Internet Odds and Ends for Thursday
The Wall Street Journal has an interesting piece on H. P. Lovecraft in honor of the publication of The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft, edited by Leslie S. Klinger with a foreword by Alan Moore. I haven’t read Annotated except for the introduction, which I did not find particularly insightful, drawing as it does primarily on Joshi’s work—which, for the trouble of reading a rewrite of Joshi, you might as well read the original. In the article, Klinger and Moore make the unusual case that the power of Lovecraftian fiction derives from Lovecraft’s fear-driven racism. “One need not adopt the racist views of HPL to agree with this conclusion, but we can understand how his sense of being threatened by the world around him led to these deeper feelings,” Klinger said.
Moore made a particularly good comparison between Lovecraft’s fiction and the current wave of anti-science like creationism and the New Age, which are irrational reactions against the discomfort produced by science: “the advances of science upon the certainties of religion would appear to have resulted in an upsurge of anti-scientific fundamentalism that makes Lovecraft’s new Dark Age seem at very least a worrying possibility.”
The piece is worth a read.
Less worthy of a read but nevertheless also interesting is a comment exchange on Amazon.com, where earlier this year Scott Wolter engaged Dr. Bryant Lister in a series of nasty comments over Lister’s review of Wolter’s Akhenaten to the Founding Fathers. Lister’s original review was a fairly typical negative Amazon rant, but it hit Wolter on his most sensitive issue, the one that he recently posted about on his blog, his lack of an advanced degree. “The arrogance of this ‘forensic geologist’ is startling considering his complete lack of credentials and higher education.” Naturally, Wolter couldn’t resist returning fire, and the exchanged continued for months, running from February to July.
I wasn’t aware of this since I don’t make it a habit to read Amazon.com book reviews, but I was shocked at the bitterness and unprofessionalism of Wolter’s responses: “Your comments Mr. Lister, are frankly, pathetic. […] I don’t believe you’ve read either book as you made no reference to anything specific and only made general negative comments that qualify as personal rants.” Lister, however, is no angel and repeatedly insulted Wolter’s intelligence during their exchange.
One of Wolter’s comments was deleted by Amazon, but to judge by Lister’s response, in it Wolter claimed that he took a pay cut to star on America Unearthed and therefore is exempt from the charge that he is promoting conspiracies for money. However, rather than make a reasoned argument, Wolter continued down the path of personal insult: “You’re (sic) mind is so closed you wouldn't know what the Holy Grail was if She bit you in the rear end.” Even in an insult, Wolter reveals his deeply held belief that the Grail is Mary Magdalene herself.
In response to now-deleted comments by another poster that apparently referenced my work evaluating Wolter’s claims, Wolter replied: “Covalito (sic) is a debunker and I do not take him seriously.” The riposte was good enough to quote at length:
I have no affiliation in any way with Jason Colavito, other than posting a few times on his blog several months back. However, I would clarify what he does by stating that he debunks your theories by supplying missing facts and providing accurate facts to replace your inaccurate and incorrect assertions. So basically, you’re saying that you do not take the facts and the truth seriously. Yes, we've seen that on your show many times.
If I may give Wolter some unsolicited advice: Don’t reply to book reviews. There is no good that can come of it. It only makes an author look vengeful and petty.
But that’s part for the course for Scott Wolter, who steadfastly refuses to recognize that he has a public face that ought to at least try for professionalism. Consider this comment posted on his blog just a few days ago. A commenter used some slightly intemperate language in asking Wolter to “act like” a scientist, and this is how Wolter replied:
…what do you know about being a scientist? Sounds to me like you’re a little too judgmental and probably don't understand the scientific process as well as you think. I’m just saying...
It seems to me that the most popular fringe figures tend to be the ones who put on a sunny face and ignore criticism, but that probably isn’t true. Mike Bara is much ruder and often more insulting, and he also managed to get a TV show. On September 22, for example, Bara called Neil deGrasse Tyson a “science choad,” referring to a derogatory term for a malformed penis.
