Exhibits A & B?

PZ writes: Not the puppy dog!:

Religion really does make people crazy. Here’s a story about a dog who walked into a Jewish court.

“The dog entered the Jerusalem financial court several weeks ago and would not leave, reports Israeli website Ynet.”

“It reminded a judge of a curse passed on a now deceased secular lawyer about 20 years ago, when judges bid his spirit to enter the body of a dog.”

So, obviously, this stray mutt must contain the displaced, reincarnated soul of a dead lawyer. At least, that’s what somebody steeped in magical thinking would assume.

If you have an animal possessed by the soul of a lawyer (what? Satan was busy?), what’s the next step? Obviously, you have to kill the dog, and since you’re a traditionalist, stoning is the method of choice. Again, if you’re full of theological wackiness.

Then, because you are incompetent at managing reality rather than your fantasy life, the dog escapes (Hooray! There’s one heartwarming moment in this story, at least). What to do next? Tell all the children to hunt down the dog and kill it.

Way to pass on humane values to your kids, rabbis!

To his title’s exclamation, we can now reply: No, not the puppy dog. Turns out, the story was invented by an Israeli animal rights group, has been retracted by the paper with an apology to readers and the court. The dog was collected by the municipal animal shelter (and thus did not escape, contra PZ). The crazy people were the animal rights folks, and the atheists who credulously jumped on the story. As to the humane values passed down by rabbis, here’s what the rabbi told the paper, after categorically denying the original account: “There is no basis for cruelty to animals, not in Halacha (Jewish religious law) and not in logic.”

PZ hasn’t commented on this retraction.

This comes barely a week after PZ asked What has happened to Amina?, referring to “the young Syrian woman who was threatened with rape by Islamist thugs” who, PZ told his readers, “disappeared a few days ago.” “This is the world we live in, that such nightmares can occur,” he wrote, after quoting an account of her alleged abduction posted to her blog.

Except it turns out Amina doesn’t exist. She isn’t a young Syrian “gay girl,” as the blog claimed. Amina was actually Tom McMaster, a 40 year-old man from Georgia, studying the Middle East in Scotland. He told the Washington Post, “he fictionalized the account of a gay woman in Syria to illuminate the situation for a Western audience,” and justified the fictions he perpetrated by writing: “While the narrative voice may have been fictional, the facts on this blog are true and not misleading as to the situation on the ground. I do not believe that I have harmed anyone — I feel that I have created an important voice for issues that I feel strongly about.”

PZ took McMaster to task, saying “Screw you… you have undermined authentic voices. Lies never help.” He has not corrected the original post where he perpetuated those same lies, even though the first comment on that post notes that Amina’s story was already considered fishy.


Remember back when Chris Mooney published an account of a purported incident of an atheist insulting his audience’s religion, and then it turned out that the key parts of the story were made up, and Chris Mooney issued repeated corrections and apologies (including edits to earlier posts). And remember how PZ said: “The only good thing to come out of the whole sordid mess was a tarnishing of the reputation of … Mooney”?

Good times.

Of course, Mooney didn’t just acknowledge and call out his commenter’s ethical failings (as PZ called out McMaster), Mooney also apologized on his own behalf to his readers for having elevated the profile of those fictions, even after he’d made a good faith (but clearly insufficient) effort to check the story’s facts.

If that’s what PZ thinks it takes to tarnish a reputation, I’d hate to think what he’d say about someone who repeatedly promotes fake stories (two in 8 days!) and doesn’t take responsibility for it.

Comments

  1. #1 Gurdur
    June 21, 2011

    Add another bit, this one below, to your list.

    PZ is awfully fond of bitching at journalists (and the media), including bitching if they don’t get their facts right.

    Only a short while back (September last year) there was a report of how an angry mob had burnt down the American Crocodile Education Sanctuary (ACES), founded by Vincent Rose and his wife Cherie Chenot-Rose. It was alleged that a psychic had whipped the mob up, and told the mob two local missing children were either hidden in the croc sanctuary, or their bodies hidden their.

    You can find a list of my blog posts on the subject; please note that I personally did a lot of telephoning around Belize (I live in Germany) to find out as much as possible of what had actually happened.

    The upshot of the affair? The alleged psychic had never even heard of the ACES place before (the ACES place was in an rural part), the alleged psychic had never made any public career as a psychic, and had never even heard of the missing children (who came from a village nearby but not all that near, and the alleged psychic was a small-town person herself, with no knowledge of events outside her own small area). Later on, the alleged psychi was arrested and charged with fortune-telling. It took a while for it to come to court, but in October, the trial was held, she was found completely not guilty (for lack of any evidence — ANY evidence — at all that she had been fortune-telling or otherwise making psychic claims), all charges dismissed by the judge, and she was released. Just why she had been accused in the first place turned out to apparently be a small-town vendetta where a victim for a scapegoat had been sought, any victim who had no power and no means of revenge or fightback.

    At the time, PZ made a post on the affair, making a big thing about the “psychic” and that alleged role in the affair (and of course the comment thread underneath was full of flames about the alleged “psychic”). He of course never bothered noting how later the whole story of involvement by a psychic had been wholly disproven, despite a person making it clear in the comment thread under his post. The mob had not been incited to action by any psychic at all.

    The facts don’t seem to matter to PZ as long as the story suits him.

  2. #2 Sven DiMilo
    June 21, 2011

    PZ gets fooled plenty by web-memes.
    Evidently it’s no big deal to him; he blogs on, unconcerned.
    Mooney’s case was completely internal to his blog. He celebrated a bullshit comment.
    See the diff?

