What's the deal with Spiritus Mundi?

A burning question, as I see it. I have had several run-ins with this man, which has caused my opinion of him to drop considerably. But yet, he seems to enjoy enormous respect on this message board, lending a certain degree of tentativity to my conclusions. I present the evidence:

Our first run in took place in a debate about the relative morality of religious people and atheists, in late August. (This was continued (in limerick form) here, in early September). I found Spiritus to be long on debating tactics and short on intellectual honesty, continually taking my words out of context and twisting them to his liking.

Our next exchange took place in this election thread, in mid-November. The debate was over my assertion that the Republican accusations of Democratic vote-counting hanky panky would tend to give ammunition to both the Bush lawsuits and the Katherine Harris deadline enforcement. At one point Spiritus said the following

Subsequently, my worthy comrade Milossarian jumped in, accusing Spiritus of making accusations of bias against Republicans in particular. In response, Spiritus said this (among other things):

I was an active participant in many election threads at the time, as was Spiritus. I find the idea that Spiritus was genuinely uncertain if I was a supporter of Bush or Gore to be preposterous. Furthermore, the suggestion that his original accusation concerned “not partisan politics but evaluation of evidence” is also ridiculous. Conclusion appears to be that Spiritus lied.

Next, we fast forward to the current estate tax thread. Spiritus comes along with a post that basically restates my position for me in all manner of ways and asks me to defend it as such. IOW, just another cutesy debate game for Spiritus, in the manner of his earlier Atheist/Religious-morality performance. I have no desire for this at this time, and respond

To which Spiritus says

Now, is this possible? I am not under the illusion that I am a major presence in the life of Spiritus Mundi, but is it possible that a reasonably intelligent person can have lengthy hostile exchanges with someone in three different threads, and completely forget them all, even when the issue is brought up?? I don’t think so.
At this point, the prosecution rests its case. The defense will now rise.

Spiritus Mundi appears to be one of the most respected members of this message board. I distinctly recall that Libertarian thought of him highly. Scylla, an intelligent and witty poster, grovels at his feet. aynrandlover says he was destroyed by Spiritus in an Ayn Rand thread - his own home turf. In searching through election threads looking for my links, I came across one that had an extended orgy of praise for Spiritus. In that very estate tax thread, someone came along to proclaim the greatness of Spiritus. Can so many people all be wrong and one person be right?

It’s always very difficult for me to conclude that I myself have arrived at the truth and everyone else is wrong. And yet, the evidence seems clear to me. So while, as mentioned, what appears to be the overwhelming opinion of the posters to this board does give me some pause, I do stand by my implication that the Spiritus post to the estate tax thread does demonstrate that he is an outright liar, a conclusion that is also bolstered by his earlier election posts.

PS: I notice that Spiritus has begun another thread dedicated to this issue. I hope I am not violating some sort of board ettiquette by starting a new thread, but for reasons that I cannot at this moment crystalize, I prefer to start a separate thread. Pick one or the other or neither.

Izzy - You should know better than to align yourself with moi. You see those lights off in the distance? That’s the Great Debators coming with their torches. :wink:

As for Spiritus - I frequently disagree with him, have occasionally knocked heads with him, but I like the guy.

Maybe his success at SDMB Fantasy Football has emboldened his megalomania. :smiley:

I would note, however, that this kind of stuff irritates me:

That is an insult, as surely as calling someone a “fucking liberal,” a “fundie idiot,” or whatever. Sure, it’s couched in “Debatese,” but it’s an insult just the same.

Grovel at his feet?

Um, respectfully Izzy, you should reexamine those threads. I couldn’t find a single instance where Spiritus’ paraphrasing was inaccurate or where he failed to clearly explain his differences with your argument. While his criticisms of your logic were often harsh or blunt, his tone was unfailingly polite and he never avoided any points you cared to raise.

