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Dec 01 2011

I am honestly happy that Phillip Johnson is still alive

The last time I saw an appearance of the founder of the Intelligent Design movement, Johnson was looking very frail, recovering from a stroke. It’s also been quite some time since I’ve seen him make an appearance. I hope that his mental faculties are also strong, and that he’s alert and aware. The IDists are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the publication of his book, Darwin on Trial, so I’d love to know that he’s having a grand time.

Why, you might wonder…after all, that book they’re celebrating is dishonest tripe, and the ID movement has been pure poison to science. I make no bones about the fact that I consider Johnson to be an intellectual criminal.

The reason is simple: Jason Rosenhouse is right. Intelligent Design is dead. I want Johnson to suffer the pain and frustration of knowing that he has wasted his life, and that he’ll be remembered as a failure.

His book was a cobbled together hodge-podge of specious reasoning, using legal logic to raise unwarranted doubts over concepts he couldn’t understand. He was no scientist; neither are his followers. He was a pettifogging lawyer coming off a divorce and a midlife crisis who tried to find redemption by lying for Jesus. It didn’t work.

Creationism staggered out of the Edwards v. Aguillard case in 1987 in a shambles — creationism was repudiated, it was tarred entirely as a religious concept, and prohibited from schools as a violation of the Establishment Cause. They had to find a strategy to hide its religious underpinnings, and there was good ol’ Lawyer Johnson, happy to provide it. That was his contribution, the smokescreen of ID.

It thrived for a while; it had its successes as yokels everywhere embraced it as a way to pretend their Old Time Religion was actually cutting edge science. It received a mortal blow in the Kitzmiller trial, which saw through the nonsense. It’s tainted fruit now. THey’re struggling to find a new frame in which to cloak their agenda, but the Discovery Institute is always going to be associated with Intelligent Design.

All they have succeeded in doing is flooding the discourse with fallacious turds like “irreducible complexity”, which still gets parroted by ignorant politicians, like Michele Bachmann.

Irreducible complexity is poorly formulated and not an obstacle to evolution; at this point, the explanations are so common that bringing up IC is simply an admission of ignorance, of someone with a Bachmann-like understanding of biology.

And for a scientific movement, look at the quality of the proponents who have flocked to it: basically no one. The primary spokesperson of the Discovery Institute is Casey Freakin’ Luskin, a freshly minted lawyer with an undergraduate degree in earth science, and who is demonstrably incompetent at basic biology — not that that prevents him from flooding the DI website with patent nonsense.

They’ve got propagandists like David Klinghoffer, who’s reduced to sticking his fingers in his ears and chanting la-la-la to the existence of criticisms.

It’s latest pseudo-scholarly efforts are bloated, preening, vacuous babble like Signature in the Cell, books that even fans of the idea find tedious and uninspiring.

Their websites are little walled garden, either no comments allowed or comments carefully screened, because they cannot tolerate open discusssion and criticism.

They’ve got nothing new. There is no new science emerging from the cesspit of ID.

I think we’re done.

I really just hope that Phillip Johnson is vaguely aware of, and vaguely perturbed by, the failure of his ideas. And I hope he lives many more years, to witness the continuing decay of his pathetic movement.

(Also on Sb)

220 comments

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  1. 1
    Ichthyic

    I want Johnson to suffer the pain and frustration of knowing that he has wasted his life, and that he’ll be remembered as a failure.


    KAAAAHHHNNNN!

  2. 2
    Glen Davidson

    This is what ID has come to. The head of the DI’s CSC, and author of a supposedly important book on ID, whining about standards in Bible scholarship. “Naturalism” is as evil there as it is in science, evidently because honesty can’t support Bibliolatry any more than it can ID.

    As for Johnson, I really would wish him a better fate. He could repudiate his lies, and at least partly go back to being a minor but respected law professor, rather than a shill for lies and stupidity.

    His book was a cobbled together hodge-podge of specious reasoning, using legal logic to raise unwarranted doubts over concepts he couldn’t understand.

    True, but when you read him you get the idea that he actually thinks that there are “two sides” to the issue, and that the one didn’t have its fair share of consideration. In fact there are far more than two sides to almost any science issue, and bullshit magic tales don’t belong on any of the sides.

    Were he not a victim of his “two sides” fallacy (and for nearly all IDiots, it’s really God vs. Satan, or at least God vs. Godhaters) he might not have acted quite the ass that he has. I do hope that he is pained absolutely as long as he stands for stupidity, opposition to honest standards, and lying for Jeebus. If he ever wants to be other than a cheap charlatan, he could heal some of the current national divisions and recuperate somewhat his rightly-trashed reputation.

    Glen Davidson

  3. 3
    raven

    Not quite dead.

    It’s morphed into “teach the controversy”. Not that there is any real controversy. And that hasn’t really caught on.

    Mostly it’s returned to its roots. YECism. A lot of the IDers were YEC’s to start with.

    ID was always too esoteric and abstract for most fundie xians. They don’t want to think about an abstract Intelligent Designer, whatever that is. They want to babble on about jesus and how the Darwinists are all atheists and are going to hell. About how god loves us so much that he once drowned all but 8 people while inventing genocide and took our dinosaurs away as well.

  4. 4
    Alex

    I want Johnson to suffer the pain and frustration of knowing that he has wasted his life, and that he’ll be remembered as a failure.

    Whoaa. I think you’re overstepping a boundary there. Give him some slack, this is the only life he has!

  5. 5
    Ichthyic

    Larry Moran made a worthwhile point on this issue over on Jerry’s blog.

    …almost ALL of the current crop of twits, er, I mean “republican candidates for president” claim support for teaching ID, specifically.

    dead is as dead does.

    it was dead as a concept as soon as it hit the floor, but dead things still rot and fester, and cause problems, if not completely disposed of.

    and the corpse of ID is still there, rotting in the sun.

  6. 6
    raven

    Johnson isn’t such a nice guy.

    He once tried to get a woman fired from Fuller Theological Seminary because she called ID trash. Nancy Murphy IIRC.

    He also tried to get a scientist excommunicated from his wingnut schismatic church, Orthodox Presbyterians, whoever they are.

    Some of the fundie cults are pretty vicious and will excommunicate anyone who accepts reality. That is an earth older than 6,000 years old, with Noah and his boatload full of dinosaurs, and god poofing everything into existence all at once, several thousand years after the Sumerians invented glue and beer.

    “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Reality Based Community.”

    PZ Myers might be feeling charitable but I’m not. Fuck you Philip Johnson, wild eyed and destructive religious kook.

  7. 7
    raven

    Phillip E. Johnson – Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaen.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phillip_E._JohnsonCached – Similar
    You +1′d this publicly. Undo

    In 2006 Nancey Murphy, a religious scholar at Fuller Theological Seminary‎, stated … said that Johnson called a trustee in an attempt to get her fired and stated

    … Phillip Johnson has developed what is called the ‘Intelligent Design’ movement. …

    You can tell who Phillip Johnson’s role models are.

    1. Stalin. Nothing like a good purge to fire up the troops.

    2. The Spanish Inquisition. It works even better if you publicly torture-execute a few heretics. Nothing like burning people alive on a stack of firewood to suppress those annoying new findings of science.

  8. 8
    raven

    it was dead as a concept as soon as it hit the floor, but dead things still rot and fester, and cause problems, if not completely disposed of.

    Worse than that. ID was a Zombie created from the corpse of creationism.

    Those Zombies can lurch around for a lot longer than anyone can imagine.

  9. 9
    Alex

    @raven

    Unless he has ordered random executions, the comparison with Stalin is unfair. Johnson hasn’t done anything the catholic church doesn’t do every week.

  10. 10
    raven

    wikipedia:

    As a member of the group for the Scientific Reappraisal of the HIV-AIDS Hypothesis, a prominent AIDS denialist group,[2] Johnson has written that HIV does not cause AIDS.[3][4][5][6] Most of the scientific community dismisses Johnson’s opinions on evolution and AIDS as pseudoscience.[5][7][8][9]

    Cthulhu, is Johnson a wacko or what? The guy is a HIV-AIDS denialist.

    There aren’t too many of those left now. Most of the ones who are HIV+, a lot of people, have died. Of AIDS.

  11. 11
    'Tis Himself

    ID is nothing but creationism with god replaced with Intelligent Designer. As Kitzmiller showed, ID is an attempt to get around the Constitutional restrictions on teaching one particular brand of religion in public schools. Even the Discovery Institute admits ID is just repackaged creationism.

  12. 12
    =8)-DX

    Pharyngula chat aside, I recently listened to “Unbelievable? 19 Nov 2011 – Signature in the cell – Stephen C Meyer vs Keith Fox”. AND!
    It felt like ID was not dead. ID is still out there, alongside the antivaxers and the homeopathy and all the other woo as an animated corpse. Seriously, this “debate” was essentially an open space for Mr. Meyer to regurgitate endless sentences about “digital data” and “information” and was I am sure devoutly listened to by thousands of Christians. Mr. Fox (as the xtian “evilutionist”) tried to point out the flaws in his opponent’s nonsense, but.. that B.S. was so horrible it really needed to be derided, laughed at and facepalmed, not taken seriously.

    Until religion has gone and superstition become marginal, I have asad feeling that things like ID will still be hangin’ around, albeit in zombie form.

  13. 13
    Alex

    ‘Tis Himself

    I heard some cdesignproponentsists still deny that…

  14. 14
    Ichthyic

    Those Zombies can lurch around for a lot longer than anyone can imagine.

    which reminds me; has anyone checked out the new “The Walking Dead” TV series this year (it’s in its second season now)?

    one of the better takes on zombie apocalypse I’ve seen.

    based closely on the graphic novel series of the same name, which is also worth a read (but do one or the other first; there is enough overlap to create spoilers).

  15. 15
    thomaslewis

    I wander over to Uncommon Descent every once in a while just to see what is going on and about half the posts consist of Denyse O’Leary sneering at any science that may even remotely cahllenge her superstitions.

    She doesn’t even try to produce any argument for her position, it is just sneering. It’s pathetic.

  16. 16
    Glen Davidson

    In fact there are far more than two sides to almost any science issue,

    Just to clarify, I was thinking of there being far more than two sides in the many issues of physics, evolution, or ecology, areas that continue to have “issues” and disagreements, if usually not about the larger theories (although physics generally considers the standard model to be rather incomplete). Obviously F = ma doesn’t really have even two sides of contention, let alone more.

    Glen Davidson

  17. 17
    peterwhite

    PZ is going to be disappointed. Johnson would never think he was a failure even if he lived another hundred years. People with his level of delusion will never let it slip.

  18. 18
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    It’s morphed into “teach the controversy”.

    Well yeah 5 years ago. Even that has failed.

  19. 19
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    I was told there would be a bottle of scotch.

  20. 20
    Grumpy Bob

    ID has been exported to the UK, where it’s far from dead in a culture where faith schools are encouraged.
    The radio interview reported in a comment above was with a UK-based christian station, and was part of a visit to the UK by Meyer. I was invited to his lecture but did not go.

  21. 21
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    yes I realize that was Dembski

  22. 22
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    Despite Nick Matzke’s recent accomdationist nonsense, he did have my favorite ID description

    “Intelligent Design is Creationism in a cheap tuxedo.”

  23. 23
    imthegenieicandoanything

    PZ: he gets his philosophy straight from Conan the Barbarian.

  24. 24
    dwasifar

    Am I the only one who sees this as needlessly mean-spirited? It’s not enough for the man to be proven wrong; he has to suffer and squirm for our entertainment, too?

    I’m as atheist as you are, PZ, but I don’t think I have it in me to wish any more humiliation on this guy. It’s sufficient that he failed. We don’t have to rub his nose in it.

  25. 25
    procrastinator will get an avatar real soon now

    Glen Davidson, you may be interested in these other sides to f=ma:

  26. 26
    procrastinator will get an avatar real soon now

    OK, that didn’t work. Check out Uncertain Principles over on Science Blogs. Good article on Newton and f=ma in modern form.

  27. 27
    Randomfactor

    “cdesign proponentsists” killed Intelligent Design Creationism.

    Death by search-and-replace.

  28. 28
    Ichthyic

    he has to suffer and squirm

    aside from me missing the suffering and squirming bit by simply having him recognize his failure of an idea was just that, Johnson really SHOULD experience directly some of the real damage he has caused over the years.

    he’s hardly a harmless old man.

  29. 29
    Ichthyic

    I was told there would be a bottle of scotch.

    ha!

    yeah, in addition to all else, these ID shills are welshers too.

  30. 30
    Art Vandelay

    That was awesome.

    That Bachmann video is amazing if only because all three of those cats sitting behind her got through the whole thing without a single facepalm. I think I had 14.

  31. 31
    Ichthyic

    I just heard Michele Bachman use the word “intellectually”.

    I can’t imagine how her head didn’t explode.

  32. 32
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    “No matter what happens to us, I want him to live a long life with his cowardice.”

  33. 33
    Ariaflame, BSc, BF, PhD

    @azkyroth Inconceivable!

