Pharyngula

Congratulations to Chris Mooney

Chris Mooney has just been named a Templeton Fellow in journalism.

It’s perfect for him. Many sincere congratulations on the excellent career trajectory.


Abbie sees the bright side in all this.

Comments

  1. #1 Glen Davidson
    February 26, 2010

    Not exactly the way to inspire confidence in his journalistic standards, though, I’m afraid.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p

  2. #2 IaMoL
    February 26, 2010

    Obviously, it’s what he always wanted.
    Meanwhile, Matt Nisbet sulks and whimpers,”why, oh why couldn’t have been ME?!!”

  3. #3 gcedwards10
    February 26, 2010

    Um, my sarcasm detector is off the charts!

  4. #4 Caine
    February 26, 2010

    How…apt. I’m sure he’s utterly thrilled.

  5. #5 Paul W.
    February 26, 2010

    My hearty congratulations not just to Chris, but to the Templeton Foundation for their fine choice.

    It’s hard to imagine a better match of standards of objectivity, honesty, and intellectual rigor.

  6. #6 Caine
    February 26, 2010

    Urgh, I just had an image flash in my head of CM having a Sally Fields moment. “They like me! They really like me! Accommodationism really works!

  7. #7 Sastra
    February 26, 2010

    Paul W. #5 wrote:

    It’s hard to imagine a better match of standards of objectivity, honesty, and intellectual rigor.

    Well put.

  8. #8 raven
    February 26, 2010

    Chris Mooney has just been named a Templeton Fellow in journalism.

    Oh gee. Isn’t that considered a preliminary to the George Orwell 1984 award for Doublespeak?

    And the Sarah Palin award for coherent thought?

  9. #9 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    February 26, 2010

    Oh. My. God. It’s just too perfect. It’s like something right out of a movie script. This explains everything.

  10. #10 Lynna, OM
    February 26, 2010

    He sold his integrity. From the press release:

    After decades during which leading voices from science and religion viewed each other with suspicion and little sense of how the two areas might relate, recent years have brought an active pursuit of understanding how science may deepen theological awareness, for example, or how religious traditions might illuminate the scientific realm. Fellowship organizers note that rigorous journalistic examination of the region where science and theology overlap ? as well as understanding the reasoning of many who assert the two disciplines are without common ground ? can effectively promote a deeper understanding of the emerging dialogue.

  11. #11 Sili
    February 26, 2010

    So Templeton likes bridges? Didn’t know he was a civil engineer.

    Interesting that it’s just Chris. Aren’t we usually told off for forgetting give his partner in crime due credit?.

  12. #12 Paul W.
    February 26, 2010

    Sastra,

    BTW, and OT, did you see my followup about Karen Armstrong in the moribund Templeton Foundation thread?

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/02/the_templeton_foundation_plays.php#comment-2284841

  13. #13 JBlilie
    February 26, 2010

    A perfect fit …

  14. #14 DagoRed
    February 26, 2010

    Wow! 15 grand for developing a taste for licking religious ass. Such an honor.

  15. #15 stereodax
    February 26, 2010

    This is bad… also for the Center of Inquiry at the Council of Secular Humanism, since Chris is now one of their replacement podcast presenters after DJ left. It makes me wonder whether DJ Grothe left for greener and more rational pastures (JREF) for more reasons than just moving to higher positions. DJ always seemed less of an faitheist.

  16. #16 ERV
    February 26, 2010

    I can only repeat Pauls (#5) sentiment.

    *blink*

  17. #17 recovering catholic
    February 26, 2010

    Prostitution pays.

  18. #18 PZ Myers
    February 26, 2010

    Of course, to put ourselves in his shoes: he doesn’t care in the slightest that acceptance of such an award diminishes our respect for his integrity even more, since he has no regard for our esteem anyway, and knows already that there isn’t much he could do to drag it any lower.

    So it’s just $15K in his pocket and a nice sojourn in England. No downside from his point of view at all.

  19. #19 charley
    February 26, 2010

    Fellowship organizers note that rigorous journalistic examination of the region where science and theology overlap ? as well as understanding the reasoning of many who assert the two disciplines are without common ground ? can effectively promote a deeper understanding of the emerging dialogue.

