The Mike Vandeman FAQ
The Mike Vandeman Frequently Asked Questions
by Jefferson Talbot
Q: Who is Mike Vandeman?
A: Some guy who really hates mountain biking, thinks all mountain bikers are habitual liars, and wants them banned from everywhere except paved roads.
Q: Is Mike Vandeman a kook?
A: You betcha, just read his posts.
Q: Is Mike Vandeman stupid?
A: No, he isn't. (He claims to have a Ph.D. in psychology.) That's what makes him so difficult to deal with. If you're of average intelligence, you will probably fall into several of his traps of logic, and completely miss the point of his posts. If you really have trouble expressing yourself, especially in written form, he will publicly skewer you (and you're the one he's really after, which is why he posts here). Even some mountain-bikers in this group admire him for his ability to make a fool out of you.
Q: What exactly is the point to Mike Vandeman's posts?
A: He hates mountain biking, and wants it banned. It conflicts with his desire to hike on trails he wants to himself. He doesn't want you mountain biking past him when he's hiking, and really gets pissed when it happens on a hiker only trail. Apparently this is a big problem in his area, but even if it's only one errant MTBer every few months, it's a big deal to Mike. He thinks *all* mountain bikers ride on hiker only trails, and he thinks all mountain bikers are destructive, and behave the same. It's bigotry, plain and simple.

He won't stop until all mountain biking is banned. (It's a personal vendetta.) The purpose of his posts is to annoy mountain bikers and manipulate them into making themselves look stupid, violent, or destructive. He then takes those posts and passes them on to people unfamiliar with mountain biking so they can form their own prejudiced, mis-informed conclusions about the sport.

Q: Well, if Mike Vandeman is intelligent, as you say, I should be able to convince him, using reason and logic, that mountain biking isn't as harmful as he says, shouldn't I?
A: No. You've already missed the point. Mike Vandeman hates mountain biking. Someone who hates something isn't interested in logic unless it supports him. If he had solid, scientific data to back his claims, he would be more calm and reasonable.
Q: Is Mike Vandeman some sort of master of logic and debate?
A: Some say he is. The obvious flaws in some of his posts are intended to trap you into responding to him. Once you respond, he will attempt to guide you down a path where he'll prove you wrong anyway, likely about something that is completely irrelevant to your point. You'll give up long before you win. Even if you're right, you will soon find that arguing with him was a waste of time. We've all been there.
Q: Does Mike Vandeman play golf?
A: Hell if I know, but I've enjoyed accusing him of this extremely destructive sport. I even got a rise out of him with some of my posts, so I suspect he might be a golfer. (This, of course, is irrelevant anyway.)
Q: Isn't Mike Vandeman just a nutcase who doesn't know what the hell he's talking about?
A: This kind of prejudice is exactly what Mikey preys upon. Most people believe that if Mike is way off base on some things, he must be wrong about everything. Arguing with such a person should be easy, right? Wrong! Mike is right about a lot of things, and he will prove it. Like Bill Clinton, he's not always saying what you think he's saying. He also knows when he's wrong, better than you do. (That's how he knows which way to steer you in a debate.) By the way, yes, he is a nutcase.
Q: So, what are Mike Vandeman's main arguments, and how do I fight them?
A: You don't fight them, but here's a sampling:

Argument: Mountain Biking causes damage to the environment

Traps: He's right, it does cause damage. The problem is, people who enjoy mountain biking think it's the kiss of death to admit this. However, it isn't. Most people will try to deny it, which is what he wants, so he can make you into a liar (which, of course, you are). Others will adopt an antagonistic attitude and say "Yeah, I cause damage, I love to kill things and destroy stuff. F*k You", etc. Mike loves this stuff. It supports his claims that Mountain Bikers are A*holes. This is what he saves and passes on.

The truth: MTBing does cause damage, though minor. You do kill plants and animals when you ride. (They're usually insects.) You also frighten animals when you go by (which is why they hide, but that's their natural behavior). But Mike also causes damage when he hikes. In fact, we all kill insects no matter where we walk. Before you decide to argue this point, he's heard it all and ignored it all before.

Argument: Mountain Bikers are liars. (He loves this one, and will prove you to be one if you fall into his traps.)

Traps: He's probably right. Most of us have been known to lie from time to time. (I don't know anyone who hasn't.) Some people admit this truth, and point out that Mike Vandeman is also a liar. (You're right, he is! You're catching on!) By the way, Mike also has an alternate definition of "liar": Someone who disagrees with him. By this definition, you are most certainly a liar.

