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Jan 31 2013

My current feelings on the skeptical movement and blogging

I must not be the only one feeling disenchanted, since all of these other people can speak perfectly for me. From PZ, in response to Steven Novella’s piece about the scope of skepticism:

As for that awful, dishonest, destructive claim that “Political, moral, and social ideology are ‘outside the scope’ of skepticism because they remove objectivity” — I ask, OK, so would you claim that there is no rational, evidence-based argument against, say, slavery? That it is impossible to make an objective argument in any domain against treating people as property?

If that’s the case, well then, fuck skepticism. It isn’t relevant or useful anymore. It has abstracted itself into the realm of a private academic circle-jerk, and we can stop arguing, because just maybe atheists, who apparently have more rational minds, can just leave the party voluntarily.

Improbable Joe responds to the second paragraph with this comment:

A-fucking-men! If all that skepticism is for is dismissing the same silly claims that have been dismissed for sometimes hundreds of years, and not for creating positive change in the world, then what goddamned use does it have? “Hey, let’s all get in a room once a week and talk about how homeopathy is still quackery, and that Bigfoot is a hoax! And then we can pat each other on the back for still not believing the same daffy shit we didn’t believe last week, and didn’t believe the week before either!” Wow, yeah, that’s really inspiring me to join a “movement” that seems to be fixated on not moving, not budging a single solitary inch, if in doing so it moves beyond smug self-congratulation.

And to close, sawells perfectly summarizes why I’m sick of dealing with the skeptic movement:

I think there are two unspoken arguments which people want to make and can’t (publicly).

Argument 1: skepticism is fine if you point it at things which very few people really believe (bigfoot;alien abduction) because if they get angry we can laugh at them. Don’t point it at things which lots of people believe! There are lots of them and if they get angry that might be scary!

Argument 2: skepticism is fine if you point it at other people who are wrong. Don’t point it at me! I’m not wrong!

Hence the massive pushback against applying basic skepticism to things like mainstream religious claims and mainstream gender stereotypes.

This. Oh, so much this.

I’ve grown reluctant to deal with the egos of skeptic celebrities and politics of skeptical organizations who, frankly, aren’t the great skeptics they think they are. But I’ll still keep writing and speaking about science and skepticism because, well, I find them important and interesting. I’ve realized I don’t need to be an official part of a group or a movement to do those things, nor am I personally responsible for spending my time and energy in improving a movement that is so stubbornly resisting improvement.

Because when my time and energy is spent on repeatedly explaining why diversity matters, why harassment policies are good to have and are already widely implemented at other events, why Obviously Sexist Statement from Skeptic Pope X is problematic, and why certain topics are not exempt from skepticism…then I don’t have the time to write about those certain topics that matter to me. I don’t have time to create unique material about science and skepticism when I’m stuck meta-blogging about how some atheist yet again told me to go kill myself on twitter because I’m an ugly bitch who’s ruining skepticism.

And I didn’t realize how obnoxious this meta-blogging was until I took a break from blogging and spent some time as just a blog reader. All of the blogs I had once loved now hardly ever produce unique material about atheism or skepticism because they’re too busy reacting to trolls or debating some “big name skeptic” (who is really just some shmuck* only known to a small group of people whose opinions have little effect on the world at large). Even the rare unique posts are frequently filled with snide offhand remarks about people they don’t like or vague comments alluding to past drama. And you know, if that’s what they want to do, that’s fine. One of my main pet peeves as a blogger is when people tell you what you should be writing about, when it’s a blogger’s prerogative to write about whatever they find interesting.

I personally no longer find the meta-blogging interesting.

So consider this meta-meta-blogging my long-winded way of saying that my attitude toward blogging is changing. From now on, trolls and haters will be ignored instead of further publicized, and I encourage my readers to do the same in the comments. I will not feel guilty about moderation or banning in order to make a harassment-free environment for me and my readers. I will only comment on controversies if I feel that they have effects outside of our tiny little skeptical bubble. And most importantly, I will concentrate on writing unique material about the topics I care about instead of just endlessly replying to blogs, comments, and tweets.

