Free thoughts from the hive mind


There is a meme, perhaps more accurately described as a complex of memes, about Freethought Blogs. This complex is made up of at least one of the following statements:

  • FTB is run as essentially an extension of the egos of PZ Myers and Ed Brayton
  • FTB does not tolerate dissent, and enforces its repressive agenda through banning, mockery/ridicule, and flying monkeys (this being a descriptor of regular denizens of the Pharyngula comment threads)
  • FTB is run by (or home to, depending on who you ask) radical feminists
  • FTB is a leftist, ultra-PC, political entity
  • FTB spends too much time talking about things that aren’t material science and/or atheism
  • FTB is a hive mind that promotes a ‘party line’ of thinking that precludes disagreement on anything substantive

Now obviously, since I am part of Freethought Blogs, any and all opinions I have on the subject are irretrievably biased. It is in fact more than likely I am simply repeating instructions given to me from on high (in exchange for which I receive a monthly pittance that I give away anyway). However, given the recent nonsense that precipitated the ejection of one of our bloggers (Greg Laden left as well, but for an entirely different reason), I thought you might be interested to hear an insider’s perspective. You will have to judge for yourself, based on my history, if I can be thought of as a reliable narrator.

Freethought Blogs is not a hive mind

Imagine you wanted to start a blog network. Wanting to create the best one you could, you reached out to those bloggers who you thought were smart and entertaining and (perhaps most importantly) would say ‘yes’ if you asked them. Now, imagine you asked them to pick other bloggers that they liked. And so on for three or four more iterations. You know what you’d end up with? Something that looks eerily similar to a hive mind. You know why? Because people who know what the hell they’re talking about tend to respect and admire other people who also know what the hell they’re talking about.

Calling Freethought Blogs a ‘hive mind’ is about as accurate as calling the JREF a ‘hive mind’ for doubting psychics, or calling the National Academy of Science a ‘hive mind’ for accepting the evidence behind evolution. Yes, we agree on a number of issues for which there is a great deal of popular dissent. That’s because we know what the hell we’re talking about. We also (usually) avoid making wild swings at topics about which we know nothing, which brings me to my next point.

Thunderf00t was not evicted for disagreeing with the feminist position*

When Thunderf00t was fired, I could practically hear the simul-gasms of a thousand anti-FTB trolls, crowing at the ultimate public vindication of their central thesis: FTB will silence you if you disagree. It may surprise you to learn that FTBloggers disagree with each other all the damn time. On our blogs, no less. We revel in free-wheeling discourse – it makes us who we are. The key to discourse, however, is that disagreement between sides has to be intelligent. If you advance a position and all you have to defend it is absurd stereotype, distortions of fact, and a snarky tone, you’re not exactly going to get very far with this crowd.

So let’s make something abundantly clear here. Thunderf00t was fired for the following reasons:

  1. He was a shitty blogger
  2. He was ludicrously wrong and ignorant about a topic for which there was abundant information right in his back yard – a topic, incidentally, that lies well outside his usual bailiwick
  3. He was a shitty blogger
  4. He was a gaping asshole when his wrongness was pointed out to him, and replied to criticism with an ever-widening spiral of transparently absurd arguments, culminating in a bizarre last-gasp attempt to introduce “data” into the debate (which, as a scientist, would have so embarrassed me that I would have quit, thus obviating the need to fire me).
  5. He was a shitty blogger
  6. He was creating an atmosphere in which it was impossible for anyone else to function without having to deal with his shit all the time
  7. He wasn’t a particularly good blogger (one might say he was shitty)

You’ll note that nowhere on that list appears the fact that he disagreed with PZ Myers or our Skepchick overladies. Nor is it because he allowed people from ERV (and if you don’t know what that refers to, I suggest you don’t bother finding out – stupids gonna stupe) to comment on his blog. Nor is it that he was some kind of maverick that threatened the very foundation of the FTB network. Nor was it anything else that doesn’t appear on that list above.

Including Thunderf00t on FTB is not evidence that we aren’t a hive-mind

One of the memes coming from people who support FTB went something like this:

“FTB isn’t a hive mind – they had Thunderf00t on there! Clearly they embrace dissent”

As tempting as that argument is to make, it’s completely without merit. The existence of a single token asshole doesn’t suddenly invalidate claims of groupthink, just as the presence of a single female board member doesn’t invalidate claims about systemic sexism in a company. Plus, y’know, he got fired.

We’re not a hive mind, but including one person who is wrong about feminism doesn’t qualify as evidence of that fact.

Booting Thunderf00t is not evidence that we oppose ‘free’ thought

One of the more pathetic (and yet nonetheless popular) rejoinders floating around is that since FTB didn’t tolerate Thunderf00t’s brattiness, we are in contradiction of the principles of free inquiry. It may shock anyone who has used this assertion to learn that ‘freethought’ doesn’t mean ‘whatever dumb shit pops into your head and tumbles out of your mouth’. If I came out as a closet creationist tomorrow, you’d better believe there would be some monumental backlash against my ideas – not because it’s an echo chamber, but because creationism is fucking silly. Thunderf00t ran afoul of the exact same phenomenon.

As tempting as it is to label the feminism that many of us FTBorg share as an inviolable ‘dogma’, such a statement is simply a histrionic false equivalence, born of the same brain fart that gave us “atheism is just another religion, man!” We accept feminist arguments when and because they correspond well to observed reality, and we reject the fringe elements that contradict our general humanism. That is entirely in sync with the tenets of free thought.

There will always be those who would rather concoct vivid fantasies in which the backlash they receive for their stupidity is caused by the nefarious machinations of a nebbish biology professor from Minnesota (and his willing horde of sycophant blog commenters). I suppose there is no disabusing those who can’t see that the reason people are telling you that you’re wrong is simply because you’re wrong. I have no hope that this post will change the mind of anyone who would rather see the collusion of The Bilderblog Group or some other weird conspiracy theory.

What I do hope, however, is that when this latest scandal blows over (as someone else says something stupid), we will have learned that demonstrating an admirable capacity for rational thought in one area does not necessarily mean it carries over to anywhere else.

If I were a more polite person than I am, this is where I would say something like “I wish Thunderf00t all the best in his future endeavours”, but I don’t. I don’t even care enough about the guy to wish him ill. I have no wishes for him whatsoever, and I imagine that his future endeavours will be about as relevant to me as they were before he moved to FTB.

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*For the record, I had no foreknowledge or input into the decision to boot TF. If the decision were mine, I’d like to think that I would have just let everyone else figure out just how shitty a writer and thinker he is (outside of his area of expertise, that is), and stop reading him over time. However, I don’t have to manage FTB as a network in toto (just my own little piece here), so I don’t really understand the pressure that Ed was under.

Comments

  1. says

    Are you trying to suggest that TF was a shitty blogger? If so, it is a bit murky in your post and you might want to clarify a little bit. :)

    I’m going to take this opportunity to trot out my boxing analogy: There’s a difference between disagreeing, and being a TF-style assclown. It is the same sort of difference in boxing between hitting someone in the face and hitting someone in the crotch. Disagreeing can be vehement, and can even feel like a punch to the face, and can still follow some sort of rules and guidelines. Boxing can be hugely violent, and sometimes people even die, but there are rules in place and doctors on the scene. As wild and woolly as things can get, there’s still sort of standards in place that help make sure that people walk away more or less intact when it’s over. (The whole “voluntary dead porcupine insertion” thing for example, seems like a useful way to vent strong negative emotions in an absurdist manner to avoid wishing real harm on people)

    Seems to me that what TF did was like walking into the boxing ring, spitting on the announcer, stomping on the ref’s foot,, and then sucker-punching his opponent and then inviting the audience to come up and take free swings at his unconscious opponent while peeing on the floor. It was not only poor form, it seemed to ignore basic common-sense behavioral norms from start to finish.

  2. xtog42 says

    From Ed,…on why a blog is included at FTB,…”There are no hard and fast rules for who may be invited, but we do have a few things we look for. The most obvious is good writing.

    We also prefer that they have a track record of consistent blogging, though we have made exceptions for that.

    Diversity is another big factor, especially as we begin to come close to the limit of how big I want the network to be. We do not want to be a network just for straight white men from the United States, we want people who can speak to the variety of experiences and perspectives under this very broad umbrella.

    I do not impose any restrictions on any of our bloggers’ comment policies. They are free to ban anyone they want for any reason. They’re free to say nasty things to them if they’d like. None of that has anything to do with whether the bloggers here advocate for atheism, skepticism or freethought.”

    TF was speaking his mind, and he is a good writer/commentator or he would not have been invited on the network, he added diversity as well. The fact of the matter is, he was kicked off because he actually had the courage to confront the sexual harassment extremists/trolls and not just boot-lick authority like this post does.

    Shitty writing got him kicked off? Then why are you still here?

  3. says

    As Colombo would say, just one question: if you’re dumping shitty bloggers who’s posts are weak on argument, then just why do you keep Physioproffe? It wouldn’t have anything to do with the fact that, unlike Thunderf00t, he’s in basic agreement with the “mission statement” you outlined in the video the other day, would it?

  4. says

    If you are of the opinion that the string of unhinged (and Mabus-formatted) rants that TF submitted constitutes ‘good writing’, then I need to inquire what the colour of the sky is on your planet. He was invited because he made valuable contributions in his area of expertise. As soon as he arrived, he began swinging wildly at a pitch that exactly nobody threw his way, and when informed of the various way in which he was wrong, he piled up idiocy after idiocy while ignoring all substantive criticism. Again – I really can’t square that approach with the descriptor “good writing”. We mock Ken Ham when he does that – Thunderf00t gets lionized for reasons I can’t quite fathom.

    …he actually had the courage to confront the sexual harassment extremists/trolls and not just boot-lick authority like this post does

    Ah, it’s “courage”, eh? Maybe the wizard will give him some brains next. I’ve already explained why this meme is, while attractive, utterly ridiculous. You’ve chosen to ignore the explanation, I guess labouring under the illusion that repeatedly asserting something is the same as demonstrating it.

    Shitty writing got him kicked off? Then why are you still here?

    Affirmative action hire, motherfuckaaaaa!

  5. says

    You know, I’ve been watching Colombo lately. I notice they never show what happens when the case goes to court. He busted Leonard Nimoy because of some suspicious suture material Colombo found in his own pocket.
    Pretty thin, really.

  6. julian says

    TF was speaking his mind

    Trust us, we get that there’s zero filter between what goes on in TF’s head and what comes out of his mouth.

    he is a good writer/commentator or he would not have been invited on the network

    He makes good videos and has shown that he can communicate across them effectively (for certain audiences at least.) Shoddy writing, poor argumentation, inability to address arguments, constant use of caps and sneering tone is all that went into the posts he made here.

    He may have made some wonderful youtube videos but no. Going off the man’s work here, he’s a crappy blogger.

    he added diversity as well.

    In the same sense adding bill o’reilly would add diversity, sure.

  7. julian says

    You’re not the only person who doesn’t like physioproffe or doesn’t get why he’s still around. I guess how vacous most of his posting is now makes it almost impossible for him to be guilty of shit writing on par with TF.

    ((I’ve read his older posts, thanks to links, back when he was lucid and he really does have some amazing things to say. It’s just… I grew up in New York. The Bronx d-bag Yankee fan thing…kinda not my cup of tea.))

  8. says

    Freethought Blogs is not a hive mind

    A hive-mind would say that about tiself, wouldn’t it? Hive-minds are devious, y’know.

  9. julian says

    If the decision were mine, I’d like to think that I would have just let everyone else figure out just how shitty a writer and thinker he is (outside of his area of expertise, that is), and stop reading him over time. -Crommunist

    That’s what I would have liked to see happen, too. It’s what happened with much of his youtube audience but, in Ed Brayton’s defense, if we’re using that as a model for what would have happened you’d see an increasingly unbearable commentariat launching raids against non-TF bloggers. So maybe that had something to do with it.

  10. says

    xtog42: first you re-paste a lot of tedious old arguments you had with other people on Ed’s blog; now you’re re-pasting an argument you had with Ed on this blog. You’re starting to look like a grudge-nursing crank.

  11. Tony ...listen, learn, change says

    TF was speaking his mind, and he is a good writer/commentator or he would not have been invited on the network, he added diversity as well. The fact of the matter is, he was kicked off because he actually had the courage to confront the sexual harassment extremists/trolls and not just boot-lick authority like this post does.

    His few posts here at FtB did not demonstrate himself as a freethinker. That’s one of my big reasons he should have been kicked out. He didn’t arrive at his male-privilege centered, illogical position on sexual harassment through the application of science, logic or reason.
    As to diversity, ummm, isn’t he straight, white, heterosexual, and from the US? I thought he was, but if I’m wrong, ok.
    I’m also curious why so many of his {Thunderf00t} defenders craft these great conspiracy theories as to why he was kicked out. Crommunist stated in this post the facts related to why he was kicked out. Ed posted on his blog the facts related to why he was kicked outl Nowhere did either of them mention “he was kicked out because he had the courage to confront the sexual harassment extremists/trolls and not just boot-lick authority like this post does.” (also, boot lick is ridiculously false, and insulting).
    The *fact* of the matter is you were not privy to any of the decisions made by Ed (or any of the bloggers here-if any-who had input), so all you can know for certain wrt Thunderf00t being kicked out are the facts presented already. Stop making up stuff to fit your view of the world. Thunderf00t is not a martyr. He’s an ass.

    Oh, and he’s a shitty blogger. You may have heard.

  12. says

    Oh, and if you really think Crommunist is a shitty writer, then why are YOU here at all? I’m not very impressed with Physioproffe, so I don’t much bother going there.

  13. Tony ...listen, learn, change says


    As Colombo would say, just one question: if you’re dumping shitty bloggers who’s posts are weak on argument, then just why do you keep Physioproffe?

