New roolz

January 25, 2013 • 9:42 am

UPDATE: I have clarified the first rule.

Just a note about some modified rules I’ve concocted in view of things that have occurred lately:

1.  Please try not to use this website to gratuitously tout your own website, your own articles, your own books, or anything else you want to promote. If you have a post on your website (or another one) that you think engages constructively with the topic under discussion or with something that a commenter says, then by all means call attention to it. What I am objecting to here, and didn’t do such a good job explaining in the first version of this comment, is the use of my website solely to promote your own, a cause you like, or a book you’ve written. If you are interested in promoting the latter, email me privately to call it to my attention. I have responded to such emails asking me to take a look at books or websites, and sometimes I’ll call attention to them.

2. Re the above: I have become aware that some commentors here have written very critical analyses of my posts on their own websites.  That’s perfectly fine with me: the internet is for criticism and discussion. However, if you’re going to go after me on your own site, you will have to have the guts to reveal your own name—after all, I do.  Most of those sites don’t say who is behind them. Such discussion should not take place behind the protection of pseudonyms, and I consider this kind of criticism pure cowardice.

Therefore, if I become aware of a poster eviscerating me on his/her own website, that person will be allowed to post here only if they reveal their real name.  That seems reasonable to me.

Oh, and if you’re a new reader, acquaint yourself with the posting rules here, which you can do by simply putting “roolz” in the search box.

Here, have a cat:


82 thoughts on “New roolz

      1. Well, who’s to say that I can’t multitask and just Americanized it? Or something.

        It’s a title used in several video games, and it’s a nickname I’ve had for a few years now. So, I decided to use it. =^_^=

        1. Well, I know people do it all the time, but I thought I’d read Jerry write that he would prefer substantive comments as opposed to “+1” types. Having gone back over the ‘roolz’ posts, I fail to spot any such mention.

          I have been operating under a self-imposed delusion!

          (+1 to you)

            1. Often times commenters have already expressed my opinions, better than I could myself, by the time I read these posts. And there seems some value in knowing how popular (or not) certain stances are.

              Plus it beats “sub.” 🙂 Or trying to come up with something sensible when you really have nothing more to add…

              And some commenters write so brilliantly or movingly or whatever that they certainly deserve plaudits!

              1. what does the +1 mean anyway?

                I started doing “sub” cuz I’ve seen others do “sub”. I thought it’s some special inside lingo. lolz.

              2. This site doesn’t offer the opportunity to subscribe to further comments unless you make a comment yourself, hence people who have nothing they wish to say but wish to read all the comments just sub with ‘sub’,
                +1 means I agree with you.

  1. I don’t post here often, but I find the anonymity rule troubling. Critiques should be judged on their merits, not on the merits of the people posting them.

    Requiring real names of anonymous posters here who critique you elsewhere sounds like an attempt to shut down critiques. In reality, it will likely just cause you to be uninformed of and unconnected to the critiques.

    While you’re allowed to be a petty tyrant on your own blog, do you really want to be?

    1. I don’t think you are being reasonable. If you have to stay totally anoymous for social or political reasons, as has happened with people trying to escape a religious background here before now, then that is one thing, & you can always contact Jerry directly to give your reasons.

      1. You realize that you didn’t respond to anything I actually said, right? I didn’t make the “psuedonyms are necessary for some” argument.

        Now that you’ve brought it up, though, Jerry doesn’t include an out in his roolz for necessary psuedonyms.

        1. Sigh… No, I am saying they are for some. You are being prickly – I am not attacking you, I am saying that sometimes anonymity is understandable. Perhaps I should have put it as a new point.
          So you know I am not anonymous (even though in miserable existence IS!) my email is on this page

      2. I could have lived without the “petty tyrant” implication. Tgt’s point could have been made without a gratuitous swipe at our handsome host.

        That said, anonymity is one of the more contentious issues across the web, and there are strong arguments on both sides.

        Jerry’s blog, Jerry’s roolz; however, I’m not a fan of compulsory surrender of one’s anonymity because one criticized you somewhere else.

