Pharyngula

Clueless

Matt Nisbet is currently running a photo of Dawkins and myself with this legend: Dawkins and Myers: It’s Time to Let Others Be the Spokespeople for Science. Never mind the personal criticism, doesn’t he even realize how wrong that statement is? No, it’s worse than that; it’s so bad it’s not even wrong.

Who are the “spokespeople for science”? Is this a formal title conferred on specific individuals, is there a protocol for defining who gets the job, and most importantly, is there a salary? Nisbet doesn’t seem to realize that there are no spokespeople for science — there are just people involved in science who speak out; I don’t know of anyone who even declares themselves to be self-appointed spokespeople for science, especially not me, and not even more prominent representatives like Dawkins. Anyone who mistakes me for one of these mythical spokespeople for science, instead of a guy working within science who happens to have a blog, is too stupid to be taken seriously.

There’s also this bizarre implication that it’s a position someone lets someone else have, as if Nisbet just has to follow some esoteric parliamentary rules of order and presto, someone can be defrocked of their spokesperson’s robes and they can be conferred on someone else. Preferably Nisbet himself, apparently. There is no such process and no such power. All anyone can do is write and talk, and if people listen to them, fine, if they don’t, no problem. There is no autocracy or hierarchy that defines who can do what in this business. All I’m doing is writing, so all he can do is carp at me to shut up…ineffectively, alas.

That statement alone is sufficient to demonstrate that Nisbet is utterly clueless about science, and discredit his opinions completely. And this is the fellow who organizes AAAS symposia to tell us what to do? Weird.

Besides, everyone knows that I’m not the spokesperson for science. I’m the Elvis Presley of atheism. Let’s get the royal titles straight.

Comments

  1. #1 dusty59
    March 24, 2008

    I’m hoping we can forgo the the videos of you gyrating your hips Elvis-style!

  2. #2 Michael X
    March 24, 2008

    It’s telling that in all the time Nisbet has spent going on about how science should be explained to the masses, he hasn’t actually tried to explain any.

  3. #3 Greg Laden
    March 24, 2008

    OMG, this is absurd. I’ve been cruising for commentary on this, and the blogosphere is overwhelming aghast at Chris and Matt’s absurd comments. Aghast, I say!

    Uffda.

  4. #4 Lorz
    March 24, 2008

    Does this mean no one is guarding the Dungeon? ;)
    Remember me?
    Memories….
    If you have any, signs of Janice and that old gang?
    Love the blog!

  5. #5 Glen Davidson
    March 24, 2008

    Actually, I think that there are official spokespeople for science, at the NCSE. Eugenie Scott and company.

    And these spokespeople often do show up in the media, because of this. More than PZ, I’ll warrant.

    Scott is, of course, “good cop” to Dawkins and PZ’s “bad cop,” and she was trying to get into screening herself (didn’t make it, though). While she might not have gone on to ask questions like Dawkins did, I certainly see no problem with Dawkins asking why PZ didn’t get in.

    Of course, above all this whole incident happens to be very good for our side, with Mathis’s hatred for PZ’s telling the truth about Expelled leading him to some very embarrassing actions. So while we revel in the exposure of this blatant hypocrisy (as I pointed out in another thread, even Christianity Today notes the hypocrisy of it), Nisbet’s whining that it’s backfiring.

    You’d think they’d catch on to the win that occurred in this whole episode. But no, like the IDiots, Mooney and Nisbet remain in denial, certain that their faith in “diplomacy” trumps all of that inconvenient evidence.

    GlenD
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  6. #6 Brownian, OM
    March 24, 2008

    Hmm, Matt may have a point. At the next Board of Directors meeting for United Science Corp. Ltd. I’m going to suggest we adopt a new corporate strategy with regards to selling the brand. I’ll be accepting submissions from marketing firms, and I want them to focus on the ‘nice’ themes for science. Maybe downplay the whole chemistry and physics thing, and focus on the contributions of science to the plush toy industry.

    PZ, we’re going to have to let you go. You’ve done excellent work, but the public is really clamouring for a new face of science–one that isn’t so dedicated to science. Fear not: if you can learn to shut your calamari hole, I might be able to get you work wearing the mascot costume at supermarkets when we roll out our new science-themed breakfast cereal for the kids.

  7. #7 MAJeff, OM
    March 24, 2008

    If you’re the Elvis, I get to be the Elton John! (I even got 5 new pair of glasses today, so I can queen out!)

    Shit, I work in the field of framing and political conflict–particularly with regard to sexual politics (MA on Sex Education; PhD is on Marriage Equality). Movements need spokespeople, and there’s always conflict over who they will be. Part of what Matt refuses to acknowledge is that PZ and Dawkins are both scientists and participants in a “new atheist” social movement. Their framing accomplishes exactly what they want it to do–advance science and atheism.

    It’s sort of like my own avoidance of religious issues in my queer work–I’d rather see queers dump the churches that have been so abusive to them throughout history, and which trade in nonsense to begin with. I’m not the person you send to a church to talk about its homophobia because I’ll tear into the church itself. Just like you wouldn’t send PZ to a church group if you’re trying to get religious people to accept evolution while maintaining their religious beliefs.

    Guess what: there are multiple movements, publics, and audiences involved. Social reality and politics are messy as hell. It’s not this unitary issue he seems to want to make it.

    PZ’s writings here on evolutionary issues have probably done more for science education than anything Nisbet has ever written. His posts on the eye and squiddy sex have made biology interesting and fun. And Dawkins’s books surely been important in public science education.

    Communication is important. You’d think someone who studies it would have a bigger clue about it.

  8. #8 MAJeff, OM
    March 24, 2008

    Uffda.

    *sigh* missing home.

  9. #9 craig
    March 24, 2008

    These guys seem to want to be a part of a group or movement where everyone defers to some appointed authorities to speak for them, and where nobody veers from the approved talking points or goes off message or anything.

    They should maybe join a church or the republican party or something.

  10. #10 blf
    March 24, 2008

    I loved this parenthetical comment Mister DNA made in his Elvis post:

    (and to a person who thinks people used to live among dinosaurs, making choices based on reason must be a totally foreign concept)

    And that gold suit. Wow! But it’s not really not you, Pee Zed. No tentacles, for one thing…

    Oh this disagreement with Nisbet, Mooney, et al., how long before the IDiots start usingabusing it? As in quote-mining and all that. (For the record, I think it’s a good thing the issues are being discussed, and discussed in the open.)

  11. #11 ross
    March 24, 2008

    Wouldnt Richard count as a spokesperson for science since he still occupies the Simonyi professorship for the public understanding of science?

