Thus Spake Zuska

Everybody’s talking about Unscientific America ’round these parts lately. I’ve almost finished reading it and will post a review of my own sometime soon. In the meantime…Isis has a post up where she makes note of ERV’s displeasure with the book. In response, ERV comments thusly on Isis’s blog:

Isis– I havent read Unscientific America. I called foul on some shit Mooney wrote in 2006 he has yet to address, I would have been shocked if he sent me a copy.

My issue with Mooney initially had nothing to do with atheism, nor does my problem with him today have anything to do with atheism.

PZ defended Mooney against all kinds of shit in the past, yet Mooney made the decision to attack PZ in a dead-tree format– No links to posts so readers can analyze what happened themselves, no trackbacks so readers can see PZs response, no comments section for commentors to come in with their perspectives– the portion on PZ might as well have been posted on ‘Evolution News and Views’ or ‘Uncommon Descent’. Luskin and Mooney can go on a speaking tour together, calling me a male sexual pervert and PZ a ‘destructive’ site-hit slut.

Assuming Luskin would even agree to tour with a backstabbing bitch.

If my views on Mooney must be connected to religion, let me be clear that I too dont give a fuck what you believe. While I think its interesting you get mad at SciBlogs for having mail-order-bride ads, yet you financially and socially support an organization that institutionalized child rape, I wouldnt ‘call you out’ on this by name in a print book where you couldnt defend yourself.

But Mooney might in his next book.

Okay. So, I know these young ‘uns today are all about the new hip forms of communication and nobody reads books anymore and what do old farts like I know anyway.

But seriously. If you are going to badmouth someone, loudly, for what they have written in a book, could you not take the trouble to read the damn book? At least glance through a borrowed copy of it? Wherein, it might become clear to you, that links to blog posts are in fact provided in something called the “Notes”. Admittedly, this is an archaic form of collecting and referencing information that cannot be compared to the vastly superior “link” – we all know how ever-stable and permanent those entities are – and it exists on paper, rather than a computer screen, which makes it suspect right from the start, but hey, they were working within the limitations of their medium.

readers can [not] see PZs response…in a print book where you couldnt defend yourself

You know, back in the olden days, before the internet, when I had to walk uphill in the snow to school both ways, books and articles and letters to the editor were the ways in which people communicated information and ideas and responses. ERV may think it’s her god-given right (ha ha) to have everyone in the world who is ever going to say anything that she might possibly be interested in, say it on a blog so that she can instantaneously leave a bit of arch commentary, but she would be wrong on this point. Books allow one to engage in a more sustained, reflective, integrative, and wider-ranging discussion than is ever going to be possible in a blog post. People who feel strongly about what they read in books are always free to blog about them online – and I believe in this case, PZ has already done so, several times. They can thus incite a vigorous back-and-forth discussion of the book. Hell, I’ve been blogging about a book, The Gender Knot, in several posts and will continue to do so, and we’ve had great discussions about it.

But it is always helpful to have actually read the book first, prior to such commentary.

Online discussions of books are great things; what’s going on at Isis’s blog is wonderful, and Janet has spurred some thoughtful discussion, too. But to refuse to read the book, and then go ahead and plop down a sweeping critical analysis predicated on the basis that the mere act of writing books is itself a crime because people discussed in the book can’t leave comments on it is so preposterous one can hardly believe that it has been made by a literate human being.

Though one does have to wonder what it means to be a literate human being in an age where books are sneeringly disparaged as “dead-tree format”.

Comments

  1. #1 Comrade PhysioProf
    July 15, 2009

    Wait! Wut?

    You’re telling me that ERV was angry at Mooney and Kirsh for writing shit in a book per se rather than on a blog, because it means that no one can “respond” to the book in the book?

  2. #2 becca
    July 15, 2009

    Your inner bibliophile is offended?

    As far as the substance of the argument goes- I suspect ERV is demonstrating how preconceptions regarding intentions color judgment. The bizarre twist that attacking someone in ‘dead tree format’ was somehow especially nefarious did hurt my brain. She seemed to simultaneously be saying booksRsuxorz (and irrelevant) and it’s ZOMG!11WAYtooMEAN to debate someone in a book (because it’s so incredibly more serious than a blog).

  3. #3 Orac
    July 15, 2009

    All I can say is that ERV’s attitude makes me feel very, very old indeed.

    Printing a criticism in a book rather than a blog is unfair because no one can respond to it? Give me a break.

