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Aug 11 2011

Wingers are such post-modernists

I had a strange and twisted conversation with Billy Hallowell, a writer for Glenn Beck’s lunatic site, The Blaze, and and also the creator of that poll we pharyngulated the other day. He was not happy. He was also more than a little obtuse. He has now posted a rather fragmentary and unrepresentative version of the interview on his site.

I had to explain to him more than a few times that these online polls are utterly pointless — they are just exercises in back-patting among the commentariat, where they give themselves a false sense of confidence that they really are the majority with skewed numbers generated from their own ranks, and that all we do is show up and demonstrate that there are other views out there, and their numbers go all wacky. I even told him the situation would play out the same if I were stupid enough to put up a poll, and Beckian microcephalics showed up en masse…I don’t do these open polls because you learn nothing from them.

It’s a measure of their insularity that Hallowell seemed quite shocked that their poll could be shifted around so much; he says I “ignited a mini-firestorm”! My post was a “battle-cry”! No, I casually put up a quick link to a bad poll, as I often do, and suddenly the creators of that poll were distressed to see that they didn’t have the comfortable majority they expected.

He’s now claiming that we were making an “effort to prevent Blaze readers from participating in the Adam and Eve poll”. You naughty, naughty Pharyngulistas. Were you visiting wingnut homes and slapping the mice out of their hands? That wasn’t nice.

He also has a bit of a blind spot.

Whatever happened to making a solid case and fairly proving it? What was the point of these atheists’ time-sucking exploits?

My point exactly. Why is The Blaze substituting a stupid poll for making a solid, substantive case? It’s empty of facts, and is only an opportunity for people to cheer for their side in a complete absence of evidence.

One thing that didn’t really make it into his article, though, was his insistence that everyone had a right to their own opinion and their own beliefs. When we discussed the subject of his poll, I pointed out that there actually is a right answer in it, one that is selected by virtually all intelligent, educated adults who are familiar with the evidence, and it doesn’t jibe with the one his readership selected. He was persistent in his belief that that didn’t matter: there are creation scientists, he said, who disagreed (I explained that any large group of people will have a tiny fringe of crackpots, and that’s who he was talking about), and that surveys show about 40% of Americans believe in creationism (scientific truths aren’t settled by popularity contests), and by golly, his people had a right to believe whatever they wanted.

And of course they do. They have a right to be wrong. We have a right to show that they’re wrong.

People can disagree in their interpretations of the evidence, and I went out of my way to explain that theistic evolutionists, for instance, try to have beliefs that are consonant with the facts, but also add their own peculiar explanations, like the ensoulment of humans, that aren’t contradicted by the facts, but also lack actual evidence supporting them. The literalist interpretation of the book of Genesis, though, is something different: that’s an explanation that ignores the majority of the evidence, and is even contradicted by that evidence. That his readers largely opted for the counterfactual claim is evidence that they are ignorant of the science, or willfully defying the evidence because it does not prop up their ideology.

He was happy at one thing, though. I told him that I had readers who loved exposing stupidity, and his site looked like a rich vein of inanity, so he could expect a few new readers who’d be looking over his nonsense with a critical eye. He just likes the idea of more traffic, I guess. But sure, have fun; the comments to his article are just full of blinkered Christian bigotry and foolishness.

103 comments

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  1. 1
    HumanisticJones

    Whenever someone holding a scientifically untenable position says “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion,” they tend to leave out the implied “… and to never be asked to explain or defend their opinion.”

    These are usually the same people that equate being criticized publicly for a belief or statement with “being censored.”

  2. 2
    Kevin, 友好火猫 (Friendly Fire Cat)

    I would log in and explain one thing, but heck if I’m gonna sign up for “The Blaze” *shudder*

    He totally misrepresents one of your points. In one of the paragraphs he says:

    If you’re part of the 40 percent of Americans that believe in creationism rather than evolution, Myers thinks you’re an ignoramus.

    This is in response to your own:

    [Some people are] ignorant. Most of the people in this country don’t go out and argue for these ideas.

    That’s simply not the same. Being ignorant is not the same as being an ignoramus. Ignorance is just the lack of knowledge, it is not the same as stupidity. I was ignorant for years, I still am ignorant. I hate when people take offense to such a simple word.

  3. 3
    Glen Davidson

    In the end, Myers and I didn’t see eye to eye. I explained my dislike, regardless of opinion on any matter, for purposefully destroying a poll that was intended to explore our readers’ diverse views,

    Ha ha, like hell that’s your point. You just want people to vote in order to feel invested in your nonsense, as well as to get a bit of a feel for how you’re coming across.

    And your whining now? The same, basically, your just milking a minor controversy over a stupid net poll for your own ends.

    Glen Davidson

  4. 4
    Glen Davidson

    But whatever happened to making a solid case and then fairly proving it?

    Are you offering a forum for us to do so?

    We’ll be happy to take you up on it.

    If your whole point is to feed off of the gullible for your own gain, as I rather suspect, just continue as you’re doing.

    Glen Davidson

  5. 5
    Alverant

    I explained my dislike, regardless of opinion on any matter, for purposefully destroying a poll that was intended to explore our readers’ diverse views,

    If the poll is still there, then how is it destroyed? And since all the poll takers are readers (even if briefly) then why shouldn’t all their views be reflected?

    This guy is claiming oppression by having other people express their opinions.

  6. 6
    Otranreg

    That poll now misses the “see the results” link it used to have; it has stopped accepting new votes from the same IPs, and doesn’t show the poll’s results anyway.