  12. #12 Norman Doering
    March 24, 2008

    PZ wrote:

    Who are the “spokespeople for science”? Is this a formal title conferred on specific individuals, is there a protocol for defining who gets the job, and most importantly, is there a salary? Nisbet doesn’t seem to realize that there are no spokespeople for science — there are just people involved in science who speak out

    Yea, Nisbet sure framed that in a way that the Expelled screen writer loves.

    The problem with Nisbet, Mooney and Kirshenbaum is that they really haven’t delved as deeply as they think into the ID arguments and tactics. We need to encourage them to take a closer look.

    Those ID guys will exploit all their human tendencies to be nice. You’ve got to call them what they are: liars. And you’ve got to know how they lie and use spin.

  13. #13 PZ Myers
    March 24, 2008

    Nisbet’s article made the front page of Uncommon Descent, and not because they were criticizing him. Enough said.

  14. #14 Armchair Dissident
    March 24, 2008

    What the hell? I don’t want my science from journalists and spin-doctors (sorry, “framers”). I want my science from scientists! What is Nisbett smoking? And, for that matter, why the hell does he have a home on Scienceblogs?

    Until I read Dawkins, I had not the slightest interest in biology and evolution. Now, I do. I still don’t find it as interesting as physics and cosmology (sorry, PZ), but I do at least find it interesting. Dawkins is currently known as an outspoken atheist, but has Nisbett forgotten that he’s also damned good at increasing the public understanding of science?

    Of all the books on my shelf about science (and there are many), those I refer to most are written by scientists. Not one of my favorite science books are written by journalists or science-writers. I want the scientific view presented by scientists, and those that write books are bloody good at doing it – including Dawkins.

    I’ve been an ardent atheist for some 13 years, I was a christian for much longer than that. It wasn’t the appeasers of Christianity that made me drop my religion, and it wasn’t those claiming that religion was wrong that made me cling to religion. It was an increasing understanding of science, and an increasing understanding that the religious people – and those placating them – were wrong.

    Nisbett would have me still be a christian. And I strongly resent that.

  15. #15 michaelf
    March 24, 2008

    As if science needed some PR firm to front for it. Spokespeople are essentially professional liars.

  16. #16 Dan
    March 24, 2008

    Is this jealousy that’s driving Nisbet? Does he want you to simply step aside so he can take the reins of Pharyngula and assume the nebulous title of Spokesperson for Science?

    What a putz, man. That’s like saying, “Matt Nisbet should step aside and let someone else be the voice of stupidity in science.”

  17. #17 Jim RL
    March 24, 2008

    Nisbet is like the Joe Lieberman of the Science vs. Creationism debate. You feel that at some point they both had honest reasons for criticizing their own, but eventually it became a reflexive response.

    I really don’t see what Nisbet or Mooney think PZ and Dawkins should have done differently. Should they not have gone to the movie? Should they not have blogged about it after the fact? What’s with the knee jerk contrarian BS? If ever there was a time to rally together and prove we are on the same side, this is it. Orac’s post on how this is a perfect framing opportunity is great. Sadly, Nisbet and Mooney are more interested in attacking PZ and Dawkins than they are in moving the pro-science dialogue.

  18. #18 Jim Kakalios
    March 24, 2008

    I call dibs on “The Dr. Doom of Science!”

    Richarddddddds!

  19. #19 Spaulding
    March 24, 2008

    Actually, “Spokesperson for Science” is more or less Dawkins’ job title for a little longer.
    He’s the Charles Simonyi Chair for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University.

    The aim of the Professorship is to communicate science to the public without, in doing so, losing those elements of scholarship which constitute the essence of true understanding.

    It’s a reasonable question to ask whether or not atheist activism is at odds with the aims of the Simonyi Professorship.
    It’s also reasonable to suggest that ignoring a third-rate, narrow-demographic, flash-in-the-pan documentary might help sink it more effectively than giving it a public controversy. After all, “there’s no such thing as bad press.”
    What’s not reasonable is expecting others to shut up because their tactics differ from your own.

  20. #20 DBE
    March 24, 2008

    “I don’t know of anyone who even declares themselves to be self-appointed spokespeople for science”

    Well…there’s Dr. Science…and remember, he knows more than you do!

  21. #21 Joshua
    March 24, 2008

    Jim: Sorry, Orac has dibs on the Doom mask.

  22. #22 Damian
    March 24, 2008

    PZ says:

    Nisbet’s article made the front page of Uncommon Descent, and not because they were criticizing him. Enough said.

    And is this not what makes Nisbet and Mooney’s argument so flawed?

    PZ blogged about being expelled, first. The cat was out of the bag and it wasn’t going back in. So, how exactly can it be good “framing” to criticize PZ for it, when it was pretty obvious that the other side would exploit it, in an attempt to smear him and save face?

    Surely they must have known this would happen? If they didn’t, they have shown themselves to be grossly incompetent (some would say that happened long ago).

    The pair of them are now the darlings of ID creationism. Unbelievable (and rather funny at the same time).

  23. #23 Jim RL
    March 24, 2008

    I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy there’s no such thing as bad press line that everyone parrots unthinkingly. Ask Larry Craig or Eliot Spitzer if all press is good press. Look at the movie version of the Golden Compass. There was tons of controversy and people, especially devout Christians stayed home. Ask Michael Jackson how his negative press has helped his career, or OJ Simpson.

    Showing these people to be absolute hypocrites cannot possibly help there case any more than Ben Stein being caught in a live boy dead girl scenario would.

  24. #24 Diego
    March 24, 2008

    I assume that the spokespeople for science are those elusive scientists from the ever popular statement, “Scientists say…”. I’ve always wondered who this band could be, because real scientists are about as monolithic as a parliament of cats.

  25. #25 firemancarl
    March 24, 2008

    With all due respect PZ, may I suggest that you send your Trophy Wife now withNinja Action (TM) to teach this bastard a lesson?

  26. #26 Spaulding
    March 24, 2008

    On another note, the whole “Crossroads” angle is something that some people have been making a big deal out of. Yeah, the film company misrepresented themselves in the interest of getting more scientist interviews, with more candid answers. Scientists were tricked, and complaining about it just makes the filmmakers seem clever for doing so.

    I don’t think that Dawkins or PZ said anything that they have reason to disavow, so it’s wiser to just shrug off the misrepresentation. Better to focus on the factual errors and strawmen in the film, rather than on the sly interviews.

  27. #27 Jim Kakalios
    March 24, 2008

    Joshua: Jim: Sorry, Orac has dibs on the Doom mask.

    Bah! Doom has no need for masks! Masks are for lesser beings! Let all tremble before the true visage of Doom!

    http://www.endevil.com/ images/George_Bush.jpg

    And those fools called me MAD! MAAAAAAAADDDD!

