How I ruined the OC’s career

The Original Cyberpunk riffs on writing, the publishing industry, and the significance of being the the third angelfish from the left in the chorus line in “Disney’s Finding Nemo On Ice”:

Writing Rebel Moon was fun. Working with Vox was… fascinating. It was far more work than I’d bargained for, and I was deeply disappointed when the publisher saw the final manuscript, said, “It’s too long!,” and made us cut it down to 90,000 words. But on the whole, I enjoyed doing it.

What I hadn’t reckoned on is that everyone else in the publishing industry would look at that book, see the words, “Based on the Computer Game from Fenris Wolf” on the cover, and say, “Whoops. The Sophomore Curse has struck again. Bethke is reduced to doing books based on computer games.” And thereafter, the assumption was that I’d do anything, because I must have been out of ideas and desperate for money. So I got offers for book projects galore, and all of them for properties that I wouldn’t have touched with a ten-meter electric cattle prod.

Thank God the deal for Duke Nukem: Balls of Steel, fell through. They really wanted me to sign up to do that one.

There are two important literary differences between the OC and I. Three, actually. 1. He is a highly talented writer, whereas I am merely an intelligent individual who uses that intelligence to emulate genuine talent. The former produces much better results, but it can’t be turned on and off as easily. 2. The OC is a real writer with a writing career. I am a dilettante who occasionally scribbles and doesn’t give that much of a damn beyond what happens to be of interest to me at the moment. Hence my willingness to engage in hostilities with petty publishing principalities like the Tor Witch and her Thin Gay Consort; if I ever want to get published by Tor, I’ll just have to buy it off Holtzbrinck. 3. The OC would never write the lyrics for a low-budget graphics novel trilogy, while I had a great time doing Archangels: The Fall.

One of the burdens of genuine talent is the feeling that you must do something important with that talent. Lacking any such talent and knowing that I’m just not cut out to be the next Lewis or Eco, I’m free to write whatever I want, whether that ends up being The Leadership Secrets of Satanas Rex, Principia Posthumanica or a black horror-comedy about a certain educational facility. Although, since I have a contract for Summa Elvetica on offer, I should probably wrap that up first.

So while I envy the OC his talent, I’m quite happy with my lot. It’s rather like being Corin to his Cor… although we are nevertheless in complete accord in thinking that we really should have left the aliens for Rising. And, of course, blown up the doggone Death Star!

The case against peer review

Scientistry is demonstrably far more dangerous to science than religion:

The conventional narrative holds that, as the advantages of pooling knowledge became obvious, all scientists adopted the Royal Society’s conventions: now, scientific papers are published freely. But that’s not quite true. Actually, scientific journals are as closed as the Royal Society once was. The gatekeeper is “peer review”: that is, papers are screened by experts, who judge if the experiments the manuscripts describe are credible.

But how, without having actually witnessed the experiments, can experts determine that? Reviewers have to trust the authors to have told the truth. Consequently, the most important part of a paper is the name at the top. If a well-known scientist submits a paper, it will probably be accepted; if an unknown submits one, it will probably be rejected. Science is still a closed club – partly to ensure that only accurate papers are published, but largely to prevent fraud.

But peer review carries dangers. First, it allows dunderheads to block unexpected ideas. Everybody within the scientific community knows of researchers such as Barbara McClintock, who won the Nobel Prize in 1983 for discovering gene jumping, a process by which scraps of DNA move about the genome. She was forced to publish her findings informally, in the annual reports of the Carnegie Institution, because she could not persuade peer reviewers to accept them…. Peer review was always an illusion, providing a deceptive imprimatur of objective truth.

Peer review is a total joke. It’s little more than the scientific version of union thuggery.

In case you were wondering

Yes, Washington really is run primarily for the benefit of bankers:

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) has sponsored an unusual provision at the urging of the nation’s banks granting them immunity against an active patent lawsuit, potentially saving them billions of dollars. Adopted with little fanfare, the amendment would prevent a small Texas company called DataTreasury from collecting damages from banks for infringing on its patented method for digitally scanning, sending and archiving checks. The patents were upheld last summer by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office after they were challenged.

