How Not to Impose on a Complete Stranger’s Time

Method 1: Demonstrate those Napoleon Dynamite with a Mean Streak social skilz (chicks dig guys with skilz) that do so much to enamor internet atheists to Normals.

From: Socratic Forum
Sent: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 2:19 PM
To: Mark Shea
Subject: Debate Proposal– challenge!

Jersey Flight from the Socratic Forum for Thought would like to challenge Mr. Shea to a debate. Our understanding is that Mr. Shea resides in Washington?
The format of the debate would be a bit different. Short opening statements, after which the respective debaters will engage in an informal exchange.

On Wed, Sep 25, 2013 at 2:28 PM, Mark Shea wrote:
What is the debate about? With whom?

From: Socratic Forum
Sent: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 2:35 PM
To: Mark Shea
Subject: Re: Debate Proposal– challenge!

With Jersey Flight.
Topic: Does God Exist?
ii) or Is Theism Relevant?
You can listen to the last debate we sponsored here:

On Wed, Sep 25, 2013 at 3:04 PM, Mark Shea wrote:
So you want to have a debate about something you’ve already debated about?

From: Socratic Forum
Sent: Thursday, September 26, 2013 12:04 AM
To: Mark Shea
Subject: Re: Debate Proposal– challenge!

Yes. Haven’t you addressed this topic more than once? Me thinks you might be afraid?

No. Extremely busy, as grownups tend to be. And I might have done it despite my being swamped, but the grade school taunt decided me against it. Out of all the work I need to plow through, adding “Argue with some stranger who insults me” is not something I need to add to the list. Enjoy your sophomore year in high school. Hope you learn some manners.


Dear Internet Atheist: Learn from Wil Wheaton. When you ask a total stranger to drop everything he’s doing (in my case, editing a book, ghosting two others, working fitfully on a novel, maintaining two blogs and a column, as well as cranking out several other pieces each month, and working 60 hour weeks on a lot less sleep than I’d like in order to keep the wolf from the door) in order to go indulge your intellectual dilletantism for free, consider it possible that as a rational economic actor he needs to budget his time. So if you want him to carve out that time just for Extremely Special You, you had better work on those politeness skilz your mommy tried in vain to teach you. Because if you immediately suggest he’s a coward when he wonders why you want to argue about something you’ve already argued about, it’s likely he–and all Normals–will conclude that you are in gross violation of Wheaton’s law and dismiss you on the basis of not casting pearls before swine. Wheaton’s Law: Learn it. Love it. Live it.

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  • Spastic Hedgehog

    Who the blazes is Jersey Flight?

    • chezami

      Beats me.

      • John Barnes

        It’s a fiefdom in the Kingdom of Edan.

        • chezami

          I lean more toward “tennis shoe brand”.

        • King Richard

          Of course not.

    • Stu

      It’s either a dessert topping or a floor wax.

    • Stu

      Perhaps also it is the New Jersey equivalent of the X Men.

      • Tom James

        Canada has Sasquatch. Jersey just has a bunch of hairy men.

    • Joe

      Some random atheist jerk with a blog. Apparently, he likes to annoy a lot of busy people.

      And I wasted my time looking him up. 🙁

    • enness

      Snooki on a plane?
      (“I have HAD it with these…”)

  • Lee Johnson

    I have to assume that you right really really fast. I’d have told him to make me a sammich.

  • I loved the topic — “Does God exist?” An incredibly broad, wide-ranging topic that people could debate for, well, thousands of years without coming to an agreement. Maybe it’s because I tend to be more practically- than philosophically-minded, but isn’t a debate like that kind of pointless, because you could just go to the (thousands and thousands of) books on this very subject? How could you even get to all the main arguments for and against in any depth, without spending hours and hours on it, never mind the various counter-arguments?

    • chezami

      One gets the impression that the “debate” was intended as a form of Unit Cohesion Exercise.

  • Anna Dawson

    Oh man it’s good he didn’t double-dog dare you! Then he’d call you out as chicken!

  • Jersey Flight

    But ladies and gentleman I have refuted this bitter slob of a man. The only person Mark crossed ties with here was my assistant. My reply (that Mark did not post) is here:

    • Stu

      You kind of remind me of this guy. (Please address all replies to my assistant.)

    • enness

      That you thought the above would remotely help your case shows that your mini-me assistant learned from a master.

    • BobRN

      I think it a profound act of mercy that Mark didn’t post your reply. You owe him one.

    • chezami

      Klass with a capital K.

    • Joe

      Is this “assistant” a younger sibling who looks for targets to debate while while you watch TV in the basement? Or do you have multiple personalities?

  • enness


  • Paxton Reis

    Napolean Dynomite indeed… though it would have been better off to delete the inquiry so it would remain in its nothingness.

  • Elmwood

    I wonder if this guy is from New Jersey and decided to run away and recreate himself as an atheist preacher in the PNW? I think he’s under the influence of a demon, his hatred of Catholicism is palpable.

    Generally speaking, people in New Jersey are too busy with their jobs and or family and friends to go out of their way to preach atheism. This kind of thing is more common on the west coast where there is much larger counter culture.

    And these atheists wonder why they can’t meet any women.

  • Fr. Denis Lemieux

    Jersey Flight, if you are still reading this, I hope you are starting to get some glimmer of an idea that you have really made a fool of yourself in public. I read your response on your blog to this, and… well, let’s just say we’re not losing sleep here over your intellectual hegemony over us dumb Catlicks. You did give me a good laugh, though (along with the great commenters on this thread), so thanks for that, I guess.

  • Donna

    They have medicine for people like him.

  • Socratic Forum

    I’ve had the unfortunate experience of running into Jersey Flight IRL. To sum it up: he is a loser with no life. The reason he harrasses busy people is he has nothing valuable to contribute and no life, so he has a huge amount of time on his hands. If you look at his Meetup group, he post pages and pages of incoherent nonsense daily, which everyone else just ignores. He stands on street corners for hours on beautiful summer afternoons when everyone else is enjoying themselves trying to recruit people for his group. His prose and manner is full of pomposity and bombast, but this is to conceal a complete lack of substance: fundamentally his arguments are incoherent, and he lacks the capacity to think rigorously. As for being scared to debate, I have it on good authority that Jersey Flight was challenged to debate himself, but was afraid to debate because it was on a topic which required some brainpower to master.