Mike Williams is too real smart

Mike Williams responds, sort of, although in his response, self-referentially entitled “The Fail, It Burns“, he doesn’t actually answer any of the six questions I posed to him:

“Mr. Williamson, with all due respect, you don’t appear to realize
that you are not only dealing with a number of people here who are
smarter than you are, but are also better educated in science than you
are. It may help to keep in mind that at Vox Popoli, those who live by
the rhetoric tend to die quickly and brutally by the dialectic.”

That’s the funniest thing I’ve read this week. Thanks.

I was at first interested in your site. I thought I had found the anti-Scalzi.  And in fact, I have. that is not a compliment.


So, first, by what metric does he assume, after one email exchange
and a couple of comments that there are a “number of people” there who
are smarter than me?

It’s certainly not impossible, but per standardized testing, the odds
are 99.8% in my favor.  That is a mathematical extraction based on my
tested IQ.  So unless his blog is a haven for pure geniuses, it seems
unlikely.  Nor have I seen much demonstration of any hard scientific
knowledge among his supporters.  Though to be fair, I haven’t read much
of his blog and don’t plan to.

By what metric?  By simple observation. I’ve read his blog. I’ve followed his trains of thought. He’s observably not as smart as I am.  Anyone who reads this exchange can’t help but reach that conclusion. And there are dozens of people who read this blog who are every bit as intelligent as I am and more.  But we don’t even need that metric any longer, as the odds may have been 99.8% in his favor, but he crapped out nevertheless.  As for his claim to not have seen much demonstration of any hard scientific knowledge among the readers here, there was, among other things, a physics PhD and several other individuals who happen to possess advanced hard science degrees whose questions he ignored.  And notice that he thinks the idea that Darwin is dangerous is my idea….

With all due respect, Mr. Williamson badly underestimated me and the readers of VP, most likely because he is a science fetishist who is, like most  science fetishists, unthinkingly bigoted against Creationists.  Based on his admittedly impressive standardized test scores, which indicate an IQ in the +3 SD range, there are still dozens of people here smarter than he is.  There are at least three, to my certain knowledge, who are +5 SD.  Unlike most blogs, a mere +3SD isn’t even enough make one a big dog here.

Given that most of the interest there is in unquantifiable local
social issues, devoid of cites or analysis, it’s untestable, but my
perception is his belief is incorrect.  There’s a lot of opinion
there–some little of which I concur with–but a lot of BS, including
the obsession with myth (Creationism) over science.  It even repeats the
“Evolution is losing support among scientists!” bleat that’s been
around since…Darwin.  Yet every year we have better information,
better ability to define what we’re looking at, and better ability to
predict what we don’t see.  That’s called “Science.”  He even cutely
entitles his response to me, “rhetoric is not science.”  Indeed.  His
rhetoric is not science. 

No, my rhetoric isn’t science.  I have never claimed that it is.  More to the point, Mr. Williamson’s rhetoric isn’t science either and rhetoric, unoriginal rhetoric at that, is all he has offered.  He hasn’t even attempted to engage in dialectical discourse, let alone cited any scientific evidence for anything at all.

Second, he seems unaware that for Darwin to be challenged is a
POSITIVE thing for science.  It means we’ve refined the theory and have
improved precision. Much like the Earth went from spherical to oblate
to precisely delineated, and we are now working on equations to explain
orogenous upthrust (which isn’t as sexy as it sounds). 

Unaware?  I’ve repeatedly stated that in order to advance, genetic science will not only HAVE to challenge Darwin, but abandon him entirely.  Of course, he wouldn’t know that, since by his own admission, he hasn’t read much of my blog.  See, Mr. Williamson, this is why I know I am smarter than you are.  I wouldn’t ever make such a foolish and easily disproven assertion.  I’m smart enough to check first.

