Results for the Most Influential Female Atheist of 2011


In past years, the vote has been closer. But I don’t think anyone will be surprised by 2011’s Most Influential Female Atheist:

Rebecca Watson

She blew away the field with a whopping 233 votes. And she earned the recognition. I don’t think Rebecca knew quite what she was getting into when she made that initial benign comment, but her perseverance through the resulting shitstorm was amazing. She exposed the reality of sexism in the atheist and skeptical movement, alerting people to the problem and inspiring social change.

But one of the reasons I love doing this poll is because multiple women are recognized, and I often learn about a lot of new ladies that deserve my attention. Here are some of the runner ups:

Greta Christina (105 votes) – For her “consistent excellence”, especially her talk at Skepticon: Why Are Atheists So Angry? “Even when she’s writing about something that has pissed her off, she never comes across as snappy or condescending.”

Jessica Ahlquist (48 votes) -“For trying to make my high school abide by the Constitution, as well as for inspiring other young activists.” “Because of her courage in facing a school full of antagonistic believers every day.”

Maryam Namazie (25 votes) – “For her brave and public leadership against the rising tide of radical Islam in Britain (and elsewhere).” “For doing what she does with grace and style and always remaining a strong, inspiring and positive force of nature despite the horrific hateful racism and misogynist bigotry that’s continually thrown her way.”

Natalie Reed (19 votes) – “A real trailblazer into what was previously (and still is) an issue of near invisibility in our community: transgenderism.”

Ophelia Benson (18 votes) – “I find her blog, Butterflies and Wheels to be greatly influential and informative for me personally.”

Aliaa Magda Elmahdy (17 votes) – “For the single most audacious act of protest against theocracy this past year.” “Who else has enraged and entire country? Who else has raised awareness so globally? Who else now lives with very real death threats?”

Ayaan Hirsi Ali (13 votes) – “She is the most courageous person I’ve ever heard of, and though she didn’t do anything to garner much publicity in ’11 (which may well be a *good* thing, given the desires of the many people who wish to see her brutally murdered), her shadow looms large across the whole of skepticism. She sits astride the ‘respect’ the faithful demand, providing the ultimate counterexample to the fatuous bleating of ‘peace’ and ‘love’ mumbled so soddenly. Every day she draws breath is a victory over the medieval cowards who wish to see her destroyed for standing up and daring to strike off the shackles of ignorance that hold far too many people in bondage.”

Amanda Marcotte (13 votes) – “Because she’s so good at articulating and elucidating things that I subconsciously pick up on but haven’t quite thought through.”

Godless Bitches Podcast (10 votes) – A group award for Beth Presswood, Jen Peeples, Tracie Harris, and Lynnea Glasser. “This gives me more to think about in any given week than just about anything else.” “It’s a wonderful show and wonderfully educational.”

Thanks to everyone who voted! And thanks to those of you who voted for me – I really appreciate it :)

2010: Ayaan Hirsi Ali
2009: Tracie Harris & Jen Peeples

Comments

  1. says

    Hey, uh, Lucette. Has anyone told you to fuck off lately?

    Because I will. And don’t bother responding to me, because only people who respond strangers saying not-so-nice things are victims.

  2. Jurjen S. says

    I’ll second that, though I’d probably have referred to “the response given in Arkell v. Pressdram (1971).”

  3. says

    She must be the perfect victim. It would explain why so many people seem to want to attack her.

    Rebecca has made herself both a lightning rod for misogyny and a beacon to expose it this year, and deserves the award handily–but I can’t disagree with anyone listed. Great candidates, all.

  4. says

    …and one by one the haters come out of from their rocks. Fuck a whole bowl of them.

    Though seriously, congrats to everyone listed! Inspirations, all of you!

  5. dfl42 says

    “how the fuck were they selected again in the first place?”

    It would’ve been astoundingly trivial for you to figure this out on your own.

  6. says

    Thanks so much, Jen and BlagHag readers! That’s very kind, and I’m flattered to have even been considered alongside such awesome women.

    So when is the awards ceremony? I’m writing my speech now and I already have my dress picked out. By “dress” I mean my Where the Wild Things Are costume from last Halloween.

  7. TheDudeDiogenes says

    Congrats to Rebecca. I see the Neanderthals are already responding in force. They’re just proving Rebecca’s and Jen’s and PZ’s and Ophelia’s and Jason’s and JT’s points. Oh well, haters gonna hate. Fuck ‘em.

  8. says

    Lesson to all those out there: even if you have no brain, you can still somehow direct your appendages to leave stupid, asinine, abusive comments on blogs. Hooray for the Internet!

  9. says

    Peter has a point? I’m sorry, I missed where Rebecca posted the results of an MRI demonstrating an empty skull. I think that would have been newsworthy beyond the skeptical community, in fact.

    Peter has a point? Please, show me where she’s “tried to create schisms in the community.” Because I continually see her doing valid criticism of actual people being wrong, irrational, and generally awful. I don’t see her doing anything different in calling out sexist skeptics than PZ calling out accommodationists.

    Peter has a point? Well, if he wears the right sort of hat, I’m sure no one will notice.

  10. benjaminsa says

    Actually the perfect victim is someone who doesn’t say anything, RW is the exact opposite.

  11. says

    I don’t know, it seems to me that the “disturbing form of tribalism” is the “clique” of people who crawl out of the woodwork to whine and insult and abuse any time Rebecca Watson’s name is mentioned. It’s almost like magic.

  12. says

    Please point out the “critiques.” So far I’ve seen dismissals, insults, and woe-unto-the-world lamentations, but not a single actual critique. In fact, despite your “Paris Hilton” comment, you haven’t suggested any other candidates, haven’t offered a concrete reason why Rebecca shouldn’t have been chosen, and didn’t participate in the nomination/voting thread.

