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PZ Myers - Science and Atheism in the Blogosphere - Comments

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 1 by mordacious1

Always love to listen to PZ, and Point of Inquiry does a good job interviewing.

...convert people to critical thinking. Tough job.

"...the conservative churches are force-feeding kids nonsense". Science gives them the ability to question this nonsense. Succinct.

Fri, 20 Jun 2008 21:11:00 UTC | #187056

Elles's Avatar Comment 2 by Elles

PZ Myers and I now have something in common. We've both been on Point of Inquiry! (For those interested, it's not because I'm a famous person with an Internet alias. I was on "Student Freethinkers Speak Out" last December representing the small number of high school students who have secular campus groups.)

Carry on.

Fri, 20 Jun 2008 23:47:00 UTC | #187095

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 3 by mordacious1

Elles

I listened to that broadcast. High schoolers of today are extremely lucky to have various means to express their opinions. In my day, we had a stupid student newspaper, where the staff was chosen by the principal and reviewed by him. Now you have the internet, what a wonderful way of getting involved and actually being heard. Even though you were on the radio, your broadcast could be heard online around the globe. You are growing up during a wonderful time. Stay involved, always let your voice be heard.

Fri, 20 Jun 2008 23:59:00 UTC | #187100

AtheistJon's Avatar Comment 4 by AtheistJon

Yes, when I was in high-school (I lived in San Diego), the only exposure to other atheists that I had was the Madelyn Murray O'Hair, American Atheists show, and it was short, not associated with science, per se, and unprofessional.

I really enjoy these atheist/science blogs... So, I am happy to see it flourish.

One aspect that I slightly dislike is the way that atheist blogs tend to be so politically dogmatic. I always end up having political arguments rather than discussing science or atheism. I wish these blogs would be as open politically as they are in terms of science.

The other thing I dislike about blogs is that the discussions are very chaotic. You make a statement and there are so many other conversations going on that you generally don't get your voice heard unless you join somebody else's discussion. Also, people misinterpret very easily because they cannot possible read all entries and so miss points that were made in the past.

There is room for improvement in the format of this blog. If, rather than text only discussions, we would start using YouTube video short clips, it might make for more interesting discussions.

That being said, I'm still very happy about this era of blogs on the internet!

Sat, 21 Jun 2008 02:05:00 UTC | #187130

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 5 by Steve Zara

I am a bit cautious about blogging in general being that effective. It reminds me of the Tom Lehrer song "The folk song army":

If you feel dissatisfaction,
Strum your frustrations away.
Some people may prefer action,
But give me a folk song any old day.


If we are going to be effective we need to do more than just "blogging our frustrations away", that is, unless we are sure that our blogging in a way that has an effect. Blogging alone is not action. For those without the huge audience of PZ Myers it can be equivalent to a conversation between friends in a pub. One puts the world to rights over a beer, but nothing changes.

Blogs can be used to discuss ideas, and to arrange campaigns. They can also be used as a resource, where one can archive thoughts and links.

But unless there is visibility, blogging alone is not a step forward, I think.

Sat, 21 Jun 2008 02:38:00 UTC | #187134

Barry Pearson's Avatar Comment 6 by Barry Pearson

At #197073 AtheistJon said: One aspect that I slightly dislike is the way that atheist blogs tend to be so politically dogmatic. I always end up having political arguments rather than discussing science or atheism. I wish these blogs would be as open politically as they are in terms of science.

The other thing I dislike about blogs is that the discussions are very chaotic. You make a statement and there are so many other conversations going on that you generally don't get your voice heard unless you join somebody else's discussion. Also, people misinterpret very easily because they cannot possible read all entries and so miss points that were made in the past.
I believe these blogs are good for sharing information and developing ideas. That is how I use this one.

I believe blogs like this part of the website are poor for debates and arguments, which is what comments sometimes turn into. Threaded forums are better for that.

(I'm not sure what the best format for a "rant" is! Probably getting down on your knees, putting your hands together, closing your eyes, and talking to yourself).

An improvement I would like is always to have the date of the original material clearly identified. One recent article quoted in full a 2001 article in a newspaper without giving the date. With no reason to go to the original article, I wonder how many people realised that it was old news?

I wrote the above before this was posted:
At #197077 Steve Zara said: If we are going to be effective we need to do more than just "blogging our frustrations away", that is, unless we are sure that our blogging in a way that has an effect. Blogging alone is not action. For those without the huge audience of PZ Myers it can be equivalent to a conversation between friends in a pub. One puts the world to rights over a beer, but nothing changes.

Blogs can be used to discuss ideas, and to arrange campaigns. They can also be used as a resource, where one can archive thoughts and links.
Precisely! I like to quote to myself (and sometimes to others, which probably irritates them!) "I am in the solution business, not the debating business".