    You do realize that’s not the only reason Thunderf00t was dumped, right? I can’t speak to Physioproffe (having never read that blog) still being here, but really that’s not relevant. The discussion wasn’t about “who should be kicked out of FtB”. It was about the reasons for kicking Thunderf00t out.

  14. A Hermit says

    I like the boxing analogy; I was using a dinner party, where TF shows up with a bag of bad take out, puts his feet on the table and spends the whole evening loudly complaining about his host’s cooking (without actually tasting any of it) and criticizing the other guests’ manners and clothes while dribbling cold sweet and sour sauce on his oversized flannel shirt…

  15. smhll says

    I also thought Thunderf00t was a shitty writer. His stuff was disorganized and the CAPS were odd and the random illustrations were distracting. (I was supposed to read the rainbow colored one with text across it?)

    I think his framing was especially bad. (I have a rather large hate on for people who tell me how unimportant a topic is and then don’t stop talking about it.) He started right off the bat with minimizing other people’s concerns and then patronizing them and still expected people to be open to his POV? Uh-huh. Also, he buried any substantive comment on harrasment way down at the tail end of his first topical post.

    If he’d been less blustery and defensive, then maybe there was something worth talking about about the details of the policies, and about how shin-nibbling consent is established. (Also, I wished we had covered why lots of people are in bars after the scheduled events end.)

    On the overall scale of hateful atheist v-loggers that I hate, he’s not even close to the top.

  16. Kels says

    We mock Ken Ham when he does that – Thunderf00t gets lionized for reasons I can’t quite fathom.

    Oh, that’s an easy one. Because he’s bashing PZ/Rebecca Watson/feminists/etc. If Thunderf00t had followed up that first mess with “Oh, I see what you’re getting at now” and went on to do some science posts that support would have vanished. It came pretty obviously from a bunch whose main interest was pushing the fight, not arguing the issues.

    As someone else pointed out, he probably didn’t notice this because they’re not unlike typical YouTube commenters on the whole.

  17. says

    Perhaps. I think it would have been interesting to see what happened if his little tantrum had been allowed to play out and he had returned to blogging about stuff within his area of expertise. I don’t know if the formatting would have improved though.

  18. Assassin's Cloak says

    Ah, it’s “courage”, eh? Maybe the wizard will give him some brains next.

    I’ve forgotten everything else you said because that line made me laugh so much. Was it something about what a really great blogger TF is?

    I think I would have liked to see TF remain too, not because I liked any of his posts, but because I kind of wanted to see what else he might eventually blog about and if it would be as bad, and whether he would eventually quit of his own accord. Of course if he had he would almost certainly still have said, ‘Because FTbullies!’

  19. Kels says

    Actually, I did compliment him for dropping the stupid graphics in the second or third part of that whole mess. That stuff can be entertaining in a video, but in a blog it largely makes it look like a mid-90’s Geocities fansite, but without the lurid backgrounds.

  20. says

    nefarious machinations of a nebbish biology professor from Minnesota

    He does have a “cyberpistol.” You can’t argue with that. Unless you have a “cyberblunderbuss” or something?

    Good post!

  21. says

    A few others have taken a stab at this, but I can certainly pile on.

    First off, none of this debate has been about that time that Thunderf00t nibbled on someone’s leg. That action was only held up as an exemplar of harassment by TF himself. I doubt you would find too many people who are particularly scandalized by that kind of spontaneous, clowny gesture. This has always been about the enforcement of harassment policies – what we would like to have seen happen if the woman in the photo had not been a willing participant. Would her concerns have been addressed or simply dismissed.

    That being said, there are a number of ways to build physical intimacy (I am not referring necessarily to sexual intimacy) into an interpersonal interaction. While it is often a problematic first step (particularly for people who struggle with social cues), non-verbal communication usually indicates a willingness to progress past the point of formal conversation. From there, physical intimacy can build naturally. In Canada/USA, a hand on an arm or shoulder, or even a playful nudge or push can ‘test the waters’ to see if the person reciprocates or withdraws. My suggestion is that if establishing physical rapport is something that one requires an explanation for (and I do not mean for this to come across as judgmental), ze would do better to err on the side of caution and assume that anything short of a clear ‘yes’ is, at the very least, a ‘wait’.

    People stay late in bars for a lot of reasons. Yes, one of those reasons may be because they are looking for a sexual partner. It’s safe to assume that’s not the case for the majority of people. At Imagine No Religion 2, I stayed late at the bar after the event because I was enjoying catching up with some folks, and enjoying meeting new people. I’d imagine that most people feel this way. Hanging out with people can be a lot of fun. It will be a lot less fun if you have to swat away ardent would-be-suitors all night.

    I guess the guiding principle for hooking up, at conferences or otherwise, is to let relationships develop naturally. If you’re lousy at reading cues and need some practice, the place to do that isn’t at a venue where women have identified a recurrent problem of harassment. Do it at a club. Do it at a house party. Don’t do it at a skeptic meetup, not unless you feel comfortable with identifying non-verbal cues that imply consent for certain types of contact.

  22. says

    if you’re dumping shitty bloggers who’s posts are weak on argument, then just why do you keep Physioproffe?

    Physioproffe’s blog is one that can be easily ignored. When FTB started up, I checked out all the blogs (as a way of making sure I get no real work done, ever again) and I was pretty unimpressed with Physioproffe’s and haven’t looked at it since. Except for one time when I happened to see a really good recipe for pulled pork, which I saved.

    But Physioproffe is not making postings that cause FTB to become a navel-gazing internal debate among its bloggers. Most of us just ignore Physioproffe because it’s easy to ignore if you want to. But you’ll notice that virtually every one of the other bloggers on FTB felt obligated to jump in on the issue of whether Thunderf00t was being an idiot or not. And, in general, their beef was with what he was saying, and how he was saying it, and it stayed in a nasty cycle of ante-ing up. If Physioproffe’s recipes were inspiring the other bloggers on the site to spend several postings each, arguing about how much cilantro he uses in a taco, then I think it would be reasonable to argue that the overall contribution was negative.

    To me, that’s the upshot of the whole thing: Thunderf00t’s overall contribution was negative. Suddenly everyone was arguing about Thunderf00t and arguing about what Thunderf00t was arguing about, etc. It’s a bit harder to ignore that, than it is to ignore Physioproffe, or me, or anyone else who is not grabbing the microphone.

  23. Kels says

    If he had a cyberballista, we’d all quit arguing to toss virtual cows with it. PEACE IN OUR TIME!

  24. claw says

    have to agree with the charge he was a crap writer. when i saw he was joining i thought ‘oooh! that guy who does those usually well spoken ‘Why People Laugh…’ vids on youtube. might be interesting to see what he has to say more regularly.’

    then i opened his blog page and thought ‘did Time-Cube guy steal his login info or something? wtf?’

  25. says

    While it’s not my place (or my habit) to tell people that certain subjects are ‘off limits’, I would request that this thread doesn’t become the “Physioproffe isn’t a good blogger” thread. It makes me uncomfortable, as PP hasn’t really done anything to deserve getting piled on in a post that isn’t about him.

    Personally, I like PP’s blog, but I can understand that people have different tastes.

  26. xtog42 says

    Clearly I re-posted that because it is germane to the subject at hand, and for no other reason.

    Could you please quit making personal comments at me and simply respond to the points being made?

  27. says

    +1

    It is fast becoming one of my favorite blogs, but I see it being an acquired taste. More importantly, he’s not over there hurting anyone or intentionally provoking any sort of controversy.

  28. says

    Could you please quit making personal comments at me and simply respond to the points being made?

    Shitty writing got him kicked off? Then why are you still here?

    LOL

  29. xtog42 says

    I’m here because I am looking for the best free-thought site with which I might begin to regularly contribute after a lifetime of reading these posts, but not entering into the discussion arena.

    I thought FTB might be the place, but I am sadly realizing that I need to go somewhere else for informative discussions where I learn things and can post contrary opinions without being told FU, and can maybe even help others learn things about the rationalist way of life (since I am a Lehigh U trained mechanical engineer, a HS physics/psychology/sociology teacher and the holder of a MS in psych and I live in a hotbed of religious lunacy — southcentral PA)

    Believe me I am not here to have the posts be about me, nor do I really think you wanted an answer to your question, you just wanted to snark at me personally again as you have in the past as opposed to responding to the points I am posting.

    And if you think I am making no points, then why are you wasting your time snarking at me in the first place? It’s just your kinds of responses that drive away your allies in the fight against religiosity, posting information-free snark says more about the poster than the target.

  30. xtog42 says

    Cromm,

    I clearly made points in my post before responding to your snark with snark.

    I never said all snark should be banned, just that posts in which snark is the only thing in them should be deleted by the moderator, or ignored.

  31. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    For future reference:
    Who’s a tedious, irrational troll whose posts have no merit whatsoever except as a cautionary tale?

  32. says

    Please do not presume to tell me how to moderate my comments thread, thanks.

    And yes, I responded to your “points” (which were, incidentally, simply re-iterations of the very ideas that I refute in the post you’re commenting on). Would you also have me delete the posts of those who clearly haven’t read the post before providing their mindless reactionary opinion? It would clearly save me the trouble of having to repeat myself.

  33. xtog42 says

    Calling TF a “shitty writer” over and over again, begs the question “What makes the other FTB bloggers so non-shitty?” Especially given the fact that Ed said that FTB invites “good writers” to the network.

    So in 3 blog posts TF went from being a good writer, to a shitty writer?

  34. smhll says

    People stay late in bars for a lot of reasons. Yes, one of those reasons may be because they are looking for a sexual partner. It’s safe to assume that’s not the case for the majority of people. At Imagine No Religion 2, I stayed late at the bar after the event because I was enjoying catching up with some folks, and enjoying meeting new people.

    Yes, that was the point I wanted to see. Some people go to some bars in pursuit of one night stands. Many people at skeptic conferences, such as TAM may go to the bar because that’s where the cool conversationalists went. I’ve been to (unrelated) conferences where a lot of the evening hanging out is on patios or in restaurants. Room parties also sound like fun way to have conversation plus alcohol but with fewer party crashers.

  35. says

    It didn’t take 3 posts. His first two sucked as well.

    I don’t know if you noticed (I know I kind of snuck them in there), but there were a bunch of other reasons why he got shitcanned. Luckily for me, being a hopelessly terrible writer doesn’t qualify as grounds for immediate dismissal.

  36. chriscampbell says

    I agree with Ian about the good Comrade. If someone doesn’t like a writer, go tell them about it on their own blog. I’m sure PP would looooove to have that conversation with anyone, in his usual understated fashion.

    I personally like the sense of vaguely unhinged surrealism he brings to the place. But then again, I like Salvador Dali and eating raw sea urchin.

  37. throwaway says

    ‘Freethought’ to some people seems to mean “Stop thinking when you’ve reached the answer you want, then argue that point dogmatically and without introducing yourself to new information.” And character assassination. There’s also, to some, the impression that a freethinking zone must be an anarchic playground of devil’s advocates, trolls and JAQing bad-faith arguing.

  38. says

    I’m hoping for a placement in the mating pits. Or at the very least, eunuch guard duty. It’s the least they can do to reward me as a loyal lapdog.

  39. Kels says

    I thought FTB might be the place, but I am sadly realizing that I need to go somewhere else for informative discussions where I learn things and can post contrary opinions without being told FU, and can maybe even help others learn things about the rationalist way of life…
    [pointless CV-waving snipped]

    You clearly haven’t been looking very hard. I’ve spent the past three or four days just checking out the “FTB Recent Posts” sidebar, and I’ve been finding all kinds of good stuff. Stuff on science, stuff on freethinking, stuff on feminism and gender stuff, and pretty civil comment threads to boot.

    Out of curiosity, what threads have you been posting in outside of those related to this specific topic?

  40. hieropants says

    I thought FTB might be the place, but I am sadly realizing that I need to go somewhere else for informative discussions where I learn things and can post contrary opinions without being told FU

    Eh? You want to post contrary opinions without being contradicted?

  41. 'Tis Himself says

    Affirmative action hire, motherfuckaaaaa!

    Fortunately I had just swallowed that mouthful of ale before I read this otherwise you’d owe me a keyboard.

  42. says

    I really don’t think that’s a fair characterization. I think xtog42 meant a place in which one can state a dissenting opinion without getting piled on and railroaded for doing so.

  43. says

    You’ll note that nowhere on that list appears the fact that he disagreed with PZ Myers or our Skepchick overladies.

    Other than points 2, 4, and 6, which are all particularized complaints about his public disagreements with those parties and their ideological allies. Since all the other points were obvious before he joined the network, it is very difficult to conclude he was canned for any reason other than his spectacular failure to toe the party line on sexual harassment policy.

    Many of us on the fence held off on assenting to the meme you are trying to squelch here, on the grounds that we don’t know what goes on in the backchannels. Having created this list, you have put our lingering doubts to rest.

  44. says

    That is an incredibly selective reading of what I’ve said. Your difficulty accepting anything other than a bizarre conspiracy theory speaks more to your difficulties with Occam’s Razor than it does to a ‘party line’ (about which he was not asked to comment in the first place).

    By way of analogy, if I decided to insert myself into a fight between Ken Ham and Jen McCreight by saying how stupid it was to talk about evolution, about how creationism was no big deal, how religious people just want to be left alone, how atheists are taking away religious freedoms, etc. etc. – exactly how long do you think it would be before I heard words from the rest of the FTBlogs? Is that because they are a hive-mind of rigid and dogmatic ‘Darwinists’ and their “ideological allies”, or because I am acting like a know-nothing prick who is flamingly ignorant of even the basics of the subject under discussion?