  13. says

    Oh, thanks for the underpants. Up ’til this point, I was recognizing jokes by whether or not they were funny. Didn’t see any in this thread, but now I see a whole bunch! And they have names! And are so melodramatic.

  14. benjaminsa says

    You have it completely backwards. Pointing out aspects of the atheist/skeptic/etc communities that are driving women away makes them stronger and more inclusive. The only people I see her driving away are the assholes, and that is one schism I am happy to live with.

  15. Huskvarna says

    Here’s a critique for you:

    Rebecca accidentally got moderator privileges on JREF following the rescindment of a suspension. She then immediately abused those privileges by banning a bunch of people she didn’t like, then got permabanned by the JREF staff who understandably didn’t want Comrade Commissar Watson running around deciding what opinions people are allowed to have:

    http://i.imgur.com/dM8ir.png

    The difference is that, on Skepchick, she can get away with that kind of behavior and somehow be regarded as a “freethought” martyr.

  16. benjaminsa says

    Could you put up the ban rules? I was surprised that you banned those comments, they where stupid and mean, but is that the line?

  17. says

    My comment policy is here. Not only were they hateful, but they’re obviously trolls from the anti-Rebecca hivemind over at ERV, coming over trying to derail the thread. I have zero tolerance for that bullshit.

  18. says

    Jen, you can go ahead and delete all my replies to the bann-ees, if you wish. They look kind of dumb and ranty all out on their own like that. :)

  19. Huskvarna says

    It doesn’t have anything to do with her arguments about feminism. It just goes to show that she’s a shitty “freethinker” who got permabanned from JREF for stifling legitimate debate. Pay attention.

    As for critical theory / postmodernism / “[protected group] Studies”, which is the intellectual basis of many of her arguments, their flaws are well-documented in books like “Intellectual Impostures”.

  20. says

    I could quibble and suggest that “critique” is the wrong word and ‘insane grudge’ might be better, but what the hey. Now you just have one more leap to make, Huskvarna: connect ‘Rebecca Watson did a bad bad thing in 2008′ to invalidating her receipt of this award. Because unless, somehow, this incident makes her not influential, not an atheist, not female, or not an influential female atheist of 2011, then it’s a non seqitur.

    Also, “freethinker” didn’t need to be in quotes. We only have so many of those quotation marks–they’re rationed for the war, don’cha know!

  21. benjaminsa says

    Ps your nested comments are broken, I suspect it happened when you deleted those comments and not the replies to those comments, some sort of nesting screw up. If so making the replies comments should fix it. Or just delete the replies…

  22. Huskvarna says

    Oh, so the award is based on influence per se and not on merits like “not being a hypocrite” or “knowing a damn thing about science”. In that case, I give up: Rebecca Watson is an Internet celebrity par excellence.

    The quotes were scare quotes, by the way.

  23. says

    I’m here for (and an atheist because of) the ideas. I’ve seldom come across an idea that had either a vagina or a penis, let alone a marked preference for either vaginas or penises in other arguments. It’s only the communicators of the ideas who have either the genitals or preferences in genitalia… and any atheist who cannot distinguish between “communicator” and “idea” is a quasiatheist on blind faith, which isn’t exactly what the skeptical community is about.

    Those who persist in making the communicators of ideas unwelcome by anthropomorphizing the ideas are unlikely to receive those ideas very often…

  24. Utakata, yes that pink pigtailed Gnome says

    That staff who did the banning, didn’t happen to be one and only pervert Franc Hoggle? Who happen get hims ass banned over at Pharyngula? I could be wrong on that…but I digress…

    …but we’re speaking again about the “person of the year” for “2011” not some silly internet drama that happen in “2008”. And while your at it, you’re being a hypocrite too by referencing JEFR which is also not ran by a science person, but a celebrity magician. Oh my.

    So be gone troll.

  25. Classical Cipher, Murmur Muris, OM says

    Congratulations to all the women listed, and especially to Rebecca! Much deserved, and thanks for everything you do.
    Also, ♥ to Jen for not tolerating hateful jerks here.

  26. says

    For some reason, I had never heard of Natalie Reed, but now I have heard of her, and she is awesome! I’d say that makes this list a success.

  27. Utakata, yes that pink pigtailed Gnome says

    Yeah, I am not sure where this came up…at Pharyngular or over at Skepchic. Like I said, I could be wrong on that. But I have a feeling Hoggle (or whatever his true name is) stalks around a lot of “freethinking” circles including JREF. :(

  28. Utakata, yes that pink pigtailed Gnome says

    …if you read further down, it looks like Jen KO’d a lot of trollings. So posts and replies look weirdly out of context.

  29. Azkyroth says

    I know that, but I’m trying to figure out whether his comment is a sort of blinkered “I’m against all sexism including feminist misandry and affirmative action” sort of thing, or an actual inclusive sentiment, since it’s ambiguous from the phrasing.

  30. killertapir says

    This makes me happy. Both Rebecca winning and the existence of many other influential female atheists.

  31. J. J. Ramsey says

    Rebecca was suspended on the JREF forum for having a second account “Radial Tire,” which she used as a joke to post about being, well, a tire. This was rather puckish, but not malicious. Heck, her first post as “Radial Tire” read “I was invented by Michelin in 1946.” Not exactly typical sockpuppetry. After the suspension was over, she found that she accidentally had moderator powers, started banning people as a joke, and then bragged about it in a post entitled “How I Spent My JREF Vacation” (which you may not be able to see if you don’t have a JREF forum account). You can tell how seriously she was taking herself when she wrote, “And then I went about banning people I don’t like…. Then I did a few other things just for laughs, and then I got all tuckered out and took a nap.” The bans she did as pranks were undone pretty quickly, and her own ban followed.

