People ask me amazing questions. They’re generally both ignorant and redundant, as I indicated previously.
Sometimes the questions are neither ignorant nor redundant. They’re mean-spirited, thereby consistent with this entire culture. I don’t know if the questioner is mirroring the culture or the culture is merely a sum of the jerks asking the questions. Perhaps it’s a self-reinforcing feedback loop of meanness as a method to gather prestige by belittling others.
Perhaps the people asking the questions don’t even know they’re rude. Perhaps I’m asking too much from individuals trapped within a culture now far-removed from civility. Consider the exceptionally personal, incredibly inappropriate questions asked by Daniel in this space:
So, how are you currently financially supporting yourself; where’s your money coming from? What flow of money is allowing you to tour the world giving presentations on NTE?
Since you don’t seem to be holding down a day job, I’ll assume you’re still living off the savings/pension from your tenure in academia, yes?
How much did your earlier imperial savings factor into you thinking it wise to “walk away from empire” in the first place, compared to having come to regret that decision, given that nest egg probably isn’t what it once was?
Apparently manners are irrelevant. Consider me a old-fashioned, but to ask these exceptionally personal questions is rude. As expected from somebody who would ask these questions, no thanks was offered when I responded. My too-polite, too-revealing response is here:
Daniel, I can’t imagine a dozen people within IC would answer your extremely personal questions. They are none of your business. But my life is an open book, and I suspect I’m infinitely more honest than the typical person within IC, so I’ll answer, against my better judgment.
All of my speaking tours are financed through donations. Click the link above to pitch in.
I spent my “retirement” funds on this homestead. Between the >$500K spent here and the >$700K income forgone, perhaps you can understand why I view the move as an error. Perhaps not, though. An extra $1.2 million and a healthy stream of income would allow me many more opportunities to get the word out.
Your final question is redundant, so I’ll ignore it. My wife pays for groceries with her paltry income. And we share property with people far more typical of IC than us. Ergo, mistakes have been made.
Daniel is not stupid. And I doubt he’s a troll. Too, I doubt he considers himself impolite. By asking this series of questions, consistent with his previous and subsequent behavior, he illustrates behavior that would’ve shocked my parents. Still would, in fact.
And I don’t think my parents are the issue here. Neither do I believe my response is particularly pungent. Since sending my response to Daniel, funds spent on the homestead have increased, along with forgone income. As expected, Daniel has offered no comment, no thanks, and no donation.
On the topic of trolls, they’re abundant and easy to spot. They don’t ask questions. Rather, they proclaim knowledge, rooted in belief and unshackled by evidence.
For example, the typical troll trots out a three-year-old blog post to challenge the evidence I present. The foolish cowards continue to show up on Alex Smith’s blog, and they include the likes of Tony Weddle (aka sofistek). He’s hardly the only acolyte of science
educator denier Scott Johnson wallowing in ignorance and fear, but he’s exemplary in his outspoken denial. These people remind me of a statement from Carl Sagan:
One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over, you almost never get it back.
The attacks are unceasing, as they’ve been for longer than a decade. They invariably focus on me, not my work. Shooting the messenger never goes out of style.
I take this opportunity to clear up a common misconception. I readily admit I erred upon leaving active service at the university. I loved classroom teaching, as well as mentoring. I was very good at both endeavors, which explains why the university desperately tried to censor me and then encouraged my departure. All that aside, I have come to grips with my early exit from academic life. Initially disappointed by the cowardice of others with respect to following my lead, reflection has allowed me to accept aspects of human behavior about which I was formerly ignorant. And I am free in ways I could not have predicted before I moved away from Tucson.
As with many factors in the life of a rationalist, my personal history is part of what defines me. At this point, it simply is. There are many facets to reality.