  34. 34
    julian

    er- am I the only one made uncomfortable by the vindictiveness in this post? Yes the man is a class one douchebag. Yes he probably deserves a lot of scorn. Don’t see why we should revel in or hope for his misery.

    Probably just my own guilt at being the vindictive type talking though.

  35. 35
    Ichthyic

    er- am I the only one made uncomfortable by the vindictiveness in this post?

    those who feel this way might do some self examination for projection.

    or harden the fuck up.

  36. 36
    pokealot

    PZ said “I want Johnson to suffer the pain and frustration of knowing that he has wasted his life, and that he’ll be remembered as a failure.”

    There is not doubt in my mind that you were sodomized by a religious authority figure as a child.

  37. 37
    Glen Davidson

    Am I the only one who sees this as needlessly mean-spirited? It’s not enough for the man to be proven wrong; he has to suffer and squirm for our entertainment, too?

    No, he at least ought to be made to suffer and squirm for telling lies and selling a fraud to the public. If he did it for commercial gain alone, and not as religiously and 1st Amendment-protected speech in general, he might very well be criminally liable for such disgusting dishonesty (if he’s dumb enough to believe it, then he’s clearly being dishonest about being an expert on the matter–the idiot read Denton’s misleading book, hardly an excuse).

    Now I’m all for the 1st Amendment, but the fact that it protects charlatans like Johnson is no reason for us to avoid using our 1st Amendment rights to call him the dishonest peddler of nonsense to the gullible that he is–one who got some nice pin money out of it in the bargain.

    Were he not still working to keep people misinformed and ignorant I might say, fine, why beat a dead horse? Yet the claim that ID is dead, which I think is accurate for the meaning that was intended, does not mean that naive and gullible people aren’t still being misled by this despicable man.

    Glen Davidson

  38. 38
    scifi the first (formerly scifi1)

    Julian –

    I am going to attempt to be even more articulate than Michael here. (I WILL fail!)

    My middle son has teachers peddling Johnson/Behe/Dembski shit at his school. None of them are in any way qualified as evo-biologists. (It’s a long story)

    I’m now responsible for this part of his scientific education as he, without help from me, already questions the validity of the opinions carried by the teachers at this (baptist) school.

    That’s not MY FUCKING JOB! I am fighting with family at the moment regarding taking the teacher to task for this (it’s ‘allowed’ in our state in Oz, although it’s changing next year, to some extent.) It’s also the reason I was uncomfortable with this choice by the boys and backed up by family. (Again, a long story – think of the school as a ‘bright shiny object’)

    He is very maths and science minded, so right now this is being perverted by people who are tasked to do better. Ohh, they’re ‘nice’ people, these teachers – “They ‘love’ the kids so shut up and leave it alone, huh!”.

    My position is that I don’t care how ‘nice’ they are – it comes to nothing when they corrupt the science education of my (and other) children.

    On top of this, the IDiots who have rallied to his deception are desperately trying to force this pernicious brand of horseshit on the US, UK, Australian and other populations at large.

    Sooooo – fuck Johnson. Fuck him and the mythical donkey the mythical ‘parents’ of his mythical saviour rode in on!!

  39. 39
    Dabu

    I don’t want Philip Johnson to live with severe physical pain or debilitating mental illness. But I would like him to be, for the rest of his life, acutely aware that he lost.

  40. 40
    docslacker

    “I really just hope that Phillip Johnson is vaguely aware of, and vaguely perturbed by, the failure of his ideas. And I hope he lives many more years, to witness the continuing decay of his pathetic movement.”

    How very Westley/Dread Pirate Roberts of you. Very appropriate.

  41. 41
    grumpyoldfart

    My guess is that Phillip Johnson has surrounded himself with yes-men and probably hasn’t heard any criticism of his ideas for ages. He will die thinking that he is regarded as the greatest Christian scholar of modern times.

    Of course, deep in his heart he knows he is a cheat and a liar – but he’s cheating and lying for Jesus and “the ends justify the means”, so he will die with no regrets and a lot of pride.

    I’ll bet he’s also organised a lucrative skim from all the Christian institutions with which he is involved, so he’ll die rich as well.

  42. 42
    julian

    those who feel this way might do some self examination for projection. -Ichthyic

    I don’t think it’s projection. Prof Myers seems to want Phillip Johnson alive for the sole purpose of watching him live life as a failure and suffer because of it. I really don’t know how to describe that but as vindictive.

    @scifi

    I get the man is responsible for helping push some truly idiotic crap into classrooms and ruining the public (and sometimes private) education of a lot of people. I get why you’d dislike the man. And I’m pretty ok with that. He is, like I said, responsible for impacting your life in certain unjust and unfair ways.

    I’m just saying that wishing this man hang on just to suffer (even if it from the knowledge he failed and that the movement he wished to sweep academia is pretty much dead) isn’t something I’m entirely cool with.

    ————

    getting close to tone trolling so I’m just gonna end it with this lat comment.

  43. 43
    SallyStrange

    PZ said “I want Johnson to suffer the pain and frustration of knowing that he has wasted his life, and that he’ll be remembered as a failure.”

    There is not doubt in my mind that you were sodomized by a religious authority figure as a child.

    …Says the guy who chose the ‘nym “pokealot.”

  44. 44
    Ichthyic

    I really don’t know how to describe that but as vindictive.

    then you have both an abundance of unnecessary angst AND a limited knowledge of the REAL damage this man has already caused.

    frankly, I would wish far worse on him myself.

    months immersed in writhing pools of hagfish come to mind.

    to have to “live with” the fact that ID was a failed idea?

    holy crap man, that’s like poking his eyes out with flaming irons!

    oh, wait, no it isn’t.

  45. 45
    Francisco Bacopa

    Whatever you do, don’t confuse Phillip Johnson with One “L” Philip Johnson. I can’t get across town without seeing a few of his buildings.

    Long after “two L” is forgotten, “one L” will be remembered.

  46. 46
    SallyStrange

    months immersed in writhing pools of hagfish come to mind.

    How does a pool writhe? Does that make things difficult for the hagfish? I imagine it’d be quite disconcerting, being in a writhing pool.

  47. 47
    Ichthyic

    How does a pool writhe?

    if it has enough hagfish in it… it will.

    ok, it really just *looks* like it, but you should be able to get the picture.

    I’m not the only one to use the imagery, either…

    http://www.dailyscript.com/scripts/gods-and-monsters_shooting.html

  48. 48
    Gorogh, Lounging Peacromancer

    I’m with Julian (34, 42) here, I do not see how it is in any way constructive or even humane to wish someone to suffer for the sake of suffering. This is the essence of revenge, which seems deeply and archaically egotistical. It profits no one but yourself/alleviates just your own ill feelings towards someone, without being conducive to any improvement of the status quo, that is, that other person’s behavior. In my value system, this is not good – at the very least questionable.

  49. 49
    John Morales

    Gorogh, look at it another way: you don’t want people to be aware of the consequences of their choices, though that may be unpalatable, because you consider it inhumane?

    (Same thing)

  50. 50
    Gorogh, Lounging Peacromancer

    John Morales, I certainly want people to be aware of that, if this awareness has some feasible and positive impact on their behavior, i.e. is instrumental for the realization of my values*. The way PZ put it, it is irrelevant for him what becomes of Johnson’s awareness of his failure.

    That said, I realize that an attitude like PZ’s might still have some beneficial impact by showing Johnson’s failure to others, by demonstrating others how one does not tolerate such careless and potentially dangerous work as Johnson’s. Put this way, I might agree that there is some use for wishing ill upon someone; but not the way it is formulated in the entry post.

    *at least if I have the time to consider/to overcome the initial impulse of confronting someone, even if it is unlikely that person will ever change – conceiving and writing a blog post should be sufficient time to do so

  51. 51
    Adam Rowney

    Now if only Cave Johnson were still alive. We’d still be doing real Science!

  52. 52
    'Tis Himself

    dwasifar, Julian and Gorough,

    Your concern is noted.

  53. 53
    Gorogh, Lounging Peacromancer

    I am not concerned.

  54. 54
    Emrysmyrddin

    Gorough.

  55. 55
    Emrysmyrddin

    ^ An explanation of #52

  56. 56
    Gorogh, Lounging Peacromancer

    I am (and was) aware of the term’s meaning, Emrysmyrddin. Caveats aside, I do not see how an explicated conviction regarding a relevant topic can be construed as trolling, and how this is even an argument against that position.

  57. 57
    Aquaria

    Wow–rank dishonesty.

    You’re concerned about how this will make atheists “look.” Or you’re worried about the pweshus fee-fees of a lying piece of shit who willfully tried to destroy science education in America to promote his genocidal delusion.

    I’m with PZ. I want that fucker to wallow in his miserable failure, for a long fucking time. Actions have fucking consequences and that’s the least that can happen to that scumbag.

  58. 58
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Bachman is somewhat brilliant.
    She manages to claim that since there isn’t* a consensus among scientists, the very people who spend 8 hrs+ a day on these matters, it should be put before the students and they should decide.
    Where have the good old days gone, when kings had donkeys as advisors? At leats they weren’t supposed to be sensible.

    *A lie, of course

  59. 59
    Inaji

    Gorogh:

    I am not concerned.

    The point sailed right over that pointy head of yours. Ref: http://pharyngula.wikia.com/wiki/Memes#Your_Concern_Is_Noted

    You also may want to pay attention to the first rule of holes.

  60. 60
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    RBDC:

    Despite Nick Matzke’s recent accomdationist nonsense, he did have my favorite ID description

    “Intelligent Design is Creationism in a cheap tuxedo.”

    I don’t know if Matzke claimed that as his own. I do know that Dawkins has trotted it out many times and sometimes without attribution. I believe that the original quote is from Chris Krishtalka, the director of the Natural History Museum at the University of Kansas.

    Not to disillusion you about Matzke or anything.

  61. 61
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    I don’t know if Matzke claimed that as his own. I do know that Dawkins has trotted it out many times and sometimes without attribution. I believe that the original quote is from Chris Krishtalka, the director of the Natural History Museum at the University of Kansas.

    Not to disillusion you about Matzke or anything.

    I wasn’t aware of that.

  62. 62
    David Marjanović

    Johnson hasn’t done anything the catholic church doesn’t do every week.

    Now, now. The Catholic Church has practically stopped the practice of excommunication. If they excommunicated everyone who doesn’t know more than half of the dogmas, let alone actually believes that much, almost nobody would be left!

    PZ: he gets his philosophy straight from Conan the Barbarian.

    Well, yeah. At the end of the movie, Conan rides away while the temple is burning behind him.

    (Quite literally. The walls themselves burn. I suppose they’re made of styrofoam.)

  63. 63
    Gorogh, Lounging Peacromancer

    Wow–rank dishonesty.

    You’re concerned about how this will make atheists “look.” Or you’re worried about the pweshus fee-fees of a lying piece of shit who willfully tried to destroy science education in America to promote his genocidal delusion.

    I’m with PZ. I want that fucker to wallow in his miserable failure, for a long fucking time. Actions have fucking consequences and that’s the least that can happen to that scumbag.

    First of all, there is nothing dishonest in my statements – or I do not what you mean.

    Second, I am not concerned about how “this will make atheists look”, nor did I indicate that concern anywhere in my posts. (nota bene, I do occasionally think about the most effective approach to the issues “the atheist community” deals with, but in this case, this topic has been totally irrelevant to me)

    Third, I am not concerned about how Johnson feels. I do not know him, I do not care for his well-being, or -feeling. All I have been saying is, that, according to my values, it is of no use to punish someone (or wish someone ill, which is of different prerequesites of punishment) just for the sake of punishment. You do not do that to a dog, why should you do so to a human? To state an example? PZ did not indicate the wish to state an example, but vindictively expressed the wish for a person to live long enough to suffer.

    I do not think PZ is a bad person, to the contrary. But the suggestions made by this post are essentially evil.

  64. 64
    Marcus Ranum

    explicated conviction regarding a relevant topic

    Did you manage to write that without laughing at yourself? Because I couldn’t read it without laughing at you.

  65. 65
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    There is not doubt in my mind that you were sodomized by a religious authority figure as a child.

    Really? That’s all you’ve got?

  66. 66
    Gorogh, Lounging Peacromancer

    @Marcus Ranum, did I not explicate my position? Is the topic not relevant, at the very least insofar, as (even) you took the time to read the entry post and browse through the comments? Or are you generally easily amused?

  67. 67
    PZ Myers

    The suggestion made in this post is that Johnson be conscious and aware of the consequences of his actions, and that he recognize both the attempt at harm and the failure of his efforts. If that’s evil, then I’m EVIL, and proud of it.

    The silly attempt at psycoanalyzing me is pathetic and wrong. I’ve written about my childhood in the Lutheran church; it was pleasant, I had friends there, my pastor was a nice enough fellow, and one of my favorite, nicest people of all time, Mrs Whalen, was my Sunday school teacher and choir director. It was also not a fire&brimstone church–liberal and light on theology. I left because it was WRONG.

