White Coat Underground

Everyone else on the internet is wrong

I’m crabby. Normally I’m a pretty easy-going dude, but right now I’m crabby and some of the stuff I’m reading on the internet lately is so stultifyingly stupid, I just can’t contain myself any longer.

It’s not unexpected for Dr. Communication-is-My-Field to belie his title with every word he writes, but last week’s post of his is truly a new level of dumbassery. Nisbet, who revels in telling the rest of the world how poorly they communicate, lobbed a shit-bomb into the blogosphere when he declared:

Much of the incivility online can be attributed to anonymity. And with a rare few exceptions, if you can’t participate in a dialogue about issues without using your full name and true identity, then what you have to say is probably not that valuable.

I’ve written quite a bit about anonymity and pseudonymity in the past, but if you can’t think on your own of at least five reasons his statement is idiotic, you probably have a PhD in communication (and “he forgot to show data” doesn’t count, because it’s too easy, and his response is, “just google it.”).

Anyway, Chad Orzel at least isn’t a “communication expert’—but he still doesn’t seem to get all this “blog” stuff. Today he announced on his blog that he’s giving up blogs for Lent; not his own–he’ll probably put up another piece about his book at least forty times—but he’s giving up reading blogs.

I’m not down on blogs as a communications medium– I still think they’re a great way to present information to a very broad (potential) audience. Rather, I’m coming to doubt the idea of blogs as a conversation medium.

Really? So basically, you’re against everything that makes a blog bloggy rather than book-y. Seriously, it’s the fucking blogosphere. Lemme help you, in case Nisbet doesn’t get a chance: books and magazines (“traditional media”) allow a writer and an editor to present a story without any fear of ongoing, real-time feedback. Blogs allow “the world” to write whatever the fuck they want, even if the original author doesn’t understand why. Sometimes, a thoughtful author might actually learn from. As Chad sees it:

I’m finding this more and more irritating as time goes by. I find myself walking around wanting to punch something, all because people on the Internet are pissing me off. And, you know, this isn’t good.

“Isn’t good”? Of course it’s good. If no one challenges your basic assumptions, what’s the fucking point?

Whatevs…I’m still gonna read his blog whenever it’s not an add for the book, and I’ll probably read his book too (but I definitely won’t comment on it because it might be uncivil).

Finally, I love love Sharon Astyk over at Casaubon’s Book—I really do, but I don’t really get it, on a fundamental level. I love her IRL experiment in (illusory) sustainable living, but her type of sustainable living seems really anti-social to me. It’s about surviving some sort of society-disrupting disaster alone. Today’s post is about getting your family on board with creating your absolutely necessary food reserve, and the day before was about how to get your family to eat all the rotten food you preserved. It’s all very interesting, but hardly seems relevant in the real world where when The End comes, some white supremecist militia is just gonna kill you for your pickled kale before they resort to eating each other.

Finally, I’d like to point out that Lucky Charms and California Zinfandels make a surprisingly good pairing.

That is all.

Comments

  1. #1 Regular Reader
    February 15, 2010

    I’m right there with you on the crabbiness. My excuse is being stuck at home with pneumonia, and no attention span for reading anything longer than a blog post.

    When I saw that ASININE comment about anonymous postings, I nearly blew a gasket. I work in a conservative (non-science)industry in a conservative southern city and if the folks in it knew that I’m a liberal, an atheist, and think prayer is worthless for healing the body, I’d never get a job again.

    Thanks for letting me vent.

  2. #2 Isis the Scientist
    February 15, 2010

    I now *heart* you even more.

  3. #3 Dr. Free-Ride
    February 15, 2010

    Lucky Charms? For goodness sake, Pal, don’t they have cheese in Michigan?

    And yeah, come the zombie apocalypse, I’m hoping we’ll finally really spend time with our (non-brain-munching) neighbors) and figure out how to make a go of reconstructing society together. Which is not to say that we won’t be bringing some homemade jam and lemon curd to share with them.

