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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE (2012), HUMANITY ENHANCED (2014), and THE MYSTERY OF MORAL AUTHORITY (2016).

Sunday, March 06, 2011

"Tom Johnson" outed

Nothing to add to PZ's concise summary or Ophelia's first-hand account (and see all the links) ... but just in case you missed it. I think I said at the time of his first fess up, when much love and forgiveness was being offered, that I still didn't trust him. But that's history.

Edit: Hmmm, well I said this, which is not quite the same thing, or, rather, it's more specific. All the same ... Oh, and I think at that point he was (falsely) denying that he was a graduate student and claiming that that had been a lie to cover his tracks, so there actually were big revelations to come. But really, this guy's twists and turns make my head hurt.


josef johann said...

I was hoping that if he was ever outed it would somehow bear a rational relation to the goal of correcting misperceptions spread by that same person.

I think we can move on from this with a little-reference icon of intellectually bankrupt claims of shrillness from new atheists and the lengths that were taken by one person to make these arguments.

At least, that's the productive lesson I'm hoping comes from it. And it is a (very) extreme example of a wider phenomenon- seeing more atheist shrillness than is there, and seeing more relevance in it than is there.

The risk at the opposite end of the spectrum is taking it to mean more than it did and to wrongly stigmatize critics of atheists.

Ophelia Benson said...

"We" can move on from it (once Wally [and possibly others] stop[s] playing silly buggers), but I'm in somewhat less of a hurry. (At the same time I am in a hurry, because there are some areas that still have to be left in shadows, so too much attention is a source of unease.) It's partly personal. Wally's tried hard to trash any reputation I might have; I resent that; I have an interest in exposing all his works.

Dave Ricks said...

"Oswald acted alone" may account for the JFK assassination, but "Wally acted alone" would not account for the Original Posters and their commenters who were happy to rebroadcast Wally's lies about gnus. I'll refrain from criticizing anyone in this post by name -- but we still need a model for the interests involved.

I suggest the gnus are like Byron the Bulb disrupting the Phoebus cartel. The cartel is comprised of more than one kind of person or career. Of course, we recognize the accommodationists (asserting religions are compatible with science). But more generally, the cartel may include people who created their careers to work in the status quo of the '80s, '90s, and '00s (so this is partly about branding, reputation, and job security). And with good intentions, some cartel members may be acting on their ethical intuition, assuming a believer B "should" remain a believer B, and if science education changes the belief of a believer B (even accidentally, in a non-confrontational way), that education violates the Starfleet Prime Directive (which happens almost every episode anyway). The gnus have a more progressive view that a person P can change, and change can be positive.

Russell Blackford said...

I've gotta love a commenter who makes obscure references to Thomas Pynchon.

Dave Ricks said...

Thanks. When I found the Wikipedia page for Phoebus, I thought it was an elaborate hack the mods hadn't deleted yet. But then I realized, it's true -- the Phoebus cartel (1924-1939) was the origin of our present-day planned obsolescence, and Pynchon was making an obscure reference to reality. And I found it apropos of accommodationism, because they can sell progress, but their product is no progress.

By the way, I bet you'll enjoy this obscure reference to Salman Rushdie -- because I'm not just intellectual, I'm pseudo-intellectual.