If you’ve been following my Twitter feed or have been reading the comments on my various blog posts, you’ll know that I’ve recently received a great deal of criticism for being too rude to alternative history speculators. According to several alternative authors and their supporters, it is wrong of me to describe the authors or alternative theories in non-neutral language, an apparent prerequisite for participating in “honest” (read: ineffective) criticism. To be honest, I didn’t think I was particularly rude to alternative theorists given what they routinely say about mainstream scientists, archaeologists and historians, though I do in fact use some non-neutral language from time to time.
I do that because the alternative authors themselves are decidedly non-neutral. Aside from their standard accusations against the evilness of skeptics and academics in general, they also, as a rule, tend to boil over with upset and vitriol whenever their speculations are challenged, no matter how politely. Erich von Däniken, after all, said that alternative speculators were in “a war we have to win” with skeptics and academics, and Graham Hancock claimed that he had no obligation to be fair or neutral and that he could and would use “innuendo and anything else that works” to blast skeptics and academics out of the water.
Against this, these alternative writers want to restrict skeptics like me to levels of polite formality that would inspire guffaws from even Victorian aristocrats. Of course, doing so means that criticism would be ineffective and would also create a false dichotomy whereby alternative ideas are granted prima facie equivalency with science. While they can use innuendo, rhetorical questions, fabrications, and ad hominem attacks, I’m supposed to pretend that they are dispassionate researchers with special access to truth who must be handled like visiting dignitaries.
Well, I don’t pretend. If I occasionally use less than polite language, take a gander what they have said about me; and I am not even among their greatest enemies. I’m not sure you can say my criticisms are any harsher than those offered by alternative writers themselves. I’ve restricted the following collection only to messages from published alternative speculators, or those who have appeared on television, speaking about how much they don’t like me. What they have said about more famous skeptics and scientists is very much worse.
Just the fact that you so desperately attempt to dismantle our theory proves that we are on the right track. Otherwise you would not feel so threatened by our theories! ... I will certainly not forward your questions to Erich [von Däniken], and his secretary has already been informed about your malevolent intentions.
And that’s just what the public figures say. Among their readers and viewers, the reaction is so very much worse. I’ve received a couple of death threats and absolutely sick psychosexual craziness. The following example is a pretty standard reaction (one of dozens of examples) from an alternative supporter. I have reason to believe this particular message may even have been sent directly by or on behalf of Sean David Morton shortly after I exposed his fake PhD:
Hey mother fucking Jason asshole... do not criticize other person's ideas & their proficiency. You said about Morton’s education background. […] You sunner da mother fucking asshole, listen to this... any person can gives their ideas about anything , as we seen in Ancient aliens T.V. series.. but mother fuckers like you do only criticize their ideas. Immediately close your website bitch.. and fuck ur MOM…& DAD and rube ur peeeenesss hey hey...
Yup, I’m the one who’s beyond the pale in my outrageous rudeness. But, why limit ourselves to just me? If you’d like to share your favorite ad hominem attack from an alternative theorist, please feel free to do so in the comments. If I get enough of them, I will put together a special page contrasting their rhetoric about dispassionate inquiry with their nasty attacks.
4/10/2013 04:14:18 am
4/10/2013 04:23:21 am
4/10/2013 06:15:21 am
Tritto - charlatans and nutters. I feel for the mental cases, but really no rude language is too rude for these types.
12/29/2014 12:42:55 pm
Quatro! (hehe get it?)
4/10/2013 03:17:49 pm
4/12/2013 08:23:06 am
Ah, yes Jason. You have a heavy cross to bear. But before you feel too sorry for yourself, remember - it's your website, your words, and your invented controversy.
4/12/2013 09:08:14 am
I was just using messages directed at me as an example. Giorgio Tsoukalos, Graham Hancock, Scott Wolter, and others have said much worse, and more vehemently, about other skeptics. As the instigators of "alternative" history, they are the ones generating "controversy" by claiming that academia is in a conspiracy to suppress the truth, which, for a fee, they will provide.
4/10/2013 04:38:36 am
It would seem that most of these guys put the same amount of study into the English language as they do into actual history and research.
4/10/2013 06:27:27 am
I had noticed that too.
4/10/2013 04:50:56 am
Thanks for good laughter .Those quotes are priceless. It reflects how society has been domb down.
4/10/2013 04:53:39 am
Don't you just love the self-supporting affirmations of "if you hate our ideas, we're on to something"? What we skeptics dislike is the usurpation of legitimate science in favor of myth.
The Other J.
4/10/2013 06:57:53 am
"Just the fact that you so desperately attempt to dismantle our theory proves that we are on the right track."
