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Feb 21 2013

Explanation provided by Dunning and Kruger

Harriet Hall has yet another post explaining why she’s right and everyone who thinks otherwise is wrong. She says this is the last post on the subject, and thank god for that. This final post is about the T shirt.

Like the other two, it’s not impressive. She’s astonishingly unwilling or unable to admit even that her intentions were not necessarily self-evident, let alone that she simply went out of her way to make a hostile public statement about some people who had already been on the receiving end of a lot of hostile public statements.

I didn’t want to talk about the T-shirt, but I’ve been repeatedly challenged to explain myself, and I’m afraid I can no longer avoid it. Steven Novella has recommended that we try to give other people’s arguments the most charitable interpretation. I hope my critics will do that, but I’m not optimistic. If past experience is any guide, they will misinterpret my explanation and put it in the worst possible light, which is why I haven’t offered it before.

See what I mean? It couldn’t be that the T shirt wasn’t as limpidly clear as she seems to think, no, it has to be that Other People are simply determined to be big poopy heads. It couldn’t be that her critics are increasingly irritated by passive-aggressive bullshit like that very passage, no, it has to be that they are determined to misinterpret everything she says.

That’s not a good start. That doesn’t make me think her explanation will be honest or that she will manage to be at all self-critical.

To set the scene for the T-shirt incident, there was a complex backstory involving Elevatorgate, Richards Dawkins, insults and threats directed at women, a perception that TAM’s anti-harassment policy was not being enforced, objections to a statement JREF President DJ Grothe made, accusations that Grothe had lied about reports of harassment, and numerous other incidents, many of which were blown way out of proportion. All this had left big chips firmly glued to shoulders.

Or not. That’s another bad start. Maybe, just maybe, it wasn’t our fault for being annoyed that DJ blamed “some women” for talking about women and harassment, maybe it was DJ’s fault for blaming “some women” for talking about harassment. If Hall can’t entertain even the possibility of that even for a second, her “explanation” is not going to be worth much. Maybe ours were not the only shoulders that had chips on them.

It was in that context that Rebecca Watson announced in June, 2012, that she was cancelling her plans to attend TAM in July. The reason she gave was that  “I do not feel safe and welcome at TAM.” I was willing to take that at face value, as an “I” statement, not as a warning that women in general were not safe and welcome there.

Oh no no no no no. That’s wrong. That’s not the reason Rebecca gave – it’s much more complicated than that. The reason she gave was that DJ pretty much publicly spat in her face by saying she was one of the women scaring other women away from TAM, despite the fact that she had promoted TAM and helped fund women’s attendance there for years*. Hall must know that perfectly well. But I suppose it doesn’t do to mention it, because it doesn’t do to admit that DJ did anything wrong?

And that omission makes a mess of everything that follows. Hall’s story is that Rebecca just randomly said she didn’t feel safe at TAM, as if it were full of tigers and rattlesnakes, and Hall was just sending a counter-message on a friendly T shirt because she knew there were no tigers or rattlesnakes. But the first part is total bullshit, so the second part is too.

As an afterthought, I used the back of the shirt to express a long held opinion: “I’m a skeptic. Not a ‘skepchick.’ Not a ‘woman skeptic.’ Just a skeptic.” The word skepchick predates the Skepchick organization. It was used at least as early as 1999, it was in common use on the JREF Forum for years before Rebecca’s first appearance there in 2004, and the Skepchick website wasn’t registered until 2005.  I was thinking of the word in its earlier, more general sense, which is why I didn’t capitalize it. I have explained that my stance is a matter of personal preference and does not imply any disrespect for those whose preferences are different.  I even asked, “Please try to understand that ‘I like to do it my way’ does not equate to  ‘I’m accusing you of being wrong for doing it your way.’” If I say I prefer to cook my chicken by stir-frying, that doesn’t mean I think you are wrong to roast yours, and I’m certainly not trying to tell you that you should switch to stir-frying. I can appreciate that both cooking methods can produce delicious meals.

Bullshit. I’m sorry to keep repeating myself, but bullshit. That would be credible if the slogan were actually about stir-frying, but it’s not credible at all since it’s not. And if she really seriously truly honestly meant it as just announcing a personal preference (but why? why there, and then? why on that subject?) then she could have just said she was terribly sorry, she didn’t realize it would be misconstrued. She could have stopped wearing it, instead of wearing it more. She could say that now, at least. But no. She’s still pretending it was just a random remark with no relevance to anyone at TAM. That is not even a little bit credible.

*Update February 22: I was vague on the details, and short on time, when I wrote that, but several people provided unvague details in comments. Rebecca owns Skepchick, which promotes Amy’s grants; for several years before Amy started raising money, Rebecca single-handedly produced Skepchick calendars, the sales of which all went exclusively to sending women to TAM; and then there’s edithkeeler’s contribution @ 28:

I went to TAM in 2009 (came all the way from Australia specifically to go to TAM – MEGA REAL SKEPTIC COOKIES PLEASE?) and won an auction at jref forums to have lunch with the Skepchicks the proceeds (several hundred bucks from me & there were 2 winners so double that total) of which went to scholarships to attend. General JREF scholarships, not the Surly Amy ones (IIRC) so yes actually Rebecca was involved in fundraising to send people to TAM, apart from Amy’s sterling work.

Rebecca herself had forgotten that one.

115 comments

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  1. 1
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Yeah, no. Harriet Hall is not a stupid woman. This is insulting. She’s lying. Lying.

  2. 2
    Will

    And here I was, trying to give her the benefit of the doubt thinking “maybe she didn’t know all the context and climate going on at the time.” But nope, she knew all along. So much for charitable reading! See how great that turned out?

    Knowing the climate and how Rebecca (and others) was being treated and that Rebecca runs Skepchick, why would she think that people would not associate that phrase on her shirt with a slam at Skepchick but instead would think, “Oh, yes, Harriet Hall’s t-shirt is totally referring to the late 1990s usage on the JREF forums and has nothing to do with Rebecca’s website.” Really?

    Also, she keeps repeating this line about how she’s only stating her own preferences, but that’s demonstrably false. She gave an unsolicited opinion about how specialized conferences like WiS would balkanize and fracture the skeptical community and so she is against them. She posted that comment on a FB post promoting WiS, not on a post saying “what do you think of WiS?”. She’s not just stating a preference–she’s stating that her preference is correct and the rest of us are harming the community. If it was merely a personal preference, she would simply not attend instead of pontificating to others about it.

    Also, after her demand for respect and civility in her previous post, where is her respect and civility? She knew the shirt was harmful and causing problems, and yet she continued to wear it. How is that civil or respectful?

    She’s a hypocrite, plain and simple.

  3. 3
    Argle Bargle

    Hall claims she was wearing the t-shirt in response to Rebecca Watson. When another woman, Surly Amy, told Hall that the t-shirt was upsetting, Hall went out of her way to wear it two more days. If I weren’t charitable I’d give my opinion that Hall made the t-shirt to spite Rebecca and continued to wear it to spite Amy. But that opinion doesn’t show Hall in a good light so I’ll keep it to myself. (I can play passive-aggressive even better than Hall can.)

  4. 4
    Ophelia Benson

    Will – I mean “Will” – exactly. She keeps doing that – saying she’s just saying what she herself prefers, and then in the very next sentence, proceeding to argue that what she prefers is better. The next fucking sentence, I tell you.

  5. 5
    Deepak Shetty

    And here I was, trying to give her the benefit of the doubt thinking “maybe she didn’t know all the context and climate going on at the time.” But nope, she knew all along. So much for charitable reading!
    I dont think she “knows” . Its probably hearsay – Did you hear how Richard Dawkins tried to get these people to prioritise and they BULLIED him!

