tigtog doesn’t get it

I recently came across an old post from hoydenabouttown.com that referenced an argument about rhetoric I made on Pharyngula. Basically, I was saying that one’s argument should match one’s goals. The sexist goals of PZ and others do not match their goals of making people more aware of what they see as sexism, thus their rhetoric is just awful. That isn’t to say it is awful for their in-group discussions. I expected to see harsh rhetoric from PZ and his followers. That’s what his audience wants, so he delivered. The problem is when they want to appeal to anyone else. No one is going to listen. Try getting an event organizer to book more female speakers by calling him a sexist, privileged pig who wants to take away women’s rights to vote. See what happens. So once I made my argument and everyone thoroughly misunderstood it, I cited Cicero who made the same basic point all day long: rhetoric should match goals. Unfortunately, author “tigtog” of hoydenabouttown.com doesn’t seem to get it:

Using this quote as if Cicero thus obviously advocated politely rational rhetoric is so hilariously ignorant about how Cicero actually used rhetoric in practice to garner an audience and persuade them to his will! Nobody who was actually familiar with Cicero’s most famous successes as an orator could possibly imagine that he was recommending civil argumentation.

(I didn’t actually use a quote, but I digress.)

tigtog then went on to discuss specific tactics Cicero used. None of it got to my point. Again, rhetoric needs to match goals. The times when Cicero used harsh rhetoric matched his goals and spoke to his audience. If he did the same thing in 21st century American politics, he may have been seen as just another asshole who is petty and flies off the handle. Or not. All politics are local, so – as always – it all depends on his audience.

People just don’t seem to get it. I’m all for harsh tones when harsh tones work. I feel they are more honest, so I prefer them. Just look at the hilarious lashing Richard Lenski gave to creationists. The second letter he sent to the morons at Conservapedia was far from nice, but it’s hard to deny its greatness. And, oh gee, look at his third sentence:

I expect you to post my [second] response in its entirety; if not, I will make sure that is made publicly available through other channels.

In his first response he was fairly cordial. He was just responding to a few silly creationists. However, his second response was designed to be seen by scientifically-oriented people. That’s why he explicitly said he would make it public one way or another. So in each letter we see appropriate rhetoric: in the first he answered nicely so as to more easily move on from the situation while remaining professional; in the second he ripped them apart so everyone could laugh. That pretty much nails the sentiments and arguments of Cicero in every regard.

So, again, my argument is simply that one’s rhetoric must match one’s goals. In fact, that was Cicero’s argument. This makes tigtog wrong twice. First, she has implied that I would not advocate for harsh tones. Saying as much is to willfully disregard everything I have said. Harsh tones are great when used correctly. Second, I never argued what Cicero thought was the best or worst specific rhetoric one way or another anyway. That’s just poor reading comprehension on her part.

Oh, and using an embarrassing misunderstanding of another person’s argument as a premise for one’s own argument is also bad rhetoric. I don’t know if Cicero ever felt the need to be explicit on that point, so maybe tigtog can enlighten us all.

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Catching Conservapedia in a lie again

From their lying front page:

Another new paper was just published in Journal of Climate. Added proof Al Gore & Company are simply lying hucksters, out for a buck. Written by eminent climatologists, called Greenland Ice Sheet Surface Air Temperature Variability: 1840–2007 which discusses data from Greenland since 1840. No unprecedented recent warming is found. For example, they find that the 1919-1932 warming was 1.33 times greater than the 1994-2007 “warming”. [19] The new report mirrors one from the United States Senate back in 2007. [20]

Just like the last time, they make the mistake of linking to the abstract they reference.

Thus, it is expected that the ice sheet melt rates and mass deficit will continue to grow in the early twenty-first century as Greenland’s climate catches up with the Northern Hemisphere warming trend and the Arctic climate warms according to global climate model predictions.

These people are kooks.