  28. #28 Matt
    March 24, 2008

    Unfortunately for Matt Nisbet …

    Seriously, Nisbet must be entirely mad.

  29. #29 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    March 24, 2008

    Wouldnt Richard count as a spokesperson for science since he still occupies the Simonyi professorship for the public understanding of science?

    I was thinking the same thing – I would be surprised if Nisbet really mean to ask The University of Oxford to prematurely releave him of this tenure, ask the Royal Society of litterature and the Royal Society to dismember him as a Fellow, ask Oxford’s Balliol college to stop giving out Dawkins Prize, or ask Dawkins to dissolve the Richard Dawkins Foundation for reason or Science.

    Maybe Nisbet never engages brain before open mouth to stick foot in, but one would think that he would be capable of eventually learning a basic Pavlovian reflex.

    Of course, even if Nisbet manages to convince all these people of the appropriateness of this, he surely must consider the Atheist Alliance International Richard Dawkins Award out of bounds for this request. Mustn’t he?

  30. #30 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    March 24, 2008

    Wouldnt Richard count as a spokesperson for science since he still occupies the Simonyi professorship for the public understanding of science?

    I was thinking the same thing – I would be surprised if Nisbet really mean to ask The University of Oxford to prematurely releave him of this tenure, ask the Royal Society of litterature and the Royal Society to dismember him as a Fellow, ask Oxford’s Balliol college to stop giving out Dawkins Prize, or ask Dawkins to dissolve the Richard Dawkins Foundation for reason or Science.

    Maybe Nisbet never engages brain before open mouth to stick foot in, but one would think that he would be capable of eventually learning a basic Pavlovian reflex.

    Of course, even if Nisbet manages to convince all these people of the appropriateness of this, he surely must consider the Atheist Alliance International Richard Dawkins Award out of bounds for this request. Mustn’t he?

  31. #31 Adrian
    March 24, 2008

    Nisbet is sure doing a poor job of acting as a role model. If making statements that are used to benefit IDiots are the mark of a poor communicator who should shut up and let others speak, then he is damned by his own words. For the good of his own cause, he should be quiet.

    At the very least, his recent actions appear to motivated out of some personal grudge which really tarnishes much of his earlier argument.

  32. #32 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    March 24, 2008

    D’oh, slip of the preview. That is Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.

  33. #33 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    March 24, 2008

    D’oh, slip of the preview. That is Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.

  34. #34 Michael X
    March 24, 2008

    Spaulding,
    Every time someone says “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” a PR rep dies. Interestingly enough clapping also brings them back too.

    This classic bad press. It isn’t movie buzz, it’s defaming the creators. Nothing kills credibility in fighting for a cause than actions that show you in opposition to it.

  35. #35 foxfire
    March 24, 2008

    Armchair Dissident wrote (#15):

    What the hell? I don’t want my science from journalists and spin-doctors (sorry, “framers”).

    Excellent! I detest framing: science in sound bytes, distorted and spun for consumption by the lowest common denominator.

    I’ve never seen anything written/stated by PZ or RD which I interpreted as them acting as representatives of “Science”. I have always thought they were presenting their individual opinions as scientists. Sometimes I personally agree and sometimes I don’t. In any event, I’d rather hear from PZ and RD than some yahoo framing away on an issue.

  36. #36 Blake Stacey
    March 24, 2008

    Uh-oh. The Comic Sans has been unleashed.

  37. #37 Chad
    March 24, 2008

    I don’t know why this is such a big deal, doesn’t everyone know Nisbet just wants to be the spokesperson for science? Why doesn’t he just come out and say it instead of saying “it’s time to let others be the spokespeople for science” he should just cut the bull and say “let ME be the spokesperson for science!”

  38. #38 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    March 24, 2008

    At the very least, his recent actions appear to motivated out of some personal grudge which really tarnishes much of his earlier argument.

    Well, there certainly was argument, but much less of positive or explicit suggestions.

    I would be pissed too, if I fail when I let my actions stand in place of explicit suggestions and when I’m trying to communicate on how to communicate.

    That is like an epic epic fail and places him somewhere in the neighborhood of Mathis on both counts. It would be ironic if it wasn’t for the nagging feeling that ignorant dealings with the inflammatory interface between religion and science is what brought them together in the first place.

  39. #39 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    March 24, 2008

    At the very least, his recent actions appear to motivated out of some personal grudge which really tarnishes much of his earlier argument.

    Well, there certainly was argument, but much less of positive or explicit suggestions.

    I would be pissed too, if I fail when I let my actions stand in place of explicit suggestions and when I’m trying to communicate on how to communicate.

    That is like an epic epic fail and places him somewhere in the neighborhood of Mathis on both counts. It would be ironic if it wasn’t for the nagging feeling that ignorant dealings with the inflammatory interface between religion and science is what brought them together in the first place.

  40. #40 Quidam
    March 24, 2008

    It’s done wonders for Nisbet’s traffic. Up from 10 comments to hundreds.

    Nesbit seems to be arguing to form the very Big Science bureaucracy, with official spokespeople, where opinions must be vetted by public relations and dissenting voices silenced, that eXpelled claims exists.

    I think he’s envious of the Discovery Institute where lawyers and spin doctors rule over science.

  41. #41 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood
    March 24, 2008

    Does not Nisbet play to the Creationists with his notion of deferring everything to the NCSE? After all, our paranoid opponents believe in a conspiracy of scientists. This is the central message of Expelled, so far as I can make out. Nothing would confirm their suspicions more than funneling all communications through a single channel.

    Furthermore, it fails to gives any impression of a large community committed to science and truth. Thus far the god-botherers have advanced in the firm belief that they represent a majority. To disabuse them of this I believe they need to be met with a multitude of voices. And not all those voices need be temperate or conciliatory.

  42. #42 student_b
    March 24, 2008

    A comment from the Common Dense site:

    Don’t get your hopes up. Myers is a leader in the Darwinist movement to suppress any dissent in academia. My guess is he will get tenure because he will unleash the hounds of war on anyone who stands in his way. He probably has the entire University of Minnesota power structure dancing to whatever tune he calls.

    Fear the power that is PZ.

    (Ok, I’m not sure if this is parody or not… but it’s funny either way.)

  43. #43 Marc
    March 24, 2008

    I don’t think this guy realizes that Dawkins really IS, as mentioned above, as official a spokesperson for science as one gets.

    On a light note, I’d nominate Thomas Dolby, in full “Sons of Ether” dress.

