Steve Fuller shows us what he’s made of

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Norm Levitt has just passed away. He was coauthor with Paul Gross of the 1994 book Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and Its Quarrels with Science (the book which first called BS on the more ridiculous assertions of the postmodernist/social constructivist critique of science). Higher Superstition so annoyed the mandarins of science studies that they assembled a special issue of the journal Social Text to rebut it. Unfortunately for them, that issue contained Sokal’s famous parody article – Sokal had been inspired by Levitt & Gross – and the revelation of the hoax effectively deflated the community of academics who advocated strongly relativist views of science.

Back in 1996, Steve Fuller – that’s Steve “affirmative action for intelligent design” Fuller, for those of you who followed the Kitzmiller case – wrote one of the “serious” articles in Social Text, and, I learned today, apparently also read Sokal’s article when it was submitted, somehow without catching the obvious signs of parody.

Others in the science-studies movement took the critiques with some sense of humor and humility and made some adjustments – notably, Bruno Latour has admitted that the tools of science-critique were very easily turned against progressive causes like environmentalism, and that science studies had to admit that science had some actual solidity in comparison to your run-of-the mill social phenomenon (see his “Why Has Critique Run out of Steam?”, 2004)

But not Fuller. Apparently, Fuller has hated Levitt ever since the beginning of the “Science Wars.” And now that Levitt is safely dead, Fuller is calling Levitt a fascist. And comparing postmodernists to the Jews, and their critics to anti-Semites…presumably fascist anti-Semites (gee, I wonder who they could be). It’s really a piece of work.

Never mind that Levitt was not just a liberal, but a straight-up socialist. We all know how popular that position is in the U.S. these days. Oh, and his memorial service on Nov. 1 will be at the Plaza Jewish Community Chapel in New York.

For those who think that Levitt’s passing should be treated with a bit more class, I note this in the announcement:

It is with much sadness that we report the death of Norman Jay Levitt on Saturday, October 24, 2009, due to heart failure. His wife of 38 years, Renee Greene Levitt, reported the news to friends and colleagues of Norman, and announced that a memorial service will be held on Sunday, November 1 at 1:30 PM at Plaza Jewish Community Chapel, 630 Amsterdam Avenue at 91 St. She also asked that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions be sent to the National Center for Science Education, 420 40th Street, Suite 2, Oakland, CA 94609.

49 Comments

In memory of Norman Levitt, I have just sent NCSE a contribution of $18 – the numerical equivalent of the Hebrew word for “life”.

Didn’t you mean, “…what he’s full of”?

So, he’s just another loser whining about everybody who held him up to standards and noted that he didn’t measure up.

Is there a prominent IDist who doesn’t fit that pathetic profile?

Glen Davidson http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p

I imagine Fuller can expect references to this at his own passing, along with the obligatory laughing at his Kitzmiller performance. Nice legacy, Steve.

Fuller, in trying to describe Levitt’s supposed cyber-fascism whereby “a certain well-educated but (for whatever reason) academically disenfranchised group of people have managed to create their own parallel universe of what is right and wrong in matters of science, which is backed up (at least at the moment) by nothing more than a steady stream of invective” inadvertently describes the ID brigade rather well.

I feel obliged to make some clarifying comments here, since “science studies” academics (some of whom have valid points to make) have broadly been referred to as “leftists”.

1) The term “leftist” is used in a very imprecise manner in the US. It has come to be used, in many contexts, to refer to anyone who does not self-associate with the current “conservative movement”. This makes the term almost meaningless.

2) If we define the “extreme left” as being composed of those who advocate authoritarianism and a command economy - a position I loathe, as does, almost by definition, almost any “liberal” or “progressive” - then the extreme left has been strongly associated with science denial, most notably Lysenkoism. In my view, authoritarianism and rigid ideology are the common factors that associate with science denial by political movements.

3) I don’t know what the politics of this group of academics actually are. Their political views may not, in every case, even be coherent.

4) There is a strong association between the rhetoric and legislation proposals of the current Republican party, and both denial of human contribution to climate change, and support for sectarian creationism being taught as science in public schools.

