Pharyngula

I shall be no friend to the appeasers

I’m in trouble now — I have drawn the ire of Massimo Pigliucci. I’d be chagrined if it weren’t such an ineffectual criticism that is mainly Pigliucci doing a little foot-shooting. I’ve also annoyed Ronald Lindsay of the CFI (as well as several other people associated with CFI), but his criticism is even feebler. Somehow, CFI has the idea that ferocious criticism of CFI staff is to be discouraged — because we are generally on the same side, we’re apparently supposed to be in solidarity on everything.

That’s not going to happen. I support the CFI; I criticize the CFI. I also support the NCSE; and I criticize the NCSE. If you’re on the side of science, reason, skepticism, etc., all the good stuff I value, that doesn’t mean you can expect me to complacently go along with everything you say (and vice versa, of course). The whole idea that advocates for critical thinking get an extra-special free pass from criticism with hearts and unicorns on it, just because we share common goals, is the antithesis of critical thought. Am I going to continue to be mean and cruel and judgmental against even my own allies? Hell, yes.

There’s a cliche that I hear all the time, and that I despise because it is so trite — organizing atheists is like herding cats. I die a little inside every time I hear it because it is so old, but also because it is inaccurate. Everyone seems to picture masses of willful domestic cats wanting to scurry off to play with yarn or chase down mice; it’s just not right. Organizing atheists is like herding lions, or at least ideally it should be. What we want is a community of fiercely independent, roaring, wrestling, arguing, fighting freethinkers; cross them, and you will get rhetorically mauled, and our battles are not about polite batting about with little kitty paws at issues, but should involve claws and fangs and uncompromising forcefulness. Everyone who is complaining that the harshness of the debate degrades the discourse, get stuffed; I think the call to weaken the vigor of the disagreement is the real degradation here.

But back to Pigliucci. I am deeply underwhelmed. His entire complaint is about goddamned tone; he even advises me to look up rational thoughtful discourse in the dictionary, as if I should be swayed by bloodless definitions. He also trots out dictionary definitions of some of the insulting terms I used, as I was unaware of their meaning, or needed some reminder that they were perhaps a bit excessive. Nope. I knew what they meant and meant what I said. De Dora was foolish, stupid, lacking in strength of character, and indulging in masturbatory sloppiness while contributing to the cause of the enemies of reason. I’m not backing down because Pigliucci has a dictionary.

What this is actually about is that De Dora is a personal friend of Pigliucci’s, a contributor to his blog, and he is part of the administration at CFI. We apparently are supposed to be nice to such connected people. Sorry, but you don’t get to be stupid because you have friends in high places. Pigliucci seems to understand this, because he feels free to insult me (or perhaps my friends aren’t quite high enough), and it undermines his whole argument; it is silly to make a high-minded complaint that I used insulting words against a friend while using plenty of insults against me…which is fine, by the way, it just means that his principled argument about tone and form is a load of horsepuckey.

So forget the whole complaint about tone. Let’s deal with the substance. This is where we differ, and where I think De Dora is an idiot. This is all about a dunderheaded creationist complaining about a textbook that called his superstition a “myth”. Here’s the full quote from the book, Tobin and Dusheck’s Asking About Life(amzn/b&n/abe/pwll):

In the 1970s and 1980s, antievolutionists in Arkansas, Tennessee and Louisiana passed identical bills calling for “equal time” for teaching evolution and creationism, the biblical myth that the universe was created by the Judeo-Christian god in six days. But a court ruled that the “equal-time” bill was unconstitutional on the grounds that it violated the separation of church and state.

And to put it in perspective, that was a small part of a two page section of the text that summarizes the legal history of efforts to keep creationism out of the public schools. It is not a book that condemns Christianity, carries on a crusade to abolish religion, or calls believers delusional; it is moderate, entirely polite in tone (praise Jesus! It meets the most important criterion of the faitheists!), and plainly describes an entirely relevant legal and social issue for biologists in non-judgmental terms. It does use the accurate, factual term “myth” for what creationists are peddling, and that’s as harsh as it gets. It is exactly what the less rude proponents of evolution teaching should want.

But no. All it takes is one indignant creationist (One! Who doesn’t even get any headway with the local schoolboard!) to complain, and what kind of support does a reasonable and polite statement in a textbook get from the intellectual cowards — a phrase I use in complete awareness of the meaning of each word, thank you very much — who want to run away from any conflict? De Dora whines, ‘well, he has a point’. Pigliucci makes a worthless complaint about knowing our epistemological boundaries, implying that the statement of fact in Tobin and Dusheck is a violation of the separation of church and state. On one side, a creationist who is offended that a science textbook is not sufficiently deferential towards his superstition; on the other, science, which refutes his claims at every step, and a textbook which lists court cases and says that creationism is a myth. In the middle, De Dora and Pigliucci, siding with the creationist.

If a science teacher can’t even flatly state that the earth is 4.5 billion years old, not 6000, because philosophers will complain about epistomological boundaries, we’re doomed. If the effect of biology on society can’t even be mentioned in a textbook, then the relevance of the science is being sacrificed on the altar of religious submission. Getting enmired in these pointless philosophical “subtleties” when the facts are staring you in the face is a recipe for the further gutting of science education in this country.

We don’t need to teach atheism in the science classroom — and I’ve said often enough that I don’t, and don’t endorse such activities — but we do need to be forthright about the conclusions of science. We cannot give religion so much unwarranted privilege that it is treated as a special category, in which the pronouncements of faith may not be contradicted at all, in even the mildest, politest manner, by a science teacher…but this is precisely what De Dora and Pigliucci are advocating when they rush to support a young-earth creationist who objects to any discussion of the social context of evolutionary biology. I guarantee you that Kurt Zimmerman was not exercising subtle thinking and thoughtfully contemplating the inappropriateness of a specific epistomological issue in his kid’s textbook. He was being an ignorant ass, nothing more.

I’m afraid Michael De Dora is not fighting the same battles I am. I read a number of his articles, and his biggest concern seems to be running away from any confrontation, making excuses for the other side, and suggesting that the people in the front lines who are smacking around our opponents are making way too much noise. He’s not on my side at all, but seems to be helping the other guys far more. And suggesting that I shouldn’t treat him as a nuisance and a collaborator with nonsense because he’s somebody’s friend is not going to hold me back at all.

Comments

  1. #1 Glen Davidson
    April 16, 2010

    De Dora has just about perfected being annoying. A pedant who gets almost nothing right, from the 1st Amendment and its interpretation by the courts, to what a word like “myth” even means.

    And Pigliucci is coming altogether too close to Mike’s level of petty carping.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p

  2. #2 Shala
    April 16, 2010

    he een advises me

    How very sniny of you.

  3. #3 marcus
    April 16, 2010

    Please Sir, step away from the dictionary. I have a thesaurus and I know how to use it!

  4. #4 Feynmaniac
    April 16, 2010

    Pigliucci,

    So that we are crystal clear on just how low these ad hominem (a logical fallacy!) attacks go

    Then again, it is precisely this sort of theatrics that apparently makes him so popular, as nothing gets people?s attention on the internet so much as shouting as LOUDLY as possible, regardless of the vacuity of what one is actually saying.

    The other point that Michael raised, and that PZ loathes, is the one about the epistemological boundaries of science. I have written on this recently, so I will not revisit the issue except to add two quick points: first off, I really wish that scientists who write about philosophy would bother to take epistemology 101

    Mooney’s Law:

    When someone criticizes an opponent for incivility it is almost certain that during the process they will be even more uncivil.

  5. #5 eeanm
    April 16, 2010

    The word ‘myth’ has an academic meaning which just means any religious story. That’s all that was meant here. So I’d argue that it wasn’t harsh at all.

    Granted if I was an editor of the book I would probably substitute ‘Biblical story’ for ‘Biblical myth’, since myth also means a falsehood. This probably wouldn’t matter for the father or his appeasers though.

  6. #6 sinz54
    April 16, 2010

    Unfortunately, one of the dictionary definitions of the word “myth” is “an unfounded or false notion.”

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/myth

    If the textbook had said “tale” instead of “myth,” there could have been no objection.

    It’s so generous of you to say that you don’t want to see atheism advocated in public school, since that would be violating the U.S. Constitution anyway.

    This whole problem could be fixed with a pencil slash. If that sentence were removed from the textbook, what argument would there be against the rest of the textbook? Has anyone objected to teaching the Theory of Evolution per se in science class, perhaps with a revised textbook or other textbook?

    Here’s a simple solution. Contact the authors of the textbook and get them to send a letter in which they state that they NEVER intended to assert that any religion is false; that they were using the word “myth” in its other sense as “a popular belief or tradition.” That letter will act as an Erratum to correct the poor wording.

    A copy of that letter can be supplied to any concerned parents.

    And both sides can stop their ranting and raving.

  7. #7 Matt Penfold
    April 16, 2010

    PZ said:

    Sorry, but you don’t get to be stupid because you have friends in high places.

    I think De Dora is quite capable of being stupid without any help.

  8. #8 Paul
    April 16, 2010

    I feel the need to point out again, regarding what Feynmaniac quoted, we have a Professor of Philosophy misusing “ad hominem” just like a thousand other piss-poor internet tone trolls a day. I really hope his students don’t read his blog. That’s got to be embarrassing.

  9. #9 Shala
    April 16, 2010

    If the textbook had said “tale” instead of “myth,” there could have been no objection.

    I think the guy still would have been offended. They want their bible to be objective fact and all. They will settle for nothing less than “the facts of creationism”.

  10. #10 nathaniel.tagg
    April 16, 2010

    Eeanm (#5):

    Yes, ‘myth’ means falsehood. But as PZ points out, this was in a biology text… presumably a text that made reference to the evolutionary timescale. Implicitly, they’ve already called Genesis a myth. The only thing that the headcase in TN objects to is that they _explicitly_ called it myth, which is just dumb.

    Moreover, do you think that the aforementioned headcase would have been mollified by the word “story”, which implies “fictional story”? No – he would only have been satisfied by ‘explanation’ or ‘truth’.

  11. #11 toth
    April 16, 2010

    @6: “Here’s a simple solution. Contact the authors of the textbook and get them to send a letter in which they state that they NEVER intended to assert that any religion is false; that they were using the word “myth” in its other sense as “a popular belief or tradition.” That letter will act as an Erratum to correct the poor wording.”

    Or, you know, we could ignore the raving creationist loon who insists on whining about any perceived slight to his superstition, and not require publishers to consider every possible inane objection that some asshole could make.

  12. #12 PZ Myers
    April 16, 2010

    NO. The definition, “an unfounded or false notion”, still means that the authors were using an entirely accurate word.

    I do not endorse mealy-mouthed fussing over words with the intent of accommodating freaking morons. The authors should stand their ground, pointing out that that is an entirely accurate word in all of its meanings, and that retreating because ignoramuses want to shelter their superstitions from even a hint of rational assessment is simply pandering.

  13. #13 irenedelse
    April 16, 2010

    “Organizing atheists is like herding lions, or at least ideally it should be.”

    No, not ideally, please. As a female atheist AND a fan of big felines, I dislike the zoological implications. Aren’t there important differences between the comportment of both sexes in lions? The females hanging around together for cooperation and protection, and males being either a sheik with his harem, or (when they are young) roaming the land in bands like hooligans.

    I’d rather say that organizing atheists is like herding tigers. Now, those are your ideal fierce, independant felines!

    /end semi-serious rant
    ;-)

  14. #14 Roestigraben
    April 16, 2010

    “Myth” is simply a correct description for a nonfactual account of history, religious or otherwise. If the word has negative connotations, well duh, that’s because it labels a story as something that should not be confused with accurate historiography. Of course, people who erroneously, yet strongly believe that there’s something more to that story will be offended by that description, but why should that be a First Amendment violation? Does it say anywhere that the government must refrain from using any language that could be understood as a criticism of religious beliefs?

  15. #15 Matt Penfold
    April 16, 2010

    Unfortunately, one of the dictionary definitions of the word “myth” is “an unfounded or false notion.”

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/myth

    If the textbook had said “tale” instead of “myth,” there could have been no objection.

    Is it really too much to expect children to understand the concept of context, and that the meaning of words can vary depending on the context in which they are used ? It is also too much to expect children to understand that in a textbook the meanings of words are less likely to be the colloquial ones ?

  16. #16 Ronald A. Lindsay
    April 16, 2010

    PZ: Please characterize what I said accurately. I never said you, or anyone else, should not criticize CFI. In fact, if you read my post, I emphasized that Michael’s views, just like anyone else’s views, are propely subject to close examination and criticism. What I did do was object to portions of your criticism as unwarranted.

  17. #17 Glen Davidson
    April 16, 2010

    Yes, fortunately or unfortunately most substitutes for “myth” can be taken ill as well, including words like “tale” or “story”. In this context, “tale” and “story” sound about as false as “myth” does, but “myth” in the academic sense tends to suggest that it at least has some sort of value. “Tale” or “story” might sound even worse, really, except to the truly ignorant.

    “Creation account” would not sound like some false story, however it connotes the idea that it might actually be an account of a historical event. Which is not the truth.

    Of course “myth” can mean “unfounded” or “false.” It just doesn’t in the text or in the court rulings.

    I wouldn’t mind a footnote explaining that fact in the textbook, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that would receive an objection as well, in the “methinks he doth protest too much” sense. Which would have less to do with what the footnote said than the fact that the Genesis story really is unfounded and false–unless, of course, it is understood as a myth, in which case it is not necessarily either one (although it could be, I would argue).

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p

  18. #18 Cuttlefish, OM
    April 16, 2010

    “Like herding cats!” … and PZ sighed:
    “No–herding lions, he claimed… with pride.

  19. #19 kiyaroru
    April 16, 2010

    re: cat herding

    If we (atheist, sceptics, free-thinkers, etc.) were to “organise” in the sense that the faithists seem to mean, the accusation that “Atheism is a religion.” would become true.

    Chaos is our friend.

  20. #20 Feynmaniac
    April 16, 2010

    Pigliucci makes a worthless complaint about knowing our epistemological boundaries,

    This reminds me of listener on another thread claiming that evaluating the supernatural was beyond the scope of science and yet saying there was a rational basis to dismiss these claims. The lines some people draw between what is science and what isn’t are often arbitrary. Look, I’m not saying there aren’t boundaries or limitations. However, as far as I can see, how some decide what is or isn’t “science” seems not so much grounded on a rational basis, but on a system based on making a political compromise to appease the religious.

  21. #21 Matt Penfold
    April 16, 2010

    If the textbook had said “tale” instead of “myth,” there could have been no objection.

    I just checked the definition of tale in the same dictionary you used for the definition of myth.

    A couple of the definitions of tale are:

    A usually imaginative narrative of an event

    and

    An intentionally untrue report.

    Not much of an improvement by your own standards.

  22. #22 irenedelse
    April 16, 2010

    @ sinz54 #6:

    Unfortunately, one of the dictionary definitions of the word “myth” is “an unfounded or false notion.”

    Well, that’s one of the definitions, not the only one. So Mr. Zimmermann and Michael De Dora are interpreting the “myth” word in the textbook in the most negative way, as meaning an intentional falsehood, or that creationists want to deceive people. But in the context, this is not what was intended. As myth means also a story with symbolic or philosophic value, or a traditional, pre-scientific tale about nature, it can be understood as saying simply that creationnist theories are not scientific, without any moral judgment attached.

    However, some people still want to see an attack of religion here…

    This strikes me as remarkably similar to the initial ruling in the Simon Singh case: the judge said that by “happily endorse bogus treatments”, Singh meant that the British Chiropractic Association was intentionally deceiving their clients. Even though his article was simply about the fact that their treatments don’t work and that the BCA still wanted to follow their traditions and not the findings of science.

  23. #23 Scott Hatfield, OM
    April 16, 2010

    PZ, I actually have no problem with the word ‘myth’ nor of your criticism of De Dora. But I do think that there is a problem with the disputed text’s definition of creationism: it’s sectarian.

    After all, we know darn well that there are varieties of creationism that don’t involve ‘the Judeo-Christian God’ or which don’t stipulate that the world was made in six literal days. Why import those particulars into a definition? It’s not only inaccurate, it’s easy to see how such a definition would be especially provocative that hold those views.

    Imagine if the text in question read this way:

    In the 1970s and 1980s, antievolutionists in Arkansas, Tennessee and Louisiana passed identical bills calling for “equal time” for teaching the science of evolution with some version of creationism, a religious doctrine often based on a literal interpretation of the Bible. But a court ruled that the “equal-time” bill was unconstitutional on the grounds that it violated the separation of church and state.

    I suspect this would pass muster with the accomodationists. My point of view is not to make conflict go away, but simply to pick your battles carefully. As a public school teacher, I’ll defend evolution all day long, but I want to avoid anything that could be seen as a criticism of some particular sect.

  24. #24 Sastra
    April 16, 2010

    I Found this quote in my files:

    Freethinkers are] a motley mob of deists, agnostics, secular humanists, pantheists, atheists, and who knows what else, and organizing seems to be against our nature. We have to resist that; we have to be willing to work together while recognizing the diversity of perspectives under the umbrella of freethought, and treat that variety as a strength rather than a weakness.
    –P.Z Myers

    I don’t see this as contradicting what PZ wrote above — but I would suggest one small change. I think that, instead of saying “I shall be no friend to the appeasers,” it would be more accurate for PZ to write “I shall be no friend to appeasement.”

    The whole point, is that we can disagree — even violently — with people on one issue, and that doesn’t have to spill over into every other issue. We can agree and work together on other issues. And we can still be friends, on a social level. Insults regarding a line of reasoning or argument are not physical or personal attacks.

    I would love to see PZ having lunch with De Dora, Ron Lindsey, and Massimo Pigliucci at the CFI convention, all of them swapping stories and ideas and advice, laughing heartily the whole time. And, next time there is a disagreement, back to the name-calling and mud-slinging. That’s the way healthy debate works.

    I suspect PZ would think that fun, also — though I guess I don’t know. Would you want to lunch with them, if it wasn’t for the purpose of apologizing or explaining, but just because they’re fine fellows with some fine ideas, anyway?

  25. #25 ambook
    April 16, 2010

    “Organizing atheists is like herding lions, or at least ideally it should be.”

    Anyone who thinks that herding cats is easy has not spent ANY time with them. They’re not social, they’re barely trainable, and they can go from furry and purring to vicious and spitting in the blink of an eye. They’re more like deceptively small and cute tigers than lions. Just like the opinionated people here.

    I think it would be great if we could have polite conversations about differences of opinion. It would be nice to have some truly secular space where we could agree on common values (don’t steal, don’t drive Hummers, don’t toss your Happy Meal wrappers out the window, don’t impose your imaginary speeding car worries on me, etc.). The problem is that it is impossible to have polite conversations with those who oppose the teaching of the e-word. It’s like they’ve adopted “I reject your reality and substitute my own” as a guiding principle instead of a funny bumpersticker, and if you disagree with them, however gently, they go all spitting and vicious on you. So if they’re going to behave like cats, so should we…

  26. #26 TransHero
    April 16, 2010

    Malicious. Relentless. Unstoppable. Subtle.

    Guess which of these words best represents this latest installment of Dr. Myers’s infamous blog? And guess which one(s) his opponent’s will use claim, all the while chastising him for even TOUCHING on the subject?

    A riveting piece of work that sets apart the clear distinctions. For many, the separation of creationism from science is a shades-of-grey issue – and we can draw SOME strength in that (i.e. Catholics, Jews, Buddhists, etc who will mandate that their spiritual beliefs are NOT science). For others, it’s Black or White. For once, the “There are no absolutes” idea seems to make sense.

    I only wish I had the resolve, but I do enough thank you. For now, I can just concentrate on my Evo Psych exam and wallop the defecable material out of it. Should be easy enough.

  27. #27 Kraid
    April 16, 2010

    Here I thought that “myth” was actually a fairly charitable word, no snark intended. Myths need not be factually correct (and they usually aren’t), but they can still be very powerful, meaningful, instructive, etc. See also Joseph Campbell. The only people who should be offended by the word are those who insist that their myths be accepted as factual truths… and those people are lost to reason anyway.

    So yeah, the creation story in Genesis is a myth. Myths are cool, and sometimes they’re widely known, but don’t take them literally. Is it just me, or is this is really basic stuff?

  28. #28 Matt Penfold
    April 16, 2010

    Here I thought that “myth” was actually a fairly charitable word, no snark intended. Myths need not be factually correct (and they usually aren’t), but they can still be very powerful, meaningful, instructive, etc. See also Joseph Campbell. The only people who should be offended by the word are those who insist that their myths be accepted as factual truths… and those people are lost to reason anyway.

    Myth is an entirely appropriate word. It is clearly being used in the formal, academic, sense. Since the book is a textbook I cannot see the problem.

    Unless people dislike academic books using academic meanings of words.

  29. #29 eeanm
    April 16, 2010

    #25 @ambook PZ wasn’t claiming that cat herding was easy, only that it wasn’t as (metaphorically) life threatening as coordinating atheists should be.

  30. #30 PZ Myers
    April 16, 2010

    irenedelse: I actually thought about using tigers in my analogy, rather than lions. What swayed me, though, is that in lions, the males are the flashy ones that get all the attention, while the females do all the work and get less credit…which actually fits the current state of the atheist movement better, unfortunately. We should aspire to be tigers, though, you are right.

    Scott, of course the statement is sectarian. The creationism, being discussed, the version defeated in the court cases discussed, is sectarian.

    Sastra, if I were smiling in a lunch with De Dora, it would because smiling is just an expression that bares my fangs. I would hope that face-to-face I could be just as vicious in my criticisms.

    Ronald Lindsay: I disagree. Every word of my criticism is, in my opinion, entirely warranted. And most of the defenses I’ve seen of De Dora go out of their way to mention their personal association with the guy. There is definitely an impression that you are closing ranks to protect one of your own.

  31. #31 Bill Shipley
    April 16, 2010

    You said that “I’m afraid Michael De Dora is not fighting the same battles I am.” You are wrong. You should have said that “I’m afraid Michael De Dora is not fighting our common battles using the same strategies and weapons that I am.”
    This is the heart of the matter. Which strategies and weapons will be most successful in winning the war? Are you more interested in winning or in fighting? Neither you, nor De Dora, will be able to convince an ardent fundamentalist to change his mind and so the battle must be fought elsewhere in order to win the war. The battle must be won by convincing the majority of people who are religious but not hard core, and such people will not be convinced if you spend your time gratuitously insulting them. If simply changing “creation myth” to “creation story” before explaining why “creation” is wrong will avoid having such people ignore or oppose you, and if you still refuse to do this, then I can only conclude that you are more interested in the fight than in winning the war.

  32. #32 Matt Penfold
    April 16, 2010

    You said that “I’m afraid Michael De Dora is not fighting the same battles I am.” You are wrong.

    PZ wants to see good quality science teaching in US classrooms that does not pander to the religious sensibilities of students, parents, politicians or religious leaders.

    De Dora has made it clear he does not have the goal.

  33. #33 abb3w
    April 16, 2010

    PZ: It does use the accurate, factual term “myth” for what creationists are peddling, and that’s as harsh as it gets.

    Well, aside that this is in the specific context of the SCOTUS “equal time case”, which (a dilligent researcher might notice) is Edwards v. Aguillard, the dissent of which associates “myth” with having “serious scientific problems”.

    Which is still accurate and factual, if a hair harsher.

    However, most high school students won’t be motivated enough to make that connection.

  34. #34 CJO
    April 16, 2010

    Scott,
    In the 1970s and 1980s, antievolutionists in Arkansas, Tennessee and Louisiana passed identical bills calling for “equal time” for teaching the science of evolution with some version of creationism, a religious doctrine often based on a literal interpretation of the Bible.

    But it wasn’t “some version,” it was sectarian, hard-line, unreconstructed Young Earth Creationism, based on nothing if not a literal reading of a handful of chapters from one text: the Bible. If they’re going to have the little aside about the history of the matter in the book, how can you justify making it obfuscatory? Tell what happened, or leave it out. Your version doesn’t tell what happened, it implies that “some version” of what happened might have sort of happened, if you squint at it in a certain way.

    Yes, it’s sectarian. Some sects of Christianity are absolutely committed to putting their doctrines square in the sights of empirical falsification. That’s not science’s problem, and no fault should adhere to teachers and textbook authors who tell the truth about both the empirical facts and he history of the attempts to have them officially suppressed.

  35. #35 The Bible is Useless
    April 16, 2010

    Although Massimo and a few of the other CFI bloggers have jumped to De Dora’s defense (And P.Z.’s condemnation!), the comments seem to be overwhelmingly, and surprisingly civilly, calling him out on being disingenuous and intellectually dishonest. I find it telling that a few very legitimate questions and criticisms were leveled at De Dora in the comments, and have been pretty steadfastly ignored, but much energy has been spent attacking P.Z. for his incivility.

    They should thank him for providing such an effective smokescreen to hide behind.

  36. #36 Roestigraben
    April 16, 2010

    Bill #31, please explain how someone who needs to be told that the Genesis myth is wrong is “religious, but not hard core”. People who still hold such beliefs as adults are beyond rational discourse, as I’m sure anybody who’s ever met and debated a creationist will confirm. This is all about giving children an education that will prevent them from falling for such silly notions, and if school textbooks aren’t allowed from using any vocabulary that would directly imply these stories have absolutely no factual basis, it’s going to be that much harder.

  37. #37 somewhereingreece
    April 16, 2010

    Anyone who thinks that herding cats is easy has not spent ANY time with them. They’re not social, they’re barely trainable, and they can go from furry and purring to vicious and spitting in the blink of an eye. They’re more like deceptively small and cute tigers than lions. Just like the opinionated people here.

    Thank you ambrook. I will always defend the expression “herding cats”, as cats can be very vicious and they, unlike their larger counterparts, are everywhere.

  38. #38 ambook
    April 16, 2010

    irenedelse: I actually thought about using tigers in my analogy, rather than lions. What swayed me, though, is that in lions, the males are the flashy ones that get all the attention, while the females do all the work and get less credit…which actually fits the current state of the atheist movement better, unfortunately. We should aspire to be tigers, though, you are right.

    Actually, when you put it that way, I like the lion metaphor more. Given our ancestry as social animals, humans are pretty unlikely to be able to become solitary predators in significantly large numbers, and I’d rather there be large numbers of freethinkers, even if the male ones are more visible. Gotta start somewhere – is there a group called “Mothers for Atheism?”

  39. #39 irenedelse
    April 16, 2010

    @ PZ Myers #30:

    Thank you, sir. And of course, the analogy can be pushed further: male lions are necessary to the herd to bring down the bigger game with their superior muscle strength. Similarly, the atheist movement has a few famous male atheists whose specialty is going after big name religionists (and their apologists) with their hugely popular blogs. Not to mention the horde of minions, of course! ;-)

  40. #40 Roestigraben
    April 16, 2010

    Sorry, that should read “…aren’t allowed to use any vocabulary…”

  41. #41 somewhereingreece
    April 16, 2010

    I apologise, I messed up with the blockquote tags. That ought to teach me to review before I submit

  42. #42 PZ Myers
    April 16, 2010

    The main reason I dislike the “herding cats” phrase isn’t that cats are easy to herd — it’s because it has become such an awful cliche. Since I’m often talking about organizing atheists, I hear it just about everywhere I go, and I have grown to detest it. Let’s think of something new to say, OK?

  43. #43 mrscrud
    April 16, 2010

    Y’all can be lions, I wanna be a jaguar.

  44. #44 Tyro
    April 16, 2010

    So that we are crystal clear on just how low these ad hominem (a logical fallacy!) attacks go

    Of course the whining pedant doesn’t talk about the definition of “ad hominem” which would require that PZ dismissed De Dora’s comments because of his extreme levels masturbation, which he didn’t do. No, PZ called him a bunch of names and demolished the content of the argument. Insulting your opponent isn’t a logical fallacy by itself, it can also be light entertainment.

    But, you know, maybe Pigliucci was so focused on looking up ‘wanker’ in the dictionary, he forgot to look up ‘ad hominem’ as well. Maybe he should brush up on some philosophy himself.

  45. #45 Celtic_Evolution
    April 16, 2010

    Are you more interested in winning or in fighting?

    Oh, FFS, here we go…

    I would wager what he’s interested in is the truth and rational, reasoned logic. The insistence that “winning” only comes through “not offending” is a totally unsupported notion, frankly.

    To a reasoned, rational person that is not simply trying to protect his religious belief foundation, there is nothing remotely offensive in the textbook. Quibble over the use of the word “myth” all you want… whether a better word could have been chosen does not be default make the use of the word “myth” inappropriate.

    What the fuck is wrong with you faitheists? What we should be doing, in loud and proud unison, is decrying the antics of a moron like Zimmerman as unnecessary claptrap, and distracting from the fact that we are so far behind the rest of the world in the sciences because of deference to stupid fucking minutia like this. Where’s De Dora’s blog post howling at that notion?

    If simply changing “creation myth” to “creation story” before explaining why “creation” is wrong will avoid having such people ignore or oppose you, and if you still refuse to do this, then I can only conclude that you are more interested in the fight than in winning the war.

    Again, where is your evidence that this would somehow appease Zimmerman or any other religious person or group? I’ve seen no evidence that this would be the case.

    Let me ask you something? How do you win a “war” you’re too fucking afraid to engage in? And has anyone ever won a “war” without actually fighting? Do you think the religious side is afraid of insulting or confronting us?

    Please show me the evidence that supports the idea that “playing nice” will gain us any ground.

  46. #46 CJO
    April 16, 2010

    If you insist on teaching your children falsehoods– that the earth is flat, that “Man” is not a product of evolution by natural selection–then you must expect, at the very least, that those of us who have freedom of speech will feel free to describe your teachings as the spreading of falsehoods, and will attempt to demonstrate this to your children at our earliest opportunity. Our future well-being–the well-being of all of us on the planet–depends on the education of our descendants.

    –Daniel Dennett, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea

  47. #47 stevieinthecity#9dac9
    April 16, 2010

    I’m a panther damn it.

  48. #48 Victor
    April 16, 2010

    As far as I see it, modern science, with it’s evidence based stance, pretty much invalidates the entire philosophy of epistemology. From a scientific standpoint, there are right and wrong answers, as well as ones we just have to accept an agnostic stance about. The ancient Hebrew creation myth, however, is not one of them. There may be a moral lesson or two there, but it’s still a myth. To claim it’s not would be to claim literal truth in it. And, if anyone wants to believe that the stars are affixed in the firmament of the heavens like light bulbs screwed into a ceiling fixture, then good luck to them. But, don’t claim to be a scientist. In fact, mythology is the only saving factor in the Genesis 1 story. If it’s not a myth, it’s completely useless outdated “ancient knowledge”.

    Whenever anyone calls up epistemology it seems like their only reason to to excuse poor logic.

  49. #49 Feynmaniac
    April 16, 2010

    To further my point @20, Pigliucci wrote on another post:

    Second, let us turn to atheism. Once again: it is a philosophical, not a scientific position. Now, I have argued of course that any intelligent philosopher ought to allow her ideas to be informed by science, but philosophical inquiry is broader than science because it includes non-evidence based approaches, such as logic or more broadly reason-based arguments.

    Designating science as only concerning evidence-based thinking is both descriptively inaccurate and extremely limiting prescriptively. Science is NOT just evidence-based. As pointed out in this thread, science frequently uses Ockham’s Razor and rational analysis.

    Consider again the example of a creationist who maintains in the face of evidence that the universe really is 6,000 years old, and that it only looks older because god arranged things in a way to test our faith. There is absolutely no empirical evidence that could contradict that sort of statement, but a philosopher can easily point out why it is unreasonable, and that furthermore it creates very serious theological quandaries.

    A scientist could also tell you what’s wrong with that. We have two hypotheses: the world is the way it looks and there’s a God making it look that way to deceive us. Now the two hypotheses look exactly the same empirically. Yet scientists have almost universally rejected the latter. Why? Okham’s razor. It’s much more convoluted and complicated than the former.

    Personally, I take the view of Bertrand Russell on the division between philosophy and science:

    [T]hose questions which are already capable of definite answers are placed in the sciences, while those only to which, at present, no definite answer can be given, remain to form the residue which is called philosophy. [Problems of Philosophy, Ch. XV]

  50. #50 Sastra
    April 16, 2010

    Although creationism is false myth, I still think that the passage should have used the word “story” instead of “myth,” because putting it next to the word “Biblical” implies that the Bible as a whole is myth. That’s how kids are going to interpret the coupled terms, and the State can’t take a stand on the truth of the Bible as a whole. While “myth” doesn’t entail falsehood, a high school biology textbook probably isn’t a good place to introduce this literary or anthropological distinction. So I guess I disagree a bit with PZ and others here, though I grant pretty much all their points.

