Nov 05 2012

Travel report

You’re longing to hear all about My Trip To LA, right? No? Well you’re going to.

I think the talk went pretty well (she said modestly). I had fun doing it, anyway – I talked about some issues that are interesting to me. You guys contributed because of the discussion last week.

It turned out there were some people there who already had an opinion of me, and not a good one. (Perhaps they think I eat cat food.) There was one rather truculent question, but no rotting fruit, or even decanned cat food.

And we went to lunch after, and I talked to amazing Louise, until she had to go play the Auntie Mame part at a family gathering. Alice and Stacy and I went to Wacko, then the Museum of Jurassic Technology, then t0 meet up again with Amy and Johnny at a thrilling restaurant in the Hollywood hills, where they (Amy and Johnny) treated us all to dinner. Fabulous people.

The truculent question was why do I drag feminism into skepticism, when feminism is an ideology while skepticism is about questioning all the things (including, I think we are to infer, gender equality, but not gender inequality). I said basically that I don’t; my talk was about secularism and equality. As far as I know CFI doesn’t focus solely on skepticism. Then I said that on the other hand, I think it would be (or is) stupid for skepticism to drive women away from skepticism by treating them like crap. Apparently that’s a controversial view. Hmreally? Why?

Just now I went out, early while it was still coolish, and went north on Vermont past a bookshop and other nice stuff, then west a bit and back south, past CFI to Barnall Barnsdall Park which is across the street from them (and the Pentecostal church which snuggles up to their east wall). I went up to the top of the hill and was rewarded with a stunning view of the Griffith Park Observatory and the Hollywood sign and all the things to the north and west and a good deal to the south until the smog got too thick.

I like LA.


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  1. 1

    …while skepticism is about questioning all the things (including, I think we are to infer, gender equality, but not gender inequality).

    Very concisely put. We know women and minorities suffer from social bias against them. The empirical evidence is there. Go back a few decades and its not just sociolgy, its law. Ignoring this is not skepticism.

    Consider this analogy: should a skeptic argue for, against, or ignore a social bias against left-handers? I’d argue the only rational answer is against. “Ignore” is not a skeptical or rational answer, because when you see a bias with no rational basis, you should address it. Same goes for skin color or sex or any other bias based on some irrelevant characteristic. Good skepticism should challenge any irrational or arbitary bias (and, less regularly, the ones that seem rational too just in case we made a mistake).

  2. 2
    Bjarte Foshaug

    …feminism is an ideology while skepticism is about questioning all the things (including, I think we are to infer, gender equality, but not gender inequality)

    Exactly! If you want to know a person’s ideological bias, look at what (s)he tries to frame as the “unpolitical”, “non-ideological” position.

  3. 3

    We loved seeing you.

    I’m glad you like L.A. A lot of people think it’s all Beverly Hills and botox. You kind of have to know where to look for the good stuff.

    Hope to see you again before long!

    P.S. Barnsdall Park! :)

  4. 4
    hotshoe, now with more boltcutters

    I’ve been to Barnsdall Park, back when it barely was a park (more of a renovation burden for the city), dragged there by some very-Hollywood friends of the family for a fundraiser at the Hollyhock House.

    I love LA. I wouldn’t want to live there any more, but I’ve been missing LA a lot lately.

    Glad to hear you had a good time, Ophelia.

  5. 5

    @hotshoe, you should visit. If you do, CFI-LA is on Hollywood Blvd right across the street from the Barnsdall parking lot.

    They used to have free Shakespeare in Barnsdall Park in the summer. There’s still free summertime Shakespeare, but they’ve moved to Griffith Park. Sometimes coyotes lend their voices to evening performances.

  6. 6
    bad Jim

    Glad you had a good time. Is the Museum of Jurassic Technology worth the visit?

  7. 7
    Ophelia Benson

    Barnsdall! Der.

    bad Jim – well I thought it was. It’s very eccentric.

  8. 8

    when feminism is an ideology while skepticism is about questioning all the things

    And that’s not an ideology in itself?

  9. 9
    Ophelia Benson

    Well no, not exactly. It’s a method.

    It can become an ideology though, as can lots of things, including feminism.

  1. 10
    CFI’s Director of Public Policy | Butterflies and Wheels

    [...] probably knew that. I think some people don’t know that though. I mentioned the question I got after my talk, asking why I drag feminism into skepticism, when I hadn’t [...]

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