Dialog Delayed

I had intended to bring you my latest response in the dialog yesterday. I submitted it Friday night. However, it hasn’t been posted yet. For those of you who are interested in following the dialog, I’m afraid I can’t tell you when it will be posted.

Apparently, the moderator for the other team has decided that my post is better moderated than argued with, and Mick Nugent has not ruled that out. I’m disagreeing strongly. I did not sign up to have my posts changed before they see the light of day. I haven’t asked for any changes to their posts, even where they clearly haven’t met the requirements of the dialog (i.e., Skep Sheik’s failure to indicate agreement or disagreement with the points he responded to). This was not part of the terms I agreed to.

We’ll see what happens next.

Dialog Delayed
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40 thoughts on “Dialog Delayed

  1. 1

    Wut… They agree that moderating private blogs is your own business totally breaking with pit mythos since this is supposedly akin to nazism…. Now they want to… Edit your comment! LMAO at this development!

  2. 2

    It’s just my opinion but I think you should tell Nugent that he should either publish what you wrote without alteration or that you withdraw from the dialog. It’s easy for one side in an argument to win if they control what their opponents say.

  3. 3

    I’d suggest posting the original here in its unedited form at some point. I don’t know if the rules of the dialogue forbid you from posting it here ahead of time, but given that they’re about to mangle it (and with permission? wtf? how is editing other people’s submissions supposed to contribute to honest exchange of ideas?), and you don’t know when/if it will be released, you might want to consider it.

  4. 4

    I agree with Jadehawk. Posting it now would also provide the additional benefit of putting the actual post out where people can find it BEFORE the moderated post is published, thus allowing for comparison between the two without concern that people will claim that you changed your post after the moderated one was published.

  5. 9

    Oh, man, I took a look at the “dialog” for the first time.

    All I can say is that the format seems guaranteed to inspire the very worst, most turgid, most unreadable writing from all involved. The last time I saw writing that overwrought and cautious was when I had to sign my mortgage papers.

  6. 11

    Wow. Do you still trust Nugent to give you a fair chance? If I were you, I’d follow Jadehawk’s advice and publish your dialog as written. Then edit it to show both the moderated and unmoderated versions, when the pit’s version appears.

  7. 12

    Then edit it to show both the moderated and unmoderated versions, when the pit’s version appears.

    IF the pit’s version appears. More likely they’ll just refuse and claim as justification that posting the original here violated the dialogue terms.

    How about requiring Nugent to post both versions simultaneously, or arrange with him to post the original here simultaneously with the pit-approved version?

  8. 13

    Well, didn’t take very long for them to cave and refuse to “discuss” fairly, did it? I’d say that you should insist on first rights seeing whatever comes out after “moderation”, and if you don’t like it, it doesn’t go up at all there, and you get to put up the unedited version here, and the whole thing stands as a testament that they can’t even handle being talked directly to in a neutral environment.

  9. 14

    I agree; publish here. If that torpedoes the dialogue, so be it. Free speech is not for other people, apparently. It doesn’t sound like Nugent is acting in good faith either. What’s next, is he going to let the other side write your next entry completely? If they don’t want you to talk about the elephant in the room, then they should stop dressing like elephants, not deny that elephants even exist.

  10. 15

    Mick is acting as an intermediary. He doesn’t have any control over what they ask for. I’d have thought this kind of request would be obviously contrary to the point, but I shouldn’t shoot the messenger.

  11. 16

    So Nugent’s providing a neutral platform and is otherwise hands-off? Then IMHO publishing your statement publically here is the only recourse. The other side can approve it there, edit it there, refuse to publish it there, whatever, but they will have to explain their decision to do any of the three or else withdraw.

  12. 17

    It will get published here one way or another unless someone comes up with an exceptionally good reason why it shouldn’t. (No, I can’t think what that would be either.) I publish all my statements here for those who are abstaining from the dialog for reasons of principle. I can’t see any reason why I wouldn’t this time.

  13. 18

    If nothing else, it seems specifically and intentionally designed to provoke negative reactions… maybe looking for an excuse to bail on the discussion by behaving in bad faith? Then however YOU respond will be seen as the “real” bad faith action and then they will claim victory? It just seems really really shady.

  14. 19

    Mick is acting as an intermediary. He doesn’t have any control over what they ask for.

    But wait, isn’t it his blog? So they can ask, but he can say no. That’s the kind of thing that doesn’t show up in the ground rules because it seems so bloody obvious that nobody in their right minds would ask for that, so it shouldn’t have taken even a minute’s worth of thought for him to tell them no, and then to inform you that a) it happened and b) he said no. I don’t see any space for him saying “they asked for this, and I haven’t decided yet”.

