Why I Won’t Be Sporting a Scarlet A Any Longer

The Out Campaign’s scarlet A no longer graces my blog or my social media feeds. I’m still an out and proud atheist, mind you. I still think atheism is important and can do the world some good. But the scarlet A, that doesn’t do enough. And I could put up the A+ logo derived from it, but while I support the idea of Atheism Plus, I want a different and better symbol, one that suitably reflects the fact that no one on the other side of the rift is interested in bridging any divides, and so those of us who want a heaping helping of social justice to go with their atheism are going it alone. Perhaps one of you here will design it, or point me to it.

Image shows me leaning against an a-shaped sea stack at Ruby Beach, WA. The Scarlet A has been superposed over the rock. A red X is drawn through the whole picture.

My former Facebook profile pic. Fuggedaboutit. Time to replace this sucka.

Hank_Says has a succinct summary of the fuckery of the past few years, when we went from superficially-cohesive movement to Deep Rifts™. It’s what made me decide it was time to retire that particular atheist symbol:

The transition was relatively rapid, too: one minute everyone’s apparently (I’ll get to that) on the same page and looking in the same direction, the next – as soon as women identify problematic behaviour and request that we guys not do that then start talking about harassment policies – there’s an instant rift dug by people who for some reason viciously resent being told that some behaviour makes others uncomfortable. Then a few visible “leaders” say some thoughtless or petulant things, one blogger wonders if atheism can be about a little more than debunking myths and is vilified at length for the mere suggestion, a blogger or ‘tuber or two reveal themselves to be unapologetic misogynists, a parallel atheist community is born for the sole purpose of harassing and obsessively monitoring two blog networks and before you know it, women are being threatened with rape and death. With rape and death. And others are laughing at it. Including other women.


Finally, I find it highly ironic that the leadership/s that brought us the scarlet letter “A” logo, a repurposing or “taking back” of the old tactic of publicly humiliating women who dared step out of the social boundaries prescribed by the men who essentially owned them, would be so solidly behind enabling and defending a sexist status quo, and in some cases being openly hostile to all women who challenge them, whether they’re accusing accuse “leaders” of assault or inappropriate sexual behaviour or of simply saying things that are mildly (but no less thoughtlessly) sexist. In light of the last three years of harassment, obsessive monitoring, threats, both mild casual sexism and unapologetic misogyny, all with nary a disapproving look from the leaders over the tops of their spectacles, followed by wagon-circling and dismissive responses to allegations of assault and rape (some going back years), that scarlet letter is more appropriate than ever.

Yes, it is – for them. They can have their narrow-minded dictionary atheism with its old-boys club mentality, its libertarian bullshit, and its sexual assaulter protection program. I’ve got different ideas for atheism. And there are other ways to go. Let them cling to scarlet letters and smug senses of (false) superiority. We have better things to do.

Their brand of atheism is too limited to be of much use to anyone outside the newly deconverted. For those of us ready to move on, it’s useless.

To paraphrase very wise and angry feminist Flavia Dzodan: My atheism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit. Those atheists who don’t think working on social justice issues is important for atheism can fuck right off. A world without gods won’t be any less of a shithole if we don’t confront the oppressions that obviously remain when gods are swept into the dust bin. And yes, as much as I happen to hate religion, I’ll take a world with religion and true equality over a world simply without religion. Because, as our scarlet-A atheist douches have demonstrated, giving up god is only the first step in becoming a better human being.

Those who aren’t willing to take the next step can bugger off to the other side of the Deep Rift™ and stay there.

Image is a late 19th century photograph of a woman sitting on the edge of the Grand Canyon, getting ready to hurl a rock over. Caption says, "Taking a sounding to see if the deep rifts are deep enough yet."

Yet Moar Greetings from Oregon

Home now. Very tired. Gonna go take the rest of the evening off after I post this, which will probably involve chocolate, kitty cuddles, a warm bath, nearly-mindless reading, and SO MUCH SLEEP. But I couldn’t do those things without grabbing you all some pretty photos from the last day of the trip.

We stopped along the Siuslaw River a bit outside of Florence, OR. There’s a wee little park where, during the first trip we ever took, Lockwood took us for a view of the river and the turbedites that are such a huge component of the Coast Range there. I couldn’t resist the tug of nostalgia. And the calm river reflecting the autumn colors was magic. I’ll show you all that when I put together the autumn extravaganza posts I plan. For now, have some (probable) turbedite chunks reflecting in the river.