    The Templeton?Cambridge Journalism fellows named today are:

    – Qanta Ahmed, Contributor, Huffington Post, and Broadcast Commentator
    – John Farrell, Freelance Journalist
    – Zeeya Merali, Freelance Journalist and Documentary Producer
    – Chris Mooney, Science Journalist and Reporter
    – Lisa Mullins, Chief Anchor and Senior Producer, BBC?s The World
    – Jane Qiu, Correspondent, Nature
    – Francis X. Rocca, Vatican Correspondent, Religion News Service
    – Carlin Romano, Critic-at-large, Chronicle of Higher Education
    – Ron Rosenbaum, Cultural Columnist, Slate
    – Peter Scoblic, Executive Editor, The New Republic

    Does this group include any who promote the view that science and religion have no common ground?

  20. #20 Brain Hertz
    February 26, 2010

    Does this group include any who promote the view that science and religion have no common ground?

    Why would it? “Understanding the reasoning” here should be read to mean “trying to figure out why they come up with the wrong answer”.

  21. #21 Tronzu
    February 26, 2010

    “how religious traditions might illuminate the scientific realm.”

    Has this “how” been answered?

    Did I miss something horribly important in the argument arena for the existence of god?

  22. #22 Valdyr
    February 26, 2010

    religious traditions might illuminate the scientific realm

    religious traditions illuminate scientific realm

    religious traditions illuminate

    *explodes*

  23. #23 jaranath
    February 26, 2010

    Stereodax @ 15:

    DJ and Chris are close friends, so I don’t think the JREF move had anything to do with Chris’ views (unless there’s been a recent falling out).

  24. #24 Jerry Coyne
    February 26, 2010

    Therefore behoveth hire a ful long spoon
    the schal ete with a feend.

    –Chaucer

  25. #25 realinterrobang
    February 26, 2010

    I think they mean “illuminate” as in the medieval sense — splash it full of impractical decorations that take a long time to make and don’t really do anything; render it hard to read, and difficult to understand, and leave snarky little comments and doodles in the margins… :)

  26. #26 Sastra
    February 26, 2010

    Paul W. #12 wrote:

    BTW, and OT, did you see my followup about Karen Armstrong in the moribund Templeton Foundation thread?

    No, I missed it! Thanks. Again, very well put. I agree. It’s a valuable summary.

    And it’s not particularly off-topic, since this seems to be the cagey back-and-forth game that the Templeton Foundation is also playing. They’re making testable supernatural claims about reality — but they’re only making testable natural claims about how we can perceive reality — no, it’s the first — no, the second … I know, it’s both!!

    According to the neurologists I’ve read, mystics can minimize the activity in their right parietal lobes and lose the ability to separate themselves from the outside world: they gain a heightened sense of being “one with the universe.” They lose the sense of self. This same extremely satisfying sensation can also be induced through drugs or disease, and studied in the lab. It’s called “transcendence.” There can even be positive long-term psychological benefits, as people reframe the way they view themselves, and their relationship to others.

    I’ve also read that there are parts of the amygdala which, when stimulated, give a deep, inchoate feeling of significance to whatever is being experienced. I suspect that a physically explainable brain-based combination of both the loss of self, and the sense of indescribable importance, will satisfy most of the garbled divinity-sacred-mystical-God descriptions of Armstrong and the Templetons (now there’s a name for a band). There’s nothing new being found out about the nature of reality as a whole, and it being like a giant consciousness. It’s interesting in its own right.

    But they can’t accept that, because you have to experience it to KNOW that it can’t be “just that.” It’s more. It really is. Because you know. You’ve become higher, because you’ve humbled yourself before the facts of your own experience.

    Arguing with this is like arguing with a drunk on whether they think more clearly when they’re drunk, or with an anorexic on whether they’re too fat. They can give an intellectual assent to the reasonable side, but this is overwhelmed by their sense of being an insider, who has had a direct experience which needs no other interpretation — and others are outsiders.

    You can’t do science from this foundation.