    Was it irresponsible? Heck, yes. However, it was about being mischievous, not about being any sort of “Comrade Commissar.” It’s also been roughly four years since then, and I think she’s already learned a bit about reining in her more puckish side.

  32. says

    Wow, look at you, you maverick! Nobody has ever seen this point be brought up about Rebecca before and it most certainly has never been spoken about and refuted by Rebecca herself. This -really- changes everything I ever thought about her because it’s obviously the most heinous thing I’ve ever heard about a human being.

    Congratulations for offering such original and thought-provoking content that has never, ever been beaten to death by other dipshit trolls.

  33. says

    I can verify that this retelling is correct! Though it’s more fun to tell in person. I think I did actually ban two people for a few minutes . . . Scrut, and then another poster who made a joke about wanting to be banned.

    My favorite Radial Tire post was “Always have me mounted by a professional,” because after I was suspended the account was combined with my regular account, so now if you look back through the archives it shows that “rebecca” wrote that post, randomly, on a thread that was mostly dead and off-topic.

  34. Riptide says

    Or you all could understand that having out-of-order comments on a single blog post might not be the most pressing issue for a graduate student at/near the start of a school term.

    I’m extremely flattered that two of my own comments from the original nominating thread were included. I would have voted for Jen if it were someone else putting up the poll (I check here every day), but I think it poor taste to have a host win their own contest. As I recall, other people voted for Jen, too. That she did not count herself in her own contest is very admirable and, perhaps paradoxically, implies that she’s more than worthy of being honoured at least by a mention.

    And all of you, *please* keep Watson Derangement Syndrome alive and well. It lets me know which parties (like ERV…) to avoid.

  35. leon says

    Oh dear….this site has it all.
    All of the worst of human perversion
    Fags, marxists, race traitors and cuckolds
    You people cannot even be united in your hatred of GOD Jehovah
    But then again Baal worship of each other cannot replace the more important Baal worship of yourself.
    You fail against GOD and you fail yourselves
    The sound that you hear is that of one man gloating, go out onto the street to hear the others…it will deafen you

    PRAISE JEHOVAH, HE IS OUR GOD
    THERE IS NO OTHER

  36. michaeld says

    Considering her discussions have spread across the atheist bloggosphere like wild fire I would have been shocked if she hadn’t won. Congrats Rebecca you deserve it :)

  37. says

    Awww… I missed all the trolling!!!

    Here, let me post some mean stuff about Rebecca Watson on about the same level of seriousness as the “Rebecca once showed a stunning lack of respect for the JREF forum by being funny and then being goofy with the accidental banhammer”:

    – One time, Rebecca Watson was dating a guy, and she smiled at another guy!

    – This other time, Rebecca Watson said something incorrect, and didn’t correct it fast enough, or apologize with enough sincerity!

    – One time, at band camp, Rebecca Watson played slightly flat for three whole minutes!

    – Rebecca Watson double-dips chips at parties!

    – Rebecca Watson once kissed a guy, and then didn’t marry him!

    – Rebecca Watson sometimes reads her horoscope non-ironically!

    – When Rebecca Watson hits the buffets in Vegas, she doesn’t get a fresh plate every time!

    And of course, Rebecca’s claim to fame:

    – Rebecca Watson suggested that when a woman says “don’t hit on me” then says she’s going straight to bed at 4AM, it is maybe a little less than cool for a man who is a stranger to chase her into the elevator and invite her to his hotel room for “coffee”… without also sending an email to every other man on the planet, all 3 billion of them, reassuring them that she wasn’t calling each them a rapist specifically, plus a little comment for each man about a hobby or interest unique to him so the email doesn’t feel too impersonal. How dare she!!!

  38. John Horstman says

    As for critical theory / postmodernism / “[protected group] Studies”, which is the intellectual basis of many of her arguments, their flaws are well-documented in books like “Intellectual Impostures”.

    This would be like claiming that any arguments based on astronomy are invalid because astrologers make up bullshit based on actual planetary motion, or that all legal contracts are invalid because people make badly-worded or flatly absurd legal contracts. Have there been flaws in specific formulations of postmodern theories, and ridiculous assertions by people in relevant fields? Sure. Same goes for any field. That doesn’t invalidate any/all arguments that use postmodern theoretical frameworks as their bases. I suggest you go back and read the preface to Intellectual Impostures, as you appear to have either misunderstood the text or be consciously misrepresenting it, and the preface does a good job of framing exactly what the book does and does not attempt to do. The central claim of postmodernism, that cultural context frames our understanding of reality, isn’t even up for debate; in fact, that we disagree about this proves the point – we’re presented with the same collections of lines (the words in question), but have very different understandings of them because of our different personal contexts and personal histories. If our understandings of reality WEREN’T shaped by context, no one would ever disagree about anything.

  39. John Horstman says

    Misandry is, by definition, not feminist (feminism advocates equality, not female/feminine superiority). Affirmative action is also, by definition, not sexist/racist/etc. If affirmative action policies cease to correct for extant imbalances and actually create imbalances, then the policies are no longer affirmative action, but part of a regressive “-ism” complex.

  40. John Horstman says

    Can you leave this one? It’s funny, the the point of making me unsure whether it’s serious or satire (and really, it’s funny either way).