    I bet it is the way they look after the gentle psyches of their raving commenters.

  7. 7
    Dhorvath, OM

    I wanna know what you think, but only if it agrees with what I think. So there.

  8. 8
    Freerefill

    Last I heard, the statistics regarding belief in god-driven evolution were not as skewed as what was initially shown in that poll.

    PZ is absolutely correct here: The only people who were going to vote in that poll were people who regularly visit that website, which means they likely share similar ideas. Which means, of course, that the poll was just going to show the statistic for who, amongst them, believed what, as opposed to the American majority.

    Yes, Pharyngulating is another word for “trolling a poll,” but who says trolling is inherently bad? Pointing out a serious flaw, if done with a dash of snark, isn’t, by itself, a bad thing, is it? And it doesn’t change any data; there was no worthy data to begin with. At least, none that couldn’t have been predicted.

  9. 9
    Kevin, 友好火猫 (Friendly Fire Cat)

    Hey PZ. Next one of these polls do a reverse Pharyngulization, figure out what they want and then plug it full of that answer. Will be fun to see them all smug in the “everyone thinks the same way” only to find out, “Oh yea, it’s been Pharyngulated.”

  10. 10
    Glen Davidson

    And guess what? If you’re part of the 40 percent of Americans that believe in creationism rather than evolution, Myers thinks you’re an ignoramus.

    No, he and many others regularly demonstrate that you’re an ignoramus (or at least ignorant about these matters).

    It isn’t a matter of opinion, it’s wholly demonstrable.

    Glen Davidson

  11. 11
    dragon

    This bit amused me from thier response.

    “The Blaze began to notice the proportions within the poll evolving and changing.”

    Still laughing

  12. 12
    What a Maroon

    If you ever change your policy and decide to post a poll, I propose the following:

    If you stand on the surface of the earth and let go of a coyote, what do you think will happen to it?

    a. It will fall towards the earth with an acceleration of about 9.81m/s^2 (ignoring the effects of other forces such as friction).
    b. It will hover in the air until it looks down and realizes it’s in midair, and will then fall (torso first, elongating the neck, followed by the head, followed by a broken off piece of cliff).
    c. It will fly off to wherever Glenn Beck is at the moment and try to knock some sense into him, and then die of despair at the futility of the task.
    d. It will bite your arm off before you have a chance to let go.
    e. GAWD!
    f. I dunno.

  13. 13
    The Pint

    But whatever happened to making a solid case and then fairly proving it?

    If that ever happens, I’ll eat my favorite fedora without sauce.

    In the end, Myers and I didn’t see eye to eye. I explained my dislike, regardless of opinion on any matter, for purposefully destroying a poll that was intended to explore our readers’ diverse views,

    ROFL. I’m pretty sure their idea of “diverse views” is arguing whether Adam and Eve were wearing fig leaves or maple leaves and what kind of “fruit” was on the tree, not about whether or not they even existed.

  14. 14
    Moggie

    Yeah, I really ought to stop taking part in these atheistic “time-sucking exploits”. Voting in that poll was a whole four seconds of my life I’ll never get back.

  15. 15
    Glen Davidson

    What was the point of these atheists’ time-sucking exploits?

    So, what’s the point of your theist time-sucking exploits? Why does Glenn Beck blather on idiotically, for instance?

    Might be that your question should be answered (I didn’t vote–seemed too pointless for me to care), but you have similar questions to answer.

    Glen Davidson

  16. 16
    Sundiver

    PZ, you can try and explain things to these assholes; you CANNOT understand it for them. Sorta like ya can’t fix stupid.

  17. 17
    Bronze Dog

    I’m glad to see another blogger notices the influence dippy hippie postmodernism has on the wingnuts.

  18. 18
    OverlappingMagisteria

    Also notable is that PZ never told specifically to vote for the godless option. We chose that ourselves. All that this pharyngulation has done is expose the poll to a wider audience.

  19. 19
    Jim

    “Results for this poll have been set to private.”

    Snerk. Big surprise there.

  20. 20
    Kevin

    No one has apparently told Hallowell that at one point in human history, everyone knew the Earth was flat.

    Doesn’t matter what percentage of the population believes in something, Billy. What matter is whether or not you can prove it.

  21. 21
    Anubis Bloodsin III

    #OP

    “Whatever happened to making a solid case and fairly proving it?”

    So this so called ‘poll’ was a solid case for…what exactly?
    It was all going so well until…

    Someone took his dummy away!

    Ahh diddums den.

    Because that is what this crap excuse for a ‘poll’ is…a sad and pathetic attempt to make the deluded feel better and cosy in their delusion, something to comfort and something to drool over, and somebody went ‘n’ gone ‘n’ spoiled their jeebus inspired communal wank!

    Now they have begin again…so unfair!

    ‘Jeebus drool interuptus’…not nice!

    “What was the point of these atheists’ time-sucking exploits?”

    Nope wrong again, the important question was..’.What is the point of this poll again?’

    Anyway being fair minded….’naughty Pharyngulistas…no bacon for you before bedtime!’

  22. 22
    Eamon Knight

    ….was his insistence that everyone had a right to their own opinion and their own beliefs.

    Standard retreat maneuver of a fanatic who knows he’s losing the argument on its merits. Had a local perpetuum mobilist try that, in conversation with a few of us skeptics, a few years ago.