          1. I agree with your statement, but not that it makes anyone a “petty tyrant” if they choose a moderation rule with which I disagree.

            1. Nice strawman. I suggested THIS rule is indicative of petty tyrants, not that ANY DISAGREED WITH rule would be.

              This rule is counter to the open exchange of ideas. It creates separate rules for people who criticize the website’s purveyor than for those who don’t. I think my characterization of petty tyranny is pretty accurate.

              1. Sorry, but that’s rude. You can make your point without using the word “petty tyrant”, so apologize.

                And my intention is not to shut down exchange: how does it do that, exactly? If someone wants to publish an anonymous critique as a comment on this post, they’re welcome to do so. I don’t demand that those people reveal their identities. And they can also do it on their websites. But they can’t advertise their websites without revealing their names, because more often than not it reflects cowardice. If they want to do that and have a good reason for blogging anonymously, they can always email me. I’m not totally unreasonable.

                At any rate, my feeling is that anonymity is responsible for 90% of the vitriol on the internet, and that most people who post nasty stuff don’t have good reasons for being anonymous; they are using pseudonyms as a screen to say whatever they want without taking responsibility for it. I never comment without using my real name, and neither do most of the “bloggers” I respect. You are a lot more civil and responsible when your name is attached to what you write. There’s a reason why magazines don’t publish articles by “anonymous” (the Economist is an exception), nor will the New York Times publish contributed critiques, letters, or op-eds by pseudonymous people. Why do you suppose that is?

              2. I agree 100%. Anonymous vitriol is a pain and I’m sure there are next to no situations in which it is justified. I think anonymity feeds more than cowardice, it feeds laziness, gives you less reason to reason well. For that reason, TGT, I think you should put your name to your critiques.

              3. Unfortunately, and to my great annoyance, the NYT has changed its policy about pseudonymous letters. Is nothing sacred?

              4. The lack of gutter-tone is one of the main reasons I frequent this site and its comments sections. Thanks for keeping the standards up, sir.

            1. I only have a few details, and those by private mail; so sorry for the vagueness, but…

              Amy had/has some health issues but is improving.

              1. I hope so. I was, and still am, quite worried about her. If you see or write to her, please ask her to email me when she’s up to it.

              2. Y’know; I’ve just sat in the UK, relaying a message in something approaching real time, from the USA to Japan…

                And theists say my world-view lacks any Wonder! </musing>

        1. I use a pseudonym (real first name), for as a female, I’m used to taking extra precautions. I do engage in debate on Facebook lists, where my real name is used. I appreciate the time and expertise that Jerry puts into this blog…er…site; so that civility is paramount. Flame wars are beyond boring, and we are expected to use English to express our displeasure.

          This is Jerry’s list, his creation and his roolz are more than reasonable.

          This is Australia Day, so I bid you a ‘gidday’.

  2. The new rules sound reasonable to me.

    And yes, I am using my real name.

    A note to Jerry – when you post an image, it is actually possible to disable comments on the image itself – that way you won’t have to keep warning people to post only to the main topic and not to the image.

  3. It’s your bwebsite Jerry. Correspondents get to speak their mind, subject to ground roolz made perfectly clear already. We do not get to dictate the roolz; that’s as it should be. Big up your good self.

  4. Re #1: I’m not sure I understand what counts as “touting.” What if I link someone here to an argument I’ve written on my blog that is relevant to something we’re discussing? “This is too long to post here, but I discussed this in length at my blog.” That sort of thing should be alright, yes?

    Re #2: So if Orac writes something critical of you, he will no longer be allowed to post here? That seems wrong. Some people have good reasons for maintaining anonymity on their blogs.

    1. Yes.

      This new set of rules is likely unnecessary.

      People gravitate to this website because it is very informative and awesomez.

      The only real danger of “parasitism” is if becomes rampant that it becomes spam on the discussion threads.

      Now if people are really “parasitizing” your website by plugging their own websites here and they start to draw traffic from your site to their site, it likely will be because those “parasites” are making good arguments against your arguments.