Image shows the far river bank, where a pyramid-shaped gray boulder and a smaller dark-gray one shaped a bit like a helmet are reflected in the river.

Rocks reflect.

We’ll be talking lots about turbedites one of these days. Hopefully, you’ll end up loving them as much as I do.

After lunch at a little tea room in Florence, we dropped by the Darlingtonia Wayside to show B carnivorous plants, and then decided to splurge on Sea Lion Caves. We’d never done that before, because you have to buy tickets for everyone, and the expense for a few minutes of seeing lots of sea lions plastered all over a sea cave just never seemed attractive compared to all of the other things we could be doing, many of which are free if you have a Northwest Forest Pass or go to a county park. But Lockwood’s been talking about it for a long time, and decided that we’re doing it this time. This turned out to be an awesome deal, because the sea lions are currently out to sea feeding up for the winter. This means the cave’s sans sea lions, the tickets are discounted, and you can use the same ticket to come back for free when the sea lions return. If you’re local, it’s a bargain. And the cave really is bloody amazing. I was able to shoot it without sea lions all in the way of the geology, which thrilled me to bits. We’ll be doing a post on that someday, hopefully soonish, but here’s a taste:

Image shows waves rolling in through a cleft in the basalt, with a diffuse glow from the sunlight at the far end of the cave.

Waves slipping through the tunnel.

This cave is huge, and there are channels to other bits of it, and the open sea beyond, and it’s enchanting. Especially when it isn’t obscured by biological entities. Don’t despair, seal fans! I will go back when the sea lions are there, and get you plenty of those, too. I’m just glad I got to see it without first.

That’s looking roughly south. On the other side, you basically walk up a set of stairs with a wooden canopy over them that keeps you from getting soaked by the water drip-dripping from the roof, and get this magnificent view at the end:

Image shows Heceta Head lighthouse and a swath of rocky shoreline. Foreground is framed by the dark walls of the cave.

Heceta Head Lighthouse from Sea Lion Caves.

How lovely is that?

After we got done admiring great coastal cave geology, we headed on up to Devils Churn, which I haven’t been to since our first trip. The whole Cape Perpetua area is incredible, and one I could happily spend many days at, but we only had a few hours. It was enough, at least, to shoot a great old tree:

Image shows the thick trunk and a huge lower branch of a spruce. The ocean is visible, framed by the curving tree limb.

Gnarly old tree.

We didn’t get a chance to play in the tide pools, because although this trip was meant to take advantage of low tides, we never did get to the coast when the tide was low. Silly us. I didn’t care a bit. There was a storm out to sea, which meant great waves.

Image shows rugged basalt, with a pool of water in the foreground, and the sea in the background. On the left, a wave has hit the basalt, looking like an eruption of water.

Wave breaking against the basalt.

And all I could do was stand there and stare in awe at everything.

Image shows me standing on the basalt, looking out to sea, with the mouth of the Churn in front of me. Waves are breaking against the rocks.

Moi at Devils Churn

It’s nice to be back home, with my kitty sleeping peacefully beside me, but I do wish I could be back on that coast, watching the waves break. Twas glorious.

Thanks, as always, to Lockwood, for making sure we get to see all the awesome things!

Mystery Flora: Interstate Flowers

So I stopped and smelled the roses blooming near the I405 on-ramp, like people say to do (don’t worry, there’s a footpath there, meant for creekside rambles). Once I’d done that and turned to go, these large purple flowers popped out at me.

Image shows a large bush full of purple flowers.

Mystery Flowers I

I’m not sure if these are cultivars or some sort of fancy native plant, although I lean towards cultivar. Whatever. I love them regardless, for they are large and purple and blooming in October.

Image shows a close-up of a bloom. It has five petals. Each petal is vaguely heart-shaped. The petals are purple, with darker-purple streaks.

Mystery Flowers II

They’re growing on bushy plants that were knee-high or better on me, and had gargantuan leaves to compliment them.

Image shows a single bloom with a clump of leaves behind it. The leaves have five lobes, serrated edges, and are crinkly.

Mystery Flowers III

And they’re completely full of pollen, which seems like it would be awesome for the local insects out looking for a good energy boost before winter. I didn’t see what was pollinating them, alas.

Image is an extreme close-up of a flower, showing the pollen-dotted center, and the dense streaks radiating out. The petals are very narrow at the base.

Mystery Flowers IV

I love how the center looks a bit like an anemone. Very awesome.