  44. #44 gravitybear
    March 24, 2008

    CBEB: The name “PZ Myers” is to religionists much like Red Kryptonite is to Superman; there’s no telling how they will react upon hearing those words.

    This cracked me up! Red kryptonite indeed.

  45. #45 David Marjanovi?, OM
    March 24, 2008

    Ouch. You quoted Nisbet in Comic Sans. And people freaked out when you said “fuck you very much”! :-D :-D :-D

    Wouldnt Richard count as a spokesperson for science since he still occupies the Simonyi professorship for the public understanding of science?

    If every university in the world, or even just half of them, had such a post, you’d have a point. But Dawkins’ post is the only such post in the whole world.

    After all, “there’s no such thing as bad press.”

    Two words: Kerry, swiftboat.

    I don’t think that Dawkins or PZ said anything that they have reason to disavow, so it’s wiser to just shrug off the misrepresentation.

    Why, when we can expose a lie instead? Remember, expelledthemovie.com was registered before the interviews were made, and no domain name with “crossroads” in it was ever registered.

    Dude, go back and start reading at the beginning.

  46. #46 David Marjanovi?, OM
    March 24, 2008

    Ouch. You quoted Nisbet in Comic Sans. And people freaked out when you said “fuck you very much”! :-D :-D :-D

    Wouldnt Richard count as a spokesperson for science since he still occupies the Simonyi professorship for the public understanding of science?

    If every university in the world, or even just half of them, had such a post, you’d have a point. But Dawkins’ post is the only such post in the whole world.

    After all, “there’s no such thing as bad press.”

    Two words: Kerry, swiftboat.

    I don’t think that Dawkins or PZ said anything that they have reason to disavow, so it’s wiser to just shrug off the misrepresentation.

    Why, when we can expose a lie instead? Remember, expelledthemovie.com was registered before the interviews were made, and no domain name with “crossroads” in it was ever registered.

    Dude, go back and start reading at the beginning.

  47. #47 Rev Matt
    March 24, 2008

    Damn, someone beat me to the Dr. Science bit. Ah well.

    While everyone and their blogging dog has noted that Nisbet thinks only ‘approved’ spokespeople should be allowed to talk to the media what is missing is the crucial point that he believes that *he* should be The Decider. The affinity Chris has for him seems even more incongruous given Nisbets’ complete lack of interest in actual science in favor of being the one who makes the decisions for everyone else and tells them what they’re allowed to say and not say. Funny, that doesn’t sound much like democracy to me either.

  48. #48 Brownian, OM
    March 24, 2008

    Lee, you’re not the most regular poster (I imagine some of us have jobs that take up our time), but you’ve sure been catching my attention with your comments on this fiasco.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a Molly nomination in your near future.

  49. #49 David Marjanovi?, OM
    March 24, 2008

    Unfortunately for Matt Nisbet …

    Seriously, Nisbet must be entirely mad.

    Link doesn’t work.

  50. #50 David Marjanovi?, OM
    March 24, 2008

    Unfortunately for Matt Nisbet …

    Seriously, Nisbet must be entirely mad.

    Link doesn’t work.

  51. #51 Dr Benway
    March 24, 2008

    In the self-referential bubble of these blogs PZ is a presence. But in my corner of “real life,” no one’s heard of him. Most wouldn’t know who Dawkins is either.

    In the real world, science gets maybe 1% of anyone’s media attention. 99% of what’s out there is: scandal latest, Iraq, primaries, weather, sports, and car accidents.

    We need many more barrels of noisy scientists.

  52. #52 DavidONE
    March 24, 2008

    Cross-posting my comment from Matt’s site:

    For many, Dawkins and Myers have *earned* their place at the table. What they say and how they say it are just fine and dandy … no false deference, no mealy-mouthed platitudes – just calling out idiocy where it rears its pimply head.

    Tip-toeing around religious sensibility hasn’t worked too well over the last few hundred years and many of us think it’s time they were pummelled with sound logic and reality-based argument. PZ and Richard do that job admirably.

    P.S. “C) Religion is a fairy tale, similar to hobgoblins, a fantasy, and even evil.”

    It is. Have you not been paying attention? I’d recommend Myers and Dawkins – they’re very good.

  53. #53 Spaulding
    March 24, 2008

    Michael X, I agree that the hypocrisy of the director is absolutely hilarious, and undermines his “frame.”

    But quite frankly, this was going to be a movie that had a couple of private showings in theatres, made the rounds in the fundie mega-churches, and then settled down to a shelf in the Flintstones museum and a spot in a mail-order catalog for paranoid homeschoolers.

    Now it’s in the Times? And all over the internet? Even if lots of people are laughing at it, many more people will hear about it. And some of those will be curious enough to check it out. They might spend two hours watching it, but they’re not likely to spend two hours absorbing factual rebuttals.

  54. #54 Janine, ID
    March 24, 2008

    We need many more barrels of noisy scientists.

    Posted by: Dr Benway

    Would that be more fun than a barrel of monkeys?

  55. #55 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood
    March 24, 2008

    I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a Molly nomination in your near future.

    Please don’t. Truly, being a non-scientist I don’t have a lot to say. (I’m a games designer by trade.) However, I enjoy playing gadfly, and as a former victim of the Church of England I have a few observations on the matter of god-botherers.

  56. #56 woody, tokin librul
    March 24, 2008

    PZ, you know as well as I do that all the little pimp(le) wants to do is get himself noticed. Write him a nice letter for his tenure file, tell him, and he’ll get off your ass soon enough, I reckon…

  57. #57 Dr Benway
    March 24, 2008

    Would that be more fun than a barrel of monkeys?

    To answer this question we would need an empirical test.

    However, a barrel of scientists are more likely to come with carrots, celery, brie wheels, bread, crackers, coffee urns and bottled water. They are also less likely to throw their own feces about. Two points in their favor, I should think.

  58. #59 Pol Lambert
    March 24, 2008

    An offical spokesperson for science is stupid and even ignorant. It only serves to reinforce some ivory tower mentality that helpes nobody. Scientists gain reputation by saying whatever they think. If people find that interesting, they will listen to him/her (and in academia cite him/her). If people don’t care, they will not listen/cite. Dawkins became famous and gained his role as professor for public understanding because he wrote good books, not the other way around. Let the meritocracy do its work and quit your whining.

  59. #60 Elf Eye
    March 24, 2008

    Well, obviously, you scientists need a Magisterium to police your undisciplined disciplines. After all, it has worked soooo well for religious cults.

  60. #61 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood
    March 24, 2008

    This has parallels with the discussion on why there is no high priest of atheism. In part because it is an absurd idea–atheism is no more a hierarchical religion than academia is a monolithic entity. But partly because any attempt to corral scientists or atheists is akin to herding cats.