    (Blatant self-promotion: a couple of us recently made the CBC over the affair: http://cfiottawa.com/a-trick-question/)

  23. 23
    Mark

    On being entitled to your opinion:

    “You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.”
    — Harlan Ellison

    “It is admitted that he did sincerely believe [...]; but the sincerity of his conviction can in no wise help him, because he had no right to believe on such evidence as was before him. He had acquired his belief not by honestly earning it in patient investigation, but by stifling his doubts. And although in the end he may have felt so sure about it that he could not think otherwise, yet inasmuch as he had knowingly and willingly worked himself into that frame of mind, he must be held responsible for it.”
    – William K. Clifford, “The Ethics of Belief” (1877)

  24. 24
    Roughdraft274

    It’s just a poll. Those right wingers are a bunch of morons, lol. Always looking for something to be upset about.

  25. 25
    Brick Window

    I was stupid enough to read the Blaze comments after Pharyngulating on the same day I read the comments on Discovery Channel from after the Hawking episode aired.

    I went to bed, pulled the covers over my head and mourned for society.

    Fair warning to anyone prone to depression…

  26. 26
    Kevin

    @23.
    +2 internets for you.

    I’m stealing those…thanks.

  27. 27
    Le Havre en Chêne

    Mark:

    I’ve always said that people are not entitled to their opinion; rather they are entitled to express their opinion. Entitlement to one’s opinion would mean obliging others to make concessions for it. A purely semantic quibble, of course, but valid nonetheless.

  28. 28
    UpAgainstTheRopes

    LMAO!

    the final poll results?

    The atheists involved were able to take the 75.16 percent God-inspired proportion and transform the poll to show 85.05 percent of respondents agreeing with their take — that God had no involvement in the formation of mankind.

    39,000 votes? Did someone run a script?

    Here comes the tidal wave of Christian persecution complex in the Blaze’s comments section…

  29. 29
    Kichae

    Everybody’s entitled to their own opinion. People whose opinions contradict mine. Stop sending people here to share their opinion!

    That’s the problem with “I have a right to my opinion.” More often than not what people are saying with this is “YOU have a right to my opinion, but you’d better damn well shut up about yours.”

  30. 30
    'Tis Himself

    Aw, is Hallowell all upset to discover there’s a fair number of people who don’t agree with his opinion?

  31. 31
    MFHeadcase

    ‘Tis, he may be pissy to learn that the readership of a blog where such people congregate is much larger and more tech savvy than his readership.

  32. 32
    llewelly

    UpAgainstTheRopes | 11 August 2011 at 2:17 pm :

    39,000 votes? Did someone run a script?

    pharyngula is easily popular enough to generate 39,000 votes without scripting.
    If someone did write a script, it was (a) slow, and (b) programmed to stop at a relatively low number of votes; a script can cast 100s of thousands of votes very quickly.
    The surprising thing here is that someone with connections to Glenn Beck couldn’t turn up 50,000 or 100,000 votes to defeat the pharynguloids.

  33. 33
    Vicki

    Kichae @29:

    That’s the problem with “I have a right to my opinion.” More often than not what people are saying with this is “YOU have a right to my opinion, but you’d better damn well shut up about yours.”

    QFT

  34. 34
    Kevin Klein

    My God, I have never seen such concentrated stupid as I read in the comments section of the Blaze post. It’s like super dense, won’t let anything escape, black hole core stupid. I’m afraid to go near as I don’t want to have all my brains sucked out.

  35. 35
    Sastra

    One thing that didn’t really make it into his article, though, was his insistence that everyone had a right to their own opinion and their own beliefs.

    Oh, I’m so sick of that.

    This plaintive whine in the face of criticism that hey, we all have a RIGHT to our beliefs seems to be based on two confusions: that there is no difference between matters of personal preference and statements of fact; and that the natural alternative to remaining uncriticized is being marched to the gulags for extermination.

    Telling someone their religious belief is mistaken is supposed to be like telling them their whole life is a total waste — plus they’re ugly and their mother dresses them funny. No! They have a RIGHT to be themselves! And what they are is the kind of person who believes the earth is 6,000 years old. It’s not our role to judge. Dissent is censored.

    Because you know who else judged? That’s right. Hitler. Dissent is also censorship itself.

    This is common across the religious spectrum and is probably at least partially the result of the constant emphasis that’s placed on the importance of faith in arriving at truth. Faith is good, so we needs use it on everything. The significance of having chosen your spiritual beliefs as a reflection of your personal needs jumps over the religion fence and runs amok. Suddenly every belief is a faith belief no matter how solid and obvious the evidence or how straight and clear the line of reasoning. You believe God exists on faith — but you also believe the sun exists on faith too so there’s no need to apologize. After all, we could be in the Matrix; thus it’s all an unjustified leap, reality an undifferentiated ground of mush with nothing to pick or choose as more likely than anything else … except for faith. Which is apparently a sort of ESP

    So don’t laugh at my religion.

    Too late.

  36. 36
    Ismenia

    PZ, you’re right that putting polls on Pharyngula would serve no useful purpose but it would be kind of fun to see it as a competitive sport. Set up a poll with a similar question and tip off the creationists (otherwise it would be unsporting). See who wins.

    It wouldn’t offer much in terms of empirical evidence but there are worse ways of wasting time online.

  37. 37
    dean the bean

    Kevin @34: you said it better than I could. Reading those comments you can feel IQ points physically draining away.

    Regarding the number of votes cast: the real reason they’re so upset is because they are so absolutely outnumbered. They couldn’t muster enough of their own voters to register more than a blip in the poll results.

