learning about literature would not claim this is the sole reason.

    Well if you think you can come up with a good reason why poetry is the best way to teach language skills, I’d love to hear it. Personally, I find it too hard to believe that there aren’t better options to be had. There’s no shortage of books out there that promote good language skills and would be more enjoyed than poetry by most kids. Why are they still doing Shakespeare in schools? Surely something more modern is bound to stand a better chance of identifying with and appealing to the majority of youngsters.

    I think poetry — and Shakespeare, and most of this fancy, supposedly cultured English literature — is taught in schools largely because of the confusion between hedonism (not in a pejorative sense) and philosophy. Many English teachers really are under the impression that what they discuss in class is somehow philosophically enlightening.

  198. #198 Jamie
    January 14, 2008

    But failure to understand the burden of proof, continual unsupported positive assertions, confusing skewed anecdotes with data, goalpost-shifting, appeals to authority, and all-around whininess–that just isn’t particularly impressive.

    I don’t think I’m guilty of any of that. When stating an opinion, it’s perfectly acceptable to tell people the kind of personal experience which has led you to that opinion. Feel free to disagree if you want; I’m not on a mission to convert anyone to my cause, and I’m not trying to present a comprehensive scientific study. (Why did I post here? I originally made an off-hand remark expressing my opinion, and, as ever, I’m having to defend myself against false characterizations, lies, insults, and relentless distortions.)

    I disagree that Feynman “enjoyed the humanities to the hilt “. While he enjoyed the occasional painting (and even had a go at creating his own), I think he was extremely skeptical of the humanities. But like most scientists, he refrained from being explicit about his skepticism just out of politeness. Not that this matters.

  199. #199 Steve_C
    January 14, 2008

    Someone failed English Lit.

  200. #200 Rey Fox
    January 14, 2008

    “(Why did I post here? I originally made an off-hand remark expressing my opinion,”

    …and insulting one of everyone’s favorite commenters…

    ” and, as ever, I’m having to defend myself against false characterizations, lies, insults, and relentless distortions.)”

    Cry me a river, buttstick.

  201. #201 Mrs Tilton
    January 14, 2008

    Steve C. @193,

    Someone failed English Lit.

    Whether or not someone failed English Lit., someone certainly didn’t enjoy English Lit. And that’s a lot worse than merely failing.

    This might well be through no fault of Jamie’s own. In addition to the possible “poetry-blindness” I and some others here have wondered about, it’s also possible he had terrible teachers. Happens all too often, and in the worst cases can ruin a schoolchild’s enjoyment of the subject for the rest of his or her life.

    BTW, Jamie, poetry isn’t taught simply to improve language skills (though that is of course one goal a teacher might be trying to achieve). There are quite a few reasons to learn literature, but the most important isn’t really very academic at all: homines sumus, et nihil humanum a nos alienum putamus. Well, that’s what most of us think, anyway; your mileage obviously varies.

  202. #202 thalarctos
    January 14, 2008

    When stating an opinion, it’s perfectly acceptable to tell people the kind of personal experience which has led you to that opinion.

    If you want to state an opinion, that’s different from making an assertion of fact, and claiming that it holds, as you do here:

    That’s all I need for my argument to hold, really.

    Clearly, you are trying to hold your own in a debate there, and defend a position, rather than simply stating an opinion.

    Perhaps I am simply expecting too much of you. It is possible that you really do not and cannot see how you are constantly moving the goalposts (descriptive/prescriptive, opinion/fact, humanities/excluding drawing), so expecting you to take responsibility for it is a fool’s errand on my part.

    I disagree that Feynman “enjoyed the humanities to the hilt “. While he enjoyed the occasional painting (and even had a go at creating his own), I think he was extremely skeptical of the humanities.

    Either you 1) have not read what Feynman wrote about himself, and you are just desperately making shit up, or 2) you have read it, and cannot comprehend what he wrote about writing, drawing, and playing drums, any more than a fish can comprehend “not-water”.

    I’m provisionally taking 3), deliberately lying about what Feynman wrote and you read, off the table, because I really think you believe and are emotionally quite invested in your “opinion” more than you consciously understand. Of course, as always, I could be wrong about that, and you could just be deliberate lying–but I really don’t think you are.

    But like most scientists, he refrained from being explicit about his skepticism just out of politeness.

    Yes, because the job of a scientist is to promote politeness and harmony at all costs, even when she sees an error being promoted as fact. /sarcasm

    Did you even *read* what he did at the Challenger inquiry, to name just one example of many? “Refraining from being explicit about his skepticism” and Feynman in the same sentence? Do you even have any inkling of how far you are reaching here?

