Stalinist behaviour at creationist blogs

One of the most dishonest creationist campaigns is the “academic freedom” one. It can be a very effective “when are you going to stop beating your wife” type of argument as non-one wants to oppose academic freedom, do they? Of course, the creationists really mean freedom from evidence. They want to promote bronze age myths as scientific and to do that they have to remove the evidence requirement that science demands.idog

However, you would have thought that they would be careful to moderate their own behaviour if they are going to promote this “freedom” mantra. I am reminded of this hypocrisy by the recent banning of a commenter from the local creationist “Thinking Matters” blog. I was also banned there a while back. Many of us have experienced banning from local creationist blogs – and the major US creationist/intelligent design blogs like Uncommon Descent.

Echo of Stalin?

Uncommon Descent recently went one step further – they banned one of their main writers, DaveScott. And what was his transgression? He didn’t blindly accept the charge (promoted by some of his more more rabid co-writers) that Charles Darwin was a racist! Dave transgressed even further by pointing out that some Christians were, or had been, racist! (see Memory Hole: Preserving a post from Uncommon Descent, Uncommon Descent, “unlike the Darwinists, doesn’t ban or censor ideas” and Censorship at Uncommon Descent).

Now, DaveScott is a non-person on the Uncommon Descent blog. The whole issue is just not allowed to be discussed. Isn’t this the sort of behaviour Stalin was guilty of?

My attitude about debates like this is that sunlight is the best disinfectant. It is part of the scientific ethos that there should be open discussion of differing viewpoints – and in the end ideas are tested by mapping against reality. It is this which keeps science honest.

Blogs which refuse to allow open discussion do nothing for their cause. They publicly show a lack of confidence in the ideas they promote and an unwillingness to consider evidence. (Actually, it’s noticeable that many creationist blogs have a no comment policy anyway).

Banning with style

Pro-science blogs usually don’t get into this sort of Stalinist behaviour. However, there is always the problem of trolls who contribute nothing and waste space in their own comments and in those who are baited to respond. Pharyngula, the best known science blog, has a novel approach to this problem. PZ Myers is currently running a “survivors” competition to cull trolls from his blog. All commenters are being given a chance to vote on who they would most like to see removed. And the candidates themselves are given a chance to redeem themselves by writing a brief comment (200 words or less) demonstrating their knowledge about a specific topic (or even about their own behaviour).

I guess the lesson here is that censorship is a last resort. It’s an unpleasant job. If you are going to do it at least be open about it and treat it like reality TV – a joke.

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21 responses to “Stalinist behaviour at creationist blogs

  1. “Of course, the creationists really mean freedom from evidence.”,what evidence do you have to support your assertion?

    You will also find that it is common among the higher profile creationist, atheist, Darwinist or evolutionist blogs to practice censorship. I think this is more along the lines of quiting what they feel are useless comments. This standard is objective and is at the discretion of the publisher. I have known people to be censored from several evolutionist blogs for no reason other than they refused to agree with the publisher, no big deal, there are other blogs to comment on and of course you can write your own.

    I saw one atheist that had the novel idea of publishing there comments on their own blog and then linking to the original in case it was censored. Of course there is room for dishonesty but I will let his track record speak for it self and so far he seams to be honest about it.

    The thing to remember is that you can not make everyone happy all of the time. If a the theory of evolution was measured for truth by the honesty of its proponents it would have been dead in the water a long time ago. Luckily we will judge all theories on the merits of it’s own honesty and history will be the final judge.

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  2. If a the theory of evolution was measured for truth by the honesty of its proponents it would have been dead in the water a long time ago.

    Delusional babble from somebody who has no idea what they are talking about. Sad.

    …history will be the final judge.

    Yep, and the verdict is in….

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  3. I think this one is better

    Oh, and by the way, nice dodge of my first question.

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  4. Yeah, yeah, yeah, people get ‘censored’ left and right. As if. I don’t censor anyone on my blog, and on the MNA web forum, I only censor language, as the religious never seem to grow tired of posting language that is really not okay for our small children to be reading. I leave it up there so people can see what jerks they are, I just make sure a kid wouldn’t be able to read the word… Seriously.

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  5. mcoville – Your question:

    ““Of course, the creationists really mean freedom from evidence.”,what evidence do you have to support your assertion?”

