Goodbye DJ

I'm a huge fan of Point of Inquiry, the podcast produced by the Center for Inquiry.  Which means: I'm a huge fan of DJ Grothe.  When I listen to him, I get the feeling he agrees with everything I think. He asks exactly the questions I want him to ask. But here's the magic: probably everyone feels that way.  DJ is a former magician, so it's possible he's doing something with scarves and mirrors. But in fact, I think he creates the "sympatico illusion" by being intellectually extremely flexible.  He can speak as if having many different viewpoints.  This makes him a really good interviewer.

For a long time I've been waiting for DJ (first name basis because, after all, he and I agree on everything) to be whisked away by some big time media outlet.  Well, he got whisked away, but not my any media outlet. He's leaving PoI to be president of the James Randi Foundation.  Three interviewers are taking his place, including none other than Chris Mooney.  Yes, that Chris Mooney.  The one who criticized PZ Myers in his (and Sheril Kirshenbaum's) book Unscientific America, much to the consternation of many atheists. Now there's more consternation (also here).  Why him, of all people?

I don't share any of this consternation, but I do think we're not going to have another DJ in Chris Mooney.  Chris is a person with publicly and passionately held Views. Nuthin wrong with that, but he can't very well be a guy known for Views and create the sympatico illusion.  Well, everybody has their own strengths.  We shouldn't be expecting the new triumverate to be DJ times three.  I'll certainly keep listening, and open-mindedly, but I'm gonna miss DJ!


s. wallerstein said...

Proof-reading note: you can erase this immediately and correct your error (or leave it) and I will not feel censured: the word is "simpático". That is, with an "i", not a "y". Actually, if it's an adjective modifying "illusion", it might be "simpática", since "ilusión" in Spanish is feminine.

s. wallerstein said...

The word is "censored". I need to proof-read my own text. However, the seasons have passed, and we're all a bit older, perhaps wiser and in my case, with more aches and pains, but I cannot believe that anyone is still concerned with Chris Mooney, a person whom I had forgotten entirely. In this world there are dictators, terrorists, torture centers, factory-farms, people without healthcare, drones bombing villages in Afghanistan, mass unemployment, a failed conference on global warming in Copenhagen, and in spite of all that, Chris Mooney is still public enemy number one. Such persistence is admirable.

Jean Kazez said...

Ha--do I also need the accent on the "a"? I looked it up on "One" dictionary and I found that about 10% of dictionaries have "y" so I don't feel too horrible. I think maybe "censured" is ok there, as well as censored!

s. wallerstein said...

My dictionary says that "censor" is "to suppress free speech", while "censure" is "to criticize harshly." Perhaps "sympatico" has been incorporated into spanlish as acceptable usuage. However, I can't think of any regular Spanish word which uses "y" as a vowel in the middle of the word. Your keyboard probably doesn't contain the accent mark, but leaving out the accent mark would be considered a spelling mistake in formal Spanish writing. If you set your spelling corrector to Spanish, it will place the accents even if they don't appear on your keyboard.

Ophelia Benson said...

"I don't share any of this consternation, but I do think we're not going to have another DJ in Chris Mooney. Chris is a person with publicly and passionately held Views. Nuthin wrong with that, but he can't very well be a guy known for Views and create the sympatico illusion."

One observation, a week too late.

You say you don't share any of this consternation, which, given the link, includes mine, but in fact you do. What you say has a good deal in common with what I say - therefore you do share any of the consternation, which of course is not to say that you share all of it.

I'll spell out the part we have in common. I said:

"Mooney is...not inquiring enough. He doesn't even seem to get what it is to be inquiring - it's not his thing. His thing is advocacy. Now advocacy is very useful, and it's good that there are people who do it, but that doesn't mean they're the right people to host podcasts about inquiry. Mooney is if anything hostile to inquiry - he's a results guy. I can't see him having the right kind of curiosity and open-mindedness to do a good job with PofI."

Surely you agree that that has a good deal in common with what you said? I said Mooney is an advocate and that that's not ideal for a podcast about inquiry; you said "he can't very well be a guy known for Views and create the sympatico illusion." The points are at the very least similar.

The upshot is that you slightly misrepresent what I say, probably because you disapprove of my vehemence and of at least some of the parts that you don't share. This happened more than once in our previous discussions of this Major Issue. It's a tad galling, frankly - this faintly self-righteous display of total disavowal when in fact the disavowal is not total.