  6. 6
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    It was a random reference, with no meaning, that she had to wear three days running to ensure that everyone saw it, even in the face of the harm she knew she was doing.

    She’s a lying dirtbag. Let’s not let her past influence and importance blind us from that fact.

  7. 7
    evilDoug

    To quote Hubert J. Farnsworth, “Wha?”
    That is an extraordinarily long string of words to put on a t-shirt if the true and only meaning is “i’m a skeptic”. I thought skeptics doted on Occam’s razor. Would all the extra words make much sense to a “person on the street”?
    The explanation I regard as a non secateur (to swipe another expression, by which, I assume, the original user meant “it doesn’t cut it”).

  8. 8
    saramayhew

    “despite the fact that she had promoted TAM and helped fund women’s attendance there for years.”

    This is factually incorrect. Amy Roth raised money to send women to TAM. Though Amy is a Skepchick, Rebecca has never raised funds herself for TAM. It was Amy’s hard work.

  9. 9
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    saramayhew, plan on correcting any of the errors in what Hall said? No?

  10. 10
    Ophelia Benson

    That’s why I said “helped fund.”

  11. 11
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    So much for “charitable” reading, right?

  12. 12
    Ophelia Benson

    Ah, charitable for me, not for thee, dear boy. That’s how it works.

  13. 13
    athyco

    saramayhew:

    This is factually incorrect. Amy Roth raised money to send women to TAM. Though Amy is a Skepchick, Rebecca has never raised funds herself for TAM. It was Amy’s hard work.

    Althought focused elsewhere now, it is Amy’s hard work (YAY, Amy!). But I’m wondering exactly when you presented Amy with this statement and had her agree that it was factually incorrect.

    despite the fact that she had promoted TAM and helped fund women’s attendance there for years

    You see, it does say “helped,” O Ye of Focus on Factually Incorrect.

  14. 14
    athyco

    Ah, I’m both a slowpoke and a refresh forgetter.

  15. 15
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    Oh Ophelia, you called me “boy”… that makes you sexist, and you therefore deserve the dead chipmunk you’ll find on your doorstep from the ‘pitters next week.

  16. 16
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Which makes Hall’s behavior targeting Amy even more offensive, doesn’t it, Sara?

    Sara?

    Sara?

  17. 17
    A Hermit

    “Amy Roth raised money to send women to TAM. Though Amy is a Skepchick, Rebecca has never raised funds herself for TAM. It was Amy’s hard work.”

    And Amy got treated like shit for her trouble…how’d that work out?

  18. 18
    aleph squared

    @Josh — she wasn’t *targeting* Amy, she was just using skepchick in the pre-Skepchick way! How could she every suspect that anyone would use *context* to understand her message!?

    /snark

  19. 19
    theoreticalgrrrl

    And as thanks for all her hard work, Amy got a blatant slap in the face for three days in a row. I can’t understand why someone would keep wearing it will full knowledge that it made Amy feel unwelcome to the point of tears, at the conference she’s worked so hard to support over the years. Unbelievable.

  20. 20
    Kelseigh

    She called you a “dear boy”, Joe. Therefore she was sexually harassing you.

    Will her sins never end?

  21. 21
    Lyra

    @aleph squared

    C’mon where is your proof Dr. Hall was aware of this “context”? Be charitable. Maybe Dr. Hall is just as ignorant to it as she says she is. You can’t expect good skeptics to know what’s going on in their communities can you?

    Now where’s my “there’s nothing gay about marriage” t-shirts. Because you know how miserable married people are right? Haha, it’s a good joke because gay means happy. I can’t see how this one could go wrong…

  22. 22
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    Yeah, context. Because sometimes I wear a “damned Democrats” T-shirt, and you’d think I was a Republican, but I’m talking about the Democrats of 50-100 years ago that included the racist-as-hell Dixiecrats… but if you get it wrong, it is because you’re stupid and not because I’m being a deceitful asshole playing on the most obvious context.

  23. 23
    SallyStrange

    This is factually incorrect. Amy Roth raised money to send women to TAM. Though Amy is a Skepchick, Rebecca has never raised funds herself for TAM. It was Amy’s hard work.

    Indeed. And Surly Amy was the one who felt implicated in the negative reference to “skepchick,” and was upset about it. Yet Harriet Hall omitted to even mention her AT ALL during that whole explanation.

    Care to speculate why she avoided mentioning Amy’s existence, Sara Mayhew?

    Sara?

    Sara?

    Anyone?

    Beuller?

  24. 24
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    SARA?

  25. 25
    SallyStrange

    By the way, Amy is sending ME and a bunch of other awesome women, whom I look forward to meeting, to the American Atheists’ Convention in beautiful Austin, Texas! I wouldn’t have applied for a grant if she were still sending people to TAM. Whoops. I guess DJ kinda messed that one up.

    But oh, no, shan’t speak ill of DJ. Shan’t speak ill of Michael Shermer. And please, please, let us NOT talking about Ben Radford, oh my no. Only irrational women would be alienated by their remarks! And we don’t want IRRATIONAL women, just rational women, right Skeptic dudes? If it just so happens that a minority of women are irrational, well, I guess that’s just nature for ya! Oh well. Onward and inward, on the OmphaloSkeptics’ journey!

  26. 26
    SallyStrange

    Err-, whoops – that should read “a minority of women are rational” –

    Kinda takes away from the comic effect. Dang.

  27. 27
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    Sally, again congrats that you’re going and I was happy to contribute. But something you said is troubling to me, reminds me of a point I’ve brought up before in the long ago:

    But oh, no, shan’t speak ill of DJ. Shan’t speak ill of Michael Shermer. And please, please, let us NOT talking about Ben Radford, oh my no. Only irrational women would be alienated by their remarks! And we don’t want IRRATIONAL women, just rational women, right Skeptic dudes?

    “Rational” is defined as “not making a big deal out of a little joking and some flirting and guys just making a move and you can always say no and complain later if you’re REALLY assaulted/raped and have enough evidence to convict!” They put so much emphasis on “don’t make a fuss, stop rocking the boat, it is all in fun, why are you so uptight”… and it all sounds like date-rapist dialog from bad movies, and it is their semi-official position!

    Shit, I’m a straight cis male and I don’t feel safe around this “skeptic” assholes. They seem to be the type to get you drunk, strip you naked, and shave your body hair off and say “hey buddy, just a joke! Like a frat initiation, and we rarely wind up with any dead people!”

  28. 28
    edithkeeler

    I went to TAM in 2009 (came all the way from Australia specifically to go to TAM – MEGA REAL SKEPTIC COOKIES PLEASE?) and won an auction at jref forums to have lunch with the Skepchicks the proceeds (several hundred bucks from me & there were 2 winners so double that total) of which went to scholarships to attend. General JREF scholarships, not the Surly Amy ones (IIRC) so yes actually Rebecca was involved in fundraising to send people to TAM, apart from Amy’s sterling work.

  29. 29
    athyco

    Am I a bad person to find it hypocritical that folks can write stuff like this–and then defend Harriet Hall (through their keen interest in being factually correct)–without a single blink?

