My Blog Gets Me In Trouble (Again).

After I chided Kolja about being passive-aggressive, Kolja pointed out that doing so on a blog is also passive-aggressive, and he’s absolutely right. Everything else aside, please consider this an open apology for that impropriety. There’s something about the internet (the anonymity perhaps?) that manages to squeeze the graciousness out of an otherwise good argument. I also fault myself for setting an unkind tone with the post in the first place. I do think it’s an argument that needs to continue, but maybe not here and maybe not now.

24 Replies to “My Blog Gets Me In Trouble (Again).”

  1. Frankly, I don’t think you need to apologize for anything. If Kolja wants to address controversial issues Kolja may encounter differing opinions while doing so. The second they expressed them to you or anyone else they open themselves up to reasoned inquiry. Any response is not your doing nor did you ‘allow’ it. Regardless of the forum, if a person shares an opinion that may be in ‘error’, then that person cannot expect immunity from sensible, measured questioning.

    One tenant of being a skeptic is trying to avoid personal attacks on those you may disagree with (obviously). I feel that was avoided on Puck’s and my part. Therefore Kolja’s opinions were addressed in a civil manner, without prejudice. I don’t think what we said or asked constituted an attack of any kind.

    I’m not very good at confrontations but the more I learn of pseudo-science and conspiracy theory, the more I feel that believers have to be called on their ideas. As Puck said passiveness is not what is needed. Perhaps ‘tenacity’ is what is a better word than ‘aggression’ when confronting misconception, although I dislike semantics.

    If people stand on a stage, even yours, they have to expect tomatoes. If they want to avoid discussion then restraint of opinion is the only option.

  2. Don’t worry Puck, when you start getting aggressive, I’ll let you know. And don’t worry, I’ll be delicate when you cross that line. I wouldn’t want you to scream “personal attack” and make Toren stop the car again. There-there. You have my word, okay?


    You speak of psuedo-science. What? Are you actually getting your hands dirty in this conversation? Okay then. I’m proud of you too. Psychoanalysis was definitely not your strength.

    First of all, it seems that we can all agree on something. Like I told Toren on the phone last night, there was no need for a public apology. It wasn’t that big of deal to warrant a post. Try talking him out of it though. He wouldn’t budge.

    Now, back to pseudo-science. Very exciting. Okay, what pseudo science have I argued? What? I haven’t argued any pseudo-science at all? But wait, what about all that talk about my skepticism being fueled by sending video signals across 384,000 kilometers of space? Oh right, I was only asking how that was possible. So right, pseudo-science. Hey, it looks like I’m not even in that camp.


    Funny how people can argue against what they think you are saying (or heck, even what they want you to be saying). It lets them rant against what essentially becomes “the curb”. Good luck with that. 🙂

  3. Firstly, I wasn’t directing my examples at you, kolja. That was my fault for not being clear. I meant people with weird beliefs in general should not expect to have their opinions go unchallenged. If you felt targeted specifically, that was not my intent.

    Also your implications of my ‘getting my hands dirty’ is an ad hominem attack of sorts. You question my motives and methods rather than the substance of my arguments.

    To reiterate Puck’s question, you have still not answered his question as to what proof would you accept regarding the Moon Landing. If you feel you cannot even consider answering a direct question, why engage in the debate in the first place? Desembling and dodging the question is not debate. You continue to push the onus on Puck and I rather than make some clear statements about what you really think and your rational behind such thoughts.

    Give us a (or the world) a clear argument and it will be answered fairly without bias or prejudice.

  4. I think the use of pseudo science came up because you’ve presented something as the basis of your skepticism around the moon landing, but you haven’t presented anything evidential or even expanded on why the video perplexes you.

    As for how they sent video between the moon and the Earth – several big radio telescopes working together to gather. The Australian Parkes Observatory has a really good site covering their involvement and all the steps involved in the process of getting video into livingrooms.

    The blurriness you mention was from having to nearly double the scan lines and triple the frames per second. Which means the source video is actually clearer than what we’re familiar with (and if I understand correctly, that only reinforces your skepticism, which I’m afraid I still don’t entirely understand.)

  5. sidswoorch,

    If you hadn’t spent an entire post attempting to profile me instead of discussing the subject at hand, I wouldn’t have gotten the impression that you were trying to derail the conversation instead of discussing it. Getting your hands dirty was a reference to that. You then bowed out of that thread when I offered to bring it back on track. That’s when Puck screamed personal insults and Toren stepped in and apologized when it really wasn’t necessary. Indeed, Toren “is” that kind of guy.