    As I said, I feel really, really old reading ERV’s comments. I think I’ll go get my walker and Geritol now. And read a book. ‘Cause I’m so old.

  4. #4 stickypaws
    July 15, 2009

    ERV’s original blog post was so Jerry Springer, I had to just walk away.
    And if her own post wasn’t hot enough for you, check out some of the hot, hot misogyny that was poured onto Sheril Kirshenbaum in the comments section. Isis made brief reference to whut waz goin’ down in her own post.

    I need to go wash my eyeballs.

  5. #5 Zuska
    July 15, 2009

    Yes, CPP, that about sums up ERV’s argument as I understand it. And yes, Becca, along with being offended by the utter stupidity of such an argument, my inner bibliophile is also offended. Along with the cranky part of me that wonders what the hell our civilization is coming to when arguments like this are proffered by the highly educated among us – not, as one might expect, by those who find anything that east coast elite latte-sipping liberal college-educated intellectuals say to be suspect. I’d more expect an argument like that to come from a Palin-fanatic than from a scientist.

    And yes, Orac, I’m with you – I feel very, very old. Pass the Geritol, please.

  6. #6 Peggy
    July 15, 2009

    I guess I’m a geriatric book-lover too, because I don’t get ERV’s objections. People can – and have – responded to CM & SK’s book at length. I don’t see how having those discussions and arguments appended to the actual book would be an improvement. (And isn’t “dead tree” an outdated term now that you can download books onto your spiffy ebook reader or laptop?)

  7. #7 Mike the Mad Biologist
    July 15, 2009

    However, reviewing books one has not read does lead to some hysterical satire.

  8. #8 LostMarbles
    July 16, 2009

    Oh, stop doing the “you kids, get off my lawn” shtick, I’m (presumably) younger than ERV and I thought that criticism made zero sense.

    stickypaws,

    Yes. I wanted to make a substantive comment on how fucked up and misogynistic they were being, but I really didn’t want see the reaction to that. Rereading that I think I might need brain bleach.

  9. #9 Hope
    July 16, 2009

    Everybody’s talking about Unscientific America….

    One of the things that I hate most about blogs is how many people comment just to listen to the sound of their own voice, as it were. (Fortunately, there are others who have really insightful/useful things to say, so I haven’t entirely given up on this format.) I am astounded at the number of people who have weighed in on this book and apparently think that there’s nothing wrong with starting their comment with “I haven’t read the book….”

    The irony-lover in me can’t help wonder, however, how much better a post about a comment about a book that the commenter never read can be. Or even, my comment to such a post…. ;-)

    I’ll check back for your review, Zuska – if/when I get around to reading the book myself.

  10. #10 Hope
    July 16, 2009

    Just clicked on your link, Mike – LOL!

  11. #11 Scrabcake
    July 16, 2009

    Oh, so THIS is where all the grownups hang out. I was wondering where they all were. Yes, I agree that erv’s choice of language can be rather off-putting and immature, but in her defense, the persona she adapts online may not really reflect who she is. I mainly find her lolspeak laden tirades hilarious in that they represent a collision of high and lowbrow.
    As for the dead tree format being more grave a medium in which to insult someone, I agree completely with erv. For many people, blogs serve as a way to vent. This is accepted by the readership as the nature of the beast. Also, it’s seen that any online attacks are viewed as less serious because of the anonymity, and because everyone online, except for the mature adults in this forum, assumes the personality of a fifteen year old boy with a taste for anarchy.
    When the attacks go into published writing, they become serious. These words are now in the hands of everyone at borders and not just on the screens of nerds who follow online feuds. Grandma now knows who PZ Meyers is, and she thinks he is the supreme archbastard. Those words are tangible. They won’t go away when the cache gets cleared or when the flood of Internet babble washes this squabble into the wayback machine. Mooney and Kirschenbaum have taken a stupid Internet war and made it real. Their opinion of PZ is now in the library of congress and you don’t have to have read their book to think that’s wrong.
    Note that afaik, erv hasn’t criticized any points in their book without having read it. She’s angry because they’ve crossed a boundry of trust by insulting someone erv likes in a permanent “adult” medium.

