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I get email

You found an odd-shaped rock? You think it looks like a fossilized organ? Don’t send a picture to me: go get some basic education in biology and geology, because I think you look like an idiot.

Yeah, some demented guy just sent me a bunch of photos of a “mineralized brain”. Judge for yourself.

That’s a subset. He also sent me these photos in much higher resolution. Why? Because he’s an ignorant nudnik. These things look nothing like the brain of any creature that has ever existed, unless maybe it’s the lopsided lumpy non-functional excrescence found inside the crania of creationists.

(Also on Sb)

Comments

  1. Martin, heading for geezerhood says

    I didn’t know that Ed “Man as old as coal” Conrad was still around!

  2. says

    But…. what should I do with all the photographs of sidewalk cracks that look like snail trails I’ve been saving to send you, PZ?

  3. Dick the Damned says

    PZ, you haven’t posted the Cre_ti_nist’s text accompanying his ‘fossil’. That must’ve been worth a laugh, surely.

  4. says

    Sorry for sending that, PZ. It just looked so much like–a concretion that I thought it must have been a brain.

    Ha, I do josh.

    What the hell is that, dolomite? A slightly interesting bit of geology. My god, has this person even seen a picture of a brain?

    Glen Davidson

  5. robro says

    oh pshaw. it’s his brain, mineralized by constant church attendance and proof that Christians did not evolve. they’re just dump as dirt, or well, rock, or something. what was the point again?

  6. stonyground says

    Do you have evidence that this guy is a creationist trying to score points? It seems at face value to be an earnest enquiry from someone who has limited knowledge but genuinely wants to learn. If I am wrong then by all means let me know. Otherwise I think it would be a good idea to be less insulting and point the guy toward useful information about how such interesting rock formations come about.

  7. MikeMa says

    What exactly was he hoping for with this submission? A job? A pat on the back? Very odd behavior.

  8. says

    Otherwise I think it would be a good idea to be less insulting and point the guy toward useful information about how such interesting rock formations come about.

    Oh come on, the guy sent the pictures, he surely could find something about calcite, dolomite, or whatever else it might be on the web. Look up how rocks/minerals are formed, something. He needs to learn something about geology, including the fact that mineralized brains almost never are found, and far less commonly outside of the braincase. Oh, and brains look, you know, like brains.

    Less insulting, maybe. But seriously, anyone who can use the internet to send meaningless pictures could pick up some meaning from the web, and ought to do so.

    Glen Davidson

  9. Irene Delse says

    @ neleabels:

    Can’t be sure, but it looks to me like some sort of cave deposit, some form of calcite (calcium carbonate) or gypsum that accumulated when minerals dissolved in underground water precipitate.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speleothem

    If I had to guess, I’d say it’s a piece of “cave popcorn”, a.k.a. “cave coral”, a deposit often found in limestone caves.

  10. stonyground says

    @ Glen Davidson
    Yes it is true that he could have done some research first. But if you don’t even have a clue what it is and you think that it looks like some kind of fossil maybe sending pictures of it to a well known biologist would be the first thing that you thought of. Some people are willfully ignorant and deserve our criticism, I am not sure whether this individual does.

    Since you mentioned the word concretion earlier, I did find this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concretion but having read it I don’t think that it is one.

  11. davek says

    I’m with stonyground on this one. Maybe I’m lacking context but it sounds like someone found something interesting, jumped to an erroneous conclusion, got excited and went to the internet to ask an expert.

    I usually enjoy the unrestrained bashing of ignorance, as the targets usually have no actual interest in learning and are actively trying to prevent others from learning, but this tasted really sour.

  12. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I’m with stonyground on this one. Maybe I’m lacking context but it sounds like someone found something interesting, jumped to an erroneous conclusion, got excited and went to the internet to ask an expert.

    Yeah, sure, hey. Ask a developmental biologist about a potential fossil, instead of, say David Marjanović, who is a paleontologist. I don’t think PZ is overdoing the snark, as it looks like coprolites to me.

  13. jacobfromlost says

    The reason it doesn’t look like the brain of any creature that ever existed on earth is because it is an ALIEN brain. If it isn’t the brain of an earth creature, it obviously must be the brain of an alien creature. Duh.

    (Satire alert, lol.)

  14. mitchelllee says

    It looks like that final missing transitional fossil the Cretinists have always been searching for. And to think, they found it for themselves..

  15. says

    Rudy Ray Moore: “Dolemite is my name and f*ckin’ up (Creationist) muthaf*ckers is my game!”

    or less pugnaciously profane:

    Charlie Brown: “All I got was a rock”

  16. Amphiox says

    This is obviously pareidolia, but before snarking about cauliflower and coprolites, it’s actually a fairly impressive example of pareidolia. Compare the middle photo to these images of real human brains.

    You can actually see a semblance of a pons, medulla, cerebral peduncles, optic chiasm, cerebellum, paired hemispheres, sylvian fissure, temporal and frontal lobes, and insula.

    The relative position of the “frontal” and “temporal” lobes even suggests a primate brain as opposed to any other mammalian brain.

    Of course, there appears to be a third cerebellar lobe, and the gyral pattern is all wrong….

  17. Chris Booth says

    It is a cool rock. At some angles it appears symmetric. All shiny and crystally.

    If it is connected with the thought that they’ve a “gotcha” with a fossilized brain, and therefore a sort of rabbits-in-the-Cambrian thing going, yeah, its that stupid.

    And no, it doesn’t look like a brain. It looks less like a brain than a walnut half looks like a brain.

    If it were a joke, its worth a faint smile.

    If some nine-year-old sent it to the local well-known bio-prof, thinking it was the coolest thing ever, that would be different. If so, hey, kid, cool rock, a good one for the collection pile! But its not a brain. There are lots of field guides that help to identify minerals available, and its waaaaay more fun to ramble with rock-and-mineral guides and learn on the hoof while you’re at it. Orthodox Christmas and old-calendar New Year are coming up, so ask for a rock-hunting guide if you don’t have a birthday soon!

  18. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    What’s with the ad hominems?

    ad hominems doesn’t mean insults. We seem to have had a bunch of folks who don’t understand the concept, and think it just means insulting the person.

  19. stonyground says

    I think that it is still right to give this emailer the benefit of the doubt rather than just heaping on the derision. After reading #23 it is starting to look as though I may be wrong as the terse message hardly looks like an honest and earnest enquiry. I still think that it is wrong to default immedeately to point and laugh mode. Some people really deserve it, some people possibly don’t. Anyway, I’ll stop banging on about it now, I think everyone knows my position now. I think that I’ve made my point etc.

  20. Rey Fox says

    We seem to have had a bunch of folks who don’t understand the concept, and think it just means insulting the person.

    This is what descriptivism gets you. Pretty soon “insult” will be the definition of “ad hominem”.

  21. Rey Fox says

    I still think that it is wrong to default immedeately to point and laugh mode.

    Laughter is educational. If the e-mailer really was honestly inquiring, then maybe this will teach him that next time he should try actually inquiring instead of firing off a textless e-mail like a troglodyte.

  22. says

    Who knows if he was a creationist. PZ just said it might look like a creationist’s brain.

    That said, I don’t agree. To me, it looks like a mashed-up sandwich with a thick coat of white mold on it.

  23. Irene Delse says

    Yeah, e-mailing random pics of purported fossils to a science blogger regardless of said blogger’s field of expertise, and without even giving details about the circumstances of the “discovery” and without first browsing a few geology or palaeontology websites, or showing it to the local museum… Not very useful.

    And it generally turns out to be nothing more than pareidolia.

    I have a friend who studied palaeontology and blogs sometimes about it, who received one day an excited email asking her what she thought of a new prehistoric human representation allegedly found by her correspondent, something akin to the Palaeolithic “Venus” statuettes. I saw the photos: it was an oblong piece of stone with no resemblance whatsoever to a human form, much less a female one. And there were obvious traces of water erosion that gave it vague contours. This blogger tried to gently disillusion the sender, but he wouldn’t believe her.

    So, we can’t fault amateurs for not knowing stuff… except when they pretend to know more than people who had training in the subject!

  24. jacobfromlost says

    I would think that if genuine inquiry was the purpose of email, perhaps the picture would be accompanied by the question, “What is this?” or, “Is this anything extraordinary? I thought it looked odd.”

    If you send a picture to an expert and declare, “Mineralized Brains!” (with an explamation point, no less), it doesn’t seem you are actually ASKING anything, but rather trying to suggest you are more of an expert than the expert–which is a bit obnoxious.

