Long-term Comment is Free stalwart "Woolly Minded Liberal" has been banned, and his profile erased, for reasons which are far from clear and which the moderators have declined to discuss. On one thread, dozens of comments calling for Woolly's reinstatement have been deleted. All over the western world atheists are coming out of the closet and discovering that there are rather more of us than the media pretends. Good job Ariane. Good job.
Woolly could be trenchant, even downright rude, at times, and his views on such matters as ID cards were, especially given his choice of moniker, rather strange. But if occasionally predictable he was always razor-sharp and made a valuable, and valued, contribution to debates. He was at his best, perhaps, in the religion threads, where his thoroughgoing scepticism (even about the existence of Jesus) produced some lively responses. A few months ago, Atheist Bus Campaign progenitrix Ariane Sherine thanked him personally for the input he gave in developing the now famous posters.
For anyone suffering from post-Woolly withdrawal symptoms, I've cobbled together some choice Woollyisms.
On the Atheist Bus:
This is more about atheist awareness. It is still impossible to get elected in the USA unless you pretend to have an imaginary friend and its still looked down upon here. Only last year Nick Clegg provoked a media storm by not sounding sufficiently religious.
On journalistic standards:
I am currently enjoying Darrell Huff's book "How to lie with statistics" which was first published back in 1954. Its very dated in some ways, the idea of £30/week being a lot of money for a working man and the use of the word 'Negroe' for Americans with black ancestry (often only some and frequently a lot less than half) does look odd these days. But that isn't what the book is about.
What it is about is depressingly familiar to readers of Ben Goldacre's website and Saturday Guardian column Bad Science - the pisspoor state of journalism. Things were no better in the 1950s it seems, journos were lazy and innumerate back then and just as liable to strip out all meaning from any bit of science or research as they are now. They were at least as prone to sensationalism.
I had to laugh at yesterday's Guardian with its bold striking and deliberately deceptive headline bewailing a 'record fall' in house prices only to discover that it was just the biggest decline since the last one in 1991.
Plus ca change. There never was a Golden Age of responsible or professional journalism. The current generation, with certain exceptions, is it seems somewhat better than those that went before. At least the Guardian has some properly educated types who know a little about science working for it even if they are banished to the 'backwaters' of the Science section.
On the consolations of religion:
The problem is that I don't want the brain-dead rest you offer : I'd be bored in minutes. What I want can't be found in religion, it can only be found in the real world.
Woolly on Woolly:
By a happy coincidence I was thinking on the train this morning about who or what the next New Militant Atheist (CIF Faction) featured Imaginary Sky-Pixie of the week should be and was wondering about nominating myself. So many of the Deluded claim that atheism is a religion (Woolly's Law) that I think it is justified. I was thinking that we should do Richard Dawkins, maybe we will one of these days, but you've tipped the balance.
So there we have it folks, apologies to the abrupt change in the advertised batting order but this weeks Sky Pixie to be militantly disbelieved in is me : WoollyMindedLiberal. The pixie-eating Dawkins Sharks are still a bit peckish so get Disbelieving hench-atheists, militantly now.
Perhaps the mods will relent, or Woolly will sneak back under a different guise. Or perhaps not. Either way, please contribute your thoughts to the Official Heresy Corner WML memorial thread (as recommended, mirabile dictu, by the mods).
Update: You may also be interested in another Woolly-themed discussion over at CIF Refugees
All over the western world atheists are coming out of the closet and discovering that there are rather more of us than the media pretends.
Good job Ariane. Good job.Any chance of another project for Darwin's bicentenary? Something along the lines of "If you believe that evolution is only a theory then you are an idiot!"