I’ll Take Humorless Douches for $1000, Alex

Remember Michael Heath? Who could forget, right? I just had an amusing encounter with him at Ed Brayton’s blog. Brayton was writing about a Worldnet Daily review of the Ken Hamm–Bill Nye debate. I guess it’s good that someone is willing to risk their brain cells by reading WND for the rest of us. I guess. Anyway, one of the bits he quoted was as follows.

Darwin acknowledged early on that, in order for his theory to be proven true, archaeologists and scientists would have to find an abundance of intermediate or transitionary forms throughout the world showing one species evolving into another all the way up the evolutionary chain. The lack of these forms is the so-called “missing link,” although it might be better described as a “worldwide absence of missing links.”

My comment was,

a “worldwide absence of missing links.”

Hold the phone, folks, he actually got that one right!

Just a throw-away joke, right? Not to our ever-so-serious friend, Michael, who wrote:

Pedantically yes, and I get your joke, but put yourself within the context of being raised fundie to be a YEC where your public school doesn’t teach evolution. Imagine repeatedly hearing there are no missing links and no fossil evidence. Now imagine going to college and taking courses that report on the fossil observations used to build the theory of evolution.

Your first gasp is to actually see transitional forms and the evolution of these forms. The next gasp is for the sheer volume, the many tons, of actual fossils discovered in so many parts of the globe. That’s my story, and while I never bought the Bible’s fantastical claims or the creationist bullshit jammed down my throat, many years later I remain astounded at the degree of effort involved in building the theory of evolution, the number of people, the money spent, and the energy expended.

Here’s one of the best books that attempts to get its readers to appreciate the volume of findings, it also makes for a great set of adventurous stories, Sean B. Carroll’s Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Search for the Origin of Species [my review]

“I get your joke, but…” Isn’t there a general rule that anytime you add “but” you falsify your initial statement? “I’m not racist, but…” “I don’t really care, but…” “I didn’t mean to offend anyone, but…”

I’m glad for the lecture, but…

About James Hanley

James Hanley is former Associate Professor of Political Science at Adrian College and currently an independent scholar.
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47 Responses to I’ll Take Humorless Douches for $1000, Alex

  1. Dr X says:

    I’m sorry, James, but this isn’t funny, but I laughed.

  2. lancifer666 says:

    As you know, Heath is one of my least favorite people at Brayton’s blog.

    The word condescension is several orders of magnitude too weak to describe his turgid and self-important posts.

  3. Heath is one of the primary reasons I don’t bother to comment on Brayton’s blog anymore. Brayton would have a much richer diversity of opinion in his comments if he took but a moment or two to call Heath out. Especially when he’s being a much more blatant prick.

  4. J@m3z Aitch says:

    Do you think responding to a throw-away one-liner by someone who’s in agreement with you by giving them a long lecture on something they already know counts as being a “blatant” prick or just an average ordinary everyday prick?

  5. That is ordinary prick. Blatant prick is when he intentional misrepresents your position by making wild assumptions about you based upon what you said (following his own twisted logic to some conclusion he enjoys). You can’t even argue with that, because it becomes a game of “That is not what I said” & “You have no idea what thoughts I have on this topic”.

    Such blatant logical chicanery is decried by Brayton in a host of other contexts, but he tolerates it from Heath.

  6. J@m3z Aitch says:

    Thanks. I never took a good close look at prickery (self-knowledge ain’t my thing), so I wasn’t sure where the demarcation lines were.

  7. J@m3z Aitch says:

    To add on, my favorite example of the “wild assumptions about you” at Brayton’s place are those who assume Lance is a racist because he’s a libertarian. I’ve met his wife–she’s delightful, beautiful, tough, and African (and not Charlize Theron African!). I think some have even accused him of lying about her, which always gives me a laugh, because they’re so smugly self-assured about their false beliefs.

  8. Matty says:

    I still enjoy Brayton’s posts but yes the diversity of opinions seems to be narrowing almost daily. I think poor Heddle may be the only one left who dares disagree with the majority. Which is a shame since one of the benefit s of Dispatches is not being Pharyngula.

  9. Matty says:

    I forgot of course the notorious SLC/Colnago but since the main point he disagrees on is advocating mass murder I can’t find it in me to see his contribution as a plus.

  10. Yeah, that is a problem with a lot of blogs where the OP material is good, even great, but the commentariat are out of control, and the admin(s) do nothing to address it. So the echo chamber forms, and I can’t help but decide that the admin(s) are OK with it, which makes me loose a great deal of respect for them.

