You claim that you want a respectful environment where all feel welcome, and yet, as I read through some of the answers provided, I find all kinds of derogatory references towards creationists; referring to them as "bull-headed," and referring to Dr. Sanford' work as "poppycock" and "non-sense."

Additionally, I noticed that there is some screening process for those allowed to answer questions, and based on what I've read so far, I would say that the screening process is itself steeped in evolutionary bias...eliminate the counter argument by controlling the game on an unfair playing field.

How can you expect anyone to take you seriously and have any credibility when you are so clearly attempting to rig the discussion? Unbelievable.


  • 4
    $\begingroup$ To get your posting right: You are complaining that we are making fun (or whatever you might want to call it) of creationists and do not give them room here to discuss their ideas? $\endgroup$
    – Chris Mod
    Commented Aug 14, 2018 at 16:52
  • $\begingroup$ @chris the only time I saw active members stop any discussion was on spam posts (maybe I really am inactive here these days). Anyhow, the best way to prove your point wrong would be to have a fair discussion on this topic... $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 14, 2018 at 17:25
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    $\begingroup$ Can you please clarify what is the nature of the "screening process" you are referring to? $\endgroup$
    – Remi.b
    Commented Aug 14, 2018 at 17:42
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    $\begingroup$ Since the user isn't coming back, I (even with best intentions) get the impression this was rather a rant than a serious question. And I'm not sure about policies on Meta, but I think on Main a question like this (accusations out of context, claims that aren't backed up or clarified) would be downvoted and put on hold/closed within a few hours... $\endgroup$
    – Arsak
    Commented Aug 16, 2018 at 20:37

4 Answers 4


Context: this question from 2013 asks for clarification of some of Sanford's and other creationist's arguments. The top rated answer contains the words poppycock and bullheaded:

2 Genetic entropy

This one is a bit harder to answer, largely because it is complete poppycock. I'll try though.


10000 years is extreme for all but the most bullheaded of creationists

The word nonsensical appears in the same answer:

The rest of the argument is even more nonsensical. Mutations can either be completely neutral and therefore "unselectable" or they can have an effect.

... and in one other answer:

3: This is nonsensical.

Based on this context and the quotes, I assume these are the posts you are referring to. Please correct me (and edit your question accordingly), if I'm wrong.

I'm not an English native speaker, so I don't dare to discuss, whether or not these words themselves are rude or not. I think this is covered by the other answers. (Though your question leaves me puzzled: how to express that something doesn't make sense if nonsensical is considered rude?) Please consider that the language barrier itself could contribute to misunderstandings: A non-native speaker might use rude words or have a rude tone without being aware at all.

However, I noticed that not all creationists were called bullheaded. "all but the most bullheaded of creationists" just means, there are some creationists who are more stubborn than others. The same is true for every other group of people (there are some StackExchange Users who are more stubborn than others, for example), isn't it?

Finally, and most importantly I'd like to mention that there is a five year time gap between the question and the current Code of Conduct. The rules developed over time based on the experiences the communities in the different stack-exchange sites made. It is possible that the "Be-nice" policy was less strict five years ago. It would be a tremendous work to screen through all old posts every time such policies change and to enforce the change on all old posts. Please be indulgent with the community in this regard.

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    $\begingroup$ Good find! I think it's important to note that none of these words were directed at the OP. I read the question as: "I've heard these arguments, and I'm not sure whether to believe them or not. Do they hold water?", and the answer as "No. They are poppycock and nonsense.", which doesn't seem to be rude to the poster at all, but rather a clear and direct answer to the question. $\endgroup$
    – De Novo
    Commented Aug 14, 2018 at 22:48
  • $\begingroup$ @DeNovo Mary didn't say, the OP was treated rude, but creationists in general and Stanford's work in particular. I have to admit I'm lost here: can you be rude to someone's work? Or maybe I got this wrong... $\endgroup$
    – Arsak
    Commented Aug 14, 2018 at 22:57
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    $\begingroup$ I think it's an important distinction. An answer that says: "OP, your ideas are nonsense and poppycock", isn't being nice. There are friendlier ways to correct the misconception. That's not what's happening here, though, which is why I think the post is fine, even under the current code of conduct. Incidentally, I believe you can't ping someone who hasn't already participated in a question. You'll have to post a comment on, for example, his answer $\endgroup$
    – De Novo
    Commented Aug 14, 2018 at 23:11
  • $\begingroup$ @DeNovo Oh, I didn't know that. Thank you! $\endgroup$
    – Arsak
    Commented Aug 14, 2018 at 23:14
  • $\begingroup$ @DeNovo I wonder whether the "No bigotry"-rule would apply, if we were talking about a recent post. Would for example religious people be rightfully offended if someone wrote "The Pope's/ Dalai Lama's/ _whoever's_/ work is nonsensical and poppycock"? Or feminists, if one wrote this about a leader of feminism? $\endgroup$
    – Arsak
    Commented Aug 14, 2018 at 23:35
  • $\begingroup$ I expect a question on biology.SE that used the pope as a source would be closed as off topic. $\endgroup$
    – De Novo
    Commented Aug 15, 2018 at 0:12
  • $\begingroup$ @DeNovo That was an analogy o.O $\endgroup$
    – Arsak
    Commented Aug 15, 2018 at 5:42
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, and I was pointing out the problem with the analogy $\endgroup$
    – De Novo
    Commented Aug 15, 2018 at 7:53
  • $\begingroup$ For what it's worth, I am the author of that answer and I most certainly did not use any of these adjectives to describe the OP. I described the argument and the arguments are demonstrably nonsense for the reasons I explain in my answer. $\endgroup$
    – terdon
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 11:34
  • $\begingroup$ @terdon I hope it is clear from my answer that I never thought you were belittling (or worse) the OP of that original question. Or would you think it is not clear at the moment and i should rephrase the text? $\endgroup$
    – Arsak
    Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 12:31
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    $\begingroup$ @Marzipanherz oh no, it was absolutely clear, thanks! I just wanted to chime in since I was the author of the post and confirm what your answer already stated: that I did not use those adjectives to describe the OP or any person but instead characterized arguments. $\endgroup$
    – terdon
    Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 12:53

