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Atheism…Plus What?

Picture of Dr. Carrier at the podium discussing Atheism Plus at the 2013 American Atheists conventionVideo of my talk at the 2013 American Atheists Convention (their 50th anniversary!) is now online. It is getting downvotes from the haters (even at one point more downs than ups). Please go watch that video (Atheism…Plus What?) and see if you can find anything in it that honestly deserves a downvote. Seriously. And if you don’t, please upvote it. Show the haters they don’t own the movement.

Others reading the comments (I can’t stomach such a task myself) tell me that the downvotes appear to be coming from people who didn’t even watch the video (or didn’t watch it all through). It appears, in fact, that these downvotes are there in an attempt to discourage people from watching the video, rather than representing disagreement with its actual content or quality or value. [You can now read a transcript and view the slideshow.]

Note that the Women in Atheism panel at AACon 2013 is also a must-view adjunct to this, since in it the women on the panel brilliantly answer some of the common questions that arose from my talk. Unfortunately that video is not yet online (I’m not sure if they are putting everything up or only select things). I will link it in here as soon as I find out it’s available. But one of the examples of what they addressed is the hyperskeptical claim that all the harassment of atheism women in our movement is done by hundreds of Christians posing as atheists, which actually should outrage you all the more if you really believed that (rather than using it as an excuse to do nothing about it). Greta Christina gave an excellent discourse on why that doubt is irrational (in short: we see the same phenomenon in every other movement, e.g. the gaming and tech industries, so we should not expect to be a miraculous exception), and other members of the panel added to that (such as pointing out that we have plenty of evidence a lot of them are atheists).

I also did a podcast last month on Atheism+ that went up just recently, in which I have a reasonable conversation with someone who disapproves of it, UK political scientist and Huffington Post blogger Tony Sobrado (listen to his Interview with Richard Carrier on Atheism Plus). No hating or flaming, and no straw men or other fallacies. He had concerns based on misunderstandings and missing or incorrect information, asked about them calmly, and gave me the opportunity to answer them. All without any atmosphere of hostility. A model for how to do this. [A convenient transcript of that interview is now available.]

That podcast was inspired by Sobrado’s Huffington Post article against Atheism+ “What Is Atheism Plus and Do We Need It?” and from listening to the ensuing podcast or reading its transcript you can see how we addressed everything in his article on that show. So anyone who may have read that and wondered how we might respond (or was angered by it and wished someone would answer it), this is the podcast for you. But the AACon video is a good introductory piece to start with. The two together tell you pretty much all you need in order to understand what we’re really advocating in the Atheism+ movement and why.

-:-

[Update: I have since also published an essay on this subject in Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism 21.1 [2013], pp. 105-13, which is available online as Atheism…Plus What? Then see here for all my blogging on the topic of Atheism Plus, before and since.]

Comments

  1. mcbender says

    Richard, I don’t have anything in particular to add but I just wanted to say that this talk was excellent and I am passing the link along to everyone of my acquaintance.

    • says

      Since the video summarizes Atheism Plus, and Atheism Plus is a bad idea, you should be able to point out what statement in the video is a bad idea. So, what statement in that video is a bad idea?

    • says

      Simple: Cite the time stamp of the idea you disagree with and state your reasons why you disagree with it.

      Otherwise, we’ll feel free to dismiss your “argument” — such as it is.

    • Thetar says

      “So, what statement in that video is a bad idea?” There are many of your pronouncements in your talk that are bad ideas. Thunderf00t nailed it. You have swallowed so much of your own nonsense that you appear blind to what the consensus is, ie A+ sucks. Your reputation, like PZ’s is damaged because of your continuing promotion of this dead horse.

    • says

      So you fail to identify a single statement in that video that’s a bad idea. But gosh, you’re really sure there must be some in there because TF00t said so and showed you a deceptively edited version of it as if that were evidence of the fact.

      So let’s try this again: what statement in that video is a bad idea? Don’t claim someone else said there were some. Actually answer the question.

    • Illusio says

      If you were speaking from your heart in that talk, nobody will see this post, because you sensor every opinion that doesn’t conform to your own. I can only hope you have reconsidered this anti-intellectual approach since then, but if you actually want to hear what’s wrong with your talk, feel free to read on.

      What statement in your video is a bad idea?

      Well Richard, first you spent a lot of time shamelessly lying about what people actually are objecting to with regards to your initial posts. Nobody believes you are so removed from reality that you think people are against general concepts like “compassion” or called you a fascist because they object to your enforcement of “compassion”. It’s because your entire article implied that people would be shunned if they did not buy into the broader ideology here, which could be summed up as “Patriarchy theory” in very broad terms. A kind of utterly delusional feminism that amounts to being an ideology based on an unfalsifiable theory. “The Patriarchy” really has no more meaning than “Whatever any given feminist doesn’t like”.

      But to be more specific about your talk, I’d say that about 50% of your talk would be summed up by the following criticism. The short of it is that you are adopting a losing strategy and are trying to walk over other people.

      There are several aspects to this. First, you are making an incredibly basic mistake with regards to how to be an effective special interest group – trying to broaden the scope of the group. This can only lead to lack of focus, hostility and a feeling that one is being used by leaders with agendas. It simply shouldn’t be necessary for me to support the agendas of the radial feminists in the A+ movement to be for things that actually follow almost directly from being an atheist, such as separation of church and state. There’s a reason why the WWF are not also campaigning aggressively for the civil rights of people who like to have anal sex with vegetables. It’s a marginal cause and is a distraction even if you agree with it, and it would no doubt offend many potential members. In probabilistic terms:

      p(supports environmentalism)&p(supports the rights of this group)<p(any one of them individually)

      I think you’ll find that your approach will have roughly the same effect to the atheist movement as swallowing a hand grenade would have to a person. People who are alienated by your “good causes” will be forced to disengage from the main body to support a myriad of more focused organizations, spattered around the general area. In your talk you made the argument that you knew “at least one other atheist who would come to meetings and conventions if social issues were discussed”, and it’s entirely possible that this is true. Certainly people in even more marginal groups will be happy to see their concerns be adopted by… well anyone else. However, you seemed to imply that this was a way to grow. To put that into perspective, look at the current statistics of your talk on youtube: Up 419, Down 1225

      Seems to me you’re going to need a lot more than a single friend to get into positive territory here Richard.

      A lot of people simply don’t like this project, and they have good reasons not to and you really are engaging in delusional denial when you simply dismiss these statistics as people not having seen your talk all the way through, because as far as I’m concerned, it got worse towards the end. This is not an example of critical thinking or skepticism. It’s full on rationalization of your own Righteousness where apparently no amount of feedback from others could ever shake you.

      And keep in mind – we aren’t even proposing an alternative horrible ideology that you could criticize here, we’re just saying that we don’t want “the atheist community” to engage in all kinds of other causes – for the very purpose of maintaining unity and focus. Right now, it’s *you* who are forcing people to become vocal against the ideas *you* are needlessly trying to force them to support. We could easily have unity here by merely focusing on the stuff we already know we agree on and that we we also would never have “bad atheists” who somehow represent “the community” in bad ways – because “the community” will only be talking about the special interests of atheists.

      There is also a fundamental problem with trying to seek out minorities to recruit as you are suggesting. They are minorities, and therefore marginal groups to recruit from compared to our previous target – theists – which are a vast majority in the population. Any action targeted at minorities is wasted opportunity when we could have tried recruiting from the majority. The reason Coca Cola does what they do is because they have already exhausted their growth potential, so they need to advertise broadly – even to minorities, but as long as growth potential is there, this is a waste of resources. Coca Cola’s strategy is something that will never be relevant to an atheist movement because when atheism becomes a majority view, most of its issues vanish and there are no reasons for activism.

      Your talk had some good non-political ideas in the middle, but the A+ stuff really tarnished it.

      It’s just shocking that you buy into the idea that people who spend all their time insulting men in general for being rapists, while meeting any response with the generic reply “Your opinion is invalid because you are a privileged fucking cisgendered white male” are “harassed” when they get angry responses. When someone says “I hope you get raped” after being repeatedly insulted as a group like that, it’s clearly not a threat, but a blanket dismissal of crazy people whose behavior is so obscene it’s not worth respectful engagement. Even people who get pissed off to the extent where they spam their boards are entirely justified in my opinion, because what we’re dealing with here is pure irrational gender hatred. Amusingly, because the feminists also base their understanding of rape on dogma instead of evidence, and actively deny and oppose the science on the subject, they also possess no mechanisms by which to reduce the problem so you just have a vicious cycle.

      To round it all off, I suppose it’s worth pointing out one thing that you didn’t talk much about and that is that it might be completely unnecessary to expand “atheist activism” at all. The non-religious segment of the population has grown by leaps and bounds in the years since 9/11 and atheists started to get vocal, through books and grassroot movements. And it’s getting this growth among the young, which is a massive advantage down the line. It has simply been hugely successful. There is no reason to think that we need to change strategies. What we need to do is merely make sure that we are able to keep a public debate going by repeatedly bringing up the damaging effects of religion. This in itself apparently is enough and we don’t have to offer alternative political perspectives on most things. We should also expect that the activist part of this will slow down somewhat as the population becomes more secular, because it will simply seem like less of a problem to people.

      In the US I’d expect one such reduction in atheist activism to happen the moment the Republicans formally disengage from the Evangelical right, which is being forced on them as we speak.

    • says

      If you were speaking from your heart in that talk, nobody will see this post, because you sensor every opinion that doesn’t conform to your own.

      A claim not only based on no evidence whatever, but conclusively refuted by this entire comment thread, and even this very post. So, nice try. But your delusion doesn’t persuade.

      It’s because your entire article implied that people would be shunned if they did not buy into the broader ideology here, which could be summed up as “Patriarchy theory” in very broad terms.

      Another false claim. I make no mention of Patriarchy theory nor even reference it or rely on it anywhere in my articles on Atheism Plus. And my first article on that explicitly identified sexist harassers as those I condemned, and then discussed expanding our interests (without any reference to condemning anyone), and then with regard to basic values of compassion, honesty, and reasonableness I stated these were open to discussion and only someone who openly repudiated them should be denounced and avoided (as indeed we should all avoid and condemn someone who is cruel, uncaring, dishonest, and unreasonable). Then, just to make sure, I wrote a whole additional post that was even more clear about this distinction (Being with or against Atheism+), and that was all the way back in August of 2012. So you can’t pretend like that didn’t happen.

      Instead, I asked “What statement in your video is a bad idea?” and you answered with not a single example of any statement anywhere in that video. All you come up with is a pile of disinformation about what you mistakenly think I might have implied six months ago yet which I explicitly repudiated six months ago, and some weird claims about effectiveness that ignores the entire point of my talk, that we are a community and communities need to act responsibly and need to do certain things to grow and benefit their members and can do better with very little effort and no mission drift. Your remarks do not address a single one of the points I actually made in those regards. So either you didn’t watch the video, or you are deliberately ignoring every single argument in it, in the hopes that no one notices (and that somehow even I wouldn’t point this out).

      In your talk you made the argument that you knew “at least one other atheist who would come to meetings and conventions if social issues were discussed”, and it’s entirely possible that this is true.

      Um, no. I said, “for every atheist who comes to meetings and conventions, I know at least one other atheist who would come to meetings and conventions if social issues were discussed.” Which suggests we could double our numbers if we did both (i.e. continued doing what we do plus add in more diverse information resources at events), and experience is proving me out (the reason conventions are exploding in number and attendance is that they have been heeding our call and making the speakers and topics discussed more diverse).

      What internet trolls do with vote swarming has no effect on that reality. Bodies are the real statistics. Because they come with dollars.

      There is also a fundamental problem with trying to seek out minorities to recruit as you are suggesting. They are minorities, and therefore marginal groups to recruit from compared to our previous target – theists – which are a vast majority in the population.

      This racist “fuck the minorities, only white people count because there are more of us” nonsense is destroying the Republican party. And you think it’s a good idea to pick up that sad anchor, just when even they are starting to have enough sense to finally toss it in the bin? Digging things out of the GOP’s garbage can of ideas is definitely not a good idea. That’s going backwards, not forwards.

      The AACon had numerous Hispanic and black speakers and groups represented, and that’s precisely what we need to see (and obviously, as this example proves, can see, and this was largely due to our efforts to make it so; it can be so at every major conference). Not only do we want this because we should give a shit about them, as our fellow atheists who need our help and not our exclusion, but also because there are a damn lot of them (not only are they fully 26% of the population right now, one of the very talks at the AACon, by David Tamayo, was about how in fact they will soon be the majority in the U.S.: already, white people will be the minority among those 24 and under within just ten years, and the minority in the whole U.S. population within thirty years) and their communities are especially stricken and oppressed by religion, right under our very noses (which ought to be something even you supposedly care about), and most in need of improved education and access to philosophical alternatives (when most white people have easier access to both).

      Any action targeted at minorities is wasted opportunity when we could have tried recruiting from the majority.

      Apart from this being Stupid Math (100 white converts, or 80 white converts and 20 minority converts, is still 100 converts, which costs the same, so really, you are just saying we should only care about white people–otherwise, your math doesn’t make sense), Dave Silverman himself disproved your assumption with his talk about growing numbers: exactly when American Atheists started reaching out to minorities and building bridges with minority atheist groups, the whole atheist movement grew, in all demographics. So much for it having any other effect.

      It’s not a zero sum game anyway. Most expenses target all demographics, and those that target specific demographics draw others along with them, and improve the movement as a whole by ending the racial isolation of white atheism in the U.S. (in other words, by getting more involved in integrating and helping minority atheists, we are learning more and improving as a movement, and thus we are discovering we can do even more to help them join us and also serve their interests as much as our own), and also, once again, just simply helping people who most need our help. Ignoring minorities because we’d rather recruit only whites is just dumb. And heartless. And, let’s be honest, sorta kinda racist.

      The reason Coca Cola does what they do is because they have already exhausted their growth potential, so they need to advertise broadly – even to minorities, but as long as growth potential is there, this is a waste of resources. Coca Cola’s strategy is something that will never be relevant to an atheist movement because when atheism becomes a majority view, most of its issues vanish and there are no reasons for activism.

      Wow. My Coca Cola company example wasn’t even about recruiting minorities. Yet somehow your racist goggles saw it as about that. Weird. Telling.

      My Coca Cola example (as anyone who bothers to actually watch the video will see) was about PR for an atheist organization full stop. Not PR directed at specific racial groups. But PR that gets attention by everyone, of all races, and puts the organization on the map of public consciousness, generates press (the specific point I made: works like this should be counted as part of an org’s advertising budget). Yet you just saw race. And worse, you saw race and sneered. Think about that.

      Your talk had some good non-political ideas in the middle, but the A+ stuff really tarnished it.

      That was the A+ stuff. Evidently you are confused.

      It’s just shocking that you buy into the idea that people who spend all their time insulting men in general for being rapists, while meeting any response with the generic reply “Your opinion is invalid because you are a privileged fucking cisgendered white male” are “harassed” when they get angry responses.

      Another example of nothing I said in my video (nor have I ever said) nor is at all relevant to what I said in the video. I asked for a statement in the video that’s wrong. And still you have nothing.

      Finally, whether you think rape threats are sincere or not is irrelevant. Note how I made no such issue about that in the video: I said nothing whatever about them being bad because they might be carried out; they are wrong in and of themselves, and anyone with any compassion for other human beings would agree with me, and be angered that people do this, and will denounce it wherever they see it. You, evidently, have no compassion for the victims of this harassment, and don’t give a shit about this behavior or who it hurts. That is what is toxic to a movement: not caring about the well-being and happiness of its own members.

    • Mike Hunter says

      Why should we spend our time justifying ourselves to you? You’re the one push for feminism plus. If you want our support, then you have to sell – your – idea to us. Not the other way around.

    • says

      Rather than taking one statement, how about we focus on the simple fact that taking something that is inherently unorganized, putting it’s name on your movement which is just an existing movement, and proclaiming that those who do not agree should be shunned is a bad idea. I might be against bigotry, and feel that rape is wrong, but feminism is not for everybody (men AND women), and this is just feminism repackaged.

      I also find it astounding that you advocate social punishment, and then, when your OWN video gets a taste of that social punishment, you claim it is a bunch of people who haven’t even watched the video, based on what your fans have told you, because you haven’t read the comments.

      I’ve told you why I feel Atheism Plus is a bad idea, now you show me your evidence that your video (currently 474 up, 1431 down) is being downvoted because the consensus is that it’s largely unwanted, rather than an organised group of militant trolls.

    • says

      You mean caring about the wellbeing and happiness of the women in our movement is “feminism repackaged” and therefore caring about the wellbeing and happiness of the women in our movement “is not for everybody”?

      I also find it astounding that you advocate social punishment, and then, when your OWN video gets a taste of that social punishment, you claim it is a bunch of people who haven’t even watched the video, based on what your fans have told you, because you haven’t read the comments.

      All I asked was that people watch the video before voting on it, and vote it up only if they then agree it deserves it. Indeed, I was very clear on both points.

      What is scandalous is voting down a video and then being unable to identify a single statement in it you actually object to.

      There is also no equivalency between asking people to downvote sexism and harassment, and downvoting the asking of people to downvote sexism and harassment. The former expresses opposition to sexism and harassment; the latter expresses support for sexism and harassment.

      If you see no difference between those two, there is something disturbingly wrong with you.

    • says

      *I apologise for the lack of formatting, I already spent nearly 3 hours on this post. Also, please note that, at times, I refer to “you” as Atheism+ advocates in general, rather than Richard Carrier specifically.*

      There only seems to be two weapons in your “intellectual artillery”, Richard. You either invoke a wider issue, or ask for a citation. Before I give you exactly what you asked for, a couple of brief points.

      1) My not liking your way of doing something does not automatically mean we have different goals. I care about the wellbeing and happiness of women, but I believe it can be achieved without the extremes of feminism.

      2) In these comments, you repeatedly demand citation of the exact points within your video that are disagreeable. Perhaps you are aware of the phrase “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”? Even if there was no single disagreeable sentence in your video, it wouldn’t preclude the possibility that the whole of Atheism+ is still disagreeable to many.

      As it turns out, I found quite a bit to take issue with. It’s a long read, but, remember, you literally asked for it.

      00:58 – “The biggest one, the one that it seems is growing the most, is the identity of being an atheist”

      This is true, and is probably the reason your branding campaign is getting so much hate. Atheism is already a thing, and atheists who do not agree (of which there are many) with your methodology, are not happy about the possibility of being tarred with your brush. I identify as an atheist, and I would not want to be associated with your movement any more than any semi-reasonable Christian would want to be associated with the Westboro Baptist Church. And, no, before you say it, I am not saying A+, or feminists, are as bad as Westboro.

      3:26 – “Obviously, one of those big goals that’s been talked about today already is to increase the number of atheists. Uh, hopefully, that means increasing the number of morally responsible atheists.”

      Firstly, and this isn’t so much a problem I have with your branding campaign, but a flaw in your logic. How do you intend to increase the number of atheists by going after… wait for it… atheists? As we see later in the video, your denouncement policy will prevent you from converting any religious types who, as shown by their belief, aren’t particularly reasonable.
      As for the morally responsible part. Your idea of morals. A+ apologists seem to trot out the “So you’re for bigotry” whenever anyone opposes them, but it’s perfectly plausible that someone can be against your solution to the problem. More on that later.

      5:30 – “Worse than that is that a hundred atheists were thumbing up these remarks”

      Yes, comments about raping a fifteen year old girl (or anybody, for that matter) are unacceptable. First point of contention; is the fact that this was an atheist subreddit proof that everybody there was an atheist? Minor point, I know. Second point of contention; why did it matter that these people were atheists? Atheists have enough on contending with assertions that, without God and his morals, we’re all one step away from Stalin, or Hitler. You talk about this story as though the fact that these morons were atheist has some bearing on their behaviour. It doesn’t. They were morons, plain and simple. Just like there are feminist morons, and Christian morons, and so on. It may be another small point, but if you’re going to elect yourself as a spokesperson for morally responsible atheists, be better at it.

      5:49 – “…Rebecca Watson, you may know that she is the target of this kind of thing a lot, as well…”

      Again, the kind of abuse you’re referring to comes from morons, who might be atheist, or they might not. Unless you’re implying their lack of a “+” after their atheism makes them this way, it is irrelevant. And please don’t quote yourself from the video saying that there are actually more atheistic than religious people making the aforementioned comments, unless you have statistics on exactly what percentage of those sites’ visitors were atheists. If 90% of the sites’ visitors are atheist, most of the harmful comments will come from atheists.
      You seem to ride this horse for a while, but I think I’ve made my problem clear.

      10:00 – “Disowning people who declare their refusal to be compassionate, honest, or reasonable. I mean, if they stalwartly say we reject your moral values, I’m gonna disown those people, and I’m gonna say so.”

      I imagine you can see what’s coming, here. You said it in the above quote “…if they stalwartly say we reject your moral values…”. Again, it’s easy to say we should stop sexual abuse, and murder, and war, it’s quite another thing to actually do it. The constant implication here being that rejection of your methods is an admission that we are not compassionate, honest, and reasonable.

      11:42 – “…atheists plus we use critical thinking, and skepticism.”

      As you know, this sits at the end of the list of values your branding campaign is based on. You want people to be an atheist, to care about social justice, to support women’s rights, to protest racism, and then, when they’re all those things, you want them to adopt the kind of thinking that leads a lot of atheist to that point organically? Do you not think it would be better to educate those who need educating so that they decide it’s wrong rape, or discriminate against race, rather than tell them not and then let them work out why? Well, clearly you don’t, and that’s not a bad thing. Your view is just as valid as mine, but I’m not calling you uncompassionate, dishonest, or unreasonable for your view.

      12:29 – “Now, it starts with atheism, because we’re atheists, and we’re in the atheist movement…”

      And yet, like the commenting trolls who abused that fifteen year old girl, the fact that you’re an atheist has no bearing on any other part of Atheism+.
      Side note: Atheism isn’t really a movement, as you call shortly after the above quote, it’s a lack of a movement, if anything. Humanism is a movement, and, if a bunch of humanists started sending rape threats, it would be terrible for that movement. Atheism covers the whole spectrum of humanity, from Douglas Adams to Kim Jong Il, and we have no control over who can call themselves an atheist, which, incidentally, is probably another reason you’re getting so much hate; atheists are probably pissed at the fact that they can’t effectively denounce Atheism+, because we’re not part of a movement. You commandeering the name for your branding campaign is taking advantage of that fact.

      16:28 – “And also, let’s accept and encourage constructive criticism of each other within the movement…”

      Within the movement? Two words; “echo chamber”.

      16:58 – “Don’t let bad atheists represent you…”

      Bad by your standards, presumably? Some might say that all the downvotes your video got were the result of a lot of atheists trying to prevent other atheists they see as bad from representing them. Of course, they were mostly trolls, trying to censor your message, right?

      17:42 – “…as atheists, you should be seen caring about those things…”

      Okay, I’ll try and make this the last time I make this point. As an atheist, I should be seen not worshipping a god. That is all. As a good person, I should be seen caring about poverty. My atheism has no bearing on the type of person I am. A large part of why I avoided religion in the first place is because I didn’t like the implication that I needed telling (by anyone) how to be a good person.

      22:50 – “I think we should have an atheist bowling club in every major city in the country.”

      There’s nothing wrong with this, I just thought it was worth pointing out that probably the loudest applause you got in the entire talk was for a comment about bowling.

      23:55 – “…start giving them leadership roles…”

      Now we’re getting into it. I do not believe that the foot up approach to minorities and women is the way forward in this day and age. I might be right, you might be right, we both might be right (or not), but, again, I’m not “denouncing” you for holding a different viewpoint. Make women and minorities welcome, of course, but, in my opinion, nobody should be given a position of leadership (however small the organization) unless they are suited to it, whatever their race or gender. This is not a matter matter of morally right or wrong, it’s a matter of differing solutions to the same problems.

      26:35 – “I’ve run into a lot of atheists that say that it’s not relevant to them if religion isn’t somehow involved in it.”

      You’ve also witnessed hundreds of atheists making rape threats, it doesn’t mean all of us have a penchant for rape. Nobody can fight every battle—there are too many battles to fight! Some atheists (Richard Dawkins might be a good example) are primarily concerned with fighting the inherent ignorance of religion, and the dangers that come with. Some people choose to focus on women’s rights, some people on inner-city poverty, and so on.
      There is always an equally noble cause around the corner, and if the atheists you met are only concerned with religion, that’s fine; there are other atheists feeding starving children in Africa. Let us pick our own battles, rather than assigning them.

      30:08 – “…it’s not that Coca-cola company actually gives a damn about poverty…”

      I’m of the opinion that a good deed is a good deed, whatever the motive, so Coca-cola pulling a PR stunt that results in a few kids being slightly better educated is fine by me. But I find it curious that your brand, with all its talk of morals and social justice and critical thinking, is not above a PR stunt to further your reach, rather than letting intelligent people find and choose to be part of your brand.

      32:39 – “All atheist organisations should publicly, and officially, denounce the harassment of prominent atheist women.”

      Just the prominent ones? I’m sorry, I’m sorry, cheap shot. On the face of it, there is nothing wrong with this statement, but this a case where the detail matters. Atheism+’s idea of harassment, from what I’ve seen on the Atheism+ forums, is indistinguishable from that of the feminist idea of harassment. And, before you accuse me of “not caring about the wellbeing and happiness” of women again, I have no desire to see women treated as lesser people, but, for me, feminism is a step too far. Just in case you had the notion of telling me that my opposition to feminism is tantamount to misogyny, remember that you would be including all non-feminists in that group, including a lot of women.

      33:40 – “Whenever you have an opportunity to state publicly … that you, atheists in particular are opposed to this, I think we should all be doing that…” (in reference to social justice/downvoting)

      Barely minutes earlier, you spoke of “going to the source” with regards to being educated, and “knowing what you’re talking about”, and yet you state at the top of your post that “Others reading the comments … tell me that the downvotes appear to be coming from people who didn’t even watch the video” and they were simply an attempt discourage others from watching. So, you make a recommendation on how to handle things you oppose, and when that recommendation is put into practice by people opposing you, they are just attempting to censor you, rather than expressing an opinion that your branding campaign is disagreeable.
      Incidentally, you repeatedly ask for specific lines in your video that people disagree with, and, well, if you’re still reading, you know where those comments got you. This hasn’t been fun for me, either.

      34:53 – “If they don’t see that there’s any massive widespread social disapproval within the community they pretend to be in, they’re gonna continue doing that.”

      If you think that some communal head-shaking and tutting under our breath will discourage the real trolls (as opposed to the ones who just disagree with bad language), you’re incredibly naive about the Internet. Nothing short of banning will shut a troll up, and, even then, there’s nothing to stop them signing up with a new account. As for moderating your own comments, it’s a matter of personal preference when it’s your own blog, but I would have major trust dealing with a brand that does this kind of thing on a community level. How would I know I’m seeing the full picture?

      35:34 – “Better represent Atheism as a community.”

      Atheism+, not Atheism. I can bring up every problem I have with your video, but, ultimately, the mass-hate you’re getting from the Atheist community stems from the fact that you have inserted yourself into a position of representation for a group of people who didn’t ask to be represented.
      You already put Atheism in the name, referring to it when you’re talking about your brand is just rubbing salt into the wound.

      35:50 – “…what atheists are about, what atheists stand for…”

      Not believing in gods.

      37:28 – “…there’s people who are a little clueless, don’t quite understand, what feminism is versus what anti-feminists say it is…”

      Given the diversity of viewpoints in feminism, how can you explain this? “Pro-life” feminist exist, while, at the same time, I once had a conversation with a feminist who believed that women should be able to have an abortion at any point prior to birth.

      Phew, we’re done!

      Ultimately, the admirable causes you wish to pursue (women’s rights, education, improved quality of life for disabled people, etc), however you choose to go about it, has nothing to do with Atheism, it just so happens that you are all atheists as well. By setting yourself up within the atheist demographic, you’re creating a “big fish in a little pond” scenario, which will only make you feel good about yourself, and do little effect wider change because you will be preaching (sorry) to the choir, and no one else.
      This branding campaign should have been called Something+Atheism. Feminism+Atheism. Social Justice+Atheism. Anything. By putting Atheism front and centre, you include all of us, unwillingly, in your vanity project, and that is why you’re getting so much hate.

    • says

      I care about the wellbeing and happiness of women, but I believe it can be achieved without the extremes of feminism.

      Where in my video do I mention the need to achieve that through “the extremes of feminism”? Indeed, you later quote the one single instance in the entire video when I ever even mention the word “feminism,” so you know full well I never said this (or even that anyone had to be a “feminist” in any particular sense).

      So this can have nothing to do with the video.

      Perhaps you are aware of the phrase “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”?

      It still has to have parts.

      So, nice try. But you still have to find something in it to object to.

      Even if there was no single disagreeable sentence in your video, it wouldn’t preclude the possibility that the whole of Atheism+ is still disagreeable to many.

      So, if you don’t like other presentations of Atheism+, you will downvote this one, even though you can find no fault with it?

      It seems to me you shouldn’t vote at all in that case. Downvoting a specific video you have no qualms with is dishonest. It miscommunicates to the public that you watched the video and didn’t like its content.

      As it turns out, I found quite a bit to take issue with. It’s a long read, but, remember, you literally asked for it.

      Few of your examples even relate to what’s actually in the video itself, and the rest make no logical connection between its actual content and any reason to downvote it. This is what I’m talkiung about. You aren’t even responding to the video. You are responding to some other external collection of legends and lore, and opinions nowhere found in the video in question, and then coming to illogical conclusions.

      00:58 – “The biggest one, the one that it seems is growing the most, is the identity of being an atheist”

      This is true, and is probably the reason your branding campaign is getting so much hate. Atheism is already a thing, and atheists who do not agree (of which there are many) with your methodology, are not happy about the possibility of being tarred with your brush. I identify as an atheist, and I would not want to be associated with your movement any more than any semi-reasonable Christian would want to be associated with the Westboro Baptist Church. And, no, before you say it, I am not saying A+, or feminists, are as bad as Westboro.

      You don’t seem to be objecting to the quoted line here. To the contrary, you just affirm it. Therefore, this is not an example of an objectionable line.

      3:26 – “Obviously, one of those big goals that’s been talked about today already is to increase the number of atheists. Uh, hopefully, that means increasing the number of morally responsible atheists.”

      Firstly, and this isn’t so much a problem I have with your branding campaign, but a flaw in your logic. How do you intend to increase the number of atheists by going after… wait for it… atheists? As we see later in the video, your denouncement policy will prevent you from converting any religious types who, as shown by their belief, aren’t particularly reasonable.

      As for the morally responsible part. Your idea of morals. A+ apologists seem to trot out the “So you’re for bigotry” whenever anyone opposes them, but it’s perfectly plausible that someone can be against your solution to the problem. More on that later.

      This is illogical.

      Firstly, how will denouncing and downvoting sexual harassers “prevent me from converting any religious types”?

      Secondly, I specifically say in the video how it will actually help us do that: because theists (and especially inquisitive fence sitters) are watching our forums and blogs and thus will see any collective expression of our values there.

      Thirdly, I distinguished three different goals, only one of which was growing the number of atheists, the others were improving the community of atheists we already have (which also serves the first goal by making the atheist community more welcoming and attractive).

      Fourthly, the only moral values I defend are compassion, integrity and reasonableness. If you have no objection to atheist organizations promoting those values, then you have no valid objection to the statement you are here listing.

      You have therefore identified nothing wrong with this statement, and certainly no reason to downvote a video for it.

      5:30 – “Worse than that is that a hundred atheists were thumbing up these remarks”

      Yes, comments about raping a fifteen year old girl (or anybody, for that matter) are unacceptable. First point of contention; is the fact that this was an atheist subreddit proof that everybody there was an atheist? Minor point, I know.

      Already addressed in this blog article (above). I wrote a whole paragraph on it. Read it.

      Ultimately, since it shouldn’t matter who the culprits are when asking whether we should condemn and downvote it, this cannot be a relevant point for downvoting my video.

      Second point of contention; why did it matter that these people were atheists? Atheists have enough on contending with assertions that, without God and his morals, we’re all one step away from Stalin, or Hitler. You talk about this story as though the fact that these morons were atheist has some bearing on their behaviour. It doesn’t. They were morons, plain and simple. Just like there are feminist morons, and Christian morons, and so on.

      What has that to do with whether or not we should denounce and downvote such remarks?

      It may be another small point, but if you’re going to elect yourself as a spokesperson for morally responsible atheists, be better at it.

      Give me an example of my failing at it in which I didn’t apologize or correct myself.

      5:49 – “…Rebecca Watson, you may know that she is the target of this kind of thing a lot, as well…”

      Again, the kind of abuse you’re referring to comes from morons, who might be atheist, or they might not. Unless you’re implying their lack of a “+” after their atheism makes them this way, it is irrelevant. And please don’t quote yourself from the video saying that there are actually more atheistic than religious people making the aforementioned comments, unless you have statistics on exactly what percentage of those sites’ visitors were atheists. If 90% of the sites’ visitors are atheist, most of the harmful comments will come from atheists. You seem to ride this horse for a while, but I think I’ve made my problem clear.

      Again, what has that to do with whether or not we should denounce and downvote such remarks?

      10:00 – “Disowning people who declare their refusal to be compassionate, honest, or reasonable. I mean, if they stalwartly say we reject your moral values, I’m gonna disown those people, and I’m gonna say so.”

      I imagine you can see what’s coming, here. You said it in the above quote “…if they stalwartly say we reject your moral values…”. Again, it’s easy to say we should stop sexual abuse, and murder, and war, it’s quite another thing to actually do it. The constant implication here being that rejection of your methods is an admission that we are not compassionate, honest, and reasonable.

      You mean, by saying that those who apathetically allow harm to be done when they could do something about it (literally the least thing of all: just say they disapprove or click a thumbs down button) are still empathetically caring for the victims of this behavior?

      It’s one thing to discuss people who aren’t even in the place or don’t know what’s going on or can’t do anything. That obviously can’t be the people you mean. So you must mean people who see this stuff happening, and yet can’t be bothered to take literally the least amount of effort to oppose it.

      If indeed that is why you are downvoting the video, then you are essentially saying you are in favor of atheists exhibiting no moral responsibility or concern for others–even others in their own venues and communities–not even so much concern as would require the least amount of effort.

      Is that what you are saying?

      11:42 – “…atheists plus we use critical thinking, and skepticism.”

      As you know, this sits at the end of the list of values your branding campaign is based on. You want people to be an atheist, to care about social justice, to support women’s rights, to protest racism, and then, when they’re all those things, you want them to adopt the kind of thinking that leads a lot of atheist to that point organically? Do you not think it would be better to educate those who need educating so that they decide it’s wrong rape, or discriminate against race, rather than tell them not and then let them work out why? Well, clearly you don’t, and that’s not a bad thing. Your view is just as valid as mine, but I’m not calling you uncompassionate, dishonest, or unreasonable for your view.

      Why do you think it’s either/or? Were you only able to be taught math or reading in high school, and thus had to choose between them? Or were you able to be taught both?

      So, too, all other issues.

      Surely you are not claiming this as a reason to downvote the video. That you can’t both voice your values by denouncing/downvoting bad behavior and educate people on why? Are we not able to denounce crime while also policing crime and also teaching kids not to be criminals? Do we not both denounce the immorality of theists while also explaining why what they are doing is immoral?

      You are not being logical here.

      12:29 – “Now, it starts with atheism, because we’re atheists, and we’re in the atheist movement…”

      And yet, like the commenting trolls who abused that fifteen year old girl, the fact that you’re an atheist has no bearing on any other part of Atheism+.

      It has bearing on what we as the atheist community do in reaction to that behavior. Which is entirely the point.

      So I see nothing here for you to object to.

      Side note: Atheism isn’t really a movement, as you call shortly after the above quote, it’s a lack of a movement, if anything.

      The evidence I presented in the video refutes you.

      Humanism is a movement, and, if a bunch of humanists started sending rape threats, it would be terrible for that movement. Atheism covers the whole spectrum of humanity, from Douglas Adams to Kim Jong Il, and we have no control over who can call themselves an atheist, which, incidentally, is probably another reason you’re getting so much hate; atheists are probably pissed at the fact that they can’t effectively denounce Atheism+, because we’re not part of a movement. You commandeering the name for your branding campaign is taking advantage of that fact.

      Now you are ignoring the video again. In the video I explicitly say I am talking about the organized, activist atheist community, not just all atheists anywhere whatever.

