Friday, October 11, 2013

Phosphorus and Hesperus, Zach and Blue Devil Knight

At first I wasn't going to make much of a post about this, but the more I thought about it, the less justification I found for the stance. So, here we are.

I know I have some Dangerous Idea regulars around here. There's a variety of regular names there (aside from, of course, Victor Reppert himself.) In particular, we have Blue Devil Knight and Zach. BDK is an atheist and a materialist. Typically well-mannered, etc. Zach is a very angry non-materialist Christian who doesn't like 'Christians relying on obviously poor arguments instead of focusing on the good ones'. BDK is typically civil. Zach mocks, insults and generally attacks people he disagrees with - with a particular axe to grind against yours truly, though ingx24 and others have been on the receiving end. In fact, others have long noticed that Zach has a habit of going after theists negatively to quite the extreme, and not having much attention paid to atheists. Quite the gulf between them.

And it turns out they're the same person.

Before I go on - kudos to ingx24, who had this to say at one point: I feel like Zach might be a materialist in disguise trying to make his criticisms of dualist arguments seem plausible by pretending he's a dualist. It seems like Zach spends more time criticizing anti-materialist arguments than he does criticizing materialism.

To which I can only say... sharp eye, ingx24. Ilion? If you're reading this, not nearly as sharp of an eye.

You're going to have trouble finding these responses, since I notice that everything related to Zach has been wiped from Dangerous Idea - at least, all of Zach's posts. You'll still find a lot quoted by other people in arguments, so it's not going to be a complete wipe. Also gone is Zach's website, which had a few posts - you know, just enough to establish himself as a Christian who was going to provide knock-down arguments against atheism and materialism someday. (Makes me wonder if the eventual plan was having Zach 'see the light' and abandon Christianity for atheism and materialism. One line that came up repeatedly was 'People like you make me ashamed to be Christian!')

If all this sounds familiar, well, you've probably heard of John Loftus doing this same thing to JP Holding a while back. Though this was longer, on a grander scale, and penny ante compared to even that.

Anyway, since I notice Zach's comments are quickly being wiped from the face of the Earth, I figured I should make a post so everyone knows what's going on here. First things first: let's make it clear that this isn't speculation on my part. It's been admitted, and straight from the comment box we have:

Blogger Crude said...
BDK,

Does the name 'Zach' ring a bell?
October 11, 2013 at 5:13 AM
 Delete
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...
>>>Does the name 'Zach' ring a bell?

If it did, I would want to say that he sounds like an idiot who let his attempt to be anonymous escalate into contemptible full-blown trolldom. His behavior, especially the two-faced way he acted toward people he likes and respects, says something about his character that he clearly needs to address at a personal level. He obviously could not handle anonymity in a mature way, and will not be posting anything new.
October 11, 2013 at 11:25 AM
 Delete
Blogger Crude said...
Well, that answers that.
October 11, 2013 at 1:44 PM
 Delete
Blogger Crude said...
Actually, no, If you're Zach, this was not a one-time thing. It wasn't even directed totally at me. You went after ingx24 and others pretty ferociously, you presented yourself as a dualist who 'had knock-down arguments against materialism' yet who suspiciously and somewhat famously only attacked anti-materialist arguments, I even recall you talking about how 'great intelligent posters like BDK' were driven off DI by the likes of me. This lasted for, what - over a year?

This is small shit ultimately - I always said, blog comments aren't much of a battleground. But I'm not going to pretend this was some meager one-time slipup. Ilion's gotta be tearing his hair out right about now if he sees this.

I'm not saying anything more about this, but I'm pointing out the situation as it stands.
October 11, 2013 at 2:50 PM
 Delete
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...
Crude you are right it wasn't a one-time thing: I posted for a few months, I believe. While I didn't say anyone drove off BDK, I did say a lot of crappy things to provoke people (e.g., ingx, crude, benyachov), and I cannot defend them. The best I can do is to stop doing it, apologize (as I already did to Victor), pledge that it won't happen again, try to be a better person online, and spend less time online.
October 11, 2013 at 5:58 PM
 Delete
Anyway, what follows is how this was discovered. Probably not of interest to most people, but I want this on record, because if someday - for whatever dumb reason - this is denied, I want details remaining on the internet somewhere.