  68. 68
    noodlehead

    I always felt the appeal of ID and creationism came as a result of the ease of thought one can employ in understanding it. It takes absolutely no scholarly effort to answer a question with a simple “god did it.”

    The funny thing is, as these morons continue to try and cram that nonsense into the public curriculum, they have to take something designed for the incurious and intellectually lazy, and drape it in language and concepts that extend far, far beyond the abilities of its proponents’ understanding.

    It’s hilarious, actually. You have a concept that appeals to people who don’t want or even know how to think; however, in order to get legitimacy for that concept in the public sphere, you have to destroy that appeal by mimicking the reasons they shun Evolution in the first place.

    It would be like the Chicago Bears changing their uniforms to those of the Green Bay Packers in an attempt to gather more fans –or, vice-versa.

  69. 69
    Gorogh, Lounging Peacromancer

    PZ, I see a difference between someone recognizing the consequence of his actions, and the sardonic wish for longevity so a person may “suffer the pain and frustration of knowing that he has wasted his life”. Besides – and I say it again – I do not think you are “evil”, far from it. But this wish is.

    As to “your concern is noted”, fair enough, I might get thrashed around a little, but I can live with it. It’d be nice, though, if I knew exactly *why* what I said is supposedly stupid.

  70. 70
    Alex

    PZ says

    The suggestion made in this post is that Johnson be conscious and aware of the consequences of his actions, and that he recognize both the attempt at harm and the failure of his efforts. If that’s evil, then I’m EVIL, and proud of it.

    You wrote more than that; you wrote

    “I want Johnson to suffer the pain and frustration of knowing that he has wasted his life

    That is somewhat more evil than merely wanting him to recognize the failure of his efforts in the ID movement.

  71. 71
    humanape

    Genesis = magical creationism = magical creation science = magical intelligent design creationism. It’s about time for Christian theocrats who want to destroy science education to invent a new word to describe their favorite fantasy. — Human Ape

  72. 72
    Alex

    I’ve got one that has always worked in America; they should call it freedom science

  73. 73
    markr1957

    The work of the IDiots in general, and of Johnson in particular, has managed to drag US science education backwards for the last 20+ years – if that isn’t an evil worthy of scorn and derision I don’t know what is.

    I share the hope that this fuckwit lives long enough to fully understand the harm he did, and what an abject failure he and his IDiotic theory turned out to be. One day even the most hard-nosed of the remaining IDiots will give themselves the face-palm and finally get it too – it’s all crap based on religious dogma and without a shred of evidence behind it while all available evidence points in the exact opposite direction.

  74. 74
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    That is somewhat more evil than merely wanting him to recognize the failure of his efforts in the ID movement.

    Not really. I’m pretty sure PZ is referring to his professional life. He could very well be a success in his personal life. I’m not really much concerned with that and I’m willing to bet neither is PZ.

    Johnson’s main professional contribution, if you want to call it that, is the promotion of ID. That is a wasted life.

    Wanting him to feel the pain of knowing that he utterly failed at bringing scientific legitimacy to his baby is pretty much what PZ said and I don’t disagree. There should be consequences for people’s actions.

    Personally I’d rather Johnson realize what a failure it has been and then turncoat and work at reversing the harm he has caused.

    We all have dreams.

  75. 75
    Alex

    Rev.,

    I know and I agree with all your points about Johnson. If that’s what PZ has meant, it was badly written.

  76. 76
    Walton

    I want Johnson to suffer the pain and frustration of knowing that he has wasted his life, and that he’ll be remembered as a failure.

    Yeah… I’m with Gorogh on this one, actually. That’s needlessly vindictive.

    Is ID bollocks? Yes, obviously. There’s no serious doubt about that among intelligent, informed people today.

    Do I take any pleasure in seeing pain caused to its proponents? No. Pain is bad. No one “deserves” to suffer, ever, for anything. And I, for one, believe in compassion for everyone, whether or not they happen to agree with me.

  77. 77
    noodlehead

    I’m personally okay with the idea of Johnson passing his days crippled with the dull, heavy weight of regret on his shoulders. In fact, I wish for a much more horrible end to this odious bastard, but that’s just me. If our school systems across the country weren’t fighting being saddled with the product of this man’s arrogance and stupidity, who knows how far we may have reached?

    Introducing laziness into a classroom is a bad, bad idea. What Johnson’s done is give students a bogus answer and told them that they have learned all that they need to and if they learn any more, they’re evil heretics.

    So, I’m okay with Johnson suffering. I hope he suffers more. And, when he dies, I hope humanity sees him as a worthless waste of a man who, in his zeal to indoctrinate our children, crippled them to the point that they will never be able to compete in the world unless they scrape the feculent, god-clotted spackle from the inside walls of their skulls.

    The man fought a war against understanding. I hope he chokes on his regret.

  78. 78
    Alex

    noodlehead, your worlds make feel all warm and fuzzy.

  79. 79
    anubisprime

    #69 Gorogh

    “It’d be nice, though, if I knew exactly *why* what I said is supposedly stupid.”

    This does not help your cause sherlock!!

    “the suggestions made by this post are essentially evil”

    There is no evil in wishing that the arch IDiot in chief becomes aware and fully realises the consequences of his insanity.
    It is not evil to hope that he finally realises that his intellectual sharpness has ended up cutting himself to the extent his reputation will be as a complete and utter moronic dipshit in the history books and his erstwhile minions adjudged complete and utter incredulous fools.

    He postulated a nonsense based on a nonsense…it has caused great and lasting harm in many minds.
    Do you not think it right that he should be made very aware of his stupidity?…not for revenge or punishment but as a lesson in life to him and others contemplating rank foolishness that broadly makes it crystal clear that reality will out in the end no matter how much the lies and wishful thinking demand the opposite?

    Is it not an atheistic trait to promote own responsibility for own actions simply because there is no other authority that conceivably can?
    Is not the adage of looking yourself in a mirror and not flinching only restricted to atheists then?
    Are religious wing nuts exempt from such introspection because in their sorry excuse for a mind they place all blame and guilt on one side by repenting unto an invisible made up figment of their imagination?

    You might well applaud such an action that has greatly impeded education, and still does, and places rationality and the cornerstone of modern biology on the other-side of reality for over a decade and conclude no foul.

    If so then you are not just an amoral dickhead but also pragmatically dumb as a pile of rusty nails!

  80. 80
    Nick Gotts

    Personally I’d rather Johnson realize what a failure it has been and then turncoat and work at reversing the harm he has caused. – RevBigDumbChimp

    Agreed. This would undoubtedly involve him feeling pain at the harm he has caused – and let’s remember this IDiot is an HIV-AIDS denialist as well – but it’s the repentance and reparation I want, not the pain.

  81. 81
    Inaji

    Rev. BDC:

    Personally I’d rather Johnson realize what a failure it has been and then turncoat and work at reversing the harm he has caused.

    We all have dreams.

    I’ll share that dream.

  82. 82
    tsig

    In biology we should teach heterosexual, homosexual and metrosexual lifestyles.

    In physics we should teach the aether theory and relativity

    and in geology both the flat Earth and round Earth theories.

    Teach the controversies, what is science afraid of!!!!

  83. 83
    Alex

    tsig,

    lifestyles are not science, idiot.

  84. 84
    Gorogh, Lounging Peacromancer

    What RevBigDumbChimp/KG said.

    Also, please note I have nowhere tried to trivialize what Johnson did, it was intellectually dishonest and morally despicable. Nowhere did I state that to make someone aware of one’s failures, shortcomings etc. was per se a bad thing. The only two sentences I object to are the oft-quoted

    I want Johnson to suffer the pain and frustration of knowing that he has wasted his life, and that he’ll be remembered as a failure.

    and

    I really just hope that Phillip Johnson is vaguely aware of, and vaguely perturbed by, the failure of his ideas. And I hope he lives many more years, to witness the continuing decay of his pathetic movement.

    These are destructive, and however understandable from an emotional perspective, nothing I can ascribe to rationally or, well, philosophically.

    PZ might have meant it less emphatically and strictly in regard to his professional career – but he failed to insert this disclaimer.

  85. 85
    PZ Myers

    What a lot of spineless wimps, straining to find something objectionable here.

    If I’d said I hope his wife leaves him and his children despise him, then you could make a case that I was being personally cruel. This entire post was about Intelligent Design creationism, though — why are you reaching for these other irrelevant topics?

    If it makes you all happier, though, I not only wish that he have a long and healthy life, but that it be spent in the bosom of a loving family and friends who care for him personally, as long as he’s conscious of the great harm he has done to society, and that his dishonest pseudoscientific ideas have all collapsed into rot and corruption.

    And I also wish more atheists would simper less.

  86. 86
    Ing

    What does it say about me that I almost want the guy to die not figuring it out because I’d feel really bad for someone at that age realizing they wasted their life?

  87. 87
    Alex

    What a lot of spineless wimps, straining to find something objectionable here.

    It kind of jumped in my face.

    This entire post was about Intelligent Design creationism, though — why are you reaching for these other irrelevant topics?

    because it wasn’t clear. But enough of that, it seems to have been a misunderstanding.

  88. 88
    Alex

    Ing,

    What does it say about me that I almost want the guy to die not figuring it out because I’d feel really bad for someone at that age realizing they wasted their life?

    You qualify as a simpering spineless wimp.

  89. 89
    Ing

    You qualify as a simpering spineless wimp.

    Might be the first time someone has called me simpering, heh

  90. 90
    Inaji

    Ing:

    What does it say about me that I almost want the guy to die not figuring it out because I’d feel really bad for someone at that age realizing they wasted their life?

    That you’re compassionate.

    I do want him to realize that he was wrong, wrong, wrong and yes, I want him to feel very bad about that, I think he should feel regret. I doubt he will though. Keep in mind this is person who would have joyously seen science education destroyed, causing suffering on a very large scale. This is a person who would have pushed his goddist agenda no matter what, without a single thought about the people he would inflict it upon.

    This is a person who operated on deceit, attempting to find a way to slip creationism past everyone. Also, as KG noted, this is a person who is a HIV-AIDS denier. He has caused a lot of harm in his life.

  91. 91
    Thomathy, Such A 'Mo

    Ing: I SPEAK FOR THE HIVEMIND GROUPTHINK, I think that would be an appropriate response. I wouldn’t want to suffer the knowledge of knowing that my whole professional life had been an exercise in wasting time. That my greatest ideas were intellectually void failures.

    It’s unfortunate that he should live to see this, if he sees it at all. I have some compassion. But, like PZ, I want this man to see what he’s wrought and to wallow in regret at the consequences and at his otherwise utter failure. There is no justice for him without of his own mind. Regret, of a kind at least, would suggest he’s sorry. I don’t have much hope for it though.

  92. 92
    Thomathy, Such A 'Mo

    Tyrant of Skepsis, do you ever miss the point or have you never known it?

  93. 93
    Alex

    Thomathy, explain.

  94. 94
    chigau (違う)

    Would the negative reactions to PZ’s venom be less if Phillip Johnson was young and healthy as opposed to old and ill?

  95. 95
    peterh

    Experiencing a moment of enlightenment and realizing one must abandon an idea in favor of a better one is one aspect of personal growth. Should such a moment cause Johnson “suffering,” that’s his own lookout and no call on anybody else.

  96. 96
    Inaji

    Chigau:

    Would the negative reactions to PZ’s venom be less if Phillip Johnson was young and healthy as opposed to old and ill?

    I expect so. There’s a fair bit of sentimentality on parade.

  97. 97
    Gorogh, Lounging Peacromancer

    Sorry for having digressed, PZ. It was in the title, you know, and other prominent places – but I guess it’s okay with me now. One other thing, though, @chigau,

    Would the negative reactions to PZ’s venom be less if Phillip Johnson was young and healthy as opposed to old and ill?

    No; they’d be even more negative from my point of view, precisely because there was no reference to future developments/insight/repentance or else – the same reason why I’d say peterh is wrong. Of course suffering is a subjective experience, and probably a catalyst for growth, but PZ explicitly wished him to experience just that, suffering.

    Again, I realize he might not have meant it this way, but only after his clarification. If nobody ever really vengefully and vindictively meant him to suffer pointlessly, fine. I feel there is but nuanced disagreement with most people here.

  98. 98
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Am I the only one who sees this as needlessly mean-spirited? It’s not enough for the man to be proven wrong; he has to suffer and squirm for our entertainment, too?

    Why the fuck does every worthless concern troll insist on dishonestly framing our sense that the misfortunes of certain people who have done great harm are well-deserved as a simple matter of “entertainment?” Rather than, you know, a matter of justice?

  99. 99
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    (I mean, I know why: one of the more poisonous legacies of religious thinking, in the long run, is the way religions – especially Christianity – have twisted the concept of forgiveness. Forgiveness is a useful social practice that allows group cohesion to be maintained and provides leverage for changing the behavior of those who do harm – provided that it’s actually predicated on a change of behavior. Instead, Christianity has promoted the idea that forgiveness is an inherent good, that it should be simply given out rather than earned, and that, in essence, it’s virtuous in itself for people who’ve done wrong to “get away with it.” And thus you have even relatively secular people planting their heads firmly in their asses and fingerwagging anyone with any sense of justice at all.)

