Polymaths, Pomposity, Pettiness, Pride, and Projection
Catholic writer and elitist (not pop!) apologist Scott Eric Alt-Left ridiculously claimed in a hit-piece on his blog, dated 10-6-21 (later removed in the dark of night on 10-23-21) that I rarely if ever admit I’m mistaken or wrong about anything. He had even temporarily classified me in his indices for article categories, under “Blind Guides & False Prophets.” Other luminaries whom he places under this category include Taylor Marshall, Peter Kwasniewski, Steve Skojec, Cardinal Burke, Bishop Athanasius Schneider, and Archbishop Viganò: all radical Catholic reactionaries: and all folks that Alt-Universe knows full well that I criticize far more than he does himself. Yet I was lumped in together with them.
So now I will document that this supposed intransigence regarding ever admitting that was wrong is a lie, which is super-easy to do with the search engine on my blog. It’s good to do because this is one of the lies about me that I hear frequently from those predisposed to despise me, and I have had enough of it. Facts are facts. And lies are lies. It’s easy as pie for someone to throw out ludicrous accusations about someone, without anywhere near sufficient documentation about the alleged severe character fault. And as I have explained, this harms my apostolate and my name and reputation: all of which I will defend against scurrilous lies.
Note: one of the lies circulating about me is that I have contended that Alt-Left is theologically liberal or heterodox or dissident. I have never said any such thing: not the slightest hint or insinuation or implication or even thought in my own head ever. The same is true as regards Mark Shea, by the way. I recently reiterated both things on Shea’s Facebook page. But I wanted to get this “on the record” on my blog. As far as I can tell, and by his own report, Alt is perfectly orthodox.
“Alt-Left” is a pointed satirical comment on his political views only. I recently tried to explain that to Alt, too (clue: it’s not saying he is a leftist per se; it’s a double play-on-words: on his name and “alt-right”), but all I got back was being called a “liar” and being full of [manure], etc. It was all on Shea’s Facebook page a few days ago [I write this on 10-8-21], lest anyone doubt it (and if it wasn’t removed). Oh well, I tried. That’s all one can do.
My Odyssey from Evangelicalism to Catholicism [title] (9 December 1990 / revised: July 1992 / expanded: 1993)
Martin Luther: Beyond Mythology to Historical Fact [14 January 1991; was once posted as an online paper, but eventually taken down, as I learned more and more about Luther and honed or revised several of my opinions; . . .]
I apologize upfront for any excess of language or undue judgment or rashness. (8-22-00)
I have, therefore, modified my opinion of the strength of this proof text for the eternal existence of Jesus. (11-3-03)
Note: this was written in 1992. I’ve learned tons of things about Martin Luther since that time; even in just the last few years, as I continue to do further research and reading. In several cases, I have changed my opinion on particular elements of his beliefs and behavior. Thus, I wouldn’t express several things in this article the way I did then, and I’ve discovered one definite inaccuracy; see the next note below. I have kept this article online, listed on my “Resume” because it was my first published article. But I don’t list it on my Luther web page, due to its outdated nature and relative lack of documentation. At the time I wrote it (before I was even online), I didn’t have nearly the resources available to me that I now have. (5-27-04)
One may indeed question the criteria by which “denomination” was defined. This ultimately led to my own skeptical position, and caused me to change my opinion only a short while after I wrote my paper, upon further reflection (and to remove the paper from my website). Strangely enough, one person who helped convince me to change my mind was the anti-Catholic Eric Svendsen (who despises my work and thinks little of me even on a personal level). But I don’t care where truth comes from: truth is truth. Eric made a good argument, that I found compelling. (9-4-04)
My first paper on Luther dates from 1991. Needless to say, I have learned a great deal about Luther since that time (anyone can see how much I have written about him, including now two books [one / two]) and have refined many of my opinions, as I learned more and more. Swan knows this full well. He knows that I systematically purged virtually all references to O’Hare’s citations from my papers way back in 2002 (because he noted it in a post from 10 October 2006; the original version mentioned my name; the present one doesn’t, but still cites my words).
But Swan loves to keep citing my old papers, knowing that I have modified many opinions in them. I continue to develop my beliefs about Luther on an ongoing basis, and remove old stuff; he keeps bringing it back, without noting (apart from a very rare and reluctant “nod” like the above paper) that I have changed my mind. This is unethical: pure and simple. (8-27-11)
Sometimes I will change my opinion, if I think the facts warrant it. People have to accept (or “take”) me as I am. I call things as I see ’em. I have opinions and sometimes I change my mind (I did recently, for example, [see link] regarding my discontinuance of the term, radtrad: which had some serious problems in usage and reception). (8-12-13)
Waterboarding: How and Why I Changed My Mind [title] (1-31-15; rev. 1-17-19)
I expressed my opinion that Amoris Laetitia was sufficiently clarified already (11-16-16). Then I modified my view somewhat (though not essentially), in terms of thinking that further clarification from the pope (in reply to the dubia from the four cardinals) would be helpful and indeed is necessary in our present “confused” circumstances (12-1-16).