That’s what I want to spend my time and energy on, not fixing a stubborn skeptical movement’s academic circle jerk.

*I count myself in the category of “random shmuck that other people care way too much about.” I wish my haters would spend less time obsessing over what’s effectively an open access creative writing journal for a random grad student, and maybe take up some sort of constructive hobby, like actually promoting science and skepticism, or at the very least, knitting.

72 comments

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  1. 1
    hjhornbeck

    And I didn’t realize how obnoxious this meta-blogging was until I took a break from blogging and spent some time as just a blog reader. All of the blogs I had once loved now hardly ever produce unique material about atheism or skepticism because they’re too busy reacting to trolls or debating some “big name skeptic”

    Alas, the trolls have managed to make a small but significant change in the blogging conversation, forcing their pet peeves to become more prominent. I was hoping for more substantive discussion of the issues they keep bringing up, and not “X said Y” blogging, but repeating “do you realize what sexist slurs imply?” can get annoying after a while.

    Nonetheless, all of us are much more aware of sexism now, thanks to their efforts. I still view it as a net gain, albeit carrying a substantial cost.

  2. 2
    Damion Reinhardt

    It might be boring to constantly find new ways to explain to the uneducated public that homeopathic and other non-scientific ‘remedies’ just might ruin their health, but surely someone has to keep doing it so long as the drug stores and television programs keep mainstreaming that stuff. I mean, maybe it’s not your bag, but someone has to get the word out to a woefully undereducated public.

  3. 3
    Pteryxx

    Hear hear! Engaging the haters should be a choice; disengaging is just as valid a choice, and that’s what the haters most want to deny. Not that that’ll stop them, so please, moderate the heck out of us, block and ban away, and if any of us grunts can help screen out the shitstorm please ask.

  4. 4
    stevebowen

    This Jen, maybe the most sense I’ve read on the subject for months.

  5. 5
    hausdorff

    D4M10N (#2):

    I don’t think the point is that writing about homeopathy is bad, the problem is when that kinds of thing is all that is done. In fact, the complaint here is that branching out is being discouraged. I agree with you that we need someone to push against the quacks as long as they are pushing their wares, but if people want to apply their skepticism to something new that should be encouraged as well.

  6. 6
    Ganner

    This is awesome. I’m hoping this means we’ll be seeing more out of you in the future, and more of the “old Jen” that isn’t so obviously distressed and fatigued by the bullshit. I miss those posts. There’s another blog I used to read, not going to name names, that tried to sort of take a “middle ground” but obsessively blogged about meta shit and I quit reading, because there was nothing being written similar to what drew me in to begin with. I love what you, and others drug into all this crap, have to say and really look forward to hearing more of it.

  7. 7
    Counter Apologist

    I agree with your stance on the “meta-blogging”, and am happy to hear you may blog again soon. :)

  8. 8
    Brian

    Knitting is nice. Haters should be encouraged to form knitting circles. I bet if they had a regular stitch-n-bitch for an outlet they wouldn’t feel compelled to blog-n-flog instead.

  9. 9
    Bjarte Foshaug

    I kind of sympathize with the idea of keeping politics/ideology and skepticism apart in principle. The former is inherently value-driven while the latter mainly deals with facts – both important, but not to be conflated. On the other hand there is nothing apolitical about what the pro-harassment crowd are advocating. Actively opposing any attempt to make the movement more welcoming to women and minorities is also a political position. If you want to know the ideological bias of a person or group, look at what they are trying to pass of as the “apolitical”, “non-ideological” view.

  10. 10
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    Wow, I got quoted by one of my favorite bloggers! Woo!

    I’d wondered about what you were on about with the “meta blogging” on Twitter, and now that I see it I get it, and I agree with it. It comes down to is whether or not you think “The Skeptical Movement” is worth trying to fix and/or worth YOU trying to fix. I don’t see why it is your responsibility to invest one more bit of energy or effort in trying to fix a “movement” that appears to be fundamentally hostile to making any real progress. Forget about tolerating the presence of horrible people who want to silence you so they can go back to their circle of self-regard because they are so very clever as to have figured out that ghosts aren’t real and so their work is done.