  25. colluvial says

    @ #19 Irene Delse: I’m also a supporter of the cave formation hypothesis. Unfortunately, that could make it a product of cave vandalism – the dark rock possibly being a piece of the cave wall from which the formation was broken.

  26. Celeste says

    Thanks for the clarification, PZ. I sided with stonyground and davek too, until I read that. It sounds like pure arrogant ignorance indeed.

  27. Sili says

    I’m no expert, but I play one on the Internet, and it is my expert opinion, that not only is that a brain, it is in fact the perfectly fossilised brain of a Hallettestoneion seazoria dragon.

  28. Chris Booth says

    When I was about nine, I found a bird’s nest with eggs in it. Cool!
    I brought it home and asked Daddy (economist) what kind if bird’s eggs they were. He told me Grandfather (biologist) was coming to visit in a few days, and I should ask him.
    I accepted that and waited. I was worried because it was days or a week or more to wait, and I was afraid the eggs would stink or be found by critters in the garage and eaten, or something. But I waited.
    Grandfather arrived, and impatiently I brought in the nest immediately, as kids are wont to do when elderly grandparents arrive still tired from a long trip.
    Alas, there were two problems. Grandfather was getting on…and he had worked on fungi. Fairy circles had been his thing.
    He looked in the nest, took out a fragile egg with age-palsied fingers–and shploook, the yellow gooey contents arced across the room. In the embarrassed moment after, he sat frozen, a messy crushed egg in his hands. I, of course, was stricken. My eggs! My beautiful eggs-in-a-nest! He reached for another egg, and I protested, but my father shushed me.
    Yup. Shploook.
    Crushed egg two, my mother–his daughter–trying to help clean his hands and clean the floor and keep me from causing further awkwardness. I was quickly sent out with the –ahem– egg(no-longer-plural) in a nest, and put it far out of sight in the garage.
    Grandfather had no idea what kind of bird had laid the egg, anyway. In retrospect, I suppose that he could have told me wonderful things about fungal life-cycles. But birds? Nah. Not his field.
    So, the moral of the story is: Yes, it really does make sense to ask the right person or look it up, even if you are a kid.

  29. captainchaos says

    @Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls, @Rey Fox:

    ad hominems doesn’t mean insults. We seem to have had a bunch of folks who don’t understand the concept, and think it just means insulting the person.

    This is what descriptivism gets you. Pretty soon “insult” will be the definition of “ad hominem”.

    You appear to be the ones who don’t know what an ad hominem is. An ad hominem is a personal attack on your opponent, instead of his argument.

    I have no problem with PZ making fun of the email, but PZ called the emailer a “demented guy” and an “ignorant nudnik”. These are baseless and unwarranted attacks on the sender’s personality. They are text book examples of ad hominems, and they are beneath PZ.

    PZ has no evidence that the sender is either “demented” or “ignorant”, especially since there was apparently no text in the email (see comment 23). The conclusions people are drawing about the motivation and intention of the sender are complete fantasies.

    I thinks it’s extremely likely that the email was meant to be a joke. It does look, in fact, a little like a brain.

  30. Chris Booth says

    Otrame @ #44: Thank you. That is an excellent technical acronym, up there with LGM and LRC.

  31. DonDueed says

    I think we ought to sew the sucker into some dead criminal’s skull, hook it up to a lightning rod, and see what happens.

    (That’s FRONKensteen!)

  32. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    These are baseless and unwarranted attacks on the sender’s personality. They are text book examples of ad hominems, and they are beneath PZ.

    No, they are just insults. Stupid guy acting stupid, like you are. That is not ad hominen. Learn the difference between saying the guy acted stupid and should have kept his mouth shut, compared to because he is stupid, nothing he says can be taken at face value (from first reading). Confirmed liars can be dismissed as lairs and it isn’t ad hominem.

  33. David Marjanović says

    Yeah, sure, hey. Ask a developmental biologist about a potential fossil, instead of, say David Marjanović, who is a paleontologist.

    …erm.

    You seriously overestimate how famous I am.

  34. otrame says

    Before I retired, they always used to send the people with “fossilized” whatever to me. This is limestone country so we got a lot of them. I guess they asked me to do it because I never actually laughed out loud. Saw some great rocks. My favorite story is the guy who brought me a “fossilized head”. This was in my early days, before I realized that if they say “bone” without a qualifier, they always meant “human bone”. I told him it probably wasn’t, but he brought it in anyway. It was just a limestone cobble with some holes in it–very very common in any of the creek beds around here. This one had holes in places that very roughly corresponded to eye and nasal openings. It also had a fold in the limestone that turned it into a smiley face. I admit I very nearly did laugh out loud at that one. I told him it was a rock as kindly as I could and he left thinking I was either an idiot or a liar.

    My second favorite story is the guy that brought me a “baboon effigy”. On the phone I mentioned that baboons were African monkeys and the local Native Americans wouldn’t ever have seen one. He said, “But wasn’t North America joined to Africa at one point?” He brought it in. It was the coolest thing I ever saw. It was a small chert cobble (the stone the Native Americans made stone tools from) that had been tested (i.e. chunks knocked off). Since there were a bunch of crystals in it that would have made it useless for making tools, it had been discarded. The thing is, it looked exactly like a head of a male baboon. even the variations in the color of the chert added to the illusion. Very, very cool.

  35. otrame says

    Chris Booth: Yes, we had a number of those. A very commonly used one was AFR: Another Fucking Rock.

  36. otrame says

    Oh, and one more thing. That rock looks a lot like the kind of stuff you see around springs around here along the Balcones Escarpment in San Antonio. Calcium carbonate deposits. They can be very pretty. It might also be, as someone upthread mentioned, a cave deposit.

  37. walterpassen says

    Wow, PZ, you probably just ruined the day of some poor kid who found a neat rock.

  38. drxym says

    Sounds like Ed Conrad, uber kook. Famous for “man as old as coal” kookery which he has been peddling for decades. He found a bunch of rocks which he was convinced where human remains and has ignored all reason up to and including microscopic analysis of his rocks that should convince any reasonable and sane person otherwise.

  39. davek says

    So…both you and excited e-mailer think a biologist is an expert on fossils?

    I didn’t assert that PZ is an expert at fossils, but that the person who sent the email may have thought so.

    On the other hand, PZ has made postings here several times, and recently too, weighing in on interpretations of fossils, so he does claim to have some expertise on fossils (and which I don’t have reason to doubt).

    For shame.

    Really? Why not “Have you no sense of decency?” or “Oh, the humanity!”?

  40. shouldbeworking says

    Otrame, when I was a geologist working in the arctic, we referred to that rock type as leverite* whenever one of the rookie bush rts found something of great economic or geological importance.

    * as in leave her right there

  41. says

    I get sent photos (and occasionally the actual specimens) of odd rocks all the time, with people claiming they are dinosaur eggs, or heads, or whatever.

    Nothing beats direct physical observation. For example, I can’t say if the grainy mass is silica sand or a carbonate infilling. There is a slight non-zero chance this is a steinkern (internal mold) of a gastropod (snail). It *seems* to show dextral coiling, which is vastly more common than sinistral coiling in gastropods. If it is an internal mold, though, there were some considerable growth after dissolution of the original shell: most steinkerns are much more faithful internal duplicates of the shell they formed in.

    Additionally, I’d like to know what the dark matrix is.

    Too many people like to pick up fossils (and pseudofossils) as if they were just nice looking objects, and do not note (nor record) the geological context of the specimen.

  42. David Marjanović says

    These are baseless and unwarranted attacks on the sender’s personality. They are text book examples of ad hominems

    Complete nonsense. They’re just insults.

    Had PZ said “the sender is already known to be a demented guy and ignorant nudnik, and therefore what he writes this time is wrong, too”, that would have been an argumentum ad hominem. It’s the opposite of what PZ did.

    I thinks it’s extremely likely that the email was meant to be a joke.

    I really don’t think so. Excited laypeople getting pareidolia, seeing familiar shapes in stones, declaring the stones to be fossils, and writing to the nearest scientist about their exciting discovery happens all the time.

    I agree, therefore, that PZ was too hard on the sender, even though I fully agree with his diagnosis of ignorance ( = lack of knowledge). However, he did not commit any argumenta ad hominem.