  15. 20

    But wait, isn’t it his blog?

    ^This. He may not be able to control what they ask for, but can’t he control what he lets them do? Or is someone else in control of the site?

  16. 21

    Mick is working with two other people on this site as a team. One of them is someone who is putting in a bunch of time on this to represent my interests. It isn’t just him.

  17. 22

    I thought that the idea of moderation was to ensure compliance with previously agreed-upon principles – not just to “represent your interests”.

    In addition, Michael Nugent does specify a “structured dialog” which presumably applies to everybody. Which, considering the heavy moderation here, one would have thought you would have been more than happy to comply with. Unless you’re more into one sauce for the goose, and another for the gander ….

  18. 23

    Will the “moderated” material will be clearly indicated as altered in the title? Will the names of the “moderators” be listed as co-authors of the work? Will every deletion of your words be clearly indicated, by an ellipsis? Will every addition of their words be placed in brackets and identified by the name or initials of the actual author? I believe that’s all standard usage, at least in America.

    You may well have already considered this, but it occurs to me that if you allow a “moderated” version to be published, the pitters can put any words they want in your name, and then “quote” you endlessly, no matter how many times you correct the record. At least insisting on standard usage will make it clear to anyone who checks where you are being misquoted.

    And, personally, I don’t trust Nugent. You know him better than I do, I realize. I don’t know him at all. But he should never have relayed that request to you, and put you in the position of either agreeing or being the one to break off negotiations. He should have told the pitters that wasn’t the deal, right up front. How he could think that putting you in such an awkward position would build up trust is absolutely beyond me.

  19. 24

    I thought that the idea of moderation was to ensure compliance with previously agreed-upon principles – not just to “represent your interests”.

    You’ll notice the “just” in that sentence is not in quotes. That’s because it had to be added to what I said to create the position Steersman tries to attribute to me here. I don’t know why he thinks ensuring compliance to the terms I agreed to when this dialog started is something other than representing my interests…but I don’t really care. It just demonstrates why I’m not interested in dialog. It isn’t dialog when they’re doing it, just smears.

    Unless you’re more into one sauce for the goose, and another for the gander ….

    Skep Sheik all but completely ignored the part of the terms in which agreement and disagreement with each point are supposed to be explicitly stated. Did I stop that post from going up exactly the way he wrote it? Did I even try? No. I just dealt with it in my response, continuing to move the dialog along as requested. But here we are, on Monday, still waiting for a post that should have gone up Saturday, because team “open debate” wants to change my response before anyone sees it rather than answer it after the fact.

  20. 25

    Unless you’re more into one sauce for the goose, and another for the gander …

    Heh. Bit trigger-happy, isn’t he? One would think they could hold back until was done. Exhibit A for Improbable Joe’s point above:

    Then however YOU respond will be seen as the “real” bad faith action and then they will claim victory? It just seems really really shady.

    @ Stephanie Zvan: Is this close to resolution, or are Nugent and the moderators planning to put up something indicating the reason for delay — or even that there is a delay?

  21. 26

    I’ll add:

    Considering it’s being discussed here and at the Slymepit, it really would help for the Dialogue site to at least acknowledge that this is happening.

    Now off to learn how to be a copy and paste clone who substitutes emotional drama for argument. Must chide Oolon for his “consequential poisoning of the well” while I’m at it. Oh, and you apparently have “some serious biases that [you] is unable to address”, according to Steersman, though at least he acknowledges you’re arguing in good faith, despite your “draconian and self-serving if not fraudulent moderation”, which is apparently destroying your credibility.

    I admit, it was worth a chuckle. Now for brain bleach.

  22. 27

    Can’t say that I’m surprised.

    Can’t say that I really care that much, either.

    The question is, when will you stop caring about gaining their approval?

  23. 30

    Stephanie: With all due respect, it is.

    The premise of this “dialog” is “how can we work together”. You can’t do that unless you gain their approval. Their approval is required in order that we work together. Without their approval, no working together is possible. Or, to come at it from their perspective, that you be allowed to work together with them without fear of bullying or harassment.

    It is the implicit goal, if not the explicit goal, of the entire process. Approval. That they deign to see you as someone who has value as a person, as an intellect, as a voice for atheism and skepticism and all the rest.

    I think we can see by this latest little move of theirs that they have none of that. They’re condescending to speak with you — and now that you’ve apparently “misspoken”, they’re going to “correct” you. Pat you on the head for “trying hard”. Before they start calling you names and flooding your e-mail in-box with threats.

    I don’t have the goal of “working together” with people whose opinions, intellect, maturity, and underlying intentions I do not respect. My goal is to separate myself from them. And to prevent them from doing harm to people who I do respect, if at all possible.

