It's an unfortunate fact of life that there are people in the world like the ones I am about to introduce any readers of this post to. It's often been argued that atheists are very often more moral than Christians, and I've seen several studies backing up this fact. Other than these studies, however, I unfortunately also have first hand experience with a small group of Christians who have no apparent moral fortitude whatsoever. The identities of these three individuals are as follows. (As a quick note, the following discussions took place on the public Amazon.com customer discussion forums so people are free to choose their handles, which don't always represent their true identity. However, two of the three individuals I have confirmed that their handles on Amazon are their real names.)
The first person I'm going to introduce you to is David Marshall. He is an obscure Christian apologist and author of the 2007 anti-New Atheism book titled The Truth Behind the New Atheism.
The next is another person who on Amazon.com goes by the handle J.R. Fraser, but his full name is John Fraser and to the left is a picture of this individual as it currently appears on his blog.
The third, and the one whose name I cannot confirm, is Bruce Bain.
The first two of these individuals began a dishonest character assassination campaign against me, which started sometime in early 2008, and about a year or two later Bruce Bain, an irrational fanboy of Marshall's, joined in.
Both David Marshall and J.R. Fraser are two very rude and immature Christian missionaries whose behavior borders on the pathological due to their habitual dishonesty and lack of civility during discussions with most people.
In this post I am going to expose these individuals' dishonest personal attacks against myself and expose their agendas and their hypocrisy.
– April 15, 2012
In the Beginning
In late 2007 I was looking for books to read that opposed the New Atheism. I wanted to read critical books about them and their arguments so I could gain a more balanced perspective so my views would not be one-sided about them. The first one I came across was titled The Truth Behind the New Atheism, by David Marshall.
After receiving the book I read it and found the book to be appalling. I believed that the author was highly illogical and made some very poor arguments. In some cases I believed he had written some outright falsehoods. With such misinformation being published I decided to write an on-line review expressing my thoughts about the book and exposing the errors committed by this author. About a month later I finished my review (it can be read here) and I posted it to my blog, Arizona Atheist, on October 22, 2007.
Afterward I was proud of what I had written and wanted to share it with others. I also wanted to subject it to a form of “peer review” so I could improve any possible mistakes. I posted it on numerous on-line discussion groups and forums asking people to read it and give their opinions. The feedback I had received was all very positive, so I believed I had done my homework well, and had written a very good response to the book.
On January 24, 2008 I decided to contact David Marshall, the author of the book, so I could ask him if he'd like to read my review and engage in discussion about it. I did this on the Amazon.com customer discussion forums where people can come and discuss the books they've bought. Each book on Amazon currently has its own forum for discussion so I created a post addressing Marshall titled ATTN: David Marshall at the forum for his book, The Truth Behind the New Atheism.
Below you can view a screenshot taken of the message I left for Marshall. My initial message was,
Hello, Mr. Marshall, I have read your book (and yes I really have) and wrote a review of it. Would you care to comment on it?
It's located here:
Prior to leaving this message I had browsed the Amazon forums and other reviews of Marshall's book and found that he was often in discussions with others who had read his book. In a few cases he seemed civil but in most other discussions he seemed pretty rude, often complaining of people not understanding his arguments and/or not reading his book (hence the above comment that I did read his book). I thought perhaps I might have a nice discussion with him and he replied to me. However, if you look at the picture to the left this message is conspicuously missing. Marshall decided to delete this comment he'd made on October 1, 2008. I'm not sure why, but I believe it's because of what he had written and he wanted to delete the evidence that he had insulted me and was rude to me at the outset. Here is my reply to him,
Mr. Marshall, thanks for the reply.
I'm flattered that you had read my review. Yes it was a review of your book, and I'll leave the quotes off. A review can also pertain to what the writer wrote about, and not necessarily how well, and what was wrong with what the writer said. Your statement that this review says something about me seems like a personal attack. I'm sorry you disliked the review, though I gave sources for my information, and many of the things you said were, I'm sorry to say, just plain ludicrous. One example is about evolution. Next time, please read up on it, before trying to write about it.