    To be fair we are prone to the same error, often by viewing the god-botherers as part of some monolithic movement. An atheist’s best weapon against the godly is sectarianism, and it should be wielded mercilessly. If they cannot agree on religious doctrine you have a wedge to drive between them on secular issues.

  61. #62 Benjamin C.
    March 24, 2008

    Where the hell are all the supposed scientists out there?

    Can’t a single damn one of you re-animate Carl Sagan?

    Or, barring that, at least re-animate Don Herbert (Mr. Wizard)?

  62. #63 Graculus
    March 24, 2008

    Well, it looks like you can’t call Nisbet a “Neville Chamberlain ” anymore. He’s moved on to “Vichy”.

  63. #64 Spaulding
    March 24, 2008

    David Marjanovi?, I’m well aware of how the filmmakers misrepresented themselves, which is why I discussed it in my comment.

    Saying “I was off-guard because the filmmakers intentionally misled me” does not address the arguments of the film, and I don’t think it effectively demonizes the filmmaker either. When Ali G. misleads people into embarrassing themselves, it makes him look more clever than unethical. I certainly don’t think Dawkins or PZ embarassed themselves, so the sneaky interviews aren’t really the problem here. The problem is that the film makes poor and inaccurate arguments.

    “But he tricked them!” does not rebut a single one of their points – to their demographic, it may even make the filmmakers seem clever and the scientists seem like gullible whiners with something to hide. I suggest continued focus on the important lies, rather than the more trivial ones.

  64. #65 poke
    March 24, 2008

    Nisbet and Mooney’s posts on this have been so ridiculous that the only conclusion I can draw is that they have gambling debts that can only be paid off by Templeton money.

  65. #66 PZ Myers
    March 24, 2008

    My guess is he will get tenure because he will unleash the hounds of war on anyone who stands in his way.

    My power is more immense than you can possibly imagine, since I just leapt into my time machine and retroactively gave myself tenure five years ago. My critics better worry. I don’t use my powers for anything as crude as killing their grandfather before he had children…instead, I’ll go back and sleep with their mother 9 months before they were born.

    That’ll send chills down their spines.

  66. #67 andy
    March 24, 2008

    I think Voltaire sums it all up quite nicely.

    “I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: ‘O Lord, make my enemies very ridiculous.’ And God granted it.”

    Of course, we should probably replace the word God with the FSM, or Cthulhu, or something…

  67. #68 john
    March 24, 2008

    Next season there’s a new TV show, “America’s Next Top Spokesperson for Science.” The first episode starts with a group photo by the Einstein statue in DC, well framed of course. The group then goes to random scientific meetings where the goal is to stand by a poster looking friendly and interact positively with everyone who stops to chat. Each week someone gets voted off, but all the contestants reunite for the last episode and the runnerup is named “Dr. Congeniality.” The winner gets a cover shot on Scientific American and a $100,000 grant.

    The fundies are really worried.

  68. #69 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    March 24, 2008

    PZ, you know as well as I do that all the little pimp(le) wants to do is get himself noticed. Write him a nice letter for his tenure file, tell him, and he’ll get off your ass soon enough, I reckon…

    The irony is that when he came for his smackdown against PZ and Greg, he had his nose high in the air when I wanted to talk to him.

  69. #70 Hairhead
    March 24, 2008

    Oh, to Speak for Science
    Is a worthy goal,
    Or so thinks Mr. Nisbet
    (To him a lump of coal)

    But all the “Speak” of Science
    Comes in the form of facts
    Observable and measurable,
    The brassest of brass tacks

    So all that Science “speaks”
    Is hard and not polite
    Is clear and unmistakable
    Misinterpreted as spite

    Science is what we see and sense
    To order and forecast
    The dangerous and uncaring world
    So that humankind will last

    Science itself will always speak
    Through measurement and record
    Though many ears are stopped
    From “listening to the Lord”

    The facts will never go away
    No matter how they try
    The Godbots and irrationalists
    Can only moan and cry

    No-one Speaks for Science
    And the universe is revealed
    To those who see and sense
    There will be no truth concealed

  70. #71 William
    March 24, 2008

    When someone makes a statement that on the face of it is obviously ridiculous, it’s time to ask yourself if maybe they mean something else by it. Shame you didn’t try that here, PZ.

  71. #72 chancelikely
    March 24, 2008

    Graculus(#59): and moving toward Quisling.

  72. #73 Bad
    March 24, 2008

    Seems like a very simple point that Nisbet is missing people listen to Dawkins and PZ because Dawkins and PZ have convinced people to go out and listen to them. They earned their audience by doing what they do and saying what they say. If they hadn’t, that audience wouldn’t be listening to Nisbet instead. It wouldn’t necessarily be listening at all.

  73. #74 Canuck
    March 24, 2008

    What is so sad about this is that so much human energy and time is put into this debate when there are so many really serious problems that need solving. How anyone can look at humanity and consider it the product of intelligent design is just mind boggling. As George Carlin said, “it looks more like the product of some office temp with a bad attitude than it does the work of a supreme being” (losely paraphrased.

  74. #75 Azkyroth
    March 24, 2008

    When someone makes a statement that on the face of it is obviously ridiculous, it’s time to ask yourself if maybe they mean something else by it. Shame you didn’t try that here, PZ.

    Two words: Ockham’s Razor.

  75. #76 godsilove
    March 24, 2008

    Actually, I think that there are official spokespeople for science, at the NCSE. Eugenie Scott and company.

    And these spokespeople often do show up in the media, because of this. More than PZ, I’ll warrant.

    No, PZ is spot on. There are no “official” spokespersons for science. Various parties including the NCSE may represent scientists and science educators, but they are not by any means official spokespersons.

  76. #77 Crudely Wrott
    March 24, 2008

    @67

    If someone makes a public statement, like in front of Every One, that someone could have confided in private without fear of flash over, and there occurs a public reaction, one should indeed begin a list of all the other things one might have really had in mind. It could come in handy. Jus’ sayin’

  77. #78 CalGeorge
    March 24, 2008

    Matt says:
    I have always maintained that Dawkins and PZ are great communicators *for their relatively small audience* of atheists and science enthusiasts. What they do for this audience is intensify their beliefs while providing them talking points for expressing their worldview and attacking religion. Indeed, among the atheist netroots, PZ’s preferred brand of Don Imus atheism has become very popular, spreading all sorts of wrong headed myths that religious people are stupid and that science literacy will set them free.

    PZ gets launched by Expelled into the mainstream and Matt has a conniption fit.

