I think a couple of these posts are directed at me. I am not an
archaeologist by training, I have an MA in biology from UCLA and I covered
AIDS for Science for 7 years as backup AIDS reporter to Jon Cohen (and as
our main man in 1998 when Jon was on book leave.) I am not just
name-calling, there is considerable political substance to my critique of
your posts. They are representative of a part of the left that has
essentially crippled the effectiveness of a progressive movement in the
United States by marginalizing it, in embracing every crackpot theory from
HIV denialism to 9/11 denialism.

The charge of red-baiting is typical of the sectarian left when it is
criticized. I was part of it once so I know all the tactics.


On 2/20/07, Jonathan Campbell <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>  Michael,
>       Your name-calling is not a means of healthy debate. It is
> red-baiting, the same kind of red-baiting done by the ruling class, to
> disparage people and marginalize them. I can only guess your motives, but my
> guess would not be kind.
> Jonathan
> ----- Original Message -----
> *From:* Michael Balter <[log in to unmask]>
> *To:* [log in to unmask]
> *Sent:* Monday, February 19, 2007 5:14 AM
> *Subject:* Re: The 9/11 conspiracy virus
> Larry, since this is my second and last post of the day, I will use it to
> respond briefly to yours.
> I am not asking to reserve my right to make personal attacks on people,
> but to engage in sharp political responses to folks such as Cohen and
> Campbell. This may be interpreted by some as personal attacks, but I don't
> think they are. For example, I would like to be able to argue not just the
> detailed points about 9/11 conspiracies and HIV and HPV denial, which we
> have seen plenty of recently on this list, but about the broader issues that
> concern me most: The damage that this kind of flaky nonsense does to the
> left, its credibility, and its ability to be persuasive to others. This
> might even extend to doing something you probably would not appreciate,
> which would be to criticize WBAI and other Pacifica stations that spend a
> lot of air time on this kind of nonsense (especially 9/11) and thus limit
> their audiences to a fairly small number of true believers in many cases
> (the audience for these stations has not grown, and I think the wrong side
> won in the Pacifica wars. That is not going to be popular with some people
> here, such as yourself, and it may be taken as a personal attack, but it's
> not.)
> So while requests to keep the number of posts down seem reasonable to me,
> attempts to censor, inhibit, restrict, or otherwise limit political
> expression seem unhealthy and unwise. I never said that Mitchel Cohen or
> Jonathan Campbell were ugly or stupid or had bad breath, because I have
> never met them. Those would be personal attacks. But do I think their HIV
> denialism is a sign of clueless, knee-jerk, stereotypical, infantile leftism
> on their part? Yes I do. That is a political statement, or a political
> attack if you like. Perfectly legitimate.
> best, Michael
> On 2/19/07, Larry Romsted <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> >
> > Michael:
> >
> > I doubt that the two sides in this potential debate will convince each
> > other—at least immediately.  The people you want to reach are those of us
> > who are just reading (the email equivalent of listening quietly because we
> > may do not know much).
> >
> > So, if you want to reach me, for example, appeals to authority will not
> > help because I will probably not know who they are.  Likewise, personal
> > attacks will not help because I will not get the reasons for the personal
> > attack.  In that sense a personal attack is like raising your voice in an
> > argument to try to convince the other person when they are not convinced by
> > your more measured presentation.
> >
> > However, I will understand discussion about a critique of the basic
> > assumptions behind the referenced paper, especially if I have time to read
> > it.  A critique of basic assumptions gets at the politics.  Politics may be
> > in part about polemics, but I will not be convince by polemics that are
> > without substance.  It is, again, like raising your voice.
> >
> > I also know that sometimes words I write that I think are descriptive
> > others feel are personal attacks.  Tough to express feelings in a written
> > messages to a diverse audience.
> >
> > Do not know if I am typical of the readers of this list, but that is my
> > perspective.
> >
> > I have participated in fierce email exchanges and I know how useless
> > they are because the rest of the list appears to be using their delete keys.
> >  (If they do not participate, one is never quite sure.)
> >
> > Larry Romsted
> >
> >
> > On 2/19/07 12:36 AM, "Michael Balter" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> >
> > "that all comments regarding this particular discussion (the so-called
> > "anti-science left") be restricted to valid critiques of the articles
> > (scientific analysis) rather than broad-based attacks on the authors or
> > their supporters."
> >
> > For the reasons I outlined in my post yesterday, I think that this
> > particular restriction would basically take the politics out of political
> > discussions of science. In the example of 9/11 conspiracy theories, it would
> > require posters to disprove the theory point by point and could disallow
> > comment on the politics and psychology behind these theories; same with HIV
> > denialism. Politics is about polemics and analysis, and sometimes broader
> > interpretations--some would call them attacks--are necessary.
> >
> > Michael
> >
> > On 2/19/07, *Jonathan Campbell* <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> >
> > George,
> >
> >      I didn't pay enough attention to that aspect of Jose's proposal; I
> > interpreted it as the people who comment would be doing so with the intent
> > of critique of the article rather than the person who wrote it. That is,
> > comments like "xxx is a known quack" would be disallowed as part of the
> > discussion because it does not relate to the article at hand. But now that I
> > look at the wording more carefully I agree with you, and I would propose, in
> > substitution, that all comments regarding this particular discussion (the
> > so-called "anti-science left") be restricted to valid critiques of the
> > articles (scientific analysis) rather than broad-based attacks on the
> > authors or their supporters.
> >
> > Kind Regards
> > Jonathan
> >
> >
> > ----- Original Message -----
> >
> > *From:*  George  Salzman <mailto:[log in to unmask]><[log in to unmask]>
> >
> > *To:* [log in to unmask]
> >
> > *Sent:* Sunday, February 18, 2007 9:01  PM
> >
> > *Subject:* Re: The 9/11 conspiracy  virus
> >
> >
> > Hi José,
> >       I realize you  proposed some rules in an attempt to resolve
> > disagreements. *A priori*  not a bad idea, *if the rules are not rigid*.
> > One of the things you wrote  is: " I say that we agree up front that the
> > people who choose to participate  speak for the whole list.  Anyone who
> > disagrees, say so up front.   No second guessers."
> >       To me that's  unacceptable. Only I can speak for myself. And
> > whether or not others on the  listserv answer you is irrelevant, because no
> > mature person can willingly  surrender the right to speak for  him/herself.
> > Sincerely,
> > *George
> > *
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> --
> ******************************************
> Michael Balter
> Contributing Correspondent, Science
> [log in to unmask]
> ******************************************


Michael Balter
Contributing Correspondent, Science
[log in to unmask]