Everyone Expects the Naturalistic Fallacy »« Spam Attack

Not at All Targeted

In the comments on yesterday’s (very early) morning post, spartan suggested I’d done well right up to the end.

“The critiques Rebecca shared in this talk are not unique. Singling her and this talk out as anti-science while ignoring other, well-respected people who make these critiques is as ridiculous as the other ways she’s been targeted in the last couple of years. Really, it all needs to stop.”

I was mostly with you up until this point, I see nothing in Clint’s critique that is even nearly ‘as ridiculous’ as the other ways she’s been ‘targeted’ (in scare quotes as I don’t believe Clint is targeting her at all, I’m not saying that she hasn’t been targeted by anyone).

I admit that this assessment is based on information not everyone may have. So it seems fair to share the experience of watching the target being placed on Rebecca, since it’s all public anyway.

I saw it because I was following #sk5 and Skepticon on Twitter.

Wow, marketing major Rebecca Watson's talk at Skepticon debunked the "pseudoscience" of evolutionary psychology! Will miracles never cease?
@bluharmony
Maria Maltseva
@ Oh wow. Is there a video or transcript of it anywhere?
@Whoozley
Lucy Wainwright
@ Not yet. Someone pointed me to this piece written by Marcotte: http://t.co/2IwUk8VQ. Also, there's this: http://t.co/T39UtjbP.
@bluharmony
Maria Maltseva

So, yes, this all started before the content of the talk was even known.

@ I can't wait to see a video. Her case sounds similar to creationists using Piltdown Man... #dogmatism
@ something like Piltdown Man. She used pop evo psych that has been pub. in mags & not scientific journals AFAIK to discredit.
@BirdTerrifier
Chas Stewart
@ she could've cited the difficulties of substantiating evo psych but that's not nearly so funny and she was hilarious.
@BirdTerrifier
Chas Stewart
@ yeah a more scientific or philosophical case against it. You need that if you're to debunk a whole field...

It is now, still without the video, an established fact that Rebecca was talking about all of evolutionary psychology.

@ I'm not sure why there's such a political upheaval against EP. Is it because EP suggest there are biological reasons for
@BirdTerrifier
Chas Stewart
@ gender roles? I wonder if they've ever heard of sexual dimorphism & how that is a pattern observable among all primates?
@BirdTerrifier
Chas Stewart

Um, on the primate sexual dimorphism “pattern”, people might want to get familiar with the range of dimorphism found in primates.

@ I was wondering the same thing on the train today. Why are they think it threatens their ideology? I see no conflict.
@ @ I'm guessing it comes down to the naturalistic fallacy.
@D4M10N
Damion Reinhardt
@ I wish we knew an expert in evo-psy to review her critique. ;) @
@D4M10N
Damion Reinhardt

You rang?

@ @ If/when a video surfaces I will have a look and respond.
@eclint
Ed Clint
@ @ Watch Skepticon on @: http://t.co/ValoUwNi(Rebecca starts around 12 min mark)
@D4M10N
Damion Reinhardt
@ @ Thanks for the link. It will take me some time to properly address this level of science denialism.
@eclint
Ed Clint

And now Ed Clint has seen what everyone has told him he’d see and missed all the cues telling him this talk was about something else. Since we’re educating on psychology here, this is called “priming“, another field of study that has had some problems that require attention.

@ I feel ya, bro. Thanks for taking it on.
@D4M10N
Damion Reinhardt

So, yes, targeted. A bunch of lay people whose hobby seems to be talking about how bad Rebecca and her friends are decided without seeing her talk what it was about. Then they recruited someone to be the mouthpiece for their complaints. This isn’t something they do generally. Rebecca was targeted for this criticism because of who she is and her relationship to these people.

Targeted.

Comments

  1. says

    Okay. I have a problem with EvoPsych.

    If gender roles are, indeed, due to some evolutionary changes within our brain chemistry (or whatever, I admit I’m none too read up on EvoPsych) then why the fuck does it matter?

    Should women just hang up their desires to work because it’s in their psychology to be wifes and make babies? Should men get all big burly never cry because it’s in their psychology? Should I decide that my gender identity is no matter and sit down and be a man even though every bit of my mentality screams “you are a woman?”

    I mean seriously, what’s the bloody point?

  2. A Hermit says

    Interesting how they all knew exactly what Watson had said and done without even having seen the actual video!

    We’ve found some real live psychics right here in the skeptical movement! Call Randi!!!11!!

  3. scorinth says

    The other day, I really was going to comment saying that disagreeing with one talk doesn’t mean it’s targeted harassment, just that you’re actually talking about the lecture you’re responding to.
    But now seeing that it actually was something more sinister… This is weird. Really weird. Hmmm.
    (Also, “possible impostor” warning stops me from commenting. Now I have to authenticate with a third party to comment on a completely unrelated blog. Bogus!)

  4. says

    “Interesting how they all knew exactly what Watson had said and done without even having seen the actual video!”

    Chas didn’t need to see the video, he was there in person. As for me, I was watching the live stream, which is why I posted a link thereto.

  5. birdterrifier says

    I have a degree in Anthropology but yes I am a lay person. And I didn’t need to see the video as I was there in person and I had been tweeting on the #sk5 tag the entire day and in to the next so I was not targeting her.

    As to why Ed Clint was sent this video… he is studying evo-psy at UCLA and I had actually wanted to talk to him about evo-psy in an interview a couple months ago but he declined to speak on that until later.

    In general, I have been interested in the friction created by evo-psy within the liberal community for many years and this friction extends well past the skeptical community.

  6. A Hermit says

    Well that’s two of you out of five. I saw the video before the critique came out too, and I understood that it was about pop science and media, not about the whole field…

  7. spartan says

    Thanks for the background Stephanie, you’re right in that I wasn’t aware of this.

    “So, yes, targeted. A bunch of lay people whose hobby seems to be talking about how bad Rebecca and her friends are decided without seeing her talk what it was about. Then they recruited someone to be the mouthpiece for their complaints. This isn’t something they do generally. Rebecca was targeted for this criticism because of who she is and her relationship to these people.”

    I guess I see a pretty big gulf between ‘lay people whose hobby seems to be talking about how bad Rebecca and her friends are’ and the actual content of Clint’s post, as I don’t see the content of his post accurately translated to ‘how bad Rebecca’ is. He responded above exactly as he should have, “If/when a video surfaces I will have a look and respond.”. Where does Ed say how bad Rebecca is (which I’m assuming you see as different than ‘how bad the content of Rebecca’s talk was’), if he was recruited to be a mouthpiece? He did a pretty poor job of actually being a mouthpiece for their complaints that Rebecca and her friends are bad if your suggestion here is correct. I see a lengthy criticism of the specific arguments she made as well as criticisms that he sees of how her skepticism manifests itself. The last paragraph of his post is probably the most pointed that I saw: “We need to engage in this kind of skepticism because as we try to figure out how the world works and how it got to be the way it is, commitments to ego and politics tend to get in the way. All of her skep-nomenclature trappings to the contrary, I do not think that Rebecca Watson understands this.”. I don’t think this is entirely disproportionate to the snarkiness that was in Rebecca’s talk to which he is responding though.