The reality check is "what difference will what I am writing make to the Real World?"

Sat, 21 Jun 2008 02:46:00 UTC | #187135

AtheistJon's Avatar Comment 7 by AtheistJon

If we are going to be effective we need to do more than just "blogging our frustrations away", that is, unless we are sure that our blogging in a way that has an effect. Blogging alone is not action. For those without the huge audience of PZ Myers it can be equivalent to a conversation between friends in a pub. One puts the world to rights over a beer, but nothing changes.

Steve, I agree with you. But, then this begs the question, why do we continue this way? You're probably the most prolific blogger on this site? Is there anybody who has posted more?

What would be a good alternative activity in your opinion?

I have to say, that conversations on this blog have (as of yet) not led me to one concrete action... so I am 100% guilty of the beer hall atheism... perhaps I need to change my avatar ;-)
...Now there's something concrete to talk about when people tell me to get off my high horse ;-)

Now that I think about it more... I think the thing that really attracts me to this site are all the video/audio postings of professionals that are way better than what used to be available in the general media.

EDIT
I believe these blogs are good for sharing information and developing ideas. That is how I use this one.

Barry, I agree here, also, but the chaos does tend to make the sharing and developing of ideas very laborious and difficult. I recently started using those other forum blogs, and they tend to be less chaotic than these feature article discussion threads.

Would you concur with that? In other words, are the forum threads more constructive? Or is that just beginners luck?

Sat, 21 Jun 2008 03:00:00 UTC | #187136

ksskidude's Avatar Comment 8 by ksskidude

Elles,

Its pretty cool to be able to express yourself to a large audience. It makes you feel like your doing a small part in potentially changing the world. While I have not be on Point of Inquiry, I have been fortunate to be a guest on The Infidel Guy Internet broacast, "healing Without God" is the title of the show. It was alot of fun, and very rewarding.

i am off to the golf course now, 6am local time, but will listen to PZ as soon as I return. I always learn a great deal when listening.

Sat, 21 Jun 2008 03:04:00 UTC | #187137

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 9 by Steve Zara

Steve, I agree with you. But, then this begs the question, why do we continue this way? You're probably the most prolific blogger on this site? Is there anybody who has posted more?


I am nowhere near the volume of others, such as Al-rawandi in full flow.

Also, I would not call this blogging myself. Blogging is when I post on my own site (sorry to be pedantic).

I continue here to rehearse tactics, to exchange ideas. I have learned a lot, and it has been useful. I have publicly (albeit in writing) debated theists elsewhere, and I believe those debates have been successful, because of what I have learned here. This site is also visible. People have come here to try and show that they can "deal" with us "militant atheists", and the consequent interactions here are followed by many, I am sure. There have been important discussions and demonstrations of tactics by epeeist and Brian English recently.

This is where we can "spar" in public and if we do so carefully, we may have an impact.

Sat, 21 Jun 2008 03:14:00 UTC | #187139

AtheistJon's Avatar Comment 10 by AtheistJon

I continue here to rehearse tactics.

Yes, it's sort of like a video game called, "virtual arguments".

It's funny how, when you engage in argumentation, it forces you to think about what you really believe... it's harder to challenge ones own arguments alone. Especially, if you haven't been doing it for long.

Sat, 21 Jun 2008 03:19:00 UTC | #187142

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 11 by Steve Zara

Comment #197086 by AtheistJon

Absolutely. I used to think that non-supernatural dualism was a reasonable idea until I came here.

Sat, 21 Jun 2008 03:21:00 UTC | #187143

AtheistJon's Avatar Comment 12 by AtheistJon

What's non-supernatural dualism?

EDIT. By the way, have you considered trying your hand at debating theists, publicly and not in writing, i.e. on a stage somewhere? I think I would enjoy seeing that. I wonder if Richard Dawkins would arrange for you some such session... I think so many people on this blog know you, so it would be a good "consciousness raising" event. Or maybe you against al-Rawandi? Pick a topic. ;-)

Sat, 21 Jun 2008 03:23:00 UTC | #187145

Goldy's Avatar Comment 13 by Goldy

But, then this begs the question, why do we continue this way? You're probably the most prolific blogger on this site? Is there anybody who has posted more?
Dunno about Steve, but I find it cathartic. Otherwise the students I work with would have to put up with my ranting against the sheer fuckwittery of life that's been addled by superstition and idiocy. I write because I have to tell people how fucking wrong they are and that I can't believe grown people can be so fucking stupid. And hopefully, fingers crossed, there's someone somewhere that might, just might, read my diatribe or even my fairly well researched answer to a question and think, actually think, that maybe they are wrong and that maybe, just maybe, there's something other than some god or fairytale that has real meaning in life.
And, as Steve said, one learns so much, not just about life, the universe and everything, but on how to talk to those that are....damn, what can I say...people that I cannot comprehend, people that I cannot see getting through a day never mind a whole lifetime. I can, here, talk to people who are in my mind more intelligent than any I could ever hope to meet and people who really should have been institutionalised for their extreme lack of intelligence.
This site is a drug. I'm hooked.