  4. #4 Abel Pharmboy
    February 15, 2010

    Hey Regular Reader, I have pneumonia, too! Do you think we caught it here?

    You’re spot on Pal – some days you just have to say what’s on your mind. I feel relieved just reading your post.

    Thanks for being angry for me. I needed a break.

  5. #5 Perky Skeptic
    February 15, 2010

    Anonymity, the opportunity for arguments and ideas to stand or fall on their own merits rather than on who said them, is what the internet is all about. I am stunned, though not surprised, that Nisbet doesn’t get this.

    …And now I’m jonesing for some pickled kale.

  6. #6 Uncle Glenny
    February 16, 2010

    Sigh. Agreed on all counts.

    I have my pseudonymity, which is in widespread enough use across blogs that a couple times (I think here) I’ve posted even more anonymously due to sensitive subject matter. (Which ironically I won’t describe because I’m only psuedonymous now.) But my email address, presumably accessible to the blog owner, is my own, and not even a throwaway one.

    I only rarely read any of those blogs you mention. Sharon’s seems like some sort of bizarro proof-of-doability like biosphere. I’d be curious as to how it really scales up, you know, when there’s actual population.

    Unfortunately I really need to go to bed now.

    I suggest something like a flourless chocolate cake and chateauneuf-du-pape.

  7. #7 Tex
    February 16, 2010

    Finally, I’d like to point out that Lucky Charms and California Zinfandels make a surprisingly good pairing.

    Please tell me you are eating the Lucky Charms dry, like popcorn. ‘Cause if you are eating them with milk while drinking your Zin, then your statement may be the wrongest thing anybody has ever said on the internet.

  8. #8 Bob
    February 16, 2010

    Criminy, that Nisbet character sure is a cinder block with a microphone. Perhaps the poor clod could review the history of the Federalist Papers before smack-talking anonymity/pseudonymity. It’s not like he’s saying anything new or insightful.

    Should posts or comments have a pedigree of insight & wit, I could care less if I know the author’s true name, rank, & serial number.

  9. #9 Chris
    February 16, 2010

    I love it when you are cranky. Keep it up. The weight of the argument should be the evidence you bring to the discussion, not whether you can be identified. Not that knowing what my last name is will help you much. Even with my first full first name I am only one out of several tens of thousands with my very common name.

    I just finished a some bread with lovely stinky moldy soft cheese (I think it is Camembert, the label is gone) with some Cassis mixed with lemon juice, ice and water (the stuff is very sweet, it needs lemon juice… plus we are out of white wine).

  10. #10 Donna B.
    February 16, 2010

    I was right there with you until the Lucky Charms and Zinfandel. How uncivilized! Everyone knows Lucky Charms is served with a nice chardonnay.

  11. #11 Anonymous
    February 16, 2010

    I am Anonymous and I say Screw You All! (I can say that, can’t I? Oh, where have my manners gone?)

  12. #12 Glendon Mellow
    February 16, 2010

    Blogs not a conversation medium? How…awkward. I suppose they’re not when the blogger ignores replying or there’s not enough interplay amongst the commenters themselves, or no one ever posts a follow-up on their own blog or stops eating Lucky Charms.

    Remember the excitement during Saturday morning cartoons when they first introduced the purple horseshoe? Good times.

  13. #13 Dunc
    February 16, 2010

    Finally, I love love Sharon Astyk over at Casaubon’s Book—I really do, but I don’t really get it, on a fundamental level. I love her IRL experiment in (illusory) sustainable living, but her type of sustainable living seems really anti-social to me. It’s about surviving some sort of society-disrupting disaster alone.

    Did you miss all her posts on community building or something? I’m sure Sharon can speak up for herself, but I really don’t agree with your assessment there. If anything, she’s talking about the exact opposite.

  14. #14 DrZZ
    February 16, 2010

    I think we should be more sympathetic to the burden these guys bear in being so superior to to the rest of us. Here they are selflessly taking their time to patiently explain how everyone else is doing it wrong and not a work of thanks! Just the rabble deluded into thinking that they have something useful to contribute.

