Banishing Anonymity

Recently I had an exchange with the estimable scientist John A. Davison, who is also an iconoclastic, full-time gadfly to anyone involved in the Darwinism-Intelligent Design Debate for Loquacious Yahoos, which I will simply abbreviate as DIDDLY. (The practical significance of this debate is, indeed, DIDDLY-squat.)

Having spent a lifetime annoying orthodox TENS evolutionists and orthodox Christians, Davison is very concerned with the current state of Internet discourse, specifically the problems of banishment and anonymity. 

I have been banned from both “liberal” and “conservative” sites, just because I stated an opinion that made the blog owner uncomfortable. I have also been completely blocked from viewing a site. What is the point in that? Such priggish insecurity is pathetic. I have found that evolutionists in particular have little tolerance for dissent, so when I go to their forums I veil my criticism in velvet words.

I have concluded that many blog owners are trying to create a kind of social experiment as art. That is, they imagine that they can attract enough supporters to make them feel loved, as well as enough detractors to make them feel important. In the end, however, they expect everyone to bow to their rhetorical authority, like characters in a novel that are strongly delineated but ultimately work out the author’s intended plot. They are “Howard Roark” types who want full control over their creations, that is, their precious blog posts and the derivative comment threads.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with this as such, since each blog or forum is a kind of “private property”; but it does denigrate the idea of the “public forum.” The problem with the World Wide Web is that it has become a grotesque version of a Jeffersonian democracy, in which everyone is a small landholder and a supposedly a direct political participant, but there is no single common space where each one can be heard by everyone else in a meaningful way. This bloated global populism is ultimately rather unfulfilling for someone with the sensibilities of a New England town-hall populist. (Jefferson, by the way, ended up advocating a “New England town-hall” style democracy that he called “ward government.”)

Davison is convinced that the intolerance of blog/forum owners is related to the prevalence of “anonymity” on the Internet:

There is a clear correlation between anonymity and intolerance which characterizes every weblog of which I am aware. The higher the percentage of anonymous users, the lower the quality of the dialogue. 

However, he doesn’t really mean anonymity; what he really means is pseudonymity.

Anonymity is what you get in a crowd of corporate clerks, communist laborers, Black Friday consumers, football fans, soccer hooligans, revolutionary sans-culottes, blipvert victims, Hitlerjugend, ants, cancer cells, Agent Smiths, Democrat/Republican straight-ticket voters, and mass-suicide cult members. The way of the crowd is broad, and it leads straight to hell. 

Pseudonymity comes from abandoning the identity conferred on you by your parents, your traditions, your government, your employer, or your marketing demographic profile, and choosing to create an identity from scratch. Naturally, since it lacks depth and breadth, such an identity is going to be insecure. It is made even more unstable if it is based on an idealistic social arrangement that follows the American Idol model:  that is, a blog.  

Concealing one’s “actual” identity is admittedly discourteous, as everyone instinctively knows in real life. What has happened on the Internet is that “identity” has taken on a new meaning that looks a lot like an archaic  meaning.

In the distant past of Euro-American culture, and yet today in some tribalistic cultures elsewhere, identity was wholly dependent on family unit and place. In such a culture, “individual” identity was unthinkable, and tribal identity plays out in modern terms as resistance to the concepts of intellectual property and plagiarism, as well as obsessions with “saving face” and ritual conformity.

Other traditional Euro-American concepts of identity have included national, ethnic, religious, regional, imperial, and global identities. All of these traditional identity paradigms are now being challenged as arbitrary and superfluous. They are being replaced by a kind of neo-tribalism that is situated in webspaces and characterized by intentional family units. Neo-tribalism (or Neo Tribalism, if you prefer) also has little regard for 19th-century American ideas about intellectual property, and is obsessed with blog buzz and netiquette.

Thus, humans are now attempting to supplant their biological and ethnogeographical origins as sources of identity, by using ephemeral technological constructs that perform the same function. Marshall McLuhan, where are you? You died too soon.