Sat, 21 Jun 2008 03:33:00 UTC | #187149

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 14 by Steve Zara

Comment #197089 by AtheistJon

What's non-supernatural dualism?


That there is some extra factor that makes up our minds, that is more than just the activity of neurons. One example is the ideas of the philosopher David Chalmers.

By the way, have you considered trying your hand at debating theists, publicly and not in writing, i.e. on a stage somewhere? I think I would enjoy seeing that.


I would be very reluctant. Such debate are won by rhetoric, not by facts. It can be about who talks more loudly and faster.

The kind of debate I enjoy is like this:
http://zarbi.livejournal.com/135785.html

you against al-Rawandi? Pick a topic. ;-)


I would not stand the slightest chance, either in terms of facts or energy!

Sat, 21 Jun 2008 03:37:00 UTC | #187152

Apathy personified's Avatar Comment 15 by Apathy personified

Steve,

On your list of reasons why you post, surely you forgot, 'because it's fun'.

A lot of my friends aren't interested in the issues we discuss here, so it's great to have the chance to at least see the debates, even if i choose not to post.

Sat, 21 Jun 2008 03:44:00 UTC | #187153

AtheistJon's Avatar Comment 16 by AtheistJon

The kind of debate I enjoy is like this:
http://zarbi.livejournal.com/135785.html

Jeez Louise, that's more like a short book or magazine article than a debate... To me this kind of debate is in the famous words of Bart Simpson, "Boring"... I much prefer short back and forths. Although, I don't mean that it should be a sound-bite debate. Facts are essential to good debates, but a main thing about a good debate is it's good arguments. Arguments don't always have to be 3 pages long.

Sat, 21 Jun 2008 03:45:00 UTC | #187154

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 17 by Steve Zara

Comment #197097 by Apathy personified

On your list of reasons why you post, surely you forgot, 'because it's fun'.


Also naive optimism. I have this dream that someone - even if it is only one person - who comes here supporting creationism or ID will, when it is pointed out that trying to persuade us to abandon the tested work of generations of biologists based on their personal opinion of science and an old book, realises how deeply arrogant and embarrassing that is (I get embarrassed just reading their posts), and they say "Oh dear! I do look a twit, don't it? Terribly sorry to bother you".

Perhaps if those who post here don't, the message may get across to others who don't. Even if they don't change their minds, they may actually realise it is a good idea to shut up.

Sat, 21 Jun 2008 03:51:00 UTC | #187156

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 18 by Steve Zara

Comment #197098 by AtheistJon

OK then... this:
http://atheistandchristiandialogue.blogspot.com/

Sat, 21 Jun 2008 03:54:00 UTC | #187157

AtheistJon's Avatar Comment 19 by AtheistJon

OK then... this:
http://atheistandchristiandialogue.blogspot.com/

Yes, that's much better. I wonder why you think you couldn't use your, IMO, excellent writing skills, and convert them to oral debate sessions? You seem to blog pretty fast... I wouldn't think that doing it out loud would present you much of a challenge? Unless you suffer from stage-fright... in which case, a few good sessions of Karaoke singing might help get you ready.

Anyway, sorry for pushing it on to you, if you are dead set against it. Just thought it would be valuable to get to know your face and voice. ;-)

Sat, 21 Jun 2008 04:03:00 UTC | #187158

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 20 by Steve Zara

Comment #197102 by AtheistJon

I am pretty much against it. I don't much suffer from stage fright - in past years I have been a regular lecturer and teacher of university students.

Those debates were on specific topics, and time could be taken to respond. Spoken debates are about pace. They aren't usually about exploring issues, but about making the best impression.

It reminds me of Scott Adam's assessment of who usually wins presidential elections - the one who is tallest and with the best hair.

Sat, 21 Jun 2008 04:18:00 UTC | #187159

Frankus1122's Avatar Comment 21 by Frankus1122

Steve Zara said:

I am nowhere near the volume of others, such as Al-rawandi in full flow.


Other comments by Steve Zara: 5398
Other Comments by Al Rawandi: 4185

Sat, 21 Jun 2008 05:09:00 UTC | #187167

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 22 by Steve Zara

Comment #197111 by Frankus1122

Not fair. I started much earlier. There was also the Dianelos debate. A detailed statistical analysis is required.

Sat, 21 Jun 2008 05:17:00 UTC | #187169

Frankus1122's Avatar Comment 23 by Frankus1122

Goldy:

This site is a drug. I'm hooked.