  41. says

    Which makes you… let me consult the chart*… carry the two… yep, that makes you a terrible person, and unfit parent, and likely a libertarian-leaning Republican. Or the leading candidate for Atheist of the Year 2012, if I’m holding the chart** upside down.

    * The “chart” is my kitten Lily, who I adopted off the street when my deadbeat neighbors were arrested/evicted and abandoned her.

    ** Holding Lily upside down will likely*** result in deep scratches, massive bleeding, and likely scarring.

    *** Likeliness is 100%. Ouch!

  42. natalia says

    Yay for Rebecca! i think the tire ordeal was funny kind of think she’s even more awesome? Also off note i love amanda marcotte. And like im commenting Hi Jen! <3s

  43. Praedico says

    Oh man, this thread must have been EPIC before all the banhammers fell, and I missed it all :(

    Congrats to Rebecca on the much-deserved win!

  44. Rick J says

    I think that if you listen to her account of what the guy said to her in the elevator and take into account the fact that the guy was not a complete stranger(he knew that she knew where to find him or identify him if the need ever arose), her severe negative reaction was unjustified. Of course, her comments on a later video that some guys should use inflatable sex dolls when they want sex did not help her cause.

    From what I see on the ground, for every one time a woman turns down an unwanted proposition, the are 5-10 times as many occurrences of women wanting the attention of an acquaintance she just met but not getting it. Rebecca Watson’s efforts are not contributing towards improving this situation.

  45. anbheal says

    Eight of the top 10 are bloggers in the same e-communities. Seems a bit solipsistic and self-congratulatory, this vote.

    Forbes ranked Dilma Roussef as the third most powerful woman on the planet. She was coy about her atheism in her presidential campaign, but she certainly is an atheist. And she certainly wields many times more influence than all these bloggers combined.

    Or did I miss some sub-clause in the wording of the poll, limiting it to the skeptic/atheist communhity of bloggers? Whom I admire, don’t get me wrong. But none led a civil war, founded their country’s most popular political party, or heads the second largest and second richest country in their hemisphere.

    Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook (5th for Forbes most powerful women), is also an atheist, though her politics wouldn’t win her many votes here.

    I guess my point is that the poll seems to have been “Which of us bloggers in this niche do y’all like best?”

  46. says

    It’s supposed to be “influential toward the atheist movement.” There are certainly influential women who happen to be atheists, but aren’t really advancing atheism or skepticism (like Julia Gillard).

  47. anbheal says

    OK, fair enough. But let me probe a bit further, respectfully. So if Roussef gets legislation passed that loosens the vise grip of the Catholic clergy, and affords greater reproductive rights to women and wider civil rights for gays, let’s say. And she does it in the name of tolerance, and of not letting the Church dictate national policy. But she does not do so by writing in a blog “Belief in God is silly, and these existing restrictions based on a particular version of that belief are therefore silly”. Hasn’t she actually done more to promote the results that atheists want, even though she never expressly cited disbelief in God as her underlying reason, than any Brazilian blogger might have?

  48. Graham says

    Whoooa, thanks for the Natalie Reed link! Mind totally blown! I really had no idea what being a transsexual was all about, so I still had some weird cis-privilege stuff going on in my head…

  49. says

    Politely, smilingly asking as an offhand remark later to have her stated wishes respected was a severe negative reaction?

    What the fuck is wrong with you? I mean that seriously. What the FUCK did your parents do to you?

  50. 'Tis Himself, OM. says

    Now we see how evil threaded comments are. Comments should be listed chronologically, like God intended them. :-þ

  51. Huskvarna says

    That staff who did the banning, didn’t happen to be one and only pervert Franc Hoggle?

    Who knows? Is he even on the JREF staff? Not to my knowledge.

    And, more importantly, what does that have to do with Rebecca Watson being a censorious little asshole who got banned from JREF for being a censorious little asshole, in contravention to the rules imposed on moderators there? (On JREF, moderator power is limited and rules are objective, in contrast to the buddy-buddy junta here on FTB.)

    …but we’re speaking again about the “person of the year” for “2011″ not some silly internet drama that happen in “2008″.

    Behaving like the diametrical opposite of an actual freethinker and still hasn’t apologized for it.

  52. Huskvarna says

    I can verify that this retelling is correct! Though it’s more fun to tell in person. I think I did actually ban two people for a few minutes . . . Scrut, and then another poster who made a joke about wanting to be banned.

    Looks like the JREF staff didn’t find your “joke” very funny. According to (multiple) moderator discussion of the issue, you abused your new-found Privileges™ immediately and that’s why you got permed. End of story.

  53. Huskvarna says

    I’d say the assertion that our neural networks are all biased some way or another due to experience is pretty trivial. But that doesn’t in itself advance any particular postmodernist claims and, at the end of the day, getting a degree in e.g. “Women’s Studies” still only qualifies you to work at Starbucks for a very good reason.

  54. Huskvarna says

    And while your at it, you’re being a hypocrite too by referencing JEFR which is also not ran by a science person, but a celebrity magician

    He’s not a self-important Internet celebrity; he actually knows a thing or too about science.

    No hypocrisy here; move along.

  55. Huskvarna says

    Here, let me post some mean stuff about Rebecca Watson on about the same level of seriousness as the “Rebecca once showed a stunning lack of respect for the JREF forum by being funny and then being goofy with the accidental banhammer”:

    a) That’s not what the staff and moderators had to say about the issue and given Ms. Watson’s track record with being truthful I’m more inclined to believe them and b) it looks seriously bad on a self-promoting “freethought” martyr to go around banning people willy-nilly out of personal dislike.

