Friday, July 31, 2009

Herding Cats

That's what organizing the atheist community is often compared to. Given that PZ's going to be part of a rather large crowd at that Creationist "Museum," I thought it might be appropriate to have a thread about how to make sure everyone in an atheist group behaves themselves. We're not magically immune to attracting the odd troublemakers, after all.

10 comments:

Dark Jaguar said...

That's something to worry about. After all there are the activists that think violence is a viable "action" to take, and if one of them shows up and starts breaking things...

No amount of disavowing is going to prevent Billy O'Really from claiming this is "typical of all those atheists, except I respect this guy for doing what the rest were too scared to act on". (That guy, and others like him, sicken me when they give praise for such bizarre "virtues" as acting on whatever mind set you happen to have at the time, aka, being "honest to yourself".) It'd also give the museam just the excuse it needs to ban any and all atheists, which they "really didn't want to do, but there have been incidents in the past that forced our hand".

That said, I think the chances are fairly low something like that would occur, and certainly don't think it's worth calling off the whole affair. Worst case scenario is if someone threw a shoe at someone working at the museum and PZ endorsed it, again...

Akusai said...

Having bought a ticket to PZ's Creation Museum trip, I'm less worried about violent activism and more worried about general social ineptitude. There are some fuckers out there you can tell a million times not to act like assholes and they do it anyway, either because they don't realize they're being assholes or because they can't generalize the concept.

Dark Jaguar said...

Yeah my charisma stat is pretty low, as evidenced by THIS SENTENCE.

MWchase said...

The first rule of level 18 charisma is you do not talk about level 18 charisma?

I've been thinking a lot about the fifth column idea, myself. I mean, sure, not all far-right crazy anti-science nuts are ready to do that, but it's hard to put it past all of them.

I mean, it would be the perfect way to show the public "the kinds of things that atheists do and stand for", sort of like that ad campaign that quoted "stuff that George Washington probably said".

Dark Jaguar said...

I had to look up what a fifth collumn was.

Interesting idea, posers sticking around with the evolutionists to make them look bad.

However, considering the horribly inaccurate ideas of what evolutionists even think, I doubt they'd get very far before making their presence known. They might do some sort of violent act, but it's more likely they'd start shouting first, and they'd probably shout something like "I'm an atheist and I don't want god telling me how to live my life!" or "Evolution says this place should be torched!", or maybe even "I've got piltdown man on my side!". I doubt they'd say anything even remotely close to what evolutionists actually believe as the arguments of an evolutionist is too convincing for them to utter it without fear of being "corrupted".

Of course there's also the possibility someone that does believe in evolution but has no understanding of it will make really poor arguments. If that one episode of Friends I saw is any indication, apparently a valid argument is "explain the thumb". It's really not, since it's a rather unique trait. Better to say "explain fingers", which are shared across a lot of species, or just "explain how come so many species have so many traits in common". Even then, there's an actual biologist on hand. So, creationist plant or terribly educated "evolutionist", they're sure to get called out and corrected pretty fast.

Valhar2000 said...

I'm not too worried about people maiking trouble either, particularly given how much the need to "behave" has already been emphasized.

There mught be fifth-columnists in their, but I agree with Dark Jaguar: they would quite easily be found out, by their own ineptitude. There is a chance that they would do a good job keeping their cover, or that what would appear to be a fifth columnist would turn out to be just a clue-less idiot, but those possibilities seem unlikely.

Dark Jaguar said...

My personal prediction is it'll be a rather boring experience had by all, with the most exciting thing for many just being able to talk to a bunch of like-minded people. It's likely that the higher-ups will just not even bother showing up that day. At most, a few weeks later the creationists will mention the visit as though it helps their cause, since attention = validation to them.

Edit: Okay there's probably going to be one awkward encounter...

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/08/answers_in_genesis_is_proudly.php

However, it's as likely as not that he'll not even bother showing up as he promises.

Valhar2000 said...

Yes, it will probably be like the time that a few friends and I went to see the Scientologists. We figured we would laugh at them and have fun, but by the time we were in we were so weireded out that we just powered through it and were glad when we finally left.

Dark Jaguar said...

Well the event has come and gone, and while largely uneventful, it appears it wasn't entirely so. No one on "our side" did anything stupid, but it appears the people running the place just had to mess things up for themselves and kick some kid out. From what I've read on PZ's site, it appears he wasn't doing much of anything at all. He had a shirt with some atheist message on it (one of those completley innocuous messages from the sound of it, like "Don't believe in god? You're not alone.") which he removed when asked to, and then later apparently some other family overheard some comment about him being upset he had given them any money at all (for food it seems) which was enough to get him singled out and thrown out. Also some camera guy unrelated to the group was told to leave.

Seriously I had expected both sides to remain pretty civil, but this was really pretty stupid of them. I'm not going to call it some heinous act or anything, but it sure was unreasonable and very bad PR for themselves (and really, PR is all they have, making it even dumber).

Dark Jaguar said...

Oh, I'll note one other thing. Apparently PZ and others who were never brainwashed into this as I was (this includes the Bad Astronomer it seems) are rather shocked at the text on the exibits, at the attempt to pass themselves off as a real museum.

I expected exactly that considering my poor education in the past. I guess it takes the shock and surprise of those without such exposure to point out that really it IS odd for them to just state it so matter-of-factly. That's ALSO how a creationist biology book reads, just so you know. I guess what they would expect is every exibit to be on the defensive, stating first what evolution claims and then explain why they think otherwise. Well that gives too much credit. It's true that they DO do this in those sad biology books I read as a kid, but it is to a very limited extent, a sort of "to address that whole evolution nonsense" side-bit in a manilla box at the bottom of the page, where they basically just mangle the evidence or ignore it alltogether pretending it doesn't exist and then state how their intentionally poor understanding of evolution is silly and creationism is in the bible and therefor is true.

That though, as I said, is a side note in those books. The majority is just busy "teaching" the creatioinist world view as a list of facts all naked in the breeze. This makes sense from a creationist viewpoint, that they are 100% right and have all the evidence on their side and therefor shouldn't HAVE to act like they need to actually establish their hypothesis or constantly compare it to the majority well established theory. To constantly present both sides equally, or even unequally as they usually do, would undermine their own self-confidence, and above all, THAT has to be maintained.