22 April, 2011

It's the Apocalypse, Isn't It?

Sorry, but under the circumstances, Los Links shall have to wait until tomorrow.  Allow me to 'splain.  Or sum up.  After all, it's the apocalypse, and we haven't got much time.

The Gnus among you are probably already aware of Chris Mooney and his history of, how to put it nicely, being an utter fucktard when it comes to all matters framing and his habit of so rabidly hating the Gnus that he happily falls head-over-heels for lying, sockpuppeting sociopaths who tell him what he wants to hear.  And then spends most of his time deleting comments on his blog that a) would've shattered his dream or b) were the least bit critical of him.  And when forced to admit he's a dupe, snivels he couldn't possibly have known, even though all he had to do was listen to a few folks who were telling him that he's a dupe.  And that coming after a long history of blacklisting people (yes, plural) and being an utter fucktard.  I'd already written him off after the Great Frame Wars of 2009; the Unscientific America debacle just put paid to the whole thing, because here we had a man who obviously couldn't get a clue even when hit simultaneously by dozens of clue-by-fours, so by the time he'd got dicked by Tom Johnson, I'd been conditioned by his own actions to merely point and laugh when Chris Mooney appeared on the scene.

In fact, it took me years to unfreeze toward Sheril Kirshenbaum because she'd been so tainted by that whole affair.  Chris Mooney, though, never displayed any reason why I should give half a tug on a dead dog's dick about a single thing he said.  He'd killed his credibility a dozen times over and done bugger-all to get it back.  If I clicked on an unknown link and ended up on one of his posts, I'd experience physical revulsion, compounded after reading a few paragraphs. It got to the point that I couldn't stand to see his smarmy, smiling face, so I blocked him on Twitter just so his Colgate grin wouldn't show up in retweets and put me off my grub.

(And for those who think I'm being too harsh, just click a small selection of the links above and tell me where the rat bastard's ever proven himself trustworthy.  Criticism is fine, but deceit, blacklisting and endless whining, plus taking forever to make even a minor course-correction after being taken in by a con, all the while proclaiming Gnus the Enemy of All because they told him he can stick his framing where the sun don't shine - no.)

This has been a rather long introduction to the apocalypse.  You see, not five minutes after I'd become so fed up with seeing Chris Mooney's mug plastered all over my Twitter feed by the people who still, for reasons unknown to me, sometimes take him seriously, blocked his butt, here was this tweet from Bora:
I was waiting for this schism for years - Mooney leaving Nisbett behind: http://bit.ly/gvrmgW Good for Chris.
I couldn't help myself.  A schism between Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum?  I had to see!  And, to my horror, I found myself cheering Chris Mooney on.  Because while I have no respect for Chris Mooney, I actively despise Matt Nisbett.  And Chris dispatches a particularly idiotic bit of Nisbettian dumbfuckery with aplomb.

Credit where it's due and all.  I decided I'd grab it for Los Links.  Look, just because I think a man is a shit-for-brains doesn't mean I can't appreciate a small spark of intelligence when it manifests.

But that is not why I believe it's the apocalypse.  This is:
Psych Evidence that Supports New Atheism http://bit.ly/esNCVw Mooney is really on a roll today, isn't he?
Oh, how that must have hurt him!  To have to admit, after so long kicking and screaming and howling that those evil, evil New Atheists would ruin absolutely everything ever, that he was actually not correct in this assumption.  Of course I had to click through to his bloody blog twice in one day.

You can tell it pains him.  He clings to his final remaining shred of plausible deniability, trying very hard to believe (without adequate evidence) that we are still icky and wrong, even though he was wrong:
In general, I believe what we know about human psychology runs contrary to the New Atheist approach and strategy. However, I do my best to follow the data, and here’s a study that suggest at least one aspect of their approach may work. The tactic finding support here is not necessarily being confrontational–that would tend to prompt negative emotional reactions, and thus defensiveness and inflexibility towards New Atheist arguments–but rather, making it more widely known that you’re actually there–as “out” atheists try to do...
Oh, Chris.  Chris, Chris, Chris, Chris, Chris.  Gather your crow recipes while ye may, because you shall be forced to eat a banquet's worth of it one day, and you have proven today might be man enough to swallow it.  After, of course, kicking and screaming and refusing to do so for too many years, but still.  At least there's the possibility you'll hold your nose and do it.  Bravo, sir.  Bravo.

