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Aug 21 2013

Michael Shermer Legal Fund

Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 10.43.01 AMSomeone has set up an Indiegogo campaign to raise money to help pay for Michael Shermer’s response to the unnamed first hand accuser at PZ’s site.

I actually don’t have a problem with people deciding they want to help raise money to pay for the legal fees someone else is incurring.  I think the justice system is such that that is entirely reasonable, especially if you’re a fan of the guy and think he’s being falsely accused.  It’s really no different from OJ or Michael Jackson fans wanting to financially support “their guy” through their legal troubles.  I happen to find myself on the opposite side, having heard and experienced too much behind the scenes to believe in Shermer’s innocence, but I don’t begrudge those without that knowledge for wanting fair legal representation of Shermer.

I do, however, begrudge them their inability to believe in the good intentions of others with a demonstrable history of trying to do something positive with the movement.  It seems that, to some skeptics, merely offering criticism of problems you see in the organizations, conferences, celebrities, or overall movement is tantamount to wishing to destroy skepticism, rather than an attempt to make skepticism better.

“PZ Myers and the FtB feminists have set their sights on skepticism and atheism in general. They clearly want to do harm to the institutions.”

You hear this argument a lot from Republicans, that criticizing America is anti-America or trying to destroy America, when in fact it’s trying to make America better and fix the problems within, rather than turn a blind eye.  Yes, a lot of “FTB feminists” have set their sights on skepticism and atheism in general, because we’re part of those movements and care deeply about making them better.

And, of course, it’s difficult to give them the benefit of the doubt that they’re just trying to make sure justice is served when there’s this:

A show of support will send the message that we as a community will no longer tolerate illogical attacks on people who do not condone nor support sexual harassment, sexual predation, or rape any more than we support defamation of our community members from anonymous allegations.

Ah, so donating to this is not, in fact, an attempt to help Shermer get decent representation, but rather a way to condemn unnamed victims who come forward with their stories.  Got it.  Out of curiosity, what is the appropriate way for a reporter to deal with a story from an unnamed source who is known and trusted, whose story and reputation is vouched for by multiple others?

347 comments

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  1. 1
    Raging Bee

    So…a) they’re lying about the case against Shermer; b) they’re making this a campaign to shout down and intimidate Shermer’s “enemies;” and c) it’s probably all a bluff, just like all those vague threats of legal action we’ve been hearing so far.

  2. 2
    Ashley F. Miller

    I think it’s a lot more personal than that. These are people whose hero is being attacked and they’re unable or unwilling to see anything but that. You see the same thing with Roman Polanski fans.

  3. 3
    Crommunist

    Ashley, can you and I start a band called “PZ Myers and the FTB Feminists”? The trick is that PZ CAN’T be in the band, but we’ll have a curtain on stage and imply that he’s behind it, secretly controlling each note we play.

  4. 4
    colnago80

    It is my information that Shermer, who has written a number of books that sold well, is a fairly wealthy man who hardly needs this bread.

    Of course, Shermer’s threats to sue his accusers may or may not be serious, depending on what skeletons in his closet might be unearthed during discovery. One always has to be concerned that the revelations under discovery might turn out to be more damaging to his reputation then the accusations we currently know about. This by the way is also true relative to Lawrence Krauss where his association with Jeffrey Epstein and anything revealed during his divorce proceedings would become fodder during discovery.

  5. 5
    Ashley F. Miller

    This may well be a moral imperative now that you’ve come up with the idea, so yes.

  6. 6
    Samuel Erkison

    From the IndieGoGo page:

    $5,000+ A Bottomless Glass Of Wine
    0 out of 10 claimed
    For $5000 you will receive a night of drinking wine with Emery Emery who will not be drinking but keeping your glass full.

    Nope, that’s not sleazy at all.

  7. 7
    smhll

    It seems that, to some skeptics, merely offering criticism of problems you see in the organizations, conferences, celebrities, or overall movement is tantamount to wishing to destroy skepticism, rather than an attempt to make skepticism better.

    In Casual Math, criticism equals hostility equals hatred. (This conclusion is reach by noticing that, ouch, I don’t feel good when I read criticism. And, if I disagree with the criticism, then indignation really roars to life.)

  8. 8
    eigenperson

    I do think it would be a good idea for them to find out whether Shermer needs or wants the money for legal fees before they start trying to pay them. If Shermer ends up deciding not to sue, all these offers of support will end up being more of an embarrassment.

  9. 9
    Raging Bee

    Oh, and how do we know that “legal fund” won’t be used to support people like this guy?

  10. 10
    erratic

    Illogical attacks?! If that’s not a weasel word, what is? The other shoe is going to drop.

  11. 11
    Raging Bee

    Boy, do we ever. Funny how one group of depraved apologists tend to remind us of the other.

  12. 12
    Timid Atheist

    This is another example of a rape joke not being funny. Rape culture at work, happily supported by idiots like this. Makes me sick to my stomach.

  13. 13
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Well, let’s see what happens.
    I have full trust in a PZ Myers legal trust should it be needed

  14. 14
    eigenperson

    I believe PZ has pro bono representation. And Ken from Popehat called this “an important case,” so I doubt he’ll let it fall through the cracks.

  15. 15
    raven

    If PZ Myers and FTB’s set up a legal defense fund, I’m in for sure.

    I don’t like bullies or threats. I do like the truth a whole lot.

  16. 16
    carlie

    One thing that is quite different is that most of the time, when you see something like this, it’s a legal defense fund that is being set up. That is, the person is being dragged into court and needs to defend themselves. What Shermer is doing is going on the attack and suing someone else. So this is not a defense fund, it’s a plaintiff fund.

  17. 17
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    And Ken from Popehat called this “an important case,”

    linky?

  18. 18
  19. 19
    pneumo

    Isn’t Emery Emery the same guy that posted that wrote this:
    http://ardentatheist.tumblr.com/post/58498190215/there-is-nothing-wrong-with-sex

  20. 20
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    ahhh twitter, thanks. Couldn’t find anything easily on his website.

  21. 21
    imnotandrei

    Two minor questions, because I’m nitpicky that way:

    1) Does it count as “fair use” to use the screenshot of Pharyngula in your advertising, and
    2) Does this: PZ Myers and the FtB feminists have set their sights on skepticism and atheism in general. They clearly want to do harm to the institutions. count as “defamation”?

    If either of these are issues, perhaps someone ought to bring that to Indiegogo’s attention.

  22. 22
    R Johnston

    That’s not so much a rape joke as advocacy in favor of rape. I reported it to indiegogo and I hope others will do the same.

  23. 23
    eigenperson

    I am not a lawyer. But here’s my opinion:

    1) Almost certainly yes.
    2) Almost certainly not. I read that as opinion, and therefore protected.

  24. 24
    imnotandrei

    I thought as much, but figured I’d ask. Thank you!

  25. 25
    Ophelia Benson

    It’s not really the case though that Shermer has “legal troubles” that he needs help with. He’s not in legal trouble. PZ’s informant said her goal was to warn other women. That doesn’t equal “legal troubles.”

  26. 26
    unnullifier

    Agreed. The really disingenuous thing about this “legal fund” is that it has the trappings and appearance of a legal defense fund, but in reality, the legal expenses Shermer is accumulating are due to his legal offense against PZ, so this is a “fund a SLAPP lawsuit to shut PZ Myers up” fund.

    I cannot fathom the volume of complaints about infringement of free speech if this situation were reversed.

  27. 27
    Martin Wagner

    Moreover, if Shermer decides not to sue, or does not need to avail himself of this fund if he does, will the money donated be returned to the donors, or will “Emery Emery” just slip it into his pocket and claim he’s using it to “promote skepticism”?

  28. 28
    Kevin Schelley

    I will buy ALL the tickets for these shows… or I would if I weren’t broke.

  29. 29
    R Johnston

    Given how the money is being raised alongside a rape “joke” that advocates getting women black-out drunk there’s pretty much no chance that Shermer’s lawyers would allow him to accept the money even if he wanted it. Taking money from people saying effectively “yeah, Shermer’s a rapist, but really, what’s the big deal?” is not going to accomplish anything other than making his defamation claims look even more ridiculous than they already do.

  30. 30
    Lou Doench

    Can the Approved Male Chorus sing backup?

  31. 31
    leftwingfox

    Excellent points from both of you.

  32. 32
    Alethea Kuiper-Belt

    Pathetic. It is pretty funny, though, that Shermer’s hapless bunch of Dunning-Kruger followers are boosting the signal and thus the damage to his reputation by sharing it more widely. Streisand Effect, have they never heard of it?

  33. 33
    Laura James

    No, you don’t get it. Professional journalists would never print something like that, because its not their qualification to go above the law. Its illegal for professional journalist to post accusations as serious as a federal rape crime or murder crime or drug crime. Posting rape as a “concern” in the feminist community is hardly an excuse. The accountable behavior is to say, “Excuse me, but I am not qualified to post something like this on your behalf. I would recommend that you take this serious issue to the proper authorities for due process. Why is that so hard to understand?

  34. 34
    eigenperson

    Its illegal for professional journalist to post accusations as serious as a federal rape crime or murder crime or drug crime.

    Under what statute or common-law principle is this?

    Hint: Don’t wear yourself out looking for it.

  35. 35
    Kevin Schelley

    So it’s illegal for journalists to publish about any crime that hasn’t made it all the way through the legal system? Huh, I guess we better round up all the journalists that covered the Jerry Sandusky case before he went to trial.

  36. 36
    cityzenjane

    I like to imagine Shermer somewhere reading it all crying out loud “For the love of CTHULU – please shut up!!!”….of his fanboys.

  37. 37
    John Phillips, FCD

    Lou, don’t you mean the Mangina Backing Choir, if I wasn’t on the other side of the pond I’d sign up :)

  38. 38
    davidjanes

    I would also be interested in hearing the relevant statute(s) along with a few citations to the case law to show how the courts have interpreted said statutes.

  39. 39
    James Patterson

    Go look at the list of funders – “jaminradford” is Ben Radford.

  40. 40
    mofa

    “what is the appropriate way for a reporter to deal with a story from an unnamed source who is known and trusted, whose story and reputation is vouched for by multiple others?”

    Via the police and the legal system is the ONLY way.

  41. 41
    carlie

    You are known by the company you keep. Indeed.

  42. 42
    imnotandrei

    Via the police and the legal system is the ONLY way.

    So, you’re prepared to let 90+% of rapes go unpunished, and leave future victims exposed, lest a very few people get accused — not prosecuted, not taken to court — possibly falsely?

    Your priorities are duly noted, mofa.

  43. 43
    skemono

    I would recommend that you take this serious issue to the proper authorities for due process. Why is that so hard to understand?

    Because she said she’d already brought it to the authorities at the time and was ignored? Because taking it to the police after all this time would not result in a conviction? Because stating you’ve been raped generally doesn’t lead to convictions or consequences for the rapist, but harassment, shaming, and trauma for the victim?

    Why is that so hard to understand?

  44. 44
    Ben

    Hiya All,

    I’m a UK atheist & as such can’t claim any special knowledge of the people involved here, but prima facie the notion that it is ever acceptable for serious allegations to be directed at someone in such a manner as leaves them no ability to defend themselves, is appalling. My background is in philosophy – just embarking on a PhD focused on the philosophy of law – and am shocked to see/hear people from what I thought was an intelligent and rational community behaving in this manner. I’m somewhat baffled as well, because everyone I see write about this seems like they are intelligent & caring (I don’t suspect your motives) but I can’t grasp how you don’t find this incredibly problematic.

    Presumably we can all accept that Mr. Shermer could be innocent & if so, how ought he go about clearing his name in your opinions? If indeed he is innocent (just indulge the subjunctive) then surely he should expect to have the right to submit evidence in his defence & this requires that the allegations are made in a substantive manner which admits the possibility of refutation – not merely anonymous claims about actions that took place in unspecified locations at undisclosed times. Indeed if he is guilty (which could also be the case) we ought to want these allegations put in a similar manner so they can dispense with any doubt which we must – as rational, moral people – entertain & allow us to feel justified in our disgust at such a person. Anything less than this surely amounts to a serious intellectual & moral failing on our parts?

    I’ll end by saying I’m not particularly a Shermer fan. Of the big US atheists I found his speaking style dry & tedious + none of his specific focuses interested me much. That said I am committed both the the Atheist movement & the concept of justice and so find posts like this one both depressing (I reiterate that I don’t suspect the authors motives – she seems well intentioned & has a nice writing style) and damaging.

    Hope to understand the matter better/convince a few people,
    Ben.

  45. 45
    jeremystyron

    It’s not as if the police are going to come and arrest you simply for making an accusation. Rather, libel is a suable offense. Journalists report on rape and sexual abuse cases by using the word “alleged” to denote that a person is technically innocent under the law until they are found guilty by a court.

    It should have been taken to an attorney, not to the police and certainly not to a blogger.

  46. 46
    Charly

    You considered only one person in your philosophical masturbation, and that person is Shermer. You completely ommited the context. Very lazy philosophical work indeed.

    You either did not read the original post on Pharyngula and the discussion it sparked, or you do not care, or both. In first case I have an advice to you: Go do your bloody homework before you start wanking in public and embarass yourself. In second case go and do something unspeakable with yourself you disingenuous ass.

    Instead of your one sided and hevily biased non-dilemma consider the following:
    If Shermer is innocent, then publishing the article can damage his ability to get laid at cons and perhaps do some temporary financial damage due to very slight popularity decline. It makes some damage to one person only, and the damage is not comparable with suffering rape victim endures.
    However If Sherme is not innocent, then not publishing the article would mean further women will be very probably raped with all the trauma and irreparable permanent damage that ensues to these multiple persons, damage, that cannot have fiscal value put on.

    Once you solve this dilemma, you will know why what you just wrote will verly likely piss off anyone who has read about this issue around FtB for the last week.

  47. 47
    jeremystyron

    Why exactly should mofa be prepared to make that statement just for pointing out reality, however unfortunate it might be? Why are you putting words in people’s mouths?

  48. 48
    imnotandrei

    Ben, I recommend you read further, first. If you go read some of the threads discussing this on Pharyngula, in particular, there are links pointing you to some of the answers.

    However, I’ll give this a try, as other people have answered this more and are more tired. I am granting you the benefit of the doubt that these are good-faith questions; many of them have been brought up before, in what turned out to be clearly *bad* faith.

    Presumably we can all accept that Mr. Shermer could be innocent & if so, how ought he go about clearing his name in your opinions?

    Mr. Shermer has done enough to ensure his name will never be “clear”. The number of people who have come out now saying something happened, combined with the fact that his name was already in the rumor mill, speak to that.

    On the other hand, having people say “I’ve seen Shermer in social situations, and this seems completely unlike him” would help his reputation. Saying “Hey, wow — if people feel like I have misbehaved around them, I’m sorry, and I’ll try to do a lot better.” would help his reputation.

    hen surely he should expect to have the right to submit evidence in his defence & this requires that the allegations are made in a substantive manner which admits the possibility of refutation – not merely anonymous claims about actions that took place in unspecified locations at undisclosed times.

    And this is where we see that, indeed, you are a philosopher of law. ;) Because there are truth-claims that are outside the realms of the law, and are, indeed, undecideable under U.S. legal structure. (Scots law, IIRC, provides for a verdict of “Not Proven”, which amounts to “We think he’s probably guilty, but there isn’t enough evidence). A person may have committed rape (or any other crime) while not leaving enough evidence behind to provide proof “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

    (It is also worth noting that the “anonymous”, “unspecified”, and “undisclosed” here are all relative to *us*, not to, say, PZ Myers. It is also worth considering that giving up any of those might lead to the very prospect of retribution the source mentioned she was concerned about in the first place.)

    so they can dispense with any doubt

    See above, regarding “beyond a reasonable doubt.” I do not need to have it proven to me that person X is inclined to unethical behavior in bars to make a reasonable judgment that I don’t want to take the risk of drinking with them.

    allow us to feel justified in our disgust at such a person.

    You are allowed to feel the disgust you think the evidence supports. Again; the purpose of this is not to generate disgust, not to put Michael Shermer in jail, or any of those things; it is to provide a warning.

    This is not about criminal justice — this is about risk assessment.

    Anything less than this surely amounts to a serious intellectual & moral failing on our parts?

    No. Otherwise you are establishing the law as sole arbiter of truth — which it quite clearly is not. Similarly, would you not argue it is a moral failing to allow people to go into danger unwarned, when you have the capacity to warn them?

    Atheist movement & the concept of justice

    The movement can only be strengthened by accurate self-examination, and by making sure that its members feel safe inside it. As to the concept of justice — you are conflating it, I fear, with the concept of Law; and there are cases that fall outside that ambit, as well as truths. By fixating on a limited, specific definition of Justice, you are doing a disservice to the people in the community who are not as well-protected by it.

    (I refer you to the classic quote regarding the majesty of the law, bridges, and who is not allowed to sleep under them.)

    It is possible that one might be able to create a legal system that would fit these cases; indeed, I’d be very interested in your thoughts as to how such might work; but saying “It doesn’t fit the current legal system, therefore, no matter the cost, it is unjust” is not helpful.

  49. 49
    imnotandrei

    Because it is entailed by his statement above.

    If you believe that the only appropriate way to deal with tht story is via the legal system, you are arguing that any form of non-legal recourse (warnings given via person-to-person or via a public post, for example) are inappropriate.

    To whom is there a risk from this non-legal recourse?

    The few people accused falsely of rape. (False rape reports, in the figures I’ve seen, run to ~5% of rape reports — and there is significant evidence that even that figure is exaggerated.)

    The argument is then that the *only* recourse is through the legal system.

    Given that there are figures out there that present the likelihood of a rapist being convicted at under 10%, and that most rapists rape more than once, that means that 90% of the rapes will go unpunished — and a not-insignificant percentage of those will be rapes by someone who raped before, and was not punished.

    So: the risks to group 1 is being deemed of higher priority than the risks to people in group 2. In other words, he is prioritizing the small percentage of people who will suffer the non-legal punishments unjustly (since there will be some who will suffer it justly, and some who will, like Jason Thibodeux (IIRC), who manage to clear their names) over the people who will be raped because they did not receive warnings through extrajudicial means that their rapists were dangerous.

    This is before even getting to the secondary effects of his claim, which establishes “You got a conviction” as the required evidence for proof of being raped — since by that standard, a legal failure to convict amounts to an assertion of innocence on the rapist’s part.

  50. 50
    Ben

    Hmmm, not quite the civil tone I expected but c’est la vie.

    Firstly I have read both the original post by PZ (a man I greatly admired while growing up & leaving my faith – father was a CofE vicar), the letter from Shermer’s lawyers & much of the surrounding expression of opinion on this. Not agreeing with your reading =/= not have done the reading.

    Secondly, if I understand you correctly, the question is of simple utilitarianism – what has the worst outcomes. You suggest that individual harm suffered to Shermer if wrongly accused is outweighed by the good to women generally if correctly accused. You have nothing to say about the importance of proof over mere allegations.

    If this is a fair summary of your position I have to ask three questions: somewhat fatuously – does this not strike you as logic of the exact same type used in Pascals wager by religious people? More seriously – do you honestly think that the only moral factor is consequences? If it made the world ‘better’ (i.e. safer/happier) to torture one person to death…would you do that? I certainly wouldn’t as there are many ethical arguments against torture that explicitly don’t care about the supposed ‘good’ that might arise. One might think that the right to a fair trail & an expectation of justice is a similar right to that of not being tortured. Finally, even on your over-simple utilitarian analysis we ought to want the allegations to be put substantively as the damage from endorsing the alternative (allegation as fact) goes beyond anything suffered by Shermer & has consequences for everyone. It isn’t just Shermer’s ability to get laid – which I couldn’t care less about – that’s at stake, it’s everyone’s right to not be defamed, slandered or falsely accused. What if unsubstantiated claims were made against the author of this blog, or against PZ, or against you…or against me? If we accept your argument then there is no end to the number of victims we will leave with no recourse except to face shame & potentially ruin & rejection. It’s an affront to the notion of justice to say that innocence is less important than consequences & more generally it’s an affront to rationality to say that the truth of a matter is less important than the consequences that arise.

    Hopefully you understand my position a little better now,
    Ben.

  51. 51
    Ben

    Thanks for the assumption of good faith…I’m reading your post now & might have answered some points in my own recent one. I feel strongly about this though not through any loyalty to any party but rather that I want to believe the Atheist/Sceptic/Rationalist community is in step with what I honestly believe moral philosophy commits us to.

    Will give a substantive reply once I finish reading your post.

  52. 52
    Kevin Schelley

    It’s not just simple utilitarianism, but it’s also weighing the probabilities.

    What is the probability that any given report of rape is false? Take into consideration how poorly the US justice system handles cases of sexual assault and rape. at the very MOST roughly 6% of rape accusations are false, where more accurate estimates peg it at 2% or lower.

    What is the probability that this particular report of rape is false? Please note that the woman coming forward to PZ doesn’t want the police involved and only wants to warn other women about Shermer. Other people have been making similar comments about Shermer in the backchannel at conferences and other places for many years.

    What does PZ have to gain from this? Not a whole lot directly. Blog hits don’t really seem to be a motivating factor, he doesn’t stand to benefit financially from this, and it earns him a bunch of new enemies. Why would he post this if he didn’t think the unnamed source was credible?

  53. 53
    Kevin Schelley

    Just because you want to believe that the Atheist/Skeptic/Rationalist community is more moral than the rest of society doesn’t mean that it is, or that there is much evidence to suggest that is the case. We have seen again and again abuse and rape/death threats hurled at those who want to silence the voices of those who are fighting for a more inclusive community. It just doesn’t pan out that a community largely dominated by white educated males should somehow be any better than any other area that is dominated by people who have tended to be the oppressors in society.

  54. 54
    Ben

    Ok, thanks for the reply I enjoyed reading it :-) Incidentally my work is exactly on the boundaries between ethics/morality & the law and how close that relationship needs to be/what divergence can be tolerated (though as I said it’s a project about to be undertaken so I might still change it up a little).

    I appreciate the thought that we in fact have an ethical duty to warn people about potential dangers – including the suspect behaviour of others. However I’m uncertain that this is best accomplished with specific and damaging allegations (as opposed to a more general expression of the thought. Had PZ said that Myers was a little sleazy at conferences & that he likes to keep your drinks filled, this would be difficult to object to. Mr. Shermer could reply that this was/is nonsense & ultimately people can make up their minds (no-one has the right to expect people to like them or react to them in a certain fashion). Crucially people would be warned – and thus protected, if indeed there is in fact something they need to be protected from – and if Shermer is ‘innocent’ (weird term to use because we aren’t discussing crime per se but bear with it) he suffers little/no harm & might learn that constant long conversation with people while proffering endless wine might indeed look sleazy to people.

    This seems like it would accomplish the plan of warning/communicating a message. The alternative would be to actually allege a crime has taken place in which case I refer you to my previous post about why we need to then substantiate those allegations and see the matter put to trail/inquiry. I agree that ‘not guilty’ says nothing about a person’s innocence but we sceptics and rationalists know the difficulty of proving a negative. If you have ever tried formal logic, you know that under derivation based systems, it’s impossible to ‘prove’ many derivations as impossible – you can merely show that every/any attempt to make them work has failed. This epistemology is probably the best we can hope for (though I confess a curiosity now about ‘not proven’ as a possible verdict…will have to do some reading I think).

    Sorry if I waffled,
    Ben.

  55. 55
    jeremystyron

    I think it’s a stretch to presume anybody’s priorities based on that. I don’t think anyone is arguing with the notion that the system may be more times than not unjust, nor do I personally think legal recourse is the one and only step that can be taken — although I think seeking counsel from an attorney is the better step than the ones you mentioned — but the problem with anonymous sources should be blatantly obvious, namely that anyone can accuse anyone of anything — you, me or anyone else — and a person’s reputation can be ruined just by the nature of the charge, regardless of whether there is any truth to the claim. That’s why we have laws against libel. The protections in the system go both ways, although I agree with you, it unfortunately tends to favor the abuser, which is a real shame.

  56. 56
    imnotandrei

    I think it’s a stretch to presume anybody’s priorities based on that.

    All I have for evidence for priorities is what people say they believe is more important.

    nor do I personally think legal recourse is the one and only step that can be taken

    Then you’re not in the same boat as mofa. ;)

    but the problem with anonymous sources should be blatantly obvious, namely that anyone can accuse anyone of anything — you, me or anyone else — and a person’s reputation can be ruined just by the nature of the charge,

    For the Nth time — “unknown to you” is not the same as “anonymous”.

    That’s why we have laws against libel.

    And, indeed, those laws may come into play; we shall see.

    But it’s clear to me from the vehemence of mofa’s statement that the priorities are clear to him.

  57. 57
    Ben

    Sure, I wasn’t meaning that I want the community to be whiter than white, but rather that I didn’t want it to endorse what I think is a flawed moral philosophy. I’m from the UK & quite active in the Atheist community (have given talks at Humanist events – helped found *cough and fund* our university Atheist society & have frozen my proverbial’s off standing outside nightclubs countering the local Christian ‘Agape’ movement (which hands our free water to show God’s unconditional love – just let them say a prayer for you) with out own ‘Shagape’ project that gave out free condoms & no prayers ;-)

    In all this time I have never encountered anything of the situations you describe. We have an excellent range of women & men + with the exception of one horrific 50+ year old MRA who tried to come along (he was a sceptic of ‘PC Fascism’ so thought we were a group for him) and offered money to a first-year girl to sleep with him – incidentally the subsequent discussion between he & I wasn’t very…philosophical ;-) – haven’t seen anything to suggest a culture of oppression against any group. We are even bi-partisan & have many vocal advocates of both right-wing & left-wing economics who co-exist long enough to bash religion.

  58. 58
    Charly

    If I am comming off as impolite, then I do not apologize, sinde it is inteded. Your further writing has convinced me, that you did not read the 4000 comments under PZ’s original grenade post and I see no reason to be polite with someone who rehashes something that has been answered at least a dozen times in last few days, including citations from peer-reviewed scientific papers.

    And you topped it off now with slippery slope fallacy. Way to go!

  59. 59
    Ben

    Even the introduction of probability doesn’t alter the fact that the single moral factor highlighted by Charly is that of the action’s consequence. Nothing about the action itself & nothing about the character of whichever agent takes said action…hence simple utilitarianism.

    To address your actual point, all you are doing here is subverting the burden of proof away from the strict sense needed in a trial (beyond reasonable doubt…or 100% certainty* if you prefer) into something less while still wanting to convict him. None of this escape the points I previously raised in refutation of Charly; namely that we have a right to a fair trial & an expectation of justice + that justice demands we have the opportunity to answer our accusers and set out a defence.

  60. 60
    Ben

    ‘Tis no problem chum, the internet is filled with people who are perversely proud of their inability to be polite. You don’t make your contribution more worthy by incorrectly claiming a slippery-slope argument when there isn’t one ;-)

  61. 61
    Kevin Schelley

    This isn’t a trial. This is warning women that Shermer is an unsafe person to be around. Things don’t have to be proven 100% for them to be provisionally accepted. I’m sorry, but the effect of what you are saying is that nobody should accuse anybody of anything unless we know it’s 100% absolutely true. In practice this means that the Catholic child rape scandal would never have been uncovered, that Jerry Sandusky would never have been exposed, that no criminal that had the veneer of respectability ever would have been brought to justice.

  62. 62
    Ben

    If you are accusing someone of a crime…it is a trial. See my response to imnotandrei for thoughts on why you can’t directly accuse a person of rape & claim it is merely a warning to others (specifically it’s that you can issue this warning in other, non-damaging terms).

    Had PZ just said that it has been said of Shermer that he enjoys long alcohol fuelled conversations with people & that in some situations people have felt this exploited them/made them uncomfortable/was sleazy – then nobody could object to this. Sure ‘fans’ of Shermer might cry about ‘demonisation’ but who cares? Anybody who needed warning would be warned & could rebuff/avoid him in future and Shermer himself suffers no meaningful damage as anyone ok with being flirted with won’t be put off & he might even learn (if he didn’t know) that his behaviour is viewed in an unpalatable manner by many people.

  63. 63
    Kevin Schelley

    That makes no sense. How is accusing someone of rape a trial? Please explain this to me.

  64. 64
    Kevin Schelley

    It’s lovely that you have such a welcoming community, but that’s not the case for everyone and especially not the case overall in online atheism. Some people wonder why more women or minorities aren’t involved in atheist communities… it’s because they don’t feel welcome. They don’t feel as if their concerns are being addressed, that their lived experiences are given validation, or that they’re even wanted there as anything more than a show of how “enlightened” the majority members are.

  65. 65
    Ben

    KK dude, will attempt to…a little later. Just off for some beers with the guys from my department. I’m going to raise this entire issue & see what feedback I get – in the UK there really isn’t much knowledge of these things. Will reply either later or tomorrow if I don’t think I’m in fit shape post drinks.

    Take care & have fun,
    Ben.

  66. 66
    John Phillips, FCD

    Ben, more UKians know about this than you think as many ftb and the other skeptic blogs’ readers and commenters are from the UK. As to trial, no it is not a trial, it is simply a warning to women who might have contact with him based on the probability that >95% of rape accusations are true and in this case backed up by other reports that confirm a pattern of negative behaviour by Shermer.

    For even if Shermer took no further action over this accusation the worst, going by the little or no actual long term damage that has happened to many other well known people actually found guilty of such offences, is that he won’t find it so easy to get laid at conferences, boo hoo, and he might possibly lose some speaking engagements.

    However, considering those now coming out of the woodwork to defend him based on what can only be considered hero worship of a prominent skeptic mixed in with the recent outpouring of sexism and misogyny in the atheoskeptic community, I am fairly sure that what he loses in terms of speaking engagements from some organisations will be made up by others from those who support.

  67. 67
    imnotandrei

    However I’m uncertain that this is best accomplished with specific and damaging allegations (as opposed to a more general expression of the thought.

    This is a legitimate question for discussion — given the hyperbole I have seen from the anti-PZ-Myers folks, I have seen no reason to suspect that a general expression of the thought would not have produced a similar “OMG, you’re accusing him of rape, because what else could you have meant?” It would have been less actionable, but also less effective as a warning — and quite possibly just as likely to produce outrage and uproar.

    ultimately people can make up their minds (no-one has the right to expect people to like them or react to them in a certain fashion).

    Indeed; people will do that with any accusation, whether mild, forceful, evidenced, or unevidenced. ;)

    The alternative would be to actually allege a crime has taken place in which case I refer you to my previous post about why we need to then substantiate those allegations and see the matter put to trail/inquiry.

    And as I said in reference to said earlier post, there are truth-claims outside of the realm of criminal law — in a circumstance in which there is an insufficiency of evidence to reach a conclusion either way to the appropriate standard. We’ve *chosen* to prioritize defense above prosecution in our execution of the standard, in the West, but that is only further limiting the ability of verdicts to represent truth.

    f you have ever tried formal logic, you know that under derivation based systems, it’s impossible to ‘prove’ many derivations as impossible – you can merely show that every/any attempt to make them work has failed.

    The problem is that, while, for example, the Continuum hypothesis’ truth or falsehood is not a matter of regular practical importance, the question “Do I trust person X”, while utterly beyond axiomatic formal systems, is one we have to answer on a regular basis.

    It occurs to me that part of the problem is this: if Shermer were tried for rape and found not guilty, then to many people’s eyes, including, in some forms, the law’s, that becomes an established fact, and to express the opposite is, indeed, “contrary to fact” and hence, subject to libel.

    By requiring all fact-claims but the most innocuous be subjected to the truth-determining system of law, you are drastically privileging those who are accused; and the privilege is greater as the likelihood of physical evidence, or the potential cloudiness of the crime, increases.

    At some point, regardless of the philosophical limitations of the position, we will find ourselves balancing probabilities, and that point either a) adjusting the legal system, b) abandoning the legal system, or c) constructing a method of communicating issues of truth outside said legal system.

    I presume we both agree that b) is bad. a) is something we can discuss how to do, but every discussion I’ve seen so far in this entire mishegas seems to take as graven-in-stone the notions of “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” and “innocent until proven guilty”, which means that a) isn’t going to get very far.

    Which means a lot of people, unsurprisingly, have chosen c); I fail to see why this is an invalid choice.

    This epistemology is probably the best we can hope for

    Why? If nothing else, the existence of “Not Proven” and the existence of non-classical logics suggests there’s far more out there than what we have now.

  68. 68
    imnotandrei

    In all this time I have never encountered anything of the situations you describe.

    Remember that bit about proving a negative?

    As a founder (and funder) of an organization, you are low on the list of people who might get such warnings, if they’re being handed out — precisely *because* of your position of relative power. From your first post on this subject, I would not have put you high on the list of people I would contact as an expected ally.

    Absence of evidence, as they say, is not evidence of absence. Part of what is causing such trauma here, and revealing such bitter division, is people going “Hey, wait, that wasn’t supposed to happen here!” and when presented with claims that it is, turning against the claimants to protect their image of their social environment.

    So; while I can admire the work you’re doing, I can’t presume your organization is clean. Of course, until I hear otherwise, I have no particular reason to believe it isn’t — but notice, please, that “until” phrase; it’s why the ability to speak out is so important.

  69. 69
    Skeptical Atheist

    For those wondering about the status of the Shermer lawsuit. I came across this.

    “People are asking me about this legal fund set up in my name, if I am aware of it, if it is legit, should they donate?, etc. For the record: I am aware of and completely support this legal fund and deeply appreciate Emery for setting it up and for the people who have donated thus far. I made it clear to Emery when he set it up that the money goes into an account that I have no access to, that my legal bills will be paid out of the fund directly to the law firm representing me, and that if there is any money left over after the case is finished that it be donated by Emery to a nonprofit organization of his choice. If anyone would like to email me directly for confirmation of the above, my email is [email protected], which is posted on our web page http://www.skeptic.com. My reputation is all I have. I did nothing wrong–legally or morally–and I intend to defend myself and prosecute Myers until he issues a retraction and apology, as stated by my attorney.”

    –Michael Shermer

  70. 70
    Steersman

    Might be a moot point who has or will have the greater number and stickier “legal troubles”, but my reading of some relevant articles is that that “Grenade” post of Myers’ qualifies as a per se case of libel (1):

    The four (4) categories of slander that are actionable per se are (i) accusing someone of a crime; (ii) alleging that someone has a foul or loathsome disease; (iii) adversely reflecting on a person’s fitness to conduct their business or trade; and (iv) imputing serious sexual misconduct. Here again, the plaintiff need only prove that someone had published the statement to any third party. No proof of special damages is required.

    Although there is a somewhat sticky question as to who is going to be obliged to prove the truth or falsity of that accusation. Those interested might wish to chew on this evaluation from the William & Mary Law review (2) of the relevant Supreme Court decision, a salient element of which is this statement from the latter:

    The second is that the plaintiff must establish the existence of a disprovable defamatory statement and must prove the falsity of that statement with convincing clarity.

    Athough that does seem to depend on the question of whether the plaintiff qualifies as a “public person” or not.

    I won’t be putting any money on any particular outcome, although while I readily support the general idea that communities have the right to protect themselves from predators of one sort or another, I might contribute to Shermer’s defense fund as I think the principle of “innocent until proven guilty” is potentially being abrogated.

    —-
    1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defamation#Defamation_per_se”;
    2) “_http://scholarship.law.wm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2220&context=wmlr”;

  71. 71
    Ashley F. Miller

    Where’d you see that?

  72. 72
    Steersman

    Posted on the fund-raiser page:
    http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/michael-shermer-legal-fund/x/3435749

  73. 73
    imnotandrei

    Posted on the indiegogo fundraiser, actually.

  74. 74
    imnotandrei

    And, as a result, he blew whatever chance he had left of regaining credibility with me. Because at this point, whether or not he’s done as was claimed, his actions *since* have demonstrated that I shouldn’t trust him.

    When your fundraiser makes a rape joke, and asserts that people are out to “do harm to the institutions” and “have set their sights on atheism”, and your response is to say you “completely support this legal fund” — well, it’s clear that you are not only aligning yourself with people defending you, but the people who think rape jokes are OK and Atheism+ is some massive blight on the face of atheism.

    And if you’re allied with them, you have lost all credibility in my eyes on these issues.

  75. 75
    throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble

    I won’t be putting any money on any particular outcome, although while I readily support the general idea that communities have the right to protect themselves from predators of one sort or another, I might contribute to Shermer’s defense fund as I think the principle of “innocent until proven guilty” is potentially being abrogated.

    And how do you propose you do the former of your statement without the latter? You’re only exemplifying your your muddled, biased thinking, that you would hold two mutually exclusive positions at once.

  76. 76
    Steersman

    Ashley said:

    Ah, so donating to this is not, in fact, an attempt to help Shermer get decent representation, but rather a way to condemn unnamed victims who come forward with their stories. Got it.

    Sorry, but, with all due respect, I really don’t think you got it at all. The following is what was said to which you had responded as above:

    A show of support will send the message that we as a community will no longer tolerate illogical attacks on people who do not condone nor support sexual harassment, sexual predation, or rape any more than we support defamation of our community members from anonymous allegations.

    That is to say, that for starters, in the view of that fund raiser, Shermer qualifies as someone who is being “illogically attacked” and who has neither “condoned nor supported sexual harassment, sexual predation, or rape”, and that there are, apparently or supposedly, other unnamed individuals in that group. Further, they are asserting that they do not support “defamation of our community members from anonymous allegations”. Yet you somehow managed to infer that all of that qualifies as “a way to condemn unnamed victims who come forward with their stories”.

    But I don’t see how the fund’s support for the use of libel law to defend against “anonymous allegations” in any way expressly or explicitly condemns, much less prevents, “unnamed victims coming forward with their stories”. Unless you wish to argue that if it weren’t for laws against murder and theft you would engage in both. But is there anything in that fund language that attempts to prevent those victims from taking their stories to the police? I don’t see any, and I expect that should this case come to trial Shermer will in fact be insisting that that woman do exactly that.

    But it seems to me that you and many others fail to realize that there is very narrow line between “coming forward with stories”, and actually making an accusation that is potentially or manifestly a case of per se libel – which tends to entail some fairly serious and onerous penalties. A line which was, arguably, crossed by that “Grenade” post.

  77. 77
    ianc

    Fuck. have you wandered into the wrong place

  78. 78
    Steersman

    imnotandrei said:

    And, as a result, he blew whatever chance he had left of regaining credibility with me.

    Well, I’m sure Shermer will be devastated to learn of that. Although I could see him using that assertion – which you might want consider requiring you to repeat it in a court of law – as proof of how Myers’ post has led to the damage to his reputation – i.e., providing support for his libel case.

    When your fundraiser makes a rape joke ….

    That’s some impressive reading between the lines as I don’t get that at all – where abouts did you get those glasses? Or your dictionary. For one thing, that fundraiser in no way makes any “rape joke” unless you have a rather “funny” definition for the act as it was only a reference to someone having their wine glass refilled after they had drunk something from it.

  79. 79
    throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble

    It seems like a rather logical allegation. Someone you trust and who is known mutually by others you trust comes forward with a story about rape by a person and names that person to you. That’s hardly an ‘illogical attack’, whatever the fuck that means I do know what it’s meant to be, a well-poisoning, whereby all claims made by anyone is immediately suspect depending on the source when you’ve happened to have a vested interest in marginalizing that source through repeated illogical arguments and photoshopping… HEY! WAIT A SECOND! Why isn’t there a defense fund for anyone associated with FTB to combat the illogical attacks coming from the Pitters???

  80. 80
    imnotandrei

    Steersman, may I introduce you to a concept that you may find useful? It’s called “context”.*

    To say Shermer qualifies as someone who does not “condone nor support sexual harassment, sexual predation, or rape” is to say that he is innocent — otherwise, he is quite clearly condoning his *own* sexual misbehavior, whichever of those buckets it falls in.

    So — to say that he is innocent is, logically, to say that at the *very* least, PZ Myers is lying, and more likely than not, that PZ Myers’ source is lying.

    I believe that accusing the “unnamed source” — and *please* go read the ridiculously large number of people who have explained the difference between “anonymous” and “unnamed” before making that conflation again — of lying, and of being part of a group that aims to “do harm to the institutions” qualifies, under most people’s standards, as “condemnation”.

    Hence, the latter part of that statement is true. As to the first part, you don’t address it — but it is clear that Shermer had already taken his actions *before* this fund existed, so it is not enabling him to do anything significant at this point — it is insulating him against actions he has already taken.

    Now, to proceed further:

    But I don’t see how the fund’s support for the use of libel law to defend against “anonymous allegations” in any way expressly or explicitly condemns, much less prevents, “unnamed victims coming forward with their stories”.

    Then, sir, you are blind. Because the argued use of libel law here ensures that either victims do not come forward, or they only come forward if they are willing to be identified after a libel suit is placed against the person presenting their claims.

    (Again — the conflation in that fund’s usage of “anonymous allegations” for “unnamed sources” is worthy of note — it is attempting to claim that the victims are unknown, and therefore face no risk of repercussion whatsoever. At the moment, the only thing standing between the source and the people on the Internet who would clearly love to take her to pieces** is PZ Myers’ unwillingness to give her up.)

    Unless you wish to argue that if it weren’t for laws against murder and theft you would engage in both.

    Tell me, Steersman, do you own a straw factory? How shall we approach this? Let me count the ways.

    1) I notice that in your examples, you have carefully placed the previous alleged victim (the anonymous source) in the role of killer/thief, while making the alleged perpetrator now the victim.
    2) You are clearly unfamiliar with the notion of a SLAPP suit — I recommend you take a look, and see the rationale behind it, as it will illuminate much of the ire against the way Shermer’s supporters are handling this.
    3) Ironically enough, for all the cries of “mob justice” that I have been hearing from the anti-Myers side, the funding of someone to sue someone into silence comes closer to mob justice than anything I have seen from the FtB set; it is saying “We put our money behind this attempt to shut people up.”
    4) I also find it ironic that you are using the classic attack against religious views of morality here, in a skeptical environment.

    Indeed, given the argument above, I find myself trying to connect your two statements here, apart from the errors in them both, and see what on earth coherent point you were trying to prove.

    But is there anything in that fund language that attempts to prevent those victims from taking their stories to the police? I don’t see any, and I expect that should this case come to trial Shermer will in fact be insisting that that woman do exactly that.

    More straw. As you would be aware, had you read any of this thread with an open mind (let alone the multitude of other comments on this subject) you are a) placing a huge burden of proof on the victim — and given your treatment here, I have no doubt that were she to fail to meet a “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard, you would treat that as evidence that Shermer had done *nothing* wrong. b) placing an enormous strain upon victims of sexual assault in general — “report or be damned”, which, given the state of policing and the legal environment, often means subjecting them to repeated trauma.

    There is nothing in that fund language that prevents them taking it to the police — that’s because the people who wrote it are well aware that if they do take it to the police, there’s a 90%+ chance that, even if something *did* happen that the perpetrator would not suffer for it. An insistence on a “Cops or nothing!” standard is, in our current environment (which is a vast improvement, mind you, over even a few years ago), taking the stance that rape victims are less important, by a huge margin, than any possible risk that someone might be falsely accused.

    accusation that is potentially or manifestly a case of per se libel – which tends to entail some fairly serious and onerous penalties.

    Only if one is convicted; and since, as far as I know, since I am only fascinated by the legal system, rather than being an actual lawyer, a public figure requires “actual malice” as the standard, I suspect a conviction is unlikely.
    Of course, by the time that happens, the original source may have had to come forward, which is part of what people pushing this standard want in the first place — the chance to make her suffer if she fails to meet their own personal standards of evidence.

    A line which was, arguably, crossed by that “Grenade” post.

    Perhaps it was; but I would rather risk that line being crossed than risk an unknown number of people being raped. Admittedly, as a sexual assault victim, it’s easy for me to empathize with the potential victims, but I would hope I would have the courage to stand with them regardless.

    * And yes, Steersman, I’m being condescending. That’s because I’ve seen you peddling the same faux-reasonable business all over the place, and am tired of it.
    ** Before you argue this, I recommend looking at the amount of flak Rebecca Watson got for saying “Don’t do this” and telling a story about an elevator, and the ongoing campaigns of harassment employed by various anti-FtB folks. If you don’t see them, I can only recommend rebooting your computer, buying new glasses, and trying to remove the log from your eye.

  81. 81
    imnotandrei

    Although I could see him using that assertion – which you might want consider requiring you to repeat it in a court of law – as proof of how Myers’ post has led to the damage to his reputation – i.e., providing support for his libel case.

    If so, he has idiots for lawyers, and they have an idiot for a client.

    In the bits you edited out — funny that, as it speaks to your honesty — I explicitly said, and will repeat, that the “result” came from his actions *since* the post. For which guess who is responsible? Michael Shermer.

    As for the rest — see my comment below responding to you about “context”. The bit about the repeatedly filled wine class is a joke about the claims that “Oh, you mean that could be rape?” that rape-denialists have been throwing around, and is what in the trade they call a dogwhistle.

    Which, I’m sure, you’re entirely aware of, and are pretending to ignorance as part of your shtick.

    Quick test: “Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the show?” — assassination joke, or no?

  82. 82
    imnotandrei

    Why isn’t there a defense fund for anyone associated with FTB to combat the illogical attacks coming from the Pitters???

    Well, first, we tend to actually value free speech, as opposed to using it as cover for harassment, so have a much higher bar for what we’d actually sue over.

    Two, I believe one of the people at Popehat has set up PZ with legal representation. And given the fact that he’s shut up on the subject, while Shermer seems intent on running his mouth, I know which representation I’d bet on. ;)

    Lastly, I suspect that if one did go up, judging from the number of people who came forward during the various threads, we would hit much more than 30 funders in 24-48 hours.

  83. 83
    imnotandrei

    which you might want consider requiring you to repeat it in a court of law –

    Ungrammatical as this is, I suspect it’s a threat of “oooh, scary, you might have to testify”.

    Again, I refer you to the notion of a SLAPP suit, and consider your ethical position.

    And, so long as Shermer paid, I’d have no problem testifying to the way my opinion of him has changed throughout the course of this entire mishegas. And I do not think my answers would harm PZ Myers in any way, shape, or form.

  84. 84
    Steersman

    They might actually qualify as “mutually exclusive positions” IF it were true that Shermer himself actually qualifies as a predator – and that in a rather strict and illegal fashion or manner. But that, as I see it, is precisely what is in dispute and likely to be central to any case that comes to trial. Whereas you seem to be working on the assumption – unproven – that that accusation is in fact true, that you are in fact acting as if he is guilty of that charge, i.e., that he is, in your mind and those of many others, guilty even though he has yet to be proven so.

    Which is, as I said, a case of a very important principle being abrogated, potentially at least.

    But, as I mentioned elsewhere, it seems to me that you and many others seem to be working on that assumption of guilt even though there is no proof of the charge of rape might well qualify as proof that Myers’ post has seriously damaged Shermer’s reputation.

  85. 85
    Ashley F. Miller

    I don’t think it’s really rape advocacy, as much as it squicks me out as an attempt at humor, and I think it would probably be a mistake to try to get Indiegogo to take it down. If this is what they want to do and how they want to express it… I’m happy to judge them for it, but I’m not going to tell them not to do it.

  86. 86
    Steersman

    throwaway, gut-punched said:

    It seems like a rather logical allegation. Someone you trust and who is known mutually by others you trust comes forward with a story about rape by a person and names that person to you. That’s hardly an ‘illogical attack’ ….

    While the definition of “logical” might be somewhat open to debate, I would tend to the view that making unsupported accusations of criminal wrong-doing which leaves one open to charges of libel qualifies as “not particularly wise”.

    However that wasn’t the point of Ashley’s claim or the one I was criticizing. It was her assertion that that fund raiser was a “way to condemn unnamed victims who come forward with their stories”. Which I still don’t think holds much if any water.

    … I do know what it’s meant to be, a well-poisoning, whereby all claims made by anyone is immediately suspect depending on the source ….

    You mean, kind of like the “well-poisoning” that the justice system manifests in its presumption of innocence of all (or almost all) defendants, in its assumption that the charges and those they are coming from are “suspect”?

    Why isn’t there a defense fund for anyone associated with FTB to combat the illogical attacks coming from the Pitters???

    Well if you can find a lawyer who would take your case that “the illogical attacks coming from the Pitters” qualify as libel then go big, fill your boots. But I won’t hold my breath waiting for you to line one up.

    The point is that the accusations from Myers and company do give some indication of qualifying as “libel, per se”.

  87. 87
    imnotandrei

    I would tend to the view that making unsupported accusations of criminal wrong-doing which leaves one open to charges of libel qualifies as “not particularly wise”.

    1) Any particular reason you put “not particularly wise” in quotes? That makes it look like it was part of your original claim, which it wasn’t. Indeed, no one on this thread has put it that way.

    2) I would agree with you, however; that would be unwise. Of course, PZ Myers had a statement from someone who a person he trusted, trusted, and later (around the time Shermer’s letter hit) had had several corroborating statements, whether to the specific accusation or the more general warning. So this point is rather irrelevant.

    You mean, kind of like the “well-poisoning” that the justice system manifests in its presumption of innocence of all (or almost all) defendants, in its assumption that the charges and those they are coming from are “suspect”?

    No, the kind of well-poisoning that comes from the paragraph before the one cited, that seeks to attribute malice to PZ Myers et. al.

    Well if you can find a lawyer who would take your case that “the illogical attacks coming from the Pitters” qualify as libel then go big, fill your boots.

    Actually, I think they’d much more likely qualify as “harassment” than “libel”, since among other things, no one in their right mind would believe a lot of what the Pit tosses around; calling someone bad names over and over and over(2(2(2(2)))) again doesn’t count as libel. It’s harassment. Of course, that’s a lot easier to do anonymously, and a lot harder to prove damages from.

    Which doesn’t make the damages not real, of course — indeed, I would venture that there are several people around FtB and Skepchicks who have suffered far more for what they’ve said — that was completely and clearly legal — than anything Shermer is likely to suffer from this, unless he shoots him*self* in the foot.

  88. 88
    Me

    Hi. I have never commented on this particular blog before but I wanted to say that “I think it would probably be a mistake to try to get Indiegogo to take it down” makes me sad. It makes me sad that it’s an unpopular opinion among many of the people who claim they are fighting for justice and equality. I am a lurker. I don’t comment often, but I see a lot of people wanting to shut down those who disagree with them. It’s downright gleeful in some comments. The mocking of “freeze peach” is something i find very troubling too. Freedom of speech is something from which we all benefit, and I can never support a group of people who would willingly take it away from others no matter how objectionable the speech. That said, if there’s a death or rape threat, or actual harassment, then yes by all means pursue that. People should be held accountable for threatening the well-being of others. But reporting a rape joke on a somewhat incendiary indiego campaign? That’s an easy answer: no way. Like you said, you are free to judge them based on their poor taste, but it is absolutely their right to express that poor taste.

    Thanks.

  89. 89
    Ashley F. Miller

    I think the freeze peach comes from people who think they have a right to say whatever they want in someone else’s space. If someone comes onto my blog, I can delete what they wrote without it being a violation of free speech. I am not obligated to provide a platform. When someone rails that moderating comments or blocking someone on Twitter is a violation of free speech, that’s what earns the “freeze peach” mocking. Your right to express your opinion doesn’t override my right to ignore it.

