Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Turner Tunes

As all the bunnies know, Leakegate has now spawned Amy BishopTurner Tunes. Amy leads off by talking about Richard Dawkins closing the forum on his web site. Amy wrote:

Richard Dawkins isn’t a man used to having his face likened to a “slack-jawed, turd-in-the-mouth mug”. Nor to being compared to “a suppurating rat’s rectum”. You can see why he might take offence.

Last week the celebrated evolutionary biologist abruptly closed the discussion forum on his website after somebody posted about a “sudden urge to ram a fistful of nails” down his throat. Another wanted to “trip [him] up and kick [him] in the guts”.

Dawkins blogged: “Imagine that you, as a greatly liked and respected person, found yourself overnight subjected to personal vilification on an unprecedented scale from anonymous commenters on a website.” He went on to describe his disbelief at the blogosphere’s vitriol and tendency to overreact to trivia and concluded that “there is something rotten in the internet culture”.

Bitching, infighting and back-biting have always been part of academia, much as they are a given in politics or the school playground. But now it is no longer confined to the footnotes of journals or senior common rooms. It is open, nasty and, as Dawkins can testify, getting nastier by the day.

So, let's take the poll
Why did the Richard Dawkins Foundation close its forum
To reopen in a new format in thirty days
Because people wrote nasty things about the new format
Because people wrote nasty things about atheism
Because people wrote nasty things about Richard Dawkins pushing atheism
To give Amy Turner something to whine about free polls

and look at what happened

Believe it or not, it all started with a decision by the Richard Dawkins Foundation to change the nature of the forum

Which brought in some interesting (cover the bunnies' ears)
A Message from Richard Dawkins about the website updates

Imagine that you, as a greatly liked and respected person, found yourself overnight subjected to personal vilification on an unprecedented scale, from anonymous commenters on a website. Suppose you found yourself described as an “utter twat” a “suppurating rectum. A suppurating rat’s rectum. A suppurating rat’s rectum inside a dead skunk that’s been shoved up a week-old dead rhino’s twat.” Or suppose that somebody on the same website expressed a “sudden urge to ram a fistful of nails” down your throat. Also to “trip you up and kick you in the guts.” And imagine seeing your face described, again by an anonymous poster, as “a slack jawed turd in the mouth mug if ever I saw one.”

What do you have to do to earn vitriol like that? Eat a baby? Gas a trainload of harmless and defenceless people? Rape an altar boy? Tip an old lady out of her wheel chair and kick her in the teeth before running off with her handbag?

None of the above. What you have to do is write a letter like this:
Dear forum members,

We wanted you all to know at the earliest opportunity about our new website currently in development. will have a new look and feel, improved security, and much more. Visits to the site have really grown over the past 3 1/2 years, and this update gives us an opportunity to address several issues. Over the years we've become one of the world's leading resources for breaking rational and scientific news and original content. We are focusing on quality content distribution, and will be bringing more original articles, video and other content as we grow.
You will notice that the forum has in fact been closed to comments (not taken down) sooner than the 30 days alluded to in the letter. This is purely and simply because of the over-the-top hostility of the comments that were immediately sent in. Note that there is no suggestion of abolishing the principle of a forum in which commenters can start their own threads.
Even when they actually have a point the Turners and Leakes cannot resist twisting and misleading. It must be genetic, but the question is, has the Murdoch press perfected a test to spot these folk.

UPDATE: Well folks, it gets even weirder, according to a letter posted at the Times
David Edwards wrote:
Oh dear, not this AGAIN ...

First of all, the insults were NOT directed at Dawkins himself, they were directed at his web designer, Josh Timonen, and were directed at this individual AFTER ne engaged in manifest acts of duplicity and malfeasance.

Second, the insults were NOT posted on Dawkins' own forum, but on a DIFFERENT forum, AFTER Timonen had pulled the plug on the Richard Dawkins Forums, and engaged in rampant vandalism of the data contained therein, an offence that in many companies would lead to the perpetrator being sacked, and possibly subject to criminal prosecution.

Third, the thread in which much more reasoned criticism of Timonen's actions was posted on Dawkins' own forum was summarily deleted, and critics of his heavy-handed incompetence were subject to having their entire user histories expunged. Unfortunately for Timonen, the relevant thread has been preserved, and provides evidence that he lied to his boss, by presenting quote mines from another forum as if they constituted the views of the entire membership, when these were nothing more than the venting of steam at Timonen's mendacity.

Furthermore, given that much of the material that was destroyed during Timonen's "Year Zero" operation on the forums, included the very expositions of valid science, and critique of the professiional liars for doctrine operating within corporate creationism, that Dawkins himself has repeatedly stated he wishes to see more of on his website, Timonen was acting in direct violation of his boss's publicly stated policy by destroying that material.

Now, is it too much to ask, given that anyone who wishes to can find the EVIDENCE supporting the above charges courtesy of two or three mouse clicks, that paid, professional journalists report the FACTS, instead of disseminating manifest misinformation?
Eli will let Boris have the last word
Ha-- Leake sent a girl to fight his fights. Well, a girl and, whatever Pielke Jr. is.


