Responding to Painful Internet Prose with Writing Advice

I recently received the following comment on my Facebook page. I’ve received so many atrociously structured comments like this over the years that I finally just broke down and literally responded with writing advice.

you know, i enjoyed watching your vids, sorta took me back to my university days, and since you have proven that i am a BRILLIANT schizophrenic because God is all in my head and He does wonderful things for me, i’m choosing my awesome psychosis instead of the math and physics that i left behind coz of stress induced mini strokes haha… in the future, try and remember the us Christians don’t worship your intellect the same way you do, and it’s boring after a while, well it was boring long before the video ended, to be more clear… now i think that if you accepted that waves are acting like particles, instead of particles acting like waves, it would help you realize the interconnectedness of ‘STUFF’ and that there is no ‘0’ and there is no ‘1’ to evidence your mathematics on… kinda like your ooozy example, but not really :P and ‘faith’ is not believing in spite of a lack of evidence, faith is simply getting into agreement with God, surfing His waves instead of colliding with them and making them appear as if they never existed, you remember grade school mechanics and wave motion right? there is no hell, stop it with that shit… it doesn’t take much research at all to figure out there is no hell, about 15 minutes into the meanings of the original words in the Bible… and it also doesn’t take a genius to realize that the lake of fire is a metaphor for God’s purifying coolness and that it would be considered a good thing in the end… and who gives a rat’s butt if the Bible is a crazy book, it’s the one God likes to quote, and you just have to deal with it, it’s God’s word because He uses it, not because He freakin’ WROTE IT, how is it possible that you were such a stupid Christian and now you’re so smart as an atheist, hmmm? what a miraculous transformation, indeed, something from nothing haha… i wrote you on youtube, about some books by a guy named ‘Wink’.. they are about ‘the powers’.. ie, angels and demons etc… they are metaphor in the Bible, but still real, they are the psychic portion, the ‘spiritual’ energy of people, organizations, countries… and we personify this energy usually, or some of us do… some just say ‘bad vibes dude’…. but anyway, is it possible that God is the spiritual outcropping of the universes? instead of the universes being a outcropping of God? and does it really matter which is true? maybe it does, we don’t know yet haha… even if God comes from us, the universe and everything, does it really make Him any less real? it’s your choice, you seem very attached to the trend of appearing to be clever as an atheist, but how stupid is it to not learn how to get in line with the ultimate power of the universe?
and gosh did you make me mad when you somehow separated God and truth, and set off to find the truth like a true dumbass who figured he could reason it out when everybody else EVER has failed… don’t worry, i still search for the truth, that’s what it’s all about right, but when it’s promised that we will know the truth, well the truth is a person, not something arrived at be rules of logic/linguistics, etc as fun as those are… God said ‘come let us reason together’ i would take Him up on that invite, coz you’re not doing all that great on yer own :P

Evid3nc3:
Please reacquaint yourself with 10th-grade level punctuation as well as sentence and paragraph structure conventions. Your prose is painful to look at, let alone attempt to read.

Here is a page on how to structure sentences. You’ll want to pay close attention to the sections on “Run-on sentences” and “Rambling sentences” near the bottom, because you are doing a lot of those:
http://esl.fis.edu/learners/advice/syntax.htm

Here is a page on how to structure paragraphs. One idea per paragraph, unity, coherence, logical bridges: all great stuff. Pay close attention to the section on “How do I know when to start a new paragraph?”. You definitely aren’t getting that one quite right:
http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/606/01/

30 comments on “Responding to Painful Internet Prose with Writing Advice

  1. Tom Horwat says:

    That was pretty hard going trying to make some sense of that, Punctuation seems to be a dying art these days, it makes you wonder what English teachers are doing during class time.

  2. Julian says:

    I don’t think this person is necessarily joking about being schizophrenic. The post has the classic “word salad” quality associated with schizophrenia and the degree of disorganized thinking expressed in the post would be rare in someone whose brain is fully functional. On a more hopeful note, s/he also may have been stoned (in drug sense, not the biblical sense).

