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.
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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