    To put it another way, what did Ed do that you believe ‘needs to stop’? If you were referring to the other people’s comments you show in this post with your comment, that’s fine, but it wasn’t clear to me since the entire original post was about Ed’s criticism up to those last paragraphs. Prejudging talks without reviewing them I agree is out of bounds, but he didn’t do that. Guilt by association because he was notified of her talk by someone who made invalid criticisms prior to actually viewing it or has attacked her personally elsewhere perhaps? Ed had some brief but pointed criticisms of Laden also, does that ‘need to stop’ also? How do you know that she wasn’t ‘targeted’ by Ed because he disagrees strongly with what she said, which is of course entirely legitimate and is what the content of his lengthy post seems to support? Do you restrict your criticisms to ‘other well respected people’ who make the same points as bloggers/commenters you also criticize? Do you think it valid to say, if a theist was disagreeing with me about something, that I respond with, ‘hey, don’t target me, take it up with Bertrand Russell if you’ve got a problem’?

    There are all kinds of things that she is criticized for that I agree need to stop, but I don’t see Ed’s response as one of them. I don’t keep up on whatever conflicts may still be going on concerning Rebecca and I applaud you for sticking up for your friend/colleague, but I was happy with Ed’s post specifically because it wasn’t another stupid missive on indeed, ‘how bad Rebecca and her friends are’. Seems kind of incongruous if that was the point for him to include a picture of himself and Rebecca at a previous conference in his post. He may be wrong and maybe you are correct about the validity of the content of her speech, but isn’t that one of the benefits of blogging in the first place, so these ideas can be hashed out and challenged? Rebecca is clearly bright and I don’t think requires that the kid gloves are on when criticizing her speech’s content. Regardless, I haven’t been to ERV in years but I wouldn’t be surprised if there are posts there today that are clearly more ‘ridiculous’ than anything Ed wrote concerning her here.

  8. says

    “Guilt by association because he was notified of her talk by someone who made invalid criticisms prior to actually viewing it or has attacked her personally elsewhere perhaps?”

    I have rarely publicly criticized Rebecca Watson. The most popular post on my current blog is titled “In Defense of Rebecca Watson” and details my agreement with her on a few ethical issues which I had considered non-controversial at the time.

  9. birdterrifier says

    I was wrong in one of those tweets though. Many (all?) of those papers were published in scientific journals but Clint helps explain why that is misleading as they may have been published but they weren’t accepted by the evo-psych community.

    And that last tweet was a joke because people often see criticism of Watson to be harassment or maybe targeting.

  10. says

    “I understood that it was about pop science and media…”

    Amanda Marcotte was at the convention, strongly supports Rebecca, and took a different view, “The female-to-male ratio seemed really good at this conference compared to others I’ve been to, a sense that was reinforced by the crowd’s enthusiastic response to Rebecca Watson’s speech denouncing the pseudo-science of ‘evolutionary psychology’.”

    Nothing about the media here, just the science.

    More important than audience impressions, though, Rebecca is on record saying that “Once you look past the headlines, and actually look at the studies, what you see over and over and over again, is pseudoscience being passed off as science.” This isn’t a critique of the reportage but of the field itself. That’s just fine with me, I would love for us to discuss the merits of the field rather than the media distortions thereof, and that’s precisely what Ed was trying to do.

  11. sc_8ddc3059896b695eda1d8d6c6db10881 says

    I’m a fan of Rebecca Watson, and a great big honking feminist.

    I watched her talk in person at Skepticon. In the time before it, I also assumed that she would be criticizing the whole field of Evo. Psych., as she’s done so before. At no point during the talk itself did I ever once think that she was only criticizing “pop” Evo. Psych., and/or it’s representation in the media. It absolutely seemed like she was arguing that the whole field was bunk pseudoscience.

  12. A Hermit says

    Fair enough, I thought it was clear, but maybe Watson could have done a better job of the caveats. On the other hand, given that the stuff she did address was pretty clearly pseudoscience it’s a bit much to call her a “denialist…” There is, frankly, a lot of crap out there posing as science and that’s what she was focused on.

    And to the extent that there may be “good” evo-psych research out there I question it’s usefulness. Read Malik’s essay, if you have the time.

  13. says

    Quite right to say that I should have waited for a video before seriously engaging the content of the talk. However I had read James Croft’s post at this point, so I had a rough idea of what it was about and the sort of arguments that were used.

    I think it’s one thing to have a short conversation on Twitter on the basis of a second-hand report (one that agreed with the talk), and another thing to write a public blog post based on the same information. With the latter I definitely should have waited for a video, and that’s what I did (and as a matter of fact I haven’t written about it yet).

    I could have worded that tweet about Piltdown Man better (but then again we never expect that our throwaway conversations on Twitter would be the subject of someone’s blog post). I meant to say that it sounds like her case is similar to…, rather than “her case sounds similar to”. I also didn’t cite Croft because it was a short conversation on Twitter…

    On the subject of ‘targeting’ – not only would I not mind people looking out for mistakes I make but I’d actually like them to. I’d say the main reason I participate in online atheism/skepticism/philosophy is to learn – I read others (and purposefully seek out the ideas of those who I disagree with) because I want to learn. If I put my own view forward I want it scrutinised and corrected, so that I can learn. In short, I want to be ‘targeted’ in the sense described in your last paragraph!

    So, if anyone wants to subscribe to my blog, or go over my posts with a fine-toothed comb looking for errors, rather than complaining I think I might buy you a drink!

  14. Duness says

    And poor Steffy once again puts her foot in her mouth. I wonder how long it will take her to backtrack and start deleting comments. Once a Watson apologist, always a Watson apologist.

  15. kbonn says

    I’ve listened to the whole talk now, and I really don’t see what the defense is about. It basically looks like something someone could throw together in a day by just fishing for headlines and then making some jokes about why they are bad. The whole talk just seems to be for entertainment value and lacks any real helpful information. I am not suggesting that speakers should try to make their talks dull, but the entertaining aspect of it shouldn’t come at the expense of information, or accuracy.

    I think the biggest issue people have, is that Ms. Watson decided to use studies that have been widely thrown out/discredited by the EP community, yet we aren’t ever told this, and it doesn’t appear that she even knows this.

    So what if she was targeted, give better/more accurate talks, and she wouldn’t be. Seriously, when real critiques are offered, and even include resources to improve the subject of the critique, the response should be gratitude. Not complaints of unfairness. The real unfairness would be to pretend that the talk is great and not misleading at all! Unfair to future audiences that is.

  16. bertrussell says

    @3

    “What [Ed Clint] doesn’t mention is that he’s been sharpening an axe since the “elevatorgate” episode”

    Do you also think PZ Myers’ was poisoning the well when he kept referring to this agenda Ed Clint had? Because I certainly do.

