Despite many nay-sayers and doom-mongers, PZ Myers has proven many of his detractors wrong and responded to my video asking him, if he only blocks genuine trolls and unreasonable dissenters from his blog as he claims, where are all the residual non-trollish regular dissenters?
Seemed a reasonable question I think!
Of course my praise for him is somewhat qualified on the grounds of there being an unsubtle difference between claiming to address someones argument, including titling your response as if you have done so and,....well - actually doing so!
So I would like to address the grounds he DOES cover in his blog. Are we sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin:
So he asks in a video, where all the dissenters are (why in a video, I don’t understand; isn’t this a case where his written paragraphs are simpler, shorter, and easier to get through then 2+ minutes of yelling at a camera?)
So PZ responds on his Pharyngula blog, where absolutely none of his dissenters are because he has banned them all! (why on a blog I don't understand, isn't it the case that, unless you are a speed typist, you can commit your thoughts to video far quicker than tappety tapping them out on a keyboard?)
So having conducted the kind of simple rational analysis in 10 seconds that PZ Myers, despite his purported pretensions in the fields of skepticism and freethought, seems incapable of doing, I have concluded the following:
1) PZ Myers is most comfortable on his written blog as I am video blogging, therefore this is the default approach we take to responding, all other things being equal.
2) PZ Myers most established outlet with the greatest reach is his written blog as mine (with a substantially smaller reach than his, admittedly) is my video channel. If you want to be heard it makes sense to use your primary means of communication.
Please hold on here folks. If any of you are feeling talked down to on the grounds that this is clearly shit-blindingly obvious then please take note: to PZ Myers it is apparently not.
So what I have decided to do is, in the name of accommodating PZ in every way I can (other than anally), to commit this reply to my written blog. I very much hope that if PZ chooses to respond that he does within the spirit of the exchange (a general kind of mean-spiritedness with the hum of reciprocated dislike) and commits to video!
A lot of what followed in PZ's reply in no way addressed my question at all. A common complaint PZ and his bevy of house trolls have had is that my involvement on Pharyngula involves making threads all about me. However, PZ seems intent, in his reply, in making much of it all about me which is very much the way of things on Pharyngula: you make a dissenting argument; the responses you get are vitriolic and personal; and if you tackle any of them it is you who are making the thread about yourself. Forgive me for not falling in to that trap again!
Let's look at the bits which attempt to actually tackle my question:
Why aren’t 50% of my commenters creationists, just like the American population? Why aren’t 90% of them Christians? Why aren’t a third of them Republicans? We can apply this to every site on the internet: why aren’t the comment threads at AVoiceForMen full of people aghast at the misogyny on display? Why aren’t 10% of the comments at RaptureReady people belittling the inanity of Bible prophecy? Perhaps NoelPlum99 ought to think it through a little bit, and wonder why he assumes that the internet ought to be a great gray panmictic uniformity.I suggest that Prof Myers would be well served to actually watch my video. It was 2.5 minutes long. I am being generous here. Were I to be less charitable, cynical even, I may suggest instead that PZ has actually watched my video, knows my argument and perchance has some secret investments on the commodities markets and is scared the price of straw is about to plummet? Who knows?
What is absolutely clear is that I was AT PAINS to point out that internet blogs, vlogs and the like are notoriously unrepresentative and in no way would I expect the strength of dissent on his blog to statistically match, or even approach, the strength of feeling. What I actually said (which can be an uncomfy thing to tackle when your arguments are built on sand) is that, given the large numbers of dissenters, surely some non-trollish dissenters would have set up shop on his blog and avoided his banhammer - but hey, why address the actual question when there is an easier one of your own you can address instead?
But let me say a little more here, because there is so much more that could be said:
Why aren’t 50% of my commenters creationists, just like the American population?Or how about, why aren't ANY of your regular dissenters creationists on the anti-creationism blogs you make? When I regularly made anti-creationism videos I had regular creationist commentors. I welcomed their involvement, it made the comments a discussion rather than an endless list of self-affirmatory chirping.
Why aren’t 90% of them Christians?Why aren't ANY of them Christians?
Why aren’t a third of them Republicans?What aren't ANY of them Republicans?
If my tiny weeny channel manages to attract regular dissenters when I make a series of videos on a subject how does his behemoth of a blog manage to somehow avoid them all (other than those that either don't stay or require blocking as trolls)? Sorry, and all that, but I am just not buying PZ's argument here.
Then we get this:
Why aren’t the comment threads at AVoiceForMen full of people aghast at the misogyny on display? Why aren’t 10% of the comments at RaptureReady people belittling the inanity of Bible prophecy?Maybe they adopt the same blocking strategy as the one you actually adopt, rather than the one you claim in google hangouts? I tried myself, a few years back, to join a Christian forum. I explained on the application that I was an atheist but wanted to engage in good faith and to accept any and all questions the regulars may have for me: I never heard back. Perhaps that is your answer?
You say that perhaps I ought to think it through. I have. You set up a straw argument and then STILL managed to answer it badly.
What followed is PZ Myers kindly explaining to me why we would expect dissenters to be significantly statistically underrepresented on Pharyngula. It is all rivetting stuff and I only wish I had had access to it prior to my video question because then I could have used it to detail exactly why we would expect dissenters to be significantly statistically underrepresented on Pharyngula, having made the exact same point myself. (you know, the bit of the video where PZ's doorbell must have rang or perhaps his sausages were burning under the grill?)