  3. #3 Josh Rosenau
    June 21, 2011

    Sven: A web meme is something like LOLcats or putting your shoe on your head. PZ is getting taken in by fake news items that could be investigated, but which PZ reports credulously because they validate his preconceptions. At best, that was Chris’s sin, too, and surely one we’ve all fallen prey to.

    But if you read Chris’s account of what he did before running Tom Johnson’s story, you see that he tried to check the story. He didn’t just celebrate a bullshit comment (as PZ is celebrating bullshit stories), he checked sources to confirm it, and while his due diligence was apparently not sufficient, he did at least try, and acknowledged his error once it was revealed. PZ apparently doesn’t check his sources, and doesn’t acknowledge his own errors once other people dig into the stories. So many of his readers probably still think the dog story is real, and psychic alligator story above is real, and maybe that Amina is really still missing.

    PZ gets shitloads of traffic, and with that power ought to come some sort of responsibility. Especially for a skeptic, a scientist, and a proponent of reason who claims to be motivated only y the truth, it’s not good to be repeating so many falsehoods, and to be leaving so many falsehoods uncorrected.

  4. #4 Phillip IV
    June 22, 2011

    Just out of interest, where did you draw the “story was invented by an Israeli animal rights group” from? The post at the link you supply only mentions that an animal rights group had filed a complaint (possibly based on the misleading newspaper story).

  5. #5 J. J. Ramsey
    June 22, 2011

    If we’re talking about PZ Myers being less than truthful, then I’ve got a doozy of a story. I should warn, though, that I do not have clean hands here, since the story starts with me doing something unkind, uncivil, crass, etc. However, PZ Myers managed to ruin whatever moral high ground he had on me by making stuff up. And I don’t mean just a little exaggeration; I mean something dangerously close to libel.

    There are three highlights (or lowlights, if you will): The original falsehood from all the way back in 2007, PZ’s later expansion of the falsehood in 2009, and his contradicting himself in 2010.

    Here’s the part where I definitely do not have clean hands. In 2007, PZ Myers had said, “Now, define ‘strident’. Near as I can tell, it’s simply being an atheist and publicly arguing against god-belief.” I then showed him an example of what I considered strident by quoting his daughter saying this:

    Next idea for a blog post is “Why I don’t believe in god.” I suddenly realised how necessary it is for me to condense my beliefs and reasoning in retard-friendly format. This format is important for the audience I am targeting with it

    I foolishly twisted the knife by adding, “Luckily, these are just the words of an adolescent. A full-grown adult would never write something so immature. Right?”

    Told you I didn’t have clean hands.

    However, PZ Myers started making stuff up right from when he wrote my entry in his “Dungeon,” saying that I “chose to insult my daughter here, several times, after being warned.” The several times part is a complete fabrication. Note that he’s saying that I insulted her several times on his own blog. That will be important later.

    In 2009, PZ expanded on what he wrote in an argument on the old Richard Dawkins’ forums with a woo named Jon_Howard, who saw the Dungeon page and defended me until Myers wrote this:

    There’s one important thing that Jon_Howard is skipping over in his obsessive analysis of the people I’ve banned: when they go over the line and leave abusive comments that warrant banning, their comments are deleted. For example, one of these fellows he is defending made extremely inappropriate comments about my under-age daughter’s sex life…and if you think I’m going to allow that kind of squalid viciousness stand, or that I’d leave such comments in place, you’re going to have to rethink matters a bit.

    PZ then went on to say that I was one he “could have had reported for pedophilia.” Understandably, Jon_Howard said in response, “I fully agree with you removing Ramsey’s posts off your site. I applaud you for it. I’d have done the same. I’d also have made sure I reported his ISP as he might have been a genuine threat to other kids.”

    Now you’d think that if what PZ had described had really happened, then he’d have no trouble remembering it a year later. After all, if true, he’d have remembered it for two years already, and such lewdness would be easy to remember. Yet in 2010, he writes this on his blog: “always this whining that he only did it once. Which isn’t true: he made the one post about it here, but then I found him complaining about Skatje on other sites, too. [emphasis added]” The half-truth about the “other sites” is a misdirection; Myers has gone from saying that I had insulted his daughter multiple times on his own blog and that he had deleted those comments–again, something that should have been memorable if it had happened–to saying that I only complained once. He’s contradicted both his original story, and the one with the pedophilia.

    Oh, and a year later he tried to deny that the story with the pedophilia was about me, saying that he didn’t mention my name. Unfortunately for him, Jon_Howard did, and in a context that left no doubt who PZ was talking about.

    I documented the whole lousy affair, complete with links, originally for my own protection: Here

    PZ Myers, your pants are on fire.

  6. #6 Rob Knop
    June 22, 2011

    Read some of Mooney’s more recent stuff about “motivated reasoning”, PZ Myers’ beahvior becomes completely understandable.

    PZ is very much the Rush Limbaugh of atheists.

  7. #7 J. J. Ramsey
    June 22, 2011

    Motivated reasoning may make Myers’ behavior understandable, but it doesn’t make it excusable, especially when his behavior crosses the line from mere credulity to actively telling falsehoods about people. That’s especially true when he tells a lie like saying that I made “extremely inappropriate comments about [his] under-age daughter’s sex life.”

    Indeed, by this point, I have about as little of a problem calling him a liar as I do calling Limbaugh a liar.

  8. #8 Sesli Chat
    June 22, 2011

    İşte parçası kesinlikle temiz eller yok. 2007 yılında, PZ Myers “Şimdi, ‘sert’ tanımlar. Anlayabilirim gibi civarında, sadece bir ateist ve halka tanrı inancına karşı savunarak olan bu.” Demişti Sonra onu ben bu söyleyerek kızı alıntı yaparak keskin olarak ne bir örnek gösterdi:

  9. #9 Lynxreign
    June 22, 2011

    Sure, and that’s very different from how you behave, right? I mean you go that extra step and go to other blogs do defend the idiocy you post.