Catching Conservapedia in a lie again

From their lying front page:

Another new paper was just published in Journal of Climate. Added proof Al Gore & Company are simply lying hucksters, out for a buck. Written by eminent climatologists, called Greenland Ice Sheet Surface Air Temperature Variability: 1840–2007 which discusses data from Greenland since 1840. No unprecedented recent warming is found. For example, they find that the 1919-1932 warming was 1.33 times greater than the 1994-2007 “warming”. [19] The new report mirrors one from the United States Senate back in 2007. [20]

Just like the last time, they make the mistake of linking to the abstract they reference.

Thus, it is expected that the ice sheet melt rates and mass deficit will continue to grow in the early twenty-first century as Greenland’s climate catches up with the Northern Hemisphere warming trend and the Arctic climate warms according to global climate model predictions.

These people are kooks.

Abusing science

Conservapedia is back to abusing science. This is from their “news” section.

The study, which was published on July 14, 2009 in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Geoscience, found CO2 was not to blame for a major ancient global warming period and instead found “unknown processes accounted for much of warming in the ancient hot spell.” The press release for the study was headlined: “Global warming: Our best guess is likely wrong.”

“In a nutshell, theoretical models cannot explain what we observe in the geological record,” said oceanographer Gerald Dickens, a co-author of the study and professor of Earth science at Rice University. “There appears to be something fundamentally wrong with the way temperature and carbon are linked in climate models.”

The mistake Conservapedia made is so readily linking to the abstract.

We conclude that in addition to direct CO2 forcing, other processes and/or feedbacks that are hitherto unknown must have caused a substantial portion of the warming during the Palaeocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum. Once these processes have been identified, their potential effect on future climate change needs to be taken into account.

While the idiots over at Dumbopedia (good one, right?) are claiming that this study PROVES!!! that global warming is not man-made (thus implying that any polluting business practice is a-okay), the study is saying no such thing. This is referencing a period of warming where CO2 alone does not account for all the warming. That isn’t to say that the rise in CO2 can be dismissed during that time – nor is it saying anything about our time. It’d be like saying natural selection doesn’t account for all the change in evolution, therefore evolution is false. CO2 still was a huge factor by which warming was initiated (upwards of 38 degrees F). Today it remains a huge factor.

Let’s just say it. Conservatives are not concerned about science. They care about allowing businesses to practice as they please. That’s it.

How apt

From Conservapedia:

Attention Canadian evolutionists! Conservapedia now nearly ranks in the Google top 10 for the very popular search “evolution” at Google Canada! The Conservapedia evolution article ranks #12 at Google Canada for the search evolution![8] The article appears to be rapidly gaining prominence on the Canadian internet. Will this creation science wildfire spread to the USA, UK, and beyond? Please stay tuned for further developments!

They got their analogy right. Well, partially. Creationism is very much like a wildfire, though it isn’t anywhere near science. It’s a destructive force for not only science, but good in the world.

The stupidity, it doesn’t stop

This is currently on Conservapedia’s front page:

The killer at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, James von Brunn, was a white supremacist and also an evolutionary racist. James von Brunn wrote that “Only the strong survive. Cross breeding whites with species on the evolutionary scale diminishes the white gene-pool while increasing the number of physiologically, psychologically, and behaviorally deprived mongrels.” The evolutionist Charles Darwin was also an evolutionary racist. The shooter, James von Brunn, also appears to have had close ties to neo-Nazis and his ex-wife said his anti-semitism and racist hate “ate him alive like a cancer”. Adolf Hitler was also a rabid evolutionary racist.

Aside from reading like a child wrote it, this is just the same old creationist appeal to emotion. These people have no evidence to back up their horribly stupid views, so they resort to dumb things like this; evolution means racism!!! It’s therefore wrong!!1!!

But here’s the kicker. Even if one were to ignore the glaring logical fallacy in the wee little minds of Conservapedians, the argument still fails. Being wrong is also a major no-no when making any argument.

