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uncle ebeneezer
05-12-2011, 01:19 PM
Check out the accompanying BBC vid. Pretty cool (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/05/making_faces.php).

bjkeefe
05-12-2011, 01:42 PM
Check out the accompanying BBC vid. Pretty cool (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/05/making_faces.php).

Indeed.

And as a bonus, I have once again learned the word philtrum, which seems to happen every five or so years. Let's see if I can remember it for more than one day this time!

TwinSwords
05-12-2011, 04:07 PM
Check out the accompanying BBC vid. Pretty cool (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/05/making_faces.php).

Wow. That is fascinating. And strangely beautiful. I felt chills when the recognizable human face emerged at about the 0:59 point in the video.

I'll never look at myself in the mirror the same way again!

popcorn_karate
05-12-2011, 05:20 PM
really cool video and interesting subject.

and classic PZ Meyers stupidity.

"They really are largely accidents of development all the fine features that we consider lovely sculpted signifiers of beauty are really just products of developmental processes, and what we recognize as pretty is actually just a good job of assembly."

no, not really PZ, really they are finely sculpted signifiers of beauty AND they are products of a developmental process. so what? He just likes to make himself feel important by denigrating the way people experience the world. good for you Pz! but why be such a douchebag all the time? reminds me of Modest Mouse on Bukowski.

This part was also nice:

"I can make things go wrong in fish embryos in ways that would send the mob after me with torches and pitchforks if I did them to human babies...I guess it's a good thing I study these phenomena in fish, after all, in addition to benefit of not enraging the local peasantry."

Yeah Pz, only stupid peasants would be offended by you mangling human babies to see how much you could fuck up their faces. all the mart kids would find it quite droll and amusing.

uncle ebeneezer
05-12-2011, 05:31 PM
I have seen PZ write many things that border on douchebaggery (based almost solely on whether or not the reader agrees) but I just don't see anything that offensive here. If he was explaining why sugar tastes good would you feel so denigrated?

Ocean
05-12-2011, 08:20 PM
I have seen PZ write many things that border on douchebaggery (based almost solely on whether or not the reader agrees) but I just don't see anything that offensive here. If he was explaining why sugar tastes good would you feel so denigrated?

Uncle, I think you'll have to accept that it doesn't matter how much one agrees with his views, he just rubs a whole lot of people in the wrong way.

uncle ebeneezer
05-12-2011, 09:10 PM
Ocean, I totally accept and understand that. I just don't see anything in this particular post to take issue with. Indeed, the quotes that PK chose are notably tame by PZ's standards, so I'm just surprised at his reaction. People love to get irritated by PZ's sense of humor. And I think sometimes the ONLY way one could be offended is if someone is trying to find something to be offended by.

Ocean
05-13-2011, 12:31 AM
Ocean, I totally accept and understand that. I just don't see anything in this particular post to take issue with. Indeed, the quotes that PK chose are notably tame by PZ's standards, so I'm just surprised at his reaction. People love to get irritated by PZ's sense of humor. And I think sometimes the ONLY way one could be offended is if someone is trying to find something to be offended by.

Hey, uncle, don't your first and last sentence contradict each other? Or do I need to go to sleep and read them again tomorrow?

*Sigh* I didn't read the post. I'm trying to keep my mood elevated, so, no, I didn't dare to read it. And, I don't think I get offended. I find his style unappealing, or rather irritatingly arrogant. Don't get me started with this again.

Let's put it this way, it would be much, much worse, if I both disliked his style and disagreed with his ideas. Fortunately, only one of those is true.

bjkeefe
05-13-2011, 12:47 AM
Hey, uncle, don't your first and last sentence contradict each other?

Not completely, I don't think, but I see what you're getting at.

@Eb: I think we have to accept that what you and I love about PZ -- e.g., his pugnaciousness and his rapier wit -- is not something everyone is going to like or even be able to appreciate. And the thing is, once people have gotten turned off by the attitude commonly on display from a given writer, it's not really reasonable to expect them to be able to say Every Blog Post Is A New Day! and read the latest one you've linked to with all past irritations magically wiped away.

Ocean
05-13-2011, 12:55 AM
Not completely, I don't think, but I see what you're getting at.

@Eb: I think we have to accept that what you and I love about PZ -- e.g., his pugnaciousness and his rapier wit -- is not something everyone is going to like or even be able to appreciate. And the thing is, once people have gotten turned off by the attitude commonly on display from a given writer, it's not really reasonable to expect them to be able to say Every Blog Post Is A New Day! and read the latest one you've linked to with all past irritations magically wiped away.

