Meh. I'm not impressed by the speech.
On the one hand, okay, but on the other hand, as a general rule, the other side is not arguing in good faith. They are having fun toying with the skeptics, making them work hard for no real gain. To them, misbehaving is fun. When their current scheme falls apart, they come back with another one. None of them actually believe what they have faith in.
"Faith is believing in something you know isn't true." -Mark Twain
Yeah, what #2 wrote. On top of that, I think it's stating something which really doesn't need to be stated; it's not as if we have numerous godless people (or skeptical people) being dicks to every religious person (or UFOlogist) around. It's a non-issue and only seems to play into the hands of the people who make the demonstrably false claim about those damned Gnu Atheists (like the Mooneys for example, and I don't mean that Korean cult). Even the infamous PZ's not a dick; only folks who don't want to believe anything he says would say so. He treats the appropriate woo peddlers with contempt, but few with a brain would do otherwise.
The biggest problem I have with the 'don't be dicks/you're not helping' crowd is their constant use of phrases like: Our Goal, The Movement, The Cause. Did I miss the the Great Atheist Convention where the Skeptic Manifesto was drafted? And should't I at least get a chance to vote on its ratification before Phil Plait (or anyone else) appropriates my speech to his cause?
Frankly, I've grown weary of the: 'not all religious people are creationist and would be on our side if we were nice to them' kind of argument. True, the Catholic Church, for example, officially accepts evolution. But it's also rabidly homophobic, so being correct on evolution does not, in any way, put them on 'my' side. (Perhaps I'm the queen Phil is willing to sacrifice in his metaphorical game of chess?)
While I agree that convincing people to accept evolution or to reject some psudo-science nonsense are worthy goals, it doesn't mean that these are my only, or even primary, goals. And sometimes 'dickish' behaviour is not only appropriate, but necessary, to achieving these goals. Do you think we would have advanced as far as we have on civil rights, gay right or women's rights if we had restricted ourselves to trying convert the bigots with polite conversation over cups of tea? (Curious how the more vocal proponents of the 'don't be dicks' meme tend to be straight, white males)
Phil may think it's wrong to march out like warriors ready to do battle because 'this ins't a war', but for some of us (and not by our choosing) it is:
I'm totally a dick.
@RobinSV: Dude - you missed the Great Atheist Convention and the signing of the Manifesto? It was awesome! Wish you were there.
I disagree that the official catholic doctrine is not creationism - it is, it's just pretending not to be. You see, evolution *did* happen, but it was all god's marvelous plan. Unfortunately anyone who accepts that bullshit will likely go for the miracle explanation rather than trying to understand how evolution actually proceeded.
@CyberLizard: Only a dick? What a pussy! I'm an asshole and proud of it.
Interesting talk. I agree with it in principle, but the devil is always in the details. I think Plait is dead right about an increase in negativity among those who speak on behalf of skepticism, however I also think that it's at least partially a response to the fact that the 'other' side (however you want to label them) has gotten a lot more dickish and nasty, as well. I take this as a good sign -- it means that skepticism has grown to be a credible threat to them. For what it's worth, my take-home message from the talk was not so much "don't be a dick', it was, "don't make dickishness your default response to someone who disagrees with you." I agree with that. However, when you are dealing with someone on the 'other' side who has shown no willingness to behave in a non dick-like manner, then I think it's perfectly appropriate to take the gloves off. Where that the threshold occurs depends entirely on the individual.
Doug, I'm not sure why I bothered to write this second response to the speech. You covered it in about 1,000 fewer words. :)
How bout just be who you are whatever you happen to be ready for at that point in time. Way back when I was a believer I certainly was not ready for who I am now. But I agree with not being a dick no matter where you're coming from. Too much concern with command and control and instant transformations is unrealistic. Patient cool persistence.