  43. says

    And on the off-chance somebody comes across one, you CAN actually get internal molds of the brain cases (natural endocasts) of vertebrates. Sand or silt fills in the brain cavity after burial and lithifies. If the skull itself breaks away, you are left with a stony duplicate of the original brain cavity. That would *not* be a “mineralized brain” however: it would be sedimentary rock filling in the space once occupied by living tissue.

    In any case, whatever this mass is, it is almost certainly NOT the endocast of anything!

  44. Amphiox says

    You appear to be the ones who don’t know what an ad hominem is. An ad hominem is a personal attack on your opponent, instead of his argument.

    And Dunning-Kruger strikes again!

    No, an ad hominem is NOT a personal attack on your opponent, it is an attack on your opponent’s argument by using an irrelevant factoid about the maker of the argument. It is basically “shoot the messenger”, discreditation by misdirection. But the attack is on the argument.

    Ad hominem shares NOTHING in structure, mechanism, or intent with insults.

    It DOESN’T even have to be an insult.

    “X says Y is not a jerk, but X is the nicest person I know, who thinks the best of everyone, and therefore Y really is a jerk,” is an ad hominem.

    They are text book examples of ad hominems, and they are beneath PZ.

    Only in very, very, very poor textbooks.

  45. McCthulhu's new upbeat 2012 nym. says

    Could have been worse. He could have sent that postcard from Utah with the pic of a rock that looks like a giant wang and said it was proof of giants. Which would automatically open up the comedy routine of how some of the biggest pricks come from there.

  46. Amphiox says

    IIRC, the “petrified brain” is actually an established, already much used, YEC meme.

    Previous dishonest kooks have circulated pictures of “mineralized” supposed human brains along with “hurr, hurr! Look at this! Therefore YEC!”.

    So for something like this to get e-mailed to PZ, known godless liberal evolutionist mouthpiece, with no explanatory text, and basically what can be interpreted as a “gotcha” subject line, well, it’s not surprising if PZ’s creationist moron alarm bells were automatically tripped.

    Though for the life of me I’ve never understood why. IF these things really are mineralized brains, not only are they proof that the earth is older than 6000 years (as it takes longer than 6000 years for this kind of mineralization to take place), but they would also be FANTASTIC transitional forms demonstrating brain evolution.

    And if they are “just” minerals, well, such mineral depositions ALSO take much longer than 6000 years to form.

    It’s as if they think every scientific mystery that isn’t fully explained automatically equals god. Sure a mineralized brain that preserves this much structural detail would be hard (though not impossible) for taphonomy to fully explain, but its very existence, explained or not, takes your bibble and shreds it six ways to Sunday (the seventh way rested).

    And if it really was a mineralized primate brain, evolutionary biologists, primatologists and paleontologists, would drooling, DROOLING, with excitement over it….

  47. Jim says

    PZ,

    You have given no evidence that this guy is nothing more than an overenthusiastic amateur. From your post, there is no evidence that this guy is making a religious or anti science statement.

    All I get is that someone was excited about finding something that might be a fossil, he sent it to someone he considers an expert, and is probably hurt that he is being ridiculed.

    PZ, that makes you an asshole and a bully.

    All you had to do was thank him for his interest in your opinion, tell him that it is not a fossil, and make some book recommendations to hone his skill.

    Instead, you (a Ph D in biology) wanted to feel superior to an amateur and publicly ridicule him. I would have thought as an educator–you know, those people who are supposed to impart knowledge and encourage others to be interested in knowledge–that you would have seen this as an opportunity to further along someone’s education.

    Rather than being an educator, you played a victim. Poor me, poor me, I put myself in the public eye and someone wants my opinion. Poor me. Poor me. I hear enough of that from christians. Didn’t think I’d see that kind of bullshit victimization here.

    My new new year’s resolution: to avoid assholes and their blogs.

    By the way, did I make the point that publicly ridiculing someone for just being ignorant makes you an asshole.

  48. Chris Booth says

    captainchaos in # 45, you are actually wrong in your application of the term ad hominem. PZ was not saying that the poster was stupid and for that reason should be disregarded in some other unrelated position. He was, in fact, pointing out that the post was ignorant and intellectually lazy, and extrapolated therefrom. That’s not an ad hominem. For example, Forrest Gump’s “stupid is as stupid does” is not an ad hominem. But when Basil Fawlty says “Pay no attention to him, he is from Barcelona”, that is an ad hominem.

  49. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    PZ, that makes you an asshole and a bully.

    As does your attempt to criticize PZ. Anybody who can’t see the gottcha! nature of the rocks isn’t paying attention to what is important, the rocks, not PZ’s response.

    Instead, you (a Ph D in biology) wanted to feel superior to an amateur and publicly ridicule him.

    Yes, why would a person send rocks to a biologist rather than a geologist or paleontologist if they aren’t playing the gottcha! card? Context, you have none, but see yourself victimized.

    Rather than being an educator, you played a victim.

    PZ wasn’t the victim of a fuckwitted idjit playing a gottcha! card? Why aren’t you seeing that, or showing evidence to the contrary? You must the Jim who thinks intelligent design actually exists…after Behe was shown to be a liar and bullshitter in both court and in the peer reviewed scientific literature.

    My new new year’s resolution: to avoid assholes and their blogs.

    Now, if we could only avoid egotistical asshats like you and your ilk by them not playing the gottcha! games and posting fuckwittery here.

    By the way, did I make the point that publicly ridiculing someone for just being ignorant makes you an asshole.

    You made no point other than you are an asshole Jim. Typical ignorant post from Jim the IDiot, all style and whining and not one iota of substance and evidence.

  50. Amphiox says

    In any case, whatever this mass is, it is almost certainly NOT the endocast of anything!

    It would be almost impossible for an endocast to look so much like a “real” brain, as this one does, with such deep fissures between the “lobes”, and apparent distinct separation between the brainstem and cerebrum, since endocasts take the shape of the inside of the skull they fill, and these kinds of anatomical features of brains do not have any corresponding skull features from which the endocast can be cast. Even an endocast of the inside of the dura would not be able to look like this.

  51. Andy Groves says

    I went back and had a look at your webpage from 15 years ago (this was way before Pharyngula, kiddies….):

    http://homepage.mac.com/myers/misc/bone.html

    When did you last hear from Ed Conrad? Is he still around? Before I dropped out of talk.origins, I seem to recall him threatening to sue me and about 25 other posters……

  52. Amphiox says

    My new new year’s resolution: to avoid assholes and their blogs.

    And here you are, on Jan 1, 2:12pm, fully more than half a day into the new year, barfing up your pitiful, failed facsimile of coherent thought.

    Pathetic hypocrite.

  53. Chris Booth says

    Jim in # 65:

    “You have given no evidence that this guy is”…anything more than a Creationist troll. Or a crank. PZ gets a lot of those, too.

    What you “get from” the email is unsupported. An enthusiast sends a message with the pictures. Along the lines of “look what I found! Is this a fossilized brain?” A troll sends a smug gotcha with a statement. An enthusiast gushes. “Dere Mr. Pharyngala, i fownd a fosil. i am six yeres old and i Like dinosors. Thank you. Timmy ps i like yor beerd”

    And look in the mirror. Your post was exactly what you projected onto PZ.

  54. says

    My new new year’s resolution: to avoid assholes and their blogs.

    If that’s how you’re characterizing P.Z. and this blog, congratulations. Your resolution lasted over half a day. Such discipline is truly praiseworthy.
    So how much weight have you gained today, like eight pounds?

  55. says

    I got a feeble burst of email from Conrad maybe 5 or 6 years ago…it wasn’t much. He’s still got his website that hasn’t changed an iota in ten years.

    And sorry everyone, but didn’t you get the message? I’m mean. Really mean. And I have no patience for an “enthusiast” who sees a lumpy rock, leaps to the conclusion it’s a fossilized brain, and doesn’t even bother to glance at what real brains look like. The fact that he has many specimens with this same blobby shape, all different, tells me he also hasn’t thought at all about what he’s found.

  56. Irene Delse says

    Heh. I can picture PZ answering enthusiast little Timmy with a grumpy: “Don’t twitch the beard of a biologist, kiddo, they are mean and like to eat children.” Wouldn’t deter Timmy, though. His favourite characters in fairy tales are probably the dragons and ogres and wolves!

  57. jefferylanam says

    If this person really wanted to find out what these rocks were, he should have included some information about where he found them, e.g. a cave in southern Indiana or a streambed in Tennessee.

  58. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    PZ:

    I’m mean.

