You know, I caught a plane at 5:20am this morning, had a long flight across the country followed by a 3 hour drive to get home, so I’m not exactly feeling pleasantly conducive to continuing the latest sanctimonious whine-fests from some of the people who share a server with me. I have been avoiding the various framing flare-ups around here, despite the fact that everyone of them seems to drag my name into the mix.
We appreciate your concern, it is noted and stupid.
I will defer to Greg and Russell and let them speak for me, since at this point, I really don’t give a damn about the issue. I will say this: if you think your role is to hector me about being someone else, you’re a clueless twit.
I am not Paul Kurtz. I am not Eugenie Scott. I am not Richard Dawkins. I am not your wonderful third grade teacher or the boy scout who helps little old ladies across the street, and I am not Jesus nor am I Satan. I’m me, and no one else, and I expect everyone else to be themselves. I am not practicing “identity politics”, since the only identity I have is my individuality and if there’s anything I want everyone to do it is to be able to be fierce and outspoken and say what they think. Or, as some of you obviously prefer, you can be as tepid and craven and milquetoastish as you want, and you can set your stars on being someone else and inoffensively following the crowd to your heart’s content.
But get over yourselves. That’s not my road, and I’m not following your directions, especially when they’re so goddamned boring and derivative.
Speaking on his recent podcast at Skepticality, Michael Shermer came to the defense, to some extent, of the uppity atheists. He said you “have be who you are”. What you do isn’t his style, but why would you try to copy his style anyway?
Well, that’s tellin’ em!
Get some rest PZ and I’ll see you in the AM. I’d like to know a bit more about the convention and get a feeling for the key evo-devo issues.
PZed for Molly! (Is that even possible?)
Fortune cookie for PZ:
It is you’re fierce sense of independence and outspokeness that is admired, especially when coupled with sound reasoning and a healthy dose of humor. Many who aren’t up to your academic level look up to you and those who imagine themselves to be your intellectual equal or superior are out for a game of “mine’s bigger”. You’re right, tell ’em to go fuck themselves.
PZ, take a Librium and go to bed. You’ll feel better in the morning. Then, in the morning, you can write the same thing as this because you will still be PZ Myers. Which, after all, is why we all tune in everyday.
One of the reasons I read this blog is because of your independence and forthright nature; I find it refreshing and engaging that a scientist isn’t trying to dumb-down or soften the ideas put forth. I will continue to read as long as you continue to fight the good fight.
It’s like the ten commandments saying, you know… “Be true to thine own self, and to thine own self be true.”
Cyde Weys says
Just to bring politics into it (and who doesn’t like politics?).
Matt Nisbet to atheists is kind of like Rahm Emmanuel to Democrats. Both are telling their cohorts to be moderate, to not risk anything by taking adamant stands.
Obviously, many of us disagree with that philosophy. We don’t need concern trolls.
Although there is no god and only psuedomonas to contend with, you are loved PZ.
Alan Kellogg says
Myers, when are you going to grow a backbone and stop being so self-effacing and modest? In a world full of Behes and D’souzas we need more kick ass and take name bastards. Where’s the rotten, evil, nasty, cruel, sadistic, sarcastic, cephalod obsessed spawn of Satan when we need him? One would almost think that the overrated PZ Meyes was about to come out as a New Age wienie with a My Little Pony fetish.
Don’t tell me Skatje is the only one in the family who needs to wear a cup.
Give us some fire. Give us some heat. Smack down the smarmy bastards and let the frauds know they get no mercy. Be cruel, be nasty, make the liars, frauds, and bloviators tremble in their poop loaded pants. Tell the truth and give ’em Hell, heats up the blood and stiffens the pecker—the Trophy Wife’ll love that.
Damn the compromisers, full speed ahead!
Scott Hatfield, OM says
I am not Jesus nor am I Satan.
I’m cueing up a Billy Joel cut just for you!
BTW, if I didn’t mention it before, greatly enjoyed the breakdown of Coyne etc. Good stuff.
Is Nisbet still whining about this? If he has any good sense or intelligence, he must surely have come to the realization that he’s not going to get PZ to shut up. What other motivation could he have for continuing to babble on about it? The surge in traffic he no doubt gets from more popular bloggers every time he tells them to be quiet and defer to him?
Every time Nisbet posts another screed about this, we ought to unleash a flurry of posts telling the world exactly what we think about religion. That might help drive home the point that his efforts to silence us are futile…
Nick Gardner says
You know, I personally don’t give two shits of a damn about this entire personality issue from either side.
If you think Rahm is a “concern troll,” well then: that pretty much says everything there is say about you. Whining on the internet and running the DCCC: two equally heroic endeavors!
So my question is, if their religion is true, why do they care? A being that is capable of creating everything that ever was can certainly handle himself in the face of logical criticism! I think true faith would not take the slightest offense, and violent and angry opposition is a sign of lack of faith.
So, yes, I agree completely with PZ. Go get’em!
though i tend to read more and comment less on scienceblogs, i have to say that i think it almost self-evident that the world needs more smart, well-informed citizens standing up and saying what’s on their mind, beholden to nothing but the truth (and showing the world how cool biology is, besides). here’s to a long and fruitful life to pharyngula!
I made an argument in a post some time ago that we shouldn’t be trying to tell scientists to keep quiet for purposes of public relations, we should be explaining to people why we don’t tell people to ‘shut up’, as long as their science is good.
Do you want to gain attention through polarizing attacks at your blog or in public statements, alienating even your moderately religious neighbors? Or do you want to be known as the community builder and leader who happens to also be an atheist?