  10. #10 Lynxreign
    June 22, 2011

    Oh, and are you going to include Ed Brayton in your little accusations here? He’s mentioned the dog story today with no explicit retraction in the same post, he mentions it in the comments, but that’s all.

    How stupid are you that you think a later post condeming the original story isn’t good enough? You’re reaching because you’re a petty little man with a big hate built up.

  11. #11 Gray Falcon
    June 22, 2011

    Lynxreign, if the initial post still stands without correction, then failing to correct it directly when one has the ability to do so can be considered an act of negligent dishonesty.

  12. #12 Lynxreign
    June 22, 2011

    @Gray Falcon

    That’s one way of looking at it, another is one used by most newspapers: You leave the original as is as a matter of record and print a correction later. While it was once this way because it was impossible to go back and change the physical paper, it is maintained on-line to prevent a white-washing of the past. By leaving the original up, PZ is preserving evidence of his mistake.

    If you want to accuse him of “negligent dishonesty” then you also have to accuse Ed Brayton, the New York Times, Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, NPR, etc…

  13. #13 Gray Falcon
    June 22, 2011

    Sorry, Mr. Brayton did correct his article, at least, he put a note on there indicating he learned in was a hoax, which also preserves evidence of the mistake without failing to correct it. http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2011/06/jewish_court_sentences_a_dog_t.php

  14. #14 Gurdur
    June 22, 2011

    “leaving the original up, PZ is preserving evidence of his mistake.”

    Seriously? Or he just doesn’t care? So where is the later retraction then? Well, come on. Several stories now reported by PZ turned out to be bollocks. Where are his retractions? Where?

    Ed Brayton made a retraction. So where are PZ’s retractions of any kind?

    “If you want to accuse him of “negligent dishonesty” then you also have to accuse Ed Brayton, the New York Times, Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, NPR, etc..”

    Oh pul-leeeze. You claiming none of those do later retractions of any kind? Seriously? And to repeat: Ed Brayton did.

    “PZ gets fooled plenty by web-memes.
    Evidently it’s no big deal to him; he blogs on, unconcerned.”

    So what you’re saying means PZ is a credulous person who often doesn’t do fact-checking, and often passes on dubious stories. If a previous story which suited him and was passed on by him turns out to be untrue, he blogs on unconcerned, without any retractions. All in PZ’s mission of … what, exactly, again? Do go on. What is PZ’s mission? Anything to do with rationalism? Tackling credulousness? Or are credulousness and lack of retractions fine in the service of …?

    “Mooney’s case was completely internal to his blog. He celebrated a bullshit comment.
    See the diff?”

    Oooo, yes! I see the light! I see the difference! If a story is untrue, Mooney will publish a retraction, but PZ won’t.

    “PZ is very much the Rush Limbaugh of atheists.”

    Something like that. Or the FOX News of atheism. We need more who can be the Brit Guardian or the Rachel Maddow, Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert of atheism. Oh whoops. Three out of four of those get hammered by PZ on various things at times. Not sufficiently in line with his thinking enough.

  15. #15 Stephen
    June 22, 2011

    “PZ gets shitloads of traffic, and with that power ought to come some sort of responsibility.”

    Your envy is showing …

  16. #16 Gurdur
    June 22, 2011

    “Your envy is showing …”

    Evade much? :-D

  17. #17 TB
    June 22, 2011

    It’s not so much that these are terrible things he’s done, it’s that PZ and his followers held Mooney to a standard that evidence suggests PZ and his followers don’t hold for themselves.
    Add the “Expelled” incident, where I believe PZ checked that they seemed to be filmmakers but didn’t check anything else. Result: He’s forgiven for being used as propoganda in a film that, though not financially successful, is still out there for use by anyone with a creationist agenda. Mooney checked to see if the person was actually a scientist. Result: He’s condemned when it turns out that scientist actually lied and Mooney reports him to his supervisor. But that was a blip in the Internet that didn’t change anything.
    It’s the hypocrisy, and because it’s obvious that they really don’t think it’s all that important, we can disregard PZ and his followers’ cries of outrage.

  18. #18 Laurent Weppe
    June 22, 2011

    @ Jonathan:

    There is alway internet vigilantism (hey, sometimes it work, even if the lies are spread from another country (Link in French, it basically describes how a group a french older net denizens managed to destroy a still embryonic far right terrorist organization.)

  19. #19 J. J. Ramsey
    June 22, 2011

    Jonathan: “People are always threatening to repost someones’ ‘iSP'”

    I was not seriously afraid that Jon_Howard would report to my ISP. Indeed, by the time I found out about PZ Marchauser going over the top and actually directly claiming that I had said lewd things about his daughter, instead of slyly implying it, it was about a year after the fact. Besides, PZ was lying, remember? An ISP would need at least some evidence to take action, and PZ obviously had none.

  20. #20 Anthony McCarthy The Thought Criminal
    June 22, 2011

    Damn it, Josh, don’t tempt me to get into another go round with PZ.

    Oh, and are you going to include Ed Brayton in your little accusations here? Lynxreign

    I love the instantly invented rules of discourse the new atheists make up like Duncan Doughnuts. Unless you condemen each and every new atheist who made a mistake you can’t tweak the nose of one you’ve sparred with in the past? I can’t wait to see what logicy sounding name they give this impromptu fallacy.