  11. Dr X says:

    I don’t comment there as frequently as I did at one time. Bored with it to some extent because it is mostly an echo chamber, but it also seems to have more PZ types there than it did when I first started visiting several years back. Do I need to explain what I mean by that? Probably not.

  12. lancifer666 says:

    Dr X,

    I’m afraid we all know what you mean by “PZ types”.

    Amusingly many of the Dispatches regulars malign PZ and his odious minions. Apparently Brayton’s followers aren’t monotone enough for the Pharynguloids!

  13. J@m3z Aitch says:

    Ditto all that on Dispatches, which is a shame (I hate pharyngula’s crowd more than I hate Notre Dame, the Yankees, and Texas combined). But I also read it less because the posts are so repetitive. 90% of the posts could be titled “Fundamentalist Acts Like an Idiot.” They’re all accurate, I just like more variety in my reading. I’ve not figured out how an intelligent guy like Brayton hasn’t gone mad from boredom reporting the same ol’ same ol’ all the time.

  14. lancifer666 says:


    My favorite was a guy (I forget his name) that insisted that my being married to a “black African” woman didn’t even mean I wasn’t racist against “blacks”!

    Yeah, I have pledged everything I have and will ever have to her…am trying to have a child with her thus blending my genetic and evolutionary future with her…spend all of our free time and money being with and helping her relatives (all black Africans of course)… have embraced her language and culture…

    and yet I’m STILL a racist!

    Apparently a very sneaky, deep cover racist with an inscrutable and very long term evil plan.

    We libertarians are like that.

  15. Dr X says:


    Thank you, Lance. I was looking for the right word.

  16. lancifer666 says:


    I think Brayton just keeps cranking out the same looney rightwing mockery stories to keep churning posts. I expect that his advertising income is tied to hits and if he doesn’t churn out threads that get the faithful frothed up he risks having to get a real job.

  17. Dr X says:

    Yes, there is a repetitive quality, the same posts often ridiculing the same people repeatedly. But even though it’s monotonous, I’m glad someone is going to the trouble of exposing these characters. I have, however, had the thought that a continuous diet of that material can have insidious effects on our thinking. I know I can get nastier in that environment. The norms for civility aren’t all they could be and many of us succumb to the influences of “the situation.”

    The other problem with a steady diet of outrage is that the worst characters can become the mental anchors for political stereotypes which can also make us more vulnerable to demonizing people with whom we disagree politically, though I must admit that the Christian right does provide a lot of provocative material. But then the same could be said for a subset of liberals who become the stereotype for conservatives. It’s easy to knock down fools, then dismiss everyone who carries the same political label.

    Okay, ban me from further commenting for the evening. I’ve got reports I must finish and was just asked by the mistress of the house if I’m actually working or just playing. She doesn’t realize that all of this is very serious business.

  18. lancifer666 says:

    Dr X,

    It could be fun to play Pharynguloid Bingo, or make it a drinking game.

    Like maybe you have to drink a shot every time the words rape culture or cis-gender are mentioned in a thread.

    If you made the word privilege the trigger you would be face down in your own vomit in minutes.

  19. Matty says:


    The other problem with a steady diet of outrage is that the worst characters can become the mental anchors for political stereotypes which can also make us more vulnerable to demonizing people with whom we disagree politically

    I think this is part of the reason I appreciate David Heddle, despite thinking Calvinism is one of the most unpleasant and unlikely views of God and humans I’ve ever encountered. The example of a devout Christian who accepts scientific evidence on evolution and supports separation of church and state can only be good at opposing stereotypes.

    Like maybe you have to drink a shot every time the words rape culture or cis-gender are mentioned in a thread.

    If you made the word privilege the trigger you would be face down in your own vomit in minutes.

    Lancifer, to be fair while those terms are overused and misused I do think each of them covers an idea that has it’s uses.

    Finally for know, is it ironic that we are all agreeing on our dislike of blogs that turn into echo chambers?

  20. pierrecorneille says:

    “Finally for know, is it ironic that we are all agreeing on our dislike of blogs that turn into echo chambers?”


  21. J@m3z Aitch says:

    Finally for know, is it ironic that we are all agreeing on our dislike of blogs that turn into echo chambers?

    Hell, no! (There, problem solved.)

  22. Troublesome Frog says:

    “People who hate people, come together!”


  23. lancifer666 says:


    I agree that many of the topics discussed at Pharyngula are important. The problem is that unless you espouse “the party line” on each one you are personally attacked, with zealous vigor, by the usual suspects.

    PZ encourages this behavior as some sort of intellectual cleansing and if you don’t immediately buckle under and actually persist in presenting an opposing, or even slightly different, opinion he will ban you.

