Roy Stemman has been not at all childish in calling Professor Brian Cox a “nobber” in retaliation for Professor Cox daring to say on twitter…
“Just heard we got complaints about lack of BBC balance about ghosts – there are some utter nobbers out there! Here is my official statement, which also has the benefit of being fact. There are no ghosts, so it would be silly to believe in them.”
ZOMFG!!! HOW DARE HE! HOW DARE HE SAY SUCH HORRID, UNTRUTHFUL, NASTY THI-
Oh wait… there is nothing to suggest ghosts exist, so it WOULD be silly to believe in them. So what’s the problem? Well, Roy says in this article on ‘Paranormal review’:
Particle physicist Brian Cox has angered many by mocking people who believe in ghosts and the afterlife. He did so on Twitter after learning that the BBC had received complaints that Infinite Monkey Cage, the Radio 4 show he hosts with comedian Robin Ince, was unbalanced in an episode dealing with the paranormal.
Which is where Roy is very wrong because Brian didn’t mock anyone who believed in ghosts – he mocked the people who had complained to the BBC about there being no ‘balance’ in the science comedy show when they spoke about ghosts.
People have a right to make complaints to the BBC, but you have to admit that it’s a bit silly to demand that a science panel show bring in ‘balance’ to a discussion about ghosts, when to do so would go against the whole theme of the show and wouldn’t really do anything for the target audience.
I’ve blogged before about ‘bringing in balance’ to such environments and discussions, and how ‘balance’ in these situations is sometimes an illogical request and I genuinely believe this is one of those times.
Roy’s post is actually really sarcastic in nature, and quite embarrassing to read because it is filled with glaringly obvious logical fallacies and assumptions such as:
Brian Cox is sceptical of the paranormal, as were the guests on the very entertaining programme that caused offence: psychologists Richard Wiseman and Bruce Hood, and actor and magician Andy Nyman. Which is fine, of course, and their views shouldn’t be taken too seriously; after all, the programme’s concept is to inject comedy into science and make it a fun subject to discuss. [emphasis mine]
True as it is that the show is comedy, their views are actually valid. It IS possible to be factual while being funny, believe it or not…
The Twitter pronouncement, on the other hand, was delivered as a statement of fact, based on the assumption that Cox knows the truth of such matters better than anyone else. Has he become God? Does he believe that his scientific credentials are sufficient to allow him to pass judgment on other areas, in which he has no expertise?
No Roy, What Brian has done is look at the available evidence that supports that ghosts exist and, like most people, has come to the conclusion that it is at best weak, at worse, laughable.
Roy then goes on to name Peter Sturrock, a scientist who has studied anomalous phenomena and remains open minded about the subject. He compares Sturrock’s work to Brian Cox’s and seems to conclude that Brian has no right to say anything about ghosts.
Roy, pick up your toys and put them back in your pram. It’s embarrassing. Brian isn’t being closed-minded, and, although I don’t speak for him as I’ve never met him and don’t know him, I’m willing to bet that he’d change his mind if evidence came along that showed ghosts existed in some way or another. Just as Sturrock is open minded, so is Cox and other skeptics too (if they’re not open minded, they’re not truly skeptical).
I should point out that I do not believe a great way of communicating with people who hold opposing belief systems is to mock them, I do not think that what Brian Cox did deserves such wide criticism. It’s barmy!
*yes, I am aware that the title of this blog post will allow people to call me a ‘nobber’, but it just gives me an excuse to judge people for using Ad homs again. Not that I need an excuse to judge them…