      I also see nothing preventing you from denouncing Atheism+. You are doing it even here, I’m even letting you, on my own property. The problem is not your inability to do this. Clearly. The problem is your inability to present a single logical or factually correct reason to denounce it.

      16:28 – “And also, let’s accept and encourage constructive criticism of each other within the movement…”

      Within the movement? Two words; “echo chamber”.

      Surely you are not going to pull a Bible Thumper trick on me here and ignore context and play fast and loose with the meaning of words?

      “The movement” in this remark is the one I defined in the very first slide: the larger atheist movement. Not Atheism Plus.

      Thus, your echo chamber remark is completely fallacious and inapplicable here.

      16:58 – “Don’t let bad atheists represent you…”

      Bad by your standards, presumably?

      By the standards spelled out in the video: those who engage in demeaning sexism and harassing and abuse and who openly reject the basic values of compassion, integrity and reasonableness.

      People can choose whether they agree with me, that those are indeed the minimal standards to adopt in defining morally good and morally bad behavior (among theists as well as atheists).

      If you have an argument against doing so, present it. Otherwise don’t hide behind irrelevancies like the fact that “I” am the one asking the question.

      There is again no logically valid reason to downvote the video here. Unless you reject the core values this video asks that people be judged by.

      So…do you? Be specific as to which ones. And again, only reference the ones defined in the video.

      Some might say that all the downvotes your video got were the result of a lot of atheists trying to prevent other atheists they see as bad from representing them. Of course, they were mostly trolls, trying to censor your message, right?

      The question is whether you think that’s actually the case: which do you think it is, trolls or atheists who think the values I promote in the video are bad?

      If trolls, then you should upvote the video, since you shouldn’t want good values to be represented to the world community as bad because of trolls. If you want atheists to be seen as moral people, then you should be enraged that trolls are making us seem immoral and even opposed to being moral.

      If atheists who think the values I promote in the video are bad, then do you agree with them or not? If not, then you should upvote the video to counter their vote and communicate to the world community that they don’t represent you.

      But if you do agree with them, then please explain what values in my video are bad.

      If you cannot (in any honest way that actually references what was actually said in the video) then you have no honest reason to downvote the video.

      Otherwise, by all means do so. Then your vote will actually represent the values you (an atheist) reject. And Christians and anyone else who watches the video will see what values atheists downvote. And that will be the story of you.

      17:42 – “…as atheists, you should be seen caring about those things…”

      Okay, I’ll try and make this the last time I make this point. As an atheist, I should be seen not worshipping a god. That is all. As a good person, I should be seen caring about poverty. My atheism has no bearing on the type of person I am. A large part of why I avoided religion in the first place is because I didn’t like the implication that I needed telling (by anyone) how to be a good person.

      Since you are a person in a community of atheists, this distinction is irrelevant here and has no logical bearing on the line you are quoting in the video or anything else in the video. You cannot separate the fact that you are a person from the fact that you are an atheist. And it matters a great deal whether you are seen promoting basic moral values as an atheist: because that communicates what values atheists in our community have, and dispels the theist’s claim that atheists have no morals. Do you really not care about that?

      Ultimately, “I care about those things, therefore I will downvote them because I dislike being told that” is simply illogical. And the reasoning you try to give here for doing that is even more illogical. You emotionally dislike being asked to stand up for your own moral values by a fellow atheist, therefore you will downvote any promotion of atheists standing up for their own values. That is not rational behavior. Nor is it healthy for the atheist movement. It would not be healthy for any movement.

      22:50 – “I think we should have an atheist bowling club in every major city in the country.”

      There’s nothing wrong with this, I just thought it was worth pointing out that probably the loudest applause you got in the entire talk was for a comment about bowling.

      Not true. But as you said, also not relevant.

      23:55 – “…start giving them leadership roles…”

      Now we’re getting into it. I do not believe that the foot up approach to minorities and women is the way forward in this day and age.

      So you downvote the video because I ask in it that we should ask to hear more black and hispanic speakers speak at conferences?

      I am serious. Is that actually what you are saying?

      Make women and minorities welcome, of course, but, in my opinion, nobody should be given a position of leadership (however small the organization) unless they are suited to it, whatever their race or gender.

      At no point in the video did I say otherwise. So you must be saying there are no women or hispanics or blacks suited to leadership roles in the movement. And if that’s what you are saying, I have a ton of evidence in store to disabuse you of that misbelief. If you are not saying that, then on what logical ground can you object, even by your own principles, to my asking that some of those qualified people be given leadership roles?

      This is not a matter matter of morally right or wrong, it’s a matter of differing solutions to the same problems.

      Not really. I never mentioned anything other than what you just advocated: giving roles to the qualified regardless of race and gender (which happens to mean, even if they aren’t white or a man).

      So this can’t be a reason to downvote the video. The video simply does not recommend any solution you yourself have not here endorsed.

      26:35 – “I’ve run into a lot of atheists that say that it’s not relevant to them if religion isn’t somehow involved in it.”

      You’ve also witnessed hundreds of atheists making rape threats, it doesn’t mean all of us have a penchant for rape.

      I don’t see the relevance of the point. I’m not advocating that we recruit rapists and rape threat enthusiasts.

      You evidently have lost track of what’s being said in the video at this point.

      There is no reason to downvote it here.

      Nobody can fight every battle—there are too many battles to fight!

      So you should fight none?

      In the video I specifically say at several points that individuals and organizations can even pick which fights to focus on. But we should be discussing more options than the few we’ve been focused on in our nearsightedness. For the reasons I gave in the video (which, conspicuously, you do not address here).

      There is also a difference between taking up a cause, and ignoring it. Being aware of sexism in the community and speaking up against it when you see it is not “too many battles to fight.” You do not so lack for time that you can’t click a thumbs down button when you read a harassing comment, for example.

      So again you are presenting no valid reason to downvote the video here.

      Some atheists (Richard Dawkins might be a good example) are primarily concerned with fighting the inherent ignorance of religion, and the dangers that come with. Some people choose to focus on women’s rights, some people on inner-city poverty, and so on.

      There is always an equally noble cause around the corner, and if the atheists you met are only concerned with religion, that’s fine; there are other atheists feeding starving children in Africa. Let us pick our own battles, rather than assigning them.

      Since nowhere in the video to I talk about assigning lanes, but in fact even talk about each org and individual picking them (and only ask that we make us all more informed about the many more lanes there are), this is clearly not a valid objection to anything said in the video.

      30:08 – “…it’s not that Coca-cola company actually gives a damn about poverty…”

      I’m of the opinion that a good deed is a good deed, whatever the motive, so Coca-cola pulling a PR stunt that results in a few kids being slightly better educated is fine by me. But I find it curious that your brand, with all its talk of morals and social justice and critical thinking, is not above a PR stunt to further your reach, rather than letting intelligent people find and choose to be part of your brand.

      Such reasoning would be immediately identified as foolish in a Coca Cola board meeting. If you don’t see the value of gaining free press, while simultaneously combating prejudices against atheism in the community eye, and doing good to boot (these are not mutually exclusive), then you evidently would not be a very good leader of any company or organization.

      So if this is your reason for downvoting the video, you might want to rethink that.

      32:39 – “All atheist organisations should publicly, and officially, denounce the harassment of prominent atheist women.”

      Just the prominent ones?

      Certainly not. That’s only at the very least. Because that’s where most of the problem is, and will communicate where their values are, and thus affect behavior everywhere. If it were practical for atheist organizations to do this for every case, then I might have recommended it. But your own reasoning holds here: they haven’t the time or resources to do that.

      So it is insincere of you to make an issue of this. You know full well it would be impractical of me to say “all atheist women” here and indeed you would criticize me for having said that (just as you tried to do above, with your complaint about not having enough time to care about everything).

      Please be honest with yourself on this point.

      I’m sorry, I’m sorry, cheap shot. On the face of it, there is nothing wrong with this statement, but this a case where the detail matters. Atheism+’s idea of harassment, from what I’ve seen on the Atheism+ forums, is indistinguishable from that of the feminist idea of harassment.

      What’s “the feminist idea of harassment”?

      And what has this inference to do with whether the video should be downvoted? (an inference nowhere made in the video; indeed, you evidently could point to no example of anything you disagreed with actually mentioned in the video)

      And, before you accuse me of “not caring about the wellbeing and happiness” of women again, I have no desire to see women treated as lesser people, but, for me, feminism is a step too far. Just in case you had the notion of telling me that my opposition to feminism is tantamount to misogyny, remember that you would be including all non-feminists in that group, including a lot of women.

      Since I don’t even know what you mean by “feminism” here, and since I never promote feminism in the video at all, I really see no relevance of this to downvoting the video.

      33:40 – “Whenever you have an opportunity to state publicly … that you, atheists in particular are opposed to this, I think we should all be doing that…” (in reference to social justice/downvoting)

      Barely minutes earlier, you spoke of “going to the source” with regards to being educated, and “knowing what you’re talking about”, and yet you state at the top of your post that “Others reading the comments … tell me that the downvotes appear to be coming from people who didn’t even watch the video” and they were simply an attempt discourage others from watching. So, you make a recommendation on how to handle things you oppose, and when that recommendation is put into practice by people opposing you, they are just attempting to censor you, rather than expressing an opinion that your branding campaign is disagreeable.

      Incidentally, you repeatedly ask for specific lines in your video that people disagree with, and, well, if you’re still reading, you know where those comments got you. This hasn’t been fun for me, either.

      This is illogical. “Some people stuff ballots, therefore no one should vote.” “Many people vote for irrational reasons, therefore we shouldn’t vote at all.” Etc. Those are all illogical statements, yet you seem to be saying much the same thing. Because people downvote the video for invalid reasons, therefore no one should upvote the video for valid reasons?

      Really? Think that through.

      34:53 – “If they don’t see that there’s any massive widespread social disapproval within the community they pretend to be in, they’re gonna continue doing that.”

      If you think that some communal head-shaking and tutting under our breath will discourage the real trolls (as opposed to the ones who just disagree with bad language), you’re incredibly naive about the Internet.

      I’ve seen it work many times in my twenty years of experience in online communities. Whereas I have never ever even once seen “ignoring them” make them go away.

      So, factual fail here.

      Moreover, it doesn’t just matter whether it makes them go away. What matters as much is that the community (the world community and the atheist community) see where we stand, as a community, on such things. Do we upvote demeaning rape banter 3:1 or downvote it 3:1? That communicates what sort of people we are. Do you not care? If not, then you no longer get to complain when theists say atheists have no morals or that atheism increases immorality.

      Nothing short of banning will shut a troll up, and, even then, there’s nothing to stop them signing up with a new account. As for moderating your own comments, it’s a matter of personal preference when it’s your own blog, but I would have major trust dealing with a brand that does this kind of thing on a community level. How would I know I’m seeing the full picture?

      “I want to see the full picture, so please don’t downvote demeaningly sexist and harassing remarks” is simply not a logical mode of argument. Likewise deleting posts. You have two choices: you can trust that I actually adhere to my comments policy or you can, for some reason, assume I don’t (ditto anyone else governing their own space). To make such a call without any evidence may be challenging to your claim to be a critical thinker. But that has nothing whatever to do with my video.

      If you think I’m deleting vital, genuine, honest information that’s actually worth your time to read, it will certainly pop up somewhere else on the internet. But it makes no sense to say I have to support (even, literally, pay for) the publication of demeaningly sexist and harassing and abusive remarks (and gratuitous insults devoid of arguments or evidence and so on) simply to satisfy your desire to see it. One would have to ask, honestly, why you so desperately need to read that stuff.

      35:34 – “Better represent Atheism as a community.”

      Atheism+, not Atheism.

      No, Atheism. If people see atheists as a whole upvoting demeaning rape banter 3:1, that’s you being represented in that figure. And that’s the uphill battle you are going to have to fight against when non-atheists tell you atheists are despicable people. It’s also the atmosphere you are going to have to travel in: an atheist community that promotes and snickers at demeaning rape banter 3:1, or a community that is disgusted by such things.

      That’s what I explain in the video.

      But regardless, there is nothing here you have identified as a reason to downvote the video.

      I can bring up every problem I have with your video, but, ultimately, the mass-hate you’re getting from the Atheist community stems from the fact that you have inserted yourself into a position of representation for a group of people who didn’t ask to be represented. You already put Atheism in the name, referring to it when you’re talking about your brand is just rubbing salt into the wound.

      To the contrary, I made a case and asked people to critique it (even since my very first post), and revised in response to reasonable criticisms. I specifically said in that first post “I think the values of Atheism+ are to be built collaboratively, and don’t have to be dictated by me alone.”

      So, here you are perpetuating a myth, not a fact. The “lie” is that I ever dictated anything to anyone. The truth is that I did the exact opposite.

      Asking people to agree with you, and making to them arguments and presenting to them evidence as to why, is not anything you would object to in any other case. So why are you suddenly against it now? How on earth can we communicate our wishes and concerns at all, if the moment we do so we aren’t even listened to because of petty dislike of the fact that we have a pulpit?

      This simply isn’t logical behavior. There is no intelligible reason to downvote the video here, other than some sort of misplaced and ginned up jealousy of the fact that a lot of people listen to me and read my blog and books and ask me to speak at conferences.

      As to why “atheism” is in the name, here you are going off track, and ignoring the first two minutes of my talk where I carefully explain why atheism cannot but be in the name. So now you are divorcing your thoughts from what the video actually says and giving a reason to downvote it that ignores what the video says on precisely this very point.

      Downvoting a video because you ignore what it says is not a sound reason to do so.

      35:50 – “…what atheists are about, what atheists stand for…”

      Not believing in gods.

      Not the atheist community. The first two minutes of the video explains the difference between just being an atheist, and being part of the activist and organized atheist community.

      People judge us as a community. We also have responsibilities as a community. Thus it very much matters what we do as a community. For all the reasons I explain in the video. Which you here conspicuously ignore.

      This is certainly not a logically sound reason to downvote the video. Once again, downvoting it because you ignore what it says is not laudable.

      37:28 – “…there’s people who are a little clueless, don’t quite understand, what feminism is versus what anti-feminists say it is…”

      Given the diversity of viewpoints in feminism, how can you explain this?

      Ditto what humanism is, what socialism is, what democracy is, what Christianity is, and so on.

      You would not see this as an issue in those cases. So you shouldn’t in this one.

      In any case, there is no reason to downvote the video here.

      “Pro-life” feminist exist, while, at the same time, I once had a conversation with a feminist who believed that women should be able to have an abortion at any point prior to birth.

      Just as atheists all differ in opinions, and Christians all differ in opinions, and democracy-advocates all differ in opinions, yet there is a singular definition for what an atheist is that applies to all atheists, and a singular definition for what a Christian is that applies to all Christians, and a single definition of what advocating democracy means that applies to all democracy-advocates.

      If you can’t grasp the distinction between what Christianity is from what various different Christians believe, then perhaps I can understand your confusion here. But I honestly doubt you really are that confused. Are you?

      Ultimately, the admirable causes you wish to pursue (women’s rights, education, improved quality of life for disabled people, etc), however you choose to go about it, has nothing to do with Atheism, it just so happens that you are all atheists as well.

      That is precisely what it has to do with atheism: we are a community–so it matters what direction we go as far as how we treat each other in that community; it matters whether we help each other within the community become happier and better informed; and people will judge atheism by how we behave and speak and act, because we are the visible community of atheists; mong many other things, all of which I list in the video, and all of which you just here ignored. Again.

      Your reasoning here is therefore illogical. This is simply not a valid reason to downvote the video. It’s just ignoring the video all over again.

      This branding campaign should have been called Something+Atheism.

      That would be illogical. As the video says, it’s atheism+humanism+skepticism. That’s much more relevantly specific than “something” and it’s specific in precisely the ways that very much matter, to atheists and to the world, in all the respects I lay out in the video (so here again you are just ignoring all the arguments in the video).

      [or] Feminism+Atheism.

      That is nowhere in the video. Nor would it accurately describe what the video defines Atheism+ as. So here you’re just projecting your hatred of feminism onto something you imagine was said in the video but never was. That’s not logical.

      Social Justice+Atheism.

      That’s too clunky. Atheism+ is easier. Likewise, “Social Justice+Atheism” is incomplete (since skepticism is in there, not just humanism) and requires just as much unpacking (since in what respect social justice issues are relevant and in what ways they are addressed is simply a sub-category of humanism generally).

      By putting Atheism front and centre, you include all of us, unwillingly, in your vanity project, and that is why you’re getting so much hate.

      Which is wholly illogical.

      The reason Atheism is front and center is explained in the first two minutes of the video. Which once again you are completely ignoring.

      The atheist community exists as an identifiable, tangible, large-scale, very real thing, unmatched by any competing meme (there is no “New Humanism” movement, for example–as I specifically said in the video), and it is the community, the identity movement, we find ourselves in. The question then is, those of us who join and become a part of that community, will we be anything more than “just” atheists, or not?

      That is the question. And you do not seem willing to admit that you actually believe the answer is “not,” that atheists should have no truck with humanism or skepticism or any of what that entails. At the same time, you seem also pretty sure atheists should also be humanists and skeptics and, as rational people, should act consistently with that fact. The cognitive dissonance is clearly maddening. I feel for you.

    • says

      [in re: Mike Hunter]

      @2.5

      Why should we spend our time justifying ourselves to you? You’re the one push for feminism plus. If you want our support, then you have to sell – your – idea to us. Not the other way around.

      I don’t agree. It’s similar to waiting for the old guard conservatives to die off in order for civilization to make progress. The goal is to set up enough safe environments to increase participation (not dissimilar to David Silverman’s approach of mobilizing atheists as opposed to deconverting theists). It’s not about convincing the Horde. It’s about mobilizing everyone else.

      The others would disappear via attrition.

    • says

      So this can have nothing to do with the video

      From whence have you pulled this notion that your video can only be judged on its own? You’re advocating a movement which a lot of people do not like, I would argue the association would be enough to earn a downvote from those who disagree with Atheism+, regardless of the content. But, seeing as you seem convinced that you are right on this technicality, here are reasons that are specifically to do with your video. They are technicalities, too, but that seems to be all that you’re interested in.

      1) The audio quality is quite poor
      2) You keep looking up at (presumably) a slideshow that we, the video watchers, cannot see.
      3) Your speech often stalls, whether you’re forgetting what to say, or waiting for some technological component, it makes for very frustrating watching.

      Ultimately, up or down voting is a matter of preference. It’s like or don’t like. It’s subjective. I could have downvoted your video because I don’t like your hair, or voice. I’d be petty for doing so, but it would be a reason for not liking your video, I mean, it’s 46 minutes of you talking! I’m indulging your ridiculous demand to have every disagreeable word pointed out before you’ll accept the legitimacy of a downvote because I don’t believe you are sincere when you say you’re open to reasonable discussion, but, please, stop this ludicrous notion that only what happens in your video is relevant to this discussion.
      That said, as I am not quite so rigid as you, I will try my very best to avoid any judgement of your video based on things that were not said in the video. You’re right, of course, that you do not mention that Atheism+ ideals are heavily feminist in their make up, which brings me to…

      4) You do not accurately represent the movement for which you are advocating.

      Now, onto the rest!

      So, if you don’t like other presentations of Atheism+

      And I didn’t like this one. See above, above above, and below.

      You don’t seem to be objecting to the quoted line here. To the contrary, you just affirm it. Therefore, this is not an example of an objectionable line.

      I’m sorry if my points don’t tie in neatly with the quotes I used. I didn’t quote whole paragraphs (for the sake of your blog, if nothing else), so it’s entirely possible I’d forgotten exactly what you said by the time I’d finished watching your video for a second time, noting timestamps.
      But, really? The fact that my point doesn’t tie in neatly with the quote above it invalidates the point? You’re advocating Atheism+, and I object to you co-opting the name Atheism for a movement that has little to do with Atheism. That’s not grounds for a downvote? Okay, Richard. Okay. Let’s move on.

      Firstly, how will denouncing and downvoting sexual harassers “prevent me from converting any religious types”?

      You state, quite clearly, that those who cannot discuss with rationality and reason will be dismissed/ignored/downvoted/etc (I’m not watching your video again to find the exact quote). Religious people, evidenced by their irrational, no-evidence-necessary belief system, would fall into this category. You’re not going to win many religious people over to your side by denouncing them and refusing to talk to them. Or is it only the unreasonable atheists you won’t talk to?

      I specifically say in the video how it will actually help us do that: because theists (and especially inquisitive fence sitters) are watching our forums

      Debatable.

      Fourthly, the only moral values I defend are compassion, integrity and reasonableness. If you have no objection to atheist organizations promoting those values, then you have no valid objection to the statement you are here listing

      I too think that everybody should be reasonable, honest, and compassionate. Am I a hero, too? Or is the sentiment meaningless without a plan of how to push forward toward that goal? Of course, we can’t discuss the issues I have with Atheism+’s plan, because it wasn’t in the video. (see 4 in my list of technicalities).

      Ultimately, since it shouldn’t matter who the culprits are when asking whether we should condemn and downvote it, this cannot be a relevant point for downvoting my video.

      You seem to be creeping away from the point a little, here. I wasn’t making the point that you shouldn’t downvote them, I was expressing my dislike to the fact that you constantly refer to these idiots’ atheism as though it was a defining factor. I didn’t like that. For me, it was unlikeable. Downvote rape-threat enthusiasts all you like, Richard. I commend you.

      What has that to do with whether or not we should denounce and downvote such remarks?

      Nothing. See above.

      Give me an example of my failing at it in which I didn’t apologize or correct myself.

      This was clearly explained in my previous comment. You categorise these people as atheists while they’re committing horrible acts en-masse, creating the misconception that atheism is somehow related. We have religious people to link horrific behaviour to atheism, we expect better from so-called spokespeople for the “Atheist community”.

      Again, what has that to do with whether or not we should denounce and downvote such remarks?

      Again, nothing. It has to do with how we shouldn’t be called trolls for denouncing and downvoting your remarks.

      You mean, by saying that those who apathetically allow harm to be done when they could do something about it (literally the least thing of all: just say they disapprove or click a thumbs down button) are still empathetically caring for the victims of this behavior?

      Define victim. Your definition will almost certainly differ from mine, but you don’t deal in such specifics. For you, it’s “You either oppose sexual harassment or you don’t!” with no nod to what is actually considered sexual harassment. If someone is being assaulted in the street, it would be nice if others would step in, but what if someone is being assaulted by a number of people, should a single person, who would almost certainly get their arse kicked if they intervened, be called a bad person for not doing so?
      As for downvoting morally offensive behaviour on the Internet, people can do it or not do it, as far as I am concerned. Nothing less than voting it up makes them a bad person. I don’t thumb down trolls because it’s giving them some degree of attention.
      This is a difference of opinion, Richard. And if the belief that down voting trolls is a waste of time, fine. Do you assert that that makes me a bad person?

      Why do you think it’s either/or? Were you only able to be taught math or reading in high school, and thus had to choose between them? Or were you able to be taught both?

      I was taught how add, subtract, and so on. I wasn’t given the answers to complex math problems, and then told how to work out those answers for myself.

      It has bearing on what we as the atheist community do in reaction to that behavior. Which is entirely the point.

      The atheist community is mostly groups of people who are atheists, and have come together to do stuff, whether it be go bowling, or fight inequality. They are not doing it because they are atheists. Ask a Catholic priest about the dangers of being seen as part of a group, and what can happen if elements of that group go rogue. Also, take this paragraph as my response to;

      Not the atheist community. The first two minutes of the video explains the difference between just being an atheist, and being part of the activist and organized atheist community.

      Now you are ignoring the video again. In the video I explicitly say I am talking about the organized, activist atheist community, not just all atheists anywhere whatever.

      I must have tuned out there. I will take your word for it, and apologise for that mistake. I am sorry.

      I also see nothing preventing you from denouncing Atheism+. You are doing it even here

      And I am being called illogical for it. The truth is, there has been a mass-denouncing of Atheism+, but you refuse to accept its legitimacy. It seems, also, that when faced with a half-coherent objection, you fall back on what is and isn’t in your video. No, you don’t mention feminism, but feminism is there in this movement for all the world to see (if you would like to question that, I will happily reluctantly provide links to Atheism+ forum posts), and you pointing out that you “didn’t say that”, does nothing to further any kind of discussion on Atheism+ itself. Are you interested in the movement, or your own image?

      “The movement” in this remark is the one I defined in the very first slide: the larger atheist movement. Not Atheism Plus.

      Okay, fine. Not an echo chamber, then. Only you don’t seem particularly open to the wider atheist community when they are criticising you. You get downvoted, you declare trolling. People explain why they don’t like Atheism+, you demand exact citations of which part of your video they don’t like. You get said citations, you say “illogical”, and “I see nothing here for you to object to” two hundred times.

      By the standards spelled out in the video…

      Well, as you’ve made quite clear in these comments, your video doesn’t paint the whole Atheism+ picture. Had your video been the only information I had on Atheism+, I might not have been so opposed to the movement (though the choice of name would still be a point of friction), but it wasn’t the only information, and the fact that you leave out so much of the detail in your speech is a reason for downvoting alone.

      …those who engage in demeaning sexism and harassing and abuse and who openly reject the basic values of compassion, integrity and reasonableness.

      What’s your definition of sexism. What’s your definition of abuse? These are important details.

      There is again no logically valid reason to downvote the video here. Unless you reject the core values this video asks that people be judged by.

      The core values are vague and meaningless without the details, which is where my disagreement comes in. And, unless your video consisted of you saying “I think people should be honest, compassionate, and reasonable”, and nothing else, how do you figure that I have no reason to downvote your video unless I disagree with these things.

      The question is whether you think that’s actually the case: which do you think it is, trolls or atheists who think the values I promote in the video are bad?

      I think it is atheists who disagree with your movement. Some of them may not have put as much thought into it as I have (and nobody should have to), but I doubt there are many who just downvoted to for the fun of it. Still, I have no proof, and neither do you.
      Your argument against the possibility that the downvotes are legitimate seems to be solely based on the technicality that you didn’t say anything bad in and of itself in this video. I think you did, as you can see, but I still maintain that, just because you were very careful with your words, doesn’t mean people can’t express distaste to the overall idea by downvoting the individual aspects of its PR campaign.

      If trolls, then you should upvote the video, since you shouldn’t want good values to be represented to the world community as bad because of trolls. If you want atheists to be seen as moral people, then you should be enraged that trolls are making us seem immoral and even opposed to being moral.

      If atheists who think the values I promote in the video are bad, then do you agree with them or not? If not, then you should upvote the video to counter their vote and communicate to the world community that they don’t represent you.

      But if you do agree with them, then please explain what values in my video are bad.

      If you cannot (in any honest way that actually references what was actually said in the video) then you have no honest reason to downvote the video.

      Otherwise, by all means do so. Then your vote will actually represent the values you (an atheist) reject. And Christians and anyone else who watches the video will see what values atheists downvote. And that will be the story of you.

      I quoted that entire bit because I find it interesting that you carefully construct a model in which the only possible way in which I can downvote your video is if I disagree with your core values. I’ve taken great pains to avoid name-calling as best I can, but you are outright arrogant. The possibility that you might be anything less than absolutely right about anything hasn’t so much as crossed your mind, has it?

      I repeat; saying ”Everybody should be reasonable” does not get you any brownie points. I can declare there should be no more war, but I seriously doubt it will change any plans North Korea might have. You want to talk about punishment for rapists, fine. You want to publicly shame men for glancing at a woman’s behind as she walks by, I think you’re going too far. As I said, your definition of things like sexual harassment are important.

      Since you are a person in a community of atheists, this distinction is irrelevant here and has no logical bearing on the line you are quoting in the video or anything else in the video. You cannot separate the fact that you are a person from the fact that you are an atheist. And it matters a great deal whether you are seen promoting basic moral values as an atheist: because that communicates what values atheists in our community have, and dispels the theist’s claim that atheists have no morals. Do you really not care about that?

      Well, again, you are assigning yourself as the absolute judge of what should be. You think it matters a great deal that I should be seen promoting basic moral values as an atheist, I think I should promote basic moral values as a human being. My atheism does not define me, anymore than somebody elses vegetarianism defines them. I am not seen doing anything as an atheist, and I don’t think I should be. I might get together with a group of atheists and organise a fundraiser for a cancer charity, but it wouldn’t be in the name of atheism. I mean, what happens if some fascist movement starts up in the name of Atheism? Bang goes any good PR the fund raiser might have brought in. Atheism cannot police what people do under its name, so it’s better we keep it detached. Atheism+ can say ”The actions of this person go against our values”, and point to your clearly defined values. As can religion. Atheism has no clearly defined values, and, as soon as people start viewing it as a group of people, we’re all lumped in with the rest of Atheism, including the crazies. Humanism is a movement, Atheism shouldn’t be.
      You disagree, and that’s fine, we can debate that, but I’m not saying you’re wrong. By all means, show me where, in your impressive qualifications, you are qualified to decide what is absolutely right and wrong in these kinds of matters? Give me some kind of justification for your arrogance.
      But, seeing as you’re taking this route anyway, do you not think it’s a little hypocritical to accuse me of not caring about how atheists might be viewed as having no morals by theists, while, in the same post, dismissing my annoyance that you lumped a bunch of idiotic pillocks in with the rest of us by constantly referring to their atheism as they abuse fifteen year old girls?

      So you downvote the video because I ask in it that we should ask to hear more black and hispanic speakers speak at conferences?

      I am serious. Is that actually what you are saying?

      Really, Richard? Tell me exactly how my view that giving minorities and women an advantage over white men is not the best solution is the same as saying “I don’t want black, hispanic, or women speaking at Atheist conferences”.

      At no point in the video did I say otherwise. So you must be saying there are no women or hispanics or blacks suited to leadership roles in the movement.

      Now, and I’ve been back to re-read what I wrote here, and it was quite clear, I can’t imagine you didn’t understand it, so why accuse me of such a thing? Slightly trollish, don’t you think?
      I said people should be given roles of leadership if they are suited to it, not as a means of luring others who look like them into the conference hall. You say you didn’t say (imply, perhaps?) that, so, as you’re the one with the PhD, I will assume that I misunderstood you, rather than you failed to get your point across clearly.

      I don’t see the relevance of the point. I’m not advocating that we recruit rapists and rape threat enthusiasts.

      You evidently have lost track of what’s being said in the video at this point.

      Nor was implying you were hoping to recruit rapists. My point was that, while you may have met a number of atheists who are only interested in matters that involve religion, that’s just atheists you’ve met. I get hot under the collar when religion interferes with my life, but it’s not the only thing I care about. It’s another way of making the point that atheism covers a very wide spectrum. Again, you’re the one with the PhD, so I’ll assume I didn’t make my point clearly, rather than you misunderstood it.

      So you should fight none?

      In the video I specifically say at several points that individuals and organizations can even pick which fights to focus on. But we should be discussing more options than the few we’ve been focused on in our nearsightedness. For the reasons I gave in the video (which, conspicuously, you do not address here).

      I cede this one to you. You did say that. It seems to be in contradiction to a number of other things that have been said in the name of Atheism+, but we can’t address that here. In this video, you said that. My mistake.

      So if this is your reason for downvoting the video, you might want to rethink that.

      In reference to the Coca-cola remark. No, it’s not a reason for downvoting the video. It’s also not a problem I have with Atheism+. As I stated very clearly, I have no problem with this kind of behaviour. I just found it curious. Atheism+ claims to be founded on reason, but needs good PR to sell it? A good product speaks for itself. In any case, it was an aside, I apologise if my including it derailed your train of thought.

      So it is insincere of you to make an issue of this. You know full well it would be impractical of me to say “all atheist women”

      Coming from the man who took a comment about how to deal with a lack of minorities and women in atheist meetings, and turned it into a comment about banning minorities and women from atheist meetings.

      What’s “the feminist idea of harassment”?

      And what has this inference to do with whether the video should be downvoted? (an inference nowhere made in the video

      As I’ve said, I’m willing to provide links to all the feminist-like discussion (though I’d appreciate you not asking me to, I’ve spent enough time on this as it is), so, let’s just throw this under the banner of “not fully representing what Atheism+ actually is” as the reason for the downvote.

      indeed, you evidently could point to no example of anything you disagreed with actually mentioned in the video)

      Please stop confusing your refusal to acknowledge any of my examples as valid with this reality you seem to be inhabiting where there are no examples. We can debate how significant a problem is, but you can’t just dismiss it as a non-problem because it suits your argument (such as it is) to do so.

      Since I don’t even know what you mean by “feminism”

      Arguably, nobody can know what it means at this point, since feminism covers such a wide range of views. But, let’s try this one. You advocated educating atheists as to what feminism is and isn’t, as so many of us are “clueless” on the matter. Leaving aside the undecided issue of whether feminist ideals are right, or good for society as a whole, how will you choose “what feminism is and isn’t”? Who put Atheism+ in a position decide?

      This is illogical. “Some people stuff ballots …

      Just as I have thus far failed to convince you that my downvoting of your video is based on legitimate reasoning, so have you failed to convince me that it isn’t. Given the burden of proof you have placed on those of us that have come to your blog (pointing out specific lines in your video), I now challenge you to show me some proof. The current ratio of downvotes to upvotes on your video is around 3 to 1. If you want to imply that some YouTube “ballot stuffing” has been going on, prove it.

      … therefore no one should vote.” “Many people vote for irrational reasons, therefore we shouldn’t vote at all.” Etc.

      Perhaps your intellectual artillery is beyond me, but, having re-read what I wrote a number of times now, I still fail to see any part of it that says or implies that people shouldn’t vote. Really, you’re too intelligent for your own good. I meant only what I wrote.

      Because people downvote the video for invalid reasons, therefore no one should upvote the video for valid reasons?

      Invalid to you. Richard, you have created a world in which there is no possible alternative to you being right. At the top of this post, you call the people who downvoted your video “haters”. It’s not possible that there could be a single legitimate concern in the many dislikes your video received? And I never said people who liked your video shouldn’t upvote. Again, I meant only what I wrote.
      Let’s also look at your attitude toward the upvotes. At the top of your post, you say;

      Please go watch that video … and see if you can find anything that honestly deserves a downvote. Seriously. And if you don’t, please upvote it.

      Woah boy! This isn’t a this or that game. Who said that your video deserves an upvote just because it doesn’t deserve a downvote. The criteria should have been if you think it deserves an upvote. People are allowed to be lukewarm, or neutral on a topic.
      Another thing for you to consider is that, despite you asking your community to go and watch your video, and despite leading them with the upvote request, there are still many many more that downvoted, and there’s no rally call from the wider atheist community to come and downvote you—that happened all by itself.

      I’ve seen it work many times in my twenty years of experience in online communities. Whereas I have never ever even once seen “ignoring them” make them go away.

      I never said ignoring them would make them go away. I said your idea of social justice in the online space wouldn’t make them go away, either.

      So, factual fail here.

      Uh huh.

      Do you not care? If not, then you no longer get to complain when theists say atheists have no morals or that atheism increases immorality.

      Some atheist have no morals. If a theist told me atheists have no morals, I would simply point out that I have morals, and walk away. If they wish to talk about how they believe you can’t have morals without God, I would explain to them the logic behind how it is possible to have morals without God. I do not want to be morally grouped with atheists, because there are some pretty nasty atheists out there. I don’t think Atheism+ is particularly nasty, I just disagree with some of the finer points, and dislike the use of Atheism in the name, but there are worse people out there than you, and they are atheist, too.

      “I want to see the full picture, so please don’t downvote demeaningly sexist and harassing remarks” is simply not a logical mode of argument

      My “full picture” remark was in reference to trusting a community that moderates comments. Community downvoting is not moderating. I credit you, Richard, with not being the kind of person who would “moderate” a comment because you can’t think of a good reply, but how could I be certain that everybody who gets into a position of authority within the Atheist+ community would have your upstanding moral values?

      To make such a call without any evidence may be challenging to your claim to be a critical thinker. But that has nothing whatever to do with my video.

      And yet you call the downvoters “haters” without evidence? The moderation of your blog has nothing to do with your video, true, but my point really had nothing to do with your blog, I was simply saying that the “moderation” you spoke of in your video is fine for a personal blog, such as yours, but I would have trust issues with a community that had such practices. Especially Atheism+, which, thus far, has not been represented by the most upstanding commenters (on YouTube and Atheism+ forums). And, if you have some notion of telling me that these kinds of people would never get into a forum moderator position within Atheism+, you’re incredibly naive.