My goal in getting your book, actually, was not to refute it, but to learn what "the other side" had to say. When I read it, I saw so many badly argued points, I thought it wise to write something about your errors. I never go into reading a book with a negative state of mind. I read it, and take what the writer says in consideration. Just because I wrote many negative things, doesn't mean I didn't read the book. I read it, and I reread it. Your seemingly personal attack doesn't negate the truthfulness of my review, or the fact that I actually read it. Seems as if the only defense you can muster for your book, of those who give negative reviews, is to claim they didn't actually read it.
By the way, if you actually read the whole review, I did give you kudos on a few things I felt you were correct on. But as I said, I kicked you when you were down, when you were wrong. I am tough, but I am fair.
I don't apologize for my sometimes rude statements in my review. Willful ignorance should not be rewarded with kindness, not when there is a sea of truthful information out there, which one can research.
Have a good day.
As you can plainly see I responded to a few personal attacks against me. From memory I will try to paraphrase what he said. “I read your 'review' a few months ago. I apologize for the quotes but it badly need them.” He placed quotes around the word review because he believed it was so badly written and it allegedly misconstrued his book so badly that it didn't qualify to be called a review. He then proceeded to disparage me and my review by saying that my review “says something about” me, which I rightfully took as a personal attack.
These are the only aspects of the comment I can recall since it happened so long ago but it should be clear, Marshall initiated with the attitude and insults towards me right from the start. Of course, I decided to play it cool despite the personal attack and try to respond in as a polite a manner as I could.
The Rudeness Escalates
Despite the initial rude reply I received from Marshall I still wanted to try to discuss the errors I'd found in his book and I wanted him to read my review and comment on it. Surely, if it was as bad as he'd said it wouldn't be hard to point out where I went wrong. He refused, so I proceeded to post some of the errors I had written about from my review to the Amazon discussion forums so I could get Marshall to comment on them. Most of these early discussions have been deleted from the forums but I managed to copy a handful of these earliest discussions to my blog. This link takes you to a copy of a now deleted Amazon.com blog Marshall had for a while. He often used it to respond to criticisms of his book and in one of them he singled me out.
I must admit that in my initial review I did get a handful of things wrong. I misread a few things in Marshall's book and in this blog post he is correct about a few of my errors. However, one thing he is not correct about is his criticism of my argument that science isn't “narrow-minded.” In my first review I wrote, “I don't see what is so narrow minded about science. What is wrong with accepting things only when there is evidence?” Here we have a plain old misunderstanding. This criticism of mine is actually correct and Marshall is simply being downright anal about words. In Marshall's book, The Truth Behind the New Atheism, he writes that “we've been bamboozled into accepting (in the name of science, though not always from scientists) a lie about truth and how to find it, an untruth that narrows life and hands truth to tunnel-visioned specialists [emphasis mine] (p.16).
In Marshall's blog he claims that I put words in his mouth. He replied, “Neither do I call science 'narrow-minded.' My actual point is that science is a limited way of testing reality: a point scientists in the audience (when I speak) often affirm. I also argue that broader ways of knowing, such as history, are a crucial part of any rational search for ultimate truth.”
This was actually my point and I did understand what he was arguing. I think the issue here was 1) my inability to clearly communicate my views on the issue and 2) Marshall's bias, in believing that not a single person has understood his book.
Another case of this can be found in my criticism of his book when I write in my first review, “He is saying that we should trust what is written in the gospels, because people wrote them, and we're supposed to trust other people.” In response on his blog Marshall writes, “Arizona is largely desert, no doubt subject to mirages. This appears to be one of them. I defy readers to find any such statement in any of my writings. Some people, of course, are not trustworthy at all – including, unfortunately, Arizona Atheist.”