    Rebecca Watson suggested that when a woman says “don’t hit on me” then says she’s going straight to bed at 4AM, it is maybe a little less than cool for a man who is a stranger to chase her into the elevator and invite her to his hotel room for “coffee”… without also sending an email to every other man on the planet, all 3 billion of them, reassuring them that she wasn’t calling each them a rapist specifically, plus a little comment for each man about a hobby or interest unique to him so the email doesn’t feel too impersonal. How dare she!!!

    Or maybe I dislike her (and indeed a large swath of the Anglo-American skeptics movement) for placing their personal drama above issues of scientific substance and indeed knowing very little about said issues: let’s not talk about, like, the Bayesian-frequentist controversy, let’s just talk about ME ME ME!

    (Nah, that’d be stupid.)

  56. Utakata, yes that pink pigtailed Gnome says

    So know one knows this but my vague memory which I really shouldn’t trust, I am going retract on the Franc Hoggle remark. And thus I shouldn’t have mentioned it in the first place. So my extreme apologies and my bad, I should know better.

    That being said, and since you don’t seem to get the point…let me put this way: Bringing this complaint up now which has no bearing on this reward what-so-ever is neither being a skeptic or a freethinker. You’re are just being petty, inane and trolling by thread derailing.

  57. Huskvarna says

    That being said, and since you don’t seem to get the point…let me put this way: Bringing this complaint up now which has no bearing on this reward what-so-ever is neither being a skeptic or a freethinker. You’re are just being petty, inane and trolling by thread derailing.

    Ah, yes … always an excuse to deligitimize dissent. “Derailing” is like the “sluggish schizophrenia” of the FЯЗЭTHФЦGHT™ ЬLФGS world.

    And I suppose pointing out that Rebecca Watson is far more into her own personal drama than real scientific and related philosophical matters is also “trolling” and “derailing”.

    Here is an example of real skepticism, due to physicist Philip Anderson:

    The posterior probability of any particular God is pretty small

    Here’s another, which compared to many other peoples’ propositions isn’t so radical. Isn’t God very improbable? You can’t in any logical system I can understand disprove the existence of God, or prove it for that matter. But I think that in the probability calculus I use He is very improbable.

    There are a number of ways of making a formal probability theory which incorporate Ockham’s razor, the principle that one must not multiply hypotheses unnecessarily. Two are called Bayesian probability theory, and Minimum Entropy. If you have been taking data on something, and the data are reasonably close to a straight line, these methods give us a definable procedure by which you can estimate the probability that the straight line is correct, not the polynomial which has as many parameters as there are points, or some intermediate complex curve. Ockham’s razor is expressed mathematically as the fact that there is a factor in the probability derived for a given hypothesis that decreases exponentially in the number N of parameters that describe your hypothesis — it is the inverse of the volume of parameter space. People who are trying to prove the existence of ESP abominate Bayesianism and this factor because it strongly favors the “Null hypothesis” and beats them every time.

    Well, now, imagine how big the parameter space is for God. He could have a long gray beard or not, be benevolent or malicious in a lot of different ways and over a wide range of values, he can have a variety of views on abortion, contraception, like or abominate human images, like or abominate music, and the range of dietary prejudices He has been credited with is as long as your arm. There is the heaven-hell dimension, the one vs three question, and I haven’t even mentioned polytheism. I think there are certainly as many parameters as sects, or more. If there is even a sliver of prior probability for the null hypothesis, the posterior probability of any particular God is pretty small.

    What does RW contribute? ME ME ME drama and scads of YouTube videos scarcely more sophisticated than “Santa Claus / the Tooth Fairy is really your parents”. Woohoo!

  58. Huskvarna says

    Wow, look at you, you maverick! Nobody has ever seen this point be brought up about Rebecca before and it most certainly has never been spoken about and refuted by Rebecca herself.

    s/refuted/lied about/

    …and her story doesn’t square with the “official” JREF account.

  59. says

    You can feel free to continue your thread derailing obsession with Rebecca elsewhere, but you can no longer do it here. Good day.

  60. Sarah says

    This is the first time I have ever scrolled past comments in the GC blog. Until this, I have alwfoundl them valuable on several levels.This JREF stuff is really boring. Congratulations, Rebecca. Elevator thing–thank you for being so tough. I would never want to be in an elevator alone with anyone whose take on your reaction is that it is all about you, you, you and your personal drama. As long as there are those who see it that way, it will matter to women that you keep up the fight.

  61. doktorzoom says

    “Guys, don’t do that” is indeed an unpardonably negative reaction. Someday, if there is any justice in the universe, men may eventually recover from being maimed by those four incredibly hurtful words.

  62. says

    Yeah, you ARE pretty stupid. Glad to know that you’re self-aware enough to accidentally admit it every so often.

    I mean, seriously, a prank on the JREF forum is now suddenly a big deal? Not according to JREF, since she keeps going to those TAM things and no one goes “Hey, no, you can’t come because you were mischievous on our message board a few years ago.” So bringing that up just makes people look like morons. People like you, come to think of it.

    And then you look double-dumb by pretending that skepticism can only be applied impersonally, to “scientific issues” as you define them, and no one can ever be skeptical about interpersonal or social issues especially if they actually matter to people in general. “Moronic” doesn’t even begin to describe how you sound right now.

  63. Wooj says

    Dude, you are arguing about forum moderation and harmless online pranks. That is so fucking adorable.

    I’m glad you’re here to set the record straight, though. Otherwise somebody, at some point in the future, might look at this list and mistakenly think that the winner was a good person that did anything worthwhile with her life.

  64. Sarah says

    I’m such a tourist. Was directed here from Greta Christina’s Facebook page and assumed it was her blog, My apologies.

