On being offended and disrespected

Few things make me very angry: injustices perpetrated by the powerful against the weak, good science fiction series being canned by network executives, and people who think they can say whatever they like without regard for their audience. I find it disgusting that some people think it's okay to be aggressive, rude and swear blindly in front of children, for instance, which matches two of my aversions. So when a communal forum that I spend a lot of time in, and which includes many of my friends, turns into that sort of street scene, I want to leave it. Am I being an old fogey?

It's not like I haven't used foul language myself - at one point in my life every second word was foul, but eventually I came to realise that in so doing I was merely debasing those swear words to nothing, so that when I really needed to swear, I had nothing left. Also, it interfered with the sermons. So I stopped swearing, particularly around those who found it offensive, not because people have a right not to be offended (no such right exists), but out of respect for others.

If we behave in ways that upset people even after they have asked us to stop, or do it somewhere else, that is a sign of disrespect. And respect is what we build our social relations upon, the presence or absence of it determines whether we are in a state of friendship or enmity with others. When someone disrespects me, then I think it is time to leave. The trouble is, that it means a major upheaval in my arrangements: it means this blog must go from Seed back to some other location. So I am asking you, my readers, what you think. Should I leave Seed because a few of the Sciblings behave in ways I simply do not think are worth my time and emotional reaction in the back forum? Is that over-reaction? Am I really just an atavism? It seems to me that when I am in a situation that I find offensive, I should just leave, even if it costs me (as it will - I get book money from the traffic Evolving Thoughts generates).

Humans, I have become increasingly aware, are social dominance apes, and status is crucial to our well being. In treating the rest of the Sciblings with disrespect by swearing at them and generally telling us that we do not matter and they will go on behaving the way they want (for no better reason, I think, than to assert their dominance) a few have made the Seed blog stable into a street fight. Maybe, as one of them said, I lack a thick enough hide, although I think 20-odd years arguing with creationists might suggest otherwise. I think it's the fact that these are my supposed peers that gets up my nose. Suggestions?

Late note: OK, I'm staying. I guess I haven't been used to that kind of personal abuse since I left high school, but it's only a few characters, and I guess I'll have to find my community elsewhere (not Facebook, that's for sure). Seed has been excellent for and to me, so it's not right to scurry off because of a few objectionable folk. Thanks for the support, and I think we can leave this issue for now.

More like this

This is a platform. You are liked and respected here. Just because some other people are on the same platform and rub you the wrong way, does not mean you should leave it - just ignore them.

Would it make sense to stay put for this reason: In your own piece of the Sciblings' site, you can model respectful discourse and insist that visitors to your site follow your lead if they wish to have the privilege of posting? In any organization as a whole, there are likely to be folk who disrespect and offend others, but perhaps the organization as a whole performs a funtion that are valuable and can be, moreover improved.

Hmmm ... I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiments about the behavior you are describing, particularly the refusal to leave you out of their games. If that's "old fogeyism," then I'm glad of the implication that I won't be forced to suffer such a world for too long.

On the other hand, you are not responsible, except in situations that I cannot see applying here, for anyone's behavior but your own. Sometimes enduring abuse while refusing to engage in such dominance displays can be the strongest rebuke.

Let me understand this: You are thinking of moving the blog, losing income, losing readers who turn to science blogs for intelligent argument and discussion of the sciences and their place in our society... because a few of your peers are behaving badly and swearing?

Where does this stem from? A previous post or a backroom forum available only to the SciBlog authors?

Hmm. I don't follow all the Scienceblogs controversies very closely, but I don't know what you are talking about. Is this in reference to a specific argument, or to the general tone of Scienceblogs?

You never want to work (or play) in an environment where you are not valued or treated with respect. It's not something you can force. Either they do or they don't. If they don't, then go somewhere where they do.

There is a value to righteous indignation, but there is a dangerous temptation for it to turn into self-righteousness, which is really a form of self aggrandizement. It can be a very satisfying feeling to be morally offended on behalf of some (putative) underdog group and against a supposedly morally inferior group (sometimes powerful, sometimes not) or a supposedly morally inferior political/philosophical/theological position.