Image shows one of the bushes with the trees lining the freeway in the background.

Mystery Flowers V

They’re tall and flamboyant, but practically invisible from the road, for some reason. I didn’t notice them all the times I’ve passed by. It took getting over there on foot to see ‘em. If you can, when you can, get out of the steel cages and go see things at a slow pace. It’s amazing what you see.

Image shows one of the purple flowers turned toward a leaf, as if whispering a secret.

Mystery Flowers VI

It’s things like this that take the sting out of fall. This beauty, plus roses and sunshine and kitties in sunbeams, made the day very mellow indeed.

Moar Greetings from Oregon

We had a long and lovely day along the McKenzie River. This is a fabulous time of year to visit when you can get a clear day – the vine maples turn red, and other plants turn yellow, and Clear Lake becomes a rainbow:

Image shows the surface of Clear Lake: the water is green and blue, and there are streaks of red and yellow reflected from autumn leaves.

Clear Lake is a lakebow

We also got a demonstration of the majesty of nature, wot we should imitate, or so the new age folk tell me:

Image shows a dead fish floating belly-up against a bed of algae.

Isn’t nature amazing.

All right, maybe that wasn’t quite fair. Nature has its icky points, but it’s also beautiful and awesome sometimes, like when dragonflies are hovering by bird hotels:

Image shows a dragonfly hovering beside a wooden birdhouse on a tall pole. A sign on the pole says Clear Lake Bird Hotel.

Lodging for birds and other flying critters.

For the volcano lovers in the audience, here’s a fine set of formerly-flaming mountains:

Image shows a large black lava flow and several volcanoes visible at McKenzie Pass.

Many volcanoes at McKenzie Pass.

And, finally, something new! Here’s a glimpse of Lower Proxy Falls, which we didn’t make it to last time we were there.

Image shows several tendrils of water flowing over dark gray andesite and beds of moss.

Lower Proxy Falls

Tomorrow, we do the coast, and then make a beeline for home. See you there with lotsa pretty pics!

Fundamentals of Fungi: Tiny Orange Delights

There’s more than really nice gneiss and schist (plus a little native marble!) up by Ross Lake Dam. The short but challenging trail down to the the dam includes fascinating flora. I’ve been there in two seasons now. I can tell you that the early August flowers are magnificent (and I will show you some! Don’t let me forget!), but there’s a price to pay in sweat and heat exhaustion. It’s awesome in October, what with the temperature being tolerable and the lake lowered enough to see lotsa bits of marble. And yeah, there aren’t so many flowers, but there are fungi! These tiny little orange shrooms were peeking through the mosses along the trail, and they were like little chips of the sun sprinkled around.

Image shows a bed of bright green moss with tiny brilliant-orange mushrooms with wee conical caps and long, thin stems poking up.

Mystery Fungi I

So those brown pointy thingies? Those are fir needles. You know fir needles ain’t big. And yet, you see how they are huge in these photos. Even the moss looks rather big.

Photo shows a solitary orange shroom in a bed of moss.

Mystery Fungi II

They practically glowed. By the time we were headed back up the trail, it was an hour until sundown, and the trees were doing a good job blocking sunbeams. The whole forest was shadowy, and these little guys seemed to be absorbing most of the light and beaming it out. They were all, “NOTICE US WE ARE VERY BRIGHT WOOO!”

Another image of a solitary shroom. This one is peeking out, half-hidden in the moss and forest litter.

Mystery Fungi III

Now, you see how even the half-hidden ones sorta demand to be noticed. And the baby right there at the base of this one’s stem, the little button that will become a fully-grown shroom, that’s an even deeper red-orange color, practically suitable for using as crossing-guard gear. This photo can’t really do the colors justice. They were mega-intense. (Nice bit of lichen up at the top right, btw.)

And yet, I’m not kidding about how small these buggers are. Look at them with my finger for scale.

Photo shows several of the shrooms with my thumb for scale. I could fit bunches on just one fingernail.

Mystery Fungi IV

Makes my thumb look like a bloody giant’s, doesn’t it just? I love it. I love how tiny and vibrant these shrooms are. I don’t even care if they turn out to be enormously poisonous. They’re awesome. And exactly the right colors for fall!

Greetings from Oregon

Allo, allo! We’re in Oregon with Lockwood for a few days, gathering the last geology of the season (unless we get to Montana later this month – stay tuned!). Day One: Marys Peak, which B hasn’t seen yet.

