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The Name of the Link

Last updated on 22 Jun 2018

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Barry Barnes has a review of Massimo Pigliucci’s Nonsense on Stilts at the Notre Dame Review. It’s somewhat snarky:

I suspect that there is no way of presenting the knowledge and methods of the sciences to general readers that does not fail in some important respect. And the comparison of these with alternatives, whether those that engage in competition with the sciences, or those that pretend to be sciences themselves, or those that rub along with them, peacefully co-existing at other locations in our elaborate division of technical and intellectual labour, is inordinately difficult, as Pigliucci is obviously well aware. But he does not even try to meet the challenge this implies, choosing instead for the most part a facile approach that covers its limitations with the truculent style and affectation of contempt for one’s fellow human beings increasingly encountered in the literature of the science wars. The sciences deserve better than this.

Big Blog Theory is taking votes for the favourite Australian Science Blog. My netfriends Podblack Cat and Jack Scanlan are both listed as finalists.

The Australian Internet Filter is on hiatus, which means that there will be a review the minister will ignore, some cosmetic changes, and the removal of legal and legislative oversight. In short, they’re waiting until after the election to spring it on us.

The You’re Not Helping sockpuppet scandal continues. Apparently Chris Mooney is to blame for failing to know that his source was a sock. Please make sure that if you send me or Greg Laden any information, you clearly mark it when you are a sockpuppet, okay?

Sean Carroll is apparently now a theist. Just kidding; he’s just stated that the universe was picked out of the possible state space by some general principle. Put like that, it doesn’t sound so worrisome.

Jesse Bering takes Emily Nagoski to task. But he’s just some d00d. Ergo sexist.

Oh, and don’t be non-Muslim in Pakistan, or they will kill you and your family and then the police will be too scared to prosecute the imam who incited the murders. Looks like, Religion News, PZ and I got caught by this one, although he did spot that it was shaky. Turns out to be a Christian site’s invention to feed the martyr complex. Well spotted, PZ’s reader.


  1. Brian Brian

    *put’s on new atheist medallion*
    R.E. You’re not helping. As I understand it, the problem is that the story was so obviously questionable that Mooney should have used a bit of nous and realized it was just too good to be true. Not that it was a sock-puppet. Something your hirsuteness would never do. By the way I’m a sockpuppet of a guy called Brian.

    • Brian Brian

      obviously that was ‘puts’ and ‘Not [that the problem was with identity but] that it was a sock puppet’

    • John S. Wilkins John S. Wilkins

      I have been taken for the occasional ride, by a sockpuppet or two.

      Chris should have fact checked, perhaps, but it’s a blog. This is a blog. We do bloggy things. Sometimes we take a few shortcuts. I will cheerfully refund anyone’s subscription if they think I am doing that too much. I’m sure Chris will too.

  2. Brian Brian

    I have been taken for the occasional ride, by a sockpuppet or two.

    Well, I’m a Miss Universe contestant and I fancy you. No obligation sex available. Call me now on 5555 32123.

    There is reasonable and there is erm……Fact checking is irrelevant when the spiel is off the reservation.

  3. John, you’re not being fair about the Mooney thing. The point is that the guy told a very implausible story, but Mooney placed great weight on it as evidence of something or other. Some of us (i.e., including me) told Mooney at the time that the story was implausible and he was being gullible in using it. We didn’t need a retrospectoscope, and our judgment, gut feeling, whatever you want to call it, is on the record, as everyone acknowledges.

    It now turns out that there’s independent evidence that the guy who told the story is a serial liar. Mooney had no way of knowing this at the time, of course, but it would be nice if he’d review events and admit he was a bit overly credulous about the story itself.

    It’s one thing to let it sit there as a comment on his blog, not deleting it, but thinking, “Hmmm, I wonder if this is true.” It’s another to elevate it with fanfare from a mere comment to two separate posts of his own as “Exhibit A”, as he put it, for the case that Jerry Coyne and PZ Myers are doing some kind of horrible social harm.

    • John S. Wilkins John S. Wilkins

      No, I’m not being fair. I’m being snarky. Deliberately. Chris is sometimes silly but he gets unfairly attacked by various people and occasionally I think someone should stand up for him. Everyone is sometimes silly. I am often silly.

      • Brian Brian

        Interesting, so even though Mooney might have gone to far in this case, you’ll defend him because he’s had a lot of blow back? 😉

        • John S. Wilkins John S. Wilkins

          Yep. Consider me a kind of shit stirrer.

      • Brian Brian

        obviously that was ‘too’. Oh god dammit. No one will ever take me seriously at not being serious at this rate.

      • Brian Brian

        Yep. Consider me a kind of shit stirrer.
        Already did. I salute your snark. Consider me an obtuse tool if you haven’t already. Still, there is the matter at hand and when someone gives you everything you ask for and confirms all you wishes then you ought be a bit suspicious, especially if you’re a ‘serious’* Journalist, not just a nobody blogger.

        *The Murdochisation of journalism in Australia has convinced me that there probably is no such thing as a serious journalist.

        • John S. Wilkins John S. Wilkins

          As this review in, ironically, the WSJ, shows.

  4. I’m looking forward to reading Nonsense On Stilts, my copy should arrive any day now.

  5. Jim Menegay Jim Menegay

    Brian wrote: Still, there is the matter at hand and when someone gives you everything you ask for and confirms all you wishes then you ought be a bit suspicious, especially if you’re a ‘serious’* Journalist, not just a nobody blogger.
    This is not the first time I have seen this sentiment expressed regarding the troubles over at the Intersection. The NAs are gleeful. Chris’s sloppiness has given them everything they asked for and confirmed all their wishes.
    Regarding Barnes’s review of Pugilismo, he has some nice things to say about a fellow named Harry Collins who apparently hangs out in an ivory tower at the University of Cardiff. I wonder whether you (Wilkins) know much about him, practically being neighbors and all.
    “Jim Menegay” is not a sock puppet, but he plays one on the Internet.

    • Brian Brian

      Jim, I never asked for that. Where’s my beer volcano? I think you have a strange view if you think the NA’s have got what they wanted and confirmed all their wishes.

    • Iorwerth Thomas Iorwerth Thomas

      I’m not John, but I did find that Collin’s ‘Gravity’s Shadow’ provides a pretty good account of how physicists [1] actually operate.

      [1] Specifically gravitational wave physicists, but it generalises well.

  6. Perplexed in Peoria Perplexed in Peoria

    No NA glee at all at Chris’s embarrassment? Those “I told you so”s were all “More in sadness than in delight”? The story is being told and retold only as a warning to other bloggers that they shouldn’t trust their more sycophantic fans?

    Ok. If you say so. But please don’t quibble about the words “gives you everything you ask for and confirms all your wishes”. Those were originally your words, and my use of them was no more hyperbolic than your own.

    “Perplexed” is not a sock puppet either, though he sure looks like one.

  7. Brian Brian

    I used a bit of hyperbole, but it was as much as having a bit of fun with John as much as anything else. If you think the NA’s are responsible for what Mooney and others say (see Jeremy Stangroom’s recent attack) about them, or that some NA’s exhibiting glee means all NA’s are wrong, or I don’t know what then fair enough.

  8. Wes Wes

    I find it a little amusing that Mooney being taken in by a fake story is discussed in the same post in which you (and PZ) are taken in by a fake story. 🙂 Let this be a lesson to you all: If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is!

    “Wes” is a sockpuppet for Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, who is himself a sockpuppet.

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