Polarizing – yes, wonderfully.
Alienating – all the right people.
Community builder – yup, the hordes love you.
Leader – No. 1 science blog.
Atheist – the very best.
PZ, you are amazing! You do it all!
Hank Fox says
Don’t sugarcoat it, PZ! Tell us what you really think. :)
I took a drive two days ago to Middlebury College in Vermont to hear former Mono Lake Ranger, old friend and natural history author David Carle speak about California water issues. It was only a matter of two hours’ drive from where I live, but I felt exhausted all the next day. No idea how you keep going.
Chris P says
Being nice and setting an example – as my mother told me to do – DOESN’T WORK. I can use my turn signal at every move but it doesn’t make other people use theirs.
Condoning religion and stupid science does no good long term.
Please keep up the great work PZ.
amen! brother. lol
Every time I hear the word “derivative”…i think of a Howard Stern show from years ago. He was interviewing Paul McCartney and he asked him what he thought about Oasis. Paul in a gentlemanly way said “yes, they’re a bit derivative”
…just thought i’d share
Russell Blackford says
You Americans are soft. Over the years I’ve often driven the ten hours between Sydney and Melbourne – sometimes a fair bit farther – in one hit. On most of those occasions, admittedly, but by no means all of them, someone else has done a bit of the driving to break it up.
We have a different attitude to driving long distances, here in Australia.
(To be honest, though, I wouldn’t want to try this after a red-eye flight across the country. Take care.)
Has the on-going argument over framing (and whether it is the gateway to utopia) advanced in any significant way? Nope. I checked a post I wrote about this issue and discovered it was written in April of 2007. Yes, a year ago. And nothing that’s happened since has dated it. If I were going to alter anything, I might substitute Nisbet for Mooney in the hijacked image from the “Steps” skit of Kids in the Hall, but even that is unnecessary.
No wonder PZ gets exasperated.
I have no problem with you sometimes being a dick, and even your encouraging cliquish and dickish behavior from the Pharyngula acolytes. I do find your intolerance of other communication styles annoying and myopic, but I’m not above following your lead. So screw you and your equation of civility to tepid, craven passivity. Screw your smugness, arrogance, lack of taste, cultural myopia, and your boorishness.
wow, BJN, was that intentionally self-satirical? “Screw your … boorishness.” how avant-garde!
Robert Estrada says
May I be so humble as to suggest an epithet for these “appeasers” of the unreasoning and unreasonable. It came to me while listening to the Dutch ambassador to the USA decry the publishing on the internet of “fitna” as insulting the Muslims of the world etc…which it is. However the characterization of non believers of any variety in the manner done by all major religions is an outrageous insult to me.
The suggestion is Neville, or Chamberlain.
The only framing I want to do is to take a picture of PZ for a poster on my wall! <3
Uhoh the drama train has come roaring into town.
my altar boy latin was never very good, but i think it goes “illegimi non carborundum.”
don’t let the bastards wear you down.
“I do find your intolerance of other communication styles annoying and myopic…”
I don’t recall PZ ever telling others with different styles that they should shut up and let him speak for them. I only recall him rightfully telling them where to get off when they criticize HIS style.
I back the “concern troll” meme. Emmanuel is spineless and his ineptitude prevented a larger sweep by Democrats in the Mid-term elections. Had he done his job like they tend to do on the Republican side, instead of being such a blue-dog beotch, the Democrats would be such ineffective twats now, having spent over a year getting their asses kicked by a Republican minority.
Emmanuel and Nisbet are professional wimps and enablers of self-victim-hood.
A Lurker says
PZ, many of your statements certainly politically inconvenient but your right to say them should be uncontested.
Besides do Nisbet or Mooney think that the creationist are so dim that the creationists will forget that you are an atheist if you ever did shut up? Do they think the creationists won’t notice their campaign to asking outspoken atheists to step aside? Do they think that anyone will see it as anything besides dishonest P.R.?
I agree with Nisbet and Mooney that those who believe in God and in evolutionary biology need to step up and be heard, but not at the expense of honest debate. There is nothing wrong with telling the American public that not everyone agrees on this matter. I don’t agree with you that scientific knowledge implies no God though it certainly rules out one creating the universe 6000 years ago if one assumes that God (if he exists) does not plant false evidence. The pro-science believers should speak up and be heard by speaking up and not by having political types telling pro-science atheists to hush up. (And some are speaking up like Ken Miller.)
Elf Eye says
Is PZ advocating ‘intolerance’ of other ‘communication styles’, or is he simply asking that he be allowed to communicate on his own blog, to his chosen audience, in whatever way he sees fit?
Blake Stacey says
I find the practice as repellent as you do; however, the “Chamberlain” moniker has a history in these parts. Orac, among others, has claimed that history has given Neville Chamberlain a bad rap, and that equating his name with “appeasement” is an unfair blow. In more general terms, I think we need fewer World War II comparisons, rather than more. Surely, in all the breadth and depth of history, we can find something better. . . .
Ken Cope says
And if “God” does plant false evidence, then we’re all well and truly fucked. There’s no point whatsoever in sucking up to a lying trickster that would go to all the trouble of creating a universe that appears to require no supernatural assistance whatsoever just to mess with the heads of the slightly smarter sentient pond scum in an obscure corner of yet another galaxy. Why work so hard, unless God is just a sick, sadistic asshole. Of course, that’s how some theists prefer the object of their worship…
until this most recent “framing” thing came up, I had never heard of framing, nor of Nisbet. I had heard of PZ Myers though – from the friends who referred me here.
