I get maybe a couple of emails a day on average from readers of this blog. Many are in the "thanks for being a voice of reason" type, but many are also of the "you're an arrogant idiot" type - many more of the first than the second though. But some of the second type are entertaining, in a perverse sort of way.
For example, I just received an email from one Stef Coburn, who really doesn't like this blog. I mean really. To the extent of 1800 words. Except that I find he wasn't really complaining about me, but about you gentle reader. Specifically, the regular commenters on this blog (you know who you are). It's a bit long and rambley, but it will become clear eventually. This was his original email:
Just came across your site and read through some of your postings growing steadily more appalled as I went. Finished up with your (and your various contributors) mind-bogglingly boorish, seemingly wilfully ever more progressively stupid treatment of a clearly well motivated if metaphysically confused single mother who after first making the mistake of describing her personally positive experience of 'The Secret', compounded this initial error in judgement with the naively mistaken impression that she was debating the subject with reasonable people. (as opposed to the pack of smugly self-satisfied pseudo-intellectual science-mullahs she had in fact fallen amongst) In maintaining and attempting to qualify her position, however ineffectually, in the face of the concerted and steadily more hysterically OTT attack you and your competitively-pissing pack-mates gratuitously subjected her to, this lady demonstrated a degree of 'grace' under fire as far beyond the capabilities of you and people like you as M31 galactic central is from whatever rock you live under.
For all your protestations of faux outrage at the (alleged) transgressions and emotional violations of Allison Dubois and her various ilk, it is my very strong impression that everything you people know about human decency and dignified restraint could be written on a post-it and posted in the Planck space. What could this lady have possibly said or done to deserve the treatment you all so joyfully meted out to her? Scientific knowledge and technological expertise, whilst, in themselves both the products and facilitators of human civilisation and intellectual progress clearly guarantee the presence of neither virtue in either their practitioners or their hangers-on. On the basis of your own ghastly expositions, I frankly don't think you or your cohorts would recognise a proportionate response, for instance, if it jumped up and spat in your eye.
Intellectual bullies like you have turned up (and continue with tedious regularity to turn up) throughout history, trumpeting their prejudices and inchoate or partial theories as fact or (paying lip service to reason) probable fact, in the name of science. (and 'natural philosophy' before there was any such thing as 'science') Often times these people have spent their entire professional or vocational lives putting the boot into others (as often as not as well 'qualified' as themselves) who, for whatever reason, have disagreed with them on this or that point of principle or order.
Far from any spirit of rational discourse and debate, the attacks you and people like you habitually and reflexively level at those who (whether logically or illogically) espouse theories, philosophies or, dare I say, 'beliefs' different in almost any significant regard from your (their) own, are frequently marked by a level of gratuitous (and, for the most part) entirely unnecessary and unrestrained viciousness levelled willy-nilly at their fellow beings, that, occurring in just about any other arena, than that sanctified by your supposed quest for 'truth' and, even then, more likely than not, safely insulated by physical distance, would likely quickly result in the reciprocal and entirely deserved visiting upon your physical person of what (to use a widely employed and understood oxymoron) is commonly referred to as 'a good kicking'.
So ******* what if you can, (as your fellow thug Tom Foss suggests he can) normalized a wave-function, describe the three-dimensional Time-Dependent Schrödinger Equation, or give the basic expression for momentum using the complex conjugate of the wave-function. As far as human consciousness is concerned (without which you could do none of these things) you simply don't know which way is 'up'. What (except in the most rarefied of circles) does it matter if you know what an eigenstate is or have any idea what value is represented by < a | a > if you can't comprehend the simple (anthropic) fact that without consciousness (which, despite the pretensions of intellectual nazis like you, you are no closer to understanding, let alone explaining than any rainforest native or Kalahari 'bushman') literally nothing would or could subjectively exist. As we only have, furthermore, our necessarily subjective human consciousness upon which to base and from which to derive whatever indicators we believe we have discovered, to the existence of a supposedly 'objective' universe 'external' in any meaningful sense to ourselves, in the absence of an explanation for this precursor 'ground' of our being, the jury, whether over-protesting dressed-up talking chimpanzees like you (or me for that matter) like it or not, can only be said to be stubbornly 'out' where the nature of 'reality' is concerned.
