Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

*ding* You've got mail!

Even though I've had this blog for a couple of years, I am still mystified as to why certain posts will grab people's attention.

To date, the two posts I've done that have garnered the most hits are ones describing the fact that Rebecca Black was not singing about JFK's assassination in her dreadful song "Friday," and the fact that the blob of rock discovered by some treasure hunters on the bottom of the Baltic Sea is not the Millennium Falcon.  Why those two still get dozens of hits a day is a little beyond me, but who am I to question my readers for reading what I write?

Still more, I am frequently puzzled as to why specific posts get people's dander up.  I still periodically get hate mail over my rather sardonic post about British ghost hunters, for example.  And this brings up the interesting phenomenon of the interconnectedness of social media -- the irate Brits who still get their knickers in a twist over my disbelief in ghosts found my blog because it showed up on Twitter and then got posted to a site devoted to ghost hunting -- with the caption, "Look at what this Yankee twit said about us!"  After that, they stopped hunting ghosts for a time to hunt the wild skeptic, and I got 300 hits in an hour.  Followed by a torrent of very irate emails.

Something similar happened on Thursday, although I have yet to figure out how it occurred.  Wednesday's post, you might recall, was about the Tennessee anti-evolution bill, and I not-so-gently pointed out that the sponsors of that bill had a poorer understanding of science than your average Bigfoot chaser.  Okay, that may have been a little inflammatory, but I've said worse things about creationists in the past and gotten little to no response.

Evidently, someone told someone who told someone, and by midday on Thursday, the floodgates had opened up.  It's a little alarming, and seldom good news, when I see a big spike on my hit tracker -- so when I saw the line rising suddenly, I said, "uh-oh."  And sure enough, the emails started shortly afterwards.  And ye gods and little fishes... If I had time and space, I’d print a bunch of excerpts.  Instead, here’s a capsule summary of their comments:
So, you think you’re so smart, Mr. Evolutionary Biology Guy.  Well, blah blah blah transitional fossils?  There are no transitional fossils at all, you freakin dumass!  Blah blah yak yak the Bible is INERRANT!  It’s God’s Word!  Yak yak Second Law of Thermodynamics!  Entropy disproves evolution yak yak blah blah you worthless wanker!  Radiometric data is inaccurate, so therefore yakkity schmackity booga booga Big Bang!  What happened before the Big Bang, huh?  Were you there to see it, Mr. Godless Atheist?  I didn’t think so!  Gotcha there!!!  Yak yak blah blah it’s just a theory, not a fact!  Even the scientists don’t have any confidence in it!  Blah blah you smug, arrogant BASTARD!  Rot in hell.

Yours in Christ,

The Creationists of America

Well, all I can say is, thank you so much for your comments.  To address a few of your points:

  • I can be smug and arrogant, sometimes, so guilty as charged.  I know it’s not nice and I try not to be, but it’s one of my faults.
  • As far as being a bastard, my parents were married long before I was born, so it’s a big nope on that one, and my mom, god rest her soul (if there is one and she had one) would have been scandalized by the suggestion.
  • “Godless Atheist” is kind of redundant, don’t you think?  Okay, I’ll let that one go, maybe you were just being emphatic.
  • I’d have taken the “dumbass” comment more seriously if the person who called me that hadn’t misspelled it.
  • I’m not actually worthless, although what I am worth is left as an exercise for the reader.
  • And as far as my being a wanker – well, I’m not going there.  You’ll just have to speculate.

Regarding the objections to evolution itself, those have been discussed at such length in other venues that I won’t respond, except for one.  Saying “evolution is just a theory” is not an argument.  The word “theory” has nothing to do with uncertainty, or the idea that there’s this nagging feeling in scientists’ minds that “evolution might very well be wrong.”  They call it “music theory,” and it’s not because they think that music might not exist.  Are we clear on that point?

Okay.  I feel much better, but have probably now initiated a further waterfall of hostile posts.  I guess you can’t have everything.


  1. Your "fan" is probably all grumpy that the atheists are going to be having a big party down in DC, and he doesn't get to go to HIS big party because Chuck-e-Cheese banned him from the ball pit.

  2. Hey - notoriety sells books godless booger-head.

  3. Oh I loves me a good creationism vs. evolution discussion. The problem is most god fearing creationists are ill suited to engage in healthy debate. They have an inherent characteristic that non-believers like us do not have, and are missing a key characteristic that we possess. They have this thing called faith and are missing this thing called common sense.

    Whenever I encounter a someone who just needs to slam my "science", call me names, and debate the validity of "my theory" I steer the conversation in this direction:

    Blindly believing in something does not make it true. Can we agree on this? (if your combatant cannot get on board with this then I just walk away)

    Let's look at the two opposing points of view. I am willing to concede that I might not be right. Evolution might be bunk and you might have hit the nail right on the head. Further to that I'm willing to concede that we both might be wrong. (if the combatant isn't even willing to consider that they *could* be wrong then that's a whole other argument. I usually go down the path of telling them that in his world God created humans in His image, but also created them as imperfect. So, as an imperfect human reading scripture transcribed by other imperfect humans there's a 100% chance his information is not 100% accurate. That, or I just walk away)

    Once one is in this stage of the argument it's easy peasy. To even reach this stage you've ensured you have weeded out the really and truly crazy... uh, I mean, mindless... um, idiotic... let's go with crazy.

    Evolution is a theory, it's not proven. One point for creationists. Except creationism is "just" a theory too. Point for science. Now here's where it gets fun. Let's test our theories. Oh wait, unless you have a spare deity lying around creationism is going to be really tough to put through the paces. Let's check on evolution now, shall we? Wait, we have millions of years of fossilized creatures to study? We have real-time genetic experiments happening on short lifespan insects right at this moment? Hundreds, if not thousands of scientists are thinking up newer, more accurate experiments every day?

    Holy crap. Sounds like people in science are spending a hell of a lot of time working out the unknowns in their little theory. What are the creationists working on? Uh, that's right, nothing. They think theory is fine the way it is. 2000 years old and handed down from one imperfect human to the next. I'm no debate expert but I'm giving the point to science on that one.

    At the end of the day, there's just no arguing with those who have given up their gift of rational thought, so I don't waste my time. It's a shame though, because God gave them free will, and here they are doing everything they can to not use it.

  4. Just tell your "combatant":

    Why would God create a Universe that had the appearance of being older than it was? How does God benefit from presenting us with a false reality?

    1. I said that very thing to a creationist once, and he replied, in total seriousness, "To test faith. God sets up stumbling blocks for us, to see if we'll trust in the truth of his revealed word or fall for appearances."

      You can't win.

    2. Don't trust your eyes, ears, nose, mouth, or touch. It doesn't matter if the math adds up and the results are repeatable. Reality is a lie. To uncover the truth, read this book. If you can't find it in hardback, you can use your kindle to download it from a satellite in geosynchronous orbit.

      Just don't ask how the satellite works. The scientific laws that assisted in it's creation will inadvertently defy your beliefs...

      No, no. Enjoy the machinations of scientific labor and then use those same machinations to denounce their very existence, by claiming that the scientific laws upon which they were constructed, is false.

      Sometimes irony is so palpable it makes me a bit nauseous.

      No, we can't win... and not from a lack of cogent argument.