Third, it doesn’t matter how smart or educated either of us is. Facts
are facts.  Extrapolations are extrapolations.  And mythic fantasy is
mythic fantasy, even when called “religion.”  It is untestable,
unprovable, and not scientific.  There’s also an implied assumption that
the scientists working in genetics aren’t as smart as…a blogger.
 Which again, is not impossible, but is irrelevant.

True.  Facts are facts. Evidence is evidence. Opinions are irrelevant. But he is absolutely wrong to say that religion is untestable, unprovable, and not scientific.  There are no shortage of testable hypotheses that can be generated from various religions, including Christianity.  Christianity, at the very least, is falsifiable. His inability to recognize this is not a testament to his intelligence.  Moreover, by his own metric, which is to say untestability, he surely must recognize that evolution by natural selection is untestable at present.

He knows nothing about me other than our two emails and a couple of
comments.  But he knows I’m not as smart as he because I “believe”
different things.  In point of fact, I believe very little.  I observe.
 If there is no conclusion to be reached, I delay judgment until there

 No, I know he’s not as smart as I am because he takes foolish and easily disproven positions, such as “[Creationists] pose a serious threat to society.”  I repeat my question: How do creationists “pose a serious threat to society”?

Fourth, it’s entirely possible to disagree with the modern American
left, while being just as idiotic, prejudiced and intellectually
dishonest as its worst practitioners…which he ably demonstrates
(forex, constantly calling Scalzi “McRapey,” apparently completely
missing the point of one of John’s blogs that I do agree with), despite
his ability to solve the softball pre-algebra question I tossed at him.
 During the Spanish Civil War, the Fascists and the Communists were
diametrically opposed, yet largely indistinguishable.  Or in a
non-Godwin sense, pick European peasants forced to choose between Viking
raiders or the Franks.

Intellectually dishonest? From the gentleman who hasn’t answered a single question posed to him because his feelings are bruised over the fact that he is less intelligent than I am, and than dozens of my readers are?  I find it vastly amusing that so many people claim that I am incapable of recognizing satire in the process of failing to recognize a superior form of it themselves.  Also, and I quote, “John Scalzi is a rapist“.

And Darwin’s (or any) ideas are only “dangerous” to bleating
ideologues. Information falls across a spectrum from factual to
opinion, from useful to not.  A truly smart person analyzes the content
and comes to a conclusion, adapting the conclusions as needed as new
facts are presented.  That, we call “Science.”

First, note that Mr. Williamson doesn’t even recognize the obvious reference to Daniel Dennett’s book, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea.  Second, no, merely reaching a conclusion and adapting it as needed is not, by any definition, “Science”. By that definition, quarterbacks are scientists.

And despite devoting more than 600 words to his response, Mr. Williamson didn’t manage to answer any of the questions I posed to him.  For someone who calls his blog The Sacred Cow Slaughterhouse, Mr. Williamson appears to preserve more than his own fair share of them.  So, I will repeat them.

  1. How do creationists “pose a serious threat to society”?
  2. There are an estimated 1,263,186 animal species and 326,175 plant
    species in the world.  Assuming the age of the Earth is 4.54 billion
    years, what is the average rate of speciation?
  3. How many mutations, on average, are required per speciation?
  4. What scientifically significant predictive model relies primarily upon evolution by natural selection?
  5. Which of the various human sub-species is the most evolved; i.e.
    modified by mutation and natural selection from the most recent common
    human ancestor? Which is the least evolved?
  6. Is the theory of evolution by natural selection strengthened or weakened by the claim that most DNA is devoid of purpose?

As for being the anti-Scalzi, compliment or not, I most certainly am. How can you tell?  Because I mentioned Mike.  I responded to him in substantive detail. And I have not banished him from my list of Standout Authors.  Why not?  BECAUSE WE ARE NOT RABBITS!  We can handle differences of opinion.  We can engage in discourse, even vicious, acrimonious discourse, without resorting to attempts to exclude and silence.

