Gnu Bullies Christian Kids at High School Journalism convention

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21 Responses to Gnu Bullies Christian Kids at High School Journalism convention

  1. Jim says:

    The only reason why I don’t want to call this “bullying” is because it sounds too much like a “help help I’m being repressed” persecution complex.

  2. That isn’t quite true. I watched the whole thing. Dan Savage was pointing out that since we ignore the parts of Leviticus that say to stone disobedient children, and ignore Paul’s letter to Philemon telling him to send Onesimus back into slavery, why are we sticking to the parts of Leviticus and Romans condemning homosexuality?

    So the kids got up and walked out. This, to me, signals a weakness in their faith; if their faith was truly strong, they could listen to Savage’s entire rant (as I did) and not have it bother them.

  3. Michael says:

    Redheadedfemme,

    I understand the point he was trying to make. I’m interested in this as yet another example of how Gnu morality is anchored in justifying the means with the end. In his Gnu mind, Savage felt justified in attacking these students because he could rationalize it as some sort of self-defense. The end justifies the means.

    What’s more, I thought atheists were supposed to have this commitment to evidence. Since Savage attacked this particular group of students at the end of that clip, did he have any evidence that those students were bullies and used Bible verses to justifying their bullying? Or was he simply relying on stereotypes? If it is just the latter, we once again see that the atheist’s commitment to evidence is a sham.

  4. Johnny5 says:

    “So the kids got up and walked out. This, to me, signals a weakness in their faith; if their faith was truly strong, they could listen to Savage’s entire rant (as I did) and not have it bother them.”

    That signals a weakness to you? Maybe those kids were more knowledgeable about Scripture and the Gnu atheist tendency to confuse slavery in the Bible with chattel slavery and they just didn’t need to hear another goofying it up intentionally.

    Or maybe they didn’t come for some shoddy Scriptural discourse by a guy who appears to be as bigoted as those he derides.

    No…. but for you a simple protest is “a weakness”.

  5. Obviously a protest in and of itself isn’t a weakness. I’m saying there’s no need to make every little hill something to die over.

    I listened to his rant, found it vaguely interesting, and went on. You don’t have to become outraged over everything.

  6. Hi Mike — saw your comment at Thinking Christian.

    ==================
    First Nick says: And, once he’s a speaker, you can’t control what he will say, particularly in the Q&A which I believe is when the remarks about the Bible and slavery were made (I heard somewhere that the question was likely organized by students who opposed Savage’s appearance at the meeting, who probably also pre-arranged to stage the walkout and the subsequent freakout in the right-wing echo chamber).

    Then he later adds: Correction – watching the video just now, Savage’s remarks weren’t in response to a question, they were part of a speech.

    It’s nice to see Nick corrected himself before someone else did. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that Nick floated some crackpot conspiracy theory that he “heard”: “the question was likely organized by students who opposed Savage’s appearance at the meeting, who probably also pre-arranged to stage the walkout”
    ==================

    Mike — it’s pretty simple. A couple of days ago, I glanced over some commentary on the Savage-on-slavery controversy that happened on facebook, including speculation that the walkout was planned. I didn’t watch the video at that point. Then, I misremembered it somewhat and added the Q&A notion. Then, I corrected myself.

    I still think it is likely that the walkout was planned or semi-planned ahead of time. Or do you really think it is likely that it was completely spontaneous?

    It’s not a “conspiracy theory”, for godssakes. It would actually be perfectly natural for a group of Christian students who disagree with Savage, and disagree with his being invited to speak at the journalism meeting, to plan to walk out, and/or to put out the word that they would do so and encourage others to do the same. And publicize it and/or film it. Probably there were students from both public schools and from private Christian schools at the conference.

    There’s not even anything wrong about planning a walkout, it’s a perfectly common and civil way of expressing protest or disagreement. It is just a slightly different picture of the events than if it occurred to everyone completely independently to walk out. (Everyone who left. A lot of the audience was cheering.)

