book reviews

Conversation with a Troll

Internet Trolls attempt to stifle dissent. It’s endemic. Let a known author disagree with anything they believe and they come after him like Daleks at Dr. Who screaming, “Exterminate!” Their hatred is blind. They even lash out at anyone who dares write a favorable review of the book.
The following is commentary I received on an Amazon review I wrote of The Kingdom Of Speech, in which Tom Wolfe cites field evidence suggesting that evolutionists and linguists are wrong about the origin of speech. ]

In the review, I say, “It is a rare quality of great writers that they give their reader understandings they never had before and cannot explain without reciting from the book.”

Conversation with a Troll Named Anonymous

Anonymous says:
“they give their reader understandings they never had before”
The correct word is “misunderstandings” of course.

[ ]

Of course Jerry Coyne is a professor emeritus of evolutionary biology at the University of Chicago.

GD Deckard says:
o-pin-ion n. 1. A belief or conclusion held with confidence but not substantiated by positive knowledge or proof.
– The American Heritage Dictionary, Fourth Edition

Anonymous says:
A silly person:
“A belief or conclusion held with confidence but not substantiated by positive knowledge or proof.”
Hilarious. Evolution – supported by overwhelming scientific evidence built up over the last 150+ years.
Science doesn’t get any better than that.

GD Deckard says:
In The Kingdom Of Speech, Tom Wolfe does not reject the generally accepted theory of evolution.

Anonymous says:
“Tom Wolfe does not reject the generally accepted theory of evolution.”
HOWEVER, he claims that humans are “special” and not like “other animals”. That’s just silly.
From the Amazon blurb: “The maestro storyteller and reporter provocatively argues that what we think we know about speech and human evolution is wrong.”
Does that properly reflect the nonsense in this book?

GD Deckard says:
I dunno, I suspect most people believe they are special compared to other animals. Given the extraordinary difference between our discussion here and any communication between animals (none ever built an Internet,) I’m not inclined to disagree with them.

True, I’d be hard pressed to argue Tom Wolfe’s assertion that human language is not the result of evolution, but rather is an artifact, what I’d call a technology (in the McLuhan sense.) But lacking the body of hard empirical science that lands spacecraft on comets to the contrary, why not? What specific evidence contradicts that assertion?

Anonymous says:
“I suspect most people believe they are special compared to other animals.”
Of course they think that. Most people are religious. So what?
“extraordinary difference”
Hilariously irrelevant of course. The point is that our capabilities have evolved as humans have evolved over the last few hundreds of thousands of years.
“True, I’d be hard pressed to argue Tom Wolfe’s assertion that human language is not the result of evolution”
In other words, HALF of his book is nonsense???
“What specific evidence contradicts that assertion?”
Hilarious. Did you read Jerry Coyne’s skewering of this nonsense? If that is correct, there is no point in trying to read this book.

GD Deckard says:
So, you really cannot cite empirical evidence to refute Tom Wolfe’s assertion that human language is not the result of biological evolution any more than is the bow & arrow? Then both sides of this debate remain open. Great 🙂 I love a spirited debate.
Thank you for taking the time to let me know what you think.

Anonymous says:
“assertion that human language is not the result of biological evolution”
Are you aware that there is a “not” in that assertion? That makes it simply a silly assertion that is laughed at and then ignored.
“I love a spirited debate.”
There is no debate. Humans are animals and evolved the intelligence and capability of speech. End of discussion.
Coyne: “Somewhere on his mission to tear down the famous, elevate the neglected outsider and hit the exclamation-point key as often as possible, Wolfe has forgotten how to think.”

GD Deckard says:
ROFL! Closed minded arguments aside, please do post here if you ever come across empirical evidence.

I couldn’t have characterized the Troll’s argument better myself. “There is no debate,” Anonymous says, “End of discussion.”


11 thoughts on “Conversation with a Troll

  1. mimispeike says:

    I understand the combative comments. The internet enables that sort of thing.