    What I’d love to see is Karen Armstrong or some other faith-head coming in with defenses of the term “myth:”

    “Jewish, Christian and Muslim theologians have insisted for centuries that God does not exist and that there is ‘nothing’ out there; in making these assertions their aim was not to deny the reality of God but to safeguard God?s transcendence … Myth, like art, will make no sense unless we know it wholeheartedly and allow it to change us. If we hold ourselves aloof, it will remain opaque, incomprehensible, even ridiculous.”

    Heh. They can put that in as a footnote.

  51. #51 Kaddath
    April 16, 2010

    He’s not on my side at all, but seems to be helping the other guys far more.

    Yep. The word you’re looking for is traitors

  52. #52 Matt Penfold
    April 16, 2010

    Over at Ophelia Benson’s Blog someone has pointed out, and provided evidence, that in order to overcome the preconceptions of students it is necessary to challenge those preconceptions head-on.

    If a student thinks the Earth is 6000 years old it is not enough to say it is 4.7 billion years old. You need to show why it is not 6000 years old, and say so unequivocally.

    De Dora not only said some idiotic things, he also made it clear he opposes effective science teaching.

  53. #53 PZ Myers
    April 16, 2010

    OK, jaguar, panther, tiger, whatever — you can be any ferocious beast you want. Just be ferocious and beastly!

  54. #54 abb3w
    April 16, 2010

    Matt Penfold: Unless people dislike academic books using academic meanings of words.

    Florida Benchmark SC.3.N.3.1: Recognize that words in science can have different or more specific meanings than their use in everyday language; for example, energy, cell, heat/cold, and evidence.

    I wonder what’s in the TN standards…?

    Cuttlefish, OM: “No–herding lions, he claimed… with pride.
    PZ: I actually thought about using tigers in my analogy, rather than lions.

    Huh. It’s “a streak of tigers”. That has amusing possibilities for social signaling.

    PZ: Sastra, if I were smiling in a lunch with De Dora, it would because smiling is just an expression that bares my fangs.

    “Kzinti Diplomatic Corps: Let’s Do Lunch.”

  55. #55 truthspeaker
    April 16, 2010

    Posted by: Bill Shipley Author Profile Page | April 16, 2010 12:53 PM

    The battle must be won by convincing the majority of people who are religious but not hard core, and such people will not be convinced if you spend your time gratuitously insulting them. If simply changing “creation myth” to “creation story” before explaining why “creation” is wrong will avoid having such people ignore or oppose you

    It won’t. That’s the whole point. Calling the Biblical creation story a myth is not a gratuitous insult. It’s a factual statement.

  56. #56 Anodyne
    April 16, 2010

    “dogma of new atheism”

    Which bed is this Pigliucci guy sleeping in? Is he next going to use PZ’s post as an example of why “atheists have no morals”?

    really?

    What a load.

  57. #57 The Bible is Useless
    April 16, 2010

    I am a velociraptor, hear me Roar!

  58. #58 Mel N
    April 16, 2010

    I still say stick with the facts in a biology text book. You can’t address each and every fallacy or contentious religious nut. It is like referencing scientology when talking about volcanoes or engineering.

    However, PZ is correct in Massimo being whiny about it.

  59. #59 Kieranfoy
    April 16, 2010

    ‘Mastabatory slopiness’?

    P.Z., that was soooo graphic!

    I love it. Gotta remember that phrase. Any tips for it’s use?

  60. #60 Celtic_Evolution
    April 16, 2010

    I still say stick with the facts in a biology text book.

    And this book doesn’t do that?

  61. #61 stevieinthecity#9dac9
    April 16, 2010

    As has been stated time and time again. The religious don’t get to decide what reality is. Either the creation story is a myth or it isn’t.
    It’s a myth whether they are offended or not. Reality offends them. Facts offend them.

  62. #62 MoonShark
    April 16, 2010

    De Dora and Ophelia Benson had an interesting back-and-forth over the “tone” of atheists, which started with Harris but came to include Mooney & Kirshenbaum. FWIW I agree with Benson (and PZ) — we should be louder!

    That means far less polite when we’re repeatedly demonstrably right (as the court history of creationist attacks on evolution clearly show), but not without grace, tact, and apology in those rare cases when we’re wrong (which eventually happens; we’re human). There’s room for both! Are we so one-dimensional that we can’t be both ferocious and nuanced?

    Also, Phil Plait is falling toward the accommadation side, saying that vitriol won’t help and essentially that skeptics may not even have a role in criticizing the Catholic sex abuse scandals. Of course we have a role! It’s the lack of skepticism that had a centuries-old tradition of complacence in the face of raped children.

  63. #63 hznfrst
    April 16, 2010

    Frankly, I would replace ‘myth’ with ‘ignorant nonsense’ – but only because ‘BULLSHIT’ wouldn’t get past the editors.

  64. #64 Skepticat
    April 16, 2010

    The universe doesn’t care about anyone’s hurt feelings and nature’s laws don’t change just because someone can’t accept reality. When I started understanding the truth about the world around me, it shattered my religious delusions and crushed me. The pain I went through was immense but it was the best thing that ever happened to me. The growth I experienced was well worth the hurt feelings I endured learning that my religion was bunk.

    But regardless of all that, science is our method for discovering truth (or, at least, what is not true). If we tone it down like these guys want, then soon we’ll be able to make no claims at all because it will offend or hurt someone. I don’t know about you but I want my doctor to learn actual medicine – not sit in a class where no medicine can be studied because Christian scientists might feel insulted.

  65. #65 ambook
    April 16, 2010

    Me, I want to be a whole colony of weaver ants. Tiny, do cool things with silk, bite, and spray their opponents with formic acid. And they never worry about their “tone” with those who invade their territory.

  66. #66 The Bible is Useless
    April 16, 2010

    @Mel N (#58)
    Actually, it’s more like referencing Scientology in a Psychology class, in a chapter on the public perception of Psychology, and stating that the Scientology myth that Psychologists were in league with Lord Xenu and are working against humanity has caused some public faces of the CoS to be very outspoken about the dangers of Psychology and medication. (Tom Cruise attack on Brooke Shields comes to mind)

    It’s factual AND relevant to the material.

  67. #67 Richard Wolford
    April 16, 2010

    FYI, the CFI is deleting comments on Facebook updates if you even remotely mention DeDor(k)a. They were celebrating the judgment on National Prayer Day and I mentioned that now they should stop giving a soapbox to DeDora, and shocker, my comment was deleted. I put another comment up thanking them for deleting my comment. Man, they are such fucking cowards, little bit of criticism and they start pissing and moaning worse than the fundies. My donations to them have stopped, this is a bunch apologetic bullshit.

  68. #68 mr.obelus
    April 16, 2010

    So that we are crystal clear on just how low these ad hominem (a logical fallacy!) attacks go . . .

    *sigh*

    “You are wrong because of X, Y, and Z, and you’re also a poopy head” = not ad hominem.

    “You are wrong BECAUSE you’re a poopy head” = ad hominem.

    I know it’s like Latin and whatnot, but I would bet that that phrase is in his dictionary too.

  69. #69 Feynmaniac
    April 16, 2010

    I still say stick with the facts in a biology text book. You can’t address each and every fallacy or contentious religious nut. It is like referencing scientology when talking about volcanoes or engineering.

    Except scientologists are a very small percentage of the population while creationists make up half of it. If you are going to teach a subject it’s important to refute popular misconceptions. Now, a student doesn’t have to believe in evolution, but if they want to pass biology they should understand it.

  70. #70 Anodyne
    April 16, 2010

    @#66

    Actually, it’s more like referencing Scientology in a Psychology class, in a chapter on the public perception of Psychology, and stating that the Scientology myth that Psychologists were in league with Lord Xenu and are working against humanity has caused some public faces of the CoS to be very outspoken about the dangers of Psychology and medication. (Tom Cruise attack on Brooke Shields comes to mind)

    It’s factual AND relevant to the material.

    That’s funny. I don’t remember any Scientologists screaming “TEACH THE CONTROVERSY!!!1!1!!1″ and trying to get my Health teacher barred from her job because she went ahead and taught us our actual, factual coursework.

    Relevant, my ass.

  71. #71 Caine, Fleur du mal
    April 16, 2010

    stevieinthecity @ 47:

    I’m a panther damn it.

    Fine. I wanna be the 500 lb gorilla in the middle of the room.

  72. #72 amphiox
    April 16, 2010

    Just be ferocious and beastly!

    However, it must be pointed out that in terms of rate of kill per hunt, kill ratio over lifetime, and mass of victim carnage per own unit mass per unit time, the domestic cat thoroughly smacks the tiger (and lion, and pretty much every other big cat) all the way to Sumatra and back, and back again.

    A rat has far more to fear from a cat than a deer from a tiger, or a gazelle from a lion, or a monkey from a jaguar.

    In fact, the only more effective killer, among metazoans on planet earth, than the domestic cat, is a certain hairless bipedal primate. . . .

  73. #73 Anodyne
    April 16, 2010

    Block quote fail. “It’s factual AND relevant to the material. ” was supposed to be included.

  74. #74 The Bible is Useless
    April 16, 2010

    @Anodyne WTF!?! I am on your side here. (At least I think so). I am saying that it is completely FACTUAL and RELEVANT to mention that there have been court cases where people have demanded that the “biblical myth” of creationism in science classes within the context of a science class. The commenter I was replying to was implying that it was as inappropriate as bringing up Scientology in a class on volcanoes, and I was saying that his metaphor was not really apt. What part of that exactly do you disagree with? The number of naysayers involved?

  75. #75 Paul
    April 16, 2010

    Sastra,

    I don’t often disagree with you, but I disagree about “story”. It wouldn’t have made one difference to the complaining parent. Story has the same casual association with untruth that myth does. “That’s his story”, etc. definition 2 at dictionary.com for story is “a fictitious tale, shorter and less elaborate than a novel.” Sure fits the creation story/myth.

    Story is no better than myth in this case. And both are perfectly accurate ways to refer to the case at the Scopes trial, which is the section of the textbook where the insidious statement was.

  76. #76 KOPD
    April 16, 2010

    If the book had said “story” instead of “myth” then that same guy would have been on TV complaining about how this textbook says his Bible is “just a story” and how that hurt his feelings. And then he’d have been sure to point out to us that evolution is “just a theory.”

  77. #77 Knockgoats
    April 16, 2010

    Sastra,

    Although creationism is false myth, I still think that the passage should have used the word “story” instead of “myth,” because putting it next to the word “Biblical” implies that the Bible as a whole is myth.

    No, it doesn’t: it can’t, because the creation accounts in Genesis are myths, while the Bible as a whole is not – it’s a mixture of myth, poetry, proto-history, ritual instruction manual, etc.

    That’s how kids are going to interpret the coupled terms,

    You can’t not teach something because kids might misinterpret it.

    and the State can’t take a stand on the truth of the Bible as a whole.

    If it violates the US constitution for a teacher to make a correct statement of established fact (that the Genesis accounts of creation are myths) in a classroom, then the US constitution needs changing.

  78. #78 irenedelse
    April 16, 2010

    amphiox #72:

    A rat has far more to fear from a cat than a deer from a tiger, or a gazelle from a lion, or a monkey from a jaguar.

    Plus, the nice domestic cats are so good at looking snarky!

  79. #79 Pierce R. Butler
    April 16, 2010

    Last night I happened to run into an epigram that seems apropos (at least enough so that I dare not challenge the gods of synchronicity by failing to quote it):

    To pursue bad manners is childish; to pursue good ones is emasculation.

    – James Gardner, in “The Children of CrŔche”

  80. #80 Finch
    April 16, 2010

    I’d say that I’m like a herded lynx. Lynx are cool. And the word lynx is also cool.

    I say that scientists need to increase the rhetoric but decrease the scope. If someone tries wandering into their area of expertise and trying to mark territory, they deserve to be mauled unless they have solid intellectual ground on which to stand.

    As is, creationism is an idea which deserves no quarter. It should be shown disdain, and discarded. I’d add discredited, but that’s already been done, though it seems to have no effect on the knuckleheads who believe it.

  81. #81 Ben Goren
    April 16, 2010

    I can’t believe y’all are arguing over what type of chordates we are. Bah! What incompetence.

    For the purposes of this thread, I am a squid. A giant, cruel, vicious squid with a monstrous beak and venomous razor-edged tentacles. I will drag y’all down to the depths of the sea where I will infest you with souls solely that I may then devour them — not whole, but slowly, luxuriously, giving them time to grow back between my feasts. Your only joy will come from the slight lessening of your pain while I take a break to gnaw on your bones.

    Just try to herd me!

    Fuckin’ amateurs…

    Cheers,

    b&


    EAC Memographer
    BAAWA Knight of Blasphemy
    “All but God can prove this sentence true.”

  82. #82 PZ Myers
    April 16, 2010

    OK, it’s also like herding giant predatory squid.

    It’s a metaphor. Don’t get hung up on the details. Pick your own totemic animal, as long as it isn’t a mouse or a cuckoo.

  83. #83 MoonShark
    April 16, 2010

    FWIW, Hesh wants to be a robot tiger. A tigerbot. With the strength of five gorillas.

    Now can atheists build their own undersea research facility / dystopia? ;)

  84. #84 Rey Fox
    April 16, 2010

    Like herding solitary top predators.

    “Girls, have you seen your father’s spirit animal?”

  85. #85 Sastra
    April 16, 2010

    Paul #75 wrote:

    It wouldn’t have made one difference to the complaining parent. Story has the same casual association with untruth that myth does.

    I’m not sure of that. It may not have made much difference to the complaining parent, but this particular parent only discovered the problem because the high school kids were talking about it, and brought it up to him. I suspect the word “myth” tripped an association in their minds which the word “story” wouldn’t have. Greek Myths, Norse Myths, Egyptian Myths … Biblical Myths. Phony gods, phony gods, phony gods … hey!

    I think the general public tends to follow the same train of thought, an easy division between dead religions and “living” religions, ones which people believe in — and that’s where the Establishment clause kicks in. And, the coupling of the terms “Biblical” and “myth” provoke people to think the entire Bible is supposed to be included. So I think a case can be made either way, and probably prefer substituting the word “story” just because it makes any subsequent complaint stand wide open in Stupid Land, instead of getting bogged down in a grayer area where technical semantics come in.

    This is only tangential to De Dora’s argument, because he doesn’t seem to have actually addressed the passage in question, but used it to make a larger point which doesn’t work.

  86. #86 Rey Fox
    April 16, 2010

    “A giant, cruel, vicious squid with a monstrous beak and venomous razor-edged tentacles. I will drag y?all down to the depths of the sea where I will infest you with souls solely that I may then devour them”

    Ha. Try and get me here in the middle of the continent.

  87. #87 Glen Davidson
    April 16, 2010

    Pick your own totemic animal, as long as it isn’t a mouse or a cuckoo.

    Or turkey.

    I’ll go with wolverine.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p

  88. #88 Sastra
    April 16, 2010

    PZ wrote:

    It’s a metaphor. Don’t get hung up on the details. Pick your own totemic animal, as long as it isn’t a mouse or a cuckoo.

    Can I say it’s like “nailing jello to a tree?”

  89. #89 christophe-thill.myopenid.com
    April 16, 2010

    Want to understand what myths are? Read Myth and Reality by Mircea Eliade. Eliade makes it clear that myths are stories, but not any stories: stories that are sacred and that tell about the origin of something.

    Of course, there is (to my knowledge) no myth that can be consistent with science. As soon as there was something worthy of being called science, this became obvious. Hence the convergence of the two meanings of the word: “sacred story about origins” and “false story”.

    (But don’t try to explain this to Mr Zimmerman. He will think you’re talking in Chinese.)

  90. #90 KOPD
    April 16, 2010

    More like trying to super-glue ice cubes to a rabid wolverine.

  91. #91 jody001
    April 16, 2010

    Re: Herding cats.

    I like the term “herding shoggoths.” Shoggoths are equally unwieldily, temperamental and hard to control as cats. But get them pissed off….

    Well, actually, even saying “hi” is enough to get one eaten. But still.

  92. #92 abb3w
    April 16, 2010

    abb3w: I wonder what’s in the TN standards…?

    CLE 3210.Math.1: Understand the mathematical principles associated with the science of biology.
    CLE 3210.Math.2: Utilize appropriate mathematical equations and processes to understand biological concepts.

    Holy fuck.

    So, at least a dick-and-jane version of computational complexity and Chomsky grammar heirarchy, partial differential equations to model population dynamics and trait diffusion, linear algebra and Markov chains, cardinality of metric spaces to talk about species distributions in an environment… oh, and basic probability theory, possibly with applications to statistical mechanics and non-uniform random walks.

    No? They’re not doing that? Why not, isn’t that what the standard says?

    SPI 3210.Math.1: Interpret a graph that depicts a biological phenomenon.
    SPI 3210.Math.2: Predict the outcome of a cross between parents of known genotype.
    3216.Math.1 Choose, construct, and analyze appropriate graphical representations for a data set.
    3216.Math.2 Analyze graphs to interpret biological events.
    3216.Math.3 Make decisions about units, scales, and measurement tools that are appropriate for problem situations involving measurement.
    3216.Math.4 Select and apply an appropriate method to evaluate the reasonableness of results.
    3216.Math.5 Apply and interpret rates of change from graphical and numerical data.
    3216.Math.6 Apply geometric properties, formulas, and relationships to interpret biological phenomena.
    3216.Math.7 Use length, area, and volume to estimate and explain real-world problems.
    3216.Math.8 Make predictions from a linear data set using a line of best fit.
    3216.Math.9 Interpret a set of data using the appropriate measure of central tendency.

    Oh, shucks.

    That level of math. How sad; they’re using “appropriate” relative to “grade-level” rather than “phenomena”. It’s simply what would be expected of typical high-schoolers.

  93. #93 Feynmaniac
    April 16, 2010

    Well, if we get to choose our own animals….

    It’s like herding manbearpigs.

  94. #94 mr.obelus
    April 16, 2010

    By the way, I’m getting ready to write a (hypothetical) chapter in a textbook about Watergate.

    And I want to quote the “I am not a crook” line. But right after that I want to say, “But he *was* a crook.”

    And that’s my dilemma. You see, . . .

    “While of course [teaching that Nixon didn't do anything wrong] doesn?t have a leg to stand on, and of course [social studies/history] textbooks should teach [that he did do something wrong] without apologies . . .” I should “also note that using the word ['crook'] when the book refers to [Watergate] [is probably] an uncalled for breach of the principle of [saying things that are true but might offend some people].”

    I mean, it’s not like he was *there* at the break-in.

  95. #95 Reginald Selkirk
    April 16, 2010

    Pigliucci states in his public appearances that Dawkins claimed in The God Delusion to have conclusively proven the nonexistence of God. I encourage Pigliucci to look this up this behaviour in the dictionary; he will find it listed under L-I-A-R.

  96. #96 abb3w
    April 16, 2010

    Caine, Fleur du mal: Fine. I wanna be the 500 lb gorilla in the middle of the room.

    Why does the 500 lb gorilla sit in the middle of the room? Because that’s where the 800 lb gorilla said to….

  97. #97 Scott Hatfield, OM
    April 16, 2010

    #34: I’m sorry, but I must quibble about a minor point with respect to ‘sectarian.’ It is true that the defendants in the various ‘balanced-treatment’ cases were on the whole either YEC or politicians truckling to YEC. It is true that the Institute of Creation Research (ICR), which is a YEC outfit all the way, developed the so-called ‘two-model’ approach that was used to shape legislation in Louisiana and Arkansas. If we were to look purely at the intent of the bill’s sponsors, it’s pretty clear that many (but not all) were hoping to push YEC.

    But….

    It is not true, however, that the COURTS found that their ‘creation science’ alternative was inherently sectarian, or that the rulings turned on the particular claims of a six-day creation. In fact, in Edwards V. Aguilard, the defendants did everything they could do to avoid being linked with specific YEC claims and based their defense on ‘academic freedom’. Unlike other states, the Louisiana law enjoyed significant public support from people who were not YEC, which is one reason that the creationists elected to appeal this particular case to SOTUS, rather than the other cases in Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee.

    The courts ruled, rather, on the nature of science and what was constitutionally permissible in a science class. Both the McLean case and Edwards v. Aguilard argued that ‘creation science’ did not fit the criteria of science, and that they ran afoul of the Lemon Test where the Establishment Clause was concerned. So my preference would be for language that doesn’t give YEC any pride of place.

  98. #98 Ben Goren
    April 16, 2010

    PZ, did I ask you for permission to be a squid? No? So why are you granting it?

    Anyway, in all seriousness, what gets me most about the accommodationist instinct is that change has never come from being polite. For being polite means shutting up and not making waves. And it certainly means not making anybody uncomfortable.

    But, of course, the problem is that it’s the very shortcomings, failings, and injustices at question that cause the most discomfort. So, in practice, “play nice” is really shorthand for “shut the fuck up because we damn well like the way things are and we don’t want you messing up the good thing we’ve got going here.”

    For example, there’s no polite way to observe that Ratzinger, after conducting an exhaustive investigation of Marcial Macial Dellogado and concluding he was a first-rate Grade A serial rapist of children, not only never notified the police of the evidence he amassed and the conclusions he drew from it, he shuffled Macial off to a secluded retirement out of reach of the authorities. None of the facts of the case are in dispute, even by the church itself, and it’s damned hard to come to any conclusion other than that the Pope is a criminal conspirator who ran an international child rape ring. But — obviously! — stating as much is going to make lots of people upset, and we can’t have that now, can we?

    This Pigliucci thing is just a minor variation on that same theme. He holds precious the notion that people are still worthy of being granted intellectual respect even if they are demonstrably complete and total blithering fucking idiots. This is in large part because complete and total blithering fucking idiots don’t like to be reminded of the fact that they are, indeed, complete and total blithering fucking idiots (after all, nobody actually likes being a complete and total blithering fucking idiot), and reminding them of said fact causes them distress.

    Now, causing somebody distress is generally to be avoided, but not when the alternative is worse. And the only alternatives result in permitting — if not encouraging — the unchecked spread of complete and total blithering fucking idiocy, which (to me, at least) is a damned sight worse than offending the sensibilities of a complete and total blithering fucking idiot.

    Cheers,

    b&


    EAC Memographer
    BAAWA Knight of Blasphemy
    “All but God can prove this sentence true.”

  99. #99 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawlZhMUnjA9BsWP9zojf401f2aINdplmJP0
    April 16, 2010

    The whole “don’t offend them” reminds me of a recent interview I saw about Charlie Chaplin a few days ago. When The Great Dictator came out, some people were unhappy with it since America was still at peace with Germany and they were afraid it would complicate diplomatic relations. Same thing in England because of their “appeasement policy” (at least before the film was released.

    Blame the war on Chaplin.

    BdN

  100. #100 Menyambal
    April 16, 2010

    I Googled “Bible Stories” and got nine million hits. The first three were Christian sites called “biblestories”.

    The Bible is full of interesting stories, but no myths, thank you. At least that’s what my grandma would have said … except for the “thank you” part.

  101. #101 Ben Goren
    April 16, 2010

    Rey Fox, there is nowhere and nothing in this world safe from a giant squid.

    Or rubber chickens, for that matter. My rubber chicken, she may be small. But she’s a flying rubber chicken.

    Just so’s you know.

    Cheers,

    b&


    EAC Memographer
    BAAWA Knight of Blasphemy
    “All but God can prove this sentence true.”

  102. #102 CJO
    April 16, 2010

    In fact, in Edwards V. Aguilard, the defendants did everything they could do to avoid being linked with specific YEC claims and based their defense on ‘academic freedom’.

    Why would the movement have shifted to the even less sectarian-seeming ID if it wasn’t clear that their efforts to distance their claims from a sectarian interpretation of the Bible were a dismal failure and transparently dishonest?

    It’s often said that “history is written by the winners” and it’s true. It’s something historians are very conscious of. Here, you’d have history written by the losers. Hardly an improvement. It’s a needless qualification of the little historical aside in the textbook to say what the truth was and then to go on and point out that they lied about their motivations as part of their legal strategy.

  103. #103 badgersdaughter
    April 16, 2010

    Badger badger badger.

  104. #104 cousinavi
    April 16, 2010

    When the zombies come, I want PZ on my team.
    The little fucker has no quit and no fear.

    /SIC BALLS, PeeZee! SIC BALLS!

  105. #105 https://me.yahoo.com/a/mcFCrlE5lcd1efAgon4LOAnsxtX30es4OcUR#9bd52
    April 16, 2010

    #67

    Richard, why do you say CFI deleted your comment on Facebook? It’s still there; in fact it’s the first comment:

    http://www.facebook.com/centerforinquiry

    You posted here at 1:39 p.m., and at 3:23 p.m. the Facebook comment displays an age of two hours.

    I can understand some of the emotionlism here, but that’s just a plain old lie–and an easily debunked one at that.

    Why would you do that?

  106. #106 Meyrick Kirby
    April 16, 2010

    The definition, “an unfounded or false notion”, still means that the authors were using an entirely accurate word.

    Hey Myers, you tosser. How do you know the bibical genesis story is false?

  107. #107 cousinavi
    April 16, 2010

    BTW…Kirk Cameron’s write in nomination for the Herding Metaphor: Crocopotamus.

    He made some joke about speciation and evolution, big mouths, immovable objects and will swallow almost anything.

    I lured him into the shallows, grabbed a leg and drowned the smarmy little bastard.

  108. #108 gould1865
    April 16, 2010

    My skin is thick for you :) I think you are doing fine. Most everything I comment is contrarian, exception rare here. On occasion we can all use some stated approval. Of course it depends in part on who it comes from, can’t help you there, you can fairly assume good, better, best.

  109. #109 ambook
    April 16, 2010

    More like trying to super-glue ice cubes to a rabid wolverine.

    This definitely wins the metaphor wars. And I would point out that not all of us were chordates – I wanted to be a whole colony of vicious fiber-oriented ants.

    One can sort-of discuss science with non-fundamentalists, even if they believe stuff that I would classify as woo-ish. Once you get into the “I believe the literal truth of ..” category, there’s no use, and accommodation is actually harmful, as it lends dignity to what is inherently ridiculous. Anyone who believes in the literal truth of a metaphor invented by a neolithic culture is absurd and should be treated as one would treat an irrational 3-year old – stick to the facts, don’t get emotional, and just do the broken-record repetition thing (no, mommy knows the world is not 6000 years old – repeat as needed).

  110. #110 Celtic_Evolution
    April 16, 2010

    Hey Myers, you tosser. How do you know the bibical genesis story is false?

    Is this serious or sarcastic? I honestly can’t tell anymore.

  111. #111 scottfmessinger
    April 16, 2010

    Unfortunately, the world is populated with human beings, who are not always rational. In fact, while that often annoys me, it does at least make life interesting.

    So sometimes we need to take other people’s irrational, emotional beliefs into account when we are communicating an idea. And even though we might be technically right, the resulting irrational outburst just doesn’t make it worth the effort.

  112. #112 CJO
    April 16, 2010

    How do you know the bibical genesis story is false?

    Where do you even start?

    It’s presumed to be false, as an origin myth in a collection of sacred texts written by pre-modern persons uninterested in empirical truths about cosmic events. They had no way to know any better, and so they wrote stories that interpreted the world as they understood it.

    But, of course, presumption isn’t enough. It also contradicts nearly everything that is known via empirical study, about life, the earth’s history, cosmology, astronomy, anthropology, linguistics, meteorology… an exhaustive list would be tedious.

    What possible reason is there for believing it to be true?

  113. #113 MoonShark
    April 16, 2010

    Cousinavi (#104) said:

    When the zombies come, I want PZ on my team.
    The little fucker has no quit and no fear.

    Hm, this got me thinking: If we were playing “militant atheist vs. accommodationist dodgeball”, you’d be an idiot NOT to want PZ on your team :)

    Somebody organize that, please!

  114. #114 Meyrick Kirby
    April 16, 2010

    It’s presumed to be false

    If you’re presuming it, you’re assuming, which means you don’t actually know it to be false, you moron.

    More to the point I wasn’t talking to you!

  115. #115 Celtic_Evolution
    April 16, 2010

    So sometimes we need to take other people’s irrational, emotional beliefs into account when we are communicating an idea. And even though we might be technically right, the resulting irrational outburst just doesn’t make it worth the effort.

    Let’s try to remember the sequence of events, here… This began with a textbook that offered a reasoned, rational, and appropriate description within a specific context.

    The irrational response first came from Zimmerman, who set out on a national campaign to bully the local school board into removing the book, completely.

    When faced with dangerous irrationality, it is PZ’s common tactic to point and laugh, casting a bright light on the ignorance and using a touch of humor and derision to do it. That it pisses the poor sot off just serves to highlight his real agenda and irrationality further.

    And frankly, I think the track record of results PZ has in making these incidents noteworthy has been pretty successful… so I continue to say a hearty “fuck off” to all those who continue to insist that his methods “hurt the cause”.

    In true skeptical fashion I say, “Prove it!”

  116. #116 Anodyne
    April 16, 2010

    @TheBibleIsUseless #74

    My bad. I interpreted what you were saying as ‘They don’t teach about the thoroughly unsupported myths of scientologists in psychology, so why the hell would they mention the Bible myth in a biology book?’ I’ve already seen innumerable comments like this in more than a few blogs on this subject, so I assumed that’s what you were getting at as well.

    Considering the nuance of your post that was missed, I hereby rescind my castigation. :)

  117. #117 Aaron Baker
    April 16, 2010

    PZ Myers wrote:

    The main reason I dislike the “herding cats” phrase isn’t that cats are easy to herd — it’s because it has become such an awful cliche. Since I’m often talking about organizing atheists, I hear it just about everywhere I go, and I have grown to detest it. Let’s think of something new to say, OK?
    ………………

    How do you feel about this one: “like herding cephalopods”?

  118. #118 Ironicus
    April 16, 2010

    I love reading these rants, but my first thought is always calm down P.Z., you’re going to blow a gasket. Then I realize this is how you calm down.

    Pigliucci, you can give your soul to Jesus, but your ass belongs to Myers.

  119. #119 Dwymore
    April 16, 2010

    I feel like my parents are fighting… Sob…

  120. #120 Celtic_Evolution
    April 16, 2010

    If you’re presuming it, you’re assuming, which means you don’t actually know it to be false, you moron.

    Well… I see you took the first thing he stated and ignored the rest… how typical. Idiot.

    So again we’ll ask you, given that it contradicts everything we know to be true about pretty much everything in the natural world, what possible reason would there be for assuming it’s false?

    I could tell you that there’s no way you can prove to me that there aren’t magical pink invisible unicorns living in your back yard. Assuming that’s not the case doesn’t make you a moron. Presuming it could be based on the evidence you have does.

    More to the point I wasn’t talking to you!

    You post here, you’re talking to everyone. Don’t like it? Fuck off and send an email.

  121. #121 Scott Hatfield, OM
    April 16, 2010

    Why would the movement have shifted to the even less sectarian-seeming ID if it wasn’t clear that their efforts to distance their claims from a sectarian interpretation of the Bible were a dismal failure and transparently dishonest?

    Well, clearly some creationists were trying to hide their religious motivations. The ‘transitional forms’ of the book that became ‘Pandas and People’ show clearly that much of their rhetoric was simply repackaged versions of the old ‘creation science.’

    But, for others, it was an authentic attempt to form a ‘big tent’ that was not sectarian. Michael Behe, for example, is no YEC. Neither is Bruce Chapman, head of the Disingenuous Institute. They are both Catholic, I believe, albeit misguided. So, it simply isn’t true that ‘creationism’ or creationist movements are necessarily sectarian, nor has that ever been the linchpin of plaintiff’s arguments against them in cases under discussion. As always, it’s the more general questions: “is it science, or is it religion?” Creationism is always inherently religious, but it is not necessarily sectarian. The ID people probably thought that if they could come up with something non-sectarian and not explicitly referencing God, that they could pass the Lemon test.

    They were wrong.

  122. #122 CJO
    April 16, 2010

    More to the point I wasn’t talking to you!

    Did you not realize that your asinine bleatings were addressed to the entire world, via the public comments on a widely read blog?

    If you want a tete-a-tete with PZ, I suggest you send him an email.

  123. #123 Meyrick Kirby
    April 16, 2010

    That fact I said “Hey Myers you tosser”, should have tipped you off that I was address PZ Myers, duh!

  124. #124 Celtic_Evolution
    April 16, 2010

    Shit… totally blew part of my last post…

    this:

    what possible reason would there be for assuming it’s false?

    Should be

    what possible reason would there be for assuming it’s true?

  125. #125 Celtic_Evolution
    April 16, 2010

    That fact I said “Hey Myers you tosser”, should have tipped you off that I was address PZ Myers, duh!

    I don’t give a shit if you address it to PZ, using his full formal name with a nice little picture, and put clear instructions that it’s only to be answered by him and him alone… if you post it here, it’s fair game. Period.

    Again, don’t like it, send an email so he can ignore your ignorant blatherings personally and you can spare the rest of us.

  126. #126 Aaron Baker
    April 16, 2010

    “Tosser.” Is that British or antipodean slang? What does it mean?