  7. =====================
    Redheadedfemme,

    I understand the point he was trying to make. I’m interested in this as yet another example of how Gnu morality is anchored in justifying the means with the end. In his Gnu mind, Savage felt justified in attacking these students because he could rationalize it as some sort of self-defense. The end justifies the means.
    =====================

    Ironically, I bet Savage is actually more of an “accomodationist” than a gnu — although clearly his slavery remarks were influenced by Sam Harris’s book, which Savage references. I’ve seen a couple of instances where Savage says fairly positive things about religion.

    An additional possibility is that Savage is not particularly deeply informed about the gnu vs. other positions, which after all is a long ways from his main expertise, and so he just throws in random tidbits he comes across.

  8. Michael says:

    Hi Nick,

    I still think it is likely that the walkout was planned or semi-planned ahead of time. Or do you really think it is likely that it was completely spontaneous?

    Remember your own words – improbable things happen all the time. So even if it was unlikely to be spontaneous, that would not matter. What matters is if there is any evidence that it was planned. Since no one has any that I know of, the logical conclusion at this point is to accept it as spontaneous.

    Besides, it seems just as likely to be spontaneous to me. All you need is one or two kids to spontaneously get up and walk out and others will notice and follow along. Kind of like standing ovations, y’know?

    And yes, you did raise a conspiracy theory – students pre-planned a question to engage in a pre-planned walkout for some type of pre-planned effect. You have no evidence that any of this was in play. Just as Savage had no evidence those students were bullies when he verbally attacked them.

    Atheists claim to have this “commitment to evidence,” Now that’s the bullshit.

  9. Michael says:

    Nick,

    Ironically, I bet Savage is actually more of an “accomodationist” than a gnu — although clearly his slavery remarks were influenced by Sam Harris’s book, which Savage references. I’ve seen a couple of instances where Savage says fairly positive things about religion.

    Could be. Also, like you mentioned, Savage would have been engaging in some street theater.

    However, if a Christian quoted something from Dembski approvingly, would it be reasonable to suspect the Christian was an IDer? The way I see it, Harris appeals mostly to Gnus. So when someone quotes Harris, it smells like Gnu. That, and it’s quite the coincidence to have him publicly mock religion a few weeks after Dawkins called for such public mocking.

    BTW, Harris says positive things about Eastern mysticism and reincarnation also. I’m starting to suspect that the Gnus are not anti-religion. They are more along the lines of being anti-Christian.

    Anyway, on a different topic, and while I have your attention, have you noticed the Gnus have begun to embrace mytherism? And Coyne led a mean attack on a respected scholar, Dr. Ehrsman? I’m telling you the Gnus have a problem that goes deeper than their tone – they are crackpots. What will it take for the accomodationists to figure this out?

  10. http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2012/05/01/testaments-old-and-new

    ============
    Could be. Also, like you mentioned, Savage would have been engaging in some street theater.

    However, if a Christian quoted something from Dembski approvingly, would it be reasonable to suspect the Christian was an IDer?
    ============

    Yes, it’s a fair suspicion without other evidence. But we have other evidence in the case of Savage. He regularly brings up his catholic upbringing, and while he mentions the bullying he received, he also mentions some positives, e.g. it benefitted his mother, and it was actually a priest (who was closeted gay) that convinced his mother to accept him when he came out. He also regularly mentions the diversity of Christian belief, that there are Christians who are gay, there are gay-accepting denominations, etc. This is much more balanced that you typically get from gnus. You can even sort of see it in the remarks at the journalism conference, although somewhat garbled in that instance, and the listener would have to not have blown their top already.

    ============
    The way I see it, Harris appeals mostly to Gnus. So when someone quotes Harris, it smells like Gnu. That, and it’s quite the coincidence to have him publicly mock religion a few weeks after Dawkins called for such public mocking.
    ============

    Savage has said essentially identical things before, minus the cursing:
    http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2012/04/29/on-bullshit-and-pansy-assed

    Yes, Savage mocks religion regularly, but it’s targeted not at religion-in-general but at what he sees as bigoted expressions of religion. I’ve never seen him attempt a religion-is-the-root-of-all-evil type thing that you get from the gnus.