  15. #15 Greg Laden
    February 16, 2010

    I basically agree with you BUT it has become customary to fetishize (if I may use that term) the value of in your face anonymous communication on the blogosphere to the extent that improving its quality and the ability to do what it seems people want it to do is actively excluded from the conversation. If the value of the argument is its ability to stand on its own merits, regardless of who makes the argument, then why do we see so little of that process when it comes down to the actual conversation? How could it be that there are so many arguments going on with conflicting perspectives and almost never does anyone shift their argument or change their mind? Is it really true that all things one might think up and babble about are truths that must not be questioned?

    The value of the “conversation” is to question dogma. But really, what often happens is the generation of new dogmas.

    In truth, the situation is more complex than we often seem to acknoweldge.

  16. #16 Colin
    February 16, 2010

    “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” — Oscar Wilde

  17. #17 zed
    February 16, 2010

    My pseudonym is so ingrained into who I am that people that I know IRL and don’t communicate on the Interwebtubes would know who you were talking about if you asked them if they knew a Zed….LOL

    as for Zin’s, if you can find it get a bottle (or 6) of 7 Deadly Zins from the Livermore area of California.

  18. #18 zed
    February 16, 2010

    sorry, Lodi, not Livermore…;.) damn L cities!

  19. #19 jake
    February 16, 2010

    Now see here, your comments on Chad’s site are completely uncalled for. Everyone knows that blog reading was one of the last temptations of Christ. Do you know how hard it was for that poor guy to stay away from Wonkette and Fleshbot for 40 days (fortunately, 4chan didn’t count… it was the only thing that got him through it all)?

  20. #20 SC (Salty Current)
    February 16, 2010

    I get your crabbiness. On the bright side, there were Bora Z.’s (real-name) comments on that thread. Those made it for me. Despite that, it was terribly annoying – he acknowledges that he rarely reads other blogs here, but appararently couldn’t even take a minute to search on Sb to see if the question of pseudonymity had been discussed in the past. When those discussions were linked to, he ignored it. Then, when people raised some of the issues that had been engaged at length by bloggers and commenters in the previous discussion, he responded as though those points (which, really, anyone not a complete dope would consider if they gave the matter a moment’s thought) were completely novel.

    Also very amusing is that his post occurred in a local context in which there is very present an example – oh, look, he’s here! – of how blogging conspicuously under one’s own name doesn’t prevent someone from engaging in vicious smears, threats, and ethical violations. There’s a data point for ya, Nisbet.

  21. #21 Mu
    February 16, 2010

    My three year old, my great dane and I are working our way through Chad’s book for bed time story. The only one to get it seems to be the dog, so at least the title is right. As for cereal, only whole wheat cheerios with red; honey smacks with a dry white.

  22. #22 Denise
    February 16, 2010

    I think people who get off on screaming about how dishonorable it is to comment anonymously have SUPREME egos. I post with my real name, and I am linked to a blog that links to my business number—BUT WHO CARES?? The internet is HUGE. The world is even bigger. Everyone is pretty much anonymous.

    Or not. I only had to read this blog a few days to figure out who PalMD “really” is.

    Over at a decorating blog I read, Decorno, a comment started a follow-up post. Some people spend more time bitching about how the comment was placed anonymously than about the actual topic at hand. Why do I need to know the name of the commentor? How much does knowing this really add to the conversation? IMHO, it just allows others to be specific in their name calling. Like, “You’re an ass, BOB” as opposed to, “You’re an ass.”

  23. #23 david
    February 16, 2010

    Ha~! (I like it.)

  24. #24 SC (Salty Current)
    February 16, 2010

    I’m finding this more and more irritating as time goes by. I find myself walking around wanting to punch something, all because people on the Internet are pissing me off. And, you know, this isn’t good.