      But it makes no sense to say I have to support (even, literally, pay for) the publication of demeaningly sexist and harassing and abusive remarks

      Like I said, on your blog, do as you please. In a forum space, the community should do the downvoting (as you yourself advocate). I have a problem with the idea of a single person being able to remove comments because they don’t like them. They may be right, they may be overly conservative.
      This is, of course, a matter of preference. If I don’t like the way Atheism+ forums are run, I can just not contribute to them. I do not, however, like the idea of a forum moderated in the way you suggest. Others may prefer it, and perhaps they upvoted your video. I don’t prefer it. And I didn’t.

      If people see atheists as a whole upvoting demeaning rape banter 3:1, that’s you being represented in that figure.

      And I don’t want representing. Hence the downvote, and hence why;

      But regardless, there is nothing here you have identified as a reason to downvote the video.

      Is your opinion on the matter, and not an empirical statement.

      To the contrary, I made a case and asked people to critique it (even since my very first post), and revised in response to reasonable criticisms. I specifically said in that first post “I think the values of Atheism+ are to be built collaboratively, and don’t have to be dictated by me alone.”

      So, here you are perpetuating a myth, not a fact. The “lie” is that I ever dictated anything to anyone. The truth is that I did the exact opposite.

      So you didn’t dictate. So you’re (allegedly) open to reasonable criticisms. You’re still placing yourself in a position of representation for a group of people who didn’t ask to be represented. If you had called this anything other than Atheism+, there’d be considerably less opposition. Of course, there’d also be less people like me talking about it. Any publicity is good publicity, right?

      How on earth can we communicate our wishes and concerns at all, if the moment we do so we aren’t even listened to because of petty dislike of the fact that we have a pulpit?

      The continued dismissal of valid concerns as “petty” will not win you any friends. People listened to your message, and a lot of them didn’t like it.
      You have taken an incredibly aggressive stance on this matter, Richard, something that is not befitting of a reasonable movement that is open to criticism. A more reasonable response might have been to ask why there is so much hate, and discuss the issues. You immediately dismissed these dislikes, called those responsible haters, and responded to heaps of criticism on the movement with an inane request to point out which bits in your video are at fault. And, when you received said points, you dismissed each and every one in an unconvincing and brash manner.

      This simply isn’t logical behavior. There is no intelligible reason to downvote the video here, other than some sort of misplaced and ginned up jealousy of the fact that a lot of people listen to me and read my blog and books and ask me to speak at conferences.

      Once more; disagreeing with you, oh great Richard, is not illogical. Contrary to your apparent beliefs, it is possible that you are not infallible. As for your success, I have no problem with that. I’m happy for anyone to make their way in life as best they can. If you have an audience, give them what they want, take their money, buy a nice big house, do whatever you like. Note that nobody (that I know of) has shown up at one of your talks, hung a banner up outside the conference hall reading “Richard Carrier’s MRA Fund Raiser”, and started preaching about male rights.
      Just to make the point again, if you’d been called “The FreeThought Movement”, there’d be considerably less hate. I, personally, had I come across the movement, would have discovered the points I disagree with, decided not be part of the movement, and moved on without complaint. But you didn’t call it that, you called it Athiesm+, thus, you involved us.

      Downvoting a video because you ignore what it says is not a sound reason to do so.

      Ignoring a downvote because you can’t possibly imagine a world in which you are not 100% right is also not sound reasoning.

      People judge us as a community.

      And that is okay with you? Well, okay, that’s your call. It’s not okay with me, so your video earned a downvote from me because I do not agree with the pushing the idea that Athiesm itself is a community.

      Ditto what humanism is, what socialism is, what democracy is, what Christianity is, and so on.

      You would not see this as an issue in those cases. So you shouldn’t in this one.

      Actually, I would. I would argue that the attributes that make someone a Humanist or not a Humanist are much clearer than those that define a feminist. Christianity, too, has very clear guidelines as to what a Christian is. True, very few Christians adhere to those guidelines, but, if someone were to ask what makes a Christian, it’s there for all to see.

      Just as atheists all differ in opinions, and Christians all differ in opinions, and democracy-advocates all differ in opinions, yet there is a singular definition for what an atheist is that applies to all atheists, and a singular definition for what a Christian is that applies to all Christians, and a single definition of what advocating democracy means that applies to all democracy-advocates.

      I’ve been making the point that Atheists differ on opinions (and morals) throughout this whole affair. Christians may differ in opinions in reality, but they have set rules for what a Christian should and should not do, and I constantly argue with Christians who do not, for example, “observe the Sabbath” over the legitimacy of their claim of their claim to being Christian. As to the point we’re discussing here, about feminism, there is a core group of viewpoints that, in my experience, are pervasive throughout feminism, regardless of the differing opinions on other things. I agree with you there. And I find some of these viewpoints objectionable (please don’t shout “You don’t oppose sexual abuse?!” again. There’s more to it than that). These are the same viewpoints that I have seen in Athiesm+, and are the main reason I do not wish to be part of, or associated with, Athiesm+. Of course, we can’t discuss that here, because it wasn’t in your video.

      The reason Atheism is front and center is explained in the first two minutes of the video. Which once again you are completely ignoring.

      And the reason people are annoyed that Atheism is front and centre has been explained clearly, and you refuse to acknowledge its validity. Atheism is the smallest part of your mission statement. Skepticism is a multi-faceted thing. Humanism is a multi-faceted thing. Atheism one thing.

      … you do not seem willing to admit that you actually believe the answer is “not,” that atheists should have no truck with humanism or skepticism or any of what that entails. At the same time, you seem also pretty sure atheists should also be humanists and skeptics and, as rational people, should act consistently with that fact. The cognitive dissonance is clearly maddening. I feel for you.

      I do not believe that Atheists should be Humanists or Skeptics. I do believe that those atheists who arrived at Atheism through critical thinking (as opposed to just not wanting to go to church, for example), will often end up at Humanism or Skepticism as a natural progression, but that doesn’t mean Atheism should be associated with them. I appreciate your condescending concern for my mental well being, but, honestly, your perception of the outside world is so drastically warped insofar as nothing you say can be in anyway wrong, and nobody holding a different view to you can possibly be right.

      Here, however, is the concept you seem to really struggle with. Your movement does deal in absolutes. We are not talking about judging things based on empirical data, or hard evidence, we are talking about subjective matters. How do you deal with a troll? What constitutes justice? When does a flirtatious remark become sexual harassment, and so on. None of these things have a clear cut answer, and yet, when someone disagrees with Atheism+’s solution, you call them wrong. You don’t discuss the matter, you don’t listen to reasonable criticism, you call them unreasonable and wrong and dismiss them.

      It’s getting late, and I’ve already wasted far too much of my life on this, so let’s wrap this up. This particular quote was somewhere in the middle of your response, but I saved it for the end because, well, it’s pretty much the sentiment you have after every point.

      Surely you are not claiming this as a reason to downvote the video

      In and of itself, perhaps not. Combined with all the other points, yes. Add that to the wider aspects of Atheism+ that you did not go into (such as the aforementioned feminist roots), and we have a strong basis for a good downvoting.
      You can spout all the nice, well-meaning words you like on stage, but I daresay somebody could put together a speech about Nazism that was, itself, unobjectionable, if they really set their mind to it, it doesn’t mean we should like it.
      And, in any case, the audio quality was poor. Your speech was awkward, and we, as watchers, were not getting the whole story from your talk. Are you going to tell me audio quality is no grounds for downvoting? Or just tell me my ears are illogical?

    • says

      Aaaaaannd…still no valid reasons to downvote the video. And yet so many words. You’re really struggling here to try and rationalize your position. It’s exhaustingly sad. I can’t see any point in continuing to explain to you why your arguments are illogical and many of your facts are wrong. You would appear to be a lost cause.

  2. uberfeminist says

    I don’t believe you deserve a down vote. I think your video brought up some interesting ideas about where atheist groups can go.

    I believe ATHEISM PLUS deserves a downvote.

    I believe FreeThoughtBlogs deserves a downvote.

    Why?

    Atheism+ is a group that already exists. It’s approaching a year old. They have a forum. They have founders. They have a subreddit. They even have a “Block Bot” scouring Twitter for evildoers. If you want to go look at what they’re talking about, you can actually just go look it up and you can see what is on their mind.

    What is Atheism+ worried about?

    Only the most ridiculous things. Like boycotting Apple Computer. Or criticizing gay rights, and feminist groups for not talking about trans* issues enough.

    Without a doubt, the “Slyme Pit” has some ridiculous members, but they at least KNOW when they are trolling.

    A+, on the other hand, has some of the most self-important moderators on the planet.

    Now to FreeThoughtBlogs.

    Did you read about what happened to EllenBeth Wachs, or Julian? Did you read PZ’s rationalization of what happened? Do you think this is at all ‘free thought’?

    A+ and FTB fans are often tribal, judgmental and hypocritical, which you one cannot afford to be when trying to address apparently serious issues.

    • says

      I fail to see the logic of this argument.

      “Atheists already have forums etc. therefore all atheism videos deserve a downvote” would be recognized by all as an irrational argument. Likewise “some atheists are mean or advocate bad ideas, therefore all atheism videos deserve a downvote.” Yet these are essentially your arguments (just replace “atheism” with “atheism+”).

      I also have no idea what you are talking about vis-a-vis “boycotting Apple computer” or “criticizing gay rights.”

      Meanwhile, the debate in feminism of late is not whether they are “talking about transsexual and transgender issues enough” but whether feminists accept transsexual women and the concerns and issues of transsexual women as feminist concerns and issues (and there they are right: to reject transsexual women from feminist discourse is a betrayal of the principles of feminism).

      Finally, how PZ moderates his blog has fuck all to do with me and Atheism+. If you can’t even grasp that, you are way out on the fringes of illogical thinking and are an embarrassment to atheism.

    • uberfeminist says

      Well perhaps where I go wrong is I see AtheismPlus as a brand, and not as much in itself as descriptive of people.

      I kind of “get it” when you say one need not identify as A+ to support the general direction, but I can’t get past it all falling apart when someone that is *explicitly* A+ going somewhere that I don’t necessarily agree with.

      I generally support AA and FFRF simply because they don’t make a huge number of assumptions about my beliefs in American immigration or economic policy, for example. The moment they did, I would run as fast as I could as far as I could.

      I would go as far as to suggest that the only reason that Dave Silverman has an audience is that he isn’t found voicing his opinion on subjects like global warming and social housing.

      Regarding Apple Computer and criticizing gay rights – this is precisely what plenty of “harassers” have been trying to document. There are plenty of people that think “social justice” and “feminism” means voicing opinions that would make Marx look like a capitalist.

      Those that think the topic of the day is distracting, shortsighted and childish are quickly labelled “h8ers” anyhow. This is perhaps why your video ended up being so divisive – it is no fault of your own.

      As for moderation of PZ’s blog, I thought that would be relevant to your interests as he’s basically blog king around here, and the events are simply a more visible version of what has happened hundreds of times already.

      Perhaps think of it this way: The problem isn’t so much that atheism has a cabal of sexists and racists that need to be excommunicated, but that “atheism plus” today has a cabal of vindictive, libelous, ultra-left ideologues that ruin the party for newcomers.

    • says

      Yet in my video I specifically said orgs (like AA and FFRF) don’t have to make any assumptions about such things as “beliefs in American immigration or economic policy.” I even went on in that video about how it would be nice to host reasonable debates between atheists on just such issues, with atheists of different beliefs on such matters making courteous, logical, empirical arguments to each other about them.

      So, it would seem, you aren’t even watching the video you claim to be commenting on.

      My video doesn’t call for any of the things you are referring to, in fact. So how can those things, which aren’t in it, be the cause of the video itself being “divisive”?

      If Christians behaved this way, you would denounce them as irrational. Imagine if they said to you “some atheists are Marxists, therefore all videos about atheism are divisive.” How would you react? Be honest. What if they downvoted all your videos about atheism, en masse, and you asked why, and they said “because some atheists are Marxists”? How would you react to that? Be honest.

      Finally, PZ is not “blog king.” I have no idea what you think goes on here, but every blogger in this network is not interfered with by PZ and does not take orders from him, and every blogger here runs their own comments policy in their own way, as each is comfortable or prefers.

      However, if you can find an actual instance of gratuitous sexism or sexual harassment in his comments that you believe should in fact be deleted or denounced in accord with my call to do so, then do let me know, and I’ll kindly ask that he do it. (Except for his Thunderdomes, which he explicitly says are unmoderated and explicitly warns readers of that fact before they go in.)

      As for your closing remarks, that’s all a fine fantasy, but until you can point to any clear instances of me being a “vindictive, libelous, ultra-left ideologue,” it seems that you are the one being the “vindictive, libelous ideologue.” The more so if you can’t find anything in the video in question here that you object to. Which you seem to have conceded you cannot.

    • says

      Shorter uberfeminist, the slymepit are shit but they are not even trying so you cannot criticise them, FtBs and A+ are actually trying so any perceived imperfections need to be amplified and pounced on.

      Only the most ridiculous things. Like boycotting Apple Computer. Or criticizing gay rights, and feminist groups for not talking about trans* issues enough.

      So anyone mentions a boycott of Apple and its now official A+ “dogma” according to you? I read that thread and plenty of people use Apple products and probably will continue to!

      Your understanding of how some gay and feminist groups shit on trans* people leads me to think you are no “uber” anything, let alone a feminist. Nice you think that TERFs pissing on trans* people is a “ridiculous” thing to be discussing.

      BTW If anyone thinks that “uberfeminist” and his cronies are ppl they really want to have a conversation with on Twitter you might want to avoid @the_block_bot he is talking about. As it blocks him and his idiot friends.

      Also now added is @hashspamkiller to clear uber-spammers like him and the Vaculator from hash tags like #aacon13, #wiscfi and this weekend -> #skeptech.

    • says

      [Just FYI, UberF still hasn't pointed to anywhere these things are even claimed ("like boycotting Apple Computer. Or criticizing gay rights, and feminist groups for not talking about trans* issues enough").]

    • uberfeminist says

      Regarding Atheism+ forum and their hatred of the HRC and Apple, I deliberately didn’t link to my own blog because I think that would be a douche move on my part (and you wouldn’t like the content anyways)

      But here some select posts if you want to check it out:

      http://uberfeminist.blogspot.com/2012/12/atheismplus-to-save-us-from-apple.html
      http://uberfeminist.blogspot.com/2013/04/atheismplus-hates-human-rights-campaign.html
      http://uberfeminist.blogspot.com/2012/12/dont-talk-about-sexism.html
      http://uberfeminist.blogspot.com/2013/01/morally-appropriate-foods.html
      http://uberfeminist.blogspot.com/2013/01/limericks-from-patriarchy.html

      oolon wrote: “Nice you think that TERFs pissing on trans* people is a “ridiculous” thing to be discussing.”

      I happen to think it’s an important thing to discuss. However we need not discuss it with the hatred and vitriol that the A+ forums show.

      As for PZ, you will *never* find me accusing him of sexual harassment. What you will find me doing is accusing him of a double standard, as was the entire “dongle gate” situation.

    • says

      You deliberately didn’t link to your own blog?

      All you have us was links to your own blog.

      What am I missing here?

      Anyway, the links in them (to the actual A+ forums) only show some random few Atheism+ people discussing whether we should take any action to protest Apple’s labor policies, and never coming to any resolution.

      That’s weak tea, dude.

      Likewise all your other examples. Finding people discussing whether to do something is not the same thing as finding them doing it. And if some few atheists do certain things (like not eat meat), that has no bearing on whether that’s the consensus view in atheism. As for atheism, so for atheism+.

      Honestly. Some atheists are Marxist terrorists. Do you then say atheism endorses Marxist terrorism?

      I should not have to explain this. Really. This is critical thinking 101. Reference “false generalization” and “non sequitur.”

      As for PZ, you will *never* find me accusing him of sexual harassment. What you will find me doing is accusing him of a double standard.

      I don’t know what that means here. Are you saying he sexually harassed you or let men be sexually harassed?

    • uberfeminist says

      I’m saying PZ often accuses other people of sexual harassment when all they’ve done is engage in behavior that PZ himself has engaged in.

      Example: The entire donglegate fiasco. Some guy makes SOMEWHAT inappropriate joke, gets his face on Twitter and gets fired.

      PZ thinks this naming&shaming on Twitter is just awesome, however the same criticisms could also be applied to PZ because of all the insane things he’s said at conferences and on Twitter could qualify as sexual harassment or creating a ‘sexualized environment’.

      “As for atheism, so for atheism+. Honestly. Some atheists are Marxist terrorists. Do you then say atheism endorses Marxist terrorism?”

      No, I’m saying that the Marxist terrorists happen to agree on certain things.

      Atheism+, as you know, has a constitution. A manifesto if you will. Founding documents. It isn’t just a grab-bag of people, it is a specific group of people trying to define what “social justice” means.

      And it’s clear they already have constraints because they’ve already excommunicated people that didn’t agree with them on several issues, particularly ones related to feminism.

      And, if you disagree vehemently with them on what constitutes “social justice”, you are apparently a misogynist, libertarian, harasser, or CHUD. What am I misunderstanding?

    • says

      I see. So you don’t think the demeaning and belittling behavior of the “joker” at that tech conference should have been brought to anyone’s attention.

      You are clearly on a different plane of existence than the rest of us. Bad behavior that never gets called out never gets changed. Respect for women speakers will not happen if disrespect for women speakers comes at no cost.

      I disagree with the decision to fire the individual, but that wasn’t Adria’s call. He should have been reprimanded, certainly, and warned to act respectful of others in future when on company business. And that could only have happened if the misbehavior was called to his employer’s attention.

      So you are simply incorrect to suggest that “harassment” (which this is not a case of) is the same thing as calling out disrespectful and sexist behavior (which this is a case of).

      Atheism+, as you know, has a constitution. A manifesto if you will.

      Actually, humanism has a manifesto (three of them, in fact). We have living and evolving documents and commentaries by diverse decentralized writers.

      It doesn’t matter who is writing to discuss the goals and values of A+. What matters is whether you agree with the goals and values of A+.

      And, if you disagree vehemently with them on what constitutes “social justice”, you are apparently a misogynist, libertarian, harasser, or CHUD. What am I misunderstanding?

      That’s bullshit. If you demean and harass women, you’re a CHUD. If you merely disagree on how to solve the problems of the world, you’re one of us.

      If you advocate against progressive solutions to evidenced injustices and for libertarian ones instead, then your a libertarian…and can fully be that and still fully on board with A+ (as I explained last year). You just have to argue from facts and logic and not armchair ideology, and be courteous, thoughtful and reasonable doing so.

      But if you repudiate the goals and values of A+ and argue no one should support them, then yes, you are an asshole. Not a CHUD or a misogynist or a harasser. Just an ordinary run of the mill asshole.

      Only someone who voices or displays unambiguous hatred for women is a misogynist (someone who displays ambiguous hatred for women only might be a misogynist, so one may be wary but uncertain…not everything is black and white, not everything is certain). And only someone who actually harasses people is a harasser. Though someone who defends harassment is toxic and disturbing.

      Are we clear?

    • uberfeminist says

      Indeed, I don’t think all bad behavior needs to be documented on Twitter. Or reality television.

      I don’t think Survivor is the pinnacle of human entertainment. I don’t think TMZ should be judge, jury and executioner.

      I don’t need to know what Lindsay Lohan did last week, nor do I think it’s healthy that I be made aware of it.

      Humanism may have its manifestos, and I may or may not be a member of humanist groups. I’m sure there are plenty I would not like to be a part of.

      There are plenty of people that might not be a part of American Atheists because they don’t like Silverman or O’Hair, for example, yet they might be members of CFI or .

      I think we’re more or less clear. My association with A+ may depend on someone blazing that libertarian trail.

  3. johngreg says

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

    Like PeeZus, Clarke, Ophie, Watson, et al, you are doing a truly grand and fine job of proving your own idiocy.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

    The real world laughs, not along with you but, at you.

    • says

      I allowed this remark through moderation to serve as an example of the childish bullshit we constantly get from these haters.

      I am also doing this to make something clear: from now on, remarks like this will be marked as spam. And I never check my spam folder. That means if you ever send me shit like this, I might never again see any comments you send to my site. So you don’t get to complain that I’m not allowing through legitimate comments you might make, because I might not even know you made them. In short, if you act like a childish dick once, you lose any privileges you may have had here.

  4. says

    One possible way to deal with this problem is to start a facebook page for lists of the urls of any and all harassing comments made to women or men atheists. This would be agreed on and publicized by all major atheist and related groups. That way we can view the offending comments and respond to them as they occur rather than via hearsay or indirectly. It’s important that we deal with this problem asap since we want to assure women atheists of their safety at conventions and on the internet. Also dishonorable right-wing sites such as conservapedia are now having a field day with this issue and it’s important that we respond quickly..

    • says

      That’s a lot of work. But if someone has the time and the stomach, it could do some good. Note that there already is something like this: the Skepchick network and Ophelia Benson both continually report this stuff on their blogs, with links. Although do note a lot of the harassment is by email and is anonymous, so there is less we can do about that, although cleaning up the public stuff I suspect would have a collateral effect on the private stuff.

      In the meantime, just condemn it when you see it or are directed to where it is. The more people who consistently do this, the more of an effect we will have.

  5. says

    I doubt anyone can find anything objectionable in the video, but the main theme of the naysayers is that your presentation is a front for a lot of objectionable behavior from A+ communities.

    • says

      Because that makes sense. “I don’t like how atheist x behaves, therefore I will downvote all videos promoting atheism, even when they have nothing to do with atheist x” is not a behavior anyone would deem rational; putting “atheist+” in for “atheist” makes no improvement on the logic.

      (One could also challenge the premise, of course. Often when they complain of “objectionable” behavior they mean reactions to objectionable behavior from the complainers themselves: the strategy appears to be, go harass someone, then when you get a reaction, accuse them of being mean. Or someone acts like a douchebag, gets called a douchebag, then complains about the tone of the discourse. Or they invade a space they don’t belong in, and complain about censorship when they are kicked out. Or they try to derail a conversation, are called out for it, then complain about being called out for derailing the conversation. Or they don’t like the politics of most x, assume one has to adopt those politics to be an x, and then attacks x for that false inference, which is like a snake eating its own tail. And so on. It’s actually pretty hard to find any actually objectionable behavior from atheism plus advocates, and when you count up the actual instances, it’s no greater than the amount of objectionable behavior from all atheists whatever. Which gets us back to the irrationality of “I don’t like how atheist x behaves, therefore I will downvote all videos promoting atheism, even when they have nothing to do with atheist x,” reminding us of the analogy it bears to this case.)

  6. siodine says

    So you know where I’m coming from, I haven’t been following the whole A+ thing or your blog very closely. I’m frequently annoyed by “popular” feminism as I am with “popular” atheism and “popular” skepticism — all them being typically ignorant, retrograde and leaning towards dogmatism rather than clear and rational thought of the kind you find in most academic philosophy, for example. (I should add that I find the intellectual leaders of feminism [not the first wave], atheism [not the four horsemen], and skepticism reasonable.)

    I think the underlying intent in starting the A+ movement is admirable, and I found your exposition of it in the linked video levelheaded and agreeable. However, I worry about how the average A+ acolyte will change over time (and even how average A+ acolyte is now when they’re probably at the best they’ll ever be). I think it’s likely they’ll become the worst of the movements they represent unless A+ has very strong leadership or a “bible” that can reign in and constrain the mob towards a reasonable disposition.

    However, mobs can do good things. An A+ mob could make certain positions uncool by unthinkingly mocking their opponents, never engaging them in serious and civil discussion, and so on. That’s seemingly how the average person is “convinced” of anything anyway. I’m still worried about the unintended consequences and mission creep, though. Look no further than the movements A+ wants to encompass.

    My fears would be allayed if the A+ intellectual leaders wrote an open textbook that clearly outlines the movement’s intents, arguments, and empirical evidence for its arguments (which may be revised in newer versions). It should then be made taboo within the A+ movement to not have read the textbook (lesswrong has done this, but it could’ve been done better).

    • says

      The way to moderate a movement is to get in it and be a voice in it. Thus, for example, if you don’t want feminism to be surrendered to the radicals, be an out feminist defending moderate feminism against the radicals (as I do). Likewise atheism. Or any other movement.

      We do not need, and indeed should not have, “strong leaders” as the solution. The strongman theory of government is a consistent failure. We do not have “strong leaders” in the atheism movement generally, which is good, because what makes it work is the diffusion of leadership and influence, and open discourse and a large number of heard voices. The “four horsemen” do not represent us and thus are not “strong leaders” because there are so many more voices speaking and being listened to. Which is good. Moderation emerges from the mean of a large number of enlightened participants. Radicals will still exist, but will never dominate or control a movement.

      Mission creep, meanwhile, is a red herring. As a community we do not have as our mission the ignoring of morality and justice or the problems of the world. So caring about those things is not mission creep. As for individual institutions (not the same thing as the community as a whole), I specifically say in the video that they do not have to take these issues on directly, but can stick to their narrower mission statements just fine, yet still do things to support the wider community on these matters, and I was very specific as to how. I also address the mission creep argument in a different respect in the video: corporate charity is not mission creep; it’s PR. Ditto anything an atheist org does to the same end. For more on this point see Greta Christina’s commentary on What Atheism Plus Might Mean for Atheist Organizations and Lousy Canuck’s post about Mission Creep in general.

    • siodine says

      The way to moderate a movement is to get in it and be a voice in it. Thus, for example, if you don’t want feminism to be surrendered to the radicals, be an out feminist defending moderate feminism against the radicals (as I do). Likewise atheism. Or any other movement.

      That is one way to constrain a movement. And from my experience, it’s the least effective. Strong leadership is another way to constrain a movement, and I think it’s more effective than your suggestion of having more voices — just leads to losing the signal to noise in my experience. However, an even more effective way to constrain a movement, is to enforce feedback with reality. The sciences, history, and philosophy do exactly that to varying degrees. My emphasis on an open textbook that serves as a simplified nexus of the movement’s knowledge points towards that way (which you unfortunately ignored).

      The strongman theory of government is a consistent failure. We do not have “strong leaders” in the atheism movement generally, which is good, because what makes it work is the diffusion of leadership and influence, and open discourse and a large number of heard voices.

      This is a misunderstanding. I’m not advocating for anything like an authoritarian regime. I’m referring to intellectual leaders that understand the underlying evidence and arguments for their movements — which the average member won’t. You, for example, could be called an intellectual leader for the movement of more bayesianism in history. Being a strong leader in this respect means that people that agree with your general premise (and yet don’t understand it as well as you) defer to your expertise.

      The “four horsemen” do not represent us and thus are not “strong leaders” because there are so many more voices speaking and being listened to.

      I’m not sure if you misread me, or are making a different point. I don’t think the four horsemen are anywhere near the intellectual leaders of atheism.

      Finally, your point on mission creep being a red herring is another misunderstanding (it’s difficult for me to communicate effectively through simple comments like these). My intended usage of mission creep is more in line with A+ starting with reasonable motives based on the experience, knowledge, and argument of its founders, and then continually degrading into something else entirely that isn’t based on experience, knowledge, and argument but rather on ideology.

    • says

      In case anyone else mistook you as advocating the strongman thesis, let me dispel that Devil’s Advocate first:

      I see no merit in the “strongman” thesis, and it would be ironic to see a critic defending it, since we are usually accused of destroying the movement by proposing it. There is no historical evidence it works. To the contrary, decentralization of movement authority has always worked very well. Every successful movement in history exemplifies this.

      Moreover, it’s self-evident that if no moderates join a movement, the movement will not become moderate. Full stop. Only if more moderates join a movement than radicals will a movement become moderated. There is no plausible mechanism by which a “strong leader” can turn radicals into moderates. I cannot think of a single historical example of that ever happening, nor can I fathom any means by which it would happen.

      Now back to your more qualified thesis, that we need, let’s say, “compelling intellectuals” who persuade large numbers of the movement to adopt enough of their positions on things to moderate the movement as a whole. I’m not sure what expertise has to do with this, since concern for issues of morality and justice does not require special expertise, and one needs only to see enough of the reasons to be a moderate to become a moderate (there is no sense in which anyone need “trust” someone else to come to this conclusion; they can reason it out themselves).

      Certainly experts can and will influence a community in specific directions or in various ways, and do so by having access to and understanding of more information than most do. But no centralized expert authority is needed for that to occur. Nor should we want one. That is far more dangerous than decentralizing expert authority (Vatican model vs. Quaker model). Therefore, decentralizing authority is a far better model.

      That this means movements can change and evolve into different things is not relevant. All we can do is all, collectively, work to drive the movement in a good direction rather than a bad one, and that requires widespread and ongoing discussion and communication within the movement. The rest is up to history.

    • siodine says

      Moderates along a continuum joining a group that’s weighted towards either or both ends of a continuum will have a moderating effect — that’s almost a tautology. But look at political parties or any controversial issue with two or more sides, do they tend towards becoming more moderate over time or more radical? I see the latter. When groups of people are at war with each other, measured reactions and reason go out the window and mob mentality rules. It’s human nature.

      But I don’t think force is necessary to keep people reasonable, and I don’t think it’s desirable either. Strong leaders are intellectual leaders and they guide by forging trust with their followers (i.e., people that defer to expertise). MLK is an exemplar of this kind of leadership. I mean, imagine how difficult it was to see that such a movement needs to be nonviolent and keep it nonviolent. I doubt it would have been possible with a decentralized model. And recall the effects he had on contemporary radicals with similar goals. People will jump ship if they see another method is more effective or easier.

      Now, we might be thinking decentralization differently. Strong leaders like MLK can and should not only be replaceable but removable. E.g., if a leader of the skeptic movement, a well known biologist, started publicly supporting intelligent design, then another leader or potential leader should balk and settle the issue by confronting the person using reason. And then whichever person is right is right, and whichever person is wrong is wrong. This could potentially lead towards fragmentation of a movement, but if there are several leaders and the action is clearly wrong, then the group will generally defer to the consensus of their leaders.

      But again, I don’t think strong leadership (in the context I’m using the word) is ideal. I actually prefer a more decentralized approach where everyone is expected to know, using the MLK analogy, why violence isn’t effective. And to do this, you can’t just lead or sit on your laurels after creating a movement, but you have to educate — and make that education centralized, standard, and revisable.

      This is where expertise comes in. A movement like A+ rests on a body of knowledge — matter of facts. You talked in your video about research on the neurophysiology of transsexuals and homosexuals — and you recommend people learn about this. Now, from this specific bit of knowledge, you can then use philosophy to argue your prescriptive point. Now your opposition isn’t just the “bad” guy or “wrong” (in the emotive sense), but they’re factually wrong and philosophically naive! They’re ignorant and they need to be taught.

      And there’s a huge body of expertise to be used in the A+ movement. All the gender research, and all the critiques (e.g. Cordelia Fine), and all the science for debunking ghosts and shit, and philosophy to make a solid moral point along a real critique of religion.

      I think the ideal movement formation is one where there is a centralized body of knowledge from which the movement flows, and for which its members contribute. And importantly that centralized body of knowledge must contact reality through empirical and philosophical means.

      You probably already mostly have that body of knowledge, and do most of the people that you talk with. But the average person in your movement? They probably have a little of that, but as the movement grows, I see that amount decreasing, and I the average follower acting on tribalistic instincts rather than intellectualism unless they’re peer pressured into educating themselves.

    • says

      But look at political parties or any controversial issue with two or more sides, do they tend towards becoming more moderate over time or more radical? I see the latter.

      You aren’t a very good historian then. Parties in the U.S. routinely tack center just to survive. The GOP radicalization is actually historically unusual (and is showing signs of beginning to unravel for that very reason). Don’t confuse media coverage and punditry with actual movements. The media likes to create the illusion of radicalization by ignoring the vastly greater number of moderates (because they are “boring”). But to see what’s actually happening, look at what’s actually happening. Not the media facade.

      When groups of people are at war with each other, measured reactions and reason go out the window and mob mentality rules. It’s human nature.

      Not really. If that were true, the atheism vs. theism debate would have devolved by now into “measured reactions and reason going out the window and mob mentality ruling.” Yet look what has actually happened. Improved and more measured positions and discourse on both sides over time, while the radicals become increasingly marginalized.

      A movement that keeps promoting reasonableness of discourse will for that very reason not tack far from it. Whereas it is a movement that discards or denounces any call for promoting reasonableness of discourse that will become vitriolic and moblike. Note which side of the atheist movement right now is doing which.

      But I don’t think force is necessary to keep people reasonable, and I don’t think it’s desirable either. Strong leaders are intellectual leaders and they guide by forging trust with their followers (i.e., people that defer to expertise). MLK is an exemplar of this kind of leadership. I mean, imagine how difficult it was to see that such a movement needs to be nonviolent and keep it nonviolent. I doubt it would have been possible with a decentralized model.

      Once again, bad history. You seem to be reading out of a high school textbook. In reality, MLK was one voice out of many. They just don’t teach you about the other movement leaders, and the diversity of views and active debate within the movement on just such issues of how far nonviolence can actually be taken. The Civil Rights movement was highly fluid and decentralized and awash with healthy debate about how to proceed. No one “owned” it. And followers reflected and participated. They didn’t just pick a horse and follow it.

      But again, I don’t think strong leadership (in the context I’m using the word) is ideal. I actually prefer a more decentralized approach where everyone is expected to know, using the MLK analogy, why violence isn’t effective. And to do this, you can’t just lead or sit on your laurels after creating a movement, but you have to educate — and make that education centralized, standard, and revisable.

      This is more like what I say in my video we’re discussing here–that this is precisely the kind of function atheist organizations, websites, networks, and venues can and should serve, at least more than they presently do. Except I’m not sure what you have in mind regarding a “standard” education, and “centralized” is incorrect unless by that you just mean top-down but on a decentralized model; and emphasis, of course, on revisable (each org, etc., doing its own thing, while still informing on the evidence and logic behind different sides of an issue without necessarily picking a side, unless it’s a no-brainer, e.g. racism, pedophilia, church-state-separation, etc.).

      I think the ideal movement formation is one where there is a centralized body of knowledge from which the movement flows, and for which its members contribute. And importantly that centralized body of knowledge must contact reality through empirical and philosophical means.

      Centralized, no. But all the rest, yes. “Centralized” here implies one organization is supposed to own and control the movement, rather than many formal organizations and informal networks cooperating toward common goals while each filling separate niches of its own. Knowledge always comes out better when it’s crowd-sourced than when it’s “controlled.”

      Though we should not let this question of education and information-dissemination distract from what’s actually getting in the way of any useful progress on those matters: a refusal to publicly agree we all ought to be governing ourselves by the minimal values of compassion, integrity, and reasonableness. Right now, my call for this is being condemned by many atheists in the movement. Which is disturbing. If we can’t even agree on the most rudimentary human values to treat each other by, we may well be screwed. Because a community that refuses to be compassionate, honest, and reasonable, is a community doomed to its own self-destruction. The irony is that those who reject those values are accusing me of destroying the movement. When in fact, they are the only ones capable of doing that.

    • says

      “The way to moderate a movement is to get in it and be a voice in it. Thus, for example, if you don’t want feminism to be surrendered to the radicals, be an out feminist defending moderate feminism against the radicals (as I do). Likewise atheism. Or any other movement.”

      Combating negative groupthink with positive individualthink doesn’t work. It results in mobbing. There are enough of us now that if one organization or one blog or one forum has developed a negative and controlling clique, people who get chased off have other places to go. Not every corner of the atheist universe is infested with sexism, racism, and nastiness in general.

  7. tiberiusbeauregard says

    This article blows my mind…

    @Richard Carrier :
    Do you really think your video got downvoted because people couldn’t control their woman hating reflexes ?
    Or do you accept that there is the faintest of possibilities that your video got downvoted because of what you said in it ?

    No ? Let me help you out a bit…
    I’m just 8 minutes into the video and I’m already full of it … the same old song about the “good girls” who just wanted to start an intelligent conversation and received death and rape threats in return ? And as cream on top, that’s your hanger for lifting the moral finger and demanding this and that from the greater community…

    Let me give you a briefest crackdown why noone can actually take that seriously:
    I’m male. In RL, I do write (in another language though, who would’ve guessed?), I do speak on occasion and I get death threats. And I get rape threats. And I promise you I’m not lying, I had a male stalker once.

    And do you know why that is ? Once you open up yourself to any sort of criticism to an anonymous public audience, there will be people in this audience who will decide that they’ll try to troll you – in the old fashioned sense of the word.

    And once they’ve decided you’re worthy of their time, they will take their best guesses on what could unsettle you the most. They don’t threaten because they mean it, they threaten because they hope you’d believe it.

    And I’d go so far to say that this experience is not only well known to anyone who has moved on the net for a longer period of time, but equally well understood as what is is: If you visit the zoo, some ape will sling shit at you and make grunting noises.