    You can tell from reading those comments that they badly want to see a xian theocracy in the US. And they wonder why we athiests care so much?

  38. 38
    tski

    They are of course entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts

  39. 39
    Sir Eccles

    A thought occurs to me. If these types of people get pissy and throw their toys out of the pram when the results of a silly online poll don’t go their way, what are they prepared to do to ensure real elections suit their purposes?

    Unfortunately the answer already presents itself in voter registration and ID laws which disenfranchise large chunks of the population. Getting their buddies in certain States to stop recounts. Not counting mail in ballots at all, many of which come from the military stationed overseas…

    While we laugh at third world dictators stuffing ballot boxes we should be mindful of our own elections and how they are conducted.

  40. 40
    Robin Marie

    As your title points out, this a a good example of the weird reciprocal relationship between the far-right and post-modernists that I have noticed for a while. It’s almost amusing since, despite their insistence that all politics is hegemonic discourse, most post-modernists are nonetheless leftyish, at least, and it’s funny to see how their ideas leak into the society and get picked up by right-wingers who latch on to this idea that all interpretations are equally valid and likely to be true. Pretty ironic considering the majority of early post-modernists and probably a plurality today focus on setting us free from the hegemony of the discourse of the conservative establishment. Be careful what you wish for!

  41. 41
    DonDueed

    Sure, everyone has a right to their beliefs. But no one has a right to have their beliefs go unchallenged.

  42. 42
    'smee

    Your right to your opinion stops at my ear canal. It does not require me to listen, agree, or accept.

  43. 43
    Randomfactor

    What, their god couldn’t wriggle his noodly appendage into the poll to affect a win, but ours could? Maybe these polls DO prove something after all.

  44. 44
    daveau

    While Myers believes that those who fully embrace evolution are “kind of stupid,”…

    Intentional typo ya think?

  45. 45
    Sastra

    Robin Marie #40 wrote:

    Pretty ironic considering the majority of early post-modernists and probably a plurality today focus on setting us free from the hegemony of the discourse of the conservative establishment.

    As I understand it, postmodernism was a rebellion against modernism — which was primarily identified with the humanist values of the Enlightenment rather than with the dogma of the traditional religions from which it rebelled. Therefore both postmodernists and traditionalists share a common distaste for science — and a common agreement that “truth” is really a matter of “faith” or choice or tribe: the search for a rational consensus of humanity is impossible. That’s why there’s the resemblance.

    Of course, it’s more complicated than that — and I don’t really have the background to make pronouncements — but that’s what I see as the rough gist of this issue. The Spiritual Left and the Religious Right both think there are “other ways of knowing’ that trump science. The main difference seems to be that the first group tolerantly wants to consider every view to be as valid as any other (“we all have our own truths”) while the second group agrees that every belief is based on faith, but one of those faiths is true and the others are false and the people who get it right apparently have some sort of personal relationship with ESP.

  46. 46
    OHHKELLEE

    Mark,

    I found “The Ethics of Belief” online. I’m currently reading it & I’m enjoying it! Thanks for sharing. :)

  47. 47
    You don't know Jack

    It always spins me out that they want to try and use science to prove their beliefs, and when they want to insult atheists they call atheism a religion.

    So:
    science = good
    religion = bad

    and yet they’re too stupid to realise that they’re compliment us and insulting themselves!

  48. 48
    It'spiningforthefyords

    Well, it’s no surprise – and only the smallest bit disappointing – that people here are, deep down, every bit as human as the dullest creationist. Or is that bass ackwards?

    Here we have the ceremonial burning of the “post-modernist” strawman (and this after the second wave of post-modernists had already devalued to the Sokal standard the previous creative work done many years ago!)

    Why not weigh a new-age witch and see if she weighs the same as a Xian duck?

    The best philosophers are experimenting with the way humans think and can think. And they will inevitably be more wrong, and go too far, because that is the nature of the discipline.
    Science has at least as much to be ashamed of as the silly side of the word games of PMism.

    But I know I’m talking to a crowd as sure they are right as a teenage creationist in Kansas is that Adam & Eve were real (white) people.

    As the old Firesign Theatre said: everything you know is wrong! Quite a real PMist position, actually.

  49. 49
    Phil65

    You just gave this guy a ton of extra clicks, and all he can do is whine about it. Fine. If it makes him feel any better, I have no intention of ever visiting his shitty website.

  50. 50
    Matt Penfold

    Well, it’s no surprise – and only the smallest bit disappointing – that people here are, deep down, every bit as human as the dullest creationist. Or is that bass ackwards?

    No, it is just bullshit.

    Here we have the ceremonial burning of the “post-modernist” strawman (and this after the second wave of post-modernists had already devalued to the Sokal standard the previous creative work done many years ago!)

    When you put words together try and make sure that are both syntactically correct and semantically meaningful. That paragraph was neither. I would try to work out what you mean, but I doubt you know yourself.

    Why not weigh a new-age witch and see if she weighs the same as a Xian duck?

    Again, you not being coherent.

    The best philosophers are experimenting with the way humans think and can think. And they will inevitably be more wrong, and go too far, because that is the nature of the discipline.

    This is just vague.

    Science has at least as much to be ashamed of as the silly side of the word games of PMism.

    And this is just bollocks.

    But I know I’m talking to a crowd as sure they are right as a teenage creationist in Kansas is that Adam & Eve were real (white) people.

    And this is just delusional.

