More Coyne Hilarity

I just checked Jerry Coyne’s blog and, well, have a look at some of the LOLz on his blog.

Sure enough, Coyne, who has this issue with spelling “twitter,” was indeed easily duped by the Kim Davis troll/Poe:

Speaking of odious folks on Twi**er, apparently jailed Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, who is still sitting in jail for refusing an order to issue marriage licenses to gays, is tw**ting, but via her husband Joe, who’s using her account. Go have a look at some of the LOLz on her Twi**er feed. Here are a few examples:

This is hilarious. The man who postures as someone committed to reason, science, and evidence, is the same man who is so easily played by a troll. The troll throws out the bait and Coyne, the hungry little guppy, swallows it hook, line, and sinker. That Coyne is so easily hoodwinked by such an obvious troll tells us he is only committed to evidence and the skeptical approach….when he feels like it. 😉

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12 Responses to More Coyne Hilarity

  1. Kevin says:

    Cohen said he was sad to have to issue the correction. I doubt the sadness is because he failed to live up to the standards he claims he lives by.

  2. Kevin says:

    I need to quit leaving comments on iPad. Coyne, not Cohen.

  3. Dhay says:

    In the Jerry Coyne blog post linked to above, Coyne’s “UPDATE: …” correction links to a post by ‘The Friendly Atheist’, Hemant Mehta, a post in which Mehta gives reasons why that Twitter feed was obviously a pretend-Christian troll account.

    It’s not the first time Coyne has been taken in like this, because if you look at Coyne’s blog post dated January 21, 2015 and entitled “Richard Dawkins reads his hate mail: Part 2”, you will see that Coyne swallows hook, line and sinker Richard Dawkins’ line that the trolls who sent in the hate-mail were genuine Christians instead of pretend-Christian Poe-ing trolls.

    Coyne exults in the hilarity of the video, and comments that:

    What this shows is that Dawkins … [is] …very different from a few other atheists who flaunt their hate mail to paint themselves as victims, and even to push themselves further into the public eye.

    https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2015/01/21/richard-dawkins-reads-his-hate-mail-part-2/

    Which is deeply ironic because painting himself as a victim and pushing himself further into the public eye — publicity and propaganda — is exactly what Dawkins is doing in this video; Coyne is rather naive at times.

    Or perhaps not; Coyne quickly continues:

    I don’t think [the trolls’] hatred should be turned into a form of self-aggrandizing publicity.

    Which shows clearly that, despite having just denied it — what a man Coyne is for holding two contrary ideas at the same time, and not even realising it — er, doesn’t he claim that this is what accomodationists™ and ordinary religious moderates do all the time, and doesn’t he censure that — despite having just denied it, Coyne clearly does realise that Dawkins is engaging in self-aggrandizing publicity.

    Mehta gives various reasons why we can know the twitter account is a trolling fake, including certain proof in the form of a statement by Kim Davis’ solicitors, and that her tweeted signature didn’t match the wedding certificate signature; but he also gives various circumstantial reasons why we can know the tweets are troll tweets, and these reasons are interesting because they apply equally to many of Richard Dawkins’ ‘Ugly’ section hate mails and to those read out in Dawkins’ two infamous propaganda videos.

    3) The capitalized words and misspellings throughout the account’s timeline are the hallmarks of what you’d do if you were trying to imitate a Christian fundamentalist. In other words, it’s *too* error-filled to be accurate.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2015/09/06/stop-taking-kimdavis917-seriously-its-a-troll-account-heres-how-we-know/

    Doesn’t this just apply in spades to Dawkins’ allegedly Christian hate-mails. “EVELOOTON”, anyone, and that the very tip of the iceberg. Why can Mehta can see why (and declares that) they flag up trolls, but Coyne couldn’t.

    6) There’s this tweet:
    ISIS kills homosexuals. Which would you prefer????
    — Kim Davis (@kimdavis917) September 3, 2015

    Too far. Remember: People like her *love* gay people. They just oppose their rights.

    Now just review Dawkins’ allegedly Christian hate-mails, and see for yourself how many contain accusations, explicit or implicit, that Dawkins is homosexual — “gay”, “faggot”, “sodomy”, “make love to monkeys”, and “suck Chomsky’s dick” — and expressing explicit or implicit anti-homosexual hate.

    Why can Mehta can see why (and declares that) it flags up trolls, but Coyne couldn’t.

    Well, I’m sure that having read and understood Mehta’s blog post — Coyne does have ordinary reading comprehension doesn’t he … doesn’t he — Coyne will already be rushing to ‘UPDATE:’ his earlier blog post to reveal that he now understand that, and why, the hate-mail trollers on the two Dawkins videos are pretend-Christian (or Poes).