    Failure to engage with our detractors can be an intellectual vice — and even many betray a “sign of insufficient concern for truth” — as Roberts and Wood explain in their book Intellectual Virtues: An Essay in Regulative Epistemology:

    One sign of insufficient concern for truth is that when such people are given an opportunity to test their more cherished beliefs, they decline it, or apply it too casually, or offer defenses of the beliefs that are weaker than any that these people would accept in other contexts.

    from Justin Vacula’s “Negative criticism and the internet”

  30. 30
    docfreeride

    Retcons like this rightfully draw harsh criticism in science fiction franchises, where fans are prepared to suspend a certain amount of disbelief. Why would Harriet Hall think that she could foist one on real-life events without blowback?

    She’s intelligent enough that she really should know better.

  31. 31
    tonyinbatavia

    edithkeeler, who do you think you are, using “facts” and “data” to muddle an otherwise perfectly-choreographed narrative? Not that your “facts” or “data” will make a bit of difference since we can just ignore all that nonsense now that the narrative’s got a full head of steam that the small-minded among us will just accept and repeat endlessly. But still, who do you think you are?

  32. 32
    tonyinbatavia

    I just realized that I am still nowhere near my upper-limit. So, I just threw a chunk of change to help Amy’s efforts on general principle; Harriet Hall can claim inspiration for that one. And Ophelia, on behalf of saramayhew and her drive-by trolling, I have once again helped to fund your hard work. “You hate, Ophelia profits!”

  33. 33
    Setár, Elvenkitty

    SallyStrange #25:

    But oh, no, shan’t speak ill of DJ. Shan’t speak ill of Michael Shermer. And please, please, let us NOT talking about Ben Radford, oh my no. Only irrational women would be alienated by their remarks! And we don’t want IRRATIONAL women, just rational women, right Skeptic dudes?

    Oh yes. Never mind about making most of the population uncomfortable, we can’t alienate the well-off white libertarian types! Without their dogmatic adherence to freedom from counter-oppressive regulation we will be doomed! DOOMED!!!!

  34. 34
    Tom Foss

    I just looked. Seems like Amy announced her grants on this “Skepchick.org” website and promoted them there, too. Seems like this “Skepchick.org” website is relatively popular, considerably moreso than Amy’s “Surlyramics.com” website. Did a quick Whois search to find out who the owner of this “Skepchick.org” website was, and it seems to be a “Rebecca Watson.”

    But I guess “providing a popular platform to promote the campaign” (assuming that were the absolute extent of it, which I doubt) doesn’t actually qualify as “helping.”

  35. 35
    Aratina Cage

    I’ve already had my laughs about Hall’s whole explanation, but this comment by greenstone123 over there is worth mentioning:

    Did anyone click on the provided link, the sixth paragraph down. This is the group of ‘skepchicks’ Hall didn’t want to be affiliated with? (link omitted)

    If this is so then Hall should have spelled it “SkepChicks ‘99”. Does this link provide the general use of the word? I don’t see it. Personally, I am okay with people mixing me up with the Emily Rosa crowd.

    Right. I refuse to believe her about small-”s” skepchicks on account of her not providing quantitative evidence of her claim (one link is not enough) and on account of the “s” and middle “c” being capitalized on that page–clearly not the same all-lowercase “skepchicks” she had on her shirt, which means she has given zero pieces of evidence for her claim. (I’m being sarcastic of course, but that is how silly her argument about “queer” was.)

  36. 36
    FelixBC

    What I don’t get is the distance between “I was referencing a random meme from the late 90s so you can’t blame me” (skepchick) and “I was unaware of a very popular meme dating from the late 90s so you can’t blame me” (reclaiming “queer”). Seriously Harriet Hall, which is it? I don’t believe it’s both. Just take ownership of your statements, seriously and stop weasel-wording your way out of any responsibility for thinking things through, then or now.

  37. 37
    Bruce Everett

    Oh, I’m quite sure this business with the late 90s JREF forum SkepChicks isn’t some kind of last minute, ad hoc justification. Any minute now, Amy Roth will pop in to tell us how Harriet Hall explained this to her in person at TAM in an attempt to lessen the perception of aggression.

  38. 38
    Maureen Brian

    It becomes ever more clear. You cannot be both a skeptic and an authoritarian – examples all about us – and Dr Hall is an authoritarian.

  39. 39
    thetalkingstove

    In the simplest terms, if she had the right to say she didn’t personally feel safe and welcome at TAM, surely I had the right to say I did personally feel safe and welcome there. I wore a T-shirt that said “I feel safe and welcome at TAM” with a big smiley face to indicate no hard feelings towards those who felt otherwise. I did not discount anyone else’s experiences or feelings. I did not say that all women should feel safe and welcome at TAM. I simply made a positive personal statement in support of TAM, providing a counterexample for anyone who might have thought Rebecca’s statement represented the views of all women. I would have gladly provided more details, but they didn’t fit on a T-shirt, and no one asked me to explain what I meant.

    Gah. Who on earth would have thought that Rebecca’s statement represented ‘all women’?

    “I did not discount anyone else’s experiences or feelings”
    Sure. You had absolutely no inkling that if someone says “Hey, I feel X”, that prominently displaying a message of “I don’t feel X”, using the exact same phrase, for three days could be construed as a put down.

    Ok, so I’ll be charitable and accept she meant it as a friendly message…did she not think for one second that in the atmosphere of the time it might have been taken as an attack? That she might be trampling on already bruised feelings?

    So charitably, she’s not cruel or passive-aggressive, just completely unaware.

    Less charitably, she was completely aware that it could be construed as an attack, and that was the point.

    Either way she should apologise.

  40. 40
    Jafafa Hots

    My “I Hate NY” t-shirt, where the letter A in hate is represented by an upside-down heart, is in no way related to or a reaction to or meant to insult wearers of the “I ♥ NY” shirts that are out there.
    Any similarity is merely a coincidence.

    Mine was inspired by something else I saw somewhere once.

  41. 41
    Jenora Feuer

    thetalkingstove@38:

    So charitably, she’s not cruel or passive-aggressive, just completely unaware.

    Until late on the first day of TAM, when Amy told her that she felt the shirt, on top of everything else, was just stomping on what she had been doing.

    After that, Harriet Hall was not unaware of what was going on.

    She kept wearing the shirt for the next two days, only removing it on the last day after Amy had left. It’s a lot harder to have a charitable interpretation of that.

    Now, she’s just doubling down and trying to minimize the experiences of others. Again.

  42. 42
    Jafafa Hots

    (and the New York mine refers to is NOT the same New York. It’s a pre-New York New York.)

  43. 43
    'dirigible

    Oh New York in Lincolnshire? Yeah I know of that place. I can’t see how anyone could possibly confuse the two.

  44. 44
    embertine

    Wow, I’ve seen some crappy, amateurish rationalisations of bad behaviour in my time but this is ridiculous. Hall meant the pre-1999 usage of skepchick, in no way meant her T-shirt to have any connection to the current organisation or disagreements, and the fact that she continued to wear it for three days’ straight after having it explained to her was, um, because she had her luggage stolen by fire ants? I dunno, maybe I’m missing something. I admire her work and her achievements, but honestly.

    Jafafa, even old new York was once New Amsterdam (why they changed it I can’t say; people just liked it better that way).

  45. 45
    kellym

    saramayhew:

    This is factually incorrect. Amy Roth raised money to send women to TAM. Though Amy is a Skepchick, Rebecca has never raised funds herself for TAM. It was Amy’s hard work.

    The truth is Sara, that Skepchick was founded to sell calendars to raise money for women to go to TAM. Are you going to correct your “mistake,” or are you going to continue to spread that lie around, as you are wont to do? And by the way, the fact that Surly Amy raised thousands of dollars and worked her ass off for TAM certainly doesn’t prevent you from personally trashing her every single chance you get.