I was commenting in this thread, found that idiot Papalinton engaged in slander, and decided I finally had it with him - and asked for Linton to be kicked off Reppert's site. Some back and forth followed, but suddenly BDK came in with a now-deleted (but logged and saved) attack, saying how I was the 'ultimate' derailer, and this was the most ironic post ever. Pretty aggressive stuff. I happened to be in the comments section writing a response, so I saw it immediately, quoted it, then wrote a pretty calm reply (also logged). BDK showed up, apologized, said it was meant to be sarcasm/humor. I replied that I clearly misunderstood, then offered to delete my response. Done and done.

But the more I thought about it, the more goddamn weird the whole thing seemed.

BDK never 'joked' like that. In fact, BDK has been noticeably absent from DI for a while now, so his commenting at all was weird. But the language, the style, and the focus? Man, that sure seemed familiar. After a bit of thinking I realize just who it sounds like, and I start digging. I didn't need to dig much - BDK admitted it when indirectly asked, hence the above, so here we are.

At first I thought, alright... that was a gracious apology, why should I make a big deal over this? But again, then I start thinking... and really, this shit smells foul, now doesn't it? This wasn't some one-time anonymous snipe. We're - as any DI regular will attest - talking about an extended, months-long presence of Zach, presenting himself as a Christian and a non-materialist, engaged in some full-on attack-dog antics. So let's not let this be downplayed into a one-time thing, or a bit of misunderstanding. This also isn't a case of someone merely having two online identities. This was very much a case of 'If these two guys are the same person, then someone is lying through his teeth.'

On the other hand, let's not blow it out of proportion either. It's an instructive situation, a sad situation, but ultimately it's taking place on a small blog, with a meager comments section. Also, note that I'm not laying into BDK as 'stupid', like I do with a couple other guys. BDK may be a lot of things, but he isn't dumb. I do remember calling him a guy prone to bullshitting, and being worse at it than he realized, so hey, points for intuition.

But there are lessons here. First? Just because someone is well-spoken and civil doesn't mean they're gracious. BDK apologized profusely, but then again, who doesn't apologize profusely when they think they're irrevocably caught? Second, the problem here is not a mere personal failing. This is a particular kind of intellectual failing, a presentation of oneself as something other than one is for the purposes of attacking 'compatriots'. In fact, regretfully, I think this is worse than anything Papalinton did. Plagiarism in an attempt to cover up one's own ignorance and stupidity is pretty foul, but he didn't try to pass himself off as an evangelical Christian as far as I know. On the other hand, I don't read most of what that idiot comments anymore, so don't take my word for that.

Anyway, that ends my extended commentary on BDK's act itself. The real takeaway lesson here is pretty mundane: be careful with the internet. The next time you see someone acting like a jackass or a troll, just ask yourself one thing: would the people who are technically his critics benefit from his acting the way he is? If so, is it possible he's actually a sock puppet? I'm not saying it always is the case. Simply, be skeptical, and try to become sensitive to sincerity as much as you can - at least if you value not getting snookered.

26 comments:

malcolmthecynic said...

Hey, whoa, BDK and Zach are the same person?

If so, he's banned from my blog. It was nice of him to come down and he made some nice comments in the past, but I'm not interested in dealing with that shit.

Codgitator (Cadgertator) said...

Good Christ, is this some creepy shit.

Crude, ole boy, this is just the sort of thing that makes a lot of us love you.

Catholic CSI Guy.

Down and Dirty in the Nitty Gritty.

Sad case.

I pray for BDK. He always seemed like such a nice fella.

#allPartOfTheProcessIGuess

Codgitator (Cadgertator) said...

Holy cow, reading back over this post reminds me once again how you sound SO much like one of my good friends (in the real world). Creepy confession? Last week I actually dreamed that you, Malcolm and I actually, like, literally, met in the, like, real world, and stuff, to carry on our conversations in real time. At some Japanese restaurant in northern California. And I almost never dream.

Crude said...

Holy cow, reading back over this post reminds me once again how you sound SO much like one of my good friends (in the real world). Creepy confession? Last week I actually dreamed that you, Malcolm and I actually, like, literally, met in the, like, real world, and stuff, to carry on our conversations in real time.

I gotta ask what I looked like, since I am ever the anonymous shadowy figure online. Honestly I'm surprised you even know of these exchanges - I never saw you in DI. I guess more people lurk than I expected.