  12. #12 Barn Owl
    July 16, 2009

    So, dead-tree media are risible and old-fashioned, and, well, dead (or nearly so), yet they are also grave and “adult” permanent formats in which to express opinions? Similarly, blogs are “a way to vent”, in which pseudonymous and not-pseudonymous individuals “assume the personality of a fifteen year old boy with a taste for anarchy”, and I’m then supposed to take the rant-based contents of some blogs seriously? As seriously as, say, a book or peer-reviewed paper (online and/or dead-tree format) that’s the product of original research, or a report on STEM teaching methods that have been tested in the classroom? No, not on my lawn.

    I also think that immature egocentric thinking and psychological projection lead some to overestimate the number of rats’ asses given about blogosphere ego battles, outside this very limited internet bubble.

  13. #13 ERV
    July 16, 2009

    Pro-Tip #1: You can read the portions of ‘Unscientific America’ relevant to Crackergate on Amazon, via its ‘search this book’ feature. That is the only point Ive addressed.

    Pro-Tip #2: Calling any and all criticism of females ‘misogyny’ denigrates all women. If you think making fun of Sherils weird post (“SOMEONE ASKED ME OUT!! EEEEEEEWWWWW!”) is equivalent to ‘hatred of women’, you are more than welcome to debate that point on my blog.

    Pro-Tip #3: Both you and Isis misrepresented, either deliberately or obliviously, my opinions on this matter. She, making it a ‘theist’ thing. You by suggesting I ‘refuse’ to read this book, but Im still ‘critiquing it’ (you know they didnt sent me a copy, right?). But I dont care, because everyone can read the posts for themselves, illustrating beautifully why internet drama shouldnt cross over into meat-world. You misrepresenting me here? Meh. You misrepresenting me in print? Youve crossed a line.

    *tip-of-the-hat* @ Scrabcake

  14. #14 Sheril R. Kirshenbaum
    July 16, 2009

    (you know they didnt sent me a copy, right?)

    UA was mailed to bloggers we personally know and offered to everyone at Scienceblogs. Anyone interested was invited to contact us for a review copy and many did.

  15. #15 MissPrism
    July 16, 2009

    Strewth, ERV. I was all prepared to be on your side here – I’m uneasy with “X Should Shut Up For The Sake Of The Cause” arguments, and I believe that in general everyone, including PZ, should say what they think as clearly as they can.

    But I’m gobsmacked that you’d respond like this. Sheril’s post, as you well know, wasn’t a complaint about being asked out by a particular guy. It was a description of a pattern of incidents in which she was treated as a decorative object or potential fuckee, while the men around her were treated as scientists. This happens to women in science all the time, it hurts our careers, and it angers us.

    Get off your fucking high horse about misrepresentation.

  16. #16 Zuska
    July 16, 2009

    Explain to me, please, exactly how I misrepresented your position, ERV. I quoted IN FULL your entire comment left at Isis’s blog, including this statement: “I havent read Unscientific America.”. Nowhere in my post did I say that you refused to read the book. I just pointed out that you seemed to feel free to be dismissively snarky about it without ever actually having read it – something you yourself admitted. I find this to be not compatible with the responsible behavior of a literate human being, and said so. Now you claim to have read bits of it online, which is better than nothing, but still not adequate for rendering a full review of a book – merely something that enables you to offer out-of-context feebly formed opinions. Which you seem to be more than prepared to do.

    If you can’t be bothered to contact SK or CM to request a review copy so that you can see exactly for yourself just why it is that you have reason to detest the book so, and explain in detail to your readers what a crap-ass job they have done, then fork out the cash and buy a copy and read it. Or call your buddy PZ and ask him to loan you his copy. There are multiple ways to get your hands on a copy of the book. Until you do that, you should either not attempt to review a book you haven’t read, or you should be clear with yourself – and your readers – that you are merely whining and complaining about something of which you have no actual first hand knowledge. If your scientist self is comfortable with that sort of behavior, go right ahead. Just be honest about it. And be honest about your lazy unwillingness to get hold of and read the book you wish so much to disparage. I suppose it would be nice if Sheril showed up at your doorstep with a copy of the book and offered to turn the pages for you as you read so that you didn’t have to exert yourself so, but in the real world where I live, people take responsibility for reading books before they form opinions of them.

  17. #17 jake
    July 16, 2009

    From Zuska’s opening post:
    “But to refuse to read the book, and then go ahead and plop down a sweeping critical analysis…”

    Comment #16
    Zuska: “Nowhere in my post did I say that you refused to read the book.”

    That is the misrepresentation that ERV is speaking about. She has been criticizing certain parts of the book that are already available online. She has not said anything about never wanting to read it, neither has she complained about not receiving one.

