Dec 13 2012

Morning clean-up

I see that thanks to Michael Shermer I’m going to be having to do extra clean-up of falsehoods and misrepresentations for awhile. That’s skepticism for ya.

Here are some.

Jacques Rousseau@JacquesR

On the @michaelshermer talk where he’s allegedly sexist: http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/12-12-12/#feature … – ‘it’s more of a guy thing’ seems descriptive, not normative.

No. I didn’t allege that he’s sexist. I didn’t draw any general conclusions about him at all. I quoted what he said as an example of dopy stereotypes about women; I did not go on to say “therefore he is a sexist.” The column wasn’t about him.

Also, since the column was about stereotypes, it doesn’t really matter all that much whether Shermer’s remark was descriptive as opposed to normative. Stereotypes are descriptive, but that doesn’t make them benign.



Shermer on being called a ‘misogynist’. Agree with him, but still not sure why he’d say ‘a guy thing’, (unless joking): http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/12-12-12/#feature …

No. I didn’t call Shermer a misogynist. I didn’t draw any general conclusions about him at all. I quoted what he said as an example of dopy stereotypes about women; I did not go on to say “therefore he is a misogynist.” The column wasn’t about him.

It’s funny; Jacques R accuses me of hyperbole, being incendiary, reading uncharitably, drama, misinterpretation – yet he manages to accuse me of calling Shermer sexist when I didn’t. So it goes.


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  1. 1

    I heard Goody OB’s witch power is to make people hear what they want to hear instead of what she actually says.

  2. 2
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    It’s not even necessary to formulate coherent thoughts and commit them to writing, is it? You could more easily throw a bowl of word salad and nonsense and still be told you said things you didn’t. My god, what is wrong with people?

  3. 3

    I’m not surprised by Notung given he frequents the pit, that hive-mind is based on the newspeak premise that FtB-bad with no one talking out of line. Anything Ophelia said that was critical of a male sceptic-atheist would be proof positive she said they are a misogynist, even if she didn’t.

  4. 4

    I just reread your excellent Free Inquiry article (available online here: http://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php?section=fi&page=benson_33_1)

    –and I notice you also criticized something said by Audre Lorde.


    OK, it was a metaphor of hers you used as an example of something that promotes stereotypes. Also, Audre Lorde is dead. But if she were alive I somehow doubt she’d double down and go into full-on defensive hyperbolic mode over the fact that OB thinks she said something stupid once.

  5. 5
    Ophelia Benson

    Heh. I hadn’t thought of that. Very true; I did. I dissed the whole “difference feminism” idea that women have “a different way of knowing” – but nobody’s pitched a fit about that, that I’ve seen.

  6. 6
    Alethea Kuiper-Belt

    DZD beat me to it! Though I was going to call our host “Goodie Ophie”. She put a curse on the TAM meeting, too. And she steals teh menz’ penes and keeps them in a box.

  7. 7

    Literary pareidolia. Shermer et. al. should know better than to keep this up.

  8. 8

    Apologies ‘… should know better than *for this to keep up*’

  9. 9
    Ophelia Benson

    Eh? The correction doesn’t make sense, Bruce! Or else I don’t understand.

  10. 10

    I guess Shermer thinks you’re a threat to his position within the skeptical community. Maybe he sees the current MRA fad in skepticism as a way to strike back at you.

    I knew he wasn’t perfect, but I did expect better from him.

  11. 11
    Jacques Rousseau

    Ophelia, I didn’t tag you in that tweet specifically because I wasn’t wanting to claim that you called Shermer sexist. There were a fair number of tweets flying around, and I was offering a general observation. Then, as for me accusing you “of hyperbole, being incendiary, reading uncharitably, drama, misinterpretation – yet he manages to accuse me of calling Shermer sexist when I didn’t.”

    As I say, I didn’t accuse you of calling Shermer sexist. Not in the tweet, not in the blog post. The title of the blog post uses the word hyperbole, which I now think hyperbolic in itself. I tweeted as much last night. As for incendiary, I accuse Shermer of being incendiary, not you, saying “he took the opportunity to drop another piece of fuel onto an already raging fire”.

    I do accuse you of reading uncharitably and of misinterpretation, yes.

    So it goes. Indeed.

  12. 12

    Sorry Ophelia. I’ll re-endorse that first comment, and add the appearance of revisionism (‘oh, I didn’t say/write/tweet *that*’ is less convincing than ‘okay, I borked that sentence – what I wanted to say was…’) to literary pareidolia.

    I missed a day of sleep. I’m still recovering it seems.

    Again, apologies.

  13. 13
    Ophelia Benson

    cethis – oh, Shermer couldn’t possibly think that. Especially not on the basis of one paragraph in a column. Not possibly. He’s a big big Name, and I’m not. How could I be a threat to his position in the skeptic community?

    Jacques – well it wasn’t clear to me that you weren’t accusing me of being incendiary (or that you weren’t saying I’d called Shermer sexist).

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