It seems the flame war has died down. I was going to write this a few days ago, but I thought I'd make sure tempers were rested, etc. That and late-night movies have sapped some of my strength.
Anyway, I should have expected the minor firestorm. Bear tried to warn me that fighting with people in cyber space is inherently impossible, because people engage on various levels, don't get humor, and other factors. As he put it: "The wonders of the Internet allow you to talk to someone in Groznyy, but do they care?"
I finally figured out who the original Anonymous Responder was. And--my suspect evidence or not--she was, as I said all along--a woman. However, honesty compels me to admit that while I pegged the gender correctly, I would never in a million years have guessed who it actually was. That piece of information floored me. Je suis humbled.
The second Anonymous responder wondered why I would take the word of Stephen Hawking over him/her. I thought the point was obvious as a hole in the head, but clearly I miscommunicated. What I meant: when people write in, they need to back up what they say. This is part of the Hyperion Institute, and we have standards. I wrote that perhaps Stephen Hawking might get away with just giving his unsupported opinion, but even he would probably have to pony up the evidence. My anonymous friends, however, do not have a reputation to fall back on.
Why? This part keeps getting missed, so follow closely:
THEY ARE ANONYMOUS! I HAVE NO IDEA WHO THEY ARE, EVEN IF I WAS GOING TO TAKE THEIR WORD FOR IT.
In other words, you can come on here and refuse to use a name (although I find that cowardly). What you cannot do is come on without any name, give an opinion like "I disagree" and expect me to let it go. This isn't some gab-fest on the phone with your girlfriends. Ya gotz to have some reasons.
Actually, what would make the whole thing easier, is for everyone who posts to pick a name. It doesn't have to be your name, if you fear that. Hyperion understands the intimidation factor, posting on his websites, scared to go to sleep at night, afraid that he will swat down your weak arguments. But at least pick a name, and don't take other people's, once you've seen then reply.
For my part, I promise to be kindler and gentler to commenters, and not get too engaged with them over minutiae (although I find it fun).
Bottom line: war's over; everyone come on back. (Even you Quincy. You WILL comment one day, or I will start a forwarded email campaign to destroy you.) Oh, and one other thing: always remember than when it was all said and done, I was right. It was a woman. But a pretty one, so we'll let it go.