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Mar 31 2013

Working Together on Core Issues

The opening statements of the dialog are up. Theirs is here. Mine is here as well as included below. Commenting on the posts there is significantly limited and heavily moderated, disallowing crosstalk between commenters. There is a third thread here for those who want to talk back and forth, but even those comments are moderated. Guidelines for conversation on that site are here.

How can we work together on core issues on which we broadly agree, including promoting reason, critical thinking, science, skepticism, atheism and secularism in the real world?

Four stick figures holding a piece of a puzzle.The key to working together under these circumstances is to understand that there are myriad solutions to each of these problems. None of them are complete in themselves, but together, they provide a strong force for change. Additionally, pursuing multiple strategies at once allows us to take advantage of the diverse talents and motivations of those who find value in promoting all or any of these ideals.

To use science as the least contentious (currently) of these topics, we already recognize that there are different roles to be played. We recognize the bench scientist and the field scientist. We recognize the physicist and the sociologist. We recognize the philosopher of science and the critic of methods. We recognize the lab manager and the lab technician. We recognize the grade-school science teacher and the PhD student. We recognize the peer reviewer and the science journalist.

There are far more roles to be played in promoting science than I’ve listed, but this gets the idea across. We require all those people and more to do good science, and we understand that. We don’t expect Neil deGrasse Tyson to be Shinya Yamanaka or either of them to be Mary Roach. We don’t tell them they’re hurting science because they’re not doing each other’s job. We all understand this.

For whatever reason–possibly because the secular and skeptical movements in their current incarnations are much younger, smaller, and more consistently besieged than the broad institutions of science and science popularization–we lose that insight when talking about these movements and their priorities. All sorts of people suddenly seem to know The One True and Proper Way to conduct the campaign for the Pure and Shining Platonic Ideal of…whichever issue we happen to be promoting.

According to these people, we may not or we may or we must include religious skepticism under our skeptical umbrella. We may not or we may or we must build friendly working relationships with religious institutions with similar goals. We may not or we may or we must shape our agendas to appeal to groups of people whose relationships to these various issues are very different from the relationships of the white, cisgendered, educated, middle-class to upper-class men who have shaped the traditional concerns of our movements.

All of us. May not. Must. Things can get very prescriptive very quickly.

That kind of prescriptivism is no more necessary for us, however, than it is in science. Beyond the basics of ethics and efficacy, we can take as many approaches as we have time and/or money, talent, and motivation for. Beyond ethics and efficacy, the more prescriptivist we are, the more people we exclude, because we don’t offer meaningful work that motivates them and puts their talents to work. The demand for active volunteers is high. They can always find another issue that motivates them with groups behind those issues that will welcome their work instead of endlessly insisting it’s the wrong kind of work.

So some of us find church-state separation law motivating, and we (in the U.S.) become members or follow action alerts from the Freedom from Religion Foundation or Americans United for Separation of Church and State or American Atheists or the ACLU. Some of us follow politics very closely and sign up with the Center for Inquiry’s Office of Public Policy or the Secular Coalition of America. Some of us are particularly concerned about science education and support the National Center for Science Education. Some of us want to see big-name speakers in front of crowds promoting our agendas and support the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science or the James Randi Educational Foundation. Some of us like the think-tank approach of CFI and its related organizations and publications. Some of us work with our local groups to create change in our own communities.

Some of us are particularly in developing younger activists and support the Secular Student Alliance, have joined Secular Woman because we’re motivated by the assault on women’s rights to bodily autonomy, or feel that the Black Skeptics Group Los Angeles do important work with young adults that no one else is doing. Or we’ve joined some other specialized affiliation group that speaks to our interests. Some of us take our advocacy for skepticism or secularism with us into our other advocacy work because those principles can and should make our most important work better. Some of us consider our advocacy for skepticism and criticial thinking our most important work and insist that we apply these principles to our shared advocacy work do for exactly the same reason. And on and on and on.

Some of us don’t work with existing groups at all. We’re writers or vloggers or filmmakers or singers or graphic designers or interviewers who are producing independent content. We volunteer at our kids’ schools to improve education and watch what our local school boards are up to. We encourage our kids to ask questions and do their own hard thinking. We stop the annoying email chain letter with an annoying link to Snopes. We talk about politics and religion around the dinner table. We send letters to the editors of our local papers and make sure to talk to our politicians when given the chance. We share cool science articles, xkcd strips, and “I fucking love science” memes on social media. We do a thousand and one things to make the tiny differences as well as the large ones.

Several stick figures holding hands.All of that is working toward common goals, even when it isn’t working hand in hand. It’s working together without having to agree at every point or even to work closely with anyone else. Everyone gets to do what motivates them–to a point. We do still have to consider ethics and efficacy.

I’ll assume I don’t have to get into ethics at this point. I will later if it becomes necessary.

When we’re talking about promotion of ideals and behavior, attending to efficacy is particularly important and not always easy. I recommend two resources highly. The Skeptical Activism Campaign Manual (pdf) by Desiree Schell, Maria Walters, Trevor Zimmerman, and K.O. Myers is an amazingly detailed resource for thinking your way through activism, including who your target audience is, how you expect to reach them, and how you’ll measure your success. I would also recommend Todd Stiefel’s presentation on Strategy and Leadership that he’s given at a couple of conferences. It covers a similar sort of planning but at the organizational level and over a longer period. Both resources strongly promote an “eyes on the prize” perspective.

That’s an important perspective. We become emotionally invested in the groups and activities in which we invest our efforts. If we hear that we’re not successfully reaching everyone we’d like to, it’s all too easy for us to find reasons to dismiss that feedback or blame the failure on others. Setting benchmarks ahead of time protects us from our own biases–as well as those of other people who might have their own reasons for persuading us to change.

Sometimes that analysis of our efficacy will lead us back to a single, more prescribed approach. For example, we may want to craft a single message that can be broadcast to as many people as possible while alienating as few as possible. Sometimes it will lead us to use more parallel approaches, perhaps because we expect an issue to be important to different demographics for different reasons. Either way, our behavior going forward will be based in evidence rather than our innate or learned biases.

So, in short, we work together by not always insisting we all have to work closely on the same projects in the same ways and by keeping an eye on our ethics and efficacy in order to make sure we don’t overlook opportunities for outreach.

Images: Courtesy of lumaxart. Some rights reserved.

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  1. 1
    carlie

    I think what you said was great. I have problems with the other opening statement, particularly this part:

    We see the issues as a clash of ideas between those who wish to impose a particular political and social ideology, and those who wish to maintain the rationalist principles that have served us well for so many years.

    This is the crux of the problem right here: the way things have been have NOT served all of us well for so many years. They have served many of us quite badly. The problem is that people in his camp don’t think those other people who have been served badly matter at all, and I don’t know how any discussion can really take place without an understanding and acknowledgement of that. And that goes hand in hand with this:

    We believe that in order for us to be effective we should strive to avoid:
    5(a) Imposing political or social beliefs on others.

    When the social belief is “treat me like a full human”, then I think that should not be avoided at all. And again, that’s really part of the basic foundation: if you refuse to accept basic acknowledgement that other people have experienced “the atheist community” differently than you have, and that the ground rules need to incorporate that, then I don’t know what common ground there is to start with.

  2. 2
    LeftSidePositive

    Overall a very good piece, but I do have some quibbles regarding why taking a position on religious skepticism is “prescriptive,” and what exactly you mean by working with religious institutions to achieve common goals.

    Firstly, what we may or may not or must do should be a matter of evidence-based and ethics-based discussion. There may be some things, like what one happens to find most interesting, that is purely subjective and thus prescribing one or the other would be bad. HOWEVER, let’s not elevate this neutrality to the point of ignoring possible evidence and ethical concerns. For instance, how to approach skepticism, indeed what skepticism means, is hugely dependent on where one chooses to apply it. Simply put, being highly skeptical of some things and refusing to apply skepticism to others simply isn’t skeptical at all. It is appropriating the language of skepticism to bolster pre-determined beliefs. So, it’s fine if a speaker/author just isn’t interested in religious skepticism, but for zem to declare it off-limits, or to insist on being treated as a skeptic despite failing to apply skepticism rationally or consistently (or getting all huffy when people criticize a lack of skepticism), are not values we should support. Similarly, a conference that places economics or religion a priori outside of their scope of skepticism (falsely setting boundaries on what inferences can reasonably be drawn from available evidence), and especially to do so with the intent of accommodating those with evidence-lacking views in that regard, is not true skepticism, but rather enjoying the benefits and self-flattery of skepticism only when it’s convenient. Finally, why only religion?! (and perhaps politics) I have NEVER heard that anyone who is very talented at debunking bigfoot should be included and lauded in a skeptic conference when in other venues they promote homeopathy. So why must we turn a blind eye to religious claims?

    As far as working with religious groups, it is vitally necessary to address WHICH goals we’re talking about, and I would go so far as to say it only makes sense to label such a thing as a common goal when there is no religious content to it whatsoever. So, working with religious groups to get the FDA to require efficacy standards before homeopathic remedies can be marketed? Fine. I can’t think of a single reason why the other group’s religiosity would get in the way. However, working with religious groups to have evolution be taught properly in schools? Well–there are a lot of risks in terms of actually having your goals met. Is this religious group actually advocating a sort of theistic evolution? Will working with religious groups require you to make philosophically suspect claims about religion being compatible with science? Will the need not to offend or alienate the religious colleagues limit how you actually teach the approach to science or what conclusions you can draw from it. Discussing the optimum way to deal with these challenges is not being needlessly fracturing or prescriptive, it is an important aspect of making progress in our movement and in attaining our goals, and these need to be hashed out.

  3. 3
    arbor

    I do not want to work with them on any issue.

    Nugent’s “conversation” is misguided. I wish that it weren’t occurring.

  4. 4
    LeftSidePositive

    We see the issues as a clash of ideas between those who wish to impose a particular political and social ideology, and those who wish to maintain the rationalist principles that have served us well for so many years.

    This is a false dichotomy. Why does this author think that certain political and social views are at odds with rationalist principles?! Doesn’t it rather make sense to adopt the political and social views that are best supported by evidence?