  18. #18 Zuska
    July 16, 2009

    Oops, I stand corrected.
    Okay, ERV has not refused to read the book. She just has not requested a review copy, has not purchased the book, has not asked to borrow the book from any of her friends or fellow bloggers who do have review copies, and yet has felt free to criticize it. So she hasn’t refused to read it. She just…hasn’t read it.

  19. #19 Zuska
    July 16, 2009

    And by the way, yes, she has complained about not receiving a copy, such that Sheril left a comment on her blog stating that all ScienceBloggers were sent an email letting them know that if they wanted a review copy they only had to request one. That’s how I got mine.

  20. #20 becca
    July 16, 2009

    Oh Zuska. I so want to be sympathetic here. I’m with you on the loveliness (and importance!) of books.
    I’m with you on condoning mocking Sheril for her contribution to the ongoing discussion of the weird-sexist-milieu that is science.

    But on the rest of it…?

    “Now you claim to have read bits of it online, which is better than nothing, but still not adequate for rendering a full review of a book – merely something that enables you to offer out-of-context feebly formed opinions.”

    “Hopkins told the Boston Globe she had to flee the room because otherwise she would’ve either blacked out or thrown up, proving you can become a full professor of biology at MIT without realizing that men and women are innately different. Can anyone imagine evangelicals acting this way if someone mentioned evolution? Would they flee a room crying if Dr. Koop showed them talking condoms? Only the feminists behave like children with so little reflection”
    Are you really gonna make me read all of “Godless: the Church of Liberalism” to declare Coulter’s position on Hopkins and feminists to be a pack of detestable lies, or can you accept that maybe reading a pertinent section of a book on Amazon might be enough to render me able to attack a particular argument contained within the book? Particularly when I happen to have some background knowledge on the topic at hand?
    Not all criticism of arguments in books is intended, or presented as, anything like a “book review”. I don’t think ERV pretended to be presenting a comprehensive explication of the entire contents of Unscientific America.

    For the record, I think it’s unreasonable for ERV to assume that everyone shares her views (which appear to be “Internets = justforlulz” / “printed book = SeriousBusiness”). But I can still see why the dead tree format of the attack might seem especially egregious.

  21. #21 Richard C. Mongler
    July 16, 2009

    Hey Zuska. This is an interesting discussion but I’d much rather be discussing another issue: is it technically rape if you yell “surprise”? I’d appreciate it if you’d create a thread on this as I’d appreciate your insight.

  22. #22 Isis the Scientist
    July 16, 2009

    Zuska, I’m not that old. I have a copy of the book and intend to read it.

  23. #23 windy
    July 16, 2009

    What scrabcake said.

    Also, does it strike anyone else as unfortunate that Zuska choose that particular thread to pop in and accuse ERV of being “Somebody who can’t be bothered to read a book, yet feels perfectly within her rights to pass judgment on said book”?

    ERV’s post was about Charles Pierce. Pierce wrote a snarky comment on Intersection, saying that Mooney&Kirshenbaum had misapprehended what his book Idiot America is about.

    They had not read the book.

    Charging to the defense of M&K on this particular horse… I’m not sure if ironic is the right word, it’s even better than that.

  24. #24 likechemicals
    July 17, 2009

    Another seconding for what Scrabcake said.

    The medium is the message. Jumping mediums is a way to expand the audience and gain leverage. It’s like watching the MSM report on Iran unfolding through Twitter, vs just being on Twitter yourself. The MSM has a certain filter through which it’s been cherry-picking Twitter, for better or worse, to be represented to a larger audience that’s less interested in the details behind the scenes. Similarly, Mooney/Kirshenbaum have jumped a heated, complex blog debate into print media, in a book that’s getting widespread coverage, and it enables them to present a certain filtered view as well. I don’t think the blog vs book aspect of this situation is as irrelevant as some people want to make it. The book has immediately both expanded the audience as well as rehashed the original argument, and caused real-time discussions for which people mentioned in the book, such as PZ, are not currently on equal footing to respond to.

    Also? This all just feels like drama drama-lama and not in a good way. That goes for a variety of parties involved.

  25. #25 Fallsroad
    July 17, 2009

    Zuska,

    in the real world where I live, people take responsibility for reading books before they form opinions of them.

