What Happens When Research Yields Unpopular Findings

Georg Cantor: Why’s everybody always picking on me?
After learning the gabbling Stephan Lewandowsky was able to complain in the Associate for Psychological Science’s Observer magazine that some loon called him a self-contradictory bad name, I became curious about that official organ. Were all articles as sloppy, whiny, and unhinged? Or was this an aberration?

In the same issue was “Inconvenient Truth-Tellers: What Happens When Research Yields Unpopular Findings” by Scott Sleek, which opened:

Throughout history, scientists have found themselves the subject of scorn, slander, ridicule and even violence when their discoveries have failed to mesh with authoritative doctrine or public sentiments…After Galileo’s telescope challenged the belief that the sun orbited the earth, the Holy Office of the Inquisition accused the astronomer of heresy and sentenced him to house arrest.

No aberration, then.

A man purporting to be a scholar latching onto the worn Galileo myth. How banal. Galileo’s house arrest was not for “challenging” the belief about orbital dynamics. And Sleek forgets it was fellow academics who refused to look through Galileo’s telescope, not the church, which is more to the point.

But [scientists] still face the enmity of people who simply don’t believe the empirical results or who have a vested interest in the status quo. Individual ideologues, interest groups, industry lobbies, social networks, and even policymakers freely lash out at researchers whose work threatens their belief systems or their livelihoods.

Scientists do face enmity for their beliefs; they do endure acrimony; they do suffer ignominy—but the most vicious and wounding attacks come from fellow scientists, not civilians. Georg Cantor, anybody? Alfred Wegener? How many stories do we know of men whose work was vilified, whose livelihoods were trashed but who saw ultimate vindication (usually after death)?

Then there were the fellows whose views were wrong but who were not politely informed. They were attacked and eaten alive in academic feeding frenzies. B.F. Skinner, Emanuel Velkovski. I’m still waiting for Fisher to get his for cursing us with p-values and eugenics (beloved anew by a fresh generation of the Enlightened).

Why are scientists’ attacks so cruel? Because they know better than anybody else how to best stick it to you. They know just who to whisper to behind your back. They know who’s in charge of funding and are pals with the dean and journal editors. A nastier group cannot be found outside a girl’s locker room after cheerleading practice. What harm can a civilian do besides hurting the feelings of overly sensitive coddled academics by calling them bad names?

Scientists are too used to deference. This attitude might have been the proper reflexive stance for civilians back when the number of scientists was small and the preponderance of their work sterling. But now when PhDs are minted faster than plastic Halloween decorations at a Chinese factory, and the quality of their research of the same durability as spiderwebs in a can, the appropriate response is, “Is this guy for real?”

Sleek calls his enemies “Deniers”, that most asinine of labels. Not only is it offensive, but implicit in it is the fallacy of our generation, the idea that whatever a scientist says is true. What cheese. What an affront to sanity. What gall.

Licking his papercuts in public, Sleek sniffs that, “Psychological researchers have in no way been immune to” attacks Now I wonder why. Frontal lobotomies ring any bells? Phrenology? Recovered memories? Life-long analysis? Drugging twelve year-old boys to make them act like five-year-old girls? Psychology has been an uninterruptible font of cockamamie theories. Why shouldn’t every new idea be greeted suspiciously? Especially when some diploma-wielding nut is dashing toward you or your issue intent on implementing his “science.”

Funny Sleek should bring up Elizabeth Loftus, for whom I have said before I have tremendous respect. Her work “drew considerably hostile reactions when her studies challenged people’s claims that they had uncovered—often with the help of therapists—repressed memories of abuse, molestation, and even alien abduction.” This is true, but what slick Sleek forgets to say is that most of the abuse Loftus suffered was from rival self-certified experts. How many pickets of citizens did Loftus push her way through? I’ll tell you: none.

It’s almost as if Sleek, and every Sleek-like scientist we endlessly hear from, has no idea of the history of intellectual thought.


  1. MattS

    “It’s almost as if Sleek, and every Sleek-like scientist we endlessly hear from, has no idea of the history of intellectual thought.”

    Are you trying to compete for the understatement of the century award?

  2. Briggs


    Why? Is there a cash prize?

  3. Nate

    Most scientists learn from the same school system that teaches the rest of us – memorization of the correct way to do X, regurgitation of the appropriate talking points, and use of this or that formula to perform this or that calculation. The “why” of the calculation, and how it was discovered, is never bothered to be taught – after all, it’s correct, right? I don’t think this is new, however, and it pre-dates formal schooling. I do think that formal schooling has made this natural tendency to search for so-called experts worse.