    ============
    BTW, Harris says positive things about Eastern mysticism and reincarnation also. I’m starting to suspect that the Gnus are not anti-religion. They are more along the lines of being anti-Christian.
    ============

    There’s a lot of anti-Muslim in there also. Some of them even hate the word “spirituality”. But yeah, Harris has flirted with various weird stuff.

    ============
    Anyway, on a different topic, and while I have your attention, have you noticed the Gnus have begun to embrace mytherism? And Coyne led a mean attack on a respected scholar, Dr. Ehrsman? I’m telling you the Gnus have a problem that goes deeper than their tone – they are crackpots. What will it take for the accomodationists to figure this out?
    ============

    You mean Bart Ehrman. Coyne didn’t lead the attack, Richard Carrier did, Coyne kinda-sorta endorsed Carrier’s take. I haven’t read Ehrman’s book, but some of Ehrman’s responses to Carrier are free online and they look pretty convincing based on my limited knowledge of the debate. I’m not sure how much other leading gnus have gone in for mytherism. The appeal of it to them is pretty obvious, if Jesus didn’t even exist, Christianity is even more wrong before.

    But I don’t think “crackpot” can be justified as a general statement about gnus. E.g. PZ and Jerry Coyne get most of their science correct. Their extreme hostility to religion does give them blind spots on issues involving religion, which is one big reason why they haven’t gotten very far in converting academia to their cause. The whole point of the gnu movement in the first place was to dispense with all the complexities and focus on the religion=bad message.

  11. Michael says:

    Nick:

    This is much more balanced that you typically get from gnus. You can even sort of see it in the remarks at the journalism conference, although somewhat garbled in that instance, and the listener would have to not have blown their top already.

    Since I have no desire to research the views of Dan Savage, I’ll take your word for it. I’ll put him down as Gnu-lite. So other than the label, the points I raised on 2012/04/30 at 7:09 all stand.

    You mean Bart Ehrman. Coyne didn’t lead the attack, Richard Carrier did, Coyne kinda-sorta endorsed Carrier’s take.

    Without Coyne’s promotion, you, me, and many others would not know of Carrier’s attack. In fact, without Coyne and PZ promoting him, I doubt Ehrman would have even bothered with Carrier.

    You should read this:
    http://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2012/04/28/the-gnu-smear-machine/

    I haven’t read Ehrman’s book, but some of Ehrman’s responses to Carrier are free online and they look pretty convincing based on my limited knowledge of the debate. I’m not sure how much other leading gnus have gone in for mytherism. The appeal of it to them is pretty obvious, if Jesus didn’t even exist, Christianity is even more wrong before.

    Exactly. It’s not the evidence that matters. It’s being a useful tool in their culture war that matters.

    But I don’t think “crackpot” can be justified as a general statement about gnus. E.g. PZ and Jerry Coyne get most of their science correct.

    They are not crackpots when it comes to their science. They are crackpots when it comes to their Gnuism. Tell me, what type of scientist claims that science can determine whether or not God exists, yet doesn’t publish a single scientific paper that shows us whether or not God exists? A crackpot. What type of scientist rails against the mainstream position that religion and science can co-exist? A crackpot. What type of scientist thinks most other scientists would joint his cause, except that those other scientist are afraid to do so for fear of persecution? A crackpot. What type of scientist would promote someone like Carrier, a man outside of academia who likens himself to Aristotle and Hume and who claims that those in academia are unfairly shunning his revolutionary ideas? A crackpot.

    Their extreme hostility to religion does give them blind spots on issues involving religion, which is one big reason why they haven’t gotten very far in converting academia to their cause.

    They are not going to convert academia because most people in academia see the crackpot a mile away. And Coyne helping to lead a smear campaign against a mainstream scholar isn’t exactly going to dispel that public image. I’m not sure why you can’t see it. I had thought you more insightful than this.
    The only hope for the Gnus was to get someone like Santorum elected president in the hope he would do something to bring back the common enemy. Me don’t think Romney is going to be much help here. So look for the Gnus to stray further into the land of crackpottery.