    Okay, both you and Puck have now reiterated the same question, which is no less limited in scope than it was when first asked. The fact is I neither believe they landed on the moon, nor am I convinced they didn’t. (Brace yourself Puck.) I’m undecided, but skeptical. I know, I know, how frustrating! No, I’m not moving goal posts. That’s simply my take on the moon landing, whether either of you like it or not. The question (“What would it take to convince you?”) is moot. I am not convinced one way or the other.

    First of all, and this is something that neither of you has grasped, I am skeptical of the moon landing “footage”. I’m willing to look at the possibility that NASA landed men on the moon, but had difficulties receiving images, making a fabrication necessary to create the appearance of a successful mission. I’ll be honest through. I don’t take that possibility very seriously. If NASA did replicate moon landing footage, then it would be a lot more cost effective to do so if the end goal was to strictly save face.

    MythBusters made a great show of claiming to prove that NASA put men on the moon, but in reality, all they did was demonstrate (using props) that some of the hoax claims “could have” taken place on the moon. That by no means conversely proved that the footage was not replicated on Earth. It will, however, satisfy most people’s curiosity; especially those who are emotionally invested in the moon landing. (It is a cornerstone of the American cultural identity after all.)

    So what about the footage causes me to be skeptical? That’s a question I can answer. Once again, if you are going to replicate something big, your mistakes probably won’t be with the obvious details, but the small ones.

    There are images taken at different times and places with backgrounds and even smaller details (like rocks) that overlap perfectly. Yes, some of these can be explained with parallax, but some cannot. They are simply attributed to accidental categorization. Indeed, NASA seems to misplace a lot of things. More on that later.

    There are shots of illuminated astronauts immersed in shadow, some of which are explained by the reflective surface of the moon (roughly equal to asphalt), but other images raise my curiosity; especially when rocks beside the astronaut have no such illumination, despite being closer to the reflective surface.

    There are really good explanations for why stars do not show up in any pictures. It has to do with fast exposures set to photograph the sun lit astronauts. Fine, but this begs a question for me. Are there any pictures in which the exposure was deliberately set to photograph the stars? Don’t get me wrong, the absence of such pictures proves nothing, but after six visits to the moon, didn’t anybody take even one picture of the stars from the surface? Perhaps they did. If somebody could link to such pictures, I would be much obliged.

    While this next point departs from skepticism and enters the realm of suspicion, I am curious to know what happened to the original NASA footage of the moon landing (the same footage that castewar mentioned in his post). I would think that such footage would be exceedingly useful and educational. Instead, it was misplaced and lost. Apparently those recordings were far superior to the televised version. Both Moon Hoaxers and Moon Believers alike would like to view this footage (for different reasons of course). Has it been recovered yet? Is it being shared with the public? I know that NASA supposedly mounted a search through their archives. Perhaps it was found and I simply missed that news?

    Here’s another genuine question. Have the schematics for the lunar module, moon rover, or any other pieces of equipment used on the moon been made available to the public after all these decades? By schematics, I don’t mean image blueprints, but detailed manuals for how the equipment worked and was constructed (including materials that were used). That equipment is long out of date now, having been trumped by several generations of modern technology. As such, making such schematics public would no longer pose a threat to national security. Can they be found anywhere?

    Right then, what proof would convince me that NASA landed astronauts on the moon? Well, I certainly won’t accept the word of the same people whose evidence and changing facts made me skeptical in the first place. That doesn’t mean I won’t be riveted by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. I’ll watch with invested interest. Maybe if another nation sent the orbiter and controlled the images … you know, like Russia. Just kidding! I’ll settle for China. I think they’re closer to getting there anyhow. :p

    Come on! Laugh. I certainly am. Okay, you don’t have to laugh. I’ve asked a lot questions. If you know even what “might” be the answer, I’ll hear it out with an open mind. I know, there it is again, exposed brain and all. 😀

  6. Awww sidswoorch, you were off to such a great start! No matter. At least you can stop wondering why my opinion of you remains unchanged. Some people scratch the surface of things; other people get their hands dirty. Think of this as an epiphany. You have found a limit, after which all that lay beyond must be hocus-pocus gobbledegook. Whatever it takes to keep that universe tidy and well ordered. 😉

    This is not meant to be taken offensively sidswoorch. I honestly mean you the best.