    Here’s a question for you: how do you know that stories about Zeus or Marduk are false?

  127. #127 gould1865
    April 16, 2010

    Now to contrarian.
    Most high school students in a backward state such as TN are not going to “believe” (whatever the hell that means) in evolution when the course begins. The situation is, they are getting an education, which means new knowledge. Likely, their parents are not college educated, and even more likely the parents’ high school education is very poor, and, note, in areas 40 per cent of adults do not have a high school diploma.

    Those students–you see they are in a pitiful shape– should be told directly (by teacher and board) when they say, I don’t believe in evolution, “You don’t have to.” and if they object to the wording in the text, should be told, “You don’t have to agree.” After all, we would do the same for any statements. However, they should then be reminded that education is new knowledge, new, perhaps shown the irony of the five-year-old who said, “If it’s so famous how come I never heard of it?” And then told, “We will be learning what scientists think they know. You can stop at any time and ask, “How do they know these things?” Fair question at any time. We will look into it every time it comes up.

    Now look on page… (Actually I don’t think I would start there. I think I would start with Floyd Collins in the sand cave.)

    Cheers.

  128. #128 Anodyne
    April 16, 2010

    @#126

    Tosser = wanker = jerk-off

  129. #129 Meyrick Kirby
    April 16, 2010

    Oh well, so the only half decent answer to my question so far is:

    It also contradicts nearly everything that is known via empirical study, about life, the earth’s history, cosmology, astronomy, anthropology, linguistics, meteorology… an exhaustive list would be tedious.

    So, how does anyone know those things that are known aren’t false?

  130. #130 Jadehawk, OM
    April 16, 2010

    That fact I said “Hey Myers you tosser”, should have tipped you off that I was address PZ Myers, duh!

    I see you are new to the internet, so I’ll give you a little advice. You don’t get to decide who responds to a statement posted in public.

  131. #131 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawlZhMUnjA9BsWP9zojf401f2aINdplmJP0
    April 16, 2010

    This comment is addressed to everyone excepted Meyrick Kirby : don’t you all think that Meyrick Kirby is being an annoying and ignorant ass ?

  132. #132 Anodyne
    April 16, 2010

    Because when you know that you know something (as in supported by real, tangible evidence), then you know it.

    Perhaps this link will be of use to you in the future. It wouldn’t kill you to learn something.

  133. #133 frog, Inc.
    April 16, 2010

    PZ: philosophers will complain about epistomological boundaries

    Which philosophers? Which boundaries?

    Those aren’t “epistemological” boundaries — they’re social boundaries. Any philosopher that confused the two should be out collecting money at a local street corner (or working for the Discovery Institute).

    This is like NOMA for the retarded. At least the original NOMA was actually about different kinds of statements. This is about different ways of phrasing statements that are logically equivalent.

    Calling these folks retards is an insult to the cretins of the world. They are whores — and not the good kind that give you a unique service for your money, but just glory holes for powerful institutions. Disgusting.

  134. #134 Meyrick Kirby
    April 16, 2010

    You don’t get to decide who responds to a statement posted in public.

    No, but I do get to call them a moron when they answer questions not addresses to them.

  135. #135 Anodyne
    April 16, 2010

    Posting in a forum = addressing the forum, you fuckwit.

    *puts down giant fan and discards it*

  136. #136 Celtic_Evolution
    April 16, 2010

    So, how does anyone know those things that are known aren’t false?

    Idiot…

    Empirical.

    Actually… you might want to spend some more time there looking up many of the other words in the responses we’ve given you so far.

  137. #137 Meyrick Kirby
    April 16, 2010

    as in supported by real, tangible evidence

    What tangible evidence? No one has supplied any evidence so far.

  138. #138 jthoma67
    April 16, 2010

    As an atheist student at the University of Tennessee and a resident of Knoxville I am delighted with the debate. The school board’s decisive and systematic response to this wanker’s complaint was admittedly surprising. Knoxville is one of those cities where you simply cannot be an active atheist for fear of losing your job or the respect of your professors. Everyday when I walk to school I see a senile man with a wooden cross and a picture of a late-term abortion. He sits in front of his truck which is of course covered in slanderous “pro-life”/anti-choice slogans…all with religious backing. Something must be done to educate adults in this town. This case is a great first step. I wish there were some way to organize the many closet atheists in Knoxville to support scientific reading/writing in the classroom. Sadly, I think that most non-student atheists are probably unwilling to come out. I must say though- when Christopher Hitchens came to school there was a huge crowd! I arrived too late to gain entrance so I entertained myself by arguing with fundies in the hall :)

    Have a blessed day, Ramen

  139. #139 Celtic_Evolution
    April 16, 2010

    What tangible evidence? No one has supplied any evidence so far.

    To what, specifically, are you referring?

    You really think there’s no tangible evidence for the age of the universe? Or the earth itself? Surely you can’t be that stupid…

    I’m not sure what exactly you’re claiming there’s no evidence for…

  140. #140 Jadehawk, OM
    April 16, 2010

    No, but I do get to call them a moron when they answer questions not addresses to them.

    well sure, if you want to look to the whole world like you’ve never used the internet before, you can do that.

    What tangible evidence? No one has supplied any evidence so far.

    there’s this thing called peer-reviewed literature. You can find it for example by using google scholar…

  141. #141 Meyrick Kirby
    April 16, 2010

    To what, specifically, are you referring?

    None, you lot are the one’s talking about “tangible evidence”, not me. So provide just one piece.

  142. #142 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawlZhMUnjA9BsWP9zojf401f2aINdplmJP0
    April 16, 2010

    So, how does anyone know those things that are known aren’t false?

    You mean like “how do I know that this isn’t a giant collective dream, that this thread really exists, that I type on real keyboard, talk with real people” and other cogito ergo sum fellatio ?

  143. #143 Jadehawk, OM
    April 16, 2010

    or, if you prefer something more hands on, community colleges do offer cheap science classes with labs…

    ignorance is curable, you know.

  144. #144 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 16, 2010

    What tangible evidence? No one has supplied any evidence so far.

    Try the peer reviewed scientific literature. Found at institutions of higher learning world wide. Something you appear totally unfamiliar with, for posing such an inane statement.

  145. #145 Brownian, OM
    April 16, 2010

    ignorance is curable, you know.

    Not if it comes with ‘willful’ as a comorbidity.

  146. #146 Meyrick Kirby
    April 16, 2010

    Try the peer reviewed scientific literature. Found at institutions of higher learning world wide.

    Great, about 40 comment’s on and none of you can mention one piece of evidence that contradicts the biblical genesis story. Pathetic isn’t a word strong enough.

  147. #147 Celtic_Evolution
    April 16, 2010

    None, you lot are the one’s talking about “tangible evidence”, not me. So provide just one piece.

    Don’t be obtuse. You were given a list of the many scientific disciplines that contradict pretty much everything in Genesis… each one with ample evidence supporting it.

    We’re not here to give you a 4th grade earth science lesson (which you clearly need, by the way)… pick up a fucking science textbook.

    If you have something specific you’d like to refute the evidence for, please present it… otherwise just go away.

  148. #148 Anodyne
    April 16, 2010

    You’re absolutely right, Meyrick. Why don’t we load up a massive crate with every single written work that came about as a direct result of studying “tangible evidence”, that you claim doesn’t exist, and drop it on your head from 400 yards above?

    Feeling lucky?

  149. #149 frog, Inc.
    April 16, 2010

    Kirby: No, but I do get to call them a moron when they answer questions not addresses to them.

    Winner for dumbest troll EVAH!

  150. #150 Meyrick Kirby
    April 16, 2010

    Just one example from one discipline, that’s all I ask. How fucking hard is this?

  151. #151 Gregory Greenwood
    April 16, 2010

    Meyrick Kirby @ 29;

    I know that you did not address your comment to me, but I would make so bold as to answer nyway. You said;

    How do you know the bibical genesis story is false?

    and;

    If you’re presuming it, you’re assuming, which means you don’t actually know it to be false…

    And also (in response to the idea that it also contradicts nearly everything that is known via empirical study, about life, the earth’s history, cosmology, astronomy, anthropology, linguistics, meteorology.);

    So, how does anyone know those things that are known aren’t false?

    I would ask you that if, as seems to be the case from your comments, you repudiate the value of actual evidence, then how exactly can anything be proven or disproven to your satisfaction? While scientific explanations and genesis creation mythology have equal status in such a worldview, this also necessarily implies that there is nothing to chose between Christian creation mythology and that of any other religion. As Aaron Baker pointed out at 126;

    …how do you know that stories about Zeus or Marduk are false?

    Equally, why Yahweh at all? Why not Allah or Brahmen? Why not Ra or Woden? Why not Cthulhu or the FSM (Ramen)? Why not the Great And Merciful Quantum Unicorns? Or the All Knowing Celestial Teapot? Why is your evidence-free mythology, that is by your own logic no more credible than any of these other creation myths, to be regarded as The Truth(TM)?

    If evidence is valueless to you, why bother contesting truth claims at all? It is not sufficient to simply try to back up your chosen religious creation mythology with nothing more than ‘because I say so’ or ‘because the church says so’. You will never sway a rationalist without evidence, and perversely dismissing evidence as being of no value in evaluating truth claims will hardly serve to strengthen your case.

  152. #152 Meyrick Kirby
    April 16, 2010

    If you have something specific you’d like to refute the evidence for, please present it… otherwise just go away.

    Fine, it appears I’m the only one here who is capable of givng answers to questions.

    All the evidence that contradicts the bibical genesis story was placed there by God to mislead man, i.e. the evidence is either false or at least misleading.

  153. #153 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawlZhMUnjA9BsWP9zojf401f2aINdplmJP0
    April 16, 2010

    Great, about 40 comment’s on and none of you can mention one piece of evidence that contradicts the biblical genesis story.

    Oh! And you have “evidence” to the contrary ? The first story or the second one ?

  154. #154 Endor
    April 16, 2010

    “Just one example from one discipline, that’s all I ask. How fucking hard is this?”

    LOL. The entire internet is available to this worthless douche and yet he’s here, throwing a wonderfully and hilariously inept temper tantrum because total strangers won’t do his homework for him.

    He’s right about one thing, pathetic is not a strong enough word to describe him.

  155. #155 Anodyne
    April 16, 2010

    LMAO

    You are hilarious, Meyrick. Thanks for the amusement.

    I’m going to now move on to something more productive, like debating an 18-month-old on the difference between paint-by-numbers coloring books and the frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and what it means for art as a whole.

  156. #156 Meyrick Kirby
    April 16, 2010

    Equally, why Yahweh at all? Why not Allah or Brahmen? Why not Ra or Woden? Why not Cthulhu or the FSM (Ramen)? Why not the Great And Merciful Quantum Unicorns? Or the All Knowing Celestial Teapot? Why is your evidence-free mythology, that is by your own logic no more credible than any of these other creation myths, to be regarded as The Truth(TM)?

    When did I say the bibical genesis story is true, and other religious creation stories are false? I never said either.

    Mind you, I appreciate your polite responce.

  157. #157 Celtic_Evolution
    April 16, 2010

    dammit… I posted this in the wrong thread.

    belongs here:

    Kirby –

    I’m fairly sure you think we just can’t provide one, and although it pains me to indulge you in your childish little game, I will just to shut you up…

    We’ll start with this: Creationism puts the age of the earth at roughly 6000 to 10000 years old.

    Here’s the evidence that contradicts that (note – I’m copying and pasting much of this from a few sources to save time):

    - Radiometric dating shows the earth to be 4.5 billion years old. And if you dare question the reliability of radiometric dating I will inundate you with data proving otherwise.

    - Loess deposits (deposits of wind-blown silt) in China are 300 m thick. They give a continuous climate record for 7.2 million years. The record is consistent with magnetostratigraphy and habitat type inferred from fossils

    - If the earth is old, then radioactive isotopes with short half-lives should have all decayed already. That is what we find. Isotopes with half-lives longer than eighty million years are found on earth; isotopes with shorter half-lives are not, the only exceptions being those that are generated by current natural processes

    - Varves are annual sediment layers that occur in large lakes. They are straightforward to measure, cover millions of years, and correlate well with other dating mechanisms.

    And these are just the earth-bound pieces of evidence… we can also look at cosmological evidence, such as the measurable distance of stars being too far to support a young universe model.

    So… there’s one piece of evidence. If you can refute any of it with peer-reviewed literature, then do so… if not, then STFU.

  158. #158 Anodyne
    April 16, 2010

    Oh, and it’s nice to know that your God is a deceitful sack of shit, Meyrick. Thanks for that tidbit.

  159. #159 frog, Inc.
    April 16, 2010

    Kirby: Just one example from one discipline, that’s all I ask. How fucking hard is this?

    See, this is an interesting problem — how can you even communicate with someone whose head is so far up his ass, that it appears to be in the proper position? Do you start by explaining parallax, the speed of light, and astronomical measurements? Or latitudinal lines, and how it implies that the earth is spherical? How do you speak to someone who obviously is both completely ignorant of science in the last 3000 years, and is obviously capable of turning any plain statement in his Holy Book into any other arbitrary statement?

    It’s funny, but he’s a good example.

  160. #160 Endor
    April 16, 2010

    “All the evidence that contradicts the bibical genesis story was placed there by God to mislead man, i.e. the evidence is either false or at least misleading.”

    So you’re saying that god is lying to you? So much for that whole perfect thing, huh. What a serious jackass your god is.

  161. #161 https://me.yahoo.com/a/mcFCrlE5lcd1efAgon4LOAnsxtX30es4OcUR#9bd52
    April 16, 2010

    @#67

    Man, they are such fucking cowards, little bit of criticism and they start pissing and moaning worse than the fundies. My donations to them have stopped, this is a bunch apologetic bullshit.

    Well, according to YOUR OWN comment policy:

    I will not allow individuals to attack or berate other individuals, but any idea that is put forth is readily open for ridicule. In other words, I won?t allow someone to call YOU an idiot, but it is fine to call your IDEAS idiotic.

    And because I’m in a position to check your donor status with CFI, I did so–and it turns out you’re not in the system at all. That doesn’t mean you’ve never donated anonymously, but based on the established fact that you are a liar and a hypocrite, I have to assume you’re lying about that too, for whatever reason.

  162. #162 Meyrick Kirby
    April 16, 2010

    To Celtic_Evolution:

    So, as I said before, how do you know that all the evidence you’ve mentioned was not was placed there by God to mislead man.

    Anodyne:

    So what if “God is a deceitful sack of shit”?

  163. #163 Carlie
    April 16, 2010

    Fine, Kirby. Let’s start really slowly.
    650,000 years in one ice core.
    An incredibly short period of time, but 100x longer than young-earth creationism claims.

    Now, explain, from a scientific viewpoint, using known information about climate and weather, how this is NOT evidence that against a 6,000 year old earth. You will be given no further examples until you can satisfactorily refute this one, because no others would be necessary if you can’t disprove this one.

  164. #164 ambook
    April 16, 2010

    All the evidence that contradicts the bibical genesis story was placed there by God to mislead man, i.e. the evidence is either false or at least misleading.

    Why would the all-powerful sky spirit spend so much diligent effort doing this? It’s like believing in a god designed by David Mamet or Douglas Adams.

    I really like what gould1865 (#127) said – I’m going to adopt that as my phrasing for presentations where kids start getting all bent out of shape about the e-word…

  165. #165 Meyrick Kirby
    April 16, 2010

    Why would the all-powerful sky spirit spend so much diligent effort doing this?

    How should I know? I don’t claim to be able to read the mind of god, do you?

  166. #166 Feynmaniac
    April 16, 2010

    You really think there’s no tangible evidence for the age of the universe? Or the earth itself? Surely you can’t be that stupid…

    Clearly Meyrick Kirby is and don’t call him/her Shirley (wait, that joke doesn’t really work well in print).

    All the evidence that contradicts the bibical genesis story was placed there by God to mislead man, i.e. the evidence is either false or at least misleading.

    Meyrick is a Poe or incredibly dumb (I’m using inclusive ‘or’ here).

  167. #167 Endor
    April 16, 2010

    “So, as I said before, how do you know that all the evidence you’ve mentioned was not was placed there by God to mislead man.”

    How do you know Might Mouse didn’t leave it there to mislead god to mislead man (and only men, thank goodness!) to mislead each other about reality?

    Huh? HUH?

  168. #168 Carlie
    April 16, 2010

    So, as I said before, how do you know that all the evidence you’ve mentioned was not was placed there by God to mislead man.

    Then God’s a shitty wanker, isn’t he? Hey, you only get to avoid eternal hellfire and damnation if you believe in me, but not only will I not provide any evidence that my story is true, I’m totes going to punk you by faking evidence that makes it look like my story can’t possibly be true! Haha ur in hell for my lolz.

    How do you know we’re not in the Matrix? The only thing we can do is to operate as if all of the evidence that makes sense and is coherent and stands up to every independent verification we can come up with actually is what it seems to be. Otherwise you might as well sit tight in a windowless room by yourself for your entire life, since you can’t trust anything that’s out there.

  169. #169 Roestigraben
    April 16, 2010

    So, as I said before, how do you know that all the evidence you’ve mentioned was not was placed there by God to mislead man.

    Meyrick, if you had bothered to read the thread, you’d have found that this point has actually been addressed even before you arrived here (#49). It’s a miracle! Now, I don’t think you’re actually serious about any of the random bullshit you’re spouting here, and are just trying to provoke a flame war, probably so you can accuse everyone here of criticizing your confrontational style over the substance of your arguments. It’s not working.

  170. #170 KOPD
    April 16, 2010

    All the evidence that contradicts the bibical genesis story was placed there by God to mislead man, i.e. the evidence is either false or at least misleading.

    Which makes God a deceitful liar who intentionally misleads people. Since He is considered by His followers to be the source of the Genesis story and the Bible, the entire thing is an untrustworthy source and can’t be trusted. Therefore the Genesis story is probably wrong. The rest of the Bible is probably wrong about a great many things as well and should just be tossed out. Since that is the main source of information about God, it’s best to just dismiss him as well. Case dismissed.

  171. #171 https://me.yahoo.com/a/mcFCrlE5lcd1efAgon4LOAnsxtX30es4OcUR#9bd52
    April 16, 2010

    @67
    It turns out that Richard posted his comment to the CFI Facebook page, and then couldn’t find it on a different CFI Facebook page (because it was on the original one), so he assumed CFI had deleted it. I take back my comment about him flat-out lying, but still note his unnecessary attack.

  172. #172 Celtic_Evolution
    April 16, 2010

    So, as I said before, how do you know that all the evidence you’ve mentioned was not was placed there by God to mislead man.

    Parsimony. Such a thing is so silly a postulation as to not warrant consideration.

    Look up Occam’s Razor… oh… and stop thinking that science works by telling you things that are certain. It doesn’t work that way.

    I can’t tell you for 100% certain that god is not possible… but I can tell you that there’s absolutely no evidence for it, so there’s no reason to believe in him, or assign things we can otherwise explain with evidenced-based science to god any more than we would assign them to the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Doing so defies parsimony.

  173. #173 Meyrick Kirby
    April 16, 2010

    How do you know Might Mouse didn’t leave it there to mislead god to mislead man (and only men, thank goodness!) to mislead each other about reality?

    I don’t. So back to my question. How do you know that all the evidence that contradicts the bibical genesis story was not was placed there by God to mislead man?

  174. #174 SC OM
    April 16, 2010

    (or perhaps my friends aren’t quite high enough)

    Well. Sven, maybe.

  175. #175 Meyrick Kirby
    April 16, 2010

    I can’t tell you for 100% certain that god is not possible

    So you admit God might exist? Does that mean you admit the biblical genesis story might be true?

  176. #176 Carlie
    April 16, 2010

    I don’t. So back to my question. How do you know that all the evidence that contradicts the bibical genesis story was not was placed there by God to mislead man?

    We don’t, but what makes that claim any more deserving of any special treatment than the Mighty Mouse hypothesis? They’re both tinfoil hat concepts of the universe that deserve nothing more than pity for the person deluded enough to believe in them, and wrathful scorn for the person deluded enough to try and force everyone else to behave as if they were true.

  177. #177 David Marjanovi?
    April 16, 2010

    More to the point I wasn’t talking to you!

    Apparently it can’t be said often enough…

    Of course you were. If you didn’t want us to comment on your comment, you’d have sent Prof. Myers an e-mail; however, you didn’t.

    So, how does anyone know those things that are known aren’t false?

    How does anyone know anything?

    By finding out what implications for reality an idea has. If reality doesn’t fit those implications, the idea is wrong.

    Now, you wrote “the biblical genesis story“. Are you even aware that there are two of them, one right behind the other, that contradict each other?

    What tangible evidence? No one has supplied any evidence so far.

    Dude, in the building where I used to work there was a big block of red, white, and brown rock in layers: red, white, brown, red, white, brown, red, white, brown… It’s alternating layers of rock salt and clay. The obvious interpretation is that the area in question ? Alsace; look up where that is ? was a shallow sea basin that dried up. One salt after the other, depending on its solubility, precipitated out of the brine; that’s why the color changes from red to white. Finally it was completely dry, and the wind blew dust in; that’s the thin clay layer. This sequence is repeated perhaps 10 times in a block as big as a desktop computer ? again and again, the sea came back, the clay layer protected the underlying salt from being dissolved, and then the water above the clay layer dried up again and again.

    How does that rock square with Noah’s flood, for instance?

    Or take the drill cores from where the ice of Antarctica is thickest. The longest core recovered so far has 740,000 year-layers, each with summer and winter. No flood in it, no creation 6,000 years ago. How do you explain that away?

    Mind you, I appreciate your polite responce.

    Politeness is a distraction. What is said matters, not how it is said.

    isotopes with shorter half-lives are not, the only exceptions being those that are generated by current natural processes

    That is, they’re found in uranium deposits, where uranium decay produces them as fast as they themselves decay.

    So what if “God is a deceitful sack of shit”?

    Then not only is Christianity wrong, but… the important point is that we don’t need that idea to explain anything. It’s simply not necessary to make such an assumption. Look up the principle of parsimony (one of the two parts of the scientific method).

  178. #178 Sven DiMilo
    April 16, 2010

    we’ve been brains in vats since last Tuesday, man

  179. #179 Celtic_Evolution
    April 16, 2010

    How do you know that all the evidence that contradicts the bibical genesis story was not was placed there by God to mislead man?

    If yo’re going to take this position of not trusting the knowledge the scientific method presents you, then I offer you one single challenge:

    How do you know that if you jump off a tall building you will plummet to the ground and splat all over the ground? How do you know it’s all just not an illusion.

    Maybe you should try it out. Clownshoe.

  180. #180 Meyrick Kirby
    April 16, 2010

    We don’t, but what makes that claim any more deserving of any special treatment than the Mighty Mouse hypothesis?

    I don’t claim that the biblical genesis story deserves special treatment, it is Tobin and Dusheck that gave it special treatment by bringing it up.

  181. #181 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawlZhMUnjA9BsWP9zojf401f2aINdplmJP0
    April 16, 2010

    Broken record is broken.

  182. #182 Gregory Greenwood
    April 16, 2010

    Meyrick Kirby @ 150;

    Just one example from one discipline, that’s all I ask.

    Alright. I am a scientific layman, but the things that spring to mind for me would be:-

    1) Radiography, the study of the decay of radiologoical isotopes that degrade at a fixed, constant rate indicates that the age of the earth is measured in billions, not thousands, of years;

    2) Geology, specifically the study of the tectonic activity that accompanied the reformation of the planet’s landmass from the super-continenet Pangea to the modern configuration;

    3) Astronomy, specifically the observation of the speed of light that, paired with an understanding of phenomena such as doplar shift, helps us calculate the distance of astronomic bodies from Earth. Some such bodies are several billion light years away, indicating that the light must have been travelling for several billion years to reach us, which proves that the age of the universe is greater than that described in the genesis account;

    4) Genetics, the idea that all of humanity is decended from two individuals is not supported by genetic science. A substantially larger population would be required to maintain genetic diversity and thus viability. The deleterious effects of in-breeding are well documented. The idea that Eve was created from Adam’s rib is entirely contrary to our understanding of the human genome;

    5) Paleontology, the discovery of innumerable fossils of species not described in scripture that clearly inhabited an envirnment substantially different from contemporary ecological norms cannot be reconciled with the biblical account as presented in Genesis.

    This is far from an exhaustive list, just that which I could come up with on the spur of the mement as a self-confessed layman.

    I suspect that my suggestions will fall on deaf ears, however, given your statement that;

    All the evidence that contradicts the bibical genesis story was placed there by God to mislead man, i.e. the evidence is either false or at least misleading.

    This is a convenient ‘magic sky-fairy’ get-out-of-logical-jail-free card. I ask again; why demand evidence if you have already decided that there is no evidence that could ever persuade you? Why even bother with debate if you reject reason itself?

  183. #183 frog, Inc.
    April 16, 2010

    Kirby: All the evidence that contradicts the bibical genesis story was placed there by God to mislead man, i.e. the evidence is either false or at least misleading.

    Wow, kindergarten solipsism.

    Wow. The most nonsensical position imaginable.

    Wow. What a waste of a human being.

    He might as well be just posting nonsense strings.

  184. #184 Aaron Baker
    April 16, 2010

    Meyrick:

    If you’re not just being a provocateur, I think Celtic_Evolution’s response is adequate. However, to get more specific about radiometric dating, you can look at this Wikipedia entry on potassium-argon dating: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potassium-argon_dating (Potassium-40 has a half-life of 1.3 billion years).

    Then take the conclusion of Biblical scholars that the Torah and some other books of the Hebrew Bible have a definite chronological scheme (see Wikipedia again at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biblical_chronology). The exact contours of that scheme are open to dispute (not least because of divergent manuscript traditions), but there’s little doubt that the authors of the Hebrew Bible thought the world was only some thousands of years old.

    So, potassium-argon right, Genesis wrong.

  185. #185 David Marjanovi?
    April 16, 2010

    Which makes God a deceitful liar who intentionally misleads people. Since He is considered by His followers to be the source of the Genesis story and the Bible, the entire thing is an untrustworthy source and can’t be trusted. Therefore the Genesis story is probably wrong.

    “How stupid of me not to have thought of this myself!”
    ? Thomas Henry Huxley, in a… slightly different context.

  186. #186 Celtic_Evolution
    April 16, 2010

    I don’t claim that the biblical genesis story deserves special treatment, it is Tobin and Dusheck that gave it special treatment by bringing it up.

    Actually, no, buddy… you’re wrong…

    It was the State of Tennessee and William Bell Riley who brought it up by insisting special privilege to faith over science in passing an anti-evolution law that led to the Scopes monkey trial, which this book is specifically referring to.

    Try again.

  187. #187 Anodyne
    April 16, 2010

    The more important question, Kirby, is why should we care?

    What if this chair I’m in is only a figment of my imagination and my nerves have been programed by god in such a way that my ass feels like it’s sitting on it?

    What if my left hand is really my right hand?

    What if I’m really supposed to be using my ears to smell things?

    What if a giant tree troll jumps onto my car, destroys my windshield, drags you me into the street and rapes my eye socket?

    What if aliens are spying on my thoughts?

    What if there’s a secret society of bluefin tuna that are controlling every government in the world?

    What if your penis turns into a hooker vagina?

    An intelligent person doesn’t waste their life worrying about such trivial shit. It’s a completely invalid question you’ve posed, and if you think it’s an idea with any meritorious standing, you’re sorely mistaken.

  188. #188 Meyrick Kirby
    April 16, 2010

    I ask again; why demand evidence if you have already decided that there is no evidence that could ever persuade you?

    I demand evidence to demonstrate that strictly speaking there is no evidence that can disprove the existence of god, or the bibical creation story.

  189. #189 Brownian, OM
    April 16, 2010

    I don’t. So back to my question. How do you know that all the evidence that contradicts the bibical genesis story was not was placed there by God to mislead man?

    Easy. We don’t.

    However, operating under that assumption and the millions of variants it engenders would render us completely unable to function. And I don’t mean that scientifically, I mean that we’d be unable to function as humans: “Hmm, every time I’ve been hungry I’ve found that most things other humans seem to call ‘food’ will quell that feeling if I put it in my mouth and swallow, but what if a deity no-one’s ever even considered before named Clorbgron has manufactured all my memories of hunger and food? What do I do now?”

    You might want to look up solipsism, and then ask yourself what it would mean to actually act as if it were the most likely description of the universe, such as it were?

    So we take principles such as parsimony and uniformitarianism, which every human in the history of the planet have generally used to navigate their lives even if they didn’t know them as such, and we give them names and shore up some of their details, and we say, Good enough, and if we can make predictions based on these principles and past observed behaviour that turn out to be true, we call it a win.

    In fact, as I’ve described above, you and every other human (barring extreme cases of mental disorder) do the exact same in a much less scientific manner every single hour of every single day.

  190. #190 KOPD
    April 16, 2010

    untrustworthy source and can’t be trusted

    I’m kicking myself over that. It’s redundant and repetitive.

  191. #191 Gregory Greenwood
    April 16, 2010

    When did I say the bibical genesis story is true, and other religious creation stories are false? I never said either.

    I admit that I made an inaccurate assumption here. When you said ‘genesis’ I assumed you meant ‘Genesis’ as in the chapter in the Bible and the Talmud.

    This does not alter the underlying point that, if evidence has no value, how do you distinguish one myth from another? Are not they all equally meanigful, and thus all equally meaningless?

    Wouldn’t it just be reduced to a pick’n’mix of mythology? Believe what you want, and make no attempt to determin what actually happened? This seems to be a quixotic exercise.

  192. #192 Celtic_Evolution
    April 16, 2010

    I demand evidence to demonstrate that strictly speaking there is no evidence that can disprove the existence of god, or the bibical creation story.

    The only way you can make that statement in any way plausible is to also believe that, strictly speaking, you can’t prove you exist.

    Which would really be OK with me at this point.

    I’m done.

  193. #193 Jadehawk, OM
    April 16, 2010

    if all we know can be explained with scientific theories, or the idea that an invisible, intangible, unevidenced being put it all there to fuck with us, the sane thing will be to go with the explanation for which there is evidence. everything else is mental masturbation.

  194. #194 darwinsdog
    April 16, 2010

    In fact, the only more effective killer, among metazoans on planet earth, than the domestic cat, is a certain hairless bipedal primate. . . .

    What about a weasel? Or a shrew? Compared to a cat, I mean, not the cannibal ape.

  195. #195 Meyrick Kirby
    April 16, 2010

    kindergarten solipsism

    There’s nothing wrong with “kindergarten solipsism”. Einstein attributed his success to asking the questions children ask.

    It was the State of Tennessee and William Bell Riley who brought it up by insisting special privilege to faith over science in passing an anti-evolution law that led to the Scopes monkey trial, which this book is specifically referring to.

    No, Tobin and Dusheck called the bibical creation story a myth, a falsehood. Even you have admitted God might exist, and presumably think the creation story might be true.

  196. #196 Sven DiMilo
    April 16, 2010

    strictly speaking there is no evidence that can disprove the existence of god, or the bibical creation story

    right, OK, that’s as far as you got in Remedial Epistemology.

    Nobody claims otherwise. The “strictly speaking” inability to ‘prove’ a universal negative is stipulated at square one. Now, to move beyond that, and to get mainstreamed with the rest of the big kids, you might consider examining some of the freaking mountains of positive evidence we have about where the planet and its denizens did, in fact, come from. Many useful suggestions above. (Is ‘freaking’ polite enough?)

  197. #197 Diane G.
    April 16, 2010

    #166Posted by: Feynmaniac | April 16, 2010 4:55 PM

    Meyrick is a Poe…

    Can’t believe it took so long for someone to point that out.

    Ignore him/her/it, already.

    PZ wrote:

    What this is actually about is that De Dora is a personal friend of Pigliucci’s…

    Precisely. And I submit we’ve seen instances where

    What this is actually about is that De Dora Dawkins is a personal friend of Pigliucci’s PZ’s…

    …would be just as applicable.

  198. #198 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawlZhMUnjA9BsWP9zojf401f2aINdplmJP0
    April 16, 2010

    All the evidence that contradicts the bibical genesis story was placed there by God to mislead man, i.e. the evidence is either false or at least misleading.

    Or maybe it’s the complete opposite : he created the universe and let it complete it’s course so it gave us all this evidence, which is “true”, but he placed the Genesis story there just to test the blind faith of his followers. Of just to fuck with them.

  199. #199 frog, Inc.
    April 16, 2010

    Kirby: I demand evidence to demonstrate that strictly speaking there is no evidence that can disprove the existence of god, or the bibical creation story.

    You know, boring people will get you banned from Pharyngula.

    And you’re as boring as a small child repeating “but why” over and over again to see when you finally give up.