    Gotta love the post-wedge world.

  12. Meh. Well, it might make you feel better to call them crackpots, but it doesn’t really wash. Each of the arguments you cited, except probably the Jesus myth one, actually has some consistency and plausibility. Basically the arguments derive from the idea that science is the one and only standard that should be applied in any domain dealing with truth, combined with a strong version of Ockham’s razor which asserts that we should have high confidence in the nonexistence of something if we don’t have clear positive evidence for it.

    These are epistemic principles which are basically a matter of philosophy. I don’t endorse them in this strong form, since I don’t think there is any guarantee that what works well in the routine empirical domain will work well in other contexts, particularly in literally mind-boggling contexts involving Why Existence Exists and the like. But this is a slightly subtle argument, and the realm of reasonable disagreement within philosophy is *extremely* broad. It is sometimes said that there is no position so strange that some philosopher has not defended it seriously. It might be possible to be fairly deemed a crackpot in philosophy, but I think you’ve got to really work hard at it. Advancing the sort of self-consistent and extremely ambitious scientistic program that the gnus are doing might be wrong, but this kind of thing is par for the course in philosophy.

    What really bothers me about the gnus is not their position on the primacy of science, rather it is their undue sense of certitude and self-righteousness on the above highly debatable issues. But that’s not crackpottery.

    Re: Carrier — he is a reasonably big fish on his own, he’s been an established figure in the skeptics movement for a decade or more. I think all that was needed to get Ehrman to respond was Carrier’s ultracritical screed, and the many positive comments it got from his fans. Coyne & PZ weren’t the determining factors, I think.

    Yes, Carrier has various flaws, but he also does have amazing depth and breadth on some issues, so he is often worth reading, at least when he avoids getting emotional.

    Yes, Carrier’s got an ego, but so does half the blogosphere, and Carrier at least has substantial education and expertise on many topics. But even with the ego, I doubt that Carrier compared himself to Aristotle and Hume in quite the simplistic arrogant way you are suggesting.

  13. Michael says:

    Meh. Well, it might make you feel better to call them crackpots, but it doesn’t really wash.

    It’s not a question of feelings, but of clear thinking. I realize that idea that Gnu leaders are crackpots might cause you some cognitive dissonance, but to help ease the transition to clear thinking, I’ll simply mention one name – Linus Pauling. He was a better scientist than Coyne, Dawkins, or Myers. But when it came to vitamin C and its ability to cure colds and cancer?

    So let’s look at your objections:

    Each of the arguments you cited, except probably the Jesus myth one, actually has some consistency and plausibility.

    That’s odd. So you think it plausible that most scientists would join the Gnu movement, but they don’t for fear of losing their funding?? Really?

    Basically the arguments derive from the idea that science is the one and only standard that should be applied in any domain dealing with truth, combined with a strong version of Ockham’s razor which asserts that we should have high confidence in the nonexistence of something if we don’t have clear positive evidence for it.

    Okay, let’s look at this from the perspective of consistency and plausibility (the two criteria you raised).

    When it comes to plausibility, a sign of a crackpot is one who takes a plausible explanation and vastly over inflates it into some form of “obvious truth.” However, this “obvious truth” is not recognized as such by the mainstream academic community. Thus, the crackpot needs to account for this, typically by denigrating the academic community.

    So, do the Gnus vastly overestimate the power of their position? Yes, and you even agree on this one. You said: “What really bothers me about the gnus is not their position on the primacy of science, rather it is their undue sense of certitude and self-righteousness on the above highly debatable issues.”

    Does the mainstream academic community embrace the over-inflated truth claims of the Gnus? No, and you even agree on this one too. You said, “Their extreme hostility to religion does give them blind spots on issues involving religion, which is one big reason why they haven’t gotten very far in converting academia to their cause.” That they haven’t gotten very far in converting academia tells us academia rejects their position.