    All was well when PZ was speaking to his “small audience.” Now that gazillions of people have read this blog in the last few days, Matt can see that PZ’s message has a much wider appeal. People want strong voices to speak out forcefully against the religious nuts who are using the media and every form of deceit to bring religion into the science classroom. Time for Matt to accept this basic fact.

    PZ = Don Imus? WTF is wrong with this guy?

  78. #79 Michael X
    March 24, 2008

    Spaulding,
    Normally, I’d be right there with ya, but in this case I don’t believe the press is pointing anyone to the movie. “Expelled producers expel critic” and “man in movie not allowed to see it” doesn’t strike intrest in the movie but the people themselves. It’s a subtle difference from Dogma’s religious backlash or Passion of the Christ’s violence being criticized. That kind of buzz does point people to the movie itself. But on the other hand if Mel Gibson’s call girl ratted him out before the movie opened, I don’t think his PR team would want to give her “a big bear hug”.

    It’s a sutble difference that I think will serve to undermine ID’s credability in the public eye in the long run, more than effect a movie that, as you say, will soon be up with the flintstones on DVD.

  79. #80 random net guy
    March 24, 2008

    Why the hell is Nisbet still on scienceblogs? I mean, what’s his role here? To piss off actual scientists? Anything beyond that?

    I’m all for everyone having a blog of their own to bloviate away on, but he brings less than nothing to this network, and I’d be happy to see him kicked back to the bush leagues.

  80. #81 lightning
    March 24, 2008

    We’ve already tried ignoring them. They didn’t go away. It’s time to start pointing out that just about everybody thinks they’re loons but are afraid/too polite to say it. Creationism is as bad theology as it is science — we’re not alone on this one.

    “There’s a time to smile all over and be as slippery as a snake in a swamp, and there’s a time to roar and pound on tables.” — Christopher Anvil

  81. #82 Tyler DiPietro
    March 24, 2008

    Nisbet’s take on this whole ordeal is likely born of pure, unadulterated jealousy. His personal rival is enjoying the spotlight, and he has to get his cut somehow. Saying incredibly stupid things is one way to accomplish that.

  82. #83 Norman Doering
    March 24, 2008

    Tyler DiPietro wrote:

    Nisbet’s take on this whole ordeal is likely born of pure, unadulterated jealousy.

    I don’t think so. I think he’s serious and just doesn’t know the framing game as well as he thinks.

    I don’t think Mark Mathis knows it as well as he thinks either, but I do note — it appears he’s written books on PR:
    http://www.amazon.com/Feeding-Media-Beast-Recipe-Publicity/dp/1557532478

    Also NonProfit NonMarketing.

  83. #84 Crudely Wrott
    March 24, 2008

    I followed the link to the “Elvis Presley of Atheism” post and found an interesting question in the comments asked by Iggy at #2.

    “Is the massive amount of projection inherent in the Fundie mindset something that CAN be dealt with? i.e. Dawkins as Atheist Pope, Darwin as Prophet, Atheism as religion, Science as opinion, etc.”

    In a moment of rare, but familiar and welcome mental activity, (much more fun and useful than hearing voices in my head) a useful approach hit me like the hot kiss at the end of a wet fist! So I posted:

    I found a plausible answer for you. Consider: the entire edifice of Christianity is like an inverted pyramid balanced on its apex. That point is not the divinity of Christ, per se, but his ability to absorb, spongelike and willingly, not only one’s original sin, but all the sin that one can manage for as long as one can manage it.

    One is troubled by untoward thoughts and goes to his elder or pastor. One is commonly told to “Give it to the Lord. Let Him take it from you.”

    One is desperate to meet an obligation and is fearful of failing. “Let go and let God! He knows your need and wants to meet it for you.”

    One is beginning to question and doubt. The priests are concerned and the congregation is agitated. “Out! Foul demon! In the name of Jesus!”

    In each case one is given permission and encouragement to NOT take personal responsibility and to rather allow the “ministry of the Church, and the Holy Ghost work their wondrous and mysterious ways. Just listen to the stirring testimonials of those who have been deeply blessed.”

    I believe that given this kind of ethical license, a true believer would be just as likely to “allow his sins to be lifted” not only by the one true god, but by any sufficiently authoritative human. Especially those authority figures who either are or who are alleged to be a threat to dogma and cherished surrender.

    I think that the art of projection might be facilitated by a willingness to place ones own darker proclivities onto the reputation of another in order to make the other appear unreliable, incredible. The deep irony lies in the fact that the proclivities so transfered instantly become the ones accusingly pointed out!

    Pot, mirror, black.

    Interestingly, I recall any number of occasions when I (in a previous life) gathered with the faithful that one of the most popular subjects was comparing “previous sinful states.” This was normally accomplished by describing some shocking behavior, how it was worsening, how Jesus “just took it all away,” how it had all been the devil’s work and how others so afflicted don’t know the evil inside them . . . (whew) and then quieter speculation on who in the congregation was having the same problems.

    The enigma of projection. Could it be rooted in faith?

  84. #85 Tyler DiPietro
    March 24, 2008

    “I don’t think so. I think he’s serious and just doesn’t know the framing game as well as he thinks.”

    I take that latter bit as pretty much a given at this point. Nisbet doesn’t have any framing successes under his belt to lend him any particular credibility in this area. His whole schtick appears to be to tell certain people that they’re “doing it wrong” without elaborating, much less implementing or working to implement, a stronger alternative.

    But still, it’s hard for me to look at Nisbet’s nonsense and not see it as largely motivated by his personal animosity toward PZ. One particular pattern I’ve noticed in Nisbet’s blathering is that, thus far, nothing PZ has done has ever been good for “the cause”.

  85. #86 gerald spezio
    March 24, 2008

    Nisbet openly told us what HIS framing is;

    “That’s the power and influence of framing when it resonates with an individual’s social identity. It plays on human nature by allowing a citizen to make up their minds in the absence of knowledge, and importantly, to articulate an opinion. It’s definitely not the scientific or democratic ideal, but it’s how things work in society.”

    Nisbet’s frames “RESONATED” with PZ’s scientific & social identity.

    Although Nisbet was only playing with PZ’s human nature, PZ “articulated an opinion” in vernacular language thereby offending the social manipulations, agendas, and the authortarian delusions of one world framed under framing non-science.

    When PZ claimed relevant “knowledge,” he thereby voided any claim to have been a jovial schmuck/citizen who had been rigidly and successfully framed.

    PZ’s crime is truly knowing Nisbet’s manipulative framing agenda.

    QED; Any knowledge of framing anti-science behind the professed beneficial frames is dis-allowed for the citizenry (the framees) & most especially vocal academicians.