  3. Yes, that is painful to look at. I only got through 1/8 before giving up.

  4. jgbellamy says:

    He sounds very new age with the “spiritual vibe” thing. My dad, who is a christian pastor and believes in the literal interpretation of the bible, would not accept this guy’s arguments any more that you or I.
    Not sure if this is the place for this, but…
    I am a new atheist. I just admitted that fact to my wife for the first time last night. I recently stumbled on to your videos and they were exactly what I was looking for: a sound argument that reflected my own experiences and beliefs (or lack thereof). I also appreciated how you were very fair and open in how you dealt with christianity. I might not subscribe to the lord anymore but I don’t look down at people who do.

    • evid3nc3 says:

      I agree that the opinions above would not vibe with mainstream Evangelical Christians. Thanks for the thoughts on the series. They mean a lot. Best of luck in your future developments.

      • jgbellamy says:

        Thanks, evid3nc3.
        Do you ever still fear hell and damnation? Maybe it sounds absurd but that nagging feeling still comes back to me when I’m alone and it’s quiet. In fact saying out loud that I am an atheist is still something I feel uneasy doing. Go figure.

        • evid3nc3 says:

          Regarding your fear of Hell, I highly recommend watching NonStampCollectors video:

          Free Will – “God Style” PART 3; Finale

          It is an important component for the argument for why Hell is not something a truly rational and truly loving God would create.

          Also, remember: we have no evidence that Hell even exists. Only hearsay and fear. We have every reason to think it is just a product of the human imagination.

          • jgbellamy says:

            That video was both cute and well put. I realize that my fear is illogical. It’s just a result of my emotional self catching up with my intellectual self. Years of belief aren’t easily washed away. Thanks for the feedback and suggestion. It’s cool to find a blog where the author can be interactive with the reader.

          • J.Kuiper says:

            Did some research about hell from a historians perspective. It might help to decrease the belief in hell even further: (For anyone interested:
            The history of the Christian hell can be traced from atleast ancient times till now.
            ‘Sheol’ (jewish) the neutral grave of the Old Testament only became segregated after the Babylonian Exile. (enemies would be in the outskirts of sheol, the first segregation was quite mild compared to later punishment) Before this God pointed his rage towards the living.
            The grave was ruled by the spirits of the ancestors before the institutes in Jeruzalem during the Deutronomic Reform decided that a monotheïstic grave would be better for consolidating power. This way people couldn’t fall back on polytheïsm and the spirits in ‘sheol’ wouldn’t be a front opposing God.
            After the reinvention of God during the Exile of the Jews a ‘moral death’ became a necessity as it became clear God did not live up to the expectation. A new image of God had to be created to make him fit reality. Because God wouldn’t exterminate the living, he would punish the dead. And so punishment in the grave became the answer.

            From the early Christian era the idea of hell was shaped mainly by “visio’s” of people physically or in spirit visiting hell. These visio’s were often found years after the alledged author died. Gregory the Great granted them authority, and used this to write his own visions of hell, filled with political messages.
            From here untill the synthesis of image of hell by Dante the hell changed mainly because of earthly powerstruggles, just as it did in the ancient times. Examples are the vision of Charles the Fat, Beda’s vision, Dante’s commedia, etc.
            In other cases the hell even became part of the conflict between the eastern and western church. The formation of purgatory is a good example of this. Purgatory in itself became a tool for exploiting people and controlling the living through the dead.
            It is not hard to see how the concept of hell is shaped around human fantasy, pragmatism, and political use.
            Some sources: Allen Bernstein (formation of hell), Alice K,Turner (history of Hell), Karin Armstrong, (History of God), Jaques le Goff (Birth of purgatory).
            Wrote a long version (27 pages) in dutch, my native language, so I hope you’ll forgive my clumsy writing in english. But I hope that someone who still feels uneasy at the thought of hell can let it go a bit after reading how it is a human concept from a to z. :)

        • Phillip Hustwick says:

          From my own experience and listening to many deconversion stories. It is quite normal to still have some sort of fear of hell. I was brain washed from birth into Christianity and deconverted when I was 24. I’m 26 now and about once a month I wonder what if hell exists. This only lasts for a few seconds until my brain kicks in and I realize there is no evidence for hell. Still, it is a frighting few seconds.