    If that was clearly in violation of Indiegogo’s terms, then Indiegogo has the right to take it down, and if you’ve spotted a clear violation, report it. But to try to find reasons to get it taken down when your real problem is the opinion expressed seems petty to me.

  90. 90
    Me

    Oh I get that. I agree that sometimes it’s used in an ignorant way, as if people think they have the right to say anything anywhere, but I was saying that I often see that sentiment of “report all the things!” coming from people who say they’re fighting for equality. I want to support people, I do, but I have a hard time supporting people who want to silence critics (I agree that your own personal blog is your own to do with as you wish, but I mean people reporting things on other sites). When I express opinions along those lines, I get accused of being a rape apologist or a racist or [insert other awful label here]. That is something that is really hard to deal with! It makes me just withdraw and mostly watch from the sidelines, and I want to do more but I don’t like getting caught up in the in-fighting. Thanks for letting me vent a little.

  91. 91
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    Me:

    Talking to a company about a possible violation of their TOS (or unwritten ethical principles) is also free speech. The company is also free to respond in many ways. Everyone is free to say what they think, and free to criticize and call attention to things that they think are wrong.

    I’m not sure you understand “freeze peach”, which is a mockery of the lowest common denominator of using “free speech” as an excuse for being an asshole then complaining when people point out the assholery being done as if this infringes on their freedom of speech, as if they are somehow being denied rights and being silenced. Also, freedom of speech, as a codified right, is with respect to the government, and irrelevant in such cases. As an ethical right, freedom of speech does not mean that the freedom of speech of others is curtailed with respect to responding to free speech. In private venues, regardless as to how open to the public they are, the proprietor may exercise their freedom to remove someone they feel is shitting on their rug, whether they notice it themselves or someone else pointed it out to them.

  92. 92
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    Nice quip! How clever. How inaccurate.

  93. 93
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    “innocent until proven guilty”

    Oh right, right, because criminal charges have been filed against Shermer. Oh, wait…

  94. 94
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    It should be taken by the person choosing to talk about it wherever they damn well please.

    Oh my god, you’re damaging Andrew Wakefield’s career! You’re hurting the Catholic Church without due process! You’re maligning the legacy of G. W. Bush!

  95. 95
    Steersman

    imnotandrei said (#25.2):

    To say Shermer qualifies as someone who does not “condone nor support sexual harassment, sexual predation, or rape” is to say that he is innocent — otherwise, he is quite clearly condoning his *own* sexual misbehavior, whichever of those buckets it falls in.

    Yes, well that is the nature of the legal system if I’m not mistaken: the prosecution insists that the defendant is guilty, and defense insists they are innocent, and the jury gets to decide which side has the more credible evidence and case.

    But you can’t very well say that Shermer actually qualifies as someone who “condones or supports sexual harassment, predation, or rape” until after a court of law has decided the issue. Doing so before then leaves one open to a charge of libel. If Myers and company wish to do that, then that is likely to be on their heads.

    …. *please* go read the ridiculously large number of people who have explained the difference between “anonymous” and “unnamed” ….

    I think that is largely a red herring. Whether they are “anonymous” or “unnamed” there is still an accusation of criminal wrong-doing by them through Myers on the table that will probably have to be dealt with in a court of law.

    I believe that accusing the “unnamed source” … of lying, and of being part of a group that aims to “do harm to the institutions” qualifies, under most people’s standards, as “condemnation”.

    Apart from suggesting that that “Grenade” post accusation – and no small amount of subsequent commentary in support of it – looks pretty much like a “condemnation” of Shermer, and in no uncertain terms, “rape” being somewhat more odious than “lying”, I wonder what evidence you have of anyone claiming that that “unnamed” source was lying. If you were actually to take a look in the Pit – you know, “due diligence” – I think you would find most people there are of the opinion that the truthfulness of the woman’s story is very much of an open question, dependent to some extent on issues of consent and how that is affected by various stages of inebriation. And Al Stefanelli’s post (1) was pretty much of the same opinion.

    As for “doing harm to institutions”, one might reasonably argue that making unsubstantiated accusations of criminal wrong-doing isn’t likely to improve the atmosphere of various atheist-skeptic conventions and other organizational meetings – likely to make them rather frosty as a matter of fact. In addition, such actions tend to escalate into other cases, and then get out of rather quickly. Nor do I think that allowing the legal system to permit such potentially libelous actions to stand is likely to be of much benefit to that system itself – something we all rely on to keep the barbarians outside the gates.

    Then, sir, you are blind. Because the argued use of libel law here ensures that either victims do not come forward, or they only come forward if they are willing to be identified ….

    Yea, well you might want to take that up with the entire legal profession as my impression is that being able to confront one’s accusers is rather fundamental to Western jurisprudence – a principle that goes back to Biblical times if memory serves.

    1) I notice that in your examples, you have carefully placed the previous alleged victim (the anonymous source) in the role of killer/thief, while making the alleged perpetrator now the victim.

    It was an analogy (2) – you might wish to pay close attention to the elements of such; it was an assertion of and comparison between similar aspects, primarily the illegality of various actions. If it is illegal to commit murder and mayhem then why shouldn’t it be illegal to defame other people? There are laws on the books against the latter, you know (3). And if that holds then of course Shermer becomes the victim and is due compensation.

    … you are a) placing a huge burden of proof on the victim … b) placing an enormous strain upon victims of sexual assault in general — “report or be damned”, which, given the state of policing and the legal environment, often means subjecting them to repeated trauma.

    I am truly sorry that there is some truth to that characterization, that more than a few victims are denied justice; it is truly a gut-wrenching problem with no easy solutions. However, I think there is a very problematic tendency to want to give more weight to the testimony of those victims than is always justified. Personally, I think there’s some justification for arguing that assuming that the supposed victim is always right would very likely be a cure very much worse than the disease. Even if that might not be true in any given case.

    … a public figure requires “actual malice” as the standard, I suspect a conviction is unlikely ….

    A moot point, I think. Seems there is some inherent conflict or contradictions in the various laws applicable, for instance in the case of “defamation per se” (3). But that’s a guess as all of the sources I’ve run across are a little ambiguous on the point, and require more legal knowledge than I have to interpret correctly.

    Perhaps it was; but I would rather risk that line being crossed than risk an unknown number of people being raped.

    “Better that 10 innocent men go to jail – for 5 to 10 years – than that one guilty one go free”? Got it.

    * And yes, Steersman, I’m being condescending. That’s because I’ve seen you peddling the same faux-reasonable business all over the place, and am tired of it.

    I’m devastated, triggered into my recurring PTSD; expect to see a bill from my lawyers for my additional therapy to correct that sad state of affairs ….

    But maybe you consider that “business” of mine to be “faux-reasonable” because you don’t want to admit that there might be some justification for the arguments I’ve made. I certainly don’t recollect you making any counter-arguments – maybe you didn’t have one?

    —–
    1) “_http://alstefanelli.com/2013/08/i-got-your-grenade-right-here/”;
    2) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analogies#Identity_of_relation”;
    3) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defamation_per_se#Defamation_per_se”

  96. 96
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    Says who? And by “who” I mean “what authority”. There are very few crimes which victims are legally required to report. No one has produced a valid argument for why a victim should be ethically required to report. Y’all just keep making that claim. Where’s the evidence? Why should I take your “anonymous” word on that?

    So, why. do you believe that the only way to handle this is to report it to law enforcement? And do you understand, at minimum, what police do with reports of crimes for which there can be little physical evidence, even in the best circumstances where they treat the victim i a humane, even supportive manner?

    And what happens to the people who do report such crimes and the police are variously dismissive, abusive, and threatening, even where there is some pretty good physical evidence? If they can’t even get to court, then they have to shut up about it and pretend it never happened? And even if an alleged rapist does get prosecuted, the victim can’t talk about it until the trial is over? And if the rapist is not found guilty beyond reasonable doubt, the victim can’t talk about it then, either?

    You know, seems like the suckage of being a victim of rape knows no bounds. And too bad for everyone else out there who can’t have a warning that they can decide to take into some consideration or ignore.

    Look, if you’re a True Skeptic™, why would you even worry about Shermer’s reputation among small groups of people who so uncritically believe these False Claims of Rape® and clearly are not True Skeptics™, and thus not a part of Shermer’s customer base? I mean, that just weeds all of us vicious drama mongers and hive-mind followers out of your True Skeptospace, right?

  97. 97
    Steersman

    You might want to actually read some of the links I’ve provided in this thread before running your mouth off at the chin, notably the one on defamation per se (1). The point is that the accusation from Myers and company of criminal wrong-doing on the part of Shermer – the accusation of rape – seems to qualify as that defamation per se. The nature of which (2), depending on a number of circumstances which are not at all clear, might well require Shermer to prove that he is innocent if he wishes to substantiate the charge of libel against Myers – in other words, the court assumes Shermer to be guilty until he manages to prove his innocence.

    —–
    1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defamation_per_se#Defamation_per_se”;
    2) “_http://scholarship.law.wm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2220&context=wmlr”;

  98. 98
    Steersman

    imnotandrei said (#25.1.2.1):

    1) Any particular reason you put “not particularly wise” in quotes?

    Just to emphasize its similarity with “illogical attack” which was the point in question.

    PZ Myers had a statement from someone who a person he trusted, trusted, and later … had had several corroborating statements …. So this point is rather irrelevant.

    Don’t think so. He could have had a thousand “corroborating statements” and if every one of them was a lie or couldn’t be proven then I would say they would mean diddly-squat relative to the question of having issued and published a libelous statement. You and many others seem to think that all of this is just a matter of opinion. But my impression, based on an admittedly limited understanding of the law, is that it ceased to be that once there was an accusation of criminal wrong-doing on the table – which makes it one of defamation per se (1).

    No, the kind of well-poisoning that comes from the paragraph before the one cited, that seeks to attribute malice to PZ Myers et. al.

    I don’t think that was the intent of “throwaway’s” argument, to wit:

    … I do know what it’s meant to be, a well-poisoning, whereby all claims made by anyone is immediately suspect depending on the source when you’ve happened to have a vested interest in marginalizing that source through repeated illogical arguments and photoshopping

    As that statement looked like a bit of a non sequitur – it didn’t really follow all that well from the previous one – I took the “well-poisoning” to mean the supposedly nefarious “illogical arguments and photoshopping” that had supposedly originated in “The (evil) PIT!!!!11s!!” whose sole purpose was to discredit and “marginalize” “that source” – presumably the “unnamed” person making that accusation of rape.

    Maybe many victims of rape get more of a rough ride from the justice system than is really appropriate. But my point was that that is the nature of that system, to presume the innocence of the defendant, to suspect the claims of the prosecution. You think you have a better system then be sure to let everyone know the details.

    … I would venture that there are several people around FtB and Skepchicks who have suffered far more for what they’ve said … than anything Shermer is likely to suffer from this ….

    An impressive display of empathy. You might want to consider how you would feel if someone were to make a credible accusation that you were guilty of some rather egregious crime – having been caught with your fingers in the till at work, or of running a bawdy house, for examples – that you would find very difficult to disprove, and that would seriously impact your friendships and chances of employment.

    —-
    1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defamation_per_se#Defamation_per_se”;

  99. 99
    R Johnston

    Stripped of context it may just be a bad rape joke, but in context it certainly is rape advocacy. It’s saying that the fundraisers believe that that’s what Shermer did and that they believe there’s nothing wrong with it.

  100. 100
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    in such a manner as leaves them no ability to defend themselves

    Wrong. They can defend themselves in the same manner. They can even defend themselves by making the “don’t believe anonymous claims” argument.

    What abilities to defend themselves should victims of sexual assault and harassment have? Is being assaulted in private OK, but speaking about being assaulted in public not OK? How problematic do you think that is? And how long does one need to consider the problem, given its problematicity index score, before one is allowed to decide to take one action (writing about it, posting it in a blog, whatever) as opposed to another (shut up about it)? Is waiting several years and hearing accounts similar to your own long enough? Is wrestling with the problem of publishing the account for some hours or days long enough? Because it never seems long enough for some people. But not everyone is going to be paralyzed into silence or inaction because something is problematic. Not everyone is going to shut up because they don’t have the top ten most damning items of forensic evidence for harassment or rape.

    I also wonder whether some of you understand that one of the problematic things for victims is that maybe they don’t want to see the person who assaulted them to be found guilty of rape in court, to possibly go to prison, to have a sexual assault record? That they want that person to stop, and even hope that person comes to see the harm of their actions? That they don’t want others to fall victim to something that they found out was a pattern of behavior and not a one-time horrendous lapse of conscience, of empathy, of awareness? Do you understand how problematic it is for the victim when filing assault charges, even when the system is supportive (which it frequently is not)? Even for rape reports resulting in a conviction, victims frequently suffer damage to their reputation and harassment, since the more lovely bits of our cultures attach social stigma to being a victim of rape.

    Yeah. It’s all problematic.

  101. 101
    hjhornbeck

    But you can’t very well say that Shermer actually qualifies as someone who “condones or supports sexual harassment, predation, or rape” until after a court of law has decided the issue.

    No, I don’t think so. The legal defense fund condones sexual predation by making light of a common tactic for date rape:

    For $5000 you will receive a night of drinking wine with Emery Emery who will not be drinking but keeping your glass full.

    And Shermer is “aware of and completely [in] support [of] this legal fund.” Ergo, he is condoning sexual predation.

    I think that is largely a red herring. Whether they are “anonymous” or “unnamed” there is still an accusation of criminal wrong-doing by them

    There’s a key difference, in this context: an anonymous person can provide no independent verification other than their own words. An unnamed person is anonymous to us, but not to the person they talked to; this means the middle-person can fact-check the claims, based on information shared only by them and the unnamed individual, and convince themselves of the validity of the claim. They can then stake their public reputation on that private fact-checking, without forcing their informant to publicly reveal themselves.

    through Myers

    Everyone seems to forget Dallas J. Haugh, who is a named accuser. Brian Thompson appears to have made accusations independent of Myers, too, which means we have multiple independent accounts, one of which has gone public.

    on the table that will probably have to be dealt with in a court of law.

    Why, exactly? Isn’t it good enough to warn potential victims?

    Apart from suggesting that that “Grenade” post accusation – and no small amount of subsequent commentary in support of it – looks pretty much like a “condemnation” of Shermer, and in no uncertain terms, “rape” being somewhat more odious than “lying”, I wonder what evidence you have of anyone claiming that that “unnamed” source was lying.

    You might want to talk to your buddy Reap Paden:

    I know for a fact that Myers has the capacity to lie. He has done it over and over again. When someone has for years made it a regular routine to trash someone’s character they loose any trust and even if this is the one instance that PZ turns out to be telling the truth it will be a result of pure chance.

    Paden is arguing Myers is lying about the entire thing. There was no victim, according to Paden, which is the same as saying someone is lying about being a victim.

    Al Stefanelli’s post was pretty much of the same opinion.

    Really? Sounds like Stefanelli agrees with Paden:

    In true supermarket tabloid form, he then attempts to abdicate any responsibility or sense of accountability for what he is about to do, by making sure to tell everyone that the bombshell he is about to drop comes from the victim, herself. Or, as he puts it, ‘straight from the victim’s mouth.’

    He doesn’t come out and explicitly say there is no victim, because that would make him explicitly erasing the victim, he just leaves the implication hanging in the air and hopes everyone will pick up on the hidden meaning, like someone deploying a racist dog-whistle.

    As for “doing harm to institutions”, one might reasonably argue that making unsubstantiated accusations of criminal wrong-doing isn’t likely to improve the atmosphere of various atheist-skeptic conventions and other organizational meetings – likely to make them rather frosty as a matter of fact.

    I’d gladly accept “frosty” if it meant fewer people were harassed, assaulted, or raped. Wouldn’t you?

    Yea, well you might want to take that up with the entire legal profession as my impression is that being able to confront one’s accusers is rather fundamental to Western jurisprudence

    That only applies to criminal cases; in all others, where the penalties are less, there is no requirement to face an accuser. You might also want to look up “forfeiture by wrongdoing;” if the defendant attempts to silence the witness, even in a criminal case, they forfeit the right to confront their accuser. As the first woman feared being silenced or coming to harm by Shermer, this exception could apply.

    A moot point, I think. Seems there is some inherent conflict or contradictions in the various laws applicable, for instance in the case of “defamation per se”. But that’s a guess as all of the sources I’ve run across are a little ambiguous on the point, and require more legal knowledge than I have to interpret correctly.

    Here’s an actual lawyer, with a decade of experience in the courtroom, arguing against defamation per se. Might be worth a read (though I’ll have to concede he hasn’t worked on a libel case).

    “Better that 10 innocent men go to jail – for 5 to 10 years – than that one guilty one go free”? Got it.

    No you don’t, it’s more like “better to tarnish the reputation of an innocent man, than risk allowing a sexual predator to wreak havok in our community without opposition.”

  102. 102
    Stephanie N.

    Yes, well that is the nature of the legal system if I’m not mistaken: the prosecution insists that the defendant is guilty, and defense insists they are innocent, and the jury gets to decide which side has the more credible evidence and case.

    And in case you hadn’t noticed, repeatedly in this whole discussion the question of “legal” vs. “extra-legal” truth-determination methods have come up. So blithely going “Oh, this is how the legal system works” here is ignoring a whole bunch of previous discussion — but I’ve noticed you’re good at that.

    But you can’t very well say that Shermer actually qualifies as someone who “condones or supports sexual harassment, predation, or rape” until after a court of law has decided the issue. Doing so before then leaves one open to a charge of libel. If Myers and company wish to do that, then that is likely to be on their heads.

    You see, one of the things that people don’t seem to get is that Myers *knew* he was taking that risk; and felt it was worthwhile to get the word out.

    And, indeed, in criminal law one is “innocent until proven guilty” — but last time I checked, “condoning sexual harassment” wasn’t actually a crime (whether or not it should be) — so saying “Based on what I’ve heard, Michael Shermer appears to condone some sexual misbehavior” isn’t even “libel per se”. ;) And also doesn’t fall under the same standards of proof.

    So, one can say it, with just as much validity as one can say that he doesn’t, at this point. It’s indeterminate.

    …. *please* go read the ridiculously large number of people who have explained the difference between “anonymous” and “unnamed” ….

    I think that is largely a red herring. Whether they are “anonymous” or “unnamed” there is still an accusation of criminal wrong-doing by them through Myers on the table that will probably have to be dealt with in a court of law.

    You see, I’d be much more inclined to believe that it was a red herring if it weren’t for the fact that over, and over, and over again, people who are opposed to what Myers has done make a point of it being “anonymous”. Because that carries with it the idea that *no one* knows who was saying it — it could be anyone at all. While “unnamed” implies there’s someone there, whose name *you* don’t know, but whose name is known.

    It’s why all the people in the many and varied comment threads who drive by with a pseudonym and go “Hey, I heard Person X is into raping dead underaged goats” and think it’s some kind of telling point (Like the guy who did that on Al Stefanelli’s thread to someone whose name he didn’t even know) are completely missing the point; they’re throwing out accusations and putting nothing, not even a name, behind them for credibility.

    Apart from suggesting that that “Grenade” post accusation – and no small amount of subsequent commentary in support of it – looks pretty much like a “condemnation” of Shermer,

    Speaking of red herrings — when did anyone apply the term to Shermer?

    and in no uncertain terms, “rape” being somewhat more odious than “lying”, I wonder what evidence you have of anyone claiming that that “unnamed” source was lying.

    Well, let’s see — everyone who believes Shermer is innocent either has to assert that a) PZ Myers made up his source, b) his source was lying, or c) they can construct some scenario in which she isn’t lying, just “mistaken”.

    If you were actually to take a look in the Pit – you know, “due diligence”

    Actually, I had already read the post you cite below, on alstefanelli.com, along with several posts linked from there. I don’t need to go visit the Pit per se, unless you’re claiming that is the authoritative source ;)

    I think you would find most people there are of the opinion that the truthfulness of the woman’s story is very much of an open question, dependent to some extent on issues of consent and how that is affected by various stages of inebriation. And Al Stefanelli’s post (1) was pretty much of the same opinion.

    His post was. His commentariat certainly wasn’t — many of them refused to even accept her existence. (Which is a rather extreme form of disbelief.)

    Furthermore, you’re hiding the real damage here: “dependent to some extent on issues of consent and how that is affected by various stages of inebriation” — I read that thread, and it was full of “Oh, wait, if he was drinking, what if they raped each other” and “Of course if she regretted it, she said she was raped later”. People in that thread were seeking every excuse they could find for Shermer, so that even if they believed he had engaged in sexual activity, he certainly hadn’t done anything *wrong*.

    To people in that mindset (let alone the outright disbelief that showed up on the Prussian’s thread, out of SkepticInk), nothing would have convinced them that *he* had raped *her*. Indeed, it became rapid “common knowledge” — out of thin air — that if he were involved, he must have been drinking too. Made up out of whole cloth, but taken as true.

    As for “doing harm to institutions”, one might reasonably argue that making unsubstantiated accusations

    And here we see, again, the reason why it’s important to draw the distinction between “anonymous” and “unnamed”, among other things. You, as with most people opposing this statement, appear to want to draw a bright line of “Conviction or nothing” — because there is evidence to support the accusations — numerous people coming out and saying, in some cases, “I saw that behavior” while in others it’s “I was warned about that years ago.”

    It’s not substantiation of that specific claim beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s more than enough to start going “Hey, something is definitely going on here.”

    of criminal wrong-doing isn’t likely to improve the atmosphere of various atheist-skeptic conventions and other organizational meetings – likely to make them rather frosty as a matter of fact.

    Funny — a lot of people have found them most unfriendly already; of course, many of them were women, and when they tried to object, got told that their concerns weren’t part of the movement, or they were prudes, or they were professional victims, or all that.

    If some frosty organizational meetings is the price for women in the community to be well-treated, that’s certainly a price I’m willing to pay. Joie de vivre and comradeship is common at the Old Boys’ Club — that doesn’t make it right.

    So, if “OMG, it’s not as cheerful as it used to be before it was revealed we had a problem!” is “doing harm to an institution”, that’s an awfully fragile institution in the first place, and perhaps it needed some work done.

    In addition, such actions tend to escalate into other cases, and then get out of rather quickly. Nor do I think that allowing the legal system to permit such potentially libelous actions to stand is likely to be of much benefit to that system itself – something we all rely on to keep the barbarians outside the gates.

    I have rarely seen a better example of privileged thought codified quite so clearly. The legal system can’t even allow “potentially libelous” actions — I thought you were a firm believer in “innocent until proven guilty”, no? — without risking catastrophe, and the unnamed barbarians coming in. Who, in this metaphor of yours, are the barbarians preparing to storm the gates so bravely guarded by libel law?

    Because what this says to me, and what it says to anyone not already on the inside, is “Unless you leave us be, and don’t even think about bringing up things that *might* be libellous, terrible things will happen.” Of course, those terrible things might be “Some of you people get to be on the inside, too.”

    Yea, well you might want to take that up with the entire legal profession as my impression is that being able to confront one’s accusers is rather fundamental to Western jurisprudence – a principle that goes back to Biblical times if memory serves.

    Now, you see, here’s a funny thing; to quote from something not quite from biblical times, “Cui bono?” — who benefits from that. When it’s the State preparing to use its power, then the accused benefits from limitations on state power. When it’s people in power who are the accused, then the people in power benefit from being able to see who is standing up against them.

    Did you bother to look up SLAPP, as I repeatedly asked, or do I need to provide you with a wikipedia link?

    Were this a criminal proceeding, and Shermer’s liberty at stake, I would approve of him being able to confront his accuser. (Though, it is worth noting, even there rape shield laws would prevent many of *us* from ever doing so, despite the repeated cries of “I need to know all the evidence so I can judge” you hear in comments sections, these days.)

    Indeed, unless PZ Myers can establish his defense without naming her, Shermer will get his right, by following through with his lawsuit (if he does).

    It was an analogy (2) – you might wish to pay close attention to the elements of such; it was an assertion of and comparison between similar aspects, primarily the illegality of various actions.

    I am aware of the fact that it was an analogy — my contention was that it was a *terrible* one.

    If it is illegal to commit murder and mayhem then why shouldn’t it be illegal to defame other people?

    Interestingly enough, most legal reasoning I’ve run across tends to argue from the lesser to the greater — “If this is illegal, then how much more wrong is this other thing?”

    There are laws on the books against the latter, you know (3). And if that holds then of course Shermer becomes the victim and is due compensation.

    *If* Myers is guilty. But this is entirely beside the original point I was making — which was that you were straining to construct a system which put Shermer in the role of victim, and then accusing people who do not support that (unproven, and, indeed, less-evidenced) position of only restraining from murder because of the law.

    Indeed, one could make an easy case for libel not being criminal while murder was, if one chose to not view “reputation” as something of sufficient tangible value (and, indeed, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Paul v. Davis found that “reputation” alone was not a protected interest from state action under the 14th amendment. Now, I personally find that a lousy ruling, but that was, at least at one point, the law of the land.

    So, by posing a question related to small damage by extrapolating it to the most heinous of crimes, and then accusing those who disagree with you of being restrained only by law from them — yeah, I’d call that a pretty lousy bit of analogy there.

    … you are a) placing a huge burden of proof on the victim … b) placing an enormous strain upon victims of sexual assault in general — “report or be damned”, which, given the state of policing and the legal environment, often means subjecting them to repeated trauma.

    I am truly sorry that there is some truth to that characterization, that more than a few victims are denied justice; it is truly a gut-wrenching problem with no easy solutions..

    You know what? I’d be delighted if I ever saw someone even start to work *towards* solutions, rather than either wringing their hands and going “It’s hard…” or ignoring the problem altogether. It’s part of what makes me dubious that some people actually want to find a solution.

    However, I think there is a very problematic tendency to want to give more weight to the testimony of those victims than is always justified.

    More or less any time you insert the word “always” into a statement about people or the law, the answer is “No.”, it’s true. But let’s take a *slightly* weaker version of that statement: Do you believe that people want to give more weight to victims most of the time?

    And if so, how do you reconcile this with the abysmal reporting rates, conviction rates, and repeated commentaries by victims of the trauma they were put through in reporting?

    Personally, I think there’s some justification for arguing that assuming that the supposed victim is always right would very likely be a cure very much worse than the disease. Even if that might not be true in any given case.

    Again, vague statements signifying very little. Let us weigh the likelihood that a given victim is right vs. the likely damage done, given that all of this is happening *outside a courtroom*.

    The percentage of false reports is at around the same level as the conviction rate; even if we added all the false reports to the rape figures, we are looking at 90% of rape cases that do not result in conviction.

    Now factor in the fact that “false reports”, as we have seen from evidence in various threads, include reports dropped under police pressure, etc., and the figures look even worse.

    Add to that the fact that in, for example, this case, the stakes for the person being accused are — loss of some reputation, perhaps a loss of some amount of money, vs., well, something that I think *most* people would agree is one of the more serious assaults one can suffer while remaining alive….

    …and I’m having a hard time making those figures add up to “cure worse than the disease”, especially when you consider that false reporting is, in many jurisdictions, *also* a crime.

    … a public figure requires “actual malice” as the standard, I suspect a conviction is unlikely ….

    A moot point, I think

    Nompe. Your Wikipedia citation addresses “defamation per se”, which has to do with the need to prove *damages* — in defamation per se, there is no need to do so.

    However, public figures are still covered under Times vs. Sullivan, which has to do with standards of proof, rather than determining damages. I am not a lawyer either, but I think anyone going to the link you provided and scrolling back two paragraphs will be able to see to what I am referring, and make their own judgment.

    Perhaps it was; but I would rather risk that line being crossed than risk an unknown number of people being raped.

    “Better that 10 innocent men go to jail – for 5 to 10 years – than that one guilty one go free”? Got it.

    As I said in the last article, you must own a straw-man factory.

    In the most uncharitable form, looking at the figures above, and remembering the actual facts before us — that Myers’ source wished to issue a warning, not press charges, etc., we are looking at:

    “Better 1 innocent man suffer some loss to reputation than 90 women be raped.”

    And while I hate to see innocents suffer, even Blackstone, who cited a 10-to-1 ratio as being acceptable, might blanch at 90-1.

    And that’s not even factoring in the possibility that, like Jason Thibeault, the falsely accused man might be able to prove his innocence — if I was accused of raping someone Memorial Day weekend in Baltimore in 2001, I could prove that it was a false accusation — or the fact that many “false rape claims” are of stranger-rape, thus making it even less likely that a specific individual will be punished.

    The fact that you could put it at 10 guilty to 1 innocent, and turn a civil tort into a crime, just goes to show how far you are willing to stretch the truth to make rhetorical points.

    Why, Steersman? What’s in it for you?

    I don’t want to leap to at least one logical conclusion, but I’m having a hard time figuring out otherwise why you are so invested in this that you will make errors like that — and I am being *charitable* in calling them errors — in order to defend your point.

    But maybe you consider that “business” of mine to be “faux-reasonable” because you don’t want to admit that there might be some justification for the arguments I’ve made. I certainly don’t recollect you making any counter-arguments – maybe you didn’t have one?

    Actually, Steersman, I think this is the first time we’ve engaged; I have read you elsewhere, and let other people take on the role of vivisectionist; I just figured this time it was my turn.

  103. 103
    imnotandrei

    Just to emphasize its similarity with “illogical attack” which was the point in question

    I shall leave this as “clumsy writing” rather than “attempt at subtle deception”, then — others may conclude differently.

    He could have had a thousand “corroborating statements” and if every one of them was a lie or couldn’t be proven then I would say they would mean diddly-squat relative to the question of having issued and published a libelous statement.

    Yes, well, and if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

    I notice you’re back to “proven”, again — if a thousand people corroborated the source’s story, or offered their own testimony of sleazy/unethical/non-consensual behavior on the part of Shermer, that would mean “diddly-squat” to you about whether or not Myers was guilty of libel?

    I hope you never end up on a jury, frankly — because that kind of weight of probability on one side of the scale *should* mean something.

    But my impression, based on an admittedly limited understanding of the law, is that it ceased to be that once there was an accusation of criminal wrong-doing on the table – which makes it one of defamation per se (1).

    I have dealt with this below — your limited understanding is incorrect.

    Maybe many victims of rape get more of a rough ride from the justice system than is really appropriate.

    You’re almost there — you’re starting to get it…then….

    But my point was that that is the nature of that system, to presume the innocence of the defendant, to suspect the claims of the prosecution. You think you have a better system then be sure to let everyone know the details.

    And, as I said below, this is why I become ever more suspect of the motives of people like you — you seem quite willing to go “Oh, well, the system might suck for these people, but it’s not up to me to fix it, or even show any indication as to how to fix it; it’s OK by me.”

    In other words, while “many victims of rape get more of a rough ride than is really appropriate”, that’s not enough reason to fix the system, and certainly not enough reason to risk the possibility that a man might get his reputation damaged.

    An impressive display of empathy.

    An impressive display of editing on your part. You managed to take a comment about suffering from harassment, and turn it into reason for you to whine about Shermer again. Indeed, it is *very* clear that the person who is being treated as the victim here, allegedly independent of any judgment about the claims about him, is Shermer — the source is just data. (If she exists, as some people easily allege she doesn’t.) Even referring to someone else’s harassment, to you, becomes an excuse to highlight what part of it is about Shermer.

    that you would find very difficult to disprove, and that would seriously impact your friendships and chances of employment.

    The odd thing is, I haven’t seen Shermer get fired from anywhere. The previous case in this discussion. Mr. Radford, still works for his employer — that was, of course, just sexual harassment, which is still a firing offense in many places.

    There is a consistent pattern, from commenter to commenter, from blog to blog, of maximizing the theoretical damage Shermer might suffer, in the absence of any evidence of actual damage, while at the same time minimizing his (and often any man’s) responsibility even if events did occur — “Oh, if they were both drunk, did they rape each other?”, “But wait, how can we be sure she won’t change her mind…”

    The fact that it is that consistent, over and over and over again, really does make one wonder about the motivations behind it.

    (This is not even getting into the fact that many people went “Oh, PZ Myers is saying that, it’s not credible!” Indeed, part of many defenses of Shermer have taken the tack of “Oh, we all know Myers hates him, so we can’t believe this.)

    Hence, your “credible accusation of an egregious crime” is, once again, putting your thumb on the scale — because many people don’t consider it credible, and, funny — many of the people who do also consider the corroborating evidence/testimony credible, which reduces even *further* the chances that Shermer is actually innocent of unethical behavior around women, sex, and alcohol.

    And none of this, of course, is going to end up with him in jail, unless things go truly haywire for him at his own prompting.

    Just think for a minute, Steersman, about what it might mean that you keep jamming all the grey areas to one side, and arguing from there…

  104. 104
    John Phillips, FCD

    Stephanie N

    Actually, Steersman, I think this is the first time we’ve engaged; I have read you elsewhere, and let other people take on the role of vivisectionist; I just figured this time it was my turn.

    and may I just say that you slice and dice with the best, nice work.

  105. 105
    Steersman

    Stephanie N. said (#25.3.1):

    So blithely going “Oh, this is how the legal system works” here is ignoring a whole bunch of previous discussion — but I’ve noticed you’re good at that.

    Whether there’s been previous discussion or not seems likely to be immaterial if it comes down to a question of a court case. Which has been a large part of my argument yet many seem to want to insist that those previous discussions are going to have some relevance once the case is in the hands of the lawyers – if it gets that far.

    As far as the “good at” shot, I figure it’s rather much – maybe even arrogant and pretentious – to expect that everyone has read every last word that every one has written on the topic in the last while.

    … but last time I checked, “condoning sexual harassment” wasn’t actually a crime …

    True. I’ll concede the point; my mistake.

    You see, I’d be much more inclined to believe that it was a red herring if it weren’t for the fact that over, and over, and over again, people who are opposed to what Myers has done make a point of it being “anonymous”.

    While this might be hard for you to conceive of, I am not all of those other people nor do I necessarily agree with everything that everyone on any particular side says on any given point. I did say “I think that that is a red herring”, not that the source’s credibility should be discounted or deprecated because not everyone knows her name. A credibility which I’m quite ready to concede or argue is the same whether the label is “anonymous” or “unnamed”.

    … looks pretty much like a “condemnation” of Shermer …

    Speaking of red herrings — when did anyone apply the term to Shermer?

    I did. In that passage. Sort of as a tu quoque for “imnotandrei’s” use of the phrase. Something you maybe ignored, intentionally or otherwise? Something you too are “good at”?

    But, in passing, are you “imnotandrei”? I ask because you asked whether I ever did look up SLAPP as you had asked me to do before, but only she and “unnullifier” had asked me that before your (first) comment above.

    I have rarely seen a better example of privileged thought codified quite so clearly. The legal system can’t even allow “potentially libelous” actions ….

    Thanks. I work at it; I expect to see my name attached to it in a citation.

    But while I’m not particularly familiar with the question of “privilege”, I get the distinct impression that it is a rather badly flawed, or badly applied, concept. However, I wonder what precisely do you think I’m “privileging” by that statement? The right of all citizens to be considered innocent until proven otherwise? I don’t see much “privilege” in that.

    But maybe my “potentially” in “potentially libelous” was what caused some problem of interpretation – my intent there was to highlight the apparent fact that the definition is a little obscure, that whether it is present or not, or is deemed to have occurred, seems somewhat dependent on whether the truth or falsity of the claim is proven or not.

    Now, you see, here’s a funny thing; to quote from something not quite from biblical times, “Cui bono?” — who benefits from that.

    Interesting point – hadn’t thought of that. However, one might argue that, generally speaking, we all benefit from that principle of being able to face one’s accusers. There are maybe some cases where other principles might outweigh that one – a source recently skimmed talked about that maybe being true in some rape cases. However the same source pointed out that the possible implications in such cases is that the authorities believe the defendant to be guilty, and that “privileging” the particular accuser in that case works to diminish the presumption of innocence of the accused. Part of the reason why I think the concept of “privilege” is carelessly and dangerously applied by far too many.

    Interestingly enough, most legal reasoning I’ve run across tends to argue from the lesser to the greater — “If this is illegal, then how much more wrong is this other thing?”

    Interesting – learn something new every day. However, most deductive logic (1) that I’m familiar with works from the general – arguably the greater – to the particular, the lesser. The legal reasoning you refer to seems to be more analogous to inductive logic – which tends to have any number of potential problems in its process of inferring common elements (2).

    And if that holds then of course Shermer becomes the victim and is due compensation.

    *If* Myers is guilty.

    Right – quite agree. But also *if* Shermer is guilty. Which no few people insist on painting him as. Which seems to qualify as libel, per se.

    But this is entirely beside the original point I was making — which was that you were straining to construct a system which put Shermer in the role of victim, and then accusing people who do not support that (unproven, and, indeed, less-evidenced) position of only restraining from murder because of the law.

    Maybe it’s a strain, but I was trying to create an analogy, not just for the hell of it, but to make a point. Relative to which, Crommunist had a rather succinct expression of that not long ago:

    Analogy is an excellent method of exposing inconsistencies in logic, which is an important component of refuting bad arguments.

    But consider this “paradigmatic” example of analogies (3): “hand is to palm as foot is to sole”. And in the case at hand:

    (A): Shermer is to Jane Doe (victim) as (B): Myers and company is to Shermer (victim)

    Now you might balk at that analogy, but I expect that that would be largely because you’re apparently quite certain that in case (A) Shermer is guilty of having victimized Jane Doe with rape whereas in case (B) you’re prepared only to consider the possibility that Myers might be guilty of libel. But each of those cases is highly contingent on the credibility of the testimony of Jane Doe: if it passes the test then Shermer IS guilty (probably) of victimizing Jane, AND Myers is NOT guilty of victimizing Shermer. But if Jane’s testimony doesn’t pass that test then Shermer is (probably) NOT guilty of victimizing Jane, AND Myers IS guilty of victimizing Shermer.

    However, until that credibility can be tested, it seems that, analogously, one might reasonably argue that Myers is subjecting Shermer to the same type of third-degree treatment that many have, with probably some justification, criticized the justice system for treating many rape victims.

    My point was not “restraining from murder because of the law” – an extreme case, but of simply refraining from breaking the law because of the law. In this case, continuing to make an accusation, the truth of which is very much in doubt until determined in a court of law. Not one of public opinion.

    You know what? I’d be delighted if I ever saw someone even start to work *towards* solutions …

    I kind of get the impression that more than a few have suggested any number of solutions, but that others have rejected them because some of them required a greater degree of personal responsibility than they were prepared to accept. Or that they required abandoning or questioning philosophical precepts that they were inordinately attached to. Or that they required technology they were unprepared to consider the ramifications of.

    As I said in the last article, you must own a straw-man factory.

    It was another analogy, designed, as Crommunist put it, to “expose inconsistencies in logic”. While you might wish to frame the debate in terms of “some loss to reputation” due to taking the report of one victim more seriously, that seems to be the thin edge of the wedge to doing so in cases where the penalty, and the consequences of being wrong, are a little more severe – you seem to have a rather cavalier if not callous attitude to the trauma that 5 to 10 years in prison might entail.

    … goes to show how far you are willing to stretch the truth to make rhetorical points. Why, Steersman? What’s in it for you?

    One good question deserves another: ever been on a debating team? Ever played chess or competitive sports? Who did you learn most from? Someone worse than you? Or someone better?

    There were a few other points you raised that I’d like to address but I’ll have to put them on the back burner for another day.

    —-
    1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deductive_logic”;
    2) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Problem_of_induction”;
    3) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analogies#Identity_of_relation”;

  106. 106
    Charly

    It seems that using links is not possible on this blog, so I try and repost without links:

    …If we accept your argument then there is no end to the number of victims we will leave with no recourse…

    That is you, Ben.

    In the classical form, the arguer suggests that making a move in a particular direction starts something on a path down a “slippery slope”. Having started down the metaphorical slope, it will continue to slide in the same direction (the arguer usually sees the direction as a negative direction, hence the “sliding downwards” metaphor).

    That is Wiki about slippery slope fallacy. So much for “incorrectly claiming a slippery-slope argument when there isn’t one “. It is there, “chum”, in your post. If you did not intend to insinuate, that PZ’s action and reasoning he himself used to defend it could result in increasing flood of unsubstantiated rape claims and subsequently social chaos. It is also not funny how you try and dismantle my pressuposed utilitarian consequentialism whilst using argument from unwanted consequences. If you did not intend to say that, then it is unclear what the hell are you trying to say at all and serious rewording is requiered. But unnecesarry all the same, because:

    Now kindly go and actually read that 4000 comments long thread on Pharyngula. All your points you now so eloquently make were adressed on first two sides of the omments, i.e. in first 1000, so no need to read it all.

    I am not impolite towards you because I am unable to, nor because I am somehow proud of it. I am impolite because you bring nothing new to the discussion whatsoever, because you wrote one sided piece of concern for wictims of false rape accusations (which are very rare and unlikely to happen) whilst completely neglecting rape victims (who are not rare at all, unfortunately).

    Every single argument you make has been dealt with at length either in comments or in articles on FtB. I find it very hard to believe that you did as you claim, i.e. that you actually did your homework and read up on what you are talking about. I do not see the point to be polite to someone who is too lazy to actually read debates that happened in the last wekk.

  107. 107
    Onamission5

    So no journalist of any major or minor news source wrote anything about the Catholic priests who were accused of molesting children nor the church officials that covered it up nor about the attitudes which allowed it to go on unchallenged for decades until after those priests were arrested, charged, and convicted in a court of law. Got it.

    Oh wait no, virtually every news organization I am aware of jumped all over that story long before any charges were assessed out or any convictions meted. Fail for you.

  108. 108
    Onamission5

    So according to you, no one can tell anyone else that they have been raped unless they are able to press charges and withstand the secondary trauma of an exam, interrogation (both legal and public), and if it comes to that, a trial.

    And people wonder why victims don’t talk about their sexual assaults.

  109. 109
    imnotandrei

    So blithely going “Oh, this is how the legal system works” here is ignoring a whole bunch of previous discussion — but I’ve noticed you’re good at that.

    Whether there’s been previous discussion or not seems likely to be immaterial if it comes down to a question of a court case.

    Yes, but right now what’s happening is a *discussion*. In which you are participating. So talking about what’s material in a court case or not is irrelevant.

    Which has been a large part of my argument yet many seem to want to insist that those previous discussions are going to have some relevance once the case is in the hands of the lawyers – if it gets that far.

    As above — people are arguing with *you*, not with lawyers. You don’t get to come in, toss a lot of stuff around, and then when called on it go “Oh, that’s not material to the court case”.

    As far as the “good at” shot, I figure it’s rather much – maybe even arrogant and pretentious – to expect that everyone has read every last word that every one has written on the topic in the last while.

    Considering I’ve seen you commenting on this subject for quite a while, and you showed repeated examples of bringing up frequently responded to arguments in these posts, you’re quite good at ignoring previous discussion. You’ve been *involved* in it, yet it doesn’t appear to sink in.

    You see, I’d be much more inclined to believe that it was a red herring if it weren’t for the fact that over, and over, and over again, people who are opposed to what Myers has done make a point of it being “anonymous”.

    While this might be hard for you to conceive of, I am not all of those other people nor do I necessarily agree with everything that everyone on any particular side says on any given point.

    Two things here:
    1) I did not say you were all the other people. I merely observed a pattern that I found consistent, and disturbing. You can argue you are not part of that pattern — but I have no particular reason to believe it, given that you fit the profile in many ways. If your choice of words was merely inartful and inaccurate, I’m glad to hear it, and I look forward to your changing it in the future.
    2) I also note that you are quite willing to accept notions attributed to “the FtB feminists”, but the idea that you are lumped in with other people according to a similar behavior pattern is inappropriate — this seems to be at least mildly contradictory.

    I did say “I think that that is a red herring”, not that the source’s credibility should be discounted or deprecated because not everyone knows her name. A credibility which I’m quite ready to concede or argue is the same whether the label is “anonymous” or “unnamed”.

    It’s different — which is why the words *matter*. Also, the fact that you are making such a point of *rejecting* the difference — calling it a red herring, arguing that the distinction doesn’t matter, etc., puts you even more firmly in the camp mentioned above. It ties in with a general pattern of yours, which I’ll address later.

    I did. In that passage. Sort of as a tu quoque for “imnotandrei’s” use of the phrase. Something you maybe ignored, intentionally or otherwise? Something you too are “good at”?

    It’s odd; someone who makes a point of using correct citation form who seems quite willing to use quotes to mean whatever he chooses them to mean at the given time, while there is a clear definition of how they are normally used. This is twice, now, that you’ve decided that you can slap quotes around something where there is a clear risk of misinterpretation — and then backpedaled on why you were using them, to something that is *not* the first and most logical assertion.

    But, in passing, are you “imnotandrei”? I ask because you asked whether I ever did look up SLAPP as you had asked me to do before, but only she and “unnullifier” had asked me that before your (first) comment above.

    Busted — I use different nyms different places, and had logged out and into a different account when I responded to you. ;)

    But to further address the bit about quotes above: rhetorical disingenousness in 5…4…

    Thanks. I work at it; I expect to see my name attached to it in a citation.

    …3…2….
    But while I’m not particularly familiar with the question of “privilege”,

    …blastoff! We’ll start with the “I work at it” and go on to the “I’m not particuarly familiar” — how often do you work at something you’re not particularly familiar at?

    (And yes, I get that the bit above was a joke; but it points something out below…)

    I get the distinct impression that it is a rather badly flawed, or badly applied, concept.

    If you’re not particularly familiar with it, why should we be listening to your “distinct impressions”? If you don’t know about something, that’s fine, but going (paraphrased, obviously ;)) “Oh, I don’t know about this, but I’ve heard it’s bad!” exposes you as either a) shooting your mouth off on things you don’t know much about, or b) lying about how much you know, or c) (for completeness’ sake) both.

    However, I wonder what precisely do you think I’m “privileging” by that statement? The right of all citizens to be considered innocent until proven otherwise? I don’t see much “privilege” in that.

    Clearly, a). See below.

    But maybe my “potentially” in “potentially libelous” was what caused some problem of interpretation – my intent there was to highlight the apparent fact that the definition is a little obscure, that whether it is present or not, or is deemed to have occurred, seems somewhat dependent on whether the truth or falsity of the claim is proven or not.

    Nompe — that was quite clear.

    But you see, if saying something against the existing power structure needs to be proven to a very high standard, while being *wrong* about saying somethign against the existing power structure is damaging to the system we “rely on to keep the barbarians outside the gates”, it means that the bar for challenging the existing power structure is *extremely* high. When combined with your previous comments about how it might generate frosty atmospheres at conventions, it adds up to speaking from a position of privilege — don’t speak up or the barbarians will come and get us, just go along with the way things are.

    There are maybe some cases where other principles might outweigh that one – a source recently skimmed talked about that maybe being true in some rape cases.

    How generous of you to admit that there might be other principles involved. (I also note that skimming your sources does not lend credibility to your words. ;))

    However the same source pointed out that the possible implications in such cases is that the authorities believe the defendant to be guilty, and that “privileging” the particular accuser in that case works to diminish the presumption of innocence of the accused. Part of the reason why I think the concept of “privilege” is carelessly and dangerously applied by far too many.

    So, wait, we’re not supposed to take privilege seriously because an article you skimmed uses the word in such a way that you don’t like the outcome?

    . However, most deductive logic (1)

    By the way — your semi-random footnoting of familiar concepts is hardly useful.

    that I’m familiar with works from the general – arguably the greater – to the particular, the lesser.

    And works from an axiomatic system, or one in which facts can be presumed. That is not often the case in the law. ;) Indeed, part of the reason we *have* lawyers is the very fact that the law is not a clear axiomatic formal system.

    The legal reasoning you refer to seems to be more analogous to inductive logic – which tends to have any number of potential problems in its process of inferring common elements (2).

    Who was it who was worried about undercutting the legal system and letting in the barbarians again? ;) If the law is to be of any use, it must be an extensible system, to cover *new* situations. The classic argument “If X is wrong, then how much more is Y wrong?” is a form of extending the system.

    And if that holds then of course Shermer becomes the victim and is due compensation.
    *If* Myers is guilty.

    Right – quite agree. But also *if* Shermer is guilty. Which no few people insist on painting him as. Which seems to qualify as libel, per se.

    Let me introduce you to the concept of a truth-value gap, and its analogy, the legal-value gap.

    In some logics, it is quite possible for a statement to be neither true, nor false; while classical logic abhors this, it is a frequent feature of non-classical logics.

    Similarly, the legal system allows for situations where, though you might *think* either person A or person B is guilty of a crime, that is not, in fact, the case.

    It is quite possible for both of the following statements to be true:
    Michael Shermer did not rape the source.
    PZ Myers is not guilty of libel.

    For that to be the case, all that would be required is that Shermer fail to meet the “actual malice” standard.

    Maybe it’s a strain, but I was trying to create an analogy, not just for the hell of it, but to make a point.

    This does not speak to whether it was a good or a bad analogy.

    Relative to which, Crommunist had a rather succinct expression of that not long ago:

    Analogy is an excellent method of exposing inconsistencies in logic, which is an important component of refuting bad arguments.

    Ladies and gentlemen, trying to slip in the argument from (presumed) authority, under the guise of citing one’s sources! Step right up and take a gander.

    This *still* doesn’t speak to the fact that it was a bad analogy.

    (A): Shermer is to Jane Doe (victim) as (B): Myers and company is to Shermer (victim)

    (Another case, BTW, where you use quoting in an idiosyncratic fashion; you did not say this anywhere before, and in a post filled with blockquotes from another person, you stick this also in a blockquote. One might think you’d want people to believe this was the analogy you were making from the start, rather than one you now bring up to try and rescue a ludicrous statement from earlier.

    Now you might balk at that analogy, but I expect that that would be largely because you’re apparently quite certain that in case (A) Shermer is guilty of having victimized Jane Doe with rape whereas in case (B) you’re prepared only to consider the possibility that Myers might be guilty of libel.

    Actually, no; I balk at it because it is a drastically oversimplified analogy. The usefulness of an analogy to point out logical errors is contingent upon how well it represents the case.

    But each of those cases is highly contingent on the credibility of the testimony of Jane Doe: if it passes the test then Shermer IS guilty (probably) of victimizing Jane, AND Myers is NOT guilty of victimizing Shermer. But if Jane’s testimony doesn’t pass that test then Shermer is (probably) NOT guilty of victimizing Jane, AND Myers IS guilty of victimizing Shermer.

    See above in re: legal-value gaps. I will also note that you are slipping once more your notion of a “test” of Jane Doe’s credibility; pray, tell, what standard were you thinking of using for that test? (Quick clue: the same standard does not apply in both cases. Implying that it does either makes Shermer appear far more at risk than he actually is of being “falsely convicted”, or makes Myers seem far more careless than he actually was. In either event, the following judgment is incorrect, and speaks to your motives in placing both cases under one umbrella.)

    However, until that credibility can be tested, it seems that, analogously, one might reasonably argue that Myers is subjecting Shermer to the same type of third-degree treatment that many have, with probably some justification, criticized the justice system for treating many rape victims.