You may not enjoy having to support assertions that you take for granted with rigorous logic, but it’s kinda whiny to bitch about it when you’re called upon to do so in GD. If someone assails the underlying reasoning of your position, they are not “insulting” you. If they paraphrase your argument, they are not being “intellectually dishonest” in doing so; you are free to correct their inaccuracies. If they ask you to explain inconsistent statements, they are not employing “debating tactics”, and are, in fact, helping you clarify your position.

Izzy, you’re a skilled and respected debater in your own right and you seem to well understand the nature of civilized discourse. I’m quite suprised that, of all the debaters with whom you’ve locked horns, you would choose to object to Spiritus Mundi.

You know I like you and respect you, Izzy, so please take that into account when I say that I agree wholeheartedly with the entirety of what xeno just said. The post of Spiritus’s in the Estate Tax thread, in particular, seemed to me to be eminently reasonable, and no different from any of the questions being posed to you by Kimstu, RTFirefly, or jshore.

As regards his “preposterous” statement that he was unsure as to which candidate you supported…well, though I know you to be a Republican, you have been critical of both parties and of both campaigns. Your general evenhandedness is one of your better qualities. So if Spiritus, as interested as he is in all things epistemological, was focusing on the evaluation of evidence rather than partisan positioning, I can certainly understand how he might not be as sure of your preferred candidate as he would be, for example, of Freedom’s or Sofa King’s.

I honestly think you’re tilting at windmills here.

(Milo, I thought logical consistency is what Great Debates was supposed to be all about. While characterizing someone as lacking such consistency is certainly insulting, certainly it’s more appropriate–and more conducive to reasoned discussion–than casting aspersions based on ideology or religion, yeah?)

Scylla: No?


I am surprised at your post, because you spend such energy on things that I never said. I have not complained anywhere about being insulted by Spiritus, or the other things you mention. My only problem with the religion thread is that he consistently took things out of context, I believe deliberately. (“If they paraphrase your argument, they are not being “intellectually dishonest” in doing so” if they did it unintentionally, not if they see this as a debating tactic). You can paraphrase things accurately from a technical, linguistic perspective while still changing the meaning within the context that it was said. Done deliberately, it can be an effective debating technique.

He chose me. I never brought up any of this before, and in fact have never started a pit thread about anyone. What brought this to a head was the estate tax thread, in which I did I did not chose to respond to his posts. He got snide, I implied that he was a liar, he called for me to back it up or back down, and here we are. I would not have opened this thread were it not for his. But having been called on it, I do stand by my statements.

So to make clear - this does not concern any insults directed at me by SM, but about 1) whether he deliberately uses obfuscatory debating tactics, and 2) of more immediate moment, whether he is a liar.

I said (here)

I have seen nothing in the three months since writing that to make me reconsider my opinion. Quite the reverse in fact (read the epistimology thread currently on the GD front page).


Ah; ok.

  1. In the specific threads you’ve linked, NO. In my experience with him, also NO.

  2. In the specific threads you’ve linked, NO. In my experience with him, also NO.
    The above assessments are of course MHO.


Examples of moi grovelling, S’il vous plait.


No problem at all, for you or anyone else. The title of this thread has a question mark, and all honest opinions are welcome. In fact, even Spiritus Mundi’s opinion is welcome, and this might be less than honest. :smiley:

As for your post:

What percentage of people who post in political forums do you think are truly uncertain as to my political affiliation? (Obviously there are some who have never crossed paths, but SM was familiar enough to know that I had been critical of both sides.) And perhaps more significantly, what is the likelihood that someone accusing someone else, in a political thread, of “partisan prejudice” and “lacking objectivity” is accusing him of “not partisan politics but evaluation of evidence”.
And how many people have you had lengthy hostile exchanges with in three threads (totaling over 20 posts) that you have completely forgotten about, even when reminded of the possiblity?

Have you really stated that often that you were voting for, or had voted for, Bush? For the life of me I can’t think of a time where you said it explicitly, though I’m probably wrong.

I don’t remember. :smiley:

And I never said differently.

I agree.

More than occasionally in that forum, however, a person will attack another’s logical consistency, merely because they disagree. (I am neither accusing or not accusing Spiritus or anybody else of this. I am making a general observation based upon my own experiences and thread-reading.)