  100. 100
    Walton

    Agreed. This would undoubtedly involve him feeling pain at the harm he has caused – and let’s remember this IDiot is an HIV-AIDS denialist as well – but it’s the repentance and reparation I want, not the pain.

    Yep, so framed, I wouldn’t strongly disagree; if he publicly recanted his ideas, it would probably do the world some good. I don’t want him to suffer, but I do want him to admit he was wrong, so that fewer people in future fall into the same error.

    But I don’t agree with the explicit retributive sentiment behind PZ’s original statement. If that makes me a “spineless wimp”, so be it. I don’t really care what PZ thinks of me.

    Why the fuck does every worthless concern troll insist on dishonestly framing our sense that the misfortunes of certain people who have done great harm are well-deserved as a simple matter of “entertainment?” Rather than, you know, a matter of justice?

    See, this kind of unexamined sentiment is why it’s important to hammer home over and over and over again that there is no free will, and no such thing as “just deserts”.

    No one “deserves” misfortune – or good fortune either, come to that. And “justice” has no relevance. There is no free will; we are animals who act in accordance with our genes and our environmental conditioning. Philip Johnson had no choice but to be Philip Johnson, and to do the things that Philip Johnson did; none of us have any choice but to be ourselves, any more than a computer can “choose” not to do what it is programmed to do. The fact that you and I are not creationists is not because we’re “better people” than Philip Johnson; it’s because our brain chemistry and our experiences didn’t predispose us to be creationists. We were just lucky. To purport to take a moral high ground, about this or anything else, is simple conceit.

    And even if this were not true, even if people had free will, the idea of “just deserts” would still be incoherent. It comes from pre-rational thinking: the idea that past wrongdoing angers the gods who must be appeased by blood sacrifices, or that wrongdoing can be “atoned” or “expiated” by punishing the wrongdoer. In reality, it’s all pointless bullshit. We can’t do anything to change the past, and taking revenge on people who have caused harm won’t undo the harm.

    I make no apology for talking all the time about the non-existence of free will and the incoherence of moral desert. Because it’s not just an abstract philosophical conundrum; it directly affects how we can and can’t conceptualize everyday reality, and how we should treat our fellow humans.

  101. 101
    Gorogh, Lounging Peacromancer

    Rather than, you know, a matter of justice?

    This is twisted. Why not even cause them suffering intentionally, say, by torturing them long enough so their sins are atoned for? Where do you draw that line? I know it sounds like a slippery slope-argument, but it really isn’t, since this is all a matter of aversive neuronal activity. (I don’t know if I want to go further into that direction, though, it probably leads to nothing)

    Besides, this is not about justice, this is about satisfying your sense of justice. This equals entertainment.

  102. 102
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    This is twisted. Why not even cause them suffering intentionally, say, by torturing them long enough so their sins are atoned for?

    Proportionality.

    Besides, this is not about justice, this is about satisfying your sense of justice. This equals entertainment.

    What.

  103. 103
    Gorogh, Lounging Peacromancer

    Thanks (merited or not), Walton, for your existence.

  104. 104
    David Marjanović

    I’ve got one that has always worked in America; they should call it freedom science

    Thread won.

  105. 105
    Walton

    Azkyroth, it’s you who is thinking like a religionist here: pretending that your own retributive pre-rational idea of “justice” represents some kind of objective reality, and pretending implicitly that people “choose” to do harm and that they “deserve” to be punished for it. For the reasons I have given above, that is not and cannot be true.

    In reality, this kind of vaunted “sense of justice” represents an emotionally-driven, pre-rational desire to punish those one perceives as “bad people” in order to achieve a kind of emotional satisfaction. In that respect, Gorogh is right that it’s a form of entertainment. And while in this particular case it may be relatively inconsequential, it’s exactly the same kind of bloodlust that drives people to support mass imprisonment, the death penalty and the other atrocities committed by the state in the name of “punishment”.

  106. 106
    Gorogh, Lounging Peacromancer

    Azkyroth, if suffering was a legitimate way of righting wrongs, then – even with a proportional relation of crime and punishment -, resorting to torture (if only psychological; all the same) is a logical consequence given a great enough crime.

    “Justice”, of course, means your concept of justice. Just as my concept of justice makes me speak out against revenge, yours makes you speak out in favor of it. It is inside you, not floating around somewhere. So, when you talk about justice, you talk about how you define justice.

  107. 107
    Nick Gotts

    pretending implicitly that people “choose” to do harm – Walton

    Crap, Walton, total crap. People often do choose to do harm. This is true regardless of whether that choice was predetermined from the beginning of time.

  108. 108
    Nick Gotts

    We can’t do anything to change the past, and taking revenge on people who have caused harm won’t undo the harm. – Walton

    This is just factually wrong: in some cases it will do so, because it will make the wronged person feel better. You can still argue that it shouldn’t be done, but stop making unsupportable claims.

  109. 109
    Gorogh, Lounging Peacromancer

    in some cases it will do so, because it will make the wronged person feel better

    Exactly, it makes someone feel better; whether or not harm is undone by that, I am not sure, though. Much less regarding the question, if a society is better off with or without the vengeful impulses of human nature.

    Furthermore, your definition of “choice” is a peculiar one. Choice implies alternatives; determinism does not allow alternatives. There is no choice.

  110. 110
    Walton

    Crap, Walton, total crap. People often do choose to do harm. This is true regardless of whether that choice was predetermined from the beginning of time.

    This is just sophistry. My argument is that we “choose” only in the same way that a computer “chooses”; our choices are determined by our genes and our environment, just as a computer’s choices are determined by its programming and its inputs. You can argue that it’s legitimate to use the word “choice” to describe this kind of deterministic process, but this limited conception of “choice” does not support the conclusion that people can be held morally responsible for their “choices”, any more than a computer can be held morally responsible for the “choices” it makes in accordance with its programming.

    This is just factually wrong: in some cases it will do so, because it will make the wronged person feel better. You can still argue that it shouldn’t be done, but stop making unsupportable claims.

    You’re misreading my words. I am being literal, not metaphorical. Making the wronged person feel better, or helping him or her to recover, is not the same as literally undoing the harm. It’s trivially true that the latter is impossible, since what we do in the present cannot change the past; this shouldn’t even need pointing out.

  111. 111
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    walton:

    Making the wronged person feel better, or helping him or her to recover, is not the same as literally undoing the harm. It’s trivially true that the latter is impossible, since what we do in the present cannot change the past; this shouldn’t even need pointing out.

    Cannot one repair the harm? While this doesn’t fix the past, it certainly fixes the present.

  112. 112
    Inaji

    KG:

    Crap, Walton, total crap.

    Seconded. Walton, you take natural compassion and turn it into hand wringing hanging off the edge of reality.

  113. 113
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    It’s trivially true that the latter is impossible, since what we do in the present cannot change the past; this shouldn’t even need pointing out.

    It’s wrong. It would be correct if harm were strictly delimited to an act itself, but this is very often not the case. There is often lasting emotional harm in the present. This shouldn’t even need pointing out.

  114. 114
    Walton

    Cannot one repair the harm? While this doesn’t fix the past, it certainly fixes the present.

    Yes. But inflicting vindictive retribution on the “wrongdoer” doesn’t normally achieve that. Our society is obsessed with apportioning “blame” and “punishment” rather than with actually fixing things, and it is my contention that this tendency derives directly from the mistaken belief that humans have free will. That’s why I will not shut up about it, because it’s possibly the single most important of all philosophical issues.

  115. 115
    Walton

    Seconded. Walton, you take natural compassion and turn it into hand wringing hanging off the edge of reality.

    Whether I do so or not is irrelevant to this question. The issue of free will has nothing to do either way with compassion: someone could agree with me that there is no free will and that no one “deserves” anything, and yet still want to make people suffer out of sheer sadism. That would be a nasty position, but an honest and coherent one.

  116. 116
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    I’d also argue that there are other reasons to treat our choices as actual choices. Our responses to actions and decisions are part of the environment. They affect future choices. The way we react should be geared towards positively affecting the environment of those that are harmed, and those that cause the harm.

    In this sense, it is pragmatic to treat choices as actual choices.

    Also, it’s not clear that choices are “deterministic” in any meaningful sense. Even if we could rewind the universe and have it play out exactly the same (unlikely, if our understanding of QM is in the ballpark), the environment is a chaotic system. Calling it “deterministic” implies it’s possible to calculate the unfolding of events and choices, like Asimov’s Psychohistory — only in the specific, not the aggregate. I’m not sure that’s even possible, let alone practical.

    But then again, I’m fairly convinced the term “free will” is meaningless. Not wrong, just without any real referent.

  117. 117
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    But inflicting vindictive retribution on the “wrongdoer” doesn’t normally achieve that.

    KG pointed out that in some cases [ taking action toward a wrongdoer “will do so, because it will make the wronged person feel better.” You seem now to be acknowledging that – that in some cases harm to victims is lessened or “undone.” This is an empirical claim that is obviously true. You can argue that it isn’t important to you or that it shouldn’t be that way, but the fact that this is sometimes the case is indisputable, and your earlier claim was wrong.

  118. 118
    Walton

    KG pointed out that in some cases [ taking action toward a wrongdoer “will do so, because it will make the wronged person feel better.” You seem now to be acknowledging that – that in some cases harm to victims is lessened or “undone.”

    This is just a semantic difference, and a distraction from the real issues. The continuing harm in the present can be lessened, but the harmful acts in the past, and the harm experienced in the past, cannot be undone. KG wasn’t wrong; he was just reading “undone” in a less literal sense than that in which I meant it. Now that I’ve clarified what I mean, hopefully we can move on.

    You can argue that it isn’t important to you or that it shouldn’t be that way

    What I wish is that people would be honest about it. Rather than saying “X deserves to suffer” or “X chose to do wrong” or “X is a bad person”, all of which are intellectually incoherent statements, I wish people would just admit “I want to hurt X because it will make me feel better by satisfying my emotionally-driven desire for revenge”. If people said the latter, instead of the former, I would not be able to argue against it on any philosophical ground.

  119. 119
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    Rather than saying “X deserves to suffer” or “X chose to do wrong” or “X is a bad person”, all of which are intellectually incoherent statements,

    Do actions have consequences?

    Should they?

  120. 120
    Nick Gotts

    Furthermore, your definition of “choice” is a peculiar one. Choice implies alternatives; determinism does not allow alternatives. There is no choice. – Gorogh

    Utter garbage. I’ll bet you use the word “choice” in exactly the way I do when you’re not being “philosophical”. When you decide whether to have the steak, the fish, or the goat’s cheese tartlet, you’re making a choice.

    Crap, Walton, total crap. People often do choose to do harm. This is true regardless of whether that choice was predetermined from the beginning of time.

    This is just sophistry. My argument is that we “choose” only in the same way that a computer “chooses”; our choices are determined by our genes and our environment, just as a computer’s choices are determined by its programming and its inputs. You can argue that it’s legitimate to use the word “choice” to describe this kind of deterministic process, but this limited conception of “choice” does not support the conclusion that people can be held morally responsible for their “choices”, any more than a computer can be held morally responsible for the “choices” it makes in accordance with its programming.

    No, it is not sophistry at all. Calling it a “choice” identifies the type of process that has gone on: a consideration of alternatives, followed by a decision to adopt one of them, based on internally generated and maintained motivations. If and when computers become capable of changing the top-level goals that are not programmed into them, and making decisions on the basis of these goals, I’ll be happy to call these choices in the same sense as human (or other animal) choices. If and when they additionally become capable of understanding the consequences of their for other agents, I’ll be happy to consider them morally responsible agents.

    Making the wronged person feel better, or helping him or her to recover, is not the same as literally undoing the harm. It’s trivially true that the latter is impossible, since what we do in the present cannot change the past; this shouldn’t even need pointing out.

    Then why did you do so, and expect me to interpret it as pointing out something that is, as you say, trivially true?

  121. 121
    Nick Gotts

    Sorry, slight garbling@120:

    “If and when computers become capable of changing the adopting and pursuing top-level goals that are not programmed into them”

  122. 122
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    walton:

    “X is a bad person”

    I disagree with this one. Labeling someone a “bad person” may be subjective, but there are also objective criteria you can use. A person can be “bad” because they consistently act against the good of society, whether or not they made the choice to do so.

    Further, if we construct the environment such that the breaking of certain rules is met with a specific punishment, you can say someone “deserves” a punishment. They broke the social contract, a contract that informs their environment. In most cases, they do so with full awareness of the potential consequences. And so I would posit that “choice” is an appropriate word. Given knowledge of the possible outcomes of their actions, they either perform the action, or they do not. There is a choice, whether the person is “predetermined” to make it one way or the other.