Anti-abortionists and animal rightists bask in such self-righteousness on behalf of fetuses and animals. Self-righteousness can also be manifested as pretensions of achieving the highest levels of moral courage by imagining one's own country to be the contemporary analog of Nazi Germany, even if condemning this allegedly fascist regime entails little cost or risk.

Righteous indignation can often be a preexisting sentiment - or an addiction to that sentiment - in search of a cause (and more to the point, a justification). So anytime we feel a sense of righteousness and indignation welling up within ourselves, we would do well to take a moment to check whether this is occurring because of the inherent injustice of the situation or because of the inherent gratification of self-righteousness.

Stuff White People Like #101: Being offended

When someone shows you 'disrespect', is that a cause of your action or a result of your action? Just curious about the position you're taking.

Agree with your concerns. Actions in response? That's tougher. I've pointed out to some folks that I am uncomfortable; some care, some don't.

But you've hit the major point - it just leads to a "devaluation of the currency." As you say ...

I was merely debasing those swear words to nothing, so that when I really needed to swear, I had nothing left.

Or as Michael Flanders out it, "I am very much against this increasing use of four-letter words. If they all come into common use, we'll have nothing left for special occasions."

If such folk drop something heavy on their big toe, what do they say??

I'm not sure about "disrespect", however. In many cases, I think there's an element of juvenile snook-cocking and a desire to shock. Personally, I think that it weakens an argument ... but then maybe I'm an old fogey too.

Ultimately, leaving may be the only recourse. I do recall walking out of one business meeting where the language was just getting out of hand. And there are some ScienceBlogs that I don't read any longer, due to the combination of language and intolerance.

By Scott Belyea (not verified) on 09 Jun 2008 #permalink

This is very disturbing. You're one of my must reads (and will remain so, wherever you take your blog); but it is depressing to read you are getting such treatment to the degree you no longer feel welcome.

I think it's the fact that these are my supposed peers that gets up my nose. Suggestions?


You are peerless.

I am a bit sad that some SciBlings are being knowingly offensive. Aren't they meant to have a basic command of English.

You aren't an atavism, just a normal polite person.

By Chris' Wills (not verified) on 09 Jun 2008 #permalink

I am reminded of Eleanor Roosevelt's words: "Remember no one can make you feel inferior without your consent." Likewise offended . . . . Seed's Scienceblogs is merely a venue. If your neighbors irriate you, as mine often do (real neighbors, noisy buggers), put in ear plugs! Works pretty well for me.

By ctenotrish (not verified) on 09 Jun 2008 #permalink

Should I leave Seed because a few of the Sciblings behave in ways I simply do not think are worth my time and emotional reaction in the back forum?

No. That was my initial reaction at first but after distancing myself for a while I saw that leaving Seed was separate from leaving the forum. So stay blogging here and just avoid that which causes you pain.

By John Lynch (not verified) on 09 Jun 2008 #permalink

As a an uninvolved outsider who knows nothing of whatever this conflict may be, as a devils advocate I would ask the same questions you did. If it is just a few of the other people on Scienceblogs, perhaps you are overreacting? I tend to be an avoider myself (Usenet is an "emotionally safe" forum for me) and I get a twitchy and overheated and nervous and scared when I seen an argument coming on or I feel that I need to go and start one, so I may have an inkling how you feel.

Ultimately, "Should I stay or should I go now" can only be answered for you by you, but allow me to offer this thought: If you leave, how can you affect change for the better? Do you want to change things for the better?

A few links to whatever it is that upset you might help in understanding your problem. There is a big difference between what others do and what is done to you. If it is being done to/at you, ask yourself why it matters. If the reasons are important to you, then quit this blogsite. If they are minor, then it doesn't really matter, does it. If having your blog here causes you distress, and the only option is to leave, then do so. Is that your only option?