The Other J.
4/10/2013 07:08:38 am
The other day I said in a comment that ridicule of bad alternative ideas might be better done through satire.
4/10/2013 09:24:52 am
The hypocrisy of alternative theorists criticizing you for utilizing allegedly non-neutral comments is simply humorous; just look at the tone Walter takes in AU and how much he curses when speaking of mainstream scientists and academics, hardly that of a respectful professional. Regardless, if people like you didn't take such an aggressive stance against alternate theorists (who are equally aggressive, and more often than not much more so), kids are going to grow up simply assuming the veracity of absurd ideas like there being 'giants in Minnesota'...
4/10/2013 09:51:32 am
4/10/2013 03:53:54 pm
When Is It OK to Insult an Alternative Idea?
4/10/2013 08:54:39 pm
I'll proudly say what I think: those "alternative" people are bloody morons; fakes; charlatans; liars; cheats; disreputable thieves and worse. I loathe them, I hate them, I despise them utterly for what they are doing and what they have done. They disseminate countless "repackaged" anti-semitic lies, anti-scientific lies, anti-historical and anti-factual lies. They dumb down the entire population day after day with their miserable bullshit. And to reiterate what Hitchens said about Falwell: if you gave them an enema, you could bury them in a matchbox.
4/10/2013 08:56:37 pm
Alright, maybe not literally. It was poetic license. =)
4/10/2013 11:38:26 pm
Kafkaesque situation, Jason. I have been critical of you for being too nice,It is actually pretty hilarious to witness the snake oil peddlers, the New Agers & the related cohort of intellectual midgets,accusing you of being vitriolic.We should send all these charlatans & their supporters into reeducation camps.
4/11/2013 12:49:53 am
I always wanted to see Deepak Chopra, or some of his followers, getting brutally mugged. Then, I'd remind them that they "made their own reality" with their "quantum thinking", so why should they complain? =D
4/11/2013 02:28:01 am
4/11/2013 05:35:25 am
“Then, I'd remind them that they "made their own reality" with their "quantum thinking",”
4/11/2013 04:08:18 am
I would say that as soon as whoever is proposing the idea stops actually investigating their idea and starts acting like the non critical thinking....it's ok to start ridiculing the idea.
4/12/2013 05:18:52 am
A great point Cathleen.
4/11/2013 10:22:16 am
Do threats to the destination of my purportedly immortal soul count? I've gotten RIDICULOUS numbers of those for correcting the inaccuracies in street preachers' messages. ESPECIALLY those where they're misquoting parts of the Bible and I correct 'em, for some reason.
4/11/2013 12:46:37 pm
Nobody likes to be "fronted off," but sometimes it needs to be done for the simple truth, if nothing else, when actual harm is being done.
4/11/2013 04:53:44 pm
4/14/2013 01:55:38 am
It was these kinds of comments that recently shut down this discussion on the TED website one week early.
I help admin an Egyptology group on Facebook. We took in a person who then started on about 'alternative' pyramid-building theories (as does happen on a regular basis!).
4/14/2013 03:06:30 am
Funny how someone has no capacity to "think" if they don't have a list of degrees in a certain field. Fortunately, with my little untrained brain, I still have the ability to click the button and "change the channel." Bye bye history channel.
4/14/2013 10:55:26 pm
I really like the last communication you quoted ... the one about Sean David Morton. Problem is ... it's hard to figure out what he's saying, other than just trying his best to be vulgar. Does the guy not speak English.
4/15/2013 03:51:40 am
Note to Scott Wolter: I have been in the sciences for 40 years, and in my case, I listen to theories with an open mind. Fear and religion have never crossed my mind until you brought it up. What I do have a problem with is your interpretationGood Scientific Practice.
4/16/2013 09:22:42 am
Here is an interesting article I came across
4/16/2013 12:58:36 pm
That's one reason I try to be very careful when criticizing these alternative speculators. Even though they need to show "actual malice" since they are public figures, critics still need to be careful to avoid saying anything that can't be defended with facts. I can't say whether Zias acted with "actual malice," but he probably didn't have the evidence to support the claim that Jacobovici forged artifacts himself. He should have stuck to complaining that Jacobovici was fabricating historical narratives on shoddy grounds.
10/31/2013 11:52:52 am
I think this thread is great illustration of a sad reality: our own intolerance. Regardless of a person's point of view, why is it necessary to resort to personal and malicious attacks? An opposing opinion doesn't threaten a person's theory, if they are steadfast in their beliefs. It doesn't make their theory less plausible, unless the criticism points out holes and indiscrepancies - in which case, shouldn't that just be invitation, or even challenge, to do more research and investigation?
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I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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