Mr. Williamson may not plan to read this blog in the future, but he is always welcome to do so, and to comment here as he sees fit, whether he agrees with me, whether he likes me, and whether he respects me or not. And my opinion of his writing is not dependent upon his view of Creationism or his opinion of me.

    The importance of stories

    Sarah Hoyt explains why it is so important to resist the media mainstream and the stories it is telling:

    That wish for normality, that desire to belong to a group is what causes the whole concept of “normal.”  I don’t know anymore who I was reading the other day, when a character says “What if nobody really is normal?  What if everyone is just pretending?”

    I’d say it makes no difference, really.  Partly because the concept of normal and people acting externally normal makes it easier for rulers to control you and particularly to hold over you the threat of exclusion form the group; and partly because eventually you internalize what you pretend to be….

    In the same way the slow, trickle, trickle, trickle distorts our impression of normal too.  It’s become impolite to say in public you’re a Tea Partier, for instance.  The slur of sexual innuendo, followed by never substantiated rumors of violence, have stained the name, though there is no truth at all in it.  At the same time, unless you are with friends and know them well enough, it is against politeness to refer to Occupiers as “Louse infested would be communists” – though it is true of the vast majority of them.

    Because that’s not how the stories present those groups.  And people want to belong to the majority – to the “normal.”

    Even outliers, people who step out, can break and fall back into the norm.  A great example is that blog that shall never be mentioned, but which has turned completely around in the last 5 years or so.  I was talking to a friend about that and wondered if it was always a false flag operation, designed to turn before 08 and confuse the issue.  He said maybe but – and he’s a right outlier, by virtue of what he is, the same I am – he thought what it actually was just pressure.  Because the owner of that blog is an artist in a leftist community.  The pressure to “return to normal” just broke him at last.

    In my case, of course, the more pressure to return to normal the more I explode in weird directions, but growing up when and where I did with non-pierced ears and wearing pants (for the UK visitors that means trousers) I was sort of like the boy named Sue and learned to fight before I could walk.  The shock is not that I won’t return to “normal”; the shock is that I managed to semi-pretend for ten years.

    Of course, the most effective strategy would be to pretend to be of them and change it from the inside, but I’m not sure it’s possible.  Religions take time to subvert and cultures take time to change, and we’re nearing the end of that time.  (No?  Look at our economy.  Or our feral children.)

    Christianity, while it was replacing the old culture, at least was aware of how the world works.  The culture the Marxists seek to impose doesn’t fit ANY real world with real people, not even the places where they won.  To be “normal” people are going around pretending to believe things that simply aren’t so, like that anyone wanting to look after himself and his is “greedy” and must have stolen what he has; that women are physically stronger than men, and more independent in spirit; that children are wiser than their parents; that everyone must have sex all the time, or they’ll go mad; that every culture in the world is superior to ours.

    No one sane can believe any of these even for a minute, if they examine it.  But people don’t.  They just try to “act normal” – which is bringing down Western civilization.  That part might be a feature not a bug, except that communist regimes in the end are like all the old empires: they must feed off healthy societies near them.  If they destroy the healthy societies, the world will go down to a long darkness, until the culture changes.

    When both a European immigrant to America and an American immigrant to Europe, two writers who have never met, who have never read each other’s books, and who have considerably different opinions on a number of policies and issues provide almost identical warnings concerning the cancerous societal effect of what is presently being pushed as “normal”, even the most enthusiastic supporter of the proposed new normal should be inspired to, at the very least, consider rethinking his enthusiasm.

    Because moral degradation is the new normal. Is the nihilism of Martin, Bakker, and Abercrombie truly to be preferred to the humble heroism of Tolkien? Has the progressive and privileged white preachiness of Rapey McRaperson genuinely produced better science fiction than the libertarian idealism of Robert Heinlein? Are the pornographic necro-bestial fantasies of Laurell Hamilton better plotted or more psychologically relevant than the modest Christian piety of Ellis Peters and Agatha Christie?  Is the YA work of Stephanie Meyer as thought-provoking or as edifying as the children’s novels of CS Lewis?