In reaction to this, I admitted that I had misread a few things in his book but not all of his criticisms were correct. I argued these points with him and he continued to claim that I can't read or understand the English language and that I put words in his mouth. I responded by calling him a liar. At the time I believed that no one could possibly be that anal and close-minded and came to the conclusion that he was outright lying because he didn't want to admit any errors in his work.
The truth is Marshall did say that. He believes that because we must place our trust in what he calls “human testimony,” we must trust the word of other people, and this includes written documents, including the bible. This is his basic argument that the biblical gospels can be trusted.
But here, rather than trying to explain what he meant he simply insults me. It was here that the discussion began to turn nasty because, as I said, I accused him of out outright lying and this is also where his tone begins to get even more disrespectful and he proceeds to insult me even more during our exchanges.
In hindsight I do agree that I didn't handle the situation in the best manner. I should have tried to reason with him but I was so infuriated by his rudeness and his intellectual dishonesty that I basically blew my top and called him out on his dishonesty in a not so tactful way.
The Shit Hits the Fan
After this discussion the dialogue between Marshall and I pretty much broke down. He was angry over my calling him a liar, and I (in that oh so tactful manner!) accused him of misrepresenting his arguments and refusing to deal with criticisms in an honest manner.
In a later discussion I ended up being very careless. It was at this point that the discussion became very heated and I didn't really think much before I replied and my responses were mostly emotional. Even if I did try to explain myself, due to my emotional state, my words did not come across as clearly as I would have wanted. Well, one morning I got up and went to the Amazon.com forums where Marshall and I had been fighting back and forth and I quickly read his reply, but didn't have the time that morning to respond. When I got home later that day I was an idiot and failed to reread his comment, which he had actually edited prior to my reply.
Because I didn't bother to read the new comment (I responded to what I could recall from memory) I ended up responding to things Marshall didn't exactly say. Marshall responds and says that I didn't respond to his comments. When I read this I went back to read the initial comment and I noticed that there was a notification saying that Marshall had edited his comment. I had believed that he edited his comment after my reply and I believed he was falsely accusing me of not reading him correctly. At this, I lost my temper again, believing he was being dishonest and I called him a liar again. Well, it turns out that another person, J.R. Fraser, enters the conversation and he very rudely and with much attitude informed me that Marshall edited his post before my reply. He pointed me to the timestamps on Marshall's post that tell you when the post was initially written and when any subsequent edits are made. I was so wrapped up emotionally in wanting to respond right away that I didn't take a good look at Marshall's comment and didn't notice the timestamps.
After this I apologized to Marshall for the mistake and he accepted my apology. However, after this episode both Marshall and Fraser proceeded to mention this fact in every discussion I had with them, seemingly trying to discredit me in the eyes of other forum participants. It was at this point when neither Marshall or Fraser would actually discuss or debate me on anything. They simply began smearing me and they tried to discredit me by making it seem as if I was just some confused person who shouldn't be listened to about anything, including the errors Marshall had made in his book.
I believe I should have been more careful, but I believed (and I still do) that it was highly unethical for Marshall to graciously accept my apology and then proceed to stab me in the back by trying to discredit me with this information every chance he got.
After nearly a year of being insulted, talked down to, dismissed, and smeared I decided to write a separate post in the Amazon forums on November 22, 2008 titled ”The Lies and Distortions of David Marshall.” In it, I make my case that Marshall failed to honestly receive criticisms about his book and I tried to defend myself from the many smears Marshall had made against me.
About a month later things got very bad when David Marshall pointed me to a new thread J.R. had written about me on December 17, 2008 titled “What "Gifted Writer" doesn't want you to know.” My handle on Amazon at that time was 'The Gifted Writer.'
I believe this was Fraser's attempt to “get me back” for exposing Marshall to everyone on the Amazon forums with the above posting of mine. Of course, the difference between the two was that mine was truthful, and his was not. Fraser accused me of doing nothing but making false accusations against Marshall and refusing to honestly debate him and discuss his book. In this post he also made use of the one incident above about my lack of attention when replying to Marshall.
