Final Words about the Tom Johnson Saga

Now that both Chris Mooney and Jerry Coyne have cleared up a great deal about the Tom Johnson saga, I would like to return to my post vouching for Chris on July 9.  That post led to all sorts of mayhem (here and elsewhere), so I'm going to return to the scene of the (alleged!) crime.

Here’s what I wrote in my July 9 post
It turns out that William was lying when he said Tom Johnson was one of his sock puppets.  Tom Johnson was for real, as Chris learned by checking him out thoroughly in 2009. Mooney knew then and knows now who he is, and I do too, because I've seen the correspondence and other corroborating evidence. 

Not only does Chris know the identity of Tom Johnson, but I think he's being a bit modest about what he had reason to believe in 2009.  The student provided ample well-corroborated detail that made it clear he could have witnessed just what he said he'd witnessed. Granted, "William's" credibility is zero right now, so who really knows what he witnessed? But at the time William/Tom Johnson/X sent that email, back in October 2009, his story were [sic--I must have meant "was"] believable.
I had promised not to reveal the correspondence and corroborating evidence, out of concern for the student maintaining his anonymity, so could not clarify any of this at the time.  But now it's possible to clarify, using the details covered in Chris Mooney's and Jerry Coyne's posts.

(1)  I said “Tom Johnson” was not just another sock puppet.  When the student wrote comments under the name “Tom Johnson,” he was talking about himself, and he was truthful about who he was (a scientist—which is what some science graduate students call themselves), and the things he had done (attended conservation meetings involving Baptists, etc.).  That was verifiably established in the email Chris showed me, as he reveals today.  Jerry Coyne's investigation establishes the same facts. By "other corroborating evidence" I was referring to more recent communication between Chris and the student and his adviser.  All that’s now been fully verified.

(2)   I said the email seemed to not only show that Tom Johnson was “real,” but gave well-corroborated details that certified he “could have witnessed just what he said he’d witnessed."  That’s also been fully verified.  He did attend conservation meetings involving a Baptist group. Chris provides the details about the email and Jerry Coyne's investigation shows the stuff about meetings was true. 

(3)  I was careful to say that I had no idea if the kernel of the story was true—the allegation of having witnessed atheist bad behavior at the conservation meetings.  I stressed that the student now has zero credibility, which calls into question earlier statements he made about what he'd witnessed.  We can now see the scenes of atheist nastiness were fabricated.  Nevertheless, I did not know that for sure on July 9.

A final note. Last time there was a big brouhaha here, the issues were actually pretty interesting.  All my posts about abolitionism actually engaged me and my readers in interesting topics.  This whole business has been not so interesting, and in fact a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing.  So thank goodness...we're done.

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