Re: [asa] Occultism and the ASA listserv

From: Merv <>
Date: Mon Jul 14 2008 - 11:51:19 EDT wrote:
> When I write my book "Why I wish I wasn't a Christian" I will have a
> chapter on this nonsense and how embarassing it is to be numbered with
> people that take this seriously. This kind of discussion makes me
> wonder if the Reformation was a bad idea. If having non-specialists
> read the Bible leads to this stuff then I say give the Bible back to
> the bishops and have them read it for us.
This attitude no doubt parallels how many professional scientists are
tempted to feel about public exchanges regarding evolution. And yet the
lay masses probably need to get their feet "dirtier" actually looking in
to many claims and counter-claims rather than just accepting what their
favorite pundits tell them to think. We *wish* there could be a real
reformation equivalent in the sciences where every man accesses the book
of nature for himself instead of just letting the "bishops" (scientists)
read it for him, but the reality is we still depend on the bishops and
squabble rather over who the legitimate bishops are.

Regarding sarcasm & mockery -- there should be a better way. I hope (&
presume) your first statement above about writing the book is just in
fun and (while still making a very serious point) is nonetheless using
sarcasm to do it. While this is dangerous enough even in conversation
when you have access to tones of voice, facial expression, etc. it is
extremely dangerous on email lists where it can later be found by quote
miners and used in ways unintended. I don't agree with Vernon's methods
either and am not trying to defend them here; I'm only pointing out
that we all should take care (even though it takes away from the fun)
when using sarcasm. I follow many of these threads & even I'm not 100%
sure how (not) seriously to take every statement in the quoted paragraph
above. I'm thinking you aren't serious, but just using sarcasm to
cleverly nail home a very serious point. MY point, is that if I, a
follower of this list, am not completely sure, imagine what John Q
Public thinks when he is directed to read it by his conspiratorially
enthusiastic friends. THAT'S when embarrassment sets it.


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Received on Mon Jul 14 11:52:10 2008

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