    You might find it interesting to discover that, after complaining quite loudly about those commenting on Unscientific America without first reading it, Chris Mooney did exactly the same thing, forming a conclusion about a book he readily admitted he had not read. He apparently did so to make some kind of point, or to sell more books. Hard to tell, really.

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/intersection/2009/05/29/its-super-fun-to-call-your-intellectual-adversaries-idiots-its-also-super-pointless/

  26. #26 Paul
    July 17, 2009

    This place is fun! I castigate people I don’t like by misrepresenting them, while ignoring the same flaws in the people I’m defending! It’s fun not having to confront my biases, even though I call out other people to confront theirs.

  27. #27 Zuska
    July 17, 2009

    Apparently it is necessary, for some of my readers, for me to make it as explicit as possible that what I object to is purporting to review/condemn a book that one has not read. If Chris Mooney has done the same thing, shame on him. In condemning ERV for having done so, I was not mounting a full frontal defense of Chris Mooney. I was criticizing the action of bashing a book one has not taken the time to read, even in a desultory manner.

    And Becca, even in the case of Ann Coulter, you can read a snippet of her book online and proclaim “she’s insane!” but you can’t pretend that that’s anything like actually doing a book review. Even wingnuts like Ann Coulter need to be read and dissected so that the public can have a better understanding of just exactly what the hell they are up to. If ERV thinks that Mooney and Kirshenbaum are doing a character assassination on PZ Myers, then what she ought to do is (1) read the book, (2) dissect where and how they’ve gone wrong and what they’ve misrepresented, and (3) blog about that so her readership can see just exactly how M&K have screwed up.

    But to say “I haven’t read the book” and then talk about how awful it is…that’s not right. To read a portion of it that was preselected to confirm one’s suspicion that the author’s have screwed up also does not suffice for an actual book review, although, as I said, it’s better than nothing.

    I would also like to reiterate here what I said in a comment over at Isis’s: a fair number of people seem to be leaving comments under the impression that the book is Chris Mooney’s book. Last I checked, there were two authors on the book cover. It’s very irritating to see Sheril Kirshenbaum disappeared as an author of the book (and the blog) except for when she’s called in to receive a wave of disparaging misogynistic comments.

  28. #28 Jennifer B. Phillips (aka Danio)
    July 17, 2009

    Please indicate exactly where ERV purported to be posting a “review” of UA, rather than just smacking down Mooney (not because I’m ignoring Sheril’s contribution to the book but because Abbie’s primary beef is with Chris and not Sheril) and commenting (however scathingly, insultingly, or immaturely you might deem these comments) on one specific part of the book, the text of which IS available on line and which she stated that she had read.

  29. #29 Luna_the_cat
    July 17, 2009

    Personally, I have to say that the Mooney&Kirshenbaum vs. PZ&friends snarkfest is about as amusing as it is disturbing, and something I have no desire to participate in whatsoever.

    But ERV’s misrepresentation of Kirshenbaum’s experience of pervasive sexism as just “ew someone asked me out”, and her subsequent I’ll-make-sexist-cracks-too bs — now *that* just disgusts and disturbs me.

    WTF, ERV?

    …And all the other idiots out there “I don’t see why it’s so bad, why can’t you just have a sense of humor about it” …how many millions of times do you have to be told, it ain’t exactly so funny when you have to live it?

    Seriously. Assholes.

  30. #30 Fallsroad
    July 17, 2009

    I mentioned only Mooney’s name for two reasons:

    1. He has been the primary defender of the book on their shared blog, so I didn’t presume at first that his posts spoke for the both of them.

    2. He was apparently the author of the post to which I linked, concerning Idiot America. If they post together under interchangeable names, then I admit my mistake in leaving out Sheril’s name.

    They are both equally responsible for the contents of their book as co-authors. I wasn’t aware if that applied to posts on the shared blog.

  31. #31 becca
    July 17, 2009

    Zuska- as a book review, I’ll grant ERV’s post was craptacular. But I didn’t take it as a book review, and I’m not sure most people did.

    While I agree someone needs to dissect the wingnuts, I would like to personally opt out of dissecting Coulter. I don’t think that I’m just being a foolish young person who is jumping to conclusions for thinking she is nutso on the topic of Hopkins and feminism. I’m not saying Coulter’s entire book is awful (though I don’t think I’d care for it), but what I did say is perfectly justified from the snippet.
    In any event, it doesn’t seem to me that ERV’s actually condemning the book; she’s condemning Mooney. Which seems to be based on more than the parts of the book discussing PZ; there’s a long history of stuff I don’t claim to know (or care) much about. Technically, ERV did not purport to review/condemn a book she did not read. She condemned an author based on a quote (and some history). Which may or may not be any better.
    There’s a lot of issues I take with ERV here, but not reading the book isn’t one of them. Meh.