5) The rhetoric and legislative proposals of the Democratic party and independent senator Bernie Sanders are not associated with major science denial.

6) No major party advocates definitive acceptance of astrology, special powers of crystals/pyramids, terrestrial visits by aliens, tarot cards as predictors of future events, ghosts, or any other such thing. In my view, these types of beliefs neither amount to an outright denial of major scientific theories, nor are associated strongly with any particular political belief, but at any rate, such an association is not very relevant if present, as such beliefs don’t seem to provoke official denial of science or violation of rights.

8) The views of “post-modern theorist” academics are communicated only to a very small segment of society, most of whom probably don’t take them seriously. One could note a slight parallel between the activities of these academics and the activities of DI fellows - churn out what is expected for a pay check. However, I think that the activity of the former group is far less cynical and socially harmful. In some cases, some of it may even be beneficial.

9) Although it is very clear that many conservatives are supporters of and experts in science, and although post-modern theorist academics are associated, correctly or not, with relatively liberal views, and although the extreme left (if defined to mean authoritarian communists) is strongly associated with extreme science denial -

We should not lose sight of the fact that “post-modern theory” is a rare, weak anti-scientific force, and that creationism and climate change denial are much more serious, and have the implicit support, or at least tolerance, of a major political party.

Also, Steve Fuller seems to be a real jerk.

I should also add, Fuller, as an overt advocate of outright ID/creationism, is atypical of even “post-modern theorists”.

As a group, they may deserve much criticism, but Fuller should be singled out for special criticism.

Rob said:

Fuller, in trying to describe Levitt’s supposed cyber-fascism whereby “a certain well-educated but (for whatever reason) academically disenfranchised group of people have managed to create their own parallel universe of what is right and wrong in matters of science, which is backed up (at least at the moment) by nothing more than a steady stream of invective” inadvertently describes the ID brigade rather well.

Projection has always been a pillar of fundamentalist paranoia and their ID/creationism pseudo-science.

I think it is interesting and (mostly) wrong to describe the “higher nonsense” as “left wing”. It helps first of all to note that what is often groped under the “higher nonsense” is actually a wide variety of specific species and sub-species of the genus “epistemological relativism,” which in turn shold be placed within the broader frame of the class of “relativism”.

That said, when one examines the roots of these various forms of epistemological relativism, they actually go back to the European inter war right, and in some instances, deep into the late 19th century right. It is mostly a revolt against the homogenizing influence of modernism, which includes of course the influence of a broadly scientific world view with its roots in the Enlightenment.

It should come as no surpise that ID proponents often seek to justify much of what they do by reference to various forms of the higher nonsense, or that people like Steve Fuller, who throws the term “fascist” around without obviously having any understanding of what a fascist is and is not, would make common cause with the proponents of ID.

As Larry Laudan puts it in Science and Relativism

“I did not write this work merely with the aim of setting the exegetical record straight. My larger target is those contemporaries who – in repeated acts of wish-fulfillment – have appropriated conclusions from the philosophy of science and put them to work in aid of a variety of social cum political causes for which those conclusions are ill adapted. Feminists, religious apologists (including “creation scientists”), counterculturalists, neoconservatives, and a host of other curious fellow-travelers have claimed to find crucial grist for their mills in, for instance, the avowed incommensurability and underdetermination of scientific theories. The displacement of the idea that facts and evidence matter by the idea that everything boils down to subjective interests and perspectives is – second only to American political campaigns – the most prominent and pernicious manifestation of anti-intellectualism in our time.”

— Larry Laudan (Science and Relativism: Some Key Controversies in the Philosophy of Science) http://books.google.com/books?id=-s[…]s_navlinks_s

Chip Poirot said: … It should come as no surpise that ID proponents often seek to justify much of what they do by reference to various forms of the higher nonsense, …

The Ken Ham crowd’s shtick, “same evidence, different interpretations from different philosophical perspectives,” comes from this same cesspool.

This idea that data are interpreted “depending on one’s ‘philosophical perspective’” has been hogwash from its inception. It requires only a few trivial examples to refute it.

