Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Rottweiller's Dog

Diary entry for March / April, 2012

An excursion to the discussion forum,
.. earned me a blue card for "insulting" their resident rottweiller (troll).  [The relevant section is between pages 249 - 257 ] .  In the short period of participation however it seemed to be more of a forum for blood sport, than any productive interchange, and by all indications, likely to remain that way with little value in participation.  Evidently it's all right for the rottweiller to snap and growl and try to draw blood, but mention its snarling mien, its foetid breath and clout it on its slavering barking mouth for its trouble, and hear its minders squeal.  The tolerance for this canine behaviour incidentally, since it is singular, implies an alter-ego for one who likes to appear more benignly moderate.  Evidently we rubbed somebody up the wrong way, .. when it came to their dog. 

Which highlights a subtext to this blog, .. that the science is not the issue, .. consensus is.
.. and it is a mistake to think that consensus derives from the science.  It doesn't.  In its entrenched form it derives from the security of the funding it has gotten used to,  .. the rut of mud underfoot that leads to the trough, .. and finally the stability offered by the cement that encases its moribund corps.

In the beginning, when consensus is forming, things are much more fluid, and laudable, and this is a precious time - and would that it continue as the standard.  But this is not so. This period is usually short-lived, because what it represents is instability. 

Concepts /hypotheses /observations /"facts" etc., can be discussed, but only until it becomes clear which view is likely to carry most authority.  Note that virtually by definition this is different from scientific value, because the science is ongoing and something that scientists struggle with over time. it is not resolved in the short time necessary for stabilisation.  Authority, on the other hand is usually already a given, vested in the reputations of institutions that already exist.

Moreover during this time what is called "lively and active debate" is a gross misnomer, for very few participate in the actual debate.  Most, .. the 'lurkers', .. the grey polloi who are by far the majority, do not contribute.  What they are casting around for is guidance, .. not what view(s) is likely to be correct but which view might be perceived as carrying most authority - usually gauged by which institution is perceived as most dominant.  [Include something here about the superficialities, the 'dumming-down' by slogan-laden jargon used to appeal.]   *They* are the ones who will eventually identify their own value with the authority they protect, not the core values it represents, and *they* are the ones whom 'authority', in narcissitic reversal, will reference for their own validity.  Thus consensus becomes encased in an "everybody knows..", self-referential cocoon that becomes very difficult to penetrate, particularly once the liturgy is learned by a new generation.

Authority is needed in all walks in life.  But we need those in authority not to abuse it.  However, unfortunately "power corrupts", and that applies every bit as much to science (and the institutions that house it)as it does to the state and the church - and to every other institution set up to organise society : people are "only human" after all..

..  Except for those who perceive themselves as rottweillers, guarding 'territory',

.. which is an admirable trait,

(.. in a dog... )

[Update: 2012-06-08   I see they're still guarding territory. see pp. bottom of 274 passing over to 275.  (Useless idiots.)   Robert Hunter pops up calling Erakivnor a troll (which he is) and they all come out of their kennels barking - moderators and all.  That wee guy with the nightie who swears like a trooper and kids on he's hung "that big", frightens me the way he keeps popping up with his foul language.  Looked in the other day and saw he's cleaned it up a bit, but not much.  Seems they're all refugees from the Richard Dawkins atheistic forum when it got closed down because of their foul language and insults.  They've found a home at   What a mob.  Waste of time. Some dogs never learn.  Suspect the Erak won't really be too pleased with them as minders either. (If he has any sense.)  Troll or no troll, he should be spared being tarred with that brush.]

[ See also - Debunking Plate Tectonics - at :- ]


Stephen Hurrell said...

Have you noticed that those against the Expanding Earth theory try to hide behind made-up names? It’s almost as though they realize they are the last members of a timeworn group that sense in their bones that their time is ended. The only power they have left is to exclude people who disagree with their view of the world from their small circle. They even excluded the guy who asked the original question about the Earth winding back to a sphere. Do they dimly perceive that history will look back on their arguments and methods with amusement and ridicule? On the other hand, virtually everyone supporting the Expanding Earth is happy to add their true name.

don findlay said...

Hi Stephen,
Absolutely! Not a point that goes unnoticed, and exactly the point I started to enlarge on in the post, but reckoned it would detract a bit from the immediate point. So we'll add it here.