    And, moreover, arguing for a particular political and social “ideology” (a term that is begging the question that these worldviews were not arrived at rationally) is not “imposing” it on anyone else. If they can’t defend their competing political and social worldview with evidence (note how badly they failed here, and even tried to say that evidence wasn’t even applicable to their world view, that they instead held as a type of identity or ideology themselves, ironically enough!), then it will die out, and the other political and social views will be more respected and accepted. This isn’t “imposition”; this is just them failing to support what they believe. The holders of better-supported views will rightfully criticize them (and if they didn’t want to be criticized, they could come up with a defensible argument rather than whine about “imposed” views, and, you know, care if what they believe is true!), just like we criticize people who believe in homeopathy. Allopathic medicine practitioners have not “imposed” their beliefs on the homeopathic community, we just happen to be right and every attempt to justify homeopathy has failed. Homeopaths have therefore been left behind by all legitimate medical research enterprises, just like the androcentrists are being left behind by the atheist community.

  5. 5
    A Hermit

    arguing for a particular political and social “ideology” (a term that is begging the question that these worldviews were not arrived at rationally) is not “imposing” it on anyone else.

    I was struck by that too; this strange idea that arguing for progress is an imposition. One could more reasonably argue that the insistence on adhering to some idealized tried and true “Old Tyme” scepticism imposes a rigid status quo on thos eof us who see room for change and progress.

  6. 6
    smhll

    We see the issues as a clash of ideas between those who wish to impose a particular political and social ideology, and those who wish to maintain the rationalist principles that have served us well for so many years.

    I tend to agree that this part needs to be explored in more depth. I’d like to see what kind of definition can be agreed on for the word “dogma”, since that word gets tossed around a lot. The word seems to be a substitute or at least a shortcut for an argument.

  7. 7
    smhll

    Darn, that first para in 6. is supposed to be blockquoted.

  8. 8
    carlie

    This is a false dichotomy. Why does this author think that certain political and social views are at odds with rationalist principles?! Doesn’t it rather make sense to adopt the political and social views that are best supported by evidence?

    I believe that he (and others like him) think that taking any specific political or social view necessitates agreeing with everything related to said view wholesale, and therefore you’re taking things “on faith” or simply because they are part and parcel of that thing rather than examining every bit of it individually and seeing which are supported by evidence. So feminism = accepting lots of things that should be disagreed with as well as things that should be agreed with, and their answer is… to throw it all out instead. Yeah, there are a lot of problems with that approach, not to mention that that particular mindset also tends to discount actual evidence and pretend it doesn’t exist, as well as making up fake tenets they think are part of that view they don’t like.

  9. 9
    carlie

    I’d like to see what kind of definition can be agreed on for the word “dogma”, since that word gets tossed around a lot.

    I think their definition is dogma = any set of views that can be described with a single name (e.g., feminism, liberalism, etc).

  10. 10
    LeftSidePositive

    My opinion of the other side’s argument follows. Trigger warning for reality and the reality of language they’re using. I noticed I was switching back from the ugly implications behind their words to just straight-up saying where they’re wrong, so to avoid confusion (although it’s literarily dreadful), I’m prefacing all translations of their prettified statements that are far more consistent with their actions with “**.”

    1-3 are all fluff.

    4(a) We stand for equality for all.

    Bullshit. If this were true you wouldn’t resort to a barrage of gender-based insults and harassment (or turn a blind eye when your friends perpetuate this behavior).

    4(b) [...]We establish truth through the application of logic, evidence-based reasoning, critical thinking, skepticism, and scientific inquiry.

    Then why are you so pathetically unable to actually defend your worldview when given a chance? (See link in my prior post) Why must you resort to harassment when you don’t get your way? Why must the likes of Thunderf00t so badly strawman the position of harassment policies at conferences (see Greta’s “So Much Wrong” series, and in brief–insisting consent from the INDIVIDUAL does not mean getting permission from the conference!!)? Why does Dawkins have to resort to a pathetic “Dear Muslima” which is nothing more than a shut-up-thats-why and one that he would never tolerate if anyone said atheist discrimination wasn’t as important as children starving? Why does DJ Grothe need to hide behind self-contradictory walls of text to justify his claim that women weren’t registering for TAM because of “irresponsible messaging”? Why does DJ think no reports of harassment on a vaguely-worded question like “did you feel welcome” can actually mean there was no harassment? Why did he think talking someone out of their objection was the way to address harassment? Why does Justin Vacula feel the need to mock someone for her depression if he’s engaging in evidence-based reasoning?

    4(c) In our pursuit of truth, we must test our beliefs in the forum of open and free debate. Nothing is left off the table;

    Bullshit. No one is feeling the need to seriously debate whether or not the Earth is round, or whether or not fire burns people. Some things do get settled and we move on from them. The fact that you are viscerally opposed to women’s freedom from harassment or the existence of privilege being settled says something about your values and your beliefs, and you pay qualitatively and quantitatively DIFFERENT attention to these things than you do to other beliefs that could be examined in a value-free, “question-everything” JAQ-off.

    freeing this world of the terrible injustices we see all around us.

    **And are actively perpetuating by our campaigns of lying and harassment.

    4(d) We recognize that personal feelings have limited utility when determining objective reality.

    **When I call you a cunt, the fact that it hurts your feelings should not be used as evidence that it’s objectively harmful. The feelings that we, privileged and overwhelmingly white male persons have, are valid, and your differing experiences with how you are treated are not evidence that we are being insensitive or dismissive of you (by the way, we won’t acknowledge data about how you’re being treated, like huge reversals of people’s opinions of a science promoter when they find out she’s female, or studies of women getting disproportionately ignored and/or harassed).

    4(e) [...] We therefore feel, in the interests of mutual cooperation, that it is appropriate to consider the best in others, give the benefit of the doubt, and assume others are acting in good faith.

    **And you are not allowed to use any amount of evidence that someone is not acting in good faith to change your mind about them. Also, “giving the benefit of the doubt” means you cannot address the subtext or unquestioned assumptions in someone’s argument, and their good intent must be treated as magic. Pointing out inconsistencies in their stated good intent and what they are actually advocating is Very Bad Indeed. it is more important that we achieve Mutual Cooperation than that we address our biases and flawed thinking.

    5(a) Imposing political or social beliefs on others. We can of course form our own social and political groups within the movement but they have no inherent right to impose those beliefs on others.

    **And, of course, saying “this is why I think my political and social beliefs are right and more ethical” is an unacceptable imposition, but conducting a vicious harassment campaign and relentlessly trolling those who wish to break off and do their own thing is in no way trying to impose your beliefs on others.

    5(b) Attributing motives or character traits on others.

    **We insist that you ignore all available evidence that certain behavior is vastly more consistent with some motives and character traits than others.

    Ad Hominem fallacies serve no good purpose in reasonable dialogue.

    Evaluating someone’s track record with moral reasoning to determine whether or not they are trustworthy on moral questions is not an “ad hominem.” Pointing out that someone’s worldview has necessary odious components (that they may or may not be consciously aware of) and that this necessarily reflects badly on the validity of their moral reasoning is not an ad hominem.

    5(c) Dismissing others in a dialogue if they do not follow our own beliefs.

    **Even when that belief they don’t follow is “no one is deserving of rape and death threats” or “harassment is bad.”

    We should try to work together, irrespective of differences of opinion

    **on matters like “would it be immoral to rape a Skepchick?” or “do men have to care about whether or not a woman seems interested before they make a pass at her?”

    as long as equality for all remains a core principle.

    **that we give lip service to, even when we call you cunts, perpetrate malicious photoshops, and engage in fat-phobic slurs.

    5(d) Commenting on others without accepting a right of reply.

    **You MUST let us keep calling you a cunt in your comment section!!! No matter how many times we lie and evade and leave insufferable masturbatory walls of text on your blogs and never get around to actually answering your questions in a productive manner, you MUST let us keep commenting!!

    If we criticise others then others have the right to respond to that without being personally attacked for doing so.

    **When you say that we have biases that are evident in our words, or that our actions have harmful effects, you’re personally attacking us. When we call you a cunt, or celebrate your depression, we’re not personally attacking you.

    5(e) Ignoring the feelings of others. However we should not use our feelings to shut down valid and genuine debate and discussion.

    **”You’re a fat cunt!” is genuine debate and discussion. So is “women are naturally less adept at critical thinking and science and math” no matter how many times you’ve debunked the studies we’re quoting.

    How many times have we heard theists say we should never attack their beliefs as it hurts their feelings?

    **And we’re absolutely sure that “We don’t see any evidence that your god exists” and “you deserve to be raped, you bitch!” are totally comparable statements. Also, we will conveniently pretend that you’re just saying your feelings are hurt, and we will ignore all the ways you say our beliefs contradict all sociological evidence, and we will ignore the harms that gender-based discrimination has. We will totally ignore that you are making a truth claim about our statements on the roles of women and the effects of these statements.

    5(f) Shutting down all forms of criticism.

    **Like calling you a cunt who deserves to be raped.

    Satire, caricature and critical commentary are a valid human response to any issue and have been for millennia.

    **And when you point out that the presumptions contained in our satire are incorrect or dishonest, we will pretend that calling it “satire” immediately ennobles it. We will pretend that the presentation of “satire” can distance ourselves from the prejudiced, sexist, fat-phobic, homophobic, racist, rape-apologizing bullshit that we are communicating.

    While everyone has the right to their own protected spaces that does not provide the right to censor others outside those spaces.

    **We have no evidence that you actually are censoring others outside of those spaces. Also, we know that you have access to the government.

    6. was dealt with in my previous comment.

    It will set up an ‘us vs. them’ mentality which distracts from our core aims.

    **Our core aims do not include you feeling safe or free from harassment. Also, all “us vs. them” divisions are inherently wrong, even if the definition of “them” is those who engage in defined harmful behaviors, like making rape threats.

    It will alienate our friends and allies who would otherwise wish to support us, but will be discouraged if they do not hold the same political beliefs.

    **Because someone is totally your friend and ally even if they think that jokes about raping you are negotiable political beliefs.

    It will impose unelected political leaders and encourage schisms.

    **Because we totally elected Michael Shermer and Richard Dawkins, and it’s very wrong that our most prominent leaders are being criticized…oh, excuse me, witch-hunted.

    7. [...]We do not seek to control anyone’s space, the policies in others’ spaces, or their expression of their beliefs and values.

    **But we will harass them relentlessly on twitter and set up tons of sockpuppet accounts to pursue them in those spaces.

    However, when people in one such space criticize or challenge other people, we feel it’s important for them to accept rebuttal or presentation of counter-evidence in accordance with the core principles outlined above.

    **”You’re a fat cunt who ought to be raped” is rebuttal and counter-evidence that you have to accept. And when our rebuttals are wordy, repetitive, logically inconsistent, and repeatedly ignore counter-arguments and direct questions, you still have to accept us posting them over and over and OVER again.