  46. 46
    sawells

    For some reason I’m reminded of those emergency-room stories which people come up with to explain why they need something unexpected removed from their ass. Can’t just say “Yes. I stuck it up there. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Ow.” Always the convoluted story about having slipped and fallen with millimetric accuracy. So, here, can’t possibly say “I meant to take a swipe at those I disagreed with, it’s coming back to bite me, maybe it wasn’t such a good idea”. Instead we get this length set of rationalisations which are neither plausible in themselves nor congruous with the evidence.

  47. 47
    Argle Bargle

    even old new York was once New Amsterdam (why they changed it I can’t say; people just liked it better that way)

    Another They Might Be Giants fan.

  48. 48
    Bernard Bumner

    Handily, Harriet will never have to address any of this criticism, because she has already told us that this is the last word on the subject.

  49. 49
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Right. I refuse to believe her about small-”s” skepchicks on account of her not providing quantitative evidence of her claim

    Don’t forget, Harriet Hall doesn’t need to provide any evidence, like for saying that queer is offensive. It’s only when you disagree with her that you need to.

    BTW why would anybody find it credible that Harriet Hall has the urgent need to distance herself from some concept that was in discussion 13 years ago?
    It’s some strange version of argument from etymology, me thinks.
    Also, if everybody gets her wrong, it’s clear that the problem is with her communication, unless she thinks she’s at the level of Gandalf who said something about wise people adressing the smartest person in the room and that is themselves.

    And yes, if you’Re Harriet Hall you can have your cake and eat it. You can claim that you didn’t want to stab at the SkepChicks and therefore they were wrong to be offended and claim at the same time that you were right to wear it because people send you emails thanking you for stabbing at the skepchicks…

    And no worries, Sara won’t turn up again unless she has some complaint about what somebody might have said who also posted on the same page as Ophelia who is therefore to blame.

  50. 50
    Deen

    I was somewhat optimistic about her “I’m not your enemy” post, and while I disagreed with some bits, at least was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. I even said as much at the time (I comment under my old nym ‘beowulff’ over there – I never did get a response to my request for clarification though). But this post just rubbed me the wrong way from the very beginning. And it ended with “I still get messages of support, so I must be right”. As if it would be any surprise that she would get support for taking a jab at Skepchick. What a disappointment.

  51. 51
    Deen

    Not really sure why she wanted to rekindle the whole “queer” topic anyway. If you want to write a post about the T-shirt, stick to writing about the T-shirt. Don’t put some other topic in that is guaranteed to derail the thread (because it clearly did so last time). If you feel you must talk about it, just put it in a separate post.

    This statement, of course, only reflects what *I* would do, and is in no way intended to tell her how to run her blog.

  52. 52
    Tom Foss

    Hall’s explanation reads like an excuse I’d hear from a high schooler: “No, no, it means a bundle of sticks!” “I was just saying he’s happy!” It’s weak, and when I see it, it usually suggests three things:
    1. They don’t regret what they said
    2. They think that it’s possible to find a loophole in the rules that absolves them of being in any trouble
    3. They think you’re an idiot.

    I had really tried to separate Harriet Hall the SkepDoc from Harriet Hall the Passive Aggressive TAM Attendee in my mind, so I could preserve a modicum of respect for her, but this incident killed that. Anyone who treats their audience with such casual contempt is not someone I have any desire to continue reading.

  53. 53
    rebeccawatson

    I’m very late to this conversation but I wanted to chip in to point out that Sara Mayhew at #8 is, as per usual, lying or mistaken. For several years prior to Amy raising money, I single-handedly produced Skepchick calendars, the sales of which all went exclusively to sending women to TAM.

  54. 54
    rebeccawatson

    Ah yes and thanks EdithKeeler for reminding me of Skepchick’s contributions to the JREF forum’s scholarship fund as well. Those were primarily run by Maria Walters.

    Remembering that made me get that surge of pride I feel in all the Skepchick contributors. They’re such a fantastic group of people who work well together to make the world a better place.

  55. 55
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Rebecca – I just wanted to say that the comment you left in Harriet’s “I’m Not the Enemy” post was a complete ice burn. It was interesting to see her fanclub chide you for being “childish” when they didn’t have a problem with Harriet wearing the same stank T-shirt three days in a row to make a passive-aggressive point.

  56. 56
    freemage

    Okay, so Harriet (claims she) thought that the entire matter was centered around the “I do not feel safe and welcome at TAM” comment, and had nothing to do with DJ’s blatant lies and insults towards Amy. So, she was starting from a false premise. As we know, false premises lead to paradoxical conclusions. No wonder she’s so completely far from reality by the time she gets to the end of that screed…

  57. 57
    Rieux

    It is, indeed, difficult to believe that a person as intelligent as Hall expects her readers to accept such transparently incredible post hoc rationalizations of her intent. Ugh.

    Can I offer an anecdote about gender-equity developments that, while entirely inadequate (indeed, it’s trivial) to overshadow the continuing avalanche of shit going on in the atheist community, is at least slightly cute?

    This past Monday, my spouse and I brought our seven-month-old son (who is wonderful and beautiful and the main reason I haven’t been posting much on the ’Net since he was born) to the nearby major zoo for the first time. It being Presidents’ Day, the place was massively overrun by children. In part because of that surplus and in part (I’d like to think) because of Societal Progress(TM), my trip to the men’s restroom for Rieux Jr.’s regular 1:30 P.M. diaper change took a while because… there was a line to use the changing table.

    As I said, trivial but (I hope) cute.

  58. 58
  59. 59
    Tom Foss

    Of course you know, Daisy, now that you’ve done that, it just proves that we’re all exactly as bad as the Pitters who Photoshop PZ & Ophelia & Stephanie onto people screwing and dictators and so forth.

  60. 60
    Ophelia Benson

    Rieux – it is. Adorable. Love to you & spouse & darling baby!

  61. 61
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Yes, Tom. I am the new Hitler. I need to get the Hugo Boss outfit out of the mothballs.

    (Have fun quoting that selectively, ‘pitters.)

  62. 62
    Ophelia Benson

    Rebecca – dang – sorry I understated your “help”…I was posting in a hurry because I had to rush off very soon, and I was vague on the details. I said “helped fund” as a placeholder pending details. Now you and others have reminded me of the details, and of how bottomlessly offensively ungrateful DJ was to single you out for blame the way he did. Weird that it’s even worse than I remembered.

    I’ll update the post.

    Will Sara Mayhew acknowledge that what she said was not true? Who’s a gambler?

  63. 63
    Nathaniel Frein

    I’m new to this movement, and I’ve had to educate myself on what Harriet Hall has accomplished.

    And I have to say I’m impressed with what she accomplished as a flight surgeon.

    Thing is, it reminds me of when I was in AFJROTC and we had our annual awards dinner. Our keynote speaker was a fighter pilot who wore glasses and had “no measurable depth perception”. He told a ripping tale about how he wanted to fly badly despite the whole “vision” thing. So he found a flight surgeon willing to work with him, and busted his butt to get waivered and prove that he could be as good as any other fighter pilot.

    And I applaud him. He worked hard. He accomplished his dreams despite the deck being stacked against him. But sitting there listening to him, with my coke-bottle glasses (which seven years ago I had lasered away), I realised that he hadn’t made things any easier for me. He hadn’t radically shifted doctrine on vision and flying. All the rules were the same. If I wanted to be in his position, I would have had to fight the same battle as him (probably worse, because my eyesight was worse). So in terms of shifting the environment for all glasses wearing kids who wanted to become pilots, he did nothing.

