Sycophant or Free Thinker?

Over at John Loftus’s Debunking Christianity blog, he’s got a recent post about whether P.Z. Myers is a demagogue, an opportunist or a principled man.

It’s very interesting, because John (who’s blog I read) claims that P.Z. (who’s blog I also read) is an opportunist and states that P.Z. should have fact-checked an anonymous allegation of rape made against Michael Shermer by contacting Shermer to see if it was true (although why John would be naive enough to think that anyone would tell the truth under those circumstances and admit that they’ve committed a crime, much less a sexual crime, is beyond me).

John presents an allegation of the same sort when he fails to fact-check an anonymous source stating that P.Z. received substantial advance money for his recent book. (And, yes, I am aware that allegations of rape and allegations of lots of money aren’t similiar, I’m simply pointing out that anonymous sources have made claims that have not been fact-checked).

So what does that have to do with this topic: sycophant or free thinker?

Simply reading the comments to both posts (John’s and P.Z.’s post on Shermer) and see what you get.

Which prompted my comment to John:

John’s side:

John failed to fact-check with P.Z. about his book advance that an anonymous person claims is $$$$ and accuses P.Z. of being an opportunist.

I like, much less say I agree with, P.Z. and I’m a sycophant.

I like, much less say I agree with, John and I’m a freethinker.

P.Z.’s side:

P.Z. failed to fact-check with Shermer about a rape that an anonymous person claims occurred and accuses Shermer of being a rapist.

I like, much less say I agree with, P.Z. and I’m a freethinker.

I like, much less say I agree with, John and I’m a sycophant.

Wow, can’t win for trying.

How to get past this?

When someone calls you a sycophant, it’s an Ad Hom attack to discredit you.

They’re questioning your motives and integrity.

They’re casually dismissing you without addressing any point you may have made.

And they’re questioning your intelligence and your ability to reason.

What to do about it?

You could fight back, and often that is a good choice.

Some internet fights are worthy fights.

Some internet fights are not.

So you can stop tilting at e-windmills. Shut off your computer and go outside. Have an ice cream cone. Enjoy your life. Ignore the blogosphere. Take a cartooning class. Write a book. Learn to play a ukelele. Do something fun.

Because it will always seem that someone on the internet is wrong. And, quite frankly, let someone else be Don Quixote for today.