    8. Failure to reach a common ground on these issues puts at risk our efforts in achieving our common goals.

    **So you have to put up with us calling you a cunt, or maybe some nativity scene might stay up on public property.

    9. We can work together by following the principles core to atheism/skepticism

    See 4(b).

    and remembering we are each and all fallible humans,

    **Except for Richard Dawkins and Michael Shermer, and DON’T YOU DARE criticize them. Also, our stating that we are fallible human beings means it’s unreasonable for you to have any standard of accountability.

    each with one life to live and with an equal right to self-determination.

    **Unless you determine that you don’t want to be propositioned in an elevator, in which case DIE YOU FILTHY TWAT CUNT PRUDE WHORE.

    We owe it to those who are hurting, suffering, and dying in this big wide world of ours.

    **Unless we’re the ones who are hurting them, in which case they must have deserved it by being so outspoken.

    10. I welcome your comments about this statement and your efforts to help the atheist/skeptic community identify and hopefully expand our “common ground”.

    Fuck off, you filthy liars.

  11. 11
    LeftSidePositive

    @ carlie, #9:

    …but not libertarianism, because that’s of course totally rational.

  12. 12
    Tom Foss

    @carlie:

    if you refuse to accept basic acknowledgement that other people have experienced “the atheist community” differently than you have, and that the ground rules need to incorporate that, then I don’t know what common ground there is to start with.

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head there. So much of the problem stems from this fundamental inability to recognize that a person’s gender, sex, sexual orientation, race, age, ability status, etc. do affect their experiences of the world (which goes hand-in-hand with a rejection of privilege). They try to sound principled when talking about color-blindness and “all humans being treated equally as people” and not “ascrib[ing] intrinsic identit[ies] to someone” based on their minority/majority status, but in doing so, they gloss over the actual inequalities and differences that still exist. It’s not enough that you treat everyone the same (which it’s likely that you don’t) when the system at large does not, and when you oppose efforts to correct those inequalities on the grounds of some perceived infantilization or special treatment.

    Put short: they don’t accept that other people legitimately have different experiences, and their response to people who claim that they do is that they’re not doing it right, they’re too sensitive, they’re being divisive. If they weren’t so emotional/openly feminist/whatever, they’d have the same experience as everyone else (read: the privileged), which is the right/proper/true/way-it’s-always-been way to experience the movement.

    And then, not surprisingly, it starts to sound like right-wing/libertarian memes about hard work and success and poverty and laziness.

    @LeftSidePositive:

    Overall a very good piece, but I do have some quibbles regarding why taking a position on religious skepticism is “prescriptive,” and what exactly you mean by working with religious institutions to achieve common goals.

    I see it as a connection back to the earlier volley in the ongoing internecine skeptical wars, namely the battle over accommodationism. Similar sides were drawn and arguments made over the proper scope of skepticism and driving away potential allies and can’t we all just be nice and can’t this group just stop talking about their pet topic under the umbrella of skepticism. It’s all the same bullshit of fighting over the identity and purity of the group and and trying to keep things the way they’ve always been, which means marginalizing the uncomfortable topics like atheism and feminism.

  13. 13
    carlie

    It’s not enough that you treat everyone the same (which it’s likely that you don’t) when the system at large does not, and when you oppose efforts to correct those inequalities on the grounds of some perceived infantilization or special treatment.

    Doc FreeRide described it the other day as people having “different Bayesian priors”, and I wonder if that kind of language might cut through some of their knee-jerk dismissiveness of sociology.

  14. 14
    Stacy

    This is a false dichotomy. Why does this author think that certain political and social views are at odds with rationalist principles?! Doesn’t it rather make sense to adopt the political and social views that are best supported by evidence?

    Exactly. But they don’t recognize that our feminism is supported by the evidence.

    It may seem that way to them because they don’t fully understand the premises we’re working from, (which themselves are well-supported.)

    But then when we try to explain those, they stick their fingers in their ears and go “la la la la we can’t HEAR you,” and start arguing strawpeople.

  15. 15
    Stacy

    Clarification: “It may seem that way”–ie, that our social justice views are “dogmatic” or at odds with rationalist principles.

  16. 16
    arbor

    Thanks, LeftSidePositive.

    I utterly despise the pitters.

    They and I have nothing in common.

    People – please don’t give them the recognition that they crave.

  17. 17
    Tom Foss

    LeftSidePositive:

    freeing this world of the terrible injustices we see all around us.

    Does anyone else read this like it belongs in the Team Rocket chant?

    Stacy:

    Exactly. But they don’t recognize that our feminism is supported by the evidence.

    It’s really convenient when you can just dismiss the entire fields of sociology and Women’s/Gender Studies.

  18. 18
    mouse

    Test

  19. 19
    mouse

    Sorry for the “test.”
    #10 LeftSidePositive it’s as though you read my mind while I was reading their opening. The contradictions and unstated meanings are terribly obvious behind the niceties.

  20. 20
    LeftSidePositive

    But then when we try to explain those, they stick their fingers in their ears and go “la la la la we can’t HEAR you,” and start arguing strawpeople.

    Yeah, Avicenna does a fantastic job here debunking a chill girl who is willfully disregarding what privilege means.

    And then for an added bonus, pitchguest decides to swan in and confuse “not listening to women” with “having a thoughtful, educational, evidence-based disagreement with a woman focused entirely on the content of her argument” and throws in some transphobic gender-policing to boot!

  21. 21
    Your Name's not Bruce?

    @LSP:

    I think you caught all the dog whistles embedded in their screed. Lots of defense of the indefensible dressed up as high-sounding principles, lots of defining away their problematic behaviour. An appeal to The Way Things Have Always Been Done, Led By Those Who Have Always Led Us. A good fisking.

  22. 22
    Tom Foss

    I loved the appeal to tradition with respect to satire. And these are the “real skeptics.”

  23. 23
    johngreg

    While it remains a wholly valid exercise to vigorously disagree with the statements posted at Nugent’s blog / website, it might behoove some of you to actually read what has been posted, and ponder those posts for a bit (rather than just kneejerking like an out of control Atlas rocket), both from Zvan, and from Jack, and instead of just pouncing with the blood-dripping jaws of angry self-righteousness, presumptive assumption, and the emotive howl of ATTACK, try and think through some of the concepts, ideas, and principles presented by both participants, and actually work through pondering and analyzing what may or may not be right and/or wrong, and/or viable or worthy of work.

    None of us is wholly right or wrong, ever. The Pitters (so-called) and the FfTBers (so-called) have both expressed some valid, and some not valid, ideas. And both should be approached with the open minded perspective that is supposed to be a part of both the scientific and the ethically skeptical approach.

    For the record, most of the comments in this thread misrepresent both Zvan, and Jack.

    Also for the record, I agreed with almost all of Zvan’s initial statement (at Nugent’s blog). And where I did not agree, the issues were somewhat minor. Frankly, I am both surprised, and appreciative of her statement, and I think she has some very valid and important points, some of which present more valid and/or important ideas/principles than Jack’s statement.

    I know that Zvan and I have been what could justly be called enemies for well over a year now. Nonetheless, I would like to restate that most of what she posted on that initial comment at Nugents’ blog is, to my mind, valid, important and, most importantly, workable and acheivable. While she and I could never be friends, perhaps on these points we could agree to agree … and discuss.

    Lastly, and totally OT, how do you create spaces between paragraphs on this blog?

  24. 24
    LeftSidePositive

    it might behoove some of you to actually read what has been posted,

    Oh, I’m sorry…did you miss the line by line fisking I posted?!

    instead of just pouncing with the blood-dripping jaws of angry self-righteousness, presumptive assumption, and the emotive howl of ATTACK,

    I’ll take Transparent Tone Arguments for $600, Alex…

    try and think through some of the concepts, ideas, and principles presented by both participants,

    For instance what?! And we did think them through–and comprehensively showed why they were flat-out wrong and/or dishonest.

    None of us is wholly right or wrong, ever.

    That platitude does not excuse you from acknowledging when you’re wrong and learning from it. It is also a Tu Quoque to try to assert that we’re wrong to deflect from you being wrong.

    The Pitters (so-called) and the FfTBers (so-called) have both expressed some valid, and some not valid, ideas.

    NAME THESE VALID IDEAS OR SHUT THE FUCK UP.

    And both should be approached with the open minded perspective

    If you open your mind too much your brain will fall out.

    If we don’t accept this line of bullshit from Deepak Chopra, why should we tolerate it with you?!

    For the record, most of the comments in this thread misrepresent both Zvan, and Jack.

    Say what you think the misrepresentation is, and make a coherent argument for why it is a misrepresentation, or just fucking stuff it.

  25. 25
    LeftSidePositive

    Lastly, and totally OT, how do you create spaces between paragraphs on this blog?

    Ask Reap Paden. He’ll learn ya.

  26. 26
    rorschach

    I’ll repeat here what I said last night on Pharyngula:

    This is what happens if you give them a forum. You give them credibility. Atheism and skepticism have already lost and are thrown back 20 years just by letting these lying creeps take part in this debate between supposedly equally valid positions.

    If those freaks weren’t atheists, not one person in the movement would have hesitated to call them out on their harassment, bullying, stalking and lying tactics. But here we are, having a “dialogue”.

    It’s frustrating and infuriating.

  27. 27
    Alex Trebek

    LeftSidePositive #24:

    I’ll take Transparent Tone Arguments for $600, Alex…

    Answer: the Daily Double

  28. 28
    Setár, Elvenkitty

    (note to Stephanie: yes, that is me, using my alternate email to be silly)

  29. 29
    Thaumas Themelios

    Hi rorschach,

    As one of the “freaks” you are referring to, I would actually readily welcome being called out on any “harassment, bullying, stalking and lying tactics” I have engaged in, as I’m currently unaware of any such activity on my part; but if I am indeed guilty of such, I would much appreciate it being pointed out so that I could apologize for it, and retract any false statements I’ve made. Could you please link to or quote me where I’ve done any of these things? It would be very much appreciated. Thanks!

    Thaumas, aka Wonderist

  30. 30
    rorschach

    Thaumas, you’re quite right, I don’t know you, and I have no desire at all to ever get to know you. Because you have chosen to, if not actively contribute to the harassment and bullying of Ophelia Benson and Rebecca Watson, to name but two persons, then at least to defend and enable such practices. And that tells me all I need to know.

  31. 31
    oolon

    On the plus side Justin Vacula failed to involve himself in this dialogue when it became clear he made a fool of himself by agreeing there are instances of immoral “pushback” against feminists in the community then failed to agree to any instance of it. He, “Adam Wee”, “uberfeminist” and “BreadGod1″ have now been hash spamming #aacon13 to such an extent that numerous people who have never heard of him or the pitters now dislike them immensely. Cry from the pit; but we are all individuals! It wasn’t meee!!11! Yeah but your “community” or pit endorses and encourages this behaviour from them so expect to get the flak and own it.