    Hey, PZ got caught in a minor folly due to him having to feed his PZnut gallery it’s daily doses of hate, derision and self-congratulations. Though I think the point about Chris Mooney’s great sin, actually, being less open to criticism due to the impossibility to verify what he used.

    Buck up, PZites, he’s only human.

    I think I’ll go open up my new broadcast seeder. That buckwheat isn’t planting itself.

  21. #21 Anthony McCarthy The Thought Criminal
    June 22, 2011

    “PZ gets shitloads of traffic, and with that power ought to come some sort of responsibility.”

    Your envy is showing … stephen

    I stopped reading his blog threads because shitloads were what most of it was.

    PZ doesn’t so much post as he PZexts. It’s all “look at me” and “hey, guys watch this”.

  22. #22 Feynmaniac
    June 22, 2011

    PZ cited a BBC News article. Mooney cited an anonymous comment on his blog. Just because both stories turned out to be false doesn’t mean they did the same thing.

  23. #23 Spartan
    June 22, 2011

    Unless you condemen each and every new atheist who made a mistake you can’t tweak the nose of one you’ve sparred with in the past?

    Brayton is not an atheist, new or otherwise.

  24. #24 J. J. Ramsey
    June 22, 2011

    Feynmaniac: “PZ cited a BBC News article.”

    PZ also cited an pseudonymous blog post, which is not much different from citing an pseudonymous comment on a blog, as Mooney did. Worse, there was a concrete reason to doubt the blog post by “Amina”, namely that her purported picture was from someone else, while the objections to TJ’s post were hazier issues of plausibility.

    More to the point, Mooney has made a thorough retraction that included modifying his errant blog posts as being retracted. PZ hasn’t done likewise. Heck, as I’ve pointed out before, PZ has actively made up things about someone, not just repeated others’ falsehoods, something which Mooney does not appear to have done. So Myers gets on his high horse about the dishonesty of accommodationists while holding far more lenient standards for himself.

  25. #25 Anthony McCarthy The Thought Criminal
    June 22, 2011

    I’d bring up his making up more than that but the last time I did the thread went about 800 comments.

    PZ is essentially call-in talk radio in text.

  26. #26 J. J. Ramsey
    June 22, 2011

    “I’d bring up his making up more than that”

    You mean Mooney or Myers?

  27. #27 Jesse
    June 22, 2011

    Look, folks, I am a journalist and I take what I do pretty seriously.

    Blogs aren’t always held up to quite the same standards, for both good and bad reasons. But I expect that people who say they are interested in rationalism and being at least minimally honest with oneself, and eliminating (where possible) biases — well, I expect that when those people make a mistake they own it. I have to. A lot of people may not know what goes on behind the scenes at the average newspaper, for instance, but I made factual mistakes in my career and my editor was ready to fire me on the spot. He’s have been right, too.

    Brayton owned up. He was a man about it. PZ hasn’t been. I lost some respect for PZ after that. (Though he did own up to getting fooled by the Amina story).

    I’ve made mistakes and I had to own them. I don’t think it’s too much to ask of PZ. No shame in getting fooled– it happens.

  28. #28 TB
    June 22, 2011

    So Feynmaniac, PZ should be excused because he relied on a report written by a professional journalist who works for a news organization?
    You know Mooney identified that anonymous commentor. So the report Mooney highlighted came from a doctoral student working as a scientist for a prestigious university program.
    In terms of credibility, it’s at least even.

  29. #29 Feynmaniac
    June 22, 2011

    JJ Ramsey,

    I responded to your post, but the comment was held for moderation. I’ll wait to see if it gets through.

    TB,

    You know Mooney identified that anonymous commentor.

    He did that AFTER posting the comment.

    For a refresher, here is the “Tom Johnson” story:

    Many of my colleagues are fans of Dawkins, PZ, and their ilk and make a point AT CONSERVATION EVENTS to mock the religious to their face, shout forced laughter at them, and call them “stupid,” “ignorant” and the like – and these are events hosted by religious moderates where we’ve been ASKED to attend. They think it’s the way to be a good scientist, after all.

    So what do you think happens when you spit in someone’s face, mock them openly, figuratively throw them to the ground and kick dirt in their face – and then ask “now we really need your help!!”? When my colleagues do this, you can watch the attention visibly disappear from the crowd when you finally start talking about conservation and real science.

    Sounds a lot less plausible than a lesbian in a Muslim country being arrested.

  30. #30 J. J. Ramsey
    June 23, 2011

    Feynmaniac, when many atheists act boorish online, the idea that some of them might take that boorishness to real life isn’t that implausible.

    More to the point, I wasn’t comparing the prior plausibility of the stories of Amina and Tom Johnson. I was pointing out that there was a concrete reason to doubt Amina’s story aside from more subjective issues of plausibility. Look back at my earlier post in this thread on the subject.

  31. “I’d bring up his making up more than that”

    You mean Mooney or Myers? JJR

    I meant Myers, as my noting he’s essentially talk-radio in text might have indicated.

    Chris Mooney is a responsible reporter who had one lapse on his blog. Other journalists are guilty of far more online as I’ve recently experienced.

  32. #32 TB
    June 23, 2011

    “He did that AFTER posting the comment.”

    And that little complaint became moot a day or so after the comment was posted, because that’s when he confirmed the identity – not a year later when it was discovered that Wally was lying. And when it was discovered he was lying, Mooney had his real identity so he could take the necessary steps.

    Why Wally did that makes no rational sense – Mooney knew who he and where he worked. And especially since the lie involved co-workers and supervisors … well, that should be enough normally for most people not to lie.

    But thanks for providing an example of someone willing to twist the truth to serve their own ends. If Mooney had checked with the commentor before he elevated the comment instead of a day or so after, he would have found out the SAME thing. And remember, a few days later Mooney announced that he had confirmed the identity and people still didn’t believe he’d done that.