    And if I doubled down on my idiocy and began flinging accusations, insults and general stupidity in a 360 degree arc (making any kind of rational discussion more or less impossible), would you still be ‘on the fence’ when they showed me the door? Would that be the result of my “spectacular failure to toe the party line” on evolution? I rather suspect it would be because I would have revealed myself to be a lunatic who was making everyone else’s life harder (not to mention revealing my complete lack of intellectual rigour).

  45. Stacy says

    I loved Thunderfoot’s whole “Me and my chill women friends haven’t noticed harassment at atheist conferences. Therefore, shut up, ladies” reasoning.

    Colbert coined the term “truthy”–TF struck me as skepticy.

    (And I’ll just mention, since Crommunist was too polite to say it and nobody else seems to have noticed: TF’s a really shitty writer.)

  46. says

    You’re forgetting the First Rule of Anti-FtB Trolling: disagreements are context-free.

    It doesn’t matter what the subject of the disagreement is, or whether one or both sides have valid positions or not, or whether one side or the other is arguing rationally or in good faith or not. If you say anything negative about the person the troll supports it is because you can’t tolerate someone disagreeing with you, and not because of the content of the disagreement or the behavior of the troll’s side in presenting that disagreement.

  47. Stevarious says

    It occurred to me right after I hit submit that that comment could be taken the wrong way. That’s not what I meant.

  48. Laurence says

    I thought this was a really good and well thought out post. I see all kinds of disagreements here on Free thought Blogs. It’s baffling to me why anyone would think there is some kind of hive mind amongst bloggers. Though I do feel there is somewhat less room for dissent in the comments section of some of the blogs here.

  49. says

    Though I do feel there is somewhat less room for dissent in the comments section of some of the blogs here.

    I can certainly empathize with that. There is often a lot of collateral damage taken by people who are new to the discussion and genuinely ignorant about the subject matter. Even as someone who tries to be even-handed and fair, it’s often difficult not to just toss commenters who drop particularly odious questions out the door with some well-placed barbs. This is especially true when you’re commenting in a place that sees its fair share of true trolls who are simply trying to piss people off instead of having a legitimate conversation.

    The thing is, you’re no less likely to receive such treatment at a real-life gathering of enthusiasts about any topic. It’s the nature of human discourse. Some bloggers have commenting policies to try and moderate the fiercer debates. I personally have not found it necessary to implement anything like that here, although I will from time to time interject and ask people to behave themselves. Others let it go more or less free-for-all (except for spammers, unrepentant idiots, sock-puppets, and the like).

    I suppose the guiding principle is that if you approach a topic you’re unfamiliar with as someone who is seeking knowledge (rather than demanding explanation or throwing out refutation), you’re far more likely to receive a softer welcome.

  50. Jaketoadie says

    “Including Thunderf00t on FTB is not evidence that we aren’t a hive-mind”

    I see what you are doing here Cromunist, including dissenting theories in your argument to show off how not-hive-minded you are.

    I’ve got my eye on you…
    (or should that be in all caps?)

  51. Ze Madmax says

    PZ mentioned that when TF was invited, nobody thought about asking for a writing sample. It’s not like you can just pick up a random piece from TF’s blog, what with him being mostly a video blogger. So it seems like people assumed (incorrectly, as it turns out) that TF would be able to produce blog posts that would meet certain quality expectations.

  52. I'll probably regret this says

    I’ve had a number of thoughts going through my head since the FTB Hangout, and I’d like to share them.

    Prior to the Hangout, I hadn’t found your work all that impressive. There were posts that made a positive impression, but often after reading some of the other bloggers here, I’d get to your take on a topic and, frustrated with what I’d already read, dismiss it as you cheerleading for them.

    After seeing your Hangout meta analysis of what you’ve been trying to accomplish and the accompanying blog post, I realize I should have read you first (needs to be a randomizing feature for the order the blogs appear in)as rereading a number of your posts showed their quality.

    I was supportive of Thunderf00t because deep down I had some sympathy for the argument he tried to deliver. It was only when I saw Raging Bee on Jason’s blog do a much better job articulating it as “devil’s advocate” (http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2012/07/03/on-harassment-policies-requiring-signed-consent-forms-in-triplicate/#comment-68640) that I realized what an incredibly piss poor job TF had done. I think if TF had written at least as well as RB then a serious debate might have ensued, rather than a shitstorm.

    What has amazed me is that even after you articulated in the Hangout that the other FTBers concept of Social Justice isn’t totally undergirded by rational thought there has been no one who made more of it. If activism requires Reason+™ then there is room for difference in principle and practice and the dogmatism around issues on both sides is bluster rather than evidence-based practice, at least in the short term.

    I don’t expect to see a move to gathering evidence anytime soon as some bloggers on both sides seem to like the mayhem. I am heartened to see what happened to GL and I hope that this action prompts some behavioural changes in the 1 or 2 other FTBloggers who have demonstrated some abusive tendencies as well. Time will tell. One can only hope that folks over at ERV see this and follow through with similar changes that were discussed in the comments on Justin’s blog before they got derailed.

    Two other quick thoughts and I’ll excuse myself:

    1) Since he doesn’t seem to be taking outside feedback at present, if there’s an opportune time before the next FTB Hangout, could you point out to PZ that with regard to the last two hangouts he’s gushed two ethnic stereotypes-about Mexicans toward the end of the first Hangout and about African-Canadians in reference to your still photo in the post comments about the second. They’re unnecessary and undermine the message.

    2) At some point it should have been acknowledged by someone at FTB that the skirmish with TAM carried the potential perception/appearance of conflict of interest in regard to it’s efforts at CONvergence and promoting attendance at that event. Since the arrangements with the larger conference are not public information, this isn’t something that can be confirmed or denied with 100% certainty and to have had it disclaimed (much the way bloggers do when they’ve received product or their sponsor is involved) would have been the better thing to do.

    I apologize if this was too long, I’ll now return to lurking.

  53. says

    That is an incredibly selective reading of what I’ve said.

    I selected out your three substantive points (2,4,6) and analysed whether they were grounded in “the fact that he disagreed with PZ Myers or our Skepchick overladies” as you put it. Each one clearly arose from his expression of disagreement and how he expressed it. Point 2 seems to be about the fact of disagreement itself (“wrongness” as you call it) while points 4 and 6 are about how he disagreed with the prevailing consensus on harassment policies.

    Your difficulty accepting anything other than a bizarre conspiracy theory…

    My working theory is neither bizarre nor conspiratorial nor novel. The basic idea is that internet systems can easily result in a culture of shared stereotyping (e.g. “devil’s advocates, trolls and JAQing”), denigration of outgroup members (e.g. “shitty blogger” and “gaping asshole”), intolerance of dissent (self-explanatory), inflated moral certitude (e.g. “He was ludicrously wrong and ignorant”), reluctance to examine preconceptions (e.g. “I suggest you don’t bother finding out”), and resistance to countervailing ideas. In a word, this is called groupthink.

    Note that I’m not saying Thunderf00t was correct, or tactful, or particularly eloquent. I’m saying that he got the Thunderb00t for failing to fall in line on the issue of the day.

  54. smhll says

    I apologize if this was too long, I’ll now return to lurking.

    Hi! One “tell” that helps separate the honest disagree-ers from the trolls who want to kick up a fuss, is that the trolls who WTKUAF pretty much never return to lurking.

  55. says

    You are confusing association with causation here. Yes, TF’s firing was due to the incidents in which he expressed “disagreement” about sexual harassment policies, but it was not the simple fact of his disagreeing that caused the problem. As I’ve pointed out, his attitude toward not only the topic but the people discussing it created a poisonous atmosphere that made life difficult for a number of us, myself included. His iron-clad commitment to ignore anything resembling reason and a staunch refusal to engage with any of the criticisms of his gaping wound of a posting history likely meant that he wasn’t going to let the subject die, but to raise it (and criticize the very platform he was appearing on) until… I dunno, we were overrun by trolls I guess. This wasn’t about disagreeing – this was about being an asshole.

    And no, there is nothing particularly novel about calling FTB a hivemind. People have been doing that forever. Your examples of the elements that comprise groupthink are pretty thin gruel. Describing recurrent behaviour is not the same as a ‘culture of shared stereotype’. Thunderf00t is a shitty blogger, and he was even when he was part of the “hive mind”. ‘Ludicrously wrong and ignorant’ aren’t moral certitude at all – they’re characterizations of behaviour, not a treatise on morality. I suggested that people not poke around ERV because it’s gross – I’d say the same about 4chan.

    This is, as it always was, about behaviour, not subject matter.

  56. says

    What has amazed me is that even after you articulated in the Hangout that the other FTBers concept of Social Justice isn’t totally undergirded by rational thought

    I don’t agree with this interpretation of my statements on the hangout. What I said was that I don’t think that my commitment to social justice ‘trumps’ reason because I don’t see how those could be in conflict.

    PZ’s joke was an ill-timed inside joke – a reference to my back-channel shenanigans. He’s been made informed about the Mexican thing.

    Thank you for the kind words about my writing. I hope you will continue to read.

  57. Enkidum says

    I’m late to this party (not in the same time zone right now), but have been reading through almost all the assorted posts related to this debacle (including every one of the comments on Justin’s posts before they got nuked, which actually helped a lot for context – I think it was a mistake to delete them because they actually showed a lot of the reasonable side of the slimepit – Justin needs to have more confidence).

    Short and sweet: you’ve said it all up there, and correctly. Sure, TF’s position was bound to create a lot of tension. But the real problem wasn’t this position, it was being such a fucking douchebag about it, refusing to respond in good faith to any criticisms, and writing in such an incoherent fashion that it was almost impossible to figure out exactly what that position was. (Seriously, did he or did he not support harassment policies in principle? I have no idea, and I read his posts several times – by the end he was implying that he did.)

    Aside from his being a shitty writer, it’s clear that what he was doing was perfectly intentional – he came here with the game plan of “speaking truth to power” (= “being an asshole”). And he knew he was going to go down in flames as a result. What a jackass.

  58. Utakata says

    I think the short answer to this is quite simple: Thunderf00t was trolling, where as Physioproffe doesn’t. Unless one considers avocado and cilantro risotto recipes trolling.

  59. says

    I dunno about all that. Clearly he came in with an agenda to dissent from the ‘consensus’ view of social justice issues vis a vis the importance of harassment. I don’t know that I can follow you out on that limb that this whole thing was orchestrated as some kind of protest, complete with an intentional flameout. Unless TF is totally clueless about the direction the freethinking movement is taking towards increased inclusivity and sensitivity to minority issues, he has to have realized that this would irrevocably damage his brand (not to mention his personal credibility).

    I tend to favour simplicity – he spoke a lot, understood little, and listened not at all, so completely enthralled was he with his own self-righteousness. It’s a pattern I’ve seen often enough before, from a variety of different types of people. It’s part of the reason I refuse to take myself seriously at all.

  60. Utakata says

    @D4M10N

    Evidence strongly suggests that Tf was let go because he was being a belligerent rude troll who was wrong on many counts. Not because he wasn’t towing some party line. In your nit picking of Crommunist’s outlines, you have failed to provide any compelling and convincing evidence that is contrary to this fact. And adding further apologetics in Tf’s defence doesn’t help. Deal.

  61. ik says

    We booted Thunderfoot but kept Taslima, which I think says a lot about our nonhivemindness!

  62. ericatkinson says

    If the “Hive” only had a mind.
    Mr Commie, you can go back to sucking Иосиф Виссарионович Сталин’s dried up dick now.

    BYW, is there any truth to the rumor that R Watson is really Piss Z Myers in drag?

  63. says

    First of all, I never STOPPED sucking that dried up dick. It’s where I get my daily allowance of vitamin D (the D is for ‘dick’)

    And no, there is no truth to that rumour. I am assuming you intend for the R to mean ‘Rebecca’, and in order to pull that off convincingly, PZ (you spelled ‘P’ wrong, incidentally) would have to shave his beard, which would never happen.

  64. Laurence says

    Thank you for this excellent response. I do agree that this is a consequence of human discourse. I know that from my own experience that there are some blogs whose comment sections are more welcome to dissenting opinions than others. I don’t really blame the bloggers for that because I don’t hold them responsible for their commenters. But when it comes to sensitive issues where people have a lot of their emotions invested in, I can understand seemingly hostile responses.

  65. says

    xtog42 doesn’t actually think I’m a bad writer – ze was just trying to be mean. I appreciate the kind words, but trust me – nobody thinks more highly of my writing than I do.

  66. Akira MacKenzie says

    Are Pat Condell and The Annoying Atheist battling to the death for the no. 1 spot?

  67. ChasCPeterson says

    Ah, it’s “courage”, eh? Maybe the wizard will give him some brains next.

    is that original?
    Because it’s brilliant. (In the USA sense of ‘brilliant’)

  68. ChasCPeterson says

    those are impressive credentials.
    You might be just the guy to fill that open position as Commenter on the Internet.
    Can you post a scan of your Mensa card, please?

  69. ChasCPeterson says

    Physioproffe is a diversity hire.

    *whispering*Yankees fan

    *eyebrows way up*

  70. Goldstein Squad says

    Freethought blogs are shitty.

    Myers and Brayton control them.

    And they are shitty too.

  71. Goldstein Squad says

    And they censor a lot too.

    That’s also shitty.

    Oh, and did I say, YOU are shitty?

  72. says

    This is what I was talking about in the Google+ hangout. If you’re going to insult us, WORK HARDER AT IT.

    Seriously, if our only critics are stupid assholes, I’m going to assume that we’re doing something right. Your feeble attempts at bashing us are having the complete opposite effect that I’d imagine you intend.

  73. ChasCPeterson says

    This wasn’t about disagreeing – this was about being an asshole.

    Precisely.
    (This, by the way, is the fundamental point that the pitizens of ERV refuse to acknowledge about why they are so poorly thought of in some quarters.)