I used to have a problem with anger (and still do, I'm human), but I've calmed down more by looking at it differently. I encountered this bit of self-help advice while researching buddhism. This quote is the kicker:

Bhikkhus, whenever you hear someone criticize or ridicule me or the Dharma, do not give rise to feelings of anger, irritation, or indignation. Such feelings can only harm yourselves. Whenever you hear someone praise me or the Dharma, do not give rise to feelings of happiness, pleasure, or satisfaction. That too will only harm yourselves. The correct attitude is to examine the criticism to see what parts may be true and what parts are not true. Only by doing that will you have a chance to further your studies and make real progress. - the Buddha, as written by Thich Nhat Hanh in Old Path, White Clouds.

When someone insults me, or acts in a way that angers or disgusts me, I try to stop and look at my own thoughts and see why I reacted the way I did. In many cases, I can just shake my head and go on about my business. I guess part of that comes from living my life and having (only!) 41-years on me. A lot of what matters to others (such as the social-dominance crap) doesn't really bother me. I work with high school kids, and when some of them try the dominance game, in many cases I can ignore it (assuming it does not compromise my effectiveness as a teacher). In any case, I try not to take it personally, even if it was meant that way. Why should I? Maybe I'm just weird, or wired differently, although there are many cases when I react too strongly, and I have to get a hold of myself, calm down, and do the reflective bit, so I think I am pretty normal in that respect.

The same goes for you. I have no idea what set this off, except for the general sniping between those who noses have been tweaked, and to me that is childish and easily ignored (well, I have joined in when I felt it necessary to add my voice, or to throw in a bit of (attempted) humor or sarcasm). In the end, you have to weigh the costs and benefits of the decision. I'm sorry if this isn't really helpful, but without details, all I can say is to make sure that your action is an action - something you want to do, rather than a reaction that you feel you have to do.

John I don't know what it's like in OZ but here in Virginia language is moving faster than any one person can adapt to and that includes cuss words. Walking down the street you hear all the major cuss words loudly uttered with no regard to the presence of children. Really the only people offended are older church going folk. Everyone else rolls with it or mentally classifies the offender as lower class. Whole realms of communication are painted in gang sign, wearable bling and other ways of stylin. The shock value is like just gone, souse gotta flow. Now SCIBlogs is uber cool and lightweight in terms of vitriolic content. It's just hurt feelings and fast fingers for the most part. No harm no foul really and its fun to see respected authority figures fling the poo. So be cool, keep it real and teach us to cuss Aussie.

Can't we all just have a jolly good time swearing only at network executives who decide to can good science fiction series?

John - It's not like you're room-mates with these people. You don't have to share a dorm with them each night, so why not just ignore them? Isn't that an option?

Email offers ways to block receipt of emails from certain sources, doesn't your "back-channel" offer something similar?

I would guess that a reasonable majority of your SciBlings feel the same way - most seem to be pretty reasonable. My guess is that those who aren't are becoming unpopular all round. It's hard to see how anyone could get so upset with your views - you're too damn moderate.

ScienceBlogs would be the losers if you did leave (and I would be a winner - I wouldn't have to press refresh every 15 seconds any more), so I hope you stay for their sake.

But should you decide to leave, I'm sure you would be welcome at Nature Network. As long as you don't mind the occasional unicycling girrafe going past.

I haven't always posted intelligent comments on this blog (I showed up briefly, once, to acting out the stupid-vegetarian-out-of-his-depth role), but I enjoy reading it nonetheless and refer plenty of friends to it. I'd hate to see you go over others' pettiness.

It's nice having you and Ed Brayton's blog on one site together, too.

By Matty Smith (not verified) on 09 Jun 2008 #permalink

Hmm, if you moved your blog away from here to somewhere else, I wonder if I might feel about you as I'd feel about network executives who'd canned a good science fiction series that was then forced to move to another network?

Naah, probably not. But I still would be sorry to see you go, though it would only be to another URL.

Of course you've made me rather curious, but I suppose if you'd wanted to tell all you'd have done so already.

Should I leave Seed because a few of the Sciblings behave in ways I simply do not think are worth my time and emotional reaction in the back forum?

No. Definitely not.