    Waste of time him UPDATE-ing Dawkins: I’m sure Dawkins already knows; and already knew.

  4. Dhay says:

    In his blog post dated September 11, 2015 and entitled “Loftus has a brand new book”, Jerry Coyne puffs John Loftus’ book, How to Defend the Christian Faith: Advice From an Atheist.

    Despite reproducing the contents page, which includes chapter headings such as “You Must Specialize In Special Pleading”, and “You Must Gerrymander For God”, and despite quoting Loftus
    as writing:

    I’ll also be offering a lot of snarky tongue-in-cheek advice, especially in Parts 2 and 3.

    … Coyne cheerfully likens Loftus’ book to books by two serious philosophers:

    In general, I dislike books or papers in which atheists tell believers how they should behave or think to improve their “religion skills”. Philosophers Michael Ruse and Elliott Sober have both done this, and I find the act unseemly—like giving a bottle to an alcoholic who really needs to abstain.

    https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2015/09/11/loftus-has-a-brand-new-book/

    What can one say about someone who reads an obvious polemic as being a serious work of philosophy? Well, Michael’s comments about Coyne in the OP look very apt here:

    > This is hilarious. The man who postures as someone committed to reason, science, and evidence, is the same man who is so easily played by a troll. The troll throws out the bait and Coyne, the hungry little guppy, swallows it hook, line, and sinker. That Coyne is so easily hoodwinked by such an obvious troll tells us he is only committed to evidence and the skeptical approach….when he feels like it.

  5. Dhay says:

    In his blog post dated September 12, 2015 and entitled “Dilbert on free will”, Jerry Coyne once again uses a Dilbert comic strip to assert what he himself wants to assert.

    Coyne comments on the strip:

    I like the last panel, which goes along with brain-scanning experiments that give the surprising result that you can predict (with 60-70% accuracy) the results of a binary decision up to ten seconds before the person who “makes” that decision is conscious of having made it. Of course, compatibilists and libertarian free-will advocates have found reasons to dismiss these experiments as evidence for free will. This is one of many ways that such people resemble theologians …

    https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2015/09/12/dilbert-on-free-will-2/

    As Coyne himself says, “… compatibilists and libertarian free-will advocates have found reasons to dismiss these experiments as evidence for free will”; so there are reasons to dismiss these experiments as evidence for free will; or put another way, these experiments are arguably not valid evidence for the strict determinism which Coyne evidently so desperately wants to be true.

    Yet unless I am reading this wrongly, Coyne is just hand-waving said reasons away, together with a passing mere sneer at compatibilists and libertarian free-will advocates, and a passing mere sneer at theologians. No rationality there, just a hunger for the desired result of strict determinism.

    What can one say about someone who reads a comic strip as being a serious work of philosophy? Well, with minor changes, Michael’s comments about Coyne in the OP look very apt here:

    > This is hilarious. The man who postures as someone committed to reason, science, and evidence, is the same man who is so easily played by a comic strip. The comic strip throws out the bait and Coyne, the hungry little guppy, swallows it hook, line, and sinker. That Coyne is so easily hoodwinked by a comic strip tells us he is only committed to evidence and the skeptical approach….when he feels like it.

  6. Dhay says:

    Some years back, Richard Dawkins made a couple of one-hour programs called The Enemies of Reason, where he ridiculed, and sometimes claimed to show scientific disproof of, various New Age fads; in the first program, one of those “disproved” was astrology.

    How did Dawkins “disprove” astrology? Well, it’s a while back so I’m fuzzy on the exact details, but he started by reading out to camera the weekly sun-sign horoscope, by “Mystic Meg” or her like, as printed in a popular newspaper during the week of filming that section; this will have said something like, that Librans — a twelfth of the population — will meet a tall dark stranger; then he interviewed passers-by, asked them their sun-sign, read out their horoscope prediction and asked whether their prediction had come true.

    As a critique of newspaper sun-sign horoscope, this is genuinely devastating; as a scientific, or even merely rational disproof of actual astrology as practiced by keen amateurs or by those (“Mystic Meg” excepting) who make a living by it, Dawkin’s experiment was utterly ignorant of his subject, irrational and pseudo-scientific, and certainly came nowhere near disproving astrology. Astrologers themselves laugh at and ridicule newspaper sun-sign horoscopes.

    While I am sure that the claims of actual astrology — not Dawkins’ strawman version — can in principle be tested scientifically, one glance at an astrologer’s chart for any individual will instantly reveal how particular that chart is to that individual — this one-twefth-of-the-population bollocks is… bollocks; such experiments will need thoughtful design: Dawkins’ TV “experiment” was a sham, was showmanship, was sophistry and polemic — very like the New Age woo he was claiming to debunk.

