Pharyngula Fail Redux

Who would have thought that my 5-year-old son could exhibit more mature behaviour than the biggest science blogger on the planet...

We made them cry!

We had a pointless poll post a while back where I pointed you at a silly site that asked what was the best evidence for the afterlife — and you people triumphantly emphasized that there was no evidence.

Amusingly, the guy who runs the site is now whining about the attention we gave him.

...Oh, and of course he has deleted all of your votes from the old poll. We are victorious!

What an advertisement for science and reason Pharyngula is.

(Update: I've attempted to discuss the topic in the comments to the Pharyngula story (#40 and #97 being the initial attempts at dialogue), but it appears the intellectual high ground these days is fairly low-lying and swampy. Please note that I'm not advocating TDGers post comments there, just noting that I have commented there and been responded to, if you wish to read through the 'discussion'. One day of that is enough though, so I'm moving on.)

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red pill junkie's picture
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Pharyngulized

I haven't found it in any dictionary yet, but maybe the meaning is something like "indoctrinating people to the unquestionable validity of Atheism by resorting to childish pranks instead of civil discussion".

Myers should get his own show on MTV.

-----
It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie

Veovisc's picture
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So because I found your site via a blog post written by someone with a viewpoint that is contrary to yours, my vote is not valid? Firstly, there was no disclaimer informing would-be voters that they had to read literature on the subject before they could vote. Your removal of such votes is far more childish and hypocritical than the actions of a blogger who did you the favor of drawing attention and traffic to you.

Even with the silliness of requiring voters (after the fact) to be well-versed in the endless human-born hopes and ideas aside, it so happens that I AM well-read in the subject of the afterlife. It was something that drew me in with more than a simple interest after the death of my middle-aged mother due to cancer, whom I was very close to, and whose death devastated me. I've read religious and philosophical texts, read pop-science and even pseudoscientific books on it, as well as ones that debunk the now-tired claims of supernaturalism. I even researched the hallucinogen DMT after reading Dr.Strassman's book that surmises near-death experiences (like alien abduction experiences) could be the result of endogenous DMT secreted by the pineal gland. (And right there we have an infinitely more likely explanation for NDE's which is the leading source of convincing "evidence" according to those who voted and weren't deleted from the poll). Despite my fervent hope to find some real evidence of life after death, I was disappointed, though not surprised, to find that there is none. Every shred of supposed evidence is nothing more than hearsay and anecdote when examined by eyes that have been trained to see past bias and wishful thinking. This leads me to believe that it's not me, nor is it the others who found your poll through pharyngula that are not well-read on the subject of life after death. It is you. For reading any number of books that make tenuous connections and take leaps of faith, and write out anecdote after anecdote... that is not actually reading up on the subject, at least not in a way that would allow you to conclude whether the "evidence" of an afterlife is valid or not. No more so than reading Anne Rice novels (which I greatly enjoy) would educate a person as to the existence or nonexistence of vampires. By deleting the votes which did not jive with your wishful-thinking, you unambiguously reveal the fact that your only interest is in reconfirming your own bias, and not actually in gathering informed opinions. But that's nothing new, and is in fact something I, and I assume most of the other readers of pharyngula encounter with sad frequency. I understand your perspective all too well, because it is still excrutiatingly painful at times to realize that I never will get to talk to my Mom again. It takes courage to face the fact that this life is the only one we're going to get, and I sincerely hope that you find that courage. Your petty insults and nonsensical accusations shows you have not yet found it. And you won't find it in the pages of books or blog posts written by fellow wishful-thinkers.

P.S. How can you expect comments from people who presumably do not wish to register for a site that's based on a premise they disagree with, but must register in order to comment? Notice that registration is NOT required for commenting at pharyngula.

Rick MG's picture
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Veovisc wrote:

Firstly, there was no disclaimer informing would-be voters that they had to read literature on the subject before they could vote.

So you vote on a topic you know nothing about? That's not informed, that's boorish. You really are saying, "Don't bother me with the evidence, my mind is already made up", and then proceeding to convince everyone else of your omniscience. Oh well, if you don't want to read the many books and papers on the topic of life after death, then it's your loss.

AlphaMale's picture
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hey, go read a book on dinosaurs and then dig around a little bit in your backyard. If you don't find any, they never existed. Thats the logic you are following. You READ about DMT but have you ever INGESTED DMT. Surprise surprise, there is a faculty that extends beyond logic and reason. It's supra-rational and relies on a higher operating faculty you obviously don't possess and are incapable of ever cultivating because you are closed to such an experience, be it because you are a coward or prideful.

We are talking about two different kinds of people here: thinkers vs. knowers.
You can read books about apples and look at pictures of them, but don't confuse that with tasting. So there are people who have tasted and seen. You count your INexperience as evidence that somehow invalidates everyone elses. How does that work? Tell me?

Veovisc's picture
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Well, I can see that few if any here actually ARE interested in discussion, since so far I see only more of the petty insults I've already pointed out. I also see responses that indicate the poster read only the first few sentences of my post before deciding what I had written might be too much of a threat to her/his wishful thinking. Rick MG, if you had continued to read, you would have seen that I am far from uninformed on the subject. I also see someone actually trying rather pathetically to make a point by impersonating my nickname. It is disappointing to see that everything I wrote must have passed way above most of your heads, considering the laughably pathetic methods you use in an attempt to counter my arguments, which amount to nothing more than personal attacks. This is clearly no place for intelligent discussion, but as I already suspected, just a place to reconfirm your own faulty hopes.