When you dream about a tree, I'll bet you waste not a moment doubting its existence, but only appreciate it as the source of equally unquestioned dream-fruit, or thankfully shin-up it to escape the equally substantial dream-tiger that is chasing you. When you 'wake-up' where is the tree? Who is to say that the World you perceive (and measure) in your alleged 'waking' state has any more 'objective' substance than the objects (and people) you experienced in your dream. Ever had a 'false awakening' where you thought you had awoken from one dream, only to find that you were still caught up in another? How do you know, as a matter of irrefutable fact that any such state as 'awake' even exists? To save you the bother, I'll answer for you here. Whatever comforting intellectual protestations and sophistry you may employ to argue otherwise, you simply don't.
Even assuming (for the sake of argument) the existence of the physical, you ultimately have to take it on 'faith' that the picture of the World (even you must acknowledge) you are constructing in your brain from the mish-mash (a technical term) of diverse electro-chemical impulses arriving there via your nerve fibres, corresponds to a commonly imagined but ultimately unprovable objective environment. For all you know, the 'laws' of physics only remain 'lawful' for as long as you continue to imagine them so. For all you know, you either have no physical 'reality' at all, or if you in fact do, are nothing more than a disembodied brain in a bucket, being fed (Matrix-like) a stream of data from which you elaborately derive the perceived entirety of your world. In either case, as with so called 'lucid' dreaming, who is to say that the 'rules' of the game are anything like as fixed as people like you commonly assume? Who is to say that merely by 'believing' otherwise, the world, or to make a critical distinction, an individual's subjective experience of the world (the only kind of experience we can prove - cogito ergo sum) cannot be altered to suit whatever belief system or cloud-cuckoo land fantasy we can dream up? Who is to say that each of us does not constitute the perceptual centre of our own separate idiosyncratically constructed 'parallel' universe, in which all imagined facts and figures are uniquely formed by and channelled through our own biased (this way or that) perceptual moulds and filters?
Please note carefully here, that I am not insisting that any of this is so, merely that, as things currently stand, neither you nor anyone else can prove that it is not so. Your broadly demonstrated arrogance therefore is simply that; you abrogate to yourself, an absolute knowledge that you (in common with all the other 'pro-simians' with whom you share (or appear to share) existence, simply do not, possibly even cannot, have. This being irrefutably the case, (though you're certainly welcome to try and prove otherwise - knock yourself out) it therefore behoves all of us to behave with at least a modicum of humility, particularly in regard to our fellow beings.
Put simply, as no-one can state with any certainty that they know (as opposed to merely believe or think they know) how the World works, but everyone knows when they're being unjustly 'dissed' or dismissed, it is, at least 99.999 percent of the time, more important (certainly more consequential) therefore to be nice than right. No matter how infuriating the widely demonstrated human aversion to logic and applied reason can seem, in the face of this or that 'beautiful' body of theoretical or experimental so-called 'knowledge', except in the most extreme cases where others, acting out of degradation, prejudice or malice, have set themselves against us, laws of courtesy and common decency must take clear and constant priority over whatever body of abstraction we might philosophically adhere to. To do otherwise is to act as the catholic and muslim (to name but two) so-called, self-appointed, religious 'authorities' have historically acted toward those who have not enthusiastically echoed (if not necessarily shared) their own imperialising brand of unproven and unprovable superstition. When you castigate and condemn people as 'pro-simians' or 'dipshits' merely for disagreeing with you, regardless of their education or lack of it, how is that different in substance from advocating the excommunication or even (metaphorically at least) the burning or stoning of those you consider to be either 'heretics' against, or infidel unbelievers in 'holy' science? When you apply glib contemptuously dismissive labels like 'woo woo' to your fellow humans, how is that different in any substantial regard to the application of other terms of prejudicial abuse like 'untermenschen' 'split-tail' or 'nigger'? You use 'woo' in the exactly the same way, after all, to set yourself apart from a perceived underclass to whom you flatter (and likely delude) yourself, you are in some way superior. When I refer to you and people like you as intellectual 'bullies', 'thugs' or 'nazis' on the other hand I am merely applying the widely understood appropriately descriptive terms for the kind of (unkind) person who, instead of engaging in properly civil rational discourse to settle differences or convey information, prefers instead to resort to fundamentally anti-intellectual intentionally destructive, prejudicial put-downs against people who, regardless of (perceived) educational shortcomings or philosophical differences, are as deserving of courtesy and consideration as any of your (perceived or imagined) peers.
Explain to anyone who cares by all means, wherever possible, in words of one syllable if you have to, (or even can) the difference between the 'scientific method' and other less disciplined forms of thought, but the aggressively hostile hysterical emotionalism with which you leap to attack those not manifestly privileged with your (here assumed - after all I don't know you from mythical Adam) education, constitutes behaviour which the so-called 'enlightenment' of science is supposed to steer us (as a species) away from rather than simply instantiating new barbarism and division in the place of the old.
