Friday, November 10, 2006

Fact Check II

Truth matters to me. If there are errors on this blog, then I want them corrected.

As such, I regularly remind readers that the e-mail address bcse-blog at dw-perspective dot org dot uk is available for people to point out errors in my documented facts. Today I have received some correspondence along these lines, and so, in keeping with my promise, am writing this post to address it.

The e-mail came from Michael Roberts, who was mentioned in connection with a recent program on Premier Radio. Concerning Michael, I said:

Both Hearty and Roberts were members of the British Centre for Science Education. But I don't want to make anything of that. There's nothing wrong with being involved in more than one organisation. And actually I haven't yet listened to the part of the show where Roberts calls in, so I don't know what he says! Maybe in the interests of transparency he does actually disclose that all three of them have been working in the same group.
Michael wrote in to protest about one thing - that I had called him a "member" of the BCSE. Michael says that he is not.

Now, I believed I had pretty good grounds for describing Michael that way. For starters, the BCSE's public website claims him as a member[1]:

Furthermore, Michael is the author of parts of the BCSE's website, such as the article "What is Creationism?"[2]:

Michael also posts regularly in the BCSE's web forum - right up to today[3]. (Regular readers of "BCSE Revealed " will remember that at launch time, the BCSE's policy was that everybody who posted in its forum was one of its members).

Now, it looks pretty clear to me that Michael has been lending support to the BCSE. Whether it's right to describe him as a member (as the BCSE itself does) seems something of a side-issue to me. If it waddles, swims and quacks, then it's something at least very like a duck. And if you read the paragraph I wrote carefully, you'll see that it doesn't actually claim that Michael is a member - it uses the word "were" - past tense. Now if these are the biggest errors I'm making, I think I'm doing pretty well.

Making It Clear

Nevertheless, whatever Michael was, the point is clear. He wishes it to be known that he does not endorse the British Centre for Science Education and refutes the idea that he is a member. I am very happy to point this out.

To make this extra clear to me, Michael forwarded me on another e-mail he'd sent to someone else recently. Again, I am happy to allow Michael to speak for himself and distance himself from the BCSE. Here are a few select quotes:
I am fed and bored with the strident tones of BCSE.

... many posters prattle on about Dawkins' nonsense about religion being a virus and faith contrary to reason (and moderators delete my posts if I challenge them) and adopt this view with no understanding and less tolerance.


I expect BCSE (BSE?) to be fatal and soon disappear.

Many of their articles are both shoddy and strident.


I was fed up with atheistic bigotry.
Now, I think we all hear the fellow loud and clear, don't we? It's the same story we had from former member Marc Draco when he e-mailed in. Like Marc, wants to make clear that the BCSE are a pretending to be something they're not, and are motivated by a commitment to atheism - not science. Like Marc, Michael has had his eyes opened to what was happening - and wanted out before his time was wasted or his reputation was dragged down. I look forward to seeing whether or not Michael will urge the BCSE to hurry up in pulling his article and name from various places on their website.

One final thing. There is one fact that I had forgotten as I wrote the original paragraph that kicked this all off. There is in fact no way that Michael could have collaborated with Peter Hearty within the BCSE over their appearance on the Premier Radio program. (Which as I say, isn't something I really have a big problem with anyway). That's because Peter Hearty left the BCSE before Michael appeared. In actual fact, Hearty's departure is mentioned by Ian Lowe just before one of the quotes that we have had cause to use more than once. As we finish this post, here it is. Notice the verdict passed on the BCSE's efficiency by Hearty - and notice, of course, again, Ian spelling out loud and clear what the BCSE is really about (emphasis mine)[4]:
Peter Hearty has walked away from secular_newsline and this group, and has made perfectly clear that the pointless side debates are the key reason.

So, why are you continuing to pound the pulpit on this issue? We get the damn point mate. Don't say anything which might offend the overly sensitive believers.

Have you lost sight of the fact that the actual enemy here is the fundmanetalists [sic], and not in fact the big mouthed atheists?
The longer this goes on, the clearer it's becoming as to what kind of group the BCSE are. That's what this blog is here for.

Update: 21:33
I have become aware of a link on the BCSE's website where someone purporting to be Michael Roberts claims that I edited my original article ("An Interesting Debate") to say "were" instead of "are" (in the context of being a member). He says that I "said we ARE both members of BCSE and today alters it to say we WERE, without acknowledging the change". In other words, I'm being deceptive.

Now, I do not know if this is actually Roberts, or an impersonator. I'm inclined to think its an impersonator, as I would expect Roberts to e-mail me directly as he has before. However, it does not matter. Anybody can download my feed from Blogger by following this link: Scroll down to the link for my original story (titled "An Interesting Debate"). You'll find that Blogger tells you that the last edit on that story was "2006-11-07 21:43" - i.e. the same hour that I posted the story. (I forget what the edit was for, but in any case, it is 3 days before Roberts first contacted me with his complaint). The allegation, whether from Roberts or "pseudo-Roberts", is clearly false. If you can't get it from the RSS feed, then you can instead go along to Google, which currently has a cache of the page from the 9th of November - with the word "were" there quite clearly.

Update: 21:49
I e-mailed Michael Roberts, who has a) acknowledged that the post was him b) acknowledged that he was mistaken and apologised to me and c) deleted his post from the BCSE's forum. Wow. Just wow. I do not understand Michael Roberts way of thinking in all of this too well.

David Anderson
bcse-blog at dw-perspective dot org dot uk : Non-anonymous factual corrections welcome.

Links as at 10th November 2006.

[4] BlackShadow Yahoo Group post 2093 - now removed from the Internet by the BCSE, but available from me if you'd like to verify.

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