    All of this is independent of whether or not free will exists. These are not incoherent in the least. In fact, it is part-and-parcel with the idea that actions are influenced by environment. It is a structuring of the environment to encourage specific outcomes.

    Whether or not it’s the best system might be debated. However, it is a workable system.

  123. 123
    What a Maroon, oblivious

    Whether I do so or not is irrelevant to this question. The issue of free will has nothing to do either way with compassion: someone could agree with me that there is no free will and that no one “deserves” anything, and yet still want to make people suffer out of sheer sadism. That would be a nasty position, but an honest and coherent one.

    Follow your own logic. If you’re right, then people who seek revenge have no choice in the matter, those who assert t he concept of free will have no choice, in fact none of us have any choice in any of our actions; we are automatons fulfilling the roles that were assigned to us at least as far back as the Big Bang. Arguing about this then is futile, but of course circumstances (destiny?) dictate that you have no choice but to argue about it.

    I can’t decide if you’re right or not, but if you are, you have to recognize that none of us has a choice about anything, including our views on choice and on punishment.

  124. 124
    Walton

    Do actions have consequences?

    Yes. That’s a factual statement, not a moral one.

    Should they?

    This is a meaningless and unanswerable question.

  125. 125
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    This is just a semantic difference, and a distraction from the real issues. The continuing harm in the present can be lessened, but the harmful acts in the past, and the harm experienced in the past, cannot be undone. KG wasn’t wrong; he was just reading “undone” in a less literal sense than that in which I meant it. Now that I’ve clarified what I mean, hopefully we can move on.

    No. If it were a semantic difference, you wouldn’t have responded that it “doesn’t normally achieve that.” “Normally” is plainly an empirical statement (it’s not relevant whether it’s true “normally,” in the majority of cases – the fact that it is true in some cases is what’s at issue). Of course KG wasn’t wrong, but you were and are wrong to present harm as being limited to the past. It’s not a question of being literal or not. The fact that harm is often not, in real life, delimited in this way made your original claim wrong. If harm can indeed persist into the present, it can be undone sometimes and to some extent by taking action against the person who’s hurt others, as you’ve acknowledged. (And please don’t suggest that you meant “undone” as an all-or-nothing proposition, because that would be silly.)

  126. 126
    Walton

    I can’t decide if you’re right or not, but if you are, you have to recognize that none of us has a choice about anything, including our views on choice and on punishment.

    True, but that doesn’t mean that a human’s responses can’t be conditioned by experience, in the same way that one can condition a lab rat to run one way through a maze rather than another by means of rewards and punishments. Animals’ behaviour is produced not just by biological hardwiring, but also by environmental conditioning. In the case of humans, we’re social animals wired to seek approval from our peers; hence, arguing about things and expressing strong opinions can be a means of conditioning others’ behaviour.

  127. 127
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    And then you followed with

    Our society is obsessed with apportioning “blame” and “punishment” rather than with actually fixing things.

    This was in response to “Cannot one repair the harm? While this doesn’t fix the past, it certainly fixes the present.” To which you immediately answered “Yes.” It’s not a matter of semantics, and you can’t have it both ways: either you can repair/undo the harm in some sense in the present or you can’t. Again, you can say that you don’t like a particular sense of repair, but that’s different.

  128. 128
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    This is a meaningless and unanswerable question.

    Nonsense.

    Do you think that there should be a consequence that negatively impacts a person who has acted in a way that has caused harm to another person?

    From what I gather you do not think so. Welcome to societal chaos.

    In practice we do make choices. If we don’t work with how choices affect the world around us then there is absolutely nothing to keep anyone responsible for anything they do.

    The commonly tossed around “no free will” is meaningless in the society we operate in. Actions do and should have consequences.

    True, but that doesn’t mean that a human’s responses can’t be conditioned by experience, in the same way that one can condition a lab rat to run one way through a maze rather than another by means of rewards and punishments. Animals’ behaviour is produced not just by biological hardwiring, but also by environmental conditioning. In the case of humans, we’re social animals wired to seek approval from our peers; hence, arguing about things and expressing strong opinions can be a means of conditioning others’ behaviour.

    And so can punishment or observation of punishment.

  129. 129
    Ariaflame, BSc, BF, PhD

    If there is no such thing as choice, and we can’t actually make any decisions due to the lack of free will, then why does the ‘appearance’ of making decisions take much more energy than when we appear not to be making them?

    To extend it further, if every nanosecond of our existence is determined, though not predictable, then what we think of our personalities are effectively AIs, programs running in the wetware of our brains. We don’t really exist. But what is then considering if we do or don’t exist?

    Personally I’m going to accept the illusion, if that is what it is, that I exist, and have choice, and choose to do many things, including posting this comment. I also choose not to grant every stupid acting person a ‘get out of jail free’ card because ‘they couldn’t have been any other way’.

    Of course people may argue with me, but by their arguments I couldn’t have done anything else, so is there any point?

  130. 130
    Walton

    Labeling someone a “bad person” may be subjective, but there are also objective criteria you can use. A person can be “bad” because they consistently act against the good of society, whether or not they made the choice to do so.

    Yes, but the phrase “bad person”, in practice, carries moral overtones; it implies not just dangerousness or harm, but moral agency and a choice to do wrong. We wouldn’t call a rock rolling downhill and crushing someone a “bad rock”, or a hurricane that destroys homes and kills people a “bad hurricane”.

  131. 131
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    It comes from pre-rational thinking: the idea that past wrongdoing angers the gods who must be appeased by blood sacrifices, or that wrongdoing can be “atoned” or “expiated” by punishing the wrongdoer.

    You appear to have done little or no reading in the anthropology of law or justice.

  132. 132
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    Yes, but the phrase “bad person”, in practice, carries moral overtones; it implies not just dangerousness or harm, but moral agency and a choice to do wrong. We wouldn’t call a rock rolling downhill and crushing someone a “bad rock”, or a hurricane that destroys homes and kills people a “bad hurricane”.

    Sigh. Rocks aren’t sentient beings.

    You’ve taken this free-will is non existent thing and turned it into a crusade to prove that no one at anytime in history has done wrong because they are incapable of having intent.

    It’s insanity, but oh well, there’s nothing you could do about it.

    You have no choice.

  133. 133
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    walton:

    Yes, but the phrase “bad person”, in practice, carries moral overtones; it implies not just dangerousness or harm, but moral agency and a choice to do wrong. We wouldn’t call a rock rolling downhill and crushing someone a “bad rock”, or a hurricane that destroys homes and kills people a “bad hurricane”.

    We call a rotten apple a “bad apple.” We call a car with many defects a “bad car.” We call a day that has not been kind to us a “bad day.” And we do indeed call some hurricanes “bad,” as in, “That was a bad storm.”

    And so on.

    Yes, I realize the context is different. So I’ll admit that’s just quibbling. Sometimes I do that. And I don’t repent.

    So. How would you have us respond to someone who, with full knowledge of their actions, performs something destructive to society? Say, they murder (or should I say, “terminate the life,” since that has less moral overtones) of another person?

  134. 134
    Gorogh, Lounging Peacromancer

    @KG, yes I probably use the word “choice” in the same way as you do. I do many things habitually and inattentively. Still, if I come to think about them, I am able to grasp that much of what I do and feel is about conditioning, semantic shortcuts, somatic markers, and the general functioning of a biological organism (consciousness being irrelevant). It does not invalidate my, well, choice of words to note that there is a sensu stricto and a sensu lato of some of them.

    @Ariaflame, neither Walton nor any other proponent of free will can overcome the illusion of having it. This does not make it any more convincing to me, though – especially granted what I know about psychology in general and myself in particular. It is simply illogical to me to postulate a “freedom” of choice (what does it even mean? randomness? how irritating), when really, every choice is based on what you learned and what you are composed of. To postulate free will is to me as if to postulate a second floor without the first.

    The question of free will is not exhausted in itself, and that’s why Walton is bringing it up again and again – it has certain pragmatic consequences which make it relevant in the first place, such as “how do we deal with deviant opinions”.

  135. 135
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    True, but that doesn’t mean that a human’s responses can’t be conditioned by experience, in the same way that one can condition a lab rat to run one way through a maze rather than another by means of rewards and punishments. Animals’ behaviour is produced not just by biological hardwiring, but also by environmental conditioning. In the case of humans, we’re social animals wired to seek approval from our peers; hence, arguing about things and expressing strong opinions can be a means of conditioning others’ behaviour.

    How do you condition other’s behaviors if they have no choice?

  136. 136
    Walton

    And so can punishment or observation of punishment.

    Yes. Punishment can change people’s behaviour, just as giving a rat an electric shock can make it run a different way through a maze. It’s a crude form of conditioning, but, empirically, it can work.

    But my general argument is that our society uses far more punishment than is necessary or effective, to the exclusion of more compassionate and humane means to change people’s behaviour. And people usually justify doing so on the retributivist grounds that some people “deserve” punishment, and don’t even ask for evidence as to whether such punishment is actually effective in changing people’s behaviour. Hence, we end up wasting resources and causing harm in order to punish people, when, resource-for-resource, we could achieve more with a little kindness.

    To take a well-worn example, and one on which most people here would probably agree: our society is obsessed with “punishing” drug addicts, rather than providing them with medical care. If the state decriminalized drugs, and at the same time provided comprehensive substance-addiction treatment for free to anyone who wanted it, I’m willing to bet that both the rate of drug use and the amount of social harm caused by drug use would decline. It wouldn’t decline to zero – some people will always have problems, and some people will always refuse treatment – but it would be more effective, on balance, than what we are doing at the moment, and this is borne out by evidence in countries that have tried it. So why aren’t we doing that? Because most people believe in free will and moral desert, and they believe that people with drug problems are “undeserving” and ought to be “punished”. I imagine most people here, being liberals, will largely agree with my analysis on that issue (so, to be clear, I’m not accusing anyone here of supporting drug prohibitionism).

    What has this got to do with Philip Johnson? At first blush, nothing much. But the rhetoric matters. If we go around saying that some people are more deserving than others and that some people deserve misfortune, most people will believe it, because that belief fits with their own preconceptions about how reality works. And some people, having accepted this belief, will go on to accept things like mass imprisonment and the death penalty, because it seems logical to some people that if some are deserving and others undeserving, we can and should be deliberately cruel to the latter.

  137. 137
    Gorogh, Lounging Peacromancer

    So. How would you have us respond to someone who, with full knowledge of their actions, performs something destructive to society? Say, they murder (or should I say, “terminate the life,” since that has less moral overtones) of another person?

    (Even if directed to Walton:) Identify the reasons the person did what she or he did; get rid of those reasons as best as you can; punish the person in a way most conducive to a positive development of that person as per a psychological expert’s opinion, and of society as a whole (a murderer with a likely relapse – is that the word? – must be kept from murdering again).

    There is no easy answer, I’m afraid. But I feel that the answer cannot be to punish someone for punishment’s sake, or to leave the question of punishment to those offended – objectively, it is as good an option as any, but my personal outlook on life prohibits me to endorse it. If an experiment with different legal systems, ceteris paribus, was possible, I predict the non-retributive system yields better results.

  138. 138
    'Tis Himself

    In an effort to circumvent a legal restriction, Johnson, who is a lawyer, invented a legal fiction. By replacing God with Intelligent Designer and Genesis with Intelligent Design, he has made it possible to teach a particular religious mythology in public schools. As a result, children have not been completely and properly educated. In my opinion this is a societal evil.

    Johnson has promoted evil. PZ and a whole bunch of other people recognize Johnson as a promoter of evil. However his evil appears to be failing. I sincerely hope Johnson recognizes this failure. It’s too much to expect he’ll recognize his promotion of evil as being such, but I’ll settle for recognition of failure.

    And no, I do not find Johnson’s failure to be entertaining.

  139. 139
    What a Maroon, oblivious

    Walton, Gorogh,

    If we have no more control over our actions than a rock, and therefore no moral agency (if you’re right, the very concept of morality is incoherent), why should it matter how we treat people who transgress our established norms?

  140. 140
    Gorogh, Lounging Peacromancer

    @What a Maroon, because my brain responds to aversive or gratifying stimulation; because it matters to me.

  141. 141
    Gorogh, Lounging Peacromancer

    p.s. @What a Maroon, a bit more poetically, “Here I stand. I can do no other.”

  142. 142
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    But my general argument is that our society uses far more punishment than is necessary or effective, to the exclusion of more compassionate and humane means to change people’s behaviour.

    This is different from the argument you’ve appeared to be making, you know.

    To take a well-worn example, and one on which most people here would probably agree: our society is obsessed with “punishing” drug addicts, rather than providing them with medical care.

    Yes, most here would agree. (Well, I’m not so sure about the “medical care” part, unless that’s very broadly understood.) About drug addicts.

    What has this got to do with Philip Johnson? At first blush, nothing much. But the rhetoric matters.

    So is your argument that no one should talk about negative consequences for, say, committing mass murder (or, really, any behavior at all) because that necessarily leads to generalizing the idea to drug users or others for whom it isn’t appropriate? Or that people shouldn’t talk about it because, say, Stalin didn’t have free will? You appeared to be arguing the latter, but now you seem to be arguing the former.