  74. F says

    Crommunist:

    xtog keeps saying that, but has neither left nor changed the subject of their posts, which are heavily “Ed Brayton didn’t build the blog network I wanted with the exact subject matters covered in blogs that I wanted, and I have some pedantic issue with the use of the term Freethought which I believe to be trademarked and owned by some apparently unified 300 year old movenmet and ur doin it wrong. That and Ed and the blogs here hate dissent and crush it ruthlessly by having highly rational, relevant, and insightful bloggers and commenters murdered then thrown into an oubliette in the Siberian permafrost.

    That is to say that while your characterization is correct at sub-post #8, xtog’s idea of piled-on and railroaded lies 70-80% outside the bounds of reality.

  75. says

    …avocado and cilantro risotto recipes?

    I have never bothered to check out PhysioProffe’s blog, but I am going to be all over that. *dashes off to read*

  76. geraldmcgrew says

    FTB is run as essentially an extension of the egos of PZ Myers and Ed Brayton

    I noticed that you didn’t attempt to refute this “meme” (and several others). Given that PZ generates the majority of the blog’s traffic and Ed administrates it, it stands to reason that they drive this bus.

    FTB does not tolerate dissent, and enforces its repressive agenda through banning, mockery/ridicule, and flying monkeys (this being a descriptor of regular denizens of the Pharyngula comment threads)

    Again, you made no attempt to refute this “meme”. Given that PZ frequently sends out his “minions” to crash sites, polls, and blog comments, this meme would be pretty difficult to counter. Further, the fact that PZ threatens banishment (and gleefully so) to anyone expressing the slightest bit of dissent or disagreement on his blog directly supports this meme.

    FTB is run by (or home to, depending on who you ask) radical feminists

    Again, you make no attempt to refute this “meme”. That FtB is home to several strong feminists, PZ included, and dissent or disagreement with their positions makes it near impossible to exist here has been abundantly exposed over the last couple of weeks.

    FTB is a leftist, ultra-PC, political entity

    Again…well, you know.

    FTB spends too much time talking about things that aren’t material science and/or atheism

    This is a subjective call of personal taste. However, it is interesting to see the transition that has taken place over the years. When a few of these blogs were over at ScienceBlogs, science was the primary subject, along with atheism/skepticism, politics, and current events. Those subjects were what first attracted me to the blogs. But over the years that has changed, especially since the move to FtB. The amount of science blogging has gone down dramatically (I suspect the demise of ID creationism had a lot to do with that). I miss the science-first focus, but again that’s a matter of personal taste.

    Once FtB really got going, I immediately noted the number of feminist-oriented blogs. Not that it’s a bad thing, it was just something I noticed. Since it’s not really a subject I’m interested in, I just didn’t read those blogs. No big deal. But then I started seeing more and more feminist blogging on blogs that previously didn’t cover it more than occasionally. Now it seems like (again, just my opinion) that it is a primary subject here and disagreement with the hyper-aggressive feminist position is cause for immediate rebuke, intimidation, and makes one the focus of a lot of attacks (e.g. by PZ’s “minions”).

    FTB is a hive mind that promotes a ‘party line’ of thinking that precludes disagreement on anything substantive

    IMO, this is abundantly accurate. While FtB will not ban someone for merely disagreeing, it definitely “promotes” a type of group-think. It’s very clear that if a Freethought blogger dares go against the group-think on important subjects (e.g. feminism, atheism), their presence here will be uncomfortable at best, and they will be the subject of multiple attacks from multiple bloggers. Of course, if they can tolerate that, including childish name-calling by the likes of PZ, all without engaging in the same sort of behaviors the others are free to employ, then they may stay. Naturally most people cannot deal with that without either responding in kind or just leaving.

    It’s very much like being a liberal in a conservative dominated discussion board. They’ll tolerate your presence, but you will be constantly hounded, ridiculed, attacked, etc. and you will also be held to a much higher standard of conduct than the conservatives. The cons can call you all sorts of names and attack you in all sorts of ways, and rarely hear from mgm’t. Oh, but if you dare do the same, you’re gone. PZ can call other bloggers every nasty name in the book and be as rude and offensive as he likes, and Physioprof can write the shittiest posts imaginable, but because they’re in line with the group-think, it’s all good.

    BTW, the points people have been raising about “shitty writing” being the reason thunderf00t was banned vs. the quality of Physioprof’s posts are dead on. Don’t insult your readers by presenting such an easily countered argument and expecting them to buy it. There may have been some very good reasons why TF was kicked out, but “shitty writing”? Come on.

  77. says

    You appear to be labouring under the mistaken impression that I listed those memes because I was planning on countering each of them head on. I was merely trying to describe the mindset of that particular group currently railing against anyone and everyone who blogs here, indiscriminately of their real/perceived crimes. However, since you asked…

    Given that PZ generates the majority of the blog’s traffic and Ed administrates it, it stands to reason that they drive this bus.

    Unless you have super-secret access to the ‘real’ stats (unlike the totally faked ones that I have access to), PZ does not drive anywhere close to a majority of FTB’s traffic. TF’s and Greg’s ejections were the first time I have even heard of Ed trying to assert anything close to editorial control over the network; however, since you have secret ninja access to the ‘real’ stats, you probably have access to the ‘real’ back channel too. I’d be interested to learn about all the things I’ve missed.

    Given that PZ frequently sends out his “minions” to crash sites, polls, and blog comments, this meme would be pretty difficult to counter

    Polls yes, because as he’s explained a gabillion times, scientific questions cannot be answered by polls. I don’t know which sites or comment sections he’s supposed to have directed his readers to – part of my lack of familiarity is the fact that I don’t read or comment at Pharyngula much. Can you give me an example of a site he’s directed people to crash? Shouldn’t be too hard, since he (apparently) does it so frequently.

    Further, the fact that PZ threatens banishment (and gleefully so) to anyone expressing the slightest bit of dissent or disagreement on his blog directly supports this meme.

    Well yeah, obviously, if you’re willing to just make shit up, then you can ‘prove’ anything! I heard that you once bludgeoned a homeless man to death with a sack of onions, so really who’s the monster here? As I understand it (having once read through the guidelines), there is a specific list of behaviours that qualify as bannable offenses. Disagreeing with PZ isn’t on that list – being boring or egregiously stupid, however, is another story entirely.

    That FtB is home to several strong feminists, PZ included, and dissent or disagreement with their positions makes it near impossible to exist here has been abundantly exposed over the last couple of weeks.

    Actually I did refute this meme. When you disagree with their (our) positions for stupid reasons yeah you’re going to catch hell. Not everyone here has the same idea of feminism, and we disagree on the details. But we agree on the 101-level stuff, and when you swagger in with your “well women can vote, and they shouldn’t wear short skits if they want to avoid rape”, you’re going to get raked over the coals. You’re making the exact same whinging complaint that creationists do when they decry atheists for “dogmatically” accepting evolution. If your understanding is so rudimentary that you’re asking dumb questions, you’re going to find very little dissent evident among those who actually understand the topic.

    When a few of these blogs were over at ScienceBlogs, science was the primary subject

    You don’t say! What a wacky coincidence!

    PZ can call other bloggers every nasty name in the book and be as rude and offensive as he likes, and Physioprof can write the shittiest posts imaginable, but because they’re in line with the group-think, it’s all good.

    Guh. Total comprehension fail. If PZ, were he called out for doing something stupid (like when he crashed BlagHag’s poll), responded to criticism by retreating into the most hackneyed and contentless response imaginable (all the while misrepresenting the nature and content of the criticism and ignoring any of the substantive points), he’d be in a world of trouble. This didn’t happen because TF wrote mean things – it’s because the things he wrote were evidence of a mind that was completely disengaged from reason, and he showed no sign of furthering any sort of discussion by actually dealing with the criticisms.

    Also, despite your repeated implication to the contrary (backed up with your magic secret statistics), Pharyngula is not the entirety of FTB. These same criticisms are leveled against other bloggers here, who are simultaneously criticized for moderating comments in order to specifically counter the kinds of behaviour you describe. It becomes a no-win situation: either we are repressing free speech because comments are moderated, or we’re doing it because unmoderated comments lead people to face backlash for being idiots.

    There may have been some very good reasons why TF was kicked out, but “shitty writing”? Come on.

    Boy do I wish I had explicitly listed those ‘very good reasons’ somewhere. That would have been handy…

    I have a question for you that I have been unable to get an answer to anywhere so far:

    It’s very clear that if a Freethought blogger dares go against the group-think on important subjects (e.g. feminism, atheism), their presence here will be uncomfortable at best, and they will be the subject of multiple attacks from multiple bloggers.

    How would you go about distinguishing that from a circumstance in which a FTBlogger is simply wrong about something, and the rest of the group points that out? I know how I would do it. I am curious as to how you would.

    Follow-up question:

    disagreement with the hyper-aggressive feminist position is cause for immediate rebuke

    What level of aggression do you think is an appropriate amount? Since we’re apparently hyper-aggressive, you must have some kind of baseline level of aggression you can suggest.

  78. dianne says

    Given that PZ frequently sends out his “minions” to crash sites, polls, and blog comments, this meme would be pretty difficult to counter.

    PZ “sends” his minions to crash polls partly in order to make a point about online polls, i.e. their complete worthlessness in proving any point at all. And he doesn’t send us, he simply points out a poll that he thinks his readers will find amusing to play with. He has no control over our computers and can’t actually cause anyone to participate in a poll or not.

    Further, the fact that PZ threatens banishment (and gleefully so) to anyone expressing the slightest bit of dissent or disagreement on his blog directly supports this meme.

    That’s a load of porcupine poop. Regular posters and random participants disagree with PZ and each other frequently. PZ intervenes when a troll is no longer amusing or instructive, usually after they’ve had quite a long period of being allowed to rant as much as they’d like.

    Go ahead. Go over to his place and disagree with him a bit. You’ll get your arguments chopped into tiny bits and probably be told to do a couple of biologically implausible things if you support the sexist position, but I’d be…impressed…if you managed to get banned without deliberately trying.

    There may have been some very good reasons why TF was kicked out, but “shitty writing”?

    I suppose there might be worse writing in the world than TFs, but short of Vogon poetry I’m not sure what it is. If I understand correctly, TF attracted attention as a youtube poster on the subject of creationism. Being able to make a decent video and being able to write well are two different things.

    Be that as it may, though, how about bad science. Trying to prove his point with an online poll? Oh, for…see point one.

  79. Ray says

    Thunderf00t didn’t make rape threats, demean women, or throw kittens into a furnace. He criticized the fucking WORDING OF A POLICY and you guys fired him for it. That was beyond pathetic.

    Fuck “groupthinkblogs”, you snobby self-righteous assholes do not in anyway represent the totality of the skeptical movement.

  80. says

    He criticized the fucking WORDING OF A POLICY and you guys fired him for it.

    Oh yeah by all means, ignore all the reasons provided for his firing, and just kinda make up your own. Much easier that way.

    you snobby self-righteous assholes do not in anyway represent the totality of the skeptical movement

    Nor have we ever claimed to. A lot of the skeptics movement are trolls, MRAs, race realists, and fence-sitting faitheists. I’m kinda glad I don’t have to pretend to represent those people. No, we just represent the good parts of the skeptical movement. TF is free to represent everyone else.

  81. Tony ...listen, learn, change says

    Ray:
    Thunderf00t didn’t make rape threats, demean women, or throw kittens into a furnace. He criticized the fucking WORDING OF A POLICY and you guys fired him for it. That was beyond pathetic.

    No. Thunderf00t minimized the very real issue of sexual harassment women face at these conventions (thus showing he’s no ally of feminism; or free thought). He didn’t criticize the wording; he criticized the policy itself. It wasn’t beyond pathetic. Thunderf00t failed to perform as a freethinker, or a feminist and was actively causing strife in the community through his narrow, uninformed views (he wasn’t a good blogger either).

  82. dianne says

    Thunderf00t didn’t make rape threats, demean women, or throw kittens into a furnace.

    I have no data on TF’s behavior towards kittens. However, numerous posts did demean women and minimize concerns. Additionally, when told that he didn’t need to fill out a form in triplicate or ask permission of the organizing committee to engage in sexual horseplay in a bar but he did need to ask the woman he was engaging, he replied “I don’t need to consult the woman”. That’s the sentiment of a rapist, whether he has ever actually completed the act or not.

  83. says

    That’s the sentiment of a rapist, whether he has ever actually completed the act or not.

    Um… you might want to spend some time explaining what you mean by that. There are a lot of gestures that involve physical contact that don’t require any kind of consent consultation beforehand, especially in certain social interactions. That doesn’t mean that I have a rapist’s mentality, it means that I understand ordinary social boundaries. If you asked TF, I’m sure he’d say that, based on the nature of the interaction with the person in the photo, establishing overt consent was unnecessary.

    The issue is that there are ways besides explicit consent to establish boundaries up to a certain point. Beyond which, if someone violates those boundaries, there has to be a commensurate response. TF decided it was easier and better to mischaracterize both the policy and the need driving it than it was to make a salient (or coherent) point about them.

  84. Loqi says

    Hey now, he might look exactly like Ed. Plus, if you look at the keyboard, “ik” is the mirror of “ed”. Probably a sign of a backchannel conspiracy.

  85. Ray says

    The guy who was banned for expressing his opinion-demonstrated that he wasn’t an ally of “free thought” by expressing said opinion.

    That is some weapons grade irony friend.

    Crommunist you are clearly a raving MRA misogynist for disagreeing with Dianne above. Probably a rapist in fact.

  86. Loqi says

    Again, misunderstanding the word “freethought”. It doesn’t mean “whatever idiotic thing you thought while taking your morning dump.”

  87. Kahfre says

    Great! Part denial, part denial, part denial, and in the end, a total denial of what and who you are. I am sorry but it seems to me that you are not really criticizing FTB here. It looks more like a form of support for FTB which is hidden well behind some ‘pseudo criticism’.