I don't know what you mean by "the back forum," but I spend at least 2 or 3 hours a day reading Scienceblogs. Granted, the Scibloggers are a motley crew and some of them can be pretty over-the-top at times, but aside from one instance where one Scibling wrote a "**** you" blog entry aimed at another, I haven't seen any real infighting or deliberate offense.

Is that over-reaction?

Not knowing what you're reacting to, I can't say either way, but I hope you stay - and if someone tries to pick a fight with you, just remember: "Don't Feed the Troll" is equally good advice when you're dealing with any kind of personal attack in the blogosphere.

By themadlolscientist (not verified) on 09 Jun 2008 #permalink

I'll confess that I have used foul language on Internet forums, usually carefully chosen for dramatic effect. On a few occasions I have genuinely lost my temper, which suggests that one should probably take a minute or two before hitting the send key.

The problem with foul or abusive language is that it is frequently used as a club, a way to shock and awe an interlocutor, essentially short-circuiting the debating process.

The real magic of offensive language is that if you don't use it often, when you do utilize it, it can have a rather powerful effect. Unfortunately, using it often does make you into something of a boor. Maybe it is better not to use it at all.

By Aaron Clausen (not verified) on 09 Jun 2008 #permalink


Although I have no idea who has offended you or why, I will say that I personally swear like a drunken docker on a bad day but still regard mutual respect as the highest good in life.

I think this is a decision that only you can make/take. What ever you choose to do I will respect and you can be sure that if you continue to blog I shall continue to read and comment on that which you write were ever you may write it.

Love & Peace Thony ;)

I prefer to decide myself what I do; rather than let someone jerk my chain. Us big dogs don't pay no 'tention to little yapping dogs, Right?

By Jim Thomerson (not verified) on 09 Jun 2008 #permalink

Just quit the forums. Its a time waster anyways. There really isn't a need to quit Sb. AFAIK The "organization" isn't offending you, just a few members. You do not have to deal with the offenders outside of the forums, correct? i.e. They don't come to your blog to purposely offend you.

HEY! who offended you? you can't leave! i like you!

worse, even though i rarely swear in print, i have been known to indulge in blue language in real life, especially after i break something that i care about (my front tooth, my foot, my wrist -- twice, my shoulder) or lose something i care about (my sanity, my friends).

so .. please tell me you're joking, and that you're going to stay, dammit!

First thing first, it would be a shame if you weren't here. Perhaps I'm just too lazy to install myself a RSS feed, but I like the SB 24hour page for an overview over interesting topics. Also being part of a blogging network seems to bring in a larger amount of comments, which is imho the part of blogging most interesting (to read).

Now, if the atmosphere in the SB private forum (I guess it's there where you got flamed?) is too agitated, a solution could be to agree with the other parties involved to ignore each other. Imho every Scienceblogger here is mature enough to honor such an agreement.

If it is based on personal animosity (as you seem to imply) between the involved (whatever way) it's probably also something which needs to be mediated through the Seed overlords itself. After all they have an interest in a good atmosphere in these parts here.

And last, I'm not a very nice guy. So I don't have much of a problem with insults and flames, as long as it's contained (to a thread, or to a specific blog). Though if it spills into other areas (other blogs, other forums) it's too much and needs action to solve the conflict.

For example I regard the Pharyngula comment section as a place where people can let steam off. Additionally nobody is forced to read those comments and go there. So I'm ok with the atmosphere there (I'm also not innocent of that behavior).

But if somebody acts like that on another blog, where such discourse isn't the norm it's problem and appropriate action needs to be taken.

Well, that are my somewhat confused thoughts about it. Did it makes sense, I wonder? :()

By student_b (not verified) on 09 Jun 2008 #permalink

I'm with Bob: scienceblogs will be worse without you. But if you do decide to leave, please do leave a forwarding address. I enjoy many of your posts, and would want to keep reading them regardless of whatever the URL is. Even if you are way too moderate.

I know your views and style diverge from those of several of the more vocal (and some of the most popular) of the scienceblogs. And I hope that isn't the problem, but rather it is some back-channel behavior.

John please don't go away. This is where I am getting an education about species. Your essays attract a great collection of comments and I, sometimes, get explanations that I understand. Just ignore those people, or blogs, that you find inappropriate, block the cretinous comments, but keep writing.
And, if you get to Melbourne, go to Monash and say hi to my son.