  200. #200 Jadehawk, OM
    April 16, 2010

    I demand evidence to demonstrate that strictly speaking there is no evidence that can disprove the existence of god, or the bibical creation story.

    it still remains a useless explanation: it’s unnecessary, unevidenced, it doesn’t help us understand the world any better, and it doesn’t open any new lines of inquiry.

    it’s an utterly worthless explanation; until there’s any evidence that it might be true, there’s no reason to assume it is. that would be stupid.

  201. #201 Meyrick Kirby
    April 16, 2010

    how do you distinguish one myth from another?

    You can’t. Which leads to the question, why did Tobin & Dusheck claim one specific creation story was false? Why did they distinguish it from all others?

  202. #202 Brownian, OM
    April 16, 2010

    I demand evidence to demonstrate that strictly speaking there is no evidence that can disprove the existence of god, or the bibical creation story.

    There’s no possible evidence that can disprove any solipsistic hypothesis, be it the claim that I’m a brain in a jar being fed data or that God, the Devil, or Kim Deal of the Pixies hid evidence to mislead us into thinking She didn’t create the entire universe for the sole purpose of recording “Gigantic”.

    So what?

  203. #203 Anodyne
    April 16, 2010

    At one point I meant to agree with PZ’s choice of herding animal, but became distracted:

    The lion spin makes me recall a bumper sticker I once saw that said “Too many Christians. Not enough lions.”

    *giggles*

  204. #204 MadScientist
    April 16, 2010

    Oh Hail the Holy Dictionary! Which dictionary is it? I must purchase one immediately to discover how I can be saved! Pigliucci is sounding sillier by the minute.

  205. #205 Meyrick Kirby
    April 16, 2010

    The “strictly speaking” inability to ‘prove’ a universal negative is stipulated at square one

    So, is this another person admitting God might exist, and the Genesis story is correct. You weak willed lot are dropping like flies.

  206. #206 Jadehawk, OM
    April 16, 2010

    You can’t. Which leads to the question, why did Tobin & Dusheck claim one specific creation story was false? Why did they distinguish it from all others?

    because the believers in no other ones tried to get them legislated into the classroom; the line was part of a historical background which is part of the introduction of each chapter of their books, and it was on “teach the controversy” lawsuits.

    facts. they’re useful.

  207. #207 Brownian, OM
    April 16, 2010

    You can’t. Which leads to the question, why did Tobin & Dusheck claim one specific creation story was false? Why did they distinguish it from all others?

    This was your fucking question?

    Let me ask you one: when you go to the bank to open an account, do you start by screaming at the manager “Hey fuckwit, explain the origins of currency!” so that fifty minutes later you can get around to the comparing the different interest rates?

  208. #208 KOPD
    April 16, 2010

    No, Tobin and Dusheck called the bibical creation story a myth, a falsehood.

    definition of “myth”
    Interestingly, the idea of a myth being invented or fictitious isn’t introduced until the 3rd definition for “myth”, but for “story” it’s the second. So you just called it a falsehood yourself. The word “narrative” may be innocuous, but I’m not even sure of that.

  209. #209 Krystalline Apostate
    April 16, 2010

    All the evidence that contradicts the bibical genesis story was placed there by God to mislead man, i.e. the evidence is either false or at least misleading.

    Surprised no 1 else caught this:
    Which story? There’s actually TWO narratives, not 1, & they contradict each other.
    How do we know 1 wasn’t planted to mislead, & the other is factual?
    & really, who needs a deity who plays 3 Card Monty w/the facts?

  210. #210 Meyrick Kirby
    April 16, 2010

    and the Genesis story is correct

    That should be

    and the Genesis story might be correct

  211. #211 David Marjanovi?
    April 16, 2010

    How do you know that if you jump off a tall building you will plummet to the ground and splat all over the ground? How do you know it’s all just not an illusion.

    It’s called the theory of gravity for a reason, you know… :-)

    Radiography, the study of the decay of radiologoical isotopes

    Radiometric dating, the study of radioactive isotopes…

    from the super-continenet Pangea to the modern configuration

    Importantly, Pangaea is not the original configuration either. Its assembly only ended some 270 million years ago. 600 Ma ago there was another supercontinent… and 1 Ga ago there was another…

    doplar

    Doppler.

    strictly speaking there is no evidence that can disprove the existence of god,

    That depends on how ineffable the god in question is. But even then, there’s always the principle of parsimony ( = Ockham’s Razor = Occam’s Razor, to make googling easier for you).

    or the bib[l]ical creation story

    Disproving that nonsense isn’t even necessary, because the two nonsensical stories contradict each other to boot!

    Which is it, huh? Man and woman together and last? Or man first, then everything else, and then woman?

    principles such as parsimony and uniformitarianism

    The latter is just a special case of the former.

    the cannibal ape

    Oh, cannibalism isn’t limited to humans. It has also been recorded in chimpanzees and bonobos.

    Einstein attributed his success to asking the questions children ask.

    …but not to asking questions that have been asked so often that they’ve been answered long ago…

    Wanker.

  212. #212 frog, Inc.
    April 16, 2010

    There’s nothing wrong with “kindergarten solipsism”. Einstein attributed his success to asking the questions children ask.

    The Stupid! It Burns!

    I hope Einstein’s ghost cuts off your typing finger tonight as you sleep.

    You know, it’s all just quantum like Deepak says. He’s like Einstein, isn’t he?

  213. #213 stevieinthecity#9dac9
    April 16, 2010

    Kirby.

    “In the 1970s and 1980s, antievolutionists in Arkansas, Tennessee and Louisiana passed identical bills calling for “equal time” for teaching evolution and creationism, the biblical myth that the universe was created by the Judeo-Christian god in six days. But a court ruled that the “equal-time” bill was unconstitutional on the grounds that it violated the separation of church and state.”

    Understand now? It was talking about specific attempts to have their myth given equal time.

  214. #214 Jadehawk, OM
    April 16, 2010

    So, is this another person admitting God might exist, and the Genesis story is correct. You weak willed lot are dropping like flies.

    your reading comprehension is shit. extreme solipsism != proof for genesis. fucking idiot

  215. #215 Gregory Greenwood
    April 16, 2010

    Carlie @ 168;

    Otherwise you might as well sit tight in a windowless room by yourself for your entire life, since you can’t trust anything that’s out there.

    But what if there is no room, just like there is no spoon? Then Hugo Weaving could get you anyway…

  216. #216 Meyrick Kirby
    April 16, 2010

    So you just called it a falsehood yourself.

    Actually it was sinz54 up at comment #6 who called it a falsehood, and Myers agrees with him at comment #12.

  217. #217 jcmartz.myopenid.com
    April 16, 2010

    When it comes to creationism (ID), no appeasement shall be shown.

  218. #218 darwinsdog
    April 16, 2010

    Oh, cannibalism isn’t limited to humans. It has also been recorded in chimpanzees and bonobos.

    Our extinct congeners likewise.

  219. #219 Meyrick Kirby
    April 16, 2010

    your reading comprehension is shit

    You’re own reading comprehension is shittier. You should have read further on. I used the wrong wording, which I corrected in a later comment.

  220. #220 Joffan
    April 16, 2010

    All this pillow-fighting with Meyrick Kirby is beside the point.

    The original post:

    The definition, “an unfounded or false notion”, still means that the authors were using an entirely accurate word.

    Hey Myers, you tosser. How do you know the bibical genesis story is false?

    The answer is: It’s unfounded, therefore fits that definition.

  221. #221 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawlZhMUnjA9BsWP9zojf401f2aINdplmJP0
    April 16, 2010

    @Krystalline Apostate

    I did at 153 and David did at 177.

  222. #222 Sven DiMilo
    April 16, 2010

    Yes, one or the other of the Genesis creation mythsstories might be true, IF pretty much everything we can actually observe about the world is false and misleading AND if all the other conflicting stories are wrong. OK?

    SO WHAT?

  223. #223 Krystalline Apostate
    April 16, 2010

    So, is this another person admitting God might exist, and the Genesis story is correct.

    Can’t disprove leprechauns either, sorry.

  224. #224 Meyrick Kirby
    April 16, 2010

    Yes, one or the other of the Genesis creation mythsstories might be true, IF pretty much everything we can actually observe about the world is false and misleading AND if all the other conflicting stories are wrong. OK? SO WHAT?

    So why are Tobin and Dusheck saying it’s false?

  225. #225 Brownian, OM
    April 16, 2010

    Then Hugo Weaving could get you anyway…

    How do you know Agent Smith even exists? Neener, neener!

  226. #226 aratina cage
    April 16, 2010

    All the evidence that contradicts the bibical genesis story was placed there by God to mislead man, i.e. the evidence is either false or at least misleading.
    -Meyrick Kirby #152

    Is this some kind of funny trick by Massimo Pigliucci? Trying to show how smart he is against the evil atheist horde who need to take a class in Philosophy 101?

    I’ve been thinking about this kind of crappy worldview, recently (due to Pigliucci), and I think it can be said that even if God is tinkering behind the scenes to trick people, believing that empirical evidence is a trick carries as much weight as an approach to reality as not believing it is a trick—it won’t change how things are. So you can stamp your feet and whine all you want about how everything is fake and everything we know is one big switcheroo done by God, but it won’t change the fact that even in such a tricky, fucked-up universe, science still works.

    So I have news for you, Kirby, even in your hypothetical universe where God is playing around behind the scenes, the scientific approach still gets things done. It is like a fundie nightmare. You would know it is all fake, but the only way to get anything done would be to accept the fake evidence or at least treat it as if it were not fake. God could really be that much of a sicko. In the end, it would only make a difference psychologically to the believers in that scenario.

  227. #227 Gregory Greenwood
    April 16, 2010

    David Marjanovi? @ 211;

    Thanks for the assist with both scientific accuracy and my (horribly risible) spelling.

  228. #228 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 16, 2010

    Pathetic isn’t a word strong enough.

    No, the peer reviewed scientific literature, in particular the geology portion, show absolutely no sign of dah flud. TOTAL and absolute refutation of biblical inerrancy.

    I demand evidence to demonstrate that strictly speaking there is no evidence that can disprove the existence of god, or the bibical creation story.

    We don’t have to disprove your imaginary deity. Negatives can’t be proven. Instead, you must show conclusive evidence for your imaginary deity. Evidence that will pass muster with scientists, magicians, and professional debunkers as being of divine, and not natural, origin. Do you happen to have an eternally burning bush laying around? You need something of that caliber. Get busy, as we are eagerly waiting your evidence…

  229. #229 KOPD
    April 16, 2010

    No, Tobin and Dusheck called the bibical creation story a myth, a falsehood.

    Which leads to the question, why did Tobin & Dusheck claim one specific creation story was false?

    Actually it was sinz54 up at comment #6 who called it a falsehood, and Myers agrees with him at comment #12.

    So you are admitting you were mistaken about Tobin and Dusheck calling the Genesis bullshit false?

  230. #230 David Marjanovi?
    April 16, 2010

    So why are Tobin and Dusheck saying it’s false?

    See comment 226.

    Again: it is neither possible nor necessary to disprove solipsism.

  231. #231 nejishiki
    April 16, 2010

    ‘”God put fossils here to test our faith!”
    I think God put you here to test my faith, dude.’

    -Bill Hicks

  232. #232 Meyrick Kirby
    April 16, 2010

    So you are admitting you were mistaken about Tobin and Dusheck calling the Genesis bullshit false?

    No, I’m saying that Tobin & Dusheck mean falsehood when they say myth, and Myers seems to believe they do indeed mean falsehood.

  233. #233 Sven DiMilo
    April 16, 2010

    So why are Tobin and Dusheck saying it’s false?

    Because: everything we can actually obseve about the world suggests very strongly that it is false. If I admit, for reasons of philosophical epistemology, that there is a vanishingly small chance that nutty idea X might be true, that does not affect my confidence in an alternative explanation that is far more consistent with empirical observation and logic.

    To wit, clearly, we are mere brains in vats. We need to spend less time trying to figure out where the brains came from and concentrate our attention on the origins of the damn vats!!!!

  234. #234 Ewan R
    April 16, 2010

    Meyrick….

    You don’t even have to look outside the bible to have evidence that the biblical creation story is false.

    There are two of them.

    They contradict each other.

    Therefore it is a safe assumption that at least one of them is false on that regard.

    First God creates the earth before he creates the sun, moon and stars. This is clearly a false chronology any way you look at the scientific evidence.

    If you look at the chronologies of when various forms of life were created you come across more evidence that the biblical story is incorrect – birds were created before creatures of the land – empirically this is incorrect, regardless of how you look at the ‘days’ of genesis – things that can be classified as creatures of the land appear in the fossil record before things that can be classified as birds, in other hard evidence molecular biology puts the common ancestor of all birds as a far more recent arrival on the scene than the common ancestor of all land animals (and here there is a nice divide between different types of land animals, showing that clearly not all land animals were created at the same time).

    Also man is created after livestock. This is clearly false also, as man created livestock. As evidenced by archaeology and molecular biology.

    And that’s just Genesis 1, way before Phil Collins even considered a solo career.

  235. #235 Paul
    April 16, 2010

    So why are Tobin and Dusheck saying it’s false?

    They’re saying that it’s a myth that was ruled unworthy of science class by a court, you blithering idiot. Read the actual book. They’re covering the Scopes trial in a rather even-handed way.

    Everyone else: subthread done. There’s really no point in feeding the troll. He’s been provided all the relevant information pertaining to this situation.

  236. #236 Jadehawk, OM
    April 16, 2010

    So why are Tobin and Dusheck saying it’s false?

    they aren’t. we are, because it’s counterfactual. that’s what “false” means. there’s no sane reason to assume that all evidence is wrong, and unevidenced creation-myths are right instead.

  237. #237 Meyrick Kirby
    April 16, 2010

    If I admit, for reasons of philosophical epistemology, that there is a vanishingly small chance that nutty idea X might be true

    How do you know that idea X has a vanishingly small chance of being true? How did you measure that chance? More to the point, why bring up idea X in a science class room?

  238. #238 Jadehawk, OM
    April 16, 2010

    More to the point, why bring up idea X in a science class room?

    because the history of science is part of science.

  239. #239 Joffan
    April 16, 2010

    A question for Meyrick Kirby:

    What do you mean when you say “God”? The bizarre and malevolent role you are pretending to believe in is not one that most people would feel really accords with the use of that word.

  240. #240 Gregory Greenwood
    April 16, 2010

    Brownian, OM @ 225′

    How do you know Agent Smith even exists? Neener, neener!

    Ahh, but to channel Meyrick Kirby, how can you definitively prove that Agent Smith does not exist? What if it is Hugo Weaving who is the illusion? Just another form adopted by the Agent super-programme? What if the Matrix movies themselves were just a suitably meta attempt to discredit the idea of the Desert of the Real? What if Meyrick Kirby is in actuality Keanu Reaves, and thusly Mr. Anderson, Neo and indeed The One?

    Spooky…

    Does that make you Morpheus?

    I wonder if that would make Carlie Trinity?

    Carlie, how do you feel about skin-tight black PVC outfits?

  241. #241 Meyrick Kirby
    April 16, 2010

    They’re saying that it’s a myth that was ruled unworthy of science class by a court

    Do you even know yourself what you mean by “unworthy of (a) science class”?

  242. #242 Brownian, OM
    April 16, 2010

    We need to spend less time trying to figure out where the brains came from and concentrate our attention on the origins of the damn vats!!!!

    *Knock, knock!*
    “Good morning, Sir. I’d like to take a few minutes of your time to tell you the Good News about ACME Brain Vat Co.”

  243. #243 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    April 16, 2010

    So, is this another person admitting God might exist, and the Genesis story is correct. You weak willed lot are dropping like flies.

    You’re a moron who is also incorrect. It takes a hell of a lot more will to be an atheist then it does to go along with what we were taught at birth.

    Oh, right, actual substance too:
    I admit the technical possibility of a god of some sort. But until it shows itself, I will continue to say it does not exist. Krishna, YHWH, Elore, Hathor, Apis, Santa Claus, and Aliens all might actually be real entities. But until we have empirical evidence that one exists, I will continue to say that they’re not real.

    So why are Tobin and Dusheck saying it’s false?

    Because you have no evidence that all physical evidence is tomfoolery planted by a trickster god. You might actually be correct, but until you provide evidence on the matter, parsimony demands that we discard the explanation.

    As a side note, I find it interesting that you offer this explanation for how the physical evidence speaks against God’s myths. YHWH was very up front throughout the old testament, making his will and existence known through fairly obvious actions. I also find it amusing that you don’t seem to care to engage why YHWH is real, but mighty Thor is not. Don’t you want to go to the warriors’ paradise upon your death?

  244. #244 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 16, 2010

    MK, what physical evidence do you have to show that your babble isn’t a book of mythology and fiction, with a little history thrown in? We are waiting for your physical evidence, which seems to be in very short supply…

  245. #245 'Tis Himself, OM
    April 16, 2010

    The troll is playing the same game as an annoying 5 year old: “Why…why…why…why….”

    I suspect he’s trying to get us to admit “since there is a chance, however slight, that God exists, therefore God.”

  246. #246 Meyrick Kirby
    April 16, 2010

    It takes a hell of a lot more will to be an atheist then it does to go along with what we were taught at birth.

    How do you know what I was brought up with a birth? How do you know my father was not an Oxford trained physicist who taught me atheism (or at least never bothered to teach me about religion)?

  247. #247 Brownian, OM
    April 16, 2010

    @Gregory Greenwood:

    Ahh, but to channel Meyrick Kirby back at you, I’m going to ignore all the implications of solipsism you posted except for the ones that support my pet conclusion and agree with you that Carlie is indeed Trinity, or, as the Omniscient Space Rhino That No One Has Evidence For But Nonetheless Cannot Disprove likes to call her, Carlity.

  248. #248 KOPD
    April 16, 2010

    … “since there is a chance, however slight, that God exists, therefore God.”

    … is a BLT sandwich. Can’t prove it wrong.

  249. #249 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 16, 2010

    Yawn, still nothing but hot air from MK. Almost like he has nothing but hot air…

  250. #250 molto legato e sostenuto
    April 16, 2010

    I’ve met and talked with both Ron Lindsay and PZ. I like them both and what they’re each working for in general. I’m trying to drag my atheist fiancee out to CFI in LA more often, but I think one of the principle things she likes about being an atheist is sleeping in on Sunday morning.

    I agree with PZ here and have to applaud his ferocious eloquence in this post.

  251. #251 Brownian, OM
    April 16, 2010

    How do you know my father…never bothered to teach me…?

    In this case, the evidence at hand supports your assertion.

  252. #252 darwinsdog
    April 16, 2010

    How do you know that idea X has a vanishingly small chance of being true? How did you measure that chance?

    You can’t measure that chance. Hence, statements such as “The existence of god or the supernatural is improbable,” or “‘god did it’ is less parsimonious than a natural explanation” are incorrect. When atheists or more correctly agnostics invoke parsimony in arguments against theists, they open themselves to the contention that “god did it” is actually the most parsimonious explanation for an observed phenomenon, from a perspective within nature, since it posits only one explanatory parameter rather than an entire concatenation of natural causes & effects. This being the case, it is better to drop appeals to probability and parsimony from the argument altogether.

    I think that everyone gets your point Meyrick. No one can disprove the existence of god or of the super- or para-natural. But to my mind you overstate your case by claiming that specific creation myths, such as the biblical account, can’t be adequately falsified, for reasons such as those given by Ewen above.

  253. #253 aratina cage
    April 16, 2010

    More to the point, why bring up idea X in a science class room?

    Meyrick Kirby, did you not read the original post?

    Here’s the full quote from the book, Tobin and Dusheck’s Asking About Life…:

    In the 1970s and 1980s, antievolutionists in Arkansas, Tennessee and Louisiana passed identical bills calling for “equal time” for teaching evolution and creationism, the biblical myth that the universe was created by the Judeo-Christian god in six days. But a court ruled that the “equal-time” bill was unconstitutional on the grounds that it violated the separation of church and state.

    Short answer: it is in a section dealing with the history of evolution. How exactly do you propose teaching science without bringing history into the classroom?

  254. #254 David Marjanovi?
    April 16, 2010

    There’s really no point in feeding the troll.

    The tradition here is to feed the troll till he explodes.

  255. #255 Jadehawk, OM
    April 16, 2010

    How do you know what I was brought up with a birth? How do you know my father was not an Oxford trained physicist who taught me atheism (or at least never bothered to teach me about religion)?

    trying to be nice, and giving you the benefit of the doubt. it’s one thing to never extricate oneself from religious childhood brainwashing, and an entirely different to do that to oneself voluntarily.

  256. #256 Pierce R. Butler
    April 16, 2010

    In the 1970s and 1980s, antievolutionists in Arkansas, Tennessee and Louisiana passed identical bills…

    So far as I can recall or dig, no reference to the Louisiana legislation involved in the Edwards v. Aguilard case describes it as being “identical” to that of any other state.

    Even allowing for the substitution of respective state names, aren’t Tobin and Dusheck making an inaccurate (as in, flat wrong) factual statement here?

  257. #257 Brownian, OM
    April 16, 2010

    The tradition here is to feed the troll till he explodes.

    PZ, you still got some o’ them wafer-thin Cathocrackers?

  258. #258 David Marjanovi?
    April 16, 2010

    since it posits only one explanatory parameter rather than an entire concatenation of natural causes & effects

    You’ve completely missed the point that all those “natural causes & effects” are already known to exist and operate, while that “one explanatory parameter” is an otherwise completely unknown entity, and to assume it is completely unnecessary to explain anything. “What is is not to be multiplied beyond necessity” is the original wording of Ockham’s Razor: enta non sunt multiplicanda super necessitatem.

  259. #259 Gregory Greenwood
    April 16, 2010

    Meyrick Kirby @ 188;

    I demand evidence to demonstrate that strictly speaking there is no evidence that can disprove the existence of god, or the bibical creation story.

    Usually, the burden of proof falls upon the individual making the assertion. As Carl Sagan said, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Disproving something to the level you appear to be demanding may be impossible. It is always conceivable that all the evidence we have amassed has somehow been misinterpreted, that critical peices of evidence that support biblical creation have somehow been missed, but the odds against are astronomical. You could apply the same logic to werewolves, but I feel no need to go around carrying a gun loaded with silver bullets. Do you take this (if the current evidence on lycanthropy is wrong) elementary precaution?

    Also, @ 201 you said;

    …why did Tobin & Dusheck claim one specific creation story was false? Why did they distinguish it from all others?

    In the context of the textbook they were describing the premier example in the US of a religion challenging the teaching of the scientific account of the origin of life on earth. The case in question involved Christian creationiusts. The intent does not seem to be to single out Christianity from other religions out of some anti-christian bias. If the principle challenge had come from Islamic Scholars of the Koran promoting the Islamic form of creationism then I do not doubt that it would be that religion that was discussed in the text.

    It would be unreasonable to expect the authors to individually identify every variation of creation myth in existence to avoid claims of singling out Christianity, and discussing creation mythology in general misses the relevant point that it was a Christian creationist challenge to the teaching of science that was at issue.

  260. #260 CJO
    April 16, 2010

    When atheists or more correctly agnostics invoke parsimony in arguments against theists, they open themselves to the contention that “god did it” is actually the most parsimonious explanation for an observed phenomenon, from a perspective within nature, since it posits only one explanatory parameter rather than an entire concatenation of natural causes & effects. This being the case, it is better to drop appeals to probability and parsimony from the argument altogether.

    As you’re just repeating this blather from another thread, I will just repeat what I said to you there: This would reduce parsimony to a vacuous exercise in semantics. You’re (apparently willfully) confusing simplicity of expression with simplicity of explanation.

    Unpacked, what this means is that you’re not allowed to bundle together the “entire concatenation of natural causes & effects,” label it with a three-letter nonsense word, and call that “only one explanatory parameter.” I find it hard to believe that you genuinely do not understand this.

  261. #261 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    April 16, 2010

    How do you know what I was brought up with a birth? How do you know my father was not an Oxford trained physicist who taught me atheism (or at least never bothered to teach me about religion)?

    Several reasons lead me to suspect that you were not.

    1: Christianity is the majority religion of english speaking countries, although it’s declining. You have a much better then even chance of being raised a Christian then anything else. Especially if you argue for Christianity.
    2: You’re not addressing substantial points.
    3: You didn’t pose that question as a hypothetical.
    4: You dropped a big name university as proof of atheism.

    Now how about addressing some of the substantial points, like offering evidence for your assertions.

  262. #262 Meyrick Kirby
    April 16, 2010

    But to my mind you overstate your case by claiming that specific creation myths, such as the biblical account, can’t be adequately falsified

    Bugger, I’m not in the same class as Socretes. No surprise, but still disappointing. I was hoping to make my point just by asking questions (the Socratic method), but it looks like I’ll have to state my point directly.

    A scientific hypotheses is a hypotheses that is open to being falsified, that is, a test or piece of evidence might disprove it. Religious creation myths can never be falsified, and therefore don’t belong in the science class.

    When Tobin and Dusheck call Genesis a myth (falsehood?), and Myers says it’s false, they in a bizarre way elevate such nonsence to the level of science. They don’t even deserve that!

    So I think sinz54 is right. Far better to call them unscientific stories, because that is actually a far better condemnation.

    My second point was I generally don’t like abusive language in serious discussions. It simply gets in the way. By pretending to be some nutty biblethumper, I think at least some people rose to the bait. I think Gregory Greenwood gave a better response.

    Finally, I must guiltily admit admit, pretending to be a nutty biblethumper was fun!

  263. #263 Paul
    April 16, 2010

    The tradition here is to feed the troll till he explodes.

    Not all trolls explode. I have no interest in another Silver Fox, presupping for months before our Tentacled Overlord gets too bored of him. Solipsism is right up there next to presupposition in my book of “trolls that aren’t interesting enough to feed”.

  264. #264 Gregory Greenwood
    April 16, 2010

    Brownian, OM @ 247;

    Ahh, but to channel Meyrick Kirby back at you, I’m going to ignore all the implications of solipsism you posted except for the ones that support my pet conclusion and agree with you that Carlie is indeed Trinity, or, as the Omniscient Space Rhino That No One Has Evidence For But Nonetheless Cannot Disprove likes to call her, Carlity.

    Hmmm? Sorry, I was distracted by thoughts of a comely young woman in skin-tight Black PVC.

    Yes, I am a sad and lonely man…

    Carlity it is, Browneus (that’s the preferred name for you as decreed by the Omniscient Space Rhino That No One Has Evidence For But Nonetheless Cannot Disprove. Honest).

    You do understand that we have to start calling Carlie ‘Carlity’ now, at least until she tells us to stop before she scorpion-kicks us into submission…

  265. #265 aratina cage
    April 16, 2010

    #262 = trolling

  266. #266 stuv.myopenid.com
    April 16, 2010

    How do you know my father was not an Oxford trained physicist who taught me atheism (or at least never bothered to teach me about religion)?

    Ah, but that’s not important. Who did he go to school with? Who did he meet at conferences last year? And most importantly: does PZ owe him a Leica camera body?

  267. #267 David Marjanovi?
    April 16, 2010

    Religious creation myths can never be falsified

    Not if you apply the same standards that make “solipsism cannot be falsified” true. But if you do that, what can be falsified?

    I have no interest in another Silver Fox, presupping for months before our Tentacled Overlord gets too bored of him.

    Okaaaaay… but ignoring that one wouldn’t have made him go away either, would it?

  268. #268 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    April 16, 2010

    A scientific hypotheses is a hypotheses that is open to being falsified, that is, a test or piece of evidence might disprove it. Religious creation myths can never be falsified, and therefore don’t belong in the science class.

    Wrong. Religious CREATION myths have been falsified. They made testable claims about the origin of the universe.

    Now, a lot of religious myths don’t make testable claims. But they’re rarely the big ones. The Epic of Gilgamesh made some testable claims (We have no evidence for a giant bull that rampaged through Babylon). The bigger the myth, the more testable it is (There’s little evidence that a giant war happened between the Kauravas and the Pandavas, or that the Amerindians were ever white people that were cursed by God)

  269. #269 darwinsdog
    April 16, 2010

    Poe’s Law, Meyrick. I never took you for a nutty biblethumper but inevitably some did. I would agree that the existence of god or of the supernatural can’t currently be falsified but I wouldn’t say “…can never be falsified.” Perhaps we just don’t know how to test such contentions experimentally yet. I do agree with you that a probability can’t be assigned to the question of the existence or nonexistence of god or the supernatural. As for specific creation myths, these can be tested and potentially falsified.

    As has been pointed out, “myth” has various definitions. Myth = falsehood is only one of them. In the sense of an allegorical story meant to teach some precept or moral, Tobin and Dusheck may have used it in a non-derogatory sense.

    As for abusive language in serious discussions, Myers encourages his attack dogs to be abusive and they happily oblige!

  270. #270 Gregory Greenwood
    April 16, 2010

    Pehaps ‘Morphian’? Hmmm. I cannot decide which would be better…

    Cue Carlity riding a motorcycle off a nearby building, acrobatically back flipping off the plummeting machine, and blowing the fuel tank with gunfire right above my living room in 3,2,1 *sound of huge explosion*.

  271. #271 Meyrick Kirby
    April 16, 2010

    Not if you apply the same standards that make “solipsism cannot be falsified” true. But if you do that, what can be falsified?

    No, scientific hypotheses can be falsified, Karl Popper 101!

  272. #272 frog, Inc.
    April 16, 2010

    My second point was I generally don’t like abusive language in serious discussions. It simply gets in the way

    Wow you may actually be Pugli-whatever. You know, I usually sneer at the lumpen who complain about the wasted money in academia… but in this case, I’m thinking the world needs serious cutbacks in philosophy funding. Being that it’s vanishingly small already, I think that would be a satisfying end to a bad kind of masturbation.

  273. #273 tutone21
    April 16, 2010

    The original article:

    PZ is right and De Dora is wrong (along with the guy from Tennessee). So why are people sentimental about it? Thicken your skin if you don’t like being told you are wrong. I am get told that every day! Story, myth, tale…whatever you want to call it. Educators are paid to teach our children. I don’t want them telling kids lies and I don’t want “sensitive” issues left out.

    The critique:
    Massimo is wrong too. If a person is wrong (Tennessee guy) and wants to make a big stink about it, or a person sides with losing/incorrect argument (De Dora) then he/she is an idiot. It should be noted that these people are idiots so others aren’t misled by the idiocy that they are selling.

    And being wrong isn’t a bad thing. It allows people to recognize and adjust to be better in the future. For Fuck sake…the fucking tone tolls get their feelings hurt…suck it the fuck up.

  274. #274 David Marjanovi?
    April 16, 2010

    Popper assumed that reality was, like, real. Solipsism assumes it’s not.

    Come on.

  275. #275 Gregory Greenwood
    April 16, 2010

    My last post, of course, would require either a Matrix environment or the application of ‘Hollywood Physics’, what with fuel being very unlikely to explode if shot, and the fuel content of a motorcycle being far too small to be capable of producing a huge explosion.

    As the Mythbuster’s say, any correlation between Hollywood and reality is purely coincidental.

  276. #276 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    April 16, 2010

    Come to think of it, I can’t think of a religious myth that doesn’t make testable claims besides the birth of Ganesha. Most of them are just so stories that explain elements of nature, which makes them testable, and we can definitively say they were wrong (The tides are caused by the moon’s gravity, not drinking a huge amount of booze from the oceans, there are no sentient monkey people residing in Indian forests, etc etc etc)

  277. #277 Carlity, Space Rhino sidekick of doom
    April 16, 2010

    Carlie, how do you feel about skin-tight black PVC outfits?

    Ok, with enough talc for ease of movement. However, wearing one would make me easy to confuse with Brownian’s Space Rhino. :)

    “Good morning, Sir. I’d like to take a few minutes of your time to tell you the Good News about ACME Brain Vat Co.”

    JARS, I tell you! They’re stored in JARS! Oh, sorry, had a thread flashback there.

    How do you know my father was not an Oxford trained physicist who taught me atheism (or at least never bothered to teach me about religion)?

    Oh, dear. Don’t tell me this is really all about your daddy issues. We don’t have time to deal with your problems! You, sir, are no Walton!

    As for the whole mess, the reason I don’t entertain ideas like “Maybe there is a God and he’s faking us all out” is that they are entirely useless for living. I operate with certain assumptions about the world, and they work. When I throw something, it can cause damage to whatever it hits. When I send electricity coursing through this little machine on my lap, it causes lights to flash in certain very predictable patterns. Within the world I inhabit, everything does, in fact, follow the rules that people have worked out over time. So why bother postulating that it’s all a dream? I have work to do, and activities to enjoy, and things to discover, and people to love. There is no need to sneer at it and pretend that it is not real in favor of some nebulous concept of a god invented a couple of thousand years ago who would be capricious enough to fool us all.

  278. #278 Meyrick Kirby
    April 16, 2010

    I would agree that the existence of god or of the supernatural can’t currently be falsified but I wouldn’t say “…can never be falsified.”

