I have recently realized that The Skeptical Zone blog has had its 7th year anniversary…
Since Dr. Liddle has return, at least temporarily, I thought it could be a great opportunity to evaluate what the goal of TSZ was, when it opened for business over 7 years ago, and whether such goal(s) have been accomplished, if any…
Here is what Dr. Liddle’s mission statement was in the introductory web page:
” My name is Elizabeth Liddle, and I started this site to be a place where people could discuss controversial positions about life, the universe and everything with minimal tribal rancour (pay no attention to the penguins….)
My motivation for starting the site has been the experience of trying to discuss religion, politics, evolution, the Mind/Brain problem, creationism, ethics, exit polls, probability, intelligent design, and many other topics in venues where positions are strongly held and feelings run high. In most venues, one view dominates, and there is a kind of “resident prior” about the integrity, intelligence and motivation of those who differ from the majority view.
That is why the strapline says: “Park your priors by the door”. They may be adjusted by the time you leave!
I will start the blog off with a series of posts arising from some interesting discussions at Uncommon Descent, which were difficult to pursue because of the blog format over there. I hope that the participants in those discussions will come over here where we can continue them without having to move from squat to squat on other threads, derailing them as we go.
I also hope that other people will join me in posting new OPs, so that it becomes a group blog, and that people will also offer to write guest OPs.
In the mean time, welcome to all, and have a free virtual beer on the house!
Anyway, I was hoping that some current and regular participants of TSZ would like to reflect and share their views of what they thought this blog would accomplish when it first commenced its operations over 7 years ago, and whether it has fulfilled their expectations in anyway…
I would be especially interested how many, and which bloggers at TSZ ‘Parked their priors by the door’ ...if at all…
BTW: I hope that I’m not stepping over Dr. Liddle’s privileges by submitting an OP of this nature…
They killed ID!
I learned that fitness functions are designed. Gasp.
A guide for fitness function design
It was intended as a site for discussion.
That has mostly worked, though with
I got fodder for a couple of papers here. Learned a little about entropy, Copernicanism, and presuppositionism, a little less about evolution, and got a ton of useful links from Bruce S and a few others. Met a few people I’ve really liked.
Participation here may have made me a worse person, but, you know, gotta take the bad with the good.
Till I got involved in this place, I’d never read a word of philosophy. Now I’ve read several. 🙂
Mostly, it’s served as a home for people, an online community. I see value in that alone and count that as an accomplishment.
You’ve read several words of philosophy?
Do you doubt it?
Speaking of philosophy, Peter Kreeft has been writing a series on philosophers (Socrates’ Children) that I have been hoping to discuss. But it has had the publication dates postponed again and again for years. I still don’t have a copy. 🙁
While I didn’t want to complicate the OP with too many themes (my 2 teens lose their interest very quickly), I was hoping that some of the regulars, especially the ones who have religiously participated on this blog since its inception would ‘come out ‘ and say:
I have reaffirmed my view in such and such way because of this or that…
I have lost/gain faith in ID/Evolution/Religion… that kind of thing…
Maybe I have been naïve…but ever since I challenged everyone or any belief, including my own, I kinda feel better… I don’t thing my kids feel the same way, but I let them challenge me every day…even when I screw up and buy the wrong mozzarella cheese for their pizza…
It was more interesting here when ID was more interesting.
I agree… What do we change?
I think Behe is working on a new book.
We could ge after global warming denialism, anti vaxers, or similar.
Yeah… the question remains though: which side is he going to support when it come to common descent?
ETA: What I mean by that is: Does he, like dr. Swamidass, want to have his bread buttered on both sides?
I might be really off about Behe, so I’m takin it back what I said about him as my kids think I ‘m misinformed…
If you have experimental proof equal to your evolutionary beliefs, I would be more than willing to consider it…
I like these ideas, although I suspect that the dividing lines would be depressingly similar. Gun control and capital punishment might mix things up a bit…
No. That was a suicide.
Suicide by crap?
How long have you been commenting at TSZ? Has it changed your life? How about your addiction tendencies you have mentioned?
I got along better with Richard Hughes and Alan Fox here at TSZ. We’ve bickered over the issues for almost 18 years, but the last 5 or so years it’s been good hanging out with them as I think we avoided personal jabs.
I pretty much destroyed some of my relationship with the ID community, particularly Barry Arrington, hanging out at TSZ. I’ve strained some of my relationships with the ID community by breaking the unspoken rule of “thou shalt not criticize another ID proponent publicly, even if he’s wrong.” I’ve done that a few times at TSZ.
Here is an interesting article that makes the claim that what seems like culture war is actually about class.