    Human intellectual thought throughout history seems to be full of conservative (in the dictionary sense) experts, whether academics, shamans, priests, and bureaucrats who have determined the correct viewpoint, and severely punish any who dare think an incorrect thought.

    I wonder sometimes if it has to do with personality – that eventually, in all fields of human endeavor, the “sensing” personalities take over, determine the so-called “facts” and the correct way to think about them, and drive out the remaining intuitive folks.

  4. Scotian

    Yes indeed Briggs,
    You can add quasi-crystals (Dan Shechtman) and medical hygiene (Ignaz Semmelweis) to the list. I would leave out Emanuel Velokovski and claim that he had more in common with Lewandowsky, but I won’t debate the matter.

  5. Briggs

    M Craig,

    I’m commenting on that tomorrow.

  6. DAV

    Michael Craig,

    Thanks for the link. Luboš makes some good points.

  7. Ken

    “Yesterday I was a dog.
    “Today I’m a dog.
    “Tomorrow I’ll probably still be a dog.”
    – Snoopy

    BRIGGS CLAIMS: “A man purporting to be a scholar latching onto the worn Galileo myth. How banal. Galileo’s house arrest was not for “challenging” the belief about orbital dynamics.”

    WHAT THE THEN-POPE ACTUALLY SAID (translated Papal Condemnation of June 22, 1633): ‘Whereas you, Galileo, son of the late Vaincenzo Galilei, Florentine, aged seventy years, were in the year 1615 denounced to this Holy Office for holding as true the false doctrine taught by some that the Sun is the center of the world and immovable and that the Earth moves, and also with a diurnal motion; … and in this divers propositions are set forth, following the position of Copernicus, which are contrary to the true sense and authority of Holy Scripture:

    “The proposition that the Sun is the center of the world and does not move from its place is absurd and false philosophically and formally heretical, because it is expressly contrary to Holy Scripture.

    “The proposition that the Earth is not the center of the world and immovable but that it moves, and also with a diurnal motion, is equally absurd and false philosophically and theologically considered at least erroneous in faith….

    We say, pronounce, sentence, and declare that you, the said Galileo, by reason of the matters adduced in trial, and by you confessed as above, have rendered yourself in the judgment of this Holy Office vehemently suspected of HERESY, namely, of having believed and held the doctrine—which is false and contrary to the sacred and divine Scriptures—that the Sun is the center of the world and does not move from east to west and that the Earth moves and is not the center of the world; and that an opinion may be held and defended as probably after it has been declared and defined to be contrary to the Holy Scripture; and that consequently you have incurred all the censures and penalties imposed and promulgated in the sacred canons and other constitutions, general and particular, against such delinquents. From which we are content that you be absolved, provided that, first, with a sincere heart and unfeigned faith, you abjure, curse, and detest before use the aforesaid errors and heresies and every other error and heresy contrary to the Catholic and Apostolic Roman Church in the form to be prescribed by us for you.”

    That from: http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/galileo/condemnation.html (the complete trial transcripts, translated to English, are at: http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/galileo/galileo.html & other famous trials in history at http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/ftrials.htm )

    OBVIOUSLY, there was no ‘challenge involving a belief about orbital dynamics’ – a belief easily held when one refuses to acknowledge well-documented reality. That’s a position the Catholic Church has worked very very hard to reconcile, spending well over a decade concocting some not-quite-so-embarrassing honest twisting of the facts (e.g. http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/history/world/wh0005.html ) — One can review the transcripts and see the obvious in a tiny fraction of the time. The Catholic Church held a scripturally-based position of Earth-centricity, warned Galileo about challenging that official truth (1616 edict where he was to both relinquish that belief and stop teaching it). Galileo didn’t. The issue was entirely about orbital dynamics per science vs. per ecclesiastical authority. The link, immediately above (this paragraph), is a typical Catholic twisting of facts and includes the following in its closing:

    “Galileo’s condemnation was certainly unjust, but in no way impugns the infallibility of Catholic dogma. Heliocentricism was never declared a heresy by either ex cathedra pronouncement or an ecumenical council.”

    Read the excerpt, above, from the actual Condemnation – “heresy” [put in CAPITALS] WAS formally used, contrary to the Catholic assertion to the contrary.

