Only time for a brief post today, as I’m shortly off to London for some external examining in the East End.
It’s interesting that yesterday’s #SpoofJenks day generated so many contributions that the Guardian decided to get the main instigator, particle physicist Jon Butterworth, to write about it on their Science Blog. My own contribution of yesterday gets a mention there too.
I have to say I found the whole thing very amusing and wholeheartedly agree with Jon Butterworth (whose original spoof started it all off) when he explained that his primary aim was more to let off steam and less to try to persuade Simon Jenkins of the error of his ways. I felt the same way. Better to poke fun back than allow him to get to you.
I didn’t feel parody was necessary in Simon Jenkins’ case because his arguments are full of factual errors and non sequitur. In fact, it did occur to me that his piece might be deliberately ironic. Could one of the prime movers behind the Millennium Dome really be serious when he talks about the wastefulness of CERN? Perhaps he’s spoofed us all. But even that wouldn’t excuse his snide personal attack on Martin Rees.
Anyway, as you will have noticed, I just went for straight mockery and had a good half-an-hour of lunchtime fun writing it. A few people seem to have liked my piece, but at least one blogger found it “unpleasant”. You can’t win ‘em all. For what it’s worth, I still think he deserved it.
In fact, I posted a considerably less vitriolic reaction to Jenkins article on Saturday, but trying to respond in rational terms was something I found very frustrating. Only a few hundred people read this blog so it’s pretty futile to try to take on a columnist from a national newspaper that’s read by hundreds of thousands. I’m not sure he’s listening anyway, as he’s written similar drivel countless times before. Far better, in my view, to join the collective piss-taking. At least it got the Guardian interested.
Maybe after all this Jenkins will actually engage in a dialogue with scientists instead of merely insulting them? Perhaps. But I’m not holding my breath.