  17. bertrussell says

    @9

    I think the question posed to her at the very end of the presentation in question is evidence that many people reasonably believed Rebecca Watson was criticizing the entire field of evolutionary psychology and not just the “pop” variety. The question was “Is there any good evolutionary psychology,” and I think the motivation was like “Wait…you’re telling me that there isn’t any good evolutionary psychology at all? Really?”

  18. bcmystery says

    @9

    That’s right. Marcotte’s offhand comment in a post about another aspect of the conference is the REAL evidence, not the actual content of the talk. Pwned, Watson! [/sarcasm]

  19. birdterrifier says

    You want to go to the tweets? Let’s go! I tweeted earlier in the day that I was surprised to see Julia Galef use evo psych in her talk at Skepticon and that people were agreeing with her! @Birdterrfier: Julia Galef is making a plain case that evolution affects our psyches and the crowd is loving it! #sk5″

    Then Watson gave her talk. So as you can see I was primed to be interested in the veracity of Watson’s presentation.

  20. LeftSidePositive says

    Again, I think a big part of the impetus for these people to stomp their little feet and yell “But there’s good EvoPsych out there!!!!” is that they really, REALLY hope some of the gender stuff will be swept into the “good” group. Yes, they’ll start out to defend it with a bunch of obscure stuff about reactions to mating calls, the patterns of fear responses, etc., etc., that no one who takes issue with the role EvoPsych plays in our community really cares about (because these topics are usually pretty well covered in normal evolutionary biology anyway, and they pretty much only come up in the atheoskeptic blogosphere to defend EvoPsych when someone objects to discrimination-reinforcing gender-based pseudoscience), but what it really comes down to is they want the discipline that gives them a “scientific” cover for their gendered smugness to remain respectable.

    And another thing: the study about receptivity to casual sex offers WAS peer reviewed (Clark & Hatfield, 1989), as were its numerous re-iterations Rebecca quoted in the talk. Sorry, I don’t have time to go through all the studies quoted in her talk to get the total peer-review-to-strictly-pop ratio, but let’s put to rest this meme that it’s ONLY pop EvoPsych that is methodologically flawed and based on sexist assumptions.

    And regarding Amanda Marcotte: she is a writer of feminist issues. To her, “EvoPsych” is going to mean that branch of EvoPsych that she has to deal with as a feminist writer–that is to say, “evolutionary” reasons why she should stop complaining that men in our culture harass women, why women are expected to do the majority of housework & childcare, and why there is totally no discrimination or chilly climate against women whatsoever in STEM fields. And, yes, she is going to refer to EvoPsych as the banner under which all the pseudoscientific shit she has to deal with comes from. Whether or not some researcher she’s never heard of does interesting work in recognition of fear responses is not going to be foremost in her mind (or, frankly the mind of anyone who gets a bunch of pseudoscientific shit flung at them to prop up the status-quo), and she’s going to be much more focused on labeling the pseudoscience she has to deal with for what it is, than surveying the entire field.

  21. says

    bcmystery – You really should listen to Rebecca’s own characterization of the content of her new recurring lecture: http://soundcloud.com/techniskeptic/rebecca-watson

    It was, in brief, an “opportunity to slam evolutionary psychology for half an hour.” Actually, a bit longer than that, but the talk is evolving. My favorite part of the interview is where Rebecca is asked (just as she was at sk5) whether there is any actual science to be found in the field and she cannot come up with anything but speculation (just as she did at sk5). Given this two-time stumper, we have to assume that she either rejects the entire field or has done only the most cursory look into it.

    And for the record, this isn’t targeting, it is just ordinary criticism, something skeptics should do as a matter of routine. If we’re going to fly speakers around to enlighten whole groups of scientifically-minded laypersons, we should really care about whether audiences are actually being enlightened.

  22. says

    I don’t see the content of his post accurately translated to ‘how bad Rebecca’ is.

    You think a science denialist is a good thing?

    To put it another way, what did Ed do that you believe ‘needs to stop’?

    Well, let’s see. There was that whole original post that you said was good, which documented him treating Rebecca’s points the way he would not treat other people’s, by labeling them as science denialism.

    Rebecca is clearly bright and I don’t think requires that the kid gloves are on when criticizing her speech’s content.

    Refraining from building your criticism into a case that someone is a science denialist requires kid gloves?

  23. says

    In what universe does “denouncing the pseudo-science of ‘evolutionary psychology’” equate to “denouncing the totality of ‘evolutionary psychology’” or “denouncing the pseudo-science that is ‘evolutionary psychology’” or “denouncing ‘evolutionary psychology’, that nasty old pseudo-science”?

  24. LeftSidePositive says

    @Birdterrfier: Julia Galef is making a plain case that evolution affects our psyches and the crowd is loving it! #sk5″

    Does anyone actually doubt this?! Does FUCKING ANYONE think that the objection to the pseudoscience passed off as EvoPsych is an a-priori rejection of the ENTIRE IDEA of evolution having an effect on our cognition or our emotional propensities? This is a ridiculous strawman. What Julia Galef said is the most non-controversial broad-strokes appreciation of basic pro-social behavior and the need for heuristics as adaptive traits. When we criticize EvoPsych, THIS IS NOT WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT, and I’m pretty convinced at this point that anyone who tries to act like a broad, vague statement like “evolution affects our psyches” is some revelation or in any way controversial is being willfully disingenuous. What we criticize about EvoPsych is the postulation of evolutionary origins to highly complex, culturally-dependent/influenced, politically-convenient behaviors and institutions, especially when they purport to show a difference between groups of people with no explanation of the selective pressures that would segregate them to certain groups. We’re criticizing the extrapolation of extremely specific, multi-factorial activities in the modern world to speculation about the ancestral environment. We are NOT objecting to the simple idea that certain emotional responses or behaviors are broadly more adaptive than others.

    Oh, and by the way–the ridiculous speculation that women like pink to be able gather berries? Also peer reviewed:

    http://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(07)01559-X

  25. says

    I think this post makes it pretty clear that even if Clint et al.’s critiques of Rebecca’s talk were accurate, they were indeed inspired by a concerted effort to take the talk apart. The fact that that’s what inspired them doesn’t detract from Clint’s arguments, but it does give the whole thing a disingenuous air.

  26. bertrussell says

    @26

    This one, particularly when one believes the totality of evolutionary psychology is a pseudo-science. Now, if you Rebecca Watson were to have said “denouncing the psuedo-science in ‘evolutionary psychology,” I’d think you’d have a point. All of this either points to a deliberate attempt to characterize the entire field of evolutionary psychology as a psuedo-science or an extreme failure in clarity due to carelessness and/or laziness. In the case of the first situation, Ed Clint is justified in his critiques of Rebecca Watson. In the case of the latter, Ed Clint’s misunderstanding is nothing remotely egregious.

