Poisoning the Well

DISCLAIMER: Views expressed in this article represent the views of this particular author and do not necessarily represent the editorial position of www.filipino-freethinkers-22d5b3.ingress-earth.easywp.com.

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With the recent embarrasment brought about by one of our articles, I sometimes wish that the Filipino Freethinkers had a formal organizational and editorial structure where we could actually sanction erring members and take down their articles. But the FF is not a formal organization, and the fact that most of our readers – and critics – believe otherwise does not change this. In fact, the FF can be described better not by what it is but by what it is not:

  • The FF is not a cult where members are indoctrinated to blindly follow a leader.
  • The FF members do not have a common philosophy or a guiding philosopher or thinker.
  • The FF members do not have a common preferred political system.
  • The FF members do not have a common preferred economic system.
  • The FF members do not have a common goal for the Philippines.
  • The FF members do not have a common stand on the existence of God.
  • And this may come as a surprise: the FF members do not have a common stand on the RH Bill.

If there is anything the FF tries to foster, it is freethought, meaning members are encouraged to form their individual opinions on the basis of science, logic, and reason and not be influenced by authority, tradition, or any other dogma. As such, the FF actually does not have an official stand on contraceptives and the RH Bill; what we strongly oppose is the meddling of the CBCP on an issue that should have been independently decided by the lawmakers of the state. The CBCP represents everything that is against freethought: papal authority, Christian tradition, and Catholic dogma. So whether we dissent or agree with the CBCP on certain issues is beside the point; it is their arrogant insistence that Philippine law should be subservient to Vatican law that pisses us off.

But in spite of this informal structure of the FF, as one of the writers I am deeply saddened by the recent damage to our website’s credibility. Forgive me for saying this, but what I find more disturbing is the cavalier manner in which my fellow writer tried to dismiss the accusations by downplaying the issue. I take my writing seriously, and the FF website is not “just a blog”.

As such, I urge my fellow writer to post a real response because that dismissive comment simply made it worse. If the accusations are unfounded, do say so and state for the record. But if the allegations are valid, I believe the following would be the courageous thing to do:

  • admit it
  • take down the article
  • apologize
  • offer an explanation, not an excuse
  • acknowledge that this explanation does not justify the act
  • apologize again

I must stress that this is no longer about our stalker; just because it was a Randroid who found out and exposed the alleged plagiarism doesn’t make it any less serious. But again, I’m speaking only for myself as an author and not as an ‘official’ editor.

And to our stalker, thank you for keeping us on our toes. Bask in Schadenfreude while you can because I believe you actually have something valid against us this time. But as to your other accusations about us being enemies of reason, let me share with you Wes’ comment in another post, which also explains why this article is titled Poisoning the Well, because that’s exactly what you are doing:

“…it’s the fact that VB and his group resorted to a lot of below-the-belt name-calling and personal attacks *aimed at the whole group* that really showed their lack of maturity.

Generalizations like what he did could be akin to saying that *all* PEX’ers are complete assholes just because he didn’t like what one writer had to say. This site hosts a lot of different viewpoints, some may agree with Objectivism, some may not. It’s how well you defend your side that shows what you’re truly made of.

But all I saw in VB’s counter-arguments (aside from the oh-so-mature name-calling) could be summed up into “you just don’t understand the true essence of our philosophy because you disagree with us. Go read our sacred scriptures again until you agree with us.” How can you even begin to open up a constructive discussion with a mindset like that? Shouldn’t they instead call themselves “Objectionists” because they object to other people objecting about their object of infatuation?”


  1. Just to finally settle this issue, I also posted my response in Ryan's post:
    Okay people, I really want to settle this issue once and for all. First of all, my apologies for not having the time to read all your comments. I already added the disclaimer to my blog post. My ONLY reason for writing that post on Objectivism is because I observed that a significant number of people in this community seem to be putting too much attention to personal attacks from a blog that promotes Objectivism; without a true understanding of the belief system. The Facebook page, forum discussions seem to be filled with reactions to statements by a group (probably just one) promoting Objectivism. I decided to support this community because I think that it is very important that a group that promotes science and reason need to exist in a very theocratic country…It really disappoints me that this group's attention seem to be diverted to fending off insults and condemnation from a blog that promotes Objectivism. Objectivism is just a tiny insignificant movement that's not even recognized by anyone in the academic world. Objectivism is not a real philosophy and Ayn Rand is not considered by many as a real philosopher.