  32. #32 DrugMonkey
    July 17, 2009

    but not reading the book isn’t one of them. Meh.

    ahh, but becca unless I am much mistaken the charge from ERV is that what Mooney and Kirshenbaum wrote in the book was an action that “stabbed PZ in the back”. Yes? So therefore what Mooney and Kirshenbaum actually wrote about PZ is of the utmost relevance. As is whether or not ERV’s criticisms are credibly related to what they are purportedly about (the book) as opposed to something else (history?). I have read the apparently offending bits and am left looking for the beef behind ERV’s beef. It was really quite a tepid description of M&K’s problems with PZ’s actions and positions.

  33. #33 becca
    July 17, 2009

    I’m not arguing whether ERV is right or wrong; I’m pointing out (and in fact, demonstrated empirically) that one can use the Amazon search feature to develop an reasonable opinion on a particular argument made in a book.

    One can support the methodology without supporting the conclusion drawn from the data.

    Here’s a lovely analogy (purely hypothetical):
    Random grad student: “we developed a lie detector test using fMRI and found out women lie more than men!”
    Zuska: “fMRI is a lazy and stupid way to investigate this problem, you can’t tell if someone’s lying from that!”
    Me: “Well, I can clearly train the machine to recognize when *I’m* lying; so technically you *can* tell if someone’s lying from it. That said, random grad student’s data indicate only that women’s brains use more glucose when they do lie, not that they lie more than men”.
    Zuska: “If you’re going to purport to describe all the differences between men and women, you’re going to need a lot more than an fMRI!”
    Me: “That’s a valid point. But who here was purporting to do that???”

  34. #34 Damian
    July 17, 2009

    For those that don’t know, the problem with the attack on PZ, and in particular, Chris and Sheril’s denunciation of what has now come to be known as “Crackergate”, is that it’s not an entirely accurate description of the events, particularly as it leaves out large parts of the original context. Given that PZ has already received tens, if not hundreds, of death threats about that incident, you’d think that any half-decent person would be cognizant of the dangers of misrepresenting what happened, either by not accurately reporting it, or by leaving out the reasons for doing what he did. Obviously not. As long as they get to sell books, who cares if someone else gets more death threats, hey?

    And if that wasn’t enough, M&K mentioned it again in the Newsweek article, with absolutely no context, whatsoever. You’d almost think that they were attempting to be malicious. Well, I would, but maybe that’s me. And to be honest, the chapter about PZ makes that intention quite clear. They don’t like him, which is fine, but what exactly has it got to do with scientific literacy? Oh, that’s right, PZ will scare people away from science education, only they forgot to include any evidence for that particular assertion in the book. And why even mention one, albeit very popular, blogger, as well as a bunch of people who took up (their) arms, strapped a thesaurus to their chest, and went on a crusade to rid the world of religion by — oh the horror! — writing books!? Damn those militant, fundamentalist atheists!

    It’s always puzzled me how anyone can find a success story to be worthy of contempt. Sure, you may not agree with PZ’s views, but you cannot deny that his blog has been a major success. And the ironic thing is that, despite his obvious dislike of religion, PZ is one of the best science communicators that I have ever come across. Others may, of course, disagree, but the point is that his science posts are really rather good (and, contrary to popular opinion, they are as frequent as on most blogs). So, he’s a success, and his science posts are helping to educate hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people. It’s terrible, I know! That Pharyngula doesn’t perform a rendition of Kumbaya every time a religious believer arrives is certainly a concern, but what I’d really like to know is, if PZ is scaring away all of the religious believers, when are those who denounce him for that, as yet unevidenced assertion, going to start to attract those people to their blogs to teach them some respectful science?

    Or in other, less snarky words, rather than denounce a success story, why aren’t those people attempting to replicate that success by attracting those who don’t care for PZ’s other activities? Is that not what a free society and a market place of ideas is all about? Maybe I’m missing something? Or maybe, no matter how deferential you are, some people really aren’t all that interested in science. Crazy idea, I know — almost as crazy as blaming one science blogger for America’s science literacy problem (yes, I realize that I’m overdoing it here, but it’s unlikely that it will incite any death threats, at least).

