Appearing in Irvine Next Week »« Atheism…Plus What?

Is Thunderf00t a Sociopath?

In response to my video promoting positive goals and values for the atheist community (Atheism…Plus What?), Thunderf00t (whose real name is Phil Mason) has expanded his anti-feminist rants to the point that I am seriously worried he might have no empathy for other human beings at all. He is now even ranting against concern for minorities. His departure from logic and reason, in defense of abuse and amorality, is just weird, and makes it ironic that he claims my call for more community and compassion, honesty, and reasonableness is toxic to the atheism movement. Clearly, his chucking overboard empathy, women, minorities, and anything actually good for our community is what’s toxic. If his vision were realized, the atheist community would be a scary and awful place to be.

Before I break down what is most disturbing about his video, some backstory is needed.

Thunderf00t Against Privacy Rights

Thunderf00t was once the friend of PZ Myers and was happily asked to join our blog network. At which he began writing rants against sexual harassment policies (to which I responded in On Sexual Harassment, for example), and became so belligerent and disruptive in our backchannel that it was interfering with other bloggers’ ability to function, for which he was expelled, both from the network and the private email list of network members. The reasons for his expulsion are laid out by PZ in this video (jump to timestamp 5:57 if you want to skip the survey of the core principles we were acting on).

Thunderf00t then exploited an easy security loophole to hack back into our private email list and secretly spy on us (which I wrote about in And Then All Hell Breaks Loose…). He then went on a concerted campaign attacking feminism and feminists, even calling on atheist organizations to ban all feminist atheists from speaking. (See Michael Nugent’s excellent summary and analysis in Thunderf00t’s Inflammatory Video of Misleading Personal Attacks on Atheist Feminists Is Not Helpful; but for a full and pithy analysis of Thunderf00t’s entire campaign against FreethoughtBlogs and all feminists and feminism, see the RationalWiki account in Thunderf00t vs. Feminism.)

He has not denied this. He has even defended it. A friend of his tells me that he effectively doesn’t believe in a right to privacy, that he doesn’t care if anyone violates his privacy, therefore he doesn’t care if he violates anyone else’s, that doing so does no harm and is therefore not wrong. Evidently, he despises the entire Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which declares “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.” He engaged in a warrantless search and seizure of our private papers. And doesn’t even think it’s wrong.

What disturbs me most about this, and the reason it is relevant to the present issue, is his narcissistic standard of justice. He evidently cannot empathize at all with other human beings who have different needs, feelings, concerns, and desires than his. If “he” doesn’t care about his own privacy, then he can’t imagine caring about anyone else’s. It’s all about him. No acknowledgment at all of how such behavior can hurt other people or disturb them deeply, no emotion or feeling or caring at all about that.

Just imagine your every communication was monitored by someone without your knowledge, who could use or disseminate what they observe whenever they desire to, and who didn’t care at all how you felt about it. Would you really want to live in that world? Or would that feel a lot more like 1984? Checks on power obviously must apply to people as much as governments, since power is power, and anyone can abuse it. Thunderf00t disagrees. He gets to spy on anyone he wants to.

This means he cannot be trusted by any institution or colleague. He will violate your privacy whenever he wants to. And won’t tell you he did, either. He will hide the fact until he is caught. And then he won’t even admit it was wrong. That’s the message his behavior conveys. And that’s scary.

Thunderf00t Against Women

So now to his video, the third in his series of attacks on feminists and feminism: Why ‘Feminism’ Is Poisoning Atheism (Part 3). Already strange since my video wasn’t about feminism. The fact that he thinks advocating more caring and community within the atheist movement is “feminism” is already telling. But his use of the creationist-style tactic of quote mining is evident from the very beginning, where when he shows a clip from my video on what Atheism+ is (timestamp 0:23), he carefully extracts what appeared immediately before and after. Just before that I said I was quoting what Jen McCreight had written, and not defining Atheism+ (I had done that earlier, defining it as “atheism plus humanism plus skepticism,” and even went into detail as to what that meant, two facts you will never learn from Thunderf00t’s video). And immediately after that clip (literally, barely a second after where he stops it) I explain that her list was not meant to be exhaustive or definitive, but just the most obvious “no brainers” as to what being an “atheism plus a humanist plus a skeptic” means in actual practice.

Like a creationist, Thunderf00t doesn’t want you to know the context of what he is quoting, or to know what his “opponent” actually said. He quote mines instead. And thinks this is respectable. Which makes him a hypocrite when he condemns this practice in others. It’s clear that he is scamming his viewers when he starts with that clip and then ignores the entire talk up to that point, where I had explained in detail why once we are part of an atheist community, these and other concerns arise, and why we need a more morally responsible atheism and a more socially informed atheism (in other words, my actual arguments). Instead of addressing that, he goes on about how critical thinking leads to atheism and so I supposedly have it backwards, even though I didn’t say anything about that order of events. And thus, not only does he not address my actual argument, he pretends I didn’t even make the argument I did.

(Of course, many an atheist did not become an atheist through critical thinking, and many atheists sorely lack in critical thinking skills. Although I didn’t talk about that–Matt Dillahunty did–it’s strange that Thunderf00t seems to assume these things aren’t true. Perhaps Thunderf00t is some kind of “atheist supremacist” and doesn’t want to admit such things as that many atheists didn’t become atheists for logically valid reasons and many atheists are terrible reasoners and prone to all the same cognitive and logical and emotional errors as theists, and thus are indeed in great need of more intra-community education in how to think well and be productively self-critical. But never mind that. Back to his rant.)

Here it’s all the worse since later in my video I discuss how the fact that (as Thunderf00t himself says) critical thinking leads to atheism entails a concern in the atheist community for improved education. Thus I even made the very same point he is here, as if he was arguing against me. I also said that critical thinking in the atheist community entails a need to be critical about our own assumptions and assertions as well–the very point he implies I didn’t make. Thunderf00t never mentions any of this, or addresses it. That’s simply dishonest. He watched the video. He knows what the actual arguments are in it and the actual evidence presented for them, and what issues I actually covered, and why I said I was covering them. So for him to ignore all of that and pretend none of it was in there is the exact opposite of being a good critical thinker.

Why would Thunderf00t think this is an appropriate way for an atheist to argue? An atheist who claims to champion critical thinking, yet uses the very tactics of creationists to avoid even telling his readers what his opponent says and to instead misrepresent his opponent’s argument even to the point of engaging in outright deception? He would fly off the handle on William Lane Craig if he did that. Yet it’s okay for Thunderf00t to do that to me. This suggests again his narcissistic “I get to do anything I want” ethic, where he doesn’t even care if he uses the same slimy tactics as creationists and Christian apologists. That is disturbing. It suggests he doesn’t respect me and doesn’t even value the idea of treating other people honestly. The very concept of reasonable and honest discourse is not even on Thunderf00t’s radar.

He then uses this trick again, editing together 14 seconds of my mentioning harassment several times (although he cuts out the other things I mentioned along with it, like sexism more generally), claiming it occupied four minutes of my talk, yet he doesn’t discuss or present any of the evidence or arguments or reasons I gave in those four minutes for why I needed to mention harassment and sexism. And then he suggests this is too much talking about (sexism and) harassment…in a forty-five minute talk. Less than 9% of my talk was about sexism and harassment in the atheist community (by his own count), an issue that the audience recognized as sufficiently grave to warrant that time (Thunderf00t, you see, wasn’t there, although the audience reactions are on the video, so he can’t claim not to know this).

That is also dishonest, ignoring all my evidence and arguments, and then making hay over a mere 9% of my video discussing an issue that annoys him (an issue, BTW, that involves having empathy for other human beings). But worse is the fact that he doesn’t denounce this sexist and harassment behavior at all. He instead blames the victims. He even calls the women who are victimized by this harassment “professional victims” (as if they made any money out of it, much less deliberately sought it out) and claims they deserve what they get. Here he exhibits his complete lack of empathy for women (or let’s be honest, his lack of empathy for other people–since women, you know, happen to be people), showing no awareness or acknowledgment of their unhappiness and discomfort, no concern for it whatever. Like a sociopath.

And here once again he demonstrates his dishonesty. For I spent the largest part of those four minutes discussing the fifteen year old atheist girl who got demeaned and harassed in her own reddit thread (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, watch my video, or just go here). In what sense could she possibly be a “professional victim”? Thunderf00t’s cold, heartless dismissal of her and the whole example of behavior that her case represents is truly frightening to me. His complete lack of empathy at this point is shocking, as is his dishonesty in conveniently “forgetting” about her, even though I spent over a minute discussing her, and discussed her more than anyone else (yet he seems so obsessed with how much time I spend discussing things). I’m being charitable of course in assuming he really didn’t mean to accuse her of being a professional victim. I shudder to think what it means if he did.

But again the worst part of this is that at no point does he denounce this behavior, either the way that girl was treated, or the way any of the women I listed were treated. He instead says they all deserved it. Thunderf00t at this point doesn’t even name any of the women I discussed, and never presents any evidence whatever that any of them asked for or deserved any of the treatment I spoke about–much less does he present any evidence that it is even possible in principle to “deserve” such treatment. The very notion that he thinks that’s possible, and not just possible, but is in fact the case, for any of the women I listed, much less all of them, actually makes my skin crawl. This total lack of empathy for other human beings is again frightening. As is his implicit endorsement of sexism and harassment. He is actually defending that behavior!

Weirdest of all is that instead of actually discussing any of the evidence of these supposed “professional victims” he is attacking (and remember, he is attacking several prominent and widely beloved women leaders, speakers and writers in the atheist community…plus an innocent teenager), he uses an example completely unrelated to this or me or my video: clips from some random Muslim guy who made some ridiculous statement of jihad, and then complained when he was called out for it (timestamp 1:35). And then Thunderf00t just asserts the moral and practical equivalency. Without a shred of evidence, or even an argument. (There can’t be one, of course, since the cases are not even remotely comparable, in fact not a single relevant detail is analogous.) Once again, this dishonest trick would disgust him coming from a creationist. Yet he’s okay with it. Disturbing.

Thunderf00t then uses standard anti-feminist tropes such as that I am white knighting (rather than actually caring about people and speaking out against immoral and appalling behavior), which means he is actually at this point mocking having a moral conscience. Once again, this looks disturbingly sociopathic to me.

Thunderf00t Against Having a Moral Conscience

Don’t worry, he’ll attack women again before his video is done. But at this point he changes gears to claim we’re all cultists and I’m advocating cult-like behavior. The biggest irony at this point is that I specifically refuted that bogus slur in my video, and he carefully never even mentions my refutation, much less answers it. More dishonest quote mining and misrepresentation. More dishonest manipulation of his audience.

In fact, irony of ironies, he accuses me of being dishonest in my summary of people’s reaction to my first article about Atheism Plus. Notably, in his narration he skips the first part of what I said was in my post (my strident denunciation of sexists and harassers) and acts incredulous that people would call me Hitler, Stalin, and a cultist over asking people to stand up for basic values of compassion, honesty, and reasonableness. Even though that is, ultimately, what they did, I do suspect many of the “Hitler/Stalin/cultist” remarks were from sexists and harassers and their defenders, disgusted by my “feminist” denouncing of sexism and harassment (for example, here and here and here).

Ironically (or, perhaps not ironically) that is exactly what Thunderf00t just did in this video! He attacks me (with dishonesty and quote mining and a pathological avoidance of discussing any evidence) because I am defending “professional victims” (i.e. women) against harassment. And he even does it exactly here, once again, where now (timestamp 3:30) he shows a screen shot of a comment I made (in my first article) about something (he carefully avoids saying what) being a case of “us” against “them” and that we have to take a stand against certain vile people–which was actually all in regard to men harassing and demeaning women. He does not tell his viewers that I am there talking about making sure we show we are against those who harass and demean women like that, that that is the “us vs. them” I was there talking about. He instead makes it seem that I was issuing some broader statement about Atheism Plus as a whole. Which is simply a lie.

Worse, he shows a clip from my video and cuts away the part immediately after it where I explain all this! He is thus deliberately hiding what I actually said from his viewers, and making it seem like I said something else. Creationist tactics 101, yet again. He then throws up a different screen capture, of a completely different comment later in the same article (hoping you will conflate what I said in the two, apparently), of a remark I later revised to prevent people from quote mining it exactly as Thunderf00t just did, in which I said the battle lines are between those who accept the values of compassion, honesty, and reasonableness and those who renounce them. He then says that is what people called me Hitler/Stalin/etc. for–thus proving the very point he claims to be disproving: that in fact it was my asking people to draw lines between the compassionate, honest, and reasonable and the heartless, dishonest, and unreasonable that drove them to call me Hitler/Stalin/etc.

In other words, people have accused me of being Stalin and Hitler for suggesting they adopt and stand for moral values (and remember, the only ones I ever asked them adopt were compassion, honesty, and reasonableness), and Thunderf00t is actually proving it. Of course, I can also give examples, e.g. here. Even just a few days ago, after my video came out, and after all I’ve said and revised online (including a whole additional article on just this distinction, linked at the bottom of the original article with the remark “and on what exactly I mean by that, see Being with or against Atheism+” …which, again, Thunderf00t never tells anyone about), I was told, once again, “please don’t mix your fanatic and religiously Nazistic points of views to atheism” (here). What could he possibly mean? Hmmm.

Then Thunderf00t does the very same thing himself! Because I said we should take a stand for compassion, honesty, and reasonableness and against the cruel, dishonest, and unreasonable, he says I am just like a cultist–specifically, a Scientologist! I think Thunderf00t should get props for at least being original; I don’t think anyone thought to accuse me of being just like a Scientologist for asking people to take a stand on basic humanist values (and denounce cruelty and dishonesty and unrepentant refusals to reason), but that’s just another “you are a cultist” accusation. All for just saying we should be moral people and denounce immoral people. This is what Thunderf00t is mocking. Yet he acts incredulous that anyone would mock me for it. Apparently the plank in his eye is right bloody big. He then even says that because Hitler actually wrote about making a better future for Germany, my talking about a better future for atheism is just like Hitler, and fundamentally fascist (I shit you not: timestamp 6:38).

To paraphrase my own slide in that video on just this very same claim (that very part of my video Thunderf00t carefully excludes from showing or discussing):

Things that don’t make you a Nazi or a cultist:

(1) Calling men who engage in overt sexual harassment douchebags and assholes.
(2) Arguing for greater humanitarian concern from atheists.
(3) Asking people to be compassionate, honest, and reasonable.
(4) Disavowing people who declare their refusal to be compassionate, honest, or reasonable.

Thunderf00t even (embarassingly!) equates my moderation of my own blog with Scientologist efforts to sue people into silence (and with Nazi bookburning: timestamp 7:00; thankyou, Godwin). The king of false equivalencies. He thus accuses me of suppressing free speech. By simply moderating my own blog. That’s the height of irrationality.

Your right to free speech does not give you ownership over my blog or what I allow to be posted there. And I’m certainly not going to let you use my property and resources to post sexist and harassing remarks. That’s my right. Which in no way blocks your right to go say vile things somewhere else. Although you have no right to expect not to be denounced for it. That’s just more free speech, right back at you. At any rate, for Thunderf00t to equate my comments policy with the Church of Scientology and Nazi bookburning is among the most dishonest and bankrupt thinking I’ve seen from any atheist I know.

Worst of all, once again, all this dishonesty and illogical thinking from him is all in defense of harassment and abuse. He is thus defending harassment. In this case, explicitly. Once again, showing a total lack of empathy or concern for others. He also, incidentally, is here reviling private property rights. According to him, we should be forced to publish other people’s thoughts, and should be scolded for not letting others use our publishing platforms at their whim–even when what others want to say is vile and disruptive and immoral and devoid of any reasoned argument or even completely dishonest. This goes back to his disregard of human rights generally, as in the case I opened with of his disregarding our privacy rights.

Indeed, by juxtaposing a clip from Rebecca Watson talking about how to cope with online harassment, he even says at this point that choosing not to listen to someone (e.g. blocking them on twitter) is “very cultlike” behavior (timestamp 6:08 to 6:38). This is just bizarre. Your right to free speech does not give you the right to force me to listen to you. And if you think choosing to avoid a harasser is “cultlike,” you are completely off your rocker. Yet off his rocker Thunderf00t clearly is. I think this reflects again that narcissism I mentioned before: he doesn’t give a shit about you; he wants the right to force you to listen to anything he wants to say, and he is so aghast and appalled that people might not want to listen to him and might exercise their freedom not to, that he accuses them of being cultists. That other people might have their own preferences and feelings and might want to exercise their own liberties to live their own lives, never occurs to him. It’s nowhere on his radar. The total lack of empathy here is, again, scary.

BTW,  just to complete the trifecta I listed in my talk, not only does he himself call me a cultist and compare me with Hitler, he concludes by equating me to Stalin (timestamp 9:35). Thus exemplifying the very thing I spoke about in my talk. And he doesn’t even get the irony. In fact here he essentially says a statement like “we should stand up for compassion and honesty and reasonableness and denounce those who openly repudiate those values” is an “outrageously dumb claim.” Take a moment to think about that. Then think about what this means here: he has no conception of the difference between my advocacy of nothing more than exercises of free speech and personal liberty, and what actually made Stalin and Hitler bad…which was not their words, and certainly not their blog moderation policies.

Once again, at this point he circles back to denounce all feminism as Stalinism. Again, I am not kidding. Compare timestamp 8:20 with timestamp 9:37. His obsession with feminism and women is thus still in evidence. And his thinking feminists are just like Stalinists would be laughable if he wasn’t serious. Indeed, he uses this comparison to literally and explicitly say that women deserve to be harassed if they say anything Thunderf00t considers “dumb.” Seriously: timestamp 10:06-10:22.

In contrast with Thunderf00t’s amoral defense of spreading misery rather than caring about others, I’m reminded once again to ask that you read, if you haven’t already, Greta Christina’s excellent article on Atheism Plus and Divisiveness. Contrast what she says there, with Thunderf00t’s entire stance. And ask yourself, which atheism do you want to live in? Which one do you want there to be in future for our sons and daughters? Why do I even have to ask this question?

Thunderf00t against Being Reasonable

At this point he sarcastically praises me for my “commitment to unquestionable dogma.” Which is another example of his dishonesty. Here is what he doesn’t tell his viewers:

In actual fact the only people I called sewer scum were harassers and the cruel, those who “publicly mock humanist values, and abusively disregard the happiness of their own people,” with examples given in my original post, and even more examples were added when I was asked for them. I never said that of anyone else. After denouncing cruelty and harassment behavior in no uncertain terms, I then discussed expanding atheist interests without mentioning the condemnation of anyone, then I discussed what core values underlie all this: compassion, honesty, reasonableness.

And this is what I originally wrote about the latter:

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.

Then in response to reasonable criticism, exactly as I originally said I would do (note again, the above paragraph), I added the following paragraph, to ensure my position was clear (and I announced this revision, along with others, prominently in comments; likewise other minor revisions, also in response to reasonable criticism):

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.

So I respond reasonably to reasonable criticism, revise and clarify my position accordingly, and said I would do this in advance, and announced when I was doing it and publicly documented it when I did, and Thunderf00t mocks this as a commitment to unquestioning dogma. Now, let’s all be honest, what sort of atheism do you want? One where atheists respond to reasonable criticism and revise their statements and positions, or atheists who mock other atheists who do that? It’s pretty clear which sort of atheism is better for the movement.

Certainly, 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!?”

But no, Thunderf00t is defending people who openly commit to being cruel, dishonest, and irrational. And calling me McCarthy for doing the exact opposite. By this measure, he is practically defending the Dark Side of the Force. I call for people to denounce the cruel and uncaring and the dishonest and the unreprentantly irrational, and in response he calls for people to denounce me. Do the math on that.

Thunderf00t Against Women and Empathy

And he is not coy about this, either. His fancy for false equivalencies is once again in evidence when he equates (literally equates) criticism of sexists with sexist harassment of women (timestamp 10:40). He argues that they are the same, and therefore my denunciation of sexual harassment is hypocritical because that’s all that the sexual harassers are doing. This is kidnappers complaining about being kidnap victims in prison all over again. Notably, I made a specific point in my talk about the difference between reasoned criticism and harassment and abuse. But Thunderf00t won’t tell you about that or respond to it. Instead, he pretends no such distinction was ever made, and that in fact no such distinction even exists.

He goes on and on about denying this distinction, all the way through timestamp 15:18 (which far beats my four minutes on the subject!). He is thus explicitly and at length defending harassment and abuse, and denouncing me for opposing harassment and abuse and trying to do something about it. He is making the difference between our values crystal clear. He is for the Dark Side.

Although he also toys with denying that harassment and abuse exists (trying to have it both ways, I guess). He conveniently engages in the creationist tactic of data mining by picking the mildest examples to show, even when he claims to be showing representative examples (timestamp 12:19). This is more dishonest trickery, especially given that he makes a point of there supposedly being no evidence!…like, the evidence I presented in my talk, which he very assiduously avoids mentioning, or the evidence assembled here and here and here, and more of which I discuss here. He denies there is any difference in nature, scale, and quantity of it directed at women–even though I specifically discussed this in my video, even using my own hate mail and comment threads as an example of how mild it is against me and how much worse it is for the women I discussed, which again Thunderf00t pretends I never said, and conveniently conceals from his viewers.

Even so, since consistency isn’t Thunderf00t’s strong suit, his argument is still that there is never any reason to denounce any speech behaviors online, regardless. He is thus a harassment apologist: he is fine with it, and appalled that anyone would complain about it or denounce it or be against it. Harassment, to him, is just a “dissenting opinion.” Once again, his complete lack of empathy for other human beings (his fellow atheists even) is well in evidence here. He literally doesn’t give a shit about them or their happiness. He vindictively argues that they deserve it. He also narcissistically assumes that because hate mail imagining violence against him doesn’t bother him, it shouldn’t bother anyone, and should never be considered wrong or denounced or complained about (for the record: all abusive mail and comments, even directed at Thunderf00t, is wrong and to be denounced).

Weird Interlude (Thunderf00t Against Critical Thinking)

At this point (between timestamps 14:09 and 15:05) Thunderf00t makes an argument that makes no logical sense and really makes me wonder about his professional competence: he argues that some YouTube video of a guy responding to his harassers gets more hits than FreethoughtBlogs therefore we should all do what that guy did in that video. I struggle to imagine the logical syllogism that gets from the premise to the conclusion here, and he presents none.

By his logic, we should all make videos of kittens or random dudes getting hit in the balls in response to harassers, because those videos get more hits. A scientist of all things [yes, Thunderf00t is actually a scientist] should be able to realize that the problems of confounding variables, correlation fallacies, lack of proper controls, and indeed a complete lack of outcome measures, plague his analogy from top to bottom. He really thinks he is championing critical thinking here? It looks more like he is giving an instruction manual to creationists on how to make completely illogical arguments that violate everything we know about sound methodology.

Anyway, back to the substance of the video (such as there is)…

Thunderf00t Against Minorities

Now Thunderf00t lays into minorities (timestamp 15:16). He sneers (literally: listen to his voice) at my call for atheist organizations to be more responsive to and cooperative with minority atheists and minority atheist groups. He also cuts together different parts of my talk here–and take note, because it might not be obvious he did that. He thus conflates different sections of my talk, making it seem that most of what he shows from my talk at this point was about minorities when in fact it was not. This is very deliberately dishonest, since his subsequent argument (that I’m a “moron” for saying this: timestamp 16:01) is based on assuming that the other material he edited-in to this clip was in reference to recruiting minorities, when in fact it was not. That material was about growing the movement in all demographics. In a separate part of the talk I discuss outreach to minority communities as well.

That Thunderf00t would pull this very deceitful trick on his viewers should disgust them. It would disgust him if any creationist pulled it on him. But we’ve already covered his evidently narcissistic, egotistic sense of morality, whereby he gets to do anything he wants and use any lie or method of deception, as long as he is the one using it and not someone else.

Thunderf00t also childishly (and unintelligibly) places over my video as I speak (timestamp 15:40) some weird meme showing a smiling black woman [edit: turns out, it's Adria Richards, who was fired for trying to combat sexism in the workplace] with the unfathomable text “I’m Joan of Arc for making penis jokes – you’re a sexist for repeating them – Dear God, PLEASE no more social justice warriors!” If you can figure out what that’s supposed to mean [edit: it would seem it's another false equivalency: penis jokes with a friend are supposed to be no different than demeaning jokes about a professional woman speaker at a conference; and her complaining about being attacked for exposing workplace misconduct is supposed to be playing the professional victim]. The last remark there seems to be Thunderf00t’s own commentary added to the meme (although why he chose that meme I don’t know), so as far as I can tell, he seems to be saying he is against caring about social justice issues and is sick of atheists talking about caring about the world and learning more about it and doing something to make it better. Dark Side again. (“Thunderf00t to humanists: fuck you and your caring about things!”)

What he then essentially says at this point (timestamp 16:01) is “fuck the minorities, only white people count because there are more of us.” That argument is destroying the Republican party. And he thinks I’m a “moron” for pointing that out. That’s more like the pot calling the tile black. Even the Republicans are starting to have enough sense to finally realize they need to pay attention to minorities. In fact, the very AACon I was speaking at had numerous Hispanic and black speakers and groups represented, and that’s precisely what we need to see–and obviously, as this very 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 (more evidence that Thunderf00t doesn’t feel empathy for other human beings; thus he can’t understand why we would care about other people like this, whom we’d previously been ignoring), but also because there are a damn lot of them. Not only are minorities fully 26% of the U.S. population right now, one of the very talks at this same 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 aged 24 and under within just ten years, and as they age, whites will be the minority in the whole U.S. population within just thirty years. And right now (the present!) minority communities are especially stricken and oppressed by religion, right under our very noses (which ought to be something even Thunderf00t supposedly cares about–but that requires actually empathizing with minorities who are atheists or doubters willing to consider atheism, if only we reached out to them and helped them). They are also the most in need of improved education and access to philosophical alternatives (currently, most white people have easier access to both).

Contrary to Thunderf00t’s pseudoscientific math, the actual math works out like this: we can seek 100 white converts, or 80 white converts and 20 minority converts. The end result is still 100 new atheists. Thus, his claim that we would be hurting our numbers by targeting minorities is classic innumeracy. Shocking from a scientist. The costs in time, money, and resources is exactly the same. So really, Thunderf00t is just saying we should only care about white people–otherwise, his math doesn’t make sense. That is starting to smell of racism, all couched behind a pseudomathematical argument meant to look impressive, with lots of handwaving about how I’m the moron.

Dave Silverman himself disproved Thunderf00t’s prediction anyway–with his own talk at, again, the same American Atheists convention, about our 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 and efforts target all demographics, and those that target specific demographics draw others along with them, and also 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 to serve their interests as much as our own. And also, once again, this is 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.

Thunderf00t’s assumptions here have been more soundly refuted already in articles not even responding to him specifically: read Atheism Is a Social Justice Issue (although that was written by a black man, so Thunderf00t probably dismisses him as of no concern to white men like himself; or perhaps he’ll attack him with various racist tropes like “you only care about those things because you’re black,” as opposed to the more likely explanation, “because he’s a human”), The Practical Reason Why Atheists Should Care About Diversity (although that was written by a woman, oh no–indeed one of those “professional victims” Thunderf00t despises, so he probably won’t give her ideas the time of day), and Deep Rifts: A Fairy Tale (which most elegantly illustrates the role of empathy in understanding why minorities matter in this movement and why we should be communicating with them and helping them and making them welcome–although this was written by a woman of color, a double sting of annoyance for Thunderf00t). BTW, compare their calm, reasoned, honest, evidence-based mode of argument with Thunderf00t’s dishonest, evidence-despising, insult-swinging mode of argument. Now ask yourself which kind of atheism you want more of.

Thunderf00t Against Any Kind of Methodological Honesty or Common Sense Whatever

Thunderf00t is so dead set against minorities, that he actually tries to argue that as soon as we started talking about minorities and minority issues, interest in our blog network declined, therefore we should not have done that, and no one should do that, because it will lower their blog hits. I’m not kidding. He really says that (timestamp 16:40). Of course, even if the premise were true, the conclusion does not follow. We should only write about what increases hit counts? By that logic, we shouldn’t blog about atheism, either, since religious websites get more hits. Nor should we blog about anything new or controversial or unpopular. And certainly not (gasp!) what we want to talk about. Apparently Thunderf00t thinks we should only kowtow to the lowest common denominator and let focus groups decide what we discuss!

Okay, so his logic is bankrupt. But so is his premise. He shows a graph that is supposed to illustrate this declining interest. It is shameful for a scientist to attempt what he just did here. This is the most egregious manipulation of evidence I’ve seen from an atheist in a very long time. First, the graph he shows is only for PZ Myers. Note that when you run the numbers for other bloggers, you get very different results (here’s me). Ooops. Can’t show your viewers that. That would destroy your case. So just show them the one statistic. The one statistic that isn’t even related to me–you know, the person Thunderf00t is actually talking about.

Okay. Now we’re on a roll. Second, the graph he shows only measures Google search terms, not actual hits at any blog. For example, he conveniently doesn’t show you a graph of hit counts at PZ Myers’ blog. That might show a rising interest in his blog. Can’t show your viewers that. That would destroy your case. So just look for any kind of measure you can that gets the curve you want, no matter how irrelevant it is to your actual point. Search terms are a result of people becoming aware of a person (in this case the name PZ Myers) from other sources (like media) and thus do not at all reflect what PZ Myers may have been blogging about. For example, the biggest spike on the graph is interest generated nationally by his “desecration” of a communion wafer that made national press (in fact all the spikes and surrounding bubbles were due to press coverage). To argue that we shouldn’t blog about values and community building because that doesn’t make national press or generate search interest on Google is preposterous.

So we’re really rolling into “pseudoscience land” at this point. Okay. Third, the graph is not measured in actual search counts. It is entirely a relative count scored on a normalized scale from 1 to 100. As the Google Trends site explains (emphasis added):

The numbers on the graph reflect how many searches have been done for a particular term, relative to the total number of searches done on Google over time. They don’t represent absolute search volume numbers.

Wait. What was that again? They only measure how often a search term was used relative to all other searches on Google. Which means we have a huge confounding variable: rising interest in other subjects (for example, nearly the same graph derives for the term “solar installers” yet installation of solar panels has substantially increased, not declined, in that same period). Moreover, the only term Thunderf00t is looking at is “PZ Myers.” In other words, one man’s name. Look what happens when we run the same graph and compare that name with the term “social justice” (here). This shows PZ is vastly (I mean vastly) less popular as a search term than social justice. So by Thunderf00t’s logic, PZ should talk about social justice even more, specifically to draw traffic! O course, Thunderf00t’s logic is bullshit. But I’m not the one using it.

Remember, search terms represent outside interest (and in this case correspond to media coverage, not value or importance of content). They do not represent interest within a specific community (like PZ fans or atheists generally). And one man’s name in no way correlates with a set of ideas like community building or moral values or sexual harassment policies or American Atheists reaching out to black atheists or anything else Thunderf00t is ridiculously claiming his graph is measuring. And this guy is a scientist?

Let’s look at some more relevant graphs: look where the search term trends are going for black atheists, atheist women, atheist morality, and atheist values. Ooops. So much for Thunderf00t’s narrative.

Tying all this together, Thunderf00t ends by showing that multiply-irrelevant PZ graph again and saying I am “poison[ing] the rest of the movement” and “myself” by talking about atheist community building and moral values and minorities and women and sexism and harassment and information diversity and increasing atheist charity and social groups. So his argument is that the relative Google search term trends for one other guy’s name demonstrates that my talking about all that is poisoning the atheist movement. For all the reasons I surveyed above, that is nearly the most irresponsibly incompetent thing anyone claiming to be a scientist could say in this matter. Why Thunderf00t even maintains any following in light of this truly astonishes me.

The Sad Conclusion

Thunderf00t is effectively (in some cases even explicitly) arguing that atheists should be less compassionate, less caring of their fellow human beings, and especially less caring of their fellow atheists, their own co-workers. He even singles out women and minorities as those we should especially care nothing about. The perverse, sociopathic amorality of this man (and, evidently, his acolytes who upvote this amoral disrespect for others and their rights and concerns and happiness) is disturbing to me. It should be disturbing to you. He rejects the very concept of a right to privacy. He even rejects our moral right to condemn and stop listening to harrassing and abusive speech, and even says we all deserve it. At no point in his video does he show a single instance of actual empathy for another human being. Instead, from beginning to end, all we get is a complete lack of concern, compassion, or comraderie with others–women and minority atheists especially.

Compare his call for atheists to be less compassionate, less caring, less concerned (in fact, wholly unconcerned for others), with my call for the reverse. And ask yourself, whose vision of the future of atheism do you want to help realize? Those are the battle lines he has drawn. Scary, but true.

Who is actually more toxic to atheism? The one who advocates greater empathy for our fellow human beings and especially our fellow atheists, or the one who mocks and attacks the very idea of doing so? The one who is honest and reasonable and willing to change his statements and positions in light of criticism, or the one who lies and conceals and manipulates evidence? The one who takes seriously the importance of not making fallacious and illogical arguments and corrects them when discovered, or the one who pervasively relies on fallacious and illogical arguments to condemn any campaign to spread humanist values within atheism? The one who believes you have no privacy rights and he can spy on you whenever he wants? Or the one who finds that very notion repulsive? The one who defends and endorses harassment and abuse and even says the victims asked for it and deserve it, or the one who finds that wholly appalling?

You decide. Watch my video. Compare it to his. And vote up the one you think is actually doing something good for the atheist movement.

Comments

  1. John Morales says

    One of the things I like about your rather academic approach to blogging is your thoroughness* and forthrightness.

    * Including copious references; in a different format, they would amount to a substantial body of citations.

  2. John Morales says

    Re:

    Thunderf00t also childishly (and unintelligibly) places over my video as I speak (timestamp 15:40) some weird meme showing a smiling black woman with the unfathomable text “I’m Joan of Arc for making penis jokes – you’re a sexist for repeating them – Dear God, PLEASE no more social justice warriors!” If you can figure out what that’s supposed to mean.

    The reference is to the recent Adria Richards event, and the implication is that she’s hypocritical and has delusions of grandeur.

    cf. https://twitter.com/adriarichards/status/313442430848487424
    and https://twitter.com/adriarichards/status/312265091791847425

  3. says

    Thunder nowhere denounced all feminism as Stalinism. You failed to summarize and refute his analogy on the matter at 9:37. I’m afraid I cannot support either side in this case, as both sides have made illegitimate points.

    • lutzifer says

      maybe judge them by the legitimate points then or go by your own moral compass on the issue, instead of handling this like a debate that needs to be won by popular vote? :D

      also, with all the baggage that tfoot has in this regard and how much misrepresentation he is able to cram into one video, i fail to see how one can stay neutral.

    • says

      I’m not suggesting this debate should be won by popular vote. The fact Tfoot was wrong on a number of counts (esp. freeze peach and the importance of minorities) does not mean Carrier has not ignored and/or misrepresented substantial parts of Tfoot’s video (e.g., Carrier has refused to even acknowledge Tfoot’s criticism of his divisive rhetoric in this post).

    • chucknorrisisgodchas says

      this debate should be won by popular vote. people following their heart and own “moral compass” is the hallmark of unintellectual theists. morality is not objective. one of the things that Hitchens promoted and thought intrinsic to all his stances on religious dogma. the idea that people should come to conclusions based purely on merit and deduction is one of the most important parts of atheism, it’s how most people become atheist in the first place. richard carrier should be less interested in uniting, codifying and popularizing atheism and as a real atheist he should be working to promote the very idea of atheism which is freedom of thought, speech and freedom from theology, tyranny. he instead seeks to unite a group of people that have no business being united under a banner completely separate from the name. it is not an atheist group. it is a feminist humanist club. if you are a feminist or a humanitarian that’s fine, but dont try to absorb other groups who may want nothing to do with you. represent your voice and your people. the main problem that i believe most people have is that you call the group atheist plus. but at the end of the day. atheism is broad and unorganized. call yourself what you are humanist plus atheism. and let people know that you are people who care about a list of things, without suggesting others do not. let people know that you want social justice and are also atheist but trying to hijack an entire group for the purpose promoting you’re ideology and silencing dissent is just fanning the flame war. which might be what you want if you are looking for attention, but ultimately knocks you of the ledge of the proverbial moral high ground. course this will never be read. but now its out there to fester in the mind of the maybe one person who reads it.

  4. says

    some weird meme showing a smiling black woman with the unfathomable text “I’m Joan of Arc for making penis jokes – you’re a sexist for repeating them – Dear God, PLEASE no more social justice warriors!”

    Off the top of my head, without looking at the image, I’m going to guess that this is a reference to Adria Richards, who at one point sarcastically remarked that she was going to be like Joan of Arc (i.e., burned at the stake) for daring to complain about inappropriate, sexist remarks at conferences. The pro-harassment contingent seized on that comment as evidence that she actually WANTED to be a martyr for feminism. That she is one of those “professional victims” that Thunderf00t despises.

    • uberfeminist says

      Don’t forget Adria also was apparently triggered by a picture of a girl, then she knew she had to stand up for the sake of the futures of all young women. Or something like that.

      Viewing the Joan of Arc comment in that light, do you really think it was sarcasm? Perhaps it was self importance?

      These are things that people are allowed to believe about themselves, but it sure makes you look like a douchebag. Hey, maybe she isn’t the protagonist in a long story of good versus evil? Just maybe.

    • says

      Right. Someone who gets harassed for standing up to injustice compares herself to a woman who was harassed for standing up to injustice, and that’s self-importance. Or rather, it’s more like, you know, an analogy.

      It also happens to be something you might have a hard time grasping. You see, in our universe, there are these things called jokes. And one common feature of jokes, which makes them funny, is the use of hyperbole. One often tells jokes with one’s friends. Like, maybe, on this technology thingy called twitter.

      I’d also like to add that the analogy she drew was in respect to their feelings, not their actions. Though at this point I’m not surprised you missed a word referencing emotion in a message from a woman.

    • says

      Just out of curiosity, Richard, do you think the two men in this incident were wrong for making the joke at all, or just for making it loud enough that Adria could hear? Which was the injustice that Adria was standing up for?

      After all, the joke (which the men involved maintain was not sexual, and how can you prove otherwise?) was intended to be just between the two of them, whereas the penis joke Adria made on Twitter was, arguably, more public.

    • says

      He should have been reprimanded for disrespectful and unprofessional conduct at a professional event, and for violating the event’s conduct policy, and for making others around him uncomfortable. If the joke wasn’t sexual, then it wasn’t a joke. So that nonpology doesn’t make sense. In actuality, the man in question says what he did was wrong and that she was right to report him. Adria herself said she did not expect him to be fired and does not agree with the decision to do that. So your attempt to rewrite history with selective quoting won’t survive the barest scrutiny here.

      Those who want all the details of what actually happened see here and here and here.

      What is appalling is none of that, but how Adria was treated afterwards, which was a thousand times worse than the conduct she reported. There is simply no excuse for that, and it is despicable that people would behave that way.

    • Green Goblin says

      RIchard, she WASN”T harassed for standing up to injustice. She was harassed for being a jerk. Two guys made a DONGLE joke, man. A DONGLE joke. It’s childish, sure. But it was worth a chuckle. Like a light-laugh joke you’d see on any given sitcom. And certainly not anything REMOTELY sexist. Hell, I’m still trying to rap my head around that one. In what way is jokingly comparing a part of the male anatomy to a piece of computer hardware considered a slight towards females? In what way are females even REFERENCED in that situation, man?? THEY’RE NOT. I don’t even get how the joke is offensive? I heard worse jokes on the playground in elementary school.

      “Oh no!!! That man just made a joke about a penis!! Now some adult woman may overhear him and be shocked to find out that penises exist!!! THE HORROR!!!”

      She then decides to unleash the wrath of the internet on these guys(A single section of the internet, at least). And in turn, one of them gets fired. At this point, the REST of the internet finds out about it and determines that she basically made a mountain out of a molehill and in doing so, got a man with a wife and 3 kids to feed tossed out on his ass in these harsh economic times all over a dongle joke. And so all the virile hatred that she aimed at these 2 guys having a private conversation is now redirected at her. And suddenly we’re suppose to feel BAD for her? No thanks. You’re the one who acted improper in this situation, Ms. Richards.

      You’re not Joan of Arc. You’re Pandora.

    • says

      Harassment is harassment. It is never deserved. It is always cruel. So what you think about her behavior is irrelevant.

