The prodigal returns

So, remember a month ago I wondered about this new Mystery Commenter who went by the name “Hammill” and whose central, indeed almost only, subject seemed to be the sadly naughty ways of the gnu atheists, and who showed a strangely excessive interest in me, and Jerry Coyne, and me again? Remember how I said it reminded me of someone? Remember how I said that someone was “Tom Johnson”/You’re Not Helping/William?

Well that’s who it is. I’ve been able to confirm it.


So the discussion has been distorted by a guy with a known agenda and history posing as someone new and unknown. Someone who frowned gently in concern that people disagreed with Chris Mooney. Someone who worries about people “throwing around” the word “lies”…

Just look at the terms used to describe positions: unfair representation, misrepresentation, intellectual dishonesty. I think the terms “lies” and “deliberate distortion” have been thrown around in the past. I realize that much of that language stems from the “blood feud” you mention above, but the division seems great and very real. IMO the blood feud is getting in the way of actual progress.

That’s Tom Johnson, the guy who lied about that notorious conference where the notorious things he described didn’t happen. That’s YNH, who repeatedly said on his blog I was telling lies here. That’s Milton C, who told lies about me in comments here.


So he’s saddened by the rough and tumble of the “blogosphere“:

Part of me almost wishes that the entire debate were taking place in a refereed journal rather than the blogosphere, due to the inherent incivility that the internet brings. Perhaps that could corral the personal disputes a bit and focus a laser beam on the core issues.

That’s YNH, who knows a thing or two about incivility on the internet!

He spent the months between July and January honing his skills, perhaps. He was a good bullshitter, for awhile.

There are much deeper issues at play in terms of communication than “stop being so loud” and “stop talking so frequently.” The issue seems much more nuanced and complex than this, perhaps by several orders of magnitude; however, I believe it often erroneously gets simplified down to the statement above, and the debate suffers because of it.

Sounds convincing, doesn’t he.

He didn’t, quite, to me, even then. People don’t usually talk that stiffly on blogs. He was hyper-correcting, as it were. And then where had he come from, all of a sudden? He seemed awfully familiar with the subject matter for someone unknown. But I was only generally suspicious. At first.

But so what?

So he poisoned the well, that’s what.

I appreciate this piece very much, Andrew. I’m a nonbeliever that is frequently ashamed to be associated with some of the vitriol that comes from our side of the aisle. We need more people, like yourself, to speak out for a positive, forward-looking kind of nonbelief….

….even if doing so only directs the vitriol in your direction. I’ve noticed the link above leads to site where you are being accused of not being a nonbeliever simply for your opinions on tone. Furthermore, some of the vitriol and invective (ignorant, arrogant, immoral, unethical, bitter, bullsh@t, etc.) directed at you is disturbing. Include the discussion about what to call “pseudoatheists” like yourself and the message seems clear: the goal is to marginalize you and bully you into not seeking to take nonbelief in a positive direction.

“The link above” is, of course, to B&W. I loom large in his pantheon of hate-objects. He’s doing his little bit to swell the chorus of hatred against the evil gnus, and he’s doing it in a mask, because all his previous masks got covered in excrement which won’t wash off.

And not just once. Another opportunity presented itself, and there he was, all eager for the treat:

I can agree with much of the substance coming out of the gnu atheist community but cringe mostly at its delivery. At times the rhetoric and invective makes me embarrassed to even be associated with them, however tangentially, as a nonbeliever.

Same old thing. That was when I really suspected he was TJ, and I confronted him:

We’ve seen this kind of thing before.

Will you be shyly confiding in “Rob” about your experiences at conservation conferences soon?

Who are you?

As far as I know he hasn’t commented since. Sad for him. But he’s had plenty of effect, there’s no reason to doubt that. That bolus of antignu hatred is larger than it would have been without him.

Update: and see Paul W’s comment on the stranger thread. Says it all.

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