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Another topic idea: Chris Mooney (does not) owe the world an apology
Posted: 12 July 2010 12:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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CMooney - 12 July 2010 09:19 AM

Darron is incorrect about various details of what happened with “Tom Johnson” (and many other things). The real story is here

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/intersection/2010/07/09/sock-puppets-and-tom-johnson-part-ii/

In order to back up my account, but also protect the real person at the center of this, I’ve shared information about that person with Jean Kazez and the commenter “TB” in that thread. They are keeping it private, but have independently reaffirmed the account and clarified various details that may seem puzzling to those who don’t know the tangled story.

chris

Chris, that is the same story Darron linked to. I read it already. It doesn’t add anything to the discussion. But why would you take steps to protect an identified ‘sock puppet’. Being a sock puppet should undermine his/her credibility to the point where you could not take anything else he wrote credibly without a considerable amount of independent verification.

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Posted: 12 July 2010 01:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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Quoting Stephen:

Goodness knows what all this is about but sure as hell I’d ban you too rather than listen to it.

Stephen

  Stephen, it’s apparent that neither of us know the history or enough of the whole story to comment intelligently.  That’s why I’ve kept my nose out of this thread.  Possibly your comment wasn’t based on enough of the causative information to justify it.

Occam

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Posted: 12 July 2010 01:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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Occam - 12 July 2010 01:43 PM

Quoting Stephen:

Goodness knows what all this is about but sure as hell I’d ban you too rather than listen to it.

Stephen

  Stephen, it’s apparent that neither of us know the history or enough of the whole story to comment intelligently.  That’s why I’ve kept my nose out of this thread.  Possibly your comment wasn’t based on enough of the causative information to justify it.

Occam

That is why I have asked Chris for his side of the story.

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Posted: 12 July 2010 01:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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Personally, I don’t find the issues or “misconduct” under discussion here particularly disturbing, and this thread seems largely an attempt to continue here a conflict that was shut down on Chris’ blog, with the thin patina of relevance being Chris’ status as a host of POI. Just as was the case when the decision to hire Chris was challenged, I find the allegations made a tempest in a teapot and not meaningful in terms of his work on POI, which has generally been quite good IMO.

I wonder if some of the problem here isn’t due to different conceptions of what a blog is?  I appreciate the value of free debate, and I don’t ban commentors on my blog just for disagreeing with me (which most do since those who agree tend to nod quietly rather than write impassioned comments). But I also don’t see doing so as a major ethical violation. A blog is not, after all, a public newspaper or media outlet but a platform for an individual or group to promote their agenda, and if they want it to be an exclusively supportive community, or if they prefer not to constantly answer aggressive criticism, that seems perfectly fair. In any case, hectoring someone here to justify their having banned you from their blog, and calling for a public apology for not adhering to journalistic standards of ethics on their blog, seems a bit melodramatic and self-serving to me.

The debate would be more interesting if it was less personalized and more focused on the core issues about the conflicts between science and religion and the merits of various strategies for skeptics and rationalists to address the public on these conflicts.

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Posted: 12 July 2010 02:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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mckenzievmd - 12 July 2010 01:54 PM

I wonder if some of the problem here isn’t due to different conceptions of what a blog is? 

Very good point Brennan.

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Posted: 12 July 2010 02:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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Occam - 12 July 2010 01:43 PM

Quoting Stephen:

Goodness knows what all this is about but sure as hell I’d ban you too rather than listen to it.

Stephen

  Stephen, it’s apparent that neither of us know the history or enough of the whole story to comment intelligently.  That’s why I’ve kept my nose out of this thread.  Possibly your comment wasn’t based on enough of the causative information to justify it.

Occam

I said goodness knows what this is all about, so it wasn’t based on any causative information.

I’m commenting on the persistance hounding nature of the posts, difficult to put into words but we can all get the tone.

Stephen

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Posted: 12 July 2010 02:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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mckenzievmd - 12 July 2010 01:54 PM

I wonder if some of the problem here isn’t due to different conceptions of what a blog is?...A blog is not, after all, a public newspaper or media outlet but a platform for an individual or group to promote their agenda…

Chris Mooney is an internationally known science writer and his blog is hosted by a major popular science magazine. His blog is a media outlet.

I appreciate the value of free debate, and I don’t ban commentors on my blog just for disagreeing with me (which most do since those who agree tend to nod quietly rather than write impassioned comments). But I also don’t see doing so as a major ethical violation.

What about allowing sock puppets and anonymous posters to spread lies about a particular person, then banning that person for defending herself? I see that as a major breech of ethics.

In any case, hectoring someone here to justify their having banned you from their blog, and calling for a public apology for not adhering to journalistic standards of ethics on their blog, seems a bit melodramatic and self-serving to me.

I remind you again, Chris Mooney is a professional journalist. He elevated a suspicious story from an anonymous poster to blog status without verifying the story. He did so to bolster his argument that new atheists are a major reason the general public does not like science and scientists. The story was a lie and the poster was a sock puppet. Dismissing it as “just a blog” is ludicrous. This thread directory addresses “the merits of various strategies for skeptics and rationalists to address the public on these conflicts. ”

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Posted: 12 July 2010 02:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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asanta - 12 July 2010 01:52 PM
Occam - 12 July 2010 01:43 PM

Quoting Stephen:

Goodness knows what all this is about but sure as hell I’d ban you too rather than listen to it.