Without the guiding hand of a global imperial government, it is now impossible to establish and verify a “true” identity in the traditional sense. That is the way in which we are achieving a form of the tribal model, in which identity is confirmed by the testimony of those who “know” you personally. Yet, if it is merely a biological/geographical referent, it means nothing to someone on the other side of the world who sees you only through the lens of the Internet.

That is why Davison’s Internet adversaries are so unhappy with him:  he throws off the equilibrium of their arguments, on which their identities depend. He is unquestionably an accomplished scientist and professor who could trash an intellectual lightweight like Myers or Dawkins in a matter of minutes. His existence as a scientifically credentialed evolutionist who argues against natural selection is acutely embarrassing to the phony political animals who are trying to promote collective sanctification through evolutionary theory indoctrination. Yet, he also maintains that there may not have been a single divine creator or creation event; that any divine creators of the past are probably dead now; and that we are now poised to take over that role by becoming transhumanists. So, he also has no friends among creationists; and he even causes friction among his natural allies, the  somewhat incoherent advocates of intelligent design. 

Davison, an anarchist at heart, responds to this commotion about DIDDLY with a standard line:

I don’t need a fan club and I thrive on abuse.

I love it so!

Go in peace, buddy.

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32 thoughts on “Banishing Anonymity

  1. God bless you Brainbiter. You are my kind of independent thinker. Keep the pressure on the Philistines on both sides of the “debate that should never have been .” It is great sport!

    Good luck!

  2. Dave

    I do not regard myself as an anarchist at all. I am just a hard headed physiologist who is interested in how things work as well as well as how they don’t work. Neither atheist Darwinism nor Biblical fundamentalism have anything to do with the twin mysteries of ontogeny and phylogeny. The truth lies elsewhere. My papers summarize where I think that may be.

  3. Thanks for the comments, John. Anytime there is a debate that only includes “both sides,” I get suspicious.

    Now then, I know lots of people are touchy about the label of “anarchist.” But I would call someone an anarchist who breaks up a wrestling match between two opponents by smacking both of them and claiming that the whole thing is staged.

    Also, anyone who is devoted to core principles will seem like an anarchist to an idealist who is devoted to building his own little political party.

    My idea of anarchism is heavily influenced by Jacques Ellul, whose writings can be found here:

    http://www.jesusradicals.com/theology/jacques-ellul/

  4. Thank you for allowing me to hold forth. I am not a philosopher: I am a scientist. My hero is Albert Einstein and like Einstein I am a strict determinist. I don’t mind being called a gadfly or even a troublemaker, but I balk at being called an anarchist. An anarchist believes in no political authority. I am a staunch political conservative who believes in the rule of law and the sanctity of human life. That is one of the reasons I have no respect for Godless Darwinism. Like other forms of liberalism, Darwinists are relativists with no core values whatsoever.

    Nominally I am a Roman Catholic which may seem like a contradiction considering some of my writings. I feel that the Christian ethic is the most magnificent ideal ever conceived and I am not inclined arbitrarily to deny the present existence of God. My position on such matters is a matter of record so I won’t try to explain it here. I didn’t become a Catholic until I was seventy, now a decade ago. Let’s just say I am taking no chances. I see that Tony Blair recently abandoned the Anglican Church to embrace “the one true faith” as well, although he didn’t wait as long as I did. I say good for him! My essays clarify my position and are available on the introductory page of my weblog.

    I recommend Thomas E. Woods’ book, “How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization” for Catholic and non-Catholic alike.

    What galls me is the arrogance with which homozygous atheists like Paul Zachary Myers and Richard Dawkins treat Christians. For the life of me I cannot understand what they hope to achieve. I have concluded that they were “born that way” or as Christ put it – “Forgive them father for they know not what they do.” The hard part is forgiving them.

  5. I’ve listened to several audiobooks by Thomas Cahill, and he tends to follow that theme. I’ll have to see if any of Woods’s books have come out on audio.

    I find myself to be quite sympathetic with Catholics, as they seem to be good company. One of my favorite living writers is the Catholic historian John J. Reilly, who can be found on my blogroll.

    I mainly differ with Catholics on theological matters, I think. But there is a wider gulf between me and the scientific atheist; he likes to pretend that he has no beliefs, and consequently he is blown about like a kite in a hurricane.