    Having read both statements I’m still very encouraged by the give the pitters enough rope strategy…

  32. 32
    Thaumas Themelios

    rorshach,

    Ah, I see, so when you referred to “those freaks” taking part in this dialogue, you weren’t referring to me, then? I’m one of the five involved in the structured dialogue. Which of the other four are you referring to, then? There’s Jack, Tim, and Renee, and also Skep Tickle (who is acting as a moderator). Which of those four are you referring to as engaging in “harassment, bullying, stalking and lying tactics”?

    Also, could you please point out where I’ve defended and enabled “the harassment and bullying of Ophelia Benson and Rebecca Watson, to name but two persons, then at least to defend and enable”? Would very much appreciate that being pointed out.

    Links and/or quotes, please.

  33. 33
    Pigtail Guy

    **And when you point out that the presumptions contained in our satire are incorrect or dishonest, we will pretend that calling it “satire” immediately ennobles it. We will pretend that the presentation of “satire” can distance ourselves from the prejudiced, sexist, fat-phobic, homophobic, racist, rape-apologizing bullshit that we are communicating.

    Thank you!
    In an online discussion that was spawned from the whole Adria Richards explosion, I ended up having to try to explain to some of my “fellow” tech workers why humour is not always this innocuous, innocent, harmless thing they seem to think it is: The jokes you present, and the jokes you laugh at, says something about your views and opinions. If you think, for example, that sexist or homophobic humour is funny, then it is fair to assume that you hold sexist or homophobic views on some level. And if you don’t, you have to be dealing with a certain amount of cognitive dissonance between the worldview you subscribe to intellectually, and the probably culturally induced humour you enjoy. And don’t be surprised if a lot of people outside of your cultural bubble end up judging you on what you consider to be humorous.
    And I don’t by any means feel like a party-pooper. There are millions of hilarious tech jokes and satire to be made (and millions of hilarious free-thought jokes and satire to be made) without having to degrade women, gays, transsexuals, people of different shapes and colours, etc.
    As ways of being, they’re fundamentally sensible, hard to change, and thinking about it, there is little to nothing there that can reasonably be made fun of.
    But homophobia, sexism, racism, etc.? Now those are opinions, and they are deeply flawed, reality-divorced opinions worth derision, bashing and satire.
    The backlash I got for expressing this view is dismaying, if not surprising.

  34. 34
    rorschach

    Thaumas,

    did you not get some kind of briefing before you signed up to defend the slymepit? Do you not have at least some kind of vague ballpark idea of what went on in the last 2 years? Are you seriously claiming plausible deniability now?

    I say guilt by association, whether by dumb ignorance or by intent. If you want links or quotes, there’s this thing called the internet. Feel free to use it.

  35. 35
    Wowbagger, Designated Snarker

    There really doesn’t seem to be much going on over there. Considering how the ‘pitters were tying themselves in knots trying to present themselves as wanting ‘dialogue’, they’ve been very slow to actually respond. I thought there’d be no end of clever, insightful and well-written rebuttals.

  36. 36
    Stephanie Zvan

    There are more comments in moderation. The moderators are figuring out how to work together, so I expect the delay on those to decrease somewhat over time.

  37. 37
    LeftSidePositive

    Thaumas: you had a part in writing that dishonest, weaselly, pretend-outright-abuse-is-just-disagreement nonsense that was linked here. Sorry, but we know the context of statements like (paraphrasing) ‘you must allow us the right to reply,’ ‘we deserve to be able to engage in satire,’ ‘just because you disagree with us…” etc., etc. I posted what is wrong with these, and what are the actual implications of these words based on what your friends have actually said and done. And even if you didn’t actively take part in harassing people (and I just plain don’t know you so I don’t know if you have personally said or done anything odious), if you notice that the Slymepit is harassing people, and you choose to stick around and be friends with them, you are enabling them. You are giving them social support for their views.

    Oh, and by the way, a few seconds on Teh Google and here’s you saying the only reason we shouldn’t say “cunt” is that it will look bad on the AskAnAtheist website. You also made a transparently ridiculous “Europe!!!” argument to ignore the blatant gender-based hatred people are actually using it to communicate.

    You were also fine with propping up John C. Welsh’s delusion that FtB uses “misogyny” to refer to “anything we don’t like” instead of addressing the scholarly definition of misogyny that has been in place for, you know, DECADES, and which we have explained multiple times. Instead, you excuse the misogyny of your friends by pretending that only overt, explicit hatred of women counts, instead of the cultural constructs that demean, distrust, and vilify women.

    On that same thread, you totally failed to identify the reason “pedophile, cunt, and dick” are not the same thing, and humored justicar in acting like they were just words, and the only reason not to use cunt was to “honor the new rule.” (by the way: cunt and dick are wrong because they judge someone’s anatomy pejoratively, which is something personal, unchangeable, and value-neutral about a person. Cunt is especially wrong because it has a long history of being hateful and violent for lots of people–especially the ones you try to ignore when you shout “Europe!” *eyeroll*. Pedophile, on the other hand, refers to harmful behavior that violates the autonomy of minors, which unlike simply having genitalia, is, like, ACTUALLY BAD.)

    You explicitly agreed with John that “cunt is just letters. A sound” even though you KNOW people have been using it threateningly and hatefully to women in this movement, and you know people find it deeply hurtful. Instead you want to rules-lawyer away the fact that it is one of THE most offensive words in American English, and that people ARE using it hatefully toward women in this movement.

    Here is you supporting that lying sack of shit Justicar of all people, and noting that you have been following all this “drama” (thanks for the trivialization there!):

    I am extremely familiar with Ophelia’s ways. You are probably far more familiar with the Rebecca Watson side of things, but I’ve been following Ophelia’s blog for years and years. She is my primary perspective into that side of the conflict.

    As for the other incidents you mention, I’m aware of all of them. I lurkee long time on ERV. Not all of it, but during major drama storms, I tune in.

    And yet you still support these people, when you have ample opportunity for knowledge that they are harassing us.

    So, that’s just from googling you and doing a Ctrl-F on your name on ONE PAGE, and that’s how much defending and enabling you’re doing. I don’t even want to know what else you’re doing and saying, but that’s more than enough to show me you’re part of the problem.

  38. 38
    Brony

    I had a comment posted to your opening statement Stephanie. It was accepted and posted and now it seems to have been taken back. Do you know why by any chance? I thought it a fair summary of what I liked and agreed with in your opening restated in my words.

  39. 39
    Brony

    I guess it was the paragraph thing. Seems pedantic but my fault technically…

  40. 40
    LeftSidePositive

    Oh, and I love the way Thaumas is pretending that he’s only writing on behalf of the five people who wrote the piece, when this whole thing is supposed to be a dialogue between two big “sides.” I’m sorry, but really, what the fuck is the point of talking to five individual people who have a minuscule readership and influence referring only to their individual selves, and yet somehow feel really strongly about “the right of reply”?? Nope, sorry, you stood up to defend the Symepit, Paula Kirby, Richard Dawkins, and everything else. You chose to represent the pro-harassment side of this movement. Your entire opening statement was deflection and harassment apologism. No amount of nominal disclaimers is going to change that. “I don’t speak for everyone” is valid to allow for minor differences of opinion, but you can’t just pretend to be unrelated to the whole group you spend time with, and have been quoted actively enabling.

    Aaaaand another thing…I love how these dumbshits can go around saying “cunt” is “just letters,” but of course “misogynist” and “thug” are “bullying” and totally beyond the pale!

  41. 41
    Thaumas Themelios

    rorshach:

    Thaumas,

    did you not get some kind of briefing before you signed up to defend the slymepit? Do you not have at least some kind of vague ballpark idea of what went on in the last 2 years? Are you seriously claiming plausible deniability now?

    I say guilt by association, whether by dumb ignorance or by intent. If you want links or quotes, there’s this thing called the internet. Feel free to use it.

    Ah, I see. So, you are not willing to back up your claims with evidence, then? And you admit to Guilt by Association fallacy, sadly. I must say I’m rather disappointed. But honestly not surprised. This is par for the course, I’m sad to say.

    And you choose to continue to make vague accusations of ‘signing up to defend the slymepit’. What does that mean, exactly? Do you have links or quotes of me to back up your assertions? No? Colour me unsurprised. I’ve been asking for people to return to evidence-based reasoning for a long time now. Indeed, part of my contribution to the opening statement by Jack was to emphasize precisely that, evidence-based reason over unevidenced assertion.

    You admit you don’t know me, but you seem extremely confident to make open accusations of alleged nefarious activity you cannot demonstrate. Not merely because you don’t know me, but because I’ve not actually engaged in them. You use this to dismiss my arguments. I’m afraid the term for that is an Ad Hominem fallacy, something we also mention in the opening statement.

    I’m surprised you’ve resorted to so many fallacies to try to make your point. I’ve come to expect more from co-hosts of Atheist Experience. It is a big disappointment, to be frank, to see so many self-proclaimed skeptics behaving so unskeptically. Please, look for the evidence for what you are asserting. I assure you, you *will not find it*. I do not defend unethical practices. In fact, I have regularly spoken out against them, even coming from members of the SlymePit.com message forum. See, if you had known what you were talking about before making such irresponsible accusations, you would have known that. That you admit to your Argument from Ignorance fallacy is yet another big disappointment.

    I hope some day soon, perhaps as a result of these structured dialogues, that people begin to engage in a bit more self-skepticism. As I’ve found myself quoting Feynman so frequently recently: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.” Feynman’s advice includes me, of course, but it also includes you. Would be nice to see more people waking up to this.

    Cheers!

  42. 42
    Thaumas Themelios

    “Oh, and I love the way Thaumas is pretending that he’s only writing on behalf of the five people who wrote the piece”

    I’m not even doing that. I’m writing solely on behalf of myself. If you read back in the thread to the comment from rorschach I responded to, it was he who lumped us all together as “freaks” taking part in the dialogue. At first I asked him *only* about me. When he admitted he had nothing on me, I asked for clarification, who of the other four might he be referring to. Sadly, still no confirmation on that request.

  43. 43
    hoary puccoon

    LeftSidePositive @37–

    I thought Thaumas Thamelios was just being mindlessly privileged, asking others to fish out where he might have gone wrong– until I read your response.

    I can’t believe anyone who is smart enough to write in complete sentences is really dumb enough to think what TT claims to think. Referring to American women with one of the worst slurs in American English is perfectly okay, because he once heard that word used humorously in a small town in Scotland?!? That’s the kind of logic one expects from a second grader. It’s the “Nyah, Nyah, I get to say damn because Tommy said Hoover Dam” style of argument.