For the person impersonating my nickname, yes I have in the past ingested DMT. I have also experimented in the past with Salvia divinorum (on a number of occasions), peyote (not quite as much), and others (to varying degree). Similar results can also be achieved via lack of sleep or sensory deprivation, and all of which is rationally explained without invoking silly things like ghosts. I find it rather sad, but slightly amusing at the same time that you accuse me of only reading books and not experiencing these things, when in fact, the whole point of even saying I had read these things was because the original poster of the poll deleted votes with the excuse that those who didn't vote the way he wanted weren't aware of the literature on the subject! Can you REALLY not see how foolish and hypocritical you are? No, I am not closed to experience, I can just recognize the fallibility of personal experience, and how much wishful thinking can obscure the reality of the situation. Things which you are apparently completely unaware of, judging by your post. It's understandable, though, considering that "personal experience" is the only place you have left to hide, because your notions have been completely invalidated by every objective method of examination.

Lastly, it is not hard to be open-minded if by open-minded you mean willing to accept nonsense because it sounds nice. That's easy. It is much more difficult to find evidence and accept what it shows you, even if you don't like it. It was difficult for me, but apparently it is a little too difficult for AlphaMale.

If there is anyone who regularly posts here that IS capable of intelligent conversation, I urge you to question the company you keep, for there are far greener pastures of intellect out there. I'm hoping that the least intelligent happen to have just been the first to reply, but I don't think it would be very rewarding to stick around and find out. I don't have to be a medium to predict that I'll just get more yawn-inducing personal attacks long before I receive a thought-provoking response. Enjoy your delusions, everyone.

red pill junkie's picture
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We do not censor or influence the members' responses to comments, provided they keep it civil and not openly hostile toward the other person—be confident that if anyone begins to call you names or insult you, we will do something about it.

I read both of your posts in its entirety. I found them eloquent and interesting. I would have preferred if you had voiced your thoughts beforehand after following Myer's queue of crashing our poll, not AFTER he giggled about it.

I would like to engage in a conversation, but alas currently I'm somewhat busy, and later I need to prepare tomorrow's News briefs (there will be quite a few science-related stories BTW).

I would encourage you to stick around for a while. You might just find out this is not the woo woo place you might have initially thought it was. This might surprise you, but some of our most esteemed members are die-hard skeptics concerning the so-called 'paranormal' stuff.

-----
It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie

AlphaMale's picture
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Ed: Keep it civil please, post edited per TDG policy.

Wow, You know so much, that apparently microscopes and telescopes coupled with mathematical formulae are enough to convince you there's no "god" ... And about ingesting entheogens; obviously it ain't a fer sure fire way to open the mind to supra-rational experiences and it apparently did little to jumpstart you in any manner, but there is a rich history of archetypal experiences regarding gnosis that do not fit into language and cannot be measured with your lab equipment (your tools of measurement are limited by the mind that uses them). So you're [prideful] and angry that you are apparently incapable of accessing latent capabilites inherent in us all, doesn't mean men before you haven't reached a silent state of knowing. You confuse your words with the-thing-itself when in reality, the "truth" you seek is silent and incapable of adequate expression. It's kinda like love..oh but wait, love is just a chemical reaction in the brain and part of an evolutionary mechanism to bond animals for reproduction and raising young.

Greg's picture
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Veovisc wrote:

So because I found your site via a blog post written by someone with a viewpoint that is contrary to yours, my vote is not valid? Firstly, there was no disclaimer informing would-be voters that they had to read literature on the subject before they could vote. Your removal of such votes is far more childish and hypocritical than the actions of a blogger who did you the favor of drawing attention and traffic to you.

Hi Veovisc,

Thanks for taking the time to post your thoughts. As I've addressed this criticism elsewhere, I'll just copy it below:

"Thanks for your comment. Let's just cut to the chase here - it seems my honesty is being impugned (rather vociferously in the Pharyngula comments) because I modified a poll, on which so many Pharyngulites claim to have given their genuine views.

I would counter that any poll-crashing which is introduced (by Myers) with the words "pointless poll" wouldn't be worth all the angst. But further, I would say that Myers' introuction...

"I voted for no evidence. If you vote otherwise, maybe you can come back here and explain your evidence to us. We need a good laugh on a Saturday morning"

...would hardly be conducive to providing honest results either. Let's not get self-righteous here, when the Pharyngula voters knew exactly what the intent was. It was herd-voting...if you're concerned because your individual 'genuine' vote was lost, then I suggest not participating in such childish group-think next time."

Quote:

it so happens that I AM well-read in the subject of the afterlife...Despite my fervent hope to find some real evidence of life after death, I was disappointed, though not surprised, to find that there is none. Every shred of supposed evidence is nothing more than hearsay and anecdote when examined by eyes that have been trained to see past bias and wishful thinking.

I am hopeful that you will stick around and share your knowledge with the rest of us. I've read quite a bit on the subject myself, and I wouldn't exactly agree with you (although I agree on a number of points, such as too much of the evidence is based on anecdote...although conversely that's what happens when scientific orthodoxy refuses to allow a subject to be properly studied). So I'm sure we could have some constructive discussions on the topic.

