Sexual harassment accusations in the skeptical and secular communities: a timeline of major events »« A haiku by CaitieCat

The web of trust: Why I believe Shermer’s accusers

First: yes, the title is plural. I’ll get to that. Trigger warnings for discussion of sexual assault and rape.

I’m fairly certain I have a grasp now on why exactly there’s so much pushback against even the merest inkling that these allegations of serial sexual harassment might be true, most especially with regard to the allegations against Michael Shermer hosted presently at PZ Myers’ blog. It’s complicated, and nuanced, and will take a lot to unpack. Starting, of course, with human beings.

Humans are social animals. Every interaction requiring any level of trust therefore requires a commensurate history of social interactions one can rely upon that this trust will not be broken. Some small interactions like transactions at a marketplace use money as a proxy for that trust — exchanging money for goods and services suggests that you’re a contributing member of society by having obtained that money to begin with. It’s for that reason that so many people get hung up on the idea that if you’re poor, you’re morally failed somehow.

We are also political animals, and each of us wants our personal viewpoints on the world to spread and to fight for our respective causes. Every interaction we participate in is political in some way, even if not explicitly so. You participate in forums that involve topics you care about; you argue for or against viewpoints that are brought up. Even simple actions like buying media can be politically charged — you could buy games from indie developers in defiance of the big-budget ones which are often calculated to pander to the widest audience but that invariably ends up propagating societally-damaging memes, like that women are objects to be rescued and not autonomous entities. You could give money to movies that are otherwise terrible, just because they happen to star an actor you like; you could boycott movies by actors who do demonstrable harm to the world by espousing blinkered and antiscientific claptrap like Tom Cruise or Jenny McCarthy. Or even something as simple and seemingly apolitical as choosing one soft drink over another just because it tastes good, and you would be sad if it disappeared. Someone next to you might convince you to do otherwise, because of that soft drink manufacturer’s stance on gay marriage, for instance; overriding the one political message for another more important one in your mind. The politics of each interaction might be subtle but they’re there, always.

In computers, there’s a concept regarding privacy and encryption that uses a decentralized model for trusting one another’s private/public encryption pairs. Rather than having an authority storing all the keys that pair with a person’s personal encryption codes, each person you communicate with under the PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) method shares the keys that that person trusts, and eventually by being trusted by a lot of people, you can be reasonably secure in the knowledge that newcomers into the network will already have trust for your keys. The better connected you are, the more trusted your keys are. However, like in meatspace, that trust could be violated by any one person, and the more trusted that person, the greater the breach of the trust web.

The entire concept of morality is based on trying to improve humanity’s lot without inflicting undue suffering on its members (or any other entity, to a lesser extent). The reason that sexual assault and rape are morally repugnant is that it is an abrogation of a person’s self-direction, and it does violence to another person in exchange for the aggressor’s pleasure. Even if that violence happens in such a way that the person is not physically harmed, it’s still violence — it’s the overriding of one person’s will for another’s pleasure, and it often comes with a gross violation of trust.

Humans place a high priority on preventing breaches of trust in interactions — the script goes, if someone is a known scam artist, we take pains to inform people to watch out for their tricks (and thus the entire skeptic movement was born). If someone is a known thief, we take pains to inform people to stow their valuables in their presence. But for some reason, when we talk about rape and sexual assault, the desire to warn people to be wary around them is superceded by fears that any particular warning might be *wrong*, because then you’re doing damage to a person without good cause. And when that person is popular, there’s a lot of trust, no matter how small the interactions individually are.

Except, that person may have done grievous damage to someone else, abusing that high level of trust. The saying “power corrupts” springs to mind. They may even have violated people’s autonomy, and we put a very high priority on discouraging that sort of action.