    Quite right. But I think my central point is still true. By claiming that science disproves creation stories ends up elevating them.

    As for specific creation myths, these can be tested and potentially falsified.

    I don’t think so, since as I demonstated above, they can always retreat to claiming the evidence was placed there deliberate to mislead for some unknown divine purpose.

    As has been pointed out, “myth” has various definitions.

    Yes, but most of the people here think that’s what was meant, and they are happy with that. But, I’m not, since it gives religious ideas too much credit.

    As for abusive language in serious discussions, Myers encourages his attack dogs to be abusive and they happily oblige!

    It is entertaining, but it still gets in the way of serious discussion. Would you not admit my abusive language got in the way? Are we not have a more constructive discussion?

  279. #279 David Marjanovi?
    April 16, 2010

    Or to put it in longer words: science assumes* methodological naturalism. Solipsism contains a denial of methodological naturalism.

    * Funnily enough, naturalism ? the idea that miracles don’t happen to often; the idea that reality is consistent; the idea that the world is to a large degree regular and predictable ? is itself a scientific hypothesis! It is being tested in every single observation, and has never failed. Science really does pull itself up by its own bootstraps, doesn’t it?

    I like the definition of “myth” that is “religion that nobody believes in anymore”. But in any case, I’ll go to bed now, it’s late enough over here!

  280. #280 Meyrick Kirby
    April 16, 2010

    Are we not have a more constructive discussion?

    Sorry, that should be:

    Are we not now having a more constructive discussion?

  281. #281 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    April 16, 2010

    I don’t think so, since as I demonstated above, they can always retreat to claiming the evidence was placed there deliberate to mislead for some unknown divine purpose.

    The burden falls on someone else to prove it happened then.

  282. #282 kiyaroru
    April 16, 2010

    Poor Kirby.
    All that time, all those posts, all that time pretending&trade to be a tosser and PZ never even typed one word at him.

  283. #283 Meyrick Kirby
    April 16, 2010

    The burden falls on someone else to prove it happened then.

    No, the burden falls on someone else to demonstrate why we should bother with their unscientific theories.

  284. #284 Gregory Greenwood
    April 16, 2010

    Meyrick Kirby @ 262;

    I think Gregory Greenwood gave a better response.

    I must respectfully disagree. I made a number of serious factual errors (not to mention spelling mistakes) in my posts that David Marjanovi? was kind enough to correct. I think that factual accuracy and discursive content should really trump tone in any serious debate.

    darwinsdog @ 269;

    As for abusive language in serious discussions, Myers encourages his attack dogs to be abusive and they happily oblige!

    That’s attack cephalopods, thank you. PZ encourages unvarnished debate and the forthright exchange of views. I choose to moderate my language, but others convey their passion for the subject, or their immediate level of frustration with obstinacy, by the use of more direct language. Once again, content is what matters, not tone. I assume we are all adults here (apologies to any Pharyngulites who are still legal minors); we should have thick enough skins to deal with forceful expressions of opinion.

  285. #285 Meyrick Kirby
    April 16, 2010

    All that time, all those posts, all that time pretending? to be a tosser and PZ never even typed one word at him.

    Again, demonstrates my point. By using abusive point, some people are still pissed at me.

  286. #286 Carlity, Space Rhino sidekick of doom
    April 16, 2010

    A scientific hypotheses is a hypotheses that is open to being falsified, that is, a test or piece of evidence might disprove it. Religious creation myths can never be falsified, and therefore don’t belong in the science class.

    Are you that dense? The reason it was in the textbook is because there was a section on the history of evolutionary thought, with reference to a major trial that had an impact on science education in the entire United States, that hinged specifically on one particular creation myth. It would be impossible to adequately cover that history without mentioning it.

    When Tobin and Dusheck call Genesis a myth (falsehood?), and Myers says it’s false, they in a bizarre way elevate such nonsence to the level of science. They don’t even deserve that!

    As Rutee just mentioned (and has been said innumerable times), it does make specific claims that its adherents say that are indeed real in the sense of having physically happened, which places them squarely in the realm of science. And those have been indeed been falsified, in the realm of science.

    Finally, I must guiltily admit admit, pretending to be a nutty biblethumper was fun!

    Didn’t quite work as nutty biblethumper. More like nutty UFOlogist who co-opts religious language to try and sound slightly more socially acceptable.

  287. #287 David Marjanovi?
    April 16, 2010

    Would you not admit my abusive language got in the way?

    You? Abusive language? I don’t even remember…

    Are we not now having a more constructive discussion?

    No. It’s calmer, but exactly as boring as before. :-|

    as I demonstated above, they can always retreat to claiming the evidence was placed there deliberate to mislead for some unknown divine purpose.

    No, because any such argument immediately ends in the paradox explained in comment 170.

  288. #288 Meyrick Kirby
    April 16, 2010

    The reason it was in the textbook is because there was a section on the history of evolutionary thought, with reference to a major trial that had an impact on science education in the entire United States, that hinged specifically on one particular creation myth. It would be impossible to adequately cover that history without mentioning it.

    I have no problem with Tobin and Dusheck bring it up. I have a problem with them calling it a myth (false).

  289. #289 Carlity, Space Rhino sidekick of doom
    April 16, 2010

    Would you not admit my abusive language got in the way? Are we not have a more constructive discussion?

    Um, no. It wasn’t abusiveness that was the problem in your language, it was the idiocy.

  290. #290 Gregory Greenwood
    April 16, 2010

    Blockquote fail @ 284. That should be:-

    darwinsdog @ 269;

    As for abusive language in serious discussions, Myers encourages his attack dogs to be abusive and they happily oblige!

    That’s attack cephalopods, thank you. PZ encourages unvarnished debate and the forthright exchange of views. I choose to moderate my language, but others convey their passion for the subject, or their immediate level of frustration with obstinacy, by the use of more direct language. Once again, content is what matters, not tone. I assume we are all adults here (apologies to any Pharyngulites who are still legal minors); we should have thick enough skins to deal with forceful expressions of opinion.

  291. #291 aratina cage
    April 16, 2010

    No, the burden falls on someone else to demonstrate why we should bother with their unscientific theories.
    -Meyrick Kirby

    Why should we bother????? How many question marks need to be appended to that? For fuck’s sake, read the fucking quote from the book again. They were trying to get rid of science! Fine Meyrick, don’t bother. Let’s all welcome the New Dark Age with gleeful accommodation.

  292. #292 Meyrick Kirby
    April 16, 2010

    Once again, content is what matters, not tone. I assume we are all adults here (apologies to any Pharyngulites who are still legal minors); we should have thick enough skins to deal with forceful expressions of opinion.

    I’ve been through the blood bath that is the PhD thesis viva, and more, so I have a thick skin. I can happily take abusive language, such as some are still using. But my point remains, it doesn’t help.

  293. #293 SteveM
    April 16, 2010

    I have no problem with Tobin and Dusheck bring it up. I have a problem with them calling it a myth (false).

    They did not call it a “myth(false)”, they called it a “myth”,period, which it is. “False” is not the only definition of “myth”.

  294. #294 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    April 16, 2010

    No, the burden falls on someone else to demonstrate why we should bother with their unscientific theories.

    Because their active peddling of nonsense is interfering with the public’s understanding of science.

    Are you an idiot?

    I have no problem with Tobin and Dusheck bring it up. I have a problem with them calling it a myth (false).

    It is a myth. Myths are the stories of the various religions.

    Do you know why we use the word ‘myth’ to mean false? Because we kept applying the word to dead religions and not live ones. I just think they should be treated equally.

  295. #295 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 16, 2010

    No, the burden falls on someone else to demonstrate why we should bother with their unscientific theories.

    That start with you fool. Still no evidence for anything other than hot air. We are waiting for your evidence. I know we will be waiting for years. Prove me wrong…

  296. #296 Meyrick Kirby
    April 16, 2010

    They were trying to get rid of science!

    And you’re helping them. You’re actually helping them blur the boundaries of what is, and what is not science.

  297. #297 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    April 16, 2010

    You’re going to claim academic cred.

    Now, I generally take people at face value. They’re not generally self admitted liars.

    And you’re helping them. You’re actually helping them blur the boundaries of what is, and what is not science.

    Said the man who thinks no religious claim is testable.

    Lightning is caused by Thor clanging his hammer against a giant’s skull.

  298. #298 Gregory Greenwood
    April 16, 2010

    Carlity, Space Rhino sidekick of doom @ 277;

    Ok, with enough talc for ease of movement. However, wearing one would make me easy to confuse with Brownian’s Space Rhino. :)

    Why should only very young women (or men for that matter) of a certain body type feel the benefits of Skin-Tight black PVC? Do not let the body-fascists rule your life! Arm yourself with talc, and rock that PVC body glove hard! Confidence is the sexiest thing, afterall.

    (I say this from a position of utter hypocrisy, since I myself could never muster the courage to do anything so outrageous. Being a teetotaler, complete inebriation is also not an option. That should not stop braver souls than I, however.)

  299. #299 Caine, Fleur du mal
    April 16, 2010

    MK:

    I can happily take abusive language, such as some are still using. But my point remains, it doesn’t help.

    Really, you can fuck off anytime now. Your ‘arguments’ are full of idiocy and your continued commentary on tone and style are pointless and boring. You are far from the first concern troll to show up. The Intersection awaits you, MK.

  300. #300 Meyrick Kirby
    April 16, 2010

    Said the man who thinks no religious claim is testable.

    If religious claims are testable, then they are scientific. Ergo you’re demonstrating my point: You’re blurring the lines between what is, and what is not science.

  301. #301 aratina cage
    April 16, 2010

    You’re actually helping them blur the boundaries of what is, and what is not science.
    -Meyrick Kirby

    I’ve seen this pop up on the Pugliucci threads today. What does it mean? Could you explain it more fully, please?

  302. #302 Meyrick Kirby
    April 16, 2010

    I’ve seen this pop up on the Pugliucci threads today. What does it mean? Could you explain it more fully, please?

    1. Scientific theories are testable, i.e. falsifiable.
    2. Religious stories are not testable.
    3. But claiming relgious stores are testable, you’re elevating them to science. This is a bad idea.
    4. Better to simply say they aren’t science.

    Clear?

  303. #303 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    April 16, 2010

    If religious claims are testable, then they are scientific. Ergo you’re demonstrating my point: You’re blurring the lines between what is, and what is not science.

    Religious creation myths can never be falsified, and therefore don’t belong in the science class.

    These are mutually exclusive, when you remember we have evidence on how life and the universe came to be.

  304. #304 windy
    April 16, 2010

    Herding ferrets?

  305. #305 aratina cage
    April 16, 2010

    If religious claims are testable, then they are scientific.
    -Meyrick Kirby

    Sports fans have no problem accepting that they win some and lose some. Why must we shield fans of a god from losing? They are the ones who want to play against science, after all. Also, we are not the ones inserting our favorite imaginary creature into every secular place we can find, they are.

  306. #306 Deen
    April 16, 2010

    Why is it that people who complain about tone so often say the nastiest things, but think that’s OK because they used words that were more proper?

  307. #307 CJO
    April 16, 2010

    If religious claims are testable, then they are scientific.

    If a claim refers to empirical matters, such as the age of the Earth, then “religious” is a red herring. It’s a claim. Full stop. And we know how to assess the truth of empirical claims.

    I mean, really, this whole line of argument is just as stupidly trollish as your alter ego’s was. If I founded a religion based on, say, the charge of the electron, and I claimed it was different than it actually is, does the claim suddenly become not amenable to empirical investigation because I labeled it “religious”?

    Or is it actually interesting to you that I could be claiming that the electron has a “real” charge, different from its empirically derived value, that is untestable in principle?

  308. #308 MoonShark
    April 16, 2010

    Meyrick, instead of trolling this thread with bad philosophy, I recommend you go watch Neil Shubin explain the discovery and importance of Tiktaalik. It’s pretty easy to understand and gives a good feel for fossils contribute to evolutionary theory.

    Of course if you’re going to keep messing up burden of proof and positing a deceitful busybody deity that goes around planting fossils carefully into strata, then you might as well go lock yourself up in solitary confinement — because then you’ve robustly undermined your own ability to acquire new knowledge. A “creator” is effectively an infinite well of energy, the existence of which is contradicted by absolutely everything we know of physics, geology, chemistry, biology, etc. If you can’t at least reconcile with laws of thermodynamics, any argument for a deity that interacts with the universe is DOA.

    Seriously though, just go watch Shubin; he’s great.

  309. #309 Meyrick Kirby
    April 16, 2010

    Why must we shield fans of a god from losing?

    To lose they have to be let onto the field in the first place. Better to demonstrate they don’t even belong on it.

  310. #310 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    April 16, 2010

    Unrelated to the topic at large, PZ treating cats as something harmless tells me he’s never had one.

  311. #311 SteveM
    April 16, 2010

    If religious claims are testable, then they are scientific. Ergo you’re demonstrating my point: You’re blurring the lines between what is, and what is not science.

    This is getting stupider than the solipist troll persona.

    Religion making claims about reality is “blurring the lines”, not science by disproving false claims. Using science to test propositions is science whether those propositions originate in the bible, the vedas or the internet. “blurring the lines” only happens when “science” uses unscientific methods like claiming negative emotions causes psychic experiments to fail.

  312. #312 Feynmaniac
    April 16, 2010

    Meyrick Kirby,

    Finally, I must guiltily admit admit, pretending to be a nutty biblethumper was fun!

    Trolling is a bannable offense you fucking moron.

    1. Scientific theories are testable, i.e. falsifiable.
    2. Religious stories are not testable.
    3. But claiming relgious stores are testable, you’re elevating them to science. This is a bad idea.
    4. Better to simply say they aren’t science.

    Clear?

    Sigh, see my comment here.

  313. #313 WowbaggerOM
    April 16, 2010

    Meyrick Kirby wrote:

    If religious claims are testable, then they are scientific. Ergo you’re demonstrating my point: You’re blurring the lines between what is, and what is not science.

    If science can’t test something, what makes you can perceive it? What do you have that science doesn’t?

  314. #314 Paul
    April 16, 2010

    Better to simply say they aren’t science.

    If you call a tail a leg, how many legs does a horse have?

    It doesn’t matter if you don’t want to think of it as a scientific claim. But if a religion says the earth is 6000 years old, that’s a scientific claim. If a religion says women get pregnant by having ear sex, that’s a scientific claim. If it claims all life on earth was killed (with the exception of two of each species and 7 humans) by a flood, that’s a scientific claim.

  315. #315 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 16, 2010

    Religious stories are not testable.

    Wrong. If they claim historical accuracy, or make obvious physical claims, they can be checked. Like the lack of evidence for an imaginary deity. After 2000 years, lack of evidence becomes evidence of lack. Same for the exodus, and dah flud…

    But claiming relgious stores are testable, you’re elevating them to science.

    Only to be falsified, that is proved wrong. Happens almost every time. Which is why the babble is a book of myth. You don’t understand anything, do you?

  316. #316 aratina cage
    April 16, 2010

    Meyrick Kirby #302,

    Clear?

    Yes, I understand that, but I think you need to define who is doing the elevating. In other words, I think #3 is not telling the whole story. Imagine if, for instance, we didn’t have religion influencing the law (indeed, protected by the law in many cases), then I probably would be more inclined to agree that religion is a sleeping dog so let it lie. Right now, it’s like a pit bull nipping at our heels and the heels of science; things could get out of hand, even bloody, if we don’t take the time to train the dog that this is not OK. I think these court cases did just that.

  317. #317 'Tis Himself, OM
    April 16, 2010

    Meyrick Kirby #278

    It is entertaining, but it still gets in the way of serious discussion. Would you not admit my abusive language got in the way? Are we not have a more constructive discussion?

    Fewer people were annoyed by your abusive language than were annoyed by your feeble attempts to use the socratic method (by the way, you misspelled Socrates). Few if any of the regulars here get upset about abusive language, profanity, swearing, or obscenity. We do get irked at someone playing silly games, which you were doing.

    “The Earth is 4.5 billion years old” is no more or less true than “the Earth is 4.5 billion years old, you shithead.”

  318. #318 kantalope
    April 16, 2010

    ZOMG Myth doesn’t mean what the fundies think

    nor does the word theory. They also have weird meanings for words like true, reality, and proof. Should the science books take out all the words that can’t be agreed upon? Maybe take out the words that have more than one meaning?

    The poor oppressed religious types are just looking to be offended.

    That missmo guy thinks that PZ thinks that because of what that Dora guy said, that Dora guy plays with his wiener. Now that is projecting or just plain crazy.

  319. #319 Meyrick Kirby
    April 16, 2010

    misspelled Socrates

    Spell flamming?

  320. #320 Carlity, Space Rhino sidekick of doom
    April 16, 2010

    If religious claims are testable, then they are scientific.

    Some are, some aren’t.

    God made Jacob wrestle with an angel for his blessing – not testable.

    God made the earth in 6 days, at a time that was 6000 years ago – testable.

    “What you do to the least of these, you do to me” – not testable.

    “some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom” – testable.

  321. #321 Meyrick Kirby
    April 16, 2010

    Yes, I understand that, but I think you need to define who is doing the elevating.

    You lot. You think religious ideas belong in the class room, which implicitly says they belong elsewhere, such as the Senate floor. You’re playing the creationists game, and judging by Congress, you’re losing big time.

  322. #322 SteveM
    April 16, 2010

    I think Kirby is taking the NOMA idea a little too far. When religion makes a testable claim, then it is perfectly fine for science to test it. Doing so does not “elevate” all of the religion to the status of “science”, just that particular claim. There are other aspects of religion that are less amenable to the scientific method, ethics and morality in particular. And while these can be approached scientifically it is not entirely unreasonable to accept that what has ended up in these various religions are not so much “true and false”, but “acceptable or unacceptable” and leave it to people to choose. This is what I understood by Gould’s NOMA concept. Science adresses the physical world, religion the “social” world (in general). But when a religion makes a fact based claim, there is no reason to make it immune from testing.

  323. #323 'Tis Himself, OM
    April 16, 2010

    Spell flamming [sic]

    No, just trying to teach the ignorant.

  324. #324 Gregory Greenwood
    April 16, 2010

    Meyrick Kirby @ 292;

    I can happily take abusive language, such as some are still using. But my point remains, it doesn’t help.

    While it may not help the clear expression of the substantive point being made, I think that it should be born in mind that this is a discussion thread on a blog, and as such is a fairly informal debating medium. The use of language that you might consider abusive is all but inevitable, and it would be extremely difficult to remove it without imposing a set of rules that would be so restrictive as to drive off many commentators. Besides, it is PZ’s blog. If he is content with the level of civility on the threads, then that is good enough for me.

    It is also worth considering the fact that this blog is periodically visited by individuals who do all in their power to antagonise and annoy the regular contributors here with nonsensical posts and lengthy screeds that consist of nothing but religious obscurantism, arguments from (pseudo)authority, and claims that anyone who doesn’t agree with their position is headed for fire and brimstone. This has worn on the patience of some regular contributors to the point that they are not prepared to listen to the same (usually already comprehensively debunked) arguments regurgitated yet again*. This can lead to the use of language that might be a shade more direct than you are used to or that I would ordinarily choose to employ, but so long as substantive arguments are made alongside the banter, then I do not see a problem.

    And you’re helping them. You’re actually helping them blur the boundaries of what is, and what is not science.

    Surely, If we do not seek to counter the pernicious and inaccurate propoganda put out by creationist groups in relation to the nature of observable reality then we are handing them victory on a plate?

    They have always sought to target the young and impressionable. They chose the field of combat, noy us. If science could be taught without interference from such people, then I would agree with you and say that such things should not be included in a biology textbook. Unfortunately, creationist have suceeded in generating an artificial controversy around scientific concepts that are so massively supported by such mountains of evidence that they are manifestly the best explanations available to account for the current data.

    If they are not opposed effectively, then the next generation could be inculcated with the idea that mythology has the same force as scientific theory, and from that basis all manner of even worse things could ensue. Within a few generations, manditory observance of the Christian religion within the contiental USA, and even those more secular countries like the UK, (from which I hail) could be a real possibility, with severe penalties for those who do not conform. Those are the stakes; continued scientific enlightenment, or a new Dark Age. I know whic I would choose.

    * Even my preference for avoiding confrontational language has cracked when confronted with the most irritating examples of this breed. Hyperon (an inveterate homophobe, misogynist and racist with a vastly inflated sense of his own intellectual capacity) springs to mind as an example. Admittedly, I chose to call him a ‘cad’ and a ‘bounder’ (mostly because such antiquated terminology really annoyed him for some reason. And because I am strange that way), rather than more contemporary forms of insult, but the principle is the same.

  325. #325 KOPD
    April 16, 2010

    I didn’t even remember MK using any abusive language. Had to go back and look for it. Still don’t see anything that really ruffled any feathers. It was the impenetrable wall of fucking clownshoe stupidity and self-righteous pissant arrogance (which is a trend that has outlasted the creotarded solipsist mental fist-fucking of a charade) that I found particularly annoying.

  326. #326 'Tis Himself, OM
    April 16, 2010

    You think religious ideas belong in the class room

    Once again, you’re wrong (boy*, you make a habit of being wrong, don’t you?). We think religious ideas should be discussed in the classroom when they conflict with scientific ideas.

    *Notice that boy with a small b.

  327. #327 Feynmaniac
    April 16, 2010

    No, scientific hypotheses can be falsified, Karl Popper 101!

    Popper’s views are hardly universally accepted. For a better philosophy of science see the Bayesian view (or here). It’s more powerful and it’s foundation is on firmer ground than falsification.

  328. #328 Caine, Fleur du mal
    April 16, 2010

    KOPD:

    [About MK] It was the impenetrable wall of fucking clownshoe stupidity and self-righteous pissant arrogance (which is a trend that has outlasted the creotarded solipsist mental fist-fucking of a charade) that I found particularly annoying.

    You are far from alone, and this gets a QFT.

  329. #329 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawlZhMUnjA9BsWP9zojf401f2aINdplmJP0
    April 16, 2010

    No, scientific hypotheses can be falsified, Karl Popper 101!

    If religious claims are testable, then they are scientific. Ergo you’re demonstrating my point: You’re blurring the lines between what is, and what is not science.

    No, you’re the one blurring the lines. A claim must be falsifiable to be considered scientific. Not all claims that can be falsified become “science”, or not in the sense you want to give it. Or it means that every trivial thing happening in my daily life is “science”.

  330. #330 Gregory Greenwood
    April 16, 2010

    Blockquote, I hate thee even as I love thee.

  331. #331 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 16, 2010

    You think religious ideas belong in the class room,

    No, they should be described as myth wherever and whenever possible. Classroom, main street, the senate. What a dense idjit.

  332. #332 Meyrick Kirby
    April 16, 2010

    Surely, If we do not seek to counter the pernicious and inaccurate propoganda put out by creationist groups in relation to the nature of observable reality then we are handing them victory on a plate?

    I didn’t say creationist should be ignored, rather your strategy is wrong. You’ll get further not be saying religion is wrong, but by saying it’s irrelevant, and that people should be ignoring it.

    Within a few generations, manditory observance of the Christian religion within the contiental USA, and even those more secular countries like the UK, (from which I hail) could be a real possibility, with severe penalties for those who do not conform.

    In the legal sense Britain is not secular, it has an established church with the head of state as its leader. It does not enjoy the constitutional separation of state and church that the US has, yet the US is far more religious. Is that because there has been lots of militant atheists in Britains recent history, or because lots of people in Britain just don’t care about religion?

  333. #333 Rebelest
    April 16, 2010

    PZ, I love you, man. For this:

    Organizing atheists is like herding lions, or at least ideally it should be. What we want is a community of fiercely independent, roaring, wrestling, arguing, fighting freethinkers; cross them, and you will get rhetorically mauled, and our battles are not about polite batting about with little kitty paws at issues, but should involve claws and fangs and uncompromising forcefulness. Everyone who is complaining that the harshness of the debate degrades the discourse, get stuffed; I think the call to weaken the vigor of the disagreement is the real degradation here.

    That was beautiful! A vision.

    I wonder what a world full of PZ’s would be like?

  334. #334 aratina cage
    April 16, 2010

    Meyrick Kirby #321,

    You think religious ideas belong in the class room,

    Well actually, in some ways I do. I’ll never understand why we keep religion completely out of schools because I think it keeps children from seeing how other people in other cultures or even in their own neighborhood think. Right now, I am thinking that I wouldn’t even mind it if there was a short lecture on young earth creationism in there somewhere that showed what it says and how science says otherwise, basically a short history of what people have thought about the origin of life. I’m all for unrestricted access to information, perhaps with respect to individual readiness (not necessarily age-appropriate but something like that) for some of it though.

    But you know what? I specifically remember instances in primary and secondary school where religious people effectively censored information and complicated education, not because it was something we couldn’t handle but because it offended their notions of reality. So I’m saying they are already in the classroom. It must be dealt with.

    which implicitly says they belong elsewhere, such as the Senate floor. You’re playing the creationists game, and judging by Congress, you’re losing big time.

    This appears to be a misunderstanding of what we are saying. We don’t mind if people are religious as long as they don’t attempt to force us into their religion or to unduly respect their imaginary space friend, or make it impossible to learn about reality, or take away our rights to not believe and not conform to their beliefs.

    Religious people can go or be anywhere they want to be, if only they could keep it to themselves. As I recall, PZ has moved on from saying the ideal kind of religion would be a hobby like knitting to saying that it would be more like masturbating. Do it in private, with friends, whatever, just enjoy it yourself and don’t bother other people with it who don’t want to participate in it with you.

  335. #335 Meyrick Kirby
    April 16, 2010

    I didn’t even remember MK using any abusive language. Had to go back and look for it. Still don’t see anything that really ruffled any feathers. It was the impenetrable wall of fucking clownshoe stupidity and self-righteous pissant arrogance (which is a trend that has outlasted the creotarded solipsist mental fist-fucking of a charade) that I found particularly annoying.

    My day is wasted if I don’t manage to piss off at least one person.

  336. #336 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawlZhMUnjA9BsWP9zojf401f2aINdplmJP0
    April 16, 2010

    MK, MK, MK… this reminds me of something…

  337. #337 Meyrick Kirby
    April 16, 2010

    Well, it’s late where I am so I’m off to sleep. But I’ll leave my 2 points.

    First, your startegy is wrong. You’ll get further by saying religion is not scientific and therefore is irrelevant, than saying it’s false.

    Secondly, by stating in science classrooms that certain religious ideas are false in you open the door for creationist to bring their ideas into the science classroom. Creationist will say “if they are allowed to argue religion is wrong in the science classroom, why can’t we argue it is right”, and that argument will win over a lot of people. In essence, I fear your strategy will backfire.

  338. #338 WowbaggerOM
    April 16, 2010

    Meyrick Kirby wrote:

    My day is wasted if I don’t manage to piss off at least one person.

    Your life is wasted if you don’t manage to do a little more than that. You certainly haven’t here.

  339. #339 John Morales
    April 16, 2010

    [meta]

    Wow, that troll using the ID “Meyrick Kirby” has gone from Poeing to trying to be cogent, yet the degree of inanity has decreased not one whit.

    In essence, I fear your strategy will backfire.

    Well, the troll is clearly expert at employing strategies that fail! :)

  340. #340 tutone21
    April 16, 2010

    MK, you are taking very large leaps here. The discussion started with the phrasing of the textbook used and it reffered to Creationism as a myth. Creationism states that the Universe is 6000 years old and that god created the world in 7 days. Science is able to investigate this claim. The evidence that has been presented bears out that this is false. That’s it! There is no logical path created here that aims science at disproving any of the other claims the bible makes.

    And how are you quantifying the religiousness of the US v. Britian? And why is it important?

  341. #341 Gregory Greenwood
    April 16, 2010

    Meyrick Kirby @ 332;

    I didn’t say creationist should be ignored, rather your strategy is wrong. You’ll get further not be saying religion is wrong, but by saying it’s irrelevant, and that people should be ignoring it.

    But when religious groups make testable claims about the nature of physical reality in direct contravention of scientifically established knowlege, the I think that it is right and proper for scientists to point out that, in relation to those specific points if nothing else, religion is indeed wrong, not merely irrelevant.

    Also, religion and religious lobbies are too powerful to be comfortably ignored. The more extreme groups, like the creationists, are actively seeking to manipulate and curtail scientific endeavour, and may be able to garner the political power to acheive their goals. They are also seeking to subvert science itself in a bid to create a veneer of credibility for their woo. The very definition of the scientific method and how it should be employed is under seige; this cannot simply be ignored.

    In the legal sense Britain is not secular, it has an established church with the head of state as its leader. It does not enjoy the constitutional separation of state and church that the US has, yet the US is far more religious. Is that because there has been lots of militant atheists in Britains recent history, or because lots of people in Britain just don’t care about religion?

    It is true that Britain is, nominally, not a secular society. The Church of England remains (for the timebeimg at least) Established. The Queen is indeed its leader. The UK has no written constitution, and so no constitutionally mandated seperation of Church and State.

    To say that the UK is not run as a secular society, however, is as inaccurate as to say that the UK is a monarchy and so not a proper democracy*. The Queen is a constitutional monarch only, and religion plays far less of a role in the process of UK governance than it does in the US (though still more of a role than I would like).

    The UK is comparitively less religious than the US, and this is more of a case of religious apathy than it is an expression of atheism (‘militant atheism’ is practically an oxymoron in these parts), but there is also the factor of our history as a nation. For a long time we gyrated wildly from Catholic to Protestant and back again with much bloodshed. We were involved in the continental religious wars for centuries. Our historical context as a nation may help to explain our attitude to religion.

    It is not as though hardcore religiosity and creationism are unheard of in the UK, however. Radical Islam and an increasing prevelence of surprisingly extreme and evangelical Christianity has been noted in the UK in recent years. In part this is an important from the US. I myself have encountered Mormon ‘elders’ on the streets of UK towns. The recent status of the UK (and Europe at large) as something of a haven from the more bonkers expressions of religion may be proven to be illusory sooner rather than later.

    This may be just another expression of the (usually economy related) saying that goes; ‘when the US sneezes, the UK catches cold’.

    * I am aware that this was not the point you were making, I am just seeking to clarify matters for any Pharyngulites unaware of the Byzantine oddities of UK constitutional law and its relationship to our national history.

  342. #342 MoonShark
    April 16, 2010

    MK said:

    generally don’t like abusive language in serious discussions. It simply gets in the way. By pretending to be some nutty biblethumper, I think at least some people rose to the bait.

    If you want to understand the role of swearing and tone, you have to come back as a polite, gracious, but genuinely curious religious person too! You’ll probably get polite, helpful responses.

    I don’t understand this myth that politeness is a one-way street. Maybe, just once, religious people could help combat the sterotypes of atheists as amoral baby-eaters, instead of (at best) being bystanders or (at worst) propagating the slander. Ever think of that? Why the hell would the actual repressed minority (that’s a fact, look at the poll numbers) have to kick off the diplomacy? How exactly is that supposed to do anything but maintain the status quo? “We’re sorry that we’ve let you slander us” — Fuck that.

  343. #343 Carlity, Space Rhino sidekick of doom
    April 16, 2010

    ou’ll get further by saying religion is not scientific and therefore is irrelevant, than saying it’s false.

    Says you and what evidence?

  344. #344 Gregory Greenwood
    April 16, 2010

    I fear I must away to bed (I would like to say, ‘to bed and my skin-tight black PVC clad lady friend’. Unfortunately, that would be a lie. At least for tonight.)

    You’ll just have to soldier on without my dazzling insights for now.

    (Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll get over the trauma eventually.)

  345. #345 aratina cage
    April 16, 2010

    In essence, I fear your strategy will backfire.
    -Meyrick Kirby, Prophet of the Accommodationists

    Is this maybe just a tiny little bit like waiting for the second coming of Jesus?

  346. #346 KOPD
    April 16, 2010

    My day is wasted if I don’t manage to piss off at least one person.

    Well, then for your sake I hope you pissed off somebody.

  347. #347 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawlZhMUnjA9BsWP9zojf401f2aINdplmJP0
    April 16, 2010

    First, your startegy is wrong. You’ll get further by saying religion is not scientific and therefore is irrelevant, than saying it’s false.

    Secondly, by stating in science classrooms that certain religious ideas are false in you open the door for creationist to bring their ideas into the science classroom

    First, that would mean you could never give background to some ideas. Like, Kepler thinking angels pushed planets…

    Second, by saying angels don’t push planets, I invite students to challenge it ?

    You seriously come out as a high school student who just read a Reader’s Digest account of the history of philosophy…

  348. #348 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 16, 2010

    First, your startegy is wrong.

    Yep, your strategy is wrong. And your spelling. Makes you look like a twit.

    You’ll get further by saying religion is not scientific and therefore is irrelevant, than saying it’s false.

    It is false. And unscientific. As if we care what you think in any case. Being a twit causes us to degrade what little intelligence you attempted to show. And no evidence. Opinion =/= evidence.