    Which is not to say he wasn’t a good man who worked hard and got what he wanted. Just as Harriet Hall wasn’t devoted and driven and a tough woman to get what she wanted from the Military.

    But it seems to me to earn the title “trail-blazer”, your trails have to stay blazed. Turning around and saying that “Sure, you can have what I had if you too work harder and longer than any man would have to do for the same things” doesn’t, to me, qualify as feminism.

    But maybe I’m missing something.

  64. 64
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Nathaniel Frein: I would still be comfortable with calling Harriet a trail-blazer… but qualifying it with “back in her heyday.”

  65. 65
    Pieter B, FCD

    @Ulysses, #47

    Another They Might Be Giants fan

    Ahem. Some of us remember it as a Top Ten hit by the Four Lads. Why yes, I’m an Old White Dude, why do you ask?

    I remember how shocked I was when I saw Dr Hall wearing that shirt my first evening in the Del Mar. I was briefly witness to a conversation that made it clear she had no problem with the interpretation of it being a slam at the Skepchicks. I was saddened, because over the years I’d come to regard her as a friend. No matter, as I’ve probably attended my last TAM.

    Hope to see many of you at WIS2.

  66. 66
    glodson

    @ Rieux

    Congratulations. One thing I will warn you about is this: sometimes the Men’s rooms are completely lacking in a changing station. I’ve experienced that numerous times. Luckily, my daughter was able to stand on her own, making it more inconvenient than a real problem.

    @ Improbable Joe message 27

    They seem to be the type to get you drunk, strip you naked, and shave your body hair off and say “hey buddy, just a joke! Like a frat initiation, and we rarely wind up with any dead people!”

    A knew a guy that joined a frat, and I believe he was hazed badly. He never spoke of it, refused to talk of it and was dedicated to his frat. Then I read that hazing has this effect on people, in which they buy into the group harder as a means to justify why they went through the hazing in the first place.

    I write this because I was speculating that we might see the same dynamic at work with some people. Maybe not Hall in particular. But maybe it is. By dealing with a level of harassment, they see the harassment as an initiation, and since they stuck it out, they add value to the group. Rather than dealing with the harassment, they see it is a trail and makes the group worth joining.

    But this is speculation. Sorry, it was an opinion, I figured I would see if anyone thought it had any sort of merit, or if I’m just being stupid. Which is always a strong possibility.

  67. 67
    glodson

    Will Sara Mayhew acknowledge that what she said was not true? Who’s a gambler?

    What are the odds? There’s no way I’m taking this bet straight up.

  68. 68
    Rieux

    glodson:

    One thing I will warn you about is this: sometimes the Men’s rooms are completely lacking in a changing station.

    Oh, I know. But that wasn’t the case here. Ergo Societal Progress(TM)!

  69. 69
    jenniferphillips

    Rieux, congrats on your baby girl! I have missed seeing your comments around the blogz and I’m glad to know the happy reason you’ve been absent.

    The extent to which Dr. Hall has ‘dug in’ to her position is vexing, but not all that surprising to me. I’ve seen her go back & forth with contrarian commenters on SBM over the years, and the tone of her responses to being challenged on data or the interpretation thereof often comes across to me as flustered and stubborn. Her writing style is terse to a fault, and while I appreciate brevity, some complex things need more words to express, lest your meaning be misunderstood. I’ve seen this happen to her a lot and it seems to really irritate the crap out of her that people just can’t get what she really meant–even when it’s clear that point in question was poorly expressed. She’s much more likely to go into defense mode than to objectively examine the source of the misunderstanding and her potential contribution to it. I quit reading her posts some time ago because of this tendency to overgeneralize and then get pissy when people called her out for lack of clarity.

    This could certainly be an innate personality trait, but I’m sure the dual-authoritarian trajectory of her career has also contributed. Military culture suppresses annoying questions from underlings, and the opinions of physicians are seldom challenged by anyone beyond other physicians. Even then, professional courtesy often prevails over frank challenges. Taken together, you have a recipe for someone who’s unaccustomed to being questioned, especially without deference to her rank or position, and who reacts badly when it happens.

    So, I’m less inclined to say she’s “lying”; rather, I think she’s very stubbornly sticking to her story out of loyalty to JREF/TAM/? and an extreme distaste for being challenged. I think it’s more complicated than lying, in other words, but I suppose it amounts to the same thing, because what she’s saying is a very long way from the objective truth.

  70. 70
    jenniferphillips

    oops–I mean boy! Baby boy. It’s a boy. Rieux has a boy. Hooray for boys!

  71. 71
    Anthony K

    That’s it? That’s her excuse?

    “I had extra room on my T-shirt, so I thought I’d toss in a completely unrelated dig at a different group of ‘skepchicks’ on the back. But, of course, instead of naturally assuming that the skepchicks to whom I was referring to had nothing to do with the Rebecca Watson skepchicks alluded to on the front of my T-shirt, all of my detractors were hell bent on seeing my confusing T-shirt which referenced two completely distinct groups of people separated by at least a decade who go by the term ‘skepchick’ in the worst possible light. And respect my authoritah!”

    Anyone looking for a respite from the authority-based lies of religion? Come join organised skepticism, and worship at the altar of the new priest class (same as the old one). Shut up, that’s why.

  72. 72
    glodson

    @Rieux

    Gah. Yea. And here I was trying to be helpful. My bad.

  73. 73
    Anthony K

    Also, congrats, Rieux!

    (In my above, “which referenced two completely distinct groups of people separated by at least a decade who go by the term ‘skepchick’” should be read as an adjective clause within “seeing my confusing T-shirt…in the worst possible light”. Where’s PZ’s editor?)

  74. 74
    doubtthat

    Well, on the one hand, it’s a total bullshit excuse, but on the other, the fact that she had to concoct bullshit means she must be somewhat aware of the degree to which it was less than ideal behavior. Stand by your convictions.

    It is amusing how pathetic these explanations are (Shermer and Hall of late). We’re verging on debating the meaning of “is.”

  75. 75
    Eristae

    If I say I prefer to cook my chicken by stir-frying, that doesn’t mean I think you are wrong to roast yours, and I’m certainly not trying to tell you that you should switch to stir-frying.

    Oh the ever loving fuck . . .

    This is absurd. Let’s pretend that there was a group of chicken roasters who had, for many years, been working very hard to raise money for scholarships so that people could attend a cooking conference. And then suddenly people start ranting on the chicken roasters, going on about how terrible they are, harassing them, calling them names, insisting that the cooking conference should be made uncomfortable for them with the specific intention of keeping them away, making comments about how they are or are not sexy enough to warrant being raped (?!), etc etc etc.

    Would it then be okay for a stir fry preferring person to wear a t-shirt saying “Not a Chicken Roaster”? No, it damned will would not be. It would be endorsing the bad treatment that people had been meting out to the chicken roasters.

    I don’t like roasted chicken (for real!) and far prefer stir fried anything to roasted chicken. But if the shit I just described above happened? I would wear a t-shirt proclaiming my support for the chicken roasters, not dissing on them, even though I don’t like roasted chicken. The fact that I prefer stir fry to roasting is not relevant when it comes to people being treated poorly.

    So her analogy is nonsensical.

  76. 76
    Rieux

    oops–I mean boy! Baby boy. It’s a boy. Rieux has a boy. Hooray for boys!

    Was it ’cause I called him “beautiful”? (Which he is—freakin’ gorgeous, I tell you.)

    Even if so, I have made an (I think considerably more embarrassing) mistake of that genus on this very blog, in comments 87, 89, and 99 of this thread. Ack; what a disaster that was.

    Thanks for the kind words, everyone.