    That’s what this is and that’s all it is and that’s it ever was and will be. And everyone knows it.

    And whenever you (or anyone else) tries to sell this wishy-washy everyday nonsense as something to be taken seriously, you’re looking like a clown.

    And no, you can’t shut people up by pretending that this hogwash ~should~ be taken seriously, because other than the hoax at the frontside, there is some bigger, hidden danger in the background. No Richard, there isn’t. We’re not a bunch of clueless teenagers who kill themselves over the thought someone might publish our secret titty fotos on facebook.

    We’re adults and we have to suck sh*t up in our lives every single day. And so will you.
    And as long as you keep on playing the condescending daddy figure for these princesses, crying their crocodile tears – we cannot take you, or any argumentation based on that scham, seriously.

    And no, this is not negotiable.

    • says

      If you think it is morally acceptable to behave this way toward members of your own movement, and that such behavior should be approved by that movement rather than condemned, you are advocating immoral and self-destructive behavior. Full stop. Nothing else you say is at all relevant to that equation. So either admit your defense of immorality or rescind your fallacious argument.

      I also noticed that you are making it all about women again, that women should just suck it up and take it (even though I guarantee they are getting far worse in quantity than you are; the reason I know this is that I am myself and know personally many men in this movement who say all kinds of things that piss millions of people off yet are getting nothing even remotely like the same abuse; I can also vouch for the fact that if I did, I would seriously consider leaving the movement).

      Thus you are derailing the conversation yet again into something that is only one fraction of what Atheism Plus is about. And next I expect you’ll complain that Atheism Plus is too obsessed with women and feminism. When in fact you are the one who keeps making it about that. I want to make it about all the other stuff in that video. I’ll be happy when we can clean our house and move on from the harassment of our own women by our own people.

      If you don’t want that to happen, then you are a heartless and frightening man I want nothing to do with.

    • tiberiusbeauregard says

      This must be a nightmare.
      I made myself as clear as I could, yet you strawman the EXACT OPPOSITE out of of what I said.
      You NEED to fix that sh*t. Seriously.

      (1) I wrote NOTHING which puts the described behaviour in the realm of “acceptable”. Because it isn’t.

      I’m a realist, I know trolling has 2 sides to it.

      A troll can try to pull my triggers as long as he likes – I will not change my behaviour. I will not take him seriously and I will not even pretend to care, be afraid or react in any way the troll wishes me to do.

      Not because “sucking it up” is a trained response tactic towards trolls – but because “sucking it up” is something you can – and should – expect of any grownup when dealing with hostile, but irrelevant everyday encounters.

      There is no such thing as a “safe space” in public space, even when you’re on your “own turf”. And there should be no such thing because if public appearance and discourse serve any purpose at all, then it’s to demand from you that you take a stand and defend your position against any opposition.

      If you’re unwilling to take that risk, you’re unfit to be there. And if anyone oversteps the boundaries of what is acceptable within the realm of public discourse, public itself delivers an appropriate answer to the perpetrator.

      What is private keeps private, what is public remains public. Keep it where it belongs. I don’t want to be lectured from a podium about who left what on your voice mail.

      What you don’t understand is so basic that it’s almost painful to point out:
      By lamenting the same old irrelevant sh*t over and over again, you’re showing utter disregard for the actual concerns people have and which you should adress, but almost never do.

      You might believe you’re entitled to stipulating what we have to care about – you aren’t.
      And whenever you, or the other usual suspects, act as if you were, you will -inevitably- receive your next, and well deserved shit storm.

      Go on, keep misrepresenting your self-inflicted damage as the work of “haters”, if that makes you feel better about your cognitive dissonances. I can suck that up as well. Can you ?

      I also noticed that you are making it all about women againErh no, YOU DID. I just answered to the points you made in your video.

      know personally many men in this movement who say all kinds of things…Well, that’s easy to explain – it’s because noone cares what they say. But as soon as you’re important enough to speak from a podium AND say something which is actually important enough to stir the pot, the trolls WILL start throwing shit at you.

      Did you never watch the video “Richard Dawkins Reads His Hate Mail” ? And if you did, do you realise that this was just the really harmless stuff, the top of the iceberg, the carefully selected stuff you don’t need to worry about publishing to a young audience ? But as sure as nothing else, he got tons death threats, rape threats and everything else with sugar on top. Probably a hundred times more than all of these “atheist feminists” combined.

      So far, none of that is even remotely interesting but it does make me curious though:
      Have you never honestly asked yourself why he laughs it off ? Why doesn’t he complain and whine about it on every single occasion ? Why is he not concernced about it ?
      If you’re interested in the answer, look at the 1st paragraph of this post.

      2) Me derailing the convo ? Hardly
      Thus you are derailing the conversation yet again into something that is only one fraction of what Atheism Plus is aboutYou’re missing the point. Again. Do you even lift ?

      At the time when you introduced “A+” to the broader audience, you made it clear (alongside the issue of “feminism”) that you are willing to place (un)questionable dogma at the basis of your future work and that you will fight the “unbelievers” whenever and however you see fit.

      And I appreciate that move because it was an honest thing to do.
      Now it’s time for you to honor the consensus amongst undogmatic atheists when they reject your proposal with a clear “Nay!”.

      A lot of controversial things could be said about “A+”, but some things are certain:
      “A+” is as attractive to the common atheist as AIDS is attractive to lovers. It’s scorched earth. It’s a buzz word and a conversation stopper.

      And that’s not because you’ve been misunderstood – it’s because you have been understood.

      Come to terms with it.
      And don’t expect anyone to drink holy water from the well we know you have poisoned so carefully beforehand.

    • says

      Your first argument makes no sense. We should be thick skinned and therefore not say publicly that we disapprove of the behavior? That entails you believe the behavior is okay. Your attempt to hide this behind claiming it’s about the victim not having a thick enough skin is just smokescreen. You are thus an apologist for harassment and for childish behavior and for unproductive discourse and for unreasonable behavior. You may be experiencing cognitive dissonance over that, or maybe you really do know that’s what you are doing, but know it would be unpopular to just out and admit it, so you hide this behind an illogical argument condemning the victims of the behavior rather than the perpetrators.

      The irony is that people like you then attack me for being too mean. So you obviously believe in denouncing such behavior when it affects you. But you don’t give a shit about anyone else? In fact, my behavior is vastly milder, since I don’t engage in any of this stuff–I don’t harass or spew bigotry, I just make arguments, and almost solely only in my own space. Yet you can’t stand what I say. Yet you think others should stand far worse without saying a word? That they shouldn’t even downvote it? Whereas my saying they should downvote it should be downvoted?

      You are thus making a defense of bigotry and harassment.

      Your second argument is a cute attempt to dodge the fact that my video is only a fraction about women. You are the one who keeps claiming it’s all about women. You here return to the same issue you keep obsessing on (harassment of women), even though that occupied barely a fifth of my talk altogether, and was explicitly identified as just one example of many of the issues my video spoke about. After taking that obsessive tack (yet again! …thus proving my very point), you claim this time that denouncing and downvoting bigotry and harassment is “whining” and “complaining.” The irony is that Dawkins was actually denouncing the mail he gets, even using it as an example of the moral bankruptcy of his opposition. Thus, by your own example, Dawkins is a complainer and a whiner.

      Your third argument looks very much like a lie.

      You say:

      At the time when you introduced “A+” to the broader audience, you made it clear (alongside the issue of “feminism”) that you are willing to place (un)questionable dogma at the basis of your future work…

      Unquestionable dogma, huh? You mean like when I said “I will consider these posts a living document. If from sincere and constructive criticism in comments I am led to alter or revise what I’ve said above in any way (beyond clarifications that can be well-enough addressed in comments themselves), I will do so, and announce the changes in the comments, so there is a record of them. Because I think the values of Atheism+ are to be built collaboratively, and don’t have to be dictated by me alone”? That was in my very first post on this subject.

      Either you don’t know what “dogma” is, or you didn’t read what I write, or you are deliberately lying about what I wrote.

      Your fourth argument isn’t even intelligible.

      “A+” is as attractive to the common atheist as AIDS is attractive to lovers. It’s scorched earth. It’s a buzz word and a conversation stopper.

      Why, though? You have yet to give a single factually true, logically coherent reason why you should object to anything in my video about A+. Indeed, the only part of my video you even seem willing to discuss is the few minutes in it when I discuss the treatment of women (you have still ignored everything else in it here, confirming what I said, that you are the one making it all about the women). And yet even there you have no valid objection. Unless, of course, what you are saying is that harassment and bigotry is okay and no one should speak out against it, but just suck it up. Even Dawkins, apparently. But you seem unwilling to admit even to yourself that that is actually in fact what you are arguing, and is in fact to date the only argument you have here, repeated in different guises.

    • stevecarlos says

      The worst part is that Carrier, and others, make the claim that these trolls are atheists.

      Tiberius, I’m sure when you were being trolled and threatened that those anonymous folks made all sorts of claims about who they were. Did some claim to be politicians? Did some claim to be police? Did a bunch claim to be the same thing because it had something to do with what you wrote and so seemed like a natural choice and also they saw others claim the same thing and so piled on?

      Now, Tiberius, did you take these anonymous folks at their word as to their real life identities and then drawn some conclusion about problems in that community of people? I’m nearly certain you did not, and I’m glad.

      When Watson and Carrier and others claim there is a problem in the atheist community because they personally were trolled by people and the trolls claimed they are atheists (or because the person being trolled is an atheist), then there is a big problem.

      THAT is what people are taking issue with and what has never been successfully addressed by Carrier and others.

      It makes them look unreasonable. But it seems Carrier and others are not capable of realizing when they have acted unreasonably publicly.

    • says

      [Notice how stevecarios is ignoring what I said about this very claim in the article he is commenting on. Commenters that ignore the arguments in the article they are commenting on are violating my comments policy. I am thus letting it through to serve as an example of what will get deleted in future. If you don't engage with what I actually said, you are wasting everyone's time.]

    • Klangos says

      We’re not a bunch of clueless teenagers who kill themselves over the thought someone might publish our secret titty fotos on facebook.

      Wow. Ever heard of empathy? Good to see that you’re clearly not encumbered by any horror at teenage suicide.

      So basically, you’re a big tough guy and you don’t complain about harassment therefore no one else should, even though you don’t know what other people actually experience.

      Gotcha. Everyone should behave exactly the same as you, or they’re a weak, ineffectual loser.

    • says

      Someone has already offered offline to transcribe the podcast, and I’ve sent Sobrado a query about it. So it might already be covered. But I’ll contact you if we need help.

      On your suggested locating of it at A+ Scribe, I quite approve. I’m asking for mutual non-exclusive rights (with attribution). If Sobrado agrees, we should be able to do that. So stay tuned.

    • says

      Argh. I need to get my home Internet back. I’m halfway done (i.e. right at the 25:30 mark), in case your other contact hasn’t started yet and wants to minimize the overlap.

  8. Skeptical Atheist says

    Your description of atheism+ is not what I experienced at the Atheism+ forum.

    I agree with and support the stated goals of Atheism+. However; I do have serious reservations as to how they’re being applied at the Atheism+ forum. Just ask Matt Dillahunty how reasonable and rational these people are.

    Atheism+ has the potential to be a positive influence within the atheism community, but it hasn’t lived up to it’s potential.

    Atheism+ will be getting a thumbs-down from me as long as they’re represented by unreasonable people.

    • says

      Matt is a good friend of mine. He will tell you he resolved that issue. Rather than condemning and abandoning Atheism+, he acted like a sensible adult and sought to fix a problem one forum had developed. And he succeeded. Which is precisely what we should all do.

      But do not conflate that case with just any. Some people do deserve to be banned or comments rejected. I often find people behave appallingly, then complain about the “treatment” they got in result. So I am wary anytime I hear that.

      As to your closing logic, really, think about what that kind of reasoning entails:

      “Atheism will be getting a thumbs-down from me as long as they’re represented by unreasonable people.”

      So, you should thumbs down all atheism and stop being an atheist. Just because there are some unreasonable atheists representing atheism.

      If you don’t see what’s illogical about that, I can’t help you to.

    • uberfeminist says

      Sorry to perhaps hijack this thread – but I want to ask a very specific question that seems to be relevant.

      Do you think, given that we agree there is no yahweh, that we will pick the same side on Keynes vs. Hayek? Hirsi Ali vs. Adam Lee? Hitchens vs. everybody?

      We’re all going to get together and sort all of this out?

    • says

      I don’t understand the question.

      Perhaps you are (very confusingly) asking how we should handle intra-atheism debate as to how to solve social justice issues, such as when Libertarians offer one solution (greater enforced liberty and property rights) and Progressives another (better government services and policing of injustice). I answered that long ago in Being with or against Atheism+, and again in the very video here being discussed, where I discussed the great need for hosting courteous, logic-respecting, evidence-based debate on these issues, and more public and directed sharing of information within the community.

      Indeed, one of the main points in my video is that these discussions themselves are needed and will be valuable. What each atheist then decides to do is up to them, only then they will be better informed as to the facts and issues, and Atheism+ consists only of asking that their decision be based on the most basic moral values of compassion, integrity, and reasonableness.

      Thus, there is no need, nor any call, for a conclusion on how to solve social justice issues. All we are asking for is that we no longer avoid discussing them and no longer avoid informing atheists about them and the different solutions proposed.

      Yet apparently even so modest a proposal as that cannot be endured.

      For some reason that has yet to be clearly stated.

    • uberfeminist says

      You called on us all to disown the a-holes.

      That is a very specific solution to specific social justice issues.

      It’s clear that people making ridiculous comments about minors on reddit deserve the boot.

      But where is the line? When are we having a conversation, and when does the banhammer fall?

    • says

      But where is the line? When are we having a conversation, and when does the banhammer fall?

      That’s a valid question very much worth exploring.

      That lines are blurry cannot be an excuse to do nothing, though. That’s like the proverbial mule stick between two water holes and can’t decide which to go to and dies.

      Clear cut cases require little discussion, as you note. Borderline cases are worth debating, and evolving policies sometimes can result (e.g. my own comments policy for example).

      Personally, I like to err on the side of caution and let things slide that are on the borderline of reprehensible (and sometimes I do that deliberately, so the behavior gets documented and people become aware of it, although then I will say I disapprove of it), rather than the other way around. But in people’s own spaces (which is their property) they can effect any standard they like. That’s liberty. In public spaces (like Reddit or unmoderated channels on YouTube), that’s not an issue, since all you can actually do is downvote. And for that, one rarely need anguish over whether to do it. It’s usually pretty obvious when it needs doing. To anyone with empathy, that is.

    • uberfeminist says

      Just as a side note, your comments policy is better than most.

      A+ forums, moderators will collapse posts if they think it minimizes minority groups or doesn’t include enough trigger warnings. They do their best to create a completely vanilla space for unknown innocents.

      And then on Twitter, people use apps so they can block you automatically if you’re on the “bad list” as maintained by some other people.

      So the discussion has fewer and fewer participants as time goes on. I don’t see how it will ever grow beyond a minority of a minority of a minority.

    • says

      I am not involved in A+ forums so I can’t comment on what their policies actually are. But what you describe doesn’t look like much to complain about. Those are easy rules to follow.

      As to blocking apps, why do you disagree with them? That’s human liberty. So long as none be harmed, do as ye will. And not listening to someone does them no harm.

      I don’t see any such effect as you claim of “fewer and fewer participants as time goes on.” Statistics show otherwise. The assholes and harassers are successfully ignored, while more and more reasonable and courteous people are listened to. That’s a net more people being listened to, not less.

      That’s how it works. And I wouldn’t want to live in a world where it didn’t work that way. We need more of this.

  9. says

    How in the world is social justice and equal rights “mission creep” for an atheist organization?

    If all you want to do is make fun of people who pray, go ahead. Or make fun of people who believe in Bigfoot. I won’t be joining any organization that limits itself in that manner.

    But that ignores all of the objective harm that religion does and does nothing to replace it with something more human. Or maybe I should say humane, because it’s pretty clear that humans do have the capacity to be narrow-minded — no matter what type of divinity they don’t believe in.

    We’re expecting ourselves to be better than the theistic community. Better.

    BTW: I’m not identified in any way with the A+ thing — I don’t “belong”, don’t pay dues, don’t follow any leader, don’t come to the baby roasts… But my eyes are certainly wide open where issues of social justice and human rights are involved. And all I see is one side trying to belittle people for advocating for social justice and human rights.

    It’s truly a bizarre attitude. Almost like a right-wing Christian fundamentalist. No…make that exactly like a right-wing Christian fundamentalist. And just as wrong.

    • uberfeminist says

      “How in the world is social justice and equal rights “mission creep” for an atheist organization?”

      Simple.

      Not all atheists agree on how life goals should be met.

      Example:

      Some atheists like cheeseburgers. Other atheists think eating meat is indefensible.

      Realizing this is not some sort of moral rocket science.

    • says

      Not all Coca Cola executives agree about that either. Yet they do corporate charity work all the same.

      A point you will only get if you actually watched the video. In which I used exactly that example.

      But of course, if you watched the video, you’ll know also that I didn’t call for very much of this, and also specifically addressed how atheist orgs can even help promote a more morally responsible and conscientious atheism without picking sides in any issues (indeed, I covered that in meticulous detail).

      It’s not rocket science. But it’s not tiddly winks, either. Life requires some thought and reflection and acceptance of complexity and nuance.

  10. Stephen Reed says

    While the overall talk is fine, I think what most people object to is the contact attention that some in the atheist community pay to the things that happen on the cesspool of the internet.

    Sexual harassment and rape comments are unacceptable. Every decent person knows this. We don’t need it constantly pointed out to us. Those who are making the comments know exactly what they are doing and are seeking attention from other immature sociopaths.

    The constant reference to these people and those who do the upvotes as being “hundreds within the atheist community” I think is pretty baseless. Why is posting a sick comment or upvoting such a sick comment suddenly mean that these people are part of the “atheist community”? The comments are almost always extremely immature and the “jokes” and comments are of the teenage male variety with sociopathic tendancies.

    Is there evidence whatsoever that these are the same people that attend atheist/skeptic/humanist conferences and meetings? This is the impression I get when I listen to talks like this that there is this rampant sexism throughout the community and that whether or not sexism is unacceptable is “controversial” (complete strawman in my opinion, as it is only “controversial” amongst the cesspool referred to earlier).

    Also, why do we have a responsibility to waste time in the comments section downvoting the comments coming from the cesspool and actively condemning them? They aren’t worth the time or energy. In fact, I tend to avoid the comments section on the cesspool sites altogether. Who has time to be the parent of all these immature sociopaths that inhabit the internet?

    The other parts of your talk about engaging in more social activism and broadening the issues that we as a community focus on was well stated. I agree with all that.

    • Stephen Reed says

      What makes them “our own people”? Just because they have an anonomous connection to the net and can click an up arrow or make a sick comment on Reddit (or what have you) on a posting related to atheism makes them “our own”?

      Trolls love one thing above all else: to create controversy, to get attention, to create division, to try to say the most offensive things to get a reaction. The best policy is to ignore such cretions. If their identities become known, then absolutely they should be excluded from any events and gatherings. If their actions escalate to stalking type behavior or personal threats, they should be reported to the appropriate law enforcement agency.

      Why is there so much attention focused on them? Why have we allowed them to do so much damage?

    • says

      It doesn’t matter why they do it. It matters whether we are going to sternly denounce it and do what we can to reduce it.

      Why is so much attention focused on this? Um, you just focused attention on it. Multiply by a hundred people who did the same thing you just did. See what just happened there?

      It’s easy math.

      I want to move on from this and start talking about all the other stuff. It’s all the stoneagers who are busy perpetuating or defending sexism and harassment who keep the conversation all about that, forcing us to continue making the same points.

      And no, ignoring them does not work. I specifically explained that in the video. It costs them nothing if you ignore them. They just continue the harassment and the advocacy and perpetuation of sexism. The only thing that will stop this is if it becomes expensive. Humiliating, ridiculing, condemning, and downvoting them (or blocking, banning, deleting them) is the only thing that works. It gives them the same pain they are trying to inflict. It makes what they are doing cost something. And those looking on will see that and think twice about joining in. They won’t want to be like them. And at the same time, the atheist community will by such a mass response show by its numbers how many of us have moral values and empathy and concern for others.

      And no, law enforcement doesn’t do jack shit about this.

      Finally, if you want me to arrange for you to be treated the same way as these women, for a fee I can ensure it. I wouldn’t do something so horribly cruel without your consent. But if you consent, and fund the cost of time and energy it takes, I’ll see to it that the same stuff fills your email box and any comments thread anywhere you frequent, in the same quantity, and we’ll keep it up for a year. Then we’ll see what you think at the end of it. Just give me those locations to harass you at, plus a budget and the permission to do it, and I’ll get started.

    • says

      So, their reasoning is, I’m giving attention to internet harassment, therefore downvote my video? If that’s what we’re dealing with, we definitely should be countering such illogical downvotes with upvotes of our own, merely in protest of that kind of irrational thinking. And even outside that, downvoting and voicing disapproval of harassment and sexism is certainly worth your time. Defending the victims of harassment and opposing the perpetuation of sexism all with a single mouse click or typed sentence is literally the least you can do in the sphere of being a kind of good person. Don’t you think? :-)

      [BTW, I want to acknowledge that you approve the other issues. So often these conversations get deliberately derailed into making this all about women and feminism, then we are blamed for making it all about women and feminism. So I appreciate your adding that remark, so we know that's not your intent--and shouldn't be anyone's! Thank you.]

    • Stephen Reed says

      Richard,

      Thank you for your response. I honestly didn’t realize that it had escalated beyond the sick comments on the internet from the unavoidable trolls to where people are being personally contacted and threatened via e-mail and the like.

      The comments are everywhere, go to any video on youtube with someone who is not caucasian and you’ll find horrible racist comments. Go to a video with someone who is even a little overweight and you’ll find horrible comments about that. Therefore, the kind of sexist/rape comments we see are not necessary a feature of “atheist community” but rather a feature of the cesspool of the anonymous internet.

      I think this is why there have been a lot of pushback on those who talk about out these comments, because anyone who has been on the internet for more than a few years this type of stuff has always been there and that it is impossible (in a nonmoderated forum) to avoid them. It is like a game of whack-a-mole. Condemn one, and another will pop up in its place. Therefore, when people within the atheist community point out these comments, I think there is a big tendancy for a lot of people to roll their eyes, since it is seen as just part of the unavoidable underbelly of the internet. Furthmore, to attribute this activity to those of the “atheist community” I think is unfair. It paints a perception that there is this sizable percentage of us active in the community engaging in this behavior and that women are therefore not safe in participating in the atheist community. These people are anonymous troublemakers and many of them are likely a bunch of immature/sociopathic/nihilistic teenages who don’t have an opinion about religion one way or another for all we know.

      Now, when we are talking about a level of escalation beyond that, where there is stalking behavior, contact via e-mail, etc., that is something worth complaining about. I think a lot of people hadn’t realized that there was this rampant harassment that enters into illegal (and obviously grossly immoral) territory.

      I think it is good to have these discussions, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why someone having a different perspective on it should have their content downvoted. You definitely deserve better than that and I want to thank you for all your contributions. I really enjoy your work.

    • says

      I disagree one point that might be implied there: that we can’t do anything about it. Denouncing and/or downvoting vile commentary is literally the least we can do about it. It demonstrates (publicly) that they don’t represent us, and that there are many of us with a moral conscience who care about other people and who care about reasonable discourse rather than childish bigotry. If we think Christians are wrong to claim atheists have no morals, we ought to act like it. And that was, as you note, the whole gist of the video. Atheists who attack the claim that atheists should act like the better people they claim to be, seems essentially to be agreeing with the Christians, that atheists have no morals–and worse, condemn any effort to suggest they have some.

    • doublereed says

      “Sexual harassment and rape comments are unacceptable. Every decent person knows this. We don’t need it constantly pointed out to us. Those who are making the comments know exactly what they are doing and are seeking attention from other immature sociopaths.”

      According to many, this is a matter of contention. It is obviously not unacceptable, because we are accepting it. I honestly don’t understand how you can make this comment, when it’s so obviously naive. Welcome to the internet.

  11. Sellsword says

    From comment 3.1:

    “Likewise “some atheists are mean or advocate bad ideas, therefore all atheism videos deserve a downvote.” Yet these are essentially your arguments (just replace “atheism” with “atheism+”).”

    Whether you like it or not Richard, social movements are made up of PEOPLE and how those people behave will reflect upon the movements with which they identify. Though you were not alone, your own comments about C.H.U.Ds and sewers back at Atheism+’s inception did tremendous damage to how it was initially percieved among a lot of people who might otherwise have been open to being convinced and a cycle of mutual hostility has continued ever since.

    • says

      The men who piled rape jokes and sexist and demeaning remarks on that fifteen year old girl’s thread are not CHUDS in the sewers?

      Explain why not.

  12. Skeptical Atheist says

    The last I heard from Matt Dillahunty about Atheism+, he didn’t want anything to do with them and vise versa. I can get quotes if you don’t believe me.

    Richard, You misquoted me!

    “As to your closing logic, really, think about what that kind of reasoning entails:

    “Atheism will be getting a thumbs-down from me as long as they’re represented by unreasonable people.”

    So, you should thumbs down all atheism and stop being an atheist. Just because there are some unreasonable atheists representing atheism.

    If you don’t see what’s illogical about that, I can’t help you to.”

    Atheism+ will be getting my down vote. Not atheism. Big difference, don’t you agree?

    • says

      Atheism+ will be getting my down vote. Not atheism. Big difference, don’t you agree?

      No. That’s the point. It’s exactly the same reasoning.

      The same rule of inference governs both:

      Some advocates of X are unreasonable.
      Therefore I will downvote all videos promoting X and no longer promote X myself.

      So let’s test the validity of this rule of inference:

      Some advocates of democracy are unreasonable.
      Therefore I will downvote all videos promoting democracy and no longer promote democracy myself.

      Some advocates of interests of the United States are unreasonable.
      Therefore I will downvote all videos promoting the interests of United States and no longer promote the interests of United States myself.

      Some advocates of compassion are unreasonable.
      Therefore I will downvote all videos promoting compassion and no longer promote compassion myself.

      Do you see what’s going on here…?

      Have you caught the fallacy yet?

  13. TMack says

    Richard, you’re getting downvoted because atheism can’t be spoken for by you and your group, especially when you’re mostly a feminist with a little atheism for effect. In other words, most atheists seem to be able to see through you.

    Besides, if you and your friends are too thin skinned to survive internet trolls on reddit, well good luck combating the real enemy of religious encroachment on free society.

    • says

      This is all very illogical.

      I ask atheists to be more caring about other people. And you conclude I am “speaking for atheism” (rather than asking atheists to be more caring).

      I write and speak very rarely on feminism but the write and speak extensively on atheism. And you conclude I’m “mostly a feminist with little atheism for effect.”

      I’m a feminist. And you conclude a video of me not speaking about feminism should be downvoted.

      Religious harassment is something we fight against regularly and passionately. And you conclude harassment from atheists is not only okay but our fighting it makes us “thin skinned.”

      That last is the most surprising. Imagine if a Christian, who relentlessly harassed you or your wife or daughter or sister or friend with rape jokes and anti-atheist bigotry, and then told you you shouldn’t object to any of his behavior, that in vocally condemning it you are just thin skinned?

  14. TMack says

    Also, moderating comments and being unable to “stomach” reading the comments on youtube is a sure sign you’re not cut out to be a leader in the atheism movement, or any movement. If you can’t see what’s dangerous about hiding or hiding from dissenting opinion as an atheist, then you further discredit yourself as a credible voice in the community.

    • says

      Hardly anyone reads their comments on YouTube. For example, Cristina Rad has publicly said several times that she doesn’t read her comments on YouTube anymore, either. For exactly the same reason. The quality of discourse on them is so crappy and offensive it’s a waste of her time to bother. That’s not bad leadership. That’s just good time management.

      Make a reasonable, evidence-based argument here and I’ll read, post, and address it (which destroys your claim that I “hide” from dissenting opinion). Violate my comments policy, however, and I will just delete your remarks as useless and move on. There is no sense in reading hundreds of repetitive lies and childish remarks devoid of logic or evidence.

      I respond to reasonable discourse. Not insults, lies, trashtalk or propaganda. That is, in fact, how all leaders behave. If they didn’t, they could never get anything done.

  15. Simon Winther says

    I am great fan of your criticism of religion, but atheism+ turns me away.
    While I can approve of many of the moral values you list and some of the ism’s associated with atheism+, I really don’t want to labled a feminist. I am all for equality of men, women, gay, straight, blacks, whites (and the list goes on), but I will not support one group (women) over the others.
    Now you might argue that feminism is about equality of the sexes, but it is not. If it were, it would have as many fights for the rights of men, as it does for women. Also it would probably have another name – like “The Equal Rights Movement”.

    Does this make me a hater? I don’t think so.

    Is it reason enough to downvote the video, as opposed to upvote it? I think so, yes!

    • says

      Note that nowhere in my video did I ask anyone to call themselves a feminist.

      Nor does being a feminist mean not caring about reverse sexism. Just because some feminists engage in it or disregard it, that does not in any intelligible way make feminism about that. Just as I can be an advocate for gay rights, without thereby belittling or disregarding the rights of straight people. And just as some gay rights advocates can be bigoted against straight people, without thereby causing any reasonable person to say “I will not call myself a supporter of gay rights.”

      Think this through. Replace “gay rights” and “straight people” with “feminism” and “men.” Then please try to find a more logical way out of the resulting cognitive dissonance.

      To carry your own analogy through back to its original point, though: notice how in the video I specifically say that the name is irrelevant and no one need adopt it, and that in fact people can call themselves whatever they want, and that all I am asking for is wider embrace of the goals and values I enumerated. I even used the analogy of the label “Homo sapiens sapiens” in place of “human” or “person” to illustrate the irrelevance of the label.

      Thus, I don’t care if you want to ditch the name Atheism+. As long as you pick up its laudable goals and values.

      So let’s not be distracted by red herring fallacies.

    • says

      Now you might argue that feminism is about equality of the sexes, but it is not. If it were, it would have as many fights for the rights of men, as it does for women.

      That would imply that men qua men have an equal number of battles to fight to get their human rights fully recognized and respected as women qua women do, in which case there would be no need for feminism.

      It’s pretty obvious from a cursory glance at history and at current events that this is not the case. You don’t even need to go to the peer-reviewed studies, although those will also confirm that women have more battles to fight than men do, all other things being equal.

      Basic logic: you are not doing it.

  16. Voiceofreason467 says

    Richard Carrier, I am writing this to tell you that I have watched the video and will be down voting but telling you why.

    1. You act as if we should take trolling comments seriously when their very nature is to cause revulsion and/or offense for the amusement of the people making those comments.

    2. You seem to be framing this in a way that makes people think that the individuals receiving these rape threats are in actual danger of being raped. Which is ridiculous.

    3. You point to a number of individual’s who have created their own controversy and have handled the backlash in a very poor way by attempting to get their supporters to shield them in any way possible.

    4. You lied about the reasons why people called you a Hitler and Stalin. The reason why was not because of the ideas you’re proposing, but because this “line in the sand” that you drew by attempting to exclude groups that would have been on your side, such as Communists and having a very Bush-like mentality of either “you’re with us, or you’re against us.”

    The lying part is exactly why I am down voting the video… and that is as far as I got.

    • says

      1. In the video I stated why what you just said is not true (to begin with) and also why downvoting and denouncing trolls has the added and much needed benefit of communicating to the public how many of us disagree with their behavior (thus disallowing them from representing us). I find it particularly ironic that you won’t downvote trolls, but you will downvote a video that doesn’t engage in any trolling at all. That communicates where your values are. And the picture it paints doesn’t make atheists look good, let me tell you.

      2. I never discuss the actual risk levels of rape in conjunction with rape threats in the video. So there is no such framing as you claim. I only mention that it is shocking and something we should condemn. You seem unwilling to admit this. And thus you invent a false claim about “framing” that ignores the actual point I made in the video.

      3. That may be your opinion of the people I mentioned, but what does that have to do with the video? Or with the behavior I was specifically condemning in it? Are you saying people deserve to be harassed and threatened and treated with bigotry and sexism simply because they say controversial things? If so, then stop hiding your true views and simply admit it, here and publicly, that you endorse the harassment and threats and bigotry and sexism directed at anyone who says controversial things. If you don’t endorse that, why are you here defending it by downvoting the call to condemn it?

      4. You are the one who is lying here. The only line in the sand I drew was against harassers. My description in the video is correct: I stridently attacked sexual harassers (calling them, in effect, sewer scum); then I said we should be more vocal in embracing and living by the values of compassion, integrity, and reasonableness–and instead of drawing a line in the sand on that, I openly called for discussion of that and said I might revise my conclusion on that point if good reasons were forthcoming (and note that to date, no one has said any of those three values were incorrect or that I was incorrect to advocate that everyone adopt them).

      So, you lie about what I said on some other occasion (which, that being a lie, is actually what I never said on any occasion), and that is your reason for downvoting a video that also doesn’t say any such thing?

      This is exasperating. What happened to rationality among atheists?

  17. says

    I’m against adding anything to the movement beyond convincing people their theistic ideas are wrong and that they have no place in the governance of our country. I have many atheists friends who have wildly different opinions on issues and contrary to popular opinion many of them are downright stupid. Many I know seem to be prone to wild, unevidenced conspiracy theories.

    When we add other agendas to the atheist movement we lose some of these people, lose focus, and lose power toward achieving the main goal. Once God is out of the way we’ll be able to teach critical thinking in schools and the rest of the problems will be able to be solved at that point.

    • says

      So, you are against atheists being compassionate, honest, and reasonable? And against the atheist community acting like a community? And against denouncing harassment and bigotry? And against helping more minorities get into organized atheism?

      Indeed, how you think we are going to get critical thinking in schools when you think atheists shouldn’t get involved in social issues “beyond convincing people their theistic ideas are wrong” is beyond me. That is a contradiction in terms. Education reform is a social justice issue. The more so when we look at the educational disparities between many white and black neighborhoods–a specific example I raise in the video.

      In suspect you haven’t watched the video, in which I explain why we, as a community, already are more than just atheists; and like all communities, ours has responsibilities; and even our goals of increasing atheists and helping atheists lead inevitably to other concerns, as I lay out, point-for-point, in the video. You can’t just make more atheists and not care whether they are morally responsible atheists or not care about the welfare of the atheists you just made.

    • says

      “So, you are against atheists being compassionate, honest, and reasonable? And against the atheist community acting like a community? And against denouncing harassment and bigotry? And against helping more minorities get into organized atheism?”

      I never said any of those things, of course I’m not. How could you reasonably draw those conclusions?
      I’m all for those things, I hope atheists behave in that manner, but adding additional agendas does not add strength the movement, just look how divisive things have been lately.

      I think we need to focus intensely on going straight for the heart of one of our biggest problems by disabusing people of their religious ideas and removing them from government. When we have a majority the rest should come easier. That’s not to say the other issues need be left aside but they should be separate from the atheist movement to keep it as strong as possible.

      Yes, I did watch your entire video. I suspect you did not read my entire comment. I said: “ONCE GOD IS OUT OF THE WAY we’ll be able to teach critical thinking in schools and the rest of the problems will be able to be solved at that point.”
      There is no contradiction in terms. The policy making Christian majority prevent widespread classes on critical thinking/skepticism. They are not allowed as they destroy the beliefs religious people hold so dear. We must stay on target and destroy those beliefs and remove religious control of public policy. As I said above, AFTER that we will be able to make the needed changes far easier as a whole society.

    • says

      “So, you are against atheists being compassionate, honest, and reasonable? And against the atheist community acting like a community? And against denouncing harassment and bigotry? And against helping more minorities get into organized atheism?”

      I never said any of those things, of course I’m not. How could you reasonably draw those conclusions?

      Because you said (emphasis now added):

      I’m against adding anything to the movement beyond convincing people their theistic ideas are wrong and that they have no place in the governance of our country.

      This statement then declares you are against asking “atheists being compassionate, honest, and reasonable” and against “the atheist community acting like a community” and against “denouncing harassment and bigotry” and against “helping more minorities get into organized atheism.” Because those are all “things” we’d have to “add” to the “movement” beyond “convincing people their theistic ideas are wrong and that they have no place in the governance of our country.”

      Think about the consequences of what you are saying. You just immediately retracted what you just said, by first saying you are against adding “anything” and then (when I called out what that entailed) reversing course and saying you are not against adding all those things–yet those are the only things I ask we add in the video you are commenting on.

      Do you see where I’m coming from?