    MORAL: The best laid plans of manipulative framers are best ignored or at least re-framed in the most terse vernacular for economy of response to nonsense & distortion.
    It’s how “things and framing” don’t work so well in an informed scientific society.

  86. #87 gerald spezio
    March 24, 2008

    Paisano DiPietro, I am less inclined to psychologize & read in to understand long suffering Nisbet.
    I started whacking his forked tongue framing sham three years ago.
    He makes stupid statements because he is stupid – is a workable hypothesis.
    His definition of the blessings of framing is classic “how to shoot crooked & blow your foot off.”
    Dostoevski said: “If Stavrogin believes, he does not believe that he believes.”

  87. #88 jimmbo
    March 24, 2008

    I agree with brownian # 45

  88. #89 David
    March 24, 2008

    You sure are taking it hard, PZ. I love ya, but you get ugly when you’re mad.

  89. #90 Mooser
    March 24, 2008

    Look, it doesn’t make any difference to me, I worship you with even more fervor than you, I’ll wager, but if you don’t improve both your grooming and your wardrobe (I’m sure your Hygeine is just fine) don’t blame me if you find it impossible to suddeed at Science without really trying.

  90. #91 Tyler DiPietro
    March 24, 2008

    Gerald,

    Yeah, it is armchair psychology on my part. And no, I don’t expect anyone to seriously consider. Quite frankly, I’ve grown so exasperated with Nisbet that I simply can’t take he says seriously anymore. I’m just trying to extract some fun out of the whole ordeal.

    As an aside, I am glad that there is at least one other Italian roaming about these parts that I can freely refer to as paisan.

  91. #92 Tyler DiPietro
    March 24, 2008

    “Yeah, it is armchair psychology on my part. And no, I don’t expect anyone to seriously consider it. Quite frankly, I’ve grown so exasperated with Nisbet that I simply can’t take anything he says seriously anymore. I’m just trying to extract some fun out of the whole ordeal.”

    Fixed, since the word-gaps would make it difficult to parse otherwise.

  92. #93 waldteufel
    March 25, 2008

    Religion is one of the most destructive of human enterprises.
    All progress we’ve made as a species has been in spite of religion; fighting the dead hand of religious dogma, and struggling to throw off the shackles of superstition.

    Why the fuck would we want to placate dogma and superstition?

    We don’t need to respect religion any more than we respect child abuse.

    As far as I’m concerned, Nisbett can shove his smarmy appeasement up his ass.

  93. #94 Ed Darrell
    March 25, 2008

    I don’t know that we need new spokesfolk, but after making Orrin Hatch the six-term senator he is today, it’d be fun to work out some strategies for these appearances with you.

    You do really well, but there’s no reason you couldn’t inspire some creationists to regret their never having learned how to read science.

  94. #95 craig
    March 25, 2008

    “Nisbet’s article made the front page of Uncommon Descent, and not because they were criticizing him. Enough said.”

    Don’t you see? This means he’s won them over to our side already! Who would have thought his brilliant plan would have worked so quickly?

  95. #96 Ebonmuse
    March 25, 2008

    As PZ pointed out, Nisbet doesn’t seem to understand that there’s no official spokesperson position for all of science. But I think his misunderstanding is more fundamental than that.

    What Nisbet doesn’t seem to have grasped is that, to whatever extent PZ and Richard Dawkins are viewed as prominent, influential scientists whose opinions are worth listening to, they earned that authority by their own dedication and effort. No Grand High Ruling Council of Science appointed them to that position, although Nisbet seems to imagine that he’s addressing such a body. PZ and Dawkins are doing just what they’ve always done – writing, speaking, publishing their opinions – and they’ve gained a popular following as a result. Their following isn’t one that was bestowed upon them from on high; they created it for themselves from the ground up, by presenting persuasive arguments that won people over. In other words, they’re winning the battle of ideas, and Nisbet is not. His ridiculous call for them to shut up and hand that authority over to him is really just a plea for him to be handed the acclaim that he’s failed to achieve by his own effort. The similarities with creationists are instructive…

  96. #97 scote
    March 25, 2008

    Nisbet openly told us what HIS framing is;
    “That’s the power and influence of framing when it resonates with an individual’s social identity. It plays on human nature by allowing a citizen to make up their minds in the absence of knowledge, and importantly, to articulate an opinion. It’s definitely not the scientific or democratic ideal, but it’s how things work in society.”

    What an idiot he is. PZ’s expulsion is perfect framing, even by Nisbet’s definition. It allows people to side with PZ by only knowing a few details of the story and it makes the Creatinists look like the insincere hypocrites they are. Perfect framing. How can he be so totally clueless as not to see this?

    Nisbet may want to leave Science Blogs for PR Blogs or Those Who Can’t Do Blogs, but certainly nothing that involves actual cogency.

  97. #98 Nullifidian
    March 25, 2008

    What an idiot he is. PZ’s expulsion is perfect framing, even by Nisbet’s definition. It allows people to side with PZ by only knowing a few details of the story and it makes the Creatinists look like the insincere hypocrites they are. Perfect framing. How can he be so totally clueless as not to see this?

    He does see it. He’s not clueless, he’s just on a vendetta.

    “Professor in Expelled Expelled from Expelled” is a perfect case of framing, and most bothersome is that it was just dumped in PZ’s lap. He didn’t have to do anything but show up. So in order to deny PZ’s role as the better framer, even if unintentionally, Nisbet has to say “You’re doing it wrong. You should shut up, and let me handle it.” He has to, even though he couldn’t have come up with anything better if he tried (just read his blog if you doubt that), because to let PZ speak out on this without stepping in would be ceding to PZ what, in Nisbet’s mind, ‘should’ be his own turf.

    In short, if he didn’t speak out, he’d be forced to see himself as the useless tool that the rest of see all the time.

  98. #99 JD
    March 25, 2008

    Those that can, do. Those that can’t, teach “Framing.”

    Those that can think well, do science. Those that can’t, do “Framing”

    Those that value truth above all else are worthy of respect. Those that don’t, are often unscrupulous, user car salesman, creationists or “framers.”

  99. #100 John Morales
    March 25, 2008

    #84

    I agree with brownian # 45

    Me too.

  100. #101 Michael X
    March 25, 2008

    Yes, I like Lee as well. But does he have great hair?

  101. #102 Ace of Sevens
    March 25, 2008

    You stole the black man’s atheism?