    If anyone of you have carefully read my blog post and compared it to the source of this plagiarism complaint, you would immediately notice that he wrote it in such a way that the plagiarism was intentional. And it seems very obvious that he has a personal grudge against me personally for writing that post. (Just look at the insults and effort he made, not to mention repetitive mention of my full name). My blog post on Objectivism is roughly a 3,000-word essay and I only wrote it in my free time. It is a very tedious process to write a piece of this length about a subject that is so broad…which just became recently familiar to me. I just missed adding some of the links and properly revising text portions of my post; it was an honest mistake, and unintentional. If you have doubts, just check the links I cited as sources and compare the ratio.

    If you want to talk about intellectual honesty, that's perfectly fine. To begin with, I always used my real name and NOT hide under multiple online profiles. My blog post never insulted or morally condemned anyone personally, but a great number of the comments I received were insults and condemnation (mostly from Objectivists). And yet most people seem to immediately give merit to the source of this plagiarism complaint; never mind the malicious intention and personal attacks; never mind that the ideas, tactics, and words he used were just imitation of Ayn Rand's; never mind that he posts malicious statements in the online pages of this group under different names, and so on…

    Just to end this issue, I have already added the disclaimer in my blog post and revised portions of the text. I encourage anyone who has the time and passion to to edit it if there are still errors, factual inaccuracies, unrevised content that would be still considered as plagiarized, and so on. If that is still not enough, then please feel free to take it down. It's perfectly fine with me. If there is someone who has the time to write and replace it with a better one, that would be cool. I only wrote it because I can't find a comprehensive article about Objectivism that would help other people in this community understand the reason behind the personal attacks when arguing with Objectivists.

    In my opinion, the best way to stop the discussions and petty issues from Objectivists is to completely ignore them. By responding to their personal attacks, it just gives them more online 'street' credibility (if there is such a word). I'm all for being open but not too open that people with malicious motives are still allowed to post links and statements in the online pages of this community; and I think it's very easy to identify them.

    Search engines analyze links and keyword phrases to determine the ranking of search results. Hence, if you would respond to his attacks, you are just making his insults and negative comments about you have a higher page ranking. To demonstrate, I checked some of the names who responded to the personal insults of this guy, and his blog is one of the top results in Google search. So please don't respond or counterattack; just move on to the bigger issues – religion, overpopulation, corruption, declining education, Vatican scandal, etc…

    Just to reassure the people who are sincere in writing for this community, my sincere apologies to you all. I did not intend to demean your effort for this group, in fact, I enjoy reading your articles; and please continue contributing. My blog post was just a response to the increasing attention placed on Objectivism, and nothing more than that.

    I hope this response will finally settle this issue once and for all. And honestly, I really don't have the time and effort to pursue this further.


    • Thank you for your reply, Karlo. Honestly, I'm not satisfied with it, but I've already said what I had to say and so I shall hold my peace. Furthermore, I shall defer to Red on this matter because I trust his judgment and I want it to be his call considering he has the most to lose if this goes bad and does real damage to the FF. Since he acts with calmness during this challenging time, perhaps I might as well should. 🙂

  2. sawsaw lang…

    when i saw the list enumerating what the FF is not; i can't help but think of Ryan and Ram discussionS esp about Po-Mo, it's refreshing when i see someone criticizing the stand of a founder with the founder gracefully accepting the challenge and defend his stand with civility…

    anyway, on a lighter note, The FF members do not even have a common choice in alcoholic drinks. ^_^


  3. as for generalizations, it was my view with the poet and still my view now; you really know a person you see them eye to eye and you spend time with them. even then all you have are estimates. getting to know takes a lifetime and sometimes that is not enough.

    and that is what we are trying to do every Sunday, get to know each other. we believe in our mutual distrust of an establishment that does not tolerate questions or change.

    there are disagreements. there is also apathy. there are those who are still in the closet of sorts. there are those who are just so bloody healthy i can't share a beer with them, but so what. there are those who just fill my plate with vegetables; not my favorite with beer but he's a great guy with an eeky taste in scifi shows (wink).

    those nuances one doesn't see in the net so absent of humanity and opportunities to make reasonable judgments.

    we still have a long way to go but at the very least we build friendships and that is always a start. and that is more that i can say for the randroid or the poet.

    so next Sunday guys, ill meet you earlier than happy hour. cheers

  4. Great post innerminds, it is interesting how the relationships that result say more about who we are.

    The ability to tolerate and understand the views of others has a relation to being mindful of the flaws of one's own argument or ideas. Familiarity breeding contempt happens to apply to the ideals we understand most intimately.