  7. As cyber-dramatic as this is, I’m enjoying the real thoughts and discussion that is leaking through the bluster. Thus I will continue…

    Chris said:
    “I don’t think you need to apologize for anything. If Kolja wants to address controversial issues Kolja may encounter differing opinions while doing so. The second they expressed them to you or anyone else they open themselves up to reasoned inquiry.”

    Make no mistake, I’m not apologizing for criticizing his statements, I’m apologizing for being hypocritical/passive aggressive.

    “One tenant of being a skeptic is trying to avoid personal attacks on those you may disagree with (obviously). I feel that was avoided on Puck’s and my part. Therefore Kolja’s opinions were addressed in a civil manner, without prejudice. I don’t think what we said or asked constituted an attack of any kind.”

    Chris, I agree. The issue Kolja takes (I *think* — his responses are generally very elusive/circuitous so it’s easy for meaning to be clouded) is that a broader stance, or perhaps a context, for his ideas was misinterpreted or incomplete.
    “You’re stupid” can be construed as an attack. “Your logic is flawed and your information is innaccurate” can’t. Or shouldn’t, anyway.

    “There-there.” “I’m proud of you too.” “Very exciting.”
    Kolja, these are not conducive to a civil/forthright discussion. Now this is not by any means but if you’re wondering where I’m coming from, these are the sort of bits I’m having trouble with. In my opinion the disingenuousness undermines your position and turns a debate into a catfight. To be fair Joe has come close himself once or twice.

    Chris (sid) said: “I wasn’t directing my examples at you, kolja. That was my fault for not being clear. I meant people with weird beliefs in general should not expect to have their opinions go unchallenged. If you felt targeted specifically, that was not my intent.”
    Kolja you’ll recall on our phone conversation shortly after the original post comment thread went up that I was sure that Chris’ post was not an attack on you personally.

    You may not trust Chris’ word directly since to you he’s an anonymous net-face, but I hope that you will trust me when I vouch for him. You know that I have certain ethical standards about lying – I would rather be seen as an arrogant asshole who speaks the truth than as a smiley-faced liar. This is a trait I value in my friends as well. That’s a whole other blog post.

    If Chris didn’t in your opinion get his “hands dirty” as you put it, it’s not because he’s a coward, or he gets his jollies out of derailing discussions. I expect that he actually doesn’t care about the nitty-gritties of your theories – it is the entire issue of skepticism, conspiracy theorists, and evolutionary psychology that he is addressing — which is by no means off-topic — and it’s my impression that it’s these broader questions Chris mentions that will call up more and better answers to the issue of pseudo-science etc than nitpicking over photographic minutia. The latter is scratching the surface, as you say – not the former. Epiphany smepiphany (if I may).

    I really enjoyed and valued your long comment about what you actually think and believe – this is the meat we were craving!

    I watched the Mythbusters episode. I had big problems with it myself, and I’ll tell you why. They picked arguments from the hoaxer side of things that were, frankly, lame. They didn’t really address the broad picture–the real issues–and they didn’t really pin much down. I agree with you when you say “all they did was demonstrate (using props) that some of the hoax claims “could have” taken place on the moon.” It was by no means conclusive, definitive proof. The only task they mentioned that really impressed me was the laser reflector deal. Honestly I’m not really put out by this since Mythbusters is incredibly fluffy for an “educational” show – I don’t expect much from it.

    As an artist, I look at a lot of photographs closely, and try my best to replicate them in pencil, ink etc. And I think any photographer will tell you, with a large enough set of images, YOU WILL GET ONES THAT LOOK ANOMALOUS. There are so many random factors of light and position and speed and technical bits that make some 100% real photographs look fake. I think the same can be said to some extent for video, even. If you take one out of thousands of photos and say – this here photo looks fake so i won’t accept any from the lot, that’s a real leap in logic.

    lastly, I’m no expert, but it seems perfectly reasonable to me that a big government bureaucracy would lose important data/footage. We hear about it in the news often enough and I’m sure it happens more than it’s reported in the news! Bureaucracies are, after all, composed of human beings, and it only takes one to screw up a system.

  8. Kolja, you said:

    “The question (“What would it take to convince you?”) is moot. I am not convinced one way or the other.”