I confessed that I didn't read this one. If any of you submits a statement signed by at least five independent reviewers documenting that his post is actually respectful, lacking any self indulgent claim of intellectual superiority and that it doesn't rely heavily on making fun of others, then I'm willing to read it with the fresh mind of A New Day! ;)

TwinSwords
05-13-2011, 01:18 AM
I confessed that I didn't read this one. If any of you submits a statement signed by at least five independent reviewers documenting that his post is actually respectful, lacking any self indulgent claim of intellectual superiority and that it doesn't rely heavily in making fun of others, then I'm willing to read it with the fresh mind of A New Day! ;)

LOL!

("at least" five!)

uncle ebeneezer
05-13-2011, 06:37 PM
Ocean, I think Brendan captures what I "meant" to say. I can understand people not liking PZ's style and aggressiveness etc., on the whole, but I didn't really see any of those attributes on display in this post (or even in the words PK excerpted.) So I was guessing that he was registering more of a long-term beef rather than a time-specific critique on this post.

What I meant when I say "looking to be offended", is that I find that the vast majority of negative reactions I see to things written by PZ are taken literally while ignoring the fact that the passage was clearly not meant to be read that way (ie- humor.)

"I can make things go wrong in fish embryos in ways that would send the mob after me with torches and pitchforks if I did them to human babies...I guess it's a good thing I study these phenomena in fish, after all, in addition to benefit of not enraging the local peasantry."

Seems like a pretty obvious attempt at humor based on describing the difference between what is acceptable to do experimentally with other species vs. on humans. He is clearly calling to mind the image of a mob of angry villagers with pitchforks, thus the use of the word "peasantry" to make the image vivid. I don't know if PK's objection is because he thinks that "peasantry" is making some sort of classist insult (which any regular PZ reader would know does not fit his repeatedly stated views on social stratification etc.) or whether he's making light of the idea of deforming babies (which I think would also be an extremely stretched reading of what he wrote.) But this is the sort of thing that I see all the time from PZ haters, and it always looks to me like a case where someone is looking for a reason to be offended and choosing whatever interpretation of a passage will acheive that goal.

Ocean
05-14-2011, 02:51 AM
Ocean, I think Brendan captures what I "meant" to say. I can understand people not liking PZ's style and aggressiveness etc., on the whole, but I didn't really see any of those attributes on display in this post (or even in the words PK excerpted.) So I was guessing that he was registering more of a long-term beef rather than a time-specific critique on this post.

What I meant when I say "looking to be offended", is that I find that the vast majority of negative reactions I see to things written by PZ are taken literally while ignoring the fact that the passage was clearly not meant to be read that way (ie- humor.)



Seems like a pretty obvious attempt at humor based on describing the difference between what is acceptable to do experimentally with other species vs. on humans. He is clearly calling to mind the image of a mob of angry villagers with pitchforks, thus the use of the word "peasantry" to make the image vivid. I don't know if PK's objection is because he thinks that "peasantry" is making some sort of classist insult (which any regular PZ reader would know does not fit his repeatedly stated views on social stratification etc.) or whether he's making light of the idea of deforming babies (which I think would also be an extremely stretched reading of what he wrote.) But this is the sort of thing that I see all the time from PZ haters, and it always looks to me like a case where someone is looking for a reason to be offended and choosing whatever interpretation of a passage will acheive that goal.

Iunderstand the general idea in your defense of this particular post. But as Brendan also said, there's a consistent history of a particular writing style, and in this case that history doesn't help his cause.

I disagree with the implication in your last sentence. You don't need to be a PZ hater or be offended in order to dislike his style. He isn't such an important figure that one has to love him or hate him. He's just some guy who seems to be really full of himself and has a group of fans that cheer for him. In my case I don't get to enjoy the intelligent part of his posts because the style is a turn off. There isn't much more to be discussed. It's about personal preference.

uncle ebeneezer
05-14-2011, 09:50 PM
Fair enough Ocean. Everyone has their taste. Disregard the rest of this post. A2D as we say ;)

For anyone who might be reading this who has yet to check out PZ's work, I want to point out why I think his blog is important to me and why I think they should check it out.