    Pfffft. If by “mean”, you meant “a cuddly teddy bear”, then sure.

  59. varys says

    Wow, PZ, you probably just ruined the day of some poor kid who found a neat rock.

    The thought of this amuses me, compounded by what looks like a cartoon dinosaur in the top-right of the third picture.

  60. says

    Wow, PZ, you probably just ruined the day of some poor kid who found a neat rock.

    I imagine little Timmy is out in the back yard right now eating worms.
    Soon he will drop out of school; where once he dreamed of adding to the great store of mankind’s knowledge, now he only hopes to get a job at the car wash. The unfortunate nickname “Rock Brain” follows him wherever he goes, until finally, he dies at 23 face down in the ditch where he unearthed the rocks.
    Decades go by before scientists, terrified of the truth as always, realize that he was right all along. In fact, he has found the holy grail of all the sciences: the Secret Brain Burial Grounds. But it’s far too late to save little Timmy.

  61. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Looks like it’s tone troll day… Must be the new year.

    Amen.

  62. andyo says

    @Stonyground – agreed.I was gonna say a similar thing, but then I read the first few goddamn posts of the goddamn thread.

    I don’t care if it’s a creationist or not, the way s/he send that email without saying even hello is absolutely lacking in netiquette and deserves ridicule. Only thing worse would have been if he’d sent the pictures in PowerPoint.

  63. Tethys says

    It looks very much like a speleothem doing it’s best impression of cauliflower. I think I would classify it as flowstone rather than popcorn. I don’t see any crystalline structure, but I do see flow patterns.

    Claiming it’s a mineralized brain? The e-mailer has earned derision for making such an ignorant statement.

  64. MetzO'Magic says

    Ah, c’mon folks. Does your local Chinese takeaway not have prawns that look exactly like that? In fact, they may have been around in that exact form for millions of years as well :-)

  65. janine says

    Instead, you (a Ph D in biology) wanted to feel superior to an amateur and publicly ridicule him.

    Jim, if PZ wanted to publicly ridicule amateurs, he could easily go after people like me as well as the other regulars who have to training in any of the scientific fields. I am sure that I have made statements about biology that made PZ (And Glen Davidson and the other biologists who hang out here.) roll his eyes.

    If anyone was being as asshole, I would say that it was the person who sent the photos. It smacks of “Hey, smart guy! Explain this!”.

    Jim, I would also guess that you thought that PZ was an asshole long before he made this post. Shove a “crystallized brain” up your ass before you flounce.

  66. DLC says

    Looks nothing like anybody’s brain to me.
    And of course PZ is Mean . . . He hates Jesus too!
    He’s so Angry with God that he has to blow off steam somehow!

    Or :
    He’s posessed by the Devils. !!1!!

    Or : a dim bulb who ate up his time to no good purpose got dismissed.

  67. Happiestsadist says

    janine @#93: Seriously. If he were all about ridiculing amateurs, someone like me with a my arts degree would be a far more accessible target.

    He is about ridiculing unpleasant stupid people, though, which I rather enjoy.

  68. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    NOT Michigan!

    Take the mitten away, how are we Michiganders to explain the shape of our state, as we use both left and right hands?

  69. McCthulhu's new upbeat 2012 nym. says

    markbee @83: I had this mental image of Eric Idle and John Cleese doing the entire “Arguments” routine and then poor Eric walking through a door marked “Pharyngula” at the end of the bit and getting arguments AND abuse.

  70. PopeCoyote says

    I’ve taught geology for over 30 years at a community college. I see things like this very often. People bring things in because I’m a “perfesser” – if I wasn’t there, I’m sure they would have taken it to the biologists. I’ve had fossil potatoes, turtles, dragonflies, and all sorts of things. Since I deal with them face to face, I try to be tactful and explain what it appears to be – much easier with the sample in hand than in a photo. Almost always the response is … “er…okay…do YOU want it?” And often I do keep them as examples of pseudofossils. This person may have looked on the web and found creationist sites that confirmed what they wanted to believe. There are enough of them out there. Or they might have just been sticking it to PZ as an “evilooshunist”. Hard to say. But with the volume of material he wades through each day, it’s not like me seeing one every 18 months or so. I don’t blame him for being “rude” with the lack of questions or background.

    Hard to say what it is – likely some sort of geode/concretion. It looks like the original mass was roughly spherical and the “brain” was in the interior made of crystalline material and the exterior was the surrounding matrix. To an untrained eye, I’m sure it does look rather “brainish”. So many of these begin as a fossil shell that has been modified by mineral growth so the “snail” idea might be possible as well. I think it’s another one I would have kept if the original owner didn’t want it. Every sedimentary rock tells a story.

  71. carlie says

    Sure, it might have been a legitimate question. However:

    1. Education is a good thing. Try to find out information yourself first, in a way that doesn’t involve simply asking someone else for the answer.

    2. Consider that a really prominent person online who also holds down a separate day job might not have a lot of spare time to answer every question that people might think to ask him.

    3. Especially consider #2 in light of the fact that your question is nowhere near his area of expertise.

    4. If you do, after pondering points 1-3, think that the best way to find out an answer is to ask said prominent online person, be sure to include in your question evidence that you’ve tried to find the answer yourself and that you realize that it’s a huge favor to ask. And it would help if your question was something you think said online person would be themselves interested in.

  72. lijdare says

    Looks like a chalcedony geode we find in south central Indiana. Although it does have a somewhat odd shape. But then however the vug was shaped.

  73. ibbica says

    To be fair, with the right angle and a bit of better staging this thing does rather look like it might make a potential cover for… what’s that neuroscience journal that puts photos of “things that aren’t brains but look a lot like brains” on the cover? (Damn, but it’s been a long time since I’ve actually held a physical journal in my hands…)

    On that note, I’ve sent similar photos to my colleagues, too, with the same sort of brief subject line, as an inside joke that’s good for a chuckle. Some carry the deeper meaning that as scientists we should be wary of assuming we know what we’re looking at (I’m looking at you, newbie histologists and immunohistochemists!). Unfortunately, misunderstandings can happen when someone outside the original target group gets a hold of such a message and starts claiming “Neuroscientist confirms trees are brains!” or some such nonsense.

    Granted, there’s no way to tell at present whether the original sender of this message to PZ was a victim of a ruse, someone who thought it was amusing, an ignorant someone mistaking what they saw, severely demented, or anything else. I typically give folks like this the benefit of the doubt and write it off as a lark… But given the sort of garbage that can appear in the inboxes of more “public” scientists than I, I can certainly understand PZ’s reaction.

    Now, seriously: anyone know the name of that journal…?

  74. 'Tis Himself, OM. says

    Now, seriously: anyone know the name of that journal…?

    If it’s any help, I can assure you it isn’t Econometrica, American Economic Review or Quarterly Journal of Economics.

  75. idawho says

    On the subject of “Ad Hominem”

    Here is an example of an “Ad Hominem” /argument/:

    A) Dude1 is a nudnik idiot
    B) Dude1 is ignorant
    C) Dude1 says Rock1 is a fossilized brain
    D) Rock1 is not fossilized brain

    Here is an example of an “Ad Hominem” /statement/:

    Γ) Dude1 is an ignorant nudnik idiot

  76. Ubi Dubium says

    I’m seeing coral. Can we get him to send us a picture of a cross-section? Or even better, a thin slice of it nicely backlit. That might be a lot more useful, or at least pretty.

  77. carolw says

    I found a rock once that looked like a finger, nail and all, but I didn’t send photos of it to anyone. I said, “ooh, weird rock, it looks like a finger” and stuck it in a box. Maybe I could make up a good backstory for it and sell it on eBay.

  78. shouldbeworking says

    Yeah, it could be the finger of the carpenter who sawed the timbers to make the cross! It’s a holey relic. People will pay to see it. Nice to know your retirement fund is going to be full.

  79. says

    @#108: not coral (scleractinian, tabulate, or rugosan), or if it is it has been extraordinarily recrystallized. The surface appears to lack any calyces (the little “seats” that the polyps sat in).

  80. militaryhistorian says

    Over the years I have had the pleasure and honor of knowing a fair number of well regarded academicians, and none of them would ever consider publicly humiliating someone for asking what they would rightly consider to be a very stupid question.

    Viewed in this light, the unbridled petulance of Dr. Meyers’ reaction to what appears to be an innocent request for information is quite disturbing.

  81. hotshoe says

    Viewed in this light, the unbridled petulance of Dr. Meyers’ reaction to what appears to be an innocent request for information is quite disturbing.