    So, in keeping with my Catholic upbringing, I’m giving up reading blogs for Lent. Life’s too short to keep letting the same people piss me off in the same ways over and over.

    Evidently Snorzel’s Catholic upbringing didn’t teach him that during Lent you’re supposed to abstain from things you enjoy. It’s supposed to be an exercise in self-denial. What a twit.

  25. #25 Denice Walter
    February 16, 2010

    A few observations:1.I try to write as I speak;I use 2 of my 4 names(I’m semi-nynmous).I know some dudes who battle HIV/AIDS denialism who have had *real-life* consequences for their views (interference, threats)- I don’t need the drama or even the *possiblity* of lawsuits by charlatans.I have assets and a real life.2.Yes, blogs allow a conversation of sorts, however, many of those with which we’re concerned,censor heavily and funnel the “conversation” toward a pre-determined end.3.Re “Survivalism”:a.a few of our favorite woo-meisters bank on the public’s fears and create products,advocate storage, and sell filters, that are Apocalypse-driven.b.Interestingly,I read Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” recently-while I enjoyed his descriptive writing and how the main character solves his seemingly insurmontable problems- something about it just *doesn’t ring true*.4.For some unfathomable reason, I just don’t “get” the zins- they’re nice and all,but…I like California chardonnays,cabernets,pinot noirs.And,yes,I would break the “breakfast foods/white//candy bars/reds” rule.*Chacun a son gout*

  26. #26 k8
    February 16, 2010

    I find this whole discussion amusing. It appears that the people who are bothered by anonymity are the ones that are being called out on their bullshit egos and don’t understand why no one is bowing down to their greatness. And wah wah wah, they don’t like it. I follow this with great interest.

    And if you’re looking for a good cereal/liquor pairing, you haven’t experienced coco puffs and bailey’s. Just like cereal and milk. Only you get drunk.

  27. #27 Dacks
    February 16, 2010

    Score 1 for crankiness! But you only get away with it because you are usually pretty lovable.

    IMHO, it’s not the anonymity that’s the problem, it’s the rudeness. And one rant invariably begets another. In my internet travels I’ve found that when I press the “Post” button before reviewing my comments for snarkiness, I usually get a nasty comment right back at me. The advantage of self-censoring my irritability is that I can continue the conversation without danger of potshots.

  28. #28 Sharon Astyk
    February 16, 2010

    I’m loved! You love me, you really love me ;-).

    I think the problem is that you hear “food storage” and think “zombies and white supremacists.” (this may be my fault because I routinely use “zombies” as my joking version of “when you need this stuff” – my regular readers know that I’m joking, but not everyone does).

    But the most likely scenarios are not “Mad Max” but “people get poor” – and this happens all the time, without the people taking other people’s pickled kale (have you got a recipe?). The real problems are that people run out of money and go hungry, or they have natural disasters come and they don’t have any food and it takes a while for FEMA to get there. Or their unemployed sister and her three kids come move in with them and one nursing home salary plus a few part time hours as a Walmart cashier won’t keep everyone in soup.

    Sharon

  29. #29 Silver Fox
    February 16, 2010

    Agreed. 100% – although I prefer DonnaB’s idea of chardonnay with Lucky Charms instead of a Zin. And Zed, plz don’t get lost in Lodi!

    How could it be that there are so many arguments going on with conflicting perspectives and almost never does anyone shift their argument or change their mind? Is it really true that all things one might think up and babble about are truths that must not be questioned?

    Maybe the changing of minds occurs in those of us who usually don’t comment.

    The value of the “conversation” is to question dogma.

    That’s one value or purpose of conversation. For some, maybe the connecting is the primary thing.

  30. #30 Uncle Glenny
    February 16, 2010

    So, in keeping with my Catholic upbringing, I’m giving up reading blogs for Lent.

    In my earlier haste I forgot to comment on this – It’s Mardi gras! I nearly missed it.

    Oh well.