  27. #27 anne.claflin
    February 26, 2010

    I used to really admire Chris Mooney, but have been losing that steadily for a few years now. I was living in DC in 2002 and discovered SEED (and combed the city looking for an actual issue, rather than an advertisement). That was my first real connection to science policy, which seemed like something interesting, but was missing from my science department, so Mooney became the one example I had of what I wanted to do (now I have many more, for the better). I have become more and more frustrated with him for only pointing out problems rather than proposing constructive solutions and for compromising in scientific debates.

  28. #28 bill.farrell
    February 26, 2010

    What’s next for Chris, a professorship at Biola?

  29. #29 Kevin Anthoney
    February 26, 2010

    I still think Richard Dawkins is the person who most deserves a Templeton award – if anything reconciles science and religion, it’s his meme theory.

  30. #30 IaMoL
    February 26, 2010

    You can’t do science from this foundation.

    Best play on words I’ve seen in a long time.

  31. #31 bart.mitchell
    February 26, 2010

    I wonder how long it will be until Mooney renounces atheism and claims he has found a belief in some sort of deity.

  32. #32 a.debaser
    February 26, 2010

    @#6

    More like “you accommodate me, you really really accommodate me!”

  33. #33 iordanov.ivan
    February 26, 2010

    That’s quite interesting Sastra, could you point at the best (or a couple) of references of these neurologists?

    And as for Chris, hopefully this will speed up his descent into irrelevance among scientists. We need some smarter accomodationists, he’s just not that fun to dismantle.

  34. #34 MadScientist
    February 26, 2010

    I’m with Paul W.#5 on this one.

    I think some people stated that Mooney must be looking for a Templeton Prize, but this is close enough for now. When someone claims to be a journalist and newspapers struggle to survive (don’t know about magazines though) I guess the Templeton Foundation is an obvious place to go. There were also many comments on Mooney’s claim to be an “atheist butt”, since the “I’m an atheist but …” tends to be a claim by liars for jesus, similar to the “I used to be an atheist but …”

    Mooney’s Kristolesque ideals will suit him well in his work for the Templeton Foundation.

  35. #35 Sven DiMilo
    February 26, 2010

    I still think Richard Dawkins is the person who most deserves a Templeton award – if anything reconciles science and religion, it’s his meme theory.

    I am quite sure that I will regret this, but:
    wtf?

  36. #36 MadScientist
    February 26, 2010

    I don’t get why people keep mentioning Mooney’s “integrity”; I thought “Unscientific America” proved he had none.

    I like Lynna’s quote #10: “… how religious traditions might illuminate the scientific realm.”

    Yes, I see praying and pseudo-cannibalistic rituals helping science a lot. Or maybe it’s bible-reading that’s meant to help us scientists. Oh, I know – getting that smudge of ash on your forehead – yeah, how could science have been so blind for so long? Gay-bashing? Raping kids? Maybe Santa Claus will deliver some scientific knowledge next christmas? Perhaps we can experiment on virtual animals like the Easter Bunny – no more research with real bunnies. Facing Mecca and putting our asses high in the air? I know – getting circumcised! The Haj pilgrimage. Offering food to the spirits of the dead. Offering food to the gods. Oh yes, religious tradition has so much to offer science.

  37. #37 windy
    February 26, 2010

    many who assert the two disciplines are without common ground

    Without common ground… isn’t that the same as “not overlapping”?

    “Science and religion share no common ground” – Fie, sir!! (or madam!!) How intolerant!

    “Science and religion are non-overlapping magisteria” Aaaah. That sounds much more respectful!

  38. #38 Insightful Ape
    February 26, 2010

    Actions of Chris Mooney do not bother or concern me. His position at the CFI does though. I like the CFI a lot and wish they reconsidered in light of this development.

  39. #39 jojodancingbear
    February 26, 2010

    You leave Chris Mooney Alone………”Channeling Chris Croker”. In reality though, I listened to him yesterday by accident on ABIS…I was really there for Carl Zimmer which was great. I really kinda saw this or something like it coming.

  40. #40 Pierce R. Butler
    February 26, 2010

    … the region where science and theology overlap …

    So can we officially declare the Gouldian NOMA Hypothesis disproved now?

  41. #41 Hey Zeus!
    February 26, 2010

    Gratz, Moon-Moon! You totally deserve it!

  42. #42 Tronzu
    February 26, 2010

    Seriously, how do religious views illuminate scientific realm or any other realm?