Harold raises a number of points, but space and time only allow a surface response to a few:

harold said: 2) If we define the “extreme left” as being composed of those who advocate authoritarianism and a command economy - a position I loathe, as does, almost by definition, almost any “liberal” or “progressive” - then the extreme left has been strongly associated with science denial, most notably Lysenkoism. In my view, authoritarianism and rigid ideology are the common factors that associate with science denial by political movements.

I think what you are really getting at is the attitude of the “true believer” that is unwilling to allow evidence to undermine a world view. Lysenkoism is actually a pretty broad term. The overall thrust of Lysenko himself seemed to be an effort to find a “dialectical” approach to evolution rather than a “mechanical” approach to evolution. A lesser part of this was an implicit and sometimes explicit belief in quasi-Lamarckism.

I wouldn’t say that Lysenkoism per se is “anti-science” so much as it is very, very, very bad science. If Lysenko had just been a single researcher, or worse, a journal editor, his ideas would eventually have been weeded out. Lysenkoism was pernicious because it was rigidly and brutally enforced by the Soviet heirarchy, that wanted to subordinate science to political ideology.

By the 1960’s, Soviet Science completely abandoned Lysenkoism and fully accepted the Neo-Darwinian synthesis. Among American and British Marxists Lysenko has never been taken seriously. Even Lewontin’s occasional forays into “dialectical” biology have in the end turned out to be not very different from Mayr’s holism, and Lewontin completely accepts modern genetics.

3) I don’t know what the politics of this group of academics actually are. Their political views may not, in every case, even be coherent.

Mostly confused. They like to talk radical. A few of them think they are Marxists. Very few of them can even explain why Marx argued that the long run rate of profit falls. By and large they don’t get involved in concrete political issues like anti-war protests. Mostly, they confine their protests to the semiotic and their radicalism to clever (or turgid) turns of phrase.

We should not lose sight of the fact that “post-modern theory” is a rare, weak anti-scientific force, and that creationism and climate change denial are much more serious, and have the implicit support, or at least tolerance, of a major political party.

Its influence has waned, but it still has influence in many respects.

Projection has always been a pillar of fundamentalist paranoia and their ID/creationism pseudo-science.

But, to be honest, we should recognize that all of us tend to presume that others see things more or less the way we do. Fundies take everything on faith, they assume everyone else arrives at “knowledge” the same way. But realists also presume that fundies respect evidence and are always pointing out evidence-based inconsistencies and refutations. As though evidence actually mattered.

So the scientifical types presume that our trolls are simply doing a poor job of marshalling evidence to build a logical case for some conclusion derived from these. And the creos presume that the scientifical types start with foregone conclusions (what other kind of conclusion can there possibly be anyway?) which are wrong a priori, rendering all “evidence-based support” (whatever that is) as irrelevant as their own.

Bottom line: we are ALL projecting. We can’t help it. And so we totally misunderstand faith-based emotional conviction. We PROJECT “logical inference based on observational evidence” onto it, it doesn’t fit, and we conclude that creos are either stupid or dishonest scientists - just like they assume we are either stupid or dishonest worshipers of a false god.

Flint said:

Bottom line: we are ALL projecting. We can’t help it. And so we totally misunderstand faith-based emotional conviction. We PROJECT “logical inference based on observational evidence” onto it, it doesn’t fit, and we conclude that creos are either stupid or dishonest scientists - just like they assume we are either stupid or dishonest worshipers of a false god.

I’m not sure it’s that simple. All of us, scientific types and faith types, live in a world in which reality slaps us in the face second-by-second.

If we fail to respond to objective reality in ways that acknowledge that reality, we die and others will notice and perhaps adjust their own actions to be in closer conformity to reality.

The issue comes down to just where one draws the line in declaring that one type of view of the universe is as good as the other.

A few hundred years of scientific experience has taught us that this kind of objective reality extends considerably beyond mundane daily experience, and that it is as solid in those “abstract unfamiliar” circumstances as it is in daily life.

But somewhere in the chain from obvious daily experience to the realms explored by science, the faith types abandon the behaviors and acknowledgement of reality that keep us all alive in our daily lives. That point of abandonment is usually exactly the place where the realities of science conflict with sectarian dogma.

If abandoning acknowledgement of reality is irrational in daily life, it is no less irrational in the extensions of reality that have been explored and validated by science and experience.