    By the way, only a few weeks and a few posts, and you already know Thunderfoot was such a shitty blogger? Even if he was, why wasn’t he was given a little more time to improve his blogging? Wasn’t he improving? I think he’d stopped using CAPS, bold, and all those things in his last couple of posts that people criticised about him? So, it looks to me he was taking criticism well. Maybe except the part where some people were advising him to stop criticising PZ Myers and FTB? And maybe that is what got him ‘fired’? Honestly, how could you think otherwise?

  88. says

    I am sorry but it seems to me that you are not really criticizing FTB here.

    You managed to crack that code, eh? Well done, Mr. Holmes.

    Even if he was, why wasn’t he was given a little more time to improve his blogging? Wasn’t he improving?

    If anything, he was getting worse (at least content-wise). As I said, I had nothing to do with the decision to remove him, and if it had been up to me I would have made a different decision. However, given the level/direction of the conversation, I’m not entirely sure I disagree with Ed on this one.

    So, it looks to me he was taking criticism well.

    So, you have a ‘just friends’ relationship with reality.

    Honestly, how could you think otherwise?

    Honestly, read the post you’re commenting on. That’s how.

  89. geraldmcgrew says

    You appear to be labouring under the mistaken impression that I listed those memes because I was planning on countering each of them head on. I was merely trying to describe the mindset of that particular group currently railing against anyone and everyone who blogs here, indiscriminately of their real/perceived crimes.

    Fair ’nuff. Some of the criticisms may be accurate, others not.

    Unless you have super-secret access to the ‘real’ stats (unlike the totally faked ones that I have access to), PZ does not drive anywhere close to a majority of FTB’s traffic.

    Really? Pharyngula is not the most viewed blog at FtB? AFAIK it’s the only one here frequently mentioned in major media outlets and such. And from what I can tell, it certainly generates more comments than the others.

    But if I’m wrong here, then I stand corrected. So which blog here generates more traffic than Pharyngula?

    I don’t know which sites or comment sections he’s supposed to have directed his readers to…Can you give me an example of a site he’s directed people to crash?

    Sorry, not “crash” in the hacker sense, but “crash” in the “look at the comments at this blog/site/article”, which has the natural effect of sending his “minions” there to rectify the situation.

    Well yeah, obviously, if you’re willing to just make shit up, then you can ‘prove’ anything!

    No, actually what I described happened to me. It was a thread about the American Atheists’ harassment policy. I offered a few suggestions and was immediately beset by ridicule, name-calling, and ridiculous childish behavior. No big deal. However, a handful of commentors asked genuine questions and responded in an adult manner, so I tried to answer and respond. PZ stepped in, called me a name, and threatened me with banishment. Why? He said it was because I was commenting too much, which was laughable given that others in the thread were commenting far more often than me. No, the only factor there was that I was swimming against the current.

    But again, I’m not necessarily complaining. It’s your guys’ blogs, so you do what you want with them. Just don’t pretend they’re something different than what they obviously are.

    being boring or egregiously stupid, however, is another story entirely

    And who decides what’s “boring and stupid”? Obviously a number of readers feel that Physioprof definitely falls in that category.

    When you disagree with their (our) positions for stupid reasons yeah you’re going to catch hell.

    Right, but obviously the group is what decides is “stupid”?

    when you swagger in with your “well women can vote, and they shouldn’t wear short skits if they want to avoid rape”, you’re going to get raked over the coals.

    Who said that? I must have missed it.

    If PZ, were he called out for doing something stupid (like when he crashed BlagHag’s poll), responded to criticism by retreating into the most hackneyed and contentless response imaginable (all the while misrepresenting the nature and content of the criticism and ignoring any of the substantive points), he’d be in a world of trouble.

    I’d take that bet. If responding childishly were cause for booting, PZ would have never have been invited here. And again, who decides what is or isn’t “hackneyed”?

    This didn’t happen because TF wrote mean things – it’s because the things he wrote were evidence of a mind that was completely disengaged from reason, and he showed no sign of furthering any sort of discussion by actually dealing with the criticisms.

    That’s probably true. Don’t think I’m sticking up for TF here. I’d never even heard of him until he came here and I also found his posts on the sexual harassment issue rather lame.

    It becomes a no-win situation: either we are repressing free speech because comments are moderated, or we’re doing it because unmoderated comments lead people to face backlash for being idiots.

    Sure. Not an issue for me. I don’t care how comments are moderated. I’m just pointing out that several of the things you listed in your post have a basis in reality IMO.

    Boy do I wish I had explicitly listed those ‘very good reasons’ somewhere. That would have been handy…

    Except you chose to repeat “shitty writing” over and over and over, thus implying that it was the primary reason for his being kicked out. Now you seem to be wavering on that.

    How would you go about distinguishing that from a circumstance in which a FTBlogger is simply wrong about something, and the rest of the group points that out?

    First of all, people are wrong all the time. So there should be a group expectation that everyone here is going to be wrong about multiple things, multiple times. In the online world however, where everything is recorded and never forgotten, there’s a very real fear of admitting error, lest it be forever thrown back in your face.

    Also, this wasn’t a matter of TF saying “Pi is 4.13″, this was TF expressing his opinion on a much more nebulous subject, i.e. sexual harassment and related policies. IOW, this was a subjective matter that is based largely on personal opinion.

    So what happened was a blogger gave his opinion on a subjective matter and was beset by many in the blog group who disagreed with him. The problem was, the group wasn’t like, “Um TF, I believe you may need to think about this more” or anything like that. No, it was typical online flame-wars.

    What level of aggression do you think is an appropriate amount? Since we’re apparently hyper-aggressive, you must have some kind of baseline level of aggression you can suggest.

    “Hyper-aggressive” refers to people who cannot discuss a subject without engaging in over the top name-calling and emotional knee-jerk reactions. Specifically to feminism, it’s the people who can’t discuss a guy asking a woman out without referring to it as “being objectified” and launching into tirades about how we “don’t know what it’s like to be objectified every single minute of the day”. It’s the people who state that a guy asking a woman out on a date is “sexual harassment”. And frankly, it’s the people who say “don’t objectify me” while at the same time asking “would you like to buy this calendar with a nude photo of me in it”.

    But really, my issue isn’t with feminism (which I support in terms of equal treatment), TF’s being kicked out, or anything like that. I’m simply disappointed in what I see as the enforced group-think that is starting to dominate the skeptical movement. As I said on another comment, in some ways the fundamentalist atheists are becoming the other side of the coin to the fundamentalist theists.

  90. Ray says

    T’foot clearly didn’t GET THE MESSAGE to get on his knees and swallow like everyone else.

  91. says

    the comments function on these blogs sucks big time.

    Do you have a suggestion for a site that does it better? We’re sort of restricted by what WordPress supports. It’s certainly true that my threading doesn’t really stand up well to marathon conversations, but most of my posts don’t generate more than 10-15 comments so it hasn’t been much of a problem up until recently.

  92. geraldmcgrew says

    That’s the sentiment of a rapist, whether he has ever actually completed the act or not.

    Ah, “hyper-aggressive” demonstrated for me. Crommunist, please take note.

    Thunderf00t failed to perform as a freethinker, or a feminist

    And my other point demonstrated for me as well. I suggest renaming this site, “Freethought Feminist Blogs”. At least that would be more honest.

  93. geraldmcgrew says

    It would be nice to click “Reply” and actually see my post appear as an actual reply to your comment, rather than as an entirely new comment. And some sort of word editor rather than using html-type codes would be nice. You know, similar to how online newspapers do it.

  94. geraldmcgrew says

    Go ahead. Go over to his place and disagree with him a bit. You’ll get your arguments chopped into tiny bits and probably be told to do a couple of biologically implausible things if you support the sexist position, but I’d be…impressed

    Two of my points demonstrated for me!

    “If you dare disagree with PZ, you will be shredded and insulted in nasty ways” and “Freethought Blogs is also Feminist Blogs”.

  95. says

    So which blog here generates more traffic than Pharyngula?

    Oh sorry, I was thrown by your use of the word ‘majority’. It is certainly true that Pharyngula is the biggest fish in this pond. It was also the biggest at Scienceblogs (who knows, it might still be). Did that make everyone else there a mere pawn of the mighty kraken?

    Any blogger who links to a particularly egregious level of stupid is going to ‘send their minions’ that way. That’s just a numbers thing. Are you suggesting that PZ should stop linking to things? Or is it a more intentional campaign you’re criticizing – again, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that but if you can give me an example I’ll look at it.

    He said it was because I was commenting too much, which was laughable given that others in the thread were commenting far more often than me. No, the only factor there was that I was swimming against the current.

    Do you have a link to the relevant thread? Because every time I’ve heard someone make this claim and I’ve actually managed to track down the actual thing, the complainer has consistently shown hirself to be a spammy pest who was banned only after being warned. Maybe PZ has gotten too trigger-happy recently. Again, I’d be happy to be proven wrong about this.

    As far as “who decides what is stupid or hackneyed”, I suppose the answer is the rest of the community. And yes, insofar as we tend to agree on the basics of issues of feminism, that will cause us to operate in a way that looks eerily similar to group-think. That is a charge I directly address in the above post. The issue is that the substance of our disagreements are non-arbitrary, and we develop cogent arguments to back up our disagreement. Saying “well you all agree with each other” is not a meaningful criticism – we agree because we understand the topic. As I’ve repeatedly tried to explain, there is no substantive difference between the ‘groupthink’ of FTB and the ‘groupthink’ of the JREF or NAS (two groups whose ‘mindless agreement’ I presume you aren’t outraged about).

    So what happened was a blogger gave his opinion on a subjective matter and was beset by many in the blog group who disagreed with him. The problem was, the group wasn’t like, “Um TF, I believe you may need to think about this more” or anything like that. No, it was typical online flame-wars.

    Did you read my dissenting post? Did you read Zinnia’s? Greta’s? Ophelia’s? They outlined specific problems with his arguments. It was TF who decided to turn up the flames on this, not the rest of us.

    “Hyper-aggressive” refers to people who cannot discuss a subject without engaging in over the top name-calling and emotional knee-jerk reactions. Specifically to feminism, it’s the people who can’t discuss a guy asking a woman out without referring to it as “being objectified” and launching into tirades about how we “don’t know what it’s like to be objectified every single minute of the day”. It’s the people who state that a guy asking a woman out on a date is “sexual harassment”. And frankly, it’s the people who say “don’t objectify me” while at the same time asking “would you like to buy this calendar with a nude photo of me in it”.

    Aha. So you’re opposed to a ridiculous strawman interpretation of the issues being discussed. That’s what I thought. I am too.

  96. bcoppola says

    …a nebbish poopyhead biology professor from Minnesota…

    Fixed. Even I, at best a Horde hanger-on, know that is the preferred epithet.

  97. says

    It would be nice to click “Reply” and actually see my post appear as an actual reply to your comment, rather than as an entirely new comment

    Yeah, that’s the threading you’re running into. Eventually what happens is the columns get so squished that they’re impossible to read. It’s why I capped the thread nesting at 3. Trust me – it’s better than one letter per line after 5 or 6 replies.

    And some sort of word editor rather than using html-type codes would be nice. You know, similar to how online newspapers do it.

    Which newspapers specifically? I can make a suggestion to our webmaster, but because we’re running WordPress our options are limited.

  98. Dianne says

    you might want to spend some time explaining what you mean by that.

    It’s not a very complicated thought. TF said that he did not have to ask permission of someone before touching them in a sexual manner. He explicitly and on multiple occasions said that he did not need to consult the person he was touching. In short, he was not willing to respect the boundaries of the other person. The fact that the person in the particular picture he showed was ok with what he did does not make it ok.

    It’s possible that I’m misjudging him. Perhaps he is counting on non-verbal signals to ensure that he doesn’t assault someone. But I never saw any real evidence of that. The only statement from TF that I saw on the issue of consent for sexualized touching in a bar was “I don’t have to consult the woman.” If he meant that he could tell from context and non-verbal signals that she was ok with it without overtly consulting her and would immediately back of if wrong, that would be one thing. But I haven’t seen any real evidence that that is what he meant.

  99. James K. says

    Dude, you need to get Ed to add some kind of “up-vote/down-vote functionality on these blogs: I just about peed my pants (and not on purpose) reading your comment.

  100. Kahfre says

    Crommunist

    Sorry. It’s a little early here. Now that I have read your post again, I take back what I said earlier:

    “I am sorry but it seems to me that you are not really criticizing FTB here. It looks more like a form of support for FTB which is hidden well behind some ‘pseudo criticism’.”

    and replace it with:

    You are blindly defending FTB, because, along with many other reasons, you are a part of it, and FTB is a part of you. And plus, this is only way you can survive here and avoid a fate like Thunderfoot’s

    As for removing Thunderfoot from FTB, from my point of view, the decision to kick Thunderfoot out doesn’t matter as much as how quickly the decision was made matters. I personally have nothing against PZ Myers or FTB or anyone else on this network, but let me ask you a question: What if Thunderfoot, being a shitty blogger that he was in your opinion, was using his shitty blogging to support PZ Myers and FTB??? Many FTB bloggers are already doing shitty as hell blogging as we speak. So, why aren’t they being kicked out for being shitty bloggers? Obviously, being a shitty blogger is not a vice around here on FTB, is it? Something else is a BIG vice around here. And what would that be?

  101. says

    Your revised comment isn’t any less stupid, just in case you thought you were fixing it. If I give you a long list of reasons why I support the decision (and, if you read veeeeery carefully, you’ll see that I didn’t do that), that is the exact opposite of doing something blindly. I might as well just accuse you of blindly criticizing FTB because you harbour a secret hatred for the Reasonable Doubts podcast.