    If this is where we’re starting from, I don’t think this dialogue is going to work.

  44. 44
    Thaumas Themelios

    There really doesn’t seem to be much going on over there. Considering how the ‘pitters were tying themselves in knots trying to present themselves as wanting ‘dialogue’, they’ve been very slow to actually respond. I thought there’d be no end of clever, insightful and well-written rebuttals.

    As I’ve clarified on the SP as well, this is due to the nature of the collaborative nature of the moderation, and the fact that the moderators are geographically spread across 8 time zones. Moderation is necessarily going to take more time than the usual site which only needs unilateral moderation approval. I’m willing to give the mods benefit of the doubt and be patient. I expect (based on information from Skep Tickle, one of the mods) several comments to be approved in the next day or so.

    There is another thread where less moderation is going to be required, here (again, they’re still working out the kinks of the collaborative moderation process, so no comment yet): http://atheistskepticdialogue.com/2013/03/31/strand-1-discussion/

  45. 45
    rorschach

    I’ve come to expect more from co-hosts of Atheist Experience.

    Oh, but me too! They’re really clever folks. Wait, what? *Giggles uncontrollably*

    Thaumas, I think you should talk to your handlers and ask for your money back mate. They did not instruct you properly, trust me on that one.

    You admit you don’t know me, but you seem extremely confident to make open accusations of alleged nefarious activity you cannot demonstrate. Not merely because you don’t know me, but because I’ve not actually engaged in them. You use this to dismiss my arguments. I’m afraid the term for that is an Ad Hominem fallacy, something we also mention in the opening statement.

    *headdesk*

    Seriously, I give up on this one. Better opposition please.

  46. 46
    Stephanie Zvan

    Thaumas, if you are going to call something a fallacy, you might want to look into what makes it a fallacy. The association fallacy is a fallacy because it relies on irrelevant associations. The observation of relevant associations is not fallacious.

    The pit is hardly the only place open to you for you to make arguments about how you think I and others are wrong. That you choose to make those arguments there, that you choose to associate yourself with what is posted there, instead of places that don’t engage in the practices you say we shouldn’t associate with you, tells us something about your priorities. Don’t be surprised when people have opinions about those priorities.

  47. 47
    Thaumas Themelios

    Thaumas: you had a part in writing that dishonest, weaselly, pretend-outright-abuse-is-just-disagreement nonsense that was linked here.

    What parts are you claiming are “dishonest, weaselly, pretend-outright-abuse-is-just-disagreement”? Specific quotes, please. That’s why we have paragraph numbers, for example, so we can be very specific in who’s saying what.

    Sorry, but we know the context of statements like (paraphrasing) ‘you must allow us the right to reply,’ ‘we deserve to be able to engage in satire,’ ‘just because you disagree with us…” etc., etc. I posted what is wrong with these,

    Could you post what is wrong with the *actual* words, rather than your interpretive paraphrasing? Your interpretation does not ring any bells with what I *actually* think, so perhaps you are ‘reading into’ it that which is not actually there? We specifically mention (as does Nugent) that impugning motives and beliefs on others in this discussion is not only not helpful, but also counter-productive.

    and what are the actual implications of these words based on what your friends have actually said and done.

    My friends? Who are you speaking of specifically? Is everyone on this site or even this blog your friend?

    And even if you didn’t actively take part in harassing people (and I just plain don’t know you so I don’t know if you have personally said or done anything odious), if you notice that the Slymepit is harassing people, and you choose to stick around and be friends with them, you are enabling them. You are giving them social support for their views.

    Could you cite specific examples of this ‘harassment’? I’ve heard many claims of harassment, but none that I’ve seen so far have lived up to the actual definition of harassment as I understand it, based on my admittedly limited reading of the legal issues. Perhaps you could also define what you mean by ‘harassment’? Does anything on FTB count as harassment? Do false accusations of supporting “bullying and harassment” count as harassment in your view?

    If, by your own definition, some behaviour on FTB counts as harassment, would you also hold yourself up to the standard that “if you notice that the [FTB] is harassing people, and you choose to stick around and be friends with them, you are enabling them. You are giving them social support for their views.”

  48. 48
    Stephanie Zvan

    False accusations of bullying and harassment?

    Yeah, fuck you. Go away.

  49. 49
    rorschach

    I’ve heard many claims of harassment, but none that I’ve seen so far have lived up to the actual definition of harassment as I understand it,

    At this point, I think we can all go home. No irony meters left to blow up.

  50. 50
    doubtthat

    If I had a nickel for every time one of these folks wailed, “You don’t know me! You don’t know me! Treat me like an individual,” and subsequently went on to prove that yes, I really did know them based on a few choice phrases…I’d have a bag of fucking nickels.

  51. 51
    doubtthat

    What parts are you claiming are “dishonest, weaselly, pretend-outright-abuse-is-just-disagreement”? Specific quotes, please. That’s why we have paragraph numbers, for example, so we can be very specific in who’s saying what.

    This is the nonsense that kept happening over at Nugent’s blog. You may not agree with LSP’s assessment of your work (I think he did an excellent job of sussing out the disingenuous sanctimony of the effort), but he really did do exactly what you’re asking of him…and just a few mouse scrolls up the page, no less!

    It gets exhausting just repeating things over and over for these folks.

  52. 52
    arbor

    Rorschach said:

    This is what happens if you give them a forum. You give them credibility. Atheism and skepticism have already lost and are thrown back 20 years just by letting these lying creeps take part in this debate between supposedly equally valid positions.

    If those freaks weren’t atheists, not one person in the movement would have hesitated to call them out on their harassment, bullying, stalking and lying tactics. But here we are, having a “dialogue”.

    It’s frustrating and infuriating.

    This. Absolutely this.

  53. 53
    doubtthat

    We stand for equality for all.

    It’s statements like these from Thaumas’ manifesto that I find insulting. It’s as though they don’t realize that most folks here have engaged in politics and recognize this sort of effort.

    This is something the right does over and over: you advance a seemingly unobjectionable principle to cloak malicious views. So, Freedom=no taxes, cut food stamps; “States’ Rights”=any awful thing that you can only get away with in Mississippi when no one is looking…etc.

    They stand for “equality for all,” which seems perfectly fine, until you get to the part where they define feminism as prioritizing men over women. It’s so goddamn obvious that I can’t imagine who they think they’re fooling, but it’s typical MRA nonsense that they’ve adopted. Feminism=misandry, therefore the people who truly believe in equality are the ones who say “cunt” all the time. Up is down, left is right, and equality=continuing the traditional system that has historically generated unequal outcomes.

  54. 54
    doubtthat

    @51 I just noticed that I described LeftSide Positive as “him” and used similar gender defining pronouns. My apologies for that, I have no idea, and it doesn’t really matter. I need to become more familiar with the gender neutral “zir”s and such.

  55. 55
    stakkalee

    Ah yes, the ‘Right of Reply’. I remember learning about that in middle school – it’s in the Bill of Rights, right after the ‘Right to Not Be Criticized’ and just before the ‘Right to Figgy Pudding’. I also thought it was illuminating that, in their statement about finding areas where we can work together, one of the first points is about the necessity of finding areas where we disagree – how exactly does that advance the goal of working together? Well, at least Mick Nugent’s “peacemaker” itch is getting scratched, and after all, isn’t that what the Atheist Movement is all about?

  56. 56
    Brony

    I have a reply to Mr. Smith and I was wondering what the community thought. Would anyone mind letting me know what they think before I actually post it?

    ***
    Note: I am assuming nothing about anyone in this comment. These are general, real issues of ethical philosophy and any assertion I of fact I make is a thing where evidence can be demanded.

    1. Excellent question. My biggest area of contention is that we need to get specific with your “…we…” because the most basic issue in the community is We as a proper noun, the Community and how we relate to one another.

    2. Your experience of the Community. Fair enough.

    3. My primary issue with your piece is your emphasis on how we do what we do as a community. If we do not also mutually acknowledge and support why we have each chosen the atheist/skeptic label I believe we will fail as a community. If we only think of how and what that treats community as if it is a tool only.

    4. …there is no rational basis for such claims of inherent superiority. This is a primary source of disagreement in the Community. I believe I have seen evidence that demonstrates that people have privileged social positions that are de facto positions of superiority. This needs to be discussed as a community, and I realize that there will be many who will say that it already was. To me this is empty of meaning.

    4. These are tools you are talking about. We need ethics that go with why and when you use tools and they are equally important. A computer is useless without instructions or we start blundering about when we try to do something.

    4c. I agree. Except where this neglects the reality of how we make decisions as a group. Eventually consensus develops and the group starts to collect around particular solutions and positions. What do we do about individuals who will not budge and raise their behavior to disruptive levels when the group goes in a direction they do not like? At some point we do start dismissing because we have to in order to move forward. How do you propose we deal with that as a Community?

    4d. This makes no sense to me. Personal feelings are present at all points of our efforts to study and interact with objective reality and each other. One cannot do anything without an emotional input. A popular way of pointing this out is the cry of there being bias everywhere in places like the media. What matters is taking the emotion and its effects into account. We can’t detect the use of a fallacy as easily as when another points it out to us and as skeptics we should welcome the efforts of our fellows to help us improve. And personal history is something that cannot be ignored when it comes to one’s ability to use values, ethics, skepticism and many other things.

    4d. This makes no sense to me. Personal feelings are present at all points of our efforts to study and interact with objective reality and each other. One cannot do anything without an emotional input. A popular way of pointing this out is the cry of there being bias everywhere in places like the media. What matters is taking the emotion and its effects into account. We can’t detect the use of a fallacy as easily as when another points it out to us and as skeptics we should welcome the efforts of our fellows to help us improve. And personal history is something that cannot be ignored when it comes to one’s ability to use values, ethics, skepticism and many other things.

    4e. …assume others are acting in good faith. I personally assume that others are acting in good faith until I have reason to believe otherwise. I reserve the right to reject the words of a person who displays signs of not acting in good faith. I also reserve the right to talk about it to the community.

    5.

    5a. I’m confused, where do you see impositions? I see people passionately suggesting that we follow certain paths and take certain actions as a group. You cannot have an imposition without the power to impose. To what are you referring?

    5b. If someone sees a trait that they suspect makes the person they are dialoguing with a dishonest or manipulative conversation partner, they have the right to point it out as an issue of its own. I would personally accept no less. As long as we agree on that point I too hate to see people rejected due to irrelevant personal features.

