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The Heresy Club on Age Trolling

Alex Gabriel, Hayley Stevens and Rhys Morgan, a trio of young skeptics and atheists from a group blog known collectively as The Heresy Club, had a Google+ hangout describing some of the trolling they’ve received in our communities from other members over, of all things, being too young. They discuss the strange double-standard of lauding young skeptics when they agree with a person’s philosophies, but turning around and dismissing their concerns as stemming from inexperience when those very same trolls disagree. It’s funny how many parallels there are to the A+ and feminist blogospherics of late.

Excellent hangout, folks. I think the only thing I’d clarify is that dismissing someone as not having had the experience you expect — which Rhys and Alex rightly point out is an unfair preemptive dismissal of someone’s perspective — does not implicate the privilege argument at all. When someone is privileged and has no way of understanding the scope of a certain tilted framework by virtue of never being affected by it, it’s possible they don’t have any valuable insights to offer. I agree that it’s terrible to suggest that because a person is young, they are too inexperienced to have valid arguments. I expect this wouldn’t extend to understanding problems that are unique to old age — short of what they’re able to read about those things, they haven’t yet experienced them themselves.

I’m heartened by this video significantly, regardless of picayune clarifications like mine. These folks aren’t just the FUTURE of skepticism and atheism in our respective movements. They are the PRESENT. And I’m glad to have them on our side.

Comments

  1. earwig says

    Blimey. Talk about ad hom. Ad puerum, more like.

    These young people are vital. Yes, present and future. Power and respect to them.

  2. jnorris says

    turning around and dismissing their concerns as stemming from inexperience when those very same trolls disagree

    I think its done for the same reason Old Farts tell kids to stay off their lawns. The kids have better critical thinking skill than the OFs and they can’t stand it.

  3. Amyc says

    I’m 24 and I still get this crap. It’s especially annoying when I find out the person is 3-5 years older than I am. Yep, what an age gap.

  4. Corvus illustris says

    Ok, I’m an Old Fart so I can grouse about some of this. (BTW, I claim that I lurk but I don’t troll.)
    jnorris says

    The kids have better critical thinking skill than the OFs and they can’t stand it.

    Creative thinking, absolutely. Physics and math are so full of people who did their best work when they were under 30–or 25–ditto musicians–that it’s really depressing and I don’t want to think about it any more. Any OF who doesn’t realize that this is where the good stuff comes from is deluding him/herself. Critical is a little less clear. If you’re around a little longer you’ve seen some of the things–e.g., apparently-logical arguments–that don’t work out, and dismissing re-trys of those is easier than it would be if they were new. Unfortunately, losing your naivety makes you not try something new (see creative above) that would work out well.

    On the other hand there is ignorance of fact. While OFs who have lived through something (e.g., the rise in US politics of the really crazy Christian right wing) see it as new, younger people can think of it as always-existing and thus more stable than it really is. On the other hand, there is also lack of perspective about early skepticism in the US (not early, but try Ingersoll). I wasn’t around then either, but there is an historical record. If you didn’t live through it, read about it!

    Ignorance of Enlightenment-era thinking is another pet peeve. The original stuff is largely in French but it’s been translated. I could go on and on, but I’m nodding off …

  5. says

    Ophelia and Jason: thanks both! Much appreciated. (On the ‘they don’t get certain issues related to old age’, yes – to the degree no group always gets specific issues which don’t affect it. But we don’t get that when we comment on things related to ‘old folk’, we get it when we comment on anything. (And also, I think you can be well-informed and reasonably aware of other groups’ issues, even if you don’t get them the way someone does who’s walked the walk.)

  6. smhll says

    Thanks for pointing this out for me, as I have an 18 year old and want to avoid being interfering and condescending. Having an adult offspring is still a new experience for me.

    I do see a parallel between putting someone down for being young (inexperienced) and putting someone down for not having had advanced education.

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