    And in that context, your next comment doesn’t carry a lot of weight.

    “Sounds a lot less plausible than a lesbian in a Muslim country being arrested.”

    Tell it to Phil Plait, who confessed to being a dick himself. I’ve been a dick before – and no, you don’t get the details of my personal life. But I know I didn’t change any minds that way. I wonder how many other incidents are there out there that aren’t being told just because they don’t want to give credence to the argument against being a dick?

    We can’t know whether Wally’s original story is true – no one has really checked it out. But we shouldn’t trust what he says because he’s proven to be a liar. But he’s also proven to mix reality in with his fictions – he gave Mooney his real identity.

    I laugh at people who think otherwise – oh, now you think he’s telling the truth? He did that before, you know, lying about who he was while “confessing” to all he’d done. It’s just not worth the time to find out the truth there.

    And it especially doesn’t change the inconvenient fact that Plait – and others – have come out. Which reduces the criticism of Mooney to – what?

    But we digress! Where’s the vitriol against PZ! Where are the thousands of blog comments crying for his blood! By trying to say that what Mooney did was worse doesn’t mean that PZ isn’t at least as guilty.

    So, we’re waiting Feynmaniac. Get him!

  33. #33 Jean Kazez
    June 23, 2011

    Feynmaniac: “Sounds a lot less plausible than a lesbian in a Muslim country being arrested.”

    And yet some of the most implausible sounding elements actually were verified in the email Chris Mooney was sent (which he shared with me at the time the TJ thing blew up in July 2010). There really were conservation events, and they did involve religious people, and there were new atheist colleagues, and “TJ” was a scientist. Since all that checked out, it was not unreasonable to infer that the rest was honest too. Later on it became clear it wasn’t honest, but at that time…

    Alright, apart from that trip down memory lane, I wanted to make the point that as far as the importance of making a correction goes, it doesn’t seem material how exactly a falsehood gets into a post. Once you know you’ve said something false, I would think you should correct it, especially if the falsehood is unflattering to some individual or group. I don’t think it’s good enough to write a later post with the correction, since via a google search, someone can easily wind up reading the earlier error, and not the later correction.

  34. But we digress! Where’s the vitriol against PZ! Where are the thousands of blog comments crying for his blood! TB

    Hey, I got hundreds calling for my blood and all I was asking for was evidence that his great hoax was authentic His regulars are, essentially, a cult. Sometimes I almost get the feeling that he’d really like them to grow up but he can’t do without them as 12-year-olds at this point.

  35. #35 Feynmaniac
    June 23, 2011

    Arghhh, my response to JJ seems not to have gotten through.

    I was pointing out that there was a concrete reason to doubt Amina’s story

    And those reasons weren’t obvious, unlike the caricatures of “Tom Johnson”‘s story.

    And that little complaint became moot a day or so after the comment was posted, because that’s when he confirmed the identity

    It doesn’t matter that he eventually talked to “Tom Johnson”. He was suppose to do it before elevating it to a blog post.

    Tell it to Phil Plait, who confessed to being a dick himself.

    The story wasn’t just being a dick. It was people forcing laughter at the religious and call them stupid to their face at an event. You don’t think these academics would get in trouble from their superiors for that behavior? Or that their superiors would actually sanction it, like “Tom Johnson” later said?

    We can’t know whether Wally’s original story is true – no one has really checked it out.

    Yes, Jerry Coyne did.

  36. #36 J. J. Ramsey
    June 23, 2011

    Feynmaniac: “Arghhh, my response to JJ seems not to have gotten through.”

    It may yet. Our blog host is a busy man.

    In the meantime, care to summarize the contents? Even without the links, I may be able to respond.

  37. The story wasn’t just being a dick. It was people forcing laughter at the religious and call them stupid to their face at an event. You don’t think these academics would get in trouble from their superiors for that behavior? Or that their superiors would actually sanction it, like “Tom Johnson” later said? Feynmaniac

    Oh, I can believe that happening. The issue is only if it can be shown to have happened or not in this particular instance. I’m finding my eyes shutting as I read Coyne’s evidence and perhaps that’s why I can’t see a smoking gun.

    It is so funny that the PZites are still going on about this. Chris Mooney, if this is the most they’ve got on you, they’ve got nothing.

    Is Ophelia going to go over her favorite recitation complaining about Chris Mooney banning her? I don’t think James O’Neill did Monte Christo as many times as she’s done that. I don’t think Henny Youngman did his take my wife joke as many times.

  38. #38 TB
    June 23, 2011

    “We can’t know whether Wally’s original story is true – no one has really checked it out.
    Feynmaniac: “Yes, Jerry Coyne did.”

    Uh, no, he didn’t. No offense to Coyne, but he only talked to the advisor and the grad student that a proven liar pointed him to at a time that it was in the proven liar’s interest to have the story shown to be false. He was in full contrition mode, really sorry and not wanting anyone to look anymore into his business than he could help.
    In that vein, he was pretty much confessing to anything people were suggesting to him in the way that people were suggesting he confess. He claimed not to be a grad student, remember? Or if you don’t, go on back and read through thread again. I’m THAT TB, I saw he was still lying and went back to Mooney to check the facts instead of listening to him anymore.
    TJ mixes his truth with his fictions. Unless someone wants to go back and flood the zone with people looking into his background – which is what the NYT would do if TJ was on their payroll – then we’re not going to know what happened. We don’t know how many events there really were, whether they were affiliated with the university or not, whether TJ was with another grad student, a friend or even alone. And frankly it’s not worth that trouble.
    But at least I know not to trust anything TJ has to say, before or after he got caught.