But Bara and Wolter aren’t the only people lashing out against their critics. So is Kathleen McGowan (a.k.a. Kathleen McGowan-Coppens), who has a beef with a British esoteric author who leveled criticisms against her as well as her hair color. (How would her hair be relevant to anything?) She, too, shares the wit and rhetorical eloquence and elegance of her fringe history peers: “What I am intolerant of are idiots who post stupid crap on my Facebook page.” I don’t care much about her online drama, but as Matt Mc pointed out in comments on one of my earlier blog posts today, McGowan reaffirmed her alleged connection to Mary Magdalene in that same blog post: “I ‘claim to be a descendant of Mary Magdalene.’ - TRUE. I do and I am. Period. Read my books and find out how and why I know this.” Like most fringe writers, she has multiple websites and blogs in different locations; this post was on her Divine Feminine blog, not her main self-titled website. It makes it hard to track.
But there you have it, in her own words. McGowan claims to be of the Holy Bloodline of Jesus, which therefore makes her the perfect subject for Scott Wolter to DNA test and match to all those Native Americans he says share her magic Jesus blood. Fat chance of that ever happening. But she does share red hair with the cannibal Nephilim and vouchsafes that it is her natural color, so call L. A. Marzulli!
This final bit is not directly relevant to the above discussion, but it made me laugh. Have you seen Jason Martell’s new website? Martell seems to be trying to appeal multiple audiences at once, and I don’t think it’s effective. He’s promoting his web technology business, his line of self-published books, and his “Ancient School” video lessons on a page designed like a dating profile. The tagline confused me both for its misplaced comma and its complete lack of sense: “The resistance to a new idea, is increased by the square root of its importance.”
Like many of Martell’s claims, the more you think about it, the less it means. If you can tell me what it’s supposed to mean, please let me know.
An Over-Educated Grunt
10/16/2014 06:28:24 am
Sounds like Scott Wolter PG would do well to remember two things: what the P in PG stands for, and Theodore Roosevelt's advice about critics. In science, "it's not the critic who counts" isn't completely true, but he's not a scientist, and as a self-described Manly Man College Ball Player Action Geologist, he's far too thin-skinned for his own good. He'd be better-off looking at Tyson's response to "science choad," which, far as I know, is to ignore the buzzing flies.
10/16/2014 06:35:10 am
"Manly Man College Ball Player Action Geologist"
Duke of URL
10/17/2014 05:11:08 am
OK, I give up. What DOES his "PG" mean? I found some possibilities, but...
An Over-Educated Grunt
10/17/2014 05:31:28 am
Professional Geologist. It says that the State of Minnesota has found him at least minimally competent to practice the profession of geology by a combination of experience, references from practicing geologists, and examination. Engineers are pretty similar. Architects too, but their licensure test is crazy and the rewards just aren't worth it.
10/16/2014 06:32:11 am
"the current wave of anti-science like creationism and the New Age, which are irrational reactions against the discomfort produced by science"
10/16/2014 08:26:55 am
Just realized that I made a stupid error in my own smug math joke. The funciton would still be upward monotonic of course! :)
10/16/2014 07:50:38 am
"Klinger..."He (Lovecraft) supported the eugenics movement in America".
10/16/2014 08:20:42 am
The closest I know of was in a letter where he wrote of certain racial minorities,
10/16/2014 08:21:59 am
I'm sorry, to clarify, that last post was about Lovecraft and his views on eugenics.
10/17/2014 05:13:09 am
Shadow over Innsmuth had the resident fish hybrids exterminated in government camps and was very clearly tinged with eugenics.
10/16/2014 09:11:38 am
I'm sure that's what he was trying to say. Either version is an unsupportable generalization, however.
10/16/2014 01:44:25 pm
I believe what he was trying to convey is:
10/16/2014 02:37:00 pm
He should have added "multiplied by the square root of -1" since all he writes about is imaginary.
10/16/2014 02:41:52 pm
Ha! That was a funny math joke.
10/16/2014 03:34:28 pm
You didn't like mine? :(
The Other J.