    As the old Firesign Theatre said: everything you know is wrong! Quite a real PMist position, actually.

    And we are back to bollocks.

  51. 51
    'smee

    It’spiningforthefyords@41.

    WTF?

    Well, it’s no surprise – and only the smallest bit disappointing – that people here are, deep down, every bit as human as the dullest creationist.

    it’s disappointing that people are human???

    Here we have the ceremonial burning of the “post-modernist” strawman

    your post so far is Po-Mo – philosophical objection but zero content.

    Why not weigh a new-age witch and see if she weighs the same as a Xian duck?

    What? Oh! You’re being ironically witty! AH! I see! How ploddingly rationalist of me not to see that right away. ha. ha. ha.

    The best philosophers are experimenting with the way humans think and can think. And they will inevitably be more wrong, and go too far, because that is the nature of the discipline.

    inevitably be more wrong!

    go too far? What is too far? What is more wrong?

    The peepul demand to know!

    Oh! You don’t know? You’re just wanking? Ok then…

    Science has at least as much to be ashamed of as the silly side of the word games of PMism.

    and that would be????

    But I know I’m talking to a crowd as sure they are right as a teenage creationist in Kansas is that Adam & Eve were real (white) people.

    This crowd are only sure of one thing – that knowledge is always provisional, that it is acquired through study, investigation, and evidential rigor – and never through accepting the status quo, regardless of any assumed authority.

    But, then, rethinking that statement I am obviously wrong and you are obviously so right, I don’t even know why you bothered to post, or why I continue to even live…

    As the old Firesign Theatre said: everything you know is wrong! Quite a real PMist position, actually.

    Almost right, at the end there. Although it’s not wrong. Some things are not even wrong. And some things are provisionally right until proven/demonstrated to be wrong.

    That’s Science, bitch.

    Deal.

  52. 52
    'smee

    WTF happened to me numbers?

    that was to It’spiningforthefyords@48.

  53. 53
    Phalacrocorax, z Třetího Světa

    It’spiningforthefyords said:

    The best philosophers are experimenting

    Yup, but now we call them scientists.

  54. 54
    Toiletman

    This is affirmative action only! Why?
    Well, the very ideological and anti-science side authors make a to get affirmation from the readership that is, based on the topic, of course his opinion. He knows it already but he desperately needs the affirmation. :D

  55. 55
    Ing

    Again, you not being coherent.

    Duh, Postmodernism

  56. 56
    Sastra

    Itspiningforthefyords #48 wrote:

    Here we have the ceremonial burning of the “post-modernist” strawman …

    We’re not necessarily addressing academic or philosophical postmodernism here, but the “pop” version given out by people who are trying to defend unjustified beliefs like creationism or reiki. So we don’t have to build a strawman: if it’s been built, it was built by other hands. If you like, you can pretend we are like you outraged by the distortions of those people who have reduced the majesty of postmodernist theory to “we all have our own truths” and “everything is faith” and “people have a RIGHT to their beliefs” as a way to deflect honest criticism. Those bastards.

  57. 57
    Lyra

    I can’t see the results at all. Why?

    (Note: We will have an update with results later today, as they have been removed for the time being to verify their accuracy):

    I expect that the results will be shifted through until they get the comfortable majority that they so desire.

  58. 58
    F

    Sastra

    Faith is good, so we needs use it on everything.

    It’s like catsup! Some fringe people want to use it on everything, some people use it a little, and it makes others gag just to be in the same room as an open bottle.

  59. 59
    Sarcosapien

    “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion”

    I thought that crowd was against entitlements. This sounds suspiciously like Ideological Welfare to me.

  60. 60
    Pierce R. Butler

    … I went out of my way to explain that theistic evolutionists, for instance, try to have beliefs that are consonant with the facts…

    What’s an accommodationist like you doing in a place like this?

  61. 61
    M Groesbeck

    @ Sastra #56 –

    We’re not necessarily addressing academic or philosophical postmodernism here, but the “pop” version given out by people who are trying to defend unjustified beliefs like creationism or reiki.

    This part’s important. Because in terms of actual post-modernism (and post-structuralism), wingers (and the “pop-pomo” types) are to post-modernism what fruit flies are to entomology. Most of the post-modernist crowd don’t actually propose (except as extended metaphors and/or academic trolling — and there’s a great deal of both) that reality is entirely imaginary — just that we don’t live in it. Our expectations, perceptions, sense limits, expectations, etc. — in whatever combination of biological, cultural, and individual — shape our understanding of, well, everything so fundamentally that we really can’t identify our experiences with an objective external reality. We can try to get some idea about what such an external reality might be like (which is what science is so good at), but we’re never really living there. The wingers, on the other hand, are the ones who are insisting that there can be no external Real beyond the poll-derived (or doctrinally-established) politically-preferred ideological/metaphorical/linguistic/etc. system — they’re a blatant case study of the phenomenon that the post-modernist crowd describe. (The hyperrealist types are often particularly on point with this, but are also often the ones who seem to most enjoy suggesting this in creatively impenetrable ways.)

  62. 62
    Chickenfried

    Aww geez….

    Beck’s Blaze just gave another wannabe know-it-all national exposure…there goes the neighborhood.

  63. 63
    machintelligence

    “Against stupidity even the Gods themselves contend in vain.”
    Schiller (it sounds even better in the original German).

    Opinions are a lot like assholes: everyone has one and most of them are full of shit!