I think ultimately, THAT’S what drives this whole thing – like him or hate him, PZ has a huge following (me, I love him), and Nisbet? Well, he doesn’t. People WANT to know what PZ has to say. Nisbet? Not so much.
PZ, you keep on being you, ‘cuz you can’t be anyone else…
Fundies and right-wing political types have nothing left but threats, bluster, insults, and noise. The more people who point this out, the better.
Both Nasbit’s philosophy and Emanuel’s politics assume that their opponents are right. That’s no way to win anything.
This is why I want to be like you when I grow up (if I must grow up). Without the beard, though. Someday I want to be an openly atheist teacher in the Midwest and issue a big hearty “fuck you” to everyone who ever told me to shut my trap.
Tenure first, though.
Michael X says
The sad thing is the tactics used to promote framing, contradict the very message. The whole thing would be a non-issue if Nisbet didn’t decide to paint those like PZ and Dawkins as villains and confront them in a way that surely isn’t going to win them over, in order to get buzz and press. This would be all fine and dandy if it wasn’t for the fact that Nisbet promotes a message of not confronting people in a way that won’t win them over.
It’s the equivalent of saying “don’t insult people, asshole.”
And the sad thing is, if there actually is anything worthwhile in framing (which is doubtful), Nisbet is shooting his credibility as a spokesperson for it in the foot. So, no one will listen to him anyway.
I’ve been reading this blog for a few months now. This is my first comment.
I don’t always agree with you. In fact, sometimes this blog pisses me off. From a tactical perspective, your approach gives me absolute fits.
That being said, I absolutely love this place. You’ve facilitated the creation of a community of people that are genuinely engaged and excited and intellectually curious. On any given day I find myself cycling from amused to upset to awestruck by this place. Your sort of agitation is vital and exhilarating. This is the intertoobs at its best.
Even if I don’t always agree, I deeply respect you and this community. Continue to be unapologetic. Continue to ruthlessly critique. Continue to push. Even when I find myself in disagreement, I feel my perspective being stretched.
There’s a fundamental flaw in your perception. I’m sure you can’t quite grok the issue, but it’s there.
PZ hasn’t demonstrated any particular intolerance for other communication styles in this issue. He has said that he thinks they’re pointless and/or ineffective with certain groups of people, but he doesn’t show intolerance.
He has demonstrated intolerance for those who wish him to shut up unless he plays the game by their rules. Like you and your “shut up PZ, you cause harm” which is the main thrust of your anti-PZ framing whines.
So, whine what you will, little man. Wring your polite little hands at the Erinyes while they pluck your eyes out and feast on your entrails.
Blake Stacey: off the top of my head “Powellian Certitude” referencing Colin Powell’s testimony before the UN is a modern classic.
A use being:
Matthew Nesbit asserted the primacy of the proper use of Framing and the damage done to the cause by Dawkins and Myers with Powellian Certitude.
ac (#43) Now that’s what I like to hear! Can we forward ac’s comment to Matt?
If Nisbet were any good at framing, he would have framed this very issue in a way that would make us all more willing to be cooperative with his thesis.
The fact that he hasn’t managed to do so speaks volumes.
Charlie(#45) Next we’ll be hearing that Expelled!* is a “slam-dunk” for ID.
* (jazz hands)
“And the sad thing is, if there actually is anything worthwhile in framing (which is doubtful), Nisbet is shooting his credibility as a spokesperson for it in the foot. So, no one will listen to him anyway.”
To be fair: I’m sure there is any way to frame “shut up” so that it isn’t insulting.
And you’re utterly full of shit.
So why is framing so important? If this were a debate between PZ and another evo-devo researcher I would argue for tact and a high level of professional courtesy as they engage one another. This is nothing like a debate between colleagues. PZ is responding to a group of people that have zero respect for this community or our shared values.
Intolerance? With the exception of repeated trolls, PZ doesn’t censor these comments. He gives out his email. He links to his employer. He shares his CV and presents information in good faith.
Framing? Give me a break.
Michael X says
Absolutely! That is this whole issue a nut shell. The fact that someone implies that PZ should shut up (or be quieter) isn’t interesting. We get trolls doing that all the time and we easily see it for what it is. But when someone touts themselves as an expert communicator and says such drivel, well, that person will have a lot further to fall. NIsbet, of all people, should be the last to perpetrate such a rookie move. But instead we see him as the loudest advocate of the “shuddup uppity athiests” meme, when he should be advocating something so much more, I dunno, subtle? It’s all very disappointing really.
Well, ac, to be honest, framing matters to people who say things like this:
“From a tactical perspective, your approach gives me absolute fits.”
I really liked what your wrote, but that statement seems to be in conflict with the rest – because that’s pretty much what Matt Nisbet is saying (only he’s holding back on all the “I love this place” stuff – heh.) I’ve got brain-fatigue tonight, so maybe I’m not reading you correctly…
Kseniya, thanks. Tactically, I disagree with PZ on occasion. However, I share the values of this community. I’m a skeptic. I hope to be corrected when I say something that is wrong. Our opponents don’t share our values. In fact, at almost every turn they blatantly disregard these values. They are dishonest and close themselves off to criticism. If the Expelled crew ran their ship transparently we could think about how to make our arguments more palatable. If Mark Armitage were open to real criticism of his work he wouldn’t cc PZ on inane emails.
If I were to offer a ‘frame’ and present my tactical argument it would be this: we share a set of values that allow for the free exchange of ideas and the growth of shared knowledge. Our opponents do not, therefore they deserve no respect. There is a difference between being scientifically illiterate but curious and being willfully ignorant. Approach the illiterate charitably. The willfully ignorant deserve neither our true respect or our strained social courtesy.
