A Skeptical Statement from CFI on PTSD

Yesterday, the Center for Inquiry Management Committee put out an unprecedented statement.

We, the management committee of CFI, believe it is appropriate to confirm that Ms. Hensley is suffering from PTSD. Among other reasons, both Ms. Hensley and CFI receive comments on a regular basis that assert or imply that Ms. Hensley’s statements that she has PTSD must be false. For example, just the other day, CFI received a communication stating “Your organization is terrible for having people on its staff that claim to have PTSD from Twitter!” Some communications on this issue, especially those directed to Ms. Hensley, have themselves been abusive and harassing.

This reaction is disappointing on a number of levels. As explained below, these communications are based on mischaracterizations, false assumptions, faulty reasoning, unscientific attitudes, or misunderstandings. (And, of course, the subset of these communications that are abusive are intolerable.)

This is important for a couple of reasons. [Read more…]

Why Millennials Should Vote

Avery has a post up over at Teen Skepchick about why Millennials, in his opinion, didn’t turn out to vote in this last election. To be blunt, they’re terrible reasons not to vote. Not at all surprising reasons, but terrible nonetheless.

When I say the reasons aren’t surprising, I mean that the reasons Avery gives for abstaining from elections are hardly unique to Millennials, much less to Avery. They’re pervasive in U.S. politics. I also mean that it’s very easy to trace those ideas to their source. [Read more…]

Five Things #Gamergate Needs to Know About Twitter

Looking at bad arguments is a hobby of mine. So when I discovered Milo Yiannopoulos (@Nero) had been suspended from Twitter last night, I had a look at what people were saying about it. Long story short, it was a combination of “Nero was suspended for no reason” and “Ooh, now you’ve messed with the wrong person”. (Irony much?)

The Twitter logo.Along with that, however, were a whole bunch of conspiracy theories and a lot of placing blame based on really, really bad assumptions about how Twitter works. So let’s fix some of those. Based on what I saw last night and what I received from a sealion this morning, here are five things gamergaters really need to understand about Twitter terms-of-service (TOS) violation reports that they don’t.

Also, five attempts to teach gamergaters some vocabulary lessons. [Read more…]

Tell Me What You Want

A while back, I offered people one of those pain-for-funds incentives to donate to Skepticon. Apparently, however, Slyme Pit poetry is too painful for most or all of you.

That’s fair, but it still leaves Skepticon in need. As of right now, with less than two weeks to go before the conference, Skepticon still needs to raise $7,000 to cover their costs for this year. That’s a lot.



People reading this blog probably aren’t going to be able to donate all that money. (If you can, great! Go for it!) Still, whatever you can do would mean a lot to me, as you might be able to tell from my willingness to trawl slime for “poetry”. I’ve made my own donation and added Skepticon to my list of regular monthly donations, but we need a lot more than me.

Why should you donate to Skepticon? Several reasons. [Read more…]

Why “Losing Votes” Still Matter

I’m pro-voting. If you’ve read this blog for a while (a day or two even), you may have noticed.

This afternoon, I tweeted a couple of thoughts to encourage others in the U.S. to vote tomorrow.

(More on this view.)

This second tweet received some argument. The person responding agreed with me that people should still vote, but called voting in states that swing solidly red or blue a “purely symbolic gesture”. Except in the sense that communication is symbolic, I strongly disagree that there’s anything symbolic about voting even when your candidates have no chance of winning. I disagree even when you have no candidates on the ballot who represent your views.

Here are several ways that votes for a candidate who doesn’t win still make a difference. [Read more…]

Minneapolis 2014 Sample Ballot

The election is Tuesday. As usual, I put my reasoning for my votes online for people who don’t have the resources or time to do their own, though I’m skipping those races with only one choice. If my reasoning doesn’t match yours, at least you have some background. If you want to provide additional background in the comments, feel free. If you want information on local races I haven’t touched on, or just another opinion, I recommend Naomi Kritzer’s coverage of the candidates.

You can find your polling place here. [Read more…]

Michael Nugent and the Email

Mick Nugent has responded to my post about providing haven for rapists. As he titles his post, “Why Stephanie Zvan’s defence of PZ Myers’ ‘haven for rapists’ smear is not reasonable based on the evidence“, allow me a moment to clarify a couple of things.

If I thought that PZ’s comments particularly needed defense, I’d have done it before now. I think the tweets in question, which can be found here, stand on their own for anyone who is familiar with Nugent’s recent behavior in email and on his blog. My post responded to demands from Aneris, a slimepitter, that I respond to a skewed version of PZ’s statement in which Nugent’s behavior was attributed to the pit. I ignored that problem and responded because it gave me an opportunity, a hook on which to hang some writing I wanted to do anyway.

I wrote my post because I wanted to say, in my own words, that Mick Nugent has provided a haven for rapists. I’ll still say it. Mick Nugent has provided a haven for rapists by his actions with respect to Michael Shermer. I don’t have to consult with PZ in order to say it. I don’t have to be defending PZ in order to say it. I said it. I believe it. I said why I believe it. I’ll stand by it on my own, thank you very much.

However, rant aside, that’s not what I want to draw people’s attention to. I want to draw attention to the fact that Nugent says PZ claimed Nugent’s commenters were rapists. In particular, I want to draw attention to Nugent’s use of an email from PZ in this regard. [Read more…]

The Ogvorbis Boondoggle

A couple of days ago, I posted a piece thinking through what it means to provide a haven for rapists. Someone left this comment on the post. Pitters have poured massive amounts of time and energy into spreading this idea that it’s worth looking at in detail.

Of course, the burning issue is whether the support and protection of Ogvorbis, a confessed child rapist, here at FreeThoughtBlogs, makes some bloggers such as PZ Myers, Ophelia Benson, and you, “a haven for rapists”. This depends on what the likes of PZ means by “a haven for rapists”.

We know for sure that FTB most certainly is a “haven” for at least ONE rapist, and a couple of others who have been accused of rape. [Read more…]