    Also, LOL at the idea of trying to escape the threat of being fired. Do you know what would be different about my life if I got fired from FTB? Having to deal with fewer stupid comments. I ran this blog the exact same way before I was invited here – it’s why I was invited here. But as I’ve said, it seems to be a lot more fun to concoct absurd fantasies than muddle through reality like the rest of us.

    The shittiness of Thunderf00t’s blogging was not the primary reason for his dismissal. I now regret structuring the list the way I did, because it certainly lends the impression that the quality of his writing was a bigger factor than it (probably) was. I plead the enthusiasm of rhetorical flair, and the fact that I find bad and lazy writing offensive, particularly when it is associated with my name.

    Something else is a BIG vice around here. And what would that be?

    Being a vicious moron who lashes out at hir colleagues before thinking things through. Which, incidentally, covers Greg Laden’s firing too (even though he spoke the ‘hive mind’ mentality). It’s frustrating to have to keep repeating this.

  102. says

    I dispute your contention that what we’re seeing in the video qualifies as “touching in a sexual manner”. There is a boundary between sexual and playful, to be sure. Not everyone’s boundary is in the same place, and it is better to err on the side of caution. I am reasonably sure that’s what I’ve been saying all along. That being said, when asked to pose for a picture, if someone does something goofy like planting a big smooch on someone’s cheek or, as this case seems to be, pretending to eat someone’s leg, there are way more factors at play than would simply allow you to point and say “that’s sexual touching”.

    I don’t think his philosophy on consent is particularly well-informed. In his mind, ‘consent’ means exactly one thing: verbally requesting permission for everything above and beyond formal conversation. That’s stupid and wildly inaccurate. As a result, his opinion seems to be that harassment codes will make spontaneous and normally-navigable interactions so cumbersome as to be impossible. If his definitions of consent and harassment were anywhere close to accurate, his opinion would be logical. However, since it’s built on false premises, the conclusions are nutty bananas.

    I think he’s also fallen into the trap of refusing to examine his premises, so wed is he to the conclusion that he has drawn that sexual harassment policies are bad by necessity. As a result, he prefers to lash out at flimsy arguments and deputize fallacy after fallacy to shore up the crumbling edifice of his position. None of that means that he is of the opinion that consent to sexual touching is unnecessary. It just means that his strawman concept of ‘consent’ is dumb, and he’s dumb for not realizing it.

  103. Kahfre says

    Being a vicious moron who lashes out at hir colleagues before thinking things through. Which, incidentally, covers Greg Laden’s firing too (even though he spoke the ‘hive mind’ mentality). It’s frustrating to have to keep repeating this.

    OK. Points taken, and I find myself in an agreement with most of your last post, especially the part that I have quoted above in bold.. I think this is exactly what I am saying, too, only in a different manner.

  104. julian says

    It’s hilarious watching people accuse Crommunist of trying to protect his job.

    This blog, not his job. Pretty sure it’s just something he keeps to help sort out some ideas, get them on paper and occasionally bat something around.

    You know, like most blogs.

    btw, this blog existed before FtB. Should FtB close shop, it could easily continue elsewhere. Would it? I dunno. Would Crommunist want it around/get bored with it, sound like better questions.

  105. Daniel Schealler says

    @Crommunist

    Hey – when you set yourself up as a venue for combating stupidity and ignorance, it’s sadly predictable that many of your detractors will turn out to be ignorant and stupid.

    Still worthy of complaint and all… But still, it shouldn’t be too surprising.

  106. Daniel Schealler says

    One thing that should not be overlooked:

    Even if someone goes to a bar with the intention of having a one-night stand, that person still has a right to be free from harassment.

    Note that I don’t think either of you need to be told this exactly. I only point out this obvious concept on grounds that it cannot be repeated enough.

  107. Daniel Schealler says

    WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editors would be nice for many people. But me? I’m comfortable with HTML, and always revert to raw HTML if a WYSIWYG editor gives me the option. I’m probably in the minority there, however.

    As far as I know, WordPress doesn’t support WYSIWYG comment editors. But there very well could be a plugin.

    If I were going to suggest anything, it would be for editable comments. But again: Not a WordPress feature, annoyingly.

    One alternative would be to consider integrating Disqus into the FTB comments. But there’s some problems there in terms of the comment management being done through a separate administrative interface, as well as the problem that the comments exist as part of Disqus.

  108. Daniel Schealler says

    For whatever it might be worth:

    The bloggers here are opposed to racism. It’s more important an issue to some than others, and they might disagree among themselves on some of the specifics. But there’s broad agreement on the central principle that racism is bad.

    But no-one seems to have a problem with that to the point of making loaded comments about renaming the site to ‘Freethought Racial Equality Blogs’.

    Similarly, the bloggers here are opposed to sexism. It’s more important an issue to some than others, and they might disagree among themselves on some of the specifics. But there’s broad agreement on the central principle that sexism is bad.

    But for whatever reason, many people do have a problem with this, to the point that they do leave loaded comments about renaming the site to ‘Freethought Feminist Equality Blogs’.

    Why is that?

    To my mind, free-thought is just as much a natural ally for feminism in very much the same way that it is a natural ally for racial equality. So it doesn’t make sense to me why people make loaded comments about feminism at freethought blogs when they wouldn’t make similarly loaded comments about racism…

    Except for the uncharitable notion that we have more sexists in our community that feel justified and entitled to speak out against feminism than we do racists in our community that feel entitled and justified to speak out against racial equality.

    But jumping to that conclusion is un-generous.

    Could you clarify your position please?

    If I’m wrong in my tentative analysis, please indicate where I stepped astray.

    That goes for you too Ian. I don’t mean to conflate sexism and racism as if they were perfectly identical – but bigotry of all stripes operates under similar principles, so I hope I’m not too far out of line to make an imperfect analogy between the two.

  109. Forbidden Snowflake says

    Or, to be super-honest, they should call themselves “Freethought Feminist Evolution-accepting Divinity-of-Jesus-denying Racism-objecting Gay-Right-supporting Pope-disliking Blogs”. Right?

  110. scrutationaryarchivist says

    Crommunist
    …began flinging accusations, insults and general stupidity in a 360 degree arc…

    Enkidum
    …go down in flames as a result. …

    Now it’s all clear to me. I have figured out Thunderf00t’s real name. He’s Leeroy Jenkins.

  111. w00dview says

    I’m curious about this as well. What is it about feminism that makes so many skeptics morph into clones of Rush Limbaugh?

  112. says

    There are a lot of people who really don’t think that gender and race and sexuality and other non-strictly-empirical things ‘qualify’ as topics to discuss. They’re tired of the “disproportionate” amount of attention these topics are receiving, when what they want to talk about is how stupid religion is. Of course, the problems that cause sexism, racism, X-phobia are the same brain fails that cause religious belief, but for some reason that doesn’t manage to bubble to the surface.

    Also, nobody likes having their privilege called out, especially if they themselves do not see themselves as having it.

    Plus, when you call someone out on their misogyny, racism, etc., the usual response is to fight back.

    They see the safe ground for their accustomed social structure quickly shrinking as the movement does what movements do – it moves.

  113. FossilFishy says

    Hmm, I wonder why you don’t provide links to back up your claims? Ah well, never fear, I’m happy to help out.

    Your comments were addressed calmly and thoughtfully until you dropped this little turd:

    geraldmcgrew @ 159
    As if to illustrate my point…

    ANY UNWANTED ATTENTION is harassment, even one incident

    I’m at an AA conference, and later on that evening I go downstairs to the bar. An overweight, ugly woman comes up to me and says, “Hey, would you be interested in going out later?”

    On the above basis, I can now file a harassment complaint with AA management. I don’t want fat ugly women hitting on me.

    It was only subsequent to that people became irate with you. And even then the substance of your comments was addressed, over and over again until it was clear that you are just another idiot who refuses to acknowledge that the context in which actions happen matters. You dominated the conversation for almost 200 comments until PZ got tired of it.

    PZ @313
    McGrew: You’re done now. I can see what you’re doing: you’re someone who appeared out of the blue and is pulling the old creationist trick of endlessly nit-picking irrelevant or misinterpreted details out of a point of argument with no intent of achieving resolution, but only to continue the argument. I could have a lawyer show up here and cite precedent and utility of this sort of document, and you’d find something to whine about. The thread would go on endlessly.

    You are a classic troll.

    I’m serious: no more posting in this thread (the only thread you’ve ever participated in, strangely enough), because I don’t want to wake up to a 500-comment thread consisting entirely of you maundering on endlessly. Post again, you will be banned.

    Gerald’s contribution to that thread can be seen starting here.

  114. says

    Thanks for that.

    Almost exactly as I suspected. This is why I struggle to take these “hivemind” criticisms seriously – most of y’all complaining are fucking liars. Hard to take your assessments at face value.

  115. says

    Being the chief chef of Chez Xanthë I’ve had occasion to try out severalle of Comradde Physioproffe’s recipes that weren’t already in my own repertoire, and can confirm they are welle worthe trying, so for that reason alone I’ve continued following along reading his blogge, even commenting from time to time. (The effects of reading too much of the blogge, are well, quite obvious, in feelinge strangely at liberty to take a baroque approach to one’s orthography and use of profanities.) As a stylist Physioproffe may have his quirkes, but he isn’t irredeemably awful as was virtually Thunderf00t’s entire, brief output (with the redundant exception of his first “Thunderf00t is just some guy” post).

  116. smhll says

    People who disagree coherently, like Ian, are much less likely to have their intentions misunderstood and held against them. When clear enough, one can spring out of the hot water or tight corners of internet debate quite rapidly. (Unless the conversation becomes troll-blighted.)

  117. Utakata says

    Nah, you’re just sore that FtB didn’t get on their knees and and suck Tf’s (or your) deluded crap. /shrug

  118. Utakata says

    /observation

    Some of the worst kind of trolls are the one’s that write point by point long winded vacuous rebuttles that read into things the OP never said, claimed or elduded to. Their attempt seems to only wear down the writer with nit-picking and subective spin, to create the illusion of supporting evidence that unlikely exists in favor (favour) of the said troll…and oft is not very good at it. But drain the OP, he or she must; least until the OP states “uncle” and “yes indeed, pigs can fly.” Because we all know the troll will never be convinced, regardles whether evidence is clearly on the OP’s side. His/her main goal is to disrupt and desuade anyone who disagrees with their often narrow, conservative, ignorant and likely bigoted world views.

    /observation over

  119. colonelzen says

    PZ, I would like to thank you for your ongoing commitment to feminism.

    I’m a privileged, white, male chauvinist pig, knew it, know it, and have known it all my adult life. (As well as a rock hard total asshole who’t probably too good at repartee, written and on-my-feet verbal for my own good … I tend to “win”, at lest in my own mind, arguments before I can learn what my opponent is really trying to say… so I don’t learn it, too often).

    But I’m also committed to certain phiolosophical and ethical values … and as I’ve grown older I’ve realized ever more that no defense of my position and privilege is “good enough” to justify it.

    There is no justification. It simply is.

    So I’ve given not furiously, but slowly and ponderously to think…

    And while in words I’ve always “supported” equal rights it didn’t occur to me until recent years how shallow and callow “equal rights” is.

    Atheism (as a viewpoint and advoicacy of people) certainly does have a valid interest in feminism. At least if atheism has a valid interest in human beings, it does.

    This is a little incoherent and it would proably need much more to tie it together properly, but again, all I’m really trying to say is thanks for keeping something I *need* to think about, to be continuously reminded to think about, where I will see it related to other things of interest.

    I have a few out at the edge disagreements with some foundational ideas in feminism, but as I think, see, read, and learn about the real issues of real people (institutional and cultural sexism harms us males in many ways too! Particularly those of us a little different from the norms) those differences appear less and less significant. The stories and comments here help make the “issues” more human and immediate.

    — TWZ

  120. Enkidum says

    “Unless TF is totally clueless about the direction the freethinking movement is taking towards increased inclusivity and sensitivity to minority issues…”

    Well, I think the evidence is pretty firm that he is clueless about that. But I suppose you’re right to not ascribe to malice what can adequately be explained by incompetence. Although I still have my suspicions. But at the end of the day, it simply doesn’t matter – whether he planned it or not, he did everything he could to soil his own nest.

    BTW nice dealing with the trolls on this article. Must be a frustrating part of being a blogger here.

  121. says

    Just wanted to say that I’ve come to like and respect the “FTBorg”, because y’all stand up for your ideals and don’t take shit, even from “your own”. Combined with the education I’m getting just from reading these blogs?

    FTBorg is undoubtedly capital-a Awesome.

  122. Suido says

    don’t give that first post a free pass it started with horribly constructed run on sentences that needed a whole lot more punctuation or at least a point to take a breath before you passed out in disappointment upon seeing the excessive exclamation marks!!!

    Sigh. I do still like his early videos.

  123. says

    Thanks for the compliment (’bout goddamn time my awesomeness was recognized!) — but if TF’s position was even remotely similar to mine, then he’s an even crappier writer than most of us here realize.

  124. says

    Now it’s all clear to me. I have figured out Thunderf00t’s real name. He’s Leeroy Jenkins.

    Yo, Crommunist: does your blog have a prize? Because scrutationaryarchivist just won it… :P

  125. Brandi says

    I am starting to think there may be something in the water over at youtube that makes popular atheists want to jump on the “feminazi” bandwagon. Unfortunately when they do this, it doesn’t seem to upset their subscriber count.
    *Sigh*

  126. Brandi says

    Really?
    Getting your argument chopped into bits aka getting your ass handed to you proves what exactly? That PZ is pretty fantastic at breaking down terrible arguments? Wowzers! Good thing we proved that one.

    And if you’re making sexist remarks aka being offensive you will be received with a big “fuck you” (for lack of creativity). Holy shit! Alert the media!

    I have no idea what your points are, but they must be pretty terrible if this is a big break through for you, as this is pretty common in human interactions.