The sun was at the perfect angle for finding faults:

Image shows me standing in front of a fault that has cracked a cliff of pillow basalts.

Moi with pillow basalt cliff fault.

When we reached the summit near sunset, we could just see the sunlight glittering off the waters of the Pacific Ocean:

Image shows the distant ocean through a few trees. The water is glinting and a bit pink.

Sunset Pacific

A bit later, we had sunset proper.

Image shows gold, orange and pink clouds over a dark treeline.

Marys Peak Sunset

And on the other side of the world, the moon:

Image shows a round, orange moon hovering over the city lights on the valley floor.

Marys Peak Moon

Tomorrow, we’re headed up to MacKenzie Pass, and possibly see some things I’ve never seen. Friday, if we’re lucky and the weather holds, we’ll be spending a bit of time at the Coast. And then, hopefully, we’ll return home to a living catsitter. Misha’s old, but she’s been feeling feisty lately…

Images Within Images

About time we had some happy fun times round here. Let us play with some of the first photographs of fall, then, shall we? All of the following photos have bits hidden in them, which anyone with a properly-attuned sense of pareidolia might see. I’ll help you along by giving you Subtle Clues.

Ready? Let’s see what’s not really there!

We shall begin with a simple one to warm you all up. This one’s from our recent trip to Ross Lake Dam. You can find a fantasy beastie along the trail. Question is, which movie is it from? Star Wars? Neverending Story? One I haven’t mentioned?

Image shows a group of rocks in a forest.

Ross Lake Beastie

And there’s a waterfall in this picture, I promise you.

Photo shows sort of winch thingy in the foreground, then Ross Lake, and the far shore. There is a waterfall falling in the distance somewhere.

Right. Now you’re properly warmed up, find Jesus and Chthulu!

Photo is a group of gneiss boulders. There is a Christian symbol, and a thing that looks like one of the Great Old Ones or Elder Gods.

Special bonus internet points to anyone who can identify the type of rock we’re looking at.

Going more local to me, here is a late-blooming Bothell pea, with a face hidden somewhere within its surroundings:

Image shows a purple-pink pea flower. The background has a pattern that looks sort of like the Face on Mars.

And, finally, we have got a late-blooming rose with two bees. It’s the second bee you’re searching for:

Image shows a bee hovering over a pink rose. There's another bee barely visible around the edges of the bloom.

I also just noticed the bee-shadow on the petals. That’s super!

The weather has been spectacular. With luck, it’ll hold through our upcoming Oregon trip, during which we’re going to go do a little light geology with Lockwood and soak in the last of the serious sunbeams. I’ll bring you back lots of lovely photos! And perhaps a few more hidden things, if you’ve enjoyed peering at these.

Adventures in ACE IX: More Senseless about Sedimentary

We left our merry band of Creationists, so ignorant even other YECs can’t stand ‘em, breezily ignoring all the sedimentary rock in previously-frozen wastes. Now we shall continue on while they butcher the rest. I hope you have hair. You’re gonna need some to pull out. If nature has blessed you with a pate that requires no shampoo, you may wish to glue some locks to your noggin. Don’t worry about having to acquire appropriate hair-care products: they won’t be there for long.

Now just imagine having to read this tripe repeatedly…

Image is a polar bear standing against a rock wall with its front paws over its face. Caption says, "Ahhh, the horror! Make it stop."

The ACE folks must have heard a few facts about how rocks can form once, long ago, third-hand, and remembered a few bits. They know heat and pressure come in somewhere. So they just have the Floodwaters pile up “many feet (meters) above the mountains, pushing down on the layers with tremendous force.” A bit of hand waving about the pressure heating the sediment, and by gosh, you’ve got instant rock!



You can’t just pile a bunch of water on sediment and get rock. Limestone’s happy to lithify pretty quick, sometimes, but your basic sandstones and shales, they need plenty of time. Sure, they need to be compacted, probably, but they’ve also got to get rid of excess water, and some nice chemicals to stick the grains together would be favorite. Also, when it comes to really fine grains, you’ve got more trouble than just the long periods they need to finally settle out. There’s a bigger problem: “Simple loading of other materials on top will not do; trapped water in the muds would cause sudden liquifaction of the entire mass…”


Then they have the supposedly-lithified layers of sediment getting up to all sorts of shenanigans “[d]uring and immediately after the Flood.” One would think Noah & Co. would’ve noticed all this snazzy new rock acting like it was suffering from St. Vitus’s dance, especially once they’d landed, but nobody saw fit to mention it in the Bible.

