Wednesday, August 01, 2012

They Like Me, They Really Like Me!

Well, maybe not all the IDiots really like me but David Klinghoffer is sure a big fan [You Go, Larry Moran!]
Just think. Imagine you're one of those undecided fence-sitters on the Darwin question that he thinks he's appealing to. Or say you're a journalist, reflexively pro-Darwin but one who's never had an occasion to follow the controversy in the past. Now something's come up in the news that touches on evolution and you figure you'll sample the arguments on both sides with a view to writing on it.

You stumble upon the blog, named in honor of Charles Darwin's famous "Sandwalk," of a University of Toronto biochemist and man of mature years who writes this way, over and over and over. He will, for example, reproduce a photo of an Internet Darwin critic with the words "I'm an IDiot" superimposed. This same biochemistry professor and Darwin advocate writes blog posts trying to defend and recommend this approach, including his favorite term "IDiot," to others. Are you impressed? That's a self-answering question.

Of course it would be different if Moran were not a guy who teaches in a relevant scientific field at a university you've heard of. If he were just another one of those pseudonyms that populate comment boxes around the Internet, and who dish out their own vicious/viscous stuff, no one would care. Much as it's distasteful to read Moran's blog (as I very rarely do), there's reason to be grateful for its existence.

Now watch, he's going to trawl the Internet for a picture of me and write "I'm an IDiot" on it and post that.

If I were purely strategic, I would say: Give us more, Larry Moran! Pour it on. Please!
Happy to oblige.

16 comments :

  1. And I wonder what a sensible, rational person would think when they read Klinghoffer's diatribes about how Darwin=Hitler and such.
    Sure, wing-nuts will sign up right away (confirmation bias and all that), but I think the smarter folks would see it as desperation and nonsense.

    You go, Klingy!

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  2. Sam Harris, you have essentially just posted the argument that two 'wrongs' cancel each other out. The meat of Klinghoffer's argument - that the tone of numerous posts here on this blog recalls playground antics - holds weight, I feel.

    Personally, I admit that it was a bit jarring for me to reconcile my initial impression of this site, the cool title, the picture of a man of some years and academic credentials, etc., with the level of snark to be found upon perusal.

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    1. That's funny.

      I'm reading Sandwalk for a few months and I haven't noticed any snarks. ;)

      But seriously - reading Sandwalk I learned a thing or two(*) about evolution and biology, and maybe I am biased, but for me calling ID Creationists IDiots (because they don't understand science and are not willing to learn) wasn't really that important theme in prof. Moran's posts.

      I think it depends on what one is looking for.

      (*) - I'd like to belive that I learned more that one or two things.

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    2. Arek, I concede your point. I've learned some things here too. Anyway, it's a big blogosphere; room for lots of different opinions and perspectives.

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    3. I got a feeling of playground antics here and there. But then I question myself with "Are playground antics always a bad thing that makes everyone involved look worse than when they began?" And I came to the answer that no, this isn't the case.

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  3. my main reason for disagreeing with that sentiment, Anonymous, is because I get the feeling that so much of this name calling and labeling is just like talk radio. People like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh love to roll around in - er - sand, and engage in all the tactics of the playground (the name calling, the sweeping generalizations, etc.), and I don't exactly hold them up as people worth emulating.

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    1. I think you're avoiding the real issue.

      Have people like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh been successful or has their behavior been counter-productive causing people to abandon the cause of right-wing Christian fundamentalism?

      Let me remind you that Glenn Beck wasn't fired from FOX because of calm, rational, arguments that refuted his claims. Those arguments just don't work when you're dealing with conspiracy theories.

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    2. Not avoiding; I don't think that IS the 'real' issue. Have Beck and Rush been successful, both financially and in terms of how they influence the culture? Yes. Is that a good thing? I don't see how. To follow their lead is to engage in a limbo-like descent to the ground, where everybody's head is at ass level.

      Furthermore, they are not academics. They're just loudmouths. Certainly different expectations should be placed upon those who teach, I would think. Lots of pop star 'divas' can win fans by acting and dressing trashy, but that doesn't mean that conductors of metropolitan orchestras should follow suit.

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  4. "Are you impressed? That's a self-answering question."
    .
    No, it is a rhetorical question. What an IDiot.
    .

    Rhetorical question -
    A rhetorical question is a figure of speech in the form of a question that is asked in order to make a point and without the expectation of a reply...

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    1. Let's all assume that the writer knows what a rhetorical question is, and can not be considered an idiot, capitalized or otherwise, on the grounds you are putting forward here. What he probably means to say by 'self-answering question' is that those who ARE impressed reveal something about their own limitations, not those of others.

      This, and the comment by Strider below, is EXACTLY why I warn against all the name calling and sweeping generalizations that are all too common on sites such as this (and I hope Larry Moran is paying attention). One is not even able to rationally appraise the words of another without jumping to conclusions when one has already made up ones mind -through the shorthand of a sophomoric insult - that said other is an inferior person who can't even get the simple things right.

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    2. Let's all assume that the writer knows what a rhetorical question is, and can not be considered an idiot
      .
      I see no cause to make such assumptions when they fly in the face of the available evidence. Whatever he meant to say, he should have said. What he did say does not make a great deal of sense.

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  5. "vicious/viscous"?! What a weird bit of prose!

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    1. He is making fun of the fact that 'vicious' was misspelled as 'viscous' in an earlier post, not pulling it out of thin air.

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  6. I've only recently been visiting this forum (directed by UD forum) and don't notive anything that bad at all.
    I've been on dozens of forums dealing with origin issues and most are very 'tough".
    It probably hurts more if negative words come from more "degree-ed" people.
    People get more hurt by those they expect better treatment.

    YEC folks like me get it worst then anyone but we take it as we are so damn confident we are right.
    Thats what really irritates our opponents.

    i like Rush Limbaugh too although not heard him in a number of years.
    He did persuade and influence people in large numbers.
    Its a skill and not easy to make such great audiences.
    It ain't name calling at all.

    i am willing to contend for creationism here and in a good ole Canadian boy way.
    Too much stuff on genetics however for my taste.
    Genetics is really too atomic still to take its place in discussions of biological origins.

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    1. oh, RB, whatever. I'm 98% convinced your writings here are all put-ons....

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    2. YEC folks like me get it worst then anyone but we take it as we are so damn confident we are right.
      Thats what really irritates our opponents.

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      No, the irritating part is not the confidence per se, but rather the gap between confidence and informedness.

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