An Interview with TheoryFail

By @TakeThatGMOs & @TheoryFail

A while ago we published an interview with @TakeThatDarwin which provided some interesting insight into the origins of the TakeThat™ Crowd and more details and information on @TakeThatDarwin and the whole TakeThat Family in general. 

This time, I’ll be asking @TheoryFail, a “handsome Brit” and the Prince of the TakeThat throne. 

Oh, and technically he is a TakeThat account even though he doesn’t have ‘TakeThat’ in his name as he runs the account with the same backbone of the other accounts. Here goes’

1) To start off I have to ask you about how you began with the account. When was it created and did it have anything to do with TTDarwin at first or did you discover him later? How did you know about TTD and what did you think of what he was doing? How did the relationship between you two grow and reach what it is today? 

I was one of TTDs very early followers. I think one of his tweets was RTd into my timeline by @anarchicteapot (who is wonderful, by the way. You should all go and follow,) and I started interacting with TTD at a very minor level, throwing him the odd specimen here and there. I followed as much for the comedy as the creationists. 

I had a bit of an idea to do a similar sort of thing pretty much as soon as I saw what TTD was doing, but it took me quite some time to figure out exactly what my spin would be. I finally had a eureka moment in January 2014 and the rest is history. 

2) What would you say is the ‘ultimate’ purpose of your account? How do you plan on achieving that? Why did you choose TheoryFail and did you have a different name at first? 

I’m not sure that I have an ultimate goal with regards to where I want to take @TheoryFail. It started of as a lighthearted way to shine some light on the dark world of creationism and science denialism, but now I like to think of it more as a way to highlight the need for good critical thinking skills. 

I’d like to expand into podcasting, and of course the TakeThats are doing that in general. Other than that, I’m open to suggestions. Some kind of large TakeThat gathering has been suggested, but that’s a while off!

I’ve always been @TheoryFail. The name came after a 2 minute brainstorming session, and eliminating other options because the Twitter usernames were either already taken, or too long. 

Having TakeThatSomething didn’t even cross my mind. This was before the upsurge of TakeThat accounts, and I think what TTD and I do is, albeit superficially similar, very different. TTD has regularly spoken about his unwillingness to engage, whereas I like to try and unpick the thinking behind the creationists accounts. 

3) How did you grow and become known. Did you TTD provide help to your account?

I think I sent an early tweet to TTD saying something along the lines of “Hey, I’m doing what you do, but for ‘only a theory'” Then I got a few mentions by TTD and a LOT of support from people like @tattoosandbones and I picked up 1000 followers in a short period of time. 

4) Why did you choose the specific fields of pseudoscience you chose? And generally, why did you stick with evolution instead of branching out? 

We all know that ‘The Question’ is ‘if we evolved from monkeys and apes, why are there still monkeys and apes?’ Well, I spent a bit of time looking at what other tropes creationists trotted out to try and hide away from scary evolutionists. The ‘evolution is ONLY a theory’ statement stuck out, partially because it’s so easy to discredit, but also because it was SO widespread. 

I tend to stick with evolution for a number of reasons. Firstly, because it’s important. Creationism is damaging to our advancement in many differing  ways, and we really should have moved on from it by now. Secondly, it’s really easy to research. There are great internet resources that anyone can use. I’m not special. I don’t have specific education in evolution, nor do I pretend to, but I do have a firm grip on the basics, which is all you really need to flummox most creationists. 

5) How do you interact with your specimens? How do you find them? Is there a group of people you generally always RT? 

As I’ve mentioned before, I really try not to be a dick. This doesn’t always work, but I figure that people are more likely to respond if you’re relatively nice to them. 

I don’t have a huge deal of time to manage what I’m going, believe it or not, so I don’t tend to be able to exercise my witty repartee in the same way TTD does. I think this leads me to have a different set of followers to some of the other TakeThats, who are often more willing to jump in and interact. 

As for finding them; I used to use a whole raft of search terms to try and weed all of them out, but now I tend to use just one. I RT enough mind bending ideas into my followers timelines that if I did much more, I think there’d be a revolt. 

I have a list of particularly odd accounts that I’ve RT’d in the past and I occasionally dip into that, if it’s a quiet day, but unfortunately, it barely gets touched at the moment. 

6) How do you think your account is generally helping towards stopping people from getting scientific theories confused with mainstream theories? How is your account contributing to stamping out pseudoscience in general?

I’m not sure that it does, or that it can. Again, from my point of view, it’s more about pointing out bad *thinking* rather than factual inaccuracies. Most of the people I RT have no interest in what evolution is, for example. But if I can help point out errors in that way of thinking, the onlookers can learn. Hopefully. 

I’m under no pretence that the ‘specimens,’ as TTD likes to call them, will suddenly open their eyes to good science, but I think the best we can hope is to both show why they’re wrong, and get people interested in science and critical thinking. 

7) Is there anything specific you want to say to your followers?

Surely they hear enough from me already‽ 

More seriously, I really appreciate the interaction with my followers. I *try* to engage with as many of them as possible. Do say hello.  

8) What do you have in mind for the future? Do you have things in preparation? What do you treat your account as, ie a hobby or a task, etc.? 

As I said, I’d like to branch out – possibly into podcasting, maybe a double act with TTD. Nothing is being planned right yet, but I’m open to suggestions – maybe getting some of my flowers involved in a project. I tend to attract some really interesting people. 

My account falls somewhere in between a hobby and a task. I tend to think of it as ‘outreach.’ Something with a vague-ish definition that can’t really be pinned down. A bit like ‘kind.’

9) Finally, what is the best type of gin? 

Hendricks. With a decent tonic and a decent slice of cucumber. 

Failing that, Bombay Sapphire, tonic and a decent squeeze of lime. The lime’s important. It’s for taste, not a garnish. 

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