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Oh, no! I was wrong about Vox Day!

The other day, I said that his book, The Irrational Atheist, was self-published. I was wrong. He actually bamboozled a publisher into taking it on.

Day also has some other complaints.

I said it was ridiculous for him to claim that he was cited in scientific publications, when what he was really doing was claiming that people who didn’t cite him at all were actually citing him. It’s bizarre, but he’s doubling down. He claims that Scott Atran was using his ‘data’ about the number of religious wars, which he had to have gotten from his book.

Scott Atran and others are, in fact, citing me, whether they realize it or not. It is very easy to prove it. They are taking it from this Wikipedia page, which took it from a Christian site which took it from TIA. The reason I know this is that the numbers that everyone is citing are not the numbers that appear in the Encylopedia of Wars. As it happens, no such numbers appear in the encyclopedia at all. They are the numbers that I used the encyclopedia to calculate and appeared in The Irrational Atheist.

I rather doubt that Atran was citing either Wikipedia or an encyclopedia. But I went to look anyway. Atran has a grand total of two papers (well, one article and one letter) published in Nature, so it was easy to check — I read them both.

The letter by Atran and Stern is about how terrorists use the web. The only numbers they cite aren’t about the number of holy wars in history, but about suicide attacks and the distribution of jihadis, and they cite primary sources that are not wikipedia or an encyclopedia, much less Vox Day’s book.

Bruce Hoffman, of the RAND Center for Terrorism Risk Management Policy in Washington DC, finds that 81% of suicide attacks since 1968 occurred after the terror attacks of 11 September 2001, with 31 of the 35 groups held responsible being Islamic militants or ‘jihadi’. Independent studies by the Nixon Center think-tank and by former US intelligence officer Marc Sageman (presented to the World Federation of Scientists Permanent Monitoring Panel on Terrorism in Sicily, May 2005) reveal that more than 80% of known jihadis live in diaspora communities, often marginalized from the host society, and in hard-to-penetrate social networks that consist of about 70% friends and 20% family. Seeking a sense of community, these small groups bond as they surf jihadi websites to find direction and purpose. In the past five years alone, jihadi websites have increased in number from fewer than 20 to more than 4,000.

The longer opinion piece, in which Atran is the third author, is about how national responses to terrorism could be profitably modeled after the immune system — being adaptive and flexible. There aren’t any historical data about past wars. Wikipedia and any encyclopedia are not in the references.

I think we can safely lay this one to rest: Vox Day/Theodore Beale is not the source of any data or hypothesis published by Scott Atran in Nature.

I also checked a few other papers by Atran — no sign of any loon-derived numbers in any of them.

But the loon is not done! He claims to have inspired other studies.

It’s a bit ironic that PZ is so intent on claiming that I am not a scientist, when he was the original inspiration for my hypothesis, successfully tested in a study by Boston University scientists, that atheists are not neurotypical and that there is a positive correlation between atheism and autism.

Strange. I am not autistic to any noticeable degree, and have never been diagnosed as such. That makes it odd to claim I am the inspiration for a “hypothesis”.

But I know that paper! Here’s a pdf. Just so you know, it’s not a peer-reviewed, published paper; it’s an undergraduate thesis. It does not claim that atheists are not neurotypical; it says that non-neurotypical people are more likely to be atheists (there’s a significant difference, as I’m sure you can figure out; Vox Day might have problems).

Most importantly, there is no citation of Theodore Beale, or Vox Day, or The Irrational Atheist, or ‘that misogynistic asshole on the internet’. You’d think this would be rather obvious: you don’t get to count it as a citation if you aren’t cited.

And the final damning straw: the much vaunted paper by Hooker that claims a vaccination/autism link, that was promoted by Vox Day, has been retracted. He’s basically wrong about everything.

Except that his book wasn’t self-published. That’s about it.

Comments

  1. Athywren says

    You know… I know it’s a pretty cheap argument, and I know that even thoroughly smashed, melted, and turned into ornamental garden furniture clocks are right once every year or so, but I like that Vox Day exists. It gives us a very quick and easy data point to question the MRA claim that they’re rationalists. “You are? Hmm *point* But this guy agrees with you.”
    Obviously that’s not a world-shattering proof of anything, and it’s entirely possible to reach a correct conclusion by entirely irrational means, but he’s a nice data point.

  2. says

    PZ:

    Except that his book wasn’t self-published. That’s about it.