    Just my $.02

  64. 64
    Robin Marie

    @Sastra:

    “Therefore both postmodernists and traditionalists share a common distaste for science — and a common agreement that “truth” is really a matter of “faith” or choice or tribe: the search for a rational consensus of humanity is impossible. That’s why there’s the resemblance.”

    I agree, when referring to the more ridiculous postmodernists. Also good was the elaboration/clarification by M Groesbeck. What I would add is that while you are correct to say that postmodernism “rebels” against the Enlightenment legacy/modernism, they don’t actually escape being dependent on it. I say this because someone like Foucault, for example, claimed that the Enlightenment produced the tyranny of reason through a discourse of reason that was used to oppress people, and label them deviant. BUT, all postmodernists, even if they claim they dislike the Enlightenment, ironically continue Enlightenment tradition because they are, of course, making truth claims (whether or not they will admit to this is another thing, but the more honest among them will) and critiquing the major institutions of their society on the basis of trying to get past the bullshit. And that’s an Enlightenment tradition, through and through.

    For example, a lot of them say Enlightenment tradition provided the intellectual justification for capitalist exploitation, etc. There is some truth to this. But it gives Enlightenment discourse far more power than it had — far more likely it mostly had to do with the rising financial power of the middle-class, for example — AND, it ignores that Enlightenment tradition set the stage for future critics, and some at the time (Rousseau in particular) to criticize the new capitalist order. So some postmodernists like to just bash on the Enlightenment without realizing it is completely essential to their project.

    So in my mind the postmodernists who like to say that the Enlightenment was all about oppression and hegemony — and it is important to note this is not all of them — are quite mistaken, and even more humorously so since they are really trashing the development that enabled their own thought. I’ve made up a presentation about the postmodern critique of the Enlightenment but have not yet managed to get a decent video out of it. Anyway, interesting topic.

  65. 65
    Shak

    ARGH…. Blaze….. Comment…. Aneurysm … help

  66. 66
    Tim DeLaney

    I read a few of their comments, and inside the first dozen or so I found “no atheists in foxholes”, “why are there still monkeys?”, Pascal’s wager, and “You’ll regret it on judgement day.”

    I’d classify 80% of them as semi-literate, and I’m being generous. (My definition of literate involves expressing cogent thought; perhaps I set the bar too high.)

  67. 67
    M Groesbeck

    @ Robin Marie # 64 –

    To be fair, the parts of the post-etc. continuum that absorb a bit of basic linguistics do tend to have a more serious critique of claims that language can be treated as a formal system in a way that would allow definitive truth claims. In a situation where language is a continually shifting and wildly subjective process, where words don’t have meanings so much as vaguely-defined regions of a semantic field with piles of connotation as part of the basic function of the word…trying to make claims about reality with the sort of linguistic rigor that certain of the “analytic philosophy” types take for granted is basically unsupportable. Now, the above is a factual claim about how language and factual claims work put together using language — but it should be taken as provisional and with all sorts of invisible asterisks and unstated assumptions. It’s not that truth claims are going to be rather unavoidably questionable because reality doesn’t work that way; it’s that truth claims are going to be rather unavoidably questionable because language doesn’t work in a way that makes solid and definite truth claims feasible. (And yes, you can use a rigorous formal language — but then you’re really only making statements about that formal language. To apply any conclusions to reality, you have to engage in a semiotic process which undercuts the solidity of those formally-derived truth claims.) Because truth claims are expressed in language which is unavoidably self-contradictory, and because part of language is the interpretation by individually-situated interpreters whose models of reality may be rather wildly divergent…some of the post-structuralist crowd have jumped rather gleefully into a metaphorical ocean of metaphors looking for ways to effectively describe this or that subjective experience. Which I think is part of why so much post-whatever work gets done in literature rather than philosophy departments; the carefully-calibrated tools don’t do what they were supposed to, so what is there left to do but repurpose them to have some fun and make some art?

  68. 68
    nemo the derv

    I’m surprised that she figured out what happened.
    Anyway, a few points:
    #1 It was an open poll. Nowhere did it say that people who frequent Pharyngula were not allowed to vote.
    #2 If you allow for voting multiple times you should not be surprised if some people do.
    #3 I’ll wager dimes to dollars the 40% figure you keep crowing about comes from the same kind of lazy, flawed, opinion steering, unscientific and crappy-ass internet poll that you put up on your site.
    #4 The number one most published book in the world is the bible. The number two book is “Quotations from Mao Tze Tung”. Popular does not meant right.

  69. 69
    Michael

    Page 11 of comments @ http://www.theblaze.com/stories/atheist-hijack-the-blazes-adam-and-eve-creation-poll-but-why/

    BURNTHILLS
    Posted August 11, 2011 at 7:44pm
    we bet that any of these atheists attached to a trailer hitch is going to start screaming for GOD to save him long before the old pick-up truck even starts moving.

    [I bet he got a little stiffy just thinking about it.]

  70. 70
    Jeroen Versteeg

    You really have to give Billy Hallowell credit for linking to this site, and your tweets, and even embedding a 50 minute talk on his page! At least this way, his readers at least have the opportunity to see the source and think for themselves.

  71. 71
    nemo the derv

    It seems that alot of people on the Billy’s own thread are criticizing him for the laziness of the poll. It’s seems that they got the point.

  72. 72
    Brother Bill

    He works for a person that believes that the angel Moroni personally appeared to Joseph Smith and provided several gold plates just long enough for Smith to record them as the Book of Mormon. Why should we be surprised when they exhibit traits that accurately reflect the angel’s name sans the last letter?