And as long as I'm making a comment on an old post anyway, I'll just say to amos: how smug. No Chris Mooney is not 'public enemy number one,' and no as a matter of fact I (for one) haven't been ignoring all other problems in the world in order to focus on Chris Mooney, so it's pretty smug of you to imply otherwise.

Jean Kazez said...

Ophelia, Yes, I agree that Chris Mooney is an "advocate," so he can't do exactly what DJ did so well. That makes me think I'm going to miss DJ, but produces no consternation. Who knows, Chris may wind up being a great interviewer, but just a very different type of interviewer. As you know, I don't have any problem with his kind of pragmatism. I am really the same kind of pragmatist--as has come out very clearly in debates I've had with "abolitionists" at this blog over the past few months.

Self-righteousness... Well, we both feel confident of our "take" on Chris Mooney. What I am confident of to the point of being willing to mock the other side is that the reaction to him is over the top. Like how about this comment from one "Hamilton Jacobi" at B&W?

"Upon browsing through the comments, a mental image began to form of Chris Mooney standing dazed in a post-war Hiroshima landscape, with tattered clothing, scorch marks on his face, and a few small brush fires in his hair. A most gratifying image, I am ashamed to admit."

This is seriously insane. Obviously, you didn't write it, and didn't write anything even close to that livid. Still, you didn't censor the guy. I think I'm entitled to shake my head once or twice.

s. wallerstein said...

Ophelia: I hadn't looked at your blog for several months because I felt that you had been unnecessarily insulting to me, even if my comments were not up to your intellectual standards. However, I followed Jean's link and read your posts for several days, before deciding to stop reading them again. I found two posts directed Chris Mooney and one against Mark Vernon, two people whom I don't know, but who
from what I read share most of my
basic ethical values, whom I would consider to be allies in most major causes. I wonder why you find it necessary to direct your intellectual acuity, razor sharp wit and mastery of the English language against two people, Vernon and Mooney, who are trying to make the world better in their own way and not against the forces that are destroying the planet, exploiting and oppressing fellow human beings or animals, or using unnecessary violence in the pursuit of their ends. If that wondering makes me smug, so be it.

Ophelia Benson said...

Aw, Jean - come on. That's not fair. Linking to a post by way of illustrating 'consternation' is linking to the post, not to a comment on the post. You know that (being a blogger yourself and all).

Play fair. I'm not saying you're not entitled to shake your head once or twice - of course! I'm saying play fair. That means not implying that I said something the opposite of what you said when I didn't - and it certainly means not pointing to a commenter who did! Mock the other side, fine, but don't do it by linking to a post of mine if what you're mocking is a comment on that post. Honor among bloggers kind of thing.

Jean Kazez said...

Ophelia, In the post I say I don't feel the consternation in the posts I linked to. The consternation was also in the comment sections. By providing the links, I was pointing to a whole debate that was going on (esp. the part where Lindsay got involved at Russell's site).

I was not at the time of the post pointing to the Hamilton Jacobi comment. In fact, that wasn't even a comment on the post I linked to. I am bringing it up now, in response to your comment that I'm self-righteous. I think that comment gives me a quick and easy way to show that reactions to Mooney are over the top. You published it and nobody criticized it...so that tells me he wasn't perceived as out of line.

Obviously, I don't really need to mention that comment to make my point that there's lots of consternation. There is--and that's just a notable example. And I don't feel it, even though I did agree with your point that Chris Mooney is partisan in a way DJ doesn't seem to be. So--right, I thought you had a point, to that extent.

Ophelia Benson said...


For the record, I didn't call you self-righteous - and I wouldn't! Not least because I don't think you are. I referred to "this faintly self-righteous display of total disavowal." Yes that's a bit provocative, but still, it refers to one incident (or perhaps set of incidents, I forget which I had in mind now), not Total Character or anything.

Anyway - DJ will be doing a podcast at JREF, so that's a big relief, I think. Not good-bye, just a different spot.

Jean Kazez said...

It's true I saw your point a bit more than I let on. Cool--I'm glad DJ will still be somewhere. He really is sort of a magician. I bet you think he agrees with everything you think. Me too. Of course, you could actually know the truth--since you've met him.

I hope you took the dog food poll. Giggle.

Ophelia Benson said...

Cackle. I knew it all along.

Actually I think DJ probably doesn't agree with everything I think, I suppose partly because I have this extra vehemence thing. Since I'm somewhat er tendentious I interpret his reasonableness as making him likely not to agree with me on everything. He's a brilliant interviewer - he made being interviewed easy, and even enjoyable.

I haven't taken the quiz yet - I'm thinking!