    It is one thing to say you are not a philosopher, meaning I suppose that you make no attempt to systematize your beliefs. It is quite something else for the scientific atheist to refuse to confront his own beliefs in a rational, objective manner; and finding no rational thoughts in himself, to thereby conclude that he has no beliefs. This, of course, is the way of the Buddhist, as Sam Harris explicitly tells us. These so-called rationalists don’t seem to realize which direction they are heading, because they have forgotten which religion and culture spawned scientific rationalism.

  6. Dave

    Darwinians, who are all atheists by definition, most certainly do not pretend they have no beliefs. Quite the contrary, they maintain they have all the answers. They worship the Great God Chance. Their altar is a roulette wheel, flanked by a pair of very fuzzy dice. As near as I can tell they are nearly invariably political liberals. They naturally gather together in intellectual ghettos like Pharyngula, Panda’s Thumb, EvC and richarddawkins.net, giving real substance to Cervantes’ quip –

    “Birds of a feather flock together.”

    They not only have a God, Charles Robert Darwin, but a host of Saints, Stephen Jay Gould, Ernst Mayr, Paul Zachary Myers, Richard Dawkins, William Provine, Allen MacNeill, etc, atheists all.

    Darwinism is the longest lived fantasy in the history of human thought, dwarfing the Phlogiston of Chemistry and the Ether of Physics.

    As for not being a philosopher I find myself once again in agreement with Albert Einstein –

    “Upon reading books on philosophy, I learned that I stood there like a blind man in front of a painting. I can grasp only the inductive method…the works of speculative philosophy are beyond my reach.”

    There is one philosopher for whom I have enormous respect, Frederich Nietzsche, famous for his –

    “Gott ist tot.”

    One cannot die before having lived. To claim as the Darwinians insist that not only is there no God but that there never was one, renders their view of the world absurd.

  7. I know that the disciples of Darwin have beliefs, of course, but one of their common claims is that they don’t. Belief, they say, is faith, which they despise; and since they claim to know what is true without faith, they say they have no beliefs, only positive knowledge. This is all a semantic game with them, because they want to cast all of their opponents as unscientific, superstitious fools. That is why one of my hobby-horses is pointing out their superstitions.

    Here is a whole site devoted to the core superstition about “no beliefs”:

    http://www.nobeliefs.com/

    Unfortunately, philosophy suffers from the same kind of distortions. Personally, I blame Heidegger for turning philosophy into a joke, but I know there are others just as incomprehensible. I would never call myself a philosopher, because it is too closely associated with pretentiousness and obfuscation, especially on the part of the paid teachers of philosophy.

    Of course, there have been many philosophers who leveled the same criticism at other philosophers: Socrates, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Santayana, and Sartre, to name a few. I loved Nietzsche when I was 16, but when I was older I discovered that his greatest insights were said better by Kierkegaard, some 40 years earlier.

    The famous statement itself didn’t originate with Nietzsche, and can be found at least as far back as Hegel in 1802. It signifies only the essential irrationality of atheism, which denies both the past and the future of humanity.

  8. Also, considering Einstein, he was probably responding to Werner Heisenberg. The philosophical implications of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle have always been overstated, which is one reason why scientists hate philosophers.

  9. There are upsides and downsides to everything, plus it just occurred to me that there’s a variable to the web that didn’t exist in prior public debate, or that didn’t exist to the extent that it does now. That is, millions of people can read what we put on the web, and search engines are recording what we’re putting out on the web. The wise person will take that into consideration and only use their real name on the web if there’s an advantage to doing so, which I mention below.

    Actually, anonymity has a respectable heritage. The Federalist Papers were written under pseudonyms. Plus, here are some other common uses of anonymity or pseudonym-anonymity:

    –Soldiers wear camouflage to make it harder for the enemy to kill them.
    –Rebels wear balaclavas to hide their identity from the police.
    –The police wear balaclavas to hide their identity from criminals.

    Anonymity can bring out the worst in people, but other than that downside, there’s only one reason why a person should use their real, full name on the web, and that reason is that the person needs their real name to establish their credibility or credentials.

