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The Dick Delusion

Posted in Pharyngula by Skepdude on July 20, 2010


I’ve been getting slapped upside the head with this “dick” meme that’s roaring through the skeptic community lately, largely because it seems that any time someone makes a generic criticism of rude, abrasive, confrontational critics of foolishness, the audience all thinks of the life-size poster of PZ Myers they’ve got hanging on their bedroom door back home. It’s a little annoying. Everybody seems to imagine that if Granny says “Bless you!” after I sneeze, I punch her in the nose, and they’re all busy dichotomizing the skeptical community into the nice, helpful, sweet people who don’t rock the boat and the awful, horrible, bastards in hobnailed boots who stomp on small children in Sunday school. It’s just not right.

Of course, there’s a range of criticism, too. I think Rebecca Watson is hitting the problem about right: it’s about picking your battles, and making a scene over trivial customs practiced with charitable intent is not a good idea. So, really, I don’t have to punch Granny in the nose—I can just say “thank you!”, and that’s fine. But when Granny tells you to get down on your knees and praise Jesus right now or you’re going to burn for eternity in a lake of hellfire, then some dickishness is not only justified, it’s necessary.

The thing is, the dickishness practiced is not nose-punching, it’s not even howling four-letter words at Granny…it’s a flat statement of “That’s crazy, I’m not going to do that, and here’s why.” That, apparently, is the New Dickishness.


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