Quote:

By deleting the votes which did not jive with your wishful-thinking, you unambiguously reveal the fact that your only interest is in reconfirming your own bias, and not actually in gathering informed opinions...I understand your perspective all too well, because it is still excrutiatingly painful at times to realize that I never will get to talk to my Mom again. It takes courage to face the fact that this life is the only one we're going to get, and I sincerely hope that you find that courage. Your petty insults and nonsensical accusations shows you have not yet found it. And you won't find it in the pages of books or blog posts written by fellow wishful-thinkers.

I think you're being presumptuous - how do you know what my thinking is (and whether it's wishful or not), what my bias is, my perspective, what I have read, and whether I need to find courage. Stick around and let's chat for a while...then you get a chance to talk about me.

Quote:

P.S. How can you expect comments from people who presumably do not wish to register for a site that's based on a premise they disagree with, but must register in order to comment? Notice that registration is NOT required for commenting at pharyngula.

Pharyngula must have a better spam filter than me. Because I couldn't keep up with the hours required to delete all the spam I had. That's the only reason for registration.

Quote:

If there is anyone who regularly posts here that IS capable of intelligent conversation, I urge you to question the company you keep, for there are far greener pastures of intellect out there.

I don't get that logic. Have you seen the 'intelligent conversation' that I'm enjoying at Pharyngula? You hang out there, and yet very few commenters seem capable of adding too much of substance. What's the difference between abusive people there, and those that you dislike here?

Quote:

I don't have to be a medium to predict that I'll just get more yawn-inducing personal attacks long before I receive a thought-provoking response. Enjoy your delusions, everyone.

Call me psychic, but I think I know why you're likely to get more yawn-inducing personal attacks. It could things like that last sentence you tacked on there...

Putting the ball back in your court, and shifting the topic a little. Do you think that P.Z. Myers' approach is helping to popularise science and minimise irrational thinking with the general public?

Kind regards,
Greg
-------------------------------------------
You monkeys only think you're running things

Thorsten's picture
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Your removal of such votes is far more childish and
hypocritical than the actions of a blogger who did
you the favor of drawing attention and traffic to you.

What kind of "favor" are we talking about ? Slandering,
insulting and downgrading someone is also drawing attention
and traffic to someone, isn't it ? You're defending "the
actions of a blogger" regardless of its purposes. It sounds
awfully like a bully defense.
The problem here is that you are unable to see your action
from a distance. If Elvis fans are downgrading a critical book of Elvis on Amazon (just an example) or Scientology adherents buy "Battlefield Earth" DVDs to push the movie,
they are also using their vote. But they fail to see that
by their actions they made *that* worthless in which they are participating because polls or ratings should give an
indication about the quantity or quality of someone. If it is heavily skewed, it loses any sense, so poll-crashing is purely destructive.

Even with the silliness of requiring voters (after the
fact) to be well-versed in the endless human-born hopes
and ideas aside, it so happens that I AM well-read in
the subject of the afterlife.

What kind of literature have you used exactly ? Your
enumeration is a bit wishy-washy.

(And right there we have an infinitely more likely
explanation for NDE's which is the leading source of
convincing "evidence" according to those who voted and
weren't deleted from the poll).

Does not help if the NDE isn't drug-induced, but a result of clinical death like that in the Pam Reynolds case.

Every shred of supposed evidence is nothing more than
hearsay and anecdote when examined by eyes that have
been trained to see past bias and wishful thinking.

The "trained" eyes don't see their own bias and wishful
thinking. Hardcore skeptics are exactly as gullible for
their pet theories and worldviews as esoteric people.
Unconvinced ? Get to one of your skeptical friends alone
and tell him that XYZ debunked Sheldrake and give a
completely invented source. They will never ask nor
try to confirm it, but greedily accept it.

Your petty insults and nonsensical accusations shows
you have not yet found it.

When did Greg insulted you ?

Notice that registration is NOT required for commenting
at pharyngula.

Because you will be insulted and attacked so you must be brave or dumb to try to comment against the PZ minions.
What kind of people are suggesting: "I want my commenters to be uncivil" ? What kind of people have a "dungeon" in which people are banned if they are saying anything which
is not liked ? Why is Pharyngula displaying any contrary opinion with the troll image and all his opponents are
"whining" etc. ? It's not a wonder that PZ is surrounded by
a bunch of jerks.

mdarnton's picture
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Interesting bunch of letters over there. Now I know where all the bullies went after they left the playground.

AlphaMale's picture
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makes one wonder how humans have progressed so far when
the internet seems to be teeming with idiots such as this. Really, just
how hard is it to be open minded?

mlfoley's picture
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I'm a huge fan of both TDG and Pharyngula and I check them both daily in Google Reader.

Pharyngula's push for 'evangelistic atheism,' though, always agitates me. I have no problem with crashing polls about, say, gay marriage on right-wing/fundie sites, but this business with crashing the poll on TDG is really childish.

Gay rights, creationism, etc. are all issues that affect us every day, and bigots and the stupid try to condone the most radical of views and force them on society. Crashing their polls is always fun - but a poll about the possibility of life after death?

There's nothing harmful there, there's no good reason to crash it. I suspect that PZ simply enjoys making chaos in this instance, rather than actually trying to do something worthwhile, like links to homophobic "Focus on the Family" nonsense. Sounds like he's buying a bit into his own myth and aiming to become the "skeptical internet troll," in which case, I feel sorry for him.