Well, perhaps Noah was just too drunk to remember.

Painting shows Noah passed out drunk and nearly nekkid. His sons surround him, putting a red blanket over him, with a bit already strategically draped over his nads. One of the kids looks disturbingly like he's about to feel daddy up.

Giovanni Bellini’s Drunkennes of Noah, ca 1515. Image courtesy Art Renewal Center.

Set aside the handful of hair you’ve ripped out and grab another: Mr. Wheeler’s about to explain about thrust faults. Ha ha ha psych! There are no thrust faults in fundie-land! All you geologists who’ve found old strata on top of young, and found evidence that the strata was overturned and put out of order by faults – you’re wrong! Science sez!

“Scientific examination shows further that some of these supposedly ‘out-of-order’ strata were smoothly deposited on top of each other, not pushed on top of each other.”

We’re told that it’s totes impossible for ancient limestone to end up on top of feisty young shale in Glacier National Park, because it’s really really big, and “Scientists have demonstrated that sliding such a large layer of rock for such a distance would be physically impossible even if the layers of rock were well lubricated.”

Oh, Mr. Wheeler, I have the oddest feeling you know nothing of lubrication, much as your “scientists” know nothing about thrust faults. There was no smooth deposition of old limestone atop young shale, and certainly not a solid, well-lubed or not, layer measuring “350 miles (560 km) wide, and 6 miles (10 km) thick” sliding up and over all in one go.

When a fault moves (for example during an earthquake) movement does not occur all along the fault, and those parts of the fault that do move are not in motion at the same time. An earthquake originates at a point along a fault, and the deformation caused by the earthquake propagates away from that point along the fault, until it dies out. The deformation also does not occur along the entire length of the fault. These observations are based on records of earthquake motions, such as those associated with the Great Alaskan Earthquake, recorded by seismometers. Similarly an earthquake along the San Andreas fault will not result in motion along the entire fault. The claim that the stresses required to cause movement along a thrust fault are large enough to shatter the rocks is based on the assumption that movement along the fault occurs simultaneously. This assumption is not valid, and any calculations made based on that assumption will be wrong.

My gosh, it’s as if the people putting words in Mr. Wheeler’s mouth know nothing about actual science, innit?

Image is a diagram showing the Lewis Overthrust and the other rocks and ranges of Glacier National Park.

Geologic Cross section of Glacier National Park, Montana, USA. Showing the Lewis overthrust fault and the proterozoic rocks above it. Image and caption courtesy Benutzer:Xavax via Wikimedia Commons.

According to the ACE geniuses, high pressure hardens fishies into fossils. No attempt is made to explain why the Flood did this to some of the animals it buried, but fossilized only hard bits like bone and shell for other animals, and pressured only impressions of some. But don’t be surprised Mr. Wheeler’s puppeteers don’t grok fossilization – these are the same folks who point to tree trunks buried upright and scream triumph when geologists actually do know that, yes, sometimes, different sedimentary layers are deposited quickly enough to preserve perishable things like standing trees. They also have a hard time comprehending things like, oh, say, whales getting fossilized in the horizontal, then tilted along with their layers later. No, their rigid faith in the Bible requires them to believe all this stuff happened practically instantly, so they deliberately misunderstand (or outright lie about) fossils like their beloved Santa Barbara whale. And we know it’s willful ignorance or deliberate deception, because scientists have had such polystrate fossils figured out since the 19th century.

No amount of creationist crap on sedimentary rock would be complete without them babbling about bats buried in flowstone. They get positively giddy at the thought of stalagmites forming quickly. Mr. Wheeler tells us that there’s a particular one growing by at least “2.5 cubic inches (41 cm^3) per year.” I tried and failed to find the origin of this claim. It appears not to have come from proper scientific investigation, but has been extracted whole from a creationist bunghole. They may also be conflating what grows in caves with the stuff that grows from water percolating through concrete or masonry, which is a completely different chemical reaction. As for their precious preserved bat – it’s pure bullshit.

Mr. Wheeler ends by telling us about shale, which was once clay mud hardened by – you guessed it – the Flood. You know, aside from the whole aforementioned liquefaction problem, there’s also the sad fact it takes bloody ages for clay to settle out of still water, and won’t settle well at all in turbulent water – a fact I’m sure all in the audience who made mud puddles and whirlpools with their garden hose can attest to.

