A critical point for many people

This is great. It starts with a powerful, inspirational talk by Dawkins in 2006, that changed a lot of minds about religion and related subjects.

That speech was a critical point for a great many people, spurring them to read TGD and other atheist books, to reevaluate their beliefs and to ask questions they’d not asked before – to seek answers they mightn’t have even known were possible to find. Perspectives were changed, as was the social landscape of the internet, not to mention many “real” communities: homes, towns, perhaps countries.

Now, the blogger says, Dawkins needs that kind of experience himself. [Read more...]

That critical posture that is to some degree instrinsically male

Well I’ve thought of Sam Harris as both sexist and smug right from the beginning, i.e. when The End of Faith came out. But one can think of people that way and still be startled when they demonstrate it with underlining and italics and asterisks and ALL CAPS.

Michelle Boorstein interviewed him for a CFI-DC event the other day. At the end she asks him a question we’re well familiar with.

I also asked Harris at the event why the vast majority of atheists — and many of those who buy his books — are male, a topic which has prompted some to raise questions of sexism in the atheist community. Harris’ answer was both silly and then provocative.

It can only be attributed to my “overwhelming lack of sex appeal,” he said to huge laughter.

If only he’d left it at that.

“I think it may have to do with my person slant as an author, being very critical of bad ideas. This can sound very angry to people..People just don’t like to have their ideas criticized. There’s something about that critical posture that is to some degree instrinsically male and more attractive to guys than to women,” he said. “The atheist variable just has this – it doesn’t obviously have this nurturing, coherence-building extra estrogen vibe that you would want by default if you wanted to attract as many women as men.”

In other words, it’s more of a guy thing.

By which I mean –

No. And fuck you. You know what that amounts to saying? It amounts to saying what Michael Shermer did say – that “it’s who wants to stand up and talk about it, go on shows about it, go to conferences and speak about it, who’s intellectually active about it, you know, it’s more of a guy thing.” It’s saying that women can’t do sophisticated thinking of any kind, because they’re too estrogen-y and nurturing. If taking a critical posture and being very critical of bad ideas is “instrinsically male and more attractive to guys than to women” then women are fucked; we’re consigned to domestic work and nurturing work and nothing else.

As I said about Shermer’s version – imagine saying that with “guys” replaced with “whites” and “women” replaced with “blacks” – imagine Sam Harris blurting out that stupid shit then.

I think it may have to do with my person slant as an author, being very critical of bad ideas. This can sound very angry to people..People just don’t like to have their ideas criticized. There’s something about that critical posture that is to some degree instrinsically white and more attractive to whites than to blacks,” he said. “The atheist variable just has this – it doesn’t obviously have this nurturing, coherence-building extra estrogen vibe that you would want by default if you wanted to attract as many blacks as whites.

Doesn’t sound good, does it. Sounds so bad that it seems pretty obvious he would censor it before it got anywhere near his mouth. But to say it about women? Oh that’s just fine. Women are soppy slushy sentimental fools who can’t stand to be critical of bad ideas, and guys are the clever rational critical people who do the intellectual heavy lifting.

*spits*

Annals of dismissive contempt

Oh, god, here we go. Again.

Richard Dawkins subtweets about the Oppenheimer article:

“Officer, it’s not my fault I was drunk driving. You see, somebody got me drunk.”

Let’s see, now, what was published a few hours before that tweet? Oh yes…Mark Oppenheimer’s article.

…one of the biggest draws [at TAM] was Michael Shermer, a swaggering historian of science who, after an earlier career as an ultra-long-distance bicyclist, founded Skeptic magazine. [Read more...]

Hardly an exception

This has now been published. Mark Oppenheimer asks Will misogyny bring down the atheist movement?

Yet Shermer remains a leader in freethought — arguably the leader. And in his attitudes, he is hardly an exception. Hitchens, the best-selling author of God Is Not Great, who died in 2011, wrote a notorious Vanity Fair article called “Why Women Aren’t Funny.” Richard Dawkins, another author whose books have brought atheism to the masses, has alienated many women — and men — by belittling accusations of sexism in the movement; he seems to go out of his way to antagonize feminists generally, and just this past July 29 hetweeted, “Date rape is bad. Stranger rape at knifepoint is worse. If you think that’s an endorsement of date rape, go away and learn how to think.” And Penn Jillette, the talking half of the Penn and Teller duo, famously revels in using words like “cunt.”

That’s just one small part.

 

 

D’Souza and his background

Ken at Popehat finds my and others’ reaction to Michael Shermer’s letter requesting lenient sentencing for Dinesh D’Souza depressing.

D’Souza’s attorneys are asking the court to exercise its discretion to go below the Guidelines and impose a non-custodial sentence — not to send him to jail, in other words. That’s not even a little surprising. I would do the same thing. So would any competent defense attorney. Given D’Souza’s lack of record and his background, it’s a reasonable and achievable goal. It’s no sure thing, but many judges would do it. (If anything D’Souza’s privileges work against him on this issue — the “rich and famous people shouldn’t get special treatment” narrative will be powerful. With some judges he’d have a better shot at the break if he were an obscure middle manager.)

[Read more...]

Ambiguity absent

PZ had a slightly different take (from Michael Shermer’s) on being invited to debate with Dinesh D’Souza.

It’s short and to the point.

Strangely, I just got two requests for participation in discussions: one from an Intelligent Design creationist apologist, Jason Rennie, and another to join in a debate this weekend from Dinesh D’Souza. I just thought I’d test whether these guys actually pay attention to what I write by putting the answer here.

NO.

A what blogger?

What exactly is a “rage blogger”? I see the epithet thrown around a lot, but it’s almost always by people who are raging about the putative “rage bloggers,” so I can never get a good handle on exactly what they mean by the label.

PZ has the same problem with some “rage blogger” accusations by Barbara Drescher, a former employee of the James Randi Foundation.

What’s it all about, with this passive-aggressive veiled insinuation that someone is ‘lining their pockets’ and ‘puffing up their egos’? It turns out that she’s a bit peevish because Phil Plait wrote a nice post praising Amy Roth’s activism, specifically her art installation, “A Woman’s Room Online”, which illustrates the harassment women receive on the internet.

[Read more...]

For additional savings

Clever Walmart – it’s imposed a new “dress code” on its workers associates workers that the workers have to pay for themselves and guess where they can buy the clothes – why, right there at Walmart! How convenient, right?

They have until September 29 to purchase clothes that adhere to Walmart’s new dress code of white or blue collared shirts and khaki or black bottoms. Simone suggests employees shop for their new uniforms at, you guessed it, Walmart. She cheerfully reminds workers to apply their 10 percent associate discount “for additional savings.”

[Read more...]