      As for the rest of your childish rant, which shows no awareness of what codes of conduct are or what professional behavior is or even what Adria actually did and why, you are not selling your case here. You are just making your position look immature and ridiculous.

      I don’t believe you give a shit about the actual facts, but in the extremely unlikely event that you do, see links and discussion here.

    • XZ says

      Richard, actually, Adria Richards was NOT the target for the dongle joke made between the two reps at the conference she was at. She OVERHEARD the remarks (because they were all sitting in the audience) that the two reps were making BETWEEN EACH OTHER, and decided that she was offended at a conversation she was NOT A PART OF. To me, that’s eavesdropping and sticking your nose is business that isn’t yours; it’s a public forum, they were trying to keep quiet enough to share a joke between themselves, and she involved herself where she hadn’t been invited.

      I’m not sorry to say this, but in a public area, any public area, you have NO RIGHT to brook my speech when it hasn’t been directed at you in a threatening or abusive manner. Harassment, as defined by law, is “the act of systematic and/or continued unwanted and annoying actions of one party or a group, including threats and demand.” By this definition, since Adria did NOT ask them to stop, and since they ONLY made the joke ONCE, there WAS NO HARASSMENT. It also means that if I make a comment that offends you, but I did not make it TO you, I’m not HARASSING you.

      So, to put it bluntly; the First Amendment protects my right to say what I want so long as I do not threaten or harass (again, refer to the legal definition). The First Amendment DOES NOT grant you protection from things that offend you; if in a public area, your choices are to walk away or ignore it. In the privacy of your own home, you can direct that it be stopped. You have NO RIGHT to try and make me stop it in a public area.

    • says

      Neither Adria nor anyone here has ever called the sexist jokes she called out “harassment.” Harassment is what happened to Adria Richards after reporting misconduct (and it was misconduct under the rules of the conference she was at, as well as by almost any professional standard anywhere).

      That you can’t tell the difference speaks either to your poor intelligence or your delusionality.

    • chucknorrisisgodchas says

      well yes i think he knows it’s an analogy, thats the point, but comparing yourself to joan of arc is a stretch even in jest. joan of arc was burned at the stake for heresy as she fought and bleed for the freedom and love of her people. literally not figuratively. yes it’s a joke but so was the very thing she was complaining about. all very unfortunate that they got fired over such an infantecemile incedent (adria included) but it’s hard to empathise with a woman who got two people fired for a penis joke, though i cant believe that would be the intention of a compassionate person which i assume and hope she is. joan of arc wasn’t harassed she died. and not because she was a woman. because she was an enemy of a foreign nation. the fact that she was a woman was is just a noteworthy coincidence. and thats how people should view stuff like this in general. at the end of the day both men and women face many of the same issues. self image, legal discrimination, sexism actual discrimination. im a cook and make less money as a result than a waiter. but all servers at my job are women and i could never get that position, because “women are statistically better at sales. there are facts of life that we have to deal with and the more content we all are with our own lotes in life and the lots of others the more ahppy and free a society we will be after all we live in the greatest time in history as far as human welfare is concerned. men and women are not created equal just as not all people are. we all have different strengths and weaknesses and thats what we should focus on is that we all share the same differentness.

    • yup says

      I’ll be 100% clear out of the gate on this: I disagree wholeheartedly with nearly everything Thunderf00t has put in his ‘Why ‘Feminism’ is Ruining…’ vids. The only semi-cogent point he has made through any of this -and literally the only one- is that the response to the harassment received has become a larger issue than warranted. Unfortunately, Tf00t is guilty of making it worse so his point is nearly negated. Notice I’m not saying anyone should have to tolerate this harassment, nor should anyone condone it. But I think both ‘sides’ are guilty of making this the focal point of a movement where the vast majority of the folks fall between 4 and 6 on Jasper’s (fantastic) scale below.

      It also happens to be something you might have a hard time grasping. You see, in our universe, there are these things called jokes. And one common feature of jokes, which makes them funny, is the use of hyperbole. One often tells jokes with one’s friends. Like, maybe, on this technology thingy called twitter.

      So when you say things like this people (including me) are bound to bristle a little. Why? First and foremost is because you are using the exact same defense anyone who agrees with the assholes that told the jokes would use, yet you don’t even see that. After all what they said were ‘Just jokes’ right? No, because you disagree with the assholes (as do I) and agree with Adria (so do I). But then you can set your watch to what happens next. Other assholes came out of the woodwork to harass Adria. A+ jumps in their White Knight Mobile and decry this not as the work of a few assholes, but as symptomatic of the movement. SO when someone says ‘Tweeting a photo of two people goes against the very freakin policy they had in place to handle things like this’ A+ starts responding not to that comment but to the assholes who say Adria deserves the most vile treatment imaginable. Suddenly a meaningful conversation is impossible because one percent of the jackasses on either end of the spectrum turn it into freakin Watergate. Take PZ Myer’s brainless quote on it*:

      …but one of the things I’m seeing all over the place is that in the conversation about where to draw the line, women are expected to shut up…

      Let’s say that is true. I’m sure some bonehead said something like that. But that wasn’t in the article he’s quoting. They pointed out that putting a photo on Twitter is not the way to handle situations like this. Now, agree with that or don’t but for crying out loud, don’t make proclamations from the mountaintop that this is the SOP for skeptics, or even society at large. The conversation about this was much more nuanced than ‘What A+ Thinks vs What the Slymepit Thinks.’ Some, probably most of us can look at the Adria Richards situation and say “Man, those guys (the ones who told the jokes) are assholes.” and ALSO say “She shouldn’t have handled it that way.” Many of us can hold complicated opinions on issues. Many of us have been forced to rethink literally everything about our being to come to some solutions we aren’t comfortable with. Unfortunately, because of the rhetoric that both you and Tf00t are guilty of, we are put in a situation where we can’t you know, be skeptical without being branded a Slyme-Pitter or a Feminazi or whatever stupid damn names both sides sit around and dream up. Like it or not, this is exactly what happens on the A+ boards, on the Slymepit boards and specifically on YouTube. Like it or not, this article is driving that same result.

      What you (and I’d argue the majority of the folks who promote Atheism+) have done is create a movement by taking literally the worst people as examples in the movement and used that as status quo. Tf00t is just as guilty of this by waving his hands in the air every time a perceived slight occurs and mobilizing the trolls against these slights. There is no longer a rational discussion to have. You call him a sociopath, he reads your tirade in a whiny voice in a video. This isn’t how grown-ups, much less skeptical grown-ups approach issues.

      When people say you are being divisive, it isn’t because we disagree with what you are promoting. In fact, I’d venture a guess to say that skepticism/rationality lead to most of the things you advocate. You are being divisive because you insult our intelligence by saying -I dunno- that the disgusting trolls on Reddit are all capital-A Atheists. Do you honestly believe that a single person that made a disgusting rape-threat comment was at AACON? What about The Reason Rally? Do you think someone who could say that to a little girl could actually stand shoulder to shoulder with people in the larger atheist/humanist movement? Because that is the only way that much of your rhetoric makes any sense.** So I’d love to hear your thoughts on this because somehow A+ and Tf00t have managed to turn what I think the vast majority of atheists/skeptics believe are core tenets of being in the movement (don’t feed the trolls, don’t tolerate hate and be skeptical) into this gigantic festering pile of quote-mining, he-said/she said, attention grabbing garbage. All of this bandwidth is wasted on the most reasonable people in the movement (ie those of us who don’t post 20 times a day). Worse yet: it isn’t going to solve anything. I’m not saying we shouldn’t police our own backyards, but A+ and Tf00t have created these boogeymonsters that no one can slay. So yeah. I got a right to be hostile. Rather than taking time to engage about the historicity of Jesus or chemistry, or science, or church-state separation, we have this nonsense to discuss.

      I feel like a few years back I walked into this room of amazing people with amazing ideas and a lot of interesting stuff was being discussed. Then two people said something remarkably stupid. And two more people disagreed and started arguing. The rest of us have been standing in the room with our arms raised saying ‘Hey, lets get back to the whole reason we are here’ only to be shouted down. Then someone in one group says ‘Look, the meetings are going to be about THIS from now on.’ Well, no offense, I agree with THIS but that isn’t the primary reason I’m here. ‘Sorry, you support the other side then.’

      If you guys can’t fix this, I understand that too. Maybe A+ will break off and form an awesome thing and godspeed to it. Maybe with enough pressure the entire atheist community will say ‘Man, these folks are right. Lets be A+!’ All I know is that if the meetings are going to be 7900 words about why someone else in the room is an asshole, then I have better ways to spend my time.

      *I hadn’t even read PZ’s response. I just googled ‘PZ Myers Adria’ and found this. The fact that I know he’d have a massive blog post about this and the blog post would be exactly what I thought it would be speaks volumes as to how far this conversation has devolved. So much for skepticism…
      **I know you are chomping at the bit to throw in The Amazing Atheist as evidence, but is he really a part of any movement? Is he really a voice for anyone? Has he ever been anything but Tf00t’s unspoken mentor? Has anyone defended his nonsense? He’s CNN’s pick because an SEO team told them he was the first hit for ‘Atheist’ on YouTube.

    • says

      Conduct at a professional event governed by a conduct policy is different from anywhere else. If you cannot grasp that, you have a problem.

      Jokes between friends in their own forum, and harassment, are also different things. If you cannot grasp that that, you have a problem.

      Reasonable criticism and trolling to annoy or disrupt reasonable discourse are also different things. If you cannot grasp that, you have a problem.

      And who it is that is engaging in demeaning and harassing behavior is totally irrelevant to whether you should condemn and downvote it. Which is all I ask anyone to do. Thus it is totally funking irrelevant who you think is doing it, whether “atheists with a capital A” or not. If you give a shit, you’ll do sone thing about it. Which means at the very, very, very least hitting a thumbs down button; and at the very, very least, say it is despicable and wrong and you don’t want to see any more of it; and at the very least, spread the word and encourage more people to do the same.

      If you bristle at that, there is something wrong with you. You need a good dose of that Socratic self-examined life.

    • says

      Rewrite history? Richard, you just rewrote my comment from barely a few paragraphs up. If you read it again, you will see that I at no point expressed a personal viewpoint on the matter. I merely laid out some evidence, and asked your opinion.

      The fired employee has publicly stated that “forking” a “repo” was not a sexual joke. Oh, and…

      If the joke wasn’t sexual, then it wasn’t a joke. So that nonpology doesn’t make sense

      Just because you (and, in this case, I) don’t find a joke funny, doesn’t mean it isn’t a joke.

      Now, he did make a sexual joke about a dongle, and I shall repeat, for you seem intent on making the worst you can out of every word I write, that I have not expressed an opinion on the matter, and am not defending the joke. What exactly was the injustice in Adria overhearing a sexual joke that was no different from one she herself made on the public forum of Twitter

      You’re right, of course, that she was right to report him if she felt harassed, and, as a society, should be deciding whether she is an over-sensitive whiner, or fully justified in her actions, and by those means, we come to a compromise on what constitutes harassment (as opposed to, say, deciding what constitutes harassment, and then telling everyone who disagrees that they are bad people). It’s also worth noting that she didn’t report the two men to PyCon, she tweeted about them to the world, thus creating a public relations problem that led to both one of the men, and herself, losing their jobs.

      I agree that she has received some unacceptable abuse by some real bad people, however. She deserved some kind of punishment for acting inappropriately (tweeting them, rather than following proper channels) but the loss of her job was more than she deserved, there was no need for a hate campaign.

      As for your own determination to paint me as a closed-minded, bigoted, sexist, (probably racist, given time) “hater”, I would appreciate it if you would engage me in some of the reasonable discourse you apparently welcome. My attempts to actually have an exchange with you thus far have been met with constant attempts to make my words into some kind of swastika that can be painted on my forehead. In short, I have made arguments, and you have called me names.

      You can do better.

    • says

      You’re right, of course, that she was right to report him if she felt harassed

      Wrong. She was right to report him if he was in violation of the conduct policy. This is not harassment, it’s simply unprofessional behavior.

      Stop trying to push your fallacy false equivalence.

      She deserved some kind of punishment for acting inappropriately.

      Like what?

      Look at my links. She did follow proper channels–and was praised for doing so by the venue. She identified a violator of the conduct policy, notified the venue and asked for action, and they did what their policy said they’d do.

      For which she should be punished?

      If enforcers of policies should be punished for enforcing policies, then the policies may as well not even exist.

      This is just another kidnapper’s fallacy you’re trying to foist on us.

      As for your own determination to paint me as a closed-minded, bigoted, sexist, (probably racist, given time) “hater”, I would appreciate it if you would engage me in some of the reasonable discourse you apparently welcome.

      Funny how I never said any of those things. Here we are witnessing fake history in the making.

      I calmly showed your claims were factually false and demonstrated an inability to make basic and obvious distinctions.

      You respond by claiming I dismissed you as a “closed-minded, bigoted, sexist, (probably racist) hater” and that I’m the one engaging in unreasonable discourse.

      Proving you wrong is not unreasonable discourse. If it makes you look like an asshat, that was your own doing.

    • says

      Wrong. She was right to report him if he was in violation of the conduct policy. This is not harassment, it’s simply unprofessional behavior.

      Seems to me that every complaint about these guys’ behaviour has been based on what is said in the PyCon 2013 Code of Conduct definition of what they consider harassment.

      Look at my links. She did follow proper channels–and was praised for doing so by the venue.

      Okay, I’ll bite, Richard. Where does it say that she got out of her chair and found a steward to inform of the situation? What about an email to the organisers, or a phone call? In your links, or any other? Twitter is a public forum. Bringing such matters up in public is unprofessional. Technically, she notified the venue. It is the notifying of the rest of the world at the same time that is unprofessional. We’ve already established (though you neglected to acknowledge or refute it, as is your way), that she misunderstood part of what they were saying. What if her misunderstanding had been more drastic, and she’d outed these men as something more sinister than two slightly immature guys making a private joke a little too loudly? Nobody besides the organisers, the people involved, and their employers should ever have known about this incident. If this your idea of social justice, and you don’t see the potential pitfalls, “you’re seriously disturbed”.

      Proving you wrong is not unreasonable discourse. If it makes you look like an asshat, that was your own doing.

      Well, firstly, even if you were proving me wrong (and, as I keep saying, a lot of this is subjective, your “right” is not always right), there is still reasonable, respectable, dignified way to go about it. One befitting of a respected academic. Saying I look like an “asshat” is more befitting of some of the lower-YouTube comments. As it turns out, you’re only convincing yourself and the six hundred or so Carrier-apologists, so I’ll live.

    • says

      Read the links. She used e-media to inform the staff (the picture was even to help the staff identify them). They pulled her and the men out and investigated. That’s exactly how it should have went down.

      What you understood is moot. Remember, the facts are the facts. You can either understand them correctly or not. That’s all that matters. And understanding them correctly requires actually making an effort to find out what they are.

      As to whether my rebuttal was respectable and dignified, it absolutely was. Just in case anyone has lost track, you are talking about this comment. Point to any single thing in there that was not calmly reasoned.

    • XZ says

      Richard Carrier said “That you can’t tell the difference speaks either to your poor intelligence or your delusionality.”

      This is what we call an argumentum ad hominem, Richard. Attacking the person, rather than the issue. It’s a logical fallacy, and has no place in proper discourse and debate.

      I can see that I’m not going to get honest debate here. Thank you very much; I let thee be. I want no part of a dishonest debate.

    • says

      You evidently don’t know what an argumentum ad hominem is. That’s when you attack the man instead of his argument/evidence/premises. I attacked his argument: I pointed out his argument hinged on a fallacy of false equivalence. I then said that he could only be failing to make such basic distinctions because he is delusional or not very smart. It literally has to be one or the other (that’s called a proper dichotomy), unless he is being insincere (and is thus just a troll), but I was being charitable and assuming his sincerity. Identifying the problem (the cause of a basic failure if logic) is the first step needed toward correcting it. If he’s sincere, he will either work to escape his blinding delusion, or work to learn how to reason better. At least one can hope.

    • says

      Read the links. She used e-media to inform the staff (the picture was even to help the staff identify them).

      Read my comment. She used public e-media to inform the staff. It is my opinion, Richard, that this is unprofessional. She was mistaken on half of her complaint, what if she had been mistaken on all of it? You evidently do not feel that it is unprofessional to broadcast something like this to the world, rather than contacting the organizers in private. That is your opinion. Neither mine, nor your opinion is empirically correct.

      Just in case anyone has lost track, you are talking about this comment. Point to any single thing in there that was not calmly reasoned.

      No, Richard, I’m talking about your demeanor throughout this whole poor excuse for productive discourse.

    • says

      She used public e-media to inform the staff.

      If you engage in misbehavior publicly in a crowded room, I am not obligated to protect your privacy. You have no reasonable expectation of privacy in that instance. Thus, you have no valid complaint here.

      She was mistaken on half of her complaint, what if she had been mistaken on all of it?

      (A) No, she wasn’t (something doesn’t cease to be a sexual remark just because it is said of a man). And (B) that’s why the act was investigated by the event staff and they came to a decision by their own procedures and rules.

      It’s weird to see someone oppose freedom of speech (because what we say “might be wrong”) who I’m sure would immediately turn around and defend that same freedom of speech when it isn’t a woman speaking. The bottom line is, “that the speaker might be wrong” is never a valid reason to say they should shut up. If it were, no one should ever be allowed to speak about anything.

      The bottom line is, you walked into a thread talking about sustained campaigns of harassment against women, and started insisting Adria Richards deserved hers. When this was pointed out as vile, you backtracked and admitted she should not have been harassed, but you continued to argue she deserved “some” sort of bad treatment, which is (a) no longer relevant to this thread (where it is how she was harassed, and the defending of that harassment, that is being discussed here as wrong) and (b) not even discernibly true (you have still have not said “what” she should have deserved for her supposed crime, much less have you tied that to anything relevant to what we were discussing here).

      So, care to explain why anything you are attempting to argue here is even relevant to the article you are commenting on or the subsequent discussion of that article in this thread?

      And care to say what bad treatment this particular woman should have received, if you now agree she didn’t deserve the sustained campaign of harassment that she did receive?

    • yup says

      I’m not trolling here, this is an honest question: was that a response to my post or just the entire situation? Because I clearly addressed exactly what you are talking about. Rather than blockquote the entire thing, I’ll just respond by paragraph number.

      1. Maybe I wasn’t clear enough? The conduct policy did not say ‘Just go ahead and post pics to Twitter of people breaking the policy.’ Am I wrong about that? Please note (again) I’m not siding with the assholes who told the jokes. Because if you don’t see that you’ve just proved the entire point of my screed. Here is the thing: if you think the assholes in question deserve to be fired, we can disagree about that. But that still has nothing to do with the fact that she didn’t follow the much-vaunted CONDUCT POLICY everyone wants. I think you’d want a policy that protects people from public shaming before the evidence is in. Had she gone to the organizers (like the policy said she should) and said ‘Hey, these guys are telling inappropriate jokes, making me feel uncomfortable’ they would have been removed from the conference immediately. Instead it is off to Twitter where she is going to be addressed by literally everyone with an account. Stating ‘Duh’ at this point isn’t agreeing with the tormentors. (To be clear the response was deplorable). Instead you honestly believe this is evidence that an atheist group’s platform should be ‘Don’t do stuff like this?’ I guess it is just about what side you are on?

      2. So Twitter is now ones ‘own forum’? Is YouTube also? I’m just trying to clarify because I would think two guys whispering jokes to each other -no matter how despicable those jokes are- is a much more private ‘forum’ than a digital platform where literally the entire planet can view it. And this is how the argument begins. You immediately jump to the side that these guys are to blame, that they deserve what they got. So it is OK to break the rules of conduct where a perceived injustice is taking place. So should people tweet shirts they dont’ like? Maybe ‘fake’ jewelry? Lets publicly shame everyone instead of solving the problem! Maybe it depends on who’s side you are on?

      3. I don’t even know where this is coming from. I repeatedly call out Tf00t for being a jackass and trolling. I don’t even think what he does is a criticism of anything in particular, but an ax to grind down to the nub. But if 7900 words calling someone a sociopath because of said videos reasonable, I guess we have to agree to disagree. In writing this, I just realized what is actually happening: you both view yourselves as leaders somehow. You see it as an ideological struggle between two sides. Guess what? Neither of you represent a ‘side’ as much as a small minority of folks who almost no one in the middle can get on board with. In short: no one views this as a fight for atheism’s soul, but a gigantic distraction between two ideologues.

      4. I completely agree that it doesn’t matter who is actually doing the trolling and harassment. But this was a dodge. My point is that up until now, the worst harassment I’ve seen has come from an extraordinarily small segment of this movement. Now does that mean we should tolerate it? Nope. Does it mean we shouldn’t address it? Nope. should we poo-poo it and say ‘Eh, no big deal?’ Nope. But it also doesn’t mean we make it the primary freakin platform of an atheist movement. In fact, rallying a small segment to rail against what you perceive to be the problem with a larger segment is the definition of divisive, even if I agree with you. Worse yet: it makes that smaller segment worse.

      Also, thanks for jumping immediately to ‘Something is wrong with you’ as a mantra. Sincerely, good luck with A+ because this response speaks volumes to the level you are willing to sink to. I’ve never once commented on this site. I repeatedly say I agree with you, that Tf00t is wrong and that harassment shouldn’t be tolerated. But maybe you are right. Maybe there is something wrong with trying to have an actual conversation. Since I didn’t say ‘F#*K TF00T YOU ARE 100% CORRECT LET’S DESTROY THE PATRIARCHY’ there is ‘something wrong with me.’

      Way to build bridges! YA+Y!

    • yup says

      Whoah, a flood of responses popped before mine. You addressed using Twitter as a platform, though I still think you won’t see the forest for the trees on this one.

    • says

      I just want to correct this very basic and obvious misconception/lie:

      A+ jumps in their White Knight Mobile and decry this not as the work of a few assholes, but as symptomatic of the movement.

      This is my opinion, and although I haven’t read the A+ forums in a few months, I think it’s representative of the overall A+ position: It’s not that such misogynistic backlashes are symptomatic of the movement. They’re symptomatic of the culture, and obviously the skeptic/atheist community is a subset of whatever cultures its members exist in, whether American, European, or whatever. I mean, it’s pretty obvious: you see similar backlashes in communities outside of atheism and skepticism; it would be pretty irrational to claim that it’s unique to atheism and skepticism.

      Over and over again I’ve heard skeptic or atheist dudebros object that skeptics and atheists are not MORE sexist than the average Joe. Over and over again I ask them to point to me where someone has claimed that our community is worse than the culture in general. Or why it should be acceptable to sexist, but no more sexist than the average.

      They seem to be under the impression that uttering the words, “I’m a skeptic” or “I’m an atheist” is a magical incantation that erases biases, prejudice, and cognitive errors from one’s consciousness.

    • TheGkmasta says

      After reviewing your links on the Adria subject it appears that from her own timeline she tweeted the picture of the gentlemen first (before doing anything else). This was completely inappropriate considering the situation. She should have given them common courtesy of telling them she is uncomfortable and asking them to stop.

      They were likely unaware of the harassment policy and could have simply been educated on the matter privately. I do not expect every person at every conference to be aware of every policy of that conference and believe it’s beyond reason to expect that.

      It’s not a matter of whether she or the event organizers followed the proper procedures it’s a matter of common courtesy. I would not want to associate with someone that is so self-righteous in their views that they cannot empathize with two people wanting to share a respite of humor at what was likely a very dry, listless conference. I would also not want to associate with someone that does not attempt to address a problem themselves before relying on some authority figure to solve everything for them (her safety was not at risk considering there were literally hundreds of people around her that could have prevented an act of violence).

      I also believe that Adria’s termination was justifiable for the reasons given by her former employer. Somebody who acts in a way that lacks such compassion and reason can not be an ambassador of anything. Also, she apparently needs to be micro managed and can’t handle an innocuous situation on her own. How does that speak to her communication and management skills?

      Her initial action was not appropriate and not justifiable.

    • says

      This was completely inappropriate considering the situation.

      No, it wasn’t. People behaving publicly in a crowded room have no expectation of privacy. Free speech is her right. People post things like this all the time.

      You need to distinguish what she was in her rights to do from what you “don’t like” about it.

      That’s the only point that matters here. Because we’re not talking about people who just said they didn’t like what she did. We’re talking about a massive campaign of harassment.

      Eyes on the ball.

    • says

      something doesn’t cease to be a sexual remark just because it is said of a man

      No, it ceases to be a sexual remark when the context is not sexual. I refer you, once again, to the link in which the meaning of “fork a repo” is explained. At this point, you’re not even reading the comments you’re replying to.

      This is your space, Richard, and I came here expecting reasonable discourse. Instead, I got you. So now, I’ll leave you to your space, where you can preach A+ unopposed, all the while telling yourself that the growing number of people (now including notable figures in academia) that disagree with you are merely ignorant trolls.

      Tatty-Bye

    • says

      No, it ceases to be a sexual remark when the context is not sexual.

      “I’d fork his repo” is a sexualized remark (it is a play on gay sex). That’s the only reason it’s supposed to be funny.

    • yup says

      Sorry I can’t reply to you directly, SallyStrange but for some reason replies don’t pop next to some posts for me. I’ve never commented on these forums before so let’s just call it user error. :)

      First, I completely agree that the ‘I’m a skeptic/atheist’ is used as a shield against these things by many folks and sometimes wrongly. But since A+ is, you know, Atheism Plus, the focus from them is going to be on harassment, etc from the atheist community. My point was (and I’m sure Richard will respond directly) that I just don’t see how you can use Reddit as an example of atheists in general, or even specifically in that thread. Reddit is a great place for a lot of things, but it has a ton of baggage that comes along with it (namely anonymous usernames) creates a situation where anyone comes in and trolls. For Richard to imply that this harassment is indicative of the atheist community is just silly. Note I’m not saying the harassment is warranted, nor should we ignore it. And we should hold this group to higher standards, completely agreed. And if you want an entire club dedicated to fighting trolls, that is great too. I think a lot of people are asking for a realistic assessment of the problem and a legitimate solution. In this case saying /atheism on Reddit = atheist attitudes about gender and we should therefore rename atheism altogether is neither a realistic assessment nor a legitimate solution.

      So conference guidelines? Great. An awareness campaign against trolls? OK, in principle I agree but good luck not making the problem worse. There is too much to gain from the overly vocal minority of trolls to make that work. But to imply the issue warrants re-branding the entire group based on that principle is unbelievable.

  5. Ulysses says

    It’s my belief that ThunderfOOt is a narcissistic blowhard who refuses to even speculate he might be wrong about something. He came to FTB and decided to write, badly, about his dislike of sexual harassment policies at conventions. This was not well received but instead of reading and examining what the objections were to his stance, he dug himself a deeper hole. Soon he was past the point where he could admit his initial comments were ill-considered and gracefully withdraw from the argument. Now his ego makes it impossible for him to do anything but lash out at anyone he deems a “tormentor.”

  6. Wowbagger, Designated Snarker says

    Richard Carrier wrote:

    Why Thunderf00t even maintains any following in light of this truly astonishes me.

    Because he tells people in simple terms exactly what they want to hear: that, as atheists, they’re smarter than the religious. Anything that runs contrary to that – the idea that, as atheists, we should be doing more than simply receiving praise – undermines his ability to do that, and his followers’ inability to feel better about themselves for it.

    It’s why one of the people they’re bitterest at is PZ. He used to be the poster boy for highlighing and mocking religious inanity – ‘Crackergate’ being the best, but by no means the only, example – but once he started turning a critical eye on the atheist community, those who had previously enjoyed his analysis when it wasn’t pointed at them became very unhappy indeed.

  7. says

    TF00t has long since passed beyond the event horizon – there’s no rescuing him.

    It’s like we have our own Tea Party, where a well known figurehead (like Palin) is firing up the crowds with a lot of misinformation.

    As usual, a post like this is not about convincing TF00t about anything. We’re facing a sustained misinformation campaign, and the question is, how do we deal with that? Setting the record straight, and doing so consistently and undauntedly, is about all we can do.

    I think we’re dealing with a spectrum of people:

    1) The sociopaths
    2) The sexists/misogynists
    3) The misinformed (those who may be on our side, if they understood the actual facts)
    4) The indifferent
    5) The fair-weather/casual feminists (I may fall into this category, unfortunately)
    6) Feminists
    7) Fanatic Feminists

    I think the vast majority exists between 3 and 5, and can be persuaded. Category #2 would need shaming/ostracization in the same sense that the KKK would. #1, the malignant, are best to be set aside.

    While the majority exists between 3 and 5, arguably they are the biggest issue. They need to be educated and/or mobilized… which is why it’s imperative to keep talking and keep discussing.

    • says

      Well said.

      In addition to that apt observation and recommendation:

      The average rate of sociopathy in the general population is around 1 in 100. If there are 10,000 active atheists involved online (i.e. reading, frequenting, commenting on, voting on atheist media, etc.), then on average 100 of them are sociopaths. If you think back and count in your head all the commenters who have done disturbing things exhibiting cruelty or lack of empathy (e.g. harassment, the more vicious and unsympathetic sexism, abusive or belligerent behavior, taunting, etc.), I’m willing to bet it sums to fewer than 100.

      That’s what you should expect when 1 out of every 100 atheists you interact with online will be a sociopath. Availability bias and stand-out bias will then highlight in your mind the vile and heartless commenters (as they comment with more frequency and force than the vast majority who do not feel the need to comment at all).

      It’s disturbing math. But hard to avoid. And worth thinking about.

      The best we can do is heed your recommendation.

  8. robotczar says

    I consider myself a long time atheist and quite liberal in my ideology and politics. I would argue that attempting to have ideological and political “social justice” test for “good” atheism is not beneficial to atheism or social justice. Disowning people because they disagree with your ideological/political views on social justice is oppressive and not consistent with goals of the atheist movement, or atheism itself, which has no clear connection for anyone’s personal views of what constitutes social justice.

    Speaking of “we” is itself a problem as our personal views, the only thing we can ever really speak about, get artificially inflated by imagined support from mythical others. The we tactic is often found in anti-atheist diatribes and that alone should result in our questioning that tactic.

    Also, asserting that moral behavior is self evident also seems to me to be more like the positions of theists (who instead claim moral behavior is given) rather than the position that evidence must be provided, not granted, as I think atheism demands. Feeling strongly about an issue is no means to determine what is right or just. A characteristic of atheism is skepticism in which one does not simply agree or go along with others because they claim moral superiority or they have numbers. The atheist position should be that there is room for debate on all issues and that moral certainty is a red flag. Shouting people down or preventing the from speaking is a tactic of believers, not those with a skeptical position or a willingness to apply critical thinking.

    What is morally right does not have to be defended by mindless rules, dogma, or knee jerk reactions. If it is right, then it will withstand attacks regardless of the viciousness or irrationality of the attackers. Atheists should err on the side of letting people have there say and also openly considering all viewpoints on an issue. I suggest that the very amount of words you have to devote to this issue should in some way give you pause to review your position. It is easy to get emotionally irrational when one feels attacked. I suggest you step back and listen to yourself advocating for not having an open mind and not demanding evidence instead of mere belief. Do you really think that position is consistent with the atheist perspective, let alone a requirement to be an atheist?

    • says

      There’s no “social justice test.” The only “test” (such as it is) is whether you endorse or oppose compassion, honesty, and reasonableness as core values.

      The interest in social justice is not a requirement, but just something we think we should talk about more and maybe be more involved in.

      It is folly to equate the two, and indeed in this very article I point out how I separated them in my original article. Let’s get this straight: we are only denouncing people who oppose compassion, honesty, and reasonableness as core values (or who act cruelly, dishonestly, or unrepentantly unreasonable). The rest is community building. In my video I specifically explain that individual atheists and atheist orgs can pursue any narrower goals they want. When it comes to expanding our community involvement and information network, it’s not about requiring anyone to do anything.

      Disowning people because they disagree with your ideological/political views on social justice

      Not I nor anyone advocating Atheism+ has ever said one word about “disowning people because they disagree with your ideological/political views on social justice.” This is simply a slander that ignores everything I very specifically say in my video. To the contrary, I have very specifically said exactly the opposite.

      If you were told otherwise, you now should distrust whoever told you that. They are either lying or were duped by someone down the phone-game who was.

      asserting that moral behavior is self evident

      I have never said that.

      To the contrary, this is what I have said, which is quite clearly exactly the opposite:

      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.

      If anyone told you otherwise, they were lying…or were duped by someone down the phone-game who was.

      What is morally right does not have to be defended by mindless rules, dogma, or knee jerk reactions.

      I agree. And since I never said it should be otherwise, this is moot. Don’t you agree? (See paragraph above.)

      Let me remind you at this point that you have not rebutted a single point made in the article you are commenting on. My documentation of Thunderf00t’s dishonesty, illogicality, concealing and misrepresentation of evidence, lack of empathy, and stalwart attacks against any concern for the happiness of atheist women or minorities is all what this article is about. Let’s not forget that.

    • robotczar says

      The social justice test is agreeing with your definition of compassion, integrity, and reasonableness. I don’t think being an atheist requires these conditions, but even if some or most atheists want to support them doesn’t mean we can validly have a social justice test. These constructs are not well defined and can only be resolved by looking at actual behaviors. People disagree about what behaviors constitute sexual harassment. We are in no position to determine who is right or wrong except by reason and critical thinking which requires listening to alternate positions, not excluding them. That some behavior is egregious harassment does not mean all sexually related behavior is.

      We should become involved in what we believe to be correct or morally right. But, the issue is about whether the atheist “movement” or “community” should. It can’t because atheism at its foundation is not about social justice, no matter how nice or desirable social justice is.

      You don’t have to say that moral behavior is self evidence–you are acting like it is. Why do you insist on compassion, integrity an reasonableness? Bayesian analysis? Critical thinking? It came to you in a dream? You act as if these are obvious moral values. It doesn’t matter if I or others agree with you, that does make them morally right. I doubt you can ever prove them so, but the point is that you must, in the context of open discussion and thought, listen to those who respectfully disagree. You pretty clearly advocated of not listening to such people.

      So, no, we cannot required that atheists specifically embrace YOUR values as part of an atheist community. Moreover, we can’t be all that clear what these vague values indicate when if comes to specific behavior. Is anything any woman finds offensive a case of sexual harassment that can’t be tolerated? No, so the argument is in the details about what constitutes sexual harassment, and compassion, etc. One value associated with atheism is having an open mind, using critical thinking, and referring to evidence. Those are the moral values that are required of atheists, not traditional politically liberal ones.

      I hear you when you deny you want to exclude based on a moral test, but I must say that you talk gives the the opposite impression.

    • says

      The social justice test is agreeing with your definition of compassion, integrity, and reasonableness. I don’t think being an atheist requires these conditions

      I’ve never said “being an atheist” requires those values. My talk very specifically explains it’s about an atheist community needing those values to survive and be of value to its members and the world. Requiring x to be an atheist and needing x to be a successful community are not the same thing. And being an atheist and being part of an atheist community are not the same thing.

      Get it right.

      Then actually watch my video to see why we (as the community we now are) need these values. And why we need to oppose those who refuse them.

      You don’t have to say that moral behavior is self evidence–you are acting like it is.

      Now I know you aren’t paying attention. I very specifically have said the exact opposite from nearly day one. I will do this, yet again (even though I’ve done it multiple times already in this very thread), just to show how stubbornly you are refusing to inform yourself. 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.

    • robotczar says

      I did watch your video. I perhaps missed or misinterpreted some of what you said, or you could have not said exactly what you meant or you could have said two contradictory things at times. That is one reason we have a discussion after the fact. So you can clarify.

      The fact that you claimed an atheist “community” doesn’t really change my concerns. Why not call it a community for social justice? It is unclear what atheism has to do with the community you declare other than some (many?) members of the community are atheists. It seems clear that lots of atheists are members of the atheist community but do not see the social justice issues exactly as you do. So, goals of mutual support and aid are really not enough to define a community if members if the many members do not adopt your position on moral values. Whether the atheist community is very compatible with your view of a community of social justice is precisely the issue of contention.

      But, the real sticking point is what you want to do. I am unclear about what you are recommending. (Despite listening to your video.) Should people be shunned or silenced or shouted down because they don’t agree with your goals of compassion, etc. ? Should they be shunned and ejected from the community because they don’t agree with which behaviors (e.g., regarding social-sexual interaction) illustrate compassion and reasonableness?

    • snowman says

      I love how you keep posting that I’m maybe thunderfoot, that’s hilarious, only heard of him from you recently!

      Fantastic comments, robotczar! Not a hint of the usual backstabbing, minutiae-gazing or righteous moralistic preaching found here.

      And then there are Richard’s replies.

      >>My documentation of Thunderf00t’s dishonesty, illogicality, concealing and misrepresentation of evidence, lack of empathy, …

      Surely you have some notion, Richard, that this can be done for you in spades? Just use this crazy article with it’s absurdly drawn claims of racism, etc. And you are the atheist king of trashtalk. Heal thyself, physician.

      >>it’s about an atheist community needing those values to survive

      Quashing debate about specific moral/political claims is a prerequisite to the survival of an atheist club? Quite the opposite, no, especially for the “atheist movement” in general.

      You go on your character assassination of this thunderfoot guy as though he’s been raping and pillaging rather than merely arguing against certain ideas you advocate. If he broke your little FTBlog or A+ club’s rules, revoke his card for that, but that’s not a matter of general atheist interest.

      It seems to me that American “professional” atheists like you Richard, and all that follows like A+, are geared toward fighting wars and are the worst possible models for healthy atheism because so twisted and poisoned at the root by your religious and cultural environment there – must have adherents on a war footing, a “true” moral code to take into battle, rights, conferences, goals… uniforms? – rather than being able to live atheism naturally with simple skepticism.

      Father Carrier calling the flock to the church is enough to make any healthy atheist ill, no?

      >>Maybe if he qualified himself and said I made some valid points, like that we should care about our fellow atheists in the minority community and want to fellowship with them, and that he only objected to spending resources evangelizing them

      Oh, puke.

  9. says

    I find it rich that Thunderf00t is calling feminists professional victims when he makes a substantial portion of his income from YouTube, where his main subjects are how feminists are calling him names, creationists are trying to get his videos taken down, PZ Myers won’t let him blog a FTB and Muslims are threatening to kill him. You’ll doubtless be shocked to learn that last one involves a lot of quote-mining and the guy he shows a clip of was in fact responding to a hypothetical situation proposed by Thunderf00t where the “Western” countries decide to wipe the “Muslim” countries off the map.

    • Dan says

      Ah not this again. For the record that guy said:

      “Thunderf00t and people who think like you, if you ever TRY to awaken any sort of sleeping giant that is hostile to any Muslim or non-Muslims innocent person,” So merely TRYING can put Thundef00t on his death list which let’s face can mean ANYTHING, including a YouTube video. It’s pretty ambiguous regardless of what this guy was trying to say. No wonder it was considered a poorly veiled death threat. You need to read between the lines. Given his more recent behavior of YouTube, you shouldn’t give him the benefit of the doubt so easily. He supports some pretty radical things, like the re-establishment of the Caliphate and execution for apostates. He’s no moderate, he’s an Islamic supremacist and he takes Sharia very seriously.

      “AS MANDATED IN THE QUR’AN AND THE TRUE INTERPRETATION OF THE SHARIA THAT ALL TRUE MUSLIMS and the MAJORITY of Muslims in the world share” This is so outrageously stupid, NO religion gives you ANY mandate to kill ANYONE for ANY REASON, and I mean that quite strongly. Even if the person you’re executing is this horrible mass murderer, religion should never be the justification (i.e. right for the wrong reasons).

      “we Muslims and our non-Muslim allies” Yay for lynch mobs!

      “will send you to the God that you wish you knew” Poorly veiled death threat or poor choice of words, in any case it’s an unwarranted reaction since Thunderf00t didn’t endorse what this guy THINKS he endorsed.

  10. uberfeminist says

    “Thunderf00t, who’s real name is [....] [is a sociopath]”

    Thanks for reminding me why I use a pseudonym.

    Why do people think A+ are professional victims?

    Because they spend their time being pissed off on behalf of other people.

    You phrase things as if people need to personally apologize to you for the treatment of some person on reddit. It’s as if TF00t can’t criticize you or A+ without directly insulting the girl. Really?