  35. #35 windy
    July 18, 2009

    Apparently it is necessary, for some of my readers, for me to make it as explicit as possible that what I object to is purporting to review/condemn a book that one has not read. If Chris Mooney has done the same thing, shame on him.

    “If”? Did you read the post you were commenting on? Or click on the links? I’m told they function somewhat like “Notes” in books, and when used appropriately may help a commenter come off as less of a clueless hypocrite.

  36. #36 Jennifer B. Phillips (aka Danio)
    July 18, 2009

    @windy:
    I’m beginning to think Zuska may have jumped into the fray here without stopping to do much ‘fact checking’. She heard the clarion call of “Misogyny!” and went off
    half-coc…um…incompletely informed. The levels of irony herein are starting to look like an Escher drawing.

  37. #37 Isis the Scientist
    July 18, 2009

    Because marginalizing the event Sheril descibed, renaming her, and mocking the fact that many women in science experience overt sexism isn’t something to speak about?

    Oh Jennifer, Jennifer, Jennifer….

    I hope that ERV is able to continue her career in such a state of ignorant bliss….

  38. #38 biopunk
    July 18, 2009

    Um Isis, Sheril pretty much marginalized herself on her own.

    I doubt very much if it wasn’t for you twisting your perceived “misogyny” into ERV’s posts, or Zuska’s disturbing belief that one shouldn’t express an opinion on a book without having read it in its entirety, (and doubly so for actually calling the authours on their bs…), that the majority of comments on this thread would be none-existent.

    You seem to becoming increasingly “unreal” in regards to the substance of your posts.

    Maybe you need to take a break?

    I’m being completely sincere in that.

  39. #39 Zuska
    July 18, 2009

    When I wrote this post, I was writing based on ERV’s own words that she had not read the book, yet she was commenting on it anyway. Which, in my universe, is not sensible. You know, one usually collects data before rendering an interpretation of it and all that. ERV also stated that she had not been offered a review copy, which was not true – all ScienceBloggers were offered one. It required the staggering effort of replying to an email to actually get one.

    Subsequent to my posting this entry, ERV claimed she read selected portions of the book online. To which I said, good, that’s better than nothing, but still not, in my opinion, sufficient for her to evaluate what M&K were trying to do. Having read the book myself, I have some reason to have this opinion. Others are free, however, to disagree as to whether or not it’s sufficient, and that’s fine.

    Regarding Windy @35: I’m sure this will be a totally shocking revelation, but I don’t click on every single link in every single post on the entire blogosphere. Thus, it was reasonable for me to say “if” – meaning, okay, if this is what happened, then yeah, that’s just as bad. I fail to see what’s wrong with that. It’s not like I said “oh noes! this just can’t be true!” It’s like….hmmm….hey, it’s like I was AGREEING! omg.

    And as for Jennifer B. Phillips or anyone else who thinks that ERV mocking Sheril’s experience with sexual harassment is no big deal – get offa my blog and go play somewhere else. I’m not up for a round of Apologist for the Oppressor; that seems to be more ERV’s game.

  40. #40 windy
    July 18, 2009

    Because marginalizing the event Sheril descibed, renaming her, and mocking the fact that many women in science experience overt sexism isn’t something to speak about?

    And the best way for Zuska to speak about it is to write a post about how ERV hates books and reviews them without reading them?

    Dustin’s joke was bad, mmmkay, but characterising that and making up juvenile names for both Chris and Sheril as pouring ‘hot, hot misogyny’ as Zuska did above is ridiculous.

  41. #41 windy
    July 18, 2009

    Regarding Windy @35: I’m sure this will be a totally shocking revelation, but I don’t click on every single link in every single post on the entire blogosphere.

    So you don’t bother to click on links in a short blog post, yet you think that people are going to look at those un-noted notes in the back of UA to get PZ’s side of the story?

    And, granted that ERV’s Idiot America post was written after this post, what do you think she meant by this?
    *skips off to Amazon*
    Did that prompt any consideration that you might have created a huge strawman with this ERV-disparages-books thing? Or is it all about what you THINK you know?

    Thus, it was reasonable for me to say “if” – meaning, okay, if this is what happened, then yeah, that’s just as bad. I fail to see what’s wrong with that.

    I’m just pointing out that posting your screed about the importance of reading books under that particular post was unintentionally hilarious. Nothing wrong with that if you don’t mind making yourself look silly. Carry on!