--

Rev. Michael L. Foley
http://mlfoley.livejournal.com

Master Raven's picture
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PZ Myers is making himself look like a fool. This is uncalled for.

missgosling's picture
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"We made them cry" must truly be the lowest level of academic debate that I've ever had the misfortune to read. However, it is quite illuminating. When apparently rational adults descend to petty insults, it usually means that deep down they are unsure about the cogency of their own arguments, and feel threatened by someone who can see their weaknesses.

RonB's picture
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...is that afterlife is kind of a small topic here. It just happened to come up recently. But BAM out of nowhere it becomes this giant issue because of the "religious" response by P.Z. Myers whom to be honest I had never heard of until this came up. But really, I think you'd end up finding arguments on both sides of the topic on this site. I don't think we're pro after-life enthusiasts here.

In any case, I'd be up for a discussion about it if people didn't come in here with all guns blazing as if we're totally hard nosed after-lifers. I know I'm on the fence on the entire subject. And for sure the "Aw, we made them cry" crap is just something I'm going to steer clear of because it indicates something other than maturity and actual discussion.

Paul N's picture
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Dear Greg

This infantile behavior has caused me to jump from the fence and register along with a donation of support. Your knowledge and well reasoned commentary on the many subjects posted here are both refreshing, articulate, thought provoking and often humorous.I find your website to be my most frequented source of internet entertainment. I hope that Pharyngula may prompt many others to do the same and boost your support. Keep up the good work.

Greg's picture
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Paul N wrote:

This infantile behavior has caused me to jump from the fence and register along with a donation of support. Your knowledge and well reasoned commentary on the many subjects posted here are both refreshing, articulate, thought provoking and often humorous.

Thanks Paul, appreciate the sentiments, even if you did talk me up to the point of making me go red. ;)

Kind regards,
Greg
-------------------------------------------
You monkeys only think you're running things

Rick MG's picture
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There's no need to post any more replies to this nonsense, the Wizard of Pharyngula and his flying monkeys are digging their own graves (pun intended) like real troopers. That's what happens when you fling pooh on a windy day.

Greg's picture
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Rick MG wrote:

There's no need to post any more replies to this nonsense, the Wizard of Pharyngula and his flying monkeys are digging their own graves (pun intended) like real troopers. That's what happens when you fling pooh on a windy day.

I don't think they are digging their own graves so much...I'm sure they'll happily continue in the same vein in future, believing they are in the right. The correct metaphor might be that much poo is getting thrown around in the Pharyngula forest, and the monkeys are loving the exercise.

As an outside reader, I'm boggling a bit. Supposedly the home of science and reason, and it's almost at the level of YouTube comments.

Kind regards,
Greg
-------------------------------------------
You monkeys only think you're running things

flyingmonkey's picture
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All your polls are belong to us.

Donnie's picture
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What is the proof you have of an afterlife? I'm looking for an honest answer. No snark or insults. Is it just hope?
Donnie

Rick MG's picture
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Greg posted the poll to ask what TDG readers think, to promote discussion, and he gave a fair variety of responses -- including no evidence. There's nothing in the poll that says, "The Afterlife exists, vote for it!"

The topic is Greg's forte, and I'm sure he'll post a variety of sources. Whether it's survival of consciousness, existence of the soul, an afterlife in the religious fashion, or nothing -- I don't think we can authoritively say one way or the other, it's still very much a mystery. But there is a wealth of research on the topic by reputable and objective scientists that suggests we don't just die like batteries, something continues, and it is worth investigating.

Cheers,

Rick

Greg's picture
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Donnie wrote:

What is the proof you have of an afterlife? I'm looking for an honest answer. No snark or insults. Is it just hope?

Hi Donnie,

Thanks for the lack of snark, it's a pleasant change after the past couple of days.

I don't think anyone here claims to have proof of an afterlife (or if they do, they would be in the minority). The poll asks what is the 'best evidence' for the hypothesis - which is not the same as stating there is proof (a point which many Pharynguloids seem to be missing rather badly).

I'm sure a number of contributors have personal 'proof', through their own experiences - I've heard numerous tales of anecdotal evidence that go close to personally convincing me (that is, not scientifically, but on a judgement call), given my respect for those person's character and judgement. And while I seem to be a repeller of anything paranormal, and thus highly skeptical, being around my wife (who seems to be the opposite) for a decade now has given me some insights into how personal experience can be quite convincing.

But if you are looking for something to sink your teeth into, the research into mediumship by the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) is a good place to start. In particular, the investigation into the mediumship of Leonora Piper. Under scrutiny of some of the greatest minds of the previous century, including Nobel Prize winners, for over two decades (as well as being shadowed by detectives to detect fraud), across two different continents, producing evidential material constantly, plus doing things like having three 'communicators' come through simultaneously to three different sitters (one using the voice, and one for each hand writing simultaneously) while in trance. The writing was also sometimes in 'mirror' version. Even if there is a prosaic explanation for Mrs. Piper, it's still fascinating (ie. either genuine mediumship, incredible latent abilities of the brain, or what would have to be the greatest fraud of all time).