    Right there (Briggs assertion vs. what the historical record actually documents) is a small case-study in what happens when one is confronted with facts that challenge one’s beliefs – one tends discount or deny the facts to retain the belief; the more one has worked to invest in the belief the more one is inclined to do this. Self-delusion comes first. Then the believer is inclined to engaged in perpetuating/maintaining the same delusion in others. People work very hard to maintain a belief – selectively accepting facts & related information to maintain a desired viewpoint. Scientists are just one professional class exhibiting this human trait, they work hard, get data, develop a theory that’s accepted as fact and are naturally loath to toss it away later.

    Fundamentally, this is the same dynamic as a student that spent considerable time writing a report and the next morning finding some major editorial issues and who will then typically work harder to edit than scrap & start over; or the investor that just can’t dump that stock that’s lost value (it MUST go back up!); or, Karl Rove in 2012 citing various stat projections & refusing to accept Pres Obama’s obvious re-election—prompting Megyn Kelly’s famous retort, “Is this just math you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better or is it real?” …or…to believe one’s Catholic Church at all costs, selectively choosing the Church propaganda, even contribute to it, but avoid like the plague any objective review of the actual transcripts of the proceeding at issue. Even after painting oneself into the proverbial corner, many if not most of us are more inclined to assert (and actually believe) we meant to do exactly that which we clearly didn’t. We humans are more inclined to work to preserve some belief than accept a painful reality.

    At its core this is a form of Pride. One of the so-called seven deadly sins (as Wiki notes: Pride is an inwardly directed emotion, a satisfied sense of attachment toward one’s own or another’s choices and actions, or toward a whole group of people, and is a product of praise, independent self-reflection, or a fulfilled feeling of belonging – a definition that unmistakably aligns with the above examples).

    Where it truly gets evil is where the “delusion” is absent, and the facts are just plain embarrassing some people, especially institutions, will go to extraordinary lengths to ensure the truth is withheld (to present a false façade to the public or other constituency), irrespective of social conventions, laws, or even some meager attempt at compensating horribly scarred victims. Such as: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/07/02/documents-show-cardinal-dolan-top-u-s-catholic-official-shielded-pedophile-priests/

    Say what one will, this was, is, and will continue to be an intrinsic facet of the human condition. One is much better off learning & discussion coping techniques than whining about it.

  8. Briggs

    Ken, or shall I call you Simplicio?,

    You make a good prosecutor, but not a good historian. It is proper to quote all the best evidence, not just that which accords with your belief.

  9. Joshua

    ==]] Ken, or shall I call you Simplicio?, [[==

    Good thing you object to the term “denier,” eh? Because, you know, “denier” is such an asinine label.

  10. Craig Porzondek

    You guys or gals need to get [out more] – I know some Amish with some very sweet sheep!

    Edited You should know better.

  11. Briggs


    Yes, truly.

    And may I also guess from your comment that you are a history major?

  12. Gary

    None so blind, etc. Do these folks EVER look in the mirror?

  13. conard


    I agree that Cremonini was either a coward or willfully ignorant– he had a great deal of staus and power to protect from his own self-doubt. But despite Ken’s ‘F’ in history you must admit that the Church’s influence was far from benign and the Dialogue was an insult the Church would not tolerate. It was well known what it meant to tangle with the Church’s rather infamous legal body. Que the Phtyons …

  14. Ray

    Dr. Melvin First, Harvard School of Public Health, coauthored a study in 1975 to evaluate the health implications of environmental tobacco smoke and gave the results of air samplings at restaurants, cocktail lounges, transportation terminals etc. They found that the concentration of tobacco smoke was equivalent to smoking about 0.004 cigarette an hour while in these facilities. The study was funded by the Massachusetts Lung Association. Since they couldn’t claim that second hand smoke was going to kill you, they never released the report. That’s what usually happens when the research doesn’t yeild the desired results.

  15. Joshua

    Not a history major. I majored in the rhetoric of snotty insults.

  16. John M

    I bet you made the Dean’s list.

  17. Tom C

    Great post! Written with real verve.

  18. DEEBEE

    Joshua, I understand the first four letters of your name. They indicate the spirit in which to take your remarks. But I am trying to decipher the last two. Is that like. A primal call of completion of the first four

  19. DocMartyn

    “After Galileo’s telescope challenged the belief that the sun orbited the earth, the Holy Office of the Inquisition accused the astronomer of heresy and sentenced him to house arrest.”