It’s at this point that I pause again to marvel at the fact that ACE is a complete inversion of the natural order of textbooks; which always contain some errors, but are in the balance correct. These PACES seem to hail from some Bizzarro World where textbooks are meant to consist of endless errors, with the occasional lonely accurate fact stranded like a pristine kernel of corn in the midst of the sludge.

Next, we shall see how they muck up the metamorphic rocks. I hope all that hair you ripped out grows back rapidly – you’ll be tearing it out again shortly.

Image shows a cat with a shaved body and a disgruntled expression. Caption says, "Wut yoo lookin at?"

Dear Richard Dawkins: I Want My Money Back

I feel you’ve defrauded me, sir. You see, I used to think your outrage at religion and creationism was genuine, that the ideas you expressed were due to sincerely held positions, and I bought books in good faith. Now I know this was just a scheme. Your passionate arguments and righteous anger weren’t at all real. That was fake outrage. You only ever wrote the things you did for money. I feel you have defrauded me, and I demand a refund in full.

I’m sure you understand, as you yourself would never wish to enrich those employing fake outrage. Let us be consistent, then. Your $135 million net worth can surely absorb the blow.

Here are the books I require you to reimburse me for:

Image is the cover of the God Delusion with "FAKE" stamped across it.The God Delusion

This is a book filled with outrage – which I now understand was faked, as no one writes from a position of impassioned and angry honesty, but only feigns these emotions for attention. This might explain the outrageous comparison of teaching a child about hell to abusing a child. I understood at the time that you believed some children were so traumatized by the fear they would end up in hell forever, it affected their psyche worse than physical abuse would have done. However, it appears now that you were just being an outrageous asshole and infuriating child abuse survivors for attention. Anything to sell another book, eh, Richard?

List price: $15.95


Image is the cover of The Greatest Show on Earth with "FAKE" stamped across it.The Greatest Show on Earth

This whole book is one huge sneer at creationists, but Chapter 6, in which you print creationist comments made to you, only to denigrate those poor misinformed people cruelly and make fun of their “crocoduck” and monkey arguments, is especially vicious. You had us all rolling with your readings from it when you toured. I know now your rapier wit with its bright edge of anger was not being employed in service of evolution and against creationists, but merely to pick our pockets. And since I bought this book brand-new at a Barnes and Noble, hardcover, with no discount, in order to have it there in case you deigned do a signing that night (either you did not, or I was unable to get your signature), I am asking for the full hardcover price.

List price: $30.00

Image is the cover of The Extended Phenotype with "FAKE" stamped across it.The Extended Phenotype

This one is mostly about evolution, and I don’t remember you being particularly outraged in it, but right at the very beginning, you say, “This is a work of unabashed advocacy.” As you are advocating for evolution, and I can only think you are advocating against creationists whenever you do so, this book counts as part of your fake outrage oeuvre.

Besides, it’s in 10 point font, which is an outrage all its own.

List price: $19.99



Image is the cover of Climbing Mount Improbable with "FAKE" stamped across it.Climbing Mount Improbable

This book is basically nothing more than a gigantic “fuck you” to creationists, who think that evolution cannot possibly lead to such variation in forms as we see today. You shit all over religious metaphor in order to show creationists that Eden’s apple (which was, according to someone you heard lecture once, was actually a fig, and isn’t it silly anyone believes it matters because fake story is fake, duh) wasn’t designed, but evolved in a long series of tiny steps. I’m sure you wrote it just to upset creationists rather than any regard for the truth.

List price: $16.95


Image is the cover of The Blind Watchmaker with "FAKE" stamped across it.The Blind Watchmaker

You were really going all-out with this one, weren’t you, Richard? First you insult Paley’s work by filching his title and adding a sneering (ableist) word to it, then right in your new introduction, you call creationists “backwoodsmen.” Insult = outrage, and so this is a work of fake outrage rather than reasoned, dispassionate sifting of evidence for evolution. You spend the whole book bringing up creationist arguments only to stomp on them. According to you, criticism is fake outrage, and one only engages in it for the money, so you obviously didn’t believe a single word in this thick tome. All fraud. For shame, sir.

List price: $19.95

Image is the cover of The Selfish Gene with "FAKE" stamped across it.The Selfish Gene

Why, the whole of the new introduction is nothing but you criticizing your critics, and as we all know, criticism is fake outrage. Plus, you spend time calling God a “meme” and saying, “It provides a superficially plausible answer to deep and troubling questions about existence,” which seems to be unnecessarily provocative language – unless you were trying to drum up some outrage in order to nudge sales up a bit.