    5c. If the difference in belief is too fundamental to the individual persons, and has too much of an effect on any proposed Community political activities, a level of personal dismissal will be unavoidable, for community manners if nothing else. It is better to plan for it and figure out how to compromise. Beliefs inform actions and some actions are disruptive for one reason or another.

    5d. I agree in principle if we are discussing legitimate criticism. But dishonest components of the arguments of another are fair game. A fallacy is a fallacy, a mischaracterization is a mischaracterization. So when it is truly personal I would stand with you. I also reserve the right to point out these things to the Community when I see them. I like to warn my friends.

    5e. This is still an ongoing controversy. The word “feeling” does not take into account the very real intense and often uncontrollable connections that life experience puts on some parts of communication or styles of communication. There must be room to accommodate people who cannot be rational to their fullest extent without community efforts to support them. I find it difficult to compare the bruised feelings of a creationist to the trauma of someone with PTSD.

    5f. I believe in making some forms of criticism situational. It’s pragmatic. I would need to see specifics on examples of shutting down all forms of criticism. I have seen some claim a ban on criticism when what was being requested was avoiding particular kinds of criticism for specific reasons.

    6. I still need to see the evidence of imposition. There can be no imposition without the power to impose.

    7. I agree. Unless the person is in a space that they have the right to control. If they don’t want something in their house, they can tell others to keep it off their site if they wanted. There are areas where people chose to engage with others, and areas where one can publically call out someone. But people also have the right to avoid contact with others if they want. As long as we can agree that unwelcome communication is a real thing we can probably proceed.

    8. Agreed
    9. Agreed

    10. I welcome your comments about this statement and your efforts to help the atheist/skeptic community identify and hopefully expand our “common ground”.

    This is a good start. We will see where it goes.
    ***

    Thanks!

  57. 57
    smhll

    …and instead of just pouncing with the blood-dripping jaws of angry self-righteousness…

    If you see red on my mouth, that’s actually raspberry jam from the toast I am eating, not blood. Just FYI.

  58. 58
    thetalkingstove

    I see Renee Hendricks is one of the authors of that piece…she of the great ‘there are some jobs that women just can’t do, and I know because I’m doing one of them’ argument, and the petty and vicious ‘how dare Greta use her own money to buy shoes!’ debacle. Doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence that this is going to be productive.

    But we’re not going to hear any new arguments from them regardless of who’s involved, are we? It’s just going to be the same old shit about how calling out sexism is worse than sexism itself, with added bits of their individual petty grudges.

  59. 59
    Kevin

    How can we work together on core issues on which we broadly agree, including promoting reason, critical thinking, science, skepticism, atheism and secularism in the real world?

    1. Stop calling people names.

    2. Stop pretending that an mild admonition to not try to pick up women in elevators at 4 in the morning is the worst thing in the world EVER!!!

    3. Stop calling people names.

    4. Stop trying to redefine harassment out of existence.

    5. Stop calling people names.

    6. Stop pretending that targeting people with an ongoing, never-ending onslaught of 7th grade school yard bullying is “satire”, including badly reasoned cartoons, photoshops, e-mail campaigns, creating false twitter accounts in someone’s name, and all the rest. Please, please, pretty please, look up the meaning of the word “satire”. What you’re doing — isn’t.

    7. Stop calling people names.

    8. Stop pretending this is something other than you not understanding that women want to participate fully and completely without condescension, according to their gifts and talents and desires. And that it is not a zero-sum game where giving them greater access somehow diminishes your status.

    9. Stop calling people names.

    10. Stop having over-the-top reactions to the mildest of criticisms. THINK about what you said, and use the “s” word when necessary. (For those who have never used it before the “s” word rhymes with “orry”.)

    11. Stop calling people names.

    12. Stop thinking that privilege is something that only Republican Congressmen exhibit. Look at your own assumptions about the world around you, and recognize that you have many, many advantages others don’t. And stop using those advantages to prevent others from achieving their full potential.

    13. Stop calling people names.

    14. Stop claiming that just because there’s a Kenyan orphan with no legs and malaria and TB and HIV disease, that we shouldn’t address the addressable problems within our own community.

    15. Stop calling people names.

    16. Stop using a pseudonym if you’re engaging in an ongoing campaign of pure vile hatred against a real person who is using his or her real name. Either that or acknowledge that your pseudonymous statements can be instantly discounted and discarded. Recognize that when you attack REAL people behind a ‘nym, you’re engaging in the grossest kind of cowardliness.

    17. Stop calling people names.

    18. Stop using “gotcha” politics. No one is pure as the driven snow. Recognizing and reporting bad behavior doesn’t require that someone is a pure-white virgin who has never sniggered at an off-color joke and who has spent her whole life with her hands neatly folded in her lap with her ankles crossed oh-so-demurely.

    19. Stop calling people bad names.

    20. And finally, stop calling people bad names. If your arguments can’t hold their own weight, attacking the person only spotlights the fact of your intellectual and philosophical deficiencies.

  60. 60
    aardvark406

    I get a bad taste in my mouth from their opening statement. Having control over one’s own space, but mandating a “right to reply” in that same space seem to contradict each other. That, and they seem quite insistent that objectivity should trump empathy all the time no matter what, even if it means losing potential friends and allies.

    Also, am I getting a whiff of false dichotomy from Thaumas Themelios? The “I found something wrong with your definition of harassment, so I am allowed to reject it wholesale and replace it with my own” seems strong with this one.

  61. 61
    Raging Bee

    9. We can work together by following the principles core to atheism/skepticism…

    Yeah, that’s how liars and con-artists tyically respond when they feel the sting of criticism: “Why are you being so mean? We should all be working together and getting along and singing Kumbaya!”

    And the rest of it seems to be the same bland verbose sleaze you’d expect from scumbags who suddenly need to sound cultured. Thanks, LS+, for fisking all that so I wouldn’t have to.

    …it might behoove some of you to actually read what has been posted, and ponder those posts for a bit…

    Says a guy who offers no new insights the rest of us missed, and who shows absolutely no sign of having done what he pompously tells us to do. (What, you’re saying LS+ debunked the wrong statement?)

    Could you post what is wrong with the *actual* words, rather than your interpretive paraphrasing?

    Oh, right, now we’re back to “The words aren’t wrong, your interpretation of them is?” Once again, we’re shown in no uncertain terms how pointless it is to talk to people who refuse to act like grownups. Thomas, if you can’t defend certain statements without being this childish and dishonest, then perhaps you should just admit the statements are indefensible.

    We specifically mention (as does Nugent) that impugning motives and beliefs on others in this discussion is not only not helpful, but also counter-productive.

    You say that after accusing us of dishonesty in our “interpretation” of someone else’s words? Are you even grown up enough to be called a hypocrite?

  62. 62
    Setár, Elvenkitty

    Thaumas Thamelios #47:

    Could you post what is wrong with the *actual* words, rather than your interpretive paraphrasing?

    I don’t understand why the pitizens think this will get anywhere. “I didn’t mean that” doesn’t explain anything, only raising the counter-question “well, then what did you mean?”.

    It’s as if this “debate” is the Million Dollar Challenge. We have to literally divine their meaning and get it right before they will continue, and them not explaining is seemingly part of the challenge =/

  63. 63
    LeftSidePositive

    And you admit to Guilt by Association fallacy, sadly.

    I don’t think you quite understand what guilt by association means. If I try to tar you by something that your relative did, without your knowledge or participation, or something that a coworker or colleague did over which you had no control and unrelated to whatever you’re working on, then that’s a guilt by association fallacy. HOWEVER, when you choose to remain friends with people who are harming others, that is a decision on YOUR part and you are responsible for the social support you give them. People who are hurt by those actions are quite right to be annoyed that you didn’t think those actions were a big enough deal to intervene or sever the friendship (friendships are not like relatives or professional contacts–you enter into them voluntarily, and your choices of friends do reflect on you). Moreover, when you make public statements ACTIVELY AGREEING with the odious behavior, and trying to minimize and justify it, that’s not just an “association.” Those are your actions.

    And you choose to continue to make vague accusations of ‘signing up to defend the slymepit’.

    This is a discussion about hostility and harassment, focused largely on the slymepit. There may be people who share those odious views that aren’t technically members of the slymepit, but the slymepit is the embodiment of the evasive, fallacious, harassment-supporting, misogynistic, privilege-blind, obsessive bullshit we’ve been having to put up with. If you are not defending the slymepit, then what exactly ARE you defending?

    Moreover, you are using the Slymepit’s rationale for its behavior in your post, and yet you claim you don’t defend the slymepit. You are minimizing the behavior of the Slymepit, and claiming that what they are doing isn’t really harassment, and yet you claim you don’t defend they Slymepit. You claim to only be interested in the legal definition of harassment (as opposed to, I dunno, treating your fellow human beings with basic human decency!), which is a defense frequently employed by the Slymepit (and one that they completely lost their shit over when AAI recanted when they realized they fell for it and), and yet you don’t defend the Slymepit. You imply that we should feel guilty for unnamed things FtB has done that you think qualify as harassment, and you allude to the #FTBullies tag, and you claim you don’t defend the Slymepit. You have been quoted positively interacting with JUSTICAR, of all fucking people, and Michael Kingsford Grey, and yet you claim you aren’t defending the Slymepit?

    Dude, we’re not that stupid.

    You admit you don’t know me, but you seem extremely confident to make open accusations of alleged nefarious activity you cannot demonstrate.

    No, idiot. It’s called context. We know Slymepit arguments when we see them. Your opening statement was more than adequate to show that you are defending the values that excuse harassment and trolling. We can bring context to bear on your being disingenuous.

    Not merely because you don’t know me, but because I’ve not actually engaged in them. You use this to dismiss my arguments. I’m afraid the term for that is an Ad Hominem fallacy, something we also mention in the opening statement.

    HOLY SHIT YOU FUCKING IDIOT!! Do you have NO fucking idea what an Ad Hominem actually IS?! An ad hominem fallacy would be something along the lines of “You cheated on your wife, therefore I don’t have to listen to your views on satire.” However, pointing out that you and people you actively support are currently and have a history of minimizing harassing behaviors and gender- body- and age-based insults, up to and including defending them as satire, and saying this is materially relevant to what you are defending when you choose to talk about satire, is NOT an ad hominem. It’s contextualization.

    It is a big disappointment, to be frank, to see so many self-proclaimed skeptics behaving so unskeptically.

    Provide an argument for what you think we’re being insufficiently skeptical about, or shut up. And I hope for your sake it’s better than your 4th-grade understanding of “ad hominem.”

    I assure you, you *will not find it*.