    Civil discussion goes out the window when you meet the likes of VB and his army of stalker puppet accounts. Sorry but when he tried to befriend me more than once with some of them and learning who it really was, trying to gather information to post on his blog is kind of UBER CREEPY! He even got one of his followers to give him a print screen of my profile which is found on his blog post about me. I mean who experiences that without setting off the crazy bells alarm or cause the hair at the back of your neck to stand on end?

  5. Innerminds: I'm just a bit concerned over the choice of title.. or maybe I'm just reading too much into it.

    anyway, i hope karlo does the right thing, not just to save face (his *or* this organization's) but to show strength of character. after all, you get to see the true measure of a man not by his achievements, but by how he picks himself up after he stumbles.

    suggestions have already been made by various people as to how he could proceed, but in the end, its up to him.

    you know that there are *people out there* who would just love to kick a man when he's down (that shows *their* type of character), who would gleefully insist that there's no way to fix things once you've messed up… but they're WRONG. redemption? salvation? atonement? those aren't just within the purview of religion… its within over very humanity to right our wrongs and come our a better man for it.

    ok I think I should stop there before the drama-level starts turning everyone's stomach… can't help it, I just finished watching Keira in Atonement an hour ago and I'm still feeling the vibes… mmm… Keira in wet see-through undergarments….mmmmm…

  6. agree, it would be a shame if Karlo took it all down. It was a good effort in consolidating a sort of "best of the best" in the web. The ideas merit discussion and would give more exposure to the local audience who wouldn't stumble upon it otherwise. I hope the original authors would all agree to have their work quoted *properly* this time.

    • @wes

      I hope you did not take my previous reply to you as a sign of my self-righteousness. If you want an explanation of my reactions, kindly read my reply to Ryan's reply to JG's comment.

      If you're curious about the nature of the plagiarism cases that plagued our class, most of them were of the nature of improper citation. And perhaps for non-scientists, the reactions of our professors were "OA". It was OA to me, back then. But that's the way it's done in science, and as I said in a previous reply, "If we at FF value science, then I believe we ought adopt the values of science."

      By the way, if only Karlo presented his piece as "a sort of 'best of the best' in the web", then there would have been no problem. In fact, it would have been great!

      • point well taken Pecier. I hope Karlo will also take your viewpoint to heart. I only hope that as a community, as *the FF community*, we turn this into something constructive and learn from it.

        What pissed me off most about our so-called critics is all that ballyhoo about it being an unforgivable, incurable, (and of lot of other in-'s and un-'s) travesty of infinite proportions to the gazillion-gazillionth power… Talk about about drama-queen.

        But that hate's coming from an Objectivist whose primary virtue is selfishness. But majority of us here in the FF are secular humanists, meaning to say, we help each other out if we can because we live or die as a species. And there's nothing wrong, nor weak about asking for help either.

        This is a critical point in this org's history, and we can either show our support for each other in helping right a wrong or burn each other at the stake for every mistake made.

        So moving forward? We can all pitch in to help with the re-work or volunteer technical writing expertise, document it (in a positive way, hopefully) so future writers can likewise benefit from the lessons learned, and come up with guidelines to avoid future pitfalls. We could start drafting it in this sunday's meetup.

  7. Thanks to VB, fixing the articles for plagiarism won't be that hard, and for spotting these citation errors I am thankful. In general, I appreciate healthy debate on any of the points our members make on their posts. But as you said, and as Wes put it so eloquently, it's the personal attacks and overgeneralizations I don't like.

    Anyway, Tin suggested that instead of taking the articles down, Karlo should edit the plagiarism out of his article and add a brief note, summarizing all that's happened and apologizing for it. What I suggest is that Karlo write version 2.0 of the article as a new post, with a link to the original version for the sake of transparency. Both versions should contain the introductory note Tin suggested.

    As always, others are welcome to chime in and make suggestions, but at the end of the day, it's Karlo's call.

    Or perhaps it's time we agreed on an editorial policy? (of course, not on the subject matter but on style, mechanics, and issues such as plagiarism)

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