    See? Now you have totally admitted defeat on all counts.

  3. ragarth says

    You know what step two is going to be, right? Ignore the fact that he’s wrong about everything else and use the fact that you were wrong about one minor point to prove that he’s right about everything he’s wrong about.

  4. robro says

    Autism and atheism!? How crass. But then I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.

    My son is “on the spectrum” somewhere or another, maybe Aspergers whatever that is. He’s definitely non-neurotypical. He’s an atheist, but I didn’t see it in his middle school classmates. His middle school specialized working with these children, and there were quite a few devout Christians among them. There were also quite a few Jewish families, and while I have no idea what they believed, we went to many Bar Mitzvahs and Seders, so at least they maintained the cultural trappings.

    Of course, in these counter examples, the families promoted the religio-cultural tradition of their choice and their “autistic” children more or less went along, like children everywhere. So, perhaps my son is an atheist because I’m an atheist, and his mother doesn’t believe any of that religious stuff (though she does like the music and cathedrals).

    Or perhaps he’s an atheist because he’s capable of evaluating the evidence, thinking it through for himself, and making his own decision. Non-neurotypical people are capable of doing that.

  5. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Except that his book wasn’t self-published. That’s about it.

    Hmm, give VD’s lies, and the $$$ in front of a publisher, what evidence does he show to demonstrate he didn’t pay for his book’s publication?

  6. Ichthyic says

    I was wrong about Vox Day!

    five bucks says that after a month or two, Vox will be quoting this and telling people how wrong his critics were of him, and that they even have admitted it… see!

  7. says

    As it happens, no such numbers appear in the encyclopedia at all. They are the numbers that I used the encyclopedia to calculate and appeared in The Irrational Atheist.

    I love VD’s thought process here. It is absolutely inconceivable to him that someone else could pore through the Encyclopedia of Wars and do some addition. No, they have to be copying him.

    Granted, he’s even wrong about the numbers used, but the preening arrogance implicit in his claim is quite stunning, even for him.

  8. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Granted, he’s even wrong about the numbers used, but the preening arrogance implicit in his claim is quite stunning, even for him.

    But the arrogance is that of an omega male. An alpha male would either cite the peer reviewed evidence, or shut the fuck up….

  9. says

    I mentally picture a contest in which PZ is pissing nicely into the porcelain and VD is pissing all over the place while screaming “LOOKIT ME!!!! MEEEEEEE!!!”

  10. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I mentally picture a contest in which PZ is pissing nicely into the porcelain and VD is pissing all over the place [himself] while screaming “LOOKIT ME!!!! MEEEEEEE!!!”

    Fixed that.

  11. samihawkins says

    Strange. I am not autistic to any noticeable degree, and have never been diagnosed as such. That makes it odd to claim I am the inspiration for a “hypothesis”.

    I’ve noticed in the last few years that among the more jackassier parts of the internet it’s common to claim anyone you don’t like is autistic. It usually goes like this:

    Jackass: *Says jackassy things*

    Non-Jackass: You’re being a jackass.

    Jackass: You’re only saying that because you’re autistic!

    The word has been completely detached from it’s actual meaning and now just gets thrown around as a generic insult.

  12. kosk11348 says

    The word has been completely detached from it’s actual meaning and now just gets thrown around as a generic insult.

    Many right-wingers will give the label “autistic” to anyone they consider socially awkward, and so the stereotype being invoked is that atheists are all lonely loser types. (You know, because atheists like Daniel Radcliffe and Keira Knightley have so much trouble making friends.)

  13. says

    I AM autistic and I’m not lonely or lacking in friends. I have a few issues with interacting with people (can’t make eye contact, not knowing when to talk in a conversation, etc) but my biggest obstacle is the sensory processing issues that come with autism that make social situations far more difficult than one on one with someone. That’s not uncommon, a lot of people with autism do want to be social it’s just difficult at times. I get really pissed off at the “autistic people are all lonely losers” stereotype.

  14. madtom1999 says

    @10 – an alpha male would just ignore any evidence that wants within punching distance. Being an alpha male is nothing to do with being right – its purely about dominance.

  15. David Marjanović says

    But the arrogance is that of an omega male. An alpha male would either cite the peer reviewed evidence, or shut the fuck up….

    Your attempts to use PUAs’ terms against them isn’t working.

    Really… it’s not.

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