    I think once again you have not only dodged the question you have totally exposed your own position with that statement. You have invoked ‘skepticism’, neutrality and lack of vested interest as a shield to further dance around the subject.

    Your lack of position robs you of a thesis upon which to build a compelling debate.

    Therefore you do not even present an actual argument to counter.

    Instead you throw out ‘questionable’ facts at random and then turn legitimate questions back on us with a shrug or an irrelevant personal jibe. Your position is not really position in the first place. It is only a list of questions without direction or goal.

    I am fully convinced the Moon landings really happened on the basis of multiple strands of compelling evidence. Yeah, I find it inspiring so I have a vested and biased interest in it being true. Biases aside I still feel that the facts support it. I would love it if there is a heaven but I have no proof.

    I would appreciate a further clarification of what you hope to gain by raising such question and what your ultimate goal is.

    I argue on the side of rationalism and skepticism because the human race has so much to gain through critical thinking, i.e. medicine and the understanding of human motivations in order to downplay our less virtuous tendencies, to name just a few.

    I argue against superstition and ignorance because it foments so much that keeps humanity shackled, genocide, inability to empathize, rejection of viable modalities in favor of better health i.e. holistic healing, vaccination denial. Yes it sounds like a Hallmark card I admit. Again, in saying this I point no finger at you I state only my position in regard to the world.

    Those are my positions and that is why I try argue against anything that defies sensibility.

    Please keep in mind that I say none of this with malice. I enjoy the challenge of being able to hone my own argumentative skills. I’m sure my arguments regarding the moon landings, the reason people believe in conspiracies and my own stance on what constitutes an argument have flaws that I have not yet seen. That’s how I like to learn. I am also happy to laugh at things too.

    Look at all the real conspiracy theories too. They makes for much more interesting and fruitful inquiry. The tobacco industries denial of health effects for istance. That is a REAL, GENUINE conspiracy that is provable and OUT IN THE OPEN. Many court cases have been fought for or against and there are many documents online and books published to support the facts. Still they continue to deny.

    That is one example where the truth definitely needs a little help.

    I admit even I have gotten off topic this time but there you go. Thanks for the back and forth Kolja. It has helped me define my own positions on things and for that I thank you. Kudos to you for helping me.



  9. sidswoorch,

    It appears you have made a fundamental gaff, and this gets back to what I was saying earlier about how people see arguments where none exist (so that they can argue against them). I have never purported to be anything other than “skeptically neutral”. That was and continues to be my stance.

    In fact, it precisely because I am skeptically neutral of the moon landing that I did not post my opinions in the first place. Toren did. He named me in his blog and incorrectly pigeon-holed my as a moon hoax believer.

    The only thing I have felt compelled to do was clarify my stance, which I have done repeatedly. So please, for your own sake, stop arguing with the curb. And it’s not you just started doing so either. You (and Puck) have been arguing a moot point the entire time.

    You see, I haven’t been debating my skeptically neutral stance, I’ve been defending it. I even offered a few of the reasons for why I have that stance. But trust me when I tell you, there has been no debate. That’s why my posts turned disingenuous. I found humor in reading Puck (but mostly you now) rail against your own shadows.

    I hope that helps you too.

  10. Whoo-hoo! It likes I may get my wish yet! Go China!

    It appears that the United States will be relying on Russia for space travel and that their “return-to-the-moon by 2020” ambitions might be delayed. Hey, that’s fair. It’s not like NASA has space travel technology from 40 years ago that they can rely on. You know how these bureaucracies work. They probably misplaced the schematics. 🙂

  11. Well, it is my personal belief that you maintain a ‘skeptically neutral’ stance as a blind against what you truly believe, whataever that may be.

    I am guessing you hide, willfully or not, simply just a desire to bait and anger people rather than pursue serious inquiry.

    Your joyous intimations about the questionability of the US Space program in your last post pretty much points to that fact.

    I think your stance lacks deep conviction and betrays only enmity.

    If that is an ad hominem attack, so be it.

  12. sidswoorch,

    It was never my goal to anger or bait anyone. That is a fact. I was baited by Toren, and I did bite, but only to clarify my “actual” stance. I would so again if I felt misrepresented, which is where this all began for me.