  127. Kayle Lang says

    Even thought I do not agree with the details of Thunderf00t’s posts, I think he has a valid overall point. Something of which some TF opponents are ignoring. But lets just talk about your blog post.

    You constant repeating about hoe TF is a ‘shitty blogger,’ (of which is 4 of your reasons for why he was fired) inadvertently makes your blog seem even worse. Seriously, no matter how good or bad TF’s posts were, you are showing your weaknesses of being a poor writer and lack of professionalism in spades.

    You became the very thing you accuse TF for being.

    Reading you in a comments section is even worse. I do not wish to be called names or be told I live on another planet. If you have a point, please do it with a calm and clear mind.

  128. says

    There are few things that annoy me more than having someone accuse me of ignoring substantive points (which, by the way, I address – you just have to read around the insults), all the while IGNORING MY SUBSTANTIVE POINTS. I think the seagulls outside my window at 5:00 in the morning are more annoying, but only by a little bit.

    I do not wish to be called names or be told I live on another planet

    Try to avoid saying stupid shit then. Amazingly, people who have good points (that is, points that are supported by something other than the iron-clad rigour of “I agree with the moron for reasons that I will not bother to specify”) don’t get told off. You know why? Because they’re using their brains rather than just wiring their fingers directly to their sense of outrage and letting fly.

    But hey, great tone trolling. Always nice to see confirmation of my central thesis that no matter their theology, some people will always side with style over substance.

    Seriously though. There are more than 1,000 words in this post. Why is everyone fixated on 4 fucking bullet points. I feel like, for the majority of the criticisms I’m taking for this piece, I might as well have just written “Thundef00t sucks” – that’s all you’ve read anyway.

  129. sc_78943705727ce8b5cd2d182cbc30c5cc says

    Dude, your post would have been more credible if you had just said “T-foot sucks” because your post as it stands its juvenile enough to embarrass a 7th grader. “Shitty blogging”, really? LOL.

    I am really disappointed in you Cromm, because you have previously made several blog posts in defense of free speech you don’t agree with. You have even admitted that you would have handled this differently yourself and I believe that. I think you compromised on your principles to make PZ happy and this post is your ad-hoc rationalization to yourself of your involvement in an action you know was wrong. Shame on you.

  130. says

    Once again – all points ignored to focus on four lines of repetitive text. Y’all have no appreciation for rhetorical flair. Read a goddamn speech sometime.

    this post is your ad-hoc rationalization to yourself of your involvement in an action you know was wrong

    My INVOLVEMENT? Dude. Holy fuck. You MUST have seen the part where I said that I had no involvement at all in TF getting fired. I know this, because you SPECIFICALLY SAY SO, in the previous sentence of your comment no less!

    Also, the reason I defend free speech is because I understand what it is. You clearly don’t. Firing someone for making an ass of themselves is not a violation of free speech. It wasn’t when Laura Schlessinger did it, and it isn’t when Thunderf00t does it. TF is free to publish his nonsense anywhere he likes – nobody has taken that right away from him. All FTB has done is said that we don’t want it done on our platform.

    And seriously, I don’t have two shits to give if PZ is happy. As I’ve laboured to explain again and again, my life changes NOT AT ALL if I am shunned or dumped from FTB. Seriously – I have a rich personal life that doesn’t involve blogging at all. I like PZ, and I prefer to be on good terms with the people I work with, but there is no part of me that would hold back on calling him out on some shit.

    Also…

    Shame on you.

    YOU’RE NOT MY REAL DAD! I HATE THIS FAMILY!

  131. Kayle Lang says

    First, I stated a vague idea on my position about Thunderf00t because I thought it would be inevitable that either you ask me what’s my position on the TF issue itself, or be called a TF drone. I intentionally left it vague because I do not want the conversation to derail from this specific point. So can we just leave it at this?

    Second, I did not specifically said that you ignore TF’s main point as for I haven’t read enough of your other blog posts. Right now, lets leave your other blog posts out because this would also derail the this particular thread of comments.

    Third, I thought I make it clear that I was not talking about the main thesis of your blog post. All I was doing what pointing out the hypocrisy of your post.

    Finally, I shouldn’t need to read about the insults. That’s the point. If I have to read around insult after insult, that shows a lack of professionalism. Thus, to call TF a ‘shitty writer’ is a mere case of throwing stones while living in a glass house. I know TF is famous for his insults, but if you fall for the same trap, does that make you a better man?

  132. says

    So can we just leave it at this?

    So you said you SUPPORT TF’s point, but you don’t want to say why, because you want to focus on how important your opinion of my writing is? Yeah, because that’s going to make me take you seriously.

    I haven’t read enough of your other blog posts

    Or, I would venture, any of them, because I’ve written about this issue exactly once before.

    Finally, I shouldn’t need to read about the insults. That’s the point.

    I am finally getting it. You’re new to the internet. You’re probably new to polemic, too. Well, welcome to the world of blogging I suppose. Insult is a rhetorical tool. It is one that I occasionally enjoy using. If your goal is to get to the last boss of the interweb without seeing any bad words, I’ve got seriously bad news for you. Believe it or not, describing someone’s writing as “shitty” doesn’t qualify as shitty writing. If that was the only thing I’d said, then you’d have the beginnings of a point. But of course you are of the opinion that all the parts that don’t comport with your argument can simply be ignored.

    I know TF is famous for his insults, but if you fall for the same trap, does that make you a better man?

    I am not criticizing TF for using insult. Please point me to the part where I said his writing was shitty because he used naughty words. No – his writing is shitty because it lacks coherent structure, narrative flow, even consistent formatting. The content shows no evidence whatsoever of the employment of reasoned argument, and is rife with hypocritical identification of straw men (followed immediately by a heaping bonfire of straw of his own creation). If he had made a coherent point but merely couched it with insult, I would have far less to say about it. Instead, he made bad arguments and then blamed everyone else for not being able to understand his “nuance”.

    I don’t know about ‘better man’, but I’m definitely a better writer. The bar for that isn’t exactly set super-high though.

  133. Kayle Lang says

    No, I am not new to the internet. Believe it or not, there are corners of the internet that don’t have flame wars. I look at my bookmark bar right now and many of those websites are a prime examples. That’s partly way I don’t read blogs all the time, I know I will see posts like these and many times, much worse. I only come around every so often if I am in a mood for a debate. I love showing the hypocrisies of people. It’s fun and I don’t need to throw fallacies around to get someone engaged.

    As for the swearing, I don’t really care. You could’ve said “horrible writing” and I would be making the same point. But if standards is such an amazing factor that you have to repeat it over and over again, maybe you should follow them too. It kind of contradicts your point “welcome to the internet” when it supposedly one of the reasons why TF was fired.

    I know you said nothing about TF making insults. When I originally typed out my argument, I thought about any potential replies.

    Look, I am not going to set up a protest against you. Instead, I am just pointing out the irony.

  134. Kayle Lang says

    If you can’t see the irony, I don’t see any reason to continue this discussion. How could we talk about your faults if you are never willing to see it. It’s like when atheists disproving the bible, creationist will still believe it.

  135. says

    I have specifically explained why the parallel you’re attempting to draw is a false one. The fact that you’re not reading it isn’t really my fault. Calling someone a ‘shitty writer’ isn’t shitty writing. It is well within the scope of ordinary polemic, and when delivered as part of a much larger argument, it functions as a rhetorical device – crudeness as a counterpoint to the other more explicit points.

  136. kommissarw says

    I’d might call Rebecca Watson “Batshit Crazy” if she wasn’t affected by the cumulative invective & threats she gets.

    MRA types exist and for her to be on the radar & be told this gives her absolutely no way of telling if they are throwaway threats or if she has stalkers & how many.

    While to an extent RW is a bit of a lightening rod for the invective of the pathetic & thus attracts a attention of real batshit crazies disproportionately, there is a wider problem of “sexual aggression” that even me, an Autism Spectrum male can pick up on.

    If I can “get it” why can’t most guys? I infer from this that they don’t want to, or would prefer a simpler narrative or are located toward the sharp end of misogyny. This sickens me.

    This is not “Free Speech at all costs” vs “Femonazi Hive Mind”. Its “Its my RIGHT to believe BATSHIT CRAZY NOTIONS CONTRARY TO EVIDENCE” vs “Evidence Based Intellectual Integrity”.

  137. says

    Part of this backlash undoubtedly comes from the fact that many people simply do not see all the forces at work. I see much of this same backlash from people who deny the effects/presence of racism – a cop kicking the shit out of a black kid isn’t necessarily ‘racist’ – cops kick the shit out of all kinds of people! How can you prove that this particular cop is motivated by race? You can’t! What, do you have a mind-reading machine? Ha!

    Except when you look at the disproportionate search and arrest rates, disproportionate aggression against young black men by police officers, take into account the social climate toward black people, and any number of other factors that demonstrate the existence of racism, it begins to paint a very vivid picture that racism is very much a part of the background noise, and more than likely plays a role in any given interaction. It doesn’t mean that the police officer is ‘a racist’ and therefore the blame is on hir, it means that we have to learn to be more aware of, and skeptical about, our own motivations.

    If I can “get it” why can’t most guys? I infer from this that they don’t want to, or would prefer a simpler narrative or are located toward the sharp end of misogyny.

    The “I did, so why can’t they” argument, while tempting, is usually a bad one. We are the products of years of differing experiences and motivations. I don’t think that the anti-feminist crowd is necessarily made up of ‘bad people’, I think they are just people with bad ideas. Speculations about people’s conscious motives are similarly seductive, but usually lead us to lay the blame on individuals rather than environments, which is a classic Fundamental Attribution Bias fallacy.

  138. kommissarw says

    I appreciate your efforts to educate me.

    In support of your claim, I have a feminist mother & 2 older sisters & I heard a bit here & there about sexual harassment from them.

    Reading up on Fundamental Attribution Bias fallacy now.

  139. says

    The whole TF00t thing on FTB has been rather sorely depressing, to be honest. I basically had two major voices I’d look to for good arguments against religion (PZ on here, and TF00t on youtube) and was excited to see the f00t joining FTB…

    Unfortunately one of the things that makes his channel on youtube what it is is basically the fact he doesn’t know when to quit and doesn’t play well with others (as Venomfangx and Dawahfilms found out the hard way).

    Acting like a pedantic asshole can make for entertaining videos, and even work in that format to get the point across, but it was downright horrifying to see him trying to use the same argumentative tactics against ‘friendly’ targets after kicking a hornet’s nest he had no business going near in the first place.

    And when the person you’re picking the fight with is basically your boss… yeah, I think the term in Dungeons & Dragons is “18 Intelligence, 3 Wisdom” (sure, the guy’s smart as hell, but his common sense when anyone does anything he sees as an insult isn’t going to win any awards)

  140. says

    To be clear (and I hope I have been already), I think TF is very good within his own area of expertise. I would be hopelessly at sea if I tried to make an anti-creationist video, because I am not that kind of scientist. The little I have seen of his material science work has been very impressive.

    But the total lack of self-critical rigour it takes to post the stuff he did – with increasing intensity – suggests to me that his aptitude for reason doesn’t really extend too far outside of the biology ring. We all have our blind spots – it’s how we react to counterargument that (I think) defines how skepty we actually are.

  141. says

    I hear ya. From memory I think I actually physically facepalmed when he started the “Learn to read FFS” stuff.

    The guy’s good with biology, he’s good with physics, he’s good with chemistry, he’s good with astronomy, he’s good with geology… he’s not so good with PEOPLE. If it can’t operate with fairly rigid scientific rules and behave the way it’s meant to behave, he seems to end up rather…at sea.

    That said, one does wonder if he’s thrived on YouTube because of the aggressive personality and lack of an ability to concede on a losing hand, or if it is the constant barrage of BS he would receive on YouTube that has altered his behavior to bring those traits to the fore.

    You know, bullied kid becoming a bully in the schoolyard kinda deal.

  142. says

    Exactly: Physioproffe is irritating, pointless, and irrelevant (nice recipes, though). Thunderf00t was outright contrary to the ideals of the movement, confrontational, and idiotic.

  143. says

    I don’t know what you mean by “ideals of the movement”, unless you mean that he quickly abandoned any semblance of reason in his zeal to criticize the harassment debate.

  144. geraldmcgrew says

    Again, demonstrating my point for me.

    If you look through that thread you’ll see that I offered that hypothetical to demonstrate the flaw in the AA policy. By defining “harassment” as including “unwanted sexual attention” and also stating that it would not be tolerated and could result in a person being ejected from the conference, the situation I described could occur with the complainant being able to point to the policy and demanding action.

    Obviously what folks instead decided to focus on was my choice to illustrate that point via an “overweight, ugly woman”, as if such people don’t exist and I am expected to never mention their existence. PZ’s first comment was a pathetic, laughable strawman “Gerald plans on actually doing this” and after I expressed my disappointment at his less than thoughtful response, he threatened to ban me, tellingly for commenting too much even though I wasn’t the most prolific commentor.

    IOW, the situation was a great example of what many are complaining about and what Crommunist captured in the OP. There is indeed a “hive mind” mentality at FtB, especially around the issue of women and feminism, and anyone expressing any sort of disagreement or even offering suggestions is immediately beset with all manner of name-calling and childish taunts, until eventually being banned outright for daring to respond (even responding politely).

    It seems this segment of the skeptical community has become exactly what it was intended to combat, and all the while remaining laughably oblivious to it.

  145. geraldmcgrew says

    Crommunist,

    Oh sorry, I was thrown by your use of the word ‘majority’. It is certainly true that Pharyngula is the biggest fish in this pond. It was also the biggest at Scienceblogs (who knows, it might still be).

    Oh, so now Pharyngula does indeed generate more traffic than any other blog here. You could have just acknowledged that the first time around and saved a lot of time.

    Did that make everyone else there a mere pawn of the mighty kraken?