    The truth is, when I’m starting a new relationship with strangers I’ve met on the web, and that relationship revolves around ideas, if I don’t need my real name to establishment my credibility, it doesn’t matter what my name is.

    So it’s people like John A. Davidson who are the big complainers and whiners. He uses his real name because he has to in order to flaunt his credentials. It’s his choice. He gets all the benefits of using his real name, but then he feels sorry for himself because other people get benefits from operating pseudo-anonymously. He doesn’t have to use his real name. He could be a complete, unknown, pseudo-anonymous nobody like millions of other people.

    I don’t have any great credentials, so I would get almost no benefit from using my real name, and there are good reasons for me not to use my real name. The fact is, my real name gets me nothing in the way of recognition in the World Wide Web. If all I’m trying to do is build up a reputation for my “credibility of ideas”, why does it matter what name I operate under? If I’m starting out with a blog, I’m a nobody under my real name and I’m a nobody under my pseudonym. With a pseudonym, I can try and protect myself until there’s a good time to out myself.

    Dave, I was looking for a link to a blog that doesn’t appear to be in your blog roll anymore. You told me once that he writes like you, or that you write like him. He described himself as “having no credentials”. Do you remember who I’m talking about?

    But back to Davidson and his constant itemizing of the places he’s been banned. Overall, I think that blogs are superior forums compared to the anarchy and noise of the old USENET news groups. A blog has a default leader, which is the blogger. He or she sets the tone and others can choose to participate or not participate in whatever environment the blogger creates.

    Personally, I loathe bloggers like Michelle Malkin and Dembski, and I consider as butt-kissers those people who are willing to abide by their rules. The fact is, though, everyone has opportunity to publish on the web, so no one owes anyone a “comment platform.”

    It used to be painful for me to be a little fish, but I’ve gotten used to it. And most of the people who’ve gotten a big following on the web have prostituted themselves in some way. Regardless, what kind of leader would let someone else come in and take over their blog?

    From perusing Davidson’s blog a little, I got the impression that he’s the kind who gets on a blog and starts to dominate it.

    Taking another glance at your post again, I think that the identity and tie we have with family is important. It’s one of the things that keeps us in line. But when it comes to the web, because 99% of our readers may not know us, our real name does almost nothing to help us establish credibility, and it gives our enemies something to use against us.

    On the other hand, if I knew everything I put out on the web was going to be read by my brother, who frequently does searches on the web for anything related to our uncommon last name, I might be less willing to be as inflammatory at times.

    But back to the flip side. If I knew everything I said was going to be recorded by God and played back to the world, then I would also be more careful. And so this point ties back into how I started this comment. The web is a new mode of communication, and the rules shouldn’t be expected to be exactly the same as any other mode of communication. Anonymity on the web has its place just like a private conversation between two friends has it’s place.

  10. Dave

    Einstein was incapable of hating anybody. I wish I had his tolerance, but alas I don’t. He is my shameless hero and, with the six to whom I have dedicated my Evolutionary Manifesto, comprise what I call the “magnificent seven” of evolutionary science. Einstein’s understanding of human nature surpassed even his general relativity which probably would have emerged without him sooner or later. He is unquestionably the greatest mortal mind of all time.

    I subscribe to his stubborn lifelong determinism without reservation –

    “EVERYTHING is determined…by forces over which we have no control.” my emphasis.

  11. I didn’t mean to cast aspersions on Einstein…he was just one of the most prominent scientists who were uncomfortable with the philosophical implications of quantum uncertainty.

    Since then, the speculations have accelerated, and many contemporary scientists do, indeed, hate philosophers for claiming that science does not consist of positive knowledge.

  12. John,

    Personally, although I enjoyed the speculations of Fritjof Capra and Robert Anton Wilson when I was a teenager, now I don’t think quantum uncertainty is that big a deal. [It’s a big deal for phonies like “Ramtha”, who promoted her quantum mysticism on a video that I was duped into watching recently.]

    Quantum uncertainty makes some people nervous because it shakes their faith in the idea that humans will eventually know everything about everything. That is the faith of modernity and self-righteous secular humanism, and it is in opposition to the reality of our created world.