      I’m all for those things, I hope atheists behave in that manner, but adding additional agendas does not add strength the movement, just look how divisive things have been lately.

      Here you contradict yourself in a single sentence: you hope atheists adopt all these things, and then declare they are divisive and don’t strengthen the movement. Which is it?

      The fact that some atheists oppose and ridicule compassion, honesty, and reasonableness while other atheists defend them is “divisive” in precisely the one respect any community that hopes to survive must be. The fact that some atheists oppose efforts to increase the draw and attractiveness of of movement to more people and to increase its utility to its own members is not an excuse to say that efforts to increase the draw and attractiveness of of movement to more people and to increase its utility to its own members will be bad for the movement. To the contrary, those efforts are essential to the movement. And those who are opposing them are getting in the way of the growth and improvement of our community.

      I think we need to focus intensely on going straight for the heart of one of our biggest problems by disabusing people of their religious ideas and removing them from government.

      If you pursue that goal to the exclusion of all others, you doom the movement to irrelevance and amorality. I discuss why in the video, at length, so I suspect you haven’t actually watched it (despite saying you did). Please do. Or watch it again, since you evidently missed the parts where I specifically explain why this notion you are promoting is actually bad for our movement. We cannot have such blinders on. Tunnel vision like that will not do us well. I list at least a dozen reasons why. Can you name any of them? What is your response to those reasons? Because you aren’t giving any here.

      For example (and this is just one example of many I raised in the video), working more as a community toward education reform is a very important and very necessary strategy for creating more atheists. To suggest we have to make everyone an atheist before we can fix the schools so they will make more atheists is simply to put the cart before the horse. If making more atheists is our goal, education reform is essential to achieving our goal. Ignoring the hurdles created by poor education will only make our work harder. And worse, will do no one any good. And atheists, of all people, should believe in actually making the world a better place. Because we, of all people, know there is no God coming to fix it for us.

    • says

      Again you add things I did not say and it changes everything you’re taking from it.. There’s a difference between asking and requiring. You talk about what atheists should be doing, and what should not be tolerated within the community. This excludes people, weakening the movement.

      I think a lot of the things you spoke about were fine. I’d love for people to behave “compassionate, honest, and reasonable” But this is the key: I do not require it. I have no problem teaming up with douchebags, assholes or people I strongly disagree with on other things to achieve our very important common goal.

      Leaving aside belief and behavior requirements I see no reason to divert resources from the fight against theism/associated issues to fight for equal funding for minority schools. I strongly support their cause but it’s separate from the atheist movement. If they wish to support the atheist movement I heartily welcome them.

      I think I covered why what I said isn’t contradicting myself in a single sentence. I guess I’m starting to wonder if the problem we’re having is the difference between your “community” and my “movement”. I don’t really care about building a ‘community’ or increasing conference attendance. I don’t see how those things work to change the state of theistic beliefs and their effect on our government beyond the videos they produce.

      I listened to your talk a second time at work today attempting to remember specifics. I remember you speaking about things that can increase conference attendance and making theists think we’re moral people. As I said I don’t see how conference attendance matters, do the people who stay at home not disagree with theism and it’s effect on society? Do they withhold monetary support from the cause because they don’t attend conferences? Does the atheists are immoral idea still exist in outside a small minority?

      I remember you saying it was silly when you hear people say something along the lines of they don’t care about social issues unless they have to do with religion. Perhaps they, like myself, do care about those issues outside of the atheist movement but want the atheist specific organizations they monetarily support to focus on those issues. Maybe they don’t care, maybe they disagree, it doesn’t matter.

      As for the aspect of education, like I said before a devout Christian majority is a roadblock to serious education reform, it is set against science and critical thinking. From what I have seen the link isn’t so much between atheism and better education, it’s between atheism and better science education specifically. I wonder if poor education in general isn’t the hurdle you think it is, I seem to have no issue convincing people of very poor education that theism is silly when I detail the case against it. All the matters is if they’re willing to listen and don’t have the same mental block that prevents intelligent theists from listening to reason.

      What issues did I miss? Is there a transcript available?

      If those defending the people you don’t like are divisive and atheism plus is divisive think let’s just drop it. The divisiveness ends. We were doing an amazing job of advancing atheism before we all started arguing about other shit.

    • says

      This excludes people, weakening the movement.

      All it excludes are people who are unrepentantly cruel, dishonest, and unreasonable. That’s it. At no point, ever, have I called for excluding anyone else.

      It is including such people that will weaken a movement. Any movement. And that’s basic sociological common sense. To say you don’t require people to not be cruel, dishonest, and unreasonable is self-destructive for any community. I can’t believe you really think that’s a good attitude to take.

      You need to read this article on the bogus divisiveness claim.

      I have no problem teaming up with douchebags, assholes or people I strongly disagree with on other things to achieve our very important common goal.

      You certainly should call douchebags and assholes people who openly reject basic compassion, honesty and reasonableness and especially those who demean or harass women.

      I’ve written in fact specifically on this issue, as it applies also to how we describe and interact with gravely immoral religious people as well: The Art of the Insult & The Sin of the Slur.

      I strongly support their cause but it’s separate from the atheist movement.

      No, it’s not. As I explained in the video, one of the primary goals of atheist orgs is to increase the number of atheists; one of the most important factors in increasing the number of atheists is improved education. From there it’s just simple math.

      Does the atheists are immoral idea still exist in outside a small minority?

      It remains one of the top polled beliefs among Christians, who remain over two thirds of the U.S. population.

      As I said I don’t see how conference attendance matters, do the people who stay at home not disagree with theism and it’s effect on society?

      It matters a great deal. It is one of the largest factors in increasing funding for atheist orgs and causes; it is one of the most effective factors in distributing information among the atheist community; it is fundamental to thousands of atheists’ social happiness; and regardless of what you think as to its importance, the substantive fact is that it is a reality: thousands of atheists are joining together to hold and attend conferences: so the community exists, whether you like it or not, which entails all the things I discuss in the video about what becomes the case as soon as a community exists (communities have responsibilities, needs, and shared goals).

      This is even clearer when we don’t just talk about conferences, but all the monthly atheist society clubs and meetups and campus and community groups all across the country (and beyond), which number in the thousands. This is a community. It is growing. The question is, will it be a responsible, responsive, healthy, and effective community, or not?

      As to what specific orgs do, I discuss that in the video, specifically pointing out they (and individuals too) can pursue any narrower missions they want. We’re not asking them to become universal social justice charities. I specifically outline what instead they can do to help improve the atheist community. You watched the video, so you surely must know this.

  18. Douglas Mcfarland says

    The reason it gets so many down votes is almost certainly because of the thunderf00t video that dis it and link to it. I unsubscribed to his channel. I had meant to do so after watching his critique of Anita Sarkeesian’s first Women vs. Tropes in video games video (these are the only two videos I have watched of his in the last year). My incredibly uninformed and unprofessional opinion is that he is neurotically anti feminism. He tends to myopically focus on a few lines and then imply’s that those few sentences represent the entirety of the case you (or whoever he is disagreeing with) are making.

  19. Rhys T says

    Why must you associate Atheism with this movement?

    Atheism is nothing more than a rejection of religious dogma. It has no intrinsic connection to feminism, social justice, morality, or other ideologies whatsoever. That is why 99% of people (let’s not be facetious with figures) have no problem at all with people being atheist. Even theists don’t mind that much, because atheism has no dogma, no values, no way that you should live your life. I struggle to bring myself to even call it an ideology; Atheism is the lack of an ideology.

    “Atheism Plus” on the other hand, is dogmatic at its core. You propose basic moral values that all atheists must follow, else they are “CHUDS” (a ridiculous attempt at dehumanising your opposition) that must be “denounced”. You propose that there is a fundamentally correct way to live one’s life. You propose that this “Atheism Plus” is a better ideology than vanilla atheism. And it would not be incorrect of me to infer that you would like everybody to pursue this way of living, no?

    Now completely disregarding the fact that you haven’t provided a shred of evidence for this; Why should atheists who reject your views be outcast from the atheist community?

    I am an atheist, but I firmly disagree with your views outside of religion. My views on morality are that objective morals are a lie. My views on feminism are that it is a good cause tarnished by domineering and irrational people. My views on freedom of speech are those of Voltaire’s: I do not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. My views on gay marriage are that nobody is bigoted or stupid in the debate, but that marriage itself is flawed.

    As you can see, we are most likely polar opposites. But ALL of that is completely irrelevant to whether we believe in God or not. And herein lies the problem with you labeling your movement as “Atheism Plus”.

    Atheism is irrelevant to your movement. All you do by mentioning it is fuel the belief that atheism is an actual ideology, one that is arrogant, aloof and self-assured, which is an utter lie. By tagging your views on to the word “atheism” you immediately destroy any chance of agnostics or theists that don’t share your views becoming open atheists. And that is not what we need in a world that is slowly becoming more and more accepting of the irreligious.

    While I disagree with what you say, I am perfectly okay with you saying it (a shame you can’t follow this view). But please, don’t claim to be representing a group of people you are not: A very large amount of the atheist community wants nothing to do with your movement, so find another name for it.

    • says

      Rhys T, watch the video. It specifically answers you first question. In detail.

      (Which is why I know you haven’t watched it.)

      Also, stop trying to rewrite history. The only people I called CHUDs were harassers (those who “publicly mock humanist values, and abusively disregard the happiness of their own people,” with examples given). I never, ever said that of anyone else. To the contrary, with respect to the values of compassion, honesty, and reasonableness, in the article in question I wrote last year:

      There can also be many other uncertainties and disagreements over whether someone or something really fulfills these values, and good people can fall short of their own values from time to time. The only issue at hand is whether we are at least on board with the idea that these are the values we should hold ourselves to, and with doing our best to hold ourselves to them. That is the question of what sort of atheist we are: an atheist who embraces these values, or an atheist who does not. The rest is open to honest and reasonable discussion, disagreement and debate. But we have to draw this line, so we are no longer mixed in with the atheists who refuse either to embrace these values or sincerely work toward embodying them, so we no longer give tacit endorsement to them or their toxic contributions to the atheism movement.

      In a future post I might explore further what I think the values of Atheism+ could be, beyond the general principles I have laid out here, unless others cover it better. And I will consider these posts a living document. If from sincere and constructive criticism in comments I am led to alter or revise what I’ve said above in any way (beyond clarifications that can be well-enough addressed in comments themselves), I will do so, and announce the changes in the comments, so there is a record of them. Because I think the values of Atheism+ are to be built collaboratively, and don’t have to be dictated by me alone.

      Which is the exact opposite of staking out a dogma.

      So, are you someone who denounces compassion, honesty, and reasonableness?

      Because if you’re not, what are you complaining about?

      And if you are, why won’t you just say so?

      It seems like you just did. You said moral values are all “a lie.” Which would suggest you have no qualms about being cruel, dishonest, and unreasonable.

      (1) And if that’s the case, why exactly should we want to be around you?

      (2) And given that cruelty, dishonesty and unreasonableness will destroy any community, how can your values not be toxic to the atheist movement?

      Those are not rhetorical questions. I’m serious. I want to hear your answers to both.

  20. ludicfallacy says

    Hi Richard,

    I’m curious if you intend to respond to Thunderf00t’s recent video critiquing this speech and the notion that sexism is an issue in the secular movement worth subjugation.

    • says

      I will this week sometime. That video is so appallingly off the deep-end I shudder to think that I actually have to respond to it–since it discredits itself. But it’s also disturbing enough that it does warrant an analysis of why it is disturbing, so when I find the time I produce a commentary.

  21. stevecarlos says

    Richard, the problem so many have is when you state with such certainty that these abusive people are atheists. How do you know this? Is it because the person being abused is atheist or because the ANONYMOUS, abusive people claim to be atheists? Please, let us see your reasoning on this, fill us in.

    • says

      Read the article you are commenting on. It has a whole paragraph on that.

      And in future, next time you comment on my blog without addressing what I said or reading what you are commenting on, your comment will simply not pass moderation (so you will have only wasted your own time instead of ours).

  22. DustinS says

    Dr. Carrier, the lecture you presented on Atheism+ was brilliant! You touched on very important topics in your presentation that my wife and I discuss on a regular basis. We as atheists already have targets on our backs from the religious community because of our lack of belief in god or gods and do not and should not allow such actions by these trolls to give the religious community a reason to further warp their perception of the atheist community.

    As for the parts of the lecture relating to offering more things that atheists would be interested in at local and national meetings and conventions is again spot on.

    When we booked our trip to Austin to attend the convention, we were excited at the opportunity to attend and meet and socialize with like minded individuals but the icing on the cake so to speak was the unofficial bar crawl that was scheduled to take place. Just a simple event such as that can attract members of the community who would have otherwise not attended (Note: we would have attended either way)

    Being an atheist does not and should not give off the impression that one gets a “gets to be an inappropriate asshole” card. I am with you Dr. Carrier that this kind of behavior should not be tolerated! I thank you for standing up and addressing these issues.

  23. says

    Do you really think your video got downvoted because people couldn’t control their woman hating reflexes ?

    That is not what Richard said. He said, and I suspect he might be right, that down-voting is often done by people who haven’t watched the video and don’t want anyone else to watch it, either. But what is really not cool is that the rape threats on Reddit are not getting down-voted and that they’re getting up-voted.

    I love crude humour, I love Chris Rock’s racial jokes, I love anything which is outrageous. But rape threats and rape fantasies, just like threats to assassinate America’s president or threats of terrorism, are not funny. Usually they’re made by people who have no sense of humour but desperately want a laugh – or recognition – anyway.

    They don’t threaten because they mean it, they threaten because they hope you’d believe it.

    I agree with this (and I’m not unsympathetic to your argument in general). This is why all forums should be moderated – blogs, YT channels (what is it about YT that produces those kinds of comments?) etc.

    Richard, I did indeed watch the video and I found that you made a lot of very good points, most of them not obvious. I look forward to listening to the interview with Tony Sobrado as well.

    The fact that many atheists don’t want to be involved in community issues unless religion is involved? That’s ridiculous. The fact that there is not yet a large diversity of content in atheism conferences? I guess people are both happy in that comfort zone and also irrationally afraid of ‘mission creep’, e.g. “I don’t want to talk about brain science, this isn’t Johns Hopkins!”

    I read one comment in the YT channel which was along of the line that they just want plain, unfettered atheism. Well, I suggest that such views are insincere, as I have no doubt that this person has very strong and informed opinions about other non-religious things which have nothing to do with atheism. And atheism in a pure form… so you make up your mind not to believe in God? Okay. So, that’s it? Yeah, like hell it is.

    I did note what you said about giving Atheism Plus its name – that’s when “all hell broke loose.” Well, yes, exactly. IMHO, if you focused on the issues rather than any hint of a label, there would not be these unnecessary dramas. You said it well, that the label is a convenience.

    But seriously, you also know a lot about human perception. 95% of the people who down-voted your video would actually sympathise or agree with all that you said (not that they watched the video) if you talked to them on a one-to-one basis. Too bad that people love to indulge in their melodramas before checking the facts. My opinion: measure twice, cut once.

    Good point about forum moderation. Sure, one can yap about free speech, but a forum host or blogger is not actually obliged to provide free speech to morally objectionable persons. Let those who threaten rape to set up their own blogs so that they can have free speech and make rape threats at each other. This applies to general trolling, not just threats of criminal activity.

    Here’s a further thought about the supporters of ‘free speech’ on their YT channels: some persons have made terrorism threats and some persons have made assassination threats against the American president. The FBI takes those seriously. Would those who threaten rape be just as casual about threatening terrorism or assassination? SOMETHING TELLS ME THAT THE ANSWER IS ‘NO’. But, oops, free speech!!

    Trolling encourages more trolling and makes the environment unpleasant. What’s worse is that most of the trolls are not actually as they seem to be. What is it about YT that encourages stupidity – oops, I mean, free speech?

    Either you ignore trolls or starve them of oxygen – reacting to them just fills them with more glee. So let’s starve them (just like how the zombies died in ’28 Days Later’, IIRC).

    I wonder if Atheism Plus is an easy target for Christian apologists. They might make easy work of the notion that atheists know they have no morals, and are desperately trying to bring them into the movement. I of course have rebuttals to those arguments, such as the fact that atheism per se is amoral. But have you had that kind of apologetical attack yet?

    FWIW I’m not religious but I have nothing against religion in and of itself. I’m not an atheist either.

  24. feedmybrain says

    I really liked the part about mission creep vs. good PR. Spot on

    Am I missing something or dies the android app not you vote?

  25. tkmlac says

    I left the following on your YouTube video, but I wouldn’t fault you for not wanting to wade through those comments to get to mine, so here it is:

    Richard, you said you’d disown those who reject your moral convictions. I don’t reject them, I just don’t feel quite the same way as you about them. In fact, there’s probably a lot we could agree on, but how we go about executing those morals, which issues are dearer to me than to you, and whether we incorporate them into our atheist activism should be left to personal choice without fear of being shunned or “disowned.”

    In light of the incident with EllenBeth Wachs and the Open Letter that’s been circulating, I’m trying to be more open about discussing these issues than I have in the past and am trying to avoid “call-out culture” type of blogging and addressing people directly instead.

    I will freely admit I’m on the Slymepit, I lean toward libertarian when it comes to free speech, but I’m far left on social issues and politics, but I’ve often used provocative rhetoric and insults to get my point across. I don’t think I’ve said anything worse than I’ve seen in comments on FtB or on the ‘Pit (in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever told someone to go kill themselves, which I see a lot of on both sides).

    I am putting that as a disclaimer because I don’t want you to think I’m being duplicitous coming here. What I’m looking for is some common ground where someone can say, “I don’t speak or the entire atheist community when I offer my opinions on certain social issues.” Because I don’t believe I am. When I volunteer for Special Olympics, I am not doing so “as an atheist.” When I campaign for my Democrat congressman, I’m not doing so “as an atheist.” Does that approach really deserve condemnation?

    • says

      Note what I wrote about this last year, in the very post I referenced in the video:

      There can also be many other uncertainties and disagreements over whether someone or something really fulfills these values, and good people can fall short of their own values from time to time. The only issue at hand is whether we are at least on board with the idea that these are the values we should hold ourselves to, and with doing our best to hold ourselves to them. That is the question of what sort of atheist we are: an atheist who embraces these values, or an atheist who does not. The rest is open to honest and reasonable discussion, disagreement and debate. But we have to draw this line, so we are no longer mixed in with the atheists who refuse either to embrace these values or sincerely work toward embodying them, so we no longer give tacit endorsement to them or their toxic contributions to the atheism movement.

      In a future post I might explore further what I think the values of Atheism+ could be, beyond the general principles I have laid out here, unless others cover it better. And I will consider these posts a living document. If from sincere and constructive criticism in comments I am led to alter or revise what I’ve said above in any way (beyond clarifications that can be well-enough addressed in comments themselves), I will do so, and announce the changes in the comments, so there is a record of them. Because I think the values of Atheism+ are to be built collaboratively, and don’t have to be dictated by me alone.

      Sounds pretty much like what you just said, yes?

      Compare that with the disinformation campaign led by the haters as to what I actually have said or meant.

      However, when someone “publicly mock[s] humanist values, and abusively disregard[s] the happiness of their own people” (same article), avoiding and disavowing them (what I meant by “disown”) is indeed what we have to do–those who denounce and reject compassion, honesty, and reasonableness are toxic to any movement, whether the Special Olympics or the Kiwanis club or the active Atheist community or anything else. It makes no sense to say you are okay with such people. It makes even less sense to listen to “those who denounce and reject compassion, honesty, and reasonableness” claim that it is toxic to the movement to disavow them and still think they have a point. (That’s like thinking a kidnapper in prison “has a point” when he complains he is just a kidnap victim, too, being in prison and all, and isn’t that just as awful and so shouldn’t we be as eager to free him as we were his victim?)

      Asking for greater moral responsibility from a community, asking a community to be more reasonable and honest, and more concerned for the happiness of others in their own movement, is not toxic. It’s the exact opposite.

      And when it comes to internal disputes, such as between libertarian and progressive solutions to problems, we can have reasonable and courteous, logical and empirical debates on them, and I explicitly said so in my video, as well as in my second article on Atheism Plus long ago (Being with or against Atheism+?). And yet, whether libertarian or progressive, we should all agree that downvoting and denouncing sexists and harassers is free speech, and unlike hate speech, is actually good for a community.

      It shouldn’t be controversial for me to say any of this. So why is it?

  26. Anonymous Coward says

    Richard, I share your dream of a world with less mysogony, racism and homophobia, but I am skeptic of the idea of an Atheism+ movement.

    On another subreddit, /r/chess, very often when female chess players are mentioned, people will comment on their physical appearance (hot, fat, etc.). Do you think a Chess+ movement is needed as a reaction to this behavior?

    Or do you agree with me, that this is a typical behaviour of teenage boys who are scared of women and should be ignored until they grow up?

    Imagine you are a moderator on a big atheism forum and someone new would show up writing a long and personal post abiout his struggle with his faith, how he was outcast and discriminated against, when he voiced his doubts, if there really is a god. He discusses his thoughts and the literature that he has read to now arrive at a point where he is looking for support in the atheist community. And then in one sentence in a very emotional paragraph he mentions that he is annoyed by black females singing in church. And he uses very bad language to express his emotions.

    How would you handle that situation?

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that every atheist community should be all inclusive and have no standards regarding mysogyny and racism, but I think it is a good thing to have different atheist communities with different standards, so that people like the imaginary person above can find their way into a better age step by step and not be outcast for only having taken the first step.

    I love your blog and completely agree with the standards that you enforce here, I just don’t think it would be a good thing to have them everywhere.

    • says

      Do you think a Chess+ movement is needed as a reaction to this behavior?

      Yes. Indeed, I’ll bet there is one (at least, there is in every other movement I’m aware of in which this is happening, such as the wider gaming community generally, the tech and IT industries generally, etc.).

      Watch my video. See what I say there about the name “Atheism+”: it’s a clinical label, like Homo sapiens sapiens; even if no one uses the label, the thing it labels still exists; and the thing that “Atheism+” labels existed already for a few years before it was even named.

      Carry the analogy over: in the gaming community, there is a rising movement, by both men and women, toward denouncing sexism and harassment in the industry and the community (the best vlog on this ever is by JimQuisition); it is growing in size and influence and is already having an effect; it just hasn’t been named. It might never be. Doesn’t matter. It still exists. And it’s still a positive good. And it should one day define the whole gaming community.

      Generally, when people act like children (or worse), they ought to be chided and shamed for it. That’s in fact how we become adults in the first place. That’s how we learn that our behavior is disapproved by adults and the wider community (and is the only way we can ever learn to respect the community’s values; that various sociopaths are immune to it is irrelevant to the fact that it is necessary for everyone else, who greatly outnumber the sociopaths). The last thing we should do is ignore childish behavior (much less ignore even worse) and assume it will just go away (imagine actually giving “ignore it” as parenting advice…think how well that would actually work…you know full well it wouldn’t).

      Your last example is unclear. Are you saying we should not denounce racism? (I assume “very bad language” is supposed to imply racist remarks; if not, then what? The analogy is of no use if it is not clear.)

    • says

      Or do you agree with me, that this is a typical behaviour of teenage boys who are scared of women and should be ignored until they grow up?

      Grown men, respectable men, men with children, daughters even, men you’d think, “Oh, he must be a banker” if you saw him in the street – they all do sexual harassment. It is not just a teenage boy thing. Why do grown men continue to treat women with disrespect? Because when they were boys they were taught that there are no negative consequences for doing so – comments like yours do exactly that. Teach boys and men that it’s “just” a teenage boy thing, and for some reason that’s okay. Either it’s OK, in which case there’s no reason to think that men stop doing it just because they reach their 20th birthday, or it’s not OK, in which case neither boys nor men should be allowed to do it without being called out for it.

      Women have been saying this for years but apparently you haven’t been paying attention.

    • FG says

      They all do sexual harassment? What a statement. This place is as poisonous as any dogmatic orthodox forum.
      You guy have serious problems with communication.

      Good luck getting your point across.

  27. says

    One question I have after watching the video, is what of atheistic libertarians? I only know a few of them, so I don’t know how they’d react to the call for more social activism as a whole, but I would think that would be a hard sell for them.

  28. says

    Richard, I just watched your video and loved it!

    The only thing I would have added is that atheists have been asking for progressive theists to do a better job of criticizing/putting the hammer down/whatever on their group’s more unpleasant elements. We questioned why they didn’t speak out against, for example, people who murder for Christ. We questioned why child abuse was overlooked and excused by so many people in the community. I mean besides the clergy, who had the most obvious vested interest. We called out even laypeople, because they still implicitly supported and approved that behavior with their continual financial support of, and continuing attendance at, the churches in question.

    I mean, we sort of expected more from them. Rightly, no? Why do we expect so much less from ourselves?

    • says

      That’s a valid point, but I couldn’t go there because I needed to avoid the haters claiming I was equating our problems with fraud and terrorism and child molestation. Of course, that those things are far worse does not excuse less worse things the religious do (like emotionally harassing its own women into compliance with subservient roles), but the irrational haters have a hard time understanding that the same principle applies to both. Dishonesty and sexism in churches is no different from dishonesty and sexism in atheist venues. If you think it’s a black mark on progressive Christians that they don’t denounce or disavow their fellow sexist conservative Christians more, then you’ll agree we should behave the same as we expect them to. But that requires a hater to (a) be intelligent enough to understand that point (that’s too optimistic) and (b) actually care about women in the first place (which is probably far too optimistic).

  29. stevecarlos says

    “And no, ignoring them does not work. I specifically explained that in the video. It costs them nothing if you ignore them. They just continue the harassment and the advocacy and perpetuation of sexism. The only thing that will stop this is if it becomes expensive. Humiliating, ridiculing, condemning, and downvoting them (or blocking, banning, deleting them) is the only thing that works. It gives them the same pain they are trying to inflict. It makes what they are doing cost something. And those looking on will see that and think twice about joining in. They won’t want to be like them. And at the same time, the atheist community will by such a mass response show by its numbers how many of us have moral values and empathy and concern for others.”

    Richard, you need a lesson in how trolls work. I have been dumb enough to get suck in by a few. They live off of derision and negative attention and getting a rise out of another person. The best thing to do with a troll is simply ignore them. They are like a bully/class clown at the back of the room hurling insults to see a reaction. The problem is that they are anonymous and so you cannot send them to the principal’s office. All you can do is remove from them the gratification they get from being interacted with and getting under your skin.

    A fair bit of the reaction to these trolls has been feeding into their game, and now you are suggesting that people engage them even more.

    Please consider that you may be wrong and that nameless folks on the internet might be right here.

    • says

      First, having actively and extensively participated in the online community for over twenty years, and having read the scholarship on the psychology of bullying, I can say that you are quite incorrect about trolling behavior. I have decades of personal experience, which is corroborated by recent anti-bullying literature, that ridiculing and denouncing or deleting and blocking trolls is more effective at clearing them than doing nothing; in fact doing nothing has absolutely no effect on their behavior. They do not, in fact, like being denounced, downvoted, or deleted, least of all when it is overwhelmingly. (Regardless of what they claim, their behavior proves out.) There are a few actual sociopaths for whom this might not be true, but most by far are not full-blown sociopaths and thus are pained by large-scale social disapproval, mockery, and the frustration of being blocked or banned or deleted or piled on. They eventually go someone else to rant about it. They will try various ways to sneak back in. But if you persist in your community opposition, they lose that battle eventually (again, a few sociopaths aside).

      Second, these aren’t just trolls. These are targeted harassment campaigns we’re talking about, and community-level sexism. The disparity between the way men and women in the movement are treated bears this out. This is actual bullying and privilege-defense behavior, which is well studied by psychologists and sociologists, as for example in the difficult transition toward gender integrated job environments in the 80s and 90s (it starts with reams of harassment and overt, even deliberate sexism, which gradually peters out as resistance and condemnation mount), and is now going in the last bastions of male dominance (like the tech industry). We should follow the same model as previous population groups that faced the same problem and have effectively reduced it.

      Third, the worst thing a community can do is not make clear what behavior it dislikes, despises, or disapproves of. Wholly regardless of its effect on troll behavior, we have to demonstrate to the whole community that more of us oppose this behavior than endorse or accept it. Downvotes and denouncement do that, and the more of it we generate, the clearer our values become not only to the outside public, not only to the atheism community, but most especially to the present and future women within our movement whom we want to have an equally enjoyable and easy time doing all the same things the men do. Sustained and targeted harassment and sexism of women is an effort to create a massive inequality by making it far more unfun and difficult for women to work in and participate in this movement than for men. You should care about that. We all should.

      Ignoring it does nothing. It just silently endorses the status quo.

  30. Diana MacPherson says

    Finally watched your talk on YouTube and thought it was well done. I think you hit on a lot of good points, especially around diversifying some of the offerings at conferences as I know that would definitely attract me to attend and I had avoided such conferences in the past for some of the reasons you listed, namely I thought that I already heard lots about pseudoscience and critical thinking :)

    I’d also like to hear more about critical thinking from a Humanities perspective (I too am Classically educated – yay Greek & Latin!) as I think sometimes there is a misconception that science uses the scientific method but it’s a free for all in the Humanities (I’ve even seen such implications on Goodreads book reviews for social science works).

    • says

      I quite concur!

      To that very end, I’ve spoken on sound methodology in history and critical examination of historical claims at atheist conferences (most recently, at Skepticon), and on applying literary theory to the Gospels (showing that there actually is a logically definable method involved). I think talks on folklore, critical literary theory, and so on are as valuable and useful to atheists, well apart from the study of religion. One day I plan to blog about such sites as SkepticalHumanities.com and BadArchaeology.com and PaleoBabble (which one should peruse as much as the beloved Snopes.com).

  31. lee coye says

    Hello Richard,

    Let me premise this by saying that I’ve been a huge fan of yours since I watched (and watched, and watched) that debate (the second, less formal one) with Mike Licona on the resurrection. You were absolutely brilliant, and I’ve also read some of your blog posts in the past which I agreed with. One in particular was your discussion of atheism and agnosticism in February of 2007, found here. That post is particularly apropos, as it was one of the many in which the term “atheist” was distilled to it’s literal meaning, and nothing else. While you didn’t directly respond to the claim that atheism doesn’t entail eg nazism, you responded implicitly:

    I prefer “atheism” to be used in its equally literal sense: a-theismos, without theism, i.e. without a belief in god. For in actual practice, this is how it is almost always used. And, as far as I see it, any other usage rhetorically violates the Law of the Excluded Middle.

    [...]

    Ergo, the only thing that can ever logically matter in distinguishing theists from “atheists” is whether we believe any god exists. Hence all that matters in defining an atheist is that an atheist does not believe in any god.

    This has always been important to me as a principle, and only partly for it’s usefulness as a cogent response to the “atheism entails X [im]moral position” that is often bandied about by the religious as a practical response to acceptance of atheism, or rejection of deism/theism. Time and again this has been pointed out to W.L. Craig, et al, unfortunately to little effect.

    However, since this A+ thing has surfaced, and you jumped on board, suddenly “atheist” is not just “without theism”, but an identity (here I am responding to roughly the 2 minute mark in your video), replete with “some basic moral principles” that we should all endorse, or that should be ‘linked’ to atheism in some logical sense.

    This, to me, is troublesome, and is why I down-voted your video. Now to be clear, I agree in principle that these basic moral principles should be endorse by everyone, but that has nothing to do with atheism, and that is a point of paramount importance. I applaud yours and others endorsement of things like integrity, compassion, and all the rest, but those positions stand as value judgments that are entailed by certain other values assumed. Where I disagree is not in your endorsement of those assumptions and attendant moral principles, but in your position that, say, a pragmatist or nihilistic approach to ethics and the “good life” has no place in an “atheist” movement.

    I think alternate views on morality, alternative values at the core of our moral judgments, different perspectives on political and social issues, are what characterize a diverse and vibrant movement (not just the color of your skin or the shape of your genitalia). It seems to me that the only glue binding this community together should be the rejection of theistic authority, on the basis of the failure of theistic arguments, leaving all else open for discussion. The only disqualifying characteristic for denial of membership should be faith.

    All of the other concerns, social justice, feminism, progressive vs traditional social mores, conservatism, have their own attendant movements, their own voice. They are composed of theists and atheists alike, as the two can come to the same conclusion even if they start from different assumptions, or have the same values for different reasons. If a subset of one of these movements came out and said, “We’re rather tired of making the same political arguments about taxes and immigration, and we’d prefer to start talking about atheism,” the backlash would be as predictable as rain in April. Not only that, but at least in America they would be on firm legal ground if the dissenting members exorcised that subset from their midst.

    Respectfully,

    Lee.

    • says

      Note that my talk (in the video you are commenting on) is not about atheism, but atheism plus humanism and skepticism. It is also about the existing atheist community, not the idea or mere fact of being an atheist.

      This moots many of your points (such as the analogy to my definition of atheism: that’s irrelevant to a definition of atheism plus, and also irrelevant to what we can hope for from an organized atheist community).

      As to the question of whether nihilists or pragmatists are okay, that depends on whether they endorse, by whatever logic, compassion, honesty, and reasonableness. If they don’t, they will be dangerous and destructive to any community, and thus any community that wants to survive and prosper has to marginalize and denounce them. It cannot function if it is awash with cruel, heartless, dishonest, and unreasonable people. Indeed, those people should be the obvious enemies of any functional society.

      As to the question of diverse politics, I specifically addressed that in the video, where I discuss the judicious utility of organizational neutrality and the hosting of courteous, reasonable, evidence-based debates and discussions of such issues among diverse opinion groups within atheism, so that the atheist community as a whole will be better informed and thus a better community (and, I could have perhaps added, thereby finally learn to have reasonable and courteous debates about those things, which of all things should be a common characteristic of atheists, and should certainly be a characteristic encourage of any community, atheist or otherwise).

    • Bob says

      “Note that my talk (in the video you are commenting on) is not about atheism, but atheism plus humanism and skepticism.”

      Dr. Carrier,

      While this distinction should be understood by those of us who frequent various blogs of atheists in this community on this topic, this is a distinction that I think is unlikely to be initially obvious to the average theist (who knows maybe one or two out atheists, has no knowledge of the goings-on within this loose knit community of atheists online, and is already confused about what atheism is).

      The average Christian tends to tie their moral system to their theism. So when they hear atheism+ plus, unless they are hearing about it directly from someone who is very careful to explain that the plus means “additionally, things that are not necessarily related to non-belief in a deity,” they are likely to think of the plus as being equivalent to a 2.0 version of atheism.

      This is partly why I hesitate to adopt the label atheism plus. If the label is more widely adopted, it would add to my workload when I attempt to explain to people that the word atheism just refers to non-belief in a deity, and thus carries no burden of proof. When conversing with this demographic (which consists of most people in the US) I find it best to discuss these issues under discrete labels for the sake of clarity. This is why I’ll only refer to myself as a gaytheist among people who understand that me being an atheist (not believing in a deity) and me being gay are unrelated.

    • says

      While this distinction should be understood by those of us who frequent various blogs of atheists in this community on this topic, this is a distinction that I think is unlikely to be initially obvious to the average theist

      Um, you mean a video that repeatedly and clearly says and explains exactly this, with slides displaying the distinction specifically to make sure its understood, “is unlikely to be initially obvious”?

      That makes no sense. Someone who can’t listen to a clear argument is obviously not someone whose opinions we can have any effect on anyway.

      Moreover, it is precisely to communicate to other faith communities that atheists are not immoral that we need the plus (one among many reasons that I discuss in the video). If theists get all weirdly confused by my video and mistakenly think I’m saying all atheists advocate compassion, honesty, and reasonableness, I fail to see how that is any kind of a problem (other than setting them up for the rude awakening of running into cruel, heartless, dishonest and unreasonable atheists).

    • Bob says

      Um, you mean a video that repeatedly and clearly says and explains exactly this, with slides displaying the distinction specifically to make sure its understood, “is unlikely to be initially obvious”?

      I made a point to say that this may not be a problem when the person who they initially hear about atheism plus from is careful to make this distinction, and they explain it well. So if theists only hear about the goings-on among atheists from speakers at conventions, who make this distinction, and make it well, it shouldn’t be much of a problem.*

      However, the average theist does not hear about the goings-on among atheists by running into videos of lectures given at atheist conventions.

      This particular problem could easily be avoided by using a different label that doesn’t have such potential for causing unnecessary confusion. So why risk unnecessary confusion and workload when you can do the exact same thing under a clearer, more descriptive label?

      Personally, I was hoping that the popularity of the particular label atheism plus would die down so that the stated goals of atheism plus could be achieved without such unnecessary confusion or additional work.
      I’m believe you and others would experience a lot less resistance to your well-intentioned efforts if this was done.