    I would really like to know.

    No sarcasm here.

    There must be some kind of reasoning in such an official message, why would they say it if there is none?

  43. #43 Paul W.
    February 26, 2010

    ivan@33:

    That’s quite interesting Sastra, could you point at the best (or a couple) of references of these neurologists?

    Check out D’Aquili and Newberg’s book Why God Won’t Go Away.

    The neuroscience is pretty interesting. They make it pretty clear that if their view of “spiritual” states is right, it’s a confluence of brainfarts, with a certain region of the brain shutting down. (This shows up on PET scans or FMRI’s; I forget which they used.) It’s a textbook case of hallucination, with one region giving no output or bogus output, and the brain regions depending on its outputs generating bizarre meaningful-seeming crap by trying to interpret the garbage.

    Oddly, they then try to make that consistent with religion and actual belief in God by hypothesizing that God made us that way so that we could preceive spiritual truths.

    Problem is, if it works the way they say, it is patently not perception. There are no real sensory (or even “extrasensory”) inputs being interpreted—just internally generated garbage due to a clear malfunction.

    Their about-face about two thirds of the way through the book is rather stunning. They start out with an absolutely materialist viewpoint—all mental events happen in the brain, and spiritual states are functionally reducible to to material brain states in an utterly monistic way, and those brain states are simply and utterly hallucinatory… therefore God did it.

    Amazing.

    Another interesting line of work is Persinger’s on inducing a felt presence of God, with his “God helmet,” which uses transcranial magnetic stimulation of a certain brain region to make it malfunction.

    Unfortunately, looking at some of his other work, Persinger strikes me as a bit of a crank, and I’d really like to see his “felt presence” stuff independently replicated. (It may have been by now… I haven’t kept up.)

    According to Persinger’s explanation of his results, IIRC, you can garble the tagging of data being communicated between different parts of the brain, so that internally-generated thoughts appear to be coming from the outside, and therefore from someone else. (Or maybe the thoughts themselves get garbled so much they don’t come through as thoughts, exactly, but you still have the sense of a presence of another mind in operation—you mispercieve stuff going on in another part of your own head as happening in another mind.)

    A little background on that: a lot of data being transferred across the brain is apparently tagged as a result of external perception, or as a result of internal imagination—that’s necessary to use certain brain regions for both kinds of purposes. (For example, mentally rotating an imaginary object in your head uses some of the same brain machinery as actual perception of a real rotating 3D object. That came as a shock to some brain scientists, who previously assumed that the representations and operations were fairly different, rather than being nearly identical.)

    So the idea is that idle thoughts you’d normally recognize as idle thoughts coming to you get mis-recognized as products of another mind, because they come from the same place in your brain, but get corrupted so that they seem to be coming from somebody else, as though you were perceiving someone else nearby.

    Whether or not that particular story is true, it’s a good example of a materialist explanation of seemingly compelling supernatural experiences.

    Many people believe that science has nothing to say about the supernatural, and can’t possibly explain the supernatural experiences people claim to have had. Science can’t go there, because it only studies the “natural” world.

    The actual problem we have is more nearly the opposite—it’s not that it’s hard to scientifically explain why people would have apparently supernatural experiences, it’s that it’s too easy, and it’s hard to tell which story is right.

  44. #44 BdN
    February 26, 2010

    @Paul W.

    And don’t forget the excellent Mario Beauregard…

  45. #45 Brownian, OM
    February 26, 2010

    Seriously, how do religious views illuminate scientific realm or any other realm?

    Why, much in the same way that a dark shadow makes the sunlit surroundings seem so much brighter in contrast.

    I can haz templeton priz now?

  46. #46 llewelly
    February 26, 2010

    Well. At least I have learned something new from all of this:

    ?The fellowships provide top journalists worldwide with an opportunity to engage in a rigorous and wide-ranging examination of the field of science and religion,? says Templeton?Cambridge Fellowships Co-director Fraser Watts, Reader in Theology and Science, University of Cambridge. ?With the deeper understanding that they gain through the fellowship program, these journalists will be better able to promote a more informed public discussion of science and religion.?

    Science and religion are one field. No, there is no conflict between accepting claims without evidence, and expecting evidence before accepting claims. Not only is there no conflict, they are one and the same.