But, despite this minute concession, he still misses the point by a country mile.  We must be forgiving, he's always had terrible aim.  But there's the fact that, for a subset of people, being confrontational does go a long way toward snapping them out of religion.  I'm sure some clever dick (or vagina) will do a study someday - perhaps already have done, for all I know, considering I'm not as well-read in the psychological literature as I should be - and prove even to Chris's satisfaction that he's full of shit.  But even saying he's not.  Let us be generous and grant him the conceit that shouting the truth at religious people without sparing their feelings never, ever works and only makes them dig their Sunday-shoed heels in.  He still misses the fucking point, even so.

Because, you see, New Atheism isn't about bringing the true believers into the bright light of reason.  It's about telling the damned truth without sugar-coating.  It's about breaking the spell.  And you do not, cannot, do that by treating religion with respect and deference.  If you treat religion as a thing to be respected, you end up with religion still thinking it's a thing that is entitled to respect.  And what does religion do when it and everyone around it believes it is entitled to respect?  It demands respect, it attempts to force itself on the masses, it insists all to bow and scrape to it, it bullies people and sullies science, science education, and secular government, and it basically runs around believing it owns the place.  Non-believers are treated as something nasty to be scraped off society's shoe.  And people who don't believe or don't believe all that much end up silent and cowed, because no one has told them in no uncertain terms that religion deserves no such respect, is due no such deference, and moreover needs to be ushered firmly out of the public square. 

We have no problem with doing so politely, but if it kicks up a fuss, we reserve the right to boot it in the arse.  And religion has a distressing tendency to kick up fusses.  Ergo, we apply the judicious toe to the nether regions.

There's also the bystander effect.  This atheist, for instance, would not be an out-and-proud atheist without the New Atheists.  I wouldn't be here in love with science and defending it against fundie fuckwits if it weren't for those evil, evil gnus.  I wouldn't even have understood there was a problem.  So no, standing up and shouting in believers' faces may not work directly on them all the time, but it sure as shit can be effective with people like me.

There's room for gnus and for the softer, fluffier, make nicey-nice with the believers sorts in the battle to keep creationist hands off our science.  Nothing in the rules says we can't use all of the tactics at our disposal.  And if the accommodationists would just stop sniping at gnus long enough, they might come to see the value in a good-cop-bad-cop strategy.

I will know that the apocalypse has truly come the day Chris Mooney realizes all that and apologizes for being such a massive shite to his fellow atheists.  Not holding my breath on that one.  I want to live.

But it's nice to see him take the first step on the long road.  We'll see how far he gets before he decides it's too far to walk.


Fixed Carbon said...

Teq: Now that was a first class, top drawer rant! I loved it and learned lots to boot (didn't know about Nisbett's attack on PZ over Left Behind--that was rich). You have Nisbett pegged, heart lung shot! Im' rootin' fer Mooney on this one. Keep us posted.

Karen said...

Mooney will never make it. He'll chicken out and go all accommodationist on us again.

Sami, my backyard skunk, is beautiful with black fur and white stripes. But as much as s/he likes cat food, s/he'll never be mistaken for one of the neighborhood cats; and Chris Mooney will never make it as a Gnu Atheist.

David Evans said...

"And what does religion do when it and everyone around it believes it is entitled to respect? It demands respect..."

Excellent. That is now part of my mental furniture.

glacialtill said...

I don't know if Mooney cherry picks the comments on his blog, but I left one about the reason Dawkins, Hitchens and the new atheists are confrontational. I basically said the Christian right are playing for keeps, so why shouldn't we?

My comment never made it to the blog. Strange...

Dana Hunter said...

You all make me just melt. Each and every one of you!

In answer to Glacial Till: Yes. Mooney cherry-picks. He's notorious for it. That is among the myriad reasons I hold him in contempt. Karen's assessment of why he will never make it as a Gnu Atheist, or even make it as a neighbor, is spot-on.

Color me not-surprised to see him up to the same old bullshit.

glacialtill said...

That's a shame because the meat of my comment centered around some comments that the gay rights movement was non-confrontational. Apparently most of Mooney's readers are not familiar with the Stonewall Riots and the ass-whooping that a bunch of drag queens handed to NYC's finest.