    Oh, and Dawkins’ use of pseudoscientific methods instead of scientific methods was very unworthy of someone whose professional role was to advance the public understanding of science.

    Why have I put this here, when the OP subject is hilarity at Jerry Coyne’s gullibility? In his blog post dated September 13, 2015 and entitled “Two debunkings of widespread woo: Ouija boards and homeopatrhy”; the second part is:

    … we have a video in which “Scibabe” tests homeopathic claims:

    The Science Babe, or “SciBabe” for short, wanted to expose this practice for the bullsh*t that it is — by gulping down 50 homeopathic sleeping pills.

    https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2015/09/13/two-debunkings-of-widespread-woo/

    SciBabe is like Dawkins: as a critique of works-for-anyone type homeopathic self-prescriptions,SciBabe’s experiment is genuinely devastating; as a as a scientific, or even merely rational disproof of actual homeopathy as practiced by homeopaths, SciBabe’s experiment was utterly ignorant of her subject, irrational and pseudo-scientific, and certainly came nowhere near disproving homeopathy.

    While I am sure that the claims of actual homeopathy — not SciBabe’s strawman version — can in principle be tested scientifically, homeopaths prescribe specifically for individuals: my sleeplessness might be caused by my broken arm, so require something to increase my acceptance of that pain level; or longer-term, something to help the bones and tendons (that’s two remedies at least) heal quicker: my wife’s sleeplessness might be caused by worrying about the next day, and that’s a different remedy again, or simply advice on how to relax, or to change diet; my son-in-law’s sleeplessness might be caused by overwork, so an appropriate remedy might seek to reduce the appetite for (over-)work, or nudge him into reconsidering his life, work, family and future in general to achieve a better balance. This is very different from SciBabe’s strawman version.

    (If I were to test homeopathy scientifically, I would set up a controlled experiment in which I would sprain experimental subjects’ ankles, then administer — immediately, then at appropriate later intervals — arnica 30 (physical trauma) and ruta 30 (tendons) to half, then monitor progress compared to the other half; but I fancy it would not pass the ethics committee.)

    Had SciBabe done her background research she would know this; but — like Dawkins — she plainly prefers to flame homeopathy with an experiment which was a sham, was showmanship, was sophistry and polemic, and to be — like Dawkins — a troll.

    So back to Coyne. Coyne has repeated harangued against homeopathy, would love it to be bollocks, and is hungry for proof it is ineffectual — so he suspends his critical faculties.

    What can one say about someone who reads an obvious polemic as being a serious experiment? Well, Michael’s comments about Coyne in the OP look very apt here:

    > This is hilarious. The man who postures as someone committed to reason, science, and evidence, is the same man who is so easily played by a troll. The troll throws out the bait and Coyne, the hungry little guppy, swallows it hook, line, and sinker. That Coyne is so easily hoodwinked by such an obvious troll tells us he is only committed to evidence and the skeptical approach….when he feels like it.

  7. Dhay says:

    Jerry Coyne’s blog post dated September 13, 2015 and entitled “Why do many atheists hate the New Atheists?” — well, the title says it all, but Coyne agonises over it at length, including:

    One thing I don’t fully understand is the depth of rancor that many atheists have towards the “New Atheists,” especially people like Dan Dennett, Sam Harris, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Richard Dawkins, and the late Christopher Hitchens. We’ve all seen it, and I’ve written about it many times.

    Coyne does try to understand the rancour, or at any rate to attempt to explain it using his self-confessed limited understanding, finding two — no, three — ‘answers’:

    I can think of a couple of answers. The first is simple jealousy: some atheists haven’t achieved the fame or public profile of people like Hitchens, and so attack their character rather than their arguments. It’s also a way to get attention for yourself if you feel unappreciated.

    The second is the feeling by the Quiet Atheists that “New Atheists don’t represent me,” and so they must be called out.

    https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2015/09/13/why-do-some-atheists-hate-new-atheists/

    Coyne is floundering in incomprehension, and the three easiest answers — easiest for him — is that the “many atheists” hostile to him and his like are jealous, or they are attention-seeking, or they feel [my paraphrasing] alienated and openly rebellious.

    I find the first two too glib to be plausible — looks like Coyne has himself hooked upon his own wishes and gullibility.

    I reserve judgement on the third — looks like it’s a “many atheists” vs New Atheists squabble over whose views should be prominent — but note that it raises the questions of whose are the fringe views — surely not those of the “many” — and of who the abnormal outsiders are.

