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Grammar Contest Winner Announced

by Brian Dunning, Oct 29 2009

Secretly I’ve been holding a public grammar contest, open to anyone who sends me an email. Today, the winner is announced: Mr. Daren Lee of “The Zeitgeist Movement”. Initially, as his writing suggests that Mr. Lee has only a fifth grade education, I was going to disqualify him (must be 18 or older to enter). But the email headers suggest that he may actually be able to hold down a job, and so his entry is accepted and I’m proud to honor him today:

From: Daren Lee <>
Subject: Dragons or Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing
Date: October 25, 2009 3:42:18 PM PDT
Return-Path: <>
Received: from (mail.whitearrow.COM [])
Received: from ([]) by ([]) with mapi; Sun, 25 Oct 2009 15:42:18 -0700
Message-Id: <>

Brian, I have seen your video “Here be Dragons” and wow its hilarious. Starts very innocent and common sense like, then takes a deceptive plunge that instinctively makes your palm and face meet. Hitler claims the best lies need a little truth, in your case – common since.

This video, by its definition, is propagandist martial and that is an observable fact. It is evident that you are a person with malicious intent towards society and professor of ignorance. I hope you get run over by a truck carrying copies of the US constitution, wouldn’t that be ironic. But don’t worry Brian, luckily for you we all have the right to live even if were complete fucking douche bags. Just please don’t have kids, we have enough confused, delusional, self righteous earth leeches on this planet.


Daren R. Lee

The Zeitgeist Movement

But I’m not half as proud as must be “The Zeitgeist Movement”, who are fortunate to have such an insightful and articulate public representative. He manages to artfully limit the number of Hitler references to just one, and raises malapropism to new heights of dual meaning. So congratulations, Mr. Lee. You can pick up your prize from the officer just offstage.

This award is apropos, inasmuch as Zeitgeist (an amazingly paranoid conspiracy theory documentary made for the Internet) helped to inspire Here Be Dragons (my own Internet documentary made to help people see through such nonsense). It’s nice to be able to give something back.

51 Responses to “Grammar Contest Winner Announced”

  1. Darryl Giors says:

    Mr. Dunning,

    Your first paragraph indicates that people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

    By the way, I love how Mr. Lee wishes that you would be run over by the “first amendment truck” immediately after he attacks you for speaking your mind. I’m afraid that even Alanis Morissette wouldn’t find that ironic.

    Love your podcast. I hope it remains incisive enough to keep the thinly veiled death threats coming.

    • Miles Rind says:

      I was puzzled by the remark about glass houses until I noticed that there is in fact a comma splice in the second sentence of Mr. Dunning’s entry. Tut tut.

    • Bitsy Haywood says:

      Boys, Boys!!! There’s a significant difference between grammar and punctuation, so get over that comma. A misplaced or superfluous comma is a different matter entirely than the hilarious, poorly worded attempt at attacking Mr Dunning. Clear, incisive grammar helps the reader to understand exactly what a writer meant to say. Murky, mangled grammar is the hallmark of tangled, imprecise, overly emotional and unclear thinking. It clearly marks the writer’s offering of their tangled thoughts as unworthy of serious consideration.

  2. Travis Roy says:

    What’s interesting is that seems to be nothing, but is a moving company.

  3. Mchl says:

    A moving company? Do they own trucks?

  4. Max says:


    What sorts of email do you publicize in full with headers?
    Just so people know before sending you email.

  5. Nayr says:

    Um… not bad, but it could have been better. Here is what my version of the letter would have said.

    Brain, I have seen you’re video “Here be Dragons” and wow its hilaritous. Starts very in a cent and common cents like, then takes a depreciative plunje that intravenously makes your palm and face meat. Hilter calms the best lyes knead a little truth, in your case (comma)since.

    This video, by its defamation, is protaganists marital and that is an obsessionable fact. It is effervescent that your a person with malevolent intent towards sobriety and profess or of ignoblance. I hop you get run over by a truck carrying copies of the US consternation, wouldn’t that be iconic. But don’t worry Brain, luckfully for you we all have the write too live even if where compliant fucking deutsche bags. Just pleas don’t have kids, we have enough confucius, delineal, self rising earth leeches on this plan it.

  6. Brendan White says:

    How cool would Dragons in sheeps clothing be? Forget wolves.

    • MadScientist says:

      Jerry Andrus loved creating physical implementations of optical illusions such as Escher’s box and Escher’s triangle. One of his inventions were cardboard dragons which appeared to move their head and gaze at you. Screw the myths about the Mona Lisa’s eyes following you – Jerry’s dragons moved their entire head. Dress up one of Jerry Andrus’ dragons in a wool coat – that would be awesome indeed. Jerry Andrus was undoubtedly one of the greatest creators of illusions in the past century (and an absolutely amazing close-up magician – even on video you’ll be hard pressed to discover his tricks).