  31. #31 PalMD
    February 16, 2010

    Sharon! Thanks for coming by. Unfortunately, I’m more of a refrigerator pickle person, but i’ll eat almost anything pickled.

    I guess from my (biased) perspective, I’m concerned that we do not focus enough on the things that would lead us to needing our root cellar. I know from reading you that you certainly aren’t one to say, “Katrina? Fuck ‘em if they didn’t prepare themselves” but many people out there do think that way.

  32. #32 momkat
    February 16, 2010

    I would argue that anonymity on a blog could be a constructive channel for the antisocial and abusive aspects of one’s character, thereby allowing her to be integrated more successfully within her social surroundings. Nobody really likes crabby people in real life. My made-up anonymous persona on a blog certainly allows me to vent in a safe environment, making me a much better person to be around. And the graham crackers and sauv blanc that I enjoy while doing it is an added bonus.

  33. #33 Sharon Astyk
    February 16, 2010

    I’m not sure what you mean by “we don’t focus enough on the things that would lead us to needing our root cellar.” Is we “me” here or you too ;-)? Seriously, I’m willing to spend more time on something a colleague thinks is missing, but I’m not quite sure what you mean.

    I think I spend a lot of time talking about why people might need their root cellars – and a lot of time (although I haven’t posted any of it since I’ve been over here, I probably should) on how really poor people can begin to prepare. Or was there supposed to be a “not” in there – I get that impression from your subsequent sentence about Katrina, but I don’t want to assume that. Can you clarify?

    BTW, I do appreciate the plug.

    Sharon

  34. #34 PalMD
    February 16, 2010

    I meant that as individuals and as a society (and I certainly include myself) that we don’t do enough to avoid needing a root cellar.

  35. #35 Vicki
    February 16, 2010

    I note that an acquaintance of mine posted recently that she needs to walk away from the Internet for a while, because she doesn’t like the shape of her life online. More people, but fewer connections with each of them, is a big piece of it. With that in mind, I can understand “I should stop reading X, it makes me cranky.” There are things that usefully challenge my view of things, and there are things that push the “Someone is wrong on the Internet!” button and can just make me angry. For example, the discussion of pain meds and narcotics contracts. For me, this is useful and interesting. I can easily think of people for whom it would be stressful and not useful: they don’t need another reminder that lots of people assume they are drug addicts, and start filling in stereotypes of what that means. I don’t go to the parts of the Internet where I will be told, loudly, that I am a threat to the moral fiber of America, doomed to burn in hell, and not deserving of the most basic civil rights.

  36. #36 Sharon Astyk
    February 16, 2010

    Ok, now I understand you. I think you are absolutely right, although I’d tend to suggest that a root cellar isn’t something we should try and avoid, actually – natural cool storage of food is one of those things that can actually reduce energy consumption (ie, also reduce the danger of a climate-change induced collapse), reduce costs (ie, reduce the danger of a personal, budgetary collapse), and also get you a lot of good food – of course, you do sometimes eat less than desirable (not rotten) food – but then again, how many of us don’t, even if we don’t have root cellars? How often do we eat bad food – fast food, microwaved burritos, less than tasty leftovers, cafeteria food that tastes like crap for the same reasons I’m eating my acorn squash – because it is there and we’re hungry. IMHO, my acorn squash is a lot less repulsive than a microwaved burrito ;-).

    But I do take your larger point, that we should be trying to avoid getting to the point of a major crisis – but I’m not sure I can think of a good way to do that. I mean beyond the advocacy for social support programs, beyond the advocacy that we try not to push the planet up to 7 degrees or what, beyond doing work to directly support those programs in your community, beyond raising food for the food pantry, beyond advocating for other measures of food security, what would you suggest? I tend to forget that the stuff I’ve been writing about for five years elsewhere is sort of new here, so I’m sincere about this – what do you propose?

    Sharon

  37. #37 Liz Ditz
    February 16, 2010

    What Dacks said:


    IMHO, it’s not the anonymity that’s the problem, it’s the rudeness.