    At the same time, PZ Myers and Rebecca Watson are pissed off on behalf of women everywhere over something Joe Rogan said. Honestly.

    • says

      You phrase things as if people need to personally apologize to you for the treatment of some person on reddit.

      No, I don’t. And shame on you for trying to claim I did.

      (If anyone wants the truth in this matter, watch my video, where in the first five minutes I describe what I am actually asking for, and I am very clear on the point so it’s not like anyone could possibly confuse it with what uberfeminist just said.)

      Your other attempts to “data mine” and “straw man” and thus misrepresent the reality are not appreciated here. They only expose you as an unreliable source. Your reputation is declining in result.

    • says

      Why do people think A+ are professional victims?

      Because they spend their time being pissed off on behalf of other people.

      This is getting fucking pathetic.

      New rule: If you know fuck-all about the reason Atheism+ exists, the history of how it came about, and its stated missions, goals, and definition, then shut the fuck up about Atheism+.

      It’s bad form to insist on telling other people about something you know fuck-all abut, and you, uberfeminist, obviously know fuck-all about Atheism+.

      Go to the FAQ and the Wiki and learn something before you come back here and further reveal your ignorance.

    • says

      Just to be clear, is that an inference or literally true? That is, is there a comment you can point me to somewhere where uberfeminist does claim or imply they are a troll? I’d love to have that link if so. (It’s not that it would suprise me–well, except that uberfeminist being so honest would surprise me–but that I’d find such a link useful.)

    • says

      Richard… sorry that my comment was so angry, but I’ve really gotten sick of the deliberate misrepresentations of A+. I’m frayed over it by now, to be honest. It’s gone beyond annoying and has become infuriating.

      And it’s not like they can claim “ignorance”. In a few cases, they grant they were wrong (I corrected one of Richard Coughlin’s misconceptions, and he accepted it graciously), but there’s enough information out there that I’m convinced most are just blatantly lying because they don’t want atheism to be anything other than what Blunderdoofus wants it to be.

      I’ll try to temper my language from now on around here, though… can’t make any promises, as my fingers are as dirty as my mouth :D… but I’ll try…

    • uberfeminist says

      I apologize for not being immediately transparent in my interactions on Twitter. I should just publish my home address so you guys can paint “SOCIOPATH” on my door and hand out flyers.

      Note: Thunderf00t did go Godwin on you, if he calls you a fascist you can call him a sociopath. That’s absolutely fair.

    • says

      The difference being that I present extensive and actual evidence he might be a sociopath. He, by contrast, presents nothing even remotely pertinent to me being a fascist.

    • says

      “Thanks for reminding me why I use a pseudonym.”

      Hehe, ubernothing thinks Richard doxxed Thunderf00t now as stated on his blog post.
      http://uberfeminist.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/good-cop-bad-cop.html

      I think I know why you use a pseudonym and its more to do with intellectual cowardice than the hordes of feminazis you think will arrive at your door. There are plenty of non-anonymous anti-FtB ppl to make your paranoid claims ridiculous. You just maybe have some sense and realise that obsessively lying about ppl doesn’t look good on your CV. Hence the anonymity.

    • says

      I don’t suppose there will be any chance of Uberfeminist being transparent about their motives for painting themself as the victim just because I noticed that their behavior is troll-like under the classic definition of a troll? I don’t have any evidence they’re a sociopath. I do have evidence that they behave like a troll.

    • Ben says

      From Richard Carrier:
      “The difference being that I present extensive and actual evidence he might be a sociopath.”

      FYI – saying someone effectively hurt your feelings or caused you vicarious moral outrage is not “extensive and actual evidence”. By that logic anybody I personally dislike (like, say, Richard Carrier) could be called a sociopath.

      For example..
      Richard Carrier is typical of a sociopath – note his emotionally manipulative language, his vainer of being a “nice guy” while posting nasty, passive aggressive things, or his inflated sense of self worth (calling himself the intellectual artillery of the A+ club). These are all traits of a sociopath and therefore Richard Carrier is a sociopath. I have provided extensive and actual evidence to support my claim.

    • says

      …saying someone effectively hurt your feelings or caused you vicarious moral outrage…

      Nowhere in this article do I say either of those things.

      Sociopathy is the lack of empathy, and evinced by narcissistic behavior and a disregard of the rights of others. All of which I extensively documented for Thunderf00t.

      By contrast, I have not violated anyone’s human rights, I have shown empathy for other people quite frequently, and contrary to the attributes of narcissists, I have often admitted I was wrong about something and apologized for it, I have often deferred to the judgment of others or helped them out with no expectation of personal gain, I have often admitted I don’t know something or was uncertain or didn’t succeed at something, and I have shown myself to be forgiving of people who right their wrongs.

      Whereas having self-esteem is not narcissism, honestly appealing to emotion is not being manipulative but persuasive, nice people are often justifiably unkind to not-nice people, and openly criticizing someone is the exact opposite of being passive-aggressive.

      So, Ben = fail.

  11. Alexander says

    Yes, Thunderf00t! is profusely disturbing to me; I don’t understand how any human being can behave in such shitty and dishonest ways and still have a following. I don’t get. I probably never will, just like I don’t understand how people cannot adapt to different ideas given better arguments. And I’m afraid you might be right, that there is a huge underpinning of sociopathy in this, for both him and his followers. How do we deal with sociopathy, especially when the medium is digital?

  12. theetar says

    Is Thunderf00t a sociopath? NO. Is Mr. Carrier flogging a dead horse? It would appear so.

    Really Richard, if you’d spent time trying to understand why A+ is disliked so much, instead of writing walls of text because TF has hurt your feelings so much, you’d be in a more tenable situation.

    • Dag Øystein Johansen says

      You’re absolutely right. But as is quite transparent from his replies in this very comment section, he isn’t really interested in that. He wants to tag on his own undisputable non-negociable “values” to a concept that is inherently nihilistic. Atheism just means a lack of belief in any theist deity.

      If you want to promote compassion and honesty and reason, why not just make a movement organized around that, start out by making clear anyone who raises any questions in connection with these are “assholes”, and take it from there?

      Personally, I think the whole idea is so fundamentally flawed, and so obviously so, that I can’t wait to see the whole thing just go away (which I’m convinced it will). These so-called core values don’t really mean anything. To take just one of the 3 imagined pillars: Any number of people can agree that “we value compassion” (as indeed most religious fanatics think they do), but they clearly can have utterly conflicting, even opposite, ideas about what that actually means. Nor does it really get anyone anywhere to hammer out more sentences that generically describe what is meant by “compassion”. Ultimately the only way it could begin to have any real content is if “the community” actually managed to agree on some concrete policy or policies, and work together to bring them about.

      In short, this is either a useless exercise in navel gazing, or an attempt to ride the current popularity wave of atheism with the intent to turn it into a political activist movement. Whether it’s one or the other, atheism and society at large imo stands to lose from it. As TF pointed out in his video response to this article, there are an awful lot of people who believe in the magic man in the sky, or at least claim they do so. For someone like me, who are not so certain about what policies I think right, but who are quite sure the world could do with less irrationality, and more people thinking for themselves and NOT joining communities to engage in the useless waste of time that is conversation exclusively with people who already agree with you, this whole atheism+ venture looks to be a misadventure.

      If I were to take a cue from Richard I suppose I could say “we are atheists, plus we don’t accept anyone declaring what values we ought to hold,; that includes Richard Carrier” – and add “anyone who doesn’t accept this is an asshole, and I disown them”. I mean, it’s fucking ridiculous.

    • says

      [Note to my readers: This rant shows that he did not watch my video, since that in fact answers everything he says. He is evidently unaware of this, and uninterested in engaging with my actual evidence and arguments. That tells you all you you need to know about the value of his opinion.]

    • Ryan Long says

      Nope, I meant I like his point of view and his arguments. I’ve never met the man.

      And go ahead believe the nonsense you read about me on Greta’s blog. I’m a gay liberal with a background in gender studies, got into a disagreement with Greta on facebook, she and her nasty fans piled on me, twisted everything I said, and generally acted like utterly awful human beings. Then she decided to continue the drama and make it even more public by quoting things completely out of context and making me into some kind of poster boy for “misogyny”. Because: blog hits.

      And this is what “atheismplus” is all about Richard, and why so many people reject it, and your video. You pick fights on-line, write horrible things about other people while simultaneously pretending to be innocent and complaining about “harassment”, and you characterize everyone who disagrees with you as evil “misogynists” – and the targets of this vitriol over the past year or so have included women, liberals and feminists. Which makes people like you and Greta look that much more off-base and unreasonable. That’s why you’re getting downvotes on your video Richard. It’s not an MRA conspiracy. It’s you.

    • says

      Ryan, you have no credibility here. The facts are on record. They do not agree with what you are now claiming. And they do not paint a nice picture of you. I realize cognitive dissonance prevents you from grasping any of that. But we aren’t in your delusional bubble.

    • says

      It’s funny when this happens. I write an article documenting extensively the symptoms of a mental disorder (sociopathy), thus illustrating how to validly make an argument like this, and the response is to make a vague claim of “personality disorder” (? which one ?) without a single iota of evidence or argument, as if somehow that is how it’s to be done.

      Weirdly, you just made my argument against my critics for me: you just illustrated exactly how not to make an argument like that. Which contrasts nicely with how I did, which is exactly the opposite of that.

      (Also, you didn’t identify which comment you mean. There are two of that stamp. This one, in which I point out that Ryan Long has lost his credibility here by lying about Atheism Plus, despite abundant public facts proving them lies. And this one, which does not contain a proposition. So I assume you mean the former, in which case, you are implying I have lied about something. Which requires you to show me what statement I have made that is a lie, and what evidence confirms that. But since you evidently don’t believe in making arguments or using evidence…since you provided neither here…I won’t hold my breath.)

  13. Pteryxx says

    seconded. It’s like an all-you-can-eat buffet of takedown.

    By the way, this:

    some weird meme showing a smiling black woman with the unfathomable text “I’m Joan of Arc for making penis jokes – you’re a sexist for repeating them – Dear God, PLEASE no more social justice warriors!” If you can figure out what that’s supposed to mean.

    is a meme dissing Adria Richards, the tech communicator fired after calling out sexist remarks at a conference. It’s taking a couple of her remarks out of context and claiming that women can’t complain about harassment if they’ve ever made a sex-based joke or comment. One of PZ’s posts on it

  14. says

    I believe the meme about the woman making penis jokes is a reference to “Donglegate”. Funny in the video where he shits on her he calls the joke a “private joke”.

    • Dag Øystein Johansen says

      Doesn’t any of you want to address any of his points? From where I’m sitting he seems to be hitting bullseye. Dongle jokes really aren’t a significant barrier to entry in education.

      It’s not possible to be for free speech and censorship at the same time. Richard, for example, proves to us all beyond doubt that he is not for free speech – he censors these comments. Actions speak louder than words, and ANYONE who censors comments on a blog which very purpose supposedly is to debate things have already discredited themselves.

      Come to think of it, I should just stop right here. It’s pretty hopeless to discuss anything on an arena where one party is both debater and moderator. Those are not fair terms. This is not honest debate. This is not reasoned or rational. It is shameful and cowardly.

    • says

      I haven’t deleted a single comment here so far.

      So much for your “censorship” narrative.

      You are basically proved full of shit by a single number: 345.

      That’s the number of comments so far submitted under this article, and the number of comments so far approved and posted.

  15. Justin says

    Thanks for sticking up for the Light Side, Richard.

    One tiny quibble: you said “we can seek 100 white converts, or 80 white converts and 20 minority converts. The end result is still 100 new atheists.” This would be true if every single instance of “seeking” led to an actual conversion. But surely some ways of seeking are much more likely to yield converts than others. E.g., I would bet that seeking converts at a scifi convention is more likely to succeed than seeking converts at a church. It’s an empirical question whether seeking among minorities will yield converts at the same rate as seeking among whites. The answer surely varies depending on which minorities and which whites you’re seeking among, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the answer often turned out that seeking among whites yields more converts quicker.

    More importantly, I don’t think this says much at all regarding which groups we should most actively seek among. The fact that it might be slow going making inroads in an underrepresented community is not a decisive reason to think we shouldn’t seek converts there. In many cases, it might be quite the opposite — the fact that we haven’t yet made inroads in that community might often be a reason to put special effort into seeking converts there, e.g., to recruit role models who will help make it easier for other members of that community to convert.

    Anyway, I fully agree with the general spirit and most of the details of your take on all this stuff — just wanted to encourage more nuance on this one issue.

    • says

      Right, different strategies may be required in different communities.

      That is indeed one of the very reasons we need to hear from black and hispanic atheists. And I have heard from both at events and conferences, and there really are different issues to take into account, but once you do, the cost-benefit ratio is likely to come out about the same. Certainly, one would have to prove otherwise to argue otherwise. But that would require actually engaging in minority outreach. As any scientist should want to do: go in the field and actually conduct the experiments and observations needed to know what’s really the case.

  16. smhll says

    I think the confusing Joan of Arc reference is about Adria Richards and “Donglegate” at PyCon. Apparently there’s evidence that she once made some kind of crotch joke, about airport screening on Twitter. (IDK if it was public or private). This apparently implies something about her character. (Not really.)

  17. kevinsolway says

    I’m not a fan of Thunderfoot’s methods, which I consider to be popularist, but to say that TF is “attacking women” is ridiculous, and reveals your own methods to be a hundred times times worse than those of TF.

    • says

      Uhuh. He calls women “professional victims” and blames them for the harassment they receive, shows no empathy for them whatever (at no point in the entire video in fact), and mocks and slanders them. And that’s not “attacking women.” I see.

      “I don’t think [that phrase] means what you think it means.” — Inigo Montoya

    • kevinsolway says

      @ Richard Carrier

      “He calls women “professional victims””

      The exact words in TF’s video were “professional victims are creating a toxic environment”, while making particular reference to yourself and Dawahfilms – neither of whom are women. You seem to assume that all professional victims must be women, and you further assume that if there are a handful of female professional victims then *all women* must be professional victims.

      Nobody is making these assumptions except you.

    • says

      Um, no.

      He uses the term more than once, and clearly in reference to the women I named. His entire point is that the women caused what happened to them and therefore deserved it. This can’t even plausibly relate to me (since I, unlike Dawa, was not complaining about anyone reacting to me–thus, not being a victim of anything, TF can’t logically be accusing me of being a professional one).

      And at no point anywhere do I say he thinks “all women are professional victims,” only women who receive online harassment (and that is indeed his point, which is why he rarely names any of them and speaks in generalizations about all harassment being deserved).

    • says

      Quote from Kevin, might make his motivation more understandable ->

      “Increasingly I realized the inseparability of reason and masculinity. At the same time I could not help noticing the increasing feminization of society. The only course open to me was to attack femininity at the root. My life’s work, I decided, would focus on making people aware of the shortcomings of femininity and the great benefits of masculinity. For there to be wise men, there must first be men.”

      Basically he is a self confessed MRA-nut … Also a big fan of Otto Weininger who likes to mix his misogyny up with a healthy dose of anti-semitism. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otto_Weininger

      For me there are few better examples that reason and masculinity do not always go hand in hand than Kev.

    • kevinsolway says

      @Oolon

      “he is a self confessed MRA-nut”

      Are you going for the title of the biggest liar on the planet?

      No, I do not claim to be an MRA – since I have no connection to any men’s rights groups – but it is always an honor to labelled as such, since it indicates that my arguments are sufficiently irrefutable that people are resorting to ad hominem attacks. It means that my opponents have hit rock bottom.

      Incidentally, I do believe that men have rights, and I don’t believe those rights should be less than those of women. I should also say that many men’s rights activists, such as Johntheother, do an excellent job of bringing the issue of equal rights to public attention, and I commend them for what they do. All people are in their debt.

    • Cyranothe2nd, ladyporn afficianado says

      many men’s rights activists, such as Johntheother, do an excellent job of bringing the issue of equal rights to public attention

      …Aaaaand that’s all, folks.

    • says

      LOL, Kevin outdoes himself at being unintentionally funny there… Just look up John the Otter at manboobz.com if you don’t know who he is. Or better yet here he is offering $1000 bounty on the heads of some Swedish Feminists to put on a site dedicated to doxxing feminists/random women that get up John and Paul Elam’s noses. In the process exposing them to a real threat of violence…
      http://manboobz.com/2011/11/21/mens-rights-site-a-voice-for-men-offers-1000-bounty-for-personal-information-on-swedish-feminists/

      Keep it up Kevin, I think you could be one of the best adverts for feminism out there, no woman who comes across you on the interwebs could deny it!

    • AV says

      No Richard, he calls you and SOME women Profesional Victims, because of what you people say not bacause if you are male or female. Critique of feminism or “radical feminism” is NOT hate of women. That you talk for “womens rights” doesn’t make you folks representative for all women. When GirlWritesWhat, Woolybumblebee or Typhon blue critizise you, is that making them “women haters”. You do not have patent on concerns for human rights and equality. If someone doesn’t like your ways or description of the problem, doesn’t make them “haters against women”. Thats why the Stalinism metaphor. If someone say Stalinism is just about workers rights, so all people who are for workers right are basically stalinists. If you won’t call yourself a Stalinist you are a capitalist, an oppressor, a workers hater. When you are saying critique of feminism=hating women you are doing exactly the same.

    • says

      Since I myself have critiqued radical feminism many times, and quite publicly, for you to think I equate that with hating women is laughable here. Likewise for you to think I could ever be called a professional victim, since I’ve never claimed to have been victimized by anything. I’ve been speaking of others who have…which is a result of that thing called empathy I’ve been going on about.

  18. says

    Did TF defend the hacking publicly? If not is there evidence he did it? Even if it occurred I find the rest of the paragraph hard to believe, especially on the word of a ‘friend’. Could you be going too far because a good person fell short of their own values in one instance?

    I cannot find the quote-mine you’re talking about, there seems to be nothing at 0:23 in either of your videos.

    I did not see this: ” he equates (literally equates) criticism of sexists with sexist harassment of women (timestamp 10:40). ” It seemed to me he was saying that some feminist atheists say wild things and whine when people give them shit for it. Whether or not what he claims is the case I have no idea, as you advised in your video I’m starting to look into abuse/harassment claims. It’s terribly difficult and time consuming though.

    • says

      Did TF defend the hacking publicly? If not is there evidence he did it? Even if it occurred I find the rest of the paragraph hard to believe, especially on the word of a ‘friend’. Could you be going too far because a good person fell short of their own values in one instance?

      Feel free to ask Thunderf00t if he thinks what he did was wrong; and if not, why.

      Then you’ll know.

      (I trust my source. Though he did essentially admit it publicly: see here and here, the latter, amusingly, has Tf00t essentially admit to the hack but deny only that he would disseminate what he stole, whereas the former proves he did the latter as well. Gratuitous lying is another symptom of sociopathy. Indeed, in that very post Zinnia quotes where he denies doc dropping [here] he actually doc drops several stolen emails that were written after his hack–not before, contrary to what he claims [as should be obvious, since most of them were reactions to his hack...we still don't know how he hacked in the second time to steal those, but we took steps to make it impossible after that]. His dishonesty is so blatant it’s appalling.)

      I cannot find the quote-mine you’re talking about, there seems to be nothing at 0:23 in either of your videos.

      That’s the timestamp in his video, not mine (where he quote mines me). You can surely find the corresponding part of my video just by watching it, as you should do, so you can see all the material that came before, which is precisely what his video completely ignores (as well as the remarks immediately before and after).

      It seemed to me he was saying that some feminist atheists say wild things and whine when people give them shit for it.

      Keep watching. As I said, he goes on and on making the point, for five minutes. Watch the whole stretch and you’ll see his point is very clearly that harassment is exactly the same as criticizing sexists and therefore we are hypocrites for criticizing sexists while complaining about harassment.

      I linked to numerous examples of sexism and harassment in the article above. You can examine all those. Just for starters.

  19. Randall Johnson says

    Richard, I understand your compassion but I’m having a difficult time believing the problem is as pervasive as you are reporting. You asked me (and all other subscribers to your site) to view the video that was receiving all the down votes and to counter with up votes. I watched and I could not comply.

    You seem to be painting the secular community with a broad brush that I have not personally seen the need for. Whenever I am scolded for something of which I am not guilty, nor is anyone I know guilty of, I tend to tune out the source.

    I think some of the mysogeny cited might actually be from Christian trolls put out to make us all regarded even more poorly than we already are- but even if they are from our ranks, it has to be from a very small minority. We are 15 million strong and even if 25 are miscreants, that is a small percentage.

    Thunderf00t might have well overstated the case but I agree that vehemently dictated PC is akin to anti-blasphemy laws and to be avoided. And like Thunderf00t, I have seen- on more occasions than he cited- PZ make boorishly crude remarks about women- but I still enjoy his inputs to the cause.

    I find your current campaign as a distraction from the goal and a wasted attempt to cookie-cutter the unherdable cats that comprise our bretheren. And sisteren, for that matter. Besides, when confronted with louts of any stripe, my money would be on the likes of Rebecca and Greta and may they have mercy on the offending souls.

    I was once a stock broker within a bank, working with a majority of women. Every so often, one would come in dressed to kill, well made up and professionally coiffed. Usually, it was a special occasion like an anniversary or birthday and they were being taken out right after work by a significant other for dinner or a show. As much as I wanted to say something about how nice they looked and as much as they probably wanted to hear it- they got not a word or second glance from me for fear the slightest compliment might be misconstrued.

    That was my irrational fear of feminism. Thunderf00t might be conflating that with the real harassment of female atheists, I don’t know. There are some bad apples in every barrel but don’t let it take you off task. Had I paid to go to that meeting and heard the sermon you preached as opposed to the Carrier I wanted to hear, I’d have been pissed and down-voted as well.

    • says

      I think some of the mysogeny cited might actually be from Christian trolls put out to make us all regarded even more poorly than we already ar

      So it shouldn’t be downvoted or denounced?

    • says

      I was once a stock broker within a bank, working with a majority of women. Every so often, one would come in dressed to kill, well made up and professionally coiffed. Usually, it was a special occasion like an anniversary or birthday and they were being taken out right after work by a significant other for dinner or a show. As much as I wanted to say something about how nice they looked and as much as they probably wanted to hear it- they got not a word or second glance from me for fear the slightest compliment might be misconstrued.

      That was my irrational fear of feminism.

      This is funny. You’re like one of those religious people who claims that the only thing stopping them from doing bad things is the fear of God.

      You shouldn’t be remarking on your co-workers’ appearance at all. Unless they are doing a TV interview and solicit your opinion, or other similar exceptions.

      Your fear of feminists/feminism is irrational, but probably not for the reason you think it is. However, I’m loathe to debunk it since that might lead to you taking it as a license to begin making inappropriate comments to your female co-workers.

    • says

      I have to say I disagree with both of you. Compliments on appearance can be fully appropriate in the workplace and do not have to be sexualized, and when appropriately tendered are not misconstrued. My wife and I have nearly forty years of combined experience working in many different workplaces (my wife frequently in a human resources capacity), and either of us could talk at length about real-world examples of what I’m talking about (both of acceptable remarks and inappropriate remarks, which suit for comparison). Of course, you should also be complimenting achievements and abilities. And you might step back and think about complimenting men on their appearance from time to time as well. It’s the assumption that there should be a gender difference as to which traits you compliment that is more generally pernicious.

    • says

      To clarify, I do not believe that ALL people should refrain from making remarks about their co-workers’ appearance in the workplace. I believe, specifically, that Randall Johnson, and anybody else who makes a big deal out of being “afraid” of the consequences of making such remarks, should they be “misconstrued”, should refrain from making remarks of that sort, all the time.

      Rational people who can read social cues equally well with both men and women are exempt from this blanket ban. That is, fortunately, a majority of people.

      It’s just like people who claim that the concept of consent is confusing and ask questions about how they will know for sure if a person wants or does not want to have sex with them. For those individuals, sex with anyone but themselves is contraindicated. For everyone else, i.e., those who understand that consent is not all that hard to discern, it’s fine.

    • says

      To clarify, I do not believe that ALL people should refrain from making remarks about their co-workers’ appearance in the workplace. I believe, specifically, that Randall Johnson, and anybody else who makes a big deal out of being “afraid” of the consequences of making such remarks, should they be “misconstrued”, should refrain from making remarks of that sort, all the time.

      Good point. Certainly, if they are under that strange fear, then they do have some things to seriously think through first.

      It’s just like people who claim that the concept of consent is confusing and ask questions about how they will know for sure if a person wants or does not want to have sex with them. For those individuals, sex with anyone but themselves is contraindicated.

      This remark is so awesome it made me laugh. Solid point.

    • says

      “You shouldn’t be remarking on your co-workers’ appearance at all. Unless they are doing a TV interview and solicit your opinion, or other similar exceptions.”

      Would this not be a matter of company policy, rather an equality issue? There is a case to be made that this kind of thing should not go on in the workplace for reasons related to work, but, beyond work, should men be allowed to make an unsolicited comment about a women’s appearance, or not?

      If yes, bringing it up in the context of equality is irrelevant; he shouldn’t comment for the sole reason that it is inappropriate for the workplace.

      If no, it is a matter of opinion that you (and those of like mind) hold, but it is not an absolute truth. The reason I can know it is not an absolute truth is because there are women (I know at least two personally) who have explicitly said that they dislike feminism because [they believe] it tells men they cannot compliment women without prior agreement, or buy them romantic gifts, or anything of that nature, and they like these things.

      I will accept (though I seriously doubt) that women like the aforementioned are a minority, but their very existence means you cannot claim to be absolutely correct on this issue. You can argue your side of the case, and, perhaps, you will find yourself in a majority opinion, but not a unanimous one.

    • says

      Would this not be a matter of company policy, rather an equality issue?

      False dichotomy. It can be, and often is, both.

      There is a case to be made that this kind of thing should not go on in the workplace for reasons related to work, but, beyond work, should men be allowed to make an unsolicited comment about a women’s appearance, or not?

      Men in general? I have no opinion. You in particular, since you’re asking the question? Absolutely never. You, personally, are henceforth banned, by me, who has zero power to enforce this edict, from making any unsolicited comments about any woman’s appearance, ever.

      If yes, bringing it up in the context of equality is irrelevant; he shouldn’t comment for the sole reason that it is inappropriate for the workplace.

      The premise here is false, being that it is based on that false dichotomy you posited in the first sentence I quoted from you. The fact is that women have been historically assigned to be the sex class, and for centuries have been told that the sole measure of their worth lies in their ability to give men boners and pop out babies. The lingering entitlement men feel to inform women about the effect they are having on men’s boners is a residual effect of that cultural belief.

      If no, it is a matter of opinion that you (and those of like mind) hold, but it is not an absolute truth.

      There are no absolute truths, in my opinion. Wait, is that an absolute truth? Or is it just my opinion? Deepity!

      The reason I can know it is not an absolute truth is because there are women (I know at least two personally) who have explicitly said that they dislike feminism because [they believe] it tells men they cannot compliment women without prior agreement, or buy them romantic gifts, or anything of that nature, and they like these things.

      The fact that unnamed female strangers are flat out wrong about feminism is not a valid reason to believe anything except that misinformation about feminism is widespread.

      I will accept (though I seriously doubt) that women like the aforementioned are a minority, but their very existence means you cannot claim to be absolutely correct on this issue.

      Why not? These unnamed strangers are objectively wrong about the effects of feminism/workplace harassment policies.

      You can argue your side of the case, and, perhaps, you will find yourself in a majority opinion, but not a unanimous one.

      Not everyone agrees with me? Gee, what a novel experience. Is this an argumentum ad populum or are you just typing random words?

  20. mildlymagnificent says

    Can’t remember which bit of the post brought this to my mind.

    Can you discern any hint anywhere that his rejection of a right to privacy leads to a “logical” end point in considering issues like voyeurism or stalking? (It’s obvious that he doesn’t get it about harassment or bullying.) I get the feeling that he’s so narrowly focused on online activity, as evidenced in all your cites of his (weird) obsession with hits on searches and blogs and videos, that he’s cooked up an all encompassing notion of rights – more correctly the absence of rights – that really don’t apply in the physical world.

    He obviously sees searching someone’s online activity for information about their private lives as no problem at all. He seems as far as I can tell to make that particular lack of entitlement to privacy so broad that it would cover someone standing, or setting up cameras, to see inside people’s homes, their living rooms, bedrooms and bathrooms.

    My suspicion is that his total lack of logical reasoning and of insight into other people and their opinions and feelings would mean that he would _not_ see the disconnect if he stated that taking off line measures, visual or physical, that intruded into people’s lives was unacceptable. My other suspicion is that he really doesn’t care enough to work out whether there is a line to be crossed somewhere, let alone where it should be drawn. .

    • says

      Possibly, I don’t know.

      That isn’t relevant here. But as reported to me, his reasoning is that for any act x if he can’t imagine any harm is done by x, then there is nothing ever wrong with doing x. Which would make sense if you had enough empathy to understand the difference between harm to yourself and harm to others, and enough wisdom to understand the difference between immediate proximate harm and the harm caused to a social system in which x is allowed, and between actual harm and risk.

      Letting someone spy on you (like a government, or an individual, the difference is irrelevant) creates a potential for abuse of power which is a grave risk, and that is a substantial harm, even if in individual cases nothing bad happens. Just like shooting a gun in a crowded room. “But I didn’t hit anybody” is not a valid claim that there was no harm in doing it. And that’s even before we get to the basic consequences of empathy: caring about how people feel about being spied on. And before we get to the consequences of how that affects their freedom to discuss things. There is a reason, for example, that we don’t allow lawyers and therapists and spouses to testify to certain conversations, for example, and a reason companies and institutions have confidential meetings: so they can feel free to have frank conversations with their patients/spouses/clients/colleagues–and the destroying of that freedom is a substantial harm.

      Possibly Thunderf00t just isn’t intelligent enough to understand this. But it seems to me, if he had empathy for other people, he wouldn’t have to. That empathy would have stopped him right from the start, as something inconsiderate and disrespectful to other human beings.

  21. says

    I’m having a really hard time getting my head around this.

    Thunderf00t’s videos were some of the first that I found on youtube, even before I was an atheist, when I was just a formerly sheltered, homeschooled fundamentalist hearing the truth about evolution for the first time, and absolutely fascinated by science. I wouldn’t say that his videos led me to atheism (except in the sense that learning the truth about science generally and evolution specifically largely contributed, and his videos taught me a lot), but they did teach me a lot about evolution, the scientific process, critical thinking, making rational arguments and the rules of logic.

    So I considered him a sort of mentor, in a way, definitely a teacher, about far more than just science: he helped teach me how to think logically and critically examine evidence, which I had learned exactly nothing about growing up (except maybe to do the opposite). Therefore, I know he is totally capable of critical thinking, of analyzing information. In fact, when first stepping out of fundamentalism, I learned to have a high regard for evidence, logic, and truth from him.

    All that to say, I just don’t know how to reconcile that Thunderf00t with this. I truly cannot understand why he is behaving this way. It makes no sense for anyone to be so, well, lacking in empathy and integrity (unless he really is a sociopath), but it makes even less sense for someone to so publicly, and proudly, act entirely opposed to his previously stated values, with no understandable justification. I almost have to believe it’s a type of performance art or social experiment, and he’s going to come out with a “Gotcha! Fooled you!” video any day now,

    It makes no sense. And it’s sad. Really, really sad.

    • Cyranothe2nd, ladyporn afficianado says

      EEB–

      I’m having a really hard time getting my head around this.

      I’ve seen a lot of people do this (in and outside of movement atheism). Some people have a lot of privilege and, when asked to examine it or even care about people that don’t, they retreat into an irrational little bubble. That’s what’s happened. I’m sure if you engaged Phil on creationism, he’d be perfectly rational. But ask him to talk about race or feminism or anything that challenges his privilege directly and he will become just as close-minded and irrational as any creationist. In a way its sad that they (we–I think we all have this kneejerk reaction at first) will overthrow their own ethics and ideals to defend their privilege. But on the other, its all too common. (I know this because I used to be one of those privilege-denying, victim-blaming jerks. I remember my own thought processes at the time perfectly well. It was quite easy to retreat into a echo chamber of my own making, to create strawpeople and to rabidly defend myself against any accusation of racism or sexism…and what’s more, to treat those accusations as just as bad as actually being sexist or racist. I remember all this well because this was me at one time.)

  22. Lofty says

    Thunderfool, chief bullfrog of the dog’s water bowl. Pathetic and annoying but ultimatetly a trivial individual.

    • sleeper says

      Yeah you wish Lofty. Stay in your cocoon and you can believe whatever your heart desires.

      As of this moment Richard, it is 5153 upvotes to 321 down.

      I think your proposition has not convinced anyone(except for the choir of course). This is indicative of the problem that exists with the whole A+ movement… changing direction and focus is almost antithetical to atheism a a basic level.

      And please note that the great majority of these people strive to live the lives of critical thinkers. Most are stymied with this movement and would use this cliche to make their point ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’!

  23. says

    Indeed, well written. I’ll bookmark this for lobbing at the next thunderf99t acolyte that shows up.

    From the “About…” column:

    His avid fans span the world from Hong Kong…

    Heh, that will be me. :D

  24. kraut says

    So many words to describe an arsehole of astonishing caliber. One could footfuck him with gumboots on and still have space for a second pair.

    • says

      Because his reputation matters. We should not allow the world to be consequence free. This is not some random anonymous dude. This is not a rebel hiding in an oppressive state. This is not a whistleblower. This is a named scientist. That’s public knowledge. He can no longer hide that fact, or from the consequences of what he says. And you shouldn’t want him to.

    • Sili says

      According to t’Foot he doesn’t mind his name being used. He has nothing to hide, and isn’t worried about privacy.

      Why is this an issue to you?

    • says

      Just FYI, I have been told TF did winge a bit about the exposure of his name at some point a long while ago. I did not confirm that, however, so I can’t vouch for whether it’s true.

  25. says

    Dear Richard Carrier,
    This was not a wise move. Thunderfoot did quite an objective analysis on your tactics and past.
    He had your speeches and posts on the screen for all to see. Atheism+ is being rejected my many leading atheist proponents on youtube for a reason. Thunderfoot helped to clarify that reason. This was your one chance to make us all think you were on the level. But you aren’t. You just played the victim card and made paranoid rants. “Sociopath” are you kidding? That’s great ammunition against you.

    A wiser idea would be to retract, apologize and claim you have changed your mind about your tactics.
    However since you won’t, all of us ATHEISTS, which you call “douchery” and “atheist LESS” who don’t need your dishonest, brittle, non-negotiable cult-like atheist club, to fight for social change; will sit back and await your dissection as soon as thunderfoot gets word of this.

    You come off no more logical or intelligent in your response than Venomfangx did in his prior ones. Yes, that is the company you keep. I care about the truth and was greatly disappointed to see what you truly stand for, with your OWN WORDS, in thunderfoots video. I care not that this comment will be deleted because you are too weak to face valid arguments against your claims. You have given Thunderfoot even more ammunition to work with. Atheism+ is harmful to atheism and it cuts at its two greatest strengths. Diversity of opinion and freedom of speech to engage in meaningful debate of important issues.

    Here comes the boom.

    • says

      Thunderfoot did quite an objective analysis on your tactics and past.

      Not even remotely.

      Clearly. Since you couldn’t provide a single rebuttal to any of the reams of evidence in this article proving otherwise.

      That says all anyone here needs to know.

    • says

      Funny he mentions venomfangx, one of the primary reasons for Thunderf00ts fame is his ridiculing a mentally ill teenage creationist. Good credentials there…

    • Cyranothe2nd, ladyporn afficianado says

      Here comes the boom.

      OH NO, THUNDERF00T MIGHT MAKE A VIDEO. ABANDON SHIIIIIIIIP!

    • GrzeTor says

      That’s a nice check if something is a secular product or an ideological dogma. If a secular product has some flaws indicated by others, then a next version (version 2, version 3, version 4…) is produced that eliminates or mitigates these flaws.

      If a dogma is shown to have flaws, then it typically ends with personal attacks on infidels, lot’s of verbal advocacy etc., but the dogma doesn’t get improved under stress.

    • says

      “That’s a nice check if something is a secular product or an ideological dogma. If a secular product has some flaws indicated by others, then a next version (version 2, version 3, version 4…) is produced that eliminates or mitigates these flaws.”

      Only, Atheism+ hasn’t exactly been receptive to indicated flaws. Every issue non-A+er’s have brought up with A+er’s (included—especially—Richard) have been met with brash and arrogant dismissal accompanied by mostly unconvincing arguments, and, indeed, sometime no arguments at all.

      So much of what is relevant to A+ is subjective, yet nobody in A+ seems willing to debate where the lines are drawn on matters such as “What is classed as sexual harassment”. Instead, we are met with, “So you’re for sexual harassment????”

    • says

      That’s a lie. I have revised my position several times in light of reasonable criticism and I have had numerous reasonable discussions with people in comments on my articles on A+ about the difficulty of drawing boundaries and lines and where and when it’s okay and not, and even mention in the very article you are commenting on a specific revision I made in light of those conversations.

      So, nice try attempting to rewrite history to suit your bogus narrative. But we have to call bullshit here. I suspect you are engaging in yet another false equivalence, regarding asshole and trolling comments as the same as reasonable questions and criticism, and ignoring how we respond to the latter, and pretending how we respond to the former is how we respond to the latter. You should be ashamed of that. It is dishonest. Plain and simple.

    • says

      You should be ashamed of that. It is dishonest. Plain and simple.

      Well, I’ll be honest, Richard, my comment was tainted by my own experience with A+er’s (and you), which has been far from agreeable, and mostly not receptive to disagreement on the views said A+er’s hold. You yourself, Richard, refused to engage me on any point of Atheism+ that was not specifically in your video. Is that productive? Does that help the progression of Atheism+? The most infuriating part about that exchange was that, after beating me down to the narrowest field of discussion (legitimate reasons to downvote your video), you dismissed the comment without so much as an attempt to refute my reasons. So, even when engage you on your own terms, you fail to respond adequately.

      I suspect you are engaging in yet another false equivalence, regarding asshole and trolling comments as the same as reasonable questions and criticism, and ignoring how we respond to the latter

      I can only assume, then, that you regard me as a troll. Your refusal to satisfactorily respond to most of my points (you’ll note I have, a on a few occasions where you had a point, ceded said point to you), and the frequent name-calling that, at times, bordered on childish, and, in any case, was not in the spirit of any kind of reasonable discussion, can only be explained by the fact that you think I’m a troll, and not deserving of a reasonable response.

      If that is the case, Richard, just kick me from the forum. I did not come here to stir up trouble, or to harass you personally, I came here because I had objections to Atheism+, and if my objections are going to be disregarded without consideration, there’s no further reason to be here.

    • says

      Your irrational behavior has by now become clear to all in this thread.

      Whether you are a troll or not (that’s a question of how sincere and/or delusional you are), you are clearly neither reasonable nor actually interested in the facts concerning anything.

      That has been demonstrated in the thread here. So I needn’t just assert it.

    • says

      Your irrational behavior has by now become clear to all in this thread.

      Whether you are a troll or not (that’s a question of how sincere and/or delusional you are), you are clearly neither reasonable nor actually interested in the facts concerning anything.

      That has been demonstrated in the thread here. So I needn’t just assert it.

      Okay Richard, I’m done.

      Telling me I’m not interested in facts (while ignoring facts which you yourself got wrong (forking repos, before you ask)) does not constitute an adequate response to a post that asked questions of you. It does, however, show an unwillingness to fight your corner when the fight is not going well, just as it was in the Atheism Plus… What? post, when you dismissed a thousand or so words of reasoning why downvoting your video could be legitimate, with a pointless statement declaring that I still presented no valid reasons, accompanied by not a shred of evidence. Of course, you later scold somebody else for dismissing your video without explaining why, but, of course, same standards, right?

      Your movement may be good for society, it may not, but one things for certain; if you keep responding to criticism in this manner, you’ll never get beyond the six hundred or so who found your video worth an upvote.

  26. =8)-DX says

    Interesting google statistics. Oh, look what happens when you compare more people at once… Who has the biggest e-peen NOW!
    And what about ?
    Just goes to show the limited relevance of a search term trends graph. But then This is the guy who thought a poll of his fanbase asking “Amiright? Or the other dude?” was an unbiased scientific experiment that somehow proved him right because his fanbase was of course full of clever people.

  27. Steersman says

    Richard Carrier said:

    What he then essentially says at this point (timestamp 16:01) is “fuck the minorities, only white people count because there are more of us.”