Lee Harrison says
ac @ 43 – well said, and thank you – though I must say that while I am thoroughly prepared to disagree with PZ’s approach/methods/well expressed opinions, so far I haven’t had to :)
I have been following the latest framing kerfuffle, only occasionally commenting, and have come to the conclusion that Nisbet couldn’t frame a photograph much less an opinion or controversy. Considering that he’s supposed to be a Communications PhD, that’s more than a little sad…
So why is framing so important
Actually, if Jeff hasn’t already jumped in to make this point, I’ll make it for him:
What Nisbet is doing is NOT an example of framing, from a sociological perspective.
All we see from Nisbet is tremendous ego, driven by a successful publication in Science, with little to support his position but his own mouth. He’s just another politician, and a poor one at that.
It’s unfortunate that he has garnered some ears within AAAS, but I liken that exactly to why there are so many worthless representatives in Congress; nobody qualified wants the job.
Nisbet publishes a paper on communications that defines the “issue” in a debatable light, steps up to fill the void.
simple as that.
unfortunately, unless he gets his head screwed on straight, his own ego will keep him from actually accomplishing any semblance of moving the actually communications issue forward. Instead, he will constantly be pointing out how bad it is, via misusing the statements of others, and redefining the very issues themselves, in order to make it look like he actually has something to contribute.
I understand trying to carve a niche for oneself, but seriously, Matt is doing more harm than good.
Somebody needs to take his keys aways before he drives the communications issue off a cliff.
John C. Randolph says
It is in no way incumbent upon any atheist to refrain from expressing his views on the beliefs of others, whether politely or impolitely. For my part, I don’t put a lot of effort into talking people out of their fantasies, but when a proselytute gets in my face, I don’t hesitate to respond in a way that they’re not going to enjoy.
This prerogative is my own, and I have no duty to moderate my responses in order to make life more pleasant for those who don’t like what I have to say, or how I may choose to say it.
Sorry, that should have read, I’m NOT sure there is any way to frame “shut up” that isn’t insulting.
btw, Nisbet is now censoring his blog heavily.
If you post over there, don’t be surprised to see your posts deleted in right quick time if they disagree with him.
even if you disagree with him “pleasantly”.
Nisbet is becoming a thorn in this issue that should NOT be there.
I again call on others with connections at AAAS to contact them and voice your concerns about Nisbet’s behavior.
Has Lakoff weighed in on Nisbet’s recently?
(I’m not the biggest Lakoff fan. He’s on firmer ground with embodiment, but his political advice is not the most masterful.)
Nisbet jumped the shark when he razzed Dawkins and PZ Myers right after the creationists humiliated themselves with the Expelled expulsion incident. They block one of their own stars, PZ Myers, making themselves look classless – but let in the Devil’s Chaplain himself. The creationists look like stupid ingrates. (I don’t applaud everything Myers and Dawkins say or do – but c’mon, this one’s easy.) The new frame for Nisbet – clueless windbag – was sealed when Coturnix, one of SciBlogs few frame-defenders, disavowed him.
The Framing saga has been interesting. Unless someone more competent takes up the torch, it’s going to fade out.
The creationists have been playing with their own frames. “ID as science” didn’t pan out – no small thanks to Catholic evolutionist Ken Miller and a W-appointed judge – so now they’re going with “Darwin begat Hitler.” How to counter this? For starters, try not to get painted into a corner.
I went to listen to Matt Nisbet speak not long ago here in DC which provided a perfect example of why we should not listen to him. A woman stood up and asked if he’d read the work of Behe which, she asserted, disproved Darwin completely.
Now, instead of knocking that out of the park like he should have, poor Matt stood up there like a deer in the headlights. He spent so much time trying to “frame” his response that he… well, didn’t really respond, and instead just stuttered and mumbled a few sentences.
Thats when I decided he was full of shit.
In the comments to his recent post, Nisbet said that he wanted atheists to be an accepted minority. I replied (before I realized his comments were held for moderation) that I thought we could become a majority.
I’ll just add that a dismissive, non-respectful approach to religion was exactly what it took to shake me free of the spell, oh so many years ago. At the time, sure, it was like a slap it my face. But it woke me up. If all I’d ever heard was Nisbetian framing, I might still be a Catholic.
I should point out that Nisbet has taken up censorship, having deleted my response to his post on Paul Kurtz. It was the 3rd or so response and perhaps was therefore too prominent a place to allow for my admittedly scathing rebuttal. I took care to avoid using any naughty words and made no personal attacks, however, so I don’t consider this case of censorship to be in good taste or appropriate.
I forget which Classical Latin website I saw this on, but I wrote it down: Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled frame war already in progress. :-)
I am aware of these issues because I frequent science blogs. But for the average joe on the street, the issue is moot. They do not know who PZ Myers or Richard Dawkins are, and to be quite frank, they likely do not care. ..to say nothing, of course, about how they present science. Nesbit is misleading himself by thinking this is even an issue in the first place.
Lee Brimmicombe-Wood says
So is the consensus here that Nisbet is a poor framer? That he talks the talk but does not walk the walk?
Oh dear. It seems to me that anyone who can tee off so many potential allies has only framed himself into a niche.
Yeah, when Mooney can write a post that generates over 200 comments, but the guy who started all this, Nisbet, can only manage 30 comments…well, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out Nisbet must be blocking comments by the boatload. It’s seems muffling dissent is his entire strategy.
Thank you, PZ.
All aboard need to hear this and take it to heart.
You represent what education is supposed to be about.