  47. #47 Kyorosuke
    February 26, 2010

    llewelly @46:

    That is, until some obvious conflict between religious claims and science shows up, and then religion is about telling us the why of things but science tells us the how of it.

    Ugh, I felt dirty just writing that.

  48. #48 windy
    February 26, 2010

    Unified field theory!

  49. #49 ERV
    February 26, 2010

    Hey guys, this might be a BLESSING in DISGUISE!

    THE LORD works in MYSTERIOUS WAYS!!!

    :-D

    :-D

    :-D

  50. #50 Lynna, OM
    February 26, 2010

    Paul W., See “Eureka Hunt” by Jonah Lehrer, in The New Yorker. (excerpts from an article in the July 28, 2008 issue of The New Yorker follow):

    ?Language is so complex that the brain has to process it in two different ways at the same time,? he [Mark Jung-Beeman, a cognitive neuroscientist] said. ?It needs to see the forest and the trees. The right hemisphere is what helps you see the forest.?
         ?in 1993 Jung-Beeman heard a talk by the psychologist Jonathan Schooler on moments of insight. Schooler had demonstrated that it was possible to interfere with insight by making people explain their thought process while trying to solve a puzzle?a phenomenon he called ?verbal overshadowing? This made sense to Jung-Beeman, since the act of vebral explanation would naturally shift activity to the left hemisphere, causing people to ignore the more subtle associations coming from the right side of the brain.
         ?the resulting studies, published in 2004 and 2006, found that people who solved puzzles with insight activated a specific subset of cortical areas. Although the answer seemed to appear out of nowhere, the mind was carefully preparing itself for the breakthrough. ?The scientists refer to this as the ?preparatory phase,? since the brain is devoting its considerable computational power to the problem. The various sensory areas, like the visual cortex, go silent as the brain suppresses possible distractions.
         ?What happens next is the ?search phase,? as the brain starts looking for answers in all the relevant places. ??Almost all of the possibilities your brain comes up with are going to be wrong,? Jung-Beeman said. ?And it?s up to the executive-control areas to keep on searching or, if necessary, change strategies and start searching somewhere else.? But sometimes, just when the brain is about to give up, an insight appears. ?You?ll see people bolt up in their chair and their eyes go all wide, ? [a graduate student] said?.The suddenness of the insight comes with a burst of brain activity. Three hundred milliseconds before a participant communicates the answer, the EEG registers a spike of gamma rhythm, which is the highest electrical frequency generated by the brain. Gamma rhythm is thought to come from the ?binding? of neurons, as cells distributed across the cortex draw themselves together into a new network, which is then able to enter consciousness. it?s as if the insight had gone incandescent.
         ?Jung-Beeman argues that insight requires the brain to make a set of distant and unprecedented connections. He cites studies showing that cells in the right hemisphere are more ?broadly tuned? than cells in the left hemisphere, with longer branches and more dendritic spines. ?what this means is that neurons in the right hemisphere are collecting information from a larger area of cortical space,? Jung-Beeman said. ?They are less precise but better connected.? When the brain is searching for an insight, these are the cells that are most likely to produce it.
         ?at first, the brain lavishes the scarce resource of attention on a single problem. But, once the brain is sufficiently focused, the cortex needs to relax in order to seek out the more remote association in the right hemisphere, which will provide the insight. ?The relaxation phase is crucial,? Jung-Beeman said. ?that?s why so many insights happen during warm showers.? Another ideal moment for insights, according to the scientists, is the early morning, right after we wake up. The drowsy brain is unwound and disorganized, open to all sorts of unconventional ideas. The right hemisphere is also unusually active?.We do some of our best thinking when we?re still half asleep.
         ?the insight process is an act of cognitive deliberation?the brain must be focused on the task at hand?transformed by accidental, serendipitous connections. We must concentrate, but we must concentrate on letting the mind wander.
         ?One of the surprising lessons of this research is that trying to force an insight can actually prevent the insight. While it?s commonly assumed that the best way to solve a difficult problem is to focus, minimize distractions, and pay attention only to the relevant details, this clenched state of mind may inhibit the sort of creative connections that lead to sudden breakthroughs. We suppress the very type of brain activity that we should be encouraging.
         ?reconsider the bad reputation of letting one?s mind wander. ….a story about an expert Zen meditator who took part in one insight experiment: At first, the meditator couldn?t solve any of the insight problems?then, just as he was about to give up, he started solving one puzzle after another, until, by the end of the experiment, he was getting them all right. it was an unprecedented streak?the dramatic improvement of the Zen meditator came from his paradoxical ability to focus on not being focused, so that he could pay attention to those remote associations in the right hemisphere. He had the cognitive control to let go. He became an insight machine.
         ? On the one hand, an epiphany is a surprising event; we are startled by what we?ve just discovered. Some part of our brain, however, clearly isn?t surprised at all, which is why we are able to instantly recognize the insight.
         ?Hallucinogenic drugs are thought to work largely by modulating the prefrontal cortex, tricking the brain into believing that its sensory delusions are revelations. People have the feeling of an insight but without the content.
         ?we can instantly recognize the insight, even when it seems surprising: the brain has been concertedly pursuing the answer; we just didn?t know it. ?Your consciousness is very limited in capacity, ? [Earl Miller, a neuroscientist at M.I.T] said, ?and that?s why your prefrontal cortex makes all these plans without telling you about it.?
         ?[An] epiphany registers as a new pattern of neural activity in the prefrontal cortex. The brain cells have been altered by the breakthrough. ?An insight is a restructuring of information?it?s seeing the same old thing in a completely new way,? Miller said. ?Once that restructuring occurs, you never go back.?
         ??At a certain point, you just have to admit that your brain knows much more than you do.? [Jung-Beeman said] An insight is a fleeting glimpse of the brain?s huge store of unknown knowledge.

