"...I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me..." [Deuteronomy 5:8-10]

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Farewell, Bililiad, we hardly knew ye...

For all their pops at "Darwinism", Intelligent Design Creationists see the world as a cruel and vicious place. Dissenters from the "given wisdom" are cast off, thrown to the wolves, expelled from all good society. Some, especially respected and respectful, will be allowed a voice for a time... But in the end, all opposition is silenced, airbrushed from history, with only ghostly echoes remaining to show that they had ever existed.

And, since IDers think that's the way the world treats them, that's the way they treat the world. Most ID websites refuse any opposing commentary. Those that do - like Uncommon Descent - ban visitors so fast it'd make your head spin. They threw me out almost instantly.

So, like many before and after, I created a sock-puppet - a character with a plausible back story who could throw in occasional comments at Uncommon Descent, to prod discussions, prompt debate, and perhaps poke gentle fun at the more inane posters and commentators. What else is a man to do in the face of censorship? Give up? Go away? Stop being Jewish? (Not that I am Jewish, but you get the point...)

Watching from the peanut gallery was all very well - but I wanted to be close to the action. I wanted to smell the greasepaint. I wanted being With The Banned to mean something...

Bililiad was born. One indistinguishable-from-parody-posting to Underwhelming Evidence later, and I was all set to go.

At the start it was easy. Beginning my first UD comment with "DaveScot as always you are absolutely right" got me out of moderation and into straight-posting before I could say "Jack Robinson". For a while, I took things fairly easy. Sure, my comments were dumb, some immensely so, but Intelligent Design Creationism is a big tent, and at the start no-one seemed to notice just one more slightly unhinged visitor to UD. Eventually though, as so often in life, I got just too smart for my own good. No-one, surely, could be that enthusiastic about Denyse O'Leary's senseless wittering. As with all good things, my sock-puppetry came to an end. After six months of occasional posting, DaveScot's genius-level IQ spluttered into action. With a firm thump to the side, his nixplanatory filter managed a rare true-positive. Credit where credit is due, Dave played his cards with good humour:-

Dear bililiad,

I installed a WordPress upgrade that included a beta test version of something called Troll Filter v1.0. Upon activation all your comments disappeared. Sorry about that. We’re working with wordpress to determine the root cause of the problem.
And so, gentle readers, Bililiad's comments passed on into oblivion, and sadly his wit and wisdom (and/or lack thereof) is lost to the world almost, but not quite, entirely...

For, like the legendary pagan Celsus, known only through the words of the early Christian apologist (but teacher of reincarnation) Origen, Bililiad does live on, somewhat, in answers to the questions he'd posed. Search Uncommon Descent for bililiad, and his voice can still be heard, a phantom, from beyond the ban-osphere...

Take his penultimate post, from yet-another-thread where Denyse O'Leary took a whack-the-piƱata strike at "Darwinism", predicting its imminent demise without offering anything pro-ID in its place... Bililiad wrote:
“What the materialists can’t get their head around is that if “Darwinism” loses, ID wins by default..."
DaveScot may have smelled a rat... But commentator CannuckianYankee took the bait, answering:-
"Yes, because the materialists have clung to the only scenario that could be true under materialist assumptions: Neo-Darwinism.

It means that methodological naturalism as the driving method behind doing science also loses.

Going wherever the evidence leads transcends all assumptions, materialist and non-materialist. Flew got it right."
And there, my friends, is the problem with ID laid bare, naked for all to see.

Can ID supporters offer any advance in science or technology whatsoever in the entire history of the world that was not based on materialistic assumptions? Do they use non-materialist assumptions in their engineering, or mathematics, or when they are putting up shelves or driving their cars? Would they trust the health of their children to non-materialistic medicine? And if they would, would you?

R.I.P Bililiad. It was fun while it lasted.



Paco said...

Was Bililiad a true Sock Puppet or just an alias?

Seems to me that sock puppets are essentially autosycophants -- simulated yes-men created for the illusion of more supporters of one's own writing.

Creating a pseudo-sycophantic alias to comment on someone else's blog isn't quite the same thing; I hope you sanitized your keyboard frequently.

Sorry to kvetch -- I'm enjoying the rest of your blog :-).

PTET said...

Thanks Paco...

Kvetch away! (And what an underused, wonderful word that is :>)

"Sock puppet" is the term used at After The Bar Closes for characters such as Bililiad... But you are quite right - that doesn't appear to be the standard usage. Not according to wikipedia anyway :)

BTW, if you enjoyed Bililiad's story, check out the legendary saga
Vincent Edward St. Francis: Deep Cover Sockpuppet
, from the long-lost and much missed Mr DNA (a Texas boy too!).