    My opinion is that speech is an evilved ability (Oops. I mean evolved, obviously. In regard to the bad-mouth web, I think I’ll leave it as is) and Wolfe probably won’t change my mind. I’m hoping he will give me something to support my theory of a super-ingenious cat learning to talk.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Pilgrims, whales and trolls | curtisbaussebooks

  3. I haven’t read the book yet.

    I don’t know if speech is evolved, but speech is not limited to humans. Horses are a herd animal, and they communicate with one another constantly. My two horses “talk” to one another all the time. Some of the talk is verbal and some is nonverbal, but it’s effective. Horses have no use for the Internet, and as far as I know do not have a written literature, so there language is not as extensive or nuanced as humans’, but it is there. I suspect that other animals have languages of their own also.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. GD Deckard says:

    The question is did human speech evolve or was it invented? I dunno.
    But as a writer, I find the thought liberating that language is not an evolved part of me like my appendix but is a tool. Evolved parts are limited to their function but tools can do anything we can imagine. I like the idea that writing is not a limited evolutionary function.
    We can write things mother nature never thought of.


  5. atthysgage says:

    Well, William Burroughs suggested that language might be a virus from outer space, so, you know, a word to the wise guy. And a few words from L. Anderson might do a world good.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. DocTom says:

    Hello GD,
    Well, I don’t think I’d call this guy so much a troll as a jerk. A troll would have heaped expletives on you (and probably had his comment deleted by Amazon).
    Without defending this person, I can probably explain him. I haven’t read Tom Wolfe’s book, but there have been numerous cases of well know authors writing books about things they really don’t have a clue about. One classic case is Carl Sandburg’s massive six volume biography of Lincoln. Well received by the public, historians generally describe it as having set back the study of Lincoln by decades. David Irving, a well received historian of World War II military tactics in the European theater later went on to become one of the world’s foremost Holocaust deniers. I often get fliers from creationists regarding conferences with lists of speakers – all of whom have Ph.D.’s, except they’re all in fields like aeronautical engineering.
    Unfortunately, many folks let their egos (which are often massive) get in their way when trying to discuss this stuff. I think that’s what this guy is doing. Following your definition of ‘opinion’, I would simply have asked if you had gone to Jerry Coyne’s web site (the link he supplied). If you replied, “No,” I would have just dropped the conversation. Instead, he decided to treat you with disdain. That was wrong.
    Look, do we have direct proof of the evolution of speech? Lacking a time machine, the answer is no. Do we have indirect proof of the development of tool use and communication among animals – yes. Behavioral Ecology and Evolution isn’t my field, and I’m really busy right now, so it would take me a couple of days or more to track down some references for you, but I will if you’d like me to.
    So like I said, if this fellow disagreed with you, he should have pursued a rational discussion. To become snarky was just egotistical and wrong – but not really troll level.

    Liked by 1 person

    • GD Deckard says:

      You are right, Doc. As a troll, Anonymous is but a jerk. The blog title is meant more as a general statement about the phenomenon itself. It doesn’t matter who writes about what. If the book is popular, it attracts trolls.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m still waiting for the endless belittling attacks on my interpretation of the nature of the pleroma in Spark. Or all those people who are bound to disagree violently with my history of flying textiles in Flight of the Wren. So far, no takers.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. GD Deckard says:

    LOL Atthys 🙂
    Seeing how “pleroma” is not in the dictionary (American Heritage, 4th edition) and most ministers are unlikely to inflict such a word upon innocent parishioners, y’re safe from troll attacks. Unless Spark becomes a best seller. Then you will be subject to endless belittling attacks from people who won’t bother to understand what you’re saying but do indeed want to bask in your radiance.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Yeah, I’m pretty safe. The pleroma in Gnosticism is the abode of the true God, the one who exists behind all of the demiurges commonly called gods. In Spark, the whole thing was portrayed, obliquely, as a star (of sorts), where all the minor Aeons meet occasionally to be absorbed into the cosmic whole. Or something like that. I daresay, out of the hundred (maybe?) or so people who have actually read the book, damn few of them paid any attention to that detail at all. But hopefully a few were intrigued. Or at least confused. I don’t ask much.

    Liked by 1 person

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