I second Thony -- wherever your blog wanders, I'll follow. I don't comment much, but I do read every post! You must weigh what is important to you and make your best decision.

I appreciate that the people giving you trouble are supposed to be allies, and that's far more frustrating than dealing with creationists. What about banding together with sciblings who might support you, and seeing if you have enough support to get Seed involved? (Obviously, I know nothing about this situation and I'm swinging in the dark here. But one advantage of being in a community is that you can ask for community support.)

Thank you all. Just to clarify, this was not abusive language directed at me, but I was one of several who complained and were told effectively to STFU. It had nothing to do with my being an agnostic or anything like that.

The problem is that I live on the edges of empire, far from the center of things (like Boston, which I am told is the center of the universe), so my community was in large part the people in those forums. I feel like my bar has been taken over by yuppies or something.

But I will stay. And I am sorry to have been so needy as to share this with you all. I'll write something fun to make up for it...

By John S. Wilkins (not verified) on 09 Jun 2008 #permalink

OH. MY. GAWD. boston is the center of the universe? who told you that? someone is yanking your chain because everyone who is anyone knows that NYC is the center of the universe, and boston is nothing more than a bright red monkey's anus on the map!

i just returned to the forums after a hiatus of several months because i was unable to endure the nasty personal attacks perpetrated by several people there, but i NEVER would leave SB because i love it here.

i am not telling you that to "make you" stay, i am telling you that to remind you that SB is greater than the sum of its poops .. er, peeps!

Um, just creeping back in to correct "the organization as a whole performs a funtion that are valuable" to "the organization as a whole performs a function that is valuable." [Creeps back out again].

Well, if I were you, I would ignore the blogs which you find distasteful, and continue to use your own as you see fit. Now, if I felt that Seed was endorsing, say, racist commentary, I wouldn't stick around. I guess it depends on how much you can't stand the rhetoric on other ScienceBlogs. That's certainly a personal judgment. But as an observer, I don't think you're responsible for answering or otherwise reacting to the commentary of other ScienceBloggers, any more so than I'm responsible for answering assholes on Wordpress.com.

I'll mention this, because I think it may speak to the question you're asking: I was not previously aware of your blog and it's due to the cross-referencing on this website that I have the pleasure of reading you sometimes. There will be other late-comers in the same situation as me. But if more is lost by sticking around, then you gotta do what you gotta do.

By Grammar RWA (not verified) on 09 Jun 2008 #permalink

"I'll write something fun to make up for it..."

What could be funnier than the idea that there are people who think that Boston is the center of the Universe??

I'm glad to see you're staying. In my own estimtion, you are one of the most valued members of the SciBlogs community. I think that Lynch and Kevin Z. have it right that you could give up the back channel if necessary without damaging your status in the community, which in my mind includes the readers.

One of the most important things that people need to learn for success and respect in any community is a "sense of the appropriate." Those who have no respect for the sensibilities of others deserve no respect themselves.

You must be very sheltered. It's impossible to show disrespect on the net except by words, and those words carry through to the extent you, you alone, let them. School teachers, lawyers, garbage men, sales clerks, get a great deal of disrespect, in person. No matter, they are who they are. You are different?

You claim that you should get no disrespect. Your inability to cope on your own, without calling for support, of unknown people, indicates you perhaps deserve some disrespect.

I enjoy reading your posts, even if I rarely comment, and I think ScienceBlogs needs more bloggers from the Southern Hemisphere, not fewer. Geographic balance is good. That being said, I'd still read your blog if it were at Nature Networks...they seem to be a class act all around, and there *are* those giraffes.

A few links to whatever it is that upset you might help in understanding your problem.

That would probably be bad cyber-manners, like posting quotes from your PMs publicly on a forum or messageboard. "Oh noes, teh backchannel, it's teh SECRITZ".

