I’ve been blogging a lot lately about the hostility brewing in the comments section of Chris Mooney’s blog The Intersection as well as Mooney’s recent antagonism towards those who criticize faith in the name of science, like PZ Myers in particular. Well for someone who just wrote a book advocating for better communication and less antagonistic discourse in science, Mooney is a failure when it comes to practicing what he preaches.
I’m reminded of Randy Olsen’s hypocritical rants on the Skepticality podcast where he, like Mooney, argued that scientists make bad communicators and touted himself as a great expert in communicating science because he’s not antagonistic, etc, etc. But for such a great communicator advocating against antagonizing the people he’s is trying to persuade, he failed to persuade me and I’m sure failed to persuade the scientists he was trying to convince mainly because he was every bit as antagonistic towards us and our position as he accused us of being. And he, like Mooney, made it all about him. All this talk about “framing” (which for the record, I don’t 100% disagree with) and creating a narrative, but in that narrative Olsen and Mooney try to cast themselves as the saviors and those who happen to disagree as “militants.” And then they innocently shake their heads like they can’t understand why their opponents disagree.
While I’ve heard from many great skeptical minds who criticized Mooney in the past, I still mostly liked him. I read his blog on a regular basis, and when this one issue wasn’t the sole focus, I thought he had a lot of great stuff on his blog. Now he’s begun to behave like a crank by projecting what seems to be his own dogmatism onto those he disagrees with. I recognize that Mooney’s done a lot of good for the promotion of science but now his recent childish behavior has soured me on him significantly.
Now Mooney has written a blog purely to criticize PZ Myers for one particular quote not from Myers but merely left by a commenter on Myers’ site, which Mooney called a “classic quote from PZ’s blog,” misleading readers to believe it came from Myers himself when it hadn’t. Now I’m going to give Mooney the benefit of the doubt (one more time) and just assume that this was just a grevious error on his part and not a diliberate attempt to misrepresent PZ Myers’ position.
It comes off as incredibly childish and possibly vindictive of Mooney after receiving a bad review from Myers who is allegedly specifically singled out in Mooney’s book as being what’s wrong with the public understanding of science. And after being sent a review copy of the book, Myers pretty much left the personal criticisms alone and focused on his legitimate criticisms of the conclusions in the book. Mooney then just basically told people to ignore what Myers says because Myers is just a bitter “New Atheist” who couldn’t take being personally singled out as the problem in the book. But if Mooney was just going to dodge Myers’ substantive arguments anyway with a simple, “he’s just a dogmatic militant atheist” gambit, why bother sending a review copy of the book to Myers in the first place?
I knew Mooney’s position on this issue before but could easily overlook it as a small disagreement. Now, I can no longer do that. I’m sure I’ll continue to read his blog, but now I feel like when I do, there’s just going to be a bitter taste in my mouth.
And I guarantee you that Mooney does not want himself judged by quotes from the commenters on his blog, which are mostly far more childish and asinine than what you’ll find in the comments section of Myers’ blog, particular if you pull any given quote by John Kwok, a very regular commenter on Mooney’s blog.