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The Eternal Thread—also known as the 'undying thread', 'the undead thread', 'The Thread', 'the endless thread', and by some "90% of my social life" (sadly)—was an ongoing thread at Pharyngula. PZ Myers usually opens a new subthread with a YouTube clip from a cheesy, B sci-fi movie.

Genesis of The ThreadEdit

The discussion started when a creationist kook by the name of Alan Clarke debated the then recent findings of Titanoboa, a large, prehistoric extinct snake[1]. He claimed the Bible made mention of this snake. There was much discussion on the thread. Eventually Myers decided to close the thread and ended it with the remark: "Alan Clarke, you are an idiot. Yes, this thread is dead."

Alan Clarke however was persistent. He wanted to continue the ass whooping conversation and for some reason decided to do it on a Pharyngula thread about a video explaining the science behind the (then upcoming) movie Watchmen[2]. He was persistent in his belief that the geological evidence indicated a recent Global Flood. During this entire time he was accompanied by his squire RogerS, a creationist who had some relation to Clarke. There were many Pharyngulites who were well-educated in geology who took great pains to discuss what was wrong with the two's interpretation of the data. However, they fired back with many ad hoc hypotheses to save their theory. None of these explanations were satisfactory and they oftentimes contradicted each other. The term "delugionists" (in reference to the "Deluge myth") was coined to describe these two. Alan would also take to challenging the findings of modern geology. At one point Alan tried to debunk the theory of plate tectonics by citing a paper which (unbeknownst to him) came from a journal that focused primarily on UFOs, psychokinesis, and other paranormal phenomena. He was heavily mocked for this.

Alan Clarke's contributions were often quite disturbing. When not peddling pseudoscience he would offer unasked (and unwanted) glimpses into his psyche. These included: his views on relationships, a story of how he once took too many sleeping pills and then went driving, his use of drugs and alcohol, how an acquaintance of his was soaked in the blood of her dead lover after a car accident, etc. Myers even had to explicitly tell him that Pharyngula was not a group therapy session and that he should go seek a professional psychiatrist.

The discussion continued. While geology was prominently featured, other topics were also discussed. Alan argued against the theory of evolution, which he astonishingly understood even less than geology. When asked to give a definition of evolution he equated it with atheism. Astrophysics, computing, Biblical scholarship and theology were also discussed and each time he proved to be even more ignorant than the last. Oftentimes Myers would get annoyed with the two creationists (especially Alan) and would threaten to ban them. While all agreed that they were silly, many enjoyed the informative and entertaining responses they inspired. The term 'collateral wisdom' was used to describe it.

To read about the origins of The Eternal Thread as a parody of the Biblical Genesis with a heavy influence from Chtulhu mythology see here.

Clarke's ultimate banning however was a result this comment he made:

Are prayers sometimes answered with miracles? I had my heart set on a young girl who was 14 years my junior. I never said anything to her because of the age difference and thought I should at least wait until she was 18. I prayerfully waited for 8 years only to be let down when a young man got her pregnant then married her later. At that stage I was about 33 years old and gave up on the idea of marrying anyone young or anyone at all since my preferences were always someone much younger than myself. When I was 44 years old and content with my single status, I saw my wife-to-be who was 16. Been married for 9 years, 3 kids, and loving every minute.[3]

This admission of pedophilia was too much, even for Clarke. Many disgusted with the remark called for his immediate banning. Hours after Alan had made the comment Myers banned him.

Post-Clarke Activities

Remarkably the discussion continued even after Clarke was banned. Pharyngulites actively tried to recruit other creationists to the thread. At one point they settled for a new ager high on cannabis, LSD and an inflated sense of his own intellectualism.

The Thread however became more of a social club for Pharyngulites, in which anything can be discussed. Examples of regular topics of discussion: bacon, lesbians, odd pieces of news, politics, bad jokes, an obsession over the life of a certain Oxford undergrad, how a fight between Buffy and River Tam would go down, etc.

It seems quite funny that Alan Clarke, a creationist kook, ended up creating a place for atheists and rationalists to gather.

The Lounge and the ThunderdomeEdit

In summer 2012, the original name was abandoned in favor of The Lounge, which is a heavily moderated thread for any topic, as with TET. This was accompanied by redoing The Zombie Thread, a far less heavily moderated recurring thread that users prohibited from posting in other threads can post in as well as users in good standing, into The Thunderdome, which serves the same purpose as TZT, as well as bringing back The Dungeon (i.e. the list of banned users).

The Eternal Thread—also known as the 'undying thread', 'the undead thread', 'The Thread', 'the endless thread', and by some "90% of my social life" (sadly)—is an ongoing thread at Pharyngula. Myers usually opens a new subthread with a YouTube clip from a cheesy, B sci-fi movie.

DiscussEdit

Following an incident involving Butterflies and Wheels, PZ shut down both the Lounge and the Thunderdome. Instead, commenters interested in curating a discussion on a particular topic can ask him to open a thread to discuss that topic.

ReferencesEdit

  1. http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/02/titanoboa.php
  2. http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/02/science_of_watchmen.php
  3. http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/06/bride_of_the_thread_that_will.php#comment-1712915

Adapted from material largely deleted at RationalWiki

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