My First Troll. Yay!!!

Hey there every peoples!

Long time no see. So what’s my excuse this time? Just the usual this time a year: Live Oak music Festival (our 13th year going and volunteering), the Fourth of July, and then just lots of other little stuff. But the good news is I finally managed to get my hands on a voice-recognition program! I was able to find one on Amazon for only $40. This is my first time trying it out so hopefully this will really help improve my typing so I can get these posts to you guys on a more regular basis (like I used to when I first started). But enough about me, today’s post is about someone special. Well he may not be so special when you consider the nature of the Internet but for me he kind of is special. It seems my blog is really coming along. In the roughly 2 1/2 years I’ve been running it I’ve somehow garnered over 30,000 views. I have had many people, some who I never met before, tell me that they liked it. And it seems my blog has taken just one more step to towards… bloghood (yeah, let’s just go with that for now). You see ladies and gentlemen, I have gotten my very first troll!

But who is this troll you may ask? Well do you remember a little blog post I wrote called the “Tragedy of Lone Star”? In case you haven’t here is the gist of it: I chronicled the unfortunate journey of a large mastodon skull found in Texas from a gravel pit to a garage and into the hands of a creationist who then put it up for auction to pay off some debts. Well it seems this creationist has found my post and he was not very happy. He left several comments that amounted to little more than inane vitriol and mudslinging tirades without anything really sustentative. I will admit some of his words did sting me. Half a year ago I probably would’ve curled up in a ball hoping I would die, thinking myself some kind of epic failure. But not this time. I have the tools and the people to help me in my battle against the Noonday Demon. And because of them I am not as weak as I used to be. Which means instead of getting depressed about this single man’s harsh words, I will treat him as all trolls should be treated: by tackling the problem head-on and tearing his idiotic screeds to shreds. In essence there are quite a few doozies so we best dive right in.

Hey there whoever you are,

I am Ripper, Tearer, Slasher, Gouger!  I am the teeth to the darkness, the talons in the night! Mine is strength, and lust, and power! I AM BEOWULF! Sorry sorry I just couldn’t resist.

I went between laughing and being mad at your drivvle about the Lone Star mastodon.

Well I do to make people laugh when I can. Calling my stuff drivel, eh? Gee, I must’ve struck a nerve!

You should have invested a little effort in fact-checking. Too chicken to call the person you’re trying to villanize? Most of you armchair fossil lovers are.

What can I say, I did the best I could. Not only did I read several news articles containing direct quotes from him and other folks involved in the whole debacle but I also did go through the little PDF pamphlet that he printed to go along with the skull. I mean yeah perhaps I could’ve called him but let’s face it I was writing a blog post, not an article from major news outlet. Besides, the stuff from the pamphlet as well as… well,  pretty much anything on his website makes it perfectly clear that Joe Taylor is a creationist. Maybe I didn’t call him out of fear that he probably would have dragged the conversation into another debate over evolution. As we all know creationists never have anything new to offer the debate; so calling him and getting bogged down in a pointless argument would’ve been a waste time. And the comment about being “chicken” and an “armchair fossil lover” is just him puffing up his chest trying to sound all big and tough.

Are you too lazy to go work like Mike and I did?

Just a basic ad hominem attack. This shows that this Joe Taylor guy doesn’t know me. But if he bothered to read over my blog he would have known that I’m not in the field not because I’m lazy but because I really don’t have that much opportunity at the moment. A lot of people who are interested in paleontology don’t do all the work that professional paleontologists do because a lot of them don’t really live near a major museum. So you see Joe it’s not laziness, it’s just a lack of resources not specific to me.

And your whining about other people finding fossils you should have…?? LOL!

That’s mischaracterization and I guess “whining” qualifies as ad hominem. Nowhere in my post did I say that I, the Central Coast Paleontologist, had to have the skull or other fossils that I “whine” about. I simply argue that the skull should’ve been in a museum. In fact, since I’m such an advocate of local fossils staying local, I’d say the skull should’ve stayed in a Texas Museum. We are only halfway through the comment and Joe is already showing how intellectually bankrupt his argument is by relying on such fallacies as name-calling, strawmen, and as we will soon find out, flat out lying.

You live in California idiot. Fossils are everywhere! Get out of your baby chair and go find some. Grow up.

Add “Idiot” and “baby chair” to the ad hominem tally. I know that there are fossils everywhere (that word… so right and yet so wrong). Believe me. I’ve been trying my damnedest to go out and find fossils. But it’s not as easy as Joe apparently thinks it is. For starters I’m just a college student. I don’t have near enough money to fund some of the major excavations that museums undertake. Furthermore I don’t always have the time to go out and look for stuff usually because I’m busy with school. But I would say that the biggest hurdle is probably the most obvious (well maybe not to Joe). Go over to the Hit List and look at all the places hope to search someday. What do they all have in common? All of them (or at least the greater majority) are on government lands. You need a permit just to go out and look for stuff. In order to actually dig up fossils and move them out, you need a detailed curation plan. That requires a museum (as does the provision that the specimens must go to an approved repository). I doubt that I could just get a space over at the storage facility and have the government except that as a suitable repository for fossils. So until I can get my own building somewhere, invertebrates and plants are about all I can collect. Considering that I want to be a scientist and even open my own museum means I have to do everything right. And that means setting up a proper repository before I can actually go find vertebrate fossils.