    Fuck off, precious.

  82. says

    And if it really did appear to be an innocent request for information, you might have a point, but since it really does NOT appear so, you don’t.

  83. militaryhistorian says

    hotshoe says: Fuck off, precious.

    This is hardly the response of a person devoted to Free Thought.

    As a life-long, free thinking atheist I have noted a tendency among human beings to create and follow cults of personality which in themselves are not unlike religion in the attachment of unreasoning fealty to a particular individual. When someone has the temerity to disagree with the actions (edicts, examples of behavior, attitudes, intolerance etc.) of their particular “leader” they react in a blind, unreasoning fashion similar to that above.

  84. Rey Fox says

    what appears to be an innocent request for information

    It ain’t. It’s a creationist “gotcha”. Unless you can point to what part of “Mineralized brain!” is a request for information.

  85. militaryhistorian says

    myeck waters says: And if it really did appear to be an innocent request for information, you might have a point, but since it really does NOT appear so, you don’t.

    On occasion I receive email requests for information that are naive and uninformed in the extreme. Only rarely do I refuse to respond to these requests, and even then there must be some clear basis for my refusal.

    Is there an overt link to creationism or some other irrational motivation exhibited in the available information?

  86. militaryhistorian says

    Rey Fox says: what appears to be an innocent request for information It ain’t. It’s a creationist “gotcha”. Unless you can point to what part of “Mineralized brain!” is a request for information.

    The words “Mineralized brain” do not in themselves reveal the requestor’s true intent. A more reasoned approach would be for the recipient to reply with a request for more information before rendering judgment on the correspondent’s motive.

  87. militaryhistorian says

    Irene Delse says: Dr. Meyers Ah, well. ‘Nuff said.

    Your comment brings to mind a disturbing possibility.

    You believe Dr. Meyers is infallible. I dare say he is not, nor is anyone including the Pope. History tells us that unquestioned, unthinking loyalty to the utterances of any opinion leader requires a certain suspension of reason. This type of behavior is never a good thing, and it invariably undermines the very foundations of Reason and Free Thought. ‘Nuff said.

  88. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Irene Delse says: Dr. Meyers Ah, well. ‘Nuff said.

    Your comment brings to mind a disturbing possibility.

    You believe Dr. Meyers is infallible. I dare say he is not, nor is anyone including the Pope. History tells us that unquestioned, unthinking loyalty to the utterances of any opinion leader requires a certain suspension of reason. This type of behavior is never a good thing, and it invariably undermines the very foundations of Reason and Free Thought. ‘Nuff said.

    Good grief you’re an idiot.

    His name is spelled Myers, hence the comment.

  89. says

    militaryhistorian #119

    On occasion I receive email requests for information that are naive and uninformed in the extreme.

    Yes, but you’re not a biology professor from an obscure college in a podunk town who has a high profile on the internet primarily due to his activities promoting atheism and evolution, and thus is regularly targeted as being a BMB (big meany butt) by creationists.

    How often do you get obvious creationist “gotchas” in your email? I bet if you get any at all, it’s a tiny fraction of the number Myers gets.

  90. militaryhistorian says

    Rev. BigDumbChimp says: Rev. BigDumbChimp says: Good grief you’re an idiot. His name is spelled Myers, hence the comment.

    Unfounded and unreasoned claims regarding my intellect aside, I offer my sincere apologies to the good doctor for misspelling his name.

  91. militaryhistorian says

    myeck waters says: Yes, but you’re not a biology professor from an obscure college in a podunk town who has a high profile on the internet primarily due to his activities promoting atheism and evolution, and thus is regularly targeted as being a BMB (big meany butt) by creationists.

    How often do you get obvious creationist “gotchas” in your email? I bet if you get any at all, it’s a tiny fraction of the number Myers gets

    I do not doubt that Dr. Myers’ incoming correspondence includes messages from those who disagree with his positions regarding the existence of a deity and his/her/its role in creation. This, however, is not relevant to my arguments. Conversely, your ham-handed apologia is. In fact, it serves to support my earlier comments regarding cults of personality.

    On a related note, your description of Dr. Myers’ work place as “obscure” does little justice to his decision to teach there, or the academic contributions made by he and other denizens of this particular institution of higher education. You would, I think, be surprised at the high levels of research conducted at what the uninitiated among us might consider to be “obscure” colleges and universities.

  92. hotshoe says

    hotshoe says: Fuck off, precious.

    This is hardly the response of a person devoted to Free Thought.

    Aww, you really are dumb, aren’t you, precious. It would hardly be “Free Thought” if I were forbidden from thinking you are a precious little turd, now, would it.

    In fact, I not only think that, I say it outright. You are a precious little turd. And I have evidence: you don’t know me, but you’re enough of a turd to claim that I’m not “devoted to Free Thought”. More devoted than you are, precious! Because unlike you, I’m aware that the principles of free thought absolutely depend on being able to call bullshit when we see it.

    When someone has the temerity to disagree with the actions (edicts, examples of behavior, attitudes, intolerance etc.) of their particular “leader” they react in a blind, unreasoning fashion similar to that above.

    Hee hee. I’m not reacting to you because you have the “temerity to disagree” with PZ, precious. I’m reacting to you because you’re a smarmy holier-than-thou idiot who deserves to be taken down a peg for your bad manners. You have the temerity to come here and lecture an adult on how he should behave so as to earn your approval? Fuck that underhanded shit, precious.

    You might be used to getting away with that shit elsewhere, where people give you unearned respect, but around here we use some of our “Free Thought” to see through you.

    Unfounded and unreasoned claims regarding my intellect aside, I offer my sincere apologies to the good doctor for misspelling his name.

    Now that you’ve shown that even a poisonous cupcake like you can have some manners and offer a decent apology, it’s time for you to take the smidgen of good will you have earned and go. Get out before you get eaten.

  93. hotshoe says

    Hey, dumbfuck militaryhistorian -
    Learn to blockquote

    This is what your most recent reply should have looked like:

    myeck waters says: Yes, but you’re not a biology professor from an obscure college in a podunk town who has a high profile on the internet primarily due to his activities promoting atheism and evolution, and thus is regularly targeted as being a BMB (big meany butt) by creationists.

    How often do you get obvious creationist “gotchas” in your email? I bet if you get any at all, it’s a tiny fraction of the number Myers gets

    I do not doubt that Dr. Myers’ incoming correspondence includes messages from those who disagree with his positions regarding the existence of a deity and his/her/its role in creation. This, however, is not relevant to my arguments. Conversely, your ham-handed apologia is. In fact, it serves to support my earlier comments regarding cults of personality.

    On a related note, your description of Dr. Myers’ work place as “obscure” does little justice to his decision to teach there, or the academic contributions made by he and other denizens of this particular institution of higher education. You would, I think, be surprised at the high levels of research conducted at what the uninitiated among us might consider to be “obscure” colleges and universities.

    No thanks necessary, no charge for the service.

    I think formatting with blockquotes for clarity in replies is ever so conducive to reasoning and Free Thought. But maybe that’s just our “unquestioned, unthinking loyalty” to the agreed-upon posting conventions of our “infallible opinion leader”. Hee hee.

  94. says

    militaryhistorian #126

    I do not doubt that Dr. Myers’ incoming correspondence includes messages from those who disagree with his positions regarding the existence of a deity and his/her/its role in creation. This, however, is not relevant to my arguments.

    Wrong AGAIN, moron. It is the very heart of the matter.

    Conversely, your ham-handed apologia is. In fact, it serves to support my earlier comments regarding cults of personality.

    What it does is provide yet another opportunity for you do deny facts and obfuscate.

    On a related note, your description of Dr. Myers’ work place as “obscure” does little justice to his decision to teach there, or the academic contributions made by he and other denizens of this particular institution of higher education.

    More pointless blather, once again showing your complete inability to see the fucking point. Jeepers you are dense.

    You would, I think, be surprised at the high levels of research conducted at what the uninitiated among us might consider to be “obscure” colleges and universities.

    Your understanding of what would surprise me is in line with your understanding of everything else, apparently.

  95. hotshoe says

    Just a few more things, cupcake.

    I do not doubt that Dr. Myers’ incoming correspondence includes messages from those who disagree with his positions regarding the existence of a deity and his/her/its role in creation. This, however, is not relevant to my arguments.