  102. #103 SteveN
    March 25, 2008

    I listened to Matt Nisbet being interviewed on ‘Point of Inquiry’ a few weeks ago and at the time thought him to be a rather naive in his criticism of the ‘Richard Dawkins Approach’ of combatting religious fundamentalism. However, I also acknowledged to myself that as (according to my daughter) I am a ‘Dawkins groupie’ I may not be very objective in this regard. It’s therefore gratifying to see that so many others disagree with Nisbet’s policy of bending over backwards to avoid offending the religionists. He claims that being too aggressive and dismissive hurts the cause. In my opinion, being too conciliatory to religion and criticising those on the secular side who have actually managed to raise public awareness of the issue is doing the real damage.

  103. #104 MartinM
    March 25, 2008

    Apologies for going all the way back to comment #2, but:

    It’s telling that in all the time Nisbet has spent going on about how science should be explained to the masses, he hasn’t actually tried to explain any.

    There’s a reason for that:

    As for the context and goals of science communication, as I explain in different places, it depends.

    When I go on the road and talk about framing, I use a slide that details the following possible outcomes, varying by the issue, the audience, the context, and the goals:

    1. Motivate interest and attention to science.
    2. Create messages and media that go beyond polarization.
    3. Shape preferences for policies informed by science.
    4. Enhance trust and respect for scientific expertise.
    5. Shape personal or political behavior.

    As we note in our articles and in our talks, our focus is on how to engage the wider American adult public by way of the media (i.e. Americans who have finished with formal education.)

    Unfortunately, given the nature of the media system and the selectivity of audiences, it is actually very difficult for informal learning to occur outside of the relatively small public of science enthusiasts who possess both the motivation and the ability to pay attention to and make sense of science-rich media.

    In our digital age, given so many competing choices, the information rich get richer, while the rest of the public literally tunes out.

    That’s why informal learning about science, unfortunately, is not on that list of outcomes. The best we can hope for is to use framing to activate and motivate interest among an otherwise disinterested segment of the public so that they start paying attention to the many rich sources of science information found online or in traditional media.

    Full comment here.

    Every time this subject comes up, it’s always worth remembering that we’re dealing with a man who thinks that teaching people about science is not one of the goals of science communication.

  104. #105 Dan S.
    March 25, 2008

    More like the MEATLOAF of atheism!!!

    He would do anything for love, but he won’t do that?

  105. #106 Valhar2000
    March 25, 2008

    So, PZ, when will you record that album? As soon as I saw the cover, I felt I absolutely had to buy it!

  106. #107 Hilda
    March 25, 2008

    Good point MartinM. It is very strange that teaching people about science is not one of his listed goals of science communication. That might also explain why he doesn’t seem to mind helping the creationists’ side by his criticism of PZ and Dawkins.

    One of the things I really like about Pharyngula is that it attracts people from quite varied backgrounds. A lot of readers have strong science backgrounds, but there are a lot of us who don’t have science backgrounds at all but are learning science informally at Pharyngula. I started out coming for the humor and atheist posts but find that I’ve been learning about science informally and am catching PZ’s science enthusiasm. I even have been motivated to read a couple of lay person science books and SEED after coming to Pharyngula which I never would have been motivated to do before.

    Keep up the great work PZ!

  107. #108 Farb
    March 25, 2008

    Who is this twit, and whose fricking shill is he, anyway? I mean, the whole thing fairly reeks of being a “second front” in the aftermath of the Good Friday debacle!

  108. #109 rea
    March 25, 2008

    I don’t know of anyone who even declares themselves to be self-appointed spokespeople for science

    What??? I thought you knew this Nisbet guy!

  109. #110 Norman Doering
    March 25, 2008

    MartinM wrote:

    …we’re dealing with a man who thinks that teaching people about science is not one of the goals of science communication.

    I hate to defend Nisbet here, but it looks like No. 1, “Motivate interest and attention to science” would include teaching people about science and you really can’t teach anyone if they’re not motivated and interested.

    Nisbet would do better to follow his own advice, like No.
    2, “Create messages and media that go beyond polarization.”

    He sure has added more polarization with his messages. Though, it has to be noted that the polarization has existed since long before some creationists evolved into cdesign proponentsists.

    I don’t believe for a moment that Nisbet could hold his own debating an ID proponentsist. Does he even know about genetic algorithms, Edward Blyth, the arguments against irreducible complexity? If I had to debate someone like Behe or Dembski I’d probably blow it, but I think Nisbet might come back from the debate as a born again cdesign proponentsists. He wouldn’t know what to expect.

    However, Nisbet seems involved with environmentalism and that’s one place where its possible to go beyond polarization. And Evangelicals are getting on board with that. Spill over from the ID debate probably isn’t helping him with that when it comes to environmentalism and numbers 4 and 5; enhance trust and respect for scientific expertise and shape personal or political behavior.

  110. #111 Bruce
    March 25, 2008

    First, I think it is wrong to have a scientist be a spokesperson for “science”. I mean, they all have specialties, like biology, chemistry and that thing that works with mass and motion; psychics (I think).
    I have framed both houses and pictures, so I think that I am pretty well qualified. And, I can speak with Republicans and Democrats both, nodding my head and listening politely and making soothing sounds now and then.
    Also, I have a hat.
    Please elect me as spokesperson. Kthxbai.

  111. #112 Norman Doering
    March 25, 2008

    Bruce asked:

    Please elect me as spokesperson.

    Before you can be a science spokesperson you need to get yourself a blog.

    Then you have to write something sciency on it.

    If anyone shows up to read it, you’re a science spokesperson.

    Or, you can write a movie script about science and do like this guy did:
    http://kevinwrites.typepad.com/otherwise_known_as_kevin_/

  112. #113 Clifford Dubery
    March 25, 2008

    Good grief!! Elvis!!!!

    The ranting commentariate have enough trouble defining what a public intellectual is, let alone a more specialized title you mention, which Richard Dawkins used to qualify as through the Chair he held at Oxford, The Charles Simonyi Professor for the Understanding of Science. Include all his public talks since and yours you may by definition be a “Public Intellectual”at least in Minnesota.

  113. #114 dubiquiabs
    March 25, 2008

    Nisbet for Pope !

  114. #115 Michael X
    March 25, 2008

    Bruce, you can count on my vote in… um… wait, when do we vote for this again?

  115. #116 Jeffrey Rodriguez
    March 30, 2008

    Not a big Elvis fan, but LOVE PZ. Perhaps another suggestion? Maybe PZ, Dawkins, Harris, and Dennett can get together and become the Fab Four of the Fossil Record?

  116. #117 Ichthyic
    March 30, 2008

    I’m so sick of this utter noob Nisbet, trying to claim ANYTHING as far as a role in this debate.

    gees, you’d think getting one paper published in Science swelled his little head.

    Nisbet for Pope !

    heh, good choice.

The site is undergoing maintenance presently. Commenting has been disabled. Please check back later!