  27. says

    bertrussell, (1) that was not a quote from Rebecca, and (2) you can’t use what you believe someone believes to help you interpret their words as proof of what they believe. Well, you can, but it’s just mental masturbation. It doesn’t tell you the first thing about what that person actually believes.

  28. says

    And for the record, this isn’t targeting, it is just ordinary criticism, something skeptics should do as a matter of routine.

    D4M10N, you’re trying to tell me you believe we should go around accusing science communicators and skeptics of science denialism as a matter of routine? How to put this?

    I don’t believe you.

  29. LeftSidePositive says

    I love how the staunch defenders of EvoPsych have apparently laid down a rule that no one can criticize EvoPsych without flattering the rest of the discipline enough for their tastes. Hey, guys–if the dominant impression people have of EvoPsych is the pseudoscience, why don’t you take it up with the people who are publishing and promoting the pseudoscience, rather than obsessively policing the language of those who make legitimate critiques of the (frankly very large) accumulation of pseudoscience in your midst?

    Do these same people go batshit over JT Eberhard’s “Dear Christian” talk for not emphasizing enough that not all Christians are like that?

    (And I’m also particularly amused by those who insist–INSIST, I tell you!–that there is good EvoPsych, and then pull a Justin Griffith and quote a lot of studies with really questionable methodology and can put together no more coherent defense of them than the fact that they were published!)

  30. bertrussell says

    @31

    Ooops, you’re right. I meant to say Amanda Marcotte, not Rebecca Watson. My apologies. The rest of the comment though, starting at “All of this,” is regarding Rebecca Watson. Apologies for the confusion.

  31. bertrussell says

    @31

    Also, I wasn’t trying to use what “someone believes to…interpret their words as proof of what they believe,” but rather that people reasonably did, even at the time of the presentation, that Rebecca Watson was characterizing all of evolutionary psychology as psuedo-science. I have been trying my hardest to give you the best possible interpretation I can discern out of what you say. I ask that you do the same for me please because I am getting the impression you are just crafting less than generous interpretations of what I am trying to say.

  32. LeftSidePositive says

    Bert, if your concern was really just defending the good name of EvoPsych, as opposed to looking for an excuse to obsessively trash Rebecca, I would think your concern would have been more than adequately laid to rest on Stephanie’s first post, or by Rebecca’s reference to the way EvoPsych acts in the media or in the general public. You would have looked at those of us clearly saying, “yes, EvoPsych can theoretically produce something of value, but here we are focusing on the way it is being misused to discriminate against women…” and then you would move on. Your compulsion to go over everything Rebecca said with a fine-toothed comb to INSIST that she must have been referring to all of EvoPsych or is at least mortally responsible for anyone thinking so, is not exactly consistent with a disinterested concern with scientific clarity but is *extremely* consistent with an obsessive dislike of Rebecca Watson and an irrational preoccupation with re-centering discussion away from the way pseudoscience is used to marginalize women (which is, after all, THE POINT).

  33. doubtthat says

    First, a great deal of evo-psych, even stuff published in peer-reviewed journals, is unmitigated bullshit. Second, the bullshittiest of the bullshit is the public face of the discipline, thus, just like proponents of evolution have to argue agains young Earthers, regardless of how stupid that idea is, skeptics have to argue against the “pop” notions of evo-psych because they have the most influence.

    If I were in the evo-psych field doing actual solid science, I would probably just call myself something other than a member of evo-psych. Because we are evolved creatures everyone involved in psych is studying the results of evolution. Leave the cutsie little marketing title for the nonsense, and do actual science, just call yourself a psychologist or anthropologist or biologist.

    This is just whining because Rebecca pointed out that the phrase “evo-psych” represents a bunch of bullshit smuggled into respectability because the term is a synthesis of two words with independent validity.

  34. A Hermit says

    @33…

    “if the dominant impression people have of EvoPsych is the pseudoscience, why don’t you take it up with the people who are publishing and promoting the pseudoscience, rather than obsessively policing the language of those who make legitimate critiques of the (frankly very large) accumulation of pseudoscience in your midst?”

    Excellent question which bears repeating.

  35. bertrussell says

    @36

    I’m not trying to trash Rebecca Watson. I am a fan. I have been for several years now. The whole reason I am here is because I believe many of you here are the ones actually doing the trashing, but on Ed Clint, and for no real reason. Like I said earlier, either he’s justified in critiquing Rebecca Watson’s presentation because she was in fact equating all of evolutionary psychology, or Rebecca Watson was unclear in her target, and Ed Clint’s critique is therefore nothing to get ones underwear into bunches over.

    The last portion of your comment, the bit relating to how my actions are more in tune with someone who hates Rebecca Watson instead of wanting clarity, is a disgusting insinuation and I will ask you to refrain from concocting such ridiculous psycho-analytic filth of me again. Let it be known that that is not what I am doing or my motivation.

  36. LeftSidePositive says

    @39: actions speak louder than words, sorry. And I’m not insinuating: I’m stating quite plainly that your behavior is so out of proportion to your stated motives as to obliterate plausibility. And, as a skeptic, I would expect you to be aware that people are not always reliable indicators of their own motivations–that’s why “I’m not a racist, but…” is such a famous phrase.

    Furthermore, there is a VERY good reason why we are criticizing Ed Clint–he is calling Rebecca’s talk “science denialism” and accuses her of “cherry picking” for simply addressing the stated topic of her talk and quotes her out of context in appalling ways. Moreover, as Stephanie showed in her previous post, he is heaping opprobrium on her in ways that other public figures who criticize EvoPsych in very much the same way don’t generally face. This is unethical and intellectually dishonest behavior, and it is necessary and good that we call him on it.

  37. bertrussell says

    @41

    Actions certainly do speak louder than words, but all I have here are my words, which, unfortunately due to the medium, can be incorrectly interpreted. Whether you are insinuating or plainly stating is not the point, the point is is that your characterization of me is a total fabrication. While I agree that people are not always reliable indicators of their own motivations, generally they are, and in this case, I am. Given what I said earlier about the medium we’re communicating through, it is yourself that you should be the most skeptical of in this situation.

    Also, this “VERY good reason” you cite for criticizing Ed Clint is entirely understandable given the context, that Rebecca Watson was either actually dismissing evolutionary psychology as a whole or was not clear in singling out her target, meaning there’s nothing to be so up in arms over. And I do think it is a bit of bull to say he is being overly harsh on her for those exact same reasons. That is what is unethical and intellectually dishonest behavior and you do need to be called out on it.

  38. says

    “…you’re trying to tell me you believe we should go around accusing science communicators and skeptics of science denialism as a matter of routine?”

    If the shoe fits, yeah. If someone is going to take the “opportunity to slam evolutionary psychology for half an hour” or more without at any point providing examples of how the field should (and does) actually work, then that person isn’t worthy of being dubbed a science communicator, at least not on that topic.

    Popular commentators like Ben Stein can recount how evolutionary science has historically been misused and abused by those with an agenda, but that shouldn’t implicate the entire field. Anyone can point to the whole pile and dismiss it as chaff, but it takes a real science communicator to show us how to separate the wheat from the chaff.