    Don’t be more of an idiot than you have to be. Of course PZ’s emails are relevant to your arguments, you fucking idiot. Maybe you’ve received one or two in your life from creationist nutbags, not enough to begin to notice any characteristic signs. But when someone tells you that PZ receives hundreds/thousands of creotard emails, you illogically think that sample size could not be enough to notice the characteristic signs, and you claim that each should be responded to on an individual basis. If they were in my inbox, I would use my rational intelligence to determine which emails fit a pattern of sincere questioning which deserve an answer (or at least deserve the respect of not being mocked, if I can’t answer) and which fit a pattern of tard Gotcha, which deserve all the mocking publicity we can give them. When we tell you plainly that this is exactly what is happening here with PZ’s response, you deny that this email pattern is relevant to your argument about how emails should be answered! How can you be such a stuck-up idiot ?

    Conversely, your ham-handed apologia is. In fact, it serves to support my earlier comments regarding cults of personality.

    Goddamn, for a person who dares come here to lecture us on how we should behave more nicely to strangers, you sure are fucking rude! Ham-handed? Cults of personality? Oh, yeah, that’s a fine demonstration of the polite restraint you demand we exhibit. Well, you first!

    On a related note, your description of Dr. Myers’ work place as “obscure” does little justice to his decision to teach there, or the academic contributions made by he and other denizens of this particular institution of higher education. You would, I think, be surprised at the high levels of research conducted at what the uninitiated among us might consider to be “obscure” colleges and universities.

    Oh ferchrissake, just fuck off already. Fuck you with your “you would be surprised” and “the uninitiated among us”. You are behaving as an unmitigated pompous ass.

    Don’t stick around. It’s not going to get better for you.

  96. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Is there an overt link to creationism or some other irrational motivation exhibited in the available information?

    Cupcake, the gottcha! presentation, sending rocks to a biologist instead of a geologist/paleontologist, the lack of explanation, lack of provence, etc., all speak of typical creationist gottcha! methods. Those of us who have been around here a while recognized that from the first post. Experience in experiencing bullshit.

    Unfounded and unreasoned claims regarding my intellect aside, I offer my sincere apologies to the good doctor for misspelling his name.

    Considering his name is on the masthead and the with the post, why should we accept your apology? I think it was deliberate.

    This, however, is not relevant to my arguments.

    You have no arguments. You a concern troll. Your concern (talking about tone instead of substance), tells us you a likely creobot sympathizer. And not very astute at that. Concern trolls are very good liars, since they often do it for jebus.

    You would, I think, be surprised at the high levels of research conducted at what the uninitiated among us might consider to be “obscure” colleges and universities.

    PZ has published on the development of zebra fish. He does no research on rocks. And this has nothing to do with gottcha nature of the submission, or your snide overly polite tsk-tsking about the obvious. PZ is trying to discourage further submissions. If you feel the poor submitter is maltreated, put up your address here and have him send his next batch of bullshit to you. Essentially, shut up about PZ’s tone and do something to help other than carping.

  97. militaryhistorian says

    Several here have equated my questioning Dr. Myers’ harsh comments about an apparently innocent seeker of information with secreted theism, odious trolling, and subnormal intellect. Their leapfrogging of reason to arrive at these unfounded conclusions beggar the imagination, and seem more in keeping with the vehemence one would expect from a religious group reacting to a perceived slight to their particular religion than the reasoned approach of thoughtful, enlightened people.

    This said, I stand by my previous comments without equivocation.

  98. KG says

    militaryhistorian,

    You’re evidently either utterly dishonest, or a complete lackwit. An “innocent seeker of information” would ask questions, and provide obviously necessary information (the provenance of the object).

  99. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    This said, I stand by my previous comments without equivocation.

    Militaryhistorian, this is a lewd, rewd, and crewd blog. You always have the option of fading into the bandwidth. I suspect you are too dumb to do so…

    an apparently innocent [gottcha!] seeker [bullshit distibutor] of information with secreted theism,

    As evidence by that lie, which I fixed for you, you are just tone trolling. Either you bow to our experience in these matters, or you are nothing but a tone troll. Tone trolls are lower than decomposed doggie do on our shoes, and give no respect. If you want to get respect, earn it by showing real cogency, not just tone trolling. That requires you to acknowledge what happened in real terms. A gottcha! moment.

  100. militaryhistorian says

    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says: Either you bow to our experience in these matters, or you are nothing but a tone troll.

    Bow to your experience?

    And if I do not bow to you, then I am labeled unfit, and cast out?

    Is this not the crux of the church’s argument for obedience to its suzerainty in all things?

    Following a brief consultation with the honorable Tora-naga, the resident high priestess of Ceiling Cat, (All Praise Ceiling Cat!) I find myself advised that your commandments are in strict violation of Reason, and are therefore without merit. It is with this, the highest authority possible, that I ignore your demand for obedience, and continue to think for myself.

    Ceiling Cat Be Praised!!!!!!!

  101. militaryhistorian says

    KG says: You’re evidently either utterly dishonest, or a complete lackwit. An “innocent seeker of information” would ask questions, and provide obviously necessary information (the provenance of the object).

    Then you have read this email, and knowing its contents can attest, categorically, that the author was not seeking information.

    Is this correct?

  102. says

    I have a suspicion there’s a Pharyngula reader out there somewhere looking dejected that PZ chose to call him a tool, rather than make some witty comments about fossilised zombies or creatards or something.

  103. hotshoe says

    Several here have equated my questioning Dr. Myers’ harsh comments about an apparently innocent seeker of information with secreted theism, odious trolling, and subnormal intellect. Their leapfrogging of reason to arrive at these unfounded conclusions beggar the imagination, and seem more in keeping with the vehemence one would expect from a religious group reacting to a perceived slight to their particular religion than the reasoned approach of thoughtful, enlightened people.

    This said, I stand by my previous comments without equivocation.

    Well aren’t you just the most toxic little thing! Brain-eating amoebas got nothin’ on you! When you’re caught displaying worse manners than the supposedly-bad manners you came here to lecture PZ and us about, you just try harder to sicken us with your spew. “unfounded conclusions” “beggar the imagination” “vehemence expect[ed] from religious group” …

    Weren’t you the idiot who came here to tell PZ to keep his opinion to himself so he didn’t hurt some poor tard’s feelings? And now this is the type of language you try to hurt my feelings with ?

    Fuck off and die under your bridge. You’ll make much better compost than you make a simulacrum of humanity, precious.

  104. hotshoe says

    And if I do not bow to you, then I am labeled unfit, and cast out?

    Is this not the crux of the church’s argument for obedience to its suzerainty in all things?

    Following a brief consultation with the honorable Tora-naga, the resident high priestess of Ceiling Cat, (All Praise Ceiling Cat!) I find myself advised that your commandments are in strict violation of Reason, and are therefore without merit. It is with this, the highest authority possible, that I ignore your demand for obedience, and continue to think for myself.

    Is there anyone else who gets the image of masochismhistorian furiously hoggling here ? The more abuse he perceives, the harder he comes …

    Fuck you, hoggler, I’m done with you.

  105. militaryhistorian says

    hotshoe says: Fuck you, hoggler, I’m done with you.

    And not a moment too soon, says I.

  106. militaryhistorian says

    hotshoe says: Well aren’t you just the most toxic little thing! Brain-eating amoebas got nothin’ on you! When you’re caught displaying worse manners than the supposedly-bad manners you came here to lecture PZ and us about, you just try harder to sicken us with your spew. “unfounded conclusions” “beggar the imagination” “vehemence expect[ed] from religious group” …

    Weren’t you the idiot who came here to tell PZ to keep his opinion to himself so he didn’t hurt some poor tard’s feelings? And now this is the type of language you try to hurt my feelings with ?

    Fuck off and die under your bridge. You’ll make much better compost than you make a simulacrum of humanity, precious.

    Your misrepresentation of my comments is akin to the tactics used by theists when they wish to misdirect their listeners/readers from an uncomfortable insight into their belief’s violations of human decency, freedom of thought, and plain old common sense. Well done.

    Any firmly held system of belief (or disbelief) is bound to fall under the control of those who seek power over the thoughts and minds of others. Only those who refuse to surrender their individuality stand between those who seek power over others and the personal freedom of choice to which all human beings have an inalienable right. The army of atheism is strongest when its ranks are filled by resolved free thinkers.

  107. Tethys says

    militaryhistorian sounds an awful lot like gunboat diplomat. Tedious tone trolls do tend to all sound alike.