      • Jim Shaver says:

        Ha! MadScientist, I have one of Jerry Andrus’ hollow-faced dragons on the shelf in my office, right behind me. For further proof, it says “GATHERING FOR GARDNER” on the front (in honor of Martin Gardner). And yeah, his gaze follows me around.

  7. Tim says:

    Great movie. I give it 5 stars and I am posting it on facebook and myspace to try to spread it.

    I love this post because it uses ridicule and insults properly – as whipped cream, as the cherry on top, as a victory dance. Insults and ridicule are to be used as flavor, not nutrition.

    • Max says:

      I think this post was meant to deter hate mail. If the ridicule is the flavor, then the nutrition is the publication of the sender’s name and employer, which may get the guy fired.

      • Tim says:

        Yikes, he did include the name and employer of this person. Not cool.

        I don’t think he is trying to deter hate mail, I think he just wasn’t thinking. He should fix that.

  8. Mrs. Grackle says:

    How can one secretly hold a public contest?

  9. Andy says:

    Why would you have malicious intent towards “professor of ignorance?”

    • Tim says:

      Because they are teaching ignorance. They don’t know something but presume to teach it and therefore taking the general state of knowledge from not knowing something to KNOWING something that is not so.

      Pedagogy is a vice, rather than a virtue, when it is dedicated to teaching error.

      • Max says:

        You missed the joke.
        “It is evident that you [Brian] are a person with malicious intent towards society and professor of ignorance.”
        Andy deliberately misinterpreted this to make a joke.

      • Tim says:

        I suppose I did miss the joke. Oh well, my comment is still good as a stand-alone comment.

  10. Justin L. says:

    Brian,i can’t see what’s you’re problem that you found with this email is. Its a good writing of an obvious intelligencia. farther more, I think it was Joesph Stalin who published the mails of his enemies on his blog before he invaded poland. Whats next? will you make everyone where a scarlet letter who does’nt agree with you’re preshious blog. If this wasn’t a free coutry, I’d may be punch this blog in the face.

    Justin L.

    The Lizard People Awareness Movement

  11. Haplo says:

    I’m not from USA but I’ve always found worthy of study how “stereotypical” people as ignorant as the winner of your contest always find a way to seem to appear Patriotic at the same time they’re throwing their brains on the street.

    It’s something specially notorious in your country.

    Best regards!

    • Tim says:

      First, up yours. I’m an American and resent your insult to my country. Second, the sort of person who is cited in this post is not the same type of person you are referring to (backwater, hillbilly, NASCAR watching, beer drinking, redneck) but rather an anti-rationalist. They oppose that which is orthodox because it is orthodox and in the Zeitgeist film what are the three components? Denouncing religion (which they make no claims to patriotism in), saying 9/11 was a government conspiracy (claiming patriotism like the American revolution), and condemning the Federal Reserve (which allows antisemitism, hatred of big business, hatred of big government, and claims to patriotism since big government is being resisted).

      They don’t reject religion because they say the burden of proof lies on those that make the proposition and those advocating religion fail to make their case. They reject religion because the key principle of rationality, discrimination of thought (to choose the better of the available options, to adopt and promote that which is correct and reject that which is incorrect), they believe is the source of all conflict. They think that if we just stop disagreeing then all will be well and since the orthodox position in America is that Christianity is correct we get the Christian Origins Conspiracy Theory. There is no rationality involved and the mistakes made are not honest mistakes, but dishonest ones. They do not argue that religion does not make its case, they argue that Christianity is the same as every other religion that the orthodox rejects. This same group will stress tolerance for those other religions (especially Islam since the orthodox doesn’t just reject Islam, but considers it the enemy) for the purpose of elevating that which is rejected as wrong. Why? They believe that if they can convince people that right isn’t that right and wrong isn’t that wrong then we can eliminate all disagreements and have a utopia. So they reject and denigrate Christianity not because it is wrong, but because the people who believe it are attempting to be right.

      Look at another part, the Federal Reserve. They do not reject the Federal Reserve because they believe in free market economics and that the various operations of the Federal Reserve destabilize the money supply. They do not reject the Federal Reserve because they believe it is Unconstitutional. They do not reject the Federal Reserve on moral or practical grounds believing that the state should not be establishing oligopolies or handing over the power to control the money supply to a set of favored businesses and government appointed chair people. No, they reject the Federal Reserve again on the grounds of rejecting rationality as a legitimate epistemology. They attack motives and intentions, point to unknowns and string together unrelated and otherwise benign facts, and they appeal to emotion and fear with conspiracy theories of cabals. They are not attacking the conclusion that the Federal Reserve is bad. They are attacking the process of discriminating thought which is used to decide whether or not an idea is good or bad.