  39. says

    Then go for it, D4M10N. Who else are we calling a science denialist now because they spoke of the general and people thought it meant the universal? Who else are we throwing out of the science communicator clubhouse over a single talk?

    Go on. Start picking people.

  40. says

    Also, this “VERY good reason” you cite for criticizing Ed Clint is entirely understandable given the context, that Rebecca Watson was either actually dismissing evolutionary psychology as a whole or was not clear in singling out her target, meaning there’s nothing to be so up in arms over.

    Bullshit. We do not call people with a track record of promoting skepticism and science “denialists” because of an ambiguity in a talk that attacked bad science. That leaves the word with no meaning at all. That the argument has come to this, that people want to rewrite the rules to attack Rebecca, should tell you there is a massive problem here. It is absolutely worth pushing back against this behavior.

  41. doubtthat says

    It occurs to me that Rebecca’s flagrant “denialism,” failing to list of the good kids of EvoPsych, is akin to the right wingers that would whine, “why don’t you mention all the good things that are happening in Iraq?” Well, the bloody civil, needless deaths, and thorough destruction of the country sort of overwhelms the benefits gained from the well we dug last week (which was blown up this week).

    Sure, maybe there’s good EvoPsych, but whatever benefit gained from that science is washed away in a tsunami of unwarranted assumptions and absurd conclusions drawn from crappy data.

    At best there’s a case that 1) Rebecca was unclear (I bet she takes that criticism to heart and improves her presentation) and 2) she is unaware of awesome EvoPsych productions. She has an obligation to deal with 1; proponents of EvoPsych, if they actually care about the discipline, are responsible for 2. As long as the shit-show continues, it’s perfectly valid to attack it without simultaneously praising the “good ones.”

  42. LeftSidePositive says

    D4M10N, did you notice the line about the “opportunity to slam evolutionary psychology for half an hour” was A JOKE and she was clearly laughing as she said it? Have you never fucking heard of humorous exaggeration?! I also suggest you seriously consider that the grossly inaccurate things Rebecca is quite rightfully bashing are still being taken seriously–including by skeptics–in the here and now. It is in fact the dominant role of EvoPsych in conversations throughout the atheosphere: it pops up when men assure us that men are simply different from women and our objections to being harassed are unreasonable given how men evolved. I further suggest you consider that the title of the talk WAS NOT claiming to be a complete survey about EvoPsych–it was about the use of pseudoscience to further discrimination. If you want to contribute to the discussion and provide some contrasting material about good EvoPsych, you are welcome to do so and there is no reason to castigate Rebecca for not including your favorite material in a talk that was not supposed to be about what you want to hear, but rather about an important issue facing women and the bad science used to justify their discrimination. So, you might want to go into detail about separating the wheat from the chaff–if that’s your interest, fine. But that is no more noble or valuable than those who say “This chaff is a FUCKING PROBLEM and no we’re not going to put up with this bullshit anymore.” I notice you are considerably more interested in making it as uncomfortable as possible for people like Rebecca to discuss how pseudoscience is marginalizing them, than actually presenting good EvoPsych and why you think it’s valid, which would actually educate people and contribute to the discussion.

  43. bertrussell says

    @45

    We might if at the time we are writing the critique it is not known the impression received was due to an ambiguity in the presentation. It is not as if Ed Clint called her a denialist knowing full well she was criticizing “pop” evolutionary psychology and only “pop” evolutionary psychology. He, and a lot of other people, including myself, watched the presentation and got the impression she was speaking of evolutionary psychology as a whole. That’s an important distinction I do not see several of you understanding.

  44. bertrussell says

    @46

    It isn’t that Rebecca Watson failed to mention the sound evolutionary psychology; it’s that it appeared she was tossing all of evolutionary psychology into the psuedo-science bin. There is a difference.

  45. says

    We might if at the time we are writing the critique it is not known the impression received was due to an ambiguity in the presentation.

    No, we might not. Nobody does this shit to other people. Just Rebecca.

    If you want to continue to insist that this is a right and reasonable way to go about things, find precedents. Until then, you’re just flapping your fingers.

  46. doubtthat says

    @48

    You’re really using an expansive (unjustifiably so) definition of “denialism.” There is a difference between looking at good science and refusing to accept it or intentionally generating bad science, and neglecting to mention obscure papers. Do you really think that Rebecca, when presented with this so-called “good” EvoPsych would call it psuedo-science?

    Of course not. You know that as well as I do. The issue was a limited one of clarity (though it’s pretty obvious she was referring to the popular notion of EvoPsych). That’s a far cry from anyone typically means by “science denial.” The anti-Watson crowd is trying to group her in with dowsers and psychics and global warming deniers and Young Earthers, and it’s ridiculous. The framing reveals the malice behind the project.

    There was one legitimate criticism in all of this–Rebecca, be a little more clear, please–one we cannot determine if she has accepted until her next presentation, but the discussion continues, why?

    If she just adds one sentence to her presentation, “I’m talking about popular media uses of EvoPsych and the specific poor studies that lead to them,” there is no criticism left. So why are people still complaining? The point has been made.

  47. bertrussell says

    @51

    As a concept, science denialism has only been around for about 2 years, so I believe you are trying to send me on a fool’s errand in hopes to save face. It may be that there isn’t much precedent, if any, currently, but just be aware that if you were to bring that to a judge in the court of law, he would laugh at you and say “Precedent would be nice, but often times we don’t have it, and this could very well be one of those cases that sets it.”

  48. doubtthat says

    @50

    In 2005 I would say, “Iraq is a tragic mess.” That doesn’t mean I thought it was a tragedy when they built a school or dug a well, it means that on the balance, it was a fucking mess.

    Again, do you think Watson would read these good papers and still call them bad? If not, then she isn’t a denier, she’s just been less than perfectly specific with her phrasing. Asking for clarity is justified, calling her a denier isn’t.

    And as Stephanie and others have said, why aren’t you calling Jerry Coyne or PZ Myers “science deniers?” They’ve made very similar statements in the past, but only for Rebecca can this silent majority of die-hard EvoPsych defenders gin up enough energy to slink from the shadows and crawl from the moist, rock-covered hovels in which they dwell.

  49. bertrussell says

    @52

    Actually, if you care to visit Ed Clint’s initial post about the subject, he cites an article that lists five basic scientific denialism tactics. He uses that list to back up his claim. So, I really do have to exception with your allegation of “expansive” use of the term. The list is here:

    http://scienceblogs.com/denialism/about/

    Go to Ed Clint’s post and I think it was section 2 to see it for yourself.

  50. kbonn says

    @51 Rebecca certainly has plenty of people who want to see her fail, does that mean that every critique of her is wrong? No. You have yet to admit that Rebecca’s talk was sloppy/lazy at best, deliberately misleading at worst, with ignorant as the middle option. When people point out legitimate problems, do better. Don’t whine about their motivations. I see stuff posted about Rebecca all the time, and a lot of it is garbage. Ed’s post, regardless of his motivation, is not that.