Did a postmodernist/social relativist professor ever give a student less than straight “A”s? How could they possibly justify doing so?

AnswersInGenitals said: Did a postmodernist/social relativist professor ever give a student less than straight “A”s? How could they possibly justify doing so?

Because while on some interpretation you must be right, on some other one you must be wrong. So in theory any and every grade is equally well justified. Including a “Z,” “$-,” or “Blue.” In practice, the interpretation that matters most is the professor’s. (But in that respect postmodernists are not unique…)

If abandoning acknowledgement of reality is irrational in daily life, it is no less irrational in the extensions of reality that have been explored and validated by science and experience.

I left out one important observation: that I’m talking about a view inside a mental compartment where logic and evidence are prohibited any entry. I’ve worked with ardent creationists in an engineering setting for years without learning of their religious orientation - UNTIL we crossed that invisible line and reason and evidence did not follow us.

As before, I’ve compared this with foot-binding. Doesn’t mean there’s anything stunted about other body parts. But the feet are beyond recovery.

I agree with Mr. Flint that we all project to some extent. But I would argue that such projection is not necessarily as reciprocal as he implies. I discussed projection by creationists (to a nearly deafening silence) in an article called I am firm, thou art stubborn, he is pigheaded. I think my view is closer to Mr. Elzinga’s.

Looking at his replies to the comments on his blog, Fuller sounds like a first class douchebag.

It’s funny. I distinctly recall during the Dover controversy that Fuller distanced himself from post-modernism, going so far as to call himself a critic of the movement. This came in response to the obvious point that his advocation of ID as an alternative to methodological naturalism, despite its failure to inspire any productive research, was quintessentially postmodern.

Flint said:

I left out one important observation: that I’m talking about a view inside a mental compartment where logic and evidence are prohibited any entry. I’ve worked with ardent creationists in an engineering setting for years without learning of their religious orientation - UNTIL we crossed that invisible line and reason and evidence did not follow us.

Indeed, compartmentalization can work very well as long as the rest of society can take up the slack.

But, as you say, there is a line that is crossed; but that is where it becomes extremely important that the habits of rationality prevail.

For example, when dealing with world population and the human impact on the planet’s climate and ecosystems, having to wrangle endlessly with large segments of the population that have “different world views” can be deadly in the long run.

Many of us have seen this on a microcosm scale in corporations whose leaders refuse to listen to the experts warning them that they are out of touch with reality. And then events unfold just as predicted by the experts.

One of the hidden dangers of comfortable, well-fed populations and well-oiled food and resource distribution systems is that large segments of the population can essentially become parasitic and adopt beliefs and behaviors that are completely unsupportable in any kind of reality. If they become a majority in a society where each has a vote, that doesn’t bode well for the future of that society.

Flint said:

But, to be honest, we should recognize that all of us tend to presume that others see things more or less the way we do.

As I thought about you point some more, I think I may have misconstrued it in my response. My apologies if I did.

I do, in fact, “project” (if that is the right word) onto others that they think rationally (or should); especially if I see lots of if, then, therefore words in their rationalizations.

I tend to get a bit impatient with people whose facts or logic doesn’t track; so I guess in that sense I agree with you.

On the other hand, I might have put it a bit differently, namely, that I expect others living in the real world to have their understandings tempered by reality. When I don’t see that in a person, I presume he/she is out of touch with reality.

Steve Fuller managed to shoot himself in both feet. Kooks do that a lot, thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Creationists including the IDists do so all the time too. They can’t stop themselves from tossing out the names of jesus and god, quoting bible verses, and explaining how the earth is 6,000 years old because it says so in Genesis.

What they call scientific evidence, we call smoking guns for the next Dover style court case.

Evolutionist Norm Levitt now burns for eternity in the Lake of Fire with his father the devil! He doesn’t believe in evolutionism any more. Neither will any of you in due time!

Toidel Mahoney said:

Evolutionist Norm Levitt now burns for eternity in the Lake of Fire with his father the devil! He doesn’t believe in evolutionism any more. Neither will any of you in due time!