    One might argue it; reasonably is different.

    Shermer is in no legal jeopardy; a woman reporting a rape who is receiving “the third degree” is in peril (as attested repeatedly) of being charged with false reporting. Similarly, Myers has no power to compel — unlike the justice system. Thirdly, may we point out that the people talking about this now *don’t* include Myers? That is hardly a “third degree”. And, finally, if you are going to apply your “innocent until proven guilty” standard, you should be defending Myers as vigorously as Shermer, for having done something a) less heinous, b) with a lower standard of proving “innocence”, and c) at significantly greater risk at this point.

    My point was not “restraining from murder because of the law” – an extreme case, but of simply refraining from breaking the law because of the law. In this case, continuing to make an accusation, the truth of which is very much in doubt until determined in a court of law. Not one of public opinion.

    And here we get to an underlying point — once again, the “It’s only rape if there’s a conviction, because otherwise it’s a trial in the court of public opinion.”

    See above in this thread as to why saying that, absent serious work to improve the justice system, is massively rape-enabling. And, for that matter, displaying once again a massive sense of privilege — because it prioritizes people on the higher end of the power spectrum (in this case, men) over people on the lower end (women, and, indeed, rape victims on a larger scale) by putting the more powerful’s reputations as a higher priority than the lower’s safety and bodily integrity.

    I kind of get the impression that more than a few have suggested any number of solutions, but that others have rejected them because some of them required a greater degree of personal responsibility than they were prepared to accept.

    That would be called “victim-blaming.” The shortcomings of the legal system are not going to be solved by the victims behaving differently, or taking more steps to avoid getting involved in the legal system.

    Indeed, most steps that are alleging “a greater degree of personal responsibility” need to be taken are *gatekeepers* for the already messed-up system, going “Oh, that’s not even rape, they didn’t do X.”

    (Side note; if that’s not what you meant, then you need to be more clear; in this paragraph you do a great job of going more or less “Oh, I think I saw this thing that refutes your point, but unnamed other people didn’t like it for reasons I’m going to describe vaguely, either because I don’t understand them, don’t have examples, or don’t think my examples are persuasive.”)
    <i Or that they required abandoning or questioning philosophical precepts that they were inordinately attached to.
    For example?

    Or that they required technology they were unprepared to consider the ramifications of.

    For example?

    As I said in the last article, you must own a straw-man factory.

    It was another analogy, designed, as Crommunist put it, to “expose inconsistencies in logic”.

    Again with the invocation of authority to attempt to bolster a flawed point. How many fallacies of reasoning are you *trying* to cram in to one post?

    While you might wish to frame the debate in terms of “some loss to reputation” due to taking the report of one victim more seriously, that seems to be the thin edge of the wedge to doing so in cases where the penalty, and the consequences of being wrong, are a little more severe – you seem to have a rather cavalier if not callous attitude to the trauma that 5 to 10 years in prison might entail.

    Ah-hah! And now we can add the “slippery slope” argument to our list.

    As I’ve now said repeatedly, you keep trying to maximize the possible negative consequences, out of all bounds of reason. What you’re saying above is, in effect, if we take one victim more seriously, it’s going to result in lots of people unfairly going to jail, so how dare you suggest we even start that path?

    Nonsense.

    I notice that you edited out my entire dissection of your analogy, and dragged back in the “5-10 years” as the rhetorical bludgeon you were trying to use — a 5-10 years that *no one* in this situation is at risk of.

    … goes to show how far you are willing to stretch the truth to make rhetorical points. Why, Steersman? What’s in it for you?

    One good question deserves another:

    but apparently, while it deserves 5 questions in return, it does not deserve an *answer*.

    However, in the spirit of claiming the rhetorical high ground, I’ll give you your answers, and see if you ever manage to respond.

    ever been on a debating team? Yes.
    Ever played chess or competitive sports? Yes.
    Who did you learn most from? That varied. Often, coaches. ;)
    Someone worse than you? Or someone better? Someone better.

    However, putting this all together paints a very ugly picture, Steersman, that I’m strongly suspecting you’d like to edit.

    Because the questions above imply you’re arguing these points in order to learn rhetoric; you compare our discussion to games and learning experiences.

    Which means that these things aren’t serious to you.
    And you know what it is to treat things other people take seriously as games and personal learning experiences?

    Rude. Selfish. Inconsiderate. One could, if one wished, go so far as to say “unethical” or “immoral”. Kant would not approve. ;)

    And neither do I. If you’re making all of these arguments purely for rhetorical sport and learning, then do us all a favor? Stop wasting our time and go argue about sports.* Or about whether Star Trek or Star Wars is better.** Or any one of a number of things that aren’t significant issues in people’s lives, whether that person is PZ Myers’ source. Or PZ Myers. Or the people who’ve come forward with their own stories.

    Or, for that matter, Michael Shermer.

    ——————————————-

    * Barcelona is better than Real Madrid, Bill Russell was the best basketball player ever, and the New Orleans Saints were under-punished. There. Pick one of those.
    ** Trek. However, Iain Banks’ culture novels are vastly better than either.

  110. 110
    alandeon2

    @Keven. “What is the probability that this particular report of rape is false?…….”Other people have been making similar comments about Shermer in the backchannel at conferences and other places for many years.”

    Now playing devil’s advocate here, would it not be rather easy to make a false claim based on the fact that “others” have been making similar comments for many years”?

    What I mean is if I wanted to discredit someone and I know that he likes to hit on women at these conventions, creating a story where he finally went too far suddenly become very believable due to his “history” even if it is not true.

    So what’s the probability of this particular report of rape is false? I don’t know but it still shouldn’t have been posted to FTB first without some more thought given.

    Was this “rape” or someone who woke up in the morning and said to herself “I wouldn’t have done that if I wasn’t drinking” After all, she IS in control of how often she puts that glass of wine to her own mouth, isn’t she? Even IF he was the one who refilled the glass??

    And could the same be said about Shermer? Could he have turned over in the morning and said ” Oh my, that wasn’t what I had in mind when we started drinking. Was HE raped? and why not?

  111. 111
    alandeon2

    I think your impolite because your a dickhead but that’s me. I can be a dickhead too. ;-)

    As if the average person has time to read 400 blog posts, let alone 4000. It’s not going to happen…..

  112. 112
    alandeon2

    @immotandrie

    “Well, first, we tend to actually value free speech, as opposed to using it as cover for harassment, so have a much higher bar for what we’d actually sue over.”

    Then why do so many of the FTB bloggers put replies “in moderation” and block those they disagree with? It doesn’t sound like a high value on “free speech” if you ask me.

    (thank you to Ashley Miller for not “moderating” replies, as it should be ;-)

  113. 113
    Edward Gemmer

    I’d never heard of Shermer outside the “women can’t think” thing and this. He isn’t my hero, but I’m pretty loathe to go after someone based on extremely limited information. People have different values – few are for rape and against due process, but then our values collide. No, it isn’t fair to Shermer or anyone to be maligned for something and not even be told what he did. Rape victims shouldn’t be forced to out themselves to warn people about someone. How do we justify these two things which we value but don’t mesh? I don’t know. Creative solutions are certainly welcome.

  114. 114
    Timid Atheist

    Here we go with the free speech thing again. Why, oh why, do people claim that someone moderating their own blog is a violation of free speech? Is this really such a hard concept to grasp?

  115. 115
    hjhornbeck

    He isn’t my hero, but I’m pretty loathe to go after someone based on extremely limited information.

    We have one named, public accusation; two unnamed accusations backed by three named people and at least one pseudo-nonymous individual; one accusation by a pseudo-nonymous individual; at least one report of bad behaviour by one named individual and many pseudononymous reports; and the existence of a “do-not-associate” list that contains Shermer’s name which has been circulating for years.

    And you call that “extremely limited?”

    No, it isn’t fair to Shermer or anyone to be maligned for something and not even be told what he did. Rape victims shouldn’t be forced to out themselves to warn people about someone. How do we justify these two things which we value but don’t mesh?

    The ideal way would be for secular organizations to have a solid, enforced Code of Conduct which would head off these incidents in the first place. However, we have reports that the two biggest skeptic/atheist organizations have systematically covered up harassment, assault, and even rape for years. When the people in charg
    I don’t know. Creative solutions are certainly welcome.

  116. 116
    hjhornbeck

    He isn’t my hero, but I’m pretty loathe to go after someone based on extremely limited information.

    We have one named, public accusation; two unnamed accusations backed by three named people and at least one pseudo-nonymous individual; one accusation by a pseudo-nonymous individual; at least one report of bad behaviour by one named individual and many pseudononymous reports; and the existence of a “do-not-associate” list that contains Shermer’s name which has been circulating for years.

    And you call that “extremely limited?”

    No, it isn’t fair to Shermer or anyone to be maligned for something and not even be told what he did. Rape victims shouldn’t be forced to out themselves to warn people about someone. How do we justify these two things which we value but don’t mesh?

    The ideal way would be for secular organizations to have a solid, enforced Code of Conduct which would head off these incidents in the first place. However, we have reports that the two biggest skeptic/atheist organizations have systematically covered up harassment, assault, and even rape for years. When the people in charge are corrupt, how else can we end the abuse?

  117. 117
    hjhornbeck

    There are very good reasons for women to avoid reporting. Read this, and tell me how the situation was made better by going to the police.

  118. 118
    imnotandrei

    Now playing devil’s advocate here, would it not be rather easy to make a false claim based on the fact that “others” have been making similar comments for many years”?

    You see, the funny thing is, what motivation for this is there? I can see doing this if one wanted to, say, try and *prosecute* Shermer, but that’s not what’s happening.

    What I mean is if I wanted to discredit someone and I know that he likes to hit on women at these conventions, creating a story where he finally went too far suddenly become very believable due to his “history” even if it is not true.

    And what about all the testimonies saying he *had* gone too far, if not quite *that* far?

    You seem to be arguing that it is significantly more likely that there is a grand conspiracy against Michael Shermer than that he actually did something wrong.

    The rest of your post consists of the standard lines of victim-blaming, questions designed to muddy the issue, and both of those have been answered many times before. Try and come up with something new, please, or resist the temptation to post.

  119. 119
    Jeffrey Robinson

    Wow. Way to miss the point.

    Wanting evidence before someone is accused of a serious crime; that, to you, now counts as misogyny?

    It’s funny what you said about Roman Polanski; you seem to be exhibiting the same behavior here in regard to Myers.

    Is it difficult for a victim of rape to come forward? Of course it is, and I beyond my imagination. Unfortunately, that’s what would be required to accuse someone of a crime. Courage takes valor, and Meyers does not exhibit valor in any way in his accusations, to say nothing of wisdom.

    But here, hey, let’s toss out all the other theories: Maybe that the emotionally charged Myers is making it up? Heard a rumor and decided to run with it? Oh, no, he posted it, it must be true!

    Again, even if it IS true, justice requires the victim to step forward. That’s how it works. That’s the only way it works. This story isn’t about sweeping rape under the rug as you so seem to term it. It’s about unsubstantiated accusations against an individual.

    “Unsubstantiated.” Do you know what that term means? Do you know why it’s important? Yes, this sentence is condescending.

    Not to mention it’s already out that Myers edited the post to reflect direct contact with the alleged victim, which he certainly did not. If you need to ride a moral high horse, how about Myers’s lack of investigating a serious claim before he went on to potentially defame a colleague? That would have crossed my mind, and damn, I don’t even have a doctorate. Go figure.

  120. 120
    Ashley F. Miller

    I do moderate, but I don’t delete things because I disagree with their argument. I am fortunate enough that my blog is usually not flooded with bad behavior and, for the most part, even visitors from the Slyme Pit engage rather than troll. I find disagreement useful.

  121. 121
    Ashley F. Miller

    I don’t believe I accused people who wanted evidence of being misogynists, in fact I said I understood their support of Shermer. I have special knowledge, it leads me to one conclusion, if I didn’t, perhaps I would come to a different conclusion; I do not have a problem with that.

    I think that the disagreement on this comes down to whether you think PZ is a good person trying to do the right thing or whether you find him to be completely untrustworthy. While he is inflammatory and opinionated, he has demonstrated a commitment to the truth and trying to do the right thing. He was clearly on the fence about posting it, but felt he had a moral obligation to do so. You can disagree with his conclusion, but I think that assuming he’s just making it up is not supported by available evidence and reflects a personal dislike of PZ rather than a logical conclusion.

    That does not mean you have to believe the claim the unnamed woman puts forth. PZ spoke with a woman he knew, who was reconnected to him by Carrie Poppy, and she told her story and PZ believed it. Because of the level of behind-the-scenes discussion of inappropriate behavior on the part of Michael Shermer, the trustworthiness of the person sharing her story, and the increased push to name names of the past few months, PZ felt he had a moral imperative to share the information. Not everyone would come to that conclusion with the information he had.

    I personally think that the number of accusations that have been leveled at Shermer both publicly and privately along with receiving a first-hand account from someone I, and other people I trusted, had every reason to believe would make it very difficult to deny her a platform.

  122. 122
  123. 123
    Steersman

    imnotandrei (Stephanie N.) wrote (#25.4.1):

    imnotandrei wrote: … but apparently, while it deserves 5 questions in return, it does not deserve an *answer*.

    Never heard of a rhetorical question (1)? ;-)

    imnotandrei wrote: Because the questions above imply you’re arguing these points in order to learn rhetoric; you compare our discussion to games and learning experiences.

    I’ll concede that I should have elaborated more than I did as the paucity of detail in the response certainly justifies making that inference. However, I’ll plead that it was five in the morning for me, well past my bedtime, and I was feeling somewhat thrashed so I had to conclude more quickly than I should have.

    But I figure you’re very badly misjudging me if you think that I’m “arguing these points [only] in order to learn rhetoric” – something that I would have thought that someone of your obvious talents in reading, and remembering, everything ever written anywhere on the current topic would have realized.

    However, since that seems not to be the case, allow me present some countervailing evidence, starting with this rather welcome “cookie” from someone on “your” side which shows, I think and among other things, some evidence of me being interested in these issues for reasons other than simply displaying or learning some technical virtuosity in rhetoric:

    smhll wrote (2): And, though I hate to say it, +1 reading comprehension and +1 empathy points to Steersman who (ok, I skimmed near the end), expressed understanding for a 15 year old who doesn’t have a lot of experience with alcohol, rather than just hurling blame like the others did. Thank you. (I’ll even stay after class and write “The Slymepit is not a monolith” on the chalkboard, but only once.) [my emphasis]

    And that perspective is, I think and as I have argued in no few locations over some period of time, predicated on a rather fundamental belief that virtually every side on virtually any question has some credible arguments and perspectives, and some not so credible. Which has tended to put me on the fence on many issues, but which tends to be somewhat problematic for any number of reasons. For instances:

    Steersman wrote (3): I wasn’t referring to those tweets of Watson’s in an effort to pin you to the wall or anything like that; it was more to provide some context, and to provide at least some rationale for some of the responses from “our” side (I tend to identify more as someone on the fence, or still trying to understand where everyone is coming from). There really is a very large amount of “he said / she said”, of “atrocities” on each side, that makes this issue a real mess, a Gordian Knot of the first water that is not at all easy to untangle.

    Steersman wrote (4): As Dilurk has also noted, being on the fence tends to produce getting it from both sides. Although given the number of crazies on each side, on all sides, sometimes it seems the wiser course of action. But my impression is that most everyone has some interesting and credible arguments but, frequently, other ones that are quite a bit more suspect – with the differences, I find, not always easy to discern: canons to the left of us and canons to the right … into the valley & etc. ….

    And that perspective is not just a case of something more honoured in the breach than in the observance, but something where I’ve actually put my money where my mouth is. For instances, I have rather strenuously defended in “The Pit”, at one time or another, Sally Strange (sockpuppeting), Rebecca Watson (Galileo), Jason Thibeault (homophobic comments), Stephanie Zvan (rape), Ophelia Benson (doxing), PZ Myers (sexist comments), among others, and on various issues – which you are welcome to search the pit for corroboration. But one recent example might serve to emphasize the point in the context of the current discussion:

    Steersman wrote (5): But those are the problems of being on the fence – or at least of making some effort to see where they are coming from. However, I’m certainly not arguing for the wisdom of PZ publishing that accusation as I think he could very well wind up with his ass in a sling over it – “Trebuchets for a $1000 please Alex”. However, if there is a “significant” amount of truth to the accusation, and related ones, then one might argue that he is performing a public service by making the accusation known … the “privilege” defence against a charge of libel: ….

    But all of the foregoing is predicated on, or are cases in point relative to, a rather cogent observation made by Shermer in his The Believing Brain (highly recommended) – something which I’ve quoted close to two dozen times in the Pit over the last 6 months, and probably as many times elsewhere:

    Shermer wrote: As we saw in the previous chapter, politics is filled with self-justifying rationalizations. Democrats see the world through liberal-tinted glasses, while Republicans filter it through conservative shaded glasses. When you listen to both “conservative talk radio” and “progressive talk radio” you will hear current events interpreted in ways that are 180 degrees out of phase. So incongruent are the interpretations of even the simplest goings-on in the daily news that you wonder if they can possibly be talking about the same event. [pg 263] [my emphasis]

    But I haven’t been championing that idea just for my health – much less just to develop skills in rhetoric –as it has taken no small amount of time and effort to understand the issues, and the perspectives and arguments of those involved. It was based more on the belief that the only way to resolve many of those issues is for people to realize that that is the nature of the beast, that many of us are working at cross-purposes:

    Steersman wrote (6): Astrokid said:
    “@Steersman.. Good luck bro. You are walking the diplomat line.”
    Thanks.

    But I happen to think that both “sides” – generally on most issues, but this one of rape in particular – have some good points and some bad ones. Can’t see that we’re likely to get off the horns of that particular dilemma unless “good people” on each side make some effort to at least consider the arguments on the other side without rejecting them out-of-hand. For instance, even Sally Strange commendably conceded some time ago that “the few isolated good points that MRAs have are indeed good points”, although, unfortunately, she seems unable to take that to the next level.

    While I will readily concede that there appears to be more than a few people in this only for the lulz – maybe all of us some of the time, some of us all of the time – who might be somewhat akin to war profiteers (7), I think many if not most people have an honest desire to resolve these issues. But, as indicated, I don’t think the prognosis for that happening is particularly good unless more people actually make some honest efforts to consider the arguments on the other side of the fence.

    —–
    1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhetorical_question”;
    2) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2013/08/21/in-which-i-falsely-report-a-rape/#comment-264294”;
    3) “_http://anthonybsusan.wordpress.com/2013/08/14/opting-out/#comment-1264”;
    4) “_http://slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=10790#p10790”;
    5) “_http://slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=116107#p116107”;
    6) “_http://anthonybsusan.wordpress.com/2013/08/14/opting-out/#comment-1230”;
    7) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_profiteer”;

  124. 124
    imnotandrei

    Never heard of a rhetorical question (1)? ;-)

    Considering I wasn’t asking one, answering a non-rhetorical question with a bunch of questions remains an evasive tactic.

    But I figure you’re very badly misjudging me if you think that I’m “arguing these points [only] in order to learn rhetoric” – something that I would have thought that someone of your obvious talents in reading, and remembering, everything ever written anywhere on the current topic would have realized.

    I do you the credit of trying to take you at your word; I know people who play with people’s hot-button issues for fun, so it’s not as if I was making up some new and unheard of trait.

    And what other conclusion were we to draw? If you don’t want people drawing conclusions from your 5:00 A.M. remarks, I recommend not making 5:00 A.M. remarks. (And before you go there, commenting on a blog is consenting to having your comments responded to. So don’t even try to draw the analogy.)

    However, since that seems not to be the case

    I’ll accept your statement that you were being inartful at 5:00 A.M., since you say so. This leaves your motivations still open to question.

    , allow me present some countervailing evidence, starting with this rather welcome “cookie”

    You have low standards for a cookie if “expressing understanding” instead of “just hurling blame” qualifies.

    And that perspective is, I think and as I have argued in no few locations over some period of time, predicated on a rather fundamental belief that virtually every side on virtually any question has some credible arguments and perspectives, and some not so credible.

    When you repeatedly express only incredulity on one side, you will forgive my skepticism that this fundamental belief of yours is what you’re actually expressing.

    I have not seen you comment in any negative/skeptical way on Shermer’s behavior around all of this — or, indeed, many of his supporters.

    [deleted -- several instances of Steersman praising his position as one of "balance" and the like. Including claims that "But I defended you people over there.]

    Steersman wrote (5): But those are the problems of being on the fence – or at least of making some effort to see where they are coming from. However, I’m certainly not arguing for the wisdom of PZ publishing that accusation as I think he could very well wind up with his ass in a sling over it – “Trebuchets for a $1000 please Alex”. However, if there is a “significant” amount of truth to the accusation, and related ones, then one might argue that he is performing a public service by making the accusation known … the “privilege” defence against a charge of libel: ….

    How valiant of you, to say “If he’s right, one *might argue* that he was performing a public service.” rather than going “No matter what the truth is, he’s utterly wrong.” That is, indeed, a small step in the direction of moderation. However, small steps in the direction of moderation on one side do not excuse implicit victim-blaming and rhetorical trickery on the other.

    Indeed, saying “But I’m not one of *those* crazies, I’m the *reasonable* one” is a familiar rhetorical and political trick, to make an extreme position *seem* moderate.

    Shermer wrote: As we saw in the previous chapter, politics is filled with self-justifying rationalizations. Democrats see the world through liberal-tinted glasses, while Republicans filter it through conservative shaded glasses. When you listen to both “conservative talk radio” and “progressive talk radio” you will hear current events interpreted in ways that are 180 degrees out of phase. So incongruent are the interpretations of even the simplest goings-on in the daily news that you wonder if they can possibly be talking about the same event. [pg 263] [my emphasis]

    And the funny thing is, you can often measure those events against externally-verifiable facts, and determine *which* is more accurate. Throwing up your hands and going “They’re both wrong” isn’t helpful.

    [ommitted -- another testimonial]

    But I happen to think that both “sides” – generally on most issues, but this one of rape in particular – have some good points and some bad ones.

    Well, you may think it, but you’re managing to fail miserably at displaying those thoughts; when asked to discuss them, you went, in effect, “Oh, there were some ideas, but you people didn’t like them for [victim-blaming and vague reasons]”

    Again — you may claim you want to be even-handed, that both sides have good ideas — but then when it comes time to *display* them, you give nothing to one side, and complain that that side is not listening to the other.

    But, as indicated, I don’t think the prognosis for that happening is particularly good unless more people actually make some honest efforts to consider the arguments on the other side of the fence.

    Well, it’s funny — when one of them says he was caught in a moral dilemma, because of arguments from both sides of the fence, and then chooses — he gets lambasted for it.

    But all of this entire post, I’ll note, is a massive derail — you’re trying to buff up your “reasonable” credentials, and fail to address anything said to you other than a bit at the very end of my last comment. Do you have anything useful to say, or is this now entirely about you?

  125. 125
    imnotandrei

    Oh, and as a personal side-note; I was raised in a household where raising your voice in an argument meant you lost — because emotion was getting in, and you were no longer being “reasonable”.

    It is with this background that I see your repeated attempts to portray yourself that way, in contradiction to the people against you; your careful omissions of topics where you might be being beaten, in order to focus on ones where, again, you can appear “reasonable”. And I am also well aware of how being nothing but “reasonable”, over and over again, while putting in dogwhistles and jabs, can cause your opponents to lose it.

    I know you claim to be trying to find some middle ground, some good in everybody — but, as I said to you before, when you take one side of every grey area, when you take arguments to the extreme in one direction only, it does not reflect well upon your claim to be in the middle. You will not succeed in shifting the Overton window in this discussion by carrying it out in waves of massive, often-condescendingly-footnoted verbiage.

  126. 126
    Steersman

    Ashley said (#25.1.1.2):

    … for the most part, even visitors from the Slyme Pit engage rather than troll. I find disagreement useful.

    Indeed. Something from a Washington Supreme Court ruling on a rape case:

    (“[P]artisan advocacy on both sides of a case will best promote the ultimate objective that the guilty be convicted and the innocent go free.”).

    Which might reasonably be extended to “flawed arguments” and “sound arguments”.

    But thanks for giving some evidence that the rather egregious “mythologizing” of the Pit by some is rather misplaced if not actually intellectually dishonest, that not all of us – probably none of us – deserve even an implication that our names are “Marc Lepine” … ;-)


    1) “_http://www.courts.wa.gov/index.cfm?fa=controller.managefiles&filePath=Opinions&fileName=861455.pdf”;

  127. 127
    Steersman

    imnotandrei said:

    imnotandrei said: Considering I wasn’t asking one, answering a non-rhetorical question with a bunch of questions remains an evasive tactic.

    No, but I was. Which should have been evident.

    imnotandrei said: I do you the credit of trying to take you at your word; I know people who play with people’s hot-button issues for fun, so it’s not as if I was making up some new and unheard of trait.

    But inferring that I am doing so – and on diddly-squat in the way of evidence – looks rather like stereotyping – rather analogous to sexism and racism.

    You have low standards for a cookie if “expressing understanding” instead of “just hurling blame” qualifies.

    Rome wasn’t built in a day.

    [deleted -- several instances of Steersman praising his position as one of "balance" and the like. Including claims that "But I defended you people over there.]

    Since your implicit accusation was that I was only in this conversation to develop my rhetorical skills, it looks rather intellectually dishonest to reject any and all evidence adduced in support of the contrary opinion. Not very skeptical either, but then again I don’t recollect you indicating much support for that philosophy.

    And the funny thing is, you can often measure those events against externally-verifiable facts, and determine *which* is more accurate. Throwing up your hands and going “They’re both wrong” isn’t helpful.

    True. But maybe you can point out where I’ve done that.

    Steersman wrote: But, as indicated, I don’t think the prognosis for that happening is particularly good unless more people actually make some honest efforts to consider the arguments on the other side of the fence.

    Imnotandrei wrote: Well, it’s funny — when one of them says he was caught in a moral dilemma, because of arguments from both sides of the fence, and then chooses — he gets lambasted for it.

    And you seem to blame me for all of that – you apparently make me the scapegoat for all of those shots from other people. Not particularly honest of you, particularly where I quoted an explicit case of me suggesting some justification for his postion. But if that’s the “narrative” you wish to believe, then fine, go big, fill your boots.

    But all of this entire post, I’ll note, is a massive derail — you’re trying to buff up your “reasonable” credentials, and fail to address anything said to you other than a bit at the very end of my last comment. Do you have anything useful to say, or is this now entirely about you?

    I am in the process of dealing with those other points of yours which takes me no small amount of time and effort to do. You might want to consider that type of possibility before impatiently going off the deep-end with various unsupported and petulant accusations. However, I figured that that “rhetorical skills” comment was the most important issue on the table which took some effort to address.

    imnotandrei wrote: … often-condescendingly-footnoted verbiage.

    Most blogs automatically put comments into moderation if there is more than 2 or 3 – sometimes fewer – links. Why I use that footnote style.

  128. 128
    Matthew White

    It is of course not ‘illegal’ – people really need to realise that words actually have meanings (like ‘libel’ or ‘dueprocess’).

  129. 129
    Jesus Garcia

    PZ Meyers is a fat obnoxious toad. He has always been jealous of Michael Shermer because he makes more money than him. Did you know PZ is on video making a rape joke? Check you tube. PZ made a really creepy and unfunny joke about a person needing a bath after being raped. Also, PZ please update your blog photo. It is thirty years and thirty pounds of fat old.

  130. 130
    imnotandrei

    No, but I was. Which should have been evident.

    Had you written it better, perhaps it would have been.

    But inferring that I am doing so – and on diddly-squat in the way of evidence – looks rather like stereotyping – rather analogous to sexism and racism.

    It’s funny — your definition of “diddly-squat” is a truly idiosyncratic one. Indeed, just last post you said I’ll concede that I should have elaborated more than I did as the paucity of detail in the response certainly justifies making that inference.

    And “that inference” was that you were doing it for education only. Considering that you used several references to games, I fail to see why the one reference is “justified” while the other has “diddly-squat in the way of evidence.”

    You have low standards for a cookie if “expressing understanding” instead of “just hurling blame” qualifies.

    Rome wasn’t built in a day.

    Sorry, but “being less vile” still isn’t getting you a cookie from anyone but yourself.

    it looks rather intellectually dishonest to reject any and all evidence adduced in support of the contrary opinion. Not very skeptical either, but then again I don’t recollect you indicating much support for that philosophy.

    Let’s see what you deleted: I’ll accept your statement that you were being inartful at 5:00 A.M., since you say so. This leaves your motivations still open to question.

    So, I accepted your statement that you weren’t doing it for sport alone. And then deleted the evidence that you felt you needed — since I took you at your word.

    Throwing up your hands and going “They’re both wrong” isn’t helpful.

    True. But maybe you can point out where I’ve done that.

    Although given the number of crazies on each side, on all sides, sometimes it seems the wiser course of action. But my impression is that most everyone has some interesting and credible arguments but, frequently, other ones that are quite a bit more suspect – with the differences, I find, not always easy to discern: canons to the left of us and canons to the right … into the valley & etc. ….

    I will admit — it’s a bit hard to find it in so many words; mostly because you seem intent on pointing out where only one side is wrong — repeatedly — which makes your claim to standing in the middle again somewhat dubious.

    You did not, in fact, come out with all of this until *after* you had been repeatedly challenged; perhaps you should consider how that makes it look.

    And you seem to blame me for all of that – you apparently make me the scapegoat for all of those shots from other people.

    Well, considering you come in here presenting many of their arguments, perhaps a bit prettied up for popular consumption — the “it needs to be judged in a court of law”, the “Myers committed libel per se”, the “personal responsibility”, and so on — you do not do much of a job distinguishing yourself from them.

    You’re not a scapegoat — but when you make the same arguments, you can expect to get the same response.

    Not particularly honest of you, particularly where I quoted an explicit case of me suggesting some justification for his postion.

    If someone agreed with PZ Myers on all but one point, and expressed disagreement with that, and went out into the world saying “I’m balanced — I argued with Myers once!” how far do you think he would get?

    As I said before, expressing the possibility that Myers *might* have been right, if all the facts are in his favor, means that you’re not completely hardline. This does not get you a cookie.

    I am in the process of dealing with those other points of yours which takes me no small amount of time and effort to do. You might want to consider that type of possibility before impatiently going off the deep-end with various unsupported and petulant accusations.

    You know, I’d be a lot more impressed with your process if you hadn’t spent two posts on a little piece at the end of one article — the piece that directly discussed *you*.

    See above about “unsupported” accusations.

    So, we’ll see if you elect to remark on anything else. I look forward to it.

  131. 131
    Steersman

    imnotandrei:

    I’m still working on your previous comment, although I have to admit that tracking various sub-statements through several stages is getting rather tedious, confusing, and error prone. However, I have to respond to one comment in the above as I think it highlights part of the problem here. Maybe you’re just careless in reading what I’ve said, or just being argumentative, or maybe you’re just intellectually dishonest, but it really isn’t helping matters. Specifically, my comment and your response was:

    Steersman wrote: Rome wasn’t built in a day.

    Stephanie wrote: Sorry, but “being less vile” still isn’t getting you a cookie from anyone but yourself.

    But that was in response, through some torturous substages, to my orginal statement and a quote from “smhll” on “Almost Diamonds” – the link to which I provided but which you apparently didn’t bother following, specifically:

    Steersman wrote: … allow me present some countervailing evidence, starting with this rather welcome “cookie” from someone on “your” side which shows …

    Smhll wrote: And, though I hate to say it, +1 reading comprehension and +1 empathy points to Steersman ….

    Now maybe you people have some very idiosyncratic definition of cookies – maybe a 700 page manual somewhere – that specifies precisely where and how and to whom “cookies” can be given to which “allies” who have garnered so many attack and support points, but in my book “+1 reading comprehension and +1 empathy points” qualifies as a fucking cookie. Which should have been clear from the context for anybody with an ounce of honesty or integrity.

    However, considering the rather frosty if not actually acrimonious state of affairs between our two “sides”, I would say that “cookie” qualified as, potentially in any case, the first swallow of spring, if not the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. But I certainly wasn’t asking for any cookies from you, only pointing to something from someone else – apparently from “your” side – that most reasonable and rational people would normally consider qualified as a “cookie”.

    But that type of either picky horseshit, or obstinate refusal to consider the evidence placed in front of your face really doesn’t do much for your credibility.

    I’ll continue to work on those previous comments of yours as several seem to be of some importance, although I think I’ll discount or delete many of them as being rather disingenuous or argumentative red-herrings, or outright misinterpretations, intentional or otherwise. But as I do have other obligations, other irons in the fire, that might be a day or two.

    BTW, you might want to consider clearly indicating who is saying what in your responses; your method of quoting isn’t helping matters much.

  132. 132
    brive1987

    Well that’s a great definition of false dichotomy. Maybe Myers believes the woman AND also made a poor moral decision. Or is that too nuanced? Re your special,secret knowledge. Given you apparently don’t need to take this all on faith, wanna share? I mean we are only talking about the reputation of a man innocent in law ( though as steersman pointed out he may now be legally suspect till he can inspect said secret knowledge).

    You know, as PZ once said:

    I’ve been threatened with a false rape accusation, one that could have totally destroyed my career…
    If that woman had gone to the authorities (she didn’t, because I immediately brought in witnesses to make her effort futile) I would sure as hell hope they’d treat both of our positions with equal seriousness.

    3 points of interest:

    Drop the pretence PZ is simply warning Shermer and he faces only loosing a few FB. PZ knows exactly what bullets he is firing.

    PZ only survived because he was in a position to directly confront his accuser.

    When it suits him he hopes the world will “treat both of our positions with equal seriousness”.

    You couldn’t make this stuff up.

  133. 133
    Steersman

    brive1987 said:

    ( though as steersman pointed out he may now be legally suspect till he can inspect said secret knowledge).

    Definitely a confusing issue with all sorts of ambiguous nuances, and I had certainly been leaning very strongly in the direction you have suggested there. But the way you phrased it gave me an idea that may have clarified things a little. The law states (1):

    The four (4) categories of slander that are actionable per se are (i) accusing someone of a crime;

    And the Supreme Court ruling of 1964 had stipulated that (2):

    The second is that the plaintiff [apparently Shermer in this case] must establish the existence of a disprovable defamatory statement and must prove the falsity of that statement with convincing clarity.

    Which had led me to conclude, possibly in error, that what was required was the absolute proof, in this case, that Shermer had not raped “Jane Doe”. However, it might be the case that as far as the law is concerned someone isn’t guilty of a crime until they have actually been charged and convicted of the charge – entirely consistent with the “innocent until proven guilty” principle. In which case all Shermer would have to do is prove – as a matter of record – that he had not been charged, much less convicted.

    At which point the ball would be in Myers’ court. While he does apparently have a few possible defenses – proving the charge of rape, privilege, lack of malice – each of those may be somewhat problematic.

    —-
    1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defamation#Defamation_per_se”;
    2) “_http://scholarship.law.wm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2220&context=wmlr”;

  134. 134
    Steersman

    Ashley said:

    I think that the disagreement on this comes down to whether you think PZ is a good person trying to do the right thing or whether you find him to be completely untrustworthy.

    I’ll agree with you that much of the disagreement is predicated on beliefs that PZ either “did the right thing” or is “completely untrustworthy”. However, I think you and many others fail to realize that that is only one dimension of the issue, that there is another axis of disagreement, i.e., whether what he did justifies a charge of libel.

    It might well be the case that what he did was “the right thing” in a moral sense – something with which I have some sympathy – but it could also be entirely illegal. Or it could have been “the right thing” and legal. Or “untrustworthy” and legal. Or “trustworthy” and illegal.

    Not sure, but I think ignoring that other aspect, that other axis, isn’t particularly wise or skeptical.

  135. 135
    Fridge

    EVEN IF you know the person who made the original accusation and EVEN IF you believe them, PZ still accused someone who denies being a rapist of being a rapist.

    The legal aftion is GOING TO HAPPEN, because this is the real world, and in the real world, you just can’t go around doing things like that!

    Your firm beliefs in the truth of the accusation DO NOT CHANGE the fact PZ has made a foolish, potentially costly mistake.

  136. 136
    brive1987

    Steersman, it sounds like Shermer has to prove there was no rape (however you do that now) to prove defamation. Until he does that the character based (if not legal) allegation of rape will still be out there.

    As PZ points out such an allegation ( he wasn’t talking legally either) would ruin (his) career.

    In the court of popular opinion Shermer is screwed until proved innocent.

    I am sure PZ is thankful his accuser went to his face rather than used social media and influential proxies…..

    The rank hypocracy lies heavy here.

  137. 137
    ianc

    Yes F I was a bit inaccurate, Steersman and Ben have brought a considerable bag of truth with them.

  138. 138
    Steersman

    Whole bunch of definite maybes there, dependent largely on some fairly precise legal terms, the interpretation of which are generally beyond my skill and knowledge. And pay scale.

    However, as I argued above, consider the case IF Shermer had actually been charged and convicted of rape. In which case the “accusation”, the published statement, that he had done so would, apparently, not be libel because it would be a true statement. But absent the charge and conviction, the law apparently accepts, quite reasonably, that he is not guilty of the crime. In which case published statements to the contrary qualify as libel – per se; the ball is then in Myers’ court.

    My take on it anyway.

  139. 139
    brive1987

    True, legally it’s a mess. Per say libel in its definition incorporates “false claim”.

    When that claim is “rape” (which is both a legal conclusion and an action with different levels of proof) then you have a real chicken and egg situation.

    I think the argument from principle against PZ is a far less ambiguous slam dunk.

  140. 140
    Dave W

    Steersman @29.1: your take on it means Myers doesn’t get the same “innocent until proven guilty” standard that you’re insisting Shermer receive. If Shermer sues, Myers will be a defendant and thus require the same due process as all other defendants. The ball will not be in his court, but in the plaintiff’s court.

    “Disprovable” (as in “the existence of a disprovable defamatory statement”) means that the statement in question was not an opinion (“Shermer is a poopyhead” is an opinion, and so never defamatory), not (as you seem to think) that there’s a shift in the burden of proof.

    The “published statements” that are in question here boil down to “someone told me Shermer raped her.” If you think that statement is false and defamatory and that Myers should be held liable, it means that you think Myers lied about the “someone told me” part (or recklessly disregarded its veracity – hardly). Myers himself isn’t the originator of the rape claim (unless you think there’s convincing evidence that he made it all up).

    How often have newspapers been successfully sued for defamation over similar statements? “Sources close to public figure X say that X did Y,” where Y is some criminal activity? It’s quite a common formulation among journalists and reporters, who receive no special immunity against civil defamation suits compared to bloggers or anyone else.

  141. 141
    hjhornbeck

    He has always been jealous of Michael Shermer because he makes more money than him.

    Really? Then how do you explain that Myers has only written five posts about Shermer in the last two years, pre-allegations, none of which mention Shermer’s wealth?

    Did you know PZ is on video making a rape joke? Check you tube.

    I can’t find it. Do you have a link?

    Also, PZ please update your blog photo. It is thirty years and thirty pounds of fat old.

    On second thought, nevermind. If you can argue someone is fat, then in the same paragraph criticize them for having a photograph that doesn’t reflect the fact that they are no longer fat, it’s quite likely you’ve got no arguments worth considering.

  142. 142
    hjhornbeck

    However, I think you and many others fail to realize that that is only one dimension of the issue, that there is another axis of disagreement, i.e., whether what he did justifies a charge of libel.

    The problem is, I’ve seen no convincing argument that Myers has done anything wrong. To prove libel, you need to demonstrate one of the following:

    1. A person claimed a statement was true when they knew it was false, or
    2. A person demonstrated “actual malice” when publishing that statement.

    Look up the quoted term, and you’ll find it has nothing to do with wanting to do bad things, in a legal context; instead, the person making the statement must have reasonable doubts that the claim is false, doubts which they ignore. So to prove libel, Shermer has to show that either:

    1. Myers knew the accusation was false, or
    2. Myers held reasonable doubts about the accuracy of that accusation.

    Those are pretty tough to pull off, given what’s been made public. Myers claims to have done some investigation, with information he didn’t make public, and found the account held up. Others like Carrie Poppy have said they were reasonably convinced the account was true. You’re not allowed to include past bad behavior or false statements as being suggestive of motive, either, as libel only covers a specific statement. This means the entire SlymePit back-catalouge of horrible mean things that Myers said is almost entirely worthless, save any scraps that relate directly to the reprinting of those specific public accusations.

    There’s really only five people, that we know of, who could actually answer to the points above: Myers, Shermer, Poppy, the accuser, and the woman who was present shortly after the alleged incident. Everyone else is simply playing the odds, and right now they are not coming up in Shermer’s favour.

  143. 143
    Khantron, the alien that only loves

    in other words, the court assumes Shermer to be guilty until he manages to prove his innocence.

    How inconvenient that Shermer has to prove libel before successfully pursuing a libel lawsuit. Why can’t they just take his word as gospel in court?

  144. 144
    hjhornbeck

    Which had led me to conclude, possibly in error, that what was required was the absolute proof, in this case, that Shermer had not raped “Jane Doe”. However, it might be the case that as far as the law is concerned someone isn’t guilty of a crime until they have actually been charged and convicted of the charge – entirely consistent with the “innocent until proven guilty” principle. In which case all Shermer would have to do is prove – as a matter of record – that he had not been charged, much less convicted.

    Building on my previous comment, Shermer must demonstrate either that Myers knew the accusation was false, or had reasonable doubts of its accuracy. To defend himself, Myers must demonstrate the inverse. No, not that he was convinced of their accuracy beyond a reasonable doubt, because the inverse of “reasonable doubt of truth” is not “reasonable doubt of falsity.” No, Myers must instead show the accusation was plausibly true.

    Whether or not Shermer was charged of a crime is immaterial here, because it has nothing to do with the specific accusation. Remember, libel is narrow; you can spout lies all you want, but if you can demonstrate that on one particular claim you thought it was plausibly true, you’ll walk free if someone tried to sue you for libel over that claim.

    Whether Shermer was charged for this crime is more on target, but that assumes the majority of people who commit a crime are charged for said crime. All Myers has to do is point out that few perps of sexual assault are ever changed, and that line of attack evaporates.

  145. 145
    imnotandrei

    However, considering the rather frosty if not actually acrimonious state of affairs between our two “sides”, I would say that “cookie” qualified as, potentially in any case, the first swallow of spring, if not the tearing down of the Berlin Wall.

    I hate to break it to you, but that same thread was full of “If *Steersman* is the best they have to offer, how sad is that”, and the equivalent.

    So, congratulations; you got one person to say you’re not as bad as the people you tend to hang out with. Feel full of pride.

    I’ll continue to work on those previous comments of yours as several seem to be of some importance, although I think I’ll discount or delete many of them as being rather disingenuous or argumentative red-herrings, or outright misinterpretations, intentional or otherwise. But as I do have other obligations, other irons in the fire, that might be a day or two.

    As I said before, it speaks clearly to your priorities that comments that “seem to be of some importance” were put on the back burner, you spent three posts defending yourself from the results of your own sloppy statements about *yourself*, and fighting valiantly for your cookie.

  146. 146
    imnotandrei

    Drop the pretence PZ is simply warning Shermer and he faces only loosing a few FB. PZ knows exactly what bullets he is firing.

    PZ was never warning *Shermer*. He was warning people *about* Shermer.

    PZ only survived because he was in a position to directly confront his accuser.

    How you get that from the above, I don’t see. PZ “survived” because he had witnesses that made the false accusation clearly untrue. And you’ll notice said witnesses stopped someone going to the authorities — which *no one* here is doing.

    When it suits him he hopes the world will “treat both of our positions with equal seriousness”.

    If you read what you quoted, the “they” in your quote referred to the “authorities”. Not “the world”.

    You couldn’t make this stuff up.

    Well, you can’t make up the quote, but it’s clear *you* can make up the interpretation. ;)

  147. 147
    Jesus Garcia

    PZ Meyers rape joke. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mRXnKxWAKBE

  148. 148
    Jesus Garcia

  149. 149
    Jesus Garcia
  150. 150
    Who Cares

    Costly for whom?
    PZM? Possible pro bono representation, a noted free speech lawyer agreeing that PZM getting sued for what he wrote is wrong and arraigning contact with a first class lawyer specializing in such cases, as detailed in the grenade thread a very strong defense, bolstered by others coming out to corroborate what he wrote and if need be a defense fund that will be magnitudes greater then the attack fund Shermer is getting.
    Shermer? Aside from the attack fund he’s getting from people who (for whatever reason) accept his claim of innocence, he’s the one who has to pay the lawsuit.

    Further where do you have the inside knowledge that PZM is going to get sued by Shermer? The window on that is closing rapidly since PZM hasn’t taken down the grenade thread as demanded by Shermers lawyer. Wait to long and all PZM (or rather his lawyer) needs to do is point out the gap between demand and action to get a summary judgement dismissing the suit. Wait even longer and that dismissal can, this depends on the states law if it is possible, be part of a SLAPP counter lawsuit.

    And you can do things like this in the real world. The problem for Shermer is that he has behaved in such a manner that it is not implausible he has actually carried out what he has been accused of. Else said he is known to be a sleaze who you, if you were a woman, had to look out for. You don’t have to be lily white to avoid the accusation to stick but it doesn’t help if you have a reputation like Shermer has build up.
    And that is the biggest problem that the Shermer defenders have been avoiding. Shermer has a reputation, a bad reputation or else this would never have stuck. And unless his defenders can get that reputation bleached, which is not possible anymore at this point, the saying is; If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck it is most likely a duck.

  151. 151
    see_the_galaxy

    I hope you return to blogging here one day. Your thoughts are sorely missed.

  152. 152
    nathanaelnerode

    Primer on Shermer’s professional career.

    I first noticed Shermer when Shermer was employed by Scientific American in “The Skeptic” column. In this, he fairly often trashed ideas which have loads of experimental and observational evidence behind them — ones which I know about and which he hadn’t researched. Including being “skeptical” about anthropogenic global warming, and irrationally hostile to all massage therapy (of course, there are about 100 different types of massage, and several of them have loads of controlled studies demonstrating their effectiveness for specific problems — he ignores all of this).

    This did not make me think positively of him, but hey, everyone does stuff like that. He also intermittently promoted really stupid ideas, apparently in an attempt to be “controversial”, which is *always* a bad sign.

    I have no idea what else he did, apart from assaulting women, until I read Wikipedia.

    It seems he’s basically a self-promoter who used to be into extreme woo, overreacted when he quit, and had enough resources to start his own society.

    He originally trained as an experimental psychologist, and his actual field of study is “why people believe weird things” (the title of his fourth book), basically, but he’s gotten very “anecdotal” about his methods of study. Not that there’s anything wrong with that in the early, exploratory stages of a field of study, but his stuff is weak methodologically. By now this field should have moved on to Shere Hite’s level of qualitative rigor (which is underrated) and he’s not helping. Probably because it’s easier to keep doing the same schtick as long as he gets paid for it. This seems to happen with so many people who train as psychologists, starting with Freud.

  153. 153
    hjhornbeck

    Oh I see, you think that it is impossible to joke about rape. Not so. In this case, Myers is satirizing rape culture, by amplifying the way it trivializes assault to the point that assault has becomes a common, everyday occurrence. It’s much like Borat’s line about the hobbies in Kazakhstan, where assault is casually tossed in next to table tennis; no sensible human being would seriously consider the two equivalent, yet the way our culture trivializes assault makes the comparison plausible.

    I’ll give you points for including the context, though.

  154. 154
    Steersman

    imnotandrei / Stephanie:

    The following posts are some responses to your previous statements in #25.4.1. More to follow.

    Steersman: Whether there’s been previous discussion or not seems likely to be immaterial if it comes down to a question of a court case.

    imnotandrei: Yes, but right now what’s happening is a *discussion*. In which you are participating. So talking about what’s material in a court case or not is irrelevant.

    Yes, well everyone has an opinion. But, absent any facts, all of those are equally worth about dick-all. In which case endless talking about whether Myers is a “good person” or is “absolutely untrustworthy” looks rather much like “”Did too. Did not””. Rather like being in the realm of talking about angels on the heads of pins, or whether di-lithium or tri-lithium crystals give greater warp factors.

    I prefer most of my discussions to be ones likely to have tangible consequences and relevance to the real world which, again, depend heavily on the facts on the table. And, as far as I see it, the questions, and facts, related to the potential trial for libel qualify as trump.

    Steersman: However, most deductive logic ….

    imnotandrei: By the way — your semi-random footnoting of familiar concepts is hardly useful.

    Maybe to you. But maybe not to others. Rather arrogant – possibly based on a sense of, shall we say, privilege – to think otherwise, is it not? Since I’ll concede that you already know everything, they are generally for anyone else who wishes some elaboration on or corroboration of my points.

    Steersman: The legal reasoning you refer to seems to be more analogous to inductive logic – which tends to have any number of potential problems in its process of inferring common elements ….

    imnotandrei: Who was it who was worried about undercutting the legal system and letting in the barbarians again? ;) If the law is to be of any use, it must be an extensible system, to cover *new* situations. The classic argument “If X is wrong, then how much more is Y wrong?” is a form of extending the system.

    I’ll certainly agree with you that there are some benefits to having an “extensible system”. But extending a system doesn’t always or necessarily lead to workable, valid or ethical arrangements or conclusions. Analogously, extrapolation (1) “is subject to greater uncertainty and a higher risk of producing meaningless results”. Somewhat of a weak reed to be putting a lot of faith in. It, and even analogies themselves – Paley’s watchmaker analogy for example, need to be used with some caution.

    Steersman: Maybe it’s a strain, but I was trying to create an analogy, not just for the hell of it, but to make a point.

    imnotandrei: This does not speak to whether it was a good or a bad analogy.

    True. But making that rather general observation provides diddly-squat in the way of evidence on the question one way or the other. But then again, maybe “poisoning the well” is all you can manage.

    —-
    1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extrapolation#Quality_of_extrapolation”;

  155. 155
    Steersman

    imnotandrei / Stephanie:

    And some further responses to your #25.4.1; possibly more to follow:

    Steersman: Relative to which, Crommunist had a rather succinct expression of that not long ago: “Analogy is an excellent method of exposing inconsistencies in logic, which is an important component of refuting bad arguments.” ….

    imnotandrei: Ladies and gentlemen, trying to slip in the argument from (presumed) authority, under the guise of citing one’s sources! Step right up and take a gander.

    Christ. Are you now telling me you reject the utility of analogies? Rather difficult to insist on that, at least honestly, given your other comments about the technique. That I happen to quote someone from your camp who happens, as I said, to have come up with a fairly succinct, elegant, and cogent summary of the uses of analogies shouldn’t be the occasion to indulge in some disingenuous hyperskepticism through the citing of some entirely inapplicable logical fallacy (1). You might wish to actually play some close attention to the following which supports Crommunist’s view:

    Analogy (2) plays a significant role in problem solving such as, decision making, perception, memory, creativity, emotion, explanation and communication. It lies behind basic tasks such as the identification of places, objects and people, for example, in face perception and facial recognition systems. It has been argued that analogy is “the core of cognition”.