    Lastly, how do the Gnus account for the fact that their “obvious truth” is not embraced by academia? Here is how Coyne explains it:

    This disharmony is a dirty little secret in scientific circles. It is in our personal and professional interest to proclaim that science and religion are perfectly harmonious. After all, we want our grants funded by the government, and our schoolchildren exposed to real science instead of creationism. Liberal religious people have been important allies in our struggle against creationism, and it is not pleasant to alienate them by declaring how we feel. This is why, as a tactical matter, groups such as the National Academy of Sciences claim that religion and science do not conflict.

    So Coyne is attacking those in academia as being sneaky and dishonest.

    Victor Stenger makes a similar attack on academia:

    Most scientists prefer to stay out of any conflicts with religion. They don’t want to endanger their sources of research funding and generally just don’t want to be bothered.

    Add all this up and its spells c r a c k p o t. Crackpot.

    As for consistency, the Gnus are notoriously inconsistent when it comes their belief that science is the one and only standard that should be applied in any domain dealing with truth. Whether it is the wild-eyed claims of a Christian child being abused for being called a Christian child, whether it’s the paranoid claims about Francis Collins the threat he supposedly represented to the NIH, whether it is their attacks on you when Dawkins played the Nazi card, or whether it’s their core position that God does not exist. None of these truth claims are the products of their science.

    Of course, to obscure the many times they abandon the scientific approach in order to make truth claims, the Gnus, like creationists, will water down the definition of science (a word they don’t like to define anyway) so that armchair philosophy becomes science. This watering-down the definition of science serves the needs of their social agenda. When it came to ID, you were very perceptive about this. But with the Gnus, you have lost your perceptive ability. Can you explain your inconsistency?

    These are epistemic principles which are basically a matter of philosophy. I don’t endorse them in this strong form, since I don’t think there is any guarantee that what works well in the routine empirical domain will work well in other contexts, particularly in literally mind-boggling contexts involving Why Existence Exists and the like.

    They also don’t work for mundane claims, such as when Dawkins accused you of being a liar. Unless of course you want to water down the definition of science such that experiments and publishing results in the peer reviewed literature are superfluous to science. Lots of Gnus on BioLogos were willing to toss the scientific method under the bus.

    But this is a slightly subtle argument, and the realm of reasonable disagreement within philosophy is *extremely* broad. It is sometimes said that there is no position so strange that some philosopher has not defended it seriously. It might be possible to be fairly deemed a crackpot in philosophy, but I think you’ve got to really work hard at it. Advancing the sort of self-consistent and extremely ambitious scientistic program that the gnus are doing might be wrong, but this kind of thing is par for the course in philosophy.

    Hold on here. Do the Gnus view themselves as simply adopting a philosophical position? No, they think they are speaking from a scientific position. They do not argue “according to our philosophy, God does not exist.” They argue, “according to science, God does not exist.” Explain to me how their science has shown God does not exist when not one of them had published experimental data that shows God does not exist.

    That they believe their philosophy is actually science is one of the things that makes them crackpots. I doubt you would take a group of NDE enthusiasts and redefine their beliefs as a philosophical position to rescue them from crackpot status. Yet for some strange reason, you do this with the Gnus. Very interesting.

    Re: Carrier — he is a reasonably big fish on his own, he’s been an established figure in the skeptics movement for a decade or more. I think all that was needed to get Ehrman to respond was Carrier’s ultracritical screed, and the many positive comments it got from his fans. Coyne & PZ weren’t the determining factors, I think.

    Well, it might make you feel better to believe this, but there is no evidence to think this is true. Compared to Coyne and PZ, Carrier is a little fish among the skeptics. And outside of the skeptic echo chamber, his existence is hardly known by anyone. Erhman probably became aware of him when having to go through all the nutter books and articles about mythicism. And Ehrman did not reply until after Coyne enthusiastically began promoting Carrier and making threats against Ehrman.

    Yes, Carrier has various flaws, but he also does have amazing depth and breadth on some issues, so he is often worth reading, at least when he avoids getting emotional.
    Yes, Carrier’s got an ego, but so does half the blogosphere, and Carrier at least has substantial education and expertise on many topics.