    It is in the very nature of the scientific method that hypotheses are inferred from evidence, developed into structured theories and tested by evidence -0 against reality.

    Now creationists don’t do this. At the most there “evidence” is from biblical quotation and distortion of scientific comments. Never any validation of creationist “theories”.

    One could go into more detail. For example the attempts by the Wedge ID people to get science educational standards rewritten in several US states. The record shows attempts to rewrite the scientific method so that it stops at inference. A Chrsitian filter may then be applied but they tried very hard to deny validation against reality. I have written on this before (eg: Redefining science by inference and Intelligent design and scientific method).

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  6. Wow, you think Dogbert is much better?
    Talk about dragging out the heavy guns.
    (giggle)

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  7. Some of you guys should try debating at http://johnsoncphilip.com/

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  8. @ Adelphos:

    Personally, I can’t see a good reason to. Johnson doesn’t address points raised, just”asks questions” to get replies that he can then either cherry-pick from or quote-mine, etc. to “self-justify” his original position. I pointed that out in my one of my lasts post at ThinkingMatters before Bnonn had a tizzy and banned me.

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  9. I pointed that out in my one of my lasts post at ThinkingMatters before Bnonn had a tizzy and banned me.

    Heraclides, I don’t know how you can stomach people like that. When you did engage Johnson, I thought you did a bang-up job trying to get him to respond in a rational manner.
    He couldn’t, of course, but at least you made the effort. Kudos.

    PZ Meyers, despite his prickly nature, has had a recent success pentrating the creationist “fogginess of brian” disease. So willingness to engage is not always wasted.
    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/03/a_testimonial_1.php

    I thought the comments were very interesting.

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  10. Cedric: still dodging.

    And yes, Dogbert is as reliable of a source as SchrodingersFinch.

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  11. Cedric: still dodging.

    Ken already answered you. Read his response on this thread carefully.

    Dogbert is as reliable of a source as SchrodingersFinch

    Wha…?
    Dogbert is a cartoon. It’s…entertainment.
    If you’re impressed by it ,then more fool you.
    As a source for understanding science, it’s piss poor.

    SchrodingersFinch made a…tribute video.
    It’s not a science source.
    It’s a tribute video.
    Do you understand now?

    It celebrates only Darwin’s genius but also the scientific progress and hard work that is carried on by scientists all over the world in biology.
    Remember your comment about “history will judge”?

    Well, history has judged.
    The theory of Evolution works and produces good science.

    Creationism, on the other hand, has left the building. Most people that support it are religious people who are scientifically bankrupt.
    The rest are just religious people who are simply dumb.
    For example:

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  12. Adelphos – why not comment here (as you can see we keep getting banned from apologetics sites which makes it pointless for us to comment there).

    Perhaps you can tell us about your extensive work “on the inner quark-structure of Protons and Neutrons”, point us to some of your scientific publications.

    Otherwise, of course, you are free to comment and initiate/take part in discussions here. I certainly don’t censor or ban people when the discussion doesn’t go my way.

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  13. Ken – I am sorry, but I am only the webmaster of the site. My background does not include apologetics or physics and I do not understand most of what you people discuss.

    By the way, how do you get this facility for “reply” direct to a comment, which then appears immediately below the comment to which you are responding? This facility would be useful in some of the wordpress blogs where I help.

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  14. This topic has intrigued me for years. I’ve been reading science and creationism since the seventies, and the more I read, the sadder the whole thing seems. Neither side seems to be aware of the dichotomy posed by the very definitions of the sides.

    Science is based on the view that the natural universe is sufficient to understand and explain the natural universe. Creationism is based on the view that all things are explainable, and understandable only in terms of the King James version of the Christian bible. That’s the heart of it. All else, as Hillel said, “is commentary”.

    That the whole set-to is unavoidable, and eternal was recognized by the ancients, I think. One can read the Tower of Babel story to have the purpose of the ancients telling all who follow essentially “you can’t see heaven from here, anymore”. No matter how high you stack the bricks (natural evidence), god will not let you see heaven from this world. Period.

    The argument would be laughable, after all these centuries, if the education (and the very lives) of our children were not resting on the outcome of the issue. Christians, no amount of so called natural evidence that you may accumulate (even if its real) can EVER indicate ANYTHING about god, heaven, angels, etc. It says so in the book.