Needless to say, I completely lost it. My response was mostly ad hominem as I tried to clear my name. Needless to say, I believe Fraser's smear worked and my hate-filled response didn't help my credibility much either. Of course, I get Fraser back much later on, but I'll get to that.
It was then that rather than debate me Fraser and Marshall would point people to the thread J.R. had written in their ever increasing discrediting campaigns. In hindsight Fraser's smear is ironic and hypocritical because it was actually Fraser and Marshall who had almost always refused to honestly discuss the issues in Marshall's book, and they were the ones spreading dishonest things about me.
This is pretty much how things go over the next year or so and in nearly every discussion I have with either Fraser or Marshall. Though, there are a handful of times when they actually try to debate me, but it always inevitably turns into the same old thing. They begin insulting me and try to discredit me.
Even David Marshall engaged in this outright lie. See these screenshots:
When Marshall and Fraser would continually spout their dishonest claim that I refuse to debate and discuss issues in Marshall's book I would continually state the opposite and accuse them of lying. I had assumed that anyone viewing these discussions would have seen Marshall and I's earlier discussions (if you call a grown man calling someone else names a discussion) and known that they were lying. However, later on I decided that maybe I should try to gather evidence of their lies because not everyone who viewed these false accusations against me would have seen these earlier discussions. A little over a year after the smear campaigns started I finally got my wits about me and thought of a way I might be able to disprove Fraser's completely dishonest post about me. I recall all of the past discussions I had with Marshall and Fraser and think to myself that there must be several examples of our discussions prior to Fraser's dishonest post. I ended up searching the Amazon forums for any past discussions with both Marshall and Fraser and I find several, some an entire year before Fraser's post, and others that were mere days before Fraser wrote his dishonest smear. The following are a few examples.
To the left is a screenshot of a discussion I started on October 10, 2008 titled ”A Short Review of The 'Truth' Behind the New Atheism.” I'd written this because I wanted to rewrite my Amazon.com review of The Truth Behind the New Atheism and after I deleted the old review my new one would not get posted. After having my review rejected for whatever reason by Amazon I decided to post it as a separate thread to create a new discussion about Marshall's book in the hopes that he would actually respond to my criticisms.
It was at this point that I had rewritten my review of Marshall's book at my blog in order to correct those old errors and to improve the review overall.
Marshall's reply can be seen to the left. In it he does manage to make a few half-assed counter-arguments (which are all completely wrong. I also never argued that he said all atheists are like Stalin) but it should be apparent how he tries to discredit me by mentioning the past discussions I've explained above. You can also view his nonsense about how I allegedly “misunderstand” his arguments. This is utterly false. Sadly, that is a common debate tactic he uses when his arguments are shot to hell.
Another example was my book review of The Truth Behind the New Atheism on Amazon.com. Here I had debated Marshall about evolution prior to Fraser's dishonest post about me. To the left is a screenshot I had taken previously of part of the discussion with the date highlighted on when it occurred. Notice the date of December 11, 2008, while J.R's post was dated December 17th, 2008.
A final example are the screenshots I took of discussions I had with David Marshall an entire year prior to Fraser's smear. Here are three screenshots taken of David Marshall's now defunct Amazon.com blog. Note the date of my reply of February 5, 2008.
If You Can't Beat 'Em, Smear 'Em!
I've exposed a few of David Marshall's and J.R. Fraser's dishonest attempts at discrediting me. Now, I want to show you a few more examples of their dishonest character assassinations. Mind you, I'm not the only person Marshall has attacked in this manner. Among others, he has also attacked the famous biblical scholar Hector Avalos. On his blog David Marshall smeared Avalos. See the screenshot to the left. It turns out that these accusations are actually false.