Just please do not quote Martin Gardner's supposed 'debunking' of Mrs Piper, which is one of the most intellectually dishonest/lazy (either option is bad for Gardner's esteemed reputation among the skeptical community) skeptical efforts I've ever seen (and I'll be happy to take you on point by point if you disagree). Read the source material (starting with the papers of the principal investigator, Richard Hodgson) if you are genuine in wanting to learn more (or perhaps you already have, and are simply asking for my own personal take...I'd hate to assume anything about your own knowledge base).

Having said that, Piper was a century ago, and while I find the case fascinating (and in many ways convincing), I'd need to see a modern-day equivalent to be truly convinced.. Julie Beischel is apparently doing some good modern day research into mediumship with the Windbridge Institute.

Robert Crookall wrote some interesting papers in the 1950s and 1960s about the commonalities found in mediumship accounts, and accounts of 'pseudo-death' (later to enter the public consciousness as 'near-death experiences'). Crookall's regular quoting of Christian scripture is enough to let you know that he is hardly unbiased, but the data he uncovered are worth contemplating all the same - the OBE, the tunnel, the white light, meeting of loved ones, the 'silver cord', and the life review were all mentioned in early mediumship accounts, well before the phenomenology of NDEs were laid out (even though subsequent historical reviews have shown that the NDE phenomenology can be found over many centuries). Again, not convincing evidence in any sense, but interesting enough to make me look deeper for an explanation.

On NDEs, there is currently a study being undertaken across several hospitals to test whether patients undergoing the OBE component of the NDE can see hidden targets. As far as I am aware, no evidence has come from that as yet (though it has only just expanded to a full-blown study). Apart from that, I find the phenomenology of the NDE very interesting - at the time of death (or perceived imminent death), a number of distinct but regular components all occur - most of which for some reason suggest to the experiencer that there is something beyond death (e.g. finding oneself outside their body, meeting deceased loved ones, reviewing the complete life experience, meeting a 'being of light' offering 'unconditional love'). That in itself is worthy of further investigation. All current 'prosaic' explanations for the NDE have been found wanting (that is, on their own unable to explain the complete phenomenology), although they do offer paths for further research. This is why I have trouble with people who say we shouldn't even be studying these topics.

I'm not as well read on reincarnation as I am on mediumship and NDEs. The obvious place to start with though is the work of the late Dr Ian Stevenson. A number of his papers (as well as associated ones from others involved in reincarnation research) are online in PDF format at the website of the Journal of Scientific Exploration. The cases of birthmarks matching up to injuries in 'previous lives' is quite interesting.

I'm not familiar with too much scientific investigation of 'ghosts'. I don't think too much of EVP personally, though I'm probably guilty of forming an opinion early and not reading too much about it thereafter as a consequence.

So my vote at this stage for the "best evidence of an afterlife" would be mediumship. But that's what I've read most deeply on as well, so that could be just a statement of my own ignorance on the other topics. None of them though, at this stage, offer what I would call contemporary scientific proof (the well-regarded members of the SPR decided a century ago that the proof had been found though, so that's an issue of time and the doubts that come with it, as much as it is anything). But certainly, many facets suggestive of something interesting which should be studied honestly and without bias.

Hope this is of assistance to you.

Kind regards,
Greg
-------------------------------------------
You monkeys only think you're running things

jonny-boy's picture
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this nonsense from myers really ticked-me-off, greg :( i hate people who throw a punch and then act all self-righteous when their victim dares to complain about it.

i'm an atheist/materialist and i don't behave like that when debating with people who don't share my views. consequently i wrote a post to the myers forum and then made good on my promise to also post at the main dawkins forum:

http://richarddawkins.net/forum/viewtopi...

best wishes, mate.

jon

Greg's picture
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jonny-boy wrote:

i'm an atheist/materialist and i don't behave like that when debating with people who don't share my views. consequently i wrote a post to the myers forum and then made good on my promise to also post at the main dawkins forum:

Cheers Jon. I think we all have the capability of acting up occasionally, so I'm certainly not too judgemental of the initial instances. But after a few days, it becomes tiresome when people continue on in the same mode. And, as I've pointed out, it's hardly a good advertisement for 'rationalists' to be acting in that manner.

I would say too that there is an element of frustration that drives me in my responses. I can look at the YouTube comments section, and just wave the hand and say to myself "you people are morons". Pharynguloids don't have that excuse - most of them are highly educated and intelligent. And yet a large proportion of them seem oblivious to the fact that they have their own belief system, and act like children when they defend it - almost a mirror image of the Fundamentalist kooks in fact. In my eyes, they should know better, given (a) their intelligence and (b) their driving motivation to not be a believer.

Appreciate you taking the time to write, at the very least to remind us that we should be careful not to generalise about a certain community based on the actions of one particular (though sizeable) group.

Kind regards,
Greg
-------------------------------------------
You monkeys only think you're running things

jonny-boy's picture
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dear me :( what a dreadful, miserable and unfortunate ride that turned out to be. if you've followed the thread linked above, i've nearly been driven to accepting TM...Scientology...or even maybe The Anglican Church lol... just about anything to distance myself from the narrow-minded rubbish i've faced today at the dawkins forum. the closest thing i can compare it to was being in a fundie' church when i was a kid. 'welcome in amongst the pod people'. i half expected donald sutherland to appear with a copy of the selfish gene.

anyway, just like on the damn tv show, i phoned a friend this evening and had a chat with him about the whole sorry debacle (i don't do existential crises very well and i usually need support :-). in his opinion i should chill-out and take RAW's view: people in fixed reality tunnels just like to shore 'em up. he may have a point, actually.

that PZ character is something else - really - he's the most evasive, sneaky, underhanded person i've ever tried to present with a really very simple premise. 'i accuse you of treating dailygrail unfairly!' 'what's that you say...i've received mail from someone called shirley???' etc. it just went on and on.

following close behind came the forumites. brown-nosing all the way (let's stay close to richard everybody) and i was treated to them turning every single post through every single position so that they could dishonestly (finally) exclude the one i'd intended. eventually i wondered if hadn't accidentally dropped acid or something.