It's always the case, .. those wanting to say something they see as valuable are willing to back it with their true identity, those wishing to detract and denigrate, always use an alias. "You'd be foolish not to," they say. Obviously they're afraid of possible consequences, if they do use their real identities. I have no doubt (from the configuration of the posts) who the Rottweiller's dog is, and if you check through his avatar I think you can see the alter-ego ('shining through'). I'm not sure about the Darkchild. I really don't see them being in such close supervision. Why would they bother, .. (unless somebody complains?) .. and therefore think that either the trigger for censure must lie in keywords ('moderator', say) (maybe +swearies) that they use to alert them, or the moderator must be one of the regulars on the page. (And why would they even bother to do that?). Moderators with a view have an obvious conflict of interest. What's a donator? maybe they get brownie points for censure?

I'm also noting that the Rottweiller and Thoth have the same 'country of origin', in being extra-terrestrials, and wonder if that's a clue too, as well as the Thoth being the first to jump in (with either his beer or his cup of coffee.) :-) Having a quick look at the faqs - would have got the rottweiller itself edited off long ago if there was any real censure by real moderators. I think aliases and avatars are a ploy to ensure the stability of consensus, and to veto, once they've played the 'game'. I see they've (whoever) done me too for shortening Hackenslash to 'slash'; they seem to be dead set on being seen to have reason to suspend permanently. (Bunch of Kangaroos).

I was fully aware what would possibly happen when I responded the way I did, though I did think my own posts were considerably less offensive, and there might be a bit more mileage before making the point it did. The distinction Thoth drew is nonsense. To my mind, no reasonable moderator is going to be so picky about what is "designed to insult". Hackenslash would have been out on his ear ages ago, responding the way he does (inflamatory). I knew that was a definite bait. I didn't think they'd be so quick off the mark though. He really did pull his ace card from the bottom of the pack.

Frankly, I think Florian is wasting his time. There is nothing to be gained by trying to convince where there is real opposition (That article in the Boston Globe I mentioned..). Like hats. You just have to put it out there for the passer-by. Erakvinor seemed open enough, but didn't even pick up one of the ten points I listed, even though he asked to be filled in on the main reasons. I think he's being a bit disingenuous and doesn't want to know. Sure, debunking ("scepticism") is the name of the game, but before you do, you have to know what the game is, and virtually all alias-posts are designed block explanation of that.

(..Continued in next post..)

don findlay said...

(..Continued from previous post)
[.."designed to block explanation of that"]

The original poster (Brainman)
[Page 1] .. "My interest is actually psychological regarding this. I am training in neuropsychology and am interested in the mechanism behind the reaction of disbelief itself. I am presuming there will be not be many here in favour of expanding earth hypothesis."
... got 'trolled' eventually. His assumption was dead right. I do remember there were some rather unfair moderator comments on his postings. From what I was following he was always pulled back to "evidence against", and "the extra-mass" question, which wasn't what he was asking about at all. Must look at more of his posts. As far as I can work out the mechanism he is asking about is as I say above - a core and highly understandable need that people have for guidance, for 'authority', .. to be led honestly by those who can (rather than those who would) - which is when we encounter the human element for the other side of the coin, corruption. At its most epic it is Good v. Evil. It translates to the core values that hold people and society together - The Golden Rule.


milu71 said...

Nice post about consensus, stability, authority, and validity. Very nice. Total heresy, of course. Which is why, among other things, I like reading your blog. :)

don findlay said...

(*Total* Heresy? Don't know about that) .. but glad you like the reading. Writing it is light relief too from worrying about an increasingly dystopic Mad Max world, where even the sciences are losing the plot, .. that's after governments, the church, Banks, North Korea, Islam, .. you name it. We need to keep *some* sanity around the place, even if it does mean telling everybody the world is blowing up. :) Mr Bin Laden might be lying somewhere off the Persian Gulf, but now with Mr Brevik giving Law-and-Order and Psychopathy something to think about, on the back of Le Pen's one-in-five (was it five? or ten?), well, .. Plate Tectonics on RationalSkeptics sure is small beer.

Felix Lanzalaco said...

The name thing is a relic from the old Bulletin board format. I notice not a lot of the members there use facebook though. Dont know what they are missing. The facebook groups are full of many of the worlds scientists now. They are far more willing to get into debate when there is public openness.

For my own part, my name is a one off, and at that time was trying to keep just neuroscience in the google results. Not that bothered though. Looking forward to the internet going fully interactive video.

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