    Argument from assertion!!

    I do not defend unethical practices.

    I quoted you defending unethical practices, such as misrepresenting the definition of misogyny, excusing people who use the word “cunt,” and you explicitly approved of Justicar’s attitude and behavior toward Rebecca Watson.

    That you admit to your Argument from Ignorance fallacy is yet another big disappointment.

    I think you misunderstand. When we say that we don’t know who you are, what we mean is that we don’t CARE who you are. Your choice of friends and your weasel-wording in the opening statement give more than ample evidence that you are being a dishonest apologist for harassment, and we don’t want to know you.

  64. 64
    A Hermit

    My reply to Jack Smith’s comment as submitted:

    <I am not an activist, organizer or conference goer, just an observer who self identifies as a humanist and a doubter with a personal interest in skeptical issues, including those regarding religious beliefs and occasional participant in internet conversations. That said I've been watching the conflict in the wider community of atheists, skeptics and rationalists over the last couple of years and feel compelled to comment, so here's my two cents worth. (Make that a nickle, we don't have pennies here in the Great White North anymore…)

    4(a) Agree with reservations; equality can't mean being blind to cultural and physical obstacles to equal participation. It's not enough to simply proclaim that we stand for equality we have to actually put in the effort to make equality a reality.

    4(b) Agree with reservations. I'm a little put off by the "real truths" language, sounds a little too much like the religious idea of absolute or ultimate truths. Our goal should be the best understanding based on the available evidence, not some mythical ideal truth.

    4(c) Agree with reservations. All claims should be up for examination, but the depth of that examination can't be equivalent for all claims. Some claims are facile, frivolous or have been previously debunked and shouldn't need deep forensic investigation or re-litigating. Also, we need to remember that if extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence it follows that ordinary claims (eg "I went shopping today") only require ordinary evidence or can even be reasonably accepted at face value.

    4(d) Agree with reservations. This is where a lot of the current problems seem to lie. If our goal is cohesion and unity then we have to be sensitive to the feelings of others and express our disagreements in a mature, respectful fashion. That's not to say we can't express our differences strongly but we should be able to do so while being sensitive to how the experiences of others may need to keep the focus on ideas, not on personalities or appearances, as is too often the case lately.

    4(e) Agree with reservations. The assumption of good faith can't be expected to be unlimited. If someone is consistently behaving in a manner that appears to not be in good faith we need to be able to point that out. I always say that respect isn't earned and should be extended to all by default, but it can quickly be lost…

    5(a) I'm confused by this point. Who is "imposing" what on whom? I need a better explanation of what's being proposed here before I can agree or disagree with it.

    5(b) Agree, with the caveat that not all observations about character are ad hominem. Someone who continually behaves in a hostile or insulting manner shouldn't expect the character revealed by such behaviour to be exempt from comment.. On the other hand, photoshopping people's images, mocking their age, appearance, gender, making sexually suggestive comments about them…none of this qualifies as "reasonable dialogue" and it needs to stop.

    5(c) Agree with reservations. If you insist on a core set of principles, especially equality for all, is it reasonable to say we must never dismiss anyone who
    doesn't share those beliefs? When we encounter people who don't appear to be interested in promoting equality for all how far should we go in
    accommodating them? Should we, for example, be welcoming to racists, sexists, homophobes or other bigots? If failing to forcefully rebut those people causes us to look like we are less interested in standing up for the people being marginalized by them aren't we going to have a hard time popularizing our message?

    5(d) Agree with reservations. While I certainly agree that everyone has a right to respond to criticism, but no one is obligated to provide a platform for others to criticize (or as too often has been happening to insult them). What precisely is the objective of this sentence? I apologize in advance if I am mistaken about this, but I suspect it's directed at those who choose to moderate their blog comments…if so this seems to me to contradict the idea of not seeking to control other people's spaces expressed elsewhere in this statement. Please clarify.

    5(e) Agree with reservations. This goes back to 4d. If our goal is cohesion, unity and constructive dialogue we aren't going to make much progress if we can't respect each others' feelings. I don't think anyone is asking that their ideas or opinions be off limits, but when, for example, a significant number of people have repeatedly explained in detail that they are personally offended by the gratuitous use of sexual epithets surely we can have enough respect for there feelings to stop doing it instead of doubling down and wasting time and effort defending the use of such epithets by parsing dictionary definitions of the words in question, debating obscure colloquial uses and generally looking for excuses to ignore the expressed feelings of those others. If people are being offended by the words we are using we can find different words to express those ideas. That's not holding anyone's ideas hostage; it's just common courtesy. Shouldn't be too hard to do…

    And if it's the idea itself that's causing offence we need to ask why and be prepared to re-examine that idea.

    5(f) Disagree. A lot of what's being passed off as "criticism" in our community lately is little more than schoolyard taunting. Making up sexually suggestive nicknames for people, for example, is not criticism. Ideas and behaviour should certainly be subject to fair criticism, even satire and parody, but care must be taken not to cross the line into into those personal attacks referred to in previous sentences. Again, if cohesion and cooperation are the goal some kinds of comment are simply counterproductive. Pointing this out, by the way, is not an act of censorship as suggested in the statement; it is an example of legitimate, reasonable criticism.

    6 Disagree. Here we have this strange idea of "imposition" again. Expressing a point of view even forcefully and passionately is not "imposing" it on anyone. This characterization of the expression of certain points of view as being an intolerable imposition seems to me to be contrary to the principles of free, open, rigorous and unrestricted examination of ideas advocated in the previous part of this statement. On the other hand, it seems to me that insisting on maintaining a rigid status quo will prevent us from promoting the kind of diversity of views and ideas and approaches that we need to see if we want our movement to grow and be effective in bringing about positive change in the world. The last bit about imposing "unelected political officials" is a bit jarring and frankly sounds like the kind of thing we hear from conspiracy theorists…I'm at a loss to understand where this fear is coming from.

    7. Disagree. Again I apologize in advance if I'm mistaking the intent here but this appears once more to be directed at people who choose to rigorously moderate their own forum or blog comments. That said we should all certainly be prepared to respond to legitimate criticisms. But this does not extend to personal attacks, strawmen or mockery, and even in the case of legitimate criticism one's right to speak does not include the right to compel anyone else to provide us with a platform, to listen or to respond.

    8. Disagree. It's certainly a laudable goal to get people to agree to behave like decent human beings toward one another, and |I hope that to some extent we can accomplish that here. But people of good will with an honest desire to promote reason and critical thinking will continue to do so with or without signing on to some list of principles. I'm optimistic enough to believe that those who fail to behave in a rational, mature manner will naturally find themselves marginalized by the larger community. They may in the process do some damage to the image of atheists and skeptics but I don't see an existential threat here.

    9. Agree

    I’ll work on a reply to yours as well, but after first reading I suspect it’s going to look like:

    1) agree
    2) agree
    3) agree…

  65. 65
    Brony

    @ Setar 62
    I call it “Paraphrasing while Present”. This is the internet, act like it. If they have piece of factual information, or act like it, they can damn well be able to give me a link and a logical argument if I want to ask for one. Are they a practiced Skeptic or not?

  66. 66
    A Hermit

    Note to self, proofread, THEN post…

    Please revise point 4(d):

    Agree with reservations. This is where a lot of the current problems seem to lie. If our goal is cohesion and unity then we have to be sensitive to the feelings of others and express our disagreements in a mature, respectful fashion. That’s not to say we can’t express our differences strongly but we should be able to do so while being sensitive to the experiences of others and the need to keep the focus on ideas, not on personalities or appearances, as is too often the case lately.

  67. 67
    arbor

    To those who are replying to numbered paragraphs…

    Please don’t.

    You’re enabling the pitters.

  68. 68
    A Hermit

    Billingtondev has posted what I think is a good summary of both opening statements here:

    http://atheistskepticdialogue.com/2013/03/31/strand-1-discussion/

    It’s true that some of the `pitters honestly see this as ” the issue is a wish to impose ideology vs a wish to maintain rationalist principles.” This is, of course, a load of paranoid bullshit. I’m looking forward to watching the `pitters try to defend this preposterous idea that there is some kind of Stalinist regime being plotted…

    The conspiracy theorist quality of their argument is already peeking through in the opening statement with comments like Jack’s sentence 6:

    6. We see the issues as a clash of ideas between those who wish to impose a particular political and social ideology, and those who wish to maintain the rationalist principles that have served us well for so many years. This kind of imposition will necessarily divide the movement and weaken it. It will set up an ‘us vs. them’ mentality which distracts from our core aims. It will alienate our friends and allies who would otherwise wish to support us, but will be discouraged if they do not hold the same political beliefs. It will impose unelected political leaders and encourage schisms.!!111!!1111!1!11

    (emphasis and “!eleventies!” added)

    That last bit is hysterically funny to me. Is there a coup in the works somehow? Why wasn’t I informed!? When do I get my uniform and medals?

    Seriously…that’s just bizarre…o_O

  69. 69
    Argle Bargle

    A Hermit @68

    I fail to understand why being divisive is a bad thing. If one group of people are misogynist bullies, then why would their victims want anything to do with them? If they want to pursue their “core values” of misogyny and bullying, I certainly will walk rapidly in the opposite direction.

  70. 70
    A Hermit

    Oh I agree Ulysses; which is why in my reply to the opening statement I rejected the idea that we must never be dismissive of people who don’t share our beliefs. I have no problem being dismissive of bigots.

  71. 71
    Brony

    So I guess I can assume that It looks good since no one has said anything. I’ll give it until tomorrow anyway.

  72. 72
    A Hermit

    Hmm this is interesting (or an April Fools joke?)

    Tim Skellet aka Gurdur is withdrawing from the Slymepit team (and that’s what it is, given that the remaining four members are all members of that forum…)

    From his resignation letter:

    http://heathen-hub.com/blog.php?s=2a79f6751019a0bf999f119214599509&b=1695

    I am very concerned about unilateral actions from one of our team, actions which nullify efforts as a team. I’ve stated my concerns, but there has been no adequate reponse at all on that, so I am with immediate effect withdrawing from the team.

    Are they turning on each other already? To quote Peggy Noonan, ““Is it irresponsible to speculate? It is irresponsible not to.” >;-}

  73. 73
    billingtondev

    A Hermit @68
    Thanks.
    Seems to me that without even getting into the areas of critiquing and/or responding to some of the loaded language, unexamined assumptions, and dog whistles, the words of the two statements speak clearly for themselves.

    Even shorter summaries. Compare and contrast:
    Stephanie. There’s lots of ways of working which means many people can be included. We can measure the efficacy of the work based on evidence. All our work should be done ethically.