    John, do you make a distinction between predetermined results and material causation? That is, can we say that everything may have a material cause, and yet not every cause may have a predefined effect?

  13. GC,

    I just reflected on this and laughed:

    On the other hand, if I knew everything I put out on the web was going to be read by my brother, who frequently does searches on the web for anything related to our uncommon last name, I might be less willing to be as inflammatory at times.

    This probably explains why I can never find any of my brother’s inflammatory statements!

  14. I believe that everything is material or it wouldn’t be there. I am not a mystic and I don’t appreciate being described in the terms GC, whoever that is, found necessary. GC can’t even spell my name right.

    I have a real problem with anonymity which is why I no longer tolerate it on my weblog. It is also the primary reason I have responded here.

    GC is the perfect example of what is wrong with much of internet communication. Sniping from behind the veil of what Dave has named pseudonymity, GC has, in my opinion, contributed absolutely nothing to the purposes of this thread.

    Now that I have responded to GC, let me explain my position with respect to the supernatural. I am unable in my wildest dreams to imagine that it is intrinsic in the nature of matter to self-assemble itself into a living, evolving organism even once.

    Both Leo Berg and Pierre Grasse claimed that evolution proceeded according to Laws. I have asked myself- what can be these laws? Can they be the laws of thermodynamics which tell us that systems tend to a minimum? Absolutely not is my response. Living organisms defy those laws from the monent they appear until the moment of their death.

    I cannot even conceive of the kinds of laws that could have produced, on an unknown number of occasions, either the animate or the inanimate world. There is also no reason whatsoever to assume a monophyletic evolution and it is very muich to his credit that Leo Berg claimed that –

    “Organisms have developed from tens of thiousands of primary forms, i.e, polyphyletically.”
    Nomogenesis, page 406.

    I have drawn what I believe is the only possible conclusion explaining both ontogeny and phylogeny. That is an unknown number of supernatural interventions in the distant past. I believe that is all that must be assumed and it is all that I am willing to concede.

    Both Leo Berg and Pierre Grasse apparently believed that it was intrinsic in the nature of non living matter to sponataneously become alive and then evolve. It is here that I must part company with them. I find that impossible even to imagine. Neither Berg nor Grasse make any attempt to identify the laws they assume must exist.

    I do not believe such laws any longer exist but must have once been operative. I also see no evidence for a Creator at present nor do I see any need for one.

    I have summarized my views in my papers and in particular in my Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis which is very similar to the related Universal Genome Hypothesis.

    First causes are not to be denied. Of my distinguished sources, some of the finest scientists of the post Darwinian era, I have been especially influenced by Robert Broom whom I heard lecture at the University of Wisconsin when I was a sophomore in 1947. Of course at that time I had no interest in evolution but I felt then and stll sense now that I was in the presence of a great spirit. Broom died a couple of years later.

    Robert Broom believed there was a Plan, a word he capitalized. Here is what he had to say at the end of his last book – “Finding the Missing Link.” page 101.

    “Those who consider that all the strange course of evolution is the result of an accident, or a series of accidents, are quite at liberty to think so. I believe there is a Plan, and though in the slow course of evolution there have been ups and downs and what look like mistakes, the plan has gone on: and we may feel sure that it cannot fail to reach its goal.”

    It is my present belief that Broom’s Plan terminated with the appearance of Homo sapiens no more than 100,000 years ago. I am further convinced that the present biota is the terminal expression of that Plan and this climax biota is doomed like all its predecessors to ultimate extinction, never to be replaced.

    I realize this is an unpopular position, yet I am convinced it is in complete accord with what we see going on around us. I hope we can do something to prevent it and I hate being right.

  15. Dave, thanks for the link. I try to keep my family out of most of what I’m doing on the web. For you, I guess it’s too late.

    Mr. Davison, it seems you can’t understand that ideas can stand alone apart from personality. What I contributed was a small discussion on the valid use of anonymity. Everything I said is either valid or invalid regardless of who I am.