(greg - you were right to get out of there, mate! sticking around too long might possibly cause mental illness!)

y'know what's so depressing about this, though? a coupla years back i'd have gone to the wall for these people and defended them (and myself) as 'brights'. i had a bit of the lustre kicked off that with some of the stuff i've seen through the local BHA but nothing at all like this. those people more properly qualify as the 'dims' or perhaps a few expletives i don't use online.

so - lesson learned. i will not be contributing there again. i have, however, included my email details in a PM to you over there greg. would love you to get in touch if you ever have the time. your site is great and i wish you well with it.

best wishes--jon

earthling's picture
Member since:
22 November 2004
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This isn't really in response to anyone in particular.

But I would suggest another poll:

Who believes that voting for or against life after death has any consequence for the existence of life after death?

I would guess that some people actually believe we can vote it in or out.

----
It is not how fast you go
it is when you get there.

Greg's picture
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30 April 2004
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earthling wrote:

But I would suggest another poll:

Who believes that voting for or against life after death has any consequence for the existence of life after death?

Thanks for the giggle.
:)

Kind regards,
Greg
-------------------------------------------
You monkeys only think you're running things

Greg's picture
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jonny-boy wrote:

dear me :( what a dreadful, miserable and unfortunate ride that turned out to be.

Hi JB,

Anybody who's studied the history of religion knows how apostates are treated by religious groups. Seems like you just got personal experience of it. I think a few of them probably even lit torches and got pitchforks, just in case...
;)

Quote:

that PZ character is something else - really - he's the most evasive, sneaky, underhanded person i've ever tried to present with a really very simple premise.

Hey, he couldn't be! He's the treasured defender of rationalism and truth...even Richard Dawkins vouches for him.

Quote:

i was treated to them turning every single post through every single position so that they could dishonestly (finally) exclude the one i'd intended. eventually i wondered if hadn't accidentally dropped acid or something.

Heh, bit surreal for you I'll bet. Welcome to the last ten years of my life.

Just don't bother trying - it's quite clear that you can't have a reasonable discussion (which would be rather funny, if it wasn't so tragic, given that you were posting at the forum of 'The Richard Dawkins Foundation for *Reason* and Science'). It's like a regression to grade school - "we're laughing at you!". The Goddess of Reason must be curled up in a corner in the fetal position, whimpering.

Personally, I prefer people to show intelligence, rather than to just claim it. But they seem happy (as do monkeys throwing faeces at each other).

Quote:

y'know what's so depressing about this, though? a coupla years back i'd have gone to the wall for these people and defended them (and myself) as 'brights'. i had a bit of the lustre kicked off that with some of the stuff i've seen through the local BHA but nothing at all like this. those people more properly qualify as the 'dims' or perhaps a few expletives i don't use online.

Welp, that's the future of the humanist/atheist movement at the moment. Bound to win people over I say. More power to them!

This neatly sums up the reality tunnel most of those there are stuck in. I head over to Pharyngula after seeing people whining and gnashing their teeth about me, and posted:

"I can see that I've provoked much frustration and righteous indignation amongst the Pharyngula community. Apologies for putting a dent in your sense of entitlement. Rather than blindly wailing away about the injustice of it all, you may now direct your complaints/questions to me personally."

For the next couple of hundred comments, they all did so - whining, insulting, acting like children etc. And Paul Zachary now says that I turned up whining at his site. Reality check required, or at the very least a new pair of reading glasses.

The depressing thing is these guys are regarded by many as the authorities on 'rational thinking' and skepticism, when really, they're just the mirror image of their Fundie enemies. What hope do we have in that case...

Kind regards,
Greg
-------------------------------------------
You monkeys only think you're running things

Thorsten's picture
Member since:
15 June 2008
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Hi John,

made a jump to RD.net and saw *this*:

I avoid censoring comments, and only ban users and remove posts from the more rabid trolls. Would you like it if I decided I didn't like what you had posted, and therefore was warranted in going in and changing your words to whatever I felt like? I give the same hands-off approach to other's posts that I give to yours, and that is not going to change.

You really don't understand the concept of free speech, do you?

Ahem....free speech advocator?

(Always add "http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/" to
the link)

Let's cite from the "Dungeon":
/plonk.php

Caledonian
Years of smugly tedious comments from this obsessive passive-agressive whiner are enough. The guy puts up 25-30 comments a day, all calculated to annoy and fuel long drawn-out threads where he offers nothing but snideness — he's nothing but a bitter noise-maker who poisons discussions.

J.J. Ramsey
Wouldn't normally have been subject to banning, but chose to insult my daughter here, several times, after being warned. If you must insult my family, do it to their faces so they can kick your ass; it's cowardly to try and do it in front of me.