      Moreover, it is precisely to communicate to other faith communities that atheists are not immoral that we need the plus

      I agree that it’s a good idea to communicate to faith communities that atheists are generally moral (with exceptions just like any other demographic). However, this can be done without the extra confusion and workload that the particular label atheism plus brings about.

      *While you did make this distinction in your talk, you did make a few comments that wouldn’t really make sense if atheism is just non-belief in a god. I can give you examples if you like, but disputing the clarity of your talk isn’t my main point here.

    • says

      Anyone who makes leaps of judgment about a thing before inquiring about it is already failing on basic logic. We can’t prevent that. Nor would that failure be avoided with any other word. If they fail to look into what the word means, what word it is is wholly irrelevant.

      But if you want to promote the values of atheism plus under a different label (like “humanism”) I’m all for that. As I have been from the beginning. As I specifically explain in my video, “atheism+” is just a clinical label for something that’s already happening, like Homo sapiens sapiens is for “human,” “person,” or “man/woman” (the very example I gave). So whether anyone uses it or not is irrelevant. And I have been saying so for half a year now.

    • Bob says

      Anyone who makes leaps of judgment about a thing before inquiring about it is already failing on basic logic. We can’t prevent that. Nor would that failure be avoided with any other word.

      If the average person were to hear something about Scientology plus, they’d probably think that it must be a better version of Scientology, but probably wouldn’t see much use in investing time into investigating this movement within this tiny intellectual minority. However, a number of things, such as an engaging encounter with a Scientologist, could change that. If/when that happens, any misconceptions caused by Scientology plus would then add to the workload of getting that person acquainted with Scientology.

      Before such encounter, that person may have subconsciously associated certain attitudes and schemas with it even if he/she tried not to jump to a conclusions about Scientology plus.

      In general, investing time to clear up confusion is a price that a intellectual minorities often have to pay in order to be understood. I’ll generally make that investment, but I’d prefer to avoid raising that price.

      Theists are usually confused about atheism because they make the wrong comparisons; They contrast atheism with religion (which often consists of positive affirmations of certain beliefs, values, and moral systems associated with it), instead of contrasting atheism with theism (merely, belief in god). This is partly why many people mistakenly believe that atheism is the affirmation that a god definitely doesn’t exist; This is often evident when a theist believes he/she has scored a point when an atheist admits that he/she cannot know for certain that a god doesn’t exist. Contrary to what you’re opinion, I think the confusion of many theists can be cleared up with some investment of time on the part of an atheist willing to walk the theist through the logic.

      The label atheism plus adds to this confusion and thus would add to the workload of people like me who will assist many of my theistic brothers. Such additional confusion and work is unlikely to be caused (at least to the same degree) by alternative labels such as liberal atheists, humanistic atheists humanism plus (the plus being plus atheism), or many other labels a creative person could dream up, which makes the extra work created by atheism plus (if the average theist got wind of it) avoidable.

    • says

      Please. I don’t see any basis for confusion here. A theist will inquire what the “+” stands for and will find this or this. I’m quite content with that. I see no problems arising here. Not such as would not arise no matter what.

    • Bob says

      Please. I don’t see any basis for confusion here.

      I interact with people who are confused due to comparing atheism with religion (instead of comparing it to theism) everyday, so I’d be one of those paying the price if the choice of label, atheism plus, compounds this already existing confusion. When you’ve had your set of beliefs about the specifics of god (which is religion, not theism) be the basis of your moral system, and you’ve been under the impression all of your life that an atheist is the the opposite of that, I could see how one can be confused into thinking that atheism is more than non-belief in a god.

      A theist will inquire what the “+” stands for

      It has been my experience that most people, especially those in the majority, won’t invest their time into investigating the details of the goings-on among intellectual minorities. This is partly why religious minorities tend to score higher on religious knowledge tests.

      This is also why most people (in this country anyway) know next to nothing about Scientology and the Scientologists who are breaking away from the Church of Scientology to forming a reformation. Most people aren’t going to invest their time in investigating the details unless they happen to be interested for some reason. About all that most people know about Scientology is that Tom Cruise and John Travolta are Scientologists.

    • says

      That’s silly. That atheists have and advocate morals is not what people mean by saying atheism is a religion; and if it were, then it would be true. And that there is a + after the title already indicates we’re not talking about “just” atheism. And again, any simple Google search will soundly set anyone right. And BTW, I actually work with Christian youth groups, and you are totally wrong about how widely, quickly and readily they check things on Google.

    • Bob says

      That atheists have and advocate morals is not what people mean by saying atheism is a religion; and if it were, then it would be true.

      What they often do mean is that atheism is a belief system with some aspects comparable with religion. That’s partly why many of them think that atheism is the belief that a god doesn’t exist (which does carry a burden of proof), not the lack of belief that a god exists (which doesn’t carry a burden of proof).

      And that there is a + after the title already indicates we’re not talking about “just” atheism.

      When I initially hear a product named X+, I’m thinking X2.0, not X with other things not intrinsically related to X added to X. That’s why some software products with both freeware and payware versions with call the payware version X+.

      And BTW, I actually work with Christian youth groups, and you are totally wrong about how widely, quickly and readily they check things on Google.

      Youth today are more likely to be interested, which is partly why this generation is much more atheistic. This is even more true for the type of youth who are very into religious matters, like the youth who attend Christian youth groups (I and most atheists I know offline were extremely religious at one time). That is partly why I am more interested in conversing with that demographic. However, I believe that the typical person, when they hear something about the goings-on among certain intellectual minorities, whether it be Scientologists, Sikhs, or atheists, aren’t very interested.

    • says

      What they often do mean is that atheism is a belief system with some aspects comparable with religion.

      Isn’t that true of every belief system? Like, say, philosophy; humanism; science.

      That’s partly why many of them think that atheism is the belief that a god doesn’t exist (which does carry a burden of proof), not the lack of belief that a god exists (which doesn’t carry a burden of proof).

      False distinction. I know this is a popular catch phrase, but it has no logical validity. All arguments are burdens born, and all positions bear some burden.

      Phrase your belief in God’s existence as a probability (“in all honesty, how likely do you believe the existence of a god is?”) and you’ll realize you always bear some burden of proof–whatever burden is required to justify that probability assignment. It’s not like you just walked into the universe suddenly with no history or background of culture and argumentation for the truth of various religions and their gods. The only position that is truly (and only initially) burden free is agnosticism (in the sense of a probability assignment of around 50% +/-4%), but the moment anyone steps forward and starts rattling off evidence and arguments for a god, you have the burden of demonstrating those arguments are invalid, or the evidence is false or falsely presented, or of presenting new evidence that counts against them. It’s simply false to say that theism is just a suddenly new assertion (and therefore alone bears a burden of proof). It’s not.

      See my more detailed analysis here.

      When I initially hear a product named X+, I’m thinking X2.0, not X with other things not intrinsically related to X added to X.

      Then you’re being illogical. It’s not called Atheism 2.0. Everyone else knows that “plus” means “plus stuff.” Maybe you missed that lesson in high school grammar class. But it’s folly to project your folly on the rest of the entire population. And we certainly can’t adjust our language to accommodate people who don’t know how our language works. That defeats the entire purpose of using a language.

      I believe that the typical person, when they hear something about the goings-on among certain intellectual minorities, whether it be Scientologists, Sikhs, or atheists, aren’t very interested.

      Moot point. The relevant point is, the majority of the population of this country already (which will thus constitute an increasing share of the population every decade hereafter) are people who use Google to learn about new things they hear about. Especially things they heard about on the internet.

    • Bob says

      Isn’t that true of every belief system? Like, say, philosophy; humanism; science.

      Are you trying to say that theists often mistakenly think that atheism is a belief system like philosophy, humanism, and science? If so, I’d say sticking the word atheist into a label for anything not related to atheism can add to that confusion.

      Phrase your belief in God’s existence as a probability (“in all honesty, how likely do you believe the existence of a god is?”) and you’ll realize you always bear some burden of proof–whatever burden is required to justify that probability assignment. It’s not like you just walked into the universe suddenly with no history or background of culture and argumentation for the truth of various religions and their gods. The only position that is truly (and only initially) burden free is agnosticism (in the sense of a probability assignment of around 50% +/-4%) but the moment anyone steps forward and starts rattling off evidence and arguments for a god, you have the burden of demonstrating those arguments are invalid, or the evidence is false or falsely presented, or of presenting new evidence that counts against them. It’s simply false to say that theism is just a suddenly new assertion (and therefore alone bears a burden of proof). It’s not.

      You’re correct about having to rebut arguments in favor of belief in order to maintain non-belief (which is why I’d say that atheism has the burden of rebuttal), and you’re also correct about there being levels of probability, but to assign any probability (even 50%) one would have to have some data relevant to the proposition, which is why N/A is the proper default instead of 50%. Atheism encompass N/A, which is the appropriate reply when one:

      A Has not had any experiences in that universe.
      Or
      B One has had experiences in that universe, but none of those experiences (or lack thereof, since lack of experiencing something can be evidence against it) is relevant to the particular proposition in question.

      Atheism (that is, the lack of putting the number over 50%) encompass the above scenarios in addition to putting the number <= 50, which is what I mean when I say that atheism does not have the burden of proof. This is where many atheists sit with regard to a deistic god. Of course as you noted, this doesn’t mean atheism has no burden, as maintaining a non-belief would require reasons for not finding arguments in favor of the belief (should they arise) to be sufficient to believe it.

      Then you’re being illogical. It’s not called Atheism 2.0. Everyone else knows that “plus” means “plus stuff.”

      Not always. For many software products, it means, “This is the better/unrestricted version.” It’s perfectly logical, based on this observation, to conclude that it may not be obvious from the name itself what the plus is a A+.

      Maybe you missed that lesson in high school grammar class.

      Students are taught well before high school that words can have multiple, distinct meanings.

      And we certainly can’t adjust our language to accommodate people who don’t know how our language works. That defeats the entire purpose of using a language.

      What about adjusting your usage of language to accommodate the fact that some words can be ambiguous in some contexts?

      Consider, for the sake of the argument, that there is nothing wrong with the name A+, wouldn’t you prefer that everyone who already shares the stated values of A+ adopt whatever label the movement happens to chose? I know I’m not the only one who share these values, yet avoids flying under the banner A+. If this is a social justice movement, I would think you’d prefer it to unite those who share its values.

    • says

      Now you’re talking in circles.

      We already covered all this. Atheism as mere unbelief is different from atheism as a community. That distinction is already real and very, very public. No logic can follow from the one that ignores the other. And you are simply ignoring it.

      Everything else you now say is answered in my video. Which you are also ignoring.

      If you are going to ignore what I say, conversation with you is a waste of time. Don’t you agree?

    • Bob says

      Atheism as mere unbelief is different from atheism as a community. That distinction is already real and very, very public. No logic can follow from the one that ignores the other. And you are simply ignoring it.

      On the contrary, I watched the video and I agree that you’ve tried to make the distinction between atheism (non belief in a god) and an atheist community (community of people who don’t believe in a god). I do think that phrases like “atheism as a community” could confuse an outsider though, since you can’t have a community of non-belief, although you can have a community of non-believers, which is what I understand you to mean by that phrase.

      Everything else you now say is answered in my video.

      While I admit that I cannot perfectly recall every single thing from the 46 minute video, I don’t recall all those points being addressed in a way that I found satisfactory. For example, did the video cover the fact that the suffix + is vague, or does the title of the talk (Atheism… Plus What) assume that people will interpret the + suffix to mean, “Plus other stuff,” instead of what it means when used as a label for a product? I also don’t remember the issue of burden of proof with regard to non-belief in a god being mentioned in the talk.

      If you are going to ignore what I say, conversation with you is a waste of time. Don’t you agree?

      If is the keyword. If someone is clearly ignoring what you say, then I think that is a good reason to stop responding to them. However, it seems to me that you are quick to conclude that someone is ignoring you if you have previously talked about the general issue. That I don’t agree with you that the subject was covered comprehensively in the video doesn’t mean I’m ignoring what you did say.

    • says

      The suffix isn’t vague when you ask what it means. And when you don’t, you can’t make any inferences, since you won’t know what it means. Your reasoning just makes no sense. It either argues against all words whatever (all names being vague by definition, if no one bothers to find out what they mean) or against none.

      The bottom line is, people will wonder what this new term means. They will inquire. They will find out. End of story.

      All this nonsense about confusion has no basis in reality.

      The rest is, again, addressed in my video.

    • Bob says

      The suffix isn’t vague when you ask what it means.

      In other words, it’s vague until/unless someone actively seeks clarification.

      Your reasoning just makes no sense.

      My reasoning is that if label A is more vague than label B, then all else being the same, label B is preferable to label A (in this case, A is atheism+ and B is any of the many alternative suitable labels). I’m baffled as to why that wouldn’t make sense to you.

      It either argues against all words whatever (all names being vague by definition, if no one bothers to find out what they mean) or against none.

      On the contrary, it argues that some labels have more precise meanings than others, which is desirable if you want clarity instead of ambiguity.

      The bottom line is, people will wonder what this new term means.

      I don’t accept this assumption that everyone who hears the label atheism plus will automatically be interested in it from the name alone. People hear about things everyday that they aren’t interested enough in to invest the time to investigate.

    • says

      My reasoning is that if label A is more vague than label B, then all else being the same, label B is preferable to label A (in this case, A is atheism+ and B is any of the many alternative suitable labels).

      Then you should believe in abolishing all vague words whatever. As long as there is a more precise word, the vaguer word should never be used. Eventually, I suppose, you’ll only be conversing in binary code.

      Apart from the faulty logic of your reasoning about how language should work, there simply are no “alternative suitable labels” in this case. Every one comes with baggage that makes it problematic, or is too limited in scope to carry the required meaning–for all the reasons we’ve discussed in our earliest articles (e.g. here).

      What we want to communicate is that we aren’t just atheists–we are above all atheists, part of the very public and now publicly recognized atheist identity movement (as the first few minutes of my video explains), plus other things (we are also humanists and skeptics, for example).

      There simply is no word in existence that conveys all that. So we invented one.

      Which you don’t like for some unintelligible reason.

    • Bob says

      My reasoning is that if label A is more vague than label B, then all else being the same, label B is preferable to label A (in this case, A is atheism+ and B is any of the many alternative suitable labels).

      Then you should believe in abolishing all vague words whatever. As long as there is a more precise word, the vaguer word should never be used. Eventually, I suppose, you’ll only be conversing in binary code.

      You missed (or intentionally ignored?) the all else being the same part of what I said. You’re attacking a strawman.

      Conversing in binary requires an extraordinary amount of effort, and can be quite boring, which is why it would not meet the requirement of all else being the same.

      That some words are less precise than other words just means that the best word to use depends on the situation. The word cola has a more precise meaning than soda, soda is more precise than drink, drink is more precise than product. Just because in a particular circumstance, with all else being the same, using the word cola in the names Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola is more preferable than using the word product, it does not follow that the word product has no use at all and should be abolished as you put it.

      Apart from the faulty logic of your reasoning about how language should work

      Except the faulty logic was your faulty logic based on your [mis]interpretation of what I said.

      there simply are no “alternative suitable labels” in this case. Every one comes with baggage that makes it problematic, or is too limited in scope to carry the required meaning–for all the reasons we’ve discussed in our earliest articles (e.g. here).

      While there may not be a perfect label, I think there are many other labels that could have been invented that aren’t as problematic as the A+ label. Would you like me to conjure up some examples of those for you?

      There simply is no word in existence that conveys all that. So we invented one.
      Which you don’t like for some unintelligible reason.

      My objection here is to the particular label that was invented, not that the label was invented. Labels are created all the time, and adopting an unnecessarily vague label is a marketing mistake. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t care much if a marketing mistake was made regarding a movement I don’t associate myself with, but in this case it has the potential to be a marketing problem for anyone who calls himself/herself an atheist, myself included.

    • says

      While there may not be a perfect label, I think there are many other labels that could have been invented that aren’t as problematic as the A+ label. Would you like me to conjure up some examples of those for you?

      You mean invent?

      I welcome suggestions in that category.

  32. Ted says

    This is ridiculous.
    absolutely, and totally ridiculous.
    please, take your atheism+ and go with it, see how the internet and most of the minority mocks you.
    yes minority, atheism is a minority, and you’re focusing on a minority of said minority to boost the aforementioned minority?!
    five things i would like to see.
    1. hard evidence that these victims have been ” raped” and “harassed” not just asked to come for a coffee in their hotel room (from the famous incident of the proffessional victim) or that “lots of peopel said it so we dont need evidence” i want hard evidence that will stand up to a court. like any good skeptic.

    2.Less merging of two extremist dogmas into atheism. atheism is a group not by choice but by the necessity of scepticism, they see things as having no evidence and denounce them. its an apathetic group that isnt really a group and youre trying to form some strange militia hellbent on denouncing anyone who doesnt join your little club as not sharing your “outstanding” morals.
    i have compassion, i have reasonableness, i have integrity. and because i possess these three morals i shall NOT be taking part in your totalitarian power grab and professional victimization .you have no evidence, you have no right to claim you’re the supreme arbiter of atheist morals. and you have no power here.

    3.You. gone. simple as that.

    4. i would like to see these C.H.U.D’s as you call them, do people who don’t support the professional victims somehow begin eating everyone else? am i going to become a cannibal because i don’t support radical feminist ideas but still support freedom of religion and choice?

    5. i would like to see a grey area, no blacks and whites and yes or no’s. atheism is all about scepticism and scepticism breaks the blacks and whites down into the core tones of their components, allowing a human free choice to pick and choose what to believe is true and what is false. you are a false prophet, advocating an absolute. you know who else said your exact words? george w.bush on the war on terror, ” you’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists” advocating you’re either a white middle class american or you’re a terrorist.
    but hey what do i know, that started a wave of leftist ideology that lead to this, perhaps you will breed new atheists, better atheists, who will learn from your rampant mistakes and never go down this route again.

    good day.

    • says

      I let this comment through moderation because it illustrates part of the problem we are dealing with here. This is the kind of nonsense we need to disavow: these kinds of people simply are not healthy for any movement and we need to say so.

      I never said anyone had been “raped” but that they had been threatened with it (among other things). Abundant evidence is linked to in the article I referenced in the video. More has been documented all over the place (e.g. here).

      No one has ever said that the “elevator” coffee invite incident was harassment (that is a lie perpetrated by dishonest atheists). Actually learn something about this, so you know who to trust on the internet: those who lie like this, or those who actually get the story right.

      The fact that an atheist community exists with large and numerous active member organizations and conferences and talks and meetups and online networks refutes any notion that the atheist community is “an apathetic group that isn’t really a group.” It’s even more than a group now; it’s a community. I actually list the evidence for this in the video, even beyond what I just mentioned.

      Asking community-organized atheists to expand their interests and methods and be (and advocate being) compassionate, honest, and reasonable is not “trying to form a militia.” Nor is it totalitarian. No guns are involved. Nor even an organization. This is just standard community building and improvement, through an exercise of free speech, which calls for even more exercises of free speech. Same as any other community.

      Saying you share all my values in the same sentence that you say you refuse to adopt them is just about the most illogical thing you can do. Adopting them is totalitarian and militia-like, yet you adopt them without being totalitarian and militia-like. Do you see how you just contradicted all your own statements?

      “You. gone. simple as that” is not English.

      What will make you a metaphorical cannibal to this movement is if you chew up and expel the women in it for no other reason than that you don’t like them (or outspoken women in general).

      “Radical feminism” and “professional victimization” are propaganda buzzwords that have no connection with any reality you claim to be addressing.

      The rest of your rant is barely intelligible.

  33. left0ver1under says

    Is it okay if I upvote without watching yet?

    How interesting that the whining MRAs are orgainizing downvotes, then they all gripe about FtB “censoring free expression”. Their attitude toward free speech (and who gets to talk) mirrors their attitude towards rights among men and women.

  34. says

    Why ATHEISM Plus? This is just feminism with the added stipulation that you can’t believe in God/gods. I don’t need a movement to tell me not to rape any more than I need a book, and I wouldn’t like the association with this feminist movement anymore than I’d like the association with a church if I’d been baptized.

    • says

      The video explains, at length, precisely why it’s “atheism” plus. Indeed, the first five to ten minutes are all on exactly that.

      So, watch the video.

      Or at least, that’s what I’d recommend if you were sincere. That you let slip what you really hate are feminists suggests to me you are actually not at all interested in my answer to this question, or in anything the video talks about. You instead are obsessed with hating “feminism” for no credible or healthy reason, and assume anything any feminist ever says about anything is “feminism” and therefore bad somehow, even though the video you are commenting on isn’t about feminism and only once even mentions feminism–as one of several things our members could be better educated about, as your comment only goes to show.

    • says

      Please quote precisely where in my comment I said I hate feminism.

      Your accusation is illogical, and not a valid reason to accuse me of hating feminism. I see no reason to assume I hate feminism from this quote.

      This is much easier, now I see why you do it.

      Annnnnndddddd, goodnight.

    • says

      “I wouldn’t like the association with this feminist movement anymore than I’d like the association with a church if I’d been baptized.”

      Maybe we can quibble over the definition of “hate” here, but your rejection of feminism is clearly stated in this sentence. And those are your words.

    • says

      Who are you quoting, though? And in what context? Please link to who said “you’re either with us or against us” and the context in which they said it.

      Then perhaps we can have a reasonable discussion of whether it makes sense for you to denounce absolutes with an absolute, and whether sometimes it really is us vs. them (atheists vs. fundamentalists, for example), and when and why.

  35. Korentwo says

    Do you think I can completely ignore the concept to White Male Guilt and still be a good person?

    The concept of privilege was introduced to me a few months after Elevatorgate when the Atheist community I was following started to mingle more and more with the Skepchick and FFB crowd, I’m a Humanist and Left leaning so I was comfortable with mostly everything except taking on the guilt that came with being white and male.

    I don’t feel comfortable having this guilt put on me, I feel that the community largely believes that any hate crime committed against me in the future would be justly deserved because of past atrocities committed by whites or males (note I’m not saying this well ever happen, it’s more or less concern over the idea that I should see it as fair should it happen), and I also feel uncomfortable when people feel the need to apologize for or on the behalf of being white or male. Early on the shaming didn’t sit right with me so I tried to ignore it, even though the idea of White Male Guilt is becoming more main stream as months pass; at least in the Left sphere.

    I understand the concept of Privilege and that we all have it, but I can’t see myself excepting the concept of shame for it.

    • says

      I feel that the community largely believes that any hate crime committed against me in the future would be justly deserved because of past atrocities committed by whites or males

      This is not a reasonable inference. And I would ask that you link me to a specific example of it. Because I am not seeing this. I suspect this is more in your head than anywhere in reality. But do feel free to prove me wrong. Link to an example. If you can’t find any (as you suggest you can’t), then you might want to re-think what you are projecting onto others. Because it sounds like you are projecting attitudes and thoughts onto others that they do not in fact have, and that is a bad situation to be in. If you want to live in reality, you definitely have to correct errors of judgment you are making about what other people are thinking.

      Likewise anyone asking “you” to “apologize for or on the behalf of being white or male.” I don’t see that happening. So why do you feel it is? I suspect this is also more in your head than anywhere in reality. Perhaps this is a byproduct of the cognitive dissonance you describe, which you are then mistakenly projecting onto others again. I don’t know. But this should not be what you conclude from having your eyes opened to the ways your behavior or lack of behavior affects other genders and races, or the ways other genders and races are treated not by you but by many others, or the ways we have unconsciously institutionalized certain behaviors and stereotypes that are harmful to people other than yourself and give you advantages they don’t have (even though you didn’t ask for that). You don’t have to apologize for any of that; and no one is asking you to. You just have to recognize it, think about it, and do what you can to not perpetuate it and to speak out against it when you see it.

      Because that’s how we will change it.

    • Korentwo says

      First I apologize if this doesn’t make any sense, I’m not very articulate about this. I understand and accept the concept of Privilege, the shame thing (which I’ll try to outline below) is more of a self esteem issue for me. I’ll try to show what I mean…

      First this reason article by PZ
      http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/04/04/a-note-to-my-friends-family-colleagues-and-readers-of-color/

      I see stuff like this from time to time when white people feel they have to say ‘I’m not like them, I’m one of the good ones’. Is this line necessary, I value humility but speaking up to remind my readers that I’m not Racist, Misogynist, or someone else they dislike seems unnecessary and a bit asinine as PZ is clearly not someone his reader base dislikes (well unless they’re trolls, that’s a different story).

      As for the White Hate Crime part I realize this isn’t an actual issue, and in all likelihood it’s not going to be an issue….

      I was watching this video about BioShock Infinite at around 27:30

      SPOILER WARNING: FOR BIOSHOCK INFINITE

      http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/04/04/a-note-to-my-friends-family-colleagues-and-readers-of-color/

      SPOILER WARNING – I’LL TRY NOT TO “SPOIL” BELOW BUT JUST IN CASE YOU DON’T WANT EVEN A HINT YOU’D BETTER STOP HERE

      The only reason given for this death was that guilt I mentioned, there could be other reasons could have been given but this is what the show went with. I’m having trouble with the idea that Privilege and Sins of the Father can give you things you cannot atone for, that taint you to the point that any punishment you receive seems proper because of said sins regardless of how you feel about it those things.

      Another thing I also saw was a program for white teachers teaching poc that was sort of a privledge checking thing which had them think about their privilege when they got up in the morning and report daily to a person of color to make sure their privilege was in check. I tried to find this program but couldn’t so I apologize. My gripe with this was that I thought the programmers assumed that white people couldn’t do such a job without being offensive, or that they need that second person to make sure their being a good person today.

      —-

      I like to think I’m open minded, and that my opinions and beliefs evolve for the better, as a white person coming into this movement I also now have to learn about how my Privilege effects those around me, but my gut reaction to the things above make me think it’s not the right path for me, it’s definitely partially a self esteem thing, the rest could be ego – I’d also like to add that it’s not a white pride issue to me, I don’t care about white nationalism save that those people tend to be bad guys/gals my issue is more on an individual level and what I feel I should take into myself.

    • says

      I’m sorry, I don’t understand what you are arguing. Or why it’s relevant here. The best I can tell is that you are offering this as an example of white guilt mongering, but and that author’s thesis is “Walsh’s desire to protest that we’re not all bad [and] I suppose I’m kind of doing it myself with this post, making my views distinct from her seeming ignorance of race privilege,” i.e. not white guilt, but awareness of white privilege, which is built into our social system and memeplex and thus not something one can escape or discard, one can only work around it and work to change it.

      Also, BTW, the post you link to was not written by PZ; it’s written by Chris Clarke, a guest blogger.

    • says

      Also, BTW, the post you link to was not written by PZ; it’s written by Chris Clarke, a guest blogger.

      Co-blogger.

      I see stuff like this from time to time when white people feel they have to say ‘I’m not like them, I’m one of the good ones’.

      If that’s what you got from my post you need to read it more carefully. I pretty much say exactly the opposite.

  36. Late For Dinner says

    From “Being with or against Atheism +”

    ” PZ Myers takes a more hardline stance against Libertarians and equates Atheism+ with explicitly progressive politics”

    That is probably the biggest problem I have. I’m pretty progressive but atheism is an issue that helps bring me together with social libertarians (btw, do libertarian views on civil rights sound or are they just aping progressives?) and I’m not interested in joining another political echo chamber, I think diverse political views are more valuable and I think taking a hard progressive stance won’t help the recruiting effort in the American south which I’d say has a more immediate need than the rest of the country.

    One thing about the speech I wasn’t too keen on were the parts you said about church and state issues. You did give caveats about them, but you mentioned that atheists need to go beyond those issues, which I implied that to mean that they would receive less emphasis for other issues. You also mentioned that atheists who find church and state issues boring might be attracted if other issues were addressed, what of people who find overt political progressivism boring?

    Please correct me if I’m under any misapprehensions.

    • says

      That is probably the biggest problem I have.

      So change it. Engage in courteous, reasonable, logical, evidence-respecting discussion of your views in precisely these matters, in pursuit of the goals of atheism plus–which are (1) caring about the wellfare and happiness of fellow atheists and doing at least a minimal something about it; (2) making the atheist community better informed about the important issues of the world; and (3) promoting the minimal values of compassion, integrity, and reasonableness. Nothing else is required. Exactly as I go on to explain after the one line you quoted (in the article you are quoting).

      I quite agree with you as to the value of hearing diverse views, when they are reasonably presented. Although I do find some views end up poorly reasoned and poorly evidenced, and it is our responsibility to say so. Unreasonable people then take that as a personal attack and go on vendetta campaigns. But that is precisely the kind of thing we should denounce and disavow, as being not the behavior we want from our community. Finding fault with someone’s argument or position is not a personal attack. I make a specific point of the importance of making that distinction in the video you are commenting on.

      …which I implied that to mean that they would receive less emphasis for other issues.

      Just do some math. Do you want to hear the same speech about the same church-state issues twelve times a year or is just once or twice enough? Do you want to read the same blog about the same church-state issues every month and never any other blog or any other issue?

      The answer to both is no. Everyone wants to diversify their interests or they quickly get bored and leave. Just as your reading blogs on more than one kind of issue does not cause you to “give less emphasis” on church-state issues (or any others), so also going to a convention and hearing ten speeches on ten different issues, one or two of which church-state issues, does not “give less emphasis” to anything. It actually is the one and only thing that keeps a convention from being interminably dull. Imagine hearing ten speeches on church-state issues and nothing else. Then imagine that’s what happens every time you go to any atheist conference. How many conferences do you think you’d go to if that were the case? At what point would you just stop going altogether? How many people won’t ever go to such conferences? If you want to grow a movement and at the same time stop losing members, you have to heed these principles. It’s just common sense.

      You also mentioned that atheists who find church and state issues boring might be attracted if other issues were addressed, what of people who find overt political progressivism boring?

      Note that in my video I mention even more diversity than this (e.g. I referenced a talk on werewolves). But the question at hand is easily answered by how we actually already behave online and at conferences: we go to the talks/articles we are interested in and not to the others (assuming we are so incredibly bored that we don’t even want to sit through them, which is not always the case). Thus, by having both, you double the number of attendees, by serving the interests of two different groups equally. This doubles the membership as well. And at the same time greatly expands the information available to the atheist community as a whole. In the video I go on to list many other benefits of this. Indeed, note in particular the part where I talk about SIGs and their value to the community and why atheist organizations should be promoting them more. That section specifically addresses the concern you just raised and how it would work in practice and why it would improve community growth and actually achieve the standard three goals of all atheist organizations (increasing the number of atheists, protecting atheists, and serving the needs of atheists).

    • says

      …what of people who find overt political progressivism boring?

      Why should we care about such people? If a bunch of atheists want to organize in support of a progressive cause, there’s no reason they should allow themselves to be slowed down by a bunch of slackers who aren’t even interested.

      It sounds to me like most of the quibbling and childish objections to A+ are coming from extremely immature and selfish people, calling themselves “libertarians,” demanding that they be welcomed and accomodated in a movement without having to give a shit about any of the things the people in the movement care about. It’s like they want to be atheists because it’s “cool,” and they want to be in the “cool” crowd just to be “cool,” and they get all pissy when the “cool” people start acting like boring uncool responsible grownups.

      Seriously, guys, if all this A+ talk bores you, go somewhere else. We’re not your parents, so there’s no need for us to keep on hearing about how bored you are and how you wish you were somewhere else and why aren’t we there yet and yadafookinyada…

    • says

      (Just to be clear, I suspect the reason the libertarians don’t do that is that they are terrified we will “convert” atheists and atheist organizations to the progressive cause, which is their most feverish nightmare, second perhaps only to Jesus actually showing up. Thus, they see this as a war. They would want all atheists and atheist orgs to back libertarianism, or if they can’t have that, at least to ensure we avoid ever talking about either so they can stay safe in their untouched belief or maybe even try converting other atheists to their political ideology. I suspect the notion of hosting logical, fact-based debates on such things and actually disseminating information throughout the atheist community so atheists can make more informed decisions about this on their own is a threat to that. Therefore, A+ is Stalinism. Or whatever. Even though I’ve specifically and repeatedly said a libertarian can be completely on board with A+, I even devoted several paragraphs to this point in my second post on it. Other atheists who don’t want to talk about so-called “progressive causes” really wouldn’t give a shit and thus wouldn’t waste any time commenting here or protesting anything. IMHO.)

  37. Mojo Rhythm says

    Hi Richard, Good to hear from you again. I can’t watch the vid at the moment, due to a sluggish internet connection. However, I wanted to ask: was there any climate change issues brought up? I think that if Atheism Plus wants to expand its umbrella in the most socially responsible way, climate change must become a persistent topic. Atheism has only a marginal connection at best to climate change (i.e. rationality-based and game theoretic explanations for political inaction, the close analogies between climate denial and evolution denial, and so on). But even so, the changing of the climate is such an important issue–something which literally threatens the viable existence of the human species–that to not spend at least 5-10 minutes during each conference giving it some air time would be atrociously negligent. If we are primates endowed with a moral compass by the process which formed us, then surely that compass’s needle must be almost 100% biased towards those issues which threaten our collective survival. At least that is what I glean from thinking about this stuff. What do you think, vis a vis addressing the ecological crisis in conferences if it is not being done so already?

    • says

      I didn’t specifically raise that issue in the video but that is another example of something on which a courteous and reasonable debate or discussion within the atheism movement would be valuable, and is something we could be informing the atheist community about through conferences and talks (and not necessarily from just the one perspective). Which is already occasionally happening. You’ll find talks about it at atheist events here and there, and find it discussed in atheist blogging networks here and there, but I think we could do more, and in a more balanced and communicative way. We, as a community, have a responsibility to be better informed about such things and then act as our individual conscience requires. Isolating each other into noncommunicative positions is unhelpful and, frankly, not rational. Of course, some people are simply unwilling to have reasonable discussions about such things, and will not respond to logic or evidence. But most of us actually aren’t those people. The rest of us want something better.

  38. Iter says

    You are referring to the people that do not agree with you as “haters”, don’t you think that it is a bit melodramatic?

    • says

      I am not referring to the people who merely disagree with me as the haters, but to the people who spread disinformation about what I have said or who do things like downvote a video without even having watched it or without in fact having any disagreement with anything said in it.

  39. duce7999 says

    I just listened to your talk and I wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed it. I think everything that you said in it was easy to understand and I find it strange that it causes such controversy. It kind of reminds me of that Upton Sinclair quote, “It is hard to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” So too it would seem it is true if their privilege depends on them not understanding it.

    • says

      Because that’s a reasonable and adult remark.

      Which completely ignores everything argued in the video being commented on.

      Irrational and childish behavior that stalwartly ignores evidence and reason is the last thing we should want to define our community.

  40. Questor says

    Yikes.. I had to stop reading the comments here after about half, as they’re quite disturbing.

    Yes, I’m an atheist. I never directly identified with A+, but it seems like a logical thing to me. Yes, you can be an atheist without going beyond, but that’s exactly what A+ is – it’s in their name, for crying out loud!

    I admit, I haven’t read much about A+.. because the message of atheism plus other goals made so much sense to me that I didn’t feel I needed to read about how yes, countering rape culture, working on equality, social responsibility, and so on.. made sense. Logic told me that atheism made sense. It also told me why gender equality is a good thing, why we should fight against blaming the victim, and so many more things.. which seems to mirror much of the A+ message that I have heard.

  41. sleeper says

    Richard… you have a preoccupation for stating the obvious. Your mantra of ‘compassion, reasonableness and integrity’ indicates you think this is lacking from the lexicon of atheists. It comes across as unadulterated condescension. It is like getting up in front of a podium at an Environmental conference and saying I think we should advocate for clean air, clean water and lowering our carbon footprint. It is redundant and so fundamental as to be not worthy of open expression. And more to the point… It also happens to insult the intelligence of the atheist community at large.

    If I was to categorize the way you argue, I would have to call it the ‘ lawyer/high school debate team’ technique/gambit. Where, you were assigned a topic and which side you would argue and you are to defend your position no matter what and in any way possible. I have seen you use strawman arguments or simply ignoring valid criticisms and even direct insults. Whatever it takes right?

    I read over half of the comments here and found no instance where you were in agreement with any point made. Rather you either ignored the good points, misrepresented(strawmaned) what was said or just focused in on what you thought you could criticize. It was blatantly obvious you would not give an inch no matter the argument from the ‘other side’. It was rather depressing to read I must say. Is this what passes for intellectual honesty in your reality?