    A popular view, but alas, not exactly what he was on trial for. The main and most charge was his commentary on the Bible itself; Galileo had written: “There are in Scripture words which, taken in the strict literal meaning, look as if they differed from the truth,”
    His prosecuter Lorini substituted: “which are false in their literal meaning“. Making better calendars was not a big problem to the Church, BUT, laymen interpreting scripture is parking a tank on the Churches lawn and started the whole turf war.
    With regard to skeptics/warmists don’t you think it ironic that the Church noted that Galileo corresponded his heresy with a German mathematician (the Protestant Johannes Kepler) and that the Protestant churches made Galileo a hero?

  20. John Moore

    @Doc has got it right.

    @Ken needs to discover what “ex cathedra” means.

  21. Ken

    FROM BRIGGS: Ken, or shall I call you Simplicio?, You make a good prosecutor, but not a good historian. It is proper to quote all the best evidence, not just that which accords with your belief.


    1) If quoting the actual transcripts from a trial, which is the subject of the discussion, AND providing the links to the entirety of the historical record of the trial is “not a good historian” what is? The history cannot get any more complete than that. Selective parsing & quoting out of context (e.g. Doc, above) may give a desired answer, but that’s not the “whole truth” and thus a distortion.

    2) In lieu of actually addressing any fact with a counter interpretation, other facts, etc, you immediately resort to the ad hominem personal attack: “shall I call you Simplicio?” That is not in keeping with the professional, objective, analytical person you often otherwise endeavor to market yourself as.

    And that is why you’re employment suffers. Your blog is part of your resume & reputation — your character, and the sort of trolls you inspire, comes out…and who wants to introduce that, or even be associated with that, in their workplace?

  22. Ken

    @ John Moore: “@Doc has got it right. … @Ken needs to discover what “ex cathedra” means.”

    “Ex Cathedra” means the Catholic Pope is infallible (the term itself is of medieval origin, as is the concept; see: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05677a.htm). This is something the Church, or its followers invoke on its behalf. Let’s see how well that actually works:

    1633: Pope Urban VIII convicts Galileo.
    Vatican II (1962+): Attendees, per Pope Benedict XVI (former Cardinal Ratzinger) recognized the Galileo conviction was wrong, in 1962! Pope Benedict XVIII’s quote attesting to this is below.
    1962: Cardinal Ratzinger, and other Catholic Church officials, honed to the privately held belief that Galileo’s conviction was wrong as they entered the Vatican II proceedings (per Pope Benedict XVIII’s [former Cardinal Ratzinger] farewell speech in2013, excerpt below).
    1990: However, in contrast, Cardinal Ratzinger stated, officially & publicly, Galileo’s conviction was “rational and just.” Actually, he said much more & the quote is below — again citing Galileo’s heretical act being associated with a heliocentric viewpoint & teaching.
    1992: Pope John Paul II expressed regret at the way Galileo had been treated: : “The error of the theologians of the time, when they maintained the centrality of the Earth, was to think that our understanding of the physical world’s structure was, in some way, imposed by the literal sense of Sacred Scripture,” he said.
    2013: Pope Benedict XVIII (former Ratzinger) states the 1633 Church was in error.

    So there’s an exquisite example of Papal infallibility — one infallible pope reversing his predecessor’s infallible, but it turns out wrong, conviction and subsequent popes citing the Galileo case as being a Church error. So much for ex cathedra/infallibility. Not only that, one very senior guy (Ratzinger) expresses a position consistent with the 1633 wrong conviction AFTER attesting he–and other senior Church officials–thought it was wrong decades earlier (i.e. they thought it was wrong at least as early as 1962, but pretended it was correct in the meantime ’til 1992). That probably comports with the definition of “hypocrisy.” That ‘honing to the party line’ behavior is indistinguishable from political machinations of any hierarchical organization (government or commercial) — it is not what one expects from a Church organization purporting to be subservient to an all-knowing, eternally judging, and all-powerful deity. But there it is. Ex Cathedra/papal infallibility may seem profound to those that switch off their critical thinking capacity (it certainly was to medieval thinkers having no scientific findings to support alternative theories), but aside from the pomp & circumstance that goes the invocation of papal infallibility (ex cathedra) when we actually ‘look at the man behind the curtain’ we see one guy after another behaving & talking exactly as people have done & do in all large organizations throughout history–fallibly and inconsistently in a pattern consistent with self-serving self-interest.