    Argument (3) from analogy is a special type of inductive argument, whereby perceived similarities are used as a basis to infer some further similarity that has yet to be observed. Analogical reasoning is one of the most common methods by which human beings attempt to understand the world and make decisions.

    And then ask yourself whether my quote was a case of appealing to an “argument from authority” or whether your response was a case of intellectual dishonesty.

    imnotandrei: Shermer is in no legal jeopardy; a woman reporting a rape who is receiving “the third degree” is in peril (as attested repeatedly) of being charged with false reporting. Similarly, Myers has no power to compel — unlike the justice system. Thirdly, may we point out that the people talking about this now *don’t* include Myers? That is hardly a “third degree”. And, finally, if you are going to apply your “innocent until proven guilty” standard, you should be defending Myers as vigorously as Shermer, for having done something a) less heinous, b) with a lower standard of proving “innocence”, and c) at significantly greater risk at this point.

    Maybe not in any legal peril, although the laws on libel seem to give some weight to the perils to one’s reputation, and to related possessions such as one’s profession and livelihood, caused by defamation. But considering that Myers said “I’ve been threatened with a false rape accusation, one that could have totally destroyed my career”, it seems rather disingenuous – being charitable – for him or his supporters to be suggesting that what might be a false accusation is not likely to be subjecting Shermer to any perils.

    As for “defending Myers”, I don’t think I’m really saying that he is guilty of libel, although the definition is rather ambiguous which makes that statement somewhat dubious, only that the description of “defamation per se” seems, depending on your interpretation of that term (4), to justify the contention that Myers is legally obliged to stand trial for that charge. I’ve also said that even if he is guilty it there seems to be a number of potential defenses against the application of related penalties.

    I think it is somewhat analogous to the recent Zimmerman-Traynor trial. That the former killed the latter was not in any dispute. The bone of contention was whether that killing constituted murder or self-defense. Analogously: killing is to libel as {murder/self-defense} is to {penalties/no-penalties}. Specifically and by one definition of the term “defamation per se” (4), Myers is “guilty” – on the face of it – of having libeled Shermer – the question is whether the courts will see any justification to levy any penalties or not.

    imnotandrei: That would be called “victim-blaming.” The shortcomings of the legal system are not going to be solved by the victims behaving differently, or taking more steps to avoid getting involved in the legal system.

    Ipse dixit. I think you might have the cart well in front of the horse. I thought the idea was to reduce the number of rapes. And if that is, in the short term at least, more effectively done by the application of a little bit of “personal responsibility” then it seems rather akin to cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face to throw stones at that particular solution.

    imnotandrei: Indeed, most steps that are alleging “a greater degree of personal responsibility” need to be taken are *gatekeepers* for the already messed-up system, going “Oh, that’s not even rape, they didn’t do X.

    Really? You have some actual evidence to justify that supposed correlation? And, in light of the fact that “correlation is not causation”, when you get around to providing evidence of that correlation, maybe you could also provide evidence of a common causation. I await its provision with bated breath.

    Steersman: Or that they required abandoning or questioning philosophical precepts that they were inordinately attached to.

    imnotandrei: For example?

    Seems to me that your aversion to considering the curative benefits of “personal responsibility” is a rather stark example of that. But I would be more than willing to discuss and provide examples of others, although I would prefer to address that one first.

    Steersman: Or that they required technology they were unprepared to consider the ramifications of.

    imnotandrei: For example?

    Bit of a long shot (5) with any number of “flies in the ointment”, but some female blogger (I think) had suggested something similar to it earlier – as I have indicated.

    —–
    1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_authority”;
    2) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analogy”;
    3) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_Analogy;”
    4) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defamation#Defamation_per_se”;
    5) “_http://anthonybsusan.wordpress.com/2013/08/18/extraordinary-nonsense/#comment-1284”;

  156. 156
    pneumo

    I’m starting to wonder if he HAS lawyers. If so, he doesn’t seem to be listening to them.

  157. 157
    Steersman

    hjhornbeck said (#26….):

    The problem is, I’ve seen no convincing argument that Myers has done anything wrong. To prove libel, you need to demonstrate one of the following ….

    I think you might be confusing the difference between a potentially illegal act, and the defenses against a charge that it has occurred, although I could be mistaken as well since the language and definitions are a little obscure.

    However, it seems that the definition of “defamation per se” (1) is that it is deemed to have occurred whenever someone asserts that someone else has committed a crime:

    The four categories of slander that are actionable per se are (i) accusing someone of a crime

    But there are several defenses against that charge, including proving that the act has occurred, as well as privilege and absence of malice.

    It is, as I argued above, rather analogous to the recent Zimmerman-Traynor trial. That the former killed the latter was not in any dispute. The bone of contention was whether that killing constituted murder or self-defense. Analogously: killing is to libel as {murder/self-defense} is to {penalties/no-penalties}. Specifically and by one definition of the term “defamation per se” (1), Myers is “guilty” – on the face of it – of having libeled Shermer – the question is whether the courts will see any justification to levy any penalties or not.

    Basically in the Zimmerman-Traynor trial there was a dead body without any guilt attached to it, and in the potential Myers-Shermer one there is an act of libel, likewise with no inherent guilt attached. In the first case the courts ruled that there was a justifiable reason for that dead body – self defense – whereas in the second case the courts may or may not rule that there was a justifiable reason for the act of libel, and assess penalties accordingly.

    —-
    1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defamation#Defamation_per_se”;

  158. 158
    Steersman

    Dave W said (#29.1.2):

    Steersman @29.1: your take on it means Myers doesn’t get the same “innocent until proven guilty” standard that you’re insisting Shermer receive. If Shermer sues, Myers will be a defendant and thus require the same due process as all other defendants. The ball will not be in his court, but in the plaintiff’s court.

    I don’t see it that way as Myers still would have the option of defending himself. If he was already deemed guilty then there wouldn’t be any need for a trial. You might want to take a close look at the article on defamation (1), in particular the section on defenses against a charge that statements were defamatory which starts off with this:

    Even if a statement is defamatory, there are circumstances in which such statements are permissible in law.

    They wouldn’t be talking about defenses by the defendant if the ball was entirely in the plaintiff’s court.

    However, as I indicated above with my analogy to the Zimmerman-Traynor trial, in that case someone had been killed and someone else was guilty or responsible for that act, but the judgement was self-defense and not murder – actions with two very different sets of consequences. Similarly with the potential Myers-Shermer one: the accusation of rape is, apparently, libelous per se, but the judgement and penalites are, apparently, very much of an open question.

    —–
    1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defamation#Defenses”;

  159. 159
    Steersman

    While I realize that there are two different groups of people in these cases, I find it rather amusing, and quite telling, that you can provide a long song-and-dance routine to justify Myers’ quite explicit “rape joke” yet more than a few others here are up-in-arms and ready to light torches and break out the pitchforks to attack a mocking reference to the wine-glass scenario that didn’t even mention the word “rape” or allude to it in any way.

    Class acts all around.

  160. 160
    Dave W

    Steersman:

    They wouldn’t be talking about defenses by the defendant if the ball was entirely in the plaintiff’s court.

    In any trial, the defendant has the option of mounting an “affirmative defense,” but that doesn’t mean that the burden of proof isn’t still on the plaintiff/prosecution. It seems to me that having an affirmative defense means the case is much less likely to see an actual trial begin, because the case will be dismissed at an earlier stage. I’m sure you’ll recall that the authorities didn’t even want to charge Zimmerman with a crime at first.

    Similarly, if Shermer ever gets around to actually filing his threatened lawsuit, I expect that Myers will answer with a motion to summarily dismiss the case with prejudice (and perhaps sanctions), because his potential affirmative defenses (especially the lack of actual malice) would suggest that Shermer won’t be able to prevail at trial. But Myers wouldn’t be obligated to file any such motion, it’s simply a way to avoid a the much-higher consumption of time and money that is a trial. The idea of the ball being in someone’s court implies an obligation to act that wouldn’t exist here.

  161. 161
    hjhornbeck

    more than a few others here are up-in-arms and ready to light torches and break out the pitchforks to attack a mocking reference to the wine-glass scenario that didn’t even mention the word “rape” or allude to it in any way.

    I see you haven’t paid attention to the multiple people telling you this is a common date-rape scenario. Perhaps you’ll listen to some science instead?

    Study 1 participants (N = 62) consumed a moderate alcohol dose or nonalcoholic beverage, then rated their awareness of and discomfort with sexual assault risk cues in a hypothetical encounter with a new or established dating partner. Study 2 (N = 351) compared control, placebo, low, and high alcohol dose conditions using a similar scenario. Intoxicated women reported decreased awareness of and discomfort with risk cues. An established relationship decreased discomfort ratings. Findings indicate that alcohol may increase women’s sexual victimization likelihood through reduced sexual assault risk perception.

    Davis, Kelly Cue, et al. “Women’s Awareness of and Discomfort With Sexual Assault Cues Effects of Alcohol Consumption and Relationship Type.” Violence against women 15.9 (2009): 1106-1125.

    The samples were collected from a complainant within 12 h of an alleged incident in 391 of the 1014 cases analysed. Of these, the majority (81%) contained alcohol. The presence of alcohol itself was not surprising as most of the alleged incidents were associated with social situations such as at a public house, bar, night-club or party, where it is expected that alcohol would have been consumed. However, 233 (60%) of the 391 cases had a high back-calculated figure, where high is defined as greater than 150 milligrams per 100 millilitres (150 mg%). Some of these samples were also found to contain illicit drugs. This is the first paper to our knowledge which discusses in detail the significance of the alcohol concentrations found in cases of this type.

    Scott-Ham, Michael, and Fiona C. Burton. “A study of blood and urine alcohol concentrations in cases of alleged drug-facilitated sexual assault in the United Kingdom over a 3-year period.” Journal of clinical forensic medicine 13.3 (2006): 107-111.

    There. Evidence that alcohol can be used to soften up victims, and evidence this tactic is used in the wild. Now will you listen?

    I find it rather amusing, and quite telling, that you can provide a long song-and-dance routine to justify Myers’ quite explicit “rape joke”

    Good humour punches up the power gradient; it’s funny when the weak poke at the strong, but bullying when the strong poke at the weak. Myers was making fun of culture, Emery was making fun of victims. There is no “song and dance” here, unless you consider a long, patient discussion of a basic concept, in the hope of overcoming someone’s preexisting bias, to qualify as one.

  162. 162
    imnotandrei

    You can just use “imnotandrei”; that’s fine.

    But, absent any facts, all of those are equally worth about dick-all.

    And here we go *again*. with the “there are no facts”. There are plenty of facts — just not the specific facts you *want*.

    PZ Myers reported an allegation — that is a fact. Michael Shermer’s lawyer has written a legal letter in response — that is a fact. The laws regarding defamation, the court opinions regarding the “actual malice” standard — these are facts.

    I prefer most of my discussions to be ones likely to have tangible consequences and relevance to the real world which, again, depend heavily on the facts on the table.

    Well, then, Steersman, you’re out of luck here; the only tangible consequences and relevance to the real world these discussions are likely to have are in the minds of people reading it — people who also don’t have the facts — and on the reputations of the people doing the arguing. *Nothing* we say here is likely to affect Michael Shermer’s decision to press suit or not, Myers’ defenses to said, etc.

    imnotandrei: By the way — your semi-random footnoting of familiar concepts is hardly useful.

    Steersman: Maybe to you. But maybe not to others. Rather arrogant – possibly based on a sense of, shall we say, privilege – to think otherwise, is it not? Since I’ll concede that you already know everything, they are generally for anyone else who wishes some elaboration on or corroboration of my points.

    Did you read the “semi-random” up there? If you footnoted every significant new idea, that would be one thing; however, the only rhyme or reason I can find in what you choose to footnote is the implication that the person you’re talking to doesn’t understand such concepts as “deductive reasoning”, “war profiteer”, etc.

    imnotandrei: This does not speak to whether it was a good or a bad analogy.

    Steersman: True. But making that rather general observation provides diddly-squat in the way of evidence on the question one way or the other. But then again, maybe “poisoning the well” is all you can manage.

    I notice you omitted the parts of the comments above in which I have commented on *why* it was a bad analogy. The statement itself doesn’t provide much evidence, but let’s see:

    imnotandrei: Actually, no; I balk at it because it is a drastically oversimplified analogy. The usefulness of an analogy to point out logical errors is contingent upon how well it represents the case.

    Steersman: But each of those cases is highly contingent on the credibility of the testimony of Jane Doe: if it passes the test then Shermer IS guilty (probably) of victimizing Jane, AND Myers is NOT guilty of victimizing Shermer. But if Jane’s testimony doesn’t pass that test then Shermer is (probably) NOT guilty of victimizing Jane, AND Myers IS guilty of victimizing Shermer.

    imnotandrei: See above in re: legal-value gaps. I will also note that you are slipping once more your notion of a “test” of Jane Doe’s credibility; pray, tell, what standard were you thinking of using for that test? (Quick clue: the same standard does not apply in both cases. Implying that it does either makes Shermer appear far more at risk than he actually is of being “falsely convicted”, or makes Myers seem far more careless than he actually was. In either event, the following judgment is incorrect, and speaks to your motives in placing both cases under one umbrella.)

    That’s from a few paragraphs below the one you just cited.

    I’m afraid I have this useful thing in my web-browser, Steersman, called a scroll-bar, and it lets me look at posts from a few days ago. So, when you start eliminating large swathes of my arguments and claiming I lack evidence, I’m capable of bringing it back.

    I also note that you once again appear obsessed with defending the *form* of your arguments, and the external structure, rather than addressing any of the “facts, related to the potential trial for libel” that you prize so highly, instead arguing about footnotes and quotes about analogies.

    Given that we just spent 3 posts talking about “cookies”, and now you’re trying to defend your footnotes, it really makes me wonder about what you think of the supposed content of your posts, and how defensible *that* is.

  163. 163
    hjhornbeck

    Pardon me for jumping in, but:

    Specifically and by one definition of the term “defamation per se” (4), Myers is “guilty” – on the face of it – of having libeled Shermer – the question is whether the courts will see any justification to levy any penalties or not.

    Incorrect. For some reason, an editor on Wikipedia linked “per se” to “illegal per se.” Those two aren’t identical; “per se” simply means “without evidence,” nothing more. Here’s the relevant section of Wikipedia, which you keep referring us to:

    The four (4) categories of slander that are actionable per se are (i) accusing someone of a crime; (ii) alleging that someone has a foul or loathsome disease; (iii) adversely reflecting on a person’s fitness to conduct their business or trade; and (iv) imputing serious sexual misconduct. Here again, the plaintiff need only prove that someone had published the statement to any third party. No proof of special damages is required.

    Emphasis mine. The person writing that paragraph said that those four categories are actionable per se, not illegal per se, which means that in this case Shermer doesn’t have to prove he was damaged by the remarks.

    That’s it. Shermer is still obligated to prove Myers made a statement he knew was false, or had reasonable doubts was false, and that’s a tough bar to hit.

  164. 164
    Jackie

    You’re a lying liar, Garcia and a fat-shaming, ageist one as well. Go find a nice rock to stay under.

  165. 165
    Jackie

    It’s the difference between punching up and punching down. The difference is easy to see, if you aren’t incredibly motivated not to see it.

  166. 166
    imnotandrei

    Christ. Are you now telling me you reject the utility of analogies?

    No; I was pointing out that repeatedly citing Crommunist as the source for your quote is a way of saying “See! Someone on your side said this! You can’t argue with it.”

    That’s why I referred to you “slipping in the argument from authority.”

    That I happen to quote someone from your camp who happens, as I said, to have come up with a fairly succinct, elegant, and cogent summary of the uses of analogies shouldn’t be the occasion to indulge in some disingenuous hyperskepticism through the citing of some entirely inapplicable logical fallacy (1).

    When you make a point of mentioning his name more than once, rather than footnoting, as you do? And when you have already demonstrated a willingness to use a wide variety of other rhetorical tricks, manipulations, and the like, it’s not hyperskepticism at this point to question your motives for doing things.

    You then go on to give two quotes “supporting” Crommunist’s point, ignoring the fact that I didn’t argue with it.

    Maybe not in any legal peril, although the laws on libel seem to give some weight to the perils to one’s reputation, and to related possessions such as one’s profession and livelihood, caused by defamation. But considering that Myers said “I’ve been threatened with a false rape accusation, one that could have totally destroyed my career”, it seems rather disingenuous – being charitable – for him or his supporters to be suggesting that what might be a false accusation is not likely to be subjecting Shermer to any perils.

    No one has pressed a charge against Shermer; indeed, the original source said they were not. interested in doing so. So, no, he’s not in any legal peril. And it was to *legal* peril I was speaking, so talking about what other sort of damages Shermer is suffering is irrelevant to the original point — which was the so-called “third degree” Shermer was supposedly being given.

    As for “defending Myers”, I don’t think I’m really saying that he is guilty of libel, although the definition is rather ambiguous which makes that statement somewhat dubious, only that the description of “defamation per se” seems, depending on your interpretation of that term (4), to justify the contention that Myers is legally obliged to stand trial for that charge. I’ve also said that even if he is guilty it there seems to be a number of potential defenses against the application of related penalties.

    You see, Steersman, every time there’s something that might exculpate Shermer, you mention it — everything that might increase his “victimhood”, his likelihood of prevailing in court, etc. Anything that makes Myers look *worse*, you include it, relevant or not, and repeat it. So, there is a clear difference in your treatment, indeed, a *large* difference. So my charge, that if you insist on your standard of “innocent until proven guilty”, you are failing to show the same deference to Myers that you do to Shermer.

    (As an aside, this is at least the 6th or so time that you’ve footnoted defamation per se, including more than once to me; really, you don’t need to keep doing it.)

    Your repeated misreading of the law is becoming humorous, by now. Because the “defenses” are not against suffering penalties from being found guilty, they are against being found guilty at all.

    I think it is somewhat analogous to the recent Zimmerman-Traynor trial.

    To spare you further embarassment: that would be the trial of Zimmerman, on charges of murdering Trayvon Martin.

    Specifically and by one definition of the term “defamation per se” (4), Myers is “guilty” – on the face of it – of having libeled Shermer – the question is whether the courts will see any justification to levy any penalties or not.

    No. The charge against Zimmerman was not “killing Trayvon Martin”, it was murder. He was found not guilty of murder. Similarly, if Myers is not found to have possessed “actual malice”, then he will be *not guilty* of libel. Not “Guilty but we decided not to punish him.”

    imnotandrei: That would be called “victim-blaming.” The shortcomings of the legal system are not going to be solved by the victims behaving differently, or taking more steps to avoid getting involved in the legal system.

    Steersman: Ipse dixit. I think you might have the cart well in front of the horse. I thought the idea was to reduce the number of rapes. And if that is, in the short term at least, more effectively done by the application of a little bit of “personal responsibility” then it seems rather akin to cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face to throw stones at that particular solution.

    OK. Thank you for coming out and flying your victim-blaming flag high, and establishing yourself firmly on the side of the patriarchy. At least now we know for sure. (Not that there was that much doubt, but…)

    There are two arguments here:
    1) By putting the responsibility for avoiding being raped upon the victims, you are reducing the responsibility of potential rapists. You are also establishing a position whereby it can be said “Oh, you didn’t fulfill your responsibility, so this isn’t a real crime!” — as per my gatekeeper comment below. And that happens *all* the time; it is a standard defense tactic in rape trials to allege “Oh, but she didn’t say no more than once.”, “Oh, but she’s a slut, and my client knew that”, “Oh, but look at how she was dressed — she was asking for it.” There’s a *reason* rape convictions are so low, and one big part of it is that once you start assigning responsibilities to the victim, it becomes *vastly* harder to convict anyone.

    2) The other part of this is you are now, in effect, saying “It’s more important to protect men’s reputations than women’s freedoms” — because by saying it’s not OK to warn people about potential rapists (absent a court ruling that turns them from “potential” into “rapists under law”) but it’s OK to tell women “Well, you can be safe if you don’t go to bars and drink!”, that’s what you’re doing.

    Sure, in the short term, women could reduce the number of rapes by locking themselves in their homes. That doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do, helpful in the long term, or helpful in this case.

    Seems to me that your aversion to considering the curative benefits of “personal responsibility” is a rather stark example of that.

    Then address what’s above. Though I do find it amusing that you don’t seem to consider the possibility that *you* might be “inordinately attached” to philosophical precepts — that, instead, your answer to the problem consists of other people changing their minds.

    (As a side note — your original “I kind of get the impression that more than a few” comes across as more than a bit disingenous when it turns out that more than one of them is from *yourself*.)

  167. 167
    imnotandrei

    The bone of contention was whether that killing constituted murder or self-defense. Analogously: killing is to libel as {murder/self-defense} is to {penalties/no-penalties}.

    Your analogy here is flawed.

    Killing:making statements that imputes criminal behavior to someone::murder:libel

    If Myers is found to have a valid defense in a libel trial, he did not libel Shermer, in the eyes of the law.
    No matter what happened in that courtroom, Zimmerman killed Martin.

    Got it?

    Indeed, here’s another way of looking at it: Anyone can write, without fear of libel, that Zimmerman killed Martin. Anyone will always be able to write that.

    If Myers prevails in a trial (if it even gets to trial), writing “Myers criminally libeled Shermer” will be, itself, libel. Writing “Myers posted statements that alleged criminal behavior on Shermer’s part” will never be libel.

  168. 168
    Ashley F. Miller

    The confusion here seems to be a conflation of “write something damaging about” and “libel” — PZ certainly did the first, but that does not mean he did the second. It cannot be called libel if it is true; and, in the US, it cannot be called libel if it was printed with a belief in its truth.

  169. 169
    philboidstudge

    I wasn’t aware of the MS Legal Defense Fund until this post. Just gave $10.

    Thank you !

  170. 170
    pneumo

    Seriously, is that all it is worth to you?

  171. 171
    hjhornbeck

    You mean like how Steersman confuses “per se” with “illegal per se”? Or how he claims no-one is doubting the victim’s story? Both are evident in this very thread, in fact.

  172. 172
    Steersman

    I’ll admit to having been confused about the implications and meanings of “per se” – and I still find it somewhat ambiguous, and question some of your interpretations of it as well.

    However, me claiming that “no-one is doubting the victim’s story”? That I rather doubt as I’ll readily concede, and have conceded, that many, possibly with some justification, do so. However, while I think many people are being rather hyperskeptical in doubting all aspects of her story as I think that many elements of it are certainly quite plausible, I also think it is quite reasonable to hold some doubt about the central element of it, i.e., the accusation that she had been raped. Considering that the “best guesstimate” for false rape charges – as recently discussed by Dana Hunter – is something like 5%, one might reasonably ask whether that number – even before asking about the specifics of the case described by that “anonymous”, sorry, “unnamed” individual – is above or below the threshold of “beyond a reasonable doubt”.

  173. 173
    brive1987

    I’m sure even you know you are spinning like a top with that response.

    The FtB narrative has been that Shermer does not face more than a slap on wrist from this exercise. PZ’s own words demonstrates this is ‘disingenuous’ at best.

    PZ survived because the claim was specified enough that he could directly defend himself. He seems rather please too that this was the case. A benefit he chose not extended to Shermer by going public with the least specific account possible. Boo PZ.

    PZ then calls upon some form of equivalency: “both sides seriously”. He seems pretty keen on the rights of the accusee here, no? The PZ approach with Shermer has ensured the only “authorities” doing the judging now are the horde. I am sure Shermer would like very much, thank you, the opportunity to defend himself properly with the info required and with his version accorded “equal seriousness”. How about we give him that chance?

  174. 174
    Steersman

    hjhornbeck said (#30.1…):

    hjhornbeck: I see you haven’t paid attention to the multiple people telling you this is a common date-rape scenario. Perhaps you’ll listen to some science instead?

    What scenario? Some guy ensuring that some gal’s wine-glass is never empty? And that justifies you apparently concluding that it is always necessarily a case of rape in the offing? Looks like a serious and highly problematic case of stereotyping and profiling to me. Filling wine-glass therefore rapist.

    Same sort of rather deluded and unskeptical attitude manifested by Rebecca – Skepchick (ha!) – Watson’s assertion (1) that “drunk sex is rape”. No qualifications, no consideration of extenuating circumstances or facts; just another imperious Papal Encyclical. Although one is gratified to learn (2) that not everyone on your “side” is buying into that dogma:

    M.A. Melby: If someone is simply drunk (but not out-of-it or confused or down-right incapacitated) and “positively cooperates” – what Christina and others have coined as “enthusiastic consent” – that is not rape.

    But thanks for the links to the studies which look quite interesting, although I’ll have to put reading them in full on the back-burner for a bit. However, this conclusion of yours is very highly suspect:

    hjhornbeck: There. Evidence that alcohol can be used to soften up victims, and evidence this tactic is used in the wild. Now will you listen?

    Can. Not necessarily is. Seems to me that you are again inferring the guilt of some individual based on the similarities between two quite different sets of individuals. Driving while black. Flying while Arab. Pouring wine while male. Christ.

    hjhornbeck: Good humour punches up the power gradient; it’s funny when the weak poke at the strong, but bullying when the strong poke at the weak.

    I think it is more appropriate to characterize that as “in-group morality, out-group hostility”. One of the characteristic attributes (3) of group-think and of cults.

    Rather than “privileging” the weak at the expense of the strong – JFK said you can’t strengthen the weak by weakening the strong, you might want to consider giving some thought – you know, using that piece of hardware inside our skulls – to which position is actually right. Regardless of which camp the assertion comes from.

    —–
    1) “_http://skepchick.org/2012/12/twitter-users-sad-to-hear-they-may-be-rapists/”;
    2) “_http://anthonybsusan.wordpress.com/2013/08/14/opting-out/#comment-1234”;
    3) “_https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groupthink#Symptoms”;

  175. 175
    imnotandrei

    I apologize in advance, somewhat, brive1987, because you’re going to get two barrels full of outrage that people like Steersman, doug on Al Stefanelli’s blog, and the Prussian over on SkepticInk have been loading over the past week+, but I have hit my last straw, and I don’t actually blog by myself, so I can’t post it on my own.

    First, some responses to you:

    The FtB narrative has been that Shermer does not face more than a slap on wrist from this exercise.

    A) There is no unified FtB narrative.

    B) There is a huge gap between “No one is advocating throwing him in jail” and “He should get a slap on the wrist”. That you don’t see this suggests that your own rotation is confusing you about other people’s. ;)

    PZ survived because the claim was specified enough that he could directly defend himself. He seems rather please too that this was the case

    I note the use of the word “survived” here. Simply to further highlight your spinning.

    PZ then calls upon some form of equivalency: “both sides seriously”. He seems pretty keen on the rights of the accusee here, no?

    When dealing with the police, and the criminal justice system, as Myers *explicitly* said he was talking about, yes. As do I. As, so far, does everyone on FtB, when it comes to the law.

    The PZ approach with Shermer has ensured the only “authorities” doing the judging now are the horde

    1) Actually, anyone who reads him; which is not, clearly, limited to “the horde”.
    2) Well, last time I checked, “the horde” didn’t have the power to lock Shermer up. Or, even, get him fired. I haven’t even heard of “the horde” swamping his inbox with memes and harassing email and spamming his twitter, for heaven’s sake, something that people opposed to some of the FtB folks seem to think is perfectly acceptable — a joke, or “if you can’t stand the heat….”

    So, considering that so far — unless you can present specific evidence otherwise — the consequences to Shermer have been less significant than the consequence of Blogging While Feminist (or even Female) for some people, I’m not terribly worried about the horrors judging by “the horde” can produce.

    I am sure Shermer would like very much, thank you, the opportunity to defend himself properly with the info required and with his version accorded “equal seriousness”. How about we give him that chance?

    I’m sure he would. And if it weren’t for the efforts of thousands of men over years and years and years, he might even have gotten it.

    Someone else spoke of poisoned wells earlier — it might even have been you.

    Shermer is suffering, right now, the results of the well being poisoned for *centuries* — by people whose attitude towards those claiming rape is “Prove it beyond a reasonable doubt or it didn’t happen!” “What did you do to provoke it?” “Why should we believe you?”, “Look, here’s the accuser’s sex life, let’s go over it with a fine-toothed comb!” and so on, and so on, and so forth. It’s been poisoned by sexual harassers, misogynists, and rape denialists.

    Because I suspect you realize that the first thing that would happen, if the woman came forward, is that she would become the focus of the investigation — *she* would be the one whose guilt or innocence was being judged, based on standards that she doesn’t believe (as many rape victims do) she can manage to pull off.

    So, you know what? Shermer’s suffering a lack of opportunity because countless women have suffered a much larger lack of opportunity, been victimized all over again by the process, and choose not to participate in a rigged game according to the rules you choose to set up.

    You complained about how the authorities “doing the judging are the horde”? Were she to come forward, the “authorities” doing the judging would be all the people predisposed to disbelieve her. After all, we know at least one person, respected enough to blog on SkepticInk, who dismissed her claims (if he even acknowledges her existence) because of who she chose to report them. Given that, how much evidence would she need to bring to convince you otherwise?

    If Michael Shermer did nothing wrong, I feel sorry for him. But the blame for his situation lies not with the people who are using the only tools they find effective to protect themselves (and those like them) but the people who have forced the victims into said corners. He may be the martyr who is suffering because thousands of men want to be able to get women drunk and fuck them without their enthusiastic consent. He may be the martyr suffering because thousands of men don’t want to have to think too hard about consent. He may be the martyr suffering because defense lawyers for generations have gone, “Did you have a drink with him?” or “Don’t you often have sex at conventions?” or “How many times did you say no?”

    But he’s a victim of those men. Point your outrage, your rhetorical tricks, and your efforts at *them*.

  176. 176
    imnotandrei

    . Considering that the “best guesstimate” for false rape charges – as recently discussed by Dana Hunter – is something like 5%, one might reasonably ask whether that number – even before asking about the specifics of the case described by that “anonymous”, sorry, “unnamed” individual – is above or below the threshold of “beyond a reasonable doubt”.

    And, has been explained to you more than once, *we* don’t need to use the standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt”. The *state* does, if it wants to convict someone of a crime and deprive them of liberties and rights.

    Even a civil case, were person X to sue person Y for damages resulting from a “rape”, requires only “a preponderance of the evidence.”

    And if there were enough evidence to make something 95% likely, that would definitely be a preponderance of the evidence.

    Please note I’m not saying “So, rape victims should just sue their alleged rapists, instead of prosecuting them” — but throwing around the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard for something that isn’t a criminal trial? As has been pointed out to you before — not helpful.

  177. 177
    imnotandrei

    Thank you, Ashley, and I hope I’m not causing your inbox to explode with my arguments with Steersman and brive. ;)

  178. 178
    Jackie

    It’s only costly if you think my safety is worthless because I’m a woman.
    Duly noted.
    PZ has recognized the hits his career may take and has found the price to be well worth it.
    I know you don’t understand his choice.
    But I do and I appreciate the hell out of it.

  179. 179
    Jackie

    Steersman, stop playing stupid. We are all well aware of what your real stupid looks like and can tell the difference.

  180. 180
    Jackie

    Cool story, bro.
    Why don’t you pop over and give a little to the Steubenville football team and the Catholic Church while your at it?

  181. 181
    Steersman

    Typical: no attempt made to refute an argument, just a cheap insult – ableist, one might argue – leveled in an attempt to dismiss it. People with some actual and real commitment to skepticism are unlikely to be impressed by such antics.

  182. 182
    Steersman

    imnotandrei:

    Steersman: The bone of contention was whether that killing constituted murder or self-defense. Analogously: killing is to libel as {murder/self-defense} is to {penalties/no-penalties}.

    inmotandrei: Your analogy here is flawed.

    Killing:making statements that imputes criminal behavior to someone::murder:libel

    Ok, I’ll concede the point; yours is the more accurate analogy. I went off the rails on the interpretation and understanding of the phrase (1) “… categories of slander that are actionable per se are (i) accusing someone of a crime ….” Which hinges on (2):

    Wikipedia: In the law, a cause of action is a set of facts sufficient to justify a right to sue to obtain money, property, or the enforcement of a right against another party ….

    So then you’ll agree that Shermer has a “justified right to sue” Myers for libel over that accusation?

    —-
    1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defamation#Defamation_per_se”;
    2) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Actionable”;

  183. 183
    Steersman

    Ashley:

    Ashley: The confusion here seems to be a conflation of “write something damaging about” and “libel” — PZ certainly did the first, but that does not mean he did the second.

    Agreed; my mistake, mea culpa, shoot me at dawn. However, as I noted above, the specifics of that “write something damaging …” seems to justify the right to sue for libel.

    Ashley: It cannot be called libel if it is true; and, in the US, it cannot be called libel if it was printed with a belief in its truth.

    I’ll agree with the first part, although who, or whether anyone, would be obliged to prove the truth of that assertion, and how easy that would be, would seem to be rather moot and quite problematic. However, I’m not sure that the second part is entirely applicable in this case. Specifically, this (1) stipulates what is necessary for the plaintiff to provel libel:

    Wikipedia, Defamation: There are several ways a person must go about proving that libel has taken place. For example, in the United States, the person must prove that the statement was false, caused harm, and was made without adequate research into the truthfulness of the statement. These steps are for an ordinary citizen. For a celebrity or a public official, the person must prove the first three steps and that the statement was made with the intent to do harm or with reckless disregard for the truth, which is usually specifically referred to as “proving malice”.

    And the article on malice (2) has something to say about “a belief in [a statement’s] truth]”:

    Wikipedia: Actual malice in United States law is a condition required to establish libel against public officials or public figures and is defined as “knowledge that the information was false” or that it was published “with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.” Reckless disregard does not encompass mere neglect in following professional standards of fact checking. The publisher must entertain actual doubt as to the statement’s truth.

    Now the implications and consequences of that “entertain actual doubt” might be open to dispute and debate, but Myers’ “Grenade” post (3) seems quite clearly to express some doubt:

    Myers: … do I shelter the powerful big name guy from an accusation I can’t personally vouch for …. I will again emphasize, though, that I have no personal, direct evidence that the event occurred as described ….

    By that token, it would seem that if he had expressed no doubts at all – if he had been able to say on the witness stand, “I fully believed in the truth of those statements from that unnamed person, so help me God” – then he might have had a defense. Otherwise it looks a little iffy.

    And, to kill to two birds with one stone, or to address two points with one comment, relative to the possible legal perils that Myers’ accusation apparently puts Shermer in, I note the following (4):

    Wikipedia: Conversely, a typical defense to defamation is that the statements are opinion. One of the major tests to distinguish whether a statement is fact or opinion is whether the statement can be proved true or false in a court of law. If the statement can be proved true or false, then, on that basis, the case will be heard by a jury to determine whether it is true or false.

    By which token one might argue that were Myers to insist that the accusation was fact then the court might decide to impose some trial by jury which might then entail some fairly serious consequences for Shermer should the judgement be that the accusation was true.

    ——-
    1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defamation#Truth”;
    2) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Actual_malice”;
    3) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/08/08/what-do-you-do-when-someone-pulls-the-pin-and-hands-you-a-grenade/”;
    4) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defamation#Truth”;

  184. 184
    leni

    Pouring wine while male.

    Overpouring wine. Intentionally. Nice goalpost shift.

  185. 185
    imnotandrei

    Typical

    Actually, on this thread at least, highly *atypical*. I counted at least 25 posts you’d made that got responses, and 1 of them fit this bill, at most:

    just a cheap insult – ableist, one might argue – leveled in an attempt to dismiss it.

    So, one could say 4% of the posts in response to you fit that bill, at most.

    While at least 3 of those posts had you admitting errors, misunderstandings, or failures of communication, at least — or ~12%.

    Yet I would not easily say: “Typical Steersman, admitting to his previous mistakes before repeating a new set.”

    Yet the first part of that, is at least 3x more common on this thread. ;)

    People with some actual and real commitment to skepticism are unlikely to be impressed by such antics.

    Nor by your dismissive rhetoric, in contradiction to the facts on the ground.

  186. 186
    imnotandrei

    Ok, I’ll concede the point; yours is the more accurate analogy.

    Thank you.

    So then you’ll agree that Shermer has a “justified right to sue” Myers for libel over that accusation?

    In this country, people can sue over most anything. Shermer has a right to sue; his claim is not so utterly beyond the bounds of common sense that it will get laughed out of court (unlike, say, people who sue because their neighbors are allegedly broadcasting microwaves into their house to control their brains.)

    Having a right to sue does not mean having much of a chance of prevailing on the merits, as far as I know; it merely means enough of a chance not to be, as I said, laughed out of court.

  187. 187
    Steersman

    imnotandrei:

    “Typical” wasn’t a reference to this thread – or even this blog – but to FTB in general and Pharyngula and its “commentariat” in particular, although “ignorant hooligans” might be more appropriate. Apropos of which is this paradigmatic example of poisoning the well from PZ hisself which more or less set the “tone” over there:

    PZ Myers: They seem terribly upset that people write here with the same language they would use at a bar, not the prim, bottled-up language they would use in a church. To which I say… too bad.

  188. 188
    imnotandrei

    Filling wine-glass therefore rapist.

    Actually, “person making a remark that appears to be at least somewhat facetious about filling a wine-glass in close relation to a situation in which a woman claims to have been raped while intoxicated, therefore rape joke”, in case you’d lost the context.

    Same sort of rather deluded and unskeptical attitude manifested by Rebecca – Skepchick (ha!)
    no attempt made to refute an argument, just a cheap insult …leveled in an attempt to dismiss it.

    Both said by the same person, within 2 comments of each other. Reader is left to their own conclusions.

    Can. Not necessarily is. Seems to me that you are again inferring the guilt of some individual based on the similarities between two quite different sets of individuals.

    Again, look at the context; this part of the discussion is about rape *jokes*. Under what context does Emery Emery’s joke make sense aside from this one?

    This is all in reaction to your claim that the reward for pledging $5,000 did not allude to [rape] in any way.

    I think it is more appropriate to characterize that as “in-group morality, out-group hostility”. One of the characteristic attributes (3) of group-think and of cults.

    Let’s see — which comes closer to “out-group hostility” — making a rape joke in a post seeking funding to defend one of the in-group, or pointing out a rape joke?

    Answer is left as an exercise for the student.

    Another quick note — sometimes, agreement isn’t a sign of group-think; it’s a sign that people have come to the same conclusion because it’s right; whether or not that’s true here, you and I may differ.

    Rather than “privileging” the weak at the expense of the strong – JFK said you can’t strengthen the weak by weakening the strong, you might want to consider giving some thought – you know, using that piece of hardware inside our skulls – to which position is actually right. Regardless of which camp the assertion comes from.

    Perhaps you should go preach this to the Prussian, who wrote that he was sure the claim of rape wasn’t true because PZ Myers supported it.

    Perhaps you should consider why it is so important, apparently, to argue even that a rape *joke* isn’t a rape joke, or is OK because, well, it’s just a joke, in these contexts.

    Of course, a generic joke in a context that is fairly clearly joking about the jokes *themselves* is exactly the same as making a context-specific rape joke in a plea for funds to help the alleged rapist. Right? That seems to be what you’re claiming. Perhaps you should consider whether that’s actually right.

  189. 189
    Steersman

    leni:

    You think maybe that he was twisting her arm to drink the wine? Held her down and poured it down her gullet? Seems to me that that is the problematic inference that many are making. But it is something only in their own heads.

    You can’t very well condemn someone for something that has only happened in your own mind. You might also want to grant the woman in question some agency, apparently something that many “feminists” condemn those evil MRA-types for denying.

  190. 190
    imnotandrei

    “Typical” wasn’t a reference to this thread – or even this blog – but to FTB in general and Pharyngula and its “commentariat” in particular, although “ignorant hooligans” might be more appropriate

    Well, since you didn’t bother to qualify or clarify, I presume you can see why I interpreted it the way I did, no?

    . Apropos of which is this paradigmatic example of poisoning the well from PZ hisself which more or less set the “tone” over there:

    PZ Myers: They seem terribly upset that people write here with the same language they would use at a bar, not the prim, bottled-up language they would use in a church. To which I say… too bad.

    Good grief — and now we’ve gotten to whining about the tone they use — they use bad words, that’s “poisoning the well”? You have got to be kidding me.

  191. 191
    leni

    You think maybe that he was twisting her arm to drink the wine? Held her down and poured it down her gullet? Seems to me that that is the problematic inference that many are making. But it is something only in their own heads.

    Irrelevant. Assault is still a crime no matter how drunk she was.

    This is nothing more than a red herring with the direct implication that she is to blame for his actions.

    Now why would you want to do that?

    You can’t very well condemn someone for something that has only happened in your own mind. You might also want to grant the woman in question some agency, apparently something that many “feminists” condemn those evil MRA-types for denying.

    More irreverent bullshit that has anything to do with the implication you made, which was more or less that drunk people are to blame for (presumably) any crime that happens to them unless they basically get… vodka-boarded.

    The problem wasn’t that she was drunk, it’s that someone used that vulnerability to commit a crime against her. I’ve seen homeless people passed out in the street. That doesn’t mean it would have been their fault if I raped them. Or set them on fire, or any number of crimes.

    This is not complicated.

    Also, do you know that rapists admit to using that alcohol to facilitate their rapes?

    In the course of 20 years of interviewing these undetected rapists, in both research and forensic settings, it has been possible for me to distill some of the common characteristics of the modus operandi of these sex offenders. These undetected rapists:

    • are extremely adept at identifying “likely” victims, and testing prospective victims’ boundaries;

    • plan and premeditate their attacks, using sophisticated strategies to groom their victims for attack, and to isolate them physically;

    • use “instrumental” not gratuitous violence; they exhibit strong impulse
    control and use only as much violence as is needed to terrify and coerce their victims into submission;
    • use psychological weapons – power, control, manipulation, and threats – backed up by physical force, and almost never resort to weapons such as knives or guns;

    • use alcohol deliberately to render victims more vulnerable to attack, or completely unconscious.

  192. 192
    Steersman

    imnotandrei:

    Context, toujours le context. I was sure that such a perspicacious and fair-minded person such as yourself would have had no problem realizing that the context was something more than just this blog. [/sarcasm]

    As for tone, while I think one can go off the deep end in being overly-persnickety about that, I also figure there’s a Rubicon associated with the concept that Pharyngula in particular has ridden rough-shod over. You might note the following from Ally Fogg’s blog:

    Fogg: I don’t think one can make sweeping generalisations about feminists or use ‘feminist’ as an insult, and then complain when people make sweeping generalisations about MRAs and use MRA as an insult. You cannot be disrespectful, contemptuous and accusatory to other commenters then complain about the lack of a friendly atmosphere. That seems to me the essence of fairness. ….

    We could call it the HetPat First Directive: Thou shalt not generalise about gender activist movements or judge people by association.

    Sweeping generalizations and judging people by association, coupled with gratuitous insults devoid of credible argument, tends to be the “tone” if not de rigueur at Pharyngula.

    —-
    1) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/hetpat/2013/07/20/musings-on-moderation/”;

  193. 193
    imnotandrei

    First note: Typically, you are more concerned about comments about commenting rather than the “tangible consequences and relevance to the real world which, again, depend heavily on the facts on the table.”

    “imnotandrei:

    Context, toujours le context. I was sure that such a perspicacious and fair-minded person such as yourself would have had no problem realizing that the context was something more than just this blog. [/sarcasm]

    Well, funny that — you keep changing the context without informing anyone (or at least referring to a different context than anyone else, e.g. the difference between “rapists” and “rape jokes”) and then being surprised when people call you on it.

    As for tone, while I think one can go off the deep end in being overly-persnickety about that, I also figure there’s a Rubicon associated with the concept that Pharyngula in particular has ridden rough-shod over. You might note the following from Ally Fogg’s blog:

    Fogg: I don’t think one can make sweeping generalisations about feminists or use ‘feminist’ as an insult, and then complain when people make sweeping generalisations about MRAs and use MRA as an insult. You cannot be disrespectful, contemptuous and accusatory to other commenters then complain about the lack of a friendly atmosphere. That seems to me the essence of fairness. ….

    It’s funny — please provide the citations where you’ve gone to the Pit and told them that their behavior is unfair/unacceptable/etc. Because otherwise, you’re going “Oh, I don’t like the tone here, you’re not being fair to me” while coming from an environment far worse; rather a large double-standard.

    (Indeed, as I’ve said repeatedly in this post, people like Watson, Benson, and McCreight had to deal with *more* visible consequences than Shermer has, so far, not for being accused of committing crimes, but for daring to say “Guys, don’t do that”, and the like.)

    Furthermore: welcome to privilege again. I recommend to you Kochman’s “Black and White Styles In Conflict”, or even some of the other posts going around FtB right now regarding JT Eberhard; when you are the person in a position of relative privilege, going “You need to be less angry before I can talk to you”, or “I don’t like the tone of your arguments, change it before we can talk.” is essentially saying “Give me what I want (you not being annoying) and I’ll consider whether I want to give you anything or not.”

    And when defenders of a system that has damaged countless women (and quite a few men — see my comment above to brive1987 as to who has damaged Shermer most) say “Your tone is poisoning the well”, I think you can see how that fits the pattern above.

    Sweeping generalizations and judging people by association, coupled with gratuitous insults devoid of credible argument, tends to be the “tone” if not de rigueur at Pharyngula.

    You know, I’ve rarely seen anyone there judged by association alone; usually it takes a few posts of repeated stupid, JAQing off, or the like, *combined* with the association. At which point, we’re talking explanations for bad behavior, rather than “guilt by association”.

    As to the rest — how many times, Steersman, do you need to hear the same garbage before you go “Oh, shut up!” — once? Ten times? A hundred times? Should the Pharyngubot respond to every new post with the phrase “reasonable doubt” or “FtBullies” or “real skepticism” with a acnned “Please go look here…”

    Because otherwise, especially around contentious issues, what you are doing by saying this is saying “Hey, look — everybody, they’re getting harassed and bothered, and pestered, and — this is the worst part — they’re losing their patience with it, and getting *angry*! How dare they?”

    —-
    1) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/hetpat/2013/07/20/musings-on-moderation/”;

  194. 194
    leni

    imnotandrei:

    “Oh, I don’t like the tone here, you’re not being fair to me” while coming from an environment far worse; rather a large double-standard.

    It’s more red herrings. As is the kvetching about the Pharyngula tone. As are his “points” about Shermer not being responsible for his actions because Jane Doe was inebriated.

    I’m enjoying your responses, but you don’t have to take the bait. You don’t have to answer for anyone else, particularly when Steersman’s tone is not exactly respectful either.

  195. 195
    imnotandrei

    It’s more red herrings.

    I know — I wish I liked smoked fish products more, then I could have meals for *days*. ;)

    I’m enjoying your responses, but you don’t have to take the bait.

    Here’s the thing; I would be delighted if, someday, when he pops up somewhere else with the “I have a fair and balanced tone, I quote people from FtB, and I say things that, if you don’t dig much, sound very much like a compromise” shtick, he gets met with a link back to here.

    And, sometimes, he helps clarify my own thought — I don’t think I would have realized what I did in my “both barrels” response to brive1987 if I hadn’t been arguing with him.

  196. 196
    leni

    I know — I wish I liked smoked fish products more, then I could have meals for *days*. ;)

    Oh this is pickled herring. Definitely pickled :)

    And, sometimes, he helps clarify my own thought — I don’t think I would have realized what I did in my “both barrels” response to brive1987 if I hadn’t been arguing with him.

    Ok, fair enough. Just remember his name is Steersman. Probably there’s a reason for that.

  197. 197
    Pitchguest

    So hiring a lawyer to defend yourself against libel is the same as covering up for the Steubenville football team and the Catholic Church?

    Maybe you should lie down.

  198. 198
    Steersman

    imnotandrei:

    Steersman: Christ. Are you now telling me you reject the utility of analogies?

    imnotandrei: No; I was pointing out that repeatedly citing Crommunist as the source for your quote is a way of saying “See! Someone on your side said this! You can’t argue with it. ….

    Repeatedly? I used the quote twice in that first comment (1) – and once was a fragment. Subsequent references to and quotes of it were in response to your challenges. But while that is of course your inference and you’re entitled to make it, I figure you’re rather badly off-base there. For one thing I hadn’t explicitly said anything about “your side” in that comment, and had followed that up with a link to the Wikipedia article on analogies so I figure it shouldn’t have been all that hard of a connection to swallow or grasp, one which should have precluded most rational and honest interlocutors from reaching for the rather specious and not particularly credible canard of “argument from authority”.

    imnotandrei: No one has pressed a charge against Shermer; indeed, the original source said they were not. interested in doing so. So, no, he’s not in any legal peril.

    Something (2) I ran across recently suggests that that might not be entirely true:

    Wikipedia, Defamation: To win damages in a libel case, the plaintiff must first show that the statements were “statements of fact or mixed statements of opinion and fact” and second that these statements were false. Conversely, a typical defense to defamation is that the statements are opinion. One of the major tests to distinguish whether a statement is fact or opinion is whether the statement can be proved true or false in a court of law. If the statement can be proved true or false, then, on that basis, the case will be heard by a jury to determine whether it is true or false.

    Not being a lawyer, I certainly don’t know how the courts might deal with that question. But that certainly suggests that they might insist on some sort of trial on the issue. And while that might be tried only in a civil court as opposed to a criminal one, it seems rather presumptuous to assume, depending on the outcome, that the former wouldn’t lead to the latter.

    imnotandrei: (As an aside, this is at least the 6th or so time that you’ve footnoted defamation per se, including more than once to me; really, you don’t need to keep doing it.)

    In your opinion. It is a bit of a pain to do that, but I figure it is a courtesy to those who might want the link without having to search for previous references. In addition, there are many different sections in each of those articles, each of which has a separate link.

    imnotandrei: To spare you further embarrassment: that would be the trial of Zimmerman, on charges of murdering Trayvon Martin.

    Thanks. I had thought that I might have been mistaken in that spelling, but I hadn’t had the time to check.

    imnotandrei: OK. Thank you for coming out and flying your victim-blaming flag high, and establishing yourself firmly on the side of the patriarchy ….

    There are two arguments here: 1) By putting the responsibility for avoiding being raped upon the victims, you are reducing the responsibility of potential rapists. ….

    “Lawdy, lawdy, lawdy”, you sure are committed to, if not blinded by, your dogma. You might try Googling “personal responsibility” “victim-blaming” and note the rather high number of people, including women I might add, who aren’t quite as averse as you apparently are to considering the utility of “personal responsibility” in the context of rape. For instance, there is this (3) article in The Punch, by a woman I might emphasize, titled Advocating risk management is not “victim blaming”. And then there is this bit from a Yahoo Answers page (4):

    Anni: Last year, I was raped. I met a man, I invited him home for sex, and when we were in my room he quickly overpowered me and… It was rape, and it was treated as rape, and I received therapy for rape. ….

    Now, I recognize that he was the one who chose to commit a violent sexual act, but I also recognize that, hey, if you invite strange men into your bedroom you risk sexual violence against yourself. I was a very easy target, and I got hurt. ….