    And if the stories of this new and progressive normal are so uniformly pallid and cancerous when viewed in comparison with the stories of the old and traditional normal, how can anyone credibly suppose that its reality will not prove equally diseased and devolutionary?

    There is power in the old stories. That is why the gatekeepers of progress are so intent on preventing them from being told.  This is why it is important to continue telling them, and why I encourage those who hold to the traditions of the civilized, Christian West to give the works of those authors listed on the sidebar as Standout SF Authors and Friends of Narnia a shot.

    Lars Walker reviews A THRONE OF BONES

    As we were discussing George Martin and the aspects of his work which tend to appeal to the Left yesterday, the appearance of this review is a timely one. Lars Walker is the author of the novels that collectively make up The Erling Skjalgsson Saga, and as can be seen from his picture, is a descendant of Vikings himself. (Ladies, I believe he is single.) This no doubt made it rather painful for him to read through the scenes set in the Iles de Loup.   Nevertheless, he manfully slogged through them in order to write his review of A THRONE OF BONES.

    Most anyone who starts reading Throne of Bones will realize that it’s very much the same sort of thing as George R. R. Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice books, and Vox makes no denial of this. But he’s trying to do the same sort of thing in a very different way, which for me makes all the difference….

    I enjoyed it immensely. Vox Day isn’t the prose stylist George R. R. Martin is, but he’s not bad. On the plus side we have a complicated, complex story with interesting and sympathetic, fully rounded characters. There are few out-and-out villains – everybody is doing what they think right. And unlike Martin’s stories, the fact that someone is virtuous and noble does not guarantee them a painful and ignominious death. In terms of pure story, Vox Day’s book is much more rewarding. And Christianity is treated not only with respect, but as a true part of the cosmos. Much recommended. 

    Walker is entirely correct to say that ATOB is very much the same sort of thing as AGOT. It was intended that way from the start.  However, I did not write Arts of Dark and Light to imitate A Song of Ice and Fire, but rather, to create a fantasy epic of similar scope that not only improves upon Martin’s series in terms of characterization, intellectual depth, and storytelling, but also demonstrates the way in which the utilization of a more traditional and historically coherent perspective can permit a less-talented writer to create works capable of surpassing the well-written, but empty, soulless literary edifices constructed by the betrayers of the fantasy tradition created by George MacDonald and so firmly established by JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis.

    Contra the superficial assumptions of those who look only at the rhyming names and the similar heft of the two books, A THRONE OF BONES is not an imitation of A GAME OF THRONES. To the extent that it is relevant to compare the two books, it would be considerably more accurate to describe it as literary criticism in action.  I find it a little ironic that while people often ask critics if they can do any better, on the rare occasion one actually attempts to do so, one is accused of wishing to imitate the object of criticism.

    The Future of the Future

    John C. Wright predicts where SF/F is heading on the basis of its primary purposes:

    Like all fiction, Science Fiction is an oasis of rest amid the wasteland of mundane life, a time between toil to lift our eyes to distant mountains and wonder what is beyond them, or to lift our eyes further, to the stars, and wonder.

    Unlike other fiction, which contains imaginary places and events, science fiction also contains an imaginary cosmos that operates by different rules, perhaps one where men can be invisible, or fly to the moon in antigravity spheres, or suffer an invasion by hunger and superior beings from Mars. The bridge between the real cosmos and the science fictional cosmos is the speculation, either rigorous or lax, of scientific plausibility that connects them. If you have invisible man in a science fiction story, he must perhaps walk unclothed, for example, because that is a realistic extrapolation from the unrealistic premise; or if you have invaders from Mars, they must have physiology evolved by Martian conditions, they perhaps will be swiftly poisoned by the diseases their more advanced civilization long ago abolished from their sterile world, because again this is a realistic extrapolation from an unreal premise.