    In 1990 future Pope, Cardinal Ratzinger quoted an Austrian philosopher who said Galileo’s conviction was “rational and just.” Actually, he said much more:

    ” Today, things have changed. According to Bloch, the heliocentric system—just like the geocentric—is based upon presuppositions that can’t be empirically demonstrated. Among these, an important role is played by the affirmation of the existence of an absolute space; that’s an opinion that, in any event, has been cancelled by the Theory of Relativity. Bloch writes, in his own words: “From the moment that, with the abolition of the presupposition of an empty and immobile space, movement is no longer produced towards something, but there’s only a relative movement of bodies among themselves, and therefore the measurement of that [movement] depends to a great extent on the choice of a body to serve as a point of reference, in this case is it not merely the complexity of calculations that renders the [geocentric] hypothesis impractical? Then as now, one can suppose the earth to be fixed and the sun as mobile.””

    – Reference: From a speech given in Parma, Italy, March 15, 1990, titled:“The Crisis of Faith in Science,” partly reported in Il Sabato, March 31, 1990, pp. 80ff, and in the Corriere della Sera, March 30, 1990, and cited in 30 Days, January 1993, p. 34, and referenced also by Atila S. Guimarães in “The Swan Song of Galileo’s Myth,” published by Tradition in Action, nd. Paul Feyerabend notes: “Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who holds a position similar to that once held by Bellarmine, formulated the problem in a way that would make a revision of the judgement [against Galileo] anachronistic and pointless. Cf. his talk in Parma of 15 March 1990….As witnesses the Cardinal quoted Ernst Bloch (‘being merely a matter of convenience the scientific choice between geocentrism and heliocentrism cannot overrule the practical and religious centricity of the earth’), C. F. von Weizsäcker (‘Galileo leads directly to the atom bomb’) and myself (the chapter heading of the present chapter)” (Against Method, 3rd edition, Verso, London, New York, 1975, 1996, p. 134). Feyerabend’s “chapter heading” states: “The Church at the time of Galileo not only kept closer to reason as defined then and, in part, even now; it also considered the ethical and social consequences of Galileo’s views. Its indictment of Galileo was rational and only opportunism and a lack of perspective can demand a revision” (ibid., p. 125).

    In his farewell address (Feb 2013) Pope B. XVI said the following (much in reference to Vatican II):

    ” So we went to the Council not only with joy, but with enthusiasm. There was an incredible anticipation. We hoped that everything would be renewed, … And we knew that the relationship between the Church and the modern period was a bit in conflict, beginning with the error of the Church in the case of Galileo Galilei; we thought we could correct this wrong beginning and find the union between the Church and the best forces in the world in order to open up the future of humanity, to open true progress.”

    – Reference: Pope Benedict’s farewell address to priests at the Vatican, as reported by L’Osservatore Romano, February 14, 2013, page 4, paragraph #5 in the article “Al concilio pieno di entusiasmo e speranza.” The fifth paragraph in the original Italian is: “Allora, noi siamo andati al Concilio non olo con gioia, ma con entusiasmo. C’eras un’aspettativa incredibile. Speravamo che tutto si rinnovasse, che venisse veramente una nuova Pentecoste, una nuova era della Chiesa, perché la Chiesa era ancora abbastanza robusta in quel tempo, la prassi domenicale ancora buona, le vocazioni al sacerdozio e alla vita religiosa erano già un po’ridotte, ma ancora sufficienti. Tuttavia, si sentiva che la Chiesa non andava avanti, si riduceva, che sembrava piuttosto una realtà del passato e non la portatrice del futuro. E in quel momento, speravamo che questa relazione si rinnovasse, cambiasse; che la Chiesa fosse di nuovo forza del domani e forza dell’oggi. E sapevamo che la relazione tra la Chiesa e il periodo moderno, fin dall’inizio, era un po’contrastante, cominciando con l’errore della Chiesa nel caso di Galileo Galilei; si pensava di correggere questo inizio sbagliato e di trovare di nuovo l’unione tra la Chiesa e le forze migliori del mondo, per aprire il futuro dell’umanità, per aprire il vero progresso. Così, eravamo pieni di speranza, di entusiasmo, e anche di volontà di fare la nostra parte per questa cosa.”

