controversial theory? nope, controversial attitude

A few days ago, Enro commented on this post. My reply was a quickie and I promised to be more explicit. Here I’m.

First of all, freedom of speech. You don’t need controversial, heterodoxical or any other particular kind of expression to go for freedom of speech or test it. There shouldn’t be any kind of restriction, except law. And even law should be scrutinized, and in some cases discussed and maybe disregarded, especially if you are under a not quite democratic environment, say a military junta. So, I will always keep it dissociated from an particular case. In memory of those dead to preserve it, those of my friends in particular.

Let’s go with Fleury’s website and theory.

Enro, the GMCM didn’t censored Fleury’s theory! That’s quite clear and I spotted that at Doc’s blog, on october 28. So, stop saying that his theory is/was censored, it’s plain wrong.
His persona space was shutdown. And that may be a problem, but this doesn’t say anything about how his theory is perceived by his boss.

I don’t really know how the content of space on universities servers is managed in France, but certainly there is an editorial manager, responsible for the content and with authority to manage it as s|he thinks necessary. For lab’s websites, such as the GMCM, I expect the lab manager to be the editorial manager, except in cases of delegation of this responsibility. One question remain, did Fleury used the space provided by the lab according to the terms AR presented to me, this is to present published work? If you have read what Fleury published in this personal space you understand that this was not the case. If the terms was clear at the beginning, AR’s decision is certainly the right one.

That doesn’t mean that I’m comfortable with it. I would prefer researchers being the editorial responsible of their personal webspace and Fleury’s website being still available.

Fleury didn’t answered my question:

Vincent Fleury, following the shutdown of your personal space on the University of Rennes 1 did somebody, anybody, forbidden you to open a personal webspace with the same content?

Let me guess, nobody forbidden Fleury to publish the same rubbish in a personal space, the kind I proposed him to use and I’ll consider Fleury’s boss presumptively innocent.

So, I don’t think finally that Fleury was censored of forbidden to express his opinions, but rather that the use he made of the space allowed by the lab wasn’t according the rules. Maybe the rules should be more flexible and editorial responsibility be individual. That would be the point on which I would insist if I had to discuss the issue with people from the university and/or the CNRS: increasing freedom of expression, associated with the corresponding responsibility, for personal space. But I wouldn’t discuss with them.

Let’s go further, and consider Fleury’s theory and more.

Is it controversial? Certainly, but who cares about it? Not a lot of people in fact, and certainly not me! I don’t give a cents for his theory and his efforts to support it. As I already said once he will try to publish it including all of the crap he presented in public fora and this blog, other people than I will ask him to read a few biology books. He don’t accept that genetics determine bauplans, or that evolution’s directionality is imposed by a combination of random changes and natural selection, so what? He offers nothing experimentally documented to support his claims. So, his theory isn’t interesting.

What is particularly interesting is his attitude and the use made of his theory by creationists.

What’s wrong with his attitude? He claims a theory in a way that seems as if it was a scientific theory and he claims to have published bits of it in peer-reviewed journals, when it comes to bits of hypothetical models without experimental evidence to support them.

For the EPMAG paper I made it clear that even the editor in chief of the journal that published it consider that it’s an hypothesis. Even if Fleury tried to insinuate that I was distorting what it was said.

I don’t think compatible with basic scientific ethos to claim a theory without experimental verification of the hypotheses upon which it is built, and publishing it in a general public book before even a prepublication. That’s a quite weird behavior. Fleury compared his book with Darwin’s « On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life », which he said, wasn’t peer-reviewed. (I’m not kidding, he said so). More than 20 years discussions/correspondence with peers/friends/opponents before publishing it. Not peer-reviewed 🙂

Arrogance from a Galileo Fallacy and Gadfly corollary affected physicist discussing on a domain where he isn’t trained. And at least partially ignores (he admitted so).

Well, that’s what is wrong with his attitude, in a first level. Independently of the merits of his theory, if any.

So, not censored by his boss, no publication of his theory and not many people interested by it in fact (have you found citations other than auto-citations?), and a weird behavior, the last one being highly controversial.