    Have you even paused to think, maybe, just maybe, Ed is pissed off because Rebecca unfairly trashed the field he is considering dedicating his life to? Perhaps she did so accidentally, but what do I hear on many a comment on several blogs on this site… “Intent, it’s not fucking MAGIC”. Just because YOU think you know what she meant, doesn’t mean it was obvious to her audience, or that you are even correct.

    Perhaps Ed went too far in calling her a “science denialist”, but the other option is that she was too fucking lazy to bother to learn enough about the subject she was presenting on. A subject she chose herself. It was “Pick random thing in news/pop culture that I can speak on, grab at lowest hanging fruit, assume it is representative of the whole, relate it to point I wanted to make before I started this process, ignore rest.” That, or it was deliberately dishonest.

    I don’t know where you get this whole “no one else is critiqued” bit from. But it is bullshit.

  51. doubtthat says

    @55

    Yeah, here they are:

    “…conspiracy, selectivity (cherry-picking), fake experts, impossible expectations (also known as moving goalposts), and general fallacies of logic.”

    Notice what isn’t on that list, “failing to give a rhetorical tug-job to obscure, anonymous researchers with no influence each time an individual seeks to criticize the most popular and influential works generated in a field.”

    Rebecca did none of those things, which is why she isn’t a denier. She has been charged with cherry-picking, but again, that’s improperly applied in this case. Pointing to the death in Faluja while omitting discussion of a well being dug near Baghdad is not cherry-picking. It’s dealing with the major issue.

  52. says

    “I notice you are considerably more interested in making it as uncomfortable as possible for people like Rebecca to discuss how pseudoscience is marginalizing them, than actually presenting good EvoPsych and why you think it’s valid, which would actually educate people and contribute to the discussion.”

    Where, exactly, did you notice that? I’ve no problem with discussing pseudoscience, as long as we don’t confine the actual science part to the Q&A and then write it off as boring. Apathy is almost worse than denialism.

  53. doubtthat says

    @56

    “…but the other option is that she was too fucking lazy to bother to learn enough about the subject she was presenting on.”

    No, the other option is that the quality produced by EvoPsych is so totally lacking in influence compared to the bullshit, both peer reviewed and represented in the media, that it really isn’t worth anyone’s time.

    Again, she will clarify in the future. Try this: assume that the talk was about popular representations of EvoPsych and specific instances of psuedo-science generated by the field. Now find me something to criticize in her talk.

    It’s only when you assume she was talking about something else (which fine, she can be more clear about that in the future) that the criticisms become something other than spurious whining.

  54. bertrussell says

    @57:

    Go to Ed Clint’s blog post about it. He outlines his argument on why he’s concluding she was being a science denialist on evolutionary psychology using each of those points and expanding on them. Really, I don’t even think you bothered reading Ed Clint’s post, because he spent quite a bit of time expanding on that very bit. Here, I’ll be nice:

    http://skepticink.com/incredulous/2012/12/01/science-denialism-at-a-skeptic-conference/

    It’s portion II.

  55. says

    bertrussell, if you tell people to read Clint’s post one more time, you will be banned. We’ve read it. We disagree with it. We think calling Rebecca a denialist is a ridiculous and trivializing use of the word.

    D4M10N, I ask again, who else do you want us to start applying the same denialist label to. Answer the question.

  56. bertrussell says

    @59

    “No, the other option is that the quality produced by EvoPsych is so totally lacking in influence compared to the bullshit, both peer reviewed and represented in the media, that it really isn’t worth anyone’s time.”

    (facepalm) I’m not even going to bother going into why that is such a ridiculous argument. Wow.

  57. bertrussell says

    @61

    I wasn’t telling you to read it. I wasn’t even telling everyone to. I was telling doubtthat. But, this is your blog, and, ridiculous a reason I think it is, I will refrain from doing that again.

  58. doubtthat says

    @60

    Read it once. Just read it again, still a massive failure. Word count =/= good argument.

    Conspiracy theory: The quote employed reveals the central failure of Clint’s point here. He’s assuming “they” means “all EvoPsych scientists.” That’s obviously not what was meant. Fail #1.

    Fake Experts: Clint admits right off the bat that this wasn’t a major issue, then makes useless reference to a debate involving one (while acknowledging that she makes good points). What was the point of that one? Fail #2.

    Cherry Picking: entirely based on the incorrect assumption that Watson was talking about all of EvoPsych. He’s upset that she limited her discussion to exactly what she was talking about. Fail #3.

    Impossible expectations: this was Clint’s weakest point as he hand-waves away criticisms that apply to the entirety of EvoPsych. He regurgitates the unwarranted assumptions lying at the base of EvoPsych as though they are warranted, literally relying on “women get pregnant.” Fail #4.

    Logical fallacies: Includes a massive failure of understanding how explanations of rape as “natural” in EvoPsych products offers misleading excuses. Rebecca didn’t accuse EvoPsych of calling rape “good,” it’s a more subtle argument, but Clint flies off with an absurd strawman. Fail #5.

    By his own criteria Rebecca isn’t a denier. The degree to which he has to strain to fit Watson’s presentation into his framework for a denier tells you that all his high minded sanctimony was glib nonsense.

  59. Martha says

    Once again, doubtthat is correct. The major change we can ask from Rebecca is that she make it more clear that she is dealing with media and pseudoscience, not science.

    But the defenders of EvoPsych seem perilously drawn to the argument that because something masquerades as science, that it can be trusted. In the long term, this has been an awfully good bet. But that’s not because scientist never suffer from racism, sexism or any sort of gender bias. It’s because science is self-correcting. Poor science will eventually be dismissed, but it can take a long time to happen when the findings are contrary to societal expectation. An unfortunate corollary of this truth is that science that is in accord with the biases of a powerful portion of the population become accepted as “science” when they otherwise would not. Phrenology, anyone?

    Frankly, it’s the defenders of the pseudoscience that Rebecca dismissed in her talk who are damaging science, not Rebecca. There’s nothing wrong with asking people who wish to be considered “real” scientists to act with the appropriate level of professionalism.

    This conversation seems pretty much to be a bunch of the usual suspects trying to argue with Stephanie over minutiae, but if anyone has a problem with what I’ve written, please read LeftSidePositive and doubtthat before responding. I agree with them 100%– because, well, their arguments are reasonable and substantive.

  60. says

    Stephanie,

    You are welcome to call me “Damion” if that is easier to type.

    “I ask again, who else do you want us to start applying the same denialist label to. Answer the question.”

    I didn’t say anyone should be branded with a label, nor do I recall Ed doing so. It is one thing to say “you are using denialist tactics in this specific lecture” and quite another to pin the label on someone without qualification. Everyone has lied, but not everyone is a liar.

  61. says

    Then, D4M10N, start listing other talks by science communicators you want to apply the “denialism” label to. Don’t be cute. You’ve got one more chance.