      So in due time if those “parasites” really are making good arguments to counter yours, then they really are justified in drawing traffic to their site.

      In any case, drawing traffic to their site is not mutually exclusive to you drawing traffic to your website. People can visit both! Unless their arguments consistently win out over yours, then people will start reading more and more of their stuff.

  5. Thank you for your blog. I know the book is out, but perhaps a better title would be “Why Evolution is Convincing”. This is a concept I’ve “borrowed” from Luis Villareal (UC Irvine) He suggests that being convinced rather than belief is what characterizes scientific epistemology. It avoids the intentional confusion, by believers in the supernatural, of science with religion.

    1. The human respiratory system needs oxygen.

      Is that statement ‘true’ or ‘convincing’?

      My own thought is that ‘convincing’ would be an understatement there and would also be an understatement in the case of evolution. Evolution happens, it is a fact. The processes involved have been generalized as theory, that theory is holding up very well over the test of time (unlike christianity, which is a loser). There is at times some controversy as to which processes of evolution played the most dominant role in producing a certain trait but that doesn’t change the facts regarding Why Evolution Is True, not just simply convincing.

      1. Thanks, Not. I hope this isn’t too beside the “roolz” thread point. It’s “obviously” true that human beings need to breathe in order to continue life. That they need “oxygen” is “true” because experiments starting with Priestly and Lavoisier were sufficiently convincing to have overruled other possibilities. But as the experimental data was being created, the “truth” of that statement was provisional until it wasn’t. Just who is the authority declaring “truth” over “convincing”?

        Just what is true about nuclear structure? I don’t deny that there is a “fact of the matter”, but it isn’t as if Bohr theory, however limited wasn’t convincing, but it was still provisional.

        At any rate, my point wasn’t really about “truth” (What is that, anyway? Inquiring philosophers still want to know) It was about the language one might use to differentiate irrationally-arrived at “truths” from those brought about by evidence. I don’t doubt that those meeting up with Jesus in person truly believe in their visions, but “true for them” doesn’t seem all that “truthy”, at least to me.

        What, for me differentiates “science” from other ways of apprehending the world is intersubjectively communicable results. That is, any assertion needs to be able to convince others, not just of your honesty, but of your accuracy.

        Eliding a lot of discussions among Popper, Feyerabend and Lakatos, truth seems to be something that we arrive at, but which is in principle subject to later correction.

        Newtonian “truth” sufficed to get astronauts to the Moon, but Einstein’s version was needed for GPS to work.


    2. Besides the website takes its name from Jerry’s book… you might have any uphill struggle with the publishers.

      But, yes, evolution is true, and any one who serious disputes that is a dunderhead.


      PS. & as many know, Ant Allan is my real name.

      1. Ohhhh, Evolution is True….What version? Group selection? Selfish genes? The problem I have with this statement (And not with the book or blog title) is that “Evolution” isn’t a single statement or even a unified and universally accepted body of knowledge. No, I don’t find evolution, as a very general concept “unconvincing”, quite the contrary, but while I lack the expertise to assert one of the many varied positions among pros in the field, I know that evolution is “evolving” So in the sense that a moving target can be true…evolution is true, but way more convincing than any other competing body of theory/experiment.

        1. The version that is a fact.

          Let me try to make crystal clear what is established beyond reasonable doubt, and what needs further study, about evolution. Evolution as a process that has always gone on in the history of the earth can be doubted only by those who are ignorant of the evidence or are resistant to evidence, owing to emotional blocks or to plain bigotry. By contrast, the mechanisms that bring evolution about certainly need study and clarification. There are no alternatives to evolution as history that can withstand critical examination. Yet we are constantly learning new and important facts about evolutionary mechanisms. [my emphasis]

          — Theodosius Dobzhansky “Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution” American Biology Teacher vol. 35 (March 1973)


        2. Evolution is change in the frequencies of alleles in reproductive populations over multiple generations. It… happens. So it’s true.

