After Pepsigate at Scienceblogs, I decided to get science news/opinion more from the Discover blogs network. Now that I am I remember why I didn't make this a primary source before. I love reading Bad Astronomy and most of the other blogs but The Intersection just seemed to get weirder and weirder as Chris Mooney got off the topic of science reporting and into the badness of "New Atheists"
I admit that when I first heard of the New Atheist (NA) movement I thought it was kind of dumb - why does one have to declare that s/he doesn't believe in a specific version of god, religion is a private thing? Well in the US it's not a private thing. Evangelicals continuously try to insert God into everything regardless of relevance and insist that it trumps reality. Why can't New Atheists be nicer? I'm not a tactful person but since I'm Canadian I'm automatically nice (ha, ha). After going to a few sites like Pharyngula I could easily see why the bloggers come across as abrasive. They are outspoken, the commentators are even more outspoken and there is always someone dragging tired religious tropes into conversations about science, ethics or both. After repeating yourself a few billion times, you get abrupt - with the anonymity of being on line you can get really obnoxious in your abruptness. People are really eager to interpret actions negatively because for many, not believing in their God is threatening in itself. But I've not seen video from talks by Dawkins, Myers or any of the other high profile NAs that show them being disrespectful, or even impatient, of questioners. Actually I have been encouraged to examine my belief system and get up-to-date with several science areas.
How is this relevant? I stopped reading The Intersection after this post and scrolling through comments. Let me get this right, some guy (I'll call him LIAR) claims to have seem some scientists being insulting to religious folks and this comment gets elevated to the subject of a blog post? Really? LIAR is make further claims about systematic rudeness of non-believing scientists toward the non-scientists they are supposed to be educating/working with. Surely there would be some surreptitious video of a conversation - after all this is the Youtube generation - but nope. Nothing. Now it turns out that not only was the story made up(!?!) but many of the comments following the post were by LIAR using different names! And a website connected to LIAR was also blogged by one person using several names.
Mooney has gone public with this which is good but his focus is on whether the person exists and protecting that person's RL reputation from what was done on the Internet. Nowhere does Mooney recognize that his really big problem is that he didn't actually check on the reality of the claim the LIAR made. Not saying people aren't people (and thus sometimes obnoxious) but that when people are doing work related things they tend to have a work related face on so the whole story never rang true for me.
So what now. Disco blog networks isn't perfect and some of my favorite bloggers are on the scienceblogs network. So back I go.