  349. #349 Diane G.
    April 16, 2010

    #317Posted by: ‘Tis Himself, OM | April 16, 2010 7:24 PM

    Meyrick Kirby #278

    (by the way, you misspelled Socrates).

    Bugged me more when he misspelled hypothesis. Twice (at least).

  350. #350 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    April 16, 2010

    @Meyrick Kirby #262:

    My second point was I generally don’t like abusive language in serious discussions. It simply gets in the way. By pretending to be some nutty biblethumper, I think at least some people rose to the bait. I think Gregory Greenwood gave a better response.

    You have a lot of nerve. It was obvious to a lot of people here that you were deliberately trolling, to begin with. That is the very definition and essence of rude, uncivil, universally reviled behavior. Like the tone trolls, you only recognize the incivility of “abusive language,” but you can’t wrap your mind around how despicable trolling is by its very nature. Nope, for you it’s just fine to lie, misrepresent your position, fly a false flag (and then claim you’re merely using the Socratic method), but “abusive language” “gets in the way” of “serious discussions.”

    Seriously. Seriously.

    You’re a rude fucker, and you’ve done more to derail this conversation than any cuss word I could hurl at you. You’re the very embodiment of boorish, obnoxious, anti-social participation. Your behavior (its substance not its tone) is some of the rudest I’ve seen on Pharyngula in a long time, and that’s saying something.

  351. #351 Krystalline Apostate
    April 16, 2010

    @ 221:
    Sorry, missed it. My bad.

  352. #352 Carlie
    April 16, 2010

    Ok, changing back from the vinyl to the comfy clothes for the night. My secret PVC-clad kickass identity shall be safe for another day. :)

    I’ve never quite understood why anyone would think that pretending to be something they’re not furthers a discussion. Either they’re bad at it and most people notice something is off anyway, or they’re good at it and… what? What gets accomplished that couldn’t otherwise be just by the person saying that these are the arguments of another group? In the early days of the internet, I was on a pregnancy/mothering board that, after being a close-knit group for almost two years, had someone come out as a “spy” who was just pretending as part of some weird grad school sociology project to see how these newfangled “internet groups” worked. I still don’t understand how it ever got past an IRB – either the school was a piece of shit, or it never went through the board and the person who did it got in huge trouble for it later (my preferred fantasy). It was jarring, to say the least. Simply made no sense at all. “Pretend to be someone else to get a rise out of other people” falls in the same realm to me as “knock their ice cream cone down on the ground because it’s funny” and “spread this rumor around and see what happens” – just incomprehensible and contemptible.

  353. #353 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawnxxLgyMv4ZUhObpIpAZ8TMah2agwnBiuw
    April 16, 2010

    PZ Myers,
    I have not been a regular reader of your blog and have read only your three blog posts on this matter and the only reason I read them and knew about this issue was because of Massimo?s post. Still, I knew that you were a prominent atheist and that you have been doing your part to promote critical thinking and that was all I needed to know to respect you. Who is right or wrong on this issue is fairly irrelevant to me; it?s your tone I can?t abide by. You are easily dismissive of the complaint against the tone of your posts and you claim Massimo to be hypocritical because he leveled plenty of insults against you but can?t you recognize the difference between your writing and his? Can?t you see how very tempered Massimo?s writing is? It?s a stretch to say anything in Massimo?s post was even an insult. Your writing on the other hand is self-indulgent to the point of being masturbatory. Furthermore, you?re writing all of this against people perfectly capable of holding reasonable, thoughtful discourse. Your tone is repugnant, woefully immature, and a completely valid point against you. Regardless of who is right, De Dora and Massimo deserve an apology.

  354. #354 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawnxxLgyMv4ZUhObpIpAZ8TMah2agwnBiuw
    April 16, 2010

    PZ Myers,
    I have not been a regular reader of your blog and have read only your three blog posts on this matter and the only reason I read them and knew about this issue was because of Massimo?s post. Still, I knew that you were a prominent atheist and that you have been doing your part to promote critical thinking and that was all I needed to know to respect you. Who is right or wrong on this issue is fairly irrelevant to me; it?s your tone I can?t abide by. You are easily dismissive of the complaint against the tone of your posts and you claim Massimo to be hypocritical because he leveled plenty of insults against you but can?t you recognize the difference between your writing and his? Can?t you see how very tempered Massimo?s writing is? It?s a stretch to say anything in Massimo?s post was even an insult. Your writing on the other hand is self-indulgent to the point of being masturbatory. Furthermore, you?re writing all of this against people perfectly capable of holding reasonable, thoughtful discourse. Your tone is repugnant, woefully immature, and a completely valid point against you. Regardless of who is right, De Dora and Massimo deserve an apology.

  355. #355 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawnxxLgyMv4ZUhObpIpAZ8TMah2agwnBiuw
    April 16, 2010

    I didn’t think my comment went through and tried posting it again. There appears to be no way to delete or edit the repeat, sorry.

  356. #356 Caine, Fleur du mal
    April 16, 2010

    Googlemess @ 353:

    Who is right or wrong on this issue is fairly irrelevant to me; it?s your tone I can?t abide by.

    Your tone is repugnant, woefully immature, and a completely valid point against you.

    See the bit I emphasized? That is why concern trolls (people who are obsessed with tone a/o style) are dismissed. You don’t care one whit about the substance of what was written. You can’t see the argument because of your pearl clutching.

    As you feel the actual subject is of no import; you’ll understand why I feel your missive of concern is useless and pointless. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, wouldn’t want you to lose your pearls or anything.

  357. #357 Deen
    April 16, 2010

    @unreadable account name in #353:

    Still, I knew that you were a prominent atheist and that you have been doing your part to promote critical thinking and that was all I needed to know to respect you.

    Which means you know next to nothing about critical thinking, but more than enough about group-think.

    Can?t you see how very tempered Massimo?s writing is?

    And here’s yet another person who doesn’t understand that you can write extremely nasty things without ever having to use strong language. You will find not one strong word in my entire reaction to you, and yet I am sure that you won’t like it much.

    Furthermore, you?re writing all of this against people perfectly capable of holding reasonable, thoughtful discourse.

    Apparently not, because they apparently needed you to come to their defense. Or was that mistake yours alone?

  358. #358 Jim Lippard
    April 16, 2010

    Victor (#48) wrote: “As far as I see it, modern science, with it’s evidence based stance, pretty much invalidates the entire philosophy of epistemology. From a scientific standpoint, there are right and wrong answers, as well as ones we just have to accept an agnostic stance about.”

    Uh, no. Your second sentence is, in fact, an epistemological claim. If you’re making statements about the norms governing what counts as knowledge, you’re in the field of epistemology.

    There has been a move towards “naturalized epistemology” since W.V. Quine, but although Quine initially suggested epistemology might be supplanted by cognitive psychology, this turned out not to be the case. Good epistemology should be *informed* by cognitive psychology, but the latter is descriptive rather than normative.

  359. #359 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    April 16, 2010

    @Googlemess #353 (Caine, it was too good not to steal!):

    it?s your tone I can?t abide by.

    You’re not only a tone troll who thinks Naughty Mean Words are inherently Bad, but doesn’t recognize substantive nastiness if it’s Prettily Worded, you don’t understand how to use idiomatic phrases. To wit:

    Wrong -”I can’t abide by the way you talk.”

    Right – “I can’t abide the way you talk.”

    “Abide by” is not a synonym for the phrase “I can’t stand” or “I don’t like.” You can only “abide by” or not “abide by” rules or stipulations. When you’re expressing extreme dislike for something, you merely “can’t abide” it . No “by” involved.

    Picky and pedantic? Yep. But someone who spritzes over Mean Tone and fucks up a perfectly good idiom in process has it coming.

  360. #360 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    April 16, 2010

    Oh, and Googlemess, #353? How do you square:

    Your tone is repugnant, woefully immature, and a completely valid point against you.

    with

    Your writing on the other hand is self-indulgent to the point of being masturbatory.

    For thee, but not for me, eh?

  361. #361 John Morales
    April 16, 2010

    id=AItOawnxxLgyMv4ZUhObpIpAZ8TMah2agwnBiuw:

    Your indignant whining is noted with amusement.

    I knew that you [PZ] were a prominent atheist and that you have been doing your part to promote critical thinking and that was all I needed to know to respect you.

    Well, since PZ remains a prominent atheist and still does his part to promote critical thinking and that, you must perforce still respect him, unless you’ve not changed your standard.

    You are easily dismissive of the complaint against the tone of your posts and you claim Massimo to be hypocritical because he leveled plenty of insults against you but can?t you recognize the difference between your writing and his?

    Leaving aside that you’ve basically ignored the substance of PZ’s post, can’t you recognize the difference [regarding hypocrisy] between [PZ's] writing and [MP's] is that PZ ain’t being hypocritical?

    Can?t you see how very tempered Massimo?s writing is?

    Ah, I see. You think the form of the language, rather than what is expressed by it, is the important part of communication.

    Can’t you see how shallow that is?

    Your writing on the other hand is self-indulgent to the point of being masturbatory.

    <spoing!>

    Your tone is repugnant, woefully immature, and a completely valid point against you.

    You appear to be woefully confused as to what constitutes critical thinking.

    Regardless of who is right, De Dora and Massimo deserve an apology.

    Fair enough.

    De Dora, Massimo — I’m so very sorry for you that your defenders must descend to pathetic criticism of your critics’ tone, since apparently they find nothing substantive with which to rebut such cricisism.

    Happy now? ;)

    PS Other Google users can manage to edit their name-string (cf. #10).
    Is so doing beyond your capability, or do you not care to do so, or is it that you weren’t aware that it was possible?
    (i.e. are you incompetent, rude or just ignorant?) :)

  362. #362 Deen
    April 16, 2010

    @John Morales in #361:

    i.e. are you incompetent, rude or just ignorant?

    Do we have to pick just one?

  363. #363 Caine, Fleur du mal
    April 16, 2010

    John Morales:

    De Dora, Massimo ? I’m so very sorry for you that your defenders must descend to pathetic criticism of your critics’ tone, since apparently they find nothing substantive with which to rebut such cricisism.

    Well said, Sir.

    (i.e. are you incompetent, rude or just ignorant?)

    I’m going to go with…all three.

  364. #364 Jadehawk, OM
    April 16, 2010

    so, first we had a solipsist NOMA-fundie of the “if I ignore the problem, it’ll go away by itself” variety (European most likely. The dynamics of American culture wars are completely beyond the understanding of anyone who hasn’t spent sufficient time over here).

    now we have a tone-troll with a potty mouth.

    they just don’t make trolls like they used to anymore.

  365. #365 aratina cage
    April 16, 2010

    Can?t you see how very tempered Massimo?s writing is?
    -#353

    *sputter* Bwahahaha! It was the smuggest thing I’ve read in awhile and the guy isn’t even a purist New Atheist but an accommodationist.

  366. #366 'Tis Himself, OM
    April 16, 2010

    The tone troll Googlemess not only whines about how rude PZ is but is rude to PZ in return. “Do as I say, not as I do.”

  367. #367 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    April 16, 2010

    And speaking of Googlemesses (there are a lot of them here):

    Is it really that hard to sign up for one of the many other ID/registration systems that don’t garble one’s name? I can understand that folks would prefer to have to sign up with only one ID system, and have that work across every site on which they comment. Hell, I’d prefer that.

    But it doesn’t seem to work that way. The only reason I ever signed up for Typepad was because it gave me the minimum amount of hassle to display my nickname (Josh, Official SpokesGay) and be able to sign in that way at Pharyngula. I don’t use it for any other site where I comment, and I’d just love it if I didn’t have to have a special Typepad account just for Pharyngula.

    But what I don’t do is refuse to sign up for any other system, and then expect people not to get annoyed if my name shows up as 89787%$%$54Gool.#$#$#$3-kehk$%3454.

    Sorry if this sounds peevish, but it strikes me as rude and tiresome when commenters keep posting with this ridiculous strings of characters, and expect other people to engage them. Put out a minimum amount of effort to either clear your name up, or sign up with another ID system. Or don’t expect anyone to respond to you or know who you are. You have no stable identity with that string of characters, and it just irritates everyone else.

  368. #368 Caine, Fleur du mal
    April 16, 2010

    Josh, OSG:

    Put out a minimum amount of effort to either clear your name up, or sign up with another ID system.

    Or, at the very least, sign the missive with an actual name of some sort. Long string names are all going to be Googlemess, Yahoomess and so on from now on.

  369. #369 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    April 16, 2010

    Long string names are all going to be Googlemess, Yahoomess and so on from now on.

    And lo, She hath decreed, and it will be so. Raaaaaa-meeeeen (sing in plagal cadence).

  370. #370 Feynmaniac
    April 16, 2010

    so, first we had a solipsist NOMA-fundie of the “if I ignore the problem, it’ll go away by itself” variety (European most likely. The dynamics of American culture wars are completely beyond the understanding of anyone who hasn’t spent sufficient time over here).

    now we have a tone-troll with a potty mouth.

    they just don’t make trolls like they used to anymore.

    Don’t forget LeeLee “We survived the potato famine so I can barter for my internet” One on this thread. Man these guys are boring.

  371. #371 kantalope
    April 17, 2010

    For Google…IPA and the rest of the concerntrolls:
    PZ and the rest of Pharyngula is not for carebears. It is not safe for children and anyone who still has a fainting couch.

    This is the WWF of bloggy discussion.

    If your tender feeling can’t take the bare-knuckleness that you will find here I would suggest a blog with links to scrabble tournaments – this part of the internet links to Octopus vs shark

  372. #372 steverino63
    April 17, 2010

    Been reading your own clippings a bit much, PZ? Sniffing a bit of glue?

    Being confrontational for confrontation’s sake is … well …

    Being confrontational for confrontation’s sake and not much else.

  373. #373 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawlpz7jEh4Bd2ZEPBFRrUjWoV1sjep_eJEw
    April 17, 2010

    Ok, here’s what would have solved everything at the the start:

    Replace the word “myth” with the phrase “complete fucking bullshit”. There. No complaints.

  374. #374 John Morales
    April 17, 2010

    steverino63:

    Being confrontational for confrontation’s sake is … well …
    Being confrontational for confrontation’s sake and not much else.

    Very good, you know how to spout a tautology.

    Now, do you really think PZ had no purpose other than confrontation for posting this, or are you just, um, being confrontational for confrontation’s sake? :)

    (Hint: Have you consider whether appeasement is a good strategy for effecting change, and whether those who decry it should appease those who are appeasers?)

  375. #375 Caine, Fleur du mal
    April 17, 2010

    steverino63:

    Being confrontational for confrontation’s sake is … well …

    Being confrontational for confrontation’s sake and not much else.

    My goodness, yet another one who can’t manage to read for comprehension. If you can’t grasp the substance, we really don’t need your substance-less posts. Your concern is noted, cupcake. Go alert the internet.

  376. #376 F
    April 17, 2010

    Oh, Piglucci:

    So that we are crystal clear on just how low these ad hominem (a logical fallacy!) attacks go…

    Get thee to Logic 101, then. Ad hominem “attacks”, in general, are not a logical fallacy, especially if the shoe fits, regardless of tone. Argumentum ad hominem is however a logical fallacy, but is not what PZ did. The argument isn’t based off the fact that Piglucci is a bit of a tosser, but that is a conclusion, expressed as “name-calling”, from the facts (i.e., The argument isn’t that Piglucci is a tosser so he must be wrong, but that Piglucci is so wrong here, that he comes off as a tosser in this instance).

    Therefore: Honk! Wrong.

  377. #377 Rorschach
    April 17, 2010

    I got to the second paragraph in Pigliuccis blogpost yesterday.Then I encountered the line saying “First the tone”, and shortly after the gentleman confused insults with ad hominems, I’m told he’s a philosophy person of some sort.

    I did not read any further.

    If the tone trolls in this thread are anything to go by, we’re doing something right.

  378. #378 John Morales
    April 17, 2010

    F, Massimo (in the comments) backtracked after criticism, and said it may instead have been “poisoning the well” (which I think is just as wrong, but hey, I don’t have a philosophy degree! ;) ).

  379. #379 kantalope
    April 17, 2010

    It is not poisoning the well either: that would be he was a wanker last time we heard from him so we can ignore his argument now. And that was not done either. Like F said, the fallacy has to occur in the warrant not the conclusion.

    Silly wankers.

  380. #380 F
    April 17, 2010

    Bill Shiply:

    If simply changing “creation myth” to “creation story” before explaining why “creation” is wrong will avoid having such people ignore or oppose you…

    What makes you think it will? Why is “story” better than “myth”? I don’t think that will appease anyone. Even those christians who regard the teachings of other religions as myths. Of course, these overly-concerned christians don’t consider them myths, but the work of the devil, so there is no appeasing them. The more rational religious types will have no problem with this usage of the word “myth”, as they evidently have not, until this one loudmouth got all bent out of shape over it. Why should the world have to appease one idiot, even if he gets others all worked up over it?

  381. #381 Feynmaniac
    April 17, 2010

    F, Massimo (in the comments) backtracked after criticism, and said it may instead have been “poisoning the well”

    Well, not really ‘instead’ since he said “poisoning the well” was a type of ad hominem. Anyway, the Wikipedia article he cited clearly stated that insults in themselves were not ad hominems.

    He then tried to suggest that anyone trying to correct him on his misuse of the term was engaging in a red herring argument. Someone clearly needs to review their logic.

  382. #382 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawlZhMUnjA9BsWP9zojf401f2aINdplmJP0
    April 17, 2010

    About the googlemessiness : I created a Typepad account for the sole purpose of logging in to Pharyngula but for an unknown reason, it has refused to sign in here for the past few weeks. And I do expect most people to ignore me for this reason. Anyway, I didn’t post much so it’s no big deal.

    But as of now, it’s been beyond my capabilities to edit the google string. I give it a shot now so this is a test to see how it comes out.

  383. #383 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawlZhMUnjA9BsWP9zojf401f2aINdplmJP0
    April 17, 2010

    I’m sorry but I can’t seem to find how to do this. So if someone was kind enough to get me in the right direction, I would really appreciate it. I tried googling it and took a look both in the Typepad and Google FAQs but to no avail.

  384. #384 "Roger"
    April 17, 2010

    Well, typekey worked for me.

  385. #385 F
    April 17, 2010

    For Scott Hatfield, re: “sectarian”.

    The creationism or creation science proposed for receiving equal time is most certainly of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic type. Entirely sectarian, regardless as to how many self-identified sects may be embraced here. It certainly bears no resemblance to what Hindus or Taoists, for example, might believe about cosmogony or the nature and history of humans on this planet. It hardly matters whether other non-christian religious belief systems are not in the majority in this country. Claiming it as non-sectarian is a lie of the creationists, or a false assumption on the part of the other interested parties.

  386. #386 Caine, Fleur du mal
    April 17, 2010

    Googlemess @ 383, trying signing up with Typepad then you can sign up with movable type.

  387. #387 Kel, OM
    April 17, 2010

    He then tried to suggest that anyone trying to correct him on his misuse of the term was engaging in a red herring argument. Someone clearly needs to review their logic.

    I was quite amazed he make that mistake, using ad hominem correctly is internet scepticism 101*.

    *because people love to throw the term around, it means a lot of people have checked out what it actually entails.

  388. #388 F
    April 17, 2010

    When Tobin and Dusheck call Genesis a myth (falsehood?), and Myers says it’s false, they in a bizarre way elevate such nonsence to the level of science.

    Does. Not. Follow.

    How the hell do you come to this conclusion? Show your work, whether or not you are Socrates.

  389. #389 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawlZhMUnjA9BsWP9zojf401f2aINdplmJP0
    April 17, 2010

    @Caine

    Thanks for the tip, but after I sign in Movable Type and accept to share my email adress, it just brings me back to the first screen.

  390. #390 Caine, Fleur du mal
    April 17, 2010

    Googlemess @ 389:

    Hmm. I’m sorry. I don’t know what else you could try. There are other people whose sign-in fu is much stronger than mine. Hopefully, they’ll weigh in at some point. In the meantime, how about just signing a name at the end of your post, like:

    Caine*

    *an example. ;p So at least we can call you something other than ‘Googlemess’.

  391. #391 BdN
    April 17, 2010

    Hmmm, this is strange… I just tried to log in in the despised IE instead of FF and… it worked like a charm (and I realized I had opened to TypePad accounts with the same email adress…).

    Sorry! No more googlemess for me!

    (still don’t know how to change the string though)

  392. #392 BdN
    April 17, 2010

    Caine*

    *an example. ;p

    Thanks for the clarification. I must say I was tempted for a few seconds… ;-)

  393. #393 yashwata.info
    April 17, 2010

    Everyone who is complaining that the harshness of the debate degrades the discourse, get stuffed; I think the call to weaken the vigor of the disagreement is the real degradation here.

    I love you!

  394. #394 Caine, Fleur du mal
    April 17, 2010

    Hi, BdN! Good to have you here, non-messy style. :)

  395. #395 quintupularity
    April 17, 2010

    All this talk of signing in has put me in the mood of checking for Googlemessines. If I’ve posted on Pharyngula before, it was so long ago I can’t recall. So, new account time, via google.

    This is mostly to Meyrick Kirby, who claims that

    If religious claims are testable, then they are scientific. Ergo you’re demonstrating my point: You’re blurring the lines between what is, and what is not science.

    By addressing testable claims, science merely lives up to its own standard. Any scientist that refuses to look at evidence should have his slide rule confiscated and be sent back to school. So on the grounds of plain old “scienceness” I’d say that any testable claim has a duty to be tested. This goes doubly so for those claims made in direct contradiction to the current consensus.

    More to the point, from the moment of its inception, science as a method has always been under attack by anti-rationalists. In this case we’re talking about the claims of a anti-rationalist subset of fundamentalist Christians. Should this alter our direct pursuit, discovery and transmission of actual, real life facts to the population?

    Why shouldn’t we let this one slide?

    I don’t know where you are from. I’m guessing you ain’t from around these parts. Here in the states, the funnymentalist brigade is well armed, culturally pervasive, intrusive, deluded, and extremely numerous. They have infiltrated and shaped our legal system, which although carefully designed to remain cautiously neutral on religious issues, so far has done a mediocre job at holding their dangerous quackery at bay.

    Skeptics and rationalists have counted the various major decisions against the fundies made by the higher courts as victories, and rightly so. But for every victory there are a dozen? a hundred? new and subtle challenges to the legal code. Some of these challenges seem to be working, or are at least persuasive to the religiously inclined. Vast swathes of the US contain schools, or at least teachers therein, which explicitly deny the science and rationality that led us to accept evolution. Maybe its done with a wink and a nod. Maybe its with a more aggressive “we didn’t come from no monkeys” sort of reflex. Its not how, but how much that matters; these aren’t isolated cases. Its all over the damn place.

    If you’re suggesting that we ignore them as a way to train them into submission, I think you underestimate the sheer idiot tenacity of US fundamentalism. If it was just one little bumblebee at the biologists picnic, I would agree with you. But we’re dealing with a swarm, and we breed them large over here. If we ignore the problem, it doesn’t disappear. It spreads.

    Tobin and Dusheck treated it lightly and dismissively. I want the textbooks to tell it like it is.

    -Q

  396. #396 mjosefw
    April 17, 2010

    As usual, I am coming in at the end, when everyone else has gone on, but -
    1. I am foursquare behind PZ on this. To me, this is a fundamental divide – I am an atheist, who opposes the influence and command and substance of religion, and not a humanist, who is a religious sympathizer.
    2. For that reason, I do not belong to CFI, do not get concerned about their pro-religious, self-imposed kerfuffles, and congratulate plain-speaking atheism at every opportunity.
    3.. Pedants are marked by their ill-humored obtuseness towards the needs for self-criticism – thus Pigliucci. What a bore.
    4. Teaching is a joke in America precisely because of the idiotic imperative to refrain from public declaration of informed understanding. But, hey, it’s a living.

  397. #397 'Tis Himself, OM
    April 17, 2010

    Any scientist that refuses to look at evidence should have his slide rule confiscated

    Does anyone under the age of 60 have a slide rule, let alone use it? I was taught to use a slide rule in high school. By the time I got to college, everyone was using calculators.

  398. #398 Meyrick Kirby
    April 17, 2010

    Josh:

    Nope, for you it’s just fine to lie, misrepresent your position, fly a false flag (and then claim you’re merely using the Socratic method), but “abusive language” “gets in the way” of “serious discussions.”

    I did not lie. Not once did I say I believed creationist stories were true, nor did I ever say I was a creationist. I merely pointed out they can’t be disproved. By using abusive language, you concluded I must be a creationist. Which rather proves my point, abusive language gets in the way.

    Your behavior (its substance not its tone) is some of the rudest I’ve seen on Pharyngula in a long time, and that’s saying something.

    How was the substance of what I was saying rude. I was merely saying that creationist stories are unfalsifiable (unscientific), and therefore it is wrong to call them false.

    I might point out I’m not advocating appeasement. I’m advocating that schools should that teach creationist stories are not scientific, which incidently was exactly what judge Jones concluded in the Dover trial.

  399. #399 Carlie
    April 17, 2010

    Does anyone under the age of 60 have a slide rule, let alone use it?

    I have one in pristine condition that I picked up from an estate sale of an engineer. It lives in a pretty box and I look at it sometimes. As for using it, though, not so much.

  400. #400 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 17, 2010

    Yawn, the troll is back justifying their inane behavior. And anything the religious say that can be falsified, should be falsified. Religion should not get a free pass from skeptical scrutiny.

    I am barely under 60, and have a slide rule. Stopped using it years ago when I got a computer that handled logarithms.

  401. #401 Meyrick Kirby
    April 17, 2010

    Religion should not get a free pass from skeptical scrutiny.

    I am scrutinizing religion. I’m saying, and have demonstrated, it’s not scientific. For a supposed rational thinker, you don’t seem to have read any phylosophy of science. Go read Karl Popper.

  402. #402 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    April 17, 2010

    Organizing atheists is like being platonic friends with rabbits. Or something.

    I’ll keep working on it.

  403. #403 Meyrick Kirby
    April 17, 2010

    Yawn, the troll is back justifying their inane behavior.

    How is calling someone inane (or a witless wanker) not being trollish?

  404. #404 Meyrick Kirby
    April 17, 2010

    I suppose one of you is now going to spell flame.

  405. #405 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 17, 2010

    I’m saying, and have demonstrated, it’s not scientific.

    We disagree. Religion is not scientific but it can be examined with scientific methods. Which is where you are wrong. I am a professional scientist. Don’t pull the philosophy of science nonsense on me. Show me where I am wrong with facts.

  406. #406 John Morales
    April 17, 2010

    Kirby troll:

    I did not lie. Not once did I say I believed creationist stories were true, nor did I ever say I was a creationist.

    No? I quote: “Finally, I must guiltily admit admit, pretending to be a nutty biblethumper was fun!

    Pretending to be other than you is a form of lying.

    How was the substance of what I was saying rude.

    There was no substance, only gaseous vapour. It was not your vapour that was rude, it was your trolling.

    For a supposed rational thinker, you don’t seem to have read any phylosophy of science. Go read Karl Popper.

    Sigh. Just like listener, on the other thread.

    I suggest you read about the Dunning?Kruger effect.

  407. #407 'Tis Himself, OM
    April 17, 2010

    Meyrick Kirby #398

    By using abusive language, you concluded I must be a creationist. Which rather proves my point, abusive language gets in the way.

    No, asshole, abusive language was not the clue you might be a creationist. It was your fucking idiocy that made people think you were a dumbass creationist.

    Your tone-trolling is almost as annoying as your failed attempt at the socratic method. As several people have told you already, substance is more important than style. Your complaints about “abusive language” tell me you really don’t have any reply to our arguments so you’re going to whine about how we make the arguments. Form is much less important than content.

  408. #408 Meyrick Kirby
    April 17, 2010

    I am a professional scientist.

    Big woop, so’s Michael Behe.

    Don’t pull the philosophy of science nonsense on me.

    Why not bring up philosophy? What’s wrong with making sure you have the right philosophy when approaching science?

    Show me where I am wrong with facts.

    I’ve already deomonstrated it’s possible to adjust the interpretation of evidence such that creationist stories can never be disproven. Are not creationists always demanding more evidence.

  409. #409 Matt Penfold
    April 17, 2010

    Does anyone under the age of 60 have a slide rule, let alone use it? I was taught to use a slide rule in high school. By the time I got to college, everyone was using calculators.

    I was taught how to use a slide rule, and I am 43.

    There is no way I would be able to use one now.

  410. #410 Matt Penfold
    April 17, 2010

    Meyrick Kirby.

    Does the concept of evidence to support claims mean nothing to you ?

  411. #411 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 17, 2010

    I’ve already deomonstrated

    No, you alleged. Big difference. MK, who the fuck are you, and what is your crdentials for being an authority?

  412. #412 Meyrick Kirby
    April 17, 2010

    Pretending to be other than you is a form of lying.

    The only way I pretended, was by using abusive language.

    I suggest you read about the Dunning?Kruger effect.

    Apparently it has failed to impress upon you.

  413. #413 Meyrick Kirby
    April 17, 2010

    No, you alleged. Big difference. MK, who the fuck are you, and what is your crdentials for being an authority?

    Who are you and what I your credentials? I would look them up, but you’re hiding behind a pseudonym.

  414. #414 John Morales
    April 17, 2010

    [OT]

    Matt, it’s never too late to review!

  415. #415 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 17, 2010

    Who are you and what I your credentials?

    Ah, the evasion of a bullshitter. As I explained, and you poo-pooed, I am a professional scientist and skeptic. You apparently are just a fuckwit who can’t produce evidence. Evidence you need to convince this crowd you aren’t a fuckwit.

  416. #416 Meyrick Kirby
    April 17, 2010

    Evidence you need to convince this crowd you aren’t a fuckwit.

    And where is your evidence that you’re a real scientist?

  417. #417 John Morales
    April 17, 2010

    Kirby troll @413, we know you’re trolling.

    Keep it up, and you will likely bore PZ enough to merit a banhammer.

  418. #418 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 17, 2010

    And where is your evidence that you’re a real scientist?

    The peer reviewed scientific literature. You are still avoiding the question. Why should we believe anything you say? So far, all you have shown is that you are an idjit. Show your credentials.

  419. #419 Meyrick Kirby
    April 17, 2010

    Kirby troll @413, we know you’re trolling.

    If I’m trolling, so is Myers.

  420. #420 'Tis Himself, OM
    April 17, 2010

    Kirby,

    You’ve got off on the wrong foot with us. You originally came across as a godbotting troll. Then you admitted you were just playing a silly game in hopes of achieving some goal you never coherently explained. Now you’re tone trolling. People here see you as being several types of troll. We don’t like trolls, especially lying trolls. Yes, asshole, you LIED!

    You might seriously consider logging off, getting a new nom du blog, and starting fresh. Or you might consider just going away. Because if you stay here in the Meyrick Kirby guise, you’re going to receive a whole lot of shit.

  421. #421 Meyrick Kirby
    April 17, 2010

    The peer reviewed scientific literature.

    What peer-reviewed literature? Evidence? Hyperlink?

  422. #422 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 17, 2010

    Sorry MK, we are talking about your credentials to be an authority at this blog. Come on, show anything. Your profession, etc. We don’t need a total CV.

  423. #423 Meyrick Kirby
    April 17, 2010

    Yes, asshole, you LIED!

    I never lied. This is not one post above where I lied. Point to the one where I did?

    Because if you stay here in the Meyrick Kirby guise, you’re going to receive a whole lot of shit.

    Meyrick Kirby is my real name. I don’t, unlike the rest of you, hide behind pseudonyms.

  424. #424 WowbaggerOM
    April 17, 2010

    Meyrick Kirby wrote:

    If I’m trolling, so is Myers.

    It’s his blog, shit-for-brains; ergo, nothing he does here can, by definition, be ‘trolling’. You want to start your own blog, knock yourself out.

    As long as you fuck off, no-one’s going to care either way.

  425. #425 Meyrick Kirby
    April 17, 2010

    Actually, John Morales and Matt Penfold aren’t hiding behind pseudonyms.

  426. #426 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 17, 2010

    Still no evidence. What a loser. You are nothing but a lying sack of bullshit MK.

  427. #427 'Tis Himself, OM
    April 17, 2010

    Kirby,

    It is the considered opinion of the regulars here that Nerd of Redhead, OM is a PhD chemist. He’s discussed science in general and chemistry in particular in such a way that other scientists and chemists are reasonably convinced of his qualifications.

    Incidentally the OM after several of our names does have a meaning on this blog (John Morales also has the OM honorific).

  428. #428 WowbaggerOM
    April 17, 2010

    Meyrick Kirby wrote:

    Actually, John Morales and Matt Penfold aren’t hiding behind pseudonyms.

    Well done on working that out, Einstein. You want a medal?

  429. #429 Meyrick Kirby
    April 17, 2010

    Sorry MK, we are talking about your credentials to be an authority at this blog. Come on, show anything. Your profession, etc. We don’t need a total CV.