I have to agree with Grrl and Lynch and O'Hara, among others. I don't like the tone either and left the forums. I really don't plan on going back either. I do value the platform, it has allowed me to bring up a lot of things (the Hadza for example that ordinarily wouldn't have received a lot of attention otherwise. Please stay at SB and ignore those who don't have the same amount of class and style that you do...

By afarensis (not verified) on 09 Jun 2008 #permalink

Stay, please.

It's very tiring being careful about public writing -- and the main intended audience for this kind of public writing is not the person who posted just before you, but the kid coming along next week with a naive question, bad grammar or spelling, and a mind worth encouraging.

I've seen 'back room' forums since 300 baud modem days and they're often places the 'official' spokesbloggers get their only chance to blow off steam.

No surprise. Always happens. Always will.

I never found a much better answer than a long walk and some simmer-down time and the reminder that it's onstage/offstage behavior that makes people so weird sometime.

Words don't communicate most of the content in face to face conversation; we project far more onto what we read when all we have is words. What makes us get irritated is always what we project.

"You may very well be right about that" is one phrase I long ago learned to use online when I was ready to type something offensive in response to someone who I was sure was being offensive.

Somehow, the world may indeed really be the way he describes it, for him. "Bless his heart." That's a phrase I learned to use even earlier, in similar trying circumstances.

Going off in a huff is for steam trains, not writers.

Please hang around.

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 09 Jun 2008 #permalink

I had never participated in the forums until recently and I'm genuinely shocked to hear that people were being rude, profane and disrespectful. The way I see it we all have a really great thing going here and I can't believe people would jeopardize it by bad behavior in back channels. It might be helpful if you could describe more of what the issue was, even if for understandable reasons you did not wnat to name names.

Other than that, let me add my voice to the chorus of support. Yours is one of my favorite blogs here, and I say that as someone who (a) generally doesn't like philosophy and (b) has occasionally butted heads with you in the past.

I know how you feel. Not to long ago, someone called me an idiot in one of my comments I made in direct response to the flawed film Expelled. So I deleted the comment, put his IP on my blacklist and shared it with the EndCreationism Livejournal board.

Just because someone has slammed you doesn't mean you have to give up the fight so easily. Even I myself need to learn this and try to do my best to make people, like that one individual who called me an idiot, stay out of my site. If they'll going to act like that towards those like us who don't agree with their creationist standards, then they are not welcomed here, all other scienceblogs, and especially my 2 blogs. Period.

So I am asking you, my readers, what you think. Should I leave Seed because a few of the Sciblings behave in ways I simply do not think are worth my time and emotional reaction in the back forum? Is that over-reaction? Am I really just an atavism? It seems to me that when I am in a situation that I find offensive, I should just leave, even if it costs me (as it will - I get book money from the traffic Evolving Thoughts generates).

I won't presume to advise you, old(er) fogey that I am. And I didn't read it as an expression of neediness, but as frustration. The immature dweebs (and I could have used stronger language there) who told you (in effect if not explicitly) to STFU, aren't worth giving a shit about, regardless of who they might think they are.

I infer from Afarensis' comment that it's the back-channel Sciblings' forum that's the main problem. Writing as an experienced forum admin (ex-administrator of IIDB and a current administrator of TalkRational!) I'd be happy to take over the forum and lay on a few smackdowns. :D

Unless you feel that you can't continue to maintain what you do here without participating in the unnamed super-secret by special invitation only forums, don't go, please.

Now, I personally do not use unmannerly language on the net, only in person where it really counts. I figure when writing, one has the time to come up with wordy scathing remarks, no need for one or two word nasty shortcuts. Besides, it keeps the cat on your lap entertained longer.

By Susan Silberstein (not verified) on 09 Jun 2008 #permalink

First, I have no idea what your talking abut. Rude commentary, foul language, disrespect? There might be some around but it doesn't jump out at me. Your going to have to get more specific about what particular comments in what specific blogs have caused you to feel this way.

Second, I understand you feel insulted and disillusioned. Possible answers might be to compose a letter of the particular blog, and the people over or funding it expressing your concerns. Who knows. You might get a response. You might also withdrawal, as it seems your proposing to do. There may also be social sanctions or pressures you could bring to bear or any number of other responses.