    Really would seriously like to know how you got that out of his “cartoony representation of America” – the population distribution graphs of America (@ 16:05) – and his subsequent argument that you would be appealing to a “minority of a minority”. Assuming for the moment, as rough approximations, that the religious are some 80% of the population with atheists/agnostics at 20%, as well as that “minorities” are 30% of the population, then that would mean that “minority atheists” are, to a first approximation, some 6% of the population but still 30% of all atheists so that it would be quite true that they are, as Thunderfoot argued, still a “minority of a minority”.

    Although I might argue that he was maybe more dismissive of them than justified in trying to suggest that the focus of your efforts should be towards the 80% – 30% of whom are presumably “minorities” – who are “religious”. For one thing, one might argue that the cost of “recruiting” a minority-religious person is likely to be higher than that for a minority-atheist, although that might be moot as there are fewer of them. However, for you to argue that “what he then says at this point is ‘fuck the minorities” looks rather intellectually dishonest at best, and bordering on rank demagoguery at worst.

    • says

      for you to argue that “what he then says at this point is ‘fuck the minorities” looks rather intellectually dishonest at best, and bordering on rank demagoguery at worst.

      Not really. He specifically argues we should not spend any effort to help or evangelize minorities at all, that we should not care about them or their interests or needs. He even edited the clip of my video to pile in even more the appearance of my wanting to do all sorts of nice things for minorities, so he was even going out of his way to create a bigger straw man version of caring about minorities. And remember, he is responding to my video, and thus the real context here is his rejecting and denouncing everything I actually said about minorities in the video and their importance to the movement.

      This is one giant fuck you to atheist minorities. There is no other way to paint it.

      Maybe if he qualified himself and said I made some valid points, like that we should care about our fellow atheists in the minority community and want to fellowship with them, and that he only objected to spending resources evangelizing them to atheism, then one could say he wasn’t saying “fuck the minorities” but just illogically using innumeracy to defend the more mildly racist request that we only care about recruiting whites. But that’s not what he did. In his one argument he shit all over everything I said about minorities, without qualification.

      Although even if he added any such qualifications, his argument would still be embarrassingly bad: bad as to his reputation for being a critical thinker who should know how math works, and know something about demography and current events, and bad as to its milder but still latent racism in wanting to focus solely on maintaining the whiteness of American atheism (and using pseudomath to promote that aim).

  28. oopsforgotthename says

    I enjoyed the take-down but I’m torn over the title and its repetition throughout the post (insignificant as it may seem). I *realize* you weren’t trying to (and can’t) actually diagnose him and “sociopathy” being obsolete as a term in psychiatry, as far as I know, could mean that it can be adopted in lay discourse with no explicit reference to the actual disorders but I’m not sure if it was necessary, in the first place. After all, you mentioned his behavior and views and commented on them in many other ways.

    • says

      My concern is genuine: he appears to have no empathy for other human beings, and defines all his sense of morality wholly narcissistically. This genuinely worries me, and it should worry other people. And that matters.

      Just as in the case of someone who shows symptoms of depression and suicidal thinking: we do not have to be psychologists to see those symptoms and be concerned and do something specifically to prevent a possible suicide or help them, even if we can’t be sure there was a real problem or a real risk. So, too: if there is evidence mounting that someone with a significant following in the atheist movement is showing symptoms of sociopathy, we do not have to be psychologists to see those symptoms and be concerned and warn others to watch out for this, and take it into account as a possible concern when analyzing what he says and does, even if we can’t be sure there is a real problem or a real risk. It also goes to add to the case that people should not trust him. And it helps people predict his future behavior. For example, sociopaths have a highly suppressed fear response, and therefore cannot be motivated by fear–not even fear of prosecution or loss of reputation or friends or anything–they are motivated by irritation and frustration and the anticipation of irritation and frustration and its avoidance–which can change how you interact with him, and how he might interact with you.

      If you want to be better informed about the symptoms of sociopathy and its risks and consequences, start with Martha Stout’s The Sociopath Next Door, which is specifically about psychopaths you are likely to interact with (i.e. not career criminals/serial killers but everyday people) and why it’s important for laypeople like yourself to be able to identify and understand them, and how to do that. Psychopaths rarely admit their condition or care about mediating it, but in the very unlikely chance Thunderf00t is concerned about it, there is actually a medical book for psychopaths to diagnose themselves (and for other laymen to diagnose them) and then take steps to mitigate the behaviors it produces and thus get along better in society: Ronald Schouten and James Silver, Almost a Psychopath: Do I (or Does Someone I Know) Have a Problem with Manipulation and Lack of Empathy?. For laymen, that makes a good supplement to Stout.

  29. says

    It’s interesting that the “random Muslim guy” who pops up is DawahFilms, the fellow who dropped Thunderf00t’s docs and who he clearly hasn’t forgiven for invading his privacy…possible double standard…?

  30. Illusio says

    “You decide. Watch my video. Compare it to his. And vote up the one you think is actually doing something good for the atheist movement.”

    Sure, I already downvoted your talk. At present, about 25% of voters are on your side. Frankly, I find this blog entry as offensive as your talk. Do you seriously think anyone will take you seriously as “an advocate for critical thinking and reason” when you use such cheap debating tactics as suggesting that your opponents are railing against compassion? And in this article you even go to the extent of calling them racists? Seriously. Grow up.

    You are also a complete fool when doing marketing analysis, as TF conclusively demonstrated in his video with the ratio between believers and atheists. Only a person with infinite resources would waste resources targeting “black atheists” when they could target “atheists without restricting it by race” or even addressing “theists” or the entire population. You are the one employing racist logic here Carrier, not TF. TF argues that we should continue to communicate by addressing theists in general. I have no idea why you think this implies that we’re talking to white people, and I’m entirely confident that no other sane people do either. And to compare it to the state of the Republican party is laughable. They have problems because the minorities are the majority, but in our case there is a well defined theist majority as TF showed you and it is the very fact that they are a majority that is the entire problem. When they are not, we have no more battles to fight and atheist activism is completely irrelevant – as it is in northern Europe today.

    Frankly, I don’t believe that anyone could honestly misunderstand TF like you do. As far as I’m concerned, you’re just making racist slurs to slander the opposition because you have no real arguments and need to protect your pride. Have fun taking on your White Man’s Burden to educate the ignorant Niggers, Beaners and Gooks that you apparently believe are too stupid to understand they’re being addressed by generic arguments that don’t specifically mention their skin color.

    • says

      Thanks for showing everyone here that some people don’t understand basic math or logic and those people actually fall for Thunderf00t’s fallacious math and logic.

      My article already refutes you, so I hardly need comment further.

    • says

      And to compare it to the state of the Republican party is laughable. They have problems because the minorities are the majority

      I mean… that’s not even close to true. Do you care about the truth of your statements before you make them, or is it kind of just a “United States of Whatever” kind of thing?

      As far as I’m concerned, you’re just making racist slurs to slander the opposition because you have no real arguments and need to protect your pride. Have fun taking on your White Man’s Burden to educate the ignorant Niggers, Beaners and Gooks that you apparently believe are too stupid to understand they’re being addressed by generic arguments that don’t specifically mention their skin color.

      Leaving the obvious problems (and supermassive black hole-levels of irony) with this comment to one side, it’s perhaps worth noting that if you ask prominent atheists from ethnic minority groups for their recommendations on outreach, you’ll find they are far closer to Dr. Carrier’s position than they are to yours. Ignoring race is not, in fact, a path away from racism. This isn’t even new information – people have been saying this for years. It’s just that you (and I guess TF as well) haven’t bothered to listen before opining. Which, in the context of the rest of what you’ve written here, appears to be your primary m.o.

    • says

      Only a person with infinite resources would waste resources targeting “black atheists”…

      WTF?! Since when did it take “infinite resources” to talk to black people? It’s not like they all live on Pluto.

      … when they could target “atheists without restricting it by race”…

      Excuse me while I belabor the obvious: to the extent that different minorities live in different places, most efforts to talk to a particular minority will, inevitably, be efforts “restricted by race.” What do you expect atheists to do — shoot pamphlets and spam emails in all directions without observing (or caring) who is where?

      What a stupid set of objections. Is this level of bogosity determined by DNA?

    • Cyranothe2nd, ladyporn afficianado says

      Its nice to know that you consider targeting people of color a “waste [of] resources.” Also that you fail to understand that colorblindness (what you call “without restricting it by race”) is just a a maintenance of the status quo, since it denies that the experiences of people of color are overall radically difference than those of white people because of racism. To ignore race is to buy into racist ideology, because it pretends that racism doesn’t exist and that the challenges that people of color face have nothing to do with color.

      Have fun taking on your White Man’s Burden to educate the ignorant Niggers, Beaners and Gooks that you apparently believe are too stupid to understand they’re being addressed by generic arguments that don’t specifically mention their skin color.

      So, not only are you okay with using racist language in order to score internet points, but you also fail to understand that people of color within our movement are saying that a “One Size Fits All” approach does not work. Maybe instead of defending Tf00t you might, you know, listen to them.

    • says

      You know what companies are curently paying serious money for?

      Your personal data. Because they figured out that putting a lot of money into “one size fits all” meassures isn’t that particularly effective. They want to know you and target their adds specifically. That’s why I’m seeing different google adds than you do.

      There is no “general public” to address your efforts to. There are different groups with different problems and they can be adressed by different outreaches.

      Unless, of course, you define the “general public” as “straight white dudes”, tailor your PR to them and then feel superior because those stoopid to do that atheism thingy (it’s about who wants to be intellectually active about it).

  31. grumpyoldfart says

    Thanks very much for that detailed post. I would have completely missed a lot of Thunderf00t’s little tricks if you hadn’t pointed them out. Thanks again.

  32. Goldstein Squad Member says

    That post indicated that you are obsessed, Dick.

    But I do love the smell of atheists bashing each other in the morning!

  33. B-Lar says

    Also,

    “I’m Joan of Arc for making penis jokes – you’re a sexist for repeating them

    … looks like a slymeball-bastardisation of the Adria Richards situation to me.

  34. thumper1990 says

    Clearly working as a scientist does not necessarily give you the ability to think like one. Thunderf00t really does appear to be as big of a douche as people say he is. Ugh.

    Great, and exceptionally thorough, analysis btw Richard.

    The Joan of Arc meme, by the way, is in reference to Adria Richards; who made an admittedly (on the face of it) silly comparison between herself and Joan of Arc after the whole Pycon debacle, which for some reason has the MRA contingent frothing at the mouth with rage.

    • robotczar says

      Sorry, but Dr. Carrier is not a scientist, nor is he working as one. He is a historian. The proper label is scholar. He does use the values of a scientist in looking for evidence in the historical record, which is admirable. Use of logic (or other math) can be done by those in the humanities, like philosophers, but that use does not make one a scientist.

      Let me also say, that Dr. Carrier makes solid arguments in the area in which he has a great deal of knowledge (ancient history), but when arguing in domains where he has little or no expertise, his arguments loose weight as his premises are more often false. I’m afraid that liberal ideology is one of those areas in which his views should carry no special weight.

  35. garnetstar says

    The answer is looking like yes, Thunderf00t truly is a sociopath. Most of them are not violent or overtly criminal.

    I knew a brilliant scientist, a tenured professor, who is one. He is completely lacking in empathy or in any understanding that others have rights. He shows all the other traits: lying, cheating, dishonesty, thievery, temper tantrums and intense anger whenever his will is crossed, complete disdain for the rights of others, using others solely to further his own ends. But all that is hidden in his professional life: he conducts that as any other scientist would. You would never know, meeting him professionally, that’s he’s got a personality disorder.

    Sounds very like the sort of behavior Thunderf00t is displaying.

  36. says

    Here’s the truth — atheism is short on minorities.

    The fact is, both blacks and Hispanics are very religious in America.

    Part of this is because those two minorities are over-represented in the prison population and in bad neighborhoods, with religious ministries “coming to the rescue” with their messages. Very few non-theist NGOs operate in prisons.

    There’s also the fact that atheists have a higher level of education than theists, but the educational infrastructure is lacking in minority-heavy areas. It costs more money to build a school and fill it with good teachers than it does to tolerate another faith-for-brains clubhouse being built. I sometimes wonder if this is the reason the faith-sters continue to cut budgets of schools in those areas — gives their religion an upper hand. Keep ‘em dumb and hold yourself out as the only solution.

    Thunderf00t’s e-begging makes me wonder: Has Thunderf00t ever paid taxes on that income? If he is getting tens of thousands of dollars into his Paypal he is legally required to report it and pay taxes on it. The fact is, thunderf00t would not be able to conduct research without tax dollars (PZ, you know this one doubly well), plus thunderf00t has access to our educated workforce, roads, electrical grid and police. Yet thunderf00t thinks it is nobody’s business how much he gets or what he spends it on, or even if he is obeying the law.

    Thunderf00t keeps holding up TJ The Amazing Atheist as someone who could “lead the community” of atheists online. ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME? Allow me to list the reasons I personally despise TJ:

    1. TJ repeatedly e-begs for money since he has no job and never will.
    2. TJ is a high school dropout. Remember how Thunderf00t went after Dan Brown (pogobat) for being a college dropout (remember “my schooling was interfering with my education?”). Well TJ is worse than pogobat but since TJ spews the same MRA/anti-feminist b.s., thunderf00t tolerates it.
    3. (related point) Thunderf00t holds up TJ’s supposed excellent handling of the Bananagate incident. Yeah, TJ doesn’t have to worry about future employers seeing it since TJ will never have a future employer. Way to miss the forest for the trees, thunderf00t.

    4. TJ threatened a rape victim with more rape. If the MRAs truly want to draw people to them maybe it is a good idea not to alienate outsiders by holding up people like that. Outsiders see that behavior and think, “if being MRA means I will turn into this kind of a person, then screw that.”

    Lastly, PZ and Richard, this one’s for you: Have you researched the possibility that thunderf00t’s unauthorized access and publication of FTB’s emails is a criminal act? Under the Stored Communications Act, not even a police officer could do what thunderf00t did without a warrant. If a cop couldn’t do it, neither can thunderf00t. Perhaps thunderf00t should be taken to court and face a judge over this possibly federal crime to teach him and his pathetic thunderdr0nes a lesson.

    Stored Communications Act Penalties (yes this is a felony): http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/2701

    • says

      As far as I understand it, Thunderf00t is not in the U.S. and seems to be internationally itinerant. I don’t know if he even has an employment anywhere. I doubt he makes very much money through his online media (maybe enough to live on, but almost certainly not enough to make him rich, but I’m just estimating from what I know of online income streams).

      On criminality, there are too many vagueries in the law, so it’s a byzantine question whether any loopholes would get him off the hook; and most law enforcement agencies don’t waste resources chasing down small-time hacks like that. His being out of the country only makes the law more ambiguous and prosecution less likely. But I discuss the ins and outs as far as I could suss them on this matter in my discussion here (with follow-up here). But thanks for that statute cite.

      As to TJ, let me just note that I see nothing wrong with his asking for money to support his work. Even if I wouldn’t support his work, he has a right to ask people to, and if enough want to, that’s their right. Even if one should argue his work shouldn’t be supported, that’s not the same thing as arguing he shouldn’t be allowed to or that people in general shouldn’t pursue that kind of business model.

      Also, please in future document claims you make that could be slanderous, such as that “TJ threatened a rape victim with more rape.” I’m not doubting or vouching for that claim. I just believe it’s important that one back a claim like that up, since it is especially serious.

    • says

      Thunderf00t teaches chemistry at Columbia, but I beleive he is currently on sabbatical. As for TJ, Martin Magner and PZ wrote about it when it happened. No time to look it up now, I’m at work.

    • Jrod says

      A decent rundown of TJ Kincaid’s Reddit meltdown, during which he wrote some incredibly hideous things to a rape victim, can be found here at Manboobz

      It should go without saying, but severe trigger warning for that link.

  37. snowman says

    1 billion words to say so little. God you are a bad writer. Great moralistic preaching though, you’re better than any righteous Christian.

    >>Why would Thunderf00t think this is an appropriate way for an atheist to argue? An atheist who claims to champion critical thinking, yet uses the very tactics of creationists to avoid even telling his readers what his opponent says and to instead misrepresent his opponent’s argument even to the point of engaging in outright deception?

    But you constantly do this yourself, Richard. ???

    • says

      Right. Actually a billion words. And so little said. And full of creationist tactics.

      Oh, wait. No. What am I thinking? Your remarks are all dishonest, hyperbolic bullshit. Never mind.

      [Note to my readers: snowman is either a sock puppet for Thunderf00t or a Thunderf00t acolyte: see, for example, here.]

  38. lutzifer says

    I used to be subscribed to TF for a long time and was already getting uncomfortable when he started the whole muslim bashing (because somebody said something in response to him that could be construed as a death threat). In defence to his antics there, he already showed a lot of dishonesty, quote-mining etc. to make me unsubscribe, but i didnt. When he came over to FTB i was actually hopeful that he might learn a thing or two here and change his stance on some things. Instead he imploded (you all know the story…), which made me show more attention to his output before unsubscribing and trying to ignore his idiocy completely.

    As much as i share your views on TF, I think sociopath isn’t a good label for several reasons. First, it is scientifically problematic, but i wont go into that here. Secondly a sociopath wouldnt go to the lengths of making egobolstering and selfserving video after video on the youtubes. A narcissist would. Also, labeling somebody with a term like that seems awfully near to ad hominem, or at least somewhat of a dishonest / problematic representation, as that label carries a lot of baggage. So, i d stick with narcissist, as it includes missing empathy, explains his reactions (narcissistic hurt often leads to spectacularly failing and falling out with their peers etc.) and also his need to project on the youtubes / his need to win arguments to cater to his ego.

    But thats all just nitpicking of a psychologist. Thank you very much for the breakdown of his video, so i dont have to watch his stupidity myself :D

    • says

      Secondly a sociopath wouldnt go to the lengths of making egobolstering and selfserving video after video on the youtubes. A narcissist would.

      As far as I’ve read, sociopaths will do that, too (they can gravitate toward roles where they accumulate adoring fans or employees and engage in deceitful ego defenses and self-gratification pursuits) and (b) narcissism is a variety of sociopathy (i.e. narcissism is simply sociopathy plus some additional symptoms, in the same way antisocial personality disorder is sociopathy plus a different set of additional symptoms).

      But you’re right, clinically, Thunderf00t’s behavior fits narcissism even better. It’s just that people misuse that word and don’t understand its clinical definition. To call him a narcissist would widely be mistaken for calling him someone obsessed with himself, which may be true, but is not the scary thing about him that I think needs documenting and communicating to the public. Lots of people are highly egotistical and self-obsessed yet still can empathize with other human beings (and still have a fear/shame/remorse affect). I realize the clinical definition of narcissism is different from how the public uses the word. But that’s my point.

    • lutzifer says

      I can see your point about the colloquial use of the word. And since you posed the title of your blog post as a question, it fits either way. I.e. it makes the emphasis on his inability to show empathy much clearer than arguing for narcissism. So forget my nitpicking ;)

  39. says

    Thunderf00t Against Privacy Rights

    This is very telling about a guy who was not at all amused about somebody doxxing him as Phil Mason*. And who got royally pissed off when some idiots photoshopped his head on nekkid bodies, and who then had no scruples to send his fans after Coughlan, who didn’t have anything to do with it but who had a conflict with him.
    So, apparently it’s just other people’s privacy, I guess.
    +++
    Also, if believing that women are people with equal rights and dignity is dogma, I am happily dogmatic.
    If caring about our fellow human beings is fanaticism, I’m a proud fanatic.
    And if I cared about numbers and majorities instead of good and right, I’d join the catholic church. They can’t be any more misogynistic than TF and friends and the houses are nicer.
    +++
    Also people are already complaining about “bashing Thunderfoot”, apparently by criticising what he said with references. And since he gets money from his videos, I guess that makes him a professional victim

    *Well, by now he probably should be concerned. Because a future employer might not want to hire somebody with those views about women and harassment for a position where he might be in charge of women and handling complaints about harassment. The “boys will be boys” world gets smaller. And I actually have compassion for the innocent boys who are grown up believing they can still get away with it.

    • says

      I agree that’s a concern: how someone can employ a man, who publicly denies any behavior is harassment and claims that harassment is routinely deserved and even advocates allowing harassment to occur, in a workplace that has policies against harassment, is a good question.

      An even better question is why he would think it’s okay for him to conceal his beliefs about this from his employer (while simultaneously preaching those beliefs publicly), since it is surely understood (if not in fact part of an actual signed employment contract or agreement) that their employee would not endorse or engage in harassment. Thus, concealing these beliefs from his employer would be deceitful. I suspect Thunderf00t would bring up the false analogy here that he would deem it appropriate to conceal his atheism from his employer, because it’s none of his employer’s business and it would be unjust for him to be punished or terminated by his employer for being an atheist. But it is precisely here that his narcissism and sociopathy would enter in: he would see these as equivalent (just look at all his false equivalencies I documented in this latest video), whereas the rest of the world would see there is a huge and obvious difference.

      But that’s all speculation. I’m not aware of him even having an employer. Much less an employer with an anti-harassment policy.

  40. says

    Great take down of his video, something that definitely harms atheism is ppl having to spend time destroying the terrible arguments put forth by fellow “critical thinkers” like TF.

    I almost cannot believe he used the Google trends stuff again, it was mocked in his comments section by me and even some of his supporters as being completely useless. I know he read it as he had a go at me later in his comment section, so it seemingly annoyed him :-) Stephanie Szvan also destroyed it when John Loftus used it to “show” FtB popularity was declining, presumably to prop up his SiN blog network. Anyone using it to make some daft argumentum ad populam is instantly discredited in my eyes.

    If you don’t want to watch all of Thunderf00ls vid I’d recommend @latsots’s challenge – watch 2 mins of both his and PZs talk in Seatltle and write out what is said :-) Makes for a less painful experience than watching the whole thing!
    http://lookatthestateofthat.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/compare-and-contrast.html

  41. says

    What confuses me most about Thunderf00t’s position isn’t all the quote mining, false arguments, straw men, and other tactics that I would expect him to rise above, but the very fact that he won’t let this go. It’s like an obsession. Every time he uploads a new video, just as confident as the previous no matter how debunked they have been, I cringe a little more.

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

    Thunderf00t also childishly (and unintelligibly) places over my video as I speak (timestamp 15:40) some weird meme showing a smiling black woman with the unfathomable text “I’m Joan of Arc for making penis jokes – you’re a sexist for repeating them – Dear God, PLEASE no more social justice warriors!” If you can figure out what that’s supposed to mean. The last remark there seems to be Thunderf00t’s own commentary added to the meme (although why he chose that meme I don’t know), so as far as I can tell, he seems to be saying he is against caring about social justice issues and is sick of atheists talking about caring about the world and learning more about it and doing something to make it better.

    For whatever little its worth, I think its a meant to be a reference to the Adria Richards and the whole “Donglegate” issue. In a Thunderfoot’s clip on that (not linking it here but can if you like) where TF makes much of a superbowl ad where a woman jokes about computer dongles. Think its intended to be a comment on the supposed hypocrisy of women joking about sex -ok, men not so much. Supposedly.

    You decide. Watch my video. Compare it to his. And vote up the one you think is actually doing something good for the atheist movement.

    By vote up do you mean click ‘like” for the one you prefer? Perhaps showing my ignorance here but I wasn’t aware videos on youtube were “upvoted” just that some got more views and likes than others.

    BTW. I’m watching listening to your video right now. 46 minutes is a bit long for me at this time of night though.

    • says

      No, you have to actually click the thumbs up or the thumbs down on a video on YouTube for that fact to register (you can do likewise to individual comments on the video, too). The buttons to do that (two pictures of hands with a thumb up or down) are in different places depending on how the channel is formatted (sometimes on the video frame itself while it plays, sometimes below it; but you don’t in fact have to watch the video beyond a split second to vote on it). Then below the video frame (unless this feature has been turned off) it shows three statistics: total views, total ups, and total downs. The first number is often much larger than the other two combined, since most people either don’t vote or don’t know they can. Which, of course, allows people to swarm a video with ups or downs to skew the vote (and those who know how, can vote multiple times), so it’s not a great representation of viewer response. But it’s all there presently is.

      [BTW, thanks for calling my attention to the fact that it's 45 minutes long. I thought it was 30. That means I need to change a stat in my article, which makes Thunderf00t look even more obsessed than I thought.]

  43. says

    Seconding John Morales: you’re extremely thorough.

    I know exactly whose vision of the future of atheism I want to help realize: the one in which women and minorities are welcome and respected, and doucheweasels are… not.

  44. besomyka says

    I posted one reply to his initial offering to FtB – largely dismay and a call to renounce. Once he posted the second crazy ignorant/dishonest video, I blocked him on Twitter and unsubscribed from his YouTube channel. I didn’t need to watch his mental decline personally.

    Figured if he ever got his issues sorted out that I’d hear about it from other people.

    Normally I enjoy keeping tabs on people I disagree with, politely engage when moved or ask questions, because sometimes even people I disagree with have a good point and a valid perspective. TF’s inane bleating, however, is completely useless. If he every had a good idea or perspective on an issue, I’m unwilling to sort through the pile of excrement that he generates to find it.

    I personally would never attend any event in which TF is participating in any fashion. I would seriously question attending an event in which I knew he was even just attending.

    I don’t envy you, Richard, being the direct subject of some of this, but thank you for your clarity and effort.

    • says

      Just FYI, I don’t know anything about that. If you want to provide my readers with a link discussing it or something, they might appreciate it. I’m not sure it’s actually relevant, though.

    • says

      Kinda is relevant. Almost all his early videos were take-downs of a creationist who called himself VenomFangX.

      The first couple were OK, but soon it became apparent that the kid (and he was a kid) was not “all there”. And TF’s videos began to start looking like someone picking the wings off of flies. Pointless and cruel.

      There is a very, very large mean streak in him. Whether that indicates sociopathy or just being a giant douche-nozzle, I don’t know.

      I unsubscribed from him just before he came onto FtB…so, I wasn’t expecting all that much. And he certainly failed to clear that low hurdle.

      Sadly, he feeds his geek-privileged socially awkward immature audience exactly what they want to hear. That they and they alone are “special” and “superior”.

  45. says

    Sociopathy is far from the only explanation for lack of empathy toward (certain) others, unless you are taking a psychological diagnosis and using it colloquially (which, generally, I don’t recommend). Thunderf00t’s pathology, as appalling as it is, is certainly not abnormal (I would say far more common than the 1% frequency you cite in #8.1), and does not contain the types of violent aggression, outside of online interaction, that typifies sociopathy. MAYBE dissocial personality disorder, but again that’s subject to confirmation bias on the part of those who would seek to diagnose.

    It’s far more probable that this is a simple example of hubristic pride run amok, reinforced by the claque of supporters he surrounds himself with. Social Libertarianism, which TF seems to espouse, is fundamentally anti-social (or dissocial). Combine that philosophy with the high level of self-regard he clearly has, and add a chorus of sycophants to the mix, and you’ve got a pretty decent recipe for explaining his behaviour without needing to invoke a psychopathological label, or crack the DSM.

    I think you’ve done a fairly compelling job (as I’ve come to expect from you) working through the lies, distortions, and errors in logic. I’m uncomfortable with the extension of that process into personal speculation about his mental state. He’s revealed himself to be unreliable, dishonest, and hypocritical. To my eye, that’s enough to sink him.

    • says

      Sociopathy is not typified by violent aggression. You are confusing sociopathy/psychopathy with the sub-category of antisocial personality disorder (APD). See the books I recommended upthread (for both this fact and an extensive counter-argument to your suggestion that we should not be concerned about or discuss the fact that he checks all the boxes for sociopathy). For the distinction between sociopathy and APD also see the wikipedia entry.

      Lack of empathy, lack of fear/shame/guilt/remorse, persistent deceitfulness, grandiosity, and other attributes typify sociopaths. Indeed, look at the standard criteria here and here and find anything on the list that doesn’t apply to Thunderf00t. He only doesn’t rate on the “antisocial” scale (presumably; which means he is not subject to antisocial personality disorder, but that’s not the same thing as sociopathy, but a worse condition of it) and perhaps (since I have no idea one way or the other) the psychosexual scale (promiscuity and multiple failed relationships), but those are auxiliary attributes not fundamental to diagnosis.

    • says

      It seems to me that a Thunderf00t fan could have easily produced counterexamples of his obvious empathetic behavior by now. I’m a little surprised (though there are some epistemic problems there with this argument from silence since empathetic people can be lazy and sociopaths can simulate empathetic behaviors). People do get what I call their “evil switch” flipped (think Krusty the Clown doll from the Simpsons) on a given issue and act completely contrary to their normal values to bizarre undermining degrees. I’ve seen many myopic squabbles on the internet along those lines so I’ve been waiting for someone to burst that bubble.

      Would you agree, Rick, that ideally we’d be discussing Thunderf00t’s possible sociopathy in private for the sake of our own practical safety? I can see that you’re applying a necessary and good rule of thumb, but it seems to be overlapping stylistically with the “witch hunt” circle in the Venn Diagram in the minds of several honestly concerned commenters. I knew you were going to get shit for your title the instant I read it. I don’t actually think you’ve done anything wrong here, but people are not used to it and it culturally fits other molds. You might as well do something irrational like apply math to history or question the historicity of Jesus without laying out justifications for your method first. ;) I’m not sure what discussing things privately and discreetly really means when you are dealing with a public figure with great influence (in his own sphere anyway) when the issue is his very public behavior. What other reasonable options are there? And how do we make reassure people that this isn’t going to snowball into witch-hunt mode even if those concerns are completely off?

      #RichardCarrierProblems

    • says

      One would have to define “witch hunt” to answer that question. If that’s just a synonym for shunning and denouncing a toxic or dangerous member of the community, then no community could survive that never did that. Thus, I think calling that a witch hunt would be mere rhetoric…witches don’t exist and insofar as they do, aren’t toxic or dangerous. Sociopaths and manipulative liars and harassers of women and those who defend the harassing of women are real, and are toxic and often in specific ways dangerous.

      As to the “talking behind their back” tactic, that can’t be done when the person in question is actively and publicly trying to poison an entire humanitarian movement. Information in that case must be singled out and identified and spread as widely as possible. There is no way to do that but publicly. TF is a proven liar and manipulator, at the very least. He is also a confirmed violator of human rights. People need to know that. And his cold lack of empathy is something people need to be aware of for their own good as well. They need to be applying the criteria of sociopathy now to everything he has said and done and evaluate it anew in that light.

      Indeed, this journalist provides a good summary of what to look for, and TF nails at least 8 or 9 out of 10. Wikipedia also has criteria lists from the medical literature. And see the books I recommend above.

  46. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Well, I didn’t need more proof that Tfart is useless, but thanks for this. Must have been a painful experience to have to watch this sociopathic, self-obsessed, clueless, hate mongering drivel even once – forget the number o times it must have taken for this epic destruction of it.

  47. congaboy says

    Richard:

    Love you, love your blog, love videos of your lectures and debates, I am working my way through your books. Really liked your talk “Atheism . . . Plus What?” One note of clarification; the 4th Amendment applies to governments and their agents. Mason committed, at best, a tort and at worst a criminal act by hacking into private accounts (it depends on which statutes, if any, apply). Mason is not a government employee acting in any official capacity, so he would not have been able to acquire a search warrant. The Constitution does not, per se, protect citizens from other citizens, but allows Congress to enact laws for that purpose. I’m sure this appears to be pedantic, but the distinctions are important as a matter of law.

    Keep up the great work, you rock!

    • says

      Yes, as to law, there are questions of exact wording and jurisdiction. I discuss this in the linked entries above. But morally, he just did what that amendment declares wrong. Legal semantics aside, there is no moral difference between whether a person violates our rights on their own or when holding a government office. Power is power, and abuse of power is abuse of power. What job someone has really doesn’t make any difference to the equation. That we let our laws make a difference is just testimony to a latent irrationality in our laws. Although there are actually a lot of laws on the books that Thunderf00t does seem to have broken, in my own opinion, but then I’m not a lawyer. See links above.

      However, you’re wrong in one important sense: Thunderf00t certainly can acquire a search warrant. That’s what the police exist for: for citizens to make charges and present evidence to get an authorized person to conduct a search. The search is conducted on behalf of the people, and especially the alleged victim(s) in the case. We just delegate that authority to an officer because we don’t want just any Joe Blow having that power. The fact that we delegate the power to actually conduct the search is supposed to allow us to have checks and controls against abuse of power. Which actually makes what Thunderf00t did worse, IMO: he bypassed the entire system we put in place precisely to prevent people acting like that.

    • EnlightenmentLiberal - formerly codemonkey says

      Legal semantics aside, there is no moral difference between whether a person violates our rights on their own or when holding a government office. Power is power, and abuse of power is abuse of power.

      Sorry for dredging this up, but depending on the exact meaning, I must disagree in the most emphatic terms. Some actions are wrong whether or not it’s done by an individual, a private corporation, a government, etc. However, we hold governments to a different and usually higher standard, and there are some actions that when taken by a government (or an official representative of the government) which I will call wrong, which if done by a private individual I would not call wrong.

      Admittingly, this is a rather hard topic to reason about. I think Mill writes at length on this in On Liberty on how moral majorities can abuse power just like governments. I agree that some abuse of power is abuse of power whether or not it’s the government doing it, or a large and power group of non-governmental actors doing it.

      Example: I can choose to associate with anyone for any reason. Some reasons may be morally unacceptable (ex: the person is black), and some would definitely be morally acceptable (the person is a known thief, murderer, etc.), and some may be acceptable (ex: I don’t enjoy the person’s company because of their choice of music). I would think that no one is going to bat an eye at someone turning down association because of particular interests, miscellaneous personality traits, and so on. However, if the government started discriminating in any way over my taste in music, then you bet I would be up in arms (figuratively only).

      Similarly, if a large corporation had a policy to not hire people who liked country music, I would find that distasteful and despicable. Formally not illegal in the US AFAIK, but definitely nonsensical and despicable. But again, if a friend didn’t want to hang out because I’m always playing country music, found my humor distasteful, and so on, then I’m not going to hold it against them, and I am not going to consider their behavior immoral or despicable in any way.

      I admit this is an entirely pedantic quibble unrelated to the discussion at hand. I agree with the general thrust of your point.

  48. piquedpig says

    While the way he edits his videos is annoying and I think he over-generalizes too often, infering that Tfoot is a sociopath is wildly overstating the case, imo. And I didn’t see a sense that Tfoot has no concern for non white-males atheists, I think his perspective is that atheists should still be primarily targeting the population of people who are waivering in their faith who are part of the religious mass of American society.

    I think the disagreement on that point is silly…why can’t atheist groups be more welcoming to diverse people and viewpoints internally and still reach out to those questioning their faith?

    Too much black and white thinking, over-generalizing and dismissive rhetoric on ‘both sides’ of this never-ending internet kerfuffle.

    • says

      It’s the collective lack of any single instance anywhere in the video of any empathy for any other human being that is disturbing. Not just that one instance.

      Instead, his motives are all based on his own personal outrage and desires. For example, he doesn’t actually show any empathy for white males, either. He is purely interested in changing the world to suit his own comfort (for it to be less religious, because it would make him happier, not because it would make any other specific person happier; although IMO, there may be a darker desire here: see below). That would be fine if it were also conjoined with empathy for others. The fact that it is not is what is scary–and is what this video (and so far as I know, all his videos and writings online) exemplifies from start to finish.

      But as I suggested, and worry about, his motives (to remake the world the way he wants) may be even darker. Given the way he lies about what I said, I suspect he is actually just keen on protecting his right to do whatever he wants on the internet, and he sees my empathy as a threat to that. Thus he is constructing an elaborate falsehood to try and combat my efforts to add a moral conscience to the way we do things online. His entire obsession with women and harassment (probably half his whole video; compared to a mere tenth of mine) suggests this: though he might not himself be a harasser (unless he is doing it under a sock puppet or two), he wants the right to harass people, and thus sees my empathy as a threat to that (the fact that he spends five whole minutes insisting no possible speech is ever harassment supports this).

      And if that’s the case, then it’s definitely narcissism all the way down. He doesn’t care about anyone but himself. He has merely learned how to disguise that behind platitudes and cliches that he knows will manipulate his audience the way he wants (like using the whole Hitler/Stalin/cultist memeplex, even though in doing so he proves my very point).

  49. daniellavine says

    Enelepotus Harding@4:

    Thunder nowhere denounced all feminism as Stalinism. You failed to summarize and refute his analogy on the matter at 9:37. I’m afraid I cannot support either side in this case, as both sides have made illegitimate points.

    1. In what sense is it a “outrageously dumb” notion that feminism is the thesis that women are also people? If you can’t answer that then I don’t see what there is to rebut there. An analogy in and of itself is not an argument. One must also demonstrate that the analogy is somehow salient. The use of an analogy featuring Stalin seems like an attempt to use people’s negative feelings towards Stalin to prevent them from thinking critically about Carrier’s arguments.
    2. What was the “illegitimate point” made by Carrier here? The fact that he didn’t address the point you wanted to see addressed (which seems like a waste of time to me for reasons stated in (1)) doesn’t mean that any of the points he did make are “illegitimate”.

    • says

      1. I can’t see anything particularly disreputable about feminism, either. Good rebuttal to Tfoot (which Carrier didn’t bother with on this point).

      2. Can you read the first sentence of my first comment?

  50. FG says

    I would just like to point out a small but important historical event.

    The Germans invade Greece in World War II, with relative ease they place in power a puppet government and instill their values upon the country.

    A resistance spawns to try and disrupt the gov. and fight a guerrilla war against them.

    Multiple cells begin to spring up around the country and commit various acts of rebellion/resistance to their oppressors.

    Over time, a few resistance cells start thinking – we are better than the other one, we deserve to rule this country if we succeed. The resistance then begins to crumble and little effect on the country since they are now mainly fighting each other.

    Think about that a bit when you act so high and mighty.

    • says

      I don’t fathom your point. Is this a just ham-fisted attempt to make the ridiculous claim that exercises of free speech attempting to persuade people to make their world and their community better always end up in jackbooted fascist militarism? Because if so, that’s as dumb as a bag of hammers; and if not, then I have no idea what your point is.

    • DrVanNostrand says

      I think he’s making a different, but still ridiculous, argument: Atheists should unite against the REAL enemy of religion and you’re just fracturing the movement, which will undermine the goal of crushing religion. There are several reasons why this is a silly argument.

      1. Feminism, social justice, etc… may actually be more important than crushing religion to some atheists (like me). I can find far more common ground with liberal Christians than, say, Ayn Rand-styled objectivist atheists. Why should I place his concerns and goals ahead of my own?

      2. I don’t think a military war is a very good analogy to the world of ideas. When the rebels in Greece fought amongst themselves, they *killed* each other and wasted scarce and precious resources on that fight. Bloggers, blog posts, even conference talks are not particularly scarce resources. Devoting a small amount of time to discussing and debating what values atheists might be able to share (apart from “no god/s”) is hardly a catastrophic fracturing of the movement.

      3. I’m not sure what value atheism has at all if atheists reject the call for compassion, empathy, honesty, etc…

      4. In the long run, atheism has no future if it doesn’t reach out to a more diverse audience. White men won’t cut it. It’s funny that Tfoot talks about how we should ignore minorities, while he ignores the harassment and misogyny in the atheist community directed at a group that makes up the majority of Americans: women. (His point about ignoring minorities is also stupid.)

    • says

      There are several reasons why this is a silly argument…

      …in addition to all the reasons I gave in my talk, which TF also completely ignores in his response to it.

      :-)

  51. daniellavine says

    Enelepotus Harding@4:

    My mistake (and yours), Carrier actually did directly address the analogy in question:

    BTW, just to complete the trifecta I listed in my talk, not only does he himself call me a cultist and compare me with Hitler, he concludes by equating me to Stalin (timestamp 9:35). Thus exemplifying the very thing I spoke about in my talk. And he doesn’t even get the irony. In fact here he essentially says a statement like “we should stand up for compassion and honesty and reasonableness and denounce those who openly repudiate those values” is an “outrageously dumb claim.” Take a moment to think about that. Then think about what this means here: he has no conception of the difference between my advocacy of nothing more than exercises of free speech and personal liberty, and what actually made Stalin and Hitler bad…which was not their words, and certainly not their blog moderation policies.