    Probably not, but to pretend this fact plays absolutely no role in how this community is run would be delusional.

    Any blogger who links to a particularly egregious level of stupid is going to ‘send their minions’ that way. That’s just a numbers thing. Are you suggesting that PZ should stop linking to things? Or is it a more intentional campaign you’re criticizing

    It’s not a criticism as much as a simple observation. PZ commands a small army of followers who are known for being extremely nasty, aggressive, and persistent. Thus, it’s simply understood that to criticize PZ, Pharyngula, his “minions”, or anything like that will generate a sizable backlash (as Andrew Tripp is now finding out). Again, to pretend that plays no role in anything that goes on at FtB would be delusional.

    Do you have a link to the relevant thread?

    HERE Now you tell me what specifically was so awful about my suggestions that warranted being gleefully threatened with “the banhammer”.

    As far as “who decides what is stupid or hackneyed”, I suppose the answer is the rest of the community. And yes, insofar as we tend to agree on the basics of issues of feminism, that will cause us to operate in a way that looks eerily similar to group-think.

    Is it majority vote? And what “basic issues of feminism” does everyone here agree on?

    Saying “well you all agree with each other” is not a meaningful criticism – we agree because we understand the topic.

    My, how convenient. Thus, anyone who disagrees with you doesn’t understand the issue, by definition. Ken Ham would be quite envious!

    Did you read my dissenting post? Did you read Zinnia’s? Greta’s? Ophelia’s? They outlined specific problems with his arguments. It was TF who decided to turn up the flames on this, not the rest of us.

    Did you read PZ’s? No flaming at all here?

    Aha. So you’re opposed to a ridiculous strawman interpretation of the issues being discussed.

    Except “being hit on = sexual harassment” is exactly what is repeatedly stated in this community. Heck, it was expressed in PZ’s first post to TF!

    The argument encompasses meetings, but also the larger geek and atheist culture, which turns out to be pretty damned sexist. You do not correct the broader problem by turning a blind eye to the specifics; it doesn’t work to say that you reject misogyny, but oh, that meeting there? It’s OK if you hit on women there. It’s OK if you abuse women in a bar; bars are free-range markets for men to exercise their will.

    Hitting on someone is lumped in with abuse of women? Sheesh…

    most of y’all complaining are fucking liars. Hard to take your assessments at face value.

    Next time you accuse someone of being a “fucking liar”, try to at least feel some sort of moral obligation to back it up with something specific. Or do you feel no such obligation?

  146. Smhlle says

    Re: fixation

    In the same frustrating vein, there’s a great guest post, I think on Ed Brayton’s blog, about atheists participating in social justice. It lists the names of several murdered trans women. But, maybe because it feels more personal, most of the starting posts are about these two words — echo chamber — which were used in an ambigous sentence.

    And, crap, I’m probably amplifying the noise, not the signal.

  147. says

    ‘Majority’ usually means more than 50%, not the largest single entity in a group. Like I said, your use of the word threw me. You are correct that PZ’s traffic is the majority. You are not correct to infer that this makes the slightest bit of difference to the way the rest of us run our blogs. You can feel free to run around the pre-October archives of this site if you wish evidence for this claim.

    There is definitely a culture in the Pharyngula comment threads that seems to function primarily to discourage trolling. I don’t see PZ as being a major contributor to that. Then again, as I said I don’t read his comment threads often, so I could be very wrong. I am definitely appalled by what I see as a ridiculous overreaction to what I saw as an initially relevant and troll-free question. I became quickly less sympathetic when your question was answered repeatedly by a number of people but you refused to modify your original claim. That looks very much like trolling, and it is for that reason you were threatened and then banned. To say that it was simply for dissent is, indeed, a fucking lie.

    My, how convenient. Thus, anyone who disagrees with you doesn’t understand the issue, by definition.

    You realize you’re making Ken Ham’s argument, right? This is just the complaint from ‘Expelled’ all over again. If you have to ask “well why are there still monkeys” or want to teach the ‘controversy’ between science and IDT, then you have demonstrated that you in fact do not know what you are talking about. And again, the disagreements are not arbitrary. When someone (including TF) makes elementary mistakes of logic or fact, they are spelled out to him. When he ignores them (or worse, compounds them), that is not us being dogmatic ditto-heads – it’s someone failing to understand the topic about which he is opining. Do you see the difference?

    I honestly do not see flaming in PZ’s post. He points out exactly where and how TF’s statements are in error. Could you maybe show me which statements you feel are particularly off-side?

    Hitting on someone is lumped in with abuse of women?

    My answer to this question got hella long, so I will put it up as its own post that you (and others) can comment on.

  148. Kahfre says

    There is definitely a culture in the Pharyngula comment threads that seems to function primarily to discourage trolling.

    To give you a couple of examples:.

    They at Pharyngula, when they don’t understand a point, they start calling it ‘mental masturbation’ over and over again, instead of properly addressing it, or asking for clarifications, or even admitting they didn’t understand it. Isn’t that a form of trolling?

    Plus, the so called ‘regulars’ there probably see it as their birthright to be abusive with any new-comer, given the new-comer dared to disagree with the mainstream views on the blog. But if the new-comer responds in the same manner, they start crying and start calling to PZ Myers for help, and for the ‘banhammer’. Isn’t this yet another form of trolling?

    True they discourage trolling at Pharyngula, but one fact they are most likely not aware of is … they discourage it with more trolling. Like the ‘fight fire with fire’ principle, they fight this so-called trolling with their own trolling.

  149. Stevarious says

    To give you a couple of examples:

    Not to put too fine a point on it… but those aren’t actually examples. Just opinions.

    Unless you meant examples of opinions you have of Pharyngula?

  150. smhll says

    @Gerald

    (Due to limits on comment nesting, I couldn’t link this to the right spot.)

    No, actually what I described happened to me. It was a thread about the American Atheists’ harassment policy. I offered a few suggestions and was immediately beset by ridicule, name-calling, and ridiculous childish behavior. No big deal. However, a handful of commentors asked genuine questions and responded in an adult manner, so I tried to answer and respond. PZ stepped in, called me a name, and threatened me with banishment. Why? He said it was because I was commenting too much, which was laughable given that others in the thread were commenting far more often than me. No, the only factor there was that I was swimming against the current.

    I’m so glad someone found a link so that I could see the thread, which was one I had missed when out of town.

    Gerard, I agree that some of the posters jumped pretty fast to the conclusion that you were probably a bad faith troll and were quite obnoxious in their responses. I think your first post of suggestions raised some points worth discussing, but I would not describe it as a “few suggestions” due to it’s length.

    You posted 34 times in a five and half hour period From [143] and ending at [303], followed by one straggler. 34 posts out of a span of 160 seems like quite a lot. Other things that might have made the blog host peevish include pickiness, tenacity and dwelling on the possibility of false harassment reports, even though people (not you) keep posting that hardly any harassment actually happens.

    “Swimming against the current” is absolutely not the only factor in PZ getting out the banhammer polishing cloth and waving it about in an intentional way.

    I think people did tend to counter you as though you had made the anti-policy arguments made by other people. They appeared to interpret what might have been helpful nitpicking as nitpicking designed to prove that the policy wasn’t workable and could never be workable. (There’s been some of that going around.)

    I think it’s offensive to call adult people “minions”, but not offensive enough that I’d file any formal complaints via the formal complaint system.(TM)

  151. Silentbob says

    (pet peeve)
    Please find out what the phrase “begs the question” means before using the phrase.
    (/pet peeve)

  152. says

    They at Pharyngula, when they don’t understand a point, they start calling it ‘mental masturbation’ over and over again, instead of properly addressing it, or asking for clarifications, or even admitting they didn’t understand it. Isn’t that a form of trolling?

    If that’s what’s really happening, yeah, it could be called trolling. But there is another explanation for what’s happening there, which is that people are getting their stupid assertions debunked, and responding by saying “No, you don’t understand…” and trying to reword their stupid arguments until people just get sick of it and go from refutation to mockery. That insistent flogging of discredited arguments can also be called trolling. (Religious asshalos do this a lot, because they’re either too ignorant or too dishonest to really engage with arguments that don’t fit their assigned script.)

    On a larger note, why all this harping about Pharyngula? It’s not the only FTBlog, and it’s damn sure not the best one either. If you don’t like Pharyngula, for whatever reason (and I have a few myself), there’s plenty of other FTBlogs that are more civil, more mature, and more INFORMATIVE, in both the OPs and the comments.

    Quite frankkly, I think all this bashing of PZ and Pharyngula is just a lame attempt to discredit FTB as a whole (in time for the 2012 election), by pretending one of its least creditable blogs is representative of the whole thing. That’s bullshit, I’ve known for years it’s bullshit (the same was true of Scienceblogs), and the bullshit is getting old and stale. You don’t like PZ or Pharyngula? Fine, show your chops on another FTB. Put up or shut up.

  153. Sellsword says

    Why is it that the only recognisable people who take this point of view, just happen to blog for freethoughtblogs?

  154. anon101 says

    The modus operandi on pharyngula has always been to call people that did not agree with the OP stupid fuckwits or variations thereof. This was long before feminism was even an issue back then pharyngula was only on scienceblogs. This modus operandi is quite common on the rest of ftb, too just that if the topic is feminism insults like MRA or misogynist are mixed into mix.

    I don’t want to defend Tunderfoot in any way but since your points are more general I would like to address them still.
    Concerning “hive mind” I think it is fair to say that while there is no official policy to become a member of ftb you are still expected to share certain values. You would certainly not let Mark Shea blog here. I don’t understand why this is so difficult to admit. I don’t know how far this hive mind extends yet I found it difficult to actually find an important issue where there is substantial disagreement on ftb. And by substantial I mean more than one lone dissenting voice.

    Re leftist. Ftb is leftist. I don’t see why you would want to argue with that.

    Concerning ultra-PC. Ultra-PC is an opinion I would not necessarily share. What is interesting though is that the demanded PC standards are so high that the people that demand them are not able to keep them themselves anymore. And if they slip they make long posts explaining why the slippage was not really one.

    The modus operandi on pharyngula has always been to call people that did not agree with the OP stupid fuckwits or variations thereof. This was long before feminism was even an issue back then pharyngula was only on scienceblogs. This modus operandi is quite common on the rest of ftb, too just that if the topic is feminism insults like MRA or misogynist are mixed into mix. I don’t want to judge that but there are blogs that do operate differently.

    Lastly you can make an interesting observation. Creationist blogs frequently ban people for dissenting while anti-creationist blogs usually don’t do that. Most atheist blogs don’t ban people for dissenting while a lot of the religious blogs do that (there are notable exceptions). Now feminist blogs and skeptics blogs with feminism related post ban people for dissenting. That’s something that should make you wander.

  155. says

    Ftb is leftist.

    Okay, we’re leftist. Are we demonstrably WRONG about anything significant? Because if the answer to that question is mostly “no,” then the people calling us “leftist” need to start admitting “leftists” aren’t so bad.

  156. anon101 says

    Are we demonstrably WRONG about anything significant?

    Leftists are wrong with respect to all the things they always have been wrong about: economy, social security, immigration (more), foreign policy (pacifism), and environmental protection.

  157. Pen says

    After fighting a few quiet battles on FTB in favour of something like European style hate speech laws and not in the least expecting to win, I’m feeling rather strange. Could it be that FTB will come out with something like a restriction on hate speech? Drafted by Ed Brayton or all people? If so, I think it will be for the best. Yes, it seems as if the real practical consequences of hateful and abusive speech on other people’s lives are starting to dawn. Like smoking, it really does do harm, you really do have to stop it.

  158. Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion says

    Pen:
    I have to disagree strongly on the hate speech laws front – I’ve always thought it’s much better for the speech to be out in the open and called out on what it is. Laws against hate speech just push the issue out of sight and don’t do a thing to correct the underlying bigoted mentalities.

    Allowing people free speech gives bigots a soap box, sure. The flipside is that everybody can hear. Having the nastiness arrayed in full view for the general public to see and judge gives people on the fence about issues of the day a good kick up the bottom. If social activists speak up against the bigoted remarks as well, then further fence-sitters might be dislodged. Even those who are simply clueless might gain an inkling.

    This is exactly what’s happened over the last few weeks. Public sexist speech got called out on the rubbish it was and exposed the nasty undercurrents of sexism that we didn’t want to know about. Feels like lifting a tile and watching the cockroaches scurry around in the daylight, but somehow these cockroaches aren’t so much scurrying as plonking themselves on the couch and demanding more cheesy snacks.

  159. Sili (I have no penis and I must jizz) says

    FTB spends too much time talking about things that aren’t material science and/or atheism

    Now that you mention it, there is a distinct lack of focus on graphene around these parts.

  160. oolon says

    geraldmcgrew why are you whining about being nearly banned by PZ? I didn’t see any ban in that thread – just you making what may be considered a valid point but it was nit-picking as PZ said. You kept on nit-picking and didn’t handle the insults very well… Surprised no one called you a tone troll really. PZs blog is self described as rude and crude – your point was not very interesting and insulting you obviously also got boring so he was going to ban you. Big deal, get over it.

    I had my own tussle and was called an idiot or some such by PZ myself. I was extremely rude and childish to the other insulting posters but was not threatened with banishment. If I had been I would have shut up and given up as carrying on until banned is daft. I was also standing up for Ben Radford who had been deemed a sexist due to his association with Pen Jillet so got some flak there. That is the whole point of Pharyngula if you want a civilised discussion go elsewhere. That was one of my first times posting there and I got what it was all about pretty quickly…

  161. says

    Leftists are wrong about the economy? How dumb do you have to be to say that, AFTER the obvious damage done by eight years of unchecked right-wing economic policies?

  162. anon101 says

    I’m still waiting for the list of important issues that the ftb members disagree on. You should also provide five bloggers on each side of the issues to demonstrate that there is significant disagreement.

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