Why I am an atheist – Jeremy O’Wheel »« I get email

I take it he gets called a troll a lot?

Some random troll on the internet named Simon Painter has tried to invent an ejection seat for arguments.

I am staking a claim to this as Painter’s Law of The Internet whereby someone occupying an indefensible position will call troll to avoid admitting they made an illogical statement.

See? All he has to do is be repetitive and stupid and pointless, and when someone accurately calls him a troll, he gets to declare victory! It’s going to be amusing when someone named Painter starts trying to win arguments by citing Painter’s Law.

But here’s where it gets really funny: in that very same article, Simon Painter does a far better job of defining a troll than most people.

Personally I have no real interest in who is right and who is wrong. It makes about as much difference to my life as the existence or not of the Higgs-Boson particle. I will almost certainly never know for sure and I am truly skeptical that it would make much of a difference to my life either way. If you follow the Roman Catholic Church or some other variation on the theme or you follow the Church of ‘Atheism’ and worship the prophet Dawkins I couldn’t really care a monkeys but when you start making stupid statements like ‘there is no god’ or you judge an organisation that comforts many by the evils of a few within that organisation then you should probably prepare to be called out on it.

If you don’t care which position is right or wrong but you still charge in to stir the shit, you are a troll. And if you’re so oblivious that you publicly announce that you don’t give a damn about the truth, you’re a moron and a troll.

Comments

  1. StevoR says

    .. And one of a great many in the peanut crunching crowd I sometimes sadly think.

    What a dingbat.

    BTw. if the Higgs boson didn’t exist then neither would mass which would render the cosmos a very different place indeed and us non-existent.

  2. StevoR says

    That’s

    .. if you’re so oblivious that you publicly announce that you don’t give a damn about the truth, you’re a moron and a troll.

    .. And one of a great many in the peanut crunching crowd I sometimes sadly think.

    Too many folks in the world seem to be like that.

    And the incident that has sparked this post :

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2011/12/29/why-yes-but-is-the-wrong-response-to-misogyny/

    Has just lowered my view of Humanity even lower than I thought it could ever go.

  3. VegeBrain says

    Well, if he truly doesn’t care whether or not anyone is right or wrong then why did he even bother writing this?

  4. anteprepro says

    Bonus trolling:
    -Claiming that the massive, widespread child abuse and the subsequent cover-up by church authorities was only “evils of a few within” the Catholic Church, and that the fact that the Church gives “comfort” should mean that the abuse AND its cover-up should be ignored.
    -Claiming that “there is no god” is a “stupid statement” and never daring to apply that standard to “there is a God”.

    His disdain for the truth shows.

  5. klatu says

    “I’m not X, but…” is invariably followed by an X-ist statement.

    That would be a more deserving contender for an internet law that still needs a proper name. (Unless, it already has one?)

    “I’m not a troll, but… Personally I have no real interest in who is right and who is wrong. [...]”

    Also “Painter’s Law of The Internet”? Really? “of The Internet” is the best he could do?!
    Just like Newton’s laws of Things n’ Stuff.

  6. says

    Painter: the person taking the original untenable position calls troll and leaves the debate

    Leaves the debate? That’s not in the grand tradition of trolling, where the troll is insistent, recurrent, and impenetrably obuse. One can feed the troll, ignore the troll, or poke it with sharp sticks, but don’t expect it to experience an epiphany. (I think their brains are made out of rock.) I had a troll yesterday who (oh-so-cleverly) told me I was a bigot because I called someone a bigot (you know, self-cancellingly intolerant of intolerance and hoist on the self-referential petard). It was fun for a while, but eventually got dull. (Hmm, could it have been Painter?)

  7. Serendipitydawg (Physicists are such a pain sometimes) says

    @StevoR,

    BTw. if the Higgs boson didn’t exist then neither would mass which would render the cosmos a very different place indeed and us non-existent.

    While I concur with the epithet digbat, I have to take exception with the quoted paragraph!

    If the Higgs boson doesn’t exist then mass, which does, needs a new explanation. Mind you, the standard model will take a bit of a hit…

  8. StevoR says

    @ ^ Serendipitydawg (Physicists are such a pain sometimes) :

    Okay, fair enough point – agreed. Mind you, I gather its looking increasingly like they have found evidence for the Higgs particle /field / boson at the LHC recently?

