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  1. lorn says

    He must hang out in different places than I do. Yes, I’ve read comments by a few self-proclaimed “atheists” who were misogynists and/or generally dicks but they certainly are not a large subset of the atheist/non-religious/science based community in my estimate.

    I always figured they were like the majority of self-proclaimed Libertarians who were actually conservatives seeking a label that would smear the bright-line edge of their radical views so they can avoid the worse of the social blow back and being pigeonholed so quickly they can’t get their licks in. Some people claiming to be skeptics/science based /atheists are just posturing authoritarians adopting a label so they are less easy to spot for what they really are. If you dig down through the facile logic and skepticism on the surface you find a core of completely illogical bias, hate and resentment.

    In some ways I think their urge to posture is, in some light, a good thing. They get to try on the the skeptical persona, knowing it has advantages, but they are unwilling to do the work necessary to maintain a coherent thought system because their hate of the “other”, whatever that other may be, gets in the way.

  2. John Morales says

    I don’t think Jamie Kilstein has much of a point; anyone who imagines being an atheist should be about tolerance or niceness is just fooling themselves and in denial of reality.

    He even admits it: “Just because you believe in the scientific method doesn’t mean you are not an asshole”.

    (It’s hardly a revelation)

    Wowbagger @1

    As usual, Jamie Kilstein is both accurate and hilarious.

    And uselessly trite.

    (You imagine any “asshole” is gonna change their demeanour by virtue of such ranting?)

  3. says

    @John Morales
    Who says the assholes are the target audience?

    I view this as being basically the same thing that we’re always asking the supposedly moderate believers to do: If you’re so moderate and reasonable, then speak out against those who aren’t reasonable. We should do that ourselves. The decent atheists need to speak out against the asshole atheists because doing so signals to everyone else that we’re not all assholes.

    In case you’ve missed it, atheists don’t have the best reputations. We’re often viewed as arrogant, intolerant jerks. This approach might be helpful in highlighting that it’s in fact a minority that are jerks and that this minority is not tolerated or accepted by the decent atheists.

    We’re never going to convince the assholes not to be assholes, just like we’re never going to convince the die-hard believer that they’re wrong. However, that doesn’t mean that there’s no reason to address them. Doing so is important for affecting the moderates; the swing votes, if you will.

  4. John Morales says

    LykeX,

    I view this as being basically the same thing that we’re always asking the supposedly moderate believers to do: If you’re so moderate and reasonable, then speak out against those who aren’t reasonable.

    But calling out hypocrisy is not what’s at issue; the issue is this stupid implication that since some atheists are assholes, that therefore becoming an atheist entails becoming an asshole.

    (Who claims becoming an atheist is supposed to make one less assholy? That’s the province of religion!)

    The decent atheists need to speak out against the asshole atheists because doing so signals to everyone else that we’re not all assholes.

    I happen to think I’m generally a pretty decent person, but I certainly don’t feel such a need. In particular, I think such protestations tacitly endorse the stupid conceit I just noted, and buys into that spurious frame.

    (Hey, Stalin was an atheist, and look at what an asshole he was!)

    Doing so is important for affecting the moderates; the swing votes, if you will.

    Bah. Either one’s beliefs are justifiable or not; whether or not they are satisfying is irrelevant.

    (Personally, I would far rather exist in a reality of immortal souls and magical creatures and answered prayers than the one within which I find myself)

  5. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Off topic sorry but think some may want to know :

    Edward Snowden will be interviewed on Aussie SBS TV’s Datelineprogram screening now.

    Link :

    http://www.sbs.com.au/dateline/story/about/id/601800/n/Snowden-Speaks

    Excerpt :

    “Edward Snowden believes that some US officials would like to see him shot dead or poisoned, but he says he can still sleep easily at night, because he did what he needed to do.

    The whistleblower’s thinking is revealed in his first full-length television interview, to be screened in an Australian exclusive on Tuesday’s Dateline.

    In a secret location in Moscow, he speaks candidly to Hubert Seipel from German broadcaster NDR about the far-reaching surveillance details he leaked, the treason charges he faces, and his life in exile in Russia.”

  6. says

    But calling out hypocrisy is not what’s at issue; the issue is this stupid implication that since some atheists are assholes, that therefore becoming an atheist entails becoming an asshole.

    And, to ask a tremendously leading question, how do we correct this faulty perception? By shutting up and leaving the floor to the assholes or by going out and proving it wrong?

    Who claims becoming an atheist is supposed to make one less assholy?

    I don’t know. I certainly didn’t.

    Doing so is important for affecting the moderates; the swing votes, if you will.

    Bah. Either one’s beliefs are justifiable or not; whether or not they are satisfying is irrelevant.

    I wasn’t talking about beliefs, justification or anything of the sort. I’m talking mainly about PR. It’s a fact that atheism has an image problem. Part of this is due to deliberate slander from the fanatics, but part of it is also due to a very vocal minority of atheist assholes. This has several effects:

    1) Moderate religious people may disregard atheists and as a result fail to listen to us on important issues, like keeping god out of the classroom. By allowing the image to fester, we’re leaving an opening for the extreme religious fringe to influence the moderate majority.
    If we change the image, we might gain some allies who, though religious, would be open to fighting for secular values.