          There are also several mechanisms that describe how evolution happens (natural selection, genetic drift, etc). These also happen. We don’t always know which mechanisms were responsible for which changes, so that is an area of ongoing research, but the fundamentals of ToE are much more solid than you make them sound.

  6. I have no dog (or blog) in this hunt, but perhaps anonymous critics could privately email Jerry and reveal themselves that way.

    1. I think then you fall into the whole ‘3 can keep a secret if 2 are dead’ kind of reasoning. The only way to ensure a secret remains as such is not to disclose it, and it seems a bit strange to me that a person would condition disagreement on what one knows about the arguer rather than on what the argument actually is.

      Let’s just be grateful that no one pen-named Common Sense is still around to disagree here…

  7. Just for clarification.

    “Daz” is a real-world nickname I’ve been known by since I was five-years old or so. Does this count as a real name? It’s certainly as much my name to me and those who know me, both on and off line, as the one on my birth certificate.

  8. I quite agree and will endeavor to toe the line. If I had any gripe with this blog I would certainly post it here using reasonable language. I think there is quite a lot of paranoia about using ones real name. A lot of that may well come from those who really have something to hide. I use my real name on twitter and on my emails. Mind you I quite enjoy my self imposed nick-names like ‘Ropey’ or oldryhmertimer. Everyone may call me Cliff if they prefer.

  9. Jerry, if I can make a request, please write an article discussing the evolution of emotions in mammals (or further back!). I’ve just discovered Darwin’s “The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals” and have downloaded a couple articles online and I find the whole idea of emotional evolution fascinating. Thanks!

  10. I find both the new rules problematic, especially the first (the second may or may not discourage morphing and sockpuppetry). Am I to copy-and-paste my views on a subject from my website if I have addressed that subject there at great length? How am I to get across the meaning of YouTube videos made by me in text comments? As Dr. Coyne says, “You are a lot more civil and responsible when your name is attached to what you write”.

    1. I have ways of discouraging sockpuppetry.

      As I said, I’m trying to be reasonable. A private email to me will be appreciated, and my email is widely available, since I’m not anonymous.

  11. I don’t have my own website, so I guess the new roolz don’t apply to me. Ye!

    But in any case, I thought the anonymity thing in the internet isn’t water-tight anyway. I give my real email address when commenting. Is that info available to the blog (website) owner, or is that only for wordpress consumption?

  12. I have enjoyed your books, I have enjoyed your cat posts, I have in general enjoyed your website. Your rules, however, are becoming annoying. Now you label those who might put their wordpress site link on your website, to point out a post they have made about the topic on discussion, parasites. I will wait a week before I remove my subscription to your site to see how this plays out.

    1. I have clarified the first rule to explain that I don’t want gratuitous links or promotions that aren’t related to the topic under discussion. That was my intent, but I didn’t convey it so well.

      I now stand by what I’ve written,as well as my earlier rules, and if you still find it “annoying,” by all means do what you need to do.

      1. Ok I still don’t quite get it. So forgive me for being annoying.

        With the current roolz, do people have to provide their names if they agree with your stance and simply re-iterate and add-on and amplify on your points in their own website?

        Or does the requirement that they reveal their identity only apply if their stance disagrees with yours and they go on to spell it out on their own websites?

        At the moment, the label “coward” has only been applied to anonymous criticizers of your stance. Does the label “coward” also apply to anonymous proponents of your stance?

        To me it seems ego may partially be at play here.

      2. Thank you! I still don’t consider anonymous criticism “cowardice”, but I am much more satisfied with this version of the rules than I was before.

  13. The funny thing is, unless your name is highly unusual or you are famous you can use your real full name and still be quite anonymous. You may think your name is uncommon, but google it and typically you’ll discover there are hundreds like it out there.

  14. Roolz sound reasonable to me! Like Jerry, I am not a fan of anonymity. But I also realize there are situations where anonymity might be necessary, and Jerry has already stated his willingness to be reasonable if such a person were to email him. Seems straightforward to me.

  15. could we have a few examples where Anonymous eviscerates Professor Coyne?

    I am trying to understand the anonymity rule.

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