  9. Serendipitydawg (Physicists are such a pain sometimes) says

    Sorry Steve, I had pedant mode on there!

    Certainly looking like they are on the trail… never doubted it myslef XD

    Simon’s has comments going straight into moderation, I wonder if mine will emerge or disappear into the aether.

  10. anteprepro says

    Also “Painter’s Law of The Internet”? Really? “of The Internet” is the best he could do?!

    Perhaps it should be called Painter’s Law of “Haha, I win because you gave into the urge to accurately label me as an unrelenting irritation in a debate I don’t actually care about”. It could be shortened to Painter’s Law of “Haha, I win”.

    I believe I may have a solution to all of this: All trolls henceforth will be referred to as Painters. That way Painter gets to be the internet famous defender of trolls that he obviously craves to be, and the rest of us don’t have to deal with the idiotic assumptions embedded in Painter’s “Law”. It’s a win-win.

  11. Serendipitydawg (Physicists are such a pain sometimes) says

    I suspect Mr Painter’s definition of an indefensible position is “disagrees with Simon Painter” so Painter’s law is likely to be reformulated somewhat by the time it adopted into the canon.

  12. interrobang says

    What have you guys got against poor innocent dingbats? What did decorative typography ever do to you?

    There, there, poor little symbol. It’s okay. I love you, even if those meanies don’t.

  13. nakarti says

    Simon Painter’s Law : Wherein an oblivious troll calls Troll to try getting out of an argument he started.

  14. Crow says

    I have no problems with Painters Law. It only applies to indefensible positions, so this is indeed a legitimate point.

    If somebody on the internet happens to be defending xianity with some bullshit argument and gets their ass handed to them by someone with actual reasons and then calls “troll!” I would have no problem calling them out as an example of Painters Law.

    There’s the tiny, little point that Painter doesn’t understand what constitutes an indefensible position, but I don’t see how that negates his law…

  15. Gregory Greenwood says

    From Painter’s website;

    This reaction seems to come most commonly from those who are believers of the ‘no god’ doctrine, those who have utter and complete faith that there is no higher being and that All Churches are Evil™. Many of these people masquerade as intelligent people, completely missing the point of the Dunning-Kruger effect which they cite so often, and make bold statements of their belief and their smugness that their fundamental belief in the absence of a god is more legitimate than those who hold a belief that there is a god.

    The projection is strong with this one…

    It always amuses me when people like this manage to confuse the requirement that extraordinary claims (like the claim that ‘goddidit’) be backed up with some kind of credible evidence with the assertion of an unevidenced claim. All we are saying is that there is no evidence for god, and that without such evidence the null hypothesis must hold. It is the theists who make ridiculous assertions without evidence and then smugly claim moral superiority.

    As for the evils of churches, well, that is a matter of public record these days. Unless, of course, Painter would care to argue that clerically mandated homophobia (including pogroms against homosexuals in Uganda), lies about condoms that have lead to hundrds of thousands of preventable deaths, and the concerted coverup of the epidemic of clerical child rape are really not all that bad, and that people should just stop making such a fuss…

  16. Serendipitydawg (Physicists are such a pain sometimes) says

    I like “digbat”.
    It could be related to the first rule of holes.

    Welcome to accidental etymology!

    I like subpontic visitor, though the natural habitat of the troll has changed somewhat over the years, it still hits the spot.

  17. Crow says

    What is so hard to understand about “That which you assert with no evidence I can dismiss with no evidence”?

    Seems elementary to me. But pervasiveness really looks like evidence to people who don’t think about things.

  18. Serendipitydawg (Physicists are such a pain sometimes) says

    It could be shortened to Painter’s Law of “Haha, I win”.

    Already taken: this is the Nelson dictum.

  19. anteprepro says

    I have no problems with Painters Law. It only applies to indefensible positions, so this is indeed a legitimate point.

    Except:
    1. It seems to imply that only people with indefensible positions will call troll (in fact, he introduces a corollary where the Real Troll will call others a troll to distract from their own trolling).
    2. If the person’s only rebuttal is to call someone a troll, we already have a term for that: ad hominem.
    3. If the person calls somebody a troll but still responds to their argument, then…who the fuck cares?