    And they ARE horrible people. This isn’t about “disagreement” in any intellectual sense, this has gotten to be a matter of basic human decency, and how some people seem to lack any sense of it. And they are not worth one more second of your time.

  11. 11
    kbonn

    This is exactly why so many people say “Don’t feed the trolls”. We are all much better when we stay focused on the task at hand. Good post. Looking forward to the next one.

  12. 12
    michaeld

    @2 D4M10N

    If someone is passionate about alt med I (and I think everyone else here though I won’t claim to speak for them) encourage them to blog about it, talk about it, and do activism about it. By the same note if someone is passionate about something else and wants to apply skepticism (evaluation of evidence, critical thinking etc), activism etc to that goal we should be encouraging them as well.

  13. 13
    ImaginesABeach

    I really don’t want those people in the yarn shops.

  14. 14
    athyco

    [I]t’s a blogger’s prerogative to write about whatever they find interesting.

    Yep and Yayyyy!

  15. 15
    Argle Bargle

    More and more I’m getting the impression that “skeptic” means “libertarian who doesn’t believe in Bigfoot.”

  16. 16
    shockna

    surely someone has to keep doing it so long as the drug stores and television programs keep mainstreaming that stuff. I mean, maybe it’s not your bag, but someone has to get the word out to a woefully undereducated public.

    That’s certainly true; but nobody is saying that skeptics shouldn’t continue advocating for science-based medicine. The problem is that a lot of established skeptics are shouting down anyone who wants to advocate for non-traditional skeptical topics. But of course, I think everyone already knows that, so there’s really nothing else to say on the topic.

  17. 17
    Gregory in Seattle

    @hjhornbeck #1

    Nonetheless, all of us are much more aware of sexism now, thanks to their efforts. I still view it as a net gain, albeit carrying a substantial cost.

    The phrase that comes to my mind is Pyrrhic victory. It doesn’t do us much good to win new fields if the war turns them sterile.

  18. 18
    Pteryxx

    kbonn @11: Yeeaah, not so much, especially when you start throwing “all” and “we” in there.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2012/02/28/dont-feed-the-trolls-is-bad-science/

    Deciding to focus on something else besides the trolling is a valid individual decision. It doesn’t befit “all of us” collectively to imply that ignoring harassment is the right approach, or even a solution, for everyone.

  19. 19
    Gregory in Seattle

    An excellent essay, Jen. I’m looking forward to your return.

  20. 20
    Inaji

    Good for you, Jen. Whatever you have to do – I’m just glad to see you back.

  21. 21
    miller

    I don’t really mind all the blogging drama; I’m actually very interested in internal politics. I like thinking about how the atheist/skeptical movement is developing, and I like comparing it to the internal politics of other movements.

    But it’s probably very different if you have to deal with personal attacks, and very confusing and discouraging to people who are just entering the space for the first time. I respect your decision to try to avoid meta-blogging–although it seems that you failed to avoid it this particular moment ;-)

  22. 22
    omnicrom

    Jen you have all of my best wishes. Do as you please and blog how you like.

  23. 23
    Great American Satan

    Specifically, I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE EXCITING EMERGING FIELD OF POKE-EVO. So at your soonest convenience, please to proceed. :-)

  24. 24
    mnb0

    “I’ve realized I don’t need to be an official part of a group or a movement to do those things”
    Welcome. I realized this many years ago and alas this includes atheism+. Though I need to add that that’s simple for me as I am just a Dutchman living in Suriname.

    “I didn’t realize how obnoxious this meta-blogging was”
    Frankly I think about all meta-blogging obnoxious. My two SRD: your best articles are about what you think important and what matters to you. Now you may understand why you haven’t heard from me since a very long time.

    “hardly ever produce unique material”
    I agree and this applies to several bloggers on Ftb. Again just my two SRD – if many American atheists this kind of infighting think more important then it be so. But it’s completely irrelevant and uninteresting for me.