    To my mind, this explains a lot of the “God spoke to me” and the “revelation” phenomena.

  51. #51 WowbaggerOM
    February 26, 2010

    Perhaps with the fat wad of cash they’ve tossed him for his fawning obsequiousness he can afford to buy something strong enough to wash the taste of ass out of his mouth.

  52. #52 SC OM
    February 26, 2010

    ERV:

    ‘building bridges with antivaxers’ or ‘ladders to heaven’ or ‘rope swings to Creationists’ or whatever strategy

    :)

  53. #53 iordanov.ivan
    February 26, 2010

    Thanks Paul W. and Lynna

  54. #54 Brian English
    February 26, 2010

    Mooney is building bridges? Does this make him a pope?
    Bear with me here. The pope is called the pontif. Pontif is from the latin Pontifex which means bridge-builder. The pope like the pagan priest of Rome apparently builds a bridge between the vulgar folk and the gods. So if Mooeny is building bridges he’s a pontif. Now, the question is, is Mooney pontifex maximus or just pontifex stultus?

  55. #55 Lynna, OM
    February 26, 2010

    Whoops. I forgot the link to the article, Eureka Hunt:
    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/07/28/080728fa_fact_lehrer

    Only the abstract (pretty good abstract, though) is available online unless you already have a subscription to The New Yorker. You can get very cheap online access if you have a subscription, or you can pay for a single article.

  56. #56 Sastra
    February 26, 2010

    iordanov.ivan #33 wrote:

    That’s quite interesting Sastra, could you point at the best (or a couple) of references of these neurologists?

    I don’t have links handy right now, but I think I’m pulling on what I remember mostly from V.S. Ramachandran, especially Phantoms in the Brain, and perhaps Owen Flanagan’s Problem of the Soul, or one of the books by Oliver Sacks. The same points re the brain’s construction of the sense of self, and the feeling of significance, are found in a lot of sources. So I’ll supplement Paul W. and Lynna with these writers.

  57. #57 'Tis Himself, OM
    February 26, 2010

    Thank you, Sastra, Paul W, and Lynna for your comments and quotes on neuroscience. That’s much more interesting, to me at least, than some faitheist selling his soul for $15K.

    Note to self: Remember Paul W. for a Molly nomination.

  58. #58 Matt Penfold
    February 26, 2010

    Lynna said:

    He sold his integrity

    He did that a long time ago.

    PZ said:

    So it’s just $15K in his pocket and a nice sojourn in England. No downside from his point of view at all.