The provision, passed without dissent by the Senate Judiciary Committee in July and inserted into legislation scheduled for a vote by the full Senate this month, is a rare attempt by Congress to intervene in ongoing litigation, congressional experts say.

Hey, if eminent domain works for real property, as the Republican-appointed Supreme Court decided in Kelo, then there’s no reason why it shouldn’t work for imaginary property that is created by Washington in the first place. I note that this little piece of Congressionally-abetted theft is sponsored by Republicans as well, just one more reason why I’ll be celebrating their inevitable defeat to the other forces of darkness this November.

There is no lesser evil. As with pregnancy, political evil is merely a matter of progressive stages.

Few atheists in foxholes

Cronolink is surprised:

Vox, you’re angry. Why? I mean, didn’t you expect something much as this? I believe you received equally stupid and vacuous responses when you publicized your TIA op/ed column back then. Weren’t you expecting the same or even worse with your book?

I’m not angry, just irritated. I am, you may recall, an ex-martial artist from a rather hard core dojo. In all my years there, there was only one iron-clad rule. To win respect, YOU MUST GET UP! You didn’t have to be a flashy kicker, an overpowering wrestler or an intimidating hand fighter to earn your place there, you just had to prove that when hurt, when knocked down, you’d get up and show that you were good to go. Even if you really weren’t.

I saw young men knocked unconscious come to, push themselves to their feet and bring their guard up despite not being quite sure who or where they were. I loved them for it. I saw pretty girls with their noses gushing blood and tears pouring down their faces get up and nod to their opponent, telling them to go ahead and bring it again. I loved them for it. I saw a beaten and exhausted fighter walk into a wicked spinning sidekick that jackknifed him, broke a rib and made his eyes water, then watched in awe as he slowly straightened and waved off the referee’s offer of a pause to catch his breath despite knowing that he had to survive 30 more seconds in the final round. It was terrible, but oh, how I loved him for it!

I also saw a 265-pound linebacker quit in the middle of his very first round after getting popped in the face for the first time. I saw a brown belt from a Tae Kwon Do school surreptitiously limit his sparring to pounding on our overmatched green belts and gold belts… he never came back after our most vicious black belt noticed what was happening and gave him a beating that bordered on criminal. I saw one loud-mouthed muscle boy after another talk a huge game about how tough they were, then disappear after watching Wednesday sparring, never to return. I cannot express how much I loathed them all, or the depth of my contempt for them.

Now, I knew Dawkins wouldn’t respond until the book became successful enough that he couldn’t avoid it, he’s directly stated that he has no interest in any intellectual engagement that won’t somehow further his career. I also knew that Sam Harris would probably be unable to respond because the mere fact of acknowledging this level of criticism will be tantamount to conceding his entire thesis. Christopher Hitchens has nothing to say and doesn’t even attempt to make a coherent case for or against anything and I tend to agree with Daniel Dennett on the practical issues, so I don’t know what would be the point of debating either of them. But I did not expect that the entire atheist community would prove to be such a collection of frightened little bitches, barring a very few courageous exceptions to the contrary.

For years, atheists have been rightly demanding that Christians and other religious individuals stop hiding behind evasive theology and avoiding the pointed issues that atheists have been raising, a criticism that I have always felt to be an entirely reasonable one. But now that atheists have been offered precisely what they have been demanding, a fair fight on their chosen ground of science and reason, they’re desperately trying to pretend it doesn’t exist. It’s not going to work, of course, because while they can certainly avoid me and my book, they aren’t going to be able to avoid the ideas contained therein as they are picked up and improved upon by hundreds of other Christian thinkers. Would Madeleine Bunting have been so befuddled by Richard Dawkins a few days ago if she had been armed with TIA, for example? Of course, it is amusing that the great public intellectual Dawkins is already reduced to sparring with journalists in order to avoid being unmasked for the charlatan he is.