    Fantasy also postulates a different cosmos with different rules, but the bridge that reaches to the perilous realm of Elfland from our world is one of dream-logic. If the wicked witch says love’s first kiss will wake the sleeping beauty, only the prince who did not die on the enchanted thorns hedging the haunting castle may kiss and wake her, and not Doctor McCoy with a hypospray of stimulant. Because that is the way dream logic works, or fairy tales, or myths: the arbitrary rules of Elfland can be trespassed only with draconian retaliation, and the rewards achieved by the bold or the cunning performance of the twelve terrible tasks or the answer of the riddle of the sphinx. These are the dreamlike implications of the unreal premise, based on the rules of a realm no man has seen, but which we somehow always greet with a start of recognition.

    Why do we need dreams to come from a cosmos other than this one?

    I propose that while somewhere, on some dark and moonless world of inky seas beneath a blood-colored sun, some Coleopterous race of pitiless logic and soulless energy toil and travail nakedly without joy, copulate without love, live without dreams and perish without regret, their corpses left to rot where they fall, or are eaten by their larvae, that these insectiod swarms are the true heirs to this cosmos, and, unlike Man, feel no discomfort at existence here. Birth is no miracle to them and death no tragedy, because they are at home here, and their emotions exactly suit and match the contours of the world.

    Not Man. We are exiles.

    Wright identifies the intrinsic flaw in mainstream secular science fiction and fantasy. Rejecting, as it does, the fundamentally religious foundation of fantasy, (for Wright is incorrect and George MacDonald, not William Morris, is the father of fantasy), modern fantasy cannot serve its primary purpose because it cannot slake a thirst its writers do not even realize exists.  This is why there so often feels like something missing from even the best modern fantasy, why it is lifeless, soulless, and limited to portraying shades of grey in the place of the full color spectrum.

    Mainstream science fiction is affected by these problems too, but to a much lesser extent because it has a different purpose. If fantasy is meant to provide the exile with dreams of home, science fiction is supposed to provide a technological vision of the future. The problem is that science is increasingly beyond the comprehension of the science fiction writer to grasp its implications, has settled many of the questions to which science fiction once proposed answers, (and often in a way that renders more abstract the various possibilities of wonder), and is increasingly written by writers who have no interest in technology and can’t explain how their television’s remote control worked, much less present a technologically credible vision of the future.  Even as less science fiction is being published, there is less and less science to be found in what purports to remain of it.

    It is hard to dispute Wright’s conclusion: “So look for a growth of darker fantasies in the future as the scientific
    world view slowly gives way to a world view that does not believe in
    science, nor in any over-arching narrative, nor in truth, nor in beauty,
    nor in virtue.”

    But that is neither fantasy nor science fiction.  What we are witnessing is the lingering death of two literary genres. What we are seeing is the subsumption of fantasy and science fiction by romance and horror.

    Free book: HAILSTONE MOUNTAIN by Lars Walker

    Lars Walker, the author of a piece about Christian Fantasy published on Intercollegiate Review last month that he assures me absolutely did not include a direct shot at A Throne of Bones, (“wannabee (christened) George R. R. Martins”), is giving away free copies of HAILSTONE MOUNTAIN today.

    In the latest entry in the saga of Erling Skjalgsson, the 11th Century
    Norwegian chieftain is struck by a deadly curse, and must journey north
    along with his friends in order to crush it at its source. Meanwhile
    Freydis, niece of the smith Lemming, is kidnapped by the servants of a
    mysterious, ancient cannibalistic race who dwell in secret in the
    mountains of the north. Once again the Irish priest Father Ailill
    narrates a tale of struggle, faith, endurance, and supernatural peril.
    Fans of H. Rider Haggard will delight in this “lost world” adventure.

    He’s a Minnesotan named Lars, so you know he knows his Vikings. He’s also one of my growing list of Standout Authors. Check it out, and if you like it, don’t forget to review it.