    He points out that the analogy is inapt because what actually made Stalin bad was not the language he used or is blog moderation policies which are Mason’s justifications for the comparison. If you don’t think that addresses the analogy you’re going to have to explain why.

    • says

      You’re right! I didn’t notice that part of Carrier’s post (either that, or I didn’t appreciate its context). Thanks to this comment, I am more pleased with Carrier than I was yesterday. I still say “Thunder nowhere denounced all feminism as Stalinism”.

  52. Jason Goertzen says

    I don’t know if I’ll ever get over the irony of Thunderfoot–who got (internet) famous exposing the logical fallacies of Christians who are backed into intellectual corners–going off on utterly incomprehensible, illogical rants once once of his own intellectually bankrupt positions is exposed.

    I think he’s so incapable of admitting he’s wrong that he’ll resort to anything to try to appear right… what I can’t decide is if he believes this bullshit, or is happily lying. Pretty much the same question I have about William Lane Craig–so the irony is truly spectacular.

  53. kevinsolway says

    Publicly diagnosing people with mental illnesses are we?

    Clearly you’ve chosen not to take the moral high ground!

    Just don’t play the victim when someone does the same thing to you in the future.

    I believe Jesus once said “You reap what you sow”.

    • says

      This is what Kevin Solway believes…discussing PZ on “atheisttoday.com”

      “Most of the people who are critical are critical of his methods not his goals anyways.”

      I must strongly disagree with that. People disagree with his goals as well, since his goals are not independent of his methods.

      His *stated* goals might sound reasonable, but his *real* goals, as evidenced by his actual behaviour, are bullshit.

      His goal isn’t truth, but rather it is about promoting his deluded view of the world, such as his warped version of feminism.

      I am NOT Kevin Solway. He is a garden variety slyme.

  54. says

    White people cannot, by definition, ever be a minority, and will not ever be a minority. All that white is, and all it really means, is the racial construct of privilege: a mutable, shifting umbrella of ethnicities that are privileged under current racial paradigms.

    What we CURRENTLY define as, say, “hispanic” may indeed displace the majority status of what we CURRENTLY define as “white” in a few decades, but BOTH definitions will be inevitably shifted, just like “irish”, “jewish”, “eastern european” and “itlaian” were folded into “white”. More privileged or assimilated or assimilatable ethnic sub-groups within the “hispanic” construct (like light-skinned or blonde people from latin-america, people with purely castilian heritage, people who’ve lived in the States for several generations, etc) would come to be regarded as “white” and “white”‘s definitions would shift to accomodate, while “hispanic” would come to simply mean less privilege ethnicities, like those with darker complexions, more indigenous heritage, or from poorer nations like El Salvador.

    This is the way “white” has ALWAYS operated. It doesn’t MEAN anything, except “privileged ethnicity”. That’s why there’ll never be a “white minority”, and incidentally also why the concept of “anti-white racism” is fundamentally absurd.

    • says

      Well, I have to disagree with that last remark. Being the victim of anti-white race violence, I kind of know for a fact it exists. And that’s certainly a form of racism. (It certainly would have been prosecutable as a hate-crime on the criterion of race, if I had any chance of identifying the culprits…I was too busy trying to escape it.)

      Similarly, films that make fun of white people liking mayonnaise and golf are not exactly doing anything different from films that make fun of black people liking fried chicken and basketball. Both are technically (even if not maliciously) racist. The difference is that the in-practice social power imbalance makes the one instance more harmful and problematic than the other (in obvious ways), and in terms of humor dynamic, everybody knows the “white people liking mayonnaise and golf” is false and ridiculous (white being the socially dominant and thus widely known paradigm), whereas that isn’t necessarily the case for “black people liking fried chicken and basketball” (since that’s an actual racist trope) and that’s why it’s not funny (except perhaps in very expert hands, e.g. the Wayans Brothers).

      Also, your first point is true only on a different definition of “white” than is used in the U.S. census form, which is what my statistics are based on, and thus the definition I have to intend in my article. To be a minority by that definition simply means to be less than half the population (or when all racial identities counted by that census are less than half the population, it means to be significantly smaller than the largest racial identity group, whatever that may then be). So, point worth making, but not exactly relevant to the point I was making in the article.

    • Cyranothe2nd, ladyporn afficianado says

      Richard,

      I think you’re misunderstanding what Natalie (and most experts on racism) mean by “racism.” Racism is prejudice plus the institutional power to act on it. For many reasons, as well as the ones Natalie mentioned, “anti-white racism” in *modern Western society* is absurd. I don’t know what happened to you, so I can’t comment on it except to say that, while it may have been racially motivated, I think you need to ask yourself—what it institutionally condoned? Are there institutional barriers that prohibit you from seeking or getting justice for this crime? As you, as a white man who was the victim of this act of violence, at risk of being institutionally discriminated against for being white? Was the violence an incident of racial discrimination by an institutional force? If not, than it was not racist. It may have been prejudiced or race-motivated. That criteria does not make it racist.

      Also, as Natalie pointed out, the definition of “white” she’s describing is EXACTLY the same as on the census form, unless you think that people of Irish or Italian decent are not considered white when filling out that form. Yet 100 years ago, they were considered “colored” (Irish were considered “yellow” and Italians “brown”). Her point is that “White” and “Color” is an arbitrary category that is social derived and has less to do with skin color than it does with privilege. In Western society as it exists today, it is much more likely that the definition of White will simply shift, as it has so often in the past, than that racist institutions will be torn down to accommodate changing demographics. This isn’t off-topic. This is how white people have historically maintained power. By “rewarding” certain groups with privileged status, thereby inhibiting unity or actual change. (For more on this, I recommend The Colonizer and the Colonized by Alfred Memmi. )

    • says

      Racism is prejudice plus the institutional power to act on it.

      The ability to wield weapons and attack someone with impunity is power. It is, indeed, quintessential power, power in its most basic form.

      Thus, it is false to say racial minorities completely lack power. They have less power, not none. And making it all about institutional power is fallacious. Power is power. Whether it is a mob or a posse or a government doesn’t matter in any relevant way. The KKK wasn’t a government, lynch mobs were not part of the state. And a lynch mob chasing a white man because he’s white is no different from a lynch mob chasing a black man because he’s black.

      I also don’t buy into linguistic imperialism. If you want to talk about a special kind of racism that only involves access to power, then that’s fine, but it’s not what I’m talking about. And you can’t force a word to be used only in one way, least of all a way contrary to what is already established useage (to effect such change is a long and arduous process). I’m talking about having beliefs that falsely stereotype a race (e.g. the wikipedia definition, which is the definition most widely in use and thus most readily understood by English speaking people the world over). Power isn’t necessary (except in the basic sense that having the liberty to think your own thoughts about other people and act in some way on them is a minimal form of power…as it is, when contrasted with the hypothetical state of your thoughts being in someone else’s control).

      Likewise, institutional racism (which you then go on to talk about) is a sub-category of racism, not racism itself. It is indeed the most common and longest lasting form of racism, but that’s moot to the present point, where we’re supposed to be talking about racism generally, not certain kinds and expressions of it.

      As to the rest, I quite concur with the social construction aspect of race (I was not challenging that) and all the rest. But it doesn’t change the fact that people who identify now as “white” outnumber all other people, and soon will not. Nor does it change anything else I said in this article–and everything else is moot here, as this is a comment thread about that article.

    • kevinkirkpatrick says

      I have to go with Natalie here.

      When a shy and un-athletic boy is mercilessly and endlessly taunted by his peers, we call this bullying. When a rare circumstance arises such that power imbalance is momentarily reversed (e.g., the boy has brought a gun to school), and that circumstance ends tragically with the boy killing two of his classmates… it is not accurate to say that what the boy did was a form of bullying. This does not mean we can’t condemn his actions (as we certainly would – murder is murder), but it is far more accurate to treat his meltdown as a negative consequence of the years of endless bullying he was forced to endure. Conflating the treatment that the boy received with the reaction that he ultimately had as “both just forms of bullying” is flatly wrong, and would only serve to hinder efforts people might make to address bullying itself (e.g. “we need to combat bullying by restricting access to firearms”).

      I take you at your word that you were targeted for violence by virtue of your white skin and I stand with you 100% in condemnation of such behavior. But a group of black men violently lashing out at someone they perceive as part of the racist culture that has systematically oppressed them and their loved ones through their entire lives is not “racism” in exactly the way that a bullied child shooting his tormenters is not “bullying”. Same goes for the eating-fried-chicken blacks vs. golf-playing whites (or the more common variant, “nigger” vs. “cracker”) line of reasoning… also not both racism. I can’t seem to find the words to do justice to just how different it is for me to be called a cracker by a black person vs. me calling a black person a nigger. I guess it comes down to: punching up vs. punching down aren’t quantitatively different (as you seem to concede); they are categorically different.

    • says

      This is a semantic confusion over two different definitions of racism, one highly esoteric and of use in certain contexts, and another, the one used and known to almost all English speaking people (see my discussion above). The esoteric definition is irrelevant to my article, and this is a thread about my article. Stay on point.

    • Madison Jordan says

      I think Natalie unduly muddles racism per se with institutional racism.

      The claim that there cannot be a white minority is puzzling, since that’s exactly what presided in South Africa, and they were the power holders at one time. But if ‘white people’ only means privileged people, or whatever, then it’d be possible (‘possible’ being the operative word) for black people to be rightfully considered white people, and I don’t think that would fly well with conventional meanings.

  55. GrzeTor says

    You talk about attitudes towards “people who openly commit to being cruel, dishonest, and irrational”.

    1. Are you trying to suggest that liars (“dishonest”) openly commit to being liars? Does that make them liars or honest therefore? Or do liars openly support being honest, just don’t practice it?

    2. You talk about punishing “those who denounce and reject compassion, honesty, and reasonableness”. You mentioned the same for “integrity” in your speach.

    So according to you we should do bad things to those who for example say “If you live under some kind of dictatorship or theocracy you should not be honest when talking about your views on the ruling forces. It cost too much. Forget about integrity, it leads nowhere, tell different things publicly, and do other in conspiracy”.

    Why do you associate only “compassion” with morality? What is morality has always been a battle between two competing groups – justice group and compassion group. Justice group say one should get what he deserves, so we should not show compassion eg. for people who are poor because they are lazy. In some justice systems it’s even illegal to pay fine for someone else, as this would mean no punishment, no matter how compassionate you are for the sentenced you can’t do it.

    Why we should denounce, shun or otherwise persecute people who lack “reasonableness”, eg. those conforming to the the stereotype of crazy artists, who do definitely lack reasonableness?

    3. Why this obsession with some few parameters? There are thousands for parameters to measure for a human, and many of them are important. Would you shun “a good surgeon, non-compassionate”, and rather choose “bad surgeon, very compassionate”?

    And now a very important question:

    Why are you are only calling to persecute humans for what you perceive as flaws? I havent’ seen you making same propositions towards institutions, corporations and governments. Do you somehow feel a strong need to punish humans, while feeling comfortable with what you perceive as sins being done by governments (many leftwingers have this flaw)?

    By the way – would there be any government left not to “denounce, shun, dissasociate” if you apply your criteria to them?

    • says

      Are you trying to suggest that liars (“dishonest”) openly commit to being liars? Does that make them liars or honest therefore? Or do liars openly support being honest, just don’t practice it?

      Read what I wrote on the same general question 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.

      (Of course, I know you have. But that just illustrates the insincerity of your question.)

      2. You talk about punishing “those who denounce and reject compassion, honesty, and reasonableness”. You mentioned the same for “integrity” in your speach. So according to you we should do bad things to those who…

      Let me stop you right there. Notice your weirdo illogical skip from what things I actually said we should do (in my video in question) to “doing bad things” as some sort of general category, as if any bad thing is okay. I call bullshit. You’re not going to get away with deceiving anyone here on that score. I have never said we should “do bad things” to anyone, for anything. I have said we should speak out against bad things and disavow and disassociate ourselves from those who persist unrepentantly in doing bad things. And yes, I defined what I mean by “bad things” (cruel, heartless, dishonest, unreasonable things).

      for example say “If you live under some kind of dictatorship or theocracy you should not be honest when talking about your views on the ruling forces. It cost too much. Forget about integrity, it leads nowhere, tell different things publicly, and do other in conspiracy”.

      Ah, once again you pretend you haven’t read what I’ve written on exactly these kinds of questions. Here is from that same article last year:

      The nexus of these three values does entail there can be such things as unreasonable compassion (like destroying your own happiness through excessive giving, or not giving babies vaccinations because needles hurt) or unreasonable honesty (like aiding a murderer by telling them where their target is hiding) or dishonest compassion (like tricking someone into losing a lot, by being generous to them now) or uncompassionate honesty (like being unnecessarily frank about someone’s appearance), or even dishonest reasonableness (like merely pretending to be reasonable). These are all moral failures. But there can be honest debate about where the boundaries are drawn when values come into conflict, as long as that debate is always governed by the most fundamental value of being reasonable (as defined above).

      Hopefully you have the intelligence to see how these general rules apply to your proposed case.

      Why do you associate only “compassion” with morality?

      Do I really have to dignify that ridiculous question with an answer?

      If I thought you were being sincere, maybe. But you obviously aren’t. At any rate, I actually answered that question in the very same post last year I keep referencing (again, here), which in turn references my complete answer to that very question in Sense and Goodness without God, with a formal proof of the logic of it in The End of Christianity.

      What is morality has always been a battle between two competing groups – justice group and compassion group.

      There is no such historical battle in philosophy. Nor is there even conceivably one in honest logical fact.

      I think you are perhaps confusing a completely different debate, which is about facts, not morals: well explained by Crommunist in his Dueling Myth Postulate.

      Why we should denounce, shun or otherwise persecute people who lack “reasonableness”, eg. those conforming to the the stereotype of crazy artists, who do definitely lack reasonableness?

      In my experience there is in practice only one kind of person who is unrepentantly unreasonable (in the way I defined in my article last year…go read that definition again if you’ve somehow forgotten) while still remaining compassionate and honest, and that’s a crazy person. So yes, in that case, one does not denounce them but we do call them out, and we cannot work with them, either (much less give them leadership positions) and we are compelled to avoid them, since they will only be disruptive and incapable of socializing.

      Otherwise, someone who is unrepentantly unreasonable is usually so in order to sustain their belief that their lack of compassion and honesty makes them good people with nothing to apologize for and no toxicity to any community they join. Thus, that is usually not an evil alone. It’s a covariable.

      Beyond that, all that’s left are people who do believe they ought to be reasonable. Every one of them is on occasion or in some manner or another unreasonable. Hence the first paragraph I quote in this comment: what matters is whether we acknowledge this when it is called out or whether we persist in it and begin attacking and harassing people who call us out rather than taking steps to live by the very values we profess.

      Figuring that out is not rocket science.

      Why this obsession with some few parameters?

      To cast the widest possible sustainable net.

      I am identifying the minimal core of moral values that are essential to a functional and healthy community, such that if you took any of them away, the community would be dysfunctional and unlivable and ultimately doomed.

      It is amusing to someone now resort to complaining that I don’t add more values to the line we need to draw, after people usually complain that I have added too many (the people who falsely believe, for instance, that I think you have to be a political progressive or else you’re a bad person…the exact opposite of what I have of course said, e.g. here).

      Why are you are only calling to persecute humans for what you perceive as flaws?

      Since when is saying something is wrong persecuting anyone? Since when is not wanting to associate with someone persecuting them?

      You aren’t making any sense here. No society can survive that does not denounce those who pose a danger to it (like liars, the cruel, and the destructively irrational). That’s not persecution. You are again acting like the kidnapper in jail claiming he’s just a kidnap victim, too.

      I havent’t seen you making same propositions towards institutions, corporations and governments.

      There is no such thing as institutions, corporations and governments apart from people–the people making the decisions in them. Thus, your distinction is meaningless.

      By the way – would there be any government left not to “denounce, shun, dissasociate” if you apply your criteria to them?

      First, since they aren’t part of the atheist community, that has no relevance to the mission goals of Atheism+, which is about how to make the atheist community better, and of greater value to society, and more appreciated by society.

      Second, we do indeed “denounce, shun, dissasociate” the people making decisions in governments. All the fucking time. Or have you really not noticed? Were you not aware that we cast votes in elections? That we write (sometimes even march) in protest of the immoralities in government? Though again, go back to the first paragraph I quoted in this comment: as governments are just people, everything there applies to them as well as any one of us.

      I know this is going in one ear and out the other, because you have been consistently insincere in my blog threads before and I have no reason to believe you’re being sincere now. But one can always dream that maybe someday you’ll actually pay attention to what I’m saying and finally, just finally, get it.

    • GrzeTor says

      You didn’t get the joke? You have set yourself and your followers into the trap of a classic “Liar’s paradox”. Which is something like: is a person who says “i’m lying” lying, or is a sentence “this sentence is false” false. You did this by using persistently promoting recommendations like:
      “Disowning people who declare their refusal to be compassionate, honest, or reasonable”
      “denounce those who openly repudiate those values” (values include honesty), “calling [...] people who mock and openly reject the values [...] as
      So I asked the question of the type – if a person “publicly declares refusal to be honest”, or “repudiates honesty” – equivalent to saying “I’m lying” – what can we conclude from that?
      Another interesting case is non-rational, not-honest person – deeply believing some myths, while trying to lie to the public by telling the true facts :-) How to recognize such person?
      That’s a theory. On a practical level it may not matter – basically everyone who spreads some ideology or view says “I’m telling the truth, my views are rational”. And even has some arguments to support correctness or rationality of these views. Even if one recognizes these as wrong, then (again in practice) it’s often very difficult to validate that a person is telling the wrong things because of being convinced by them (even stubbornly stucking in believing in them), while trying to be truthful (like Richard Carrier with his Atheism+ views), or that this person’s intentions are lying – consciously not telling the truth while knowing what he says is not thruth.
      There practically no examples of people saying “I’m a liar, I reject honesty” in a universal sense. The closest what I could find about rejecting honesty is more like being honest to ingroup, while cheating to the outgoup, or trading honesty for some other, bigger goal (eg. working as a spy).
      The most notable example being the Islamic doctrine of lying for Allah (Taqiyya).
      http://www.islam-watch.org/Warner/Taqiyya-Islamic-Principle-Lying-for-Allah.htm
      http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/quran/011-taqiyya.htm
      Since the docrtine is spread mainly among pious muslism, and is about lying mainly to non-muslims, or not-enough muslims there’s no liar’s paradox, and in a sense it’s doesn’t fulfill your criteria of a fully public claim (practicioners hide the fact of practicing it from their victims). Notice they might think it’s an example of trading honesty for greater good, because they were indoctrinated that Islam is a greater good.
      Getting back to the general topic of morality. It’s difficult or impossible to judge if a person or an institution is moral with a benchmark consisting of just few measurments. Even less so if these parametrs are a result of personal biases or prefecences of a single benchmark creator.
      I’ll give you an analogy: there is a guy called Joel Fuhrman, he’s a vegan and a MD. He is an advocate for high-nutrition-density diet, which in an abstract sense is a great idea! Unfortunately to measure the nutritient density of food he created a pathetic nutritonal density index (ANDI), that has too few measurments and suspisciously misses important nutritients that are prevalent in animal products, while lacking in plant food. So despite the idea of nutritient-dense foods being great, then unfortunately using this index is not. So other people (like Matt Lalonde) have come with better indexes of nutritient density – which they achieved by including measurement of significantly more nutritients, as well as giving not only numbers but also distribution as a result of measurment.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwbY12qZcF4
      So the new index is in the right direction, including huge list of the most popular nutritients. Is it perfect? Definitely no – it’s just a heuristic, by definition an imperfect approximate. Eg. it still doesn’t have lot’s of beneficial, but rare substances included like hyaluronic acid or resveratrol. So these rare foods that have these rare substances are going to get unjustified low rank. Your morality benchmar is similar to Furhman’s index – too few parameters, biased towards your personal preferences, too many things excluded.
      And even greater error is that it’s not some form of weighted average but rather exclusionary machanism. In a real world we are used to make final decisions if someone is within norms of morality by weighted averages which allows to trade one feature for another. Eg. if a person is more miserly than average, but slightly more well-mannered he still gets the resuntant average morality score. If you use exclusionary benchmark – “we reject all miserly people” – you get lot’s of rejections not compatible with what normal people mean by morality, and you kind of discriminate against atypical people (weird distribution of features) as opposed to average ones. With your checklist you may end up with a bunch of people who are compassionate, support reason as a way to investigate the truth, and tell the truth, but are totally lazy, passive, fearful, bad at plannig for the future etc. So the basic function of morality – prevention of bad behavior – is not fulfilled with your rules.
      The way you mitigate such assymetries in morality is by using structure and mechanisms (both may be informal) that utilize the best features of a person while not allowing the imperfections to be activated. For example you might make a team consisting of a hard-working less honest person doing most of the task and a lazy honest person doing less of the task, but also supervising the former. So the end result of synergetistically utlizing assymetries may be significantly better than just having a blob of unified clones.
      By the way – I gave a nice example with surgeons that you didn’t respond to, so let me expand on this: we have this first surgeon that doesn’t fill your criteria of compassion, is totally uncompassionate. Besides this he is a great surgeon, ruthlesly fights incompetence, and promotes professionalism and results. Always demands good pay for his services.
      The second one is a bad surgeon, but extremaly compassionate to his patients and the world around. Sometimes even offers his services for free for the poor. Is honest about his skills. This one passes your test.
      Going forward to the immoral tendency to blame humans for everyhting, even for faults of governments and corporations. For the purpose of this thread I’m going to name it “Humanism+”. It really looks like like it’s related to cognitive bias of seeing humans or human-like persons (like gods) everywhere as a source of all decisions or actions. You suffer from such Humanism+ syndrome, and it’s not nice.
      First let me explain what is one of the legal functions of the governments and corporations – it’s taking responsibilites. Governments have responsibilities as writtein in the laws and statues, and corporations have responsibilities as in the contracts they signed. For example a municipial government might have a responsibility for removing garbage. If the city is full of lingering garbage, and no removal is done then the municipial government is recognized as responsible and pays the damage. The actual internal structure of might be very complicated, eg. go through multiple level of outsourcing. This doesn’t matter – the responsible, and thus guilty party is clearly the municipial government. Look how great it is – you don’t have to hire a detective to go through all the internal structures of organizations on the whole outsourcing chain to find a malfuncioning element. You can just claim that an organization is guilty and get your damages.
      And even if you went to investigate what internal element of organizations malfunctioned, then you could be in for suprprise. What you might find was that the broken part is an algorithm, running as a software on a computer. Or even if you find a human nearby a problem the broken part might be the procedure the human executed (human being explicitly hired to execute procedures as his job).
      Generally what we have now making decisions are cyborg dystributed systems, that encompass multiple institutions, algorithms, procedures, computers, humans, machines as active participants, entangled in a web of complicated dependancies. Having clearly definded points of responsibility in this web is crucial to responsibility being enforceable at all.
      What your Humanism+ is doing – putting all the blame on people – is extremaly similar to what religious apologists are doing to protect their organizations. For example a Catholic Church apologist commenting on various crimes committed by this institution in the past will say “It’s not the church, it’s some people who are guilty of these crimes”. By Humanism+ logic such argument is perfectly valid! Same with Communist Party – apoligists say the party was never guilty, it’s just some bad people who just were it’s members. While in reality for the crimes in question it was the institutions that controlled these crimes, with people in question being employees of the institutions, basically operating as integral parts of these institutions, for the good or according to the ideology of these institutions (rather than for some private goal), and these were done in the name of the institution. So yes, the institution is guilty of these crimes.
      That’s not all. According to your reject-type morality institutions like governments are inherently structurally immoral. For example they good example would be the integral parts of governments like intelligence agencies – specifically operating based on lying to others (eg. training and sending spies who are ordered to pretend to be someone else), evesdropping on other’s communications without their permissions, even executing people in foreign countries.
      Another example are taxes. “From the view of economists, a tax is a non-penal, yet compulsory transfer of resources from the private to the Public sector levied on a basis of predetermined criteria and without reference to specific benefit received.” (Wikipedia) Read again – taxes are money that are taken FOR NOTHING. It’s not a payment for service, as no obligation to the government follows from taking taxes. Basically a tax is a government just forcibly robbing resources from other entities, and not giving anything in return. Yes, there are obligations of government, but they are derived from other statues, independant on taxes. And these are not obligations to taxpayers, but typically to citizens, legal persons etc.
      The only way to ever have a government classified as moral entity is to use weighted morality measure on all factors, where positive factors have the chance to overcome negative factors. Same, but on a smaller side with corporations. By the way – do you even normalize for the amount of activity in your morality system – if so, then how?
      Besides with strict morality systems (one of which you propose) there’s a problem with treatment of less-conforming members being worse than the treatment of external non-members who don’t conform to the rules at all, and who are somehow in power or otherwise mecessary. For example islamic moralists might whip or stone to death their own women for what they spoke, how they dressed, not being submissive but trying to rule etc. and then go to the negotiation table showing respect for Angela Merkel or other female head of state or buisneswoman. In your system there would be atheists not-fully-conformant to your morality that would be treated with much less respect, more disdain than let’s say pro-religious people whom you’ll have to show respect as your debaters, guests, negotiation partners etc.

  56. Sili says

    Well, t’foot has succeeded in making me less caring.

    I certainly don’t care about t’foot at all.

    So embarrassing to know he’s a chemist. At least I’m never gonna risk meeting him anymore.

  57. Skeptical Atheist says

    Richard, If you start hanging out on the atheism+ forum and post there everyday for a month, I’ll give your video a thumbs up

    • says

      Dear Richard, I will speculate on the possible answer to your question ‘Why?’ which you asked of ‘Skeptical Atheist’; having been a moderator at the A+ forums in the past, I can affirm that the forums are rather closely moderated on the twin grounds that it is intended to be a safe space for those in the atheist community who have been harassed by the likes of the Thunderf00t faction and the Slymepit over the past couple of years, as well as moderation being unfortunately a necessity because of repeated, organised trolling from other atheist and skeptical forums.

      The A+ forums, for example, do not support members using forum threads to organise ‘raids’ or ‘attacks’ on other forums. This contrasts with the policies of numerous other atheist and skeptical forums which apparently tolerate (or in some cases, the moderators thereof enjoy participating with relish) the publication of threads which either defame members of the A+ forums and/or organise trolling attacks on the A+ forums – seemingly for the ‘fun’ of it. (In 4chan parlance, ‘for the lolz’.)

      Extensive threads (often running to thousands of comments) such as I’ve described can be found quite easily by a search on each of the following atheist/skeptic forums:

      • Rationalia (rationalia·com)
      • “RatSkep” (rationalskepticism·org)
      • Talk Rational (talkrational·org)
      • JREF (forums·randi·org)
      • That Fat Atheist (forum·thatfatatheist·com – forum belonging to TJ Kincaid, aka ‘The Amazing Atheist’)
      • Slyme Pit (slymepit·com – no surprise there)

      This does not speak well of the members of those forums who choose to engage in those behaviours. (Is it any surprise that some atheists have a bad reputation for being assholes when this is how they treat their own?)

      To avoid the tu quoque that is inevitably going to follow from someone who is a member of one of those forums… yes, occasionally the A+ forums have had discussion threads devoted to other atheist/skeptic forums: but they were not devoted to defamation of members of those other forums, nor the organising and discussion of attempts to ‘troll’ other forums! Also, please note that I am not accusing all members of those forums listed above from engaging in such anti-social behaviour… but be assured, the behaviour I’ve described is both disreputable and anti-social.

      The A+ forums have also been trolled by members of Reddit.com’s /r/AntiAtheismPlus/ sub-reddit (which I believe has recently folded), and at one point were visited by a raiding party from one of the ‘Manosphere’ MRA websites, possibly ‘The Spearhead’ if I remember correctly.

      As these ‘raids’ were frequent enough through the latter part of last year, this made enforcement of the forum rules – specifically against trolling and bad faith argumentation – rather more of a necessity than a convenience, and at least one high-profile atheist incurred a ban for deliberate rule breaking – Matt Dillahunty was persuaded to undertake a ‘social experiment’ by posting under a pseudonymous account, and unwisely did so in a fashion that was indistinguishable from the then-current wave of pseudonymous trolls; for putting the forums in an impossible position by giving every possible encouragement to trolls by advocating the use of a sock-puppet, he had to cop a permanent ban of his main account as a result.

      In that light, therefore, I’m guessing that ‘Skeptical Atheist’ is… skeptical that your commitment to the ideals of atheism plus would last longer than a month, if you had to interact with the people on the A+ forums on a daily basis – which is an inferred slur on the membership (that I hope ‘Skeptical Atheist’ will deny having intended making). And it is also fallacious on the grounds that ideas and ideals are separate of the people who try (and often fall short, unfortunately, being human and therefore fallible) to live up to them.

    • theetar says

      Why? Maybe because of what happened to Matt Dillahunty or recently to Ellenbeth Wachs at Pharyngula. You need to see how A+ treats people first hand.

    • says

      Dillahunty resolved that issue. Funny how reasonable people can do that.

      I don’t know anything about the Wachs case, but (a) Pharyngula isn’t an A+ forum (so, nice try trying to sneak in an example irrelevant to the question) and (b) in my experience, these things usually don’t turn out to be what people like you claim (as I know in the Dillahunty case), whenever I bother to investigate them.

      In short, I just don’t trust you to be reliably reporting anything here. In any case, a good summary of the reality was just provided upthread.

    • Skeptical Atheist says

      Xanthe
      “I’m guessing that ‘Skeptical Atheist’ is… skeptical that your commitment to the ideals of atheism plus would last longer than a month, if you had to interact with the people on the A+ forums on a daily basis – which is an inferred slur on the membership (that I hope ‘Skeptical Atheist’ will deny having intended making). And it is also fallacious on the grounds that ideas and ideals are separate of the people who try (and often fall short, unfortunately, being human and therefore fallible) to live up to them.”

      Richard, I think you’d be banned if you tried to defend this position(66.1) on the Atheism+ forum.

      Here’s a sampling of comments from the Atheism+ forum about reverse racism,
      http://atheismplus.com/forums/search.php?keywords=reverse+racism

      Not even Hyperdeath(site admin) dare challenge the concept of reverse racism.

    • says

      Nice try attempting to sneak your hypothesis in about how someone else might behave based on your inaccurate understanding of their actual moderation policies. I don’t fall for that, FYI.

  58. says

    Saw your response to my earlier comment, Mr. Carrier, and I would like to point out a few things.

    Firstly, I didn’t see anyone disagreeing with me on my point about minorities being more religious. I wasn’t expecting any disagreement, but I hope it shows that maybe some non-theist NGOs should be created specifically for prison work. We are very far behind in that race.

    Secondly, I was unaware you didn’t know about TJ’s statements to a rape victim. I thought it was common knowledge.

    Thirdly, regardless of whether Tf00t accessed the e-mails from Mars, the server is on U.S. soil, correct? FTB’s call to make, but testing the waters can’t be harmful… the worst that Law Enforcement can do is tell FTB no. You guys aren’t filing a false report.

    Lastly, about the e-begging, at first I shared your attitude, Mr. Carrier. But TJ has no job and never will.

    He has asked for money to pay his electricity bill (youtube.com/watch?v=mBeEHXl9u8M#t=264s). That’s definitely not the only time he e-begged; one other time he wanted money so he could get laid (youtube.com/watch?v=uAdc131dy7E#t=124s)

    Others could be cited but this is what I am reaching at: Should someone like that be held up as someone who could “lead the community?” The answer is a flat and emphatic NO! But for some reason YT atheists love this guy. I hate him, big time. I got into a small Twitter spat with him a few days ago about him being a high school dropout and the number of his followers who agreed with him, calling high school a factory to make zombies and whatnot, made me almost cry.

    I hate e-begging because too many people who do it need to go get a job. Too many times they have been dishonest about what they need the money for and what they plan on doing with it. We atheists point fingers at televangelists for doing it; we therefore should not be upholding people like TJ and Thunderf00t who do it amongst us either. Let’s practice what we preach on this one… er… more correctly… let’s NOT practice what the televangelists preach in throwing money at uneducated scandalous preachers who don’t deserve it.

    Good post, though. I am now subbed to Mr. Carrier in my Old Reader feed.

    ~Infidel

    • says

      I hate e-begging because too many people who do it need to go get a job.

      I disagree. Because that is a job. It’s self-employment. It’s essentially what I do. I just don’t ask for money to get laid, and I have actual qualifications and achievements that make funding me more sensible than funding him, etc. So it’s not the job of generating revenue online we should be objecting to. It’s his failure to get qualified at anything or do anything useful with the money he is asking for.

      Otherwise, I quite concur: it makes little sense especially for TF to be holding him up as someone who should be leading the atheist movement; and I certainly agree we should say funding these guys is not good for the movement and is really just a waste of money. But that’s different from condemning the business model itself, which in more deserving hands is perfectly fine.

  59. niam_krawt says

    Theetar, normally I would let this type of drive-by, uninformed non-refutation go without response, which is what it truly deserves. However, since Richard’s post is in the spirit of calling out trolls, I too will take a stab at it. I will not be as kind as Richard would be.

    Theetar, I have a few questions/observations:

    Is Thunderf00t a sociopath? NO.

    Do you have anything to back this up, or are you just another YouTube/Thunderf00t fanboy? Richard took a decent amount of time and effort to defend himself and, at the same time, provide plausible reasons for thinking that Phil may be somewhat of a sociopath. Your two letter response doesn’t exactly refute any of Richard’s points…

    Is Mr. Carrier flogging a dead horse? It would appear so.

    It would appear that Richard is defending himself, and the community to which he is a participant, from misinformation. The “horse” was born five days before Richard responded, in the form of Phil’s video; how in any way is this “flogging a dead horse”? Are we now comparing all discussions to the attention span of teenagers these days?

    if you’d spent time trying to understand why A+ is disliked so much

    Why don’t you be so good as to inform us? I would like to understand, so please, inform me at least. I realize this sounds just as sarcastic as the rest of my comment, but I am very serious about this. You can complain that everyone is uneducated, or you can solve the problem and share the information you have; your choice.

    …instead of writing walls of text…

    Richard is thorough, no doubt. I only wish more people on the internet made an effort to be thorough, or at least intellectually honest. Did you actually read the entire “wall of text”, or just skim the first few bricks and jump in with your witty comment?

    …because TF has hurt your feelings so much…

    Unlike you, apparently, I read the entire post. And I see no mention of Richard discussing his hurt fee-fees, or a hint of self pity. I see a person attempting to maintain some credibility against tabloid slander.

    …you’d be in a more tenable situation.

    Oh, like your “tenable situation”? You smell like a Thunderf00t acolyte; you imitate his projection well.

  60. Theo Phontes says

    @ Thunderf99t acolytes

    For the good order, we note that Richard Carrier brought up the truly disgusting behaviour of group of misogynists (whether or not atheist, I cannot say) towards a young woman atheist on Reddit. If you wish to know more about that which is being condemned, I provide you with this link: Reddit Makes Me Hate Atheists

    This goes into some detail, so that you may make future comments fully informed of the facts underpinning that which we are discussing.

    It is this form of online abusiveness that Richard so roundly condemns. There is not much room for ambiguity, given the intensity of the online attacks. It is a case of being for or against such behaviour. Are you really suggesting that Thunderf99t is offering a third way (that is: to sit on the fence)?

    I find it especially ingenuous of His Footedness to try and Godwin the whole argument, with his Stalin and Bush variations of this jaded gambit. The closer analogy (if you will excuse me) is that of tackling commentators, Neville Chamberlain-like, for speaking out against aggressors.

    But that, I think, is granting Thunderf99t too much. There seems far too much invective behind his posts. Whatever drives him (whether or not sociopathy) is not pretty and is getting progressively worse. Do you really want to prop up his crumbling stance?

  61. PaulCHartley says

    Having both watched Dr Phil’s video as well as read your article, I note a particular observation that you appear to have either missed completely or that you yourself chose not to comment on.

    In his video (timestamp 16:00 or thereabouts) he talks about appealing to minorities when promoting atheism and he calls you a moron for looking to grow the movement by looking towards a minority of a minority.

    Now, while I pass no judgment regarding the validity of the arguments being put forward, I must point out that he is entirely correct when he shows his “cartoonish” graph and says that atheism in the US is a minority, and further, I would contend that the atheist plus and social justice movement within the atheist movement is an even smaller minority within that minority. More so, as you stated he shows graphs of how, relative to other search terms, the number of people searching Google for information on PZ is also falling as PZ apparently gets more involved with matters relating to social justice.

    By Dr Phil’s logic, you would therefore have to be an idiot if you thought that you were going to make any headway against the overwhelming majority if you only looked towards dealing with issues relating to a minority of a minority, which begs the question on why five of fifteen, in other words one third, of his most recent videos have been on this very subject.

    Maybe that is why, just like PZ’s search stats on google, according to google trends, Dr Phil’s youtube search stats are also falling in the same way

    • GrzeTor says

      So you are claiming that Thunderf00t is making a lot of videos about A+ minority, thereferore he violates his advice on concentrating on majority?

      Let me explain where is the source of a mistake. It seems to be in a class of abstracting too much information away. You see abstraction is about hiding non-important information, in order to allow to process only the important one. What you have done is abstracting away information about the type of minorities Thunderf00t was talking about, thus in your claim “minority” is a single abstract unified blob entity, rather than a variable describing different groups according to context.

      Let me explain it this way – whenever you turn off a mainstream (=targeted at majorities) news channel you see a lot information about a threatning/damaging minorities – terrorists, thiefs, arsonists, murderers, corrupt people, incompetent doctors screwing surgeies etc. That’s justified because of their influence on majority – so in a sense information is about the threats to majority, caused by this minority, rather than the minority itself. Let’s call them “type A minorities” for the purpose of this answer.

      There is also other type of minority that gets lot’s of coverage – spectacular, scandalous, or just those designed for popularity: stars, celebrities, famous, those with significant achievement etc. They get a lot of coverage because public finds it interesting to watch. Let’s call them “type B minorities” for the purpose of this answer.
      .

      On the other hand there are huge groups of minirities that are just there, living somewhere in a background, doing neither harm not anything spectacular that don’t get the coverage at all, even being quite large numerically, eg. not much news about Yemeni immigrants. Let’s call them “type B minorities” for the purpose of this answer.
      .

      What Thunderf00t argues for is “Feminists are poisoning Atheism” – that is they should be classified as type A, and thus there’s a need for coverage.

      Whom he covers are mostly type B, celebrity A+ -ers: PZ Myers, Richard Carrier, Rebeca Watson etc.

      What he advocates for is a way of utilizing limited resources Atheism community has: not spending too much resources on special needs of type C minorities, but rather spending these limited resources to apealling to general public.

  62. Shinobu says

    Thunderf00t used to be one of my favourite vloggers. I was very disappointed with his behaviour when he started his vendetta against FTB in particular and atheists that care about social justice in general, but I was still recommending some of his science-related videos to others (some of them really are *very* well done).

    But this black hole of irrational nonsense that you document here convinced me that he simply cannot be trusted to do proper research and present results and conclusions honestly, no matter on which topic. I can no longer recommend any of his videos in good faith.

  63. Dan says

    “has expanded his anti-feminist rants to the point that I am seriously worried he might have no empathy for other human beings at all. He is now even ranting against concern for minorities.”

    I predicted you would start off your reply writing something like this. I’m already used to many people on the left dismissing the humanity of those whom they differ with.

    I actually don’t fully agree with Thunderf00t here. You should focus efforts on a specific minority and it’s not a racial group but rather a religious group (Muslims). Given that Islam’s influence in the world is far worse than Christianity’s and virtually no free society has ever been founded on Islamic principles, I’d appreciate any campaign aimed at convincing Muslims to renounce their faith and also helping them avoid problems within their community (all 4 schools of Sunni Islam mandate the death penalty for apostasy).

    It makes no sense to attack Christianity primarily when Islam is on the rise and is causing many problems in the world, not because of “extremists” twisting its “peaceful teachings” but because of fundamentals of Islamic theology which are inherently hostile to non-Muslims, women and personal freedom.

    “His departure from logic and reason, in defense of abuse and amorality, is just weird, and makes it ironic that he claims my call for more community and compassion, honesty, and reasonableness is toxic to the atheism movement.”

    Richard, the problem is you don’t merely call for “compassion, honesty, and reasonableness”. It seemed very obvious from its inception the whole Atheism+ movement was simply atheism with a left-wing agenda (socially AND economically) disguised as “compassion, honesty, and reasonableness”.