Ironically, it’s the atheist and former RD.net commenter Dominic who probably best expresses my feelings at the moment: “I stand by my proclamation that the people over at RD.net are a bunch of “little bitches”. And that most certainly includes the leading member of the Godless Circle of Jerkdom.

UPDATE – I have no idea if this guy is an atheist or not, but he is an amusing writer. He made me laugh, anyhow, and he also takes the time helpfully explains why no published writer is particularly excited about the opportunity to “help” some poor innocent soul dive into the abyss that is the world of the writer.

He must be a libertarian, because I’ve never met a libertarian who didn’t enjoy argument ad nauseum, and Day seems to have picked online fights with numerous individual science fiction writers, a few editors, the SFWA, several individual atheists, numerous atheist message boards, several individual feminists, numerous feminist blogs a couple of scientists, and, I don’t know, he probably invaded Russia in winter just for the thrill of it. (I get the impression that if he’d lived 150 years earlier, he’d have been helping William Walker conquer Nicaragua.) So when I saw that he had a book coming out, naturally I had to read it.

In my own defense, all I can say is that I seldom pick fights with anyone. I merely write what I think and then the fights find me.

Yet another non-reading reviewer

Will Pattison pretends to have read TIA, but makes it painfully obvious that he didn’t:

I have been reading the Vox day blog for a while.

The book starts with many generic arguments that evolve down to the old question of “without god, how can there be morals?”. Anyone who has spent 5 minutes reading the ‘Argument from morality’ page on wikipedia will find these sections silly or at least inefficient.

The attacks use short quotes from Dawkins/Harris books, and as a reader I feel like I am not getting the context of the quotes. In the case of the Harris state vs county crime/religion statistic, I wish Vox would quote the reason Harris was using it… for all I know Harris was making a point that the corelation is meaningless.

Vox spends too many words personally attacking people instead of attacking the viewpoints. It feels insulting as a reader.

Even though this is a intelectually dishonest book, I am glad to see someone attempting to defend Christianity in a non-soundbyte manner. Vox Day may be the last person trying (Al Sharpten, James Dobson, Christian Science Center, etc have stopped as far as I can tell).

From TIA:

The Incompetent Atheist

One of the most oft-cited passages in Letter to a Christian Nation
is Harris’s Red State-Blue State argument, in which he purports to
prove that there is no correlation between Christian conservativism
and social health. Richard Dawkins found the data to be “striking,”
so much so that he quotes the following paragraph from Harris’s
book in its entirety.

After quoting the entire paragraph myself, I then spend no less then five pages demonstrating first that the argument is meaningless, then showing how the incompetent means utilized to go about proving the argument actually prove the opposite based on the more accurate data that was readily available to Sam Harris. This is the lamest and most bizarre Fighting Withdrawal we’ve seen yet! It’s quite clear that Will has not read The Irrational Atheist, Letter to a Christian Nation or The God Delusion. I never once make an argument that without God there can be no morals, instead, I specifically point out that Richard Dawkins and company are utilizing a faux-scientific bait-and-switch in order to argue for a rival moral system based on Enlightenment ideals. God is one theoretical source of an objective moral standard, the challenge of the New Atheists is not to suggest new morals, which is easy enough, but rather to find a rational basis for an objective moral standard by which one individual has a justification for holding another individual accountable. This is, as Daniel Dennett admits, much more difficult than it initially looks.

And I have no need to create straw man arguments, the New Atheist arguments are sufficiently flawed as they are, which, for example, is why I was quite happy to quote the central argument of The God Delusion in its entirety.

What is it with atheists and their insane eagerness to blatantly lie? Are they so determined to demonstrate the truth of the stereotype of the immoral atheist? This is the second atheist pulling this kind of nonsense today, as over on the Atheism Sucks blog, another atheist was claiming that I had been making offensive posts over at richarddawkins.net. I have never once posted or commented there.