    2) People who have the potential for rejecting religious beliefs will fail to do so because all the atheist sources of information are disregarded as bullshit coming from jerks. That leaves the theistic sources, which will probably not give the best arguments for atheism.
    By changing our image, we make ourselves more welcoming for those who are genuinely interested in examining their beliefs.

    3) People who are already atheists might decide not to join groups, participate in events or otherwise organize because they don’t want to associate with assholes. This reduces our political clout, isolates us into small pockets and generally makes it harder to get anything done.
    By making it clear that we’re not all assholes, we encourage community within atheism, with a resulting increase in power and motivation.

    For those reasons, I think it’s relevant to try to deliberately oppose the assholes and make it clear that they are indeed a minority; a small group of jerk who will not be tolerated by the larger culture of atheism (and let’s just pretend that I added the obvious caveats relating to whether such a unified culture exists, etc).

    Finally, while it’s technically true that a belief is either justified or not and emotions are irrelevant, fact is that, for practical purposes, emotions are very relevant indeed. If you’re a jerk, people will view what you say with extra skepticism. They might reject a conclusion that’s actually true, simply because you’re presenting it wrong.

    This isn’t one of humanity’s most admirable qualities, but it’s nevertheless a fact and since we tend to pride ourselves on recognizing reality and not believing things because they’re nice, we should also recognize that.
    Fact is that, in this reality, whether or not you’re right only matters after you’ve gotten people to really listen. They’re not going to do that if they’re convinced (rightly or wrongly) that you’re an asshole.

  7. Reggie Dunlap says

    With rare exceptions no one who you think is an asshole thinks they are an asshole. But when you call them an asshole they are convinced you are an asshole. The thing that almost all human beings are guilty of and in spades on the internet is that if person B disagrees with person A on any topic person A will assume that person B holds several other beliefs even though those beliefs aren’t evident. It results in lots of beautifully illogical but emotionally charged arguments such as: because republicans, because feminists, because patriarchy, because communists, etc. It is lots of fun to back someone into a corner when you disagree with them and shout them down and call them an asshole. It feels righteous and just. It also doesn’t accomplish anything. The tough thing to do is confront someone who disagrees with you and be charitable andsearch for a common bond and build a relationship where they may become receptive to new ideas and perspectives. Calling people assholes is easy and doesn’t win anyone over. When was the last time someone called you an asshole and they won you over?

  8. says

    Frankly what I mostly related Kilstein’s video to is the thinking in for example Lee Moore’s ridiculous complaint last week that the bloggers targeted by the DDOS were blaming “other atheists” and that it’s outrageous to blame “other atheists” for anything. He was wrong on the facts, but even if he hadn’t been, he still would have been wrong. It just happens that lots and lots of “other atheists” are everyday sadists who get their jollies harassing…oh gee guess what, “other atheists.”

    In other words Moore thinks it’s fine for atheists to harass other atheists, but not fine for atheists harassed by other atheists to blame them for the harassing.

    I take Kilstein to be saying a big No to that idea.

  9. Cynickal says

    I think we’re missing the point. No one has ever written John Morales a death threat, threatened to rape him, systematically denied him a voice, inappropriately groped him at a conference, refused to have people that look like him at conferences, or claimed thathis conc erns aren’t “important to this discussion”
    Therefore Kilstein is an asshole for pointing that out.

  10. John Morales says

    LykeX @8,

    I wasn’t talking about beliefs, justification or anything of the sort. I’m talking mainly about PR. It’s a fact that atheism has an image problem. Part of this is due to deliberate slander from the fanatics, but part of it is also due to a very vocal minority of atheist assholes.

    Fair enough; it’s clear to me that by atheism (in this context) you refer to movement atheism rather than to personal atheism.

    (But they are not the same thing)

    Cynickal @11, you are mistaken in your interpretation. I am rather sympathetic towards A+ aspiration, though less so about the attitude of some of its adherents.

    As for Jamie Kilstein, I think he misunderstands what gnu atheists are about:

    [@4:16] “Hey! New atheists! Guess who else wanted to eradicate Islam: George Bush!
    Guess who else hates women: the Taliban!
    Go hang out with them and leave poor dead Carl Sagan out of this!”

  11. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @11.Cynickal :

    I think we’re missing the point. No one has ever written John Morales a death threat, threatened to rape him, systematically denied him a voice, inappropriately groped him at a conference, refused to have people that look like him at conferences, or claimed thathis conc erns [sic] aren’t “important to this discussion.. ”

    How do you know that?

    I don’t think that’s necessarily true. It may be true – quite likely *is* true although a whole lot of people who comment on atheist or secular blogs have had death threats more or less serious e.g. the likes issued by M*bus / M*rk*ze or for being out atheists in a highly religious community.

    Therefore Kilstein is an asshole for pointing that out.

    I don’t think that’s what John Morales is actually saying.

    (Rereads John Morales comments on this thread.) ..Nope. Morales says he doesn’t think Kilstein has much of a point – that doesn’t equate to calling him an “asshole” or anything like that.

    Do you always have to read something extra or find personal insults in people simply stating they disagree with or don’t see the point of what person X said / vlogged / wrote, etc?

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