  62. bertrussell says

    @64

    I don’t have a lot of time left to dedicate to responding, but I wanted to point out a few things I found wrong with your characterization of this section of Ed Clint’s critique.

    Fail 1: Don’t assume that his assumption isn’t a reasonable interpretation of Rebecca Watson. Many people had the same initial understanding of the presentation too. There have even been people here on this very thread of comments that agree that Rebecca Watson was being lazy. Which is fine. People make mistakes all the time. But what you don’t do is attack the person who misunderstood as the onus falls on the presenter, especially at a conference, to go out of their way to be understood.

    Fail 2: Ed Clint didn’t say it wasn’t a major issue. Ed Clint said fake experts weren’t featured prominently in Rebecca Watson’s presentation. Big difference. He also points to a portion in the presentation where Rebecca Watson suggested everyone look at Cordelia Fine’s “Delusions of Gender.” Clint says “scholarly reviews have criticized Fine for cherry-picking studies as examples which are amenable to her conclusion and ignoring the rest.”

    Fail 3: Again, don’t assume his assumption was not a reasonable one. You’re not appreciating the context within which Ed Clint was working on.

  63. bertrussell says

    @65

    No one is actively, or passively from what I’ve read of the thread, to defend evolutionary psychology. The point, as I see it, and I do believe a few others see it the same way, such as kbonn in comment 56, is that some of you here are going bonkers after Ed Clint over a reasonable misunderstanding. That’s really it.

  64. says

    bertrussell, Clint, if he is going to go to the length of branding this science denialism, has an obligation to be sure of what he says, perhaps even charitable. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Take his: https://twitter.com/eclint/status/156745198557343744

    The link Clint provides for saying Fine is cherry-picking does not support that characterization. It is, in fact, yet one more case of saying, well, this person isn’t talking about what I might want them to talk about.

    We’ve been over the question of what Rebecca was talking about, in the last post. Don’t try to pretend that conversation never happened.

  65. bertrussell says

    Well, my “weekend” is over. I have to get off the internet and get ready for my work week. I’ll see if there’s any more conversation going on in a few days to hop in on, otherwise, I’ll see you guys/girls in other posts. Peace.

  66. says

    If I had to characterize other well-known skeptics as doing science denialism, Randi and Shermer on climate change both come to mind. Pretty sure they’ve recently come around, though.

  67. doubtthat says

    @68

    Thank goodness we have someone able to define that tight little line between “not a major issue” and “not featured prominently.” What the hell is the difference?

    But I love the smarmy way Clint phrased that. Instead of saying, “Rebecca didn’t exhibit this characteristic of denial,” it’s phrased to imply that surely she must rely on fake experts, they just aren’t a big part of this talk.

    And now we’re back to, “what was Rebecca talking about?” Obviously no amount of explanation will satisfy you, so we just need to wait for her to clarify. Of course, “Rebecca, please clarify,” is different from, “Oh dear lord, the vapours have overcome me, where-oh-where is my fainting couch? Come Smithers, let us be aghast at this horrible example of science denial. Heavens to Betsy!!”

    If was meant as a legitimate question or legitimate constructive criticism, denail wouldn’t be an issue.

  68. Pieter B, FCD says

    @ #53 bertrussell says:

    as a concept, science denialism has only been around for about 2 years

    Funny that you should claim that when you quote Mark Hoofnagle’s definition from April 2007, and what you have left out is significant.

    Denialism is the employment of rhetorical tactics to give the appearance of argument or legitimate debate, when in actuality there is none. These false arguments are used when one has few or no facts to support one’s viewpoint against a scientific consensus or against overwhelming evidence to the contrary. [emphasis added]

    I think sufficient evidence has already been cited here to demonstrate that that rather important part of the definition of denialism is not present in Rebecca’s talk.

  69. julian says

    This is why I view notung, D4M10N and birdterrifier with complete contempt. Zero integrity between the 3 of them.

    If I had to characterize other well-known skeptics as doing science denialism, Randi and Shermer on climate change both come to mind.

    I’d like to vote for Jerry Coyne for his equally ignorant (according to you) examination of evolutionary psychology.

    I’d like to also nominate anyone who’s ever complained or mocked the concept of a gay gene. These people have shown complete disregard for genetics and clearly deserve the title “science denialists.”

  70. says

    Really, D4M10N, I have to do this the hard way? Those are not people accused of science denialism over ambiguities. So, I will put the entire question here once again, with the clarification you apparently required.

    Who else are we accusing of science denialism now because they spoke of the general and people thought it meant the universal?

    Last chance.

  71. says

    Rebecca certainly has plenty of people who want to see her fail, does that mean that every critique of her is wrong?

    Don’t engage the straw. It’s been used as bedding. It has fleas.

    You have yet to admit that Rebecca’s talk was sloppy/lazy at best, deliberately misleading at worst, with ignorant as the middle option.

    I have told people what Rebecca’s talk was about, and she has agreed. That rules out a certain number of options, so I’m not sure why you bring them up again. I have also suggested that a couple of changes that would help clarify it. There is no requirement for me to slap a negative label on the talk. Why would you think there is?

    Have you even paused to think, maybe, just maybe, Ed is pissed off because Rebecca unfairly trashed the field he is considering dedicating his life to?

    I considered it, but (1) he describes himself as an anthropology grad student, not an evo psych grad student and (2) being pissed off should very much suggest to him that he step back and make sure he’s being fair, not merely emotional. I would prefer not to try to speculate on why he got wrong what he did.

    Perhaps Ed went too far in calling her a “science denialist”, but the other option is that she was too fucking lazy to bother to learn enough about the subject she was presenting on.

    Why, no, that isn’t the “other option” at all. Are you telling me you think those are the only options?

    I don’t know where you get this whole “no one else is critiqued” bit from. But it is bullshit.

    Well, you can feel free to answer the same question I just asked D4M10N instead of trying to declare “bullshit” by fiat.

  72. julian says

    Now you’ve hurt my fee-fees, julian.

    I would like to nominate Jerry Coyne again for his posts on depression, medication for depression and the pharmaceutical industry.

    PS You should probably think about just how broad you want the expression science denialism to be. A lot of skeptics are going to fall under it.

  73. says

    as a concept, science denialism has only been around for about 2 years

    “Denialism” was in common usage with regard to AIDS deniers in 2003. It’s been around for about a decade, if not more.

  74. says

    And D4M10N can’t comment until he figures out what ambiguity I’m talking about. If anyone wants to help him, feel free. Otherwise, he can drop out of the conversation, since he’s not paying attention.

  75. watry says

    @78, Stephanie Zvan

    Anthropology grad student? Okay, now this anthropology undergraduate is pissed. He ought to know how all of our discipline’s subfields have been used for racist, misogynistic purposes. (And continued attacks on Rebecca are about Elevatorgate and therefore misogyny, I have few doubts about that.)