    Regardless of how well I’m doing, I don’t think it’s unreasonable of me or “victim shaming” to accept that I had a hand in what happened to me. I don’t blame myself or absolve my rapist, but I do accept personal responsibility for my own actions; when did that become a bad thing? ….

    Followed up by this “Best answer”:

    Elana: Insurance companies know this, why the rest of the world doesn’t is beyond me.

    If you have an alarm and lock your doors you get a better rate. That doesn’t mean that burglary isn’t illegal.

    If one was to INSURE against rape, I wonder if the same rules could apply.

    Analogously, if women, primarily, consider the benefits of some “risk management” then that most definitely doesn’t mean that rape isn’t illegal. Except maybe in the fevered imaginations, and through the highly questionable “logic” of some “feminists”.

    imnotandrei: Sure, in the short term, women could reduce the number of rapes by locking themselves in their homes.

    Right. And we could all prevent home burglaries by never leaving them too. And the incidence of being mugged on the streets would no doubt go down as well. Not quite sure what logical fallacy that is offhand, but it sure is a doozy.

    imnotandrei: (As a side note — your original “I kind of get the impression that more than a few” comes across as more than a bit disingenous when it turns out that more than one of them is from *yourself*.)

    Considering the 46,800 hits on the aforementioned “personal responsibility” search, and the 75,600 for the “always on record” one – not all of which are particularly relevant – I would think that that is a rather specious argument of yours. I’ve hardly created those “more than a few” cases out of whole-cloth. But, since I’ve already linked to and discussed several examples of the first case, you might want to chew on this (5) example of the second one.


    1) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/ashleymiller/2013/08/21/michael-shermer-legal-fund/#comment-104619”;
    2) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defamation#Truth”;
    3) “_http://www.thepunch.com.au/articles/advocating-risk-management-is-not-victim-blaming/”;
    4) “_http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20130613080657AAur5O3”;
    5) “_https://www.cablecommunicators.org/briefs/Social%20Aspects%20of%20Communication_July%202011.pdf”;

  199. 199
    Steersman

    imnotandrei:

    imnotandrei: It’s funny — please provide the citations where you’ve gone to the Pit and told them that their behavior is unfair/unacceptable/etc. Because otherwise … rather a large double-standard.

    I would have thought my comments that Stephanie Zvan had quoted (1) would have been sufficient for you in that regard, but I guess when one has over imbibed on the Kool-Aid and is hip-deep in hyperskepticism (5) it takes more effort to overcome that. In which case, you could start here (2):

    JackRayner: Seriously though, Steers [and anyone else crying foul], I think you should spare us the weeping on this. You’re free to do whatever you please, but I think it’s bullshit if you remain quiet when Zvan, Laden, Becky, and Oolon get ragged on for their appearance, but then huff and puff when McWrong gets made fun of. ….

    Steersman: No weeping, just some exasperation at “criticisms” that don’t really move the ball downfield all that effectively. Look more like shooting ourselves in the feet if truth be known.

    But I think if you look back through my various posts you’ll see I’ve criticized many of those taking cheap shots at virtually all of those people, including more than a few others. ….

    And then there’s this one (3):

    Steersman: That GIF looks like a bit of a cheap shot I think.

    While I think [Oolon is] a bit of a dickhead – not least for refusing to acknowledge that it was a Pharyngulite who first publicly connected all the dots in Skep tickle’s doxing, although I’ll give him some credit on that score as he acknowledged part of that on Lousy Canuck’s blog, I also think that making malicious fun of irrelevant mannerisms or behaviours or attributes isn’t quite cricket.

    And, if you were so inclined and actually had any sense of fair-mindedness you could actually go and search for “cheap shot” in the Pit – use the “Advanced Search” with my name as the author – and see some dozen cases, including the above two, where I’ve used that criticism of others there.

    But, as a final example – of which there are many more should you care to look – which I hope you will find sufficient to surmount your hyperskepticism, consider this (4):

    Steersman: And that is where I think Michael Nugent made a very cogent and insightful suggestion for the second item in his agenda:

    How we can balance the right to freedom of expression and robust debate about ideas and issues, with the desire to not unnecessarily hurt people who disagree with us about those ideas.

    Which then raises the question as to why you and sKepptiksowat and Mykeru, for examples only, posted those shops or gifs of, respectively, Myers, Benson, and, analogously Zvan-Laden if not to hurt those individuals. Now there are certainly cases where a little bit of hurting is necessary – as in getting the attention of stubborn mules with a 2×4 up alongside their ears. But unless there’s some reason, some principle at stake, some necessity for doing so the exercise looks rather malicious to say the least.

    Rome wasn’t built in a day.

    —–
    1) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2013/08/21/in-which-i-falsely-report-a-rape/#comment-264294”;
    2) “_http://slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=122027#p122027”;
    3) “_http://slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=112926#p112926”;
    4) “_http://slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=95396#p95396”;
    5) “_http://furiouspurpose.me/a-primer-on-hyper-skepticism/”;

  200. 200
    leni

    No, but donating to it is about the same as donating to an RCC or Steubibville football rapist legal defense fund. I can see how that would be confusing for you, though.

    Hey there, pitchguest! Have you figured out that lighting unconscious people on fire is bad yet?

    I’m so anxious to hear reports of your moral progress!

  201. 201
    Snowwy

    Proof of libel required. Since you have none…

  202. 202
    imnotandrei

    imnotandrei:

    imnotandrei: It’s funny — please provide the citations where you’ve gone to the Pit and told them that their behavior is unfair/unacceptable/etc. Because otherwise … rather a large double-standard.

    I would have thought my comments that Stephanie Zvan had quoted (1) would have been sufficient for you in that regard,

    Nompe; that’s at *most* comparable to you coming over here and “asking questions”, though even there you are far closer to their line than ours.

    But the context (as you are fond of ignoring) was dismissing the Pharyngula commentariat (and others) as “ignorant hooligans” or typical behavior being: “no attempt made to refute an argument, just a cheap insult – ableist, one might argue – leveled in an attempt to dismiss it.”

    What you cite above (your citation is misplaced, BTW: you go to a comment, not the quotes, or the original post) is you being your pseudo-reasonable debating self.

    JackRayner: Seriously though, Steers [and anyone else crying foul], I think you should spare us the weeping on this. You’re free to do whatever you please, but I think it’s bullshit if you remain quiet when Zvan, Laden, Becky, and Oolon get ragged on for their appearance, but then huff and puff when McWrong gets made fun of. ….

    Steersman: No weeping, just some exasperation at “criticisms” that don’t really move the ball downfield all that effectively. Look more like shooting ourselves in the feet if truth be known.

    Better than I expected. Well done.

    Of course, I will point out that what you’re doing there is critiquing them as *tactics*, not as being wrong, or inappropriate, or, indeed, the behavior of “hooligans”.

    Rome wasn’t built in a day.

    No, it wasn’t.

    But I’ll refer you to Russell’s Irregular Conjugation of the Adjective, in this case: “I am using rhetoric; you are using tactics that aren’t moving the ball down the field; they are well-poisoning ignorant hooligans.”

    Get the point?

    Indeed, this is just another case of your pseudo-neutrality: you equate telling people on one side “Hey, that’s not helpful, unless they need it like a 2×4 alongside their ears” and saying “These people are well-poisoning ignorant hooligans”, as if they were the same thing, and expect cookies for being in the middle.

    You’re not in the middle. You’re less obnoxiously on one side than most of the inhabitants of that side, but that doesn’t put you in some “balanced rational middle position”, any more than Mitch McConnell is a “moderate”.

    And I know this because, except when you get riled up (or sarcastic) and start dismissing people as hooligans, you take positions very much like the people you claim not to be a monolith with — citing “beyond a reasonable doubt”, taking more than 4 posts to get through your head the way libel law works (and we’ll see if it sticks), and holding up the banner of “personal responsibility” — while at the same time denying or diminishing rape jokes, and repeatedly overstating the damage done to victims of false accusations. (See our above discussion about “So, better 10 men get 5-10 years….”, etc.)

    So, no, Rome wasn’t built in a day. But Rome also wasn’t built by false equivalencies and false moderation, either.

  203. 203
    Steersman

    leni:

    You probably had in mind some cheap insult or petty innuendo – apparently close to your top speed, but the truth of matter is somewhat different. Should you wish to reduce your rather profound ignorance on that and other matters you could check here (1) for some specifics, something that I’ve promoted rather frequently and for some time in the Pit (2) and elsewhere.

    —–
    1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cybernetics#Etymology”;
    2) “_http://slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=8034#p8034”;

  204. 204
    imnotandrei

    Should you wish to reduce your rather profound ignorance on that and other matters you could check here (1) for some specifics, something that I’ve promoted rather frequently and for some time in the Pit (2) and elsewhere.

    Oh, my goodness, she displayed profound ignorance about your name! How dare she possess such ignorance, when the facts were easy to find!

    (As a side note, you’d get less people thinking you were a grizzled old sailor if you didn’t use one as your avatar app on the ‘pit, methinks. ;) )

    Just as a note, Steersman: bring something relevant to this discussion, please, or let the snark be a boojum, and softly and quietly vanish away.

    You’ve now spent a tremendous amount of effort defending a) your cookie, b) your pseudonym, c) your alleged even-handedness, and d) the legitimacy of the insults you toss around.

    Notice something all of those have in common? They’re all about *you*. Not the subject of this post. Not even the philosophical questions that might have arisen from this post. *You*.

    I admit I’ve played a part in this, because I’m not all that willing to let you get away with burnishing yourself at the expense of others, and especially not burnishing your alleged credibility thusly — someone might take your allegedly “reasonable” position — that you counterpoint to the “ignorant hooligans” — and think it had more credibility than it does.

    But I’ll make a deal with you, Steersman — you get one free “It’s about me/my reputation/my cookie” post, now, and I won’t respond, if you stick to that. Then either get back to the issues, or go away.

  205. 205
    Steersman

    imnotandrei:

    imnotandrei: Of course, I will point out that what you’re doing there is critiquing them as *tactics*, not as being wrong, or inappropriate, or, indeed, the behavior of “hooligans”.

    You really do take the cake for intellectual dishonesty – dogma does tend to rot one’s brain and critical faculties. I’m reminded of Ignatius Loyola’s:

    Loyola: That we may be altogether of the same mind and in conformity with the Church herself, if she shall have defined anything to be black which to our eyes appears to be white, we ought in like manner to pronounce it to be black.

    You would be, I’m sure, a credit to that organization.

    In any case, you asked for citations of criticisms of “behavior [that] is unfair/unacceptable/etc”. Which I think all of the links I provided qualified as. Unless you think that “cheap shots” and “malicious” don’t qualify as “unfair” or “unacceptable”. Maybe that’s because they’re apparently not considered that on Pharyngula – my earlier quote of PZ certainly suggests that that is the case.

    imnotandrei: But I’ll refer you to Russell’s Irregular Conjugation of the Adjective, in this case: “I am using rhetoric; you are using tactics that aren’t moving the ball down the field; they are well-poisoning ignorant hooligans.”

    I would say that is rather close to some serious cherry-picking: selecting or suggesting the best or worst examples in each of those three classes to emphasize the disparity. Or maybe you think that “well-poisoning hooligans” are the exemplars or proponents of “moving the ball down the field”, that those two phrases don’t have the same negative consequences.

    imnotandrei: You’re not in the middle. You’re less obnoxiously on one side than most of the inhabitants of that side, but that doesn’t put you in some “balanced rational middle position” ….

    I wonder where you got the idea that I said that I was in the middle – even assuming that could be easily quantified. If I’m not mistaken, most of what I was arguing for was a willingness to consider that those on the other side might have a point or two, not that each side was fully equal in the numbers or weight of valid points. As I’ve argued (1) on the Pit, I think it has a few flaws of its own, but “refusing to debate the issues with real facts, and turning forums into Internet Silos isn’t one of them”. Tend to think that that is a rather significant and deciding difference in the credibility of each “side”.

    imnotandrei: … taking more than 4 posts to get through your head the way libel law works (and we’ll see if it sticks)

    Better late than never. But, considering all of the discussions that I’ve seen, most of which missed the same point about (paraphrasing) “accusations of criminal activity being actionable per se” one might argue that that is at least understandable. Law does have its problematic intricacies – or there wouldn’t be the joke about the person who had himself as his lawyer.

    imnotandrei: …. while at the same time denying or diminishing rape jokes ….

    The thing is, that that is only your highly idiosyncratic and biased interpretation of the events – rather like young-earth creationists “conclusion” as to the age of the universe. Something that not everybody is obliged to share – particularly in the absence of evidence or justification or willingness to discuss alternatives.

    —–
    1) “_http://slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=121994#p121994”;

  206. 206
    imnotandrei

    As below*, Steersman, this is your freebie.

    *See this post, comment 105602

  207. 207
    leni

    You probably had in mind some cheap insult or petty innuendo – apparently close to your top speed, but the truth of matter is somewhat different. Should you wish to reduce your rather profound ignorance on that and other matters you could check here (1) for some specifics, something that I’ve promoted rather frequently and for some time in the Pit (2) and elsewhere.

    And yet more irrelevant bullshit from the man who’s name implies he’s at the helm.

    How surprising.

  208. 208
    Bennie Crouch

    In what way? In the Steubenville case there was at LEAST corroborating photo evidence and statements by the defendants that said penetration actually happened. These allegations against Shermer are no where near as strong. Further, the man categorically denies any and all allegations. It seems to me that it one is not even allowed to defend one self against allegation on this website.

  209. 209
    leni

    I have a proposition for you Ignatius Steersman, finish this sentence:

    She was drunk therefore…

    C’mon. You can stay on task. I believe in you.

  210. 210
    leni

    @ Bennie. I guess it’s more in the donating to the RCC way, then. Thanks for pointing that out,

  211. 211
    Bennie Crouch

    @ leni, wow… I’m not even going to lie. I expected to get attacked and called an MRA… Thanks for blowing up my assumptions :)

  212. 212
    Bennie Crouch

    is your icon a galaga ship or a penis Snowwy?

  213. 213
    Steersman

    imnotandrei:

    imnotandrei: But I’ll make a deal with you, Steersman — you get one free “It’s about me/my reputation/my cookie” post, now, and I won’t respond, if you stick to that. Then either get back to the issues, or go away.

    Apart from suggesting that I only responded on those points largely because you had made some snarky and pointed comments about and challenges of them, I wonder, considering that we’ve all covered a lot of ground here, what you think those issues are.

    Seems to me that the elephant in the room, at least one of the larger ones, is the question of rape in general. And, as I’ve argued (1):

    Steersman: I kind of get the impression that more than a few have suggested any number of solutions, but that others have rejected them because some of them required a greater degree of personal responsibility than they were prepared to accept. Or that they required abandoning or questioning philosophical precepts that they were inordinately attached to. Or that they required technology they were unprepared to consider the ramifications of.

    And, as I’ve argued in #25.8 (2) – which I see you have yet to respond to – my suggestions weren’t anything that I’ve cut from whole-cloth or pulled out of my nether regions. All concepts that a great number of people have discussed and think have some merit, yet, at least in the first case, ones that many on your “side” imperiously reject – generally with diddly-squat in the way of evidence, and frequently accompanied by foot-stomping petulance. Not particularly impressive or tending to give much credibility.

    However, as a point of reference, I have argued, here (I think) and elsewhere, that I think that communities have a right if not an obligation to protect themselves from predators. What I objected to was, in part, the way Myers and company went about it – something which looks rather “star-chamber-ish” and likely to have any number of problematic consequences – as events suggest is likely to be the case. You might wish to review John Loftus’ recent post (3) on the question wherein he suggested that this might have killed both of those birds with the same stone without opening the door to those consequences:

    Loftus: If it were me, and if I had reason to trust the rumor because I trusted the source, even though I could not name the source, all I would say is this:

    There is a rumor that I think is true about a high profile man on the atheist/skeptic speaking circuit who is getting a few women drunk in order to have sex with them. From all I can tell he has been successful at least once, maybe more. Beware of this. Be on your guard. If any of them continually fills up your glass of wine for you to drink, then you may be at risk. Never put yourself in a compromising situation. Be careful when walking alone in a dark alley too. Of course, of course, if some guy takes advantage of you or harms you in any way you are not to blame. But be careful just the same. Do not put yourself at risk. And if a guy doesn’t take no for an answer then immediately report it to the police. Tell your friends about it too. Keep in mind above all, that even if you let your guard down, don’t be ashamed. You were still the victim. He took advantage of you.

    Although maybe that’s too much like “risk management” for you to be all that palatable.

    In any case, those are some of the issues as I see them. Maybe you have another set or a different take on them.If you do respond you might wish to do so at a higher level.

    —–
    1) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/ashleymiller/2013/08/21/michael-shermer-legal-fund/#comment-104619”;
    2) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/ashleymiller/2013/08/21/michael-shermer-legal-fund/#comment-105555”;
    3) “_http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.fi/2013/08/is-pz-myers-demagogue-opportunist-or.html?m=1”;

  214. 214
    Bennie Crouch

    I really don’t understand the reasoning behind this hjhornbeck. PZ Meyers joke was clearly, implicitly a rape joke at the expense of a hypothetical victim. But no one accuses PZ of being a rape supporter or say that anyone who comments on his blog are rape supporters. On the other hand, you condemn people who donate to MS because of a, at best, a misinterpreted joke? I don’t follow this line of reasoning. Could you please explain it to me?

  215. 215
    Steersman

    leni:

    leni: And yet more irrelevant bullshit from the man who’s name implies he’s at the helm.

    You really should get your inference machinery checked out as I think it’s misfiring on all cylinders.

    I most definitely am NOT saying that, as you apparently imply, I’m at the helm of the ship of state or that of the entire atheist-skeptic movement or anything of that nature. All it is meant to imply or suggest is a championing of the principles of cybernetics – the root for which is Greek for “steersman”. I wonder if you even bothered to follow the link I provided.

  216. 216
    leni

    All it is meant to imply or suggest is a championing of the principles of cybernetics – the root for which is Greek for “steersman”. I wonder if you even bothered to follow the link I provided.

    And yet another round of irrelevant bullshit. With cybernetics this time. Now naval. I mean novel.

  217. 217
    leni

    @ Bennie. You didn’t get called an MRA. Pitchguest got compared to a catholic tither. And also had his moral struggles mocked a little bit.

    What the fuck is it with you people and not being able to stay on topic?

  218. 218
    Steersman

    leni:

    leni: … Steersman, finish this sentence: She was drunk therefore…

    Probably hundreds of different possibilities:
    • … therefore she can’t hold her liquor;
    • … therefore she should check her BAL before driving;
    • … therefore she should call her designated-driver;
    • … therefore she may or may not be able to consent to sex (1);
    • … therefore etc., etc., etc.

    All dependent on context and various assumptions. Which ones do you have in mind?

    —–
    1) “_http://anthonybsusan.wordpress.com/2013/08/14/opting-out/#comment-1332”;

  219. 219
    leni

    Its a ship, but not galaga. +1 for the stock 80′s reference though!

    Snowwy’s going nautical this season. It’ all the rage.

  220. 220
    leni

    All dependent on context and various assumptions. Which ones do you have in mind?

    Pretty much exactly the list you gave.

    Thanks for making my point :)

  221. 221
    Steersman

    A point which seems manifest only in your own mind as I don’t see any.

  222. 222
    hjhornbeck

    However, me claiming that “no-one is doubting the victim’s story”? That I rather doubt as I’ll readily concede.

    OK, cool, so you don’t doubt the victim’s story.

    I also think it is quite reasonable to hold some doubt about the central element of it, i.e., the accusation that she had been raped.

    Wait. The victim’s story, in near totality, is that she was raped. So if you have some doubt she was raped… aren’t you doubting her story?

  223. 223
    leni

    A point which seems manifest only in your own mind as I don’t see any.

    Keep telling yourself that, Ms. McCarthy. Maybe it will come true someday.

  224. 224
    leni

    Props on keeping it short and sort of on topic, though. That’s a new thing for you. Good job :)

  225. 225
    imnotandrei

    One of the major tests to distinguish whether a statement is fact or opinion is whether the statement can be proved true or false in a court of law. If the statement can be proved true or false, then, on that basis, the case will be heard by a jury to determine whether it is true or false.

    Not being a lawyer, I certainly don’t know how the courts might deal with that question. But that certainly suggests that they might insist on some sort of trial on the issue. And while that might be tried only in a civil court as opposed to a criminal one, it seems rather presumptuous to assume, depending on the outcome, that the former wouldn’t lead to the latter.

    In which case, Shermer has brought this entirely upon himself. If this sees the inside of a courtroom, it is entirely at his choice — and any jeopardy he is putting himself in (which would require a separate trial, let me remind you, as he’s not charged with anything) is jeopardy he knows exists — unless you think that this is a false claim that is well enough supported that he stands a substantial risk of being convicted ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’.

    But that certainly suggests that they might insist on some sort of trial on the issue. The “trial” being spoken above is the libel trial — because opinion is, by definition, not libellous; one is entitled to one’s opinion. If I call Sen. Ted Cruz a waste of oxygen, that’s an opinion, not libel. If I call Sen. Jane Doe a murderer, that’s not an opinion — that’s a (claimed) statement of fact.

    So a trial cannot proceed if the libel is an opinion. THat’s what the paragraph above is saying.

    “Lawdy, lawdy, lawdy”, you sure are committed to, if not blinded by, your dogma. You might try Googling “personal responsibility” “victim-blaming” and note the rather high number of people, including women I might add, who aren’t quite as averse as you apparently are to considering the utility of “personal responsibility” in the context of rape

    And if you ask the Internet how many people believe God created the world in seven days, you’ll find a lot. This Argument By Google Hits is useless, if you’re trying to find a “reasonable”,”logical” view.

    I am deleting your anecdotes, as that’s all they are — trying to claim “Hey, some women agree with me” is not a valid argument, as I never said they didn’t.

    Analogously, if women, primarily, consider the benefits of some “risk management” then that most definitely doesn’t mean that rape isn’t illegal. Except maybe in the fevered imaginations, and through the highly questionable “logic” of some “feminists”.

    No one ever said it wasn’t illegal. What is said often is that putting things in terms of “personal responsibility” or, even, “risk management” can lead to making prosecutions more difficult, because of the attitude that people who don’t take the “appropriate risk management” or the right amount of personal responsibility are, well, partially responsible for what happens to them — I can’t imagine where that notion comes from.

    Hence the questions about “What were you wearing?” “How much had you had to drink?” “What were you doing in that part of town”, etc. The very same points I made in a section you edited out of the previous comment.

    All you need to do is look at the number of people (and if you wish, I’ll go provide cites) going “Oh, but how could we tell if she was consenting?” or “But if she didn’t want it, she wouldn’t have…(fill in the x, y, or z)”, and you’ll see why the notion of “personal responsibility” is dangerous.

    You’ve shifted the goalposts, again, by the way — you start out by talking about “personal responsibility” and then conflate it with “risk managment” — which are two different things.

    imnotandrei: Sure, in the short term, women could reduce the number of rapes by locking themselves in their homes.

    Steersman: Right. And we could all prevent home burglaries by never leaving them too. And the incidence of being mugged on the streets would no doubt go down as well. Not quite sure what logical fallacy that is offhand, but it sure is a doozy.

    It’s not a fallacy. It’s pointing out the limits of your notion of “personal responsibility.” You said: . I thought the idea was to reduce the number of rapes. And if that is, in the short term at least, more effectively done by the application of a little bit of “personal responsibility” then it seems rather akin to cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face to throw stones at that particular solution.

    And I’m showing an example of the logical extension. Otherwise, what you’re claiming is that you get to decide what counts as “enough responsible behavior” and what’s over-the-top.

    The part you cut out, relevant here, is this: 2) The other part of this is you are now, in effect, saying “It’s more important to protect men’s reputations than women’s freedoms” — because by saying it’s not OK to warn people about potential rapists (absent a court ruling that turns them from “potential” into “rapists under law”) but it’s OK to tell women “Well, you can be safe if you don’t go to bars and drink!”, that’s what you’re doing.

    So — to ask you directly: At what point do *you* draw the line between “responsible” and “irresponsible” behavior? And why? Because by asserting that there is a responsibility that women have in their actions to avoid being raped, you’re saying that people who do the things you say are irresponsible are, in part, responsible for their being raped.

  226. 226
    hjhornbeck

    But thanks for giving some evidence that the rather egregious “mythologizing” of the Pit by some is rather misplaced if not actually intellectually dishonest, that not all of us – probably none of us – deserve even an implication that our names are “Marc Lepine” …

    I dunno, there was that time a bunch of you argued over which FtB blogger would commit suicide first, thanks to your trolling. The capper:

    However if I push Laden to the point where he decides to put a bullet through his brain I will give my deepest condolences to the bullet, as nothing should be forced to transverse that hot mess of crazy crammed into his skull.

    Mykeru

  227. 227
    hjhornbeck

    I took the “well-poisoning” to mean the supposedly nefarious “illogical arguments and photoshopping” that had supposedly originated in “The (evil) PIT!!!!11s!!” whose sole purpose was to discredit and “marginalize” “that source” – presumably the “unnamed” person making that accusation of rape.

    It’s not implausible.

  228. 228
    hjhornbeck

    However, it seems that the definition of “defamation per se” is that it is deemed to have occurred whenever someone asserts that someone else has committed a crime:

    The four categories of slander that are actionable per se are (i) accusing someone of a crime …

    Emphasis mine. I’m impressed; you not only ignored my argument, you quoted the part that demonstrates your interpretation was wrong is if it proved you right.

  229. 229
    imnotandrei

    And, as I’ve argued in #25.8 (2) – which I see you have yet to respond to –

    Responded to, above.

    All concepts that a great number of people have discussed and think have some merit, yet, at least in the first case, ones that many on your “side” imperiously reject – generally with diddly-squat in the way of evidence, and frequently accompanied by foot-stomping petulance. Not particularly impressive or tending to give much credibility.

    You see, it’s funny — you don’t seem willing to acknowledge that a lot of thought and discussion has gone into those positions, evidence which you repeatedly ignore when presented, and you mistake bitter fatigue for foot-stomping petulance. As I’ve said elsewhere, it’s rather akin to the hundredth time a creationist comes up and says “Hey, if we came from monkeys, where do monkeys come from?” It becomes rather hard to address it patiently yet again.

    Now, imagine that happening in a situation where those questions were powerful and significant in the day-to-day lives of people — and perhaps you’l begin to understand why repeating things over and over and over again about rape do not, in the end, produce calm and patience.

    However, as a point of reference, I have argued, here (I think) and elsewhere, that I think that communities have a right if not an obligation to protect themselves from predators. What I objected to was, in part, the way Myers and company went about it – something which looks rather “star-chamber-ish” and likely to have any number of problematic consequences – as events suggest is likely to be the case.

    You have repeatedly been asked to provide better mechanisms. You’ve suggested that it’s women’s job to take more responsibiity for themselves. You’ve made vague demonstrations towards a “technical solution”. What you haven’t done is provided anything terribly useful.

    You might wish to review John Loftus’ recent post (3) on the question wherein he suggested that this might have killed both of those birds with the same stone without opening the door to those consequences:

    Loftus: If it were me, and if I had reason to trust the rumor because I trusted the source, even though I could not name the source, all I would say is this:

    There is a rumor that I think is true about a high profile man on the atheist/skeptic speaking circuit who is getting a few women drunk in order to have sex with them. From all I can tell he has been successful at least once, maybe more. Beware of this. Be on your guard. If any of them continually fills up your glass of wine for you to drink, then you may be at risk. Never put yourself in a compromising situation. Be careful when walking alone in a dark alley too. Of course, of course, if some guy takes advantage of you or harms you in any way you are not to blame. But be careful just the same. Do not put yourself at risk. And if a guy doesn’t take no for an answer then immediately report it to the police. Tell your friends about it too. Keep in mind above all, that even if you let your guard down, don’t be ashamed. You were still the victim. He took advantage of you.

    So, in order to protect the possibility that MIchael Shermer is innocent, we should instead tar *every* high-profile man in the skeptic speaking circuit, but only vaguely, and then tell women that it’s their job to be afraid? To watch their behavior so “Do not put yourself at risk.” And, of course, limiting rape to “if a guy doesn’t take no for an answer” — which helpfully eliminates all the “unable to consent” questions from the definition of rape?

    Not an improvement. I can see why you like it, since it continues to prioritize protecting reputations over people — and, in this case, protecting *specific* reputations over the reputation of the community as a whole — and insists on making women responsible for policing their own behavior, rather than men.

    In any case, those are some of the issues as I see them. Maybe you have another set or a different take on them.If you do respond you might wish to do so at a higher level.

    There you go. I have deleted most of your sideways shots and snarky asides, and hope you realize they don’t contribute.

  230. 230
    hjhornbeck

    Looks like a serious and highly problematic case of stereotyping and profiling to me. Filling wine-glass therefore rapist.

    As others have pointed out, this isn’t merely filling a wine-glass, this is keeping it full so the drinker cannot gauge how much they have drunk. Also, you completely ignored the scientific study that demonstrated people are easier to coerce and victimize after alcohol. Are you going to argue against that study, or concede its findings?

    Same sort of rather deluded and unskeptical attitude manifested by Rebecca Watson’s assertion (1) that “drunk sex is rape”.

    Rape is sex without consent. Consent requires sound judgment. Are you arguing that when people’s judgment is impaired by alcohol, they have sound judgment?

    Can. Not necessarily is. Seems to me that you are again inferring the guilt of some individual based on the similarities between two quite different sets of individuals.

    Drop the hyper-skepticism, Steersman. It makes you look like an amateur. We have sufficient evidence to support the hypothesis that alcohol can and is commonly used as a date rape drug. We have multiple, independent testimonies that Shermer used alcohol in a manner consistent with a date rape scenario. We have multiple, independent accusations of sexual assault. Absent additional evidence, we are justified in concluding that Shermer likely used alcohol to commit sexual assault, whether intentional or not.

    Now, can you provide that additional evidence? Or will you concede the point?

    Good humour punches up the power gradient; it’s funny when the weak poke at the strong, but bullying when the strong poke at the weak.

    I think it is more appropriate to characterize that as “in-group morality, out-group hostility”.

    OK, then which is the in-group in the above statement? Which is the out-group?

  231. 231
    Steersman

    leni:

    leni: Keep telling yourself that, Ms. McCarthy. Maybe it will come true someday.

    You think that if I tell you that I don’t see your point that I’m lying? Christ. Here’s something from Bertrand Russell that seems to fit you to a T:

    Wikiquote: We all have a tendency to think that the world must conform to our prejudices. The opposite view involves some effort of thought, and most people would die sooner than think — in fact they do so.

    leni: Props on keeping it short and sort of on topic, though.

    Not much point in anything longer since your attention span seems too short to comprehend much, or to follow what I’ve said, or you’re too dishonest to do either.

    —–
    1) “_http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Bertrand_Russell”;

  232. 232
    Steersman

    hjhornbeck:

    Steersman: However, me claiming that “no-one is doubting the victim’s story”? That I rather doubt as I’ll readily concede.

    hjhornbeck: OK, cool, so you don’t doubt the victim’s story.

    Christ in a sidecar. Are you stupid or are you just intellectually dishonest? Or are you maybe totally deluded or have the reading comprehension of a two-year old? My entire statement was:

    Steersman: However, me claiming that “no-one is doubting the victim’s story”? That I rather doubt as I’ll readily concede, and have conceded, that many, possibly with some justification, do so. However, while I think many people are being rather hyperskeptical in doubting all aspects of her story as I think that many elements of it are certainly quite plausible, I also think it is quite reasonable to hold some doubt about the central element of it, i.e., the accusation that she had been raped.

    Do note in the above, that what I said was “… I’ll readily concede … that many … do so [doubt the victim’s story]. ” And that “…I think that many elements of it are certainly quite plausible … [but] … it is quite reasonable to hold some doubt about the central element of [rape] ….”

    Rather different from your concoction, is it not?

    hjhornbeck: So if you have some doubt she was raped… aren’t you doubting her story?

    Learn to read – and quote honestly. Or get out of Dodge.

  233. 233
    Steersman

    hjhornbeck:

    Steersman: However, it seems that the definition of “defamation per se” is that ….

    Wikipedia: The four categories of slander that are actionable per se are (i) accusing someone of a crime …

    Hjhornbeck: Emphasis mine. I’m impressed; you not only ignored my argument ….

    Actually I hadn’t. I had responded to your previous comment (1) last evening (25th), but for some reason it is still sitting in moderation. I think it was because of too many posts in a too short a time span. What I had said was:

    Steersman: As I mentioned elsewhere, I stand corrected on the point.

    Which was a reference to (2):

    Steersman: Ok, I’ll concede the point; yours is the more accurate analogy. I went off the rails on the interpretation and understanding of the phrase “… categories of slander that are actionable per se are ….

    —-
    1) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/ashleymiller/2013/08/21/michael-shermer-legal-fund/#comment-105307”;
    2) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/ashleymiller/2013/08/21/michael-shermer-legal-fund/#comment-105383”;

  234. 234
    Steersman

    hjhornbeck:

    Steersman: Looks like a serious and highly problematic case of stereotyping and profiling to me. Filling wine-glass therefore rapist.

    hjhornbeck: As others have pointed out, this isn’t merely filling a wine-glass, this is keeping it full so the drinker cannot gauge how much they have drunk.

    And whose responsibility is it for the emptying of the wine-glass? You and many others seem to be rather quick to diminish the woman’s agency in such situations. Kind of like turning them into children or absolving them of any responsibility: “Lawdy, lawdy, the debil made me do it!” You might note this (1) on the intoxication defense which might also have some relevance to the accusations:

    Wikipedia: The presence or absence of liability may be said to hang on a foreseeability test. The fact that the consumption of alcohol or the ingestion of drugs may cause a loss of control is well-known. Thus, anyone who knowingly consumes is, at the very least, reckless as to the possibility of losing control. If they did not wish to lose control, they would not consume, so loss of control must be within the scope of their intention by continuing to consume.

    Not that that absolves anyone of the crime of actually committing rape, of course. Although that consumption does mean that there is an increased risk. However it does raise some sticky questions as to the nature and implications of “responsibility”.

    hjhorbeck: Also, you completely ignored the scientific study that demonstrated people are easier to coerce and victimize after alcohol. Are you going to argue against that study, or concede its findings?

    No, I didn’t. I said (2) I would put reading them on the back-burner. While I still haven’t read them, although I’ve skimmed what you quoted, I’ll readily concede that, mirabile dictu, alcohol does in fact have some influence on our perceptions and abilities. You might take a look at the Wikipedia article on it and note the effects of different blood-alcohol-levels (BAL) (3). But the question is at what point does one no longer have the ability to grant and rescind consent to sex. Or to anything else for that matter.

    You might want to consider the possibility that if “Jane Doe” had gone to the police after her supposed rape, and had been tested with a BAL of 0.10 – 25% more than the level for a drunk-driving charge – then her accusation might have carried quite a bit more weight.

    Steersman: Drop the hyper-skepticism, Steersman. It makes you look like an amateur. We have sufficient evidence to support the hypothesis that alcohol can and is commonly used as a date rape drug.

    You’re not “getting” – or you refuse to consider – the idea that one drink isn’t sufficient to incapacitate someone to the point of being unable to give and rescind consent to sex. Maybe that only comes after 3 drinks. Or 5. Or 7. But the point is that abilities diminish with increasing BALs, and at different points one is no longer able to do certain tasks. Like drive a vehicle – at 0.08%, not after sniffing a wine-cork – or consent to sex.

    hjhornbeck: Absent additional evidence, we are justified in concluding that Shermer likely used alcohol to commit sexual assault, whether intentional or not.

    Asserting he did so looks “actionable per se” – i.e., he would therefore be justified in suing for libel. You may wish to risk that possibility, but I think I’ll pass, thanks.

    hjhornbeck: OK, then which is the in-group in the above statement? Which is the out-group?

    In-groups and out-groups are relative: the Russians might think they’re the in-group relative to the Americans while the Americans might think they are the in-group relative to the Russians. And, considering you think it ok for “the weak to poke at the strong”, I would say that you identify with the weak, that that is the in-group. But I figure that qualifies as “privileging” the weak – would you think it is ok for a member of the weak group to kill a member of the strong group – just because of membership in those groups? Because I figure that that is exactly what a categorical application of your “standard” is tantamount to.

    —-
    1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intoxication_defense#Foreseeability_test”;
    2) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/ashleymiller/2013/08/21/michael-shermer-legal-fund/#comment-105353”;
    3) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_alcohol_level#Blood_Alcohol_Level_Chart”;

  235. 235
    Dave W

    Steersman @30.1.something (dunno why I can’t reply directly):

    You’re not “getting” – or you refuse to consider – the idea that one drink isn’t sufficient to incapacitate someone to the point of being unable to give and rescind consent to sex. Maybe that only comes after 3 drinks. Or 5. Or 7. But the point is that abilities diminish with increasing BALs, and at different points one is no longer able to do certain tasks. Like drive a vehicle – at 0.08%, not after sniffing a wine-cork – or consent to sex.

    Your own Wikipedia reference shows that a BAC of 0.06-0.09 impairs reasoning, a level that can be reached (estimating) by a woman weighing 160 pounds after only 8.3 oz of wine, or 1 and 2/3 “standard” glasses, within 40 minutes. It doesn’t take a lot.

    Your University of Wikipedia law degree is worth every penny.

  236. 236
    Bennie Crouch

    you people?

  237. 237
    hjhornbeck

    Fair enough, your writing made it look like you’d conceded a bad analogy, and not that “per se” and “illegal per se” were two separate things.

  238. 238
    hjhornbeck

    And whose responsibility is it for the emptying of the wine-glass?

    And this is the crux of it. You are demanding that people with impaired judgment must have sound judgment. You turn a blind eye to the fact that roughly 70% of victims knew their attackers, which meant there was a level of trust established, and instead argue it is impossible to trick someone.

    You are squarely blaming the victim for the crime committed against them, and only your tendency to wrap it in grandiloquent language and copy-paste footnotes separates your words from “bitches be lyin’”.

    Not that that absolves anyone of the crime of actually committing rape, of course.

    Except it does, by placing illogical barriers that women must cross to become “the perfect victim.” Which still doesn’t do them any good.

    I’ll readily concede that, mirabile dictu, alcohol does in fact have some influence on our perceptions and abilities.

    Good, so you’ve concede that alcohol can impair judgment and make someone more compliant to being assaulted or raped.

    But the question is at what point does one no longer have the ability to grant and rescind consent to sex.

    Perhaps when their judgment is impaired, after someone has been aggressively filling their wine glass?

    You’re not “getting” – or you refuse to consider – the idea that one drink isn’t sufficient to incapacitate someone to the point of being unable to give and rescind consent to sex.

    You’re not getting that it is impossible to judge how many drinks you’ve had if someone aggressively fills your glass. Or if they use flavor to mask the amount of alcohol it contains. Or that there are other extenuating circumstances that could result in someone being more prone to alcohol’s effects than usual.

    Asserting he did so looks “actionable per se” – i.e., he would therefore be justified in suing for libel.

    You JUST conceded that “actionable per se” and “libel per se” back in your comment dated “August 27, 2013 at 3:51 am.” Have you forgotten that already?!

    OK, then which is the in-group in the above statement? Which is the out-group?

    In-groups and out-groups are relative: the Russians might think

    I did not ask that question. In the statement “it’s funny when the weak poke at the strong, but bullying when the strong poke at the weak”, which group is the in-group, and which group is the out-group? Will you answer this time, or again pretend you didn’t understand?

  239. 239
    Snowwy

    I see I wasn’t clear. Leni, I was cracking Pitchguest over the head with his libel accusation. And no, I’m not Steersman either. :P

  240. 240
    imnotandrei

    hj, I hope you don’t mind if I drop in and give a few answers to this one:

    hjhornbeck: As others have pointed out, this isn’t merely filling a wine-glass, this is keeping it full so the drinker cannot gauge how much they have drunk.

    Steersman: And whose responsibility is it for the emptying of the wine-glass?

    Let me give you a free clue here, Steersman — many people (I do not have the statistics to hand to say “Most”, though I do not doubt it) who are trying to judge how much to drink by volume do it by “glasses” — a glass of wine, two pints of beer (in pint glasses), etc.

    And how do they judge (as Hornbeck points out, and you ignore) how much they have had to drink? If the glass is empty, that’s a glass.

    So, repeatedly refilling a glass can be, as has been documented, a way to get people to drink more than they intend to, and can make people have a much harder time judging how much they’ve had to drink.

    You and many others seem to be rather quick to diminish the woman’s agency in such situations.

    Because we see the possibility of a deliberate manipulator seeking to do precisely that — reducing the woman’s (or man’s — it’s not like this sort of thing doesn’t happen to them) — agency and ability to resist.

    Kind of like turning them into children or absolving them of any responsibility: “Lawdy, lawdy, the debil made me do it!”

    No — not like turning them into children. Recognizing that there are circumstances that can strip people of agency is not the same as saying “They have no agency”.

    Also — your use of dialect is not contributing to any good impression you’re trying to give, FYI.

    Not that that absolves anyone of the crime of actually committing rape, of course.

    Except, of course, that by the standards you’ve repeatedly given, no one has “committed” rape unless they’ve been convicted — indeed, to suggest otherwise is slander/libel, to you — and by placing this responsibility upon the *victim*, you are making convictions much harder.

    I’ll also note your citation from Wikipedia is with regards to a *defense* of intoxication — “I was drunk, therefore I couldn’t have been in a mental state to commit a crime” — which renders it irrelevant to someone’s *victim* status.

    Although that consumption does mean that there is an increased risk. However it does raise some sticky questions as to the nature and implications of “responsibility”.

    As I have said in this post, and before, your repeated bleating about “responsibility” only makes convictions harder, and makes people more vulnerable to being victimized. For someone who goes on at length about the consequences of people’s actions, you seem remarkably uninterested in the consequences of your own.

    You might want to consider the possibility that if “Jane Doe” had gone to the police after her supposed rape, and had been tested with a BAL of 0.10 – 25% more than the level for a drunk-driving charge – then her accusation might have carried quite a bit more weight.

    Considered. Dismissed.

    Because if the sexual assault were of a sort where she was too impaired to give consent, then she was also, most likely, too impaired to make a reliable report — if, indeed, under the circumstances, she had thought to do so.

    I’ll note that a) you’re inventing a hypothetical here, which has even less basis in fact than the claims you have been dismissing, and b) you are once again saying, in effect, ‘If she’d done the right things, this would have come out differently” — which carries with it a strong stench of, you guessed it, victim-blaming; placing the responsibility once more on *her* shoulders.

    You’re not “getting” – or you refuse to consider – the idea that one drink isn’t sufficient to incapacitate someone to the point of being unable to give and rescind consent to sex.

    And you are willfully ignoring the point hj made in the first paragraph *you cited* above — that constantly refilling a glass means that it is very easy for someone to have more than “one drink”.

    I’m glad you admit that:

    But the point is that abilities diminish with increasing BALs, and at different points one is no longer able to do certain tasks. Like drive a vehicle – at 0.08%, not after sniffing a wine-cork – or consent to sex.

    So; you’d agree that if the source was above a certain BAL, and Michael Shermer had sex with her, unable to consent, that was rape?

    That is, after all, what follows from what you’ve said.

    In-groups and out-groups are relative: the Russians might think they’re the in-group relative to the Americans while the Americans might think they are the in-group relative to the Russians.

    I notice you immediately move to a large geographical separation for your example — perhaps you should consider why you had to do that, rather than staying within a single area.

    (Hint: The answer is that you’re trying to remove, insofar as possible, the clarity of “This group is clearly more powerful than this one” that the entire metaphor of “punching up vs. punching down” incorporates.

    And, considering you think it ok for “the weak to poke at the strong”, I would say that you identify with the weak, that that is the in-group.

    Well, I can’t speak for hj, but I know that there are ways in which I identify with *both* groups; which is part of what makes it easier for me to speak about this.

    For example, I’m white. Definitely the privileged group. So I can see what it’s like to hear jokes about “White men can’t jump”, for example, vs. [insert anti-African American joke here].
    I’m also queer. Definitely *not* the privileged group. So I can, again, see what it’s like to hear jokes going each way. And contrast them.

    And you know what? Once I got a bit of a clue (since I started out upper-class white cis male) as to what it felt like to be on the outside? I got a hell of a lot more empathy, and changed my jokes.

    But I figure that qualifies as “privileging” the weak

    A note: Someone above used “weak” and “strong”, but I think using those terms is, to put it mildly, very likely to muck up your thinking, because of the connotations contained within.

    (I also wonder how many PoC would be willing to trade not getting as much flak for jokes for not getting steered into bad mortgage loans, profiled by police, etc., etc., and so forth)

    – would you think it is ok for a member of the weak group to kill a member of the strong group –

    I must apologize to you, Steersman; I thought you owned a straw factory; clearly, it’s a herring fishery.

    Because where on *earth* do you get off making the leap from “Hey, jokes that mock people in a position of less power aren’t cool” to “It’s OK for a member of an oppressed class to kill a member of the oppressors”?

    Because I figure that that is exactly what a categorical application of your “standard” is tantamount to.

    Then you clearly fail completely to understand the “standard”.

    It’s a standard for jokes. That’s been presented from the start.
    It can be extended to “Hey, let’s take the relative positions of power/privilege into account when we are considering our judgments/analysis” — as in “Hey, look — an underprivileged person is taking the risk of claiming fault from a privileged person, let’s factor that in to our opinions on mutual credibility.”

    To go from that to killing people — or, indeed, anything like that — is a leap that would put Bob Beamon to shame, and should put you to shame as well.

  241. 241
    Pitchguest

    Gee, proof of libel. Funny.

    And what do you mean, ‘you people’?

  242. 242
    Kevin

    No. It’s not.

    Sorry, but you know precisely and exactly zero. And therefore, anything you say in the future will be judged by your demonstration that you know precisely and exactly zero.

    Way to destroy your own credibility first shot out of the gate.

  243. 243
    Steersman

    Dave W:

    Dave: Your own Wikipedia reference shows that a BAC of 0.06-0.09 impairs reasoning, a level that can be reached (estimating) by a woman weighing 160 pounds after only 8.3 oz of wine, or 1 and 2/3 “standard” glasses, within 40 minutes. It doesn’t take a lot.

    True. But the question is at what level is one no longer able to give and rescind consent to sex. If you take a look at that “Progressive effects of alcohol” chart (1) you’ll note that stupor and “loss of understanding” doesn’t take place until a BAL of 0.20-0.29 – rather a long distance from 0.08. You might also note that the “relative risk of an accident” is only 30% at a BAL of 0.20 so, presumably, people are generally able to operate vehicles at that level. And likewise decide whether one is being raped or not, and take steps to prevent it. While it is of course moot where in that range that that “ability to consent” is lost, I would say it is a decided stretch to insist on a BAC of 0.08.

    As for the utility of that measure, one might note that the local constabularies don’t rely on subjective estimations of inebriation to charge people with related and consequential crimes associated with the use of vehicles. I find it rather hard to understand why so many seem so reluctant to consider that method in cases of rape. As Lord Kelvin put it (2):

    Kelvin: I often say that when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind; it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely, in your thoughts, advanced to the stage of science, whatever the matter may be.

    And, as a specific case in point, you might want to take a look at this YouTube video (3) from IntegralMath which discussed a recent case in Washington where a man was charged with raping a woman. As both supposed victim and perpetrator were apparently quite drunk there seems to be some justification for thinking, as Justicar suggested, that had the woman been tested for BAL as soon as she had reported it, and if there had been a legally specified level for “too drunk to consent to sex” then the results of the trial might have been very different.

    Your University of Wikipedia law degree is worth every penny.

    Indeed. The price was right. Although I hope you’re not throwing stones or looking down your nose at my alma mater. While it may have, probably does have, some limitations, I would argue that it has rather substantially contributed to and improved the quality of discussions on the Internet. “The People’s University” – so to speak.

    —-
    1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_alcohol_level#Blood_Alcohol_Level_Chart”;
    2) “_http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/William_Thomson”;
    3) “_http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9qG0jnNLV0”;

  244. 244
    Kevin

    So for giggles, I just measured the volume of a “standard” restaurant/hotel style wine glass filled to the brim. (I go to a LOT of hotel/restaurants and the style of wine glass I have at home conforms to theirs pretty much exactly — except theirs has slightly thicker glass to reduce breakage.)

    A full wine glass is more than 16 ounces. Even giving a half-inch or so of “room” at the top is a solid 16 ounces of wine.

    750 mL (ie, one “standard” bottle of wine) = 25 ounces. So, one “full” glass of wine = 2/3rds of a bottle. The government-recommended “serving” of wine = 5 ounces. In other words, FIVE “official” servings of wine per bottle, which is equivalent in alcohol to five shots of 80 proof liquor or five 12-ounce bottles of beer.

    That’s THREE full servings of alcohol in only a single “full” wine glass.

    Add to that the “topping off” factor, and it’s not hard to come up with consuming a complete bottle of wine in pretty much no time at all. I’m a pretty large guy (>225 lbs), and consuming an entire bottle of wine will make me pretty toasty.

  245. 245
    Snowwy

    Pitchguest:
    It helps if you don’t post sloppily. You appear to be asking me about a “you people” comment I *didn’t make*. Wake up, I was talking to YOU DIRECTLY, the one and only Pitchguest. So that joke of yours? Even less funny than it looks. YMMV.

  246. 246
    Snowwy

    jhornbeck: Absent additional evidence, we are justified in concluding that Shermer likely used alcohol to commit sexual assault, whether intentional or not.”>
    Steersman: Asserting he did so looks “actionable per se” – i.e., he would therefore be justified in suing for libel. You may wish to risk that possibility, but I think I’ll pass, thanks.

    Here’s where you can see clear through the faux reasonable act. Here’s where that putative fairness Steersman pretends to hold dear falls right over. You see, he’s more than happy to spend all this time defending Shermer against these accusations, to call them out as libel “per se”, yet has no regard whatsoever for the victims. None. Where is the concern for the people who have spoken against Shermer? Why it’s COMPLETELY NONEXISTENT. No, it’s all about decrying the act of libel, or warning people not to make horrid, damaging accusations- most especially not against a big name atheist.

    Being one of those irrational theists, I can only guess at why protecting an atheist might be important no matter his crimes, if any.

    Out-group hostility, my ass.
    One last thing:
    “Although maybe that’s too much like “risk management” for you to be all that palatable.”

    That’s EXACTLY like making me responsible for my own lynching if I travel into the American South, even if I have urgent business there. And so the only answer this deserves is “fuck you, white man”.
    Your turbocharged goalposts don’t fool anyone here. Take them with you and GTFO.

  247. 247
    Dave W

    Steersman @33.1:

    True. But the question is at what level is one no longer able to give and rescind consent to sex. If you take a look at that “Progressive effects of alcohol” chart (1) you’ll note that stupor and “loss of understanding” doesn’t take place until a BAL of 0.20-0.29 – rather a long distance from 0.08.

    That’s pretty disgusting that you don’t seem to think that people don’t make wrong decisions due to alcohol-reduced reasoning skills until they’re close to passing out. An inability to consent doesn’t mean not being able to speak, it means that deciding whether consent should be given or not may be based on flawed reasoning.