    The discriminating reader takes into account the total picture. By making a negative comment about you pseudo-anonymously, I get the benefit of not taking the risk of allowing you a chance to take a shot of me as The Real Me, which you’re probably not interested in. On the other hand, I don’t get the benefit of the weight of my real name, which has no weight at this time anyway, so I’d rather it be all upside for me.

    Anyway, pseudo-anonymity only gets a person so much. If I don’t watch out, I can destroy the credibility of my pseudonym. If GC is always talking trash, then GC is eventually ignored and just considered a troll.

    The fact is, I try to protect my pseudonym as much as my real name. I don’t even want my pseudonym coming up in search engines for a discussion like this, just like I don’t want every conversation I have in life to be recorded.

  16. John,

    I am quite familiar with PEH, based on your writings, and I don’t feel the need to argue against it here. Although I disagree with it on some points, I don’t have any basis for claiming that you are in error. That is why I praised you elsewhere for your empirical approach. Its popularity, or lack thereof, is truly irrelevant.

    I was asking you what, I suppose, is a philosophical question. It has more to do with what must happen, rather than with what did happen. It actually has nothing to do with science, but many scientists claim that it does.

    The reference to “mysticism” was my swipe at some nutty psychic in Washington state who uses quantum theory to justify her scams. Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, pertaining to subatomic but not necessarily quantum particles, was the aspect of modern theoretical physics that Einstein found most disagreeable. Many people take this idea out of context and draw conclusions that have no scientific validity; and that may have been one reason why Einstein objected to it.

    I don’t believe that GC actually addressed anything related to PEH. I know that the subjects of banishment and anonymity are live topics for him, which is why he wrote a comment equal in length to my post. Since my post mostly consists in my musings on these topics, his appearance here is no surprise to me.

    The “veil of anonymity” doesn’t mask words, or ideas, or evidence; all it does is allow amplification and broader expressiveness. Unfortunately, for most netizens this means crudeness and rudeness. I object less to overexpressive rhetoric, however, than to blandness and parroting.

    I object to the great masses of commenters with names like “redsfan” and “ihatebush” who endlessly regurgitate the preprocessed pablum of their pundit heroes; who are too lazy and illiterate to start their own free blog; who think that Amanda Corcoran and Hugh Hewitt are brilliant writers; who endlessly accuse me of “hating science”; who say I am just jealous of Saint Darwin because he was so smart; who tell me over and over that an atheist is just someone who believes in one less god; who think that public schooling must be mandatory so that all the little robots will do as they are told when their parents are thrown in jail for “antisocial thoughts”; and so on, ad nauseum.

    That is the meaning of anonymity: not someone writing with a fake name, but someone writing with a fake brain.

    People who refuse to think for themselves will inevitably be treated like anonymous cattle, herded by their overseers into little pens and then milked, skinned, and slaughtered.

  17. Dave

    Thank you for your tolerance. I see no reason to continue here . Both you and GC are welcome to contribute on my weblog as soon as you are willing to let me know rather exactly who you are. One of my most valued supporters remains anonymous to my users but not to me. He is a very talented amateur who knows more about the significant evolutionary literature than Gould, Mayr, Provine, Meyer and Dawkins combined. I understand why he must remain anonymous. I have no idea why you and GC must hide your identity but that you do is a matter of record.

    I do not agree with your last paragraph. P.Z. Myers and Richard Dawkins continue to seduce more and more followers. I regard them as a great danger to a free intellectual society. I feel the same way about Barack Hussein Obama, the only truly dangerous man ever to reach the Presidency of this already greatly weakened nation. I recommend Robert Bork’s book – “Slouching Towards Gomorrah” as well as a number of other books I list on the side bar of my weblog.

    My reception here by GC does not surprise me in the least. It is the standard reaction I evoke just about everywhere I am allowed to speak, which consists of venues I can count on fewer than the fingers of one hand. It is almost always from an anonymous user. To get an idea of my popularity with just the Darwinians, go to P.Z. Myers’ Pharyngula and press the Dungeon button. You might also visit Uncommon Descent which has now allowed me once more to hold forth after banning me three times. I have no idea how long I may last this time and don’t really care any more. This time I am being totally ignored which is every bit as effective as summary banishment. There is more than one way to skin this cat. I know all about it. I’ve been there, done that.

