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On Heroes and Disappointment May 28, 2013

Posted by Ubi Dubium in Events, Rants, Responses.
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It’s been a rough couple of weeks.  At WIS2, I listened with jaw-dropping disbelief as Ron Lindsay used his welcome speech to deliver a patronizing sermon to the conference participants about tone.  Much has been said about this topic (links can be found here, if you have not heard about this incident), and I’ll just say that Ron was unprofessional in the timing of that speech, and doubly unprofessional in his responses to criticism of it.  When he was confronted with the fact that his remarks were inappropriate for the time and place he gave them,  he doubled down and increased the problem, instead of apologizing.

And I recently found out (through channels that I will not specify) that a beloved community leader from my town has been arrested for molesting a 9-year-old child. I have been expecting it to be in the news, and the first mentions of it just hit the newspapers about an hour before I wrote this. This was someone I had known, not really as a friend, but perhaps as a “dear acquaintance”.  Someone whose work and enthusiasm I respected, that I would have said that I looked up to, at least until a week ago.  Crap.

I’d really like there to be people in the world that I could really consider role models.  People that I can look up to, that I can aspire to be like.  It’s not that I’d expect them to be perfect, but that their faults would not be deal-breakers.  For instance, I used to love watching The Frugal Gourmet on TV – his creativity and energy were great, and I tried lots of new foods because of him.  OK, so he didn’t like desserts, but I could forgive that.  He was wonderful, until the child-molestation charges came up.  Crap.

Or, another example, I’ve learned an enormous amount from reading books on biology by Richard Dawkins.  The God Delusion is good, but it’s not even close to The Selfish Gene for influencing the way I think about the world.  I was close to being a Dawkins fangirl, until a couple of “dear Muslima” comments at Pharyngula a couple of years ago took care of that.  I was really hoping at the time that maybe it was a troll using Dawkins’s name, trying to make him look bad.  It wasn’t.  Crap.

Robert Bakker is religious.  ThunderfOOt turned out to be a mysogynist.  Bill Maher is an anti-vaxxer.  There so many people I wish I could admire for the good work they do, but there are some things I just can’t get past.

Of course, the fact that I want something to be true has no bearing on whether it is actually true.  But this kind of thing really makes it hard to me to feel confident that I can look up to anybody as an example.  I’ve got a sour taste in my brain about humanity right now and I think I need for somebody I currently dislike to really exceed my expectations of them, to make me feel better.  (Like maybe Ken Ham could deconvert, or something.)  I’m not holding my breath.

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Comments»

1. john zande - May 28, 2013

The Selfish Gene is truly remarkable. It was my first taste of Dawkin’s (I haven’t read God Delusion) and catapulted me off in wonderful directions or thought and inquiry.

I think with the interwebs we’re exposed to an awful lot more of our “heroes” and that is not always a good thing.

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2. anglophiletoad - May 28, 2013

I feel your pain. I can’t even seem to be my own hero lately.

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3. Daz - May 28, 2013

Ben Goldacre doesn’t seem to have gone off the rails yet…

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ubi dubium - May 29, 2013

Neither have Hemant, Richard Wade or Matt Dillahunty. I had lunch with Adam Lee recently, and he’s also really great so far.

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4. muggleinconverse - May 28, 2013

This my friend, is why I dislike the concept of heroes and heroines. Sets you up to be disappointed.

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ubi dubium - May 29, 2013

There’s at least one person that I work with that I really admire, that I’ve avoided getting to know too personally. Perhaps it’s because I think that if I become too close a personal friend with them, that I’ll find out they really aren’t so great after all. Or they’ll decide that they can’t abide me anymore. From a distance it’s easier to be a fan, and there’s less of an opportunity to be disappointed.

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5. makagutu - May 28, 2013

If there is one person you still trust, that should be enough to go on. Human beings will at some point do something that will disappoint you. I admire the Buddha but he left his nursing wife and just walked. Many men in our times have done great things but we all fail.
Don’t lose hope on humanity

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