    How would you know about his amazing depth and breadth on some issues? How would you know he has expertise on many topics? Are you agreeing with Coyne that Carrier is “an expert on history and a Biblical scholar?”

  14. Michael says:

    But even with the ego, I doubt that Carrier compared himself to Aristotle and Hume in quite the simplistic arrogant way you are suggesting.

    Why? A man who heavily promotes himself as being a “renowned author” and refers to his readers as “fans” is just the type of man who would liken himself to Aristotle and Hume.

    Anyway, did some digging and found this posting from 2008:

    Yes, although it is unbelievably pretentious and self-congratulatory, Richard Carrier did, in fact, make that claim in one of his written responses to philosopher David Wood. When the quotation started being circulated, it seems that Carrier may in fact have received too much criticism over it, because he later went behind closed doors and Bush-esquely deleted it from his original response. And the explanation for the deletion itself was then buried at the end of a long chain of footnotes that he knows nobody is likely to read. The deletion was especially never mentioned on his blog to his “fans”, and if asked about it Carrier will just feign modesty and respond that it was a mere “correction”.

    The fact is, Carrier has been displaying signs of overly inflated megalomaniacal delusions for years. He likes to refer to himself, for example, as a “nationally-renowned” naturalist “philosopher” and he refers to his readers as his “fans” — as if he were some sort of celebrity.

    http://rfforum.websitetoolbox.com/post/show_single_post?pid=32772859&postcount=6

    So he tried to toss his self-comparison down the memory hole when it blew up in his face.

  15. How would you know about his amazing depth and breadth on some issues? How would you know he has expertise on many topics? Are you agreeing with Coyne that Carrier is “an expert on history and a Biblical scholar?”

    I don’t think you can go read the Carrier essays at e.g. infidels.org and then conclude that he doesn’t know what he is talking about. The work speaks for itself. The mythicist stuff, which even Carrier doesn’t endorse whole-heartedly, is just a small part of a wide-ranging body of work he has produced on philosophy, history, the NT, etc.

    Or, you can listen to Bart Ehrman himself:

    “Richard Carrier is one of the new breed of mythicists. He is trained in ancient history and classics, with a PhD from Columbia University – an impressive credential. In my book Did Jesus Exist I speak of him as a smart scholar with bona fide credentials.”

    Re: Aristotle and Hume — I would need to see the original context to see what happened. He’s got an ego, but then he also knows more than most people on the issues he writes about. And even what you provide above indicates he wrote something about this once, but then he even changed his tune and deleted it, and isn’t repeating it now. If he was still repeating it, THEN that would be a good sign of a crackpot. A one-off, later removed, from a guy who has produced millions of words online, isn’t evidence of much except someone having an off-day and getting carried away and/or phrasing something poorly.

    Plus, there is some sub-debate running around about Carrier doing philosophy while not being an Official Trained Philosopher. I haven’t tracked it down, but I suspect the references to Famous Old Dead Philsophers Who Weren’t Official Trained Philosophers are more about that issue.

    Overall point: you’re getting carried away on this one, MG. I disagree with the Gnus on many issues, but they in general aren’t crackpots, any more than, say, Francis Collins. Both have said things that are basically wrong, and both have said even more things that are basically debatable, difficult-to-resolve matters of opinion on which I disagree with them. For the gnus, even the arguments which I think are incorrect have a fair degree of initial appeal, since the starting point is well-accepted standards (in science) like don’t believe things without evidence. You’re not going to have very compelling counterarguments unless you understand what is appealing about the arguments. Just dismissing them as crackpots won’t cut it.

  16. Michael says:

    Overall point: you’re getting carried away on this one, MG. I disagree with the Gnus on many issues, but they in general aren’t crackpots, any more than, say, Francis Collins.

    Nick, please read the comment previously time stamped (12:42:24)

  17. Crude says:

    Nick,

    “I disagree with the Gnus on many issues”

    Which? And I mean which that don’t come down to tactical considerations like, “They think acting angry and insulting will best advance atheism/irreligion, whereas I think acting a different way will best advance atheism/irreligion.”