Stephen

  Stephen, it’s apparent that neither of us know the history or enough of the whole story to comment intelligently.  That’s why I’ve kept my nose out of this thread.  Possibly your comment wasn’t based on enough of the causative information to justify it.

Occam

That is why I have asked Chris for his side of the story.

That is so obviously untrue, you’ve so obviously already taken sides and are hoping for more fuel to the fire.

Stephen

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Posted: 12 July 2010 02:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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StephenLawrence - 12 July 2010 02:22 PM
asanta - 12 July 2010 01:52 PM

That is why I have asked Chris for his side of the story.

That is so obviously untrue, you’ve so obviously already taken sides and are hoping for more fuel to the fire.

Stephen

Stephen, I’m surprised at you.  Normally you’re quite objective and base your comments on fact.  However, from what I’ve seen, Asanta has done just as she said.  I have seen no justification for your assumption of untruth.  Agreed that she appears to be concerned with the strength or veracity of Mooney’s prior statements, however, asking him to give “his side of the story” hardly seems to be “hoping for more fuel to the fire.”

Occam

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Posted: 12 July 2010 02:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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Occam - 12 July 2010 02:29 PM
StephenLawrence - 12 July 2010 02:22 PM
asanta - 12 July 2010 01:52 PM

That is why I have asked Chris for his side of the story.

That is so obviously untrue, you’ve so obviously already taken sides and are hoping for more fuel to the fire.

Stephen

Stephen, I’m surprised at you.  Normally you’re quite objective and base your comments on fact.  However, from what I’ve seen, Asanta has done just as she said.  I have seen no justification for your assumption of untruth.  Agreed that she appears to be concerned with the strength or veracity of Mooney’s prior statements, however, asking him to give “his side of the story” hardly seems to be “hoping for more fuel to the fire.”

Occam

Oh drat, maybe you’re right Occam!

Sincere apologies if so Asanta. (you know)

I’ve been detecting a kind of hounding ganging up procedure.

I guess I may well be wrong.

I aint going back to check

What on earth am I doing commenting in the first place.

I’ll exit. Anyone wanna talk about free will instead grin

Stephen

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Posted: 12 July 2010 02:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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I’ll exit. Anyone wanna talk about free will instead

I would, but I don’t like to jump into things unless I know what’s been covered and what’s going on.  And since I don’t have 70 years worth of spare time to read that thread, I’ll stay out.  smile

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Posted: 12 July 2010 02:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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Sorry Darron, but I disagree. This thread seems very much about playing out a personal conflict between you and Ophelia and Chris carried over from his blog. The issues raised in his book would be of general interest to the rest of the forum, and I suspect I’d be closer to your POV on them than you might think. But all this “How dare you ban me from your blog” stuff is narrowly personal and a bit distasteful. And in the rough-and-tumble marketplace of ideas, the kinds of things you’re accusing Chris of, even if true, strike me as small potatoes.

While you are well within the bounds of acceptable conduct as far as the forum rules go, you might ask yourself why at least three members have so far commented on their perception that the tone of the thread is unpleasantly hostile.

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Posted: 12 July 2010 03:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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Hi Asanta,

That *is* my side of the story. In fact, it is basically the only story there is, because it happened to me, and I am testifying firsthand.  So I have to point to it again:

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/intersection/2010/07/09/sock-puppets-and-tom-johnson-part-ii/

mckenzievmd: Do the rules allow commenters to make claims that are not only incorrect, but that they couldn’t possibly know to be true?

Consider the following:

“What about allowing sock puppets and anonymous posters to spread lies about a particular person, then banning that person for defending herself?”

How is Darron in the position to make a charge like this? How could he know that this is what happened? Was he part of the decision between myself and Sheril Kirshenbaum?

chris

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Posted: 12 July 2010 03:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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You are right Chris, I have no inside information on why you banned Ophelia Benson from your blog. I was taking her word for that. It does seem rahter pertinent, though, that you did not ban the sock puppets for trashing her for asking questions.

This thread has gone on long enough, and we are getting nowhere. Chris is obviously unwilling to confront the issue of him promoting a sock puppet’s lie without verifying the story. Now we have a moderator writing it off as merely a blog, as if journalistic standards don’t apply to professional journalists blogging on Discover Magazine’s web site. It is sad testament to today’s state of journalism when someone with community college journalism training and experience writing for a couple of small newspapers has higher standards than a well-known science writer with a degree from Yale University.

[ Edited: 12 July 2010 04:30 PM by DarronS ]
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Posted: 12 July 2010 04:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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Well I am in a position to know that I was banned, and that comments saying (falsely) that I had lied were left in place.

As for the larger issue - it’s far from purely personal. Mooney has written many harshly critical things about what he calls “the New Atheists” in major media outlets, in Unscientific America, and on his blog. Atheists are already a despised minority, for no valid reason, and Mooney seems to be trying to make them even more despised (even though he is an atheist himself - but he’s not a “New” one). Given this fact, I do think he should respond to his critics, and his blog is the obvious place to do it. It’s true that he doesn’t have to, but it’s not unreasonable to think he should. He’s lectured the University of Chicago geneticist Jerry Coyne on being more civil, but then ignored responses and questions. He can do that, it’s not agin the law, but I think he ought not to.

The way Mooney proceeds is not in the spirit of free or open inquiry. He doesn’t have to proceed in that spirit, but it does seem that it would be appropriate for a host of PoI to do so.

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