    Thanks for saving me the trouble of reading Nisbet.

    And I’m sorry — Lucky Charms are just gross, no matter what beverage they are paired with.

  38. #38 hankroberts
    February 16, 2010

    > i’ll eat almost anything pickled.

    Yep. Inebriation leads to beer nuts, hot wings, and worse ….

  39. #39 Blake Stacey
    February 16, 2010

    “Much of the incivility online can be attributed to anonymity.”

    So what? Even if this were entirely true — my guess is that online dickishness springs not from anonymity, but from the more fundamental issue of feeling like you won’t face consequences — would it outweigh the benefits which anonymity and pseudonymity bring? If Nisbet had grown up a godless liberal in Alabama, he might be more likely to see an upside to avoiding the consequences of one’s speech online.

    “And with a rare few exceptions, if you can’t participate in a dialogue about issues without using your full name and true identity, then what you have to say is probably not that valuable.”

    I like that dodge: “a rare few exceptions”. Any counterexample we raise magically becomes the rare exception which proves the rule! Hey, 90% of everything is crud; people writing under their real names barf up nonsense, too, and we have to filter that out anyway.

  40. #40 Sharon Astyk
    February 16, 2010

    I know it is incredibly annoying when people take little bits of humor posts and go off and write missives about them, but I fear that’s just what I’ve done ;-). The good news is that it gives you something else to be cranky about.

    http://scienceblogs.com/casaubonsbook/2010/02/what_does_collapse_mean_and_wh.php

  41. #41 bsci
    February 16, 2010

    Sharon,

    I think I share some of PalMD’s confusion about your blog. I started reading when you joined scienceblogs. I see a mix of interesting posts on do-it-yourself food cultivation, stories from an interesting family life, very mediocre economics posts (sorry, you have strong opinions, but really don’t seem to have a handle on the complexities of the subject… nothing personal), and semi-delusional rantings about peak-oil and everyone suddenly having to fend for themselves. Humor about the coming apocalypse is lost when the reader doesn’t have a full history regarding your ideas.

    I think there’s more of a background on your blog regarding the peak-oil and self-reliance stuff, but it’s lost in the archives. I’ve dug into other bloggers’ archives, but you’re a bit too prolific make this practical. Drugmonkey had a history of periodically reposting substantive posts from his old blog to help inform new readers. Perhaps this is something you can also do.

  42. #42 Uncle Glenny
    February 16, 2010

    Vicki wrote above, I don’t go to the parts of the Internet where I will be told, loudly, that I am a threat to the moral fiber of America, doomed to burn in hell, and not deserving of the most basic civil rights.

    as I was contemplating this post about Pal’s thought of the futility of a root cellar.

    The closest hate group to where I live, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, is an organization whose members would [tell me] loudly, that I am a threat to the moral fiber of America, doomed to burn in hell, and not deserving of the most basic civil rights.

    I thought I saw some neo-nazis once, but they were just liberal gay skinheads.

    So PAL – pickled lucky charms?

  43. #43 Rob Monkey
    February 16, 2010

    Coco Puffs and Bailey’s: dammit, now I need to go to the store ;)

    I guess to me anonymity on the internet is just one of those things that’s either a bug or a feature, and it depends on where you go. I enjoy participating in Sb commenting, but I wouldn’t touch YouTube comments w/a ten foot pole. My brother gets so annoyed with the comments on YouTube, but I tell him it’s like playing Xbox Live: you’re in a forum with craploads of 13 year old kids, and as we all know, 13 year olds are terrible horrible little shits. I don’t get mad at annoying kids on Xbox any more than I get annoyed at drunks at the bar. I’m at the bar, if I couldn’t tolerate drunks I’d stay home and drink some delicious homemade brew, possibly with Frosted Flakes or Cap’n Crunch.