    And, looking at his opinions about what “indefensible positions” are (see 20), the subjectivity of “indefensible” and the ability to abuse this “law” should be apparent.

  20. DLC says

    Simon Painter, not knowing the first rule of holes apparently denies he even has a shovel in his hand. “I’m not digging a hole” he proclaims “the ground is subsiding beneath me!”

  21. Sastra says

    I would never say there is no evidence for God. It’s an empirical claim, an inference to the best explanation. Instead, I would say that the evidence for God is very poor — and points to an alternate explanation or explanations.

    Bad evidence is evidence, of a kind.

  22. Crow says

    @24 Anteprepro

    Well, shit, now I’m stuck defending Painter’s Law.

    Your critiques are not on the law itself, but the application of the law.

    The fact that it is a specific variety of ad hominem is not a valid critique.

    The fact that Painter himself doesn’t doesn’t apply his own law appropriately is not a valid critique.

    How did I end up defending this crap?

  23. Doug Little says

    or you judge an organisation that comforts many by the evils of a few within that organisation then you should probably prepare to be called out on it.

    He probably should come up with a term for straw man building as well.

    Higgs-Boson particle

    How about a term for I don’t even know how to spell the damn thing correctly, why should I care when even that eludes me.

  24. Serendipitydawg (Physicists are such a pain sometimes) says

    Sastra,

    I really like militant apathy as a term, but this isn’t it. Mr Painter states

    Personally I have no real interest in who is right and who is wrong….If you follow the Roman Catholic Church or some other variation on the theme or you follow the Church of ‘Atheism’ and worship the prophet Dawkins I couldn’t really care a monkeys but when you start making stupid statements like ‘there is no god’

    so he has a view.

    Obviously, this view has been challenged in the past and he is fed up with it. Anyone who is stupid enough to worship at the alter of atheism is a troll and has no argument that can be worthy, Painter’s law so dictates.

  25. Rey Fox says

    I don’t really care about the truth, but if you impugn the existence of God or the infallibility of the glorious Catholic church, then I’m gonna ignore the first half of that sentence.

  26. Sastra says

    Serendipitydawg #32 wrote:

    I really like militant apathy as a term, but this isn’t it.

    Well, militant apathy might be characterized by the statement “I don’t care about this issue — and neither should anyone else!” Stop talking about who is right and who is wrong; stop being passionate; stop trying to get people to change their minds –stop acting as if this issue is resolvable and it matters one way or the other. It’s not and it doesn’t.

    It looks to me as if Painter is combining a bit of militant apathy with a bit of kibitzing: “you guys are so stupid to care about this debate, but if I cared enough to participate I would do it this way.”

  27. rjohnston says

    I would never say there is no evidence for God. It’s an empirical claim, an inference to the best explanation. Instead, I would say that the evidence for God is very poor — and points to an alternate explanation or explanations.

    Bad evidence is evidence, of a kind.

    Not only is there no evidence, good or bad, for a god; evidence for a god is quite literally impossible. The god concept is far too poorly defined for anyone to be able to distinguish evidence for a god’s existence from non-evidence.

    The question of whether or not gods exist is not a question to be answered in the negative or even answered at all. It’s incoherent gobbledygook, word salad with no meaning that can not be answered. Addressing the question at all is a victory for the theists because it serves as an admission, mistaken though that admission may be, that the question itself makes sense to begin with.

  28. says

    Well, militant apathy might be characterized by the statement “I don’t care about this issue — and neither should anyone else!” Stop talking about who is right and who is wrong; stop being passionate; stop trying to get people to change their minds –stop acting as if this issue is resolvable and it matters one way or the other. It’s not and it doesn’t.

    It looks to me as if Painter is combining a bit of militant apathy with a bit of kibitzing: “you guys are so stupid to care about this debate, but if I cared enough to participate I would do it this way.”

    I’ve certainly run into my share of militant apathists and I’ve called a few exactly that. One trope I like to bring up to describe how they’re making themselves look: Like a cold cartoon villain admonishing the hero, “Your emotions make you weak.”