Quit wasting your time in school and go to work for a real museum like I did and learn bones from the atheist evolutionists like I did.

Uh, did he just tell me to stop “wasting time” with school? Sure I’ve had trouble with school and had been there longer then I probably should’ve been. But I don’t want to just dig up fossils. I want to teach people about them I want to even study them and try to learn their secrets. Sure there one, maybe two, self-taught paleontologists out there. But I’m not them. If I want to fulfill my lifelong dream of becoming a paleontologist and opening my own museum I need an education. And as I noted above I don’t exactly have the resources to just dive in and work with fossils. Tthe biggest museum on the Central Coast (actually the biggest museum between Los Angeles and San Francisco) barely has a paleontology collection to speak of. It doesn’t have a paleontology curator and thus their paleontology program is nonexistent. I did volunteer for one summer in 2008 helping them work on their newfound mammoth. The last couple of years I went on those field trips to Red Rock Canyon with the LA Museum (last year I found a camel ulna). I have also gone on those paleontology and geology field trips to the San Bernardino County Museum. Plain and simple, I’m doing the best I can with what’s available to me. Since he takes the time to brand paleontologists as “atheist evolutionists”, Joe reveals yet again that he’s a creationist who is interested in fossils for religious interests, not scientific ones. But more on that later.

You guys are so “brave on the web” and gutless in person

Just more of Joe trying to sound like such a big  bad man. And again he doesn’t even know me.

Come to my museum and see what we do with fossils

One: your website makes clear what you guys do with fossils. You try to use them as props in your failing effort to prove an ancient myth. Two: I live in California and your museum is in Texas. How do you propose I get there, use the Tardus? Even if I did have the means to visit your museum I wouldn’t. Creationists use the same tired old arguments over and over and over so visiting his place wouldn’t offer me anything new or challenging. Besides there are so many real museums east of the Rockies  I could visit instead. Like the Burpee Museum of Natural History in Rockford, Illinois. Or the fabulous new Paleontology Hall that just opened up at the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences. I loved the Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, North Carolina. And of course there’s the Smithsonian’s legendary National Museum of Natural History. So can someone please explain why I should forego all of these just to visit his podunk little shrine to pseudoscience?

Or maybe you don’t really have any passion for fossils, you just like to throw rocks from a safe distance.

Yet more mindless ad hominem attacks. There are plenty of people out there (some of them professional paleontologists) who can attest to my passion for fossils.

Your article was disgusting. You have the book I did on Lone Star, my contact info is in there, give me a call. I don’t bite.

Why? At the moment I have absolutely no reason to call him. Especially considering this guy is willing to distort science for Jesus.

All right on the second comment:

Hey Paleoblogger, why don’t you invest some time in Mexico. There are so many mammoth remains there that one top secular, evolutionist paleontologist whom you would accept said to me that, in Mexico, “You have to dig through the mammoths to get to the dinosaurs.” And since no one can sell the bones, those “evil” commercial guys won’t be digging there and upsetting you.

Why don’t I invest time in Mexico? The same reasons I listed above: I don’t have the resources and unless he’s referring to Baja, it’s simply not a place I want to prospect. I’m interested in fossils of the American West; Joe would’ve known that if he bothered doing his research. And again he has to note that a paleontologist is secular and “evolutionist” (as if that pathetic label had any actual bearing on the situation). But moving to Mexico to do paleontology wouldn’t really solve the problem. I mean there’d still be people selling fossils up in the states. Running from a problem never solves anything.

This one was in response to a comment someone left on the original Lone Star entry:

Asbet: What “mistreatment are you talking about? The mastodon skull is in a museum. I didn’t get one penny from its sale. Would you have cried if you saw the skull laying on a cement floor broken up? Or scooped up and stored in some garage where no one would see it? What is so horrible about a beautiful and important skull being thoroughly studied, documented and restored and made available to the public? Was it horrible that good casts were sent to other museums for kids to see? You need to get your info from the source and not some wannabe paleo blogger. You have a personal invitation to my museum and a personal tour of what we do.