  143. 143
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    As a result, children have not been completely and properly educated. In my opinion this is a societal evil.

    And it goes well beyond that. Leaving aside the probable effects of his HIV-AIDS denial, his ID activism has undoubtedly led to harmful consequences – stress, harassment, threats, dismissal – for numerous science teachers.

  144. 144
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    But my general argument is that our society uses far more punishment than is necessary or effective, to the exclusion of more compassionate and humane means to change people’s behaviour.

    ^This is an effective utilitarian argument, and I doubt you’d get much disagreement here.

    And people usually justify doing so on the retributivist grounds that some people “deserve” punishment, and don’t even ask for evidence as to whether such punishment is actually effective in changing people’s behaviour.

    We don’t need to even discuss free will to see that this is unjustified from a utilitarian standpoint.

    FWIW, I think three ideas are often conflated
    1) free will as a coherent idea that may or may not be in evidence (for a dualist)
    2) free will as an incoherent idea that couldn’t be in evidence (for a monist)
    3) choice (like that exhibited in an algorithm)
    I’m not sure that we are all talking about the same thing.
    But for your point, Walton, about retributive justice, I don’t think that free will need enter the discussion at all. I know what you think about prison. What about parking tickets?

  145. 145
    ChasCPeterson

    What about parking tickets?

    What about The Boot?

  146. 146
    pokealot

    Seriously PZ, you need to see a shrink. Perhaps you don’t remember being sodomized. I can’t think of anything else that could explain such animosity. Think of all the time you have wasted scoring the internet for Christians to ridicule and bully on your blog. I can’t imagine the toll this obsession has taken on your career. You need to get help.

  147. 147
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    ChasC: That device be cursed. It stands in opposition to the very essence of the wheel and axle.

    pokealot: fie on you.

  148. 148
    Amphiox

    I can’t think of anything else that could explain such animosity.

    Animosity? What animosity. PZ is merely describing, with utter, passionless accuracy, the truth.

    Perhaps you don’t remember being sodomized.

    When you come to comprehend just how thoroughly despicable and hateful this statement is, even (especially!) when used in “jest”, and issue, on this thread, your formal apology, your suspended membership in the club of decent human beings will be restored, and your membership card shall be returned.

    Until then, here’s a decaying porcupine to do with as you will.

  149. 149
    chigau (違う)

    One more comment from pokealot will be three.

  150. 150
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Seriously PZ, you I need to see a shrink for repeatedly telling abject lies about you.

    You I need to get help.

    Fixed that for you troll. You lie and bullshit to yourself, then lie and bullshit to us. So, you are called on your lies and bullshit. That makes you the one needing help, not PZ. Begone liar and bullshitter.

  151. 151
    Amphiox

    Yes, but the phrase “bad person”, in practice, carries moral overtones; it implies not just dangerousness or harm, but moral agency and a choice to do wrong.

    And if you should happen to feel that this is, indeed, a “bad” thing, then the solution is to continue using the term, and spreading the term, such that popular usage will evolve to the point where such overtones are no longer carried.

    That is the way that language is changed.

    We wouldn’t call a rock rolling downhill and crushing someone a “bad rock”, or a hurricane that destroys homes and kills people a “bad hurricane”.

    Don’t know about the rock, but we certain do use that expression for hurricanes, not uncommonly. I’ve encountered lots of references to Katrina, for example as a particularly “bad” hurricane.

  152. 152
    PZ Myers

    Perhaps you don’t remember being sodomized.

    Wait. I’m being accused of being too harsh on Christians, and you’re the one claiming that the good people I remember from childhood were rapists and monsters?

    There’s something wrong with you.

  153. 153
    Walton

    So is your argument that no one should talk about negative consequences for, say, committing mass murder (or, really, any behavior at all) because that necessarily leads to generalizing the idea to drug users or others for whom it isn’t appropriate? Or that people shouldn’t talk about it because, say, Stalin didn’t have free will? You appeared to be arguing the latter, but now you seem to be arguing the former.

    No. To give you a personal example:

    When I was a teenager, I was a vicious bigot, and in many respects an emotionally abusive person. I’m constantly ashamed of that, and live with a lot of guilt, and I repudiate everything that I did and said then and would not seek to defend any of it. But I can’t do anything to change the past. If we’re judging people on their pasts, the difference between me and the people we label as monsters and evildoers is a matter of degree, not of kind. (The best I can say for myself is that at least I admit to it.)

    If I believed that we had free will, and that people who do harm are morally responsible for their acts and deserve to suffer, how would I be able to live with the knowledge of my own guilt? And I can imagine that if only my brain were wired a bit differently, I would have been worse still. What is it that makes me morally different from a mass-murdering dictator? Just my brain chemistry. If I had no control over my actions and am not responsible for the harm I once caused for others, the same must be true of those who have committed atrocities. I am in no position to judge or condemn other people; if there are evil people, I’m one of them.

    That’s why I take it so personally when people suggest that it is right to kill mass-murdering dictators in retribution for their crimes, say – or, on a more trivial level, that people like Gelato Guy should never be forgiven for their acts of bigotry. Because they could so easily be saying much the same things about me, had my life worked out a little differently. I always imagine myself instinctively as the one in the dock, the scaffold or the pillory. I can’t help that.

    Perhaps much of this is a symptom of my admitted mental disorder, and my innate tendency towards guilt and self-loathing. I can’t do much about that. I can only speak as I find. I feel guilty enough already; if you tell me that the guilty should be punished, I feel even worse.

  154. 154
    Glen Davidson

    Jeff Shallit on Phil Johnson:

    Yes, I remember very well when Johnson visited the Usenet newsgroup talk.origins. He, a recent convert to evangelical Christianity (oh! the irony!), liked to say things such as “My purpose is not to insult anyone, however, but to free minds. Many of you have been indoctrinated not to question assumptions that are based on ideology rather than evidence. You can be free of that indoctrination if you wish to be.” He also claimed, “It is my practice always to respond to well-informed and intelligent criticism”, but when well-informed and intelligent commenters pointed out that Johnson’s doubts about whale evolution were ill-founded, they were surprised to find that Johnson never responded to them at all.

    Ultimately, it turned out to be a pretty brief visit: Johnson’s ignorance of biology was quickly exposed, and he left in a huff. So much for his “skilled and tactful” e-correspondence.

    http://recursed.blogspot.com/2011/11/encomiums-for-incompetence-case-of.html

    My guess is that he was naive and arrogant, yet quite possibly relatively honest (without any real understanding of intellectual honesty), up until that point.

    After that there’s no real excuse. We did not need to “be set free from our indoctrination,” he needed to be divested of his dogma and ignorance. What did he do? He left “in a huff” according to Shallit, and despite an occasional moment of clarity (like after Dover when he admitted that ID lost because it lacks a theory–although he trashed evolution without cause or evidence at the same time), he seems to have decided to stick with those ignorant and mendacious enough to praise him.

    So as arrogantly ignorant and projectionist as he was initially, I don’t think he was what we’d call “evil” at the very start. When he decided that he didn’t want to play any more with those who weren’t ignorant and dull enough to accept his tripe, he likely stepped over to deciding that he (and Jeebus–same thing, really) was right no matter what anyone said.

    I don’t hope more than an atom or so that he will ever become sensible, honest, and genuinely sorry for selling a pack of lies to the public. I do hope, however, that underneath his triumphal blather is the unease that he may very well be wrong, and that science won’t “come to its senses” or any such thing, rather he will be remembered for the charlatan that he is. It seems that he should have that worry gnawing at his stomach, since he apparently failed completely at Talkorigins, but self-deception is very powerful in many people, so he may do no more than reassure himself that he did it all for Jeebus and any doubts become very small and barely bother him at all.

    I hope he’s not that good at deceiving himself, but it’s not at all clear that he isn’t.

    Glen Davidson

  155. 155
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    But my general argument is that our society uses far more punishment than is necessary or effective, to the exclusion of more compassionate and humane means to change people’s behaviour.

    I don’t disagree with this. But I’m also not sure how we can change anyone’s behavior if they have no choice?

    And people usually justify doing so on the retributivist grounds that some people “deserve” punishment,

    I just disagree that punishing people for bad behavior (murder for example) is inherently bad, whether you view it as vengeance or not.

    and don’t even ask for evidence as to whether such punishment is actually effective in changing people’s behaviour.

    Which is a separate issue from whether we should or can punish people for their behavior.

    Hence, we end up wasting resources and causing harm in order to punish people, when, resource-for-resource, we could achieve more with a little kindness.

    Sure in many cases I fully agree. If there is one thing we are experts at as a society, it’s wasting resources. This though again is a completely separate issue from whether we should or can punish people for their behavior.

  156. 156
    onion girl, OM; social workers do it with paperwork

    Seriously PZ, you need to see a shrink. Perhaps you don’t remember being sodomized. I can’t think of anything else that could explain such animosity. Think of all the time you have wasted scoring the internet for Christians to ridicule and bully on your blog. I can’t imagine the toll this obsession has taken on your career. You need to get help.

    Fuck the rule of three. Using child abuse as an offhand verbal rejoinder? FUCK YOU.

    And just in case you’d like to know where my animosity comes from?

    It comes from years of working with children that were physically, emotionally, sexually abused and neglected.
    It comes from watching a four old recover from her sexual abuse by her mother’s boyfriend.
    It comes from watching a mother grieve over the death of her baby boy that was repeatedly sodomized by a neighbor.
    It comes from watching an 83 year old woman give up on counseling for her rape when she saw the therapist was more than half her age.
    It comes from sitting at the bedside of a client in the hospital because she’d tried to commit suicide, unable to cope with the trauma of her years of sexual abuse from both parents.

    If you want to score points with a witty riposte, go pick up a fucking thesaurus.

    Also, ps: your entire contribution to this thread has been speculative fictions; either put forth an actual argument or just go the hell away.

  157. 157
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    Because they could so easily be saying much the same things about me, had my life worked out a little differently.

    But your life did. You make changes (oh no CHOICE!) to your behavior to “correct” it.

  158. 158
    eric1rom

    “I want Johnson to suffer the pain and frustration of knowing that he has wasted his life, and that he’ll be remembered as a failure.”

    Dood, hate-filled much?

  159. 159
    Rey Fox

    I can’t imagine the toll this obsession has taken on your career.

    Perhaps you’ve missed all the jetting around the country he does.

  160. 160
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    Would you like to defend Philip Johnson’s lives work, eric1rom?

  161. 161
    Walton

    Seriously PZ, you need to see a shrink. Perhaps you don’t remember being sodomized.

    Not funny and not ok. References to sexual violence are not an acceptable rhetorical device. Go away.

    ====

    But I’m also not sure how we can change anyone’s behavior if they have no choice?

    I still seem to be failing to communicate this (for which I take responsibility; the language is so ambiguous that I haven’t been very clear). My argument is that people’s behaviour is a deterministic product of their genes and their environment – not their genes alone. Rewards and punishments, as environmental influences, can obviously condition a person’s behaviour; this is empirically well-demonstrated. It doesn’t mean they have free will in how they react to said rewards or punishments. (Like I said, you can train a lab rat to run a particular way through a maze by giving it electric shocks for going the wrong way. That doesn’t mean that the rat has “free will”.)

  162. 162
    yoav

    The last time I saw an appearance of the founder of the Intelligent Design movement, Johnson was looking very frail, recovering from a stroke.

    You would think an intelligent designer could have come up with a system capable of supplying the brain with nutrient and oxygen in which a minor leak couldn’t turn into a catastrophic failure with very little to no warning.

  163. 163
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    I still seem to be failing to communicate this (for which I take responsibility; the language is so ambiguous that I haven’t been very clear). My argument is that people’s behaviour is a deterministic product of their genes and their environment – not their genes alone. Rewards and punishments, as environmental influences, can obviously condition a person’s behaviour; this is empirically well-demonstrated. It doesn’t mean they have free will in how they react to said rewards or punishments. (Like I said, you can train a lab rat to run a particular way through a maze by giving it electric shocks for going the wrong way. That doesn’t mean that the rat has “free will”.)

    Fair enough. Though you have a choice on how you, as a person, respond to the hand that is dealt to you environmentally, and in some aspects genetically. If you don’t then no one is ever responsible for anything they do. That’s all well and good if we want to keep this in a philosophical ethereal discussion but outright sucks when put into working practice in our society.

    Some people choose to act against the most basic societally accepted norms (murder, rape… at least I hope rape), some don’t despite their environmental and I would suppose genetic pressures.

    We can try and level the playing field as much as possible but it is, at least at this point in time, impossible to fully level it for everyone. People at some point have to take responsibility for their actions.

    And yes, there are obvious cases where exceptions have to be made.

  164. 164
    Walton

    Though you have a choice on how you, as a person, respond to the hand that is dealt to you environmentally, and in some aspects genetically.

