Intellectual honesty, misinformation, and cognitive dissonance

Previously I noted that my essay on intellectual honesty is still working its way through cyberspace. Today, I took the time to more carefully scan the replies/comments at Democratic Underground.  And while the overwhelming response was positive, there are a couple of comments worth responding to.

In one comment, a user with the handle RufusTFirefly spread some misinformation:

List originates (apparently) from a Web site called “Above Top Secret”

Above Top Secret

Further disseminated through a Web site called The Design Matrix (as in Intelligent Design) here:
The Design Matrix

RufusTFirefly has it backwards.  I wrote the essay and it was posted on my original Design Matrix blog and “Above Top Secret” was just one of the sites that further disseminated it.

Unfortunately, I cannot prove this simply and quickly because my original blog was hacked about a year ago and is now gone.  Nevertheless, there is more than enough evidence to establish I am correct.

On October 20, 2008 I posted the essay, “10 Signs of Intellectual Honesty” on my original book blog.  Someone at this blog must have noted the time stamp on my original blog:

“The 10 Signs of Intellectual Honesty”, written by Mike Gene and published October 20, 2008 on, does an excellent job of outlining an extremely important concept. I do my very best every day to ensure I am completely honest with myself and others, and there is little doubt that the world would be a much better place if everyone else did the same.

On October 22, 2008, the blog Telic Thoughts noticed the essay and linked to it.

On October 26, 2008, my blog entry was submitted to   It got about 750 votes and sent over 100,000 hits to my original blog.  This overwhelmed the server at the time, so if you scroll down the page a little more than half-way, someone with the handle cigerect reposted the essay in reddit’s comments section. There it is also dated as “October 20th, 2008 by Mike Gene”

At this point, the essay was being posted and further disseminated on many other blogs/forums, including “Above Top Secret,” which posted the essay on October 26, 2008 (after the reddit submission sent it viral).

Of course, all of this should be obvious because the “Above Top Secret” site provides the link to my original blog after pasting the essay.

And this takes us to another comment from another user with the handle, Starry Messenger, who seems to be experiencing cognitive dissonance:

I was hoping someone would read that though. I was just cracking on the irony of this set of rules in the OP being compiled by a guy who basically champions intelligent design.

Starry Messenger would have to better define both “champion” and “intelligent design” to derive any real basis for his/her sense of irony, but my suspicion is that he/she is relying on labels and stereotypes as a basis for their misplaced sense of irony.  The true irony is in someone responding to my essay about intellectual honesty with an intellectually dishonest crack.

2 responses to “Intellectual honesty, misinformation, and cognitive dissonance

  1. Hi, Mike. With nothing better to do on a Saturday, I followed that thread, too, and noticed the incorrect attribution to “Above Top Secret,” also. I was relieved (for you 🙂 to see that corrected as I scrolled farther down the thread.

    Then I saw Starry Messenger’s comment and felt irked for the rest of the evening!

    Your essay was bright enough that it illuminated a bit of a dark spot in Starry’s cognitive schema. Too bad s/he’s not able to see that.

    Maybe somehow s/he’ll find your blog and the initial dissonance will give way to a new and more comprehensive understanding of “intellectual honesty.”

    Learning might happen! Starry’s message could change a little! (This is the season of hope!)

  2. Nicely said, Dave. Nicely said.

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