  77. 77
    jenniferphillips

    Rieux @75–certainly not! My own boy is a beautiful as they come, and I tell him so as often as he’ll tolerate it :)

    I think I read glodson’s comment about baby daughters and changing table availability as I scanned all the subsequent conversations and got muddled about the sex of your new arrival on the way to the comment box. Should have confirmed before submitting.

  78. 78
    carovee

    I’ve just caught up with many of the posts back and forth with Dr. Hall. I sort of wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt until I got to this part

    “The most charitable interpretation is that she was simply making a personal statement based on her own experiences and feelings, not speaking for women as a whole, and that she didn’t intend to damage the reputation of TAM or influence others not to attend.”

    That’s straight up BS and condescending to boot. Rebecca was crystal clear that she was speaking for herself and that she was not telling other women what to do and in fact pointed out several times that Skepchick was STILL raising funds to send women to TAM. And Hall’s insistence that somehow despite the HUGE controversy that embroiled TAM and Skepchick right before the event took place, people looking at her T-shirt were not supposed to connect the word “skepchick” with the Skepchicks? Also BS. She has lost credibility with me.

  79. 79
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Rieux!!! How I’ve missed you in our electronic haunts. I hope parenthood is great for you and your wife. Come back when you can!

  80. 80
    Stephanie Zvan

    It is amusing how pathetic these explanations are (Shermer and Hall of late). We’re verging on debating the meaning of “is.”

    doubtthat, don’t forget Radford telling me that I’m “desperate” if I suggest that a charitable reading does, in fact, include murder among the violations a person may experience.

  81. 81
    rnilsson

    As so often, I find Tom Lehrer has already said it best — 50 years ago:

    “And the persons in these books, and plays — and in real life, I might add — spend hours and hours bemoaning the fact that they can’t communicate. Well, I find that if a person can’t communicate, the very least you can ask is that they SHUT UP!”

    But first maybe a “sincere” “apology” from “Dr” “Hall” is called for. Although I shan’t be holding my breath. IMHO she needs to consult with a colleague.

    Meanwhile, a token chip-in for the bet against “Sara” and her socks showing up to take a serious stand as opposed to drive-by dropping guano comments. Shocked, shocked as I am to learn of any gambling going on, I shall obviously not collect any winnings.

  82. 82
    doubtthat

    @80 Stephanie Zvan

    I think my natural self-preservation instincts took over and my brain tried to wash that interaction from it’s memory.

    I can’t decide which defense of Radford’s was worse:

    1) Murder, elder abuse, and psychological abuse aren’t “violations,” or
    2) It’s a poem…which evidently means it can’t be criticized.

    I’ve learned that so long as your arguments are expressed in the form of verse or tee-shirt, they are forever immune from challenge.

  83. 83
    Deepak Shetty

    It is, indeed, difficult to believe that a person as intelligent as Hall expects her readers to accept such transparently incredible post hoc rationalizations of her intent. Ugh.
    No it isnt. Most of the commenters on her blog do accept it.

  84. 84
    jenniferphillips

    Most of the commenters on her blog say that’s what they thought she meant all along. They don’t even need rationalizations.

  85. 85
    Wowbagger, Designated Snarker

    doubtthat wrote:

    I’ve learned that so long as your arguments are expressed in the form of verse or tee-shirt, they are forever immune from challenge.

    These people use plenty of other arguments favoured by Christians when attacking atheists; I don’t see why they should do without the defences they use to justify their bibles.

  86. 86
    Rieux

    @83 and 84:
    And that speaks less-than-well of said commenters’ intelligence level—or, more likely, their level of intellectual honesty insofar as this conflict is concerned.

  87. 87
    Cyranothe2nd, there's no such thing as a moderate ally

    Hmmm, what’s more likely:

    “I feel safe at TAM” as a reply to a Skepchick’s comment and oh, btw, I have a completely unrelated thing to say about a 1990s group on a lone messageboard called skepchicks

    OR

    “I feel safe at TAM” because “I’m not a skepchick” both referring to a comment verbatim made by a Skepchick.

    *strokes beard*

  88. 88
    kosk11348

    glodson wrote:

    By dealing with a level of harassment, they see the harassment as an initiation, and since they stuck it out, they add value to the group. Rather than dealing with the harassment, they see it is a trail and makes the group worth joining.

    Yes, I think this very insightful. A lot of people really do seem to see abuse as something you ignore/get over/suck up. Only weak people whine about it or make a big deal out of it. In fact, the entire point of the abuse is to weed out the weak and emotionally fragile.

  89. 89
    leebrimmicombe-wood

    I remember how shocked I was when I saw Dr Hall wearing that shirt my first evening in the Del Mar. I was briefly witness to a conversation that made it clear she had no problem with the interpretation of it being a slam at the Skepchicks. I was saddened, because over the years I’d come to regard her as a friend.

    This is sad, that there seems to be a disconnect between what Harriet says publicly and what she says in private. I know we are straying into ‘he said she said’ territory, but it’s enough of a piece that I will believe Pieter B over Ms. Hall. She’s just being mendacious now.

  90. 90
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    Something I just thought of… isn’t this sort of thing an odd kinds of filtering device? By being a completely dishonest cretin, Hall is filtering out many of the honest, decent people who would tend to be mildly critical when she’s mildly wrong, and proportionately critical on up while never being particularly impressed with her repeating that homeopathy is still nonsense. In exchange for those readers, she gets a bunch of similarly dishonest cretins, who will never criticize her and will shower her with praise for nothing more than being rude to the approved targets.

    I guess that’s attractive to some people? Libertarian narcissists mostly, or “skeptics” by any other name.

  91. 91
    Ophelia Benson

    Yes, I think so. But…I don’t know, I suppose there’s another filter, that works to obscure the nature of the fans she’s acquiring. And she and her fans of course would (and do) say the same of us.

  92. 92
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    Sure Ophelia, they may very well say the same thing about it. It is about as true as when Pat Robertson says that atheists are bullying Christians, or when Rush Limbaugh claims that Obama is racist against white people… and if that’s the company they want to keep, that says everything I need to know about them.

  93. 93
    saramayhew

    My new fundraiser, Rising Star grant for TAM2013, collects donations and then I will donate it to the JREF, to get registration for winning applicants.

    As far as I can tell, the original Skepchick calendar had Skepchick raising money to send Skepchicks to TAM. That strikes me as more of a Skepchick fundraiser for Skepchick, rather than one for TAM, like Amy’s. Otherwise, I can only find mentions of raising money for Skepticon.

    But either way, just because people like Amy do good work to bring women to TAM doesn’t mean there are other criticisms to be made about how the Skepchicks conversed about the topic of harassment and women’s safety at TAM. The criticism from DJ wasn’t that women being harassed should not talk about it, but that gossip and extreme untruths were being spread; to the point where women were hearing that the JREF supported violence against women and human trafficking. Hall’s shirt was a response to the mischaracterisation of TAM as a place you’re likely to be raped, and should travel around in a buddy system because it’s so dangerous.

    Amy herself was the one I first heard gossip from, when I first met her at a SitP. She relayed the rumour of a prominent skeptic who sleeps around at cons and leaves copies if his book behind. My first speaking invite to TAM, several Skepchicks “warned” me of certain males who “prey” on young women.

    One young woman accused a man of taking up skirt photos, which Watson relayed without skepticism. But it turned out it was someone using a monopod to take photos of himself with others, so he needn’t ask others to hold his camera. But the story most people left with was that women must fear creeps taking up skirt shots at TAM.