I tell you, it is unconscionable.

List price: $19.95


Image is the cover of River Out of Eden with "FAKE" stamped across it.River Out of Eden

At long last, have you no decency, sir? Fake outrage is one thing, but deliberately poking sharp sticks at the sincerely religious folk by titling your book after their treasured myth, and including as your title quote a verse from their most holy book, and then proceeding for nearly two hundred pages to bash their simple worldview? That is not only fake outrage (as we know you were only doing these things to sell more books), but bloody cheek. I should charge you double.

But I am an honorable person.

List price: $15.95

Image is the cover of The Ancestor's Tale with "FAKE" stamped across it.The Ancestor’s Tale

Your fake outrage is right there in the index, which is supposed to be the most dispassionate part of a book! Under “creationists,” you have the following:

“on alleged unevolvability of bacterial flagellar motor”

“going on about ‘gaps'”

“hopes dashed on improbability of large molecules”

“love of Cambrian Explosion”

So not only is the entire book a fine fuck-you to those who argue for a literal interpretation of Genesis, but you get snide in even the driest bits, and so I can only conclude you meant to drum up a lot of fake outrage to drive sales. Otherwise, you would have been relentlessly Vulcan in your language, I am sure.

List price: $16.95

Right. So that is a total of $155.69 US dollars you owe me for playing upon my good faith and my trusting emotions, sir. Now, I am nothing if not fair. I admit I seem to have had a small bump in traffic after blogging about yourself, your bosom pal Michael Shermer, and your buddy James Randi. I admit to using heated language against people who had done reprehensible things, which, by your estimation and that of your friends over there on your side of the Deep Rifts™, means I am an “outrage junkie” blogging for all that sweet, sweet victim money, of which there is lots. Give me a moment to tot up the total and deduct it from your bill.

Image shows a miffed-looking cat with an open textbook and its paw on a calculator. Capion says, "Calculator cat is not happeh with teh anser."

Oh, for… fine. Fine. Stupid !#?@ solar-powered crap in a place notorious for lack of sunshine.

Image shows a gray cat lying on its side with a pencil in its mouth. Caption says, "Right. I shall do this the wold-fashioned way."

Okay. After doing some strenuous math and diligently checking the figures, your new total is $153.83. You’ll find my donate button in the sidebar. I encourage you to make use of it, as that will save you the trouble of scrounging up your checkbook.

I shall be donating my copies of your tomes of faux outrage to our local no-kill animal shelter, which can always use things for the puppies to chew on.


“Paths Out of a Childhood Misogyny”

Ludicrous asked an excellent set of questions on a post here a bit ago, and I thought I’d take it out of comment-section obscurity and upgrade it to a post of its own:

How is it that some boys growing up in a culture that turns females into ‘the other’ are able to overcome the estrangement and others not? How did the these guys and especially the mra’s get boxed in?

I think there are many men, talented writers, who could describe their paths out of a childhood misogyny. There are many inspiring stories of folks escaping religion. What are the experiences that help men get over whatever blocks their ability to apprehend the experience of women. Women describe over and over and over what misogyny is and does and yet to these men it is somehow not real, a minor inconvenience at worst.

Several commenters answered in that thread, which tells me this is striking a chord, and more stories are out there. I’m throwing this open to everyone who found a path out of childhood misogyny, keeping in mind that any gender growing up surrounded by misogyny and sexism in their cultures can internalize this crap, even if it harms them directly. I know I did. I know I still do, and have to fight that internalized misogyny on a daily basis. So tell me your stories, and don’t worry if you’re still a work in progress: if you’ve managed to make your way to this side of the Deep Rifts™, you’ve made a good start on that journey.

I’ll include the responses from the previous thread to get the conversation started:

Patrick G:

Can’t speak for others, but for me it took repeated (figurative) smacks to the head. Eventually I realized that ‘wait, maybe there’s something I’m missing’.

After that, I was perfect, of course. *cough*


My path away from the misogyny I grew up with was mostly about listening to women, trying to understand some of their concerns, and exercising some basic empathy. It’s not rocket surgery.

I won’t say that I’ve completely escaped it yet, because some of the worst stuff lingers unconsciously, but I’m working on it.

