Open thread for AETV #879: Russell and Don on Failing the Environment

This is Don.  I hijacked this post so that I could share some of the links that I used for the show today, in case anyone else wants to follow some of the details.

The show idea came from David Swanson, “Why We Allow the Destruction of our Planet” in The Humanist magazine.  Another good article is How the Religious Right is Fueling Climate Change Denial.  Another prominent point came from this disturbing Newsweek poll on end-times belief.

Some of the Christian climate crazy is tracked at Right Wing Watch.

John Shimkus is a powerful Congressman who has had some nutty things to say about whether climate change is real.

James Inhofe is pretty sure climate change is a hoax, though he seems to be in the pocket of those with vested interests.

Some ministries have done multimedia presentations calling scientists idolaters and communists.

John Hagee, who peddles end-time snuff porn as part of his ministry is pretty convinced that bad weather is just all part of the plan.

Salon reviews The Atheist Experience, gives us a thumbs down

Hey, good news everyone! The Atheist Experience got reviewed in Salon!

Well, okay, it was not the most complimentary review we’ve ever received.

Well, okay, it’s called “I spent a day watching AtheistTV — and it was horrifying”. The review was set up as a general overview of the new Roku channel from American Atheists, but it also devoted a plurality of its copy to describing scenes from our show, and the cover photo was of Matt and Jen.

salonreview

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The Atheist Experience featured in BBC story about Atheist TV

Hey everyone, you’ve probably all heard the news by now that The Atheist Experience is now one of the flagship shows for the newly launched Atheist TV channel. Atheist TV is a project of American Atheists, which has created a Roku channel dedicated entirely to programming by freethinkers. At the current time, they aren’t equipped to handle live broadcasts as they happen. However, we have provided them with a number of previously recorded HD episodes, and will continue uploading new content as the shows are completed. Hopefully in the future we can work out a way to air live episodes as well.

A reporter from the BBC got in touch with us to get more information about our show, as a small part of a larger story about Atheist TV and what atheists face in the United States. Based on all the emails we got yesterday (thanks for the breaking news, fans!) the story has gone live.

The stigma of being an atheist in the US

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2014 ACA Annual Bat Cruise – Tickets on sale now!

You may have seen the prior post at this blog announcing the 2014 ACA Annual Bat Cruise specifics. At that time tickets were not yet on sale, but we now have our order form up at the ACA web page. Visit the page/form for details and costs.

Keep in mind, since it’s a cruise, space is limited. Once we sell out, that’s all the seating we have available. The boat has a capacity we cannot exceed.

Just to offer a quick summary of the event, we are pleased to have two guest lecturers, author and historian Richard Carrier, and the man behind “The Atheist Book” project, Chris Johnson. Both will be presenting at our regular lecture venue, between 1:15 – 4:00 PM, prior to joining us on the cruise. The lectures are free with purchase of cruise tickets.

Visit the prior blog article or the ACA web page for more information and details for the event. And don’t delay your ticket purchase if you’re planning on joining us in September!

First rule of holes…

I can only think that what was on Richard Dawkins’ mind when he composed his most recent series of tweets was that he hoped to reassure critics of his, erm, often problematic approach to social issues that he wasn’t really saying or suggesting the awful things they thought he was. The result has, I fear, made an awkward situation worse. For starters, the tone of scolding condescension doesn’t help.

Date rape is bad. Stranger rape at knifepoint is worse. If you think that's an endorsement of date rape, go away and learn how to think.  Mild pedophilia is bad. Violent pedophilia is worse. If you think that's an endorsement of mild pedophilia, go away and learn how to think. X is bad. Y is worse. If you think that's an endorsement of X, go away and don't come back until you've learned how to think logically.

Someone might have tapped Dawkins on the shoulder at this point and gently suggested that addressing rape survivors as if they were creationist numbskulls who never grasped the whole thinky thing might have been the wrong approach. So he attempted to clarify some more.