    You might also note that the “relative risk of an accident” is only 30% at a BAL of 0.20 so, presumably, people are generally able to operate vehicles at that level.

    But they do so poorly, weaving on the roads, braking inappropriately, etc. The fact that every DUI doesn’t end in a wreck doesn’t mean that drinking and driving is at all acceptable.

    While it is of course moot where in that range that that “ability to consent” is lost, I would say it is a decided stretch to insist on a BAC of 0.08.

    I didn’t insist on any such thing. I was simply pointing out that your own source suggests that a BAC as low as 0.06 can result in inhibited reasoning that could impair someone’s ability to freely consent to sex, and that it doesn’t take a whole lot of alcohol to reach that point. Since people react to and process alcohol differently, any fixed level is going to harm some non-rapists and let some real rapists off the hook. Better to look at the evidence.

    Although I hope you’re not throwing stones or looking down your nose at my alma mater. While it may have, probably does have, some limitations, I would argue that it has rather substantially contributed to and improved the quality of discussions on the Internet.

    In this case, you might want to go on to the Google Graduate Law School, and read what defamation and First Amendment lawyers (like Ken White) have to say about similar cases to the one that might someday be brought against PZ Myers. That is, if you want to move ahead. If you’d prefer being the Zonker Harris of Internet Law, it’s your choice.

  248. 248
    Steersman

    Snowy:

    Snowy: You see, he’s more than happy to spend all this time defending Shermer against these accusations, to call them out as libel “per se”, yet has no regard whatsoever for the victims.

    Someone else here who apparently got a D- in reading comprehension on his last test. Do show me, and the ladies and gentlemen of the jury here, where I’ve actually defended “Shermer against these accusations” as I most certainly did not say that he had not raped that woman. To assert there is a victim is to assert there was a crime committed. There is certainly an accusation on the table and some hearsay evidence or accounts to suggest that a crime may have occurred, but no judgement from any court of the land – apart from some kangaroo ones – that it did so.

    Snowy: And so the only answer this deserves is “fuck you, white man”.

    Classy. I guess that’s what hjhornbeck would call “punching up the power gradient”, but what I would call either boorish or, sociologically speaking, “in-group morality, out-group hostility”, or maybe even racism. But how about I say, “fuck you, black man”? And if I wished to put an edge on that I could even replace the last phrase with “the N-word”.

  249. 249
    Steersman

    Dave W:

    Dave: An inability to consent doesn’t mean not being able to speak, it means that deciding whether consent should be given or not may be based on flawed reasoning.

    may be based on flawed reasoning” – not necessarily is based on flawed reasoning. You might want to consider giving some serious thought to the difference there. I know many in this rather benighted neck of the woods are, apparently, congenitally averse to using dictionaries, but this quote (1) might forestall the horror of actually handling or opening one:

    may 1 (m)
    aux.v. Past tense might (mt)
    2. Used to indicate a certain measure of likelihood or possibility: It may rain this afternoon.

    Possibility not certainty. There is, mirabile dictu, a significant difference there, as much as you and many others might wish to whitewash it away.

    Dave: I didn’t insist on any such thing. I was simply pointing out that your own source suggests that a BAC as low as 0.06 can result in inhibited reasoning that could impair someone’s ability to freely consent to sex, and that it doesn’t take a whole lot of alcohol to reach that point.

    Apart from noting that I hadn’t actually said that you had, I figure it is a bit of stretch to assert that the article “suggests that a BAC as low as 0.06 can result in inhibited reasoning that could impair someone’s ability to freely consent to sex” since I see absolutely no discussion there about what levels of cognition are necessary to do that.

    Dave: In this case, you might want to go on to the Google Graduate Law School, and read what defamation and First Amendment lawyers (like Ken White) have to say about similar cases to the one that might someday be brought against PZ Myers.

    While I’ll agree that it is somewhat iffy whether the case will go to trial, since you seem to have graduated already from that school, maybe you would care to provide some facts to support whatever it is that you’re trying to suggest there.


    1) “_http://www.thefreedictionary.com/May”;

  250. 250
    Bennie Crouch

    In the immortal words of Martin Luther King,

    I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
    Martin Luther King Jr.

    Steersman, I, as a black man will endeavour to treat you, and EVERYONE I engage with, in accordance with the contents of your character as has been presented over these brief messages. I’ll go further and say I would never denigrate you based on race but hold only your ideals up for scrutiny. With that being said, I think several key aspects of critical, skeptical thinking are being overlooked. As we so often tell religious people, our non-belief in a proposition is in no way shape or form an assertion that a given proposition is not true.

    Further, typical skeptics hold with the belief that once sufficient proof is presented for any claim, non-belief will no longer be a valid position to hold. Of course, every individual person has their own “burden of proof” levels that need to be fulfilled. The “believers” of the allegations raised by PZM seem to be upset with the “non-believers” because the NB’s are saying their burden of proof hasn’t been met.

    Herein lies the meat of the issue. No one has any obligation to prove to anyone elses satisfaction, any claim being made at all on these boards. Excepting individuals who have responded to other’s whom opinions they disagree with. The “believers” are well within their rights to ignore any and all comments from NBers. If we are going to have open, intellectually honest discussions about this topic, I sincerely think we will need to focus more on addressing the merits of our opponents arguments.

  251. 251
    Bennie Crouch

    The only answer his response warrants is a racist retort? I’ve been reading all the comments posted, and in exactly NONE of them has he exhibited the behaviour you accuse him of. But seriously though. “Fuck off white man”? On the eve of the anniversary of MLK’s I Have A Dream speech even…

  252. 252
    imnotandrei

    OK. When someone starts going to the dictionary for “May”, it’s pretty clear — anyone want to chip in $0.05 for the fund to just buy Steersman his own bridge, so he can go live under it like a proper troll?

    (To add to that, this: maybe you would care to provide some facts to support whatever it is that you’re trying to suggest there. just goes to show that he’s asking for the same things that have been provided to him again, again, and again during this discussion. Inability to read, or willful ignorance? Pick one. I’m betting, judging from his skill at hairsplitting, that it’s the latter. Maybe $0.10 for the bridge fund?)

  253. 253
    Snowwy

    Oh, so I see. I’m expected to sit here silently while you tolerate the mountains of bullshit he’s shoveling in service to making women property. Good to know.

  254. 254
    Steersman

    Bennie Crouch:

    Crouch: Steersman, I, as a black man will endeavour to treat you, and EVERYONE I engage with, in accordance with the contents of your character as has been presented over these brief messages. I’ll go further and say I would never denigrate you based on race but hold only your ideals up for scrutiny.

    Thanks – a sensible position, I think. One might argue that the Internet has had some benefits in that regard since our physical attributes tend to be much less visible than our psychological and philosophical ones. Which tends, I think, to reduce the amount of pre-judging, of prejudice, in play.

    Crouch: With that being said, I think several key aspects of critical, skeptical thinking are being overlooked. As we so often tell religious people, our non-belief in a proposition is in no way shape or form an assertion that a given proposition is not true.

    I think that is quite true, both in general and here on this blog, to a greater or lesser extent depending on issues and persons. While the recent post by John Loftus (1) on this contretemps may be exhibiting some bias, I think it also highlights some real and problematic consequences of a dearth, in some quarters, of that “critical, skeptical thinking” you talked of.

    Crouch: Further, typical skeptics hold with the belief that once sufficient proof is presented for any claim, non-belief will no longer be a valid position to hold. Of course, every individual person has their own “burden of proof” levels that need to be fulfilled. The “believers” of the allegations raised by PZM seem to be upset with the “non-believers” because the NB’s are saying their burden of proof hasn’t been met.

    Yes, generally agree, although one might argue that “upset” is a bit of an understatement, with “pitchforks and torches” not being much of an overstatement. Relative to which, you might be interested in the article (2) on Groupthink, salient elements of which are:

    Wikipedia:
    2.Stereotyping those who are opposed to the group as weak, evil, biased, spiteful, impotent, or stupid.
    3.Direct pressure to conform placed on any member who questions the group, couched in terms of “disloyalty”

    However, while I tend to agree with you about the “burden of proof”, I think a more important or weighty issue is the published accusation of wrong-doing on Shermer’s part. While we each are entitled to, and will, make up our own minds as to the probablity of his guilt, and will do so on the basis of privileged or common knowledge, to actually assert and publish that accusation seems to leave those doing so open to charges of having committed libel. Something which I’m not sure is particularly beneficial for the atheist-skeptic movement.

    Crouch: Herein lies the meat of the issue. No one has any obligation to prove to anyone else’s satisfaction, any claim being made at all on these boards. Excepting individuals who have responded to others [whose] opinions they disagree with. The “believers” are well within their rights to ignore any and all comments from NBers.

    Generally agree. However, I think there may be some obligation or wisdom in coming to some sort of consensus opinion on at least some of those claims, their consequences, or their implications. Otherwise, I think there is some danger of everyone “riding madly off in all directions” which might not be to anyone’s benefits – except maybe some opportunists of one stripe or another.

    Crouch: If we are going to have open, intellectually honest discussions about this topic, I sincerely think we will need to focus more on addressing the merits of our opponents arguments.

    Agreed. Although the apparent difficulty we have in doing so – rather surprising at least in a group which claims to be guided by “critical, skeptical thinking” – is, I think, a serious concern.

    —-
    1) “_http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.fi/2013/08/is-pz-myers-demagogue-opportunist-or.html?m=1#disqus_thread”;
    2) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groupthink”;

  255. 255
    imnotandrei

    Do show me, and the ladies and gentlemen of the jury here, where I’ve actually defended “Shermer against these accusations” as I most certainly did not say that he had not raped that woman.

    Well, let’s see: To assert there is a victim is to assert there was a crime committed. There is certainly an accusation on the table and some hearsay evidence or accounts to suggest that a crime may have occurred, but no judgement from any court of the land – apart from some kangaroo ones – that it did so.

    Let’s start with there; because by doubting, and making a repeated point, of doubting the very existence of victims in this case, and in others, you are defending Shermer.

    Every time you tried to claim that Myers has libelled Shermer — and you did, repeatedly, until it was pointed out to you multiple times that that claim was undecided — you were defending Shermer.

    Every time you try and dig out another citation to cloud the question of whether or not, even if things had happened, they were “rape” — you are defending Shermer.

    You question the testimony — you question the validity of concluding the testimony in fact qualifies as rape — you question whether the woman, if her story was true, had taken enough responsible actions.

    The fact that you do so by repeated implication does not protect you here; while a court must construe according to the law, we can construe according to our wits, and anyone reading this who did not come in agreeing with you is not going to leave agreeing with you.

    Classy.

    When you act like a jackass, but dress it up in pretty words, and someone calls you on it, calling it “classy” is just another way of asserting privilege.

    but what I would call either boorish

    Oh, but telling people “Hey, you need to take some personal responsibility to avoid being raped” isn’t? Like I said, you dress up victim-blaming in pretty words, and then complain when someone calls you on it?

    Classy.

    But how about I say, “fuck you, black man”?

    By ignoring (indeed, entirely deleting) the logical point he made, which called you on the logical consequence of your claims (just as you tried to do earlier with your ridiculous “10 men for 5-10 years rather than 1 victim” or your similarly ludicrous “Would it be OK for the weaker to kill the stronger?” question.), that’s what you are, in effect, saying — you’re blowing him off, and specifically blowing off the racial implications of what you’ve said.

    Answer his point — or admit you can’t.

    And if I wished to put an edge on that I could even replace the last phrase with “the N-word”.

    See that moral high ground you tried to claim with “classy”, earlier?

    No, you can’t, because you’ve just fallen so far away from it that you couldn’t see it with a telescope.

    The fact that you *consider* this an appropriate response, that this is a part of your potential vocabulary, says everything I need to hear.

    I called you troll earlier, and now I see that’s the *best* interpretation to put on this; the other is that you’re just another bigot dressing yourself up in fancy language and trying to appear “reasonable”, when what you are is rationalizing.

  256. 256
    imnotandrei

    So, what do you think of this point, Bennie:

    One last thing:
    “Although maybe that’s too much like “risk management” for you to be all that palatable.”

    That’s EXACTLY like making me responsible for my own lynching if I travel into the American South, even if I have urgent business there.

    Are you going to answer the points, or are you going to wring your hands and worry about his tone?

    I’ve cited this before, but I’ll recommend it to you again — Kochman’s Black and White Styles in Conflict, in which, early on, it points out that asking an oppressed group to drop its anger to come to a discussion or a negotiation table is an unfair and unjust tactic — because it gives the oppressors what they want, before anything even starts — which is the silencing of the anger of the oppressed.

    “Fuck off white man”? On the eve of the anniversary of MLK’s I Have A Dream speech even…

    Pray tell, what is the polite way to tell a bigot that they’re being a bigot? “Excuse me, sir, but I think you might want to consider what you just said, and realize that you’re being perhaps a tad inappropriate here in your description of how people ought to behave, and that there are unfortunate racial implications to what you say?”

    Finally — considering the number of things Steersman has dropped on the floor, it’s not as if he’s in a position to cry out for other people to give him responses.

  257. 257
    Steersman

    imnotandrei:

    imnotandrei: Let’s start with there; because by doubting, and making a repeated point, of doubting the very existence of victims in this case, and in others, you are defending Shermer.

    Horse-fucking-shit. All we have at this point is an accusation from some “unnamed” person – “buttressed” by some innuendo and hearsay – and an accused. Do note the following (1):

    vic•tim (vktm)
    n.
    1. One who is harmed or killed by another: a victim of a mugging.
    3. One who is harmed by or made to suffer from an act, circumstance, agency, or condition: victims of war.
    4. A person who suffers injury, loss, or death as a result of a voluntary undertaking: You are a victim of your own scheming.
    5. A person who is tricked, swindled, or taken advantage of: the victim of a cruel hoax.

    It is simply an open question whether anyone has been “harmed”, “suffered a loss”, or “been taken advantage of”. Your assertions to the contrary are nothing more than your biases and prejudices – your fucking pre-judgements. I’m not defending Shermer as he could be either guilty or innocent of that charge. What I am defending is his right to a fair trial, his right to sue people for libel, his right not to be railroaded or hung out to dry by mob “justice”.

    You might want to save those nickels and buy yourself a good dictionary.

    —-
    1) “_http://www.thefreedictionary.com/victim”;

  258. 258
    Dave W

    Steersman, your Argumentum ad Webster’s was pointlessly insulting. After all, the problem with someone whose reasoning is impaired is that it’s not possible for them to state with certainty that their reasoning is not impaired. Someone who has had enough alcohol to impair their reasoning cannot reliably reason their way towards saying (even to themselves) that their reasoning is sound. It may not be, but it might, and without mind-reading or egregious screw-ups, it’s impossible to say. It’s not facts that you’re missing, it’s simple logic.

    Apart from noting that I hadn’t actually said that you had…

    So you were referring to someone not involved in this thread who “insist[s] on a BAC of 0.08″ for consent?

  259. 259
    doubtthat

    I’ll admit to having been confused about the implications and meanings of “per se” – and I still find it somewhat ambiguous, and question some of your interpretations of it as well.

    What it means is that the statement is necessary libelous, regardless of interpretation.

    Take the statement, “John is a Jew.” If John filed a suit claiming libel for the publication of that statement, we would obviously question whether it was defamatory. Now, imagine you read that published in a paper in Berlin in 1938.

    Some statements require an explanation of context to prove that they’re libelous or slanderous. Statements that are libelous, per se, don’t require any context. Accusing someone of sexual impropriety, or whatever was in that list, automatically satisfies that element of the complaint.

    That does not mean, however, that the Plaintiff would necessarily recover, because if the statement, “John is a murderer,” happens to be true, then the statement isn’t libel, in the legal sense.

    It’s confusing because it’s a shitty use of words. The tort of “libel” has several elements, one of which is whether the statement in question was “libelous.” “Libel per se” does not mean the elements of the tort are satisfied, just that the statement was properly insulting.

  260. 260
    Dave W

    Steersman:

    What I am defending is his right to a fair trial…

    Since Shermer has not been charged with any crime, nor had a lawsuit filed against him, what trial does he have a right to?

    …his right to sue people for libel…

    Limited by appropriate anti-SLAPP legislation, of course.

    …his right not to be railroaded or hung out to dry by mob “justice”.

    Yes, because violent metaphors are analogous to what’s being done to Shermer.

  261. 261
    imnotandrei

    You can claim all you like that you are not defending Shermer because you haven’t said “I think he’s not guilty”. That’s setting an awfully high bar for “defending”.

    Horse-fucking-shit. All we have at this point is an accusation from some “unnamed” person – “buttressed” by some innuendo and hearsay – and an accused.

    And this is not defending the accused how? You are dismissing the supporting evidence, between using scoff quotes and dismissive language, you make it very clear what you think of the accusation, and the people doing it, and where your sympathies lie.

    I’m not defending Shermer as he could be either guilty or innocent of that charge. What I am defending is his right to a fair trial, his right to sue people for libel, his right not to be railroaded or hung out to dry by mob “justice”.

    Actualy, you’ve been claiming he has the right to either a) be proven guilty in a court of law or b) have no one assert that he did something to them, regardless of what their experience was*.

    While at the same time, in various threads, taking positions that make convictions harder.

    And dismissing as invalid the evidence against him.

    That, to me, sure looks like a “defence”.

    (I notice again, BTW, that you’re going back to “OMG, someone has said something not-nice about me, I must fight against it with all my might” while ignoring, once again, the substantiative posts challenging you above you claimed to wish. Your priorities are, once more, clear to anyone who looks at what you answer, and what you ignore.)

  262. 262
    Steersman

    Dave W:

    Dave: Steersman, your Argumentum ad Webster’s was pointlessly insulting.

    Apart from disagreeing with you as that difference between possibility and certainty seems to be the crux of the matter, and as it wasn’t intended to be insulting, I might ask whether you maybe think that the shots about the University of Wikpedia and the Google Graduate Law School were only pointfully insulting. If you have an argument put it on the table, otherwise you might want to deep-six the insults.

    Dave: After all, the problem with someone whose reasoning is impaired is that it’s not possible for them to state with certainty that their reasoning is not impaired.

    True. But one can say the same thing about the ability to drive a vehicle. Some people who are over 0.15 would, apparently or presumably, be entirely capable of making all of the decisions necessary to operate a vehicle. And some people who are only at 0.02 wouldn’t be capable of doing so. The law is, presumably, written to give the “biggest bang for the buck” even though it might well be unfair to some people above or below the limits, at least in some situations. Seems the law is a bit of a blunt instrument, but it seems the only one readily available.

    Similarly with consent to sex: some women, or men, might still be able to credibly give and rescind consent in most situations at, say, 0.15 while others might have a challenge at 0.02. IF there was a law for consent similar to the one for driving then there certainly could be cases that would fall through the cracks. But if there are more cases that are judged fairly and equitably because of the law than without it then one might reasonably argue that it would be a good law to implement. Bit of a conjecture, or a working hypothesis, but I don’t see that it is one that should be rejected out-of-hand.

    Dave: So you were referring to someone not involved in this thread who “insist[s] on a BAC of 0.08″ for consent?

    I mentioned the BAL in the context of drinking and the consent to sex in the Pit about a week ago – in the context of Justicar’s video – where I mentioned limits of 0.01 and 0.08, and on Sarah Jones’ blog over a week ago. You might want to consider that my comment was similar to the use of the plural “you”.

  263. 263
    imnotandrei

    Oh, and while we’re at it, Steersman, you once again ignored:

    By ignoring (indeed, entirely deleting) the logical point he made, which called you on the logical consequence of your claims (just as you tried to do earlier with your ridiculous “10 men for 5-10 years rather than 1 victim” or your similarly ludicrous “Would it be OK for the weaker to kill the stronger?” question.), that’s what you are, in effect, saying — you’re blowing him off, and specifically blowing off the racial implications of what you’ve said.

    Answer his point — or admit you can’t.

    That’s twice now.

  264. 264
    Steersman

    imnotandrei:

    imnotandrei: You can claim all you like that you are not defending Shermer because you haven’t said “I think he’s not guilty”. That’s setting an awfully high bar for “defending”.

    And yours is ridiculously low. “Oh, well, maybe Shermer is not really guilty of that accusation” “Heretic! Apostasy! Burn him at the stake!”

    Steersman: Horse-fucking-shit. All we have at this point is an accusation from some “unnamed” person – “buttressed” by some innuendo and hearsay – and an accused.

    imnotandrei: And this is not defending the accused how? You are dismissing the supporting evidence, between using scoff quotes and dismissive language ….

    It’s not fucking evidence that is open to everyone to assess on its merits, only something passed around within some fucking inaccessible and unaccountable star-chamber. It’s fucking innuendo and hearsay from an accuser that, for all we know for sure, is a figment of PZ’s imagination, or the result of some collusion. What I’m dismissing – with extreme prejudice – is your insistence that that should be sufficient to hang Shermer out to dry.

  265. 265
    Steersman

    imnotandrei:

    imnotandrei: Oh, and while we’re at it, Steersman, you once again ignored:

    By ignoring (indeed, entirely deleting) the logical point he made ….

    What logical point is that? If you haven’t the courtesy or time to quote properly and provide references and links so I know who has said what and where and to whom without burying everything in walls of text then I sure the fuck don’t have time to search, parse everything out, and respond.

  266. 266
    Steersman

    Snowwy:

    Where the fuck do you get the idea that I have any motive or desire for “making women property”? What fucking evidence do you have for that charge?

    It is apparently, at best, some sort of stereotyping (1) – judging an individual on the basis of the attributes of some portion of a population; it is the same sort of horseshit that is at the root of sexism (2) and racism (3,4).

    —–
    1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stereotyping”;
    2) “_http://www.thefreedictionary.com/sexism”;
    3) “_http://www.thefreedictionary.com/racism”;
    4) “_http://www.thefreedictionary.com/stereotype”;

  267. 267
    leni

    Steersman:

    You think that if I tell you that I don’t see your point that I’m lying?

    No. I think the fact that you can’t (or won’t) make a coherent statement out of “she was drunk, therefore..” makes your repeated invocation of that premise problematic.

    And also kinda creepy.

  268. 268
    leni

    Lol no Snowwy, you were clear. :)

    That was me insulting Sara Mayhew and her fail Tweet about naval gassing . At Bennie’s expense, not yours.

    Sorry!

  269. 269
    leni

    you people

    Yes. Did you want to clarify by not reposting the same bullshit all the time?

    Because you could do that.

  270. 270
    leni

    Clarification: coherent and relevant.

  271. 271
    brive1987

    “A) There is no unified FtB narrative.
    B) There is a huge gap between “No one is advocating throwing him in jail” and “He should get a slap on the wrist”. That you don’t see this suggests that your own rotation is confusing you about other people’s.”

    There is a clear consensus amongst the commentators on FtB that Shermer (as a white male skeptic leader) can be accused of rape and not see real world significant impact. It’s part of the whole privilege narrative. I believe the quote that sticks in my mind underscoring this is that ‘he faces at worst a few less Facebook likes’

    You did not address the point that PZ ‘survived’ a rape call that yes, could have destroyed his career, (hence the relevance of my word ‘survived’) – because he was privileged to be able to immediately engage with a specific threat.

    PZ original comment does not explicitly state he was talking about the civil authorities – he could have just as easily meant the Uni authorities. However, the point you failed to address was that when a claim becomes dangerous enough to threaten a career, PZ clearly felt both sides were owed serious attention to have it addressed. Your narrow focus and word twisting what, in context, was a clear POV does you a disservice. Myers was talking about natural justice, not some form of uber legal interpretation. “This girl slandered me, luckily I could take immediate action to prove the woman lied about rape, it I couldn’t I hope I wouldn’t have been factored out of the situation as it became more dangerous”

    The horde has the potential to further damage Shermer’s reputation and Google bomb him. Given the nature of Myers blog I cannot believe this outcome was not factored into his approach. Most of the rest of the interested world is saying “not enough info to call” – the horde however speak with one microphone – “guilty”

    Your whole “Shermer doesn’t get the chance for a proper defence because he has to suck on the bitter fruit of patriarchy” kind of makes me nauseous. It’s this suppression of the rule of law (which forms the basis for our society) in favour of feminist models, that are by no means accepted as real world truth, that demonstrates why your view teeters close to the lunatic fringe.

    I am sure PZ is glad you weren’t out there sprouting this line at the time of his alleged offence.

  272. 272
    Steersman

    Dave W:

    Steersman: What I am defending is his right to a fair trial…

    Dave: Since Shermer has not been charged with any crime, nor had a lawsuit filed against him, what trial does he have a right to?

    Ok, that one might be a stretch, and not particularly relevant at the moment, although it might be more so down the road – a piece. But I was trying to emphasize a difference between a general defense of his rights versus a defense against the specific accusation of him having committed rape.

    Steersman: …his right to sue people for libel…

    Dave: Limited by appropriate anti-SLAPP legislation, of course.

    Haven’t yet read much of the article (1) of course, although this portion sort of leaped out at me:

    Wikipedia: To win an anti-SLAPP motion, the defendant must first show that the lawsuit is based on claims related to constitutionally protected activities, typically First Amendment rights such as free speech, and typically seeks to show that the claim lacks any basis of genuine substance, legal underpinnings, evidence, or prospect of success.

    Maybe it’s a stretch and I might be interpreting it wrong, but offhand I would say that the published accusation of rape being actionable per se would seem to provide more than enough “genuine substance [and] legal underpinnings” to reject that “anti-SLAPP motion”. But that’s just a horse-back guess.

    Steersman: …his right not to be railroaded or hung out to dry by mob “justice”.

    Dave: Yes, because violent metaphors are analogous to what’s being done to Shermer.

    You mean sort of like “killing me with laughter”? That a metaphor might suggest some violence doesn’t mean that it is actually present in the situation described. But while I haven’t followed up on the “hung out to dry” metaphor, consider this definition (2) for railroaded:

    v. rail•road•ed, rail•road•ing, rail•roads
    v.tr.
    3. Informal To convict (an accused person) without a fair trial or on trumped-up charges.

    Looks fairly accurate to me, or one might argue there’s some fair degree of correspondence with Shermer’s circumstances.

    The thing is that I think that much of the “anecdata” that I’ve seen and read in the last while, generally starting from Jason Thibeault’s timeline post and assuming there’s a substantial amount of accuracy in them, seems only to support some general opinion that Shermer’s apparently been somewhat sleazy with the women in his life, that he was, maybe, somewhat “indiscriminate” in his choice of partners.

    However, I think that none of that necessarily proves that he raped “Jane Doe”, that attempting to use the foregoing to justify a charge of rape – if not in a court of law then in the court of public opinion – looks rather like trying to “convict on trumped-up charges”. One might even argue that it looks rather analogous to trying to discredit the testimony of a rape victim because of her “history”, because her previous behaviours had qualified as “slutty” – i.e., engaging in indiscriminate and promiscuous sexual behaviour.

    But that apparent leap of prejudgement and bias, if not of “faith”, to the published accusation that he had raped that woman is the rather problematic crossing of the Rubicon. It seems that all we can say, or should say, at the moment is that he may or may not have done so. But not at all sure what courses of action or policy are possible starting from there, although that might be a worthwhile discussion to be having.

    —-
    1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategic_lawsuit_against_public_participation”;
    2) “_http://www.thefreedictionary.com/railroaded”;

  273. 273
    imnotandrei

    There is a clear consensus amongst the commentators on FtB that Shermer (as a white male skeptic leader) can be accused of rape and not see real world significant impact.

    Well, what real world significant impact has he seen?

    It’s part of the whole privilege narrative.

    You see, it’s funny – -sometimes, narratives come *from* somewhere. And, given the way people have reacted to those accused of rape in the past, and the way people reacted this time, I think it’s a reasonable assumption that Shermer is *not* facing the kind of consequences that he would be facing were he to go to trial.

    Let me try and make this clear, one last time:

    A woman speaks to her experience, through an intermediary.
    There is an immediate reaction that, unless she can prove by the standard of a criminal proceeding that she is telling the truth, she should just shut up (saying she could be sued for libel, hoping she’d be sued, etc. are simply different ways of phrasing this.)
    When it is pointed out that the person she is accusing is not facing the punishments of a criminal accusation (he’s not going to jail, he’s not even being, say, sued civilly) the response is “Well, you’re still causing him a lot of damage, so see our previous point.”

    When, in fact, the evidence for the damage isn’t there. There are plenty of cases of people being accused of rape and sliding by with their careers almost untouched. Heck, there are people who have been *convicted* of rape/sexual assault who still have their supporters.

    You did not address the point that PZ ‘survived’ a rape call that yes, could have destroyed his career, (hence the relevance of my word ‘survived’) – because he was privileged to be able to immediately engage with a specific threat.

    I note your use of the word “privileged” here — no; he was *able* to. Not every ability is a privilege, and watering down the term is not helpful.

    PZ original comment does not explicitly state he was talking about the civil authorities – he could have just as easily meant the Uni authorities. However, the point you failed to address was that when a claim becomes dangerous enough to threaten a career, PZ clearly felt both sides were owed serious attention to have it addressed.

    And there is, so far, no evidence that this claim *is* serious enough to threaten a career. For all the people ranting on about how there isn’t enough evidence to believe the accusation, I’m stunned at how many just take for granted that Shermer’s career is in imminent jeopardy.

    (As I have pointed out elsewhere, there seems an interesting contrast — on the one hand, Myers is dismissed by many people as utterly without credibility, yet somehow this person without credibility making an accusation no one should believe is putting someone else’s career in grave jeopardy because….)

    Your narrow focus and word twisting what, in context, was a clear POV does you a disservice. Myers was talking about natural justice, not some form of uber legal interpretation. “This girl slandered me, luckily I could take immediate action to prove the woman lied about rape, it I couldn’t I hope I wouldn’t have been factored out of the situation as it became more dangerous”

    If the woman ever presses any kind of legal action, or, indeed, professional action, I will support you in insisting she come forward and identify herself, at least to the authorities doing the judging.

    However, until then, I at least draw a distinction between “legal proceedings following an accusation” and “I am warning someone about my experiences”.

    The horde has the potential to further damage Shermer’s reputation and Google bomb him.

    And this hypothetical possibility is supposed to be more important than the hypothetical possibility that, by warning people, Myers has helped prevent a rape why?

    We can toss hypotheticals at each other all day long.

    Given the nature of Myers blog I cannot believe this outcome was not factored into his approach.

    Ladies and gentleman, the Argument from Incredulity. (With a sideways insult tossed in as well.)

    Most of the rest of the interested world is saying “not enough info to call” – the horde however speak with one microphone – “guilty”

    It’s funny — I’ve seen lots of people going “Well, we’ll watch out for him”, some people going “I think from this and the associated reports he’s probably guilty”, and a lot of people going “He’s not guilty until someone proves he is, and proves it by a criminal standard!” (often combined with “And PZ Myers is terrible for suggesting it, and everyone knows how he has no credibility, and Shermer’s the victim here.)

    Your whole “Shermer doesn’t get the chance for a proper defence because he has to suck on the bitter fruit of patriarchy” kind of makes me nauseous.

    Unwelcome truths often do that.

    It’s this suppression of the rule of law

    Tell me — do you believe that scientific truth is determined by courts? I’m betting no. Do you believe that aesthetic judgments are the realm of courts? Again, I’m betting no.

    Yet here you are, setting “law” up as the sole judging factor — which, as I’ve noted again and again and again, privileges the status quo and the powerful. For example, by the models frequently cited here, it privileges a man’s reputation above a possibly raped woman — and possible rape victims in the future — if you hold (which, fortunately, libel law does not) to the “innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, and saying guilty is libel” rule.

    There may well be better ways to handle this — but so far, the onus has always been placed upon the victims to figure out the better ways, and if those ways make the powerful less so, they get tremendous pushback. (Just look at how long the struggle went on over accepting the idea that marital rape was rape.)

    So, *if* Shermer is a victim here, the machineries that make him a victim are those put into place by people with little or no other recourse. My point was to look at who has the power, and who is responsible for creating the situations where the rule of law breaks down — if it does.

    Wait: let’s try this from another angle:

    If you want to reduce people hiding in fear, does it make more sense to increase their fear, or address it?
    Do you hear all the people going “Looking at this, no wonder people don’t report?” — every time you hear that, that’s a sign that people’s fear is *increasing*, which makes the problems that you decry in Shermer’s case *more* likely.

    Because what happens, every time someone comes out with one of these “Oh, but if they were both drinking, did they rape each other?” or “What was her BAC? If she’d reported right then, maybe there could have been a conviction, but she didn’t…” or “Well, if she didn’t report it, why is she bringing it up now?” or “You’re making it hard to say if it’s consensual, you prude!” — that’s increasing the fear.

    Making it harder to report, making it harder to convict, making the suffering greater if you do so — *increases* the whispering campaigns, the quiet warnings, the occasional loud warnings.

    Does that make sense?

  274. 274
    imnotandrei

    And yours is ridiculously low. “Oh, well, maybe Shermer is not really guilty of that accusation” “Heretic! Apostasy! Burn him at the stake!”

    Citation, please.

    There is a difference, a huge difference, one I suspect even you can see, between “Maybe he’s not guilty” and, say, “He’s innocent until proven guilty in a court of law”, or “PZ Myers is libelling him”, or “How can we know? All we know is that it was irresponsible of Myers to do this.”

    Got it?

    (Also, it’s clearly acceptable to, in response to “I think Michael Shermer is probably guilty”, go “Destroyer of the Rule of Law! Opener of the Gates to Barbarians!” — or, at least, you think it is. Your double-standard is showing.)

    In the one, you’re making a statement about Shermer. In the other, you’re making a judgment about other people’s behavior based on a presumption of innocence, or setting up a standard which you already know is going to be nearly impossible to meet.

    It’s not fucking evidence that is open to everyone to assess on its merits, only something passed around within some fucking inaccessible and unaccountable star-chamber.

    Oh, so people coming out and saying ‘Yes, I’ve heard that” in public blog comments is evidence in an unaccountable star chamber. Gotcha. Right. Or updates with quotes and names attached in blog posts.

    Because part of the evidence *is* the “This accusation has credibility because it fits in with a pattern I’ve been warned about/saw before this all came up.” That’s evidence. You may not like it, but it’s evidence.

    It’s fucking innuendo and hearsay from an accuser that, for all we know for sure, is a figment of PZ’s imagination, or the result of some collusion.

    Steersman: I wonder what evidence you have of anyone claiming that that “unnamed” source was lying.

    As was pointed out earlier, I submit that claiming the source doesn’t exist — or, indeed, expressing significant skepticism on that point — could be seen as fulfilling this question of yours from way back when.

    I notice that as you get more irritated — at least, I am guessing that’s why the Anglo-Saxon for coitus has suddenly become very prevalent in your speech — you reveal more and more of your position; you’re now quite willing to entertain the notion that Myers was lying about the whole thing, while before you’ve been trying quite carefully to tread a “moderate” ground.

    I submit that anyone who thinks it is at least as likely that Myers made the whole thing up as that Shermer did rape someone is in no position to claim to be in the middle ground.

    (And before you say “I never said that” — when you dismiss the evidence altogether, as you have just done, while bringing up *unprompted* the possibility that it was all made up, or part of some conspiracy — you’re making clear what you consider the likelihood of the two.)

    What I’m dismissing – with extreme prejudice – is your insistence that that should be sufficient to hang Shermer out to dry.

    I’m sorry — in what context is “If I were female, I’d be wary of having drinks with him, and if I were a convention organizer, I’d have to take this into account in weighing whether or not to invite him” “hanging someone out to dry”?

    Because that’s all I’ve been saying I would do. Now, what Shermer does from here on out may affect that further, for good or for ill — but then that’s additional evidence, isn’t it? ;)

  275. 275
    imnotandrei

    Here:
    One last thing:
    “Although maybe that’s too much like “risk management” for you to be all that palatable.”

    That’s EXACTLY like making me responsible for my own lynching if I travel into the American South, even if I have urgent business there.

    Quoted. Of course, if you hadn’t deleted it from the post it was originally posted in, and then redeleted my challenge, you might have had an easier time of it when looking for it.

    Though I understand with all of the posts you’ve left unanswered, and all the points you’ve deleted from the ones you did answer, how you might lose track.

  276. 276
    hjhornbeck
    OK, cool, so you don’t doubt the victim’s story.

    Christ in a sidecar. Are you stupid or are you just intellectually dishonest? Or are you maybe totally deluded or have the reading comprehension of a two-year old? [...]

    Do note in the above, that what I said was “… I’ll readily concede … that many … do so [doubt the victim’s story]. ” And that “…I think that many elements of it are certainly quite plausible … [but] … it is quite reasonable to hold some doubt about the central element of [rape] ….”

    Rather different from your concoction, is it not?

    Sorry, it appears I misread you. In both cases, then, you were doubting the victim’s story. Correct?

  277. 277
    Dave W

    Steersman:

    But that’s just a horse-back guess.

    Yeah, you missed the “or” in the Wikipedia piece: “…typically seeks to show that the claim lacks any basis of genuine substance, legal underpinnings, evidence, or prospect of success.” Any defamation suit Shermer seeks to bring against Myers looks unlikely to succeed, and that, all by itself, can be sufficient basis for an anti-SLAPP motion or countersuit.

    …I think that none of that necessarily proves that he raped “Jane Doe”…

    As if anyone is saying that it does.

    One might even argue that it looks rather analogous to trying to discredit the testimony of a rape victim because of her “history”…

    I certainly hope not. After all, nobody is saying “Shermer has a sleazy history, therefore he’s wrong.” That is, after all, what “discrediting” someone is all about.

    But that apparent leap of prejudgement and bias, if not of “faith”, to the published accusation that he had raped that woman is the rather problematic crossing of the Rubicon.

    Wow. You seriously think that forming a tentative conclusion, subject to modification after the arrival of new evidence, is a point of no return?!

    It seems that all we can say, or should say, at the moment is that he may or may not have done so.

    That would mean that the first-person accounts and substantiation amount to exactly the same conclusion I can make about you right now. Based on what I know about you (almost nothing), I can say with complete confidence that you, Steersman, may or may not have raped that woman. (Hell, I may or may not have raped her, too.) I other words, you’re simply discounting all the evidence we do have as having no effect whatsoever on your conclusion.

    What evidence would you personally require, absent a courtroom and legal standards, to say to yourself “Shermer probably did it?”

    But not at all sure what courses of action or policy are possible starting from there…

    Who is looking for any policy changes? I know some people won’t be buying his books any more, and some other won’t attend conventions he’ll be at. Perhaps some have asked organizers of events to disinvite Shermer.

  278. 278
    Pitchguest

    Snowwy: Please. Even you have to admit that was a fucking stupid thing to say.

  279. 279
    imnotandrei

    Where the fuck do you get the idea that I have any motive or desire for “making women property”? What fucking evidence do you have for that charge?

    I suspect he’s extrapolating — as you’re prone to do, so beware your high horse — from your “personal responsibility” comments, through to his response to you (which you ignored):

    That’s EXACTLY like making me responsible for my own lynching if I travel into the American South, even if I have urgent business there.

    So; by the logic he feels you’re using, that “personal responsibility” jive is, I suspect, a slippery slope back towards the era of protecting women by putting them under the aegis of a man, because, well, otherwise they’ll get raped and they’re responsible for it.

    Or, the slope towards treating women as property, since undercutting their freedom to move about and exist in the world, as he feels you’re doing (and I agree with him on) is undercutting the progress they’ve made.

    And if you don’t like that implication, then perhaps you should see where your desires and your rhetoric don’t line up. It’s one thing to say “Oh, of course rape is bad…” but when you undercut it with “..but women need to show some personal responsibility”, the first part of your statement loses some credibility.

    Of course, if you’d bothered to answer him rather than go off on his tone in the first place, perhaps you wouldn’t have needed this “2×4 up alongside [your] ears.”

  280. 280
    Steersman

    Pitchguest:

    Doncha know that “asking an oppressed group to drop its anger to come to a discussion or a negotiation table is an unfair and unjust tactic” (1); that in the face of that inherently valid, and unquestionable right to their anger that we proponents and primary beneficiaries of “THE PATRIARCHY” are just supposed to “shut up and listen”?

    *spits*


    1) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/ashleymiller/2013/08/21/michael-shermer-legal-fund/#comment-105870″;

  281. 281
    imnotandrei

    Ah! Hello, False Dichotomy! I was wondering when you were going to show up!

    asking an oppressed group to drop its anger to come to a discussion or a negotiation table is an unfair and unjust tactic

    I made that comment, and I stand by it.

    that in the face of that inherently valid, and unquestionable right to their anger that we proponents and primary beneficiaries of “THE PATRIARCHY” are just supposed to “shut up and listen”?

    And here we are. No; you’re allowed to talk too. In fact, no one manages to shut you up. Listening might help you *learn* something, and if you’re interested in having a real discussion, rather than a lecture in which you explain why you’re right and someone else is wrong, you might give it a try.

    Because every time you pull the “you’re too angry to argue here” or “classy….” and dismiss someone for their tone, you’re telling them to shut up — you don’t really care if they listen or not — because they’re not following your approved sort of discourse.

    Why is it OK to tell a rape victim that they should take some personal responsibility for their suffering but not OK to say you’re being a bigot?

  282. 282
    Steersman

    hjhornbeck:

    hjhornbeck: Sorry, it appears I misread you. ….

    No problemo. With all of the detail associated with these issues it is, perhaps, not surprising that even the best of us lose the thread at times … ;-)

    hjhornbeck: …. In both cases, then, you were doubting the victim’s story. Correct?

    Not quite sure what your “both cases” is referring to. As I see it, one case is where I conceded that “many do doubt the victim’s story”, and the other is the rather different case where I personally doubted elements of the supposed victim’s story.

    You might want to consider, in the latter case and generally speaking, that elements of any given story can seem entirely plausible while others are quite suspect – flood: yes; Noah’s Ark: no. And, relative to “Jane Doe’s” story, I will, as a point of reference, readily concede that it seems entirely plausible, not proven but plausible, that she and Shermer had been drinking and had sex. What I at least raise an eyebrow at is the part where she insists that she had been unable to consent to the latter and that that constituted rape.

    Somewhat apropos or as a case-in-point, you might want to check this (1) out. It is, apparently, in reference to the sad tale of woe and near-rape that PZ was peddling in his “Grenade” post (2), to wit:

    Mary Doe: Michael Shermer was the guest of honor at an atheist event I attended in Fall 2006; I was on the Board of the group who hosted it. It’s a very short story: I got my book signed, then at the post-speech party, Shermer chatted with me at great length while refilling my wine glass repeatedly.

    However, the link takes you to the Pit (watch out for the cooties) which references a comment by “Mr. Deity” in one of his YouTube videos which paints a very different picture:

    Mr. Deity: Well, please note — that’s a woman who admits that absolutely no harm came to her. And I have it from two sources now that that’s not even the way that situation went down. It was not a one-on-one with the accused, but a group of people. And the accused was not pouring the drink. He simply told the server to refill everyone (presumable everyone who wanted a refill). Does anyone really believe that the accused would be playing wine server at a Gala where he’s the guest of honor? Really?

    Now, I don’t know which story is the real one, but it does suggest, at least to “Real Skeptics” – those whose minds aren’t closed off by prejudice and dogma, that one might reasonably doubt at least some elements of that particular story. And, by extension and at least possibly, elements of many of the other stories that PZ was telling, not least of which is the charge of rape.

    —-
    1) “_http://slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=124101#p124101”;
    2) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/08/08/what-do-you-do-when-someone-pulls-the-pin-and-hands-you-a-grenade”;

  283. 283
    Steersman

    imnotandrei:

    imnotandrei: Ah! Hello, False Dichotomy! I was wondering when you were going to show up!

    As mentioned at least once, I do have other irons in the fire, it is rather time consuming to respond adequately to many of the comments and accusations directed my way, and I do at least try to have a life elsewhere than within the “atheist-skeptic-feminist movement” – such as it is.

    imnotandrei: Listening might help you *learn* something, and if you’re interested in having a real discussion, rather than a lecture in which you explain why you’re right and someone else is wrong, you might give it a try.

    Actually I did learn something here about “actionable per se” – among other points and ideas. But you’re a great one to be casting aspersions about “why you’re right and someone else is wrong”, particularly considering your rather imperious and typical “Considered. Dismissed.” And your rather obstinate refusal to consider that you might be wrong on the question of personal responsibility, that technological solutions to the problem of rape may be of some use, that you might be inordinately attached to various philosophical precepts that might be rather problematic.

    imnotandrei: Because every time you pull the “you’re too angry to argue here” or “classy….” and dismiss someone for their tone, you’re telling them to shut up — you don’t really care if they listen or not — because they’re not following your approved sort of discourse.

    And I could suggest, not that I would ever do so of course, that you’re trying to impose your own “sort of discourse” in which anger and unevidenced accusations are allowed to carry the day. You might think “asking an oppressed group to drop its anger to come to a discussion or a negotiation table is an unfair and unjust tactic”, but I see that argument as a highly questionable “philosophical precept” that “privileges” anger at the expense of reasoned and evidenced discourse. Anger tends to cloud the critical faculties rather badly – maybe a useful servant at times, but a rather bad master. However, the consequence of that policy is likely to induce others to express their anger just to be able to have a place at that increasingly fractious table of yours. Results that shouldn’t be at all unexpected – the evidence for which should be manifestly obvious even to the most clueless. Somewhat apropos and as evidence to support that contention, you might wish to peruse the article on game theory (1) at SEP.

    imnotandrei: Why is it OK to tell a rape victim that they should take some personal responsibility for their suffering but not OK to say you’re being a bigot?

    Uh, maybe it’s because I’ve made a case and provided substantial amounts of evidence to support it, here and elsewhere (2), that the concept of personal responsibility may have some merit, whereas you and Snowwy have provided absolutely diddly-squat to justify your accusations that I was being a bigot? Just a thought. Though you might have to take your rose-coloured glasses off, and remove those blinders to see it.

    —-
    1) “_http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/game-theory/”;
    2) “_http://anthonybsusan.wordpress.com/2013/08/14/opting-out/#comment-1358”;

  284. 284
    Bennie Crouch

    I’m not sure if you’re talking to me or not but I’ll answer anyway. By repeating your comment, “You people”, I was hoping to get some clarification behind that. As you well know that phrase has been used by racist to denigrate black people. Being a black person, this phrase caused me to pause. I understand though that tone and context are hard to convey via text. So I’ll be as plainspoken as possible. Could you please explain to me in what context you are using the phrase, “you people”? Thank you

  285. 285
    Bennie Crouch

    So, what do you think of this point, Bennie:

    One last thing:
    “Although maybe that’s too much like “risk management” for you to be all that palatable.”

    That’s EXACTLY like making me responsible for my own lynching if I travel into the American South, even if I have urgent business there.

    Are you going to answer the points, or are you going to wring your hands and worry about his tone?

    I would first say that , being a black man from Columbus Georgia I identify with and can fully understand his anger. Moreover, I can vividly recall moments from my childhood of my mom being called a “nigger bitch!” by a white man and two older white women screaming at me to, “Take my little black ass home and never come back here again” when they caught me playing with their daughter in her tree house. So I fully understand and empathize with the anger and hurt Snowy feels when people victim blame.

    I especially know how maddening it can feel when people are “trying to be helpful” and telling you what you SHOULD have done to prevent yourself from being victimized. So I agree with you that it does sound like Steersman is VBing. I just disagree with the way you guys are handling the situation. Steers SEEMS like a reasonable person. YOU seem like a reasonable person. Neither one of you cats sounds like a bigot to me. I do think you both are getting caught up in emotions though and letting that cloud your viewpoint.

  286. 286
    Bennie Crouch

    “Fuck off white man”? On the eve of the anniversary of MLK’s I Have A Dream speech even…

    Pray tell, what is the polite way to tell a bigot that they’re being a bigot? “Excuse me, sir, but I think you might want to consider what you just said, and realize that you’re being perhaps a tad inappropriate here in your description of how people ought to behave, and that there are unfortunate racial implications to what you say?”

    Finally — considering the number of things Steersman has dropped on the floor, it’s not as if he’s in a position to cry out for other people to give him responses.

    This may sound bias and please let me know if it does. I take offense to black people using racially charged insults because I think it weakens our stature. Our moral superiority in relation to the bigot. MLK was stabbed in the chest or shoulder by a white man. Yet he still preached non-violence and solidarity with his white brother. MLK and others in the civil right movement faced hatred and bigotry on a level that I can barely even imagine. And he faced it in a calm, unflappable, unwavering manner. Always willing to forgive and wanting to help the ignorant overcome their base instincts.

    So to answer your question, even though I would feel anger to the core of my being, I’d try to deal with a bigot the way MLK did.

  287. 287
    imnotandrei

    As mentioned at least once, I do have other irons in the fire, it is rather time consuming to respond adequately to many of the comments and accusations directed my way, and I do at least try to have a life elsewhere than within the “atheist-skeptic-feminist movement” – such as it is.

    And as I have pointed out repeatedly, the fact that the posts you choose to respond to are the ones about your own reputation rather than the supposed subject of this blog makes clear what your priorities are. There is no contradiction here.

    However, for clarity’s sake, I was wondering how long it was going to be before you pulled a false dichotomy out of your bag of Cheap Rhetorical Tricks, not when you were going to respond. ;)

    Actually I did learn something here about “actionable per se” – among other points and ideas.

    Well, there you go — listening did you some good. Try it more often.

    And your rather obstinate refusal to consider that you might be wrong on the question of personal responsibility,

    I have explained to you repeatedly why I do not feel I am; you do not know what I have considered in the past, or how I arrived at this position. You want me to “consider” it by conceding there might be a point there; when I do not think there is, and have explained it repeatedly.

    that technological solutions to the problem of rape may be of some use, that you might be inordinately attached to various philosophical precepts that might be rather problematic.

    And when asked to cite examples, you did, and I argued with them — back in that part of this thread you apparently are unwilling/unable to search or follow any more. Dragging this language back in here does not mean I haven’t engaged with them.

    And I could suggest, not that I would ever do so of course, that you’re trying to impose your own “sort of discourse” in which anger and unevidenced accusations are allowed to carry the day.

    You could. I leave it to the audience to figure out whether I’m being calmer and more reasonable than you are. I leave it to them to decide whether you or I have given more provocation to anger.

    but I see that argument as a highly questionable “philosophical precept” that “privileges” anger at the expense of reasoned and evidenced discourse

    Ah — now you see, here’s what you’re missing. Let’s see if we can make it clearer:

    Anger does not preclude reason. Anger does not preclude evidence. But when you start tone-trolling, you are saying, in effect, that it does.

    I will note that you, clearly, do not think that you should be dismissed because you had a paragraph full of “fucking”s. Do other people the credit of treating them with the same respect, when they are angry with *you*, or else acknowlege your privilege and hypocrisy.

    Results that shouldn’t be at all unexpected – the evidence for which should be manifestly obvious even to the most clueless. Somewhat apropos and as evidence to support that contention, you might wish to peruse the article on game theory (1) at SEP.