Of these, and any other that come to mind, which of them seem the most likely to bring about changes? I suspect that of all the mechanisms at your disposal walking away will get the least positive response. And once you leave and find out nothing changed and very few even noticed your going to be hard pressed to return. Your going to be hurting yourself more than them.

Also, while walking away is indeed a possible response, and is possibly the first one to come to mind, the question is is it automatic? As a thought experiment lets assume you were a contributer to a science blog with someone else who concealed a great hatred for you. He, or she, wants you to quit. To run away. Are you saying that to get you to quit all anyone has to do is be rude, disrespectful and use raw language?

Sounds to me like your leaving the head-stock control room unlocked and unguarded. Your giving people way too much control over you.

You may, upon reflection, decide that the best response is to exclude yourself from the situation. It is your call to make. But I wouldn't be too quick to give up and I wouldn't let anyone, particularly not the sort that feels the need to resort to foul language, decide for me where I go and what I do.

Please don't leave SB! But a community is for fruitful discussion, not for yelling "if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen"...and if it's nothing but an emotional drain, I understand if you need to go elsewhere. (Just let everyone know where.)

Also: don't listen to people who don't know the difference between your and you're, or insist that wanting a polite space makes you worthy of disrespect...

This from someone who swears like a fucking sailor. I never said so much as "damn" till I spent a summer up north planting trees in the bush, and now...!

By Tlönista (not verified) on 09 Jun 2008 #permalink

Well John, I think that's you told. Perhaps you should set up a forum for the more considerate of your SciBlings, like the one we have.

We're also all still wondering who the perpetrators are. Perhaps GrrlScientist could help you set up a poll so we can give our guesses. Just hope PZed doesn't crash it.

I can see that you seem to have already decided not to leave, but nevertheless, I will second, third and fourth the requests that you not leave. And applaud you for *wanting* a polite space. If no-one speaks up, things inevitably degenerate.

By Luna_the_cat (not verified) on 10 Jun 2008 #permalink

Hmmph. You are at the edge of the empire? I'm in Morris. You're going to have to move to a sheep ranch a few hundred miles deep into the outback before you can claim isolation.

As for The Problem, it's about the dissolution of a community, not every community. You've still got a local bar you can come home to, where you can relax a bit and have some conversation -- it's just this place called Evolving Thoughts.

As for the backchannel (and for all the outsiders here, I think this is about some recent drama and chaos in the online forum for sciencebloggers), we ought to have expected this in any group that is selected mainly for a semi-autistic interest in science. There is no social cohesion to make it all work consistently, and it's very easy for a little grit to get into the lubrication. Try seeing it from my perspective: from day one it's been open season on Pharyngula in there, so I really haven't looked at it with much affection. You're just belatedly realizing that the neighborhood bar is more of a dive with an open door for some unsavory characters.

Yeah, but you're an atheist with a hard to spell name!

Oh, OK, then, I can't grumble (damn you! You've made me into a British worker!). On the other hand, you are able to console yourself with the umpteen million readers you get, all atheists, in your weekly cheer squad.

By John S. Wilkins (not verified) on 10 Jun 2008 #permalink

Hey, there are one or two theists, and 3 or 4 agnostics, among the umpteen million. And it's an hourly cheer squad. Yeah, they never, ever say anything mean about me.

It's also a matter of ambience. You've got a nice cozy place here, with a number of regulars and frequent drop-ins, while I've got the warehouse with the searchlights and neon out front and a line of people around the block pushing to get in and rumble. I've got the mosh pit, you've got the salon. Neither of us have anything to complain about.

Unless you're complaining because atheists throw much wilder parties than agnostics, in which case all you have to do is come over to the dark side and get your freak on.


But seriously: why do we have to scroll down the comment road for miles and miles before being treated with a clue as to where all this foul language is to be found, and what the problem is actually about?

I even went so far and skimmed the comments of the last twenty or so entries on Evolving Thoughts to check what the heck's going on, and of course couldn't find anything useful in order to arrive at a possible suggestion.

Chances are, though, that whatever I might have found would have merely served to rationalize my heartfelt "for goodness sake, stay!" reaction anyways.