“I recognize your viewpoint, and the information you used to arrive at it; I just disagree for these reasons.”

The above is a phrase I intend to use frequently in future Great Debates. It will be interesting to see if certain others adopt a similar tone.

As for complete elimination of my sarcastic smart-assedry, I’m afraid that will be impossible, unless the Chicago Reader is willing to pay for extensive therapy and deprogramming.

Yes you are right that Spiritus Mundi gets a lot of respect.

Maybe you just haven’t seen many posts but keep reading and you may work why.

I’m afraid your complaint is off base.

Izzy, I would just like to point out that it was your refusal to address Spiritus Mundi’s questions that raised his (well-mannered) ire in the first place … and that you still have not done so over here. Only MHO, but that might be a good place to start if you’re interested in resolving this apparent conflict with one of the Board’s most respected members.

So it looks like the jury has spoken, and the verdict is unanimous in favor of Spiritus Mundi. The silent army of Mundi despisers has failed to materialize. I am a bit disappointed that almost no one chose to address the actual examples that I gave in a sunstantive way, but so it goes.

As one of my great political heroes said recently “I do not agree with this verdict, but I accept it”. Case dismissed.

Thanks for the reminder. Frankly, I am surprised that I forgot our exchange in the religion thread, mostly because its annex in the limerick thread was somewhat amusing (if for no other reason than the idea that you would disengage from a conflict in the PIT and then reintroduce it in MPSIMS.) Neverheless, I did not recall you from that incident.

I am not at all surprised that I have no particular recollection of butting heads with you in an election thread. I posted in many (many!) such threads over the few weeks following the election. My interaction with you was neither the most rewarding nor the most infuriating. In fact, even in the thread you linked I recall the exchange with Milo more particularly than the exchange with you.

Apparently, you find it hard to believe that I could fail to have engraved such exchanges on my forebrain. Apparently you feel that I have harbored some grudge against you and have “chosen” you as a target for acrimony. Hardly. Put away the tights, turn that cape back into a blanket, and get over your bad self. You ain’t my arch-nemesis. In fact, until yesterday I doubt I gave you a second thought. You were reasonable enough that you didn’t set off the “asshole” alarms but not challenging enough to foster any particular respect. Even your religious bigotry, as expressed in the morality thread, was put forth in guarded enough terms that I (obviously) was unable to hold a grudge. I recognized your user name, when I posted to the estate tax thread, but that is all. I certainly felt no personal conflict with you.

That, of course, was before you called me a liar. And before you provided such charming reminders of your character in the linked threads. Thank you for the reminder. I will not forget you so soon again.

I have no idea why you felt the need to open this thread instead of answering my questions here. Perhaps my vitriolic OP scared you. Perhaps you felt the cacophony of other voices would have diluted your focus. Perhaps it’s just an ego thing. Perhaps even you don’t know. shrug At least this time you have answered a straight question (albeit in a different thread). To those who skipped the link, I asked:

You have chosen to do number 3. Said support hinging, it appears, upon your own sense of importance. You have also characterized me as lacking intellectual honesty. Shall we examine your “case”?

This was in reference to the Lieberman thread. I assure you that I could not possibly twist your words in that thread into soething that I like. Nevertheless, perhaps you will be so kind as to quote some examples of where you felt that I cited your words out of context and twisted them in a manner which was intellectually dishonest.

Oh, I asked you a similar question in that thread and you responded by linking back to said thread multiple times. Please do not do so this time. My internet connection can be slow and it is annoying to follow such links only to find that they do not address the question asked. If you feel unable, or unwilling, to pull specific examples then please just say so.

I see no evidence in the thread to support your charge. At least 2 other posters to this thread have expressed the same. Make your case, if you have one.

From this thread you quote me as saying, “Actually, also in regards to this, I am not at all certain whether Izzy supports Bush or Gore. It seems to me that he has been critical of both campaigns at times.