  18. Mike,

    ==========
    Nick, please read the comment previously time stamped (12:42:24)
    ==========

    I’ll just repeat what I said too, since what you said there didn’t rebut it:

    ==========
    Each of the arguments you cited, except probably the Jesus myth one, actually has some consistency and plausibility. Basically the arguments derive from the idea that science is the one and only standard that should be applied in any domain dealing with truth, combined with a strong version of Ockham’s razor which asserts that we should have high confidence in the nonexistence of something if we don’t have clear positive evidence for it.

    These are epistemic principles which are basically a matter of philosophy. I don’t endorse them in this strong form, since I don’t think there is any guarantee that what works well in the routine empirical domain will work well in other contexts, particularly in literally mind-boggling contexts involving Why Existence Exists and the like. But this is a slightly subtle argument, and the realm of reasonable disagreement within philosophy is *extremely* broad.
    ==========

  19. Michael says:

    Nick,

    I don’t think you can go read the Carrier essays at e.g. infidels.org and then conclude that he doesn’t know what he is talking about. The work speaks for itself. The mythicist stuff, which even Carrier doesn’t endorse whole-heartedly, is just a small part of a wide-ranging body of work he has produced on philosophy, history, the NT, etc.

    That doesn’t mean much given that it is not uncommon for crackpots to be knowledgeable and intelligent. In fact, it is not uncommon for crackpots to use their intelligence and knowledge to produce “wide-ranging” bodies of work (where the “body of work” consists of internet postings). Since I am not a historian, how am I supposed to tell just how much of that “wide-ranging body of work” is bullshit?

    But you ignored my question:

    Are you agreeing with Coyne that Carrier is “an expert on history and a Biblical scholar?”

    Or, you can listen to Bart Ehrman himself

    I interpreted that as Ehrman, a real scholar, responding to Carrier’s mean-spirited internet attack (promoted with cheerleading from Gnu activists) with kindness. The contrast between their two essays is not lost on people familiar with scholarship. You should know how that works. I’d be more impressed if Ehrman would write a letter of recommendation for Carrier.

    Re: Aristotle and Hume — I would need to see the original context to see what happened.

    I’m not sure how context rescues this:

    At the very least, Wood cannot argue against the fact that I am no less a philosopher than Aristotle or Hume. My knowledge, education, and qualifications certainly match theirs in every relevant respect.

    Nick, when Dembski was criticizing you for not having a PhD in biology several years ago, were you ever tempted to write: “At the very least, Dembski cannot argue against the fact that I am no less a scientist than Darwin. My knowledge, education, and qualifications certainly match his in every relevant respect?”

    He’s got an ego, but then he also knows more than most people on the issues he writes about.

    He has a MASSIVE ego. And that’s the problem. You simply cannot make the case that a self-comparison with Aristotle or Hume is out of place. The reason the criticisms resonated to the point where Carrier had to sneakily erase his self-comparison is because it makes sense that he is someone who would make such a self-comparison.

    And even what you provide above indicates he wrote something about this once, but then he even changed his tune and deleted it, and isn’t repeating it now. If he was still repeating it, THEN that would be a good sign of a crackpot. A one-off, later removed, from a guy who has produced millions of words online, isn’t evidence of much except someone having an off-day and getting carried away and/or phrasing something poorly.

    This reads like spin from a Carrier Fan. If he was still repeating it, it would be more than a sign of crackpottery. He would then have moved into the realm of mental illness. Look, if it was “having an off-day and getting carried away and/or phrasing something poorly,” then explain why he tried to cover it up instead of being upfront about it. Has he ever acknowledged that Aristotle or Hume were far greater philosophers than he is?

    Plus, there is some sub-debate running around about Carrier doing philosophy while not being an Official Trained Philosopher. I haven’t tracked it down, but I suspect the references to Famous Old Dead Philsophers Who Weren’t Official Trained Philosophers are more about that issue.

    I see his old blog is still up and he describes himself as a “philosopher, historian, and author.” Yet all of his degrees are in history. Are you saying it is appropriate for him to promote himself as a philosopher?