In the picture to the left you can see Marshall quoting an earlier version of this document when I didn't exactly hide my true feelings about what had happened to me. A few years after all this began the smears began to spread to other websites, like this one at John W. Loftus' blog Debunking Christianity'
In the comments section of one of my now deleted book reviews Marshall commented on my review in order to discredit me in the eyes of anyone who came across my review.
Assholes All Around
It's a sad fact that not only have I had to deal with David Marshall's and J.R. Fraser's many attempts at character assassination, but they continually insult both myself and other forum members without provocation. It seems the only thing people need to do to earn themselves an eye-full of insults from these two is to disagree with them! The following are several examples of this towards myself and others.
A few years after all this began Marshall actually apologized to me once.
However, about a week later he shows his true colors again by insulting me, not once, not twice, but three times in a single reply! I've actually copied this discussion to my blog.
Here are a few insults from Fraser towards myself and others.
This next screenshot depicts a few insulting remarks towards myself during a discussion that I've copied to my blog:
In this screenshot J.R. is not only insulting me but engaging in his and Marshall's very familiar smear campaign. This is another lie they would often use, and oddly enough this lie contradicts their other lie! First they argue that I refuse to engage in debate. Then they claim I delete old posts in order to “hide” the several ass-kickings they claim to have given me in past debates with them! Well, you morons, which is it?! Furthermore, the reason I deleted my initial review of Marshall's book was not to “hide” anything but because I wanted to erase it in order to write a better review. If I was truly trying to “hide” things I wouldn't have placed many of these discussions I had with them on my blog!
The fact of the matter is that I've eviscerated these individuals on several occasions in debate, but obviously they will never admit to that. The other discrediting tactic they make use of quite often is the fact that I've changed my handle on Amazon.com twice over the years. This is just pathetic, childish bullshit. Yes, I changed my handle on Amazon.com – about two years after their smear campaign started. This accusation is nonsense since the first time I changed my handle I changed it to Arizona Atheist! How in the world could I be trying to “hide” from anything when I used the pen name I'm most known by?! The second (and final) time I changed it I changed it to PrimeTruth to reflect my new philosophical ideas and to avoid any potential bias by people reading my old reviews on Amazon.com. I did this because I was worried readers of my reviews may happen to dislike atheists, since us atheists are still often discriminated against. Even when in discussions with others after this second name change I said who I was, that I was Arizona Atheist writing under a new name. Yeah, I guess I can see how I was being very secretive, huh? [Sarcasm] The fact is people change their handles all the time on Amazon.com and many times people delete old posts but because they're assholes who like to smear their opponents they wrongly claim I did so for some nefarious purpose in their numerous attempts at discrediting me.
Hypocrites All Around
In the last screenshot above I exposed J.R.'s hypocritical statement about my alleged “running away” from their oh so powerful arguments and domineering debating styles! Give me a damn break! But wait! I thought they said I never debated them?! They need to get their story straight before they try to smear someone who's smarter than they are. First they leave all the evidence on the Amazon forums where I can prove they're lying. Then their accusations actually contradict one another!