    Anyhow, thanks for the opportunity to display my heresies.

  18. P.S. I have just been banished from Uncommon Descent (for the fourth time). I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see them delete all my comments as well. That is why I have preserved them on my weblog.

  19. Dave, I’d say our difference in perspective about anonymity is that, these days, anonymity causes me no grief. I don’t give anyone a way to contact me or give me feedback. I rarely participate in any public forum. Consequently, I don’t have to endure many anonymous insults.

    I could go off on numerous tangents, but I’d say that all this is related to the fact that the web creates possibilities that didn’t exist before, namely, it can make a public-figure-type out of anyone.

    Public figures have always gotten anonymously harassed and insulted, so getting harassed goes with the territory of making yourself a public figure. If you put a comment out under “Dave” and provide a link back to your blog, you’ve given other people a public personality to attach themselves to and to attack.

    Is it a bad thing that people anonymously harass public figures? It’s bad if they harass them for doing good. It’s good if they harass them for doing bad.

    Another tangent is that this is all ties into the value of a good blog leader who is out debating in public. You go out and comment; you get dissed and slog through the noise, but it feeds your thinking. You come back and write interesting things.

    You let people attempt to submit comments on your posts; you get dissed in vulgar ways, but you let through some comments that are, at least, not a total waste of our time or that don’t trash up our mind too much.

    And banishment is all tied into this. It’s embarrassing and humiliating to be the one banned, or the one who has his comments deleted, but that risk goes with the territory of being too adversarial. Over all, though, a blogger who filters feedback is doing a favor to those who are primarily interested in the blogger’s viewpoint.

    In the context of the web, I’d say anonymous isn’t bad, it’s noise that’s bad. I follow Woit’s blog, and most of the good comments are anonymous. I’m not interested in subjecting myself to all the degradation that goes with filtering the noise, but I’m glad other people are willing to do it to various degrees.

  20. Mr. Davison, your non-standard blog format is reader unfriendly. A diary format may be beneficial to you, but it’s not beneficial to me. For one thing, because you use new comments for new posts, the length of the 7 posts are going to get ridiculously long, and without the normal post title, it makes it hard for me to browse through what you’ve written until I find something I think I want to read.

    I’m sure that you have lots of interesting things to write, but so do many other people. There’s lots of competition, like this guy, http://branemrys.blogspot.com/, and if you make it hard for me to read you, then I give up, because my time is valuable.

  21. CG, whoever you are and I guess I will never know.

    There is a lttle button you push that can take you in one step to the most recent comments. There are other buttons on my introductory page that will take you in short order to all of my published papers and essays.

    To paraphrase an old saw –

    “You can take a man to the literature but you cannot make him comprehend it .”

    Like Frank Sinatra –

    “I did it my way.”

    I will continue to do so.

    By the way, it is Dr. Davison and has been since 1954. Some of my most valued supporters have no degrees whatsoever. I am not a snob and nothing you say will make me one. I also have no desire to have a fan club.

    “The applause of a single human being is of great consequence.”
    Samuel Johnson

    Now you may have the last word as I am sure that is very important for you. I will now find another weblog to test.

    Good luck.

  22. Dr. Davison, you are a snob, otherwise you wouldn’t have mentioned the “Dr.”, which I was aware of. I’m not your student; I used “Mr.” to show respect for you as my elder.

    But I don’t know that I care that you’re a snob. I primarily care whether you have something interesting and informative to say, so it could be that I’ll endure your blog format.

    Dave, I hear you on many of your points about anonymity, but the bottom line is that none of us have to subject ourselves to the abuse that comes from people operating anonymously on the web, not when we’ve purposely put ourselves in the midst of a bunch of conflict.

    Actually, I’m not berating you. I think I now have a new appreciation for my need to stay out of the thick of things for a while. It’s not as stressful. And maybe not as much fun.