1.) Science Updates- If you ignore all the atheist/religion-bashing posts, his is still one of the best places to find interesting science stories, videos. He follows all the best science blogs (Zimmer, Carroll, Yong, Bad Astronomy etc.) as well as many more obscure science blogs, and most interesting stories that come out, end up making an appearance on Pharyngula. For a daily one-stop for science, it's hard for me to think of a better one as far as covering a wide range of stories but also getting fairly in-depth on matters of his expertise.

2.) Documenting the Unscientific- The overwhelming majority of PZ's posts involve topics where he believes that someone has distorted/misrepresented or practiced bad science. When he critiques homeopathy, astrology, creationism, or something written in a "popular science" article, his criticisms are always aimed at making the public aware of when bad science is being practiced and why. His concerns are often mirrored by John Horgan, George Johnson, Carl Zimmer, Sean Carroll, Phil Plait etc., but PZ is the most vocal and most relentless at keeping watch.

3.) Fighting the Legislation of Ignorance- Even worse than articles that confuse the public on issues by misrepresenting data and/or presenting false conclusions, are the never-ending attempts to undermine science by politicians and special interest groups. If a local govt proposes to try to sneak a little creationism in the classroom in almost any corner of the country, you will read about it at Pharyngula. And above that, there are usually well-drawn-out instructions for how to unite and fight such craziness. I know there are other sites that perform these kinds of watchdog functions for people who are very serious about science, but PZ's is just about the best in that regard, in addition to being a blog that is not JUST about science, and has a very large readership that can be potentially mobilized on these issues. This illustrates the power of the new media age, and I am very happy that a whole lot of like-minded people, who care about science and the separation of church/state, have an excellent meeting place for possible action.

4.) Refuting Religion- Religious people say alot of silly things. People differ on what the proper response should be. I am of the camp that religion has been undeservedly protected from much criticism over the years due to the "sacred" nature which makes most people (myself included) hesitant to call a spade a spade, for fear of upsetting the believer. PZ, Dawkins, Dennett etc., have been made famous for saying "enough of that...if somebody makes a ridiculous statement, point it out and explain why." This is seen by Bob Wright, Chris Mooney and many others, to be mean-spirited, or to fly in the face of convincing people on the fence, but I believe it is the proper response. Especially the Michael Behe's of the world who take their religious fervor and try to slip it into scientific discussions. As PZ recently wrote (paraphrasing) "when someone says that at some point in the past, an intangible, invisible being, outside of the laws and limits of the universe, infused you with an intangible, invisible 'soul', it's absolutely fair to point out that such a statement is unscientific nonsense."

5.) Atheist Community- PZ's site serves as an excellent resource for atheists and agnostics out there who are culturally trapped by religion. He claims (and has posted) numerous thank-you letters from children or academics in backwoods American red-state country, and even from foreign dictatorships, showing gratitude for having a place to explore ideas and critiques that they can't be open about in their personal lives.

6.) Politics- PZ often opines on political matters. He takes pride in liberal values and is never afraid to poke fun at Republicans and the bullshit that they routinely sell.

7.) Humor- Snark is a touchy thing. Some people find it arrogant, some don't. I don't at all. I think sometimes ideas are so silly that they deserve ridicule. So I have no issue with PZ's more playful nature. And his humor is not always nasty. He pokes fun at himself pretty often, and I don't think he gets enough credit for how light-hearted he treats some things. I love the fact that he injects humor into some fairly dry scientific material. And I think he succeeds at it better than most.

Anyways, those are just a few of the reasons why I think PZ deserves the cheering he gets. But I can easily see how he would rub many the wrong way.

AemJeff
05-14-2011, 10:05 PM
...

I want to register my endorsement of this post.

Ocean
05-14-2011, 10:19 PM
Yes, A2D. 100%.

bjkeefe
05-14-2011, 10:44 PM
I want to register my endorsement of this post.

Moi aussi.

popcorn_karate
05-19-2011, 05:33 PM
I have seen PZ write many things that border on douchebaggery (based almost solely on whether or not the reader agrees) but I just don't see anything that offensive here. If he was explaining why sugar tastes good would you feel so denigrated?

if he said sugar is not really sweet, its just a chemically triggered response of nerve endings blah blah blah, then yes i would have the same reaction. Sugar tastes sweet - true. the "sweetness" is a chemical reaction on my tongue stimulating a nerve response etc. etc. - all true. That does not mean that sugar isn't sweet, or that "sweetness" is no longer something i should value now that i know the underlying mechanics of why I perceive it that way.

his basic worldview seems to be predicated on condescension for anything that is not maximally reductionist.

popcorn_karate
05-19-2011, 05:40 PM
"I can make things go wrong in fish embryos in ways that would send the mob after me with torches and pitchforks if I did them to human babies...I guess it's a good thing I study these phenomena in fish, after all, in addition to benefit of not enraging the local peasantry."