Intriguing. Are you suggesting the Devil is an advocate of the Strong Sociology of Knowledge Program?

Chip Poirot said:

Toidel Mahoney said:

Evolutionist Norm Levitt now burns for eternity in the Lake of Fire with his father the devil! He doesn’t believe in evolutionism any more. Neither will any of you in due time!

Intriguing. Are you suggesting the Devil is an advocate of the Strong Sociology of Knowledge Program?

The devil wears many disguises, and the strong sociology of knowledge is an idea that has been useful in leading many away for the straight and narrow. However, like most of his lies this one contains a grain of truth. If one accepts the idea autonomous human reason, all so-called “knowledge” really is just an arbitrary construct of some social group, and all “discourse” never leads to truth but is in fact just a tool by which some men manipulate others to get power. (Indeed, all of the so-called achievements of evolutionary science are merely skills in using the appropriate words in scientific journals to win the most applause.) However, true knowledge begins by rejecting autonomous human reason and embracing the Gospel of Christ Jesus.

This tour of the Dark Ages has been sponsored by the number after three, whatever that is, and not by any letters at all, because when Toidel gets done, nobody’s going to know any.

Yo, Toidel, if God wants us to reject reason, then why did he give us so much capacity for reason?

Don’t you think it’s a bit ungrateful to throw away the gifts God gave us? What other gifts to you want us to throw away – our eyes? Are you resentful because you threw away what you were given, and got nothing in return?

There’s so much beauty and richness in God’s creation, and all you can do is wallow in made-up stories of eternal sadistic punishment in a made-up place called Hell. That alone proves you have nothing positive to offer anyone, and, in all likelihood, no grasp of anything remotely resembling true connection with any God(ess).

Toidel Mahoney said:

Evolutionist Norm Levitt now burns for eternity in the Lake of Fire with his father the devil! He doesn’t believe in evolutionism any more. Neither will any of you in due time!

And Toidel continues to revel in the fact that he delights in being a monster with no redeeming qualities.

That, and he still doesn’t seem to realize that claiming who is and isn’t going to be in Hell, without God’s explicit permission is technically blasphemy of the highest order, right on par with driving people away from the Faith.

When will Toidel unmask and accept his Poe of the Year award? He’s doing a better job discrediting creationism than any ten straight-up pro-science commenters you could name.

driving people away from the Faith

If he intends to do that, he’s a genius, if he doesn’t he’s a moron. Either way, he’s a far more entertaining (fake) god-botherer than the smarmy likes of FL and Tray.

Mike Elzinga said:

One of the hidden dangers of comfortable, well-fed populations and well-oiled food and resource distribution systems is that large segments of the population can essentially become parasitic and adopt beliefs and behaviors that are completely unsupportable in any kind of reality. If they become a majority in a society where each has a vote, that doesn’t bode well for the future of that society.

Well said and very quotable, if a bit scary. Thanks for your clarity and pithiness, Mike.

Toidel Mahoney said:

Evolutionist Norm Levitt now burns for eternity in the Lake of Fire with his father the devil!

Especially remarkable in that Satan is within the sphere of ice, not the lake of fire.

Well, if Satan is in that sphere of ice, then he’s not on Earth leading anybody to the dark side. So that’s good, right?

Toidel Mahoney said:

… However, true knowledge begins by rejecting autonomous human reason and embracing the Gospel of Christ Jesus.

OK, I’ll bite (but probably regret it). What “true knowledge” does the Gospel reveal about oh, say, the nature of the Moon, or of viruses? How about how to get my old mower to start?

If knowledge on subjects like that is uncovered by someone who doesn’t “embrace” that Gospel, is it not “true”?

Was the knowledge of how to build the computer and the internet you’re using developed 100% by embracers?

BTW, which Gospel? My Bible contains 4 separate ones, each labeled as a Gospel. And in some places they completely disagree with each other. I need to know which is the right one to embrace, so that I don’t end up in that Hell you’re so fond of.

Henry J said:

Well, if Satan is in that sphere of ice, then he’s not on Earth leading anybody to the dark side. So that’s good, right?