      The final part of Zeitgeist, the suggestion that 9/11 was a plot by the government. One is tempted to feel rage at such a comment, but again, to assume that they believe that conclusion is to miss the point. They hold that position strategically and temporarily. They attack the orthodox for being orthodox which is why when the orthodox conclusion is that 9/11 was a conspiracy of Islamic fundamentalists who plotted over the course of several years to launch a second and far more effective attack on the World Trade Center these anti-rationalists reject it. How do they make their argument? Again, when operating on a premise of using reason and logic to follow the evidence where it leads their arguments are incoherent. They point to strange, indirect, and often self contradicting links between members of our government to the Saudi Royal family while at the same time suggesting that the purpose of the allegedly staged attack was to create a mandate to steal oil from Arab Muslims. When the rational man looks through the prism of rationality he is tempted to dismiss such a person as a lunatic or as the type of person who believes in alien abductions. If we take such a position we take it at our peril because when taken out of the prism of rationality and put into the paradigm of anti-rationalism each accusation logically follows the other. When we realize that they are not attempting to establish any conclusion but rather they are attempting to destroy the epistemology of reason then each argument can be understood from accusations of Israeli involvement to Saudi connections to imploded buildings. Our Israeli allies are actually our enemies, our Saudi enemies are actually working with our government, and our incompetent government is capable of hyper-efficiency. Each position is meant to attack that which is thought to be good and correct, elevate that which is viewed to be wicked and incorrect, and to bring about a result in which every position is viewed as the same with no value, no difference, and society can be brought to a point in which disagreement is abolished.

      People simply believing weird things through pareidolia, tricks of the mind, and other wrong thinking can offer an explanation why some people may come to believe things like these conspiracy theories, but only when put into a context of anti-rationalism and looked at from a philosophical point of view do all the positions line up together.

      This epistemological sickness is not the same as a redneck slapping an American flag on the back of his pickup truck and accepting whatever the government does because he is not thinking about it. People can believe in aliens by not thinking critically, we can believe in alternative medicine by not thinking critically, but these sort of people who at every turn seem to get it wrong on purpose equating the orthodox with the anti-orthodox (logic with ridicule, liberty with tyranny, Christianity with Islam, atheism with religion) are not simply failing to apply critical thinking, but rather are applying a form of thinking which is aimed at attacking the very notion of reason itself. For that reason, while I am not a toothless Patriot Act supporting hillbilly, I take offense for them. The two are not the same and you ignore the differences at your own peril.

      • Justin L. says:

        First of all, yikes! Secondly, I suspect there is more overlap than you imagine. Having spent the past two years in rural Kentucky, I’ve met my fair share of god-fearing, flag-waving, conspiracy loons.

      • Tim says:

        Oh yes, by no means should you take away from that post that I do not think that such people exist or that I think any one position is correct or incorrect simply because these people choose to adopt it. I was simply making the point that the type of person this person was criticizing and the type of person who this thread is about are of two fundamentally different mindsets. One is credulity, the other belongs to a philosophy that rejects reason. Many of those flag wavers are simply compartmentalizing and placing religion and conspiracies in separate, logic-proof containers, but can and will still listen to reason because they accept it as a way to discover knowledge. The type I am being critical of are following a philosophy which doesn’t simply fail to use reason on various occasions, but is actually anti-reason in an epistemological sense.

        As for the YIKES!, yes that was a little long, but making deep, complex, philosophical statements is not exactly the sort of thing that can be fit into a text message.

      • Sofa says:

        Very insightful and interesting. Are you by any chance influenced by objectivism? Your vocabulary seems to indicate that.

      • Tim says:

        Yes I am. I appreciate the compliment, thank you. Intellectually I started off as an atheist republican around age 8, gradually moved towards conservatism (always an atheist), then towards libertarianism, and I’ve been hanging around that position for a couple years now. I read “Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal” a few years ago, Atlas Shrugged at the beginning of this year, and have read several of her non-fiction works including “Philosophy: Who Needs It,” “Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology,” and I’m currently halfway through “Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution.” To be completely honest while I am influence very much by Objectivism, I don’t care for the Ayn Rand Institute because it seems more dedicated to the conclusions Ayn Rand formed in her lifetime rather than the principles of reason that she espoused. I was probably less influenced by her than most because I was an atheist libertarian coming out of the conservative tradition with a degree in economics so most of what she had to say I already believed. I disagree with her and the Ayn Rand Institute on abortion, working with libertarians, and the morality of collateral damage in war. As far as I am concerned if you advocate a free society and think the worst thing to happen to freedom is Milton Friedman and libertarians, then you might want to check to see if you are in a cult.