    Fine, I have a first class degree in accounting and economics, an MSc in information technology, and a PhD in management accounting, all from Glasgow University. For the PhD I had to learn about philosophy, especially epistemology: social sciences are on more shaky ground that the sciences.

    So, now I’ve told you my real name and exact credentials, what’s your real name and credentials?

  430. #430 Meyrick Kirby
    April 17, 2010

    Well done on working that out, Einstein. You want a medal?

    No, just admitting I was wrong to say everyone is hiding behind pseudonyms. You are though.

  431. #431 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    April 17, 2010

    I like how the person who admits that their entire entry, and a fair number (If not the bulk) of their posts were conducted under false pretenses is somehow surprised that people are not willing to take him at his word in the future.

    The irony is delicious, like warlock tears.

  432. #432 WowbaggerOM
    April 17, 2010

    No, just admitting I was wrong to say everyone is hiding behind pseudonyms. You are though.

    What am I ‘hiding’, exactly, genius? I’ve made no claims to authority to justify anything; unlike you I let my arguments do the talking – not my collection of pretty pieces of paper.

    Perhaps you should go back and get yourself a Grad Dip in Not Being a Pissant Troll. Do they offer that at Glasgow?

  433. #433 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 17, 2010

    So, now I’ve told you my real name and exact credentials, what’s your real name and credentials?

    See post #427. I don’t give out my real name, nor do you need it. Philosophical arguments for things tend to get short shrift around here due the sophistry presented by the alleged philosophers. You essentially have nothing but your opinion, which is countered by our (almost anyone here) educated opinion. So, you aren’t the authority on the subject of what is and isn’t scientific, or amenable to the scientific method compared to someone who works in the field.

  434. #434 'Tis Himself, OM
    April 17, 2010

    I never lied. This is not one post above where I lied.

    You lied by implication. You led us to believe you were godbotting and, when accused of that characteristic, you didn’t deny it.

    But okay, you didn’t actually explicitly lie. Your other characteristics such as priggishness, pomposity, and moans about abusive language (aka tone trolling) lead us to dismiss you as an all-around arsewipe.

    Meyrick Kirby is my real name. I don’t, unlike the rest of you, hide behind pseudonyms.

    So? Pseudonyms are an accepted practice on the internet.

    Actually, John Morales and Matt Penfold aren’t hiding behind pseudonyms.

    How do you know this? If I posted as “Joseph Pudlerowski” would you think that was my real name? I could easily have done so, yet it isn’t my real name.

  435. #435 Meyrick Kirby
    April 17, 2010

    I don’t give out my real name, nor do you need it.

    So you’re not going to give your real name and your real credentials. You are not willing to put your name to your arguments. You are an intellectual coward!

  436. #436 Roestigraben
    April 17, 2010

    Meyrick, I don’t know what the hell your problem is. Why do you insist on repeating your points over and over again, when they’ve already been addressed long ago? Yes, the hypothesis that god planted all the evidence for evolution to fool us can never be falsified. Guess what, it’s totally irrelevant. Few creationists follow that line of argumentation, because of the implications for god’s character – they’ll rather deny the evidence outright. And no the same thing about unfalsifiability cannot be said about all religious claims. Then you go on and on about how you managed to show how uncivility was detrimental to the discussion at hand – it wasn’t, at no point were you insulted without at least addressing the so-called “substance” of your claims at the same time. And now you’re demanding that everyone here give you his real name and credentials? Just stop being annoying, and the next time you’d like to make a point, state it clearly right at the beginning without wasting time with your silly posturing.

  437. #437 Meyrick Kirby
    April 17, 2010

    You lied by implication.

    No, you assumed as I knew you would, proving that abusive language gets in the way, but you’re too arrogant to admit it.

  438. #438 Matt Penfold
    April 17, 2010

    Meyrick Kirby’s main problem seems to be that he rejects the axiom that makes science a worthwhile endeavour.

    Sure, some kind of being could have created the Universe and given it the appearance that is billions of years old. However unless we accept that there are truths we can find out about the Universe then there is no point in doing science. Science relies on the axiom that the Universe does not lie.

    His objection is 6th form (and piss poor 6th form) level philosophy. It is not worthy of someone who claims to have a doctorate.

  439. #439 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 17, 2010

    You are not willing to put your name to your arguments. You are an intellectual coward!

    Spoken like a true idjit troll. You have given nothing of substance to date with your inane and trolling behavior. So, you are now considered a total fuckwit, and anything you say is considered a lie until proven otherwise with hard physical evidence. Welcome to science.

  440. #440 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    April 17, 2010

    So you’re not going to give your real name and your real credentials. You are not willing to put your name to your arguments. You are an intellectual coward!

    You’re polish, so I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you’re not familiar with things like Scientology.

    By the way, you’re an idiot.

  441. #441 WowbaggerOM
    April 17, 2010

    Meyrick Kirby wrote:

    You are not willing to put your name to your arguments.

    Why does the name matter if the arguments are sound? Perhaps if you were able to make sound arguments you would understand that.

  442. #442 Celtic_Evolution
    April 17, 2010

    So you’re not going to give your real name and your real credentials. You are not willing to put your name to your arguments. You are an intellectual coward!

    Welcome to the internet, asshole. Is this your first day?

    There was a reason I said I was done with this fuckstick yesterday… I knew he was playing games, and I was no longer interested in it.

    Instead of stating his real intentions and engaging in an honest discussion or debate, he decided to play a little sociological experiment and do so by throwing out an epithet (tosser) in his very first post… all the while smugly sitting back whilst pulling our collective legs.

    Intellectual coward indeed.

    Fuck off already Kirby. You are not worth the time we’ve wasted on you.

  443. #443 Meyrick Kirby
    April 17, 2010

    Few creationists follow that line of argumentation, because of the implications for god’s character – they’ll rather deny the evidence outright.

    No, they just argue the evidence doesn’t disprove God. For instance, if you mention radioactive dating of the earths age, they say something unknown might have changed the rate of decay of the material.

    And now you’re demanding that everyone here give you his real name and credentials?

    Not everyone, just Nerd of Redhead. He’s the one who first questioned my credentials, so why can’t I quesion his?

  444. #444 WowbaggerOM
    April 17, 2010

    Does anyone know how to get hold of Truth Machine? I’m sure he’d have something to say about Meyrick Kirby’s assertion that not using your meatspace name online makes your arguments invalid.

  445. #445 Matt Penfold
    April 17, 2010

    No, they just argue the evidence doesn’t disprove God. For instance, if you mention radioactive dating of the earths age, they say something unknown might have changed the rate of decay of the material.

    And unless the provide evidence to support that claim there is no need to take it seriously.

    Do you really have so little concept of the role of evidence in science ?

  446. #446 Celtic_Evolution
    April 17, 2010

    Your arguments would be just as stupid and inane if you used a pseudonym, Kirby.

    Your decision to use your real name is of absolutely no consequence. Any other irrelevant tangent you’d like to take your stupidity in or will that be all?

  447. #447 Meyrick Kirby
    April 17, 2010

    And unless the provide evidence to support that claim there is no need to take it seriously.

    Exactly. But surely it’s better to say that creationist claims don’t have evidence to support them, nor will they ever have them, and therefore that’s why they should not be included in the classroom, than simply to say they are false.

  448. #448 Roestigraben
    April 17, 2010

    For instance, if you mention radioactive dating of the earths age, they say something unknown might have changed the rate of decay of the material.

    And how does that not amount to denying the evidence for an old earth? How do the repeated demands for “just one transitional fossil” not constitute denial of those which have been found? Please, have a look at some YEC websites – not even their silly arguments should be distorted.

  449. #449 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 17, 2010

    He’s the one who first questioned my credentials, so why can’t I quesion his?

    The necessary credentials are above. You don’t need more. And you really are a idjit fool looking for an out if you think otherwise. In order for me to consider you the “authority”, you must also show you can think. So far, the evidence of that is lacking.

  450. #450 Meyrick Kirby
    April 17, 2010

    And how does that not amount to denying the evidence for an old earth?

    The evidence is the observed rate of decay as observed in the lab. Creationist don’t deny this. Rather they always introduce a new idea/argument, in this case the rate changes, such that their original hypothesis is not disproved by the evidence. And they will continue to do this, demonstrating my point that creationist hypotheses are unfalsifiable.

    Matt is on the right idea. Such hypotheses should be dismissed as irrelevant, “there is no need to take it seriously.”

  451. #451 Meyrick Kirby
    April 17, 2010

    So far, the evidence of that is lacking.

    So far you have not provided one piece of evidence you’re published in the scientific literature. It’s not hard, just link to an abstract. But you’re not going to, and you call me the bullshitter.

  452. #452 Carlie
    April 17, 2010

    And why should we believe that Kirby is your real name? When you start off lying, there’s no reason to believe anything else you say. And as ‘Tis mentioned, it’s incredibly easy to use a “real” name that is not yours. I comment here with a name that looks “real”, but it might be my favorite book character’s name, or a nickname that was given to me by my friends when I was young, or the name of an ancestor of mine, or a random name I picked out of a baby name book. As long as I keep it consistent here, I have an established personality and a reputation to uphold under said name. What name that is doesn’t matter; the arguments do. And your arguments so far have been pathetically inadequate, not to mention scattershot and at times incoherent.

    Some religions make claims about the reality of the world. It is entirely within the bounds of the scientific method to test them and call them bullshit. It makes no difference if those religions then try to weasel out of it by claiming even more ridiculous supernatural explanations, the evidence stands. The fact that they might try to weasel that way is no reason not to show that their claims are in direct contradiction to reality.

  453. #453 Meyrick Kirby
    April 17, 2010

    When you start off lying, there’s no reason to believe anything else you say

    I never lied, as I point out before. Merely, by using abusive language people assumed I was a creationist. Or are you arguing the use of abusive language is a form of lying?

  454. #454 Carlie
    April 17, 2010

    Such hypotheses should be dismissed as irrelevant, “there is no need to take it seriously.”

    That’s what’s been done in the US for the last 70 years – “ignore them and dismiss them as irrelevant, and they’ll go away”. Gee, how’s that been working out for us?

    It allows them to say that scientists are deliberately avoiding the argument because scientists “know they’ll lose”. They can spin that a hell of a lot more than trying to explain away a direct refutation, and they have been for seventy years. And what has it led to? It’s led to “evolution is only a theory” stickers in textbooks across the country, it’s led to court cases about being “forced” to learn evolution, it’s led to the watering-down of science standards to the point that hundreds of thousands of students never hear the word “evolution” in their entire K-12 careers. Yeah, that’s worked out real well.

  455. #455 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    April 17, 2010

    The first thing you did here was assume a persona.

    Give us a reason to believe this is not also a persona.

    Fucking idiot.

  456. #456 Celtic_Evolution
    April 17, 2010

    So far you have not provided one piece of evidence you’re published in the scientific literature. It’s not hard, just link to an abstract.

    That you’ve decided to now focus your argument on a credential cock fight demonstrates how pathetic you’ve gotten.

    Stop wanking already and just piss off. Any points you thought you had you’ve already made.

  457. #457 Meyrick Kirby
    April 17, 2010

    That’s what’s been done in the US for the last 70 years – “ignore them and dismiss them as irrelevant, and they’ll go away”. Gee, how’s that been working out for us?

    I didn’t say ignore them. I said they should be taught as unscientific and irrelevant.

  458. #458 Meyrick Kirby
    April 17, 2010

    That you’ve decided to now focus your argument on a credential cock fight demonstrates how pathetic you’ve gotten.

    Stop wanking already and just piss off. Any points you thought you had you’ve already made.

    I’m not the one who started the credential cock fight.

  459. #459 'Tis Himself, OM
    April 17, 2010

    I’m off to replace a fuel injector in a diesel engine. However, because the weather people are threatening rain all day, I’m not going for a sail.

    Enjoy the troll. He’ll keep your teeth sharp and your coats sniny.*

    *Note to the troll, that’s not a typo.

  460. #460 Carlie
    April 17, 2010

    Merely, by using abusive language people assumed I was a creationist.

    You keep saying you used abusive language – I still don’t see it. Blustery and stupid, but abusive? You haven’t been here long enough to have seen abusive.
    And you yourself admitted that you were affecting a persona that was not yours, which is lying.

    I didn’t say ignore them. I said they should be taught as unscientific and irrelevant

    And again, their claims about reality CAN BE TESTED SCIENTIFICALLY. What about that do you refuse to believe? They say “The world is 6000 years old.” It isn’t. We can say that. They can try to handwave around that as much as they want, but the final say is that it isn’t 6000 years old, and this is why. The more we try to pin them down in the contradictions of their claims with reality, the more ridiculous their whole enterprise looks to bystanders, which is a good thing.

  461. #461 Roestigraben
    April 17, 2010

    Meyrick, you’re simply assuming one aspect of Creationist thought (if one can call it that way) is characteristic for the whole. Arguing that the evidence for an old earth and evolution doesn’t disprove god doesn’t even require one to hold creationist vies of any kind – in fact, this stance would be characteristic of all those believers who don’t deny evolution at all. And, once again, not all creationist claims are unfalsifiable – the genesis myth, as presented in the bible, very much is. Nowhere does it say, “on the eighth day, god covered up all the evidence, planted some fossils in the ground and changed fundamental properties of nature”. That particular device is only employed by all small minority of Creationists. Why? Because they don’t want to worship a possible god, but rather one having the properties described in the bible, which are at odds with reality.

  462. #462 Celtic_Evolution
    April 17, 2010

    I’m not the one who started the credential cock fight.

    But mommmmm!!! He started it!!

  463. #463 Meyrick Kirby
    April 17, 2010

    You keep saying you used abusive language – I still don’t see it. Blustery and stupid, but abusive?

    In my original post I called Myers a tosser. I think that amounts to abusive.

    And you yourself admitted that you were affecting a persona that was not yours, which is lying.

    The only persona was the use of abusive language, language I don’t usually use. It’s rather a stretch to call that lying.

    CAN BE TESTED SCIENTIFICALLY

    No they can’t. As already demonstrated, any evidence will fail to disprove they hypotheses.

  464. #464 Sven DiMilo
    April 17, 2010

    You guys are outclassed here. Mr. Kirby (itihrn) has the benefit of the extensive training in epistemology vouchsafed to students of accounting in Scotland.

  465. #465 Meyrick Kirby
    April 17, 2010

    You guys are outclassed here. Mr. Kirby (itihrn) has the benefit of the extensive training in epistemology vouchsafed to students of accounting in Scotland.

    I was specificially asked to give my credentials. Now you’re complaining I gave my credentials. Brilliant!

  466. #466 John Morales
    April 17, 2010

    OK Meyrick, I’m going to bend over backwards to try to make you understand.

    PZ has a set of criteria relating to ban-worthy behaviour for this place (top bar on the page, see the entry marked Dungeon).

    Note the entry for Trolling: “Making comments intended only to disrupt a thread and incite flames and confusion.”

    Now, there was a nice little conversation going on, relating directly to the post topic, then you showed up with your “Socratic method”¹ nonsense.

    You may get a pass on intent, but sure as little green apples you were functionally trolling, and did indeed disrupt the thread and incite flames and confusion. Good start!

    After your “reveal”, it turns out you had a single vacuous claim that’s been discussed here already ad nauseam, and which had nothing to do with the post topic.

    Then you invoke Popper, as if critical rationalism were some idea no-one we’ve not previously encountered; then you get into a pissing contest with a respected regular (Nerd).

    We’re intimately familiar with creationism around here, so your patronising yet simplistic pontifications paint you in a rather different manner than that which you imagine they do.

    (e.g.

    The evidence is the observed rate of decay as observed in the lab.

    But there are plenty of lines of evidence that don’t rely on radiometrics to know that Earth is far older than a few tens of thousands of years.
    And we’ve discussed them all before, most thoroughly²)

    In short, you’ve stuffed-up the thread, and (so far) you’ve had nothing interesting to say.

    If you want to chat about off-topic banalities,
    go to the Endless Thread (link on the left bar of the page).

    If you want to keep pissing off everyone, carry on as you are.

    Your choice.

    ¹ You realise the proponent is supposed to produce a thesis to which the interlocutor applies the elenchus, right?
    Not to mention that the proponent is supposed to know what’s going on! Sheesh.

    ² As a matter of fact, it was one such endless discussion that became the genesis of the Thread.

  467. #467 Carlie
    April 17, 2010

    In my original post I called Myers a tosser. I think that amounts to abusive.

    Hahahaha! Piker.

    The only persona was the use of abusive language, language I don’t usually use. It’s rather a stretch to call that lying.

    Finally, I must guiltily admit admit, pretending to be a nutty biblethumper was fun!

    Dude, it’s the internet. Your words are right there to look at. If you are not a “nutty biblethumper”, than you were indeed lying by presenting yourself as if you were one. It matters not if you had left out the words “tosser” and “moron” entirely.

    No they can’t. As already demonstrated, any evidence will fail to disprove they hypotheses

    It will, in fact, disprove their hypotheses, and force them to invent new ones. If you knew anything at all about the scientific method, you would realize that.

  468. #468 boygenius
    April 17, 2010

    If anyone wants insight into why MK feels the need to seek attention on Pharyngula, you need only check out his blog.

    Twenty posts in two years with a grand total of two comments, one of which is himself replying to his one lone commenter.

    He’s just lonely.

  469. #469 Aquaria
    April 17, 2010

    For the millionth time, MK, IT WAS NOT THE LANGUAGE THAT HAVE PEOPLE PISSED OFF AT YOU. To keep saying this when it has been EXPLAINED TO YOU and EXPLAINED TO YOU that you are making claims about people that JUST AREN’T SO only goes to show why people think of you as the fucktard numbskull you are.

    You don’t deserve anything but contempt for your bullshit arguments and your bullshit whining.

    Do us all a favor and fuck off already. You’ve gone well past the point of tiresome, asswipe.

  470. #470 PZ Myers
    April 17, 2010

    Heh. Even the devoted regulars here call me a poopyhead.

    I do notice here that the thread has devolved into a Meyrick Kirby flame fest. It is not titled “I shall be no friend to Meyrick Kirby.” I don’t mind wild discursions into all kinds of strange topics, but when I see some attention-seeking git plunge into a thread and intentionally (and successfully!) redirect all discussion to himself, I start playing with my cyberpistol, as Morales mentioned above.

    Fair warning here. Meyrick Kirby is boring. Find something interesting to talk about, ignore his provocations, or I’ll have to remove someone from the civilian population.

  471. #471 Meyrick Kirby
    April 17, 2010

    Note the entry for Trolling: “Making comments intended only to disrupt a thread and incite flames and confusion.”

    So if I use abusive language on this blog with the intent of inciting flames I’m a troll, but if Myers uses abusive language on this blog to piss people off that’s okay? Because this is his blog he gets special treatment? He can say somethings, but I can’t? He can call someone a witless wanker, no doubt to provoke, and I’m not allowed to provoke anyone by calling him a tosser?

    Then you invoke Popper, as if critical rationalism were some idea no-one we’ve not previously encountered; then you get into a pissing contest with a respected regular (Nerd).

    I bring up Popper who is the most common reference for what is and is not science to demonstrate that creationism is not science. A rather salient point given I’m discussing what is and is not science.

    Nerd started the pissing contest. Again, it’s alright for Nerd to piss all over the place but not me? Do you practice having double standards?

    But there are plenty of lines of evidence that don’t rely on radiometrics to know that Earth is far older than a few tens of thousands of years.
    And we’ve discussed them all before, most thoroughly

    But my point is everyone of them will fail to disprove creationism, because creationists will produce new arguments.

  472. #472 Meyrick Kirby
    April 17, 2010

    I see some attention-seeking git

    How is calling some a “witless wanker” not attention seeking?

  473. #473 Celtic_Evolution
    April 17, 2010

    How is calling some a “witless wanker” not attention seeking?

    What are you, 7?

    How is it? It’s an insult. So every insult ever uttered is merely seeking attention?

    You may be the most muddled thinker we’ve had on here in quite some time… and that’s saying something.

  474. #474 monado
    April 17, 2010

    How times have changed; when I was in secondary school, the cynical English teacher announced that the Ten Commandments were like traffic signs: “When thou shalt see a stop sign, thou shalt stop.” At that age, about sixteen, I found the concept disturbing. My mother mentioned it to him at a parent-teacher conference, and he said that it hadn’t occurred to him that it would bother anyone. I’m afraid we curbed his tongue. Now that I’m his age I guess, it seems obvious to me that not only is it a legalism but it was part a scam to support the priest and his family in comparative luxury. I remember being young but it’s hard to imagine being that naive.

    We still had the pledge of allegiance, the Lord’s Prayer, and God Save the Queen every morning.

  475. #475 Matt Penfold
    April 17, 2010

    No they can’t. As already demonstrated, any evidence will fail to disprove they hypotheses.

    If hypotheses cannot be disproven, how do you think science can be done ?

    Science cannot prove hypotheses, and if cannot disprove them either then science cannot be used as tool to find the truth.

    I suspect you simply do not understand how science works. That is OK in itself, we are all ignorant about subjects. However what is not OK is your continued insistence you know what you are talking about. You don’t, as you have shown by your claim hypotheses cannot be disproved.

  476. #476 PZ Myers
    April 17, 2010

    My blog, my rules. If you don’t understand that I’m the dictator here who allows you to converse at my sufferance, I will send you off to the gulag.

    When I start a thread, I get to trigger all kinds of discussion, including that of many people who disagree with me (in fact, the most interesting threads are those where there are a lot of different opinions). When a troll decides to do a lot of shit-stirring in a thread, it’s with the intent of sucking all the air out of the conversation and diverting the topic to his antics, and nothing more.

    Again, if you don’t understand that, I don’t care. I will simply give you the boot.

  477. #477 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 17, 2010

    Because this is his blog he gets special treatment?

    You betcha. As an economist, you understand the concept of “them that has the gold (blog), makes the rules”. What a twit.

    I’m discussing what is and is not science.

    And profession scientists and skeptics like PZ and myself are much better at what is and isn’t that an economist. What part of that don’t you understand?

    But my point is everyone of them will fail to disprove creationism, because creationists will produce new arguments.

    Until those new arguments appear, the old ones are refuted and in the dumpster. We’ll just refute their new inanities too. All part of the game…

  478. #478 AnthonyK
    April 17, 2010

    Oh goody – a new troll!
    Guys, go easy now…heavy petting will make his head explode. And he’s an epistemologically aware accountant – man, the mess will be all over the internet.
    People here are always whining “ou sont les trolls d’antan?….in my day we had real trolls, not the milquetoast marshmallows we get today…” But what happens when you get one? You break them, you’re rude, abusive, and all anonymous behind you’re nyms.
    It’s like Oscar Wilde said, on the platform of Reading Station, on his way to Jail :”If this is the way Queen Victoria treats her convicts, she doesn’t deserve to have any.”
    So please, play nice. He already seems very angry with you – he’ll be threatening to leave soon (but won’t)- can’t we just keep him a little longer…pleeeeeeeeeeeeeez
    Well, Meyrick, I’m not like the others. They’re mean. You seem like an intelligent fellow. Welcome to Pharyngula! So…accountancy eh, that must be interesting!

  479. #479 Matt Penfold
    April 17, 2010

    But my point is everyone of them will fail to disprove creationism, because creationists will produce new arguments.

    The odd thing is that Creationists always come up with same old tired and disproven claims. This will be because there are so few creationists who are also competent scientists (at a first approximation there are zero). With no competent scientists there is no science being done.

  480. #480 Patricia, Ignorant Slut OM
    April 17, 2010

    Don’t bother to save me a slice of this troll. *snort*

  481. #481 Meyrick Kirby
    April 17, 2010

    My blog, my rules. If you don’t understand that I’m the dictator here who allows you to converse at my sufferance, I will send you off to the gulag.

    Ah, you’re going to expel me!

    I get to trigger all kinds of discussion, including that of many people who disagree with me

    I don’t see anyone, apart from sinz, disagreeing with you.

    When a troll decides to do a lot of shit-stirring in a thread, it’s with the intent of sucking all the air out of the conversation and diverting the topic to his antics, and nothing more.

    I made 2 serious points:

    (1) Abusive language obscures the substance of arguments.
    (2) Calling genesis a myth, that is false, supposes it is falsifiable, which I don’t believe it is. An unfalsifiable hypotheses is worse than a false hypothesis.

  482. #482 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 17, 2010

    Don’t bother to save me a slice of this troll. *snort*

    :D

    MK, an organization you need to think about, CSI, uses the scientific method as a skeptical tool for paranormal and creationist claims. They publish a magazine too (I’ve subscribed for 25 years). So we are well aware of what can be done with the scientific method, and that it can be used in areas that aren’t strictly science.

  483. #483 Meyrick Kirby
    April 17, 2010

    Nerd,

    I’ll have a read. In the mean time we’ll have to agree to disagree on whether creationism is falsifiable.

  484. #484 AnthonyK
    April 17, 2010

    I think you’re right Meyrick. And interesting! Don’t worry about PZ, he’s just an old grump.
    So, Genesis is unfalsifiable you say….tell us more….

  485. #485 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 17, 2010

    Calling genesis a myth, that is false,

    It is a myth. Show solid physical evidence otherwise. Or, STFU. Welcome to science, where evidence, not philosophy, rules.

  486. #486 Deen
    April 17, 2010

    Calling genesis a myth, that is false, supposes it is falsifiable, which I don’t believe it is.

    I can be falsified, because it has been falsified. The only thing you can not do with creationism is to get the creationists to accept this fact.

  487. #487 Carlie
    April 17, 2010

    We don’t give a fucking shit that you used the word “tosser”, ok? You’ve been told at least a dozen times that your tone had nothing to do with the scorn you received, it was the lack of substance in your posts that earned you derision. The “point” you claim of abusive language obscuring the substance of arguments is entirely false. Here, I’ll give you an example. Your asinine comments regarding the ability of science to disprove creationist bits of sewer tripe masquerading as true statements reveal the vacuity of your thought processes, your complete embodiment of the Dunning-Kruger effect, and your inability to tell your head from your ass, you lying dipshit.

    See, abusive, yet I think the substance of what I said is pretty clear.

    And with that I’ll stop responding to any of your comments, as per PZ’s request. Dammit, I always get roped into these things, because it’s so far from my idea of social/intellectual interaction to even imagine that people will stir up shit just to get attention for themselves that I never realize it’s happening in time.

  488. #488 Patricia, Ignorant Slut OM
    April 17, 2010

    Genesis is a myth. What a fuckwit.

    Have fun with this chew toy. Prince Charming has arrived to take me to the big city….oh brother! :)

  489. #489 paulmurray
    April 17, 2010

    “If the textbook had said “tale” instead of “myth,” there could have been no objection.”

    No, unfortunately “tale” and “story” also imply something fanciful. The problem with the word “myth”, in this context, is rather like the problem with “cripple”: it means what it does. The biblical creation story is a myth, and any word you use to describe it will necessarily have a connotation that the story is not true, because myths generally aren’t.

  490. #490 Celtic_Evolution
    April 17, 2010

    Kirby

    You are still spouting your stupidity? You are still not embarrassed enough?

    The concept of a god is not falsifiable. The Abrahamic god, as described in the Bible, a work of literature written by humans where specific descriptions of god and his interactions with humans, is falsifiable. Genesis being a set of stories, written by men, making factual claims about nature, is you moron.

    Those claims have been falsified. Over and over.

    If you are still to thick to understand this very basic concept (and you either do and are still just being intentionally obtuse, or you don’t and are just to mush-minded to understand), I really don’t know how to help you.

  491. #491 Celtic_Evolution
    April 17, 2010

    bold tag closure failure. Damn. The word “a” should be the only thing bolded up there.

  492. #492 Celtic_Evolution
    April 17, 2010

    Ah, you’re going to expel me!

    Oh, I see what you did there…

  493. #493 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 17, 2010

    Prince Charming has arrived to take me to the big city….oh brother! :)

    Ooh, is that anything like Dah UP, where Marquette is the big city (~20,000)? Have fun.

  494. #494 Anri
    April 17, 2010

    I’ll have a read. In the mean time we’ll have to agree to disagree on whether creationism is falsifiable.

    The account in genesis states that the earth existed before stars did.
    That plants existed before stars did.
    It also says that the universe was formed in six days.

    None of these things are true.

    Therefore, this account is false.

    This is important in a scientific sense in that there are people who believe, and have been tought, that there is sceintific evidence stating that the genesis story is, as written, literally true.
    They are not correct in this, and they need to be told that if they are to have any understanding of the way the world around them actually works. This is one of the functions of a science class, (some might say the primary one), whatever the specific subject.
    The statement in the textbook is a necessary, but nowhere near sufficient, step in that direction.

    As far as tone goes, Meyrick Kirby, we have had a number of people drop by and mention that their deconversion from religious delusion began when someone was disrespectful towards things they held sacred… and didn’t get hit with a lightning bolt. Counterintuitive as it seems, rudeness can win converts. I’m sorry if you don’t like this fact, but that doesn’t make it any less true.

  495. #495 A. Noyd
    April 17, 2010

    @ Meyrick Kirby
    Your mistake is in saying science cannot address any creationist claims because the existence of separate unfalsifiable claims makes creationism as a whole unfalsifiable. That creationists make untestable claims does not magically place their testable claims outside the realm of science. You cannot say that a claim like “the world is 6000 years old” is immune to falsification just because a creationist, when presented with the evidence that shows this claim is false, might retreat to saying “the world is 6000 years old but god makes it appear older to test our faith.” The only reason the creationist would change claims, after all, is because science can legitimately address the former. The unfalsifiable claims can also be dealt with by pointing out how they do not supply us with knowledge as there is nothing to privilege one unfalsifiable claim over another.

  496. #496 cazorn
    April 17, 2010

    I am no appeaser but I am a cat herder.

    As a Bright we are inclusive and encouraging. You can be critical and collaborative at the same time. I am impinged on by packs of ill-conceptual rabid self-anointed chaos cat cabals (pic-r-saccc’s) all the time but I prefer to let them make thier mistakes than engage every flawed meta-distraction they generate.

    Sometimes I just get popcorn and either stick to my methods at a safe distance and make sure I learn from their mistakes or just simply avoid superfluous pissing match schisms. It is neither progressive nor constructive to do so and arguably emulates historical religious schismatics and destructive dissention.

    I have applied the method in this and other spheres and we call it spinning off. If at least two Brights have a common purpose, short of offering advice if invited, they can do their own thing. It still propagates progressive Bright branching.

    Letting them do so offers no appeasement and does not threaten my method or purpose.

    In-fighting can come off as petulant or sophomoric and it does not behoove us.

  497. #497 jack.rawlinson
    April 17, 2010

    It is, or should be, one of the defining glories of atheism that we do not automatically agree with each other about everything, or even seek to do so. That we do not strive to maintain a dogma or a consistent approach or manner. That shit is for the religious and for the partisan. Some people are persuaded by the softly softly approach, some people are indifferent to it. Others are persuaded by the in-your-face, pull no punches approach, others find it distasteful.

    It is good that we have different opinions, tones and approaches. It is evidence that me really mean what we say when we declare that we believe in critical and independent thinking.

    In other words, the whining appeasers can fuck right off.

  498. #498 'Tis Himself, OM
    April 17, 2010

    Just as a completely off-topic comment, if you’re ever getting a diesel for a sailboat, I strongly recommend a Volvo Penta MD2020. It’s a particularly mechanic-friendly engine.

    As it happens, I didn’t have to replace the injectors. Instead the injection pump was bad. The maintenance manual was well written and gave step by step directions on removing and mounting the pump. Took me less than an hour to replace the pump with no barked knuckles, no abusive language uttered, and no soaring blood pressure.

  499. #499 jack.rawlinson
    April 17, 2010

    #cazorn:

    “In-fighting can come off as petulant or sophomoric and it does not behoove us.”

    It does not behoove us to what?

    If you must use that prissy word, please try to do so correctly.

  500. #500 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 17, 2010

    and no soaring blood pressure.

    Good news for those of us in Advanced Youth*.

    *Isaac Asimov, who never became mature, but whose youth kept advancing…

  501. #501 Meyrick Kirby
    April 17, 2010

    My blog, my rules. If you don’t understand that I’m the dictator here who allows you to converse at my sufferance, I will send you off to the gulag.

    Your blog, your rules, but it makes you a hypocrite. You complain about being expelled from a cinema for your opinions, but you’re happy to expel me for stating my opinions. Go on dickhead, ban me, prove I’m right.

  502. #502 kantalope
    April 17, 2010

    Ah crap – posting after someone dares PZ to dungeonify them….and I had a serious question…well I’ll try anyway.

    I read the Beyesian and Popper stuff. But I’m still not sure where scientific philosophy is going. Can anyone recommend a nice overview or history of both science practice and science theory?

    oh and bye kirby…buh bye.