          • I’ve never been frightened by the concept of hell, only by the people who believe it exists. The fact that some of my own family (thankfully not my immediate family) believe that hell exists, that I and almost everyone are going, and that they are not, is truly disturbing and quite frankly enraging. That they could stomach the idea of the rest of the world suffering for all eternity while they live forever in bliss is shocking and deeply disappointing. I believe it’s all truly good believer’s responsibility, to the rest of humanity and to a truly good deity, to boycott heaven.

          • Phillip Hustwick says:

            You actually took the words right out of my mouth. Hell is probably the most disturbing doctrine of Christianity. But what I find disappointing is that when you explain why Hell is awful to Christians, you only get back denial.

  5. Michael Rupp says:

    I do not envy you for dealing with posters like that. I’ve dealt with a few and I’m not even putting myself out there much for scrutiny like you do. If I leave their comment unresolved, I feel like they will do a mental victory dance and go on with their life still ignorant, but answering their message in a thoughtful way to reach them in words they will understand is time consuming, and often fruitless.

    I think their is a parallel though between the inexperienced thinkers of the world posting their “thoughts” on comments sections, and drunk people having fist fights in bars. In both cases they have a profound lack of understanding of their insufficient skills such that they don’t realize how bad the event will go against them. They are emotionally charged by misinterpreting the situation at hand and driven to change it immediately. Their senses that were dampened enough in the first place allowing them to begin a fight are also deceiving them into thinking they are winning the fight, or at least not taking on any damage. After all is done and forgotten, they don’t carry with them any salient information about their mistakes, thus are doomed to repeat the mistakes again and again.

  6. jgbellamy says:

    I found this documentary about proving evolution by testing hypotheses and producing evidence. I know it’s unrelated to the above prose but it is relevant to the overall topic of this site.
    http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/facts-evolution/

  7. dezprasduas says:

    Considerations about your last video “3.4.1(2) Atheism: Objections to Evidentialism”.

    To start, I see this evidentialism based on the assumptions made in consideration to our senses experiences as relative, just for the fact of not being entirely possible to be confirmed. I experience things different from anyone else in the world. I affirm this considering the psychological and historical aspects of my subjectivity. Actually, the arguments based on senses experiences is completely subjective.

    I agree that we can measure observable things and then we can call it evidence and use it as a base for an understanding. Further than that, it’s all going to be about subjectivity. Not to be an extremist, I will try to exemplify what I’m saying about psychological and historical subjectivity.

    I experience my senses in a completely subjective way because my body and my mind suffers a unique modification every time I have contact with anything, be it mentally of physically. The history of my cells chance, the history of my memory changes, everything I call “I” changes just by thinking about it, just like you have been changing very since your first thoughts about your own beliefs. How can I affirm that? Well, the changes are actually observable, but not the impacts of these happenings in my perception. The way I experience an ice-cream is completely different from your experience, because 1) I hate the taste and all the sensations ice-cream gives me since very young and 2) you cannot considerer YOU as having exactly the same psychological and historical reactions I have. For that, what happens to you can NEVER be exactly the same that happens to me or anyone else.

    So again, the evidentialism based on the assumptions made in consideration to our senses experiences is relative and for that not fully trustable. If you are seeking the Truth you cannot follow this. But, and this I agree with you, if you are seeking the Truth trough the evidences based on measurable verifications you will be closer to find it. Anyway, for me, this “radical evidentialism” will be limited by the current knowledge, and technology, of our time. We are still evolving and many of our answers will only be reachable when we become capable of measuring them, but then many other questions will come and we will follow in this scenario again.