    Do you have a precise point to make, or are you just going to wave “Game theory” around? I’ve studied it; I can think of a lot of things that might have relevance here, on both sides. So, in the spirit of “not having time”, make a concise point, or stop trying to wave around big concepts in the hope they’ll impress.

    Uh, maybe it’s because I’ve made a case and provided substantial amounts of evidence to support it,

    No; you’ve made a philosophical and ethical assertion; your so-called “evidence” is simply a philosophical claim.
    You have also said you’d consider using the N-word to be “edgy”, which puts you already well beyond the pale of what is considered polite discourse in most of society. That’s evidence of bigotry. You have also dug in and prepared to die on the hill of “women have personal responsibility in rape cases”, which is a misogynist position.

    There’s your evidence, from your own statements, rather than a vague waving at “Oh, we’d say people who ran with bulls had some responsibility, so why not women going into the same places as men?”

  288. 288
    imnotandrei

    I especially know how maddening it can feel when people are “trying to be helpful” and telling you what you SHOULD have done to prevent yourself from being victimized. So I agree with you that it does sound like Steersman is VBing.

    Thank you.

    Steers SEEMS like a reasonable person.

    He does a very good job of using the trappings of reason and scholarship — footnotes, the attempt to sound moderate by saying “It’s possible that…” or “It’s worth considering…”

    But I invite you to go back and look at his patterns; see what he elects not to answer, for example. Go back and look at statements like this: ““Better that 10 innocent men go to jail – for 5 to 10 years – than that one guilty one go free”?” — and see what he pulled that out of, and how he defended it. Look for the strawmen and red herrings.

    I do think you both are getting caught up in emotions though and letting that cloud your viewpoint.

    It’s possible; I think both of us are frustrated. I know that when I see someone engaging in the behavior-patterns that Steersman is, I struggle to figure out what he may be up to other than a) trolling, or b) trying to mainstream ideas that, if presented clearly, most people would find repugnant — e.g., Snowwy’s example of where his reasoning on “personal responsibility” could lead.

  289. 289
    imnotandrei

    I take offense to black people using racially charged insults because I think it weakens our stature. Our moral superiority in relation to the bigot.

    You’re certainly entitled to feel that way — and I apologize if I came across as overly snarky. I have seen far too many people try and dictate how anger can be expressed “acceptably” in my time to have much patience for it.

    So to answer your question, even though I would feel anger to the core of my being, I’d try to deal with a bigot the way MLK did.

    I wish you well, and admire your patience and forebearance. I have seen Snowwy argue elsewhere — I think he is (not religiously, but sometimes philosophically) playing Malcolm X to other people’s MLK, in terms of forcefulness and vehemence; a role I can also respect.

  290. 290
    Steersman

    inmnotandrei:

    imnotandrei: … your own reputation rather than the supposed subject of this blog makes clear what your priorities are.

    What unmitigated horseshit. That I have responded to some of your challenges to my “reputation” – such as it is – by attempting to defend it is apparently sufficient for you to discount and ignore all of the other posts where I have attempted to address the issues here. Issues which I’ve attempted to define, an attempt which you have generally ignored in spite of my (1) previous comment to you, i.e., “I wonder … what you think those issues are”.

    Steersman: And your rather obstinate refusal to consider that you might be wrong on the question of personal responsibility,

    imnotandrei: I have explained to you repeatedly why I do not feel I am ….

    And 38,000 different Christian sects will all explain to you why they don’t feel they are wrong on their own entirely idiosyncratic and different interpretations of Scripture. Absent some objective evidence for your position on personal responsibility that you’re prepared to put on the table and discuss, and absent a willingness to discuss objective evidence that others put on the table about their interpretations, it seems to me that all you have is little more than the dogma that characterizes those sects. Plus, not that it is much of a plus, a whole bunch of rather impressive if problematic straw men which really only suggests that you don’t have much of any substance in amongst that straw. For instance (2), consider this classic example from you:

    imnotandrei: Sure, in the short term, women could reduce the number of rapes by locking themselves in their homes. That doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do, helpful in the long term, or helpful in this case.

    But no one – at least that I know of outside of Islamic fundamentalists – is insisting that women do that. And by attempting to portray the case for personal responsibility in the most extreme terms, a case that no one is advancing, qualifies as the epitome of a straw man argument, something that looks like the very worst kind of intellectual dishonesty.

    However, maybe the problem here is that that term has not been adequately defined, that “we” are working at cross-purposes. While I think personal responsibility is something that encompasses and is fundamentally dependent on risk management, you, and more than a few others, apparently think my linkage of those two terms constitutes a “conflation of two different things” (3). But consider this (6):

    Wikiquote: Personal responsibility is the idea that human beings choose, instigate, or otherwise cause their own actions. A corollary idea is that because we cause our actions, we can be held morally accountable or legally liable.

    Now while there might be some confusion for some in the difference between moral and legal accountability, it seems that the degree and kind of our accountability is highly dependant on our choices and instigations of various actions. In which case there seems to be an intrinsic utility to ourselves, even if to no others, in choosing and instigating wisely based on an appreciation and understanding of the consequences of those choices and actions, i.e., to engage in some risk management (7):

    Wikipedia: Risk management is the identification, assessment, and prioritization of risks … followed by coordinated and economical application of resources to minimize, monitor, and control the probability and/or impact of unfortunate events or to maximize the realization of opportunities.

    Yet that seems to be virtually anathema and heresy to some, Sarah Jones (4) for example:

    Jones (Aug 9; 2:04 pm): And for the record: no one has a ‘responsibility’ to reduce their risk of being a victim. That’s victim blaming, it’s rape culture, and I’m disappointed to see it in your post.

    However, consider this perspective on the issue from Matt Cavanaugh (5) on “the other side of the tracks”:

    Cavanaugh: I had a buddy who passed out drunk on BART. Rode from Colma to Pittsburg and back a few times. Had his wallet, watch, leather jacket taken. Guys, just don’t rob, OK? Nahh, my buddy acted like an idiot.

    Many, though not all, on your “side” of this issue seem to have an awfully “funny” definition or understanding of “responsibility” – if not a rather egregiously self-serving one – that you would apparently think that that fellow wasn’t in some way or to some extent responsible for having been robbed. And that you would apparently think that him either telling himself or other people, “Guys, don’t get drunk and pass out on the BART” is a case of “victim-blaming”. Would you think that saying “Guys, don’t rob people on the BART” is likely to have much effect? Which policy do you think is likely to be more effective? To provide the greatest benefits to society for the least cost?

    Saying that that fellow had some responsibility for his being robbed doesn’t make the thieves any less culpable or guilty of a criminal act or any less likely to get jail sentences – if the police could catch them – but it is quite likely to reduce the likelihood of either him or others being subjected to the effects of those bad choices. Realizing that we have to take SOME degree of responsibility for our circumstances tends to be remarkably beneficial in reducing the likelihood of having to deal with problematic consequences – a case, one might note, of feedback, one of the central principles of cybernetics.

    Really having a rather difficult time understanding how people can fail to see that that scenario and principle has some relevance to issues of rape. Or of being lynched. Or of having our stuff stolen. Or of being taken advantage of, in one way or another. And rather remarkable too in light of the fact that the ostensible reason for “Jane Doe’s” story, and for Myers’ post was to describe the ways in which people might reduce their risk in certain environments and circumstances, the selection or choice of which is an exercise in personal responsibility.

    It might be nice if we could simply say that guys should not rob, that guys should not rape, that everyone should not cheat on their taxes, which they would then all do. And we should all live forever – in the Big Rock Candy Mountains “where there’s a lake of stew, and of whiskey too, and they hung the jerk who invented work”. But, unfortunately or not, “should” and “should not” seems not to carry a lot of weight in “the real world” – maybe in the fantasies of some, but not in reality. In which case most sane, rational, and grown-up people take some degree of personal responsibility for their own circumstances, a responsibility which includes engaging in a bit of proactive risk management.

    —–
    1) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/ashleymiller/2013/08/21/michael-shermer-legal-fund/#comment-105623”;
    2) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/ashleymiller/2013/08/21/michael-shermer-legal-fund/#comment-105311”;
    3) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/ashleymiller/2013/08/21/michael-shermer-legal-fund/#comment-105648”;
    4) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/files/2013/08/al_sarahjonesfb.png”;
    5) “_http://slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=124340#p124340”;
    6) “_http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Personal_responsibility”;
    7) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Risk_management”;

  291. 291
    imnotandrei

    imnotandrei: … your own reputation rather than the supposed subject of this blog makes clear what your priorities are.

    What unmitigated horseshit. That I have responded to some of your challenges to my “reputation” – such as it is – by attempting to defend it is apparently sufficient for you to discount and ignore all of the other posts where I have attempted to address the issues here.

    I look up this thread, and I see lots of articles where I’ve responded to your “addressing the issues” with me — and I see a lot you haven’t answered.

    But if someone calls you a name, or says your motivations might not be pure — *bam*, there you are to respond.
    What does this say?

    Issues which I’ve attempted to define, an attempt which you have generally ignored in spite of my (1) previous comment to you, i.e., “I wonder … what you think those issues are”.

    To which I responded, in a post you have yet to respond to. Go back and look.

    Steersman: And your rather obstinate refusal to consider that you might be wrong on the question of personal responsibility,

    imnotandrei: I have explained to you repeatedly why I do not feel I am ….

    And 38,000 different Christian sects will all explain to you why they don’t feel they are wrong on their own entirely idiosyncratic and different interpretations of Scripture.

    I’m sorry — what is the “objective” way to say “I hold this opinion, that I am not wrong.” Sorry that using the word “feelings” means you think you can dismiss it.

    Absent some objective evidence for your position on personal responsibility that you’re prepared to put on the table and discuss

    Clearly, you haven’t been reading. Because I have given you the evidence again and again.

    Every example I have ever heard of a situation where people say “you should take personal responsibility to avoid Situation X” when it comes to rape is a situation used by defense lawyers, by police, by people supporting accused rapists to dismiss, denigrate, and deny rape claims.

    “What was she doing walking there?” “What was she doing drinking so much?” “Shouldn’t she have realized how much she was drinking?”

    That is the evidence I supply, and it is the evidence I need. We will discuss further below.

    objective evidence that others put on the table about their interpretations

    You provided none — you provided metaphors and philosophical discussions, which are not “objective”. I have been offering you real-world consequences of your choices, and you insist *I* am not providing evidence?

    For instance (2), consider this classic example from you:

    imnotandrei: Sure, in the short term, women could reduce the number of rapes by locking themselves in their homes. That doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do, helpful in the long term, or helpful in this case.

    But no one – at least that I know of outside of Islamic fundamentalists – is insisting that women do that.

    No; you just insist that she’s responsible if she does anything *but* that. Any choice a woman makes opens her up to people going “Well, that wasn’t the right choice”, “you were behaving irresponsibly”, “Why should we wreck these young men’s lives because you were behaving irresponsibly?”

    And if you don’t think that happens again and again and again in the world as it is, I am stunned by your ability to block out information.

    And by attempting to portray the case for personal responsibility in the most extreme terms, a case that no one is advancing, qualifies as the epitome of a straw man argument, something that looks like the very worst kind of intellectual dishonesty.

    You said, earlier in this discussion, and I quote: “Better that 10 innocent men go to jail – for 5 to 10 years – than that one guilty one go free”? Got it.

    You, sir, are in no position to accuse *anyone* of strawmanning. You have already pointed out that there are people — even if you are not among them — who believe what you say I am strawmanning about. While I defy you to find anyone who believes what’s written above.

    It seems you are guilty of “the very worst kind of intellectual dishonesty”, by your own words and your own definition.

    Wikiquote: Personal responsibility is the idea that human beings choose, instigate, or otherwise cause their own actions. A corollary idea is that because we cause our actions, we can be held morally accountable or legally liable.

    Now while there might be some confusion for some in the difference between moral and legal accountability

    Funny — in a discussion about a law case, in which you began by discussing the importance of standards of proof belonging to the law, and in which you discussed the rule of law being put at jeopardy, people are choosing to look at the legal implications of the terms you use.

    Fancy that.

    Because it is *exactly* the we can be held morally accountable or legally liable. that is the problem. Because by holding women “personally responsible” for their actions leading up to their own rape, you are opening the door to holding them morally accountable or legally liable for being raped. Got it?

    The fact that you are fighting *so hard* for the words “personal responsibility” sure make it seem like it’s precisely that effect that you *want*.

    In which case there seems to be an intrinsic utility to ourselves, even if to no others, in choosing and instigating wisely based on an appreciation and understanding of the consequences of those choices and actions, i.e., to engage in some risk management (7):

    And if people weren’t being blamed for failing to live up to other people’s ideas of a wise choice, and then having a crime perpetrated upon them — then this would be fine, and value-neutral. But they’re not.

    Cavanaugh: I had a buddy who passed out drunk on BART. Rode from Colma to Pittsburg and back a few times. Had his wallet, watch, leather jacket taken. Guys, just don’t rob, OK? Nahh, my buddy acted like an idiot.

    And no one, in a court of law, would argue in defending the thief, ‘Oh, he was irresponsible, my client should go free.” We’d laugh at any defense attorney who tried to use the “Hey, he was drunk, maybe he gave the guys his watch and regrets it now, you know?” Anyone who tried to argue “Oh, boys will be boys, they just stole his wallet, why are you trying to ruin their lives by sending them to jail?” would be considered at best a loon.

    Yet that’s what happens all the time with rape cases.

    Do you finally get it?

    Which policy do you think is likely to be more effective? To provide the greatest benefits to society for the least cost?

    Funny — the “Don’t Be That Guy” campaign* has been dramatically effective**.

    Saying that that fellow had some responsibility for his being robbed doesn’t make the thieves any less culpable or guilty of a criminal act or any less likely to get jail sentences

    See above; we have objective evidence that rape, in this case, is treated much differently than theft.

    . Realizing that we have to take SOME degree of responsibility for our circumstances tends to be remarkably beneficial in reducing the likelihood of having to deal with problematic consequences – a case, one might note, of feedback, one of the central principles of cybernetics.

    Actually, given that the standard dogma for *years* has been “you need to take responsibility”, and only recently has the notion that maybe that’s not the case hit anything close to mainstream acceptance, I think we can fairly clearly see that, on a societal level, “you need to take responsibility and avoid those situations” *doesn’t* work.

    Or of being lynched.

    So you *are* saying that lynching victims bear some responsibility for their lynching? Just to be clear.

    And rather remarkable too in light of the fact that the ostensible reason for “Jane Doe’s” story, and for Myers’ post was to describe the ways in which people might reduce their risk in certain environments and circumstances, the selection or choice of which is an exercise in personal responsibility.

    You see, there are two things here:

    1) If someone chose not to heed the warning, drank with Shermer, and got raped? I would not blame them for it. I would blame Shermer.
    2) There is a huge difference, which you keep trying to cover up, between “Hey, here’s something to consider in what you do” and “Here’s another thing you need to do to be responsible.”

    When a term, like “personal responsibility”, covers such a broad spectrum, from the philosophical position that we have some control over our own existence to the legal position that holds us liable for our actions, perhaps it’s not a fine enough tool for the work you’re trying to do — unless the work you’re trying to do is to produce the effects of the latter while claiming you’re only doing the former. Sort of like people going “Oh, you can’t be opposed to freedom!” when the freedom is the freedom to discriminate against people of a different race.

    It might be nice if we could simply say that guys should not rob, that guys should not rape, that everyone should not cheat on their taxes, which they would then all do.

    And, indeed, as cited above, at least one of those campaigns seems to be working. ;) Because also unlike theft, people try very hard to make “rape” a grey area — to the point where some people aren’t willing to consider it rape if the victim didn’t resist hard enough.

    But, unfortunately or not, “should” and “should not” seems not to carry a lot of weight in “the real world” – maybe in the fantasies of some, but not in reality. In which case most sane, rational, and grown-up people take some degree of personal responsibility for their own circumstances, a responsibility which includes engaging in a bit of proactive risk management.

    Which no one is saying “don’t do.” But when your reaction to someone being victimized is “here’s what you should have done”, or “you need to take personal responsibility”, that’s going beyond ‘risk management’, and into victim-blaming.

    When your response to “He coerced me into a position where I could not consent” is to argue BAL, the definition of “coerced”, and how the poor man is supposed to judge whether or not you consent, you’ve gone beyond “risk management’ and into victim-blaming.

    After all, we now have plenty of accounts of Shermer drinking; why didn’t he engage in a little risk management towards his own reputation, and not drink so much in public? Or drink in public, period.

    When *that* is as valid a question as “How could she not realize she was drinking more…”, then we can have a different discussion. But we’re nowhere near there. And the “objective evidence” shows it.

    If it’s so important to you that risks get managed, for the good of everyone, then why don’t you drop the “personal responsibility” rhetoric, which clearly confuses the issue, and work on evaluating real rape-prevention tools, like the Edmonton program, or working with rape advocacy groups? Otherwise, again, one is left wondering why the rhetoric of “personal responsibility” is more important to you than rape victims.

    * go to http://www.theviolencestopshere.ca/dbtg.php
    ** go to http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/dont-be-that-guy-ad-campaign-cuts-vancouver-sex-assaults-by-10-per-cent-in-2011/article1359241/

  292. 292
    Snowwy

    Being raped is just like suffering a petty theft. Who knew?

  293. 293
    imnotandrei

    (My first version of this appears to have been lost to moderation — I think I bollixed some links.)

    imnotandrei: … your own reputation rather than the supposed subject of this blog makes clear what your priorities are.

    What unmitigated horseshit. That I have responded to some of your challenges to my “reputation” – such as it is – by attempting to defend it is apparently sufficient for you to discount and ignore all of the other posts where I have attempted to address the issues here.

    Actually, if you go back and look, you will see a lot of places where I am waiting for *you* to respond to my posts. The only way I can *get* you to respond appears to be calling your motives into question.

    Issues which I’ve attempted to define, an attempt which you have generally ignored in spite of my (1) previous comment to you, i.e., “I wonder … what you think those issues are”.

    Go back and look; I responded to that post, and pointed you at a different response as well.

    imnotandrei: I have explained to you repeatedly why I do not feel I am ….

    And 38,000 different Christian sects will all explain to you why they don’t feel they are wrong

    Oh, no — I invoked a *feeling*, therefore I must not be being rational! Would you prefer “I have explained to you repeatedly why I am convinced I am…”

    There. Better?

    Now let’s get to the meat of this.

    Absent some objective evidence for your position on personal responsibility that you’re prepared to put on the table and discuss

    Oh, I have plenty of objective evidence. Every time a defense lawyer goes “How can we be sure it was rape? She was drinking.” Every time a cop goes “What were you doing out that late?” Every time a rape victim is put on the stand and quizzed about her sex life, because if she were easy, that makes rape much less likely, that’s *evidence* that the position of ascribing “personal responsibility” to rape victims is a damaging one.

    , and absent a willingness to discuss objective evidence that others put on the table about their interpretations,

    Your so-called “objective evidence” was philosophical argument. Not the same thing.

    For instance (2), consider this classic example from you:

    imnotandrei: Sure, in the short term, women could reduce the number of rapes by locking themselves in their homes. That doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do, helpful in the long term, or helpful in this case.

    But no one – at least that I know of outside of Islamic fundamentalists – is insisting that women do that.

    Ah, but you’re asserting, and have asserted, that anything women do they should take “personal responsibility” for — so the choice to leave the house, which increases (in most cases*) their risk for rape? That’s their choice, and they should take responsibility for it.

    And by attempting to portray the case for personal responsibility in the most extreme terms, a case that no one is advancing, qualifies as the epitome of a straw man argument, something that looks like the very worst kind of intellectual dishonesty.

    Let’s see:
    Steersman: “Better that 10 innocent men go to jail – for 5 to 10 years – than that one guilty one go free”? Got it.

    I have *never* seen anyone advocate that position. Yet you attempted, on the basis of no evidence, to impute it to me. If the straw man is “the very worst kind of intellectual dishonesty”, then you, sir, are clearly guilty of that very worst kind of intellectual dishonesty.

    *I* at least mention positions that people following the lines of reasoning you use, have actually *arrived* at, rather than something far beyond that limit.

    While I think personal responsibility is something that encompasses and is fundamentally dependent on risk management,

    I.e. is a superset of “risk management” — so please note that anything beyond risk management is stuff you are insisting be there, as a result of your repeated, and fervent, use of the phrase.

    Wikiquote: Personal responsibility is the idea that human beings choose, instigate, or otherwise cause their own actions. A corollary idea is that because we cause our actions, we can be held morally accountable or legally liable.

    Now while there might be some confusion for some in the difference between moral and legal accountability,

    Hm. Let’s see; we’re talking about a legal case. You’ve been banging on since the beginning about legal standards of proof, the rule of law, etc., etc., and so forth. And here’s your definition of “personal responsibility” including legal liability as its corollary — and you wonder why people think that maybe, just maybe, you think there’s a legal aspect there?

    When it is a classic defense against rape to make it seem that the victim’s choices were poor, or made it “hard to tell”, or made it not rape at all? When you have people going “Well, if they’re drunk, they knew the risks, they must be OK with that”?

    Right there, in the definition *you* chose, is the explanation for why people become so opposed to your pet terminology.

    In which case there seems to be an intrinsic utility to ourselves, even if to no others, in choosing and instigating wisely based on an appreciation and understanding of the consequences of those choices and actions, i.e., to engage in some risk management (7):

    Yes; but when you add the rhetoric of personal responsibility, it takes it beyond utility to one’s self, and becomes a subject of judgment by others — “Were you responsible enough?” “Are you responsible for this” — and therein lies the problem.

    Cavanaugh: I had a buddy who passed out drunk on BART. Rode from Colma to Pittsburg and back a few times. Had his wallet, watch, leather jacket taken. Guys, just don’t rob, OK? Nahh, my buddy acted like an idiot.

    And you know what? If the thieves were caught, and tried to defend themselves with “But he gave us his wallet while he was drunk, so it wasn’t theft!” they would be laughed into jail. If someone tried to argue “Boys will be boys — why are you trying to ruin their lives over a leather jacket?” there would be scorn. “Oh, he rode the train that way, that makes it not really theft.”,’But if the person who took his watch was drunk too, did that mean that they both stole from each other?” — those are risible. But you hear the same arguments and defenses used about rape *all the time*.

    And that you would apparently think that him either telling himself or other people, “Guys, don’t get drunk and pass out on the BART” is a case of “victim-blaming”. Would you think that saying “Guys, don’t rob people on the BART” is likely to have much effect? Which policy do you think is likely to be more effective? To provide the greatest benefits to society for the least cost?

    Interestingly enough, the “Don’t Be That Guy” campaign in Canada has shown significant impact — reductions of up to 10% in sexual assaults, for example. But that doesn’t fit with your rhetoric or mindset, does it?

    Realizing that we have to take SOME degree of responsibility for our circumstances tends to be remarkably beneficial in reducing the likelihood of having to deal with problematic consequences – a case, one might note, of feedback, one of the central principles of cybernetics.

    And providing feedback that dismisses, denigrates, or shames people who try and report crimes also produces effects — fancy that.

    I’ll also note that we’ve had millenia of “personal responsibility” on the subject of rape as the default — “she asked for it”, “She should have known better than to be alone with him”, etc., etc., and so forth — and it really hasn’t done a wonderful job of reducing rapes, now has it?

    We’re more civilized now in that we no longer consistently treat rape victims as damaged goods — but that’s not the same thing as reducing rape.

    Really having a rather difficult time understanding how people can fail to see that that scenario and principle has some relevance to issues of rape. Or of being lynched.

    So, just to be clear — you are holding lynching victims as partially responsible for their lynchings? They failed to perform proper risk management? After all, if “personal responsibility” is a real thing, then someone has to be held responsible, right?

    And rather remarkable too in light of the fact that the ostensible reason for “Jane Doe’s” story, and for Myers’ post was to describe the ways in which people might reduce their risk in certain environments and circumstances, the selection or choice of which is an exercise in personal responsibility.

    Let me give you a few clue about the difference between “personal responsibility” and “risk management”.

    1) If someone, having heard the warning about Shermer, got drunk with him, and was raped, I would not blame them for it; the responsibility for the event would belong to Shermer.
    2) A “responsibility” is something you are expected to live up to; something you have to do. Risk management? Not so much.
    3) Above you described “personal responsibility” as dependent upon risk management — think about what the rhetoric of “personal responsibility” adds to the concept. Answer: The idea that you can be blamed for not managing risk appropriately.

    It might be nice if we could simply say that guys should not rob, that guys should not rape, that everyone should not cheat on their taxes, which they would then all do.

    I’ll note that, with the exception of a few rabid anarchists and a few sovereign citizens*, pretty much everyone agrees on what constitutes “theft” and “cheating on their taxes” — but on threads all over the atheist blogosphere, we have seen bitter arguments that consent is hard to determine, and you shouldn’t hold people responsible if they’re not sure about consent, and if she was drunk could she really say no, and maybe it was all just regret in the morning, etc., etc., and so forth.

    In which case most sane, rational, and grown-up people take some degree of personal responsibility for their own circumstances, a responsibility which includes engaging in a bit of proactive risk management.

    So, someone who doesn’t take a level of responsibility which you consider appropriate is either insane, irrational, or a child? And you wonder why people consider you to be victim-blaming?

    (As an aside, where’s Shermer’s personal responsibility in this? Clearly, he’s somewhat at fault according to your system, even if he’s innocent, because if he’d managed his risk properly, he wouldn’t be in a situation where peopel could make these accusations with any credulity — he wouldn’t be in bars around women who’d had perhaps too much to drink, right? Are you prepared to say Shermer’s partially responsible for his own problems?)

    In an adversarial system, as courts are, responsibility is a zero-sum game; every bit of it you place on the shoulders of the victim is responsibility taken away from the alleged perpetrator. When your standard is “beyond a reasonable doubt”, for a crime many people seem determined to minimize as much as possible — there have been rape acquittals because the victim didn’t seem to have struggled *enough* — adding that layer of responsibility makes reaching “beyond a reasonable doubt” even harder.

    So if you’re going to insist upon that as your standard — as you have frequently done — you either have to a) acknowledge that “personal responsibility” isn’t a useful view here, or b) accept that what you’re doing is making convicting rapists a lot harder — which means you’re OK with more rape *victims*, and with more unpunished rapes.

    Are you willing to take “personal responsibility” for your rhetoric and acknowledge that, if people listened to you, there would be fewer convictions and more rapes? Or is that a responsibility you’re not willing to accept, no matter how much you think other people should be “personally responsible” to not drink, or not take public transit, or not invite someone into their home, or not wear that dress, or not be out that late?

  294. 294
    Steersman

    Snowwy:

    Snowwy: Being raped is just like suffering a petty theft. Who knew?

    You might want to note these definitions (1):

    like 2 (lk)
    prep.
    1. Possessing the characteristics of; resembling closely; similar to.

    sim•i•lar (sm-lr)
    adj.
    1. Related in appearance or nature; alike though not identical.

    Of course petty theft is not exactly the same as being raped, and I most certainly didn’t say they were. Maybe I should have emphasized this in that last post as I frequently do, but there are analogous elements in each of those cases which justify treating them, to some extent, in similar ways: both are personal crimes; both can be penalized by jail sentences; both entail an element of violence; the incidence of each can be reduced by taking some degree of personal responsibility predicated on some risk management.

    You might wish to peruse in some depth these articles and examples on analogies (2, 3), paying particular attention to these points from the first:

    Wikipedia: Phrases like and so on, and the like, as if, and the very word like also rely on an analogical understanding by the receiver of a message including them.

    So your very use of the word “like” indicates that what is in play is in fact an analogy, but “like” is not equivalent to “the same as”. As for the “analogous elements”, consider this point relative to a defining example from the same source:

    Wikipedia: It’s important to note that the above analogy [hand is to palm as foot is to sole] is not comparing all the properties between a hand and a foot, but rather comparing the relationship between a hand and its palm to a foot and its sole. While a hand and a foot have many dissimilarities, the analogy is focusing on their similarity in having an inner surface.

    So, obviously theft and rape are not exactly the same: one is monetary, the other is sexual; one tends to be only moderately violent, the other generally massively so; one is typically male on, probably, equal numbers of men and women, the other is typically male on female.

    But, as that article indicates, identifying common or similar elements or relationships in different cases tends to give us a handle on understanding them – particularly new or uncommon situations, and of dealing with whatever problems they entail.


    1) “_http://www.thefreedictionary.com/like”;
    2) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analogy”;
    3) “_http://www.englishforeveryone.org/Topics/Analogies.htm”;

  295. 295
    Steersman


    imnotandrei:

    imnotandrei: Actually, if you go back and look, you will see a lot of places where I am waiting for *you* to respond to my posts. The only way I can *get* you to respond appears to be calling your motives into question.

    Yes, well I don’t have the time or patience to do that, particularly if you can’t be bothered to clearly indicate who said what, although if you want to itemize them I might address the more cogent ones. But while I can, with some effort, parse your walls-of-text (you might want to try responding to points rather than to every individual sentence), you might want to have some consideration for the efforts required of others here to do so.

    imnotandrei: Oh, no — I invoked a *feeling*, therefore I must not be being rational! Would you prefer “I have explained to you repeatedly why I am convinced I am…”

    There. Better?

    Not at all. WLC explains too; doesn’t mean that his explanations are worth more than dick-all.

    imnotandrei: Now let’s get to the meat of this.

    Steersman: Absent some objective evidence for your position on personal responsibility that you’re prepared to put on the table and discuss

    imnotandrei: Oh, I have plenty of objective evidence. Every time a defense lawyer goes “How can we be sure it was rape? She was drinking. ….”

    You might have a case if you can point to where I’ve actually supported those types of methods or arguments. Could be a little difficult in light of my assertion here that, “Maybe many victims of rape get more of a rough ride from the justice system than is really appropriate.” You might want to check the context of that too.

    Steersman: But no one – at least that I know of outside of Islamic fundamentalists – is insisting that women do that.

    imnotandrei: Ah, but you’re asserting, and have asserted, that anything women do they should take “personal responsibility” for — so the choice to leave the house, which increases (in most cases*) their risk for rape? That’s their choice, and they should take responsibility for it.

    Depends rather much on the definition of “personal responsibility” we’re using. By mine, that a woman is raped subsequent to leaving the home most definitely does not mean that she should necessarily be blamed for that rape. Nor does it mean in the slightest that the rapist is absolved of the crime. But you go ahead and have fun kicking the stuffing out of that straw man.

    Steersman: While I think personal responsibility is something that encompasses and is fundamentally dependent on risk management,

    imnotandrei: I.e. is a superset of “risk management” ….

    In your fucking opinion. For which you provided absolutely diddly-squat in the way of supporting evidence. Ipse dixit writ large.

    Cavanaugh: I had a buddy who passed out drunk on BART. Rode from Colma to Pittsburg and back a few times. Had his wallet, watch, leather jacket taken. Guys, just don’t rob, OK? Nahh, my buddy acted like an idiot.

    imnotandrei: And you know what? If the thieves were caught, and tried to defend themselves with “But he gave us his wallet while he was drunk, so it wasn’t theft!” they would be laughed into jail. ….

    You too should take a real close look at the nature of analogies as I described in my recent response to Snowwy since you apparently haven’t a fucking clue how they work or what their limitations are. Or you’re just fucking dishonest or are too busy building strawmen to notice “minor” details such as significant differences in analogous elements.

    More particularly, you might want to ask yourself how often people actually and willingly give others their watches, wallets and jackets versus how often people willingly engage in sex. Given the rather notable dearth of cases of the former, and the hardly notable abundance of the latter, the question of whether consent was given in each general case – hardly never in the former case, and almost always in the latter – becomes of some relevance, and is quite problematic in any given instance of those general cases.

    imnotandrei: Are you willing to take “personal responsibility” for your rhetoric and acknowledge that, if people listened to you, there would be fewer convictions and more rapes?

    As far as the latter case is concerned and since you haven’t proven your case – one which should be laughed out of court, no.

  296. 296
    imnotandrei

    Yes, well I don’t have the time or patience to do that,

    Then don’t complain about how someone else isn’t doing your homework for you. If you don’t have the time or patience to engage fully in the discussion, go somewhere else and have a smaller discussion; don’t just leave stuff on the floor and pretend that you’re responding usefully to people.

    WLC explains too; doesn’t mean that his explanations are worth more than dick-all.

    This is not responsive to your original complaint, which was that lots of people have “feelings”, which somehow invalidated my comment that I felt I was justified. So I changed it. Now you have a complaint about new wording.

    Steersman: Absent some objective evidence for your position on personal responsibility that you’re prepared to put on the table and discuss

    imnotandrei: Oh, I have plenty of objective evidence. Every time a defense lawyer goes “How can we be sure it was rape? She was drinking. ….

    Steersman: You might have a case if you can point to where I’ve actually supported those types of methods or arguments.

    Steersman, your rhetorical dishonesty is truly impressive. You ask me for evidence of *my* position. When I present it, you then ask me to point to where *you* have supported that. My position — that the rhetoric of “personal responsibility” is a dangerous and invidious one — is supported by my evidence. I don’t need to disprove *your* point to support *mine*.

    I notice you also deleted the entire “straw man” discussion; I will take this as an admission of defeat on your part, under the maxim “Qui tacet consentire videtur”, and your repeated pattern of deleting comments and then complaining that people don’t point back to them when you are called on it.

    By mine, that a woman is raped subsequent to leaving the home most definitely does not mean that she should necessarily be blamed for that rape.

    The very definition *you* chose and *you* cited listed “moral accountability” and “legal responsibilty” as a corollary of the notion. If you want to use some idiosyncratic definition of “responsibility” that means “you’re not actually held *responsible* for anything, we just want you to do things differently”, please indicate that you’re talking about Personal Responsibility, Steersman-Style, or somesuch; otherwise, take your Humpty-Dumptyesque salaried words elsewhere.

    By the definition you *cited*, she shares the accountability and responsibility.

    Steersman: While I think personal responsibility is something that encompasses and is fundamentally dependent on risk management,

    imnotandrei: I.e. is a superset of “risk management” ….

    Steersman: In your fucking opinion. For which you provided absolutely diddly-squat in the way of supporting evidence. Ipse dixit writ large

    To play your own game:
    en·com·pass verb
    1.
    surround and have or hold within.
    “a vast halo encompassing the Milky Way galaxy”

    su·per·set
    ˈso͞opərˌset/Submit
    nounMATHEMATICS
    1.
    a set that includes another set or sets.

    So, “personal responsibility encompasses risk management” –> “PR surrounds RM” –> “PR includes RM” –> “PR is a superset of RM.”

    Sufficient evidence of the English language, nitwit?

    As for the analogy you drew — guess what? You don’t get to go “Hey, the only bits of this analogy that are important are the ones that support my point, the rest are irrelevant.” That is, as we discussed before, more than once, just because you’re making an analogy doesn’t mean you’re making a *good* one.

    You want to compare the reaction of people and the law in two cases — and I pointed out that the law (and society) have very *different* responses. Your problem, not mine.

    More particularly, you might want to ask yourself how often people actually and willingly give others their watches, wallets and jackets versus how often people willingly engage in sex.

    Now who is engaged in arguing over small details? If the cases are that different, their analogical use is very small; if they’re not that different, they are subject to my criticism.

    Given the rather notable dearth of cases of the former, and the hardly notable abundance of the latter, the question of whether consent was given in each general case – hardly never in the former case, and almost always in the latter – becomes of some relevance, and is quite problematic in any given instance of those general cases.

    Wow. And you don’t see how this extension leads into the entire victim-blaming problem? Really?

    Let me give you a clue: by focusing on “consent” as a major difference between the two cases, you are focusing almost entirely on the edge case where a man isn’t sure he has consent, and proceeds anyway; that’s the case that matters to you.

    Now; here are some of the things you ignored from the previous post:

    1) Steersman: Which policy do you think is likely to be more effective? To provide the greatest benefits to society for the least cost?

    Imnotandrei: Interestingly enough, the “Don’t Be That Guy” campaign in Canada has shown significant impact — reductions of up to 10% in sexual assaults, for example. But that doesn’t fit with your rhetoric or mindset, does it?

    2) I’ll also note that we’ve had millenia of “personal responsibility” on the subject of rape as the default — “she asked for it”, “She should have known better than to be alone with him”, etc., etc., and so forth — and it really hasn’t done a wonderful job of reducing rapes, now has it?

    3) So, just to be clear — you are holding lynching victims as partially responsible for their lynchings? They failed to perform proper risk management? After all, if “personal responsibility” is a real thing, then someone has to be held responsible, right? — this is the one you are now evading for at least *4* times now.

    4) Let me give you a few clue about the difference between “personal responsibility” and “risk management”.

    1) If someone, having heard the warning about Shermer, got drunk with him, and was raped, I would not blame them for it; the responsibility for the event would belong to Shermer.
    2) A “responsibility” is something you are expected to live up to; something you have to do. Risk management? Not so much.
    3) Above you described “personal responsibility” as dependent upon risk management — think about what the rhetoric of “personal responsibility” adds to the concept. Answer: The idea that you can be blamed for not managing risk appropriately.

    5) (As an aside, where’s Shermer’s personal responsibility in this? Clearly, he’s somewhat at fault according to your system, even if he’s innocent, because if he’d managed his risk properly, he wouldn’t be in a situation where peopel could make these accusations with any credulity — he wouldn’t be in bars around women who’d had perhaps too much to drink, right? Are you prepared to say Shermer’s partially responsible for his own problems?)

    6) In an adversarial system, as courts are, responsibility is a zero-sum game; every bit of it you place on the shoulders of the victim is responsibility taken away from the alleged perpetrator. When your standard is “beyond a reasonable doubt”, for a crime many people seem determined to minimize as much as possible — there have been rape acquittals because the victim didn’t seem to have struggled *enough* — adding that layer of responsibility makes reaching “beyond a reasonable doubt” even harder.

    So if you’re going to insist upon that as your standard — as you have frequently done — you either have to a) acknowledge that “personal responsibility” isn’t a useful view here, or b) accept that what you’re doing is making convicting rapists a lot harder — which means you’re OK with more rape *victims*, and with more unpunished rapes.

    This is the logic that led up to the admission you refused to make.

    If you need any more *context* on these, scroll up two posts — I think even you can manage *that* much effort.
    Realistically, though, if you’re going to whine and cherry-pick, why not just go somewhere else where you won’t be so tested?

  297. 297
    Snowwy

    “The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.”

    From the very speech you tried to chide me with. You need to rethink your impression of Dr. King, Bennie.

  298. 298
    leni

    As you well know that phrase has been used by racist to denigrate black people. Being a black person, this phrase caused me to pause.

    Oh, well let me rephrase.

    I really meant you assholes. I was being polite by calling you “people”

    If you are confused about why why I would say such a horrinle thing, please refer yourself to your own comments. Specifically:

    In what way? In the Steubenville case there was at LEAST corroborating photo evidence and statements by the defendants that said penetration actually happened. These allegations against Shermer are no where near as strong. Further, the man categorically denies any and all allegations. It seems to me that it one is not even allowed to defend one self against allegation on this website.

    Emphasis mine.

    Clue: How often does a single racist act between two individuals in private have “corroborating photo evidence” ?

    Even if it it did, how often would that evidence be denied? Minimized? How often would the accuser be made to look crazy?

  299. 299
    Steersman

    Dave W:

    Dave: Yeah, you missed the “or” in the Wikipedia piece: “…typically seeks to show that the claim lacks any basis of genuine substance, legal underpinnings, evidence, or prospect of success.” ….

    I would have thought that “genuine substance, legal underpinnings, [and] evidence” would have put the prospect of success into the realm of “high probability”. However, I wonder why you apparently think otherwise.

    Steersman: …I think that none of that necessarily proves that he raped “Jane Doe”…

    Dave: As if anyone is saying that it does.

    Maybe not “proves”, but many seem to be believing it to an extent such that there seems little difference in the consequences or effects – as least as far as those individuals are concerned. Consider this from “Improbable Joe” (1):

    Joe: I would rather believe the claim and cost Shermer some paid speaking gigs, than to assume that his accuser is a liar who gains nothing but years of abuse for daring to make the claim.

    Certainly haven’t read all of the comments on that thread, but my impression is that there are more than a few of the same opinion.

    Steersman: One might even argue that it looks rather analogous to trying to discredit the testimony of a rape victim because of her “history”…

    Dave: I certainly hope not. After all, nobody is saying “Shermer has a sleazy history, therefore he’s wrong.” That is, after all, what “discrediting” someone is all about.

    Don’t know that anyone has explicitly said that. But the difference between that and the opinions of more than a few seems to be thinner than a prayer. Joe again (1):

    Joe: And bigger, I’m done with anyone who ever says “benefit of the doubt”. There are too many claims across too many years, and too much evidence to ever give more benefit of the doubt to the accused than to the accusers.

    Apart from that being rather close, in spirit if not in fact, to my previous characterization – “Heretic! Apostasy! Burn him at the stake!” – of the “Horde’s” response to those who disagree with current dogma, I would say it constitues some evidence of prior actions and behaviours of Shermer being used to discredit him and to influence the “verdict” in the direction of “guilty” of that accusation.

    Steersman: But that apparent leap of prejudgement and bias … to the published accusation … is the rather problematic crossing of the Rubicon.

    Dave: Wow. You seriously think that forming a tentative conclusion, subject to modification after the arrival of new evidence, is a point of no return?!

    No. I think it is the publishing of the accusation itself which qualifies as that. Rather difficult to put that genie back into the bottle.

    Dave: …. I can say with complete confidence that you, Steersman, may or may not have raped that woman. …. In other words, you’re simply discounting all the evidence we do have as having no effect whatsoever on your conclusion.

    So you’re saying then that you give some *credit* to those other accounts, and that they influence you in the direction of “Shermer probably did it”? And you don’t think that that qualifies as or is tantamount to “discrediting” him?

    Dave: What evidence would you personally require, absent a courtroom and legal standards, to say to yourself “Shermer probably did it?”

    Possibly something in the way of knowing who the woman is – The Amazing Atheist recently raised a question (3) about her credibility – and hearing her state her accusations to all and sundry. Or actually going to the police with them – seems too easy, I think, to make them from a position of anonymity. I expect that that would be rather difficult, for all concerned, and I sympathize with the victims of rape – I can well believe that many are denied justice as a result of the way the system operates.

    However, I think that riding roughshod over the laws of evidence, as apparently more than a few wish to do by giving more weight to the testimony of the victims – directly within the legal system, or indirectly by “constructing a method of communicating issues of truth [??] outside said legal system” (2) – by “privileging” that over factual evidence, looks like a rather problematically slippery slope.

    Dave: Who is looking for any policy changes?

    You might want to spend a bit of time looking through the comment section of that “Grenade” post (1), as well as the earlier “Carrie Poppy” one (4). It is maybe not explicitly stated, by many in any case, but I certainly get a sense of “Something Must Be Done!” – with maybe some justification – if not quite one of “Off With Their Heads!”.

    —-
    1) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/08/08/what-do-you-do-when-someone-pulls-the-pin-and-hands-you-a-grenade/comment-page-1/#comment-661886”;
    2) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/ashleymiller/2013/08/21/michael-shermer-legal-fund/#comment-104480”;
    3) “_http://slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=123988#p123988”;
    4) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/08/07/carrie-poppy-tells-all/comment-page-1”;

  300. 300
    Dave W

    Steersman:

    I would have thought that “genuine substance, legal underpinnings, [and] evidence” would have put the prospect of success into the realm of “high probability”. However, I wonder why you apparently think otherwise.

    I think otherwise because of NYT v. Sullivan. Shermer will have to prove that Myers knew that the information he was publishing about Shermer was false. Shermer will have to provide evidence about what Myers knew and when he knew it in order to have a chance of prevailing in court. It’s a very high bar to leap, and intentionally so.

    Steersman: One might even argue that it looks rather analogous to trying to discredit the testimony of a rape victim because of her “history”…

    Dave: I certainly hope not. After all, nobody is saying “Shermer has a sleazy history, therefore he’s wrong.” That is, after all, what “discrediting” someone is all about.

    Don’t know that anyone has explicitly said that.

    Then when you said “One might even argue that it looks rather analogous to trying to discredit the testimony of a rape victim because of her “history”…” you were talking about something else?

    But the difference between that and the opinions of more than a few seems to be thinner than a prayer. Joe again (1):
    Joe: And bigger, I’m done with anyone who ever says “benefit of the doubt”. There are too many claims across too many years, and too much evidence to ever give more benefit of the doubt to the accused than to the accusers.

    Apart from that being rather close, in spirit if not in fact, to my previous characterization – “Heretic! Apostasy! Burn him at the stake!” – of the “Horde’s” response to those who disagree with current dogma…

    With that word, you’re dismissing all evidence and argument, and insisting that people who think Shermer’s guilty do so on Myers’ say-so alone, yes?

    …I would say it constitues some evidence of prior actions and behaviours of Shermer being used to discredit him and to influence the “verdict” in the direction of “guilty” of that accusation.

    Well, you’re getting this stuff all backwards. A victim’s prior history generally has no relevance on whether a crime was committed. It doesn’t matter if a woman has been promiscuous or dresses sexy or whatever to the question of whether she was raped. But a defendant’s “prior bad acts” are certainly germane if they are relevant. If an accused rapist has a history of sexual assaults, that should absolutely figure into deciding whether or not he committed the current crime.

    The fact that Shermer has been – for years – talked about as a man to avoid at conventions for sleazy (at least) behavior around women is relevant. It’s only dismissable if you think that all the women who created, maintained and added to the word-of-mouth “List” were liars.

    No. I think it is the publishing of the accusation itself which qualifies as that. Rather difficult to put that genie back into the bottle.

    So why aren’t accusations flying about every man in the movement(s)?

    So you’re saying then that you give some *credit* to those other accounts, and that they influence you in the direction of “Shermer probably did it”? And you don’t think that that qualifies as or is tantamount to “discrediting” him?

    It only discredits his “I didn’t do it” statement. Is there something about “preponderance of the evidence” that you don’t like (where “probably” means “more than 50% likely”)? Seems kind of at odds with your apparent desire to see Shermer get his day in court. Civil suits need only meet that standard, generally.

    Possibly something in the way of knowing who the woman is – The Amazing Atheist recently raised a question (3) about her credibility – and hearing her state her accusations to all and sundry.

    You’ve already heard that. How is her character relevant to the question of Shermer’s actions?

    But wait: you’re willing to give some credit to some unnamed guy on the Internet, but not to the unnamed alleged victim? Her credibility would only be tarnished by relevant history: prior false rape allegations, for example. What evidence does “The Amazing Atheist” have to offer? Nothing at all, because he claims been “sworn to secrecy.” If you give that any credence whatsoever, Steersman, you’re being hypocritical.

    Or actually going to the police with them…

    Please link to where you’ve demanded that skeptics go to the police with their accusations (for examples) that Sylvia Browne is a fraud, or that “Vitamin B-17″ products can kill, before you’ll accept the truth of those (libelous!) accusations.

    …seems too easy, I think, to make them from a position of anonymity.

    Then why do some accusers get to be anonymous even in court? Beyond that, it’s weird that you think that knowing a person’s name would change your assessment of another individual. Don’t skeptics think that arguments need to stand on their own merits, and not on the personality or authority of the claimant? The idea that the victim being named/known would increase your acceptance of her claim really looks like a textbook ad hominem.

    I expect that that would be rather difficult, for all concerned, and I sympathize with the victims of rape – I can well believe that many are denied justice as a result of the way the system operates.

    But that’s entirely irrelevant to the question at hand.

    However, I think that riding roughshod over the laws of evidence, as apparently more than a few wish to do by giving more weight to the testimony of the victims…

    So one Shermer should be considered equal to many victims? How many unnamed victims would need to come forward before you considered their collective testimony equally (or more) credible to Michael Shermer’s? How many named victims? Why shouldn’t it be one-for-one?

    …directly within the legal system, or indirectly by “constructing a method of communicating issues of truth [??] outside said legal system”…

    Huh. I guess you’ll be asking Shermer to shut down Skeptic magazine since it tries to communicate issues of truth outside the legal system. I guess you’ll quit commenting here because you’re trying to do the same thing.

    …by “privileging” that over factual evidence, looks like a rather problematically slippery slope.

    Slippery-slope arguments are fallacious unless you can provide evidence that the result is inevitable.

    …I certainly get a sense of “Something Must Be Done!”…

    To what policy, though? It doesn’t make any sense. Aside from people making personal decisions to not support or associate with Shermer any longer (when he irrationally exploded at Ophelia Benson, I decided to not renew my Scientific American subscription) and a few people asking organizations to distance themselves from him, what other redress is being sought? Do you have anything concrete, or is it just your feeling?

  301. 301
    Snowwy

    And may I just say that it tickles me pink (oh no! racist metaphor!) to watch Steersman repeatedly dodge MY analogy. After I don’t know how many attempts (thank you both, Bennie and imnotandrei) I’m simply going to turn graciously to Steersman with a simple message.

    Concession accepted.

  302. 302
    Steersman

    imnotandrei:

    Steersman: Yes, well I don’t have the time or patience to do that,

    imnotandrei: … don’t just leave stuff on the floor and pretend that you’re responding usefully to people.

    I’m not obliged to respond to every comment or sentence. And won’t, particularly if they’re irrelevant, been dealt with elsewhere, or are egregiously dishonest.

    imnotandrei: Steersman, your rhetorical dishonesty is truly impressive.

    Hardly a patch on yours.

    My position — that the rhetoric of “personal responsibility” is a dangerous and invidious one — is supported by my evidence.

    But I figure your “evidence” is little more than “anecdata”: correlation is not causation – all you’ve got is a whole raft of highly specious inferences. On the same order as Jehovah. IMHO.

    imnotandrei: By the definition you *cited*, she shares the accountability and responsibility.

    “Share” isn’t necessarily equally. So she carries some moral responsibility – maybe, he carries the legal responsibility – certainly; she carries the trauma of being victimized, he the legal penalty of 5 to 10 years in prison. You, and many others, seem to have a real challenge in differentiating between those two cases, and their consequences and implications. Whole lot of conflation going on.

    imnotandrei: I notice you also deleted the entire “straw man” discussion; I will take this as an admission of defeat on your part …

    Well you would be wrong. Note the previous “egregiously dishonest”.

    Steersman: While I think personal responsibility is something that encompasses and is fundamentally dependent on risk management,

    imnotandrei: I.e. is a superset of “risk management” ….

    imnotandrei: So, “personal responsibility encompasses risk management” –> “PR surrounds RM” –> “PR includes RM” –> “PR is a superset of RM.”

    Ok, I’ll concede that “encompass” is synonymous with “superset” – sometimes in any case: there are likely to be many supersets that encompass any given element. However, I did say “… and is fundamentally dependent on risk management”. Note that there is a functional relationship there (“fundamentally dependent on”), as well as a structural one (sets & supersets). Analogously, one could say that “a mobile car encompasses and is fundamentally dependent on a working engine”. Take away the working engine and you no longer have a mobile car. Take away risk management and you no longer have personal responsibility, only irresponsibility, if not of a criminal kind.

    imnotandrei: Sufficient evidence of the English language, nitwit?