  29. Naked Bunny with a Whip says

    If I say that I really don’t care about a topic, then I immediately launch into an angry tirade about the topic, I was obviously lying.

    Therefore, Painter’s Law is more accurately defined as “Simon Painter is a liar.”

  30. says

    Here’s the real Painter’s Law that he’s pushing:

    When you paint yourself into a corner, pretend like it’s everyone else who is trapped.

  31. anchor says

    @#33 Sastra: “It looks to me as if Painter is combining a bit of militant apathy with a bit of kibitzing: “you guys are so stupid to care about this debate, but if I cared enough to participate I would do it this way.””

    That’s it exactly. Also, don’t forget, he gets to display his superior plumage. The temptation to express disdain from a lofty position (vis “Tsk tsk..”) is to be satisfied. The gratification of the ego is a primary motivation.

  32. Ichthyic says

    I would never say there is no evidence for God.

    OTOH if you simply added the word “credible” before “evidence”, then it becomes a statement of fact.

  33. Serendipitydawg (Physicists are such a pain sometimes) says

    Sastra,

    It looks to me as if Painter is combining a bit of militant apathy with a bit of kibitzing: “you guys are so stupid to care about this debate, but if I cared enough to participate I would do it this way.”

    I see your point.

    And I like militant apathy even more… so stolen.

  34. Matt Penfold says

    I really like militant apathy as a term, but this isn’t it.

    In the UK, back during the Thatcher reign, a close ally of Thatcher once accused a rival of going around the country stirring up apathy.

  35. says

    Funny that he doesn’t care, yet then takes great pains (and oh his logic is painful) to Paint our atheism as more wrong than the sky-fairyism du jour.

    Methinks he still has a soft spot for the big safety blanket in the sky… and a lot to learn about how not to collect stamps.

  36. Serendipitydawg (Physicists are such a pain sometimes) says

    @Matt Penfold,

    … a close ally of Thatcher once accused a rival of going around the country stirring up apathy.

    They did have a lot of good soundbites, I have often wondered who wrote their material.

  37. StevoR says

    Reminds me of the (apocryphal) time a student was asked to write an essay on the difference between apathy and ignorance and had to be given full marks for answering :

    “I don’t know and I don’t care.”

    A line which pretty well sums up Simon Painter’s contribution to the argument here – except that the second part whilst what he claims is clearly a lie.

  38. StevoR says

    @43. Matt Penfold : 30 December 2011 at 4:07 pm

    In the UK, back during the Thatcher reign, a close ally of Thatcher once accused a rival of going around the country stirring up apathy.

    Sounds like the current Republican race today. So many debates, so many candidates, so little that’s new of interest.

    @12. Serendipitydawg (Physicists are such a pain sometimes) :

    No worries – Cheers. Was drunk and tired then and am getting so again now ..

  39. Vicki says

    Somewhere, I have a pin that says “Militant agnostic: I don’t know and you don’t either.” That’s not my position, but it’s a logically consistent one. On the other hand, “I don’t care and you don’t either!!” is self-refuting.

  40. leonpeyre says

    or you judge an organisation that comforts many by the evils of a few within that organisation then you should probably prepare to be called out on it.

    Seems to me that any organization that comforts the evils of a few of its members deserves stern judgement from anyone with ethics or a sense of justice. Especially if that organization claims to be the very source of morality.

  41. jglos says

    Well, there is the chance this guy’s not a troll. It could simply be that he’s not that bright. If he’s not trolling, and is trying to have an “online debate”, then it would definitely explain why he had to write his “Painter’s law” – he finds that more and more of his debates end with people calling him troll because his limited intellect means his answers, whilst well intentioned, come across as trollish, hence his frustration; the post and an inability to reach any conclusions.

    Someone complains(Here http://www.simonpainter.com/2011/12/i-am-a-militant-agnostic-apparently-via-bigdavesb/): “This is the crux – you have never taken the time to ask why I (and others) hold certain positions, only to troll me out of hand and not to deal with why I hold the opinions that I do.”

    This is dismissed as “Logically irrelevant.”

    You see, maybe he’s not a troll, he just has the intelligence of one?

  42. leonpeyre says

    You may be right on that one, jglos. At least you’re–maybe–giving him the benefit of the doubt…