    Mathematics, I agree, is not only abstract but also extremely concrete, perfect for measuring evidences. On the other hand, we are the ones making the calculations or programming the computers to calculate our verifications. For that, I see we can fall on mistakes before being able to affirm what is true or not. So again, the results we find are relative, at least for a while.

    To conclude, and to make clear, I find myself very confortable and identified with the Relativist thought. Following this, I see your Evidentialism by two angles. One that is very trustable for being measurable, and the other one that will never be trustable for being part of one’s psychological and historical subjectivity. I hope I didn’t take too long and that my thoughts may be useful for you.

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge so openly minded as you’ve been doing.

    Guilherme Loureiro, 26, a Brazilian Psychology student.

  8. Okay, well I just mustered the will to stomach reading that post. I have no idea what they were attempting to say. They seem to presume an awful lot considering the way they launch into language only they could understand. They seem to (as I said I don’t understand what they’re attempting) make the classic mistake of assuming it is some deficit in understanding on the part of others that prevents others from perceiving what to them are obvious elements of their faith, when in fact it is because the way they experience their faith is entirely subjective and beyond the perception of others. The criticisms leveled at you sometimes contradict themselves in the same sentence (easy, considering most of the sentences are friggin huge). This is so typical in so many ways but so astounding in its bungled delivery…

    How often do you receive this kind of feed-back?

  9. bluepasj says:

    Wow, I’m not even american and I can write sentences in english better than this guy. But I guess the problem is excess of speed-writting in cellphone messages and internet.

  10. Brett says:

    That was exceptionally painful to read. It is unbelievable (to me) that people comment on youtube and other media sources without at least attempting decent grammatical structure and cannot, at least, write out full words. It is one thing to be a terrible speller, another to have terrible sentence structure, etc. It really defeats the purpose of writing the comment to begin with!

  11. Steve says:

    The most disappointing thing from my perspective is the level of arrogance shown by the poster, coupled with the grammatical errors.

    The world is coming to something bad when you have to teach someone how to be arrogant towards you properly. I sometimes think we’re slipping backwards into a big black hole of ignorance – but I have to remind myself that I am not perfect either, so who am I to comment?

    I think intelligence is more powerful when coupled with humility. Either way, the original poster of that comment is falling short on both counts and it’s sad, since he/she may have had something interesting to say, if only they could figure out how to skillfully say it.

  12. Steve says:

    P.S I find myself wondering if the person took up the help that was being offered to them. I’d like to think this was the case but given my personal experiences in communicating on the internet, it’s not a given that they did (such a cynic as I am).

  13. Spugpow says:

    While the original poster was arrogant, incoherent, and wrong, I can’t say I approve of your response. Taking a cheap shot at the person’s grammar rather than their argument doesn’t achieve anything positive, nor does posting the resulting conversation online for validation from your fans (though I understand the impulse and might even be prone to it myself).

    • evid3nc3 says:

      Their argument was incomprehensible *because* of their poor grammar. My response was partly a retort to their arrogance but it was actually also partly genuine. They actually did need help in the specific areas of grammar I gave them links to.

  14. Jac Daniels says:

    I apologize for dragging this out but wanted to clarify something. Are you saying that you didn’t address the initial post’s counter arguments because they were not grammatically correct and could not be understood or identified properly?

    I am not trying to argue anything. I guess I just don’t understand why you didn’t address his arguments in addition to the grammatical “slam.” Thanks.

  15. Is this why you dismissed my friend Johanan’s comments off the bat? He doesn’t even write this terribly.

    From your reply to Spugpow: “My response was partly a retort to their arrogance but it was actually also partly genuine.”

    You do realize how arrogant that sounds in itself, right? I too thought the grammar was terrible, but I still gave the argument a shot. In fact, I think he made some good points about Biblical interpretation.