    Ex Cathedra from New Advent dot org: The phrase ex cathedra occurs in the writings of the medieval theologians, and more frequently in the discussions which arose after the Reformation in regard to the papal prerogatives. But its present meaning was formally determined by the Vatican Council, Sess. IV, Const. de Ecclesiâ Christi, c. iv: “We teach and define that it is a dogma Divinely revealed that the Roman pontiff when he speaks ex cathedra, that is when in discharge of the office of pastor and doctor of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, by the Divine assistance promised to him in Blessed Peter, is possessed of that infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed that his Church should be endowed in defining doctrine regarding faith or morals, and that therefore such definitions of the Roman pontiff are of themselves and not from the consent of the Church irreformable.”

  23. Mike B.


    Since you fancy yourself such a fine historian, do you know what pursuit Galileo engaged in while under “house arrest”?

  24. Joshua

    ==]] you immediately resort to the ad hominem personal attack: “shall I call you Simplicio?” [[==

    Yes, but denier.

    And denier is so asinine.

    Clearly, William is deeply offended by asinine.

  25. Briggs


    Look here, young man. You have been offered the chance to do your homework and neglected it. I give you one last opportunity before I have to verbally spank you. And, being the generous, loving fellow that I am, I give you a hint: look up Simplicio.

  26. David L. Hagen

    Most people citing the Church vs Galileo are unaware that the real cause of Galileo’s trial was the “Liga”, a secret conspiracy of disgraced Aristotelian professors from the University of Pisa. See:
    The Galileo Connection By Charles E. Hummel, 1986 p92

    “Disgruntled professors at Pisa now allied themselves with a set of courtiers at Florence in a secret and loosely organized resistance movement known as the Liga.14 The leading figure was the Florentine philosopher Ludovico delle Collombe. Later in 1611 he published in Italian a treatise that began with traditional arguments against the earth’s motion but ended with quotations to show that such motion was incompatible with Holy Scripture. If Galileo could not be beaten by purely scientific arguments, the Liga resolved to take the battle into theological terrain. Nicknamed the “pigeons” (colombi) after their leader, that academic group comprised the “conspiracy” of which Galileo often spoke.

    This was really an appeal to authority against the scientific method.

  27. Joshua

    What’s in a name, Briggs?

    Why offer the name if not as an insult? How is referencing a simpleton who makes ineffectual arguments not asinine?

    How about if I started calling you Adolph? Would that be asinine?

    And please stop fantasizing about spanking me. It’s creepy.

  28. Briggs


    You, sir, must be a product of an elite university. Nothing else explains your “outraged” ignorance.

    Even offered two chances, one with a blatant hint, you have failed to move beyond the narrow bounds of your biases.

    This is a product of extreme laziness or unwarranted certainty in your abilities to know without having to have first learned.

    One last chance: look up the name in context, and see how it was used here in that same context.

    I despair at our nation’s youth.

  29. Joshua

    I’m not the slightest bit outraged. In fact, I’m amused, primarily at your faux outrage about the term denier, when you then turn around and engage in precisely the same juvenile (name-calling) form of discourse.

    There is no valid reason for you to have offered to refer to Ken as Simplicio. It was name-calling, flat out. And your “threat” was no less juvenile.

    And now you have now compounded your failure to hold consistent standards, with name-calling directed my way? And as if that wasn’t enough, you’re piling on with two flat-out logical failures: Assuming you know what I know about the context for your name-calling,and assuming that you know anything at all about my educational background. I could add your assumptions about knowing my age, but I will grant that age is always relative.

    Don’t despair. This is all far less important than you think it is, and your extrapolation about it somehow having deeper societal meaning is fatally flawed by your problems with simple logic. Just relax a bit, and go back to your starting orientation here. You are absolutely right to criticize labeling and name-calling. So show that your criticism rests on a consistent approach to principles and standards. I’d say that there’s alreadyt far more than enough hypocrisy in the blogosphere, no need for you to add even more.

  30. Briggs


    You, sir, are a wilful idiot. Your behavior, asinine; your manner, deplorable; your intellectual curiosity, non-existent.

    Since you are unable or, worse, unwilling to look up the name, I am forced to inform you that “Simplicio” was the name Galileo chose for one of the characters in his book. It was intended as a clear insult to the man who thought he was Galileo’s friend, the Pope. The circumstance of Galileo’s trial had everything to do with theology and nothing to do with physics. My point with Ken, who was smart enough not to take it as an insult, was to remind him of this fact. Galileo, like you, acted like a spoiled brat.

    Other commenters below even provided links to these very facts, which you could not be bothered to check.