    Or perhaps MH sent the “mineralized brain!” stupidity to PZ in the first place and is disappointed that no time was wasted doing a scientific takedown, and instead PZ went straight to “look at what some idiot sent me”.

  108. militaryhistorian says

    Tethys says: militaryhistorian sounds an awful lot like gunboat diplomat. Tedious tone trolls do tend to all sound alike.

    Or perhaps MH sent the “mineralized brain!” stupidity to PZ in the first place and is disappointed that no time was wasted doing a scientific takedown, and instead PZ went straight to “look at what some idiot sent me”.

    “What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.” – Christopher Hitchens

    There has been a great deal of assertion on this thread unaccompanied by the requisit evidence. Although the sample size is far too small, it suggests that rational, free thinkers might be in the minority.

  109. Tethys says

    MH

    Perhaps reading the thread before commenting would help you to avoid coming off as such an ass. Although after reading all the bafflegab in your comments I am inclined to think that tedious tone troll is the correct category for you.

    PZ way up at #23

    There was no text. Just the declaration in the subject line, “Mineralized brain!”

    So tell us cupcake, why would anyone think the person who sent this to PZ was actually seeking knowledge?

  110. hotshoe says

    militaryhistorian sounds an awful lot like gunboat diplomat. Tedious tone trolls do tend to all sound alike.

    Not GunboatDiplomat, I think, or he would have found some way to sneak in a little rape-apology. But you’re right, mannerlesshistorian does sound awful familiar. Specific phrases, not just the general tone, but I can’t put my finger on who …

    We could have a contest. First person to guess who he’s a sock puppet of wins one internet.

  111. Tethys says

    Hmmm, militaryhisterian.

    michaelhawkins?

    And now there is a michaelhartwell whinging about how mean and unfair we were in the new years resolution thread.

    Coincidence?

  112. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Hmmm, militaryhisterian.

    michaelhawkins?

    And now there is a michaelhartwell whinging about how mean and unfair we were in the new years resolution thread.

    Coincidence?

    I tawt I smelt a drat.

  113. militaryhistorian says

    While Larry, Curley, and Moe (aka hotshoe, Tethys, and Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls) slap, tickle, and nuk, … nuk, away on their pointless quest, it is important to note that Dr. Myers’ online tantrum about an email with photos of some unidentified substance with only the heading “Fossilized Brain” is problematic.

    Surely there are more important things with which to occupy his mind than lashing out at some anonymous person who may or may not have been trying to bait him into making a fool of himself. Wait,….. planned or not, that was the result. As high-priestess Tora-naga just reminded me, (Thank you TN)Ceiling Cat does not wish for me to try and “fix” other people’s behavior, so I will close with the thought that I am indeed fortunate to possess the wisdom to recognize irrational behavior and the independence of mind to ignore those who seek to justify it. Blind, unthinking followers are just what “Dear Leaders” want and need. And Dr. Myers has more than enough.

    Praise Ceiling Cat!

  114. militaryhistorian says

    Just noticed an insightful comment on Jerry Coyne’s excellent website. The commenter mentioned that she comes to Pharyngula “for the rants.” Now I understand.

    Here’s a world class rant for those who enjoy such things.

  115. militaryhistorian says

    Apparently this old man has not yet mastered the art of linking so the rant link is not there. (I don’t know, perhaps such things are not permitted.)

    For a world class rant search You Tube for one of Hitler’s old speeches to his minions. Now that’s a rant!!!!!

  116. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Unfounded and unreasoned claims regarding my intellect aside, I offer my sincere apologies to the good doctor for misspelling his name.

    It wasn’t just about you misspelling his name, it was your total cluelessness about the comment you went on about.

    And for fuck’s sake, learn how to blockquote.

  117. militaryhistorian says

    Rev. BigDumbChimp says: It wasn’t just about you misspelling his name, it was your total cluelessness about the comment you went on about.

    And for fuck’s sake, learn how to blockquote.

    “For fuck’s sake?” You write like Larry, Curley and Moe. Is this typical of the local minions’ English language skills? If so, I am a stranger in a very strange land.

  118. says

    “For fuck’s sake?” You write like Larry, Curley and Moe. Is this typical of the local minions’ English language skills? If so, I am a stranger in a very strange land.

    For fuck’s sake is grammatically accurate if not polite.

  119. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Surely there are more important things with which to occupy his mind than lashing out at some anonymous person who may or may not have been trying to bait him into making a fool of himself.

    Don’t talk hypocrite. You are futilely and inanely lashing out at PZ fdor no good reason. What a fuckwitted hypocritical loser.

    And why you think we are interested in your tone-trolling opinion is beyond the ken of moral man…

  120. militaryhistorian says

    We Are Ing says: For fuck’s sake is grammatically accurate if not polite.

    You think it is grammatically “accurate” (correct) to use “fuck” as a possessive noun?

    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says: Don’t talk hypocrite.

    The irony that a person who frequents a website that putatively supports free thought and freedom of expression would try so hard to censure and censor someone who expresses a different opinion than his own is so thick it is positively palpable (and risible).

  121. Irene Delse says

    militaryhistorian (without a clue):

    Apparently this old man has not yet mastered the art of linking so the rant link is not there. (I don’t know, perhaps such things are not permitted.)

    At least, you’ve mastered the art of looking down your nose at others on the Internet while revealing that you don’t know how to copy-paste a web address. Congratulations!

    However, feel free to look up the words “reductio ad Hitleri” or “straw man argument” for some world-class advice on how not to debate dishonestly.

  122. janine says

    I wonder if MH would be kind and patient if different people kept sending him “proof” that Nazi Germany made use of UFO technology.

  123. Irene Delse says

    Thetys:

    Hmmm, militaryhisterian.

    michaelhawkins?

    And now there is a michaelhartwell whinging about how mean and unfair we were in the new years resolution thread.

    Coincidence?

    Hmm, I doubt it. “Michael Hawkins” knew how to post links under words and how to use blockquotes. “michaelhartwell” is a more likely candidate, especially since he appeared in the same thread as the other “mh”.

  124. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Rev. BigDumbChimp says: It wasn’t just about you misspelling his name, it was your total cluelessness about the comment you went on about.

    And for fuck’s sake, learn how to blockquote.

    “For fuck’s sake?” You write like Larry, Curley and Moe. Is this typical of the local minions’ English language skills? If so, I am a stranger in a very strange land.

    You still didn’t blockquote when you quoted me.

  125. 'Tis Himself, OM. says

    militaryhistorian,

    Your pompous arrogance is misplaced. Someone who can’t figure out how to do links and blockquotes despite the instructions being right above the comment block should not be sneering at other peoples’ English usage.

    Incidentally, “for fuck’s sake” is grammatical English. If you’re going to be priggish about language skills then pick a proper target.

  126. KG says

    Then you have read this email, and knowing its contents can attest, categorically, that the author was not seeking information.

    Is this correct? – militaryhistorian

    PZ explains @23:

    There was no text. Just the declaration in the subject line, “Mineralized brain!”

    So, either you haven’t bothered to aquaint yourself with the thread before making your stupid comments, or you’re accusing PZ of lying. Which is it?

    Even if you do believe PZ was lying @23, why on earth would you expect everyone else to believe that too?

  127. militaryhistorian says

    Returning to the subject at hand for a brief respite from the lunacy that passes for discussion here; Dr. Myers’ tantrum over something as mundane as an email with a few unexplained photographs does not depict him as a rationally minded person. I just delete emails from Holocaust Deniers, and move on with the work at hand without taking the time to sound off to my loyal minions about it. (Of course, I do not have any minions, loyal or otherwise, and if I did I would dismiss them as too feeble minded to stand on their own intellectual “legs” without me to give them succor and guidance.)

    Speaking of minions, generating sound and fury over unimportant or even nonexistent issues is nothing new. In the Internet age it seems to be an effective tactic for attracting more readers of a certain ilk, thereby increasing the average number of hits over time, which translates into greater advertising revenue. At the very least, it is a form of entertainment which is entirely without substance.

  128. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    The irony that a person who frequents a website that putatively supports free thought and freedom of expression would try so hard to censure and censor someone who expresses a different opinion than his own is so thick it is positively palpable (and risible).

    MH, you offered your inane and ignorant opinion, and it has be rejected. You are either aggressive if you make further posts like the above, or you realize you have had your insipid and passive-aggressive say, and move on. Your choice cupcake…

    Dr. Myers’ MY tantrum over something as mundane as an email with a few unexplained photographs does not depict him ME as a rationally minded person.