James von Brunn’s beliefs are not based upon any real understanding of evolution or genetics. If they were, then he’d know that two white people can be more genetically diverse between each other than a white person and a black person. In other words, race doesn’t have any biological grounding. So if Conservapedians actually think it is a valid tactic to judge the merits of scientific evidence based upon inconveniences that it may give, then the real argument here is that evolution informs us that racism has no good basis and is therefore stupid.

von Brunn’s idea of evolution is very close to the creationist idea of the theory. Neither one is anywhere near correct. They both use their particular versions of this revolutionary concept to suit themselves. von Brunn thought there was a significant genetic basis for races. Creationists think evolution actually says that. The only difference between these abuses is scale. von Brunn is one guy with wrong ideas and the crazy to back them up. Creationists are a huge group of poorly educated, unfortunately ignorant individuals* who harm the progress of science by rejecting the most fundamental concept to an entire field.

The Conservapedia piece mentions that Charles Darwin was an “evolutionary racist”. This is more conservative screaming and kicking. Reasonable people keep pointing out just why they are wrong, but the conservatives just switch to more convinced language. That’ll do it.

Darwin held many of the racist beliefs of his day, but he didn’t need evolution to get him there. His science stands firm, regardless of what he may have believed. But for what it’s worth, he was ahead of his time with his race views. He also was a big abolitionist.

As for Hitler, he suffered from the issues as von Brunn. In addition, however, the man may have just been abusing any old idea for his purposes. He invoked all sorts of beliefs, including the words of Jesus, to rally support for his plans, actions, and goals. This says nothing of whether or not he was right.

*Ignorance is no crime. We’re all guilty of it. Fortunately, there are remedies.

The stupidity, it doesn't stop

This is currently on Conservapedia’s front page:

The killer at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, James von Brunn, was a white supremacist and also an evolutionary racist. James von Brunn wrote that “Only the strong survive. Cross breeding whites with species on the evolutionary scale diminishes the white gene-pool while increasing the number of physiologically, psychologically, and behaviorally deprived mongrels.” The evolutionist Charles Darwin was also an evolutionary racist. The shooter, James von Brunn, also appears to have had close ties to neo-Nazis and his ex-wife said his anti-semitism and racist hate “ate him alive like a cancer”. Adolf Hitler was also a rabid evolutionary racist.

Aside from reading like a child wrote it, this is just the same old creationist appeal to emotion. These people have no evidence to back up their horribly stupid views, so they resort to dumb things like this; evolution means racism!!! It’s therefore wrong!!1!!

But here’s the kicker. Even if one were to ignore the glaring logical fallacy in the wee little minds of Conservapedians, the argument still fails. Being wrong is also a major no-no when making any argument.

James von Brunn’s beliefs are not based upon any real understanding of evolution or genetics. If they were, then he’d know that two white people can be more genetically diverse between each other than a white person and a black person. In other words, race doesn’t have any biological grounding. So if Conservapedians actually think it is a valid tactic to judge the merits of scientific evidence based upon inconveniences that it may give, then the real argument here is that evolution informs us that racism has no good basis and is therefore stupid.

von Brunn’s idea of evolution is very close to the creationist idea of the theory. Neither one is anywhere near correct. They both use their particular versions of this revolutionary concept to suit themselves. von Brunn thought there was a significant genetic basis for races. Creationists think evolution actually says that. The only difference between these abuses is scale. von Brunn is one guy with wrong ideas and the crazy to back them up. Creationists are a huge group of poorly educated, unfortunately ignorant individuals* who harm the progress of science by rejecting the most fundamental concept to an entire field.

The Conservapedia piece mentions that Charles Darwin was an “evolutionary racist”. This is more conservative screaming and kicking. Reasonable people keep pointing out just why they are wrong, but the conservatives just switch to more convinced language. That’ll do it.

Darwin held many of the racist beliefs of his day, but he didn’t need evolution to get him there. His science stands firm, regardless of what he may have believed. But for what it’s worth, he was ahead of his time with his race views. He also was a big abolitionist.

As for Hitler, he suffered from the issues as von Brunn. In addition, however, the man may have just been abusing any old idea for his purposes. He invoked all sorts of beliefs, including the words of Jesus, to rally support for his plans, actions, and goals. This says nothing of whether or not he was right.

*Ignorance is no crime. We’re all guilty of it. Fortunately, there are remedies.