I know what you mean. As I said earlier I will be without Internet access for most of the summer. Although I will most definitely enjoy my time with my children in the wilds of north-eastern Ontario, it may seem a bit like rehab at first.

As to the point of these threads and blogging:
I was thinking it could be like adding straw to a camel's back.
RtG and txp and the like must at some point get overwhelmed by the evidence against their position. And if not them, then the others who silently observe.
If all one hears is the rantings of the preacher on Sunday about the evils of Darwinism they have here an alternate source of information. If they are truly honest with themselves about discovering truth they have a source of it here.
I prefer the "naive optimism" of Steve.

Sat, 21 Jun 2008 05:25:00 UTC | #187171

robotaholic's Avatar Comment 24 by robotaholic

cool - I love Point of Inquiry too - I listen to it every week - and of course PZ - I want to subscribe to both their magazines lol -

One Point of Inquiry show made me mad tho - it was the one where Chris Hedges talked about his new book "I Don't Believe in Atheists"- First he came out with a pretty good book criticizing religion and then his second book (just for the sake of controversy IMO) criticized alot of the "new atheists"-

I don't know about you, but my favorite writers, bloggers,etc are the ones that totally FLAME religion harshly - those weak, mild, moderate atheist are bla to me. I like how PZ says "I'm pushing at the edges- speaking out for people who havn't really had a voice in America for a long time" he "sqwaks loudly" lol - and he really has made me appreciate cephalopods lol

Sat, 21 Jun 2008 05:56:00 UTC | #187178

AtheistJon's Avatar Comment 25 by AtheistJon

By the way, guys. To back up my opinion that video is good... I just wanted to try posting a video blog.

So, I made a video blog introduction of myself on YouTube.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1J_ukU_fII

Feel free to make any constructive criticism.

If anybody (obviously not Steve) ever wants to debate with me over this medium... I am now prepared for you! Bring it on ;-)

I warn you that I'm a novice with almost zero debate experience, but I'm ready to get me ideas challenged.

Sat, 21 Jun 2008 05:57:00 UTC | #187179

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 26 by Steve Zara

Comment #197123 by AtheistJon

Sorry, I misunderstood you.

Video blogging debate is fine by me. (Not that I particularly fancy it myself)

I assumed you meant some sort of live debate.

Sat, 21 Jun 2008 06:04:00 UTC | #187180

AtheistJon's Avatar Comment 27 by AtheistJon

Well, I did mean live debate. It's okay... if you don't like that, it's no sweat... Personally, I've never participated in live debate (other than in my high school civics class)... but I enjoy it much more than text based debates. This is because people on blogs tend to say a lot more venomous things than when they are talking with people live.

I guess the video blog idea was just because I wanted to break open my new camera and try out my hand.

EDIT: I don't know what the hell happened with the audio-video timing... hmm I need to figure that one out before I blog that way ;-)

Sat, 21 Jun 2008 06:09:00 UTC | #187182

AtheistJon's Avatar Comment 28 by AtheistJon

I don't know about you, but my favorite writers, bloggers,etc are the ones that totally FLAME religion harshly - those weak, mild, moderate atheist are bla to me.

Define moderate atheist.

I consider myself a full-fledged hardcore atheist, but I don't like to FLAME anybody, unless they FLAME me first.

You know in the Selfish Gene, RD talks about Tit-for-Tat strategy and nice strategies. I'm a Tit-for-Tatest (or maybe a 2 Tits for Tat) kind of guy. So, if a religious nut case will talk with me reasonably, I won't immediately jump down his throat and threaten to call the insanity ward to come pick up an escaped prisoner... I'd rather use the power of persuasion in a non-flaming way.

If that doesn't help, then it's almost better to just avoid discussing altogether. No point duking it out with insults. You might as well challenge them to a duel, or at least a boxing match... it'd probably be more productive (unless you are going up against Mike Tyson... I'm sure he's a religious nutcase by now).

Sat, 21 Jun 2008 06:31:00 UTC | #187185

robotaholic's Avatar Comment 29 by robotaholic

when I say FLAME the religious I mean “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

Sat, 21 Jun 2008 07:04:00 UTC | #187200

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 30 by mordacious1

robotaholic

Yes, I agree with you about the Hedges interview. I didn't get mad, just rolled my eyes. But this is ok, we don't just need to hear things we agree with.

AtheistJon

Video debates: Have you ever seen a video of clearth..I mean David Robertson? That guy is hard enough to take in writing, without having to see and hear him. Way too much for my senses.

Ps. did you notice how, by the third post, I was able, not intentionally, to derail the thread? This is a problem, but sometimes it goes in a good direction. It is when you have a poster with an ax to grind, like DR, that the threads can be all on the same subject. Trying to make mincemeat out of DR, for example.

Sat, 21 Jun 2008 07:21:00 UTC | #187206