I’m often unsure of whether or not I should try to draw attention to silly conversations I have. On the one hand, a discussion between me and another person need not be promoted for all to see. On the other hand, this blog is about absurdity in this world, and people often provide it in direct communication with me. I’ll provide an example.
People who’ve followed this blog know I have a history with the blogger Anders. I won’t revisit it here. Suffice to say I have a low opinion of him and his blog. That makes it awkward for me to side with him and his commenters.
Still, sometimes they’re right. In the comments section of a recent post of his, there was a discussion of skeptics versus pseudoskeptics. A user (Jaime Jessop) tried to get Anders to give more information about who he considered to be pseudoskeptics. She had little success. However, one user responded to her efforts by saying:
It would be interesting to see who Jamie regards as being a genuine sceptic. Perhaps he would be willing to list, say, three prominent sceptics, people who he would view as having a similar level of scepticism as he does.
Jessop declined to provide such a list. The user then said:
Well, maybe just one then? I’m sure the others wouldn’t be offended by being left out. Unless, perhaps, you have that niggling feeling that any one you do name is going to be easily exposed as not being notably sceptical.
This included a typical, snide remark which is designed to insult and will tend to sabotage a discussion. It’s rude and obnoxious, but whatever. Jessop responded by saying:
As you are insistent, two sites which I use a lot are Notalotofpeopleknowthat and The Hockeyschtick.
Note, Jessop does not say these sites have a similar level of skepticism as she does. She does not even say they are skeptics. As such, when people criticized those sources as not being skeptical, she is technically correct to say:
I did not hold up these two particular websites as being examples of what you so condescendingly term ‘genuine scepticism’ – I merely pointed out that I make reference to them quite a lot and I can provide many examples from them of why I refer to them, none of which come from your examples above. So please calm down guys and try very hard not to get too carried away.
Jessop did not actually say her examples were examples of skeptics. She was asked, twice, to provide examples of skeptics, and she acted as though she was responding to those requests. She specifically prefaced her examples by saying she offered them because of OPatrick’s insistence in asking her for examples of skeptics.
Jessop was asked to provide examples of skeptics. She responded by providing two names. To now claim those names were not offered as examples of skeptics requires us believe her response was a total non-sequitur which just happened to perfectly fit the question she portrayed herself as answering.
But it goes on. I had gotten the link to that discussion on Twitter, and I commented that I was sad I had to agree with Anders on the issues:
I was asked what issues, so I responded:
Some discussion happened then Jaime Jessop posted:
This remark was peculiar as at that point, I had never quoted Jaime Jessop. That means it was impossible for me to have misquoted here. Regardless, I’m all for people reading the thread and seeing for themselves. They’ll see I said the same thing on Twitter as I’ve said here, and I believe they’ll see it is accurate. As the exchange continued, Jessop said:
The idea that I was “desperately” doing anything is strange. I can’t imagine what I did which made me seem desperate. Why would I even care enough to be desparate? I had never heard of Jaime Jessop before. If anything, I should be expected to want her to be right as I don’t like Anders or his blog.
In any event, I told Jessop I had read her comments, and they didn’t contradict anything I said. I also pointed out my lack of desperation. She disagreed. When I tried to get an explanation, she said:
In no world is, “Read it” an explanation. It’s never an appropriate response. I remarked on this point, and Jessop said:
That seems to have been the end of the exchange.
This began with Jaime Jessop answering a simple question. When her answers were criticized, she claimed when answering the question, she didn’t actually respond to what the question asked. When I pointed this out, she accused me of misquoting her when I had never even quoted her. When I tried to get her to explain how my description of events was inaccurate, she refused, effectively telling me to, “Look it up.” When I pointed out that isn’t an explanation, she declared I was either unable or unwilling to understand.
I get in exchanges like this all the time. I had one yesterday when a guy claimed interracial were prohibited in some states as recently as 20 years ago. His argument would constantly change, but he’d always insist it was the same. It didn’t matter if you quoted his earlier remarks word for word.
Is it bad to highlight such exchanges? Should I have not highlighted one a while back where I was called a racist? How about when it was suggested I’m a pedophile? There’s a lot of discussion in the blogosphere about Stephan Lewandowsky having a paper retracted for a related issue. A blog post is obviously different from a scientific publication, but should I perhaps abide by similar standards? Or is this more like journalism, where as long as you have a legitimate interest in sharing the material, it’s fine?
I don’t know. What I do know is I can’t keep ignore absurdity like this. The world is full of insane things (many of which are far worse), and if I don’t talk about them, I’ll go crazy.
Or hey. Maybe I am the crazy one.