I am bit late in reading this post, but I must join all the other who ask you to stay. I could be considered as a member of PZ's cheer squad, but I don't post there often, I just read it every day (along with Ed, Orac, and yourself). While you and the others mentioned may not always agree, I do find something of value in all of your viewpoints. PZ helps me to find a vent for frustration, Ed is good for his watchdogging of our various rights here, Orac is great for his woo takedowns, and you help to provide some of the more thoughtful moments (the religion and science post was excellent, and should be required reading for many folks). So, ignore the BS, and keep your blog running here for those of us who like our science related blogging all in one place, and appreciate your contributions to this strange/weird/intelligent community.


Blogs, forums and what not are a bit like cars; as soon as people get in them, they seem to abandon many of the social mores that otherwise constrain their behaviours during their day-to-day, face-to-face contact with their fellow human beings. It seems to be an unwelcome behaviour among people regardless of academic stature, which is disappointing, because I think there was a sense that us edumacated sorts might be above that kind of thing. So much for that myth.

There are those who simply fail to make a connection between the instinct that has them voluntarily hold a door open for a fellow peer, and the need to treat that same person with respect even when something, a metal box or an electrical connection, separates their physical being from our own.

It's frustrating, but at the end of the day at least it's a lot easier to ignore a rude, condescending prick on the internet than to ignore the door that was just slammed in your face.

I usually try to avoid jumping in threads just to repeat what has already been said, but as you specifically asked for a dog-pile.

Please don't go, you have fans here and an awesome avatar.

Regarding whatever the (errrr) "heck" it is that was/is bothering you; in situations like that I usually think upon my favourite moral philosopher, Joe Pesci's, famous aphorism;

"**** **! **** ** ** *** ***!"

Which doesnt really contain any answers, but it does help make problems a little bit more bearable

(Given the nature of you dilemma I thought the wholly bowdlerized version safest. For those who are interested, the last word is "ear". Feel free to work the rest out yourself, but please dont post it).

PZ, I don't recall anyone saying anything about you back there in, like, a year at least, and the only time you ever received flack was when you were dishing it out (say, on the subject of religion).

As for Wilkins, I really don't get this. It makes very little sense to me, and seems like pointless drama.

Posted by: John S. Wilkins
.... On the other hand, you are able to console yourself with the umpteen million readers you get, all atheists, in your weekly cheer squad.

Myxlplix may have quantity, you have quality

By Chris' Wills (not verified) on 10 Jun 2008 #permalink

I think the cozy confines of the old forum that existed when SB was young and full of promise is no more. Chalk it up to growing pains, remember all those experiments on overcrowding in rats? The challenge is to make it into something new that works for everybody, or ignore it. At any rate, if you leave who will teach us to spell PZ's last name (a problem way harder than defining what a species is)? Think of all the poor, lost, lonely, wrecked souls desperate for some guidance on how spell his last name. How will we survive without your wisdom and mentoring on the issue?

Chris - I do.

By afarensis (not verified) on 10 Jun 2008 #permalink

I still don't know which forum you're talking about but I wouldn't worry about a few foul-mouthed yahoos and I certainly wouldn't let them push me around.

The thing is, though, if you no longer get anything out of a particular forum then by all means give it up.

Don't give up the blog, though. You and John Pieret provide valuable agnostic counterweights to all those rowdy atheists furballing at Myerkat Manor. I always look in here, even if things like "theoretical objects" are somewhat...challenging. But then I could say the same about some of the biology on Furingular.

Just remember this, although it's not a quote from Chamberlain:

Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never--in nothing, great or small, large or petty--never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.

By Ian H Spedding FCD (not verified) on 10 Jun 2008 #permalink

Humans, I have become increasingly aware, are social dominance apes, and status is crucial to our well being.

We are also curious apes, so in this case the urge to know who did what in the back room threatens to overwhelm the instinct to console a fellow ape... Glad you decided to stay anyway.

There is at least one scienceblogger with a well known penchant for cursing (most evident at his non-SB blog), so I can't help guessing that he's involved.