And what museum might that be Joe? In addition to being a creationist Joe apparently has terrible reading comprehension. In my original entry I stated that I had contacted  both the auction house and Joe Taylor and they both told me that the skull ended up at a private museum in New Mexico off view to the public. So the fact that the skull ended up in a private museum (as stated by both the auction house and the guy who hocked it) automatically refutes his claim that the skull is available to the public. And studied and documented? How? I scoured Google scholar and found absolutely no papers even mentioning this specimen. And yes it was thoroughly restored but that’s the problem. Restoration is only done for exhibits and even then it’s nowhere near the extent that Joe did. That is because museums want people to appreciate the original fossil, to be able to see the original material. For fucks sake, judging from the photos Lone Star is covered in so much makeup that you can’t tell what the real fossil is and what isn’t. But probably the biggest problem Joe has with this little tirade is he’s not being specific. He’s not saying what museum the skull ended up then. He’s not saying this study and documentation is. He’s not saying which museums the casts went to. I can’t help but feel like he’s leaving out the specific details because he doesn’t want anyone following up on them to see if they’re true or not.

And now for the grand finale: comment number four:

Kenneth: can you name any paleontologists whom you accept who work for free? I know numerous real paleontologists, many are atheists and evolutionists, and ALL of them work for money, and if they didn’t sell their time working on fossils they would have to get a job that did pay. From your self-descripytion, you are not a Christian but an evolutionist. The two are not compatible. You and your paleo blogger, here, are ignorant. You too have a personal invitation from me — the guy who saved Lone Star from remaining obscure — to come tour my museum and see what we actually do here.

His screed about paleontologists working for money is a red herring. Paleontologists work out of a passion for discovery, learning, and helping us understand the world around us. Besides, paleontologists don’t make that much. In fact, all those paleontologists working at museums usually teach at the local college as well to help pay the bills. Paleontologists have told me that this is a science that you have to really love to participate in because the pay aint so great. So what if they get paid. Have you seen the society we live in? People need money just to be able to live. Just because paleontologists get paid for doing their job doesn’t mean that they are in it solely for the money. And last I checked, they weren’t auctioning off priceless fossils to dig themselves out of a hole. Also note how Joe says that Kenneth is not a Christian. This is what’s known as the No True Scotsman fallacy. It’s a favorite of creationists. When a Christian doesn’t follow a creationist’s ultra literal interpretation of the Bible, they are labeled as not being a Christian. Even if they still believe in God, read the Bible, and go to church. You know everything that makes a Christian a Christian. It just demonstrates yet again how intellectually bankrupt creationists are. It shows just how narrow minded and dogmatic they are. There is no middle ground. There is no other side of the issue. It’s just their fanatical interpretation of the Bible and nothing else. If you don’t think exactly like they do you are the enemy.

And lastly yes, you did save Lone Star from obscurity. In the worst way possible way! Lone Star only got a brief spat of fame because you decided to sell him to save your own ass. He was remembered because he was being labeled as 40,000 years old by someone who thinks the age of the earth is only 6000. Once the terrible deed was done, he vanished back into obscurity. I have scoured the internet and have found no trace of Lone Star. No scientific papers, no museum pages, and only news articles from the time he was auctioned. Nothing else exists. If Lone Star was in a public museum they would have a page about him. Considering he’s possibly the biggest mastodon ever found, I’m pretty sure a museum would be really proud of that. Even if it was a cast their website would say something. When I type “Lone Star” mastodon into Google, I find nothing. This only confirms what Joe and the auction house had originally told me: that lone Star ended up in some private museum away from the world. So when Joe says that Lone Star is in the museum being studied and enjoyed by the public, and that there are casts that other museums, either he is straight up lying or there is something he is leaving out. Science demands repeatability, the ability to go back and check someone else’s work to see if it was right or not. Since Joe’s comments cannot be verified (because he won’t give the names of the museums or the papers that included research on the skull) it is incredibly difficult to take him at his word. Who knows: the world may never see Lone Star again.

Plain and simple, this is just some guy who got upset because someone called him out on his bullshit. He lashes out with name-calling and logical fallacies in hopes that his pathetic attempt at bullying will shut me up or cause people to take him seriously. There is nothing about this guy to take seriously. Not only did he sell a valuable fossil, but he is also a creationist. Believing all science to be flawed, he attempts to use fossils to prop up his fragile faith in a Bronze Age myth. As a creationist, he distorts the facts and promotes forgeries in a demented caricature of what science actually does. There are no free spots in the market place of ideas. If you want a spot, you have to be able to stand up to rigorous testing and scientific scrutiny. Creationism fails to fulful either and yet it’s proponants (like Joe) demand it be put on the same level as evolution or or geology, or any other facet of scientific fact.  Creationists don’t want to teach people about the world and how it came to be. The only wants to sell a very narrow minded, ill-informed version of history and justify it by calling it God’s work. Joe is not a paleontologist but a religious zealot. And it is for this reason that his childish words and macho posturing does not faze me in the slightest. It is merely water over a ducks back for I know in my heart that I’m on the right side of the debate. That is the side that sees fossils like Lone Star as valuable clues to the riddle of our past and not as cash cows or trinkets claimed to support a failed ideology.

Till next time!

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