How much publicity had Fleury’s theory up to now. As much as Jean Staune and Vincent Fleury wanted. Not easy to see that, as you are in a blog about Fleury’s babbling about evolution, genetics, evodevo.

Jean Staune introduced Fleury’s theory, via his book, in a public forum and Fleury joined the discussion. The thread (God and Science, incompatible?) was ended and a new one was initiated by one of the moderators. My firts input was on january 9th. A day later I asked the question why the theory wasn’t published in a scientific journal. And a week later challenged Fleury to do so. At this point I thought that we were at an end point.

Fleury continued the game for several months. First trolling a thread that had nothing to do with his theory, and pushing me to leave the forum to get some rest. He continued with the comments here. Each time I wished to stop discussing with him he came back.

That’s also a weird behavior. He avoided opening a thread to discuss his theory, and he did the necessary for me to leave the forum. He avoided to open a personal space to reply to this blog. He said recently that he is done with this blog and he will not visit anymore. I’ll help him keep his resolution. Every bit coming from Vincent Fleury quits the cyberspace as soon as it’s received, down the drain.

I would have give up a long long time ago (17 jan 2007) if he hadn’t insisted. I started the review of EPMAG and I’ll have some fun with Fleury’s claims. And a friend asked why I wondered if the EPMAG was properly reviewed at first. I’ll finish with that, and answering your comments. That doesn’t make Fleury’s theory interesting or controversial or anything else. That is about Fleury’s attitude. Quite weird IMO.

Let’s see Enro’s suggestion for a new topic:

Thus, I think that your second topic should be “the freedom of expression of one scientists in face of another in a Web 2.0 context.” And that’s where it becomes interesting!

Fleury had a better treatment than I had at Sur-la-Toile, despite the fact he was trolling. (Enro, a pdf of the lost thread is available for you in your mail and you can always discuss the matter with Jiherve.)

Fleury trolled in the comments of this blog, being injurious, wrongly accusing, misreading, misunderstanding, threatening with legal issues, and I published everything for the sake of freedom of speech, to be consequent with myself and not deceive my friends.

So, I wonder what I should discuss in the thread you proposed Enro. I’ll be happy to go on if you would like to be a little bit more precise. Maybe it could be a collaborative piece of work.


2 Réponses

  1. 1) You should read me carefully before quoting me (or I should try to make clearer arguments in English, which is much less precise a language than French) : « although you can argue that plugging back VF’s website wouldn’t say anything about the value of his theory, having it censored says much about how his theory is perceived by his patrons… » => « it » refers to VF’s website, not his theory, sorry if you were mistaken (although I think the sentence construction is quite clear)! Of course it would be ridiculous to say that his theory was censored since his book is still out there…

    2) There are probably policies for academic webpages at GMCM but a) until you systematically attacked Fleury, this content was not under discussion and b) this content didn’t seem more condemnable than any other academic webpage (I don’t give links, you know probably more of those than I do) — I apologize if I’m wrong.

    3) You see, how scientists confront arguments, claims and evidence in a web 2.0 context is an interesting topic 😉

  2. 1) I do insist: VF’s theory is available at the GMCM website and that doesn’t tell us much, if anything, about the way his boss perceive it. His website was shutdown but this doesn’t tell as anything more about how his theory is perceived. So I don’t understand why « having it censored says much about how his theory is perceived by his patrons… ».
    And certainly his boss don’t have anything to say about his book, except maybe a personal opinion. But she refused even to comment on the website’s content.

    2) I don’t think that my critics have anything to do with the shut-down of the website. Probably my e-mails to Anne Renault have being the trigger. And not as much those sent to ask if the lab endorsed Fleury’s theory as those forwarding Fleury’s comments, and my discussion with Jamie Davies.
    Have you read Fleury’s FAQ (Foire aux questions)? Would you like a copy? The latest available is of september 27.

    3) Nope, I don’t see, yet, not on the basis of exchanges with Fleury at least.
    I do see the interest that represent say in PLoS ONE comments and discussions.

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