    I’ve said from the beginning this process was a mistake. Just now, they proved me correct.

    I think you’re a little blinkered right now, because you’ve invested a lot of time, effort, and emotional energy in this. Again, with respect, I think you need to ask yourself some fundamental questions:

    What do you think is the best possible outcome of this process? What is the likelihood that best possible outcome can be achieved, given the evidence you have before you right now? What is the most likely outcome, given the current evidence?

    They’re not going to “see reason” suddenly. That’s just not going to happen. They will not come around to the understanding that they’ve been behaving badly towards people they ought to be respecting and supporting.

    I said the other day that I wasn’t going to let myself get sucked into this. I’m sorry that it has again. I’ll try to do better in the future by ignoring your posts with the word “dialog” in the title.

  24. 32

    Kevin, my statement about how we can work toward common goals has no proposition in it that requires their approval. I realize that you don’t appreciate the process, but please don’t comment on it unless you’ve read it.

  25. 33

    Good to hear it has been resolved.

    PatrickG #25

    Bit trigger-happy, isn’t he?

    Exactly so; the comment in question was nothing short of insinuation. But from what I see, neither side lacks trigger-happy gunslingers (calling the moderator for the other team a “chickenshit hypocrite”, questioning Nugent’s good faith for no sensible reason, and on top of this the “conference bombing” imagery from the previous thread).

    To the people from both sides who read this: if I misjudge you, i.e. if you are not merely trigger-happy, but you are consciously trying to sabotage the dialogue, then it’s my mistake and apologies for interrupting. Please do continue.

  26. 34


    Must chide Oolon for his “consequential poisoning of the well” while I’m at it.

    Hehe, now I remember why I don’t bother reading t’pit any more, also why I need less brain bleach since avoiding it. They ain’t so good on the thinky side, if anyone wanted to poison the well they’ve been pissing in for years it would take a better “troll” than me to accomplish it 😛

  27. 35

    The situation has been resolved. My statement will not be edited. I’ll post when it goes up.

    Good to hear. Did they realize the massive irony in claiming to stand for free speech while demanding the censoring and editing of the other side’s statement?

    Or did Michael Nugent intervene to say that that wasn’t cricket?

    Either way, that they even tried is a bang-up job of shooting themselves in the foot.

  28. 36



    There is a difference between seeking someone’s approval wherein you seek for someone to have a certain, positive emotional/mental reaction to you, and seeking that someone not edit your comments without your permission before posting (“approving”) them.

    The words have different meanings in different contexts. When I ask someone to approve my posts, I am asking only that they allow my post to go through. When I ask someone to approve of my posts, I am asking them to react a certain way to my posts. These are not the same thing.

  29. 37

    @ Stephanie Zvan:

    Glad to hear it’s been wrapped up. Look forward to reading your response. Though I must say I’m finding the “building trust” phase to be somewhat … convoluted. The prose and structure is already worthy of entry into a judicial record somewhere, as you note in #10. I’m apprehensive that it’s going to need translation from the original Latin when Strand 2 begins.

    I guiltily confess I’m really looking forward to figuring out just what it was you said that was so obviously in violation of the moderation guidelines. To the point that a Defender of Free Speech didn’t want to allow you to say it! In the moderator’s opinion: did you directly insult them? Did you generalize? Did you derail? Given their lofty principles, you must have done something so objectively awful that all of FTB will wail and gnash their teeth in horror.

    Right? 🙂

  30. 38

    In defense of Kevin, I think there is a debatable point about engaging these folks. There’s an imperfectly defined line between giving despicable folks a platform to spread their bullshit and “don’t feed the trolls” style silencing.

    I remember when the science-philosophy faculties of the major universities in my Bible-belt state made an informal agreement to cease participating in debates on Evolution. They concluded that rather than being a force for aiding in education, the debate platforms – often set up by campus religious groups with the support of mega-churches – became a sales platform for the religious folks.

    By engaging in the debate they were giving the malicious views some appearance of legitimacy (this was right after an instance of the school board voting to allow “alternative theories” to be taught).

    On the other hand, there are plenty of circumstances where avoiding engagement just allows the assholes to carry on unopposed.

    My personal feeling on this debate is that Stephanie acquitted herself incredibly well and managed to show pretty conclusively that her position is well-thought out and a testament to the skeptical/scientific process, but if the goal is some “unified” skeptical community, it will fail.

    They really, really wanted this “grand dialog,” and they’ve, at best, made fools out of themselves. I’m curious how people are going to feel when we do this all over again in six months (after another six months of harassment and general jackass behavior).

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