    So answer me this. Could a conservative or a libertarian atheist fit into your “movement” if he believed that ideology would make the world a more “compassionate, honest and reasonable” place?

    • says

      It makes no sense to attack Christianity primarily when Islam is on the rise and is causing many problems in the world.

      We have to get the plank out of our own eye before we can get the splinter out of others’. And the vast majority of the US population, which controls US domestic and foreign policy, is Christian. We have very little ability to influence Islam in other countries. We could only do that in a significant by changing foreign policy (so as to make it possible for greater secularization and prosperity to occur in Islamic countries, for example, and to remove unnecessary provocations to radicalization).

      Nevertheless, there are those of us doing what we can. Even I have written on the subject and actually have a reputation in Islamic countries for deconverting people there…which is one reason I am unlikely ever to visit to a predominately Islamic nation, for the sake of my own security.

      TF was right about one thing: our primary target demographic is the US population. That’s where we can realistically grow atheists and draw atheist dollars and voting power. We need to get that right. Eyes on the ball, people.

      It seemed very obvious from its inception the whole Atheism+ movement was simply atheism with a left-wing agenda (socially AND economically) disguised as “compassion, honesty, and reasonableness”.

      Which indicates that “from its inception” you haven’t been reading or paying attention to anything we’ve been saying. Like, for example, what I said about this last year (where I even very specifically discussed Libertarianism).

  64. says

    Hi Richard,

    If you e-beg just to get money, with nothing in return, that’s being a moocher. If you offer valuable services in return for money, then that is quite reasonable, as far as I’m concerned. Many people value your contribution to atheism and historical research, and are quite happy to subsidize that through various means (contributions to a research grant), or to pay for the product of that work (buying books, etc.). I see nothing wrong with that. In fact, it is no different from a university professor who applies for a government research grant while being paid to teach and publish in an educational institution. You’ve just taken out the middleman. You teach through online forums and publicly available speeches, as well as your publishing activities, while doing fundamental research. Keep up the good work.

    Rich Martin

    • says

      If you e-beg just to get money, with nothing in return, that’s being a moocher.

      Granted, if you didn’t do anything. But I’m assuming the guy we’re talking about generates videos people like to watch, at the very least (by definition, as otherwise he’d have no viewers to “mooch” from).

      But as I’ve said, I quite concur on the point of quality and value. Someone generating crap and asking people to pay for it makes them suckers. And we can certainly say so.

  65. moggel says

    Richard,

    if you think honesty is such an important core value (and i agree with you here), why dont you simply be honest and admit that you’re a stalinist.

    Its that easy. Just type: ” I, Richard Carrier, am a stalinist. I belive in the values of stalinism and i will provide intellectual artillery for the cause of stalinism.”

    That will make you feel better about yourself and will help you to make contact to other stalinists that span the world from honk-kong to poland or whatever.

    Those stalinists then can be your new ‘fans’ since it seems that ordinary atheists now despise you.

    With those stalinists you can then try to make this world a better place.
    And then you can convert ordinary stalinists to stalinism plus.

    Thx Dick

    • says

      [From a remark like this, I'm guessing moggel is about thirteen years old. Give or take a year or two. Unless he's writing a parody of what a tweenager would write. Then he's a genius.]

  66. Arjan says

    Dear mr. Carrier,

    I think you made a very thorough takedown of TF and I commend you for your eloquence and patience.

    However I do take exception to your use of clinical terms in describing TF, as have other psychologists done in this comment thread. You do provide useful links and show why you use them, but I still think it’s wrong. Let me explain. When someone is suspected of having a mental disorder it is useful, or better yet vital, that ”laypeople” can recognize the symptoms and act upon them by helping that person seek help or alerting professionals if they may be a danger to themselves or others. What happens then is those professionals go to work and properly diagnose him/her using the proper diagnostic tests. It often turns out the official diagnosis comes out different than what was originally suspected. This is because you can easily miss certain symptoms through biases. This is the very reason why mental health professionals are strictly prohibited from making such judgement’s about someone they’ve only seen in the media or heard about. Only after meeting someone in person and going through the proper diagnostic process can a diagnosis be made. So if someones ticking the boxes for sociopathy that’s cause for concern, but it is in no way adequate to make a definitive judgement. Because of this I think it is wrong to use it in an opinion peace about someone, because the word does have a certain weight to it. People react to it negatively. As a result some people will now label TF as a sociopath and pass all the judgement that comes with that label when it might not be accurate.

    • says

      Your argument is fully refuted by the psychological literature I cited earlier. The two books especially explain why laypeople need to know these diagnostics and apply them (see here). There is a major difference between being able to make a scientifically and legally authoritative diagnosis, and the need to form hypotheses so as to predict other people’s behavior and evaluate their character and reliability and protect ourselves from them (or them from themselves). Our responsibility is then to present the evidence honestly and without omission, and voice our concerns as hypotheses rather than medical diagnoses. Then people can evaluate the case themselves given the information generally available (e.g. here).

    • Arjan says

      Thank you for further clarifying your point for me. I agree with you. I however don’t think that it fully refutes my point. I actually think I made the same point you did early in my post. It is important for laypeople to know the diagnostics so they can voice concerns and take appropriate actions. You correctly state that these are hypotheses and not diagnoses. And that’s exactly why we should be very careful with how we deal with these suspicions. I will admit that you have handled this with more care than most people. Most people just shout these things without thinking carefully about them. You have and cite useful references. Maybe I judged a bit to hastily.

      As a rule of thumb I usually refrain from voicing suspicions with clinical terms in opinion pieces, to prevent any confusion like happened here. My point here is that I think your use of the clinical terms in this article will make a lot of people (Like me before you clarified your point) confused. My first thought was that you made a diagnosis based on your internet exchanges with TF, instead of an hypothesis based on a suspicion. This can be perceived as an ad hominem attack instead of a legitimate concern.

    • GrzeTor says

      In the context you mention a [gratuitous expletive deleted] thing one could do is to diagnose sociopathy based on the attiude towards the enemy outgroup.

      Humans have this tendency to divide the society into ingroups and outgroups, the latter might be neutral or enemy. These are usually layered – eg. closest ingroup may be you family, while further ingroups may include a chess club, non-A+ atheists etc. And the natural tendency is to treat ingroups very well, neutral outgroups with various level indifference, and enemy outgroups with bad things.

      A psychopat, sociopath etc. would treat everybody in a bad way as described in the list ofsymptoms, with the ingroups (his family, etc.) likely getting more of it just because of more contact. A person that treats ingroups very well, while doing bad stuff to enemy outgroups, and not being much interested with neutral outgroups has to be classified as a normal person.

      So basically to properly diagnose various disorders you need to know person’s attidude toward his ingroups (if it’s OK then a person is not a psychopath). Meaning the groups he subjectively finds ingroups. In majority of cases it is not possible to do via information from the Internet, as such ingroups tend to be private, or non-publishing. Eg. your ingroup may be your extended family or a pack of friends. Or collegues from work, with companies generally not publishing their interal stuff. Or even some secret society one belongs to or a division of spying agency one works for :-)

      So Richard makes “diagnosis” based on information about how Thunderf00t treats enemy outgroups (feminists, A+sers) – which you might expect not being friendly! – based on videos that were speciffically about these enemy outgroups, while not actually knowing much about Thunderf00t’s attidude towards his closest ingroups (eg. family, friends), and not mentioning his attidude towards farther ingroups like non-A+, non-feminist atheists or skeptics – which Richard might actally know.

      That is you are absolutely right – it’s crucial that diagnosis is done by trained professionals who won’t make basic mistakes, and have acces to the actual data about a diagnosed person, by the way of interviews with him, his family friends, etc.

    • says

      This is all incorrect.

      Sociopaths are perfectly capable of treating their preferred in-groups well. As long as it serves their interests. That’s why so many of them get along so well in our society undetected. And why they can do so well at gathering a loyal following. Conversely, non-sociopaths do not treat out-groups sociopathically. Because most such people have compassion, and believe in being honest and reasonable. You are thus trading on a false equivalency (people treat in-groups better than out-groups /= people treat out-groups sociopathically) and a false inference (sociopaths lack empathy, guilt, or remorse and are pathological liars and manipulators subject to grandiose behavior /= sociopaths don’t treat their preferred in-groups well).

      By contrast, my applied criteria for sociopathy are medically established. I do not use the bogus criterion you pretend I do.

    • says

      I think there is a difference between making an hypothesis of a person’s medical diagnosis in order to protect yourself in personal dealings and creating a blog post concerning a public figure and attempting to convince others that he is mentally ill based on his public statements.

    • says

      My concern is to warn people that he may be sociopathic, and document all the disturbing evidence of it. That is all I am doing here. And it is something anyone should do.

    • GrzeTor says

      I have divided my response in 2 parts – first is the interesting contents, and then as a separate piece of text an appendix dealing with errors and fallacies. Such separation should result in better quality of both compared to mixing the stuff up.
      Main part – the actual contents of my reply:
      The “medically established criteria” for having the ability to make diagnosis of mental disorder require the diagnoser to first be tested for capacity to learn, then intensively learn for few years about the subject, interveaned with regular testing of results of learning, then pass some final exams, then spend even up to few years practicing stuff – only after all of this a person can make proper diagnosis It’s required for both: formal authorization as well as real-world capability. Nothing in your bio suggest you have made such effort or something even equivalnet. Yes, I know you wrote that some people have written some books, and you’ve read them – but this is really not enough to diagnose people with mentall illness.
      But what you’ve done is even worse – you made a diagnosis based on incomplete and unrepresentative data. First – what is the amount of data you have? You have some public data from Thunderf00t videos and his blog and various fora activities. Thunderf00t has around 350 videos, each about 20 minutes, which if he’s arout 40 would constitute 0.000332 of his lifetime. Perhaps you could double it if you include blog posts and other activities. That’s quite incomplete – isn’t it? You have shown no knowlege what Thunderf00t does for the rest of his time, if he shows empathy, compassion or other of your “values” then.
      And also Thunderf00t’s videos are not representative information about him. His vlog is not about him at all, unlike some other vlogs that describe vlogger’s life. The public information from Thunderf00ts vlog is about other entities than himself – in it he talks about science and religions or religon ideologies (like christianity, creationism, and even non-theistic ones like Atheism+). Notice that for the latter coverage, the groups he covers are neither his ingroups, nor the groups his holds in high regard, so simply because of the profile of what he is doing you simply can’t find there much information about Thunderf00t attitude towards his ingroup or people whom he respects. There are also barely any direct informations about himself in his vlog and other public performances – again this is a profile of what he is doing. An notice it’s not a bad profile – going straight to the topic without storytelling about someones personal life saves time ot the viewers, makes it easy to avoid influence of personality over the contents.
      And from this lack of representative information you derive your unauthorized, non-competent diagnosis.
      Notice that by the newer trends in medicine even if you were authorized in a formal way, had the real qualifications, and had the information about symptoms – this may not be enough to make a diagnosis that would be regarded as quality one by the newest standards in medicine. It’s because right now the professionals start to realize, that it’s good to look (with SPECT, MRI) at the organ itself (the brain) before determining if it is working right. Symptom-description-based diagnosis is soon going to be a thing of the past. I’d recommend you to watch some of Daniel Amen’s videos. He has clinics where the customers can do SPECT scans of their brains to check for potential problems. By the way – he’s the guy who leads a health care program in some churches. Do Christians as a set have a much better medical diagnosis capacity than Atheism+ followers as a set?
      Examples:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_j9nlQelbU
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLKj1puoWCg
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y76VEKch39U
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMzi0kvcKR0

      So where’s your evidence in the form of SPECT scan of Thunderf00t’s brain?
      ————————————-
      Appendix number 1 – Technical correction of errors and fallacies:
      a) Richard wrote: “Conversely, non-sociopaths do not treat out-groups sociopathically. Because most such people have compassion, and believe in being honest and reasonable.” The mistake (or conscious manipulation) was was generalizing “most” from his justification to “all” in his statement.
      Justification: “Because MOST such people…” Most can mean like 70% or 2/3 or basically whatever above 50%. In an informal language “most” is not used for “all”, unilaterality is so rare that it is a custom to emphasised it by the special words.
      It means that from the justification we can conclude that there may (logical meaning) or is (colloquial meaning) a group of people who are not socipaths but “treat outgroups sociopathically”. (Does saying “treating someone sociopathically” even make sense?).
      So if your justification is “because MOST non-sociopaths”, then the only justified conclusion is “conversly MOST non-sociopaths do not treat out-groups sociopathically”.
      So even if you had proven proven the assertion that Thunderf00t “treats the outgroup group sociopathically”, then the weakness of your justification would only lead to conclusion that he might be in one of the following groups:
      – the minority of non-sociopaths that “treat the outgroup sociopathically”/
      – sociopaths.
      b) I wrote: “So basically to properly diagnose various disorders you need to know person’s ATTITUDE towards his ingroups (if it’s OK then a person is not a psychopath). ”
      Richard’s response included the following: “Sociopaths are perfectly capable of TREATING” and “non-sociopaths do not TREAT”.
      I’ve emphasized the manipulation by writting the changed word in all caps. According to the dictionary attitude includes INTERNAL STATE of the person: “manner, disposition, feeling, position, etc., with regard to a person or thing; tendency or orientation, especially OF THE MIND: a negative attitude; group attitudes. ”
      The word “treatment” on the other hand is about EXTERNALLY visible behavior: “action or behavior toward a person, animal, etc.”.
      Notice: it does relate to SPECT scans – they measure INTERNAL state of the brain, while talking about behavior only tries guessing it. So perhaps one of your many major mistakes is that in your “diagnosis” you process only information about the external actions and behaviors, instead of internal states of mind? All in the context of not enough information to diagnose anything anyway.
      So basically what my message was conveying is that if Thunderf00t’s attitude (which includes internal state of mind!) towards his ingroups (whatever they are – family, close friends etc.) is OK, then for sure he’s not a sociopaths. The other parts of my texts, as well as this new post prove that you don’t have enough information about Thunderf00t’s life and state of mind to determine if his attitude towards his ingroups is OK, or not OK. Therefore you don’t have enough information to falsify the statement “Thunderfoot is not a sociopath”. And before you falsify it you can’t claim that Thunderf00t is a sociopath.
      c) Starting an answer with “This is all incorrect”. Really? All of it? Only a Sith deals in absolutes :-)

    • says

      I have no idea what you find objectionable about that discussion, or why you think it is representative of A+ (if I found the same discussion on a regular atheism forum, you would not conclude that it represented all of atheism, so why are you making that very mistake here?).

    • says

      @sorrybut, so you think because a user was banned in that thread they didn’t say or do anything elsewhere in the forum? That there is no history there already of bad faith?

      Personally I have no idea why hamilton was banned, not really seen xyr on the forums so cannot comment. But you can see all the banned users here ->
      http://atheismplus.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=1258

      Given the vast majority are there to troll including vicious behaviours such as sending disturbing images to rape survivors and posting porn on the forum I don’t know why the anti-A+ lot make such a big deal out of bans. Well I do as its a self fulfilling argument – bans are wrong -> troll forum, get banned -> A+ is baaad! Of course none of it is further evidence of atheists being sexists or shitheels, oh no, its all A+’s fault.

    • sorrybut says

      Sorry, should have clarified. A user got banned in that discussion for a bit of snark and disagreement. Indeed, I found nothing objectionable about the *discussion*.

      Surely, he must have been a monster previous to that thread. I checked their posting history and didn’t find anything different from their behavior in that thread.

      That kind of atmosphere isn’t conducive to discussion. Even if one fully supports Atheismplus’s values, seeing that kind of thing go on in a *major venue* dedicated to the project might turn them off.

      I’m not sure that even you with your vocal support for A+ and its values would last for more than a few discussions in there.

    • says

      sorrybut, I apologise in advance for sounding didactic however I am not familiar with your pseudonym from other Internet forums. For all I know, you are one of the people who commented in the A+ forum thread, but under a different name. People often gain a reputation from general recognition of a persistent pseudonym – I am the same ‘Xanthë’ who posts occasionally at David Futrelle’s blog ManBoobz or at the A+ forums as well as the other blogs here at FtB. The comment thread you link to seems somewhat innocuous but I guess you have highlighted it because a commenter gets banned, in which you are committing the mistake of second-guessing the moderation decisions. Since I don’t recognise your name as one of the moderation team, I would also guess you are probably less than ideally informed that:

      • a number of moderators had judged the majority of that commenter’s posts to be negative contributions, rather than constructive and community-building; AND
      • the same commenter had already been given a temporary ban for rule infringement; AND
      • the same commenter had already been given a specific warning by a moderator upon returning from the temporary ban and indulging in problematic behaviour, which involved them harassing another forum member (this is a real no-no!); AND
      • the same commenter then ignored the warning and again made a bullying comment to the same person whom they had been warned to leave alone.

      Moderators don’t usually act to ban people from individual incidences of bad behaviour (albeit depending on how egregious that behaviour is, some commenters have been banned for displaying bad faith from their first post onwards). The norm is to enforce bans in cases of sustained, repeated patterns of bad behaviour. What you seem to have in common with ‘critics’ of the moderation decisions at the A+ forums is cherry picking one example without looking at the totality of behaviour that resulted in a moderation decision.

      The criticism “I think many people are turned off by that kind of thing and not necessarily the overarching values” is nebulous: the A+ forums are not meant to cater for everyone – for example, people who see no importance in social justice issues are unlikely to find the forums are welcoming and convivial for them. That’s not a bug, it’s a feature. So the rest of your complaint is a tone argument, which again may delineate a double standard on your part – have you complained at similar length about the far more egregious behaviour which I outlined in my comment above at #69.2, here?

    • cubist says

      Dr. Carrier, I suspect this comment may be the specific bit of that discussion which inspired sorrybut to focus on said discussion. Or not, I dunno. [shrug]

  67. maudell says

    Richard, I commend you for your patience. I just spent two hours reading the comments and I’ve reached oversaturation.

    First widespread dissonnance I noticed is the selective “the trolls aren’t atheists” arguments. It’s theists posing as atheists to make us look bad (no true Scotsman, anyone?). Only it seems to be their position just when it works for them. With the same logic, one can assume that your talk got massively upvoted by atheists, but all these Christians downvoted it to make atheists look bad. Oh, and as an extension, you can’t prove that the negative comments in this thread aren’t actually from a theistic mob.

    While it’s the exact same argument, the same people who claim r/atheism is populated by fake atheists somehow find their argument that your downvotes is a proof that atheists disagree with your radical proposition of not sh*tting on other atheists (because proposing to not sh*t on other atheists is divisive againsts those who wish to smear sh*t for the lulz).

    And what’s with the Matt Dillahunty argument? After having been banned, Dillahunty clearly said he stood for what atheism + stands for, and that he had been banned for violating their comment policy. That makes him the anti-atheism + leader now? One can disagree with their policy (I for one have no desire to take place in the forum, but I fail to see why I should fight against other people’s right to have a forum with like-minded people without being JAQed off relentlessly), but comment policies on a forum have nothing to do with whether you support a set of values.

    I wonder if these commenters understand that they are making your point for you. The main point of bringing up this topic is not recruitment, it’s not to widen our appeal (though it may be a positive consequence of a change). The important part is that there are a lot of atheists who give up the movement (or never participate) because of this attitude.

    And if numbers are any indication of being correct, I guess all you people will be converting to Christianity now, being the majority religion in the US.

    It is strange to see how many people are not actually answering to anything that’s proposed, but to an imaginary feminist instead (probably Stalin, who clearly championned first wave feminism). Special thanks to the guy who compared the proposition of respecting people equally regardless of their gender to allowing animals to participate in the movement. Stay classy.

    I’m not sure who they are referring to when they mention all these “radical feminists” (they clearly don’t know what it means, none of the usual “targets” are. Shocker – “radfem” does not mean “a feminist who is radical” it actually refers to a type of feminism).

    As I am getting more interested in participating in the online atheist community, I do pause to think about the proper way to do it. I am baffled at anyone that assumes that being silent about harassment is the “strong thing to do”, while pointing out a problem is being a victim (as you mentioned, no one thought Richard Dawkins was being a professional victim when he read his hate mail on youtube). Anyone who thinks women or minorities benefit from going public about harassment is a moron. And they lack consistency, whether they benefit from it (because they have the support of other atheists) or they don’t (because according to the same people, the harassment is totally acceptable behaviour to most atheists). You can’t have it both ways.

    As I’m toying with the idea of being more active in the atheist community, I think if I were the target of so much harassment, I would stay silent and withdraw. Because I don’t have the backbone to fight it off. Being silent is not the strong thing to do. Facing more harassment in pointing things out is the strong thing to do. One thing that I know is that whenever I don’t disclose my gender, I get a lot less insults. That is well documented (and the studies already made need follow-ups to uncover the problem), not only as personal anecdotal evidence. Is hiding my gender the solution to lower sexism in the atheist community? Hardly. But a lot of women are really sick and tired of having to defend the wild idea of being an outspoken skeptic/atheist AND a vagina owner. Believe it or not, they would rather talk about things that actually interest them. Men face problems too, and it should be addressed if we want to keep a vibrant community. We can walk and chew gum at the same time, people.

    Now, to those who say racial or women’s issues have nothing to do with the atheist movement, think it through. There’s the obvious fact that if we want the requirement to take part in the movement to be “being an atheist” we need to not treat certain atheists with less respect based on their ethnic background or gender. Saying “I have a black friend” or “I’m not a racist but…” doesn’t cover everything. This doesn’t mean that being white and male makes you a bad person. No one serious is arguing that. But on the “belief” front, there are good reasons why we should care about these issues (for those who are interested: you are perfectly entitled to debunk Noah’s Ark ad nauseam). If we fight for the removal of religious icons in public places, we should also fight against religious dictates on women’s health backed by the state. When this comes up, there’s always people crying that women’s rights aren’t part of atheism, but provide no secular arguments to back it up.

    Finally, I would like to mention that I have my reserves about atheism +, and I don’t associate with it in any way. However,I can’t see why so many people feel threatened by it. Nowhere in this talk have I felt diminished for not associating with atheism +. I guess when people raise problems about harassers, the hat just doesn’lt fit me. If it doesn’t fit you, breathe in, breathe out, your not the topic of the talk.

    Thumbs up, Dr. Carrier.

  68. JohnRoberts86 says

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/files/2012/08/communityvenn.png

    I have a question about the Venn diagram describing then “A+” movement above. I could be wrong, but it after reading through the comments on recent blogs it seems obvious that you believe there is no room in between A+ and those who do not believe in compassion and reasonableness.

    “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.”

    This puts basically everyone who is not a misogynist as a part of A+ does it not? The Venn diagram however shows a large amount of atheists in neither the “CHUD”, “Jackholes”, or “A+” category. The diagram seems to contradict the statements that suggest all reasonable and compassionate atheists fall into the A+ group. How is it possible, by your definition, to be outside of the A+ group but not be inside the other “miscreants” categories?

  69. GrzeTor says

    Richard – what are the statistics for frequency of harrasment in atheist community? How do they compare to general population, or other groups – Muslims, Hindus, Buddishists etc.? What are the sources you get the numbers for frequency of harrasment from?

    • GrzeTor says

      Like the number of harrasments, rapes etc. things that bother you per year per 100 000 people. For Atheists, for a general population, as well as for Christians and for Muslims separately for comparison. Numbers, not words. Does Rebecca Watson publish such numbers (not words)?

    • says

      I still don’t fathom your point.

      Is this a really ham-fisted attempt to claim that the frequency of harassment of prominent atheist women might be so low we shouldn’t be worried about it? If so, I have already extensively documented the fact that its frequency is large enough to be a serious problem. So that can’t be what you are getting at.

      As to the relevance of rapes, I fail to see what that has to do with anything I discuss in my article or this comment thread.

  70. Skeptical Atheist says

    69.3

    Richard Carrier
    “Dillahunty resolved that issue. Funny how reasonable people can do that.”

    You’ve stated on more than one occasion that Mat Dillahunty and the Atheism+ forum have “resolved that issue”

    If you’re aware of Dillahunty and the Atheism+ forum mods and members having a recent interaction where they resolve their issues in an amicable fashion, please post a link.

    Here are some quotes from the last interaction that I’m aware of between Dillahunty and the mods and members at the Atheism+ forum.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2012/10/06/matt-i-really-think-you-owe-them-an-apology/

    Flewellyn,
    “S’fine with me, stainless.
    Look, Matt, we’re upset. We’re probably going to be upset for a while. But we still appreciate the work you’ve done, you’re still someone we admire. We’re not going to keep fighting over this, Matt. In spite of all of this, you’ve been an awesome atheist spokesman and one of our relentless defenders. Take care, and maybe we can try talking again later?”
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2012/10/06/matt-i-really-think-you-owe-them-an-apology/#comment-83845

    Matt Dillahunty,
    “Your feelings were hurt – in my opinion – by your own false expectations, your insular community and by a conversation so poisonous that you’re unable to tell friend from foe. Oh no! It turns out that this person that I assumed was a foe (based on content I never saw) was actually a friend?! Well, let’s find a way to shame them for not clearly identifying themselves as a friend, first.”
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2012/10/06/matt-i-really-think-you-owe-them-an-apology/#comment-83852

    Matt Dillahunty,
    “Jason,
    “nobody’s attacking anyone”
    …despite their admission and evidence to the contrary. Thanks.
    Close the thread if you like. I won’t be back to this one.”
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2012/10/06/matt-i-really-think-you-owe-them-an-apology/#comment-83855

    Flewellyn,
    “A week? Try a month at least.
    I am pretty exhausted by all of this.”
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2012/10/06/matt-i-really-think-you-owe-them-an-apology/#comment-83856

    Setar,
    “You acted like a troll. We responded in kind. Apologize, or deal with it.”
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2012/10/06/matt-i-really-think-you-owe-them-an-apology/#comment-83860

    If by “resolve” you mean “not having anything to do with the other party.” Than they have indeed resolved there differences.

  71. TretiaK says

    While I don’t agree with a lot of what you’ve said recently, I must say this post was excellent and well-done, and I agree with it. Good job!

  72. says

    @ PaulCHartley

    In his video … he talks about appealing to minorities when promoting atheism and he calls you a moron for looking to grow the movement by looking towards a minority of a minority.

    Now, while I pass no judgment regarding the validity of the arguments being put forward, I must point out that he is entirely correct when he shows his “cartoonish” graph and says that atheism in the US is a minority, and further, I would contend that the atheist plus and social justice movement within the atheist movement is an even smaller minority within that minority.

    Actually, we fully realise we need to gain people from the “red” area of the “cartoonish” (I am with you here) graph. But to draw people from there we need to get the “green” (atheist) part of the graph in order. We need to make it a welcoming community. To do that requires that we create such a community for minorities too. That means that we appeal to everyone. Under both of the “cartoonish” graphs. I am at a loss as to what you think the alternative is.

    (One alternative that is unfolding, is to shrink the “green” area, by making it a horrible place for women and minorities. This appears to be Thunderf99t’s modus operandi, along with all manner of libertarian and MRA atheists. I need hardly explain how narrow-minded such an approach is.)

    falling as PZ apparently gets more involved with matters relating to social justice.

    We note that people jumped ship, in droves, from the Democratic Party to the Republicans when the former became involved with social justice issues. We all see how that worked out in the end.

    Dr Phil’s logic, you would therefore have to be an idiot if you thought that you were going to make any headway against the overwhelming majority if you only looked towards dealing with issues relating to a minority of a minority,

    Ok, I’ll come out and say it: “Dr Phil” is an idiot (ἰδιώτης) who knows nothing about marketing. There is no “headway against”. There are only potential atheists, potential allies. Not people we are “against”. Do yourself a favour and look up the “conversion model” as to why people switch brands (or religions for that matter). We market ourselves by being appealing, not appealing to false images of a “war” to be “won”.

  73. Nice guy says

    Luckily, no one has to accept or use the label A+ and can define pretty good without it where he stands, there is a huge tradition of philosophy that covers everything you need. For me, f.e., I am an
    atheist, a human rights activist, a skeptic, a fan of science.

    F.e., here on freethought blogs writes a real hero of mine, Maryam Namazie, who I would call a human rights activist.

    She should be honored because she is a real activist, while f.e. Rebecca Watson is no activist.

    Maryam luckily does not take part on this nonsense discussion what feminism in the atheist community should be, she fights for important things.

    • Nice guy says

      @Richard:
      I don’t see an argument in my post. I just said that , at least for me and I would bet for any atheist, it is not necessary to define more terms to describe who I or someone else sees the world.
      Maryam would not be appalled precisely because she has much more important things to do at the moment than to follow arguments concerning mere words, how to define things.
      It reminds me of ‘Farmer Giles from Ham’ by Tolkien. While the Farmer is the real hero in that story, the professional fighters, the knights, are constantly concerned with issues of appearance, fashion, rank, etc.
      There are women in this world who really need help and what does the atheist community do? Fighting over words.
      By the way: If you search the net for Maryam Namazie in the net you find as the first item:

      Maryam Namazie – Human Rights Activist
      http://www.maryamnamazie.com/

      So she herself defines here as an Human Rights Activist.

    • says

      I don’t see any relevance to any of that, nor any basis for your opinions about what she’d think.

      This is starting to sound like concern trolling to me.

  74. other dave says

    Sigh,

    It’s when I encounter Ph.Ds like you that I realize, once again, the toxic nature of most Ph.D programs and their students.

    Is it self-selection? Or something about abused children grow up to be abusers?

    Are there Ph.D programs or departments or schools that do not produce such arrogant sociopaths?

    • says

      Because defending compassion, honesty, and reasonableness and calling for a more morally responsible and caring community is “toxic.”

      And cows don’t have udders, a horse doesn’t whinny, up is down, and sideways is straight ahead.

  75. says

    Personally I find it shocking that anyone pays attention to what thunderf00t says. He might be strong on the science but is particularly weak on anything else and seems incapable of interacting with anything beyond the sphere of ‘hard science’. His whole obsession with YouTube Likes/Dislikes as a way of appraising a particular position is symptomatic of his inability to talk meaningful about any non-scientific topic. It appears that he believes such popularity votes can verify/falsify a particular opinion.

    I don’t think thunderf00t is a sociopath. I have seen discussions online regarding whether he may have aspergers, which to me would provide a better explanation of some of his behavior.

    • says

      I disagree. Aspergers entails difficulty socializing and communicating. TF is far too manipulative and smooth. And I’ve sewn him socialize just fine. On AS see here and here. Those with AS have difficulty reading emotion, but do not typically wholly lack compassion for others. (To the contrary, they more typically express frustration at not understanding other people; they don’t usually go on screeds condemning them.) And they are not characterized by persistently deceptive and manipulative behavior.

  76. Gwen says

    My son was so happy to get to take a picture with tfoot at the Reason Rally last year. Of course tfoot began to show his true colors soon after and the picture has been consigned to the trash heap. Tfoot is a David Mabus with a following. :( Makes him much more dangerous. I think he is enjoying all of this. The more outrageous he gets, the more his minions cheer him. I wonder where it will end. Hopefully, as the totally discredited man he is.

  77. lawmed says

    The author has little understanding of the 4th amendment apparently: “Evidently, he despises the entire Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which declares “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.” He engaged in a warrantless search and seizure of our private papers. And doesn’t even think it’s wrong.”

    I make no judgment as to whether there was an invasion of privacy as I point out that the 4th Amendment’s search and seizure provisions apply ONLY to the government. ONLY the government is required to obtain a warrant prior to searching and seizing privately held property. Thunderf00t in fact could NOT obtain a “warrant” to search anyone’s private property, ever, since only law enforcement charged with such duties can obtain warrants for a search. This paragraph is indicative of the remainder of the article’s continued hyperbole and over the top rhetoric. “He despises the entire Fourth Amendment” is an absurd self serving and gratuitous inclusion which, rather than being clever or damning, is an incredibly damning indictment of the intellectual effort represented in this posting. I am embarrassed for you.

    • Joe says

      Richard I wish you would stop straw manning, its fairly obvious a large portion of human beings are compassionate by nature. Disagreeing with you doesn’t remove that as a one of their concerns.

      Most of us don’t need to be taught compassion, we certainly don’t need a lesson from you on such a subject. Atheism has zero, zilch, not a thing to do with compassion. The term “plus” has zero, zilch, not a thing to do with compassion.

      Atheism is simply the disbelief in a theological god/entity. Why try to dilute it into something that it is not?

      When critical (some) thinkers tell you to drop the nonsense you are currently promoting they don’t mean, be less compassionate or caring for others, the simply are saying stop trying to give atheism a belief system.

      Critical thought leads to its own belief system, telling critical thinkers how they should approach a situation while arguing from authority just makes you look like a theist.

      As for being honest, again this has zero, zilch, not a thing to do with atheism. Humans are all inherently flawed and will all lie to some varying degree, easy even you Richard shocking I know. Also being honest all the time can hurt people, I simply dislike certain people due to their personality or other traits. If I where an honest man I would tell them how much I dislike them but that wouldn’t be the compassionate thing to do.

      And reasonableness is such a nonsense term I don’t even know where to begin. Your “sound judgment” can be horrifying to others as could anyone’s. The only way to deem the how reasonable one is, is through society at large and past experience. Society has already judged you to be less than reasonable Richard looking at your poor speech approval rating.

      The problem is, you have become so unreasonable that rather than understanding that maybe you where wrong and changing your stance you have taken the alternative root. That root being, argument from authority and dismissing the poor approval rating of your video by dismissing a large portion of the viewers to poorly educated trolls.

      The fact of the matter is most people simply don’t like what you preach, am not going to argue that there is much harm in your ideas, am British I don’t need atheist conversions everyone I know under the age of 40 are already atheists.

      But let me make a low blow and point one thing out, even if a group of 10,000 people agree with you, it does’t make this atheist + movement any less silly. Am sure you could find 1,000,000 people that agree with a certain christian ideal set.

    • says

      Atheism is simply the disbelief in a theological god/entity. Why try to dilute it into something that it is not?

      Dilute what? All I’m saying is that the organized atheist community should embrace more than just being atheists. That they should be humanists and responsible skeptics as well. That’s not diluting. It’s improving. Do you honestly think atheists shouldn’t also be humanists and skeptics? And do you really want to live and work in a community of cruel, dishonest, unrepentantly unreasonable people? Because that’s essentially what you are saying. And it’s mad.

  78. says

    Just stop trying to represent atheism. What you represent is extremely distasteful to me, and has nothing to do with atheism, but calling yourself “Atheism+” sends the message that we’re in the same group… and people judge based on groups. Stop making atheists look like whining sexist professional victims and we’ll stop being pissed about it. Or, at least, I’ll stop being pissed about it. About other people, I can only assume.

    • says

      [I let thus comment through moderation to illustrate again the kind of crap we are dealing with just trying to stand up for our own peers and for basic human values and a better community.]

    • snowman says

      Richard, surely it registers somewhere in your brain that so many people are saying you make a WORSE community by your actual actions, and that they are not commenting on your intentions???

      But then you go and post your “Na-na-na-na, I can’t hear you” response anyway?

      Why do you deliberately make yourself look like such an unintelligent clown with your replies?

    • says

      But then you go and post your “Na-na-na-na, I can’t hear you” response anyway?

      Link to any comment by me that constitutes what you mean by a “Na-na-na-na, I can’t hear you” response.

    • snowman says

      Your reply just now to me, ignoring the obvious one just above that I replied to, and then a hundred others with your hand on heart about your beautiful intentions when people say your actions are despicable.

      Did you hear that???

      If anyone inside Richard’s head can hear this, wake him up!

  79. Ben says

    Bro,

    If TF00t is a sociopath, a claim for which you present no evidence (other than the fact that he hurt your evidently delicate feelings), then you are a histrionic narcissist.
    Atheism+ is nothing but a way for self indulgent posers to take credit for ideals already pushed by others… And an attempt to turn atheism into a fringe dogma.

    Cheers,
    Ben

    • says

      Actually, I presented evidence for nearly every major marker of sociopathy. So, nice try. But your version of reality doesn’t sell here.

      And as for what A+ is really all about (including the fact that I didn’t invent it, nor even named it, and never claimed to have done either), my video already refutes your false representation of it.

      So, troll begone.

  80. Tuomas Rimppi says

    With all respect, Carrier, but I don’t think that further defaming the opposition is going to take the conversation to any better direction. We’re already having more than enough silly drama in the atheist movement, and I for one don’t wish to associate myself with A+ if character assassination is the kind of method it’s leading proponent are using. This whole thing is (increasingly) starting to resemble american presidential elections.

    • says

      Telling the truth is not defamation. Especially when you document it with evidence and sound reason.

      If only presidential elections did that. The world would be a better place!

  81. Nokkelanimimerkki says

    You, sir, are a good example of dishonesty and oppression. You are mirroring your worst things into thunderf00t and totally blind in seeing them in you. Claiming without any evidence thunderf00t is a sociopath is just showing how dishonest you can go, just to dig in deeper in your trench. Can’t you see even your own confirmation bias?

    And of course you don’t allow dissenting comments to be shown, that could break your little confirmation bias bubble.

    • says

      Extensively documenting /= claiming without evidence.

      And…

      Posting every comment so far found in my queue /= not allowing dissenting comments to be shown.

      So, nice try. But we live in reality here. Not the delusional wonderland that seems to have bogged your mind.

  82. Patricia says

    This article is a bunch of hooey. TF is clearly NOT arguing for less empathy. He is arguing against starting a movement with all of the cult-like aspects it despises in religions.

    Carrier, you’re losing the battle. Big time. People massively side with TF on this issue, leaving you and the bleaters in your camp without any support to speak of. Why are you SO intent on splitting the movement over this? What gain could you possible be seeking from this charade?

    • says

      Cult-like aspects like compassion, honesty, reasonableness, caring about our community and each other, and critically improving ourselves and the world.

      Right. That’s so very cult-like. The implication is that because you deem these things cult-like and therefore bad, that you therefore reject them.

      Which tells us all we need to know about you.

      Stay the fuck away from me.

    • Patricia says

      What you’re doing right now is nothing but the old tactic of “Poisoning the Well”: you describe anybody who dares to criticize you as immoral and dishonest, so you don’t have to address the actual criticism. I don’t think I have to tell you that this is a highly disingenuous way of dealing with opposing views.

      It’s also PRECISELY this kind of behavior that garners you the criticism of being a cult leader trying to shut out views that don’t match the party-line you’re defending. It’s the exact same tactic used by church leaders when they try to discredit atheists.

      You really have to ask yourself whether THIS is the way you want to be viewed.

    • says

      You are simply lying. I do not declare “anyone” who criticizes me anything. I show they are wrong, or correct myself if they are not.

      The only people I call dishonest here are those I can demonstrate are actually lying. And the only people I call uncompassionate here are people who actually demonstrate cruelty.

      You have no evidence of it being otherwise.

      So take your sanders somewhere else.

  83. says

    Dr. Carrier,

    If I may, for you and others here, I have quite a bit of information regarding the context of my engagement with Dr. Mason that may be of some interest to you.

    Though the ‘official story’ may seem worth accepting given the propensity for many ‘enlightened’ individuals to see Muslims as barbaric primitive cave-dwellers, I can assure you my side of things is worthy to take note of and would benefit your understanding of Dr. Mason’s sociopathic behavior.

    Im sure you can get ahold of my email if you’re interested. If not, do tell and Ill point you to my YT channel where we can communicate via PM.

    – Asadullah

    • says

      Private communications won’t help me or the community. If you have public links (blogs, docs, videos) that cover what you want people to know about what actually happened, then by all means post them here.

    • says

      Dr Carrier (and everyone else). The actual context of the situation between I and thunderf00t can be found in the following links prior to the supposed “doc drop”:

      My video explaining the entire context of his statements as well as my own and his poor behavior:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AhCpiWoLXug

      Videos from Atheists on YT explaining the context of my words and thunderf00ts:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AIQBg635i9k

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ChAQZX3YA68

      There are several more as well. So this is the beginning of what happened and this pushed me to eventually contact his employer as a result of his sociopathic behavior. Many people had called the FBI on me as a result of his slander/libel and I attempted on various occasions to clear this up with him PRIOR to taking the next necessary steps to protect myself and my family (as litigation is far more public and expensive, I felt complaining to his employer, which was an academic institution, was the next best step). He then spun THAT action by stating I had “doc dropped” him and released all his personal information online. The fact is, that he had released his own name a few months prior to my own actions and it was given by OTHER atheists on the web:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHAxmGHRRIE

      So he used PZ and HealthyAddict to make me into his scapegoat — the “evil Muslim trying to kill him for his freespeech”.