    I’m sorry if my take on the moon landings makes you feel angry and baited, but like me, you have to take responsibility for yourself. I have at no point hidden my skeptically neutral stance in these posts. I made it obvious. You bit into something that never really existed, a debate in which I was never participating. That’s your miscalculation, not mine. Doing so betrays more about your need to incite debate than my deeply held convictions on these matters.

    As for the article … that just showed up in the last 24 hours. I wasn’t saving it up or waiting for a big “reveal”. It was topical and so I posted a link. Seriously, don’t read between the lines so much. From what I can tell, it’s not a strength.

  13. It’s true I don’t really know what “skeptically neutral” means in this context. Kolja, you say you have doubts, if not about the entire idea that man landed on the moon either the first time or subsequent times, then perhaps only about aspects of the moon landing. You list them. People reply with information that contests your facts/doubts/issues. Some of these you then address, some you don’t. That’s my definition of an argument and a debate. It may not be a passionate or even a very satisfying argument, but it is an argument.

    And this kind of ties back into what Sid said in his first post. It’s in our nature to fight, and sometimes the facts are secondary to this nature, even if it’s on a lame blog comments. As thinking responsible human beings I believe it is our duty to push pass instincts that are detrimental to a healthy society. These instincts worked fine when we were a bunch of small tribes vying for the finest mates in the group, but we are a much larger community thanks to the technology we’ve developed, and we can now literally destroy the planet thanks to this fact, so it’s in our best interests to try to develop our social skills apace. (Note: I’m speaking generally)

  14. Hey Toren,

    Since I listed my reasons (10 or so posts ago), when have people replied with “information” that contests my facts/doubts/issues? They’ve replied with their own opinions. Which is fine. I’m not debating my opinion. I’m defending my ability to have a “skeptically neutral” stance. Moreover, I’m not sure how much more I can illuminate what it means to be “skeptically neutral”. It’s skeptical and it’s neutral, in that I am not yet convinced one way or the other. It really shouldn’t need any more explanation than that.

  15. Now I know what NOT to do if a computer asks me if I ‘want to play a game?’.

    Matthew Broderick, why didn’t I listen…?

    I blame Sam Waterson and his neck-wattle.

  16. My problem with ‘skeptically neutral’ is basically the title of my recent post “Do You Believe In Facts?”

    You may not be aligned with a camp that says MOON LANDING = FACT nor MOON HOAX = FACT;

    But what facts do you accept, what do you not accept, and why? Like Chris says, you may not accept a fact but it exists all the same (I.E. Africa exists).

    I am the fourth person to ask Geisel’s question, but I’ll ask in a broader sense, what would it take to convince you of [a given fact]?

    Of course this thread is so old now you may not find the question, and that’s okay.

  17. Geeze. Are we still having this conversation? Based on the facts of which I am aware, and the examination of those facts, I haven’t made up my mind about the moon landing one way or the other.

    As for Geisel’s question, it has been answered multiple times now. If you don’t like the answers provided, I suspect you never will. 🙂

    As for facts in general? Hmm. Whichever one makes the loudest “crunch” sound when it hits the ground. (Alternatively, whichever one produces the biggest explosion.) You know, the Mythbuster way. :p

  18. Kolja! Augh! You drive me crazy! Again, none of the questions asked of you are answered! You are the worst debater in the history of the internet.

  19. Toren,

    You merely don’t like my answers. You want me to take a stance one way or the other. Indeed, you seem to have made it a zealous crusade. I won’t do that because I am undecided. Here’s a hint. Thinking that I am debating at all is the first mistake. I have never debated anything on this or any other thread on your blog. You posted my opinion, not me … remember? I merely clarified your misrepresentation of my stance on the subject of moon landings and then defended my right to be skeptically neutral. Come on, this is all repetition now (assuming you have been reading along).

    Here’s another hint. I hover in between because “IN ADDITION TO FACTS”, which I most certainly trust, right up there with unbiased rationality, I also trust my unbiased gut, however irrational.

    “Your gut? What do you mean gut? Could you elaborate on that please?”


    I also trust my personal sliding scale of believability (which is different for each person, but not always unbiased).

    That will either sound like utter nonsense to you or make complete sense. You decide. I’m thinking I know which. Surprise me.

    Here’s a question for you my friend. What would it take for you to accept that I am “currently” neither a Moon Hoaxer nor a Moon Believer? Figure that out, and we will have reached an accord on this matter (and perhaps many others).

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