  65. Utakata, yes that pink pigtailed Gnome says

    Thanks Jen. I really didn’t want to deal with that wall of text of stupidity that doesn’t get it. Though if I was feeding him/her too much over this…my apologies. :(

  66. Raumzeit says

    Yeah, you ARE pretty stupid. Glad to know that you’re self-aware enough to accidentally admit it every so often.

    Your sarcasm detector needs calibrating. Must be your Assburgers. (Oops, sorry, that was offensive! … Jen will tell you all about why it’s OK to say “retarded” in a derogatory sense, but not Assburgers.)

    I mean, seriously, a prank on the JREF forum is now
    suddenly a big deal? Not according to JREF, since she keeps going to those TAM things and no one goes “Hey, no, you can’t come because you were mischievous on our message board a few years ago.”

    They like to keep forum drama separate from TAM.

    I do consider censoring legitimate criticism quite serious, something she has continued to do on Skepchick as well.

    And then you look double-dumb by pretending that
    skepticism can only be applied impersonally, to “scientific issues” as you define them, and no one can ever be skeptical about interpersonal or social issues especially if they actually matter to people in general.

    That view is accepted in the clique of Internet Famous™ Atheist
    Celebrities and their followers, but is not generally agreed upon in the scientific community at large.

    Plus I don’t consider parroting the Gender Studies holy writ to be especially “skeptical”.

    “Moronic” doesn’t even begin to describe how you sound right now.

    The feeling’s mutual.

    Conspicuously absent in your response was any response to my having pointed out that RW’s knowledge of scientific issues is as small as her self-absorption is great:

    http://skepchick.org/2012/01/i-won-a-major-award/

    Well isn’t this a pleasant surprise: Jen McCreight asked the BlagHag readers who they thought was the most influential female atheist of 2011, and they voted for me! MEEEEE!

    See how she swells with joy upon uttering her favorite word: “me”.

  67. Raumzeit says

    I’m glad you’re here to set the record straight, though. Otherwise somebody, at some point in the future, might look at this list and mistakenly think that the winner was a good person that did anything worthwhile with her life.

    What exactly about spreading lots of ME ME ME drama and not knowing anything about science is particularly “worthwhile”?

  68. says

    It was an open process. I didn’t see any votes for this Dilma Roussef person.

    Have you heard of estoppel? It’s a legal thingie. You can’t speak up after a process has been started, run for a while, and completed while all the time you could have said something but didn’t. Did you vote for Dilma Roussef? DID YOU????

    No, you didn’t. So just stop. Or, more to the point, estop.

  69. julian says

    See how she swells with joy upon uttering her favorite word: “me”.

    You may be the pettiest person posting right now, mate. Everything you’ve written is poisoning the well and attempts at character assassination. It’s be fine if you cited examples of her holding onto a double standard or flaws in her logic but this is what you can come up with?

    You can’t even give cite exactly who it was that was supposedly silenced by her back at the JREF forums. Or a context for the arguments she supposedly tried to shut down. Really, you’ve given no one a reason to take you seriously, so stop.

    signed,

    someone who generally neither likes nor listens to what Rebecca Watson has to say.

  70. Pugachev says

    That Rebecca Watson beat Ayaan Hirsi Ali simply proves that this is an internet popularity contest. Yawn.

  71. julian says

    To be entirely fair, however awesome Ayaan Hirsi Ali may be, she isn’t an skeptical activist. She seems more concerned with fighting back against Islam (and the role of women under it) than encouraging skepticism.

    That said, you’re right. Most anything put to vote online is going to be a popularity contest and Rebeccca Watson has a lot of fans.

  72. says

    There’s certainly no “ME ME ME drama” from someone who hopscotches from blog to blog insisting that people listen to him/her talk about a four-year-old prank that’s about as heinous and criminal as jaywalking, then plays the persecution complex and breaks out the Cyrillic characters when his/her attention-grabbing fails.

    And then creates obvious sockpuppets to get around banning.

  73. says

    That view is accepted in the clique of Internet Famous™ Atheist
    Celebrities and their followers, but is not generally agreed upon in the scientific community at large.

    And exactly what are your scientific credentials, Husky? Have you done the polling to see whether or not the “scientific community at large” thinks you can apply skeptical methods to issues outside of science? I mean, it’s not like you’ve ever seen not-just-Internet-famous scientists like Stephen Hawking, Richard Dawkins, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Stephen Pinker, Albert Einstein, etc., talking about social issues or applying skepticism to more than just astrology and Bigfoot.

    You make a whole lot of claims with a rather large dearth of evidence for someone who wants to play the more-skeptical-than-thou card.

    Looking forward to your next attempt to circumvent the banhammer. Abusing moderator privileges in service of a prank? That’s a permaban-worthy offense that marks someone as a Bowdler-esque censor, and invalidates them from consideration for any honor in the future (and feeds into their “ME ME ME” mentality). Repeatedly trying to derail comment threads to make them about ancient forum drama, and creating sockpuppets to circumvent enforcement of comment policies? Why, there’s nothing wrong, self-centered, or “ME ME ME” about that, no siree.

  74. says

    Moreover, while brave and influential, Ali wasn’t exactly big in the news in 2011. Conversely, she had a book published in 2010…which probably had an impact on her winning the award that year. As Jen mentioned in the OP.

  75. StevoR says

    Congratulations Rebecca Watson!

    You shook a lot of people’s worlds last year turning over a huge stone and exposing an infestation of creeping misogynist bugs that have been hidden and gnawing away at atheism / Skepticism for along time unnoticed. You woke a lot of folks up out of a sexist torpor – and you made this Aussie male into a feminist among a great many other things.