I’m pretty sure Dan was making a literary reference to Dante. That would put Satan at the bottom of a huge hole centered at the antipode of Jerusalem. Or, -144.7993°N, -31.7857°W. Nearest major land mass: New Zealand! Um…no comment…

I’m pretty sure Dan was making a literary reference to Dante.

That’s what I figured, too.

Henry J said:

I’m pretty sure Dan was making a literary reference to Dante.

That’s what I figured, too.

I thought he meant Callisto.

Still waitin’, TM. Which Gospel? My soul is in peril!

Just Bob said:

What “true knowledge” does the Gospel reveal about oh, say, the nature of the Moon, or of viruses? How about how to get my old mower to start?

This is from the long-suppressed Gospel according to Briggs and Stratton:

Taketh the cord in thy hand. If thy write with thy right hand, then take the cord in thy right hand. If thy write with thy left hand, then take the cord in thy left hand.

Yankth the cord most mightilly. If the LORD favors thee, the motor will cough once. If the LORD truly favors thee, the motor will cough twice. But if you are wholly in the favor of the LORD, the motor will cough thrice. On no account must you even think of more than three coughs, for that is the voice of Satan.

In these cases, of the motor coughing one, or two, or three times, then yank and yank some more. If tiredness is yours, then ask your teen-aged son to get off his a** and give to you your due assistance. But in all of these three cases the power of the LORD will perforce inhabit the motor anon, and then a smooth lawn will be yours.

If, however, the motor does not cough at all with the first yank, then you are deep in the ways of sin. Get a dove, wrench its head from its body, and sprinkle the blood on the outside of the motor, in the manner prescribed in Leviticus. Then yank some more, and when the motor finally warms up, it will make an odor pleasing to the LORD.

As repulsive as Steve Fuller is, we do have to thank him for his creepy crappy testimony in Kitzmiller. Transparent wankers can sometimes be very useful.

Toidel Mahoney said:

Chip Poirot said:

Toidel Mahoney said:

Evolutionist Norm Levitt now burns for eternity in the Lake of Fire with his father the devil! He doesn’t believe in evolutionism any more. Neither will any of you in due time!

Intriguing. Are you suggesting the Devil is an advocate of the Strong Sociology of Knowledge Program?

The devil wears many disguises, and the strong sociology of knowledge is an idea that has been useful in leading many away for the straight and narrow. However, like most of his lies this one contains a grain of truth. If one accepts the idea autonomous human reason, all so-called “knowledge” really is just an arbitrary construct of some social group, and all “discourse” never leads to truth but is in fact just a tool by which some men manipulate others to get power. (Indeed, all of the so-called achievements of evolutionary science are merely skills in using the appropriate words in scientific journals to win the most applause.) However, true knowledge begins by rejecting autonomous human reason and embracing the Gospel of Christ Jesus.

Not that I’m really taking you seriously, mind you, but there is some passing entertainment value here. And besides, it does confirm a few sneaking suspicions I have long nurtured:

1. Calvin’s dictum that when faith and scripture come into conflict with reason and experience, one should fall back on faith and scripture, due to as you imply, the fallen capacities of human reasoning bears an interesting resemblance to the idea that we are brains in a vat or that an evil demon/trickster god has pulled the wool over our eyes;

2. The concept of “false consciousness” too bears an uncanny resemblance to the idea that Satan is deceiving us all with sin;

3. The presuppositionalist school of apologetics isn’t all that far removed from some of the more far out interpretations of Kuhn.

But let’s say that I really am being deceived (literally) by an evil demon (or rather a fallen angel). How can I know that my deception is not just another layer in yet a wider vat of deception? Perhaps there is a brain in a vat, beyond the brain in the vat-turtles all the way down, in another words, so to speak. Maybe Satan is just misunderstood and is ultimately the mother of all perspectives-maybe the God calling Satan evil is simply a being with the manners of a small spoiled child throwing a tantrum because some angel disagreed.

It’s a problem that goes back at least to The Euthyphro . Are the gods good because they are gods, or gods because they are good?

Norm Levitt was Jewish, not even xian much less a Real Xian like the RCC’s, fundies, or whichever of the 38,000 sects is the One True Religion.

So he was going to hell no matter what he did. Might as well defend evolution and laugh at Postmoderism while he was at it. In for a penny, in for a pound.