If only PZ!
If only this had actually been the question I had asked rather than inconventiently (for which I apologise) being simply a misrepresentation to a degree which left me breathless. Shame that.
So why aren’t there a bunch of reasonable people here disagreeing with the major premises of the blog (there is, of course, a great deal of disagreeing going on in the comments — NoelPlum99 has to have his blinders on to fail to see that — but it’s just not over fundamentals, like the value of science)?Hang on, so is this all about the 'value of science' now? When did this suddenly become the bone of contention driving the recent fractious disputes? Have I suddenly dematerialised only to reappear in a parallel universe identical in every way other than the well documented issues of dispute in the atheistic and skeptical circles are about totally different things? As it stands the only argument I have seen approaching the value of science, was the ludicrous claim you made to Steve Novella that skepticism is of no use (or at least 'fuck skepticism') unless empiricism grants objectivity to normative moral claims.
.........Because they can’t disagree reasonably.None of them? Seriously? So of all the thousands of people who actively disagree with you on the real issues (hint: the ones that everyone seems to be talking about, not the 'value of science') none of them EVER come onto your blog and start regularly giving their objections? Except, of course, the dozens upon dozens of people you have labelled trolls and banned! One presumes the myriad reasons you gave in your reply, as to why dissenters would not step foot within a thousand internet miles of your blog, we have to suspend from our considerations - for reasons beyond our ken - when it comes to the myriad varieties of troll? Again sorry, still not quite buying PZ's argument: is anyone's mileage varying from mine here?
If you’re a dissenter, holding a minority view, there’s an expectation that you’re actually here because you’re looking to learn about a different point of view.Which is distinctly NOT the same as adopting that point of view. I am reading William Lane Craig's 'Reasonable Faith' at the moment. Previously I read Alvin Plantinga's latest, not far behind was Jonathan Sack's take on the friction between science and religion. Does learning and exploring their points of view necessitate me agreeing or adopting their views by the end of these books? This is what you go on to say:
NoelPlum99 was notorious for that. He hung around for 4 months and never changed his tune, never addressed any sensible arguments, and never acknowledged any points that might represent serious concerns by commenters here.Apologies for making it 'all about me' for a few moment:
I have to ask how many of his commenters changed their tunes to mine? How many of them addressed my arguments? How many of them told me to fuck off and informed me just how much they despised me? Ok, I'll grant him that one!
Perhaps you should have a look at what I think was about the first exchange I had on Pharyngula:
Here is the blog entry. The relevant posts are from my first comment at #355 through to the #390's.
I have to ask: who was the party addressing arguments here and who were the parties simply slinging as much shit as didn't run through their crooked fingers?
However, let's leave this to one side. My question, let us not forget, was a general one. By all means, just assume I am a troll of the most egregious and nauseating kind. The question was where are all the reasonable dissenters who do not fall into the categories PZ claims justify a block? Well, the startling truth is revealed right at the end of his response to me:
But otherwise, there are views that I find insufferably stupid, that only idiots would hold, and I’m happy to make this environment as hostile as possible to them. There are no rational grounds, no context for reasonable dissent, for being anti-feminist, for instance, or denying that our culture is deeply patriarchal and sexist. I can see reasonable argument about how we ought to deal with this fact of life, but denial (or worse, the kind of inane argument so many make that “why, calling someone a ‘cunt’ is not a reflection of de facto sexism!”)So to PZ I say this. I would agree wholeheartedly that as much as feminism is about righting the real inequalities that women still DO really suffer there is no context for reasonable dissent. I suppose you could say the same about MRAs, whereby as much as they are about the real inequalities men DO suffer (of which there could be nothing greater for anyone with children than being held as a second-class parent purely on the grounds of your sex - and fuck you PZ if you belittle that issue) there is no context for reasonable dissent. However, you and I know that in practice MRA groups are about a whole lot more than that, just as the brand of feminism promoted by the likes of some on your blog network - including your good self - is about a whole lot more than "the view that women are people" which you trot out at the end of your response. Similarly, perhaps you need to become a little bit more sophisticated than assume cum hoc ergo propter hoc that because sexism and patriarchy are realities that every inequality we see is as a result of them and that any argument to the contrary is no context for reasonable dissent. Perhaps you have to become a little bit more tolerant of the breadth of human opinion? After all, your fellow blogger on Pharyngula, Chris Clarke, is a one-time regular poster on the ultra-radfem hate blog iblamethepatriarchy so perhaps he ought to feel the banhammer..... quickly now, before he logs on and changes the password!
Simply put: what you have demonstrated in this paragraph is that you have no objection to reasonable dissent but that any position other than one which exactly chimes with your own you regard as wholly unreasonable. Brilliant: you could teach me so much.
Let me give you the last word PZ, on why NOT ONE SINGLE REGULAR DISSENTER HAS MANAGED TO SURVIVE ON YOUR WIDELY READ BLOG, and let the crimson colour of your herrings make my point better than I have managed throughout this entire response :
And then they get banhammered.Jim (np99)
Because really, how do you express “reasonable dissent” from the view that women are people, and that our society institutionalizes discrimination of all sorts?