Michael X says
That’s funny. Though I do think there is a way, if you really think someone is doing harm, to frame the idea of, “Hey, you’re being an unhelpful ass” in a more palatable light. As normal human beings we express things like this all the time. Think of the cliche of having to tell someone that their ass looks big in those pants. We are capable of getting our point across without being hurtful or offputting to the “other” and without lying.
So why is someone who is not only a human being with these innate skills, but also having studied the issue in depth, so bad at it?
….all this “framing”, which seems to be used round here as a justification (whether jokey or not, I can’t determine), for the use of robust language or even profanities: looking it up, the term seems to come from the field of the (post?)-constructionists: i.e.: the territory of the arch-mountebank Derrida & Co., the people who were exposed as drivellers so brilliantly by Sokal..it looks like a pseudo-intellectual rationalisation to me.
Here’s the comment I just tried to post on Nisbet’s blog (the site told me that my post is being “held for review by the blog owner”–sounds ominous):
Nisbet’s attempt to use Paul Kurtz as the shining example of everything that Richard Dawkins and P.Z. Myers should be but are not is an utter joke.
First, anyone who has actually read Kurtz’s work–in books such as The Transcendental Temptation and Living Without Religion: Eupraxophy–is well aware that Kurtz is every bit as vicious toward religion, and every bit as offensive to mainstream religious sensibilities, as Myers and Dawkins have ever been.
Indeed, and hilariously in the current context, Paul Kurtz was more-or-less singlehandedly responsible for the 1980 schism among American humanists that resulted in Kurtz and his allies leaving the American Humanist Association to found the Council for Democratic and Secular Humanism (CODESH–subsequently renamed the Council for Secular Humanism).
Kurtz’s reason for leaving, and savaging, the AHA (where he had edited the house organ magazine, The Humanist) was that he could not tolerate the substantial fraction of the membership of the AHA who–then as now–declared themselves “religious humanists.” Kurtz decided he could accept no association with such people, and his works on the subject drip with derision for them. In light of the events of the 70s and 80s, there are still plenty of AHA members who regard Kurtz as a disgusting, intemperate, monomaniacal anti-religious fanatic. I guess it was just the AHA’s bad luck that they didn’t have the services of a professional whiner to accuse Kurtz of alienating potential allies and thereby browbeat him back into the fold….
How incredibly amusing, then, that Matt Nisbet is trying to use Kurtz as a poster boy for inoffensive anti-religious advocacy. In his heydey, Kurtz had no qualms about detailing the horrors and irrationalities of religions of all sorts. His severe rejection of the AHA for the religious humanism it harbored is the direct predecessor of the Dawkins/Myers/etc. critique of appeasement-friendly schools of skeptical thought–a critique that Nisbet now, conveniently, reflexively bashes. The only reason that conservative believers don’t hate Kurtz just as much as they do Dawkins is that, by and large, they have no idea who Kurtz is or what he’s written.
As far as offensiveness to mainstream religious sensibilities is concerned, Paul Kurtz is Richard Dawkins, except that Kurtz is sixteen years older and considerably less well known. The idea that Kurtz is friendlier or more congenial to religion than Dawkins is is an utter misrepresentation of reality.
Moreover, Nisbet is mendaciously misconstruing Kurtz’s own critique of Dawkins, Myers and company; the notion that Kurtz’s critique matches Nisbet’s is a full-blown lie.
Kurtz has an axe to grind, one that indeed is his life’s work: humanism. I have yet to see Kurtz complain, a la Nisbet, that Dawkins and company are big anti-religious meanies who are therefore hurting the cause, boo hoo hoo. Instead, the sole complaint I have seen him voice about Dawkins and company (though, in Kurtz’s real context, it’s a very mild “faulting”) is that they’re not selling Kurtz’s product. But of course they’re not trying to sell humanism; they’re trying to promote science and reason (which are different, albeit closely related, products to humanism). Given the difference in intentions and the difference in audiences, it’s little wonder that there are differences in emphasis as well.
Nisbet’s attempts, then, to twist the comments of Paul Kurtz–the fervent anti-religious loudmouth of a previous generation–in an attempt to support his own attacks on honest, forthright religious criticism like that of Richard Dawkins and P.Z. Myers are an embarrassment.
Nisbet should be ashamed of himself, and this ridiculous vendetta against all things P.Z. must end.
Given that Nisbet has to approve this, I suspect it will never see the light of day on his blog. What a joke.
“Given that Nisbet has to approve this, I suspect it will never see the light of day on his blog. What a joke.”
I wondered what had happened to my post. It seems Nisbet’s answer to framing is to delete criticism rather than try to actually frame an argument well.
At the moment it seems Nisbet is a bit of a controversy traffic junkie (I had a more succinct term) trying to increase his traffic by harping on PZ.
At the moment it seems Nisbet is a bit of a controversy traffic junkie (I had a more succinct term) trying to increase his traffic by harping on PZ.
actually I no longer think I would hesitate to use the term “narcissist” when thinking of Nisbet.
Nisbet has obvoiously realized that his traffic spikes almost exclusively coincide with him writing about those durn uppity atheists. Either that, or he’s slowly devolving into Michael Korn.
Keep it up. The “If we are nice to the assh***** and don’t say or do anything that might offend the assh****, the assh**** will eventually be nice to us.” “strategy” never, ever worked.
No worries- this neck of the woods is a fairly regular stop on that line.
And frankly, it’s fairly obvious that is more by design than accident.
