I will probably make myself rather unpopular in this crowd but I've about had it up to here with P.Z. Myers. A few moments ago, he tweeted about a leaked video (http://bit.ly/ahSGr9
) showing an engagement of the US military in Iraq involving two Reuters reporters (who were killed in the incident). The tweet: "We have seen evil, and it is us: Here is why we need Wikileaks — because when our soldiers carry out Collateral Mu[rder]" Admittedly the video is shocking and certainly calls the actions taken into question, but the video was leaked earlier today; not really a lot of time to gather evidence and draw conclusions. I saw the video this morning, read the supporting documentation, and I don't know, yet, if I should be outraged. But this I do know - all of the facts are not in and I certainly am not taking my facts only from one source (in this case, Wikileaks.)
But that is really not the point of this post, just the impetus.
This community has its celebrities, its touchstones, its champions (e.g. Dawkins, Hitchens, Myers, etc) and what I am increasingly finding is a glut of reactionary messages from the supposed champions of rationalism. After the change in the forums on rdf.net, a large contingent of the membership started hurling invective, and even Dawkins himself initially reacted emotionally in response (before issuing a very well reasoned apology and explanation). I am not suggesting that rationalists should be emotionally numb, but should not the first **public** response to something incendiary, especially of those who **know** they hold an extraordinary amount of influence, be something that aligns with the principles we profess to hold dear?
We are dubious of those who claim to know God is real, that it is a gut feeling and they **KNOW** God is real. We ask them to use their heads and to think it through. But there is a parallel to us; when we react based on our gut feelings (on any topic, religion, politics, and, yes, even our favorite sports team), we lose that rational high ground. It gives fodder to those who oppose us.
I see this as the biggest challenge for our community; holding ourselves to that higher standard, reserving judgement/comment until the facts are in. And if those facts indicate we should be outraged then, by all means, let's be outraged and make sure it is known.