    “I personally no longer find the meta-blogging interesting.”
    Great.

    “I will concentrate on writing unique material”
    Greater.

    “That’s what I want to spend my time and energy on.”
    Greatest. I’m looking forward to this with enthusiasm. I’m happy you go back to the good stuff.

  25. 25
    chasstewart

    I think that the Improbable Joe comment you highlighted is riffing on a position that is not held by Drescher or Novella. It’s not that the tools of skepticism can’ t or shouldn’t be used to falsify or confirm political beliefs and particular religious claims but that they shouldn’t be used to confirm or falsify “ideologies” and faiths.

    As an example, I can cite numerous statistics that bolster my opinion that the Republican party is wrong when they advocate for the persistence of the drug war. That’s a particular claim made by the Republican party (though some Republican individuals are likely to agree with me) that I feel can be disproved by using skeptical methods but I don’t see how you can use these methods to totally repudiate an entire ideology. Maybe you can by presenting a preponderance of evidence that the Republican party is a disreputable party but that should probably be left for political discussions and not skeptical discussions. I’m not saying you shouldn’t blog about something like that, of course, but that type of overarching topic probably doesn’t belong at a skeptical event.

    I believe this is what Novella was getting at in his initial post, as well. Skeptics can easily disprove religious claims but once we get past the claims and all that’s left is faith well then we just have to admit that there’s nothing we can do to disprove their faith in supernatural beings or whatnot.

    The idea that all this means that skeptics should just be resigned to disproving Bigfoot over and over again befuddles me and I think it’s disingenuous to paint others this way.

  26. 26
    chasstewart

    Also, I’m happy that you are not going to concern yourself with the infighting and that this will allow you to focus on the subjects that you love to work on.

  27. 27
    BobApril

    It’s been said several times already in this thread, but I find I have to chime in – I’m glad to see you writing about any skeptical or scientific subject that interests you. I found your thoughts valuable during your all-too-brief first stab at it…and now I’m very glad I never removed you from my RSS feed when you dropped out. Looking forward to reading whenever you have something to say.

  28. 28
    cethis

    I think one of the best ways to strike back at trolls is to keep posting. It will drive them nuts to see their efforts go to waste. :)

  29. 29
    kevinlyda

    “And most importantly, I will concentrate on writing unique material about the topics I care about instead of just endlessly replying to blogs, comments, and tweets.”

    Good. You’re a smart person and a great writer. Writing about a lot of this other crap is a waste of your talents. And honestly others do it better. Let them do that.

    Write stuff about your research, the mechanics of doing science and all in ways that are approachable to people outside your fields. Not many people do it well, you do.

    And yes, remove assholes from your comment stream. Honest disagreement and discussion is interesting. Jerks are not.

  30. 30
    Miri, Professional Fun-Ruiner

    From now on, trolls and haters will be ignored instead of further publicized, and I encourage my readers to do the same in the comments. I will not feel guilty about moderation or banning in order to make a harassment-free environment for me and my readers. I will only comment on controversies if I feel that they have effects outside of our tiny little skeptical bubble. And most importantly, I will concentrate on writing unique material about the topics I care about instead of just endlessly replying to blogs, comments, and tweets.

    I really like this. It’s what I try to do as well. I don’t begrudge anyone else what they choose to write about, and sometimes I like to keep up on what assholes are saying, but I’m not going to write about it myself because it’s just not why I got into writing/blogging.

  31. 31
    michaeld

    @chasstewart
    I don’t want to be all dramay and meta but….

    While big foot skeptic is a bit of an exaggeration there are skeptics that take a very strict view of skepticism. Novella has been less clear but Drescher was quite clear when I asked that she believes in a very academic view of skepticism. To her skepticism could tell you that say there is no evidence that the war on drugs is reducing their availability but it could never tell you that it was wrong to support the war on drugs. Skepticism can’t prove or disprove it can only inform in her view.

    To her 1) Skepticism can only say whether there is currently any evidence for the claims 2) skepticism couldn’t say that homeopathy doesn’t work, its a waste of money and we should do activism to get rid of it.