    He’s the surly big fish in his own fetid little pond and has managed to alienate fellow “New Atheists” like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, since they dare to hold views that are not in lock step with his politically progressive “Atheism plus”.

    He would have made a great Stalinist.

  24. lancifer666 says:

    While doing an internet search on Atheism Plus I came upon the website Pharwrongula.


    Good stuff.

    Atheism+ refers to a sub-set of the gender feminist movement masquerading as a social justice movement masquerading as an atheist movement, started by Jen McCreight (rhymes with ‘wrong’) of Blag Hag

    It may also refer to the idea of “safe space” forum where people can discuss social justice issues free from disagreement (also known as a Large Moron Collider).

    They’re known for being exclusionary, assuming that non-members are assholes until proven otherwise – even if they agree with the causes in question but are skeptical about the group itself ; this has led to accusations of divisiveness.

    I almost fell out of my chair when I read the words “Large Moron Collider” (Clever spoof of Large Hadron Collider for the non-physics savy).

    That is inspired.

  25. ppnl says:

    When this subject comes up people compare Brayton with PZ but I actually prefer PZ’s blog. It isn’t about agreeing or disagreeing with them but about how much original thought and commentary they contain. Brayton’s blog has become an index of the activities of stupid people. Useful maybe. Maybe even important. But interesting? Not so much.

    You may disagree with PZ but there is at least something there to disagree with. He even occasionally does a science topic. For example:


    Now again you can agree or disagree but it is a complex opinion and analysis coming from him. I see very little complex analysis from Brayton. I mean that’s ok if that is what he wants to do but I just don’t find it very interesting. I need to find someone wrong on the internet.

  26. lancifer666 says:


    It isn’t the range of topics at Pharyngula that is the problem. It is the intolerance of any opinion that isn’t in precise agreement with the host and his little clique of enforcers.

  27. J@m3z Aitch says:

    I’m with lance here. The topics at pharyngula are fine, the tone and people are not.

    There’s also PZ’s blinding ignorance about economics, which doesn’t stop him from pretending he’s got something to say about capitalism. It’s too bad there’s no pill for Dunning-Krueger’s syndrome.

  28. Dr X says:


    It’s too bad there’s no pill for Dunning-Krueger’s syndrome.”

    Cyanide is very effective.

  29. lancifer666 says:

    Dr X,

    He he, that “cures” most ailments.

  30. ppnl says:

    Yes well I very very rarely read many of the comments on even the interesting posts. This is especially true of blog with a sizable commenting community. The nature of blogging comment software encourages that feeling of being ganged up on if you diverge from the party line. With proper deep threaded comments you could ignore all the threads that go nowhere and just follow what interests you. Sometimes I think the software is designed to create echo chambers.

    This is one of the few blogs where I usually read the comments.

  31. lancifer666 says:


    I guess the comment software could be a factor but the main reason that PZ’s comments are monochromatic and hostile is because Myers wants it that way.

    I can’t find it at the moment, but I recall a post by Myers stating that he wants his little sycophants to brutally rip into anyone that disagrees with them and their narrowly focused and intolerant views.

    He banned me for a paraphrase of his views on racial quotas. Not that I miss the place.

  32. Dr X says:

    By the way, when I read the title of this post, I thought it would be about Arthur Chu.

  33. Dr X says:

    BTW, my comment doesn’t reflect my attitude toward Mr. Chu. I merely thought you were going to discuss how annoying it is for some people when Jeopardy is played right.

  34. ppnl says:

    If you could find them I would love to read the exchange with PZ.

    I once got in a discussion with Greg Laden that was kind of ugly but not really heated or angry. Not banned. And with David Brin. I think I was only being a little bit snarky. Again not banned. But his idea that sending signals to contact E.T. is dangerous deserves some snark. Totally useless but about as far from dangerous as you can get.

    Fact is I’ve never been banned anywhere. When a discussion no longer serves any purpose I simply leave it.

  35. pierrecorneille says:

    I don’t read the blogs in question, so I haven’t much true idea of what I’m talking about here. But to Lance and the accusations of racism, I do suspect some of them see the fact that he has a spouse from Ethiopia (am I correct on the country?) as comparable to some people’s claims that because they have a black friend they can’t be racist. There is, for example, a scene in Ellison’s “Invisible Man” where an activist for the Brotherhood (which Ellison intended to represent the US Communist Party) lectures the protagonist about racism and purports to have a special understanding of the issue because he (the activist) is married to a black woman.