    Scientists, most religions (not just Christianity) believe that there exists a world that you are supposed to be able to see, asuming that you are decent and honest, that the scientific method can’t reveal. Most of them take that as a given (untestable). You either have faith, or you don’t.

    This is an argument that can’t be won. Period. Yet, neither side seems willing to even sign an armistice (stop shooting).

    Folks on both sides, can’t we at least be polite? Maybe if scientists stopped calling creationists “stupid and unethical”, and if creationists stopped calling scientists “stupid and unethical”, maybe we could draw some kind of “cease fire line” that would leave science alone in school, and religion alone in church. But, I don’t expect it.

    Very sad for all of us.

    (Big ed – I have corrected your link. You had missed the .com)

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  15. Adelphos – you could at least pass on the sentiment to Philip. Especially that, as much as I enjoy fruitful debate with people of different views, this becomes pointless when blog sites selectively censor and ban. Johnson is obviously OK with the banning because he continues to write for a blog which engages in this activity. He must endorse it. So I assume your blog (it is an apologist one, isn’t it) will also do the same thing. So why should I bother?
    However, I repeat my offer for Philip to comment here in an environment where censoring and banning is not used this way.

    The reply facility is part of the wordpress.com platform these days.

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  16. I hadn’t come across “Thinking Matters” before. Obviously an irony-free title. Depressing to find dreck such as this close to home.

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  17. big ed,

    I think you’re missing the point for many of us. You seem to be writing as is the “debate” were over the existence of the religion (although you don’t explicitly say this in your comment), but this isn’t what most people I know of are responding to.

    Most scientists I know, and certainly myself, never address the “issue” of the existence (or not) of whatever religious figures people believe in. The reason we don’t is the question is moot from a science point of view, as you mention.

    From my point of view until someone shows me evidence, claims about religion are simply, literally, empty claims, and so are moot and thus not of interest or relevance to me. Seeing they’re not about to present evidence, as you say, there is nothing to debate over on that topic.

    What many people do object to and do reply to is the fallacious claims made by some religious people. Creationists in particular like to make all sorts of nonsense claims about evolution and science in general. These are nonsensical and inaccurate and deserving of correction. Hence the response. This is nothing to do with with their belief in their religion, but their misrepresenting science.

    (There is a connection, I believe, in that they have chosen a position that conflicts with evidence and their response far from accepting that there position was their choice, is to “attack” what doesn’t suit their beliefs by misrepresenting it. There is also a connection to power, something people don’t seem to talk much about. If religion really were just about their own beliefs for themselves as a personal matter, why would they put so much effort into trying to debase others and try impose their want?)

    Surely if you believe in “each to their own”, you’d be asking creationists and the like to stop making fallacious claims about science? I think if you look closer you will find that for many people, it is only the fallacious claims that they are responding to; they are not interested in questions of if religions are true or not as without evidence those claims are literally empty and moot to them.

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  18. onein6billion

    “would leave science alone in school”

    Tell that to the creationist chairman of the Texas State Board of Education.

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  19. In the light of what I previously wrote, it’s (dis)interesting to see “that place” offer up “Dr Flannagan will address the objection that Christianity is irrational in the absence of proof.” It seems to me that in order to do this, he would have to claim that empty claims can be more than empty claims.

    (Small correction to my previous post: one instance of ‘there’ should read ‘their’. *Sigh*. Then again I don’t put much effort into self-editing blog posts, often no effort at all…)

    onein6billion:

    I’ll say. One thing I don’t understand is how the chairman is allowed to try introduce amendment after amendment, after his initial ones fail. It doesn’t look try he is simply pushing his personal agenda, nothing more. On top of the arguments being irrational, him imposing himself on others, it strikes me as perverse that he is not limited to presenting what he wants once and that being it, rather than this extended let’s try and try again to bully my way thing that seems to be taking place.

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  20. Excuse my weird editing gaffes in my previous post. Probably trying to do to much at once!

    onein6billion: I gather we ought to also be telling that to the Senator (or whatever it is) who appointed the chairman, too…

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  21. John A. Davison

    I just stumbled on your blog and agree with everything you have presented. As one who has been banished from just about every blog both Creationist and atheist Darwinian in nature, I know from experience all about the sad state that evolutionary science has reached. The Dawkins/Myers biumvirate cannot last much longer.

    Sic semper tyrannis

    http://www.jadavison.wordpress.com

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