The truth: All humans are liars, so if you deny lying, he'll have a field day with you. Don't even bother pointing out this obvious truth for him, it means nothing. Also, by being accused of lying, Mike is not necessarily saying that you're dishonest. He's using his own definition. When he say's "All mountain bikers are liars", well, he's right. Everyone lies sometimes. When he says "Mountain bikers lie constantly", he means we all disagree with him constantly, and in his own world, we're liars. So, by Mike's special definition of "liar", he's also usually right. But Mike lies deliberately, and stretches the truth, and exaggerates, to make his point against mountain biking.

Argument: Mountain biking is easier than hiking. Used to prove that biking is more destructive than hiking because you go farther into the woods. He also loves this one because MTBers interpret this as him saying we are wimps.

Traps: This is a truly pointless argument. What does he mean by easy? He means distance covered for a given number of leg strokes. However, you, still sore from that last killer climb, will tell him no way is mountain biking easier. The last thing you want to admit is that a ride that damn near killed you was easy! You just found out that walking up that hill was easier than riding it! Mike has discovered one of your buttons and will keep pushing it.

The truth: Depends on a precise definition of a vague, relative term like "easy". In reality, the bicycle acts as a transmission between your legs and the ground. You trade speed for torque. For speed, high gearing is easier. For torque (climbing), low gearing is easier. Walking is the ultimate "first gear" for humans. Mike doesn't understand the point any better than you do, so these arguments can go on for weeks. Relax. It means nothing.

Mike takes basic truths, words them to be inflammatory (liar!), and waits for you to deny them. He uses these basic truths as twisted proofs of some really outrageous and extreme arguments, and seems to deliberately employ poor logic calculated to get you to take the bait. When you do, you'll likely make a flawed argument yourself, and he'll make a fool out of you. You lose. If you make no mistakes, he'll ignore you. You still lose. If you think you're going to change his mind, you are sadly mistaken, and you will lose. (Sing, pig, SING, dammit!)

Argument: Mountain bikers frequently harass hikers and wildlife and should be banned from the wilderness.

Traps: This is one of his most inflammatory and overgeneralized statements, and will get your blood boiling. This is where he goes over, and you'll really want to set him straight. Forget it. He won't budge. You'll see posts from little old ladies (presumably Vandeman himself) who claim a biker whizzed by and knocked her down, stopped, turned back, flipped her off, uttered profanities, and sped off in a cloud of wildlife killing dust, leaving a trail of trash behind. (There's also the whipsnake story.) You can't deny or disprove it, since you weren't there. Pointing out that you've never committed such an act is irrelevant. He'll accuse you of allowing it to happen.

The Truth: Who knows. If it happened once, a dozen times, or never at all, it's irrelevant to the way most of us ride. No need to point this out to Mike, though, he's ignored it all before. If you contradict one of his fabrications or flaws, he'll call you a liar (which, you'll recall, you are), or state one of the other truths above. Your discussion will degrade to some irrelevant point where he's right. You lose. By the way, he'll never get back to the point about which he's wrong, so you'll never get a chance to prove it. Even if you prove him wrong for the rest of us (which is easy), you'll never prove it to him, which was the point of your post in the first place, wasn't it?

Argument: All Mountain Bikers .

Traps: You: "Well, I've never " Mike: "Most mountain bikers have , so by allowing your fellow bikers to , you are part of the problem!" You: "I don't know of any bikers who , and I would never allow anyone in my group to do that." Mike: "You are a liar. I see mountain bikers -ing all the time. Why do mountain bikers always lie?"

Truth: Mike's claims that all mountain bikers behave the same as the few extremes he's supposedly observed, are prejudice, plain and simple. We all know this, but arguing it is useless. He'll ignore you, call you a liar, or lead you down some other path where he's right, like "Mountain bikes go farther than hikers do."

Q: So, how can we get Mike Vandeman to stop posting to this newsgroup?
A: I don't know. Several things have been tried, and haven't worked, including:

Ignore him: Even if you're not new, it's really hard to ignore him. Some of his posts are so obviously out of whack you'll just *have* to reply, if for no other reason, than to get it out of your system. Even if you decide to ignore him, there is a constant influx of newbies (even newer than you) who will go down the same road over and over with him, thinking they can change him.