  42. #42 Zuska
    July 19, 2009

    Um, did you even read my post? With the lengthy quote from ERV, wherein she says “I didn’t read the book”, which was what inspired the whole damn post? No? Didn’t think so.

  43. #43 Lee Harrison
    July 19, 2009

    Um, did you even read my post? With the lengthy quote from ERV, wherein she says “I didn’t read the book”, which was what inspired the whole damn post? No? Didn’t think so.

    Yes, you said that. Unfortunately, you claim to be upset about her not reading the book because she was presuming to review it. It has been pointed out several times now that Abbie was not reviewing the book – she was writing about one small part of it. A part that she had, in fact, read.

    This has been pointed out and subsequently ignored or distorted by you. Why? Isn’t it a rather important point? Doesn’t it just completely screw over the narrative you’ve been developi… ahhh, now I get it. Sorry, carry on.

  44. #44 Jennifer B. Phillips (aka Danio)
    July 19, 2009

    Isis @(36)

    Oh Jennifer, Jennifer, Jennifer….
    I hope that ERV is able to continue her career in such a state of ignorant bliss

    Meaning you hope she doesn’t encounter any “real” (or, if you prefer, “undeniable”) misogyny from her male colleagues? I certainly wish that for her as well, but the point I’ve been trying to make is that even something like that *were* to happen to her, it’s not a given that her views on what constitutes ‘misogyny’ would align more with yours as a result.

    @ Zuska:

    And as for Jennifer B. Phillips or anyone else who thinks that ERV mocking Sheril’s experience with sexual harassment is no big deal – get offa my blog and go play somewhere else.

    Indeed, the take-home message from this entire affair seems to be that dissenting opinions are a real pain in the ass. However, I respect your house rules, Zuska, and I won’t comment again.
    Best regards,
    jbp

  45. #45 Luna_the_cat
    July 19, 2009

    windy @40:

    Perhaps, if you were to exercise your own reading skills, you might notice that Zuska did not bring up the issue of the response to Sheril’s encounter with sexism at all in this post. stickypaws did, in comment #4, and ERV brought it up again explicitly in comment #13. Those of us getting pissed off on that issue have been responding very directly to ERV’s own words, ERV’s own comment.

    Zuska didn’t call her out on sexism in the post about reviewing something without having read that. That was one subject. The sexism issue is something that other commenters, ERV included, brought here; are you suggesting that Zuska psychically influenced that or something?

    Please keep track of what is introduced where, it aids in understanding, yes?

  46. #46 Luna_the_cat
    July 19, 2009

    Jennifer aka Danio, the take-home message from this ought to be that people who blow off the systematic prejudice that others have face as “no big deal” are not welcome. That isn’t about “dissenting opinions are a pain in the ass”, that is about perpetuating the craptastic myth that prejudice isn’t a big deal — which genuinely hurts people.

  47. #47 windy
    July 20, 2009

    Zuska did not bring up the issue of the response to Sheril’s encounter with sexism at all in this post. stickypaws did

    You’re right, I’m sorry. (It’s annoying when a comment by someone else gets attributed to the blog owner isn’t it?) Zuska’s words were “a wave of disparaging misogynistic comments”, and I think that’s also a misrepresentation. But, if she doesn’t want more of this discussion here, whatevs.

  48. #48 Luna_the_cat
    July 20, 2009

    windy, I’ve put another comment on this at http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2009/07/yesterday_morning_i_sent_abbie.php#comment-1788058 .

    There WAS a wave of disparaging misogynistic comments, unless you genuinely somehow think that the comments about non-straight women being entitled to “their [mouthbreating] dose of self-righteous indignation” and “feministas” and only reading Kirshenbaum because of how she looked, and “Are you sure this isn’t simply a case of girl jealousy?” were not, in fact, misogynistic and disparaging. In which case I can simply say that we do not all share your cheerfully benign perception of statements like that.

  49. #49 Dina Karl
    September 8, 2009

    As for the dead tree format being more grave a medium in which to insult someone, I agree completely with erv. For many people, blogs serve as a way to vent. This is accepted by the readership as the nature of the beast. Also, it’s seen that any online attacks are viewed as less serious because of the anonymity, and because everyone online, except for the mature adults in this forum, assumes the personality of a fifteen year old boy with a taste for anarchy.

The site is currently under maintenance and will be back shortly. New comments have been disabled during this time, please check back soon.