    Again, we digress. And, you’re still not addressing the issue.

  39. #39 TB
    June 23, 2011

    Continuing with Feynmaniac
    “And those reasons weren’t obvious, unlike the caricatures of “Tom Johnson”‘s story.”

    What details? Jean Kazaz just told you that she’s seen the correspondence – I have too. Critics didn’t believe he was a scientist or in a position to have the kind of experience where that story could have occured in spite of the fact that many of those things were proven to be true. Even Coyne’s account confirms there was at least one outreach event.

    “It doesn’t matter that he eventually talked to “Tom Johnson”. He was suppose to do it before elevating it to a blog post.”

    And might have been a relevant criticism if the person turned out not to be the person they claimed to be.. Then Mooney confirmed the commentor’s identity and pretty much found out exactly what he would have learned if he’d contacted him before elevating the comment. So two or three days after the initial post, your argument became moot.

    “The story wasn’t just being a dick. It was people forcing laughter at the religious and call them stupid to their face at an event. You don’t think these academics would get in trouble from their superiors for that behavior? Or that their superiors would actually sanction it, like “Tom Johnson” later said?”

    Feel free to go through the comments at the original Tom Johnson post – like post numbers 17, 23 and 79 and 82. Hey, I’m the one who brought up the idea of confirming his identity!
    Do you really think I don’t ask these questions? I don’t care about “Tom Johnson.” I don’t need “Tom Johnson’s” story to remember my personal experiences. I care that Phil Plait aluded to behavior he described as dickish. You think rhetoric and behavior seen online can’t also be done off line and in person? You think people can’t be dicks in the way Johnson described?
    I say you don’t have the experiences I’ve had. Or you’re not being candid about them.
    Either way, you’re still not addressing the issue of PZ’s honesty. It’s like speeding – doesn’t matter if the other guy was going 90, you still got caught doing 85.

  40. #40 julian
    June 23, 2011

    “It is so funny that the PZites are still going on about this. Chris Mooney, if this is the most they’ve got on you, they’ve got nothing.”

    You find it strange that on a blog post where that event was alluded to someone would bring it up?

    “Oh, I can believe that happening.”

    You believe a lot of things, Mr. McCarthy. Many of them you’ve failed to make a case for.

  41. I don’t find it odd that PZ’s Avenger buddies are going over it again, which I’m sure is the only reason a rational person would allude to it.

  42. #42 julian
    June 23, 2011

    “You think rhetoric and behavior seen online can’t also be done off line and in person? You think people can’t be dicks in the way Johnson described?

    I say you don’t have the experiences I’ve had.”

    You’ve seen this happen? May I ask where and to who?

    Obviously if someone is creating a hostile workplace environment they need to be dealt with.

    “It’s like speeding – doesn’t matter if the other guy was going 90, you still got caught doing 85.”

    I agree which is why liberal religion gets no free passes from me.

  43. #43 TB
    June 23, 2011

    “You’ve seen this happen? May I ask where and to who?”

    No. My personal experiences aren’t up for debate on a public message board. I’ve shared as much as I’m going to about that – anything more is none of anyone’s business. And I really don’t care if that’s unsatisfying to anyone. Convincing other people isn’t why I brought it up – the point is TJ’s story wasn’t far out of the realm of my personal experience. But then, I haven’t led a sheltered life.

    But that’s just a distraction from the real point:

    “It’s like speeding – doesn’t matter if the other guy was going 90, you still got caught doing 85.”

    “I agree which is why liberal religion gets no free passes from me.”

    But apparently PZ does?

  44. #44 julian
    June 24, 2011

    “But then, I haven’t led a sheltered life.”

    Implying what? That I or any of the people posting on the other side of a screen you’ve never met have?

    You probably shouldn’t have mentioned it at all if you dislike going into it.

    “But apparently PZ does?”

    No. This is just something I find difficult to get worked up about anymore because so many bloggers do it and it’s annoyed me into indifference. PZ generally corrects himself when he fucks up and if he doesn’t one of the pharyngulites does.

    I’d love it if every blogger double checked sources and made it clear when they’d posted something false. But since most bloggers prepare their blog posts in advance and by the time they do notice their error their 8 or 9 posts past it (not even getting into how annoyed most people get when you correct them) that’s unlikely to happen.

  45. #45 TB
    June 24, 2011

    If you read the thread Julian you’d see it was in answer to Feynmaniac’s attempt to assert something as a caricature, as improbable, without any evidence. Basically his own alleged personal experience – or lack of it – as a metric. It was enough for me to counter that my personal experience is different and that I don’t accept his metric.
    Interesting that you challenged my answer and not Feynmaniac’s metric.

    “No. This is just something I find difficult to get worked up about anymore because so many bloggers do it and it’s annoyed me into indifference.”

    Oh, how convenient! You’re indifferent now. Were you indifferent with Mooney back then?

    “PZ generally corrects himself when he fucks up and if he doesn’t one of the pharyngulites does.”

    Oh, but then you’re not indifferent – you do defend PZ. Would you care to give specific examples in answer to Josh’s specific examples so we can judge whether they’re adequate to counter Josh’s? Or are we stuck with Feynmaniac’s metric of personal experience without details.

  46. PZ generally corrects himself when he fucks up and if he doesn’t one of the pharyngulites does. julian

    OK, julian just topped Tom Johnson.

  47. #47 Gurdur
    June 24, 2011

    Oh dudes, such a lot of tortured, really tortured attempts at excuse-making going on.

    PZ generally corrects himself when he fucks up …

    Given the evidence, bollocks. Sheer bollocks. Do try again, this is rather fun by now.