    Thankyou, well done – & wishing more power to you for 2012 and hope you have a great year.

  76. says

    I added ERV to the Webshites page on RationalWiki. I’ve debated adding her to the kooks list as well, but I don’t think she’s the crazy one — she’s just a raging mean girl.

  77. says

    I’m inclined to agree with Jen although I do visit Jen’s blog more frequently than Rebecca’s but more out of personal preference than anything (Sorry, Jen, but I hope my X-mas contest entry from 2010 makes up for that, lol). Rebecca’s doing positive things and making a contribution to rationalism and skepticism that kicks some pretty major ass. My agreeing with her or not from time to time doesn’t factor into her contribution as a whole and my subsequent need to grant her the vote she’s earned, regardless of what some dickwads say.

    Bottom line, I look at this as an exercise in celebrating the contributions of the women in the skeptic community as a whole. To me, that’s cool enough, even if we’re asked to name just one.

  78. says

    Rebecca isn’t a surprise, but I’m happy to see Natalie Reed on there. Congrats to her, not just for representing people like me in the atheosphere, but for doing it so damned well.

  79. Dunc says

    “I apologize for my gender.”

    Hell, I’m at the point where I’m apologising for my genus. I’m ashamed to call myself “Homo”.

    Thank you, thank you… I’ll be hear all week. Don’t forget to try the salmon mousse. ;)

  80. anbheal says

    Right, silly me, I left my copy of Roberts’ in the garret. I’ll leave the smoke-filled room now. Carry on amongst yourselves.

    (I actually did suggest Roussef on the blog where I learned of the poll, but when I came here to vote, it was closed. Still, I love the incessant demands for silence and banishment among the FreeThoughters. It’s the joint’s foremost charm.)

  81. says

    Who asked you to be silent/go away? The problem isn’t that your nominations are wrong or problematic, it’s that they’re too late. I find it fascinating that these two prominent atheist women exist, but as someone who’s not inclined to read Forbes, I had no idea–and I suspect the same goes for a lot of people in the atheist community (which, yes, spends a lot of its existence online, in blogs and such).

    On one hand, that would tend to belie these women’s status as “influential,” since it’s hard to be influential to a community that doesn’t know who you are, but I suspect that a comment about said women in the nomination thread–particularly with links to relevant articles or Wiki pages–would have merited votes rather than “incessant demands for silence and banishment.”

    But even when coming in (too late) to suggest those names, you came in with insults and condescension. Rather than educate, you chose to condescend, demean, and insult. You’re surprised to get bristling replies in return?

  82. Der Gegner says

    Julian—

    You may be the pettiest person posting right now, mate. Everything you’ve written is poisoning the well and attempts at character assassination. It’s be fine if you cited examples of her holding onto a double standard or flaws in her logic but this is what you can come up with?

    If she actually presented more to the world than petty drama, I’d have more than petty criticism of her. Sound fair?

    Tom—

    And exactly what are your scientific credentials, Husky?

    I have actually educated myself on issues of scientific importance, by, e.g. reading books like The Computational Brain (one of whose co-authors, Pat Churchland, is incidentally easily a far better female skeptic than Rebecca Watson) and Scientific Method in Practice, which gives a compelling argument for Bayesian over frequentist statistical research practices. I also have enough mathematical sophistication to understand e.g. why Gödel’s incompleteness theorems are not an argument against strong AI or Patrick Grim’s Cantorian argument against omniscience. I have also personally corresponded with important scientists and philosophers like Paul Thagard and Margaret Boden.

    Had I not been hospitalized last year I would have had a BA i.e. “namby-pamby liberal arts degree”, namely in linguistics, and that would have put me in more or less the same boat as Ms. Watson. However, unlike her, I have a strong command of issues that neither you nor she have likely ever even heard of, much less thought deeply about. That goes for Jen McCreight, too, who, like most prominent members of the so-called skeptical movement, appears to have a pitiful command of the epistemology of science.

    I mean, it’s not like you’ve ever seen not-just-Internet-famous scientists like Stephen Hawking, Richard Dawkins, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Stephen Pinker, Albert Einstein, etc., talking about social issues or applying skepticism to more than just astrology and Bigfoot.

    a) I don’t think it’s widely is/ought-distinction has been considered to be overcome by either philosophers or scientists; notice the heavy philosophical criticism of Sam Harris’ latest book … also I’m not sure that many scientific unions have official ethical policies except as regards internal research and sometimes medical practices and certainly not any based on ideas of, like, Privilege™

    b) The fact that you consider Stephen Pinker a good scientist is lulzy. Incidentally, evo psychs like him are widely hated by the feminist skeptical community: the right conclusion, but for the wrong reasons. His “work” and the “work” of others like him is highly speculative, tenuous, fraught with errors of all kinds … kind of like critical theory claims about Privilege™ and Patriarchy™!

    I remember sending an email to Leda Cosmides and John Tooby themselves about why they misapplied the “frame problem” to the human brain, given that the brain does not use deductive logic, which is the only place where the frame problem legitimately applies, and got no answer. How bizarre, how bizarre…

    c) rolling feminist critical / pomo theory into skepticism is pretty dubious

    Plus evo psych has bad things to say about Womyn™. Can’t forget that either.

    You make a whole lot of claims with a rather large dearth of evidence for someone who wants to play the more-skeptical-than-thou card.

    No, as you can see above, I’ve got quite a lot of Evidence™.

    Why, there’s nothing wrong, self-centered, or “ME ME ME” about that, no siree.

    Persistently pointing out that RW is an under-qualified, over-rated pseudo-intellectual little asshat is a service to skeptical community, and a laborious one at that.