    • says

      Richard… you have a preoccupation for stating the obvious. Your mantra of ‘compassion, reasonableness and integrity’ indicates you think this is lacking from the lexicon of atheists.

      To the contrary, I am forced to keep reminding people that that is all I advocated for when they clearly forget: those are the only moral values I said we should take a stand on.

      Thus, when people attack me for being Hitler/Stalin/a cultist it is indeed entirely apposite that I remind them of what they are actually saying: that I am Hitler/Stalin/a cultist because I am asking them to take a stand on compassion, honesty, and reasonableness.

      If that looks embarrassing for them, it’s because it is.

  42. unimportant says

    None of the people considerably disagreeing in this thread so far have brought up any decent arguments (some of the minor arguments seem fair). Maybe these exist and the people who can make them refuse to participate but I’m starting to wonder if I should agree with the sentiment that most of the general disagreement one sees is a simple knee-jerk reaction with little further thought given to it than “my freeeedooooms, you stalinists.”

  43. TretiaK says

    Richard, if Atheism+ does at least in part amount to a greater push for influence as a social movement in expanding the values that you outline, let’s just grant that everything about what you’re saying is perfectly sound, wouldn’t it still be a bad move on your behalf, and that of others to do this, if it’s creating a schism within the larger atheist community? Sure, it’s irrational for people to be opposed to what you’re saying, but nonetheless, it’s having these unintended consequences that are inhibiting progression in at least some ways, so wouldn’t it be more logical to just drop the whole notion? I’m not arguing against you, I’m just trying to clarify and elucidate my own thoughts on the matter.

    Why not argue for moral norms, values and conventions on a separate front? Or just let the legal system that’s already in place within our society to regulate issues concerning some of the examples that you and others have brought up? There’s not much of a need that I can see, to extend the argument further than what’s already in place…

    Part of what I think doesn’t help your case, is your delivery in responding to other people, your use of derision, and your tendency to dismiss the more general point some other comments have tried to make as logically fallacious when they were never trying to make an argument to begin with, but are trying to come up with a comparison or illustration of a point for you to get or see. I doubt most people here would be against the three values you associate with Atheism+, but I’m also sure that many of them have quite different ideas as to what specifically constitutes an act that falls in line with what you’re speaking for (I think this is the cult-ish concern that others have raised).

    I think what the history of feminism has amounted to, for most of today’s people, is very different from the classical examples that would come to mind for other people, such as the agenda for pushing for greater opportunity for women in society, (but sometimes) at the expense of infringing upon the opportunity for equal rights for men as well. A lot of people that I know, at least, associate a demand for special rights and privileges with feminism (irrespective of what whatever feminism is in concept), so why appeal or push for these notions as a social front, that a large majority of people are bound to disagree with and reject, and instead, make your appeal where people will come to agree with you? Not only is it unnecessary, but I would also think that if you’re adamant in going through with what you’re doing anyways, there are better ways to do what you’re doing, I’ll give you an example of a point I might disagree with you over:

    If in pushing for feminism (for example), that necessitates a greater push for equality, then you can already count me and many others out of this niche in the community. I don’t believe in equality (but that doesn’t mean I believe others are inferior to me). People aren’t even equal to themselves in the same day, or while performing the same task. I’m most definitely not equal to you, in terms of influence, intellectual capacity, and who knows what else, why should I be given greater opportunity in certain domains than you? I shouldn’t, but am I a douche, or a jerk for disagreeing with you on these kinds of terms?

    • says

      Richard, if Atheism+ does at least in part amount to a greater push for influence as a social movement in expanding the values that you outline, let’s just grant that everything about what you’re saying is perfectly sound, wouldn’t it still be a bad move on your behalf, and that of others to do this, if it’s creating a schism within the larger atheist community?

      Asked and answered.

      Read Greta Christina, Atheism Plus, and Some Thoughts on Divisiveness. That was last year.

      Why not argue for moral norms, values and conventions on a separate front?

      I answer that question in detail in the video you are commenting on.

      So why not watch the video before commenting on it?

      If in pushing for feminism (for example),

      At no point in the video is there any mention of anyone being a feminist or adopting feminism.

      So, once again, you evidently are commenting on what you don’t actually know anything about.

      Part of what I think doesn’t help your case, is your delivery in responding to other people, your use of derision…

      So you are against the Four Horsemen? You must indeed really hate Dawkins and Hitchens and Harris!

      There is something perverse going on when people cheer ridicule of theist immorality and stupidity, but can’t abide it when comparable immorality or stupidity is called out in our own ranks. Either condemn all of it, or apply the same standards of acceptance to both. Lines can be drawn between “appropriate” and “too far”; but there cannot logically be different lines for atheists than we apply to theists. Think about that.

      your tendency to dismiss the more general point some other comments have tried to make as logically fallacious when they were never trying to make an argument to begin with, but are trying to come up with a comparison or illustration of a point for you to get or see.

      Um, if you are commenting here and are asserting something and not even trying to make an argument in support of that assertion, why are you commenting here? Just think how appalled you would be if a theist did that to you. Made some assertion and some lazy pseudo-argument for it, which you then pointed out is fallacious, and they replied, “Oh, I wasn’t trying to make an argument…so how dare you say it was fallacious!”

      I’m also sure that many of them have quite different ideas as to what specifically constitutes an act that falls in line with what you’re speaking for (I think this is the cult-ish concern that others have raised).

      Which is illogical–because I discuss the parameters in meticulous detail and even discuss the fact that there are fuzzy cases and plenty of room for debate in my very first article on Atheism Plus, the very one I reference in the video. To not read what someone actually says, and then condemn it as cult-like, is the height of irresponsibility. Indeed, if you are looking for religious-like behavior, that’s more befitting the category. Don’t you think?

      I’m most definitely not equal to you, in terms of influence, intellectual capacity, and who knows what else, why should I be given greater opportunity in certain domains than you? I shouldn’t, but am I a douche, or a jerk for disagreeing with you on these kinds of terms?

      Since I have never, ever said any such thing, your question is kind of moot, isn’t it?

  44. FG says

    I’ve never heard a bigger bunch of elitism in a long time. Sure you’re right on many points but your declarations of shunning and downvoting was so hilarious I really did lol.

    Who the hell are you to lead a movement based on exclusion? I don’t care how moral you think your ideas are, your implementation would be disturbing if not for the humor factor.

    Not everyone is the same, some people are crass,some are rude or even obnoxious. People rub people the wrong way, It’s called society I think, then to take an already marginalized group such as Atheists and try to pit them against each other is plain WRONG.

    Think more META man – and F’ing RELAX.

    • says

      You mean the exclusion of cruel, dishonest, and unrepentantly irrational people?

      Why you would want them populating our community is beyond me.

      I suspect you didn’t watch the video you are commenting on.

    • jaggington says

      FG@51
      Many people don’t want to have to mix with the crass, rude and obnoxious.
      How is wanting to get away from harassment in any way ‘elitist’?
      Why should any community be required to be inclusive of people who deliberately and remorselessly go out of their way to cause hurt and upset within the community?
      Do you really think people should just shut up and put up with the aggravation without complaint?

    • FG says

      No, I think you are totally justified in associating with whom you’d like.
      I do not associate with certain people but I do not go around advertising what I will not put up with. It’s arrogant and just plain obnoxious.

      To me, Atheists should worry about the religious and do actual work to promote their ideas. Not revert inwards to try and dogmatically “clean” the groups they want to associate with.

      It’s fine tho, I am somewhat of a Libertarian and I would never subscribe to any organized group of people – mainly for the reasons that Richard Carrier demonstrates with his remarks to those that do not agree with him.

      It’s just as bad in the other direction. I know plenty of people who are offended I do not believe in a god, they do not hold this against me or rail against all my opinions. They live and let live.

      Divisiveness isn’t going to make this world a better place.

    • says

      I do not associate with certain people but I do not go around advertising what I will not put up with. It’s arrogant and just plain obnoxious.

      It may be obnoxious to you, but if so, then you are not my people. Stay away from me. Understood?

      Divisiveness isn’t going to make this world a better place.

      Dividing the compassionate, honest and reasonable from the cruel, dishonest, and unreasonable not only will make the world a better place, you cannot make the world a better place without it.

    • FG says

      Yeah that’s right jackass. YOU define what is moral etc… I love your internet tough guy routine too. Blow me you condescending asshole.

  45. FG says

    You assume a hell of alot and your reply is pretty telling.
    That’s right sir, I disagree with you therefor you know what I am in favor of.

    Our community? It doesn’t belong to me, I do not dictate who chooses to call themselves anything.

    I get criticized everyday, It’s an integral part to my job. My ideas are critically examined, questioned and opinions are given. If I reacted with even half of the kind of stuff I read on this blog I would have the reputation of being a cantankerous co-worker.

    Hey, keep doing what you’re doing, I’m not trying to stop you – just don’t be surprised when people don’t flock to your message of exclusion.

  46. Rohan says

    Dear Dr.Carrier.

    I recently formed a group called Atheism ++

    It agrees with everything you stand for, including your three commandments,
    but it has more.

    It advocates against animal cruelty and will include animal rights representatives presenting at our atheism++ conferences.

    No reasonable or compassionate person would disagree.

    You do not have to join with us, but if you do not I have to assume you stand for the promotion of animal cruelty.

    So you are either with us or against us.

    Best wishes, hope to see you on board soon.

    • says

      I look forward to your speakers’ talks on animal cognition, the philosophy of animal rights, and ways to improve the inspection and humanitarian laws governing animal husbandry. I support all of that. Even though I may disagree with some of it, I said that in my talk: I want to hear courteous and logic-respecting and evidence-based debates on these kinds of issues at conferences and meetups. That would be good for the movement, part of my itemized discussion of the atheist community becoming better informed. Likewise, in the video I discussed sub-groups (called SIGs) in the video that could also do this in fellowship with the wider community.

      But I doubt you’re serious. You seem to be trying your hand at a parody. The problem with that is that you are doing the one thing we don’t do, which is go beyond just the core values of compassion, integrity, and reasonableness. Thus, your parody movement is precisely an example of what would be bad, whereas our actual movement precisely doesn’t do the one thing that would make your parody movement bad.

      Contrast your ridiculous parody with our actual position:

      There can also be many other uncertainties and disagreements over whether someone or something really fulfills these values, and good people can fall short of their own values from time to time. The only issue at hand is whether we are at least on board with the idea that these are the values we should hold ourselves to, and with doing our best to hold ourselves to them. That is the question of what sort of atheist we are: an atheist who embraces these values, or an atheist who does not. The rest is open to honest and reasonable discussion, disagreement and debate. But we have to draw this line, so we are no longer mixed in with the atheists who refuse either to embrace these values or sincerely work toward embodying them, so we no longer give tacit endorsement to them or their toxic contributions to the atheism movement.

  47. TretiaK says

    Asked and answered.

    Read Greta Christina, Atheism Plus, and Some Thoughts on Divisiveness. That was last year.

    I’ll review it.

    I answer that question in detail in the video you are commenting on.

    So why not watch the video before commenting on it?

    I did watch the video, actually, maybe I just don’t find it as compelling as I’d hope.

    At no point in the video is there any mention of anyone being a feminist or adopting feminism.

    So, once again, you evidently are commenting on what you don’t actually know anything about.

    You’ll notice (or maybe ignored?) the fact that I prefaced that by saying I was using feminism as an example, I guess comparisons and illustrations aren’t exactly your stronger point either. It’s truly amazing to me how many people are unable to disassociate an example, from the thing that it’s actually being referenced to.

    So you are against the Four Horsemen? You must indeed really hate Dawkins and Hitchens and Harris!

    There is something perverse going on when people cheer ridicule of theist immorality and stupidity, but can’t abide it when comparable immorality or stupidity is called out in our own ranks. Either condemn all of it, or apply the same standards of acceptance to both. Lines can be drawn between “appropriate” and “too far”; but there cannot logically be different lines for atheists than we apply to theists. Think about that.

    How presumptuous of what I think… But as a clarification, I don’t particularly like Dawkins or Hitchens as a matter of arguing for the truth of their claims, Harris I don’t have as strong of a distaste for, some of what he says I’m very much in agreement with. Your work, personally, and that of people like Eliezer Yudkowsky I’m much more palatable to and always recommend to others. I agree with you about the ridiculousness of theism and their nonsense and conjecture. Although their position is stupid, in point of fact, there are theists that I can find myself in agreement with on a host of separate issues, and can tolerate to a much wider degree than certain atheists that come to mind.

    Um, if you are commenting here and are asserting something and not even trying to make an argument in support of that assertion, why are you commenting here? Just think how appalled you would be if a theist did that to you. Made some assertion and some lazy pseudo-argument for it, which you then pointed out is fallacious, and they replied, “Oh, I wasn’t trying to make an argument…so how dare you say it was fallacious!”

    … Not everybody tries to make an argument according to the structure of the Socratic method. I’ve noticed occasions here, and in other places, where you completely miss the point the commenter is trying to make, and dismiss it all as either: “addressed in my original post,” or “this is a fallacy of x, y, and z…,” and fail to address the more fundamental point they’re trying to articulate. Maybe this part at least, was a failure of communication on my end.

    Which is illogical–because I discuss the parameters in meticulous detail and even discuss the fact that there are fuzzy cases and plenty of room for debate in my very first article on Atheism Plus, the very one I reference in the video. To not read what someone actually says, and then condemn it as cult-like, is the height of irresponsibility. Indeed, if you are looking for religious-like behavior, that’s more befitting the category. Don’t you think?

    Irrespective of whether or not it’s illogical, it’s what people do. That that therefore makes it acceptable, isn’t what I’m saying, what I am saying is that going around claiming that everybody else is an idiot and a jerk is more effectively going to marginalize your own position than as a way of gaining acceptance. The mere observation that so many people disagree with you on this yet you “appear” to make no comprehension or desire to understand their concerns without this douchebag persona about you, I would think, testifies to precisely the fact that you’re succeeding in doing the opposite of you hope to achieve out of this… Despite your insistence that there’s plenty of room for debate, your fiery overtones and derision of other people would seem to suggest otherwise… I agree with you on the cult-ish statements, Richard, I said, I’m not arguing with you, I’m trying to clarify both my own point (which perhaps I may not be doing very well), as well as your own. Not every damn conversation between one person and another, takes the form of some argument that puts you at odds with the other person. As far as religious behavior goes, in many respects, a lot of their behavior pertaining to their own mindset could be found here as well, between people like P.Z. Myers and Thunderf00t, but I’m merely referencing that as one particular example, even you would be forced to agree, that you could find religious-like behavior among atheists, if not, well then… Yeah, okay…

    Since I have never, ever said any such thing, your question is kind of moot, isn’t it?

    Fallacy of missing the point?… Re-read what I said on the matter, Richard.

  48. thumper1990 says

    @Illusio #2.4

    “The Patriarchy” really has no more meaning than “Whatever any given feminist doesn’t like”.

    Actually, patriarchy is rather well-defined by a number of sources. The best and most in depth definition of patriarchy as defined in modern feminism is probably that last one;

    “Patriarchy (rule by fathers) is a social system in which the male is the primary authority figure central to social organization and the central roles of political leadership, moral authority, and control of property, and where fathers hold authority over women and children. It implies the institutions of male rule and privilege, and entails female subordination.”

    I think it should be patently obvious to anyone with eyes to see that we do live under exactly that kind of system. It is changing, but slowly, and we sure as hell have not gotten away from it yet. We are a patriarchy, this is just a fact.

    • says

      It’s important to emphasize the fact of it being a spectrum, i.e. a society can be more or less patriarchal (it’s not either/or, just all in or all not). Saudi Arabia is extremely patriarchal. Jordan is a lot less patriarchal than that, but still a lot more patriarchal than America. Etc. Our society is sliding down the spectrum toward less patriarchality, but it isn’t at the bottom of the spectrum yet. And we should want it to be. So reasonable efforts to keep pushing it down that slope should be laudable.

  49. gary says

    Great talk on atheism plus, guess what I dont give a shit about atheism plus. My only interest in attending atheism conferences is to hear the arguments against and debates on religion. Do I care about womens rights, LBGT rights, rights of minorities absolutely. Simply put I dont want or need someone telling me how to be a better atheist.

    • says

      You are confusing two completely different things.

      The only part in which I refer to people being “better atheists” is in regard to asking them to strive to be more compassionate, honest, and reasonable (and to more actively speak out against cruelty, dishonesty, and unrepentant unreasonableness).

      Yet you are referring instead to a completely different section of my talk, about diversifying conference and meetup talk topics as a means to increase the draw to conferences and the movement (which will work regardless of what you yourself like to watch, because we can double our numbers by attracting both you and the people who will come to hear other things) and to make more atheists better informed citizens (since that’s one of the responsibilities and functions of communities, and is a desirable end in itself).

      Since you confuse those two things, it’s clear you don’t actually understand what A+ is and evidently didn’t actually watch the video either (or didn’t pay any attention to it if you did).

  50. Sally Grant says

    Isn’t atheism+ just secular humanism? And that has been going for hundreds of years. Why do we need a new name? What’s wrong with humanism?

  51. jodyp says

    You get so many points from me just for having the patience to explain yourself over and over and over to people who are making it a point not to understand, Mr. Carrier.

    They think by being angrily ignorant they can frustrate you out of trying. All it’s doing is making them look stupid. Kudos.

    • says

      “You get so many points from me just for having the patience to explain yourself over and over and over to people who are making it a point not to understand, Mr. Carrier.

      They think by being angrily ignorant they can frustrate you out of trying. All it’s doing is making them look stupid. Kudos.”

      This view is a little detached from reality. Carrier has immense patience, I grant you, but his explanations have failed to convince an overwhelming number of people (Carrier will tell you they “haters”, but, without actual proof, it is simply baseless slander), but so much of what A+ consists of is subjective. That means there is no clear cut answer. No objective right or wrong.

      In short, how do you come to the conclusion that you, and those of like-mind, are reasonable, and intelligent, whereas those who disagree with you are “making a point not to understand”? This notion there is no possibility that a person who disagrees with A+ could be in any way reasonable or intelligent is damaging, and preventing any real dialogue between yourselves and the people who disagree with you.

    • jodyp says

      Ah, here’s one now. Awash in logical fallacies, no less.

      Every time he has to point out he’s already explained the question, he demonstrates it. The people asking the questions make it perfectly clear they haven’t reviewed the material and don’t plan to. And I never said that the naysayers weren’t intelligent, just that they’re trying to frustrate him out of his goals. They are certainly smart enough to be aware of what they’re doing. Much like you are right now.

      But I get the feeling you knew that. Or rather, would know that, if you didn’t make it a point not to. Thanks for proving my point. :)

    • says

      John Bullock:

      In short, how do you come to the conclusion that you, and those of like-mind, are reasonable, and intelligent, whereas those who disagree with you are “making a point not to understand”?

      Some familiarity with the way scientific skeptics work might be helpful here. While skeptics as a group are not trained in any specific scientific discipline, we familiarize ourselves with cognitive biases and logical fallacies and other sources of deception (of ourselves or of others). While we can never say for certain (as in, no one can say anything for certain) that an individual practitioner or promoter of some pseudoscience or other is consciously deceiving others, versus “innocently” deceiving themselves, we can take note of when these advocates demonstrate an awareness of these pitfalls by, for instance, claiming that others are falling into them, and more broadly the capacity for careful logical reasoning, as when they construct elaborate arguments to support their claims.

      One example of the former is yourself, above, suggesting that the upvote/downvote ratio on one YouTube video constitutes a “consensus” view, the dismissal or denial of which is a common pseudoscientific tactic; yet necessary to the utility of a consensus as evidence for the correctness of anything are (1) reason to believe that those whose opinions determine the consensus (in science, experts; in the YouTube video, YouTube users who watched the video) are in better command of the available evidence than others and (2) reason to believe that this community is adequately represented by those who have voiced their opinions. It’s obvious that neither of these conditions is met by the batch of YouTubers who have voted on the video, (1) because no expertise in much of anything is required to understand Carrier’s video and (2) because Thunderf00t has directed his huge fan base to it.

      As an atheist who almost certainly has had at some point to respond to the charge that the vast majority of the world’s population that believes in some deity provide some evidence of some deity’s existence, and in any case ought to be acutely aware of such tactics, this can only represent a lapse in reason or intellectual dishonesty (though feel free to broaden my imagination).

      This is of course only one example. As examples accumulate, however, one may reasonably infer that some commenters’ goals are not to understand but to object. (My use of your comment as an example should not be construed as an accusation. This reasoning certainly does not apply to all non-supportive commenters here.)

    • says

      Cornelioid, thank you for your reply. I’ll admit to reading a hint of passive aggressiveness into your comment, but I can accept that it may be own emotions causing me to read it that way. Trying to debate in this space is demoralizing, there seems to be few capable of a polite exchange.

      I appreciate you responding to my question (especially seeing as jodyp seems reluctant to do more than shout “logical fallacy!”, and run off without making a point). In response to your example, I should point out that my intention was not to claim that the YouTube votes were a consensus of the whole of Atheism on the subject of Atheism+, but to highlight and question the apparent dismissal of those votes. It is one thing to argue that the voting base is biased, or not familiar with all the facts, and that that is contributing to the overwhelming rejection of Atheism+, and I am happy to have that talk. It is entirely another thing to dismiss every downvote (as Richard did when he labelled them “haters” in the first paragraph of this post), and no accept the possibility that a single one of the overwhelming majority could be a legitimate, reasoned vote.

      This was also the motivation behind my comment to jodyp. He/she seems convinced that those of us not buying into Atheism+ are actively making a point not to understand, rather than understanding perfectly, and disagreeing.

      I think it is also worth noting that the YouTube videos received something of a spike in downvotes on both occasions that Richard called for people to go and watch the video and decide for themselves, implying that a significant portion of the downvotes were from people sent by this site.

      In writing this reply, something has occurred to me. If the aim of Atheism+ is to effect social change for the better, they will need numbers. As it stands, the vast majority of Atheism that has voiced an opinion is against Atheism+. Even if not one of those opinions is a reasoned, valid opinion, surely Atheism+’s aim should be to educate them and win them over to increase their numbers, so they can become capable of effecting social change.

      The contempt Richard has shown towards detractors, both reasonable commenters and trolls alike, is not going to win anyone over. You might hurt someone’s ego by pointing out (or trying to) that they’re wrong, why call them a douchebag at the same time?

    • jodyp says

      Nah, I just don’t have the time or the patience to explain this stuff over and over and over, particularly when Chris has already done so. I respect him for it, which was the subject of my original comment, of course :)

      See, if they really were interested in understanding, they would have reviewed the material before commenting. Chris points this out, but it seems to have escaped your eagle eye. Somehow.

      If they simply disagreed, they’d just move on. But they, and you, don’t do that. You fight it vehemently, play dumb, and make enormous, disingenuous arguments like the one you get into with Chris above.

      Why, it’s as if you guys aren’t arguing in good faith to fight something you feel threatens your sense of privilege.

      Funny that.

      :)

    • says

      I’ll admit to reading a hint of passive aggressiveness into your comment, but I can accept that it may be own emotions causing me to read it that way.

      You’re right to detect it; i haven’t gotten the impression that your case against Carrier’s post makes much more sense than anyone else’s in this thread. For our sakes, i think it’s worth admitting our biases; for my example’s sake, i think it’s especially helpful to be shown errors in our own thinking (i didn’t just pick an example from your comment to be mean); and for the thread’s sake, i tend to agree with the view that, as an ally with respect to most axes of prejudice, i assume a greater responsibility to remain cool-headed in discussions like these than those whose experiences are being scrutinized or marginalized.

      I think it is also worth noting that the YouTube videos received something of a spike in downvotes on both occasions that Richard called for people to go and watch the video and decide for themselves, implying that a significant portion of the downvotes were from people sent by this site.

      Well, here one must be careful to avoid the base rate fallacy. We have learned over the past years (for my part specifically on Reddit) that there exist highly attentive and malicious individuals who jump on opportunities to demonize or downvote new media that promote Atheism+ and the principles associated with it. That Carrier’s posts correlated with spikes in downvotes, if true, cannot discriminate between your hypothesis and mine. For similar reasons, i think we are well-justified in dismissing the downvotes as evidence, in much the same way as, last year, Thunderf00t and Myers dismissed each others claims (both misconstrued, as i understand it) that the opinions of those who frequented their own channels constituted evidence of opinions shared by atheists (or whomever) generally.

      It would, on the other hand, based on previous examples, be rather unexpected for enough people who share these principles to jump onto YouTube this time to overwhelm the downvoters. Note also that i am not, and to my knowledge neither is Carrier, suggesting that the current or expected balance of votes should play into whether any individual chooses to vote, and how.

      The contempt Richard has shown towards detractors, both reasonable commenters and trolls alike, is not going to win anyone over.

      Actually, it was Carrier’s overt contempt for the kinds of attitudes being tolerated by many other bloggers (and leaders) that originally won me over. I could go into more detail about how ostracizing obstructionists is very helpful to winning over the marginalized, but it would be indirect experience. I suggest reading their blogs for insight into this.

    • says

      Cornelioid, I agree with your reasoning. We are on two different sides of an issue, looking at the same evidence, and parsing it with our own bias. The difference between my interaction with you, and my interaction with people like Carrier, is that I can happily walk away from my interaction with you feeling as though I have had a reasoned exchange, and, while we are both still on opposite sides, we are both willing to at least listen. An exchange with Carrier, on the other hand, devolves into ad hominem attacks and as the amount of technicalities with which he can argue his case are worn down.

      In any case, anything I might have accomplished by commenting here has either been accomplished, or sailed by. I wish you (and your movement, sincerely) all the best, but I remain unconvinced.

    • says

      Nah, I just don’t have the time or the patience to explain this stuff over and over and over

      Or. indeed, at all.

      If they simply disagreed, they’d just move on. But they, and you, don’t do that. You fight it vehemently, play dumb, and make enormous, disingenuous arguments like the one you get into with Chris above.

      The automatic assumption that people like me not agreeing with the reasoning people like you give is down to our being “dumb”, or “disingenuous” is typical of the A+ attitude I have experienced. Even if your reasoning was empirically “right” (as opposed to subjectively, a big word A+ seems to ignore) the sheer volume of disagreement should, at the very least, cause one to wonder if their presentation is off, if not their actual message.

      In any case, I’ve disagreed, I’ve heard what passed for arguments in this space, and now I’m moving on. Enjoy your movement.

    • says

      An exchange with Carrier, on the other hand, devolves into ad hominem attacks and as the amount of technicalities with which he can argue his case are worn down.

      To respond in somewhat Carrieran fashion, can you provide an example, from this or any other comment thread, of Carrier committing an ad hominem? Remember that this requires citing personal (or otherwise irrelevant) attributes of someone as evidence against their position on something, not simply insulting or shaming someone for bad behavior, which practice Carrier has explicitly defended.

      But that’s rhetorical. For what it may be worth in parting (turns out it takes me a few paragraphs to say), the meta-lesson i’ve taken away from these threads as they’ve come along is that incredibly many people who fashion themselves skeptics and critical thinkers become as just obsessed with tone and respect in their exchanges with social justice advocates as homeopaths and creationists with skeptics. By entering, of our own volition, into the “Community of Reason”, it seems to me that we adopt a unique responsibility to take other people seriously in spite of themselves. (Sagan’s famous exchange with a credulous taxi driver is the go-to example.) We can criticize people for their stridency or arrogance or whatever, but we must avoid using that as a fallback. Yet, over and over again, these are the grounds to which detractors of Atheism+ retreat—detractors who, as i explained above, ought to know better.

      Are you sure you’re not falling prey to it? This is very much what i mean:

      Even if your reasoning was empirically “right” (as opposed to subjectively, a big word A+ seems to ignore) the sheer volume of disagreement should, at the very least, cause one to wonder if their presentation is off, if not their actual message.

      Besides this being exactly the kind of retort we have come to expect from Christians, i think a case can be made that they’re more reasonable to make it than detractors of Atheism+ within the community of reason. We might prefer that our fellows moderate their tone and polish their presentations, or cite sources that we don’t know offhand where to find, but we should be embarrassed to find ourselves absolving ourselves of the responsibility to figure these things out on our own, or failing to recognize when we’ve made the shift from skeptic to contrarian.

      On this point i like to cite this terrible essay, in which the author, a skeptic, essentially excuses himself for any culpability in perpetuating climate change denial on the grounds that the scientists and science communicators he’d encountered had failed to tailor their message to his political prejudices. While this is a vital concern when it comes to communicating science to the lay public, i don’t see that skeptics have any business using this excuse.

      Neither do i see that activist atheists have any business raising tonal objections to Atheism+ if we can’t find fault with the actual message. On the contrary, it strikes me that we are then morally obliged to help communicate this message. This seems particularly true to the extent (that we recognize) that the the injustices under scrutiny impair and silence those who experience them. (With apologies to jodyp: I have friends who get the kinds of questions you’ve been asking on a daily basis, often with presumptions smuggled into them that would require additional time and emotional effort to address. They cannot afford to answer every one of them in earnest. I have no reason to believe that jodyp’s circumstances are any different.)

  52. brive1987 says

    Hello. I come here with no malice. I started out pretty closed minded about this A+ business. I felt that once you diverted down pathways that are values based then you have subjective forks in the road that must be decided on and the various forks required their own branded approaches. The A+ “passions” typified by PZ and other uncompromising views (eg those around “privilage”) kind of ran counter to this.

    Anyway I’ve really tried to look at the questions in a way similar to those 3d pictures where you have to shift to a weird focus. And I feel like I’m on the cusp of a new perspective especially with regards to how women see the world. So for that “thanks” – even though I’m not on board yet with some of the more extreme views ( I had one commentator suggest I should think about apologising to my (very young) daughter if I have given her an unreciprocated hug!)

    A couple of “other business” – no real agenda observations made in good faith (I hope)

    Your speech made many specific points true. But it also supported the overall concept of brand A+ .and that indirectly supports points not specifically raised. I found some of your responses above a bit frustrating where a “reasonable ” query was raised about A+ but you responded with “not in my speech don’t down vote me.”

    Also I am not sure whether the blog is an academic environment where every point needs rigorous support or whether it’s a place for opinion and perspective. Very often you seem to dismiss “idea” comments that do not possess supporting footnotes. That’s fine if it’s your rule, but it is a bit limiting to general discussion.

    But thanks again for getting me thinking. I do appreciate having my views challenged and possibly reformed.

    • says

      “Freedom” being code for the freedom to be cruel, dishonest, and manipulative. Another kidnapper in prison complaining about being a kidnap victim, ladies and gentlemen.

  53. Hammer of dog says

    Someone said to me the other day that “opinions are like assholes, everyone’s got one,” to which I replied, “Sure, but some assholes stink and others don’t.”

    To #59, brive1987: If someone holds an opinion that is not supported by fact, rather is refuted by fact, shouldn’t a free-thinking, critical thinker, point out such? And if you are the person holding such unsupportable opinion, wouldn’t you be glad for the education so you can correct your faulty opinion? Yes, opinions can be wrong.

    There is almost nothing more disgusting to me than the assertion that just because something is “only someone’s opinion” that it must be respected and accepted as valid. I say no. Opinions, just like any other assertion that relates to the real world, can be verified. Not all, sure, but some can. For instance, is there a problem with misogyny in the atheist movement? If your opinion is, “No, there is no problem,” you are holding that opinion against a mountain of evidence to the contrary, much like Ken Ham believes in ID and young earth despite mountains of evidence to the contrary. Do you want to be Ken Ham? Or do you want to entertain that, in light of a mountain of evidence, you are wrong. And admit that. To me, there is no greater feeling than having an ill-informed opinion of mine corrected after being exposed to the relevant facts. Try it, you may like it.

    And Richard, you rock! I have enjoyed every speech I have ever seen of yours and this was certainly no exception. If I could upvote it 1,000 times, I would. (Well, no, I wouldn’t because that would be dishonest.)

    And to those with Richard has ‘debated’ in this comment thread, man I’d hate to be you. He effectively eviscerated all of your complaints. Just admit it, it’s OK, we all fuck up sometimes.

  54. Rui Dias says

    Maybe people don´t really like your ideas. That´s why they Buuu.

    ” Please go watch that video (Atheism…Plus What?) and see if you can find anything in it that honestly deserves a downvote.”

    No, everything you say there is inquestionable and everyone should like it. Who are we to think otherwise

  55. Theo Ffensivatheist says

    A+ = “Some Atheists are more equal than others”. Sorry but that’s what the whole thing sounds like to me.

  56. Bill Christ says

    [This is the first comment up to now that I have deleted for violating my comments policy, containing no evidence or argument and consisting solely of gratuitous insults and foul language.--RC]

  57. stevecarlos says

    I did read the following part that attempts to explain why frequency of anonymous comments/harassment/etc is an indicator for the level of misogyny and sexism in the atheist community.

    “But one of the examples of what they addressed is the hyperskeptical claim that all the harassment of atheism women in our movement is done by hundreds of Christians posing as atheists, which actually should outrage you all the more if you really believed that (rather than using it as an excuse to do nothing about it). Greta Christina gave an excellent discourse on why that doubt is irrational (in short: we see the same phenomenon in every other movement, e.g. the gaming and tech industries, so we should not expect to be a miraculous exception), and other members of the panel added to that (such as pointing out that we have plenty of evidence a lot of them are atheists).”

    I do think it likely that this is being done by many Christians as a sort of false flag coordinated operation. I haven’t heard that claimed by many though. I would say the most likely explanation is as follows: worldwide there are millions of internet trolls. They can comment with multiple accounts and easily cloak their IP addresses so as to appear more numerous. They feed off each other and there are even troll boards where they share their supposed victories and targets. The most likely explanation to internet trolling/harassment is simply internet trolling/harassment. Many of these trolls may be religious or atheist or whatever, and their identity in that regard might be totally superfluous in regards to their motivation. You will notice that non-atheist feminists also get trolled and harassed very heavily, as Greta points out, therefore I do not see why when atheist feminists get trolled and harassed that it must necessarily have anything to do with them being atheists or the trolls/harassers being atheist as well. It might just be in that case that feminists are harassed online. Atheists may be more or less likely to do this to them. From the data source available (messages from unknown persons with the possibility to have multiple accounts), it is impossible for you to parse this. I think it is logical to discourage the abuse of people online, but you go a bridge to far when you make claims about the identity of the harassers. You simply do not have this information. Your explanation is inadequate.

    • says

      You are making an extraordinary claim without even evidence, much less extraordinary evidence.

      This is not a sound way to reason. And you should know that.

      It is also a stupid thing to argue, since as you just said it shouldn’t even matter anyway–yet you go out of your way to make this irrelevant claim here, for reasons I won’t speculate on.

  58. Gabriel Diaz says

    John Bullok brought up some very good points that Richard dismissed with a sentence. I then go on to read that he accuses others of lacking intellectual ammo for the reason that they do not respond to him but the one time I see a guy assert exactly what is wrong with Richard’s video, he does the exact same thing. All I see in Richard is a powerfully insecure little man that is literally unable to see his pathetic lack of logic in this area. Why else would he not adress a single point that was made and instead replied with one of the most condescending comments I have heard in a while. Where does acceptance of facts come again in Maslow’s heirarchy?

    • says

      John Bullok brought up some very good points

      Let’s see you demonstrate (not assert, but demonstrate) that even one of his points was a “good point.”

  59. says

    Let’s see you demonstrate (not assert, but demonstrate) that even one of his points was a “good point.”

    You know what? Forget it. I have read most of the comments above and I have found a consistent pattern: “Nya-nya-nya-nya.” Also, there are a lot of people so desperate to be on a moral high-horse that they’ll pick any old sick mule and ride it, regardless. Anything to appear righteous and indignant (needless to say, it’s a phenomenon not exclusive to any community).

    What’s astonishing is that someone makes a claim (e.g. that you call a hater anyone who disagrees with you), you refute it, and the same claim is made yet again by another person. As if you had not dealt with it.

    I am neither theist nor atheist, but I do believe I have a fair degree of clarity in the way I approach issues. Initially, I asked of Atheism Plus, “What is the point? Who cares?”. Now, after some consideration (reading objections and defences) I have seen that at worst, A+ is okay. It’s fine. It isn’t ‘divisive’ in the way some people think (as if atheists were not or could not be divided before??).

    It seems to me that the people who agree are silent – because there is nothing more that needs saying. The minority is the most vocal of the two groups. The third group, the indifferent or undecided, are causing no hassles as far as I can see.

    Prohibitionists, I now understand, were a minority. Yet they kicked up enough of a stink to cause weak legislators to give in to their demands. I suggest that most atheists are not represented by the objectors to A+.