    I don’t see how that can be true. You are your brain chemistry; there is no “self” separate from the neurochemical reactions in the brain. And your brain chemistry is a product of your genes, your environment and your conditioning, and other physical factors that affect it (such as traumatic brain injuries or mind-altering drugs). There is no “you” separate from these physical factors. So how can it make sense to say that “you” can “choose” to do anything other than what your genes and your environment have predisposed you to do? You are your genes and your environment.

  165. 165
    Ichthyic

    Perhaps you’ve missed all the jetting around the country world he does.

    seriously, for a small college professor, he sure does get around!

    more power to ‘em.

  166. 166
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    To give you a personal example:

    When I was a teenager, I was a vicious bigot,

    You no doubt recall that I was here the first time you posted on this blog, and for several months thereafter. You were a bigot, but I don’t remember any viciousness.

    and in many respects an emotionally abusive person. I’m constantly ashamed of that, and live with a lot of guilt, and I repudiate everything that I did and said then and would not seek to defend any of it. But I can’t do anything to change the past.

    If you were abusive to people you could apologize and make them aware that you’re troubled by your past behavior. But I’m finding this somewhat difficult to believe as well. I think your memories are kind of warped. That said, I do NOT want this conversation to be about you.

    If we’re judging people on their pasts, the difference between me and the people we label as monsters and evildoers is a matter of degree, not of kind.

    Of course. But it’s not like degree is nothing!

    If I believed that we had free will, and that people who do harm are morally responsible for their acts and deserve to suffer, how would I be able to live with the knowledge of my own guilt?

    By recognizing that you’re human and therefore far from perfect, that no one can be expected to be, and that your acts were bad but relatively minor on the scale of evil. It’s a matter of perspective.

    And I can imagine that if only my brain were wired a bit differently, I would have been worse still. What is it that makes me morally different from a mass-murdering dictator?

    That you’re not a mass-murdering dictator. Is this a serious question?

    Just my brain chemistry.

    And the fact that you haven’t ordered mass murder. (By the way, brain “wiring” and chemistry are not set once and for all, but change constantly throughout our lives with our actions and experiences.)

    if there are evil people, I’m one of them.

    Yes, if you stretch the definition of evil to include everything from ordering the deaths of millions of people to teenage bigotry, that is true.

    That’s why I take it so personally when people suggest that it is right to kill mass-murdering dictators in retribution for their crimes, say – or, on a more trivial level, that people like Gelato Guy should never be forgiven for their acts of bigotry.

    I don’t think that is what people have said. Saying “I don’t accept your apology” is not the same as saying someone should never be forgiven or should be made to suffer endlessly.

    Because they could so easily be saying much the same things about me, had my life worked out a little differently.

    They could be saying “the same things” about you now, if they were harmed by your bigotry. And you could say them about those who’ve wronged you.

    I always imagine myself instinctively as the one in the dock, the scaffold or the pillory. I can’t help that.

    Well, you can go beyond this. (I find your view troubling in a “bare life” sense, as I’ve mentioned in the past.) You can also try to imagine yourself as someone who’s seen his entire family and village slaughtered in a murderous genocidal campaign.

    Perhaps much of this is a symptom of my admitted mental disorder, and my innate tendency towards guilt and self-loathing. I can’t do much about that. I can only speak as I find. I feel guilty enough already; if you tell me that the guilty should be punished, I feel even worse.

    I think this is a problem, yes. But I don’t think the appropriate means of assuaging your own guilt is to attempt to grasp onto the idea that no one is really responsible for their bad acts, but to recognize that human beings do things that are bad and harmful as well as things that are wonderful, try to repair the damage you’ve contributed to, and try to do good things. And remember that there’s a wide gulf between being a teenage jackass and being a genocidal dictator.

  167. 167
    humanape

    eric1rom wrote “Dood, hate-filled much?

    Hey tard boy, if you want to see some REAL hate, if you want to see what subhumans like you deserve, visit darwinkilledgod.blogspot.com.

  168. 168
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    So how can it make sense to say that “you” can “choose” to do anything other than what your genes and your environment have predisposed you to do?

    This illustrates why free will is an incoherent idea for a monist. It boils down to this: You only choose what you choose to do. It’s a tautology.

  169. 169
    Ichthyic

    Those debating the concept of free will in this thread might want to check out a recent post on Jerry’s blog:

    http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/11/15/another-philosopher-redefines-free-will-so-that-we-can-still-have-it/

    The free-will issue is exacerbated by recent studies showing that when we make “choices”—say, to press a button on the left or right side of a computer—the “decision” has already been recorded in our brain’s activity at least ten seconds before we’re conscious of having made a choice. That, of course, further supports a deterministic view of behavior, and the absence of what most people think of as “free will.”

    which also discusses a recent response to the latest studies in neurology and cognitive science:

    http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/13/is-neuroscience-the-death-of-free-will/

    Myself?

    I agree with both.

    the science clearly suggests that what we thought of as a workable definition of free will does not apply.

    However, think: “Matrix”.

    It’s the illusion of free will that is what is important anyway. Our minds fully accept that we make free choices, and that’s already part of our cognitive process. Unlike, say, religious dogma, which is NOT part of a natural cognitive process, but must be constantly brainwashed into us to take.

    So, I really don’t have any problems accepting that at the root level, free will is an illusion as we currently define it; but it’s a workable illusion that our brains have become entirely accustomed to.

    Seriously, try spending a day convincing yourself that all of the choices you make are in fact, as seems now supported, predetermined before you even consciously make them.

    It’s a fun experiment, but I couldn’t do it. Can you?

  170. 170
    Ichthyic

    Dood, hate-filled much?

    I’m weary of the inanity behind this false concern.

    Bad ideas and actions that cause actual damage SHOULD have penalties, don’t you think?

    if not, why do we toss people in jail for breaking laws?

    and as far as punishment goes, do you REALLY consider it “hate-filled” to want someone to meditate on the damage they have caused with their bad, failed, miserably self-serving ideas?

    you’re pathetic.

    I think you should have to live with your false concern!!

    muhahahahaha!*

    *(most pathetic evil villain ever)

  171. 171
    Walton

    You no doubt recall that I was here the first time you posted on this blog, and for several months thereafter. You were a bigot, but I don’t remember any viciousness.

    That’s not what I’m talking about. I started posting here when I was just under nineteen; I was enormously worse, thousands of times worse, when I was thirteen or fourteen (both homophobic and misogynistic, and creepy in a sexual sense), to the point that it would, in some cases, have been considered actionable harassment and hate speech if I had been an adult. You can say that my age and emotional instability at the time makes a difference, and of course it did, but again, it’s a matter of degree; fourteen-year-olds are not small children, and a fourteen-year-old of normal-or-higher intelligence is not completely unaware of the context or consequences of his or her behaviour.

    your acts were bad but relatively minor on the scale of evil.

    Again, you’re thinking of what I was like at eighteen, not what I was like at fourteen. You didn’t see the latter, and I’m glad you didn’t.

    Well, you can go beyond this. (I find your view troubling in a “bare life” sense, as I’ve mentioned in the past.) You can also try to imagine yourself as someone who’s seen his entire family and village slaughtered in a murderous genocidal campaign.

    I do. Why do you think I chose to work in asylum and refugee law, or to be involved in human rights activism? I don’t like to see anyone suffer, and I’m doing my best to help, in the piecemeal way that any ordinary person can. Perhaps I should be doing more; indeed, I’m sure I should. But I certainly care.

    And I find my feelings about punishment troubling, too. Believe me. But I can’t pick and choose who to empathize with, or make my emotional reactions other than they are.

  172. 172
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    I don’t see how that can be true. You are your brain chemistry; there is no “self” separate from the neurochemical reactions in the brain. And your brain chemistry is a product of your genes, your environment and your conditioning, and other physical factors that affect it (such as traumatic brain injuries or mind-altering drugs). There is no “you” separate from these physical factors. So how can it make sense to say that “you” can “choose” to do anything other than what your genes and your environment have predisposed you to do? You are your genes and your environment.

    People resist “urges” and change their behavior all the time despite the fact they have been environmentally conditioned to do otherwise.

    I know implications of an idea have no bearing on the validity of it, but the implication of what you are saying is that no one is ever responsible for their actions.

    HOWEVER

    I’ve got to leave and I feel myself slipping into some defense of dualism, which is completely not my intention so I’m going to leave the office, go to the beer store and think about how to work what I’m trying to say.

  173. 173
    Ichthyic

    “I want Johnson to suffer the pain and frustration of knowing that he has wasted his life”

    the only problem with that is it doesn’t go FAR ENOUGH.

    “I want Johnson to suffer the pain and frustration of knowing that he has wasted his life cause tremendous lasting harm to individuals, entire scientific disciples, and even the very concept that we should rely on logic and reason to make our decisions.”

    Johnson wallowing in self pity for the damage he caused?

    hell people, the false concern shown here disgusts me.

  174. 174
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    how to word

    Typos are not my fault. I have no control over typing them.

  175. 175
    Ichthyic

    Johnson hasn’t “wasted his life”, his goal was to cause damage.

    he’s done that, in spades.

    he’s a goddamn VILLAIN.

  176. 176
    Ichthyic

    yeah, talk about typos, rev…

    …causeD tremendous lasting harm to individuals, entire scientific disciplINes,…

    gotta poofread more carefully.

    ;)

  177. 177
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    I’ll make one more comment about you.

    That’s not what I’m talking about. I started posting here when I was just under nineteen; I was enormously worse, thousands of times worse, when I was thirteen or fourteen (both homophobic and misogynistic, and creepy in a sexual sense), to the point that it would, in some cases, have been considered actionable harassment and hate speech if I had been an adult. You can say that my age and emotional instability at the time makes a difference, and of course it did, but again, it’s a matter of degree; fourteen-year-olds are not small children, and a fourteen-year-old of normal-or-higher intelligence is not completely unaware of the context or consequences of his or her behaviour.

    You were fourteen years old. It’s like the cruelest age. Say you’re sorry and let it go.

    I don’t like to see anyone suffer,… But I can’t pick and choose who to empathize with, or make my emotional reactions other than they are.

    Hmm. We can all make an effort to think about our emotional reactions. I think emotions are not to be brushed aside in this context, but it’s often hard not to lose sight of the harmed when we’re considering the harmer or vice versa.

    I’ll also say that I don’t think your use of this nonculpability argument as a defense against your own feelings of guilt is a positive or viable strategy in the long run. I agree with many of your points about punishment and alternatives, as you know, but I’m not sure whether you believe the extreme version of the argument you’re making (especially since you seem to revert regularly to a less extreme version). I mean, if you did, you would have stopped feeling guilty, and you obviously haven’t. Just a thought.

  178. 178
    Ichthyic

    To ask someone to feel regret or remorse for past actions is not a curse.

    it’s a blessing.

    in essence, PZ did nothing more than what the xians do when they come here and end their missives with:

    “God bless you all!”

  179. 179
    Thomathy, Such A 'Mo

    Ichthyic, that’s how I’ve understood free will for a while now. It’s trivially true that our actions are predetermined. However, we operate in reality under the illusion that they are not.

    I don’t understand why Walton continues on about predeterminism, when it’s also trivially true that people’s actions have real-world consequences. It seems to me that as agents of our actions we are ultimately responsible for them.

    I thought it was pretty firmly established that denying agency for one’s actions was not a valid defense.

    Walton, what exactly is supposed to be so malicious about hoping that Johnson wallows in regret? Should he realise the effect of his life’s work, what else could his response possibly be? I believe there is much that Johnson should regret. As I have said, ‘There is no justice for him without of his own mind.’ It’s not retributive to expect him to suffer in accordance with the result of that realisation, it’s realistic and it would be meaningful.

  180. 180
    julian

    “I want Johnson to suffer the pain and frustration of knowing that he has wasted his life cause tremendous lasting harm to individuals, entire scientific disciples, and even the very concept that we should rely on logic and reason to make our decisions.” -Ichthyic

    I’m oddly entirely comfortable with the (apparently) harsher sentiment.

  181. 181
    Walton

    It seems to me that as agents of our actions we are ultimately responsible for them.

    I don’t really understand in what sense we are “responsible”, when you concede that our actions are predetermined and we could not have chosen otherwise than we did, and that most people’s* feeling that the contrary is true is just an illusion.

    *I’ve never really felt like I had free will. But I realize I’m neurologically highly atypical in that respect.

  182. 182
    Walton

    neurologically

    Wrong word, sorry. But you know what I mean, hopefully.

  183. 183
    Ichthyic

    I’m oddly entirely comfortable with the (apparently) harsher sentiment.

    exactly. It’s nothing more than appearances.

  184. 184
    Nick Gotts

    It’s trivially true that our actions are predetermined. – Thomathy

    No, it isn’t. Most interpretations of quantum mechanics regard it as including random events. However, this is irrelevant to the question of free will. Walton and co. are making a parallel error to those goddists who insist that because materialists believe all our mental operations supervene on interactions between molecules, we are committed to disbelieving in consciousness, love, truth, etc.: in both cases, there is a complete failure to take into the account thee xistence of different levels of description. We can say very well what we mean by choice, freedom and moral responsibility without being committed to the existence of some magical form of agent causation. Indeed, when he’s not being “philosophical”. Walton readily uses terms such as “nasty” and “cruel”, which are clearly terms of moral disapprobation. The fact that he finds it impossible to do without such terms should tell him something.