    Fixed that for you tone troll. What next, as your opinion is rejected for utter lack of cogence, insipidity, and tone trolling? Deal with that elsewhere, as here you will be given the abuse deserved by those who have no rational argument about the substance, but rather just the tone. I note you still haven’t shown how a rational person would send rocks to a developmental biologist instead of a geologist or paleontologist like any rational and intelligent person would. Hence a gottcha! moment by default, which you tacity acknowledge by the lack of evidence otherwise, just opinion.

  129. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Oh, and MH, Freethought is an old term for non-believer (atheist or possibly deist). Not just free with unsupported ideas, which are rejected, like yours are.

  130. janine says

    I just delete emails from Holocaust Deniers, and move on with the work at hand without taking the time to sound off to my loyal minions about it.

    If only Deborah Lipstadt operated this way.

  131. 'Tis Himself, OM. says

    militaryhistorian #163

    Speaking of minions, generating sound and fury over unimportant or even nonexistent issues is nothing new…At the very least, it is a form of entertainment which is entirely without substance.

    You’re certainly falling into this mode. You’ve been wailing for many posts now about how mean everyone is to poor, lil’ you. This thread had been dead for 18 hours before you popped back in with your post #149. You’re the one who resurrected this thread with your self-pitying whines.

    But now you’re getting boring. It’s time for you to find a new bridge to live under.

  132. militaryhistorian says

    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says: Deal with that elsewhere, as here you will be given the abuse deserved by those who have no rational argument about the substance, but rather just the tone. I note you still haven’t shown how a rational person would send rocks to a developmental biologist instead of a geologist or paleontologist like any rational and intelligent person would. Hence a gottcha! moment by default, which you tacity acknowledge by the lack of evidence otherwise, just opinion.

    I am not required to show how a rational person would “send” rocks to Dr. Myers. You just made this up as a straw man so you would have something to write. Note: it is not very clever.

    How does one “send” rocks via email?

    Your “gottcha … by default” is unpersuasive, at best.

    Hitchens would have had a field day with you, had he bothered to stoop to your level.

  133. says

    Dr. Myers’ tantrum over something as mundane as an email with a few unexplained photographs does not depict him as a rationally minded person. I just delete emails from Holocaust Deniers, and move on with the work at hand without taking the time to sound off to my loyal minions about it.

    However, you will take the time to sound off to those very same “minions” on Dr. Myers’ blog, writing numerous comments and exceeding the wordage and effort of Dr. Myers’ original post by a couple of orders of magnitude.
    “Move on with the work at hand”–you’re doing it wrong.

  134. militaryhistorian says

    ‘Tis Himself, OM. says: You’ve been wailing for many posts now about how mean everyone is to poor, lil’ you. This thread had been dead for 18 hours before you popped back in with your post #149. You’re the one who resurrected this thread with your self-pitying whines.

    Prove your assertion. Provide the number/s for the posts where I have “wailed” or “whined” about “everyone” being mean to me. You can’t, and this proves you are a liar who is no better than those who lie to promote their religious beliefs. Worse perhaps because you profess to be a freethinking, rational person.

    Your prevarications merely demonstrate that all groups, regardless of their position on the liberal – conservative continuum contain those who feel compelled to lie, cheat, or steal to get their way. It is high time the true, rational-minded atheists among us cleanse our house of these, the dregs of humanity.

  135. militaryhistorian says

    feralboy12 says: “Move on with the work at hand”–you’re doing it wrong.

    Your advice is noted and rejected. (I am happily awaiting a delicious cheese burger delivered hot and juicy from my favorite fast-food establishment, and for this reason have no work at hand at this moment.)

  136. 'Tis Himself, OM. says

    I am not required to show how a rational person would “send” rocks to Dr. Myers. You just made this up as a straw man so you would have something to write. Note: it is not very clever.

    You’re whining because the physical rocks weren’t sent but rather pictures were sent? Your stupidity becomes more and more evidence. And before you whine about me calling you stupid, the above statement is Exhibit A in the case showing how stupid you are.

    Your “gottcha … by default” is unpersuasive, at best.

    Wrong, asshole. The original email was pictures of a rock sent without anything more than a two word subject line. The email wasn’t sent to a paleontologist or a geologist, it was sent to an evolutionary development biologist.

    You may be unpersuaded but that’s not because the evidence isn’t persuasive, it’s because you’ve taken a stance here and admitting you were wrong would be too bruising to your fragile ego.

    Hitchens would have had a field day with you, had he bothered to stoop to your level.

    And you know this how, asshole? Are you communicating with the dead? Or are you just pulling an opinion out of your rosy-red rectum?

  137. says

    I almost made a cute punning jibe out of militaryidiot’s ‘nym but it would count as a gendered insult, so I stopped myself JUST IN TIME. I will have to content myself with “militaryidiot”, thought it is weak.

    I must admit I find it pretty funny when idiots like this guy rant on and on and on about how someone else was having a tantrum, It’s almost as if they’re projecting their own seething, impotent rage or something.

  138. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I am not required to show how a rational person would “send” rocks to Dr. Myers.

    No fuckwitted idjit. A rational man would send the rocks to a specialist. Just like you would go to a doctor for medical advise, a mechanic to get your car fixed, and a lawyer about a point of law. The specialists for rocks are geologists, and for fossils paleontologist. Prove otherwise….

    How does one “send” rocks via email?

    How do you post here? By being stupid, inane, and uninsightful.

    Still no evidence presented by you to show it was innocent, and not deliberate, which is what would be expected by a non-hypocrite who espouse “freethinking”….You fail that definition, but match verbatim that for a tone troll…

  139. Tethys says

    Militrollyhistorian #137

    Then you have read this email, and knowing its contents can attest, categorically, that the author was not seeking information.

    Is this correct?

    Hey fuckwit, I showed you PZ’s post stating there was no text in the e-mail. You conveniently ignored it in favor of more bloviating and tree stooges references. So what exactly is your point other than being a really boring troll?

  140. Tethys says

    Oops, here’s that h that belongs in the word three. I’m not quite sure what a tree stooge might be.

  141. says

    It is high time the true, rational-minded atheists among us cleanse our house of these, the dregs of humanity.

    Your words inspire me, and scanning this thread, I discover one of these dregs of which you speak. He calls himself militaryhistorian. Should I clean house now, or give him a chance to wise up and move along?

  142. militaryhistorian says

    Dear Minions:

    The Japanese have a time honored saying which clearly applies to you. Loosely translated it means: The only cure for stupidity is death.

    Since I cannot cure you of your stupidity, I will not try.

    This does not mean I will stop contributing to the comments sections of the various topics that appear here from time to time. I am especially looking forward to Dr. Myers’ next irrational tantrum so I can weigh in with my opinion.

  143. 'Tis Himself, OM. says

    Since I cannot cure you of your stupidity, I will not try.

    Try to cure yourself of your own stupidity, asshole.

  144. militaryhistorian says

    PZ says:
    Your words inspire me, and scanning this thread, I discover one of these dregs of which you speak. He calls himself militaryhistorian. Should I clean house now, or give him a chance to wise up and move along?

    Indeed you do not disappoint. I had an inkling you could dish it out (abuse) in your mean-spirited rants, but could not accept any criticism in return. You have shown yourself for what you are, a small minded man who only wears a false cloak of enlightenment so he can strut, preen, and sound off for his adoring admirers. A Dear Leader in a small pond, nothing more, nothing less.

  145. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Since I cannot cure you of your stupidity, I will not try.

    But we will try to cure you of your stupidity, like your passive-aggressive answer, typical of tone trolls and other vermin. The only rational non-trolling response was “sorry PZ”. Tacitly proving your lack or rationality.

  146. joetelegram says

    In the name of free thought, open discussion, and dialogue, it wouldn’t hurt to be a little nicer to your blog’s participants. This is supposed to be a community of learning and an exchange of ideas, instead it is often a dick swinging contest. Whoever comes up with the most clever insult wins! Whoever uses their war-hammer to split open the most skulls! As the saying goes, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

    Andromeda’s Wake could have nailed PZ to the wall when he displayed PZ’s ignorance of the most elementary astronomical data, instead PZ was invited to learn and participate. We could all take a few pointers from the late Carl Sagan. He empowered people to participate in the scientific process without discrimination.

  147. anteprepro says

    Holy shit. That’s got to be Accomodationist Bingo accomplished in just one post. Well done, Mr. Telegram.