Which is to say, P.Z.’s protestations that his name being unfairly dragged into the mix despite his heartfelt and sincere desire to rise, purely, above the fray are, at best, an inauthentic affectation, and at worst, one of the most dishonest attempts at framing I’ve seen in a long while.
Unless, of course, you are willing to accept the idea that P.Z., the last innocent among us, honestly could never comprehend how his constant baiting and badgering of “framers,” “moderate athiests,” and Nesbit in particular, could have possibly attracted the attention of people he refers to as “tepid, “craven,” and “milquetoastish.” Or that people who are endlessly granted the cliched title of “Chamberlain” atheists, (as for example, the oh-so-churchillian P.Z.has done many times in the the past,and as #29 is doing here- as if that was some new and brilliantly revelatory insight years after we’ve all grown tired of it) should all just step aside and and bow down to the truly bold and brave amongst us and say: “Yup! You’re right!!!111!1! We really did an own goal and classic fail!”
Imagine the gall, the temerity, of us standing up and saying, “hey we kinda feel like consistently equating theists with malevolent lunatics might be a bit over reaching. Perhaps some of them are just, you know, wrong?”
No, I know, the idea seems preposterous. Yet, some of us operate under such tiresome delusions- inconceivable as it seems. Thank Jebus we have P.Z., et all, to point out how much we are part of the problem.
Which is to say:
Bullshit. Pure and simple.
By the by- do you any of you get that your constant appeals to WWII action figures and abject, dribbling lunacy are noting more than instances of (admittedly inept and bulevard-brush sized)- get ready for this-
bad Jim says
One of the points Nisbet and Mooney ought to recognize is that the other side is going to demonize evolution no matter what. It doesn’t matter that Dawkins and Myers are atheists. It really doesn’t make any difference at all. The problem is that biology threatens the idea of the special creation of the human race, indeed threatens the very idea of the human soul.
Suppose every popularizer of evolution was a devout Catholic or even a theistic evolutionist. They’d still have to point out that God was constrained to assemble humans from the simian parts bin, and that all this happened millions of years ago, so that prophecies that the End Times are upon us, since our 7000 years are up, are perhaps not all that trustworthy.
The complaints of the devout would hardly change in such a case.
There are, broadly speaking, 3 different approaches to defeat the creationists and the anti-science guys :
1) the PZ approach, the passionate atheists
2) the E.O. Wilson approach, the moderate atheists
3) the K.Miller approach, the moderate pro science theists
And you know what, it’s simple, we need the 3 !
It is not “one is better”, but “3 is better”.
So here is the simple question I asked to Prof.Nisbet :
” are you encouraging the 3, or are you not ?”
Let’s see if he will reply…
I always wonder why, in America, things always seem to be so black and white, it’s always the same type of discourse, “you’re either with us, or against us”…
By the way- If you’re going for some sort of mock self-censure thing here, I think it’s the “ass” part of the word where you want to substitute “*”s for actual letters.
I’m pretty sure “hole” is the safe part of that compound.
Uriel, PZ Myers is a Care Bear of atheism compared to some of the newer breed.
The occasional rhetorical overindulgences are less problematic than the pie in sky prognostications. The ultimate atheist pipe dream is the death of theism. Good luck with that. Don’t you get it – you can’t kill that which does not live. God is undead. Same with the soul and the afterlife.
Returning to the topic at hand, the fact is that Nisbet is one dimensional, soporifically repetitive, and piss-poor at both a) framing, b) framing framing.
You’re clode negentropyeater, but not quite there yet. Actually, the Three are One. The One is Three. PZ is the Father of Atheism, the stern bearded authority figure. KM is the beloved and kindly Son and EOW is the blessed Holy Spirit. Something like that, anyway.
Depends on your goals, but personally, in the short term, I agree. The anti-science threat is far more far reaching and dire than the theism threat, although they are often times intertwined.
I for one see those who cling to anti-evolutionist, anti-vac, anti-global warming and anti-Alopathy positions as a far greater threat to humanity than those who concede to the validity of the above, but hold out some hope (however misguided I think it is) that some grand organizing principle rules the universe.
Frankly, If it boils down to a choice between a) a devout Calvinist who understands that the world can not possibly survive a nuclear exchange, and b) an atheist who believes in a survivable nuclear war- A gets my vote.
However, I would point that the question you asked Nisbet could also be asked of many on this particular blog, and the answers would be just as telling.
John Morales says
Care to show any examples where theists in general are equated with malevolent lunatics?
Because I’ve not seen any yet, and I’ve been reading this blog for years.
John Morales says
Uriel, I see you posted while I was writing.
re #81: So much to quibble over, but life is limited. I will allow myself 5 points.
That term (allopathy) is used almost exclusively by homeopathic supporters. Hm.
2. So, you believe any nuclear war will cause extincion of our species. You’re quite sure of this?
3. So, you’d prefer a devout Calvinist over an atheist, if the Calvinist agrees with you about something. Right.
That would be true because, though Dr. Nisbet is supposedly a communications expert, these many are equally expert.
Honesty compels me to express my sympathy with your view.
5. What is your point, other than you think PZ and most commenters are wrong? Is there any?
As Brian said :
I Am NOT Your MESSIAH !!
Stephen Wells says
PZ Myers. He is not your job or how much money you have. He is not your fucking khakis.
theists are all malevolent lunatics…
actually, I don’t believe that, but it screws up John Morales’ argument a little, and since I heard you can get CASH MONEY for supporting the cretinists, I’ve decided to become an Agent Provocateur
any day now, the DI will be hiring me as an expert researcher, and I’ll get my own shirt with neon proclaiming me to be a Signtist
Lilly de Lure says
Can PZ be mollied for this one? A more brilliant encapsulation of the principles of individualism and free speech I have not heard in a long time.