    Jack. I have determined a list of principles and behaviours that everyone must agree to before any work can be done. Those on one side of the issue must accept the concerns of the other side before we can work together.

    By their own words, you can know them. Choose the petard you wish to hoist.

  74. 74
    LeftSidePositive

    I love how Gurdur whines that “slimepitter” is “a term of abuse and demonization.” Really? REALLY? How about an accurate assessment of how they behave? Is it wrong to criticize someone who wallows in misogynistic insults? Is it wrong to criticize those who congregate for the express purpose of bucking each other up to say the most hateful, bigoted, threatening shit to other bloggers and activists, and to pat each other on the back for their harassment campaigns? And, no, Gurdur, it’s not that we call “anyone we disagree with” or “don’t like” a “slimepitter”–there are pretty clear criteria in terms of 1) being a member of the actual slymepit, 2) being a member of the blog that inspired the slymepit, 3) carrying on hateful and persistent harassment in the style of the slymepit. Even just being a sexist douche is not enough to get called a slymepitter–to my knowledge, no one has called Richard Dawkins or DJ Grothe slymepitters, even though they have said some very sexist and dismissive shit. Has anyone even called Stangroom or Blackford or Radford slymepitters? Not that I’ve seen, although I could be wrong. Usually it’s just pointed out that they’re pompous assholes, and obfuscating, but as far as I know they don’t do the outright hostility that gets one the label.

  75. 75
    A Hermit

    Brony; I think your comments are fine; I differ a little on a couple of points in my own reply but that’s just me.

    Personally, I think Kevin @ 59 has us both beat…

    How can we work together on core issues on which we broadly agree, including promoting reason, critical thinking, science, skepticism, atheism and secularism in the real world?

    1. Stop calling people names…

  76. 76
    magicthighs

    As one of the “freaks” you are referring to, I would actually readily welcome being called out on any “harassment, bullying, stalking and lying tactics” I have engaged in, as I’m currently unaware of any such activity on my part; but if I am indeed guilty of such, I would much appreciate it being pointed out so that I could apologize for it, and retract any false statements I’ve made. Could you please link to or quote me where I’ve done any of these things? It would be very much appreciated. Thanks!

    Thaumas, why are you a part of the exchange at Michael Nugent’s site when you seem to be claiming you have no part in the entire reason the exchange exists?

  77. 77
    carlie

    Has ERV weighed in at all, seeing as how the genesis of the slymepit was at her place?

  78. 78
    oolon

    @magicthighs, I think Thaumas has bit the ban given he lied about the harassment not being harassment. Presumably he thinks the vjack dictionary is better than merriam-webster.

    In terms of him engaging in lies and general Slymepit tactics I found arguing with him to be pretty typical. They usually follow the same pattern of asking for citations, making unevidenced assertions while ignoring any of your evidenced assertions. His defence of about 50 things FtBs/Skepchick/Feminism say and do *are* all dogma with *no* evidence was fun to see. Totally ignored anything that contradicted his position and ploughed on to another point. :-) They really are as much fun to argue with as a visit to the dentist… Much better to just take the piss, imo!

  79. 79
    Wowbagger, Designated Snarker

    I’m still trying to work out what the ‘pitters hope to gain from this. They’re desperate to recruit prominent people – they’re on their knees pleading with EllenBeth Wachs; I can’t imagine she’s going to forget what creeps they are even in the aftermath of what happened at Pharyngula – but no matter what happens, I can’t see anyone on the FtB/Skepchick/A+ side are going to read anything that’s going to make them change their minds.

    The Vacula – with his loyal servant Blackford following close behind – meltdown over AACon13 won’t have helped them, either.

  80. 80
    magicthighs

    @Oolon, ah, I missed him getting a ban. I’d still like an answer, even though I agree with you that there are probably better ways to waste my time. I just think it’s interesting that someone would step up to the plate of speaking for “the other side” and mention some very FtB-specific grievances (the “right of reply” part among other things), but simultaneously claim they’re not representing the views of the people who think it’s ok to call someone a cunt, photoshop them, etc.

    By the way, @Stephanie Zvan, the third link in the article goes to your thread instead of http://atheistskepticdialogue.com/2013/03/31/strand-1-discussion/ .

  81. 81
    Tom Foss

    I’ve heard many claims of harassment, but none that I’ve seen so far have lived up to the actual definition of harassment as I understand it, based on my admittedly limited reading of the legal issues.

    So limited that you don’t understand that there isn’t just one “actual definition of harassment,” but many based on different jurisdictions and degrees/kinds of harassment (criminal, civil, workplace, cyber, etc.). Thankfully, we don’t have to rely on your limited understanding to determine what does and does not constitute harassment under the various statutes and standards. If you’re curious, I spent a good deal of time in a recent guest post and comments at Butterflies and Wheels talking about precisely this.

    Incidentally, as long as we’re talking about false accusations of bullying, presumably you’re just as harsh on the ‘Pitters and the like who use the “#FTBullies” hashtag, right? Either that, or you have actual evidence of bullying from FTB members, or conduct on FTB that does meet your (limited understanding of the) standards of harassment?

    It is a big disappointment, to be frank, to see so many self-proclaimed skeptics behaving so unskeptically.

    Presumably you’ve said as much to the people on the Pit and in the surrounding vicinities who have invented elaborate conspiracy theories that any bad behavior (the acid-throwing guy, for instance) on or near the Pit crowd came from false-flag FTB plants? That Greta Christina faked a “cancer scare” for donations? What of the “skeptics” who sound off on a topic (harassment policies, the legal definition[s] of harassment, etc) without actually conducting any research about it first? You’ve expressed your disappointment to them, too, surely.

  82. 82
    Stacy

    Brony and Kevin, I like your responses and I’m glad you’re posting them at Nugent’s place.

    @LeftSidePositive #10: I very much like your fisk and would love to see it posted at Nugent’s place as well.

    At the moment I don’t feel up to participating over there myself, but good on ya’ll.

  83. 83
    Stacy

    The Vacula – with his loyal servant Blackford following close behind – meltdown over AACon13 won’t have helped them, either.

    I was picturing them as Skipper Blackford and his Little Buddy Gilliga Vacula.

  84. 84
    Brony

    @ A Hermit 75

    Personally, I think Kevin @ 59 has us both beat…

    1. Stop calling people names…

    It’s implicit in any arguments that my assertions are based on. Rhetorical mine field if done correctly :) It has the benefit of being based on real science concerning Triggering too.

    @ Stacy 81
    Thanks. I’m not sure how much more I can get involved in but this looks enjoyable.

  85. 85
    smhll

    Kevin, I loved your comment. Number 20 in particular.

  86. 86
    Brony

    Did you know there is a person in the Slymepit who seems to be encouraging others to weaponize Domination with evolutionary psychology? There also seems to be another implicit suggestion that this be used in Rhetoric. There is at least one person there who wants to encourage verbal aggression at the community level and they are not talking about Triggers.

    I say this as a person who could argue about Triggers and point to MRI data. That place attracts horrifying people.

    I would link but if you can google and know where gossiping happens…

  87. 87
    Brony

    At this point without more information, I think it might be reasonable to wonder if they were not planning on creating Triggers.

  88. 88
    Raging Bee

    There is at least one person there who wants to encourage verbal aggression at the community level and they are not talking about Triggers.

    So…they’re NOT waiting to see what comes of this Grand Dialogue at Nugent’s place? Well, color me surprised.

  89. 89
    Brony

    Raging Bee
    It also just so happens that I am right now trying to do a post on dealing with harassment on the internet from a more “functional” perspective at the A+ forums.
    http://atheismplus.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=4314

    I was just getting ready to nudge into improving rhetoric with the language in journal articles. I wonder if there is a person at those forums with bad intentions.

  90. 90
    A Hermit

    Well my comment on the Slimepit statement is finally out of moderation and only slightly edited….I was hoping some of the snark would survive.

  91. 91
    Raging Bee

    If anyone needs yet another example of shameless rape-culture and rape-apologetics in both academic and libertraisn circles, here’s a hot steaming gem of win from a “professor” in both circles. I should probably say TRIGGER WARNING! BIG HOT STINKING TOXIC HEAP OF TRIGGER WARNING! This jackass is trying to advance the notion that if you rape an unconscious woman without causing physical harm, and she never learns what happened, then kinda sorta maybe no harm might have been done just sayin’ so we’re thinking outta the box like good skeptics:

    http://www.thebigquestions.com/2013/03/20/censorship-environmentalism-and-steubenville/

    And yes, he posted this “thought exercise” in direct response to the Stubenville rape case. Did I say TRIGGER WARNING!!?

    Are these the kind of people we’re being asked to have a “dialogue” with?

  92. 92
    LeftSidePositive

    Raging Bee–somehow, I’ll bet if I suggested I pick the lock on his house, lick all his food (and would have just as much way of knowing he wouldn’t get sick from it as if he rapes someone!), and roll my naked body all over his bedsheets, and hump a picture of his grandmother, and manage to get out of the house before he got back and knew what was going on, he would find the idea a violation of his property & privacy…

  93. 93
    Raging Bee

    Well, LS+, he did get a little prickly when someone offered an example of stealing HIS MONEY in small increments (see comment #130). So apparently women’s bodies are fair game for such “thought exercises,” but his wallet is not.

    Check out the preface to his book. The libertarian bogosity is strong with this one…

  94. 94
    Brony

    I had to edit mine a bit and I resubmitted.

  95. 95
    maddog1129

    @ Brony #86

    Can you explain a little bit what you mean?

    encouraging others to weaponize Domination with evolutionary psychology? There also seems to be another implicit suggestion that this be used in Rhetoric. There is at least one person there who wants to encourage verbal aggression at the community level and they are not talking about Triggers.

    I have no clue.

  96. 96
    Brony

    @maddog1129
    The individuals in the Pit thread I mentioned have my apologies. I find the discussion and play at Prisoner’s Dilemma very disturbing, especially mixed in with individuals who seem to enjoy using oppressive and triggering language. That however does not excuse the sloppiness the led to a confusion of posts and what I went on about in 86,87, and 89.

    For anyone here and curious, there are a few fans of Game Theory, someone proud to use the favorite language of harassers, and someone who sounded vague and proscriptive posting on “forcing pay-off ratios”. I fell to the thing I try to warn people about and got my wires crossed. Sorry.

  1. 97
    Atheist Courtyard of the Gentiles

    [...] that it’s ridiculous, and we have a person with a real name appearing for the motion, Stephanie Zvan, while the harassers and false equivalencers from the Twatson side can conveniently have their say [...]

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