And yep, Malcolm, they're the same, at least according to the confession. Noticing that all of Zach's posts were being 'disappeared' was why I wrote this. (Though google cache also lets you go back and browse the conversations.)

Crude said...

And for the record, there wasn't a need for much CSI skill here - I chanced on a slipup, and from then things became readily apparent, with BDK admitting it.

I long took Zach for a fake, and I knew a fake on a small blog like Reppert's usually meant sockpuppet, but I didn't suspect anything until that moment. Linton was easier to guess - put frankly, just reading what he writes screams 'Guy doesn't understand what he's talking about', and his choice of language indicates 'But he is unbelievably insecure about being perceived of as knowledgeable', and once you're dealing with technical topics there's an obvious avenue there for those kinds of people. And it sure as shit is usually not 'actually learning and understanding what you talk about'.

grodrigues said...

First reaction: stunned.

Second reaction (a form of self-flattering, but never mind): minus the tone, the *type* of argumentation of BDK and Zach is oddly similar.

Third reaction: BDK had better not show up his sorry face. This is not some small error that can easily be excused (short fuse, hot temper, foul mouth), but it speaks of pure, unmitigated *dishonesty*. Dialogue with dishonest people is simply not possible.

malcolmthecynic said...

Last week I actually dreamed that you, Malcolm and I actually, like, literally, met in the, like, real world, and stuff, to carry on our conversations in real time.

Bwahahaha, I'll have to second Crude in asking what I looked like!

Crude said...

grod,

I seem to recall Zach argued with you too, so this apparently strikes at a lot of people. He even had his own personal website up, also gone as near as I can tell.

Codgitator (Cadgertator) said...

Catfishin' for Nerds!

Codgitator (Cadgertator) said...

As for my dream...

Lapa Pinton said...

"Linton was easier to guess - put frankly, just reading what he writes screams 'Guy doesn't understand what he's talking about'."

But is Linton actually real, or just my sock puppet?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAAlDoAtV7Y

Crude said...

Haha. Well, whoever you are, you know how to imitate his key points.

BenYachov said...

>Hey, whoa, BDK and Zach are the same person?

I just can't believe it........was somebody using BDK's name without his permission?

Crude said...

Ben,

Nope, or at least not as far as BDK said. This was a straight up confession and a note he'd be apologizing to Victor, who hasn't commented on this.

Crude said...

Not that I expect Victor to, btw. The dude's mostly a question-asker on his blog, keeping the conversation topics coming in. I imagine he has better things to do than to pontificate on squabbles like these.

The Deuce said...

Wow. WOW. I don't follow DI at all, but I have seen BDK around, and he did seem unusually civil for a materialist atheist.

The first thought that pops into my mind is that it's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a full-fledged materialist atheist to have a genuine good-faith rational conversation. Even on that rare occasion that one seems polite and civil, it turns out to be an elaborate bait-n-switch ploy.

And the second thought that pops into my mind is that this sort of thing is basically the empirical counterpart to the Argument From Reason. To have a good-faith debate requires that all parties accept the premise that there is such a thing as truth, that truth is objective and independent of us, that truth is something that we can and should try to know better, and that there are laws of logic that can lead us from true premises to true conclusions and weed out falsehoods by exposing the contradictions that they lead to. This is the "common ground" between a Christian and a pagan, and anyone else capable of good-faith dialogue.

It's also precisely that premise that materialist atheism is incompatible with, according to the Argument From Reason. If that's true, we should expect to make certain empirical observations. We should expect to see materialists acting as if truth *isn't* something objective and knowable through employing inviolable laws of logic via human reason. We should expect them to approach debate in a purely mercenary fashion, seeing it all as a power play to push their narrative rather than a quest for truth. We should see them resort to ridicule, sophistry, censorship, dishonesty, and even violence wherever they think it can work.

Of course, we should expect them to deny that they think all this until the cows come home, because admitting that you're an anti-truth mercenary who doesn't believe in truth and cares only about winning the narrative is not a winning tactic for an anti-truth mercenary who doesn't believe in truth and cares only about winning the narrative.

And, on those rare occasions where a materialist atheist does seem to be engaging in civil good faith discussion, we shouldn't be surprised to find that it's all just part of some elaborate misdirection for winning the narrative after all. Sheesh.

Crude said...