I’m not sure what I think about it but it’s thought provoking
There was a period of time when I was writing my book and my conversations with Neil Rickert and BruceS really helped me work out my ideas. And generally speaking, I find that discussing philosophy with people who don’t have much formal education in philosophy makes me a better writer and teacher. More recently, BruceS has given me some very helpful articles for the current phase of my research. And I enjoy chatting with walto, despite his insistence that philosophical problems can’t be solved. (Just kidding!)
Plus TSZ has given me plenty of experience in learning how to cope with online bullying, so I guess that’s a positive, too.
Is it really only seven years? Seems like seventy.
I can speak for some of the IDists and YECs here, for the most part they love TSZ although they may not care for certain individuals.
Regarding publications, some of the discussion at TSZ have led to sections of books and in one case even a reference in Bill Basener’s paper (regarding Joe Felsenstein’s paper on Muller’s Ratchet). There will be more things that will be published based on discussions here.
One of the ideas developed here got me an audience before faculty and deans of a group of Christian universities regarding chromatin. I was interviewed on a radio show this past April and was able to articulate some of the ideas I developed while in dialogue here at TSZ.
At a personal level, this place, and ironically Larry Moran’s blog, motivated me to take evening classes in biology and even one in evolutionary biology. I was finishing out my Master’s degree in 2012 in Applied Physics, and some of the physics discussion here were very helpful to my understanding. So I have learned a lot in the interactions and learned better how to engage and articulate ideas. I don’t know that I could have done that at UD.
Of anyone here, I’m probably the most grateful for TSZ, and may God continue to enable this weblog. There maybe a lot of junk posted here, but that’s what the ignore button is for, to filter out the junk.
I don’t know if TSZ fulfilled Lizzie’s expectations, but it provided an unexpected opportunity for me to get lots of free-of-charge editorial review of my ideas which I hope to publish and teach to my students.
And last but not least, I met you, and you re-kindled my interest in re-learning Quantum Mechanics. God bless.
What’s the point?
Jesus is going to destroy the Earth anyways… as you believe it… so our speculations are just as worthless as Entropy’s …
Why should we care?
What happens here on Earth counts for Eternity. Jesus died on Earth. That counts for something, whether or not the Earth is destroyed.
I am always looking for a new and different ID argument.
So far, the decoration changes, but it’s still Paley, all the way down.
In the long run we are all dead
John Maynard Keynes
From a christian perspective our good works endure even the fire of judgement
each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
That’s the point
If it ain’t broke don’t fix it
I’ve had several different people write private messages to me over the years saying they appreciate many things I’ve written both here and elsewhere. And I have learned a lot from others around here like John Harshman, Allan Miller, Joe Felsenstein, DNA_jock, Kantian Naturalist and several others. TheSkepticalZone has been a medium through which I have learned stuff about biology and philosophy, and I have tried to help others do the same. That’s good enough for me.
The thread on common descent with it’s over 5000 posts was so successful in demonstrating the absolute and complete failure of IDcreationism to deal with the evidence for common descent, that the Discovery Institute has apparently been motivated to engage in a kind of damage control where Winston Ewert is now at least trying to deal with one small aspect of that evidence.
It has taught me that there are a lot more libeling criminals within the skeptic community than even I could have imagined.
Indeed, I often forget to mention my appreciation of Rumraket and his thoughtful and information-packed posts. Thanks for spending the time and effort.
Well I’m glad you felt the thread was so successful for your side. If you’d like we can do more of those here. Would that be something you look forward to?
Seriously, if you think it accomplished something for your side, then TSZ is accomplishing its unspoken mission (to destroy and discredit ID and creationism). I sure had a lot of fun.
If you think such discussions were productive to destroying ID and creationism, then by all means, lets keep this thing going.
I’ve learned that the fewer times you see something the less probable it is and that the more times you see something the more probable it is.
That alone is invaluable.
This made me laugh.
I hang out at TSZ. I don’t think Barry cares. I criticized Salvador publicly. And we know how that turned out.
You see Gregory, God is just using Elizabeth (and KN).
From what I have been able to observe, and even test, to a degree, the great majority of commentators at TSZ, UD and many similar blogs, come here to support their preconceived beliefs… They don’t come here to learn something new, unless it is within their belief system…
Anything that threatens their well-established beliefs is either rejected, mocked or ignored….
This can be easily tested, as I have done many times at TSZ, UD and many other blogs…
Why do people do it?
The easiest way to explain this phenomenon is by what one psychologist calls Optimism Bias.