(Same for racism and other forms of bigotry)

John Horstman:

In my own case, while I identified as a strong feminist in high school, looking back I can see a lot of sexist attitudes that I held (and I’m sure there are others I haven’t yet recognized nor begun to dismantle). Some of the things I see e.g. MRAs say have come out of my mouth. Despite being reasonably smart and definitely feminist-oriented, my own experience in a society that treated me in a particular way because people read me as White and male and heterosexual led me to a certain set of conclusions about how people interact, how social systems work, what “fair” is, etc. And while I had any number of friends who are not White and plenty who are female, that alone isn’t enough to give one a good knowledge base of the experiences of people unlike oneself – friends don’t often relate the totalities of their experiences to each other, one’s personal group of friends is still going to be a small sample, and one’s group of friends is also going to be biased to particular kinds of experiences, as one is unlikely to wind up with friends who travel in very different social environments (becasue if you’re traveling in entirely different circles, you’re unlikely to ever meet or have enough in common to be friends in the first place). Hence non-White friends or female friends not actually being any sort of defense against charges of sexism or racism (and actually attempting to use them as such is a rather insidious appropriation of their identities).

So, to given an answer to your question, those guys who get boxed in are those who never have anyone or any event push them to expand their perspectives. They stay locked in their narrow worldviews and never see any reason to look for information outside their own experiences. That’s one of the things that social privilege allows one to do, because one’s perspective is treated as the normative default, so one is unlikely to encounter any push-back about the validity (or, at least, generalizability) of one’s own perspective and experiences (as one does when one’s experiences or perspectives are contra-normative). This also explains the intense defensive reactions to challenges to privilege (it may be the first time the person has ever had that perspective or interpretation of experiences challenged), and it’s one of the ways privilege self-perpetuates, by being invisible to the people who benefit most. Even with e.g. many women loudly and publicly sharing their experiences of street harassment and denouncing it, it is shockingly easy to remain unaware of phenomena like that unless one is actively seeking out perspectives and experiences of dissimilar people. Scientists ought to know better, but even they (like most people) are prone to universalizing/projecting our own perspectives and experiences – this is, of course, why the scientific method requires repeated testing by different researchers (and ideally researchers in very different cultural contexts) to verify results. While the preceding may not accurately describe everyone in the group we’re discussing, I have noted it as a common pattern. The default state is tribalist ignorance, and it takes active effort to start to overcome that, so even in cases where pushing past that is the normative (or simply preferred) course, people will wind up in the default state by default.

I could add that perhaps a willingness to question oneself and one’s experiences (or interpretations of them) is a necessary precursor to a broader worldview. In my case, my history of mental illness led me to recognize that my perceptions were not necessarily the only possible ones or even those most reflective of reality. A depressed brain lies to itself, so successfully coping with a depressed brain can mean learning methods of self-questioning and external validation of one’s interpretations of events, which are valuable skills for questioning normative assumptions.

Uncle Ebeneezer:

On the topic of escaping misogyny: I’m a white. male, upper-middle class and I played sports and music, so I was privilaged to the Nth degree and spent most of my life in environments where casual misogyny was the norm. Until only a few years ago I was pretty damn misogynistic in my attitude and approach to dating. And I would have probably gotten defensive if I was ever really called out on it or was confronted by one of those Feminazis I had heard tales about. Nowadays I find myself spending more time reading feminist articles and nodding along as new light bulbs continue to flash on. My turn-about has been so marked that a FB friend (who moved away about 7 years ago) saw one of my posts recently about Anita Sarkesian, I believe, and remarked that she almost didn’t recognize me from the wanna-be-womanizer who loved to defend the C-word, that she used to know. She asked what prompted the change and I told her that witnessing the fights in the atheist movement, listening to/reading/absorbing the concepts of actual feminism (rather than the stereotypes) and just questioning my own assumptions was all it took to see how clueless and wrong I was. Maturing, getting married and losing my Mom probably also played a role, but it was mainly just shutting up and listening. Anyways, I’m not looking for a cookie here, just wanted to illustrate that as others have noted above it really comes down to a simple flick of the switch and willingness to examine oneself that can get the ball rolling. And a little effort going forward to try and be better. IE- it doesn’t really take much. And for people like me who had all the privilege to comfortably keep our heads in the misogynist sand, just witnessing the Freethoughtblogs Wars of 2009-? can be all that is needed to wake us up.

Image shows a chipmunk with a walnut shell on its head, looking out a window. Caption says, "I start my journey today and I walnut fail."