Biology.SE is a place for people to ask and answer questions about the science of biology. It is not a chat, discussion, or debate site. There is no game to be played or field to be leveled. The site has already had a good discussion about whether questions about religion are on topic on Biology.SE.

Everyone should be nice, even when explaining that a religious discussion does not belong on a science question and answer site. If you find a particular post, answer, or comment to be rude, you can flag it. I think it is important, though, to be clear and direct. It can sometimes feel rude when someone disagrees with you. If you could link to the posts you found to violate the code of conduct, we could discuss them in particular.

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    $\begingroup$ I guess I've found the posts, OP is referring to. I've linked and quoted them in my answer below. $\endgroup$
    – Arsak
    Commented Aug 14, 2018 at 22:03

If there is bias, I would hope it is toward, accepting the sensical, the logical and the evidence-based above the non-sense, the illogical and the opinion-based.

"poppycock", "bull-headed" and "non-sense"

I don't think of the terms "poppycock", "bull-headed" and "non-sense" as being so rude. I would agree that "poppycock" and "bull-headed" are somewhat informal terms. The adjective "non-sense" is definitely not rude. When a claim is non-sense, it must be called non-sense.

We are all humans

Of course, we are all humans, and it is not impossible that some users have been impolite with OPs simply because they don't understand something or because they are opinion based.

If you want to discuss a specific comment/answer that you judge unrespectful, please feel free to open a new metaBiology.SE post to discuss this comment/answer.

Screening for those that can answers

For the vast majority of posts, any user, with any level of reputation can post an answer. Some questions that have already received a lot of unhelpful answers (such as "Me too" or "I love this question, brah!") can be "protected" by some users preventing users that have less than 10 points of reputation to answer.

I noticed that there is some screening process for those allowed to answer questions [..] eliminate the counter argument by controlling the game on an unfair playing field

I am not exactly sure what "screening process" you are referring to here. Can you clarify that? The screening process might be justified in the following section (This is a science website).

This is a science website

Biology.SE is a science website. Hence, only answers that are based upon the method of justification accepted in science (that is evidence are based on observation of the reality) are accepted. An answer based upon, say, a religious book, a vague intuition or some wishful thinking cannot be accepted. In this sense, yes, biology.SE aims at screening answers to select only those that are scientific in nature.

If, for example, a user wants to consider the christian bible as method of justification of knowledge, then please ask your question on Christianity.SE. For other world's major religions, please have a look at islam.SE, hinduism.SE, buddhism.SE or judaism.SE. If a user want to question the validity of different methods of justification of knowledge, please ask over philosophy.SE.


I would suggest that you read the answer from Remi.b carefully. He puts hours of work into answering questions on this site in a fair and balanced manner and the points he makes are, I think, valid.

In addition, @DeNovo is correct in saying this is not a discussion site,but a ‘question and answer’ science site, as clearly set out in the Tour and the Help. I am not in the field of evolutionary biology but have observed over the years I have been involved with this site that it has been a target for people who are generally termed “Internet Trolls”. In this case these are people who are not interested in answers to a question, but are using the site to propound their particular views — in this case creationist. I personally find this behaviour as indefensible as it is stupid, but do not resort to slanging them, following the general principle of “do not feed the trolls”. I vote the question as off-topic (I have earned the 4000 reputation that allows me to do this) and say nothing. Or sometimes I comment on the answers of others telling them not to feed the trolls.

Now, I am sure you are not a troll, but you can see why some list members, being human, react more aggressively then me (at least on this topic). And people in glasshouses… Your post says the following:

I would say that the screening process is itself steeped in evolutionary bias


How can you expect anyone to take you seriously and have any credibility when you are so clearly attempting to rig the discussion?

This clearly was not an appropriate for a question to Biology, but even on Meta, where someone has kindly migrated it, do you think it is likely to help create “a respectful environment where all feel welcome” and engender a rationale discussion?

You might reflect whether an apology is in order.


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