First Matt writes a post that gets star billing at Uncommon Descent, and now he’s deleting blog-comments that are critical of him? Who’s betting the next data point will be the wearing of oversized cardigans?
Uriel #81 “The anti-science threat is far more far reaching and dire than the theism threat, although they are often times intertwined.”
I think this is the crux of the problem. Science is being attacked on many fronts: anti-vaxers, AGW-deniers, HIV-deniers, homeopaths, Scientologists, and of course, creationists. Nobody has any problem with the ridicule of all except the latter, because creationists derive their pseudoscience from religion, and religion has a special, unearned respect in the US.
As creationism is a consequence of religion (albeit, a specific flavour of religion), you can’t tackle it without tackling the theological foundations. And criticising the erroneous thinking behind creationism will also result in criticism of religion generally. Tough.
Religion isn’t always a problem for science (as PZ will no doubt agree), but the religion of a sizeable portion of Americans IS a problem for science. I’m glad that there people like PZ who aren’t afraid to say so (despite getting stabbed in the back by some of his peers).
Science will always be at war with pseudo-science. It’s a shame that on one of these fronts the main defenders are being told that they have to fight with one hand tied behind their back. Just as well PZ has tentacles.
PS: Scientology is a cult.
Held for moderation… *sigh*
Re: the discrimination against atheists as evidenced in polls–
Is the “atheist” in the questionnaire a Dawkins/Myers/whomever? Or is the “atheist” in the questionnaire the satan-worshipping baby-eater with no human face at all? I suspect (pure speculation, I admit) that if you asked the average bible-belt churchgoer to name a prominent atheist, they would settle on “Hitler”, unless they happened to think of a worse person first.
Unless you have evidence that the people whose tactics you dislike are also the reason for the poll position (and I have not seen such evidence), your argument is flawed.
“However, I would point that the question you asked Nisbet could also be asked of many on this particular blog, and the answers would be just as telling.”
I think that was the point of PZ’s recent thread “Christian Educators”, and it seemed to me that PZ and many comenters agreed that other approaches should be encouraged, or provoked, whilst noting a certain frustration that it didn’t seem to be working…
Your current feelings are not uncommon as the result of traveling. Please slap around an Intelligent Design Creationist or YEC and call me in the morning. I am confident you’ll feel better in the morning.
True Bob says
I would like some special advice on framing from Nesbit, myself.
What is the correct way to frame “I’ll pray for you now, then laugh while you burn in hel forever”?
Alexander Ploner says
Unfortunately, PZ Parker’s appeal to individualism, however heartfelt, misses the point: for as we all know, with great power comes great responsibility!
Oh, *Myers*. No superhero after all… in that case, you may be entitled to speaking your mind.
I have zero problems with any intelligent person being outspoken–even outrageously so. Heck, the more outrageous, the better! Then again, I’m the person who told my supervisor just the other day, after being told to conform to some new bean-counting policy that it wasn’t my job to make sure some pencil-pusher with a shine on his butt could get a raise. The union loved that one…
To Russell Blackford:
Texans don’t think anything about driving long distances. It sorta comes with the state. I drove from El Paso to McAllen in one trip. (790 miles/1260 km). I did all the driving. With a four-year-old in tow.
I’ve known lots of people who drove 70 miles each way to and from work everyday. I’m not that crazy, but, in the long run, it’s not that much different than people in LA who live in Encino and work in downtown LA. Those people probably spend even more time on the road than the long-distance Texans. At least the Texans are probably moving, unless they’re in Houston, Austin, Dallas, or parts of San Antonio.
It’s like the ten commandments saying, you know… “Be true to thine own self, and to thine own self be true.”
Patricia C. says
After 50 years of living the ‘suffer in silence, O woman’, ‘sit down and shut up’ life, I finally set myself free three years ago. Your replies in science to the fundie fools are very important to me. Please don’t shut up. Please don’t even pretend to want to play nice.
When you wrote ‘fuck you very much’ to those fellows I knew I had found my champion. Thankyou!
So much neuronal firing wasted on trying to deal with the Nisbet issue, when the solution is so perfectly obvious: Nisbet for Pope! It might even improve on the present one.
Better late than never, Patricia C.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not being flip. Your comment stopped my heart. Welcome to the free world.
Robert Estrada says
Thanks for the heads-up but I did not duck quickly enough. I read his link and begin to understand the pile of malodorous? that this metaphor embodies for those in this neighborhood. I am not well enough versed in world history to provide options outside of American history, but I think that the 50s and McCarthy era should provide the required examples, and counter examples for that matter.
Having only been lurking in the neighborhood for 4-5 months, I am not aware of all that has transpired here. In the context you link to I can understand your point. I did not intend it to be a reference to anyone being a gnazi. I’ll try substituting former SAG president Ronald Reagan for his betrayal of so many actors and entertainers, and call them “Ronnies” or maybe not. I know a few respectable Rons. Ugh this is getting bad. I just remembered L. Ron. As to Estrada’s, Please! Please! do not mention CHIPS,… or the Philippines…. You are fortunate that there is only one Orec. Maybe we all are.
Thanks for a good blog at respectful insolence.
Sorry for mentioning Orec on your site.
PZ does harm. Lots of religious people on the fence, raised on the idea that harshness is an external marker of bad character, unable to hear his message and pulled toward the more extreme denizens of their congregation. If only he had expressed himself in a more approachable way.
