Sunday, October 31, 2010

Ernst, Ernest, and Ernie

Thommy Stark, as I have said, is a dishonest manipulator who doesn’t do his homework and never wants to admit error, and there’s plenty of examples of how. But I’m going to focus on one in particular here, which he can expect me to bring up repeatedly for the rest of eternity, along with many others.

Background – I appealed to the work of a scholar named Ernst Herzfeld for a point in an older article. In a more recent reply to Thommy, I appealed to the same work, only instead of calling him Ernst Herzfeld, I referred to him as Ernest Herzfeld.

The other day, I said that I couldn’t recall why I did this. I thought it may have been a typo; or it may have been a subconscious remembrance of my community college classes in German coming through, for as I have noted, “Ernest” is just a proper Anglicanization of Ernst. (See an example of both being used here and also an interesting explanation of the relationship between the two, as last names, here.) More recently, I thought it was also possible that Microsoft Word automatically “corrected” Ernst to Ernest, and this seemed to be the case while I typed this entry, at first; but if that was the case, it no longer does so.

But it really doesn’t matter how or why this happened and why Ernst got changed to Ernest. The point rather is that Thommy decided to make a big deal of it, thusly:

Holding claims that I am unaware of the work of Ernst ("Or “Ernest,” if you ask Holding as of 10/28/10) Herzfeld on Son of Man and am unaware of the way that Bar Enash (Son of Man) was used in Old Babylonian to depict royalty.

Since, as I said, the two variations are both legitimate spellings, Thommy ends up looking more of a fool than usual here. It illustrates something I have said of many critics of Christianity: They don’t do their homework before mouthing off. And actually, even common sense and logic should have told Thommy that it MIGHT be possible that the two versions were both legitimate, but Thommy obviously lacked even that component of intellectualism here – which is something else I have said about him.

Everyone makes mistakes, of course. But only a fool chooses to make such a big deal over someone’s mistakes (especially a trivial one), mouthing off about it without checking to be sure his own house is in order. Thus here, Thommy proved himself a fool of the highest order, someone whose concern for accuracy and integrity is at a bare minimum standard. (This is also why I don't mock other people's possible typos, unless they either do so to mine first or there is ample reason to think it is not merely a typo: Eg, Richard Carrier spelling "Revelation" with an S on the end.)

And you can bet I’ll hit Stark on the head with this bungle a lot over the next several years until he admits his error. That, and his error in having Loftus as an endorsee.

Have a happy eternity,Thommy.


  1. Some people will take any victory they can and if that is a confused biblical reference or a misspelled name or something of that sort, they'll take it.

  2. Hi J.P.,

    I read this when you originally posted it and considered responding, but figured it wasn't worth the trouble, but since you're apparently making good on your commitment to "hit Thom on the head with it", I thought I'd post this.

    I read Thom's original blog post in which this appeared (which has since been taken down, along with his other blog posts). The sentence you referenced appeared in a footnote, so I think it's an exaggeration to say Thom made "a big deal" of the spelling mistake -- it was more of a jab-between-the-ribs, a rhetorical device you should be perfectly familiar with.

    I don't think Thom's point was that "Ernst" can't be spelled as "Ernest", but rather, that the scholar "Ernst Herzfeld", in fact, /does not use/ the latter spelling for his name. (In the same way, "Tom" is a common nickname for "Thomas", but someone who referred to Thom as "Tom Stark" would be in error, because that's not how Thom actually spells his name). So I think the implication is that by referring to him as "Ernest", perhaps you're not as familiar with Herzfeld and his work as you're claiming. Now I think Thom is probably wrong here -- more likely you just made a spelling mistake.

    Why setting the record straight on minutiae like this interests me, I'll never know...

  3. >>> The sentence you referenced appeared in a footnote,

    That doesn't matter in the least. It is trivia that should not have been raised AT ALL.

    >>> -- it was more of a jab-between-the-ribs, a rhetorical device you should be perfectly familiar with.

    Yes, I am -- but I don't use in my own repertoire because it is cheap and tawdry. The only time I *do* use it is when someone else does first -- as a way of binding them with their own standard -- or else when they ie, make claims to never make mistakes, etc.

    >>>but rather, that the scholar "Ernst Herzfeld", in fact, /does not use/ the latter spelling for his name.

    This and the Thom/Tom analogy is invalid because this is a matter of spelling between two different languages.

    >>> Now I think Thom is probably wrong here -- more likely you just made a spelling mistake.

    As I said, I have no idea what happened, though I more inclined now to think it was Word "correcting" the spelling. For my Ticker post the other day, it kept "correcting" the names of the Greco-Roman rhetorical devices (eg, peroratio to peroration; refutatio to refutation, always adding the "n" on the end).

    Bottom line though, is Stark is showing his true colors when he harps on the minutiae -- and then refuses to admit it when he's called down for it.

  4. I'm near the end of reading Stark's extended whinge against Copan, and he makes a similar big deal about Copan allegedly spelling Matthew Flannagan's name wrong (it could have been an editor, or a wayward spellcheck like mine). So he must sure like to jab that same rib. Or maybe...he's just a petty little creep with insecurities who feels a need to point such things out. :D