    The rest is essentially complaints and bemusement about the form the rancour takes, and how the “many atheists” attack New Atheists in ways which religious people do not (usually) attack other religions or other denominations.

    Coyne says he has written before about the depth of rancour that “many atheists” have towards the New Atheists; he has looked at it and written about it many times; but he still doesn’t “fully understand” it: I get the feeling that here is a man floundering in incomprehension.

  8. Dhay says:

    Dhay > In his blog post dated September 12, 2015 and entitled “Dilbert on free will”, Jerry Coyne once again uses a Dilbert comic strip to assert what he himself wants to assert.

    Verbose Stoic has now looked at the ideas behind that blog post of Coyne’s, and has examined it at length, and thoughtfully, from a philosophical perspective. It’s worth reading the entirety, but I’ll just quote the bottom line.

    … Coyne dismisses all who reject his idea. He doesn’t have the evidence to support that strong a claim … which is a bad thing for someone so insistent that we should follow the evidence and come to our beliefs rationally.

    https://verbosestoic.wordpress.com/2015/09/16/the-argument-from-theology-again/

    Put in other words, this is Michael’s bottom line above: “… [Coyne] is only committed to evidence and the skeptical approach….when he feels like it.”

  9. Dhay says:

    It took James McGrath’s blog to point it out to me, because I have become so used to Jerry Coyne’s inanity that I can read whole paragraphs with a mere, “What, again!”

    Coyne had written (in his October 31, 2015 blog post entitled “BBC poll: 40% of Brits don’t believe that “Jesus was a real person,” but BBC assumes he was!”):

    What’s more galling is that the BBC is taking what “many scholars believe” as the gospel truth—pardon the pun—despite the fact that close scrutiny gives virtually no extra-Biblical evidence for a historical Jesus. I’m still convinced that the judgement of scholars that “Jesus was a real man” comes not from evidence, but from their conviction that the Bible simply couldn’t be untruthful about that issue. …

    McGrath commented — and this is a mere fragment of an eminently readable critical post:

    How can someone who sees the problem with this kind of conspiracy view about experts in science when articulated by creationists, not see it when articulated by himself about experts in history? …

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2015/11/further-history-denialism-from-jerry-coyne.html

    Here is Coyne, who rails against “climate change denialists” (and against Christianity as promoting “climate change denialism”) because they run contrary to the scientific consensus on climate change and its causes — here is that same Coyne blithely rubbishing the overwhelming consensus of historians. It’s hypocrisy.

    Put in other words, this is a variation of Michael’s bottom line above: “… [Coyne] is only committed to evidence and the consensus of experts in a field….when he feels like it.”

  10. Dhay says:

    It’s nice to come across occasions when Jerry Coyne does use his critical faculties. In his blog post dated November 8, 2015 and entitled “Are children from non-religious homes more altruistic than those from religious homes?”, Coyne resists his tendency to exult in anything that agrees with his prejudices, and writes:

    I think one reason it’s been called to my attention so often is that the authors claim to show something counterintuitive: that children from nonbelieving homes are actually more altruistic than children from religious homes (mostly Christian and Muslim). That goes against the common belief—one often touted by religionists—that religion makes you more altruistic. But because the study plays into what we atheists would like to think, it behooves us to look at it especially carefully. The study has also received lots of press, much of it uncritical.

    https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2015/11/08/are-children-from-non-religious-homes-more-altruistic-than-those-from-religious-homes/

    Good man! Coyne read the paper four times to ensure he understood it, then ran through the methods and results for his fans, including a number of measured comments on the smallness of the differences between the tree groups, such as: “… nonbelieving kids gave away, on average, half a sticker more than did Christian kids and one more sticker than did Muslim kids. How meaningful would that be?” Coyne also questioned how and whether the laboratory style results would translate into real-life differences.

    Coyne then commented that “The authors make a fairly strong conclusion about what their study means”, questioned whether such strong conclusions could validly be drawn, and reproduced the rather less strong conclusions and informed comments of Gregory Paul, who he asked to perform an informal peer review.

    Prejudice isn’t entirely absent, however; Coyne approvingly quotes Paul:

    But true altruism can only occcur if the person expects absolutely no reward or evasion of punishment, and really feels they are making a core sacrifice by committing an act of kindness. But of course the major religions are reward/punishment schemes in which members are calculating they are going to get something from a deity if they do something nice to another, so believers are inherently barred from being altruistic as long as they are seeking heaven or the like.