  76. bertrussell says

    @80

    First, I meant to type a 5, not a 2. My apologies. As I’m sure you can see through some of my posts, I can be a bit careless when I type quickly (who hasn’t been honestly?). As a matter of fact, that link I shared about 5 common science denier tactics was from around 5 years ago. Second, yes, you are right about AIDS denialism. That completely slipped my mind. But I do think my general point still holds (5 years isn’t that big of a difference anyway, we round within that margin). I’ve seen a lot of bloggers, like Chris Hallquist, and even one on this network, who have been critical of Rebecca Watson for being, well, lazy in her representation, and that’s the generous option. Hallquist, if I’m remembering correctly, even called you out specifically for harping on this problem about calling Rebecca Watson a science denialist.

    I’ve concluded that you are trying to make a mountain out of a mole-hill for damage control. I get that Rebecca Watson is your friend. Heck, I like her too. I think she generally does some quality stuff. But I think trying to take down Ed Clint to save Rebecca Watson some much needed criticism is low. I’d expect that from Fox “News.” Not from this blog network.

  77. bertrussell says

    And, real quick before I go to bed, I know I did say I was going to be gone for a while and am all of a sudden back, but I had a few minutes before I went to bed and decided to check. I hope no one is going to give me any grief about it…

  78. says

    …lazy in her representation, and that’s the generous option.

    Actually, no. The generous option is “wrong” without attaching a judgment about why to it. Funny that you don’t see it that way.

    I’ve concluded that you are trying to make a mountain out of a mole-hill for damage control.

    That’s not a conclusion when you started with it.

    But I think trying to take down Ed Clint to save Rebecca Watson some much needed criticism is low.

    Ah, I see. First I’m unreasonably harping on the “science denialism” bit by not arguing with other parts of Clint’s post. Then I’m trying to protect Rebecca from the bits I’m not arguing with. Funny how that works too, especially when I’ve explained why I think pushing back on the science denialism nonsense specifically is important.

    I’d expect that from Fox “News.” Not from this blog network.

    Well, seeing as you’re new here, I didn’t expect you were going to stick around once the Rebecca-bashing opportunities dried up.

  79. julian says

    I’ve concluded that you are trying to make a mountain out of a mole-hill for damage control.

    I’ve concluded you’re just looking for an opportunity to insult and belittle Watson. After all, if you get to ignore every explanation the person you’re replying to has made, I should too.

    And that’s the last comment I’m making on this. I’ve already accepted anyone anywhere gets to say anything about Rebecca Watson and when I object it’s just me being the white knight. I’m not gonna bother engaging anymore.

  80. bertrussell says

    @85

    So, if the generous option is the wrong one, then Rebecca Watson clearly was talking about all of evolutionary psychology and not just the “pop,” right? Because it’s either or. Either she did a poor job at communicating her intent, or she was wrongfully criticizing a field.

    And, yes, that is my conclusion. I didn’t start with that. Don’t pretend you have access to my mind to be able to assert such a thing.

    I think you’re doing the Fox “News” thing when you explained why “pushing back on the science denialism nonsense specifically is important.”

    And, who says I’m new here? This is my first time commenting, sure, but I’ve been reading this blog network since it was created. I’ve been reading PZ since he was back on Science Blogs. Let me give you some advice…stop pretending you know me. You failed when you tried to assert the Fox “News” comparison was held from beginning. You failed here again when trying to say I’m new here.

  81. says

    So, if the generous option is the wrong one, then Rebecca Watson clearly was talking about all of evolutionary psychology and not just the “pop,” right? Because it’s either or. Either she did a poor job at communicating her intent, or she was wrongfully criticizing a field.

    Hey, look. Suddenly “lazy” isn’t one of the options. But since you believe the only way someone can state something badly is out of laziness, you’re done here as a commenter. I hate lazy commenters.

  82. bertrussell says

    @89

    Laziness is the conclusion that I, and others, like Chris Hallquist, have reached to explain why she did such a poor job communicating what her actual target was, especially given that she has done this song and dance before (ya know, giving presentations to large groups of people). The fact that I didn’t include the word lazy isn’t anything to go “Hey, look” over.

  83. says

    All right. I’ll let one last comment through, because the point needs to be made unequivocally.

    Laziness is not a requirement for thinking your thesis is more clear to people than it is, particularly when it was clear to many. There are other possibilities, such as it having been clear to the people who have seen the presentation and given you feedback.

    When there are multiple possibilities that you don’t have the information required to distinguish between, you are not coming to a conclusion. You’re guessing.

    Guessing and then acting on that guess, particularly acting to the detriment of others, is unskeptical and of highly questionable ethics. That you claim this for yourself is not a pretty thing.

  84. Pieter B, FCD says

    I think trying to take down Ed Clint to save Rebecca Watson some much needed criticism is low.

    “Take down”? Excuse me? We are disagreeing with Ed Clint. He voiced a criticism of Rebecca’s talk; we’re criticizing his criticism. We can’t get him fired from Skeptic Ink; he’s a co-founder of it.I don’t think anyone has suggested anything other than he stop using over-the-top language like “science denialism.” Why is criticism of Rebecca OK, but Ed should be immune? Y’all just keep digging the hole deeper.

    Re: taking people down, I’ve seen several suggestions that Rebecca not be booked for future conferences, and one that she even be banned from attending them. Who’s suggesting anything similar be done to Ed? Quite frankly, I doubt that this shitstorm will affect conference organizers any more than the past shitstorms have.

  85. LeftSidePositive says

    “Did such a poor job communicating what her actual target was”?! Seriously? How about that what she was refuting in Evolutionary Psychology is what the VAST majority of people mean when they refer to Evolutionary Psychology, and that the beliefs she was correcting show up ALL THE TIME on the skeptic blogosphere and are used to marginalize women. Like it or not, to huge swaths of the internet (me, PZ, Amanda Marcotte, Massimo Pigliucci, and Rebecca included), Evolutionary Psychology means exactly what she was debunking: pathetic just-so stories to reinforce stereotypes or to claim our modern culture is evolutionarily determined, because that’s the only context in which people ever cite the discipline. If you have some obscure hobby-horse that you’re convinced is the “real” EvoPsych…well, the discipline is going to be known by its most influential and outspoken proponents so people are going to place a higher value on communicating to each other succinctly than to pay due deference to your particular favorite papers (this is assuming, of course, that your favorite “good” EvoPsych doesn’t suffer from the same methodological flaws that we are criticizing–and given BirdTerrifier’s embrace of EvoPsych’s conception of gender roles in the quoted tweets, whatever you have in your head as “the good stuff” has, to my mind, a non-zero probability of being shit too).

  86. says

    Actually, if you care to visit Ed Clint’s initial post about the subject, he cites an article that lists five basic scientific denialism tactics. He uses that list to back up his claim. So, I really do have to exception with your allegation of “expansive” use of the term. The list is here:

    Yes, and Mark Hoofnagle has exlained why Rebecca Watson’s talk was NOT an example of denialism. So, in other words, Ed Clint used it wrongly when he tried to use it to back up his claim.

    Has he apologized for that?

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