    I would ask you for a source about how you “know” how “most scientists” think and behave, but then we’d just go down the rabbit-hole all over again, and we’ve all seen that particular movie.

  203. #203 Jamie
    January 14, 2008

    I didn’t fail English Lit.; I did quite well, actually. But I found myself having to adopt the obscurantist and intellectually dishonest approach that I knew they wanted. I couldn’t help becoming fully cognizant of the screachingly obvious contrast between the sciences and the humanities. One values logical rigour, hard-work, and usefulness; the other is about making up whatever interpretations you feel like for ends no-one can fathom.

    I’ll leave you with a quote from the great physicist Paul Dirac:

    “In science one tries to tell people, in such a way as to be understood by everyone, something that no one ever knew before. But in poetry, it’s the exact opposite”.

  204. #204 thalarctos
    January 14, 2008

    This might well be through no fault of Jamie’s own. In addition to the possible “poetry-blindness” I and some others here have wondered about, it’s also possible he had terrible teachers. Happens all too often, and in the worst cases can ruin a schoolchild’s enjoyment of the subject for the rest of his or her life.

    I think you’re on to something there, Mrs. Tilton. Despite all the research about optimal student-teacher ratios, and how children develop cognitively, we–at least here in the US–insist on starving public education (30:1 ratios in some schools, pay that many professionals would never settle for, and lack of adequate materials and facilities). While investing money into public education does not guarantee results; *not* investing money guarantees anti-results. It may not be sufficient, but it certainly is necessary.

    Under the circumstances, I have no doubt that we are systematically turning kids off to the joys of learning. And then we get a public that doesn’t understand complicated issues, the creationist clown-car show, and other farces. Lather, rinse, repeat.

  205. #205 Stanton
    January 14, 2008

    So, then, what sort of authoritative power on poetry does Dr Dirac have that trumps the authority that, say, a professor on literature would have on poetry?

  206. #206 Jamie
    January 14, 2008

    Either you 1) have not read what Feynman wrote about himself, and you are just desperately making shit up, or 2) you have read it, and cannot comprehend what he wrote about writing, drawing, and playing drums, any more than a fish can comprehend “not-water”.

    Actually, I’ve read a great deal about Richard Feynman and his life. See his popular autobiographies for his continual skepticism toward philosophers and his hard-headed remarks about the soft subjects (including academic biology to some extent, by the way, which he felt entailed a lot of rote-memorization). Notice that the artists he mentions all seem to have stupid views, by which he seems baffled. (For example, one of them believed that scientific explanations destroy the beauty of things.) I don’t think it’s right to claim Feynman as supporter of the humanities, and I’m not “desperately making shit up” one bit. He sometimes painted and played the drums. So what? I sometimes listen to classical music, read fiction, and have a passing interest in (non-obfuscationist) philosophy — yet I’d hardly say I’m passionate about the humanities.

    None of this is relevant; I’m just rebutting unwarranted accusations of ignorance. If you like, I could easily drop my claim that science is estranged from the humanities. I don’t need it, as I’ve made several other good arguments.

  207. #207 thalarctos
    January 14, 2008

    I don’t need it, as I’ve made several other good arguments.

    It’s good to see that you haven’t lost your sense of humor, at least.

  208. #208 Stanton
    January 14, 2008

    If you like, I could easily drop my claim that science is estranged from the humanities. I don’t need it, as I’ve made several other good arguments.

    Such as the argument that there are anonymous historians of a subject you never stated that don’t understand or appreciate poetry?

    Or the argument where you resorted to semantics lawyering to cover up the facts that you’ve been supporting your arguments with your opinions and cryptic anecdotes, and that you have been extremely reluctant to bring actual evidence to support your argument?

  209. #209 Jamie
    January 14, 2008

    Simply incredible. What an incorrigible liar.

    Such as the argument that there are anonymous historians of a subject you never stated that don’t understand or appreciate poetry?

    I didn’t say anything resembling that, as you probably know very well. I was pointing out that I think if one takes a large number of arbitrary scientists and historians with equal academic experience of poetry, I’d bet that more historians are interested in poetry. Contrary to what PZ said, I don’t think they’re so interested in poetry in the humanities just because they’re academically required to do poetry. But this doesn’t matter, since I’ve now dropped the “estrangement” claim.

    Or the argument where you resorted to semantics lawyering to cover up the facts that you’ve been supporting your arguments with your opinions and cryptic anecdotes, and that you have been extremely reluctant to bring actual evidence to support your argument?

    “Semantics lawyering”? What you mean that in one post I pooh-poohed your nonsensical demand for “proof”. Shortly afterward, I went on to explain why I think I’ve given adequate arguments covering all the positions I need to argue.