  60. jynx says

    I believe you are causing harm (by distracting and dividing) to the atheist movement and in a sense cannibalizing it from the inside. Fortunately atheism+ will die a slow death.

    Your speech is a major turnoff to the majority of atheists. Your readers enjoy your work because of your historical accuracy and research abilities. But when you try to venture in to humanistic territory, you come off as pompous, arrogant, judgmental, and completely unlikable.

    The biggest turnoff is you seem to be telling atheists what human values they should have. We atheists are rebels! We are freethinkers. Many of us are humanists. What we value, and how we value things is our own business. The whole direction of your speech gags me.

    The skeptical movement is different in that it focuses on critical thinking, which is the common thread that is the reason most of us are atheists. It operates on a separate rail to atheism, yet has much in common as it is a catalyst.
    I am sure will find ways to convince yourself that nothing I have said has any worth and has no logic (the same way you relied to others on this blog). BUT, here are 3 absolute facts: I have your books, I was a fan, but you have lost 1 person with your speech.

  61. Susan Stanley says

    Current statistics on YouTube as of today:
    Upvotes: 757
    Downvotes: 5,945

    I think that reasonableness and decency has spoken …
    I don’t think a single “hater” downvoted this video, I think it was just people who agree with the previous poster said, think that Atheism+ and it’s promoters are “pompous, arrogant, judgemental, and completely unlikable”.

    Each downvote is a vote against cult-like ridiculousness and, so far, 5,945 people have shown what they think of Atheism+ (I’ve not voted on youtube yet, so you can make that 5,946).

    • says

      Out of nearly 30,000 views, 5,000 downvotes from Thunder00t fans (not necessarily 5000 persons…anyone who knows what they are doing can vote multiple times) doesn’t really reflect the general view of organized atheism. I’m actually in the real world, at conferences and meetups around the nation, and know personally the leaders of many national and local organizations and have met with personally thousands of atheists in these venues, and I can verify that this vote swarm of haters does not represent even a tenth of the actual movement. So, nice try using a thoroughly unscientific argument. Just be thankful we don’t elect our leaders this way.

    • says

      Don’t bother trying to give his constructive feedback, he is as reasonable as any militant.
      It’s just sad, but kinda funny at the same time to watch him try and defend every position no matter what the criticism is.

      Death to Atheism+ !

    • says

      Uhuh. I say simple and demonstrable truths in a calm and reasonable manner and all of a sudden that makes me a “militant.”

      Death to Atheism+ means death to Atheism + Humanism + Skepticism. So, we now know where your values are.

  62. Dave Elliot says

    No Richard, he’s saying Death to “pointless, worthless, pomposity”, he’s NOT saying death to Humanism and Skepticism. I mean, you do have the intellect to understand this right? People who are against Atheism+ are NOT FOR supporting rape or death threats, and they are NOT against humanism, and they are NOT against social justice. Can you see why people might be insulted at you saying that?

    Even you can see that this is a false dichotomy. You are conflating people being against Atheism+ to being against Humanism and Skepticism. People who are against Atheism+ are FOR human rights, social justice, and getting rid of harassment (because atheists and skeptics are generally good people that consider their values), but have no interest in the Atheism+ label. Please say you understand this, as it’s actually really insulting to tell people who are for social justice that they are NOT for social justice if they don’t support your crusade. I mean, that’s really really insulting Richard, please say you can see this?

    I’ve been thinking about all the reasons *why* I’m against Atheism+ so much, and one of them, of course, is that it’s about a cult of personality. The people behind it (i.e. you, others on FtB, and Skepchick etc) have been desperately trying to find a way to elevate yourselves into media personalities, and to be able to go around the world evangelizing your new dogma, and getting good speaking gigs. You may say you are not evangelizing a dogmas, and that you are doing this simply because you care, and well, in that case I have a couple question:

    – On youtube you don’t really think that all those people are just “haters” or “thunderfoot” fans (do you? really? cos that’s worrying if you think that, and the corollary is, where are all the 10’s of thousands of fans that should be upvoting your video in that case?? I mean, to use your false dichotomy, if they don’t upvote your video, do they also not care about humanism or skepticism. All they need to do is press the Upvote and they don’t?

    – But the most important question: in the above, people make it clear why they dislike this self-serving nothing that is the Atheism+ construct, so if you really care about the *issues*, why not just drop this thing and go back to talking about social justice and human rights *without* it being artificially connected to this Atheism+ stuff? Or, do you feel that, if you just keep plugging it enough, that it will catch on, and people will go with it, as people are ultimately sheep to be patronized to by you?

    People are not against social justice or human rights Richard (so please stop saying that), they are against Atheism+. Can you acknowledge that please?

    • says

      No Richard, he’s saying Death to “pointless, worthless, pomposity”, he’s NOT saying death to Humanism and Skepticism.

      Yes, he is. Since Atheism+ is only the latter. If some advocates of Atheism+ fit the former, that’s besides the point. You wouldn’t say “death to atheism” because some atheists write “pointless, worthless, pomposity.”

      I mean, you do have the intellect to understand this right?

      …where are all the 10′s of thousands of fans that should be upvoting your video in that case??

      Why you think I have “10’s of thousands of fans” is beyond me.

      …have no interest in the Atheism+ label.

      And if you actually ever read what I write or listen to what I say, you would know I specifically and explicitly say, repeatedly, that we aren’t asking anyone to adopt that label. The label is just a name for what’s happening: the merging of the atheism movement with the humanism and skepticism movements. You don’t have to call it that. But you can at least endorse the fact of what’s happening and spend your time helping it along rather than only ever attacking everyone who promotes that development (and then claiming you are “for” things that in fact you never write a single article in defense of).

      …is that it’s about a cult of personality.

      No more than atheism itself is. Harris. Dawkins. Hitchens. Shermer.

      That’s simply an illogical reason to say “death to atheism.” Likewise “death to atheism+.”

      …evangelizing your new dogma

      Which is it? A dogma? Or something you support?

      You just implied you were in favor of atheism + humanism + skepticism. Now you call it a dogma.

      Pick a lane.

  63. Dave Elliot says

    Atheism is not a cult of personality. I agree with you on the power of the individuals that you mention, but Atheism is independent of those people and would exist whether they did or not.

    > Which is it? A dogma? Or something you support?

    It’s a dogma, because it is trying to conflate unrelated things under a banner, and using an indisputable false dichotomy in doing so, and then using that basis to instruct people in how they should act (which Atheism does not) which is patronizing and condescending to people that are too smart to be fooled by something like that. I don’t support Atheism+. It’s a dogma because of the way it’s constructed.

    > You just implied you were in favor of atheism + humanism + skepticism. Now you call it a dogma.

    I’m an atheist. I support humanism and skepticism. I do not support Atheism+ because it’s an artificial construct. If someone came along and created another artificial construct that including Atheism, I would also discard that as it’s pointless.

    Actually, I noticed that you completely ignored the main point of my post, so I’ll ask it again:
    Richard, do you concede that it is possible for a person to be opposed to the “construct” of Atheism+ (on the basis that it’s an artificial construct), but for Humanism and Skepticism and Atheism. Is that ***possible***?

    • says

      Atheism is independent of those people and would exist whether they did or not.

      Ditto Atheism+. Which we documented existed even before we named it and started talking about it.

      It’s a dogma, because it is trying to conflate unrelated things under a banner

      Atheism + Humanism + Skepticism is addition, not conflation.

      and using an indisputable false dichotomy in doing so

      I have no idea what that’s a reference to.

      …to instruct people in how they should act (which Atheism does not) which is patronizing and condescending to people that are too smart to be fooled by something like that.

      So you are condemning anyone asking anyone to adopt any moral values whatever?

      Don’t you realize that confirms what I said? That you are against the values of humanism and skepticism?

      If you were for them, you could not consistently say it was wrong of anyone to promote them.

      Yet here you are, doing exactly that.

      You’ve picked a lane I see.

      I don’t support Atheism+. It’s a dogma because of the way it’s constructed.

      What is dogmatic about Atheism + Humanism + Skepticism? What in that construction is dogmatic?

      I do not support Atheism+ because it’s an artificial construct.

      You do know that all words are artificial constructs, right? Homo sapiens is an artificial construct: humans artificially invented words to refer to a fact (the existence of a certain species, according to certain criteria). Atheism+ is the same thing (as I’ve said numerous times…suggesting you don’t actually read or listen to anything I’ve actually said about this). It is a name we invented to refer to something that already existed and was already growing before we named it: the merging of the atheist identity movement with humanist and skeptical values. The movement itself arose organically, years before it was named, with no single person creating it. All we did was name it. Which illogically pissed you off for no intelligible reason you’ve yet been able to identify.

      If someone came along and created another artificial construct that including Atheism, I would also discard that as it’s pointless.

      You know atheism itself is an artificial construct, right? A word artificially created to refer to something that already existed. And now it’s also an artificial construct of organizations and venues and networks under the banner of that invented name. Yet you aren’t offended by it having been named and described. Curious.

      Actually, I noticed that you completely ignored the main point of my post, so I’ll ask it again: Richard, do you concede that it is possible for a person to be opposed to the “construct” of Atheism+ (on the basis that it’s an artificial construct), but for Humanism and Skepticism and Atheism. Is that ***possible***?

      Um, dude. I answered this. So the fact that you claim I didn’t tells me you aren’t paying me even the merest respect of reading what I am saying even in the very conversation you are trying to participate in. Imagine if I treated you that way. Oh, wait, you just did! (Yet I didn’t treat you this way; yet here you are treating me this way, by ignoring what I said.) What a twisted web of hypocrisy you’ve tangled yourself up in. Truly a mess.

      Here is what I said:

      And if you actually ever read what I write or listen to what I say, you would know I specifically and explicitly say, repeatedly, that we aren’t asking anyone to adopt that label [of Atheism+]. The label is just a name for what’s happening: the merging of the atheism movement with the humanism and skepticism movements. You don’t have to call it that. But you can at least endorse the fact of what’s happening and spend your time helping it along rather than only ever attacking everyone who promotes that development (and then claiming you are “for” things that in fact you never write a single article in defense of).

      So, are you going to endorse the spread of humanist and skeptical values within the atheism movement and spend your time helping it along? Or are you just going to complain about it while simultaneously claiming not to be complaining about it?

  64. Dave Elliot says

    You misrepresented some of what I said so that’s not good i.e. you say you don’t understand the false dichotomy at all, when I spelled it out in my previous post etc, also you talked about 30,000 views, and 6,000 comments above, hence the comment about 10’s of thousands of fans, to which you said “Why you think I have “10′s of thousands of fans” is beyond me.”. You said 30,000 people watched the video, it was pointed out that 6,000 downvote, 700 upvotes, so why didn’t your supporters (some of the 23,000 other people) upvote the video (and even with your appeal to do so at the top of your post), so I think you know where the 10’s of thousands of fans point came from. That seemed disingenuous of you to pretend you didn’t know where the point came from. Oh, on a positive note, I am impressed that you have the decency to let all posts through moderation, that’s a good sign that you don’t use censorship the way that others do.

    > The label is just a name for what’s happening: the merging of the atheism movement with the humanism and skepticism movements. You don’t have to call it that. But you can at least endorse the fact of what’s happening and spend your time helping it along rather than only ever attacking everyone who promotes that development

    ok, I’ll be clear: Atheism+ is *not* happening. Atheism+ is dead and gone. “Look, matey, I know a dead parrot when I see one, and I’m looking at one right now!”. You let slip above that you want to be a head of the Atheism+ cult of personality (when you talked about Dawkins etc), but do you really expect anyone to take you seriously when if they disagree with the need for such a banner as Atheism+, you denigrate them by calling them C.H.U.D. (Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller). You have NOT cracked the essential means to attract people to you or your cause (i.e. to bring them in slowly, make them feel comfortable with the concept, instead you just used the George W. Bush approach of “you are either with us, or you are with the terrorists”. That might (partially) work if you are POTUS, but most people don’t carry that weight, and it’s patronizing people that are smarter and know better. If you’d just approached this differently, you could have attracted people. Try and remember why you were repulsed when George W. Bush did the “you are either with us, or with the terrorists” thing, because you knew it was deceitful.

    If you honestly believe that the 6,000 downvotes of your video are just “thunderfoot supporters”, that is worrying. These are not haters, they are just people turned off by the concept and the way it was thrust upon us (C.H.U.D.) and hence, unfortunately, Atheism+ has to disappear. Here’s a tip: if you’d wanted this concept to succeed you could have brought it on slow, not with a daft banner, but just talked about it for a couple years as wanting to talk about these concepts together, then ASK people if they would be interested in a definition that includes all of these things together. You would’ve got a TON more support in that way.

    Conflation: In logic, it is the practice of treating two distinct concepts as if they were one, which produces errors or misunderstandings as a fusion of distinct subjects tends to obscure analysis of relationships which are emphasized by contrasts.
    It’s definitely conflation. And addition, and various other applicable terms that you might want to use. Doesn’t matter though as this parrot is deceased.

    • says

      You said 30,000 people watched the video, it was pointed out that 6,000 downvote, 700 upvotes, so why didn’t your supporters (some of the 23,000 other people) upvote the video (and even with your appeal to do so at the top of your post), so I think you know where the 10′s of thousands of fans point came from. That seemed disingenuous of you to pretend you didn’t know where the point came from.

      Sorry, I still don’t follow you. That 10s of thousands watched the video doesn’t make them my fans. And that 20,000 didn’t vote doesn’t entitle you to know what they thought of the video or its content. That TF has thousands of fanatics who will march to his drum is well-established. I, on the other hand, have nothing like that, as I am lesser known. But this movement consists of over 100,000 participants worldwide. So that doesn’t tell us anything about the movement as a whole.

      Oh, on a positive note, I am impressed that you have the decency to let all posts through moderation, that’s a good sign that you don’t use censorship the way that others do.

      You do still have to follow my comments policy. Just FYI.

      In my experience, some people start to do that when they realize they can no longer advance actual arguments or evidence for their claims. I’d guess I reject maybe 1 comment out of every 100, and maybe 2 or 3 people never send valid comments at all and thus never get to post here, but I don’t block them. When they post a comment that conforms to the policy requirement, they’ll get in. But only then. And they usually just give up rather than behave. But that’s their choice.

      Atheism+ is *not* happening. Atheism+ is dead and gone.

      No, it’s not. As I remarked on another thread (where exactly the same remark appeared at almost the exact same time…someone is clearly spreading FOX-news style talking points and trying to make lies into reality by repeating them…that doesn’t work, BTW), the movement is going our way, toward promotion of humanist and skeptical values within the atheist movement, and promoting outreach to women and minorities, and sponsoring talks on social justice issues at pretty much every convention we have now. Indeed, there is hardly anything we’ve been asking for that isn’t being implemented to some degree in atheist groups across the U.S. and Canada. As I’ve pointed out before, TF’s attempt to take over the movement resoundingly failed. It is the anti-feminist and anti-humanist and anti-skepticism wings of the atheism movement that are dying. Follow the trend out projecting five to ten years from now, and you can see Atheism+ actually succeeding. It might not be called that, but as I noted, we have always said it doesn’t matter what anyone calls it.

      You let slip above that you want to be a head of the Atheism+ cult of personality

      No, I didn’t.

      but do you really expect anyone to take you seriously when if they disagree with the need for such a banner as Atheism+, you denigrate them by calling them C.H.U.D. (Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller).

      This shows you don’t pay attention and don’t read what we write. I only ever called CHUDS those people who joked publicly about raping a teenage girl and who relentlessly harass women with rape jokes and fake porn featuring the target of their harassment or who likewise callously disregard the happiness of their own female peers by actively seeking to hurt them.

      I never called people who “opposed the need for an atheism+ banner” that. Ever.

      So, I’m sorry, but your fictional narrative is bullshit.

      Get with reality. Please. The view is better over here.

      Try and remember why you were repulsed when George W. Bush did the “you are either with us, or with the terrorists” thing, because you knew it was deceitful.

      Actually, do you remember what was actually wrong with that statement? He was saying you either do everything the U.S. wants you to (in other words, be our lapdogs and not question any policy or oppose us on anything) or you are supporting terrorists. Needless to say, what was wrong with that has zero parallel with saying “you are either for humanist values, or you are against them, and you are either for skeptical values, or you are against them.”

      And here again you are suggesting you do not believe atheists should fight anti-humanism or anti-skepticism, and that therefore you don’t actually support the values of humanism and skepticism.

      Conflation: In logic, it is the practice of treating two distinct concepts as if they were one, which produces errors or misunderstandings as a fusion of distinct subjects tends to obscure analysis of relationships which are emphasized by contrasts. It’s definitely conflation. And addition, and various other applicable terms that you might want to use. Doesn’t matter though as this parrot is deceased.

      Now you are contradicting yourself. You are saying + is the same symbol as = (“it’s conflation and addition at the same time!”…huh!?). That’s nonsense talk.

      Let’s stick with your claim that we have “treated two distinct concepts as if they were one.”

      Note that I have never done this. Only you have. We never “conflated” atheism with anything. We called it atheism PLUS, not new new atheism or some such. Thus we have always explicitly voiced it as addition and not conflation. Atheism as a movement would be better if it was more humanistic and skeptical. That’s it. That’s all we’re saying. You are the one who keeps ignoring this and conflating these things and then using that straw man to attack Atheism+ for what is still no intelligibly discernible reason.

  65. andy anybody says

    Your very childish for a guy with Dr. attached to his name. People have made points here and doing the equivalent putting your fingers in your ears and shouting NANANANANANA!! NO THEY DIDNT!!! dosent change it. It makes you look like an ass.

    ——–> John Bullock (he owned you hard)

    p.s He gave you plenty of valid reasons to down vote the vid. you didnt acknowledge it but your acceptance dosent matter to reality. Its is the objective witness of what is that matters. Opinion is meaningless.

    • says

      Nice try. But the record is here for all to see. They can judge for themselves whether anyone actually found anything actually in the video that they disagree with. They didn’t. They all bring up things that aren’t in it or that are even denied in it or refuted in it. If you can point to a single example otherwise in this thread, please do.

  66. J says

    Have you ever considered that maybe it isn’t “haters” who are downvoting your video, but perhaps people who legitimately disagree with you?

    I mean, youtube comments and youtube likes/dislikes have done a good job of weeding out the bs before. Creationist videos get downvoted for example. Not because they are “haters,” but because they disagree with the content of those videos. Creationists who disable comments and likes/dislikes use the same justification for it that both yourself and P.Z. use. That youtube comments are a horrible means of conversation and a cesspit of humanity.

    Also, I would love to see the justification for this. Where are the comments that you believe to be “haters.” Where are the comments that you believe we need to shun?

    • says

      Disagree with what? That’s the test. They don’t identify anything actually authentically in the video that they disagree with. Likewise here. That tells you all you need to know about what’s going on.

  67. J says

    Of course they’ve left comments on the video and on both this post and your original A+ manifesto post as to why they disagree. I’ve read many of the comments on both the video and these two blog posts and you consistently disregard what people say. You say “I DEMAND YOU TELL ME WHY YOU DOWNVOTED” and they say “Well here’s why I downvoted.” And you say “Well that’s not a legitimate reason, you didn’t actually tell me.” And they say something along the lines of “You don’t get to tell me why I disliked your video.” You’ve just chosen to disregard everything they say in a “lalala I can’t hear you” sort of way.

    Are all those who downvote creationist videos, like VenomfangX’s videos, only doing it because they are “haters” too? That is what he would like us to believe.

    Seriously Mr. Carrier, I deeply respect your talks on the historicity of Jesus and other such topics, but I wish you had not gone off the deep end into cult like behavior like you have. Likewise with PZ Meyers. Please take your fingers out of your ears and truely listen to what people have to say instead of being needlessly divisive.

    • says

      I disregard things people say when what they say is not what I said in the video (or is even contradicted by what I said in the video) and thus not actually responding to it.

      Again, the record is plain here in this thread. Anyone can read it and see how consistently naysayers failed to produce any reason to downvote the video that had anything to do with what was actually in the video.

  68. J says

    Here’s an interesting experiment for you Mr. Carrier. Take a moment and read your original Atheism Plus manifesto and watch your original speech. As you watch it, leave your ideology at the door. As a skeptic, watch/read it and ask yourself “What in this video/blog post could anyone possibly object to? Why have people downvoted this video/left negative comments on this blog post? Is anything I say in this video/blog post falsifiable and how could it be shown to be wrong if it is?” Use your skeptical mindset. I know you have a skeptical mindset, I’ve seen you talk. You know what you’re talking about most of the time. So try to understand why people object to what you say. Try to see it from their perspective. I’d be very interested to read a post from you in which you do just that. Remember, leave your ideology at the door and examine the evidence without bias as a skeptic. I look forward to seeing you do this, Mr. Carrier.

  69. Zrazz says

    I have a question Richard, I am as you put it an “Atheist Less,” however I am neither a Cannibal nor an underground dweller, yet you said all Atheists who are not part of Atheist + are. My question is am I doing something wrong? I mean I’m all for equality and anti-bigotry but I’m also a person for the usage of real facts and not heavily moderating your ideas to stop dissent. Now I will admit I do agree with some of the ideals of your cult of personality but I disagree with basically everything else you will rather lead a witch hunt rather then solve a problem that is actually there.

    (I do hope you at least send me an email with a response sense you might find this too offensive to remain a public announcement of my dissent)

    • says

      You reject the values of humanism and skepticism?

      If no, then you are in atheism plus. You just don’t want to say so.

      If yes, please explain which humanist values you reject: compassion, reasonableness, or integrity?

      Only hearing which of those three values you reject and your explanation why can I answer your question.

      Otherwise, your notion that I classify you as outside Atheism+ is false. Only if you reject (or even attack) those three values are you a CHUD (remember, I said a CHUD is someone who does things like this or this…do you do things like that?).

  70. J says

    “So, you can’t identify anything in the video to object to. Got it.”

    I wasn’t identifying anything in the video to object to. That was not the purpose of my comment. I was proposing an experiment for you to engage in as a skeptic. You are sidestepping what I said.

    • says

      Your experiment serves no purpose here. The only related issue being discussed in this thread is whether there is any valid reason to downvote the video or oppose the ideals advocated in it.

      Instead of addressing that issue, you come up with this.

      That’s called “derailing.”

  71. Zrazz says

    As you asked me what your cult brand sells that i disagree with, Well its the them vs us philosophy you send out, the separation of people who could be allies of your crazy little bunch. I know for a fact that I am not an Atheist+ because its nothing but a cult, I am an Atheist as in someone who denies the existence of deities of any sort. I am also a humanist, and a man of science so therefore a skeptic by nature. However those two ideals are not tied to my atheism. So answer me am I a CHUD in or mind or not? I really need an answer because if i am I can buy a cave at half price

    • says

      So you’re just illogical. Got it. You have an us vs. them philosophy (humanists and skeptics and atheists against anti-humanists, anti-skeptics, and theists). And you support all the values of Atheism+ and thus are taxonomically in it. But you don’t like the fantasy you made up about it being a cult so you renounce the name. Right. That makes sense.

      So answer me am I a CHUD in or mind or not? I really need an answer because if i am I can buy a cave at half price

      Nice try dodging my question. If you want to answer your question, the answer is your answer to my question:

      “Remember, I said a CHUD is someone who does things like this or this…do you do things like that?

    • Zrazz says

      How am I illogical? I answered you quite logically, you and your brand of closed minded anti criticism that you and your “skepchick” buddies use is less like atheism and more like a cult. I am not the one who has the Us vs Them imagery in my head that’s on you, your the one who said your either with us or not. I am not Atheist + because its bollocks, its like claiming micro and macro evolution, they are over complications that are not real. its just evolution.

    • says

      “I oppose us vs. them philosophies. I have an us vs. them philosophy.” That’s illogical. You deny it, but I just proved it (you are against anti-humanists, anti-skeptics, and theists, by your own admission). To deny what is plainly proved is also illogical. And you have yet to give any valid reason to be against Atheism+ (so far all you’ve come up with is unsupported false claims like “it’s a cult of personality,” although I wonder how much a fan you are of Hitch and Dawkins, since I suspect you love cults of personality when they are personalities you like). Yet you continue to condemn Atheism+. That’s illogical, too. You also ignore the question I asked, and to avoid it, asked a completely unrelated question in an attempt to dodge the question I asked. And here again you dodge that question again, perhaps hoping I’d forget you never answered it, for all your hand waving. So here it is again:

      “Remember, I said a CHUD is someone who does things like this or this…do you do things like that?

  72. Olivia says

    When you begin tacking “values” onto Atheism, when you begin demonizing people for not agreeing or protesting your absolutist values and start silencing the opposition by trying to stomp out the very ideology of disagreeing by threat of rejection from the group and constant unreasonable policing you have not started on open forum of discussion or compassion or reason as you so advocate. (We believe in being compassionate., We believe in being reasonable.) you have been given the keys of a cult, a religion.

    Where certain rules and standards must be upheld to be considered Atheisticly “moral”, when there is only one true criteria; the disbelieve in all God or Gods, an Atheist does not have to stand up for female rights, or fairness, or reason or even HUMAN rights. Would I prefer it if they did, yes, would I associate with them if they didn’t, no, but that gives NO ONE the right to call someone else a “disgusting” person because they don’t join your movement.

    And it sickens me that you would think of them as less and prop yourself and your constituents up as more than others; “are you with us, or with them; are you with the Atheism+ movement, or do you at least cheer and approve it’s values and aims (since you don’t have to label yourself), or are you going to stick with Atheism Less and its sexism and cruelty and irrationality?”

    I do approve of your values and aims (to a certain extent); but I despise the way you guilt and bully those into agreeing with them by shaming them as if they are sick despicable creature who’s only savior is joining you so that they can be “clean” Atheists; like a cult.

    It’s a classic trick of “group pressure”; agreeing, joining and nodding your head because of the fear someone will throw the word bigot, misogynist and harasser by a bunch of professional victims who use emotional pegs to get their way and pad the internet so their feelings aren’t damaged and don’t even take serious precautions to protect themselves or apparently take their own threats seriously (by oh, I don’t know, calling the authorities, filling lawsuits and not making false allegations so that they can use the victim card to slip scrutiny) .

    • says

      When you begin tacking “values” onto Atheism…

      So you are opposed to humanism?

      And skepticism does not operate on any values?

      …when you begin demonizing people for not agreeing or protesting your absolutist values…

      If you mean by “demonizing” merely condemning someone, and if you mean by my “absolutist values” the only actual values I have defended in this context (compassion, reasonableness, and integrity), then you are saying it is wrong to condemn people who reject compassion, reasonableness, and integrity.

      I cannot imagine how you could live in any society that rejected and opposed compassion, reasonableness, and integrity. Or why you would want such a society to exist.

      But in any event, this is basically saying you oppose and protest humanism.

      If that’s the case, own it.

      If that’s not the case, you aren’t saying anything factually true about Atheism+ here.

      …silencing the opposition by trying to stomp out the very ideology of disagreeing by threat of rejection from the group…

      I don’t see how excluding someone from a category “silences” them. I don’t think you have a good grasp on what that word means.

      And again, if you are saying humanists should embrace and accept people who attack and oppose humanist values, you aren’t making any logical sense.

      …constant unreasonable policing you have not started on open forum of discussion or compassion or reason as you so advocate…

      So, comment moderation policy = religion?

      That makes sense.

      Oh, no, wait. No it doesn’t.

      …you have been given the keys of a cult, a religion.

      I don’t think you know what those words mean.

      But assuming you do, then you agree humanism is a cult?

      And that you should abandon and even attack the values of compassion, reasonableness, and integrity, lest you become a cultist?

      Is that what you are saying?

      Because it sure sounds like that’s what you are saying.

      …an Atheist does not have to stand up for female rights, or fairness, or reason or even HUMAN rights…

      So Nazis and the KKK are okay and we should accept them as sponsors of our conferences and speakers at our events, as long as they embrace atheism?

      …but that gives NO ONE the right to call someone else a “disgusting” person because they don’t join your movement.

      Um, yes, I do have that right. It’s called freedom of speech. It’s in the Constitution.

      But I don’t call people who don’t join Atheism+ “disgusting” (or even say anything bad about them at all). In all my articles about Atheism+ I explain clearly that I accept and work with many people who don’t adopt the label and I don’t care if anyone does.

      The only people I call “disgusting” (or whatever) are people who attack and denigrate the values of compassion, reasonableness, and integrity (or who attack and denigrate human rights, the rights of women, freedom of speech, fairness, justice).

      Because they deserve it. Not because they didn’t join anything (there is no organization to join; the minimal definition of a cult). But because they are awful people. That’s what an awful person is by definition: someone who tramples and condemns human rights, justice, compassion, reason, honesty.

      If that’s you, then own it. And accept the disapprobation our freedom of speech allows us to throw at you.

      If that’s not you, then why are you defending such people?

      I despise the way you guilt and bully those into agreeing with them by shaming them…

      You mean like you just attempted to do?

      I think you are in serious need of a mirror.

      …as if they are sick despicable creature who’s only savior is joining you so that they can be “clean” Atheists; like a cult.

      Funny how we never use any of those words or concepts.

      You are just making this up.

      We condemn people who trample and condemn human rights, justice, compassion, reason, honesty. That’s it. Nothing to do with joining anything, or cults, or any of that rubbish. We just condemn bad people for being bad.

      So either you agree we should condemn such people, or you think we should not.

      If the former, your objections to us make no sense (since you are then doing what we do, which is all we ask anyone to do).

      If the latter, you deserve all the disapprobation you get–from anyone whatever, not just us.

      So which is it?

      Do you believe in trampling and condemning human rights, justice, compassion, reason, honesty?

      Or do you believe in opposing those who trample and condemn human rights, justice, compassion, reason, honesty?

  73. Olivia B. says

    I’m not opposed to humanism but that still doesn’t make it a criteria for Atheism; I have said before the only “value” (if you can even call it that) for Atheism is a disbelief in all gods or deities. I would like it for all Atheists to be compassionate humanists who stand up for all people’s rights but I that’s not the way it is and the world was not meant to bend to my whimsy.

    Atheism is only that, Atheism, it does not come with the bells and whistles of anything else, whether it be moral or not.

    “So Nazis and the KKK are okay and we should accept them as sponsors of our conferences and speakers at our events, as long as they embrace atheism?”

    I’m not asking for you, or anyone to accept anything I’m asking you to acknowledge the fact that Hitler or the KKK could’ve be Atheists and therefore would be associated with you or me.

    “But assuming you do, then you agree humanism is a cult?

    And that you should abandon and even attack the values of compassion, reasonableness, and integrity, lest you become a cultist?”

    No, I am saying that those things are not apart of Atheism and they are not, nor will they ever be, and you propitiate them as if they are and that to join your group you (your participants) must agree and display these characteristics and that if you don’t you will be condemned by you and (most likely) your constituents.

    You don’t have to be compassionate or intelligent or benevolent to an Atheist, you could be horrible, despicable person who kills people or plots world domination and be an Atheist, of course I would condemn that person for being that way (me not protesting would be just as bad as endorsing it) but I wouldn’t say “this person isn’t an Atheist” or anything of the sort that, they in fact are.

    • says

      I’m not opposed to humanism but that still doesn’t make it a criteria for Atheism

      I never said it was. Please watch the video you are commenting on before commenting on it.

      I am not defining atheism. I am saying atheists need to also be humanists, or else atheists will be a detriment to themselves and society, not a social good. That is why I call it atheism plus, and not just atheism. I am advocating atheism plus humanism and skepticism.

  74. KingGeedorah says

    Holy shit, you scare me, man. Since when did we need atheist communities anyway? Isn’t the whole point of being an atheist to reject those one-sided, brainwashing communities? To me, this just looks like the first step towards turning atheism into its own religion! Are you going to be opening up for donations soon as well, man? When can we buy the t-shirts?! You’re just making it look like a support group for people that should not be on the internet in the first place, a place where people can reaffirm their own bullshit ideologies and feel morally and intellectually superior. Believe me, that’s the last thing the internet needs more of. Don’t put labels on everything, ranting on the internet is ranting on the internet, no fancy names please! Neither atheism, humanism, skepticism or social justice etc. has any place here, advocating any of it only means you’re fooling yourself and frankly it makes people look stupid, no offense intended. Don’t label or identify yourself with these type of groups, its so utterly pointless and will only serve to create more enemies for you as well as giving people one more great reason to hate atheism as a whole. Your “haters”, as you so elegantly put it, only exist as long as you yourself are one. Think about it.

    I am by no means a punk kinda guy, but I strongly advice you to give this a listen and share it with your community, it was made just for you people.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-KTsXHXMkJA

    Also,
    protip: if you use the word hater in all seriousness, you are too stupid to be on the internet and the only viable option left is to kill yourself (offense intended)

    • says

      Since when did we need atheist communities anyway?

      Evidently you do. Since you are right here, right now, participating in one.

      Isn’t the whole point of being an atheist to reject those one-sided, brainwashing communities?

      Humans are social animals. They want to hang out with friends of like mind, share ideas and resources, and help each other out. That’s not brainwashing. It’s sanity.

      To me, this just looks like the first step towards turning atheism into its own religion!

      First steps? Wouldn’t that have been when American Atheists was founded? Or FFRF? Or the American Humanist Association? Or the Center for Inquiry? Or every atheist blognetwork ever? Why are those communities not religions? And if you don’t want to have anything to do with them because they are, why are you here, using their resources, participating in one of their forums?

      …a place where people can reaffirm their own bullshit ideologies and feel morally and intellectually superior.

      You mean like you just did?

      If all ideologies are bullshit, then you, too, are a bullshitter. And you are doing the very thing you just claimed to despise.

      (Google “hypocrisy.”)

      Don’t put labels on everything,

      So you are against words and language? Why then are you using them? “How” “dare” “you” “put” “labels” “on” “everything”!

      Neither atheism, humanism, skepticism or social justice etc. has any place here, advocating any of it only means you’re fooling yourself and frankly it makes people look stupid, no offense intended.

      Advocating for anything worthwhile makes people look stupid? You must think you look stupid, too. You are advocating something. Yet you just said that has no place here, while actively doing it. Here.

      (And you think we’re looking stupid?)

      If you use the word hater in all seriousness, you are too stupid to be on the internet and the only viable option left is to kill yourself (offense intended)

      Oh, you are totally right. I’m convinced. Please send me $1500 via my email address (rcarrier@infidels.org) at Paypal so I can purchase a quality handgun for the purpose. If you do, I promise to seriously consider buying a gun with it and shooting myself for using the word “hater.”

  75. Roj says

    The video is great – and I couldn’t find a single flaw.

    In fact it has inspired me to start a group called Atheism ++.
    It is Atheism +, plus we are vegan.

    We have lots of haters – I can show you the threats and harassment from meat eaters. somehow, they feel they can decide for themselves what they eat as if it has nothing to do with atheism.

    I ask you – what could be so wrong about having compassion toward animals? You’re right – nothing.
    The harassment proves that those against us are evil animal haters.
    And, as as the majority of negative feedback we get seems to be from atheists, it proves the majority of atheists must be immoral.

    You are either with us or against us.

    Oh – before judging, I challenge anyone to find one flaw in this post, and provide citations as to why it is flawed.

    You must up-vote this, to denounce the harassers and nay-sayers.
    If you don’t – that makes you with them: the vile, and against us, the righteous.

    God bless.

    • says

      God bless?

      You aren’t very good at spoofing, are you?

      (It’s also a basic rule that a spoof only works when it actually reflects the thing being spoofed, rather than the very thing it is not)

    • says

      Funny. It looks to me like we are accomplishing every goal we set out to: harassment is openly discussed and policies exist everywhere against it and people are everywhere denouncing it; the interests of women, minorities, the poor, and the disabled are now widely talked about and even being accommodated online and at events; we have created harassment-free safe spaces for those groups to communicate; the atheist community is now widely discussing all the issues we wanted and taking them seriously (women, feminism, minorities, poverty, and so on); and the concept of “atheism plus humanism plus skepticism” is now standard and endorsed by every national atheist organization, and anyone who rejects the “pluses” (humanism and skepticism) is painted the fool pretty much everywhere.

      Dude, we won. And you don’t even seem to realize it. You were a slow-boiled frog, I guess.

      Or are you obsessed about the label and ignoring what it labeled? That would be weird, because we have been saying from day one that we don’t care who adopts the label. We only care who adopts the ideals it labels. And right now, that’s the vast majority of the active movement in real space, and a major majority in virtual space. Welcome to Atheism Plus.

    • Schlumbumbi says

      Ah c’mon, we know you got a lose relationship with the truth, but this “miracles in the koran” defense game is ridiculous…

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