You find it “preposterous” that I did not know whether you were a supporter of Bush or Gore. How arrogant. Your sense of self-importance propels you to the idea that nobody could possibly have been active in political threads after the debate with noticing your particular voting preference. I said it before. I’ll say it again. Get over your bad self.

As much as anything I am offended by the idea that I could possibly care enough about whether I knew who you voted for to lie about. How absurd! I am supposed to be so impressed by your magnificent posts that not only is it preposterous to imagine that I could be unaware you voted for Bush, I am also supposed to be so obsessed with your voting preference that I would lie to conceal my awareness! Swell head you have there, Izzy.

You then use the sentence: If you look closely at our exchange, you will see that the question of objectivity concerns not partisan politics but evaluation of evidence. to impugn my intellectual honesty.

To do this, you quote an earler statement where I say, "Your post, however, might be viewed as both strengthening the position that your posts on this issue have been marred by partisan prejudice and lending credence to the accusation that you lack objectivity on this issue.
and declare my position “ridiculous”.

Now, that does look damning, doesn’t it. After all, I have insinuated that your posts might be interpreted as marred by party politics. But wait, have you represented the true nature of the exchange? Let’s see. Here are the first remarks we make to each other:

Ah – so it seems that our contention was over the idea that an accusation, in and of itself, lent support to a position. My statement about your lack of objectivity was initially an rhetorical exercise meant to demonstrate the fallacy of that idea. Whether your later posts lent evidence to support the acusation was a possibility that I raised.

Why, it almost seems that you have pulled my quotations out of context in order to present a distorted view of my posts. If I engaged in the IzzR standard of conduct I suppose that I would now brand you a liar. I might even use the word sanctimonious, since that seems to be another favorite from the IzzyR lexicon.

Actually, I do not think you harbor the conscious intent to deceive. Having reviewed our past exchanges I think it more likely that this is another example of your arrogance. You seem to have a pattern of viewing your own interpretation of any statement as the only “reasonable” one. Alternatives are “preposterous”, “ridiculous”, or “unwarranted”. I have to tell you, Izzy, I have a pretty healthy intellectual ego, but even I can’t pull of the sheer hubris necessary to exalt my opinions to the realm of unassailable fact. I would be impressed if I were not so disgusted.

Which brings us to your next point.

It is. Frankly, none these exchanges have required any perticular depth of involvement, either intellectually or emotionally, on my part. Until this very thread, I doubt I ever did more than oen a response window and respond to your posts “on the fly”. That is my usual M.O., and I recall nothing from those threads that would have forced a deviation.

I appreciate your characterization of me as “reasonably intelligent”. Rest assured, though, that I do not count eidetic memory among my talents. Perhaps you do. Perhaps your unfailing recall of detail is the source of your overweening self-importance. Why, anyone who did not recall your magnificence (after repeated exposure, no less) simply must be lying about it.


Why, such a person might even be bizarrely driven to actually ask what the source of the problem was in a feeble effort to further compound his dishonesty in some insane version of ethical seppuku.

Or maybe, just maybe, you never really made that much of an impression until you started calling me liar.

There was a trial here a minute ago, or at least an accusation.

Well, IzzyR, I do hope that I have least satisfied your desire to have your “actual examples” responded to in a “substantive way”.

As to your “dismissal” of the case, I find it unsatisfying. Apparently you are simply acknowleging that nobody else has supported your charge. You have neither rescinded the accusation nor apologized for the mischaracterization. In fact, it appears you remain personally convinced that I am intellectually dishonest and a liar. Is my assessment correct?

Spiritus Mundi:

Oh great one, what is thy bidding?

::gets down on one knee::

The impudent one who has wrongly accused thee hath also indicted thy lowly and unworthy minion, myself, with an accusation of groveling.

He seems unwilling to provide cites.

Though I am unworthy I beg thee to address this issue and clear my name.

Or, may I have him?


Hell, scylla, I wouldn’t dream of keeping you leashed. It just ain’t natural. I cry havoc and loose the sea-monster of war.

Good luck chasing down IzyR’s supporting evidence. I fear it may prove even less substantial than the OP.