  23. I wasn’t banished from Uncommon Descent after all. It was a glitch in my password. That doesn’t mean I won’t be!

  24. Dave, I’ve decided that getting involved in all the negative stuff you’re talking about is no real fun after all.

    But I’d be a hypocrite if I condemned people too much. When commenting on blogs was new to me, I acted all crazy. And even now, being involved in any of this can feed my melodramatic side. It took about a year and a half for the newness of blog commenting to start to wear off, so I figure that of the millions of people using the Internet, there’s a constant flow of people going through some kind of “newness stage”.

    I’m still trying to get more disciplined in what I get involved in. But when I haven’t been involved in all the noise that you’re talking about, I start to forget that it even exists, or I get very detached from it all.

    I think I’d rather be almost exclusively an observer, have my say on my blog, and let other people do most of the thrashing, so I can spend my time doing other things. But it is worthwhile that some people mix it up to keep the debate going.

  25. GC,

    I agree that it is stressful to be involved in a lot of intense conversations. Like you said, it’s easy to forget that they are there at all, and I have a lot of other things to do.

    I got exhausted trying to track down all of Ed Darrell’s fake sources to see if they really backed him up. None of them did, but at least I learned some more about The Modern Synthesis.

    As I’ve noted before, blogging is just like doing a journal and then letting all your high school classmates look at it. The social environment is virtually the same, and the perspective that it pulls the blogger towards is also virtually the same.

    Some people really thrive on that social structure, and that is why the social networking sites have taken off. Even though the blog can facilitate that networking, it is still focused on writing or linking.

    The structure of the blog is such that you have a writer, and you have a bunch of people that the writer has invited to comment on his work. That is the bottom line, for me: I want people to comment on what I wrote, not on who I am.

    John, you can come or go here as you please. I didn’t really expect you to comment here, since you told me how much you disdain anonymous bloggers. However, I’m glad you showed up anyway, and you can comment anytime.

    I think you overdramatize a bit. Whether you are given a chance to present your ideas frequently at the popular sites is really irrelevant, because the political status of Darwinism, ID, Creation Science, or PEH is irrelevant. As long as you have someplace where you have control over how your ideas are presented, and where the search engines or the linking sites can find you, your ideas will always be out there for people to find. You need to work on the organization part (as GC pointed out); you need to edit some of the papers you’ve posted as PDFs; and you need to consider buying a domain name or at least keeping the same blog indefinitely, so that your ideas will have a permanent presence on the Web.

    Since you cite mostly older sources, I was surprised to find out that directed evolution (orthogenesis) and frozen evolution are apparently live topics among some biologists. I thought Popov and Flegr were the most interesting. Samples of their work are available here:

    http://rogov.zwz.ru/Macroevolution/popov2.pdf
    http://rogov.zwz.ru/Macroevolution/frozenevol.pdf
    http://www.springerlink.com/content/nl13424226308k15/fulltext.pdf

    That last document has a nice table showing the history of the theory of directed evolution and its advocates. (Unfortunately, you aren’t on the list, John.) If you have trouble downloading the last one, I can send it to you by email.

  26. My significant papers are published and on the shelves of the world’s libraries hopefully for all time. I dont need advice on how to present my ideas or where to present them. Thank you very much.

    “I did it my way.”
    Frank Sinatra

  27. Well, that’s the traditional method for having control over how your ideas are presented! And depending on the paper, the binding, and the libraries, it should last at least a hundred years. If you want to go longer, you will need extra durable materials and climate controlled vaults.

    As for the World Wide Web, I predict that the protocols will change so much in the next ten years that the current contents will no longer be directly accessible. Then all the saved contents for the first thirty years of the Web will be archived on a quantum memory device, since no one will care about it anymore. Most people will be illiterate in fifty years because they will all be implanted with wireless direct data transfer interfaces. By then the contents of the old Web will be presented orally by android storytellers as part of “Ancient History Days.”

    My advice primarily pertained to the current status of your ideas, rather than their archival status. I had a difficult time finding your Web presence with a search engine, so I imagine that most people would give up after reading some of the whining from your detractors.

    Also, it never hurts to let a real editor go over your final product. I know it’s tough to hand it over to a less-educated pedant who probably doesn’t understand it at all, but it makes one less subject for criticism from the overeducated pedants who want to dismiss you out of hand.

Instigate some pointless rambling

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