    Now, I get messages from women who say they are scared to go to TAM for fear of being bullied by other women—either by Skepchicks who were there, or now that they aren’t attending, being shunned for “supporting” TAM by attending, and being labelled a gender-traitor, sister-punisher, chill girl.

    Skepchicks and friends don’t realise the harm they’re causing to skepticism by vilifying others, and refusing to entertain the idea that there are legitimate criticisms to me made of their impact on skepticism. They make no distinction between online haters and legit critics. All are blocked and vilified as “the others” “not on our side”.

  94. 94
    Bjarte Foshaug

    I’ve just caught up with many of the posts back and forth with Dr. Hall. I sort of wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt until I got to this part

    “The most charitable interpretation is that she was simply making a personal statement based on her own experiences and feelings, not speaking for women as a whole, and that she didn’t intend to damage the reputation of TAM or influence others not to attend.”

    That’s straight up BS and condescending to boot. Rebecca was crystal clear that she was speaking for herself and that she was not telling other women what to do and in fact pointed out several times that Skepchick was STILL raising funds to send women to TAM.

    I would go further and say that even if Rebecca had adviced other women to stay away from TAM, she would be perfectly justified in doing so after the way she had been treated, and any damage to the reputation of TAM would not be her fault. DJ Grothe and the JREF have done more to damage their own reputation than Rebecca ever could. I sure as hell wouldn’t touch anything the JREF does for the rest of eternity with a ten foot pole, and I hope the next TAM is a flop.

  95. 95
    Ophelia Benson

    Sara, what you say @ 93 is not consistent with what you say @ 8 -

    Amy Roth raised money to send women to TAM. Though Amy is a Skepchick, Rebecca has never raised funds herself for TAM. It was Amy’s hard work.

    Your first step should be to admit your error @ 8, and even – dare I say it? – apologize for it.

    Also: I saw your stupid tweet about the fact that your comment was in moderation. I saw it because someone I don’t know RTd it. Yes, your comment was in moderation – because your first ever comment here made an accusation which turned out to be incorrect. I put you in moderation because I don’t trust you. I want to see your comments before they appear. I’m allowed to do that. It’s none of your business how I run my blog. You don’t have a long history of reliable honest commenting here, so it’s stupid and spiteful for you to make an issue of it on Twitter. I don’t know you. I’m not particularly interested in you. You could just refrain from opening another front in your war on whatever it is you’re fighting with.

  96. 96
    Ophelia Benson

    Also, I have it on good authority that Skepchick calendars never sent a single Skepchick contributor to TAM.

  97. 97
    EllenBeth Wachs

    As far as I can tell, the original Skepchick calendar had Skepchick raising money to send Skepchicks to TAM. That strikes me as more of a Skepchick fundraiser for Skepchick, rather than one for TAM, like Amy’s

    It may strike you that way Sara, but that just means you are wrong. If the calender raised money to send Skepchiks i.e. people to TAM, then JREF got the money from the calenders not Skepchik. Period.

  98. 98
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Why bother correcting anything? There are no consequences to lying, apparently. None. The best you can hope for is for the fibber to simply fail to respond.

  99. 99
    Ophelia Benson

    Yes but I want to correct it for the record here, Josh. But as for Sara? Yes. All I want Sara to do is get out of my face. She made a big point of getting in my face at Eschaton, at the last minute, when I had almost managed to avoid her for the whole thing. Now she’s doing it again. I don’t know her; I’m not interested in her; I want her to stop hassling me.

  100. 100
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    I know, Ophelia. I was just talking out loud—I didn’t mean to sound prescriptive.

  101. 101
    Ophelia Benson

    CBS cares, Josh.

    :D

  102. 102
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    And that makes me feel good about my family, Ophelia.

  103. 103
    Ophelia Benson

    The dairy farmers of America are not here just to sell you milk and milk products, Josh.

  104. 104
    Surly Amy

    “Amy herself was the one I first heard gossip from, when I first met her at a SitP.”

    Sara, for the love of all things beautiful please stop lying and trying to stir up trouble and please stop mentioning me on every blog you run across and on your twitter.

    My recollection of how we met: My husband and I invited you and then met you for sushi and bought you lunch and then did a photo shoot with you modeling my jewelry. I then gave you some jewelry and you let me play with your ipad because I had never held one before. Here are some of the photos from that day, note the date they were taken, May 12, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/surlyramics/sets/72157624097152198/ Afterwards, we dropped you off at your then boyfriend’s house. I then wrote some nice posts about you on Skepchick promoting you and your art. Here is one: http://skepchick.org/2010/08/skepticism-through-manga/ and here is another http://skepchick.org/2010/09/jedi-master-sagan-day/ After that, I invited you to be a contributor to Mad Art Lab when we started that blog up. You did one post there http://madartlab.com/2011/03/28/metacognitive-manga-zombies/ and then never contributed again, so I emailed you and told you I was removing you from the blog as the requirement was to post once every two weeks. Neither of us expressed any hard feelings. You were welcomed with open arms to return and given every opportunity to participate, including participation in the Skepchick network itself. You chose not to. If you are going to claim that I “gossiped” at a pub and warned you of certain people in an attempt to scare you or other women away from skepticism or TAM, or damage people’s reputation then back that shit up with some evidence. The evidence I see, is I was welcoming to you and did my best to be inclusive and supportive of you and your art and even introduced you to my friends and family who are involved in organized skepticism to help get you involved. I see no evidence of that being reciprocated. If you had decided I was some sort of a threat who was spreading misinformation or trying to frighten people off when you met me then why did you continue to spend time with me both online and off? And that’s a rhetorical question. I don’t really care about the answer anymore because, I, just like Ophelia would prefer if you would just leave me alone and would stop mentioning me negatively on every blog in town while simultaneously taking rude swipes at me and my peers on your twitter. It’s ridiculous. It’s unnecessary. It’s rude.

    To the best of my knowledge the Skepchick calendars never once sent any past or current blog contributors to TAM. I did not become an official Skepchick until the last year of the calendars so I can not speak authoritatively of years prior. I along with my husband helped sell the calendars at TAM 7 and I was in charge of the money made there that was donated to the JREF. Again, if you have ANY EVIDENCE to back up your claim that we or Skepchick as an org did not donate our money either to the forum grants or directly to the JREF the by ALL MEANS tell us all. I was also involved in the raffle of the Skepchicks for lunch for two consecutive years. The money raised to “Have lunch with the Skepchicks” was donated to the JREF forum grants. It was fun. Lunch was good. I was happy to be involved. Yes, Rebecca raised money for TAM long before I was involved. She was my inspiration to do the grants in the first place so that we could continue the tradition.

    You say we are creating “sides” and make “no distinction between online haters and legit critics. All are blocked and vilified as “the others” “not on our side.” All I have to say is CITATION NEEDED. I have YOU blocked because you make fun of me and spread misinformation just like you are doing here. I have people who call me names or make fun of me blocked because why should I have to read that nonsense? My time is my own. I actually feel pushed out of skepticism because I am constantly harassed by anonymous accounts and MRA supporters and people like you. You encourage this harassment by spreading lies and making fun of me and other prominent women who are harassed for speaking out about feminism and wait for it… yep, for discussing harassment. I made one slightly negative and snarky comment to you on twitter that I deleted. I made fun of you self referential instagrams that you were taking. It was immature, yes. I regretted it. But I was frustrated because you wrote a post 4 months after TAM about how “You are not a Skepchick” ironic, since you were part of the network at one time, and in my eyes hurtful since that T-shirt, regardless of intent, was used to mock and harass me. Something I obviously wanted to move past but you brought it back into the news cycle. I realized my snarky comment was totally unnecessary and so I deleted it. YOU one the other hand screen capped it, blogged about it and went so far as to promote a hashtag calling me a bully. AND you still bring it up and link to it. Please, let it go Sara. Leave me out of your diatribes and PLEASE stop spreading lies about us. Admit your mistakes and move on.