  210. #210 Jamie
    January 14, 2008

    Correction: “What you mean is that in one post…”

  211. #211 Barb
    January 14, 2008

    Here is the Great One on poetry and science:

    I have said that in one respect my mind has changed during the last twenty or thirty years. Up to the age of thirty, or beyond it, poetry of many kinds, such as the works of Milton, Gray, Byron, Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Shelley, gave me great pleasure, and even as a schoolboy I took intense delight in Shakespeare, especially in the historical plays. I have also said that formerly pictures gave me considerable, and music very great delight. But now for many years I cannot endure to read a line of poetry: I have tried lately to read Shakespeare, and found it so intolerably dull that it nauseated me. I have also almost lost my taste for pictures or music. Music generally sets me thinking too energetically on what I have been at work on, instead of giving me pleasure. I retain some taste for fine scenery, but it does not cause me the exquisite delight which it formerly did. On the other hand, novels which are works of the imagination, though not of a very high order, have been for years a wonderful relief and pleasure to me, and I often bless all novelists. A surprising number have been read aloud to me, and I like all if moderately good, and if they do not end unhappily–against which a law ought to be passed. A novel, according to my taste, does not come into the first class unless it contains some person whom one can thoroughly love, and if a pretty woman all the better.

    This curious and lamentable loss of the higher æsthetic tastes is all the odder, as books on history, biographies, and travels (independently of any scientific facts which they may contain), and essays on all sorts of subjects interest me as much as ever they did. My mind seems to have become a kind of machine for grinding general laws out of large collections of facts, but why this should have caused the atrophy of that part of the brain alone, on which the higher tastes depend, I cannot conceive. A man with a mind more highly organised or better constituted than mine, would not, I suppose, have thus suffered; and if I had to live my life again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at
    least once every week; for perhaps the parts of my brain now atrophied would thus have been kept active through use. The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature.

    (Charles Darwin’s Autobiography, pp. 100-104)

  212. #212 David Marjanovi?, OM
    January 14, 2008

    Incidentally, the Kalevala wasn’t in Finnish in the strict sense. It was in Karelian. Don’t ask me what Elias Lönnrot did to the vocabulary in order to preserve the meter when he wrote it down…

  213. #213 David Marjanovi?, OM
    January 14, 2008

    Incidentally, the Kalevala wasn’t in Finnish in the strict sense. It was in Karelian. Don’t ask me what Elias Lönnrot did to the vocabulary in order to preserve the meter when he wrote it down…

  214. #214 Jamie
    January 14, 2008

    That Charles Darwin extract is excellent. So amusing that this towering genius would refer to “[a] man with a mind more highly organised or better constituted” than his own. He was, of course, humble to a fault.

    Why did he lose interest in poetry? Maybe what I suggested has some truth to it. Maybe enjoyment of poetry depends on self-deception, which Darwin outgrew as he became more and more absorbed in science.

  215. #215 Stanton
    January 14, 2008

    And yet, Jamie does not seem to notice the part where Mr Darwin expressed great regret over the loss of his ability to appreciate poetry.

  216. #216 thalarctos
    January 14, 2008

    Incidentally, the Kalevala wasn’t in Finnish in the strict sense. It was in Karelian. Don’t ask me what Elias Lönnrot did to the vocabulary in order to preserve the meter when he wrote it down…

    yeah…this process of learning about it in detail has been stripping my illusions away, one by one. In my previous nescience, I had always just assumed the “Finnish epic poem” was roughly contemporaneous with the Old Norse counterparts. Not so; it was only written in its present form in the 19th century as an avocation by a moonlighting public health worker.

    It would not surprise me to learn that EL had taken huge liberties with the underlying folkloric material to fit it into a structure; I hope not, but it may well be for all I know. It doesn’t change my point about the difference between the domains of science and non-science, but I have always had an amateur’s fondness for the Kalevala, and I hope it isn’t too unfaithfully rendered from the original source material.

  217. #217 windy
    January 14, 2008

    I *think* this is correct; please correct me if I am mistaken on any account: Otso is the bear-spirit, Otava is the Great Bear constellation, Tapio is a god of the hunt and forest, and Mielikki is a goddess of the hunt and forest.

    Yep – but Otso is not really a proper name as the others, it´s the euphemistic name for any bear.

    Among other smaller concerns, I have a very big one: I have to wonder how much meaning was sacrificed to preserve strict meter in this translation. Finnish and English being so different from another, I find it hard to believe that the same denotations and connotations would fit into the same number of syllables.

    It doesn’t look that bad actually (although the meter makes it seem more stuffy in English). The poetic repeats in the original make it hard to argue that a connotation has to be “exactly right” anyway (for example, the bear is said to be cradled in both a fir and a pine). But many of the specific adjectives or pairings of concepts have been lost, naturally.