      All the while I’ve received numerous death threats to me and my family, calls to the authorities and harassment for years now because he doesn’t want to consider me a human being and instead prefers to use me for his propaganda campaign.

      Thanks for listening.

      – Asadullah

    • says

      Thank you. This is all helpful. And I’m sorry to hear about all that fallout. It’s precisely the kind of bullshit I’m fighting against (and that TF is amorally defending).

    • says

      Dr. Carrier,

      I just want to say, thank you for giving your time to hear my story. I truly appreciate it. Very few will listen to me because of the stereotypes and the fact that everyone takes his word for it.

      I truly appreciate your consideration in viewing the materials and listening to my side of things.

      Take care.

      – Asadullah

  84. SicSemperTyrannis says

    Disclaimer: What you are about to read is quite offensive (to those who get offended easily), and about 50% opinionated and 50% factual.
    I will say that, no matter how angry this may seem, I still respect others views as their own, because I have no right to judge the things of other people, nor have the arrogance to deem people a certain way (Yes that was directly pointed at you Richard.)

    I often thought to myself that all atheists stood together against every religious body in the world….then I found out that there is a movement that wants to bring this “new atheism” to light, and that would shun the “atheism minus” people…or whatever. What is there to bring a new?
    Atheism plus is a rehashing of the SAME EXACT stuff said for aeons past by philosophers, etc, and is in no way creative, because what was stated for Atheism plus is what I ultimately deduced when I was like 14…and it’s taken you this long to realize that atheism should be for humanism? I mean shit, even the group Anonymous has been doing it correctly since their conception.

    Now, on the topic at hand.
    I saw a comment from you Richard that stated that “concerned: obsessed….the same thing am iright?”
    What? What? No…being concerned is like when you see something happen and you go to help, and you say to the person “Are you alright”, etc, where as being obsessed is like, seeing something happen, and instead of going to help the person, you reason to yourself that you go after the other person (the one who caused harm, either by accident or by purpose) and stagnating over what happened IN THE PAST, and then ultimately would kill him/her.
    Do you see the difference yet?
    Furthermore, the fact that you bring up that “Thunderf00t is a sociopath” is just rhetorical nonsense. You were brought up in the U.S. (as was I), a society that is nothing but sociopathic. I do not deny this because I have come to terms with the fact that I do have sociopathic tendencies, BUT i do not let that overwhelm me, for I try to do what is correct in my eyes. I try with all my being to empathize and sympathize with all the people I meet REGARDLESS what their standings, since that is what ultimate respect is. (Which you lack)
    Ugh, I went off topic…anyway. Like I was saying, We were brought up in the U.S. the number one sociopathic nation there is (if you deny this to be true, I am sorry for you), and the fact that you whom play professional victim hood is a type of sociopathy. It also gets annoying that you think you’re entitled to be offended by something, when in reality, you have no rights towards such offenses, and should move on.

    Now, there is something that quite irritates me about people like you. How your mind set is, is as follow, “Oh no, someone speaks out against my view, I shall get as butthurt as possible, and obsess over this until my whining gets noticed,” that is how I see Modern day Feminism (notice how i put modern feminism and not original feminism, because, whether you believe it or not, they are different……quite different), and those who support Atheism Plus, and who get extremely offended when someone speaks out against it.

    I feel there is too much time and effort put into this pointless squandering, that should be put towards humanitarian stuff for places in Africa, China, maybe North Korea, places in South America, etc, etc…and the fact that you BLATANTLY ignore these problems to push up your own agenda….is just so selfish, and out right childish.

    I guess I should end this sometime, or else I’d go on for ever.

    On an ending note, if you notice my name, it is “Sic Semper Tyrannis”, it is to say down with your Tyrannical Ideology, and up with independent thinking, not just free thinking, but independent, which means ABSENT a group telling you what to think (which is what Atheism Plus is trying to do). I know you’re going to be like “No it’s not, it’s blah blah blah,” your original goal was to not, I understand, but what comes out is something equal to that of a religious group or totalitarian state.

    I am Eli Bohannan, an Atheist, a Realist, a Humanist, but most importantly, I am me, and I will never lose that identity for any outside ideology.
    I strive to do what is right, what is correct, and I try to never hold hatred towards anyone, since hate only breeds more hate.
    Live and let live,
    Love and let love,
    Think and let be free.

    Please stop your petty squablings (I don’t care who started it first, it takes the better man to end it first) with Thunderf00t, he is a good man (harsh, and quite an asshole at times, yet who isn’t), and you seem to want to do what is right, and you have potential for a great man as well.
    Have a good day, or night.
    I bid thee farewell.
    Eli Jacob Bohannan.

    • says

      Your rant completely ignores everything I said in my video on what Atheism+ is and why it matters. It is therefore uninformed and useless. Get informed. Watch the video. Respond to what I have actually said. Not some weird straw man caricature of it.

    • SicSemperTyrannis says

      I watched the video, and like I said before, it is just a complete rehashing of what our predecessors have come up with. And if you believe it is important, than that’s fine, since that is your belief, but in reality it is just a pointless cry wolf.

      And, as I figured, you completely ignore any points I made, regardless if they have relevance to what is “specifically stated”, since I tried to be as broad and general as possible with getting out the agitation I feel towards self-fulfilling bigotry such as yours.

      You believe TF is a sociopath, so fucking what? That bears no relevance to any GOOD cause, since he is one man, with barely any pull in the world….it’s not like he’s Hitler, or Stalin.

      You believe that Atheism plus should be a new era of Atheism because there is so called “misogyny, racism, homophobia/biphobia/transphobia, ableism”, etc…..Those who believe there is misogyny, perpetuate the idea of misogyny, those who believe there is racism, perpetuate the idea of racism, etc, etc…and you’re doing justice to the cause.

      And even this
      “We are…
      Atheists PLUS we care about social justice,
      Atheists PLUS we support women’s rights,
      Atheists PLUS we protest racism,
      Atheists PLUS we fight homophobia and transphobia,
      Atheists PLUS we use critical thinking and skepticism.”

      Has already been a going trend by those who originally fought for things like this. You’re just shoving “problems” that have dwindled down (except homophobia/biphobia/transphobia, since it’s apparently still an issue) back into peoples mind, perpetuating idea’s that people should fight against things that are most, to all the way gone.

      Also, you should really look into investing into shit like, emerging technologies, emerging alternate energies, etc…instead of wasting your time of a frivolous cause. The same goes with those modern day extremist feminists, I think people call them feminazis, which you so righteously support.

      Fuck, I can feel I’ll start ranting again, and just start on pointing out a bunch of things which could be done, a billion times better, and by a better person than you.

      And after reading a days worth of your comments, I have lost what little respect I had for you, because it seems no matter what, you’ll just keep this professional victim hood up.

      As goes with everyone, have a good day, or night.

    • says

      …in reality it is just a pointless cry wolf.

      What’s the wolf in this analogy? I must have missed something.

      You believe TF is a sociopath, so fucking what? That bears no relevance to any GOOD cause, since he is one man, with barely any pull in the world….it’s not like he’s Hitler, or Stalin.

      False equivalence again. Just because Adolf Hitler is super bad doesn’t mean Fred Phelps is not bad at all, much less that we shouldn’t document and communicate all the ways the latter guy is bad and his attitudes are toxic to any society. Thus, by analogy, I have never claimed TF is as bad as Hitler or Stalin (rather, TF has claimed that of me, so you should really be upset at him for doing what you yourself just condemned). All I have claimed is what I can (and did) present abundant evidence of: that he has no empathy for other human beings and is a pathological liar and manipulator and therefore cannot be trusted nor should his values and attitudes be normalized, because any community that adopts them will destroy itself. And that definitely does matter.

      Those who believe there is misogyny, perpetuate the idea of misogyny, those who believe there is racism, perpetuate the idea of racism, etc,

      So you think racism and sexism and misogyny don’t exist? Hmmmm. So much for paying attention to the heaping reams of evidence we keep presenting to the contrary. When someone on my own blog claims we should not be reaching out to minorities because minorities commit more rapes and so we will only be causing more of our women to get raped, to then claim we don’t have any racism in our ranks is simply ludicrous. As for TF’s more subtle racism, the article you are here commenting on already documents that problem. As for sexism and misogyny, my article already has tons of links.

      Likewise, to believe there are no social justice issues (like all the examples I listed in my video, which you notably ignore and pretend don’t exist) is simply to be in denial of reality.

      The same goes with those modern day extremist feminists, I think people call them feminazis, which you so righteously support.

      Liar. I have often and prominently criticized and denounced extremist feminism. So, nice try. But your disinformation campaign won’t work here.

      So, here we have you, a liar who is completely out of touch with reality and denies vast quantities of existing and documented facts, and me, who isn’t and doesn’t.

      Which kind of person do we need more of in the atheist community?

      (That’s not a question directed at you. You are clearly too delusional and irrationally emotional to even grasp the question, much less the answer.)

  85. T.Crail says

    Having been introduced to both of these videos via a third source, I think I can safely say that I’m an independent.

    However, what I mostly get from viewing the videos, reading your blog and watching TF00t’s replying video, is that you are calling him a Sociopath simply for arguing that your viewpoint is wrong.

    Looking at the idea of Atheist Plus, I that you have your ideas the wrong way round. A lot of people (my self included) find atheist after believing in Equality, not the other way around. To proclaim you are better than others just for having this sect within the atheist community is illogical. The idea that we either adhere to your ideas or are against you is mad. Why can’t we just accept that some people will have slightly different views, and just concentrate on trying to better humanity as a whole; not focusing on individuals,

    • says

      He doesn’t even address my viewpoint, much less actually argue it’s wrong. What he argues is wrong is a bullshit straw man of things I and others never actually said.

      Extensive evidence of his dishonesty and manipulation and violation of privacy rights and complete lack of empathy for anyone whatever and complete lack of any sense of guilt or remorse or regret at any of his lies or his violations of us or his defense of despicable and cruel behavior against his own colleagues is indeed evidence of sociopathy. It is not just evidence of his disagreeing with me. Lots of people disagree with me, many even strongly and persistently, and I find no evidence of sociopathy in their behavior.

      We do not hold “slightly” different views. We are poles apart in basic human values. As my article documents in detail. And that you can’t even see why his values are destructive to any movement, while mine are the essential to the success of any movement, is sad to see. And worrying.

  86. says

    Honesty: I have not read your entire article and I clicked on the link for T-Foot’s video and just couldn’t bring myself to watch it. I’m watching your video now. I’ve watched Anita Sarkeesian video previously.

    I appreciate very much that you can dig through all this stuff, but I’m pretty much done with Thunderf00t. It’s unfortunate that others can’t see through some of his sh*t. After being one of the many that chewed through one of his posts on FtB and made a criticism of him essentially pointing and laughing at Surly Amy. I think I paid my dues there. So, please forgive me for not jumping into that again. I know it’s not polite to comment on a post you have not completely read; but I wanted to say something about the topic.

    I realize that unfortunately both he and The Amazing Atheist are extremely popular, so just ignoring them isn’t an option. Don’t read that as suggesting that we do.

    I doubt Thunderf00t is a good old fashioned Sociopath; though obviously I can’t make a strong positive assertion against the possibility, just based on what I know. I have an alternate explanation.

    I suggest that he is interpreting what you say through a very thick filter. He actually *hears* something different than what you are saying. That’s just good old fashioned confirmation bias.

    Having suffered through most of his first video about “Laughing at” Creationists, wondering why the heck he was so popular, and being pretty disgusted (as a teacher) that he targeted a young person to ridicule instead of the sources of the BS the young person was spouting, I really don’t perceive a difference in tactics as others have.

    If I was asked to psycho-analyze the man, given what I know, I suspect that he (like everyone else) gets a hit of happy-chemicals in his brain from being voted-up, agreed with, and having good-old fashioned *fans*. When he came to FtB and criticized other bloggers and atheists; instead of mentally ill teenagers or YouTube Muslims; he was completely unprepared for a real argument. He was humiliated, and the illusion that he’s some sort of intellectual heavy-weight; at least it would have been if he didn’t construct an alternate explanation in his head. Some fans were loudly leaving him, his friends were failing to push his happy-chemical buttons, and he essentially had an emotional break-down.

    My impression is that he is a hurt child attempting to protect his ego. He’s a bully. He’s trying to find embattled people to pick on. Why else would he make a video about Anita Sarkeesian? What does she have to do with the secular community? Atheism?

    If he was a sociopath, these hurts would not effect him. He wouldn’t have lashed out, but instead sat back and attempted to manipulate others to get what he wants.

    • says

      His persistent and unrepentant lying and manipulation of evidence, his unrepentant violation of our rights, and his failure to evince any empathy for any other human being, suggest this is more than his being victim of a delusional filter.

      Your prognosis is also incorrect: lashing out is in fact a typical sociopathic response to things not going their way. They routinely engage in efforts to deceive and manipulate people like this. Grandiosity and ego defense are standard features. Refusing to apologize or revise their position and instead doubling down is likewise typical. See links in the last paragraph here. TF scores near perfect on every list of criteria for sociopathy there is. See my comments on this point linked here.

      I have yet to see any evidence otherwise. And that is what worries me.

  87. gigamoi says

    I do not have the time to argue about why but I wanted you (the writer of this article) to know that, to my standard, you are a very poor critical thinker. You may happen to be an atheist but you are definitely not a skeptic. You don’t know how to apply the scientific method and logic properly. You are wrong and what you are doing is stupid. Your critics (or at least most of them) are right.

    I know that I am just giving my opinion and that am not making any point here butothers already did.

    • 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.

      Come on, Richard, less of the double standards

  88. Varun T. says

    Okay, I’d like to start off by saying that I’m a minority and I personally find the idea of Atheism+ to be disgusting.

    Lets start off with; why on earth would you ever split a minority of people (REAL Atheists) into a subdivision that is openly mocked and refuted by just about everybody who hears about them? Is this what you truly believe to be a logical way to further the Atheist movement? Or have you suffered a recent brain injury?

    Also, being an atheist is not about subscribing to any written down moral code. As an atheist you decide your own code, unlike in Atheism+ where you follow the written down rules that seem quite a bit like commandments to me personally. Not only that, but the ‘if you’re not with us, you’re against us’ speech? Are you a Bush fan or what?

    Sex jokes are jokes people make of their own accord to suit their own humour. Everybody’s humour is different, just as everyone’s opinions on things are different so you have no right to judge people’s humour, nor do you have the right to decide what humour is and isn’t appropriate for everybody in real atheist conferences. Just like you cannot decide whether people’s opinions on things are appropriate and ban them, nor can I decide that your movement resembles a cult of some sort and decide to ban you from conferences.

    Lastly, I’d understand that you believe that your new form of Atheism is brilliant and is a very effective way of furthering our joint cause. However, when the majority of online Atheist figures are against you its not wise to break up the community because as I’v e mentioned before we are the minority and we need more people joining our cause. Even Richard Dawkins who is considered to be the figurehead of the Atheist community by almost everybody on earth has refuted your claims. So when the Atheist movement is moving forwards and is coming along well (slowly, but surely) this is a terrible time for you to try and cripple the efforts of Atheists everywhere with this ridiculous movement.

    • says

      This is ignorant bullshit that ignores every single thing I explain in my video, about what A+ is and why it’s good for the community.

      If you are going to go on rants that don’t even show any awareness of what we’ve even said or argued, what value is your opinion?

  89. Justin says

    I have watched a video of yours and I do have one question are you a closet racist? I do mean this in honesty after watching one of your videos when you were talking about discussing a deeper point you always said “with the whiter community” so I do pose that question to you are you a closet racist?

  90. Omhra says

    Richard Carrier,
    You are disingenuous.

    You just want to gain power from those who would “follow” your “movement”..

    You are damaging to the intellectual armature of atheists.
    We don’t care what you protest. You don’t get to tell us what we should feel empathy or sympathy towards.
    You try to judge us? You sham.
    Every thing you say speaks of you desire to label and regulate, you fail to understand the freedom of atheism, you fool.
    You talk a lot, but say nothing a religion has not said already.

    • says

      That you think this has anything to do with power (what power?) belies your delusionality.

      All I want is an atheist community that stands up for compassion, honesty, and reasonableness and works toward bettering itself and the world.

      Why you would want anything else is beyond me. And not a little disturbing.

  91. Dan Yalle says

    You are not amusing. A+ is a joke with nothing more then professional babies. One cannot respect your points when you decide to do republican tactics and glen beck-isms.

    I am for womens rights, but what you are doing is nothing more then censorship of people. There were people fired due to thumb drives to do a professional victim.

    Do you want people to support you? then you need to grow up. To get rid of sexism, trying to hide it, censor it, and push it down will do nothing more then make the problem worse. Want to know how to beat it? Accept it exists and do not tolerate the real cases of it. Just because someone makes a dick joke, it is not sexism.

    Grow up.

    • SicSemperTyrannis says

      Richard,

      You say that atheists have a lot to learn about critical thinking, and you deduce this from comments on here?

      That is a huge bearing that you’ve put on the atheist community based on the actions of a select few.

      Dillahunty was definitely right, but it readily applies to you.

    • says

      Certainly, if you mistook me for saying “all” atheists. But I think most people understand from the context that isn’t what I was saying. And in the off chance not, here I am explicitly saying that that isn’t what I meant. Problem solved. See how easy that was?

  92. Dan Yalle says

    And modding comments to give yourself the ability to boost your ego is nothing more then narcissistic and does nothing more then prove the weakness of your movement. If you cannot stand up to ridicule from everyone, you will fail.

    • says

      So says any douchebag.

      Moderating a forum is not narcissism. I don’t think you actually know what that word means.

      And standing up to cruelty is never any plausible argument for endorsing or allowing that cruelty. So whether or not I can or have stood up to it has no bearing on whether you should condemn it and oppose it wherever you can.

      I suspect you are somehow claiming I have blocked comments here. In fact, I have so far accepted all of them. I won’t necessarily, as comments must meet my comments policy. A policy that is entirely reasonable.

  93. anomaly says

    Who is actually more toxic to atheism?

    – Difficult to answer. Only sure of less or more toxic compliments no one.

    The one who advocates greater empathy for our fellow human beings and especially our fellow atheists, or the one who mocks and attacks the very idea of doing so?

    – Not certain you are different when it comes to intention, or if it simply is approach to path leading in direction intended. I can not judge really, as I admit to being the lesser man concerning empathy.

    The one who is honest and reasonable and willing to change his statements and positions in light of criticism, or the one who lies and conceals and manipulates evidence?

    – Haven`t seen anyone change statements and positions. In fact I can not say I know of many, if any time, such change have happened. And I have followed both for some time, even though on separate subjects.

    …….And vote up the one you think is actually doing something good for the atheist movement.

    The real problem is more than simply deciding what side to take in a conflict related to a conflict between two “persona”. Voting up someone is difficult when neither does anything good for the atheist movement. The sense of satisfaction someone could experience by perceived victory, is one that contribute to nothing to the Atheism movement. It neither contributes to science nor feminism for that matter.

    Regardless of what is said, understand I make no claim of advocating atheism better than anyone. I have answers I believe other people need. My interest behind engagement is motivated by understanding how the intrinsic metaphorical quality of language change to almost open mythological descriptions.

    It no secret that if Thunderf00t or you had any real interest in being understood, understand the other, as exchange of information usually leads to. You both take the stage and approach your different audiences with the good message of hope in a world shrouded in darkness…. etc.

    My experience is communication directly with people makes understanding easier, misconceptions fewer, hopefully closing some distance between opposing views.If religion poisons everything, and symptoms of this poison seems present, reason to be concerned comes naturally. The ideals, the values and all things Atheism with or without +, are best promoted by conduct and action, and not as merely reference than what one reflect.

    The mythology of the feminazi versus evil men conflict amuse me. But only as example of result failure of communication can lead to. So much effort where no reward is gained. I will follow development with interest and prefer to be less amused on behalf of atheism with or without +,

  94. AnticitizenX says

    Good God, Richard. You wrote 8000 words of pure, pointless character attacks. You’ve completely missed the forest for the trees. Are you really that incapable of understanding the backlash against your A+ drivel?

    • says

      Noting demonstrable evidence that a major voice in our community is a heartless, lying, rights-violating sociopath is pointless?

      I don’t want to live in whatever world you want this to be. If calling out and warning each other against characters like that isn’t regarded as crucial to a successful community, there will never be one.

    • SicSemperTyrannis says

      “I don’t want to live in whatever world you want this to be.”

      He lives in reality you delusional child, and not this pseudotopia that you so cling to.

    • says

      [Note to my readers: I allowed this comment to post because it demonstrates the childishness of this commenter, which is information of use and interest to us all.]

  95. Dave's Hat says

    I can’t believe that you would use this kind of ableist personal attack in trying to defend social justice. And to then try to justify it as genuine concern. Because that’s always been the way it’s done. “This guy sounds like a psycho! No offense, just looking out for you. Get mental help!”
    Fantastic.

    If you wanted to talk about a perceived lack of empathy, it’s possible to do that without dabbling in armchair psychology.

    • says

      It’s not ableist to be concerned about sociopaths in our midst and to know how to identify them. Because they are fundamentally untrustworthy and cannot be reasoned with. In a community for which truth, reason and information clarity are of paramount value, knowing who shows signs of being incapable of serving those values is of paramount value. And that’s before we even get to the community-destroying position he is defending, which is devoid of compassion and innately self-destructive.

      That’s not a personal attack. It’s a community’s self-defense mechanism, doing what it should.

    • Dave's Hat says

      “It’s not ableist to be concerned about sociopaths in our midst”

      Here’s how it works:

      “It’s not ableist to be concerned about undiagnosed brain damage. Your postings are incoherent and rambling. Here’s links to articles about the prevalence of undiagnosed brain damage. I think you are suffering from this and it’s just my genuine empathy that causes me to say I think you’re brain damaged”.

      Exchange with “autism” or “ADHD” if you like. It’s horseshit. You are using the label as a cudgel, and mental health with it. You have no background to make the assessment, you don’t have the basis upon which to make a diagnosis.

      Talk about lack of empathy or community destroying, like you just did. Leave the damned analyzing out of it. You want there to be a higher standard, so live up to it.

    • says

      It’s not horseshit to document evidence of someone’s pathological lying, manipulation, violation of human rights, and utter lack of empathy. That relates to whether we can trust someone and how dangerous they might be (not necessarily physically, but to relationships and institutions). And this is a very sound basis for stating a layman’s worry that someone is actually sociopathic (and not just a run of the mill liar or asshole), and I have plenty of references and resources to back me up (on both the fact of it and the value of my saying so even as a layman: see the books I referenced here and my further remarks here and here and here).

      If, indeed, someone prominent in the movement were showing documentable signs of a brain disorder, that, too needs to be documented and communicated. For example, it was very relevant to how Antony Flew was abused and manipulated and his status as an authority widely misused, resulting in his eventually incoherent and irrational publications and statements and the ways both were exploited by Christians (see here and here).

      We would do the same for someone showing suicidal depression, for their very own safety, and so on.

      This is not ableism. It’s responsible action.

    • SicSemperTyrannis says

      Haha, I put should instead of sound…hah, fuck. And the sounding like hitler goes back to your first reply, not the second.
      On that second reply, and throughout a lot of your replies to other people, you excessively emphasis trust, which is just a tad hilarious.
      But, furthermore, what you think you sound like, and what you actually sound like, are two different things, so have fun trying to convey your “…a lot like Carlin” voice.

      “It’s a community’s self-defense mechanism doing what it should”

      You don’t speak for a community, you speak only for yourself as a self promotionist.

      I just have a few questions to ask you now. Why does any of this matter? Why do you intend on so callously attacking thunderf00t on a personal level, when he only criticizes others modus operandi .

    • says

      Why does it matter? Apart from the fact the the truth matters (and thus lies and manipulations must be exposed) and apart from the fact that it always matters whether we are listening to or dealing with a sociopath or not, it most especially matters for one very obvious reason…

      Because the atheist community can only succeed and thrive and be of value to the atheists participating it (and of value to the wider world community) if it encourages its members to be compassionate, honest, and reasonable, and to respect each other’s human rights, and to not harass each other or make each other needlessly miserable.

  96. Timothy Williams says

    Richard,

    Do you recognize the similarity of the “Us vs Them” mentality you’re attempting to create within the atheist community to that of various religious/political groups?

    I have to assume you do, since that’s essentially a direct quote. Given that position, do you acknowledge the very strong similarities between that tactic and the tactics employed by many of the groups you strongly disagree with? In specific, the tea party and 99% of religious groups?

    If so, how do you justify it?

    Please step back and try to understand that the point is not that people disagree with your views on social issues. They disagree with your methodology and your exclusionary policies. That’s all.

    Thanks,
    Tim

    • says

      Because pointing out the need for members of a community to be compassionate, honest, and reasonable and to distance themselves from the cruel dishonest, and unrepentantly unreasonable is a religion.

      That or it’s just a sociological fact and requires no faith in anything, just the same evidence and reason that all secular moral thought has been based on for the past two and a half thousand years.

  97. vanguard says

    So we’re now diagnosing people with mental illness via the internet. Because people don’t show enough empathy in scripted youtube videos. Oookay.

    Is this really the way forward?

    • says

      See upthread (here, here, here, here, and here). And read the article (I made a point of bringing in backstory at the very start). This isn’t just one video that is displaying the symptoms. And he hits nearly all the symptoms for sociopathy. This video is just the last straw that made me seriously consider that that is indeed what’s going on. And the evidence is all there. And it is disturbing.

    • says

      Right. Because demonstrating the dishonesty, manipulation, and utter lack of empathy in a prominent atheist who attacks women and humanist values is being a drama queen. I guess everyone who speaks out against vile and disturbing speech is a drama queen in your world. What an awful world you live in.

    • SicSemperTyrannis says

      Jack is right, you are one hell of a drama queen, and your response to him proves it even further.

  98. duce7999 says

    It seems that Tf00t has responded, you might want to sit down for this,… he read a small part of your criticism in a funny voice.

    I don’t think any of us expected this level of 3 dimensional chess from TF. It was brutal. I mean, it was a really funny voice with *added* emphasis on certain words.

    Kidding aside, I honestly don’t know if it is that he is incapable of a response or doesn’t care to do so, and I don’t care either way.

  99. SoConfused says

    I may be a little slow, and somewhat not up to current trends, but when did the “old” atheism promote anything against the morals you have proposed. You speak in your address to the community as though critical thinking is what we need to bring to the atheist community. critical thinking is the method that lead me, and those around me that religion, and then in a greater view god, had no place in a worldview founded on rational thought, given what we now know about the world/universe around us. I would not try to defend the hate on either side, but when people start saying you agree or i disown you, they sound very much like the side they accuse of being so unreasonable. I will continue to be honest and compassionate and reasonable, because logic tells me that that is what i should do, the consequence of the reverse leads to bad things, not in an afterlife, but in the beauty of the moment we live in, and not because a new group tells me i must submit or not have a voice. If the atheist community is endorsing this position, I, quite sadly, feel like we have taken a massive step back. I for one will not be an Atheist +, not because i disagree with anything you say, but because the dogma of silence from opposition is one i cannot abide. If this removes the validity of all my opinions and i am disowned, i sadly say farewell

    • Bashie~~~ says

      Why would you berate me for not having an argument when I never attempted to? Must I always try and rip into something I disagree with? I personally find it to be fruitless to even attempt to argue with people like you. Other people have trounced you more soundly and eloquently, and your responses are as laughable as this article.

      Why would I trod down that same path?

      It’s not even necessary. In the free marketplace of ideas, your ideas have plummeted like a stone, while your opposition has flourished. Your ideas and your arguments cannot stand the test of peer review in this community. Being as it would serve no further purpose to argue with you, I won’t.

    • says

      You made an assertion without a shred of evidence or argument that that assertion was true. I then said so. And you complain that I said so.

      That’s rich.

  100. Simon Winther says

    Just read your own headlines again, and tell me who is the hater against your fellow atheist? Perhaps if he had been a woman you would have jumped to her defence?

    I have a hard time believing you actually have these opinions about him, and think it is more likely you just want to win your point, which in my humble opinion is not going well for you.

    Is that really how you want to spend you energy? Is this the bet use of your time?

  101. F Lane says

    The only thing, Richard Carrier, that you have proven with this blog post is that you have the emotional maturity of a barely post pubescent child, and not an intelligent one. This article is one of the worst written garbage mounds I have ever read, and I used to date someone who coerced me to read Twilight. Didn’t they even teach you that meaning is arbitrary in grad school, or did you flunk that test? And please, do us both a favor: don’t respond.

    • says

      Another series of assertions without a single shred of evidence or argument.

      (Ironically, this comment is quintessentially childish, yet childishly declares a serious and well-evidenced article childish. I’m going to start calling this the kidnapper’s fallacy from now on. Those who actually read the article will know what I mean.)

  102. says

    I am a fellow countryman of Thunderf00t….We are from the UK where not only is atheism the norm but relations between men and women are great….We dont have the amount of young feminists that you do….We concentrate more on equal rights…I dont know why you are exaggerating everything that Thunderf00t says so much but you are making yourself look a right twit….Of course he wouldnt say that Atheists need to treat each other with less compassion than anyone else….he is calling on the young feminists to show some compassion and to stop tarring all male atheists with the same brush….I have never experienced any harrassment in all my time as an Atheist – a very different story to other areas of my life….Guys try and chat you up….You have to say no if you are not interested…This is not harrassment….Skepchicks elevator story made me wince….Grow up woman….You are an adult and can handle saying no to a guy….What she inferred was very offensive to that guy and she should be ashamed…Get a grip…There are far more important things….If the feminsts are so bothered then they should stay away from cons – there are still many atheist women who dont have a problem….

    • Bashie~~~ says

      What’s hilarious is that Richard acts disparagingly to people who say that he’s wrong or do not provide an argument, and then when he responds, he just dismisses what they have to say. “Your facts are all wrong” is a contention, part of an argument, but it’s lacking any evidence.

    • says

      As my readers will notice, I actually respond extensively in comments (here and elsewhere), often with abundant evidence and argument. Only when someone starts repeating what’s already been refuted here do I not waste my time repeating myself. This guy then ignores all the other stuff, focuses on the latter cases where I don’t repeat myself, and asserts that all the stuff before it never happened. Is there a word for that?

  103. Goldstein Squad Member says

    Roichard, you are obsessed.

    You are full of anger and hate.

    Give it up, it will destroy you otherwise.

    • Dan Felder says

      “Claims without evidence. That will destroy you.”

      Please provide evidence for this claim Richard. Apparently, you just destroyed yourself in a stunningly ironic fashion.

    • Dan Felder says

      Richard, I simply referenced your own claim. You claimed, “Claims without evidence. That will destroy you.” This is a claim you made. You provided no evidence for it. Therefore, by your own claim, you destroyed yourself.

      If the claim (yours) that I referenced has no evidence – then you have only further destroyed yourself. Because my claim was a simple application of yours.

    • says

      The evidence is this conversation. You lost. You had no evidence for any of your claims. No one is going to take you seriously here anymore, except others locked in your same delusion. And that’s the end of it. Those of us who use evidence to back our claims (like I did with TF), and those who don’t (like you). People can now choose which sort of person they want to be.

    • Dan Felder says

      What exactly are you on about? I’ve only made two posts, and the entire content of them was quoting one of *your* claims and pointing out that you made that claim without evidence. According to your own claim, you destroyed yourself. If you think that such a claim has no basis in evidence or reality, that’s too bad – because you are the one that made it.

    • says

      Since I still exist, obviously I did not literally destroy myself. Likewise I still sell books and still get tens of thousands of page views and still get invited to speak and on and on.

      So unless you’re delusional (and I was charitably assuming you weren’t) there is only one sense in which you could have meant I have destroyed myself, and that is as having refuted myself. Which I have abundantly proved here is not the case. You presented no evidence of that or indeed of anything I said that was false or illogical. I thus answered by pointing out that that will destroy you in the only sense you could have meant: as in, you have proved your opinion here is baseless and therefore worthless.

      And so you have.

    • Dan Felder says

      Richard… I hardly know how to respond here. You seems to be having a completely different conversation.

      In this conversation, I simply quoted one of your claims and asked you to provide evidence for it. In that claim you said, “Claims without evidence. That will destroy you.” I asked you to provide evidence for this claim, as – like the person you were responding to – you made it without any actual evidence. Otherwise, you fall victim to your own claim.

      The only claim you have been responding to is your own. If you believe the person (you) making the claim has presented no evidence for it, that’s something you might want to rectify. If you believe the person (you) posted an opinion that is baseless and worthless, that’s something that only you can fix. If you are beginning to believe that the person (you) making this claim might be delusional, then that’s something you might want to take up with a professional.

    • says

      In this conversation, I simply quoted one of your claims and asked you to provide evidence for it. In that claim you said, “Claims without evidence. That will destroy you.”

      Holy. Flarking. Crap.

      Do you not have a scroll button on your screen?

      Apparently not. So let me reproduce the whole conversation here (from here):

      Goldstein Sqaud Member said (emphasis added):

      Roichard, you are obsessed.

      You are full of anger and hate.

      Give it up, it will destroy you otherwise.

      To which I replied (not to you, to him):

      Claims without evidence.

      That will destroy you.

      To which you at last replied:

      “Claims without evidence. That will destroy you.”

      Please provide evidence for this claim Richard. Apparently, you just destroyed yourself in a stunningly ironic fashion.

      To which I answered:

      No, you’ve just been destroyed by your repeated failure to back your claims with evidence. Done and dusted.

      And to this date you have failed to back any claim you have made here with evidence. Not a single claim. Not a single piece of evidence.

      As for my claim, it is proved by the facts as they stand: Goldstein Squad Member still has presented no evidence for his claim, and his credibility here is destroyed. As is now yours.

    • Dan Felder says

      Richard, you seem more and more childish.

      The only ‘claim’ I made was a verbatim echo of yours. If it has no evidence (which was my point), then all your arguing in this exchange falls upon your own shoulders.

      You started this by demanding evidence to support a vague, flippant star wars reference. If vague flippancy requires evidence – then it seems only fair to hold your own claim that “Claims without evidence will destroy you” to the same standard. Where is your evidence that making claims without evidence destroys people? Naturally, this claim is widely open to interpretation and difficult to argue in the most figurative sense – but so was Goldstein’s.

      The fact that you keep spending your time responding to this rather humorous slip of yours does seem quite obsessive though. The fact that you can’t seem to see the humor does suggest that you lack emotion. The fact that you continually dismiss people opposing your ideas as doing so because they are against reasonableness or compassion – instead of what they actually say, that they dislike how divisive your rhetoric is – points to dishonesty.

      After all, Jen McCreight herself said of the offending post regarding Atheism Plus…

      “Finally had time 2 read Richard Carrier’s #atheismplus piece. His language was unnecessarily harsh, divisive & ableist. Doesn’t represent A+.”

      And yet you paint yourself as being attacked for advocating reasonableness and compassion. It seems the originator of the concept disagreed and felt you didn’t represent A+ after all.

      This points to you being further dishonest or just delusional.

      See? It’s easy to psychoanalyze someone over the internet. You make a very easy subject.

    • says

      Now I know you are a liar.

      After all, Jen McCreight herself said of the offending post regarding Atheism Plus…

      “Finally had time 2 read Richard Carrier’s #atheismplus piece. His language was unnecessarily harsh, divisive & ableist. Doesn’t represent A+.”

      And yet you paint yourself as being attacked for advocating reasonableness and compassion. It seems the originator of the concept disagreed and felt you didn’t represent A+ after all.

      This points to you being further dishonest or just delusional.

      You know what’s dishonest? Leaving out evidence that refutes your point yet that you know exists.

      I wonder what happened when McCreight criticized me. Hmmmm. I wonder if there might be a public record of the historical events that ensued. Why, maybe, I don’t know, this.

      McCreight and I are now square. I reasonably responded to her criticism and revised what I said and showed concern for who it affected and apologized.

      Contrast that behavior with Thunderf00t’s and the difference is clear. And your dishonesty in attempting to abuse and distort the historical record is exposed.

      Richard, you seem more and more childish.

      I’m the one being childish? You are the one trying to make hay out of a metaphor by pretending it’s literal and then asking for evidence of a literal destruction when instead the evidence of a metaphorical destruction cannot be denied.

      This is just a waste of my time. Go away.

    • Dan Felder says

      Yes, you are the one being childish. You demanded evidence for a comment clearly intended to be a flippant reference – and are now complaining that when I mirror your behavior to make a point and ironically state I amd the one being childish. Yes indeed Richard, you are correct – doing such things is indeed childish. I’m glad to see you’re learning via reflection.

      I am beginning to wonder if you are simply willfully dishonest, engage in phenomenal confirmation bias or simply lack basic reading comprehension. I doubt the last is true, so I turn to the above for such flagrant disregard for my clear message in my last post in favor of something that suits your personal agenda.

      What I *actually* said was that you claimed that you were attacked because you simply asked for reasonableness and compassion. This is ludicrous and makes you sound like a child. The reason your post was received so negatively, for those that actually read the comments or articles opposing you (I’m not even talking about Tf00t), was because of it’s extremely offensive and divisive rhetoric. That’s why your post was singled out and that’s why people compared your writing to the speeches of historical monsters – because of your rhetoric. Your attempt to brush that off as people compared you to Hitler because you were advocating reasonableness and compassion is astoundingly dishonest. That is a blatant misrepresentation of the criticism in order to paint yourself in a more favorable light and the people disagreeing with you in a less favorable one.

      Hopefully you’ll have the humility to recognize the broken path on which you tread.

    • says

      I give up on this conversation. You are inventing history left and right. You clearly are unwilling to pay attention to evidence or tell the truth about the actual chronology of events here. Go away.

  104. Johnnie says

    I’m curious why your monstrous rage is strangely absent when you’re standing behind a podium? It’s just weird to see you using such a good boy demeanor when speaking at conferences. It’s so fake. Here, on the interwebz, your scary hatred paints a different portrait of you.

  105. Johnnie says

    Oh yeah, I don’t care whether you publish my comment. It was meant for you. So that you can try to do mental Olympics in your head to try to justify your deceitfulness.

    :)

  106. lreadl says

    Richard,

    May I offer a couple of random thoughts?

    First some background. I was a participant in your course at CFI in July of last year. I have read two of your books and enjoyed them very much. I regularly seek out and watch your Youtube debates and lectures. I especially like your colloquial delivery and style. But mostly I appreciate your scholarship on the subjects of Christianity in general and the historicity of Jesus in particular. Before I took your course, I participated in Robert M. Price’s course “Was Jesus Resurrected?” which I also enjoyed immensely for exactly the same reasons.

    Why do I bring that up? Because as an atheist these subjects are fascinating. You and Dr. Price are two of the strongest advocates of ahistoricity. Wonderful. It puts you both at odds with Bart Ehrman and I relish the controversy. I do not, however, enjoy the flame war that has ensued following Dr. Ehrman’s latest book. I am on the fence on the historicity issue and I consider it mandatory to listen to both sides. When the discussion turns to personal attacks–from either side–I tune out. This is not about “he said/she said”. It’s about supporting on-topic facts and arguments.

    I am also aware that Dr. Price is rather more conservative in his politics–at least insofar as economic policies are concerned–than I am, and, I’m guessing, than you are. Who cares? I do not follow him for political advice. I terribly miss Christopher Hitchens and his unabashed anti-religious polemics. He is a sort of personal hero to me; however I think his opinions about the war in Iraq were totally erroneous and I never was convinced by his arguments or testimonies on that subject. To me, it tended to detract from his authority.

    I have very much enjoyed Thunderf00t’s videos that are addressed at debunking creationism. It is an important adjunct to the refutation of a purely religious tenet. When it comes to the subject matter of science vs. creationism he absolutely knows his shit. I appreciate the no-holds-barred colloquialism with which he attacks creationist ideas and arguments in much the same manner I do yours when you speak or write regarding religious matters. I subscribe to his Youtube channel. I have a Christian friend who is a young earth creationist and Thunderf00t gives me some good talking points in my discussions with him.