  105. 105
    Ophelia Benson

    That’s the Amy and Johnny I met in Los Angeles in November. They took me and Alice and Stacy out to dinner because they are super nice generous funny giving people! You can take that to the bank, as the saying goes.

  106. 106
    EllenBeth Wachs

    Okay then. I think that settles that! From here on out, I will just link to Amy’s post in response to Sara.

  107. 107
    Anthony K

    That’s the Amy and Johnny I met in Los Angeles in November. They took me and Alice and Stacy out to dinner because they are super nice generous funny giving people! You can take that to the bank, as the saying goes.

    That’s the Amy and Johnny I met, too.

  108. 108
    Hershele Ostropoler

    Nathaniel Frein @ 63:

    I’m new to this movement, and I’ve had to educate myself on what Harriet Hall has accomplished.

    Which is what, exactly? She was a flight surgeon, not a woman flight surgeon. What’s the big deal about her?

    She can’t claim the mantle of a trailblazer and then turn around and complain that the thing that’s trailblazing about what she did is Balkanization.

  109. 109
    Jackie

    Hershele, that is a very good point.

  110. 110
    Tom Foss

    I think this is my new favorite thing:

    One young woman accused a man of taking up skirt photos, which Watson relayed without skepticism. But it turned out it was someone using a monopod to take photos of himself with others, so he needn’t ask others to hold his camera. But the story most people left with was that women must fear creeps taking up skirt shots at TAM.

    Did you all know that a monopod has only one possible use? That it’s totally normal for a person to walk around with an expensive camera on a monopod telescoped all the way down so it hangs by their feet? That they wouldn’t compress the monopod when it’s not in use? And it’s certainly unskeptical for people to suggest that a guy’s past history of being a giant creep with boundary and bigotry issues (1, 2, 3) and apparent frequenting of upskirt forums, combined with his conspicuous use of a monopod, could possibly indicate the taking of upskit shots or the insensitivity involved in being reported for apparently taking upskirt shots and not changing his behavior.

    And now women are afraid to go to TAM because the Skepchick-friendly folks might bully them. How, exactly? Would we make t-shirts and jewelry to mock them? Perhaps start up Twitter accounts pretending to be them? Maybe we’d make crude bitmap drawings of them in sexual positions or send them rape and death threats or call them by various slurs via e-mail and comments. We sure are a scary bunch that way.

  111. 111
    Stacy

    The criticism from DJ wasn’t that women being harassed should not talk about it, but that gossip and extreme untruths were being spread; to the point where women were hearing that the JREF supported violence against women and human trafficking.

    Crispy Christ on a Cracker. More lies and bullshit. The accusation that “extreme untruths were being spread” is itself gossip, Sara, and what’s worse it’s inaccurate, self-serving gossip. I never heard a single “extreme untruth.” Nobody ever, ever claimed that “JREF supported violence against women and human trafficking.” Yes, people noted that one prominent TAM speaker disingenuously supported a millionaire friend of his who’d pled guilty to flying under age girls in to the country for sex. They criticized HIM. Nobody blamed JREF for his uncritical support of his pal or for his friend’s skeeviness. I remember people discussing the pros and cons of making a subdued protest by walking out on that particular speaker’s talk, but nothing came of it, precisely because nobody wanted to hurt TAM.

    One young woman accused a man of taking up skirt photos, which Watson relayed without skepticism.

    Two young women. And what Rebecca, and others, relayed was that DJ lied when he claimed that there had been no sexual harassment claims made that year at TAM.

    But it turned out it was someone using a monopod to take photos of himself with others, so he needn’t ask others to hold his camera.

    It “turned out” that we don’t know what happened, because nobody ever saw the pictures, Sara. At least two people felt uncomfortable around the guy and expressed concern. Later, DJ denied anybody had made any complaints of sexual harassment at TAM9. (That incident was just one of several that came to light.)

    Get your damn facts straight. And for fuck’s sake, stop whining about a couple of deleted tweets from two years ago. Especially on the blog of a woman who faces daily serious harassment from allies of yours.

  112. 112
    Stacy

    @Hershele Ostropoler #108

    I’m new to this movement, and I’ve had to educate myself on what Harriet Hall has accomplished.

    Which is what, exactly? She was a flight surgeon, not a woman flight surgeon. What’s the big deal about her?

    She can’t claim the mantle of a trailblazer and then turn around and complain that the thing that’s trailblazing about what she did is Balkanization.

    QFFT.

  113. 113
    kellym

    Most of Sara E. Mayhew’s other lies have been debunked by now, but here are TWO in a single sentence that stood out for me:

    Hall’s shirt was a response to the mischaracterisation of TAM as a place you’re likely to be raped, and should travel around in a buddy system because it’s so dangerous.

    First, Rebecca Watson has never said or implied that TAM was a place where you are likely to be raped. So Dr. Hall’s t-shirt couldn’t have been in response to that allegation. Because Rebecca Watson never fucking said it. As stated previously, Rebecca helped sponsor 22 women to attend TAM 2012. If she feared for their safety, she would not have done that.
    Second, the “should travel around in a buddy system” seems to be an allusion to this incident as described by Rebecca:

    In the weeks leading up to TAM [2011], a man tweeted that he was attending and that if he ran into me in an elevator, he’d assault me…The organizers…allowed the man to attend the conference and did nothing to reassure me. I attended anyway and never went anywhere alone.

    Sara, given that Rebecca had received a personal threat of physical assault, and the fact that the JREF did not take the threat seriously, if she hadn’t taken precautions, she would have been an idiot.
    Last, Sara, may I say how personally unpleasant you seem when you repaid Amy and her family’s kindness to you with constant lies and childish insults that you have continued for more than a year.
    Sara, you have worked hard to establish your reputation as a liar and a bully. None of your targets have hurt your reputation. Only you have.

  114. 114
    Raging Bee

    I didn’t want to talk about the T-shirt…

    Then she shouldn’t have worn it. DUH.

    If past experience is any guide, they will misinterpret my explanation and put it in the worst possible light, which is why I haven’t offered it before.

    Yeah, she knows she’s right, she knows exactly WHY she’s right, and she has a definitive explanation that will put all objections to rest…but she won’t offer that explanation ’cause she just knows us meanies will misinterpret it, and everybody hates her, so why bother? Gee, where have I heard that crybaby dodge before? Oh yeah, every ignorant crank who suddenly realizes his audience aren’t buying his schtick.

    The word skepchick predates the Skepchick organization…

    Ah yes, the patronizing lecture on the oh-so-complex history of a word, which makes her use of it “right” in special ways the rest of us are too simpleminded to understand.

    I have explained that my stance is a matter of personal preference and does not imply any disrespect for those whose preferences are different.

    Right…you go out of your way to wear a T-shirt saying “I am not [X]” in a large gathering of people who identify as [X], and you don’t think anyone in the [X] category will think that’s disrespectful? Puh. Lease. This person is, AT BEST, really really incompetent at the ordinary adult task of opening your mouth without instantly putting your foot in it.

    So yeah, this is all bullshit from beginning to end. Is Hall getting dementia or something?

  115. 115
    SallyStrange

    Raging Bee, did you catch the multiple posts where Hall retracted her statements and apologized for hurting Amy?

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