    I don’t agree with her but this was what she made clear.

  32. 32
    Catherine Dixon

    Hurray! I am glad you are taking care of yourself and excited you will be writing more (the Pokemon post was great). Basically you are awesome and I believe in you!

  33. 33
    schweinhundt

    I’ve realized I don’t need to be an official part of a group or a movement to do those things

    My only quibble with that phrase: I would put a full stop after “movement.” To me, that seems to be a central concept in nontheism.

    Otherwise, huzzah!, huzzah!, etc., and so forth.

  34. 34
    matthewsmith

    This was such a breath of fresh air. I like how you express things that I didn’t even realize I was trying to say.

  35. 35
    Martha

    So glad to see you back!

  36. 36
    Ryan Coons

    Atheist bloggers become famous in the same way that gaggles of high school girls become famous when they strut around the Millcreek Mall and declare themselves to be famous.

    The atheist blogosphere has always acted exactly like a high school clique. There’s a small, self-selected group of people who exist largely to talk about themselves and to judge people as to whether or not they should be permitted admission. Occasionally, one member is randomly selected for persecution in order to re-iterate the values and preferred behaviors of the group, and to remind members of the group’s self-appointed authority to punish.

    It’s bullshit, and anyone who says otherwise can feel free to write a treatise of awful things about me — because only their friends will read it.

  37. 37
    schweinhundt

    Messrs. Coons, Congrats on being the first to tempt the new “Don’t feed the trolls” approach on this blog. As they (might someday) say on Arrakis: May your flame wither and die.

  38. 38
    Ryan Coons

    I’m not tempting anything, schweinhundt. I’m an old-school friend of Jen, from her old school. Jen’s the only atheist blogger I support, but that’s because I knew her before she got big and was swept up in a sea of drama. My message was one of jubilant affirmation of her decision to denounce meta-blogging and its petty squabbles.

    Inadvertently though, the two of us, by our comments, have created meta-meta-blogging.

  39. 39
    Rokdun Johnson

    “I will not feel guilty about moderation or banning in order to make a harassment-free environment for me and my readers.”

    Oh, that feels good to read.

  40. 40
    MadHatter

    I’m glad to hear you will come back to talk about things you are interested in! I agree that blogs are far more interesting to read when it’s about the bloggers interest. I find the meta-blogging annoying too.

  41. 41
    frankboyd

    It has abstracted itself into the realm of a private academic circle-jerk,

    Well, that’s what you always wanted, PZ. Little late to bitch now.

    That it is impossible to make an objective argument in any domain against treating people as property?

    Fascinating that when Sam Harris made that argument, PZ jumped up and down and threw his widdle toys out of the pram.

    Look, cut the bullshit. We know what’s really at stake: neither you nor PZ have anything useful or credible to contribute to Skepticism, so you want to substitute the bromides of the lobotomized American left as a substitute for critical though. Scuttle off home, little people, and leave this to the adults.

  42. 42
    myusernameisinigomontoya

    It’s really sad that you’re having such a bad experience with some atheists. Keep up the good work :)

    Fascinating that when Sam Harris made that argument, PZ jumped up and down and threw his widdle toys out of the pram.

    Got a link for this, please?

  43. 43
    mickll

    frankboyd – establishing once and for all that “skeptic” really does now mean “libertarian who doesn’t believe in Bigfoot”!

  44. 44
    sambarge

    I’m glad your back and I agree that it would be more interesting to blog about topics that are, well, interesting than to respond to hate elsewhere.

    I hope that doesn’t mean though that you’re not going to blog about social justice issues. I like the pure science and all, don’t get me wrong but I love being able to read and comment about social justice issues with people who aren’t going to refer to some divine interpretation of the issue.

    For example, I want to read about feminist issues but I don’t want to read that feminism and the Abrahamic faiths are not in conflict. I like my social justice talk to be firmly rooted in reality.

  45. 45
    jamief

    Dare I think this means you’re back? For realizes? If so, then yay, and squee and all that. Very much missed your writing.