The OT god was an inept, genocidal maniac. Many of his modern day followers are noted chiefly for their open hatred, dislike of knowledge, continual lying, and occasional human child sacrifice by witholding medical care.

I suspect some xians have gotten god and satan mixed up and are worshipping the wrong supernatural being. It would explain a lot.

As C S Lewis remarked, for a devil to dress up as an angel is only a parade-ground exercise. They’re very good at it.

So, how do you know when it’s the devil whispering to you? Well, there is a rule: you know them by their fruits. So here we have Toidel delighting in anger, cruelty, suffering, calumny, hate and crude revenge against a man he never knew, over injuries that don’t exist. I wonder who’s in his ear?

I suspect some xians have gotten god and satan mixed up and are worshipping the wrong supernatural being. It would explain a lot.

Not to mention the ones that give the appearance of worshipping Darwin - or at least attributing to him considerable power over people after (or sometimes even before?) his time, all out of proportion given that he was but one scientist. Sure, he happened to get somewhere before his competition got there, and so became famous, but still, if he hadn’t, somebody else would have (especially the one that almost got there before him).

Henry

From the comments of Fullers blog:

As for your threat to take it down, that would be in its own small way, your version of the burning of the Library of Alexandria. But rest assured that it would be in vain. To my knowledge at least two copies of this whole thread to date have been filed, by people like myself who recognise it for the classic that it is, and it will no doubt appear elsewhere on the Web in its own good time. As they next enter the seminar room, lecture hall, public lavatory or wherever it is you hold your classes, half your students will probably have the whole thing on their laptops, and by the end of that class they all will.

Ouch.

Okay, I’m reading the whole thing now, comments included. Wow. I’m inclined to think Fuller is either the classic and archetypal “troll” or incredibly deluded, but I’m open to the possibility that he’s some combination of the two.
Hey Nick, did you notice how you admitted Levitt was a fascist in your Talk Reason post? Didya? That claim is so bizarre it justifies every perception people have of post-modernism as “anything goes, except what the author said!”

Fuller has cut off comments.

Dave Wisker said:

Fuller has cut off comments.

What a cyber-fascist!

No, seriously. From reading his later comments this was all apparently an elaborate ruse to draw out examples of significant contributions made by Levitt from people so offended by Fuller’s vitriol that they were moved to defend him (I think that qualifies as the textbook definition of trolling).
Instead, what he got was a bunch of people who, rightly indignant at Fuller’s atrocious behavior, taking him to task for being a world-class jerk. When he found out that acting like a jerk gets people calling you a jerk instead of dancing on strings to your unspoken request, he got pissy and locked the thread. He basically tried to bully readers into doing some hidden task for him and threw a hissy-fit when they called him out. So much for making the world safe for “Making the university safe for intellectual life in the 21st century.”
If it was just the jerk-ishness by itself, that’d be one thing: the bizarre series of claims elevated it to a whole new level of intellectual squick. Forget the part about comparing post-modernists in academia to Jews under Nazi rule or closet homosexuals, the idea that Ophelia Benson was actually blaming him for the death of ‘potentilla’ shows a remarkable willingness to make himself the victim. Even if you didn’t know he was calling a dead critic a fascist, accusing Nick of agreeing with him that Levitt was a fascist and then never addressing the claim again clearly shows gutless dishonesty. The fact that he claims this was about drawing some evidence of the significance of Levitt’s work out of people by getting them all worked up over rotten behavior indicates that he has no idea how to communicate clearly with others, or simply prefers not to in favor of guile and insults.
Or maybe he was just afraid that people would remember Levitt by his passing and then think badly of poor, persecuted Steve Fuller because Sokal got the drop on him and his fellows. Worse still, maybe they wouldn’t remember Fuller at all.

I’m sorry Fuller locked the thread on his site. There I was, about to come to his defense by reminding everyone that asshattery is a social construction.

There is a version of Hell in which William Dembski and Steve Fuller are locked in a room together for eternity. The room is furnished with two of everything, but it has only one mirror

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This page contains a single entry by Nick Matzke published on October 28, 2009 4:22 PM.

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