  503. #503 Meyrick Kirby
    April 17, 2010

    oh and bye kirby…buh bye.

    See, nothing but hypocrites hiding cowardly behind pseudonyms. They see nothing wrong in banning someone for his stated opinions and reasoning. Stupdity seem to run this place of big chickens.

  504. #504 Paul W., OM
    April 17, 2010

    MK:

    Your blog, your rules, but it makes you a hypocrite. You complain about being expelled from a cinema for your opinions, but you’re happy to expel me for stating my opinions.

    PZ wouldn’t ban you for stating your opinions. He may ban you for being a dumb, boring troll, which is different.

    I think PZ was telling you that you don’t have to agree with his judgment that you’ve committed bannable offenses. He’s the judge. He’s not perfect, but he does strive to be fair, and when it comes down to it, he makes the call, not you, and not anybody else.

    Go on dickhead, ban me, prove I’m right.

    That wouldn’t prove you right, dumbass. Your taunting PZ in that particularly stupid way is itself the kind of trolling that should get you banned, if you keep it up rather than trying to say something on topic and worth hearing. Not because you’re cussing at PZ, or because you’re criticizing him, but because you’re pigheadedly doing it wrong—e.g., asserting that it would prove something it woudn’t.

    P.S. I strongly advise you to reconsider using your real name for trolling, or even posting comments in ways that are likely to be perceived as trolling by somebody who’s not paying close attention. If I was a potential employer I’d google you, and if I found this kind of stupid trolling, I would not hire you. Don’t expect potential employers to agree with your opinions, or to agree that your behavior is justified, even if you are quite sure you’re entirely in the right on both counts. You might be, but just as it’s PZ’s call whether to ban you, it’s an employer’s option not to hire you.

    (Likewise, potential dates are likely to google you and not like what they see. They too may judge you harshly, fairly or not. That happens all the time these days.)

    One of the reasons people dismiss you as a clueless noob is your apparent lack of understanding of the legitimate value of pseudonymity. There’s a very good reason we have a constitutional right to publish opinions pseudonymously, and actually doing so has a glorious history.

  505. #505 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    April 17, 2010

    Go on dickhead, ban me, prove I’m right.

    Meyrick, remember that abusive language gets in the way of serious discussions.

  506. #506 kantalope
    April 17, 2010

    I am not hiding…but posting any real info on internets is not safe. I have not even been following the Kirby part of the discussion (couldn’t care less – some days I check for new witty put downs but could not get up the interest – too cold and gloomy around here for that). Been off reading the Philosophy stuff, as noted.

    I just know that peeps who ask to be banned are typically granted their wish (and usually pronto) and was wishing you fond adieu. If there was an emoticon for wavy hand I woulda put it there too.

    So, stop yer snarlin at me. For all I know you are getting yourself banned for snapping at innocents and general grumpiness. I was just on the look, for a book.

  507. #507 viggen
    April 17, 2010

    Organizing atheists is like herding lions, or at least ideally it should be.

    While I agree with much of what is said in this article, there is a potentially sticky little point here where I do not.

    First, no one human represents all the skills necessary for a human to survive, particularly in society as it exists today. As such, humans must be able to form a cooperative structure to survive.

    My place of contention is that sometimes, the supposed needs of an individual or individuals may run counter to the needs of the cooperative structure itself. Upon reaching that situation, “herding lions” is not a good thing.

    I would point out that the antivaccine “fringe” have a big component that is upper-class, educated people who believe that having a strong, loud “freethinking and informed” opinion exempts them from the needs of their fellow man without realizing that they have shot themselves in the foot.

    Freethinking is okay, but it must be tempered with an awareness of the insufficiency of an individual. Freethinking coupled with arrogance is a recipe for disaster because it makes it difficult for someone to tell such a person when they have made a mistake and that they are wrong. I don’t think an arrogant freethinker is ultimately better for our world than the arrogant pious.

  508. #508 kantalope
    April 17, 2010

    I’m going to post my info request over on zombiethread too…

  509. #509 Everbleed
    April 17, 2010

    PZ… I am so sorry.

    I actually spoke the “herding cats” line to your face at a breakfast last year at SOU in Ashland. I am mortified.

    I really like the Lion idea. Roar.

  510. #510 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 17, 2010

    I see MK is still trolling. What a loser. If he actually had some evidence…

  511. #511 Meyrick Kirby
    April 17, 2010

    If he actually had some evidence…

    And where is your evidence your published? I asked hours ago, still nothing! Another hypocrite … no surprise.

  512. #512 Jadehawk, OM
    April 17, 2010

    holy fuck, this converdsation is stupid. Kirby is totally incapable of understanding that no one gives a flying fuck about his “abusive” language, and that what made us think he’s a creobot were his inane arguments, not a single impolite word.

    And then he thinks it’s his opinion that’ll get him banned, not the pretending and the wanking.

    And it seems he thinks that the description of historical/judicial determination of creationism as unscientific and irrelevant doesn’t belong in a science book, because instead we should treat religion as something unscientific and irrelevant.

    And lastly, he seems to think that Britain (and Europe in general) is secular because it practices NOMA. fucking laughable.

  513. #513 Meyrick Kirby
    April 17, 2010

    Jadehawk:

    You’re the wanker for understand bone obvious points of philosophy.

    You call me a wanker and you don’t even know what the word means. What a dumb fucker!

    And lastly, he seems to think that Britain (and Europe in general) is secular because it practices NOMA. fucking laughable.

    What the fuck do you know about Europe? Been there? Read any history?

  514. #514 SC OM
    April 17, 2010

    I’ve posted a series of questions:

    http://saltycurrent.blogspot.com/2010/04/questions-for-accomodationists.html

    I hope I get a few answers, since I haven’t to these and similar questions in the past. Although I say that this program seems to me dishonest, it’s not an attack. I’m trying to understand where people are coming from, since “I don’t believe it, but we should respect the belief and epistemic system that produced it” doesn’t make sense to me.

  515. #515 Meyrick Kirby
    April 17, 2010

    I give up. Josh, Nerd and Jadehawk are clearly ignorant prats. Simple thought experiments go through one ear and out the other with them. Read a fucking book sometime. Take a course at university or something.

  516. #516 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 17, 2010

    I give up. Josh, Nerd and Jadehawk are clearly ignorant prats. Simple thought experiment

    Sorry fuckwit, evidence is physical, not philosophical. What a loser. One would think he has no understanding that science is all about the physical evidence, or lack thereof…

  517. #517 nothing.beside.remains
    April 17, 2010

    Meyrick Kirby:

    This, you said, was your main point, no?

    A scientific hypothesis is a hypothesis that is open to being falsified, that is, a test or piece of evidence might disprove it. Religious creation myths can never be falsified, and therefore don’t belong in the science class.

    Saying the Earth was created in six literal days is possible to test for, right? And saying that the Earth was created 6000 years ago is a testable claim too, is it not? What it was created by does not matter so much as the original claim of the Earth being 6000 years which is clearly false. Your subsequent claims that either a being was tricking us into believing the world was billions of years old or that something may happen that will refute what we know are the untestable claims. In other words, we can test for the Earth being 6000 years, but we cannot test for supernatural beings playing tricks on us, nor can we know what we don’t know yet (obviously).

    Creationism belongs to the category of falsity and myth because it did originally make a testable claim that has been refuted and involves a religious narrative. Thus, it does not belong in a science class for the same reason that phlogiston does not belong in a science class, other then as a history lesson.

    I can still invent a scenario where phlogiston theory is true (invisible fairies are hiding the phlogiston particles from us, thus everything we know about heat is actually wrong), but the idea loses its testability at this point.

    Creationism is myth because it involves a (false) claim using a supernatural entity in it. Note that both the fairy-phlogiston idea and creationism only lose their testability when we insert a scenario in which something interferes with the accuracy of the senses of all of humanity (supernatural beings, unknown creatures, and unknown factors). When we no longer have fidelity in our collective senses (though not necessarily individual senses which is why science relies on the replicability of an experiment) to view the world with, a hypothesis becomes untestable.

    The fundamental error in your point is giving primacy to the idea of religion itself being untestable, thus not being able to make any predictions within the system which are themselves testable. The grand religious narrative, with enough exegesis, is indeed untestable currently, but some claims within the text, religious claims or not, are indeed testable (e.g. pi equals 3). Thus, creationism can be said to be false and mythological in the same way as any other testable but wrong religious idea can.

  518. #518 'Tis Himself, OM
    April 17, 2010
  519. #519 'Tis Himself, OM
    April 17, 2010
  520. #520 monado
    April 17, 2010

    Four-year-old:

    Why can’t a mouse eat a streetcar? Why, oh why, oh why?”
    “Because, because, because, because&mdash
    Goodnight, goodnight.”
    —Anne Murray

    And don’t let the door hit ya where the dog should have bit ya.

    Back to our regularly scheduled argument. I like Scott Hatfield’s comment and, even better, comment 127.

    “You don’t have to like it; you just have to learn that this is the explanation scientists have found.”

    Then some people say that this is rote learning. Well, we teach children to count their change when they buy something, right? This is the scientific equivalent of being able to make (or count) change.

  521. #521 Celtic_Evolution
    April 17, 2010

    Fuck off Kirby. You’re intentional attempts at martyrdom are just the latest in your little game of “see how much I can fuck with people at a random blog”, to go along with your pretending to be a creationinst, and playing the “can’t prove a negative” game that would render all science completely useless. You’re just a fucking shit-stirrer and we’ll do well to be rid of you, whether by your own doing or by that of PZ… and if you think playing little games like “banning me will prove my point” will buy you a stay of execution, you clearly don’t know PZ.

    If PZ was going to ban you for having a different opinion, you’d have been gone after about your third post.

    If PZ was going to ban you for being insulting, you’d have been gone after your first post.

    If PZ was going to ban you for merely trolling you’d have been gone after your admission of doing so several hundred comments ago.

    If PZ was going to ban you for being a boring, repetitive wanker, you’d have been bammed at least 200 comments ago.

    That you are still here removes any and all right for you to make any false claims of persecution.

    If PZ bans you now, it will have been well deserved, and will be for the unyielding repetition of all the offenses listed above. It will be because you are a boring, repetitive, muddled-thinking, dishonest, tone-concerned, shit-stirring troll.

    So why don’t you just save him the trouble and fuck right off already.

  522. #522 'Tis Himself, OM
    April 17, 2010

    Sorry about the double post.

  523. #523 eNeMeE
    April 17, 2010

    Dear Mr. Kirby,

    I would like to enquire as to your response to the hypothetical example of someone objecting to the use of ‘theory’ as a technical term, as opposed to its colloquial meaning, in a textbook – saying in effect that it isn’t correct to call gravity an unproven conjecture?

    Would it be correct to remove or alter the word ‘theory’ in that case?

  524. #524 Celtic_Evolution
    April 17, 2010

    Kirby –

    Simple thought experiments mental masturbation go through one ear and out the otheris a complete and utter waste of time with to them.

    There… fixed that for ya…

  525. #525 Celtic_Evolution
    April 17, 2010

    Sigh…

    you’re –> your in #521…

    *shakes fist at the chimp*

  526. #526 Carlie
    April 17, 2010

    I give up. Josh, Nerd and Jadehawk are clearly ignorant prats.

    I feel so…ignored. *sniff*

  527. #527 'Tis Himself, OM
    April 17, 2010

    Meyrick Kirby #515

    I give up. Josh, Nerd and Jadehawk are clearly ignorant prats. Simple thought experiments go through one ear and out the other with them. Read a fucking book sometime. Take a course at university or something.

    If several people are all telling you basically the same thing and nobody is agreeing with you, maybe the fault isn’t with them.

    For instance, you’re still insisting that abusive language is what set everyone off even though you’ve been told, many times by many people that it wasn’t a consideration. Perhaps, just perhaps, these people know what their reactions to your abusive language are. I realize it’s an absurd concept that the great Kirby (the peace of Derrida be upon him) might be wrong, but consider it as a Gedankenexperiment.

  528. #528 AnthonyK
    April 17, 2010

    Kanteloupe:
    Two books I can thoroughly recommend are A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson, and The Big Bang by Simon Singh.
    Great reads, both of them. In truth, though, you could go along to Pop Science section of any bookshop where a plethora of riches awaits.
    I reckon that the standard of the books you will find there will delight you – science writing is of an exceptionally high standard generally.
    The BBC continues to make science programmes of great interest – recent series included a history of surgery, the cell, and chemistry, a currently running one with Brian Cox on astronomy, and even an upcoming one on the whole history of science.
    (Not available world-wide, unfortunately…)
    Happy reading/watching!

  529. #529 Jadehawk, OM
    April 17, 2010

    You call me a wanker and you don’t even know what the word means. What a dumb fucker!

    “wanking”, first from the bottom.

    What the fuck do you know about Europe? Been there? Read any history?

    ooooh yeah!!

    *makes notch on score board*

    ok, if I get called a “stoopid American who doesn’t know shit about Europe” one more time, it’ll draw even with the times I’ve been called a “stoopid European who doesn’t know shit about America” :-)

    trolls are so predictable.

  530. #530 Carlie
    April 17, 2010

    ok, if I get called a “stoopid American who doesn’t know shit about Europe” one more time, it’ll draw even with the times I’ve been called a “stoopid European who doesn’t know shit about America”

    But have you ever been called a stoopid north hemispheran who doesn’t know shit about Botswana? :)

  531. #531 Jadehawk, OM
    April 17, 2010

    But have you ever been called a stoopid north hemispheran who doesn’t know shit about Botswana? :)

    well, at least that would be accurate, hehe…

  532. #532 Meyrick Kirby
    April 17, 2010

    If several people are all telling you basically the same thing and nobody is agreeing with you, maybe the fault isn’t with them.

    So, if you went to the Discovery Institute and everyone started telling you that you were wrong about ID, that would mean you are wrong?

  533. #533 Meyrick Kirby
    April 17, 2010

    Appently Jade is a world expert on Europe. Okay, why is Europe atheist? Because of it’s history of militant atheism?

    As for me being a wanker, exactly where do I congratulate myself? You’re simply an idiot who says the first think that comes into the pee sized brain inside that six inch skull.

  534. #534 Jadehawk, OM
    April 17, 2010

    kirby, the great mindreader, who knows what we think better than we do. obviously it must be the one measly, unimaginative “insult” that made us think he’s a creobot; because he says so. clearly all of us not agreeing with his assessment of the situation, means we’re a hivemind. Can’t possibly mean kirby is wrong, because kirby is never wrong, and he knows people better than they know themselves.

  535. #535 Meyrick Kirby
    April 17, 2010

    Yep, accusations are made, and no evidence provided. You lot are no different than the creationists. You belong together. No wonder many atheists despise the militant types.

  536. #536 BdN
    April 17, 2010

    @kantalope

    Well, you could try Evolution of Epidemiologic Ideas: Annotated Readings on Concepts and Methods by Sander Greenland or Causal inference by Kenneth J. Rothman (it may sound strange but there’s been a lot of thinking about it in epidemiology).

    Otherwise, you could take a look to the chapter “Is falsifiability the touchstone of scientific rationality ? Karl Popper versus inductivism” by Adolf GrŘnbaum in Essays in memory of Imre Lakatos (available on Google books, p. 213).

    Or take a look in the PhilSci Archives (http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/).

    Or ask Andrew Gelman (http://www.stat.columbia.edu/~cook/movabletype/archives/2004/10/bayes_and_poppe.html). Probably better to ask on his Scienceblogs blog, though.

  537. #537 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    April 17, 2010

    You lot are no different than the creationists. You belong together. No wonder many atheists despise the militant types.

    Now, why do I have the feeling you had an emotional hard-on to get to that conclusion, and so constructed your stupid little game here just to give yourself an excuse to say it?

    Tired.

  538. #538 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 17, 2010

    no evidence provided.

    That is you to a “T” MK. Evidence is your Achilles heel. You have none, and you opinion is worthless. What a loser….

  539. #539 Anri
    April 17, 2010

    Hey, but at least MK had a great rebuttal to my post at #494!
    His point in responding to that was…

    Um, ok, he didn’t.

    But I know why.
    It was because I used terribly rude language such as…

    Well, heck, can’t use that excuse either.

  540. #540 DaveWTC
    April 17, 2010

    @#152 (yes, Meyrick Kirby)

    All the evidence that contradicts the bibical genesis story was placed there by God to mislead man, i.e. the evidence is either false or at least misleading.

    To what possible end? And apparently you agree there is evidence to contradict it so why are you still here bothering us? We’ve all fallen for the divine joke so there’s no point continuing this. Someone above said ignorance is curable and that’s true but stupid is forever! Just think, Meyrick, you’ll be stupid for eternity.

  541. #541 SC OM
    April 17, 2010

    Okay, why is Europe atheist? Because of it’s [sic] history of militant atheism?

    Of course, the question wasn’t about atheism but secularism, to the extent that these countries are secular. But with regard to both secularism and atheism, Europe has a long history of “militant” atheism and anticlerical action by anarchists, Marxists, radical republicans, and the like. What makes you this this hasn’t played an important role?

  542. #542 Carlie
    April 17, 2010

    Speaking of evidence…

    There are a lot of examples where getting entirely pissed off and vocal have propelled movements to the forefront of national consciousness and accomplished change. Suffrage, civil rights, gay rights, women’s rights, etc.

    What are the examples where playing nice and accommodating have accomplished the same scale of change? What can Pigliucci and Mooney and even Plait and the rest point to as one single example of that approach working? Anything? Anywhere? They keep claiming that the kind and soothing let’s-all-hug approach is the best, but from what historical evidence? I see none to support that, and an awful lot against it.

  543. #543 kantalope
    April 17, 2010

    BDN and Tis Himself: thanks good starting places.

    BBC has all the good education stuff. My Ipod bursts at the seams with BBC podcasts. Wish our public TV could still come up with stuff like COSMOS.

  544. #544 'Tis Himself, OM
    April 17, 2010

    Carlie #542

    What are the examples where playing nice and accommodating have accomplished the same scale of change? What can Pigliucci and Mooney and even Plait and the rest point to as one single example of that approach working? Anything? Anywhere? They keep claiming that the kind and soothing let’s-all-hug approach is the best, but from what historical evidence? I see none to support that, and an awful lot against it.

    But Carlie, you don’t understand. If we upset the goddists they won’t respect us. Whereas if we’re nice to them, like Pigliucci et al want, they’ll become nice to us.

    Of course what Pigliucci et al go out of their way to ignore is our very existence is an affront to many goddists. So what the Pigliucci bunch really want us to do is go back into the closet.

  545. #545 kantalope
    April 17, 2010

    ooops that was AnthonyK not tis himself one post above,

    Thanks Anthony

  546. #546 'Tis Himself, OM
    April 17, 2010

    You’re welcom….

    Oh. Never mind.

  547. #547 Jadehawk, OM
    April 17, 2010

    Europe has a long history of “militant” atheism and anticlerical action by anarchists, Marxists, radical republicans, and the like. What makes you this this hasn’t played an important role?

    indeed; the Enlightenment itself was an anticlerical movement of this type.

    Now add greater economic security and the much wider existence of non-religious social capital building communities, and voila, a secular(-ish) continent!

  548. #548 aratina cage
    April 17, 2010

    So what the Pigliucci bunch really want us to do is go back into the closet.

    I think you are right, ‘Tis. Pigliucci & co. don’t seem to understand that theocentrism runs deep in our culture where the general assumption, almost anywhere you go in the USA, is that you are a theist or wooist of some sort while being an atheist or skeptic has long been seen as taboo (unless you are rich, just like it has been for Teh Gayz). So, it doesn’t matter if you come out meekly or with a bang, it will still shock people because our culture does not prepare people for encounters with godlessness (not the same as being anti-Jesus/God).

    Pigliucci and De Dora don’t want the godlessness of science to shock people, so they are fine with never confronting erroneous beliefs and toning down their own beliefs, but what’s more, you should be fine with it, too. Again, they fail to realize that it will always be upsetting to someone in a culture where atheism and skepticism are marginalized. And this accommodationism they spout (along with Meyrick Kirby) really seems like the more dangerous position to take because it suggests that not enlightening people is beneficial to the future of society and humanity.

  549. #549 AnthonyK
    April 17, 2010

    I can see, in everday life, that being accomodationist is fine – I mean it would be stupid and entirely unproductive for me to go out and picket church services, or for groups of atheists to attempt street prozletyising, for example.
    I can also understand people like, say, Phil Plait who sees no reason to be an in-their-face guy. And I don’t think they should be criticised for it: not all of us want to be like Hitchens or Pat Condell. Apart from anything else, I loathe people who try to force their faith on others – for me, my (lack of) faith is something that people can ask me about but I won’t insist on telling them.
    (Heh. My 9-year-old nephew told me he was an atheist yesterday – and his primary school has a bit of a god-bot head. His 11-year-old sister is “agnostic”. Cool!)
    So I won’t criticize Phil for not going the whole hog – but when it comes to people like Massimo criticising “us”, from his pulpit of philosophical bullshittery, then, yes, I do get cross.
    (And I’m sure I’m not the only one to notice that his piece, reprising PZ’s title to no effect, was much less well written, and argued, than the original. It happens more and more often – the Prof’s pieces are much sharper and wittier than his detractors. I wonder how the book is going?)

  550. #550 Celtic_Evolution
    April 17, 2010

    So, if you went to the Discovery Institute and everyone started telling you that you were wrong about ID, that would mean you are wrong?

    If they kept providing me actual evidence the way we have you, example after example, that I could not refute with the peer reviewed literature, then sure.

    Not too worried about that happening, frankly… but back to you…

    And if they were to do that and I were to just ignore it and continue to tell them they haven’t provided any… well, that would just make me an asshole. (nudge, nudge…)

  551. #551 David Marjanovi?
    April 17, 2010

    Shit, the thread doubled in length while I wasn’t looking… I actually wanted to go to bed…

    1. Scientific theories are testable, i.e. falsifiable.
    2. Religious stories are not testable.
    3. But claiming relgious stores are testable, you’re elevating them to science. This is a bad idea.
    4. Better to simply say they aren’t science.

    In science I don’t care about “elevating”, “better”, or other such politeness crap. Many religious claims are falsifiable, see comment 320. They enter the domain of science where, S. J. Gould would say, they don’t belong in the fucking first place. Too bad for them! We can’t say “because those claims are religious claims, we must pretend they’re not falsifiable”; that would be dishonest. It would be a lie. It would be unscientific.

    Using science to test propositions is science whether those propositions originate in the bible, the vedas or the internet. “blurring the lines” only happens when “science” uses unscientific methods like claiming negative emotions causes psychic experiments to fail.

    Bingo.

    As an example, it does not matter that the current hypothesis of the shape of the benzene molecule comes from a dream. Literally ? from a dream KekulÚ had in his siesta. He woke up, thought it made sense, tested it, and the rest is history.

    Blockquote, I hate thee even as I love thee.

    Blcokqutoes ? can’t live with them, can’t live without them…!!!

    (Yes, both typos are original, not contrived.)

    I didn’t say creationist should be ignored, rather your strategy is wrong. You’ll get further not be saying religion is wrong, but by saying it’s irrelevant, and that people should be ignoring it.

    If I have to choose between the facts and any strategy, I’ll stick with the facts. Go ahead, accuse me of fiat iustitia et pereat mundus; I can take it.

    Besides, I don’t think spreading a noble lie has ever worked. AFAIK it has always backfired.

    yet the US is far more religious. Is that because there has been lots of militant atheists in Britains recent history, or because lots of people in Britain just don’t care about religion?

    Why do people in Britain (and Europe generally) care so much less about religion, on average?

    I think it’s because of education, the thing that’s so difficult to get in the USA.

    My day is wasted if I don’t manage to piss off at least one person.

    Go here and look up “trolling”.

    by stating in science classrooms that certain religious ideas are false in you open the door for creationist to bring their ideas into the science classroom. Creationist will say “if they are allowed to argue religion is wrong in the science classroom, why can’t we argue it is right”

    We are allowed ? even required ? to argue, no, to demonstrate that certain religious ideas are false, namely those that contradict science. Where’s the problem? Creationists can try to disprove scientific hypotheses the same way anyone can. :-|

    phylosophy

    That would be about the stem of wisdom, not the love of it as intended :^)

    Meyrick Kirby is my real name. I don’t, unlike the rest of you, hide behind pseudonyms.

    Ehem.

    There are very good reasons for pseudonymity on teh intarwebz. I don’t use a pseudonym because I lack the imagination to come up with a good one and because it’s occasionally handy when people can find me in Google Scholar…

    It’s his blog, shit-for-brains; ergo, nothing he does here can, by definition, be ‘trolling’.

    Untrue. Greg Laden did troll on his own blog a few weeks ago. (With disastrous results for everyone involved, himself included.)

    So you’re not going to give your real name and your real credentials. You are not willing to put your name to your arguments. You are an intellectual coward!

    Argumentum ad hominem.

    Who makes an argument is completely irrelevant to whether that argument is wrong.

    Shame on you.

    Merely, by using abusive language people assumed I was a creationist.

    You moron. You were assumed to be a creationist because you appeared to defend creationism. Why isn’t that obvious?

    How is calling some a “witless wanker” not attention seeking?

    And there I was, thinking I was leading a sheltered life.

    <headdesk>

    I don’t see anyone, apart from sinz, disagreeing with you.

    PZ isn’t just talking of this one particular thread. <headdesk>

    You complain about being expelled from a cinema for your opinions

    He didn’t complain.

    He laughed.

    Okay, why is Europe atheist?

    …ehem…

    You might want to revisit that sentence.

  552. #552 David Marjanovi?
    April 17, 2010

    Oh, and… Behe being a scientist? What science has he done since he joined the Disinformation Institute?

  553. #553 WowbaggerOM
    April 17, 2010

    David Marjanovi? wrote:

    Untrue. Greg Laden did troll on his own blog a few weeks ago. (With disastrous results for everyone involved, himself included.)

    Thing is, I don’t think he was; sure, he was behaving in the assholish way that we would call trolling, but it’s his blog so I don’t think it applies. Yes, that’s a double-standard – but it’s like destruction of property; it ain’t a problem if it’s your property.

  554. #554 Celtic_Evolution
    April 17, 2010

    Clownshoe Kirby has been given several different falsifiable claims directly from Genesis relating to creationism and has been given the evidence falsifying them…

    And yet continues to wildly stroke himself while insisting we simply can’t provide any.

    Kirby to somedude out of the blue: “Hey, tosser… What’s the square root of 9?”
    somedude: “3″
    Kirby: “So you admit you don’t know?”
    somedude: “Not what I said. I gave you an answer. 3.”
    Kirby (breathing harder): “Ah, but can you absolutely prove that?”
    somedude: “Ummm… dude… the square root of 9 is 3. What are you just trying to start an argument for fun?”
    Kirby: “No… I’m telling you that since you can’t disprove that the square root of 9 isn’t 4…”
    somedude: “Yes, I can…”
    Kirby (breathing even heavier and rapidly) “I don’t think I like your tone”
    somedude: “What the fuck has my tone got to do with it? The square root of 9 is 3, you asshole!”
    Kirby (sweating profusely): “Now, see, if you would not use such abusive language, we could have a much more constructive conversation about the epistemological truth of square roots”
    somedude: “Dude… what the fuck are you on? You asked me to tell you the square root of 9. It’s 3. End of story”
    Kirby (allllmost there): “Sooo… you won’t answer the question. I knew it! I knew you wouldn’t answer it…I just kneeeeeeeeewwwwwww….”

    momentary pause…

    Kirby: “I think I’m gonna need a towel”.

  555. #555 SC OM
    April 17, 2010

    Or -3.

    *runs*

  556. #556 KOPD
    April 17, 2010

    554 & 555 FTW!

  557. #557 Celtic_Evolution
    April 17, 2010

    SC -

    I gave it at least 5 posts before someone was bound to point that out. Seems I was mistaken.

    Damn you… ;^)

  558. #558 AnthonyK
    April 17, 2010

    Errr..psst Celtic…+3 or – 3
    [pedant/maths teacher]

  559. #559 Carlie
    April 17, 2010

    Errr..psst Celtic…+3 or – 3

    I read Celtic’s “3″ with a glottal ±

    When did this turn into Literotica?

  560. #560 Celtic_Evolution
    April 17, 2010

    AnthonyK

    Yes, yes… I know it… I realized it just as I posted it… and SC was kind enough to point it out for me in the very next comment.

    *sigh*… that should teach me to try to be funny and clever at the same time.

    I have no excuse.

  561. #561 AnthonyK
    April 17, 2010

    Eeeew. Well, after that, something completely different:
    insect photography using the iPhone

  562. #562 AnthonyK
    April 17, 2010

    a glottal ▒

    Mmmmmm…glo’al…

  563. #563 AnthonyK
    April 17, 2010

    Oh, and check out Alex Wild’s photographs in the link above – I feel a screensaver coming on, if not a T-shirt.

  564. #564 Skepticop
    April 17, 2010
  565. #565 SC OM
    April 17, 2010

    Perhaps PZ should start a Tone Thread, where those with chronic vapors can take their endless supply of concern. They never come up with anything new and appear to have no knowledge of history. Stupid, tiresome, useless.

  566. #566 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 17, 2010

    They never come up with anything new and appear to have no knowledge of history. Stupid, tiresome, useless.

    Now, now, don’t hurt their poor widdle pearl clutching? feelings to make them go away. Give us a chance too. And don’t be afraid to say what you really feel…
    ;)

  567. #567 Celtic_Evolution
    April 17, 2010

    Awww….we hurt their widdle feewings!

    Oh, my… an entire blog dedicated to tone concern? How lovely.

    “You’re not helping”

    Ummm… we’re not helping whom? Do what exactly.

    If you mean we’re not helping you fucking faithiests pretend like coddling the religious and playing nice has ever fucking furthered the “cause” one fucking iota, then you’re not only a concerned pissant, you’re also naive, and you don’t fucking represent my goals.

    Fuck off, the whole lot of ya…

  568. #568 Scott Hatfield, OM
    April 18, 2010

    To all concerned: I think my favorite comment on this thread was #498. It seemed so rational, so sensible, so urbane.

    To Meyrick Kirby: I’m a theist. But (as you might be able to tell from my ‘OM’), I get treated pretty fairly by the denizens of this blog. Critical, yes. Scornful, often. Favored with creative insult, upon occasion. But, for the most part, fairly and even with good humor.

    Since outlier views like mine are in fact tolerated here, that would tend to give the lie to any claims that you are being pilloried or face a likely ban for ideological reasons. I’ve been coming here for years, and I usually enjoy it.

    You, on the other hand, managed to stir up a shitstorm almost immediately upon arrival. That should tell you that (if your goal was enlightened discourse) your approach isn’t working.

    And, if your goal wasn’t enlightened discourse, what the hell, seriously, do you not have any cat’s tails to tie together in your neck of the woods, that you have to torture the rest of us with your pathology?

  569. #569 JeffreyD
    April 18, 2010

    My word, MK certainly is a distasteful little piece of excrement, is he not? I have tried to be fair and read both sides, but I find his tone to be most distressing. He is insulting and vulgar. I intend to strongly complain to the management of this blog for allowing a man such as he to post. I will also send MK a copy of Lady Deirdre Waggon’s Book of Etiquette.

    Excuse, I must go and recline for a moment to allow the ugliness to pass. I will pray for you MK.

  570. #570 MetzO'Magic
    April 18, 2010

    PZ @ #53

    OK, jaguar, panther, tiger, whatever — you can be any ferocious beast you want. Just be ferocious and beastly!

    You see, what really matters here is what species of feline sports the sniniest coat. So it’s panther FTW!

  571. #571 co
    April 18, 2010

    OK, jaguar, panther, tiger, whatever — you can be any ferocious beast you want. Just be ferocious and beastly!

    How about this?

  572. #572 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    April 19, 2010

    @504: You complain about being expelled from a cinema for your opinions, but you’re happy to expel me for stating my opinions.

    The only way the situations would be equivalent is if you complained about the content of Pharyngula on your own blog and were then prevented from paying a fee to simply read this blog without posting comments.

    By the way, simply reporting events that occurred is not “complaining”, nor is pointing out the hypocrisy of the Expelled producers.

  573. #573 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    April 19, 2010

    #501, not #504

    Also,
    Your blog, your rules, but it makes you a hypocrite.

    How does enforcing the rules posted up front — rules that all the commenters here must abide by — make PZ a hypocrite? You admitted to trolling, and trolling is a clearly stated bannable offense. You should already be banned by that standard, but instead you’ve been given many chances to redeem yourself after that. You’ve thrown those away, choosing instead to whine about tone and pseudonyms and credentials, and now you’re simply lashing out like a child caught misbehaving by an adult.

    Since you show no signs of changing your ways and following the rules the rest of us follow, you’ll soon either be banned or you’ll flounce out of here in a dramatic huff. Either way, you’ll be forgotten quickly by most everyone because you will have contributed nothing and made no lasting impression. You’ve failed to even be an interesting troll.

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