10/16/2014 05:34:40 pm
If Martell only pretends, to an understanding of, calculus and syntax in his tagline, how can you expect us to in your joke? We were told there would, be no math nor, grammar.
10/16/2014 06:43:41 pm
He's also completely *irrational*, and his ignorance is *transcendental*.
The Other J.
10/18/2014 06:58:56 am
I wish I knew a good mathematical text-based emoji.
10/16/2014 09:53:56 am
oh boy..the debate on academic credentials. This is a hard one. My experience in physics and economics gave me an appreciation of a Masters level as incremental worth over a BS but not a PhD. Obviously the years in the "lab' and experience do count a great deal. I once listened to a debate when I was a grad student at Georgia Tech between an MS student and a Prof in the field of Operations Management. The student had worked for years setting up factories while the Prof taught how but never did...in that case the student was more credible. But I could see a BA in Geology not really getting the physics behind plate tectonics versus a PhD in GeoPhysics. Same for dating techniques..a BA might give you enough to calculate the dates while a PhD and experience would tell you when the dates are wrong.
10/16/2014 10:03:23 am
I completely agree. This is particularly true in the technical fields, I suspect, where graduate training of some sort is needed to perform even quite menial work.
10/16/2014 10:37:32 am
Anyone who claims to be of the Holy Bloodline of Jesus Christ is either after money, or extremely insane. Follow the money. Are these people making money of claiming to be the ultimate in royalty, as the guy in France hoaxed long ago, the one the based the da vinci code and holy blood, holy grail on. They can't claim to be actual royalty anymore, so why not claim to be descended from Jesus? It doesn't matter that the Bible said nothing of any children from Jesus. If it happened, it would have been somewhere, even in the hidden texts. No, these people are pathological and out for money, duping people into buying into their hogwash.
10/16/2014 12:19:44 pm
It's hard to tell if Wolter (judging by his inability to not snip back at critics) is just deeply insecure or has something of a persecution complex.
Geezis H. Kerist
10/16/2014 03:03:11 pm
I've come back (temporarily) to clear up a few things.
10/18/2014 06:10:09 am
"1. Being omniscient, I knew that marrying and fathering children was to be avoided."
The Other J.
10/16/2014 05:45:07 pm
Martell works at the hypotenuse of the importance of an idea squared plus the resistance to that idea squared. Fractally.
10/17/2014 03:17:29 pm
Worse than Martell's cryptic tagline, is his bio. If you skipped it, go back and read it. It is a "masterpiece" of grammar, two mistakes in the first sentence alone. It's also full of lots and lots of big long words, the kind of words smart people might use. Just sayin' ... If you are selling your intellect and technology, for god sakes proof-read!!! Or please do not call yourself an "instructor" of an ancient "school"
10/18/2014 03:48:49 pm
Once he was a man. Now, he is a "lecture"!
10/18/2014 06:48:27 pm
Ha! A lecture!
10/18/2014 09:36:42 pm
Philip, I hope your Saturday night was as fun and intoxicating as your last post suggests :P
10/19/2014 04:05:12 pm
EP, I have to be honest, my night was not intoxicating at all, but yes, you made it fun with "Now, he is a lecture!" I had a great laugh at that line!
12/15/2014 03:35:48 pm
Jason, must have missed this posting a couple months ago. It's true that I'm no angel, and hit back at Wolter with some low blows. Your representation of the comment exchange was spot on. The hilarious part is that he is still responding to comments on the Amazon.com thread I started with my review of his book. It's great comic relief for me.
1/1/2015 10:13:35 am
Mister B. Lister --- do you prefer ad Hominem attacks or do you feel
1/25/2015 01:23:59 pm
It's Dr. Bryant Lister, not Mister. Obviously, accuracy is not something you are concerned with, but nice try.
1/25/2015 08:11:26 am
In the case of McGowan hair color is significant,so, it was criticized as not natural. She seems to make a very big deal of being a redhead. It is the color of Mary Magdalene's hair, supposedly. This is why you also see so many "redheads" among visitors to Rennes le Chateau.
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