    Sufficient evidence of logic, analogies, and the English language – dickhead?

  303. 303
    Steersman

    imnotandrei:

    imnotandrei: As for the analogy you drew — guess what? You don’t get to go “Hey, the only bits of this analogy that are important are the ones that support my point, the rest are irrelevant.” That is, as we discussed before, more than once, just because you’re making an analogy doesn’t mean you’re making a *good* one.

    Nor do you get to assert that the analogy was a bad one, particularly without offering any evidence or argument that that was the case. However, since you seem unclear on the concept, let’s review it by starting with a review of the bidding.

    1) I asserted the benefits – personal and social – of taking some personal responsibility, motivated or driven by some risk assessment, in what I argued were the implicitly or explicitly defined analogous cases of guys falling asleep drunk on the BART, gals walking drunk and naked through a Hell’s Angels barbeque, and blacks walking drunk through a convocation of the Klan.

    2) You argued that the first two cases were not analogous because, hey, thieves in the first case weren’t likely to get away with “But he gave us his wallet while he was drunk, so it wasn’t theft!” whereas rapists, supposedly, do get away with the supposedly analogous “But she gave consent so it wasn’t rape”.

    3) I pointed out that those scenarios of yours were no longer analogous because the probability of consent in the first case was low – possibly one out of a million? – whereas, considering the statistics on false accusations of rape (1), the probability of consent in the second case might be 19 out of 20.

    4) And you then insisted that that difference was “small details” over which I was quibbling, that it led (based on a slippery-slope argument?) to “the entire victim-blaming problem”, and that – in your view, and in a rather imperious suggestion, devoid of credible argument and evidence – that analogy was no longer, if ever, “a *good* one”.

    A reasonably accurate summary? Assuming it is then we need to take a look at the detailed reasons why I told you earlier that there tended to be some problematic limitations to analogies, your extension of mine being a prime example. And, as a case in point, consider the defining example used by Wikipedia to illustrate analogies (2):

    Wikipedia: Hand is to palm as foot is to sole. [Or] Hand : Palm : : Foot : Sole

    It’s important to note that the above analogy is not comparing all the properties between a hand and a foot, but rather comparing the relationship between a hand and its palm to a foot and its sole. While a hand and a foot have many dissimilarities, the analogy is focusing on their similarity in having an inner surface.

    And it is those similarities which allows us to say, analogously and relative to that example of Wikipedia’s, that as a hand can be used for grasping so can a foot. However, one cannot credibly say that the foot has the same range of capabilities as the hand does because the thumb is an opposable digit whereas the big toe is not. So, many elements in two cases can be analogous which permit certain arguments and conclusions, but many other elements in the same cases are not which means other arguments and conclusions don’t hold any water.

    Similarly with your criticisms of the issue of consent in the cases I’ve described: that there are very different levels of consent in each general case – i.e., in the different populations, and statistically speaking – means that you were no longer comparing apples and apples in the different responses to the specific crimes in each case. But that most definitely does not mean that the other elements – crimes, victims, penalties, personal responsibility, risk management – are no longer valid, and incapable of supporting various arguments and conclusions.

    imnotandrei: Now; here are some of the things you ignored from the previous post:

    3) So, just to be clear — you are holding lynching victims as partially responsible for their lynchings?

    You should be able to see that I’ve addressed that earlier – generally and specifically, and have further done so in the above.

    —-
    1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_rape_accusations”;
    2) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analogy#Identity_of_relation”;

  304. 304
    Steersman

    Dave W:

    Steersman: However, I wonder why you apparently think otherwise.

    Dave: I think otherwise because of NYT v. Sullivan. Shermer will have to prove that Myers knew that the information he was publishing about Shermer was false. ….

    Maybe. There seems to be other alternatives (1):

    Wikipedia: Actual malice in United States law is a condition required to establish libel against public officials or public figures and is defined as “knowledge that the information was false” or that it was published “with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.” Reckless disregard does not encompass mere neglect in following professional standards of fact checking. The publisher must entertain actual doubt as to the statement’s truth.

    Considering that Myers was well aware that not every accusation of rape is credible or should be believed, and that such accusations “could have totally destroyed [a person’s] career”, “reckless disregard” seems a not totally implausible argument.

    Steersman: … the “Horde’s” response to those who disagree with current dogma…

    With that word, you’re dismissing all evidence and argument, and insisting that people who think Shermer’s guilty do so on Myers’ say-so alone, yes?

    Which word? Dogma? No, I’m certainly not “dismissing all evidence and argument”, only pointing out that there are a number of questions on the table about the credibility of the evidence. And that “rushing to judgment” without answering those question looks rather dogmatic. If not bordering on witch-hunting.

    Dave: The fact that Shermer has been – for years – talked about as a man to avoid at conventions for sleazy (at least) behavior around women is relevant.

    I’ll readily agree that it is relevant to the question of whether he has a tendency to “sleazy behaviour”, one which seems quite easy to answer in the affirmative. But relevant to the question of rape? That looks like a very questionable inference. If you’d had evidence of prior charges and convictions for rape, then sure, that would carry some serious weight. But since you don’t the inference looks like pre-judging, i.e., prejudice.

    Steersman: … The Amazing Atheist recently raised a question about her credibility ….

    Dave: How is her character relevant to the question of Shermer’s actions?

    But wait: you’re willing to give some credit to some unnamed guy on the Internet, but not to the unnamed alleged victim? ….

    No. I said it raised a question. My impression was that good skeptics got answers to important questions before making a judgment. As for the relevance of the question, if she has a history of making false accusations then I would think that that might have some bearing on most people’s assessment of the situation. As would, if they existed, Shermer’s prior charges or convictions for rape.

    Steerman: … as apparently more than a few wish to do by giving more weight to the testimony of the victims…

    Dave: So one Shermer should be considered equal to many victims? How many unnamed victims would need to come forward before you considered their collective testimony equally (or more) credible to Michael Shermer’s?

    Again, I think you’re conflating two cases. Apparently many apparently credible descriptions of apparently sleazy behaviour. But how many accusations of rape from anonymous or unnamed individuals are there?

    Steersman: …by “privileging” that over factual evidence, looks like a rather problematically slippery slope.

    Slippery-slope arguments are fallacious unless you can provide evidence that the result is inevitable.

    Really? You have some citation to that effect? You don’t think that probabilities have some bearing or relevance? Rather untenable given this (2):

    Wikipedia: Modern usage includes a logically valid form, in which a minor action causes a significant impact through a long chain of logical relationships. Note that establishing this chain of logical implication (or quantifying the relevant probabilities) makes this form logically valid. The slippery slope argument remains a fallacy if such a chain is not established.

    I don’t think it takes a lot of thought to see that giving more weight to personal testimony in rape cases, or even in civil suits on the same issue, over factual evidence is likely – a question of probabilities – to increase the number of cases where innocent people are convicted. While that would probably mean an increase in the conviction of guilty people as well, that does raise some rather sticky ethical questions.

    Steersman: …I certainly get a sense of “Something Must Be Done!”…

    To what policy, though? It doesn’t make any sense. …. Do you have anything concrete, or is it just your feeling?

    Good questions; I’ll try to get back to you on them. Although, as mentioned, it seems that more than a few in those comment sections I mentioned earlier were talking of some highly questionable policies of one sort or another.

    —-
    1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Actual_malice”;
    2) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slippery-slope_argument”;

  305. 305
    imnotandrei

    imnotandrei:

    Steersman: Yes, well I don’t have the time or patience to do that,

    imnotandrei: … don’t just leave stuff on the floor and pretend that you’re responding usefully to people.

    Steersman: I’m not obliged to respond to every comment or sentence. And won’t, particularly if they’re irrelevant, been dealt with elsewhere, or are egregiously dishonest.

    You are obliged to respond before you complain about people not addressing “The issues you attempted to define”.

    imnotandrei: Steersman, your rhetorical dishonesty is truly impressive.

    Hardly a patch on yours.

    As we will see in the rest of this post, you appear to have completely abandoned the idea of supporting your statements, preferring merely to assert them. Indeed, not only do you not provide any support, you omitted mine, not even bothering to respond.

    But I figure your “evidence” is little more than “anecdata”: correlation is not causation – all you’ve got is a whole raft of highly specious inferences. On the same order as Jehovah. IMHO.

    So, let’s see — I cite a set of patterns of behavior that exist in the real world — that follow logically and reasonably from your assertions — indeed, to avoid drawing them you need to repeatedly deny the implications of your own definitions — and you find them “highly specious”, indeed, of the same order as an entity that has *no* evidence.

    If this is your approach to “evidence”, no wonder you are having so many problems in this discussion.

    imnotandrei: By the definition you *cited*, she shares the accountability and responsibility.

    “Share” isn’t necessarily equally.

    Never implied it was.

    So she carries some moral responsibility – maybe, he carries the legal responsibility – certainly;

    Now we’re getting somewhere.

    Of course, since you have been repeatedly bringing up “personal responsibility” as a solution to the *legal* problems around rape, saying that there is no legal responsibility means that the issue is, more or less, irrelevant as a solution.

    Thank you for undercutting your own point.

    she carries the trauma of being victimized, he the legal penalty of 5 to 10 years in prison.

    That’s if he’s found, arrested, and convicted — which the doctrine of “personal responsibility” helps make less likely, as I’ve pointed out before, and as you keep dodging.

    (And yes; waving your hands and claiming “It’s specious” rather than addressing *why* is dodging.)

    imnotandrei: I notice you also deleted the entire “straw man” discussion; I will take this as an admission of defeat on your part …

    Steersman: Well you would be wrong. Note the previous “egregiously dishonest”.

    Well, let’s see; you don’t engage with the argument. You delete it. And yet, when called upon this, you insist … what, exactly?

    Defend, or admit. Take your pick.

    Ok, I’ll concede that “encompass” is synonymous with “superset” – sometimes in any case: there are likely to be many supersets that encompass any given element.

    That’s what that useful indeterminate article “a” is for in “is a superset of risk management.”

    But thank you for conceding.

    imnotandrei: Sufficient evidence of the English language, nitwit?

    Steersman: Sufficient evidence of logic, analogies, and the English language – dickhead?

    You realize you’re saying this about a point you just *conceded*?

  306. 306
    imnotandrei

    imnotandrei: As for the analogy you drew — guess what? You don’t get to go “Hey, the only bits of this analogy that are important are the ones that support my point, the rest are irrelevant.” That is, as we discussed before, more than once, just because you’re making an analogy doesn’t mean you’re making a *good* one.

    Steersman:Nor do you get to assert that the analogy was a bad one, particularly without offering any evidence or argument that that was the case. However, since you seem unclear on the concept, let’s review it by starting with a review of the bidding.

    1) I asserted the benefits – personal and social – of taking some personal responsibility, motivated or driven by some risk assessment, in what I argued were the implicitly or explicitly defined analogous cases of guys falling asleep drunk on the BART, gals walking drunk and naked through a Hell’s Angels barbeque, and blacks walking drunk through a convocation of the Klan.

    Now it’s funny; you’re using the past tense there, but two of those are brand new arguments you’re bringing in. Of course, they don’t usefully extend your case.

    2) You argued that the first two cases were not analogous because, hey, thieves in the first case weren’t likely to get away with “But he gave us his wallet while he was drunk, so it wasn’t theft!” whereas rapists, supposedly, do get away with the supposedly analogous “But she gave consent so it wasn’t rape”.

    Supposedly? *supposedly* get away with?

    I’d love to live in the alternate reality where that isn’t the case. Indeed, all over the comment threads on FtB we have people going “Well, how can you know she didn’t consent?” or “She didn’t say no, so there was no withdrawal of consent, so she consented — what does it matter if she was drunk?”. There is no “supposedly” about it. And you have failed to demonstrate any reason why they are *not* analogous.

    3) I pointed out that those scenarios of yours were no longer analogous because the probability of consent in the first case was low – possibly one out of a million? – whereas, considering the statistics on false accusations of rape (1), the probability of consent in the second case might be 19 out of 20.

    Now you see, you’re missing something here; we *presume* that the probability in the first case is low. While we presume in the second case it’s high. The presumption in theft is guilt — the accuser is presumed trustworthy — while in rape cases, people like you seem determined to produce a presumption that the accuser is not.

    This is classic rape denialism.

    Now: let’s look at your link.

    “The probability of consent in the second case might be 19 out of 20″ — I have no idea where you actually pulled this number, since it would *appear* to suggest that 95% of rape accusations in cases of incapacity due to alcohol are *false* — and only one study in the entire table gets close to that. 90%. If you read the two paragraphs after the table you point at, you’ll see:

    Stewart, in one instance, considered a case disproved, stating that “it was totally impossible to have removed her extremely tight undergarments from her extremely large body against her will”.[10]

    That’s the argument your 90% source makes for claiming a rape claim is false.

    Citing that study, in isolation, is rape denialism. You pick the one outrageous outlier, and use it to support your point — and you claim to be a skeptic? A rationalist?

    That kind of cherry-picking is nothing but propaganda — and what sort of propaganda is being pushed by turning a false claim rate of 2-5% to 95%? Rape denialism.

    I have ommitted your lengthy disquisition on the use of analogy, because I am tired of your obsessing over minor technical details, while ignoring references to the real world, and contemplation of the real consequences of your viewpoint.

    To bring back, as an example, one such reference to the real world: “Don’t be that Guy”, the Canadian anti-rape campaign, produced a 10% drop in rape reports. This is precisely the sort of program you mocked and dismissed earlier. The fact that you dismiss a program that works, because it doesn’t fit in with your ideology, shows which you are prioritizing.

    3) So, just to be clear — you are holding lynching victims as partially responsible for their lynchings?

    You should be able to see that I’ve addressed that earlier – generally and specifically, and have further done so in the above.

    Actually, I just searched on “lynch”. It appears *once* in your postings everywhere, in the part that reads:
    Really having a rather difficult time understanding how people can fail to see that that scenario and principle has some relevance to issues of rape. Or of being lynched. Or of having our stuff stolen.

    In other words, you compared it to theft (where you hold victims partially responsible for their loss of property), and rape (where you hold victims partially responsible for their assault) — so, in parallel, you hold victims of lynchings as partially responsible for their lynchings.

    Thank you for clarifying. I leave it to the readers to decide how they feel about you, and your position on “personal responsibility”, given that fact.

  307. 307
    hjhornbeck

    As I see it, one case is where I conceded that “many do doubt the victim’s story”, and the other is the rather different case where I personally doubted elements of the supposed victim’s story.

    Ok, here’s the victim’s story:

    At a conference, Mr. Shermer coerced me into a position where I could not consent, and then had sex with me.

    Here’s the part you contest:

    What I at least raise an eyebrow at is the part where she insists that she had been unable to consent to the latter and that that constituted rape.

    Ok, so what evidence do you have she is lying about her inability to consent? Do you argue that human beings always possess sound judgment, and thus are always capable of consent? Do you argue that human beings cannot be coerced, and thus could not be forced to perform an act? Because the only way to avoid arguing for those two is to be in possession of more evidence than Myers has released to the public.

    However, the link takes you to the Pit (watch out for the cooties)

    I have my shots.

    BKD: Well, please note — that’s a woman who admits that absolutely no harm came to her. And I have it from two sources now that that’s not even the way that situation went down. It was not a one-on-one with the accused, but a group of people. And the accused was not pouring the drink. He simply told the server to refill everyone (presumable everyone who wanted a refill). Does anyone really believe that the accused would be playing wine server at a Gala where he’s the guest of honor? Really?

    Now, I don’t know which story is the real one

    That woman does not claim it was a one-on-one, nor does Shermer need to be a wine server to request someone’s glass be filled, so as told to us BKD’s version of the events does not conflict. Even if it did, we still have one named public accuser of rape, one unnamed accuser of rape vouched by two named people (who herself alleges five more), one or more incidents of sexual assault vouched by a named person, one pseudononymous accusation of rape, several pseudononymous accusations of sexual assault and/or rape, several named and pseudononymous accusations of bad behavior, and the existence of a list circulated from woman-to-woman that named Shermer as someone to watch out for. Dropping the 2006 incident is much like dropping the fossil evidence for evolution; there’s still more than enough evidence left to come to the same conclusion.

    at least to “Real Skeptics” – those whose minds aren’t closed off by prejudice and dogma

    If I am ignoring reality due to prejudice and dogma, as you claim, then it should be possible to show a contradiction or falsehood in what I claim. Care to do so? Because so far, you seem to be further from the truth than I.

  308. 308
    hjhornbeck

    But, as I mentioned elsewhere, it seems to me that you and many others seem to be working on that assumption of guilt even though there is no proof of the charge of rape might well qualify as proof that Myers’ post has seriously damaged Shermer’s reputation.

    I remind you that we currently have one named public accuser of rape, one unnamed accuser of rape vouched by two named people (who herself alleges five more), one or more incidents of sexual assault vouched by a named person, one pseudononymous accusation of rape, several pseudononymous accusations of sexual assault and/or rape, several named and pseudononymous accusations of bad behavior, and the existence of a list circulated from woman-to-woman that named Shermer as someone to watch out for.

    There is no assumption of guilt, merely a plausible case to be made from the evidence.

  309. 309
    hjhornbeck

    Considering that Myers was well aware that not every accusation of rape is credible or should be believed, and that such accusations “could have totally destroyed [a person’s] career”, “reckless disregard” seems a not totally implausible argument.

    I quote back what you quoted, with emphasis added:

    Actual malice in United States law is a condition required to establish libel against public officials or public figures and is defined as “knowledge that the information was false” or that it was published “with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.” Reckless disregard does not encompass mere neglect in following professional standards of fact checking. The publisher must entertain actual doubt as to the statement’s truth.

    What does that bolded term mean? A legal glossary shows, again with emphasis:

    Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt: A level of proof that is reached if a reasonable person would be firmly convinced that something is true. This is a higher level of proof than probable cause. A jury may not convict a defendant unless the jurors are convinced of guilt by proof beyond a reasonable doubt. The law does not require the prosecution to prove a defendant guilty beyond all possible doubt. On the other hand, a reasonable doubt is an honest doubt of the defendant’s guilt for which a reason exists based upon the nature and quality of the evidence. It is an actual doubt, not an imaginary doubt.

    In order to show Myers had an actual doubt, then, Shermer would have to show he had proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the claim was false. To defend himself, Myers merely has to show the claim was plausibly true, which is a low bar to jump.

    No, I’m certainly not “dismissing all evidence and argument”, only pointing out that there are a number of questions on the table about the credibility of the evidence.

    So far, you’ve only managed to question one claim by an unnamed person, and rather poorly in my opinion (see my reply dated “August 31, 2013 at 2:02 am”). That leaves a substantial pile of evidence remaining, and a large pile of weak evidence carries as much weight as a small pile of strong evidence. The questions are moot.

    Although, as mentioned, it seems that more than a few in those comment sections I mentioned earlier were talking of some highly questionable policies of one sort or another.

    Such as? You have me curious now.

  310. 310
    hjhornbeck

    Of course petty theft is not exactly the same as being raped, and I most certainly didn’t say they were. Maybe I should have emphasized this in that last post as I frequently do, but there are analogous elements in each of those cases which justify treating them, to some extent, in similar ways: both are personal crimes; both can be penalized by jail sentences; both entail an element of violence; the incidence of each can be reduced by taking some degree of personal responsibility predicated on some risk management.

    You are ignoring the substantial differences between them. For instance, petty theft does not entail assault; you are instead thinking of robbery. Sexual assault is much less likely to be reported (12%) than robbery (43%).[1] Robbery has clear evidence, in the form of missing property, while 40% of rapes result in no visible injury.[2] There is no culture of shame around robbery, but for sexual assault:

    Unreported rapes are considered to pose a “serious threat to women in particular and to public safety in general” (Bachman, 1993, p. 255). Women’s nonreporting has been ascribed to intrapsychic processes such as self-blame (Gunn & Minch, 1988; Peretti & Cozzens, 1979, 1983; Stewart, Dobbin, & Gatowski, 1996; Wiehe & Richards, 1995), guilt (Binder, 1981; Wiehe & Richards, 1995), shame (Easteal, 1994; Tomlinson, 2000; Wiehe & Richards, 1995), embarrassment or wanting to keep the rape a private matter (Bachman, 1993, 1998; Binder, 1981; Peretti & Cozzens, 1983), humiliation (Peretti & Cozzens, 1979), fear and helplessness (Dukes & Mattley, 1977; Kidd & Chayet, 1984), and denial (Peretti & Cozzens, 1979, 1983). Studies have found that women have been “frightened into silence” by concerns of reprisal by the offender (Hattem, 2000, p. 15; see also Bachman, 1993, 1998; Binder, 1981; Dukes & Mattley, 1977; Easteal, 1994; Fisher, Cullen, & Turner, 2000; Hindelang & Davis, 1977; Solicitor General Canada, 1985). Finally, fear of the attribution of blame by others or of not being believed (Binder, 1981; Gunn & Minch, 1988; Tomlinson, 1999, 2000), particularly when having engaged in “high risk behaviors” such as drinking or using drugs (Stewart et al., 1996; Tomlinson, 1999; Wiehe & Richards, 1995), has also been linked to women’s decisions not to report to the police.[2]

    Finally, robbery is rarely dismissed out-of-hand, yet a false conviction can result from even a case with strong evidence.[3] There is strong evidence that police do not take accusations of rape as seriously as they do robbery, [4] leading to reduced conviction rates and an increase in psychological trauma.

    Above and beyond the trauma of having your body violated against your will, of course, which I think most people would argue is far worse than having a purse stolen.

    [1] http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-002-x/2010002/article/11340-eng.htm#a18
    [2] Du Mont, Janice, Karen-Lee Miller, and Terri L. Myhr. “The role of “real rape” and “real victim” stereotypes in the police reporting practices of sexually assaulted women.” Violence Against Women 9.4 (2003): 466-486. http://www.d.umn.edu/cla/faculty/jhamlin/3925/4925HomeComputer/Rape%20myths/Real%20Rape.pdf
    [3] http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2013/08/23/i-am-a-false-rape-allegation-statistic/
    [4] Jordan, Jan. “Beyond belief? Police, rape and women’s credibility.” Criminal Justice 4.1 (2004): 29-59. http://www.d.umn.edu/cla/faculty/jhamlin/3925/4925HomeComputer/Rape%20myths/Police.pdf

  311. 311
    Steersman

    hjhornbeck:

    hjhornbeck: Ok, here’s the victim’s story:

    Jane Doe: At a conference, Mr. Shermer coerced me into a position where I could not consent, and then had sex with me.

    hjhornbeck: Here’s the part you contest:

    Steersman: What I at least raise an eyebrow at is the part where she insists that she had been unable to consent to the latter and that that constituted rape.

    hjhornbeck: Ok, so what evidence do you have she is lying about her inability to consent?

    “Victim”? As in one who is harmed in some crime perpetrated by the act of another? But isn’t the question of whether a crime has been committed what is in dispute? Or have you and others already decided he is guilty? Because that is what that language is saying. Why do you think that most reputable news organizations talk of “alleged murder”, and “alleged rapist”? Yellow journals like FTB tend not to be as careful and as scrupulous.

    But I have actually have diddly-squat in the way of evidence of whether she is lying or not. But the statistics suggest that there’s possibly something like one chance in 20 that she is. Even apart from considering the facts, some of which suggest that the probability might be much higher in this case.

    Which is why I would like to see more facts on the table before I even think Shermer might be guilty of that charge.

    hjhornbeck: That woman does not claim it was a one-on-one, nor does Shermer need to be a wine server to request someone’s glass be filled ….

    That seems rather disingenous as my recollection of the comments in that thread, those I read in any case, is that many seemed to be of the view that it was a “one-on-one”. Wouldn’t care to quote any of your own comments there that suggested otherwise?

    Steersman: … at least to “Real Skeptics” – those whose minds aren’t closed off by prejudice and dogma

    hjhornbeck: If I am ignoring reality due to prejudice and dogma, as you claim, then it should be possible to show a contradiction or falsehood in what I claim.

    Seems that one might reasonably argue that calling “Jane Doe” a victim, in spite of there being no proof of a crime having been committed, might reasonably qualify as a case of prejudice if not of dogma. But it seems to me that the salient attribute of dogma at least is that it constitues unevidenced assumptions, or highly questionable inferences: the universe therefore Jehovah. Which is what seems to be happening here: some questionable and suspect inferences that because Shermer might be guilty of sleazy behaviour he is therefore guilty of rape.

  312. 312
    Steersman

    imnotandrei:

    imnotandrei: Of course, since you have been repeatedly bringing up “personal responsibility” as a solution to the *legal* problems around rape, saying that there is no legal responsibility means that the issue is, more or less, irrelevant as a solution.

    Where did I say say that? If I’m not mistaken I thought I said that the objective was to reduce the incidence of rape, for which personal responsibility – on the part of men and women – and legal methods both have some use, to a greater or lesser extent depending on individual cases.

    imnotandrei: Defend, or admit. Take your pick.

    Who the fuck do you think you are? Solomon? Little more than a peddler of false dichotomies. The answer is “neither”.

    imnotandrei: That’s if he’s found, arrested, and convicted — which the doctrine of “personal responsibility” helps make less likely, as I’ve pointed out before, and as you keep dodging.

    Ipse dixit. More fact-free dogma, red herrings, and straw men.

  313. 313
    imnotandrei

    Where did I say say that? If I’m not mistaken I thought I said that the objective was to reduce the incidence of rape, for which personal responsibility

    You are mistaken. The place where “personal responsibility” first showed up in this thread is here:

    Steersman: I am truly sorry that there is some truth to that characterization, that more than a few victims are denied justice; it is truly a gut-wrenching problem with no easy solutions..

    imnotandrei: You know what? I’d be delighted if I ever saw someone even start to work *towards* solutions,

    Steersman: I kind of get the impression that more than a few have suggested any number of solutions, but that others have rejected them because some of them required a greater degree of personal responsibility than they were prepared to accept.

    So, no; the context in which you first brought up personal responsibility was not in the context of reducing rape, but in dealing with the problem of victims denied justice.

    The very same justice that pushing “personal responsibility” makes *harder* to achieve. Now you can claim: “Ipse dixit. More fact-free dogma, red herrings, and straw men. and continue to delete my evidence; but that is the rhetorical equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and going “la la la la la”.

    Who the fuck do you think you are? Solomon? Little more than a peddler of false dichotomies. The answer is “neither”.

    Then shut up. Because if you are neither prepared to defend your claims, nor admit their falsehood, you are doing nothing but peddling hot air and propaganda — and when you peddle it this long, this hard, there’s no reason for it that reflects well upon you or your character.

  314. 314
    Steersman

    imnotandrei:

    imnotandrei: Now: let’s look at your link.

    “The probability of consent in the second case might be 19 out of 20″ — I have no idea where you actually pulled this number

    My mistake. The “FBI Statistics” section puts the number for false accusations at between 2% and 8% for an average of 5%, while Kanin puts the number, in one study at least, at 41%. But I erroneously used the (100% – 5%=95%) instead of the 5%. However, assuming some credibility to the FBI numbers, that means that, potentially at least to a first approximation, given a set of accusations of rape, 5% of them are going to be cases where consent had actually been given, but later rescinded. But that 1 in 20 is still several orders of magnitude more probable – 0.05 versus 0.000001 – than the case of the stolen wallet and jacket. You were comparing apples and aardvarks – a serious case of putting your thumb on the scales. And of kicking the crap out of your own straw-man.

    imnotandrei: I have omitted your lengthy disquisition on the use of analogy, because I am tired of your obsessing over minor technical details, while ignoring references to the real world, and contemplation of the real consequences of your viewpoint.

    Right. Entirely typical. Ignore my explicit, detailed, and evidenced points and arguments when you realize you have fuck-all in the way of a leg to stand on. Real classy.

    imnotandrei: In other words, you compared it to theft (where you hold victims partially responsible for their loss of property), and rape (where you hold victims partially responsible for their assault) — so, in parallel, you hold victims of lynchings as partially responsible for their lynchings.

    God, you’re fucking clueless. And dishonest. And in possession of a straw-man factory of your own.

    You insist on characterizing my argument as one referring, without qualification, to every freaking fucking possible scenario imaginable. But I very explicitly and carefully described cases outside the ordinary, everyday life that most people are going to be dealing with. Of course, if some guy is walking along in some well-traversed mall and a group of thugs jump him and steal his wallet and jacket then of course he is not culpable in any way, shape or form for any failure of taking “personal responsibility”. Of course, if some guy breaks into a woman’s home at night and rapes her at knife point then of course she is not culpable in any way, shape or form for any such failure. Of course, if some black guy is abducted from the middle of Grand Central Station on the busiest day of the year and taken away and lynched then of course he is not culpable in any way, shape or form for any such failure. But those aren’t the cases I was using to support my argument. Despite your deluded and egregiously dishonest efforts to build a straw-man around something I hadn’t said.

    Which qualifies you as an A-class fucking dickhead. You really might want to give some thought to the idea that populations – of people, of scenarios, of combinations of different factors, of cases – are anything but monolithic, homogeneous, or comprised only of multiple copies of the same item. I thought that only the religious fundamentalists thought in black-and-white, but you are certainly raising some serious doubts about that.

  315. 315
    imnotandrei

    A couple of minor statistical notes, and the carrying out of a possible line of reasoning to its logical conclusion:

    Notes:
    But the statistics suggest that there’s possibly something like one chance in 20 that she is.

    1) Let’s be generous, and double that. And then let’s say we have….3 independent claims, which, considering that hj hornbeck listed more than 7, is, again, being generous.

    So, if each of those has a 1/10 — remember, being generous — chance of being false, then what are the odds that all three are false, if they are independent?

    1/1000.

    2) Research has shown when you allow men to self-report on sexual behaviors that are not called rape in the interview, but are, in fact, rape, you get a rate of ~6%. Bear in mind that the likelihood of underreporting is greater than that of overreporting.

    The odds, therefore, that a random man fits that bill?

    1 in 20.

    Reasoning:

    So, by taking a *generous* estimate of the likelihood of false rape reports, and a possible *under*-estimate of the likelihood of J. Random Male being a rapist, we get a ratio in the odds of 50 to 1. Even if we chop it down to 2 independent reports — that somehow the other 5+ are part of some conspiracy or folie a cinque — we get 5-to-1 odds. Or over an 80% likelihood, with the most generous assumptions.

    So, based *purely* on the statistics, the odds would be 50 to 1 against all the accusations being false. I would suggest that a first-approximation 95%+ chance of being right is a reasonable weight to put on “You know, maybe I don’t want to stake my conventions’ reputation on this guy’s behavior”, or “Maybe I should avoid this guy in a bar.”

    Risk management, with odds like that, would suggest avoiding Michael Shermer, until there is significant evidence to *outweigh* the reports.

    Given that (as I assume you would agree) it is morally incumbent upon us to help our fellows engage in proper risk management — to be personally responsible, as it were — clearly, we should spread this analysis so that other people can manage their risk properly, don’t you agree?

  316. 316
    Gene Cavalli

    Top Notch Funding offers Lawsuit Loans, Lawsuit Funding, Lawsuit Loan Cash Advance, Pre Settlement Lawsuit loan funding at super low rates.

  317. 317
    Snowwy

    I haven’t seen so much projection since the last time I was in an IMAX theater.

  318. 318
    imnotandrei

    My mistake. The “FBI Statistics” section puts the number for false accusations at between 2% and 8% for an average of 5%, while Kanin puts the number, in one study at least, at 41%. But I erroneously used the (100% – 5%=95%) instead of the 5%.

    Thank you for admitting at least this much of your mistake.

    But that 1 in 20 is still several orders of magnitude more probable – 0.05 versus 0.000001 – than the case of the stolen wallet and jacket.

    Let me give you a clue here,

    Right. Entirely typical. Ignore my explicit, detailed, and evidenced points and arguments when you realize you have fuck-all in the way of a leg to stand on. Real classy.

    Actually, I omitted them because by now, detailed argument about one part of one analogy isn’t worth the time, given how wrong you are on how many different levels. You might be able to argue this if I was ignoring *most* of your arguments, but since you are the one who drops arguments on the floor at the drop of a hat, this is at worst a case of the pot calling the zebra black. ;)

    You insist on characterizing my argument as one referring, without qualification, to every freaking fucking possible scenario imaginable.

    No; I merely take you at your own words, as above. If your words don’t represent your beliefs, then perhaps you should choose them better.

    You then go on to assert a bunch of cases that are clearly *not* the responsibility of the victim, and complain that I’m saying you blame the victims there. You carefully construct a scenario for the rape case that everyone would agree was rape, and has *nothing* to do with the cases that we started discussing at the beginning of this thread.

    So: To use your same framework:

    If a guy is walking in a dark alley, a bit drunk, late at night, and gets his wallet stolen, is he culpable in any way?
    If a woman is drinking in a bar, is she culpable if she’s raped later that night while she can’t consent?
    If a black man had been driving in the South in the 50s, was he culpable in his own lynching?

    You *deliberately* chose scenarios that you could easily say “I don’t find them culpable.”

    But this entire discussion has been about what many people are saying isn’t even really rape — people with whom *I* vehemently disagree, and with whom you have many arguments in common. So arguing “I’m not sying *these* cases are culpable” doesn’t say anything about the cases actually at hand.

    Which is why I find your complaints below ironic at best.

    . You really might want to give some thought to the idea that populations – of people, of scenarios, of combinations of different factors, of cases – are anything but monolithic, homogeneous, or comprised only of multiple copies of the same item.

    Indeed; I’m well aware of it. However, only one of us is arguing a philosophy that makes cases that are anything but obvious harder to prosecute — and that’s you. Because by saying “Oh, she obviously bears no culpability in this extreme case, but some people *are* responsible”, you’re opening up the question of “when *does* a woman bear culpability — in less extreme cases?” And that is precisely the sort of doubt that rape denialists exploit in trying to narrow the definition of rape, that defense lawyers want to use to get their clients off in rape cases, etc.

    Which is *why* the personal responsibility rhetoric is so dangerous.

  319. 319
    Steersman

    Troll? Or a word to the wise? Only your lawyer knows for sure … ;-)

  320. 320
    Steersman

    :lol: Amusing analogy, but a little wide of the mark, I think. Consider:

    Wikipedia: Psychological projection was conceptualized by Sigmund Freud in the 1890s as a defense mechanism in which a person unconsciously rejects his or her own unacceptable attributes by ascribing them to objects or persons in the outside world.

    You wouldn’t care to put your money where your mouth is and defend that accusation with some actual data and evidence, would you? You know, be a “real skeptic”.

  321. 321
    Snowwy

    One, never claimed to be a skeptic. Pay attention.
    Two, for evidence I point to damn near everything you’ve said in this thread. But since you’ve decided you’re arbiter of all that is right and reasonable and good, and that only you get to set the standards for what is acceptable, I hardly expect you to have the intellectual honest to convict yourself.

    If there were a single jot of actual introspection in you, you wouldn’t play these rhetorical games.

  322. 322
    Dave W

    Steersman:

    witch-hunting

    Well, that’s it for me. Witches were never real. Rapists are. Anyone who is willing to compare “he probably raped her” to “she cast a curse on him” (or even “bordering on” making such a comparison) while attempting to portray himself as reasonable is obviously an agenda-driven asshat. This borders on you saying outright that there can be no evidence against Shermer because rapists are a figment of the imagination and anyone claiming to have been raped is clearly delusional or lying. I will not engage such people any longer than I need to, so I’m out.

  323. 323
    Steersman

    Dave W:

    Steersman: witch-hunting

    Dave: Well, that’s it for me.

    You might want to consider checking the definition of words before responding to a comment, even if only to maintain your credibility as a skeptic – assuming you wish to be considered as one of those. But consider this (1):

    witch-hunt also witch hunt (wchhnt)
    n.
    An investigation carried out ostensibly to uncover subversive activities but actually used to harass and undermine those with differing views.

    Now we might have a useful conversation on whether any given set of actions are “actually used to undermine and harass” someone. But to even suggest that the use of the term implies someone is “casting a spell”, or that anyone is insisting that “rapists are a figment of the imagination”? Not a particularly credible or honest argument, or one likely to lead to any solutions.

    —-
    1) “_http://www.thefreedictionary.com/witch-hunt”;

  324. 324
    Steersman

    Snowwy:

    Snowwy: One, never claimed to be a skeptic. Pay attention.

    So you’re saying that you’re not a skeptic? If so then you might be in the wrong room. Although there’s probably a whole bunch who comment here who are likely in the same boat:

    Wikipedia: Freethought is a philosophical viewpoint that holds opinions should be formed on the basis of logic, reason, and empiricism, rather than authority, tradition, or other dogmas.

    —–
    1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_thought”;

  325. 325
    Snowwy

    Psst! Your privilege is showing.

  326. 326
    hjhornbeck

    Yellow journals like FTB

    Are you arguing all the bloggers on the FtB network have published lies and slander? And yet it is strange you don’t reveal it, as you quite forcefully believe that unsourced allegations should never be published. Would you mind indulging me with a specific example, then, to demonstrate you stand behind your principles?

    But I have actually have diddly-squat in the way of evidence of whether she is lying or not. But the statistics suggest that there’s possibly something like one chance in 20 that she is.

    The odds that I own a dog are between 8% and 16%. And yet if were to mention I own a dog, you’ll believe it even though I haven’t shown a single shred of evidence. You’d have no problems telling your friends this “fact,” though if you were hauled off to court (where the minimum level of evidence for belief is much more strict) you’d quickly backpedal and say it was merely plausible.

    Well, you yourself admit that the odds of a false assault allegation are 5%. And yet:

    Which is why I would like to see more facts on the table before I even think Shermer might be guilty of that charge.

    So by your own admission you are practicing selective skepticism, refusing to believe a claim that has met your burden of proof. This is even before factoring “imnotandrei”‘s analysis, which demonstrates the odds of the charge being false are actually much lower than 5%.

    “Victim”? As in one who is harmed in some crime perpetrated by the act of another? But isn’t the question of whether a crime has been committed what is in dispute?

    We are not in a courtroom, as has been repeatedly pointed out to you. We do not have to follow the stricter requirements of belief that the courts rightly demand, and so in the same way you can say “HJ owns a dog” despite the 8-16% odds of being incorrect, I can say “the unnamed accuser is a victim.”

  327. 327
    hjhornbeck

    Whoops, missed one:

    That seems rather disingenous as my recollection of the comments in that thread, those I read in any case, is that many seemed to be of the view that it was a “one-on-one”. Wouldn’t care to quote any of your own comments there that suggested otherwise?

    I never made any such comment. And yet again, I see you making an allegation without showing your evidence for it. Yet again, you are being hypocritical to your stance that allegations must come with evidence. Please rectify this.

  328. 328
    Steersman

    Snowwy:

    Snowwy: Psst! Your privilege is showing.

    Really? You wouldn’t care to be specific as to where and how, would you?

    But I think that “privilege” concept is largely a load of horse-crap, at least as it is used by various “social justice warriors”. But, speaking of which, I wonder how you feel – or think – about this equally large load from the Atheism-Plus “Glossary” [aka Catechism]:

    In social justice terms, marginalized groups cannot be guilty of -isms [e.g., racism, sexism, ableism, etc.] in regards to the axes of privilege that they fall low on, because they don’t have the power to institutionalize their prejudices.

    Racism – discrimination or social prejudice against People of Color.

    Sexism – discrimination or social prejudice against women.

    You therefore constitutionally if not genetically incapable of “discrimination or social prejudice against people of No Colour”? [PNC – talk about “deprived”]

    —–
    1) “_http://atheismplus.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=2632&p=42878&hilit=definitions”;

  329. 329
    Steersman

    hjhornbeck:

    Steersman: Yellow journals like FTB

    hjhornbeck: Are you arguing all the bloggers on the FtB network have published lies and slander?

    No, as I rather doubt that all of the bloggers have weighed in on the question, much less asserted that Shermer had raped “Jane Doe”. But my impression is that more than a few have done so which, while not technically slander at the moment and assuming they had done that, would appear to be “actionable per se”. But whether Shermer will carry that to the next step is, of course, entirely moot.

    As for “yellow journals”, consider this (1):

    Wikipedia: Campbell (2001) defines yellow press newspapers as having daily multi-column front-page headlines covering a variety of topics, such as sports and scandal, using bold layouts (with large illustrations and perhaps color), heavy reliance on unnamed sources, and unabashed self-promotion.

    The other items, of course, probably don’t apply, but the “unnamed sources” provides some justification for the use of term – which is what I was referring to.

    The odds that I own a dog are between 8% and 16%. And yet if were to mention I own a dog, you’ll believe it even though I haven’t shown a single shred of evidence. You’d have no problems telling your friends this “fact,”

    Entirely true. However, the difference is that someone’s reputation wouldn’t be hanging in the balance, and that I wouldn’t be sued and charged with libel if someone manages to prove that I was wrong in my assertion. I would think that most people with any appreciation of and consideration for “personal responsibility” would use risk management (2) to temper their opinions in such cases.

    Steersman: Victim”? As in one who is harmed in some crime perpetrated by the act of another? But isn’t the question of whether a crime has been committed what is in dispute?

    hjhornbeck: We are not in a courtroom, as has been repeatedly pointed out to you.

    Entirely true – no question, no dispute. However, one might suggest that there is at least the possibility that some of you might well wind up in one as a result of the statements you’ve made here about that accusation. And that insisting that “Jane Doe” is a victim of rape seems equivalent to insisting that Shermer is a rapist. Which looks “actionable per se” to me. Although I will readily admit that I might well be wrong on all of that. Still not something I would put a lot of money on either way.

    hjhornbeck: So by your own admission you are practicing selective skepticism, refusing to believe a claim that has met your burden of proof

    I really don’t think it is at all a question of me believing a claim, but one of asserting the truth of that accusation of rape: entirely different kettles of fish.

    Steersman: That seems rather disingenous as my recollection of the comments in that thread, those I read in any case, is that many seemed to be of the view that it was a “one-on-one”. Wouldn’t care to quote any of your own comments there that suggested otherwise?

    I never made any such comment.

    Didn’t mean to imply that you had – sorry if I gave that impression. I was merely asking if you had made any statements there that suggested you understood or interpreted the scenario to be other than “one-on-one”.


    1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow_journalism”;
    2) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Risk_management”;

  330. 330
    dean

    Kanin puts the number, in one study at least, at 41%

    You do know that honest people don’t take Kanin’s 1994 study seriously don’t you?

    * Kanin looked at a few cases in one small town – hardly a good research methodology
    * He took as a false report anything police reports said was false, even though that department employed “investigation” work methods condemned by the Justice Department and other organizations (included in these was telling women who filed complaints that they would be put to the polygraph, a tool useful for intimidation but nothing else)

    Basically, he assumed that the police were perfectly honest and only recorded complaints as false when women had admitted as such; he did no fact checking to verify such.

    I had a good idea what you were about by reading your other comments, but when you mentioned, even in passing, Kanin’s number, you tipped your hand. Why do you expect to be taken seriously?

  331. 331
    Steersman

    dean:

    Steersman: Kanin puts the number, in one study at least, at 41%

    dean: You do know that honest people don’t take Kanin’s 1994 study seriously don’t you?

    You might want to try quoting all of the relevant information – and posting your response in reply to what was said instead of to the OP. What I said there was:

    Steersman: My mistake. The “FBI Statistics” section puts the number for false accusations at between 2% and 8% for an average of 5%, while Kanin puts the number, in one study at least, at 41%. But I erroneously used the (100% – 5%=95%) instead of the 5%.

    The reference to Kanin and to the related article was to show that there is a rather large range of estimates for the number of false accusations. But I quite clearly used in the rest of the post, and other comments elsewhere if I’m not mistaken, the average of the FBI numbers which seems closer to most of the others listed in the article.

    And you might want to try taking your thumb off the scales before delivering the meat of your argument – so to speak, and such as it was.

  332. 332
    Bennie Crouch

    I’ve never understood that line of reasoning from A+ . ALL humans are capable of exhibiting hatred for a myriad of reasons.

    Snowwy, as an aside, I’d like to know your perspective on this particular idea I’ve been musing over. It seems to me, that within the next 20 -30 years, the discrimination issues we face will be more along the lines of ageism and wealth classes. Basically the old vs the young, and the rich vs the poor. I specifically think that as longevity increases along with the quality of life for older individuals (i.e. still being able to engage in relatively the same types of activities) they will be increasingly in competition with the young for jobs. As the pace of technology increases, older people will be a disadvantage when it comes to the youth. Maybe not so much as my generation, but certainly that of my parents.

    Thoughts?

  333. 333
    dean

    No, nothing I said is out of place. You actually strengthen it. The only reason to state the kanin result is to give the false impression that there is so much variability in false report estimates that nobody has a good idea. It matters not one whit that you left it, it is there to plant the seed. Your comment that you used it to illustrate the large range of estimated doubles down on the message. Yes, there is variability, but nothing so large as to indicate kanin number is a possible value.

    Looking at your response I conclude that my opinion opinion of you was overly kind.

  334. 334
    chimera

    I read the Wikipedia article too. It sounds like he wrote it himself and there is lots of extraneous information that I’m surprised Wikipedia has let stand, such as

    Shermer lives in Altadena, California, on the edge of a cliff in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains atop which Mount Wilson stands.

    Romantic, mystical or prestigious venue as home? What’s the purpose of that sentence?

  335. 335
    fleeting expletive

    Okay, imnotandrei, I’ll say it:

    I’ve seen Michael Shermer in numerous social situations over the decades and although men are typically quite attracted to me (and yes, I’ve suffered from unwanted attentions all my life), he has NEVER even once been anything but a complete gentleman in my presence — even bordering on the aloof. In fact, he’s been so standoffish, I’d pretty much come to the conclusion that he was either gay or celibate or both. I was absolutely flabbergasted to learn of this brouhaha.

    I’m not saying I doubt his accusers, and I’m not going to identify myself, but this behavior is definitely not within the realm of what I’ve observed in the man. More to the point, the idea of him physically overpowering and sexually assaulting anyone (which is my understanding of the definition of rape) is beyond risible.

    Presumably, we’re all adults here. Let’s take a deep breath and cut the schoolgirl hysteria?

    Thank you.

  336. 336
    Jeffrey Robinson

    “unnamed victims who come forward with their stories.”

    remaining unnamed is not “coming forward.”

    it seems you like to tote yourself as a rational individual, but thinking that a typical self aggrandizing PZ rant that names no victim, no location, no time and seems only to slander, and upon pressure still provides no material evidence or testimony is tantamount to testimony … kinda makes you a willfully ignorant sheep of Myers with an ethical deficit.

    Might think about going back to Jesus, since your sense of justice remains mired there.

    Jeffrey Lee Robinson

  337. 337
    dean

    Kinda makes you a willfully ignorant sheep of Myers with an ethical deficit.

    Gee, with boneheads like you dismissing not only a single report of this behavior but the others that followed, together with ignoring the vitriol cast toward any woman making an accusation of rape (not just here but in the “outside” world”, and ignoring the fact that testimony is evidence: kinda makes you a really ignorant asshole, since that seems to be the best description of your outlook.

  338. 338
    Jeffrey Robinson

    my outlook? you got that from a paragraph?

    where is this throng of accusers? Why has no one filed a charge with such an army of the violated?

    no, i’m not a “man’s rights” douche and despise the “movement.”

    I do have this thing for evidence, and as difficult as it may be for any victim, in order to make an accusation you sort of… have to make an accusation. Do you know what a “court” is, Dean?

    But hey, if it’s just an army of slandering shits you need and hearsay reports, than I guess Creationism is true!

    Logic much, Dean? Guess the fuck not.

  339. 339
    dean

    my outlook? you got that from a paragraph?
    where is this throng of accusers? Why has no one filed a charge with such an army of the violated?

    Read the posts here and other places – maybe it will wake you up. Your comments are the same crap every other mra clown has stated: no evidence, blah blah blah.

    Either you are drenched in self-denial or my original assessment is correct.

  340. 340
    tomh

    Jeffrey Robinson wrote:

    Why has no one filed a charge

    And speaking of charges and courts, where is the promised lawsuit from Shermer? Or could that have been just empty threats and bluster in a pathetic attempt to shut people up.

  341. 341
    Jeffrey Robinson

    tomh,

    Are you purposefully being stupid? Just curious.

    How would a single lawsuit, we can presume is in the works since the cease and desist letter, shut “people” up? Are you yourself named in the lawsuit? How would such a claim to file even theoretically have the consequence you just so ignorantly put out there?

    No doubt you won’t attempt to answer that, as your ass is speaking far ahead of your mouth.

    More importantly, it’s not on Shermer to ante up. You see, in logic and the sciences, the proof is on the claimant. That usually requires the claimant coming forward and, I don’t know, filing a formal charge, as opposed to merely issuing slander?

    Which makes your crippled retort simply dead. It assumes the guilt of the [not even yet] accused, apart from the aforementioned train wrecked logic (rather, lack thereof) in your knee jerk emotionally based retort.

    By the way, Dr. Clueless, threatening a lawsuit for someone making unsubstantiated public claims about an individual’s character and insinuating serious crimes *is* a crime. Go fucking figure!

    I’m guessing when you came on board “freethought blogs” you were assuming you had something in common with it, namely, free of thought? Well, you did get that right.

    I would suggest, with your witch hunt attitude and inability to perceive things, much less reason through them, you might want to go back to Baby Jesus Worshipping where you will be in like minded company.

    Though FTB seems to suffice for that for now, while you can all jerk it to PZ Myer’s self appointed Pontification.

    In awe of your dumbassery,

    Jeffrey Lee Robinson

    P.S. Can’t wait to hear your silence after this. Or maybe your PZ zealousness will get the better of you and you’ll offer up even more idiocy, of which will be immensely entertaining (and of course you won’t answer my question, because you, er, can’t). Win win!

  342. 342
    Jeffrey Robinson

    Dean, this may come as a surprise to you, given your embracing of slander, but all the comments here are more hear say.

    My bad, Dean! I thought evidence was required when making a claim! I forgot this has become the religion of PZ Jack Off Worship!

    You made nothing close to an “assessment,” Dean. That would be far being our neurons’ capacity.

    But hey, if it keeps you hard to believe baseless slander from unknown sources rather than, I don’t know, actual evidence, keep it up. I, for one, try to have character and fair estimations. Guess that’s not important to you. Surprise, surprise.

  343. 343
    Jeffrey Robinson

    “no evidence, blah blah blah. ”

    that pretty much sums up your ethically bankrupt, witch hunting character.

    Thanks for the confirmation.

  344. 344
    tomh

    Jeffrey Robinson wrote:

    lawsuit, we can presume is in the works

    In the works? You’ll die of old age before you see that lawsuit. A scary letter from a lawyer, (a high priced one, Shermer claims), is the limit of defense for this so-called slander.

  345. 345
    Camellia Kovar

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    fetish movies

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  347. 347
    Mr Johnny Dennis

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  1. 348
    A Truly Charitable Cause #Sarcasm | Cult of Courtney

    […] Seriously, though. Ashley Miller broke this down best: […]

  2. 349
    Michael Shermer’s Note on the Legal Fund » Ashley Miller

    […] And I would say something about that, but honestly one of my commenters, imnotandrei, really nailed it. […]

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