The Gnu Smear Machine

I’m am not surprised that Gnu activist Jerry Coyne, after series of taunting postings, has continued to ignore Bart Ehrman’s lengthy reply to Richard Carrier.   Coyne, Carrier, and the hordes from the Gnu community publicly called Dr. Ehrman’s competence and credibility into question.  As such, this smelled like a smear campaign to me. For the record, let’s recall the relevant facts.

On April 19, Richard Carrier “reviewed” Ehrman’s book.  It took him less than a month to read the book and write up a outlandishly hostile “review” that is 19 pages and 10455 words long and is loaded with a laundry list of supposed errors about any detail he can dig up, no matter how trivial.

On April 20, Coyne trumpets the Carrier response with fanfare (“Carrier finally responds to Ehrman on the historicity of Jesus”):

 We’ve all been waiting for Richard Carrier, an expert on history and a Biblical scholar, to respond to Bart Ehrman’s new book.

Coyne promotes Carrier’s attack piece (with one minor quibble) and begins to join in by publicly making digs at Ehrman’s credibility.

You’ll want to read Carrier’s take on these sources, as to me that bears heavily on Ehrman’s credibility.

On April 22, Ehrman addresses the first “error” cited by Carrier and shows Carrier was wrong.

On April 23, Coyne responds with a blog entitled,  “The historicity of Jesus: Bart Ehrman responds to Richard Carrier (sort of).”  Because Ehrman had not dropped everything and published an in-depth reply to a 10,000 word internet “review” that was posted just four days earlier, Coyne begins to insinuate all sorts of nasty things about Ehrman. He writes,

Well, he’s sort of responded, because, in his reply, he takes up only one of Carrier’s assertions: that a statue of a man with a penis for a nose sits in the Vatican, a statue whose existence Ehrman previously denied.  This is only one of elebenty gazillion criticisms that Carrier levelled at Ehrman, and is by far the tamest.

Carrier wrote a huge critique, and Ehrman responds to just one trivial point about a penis-nosed statue, a point that may reflect on Ehrman’s carefulness.

Of course, Ehrman made it clear why he picked this example to start with:

A case in point of my “carelessness and arrogance” is the first instance of an “Error of Fact” that he cites, which I assume he gives as his first example because he thinks it’s a real killer.

So while Ehrman clearly spells out that he assumed “Carrier gives as his first example because he thinks it’s a real killer,” Coyne ignores this and spins it as if Ehrman is trying to cherry pick the tamest, most trivial point.

Coyne continues his personal attack on Ehrman:

Perhaps Ehrman will write a longer response, but he notes that he reserves in-depth responses for theMembers Only part of his site,  where you have to pay to see Ehrman’s lucubrations ($3.95/month, $24.95/year).  Since Ehrman is presumably reasonably compensated in his academic post, and has probably made tons of money from his book, I really do object to a scholar reserving his serious responses for a pay-only part of his site. Does he need the money that badly?  And will he respond there?

Ehrman made it clear that all the money from the members only section goes to charity.  Yet Coyne tries to paint him as being greedy.

What’s more, we know now that he has responded at length in the free section of his blog.  Since he posted his lengthy reply 2 days later, it is fair to say he was already working on it at the time Coyne was trying to imply he would not reply.

Coyne continues:

At the beginning of his post, Ehrman says a few words about the responses to his book, words that I find rather defensive and a bit disingenuous

So now Ehrman is being “disingenuous.” How so?  Ehrman notes that he “said nothing nasty about Carrier in my book.”  Coyne responds, “Well, I’m not sure whether a general attack on mythicists—of which Carrier is one—shouldn’t be taken personally.”

Did Coyne just let the cat out of the bag by telling us that his own general attacks on Christians and accomodationists are indeed meant to be personal?

Anyway, Coyne ends his 1041 word taunt with a threat:

And, finally, I’m distressed that Ehrman and Carrier can’t have a debate over this: Ehrman doesn’t seem inclined to respond. Well, Carrier is someone who needs to be taken seriously, and he’s taken the time to level a long critique at Ehrman.  The least Carrier deserves is to be taken seriously; and he certainly deserves an in-depth reply.  Ehrman doesn’t realize that he’ll lose credibility as a scholar if he can’t produce one.

Now, pay close attention to what happens next.

Forty-eight hours later, Ehrman posts his in-depth reply that indicates he has also been fact-checking with others scholars.  What does Coyne have to say?

I am too jammed at the moment to read Bart Ehrman’s longer response to Richard Carrier, in which Ehrman defends his views on the historicity of Jesus. This was posted today, and several readers have brought it to my attention.  So those of you who are interested in this continuing dogfight, go see “Fuller reply to Richard Carrier” at The Bart Ehrman Blog. It’s not behind a paywall.

I bring this to you as a public service, and as a forum for people to discuss Ehrman’s latest reply. As for me, right now I’d rather look at baby hawks.

And that’s that.

99 measly little words.

He’d rather look at baby hawks.

After publicly accusing a fellow member of academia of cherry picking, being greedy, being disingenuous, and threatening that Ehrman “will lose credibility as a scholar” if he doesn’t hurry up and provide an in-depth response to a 10,000 word diatribe from an atheist blogger who is part of the Gnu community, Coyne suddenly loses interest.

Imagine that.  Gnu morality on display for all to see.

Carrier is someone who needs to be taken seriously. The least Carrier deserves is to be taken seriously. He certainly deserves an in-depth reply. You’ll lose credibility as a scholar if you can’t produce one by tomorrow.

Here it is.

Awww. Look at my kittie!!

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2 Responses to The Gnu Smear Machine

  1. natehardee says:

    If Carrier wants to be taken serious he needs to publish in the academy, and go through the avenues that other academics have to go through. Then his hypothesis will get the treatment that it deserves. Also, academics tend to ignore people who are rude. Academics are not going to want to have a discussion with someone who takes whatever he or she says and rips it about in a vicious fashion online. This not a critique of Carrier’s hypothesis rather a statement about his methods.

  2. Michael says:

    But I would take it one step further. If he is so reckless and clueless about his methods, why think that when it comes to his hypothesis, it will suddenly transform into something scholarly? My guess is that his over-the-top reckless approach to other people reflects his reckless approach to history. And that is what the scholars who notice him have said.

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