    One thing to consider is that the collector of the folk-tales, Lönnrot, interpreted them “creatively” to make a more coherent narrative, and some of the tales existed in multiple variants that had to be pieced together. I am not an expert, but I’d say that this is not a problem for interpreting the current text as a more-or-less ancient origin story, but it’s good to consider it before putting too much weight on any specific detail. For example, the birth of Väinämöinen from the maiden of the air is not a feature of the original folk-tales, although the origin of the world from a broken egg is truly ancient. (In some of the authentic tales it’s the old shaman who floats in the world-sea and breaks the eggs, and obviously a maiden was considered more romantic in the 19th century!)

    It’s interesting that ancient Finns believed that knowing the origin of something was the key to controlling it (like with this story of the origins of the bear), which is similar to what modern scientists say about why we need to know the origins of malaria, for example! ;)

  218. #218 windy
    January 14, 2008

    Re #206 and #209: Whoops, I didn’t refresh the page, now I see that you already commented on Lönnrot. The original poems were collected in a variety of dialects, some Karelian or Ingrian varieties of Finnish, some in dialects that are currently classified in the Karelian language. But the vocabulary issues between Finnish and the Viena dialects are not necessarily greater than between Western and Eastern Finland :) The southeastern variants of the Karelian language are less intelligible to Finns, but I’m not aware of any poems collected there.

  219. #219 Les
    January 23, 2008

    Re: “It’s a cargo cult!”

    Even Cargo Cultists had actually SEEN the miracles they were trying to re-create… They knew that silver birds came from the sky and disgorged goodies if they could just get the technology right. From their perspective it was very logical. You only had to say the right words into a radio and wave that big silver bird down on it’s special runway and all the coke and tins of spam you’d ever need would be yours!

    Creationists are far below this. Likening Cargo Cultists to creationists is an insult to Cargo Cults.

  220. #220 delta4ce1
    April 29, 2009

    It’s sad and amusing at the same time that evolution is still just a theory without a shred of actual evidence to back it up. Yet, it is always presented to the public as a fact. How could anything be more dishonest and fraudulent? Nothing.

  221. #221 Rorschach
    April 29, 2009

    delta4ce1 drive-by troll @ 213 cowardly lying for jebus :

    It’s sad and amusing at the same time that evolution is still just a theory without a shred of actual evidence to back it up

    You dont say ! Are you sure you know what a theory is? Or evidence,what those words mean?
    Poor xtian zombie retard.

  222. #222 Josh
    April 29, 2009

    …that evolution is still just a theory…

    I wonder just what this troll expects it to become

    SCIENCE FAIL.

  223. #223 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 29, 2009

    It’s sad and amusing at the same time that evolution is still just a theory without a shred of actual evidence to back it up.

    Our poor ignorant drive-by troll hasn’t checked the peer reviewed primary scientific literature prior to lying his ass off. There are probably a million or so papers directly and indirectly supporting evolution in all the fields of geology, biology, paleontology, biochemistry, molecular biology, etc. Absolutely nothing supporting creationism or ID, which are religious ideas, not scientific theories.

  224. #224 Kel
    April 29, 2009

    evolution is still just a theory

    Yes, those pesky theories: like gravity… is it really too much to ask that anyone who criticises evolution at least grasp the basics of the scientific method?

  225. #225 Lilly de Lure
    April 29, 2009

    Kel said:

    Yes, those pesky theories: like gravity… is it really too much to ask that anyone who criticises evolution at least grasp the basics of the scientific method?

    Judging by the trolls regularly spotted on Pharyngula our survey says yes, I’m afraid.

    Depressing isn’t it . . . .

  226. #226 Kel
    April 29, 2009

    Incredibly depressing. It’s amazing the arrogance of ignorance that is displayed – these people have no idea whatsoever. Why not ask about the evidence for evolution, why not ask about the difference between theory and fact in science? Can’t have that. That would show a capacity for humility and a desire to learn. Instead just another pathetic godbot who doesn’t know the first thing about anything.

  227. #227 Josh
    April 29, 2009

    …is it really too much to ask that anyone who criticises evolution at least grasp the basics of the scientific method?

    I’s say the answer to this is a pretty emphatic yes. As we repeatedly see, here and elsewhere, knowledge makes the baby Jesus cry. Lying, however, doesn’t appear to bother the Big J at all.

  228. #228 Josh
    April 29, 2009

    In other news, I actually sucked up the shit it would spew on my hard drive and followed the link to that AIG journal. There’s a paper in there that tries to argue that chalk deposits are congruent with the Noachian Flud. I haven’t finished it yet because I can’t read more than about a paragraph without having to stop and breathe for a minute because I’m laughing so hard.

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