Not Helping what?

I’m left with one question in particular about Chris Mooney’s position at the Secular Humanism bash yesterday. He kept saying various versions of ”you’re not helping!” That’s not helping; I still wonder how that’s helping; I can’t see how that’s helping.

Here’s my question.

Helping what? What are we supposed to be helping with? What is this giant X that Mooney is so familiar with but I am not, that we are all supposed to join hands and help with?

Sometimes it seems to be science education in the US; sometimes it seems to be some kind of peace treaty with science; sometimes it seems to have to do with climate change…but most of the time it’s not even as definite as that, it’s just Unity For Its Own Sake.

But why?

Why are we supposed to be totally united at all times? Why are we under such relentless pressure not to have opinions that the majority does not share? Why are we assumed to have some vast overarching Project that requires unity and will Not Be Helped if we refuse to be drafted into that unity?

I don’t know. I really don’t. I don’t know why Mooney’s reaction, when PZ calls Francis Collins a clown, is to cry out in agitation that that is Not Helping. Not Helping what? What is it that PZ is supposed to want to do that will be Not Helped if (say) Francis Collins becomes annoyed with PZ? Or is the idea that PZ’s calling Collins a clown will Not Help some larger project that we all want to Help because Collins will abandon or sabotage that project out of annoyance at PZ? If so, 1) what is that project? and 2) if it’s that large, why would Collins abandon or sabotage it out of annoyance at PZ?

Really – Mooney seems to have this very easily-triggered terror that a critical comment from one person about one other person will cause some terrible, general, societal harm. But is the structure really that fragile? Are cascades that easy to set off? PZ calls Collins a clown and, whammo, children flee biology class, and Congress passes laws making fuel economy a felony, and the glaciers melt and everybody dies.

I just don’t get what the mechanism is supposed to be, and I don’t get what One Thing we are all supposed to be doing or working for or supporting that will be in jeopardy if too many gnu atheists say boisterous things about people who see the trinity in a waterfall.

I’m not doing One Thing. (Yes I know it looks that way a lot of the time, but even there, it’s really a lot of things, and besides, it only looks that way.) I have a lot of projects. We all do. We can get together with people for one project and then separate for some other project. We don’t have to all agree about everything in order to work together for some particular project. We don’t want to know. We don’t issue criteria for working on Project Q; we just work on it.

So what exactly is it that we’re Not Helping?

41 Responses to “Not Helping what?”

Leave a Comment

Subscribe without commenting