    • Steve says:

      “he doesn’t even write this terribly” followed a short while later with “I too thought the grammar was terrible”. That in itself is not a great way to support yours (or your friends) arguments.

      Secondly, I fear you’ve missed the point of this entire blog so I fear further replies are worthless. This whole blog has been about pointing out the need to articulate YOURSELF properly, to make your arguments clear so that you can be taken seriously, so that others can understand your arguments easily.

      Ironic then that this guy’s friends are having to defend his shocking inability to fend for himself. Do you see why this makes replying worthless? You have completely ignored what this whole blog has been about and I’m willing to bet a large part of that irony is wooshing over your friends head un-noticed. Point being, its about being able to argue – for yourself.

      • ““he doesn’t even write this terribly” followed a short while later with “I too thought the grammar was terrible”.”

        Of course, you don’t seem to realize that I’m talking about two people here: The first comment refers to my friend Johanan Raatz, the other refers to the unnamed person Evid3nc3 is replying to.

        “Secondly, I fear you’ve missed the point of this entire blog so I fear further replies are worthless. This whole blog has been about pointing out the need to articulate YOURSELF properly, to make your arguments clear so that you can be taken seriously, so that others can understand your arguments easily.”

        And I fear you’re missing MY point. Even if the person couldn’t articulate himself well, he still shouldn’t be singled out because of it, and “correcting” him should not be the goal of Evid3nc3’s entire reply. There’s “painful internet prose” everywhere, so why single out this particular guy?

        Also, I have been around Evid3nc3’s area for a while. I have never seen a requirement stating that one needs to have perfect grammar, at least an official one. Of course, I could have missed something. Please show me where I can find such a statement.

        • Steve says:

          As far as my misunderstanding of the fact that you were referring to two different people then I apologize, that was a genuine misunderstanding.

          “Please show me where I can find such a statement.”

          First you assume that such a statement should be necessary, then you task me with the job of pointing you to it. Neither of your suppositions is true, the statement shouldn’t be necessary and its not my task to show you where it was, should it exist – and it confirms my initial belief that a reply to you was worthless.

          “There’s “painful internet prose” everywhere, so why single out this particular guy?”

          Evidence will have to explain to you himself why he chose to single that “particular” guy out, but I suspect he gets a lot of these type of emails, a lot of emails period. Let me run an idea past you. If Evidence receives 500 badly written emails in one day, and decides to pick one out so that he can show people the type of endless stuff he’s getting in his inbox, are you going to have a problem with any or every “particular” example he picks out? Are you going to ask “why this particular guy” to every example? Or is there a reason why this guy is “particular” to you?

          For all you know, Evidence has picked out a random, particularly badly written body of writing, probably from among an endless supply of emails and forum messages and website messages sent to him, and held it up as an example of what he’s dealing with every day. Why that particular guy? Perhaps he found it a particularly good example to show. Are you hurt that its that particular guy? Would you have preferred a different example? Or maybe no example at all?

          There are so many reasons as to why good grammar is important. It’s not my job to explain them to you, I’m not as patient as Evidence when it comes to helping people explain basic skills and why they are necessary.

          • “Neither of your suppositions is true, the statement shouldn’t be necessary and its not my task to show you where it was, should it exist – and it confirms my initial belief that a reply to you was worthless.”

            OK, then why make such a big deal about it in the first place?

            “There are so many reasons as to why good grammar is important. It’s not my job to explain them to you, I’m not as patient as Evidence when it comes to helping people explain basic skills and why they are necessary.”

            Dude, I understand the importance of good grammar. I just think that occupying the “Grammar Police” seat on the internet (of…all…places…) is a complete waste of time. It makes the person doing the critique look a little too self-righteous.

            It also allows the grammar critic to dismiss good points people are trying to make for no other reason than: “The writing looks sloppy to me.”

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