  48. #48 julian
    June 24, 2011

    “Interesting that you challenged my answer and not Feynmaniac’s metric.”

    Didn’t challenge. If someone is genuinely creating a hostile work environment for those of an opposing view point, it deserves to be talked about.

    “Oh, how convenient! You’re indifferent now. Were you indifferent with Mooney back then?”

    Aside from AronRa and QualiaSoup I didn’t follow any atheists at the time. Visited Skepchick and Neurologica a lot but mostly because I liked the Skeptic’s Guide Podcast. (Haven’t listened to it in a long while.)

    At the time I probably would have sided with Mooney as I was in my No Religious Preference phase and a huge fan of Ken Miller. Of course I always disliked Tone Trolls (or whatever iteration existed at the time) so there’s no guarantee.

    “Oh, but then you’re not indifferent – you do defend PZ.”

    I just agreed that he should add the correction to the original blog post. Really not sure what you want.

  49. #49 julian
    June 24, 2011

    “Given the evidence, bollocks. Sheer bollocks. Do try again, this is rather fun by now.”

    Given the evidence? May I see the evidence?

  50. #50 J. J. Ramsey
    June 24, 2011

    julian, you want evidence of how poorly PZ corrects himself when he says something false? The blog post itself has exhibits A & B, and comments #1 and #5 are exhibits C & D.

  51. #51 julian
    June 24, 2011

    “julian, you want evidence of how poorly PZ corrects himself when he says something false?”

    Obviously not as I just agreed he could do a better job with the piece given. (I’ve always been fond of the red disclosure at the top of a piece.) Gurdur called bollocks and Mr. McCarthy says I ‘topped Tom Johnson’ which I take to mean that PZ is frequently dishonest.

  52. Julian, you have topped Tom Johnson, PZ is sui generis. His fans are more sooey genera.

  53. #53 J. J. Ramsey
    June 24, 2011

    julian, Gurdur called bollocks on your claim that “PZ generally corrects himself when he fucks up.” Whether that equates to PZ being frequently dishonest is another matter. He messes up enough to matter, and a guy who even once falsely accuses someone of making lewd comments about a minor doesn’t deserve anyone’s trust, especially when he’d rather BS than own up to his libel.

  54. #54 julian
    June 24, 2011

    “julian, Gurdur called bollocks on your claim that “PZ generally corrects himself when he fucks up.” Whether that equates to PZ being frequently dishonest is another matter.”

    You’ll have to excuse me but I’ve been under the impression that calling something complete bollocks means you think every part of it is absolutely untrue. And given what I said and the vibe of ‘PZ is constantly fucking up’ I get from you all, I don’t think it unfair to assume (yes I’ll freely admit it an assumption) Gurdur feels PZ is dishonest.

    “He messes up enough to matter, and a guy who even once falsely accuses someone of making lewd comments about a minor doesn’t deserve anyone’s trust, especially when he’d rather BS than own up to his libel.”

    Reading through your link now. First of all your name was never used by PZ. I’m all for putting two and two together but you were not libeled. Sorry if that sounds pedantic but libel is pretty strong. (not stronger of course than charges of pedophilia) Secondly, you’re taking hints where I don’t see them. Like you said, if PZ had those comments, he’d have likely been upfront about them and shown them. Why would he direct people to some third party?

    And lastly, you seem to be not only forgetting the general amount of abuse high profile bloggers get but how often it extends to their family. This is educated guessing on my part but after seeing some of the sexist trolls online, derogatory comments aimed at PZ’s daughter don’t sound to far fetched. Of course, that’s guess work on my part.

    PS Skatje’s retard remark doesn’t necessarily reflect PZ’s influence. I hear ‘retard-proof’ ‘fucking retard’ and the like hurled around by both my younger siblings all the time. Might just be an age thing. Sorta like using gay as a catch all for anything bad. (neither of which is excusable.)

  55. #55 J. J. Ramsey
    June 24, 2011

    julian: “First of all your name was never used by PZ”

    That would mean something if it weren’t obvious that PZ is mentioning four people in the post to which you’re alluding, Jon_Howard and the three people he’s defending, and only mentioning one of them by name (Jon_Howard, obviously).

    I’ll quote PZ again:

    There’s one important thing that Jon_Howard is skipping over in his obsessive analysis of the people I’ve banned: when they go over the line and leave abusive comments that warrant banning, their comments are deleted. For example, one of these fellows he is defending made extremely inappropriate comments about my under-age daughter’s sex life [emphasis added]

    Note the part that I emphasized. He’s not referring to just anyone that he’s ever banned, but specifically to the ones that Jon_Howard is defending.

    Jon_Howard had defended three people: me, Caledonian, and TSK. Of these, only one of them had been mentioned in association with PZ’s daughter at all, namely me, so when PZ mentions that one of these three had made lewd comments about his daughter, it’s pretty obvious that he’s not referring to Caledonian or TSK.

    Furthermore, look at one of Jon_Howard’s later comments in the thread. If PZ wasn’t saying that I was the one who he “could have had reported for pedophilia,” then how does Jon_Howard come to think that “Ramsey” (again, me) “might have been a genuine threat to other kids.” Where does he get that idea?

    There really isn’t much wiggle room once context is taken into account. It’s pretty clear that PZ was claiming that I was the one making lewd comments about his daughter.

  56. Geesh, all these pixels spent on the honor of PZ. The guy’s a materialist liberal version of Glenn Beck, if Glenn Beck had read a little and was only acting nuts instead of being nuts. OK, so he’s PZ and not someone else. He’s still a little bully of the science blogs, one who has a following who are more Syfy than science literate.