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An observation on the concept of “callout culture”

So if you call yourself a skeptic, that means — or should mean — that you embrace the notion that no idea is sacrosanct, there is no dogma, and every idea and statement should be subject to criticism and rebuttal.

Crazy talk, right? But check it: there are some people, even in our august society of self-styled skeptics and freethinkers, who don’t actually hold to this. Oh, sure, they pay a great deal of lip service to it, but that’s easy to do as long as safe ideas are all that are brought under critical scrutiny: young earth creationism, Stanley Kubrick faked the moon landing, UFO abductions and crop circles, “I had a three-way with Bigfoot and Slenderman,” or whatever fortune cookie word salad Deepak Chopra tweeted today.

But the minute they say something stupid, suddenly, the core principle of skepticism doesn’t apply. It is a thing to which they should be immune, because how could they be wrong!? Dammit, they are rationalists! Says so right there on their RD.net T-shirt.

So what happens is that sometimes a person like this will say something other folks think is really stupid, and instead of doing what skeptics pride themselves on doing — entering into a dialogue involving argument, rebuttal, and counter-rebuttal — they’re just so sold on the complete unassailability of their ideas that the only rational conclusion is that their critics must be just doing everything wrong in every way.

Well, that's settled then.

Well, that’s settled then.

See? It can’t be that one of our own might be a fallible person who doesn’t actually get everything right all the time. You’re just getting something wrong. Haven’t we already established that we’re the skeptical community, which my character sheet tells me gives us an automatic +20 on our “smarter than everyone else” die rolls? Indeed, if someone from within the ranks is criticizing your ideas, well, they are simply malcontents and agitators who are looking to create…

SCHISM!

So it’s like this.

To sum up:  Atheist YouTuber makes humorous video mocking the worst aspects of callout culture.  Atheist public figure tweets said video.  Atheist callout culture warriors freak out and overreact, pretty much like in the video.

Atheist YouTuber: Here is my new video in which I put on a wig and mock people I think are wrong.
Response: Okay, but this whole thing is a big straw man fallacy. If you’re going to criticize people, why not just criticize what they actually say?
Atheist YouTuber: SEE? CALLOUT CULTURE! And I totes predicted it. Where is my million dollars, Randi!?

All you have to do is slap a dismissive term on anyone critiquing your critique, and voila, you are immune from critique. Anyone who disagrees with me is just wrong about everything, because SKEPTICISM.

Let’s see how else we can play this game.

Creationist: “Look, I posted another video about how the universe is only 6000 years old, and evolutionist callout culture warriors freak out and overreact, pretty much like in the video.”
Psychic: “Look, I went on Montel and talked to the dead relatives of everyone in the audience, and those James Randi callout culture warriors freak out and overreact, pretty much like in the video.”
Moon landing hoaxer: “Look, Alex Jones posted another video about how the government totally faked all this shit, and the brainwashed sheeple callout culture warriors freak out and overreact, pretty much like in the video.”
9/11 Truther: “Look, I posted another video in which I scientifically explained how exploding jet fuel burning at thousands of degrees could never in a million years structurally weaken a skyscraper and cause it to collapse, and the police state callout culture warriors freak out and overreact, pretty much like in the video.”

Huh…when those people talk that way, suddenly it sounds kind of stupid.

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Well, fuckin A.

Here’s an idea.

Be a skeptic.

Step one: realize that you could be wrong too!

If someone else’s ideas are stupid, then it should be enough to address them accurately, not misrepresenting them, and on the sole basis of their merits. And if someone thinks you are wrong, then you should listen to what they say, and pick apart their criticism based on its merits, rather than simply slapping labels on them that are little more than the rhetorical equivalent of “lalalala I can’t hear you!” Because maybe it isn’t “callout culture” coming after you after all. Maybe you actually just said some stupid bullshit. People do. And you’re a people.

I know. No one ever said this skepticism thing was easy, or that handling its sharp edges would mean you’d never get cut yourself.

Sorry if that’s what someone told you when you came on board. But some men will just tell a pretty lady anything. You should have been more skeptical.