        Also a big fan of Michael Shermer.

      • Nayr says:

        Thanks for that summary of what The Zeitgeist Movement is all about. I really had no idea. “The Zeitgeist Movement” sounds like something unpleasant that could happen in your bowels after eating to much bratwurst and sauerkraut.

      • Brian says:

        Ha! This and Tim’s long post above are my two favorite. Thanks guys!

      • Haplo says:

        Wow… I never intended to offend your country! Really! I may have misunderstood the point of your post (and even the Z movie to a certain degree, english is not my native language).

        Also, I’m an american too, you know. I live in Mexico.

        As I said, best regards.

  12. ooooohhhh! I luv it Haplo has Ganesh (or is it Shiva) on his/her website! purty.

  13. Brian M says:

    Wait, what!? Zeitgeist isn’t completely truthful! My life is ruined! This is worse then finding out the bible was written by goat herders, or that all the triangles everywhere were just a result of standard geometry found in construction instead of being placed there by the illuminati!

  14. Brandon says:

    As a student of German, I’ve learned to respect how difficult it can be to learn a new language. As a result, before I judge some person’s intelligence and call him stupid, based some writing he did on the Internet, I try to consider that perhaps English is not his first language. I’ve heard that English can be a tricky language to learn, especially because a word’s spelling doesn’t imply its pronunciation, and vice-versa. I think that people who aren’t fluent in English should get a little credit just for trying. A person’s proficiency in a language shouldn’t be deemed more important than the point he or she trying to make (unless, of course, the point is muddled because of lousy communication skills). That said, I still think the letter Mr. Dunning received is stupid, but not for its grammatical mistakes.

  15. Skepacabra says:

    Was it the misuse of the word “ironic” that tipped the scale ultimately to him over someone else?

  16. Anthony O'Neal says:

    “This video, by its definition, is propagandist martial and that is an observable fact.”

    Congratulations on presenting no argument in as many words as possible, my friend.

  17. K Smith says:

    btw… is it possible that English is not the primary language of this Mr. Lee? (Could he be Chinese?)

  18. PaleGreenPantsWithNobodyInsideThem says:

    I, too, just watched that movie this weekend. I found it fun and entertaining as well as educational. I did take umbrage to the use of the phrase ‘Dark Ages’ as I believe that that’s a pejorative, but other than that…good job!

  19. SionH says:

    Maybe the poor sod’s dyslexic and we’re all laughing at someone with a learning difficulty.

    He’s still a whacko, obviously, but I suggest we should focus on his content, rather than his poor use of english.

  20. DL says:

    Wow all you morons have no lives a tall. Blow by blow critical commentary of a personal email between to individuals like its some sick mystery science theater 3000. are you people serious? lol

    Brian Dunning is the most advanced form of douche I’ve ever had the misfortune of interacting with. He gets all butt hurt and has to create his own blog to bash people who have negative comments about his wack videos? That’s fucking retarded and all you people are participating. Brian you are clinically insecure and are a galactic waste of the internets potential.

    I encourage everyone to watch his disgraceful video “here be dragons” and make your informed decision and see the context of this hastily written email. Also, go on IMDB and read some of the reviews (apposing) on his work.

    I truthfully cannot be mad someone who demonstrates that level of hubris. Make all the critical comments you people want, I really don’t give a shit, in fact it’s helpful! Honestly I never thought having this kind of control over people could be so much fun cuz now I’m so gonna do this every weekend. Thank for your participation, and much luv to you all!

  21. InvaderZim says:

    ‘Here Be dragons’ is dull and pretty strange.
    In contrast, ‘Zeitgeist’ makes one think. I don’t agree with all it contains, but I’ll definately continue researching for myself.
    One thing is for sure, I am a slave to a monetary system. I’m owned by it and I don’t like it. Now i know how the monetary system functions and it’s historical roots…I feel more empowered. I can make decisions based on my new perspective. I’ve smelled a rat for a long time in our system. i don’t know where it is, what colour it is, or who let it in, not for sure, but i can smell it and it stinks.

  22. Malifiecent says:

    Please note that Peter Josephs documentaries (Zeitgeist and Zeitgeist: Addendum) is Peter Josephs own thoughts and personal views. Whereas ‘The Zeitgeist Movement’ is based on Jaque Frescos research on a Resource Based Economy.

    // And quite ironically this thread was about grammar and spelling etc, then I’m writing in crappy english, sry =P