    Sharon, if I might offer my interpretation of the (possibly) constructive criticism: I think a blog like yours, where you get DEEP into the homegrown food culture stuff, is like any other blog where you get deep into a subject; it can feel a bit dense to those who aren’t quite as into it as you are. I’m just getting into gardening and such, so some of your posts are really on the button for me, others (like the post in question) may be a bit too, um, professional for the likes of me. So while I find it interesting, I’ll admit a tiny part of me gets a chuckle out of the Mad Max-ness of your endeavors. It’s more the shock of seeing someone living in such a different manner that makes it funny, notwithstanding the obvious skill and benefits involved. Kind of like how some people think it’s funny that I can find it important to have killed some of my own food. While it seems strange to them to go hunting, many of them also realize how far removed from their food they actually are.

  44. #44 Onkel Bob
    February 16, 2010

    One question, who, other than fellow science bloggers, reads Framing Science? I’m rather particular what I read, and usually selective where I post, so I’m not a very good datum point; e.g., I rarely read the most popular blog on the page, and I never post there. However, I never read Nisbet’s dribble, even when he whips up these little traffic magnet episodes. One must be a masochist of first rank to endure that turgid incoherent prose he hoists upon the unsuspecting viewer. I can’t handle that magnitude of stupid, it hurts too much. I get my stupid from a college basketball bulletin board. And let me tell you, when they discuss politics and science, they can bring the stupid.
    Is it me or is SciBlogs turning into a virtual Peyton Place? Every day has some sort of Telenovela episode, and each week, every poster seems to put some concern troll bait. Entertaining yes, informative, eh, not so much… But then again, you folk are the professionals, so I’ll defer to ya’all… :^)

  45. #45 the real meme
    February 16, 2010

    Well, then, just circumcise the whole dirty, bad thing! That seems to be your solution for almost everything that irritates or challenges you…

  46. #46 Barn Owl
    February 16, 2010

    I’ll bet Lucky Charms have a really long shelf life. Except that those little marshmallows will get a bit stale and crunchy – you could do an experiment, and see which ones go stale first. Green clovers? Pink hearts? Orange diamonds? Yellow stars? If you’re going to store food for the zombie apocalypse, you might as well pick something you like to eat. And since it will be a zombie apocalypse, and not a leprechaun apocalypse, you won’t have to worry about defending your stockpile. Now, if you chose to store pickled braaaiiinnnzzzz instead, you’d definitely be SOL.

    Seriously, though, I appreciate Sharon’s blog and enjoy reading the posts and comments. Some of it I don’t relate to, don’t agree with, or won’t work in my location, but isn’t that true of all blogs? WRT sustainability, I’m just dabbling in and wading through tidepools … and sometimes it’s interesting and inspiring to watch the dolphins, seals, and pelagic seabirds way off in the distance.

  47. #47 Skeptico
    February 17, 2010

    I left the following comment (in bold below) for Nisbet on that post, first quoting him:

    I’ve long questioned the value of anonymous blogging or commenting. Much of the incivility online can be attributed to anonymity. And with a rare few exceptions, if you can’t participate in a dialogue about issues without using your full name and true identity, then what you have to say is probably not that valuable.

    I have two points to make:

    1) That paragraph is the definition of ad hominem – attacking the person making the comment, rather than addressing what they actually wrote.

    2) Please explain how my comment at point 1) above would be more valuable or more correct if I had used my full name.

     

      – Never made it out of moderation.  I guess that’s because I didn’t post under my actual name.  Or maybe because he considered it uncivil.  Which is odd, because my question 2 would have given him the perfect opportunity to explain what is wrong with posting under a pseudonym.

  48. #48 Katharine
    February 17, 2010

    Re. Mr. Miscommunication:

    “It’s not unexpected for Dr. Communication-is-My-Field to belie his title with every word he writes, but last week’s post of his is truly a new level of dumbassery.”

    I don’t think it’s a new level of dumbassery. I just probably think he’s more of a dumbass than you think.