  185. 185
    Ichthyic

    …and appearances tell me that apparently, what most people fear most of all is that they somehow will be convinced they “wasted their lives”.

    nobody can convince you of that but yourself.

    a life lived is never a life wasted.

    I’m sure someone, somewhere, already said that.

    PZ’s “curse” only has teeth to the people who fear they may have wasted their own lives.

    to me, like I said, it amounts to little more than the xians who end their missives by blessing us.

  186. 186
    Nick Gotts

    Perhaps I should be doing more; indeed, I’m sure I should. – walton@171.

    By your own lights, the word “should”, in the sense used here, is meaningless. Walton, you may think you do, but in fact, even you don’t believe what you’re arguing.

  187. 187
    Walton

    Walton readily uses terms such as “nasty” and “cruel”, which are clearly terms of moral disapprobation. The fact that he finds it impossible to do without such terms should tell him something.

    It tells me that our language is premised on an assumption of free will. Since most people in history have believed explicitly or implicitly in free will, this shouldn’t be surprising. Just as our language has been shaped by theism, mind-body dualism, and a whole host of other related widespread human cognitive errors about how reality works. That doesn’t, however, make them right.

  188. 188
    Nick Gotts

    Incidentally, I shall exercise my free will not to participate in the “Free will thread”, because this topic is fundamentally very boring once you realise both that there’s no incompatibility between determinism and free will, and that people who insist otherwise will usually not be convinced by argument.

  189. 189
    Nick Gotts

    Walton@187,

    You don’t find it difficult not to speak as if you were a theist, while as I’ve said, with regard to dualism you’re just making the same error as goddists who insist that a non-dualist cannot consistently speak of feelings or experiences.

  190. 190
    David Marjanović

    Seriously PZ, you need to see a shrink. Perhaps you don’t remember being sodomized. I can’t think of anything else that could explain such animosity. Think of all the time you have wasted scoring the internet for Christians to ridicule and bully on your blog.

    Your imagination is scarily limited, young padawan. I hope you’ve read comments 138 and 152.

    Hey tard boy, if you want to see some REAL hate, if you want to see what subhumans like you deserve, visit darwinkilledgod.blogspot.com.

    Aaaaaand Godwin. Thanks for nothing!

    Walton, you may think you do, but in fact, even you don’t believe what you’re arguing.

    I think Walton does this a lot – he takes a philosophical argument and explores its logical consequences till he runs into a brick wall. He then proceeds to destroy the brick wall, but it’s too thick, so he gives up sometime

  191. 191
    Walton

    By your own lights, the word “should”, in the sense used here, is meaningless. Walton, you may think you do, but in fact, even you don’t believe what you’re arguing.

    See #187.

    And perhaps it’s objectively meaningless to say that anyone “should” do anything. I don’t know. That may logically follow from what I’m arguing; I’d have to think about it. But the use of moral language could, perhaps, be understood as one of the ways in which humans have learned to condition other humans to behave as they want them to behave, through manipulating the human instinct to seek social approval. I’m thinking out loud here, so this might not be an adequate explanation; I’m not fully committed to it, and the latter part assumes empirical claims about psychology that may or may not be true.

    Perhaps it’s actually impossible for a human being to accept fully and completely the non-existence of free will, and the corresponding meaninglessness of much of our moral vocabulary. Perhaps Ichthyic’s right that we just can’t do it; or perhaps we can only do it by destroying our own minds or our society in the process. I don’t know the answer to that. As far as I know, few people have ever really tried.

  192. 192
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    KG:

    …this topic is fundamentally very boring once you realise both that there’s no incompatibility between determinism and free will…

    Indeed, as I argued on the free will thread, any practical description of “free will” is indistinguishable from any practical description of “neurological determinism.” The distinction between the two is effectively non-existent.

  193. 193
    Ichthyic

    this topic is fundamentally very boring once you realise both that there’s no incompatibility between determinism and free will

    +1

  194. 194
    Walton

    You don’t find it difficult not to speak as if you were a theist,

    True, but I do occasionally find it difficult not to speak as if I were a dualist. How often do we find ourselves contradistinguishing the mind and the body in our conversation as though the “self” were something distinct from the physical body, say? Of course, both dualism and free-willism are much more universally ingrained in human cultures than theism is, and have much more rarely been challenged; perhaps they’re natural cognitive errors to which all humans are biologically prone (though that’s speculation, and I’m not qualified to say whether it’s empirically true or not).

  195. 195
    Ichthyic

    +1

    make that:

    + ∞

  196. 196
    John Morales

    [OT]

    What, the stupid free will discussion again?!

    AE:

    This illustrates why free will is an incoherent idea for a monist. It boils down to this: You only choose what you choose to do. It’s a tautology.

    A tautology is not incoherent; it’s a necessary truth.

    An incoherent idea is one whose components lack meaningful connection.

    [meta]

    I find Walton’s frequent use of scare quotes without changing the sense of the terms to which he applies them incoherent.

    How often do we find ourselves contradistinguishing the mind and the body in our conversation as though the “self” were something distinct from the physical body, say?

    Oh, FFS.

    How often do we find ourselves contradistinguishing the software and the hardware in our conversation as though the “program” were something distinct from the physical computer, say?

    (bah)

  197. 197
    John Morales

    [ack, sorry. Just noticed the free-will thread.

    I'll go hammer on the Walton there]

  198. 198
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Of course, both dualism and free-willism are much more universally ingrained in human cultures than theism is, and have much more rarely been challenged; perhaps they’re natural cognitive errors to which all humans are biologically prone (though that’s speculation, and I’m not qualified to say whether it’s empirically true or not).

    Qualification is irrelevant; either you have the evidence or you don’t.

  199. 199
    ftk1

    If ID is dead, why is it that you spend endless hours trying to battle it in your blog entries? I think this is just something you all try to tell yourselves over and over until you’ve brainwashed yourselves into actually believing it. Seems to be a lot of that over here.

  200. 200
    Glen Davidson

    If ID is dead, why is it that you spend endless hours trying to battle it in your blog entries?

    Dumbfuck, why did IDiot Klinghoffer whine that IDiocy was being ignored? Aside from the clear lies that its supposed “challenges” haven’t been answered in the past, he is right that we’ve returned more to answering traditional creationists, since IDiocy does nothing but repeat the same old shit that has been answered, never once explaining, for instance, why we can reliably detect derivation in some undetermined “microevolution” yet the same type of evidence for “macroevolution” doesn’t indicate derivation.

    No one said that creationism is dead, uncomprehending moron.

    think this is just something you all try to tell yourselves over and over until you’ve brainwashed yourselves into actually believing it. Seems to be a lot of that over here.

    I think you’re as ignorant and stupid as almost all creationists, including the dumbfuck IDiots.

    Glen Davidson

  201. 201
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    For The Kids, there is no need to tell ourselves “ID is dead” like it was a mantra. Just ask the biologists what theory they make use of.

    But, please stick around and play. It will be fun to see how long it takes before you get yourself banned again.

  202. 202
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    Glen, you should recognize who this special troll is, look at the initials. You already know just how stupid she is.

  203. 203
    Glen Davidson

    Right, janine, if I’d bothered to actually look at the initials I actually would have gone easier on her, because although she’s another ignorant creo troll (and prone to very stupid creationist posts, no question), it’s sort of like she’s one of our trolls by now.

    But ok, it’s not like she didn’t miss the whole point about how ID is “dead” and creationism doing fine, which was what IDiot Klinghoffer was blithering about recently (dishonestly misrepresenting the matter, as is his wont). I would have tread a bit more lightly on FTK just because her’s is familiar nonsense, but I hardly think she didn’t have it coming.

    Glen Davidson

  204. 204
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    If ID is dead, why is it that you spend endless hours trying to battle it in your blog entries?

    Intellectually and scientifically, it was stillborn when Johnson first proposed it. But fuckwits like you won’t let it go, because you accept it on faith. Ergo, we can’t…

  205. 205
    Glen Davidson

    Klinghoffer summarizes IDiocy splendidly:

    Adjectives, yes. Childish insults, yes. Sadistic daydreams, yes. Arguments, no.

    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2011/12/help_some_leadi053731.html

    Projected elsewhere, of course, but he’s incapable of anything else. Certainly not cogent arguments, and never once would he answer our cogent points on his trollish website when he still wrote on it, but hatred of competence seems to be what drives him.

    Glen Davidson

  206. 206
    Ichthyic

    FTK is back?

    *headdesk*

    that thing should be banned from ALL blogs, on principle.

    I recall what she tried to do to Skatje in concert with Sal Cordova.

    fucking slimeball.

  207. 207
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    Ichthyic, I saw no need to even mention that. I figured that all of the old timers remember well her smear job. And, frankly, I do not want to even imply what was said.

  208. 208
    Steve

    It is interesting that evolutionist chide IDists for claiming Darwinism is dead.

    And now we’ve got PZ on the same said dead bandwagon.

    Sooooo. When ID is still alive and kicking next year, what will PZ say? Maybe something like this:

    ” Er, well when I said dead, I meant for all intents and purposes dead, but not dead, dead. You know what I mean. right? I mean there’s a difference between dead and er, dead, dead. Really, trust me, it’s there. ”

    Prolly.

  209. 209
    'Tis Himself

    No, Steve, ID is not alive. Its zombie corpse is lurching around, hunting aimlessly for a shred of respectability. You creationists tried to make it seem almost like it possibly appeared sort of sciency, if people didn’t look too hard, but you failed miserably. GODDIDIT doesn’t work if you use Genesis or if you use ID.

  210. 210
    Glen Davidson

    It is interesting that evolutionist chide IDists for claiming Darwinism is dead.

    And now we’ve got PZ on the same said dead bandwagon.

    It’s interesting that historian chide loonies for claiming that Paul McCartny is dead.

    And now we have historians saying that Abe Lincoln is dead, and thus are on the same bandwagon.

    Btw, dumbass, some things are true and some are lies.

    Glen Davidson

  211. 211
    John Morales

    Steve, we know ID eternally lies.

    (It is written: “That is not dead which can eternal lie”)

  212. 212
    pokealot

    PZ I didn’t say that the good people you remember from childhood were rapists and monsters. Either you are stupid or you are delibertly twisting my words. You aren’t stupid so you must be a liar.

    Isn’t it time to be honest and admit to yourself the true source of your hatred toward Christians.

  213. 213
    chigau (違う)

    It’s kinda late.
    But I’m guessing early tomorrow later today.

  214. 214
    John Morales

    [meta]

    pokealot,

    Isn’t it time to be honest and admit to yourself the true source of your hatred toward Christians.

    Isn’t it time to be honest and admit to yourself the true self of your self-disgust which occasions your stupid trolling and blatant lying?

  215. 215
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    Let us see what you said, pokemyheadinmyassalot.

    Seriously PZ, you need to see a shrink. Perhaps you don’t remember being sodomized. I can’t think of anything else that could explain such animosity. Think of all the time you have wasted scoring the internet for Christians to ridicule and bully on your blog. I can’t imagine the toll this obsession has taken on your career. You need to get help.

    No, you did not say it but, nitwit, if is fucking implied.

    Who the fuck are you to say that anyone that you do not know was raped as a child?

    Please refer to what Onion Girl wrote about your slimy tactics earlier.

    If you are an example of fine christian morality, christianity should be scourged from this world immediately.

    Drop dead.

  216. 216
    Ing

    Walton you always sound amazingly callous to me when you start berating people on this topic.

  217. 217
    Ichthyic

    PZ I didn’t say that the good people you remember from childhood were rapists and monsters.

    translation:

    lieliebackpeddalliebullshitlielieliebullshit….

  218. 218
    Ichthyic

    Drop dead.

    don’t you really mean:

    “Live forever and wallow in your failure!”

    evidently that’s supposed to be the worst curse, evah!

  219. 219
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    When ID is still alive and kicking next year,

    Considering there is no peer peer reviewed scientific literature showing even a hint of design, all you have is bravado, lies, and bullshit. Typical of those who believe in imaginary things (Yahweh), and books of mythology/fiction (your babble).

    Either you are stupid or you are delibertly twisting my words. You aren’t stupid so you must be a liar.

    Sorry loser, you are the liar and bullshitter. Either prove with conclusive physical evidence that PZ was molested, or shut the fuck up. Only abject losers, liars, and bullshitters can’t put up and can’t shut up. I know you are the loser.

  220. 220
    petzl20

    If you liked QualiaSoup’s youtube video on “irreducible complexity”
    you’ll also like his one on “Lack of Belief in Gods”:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNDZb0KtJDk

  1. 221
    health benefits

    health benefits…

    [...]I am honestly happy that Phillip Johnson is still alive | Pharyngula[...]…

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