Power and “Political Correctness”

I’ve been watching the articles about “callout culture” and “political correctness” come rolling out for a while now in frustrated fascination. I suppose it’s fitting that it takes a week in which both Jonathan Chait’s piece deploring “political correctness” and Jeet Heer’s accounting of The New Republic’s record on race were published to move me to write about it.

This isn’t because “Someone is finally speaking about this.” We’ve never stopped. As long as traditionally disenfranchised people have advocated for more power, the ways in which they exercise that power have been fodder for discussion and condemnation.

No, the reason I need to write about this topic this week is that the irony is killing me. Watching Chait argue that people like him are silenced by (in part) the speech of others—particularly women of color—is annoying. Contrasting that argument with the acknowledgement of how thoroughly the institution that protected and promoted Chait’s voice excluded the voices and interests of black people is painful. Seeing the impetus for that acknowledgement reduced to “intense arguments, mostly carried out online” instead of crediting the—often black—intellectuals and activists who made this accounting necessary…well. [Read more…]

Humanism Is People

FtBCon is over for another year. We’re resting and planning for the next one–and planning ways to keep the next one from requiring quite so much rest afterward.

Miri pulled the whole thing together into a playlist that you can find here. I also want to draw your attention to a few individual videos as well. The first of these is short. It’s our opening remarks from Debbie Goddard.

I asked Debbie to provide opening remarks because, when I talk to her, I always come away with a stronger sense of what the atheist and skeptic movements are as a whole. I don’t just see my corner of them. I don’t just think of the loud voices. I see all of us, our history, and our interests. This was no exception.

I love this talk. It’s brimming with perspective. It’s funny. It’s compassionate as hell. You should watch it. [Read more…]

Introducing the Secular Women Work Conference

Or, How I Spent My Winter Vacation

Actually, I didn’t get much of a winter vacation. Or holidays for that matter. In fact, I’ve mostly been running flat out since November. That was when I realized that no Women in Secularism conference in 2015* meant that I knew what I wanted to do for the Minnesota Atheists summer conference this year.

I wanted to put together a conference that celebrates the accomplishment of female and genderqueer activists in the secular movement and makes us all better activists. So I did that. [Read more…]

FtBCon Schedule (Updated)

Update: Now, with links to the sessions. Also, we added a session at the last minute on the psychology of trolls that I’ll be part of.

I’d say FtBCon had snuck up on me if I hadn’t put so much time into getting people prepared for it. But it’s this weekend, and I have panels I’m taking part in this time around, not just moderating. Here’s my schedule of those sessions I’ll be speaking at. I’ll come back before the conference starts and add links to each session. All times are CST. [Read more…]

On Networking

Hey, everyone. Not dead, just incredibly busy doing things that will come to light next month and dealing with the gross(!) basic unfairness of two colds in one month. Plus holidays. Last night, I took to Facebook to post what I thought would be a random, short observation. It got big. People seem to find it helpful. So I’m sharing it here too. Hope to be back more regularly soon.

Right now, I’m working on two things that are incredibly ambitious. There is a a pretty good chance that I’ll manage to pull them both off, though neither is certain by any means. If I do, I will have succeeded in no small part because I am networked with a ridiculous number of skilled, passionate, and generous people. Chances are good that if you’ve just gotten to know me in the past few years, that network is one of the things you associate with me when you think of me. Chances are also good that you find the idea of networking intimidating, because some very large percentage of people do, and that percentage is higher in introverts, which describes a large chunk of my friend list.

Here’s what you need to know: This feels very foreign to me too. It is not “natural” to me in any way. This isn’t how I think of myself, though I’m trying to change that, because I’d like my self-image to be accurate now and again.
[Read more…]

Why I Am Not a Rationalist, Part 2: Questions and Answers

I hope everyone is comfortably recovered from both Skepticon and any holiday shenanigans. I’m not entirely, but it’s time to follow up on the reactions to my “Why I Am Not a Rationalist” post last week. There’s been a fair amount of heat in response to the post, as well as a good bit of confusion. Let’s see whether I can clear some of that up.

Here are the most common questions and objections I’ve come across. [Read more…]

Why I Am Not a Rationalist

I am not a rationalist.

I have friends who are rationalists. I do my best to think of it as a nice little hobby of theirs. I do cryptograms and other puzzles in my down time. They spend time hacking their thinking processes, or trying to. We’ve all got our thing.

Every once in a while, though, they’ll promote some argument or another from another rationalist, and I have to speak up. Why? Because the argument is a dreadful bundle of wrong wrapped up in a “logic” bow. Why? Because it doesn’t matter how well you regulate your thinking. You could overcome the limitations of the human brain and turn yourself into a computer. (You can’t, but bear with me here.) You’re still going to get garbage out if you put garbage in. [Read more…]