    Or put another way, Paul and Coyne allege that Heaven — shouldn’t that be resurrection? — and Hell are effectively coercion, so that for the Moslem and Christian good behaviour is mandatory, not genuinely altruistic. Odd that — for this Christian, if God loves people then I, if I am to be Godly, should also love people; and that is aspiration, not compulsion. Faith, hope and love; and the greatest of these is love.

    Towards the end we see one of Coyne’s knee-jerk reaction triggers — he comments that the Templeton Foundation funded the research, writing “I’m not so sure that Templeton, dedicated to using science to buttress God and the “spiritual”, would like this result!”

    Perhaps the moderation of Coyne’s response to research which “several dozen readers” directed him towards is itself not moderation but another knee-jerk reaction: the paper uses “altruism” in a way which Coyne, implacable enemy as he (and Richard Dawkins) is of theories such as EO Wilson’s, which has altruism as a force for evolution, generally has a knee-jerk reaction to; it is easy to imagine Coyne hating to commend a paper which uses “altruism” the “wrong” way, and bucking the obvious enthusiasm his “readers” had for it.

    Coyne writes, “This is presumably “altruism” because the kids are helping others at a cost to themselves, although of course this isn’t biological altruism, in which one incurs a reproductive cost—a loss in the number of genes one passes on.” Nobody could suppose it was meant to be biological altruism, nobody would claim it was anything else than altruism as ordinarily understood; so it is a measure of Coyne’s obsession with the issue and strength of reaction that he so much as mentions it.

    It would be nice to think Coyne was genuinely moderate and balanced in his treatment of this paper, but it might be that he was just conflicted by two immoderations.

  11. Dhay says:

    As part of his blog post dated April 16, 2016 and entitled “Tom Todesca responds to my critique of his accommodationist comic” Jerry Coyne gives us this comedy classic:

    Earth to Todesca: David Bentley Hart (no hyphen) is not only not Catholic (he’s Eastern Orthodox) …

    https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2016/04/16/tom-todesca-responds-to-my-critique-of-his-accommodationist-comic/

    Earth to Coyne: Eastern Orthodox is Catholic.

    That’s probably a good indicator of the level of theological expertise Coyne has acquired from his two years of in-depth spare-time study of theology: he doesn’t know the simplest basics.

    Seriously, theology is not rocket science, and you can learn a great deal about it (granted, with much mental pain) by reading for two years, as I did. I deny that religion, or Catholic theology is beyond my expertise. …

    Why do religious people assume that theology is so hard to grasp?

    His own former theology tutor, Eric MacDonald, recently wrote (as a comment to Edward Feser’s review of Coyne’s FvF book) that “Coyne is completely out of his element in philosophy”; but Coyne has “expertise” in religion and Catholic theology, Coyne says: I see the Dunning–Kruger effect in play here.

    http://edwardfeser.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/review-of-coyne.html

  12. Dhay says:

    Jerry Coyne’s 24 September 2017 blog post entitled “Doubts cast on recent survey of college students’ attitudes toward free speech” corrects a previous blog post of his, in which — like many other commentators — he took seriously “the results of a poll of American college students’ attitudes towards free speech” which were surprising and shocking to him (and to me).

    The way the survey results have been presented are “malpractice” and “junk science” and “it should never have appeared in the press”, according to Cliff Zukin, a former president of the American Association of Public Opinion Polling, which sets ethical and transparency standards for polling.

    However, his survey was not administered to a randomly selected group of college students nationwide, what statisticians call a “probability sample”. Instead, it was given to an opt-in online panel of people who identified as current college students.

    “If it’s not a probability sample, it’s not a sample of anyone, it’s just 1,500 college students who happen to respond,” Zukin said, calling it “junk science”.

    https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2017/09/24/doubts-cast-on-recent-survey-of-college-students-attitudes-toward-free-speech/

    Full marks to Coyne for that update and correction of his earlier blog post and its very misleading information. Good man.

    I guess it takes a cynic like me to spot that Coyne’s intervening blog post also dated 24 September 2017 and entitled “Results of our Title IX poll: take accusations of sexual assault to the courts”, and reporting the results of a survey of his own, was also not administered to a “probability sample”, but instead given to an opt-in online panel of people who identified as current Coyne blog fans.

    Actually, it’s 335 voters/50,600 subscribers = a very tiny 0.66% of Coyne fans who took part — Coyne sees that — presumably those who find Coyne’s views most agreeable and who are consequently most engaged with Coyne.

    (I confess that I often find myself agreeing with Coyne at points, alongside my many disagreements, which is normal and healthy, I think.)

    It’s ironic that Coyne should tacitly agree that another’s survey is “junk science” while producing similar “junk science” himself.

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