  46. 46
    johnbrown

    Dear Jen: I am so glad that you didn’t let the haters win! Remember many of these are intellectual dilettants who are trying to be “cool” and rebellious. Fuck them all! Stick to your guns kid!

  47. 47
    VeritasKnight

    As always, I’ll read happily what you choose to write.

  48. 48
    Georgia Sam

    Jen, I agree with you & I think you’re ahead of the curve on this topic as you have been on others. I’m tired of the personal accusations & counter-accusations that take up way too much space on some blogs. I hope this means you’ll be posting a little more often. – Georgia Sam

  49. 49
    Kevin

    Brava!

    It will be good to have you back to doing what you do well.

  50. 50
    glodson

    I am glad to see you are back, just to put that out there with everyone else, even though I’m about as unimportant and moronic as they get.

    The thing the trolls and haters don’t get is that they aren’t engaging in a dialogue. They don’t get that disagreeing with someone isn’t trolling or harassing. Or they do get it and are just disgusting little liars. That’s a strong possibility too. So, to hell with those morons. Ban them, let them whine about their free speech garbage elsewhere.

    And here’s hoping to see more Poke-Evolution soon! :)

  51. 51
    Lyra

    Organized skepticism lost me in the post elevatorgate fallout. The way Rebecca Watson and other female bloggers like you and women in general in skepticism were treated (I now realize the mistreatment was nothing new) disgusted me only about half as much as the fact that so many of the well known skeptics, who are supposed to be pillars of reason, couldn’t see what was happening and didn’t immediately shut this nonsesense down (at least in their domains) and having many even defending or enabling the assholes and creeps if not being one themselves. To me, they came across as the “Big Bang Theory” stereotypes other people see them as and seemed so clueless to progressive thinking that they couldn’t recognize a maraginalized group when it was screaming in it’s face.

    As far as skepticish groups go, I basically tucked myself away in a corner with freethought blogs, skepchick, and it’s allies and let the others go.

    Anywho, I’m as excited to see you blogging again as I was sad to see you stop when you did but didn’t blame you one bit. In fact, I completely understood because I would have done the same.

  52. 52
    Edward Gemmer

    Hence the massive pushback against applying basic skepticism to things like mainstream religious claims and mainstream gender stereotypes.

    I agree with this, but you have to take it a step further. If anything is true of skeptics, it is they want proof and want to discuss things. Various people are skeptical of various things. People often do not like to have their beliefs challenged. Clearly, challenging gender roles can generate poor responses. Challenging feminist theory can generate poor responses. We have seen it over and over. So when looking at the skeptic handbook, one must be prepared for the fallout of challenging people’s beliefs, and one must also watch their own fallout when someone challenges theirs. A lot of this needless grief in the atheist community seems to be rooted in the above quote and people confusing emotion with fact.

  53. 53
    Raging Bee

    More and more I’m getting the impression that “skeptic” means “libertarian who doesn’t believe in Bigfoot.”

    That’s what the libertarians want you to believe, not only about skepticism, but about every other movement or school of thought they infiltrate and poison. They’re taking the same bogus position here as they took WRT global warming: “Science can tell us the facts, but not what they mean or what to do about them. The minute scientists start recommending action, it’s not science anymore.” Just another gaggle of overgrown kids stomping their feet and screaming their lungs out at anyone who tries to tell them anything.

    crankboyd: you can bloviate all you want about how little Jen contributes, AFTER you’ve shown us what you’ve done that’s any better. So far, I haven’t seen diddly from you but ignorant-assed nonsense that never stands up under more than ten seconds’ scrutiny.

  54. 54
    Raging Bee

    PS: nice little mealy-mouthed bogus “equivalency” argument, Gemmer.

  55. 55
    essbee

    As a mere blog-reader I can relate to your frustration. Many of the blogs I’ve followed for years, which used to focus on communicating science and skepticism to a wider audience, are now largely devoted to covering arguments and gossip from within the skeptical movement. I think you’re right that it’s time to starve the drama-monsters and see if we can once again focus on understanding and communicating ideas related to science and skepticism.

