Joined: Jan. 2006
Since a major part of all our online (and possibly even offline) existences is spent engaging in debate with various types of people. I was curious about a few things.
1) What actually motivates us to do this?
2) How do we cope with the inevitable ennui that develops when one has bashed one's head against the brick wall of frothing ignorance demonstrated by some people?
We encounter the well meaning but currently ignorant (I was/am one myself, this is not a perjorative term), the deluded, the deliberately dishonest, the kooks, cranks and loons, and also the agenda ridden proselytisers. We have perfectly polite, curious people come to places like PT and discuss aspects of science and culture etc. We also get (and I am sorry to name names) people like "Ghost of Paley" who is clearly intelligent enough to google a few articles and string some words together but who is either a parody or so deliberately self deluding as to be beyond professional help.
I think this goes FAR beyond mere religion. We see this depth of "belief" and "faith" based extremism in many spheres, politics, spirituality, even mangement! So my third question is:
3) What is the basis for the extremes of what I can only call "kookery" that we encounter?
Lastly, I am currently experiencing a large amount of anger, and general boredom with the whole creationist/ID nitwittery. I simply haven't seen anything new in a decade from them (a stark contrast with my life as a research scientist where it's almost a struggle to keep up with what's new!). Again using "Ghost of Paley" as an example (something I am sure to regret, the guy is unhinged), the guy (or the guy playing him) is clearly not stupid, but the depths of dishonesty and delusion being displayed are staggering. The patience he is being dealt with borders on the saintly! How people like Cogzoid and EricMurphy etc can repeatedly deal with him so dispassionately is a talent I don't possess. I read the entire thread and I am annoyed! This annoyance has spilt over into a kind of apathy with the whole issue, it's a feeling I've had before when encountering utter lunatics. So the last question is:
4) How do you deal with the annoyance that these extreme loons cause, and the ensuing apathy towards an important scientific topic and social wrangle?
I am particularly interested in comments from people like Lenny, Wesley, Nick Matzke, PvM, etc i.e. people who have been involved in this "debate" for a long time, and/or who have been professionally involved.
P.S. See you Brits on Darwin Day, I've booked a day off btw, so if anyone wants to do the Natural History Museum it might be an option.