Invite him for a one-on-one meeting: Forget it. He won't bite. He's afraid of getting the sh*t kicked out of him or worse. (The man does have enemies, after all.)

E-mail him: There is currently an E-mail campaign against Mike. He hates this. If your e-mail is well crafted, well reasoned, and clever, it will probably get ignored. If, however, your e-mail is abusive or poorly written, he will complain to your ISP about harassment or spamming (and depending on your ISP, you might actually have problems from that), and he will post your message to this newsgroup and a whole bunch of others, to show how stupid you are. (That's what he's trolling for, you know.)

If you threaten him, he will really have a field day. He will post your e-mail with some kind of heading like "Mountain biker threatens violence to protect his destructive activities", and cross post it to a half-dozen newsgroups who don't want to hear it. If you mail-bomb him (send multiple messages filled with gibberish), he'll post that, essentially mail-bombing usenet. E-mail him or don't. That's up to you.

Complain to his ISP for spamming: Been there. Done that. He successfully argues his first amendment right to post to alt.mountain-bike. As long as his posts are related to mountain biking, he does have a right to post here, and it's not spam. (Spam us usually considered to be off-topic usenet posts, usually ads, or unsolicited bulk e-mail.) Like it or not, messages condemning mountain biking are on-topic. (Another one where Mike is right, and his ISP agrees with him.)

The purpose of this FAQ is not to keep Mike Vandeman from posting here. It's not to keep you from responding to him. It is, however, to keep you from wasting time doing things that have been done before, which we're all tired of reading over and over.

So, you're left with making a choice:

You can set your own newsreader to ignore all of his posts. This will keep you from seeing him and from being upset by his rants. You can also go to rec.bicycles.off-road. Mike's posts have been banned there because that NG is moderated. (Note, that Mike isn't banned, just his posts. ;-)

Or, you can decide to have fun with him, as many of us are tempted to do from time to time. Think up something clever and amusing. Just understand that you will soon tire of this exercise.

Q: So, what's the best way to respond to Mike's posts, if I choose to?
A: Amuse us. Amuse yourself. Don't take it seriously at all. If you reply to Mike's post and he makes a fool out of you, you lose. If another MTBer posts a reply to you, with "ROTFL" or other words of approval, (especially if Mike ignores you), you win! (Come to think of it, even if the only one chuckling at your post is you, you still win!)

Just remember, we've already seen these before, so don't bother arguing them:

* There are worse things than mountain biking. (Not to Mike.) * Mike hikes, yet condemns hiking. (Yep, it's true.) * Mike uses public transportation, which pollutes the air. (He doesn't care.) * Mike uses twisted logic to make his points. * "Mike, why do you keep ignoring my question about ?" (Perhaps you have a valid point, which doesn't serve him.) * Mike says MTBing is easier only because he's never done it. (And he knows it pisses you off.) * Maybe Mike should try mountain biking. (Many invites, yet he's never taken anyone up on it. I wonder why!) * Mike crossposts too much. (To get everyone sick of mountain biking.) * Mike annoys all of us, and we wish he'd go away. (He already knows this.) * Mike must be a golfer. (Rumor has it!) * Mike is wasting his time here, since no one will change their mind. (Except his sock puppets.) * Mike should be working on larger issues like clear-cutting. (His mission is banning mountain biking, though, remember?) * Mike is giving true environmentalists a bad name. (He doesn't care.) * Mike should be nicer to people, then they might agree with him more. (He thinks the way to change people is to piss them off. How's it working?)

Q: If Mike Vandeman is such a nutcase, and people want him to go away, why are so many people talking about him? What's the fascination?
A: I suspect he really has a Ph.D. in psychology. Initially, he causes us to question a sport we find harmless. Then, he irritates and infuriates us with his outlandish claims. He knows exactly which buttons to push to get a rise out of old timers as well as a continuous influx of newbies. Perhaps his only true mission is to generate long off-topic threads and dominate the newsgroup.
Q: So what makes you such an expert on Mike Vandeman, and his use of logic?
A: Not a damn thing. It's just my opinion!
Q: Where can I learn more about Mike Vandeman?
A: Why? OK, from the fool himself: http://www.imaja.com/change/environment/mvarticles

or, an excellent, balanced examination of Mike's claims: http://members.xoom.com/bbauer/environ.html (Relax. Mountain biking doesn't cause significant damage to natural areas. It's about the same as walking.)

Last modified on 2002-11-14 17:51:55 by Kelly Wood.


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