This isn't the only hypocritical behavior I've seen from these two, however. David Marshall, in a discussion I was not part of, said, “I tend to think most real education is self-education.” He also said in the same discussion, “Most important, though, what's the point? Arguments stand or fall on their own merits. If you think my writing stinks, then what would it matter if I were Regius Professor of All Human Knowledge at Cambridge? If (as happens) my arguments have merit, what would it matter if I dig ditches for a living?” (Screetshots below)
Why are these statements hypocritical? For the very simple fact that Marshall has continually berated me over the fact that I don't have any advanced schooling in the subjects I often write about. He also claims that because he has allegedly studied this or that his views automatically trump mine! What nonsense! As even he said himself, it doesn't matter how much formal education someone has, but how good their arguments are and if those arguments can stand up to the facts! Here is an example of Marshall touting his authority in a discussion we had:
Enter Bruce Bain
The final individual I will discuss is the ever illogical Bruce Bain, likely the most annoying individual I have ever met. Despite his mentally challenged demeanor, Bain also has a vicious vindictive streak (how Christian of him!). Along with Marshall and Fraser he has taken it upon himself to smear me all over Amazon.com (I've been able to get some of his posts removed but several remain). In fact, he is responsible for smearing me to an even greater degree and for a much longer time than either Marshall or Fraser. Below is a screenshot of an example of his smears:
Yes, I am ashamed to say it but I did say these things. Quite simply, I was outright furious about Fraser's blatant lies and smears about me and at the time those comments were made I had been getting horribly weary of the continuous onslaught of insults and put-downs by Marshall and Fraser that had been ongoing for nearly a year. During one particular discussion Fraser was at his worst again with his insults and I simply lost it and attacked him with some pretty vile comments (As a matter of fact, the second screenshot above of Fraser's insults depict part of the same exchange that caused me to blow up. The entire paragraph was nothing but a bunch of personal attacks and lies. I hope people can see why I got so angry.). To be honest Bain doesn't even list the worst ones I said to Fraser here.
Needless to say Bain, Marshall, and Fraser used these comments against me from that point on. Bain was the worst, posting my comments in the manner above all over Amazon.com, making use of the same lie that the other two liars did: the lie that all I do is insult people and never engage in honest debate and discussion. Well, I believe I've refuted that bogus charge completely. But, after thinking about it, I find this smear ironic for the simple fact that for nearly four years I worked on an over one-hundred page chapter-by-chapter response to Marshall's book, which I linked to on numerous times on Amazon.com and offered anyone, particularly David Marshall, J.R. Fraser, and Bruce Bain, a chance to respond to it! I am dumbfounded how that could be construed at somehow trying to avoid a discussion! But that just demonstrates to you the immense idiocy that I've been dealing with for the last few years.
If it's not apparent by now, I'd like to point out something interesting. Look at the examples of insults from me provided by Marshall and Co. They all come from a brief period in 2008 when their smears and insults were at their peak and I finally cracked and lashed out. However, look at all of the examples I've provided over a span of many months and even years, by both Marshall and Fraser. They have a definite history of calling others names and belittling them, while my outbursts were isolated incidents, driven entirely by their immature and outlandish behavior. While I take full responsibility for my comments, and I regret them very much, this proves undeniably that these three have been caught in a web of deceit when they continually claim I am the one with the “problem” or that I am the “immature” one. I'm sorry, but the evidence is in and these man-children are the ones with the problems, not I. Theirs is entirely a case of projection. They continually delude themselves into seeing the vile, hate and invective in others that they themselves put forth on a near constant basis.
Before I end this post I wanted to save the best for last. In late 2009 on Amazon.com I confronted J.R. Fraser with the above evidence.
In this discussion I completely eviscerate him and reduce him to a blathering idiot. Have fun reading Fraser's desperate backpedaling as he foolishly tries to distort his own sentences in order to deny his lies. It was actually comical to watch. I never let him off the hook and pointed out his absurdities. He got so flustered that he left the discussion and the roughly two years since, I've only seen Fraser two or three times on Amazon.com, when previously I'd see him on a near constant basis, insulting and belittling others on the forums. Maybe this was because I so badly kicked the crap out of him and embarrassed him? Who knows. But true to form, enter David Marshall who attempts a last ditch effort to rescue his butt buddy, when he writes, “JR: I remember Ken repeatedly refusing to post an argument on this site too, of course. But maybe we're engaging in a conspiracy against poor old Arizona Atheist. :- )”
What utterly pathetic and shameful bile that is.
It is now that I rest my case. David Marshall, J.R. Fraser, and Bruce Bain have been completely exposed and rebuked. Case closed.
1. When You Can't Beat 'Em...Smear 'Em II
2. Rant: ON - Another Smear Campaign???
3. Hypocrisy at its Worst
4. Amazon.com's Favoritism Toward Christians