  73. 73
    karmacat

    I suspect Hallowell is also upset because PZ Myers’ website is more popular than his.

  74. 74
    donald

    Kind of a dull article by a dim person but the thing that made laugh was the Ke$sh “get sleazy” tour advert. Think Beck has tickets for it?

  75. 75
    richardelguru

    #12

    b. It will hover in the air until it looks down and realizes it’s in midair, and will then fall (torso first, elongating the neck, followed by the head, followed by a broken off piece of cliff).

    Maroon Since this is OT I’ll just link, but this is psychologically exactly what happens! See this for the conclusive evidence.

  76. 76
    Colin Mackay

    It troubles me PZ. Tell me if you would, given the worst case scenario, Perry wins, the theocratic right achieve what they have worked, dilligently, for 40 or so years, control of both houses of your parliment. What then? We know that it is a possibility now, control of the biggest nuclear arsenal in the world, married to american exceptionalism, the rules do not apply here, we’re special, what then? Not much, apart from semantic arguments, bothers me about those that hold dear a naturalistic understanding. However, worst case scenario, in a global world, where an americam hemogeny, are we to do? To often I hear from within the ‘scientific’ community, derision of the social sciences, mocking of post-modernism, critical analysis, marxism…What, when the brown shirts are kicking down the door, does the evidence sugest I do?

  77. 77
    Alan Macphail

    Can’t blame me, I had to go to work last night so I only managed to vote twice.

  78. 78
    Colin Mackay

    [edit] It troubles me PZ. Tell me, if you would, given the worst case scenario, Perry wins, the theocratic right achieve what they have worked for, dilligently, for 40 or so years; control of both houses of your parliment. What then? We know that it is a possibility, control of the biggest nuclear arsenal in the world, married to american exceptionalism (the rules do not apply here, we’re special), what then? Not much, apart from semantic arguments, bothers me about those that hold dear a naturalistic understanding. However, again worst case scenario; in a global world,where exists an americam hemogeny, are we to do, when the reality of an american theocracy realises? To often I hear from within the ‘scientific’ community, derision of the social sciences, mocking of post-modernism, critical analysis…what is that…no data, marxism… What, when the brown shirts are kicking down the door, does the evidence suggest I do?

  79. 79
    Colin Mackay

    I’m not going to edit it again. I’m sure you know what I mean.

  80. 80
    SallyStrange, Spawn of Cthulhu

    I’m not going to edit it again. I’m sure you know what I mean.

    Your confidence in your comprehensibility is unwarranted, but I don’t think it has anything to do with editing.

  81. 81
    Carbon Based Life Form

    Colin, the paragraph is your friend. The solid block of text is not. Also, when you write

    To often I hear from within the ‘scientific’ community, derision of the social sciences, mocking of post-modernism, critical analysis…what is that…no data, marxism…

    I most certainly do not know what you mean.

  82. 82
    Spunmunkey

    Tempted to fire up the popcorn maker & head over to The Blaze, then thought… Hang on – I can take great aim from here…

    Stupid is as stupid does.

  83. 83
    consciousness razor

    What, when the brown shirts are kicking down the door, does the evidence suggest I do?

    I guess the evidence would suggest that by then it’s too late to build a stronger door. Praying wouldn’t help…. Hmm, I guess you should avoid doing anything monstrous yourself.

    Is this a trick question?

  84. 84
    theophontes

    @ Kitty #2

    Ignorance is just the lack of knowledge, it is not the same as stupidity.

    Mark Twain: “Ignorance ain’t what you don’t know. Ignorance is what you know that ain’t so.”

    …………………

    I also have a confession to make. I used “Shift”+”Ctrl”+P in Firefox in order to vote ten times (2x for each of ma kitties, thay haz teh ebil … moar). Sue me blaze, sue me, for I have sinned.

  85. 85
    Brownian

    and that surveys show about 40% of Americans believe in creationism

    What a devastating argument to use against someone who made your little poll go the way you didn’t want.

    When I’m King of the World, Beck and his fans and their smooth, unwrinkled, never-used brains will be the first into the nutrient vats.

  86. 86
    SallyStrange, Spawn of Cthulhu

    Sue me blaze, sue me, for I have sinned.

    Oh, is that why America is such a litigious society?

  87. 87
    What a Maroon

    Maroon Since this is OT I’ll just link, but this is psychologically exactly what happens! See this for the conclusive evidence.

    When I fell off the stairs, I had an out-of-body sensation. Therefore Jesus.

    And I see now that I should’ve included magnets in the poll.

  88. 88
    Robin Marie

    “Which I think is part of why so much post-whatever work gets done in literature rather than philosophy departments; the carefully-calibrated tools don’t do what they were supposed to, so what is there left to do but repurpose them to have some fun and make some art?”

    Exactly. And I do think in recent years that postmodernism has mostly retreated to the areas where it is appropriate and helpful, such as literature, art, etc. But in the past it has occasionally tried to tread on the ground of analyzing scientific objective reality and trumping it up to a discourse; the Sokal hoax of course being the best example of this. (Of course Sokal’s paper was a fraud, but the point being of course that a postmodern journal actually decided to print it.)