    He even gets to call himself a “fellow”, without having to actually have shown any ability in any academic discipline at all. Of course he will not be a real fellow. There are standards.

    He might also find some of the real fellows can be quite rude when confronted with silly arguments. And one thing Mooney can do is make silly arguments.

  59. #59 Matt Penfold
    February 26, 2010

    I have just thought of another upside, albeit one requiring Mooney be able to learn.

    When in the UK he might notice that the media and politicians, and most of the public have no time for creationism and indeed find it laughable. He might also notice that the message coming from scientists about evolution is the same as in the US. He then might, just might, realise that if the scientific message is the same, but public, political and media acceptance of evolution is higher than in the US, then it is not the message coming from scientists that is likely to be the problem. He might, although I doubt it, then realise blaming scientists for America’s lack of scientific literacy is silly.

  60. #60 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawnb-E55g7vrnvH-3L1M6d7QuDYWoM_IDEM
    February 26, 2010

    I wonder how long it will be until Mooney renounces atheism and claims he has found a belief in some sort of deity.

    He already thinks that he is the one true God.

  61. #61 speedweasel
    February 26, 2010

    A little background on that: a lot of data being transferred across the brain is apparently tagged as a result of external perception, or as a result of internal imagination

    Sastra, are these ‘external’ thoughts tagged E1 or E2?

    50 Internet points for nerds who get the OSPF joke.

  62. #62 speedweasel
    February 26, 2010

    Sorry,

    That quote was from Paul W. I read something awesomely interesting and assumed Sastra wrote it.

    Apologies to Paul W.

  63. #63 david.utidjian
    February 26, 2010

    I second the thanks to Paul W, Sastra, and Lynna. Good stuff and interesting reading. Paul W is def on my Molly nominations list.

    -DU-

  64. #64 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    February 26, 2010

    John Horgan’s Edge essay on his after-the-fact misgivings about taking Templeton journalism money is worth revisiting:

    http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/horgan06/horgan06_index.html

  65. #65 Gwydion Suilebhan
    February 26, 2010

    I like Mooney’s podcasts.

  66. #66 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    February 26, 2010

    I like Mooney’s podcasts.

    That’s nice. You also seem to be offended that anyone would criticize him, since you had to express Concern (TM) on another thread that PZ was taking “cheap shots” at Mooney. Do you have any idea why no one here has any respect for his ethics? Do you know any of the backstory?

    Wanna know what’s cheap? Mooney. Prostituting his intellect and ethics (what may remain of them) for the Templeton Foundation.

  67. #67 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 26, 2010

    I like Mooney’s podcasts.

    YAY!!!!

    oh wait, nevermind.

  68. #68 Ichthyic
    February 26, 2010

    books on brain neuroscience by newberg:

    http://www.andrewnewberg.com/books.asp

  69. #69 Ichthyic
    February 26, 2010

    …all seemingly coming from a very Templeton-like direction of trying to confirm religious bias built into brains for religious purposes.

    hence titles like:

    “How God changes your Brain”

    parsimonious they are not.

  70. #70 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawmEnhXgNJLXU9AsPGfYZTtwCttEiiRDhYA
    February 26, 2010

    #69: What do you expect? Newberg is a Templeton yes-man and most of his papers have been published in Zygon. Go figure.

  71. #71 gillt
    February 26, 2010

    Paul #43

    That’s exactly the conclusion I reached after reading Horgan’s “Rational Mysticism.”

  72. #72 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawmEnhXgNJLXU9AsPGfYZTtwCttEiiRDhYA
    February 26, 2010

    Actually, looks like he’s updated his ‘publications’ page quite a bit since I last saw it.

    Still, a woo-meister extraordinaire.

  73. #73 Miranda Celeste Hale
    February 27, 2010

    Is he going to be posting about this? I guess I’d have a tiny bit (a super mega tiny bit, but, still) of respect for him if he would, at the very, very least, be upfront about his Templeton whoring and other similar activities.

  74. #74 Caine
    February 27, 2010

    a.debaser @ 32:

    @#6

    More like “you accommodate me, you really really accommodate me!”

    You’re absolutely right. Unfortunately, I can picture that. I need brain bleach.

