Monday, July 08, 2013

Derek Walsh of Atheist Ireland on EWTS2013

All the talks are now up and nicely indexed. A couple of blogs that covered the conference are also mentioned.  I highly recommend watching the talks.  One was a bit rambly and far too long, but made some important points. All the rest were pithy, on-topic and entertaining.  There was a mixture of fire and thoughtfulness; humour and anger; intellectualism and emotion.  The panels were all carefully put together and the audience participation was interesting and relevant.

I’m less enthusiastic than Walsh about Justin Vacula’s livetweeting.  Although his output was prodigious, it seemed disingenuous to say the least. For instance, he posted 20-30 tweets during most talks and then in others – most notably Ophelia Benson’s and those of other speakers he dislikes – he posted only one or two.  Even those tweets almost pathologically failed to capture the salient points of the talks. It was as though he didn’t want to give those speakers credit for their excellent talks, enlightened views or well-crafted arguments. That’s Vacula’s choice, of course and he certainly did get a lot of good information about the conference out there.  I just wish he’d been a bit more honest.


  1. I wonder if Justin refrained from posting as much during certain talks not because he dislikes the speakers but because he did not want to be accused of any malice.He would risk being called a stalker by Ophelia who has demanded certain people not mention her name, including Justin. How in this case is it being dishonest to keep quiet? If you were unhappy about the amount/type of tweets Ophelia Benson and others were getting then you should have got on twitter and shared your awe of those presentations with the masses. I don't understand your point in saying "That's Vacula's choice" and then criticizing him for making a choice that you yourself just said was his to make.

  2. Well, we're both speculating at this point, so your guess is as good as mine. Who knows, maybe he just got tired.

    It might be worth noting, though, that shortly after the couple of niggardly tweets he posted about Ophelia, he posted one explaining that he didn't necessarily agree with the quotes he was tweeting. Or it might not be, the timing could be coincidental, I guess. Either way, the coverage seemed dishonest to me, but I could be wrong. Perhaps Vacula will clarify at some point. A couple of points about your comment:

    1. It is ridiculous to suggest that Ophelia has demanded that anyone not mention her name. That is pure fabrication.

    2. Even if Ophelia had done that, not reporting what she said would still be a little dishonest since Vacula seemed to try to portray himself as a sort of semi-official reporter. But she didn't say that.

    3. I wasn't unhappy about the number of tweets Ophelia etc. got, I was a little unhappy that Vacula posted enormously fewer tweets about some speakers compared to others and seemed to misrepresent the main points of some talks. He can tweet or not tweet whatever he likes, but it doesn't seem honest.

    4. I wasn't in awe of the presentations. I enjoyed them. Don't try to paint me as a mindless follower.

    5. It was Vacula's decision and I support his right to it, but it doesn't mean I have to like it. People are also free to be racist or sexist. I support their right to freedom of thought and speech, but I still criticise them. I have no desire to control what people think, say or do, but I use my right to criticise people who use their own rights to say and do stupid shit. What's to misunderstand?

  3. Someone from the Slympit said this:

    "I've done a quick check.
    You [Vacula] tweeted 8 times during Benson's panel talk (which was, I think about 10 minutes) and also 3 times for her answers during the Q&A.
    That frequency was similar to your tweets on the other speakers (some you tweeted a little more often, and some less)
    There was absolutely nothing that stood out about your tweets on Ophelia's talk.

    I suspect that Latsot is lying because he realizes nobody will check (or if anyone checks they will not mention it because that would mean pointing out his lies and therefore taking the wrong side of the war)

    The other possibility is that he was using oolons blockbot hash spam killer which would have made most of your tweets invisible - apart from those retweeted by other people at the conference.
    In which case Latsot is an idiot.

    So it's either liar or idiot."

    Only 2 tweets showed up while I was watching during the talk. Twitter was behaving a little oddly though and there were lots of double posts and missing posts. Perhaps something like that happened. If so, I take it back, I'll try to find time to check it out.

    I don't see that I'm either liar or idiot though. I wasn't using the blockbot and I always welcome people checking facts, even if they prove me wrong.

    There's another possibility: I was wrong. I've been wrong before. At the time, I counted exactly 2 posts about Ophelia's talk during and about an hour after that talk. Perhaps more turned up later that for whatever reason I couldn't see at the time, but I didn't see them.

    If I'm wrong and Vacula accurately reported Ophelia's talk, then I'll apologise without caveat.