I'm not going to extrapolate the BDK-Zach experience too far - I just think it's a useful situation for the small group of people who read this blog, because it serves as a useful reminder. One important thing to remember here was that Zach expressly offered himself up as a Christian (Catholic, I think) and a non-materialist besides. It's pretty reasonable to infer a reason for that, and ingx24 stated it openly: "It makes his criticisms of non-materialist arguments / etc seem more plausible."

Karl Grant said...

Wow, just wow. I quit commenting for a couple of months because of real world issues (got a Belgian Shepard puppy that needed to be trained and house broken and then had to go shopping for a new vehicle because my Bravada was on it's last legs), come back and start browsing the comment boxes and this is one of the first things I find. I thought BDK was fairly decent, didn't agree with a lot of what he said but at least he seemed polite and honest. Now turns out he is just as dishonest as Paps and Skeppy, if not more so.

Zach turning out to be a sock puppet for an atheist-materialist I am not surprised about though.

Crude said...

Karl,

I was surprised too at who particularly was behind Zach. In the abstract, I'm not very surprised. I've run into other materialist atheists who have gone out of their way to seem nice and pleasant, even friendly with people who disagree with them - only to find out that on another forum they're mocking everyone they talk with, friends with the more foul atheists who are doing things like pulling up RL pictures of people, defacing them, calling everyone 'faggots' and 'motherfuckers' and such.

I'll have more to say about this phenomenon in general soon. Hope everything's going fine RL btw - especially with that puppy. I know they're a handful.

rank sophist said...

First time poster over here. Wasn't even aware that you had a blog, Crude. In any case, I remember when Zach first showed up over at DI, and he was a real piece of work. I can't believe that he and BDK were the same person. Excellent sleuthing.

Crude said...

Hey Rank. Nice to see you around.

I lucked into it. A lot of people suspected Zach was a fake, I think. But the BDK connection was something else.

BenYachov said...

I can believe Zack was a closet Atheist or at least a nut job.

But I still can't believe he was BDK? I just can't make my self do it.

Oh God..............not BDK! dguller being a dick was a harsh enough blow but BDK......

Why HaShem do you test your servant so.......

So what's next Jesse what's his name the atheist guy who bagged on the Outsider's test turns out to be PZ Myers?

Is Paps a sock puppet for a shrew Fundamentalist Christian trying to discredit Gnus?

I don't know what to believe anymore?

Accept the Faith but that is besides the point.

Well I'm done ranting & I am going to buy some cheesewiz.

Oy Vey!

Crude said...

Ben,

Of course, there's dishonesty on both sides. And there's also honesty - I think there are atheists and agnostics who manage to be polite and civil and who are ultimately sincere.

For my money? I become extraordinarily hesitant around atheists who try to act polite, but who also really, really don't like Dawkins or such even being brought up, and complain that they're irrelevant, etc, when this happens. That, to me, is usually a sign that their civil tone is a calculated thing, rather than honestly felt. It's just good cop, bad cop.

Yeah though, I remember you praised BDK highly and held him up as a kind of model, so I figured this would come as a shock to... well, really, just about everyone. Even for me it took me a day of thinking to put two and two together.

Victor Reppert said...

This is amazing. I thought of him as "the sensible materialist" who has certainly given me food for thought. I would recommend a look at Dangerous Idea 2, when it was in its heyday, to see what kinds of serious dialogue he was capable of participating in.

Crude said...

Hey Victor.

Believe me, I was actually as surprised as you. I was around during the days of DI2 - I was anonymous for a long, long time, and even as Crude I dealt with him often.

I have zero doubt BDK can engage in serious dialogue. I've seen it firsthand. But this does do a few interesting things to the image BDK presented.

And if this is the first you've heard of this event, well, pardon me - BDK said he was apologizing to you about this, and I took him at his word.

Crude said...

By the way, Victor. Since you're here, let me say frankly.

The last guy I suggested you ban was Zach. I said outright he was a troll, and was pretty clearly around just to kick up shit. Turned out I was more accurate than I realized.

You never responded, but really - you should get rid of Linton. Every single thread is just the verbal masturbatory equivalent of him saying 'I HATE ME SOME CHRISTIANITY', and then he derails. Even multiple atheists on your site are sick of him. Wouldn't it be nice if we could actually have a reasonable conversation on DI again, that didn't devolve into his spew?

I know, I know. You prefer to moderate with a light hand. But I've been around long enough to see you ban Perezoso and Kilopapa. You can't tell me Linton is markedly different from either.