Building bridges

Wally Smith wrote an article on a forthcoming book in October 2009. In fact it’s dated October 26, 2009, which happens to be the date of Chris Mooney’s “My Thanks to ‘Tom Johnson’” post. The opening paragraph of Mooney’s article, given all that we know now, is so richly ironic that one feels dizzy reading it.

Last week, the New Atheist comment machine targeted the following post, in which I republished a preexisting blog comment from a scientist named “Tom Johnson” (a psuedonym). In the comment, Johnson had related  how some of his New Atheist-inspired scientist colleagues had behaved toward religious folks at bridge-building conservation events.

You see what I mean, I’m sure. Mooney insults us for being skeptical about a post that smelled like dead fish at the time and is known to be certified, thrice-rotten, hypertoxic dead fish now, a post by a dedicated liar and trash-talker and one-man “comment machine.”

Let’s take a look at the fragrant work of the trash-talking comment-machine writing (for once) under his own name.

He says he hasn’t read the book yet, which is fine, because he’s not reviewing it, he’s discussing the collaboration of the co-authors, a pastor and a scientist (who are also married), and the general collaboration of what he calls “the faith-based community” and science. He’s in favor of the collaboration. He’s against what he sees as obstacles to the collaboration. He spots one in particular…

…engaging the religious seems to be low on the list of scientists’ priorities. Instead, some leading scientists are running (quickly) in the opposite direction, holding contests to come up with the most mocking labels for scientists and others willing to engage the faithful. Blog exchanges on the topic by respected scholars have reached zero consensus and read like they belong more on an elementary school playground than in any serious, forward-looking public forum. As a scientist speaking about his own field, there’s little more to call this than a disgrace – especially so if we ever expect to apply science effectively beyond peer-reviewed journals.

Oh what do you know – it’s all about Jerry Coyne. As it was in the beginning, so it was at the end – it was all about that pesky Jerry Coyne. (If it hadn’t been, I might not have sniffed him out. Think about that, Wally. Your obsessions give you away.) Jerry Coyne, unlike our author, belongs on an elementary school playground…far away from the scatological fantasies Wally engaged in as the YNH bloggers.

His conclusion is stirring:

Hopefully Hayhoe and Farley’s book will be a welcome change of pace in terms of building bridges – not breaking them down – and will help us realize that, if we spend all our time fighting “enemies” in a culture war, all of us are going to lose.

Wally has invested quite a lot of time in fighting his perceived enemies over the past year and a half, but it’s nice to have his advice anyway.

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