Seems like a pretty obvious attempt at humor based on describing the difference between what is acceptable to do experimentally with other species vs. on humans.

yes, and in this case i think anybody with an ounce of human compassion would agree that this is an absolutely great place for that distinction to be made!

now if this were say, a question of stem cell research or something this line would have been humorous:
I guess it's a good thing I study these phenomena in fish, after all, in addition to benefit of not enraging the local peasantry."

but, given the subject, it just makes him sound like a monster that would happily disfigure babies if weren't for those stupid peasants and their quaint concerns.

uncle ebeneezer
05-19-2011, 05:59 PM
If you sincerely think this post indicates lack of human compassion and that he's unironically arguing that experimental standards on humans should be less restrictive, and that the only reason they aren't is because of the "stupid/quaint peasantry" then there is nothing left to discuss. You have taken a simple joke and injected all kinds of motivations that take an awful lot of mental gymnastics to see. And this is precisely what I referred to when I mentioned people being eager to interpret things in the most objectionable light, rather than in the way that the author far more likely intended.

popcorn_karate
05-19-2011, 06:10 PM
If you sincerely think this post indicates lack of human compassion and that he's unironically arguing that experimental standards on humans should be less restrictive, and that the only reason they aren't is because of the "stupid/quaint peasantry" then there is nothing left to discuss. You have taken a simple joke and injected all kinds of motivations that take an awful lot of mental gymnastics to see. And this is precisely what I referred to when I mentioned people being eager to interpret things in the most objectionable light, rather than in the way that the author far more likely intended.

i think he is so used to mocking people that he doesn't even think about the implications of what he says. the only way his joke makes any sense is if you think those "peasants" have ridiculous concerns (that is the essence of the allusion), which is why i said that it would make sense in many other contexts, such as stem cell research.

What I suspect is that his mockery outran his logic, not that he really wants to deform human babies.

uncle ebeneezer
05-19-2011, 06:29 PM
The joke is "I'm such a monster that I would deform babies if it weren't for laws and the response of angry mobs!" What makes this joke possible is that it is an exageration of the over-the-top labeling he gets from his critics who often fall not short of calling him a "monster" or claim that he has no human compassion. Whether you see it or not, there is a whole hell of alot of evidence of compassion on PZ's blog on a regular basis. But his detractors still love to demonize him largely because he holds different views than they do, and is willing to use snark in pointing out their flaws. That this constitutes a "monster" in the minds of some, is the joke, because it's hyperbole to such a laughable extent. So he is embracing the role and playing along. It's irony.

popcorn_karate
05-19-2011, 06:39 PM
The joke is "I'm such a monster that I would deform babies if it weren't for laws and the response of angry mobs!" What makes this joke possible is that it is an exageration of the over-the-top labeling he gets from his critics who often fall not short of calling him a "monster" or claim that he has no human compassion. Whether you see it or not, there is a whole hell of alot of evidence of compassion on PZ's blog on a regular basis. But his detractors still love to demonize him largely because he holds different views than they do, and is willing to use snark in pointing out their flaws. That this constitutes a "monster" in the minds of some, is the joke, because it's hyperbole to such a laughable extent. So he is embracing the role and playing along. It's irony.

i guess that sounds plausible. I've never thought of him as monstrous, just rather smug and annoying. if that truly is a widespread meme, it makes his joke more understandable.

uncle ebeneezer
05-19-2011, 06:44 PM
At least I THINK that was the intent. Anyways, it seemed more like a (not especially effective) throw-away attempt at humor. I don't find him smug and annoying, but I can see why others would. Which was what I was trying to say further upthread. At least we agree on the cool video :)

popcorn_karate
05-19-2011, 06:56 PM
At least we agree on the cool video :)

hell yeah. It only makes beautiful face that much more interesting and amazing to see the process of their creation.

Ocean
05-20-2011, 01:33 AM
At least I THINK that was the intent. Anyways, it seemed more like a (not especially effective) throw-away attempt at humor. I don't find him smug and annoying, but I can see why others would. Which was what I was trying to say further upthread. At least we agree on the cool video :)

I agree with your interpretation. He was mocking his own critics kinda pre-emptively.