    Also, this kind of reminds me just how much I hate comm arts people and that one speech class I had to take with the instructor who couldn’t tell the difference between ‘complete’ and ‘replete’ and couldn’t spell to save her life and thought John Stossel had anything worthwhile to say.

    “Nisbet, who revels in telling the rest of the world how poorly they communicate, lobbed a shit-bomb into the blogosphere when he declared:

    ‘Much of the incivility online can be attributed to anonymity. And with a rare few exceptions, if you can’t participate in a dialogue about issues without using your full name and true identity, then what you have to say is probably not that valuable.’

    I’ve written quite a bit about anonymity and pseudonymity in the past, but if you can’t think on your own of at least five reasons his statement is idiotic, you probably have a PhD in communication (and “he forgot to show data” doesn’t count, because it’s too easy, and his response is, “just google it.”).”

    Comm arts people can count? That’s news to me.

  49. #49 drdrA
    February 17, 2010

    I love this post- it summarizes concisely everything I’ve been thinking about that silly Nisbet post…. and those that followed on. I was going to blog about it, but now I’m not going to bother because I couldn’t have said it better than you!! ;-)

  50. #50 george.w
    February 17, 2010

    I read lots of blogs, but only one by a person whom I’ve met IRL. That means all the rest of them might as well be pseudonymous, even the ones written under the putative real name of the author. They could call themselves a poached egg for all the difference it makes.

    Or put it another way: even IRL, our names are pseudonymous to our “real selves” whatever that could possibly mean. It is our social selves, our reputation, that suffers or gains from what we do. That reputation is our identity, if we use the same pseudonym long enough. Drop the name, you lose the identity and start over with nothing: no bad associations but no credibility either.

    For instance, “Matt Nisbett” is a pseudonymous identity for his real name, which is “Self-aggrandizing twit”. If he changed his name online, how long do you think it would take for his new name to mean the same thing?

  51. #51 Peanut
    February 17, 2010

    When you discuss mixing Lucky Charms and wine, I can’t help but imagine you selectively picking out all of the marshmallows. Then, you stick them together into a ball of marshmallows. Finally, when the marshmallow ball reaches critical mass, you break out the wine.

    My mom was one of 6+ kids, so she has vivid memories of sneaking downstairs in the middle of the night to make and consume the giant ball of Lucky Charm marshmallows – on the few, rare occasions that they were purchased.

  52. #52 Daniel J. Andrews
    February 19, 2010

    “Isn’t good”? Of course it’s good. If no one challenges your basic assumptions, what’s the fucking point?

    But what if the site you’re reading is complete antiscience? That’s not challenging your basic assumptions–that is subjecting yourself to torture. I can’t see how that is good at all unless it is the online version of self-flagellation for spiritual purity. I suppose it could be good for some because they will then make a post debunking the antiscience, but otherwise I don’t see it being good.

    Ok, thought of another reason why it might be good–it might inspire you to fight even harder against the woo and the antiscience that most captures your interest. (I’m sinking my own ship here, methinks).

    Other than that, it can’t be good. ;)

  53. #53 Daniel J. Andrews
    February 19, 2010

    P.S. this xkcd seems fitting for this post….

    http://xkcd.com/386/

  54. #54 Theo Bromine
    February 23, 2010

    re anonymity:

    I spent 10+ years posting on numerous usenet newsgroups with my real name (to the amusement of my teenage kids when they discovered Google’s archive of usenet). The main reason that I use a pseudonym these days is because my real name is fairly unusual, and I would like to minimize access to spammers etc. I will provide my real name to anyone who asks (though it lacks the chocolaty goodness of the ‘nym). If someone uses a consistent pseudonym, I don’t see why it matters what their real name is, unless someone wants to look them up in the phone book and stalk them.

    re preparing for the future:

    I have 2.6kW of photovoltaic generator in my side yard (in suburbia). Come the apocalypse and/or revolution, I have no illusions that this will do anything other than make my house an attractive target to be seized by a gang of armed thugs. I have no inclination to take any steps to address that particular risk.