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:
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.
Crude said... BDK,
Does the name 'Zach' ring a bell?
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.
Crude said... Well, that answers that. 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.
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.
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.