    And I think the other tension is when it comes to politics. Because postmodernism posits values as pretty much subjectivity all the way down, most of them find it very difficult to actually advocate for a set of political goals based on fundamental political principles. You see this dynamic during the Chomsky & Foucault debate (which you can find easily on Youtube) where Foucault basically says, you can’t put forward a concept of justice on which to base political goals because “justice” itself is a class concept that could end up resulting in oppression. So there is no “justice” outside of the discourse of Western, Enlightenment class relations. That’s pretty problematic thinking if we want to have any kind of politics; and Foucault himself supported this or that political movement, and was obviously mostly Left, but at the same time couldn’t fully commit himself to any vision of politics, and also made some very bad errors of judgment, such as when he supported the Iranian Revolution in 1979 because you know, Muslims were declaring their freedom over Western hegemony so it didn’t phase Foucault that they were doing so in the name of this very repressive Islamic vision. [Of course if he was still alive he might back away from that now.]

    Anyway, basically I agree with everything you said about postmodernism and its evaluation of language, but myself enjoy thinking about how problematic postmodernism becomes whenever it bumps into other realms — ie, into science and political philosophy. It’s funny because I always say that when I am hanging around historians a lot, I get a little queasy from all the postmodernism; and then when I am hanging around atheists a lot, I tend to think they would benefit from understanding the basics of it (in some way other than the caricatured manner).

  89. 89
    theophontes

    @ Sally

    Punish to purify.

    Your average religious “logic” would hold that sin is a disease and must be physically driven from the sinner. “Spare the rod and spoil the child.” There are still too many people who think in this way. eg: Killing the poor, or teh geyhz, before they “infect” society. The first example powered by brute ignorance, the second by rabid godism.

    The exact same ideas as are spawned in American churches may, in the absence of mitigating factors, lead to all kinds of mayhem. And these mitigating factors, in my jaundiced perspective, include science, rationality and respect for basic human rights that are constantly under attack by these same fools – because they run counter to their religious world view.

    (I am pretty sure mere suing has little effect on sin though.)

  90. 90
    DaveL

    If you’re part of the 40 percent of Americans that believe in creationism rather than evolution, Myers thinks you’re an ignoramus.

    Is there a name for this particular cognitive malfunction? The one where you take a criticism of something you do or something you believe and pretend it’s a criticism of who you are? It seems so widespread: not only is it how you get “Creationism isn’t ignorant; I believe in creationism, and I’ve got an MBA”, it’s also how you get “Transubstantiation isn’t a crazy idea, are you calling me insane?” or “How can you say what I said was racist? My best friend is black!”

    This tendency to avoid an honest appraisal of our actions and ideas by substituting our own self-image for critical scrutiny might also account for all those who don’t signal because they’re “good drivers”.

  91. 91
    Dr. I. Needtob Athe

    As you say, “scientific truths aren’t settled by popularity contests.”

    Glenn Beck is a Mormon, isn’t he? Here’s a YouTube video of Mormon “Elder” Boyd K. Packer telling a cute story of how a schoolchild wanted to determine the sex of a kitten by voting on it. It starts at 1:47 and ends with the audience laughing at 2:30.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDceBHOgm6A&t=1m47s

    Of course, the manner in which he attempts to interpret the story to support his agenda is beneath contempt, but the story itself stands as an excellent illustration of the fallacy of truth by majority vote.

  92. 92
    KG

    Which I think is part of why so much post-whatever work gets done in literature rather than philosophy departments; the carefully-calibrated tools don’t do what they were supposed to, so what is there left to do but repurpose them to have some fun and make some art? – M Groesbeck

    Stop arseing about and do something useful?

  93. 93
    SallyStrange, Spawn of Cthulhu

    Hey, having fun and making art are distinctly useful activities!

    (I have no other comment on M. Grosbeak’s other opinions.)

  94. 94
    justlurking

    Why does this make me think of PZ?

  95. 95
    'Tis Himself

    justlurking #94

    Okay, I’ll play your silly game. Why does that make you think of PZ?

  96. 96
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Okay, I’ll play your silly game. Why does that make you think of PZ?

    *Starts resharpening titanium fang…*

  97. 97
    Phalacrocorax, z Třetího Světa

    I don’t know about justlurking, but that picture makes me think of narwhals. I wonder why.

  98. 98
    Carbon Based Life Form

    Is PZ supposed to be the unicorn or is he Darth Vader?

  99. 99
    buckyball60

    This adds the exact amount of humour the topic deserves.

    http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=1271

  100. 100
    KG

    SallyStrange@93,
    A fair point. M Groesbeck actually misrepresents postmodernism – self-important pseudo-intellectual wankery would be a more accurate description.

  101. 101
    Spector567

    One thing I find amusing about there comments is that they think this took effort. That this was some how a campaign.

    This was one post by PZ saying hey they are having a poll…. Take part.

    And we took part. If he only wanted people on his own site than he should have made it a closed poll.

  102. 102
    Mr. Meade

    I laugh that it’s even called a “poll”. It’s a popularity contest, not a poll. Polls use data from a group of people, ask them only once (or once a day/week/month/etc.), to show trends, publish the results, have known margins of error that can be calculated using actual mathematical formulas, and are designed to show something. Even using legitimate methods, polls can easily be designed to skew the results toward desired ends. But those lazy dolts aren’t smart enough for that.

    They used to be Fox employees, so the only polling they understand was learned from watching American Idol. Apparently they were happy with all the prior winners, too.

  103. 103
    Onshay

    Had a blast reading through the comments over there. A great mix of “screw those pinko leftist god-haters” and “it’s too bad they’re not as mature as us.”. Also, love how the only conservative atheist that spoke up got attacked by her/his fellow “Blazers” (damn, what a stupid nickname).

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