The aim of name-calling

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by Neil Godfrey

Why do some people stoop to insult when attacking mythicists? Educational psychology guides us to win over those we wish to persuade by showing them respect and using the tools of hard facts, research, and to trust the judgment of an audience to make sensible decisions once offered all the available information. That’s what makes genuine education — including public education as we encounter here online — different from propaganda.

Niels Peter Lemche was not addressing attacks on mythicism, but his criticisms of the way scholars who should know better stoop to unprofessional snide attacks against minimalists do apply nonetheless.

Some excerpts:

There are several kinds of name-calling, but in the end, they all tend to impress a readership in such a way that it will simply abstain from reading material written by members of the group characterized by the name-calling. . . .

What is the aim of this labeling? . . . .  The advice to the novice in biblical studies is never engage in any serious way in a discussion with non-conservative scholars [or mythicists]. You should just denounce them as incompetent and not worth reading and continue this tactic until people believe you. . . .

Rendsburg [substitute an appropriate anti-mythicist] is very outspoken in his efforts to ostracize the minimalists [mythicists]. It is a war cry, intending at burying his hated opponents. . . . . He is aiming at destroying the minimalists [mythicists] without ever engaging in a serious debate with them. . . .

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One thought on “The aim of name-calling”

  1. Thanks for posting this blog, Mr. Godfrey. I am reminded of several attacks against mythicist Acharya S (D.M. Murdock) by both theists and atheists. There are a few that really stand out as disturbing. I couldn’t believe it when I found out that John Loftus, of the ‘Debunking Christianity’ blog, has refused to discuss the work by Acharya S on her mythicist position because he says that Richard Carrier persuaded him not to mention it. Who else has Carrier persuaded not to mention Acharya S/Murdock?

    “Carrier has apparently been going around ever since telling people not to mention Acharya or even discuss her work at all in blogs/articles/books etc.”

    Speaking of Richard Carrier, he made egregious and sloppy errors in his criticisms in his Luxor article:

    “However, in “skimming” Brunner’s text, as he puts it, Carrier has mistakenly dealt with the substantially different Hatshepsut text (Brunner’s “IV D”), demonstrating an egregious error in garbling the cycles, when in fact we are specifically interested in the Luxor narrative (IV L)…”

    Carrier’s criticism in his Luxor article was so bad that he should apologize for it.

    Dr. James McGrath won’t discuss her work either but, I figure he’s just too much of an intellectual coward to do so. All he has to offer the mythicist debate is juvenile ridicule and derogatory remarks and total misrepresentation of mythicists, such as what’s he’s been doing with Earl Doherty’s work.

    Here we have Tim Callahan making insulting remarks:

    Skeptic Magazine Critique of Zeitgeist Part 1

    Here are some other blatant examples.

    Richard Carrier on Zeitgeist part 1

    Richard Dawkins on ZEITGEIST, Part 1

    American Atheist Plagiarizes Acharya’s Work?

    Another Nasty “Atheist Experience”

    Here we have a Christian who’s a professional historian making insulting remarks, which is addressed here Rebuttal to Dr. Chris Forbes concerning ‘Zeitgeist, Part 1’

    The new sourcebook below addresses the criticisms of the original sources in Zeitgeist part 1.

    The New Zeitgeist Part 1 Sourcebook (2010)

    “These new scholarly sources render all of the anti-Zeitgeist part 1 videos and reviews etc obsolete. The anti-ZGers and other critics will need to start all over. ” posted here

    I’m reminded of Acharya’s review of ‘Jesus: God, Man or Myth?’ by Herb Cutner:

    “Indeed, there is hardly a mythicist who has not experienced such treatment, even at the hands of other mythicists and/or freethinkers, another fact highlighted by Cutner, who shows that the early modern mythicists were viciously attacked not only by Christians but also by other “rationalists” and “freethinkers” who, in their attempts to remain “respectable” with the Christian elite, mindlessly fell in line and displayed a real lack of critical thinking. Professional jealousy also factors into this type of vitriol, as various scholars want their particular interpretation to become that which is accepted by the establishment…”

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