    I watched your video. I understand that you are trying to establish guidelines for what you describe as an atheist community, nothing more. But the “us versus them” tone that this discussion has acquired is, bluntly, off-putting. It is often said of atheists that trying to organize them is like trying to herd cats. I couldn’t agree more. We are a divers set of individuals—for the most part very independent thinkers. We don’t like and few of us will even tolerate being told what to do, how to think or what to believe. In my experience atheists excel at iconoclasm. As Groucho Marx famously quipped, “I wouldn’t want to be a member of any club that would accept me as a member”. (I’m paraphrasing, I know.)

    In my opinion, having listened to Thunderf00t’s diatribes and having read yours, I think you are both damaging your reputations. When I was a child, we would deride other kids who would fawn over this or that or the other thing with the taunt “Why don’t you make a club about it?” You want to have a club and don’t want him in it; knock your socks off. I can’t make myself care. My opinion: It’s your club and you can do whatever you want, but don’t presume you are a better person than him. When describing a person and saying that he/she thinks their shit don’t stink, one is not offering praise. Please, both of you, rise above the personal attacks. When it comes to this issue, I can only say, “A pox on both your houses.”

    • says

      Defending compassion, honesty and reasonableness and a better community will not damage my reputation with anyone whose opinion matters to a healthy community. Nor will standing up for truth and sound method and logic. TF shits on every single one of those things. He is destroying his reputation in the only way that matters.

    • says

      Because allowing him to disagree with me here is not allowing him to disagree with me.

      And cows don’t have udders, a horse doesn’t whinny, up is down, and sideways is straight ahead.

    • snowman says

      Oh, was that what all your “You’re either with me or a baby murderer” type replies are about?

      Can you not even hear what people are telling you, Richard???

      No one cares that you THINK you are defending decency against evil; what people are saying is in actuality you are saying really stupid things, and doubly so with your absurdly Manichean replies.

      Any decent, thinking person would rather be “evil” than have to agree with you at this point.

    • says

      Oh, was that what all your “You’re either with me or a baby murderer” type replies are about?

      Link to a single “you’re either with me or a baby murderer”-type reply.

  107. Baby Smasher says

    “Right. Because demonstrating the dishonesty, manipulation, and utter lack of empathy in a prominent atheist who attacks women and humanist values is being a drama queen. I guess everyone who speaks out against vile and disturbing speech is a drama queen in your world. What an awful world you live in.”

    lol Trust me, you’re just being a drama queen. Attacks women and humanist values? What do you even mean by attacks women, are you saying women are immune from criticism? Or are you saying that Thunderf00t attacks women just because they are women? Or maybe even saying that he physically attacks women? Your response just made you look even more like a drama queen.

  108. SicSemperTyrannis says

    In the time I posted my first comment (which still hasn’t been approved I guess), and the emails I got from the comments for being subscribed to this thread apparently, I have pretty much seen that a good 90% of you who post are arrogant prudes .-. whether you take TF’s side or Richards side, both push up a type of ideology that creates so much cognitive dissonance between each other. The level of tension is just beyond absurd.

    Now, I take out those who take a neutral stance on this, or another side (rather than TF’s or Richards) because they bring to light a different type of perspective, which I know for a fact, Richard doesn’t want perpetuated, since he pushes his ideology as absolute certainty. .-.

    “Only a sith deals in absolutes!” That may seem irrelevant, but in fact it is not. The representation I am putting forth merely means that those who believe in absolutes (Besides that of the Primacy of Existence, which really isn’t an absolute, but more of a statement that things are as they are) corrupt their train of thought into believing that the only way is their own, I mean shit, look back at history. It is beyond conceivable to think that because one objects to another, that the one who receives the objection has to take a lash-out towards their perpetrator.

    I get increasingly annoyed at you adolescent minded buffoons.

  109. Oriru The Bastard says

    Wow… This is a religious level of bollocks…
    How about you stop cookie cuttering and lying about someone just because he doesn’t suit your skitsophrenic needs.

    Or better yet, how about you just stop trying to create yet another bathshit insane cult?
    You know, we actual atheists, a rational thinkers, already have hands full of work when it comes to bullshit from christians, muslims and other insane religious and political parties.

    We don’t need more bullshit from your part and seriously, I’d rather see world make progress than see it being dragged down yet another 100 years because of the bricks like you. Thank you very much.

    • says

      How about you address the extensive evidence I presented that Thunderf00t lied, manipulated evidence, made ghastly illogical arguments in defiance of any scientific respectability, violated our privacy rights, and exhibited no empathy with any other human being?

  110. Dag Øystein Johansen says

    Chronology:

    1) Richard makes a stupid attempt to turn the “atheist community” into his own cult. One where he decides what morality anyone should have, and where he thinks he owns people. (Since I suspect you’ll just deny this: How else can your threat to DISOWN anyone daring enough to disagree with you?)

    2) The attempt crashes and burns.

    3) Tfoot makes a video, in characteristic combative style, that points out the obvious: Richard is a moron.

    4) Moron can’t handle the gross defeat and public humiliation, and decides to write a really really long blog post, in a pathetic attempt to convince people that Tfoot is a “sociopath” (as if that would even be RELEVANT to the whole retarded ahteism+ venture).

    5) The rest of us realize that not only is Richard a moron, he’s also a really sore loser.

    I won’t be surprised if you censor this, but then my expectations of you are quite low.

    • says

      1) Refuted in my video. Specifically and in detail.

      2) Refuted by the very American Atheists convention my video was recorded at…as I even mention more than once in the video.

      3) Refuted by the article you are commenting on, which extensively documents TF’s lies, misrepresentations, concealings, and manipulations of the evidence, and even concludes with demonstrations of his mind-bogglingly illogical arguments and lousy gasp of basic scientific methods (and even more deception in the very part of the video where he childishly claims I’m a “moron,” where he fails at basic math and common sense and truthfulness all in the span of a few seconds).

      4) TF’s evident deceitfulness, disregard of human rights, and lack of empathy is directly relevant to whether his views and claims should govern our community or not. And relevant to whether anyone should ever trust him.

      5) You are not “us.”

    • ugghhh says

      I won’t be surprised if you censor this, but then my expectations of you are quite low.

      If I tell this cliche-loving loser to piss off, will my comment not be published?

      Moderating one’s blog isn’t “censorship” and if you could read, you’d see all the critical comments that apparently make it through moderation.

      But no, everyone thinks they’re entitled to post whatever they want wherever they want. Go rant on your own blog about what a meanie Carrier is if you must.

    • snowman says

      Dag, don’t forget that Richard has also irrefutably proven what is morally true for our species and all alien life forms, for all history, while combining all millenia-old moral theories into one. Anyone not agreeing with Richard is insane or evil.

      He’s a world-historical genius, and a shame no one has recognized it yet except himself.

      Meanwhile Richard “refutes” anyone who disagrees with him on any point, even when he just makes things up and argues absurdly as throughout this post – e.g., “spending resources here is more efficient” = racist.

  111. says

    I don’t know the background on the conflict Carrier and Thunderfoot, and really, I don’t care about whatever beef you have with him.

    As one who fights for women’s rights (equal pay for equal work, access to reproductive care amid the troglodytes who want to impose restrictions, harsh enforcement of rape laws for non-consensual sex, etc.), I’m baffled by the defense of Adria Richards’ actions. If it’s not a free speech issue (as you contend), and it’s an issue of “misconduct” (specifically outlined by the meeting’s organizers) then she should have reported the misconduct to the people running the organization. Or better yet, just maturely turned around and asked the two men to please keep their comments in abeyance to not disrupt her time at the presentation. But no, she wanted to make a public example out of the two, and in doing so, she took down herself as well.

    Adria Richard’s tactics in this case do not advance the well-being of women. Surely the attempts to demonize, castigate, and deprive people of their jobs on the basis of lewd, private conversations is not seen as productive (this would include the vast majority of women, not just men, as targets). I really hope that the comments here are just a reflection of the author’s rage/hatred with Thunderfoot (and a desire to “win” whatever the hell the argument is) rather than a reflection of what the author believes will advance the cause of feminism.

    • says

      I don’t know the background on the conflict Carrier and Thunderfoot, and really, I don’t care about whatever beef you have with him.

      Then why are you commenting here?

      It would seem you do care about it.

      Enough, in fact, to read an extensive article detailing exactly what that background and conflict is.

      Or did you not read this article and then decide to comment on it anyway?

      Because if that’s what you did, it makes you look like a bit of a turd. Because this thread is about sustained campaigns of harassment against women, like that against Adria Richards.

      So either (A) you decided to post here to defend the way she was harassed after that incident, or (B) you agree that was reprehensible and she should not have been treated that way. If (B), why are you saying anything else in your comment? And if (A), doesn’t that make you an asshole?

      If it’s not a free speech issue (as you contend), and it’s an issue of “misconduct” (specifically outlined by the meeting’s organizers) then she should have reported the misconduct to the people running the organization.

      Or better yet, just maturely turned around and asked the two men to please keep their comments in abeyance to not disrupt her time at the presentation.

      No such requirement is in the event conduct policy, and it is not her job to do anything but report violations of that policy to event organizers as that policy states. So either you are saying no one should report violations of conduct policies to event staff (which I cannot believe you are saying) or you think it’s nicer to try and enforce them yourself first instead (which may be true for you but has no bearing whatever on what we are discussing in this thread, which is about how Richards was treated after the fact, and has no bearing on whether she had a right to report it to staff instead, regardless of what you would “like” more).

      But no, she wanted to make a public example out of the two, and in doing so, she took down herself as well.

      No, she didn’t. The men made public examples of themselves (they were speaking out loud in a crowded room filled with digital media). And there was no justification for firing her (or the culprit, either, BTW, but she did not do that). And certainly no justification for the campaign of harassment directed at her. The misbehavior of others in this instance (bosses and digital onlookers) was far worse than that of Richards or the man she reported.

      Adria Richard’s tactics in this case do not advance the well-being of women.

      That’s only true if you believe she deserved the campaign of harassment that ensued and deserved to be fired. Which would make you a sexist pig. So I’m hoping that’s not what you mean.

      But what could you mean?

      Is it “good” for the well-being of women to harass, fire, and intimidate women who report the violation of conduct policies at professional events? Certainly not. But is Richards responsible for that? Not one bit. She isn’t the one who engaged in harassment, firing, and intimidation. She just obeyed the rules at a professional event.

      So what’s “not good for the well-being of women” is how everyone else behaved. Not how Richards did.

      Surely the attempts to demonize, castigate, and deprive people of their jobs on the basis of lewd, private conversations is not seen as productive (this would include the vast majority of women, not just men, as targets).

      It wasn’t a private conversation. It was a conversation out loud in a crowded room, precisely the thing governed by the conduct policy Richards enforced. And she did not “demonize, castigate, and deprive people of their jobs.” None of those things were done by her.

      Getting the facts right, and caring about the consequences of the behavior in this case that actually was bad (the firers and harassers) is what will advance the cause of feminism.

      You do not appear to be interested in doing that.

    • says

      Since I read this, I did become interested in this conflict. And I don’t agree with Thunderf00t’s tactics when he accessed your mail server. Originally I was linked here when searching for feminist issues, and positive ways (not abrogation of the 1st amendment) to advance the cause of feminism. Any rational person who isn’t high on whatever power they have over some small, unproductive community, would first root out legal discrimination, then focus on bringing attention to societal discrimination, and then, maybe worry about people getting offended (which nobody has brought anything close to a rational argument that one has a right, that extends to restricting others’ liberties, to not be offended).

      You have no psychology credentials to evaluate whether Thunderf00t is a sociopath. None. It’s the pinnacle of arrogance and ignorance for you to do such an internet evaluation.

      I’m but a graduate student, who started grad school in the fall of 2008, and should be finishing my thesis/PhD soon. But you’ve been at this a lot longer, Mr. Carrier, surely you can show a lot for your time? Your citations alone must crush mine: http://scholar.google.com/citations?user=P-O1mHwAAAAJ&hl=en

      I bring up the topic of publications/citations, because I’m trying to figure out what good you and your organization has done. Surely you’ve gotten a lot of believers to deconvert? Surely you’ve gotten a bill passed to stop the horrific use of arbitration to prevent legal action against rapists with private contractors? Surely you’ve gotten at least one congressman to introduce a bill to halt the ability of military officers to overturn court martials following sexual assault/rape cases? If not, you either don’t give a damn about helping women, or you’re completely feckless and should be completely disregarded as an irrelevant organization that does no good for anyone, except for self-aggrandizement and riding on the coattails of people who do/did real work (Dawkins, Harris, Sagan, Hitchens, and so on). Did you need to look up those issues, or did the obsessive focus on demonizing anyone who doesn’t match your thought-purity standards not completely distract you from your stated goals?

      I’d content that I actually care about the plight of women than you and your lot do. Please take the “Atheism” out of your name-your extremist agenda to limit freedoms would be welcome by Mao, Stalin, or Jim Jones, but It’s not welcome by most people in America (except ironically the extreme far-right religious groups), atheist or believer alike.

    • says

      First, the notion that you need credentials to have and voice a justified concern about someone’s mental risks has already been refuted in this comment thread multiple times (see here, here, here, here, and here). Not even professionals agree with you on this (per the books I have cited).

      Second, I completed my Ph.D. in 2008. I can’t fathom how you could be confused about that.

      Third, I don’t know what you mean by “your organization.”

      Fourth, none of your proffered cv contains any articles promoting humanist values or helping women or even pertaining to psychology, philosophy, or the atheism movement. So, irrelevant.

      Fifth, that we are all (and we are) working to fight more serious issues as well does not mean we should ignore the subtler problem of people promoting and sustaining the very culture that causes those more serious problems to persist, or that we should ignore possible sociopaths who are lying and manipulating people in our movement, or that we should not respond to slanders against ourselves and our causes.

      Sixth, nice one going Thunderf00t-Godwin on me and repeating the very equivalency of promoting humanist values with Stalin and religious cults. I could make a fun drinking game out of this.

  112. Charles L says

    Despite being generally childish and irrelevant, this spectacle has served at least one serious purpose… It has revealed that within the “atheist community” there is a staunchly idealistic SA that is beginning to assert its power and control.

    • says

      Laden has exhibited empathy and remorse on many occasions. Including the occasion that got him expelled from our network.

      So, no.

      (He also hasn’t exhibited signs of pathological lying and manipulation, and hasn’t to my knowledge violated anyone’s human rights. TF has done all of that…as well as exhibit an utter lack of empathy for anyone or notable remorse for anything. The difference is night and day.)

  113. Klangos says

    Wow. That’s at least a dozen, probably closer to 20, one stop ‘insult ‘n’ go’ posts. Did Tfoot just link to this article and his fans flocked over?

    Very telling that none of them stick around for a debate. Very telling that few to none of them make an argument but rather engage in blanket declarations, insults, etc

    You folks should be embarassed. It makes shameful reading to see none of you able to engage. And you are skeptics? You are critical thinkers?

  114. Dan Yalle says

    Richard Carrier
    April 16, 2013 at 11:52 am (UTC -7) Link to this comment
    Another series of assertions without a single shred of evidence or argument.

    Dillahunty was right. Atheists have a lot to learn about critical thinking.

    Considering there is no reply to your comment, I am forced to do it this way.

    What evidence do I need? You have massive snark, you mod comments specifically to give your own opinion or story, your comments in all your videos and speeches are “with me or against me”, you are doing nothing to win the other side to your argument. Why would I join your movement when the best I get is “you cannot critically think.” It is as bad as hippies going “you just don’t understand”.

    The goal of your movement is nothing more then to bully and censor. It is clear with your views, your tactics and your comments.

    —-

    Richard Carrier
    April 16, 2013 at 11:52 am (UTC -7) Link to this comment
    So says any douchebag.

    Moderating a forum is not narcissism. I don’t think you actually know what that word means.

    And standing up to cruelty is never any plausible argument for endorsing or allowing that cruelty. So whether or not I can or have stood up to it has no bearing on whether you should condemn it and oppose it wherever you can.

    I suspect you are somehow claiming I have blocked comments here. In fact, I have so far accepted all of them. I won’t necessarily, as comments must meet my comments policy. A policy that is entirely reasonable.

    —-

    I think you need to look real hard in a mirror before you call anyone else a douchebag. And yes, moderating is a form of narcissism. You are commenting on everything and specifically tailoring things to fit into your ego.

    Also, what cruelty? Are you talking about trolls? Normal bullies? Where is the need for a movement that is more or less nothing more then an exaggeration of “common sense.

    • says

      What evidence do I need? You have massive snark, you mod comments specifically to give your own opinion or story, your comments in all your videos and speeches are “with me or against me”, you are doing nothing to win the other side to your argument. Why would I join your movement when the best I get is “you cannot critically think.” It is as bad as hippies going “you just don’t understand”.

      My being snarky doesn’t support any statement you made. Nor does stating my own opinion on my own blog. Nor does my pointing out that there is a complete lack of any logic or evidence backing an inflamatory assertion, nor does my identifying that behavior as uncritical.

      I have never said “with me or against me” on any matter except in regards to condemning persistent harassers and the unrepentantly cruel, dishonest, or unreasonable. Which you should be with me on and thus have no complaint about.

      And writing and speaking widely and extensively with abundant evidence and logical argumentation is not “doing nothing.”

      So, fail across the board: non sequiturs coupled with falsehoods. That’s all you’ve got.

      How you fail to be embarrassed astonishes me.

      The goal of your movement is nothing more then to bully and censor. It is clear with your views, your tactics and your comments.

      In which there is not a single instance of bullying of censoring by me. (Except for the explicit bleeping of one inappropriate and unnecessary word, and the deletion of off-topic spam.)

      So, your statement “it is clear with your views, your tactics and your comments [that] the goal of your movement is nothing more then to bully and censor” is simply a lie. There is no evidence of the latter in any of the former. So on what do you base the latter? Nothing.

      And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a classic example of the complete absence of critical thinking.

  115. Oriru The Bastard says

    “How about you address the extensive evidence I presented that Thunderf00t lied, manipulated evidence, made ghastly illogical arguments in defiance of any scientific respectability, violated our privacy rights, and exhibited no empathy with any other human being?”

    Sorry mate but your lies does not count as an evidence. I’ve watched those videos and they present of nothing what you talk about. Infact, it’s funny how you say “Thunderf00t lied, manipulated evidence, made ghastly illogical arguments in defiance of any scientific respectability, violated our privacy rights, and exhibited no empathy with any other human being?” since that is precisely describing what kinda of a human being you are.

    Lying, illogical, privacy violating coocoolander who is trying to turn atheism to a political party but you are also trying to tell others what to think and how to think which is an insult to any logically thinking person with more brain than a used condom.

    and you know what? Everything you’ve been saying at this far work extensive evidence of that.
    So good luck with your cult, for the sake of future generations and advancement in science, I truly hope your insane ideas won’t take off further.

    At this far you haven’t contributed anything to mankind and all you are doing is cause more unnecessary problems instead of curing them.

    Here’s an idea, how about taking on actual problems like what is going on in the middle east?

    • says

      Stop ruining atheism for the rest of us.

      You mean asking people to be compassionate, honest, and reasonable is ruining atheism for you?

      How disturbing.

      Stay away from me.

  116. says

    Wow, so Thunderf00t responded to absolutely zero of your arguments and instead chose to “criticize” you by reading out your conclusion in a whiny voice as if it proves something? Color me unimpressed and frankly, disgusted. I think it’s only obvious that he truly has a complete lack of empathy for human beings. Unbelievable.

  117. TheGkmasta says

    Dr. Carrier,

    I have been having a few divergent discussions with fellow atheists via YouTube regarding Atheism Plus. A recurring message is that atheism in and of itself is neither a community nor a movement. Now obviously there are atheists communities and the growing trend towards non-religiosity could be considered a movement. However, these atheists either deny such communities exist or do not want any part of an atheist community or movement.

    My first question is should the first plus of Atheism Plus therefore be “community”? As in Atheism + Community + Humanism + Skepticism. This way anyone examining Atheism Plus would know immediately it is being formulated for atheists within a community setting and not disparate atheists around the world.

    I have also heard repeatedly that the majority of atheists are against Atheism Plus. The growing numbers of dislikes of your talk on YouTube would indicate that this is correct. Yet there is a disconnect in that there was no indication of booing or dissent from your audience at the American Atheist Convention. I posed the question on YouTube that if the majority of atheists are against Atheism Plus why did they not storm your speech and announce their misgivings (especially if atheists are as iconoclastic as all these YouTube atheists seem to think they are). I have not received a response to date.

    My suspicion is that those at the AACon did not oppose your speech because they are active member of the atheist community and realize the need for broadening that community. All those opposing seem to be disparate atheists who enjoy their isolation and simply use the internet as a network of atheists. A network that does not act like a standard community with shared values.

    So I was wondering, did you receive any criticism or major opposition regarding Atheism Plus at the AACon?

    Finally, if there is this network of atheists that abhor the idea of community it is most likely that this is where most of your harassers come from. (Also, your estimate for active internet sociopathic atheists is likely very low. Thunderf00t alone has 176,000 subscribers which mean his audience could have as many as 1,760 sociopaths among them or more. I would think a sociopath would get his jollies more from a web based forum than your standard atheist. So I could imagine that as high as 15% of active internet atheists have sociopathic tendencies. This is just an educated guess of course.) This meme that atheism should neither be considered a community and should not even be organized is a strong one with high retention throughout the web. Therefore, as long as the community oriented, flesh and blood, brick and mortar atheist activists also engage in activism on the internet there will be this element of harassment towards them that may not go away for decades.

    Since the sexist atheists that continue to harass women atheist activists may indeed be mentally ill and at the very least do not consider themselves to be a part of your community would it not be better to simply mark these as anti-social atheists. In other words, the problem is not severe sexism within the atheist community, the problem is sexist, misanthropic atheists that place themselves outside of the atheist community. No amount of condemnation from leaders within the community will stop them because they abhor and mock the community itself. Obviously such an approach will be labeled “us vs. them” but it would be a more honest approach that more closely resembles the facts. This also gives you every right to protect yourself from these undesirables (I have never been on the A+ forum so I’m assuming that accounts are only blocked after threats of physical or sexual violence or abusive name calling as blocking for any other reason would not be aligned with a movement that espouses honesty and reasonableness. In other words, I hope the allegations of inappropriate forum moderating are false, especially after the Matt Dillahunty incident.)

    Once people realize that people who reject the ideals of Atheism Plus (not necessarily Atheism Plus itself) are first and foremost rejecting community (not rejecting humanism or skepticism) those in and out of the Atheism Plus movement can write them off as not interested in community. This does not mean they’re horrible people, pulling wings off of flies. It just means they have no use for the community and therefore no interest in making a better community of atheists. Surely, these anti-community atheists will likely use the resources of the atheist community (videos, images, podcasts, perhaps even the occasional event) but they should not be criticized for this since it may open them up to the idea of having an atheist community.

    Once you make it clear that you are trying to bolster up an atheist community and that atheists do not have to be a part of that community if they do not desire and those that engage in sexual, physical, and verbal harassment will not be accepted into that community, you can get on with the real work that Atheism Plus desires to do.

    I look forward to your response and hope you will address my direct questions first regarding adding “commmunity” to the mission of Atheism Plus and whether there was any opposition at the AACon speech from attendees.

    • says

      My first question is should the first plus of Atheism Plus therefore be “community”?

      First of all, that atheism is a community I document and prove in the first few minutes of my video on Atheism+. So if anyone is still trying to deny that, they need to go there. (Although it is already ironic to hear about atheists gathering in an atheist forum to talk about atheism and then deny there is an atheist community or that they are participating in it.)

      Second, as to your actual question, that wouldn’t be an untoward suggestion, since I do argue that organized atheism should work toward increasing the number of atheists participating under its fold, but this has already been the goal of the atheist community, long before Atheism+ was even a thing, much less given a name. Thus, it really can’t honestly be said to be anything new. It therefore doesn’t really fall under the +…because it already falls under the Atheism (capital A).

      As in Atheism + Community + Humanism + Skepticism. This way anyone examining Atheism Plus would know immediately it is being formulated for atheists within a community setting and not disparate atheists around the world.

      No. Because we do want all atheists to be humanists and skeptics, we do want all atheists to be compassionate, honest, and reasonable. Even the “disparate atheists around the world.” Whether they organize in atheist communities or not, whether they participate in the atheist identity movement or not. The latter are just the most influential and publicly visible representations of atheists as a group, and the most capable of effecting changes and bettering themselves, and so are the vehicles we first seek to effect change through.

      We recognize some atheists will reject all that, and advocate instead for cruelty, dishonesty, and relentless unreasonableness, or for anti-humanism or anti-skepticism, and so on. But we don’t want them anywhere near us, much less running our organizations or representing us to the wider world community. We certainly aren’t going to endorse them or call them our friends or allies. Because they are not. We are going to call them out for what they are: atheists who give atheists a bad name, atheists who vindicate the Christian’s belief that atheists are immoral or amoral, would make the world a worse place, and can’t be trusted.

      I have also heard repeatedly that the majority of atheists are against Atheism Plus. The growing numbers of dislikes of your talk on YouTube would indicate that this is correct. Yet there is a disconnect in that there was no indication of booing or dissent from your audience at the American Atheist Convention. I posed the question on YouTube that if the majority of atheists are against Atheism Plus why did they not storm your speech and announce their misgivings (especially if atheists are as iconoclastic as all these YouTube atheists seem to think they are). I have not received a response to date.

      Right, it’s a non sequitur. Not only are the total votes dwarfed by the total views (thus we fail to have a representative sample; imagine a President elected by only 5% of registered voters), but the sample is biased by vote swarming (TF’s fans are more fanatical and numerous than mine; that has no bearing on how numerous they are relative to the whole of organized atheism). The audience reaction in my video is probably more representative of organized atheism generally, as I can confirm from meeting with actual organized groups all over the country (only one of which has voiced anything like opposition to A+, and that’s one group out of hundreds).

      So I was wondering, did you receive any criticism or major opposition regarding Atheism Plus at the AACon?

      Overwhelming number of thank yous and thumbs ups from attendees all conference long, matched against three crazy old men (literally: the three who came up to me to voice opposition were all old white men, and all voiced weird and crazy things in addition to their criticism). I don’t think that’s necessarily representative (I happen to know some young anti-A+ers and a couple of women in that category, etc.) but I do suspect it was telling.

      Thunderf00t alone has 176,000 subscribers which mean his audience could have as many as 1,760 sociopaths among them or more.

      Subscribers aren’t necessarily fans, much less fans who would “do his bidding” as it were (if that were the case, I’d have a hundred thousand downvotes on my video by now). But yes, your ratio would stand to reason. It’s then just a question of how many of those sociopathic subscribers are actually atheists and care enough about any of this to harass people in the movement to get their way (or for their own entertainment). I don’t think it’s a thousand. But then, there are no studies to go by, so who knows.

      I would think a sociopath would get his jollies more from a web based forum than your standard atheist. So I could imagine that as high as 15% of active internet atheists have sociopathic tendencies.

      You’re gonna have to show your math here, because I don’t see how you derive that number.

      In other words, the problem is not severe sexism within the atheist community, the problem is sexist, misanthropic atheists that place themselves outside of the atheist community.

      Which we in the community should rally against.

      But I happen to know that the problem is not exclusively that. TF is not hostile to the existence of an atheist community; that’s why he tried arguing that atheist organizations should ban and shun us. He wants to control the community, and thus is definitely not acting as an outsider to it, as if keen on taking it down. He really does think that the atheist community would be better if it adopted his amoral views and he wants to remake that community in his own image.

      Likewise the anti-A+ people I’ve met in organized atheism (noted above), though very few, are certainly just tips of a shy iceberg…a small berg, proportionally speaking, but nevertheless there. And the majority of anti-A+ arguments (from them and online) are not against the forming of communities (they almost never “mock” the atheist community or atheist orgs or anything like that), but are against how we are “spoiling” the community and trying to “take over” its orgs. Thus, like TF, they want to control the atheist community, not exclude themselves from it.

      I wish indeed they wanted to just check out of the movement. Then we could move on without them. It’s their pitched battle to control the movement that is causing almost all the growing pains we’re now experiencing.

      No amount of condemnation from leaders within the community will stop them because they abhor and mock the community itself.

      Note that, as I explain in my video on this, that is not the only goal or value in “condemnation from leaders within the community.” The latter also communicates to the women being harassed who has their back, and communicates to the atheist community and the world community where atheist values are within organized atheism.

      But it is also folly to think that ramping up condemnation, downvoting, etc. will have no effect toward reducing the behavior. All previous communities that went through this saw a rise in misbehavior followed by a steep decline in it, after rising social pressure from denunciation and exclusion. It works. Apathy, by contrast, never does.

      (I have never been on the A+ forum so I’m assuming that accounts are only blocked after threats of physical or sexual violence or abusive name calling as blocking for any other reason would not be aligned with a movement that espouses honesty and reasonableness. In other words, I hope the allegations of inappropriate forum moderating are false, especially after the Matt Dillahunty incident.)

      I think you might misunderstand what the A forums are for. They are for A+ advocates to organize, network and discuss the movement’s goals and how to effect them (their function is described here). They are not open forums for “attacking” A+, much less for trolling and derailing, which actually disrupts and thus prevents the A+ forums from functioning to their purpose. To that end, one of their wider policies is to ban anyone who sock-puppets them (because it’s a signal of dishonesty and trolling, and was expressly stated as a banning offense in the forum rules). That’s what Dillahunty did (not maliciously, but still; in result, they improved the moderation policies and asked for an apology).

      That said, the moderation policies there differ by sub-forum but the main forum has these procedures and these rules and it is often the rules & procedures that the haters don’t like and complain about, not so much the actual moderator decisions, although they often lie about what the moderators did, while the rules themselves are completely reasonable. Some of the issues the moderators have dealt with are explained here and here.

      In general, don’t trust what you hear. If someone is complaining about the A+ forums, odds are, they either have been lied to, or are lying themselves. You can always ask for links to go and see what actually happened. And when they don’t provide any, you know the score.

  118. Paul D says

    There is far more dishonesty and misrepresentation in Richard Carrier’s blog than in Thunderfoot’s commentaries, and I think the groundswell of support that Thunderfoot tends to find in his videos is reasonable evidence of this. Thunderfoot IS a feminist/ humanist, who rightly exposes those who play the feminist victimhood card to push their personal agenda, and with no cogent evidence to back their claims (at least in the western world). Only a tiny minority of feminists are claiming or finding that misogyny is rampant or significant in atheist conferences, and their “propaganda” seems to amount to little more than attention-seeking.

    I don’t think there is much compassion in the Atheist+ community either. These people are pretty good at hurling insults and claiming the moral high ground. I hear next to nothing about humanity’s exploitation and cruelty towards animals. Thinking atheists and anti-creationists should be aware that humans are another genus of animals. I hear nothing about the law court’s apathy towards men who are denied custody of their children. The atheist+ community is brainwashed by American culture, and they are by and large too cowardly (or full of vested interest) to go against the grain.
    Why is the national budget assigned to women’s health (e.g. cancers) well over ten times as high as that allocated to men’s health? What does that say about society’s regard for men?

    • says

      There is far more dishonesty and misrepresentation in Richard Carrier’s blog than in Thunderfoot’s commentaries

      Demonstrate a single instance of this.

      I don’t think there is much compassion in the Atheist+ community either. These people are pretty good at hurling insults and claiming the moral high ground.

      That you think that’s evidence of a lack of compassion suggests you don’t understand what compassion is.

      I hear next to nothing about humanity’s exploitation and cruelty towards animals.

      Actually, that gets discussed a lot. So evidently you aren’t really interested in listening.

      I hear nothing about the law court’s apathy towards men who are denied custody of their children.

      I assume you mean men who had as much right to that custody as women and wanted that custody and asked for it and yet were denied any custody. Otherwise, the complaint is unfounded. An unfit father is an unfit father; likewise a man who doesn’t want custody is just a man who doesn’t want custody.

      But assuming charitably that you are referring to unfair assumptions in courts that men, qua men, are unfit parents (there is actually not much evidence to support that, BTW, and what evidence there is is very statistically weak), that is actually also discussed by A+ folk (e.g. here).

      So, again, you just don’t care to listen. That’s why you don’t hear anything.

      [BTW, those who actually care about this issue should see the different takes on the data from Cathy Meyer, Libby Anne, Villainous Company, and The Massachussetts Study which is over twenty years out of date, yet the trends have been toward greater awareness and correction for gender bias in courts since then. See also the section on findings in child custody cases in The Florida Study of the same time, e.g. "contrary to public perception, men are quite successful in obtaining residential custody of their children when they actually seek it," p. 7, whereas the biases against men in visitation rights were not the majority finding, and followed from practices now no longer standard in the courts; notably, The Virginia Study found that half of all custody lawyers perceived the court system to be biased, yet half did not, and no actual evidence of bias could be found. I have heard of other studies but can't find them.]

      Why is the national budget assigned to women’s health (e.g. cancers) well over ten times as high as that allocated to men’s health? What does that say about society’s regard for men?

      Where are you getting your numbers? There is no budget item called “men’s health” in the Federal Budget. This is because men’s health is normative–most studies study men’s health; many even include only or mostly men in clinical trials–necessitating a newly developed department of women’s health to address the imbalance. Yet somehow you know this department is funded “ten times” more than research on diseases in men? You are going to have to present your evidence for that. And take care that you don’t include things like any kind of maternal and prenatal medical care, since men can’t normally have babies (and those that can get the same care), so obviously the amount of money allotted to men in that category is going to be zero. That’s not gender bias. It’s biology. In reality, the women’s department of the NIH has a total funding level of $3.8 billion, out of the NIH’s total budget of $30.9 billion. So barely an eighth of the total budget is devoted to women.

      In the meantime, you give as your only example “cancers,” so that’s all I have to go on. I can only assume you are referring to this. One of the last commenters there pointed out a serious flaw in the author’s use of the numbers. Not only does he count dollars spent on women that were also spent on men, as if they weren’t spent on men (bad math), he only compares “all female cancers” against a single cancer, prostate cancer (the only one pretty much only men contract; it also affects women, but with extreme rarity).

      Here are the real numbers. Last year the NIH spent $257 million studying prostate cancer against $800 million for breast cancer, but on all cancers the budget was $5.6 billion, so this disparity is pretty insignificant overall. Breast cancer is more lethal than prostate cancer anyway, and plenty of female cancers get less investment than prostate cancer (the only cancer that is distinctively male; men don’t have ovaries, uteruses or cervixes). For example, ovarian cancer gets only $147 million and cervical cancer $112 million, uterine cancer $47 million. So if you pick and choose which cancers to count, you can get any disparity you want.

      So maybe one might say that “special female parts” get more research funding than “special male parts” (about four times as much: $1.1 billion vs. $257 million), but women have more of those than men do, and thus more ways to get cancer than men (about four times as many, as it happens). To further balance things out, consider the fact that autism affects four times as many men as women, so the funding for autism research ($192 million) disproportionately benefits men; likewise, brain cancer afflicts men 150% as often as women, so the $281 million devoted to brain cancer research also disproportionately benefits men. Likewise, a lot of the nonspecific cancer funding (which means, by far most cancer research funding) also goes toward fighting cancers like prostate cancer (so the earmarked money does not indicate all the money spent on it). And so on.

      The most one can say is that we should indeed spend more money on prostate cancer research. But that is due simply to the fact that that cancer doesn’t have a lobby. And that’s more men’s fault than women’s. If you don’t stand up and fight for your cancer research, it doesn’t get funded. Which means, essentially, you have to give considerable time and money for lobbying and marketing efforts to succeed. If you haven’t done that, you have no right to complain. It is not Congress, BTW, that earmarks this money; the only reason breast cancer gets so well funded is that there are more private grant applications for research on it (the NIH simply awards the money to the projects that are proposed to it), thus it’s not just congress you have to lobby, but private research institutes and charities.

      For comparison, thyroid cancer kills nearly three times as many women as men (and is among the top ten cancers in women, but not in men), yet the amount of federal dollars earmarked for that in 2012 was exactly zero dollars. That’s not gender bias. It’s just politics. Thyroid cancer doesn’t have a lobby.

      So stop seeing ogres in tea leaves. Get reasonable instead. And actually do something, instead of just complaining about it. Donate to the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

  119. anonatheist says

    making any “us” and “them” type of mentality is just going to extend all the childish behavior and starts you on a slippery slope.

    Also i’ve seen Thunderf00t’s videos that are in question, and no where would I say that he is “against women and equality and minorities” that’s ridiculous and either you’ve confused what he was saying or your taking it out of context to prove yourself right, using a strawman argument. I also find this post kind of typical bullying behavior as well as a lot of the comments. I think the “atheist community” should all kiss and makeup and go back to being the cliche tropes they are talking excessively about their atheism all the time while boring everyone else, and I say that as an atheist.

    • says

      Making any “us” and “them” type of mentality is just going to extend all the childish behavior and starts you on a slippery slope.

      That’s a fallacy called “the slippery slope fallacy,” indeed you even used the fallacious phrase!

      Next you’ll argue that gay marriage will lead to beastiphilia, secularism will lead to gulags, cancer research will lead to internment camps, legalization of drugs will cause Devil worship, and masturbation will cause hair to grown on your palms.

      “It’s the compassionate, honest, and reasonable against the cruel, dishonest and unrepentantly unreasonable” is not only not going to lead to any such slippery slope, such a position is actually necessary for any society or community to survive and thrive.

      Also i’ve seen Thunderf00t’s videos that are in question, and no where would I say that he is “against women and equality and minorities” that’s ridiculous and either you’ve confused what he was saying or your taking it out of context to prove yourself right, using a strawman argument.

      Demonstrate any single instance where I interpret what he says on this point is wrong. Don’t just assert it. Demonstrate it. With actual evidence and arguments and timestamps.

      I also find this post kind of typical bullying behavior as well as a lot of the comments.

      Point to a single thing I have said that you deem “bullying” (as opposed to merely factual, or a sincere argument or statement of opinion or belief).

      Then explain how I can bully someone without going to their blog or emailing them or approaching them in any way at all but just writing my own views on my own blog.

      I think the “atheist community” should all kiss and makeup and go back to being the cliche tropes they are talking excessively about their atheism all the time while boring everyone else, and I say that as an atheist.

      Spoken like a Christian.

  120. tiberiusbeauregard says

    q: what’s the difference between richard carrier and joseph goebbels?
    a: goebbels actually had a writing talent

    a weak joke ? yes, but penile cancer has more entertainment value than this blog anyway, so there’s no point in argueing the obvious…

    [Do anti-woman, anti-humanist kooks have a pathological inability to capitalize the first word of sentence?]

    no richard, that only happens when people value your writings so little that they cannot be bothered with pressing an additional key on their keyboards anymore. it’s the very last warning sign before they ignore your ramblings alltogether.

  121. Jess says

    While he is a snob you need to realise that while all sociopaths are snobs (In the sense that they constantly look down on the masses) not all snobs are sociopaths.

    • says

      Not a relevant observation. At no point in my article do I assert or present any evidence of TF being a snob. So whether he is one or not has no bearing here. What I present evidence of is lying, manipulation, disregard of human rights, and an utter lack of empathy and remorse. Which are the characteristics of sociopaths, not snobs.

  122. Rob says

    Freethinking but cannot deviate from the set of preset values? Bollocks. What privacy expectations should people have when posting to a public blog? Need cheese to go with this whine. gahhh

  123. Eristae says

    I doubt this will make any kind of a significant impact and so I thought quite a bit about whether or not to post this, buuuuuuuut I think I will.

    As someone with a mental illness (possibly several), I really, really wish people wouldn’t try to make mental health diagnoses over the internet. Making such diagnosis are hard enough to make by trained professionals with who spend lots of time with the patient ferreting out symptoms that would provide evidence one way or another, often with input from external sources who are close to the patient (like family).

    If Thunderf00t was having a bunch of physical symptoms, people would be more likely to recognize that they weren’t qualified to make a diagnosis. We might have guess or hints or hunches, but we’d all (hopefully) know that we needed to get a real doctor involved before we could conclude that the diagnosis was correct. This is even more the case with mental diagnosis, which is less cut and dry than something like the flu or a heart attack.

    Anyway, I need to go to class.

    • says

      Your argument is refuted by the books I cited earlier in this thread (by actual psychologists) who point out that laymen need to diagnose psychopathy in their midst and for that reason need to learn how to do it. The same would go for other conditions where we need to know the threats to ourselves or others we care about (like suicidal depression). The issue is not whether we can be certain our diagnosis is correct. T