    I’m going to be posting my two big fights with the guy later this summer. They were lots of fun. But that’s all he is is fun, in the end there’s nothing there by choice. Nothing you couldn’t get in a better form from reading a science based treatment without the hate and mean boy bonding. The hate and mean boy bonding are what it’s really about.

  57. #57 julian
    June 25, 2011

    “It’s pretty clear that PZ was claiming that I was the one making lewd comments about his daughter.”

    No he didn’t. Accepting the inferences you’ve made, he implied you made inappropriate comments about his daughter’s sex life. Which is different from claiming you made lewd comments about his daughter. Someone, Jon_Howard, guessed he was talking about you and PZ never confirmed or denied it. He never replied to Jon after he made that post on that thread at all from what I can see (might have missed it though) so he wasn’t trying to ruin your name or acting maliciously towards you. (though I doubt there’s much love between the two of you.)

  58. #58 J. J. Ramsey
    June 25, 2011

    julian:

    Accepting the inferences you’ve made, he implied you made inappropriate comments about his daughter’s sex life. Which is different from claiming you made lewd comments about his daughter.

    That’s hair splitting at best, and immaterial to my point.

    Someone, Jon_Howard, guessed he was talking about you

    Yes, and is there any reason at all to consider that a bad “guess” (or, to use a more accurate word, inference), other than wanting to avoid implicating PZ in a lie? Please. Jon_Howard defends three people and names them outright. PZ responds to his defense and in the process, alludes to the people that Jon_Howard names through his descriptions. This isn’t exactly deep exegesis here.

    PZ never confirmed or denied it.

    So? That hardly shows that Jon_Howard misunderstood PZ’s meaning.

  59. #59 Laurence
    June 25, 2011

    PZ should issue a correction or whatever. Maybe he will. Maybe he won’t. Maybe he doesn’t know the story is a fake. Maybe he does. I think everyone should take a chill pill.

  60. As I remember reading it, PZ didn’t like something JJR said and twisted the wording of it to make claims that weren’t there. He’s a thin skinned character assassin. That’s not unusual in character assassins.

  61. #61 J. J. Ramsey
    June 25, 2011

    “PZ didn’t like something JJR said and twisted the wording of it to make claims that weren’t there.”

    More or less. He didn’t twist so much as he made stuff up. He avoided quoting me or referring to my actual words, leaving it up to the readers’ imagination just what he meant by “insult my daughter.”

  62. As everyone knows PZ and his regulars are models of respectful criticism. It’s how he attracts so many paragons of reason to discourse on pure science.

  63. #63 julian
    June 25, 2011

    “That’s hair splitting at best, and immaterial to my point.”

    Your point is that PZ is a liar and libeled you. (if it isn’t, please to correct me) Because that’s what we’re discussing I think it’s important to give the best summary of PZ’s words.

    “So? That hardly shows that Jon_Howard misunderstood PZ’s meaning.”

    Or that he made the ‘right’ inference.

    I know I seem pedantic but you gave the impression of PZ holding this campaign against you which doesn’t seem to be the case. If PZ had libeled you, I’d expect there to be a lot more then a single comment where he never uses your name.

  64. #64 J. J. Ramsey
    June 25, 2011

    julian, inappropriate comments about someone’s sex life that have been described as “squalid viciousness” are generally considered a kind of lewd comment. That’s why I considered you to be hair-splitting.

    julian: “I know I seem pedantic but you gave the impression of PZ holding this campaign against you which doesn’t seem to be the case. If PZ had libeled you, I’d expect there to be a lot more then a single comment …”

    Libel does not require a campaign. It requires that someone have made a false and defamatory statement, whether once or multiple times. A single comment is more than enough for libel.

    Now it might take more than one comment to show libel. In my case, up until PZ contradicted himself recently, it was my word against his. That, though, has nothing to do with a campaign. Indeed, that he couldn’t keep his story straight points to a lack of a campaign, of someone sporadically making stuff up without much forethought. If PZ had done a campaign, I’d be even more screwed.

    “… where he never uses your name.”

    I’ve already pointed out why that canard is worthless in an earlier.

    Heck, aside from the what I said before, think about the following. I’ll quote PZ again:

    There’s one important thing that Jon_Howard is skipping over in his obsessive analysis of the people I’ve banned: when they go over the line and leave abusive comments that warrant banning, their comments are deleted. [emphasis original]

    How is the deletion of comments relevant to Jon_Howard’s “obsessive analysis”? Well, Jon_Howard quotes someone named Thorsten as saying, “There were no ‘several’ insults and he was *not* warned, this is pure fiction of PZ.” PZ’s claim about the deleted comments makes sense as a response to Thorsten, i.e. those several insults had existed, but Thorsten couldn’t find them because they were deleted. There’s nothing in Jon_Howard’s analysis where the matter of deleted comments would be relevant. Of course, Thorsten was talking about me.

  65. #65 J. J. Ramsey
    June 25, 2011

    Sorry, that should read “There’s nothing else in Jon_Howard’s analysis where the matter of deleted comments would be relevant.”

  66. I’d say PZ is more a Vaudeville performer than anything else. He’s got one act and he’ll do it till the new atheist Ed Sullivan Show folds and the broken dishes get swept up.

  67. #67 Marion Delgado
    June 27, 2011

    I try to model nuanced reactions – not behave towards, e.g., skeptics, gnus, other than I’d have them behave to other people.

    For me, I never could stand a large number of pharyngula’s commenters. I do follow pzmyers on Twitter and I often see him on Panda’s Thumb.

    A very prolific poster is going to be wrong more often, I have to add. I don’t really find PZ very extreme, very often, compared to many, many others in roughly the same group.

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