While studies and experiments proving Optimism Bias are focused mainly on health risks, such as smoking, cycling and how our Optimism Bias affects our decision making processes involving health or injury risks, Optimism Bias can very well apply to the great majority of evolution/ID bloggers…
Just like Optimism Bias studies have revealed that our increased knowledge of the health or injury risks doesn’t change much our view of those risks (our awareness of the danger of smoking or cycling increases slightly) Optimism Bias makes us believe that those dangers are more likely to affect others and less likely us…
Similarly, the great majority of bloggers here often apply the Optimism Bias in the discussions…
They rely on their preconceived ideas. For example:
Evolution must be right and therefore common descent must also be right and so on
ID must be right and therefore evolution must be wrong
Abiogenesis must be right and therefore ID must be wrong
Humans have an immortal soul, and therefore religions that don’t teach it, must be are wrong
There is no experimental evidence to support some views but he/she will use Optimism Bias to ignore it and say that soon there will likely be such evidence… and so on….
Antony Flew, a professor of philosophy and a long promoter of atheism and evolution for over 50 years said the following after he has changed his mind and accepted the existence of a Creator:
” We must follow the argument wherever it leads us…”
In other words, we MUST not use the Optimism Bias and “follow the evidence where we would like it to lead…
The goal of scientific research, as well as religious, should be to find the truth, not to support preconceived ideas… Does it?
To accept this, one has to be honest with himself/herself…
It’s up to each one of us to do it…
After all the legal infractions here- with the complicit endorsement (and frequently the originators ) of the sites own moderators-I don’t think even God can save this site from the ghosts of Oliver Cromwell and Sir Robert Peel.
I’m glad I was able to teach you about Bayes theorem. And yes that is invaluable.
I learnt what a mung bucket is. That has to count for something
I think, as an experiment, it’s shown what a lame, faulty, elitist doctrine libertarianism is. That is a virtue, I think, that might be useful for those who didn’t realize this already.
AMEN. Integrity, intelligence, motivations being attacked is common in mankind and so discussion blogs.
They don’t handle it right. SO TSZ does better due to a guiding hand from its author.
TSZ has helped creatipnidsm as in giving attention to all sides in origion subjects the right side, on a curve, begins to prevail.
I bet most evolutionists etc here have moved in their opinions withot realizing it.
No more entry level stuff. They have to do a better job./
I think origin discussions are on the frontline of the revolution against error in biology origins.
YEC/ID really are agents of change in our time.
TSZ is helping in this and possibly future historians or teenagers doing class projects on the revolution will study TSZ.
I’ve learnt how little they have and how desperately they clutch onto it. I’ve learnt that J-Mac starts threads then does not interact with anybody in them except to tell them how stupid they are and that they are now on ignore. I’ve learnt that double standards are apparently not a thing in IDC as they demand evidence that they themselves are unable to provide for their own positions, but they don’t have the self awareness to see that as a problem.
In short, I’ve learnt why their position continues to fall in popularity among the reality based community. It’s not the science, as that does not exist, it’s due to their rank dishonesty.
I’ve learnt that proponents of IDC can believe that despite being unable to demonstrate any evidence of such.
I begin to like OMgain because he reminds so much of Larry Moran…
He accuses people of dishonesty every time he disagrees with someone or his beliefs have been exposed…
So, he continues to do so without providing a shred of evidence of such dishonesty without any consequences and at the same time accuses others of:
‘…I’ve learnt that proponents of IDC can believe that despite being unable to demonstrate any evidence of such…”
Hypocrisy at its best and admins have not done anything about it….
Unfortunately OMgain and the like can’t see their hypocrisy or they don’t want to….
I have a feeling Rum that after you and the rest of the band of devolusinists have provided the most over-fricken-whelming evidence of common decent of the 5 pound land walking mammal into a 50 ton whale, all ID proponent must have given up…
Please remind us all how many millions of pieces of evidence killed the ID movement thanks to you?
Well, I wouldn’t want to be presumptuous but I have only seen one…a piece of a bone that was found to be SIMILAR in the ear of the land mammal and the whale… It turns out, whale have no external ears … So, I am so over-fricken-whelmed this this evidence as everyone should be…
This overwhelming evidence also suggest that my broom and the tree in my backyard have had a common ancestor because their shape is very similar just like the ear bone of the land walking mammal and the whale which is a big deal for common ancestry…
I have the feeling that after this devastating evidence provided by Rumraket the Discovery Institute has rum-rocketed into packing their bags…
Rum, The ID Terminator has done it again…
I wouldn’t want to forget OMbrain who has done some killings over the years as well with Robert Byers and …. and …well… he must have killed some arguments other than Byers, right?
Well, keep it up Rum!
Keep up the science fiction real! What else do you have left? You have already single-handedly killed the ID movement… There is no stopping to you now…
J-Mac, curb the personal attacks, please.