Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Confessions of a stupid bitch

A while ago, a friend shared an opinion piece on Facebook positing the right to comment on what you think was the gist of an article, even you didn't have time to read it, tl;dr;ca (too long; didn't read; commented anyway). It was tongue-in-cheek, but was seriously arguing that this was okay because you are creating your own interpretation of what the piece said, or didn't say, as the case may be. I suppose it was a postmodernist kind of argument. I am not a postmodernist, and I didn't like that post, in either the usual sense or in the Facebook one. I don't think my friend was actually advocating that position...I hope.

To me, there's no excuse for incivility, but even less so if you haven't bothered to read what you're attacking. Perhaps there should be a Godwin's law-like rule for the inverse relationship between the amount a poster has read of what they're commenting on and the quantity of invective they spew. Let's call it Savage's law for now.

In this scheme, the woman who labeled as bogus Claire Wineland's story of her own version of a coma-dream had read only a portion of the article or watched parts of Claire's video before her blinkered mind said, "No way!" If she was especially closed minded, it's possible that she read the entire article, watched the video, and still couldn't accept the idea of Claire's mind translating the ice treatments for her fever into an Alaskan landscape. I had ice treatments too. The only reason I didn't mention the ice packs as another potential source of my ice cream-related coma-dreams in my Skeptical Inquirer article was I didn't know about it then.

The woman who said of my coma-dream, "Didn't experience anything so stupid as this bitch's overactive imagination," clearly got no further than the phrase "near-death experience." She thought I was claiming to have seen Heaven, but had no idea that I had actually said that I didn't see angels or dead relatives precisely because I'm an atheist. Yet she felt perfectly entitled to call my story stupid and label me a bitch.

It's hard to say how much the guy who said of my story, "Does anyone really believe this shit?" had read. Did he even get past the title or only a single word? He refused to name what part of my story he disbelieved. Was "this shit" the story as told in the VICE interview or my article? Or both? Was it stupid and did he also think I'm a bitch? And if it was shit, it was almost certainly bogus, as well. Perhaps it was all of the above.

Yes, these are the same examples I used in my last post. And you may be thinking that these are relatively mild considering the bile often dished out online. But I'm new to being a semi-public figure, and I imagine this is barely a taste of what's to come. I can't help wondering, if this is a form of postmodern online argument, will post-post-post modern online debate bring rational discourse or will it make us envy Socrates his cup of hemlock?


  1. Why bother reading everything when we don't have enough time to make informed decisions and can just drop nasty comments that we believe others will see as witty.

    1. I agree. It's too much trouble to read it yourself and decide if it merits your venom, when you could simply move on and strike elsewhere. So many targets, so little time! ;-)

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Coma Girl

Coma Girl

Not a miracle recovery, but a miracle of modern medicine

In 2013 I fell into a six-week coma and nearly died after I contracted legionella. The Legionnaire's disease was in turn triggered by immunosuppression caused by the prednisone I was taking for my rare autoimmune disease, dermatomyositis.

I suffered a series of strokes on both sides of my brain when the sepsis caused my blood pressure to plummet. I fell into a deep coma. My kidneys and lungs began to fail, as my body was began dying one organ at a time. My doctors told my loved ones to give up hope for my full recovery. They expected me to die, and even if I somehow lived, I would remain a vegetable or at best left so hopelessly brain-damaged that I would never be same. But unbeknownst to them, while they were shining lights in my eyes and shaking their heads, I was telling them in my coma-dream--my secular version of a near-death experience--to leave me alone because I was trying to get back to sleep. I was experiencing what is known as covert cognition, the subject of my Skeptical Inquirer article "Covert Cognition: My So-Called Near-Death Experience," which appeared in their July/August issue.

But it wasn't a miracle--despite what so many continue to believe--that I recovered so fully. I owe my life not to God, but the miracles of modern medicine, as well as the nature of the watershed-area brain damage I suffered, as I detailed in my article and in this blog.