  20. Michael says:

    I’ll just repeat what I said too, since what you said there didn’t rebut it

    I see. The Ostrich Defense. I take it then that you don’t want to answer this question:

    So you think it plausible that most scientists would join the Gnu movement, but they don’t for fear of losing their funding?? Really?

    And you agree with Coyne he writes?

    This disharmony is a dirty little secret in scientific circles. It is in our personal and professional interest to proclaim that science and religion are perfectly harmonious. After all, we want our grants funded by the government, and our schoolchildren exposed to real science instead of creationism. Liberal religious people have been important allies in our struggle against creationism, and it is not pleasant to alienate them by declaring how we feel. This is why, as a tactical matter, groups such as the National Academy of Sciences claim that religion and science do not conflict.

    And you don’t want to explain your inconsistencies. Nor address the way Gnus are abusing the concept of science for culture war reasons.

    You write, “For the gnus, even the arguments which I think are incorrect have a fair degree of initial appeal, since the starting point is well-accepted standards (in science) like don’t believe things without evidence.”

    Lots of crackpots embrace the notion of “don’t believe things without evidence.” That’s not relevant. I explained the crackpot aspect that goes beyond this and you have decided to ignore it.

    You’re not going to have very compelling counterarguments unless you understand what is appealing about the arguments. Just dismissing them as crackpots won’t cut it.

    I don’t just dismiss them as crackpots. I have considered their arguments and found them to be fundamentally flawed. They are just modern-day expressions of scientism that are selectively applied only for religion. Ever notice that? The Gnus cannot even practice what they preach, and only adhere to scientism when it comes to the object of their hate. Thus is it clear the arguments are not rooted in principle or scholarly consideration. The arguments are just convenient tools in their culture war and their arguments should be viewed from the context of this motivation. What’s more, it turns out they are promoting the God-of-the-Gaps approach to science and insist science incorporate this approach.

    While I view this as crackpottery, you find it appealing and want to lend some degree of legitimacy to it. So be it.

    Look, from experience, I know you are incapable of admitting I am right about anything. As such, you might want to read an essay entitled, A “scientific worldview” and the definition of “science” It is written by Josh Rosenau and it is excellent. He also makes very good points in the comments section of that article. For example:

    I don’t take that style of argument seriously from creationists, and I don’t take it seriously from you. You’ve yet to demonstrate a “legitimate controversy,” which would require citations to the literature, and engagement with the scholarly discourse in the field. You and Coyne and Harris arguing on blogs and in mass market books (without citations to relevant literature) doesn’t demonstrate a legitimate controversy about the definition of science, any more than Dembski and Nelson and Behe arguing on blogs and mass market books demonstrates a legitimate controversy about evolution.

    I’m impressed.

    Nick, perhaps you are afraid I am trying to set some trap to cause you more headaches with the Gnus. If so, you misunderstand me and will not do that. I am genuinely encouraged to see you stand up against the Gnus when you do and genuinely annoyed by the way they have treated you. But you will never have the same success you had against the ID movement as you will with the Gnus until you open your eyes and figure out what you are up against. Yes, it’s easier to spot crackpots when they are mostly outside of academia. But Rosenau seems to have a good grasp on the situation. Of course, it remains to be seen if Gnuism is just another passing fad that will burn itself out with its extremism, antics and stable of self-promoters.

    In the meantime, you are too close to a guy who claims he is going to show all mainstream scholars are wrong and revolutionize the study of ancient history in his upcoming popular book. You are legitimizing the Gnu movement by posturing as if there is some validity to their internet arguments that promote a fusion of scientism and god-of-the-gaps thinking, propped up with cherry picking to serve confirmation bias. I am just genuinely disappointed. The whole extreme position that religion (Christianity) is evil and science has disproved it is a crackpot position. Why else do you think it appeals more to the type of people who nest at Coyne and Myers blogs than is does to academia?

    Anyway, if you would rather talk about this stuff via email, I’d be happy to oblige.

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