Ok, Caledonian is such a vile commentor and it took several years to recognize that he must be banned. But PZ did nothing against him until...

2007/10/cshl_acts_against_watson.php
Myers:
"I disagree with Watson passionately, and he is completely wrong in his opinions about Africa and women and who knows what else…but he has the right to say it, just as we have the right to disagree vehemently and volubly with him.
[...].You have to be able to tolerate the tenure of assholes in order to have the possibility of heroes[Emphasis mine]."

Caledonian did in fact defended Watson's viewpoint and Myers
reacted:
"I've long considered Caledonian a dishonest, pretentious ass, and he every once in a while reveals a level of bigotry that would make him right at home in the KKK, but I abstain from banning the jerk on the same principle that I defend Watson's right to be a jerk[Emphasis mine]."

Got it ?

A short time later Caledonian *was* banned.

And Ramsey ?
2007/01/ron_numbers_another_tool_of_th.php#comment-305257

He gave a snarky response defining "strident" by citing Myers daughter and calling her behavior "immature".
Out of line, but no personal insult.

He was banned *immediately*. There were no "several" insults
and he was *not* warned, this is pure fiction of PZ.

And then:

2007/09/sunday_sermonskit.php

TSK attacked Myers viewpoint, but he did not insult him.
Already in the second response he is threatened to be
banned (and Myers didn't even understand the cautious
response).

Greg's picture
Member since:
30 April 2004
Last activity:
46 min 13 sec
Thorsten wrote:

Ahem....free speech advocator?

Hi Thorsten,

I'd be a little more forgiving on the banning/free speech issue - having run TDG for so long, and having moderated a number of mailing lists, I can testify that it's a tough gig. Rules for banning always end up a little vague, and one person's bannable offence is another's justifiable response. So, personally, I'm not going to criticise Myers on the charge of hypocrisy on that front.

Having said that, I will criticise him for trotting out "free speech" as a spurious defence for not censoring comments or banning people. It would be fair enough - although not always practical (as you've shown) - if he made some attempt to encourage civil discussion. Instead, he allows vulgar insults to be thrown around without making a point that - as the owner of the site - he'd appreciate if people were more civil. But the case is even worse than that - Myers actively encourages his community to act like children ("We Made Them Cry!"), and abuses/insults people that are at the wrong end of that offensive behaviour. It's almost comedic, given the prestige Pharyngula carries.

In short: not only does he try not to ban offensive behaviour, he actually encourages it. You can actually almost see the blood lust kicking in when things start hotting up.

Kind regards,
Greg
-------------------------------------------
You monkeys only think you're running things

Thorsten's picture
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15 June 2008
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3 years 37 weeks
Greg wrote:
Thorsten wrote:

Ahem....free speech advocator?

Hi Thorsten,

I'd be a little more forgiving on the banning/free speech issue - having run TDG for so long, and having moderated a number of mailing lists, I can testify that it's a tough gig. Rules for banning always end up a little vague, and one person's bannable offence is another's justifiable response. So, personally, I'm not going to criticise Myers on the charge of hypocrisy on that front.

I know that people are quarreling because they feel censored, but I also know that a blog isn't a free speech zone. So defending a ban is not such a problem. But if a moderator puts "free speech" out of his hat to defend himself, but ignores "free speech" if he feels offended, well....
Ok, I think the people here can understand that a tiresome
troll and even slight snarks at the family can trigger a ban, but TSK ? He attacked Myers viewpoint and...gasp...he tried to read his mind (which is even doubtful) ??!

Greg wrote:

[...] But the case is even worse than that - Myers actively encourages his community to act like children ("We Made Them Cry!"), and abuses/insults people that are at the wrong end of that offensive behaviour.

"I want my commenters to be uncivil."
PZ Myers.

But I think you have chosen the wrong action. It would have been easiest to remove the poll entirely with an innocous one (Noone said how long it should reside, so no fancied "offense"), wait until the dust settled (No Pharyngulites will read anything here anyway) and restore it one or two weeks later.
Strangely PZ now cannot get enough from TDG. He had now
posted the *third* entry and tries with all his foreseeable might (insult as usual) to get a reaction from you and the people here. I hope that anyone here is smart enough to ignore Myers siren songs.

Driftwood's picture
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My goodness, what a shitstorm this has become...somewhat sad that it's this kind of thing that prompts me to write my first comment here, but oh well.

Anyway, an idea just crossed my mind. There's probably some shortcomings to it, I'm really too tired at the moment to think it through - but it seems better anyway to just put it out here and hear some opinions on it. So the poll was initially aimed at - though not restricted to - the TDG community, and maybe the occasional passer-by. One of these has pointed "his community", which has a very specific opinion about the matter of this poll, to said poll - and thus taken this beyond the TDG community. Now since the monkeys have returned, and this is most likely gonna result in Greg again having to modify the poll - why not roll with it and keep it expanding beyond the TDG community, instead of trying to keep it restricted, if that doesn't seem to be this particular poll's fate ? People here could just contact blogs or forums that would have an interest in the topic of the poll, and point them here, maybe explaining shortly what has happened here over the last days. The Pharyngulans have repeatedly defended their actions by pointing out how the poll is not restricted to registered users, and how it's normal for polls to be linked and mentioned elsewhere - so they should have nothing to object against this solution, at least not as much as to Greg deleting votes again (an act which I perfectly understand - but well, explain it to the poo-throwers). Like I said, I guess this is not a flawless idea, and for sure Greg should be stating his opinion on it before anybody does anything.