Oh yes and for ***** sake learn to spell!
P..S. There are more things in Heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy. My money's on the LHC won't find 'superpartners' black-holes or the 'Higgs particle; the 'standard model' and the 'big-bang' are wishful figments of human imagining; and all those frightfully clever chaps and chappesses at CERN are going to be scratching their primate heads and revising their exorbitant budgets for a long long time to come.
(Note - I ****ed out the f-words. Not that I'm especially prudish, but I have managed to avoid them so far in my actual posts, if not the comments, for over three years, and I'm not letting this jackass be the one to change that.)
Anyway - a confused person and a confusing email. "Learn to spell"? I know I'm not a great speller, which is why I put everything through a spell checker. Typos, yes. Spelling? Really? But apart from that, this was nothing more than the usual badly reasoned rants we have some to expect.
- Falsely conflating science and religion
- Ad hominem
- False analogy - confusing difference of opinion with pointing out lack of evidence
- Implied threat of violence
- Science doesn't know everything
- Comparisons to the nazis (because pointing out that something is contradicted by the evidence is exactly the same as killing 6 million Jews)
- Appeal to be open minded
Probably some others - he tends to repeat himself. But in all that, I didn't see anything that he could point to that I actually got wrong in any of my posts. So I replied:
So what, exactly, do you think I got wrong in any of my posts. Apart from spelling.
Just wondering. Because you don't seem to have come up with anything.
Fairly simple question. But apparently, despite his anger at all he dislikes about this blog, one that he was unprepared to answer. He replied:
This just a quick first response, my blow by blow analysis of the correspondence that ticked me off will follow in due course.
I have not so far suggested (though this will likely change) that you have inappropriately alleged or ignored any specific known or published and peer-reviewed scientific theory or established 'fact'. I know nothing of your personal history, cultural or ethnic derivation, professional qualification (or lack thereof), or gender specificity. For all I know you could be a fully paid up scientific professional with degrees up the wazoo and a 'cream of the crop' intellectual ego to match, or you could be a student tyro with unfulfilled aspirations jacking up their lack of self-eteem by getting together with other bullies to beat-up people you think lesser than yourself.
My contention, Sir or Madam, is that whilst you may or may not consider yourself an officer, you are neither gentleman nor lady.
As for what I think you got wrong, try switching on the other hemisphere of your brain and reading my mail again.
Note he hasn't suggested I have ignored studies, but he knows that (once he works on it) he will be able to show that I have. So decision made before evidence examined - how closed minded of him. Typical woo, of course. Anyway, I replied:
So you've got nothing. Didn't think you did.
He replied with the barely comprehensible:
Told (you fatuous twat) full critique of your correspondence with Mora on the way (including all the 'straw men' arguments you and your idiot pals set-up and attributed to her then shot-down to make yourselves seem relevant in front of Randi and your fellow co-religionists) will take time to assemble (so as not to miss anything) Currently has low priority though as I have much much better things (though not necessarily more enjoyable things) to do. Gist of it is you're a pretentious jumped-up arsehole which I'll have no trouble demonstating [sic] as and when I can get round to giving the irksome crap you belaboured that poor lady with the benefit of a properly forensic analysis..
Aah, how gallant - coming to the defense of a "poor lady". Rather condescending to her though in my view. Also the gallantry was sort-of spoiled by the vulgar language. And the spelling!
But he also gave the first clue about what it was he was so angry about. "Mora". Presumably this Mora who commented on my The Secret post. The Mora who I never replied to myself - several others did, but I didn't. (I only have so much time, and I don't see that I have to reply to all comments - especially if someone else is dealing with it.) I guess he never noticed that at the bottom of each comment, just after the words "Posted by:", there is the name of the person who wrote and posted the comment. And it wasn't me who replied to her. (Not that I necessarily disagreed with what anyone wrote, but everyone has their own style, and I'm not responsible for what anyone else writes.) Yes, this clown read comment after comment, thousands of words, and apparently couldn't figure out that there are people other than me commenting here. I guess he's not familiar with this new-fangled "blogging" idea. What a jackass.
Anyway, I thought I'd post his criticisms here so that the commenters he's critical of can read what he is accusing them of and reply if they want. I expect he'll comment here eventually too. Assuming he figures out what the "Comments" link below is for.
Oh and Stef - watch your language please. I don't mind a few F-words but don't go overboard. (And read the Comment Guidelines.)