PZ does good. Lots of religious people on the fence, raised on theology that they always knew, inside, was crap, and inspired by the cephalopod Terminator to say; “Fuck yeah!” and throw off their shackles. Good thing he didn’t sugar-coat it. As one of them said on another blog; “The last thing I needed was another enabler.”
This same argument goes on in evangelical circles, by the way. Church congregations routinely split over what are essentially questions of style. Whole denominations, even.
Alan Kellogg says
Let’s be clear here, the man doesn’t give people hell, he tells the truth and they think it’s hell.
Probably a dead issue, but what the hey-
1) Yeah, I know that. That’s why I chose that term over “science based medicine.” I was being perverse. I’m in no way, shape or form a fellow traveler. It’s just a personal affectation.
2) No, of course not. A limited exchange between Pakistan and India is probably survivable- if they were the only players involved. On the other hand, there are a significant number of people who cavilerly suggest that, for various reasons, turning the middle east into glass is a viable solution to the current issues there, despite the eventual escalation that would inevitably evolve, given the interests of the heavy hitters. Which’ frankly, is inane. However, given the opportunity to rephrase the post, I would have focused more on the anti-vax issue, since I find the outcome of that issue far more perilous.
3) Depends. And on this point I’m going to have to assume you’re being deliberately obtuse. The issue is not whether the atheist or the Calvinist agrees with me- the point is whether or not the issue in question is important enough and obvious enough to dissolve the (frankly weak) glue of trivial identity politics, allowing me agree with those I otherwise disagree with. Admittedly, many here seem to think that the common bond of identity politics far outweighs the importance of the matter at hand, to the extent that they are willing to eschew the important concerns in favor of expressing their vitriol over tertiary issues. I disagree. To me, the anti-vax, or AGW, issues take presidance over the issue of how many hypothetical angels can dance on the head of a pin. Likewise, the evolution debate, or the acceptance of enlightenment values.
4) Not sure what you are trying to say here. Although my main point in saying that was that was to question the priorities of both Nesbit and some of the posters here as to what their intent really is- is the main point the communication of science, or the advancing of some other agenda or orthidoxy unrelated to that goal. Not knowing all that much about Nesbit, apart from P.Z.’s posts about him, and the constant disparaging references to ‘framing’ that pop up here, I have to say it seems the later is far more important to many in this debate than the former.
5) Well, my original intent was to point out that P.Z.’s expressions of dismay at being thrust into the role of a main player in this debate are a bit absurd, given his previous eagerness to attack ‘framers,’ and Nesbit in particular, on a regular basis. Then I started riffing, and things went on from there…
On the other hand, I’d point out that there are many posters that disagree with the ‘most’ you refer to, to one extent or another.
But, by all means- if you feel my posts are pointless, feel free to disregard them. It’s a fairly common tactic, ignoring the opposition. I’m sure it will work wonders for your sense of righteousness.
The hell you say!!
Further- Why I never!
In conclusion- this is the hand: you may talk to it.
I’ll admit, I think I missed that one. I’ll check it out. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.
(BTB, MH, I agree with the rest of your post. As well as the part commented on. ;>)
Uriel, Nisbet posts here at Scienceblogs… and his posts are inevitably inane drivel turning on anecdotes of people agreeing with his obvious genius for communicating science, coupled with enormous cock-ups. He seems to think he has some sort of entitlement to speak for science as a whole purely for being who he is, and that the atheist scientists should shut up just because they have another agenda as well as science. This would almost be ok, except that he was handed a perfect frame for supporting science over ID, and dropped it in favour of pursuing his personal vendetta. So yeah, not the kind of guy you want being the only voice of science, which seems to be his goal.
Mooney at least seems reasonable, and genuinely interested in really getting out there and getting results.
John Morales says
Uriel, I felt you posted malign and unwarranted hyperbole to start with, and responded accordingly.
Though I disagree with your opinions*, you can see that PZ allows free expression on this blog, and that’s something I admire.
I also think that, when you claim the general tenor of opinion here is that atheists are “malevolent lunatics”, but choose not to show a single example, is telling.
Care to substanciate your claim?
That’s your opinion, but I find it laughable. I have every reason to believe PZ says what he means and means what he says – the sophistry and disingenuousness you ascribe him are, I think, more the style of his detractors.
* (other than that all modes of expression should be employed to address the negative associations atheism provokes in American culture)
I couldn’t agree more. What a gigantic tool! He’s the only blogger on scienceblogs with a link to his CV posted prominently on the front page (Downloadable too!). He’s obviously got an enormous ego and is confused about why his great intellectual skill and superior intelligence is not being appreciated. I’m sure when he condescends to write for his audience he feels like he’s giving us a tremendous gift by
interpreting lyingframing it for us.
But, I can understand why he would hate PZ. He just spent his money on an education that’s supposed to have provided him with superior written communication skills and he can’t find anyone to worship his great intellectual skill. This must completely destroy all of his constructs regarding his superior intellect. How frustrating is it to realize that your audience–especially here on scienceblogs–has an intellect equal or superior to your own and finds your life’s work to be frivolous, superficial and inane.
And there is PZ who doesn’t even have Nisbits framing skills or his framing intellect or any of his framing ability–PZ’s A GODDAMN FRAMING LAYMEN FOR CHRIST’S SAKE!!!!! and he has the #1 science blog in the country.
PS. When we take out the posts in which Nisbet talks about PZ, Expelled and/or New Athiests, his average number of comments is 3.3 (well, I didn’t do all of them I got board and only when back about 3 months. Many of his blogs have 0 comments)
mirç mırc mirc mırç says
Thanks so much for this! This is exactly what I was looking for