  56. 56
    schweinhundt

    Ryan Coons, I apparently viewed you post through the wrong filter. My apologies for the undeserved aspersions.

  57. 57
    Hank_Says

    Good to have you back, Jen.

    glodson (50):

    The thing the trolls and haters don’t get is that they aren’t engaging in a dialogue. They don’t get that disagreeing with someone isn’t trolling or harassing. Or they do get it and are just disgusting little liars. That’s a strong possibility too. So, to hell with those morons. Ban them, let them whine about their free speech garbage elsewhere.

    Well, this is the thing, isn’t it? These petulant whiners simply don’t (or won’t) understand the concepts of free speech, especially as it relates to an individual’s private property (including online property). That the trolls can be banned, moderated, killfiled and otherwise excluded from peoples’ blogs/facebooks/twitters/youtubes/fora etc and still moan to their hearts’ content at their own blogs/facebooks/twitters/youtubes/fora etc means that their “free speech” has not been infringed upon in the slightest. They don’t (or won’t) understand that nobody has any obligation whatsoever to allow them past their front gate to do or say whatever they want.

    Of course they could play the “intellectual dishonesty” card and say their targets are “shutting down free inquiry” or “avoiding a free exchange of ideas”, but when the people calling for those things are cheerfully and unapologetically allied with those who have routinely participated in, enabled and condoned months or years of abuse and threats and, of course, simple dishonesty, it looks a little disingenuous (to say the least). If someone wants a “free exchange” of whatever-it-is or a “respectful disagreement”, they should practice, for example, phrasing their honest questions or concerns as questions or concerns, not gussied-up condemnations and perhaps consider a) repudiating their previous disrespectful behaviour and b) renouncing those of their allies who’ve engaged in far worse.

  58. 58
    John Horstman

    Yay Jen! I have nothing to add, I just wanted to express support. :-)

  59. 59
    glodson

    @ 57

    Exactly.

    I wish I could add more, but you expressed it better than I could.

  60. 60
    Charly

    I do not care about organized this or that, I am not member of any group and I do not intend to be.

    I am glad you are back and I look forward to reading your blog again. You were invaluable source of information to me and I am gratefull for that. Without you, I would be ignorant about feminism and might still hold some of the strawman missconceptions about it, that are again and again presented by FTB wannabeopponents. I might (shudder) be one of them, blissfull of my own ignorance. Nevertheless, iike you, I got tired of rehashing the same themes again and again and re-explaining the obvious.

    If past experience is any guide, then write about whatever you fancy and I will enjoy it.

    And yes, do not feel the slightest guilt for banning trolls. I was administrator on gamer discussion fora for five years and according to my experience, banhammer is the only tool that can keep discussions clean and on topic.

  61. 61
    Peter the Mediocre

    You have made my day, possibly my week. When you write about the things you’re interested in you’re great to read and generally help make life a little bit better for your readers.

  62. 62
    Andy Groves

    My advice, for what it’s worth…..

    1. Write about whatever you want. I like what you write. If others don’t like what you write, they can read another blog
    2. Delete any comments and ban any commenters you don’t like. If others feel that is horrible censorship and a violation of their inalienable right to be an asshole in public, they can go somewhere else.
    3. Delete your Twitter account. It’s a complete waste of time and serves only as a way for assholes to bully people and bray self-importantly.

  63. 63
    Givesgoodemail

    Duh. Could have told you the same thing a year ago, Jen. I quit reading the skeptic blogs (indeed, even Pharyngula whose writing I used to enjoy) a while back. I got tired of the retreads and troll-bashing and general backbiting that divided the skeptic and atheist communities. Nothing new, and certainly nothing innovative for 2 or 3 years, until Atheism+ came along. (I don’t follow that site because I hate wasting time threading through forum structures looking for nuggets.)
    I’ve quit blogging about looking for the moral life. The politics weren’t changing (on either side of the party aisle), the Teabaggistan wackaloons were still crooning their messages of hate and fear, and I got tired of preaching to the choir.
    The real activists don’t armchair their way to wisdom — they get off their keisters and act.