Besides that, good job Greg at keeping a clear head and the high ground in this whole matter. I have been enjoying this site for about almost a year now, you and the other guys are doing awesome work here. I must admit to my disgrace that despite that opinion of mine, I still haven't made a donation - my financial situation these days is, uhm, restricted, to say the least. But after once more, in this very clusterfuck that made me post, having seen the value of what you're doing here, I vow to make a donation, if a humble one, possible sometime next month.

@jonny-boy
I've looked over your thread over at the Dawkins forum. I wholeheartedly understand what you're trying to do there, I've been in "discussions" like that repeatedly myself. While I don't wanna presume to be in a position to do so, let me give you the advice...let it go. Learning to let that kind of thing go and just accept these bullies for what they are is the most rewarding, character-building exercise ;).

kamarling's picture
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Driftwood wrote:

@jonny-boy
I've looked over your thread over at the Dawkins forum. I wholeheartedly understand what you're trying to do there, I've been in "discussions" like that repeatedly myself. While I don't wanna presume to be in a position to do so, let me give you the advice...let it go. Learning to let that kind of thing go and just accept these bullies for what they are is the most rewarding, character-building exercise ;).

I couldn't agree more. I remember being intimidated by bullies at school. Angry at the unfairness of it all, I resolved to stand up to them so I had a fist-fight with a ring leader and prevailed that time. However, I only succeeded in attracting the attention of more bullies. Yes, they made me cry.

I'd like to believe that, 45 years on, those boys - now mature - are less than proud of what they did in the schoolyard. But I wouldn't bet my house on it.

Dave.

http://www.davidsmuse.co.uk

Paul N's picture
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Hi Greg

Following the dialogue, or lack there, of on pharyngula has highlighted for me some surprising insight into our human psychology. The internet has provided a window on the uncensored thoughts and biases of people that would be unlikely to state those opinions publicly without hiding behind the anonymity of their username or at least their home address. Some of the sentiments expressed would likely have incurred a smack in the mouth if uttered in the 'real' world. Still it is fascinating if somewhat depressing to witness.
As someone who works in the music business and is familiar with controversy I was reminded of Marylin Manson's ability to shock and inflame the christian evangelists with his antics. He has stated that for him It was like shooting fish in a barrel to get them riled up and generate huge publicity and more notoriety. I do not mean to imply that it is intentional on your part but it would seem that your desire to promote thoughtful discussion on alternative subjects is inadvertently eliciting the same extreme reaction from those that regard you as a heretic of reason. I would suggest that you must be doing something right to incur such a response. Reading some of the posts at Pharyngula it would seem that the more articulate and polite your response the more apoplectic the reaction.
Suffice to say your blog is doing a good job of promoting discussion of the borderlands of science and human experience and the most likely outcome is that many more curious and less vitriolic members of Pharyngula will, having read your responses, now check out your site and find it to be a valuable resource for many fascinating subjects.

I would suggest that the Daily Grail has arrived and you are now firmly on the map. It is time for your detractors to improve their rhetorical skills if they wish to win over the minds of the undecided.

Greg's picture
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46 min 13 sec
Paul N wrote:

I would suggest that the Daily Grail has arrived and you are now firmly on the map. It is time for your detractors to improve their rhetorical skills if they wish to win over the minds of the undecided.

Hi Paul,

The thing is, I'd prefer not to be on the map. I just want to research and discuss all the topics I write about on TDG, without some obnoxious person trying to impose themselves on me (and our community).

Kind regards,
Greg
-------------------------------------------
You monkeys only think you're running things

Thorsten's picture
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15 June 2008
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3 years 37 weeks

...how many people peruse TDG ?

Greg's picture
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30 April 2004
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46 min 13 sec

I haven't checked reports for quite some time, but late last year it swung between 8000 to 15,000 visitors per day.

Kind regards,
Greg
-------------------------------------------
You monkeys only think you're running things

Thorsten's picture
Member since:
15 June 2008
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3 years 37 weeks

Oh, I think I know why PZ is angry: Jon *has* posted my reply on RD.net and the Pharyngulites have linked to it. Sorry Greg if I have caused that you are now the target of PZ's wrath.

Jon, if you hear me: Now it is exactly the time to stop. Walk out, enjoy the time with your SO, listen to music, anything. Nothing you will say can deepen the impact, but lessen it. Heal yourself and have a good time.

jonny-boy's picture
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26 February 2009
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5 years 31 weeks

hi guys,

i did not link to the post but i made reference to it. i also said, as clearly as i could, the same thing i have already - SEVERAL TIMES:

"and once again I will clarify – I am not linked to Greg’s site, do not speak for Greg’s site and I merely decided to speak-up about the postings at Pharyngula due to considerations of my own"

PZ's lumping any comments made by TDG in with mine is yet another example of Myers' and Co. being dishonest, twisting and manipulative. as I've said before - they couldn't care less about telling the truth (so forget about reason and so on) they just want to win and silence criticism. they're like an atheist version of the daleks with just about as many genuine individuals

in any case I have now finished at RDF. it's hardly any better, it's a lost cause so to hell with it. this continues with friends who are annoyed on my behalf. i may even have freelance science journo interested.

sorry if this caused you problems, greg :(

best wishes - jon