Ben said...

Actually, I think Dawkins did eat a baby, so I totally understand the reaction. :-)

I think there is a degree of paranoia behind the right-wing vitriol. So much talk of conspiracies, government coercion, etc.

I guess exploiting it serves the purposes of the corporate interests that dominate our society and the politicians that have aligned themselves with them, but it's a choice that is destructive to the fair debate of important issues. If the paranoids ever turn on their masters, look out!

Anonymous said...

I was thinking Amy Turner could actually be the nom de plume for Amy Fisher. One thing is clear if you search for her articles, Amy Turner can't be making a living as a writer for the London Times.


Anonymous said...

Actually, I think Dawkins did eat a baby, so I totally understand the reaction. :-)

And he tortures puppies. Don't forget about the puppies!

Lars Karlsson said...

Dawkins tortures puppies? Nah, that is PZ Myers.

guthrie said...

The above post is clearly spam.

On Dawkins, the actual story is that he wants to redesign his site, including getting rid of the forum, but he just left shutting the forum to his web minion who basically said "parties over, we're shutting the forum down" and proceeded to freeze everything. Unsurprisingly people got narked at having their favourite online forum shut down with minimal warning. So we have here a journalist being stupid, which is a requisite for the job these days.

Anonymous said...

Dawkins tortures puppies? Nah, that is PZ Myers.

And who do you think taught PZ how to torture puppies?

EliRabett said...

Eli is pretty good about harvesting spam, except while on vacation, don't want to eat spam on vacation.

OTOH, do we need another poll about whether PZ Myers or Richard Dawkins tortures babies or whether Amy Turner is really Amy Fisher or Amy Bishop?

This reminds Eli of the fact that the middle name of mass murderers is always Wayne. (Ms Rabett knows this from years of reading News of the Weird)

Anonymous said...

A bit off-topic, but this adds an interesting plot twist:


The linkage of evolution and global warming is partly a legal strategy: courts have found that singling out evolution for criticism in public schools is a violation of the separation of church and state. By insisting that global warming also be debated, deniers of evolution can argue that they are simply championing academic freedom in general.

--caerbannog the anonybunny

Anonymous said...

Hi Wabbits,
Getting back to some Real Science stuff; here is a good read and the guy who wrote it is a 'peer' I think... Do you think it is important or are all you bucks hooked on drama now?

Perhaps the unwashed masses are fed-up with lies & half-truths? Take a poll on that question why don't you?

Anonymous said...

I thought you were all in Cabo...
Try this for science. Starling-bye-bye.

Truth about science said...


It makes you wonder, is it possible to win a war on reality?

Phil Clarke said...

Way off-topic, but...

Doctor Joanne Simpson has died. By all accounts a true scientist, 'sceptical' in the correct and traditional sense of the word, she contibuted greatly to our understanding of meteorology, clouds and hurricanes.

Regrettably, she is perhaps most widely known for a misquote from an article she contributed to Roger Pielke (Snr)'s blog. Here it is, as reproduced by Morano (in his n-hundred prominent scientists and gardeners travesty), Watts and Joanne Nova:

Since I am no longer affiliated with any organization nor receive any funding, I can speak quite frankly. [...] The main basis of the claim that man’s release of greenhouse gases is the cause of the warming is based almost entirely upon climate models.

We all know the frailty of models concerning the air-surface system. We only need to watch the weather forecasts. [...] The term “global warming” itself is very vague. Where and what scales of response are measurable? One distinguished scientist has shown that many aspects of climate change are regional, some of the most harmful caused by changes in human land use.


Wondering what was excised? What Dr. Simpson wrote that lies behind those ellipses? Here we go ...

Since I am no longer affiliated with any organization nor receiving any funding, I can speak quite frankly. What should we as a nation do? Decisions have to be made on incomplete information. In this case, we must act on the recommendations of Gore and the IPCC because if we do not reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and the climate models are right, the planet as we know it will in this century become unsustainable. But as a scientist I remain skeptical….

After such outrageous censorship, THIS is really hard to take ...

Anonymous said...

Very sorry to hear Dr. Simpson died.
She was a dedicated and determined scientist.
She planned a trip to climb in Nepal at age 70. She had to have knee surgery not long before. She recuperated and went on her trip as scheduled.
She ran long meetings at this time, so long and uninterrupted I couldn't sit. I nicknamed her (entirely to myself) "Iron Butt". I had to get up and stretch, but then I hadn't begun my day with a long run, although Simpson had.
She promoted and was Project Scientist on the TRMM satellite, which measured tropical rainfall and developed understandings of it.
That a memo of hers after retirement was ripped out of context and used to provide a misleading impression of her was sad. She was an experimentalist and didn't delve into climate models -- or anything to do with computers. Like most scientists, she did not give equal weight all aspects, her understanding was deeper in some areas than others. She didn't understand why "scientific arguments" were being played out in newspapers -- naive about the anti-AGW hacks.
As a female, she pioneered in science and achieved with an iron will in spite of obstacles that would have daunted most men.