  64. 64
    hannahrichardson

    I just wrote and deleted an essay on this…

    Yay, you’re back!

    Yay, you’re going to ignore the trolls, dickheads, misogynists, mean girls, and time-wasters.

    Please keep it up, and please be ruthless about keeping this blog as a safe place or you.

  65. 65
    atheist

    … my attitude toward blogging is changing. From now on, trolls and haters will be ignored instead of further publicized, and I encourage my readers to do the same in the comments. I will not feel guilty about moderation or banning in order to make a harassment-free environment for me and my readers. I will only comment on controversies if I feel that they have effects outside of our tiny little skeptical bubble.

    I’m very glad you’re back, Ms. McCreight, and I’m glad to read you’ve come to this conclusion. You are the Queen of your corner of the internets. Trolls have absolutely no claim to your blog, your time, or your thoughts. Please have no guilt about ignoring, moderating or banning. Whether or not they think they are trolling is totally irrelevant. Your readers trust your judgement.

  66. 66
    magistramarla

    Welcome back to blogging, Jen.
    I’ll be looking forward to reading your new posts.

  67. 67
    waltyarbrough

    Yay!!!! Welcome back – look forward to your new posts!

  68. 68
    brive1987

    Interesting post and I understand your frustration. I wasn’t entirely clear about the relevance of the first 2 paragraphs though? Do you really believe skeptics are being told by the wider community that there is no place for rationality in determining the type of world we would want to live in?

    I could demonstrate via empiricism the negative impact of slavey and I could cross the “is to ought” divide with a compelling value ethics based position on the subject. But an objective moral statement? That’s a totally different can of worms and un-necessary to the cause of finding slavery totally morally repugnant.

    PZ goes from seeming strawman “would you claim there is no rational evidence based …..” to the red herring of objective values. Not an entirely helpful statement when the answer is obviously “yes there is plenty of evidence and no an empIrically based moral objectivity is not required and possibly not possible depending on the definition used for “objectivity” (none is provided).

    It is ironic that NeuroLogica, which is generally free of the egregious trolling and personality cult you naturally find oppressive, ran 2 articles on the basis of morality in January. Maybe blogs sans the bif are a bit dry? :-)

  69. 69
    drcowboy

    Absolutely. It’s your blog and you should write whatever you find interesting or just whatever you feel like, whether is has anything to do with science, skepticism, atheism, or not. Screw the haters.

    For the record, you make a difference. I was wary of Atheism+ at first but after seeing your talk in Kansas City a few months ago I changed my mind.

    You are an influence for good.

  70. 70
    chris

    Yay, you are back, Jen. I hope to see at the Skeptic meetups (they are now in Greenwood, hint: go up to 85th, turn south on Greenwood and find parking somewhere near the library, then drive south and turn east 80th to go back home… there is very little parking near the restaurant north of 85th).

    Ryan Coons:

    Jen’s the only atheist blogger I support, but that’s because I knew her before she got big and was swept up in a sea of drama.

    I assume it was not by design. Because as a mother of three college students, I see a college student. I applaud her removing herself from the drama and doing what she enjoys. Even if it is Pokemon.

    Actually I have my own issues with Pokemon as a parent having kids obsessed with it. But I did make the Charmander costume for one child, who as a teenager did a cosplay similar to Jen’s with the pink hat, shorts, etc.

    Jen, just do what you want. Don’t let others dictate your beliefs or what you write. And as a parent of three kids in college: just make sure that you are not distracted from your education. Also remove troll comments from this blog because it will keep the level of discourse more intelligent, and it just feels good to hit the delete button (um, yeah, I’ve done that on a group skeptical parenting blog).

  71. 71
    billhaines

    Good to see you’re back, and moving onward and upward. :)

  72. 72
    andrewviceroy

    If “feminism” truly means ‘gender equality’ then it is still one step away from semantic accuracy. I encourage everyone to contact A++ and demand that they remove ‘feminism’/women’s rights’ and put ‘gender equality’ in the charter. I can’t BELIEVE I’m fighting for gender equality in a humanism movement.

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