Capital Punishment: I’ve Changed My Mind [title] (12-4-17)
Review of Keating’s “Francis Feud” Removed, w Apology [title] (12-24-18)
In fact, on reflection, I have decided that the overall argument I made there is too weak for me to continue to have the paper on my blog, so I have removed it. (2-23-19)
I modified my view of Luther’s view of the Immaculate Conception, which he changed later on in life. I call his position “immaculate purification,” because he no longer placed it at her conception. I changed my mind [on 10-2-10] in part because of some arguments produced by anti-Catholics. Truth is truth, wherever it is found. (5-9-20)
I apologized for that and removed it from Amazon (even though your book mentioned me 99 times and you didn’t bother to let me know before publication), . . . (12-4-20)
If you want to talk about individual examples of where you think you saw this behavior in me, I’d be more than happy to explain why I reacted as I did, and why; and will apologize, retract and modify or remove materials if necessary, just as I apologized to WCB within the last half hour. . . . Now it’s true that I sort of lumped you in with a general atheist ignorance of theology. I did that because I see this sort of thing all the time and it’s ultra-frustrating. But it was nothing personal, and to the extent that I over-generalized or broad-brushed you, I apologize. It’s unfair to make you the epitome of atheist undereducation about Christian theology. (12-21-20)
I apologized for an unfortunate title of my first reply, and changed it. I also changed words in the first paragraph. . . . Fair point about your not saying I “deliberately” did so. I think I characterized it that way once or twice, and I will remove that word. Thanks, and my apologies for that. . . . I made a mistake. I already apologized. . . . I’ve apologized for it, changed the words, and clarified. (6-4-21)
I will apologize and retract if you show me where I have attacked you personally. Here, I apologize for using the phrase “intellectual dishonesty.” I must have been overly frustrated. I don’t believe this about you. (6-17-21)
Audrey Assad’s Journey: Apology & Retraction [title] (10-2-21)
I have removed all of my original post after the above introductory citation because my basic explanation (speculative!, but in retrospect too much so) for why she left the faith was a lack of apologetics reading. She has clarified that she has read quite a bit of that. Fair enough. I was wrong in that respect. I apologize for any offense. (10-2-21)
ADDENDUM: Polymaths, Pomposity, and Projection
Alt-Left, in his now-removed hit-piece claimed that I’m supposedly presumptuous, pretentious, writing about things that are over my head, and too arrogant and stupid to know it, etc. Well, this is fascinating, coming, as it does, from a guy who describes himself on his sidebar as a “polymath”. A polymath is defined by the Wikipedia article on the topic as one:
. . . who excelled at several fields in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and the arts. . . . Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz has often been seen as a polymath. . . . This is expressed in the term Renaissance man, often applied to the gifted people of that age who sought to develop their abilities in all areas of accomplishment: intellectual, artistic, social, physical, and spiritual. . . .
The term “universal genius” or “versatile genius” is also used, with Leonardo da Vinci as the prime example again. The term is used especially for people who made lasting contributions in at least one of the fields in which they were actively involved and when they took a universality of approach.
One long list of polymaths include Alexander Graham Bell, Pythagoras, Aristotle, Archimedes, Copernicus, Michelangelo, Newton, Benjamin Franklin, Hume, Kant, Jefferson, and Wittgenstein. Another listing includes Galileo, St. Hildegard von Bingen, Goethe, Tesla, Roger Bacon, Theodore Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Mozart.
Scott Eric Alt clearly belongs on these lists! After all, he informs us on his sidebar:
Occasionally I may digress into other topics like baseball, Fibonacci numbers, the Queen’s gambit, semicolons, Bach fugues, plate tectonics, esoterica, or cats.
That clearly places him among the great geniuses of all time. And for this reason, obviously he can’t be wrong about this notion that I am so full of myself and self-deluded that I can almost never admit I’m wrong. But wait! I just proved above that this is a falsehood! So even geniuses, polymaths, and those of exceptionally high IQ, like Alt-Left, can sometimes be wrong. After all, Newton was wrong about gravity, and Galileo wrong about tides and circular (as opposed to elliptical) orbits.
Alt-Left will survive the trauma of being mistaken — not to mention also being a pompous, patronizing, condescending ass in the process. But will he learn from it? That’s the question . . .
Summary: Sanctimonious Judge Scott Eric Alt-Left claimed that I rarely ever admit I’m wrong about anything & need to relentlessly be correct. Nonsense. I provide the facts.