Re: Savanna: a slow d

J. Moore (
Sun, 24 Sep 95 18:04:00 -0500

Mr> Sometimes I get the feeling that much of this childish name-calling and
Mr> nitpicking has more to do with a dislike of Elaine Morgan than any
Mr> scientific debate. Mr. Moore's comments leave one wishing he had taken
Mr> a high-school debate class (with emphasis on AD HOMINEM arguments), or
Mr> that he had learned the basic rules of bureaucratic discussion: (1)
Mr> It's not what you say, it's how you say it;

Thank god science isn't being left to bureaucrats then; in
science, what you say, and whether it has a factual basis, is
still considered important.

But since you seem to feel that pointing out errors of fact is
"nit-picking", I don't know what to say to that.

Mr> and (2) If you think someone
Mr> is an idiot, and you call them an idiot, 9 times out of 10 people will
Mr> think YOU are an idiot; you have to point out logically and drily how
Mr> you arrived at the conclusion that the person is an idiot, and let
Mr> others make the decision. I call this passive-aggressive debate.

I don't think Morgan's an idiot, but I have many times pointed out
that she gets facts wrong, that she alters quotes to suit her
arguments without even indicating that she's changed the quote,
that she cites people as having made claims when they said the
opposite, and in general have pointed out errors in her arguments.
This gets her and her fans upset -- Morgan has responded by
calling my posts "rubbish", saying I was "scraping the barrel"
for pointing out such errors.

In her spin-doctoring efforts she's used such dubious tactics
as claiming that pointing out an error was incorrect because
the claim was made "about twenty years ago and was never repeated",
even though it was actually repeated in a later book. Another
example of dubious spin-doctoring was the time she haughtily
claimed that one could "seek in vain" in *The Scars of Evolution*
for some bogus info that actually does appear there. In short, she
doesn't exactly tell it like it is.

I don't want to see science become the realm merely of bureaucratese
and PR-style spin-doctoring; I would like to see an adherence to facts
and accurate quotes. This requires bluntly pointing out errors
and especially dishonest scholarship (such as altering quotes).
If you and others don't like that -- too bad.

Mr> Some of you sound like heavy metal fans writing to a newspaper to
Mr> protest an unfavorable review (your reviewer SUCKS, man).

A more accurate heavy metal analogy might be a newspaper
uncritically printing info from a book that claims Jimmy Page
invented rock n roll -- and the proof offered is the claim
that he invented the electric guitar...then people write in and
say "well, no, he didn't" -- to which you reply as you have here,
blasting the people who corrected the errors.

Mr> I don't accept AAT fully, but frankly, the alternatives don't seem any
Mr> better. Every argument I've heard against AAT can be used on the
Mr> alternatives discussed in this group.
Mr> Stuart Dubois
Mr> Network Administrator

But not accurately... remember that in science -- as opposed to the
bureaucratic discourse you suggest as an alternative -- accuracy,
not PR-style spin-doctoring flak control, is what counts.

Jim Moore (

* Q-Blue 2.0 *