  83. says

    I have actually educated myself on issues of scientific importance

    Oh, you’ve read books. But you know (through an MDC-worthy sort of telepathy, no doubt) that the books you’ve read and the topics you’ve considered deeply are clearly more deep and important and relevant and better than anything those silly women have even heard of.

    But thanks for the honesty in admitting that, for all your bluster, you actually have less in the way of scientific credentials than the targets of your vitriol.

    The fact that you consider Stephen Pinker a good scientist is lulzy.

    Oh, the fact that you think I said that–and boast about your ability to read so much that you’re better educated than a Ph.D. student!–is lulzy. I don’t have an opinion on Pinker’s status one way or another, and think evo-psych is largely full of shit. He is, however, a not-just-Internet-famous scientist who has commented on social issues.

    No, as you can see above, I’ve got quite a lot of Evidence™.

    No, you have a lot of claims. You have yet to present any evidence. For anything.

    I’m particularly interested in your evidence to support your claim that you “have a strong command of issues that neither you nor she have likely ever even heard of, much less thought deeply about,” because I think it’d be cool if telepathy weren’t utter bullshit.

    Persistently pointing out that RW is an under-qualified, over-rated pseudo-intellectual little asshat is a service to skeptical community, and a laborious one at that.

    And pointing out that you’re an arrogant, sockpuppeting, under-qualified pseudo-intellectual little asshat with an absolutely stunning irrational vendetta, well, that’s just fun.

    I can’t wait to see your next sockpuppet. Will it have googlier eyes than this one?

  84. Der Gegner says

    Oh, you’ve read books. But you know (through an MDC-worthy sort of telepathy, no doubt) that the books you’ve read and the topics you’ve considered deeply are clearly more deep and important and relevant and better than anything those silly women have even heard of.

    The only “targets of my vitriol” here are members of the new skeptical movement, including Rebecca Watson and Jen McCreight, who are incidentally women. Nice try with the rhetorical shuffle so common here on FTB: make the opponent look like a misogynist, even after they’ve not said anything misogynistic, in fact not said anything at all about women in general, and indeed openly lauded a (genuinely valuable) woman of science.

    If either Watson or McCreight have a deeper sense of science’s epistemology than e.g. “Santa Claus/the Tooth Fairy are really your parents”, it’s up to them to show it. So far, neither has.

    But thanks for the honesty in admitting that, for all your bluster, you actually have less in the way of scientific credentials than the targets of your vitriol.

    I did no such thing.

    Oh, the fact that you think I said that–and boast about your ability to read so much that you’re better educated than a Ph.D. student!

    Appeal to authority. When it comes to the issue of epistemology of science, which is essential to skepticism, I claim to be better than McCreight, based on what I’ve seen so far. I do not claim to have superior knowledge in her narrower technical expertise on genetics but don’t see how that’s relevant here, any more than James Watson’s clearly great knowledge of the same area (ostensibly even greater than McCreight’s) automatically validates his statements about Africans being dumb.

    (I’m willing to bet you’re going to try to twist that into “he just said black people are stupid!!!11!!”)

    And pointing out that you’re an arrogant, sockpuppeting, under-qualified pseudo-intellectual little asshat with an absolutely stunning irrational vendetta, well, that’s just fun.

    I acknowledge and make no apologies for either my arrogance or sockpuppeting. You have not done the spadework to show that I am pseudo-intellectual though.

  85. says

    Appeal to authority. When it comes to the issue of epistemology of science, which is essential to skepticism, I claim to be better than McCreight, based on what I’ve seen so far.

    .
    I like the accusation of appeal to authority from the person whose entire “evidence” of his intellectualism was an appeal to authority. ‘I’ve corresponded with these people, therefore I know more than you.’ Great, and I’ve chatted with Brian Greene; it doesn’t make me an expert on string theory.

    But ooooh, I’ve thought about things that you’ve likely never even heard of! How about them apples?

    You’re hilarious, Husky. Don’t ever change. Until your next banning, of course. Then change your name again. Because somehow that’s a lesser Internet offense than playing pranks with accidental moderator powers.

  86. Der Gegner says

    I like the accusation of appeal to authority from the person whose entire “evidence” of his intellectualism was an appeal to authority.

    I believe I talked about stuff I’ve learned / thought about.

    ‘I’ve corresponded with these people, therefore I know more than you.’ Great, and I’ve chatted with Brian Greene; it doesn’t make me an expert on string theory.

    This was a little different. In the case of Thagard and Boden, respectively, I submitted a criticism of his theory and a correction to her book, Mind as Machine. Thagard responded twice, which is substantial considering a big shot like him took me, an academic non-entity, seriously, and Boden was very appreciative of my correction and mistook me for someone who had completed their PhD.

    I became their intellectual equals in other words.

    But ooooh, I’ve thought about things that you’ve likely never even heard of! How about them apples?

    I have heard of string theory. It’s fairly well known in some circles.

    You’re hilarious, Husky. Don’t ever change.

    You’re obese, Tom. Don’t ever lose weight.

    Until your next banning, of course. Then change your name again. Because somehow that’s a lesser Internet offense than playing pranks with accidental moderator powers.

    Yes, I think evading a frivolous ban and (gasp!) DISAGREEING WITH THE ECHO CHAMBER is a less serious offense than censorship, which Rebecca arguably did on JREF, and most certainly does on Skepchick.

  87. ... says

    We’re officially doomed. Ayaan Hirsi Ali get’s only 13 votes? And even Maryam Namazie get’s only 25? And the most influential is rebecca watson?

    That is me out. It is now confirmed: the skeptics movement is nothing more than a club for spoiled and self-involved first world brats. Include me out.

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