  75. #75 Matt Penfold
    February 27, 2010

    Is he going to be posting about this? I guess I’d have a tiny bit (a super mega tiny bit, but, still) of respect for him if he would, at the very, very least, be upfront about his Templeton whoring and other similar activities.

    I thought it rather odd there was nothing at The Intersection about this. Mooney is not normally reticent in promoting himself.

  76. #76 llewelly
    February 27, 2010

    Matt Penfold | February 27, 2010 5:19 AM:

    I thought it rather odd there was nothing at The Intersection about this. Mooney is not normally reticent in promoting himself.

    Well, let us wait a few days. Perhaps his time is taken up by more pressing obligations. Perhaps he’s working on an especially high quality article on it.

    (I keep hoping, perhaps without just cause, that he has not yet posted out of a sense of shame.)

  77. #77 Sigmund
    February 27, 2010

    What has Cross Money done now?

  78. #78 Kel, OM
    February 27, 2010

    I’ve been thinking about this, and I’ve got to say even though I’ve been pretty negative about Mooney’s comments, I fully support his actions. I want him to success, I really wish that his tactics will work. And that’s just it though, it’s little more than hope. I honestly don’t think that he’s going down a successful path, and while he’s taking the “holier than thou” attitude towards conciliation all he’s doing is putting the people who share the same goals as him offside.

    Good luck to him, I really hope he succeeds. We need someone to, and if indeed he can then I’ll be right behind him and his methodology.

  79. #79 Tulse
    February 27, 2010

    Jerry Coyne pointed out that this fellowship is not just awarded, but candidates have to actually apply. In other words, unlike the Templeton Prize, where anyone can nominate you, for the fellowship you have to actively seek it out. The fellowship isn’t something that was unknowingly bestowed on Mooney — he sought it out, which to me makes it much much worse.

  80. #80 Aaron Baker
    February 27, 2010

    Not really on-topic, except it’s about another person selling his integrity, and it’s a wonderful illustration of how much better the Brits do snark than anyone else:

    Craig Murray, former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan had this to say about Sting and his 1 million pounds plus singing deal with the Uzbek regime: http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2010/02/stings_defence.html It’s worth reading for the update alone:
    ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
    Sting has come out with a spirited defence of his visit to Tashkent as the guest of Karimov’s daughter:

    ‘I supported wholeheartedly the cultural boycott of South Africa under the apartheid regime because it was a special case and specifically targeted the younger demographic of the ruling white middle class.

    ‘I am well aware of the Uzbek president?s appalling reputation in the field of human rights as well as the environment. I made the decision to play there in spite of that.

    ‘I have come to believe that cultural boycotts are not only pointless gestures, they are counter-productive, where proscribed states are further robbed of the open commerce of ideas and art and as a result become even more closed, paranoid and insular.

    ‘I seriously doubt whether the President of Uzbekistan cares in the slightest whether artists like myself come to play in his [words missing]’

    But this really is transparent bollocks. He did not take a guitar and jam around the parks of Tashkent. He got paid over a million pounds to play an event specifically designed to glorify a barbarous regime. Is the man completely mad?

    Why does he think it was worth over a million quid to the regime to hear him warble a few notes?

    I agree with him that cultural isolation does not help. I am often asked about the morality of going to Uzbekistan, and I always answer – go, mix with ordinary people, tell them about other ways of life, avoid state owned establishments and official tours. What Sting did was the opposite. To invoke Unicef as a cover, sat next to a woman who has made hundreds of millions from state forced child labour in the cotton fields, is pretty sick.

    Next time you see Sumner on television warbling on about his love for the rain forest, switch him off.

    UPDATE

    A commenter suggested a boycott of Sting’s music. I was going to agree, but on reflection it would take an enormous effort to track down someone who listens to it, before we could ask them to stop.
    ”””””””””””””””””””’

  81. #81 geoffmovies
    February 27, 2010

    Chris Mooney is the Jay Leno of skepticism. By the simple act of not offending anyone, and by trying to be nice, he ends up being a total ass hole.

  82. #82 geoffmovies
    February 27, 2010

    … and not very skeptical.

  83. #83 Paul W.
    February 27, 2010

    Mooney has posted about this now. He says he didn’t know he’d gotten selected until about the time we did—there was no advance announcement to the “Fellows.”

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