    Tell me: was I right about your being a graduate of an elite university? What was it, a “studies” major? “Social justice”? For God’s sake, don’t admit it was history.

  31. Joshua

    ==]] Tell me: was I right about your being a graduate of an elite university? [[==

    William. I provided you with more than a hint. I told you, flat-out, in fact, that you were wrong. Now obviously you are capable of simple logic – so why did it escape you in this instance? Perhaps you think that you can make certain deductions on the basis of my email address? What would lead someone so capable of sophisticated logic to make such elementary logical errors?

    Further, providing the context as you did does not change that you employed juvenile name-calling in precisely the manner as that which you (rightly) decry. Piling one with more frantic logical errors and name-calling in defense of your juvenile behavior does change that said juvenile behavior

    Galileo chose the name as an insulting one for someone who makes ineffectual arguments (in disagreement with his perspective). You knew Ken’s name, but you asked him if you should refer to him as an ineffectual simpleton. By what measure is that not juvenile (asinine) name-calling?

  32. Briggs


    You’ve gone feminine on us. You’re no longer arguing the facts, on which you were wrong, but on how the facts were argued. Good grief.

    Ken is a long-time commenter here, and we are old sparring partners. He knew just what I meant about my reminder (the history) and its purpose (a mild joke). Then you come alone and pretend to be outraged for “poor Ken”. Ken can take care of himself. In your frenzy, you never bothered to look up the facts, despite being given several opportunities to do so. And then after being force-fed them, you carp about the manner of the argument.

    (Not a history major, then?)

    Listen. Just drop it and let’s talk about something more interesting.

    Incidentally, to other readers: I never use your emails for any purpose. Many of you use obviously false ones, only because WordPress forces you to pick one to comment.

  33. Joshua

    ===]]] He knew just what I meant about my reminder … [[[===

    Indeed he did:


    Ken on 6 November 2013 at 10:56 am said:

    In lieu of actually addressing any fact with a counter interpretation, other facts, etc, you immediately resort to the ad hominem personal attack: “shall I call you Simplicio?”


    ==]] Then you come alone and pretend to be outraged for “poor Ken”. [[==

    Once again you are mistaking “outrage” for simple amusement, along with an explanation of your logical failures and the inconsistencies and selectivity in your argumentation. I am not the slightest bit “outraged” by someone calling someone else a name in the blogosphere – any more than I am by kids calling each other names in the schoolyard or people flinging Jell-O in a middle school lunchroom food fight. It happens all the time. It is a fact of life. Nothing to be outraged about.

    I am pointing out that your approach to name calling is not consistent. That tells you nothing, whatsoever about how I feel about name-calling.

    I’m not even outraged by you sexist comment – although it looks a bit like you’re trying to evoke a response of outrage so that you can fit me into your “PC” confirmation bias. Your sexism comment is your business. There are a lot of sexist comment out there, and sometimes sexism has significant impact, and sometimes, when it is shown in a blog comment somewhere in the blogosphere, it as no real impact of significant at all other than to reveal something about the views of the person who wrote the sexist comment. Why would I be outraged that you would make a sexist comment? I used to work construction. I don’t have delicate sensibilities.

    ==]] Incidentally, to other readers: I never use your emails for any purpose. [[==

    So you are saying that you didn’t make your laughably false conclusion about my educational background on the basis of looking at my email address?

    Only you will know for sure, William. But tell me what you found in my comments so characteristic of someone who attended an “elite” university, and that led you to draw laughably wrong conclusions about where I went to school — in comparison to no doubt the many other comments folks have made here in disagreement with you, and to which you did not respond with such laughably bad speculation?

  34. Briggs


    If I offered you an ice cream cone, would you stop then? You’re not only boring me, but surly everybody else, too.

    In future comments (do stick around, but on other topics), here’s a hint: edit.

  35. Joshua

    People can choose to read as they wish. My comments can only bore someone who chooses to read them. If they find them boring, they will simply stop – which obviously you have not done. Blaming me for your/their boredom is based on a failed concept of “personal responsibility.”

    And I’ll let you edit as you read. It’s more challenging that way.

  36. Briggs


    “I’ll let you edit as you read. It’s more challenging that way.” That, brother, is the truest thing you have said.

  37. John M

    Looks like Joshua is trying to ruin yet another blog.

    Since I can’t be bothered to read everything he writes, has he pretended to whine to momma yet?

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