The recent comments by Scott Church and Anonymous on "poisoning the well" may reveal an interesting strategy on their part, one that I call "pimping the well".
Their argument is that some people, such as myself, employ a strategy in which the intentions of their opponents are maligned rather than addressing their arguments. An inherent assumption here is that such efforts will work (or would work if there wasn't a shrill chorus of "poisoning the well" accusations). This might be the case if the arguments did not stand by themselves and they absolutely needed some authority on the part of the person making the argument.
Scott Church was quick to point out the credentials of Luke Barnes and even went so far as to say that Barnes' "home page (linked from this blog) lists his CV, his research, his popular and refereed publications … everything one needs to vet his claims". This, I think, is a clear case of "pimping the well". Look how well (ha ha) credentialed this person is, his arguments must therefore be true.
That's not how it works. Barnes' arguments would be correct if they are correct, even if he were a complete nobody with no history. And they'll be incorrect, if they are incorrect, despite having ticked all the boxes.
While I am at it, I would like to point out another little peculiarity. Scott first, but then Anonymous, wanted to paint me as guilty of poisoning the well. Anonymous even wants me to "to withdraw the objections rather than keep defending the indefensible".
It seems to have escaped their notice that, at least in recent times, I have posted two different comments on Barnes' blog: one addressing his paper with Geraint Lewis (reproduced with links intact here) and another addressing his diproton disaster. These are quite different comments.
The former, which I wrote first but which appeared on his blog later, attacks his stance as a cloaked theist in general and his association with the Templeton Foundation specifically. I made absolutely no comment on the content of the document that he was referring to, the paper co-authored with Geraint Lewis. I have no idea what arguments they have deployed, so how could I?
In the latter, I made comments about the arguments in his diproton disaster paper, but I made no comment whatsoever about his theism.
The accusation of "poisoning the well" only stands if you read these comments together and ignore the fact that they are completely different comments addressing different issues, written at different times. Effectively, what these people (Scott Church and his anonymous admirer) are implying is that since I have questioned Barnes' impartiality in a comment (and a number of my own blog posts), then any comments I make about his arguments, no matter how hygienically (ie without making any attempt to poison the well in my comments on his arguments by acknowledging his theism, be it cloaked or otherwise), then I have fallaciously poisoned my own well, making my objections invalid. In other words, they are saying it's a fallacy when they (erroneously) claim that I have committed it, but it's not a fallacy when they imply that I am the victim of it (apparently as an "own goal").
One has to admire the chutzpah of these people. I'd be ashamed to be involved in such duplicity, but they have an extraordinary level of self-confidence and self-righteousness that the rest of us can only aspire to. And their efforts to be cast in the role of victim are worthy of an Oscar.