Back when I first started Twitter, I wanted to share pictures of my toy soldiers, chat about fun things like movies and art and all that sort of stuff. I wanted to play, frolic if you will, across the twitter landscape.
What happened was more like war. No, how dare you call me an argumentative and aggressive prick, I’ll cut your eyes out if you say that again.
If you’re anything like me, you have a knee jerk reaction to call anyone who says stupid things stupid. Well, you’re in good company so settle down with a brandy (no, not @xboshi) as I chat with @TheoryFail, one of Twitters Big Game Hunters of pig shit ignorance.
@TheroryFail would of course disavow himself of that description. ‘I’m a lazy idiot,’ he says, ‘I’m a socially awkward standard nerd, with an interest in guitars, beer and science. I probably should get out more, but the sofa is really comfy.’
However, he has considered expanding. He contributes to the blog https://takethisskepticalblog.wordpress.com/ and ‘there has been talk of myself and @TakeThatDarwin producing a podcast. I’d like to do something that would involve talking to the people that follow me.’
Have you any podcast recommendations?
‘I can really recommend Skeptics with a K and the Skeptics Guide to the Universe (which has really picked up since Cara Santa Maria joined). I also love Sawbones, which is a medical based podcast, and 99% Invisible.’ I’ve always be partial to Welcome To The Night Veil myself.
@TakethatDarwin is in fact one of the main reasons @TheoryFail started his account. ‘I blame him for everything. I was one of his first few followers with my ‘real’ account, and thought I could do what he was going for with a bit of a twist. I’m interested in science denialism in general, and I’d consider myself a scientific sceptic. I’m also a secular humanist, so I feel that exposing creationist thinking is important.’
(The godfather of our pain)
I couldn’t agree more; I’m currently embroiled in a back and forth with a chap who seems to think that giants have been taken out of the history books and that the guv’ment are mind controlling everyone to think conspiracy theorists are bad. I’m not sure if I should lay the blame for this at @TheoryFail’s feet or not.
But enough about me, who would you recommend following on Twitter?
‘Everyone should be following @TakeThatDarwin and @tattoosandbones. They’re the guys who really helped me when I first started. @anarchic_teapot is worth a follow for the great work (s)he puts into fighting Twitter idiocy. From the UK sceptic community, I really recommend @MrMMarsh and @_JosephineJones who work for the Good Thinking Society which is a charity to promote rational thinking. Oh, and @TheHevo, who’s a good friend and a lovely chap. I’m fortunate enough to have a few great scientists and science communicators follow me. They bring up some amazing titbits that I’d definitely miss otherwise.’
Any particularly memorable tweets?
‘So many. I got caught up in the Curt Schilling/Keith Law evolution twitter argument, and when Cosmos first aired, Twitter went crazy. My favourite conversations tend to be with the atheists who assume that I’m a creationist, though. So much aggression coming out of atheist Twitter. It’s a bad thing at times.’
Our community has trouble, I think, when it comes to productive dialogues with the religious. Perhaps it stems from atheists innate desire to be non-conformists or our anti-authoritarian streak? Either way, ‘lol, der no God’ has become the standard statement thrown out by the younger members of our confraternity. I remember the schism Youtube atheism caused between the Christian and the atheist vloggers in the early part of this century and the rise of the Fedora Wars.
(Artists interpretation of our great tragedy)
Have you learned any major life lessons from the experience of running your Twitter?
‘Never underestimate the ability of people to live with their own cognitive dissonance. That and a shit load of science.’
As far as I’m concerned, that’s a win.
‘I decided a long time ago that on the whole, the people I retweet aren’t going to change their minds about evolution. They either don’t understand the evidence, or don’t want to. This is fine. What I want to do is expose the poor critical thinking of the creationists I see and show how good science and the scientific method can be. And meet come interesting people on the way.’ Oh you *Blush*.
(Me and Theory being new besties)
As we draw to a close and I do the traditional charity plug, I want you to think about what @TheoryFail is doing. As he said, he’s not trying to change minds, he’s trying to show people the value of critical analysis. In more recent years I’ve been seeing a greater and greater need for people, especially the young, to critically evaluate what they are being told. I won’t name any names or point any fingers, but Advertising Real Does Matter.
So, @TheoryFail, what is your favourite charity?
That’s all we have time for folks, but join me later when I’ll be talking to someone who gives me fanboi tingles all up in my delicates.