    I have absolutely no intention to claim Lance is like that. My brief internet acquaintance with him–just the comments on this blog–suggests in fact he’s not like that. But I can see how someone, as a first knee-jerk reaction, might assume that.

    And of course, it’s one thing to have a knee-jerk reaction, and quite another to use that reaction to form the basis of a charge of racism, and quite still another to continue lobbing such a charge once it’s been made. I also think the charge of “racism” often misses the mark or at least creates opportunities for conflict instead of discussion. It would be better to point out actions one sees as racist, explain why one finds them racist, and then be open to listening to others’ intent behind the actions. Or better yet, when an action seems racist, it often (not always) works well to ask the person who did it what he/she meant by that action before jumping to conclusions.

    I feel a little inconsiderate saying this because I don’t want to presume anything against Lance or in favor of the commentariat at these blogs, which from everyone’s descriptions seems to be even worse than Lawyers, Guns, and Money, and that’s a low bar indeed.

  36. Matty says:

    I’m a big fan of the “what they did not what they are” approach to racism. If someone says or does something that insults people based on race or treats them differently on that basis then address the action. Explain why doing that was a bad idea, preferably without assuming their motives one way or another.

    Since I’m not aware of Lance doing anything that might fit those categories of course there appears no case to answer but in general terms that is how to do it at least until you establish what a person is like.

  37. pierrecorneille says:


    I agree 100%, including the part about not being aware of anything Lance has said/done that would merit criticism.

  38. J@m3z Aitch says:

    Does keeping me up ’til 4 in the morning drinking count?

  39. lancifer666 says:

    Hi ppnl,

    Having a “black” friend and being married for eight years to an African woman are hardly the same thing.

    Below is the Merriam Websters on-line Dictionary’s definition of racism,/i>

    noun \ˈrā-ˌsi-zəm also -ˌshi-\

    1: poor treatment of or violence against people because of their race

    2: the belief that some races of people are better than others
    Full Definition of RACISM

    1: a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race

    2: racial prejudice or discrimination
    — rac·ist noun or adjective

    I expressed the idea that race was an unscientific and destructive concept. I specifically objected to government programs that awarded preferences and benefits based on “race” as perpetuating this caustic and irrational metric.

    This of course triggered accusations of racism.

    PZ had a thread about attracting more “black” people to the atheist “movement” by placing “black” people in positions of leadership in the “movement”.

    I objected that it was insulting, and condescending, to think that “black” people would be influenced to join atheist organizations by having atheist leaders that were phenotypically “black” installed in leadership positions. And that implementing an atheist “affirmative action” program was antithetical to the cause of an organization based on the idea of reason and rational action.

    Now, even if you disagree and think that race should be used as a metric, due to cultural preconceptions, it is idiotic to claim that people that do not consider it a valuable or appropriate metric are somehow guilty of “racism”.

    I tried to find the exact thread from which my banishment arose, but I was unable to find it.

  40. lancifer666 says:

    RRRRR! Must be an open tag in there somewhere.

  41. lancifer666 says:


    I thought you kept me up ’til 4 am drinking.

    At least that’s my story.

  42. Matty says:

    Ah I think I see what you were up against.

    For the record I am genuinely undecided whether the legacy of past racism sometimes requires active ‘correction’ of some kinds* but the suggestion that wanting to ignore race is racist just stupid.

    *Lets say your college has a historic policy of only taking students from certain towns, which happen to be overwhelmingly white perhaps because a past college president was racist. This could create the same effect as racism without anyone involved being racist and so isn’t solved by cracking down on racial discrimination directly. In this case I think it would certainly be a good idea to widen the areas you recruit from but I’m less clear whether it would be a good idea to put extra effort into the new ‘black’ areas to compensate for the unearned advantages that might arise from being from one of the more expected sources.

  43. lancifer666 says:


    I’m all for efforts that are designed to lead to a fair and pluralistic society. I am also aware that historically “race” has been used to systematically disadvantage people. Some of these people, and their descendents have managed to transcend this disadvantage. Some have not.

    It is my opinion that it is the responsibility of a just society to make efforts to help the disadvantaged, regardless of the circumstance that have led to their disadvantage.

    I do not think it is rational or wise to use “race” as a metric to decide who gets assistance from society. The proper metric should be “disadvantage” not the cause of the disadvantage.

    Of course all possible efforts should be made to guarantee that there exists no systematic prejudice based on race, or any other superficial and divisive metric.

  44. Matty says:

    In that case I think we are actually in agreement.

  45. James Hanley says:

    So you’re both racists.

  46. Matty says:

    Yup, everything up to the half marathon anyway. That is what the word means right?

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