Only, somewhere that script got flipped: it’s more grievously harmful to name the person on the off chance that they fall into the ~6% of false rape claims than it is to screw up that person’s chances at harassing or raping even more people. The cries of “innocent until proven guilty”, which are appropriate in a courtroom or when facing jailtime, are brought up — which are never brought up when someone tells you to watch out for that person who picked your pocket. The cries for physical evidence drown out the testimonial and corroborative evidence that are brought forward. The victim-blaming for putting themselves in the position they were in where they got raped flow freely, where in a parallel situation where someone’s car is hotwired nobody blames the person for choosing an inviting colour of car.

It seems there’s a drive to create a false dichotomy where, because of the grievousness of the crime of breach of trust and breach of someone’s autonomy that rape represents, either the person is completely innocent and free of all charges, or is thrown in jail. Most rape and most assault and most harassment — while criminal — never results in true justice where the perpetrators are put behind bars, even if the victims do go to the police and even if there is physical evidence and even if there is a known suspect. Therefore, most rape and assault and harassment is entirely unpunished, and grossly underreported because everyone knows how the system is skewed.

People forget that there are not merely two options here. There’s not just “jailtime” and “completely innocent”. There’s not just “guilty” and “witch-hunts”. Another possibility is for people to be made aware of these creepers and to know that they cannot trust them as much as they might other people — to warn them that the trust placed in them might not be warranted.

Our ability to trust one another is built on a series of interactions with one another. Over time, you build up a reservoir of trust and if you trust someone enough, when they are faced with a claim that they are untrustworthy, it might be hard to swallow. It might cause you to backlash against the accusations. And when others trust a person, it can amplify that trust. If enough people trust a person despite the alleged breach, no consequences might come of a claim about a person — it might be dismissed as “so much locker room banter” or people “regretting their sexual exploits”. Or it could even legitimately have been an attempt to tear down the trust a community has in a person for no other reason than simple spite.

I understand this dynamic well. When I was 16, my first girlfriend accused me of rape in order to preempt any acrimony over her sleeping with someone else, and the only things that saved me — unpopular kid as I was — were the facts that she’d repeatedly and demonstrably lied to a lot of people about a lot of things very often, eroding anyone’s trust in her, and because she happened to tell a lie integral to her accusation that I could disprove.

Her accusation ruined her own reputation amongst her then circle of friends, but she moved on, built new trusts, violated them as well, and generally made a wreck of her life as far as I cared to follow.

I vowed then to be as honest as humanly possible with people, to the point of it becoming a character flaw. I have a reputation for being blunt with people. I can be short with people. I have no patience for people intentionally abusing one another — and I’m not talking about namecalling, I’m talking about advocating for ideas I deem genuinely ruinous for society, like religion, bigotry, or unchecked greed. I walk away from people who are damaging, even at great personal cost.

This has earned me trust and it has cost me trust with a lot of people in a lot of ways.

In that respect, I am a good deal like PZ Myers to a far smaller degree (in that I am less popular, and therefore have less interactions with which to build my web of trust). I have never seen him flinch or skulk away from a fight over what he believes to be right, nor — more especially — over what he believes to be wrong. Even where I disagree with him, he is a man with the courage of his convictions in my experience. He has earned a good deal of my trust in him to deal with certain issues with ferocity and calm rationality in equal measure. And as far as I can see, he is slow to come to trust others, having likely been burned a number of times by a number of people over the years. My own personal web of trust includes him as a result of my own dealings with him over the years, as do many other folks’. He has built up a strong reputation amongst most of us for being unflinching and self-sacrificing when faced with difficult decisions.

Except, some of these convictions come in direct conflict with some other community members’ own convictions. Some of the actions he has taken — disagreeing publicly and loudly with people over seeming trivialities (which are nonetheless important to him, and evidently important to people who agree with him on the matter), or banning people from his blog for harming the (rather free-for-all) discourse he governs there — each earn him enmity, cost him trust for some folks, even where it earns him trust with others.

There are people who are doggedly determined to prove that he is the secular Antichrist for daring to disagree with certain secular Saints, for daring to (extraordinarily infrequently) ban people from his blog. And these people think that those of us who’ve dealt with him and found his dealings to be fair, well, they think he’s hoodwinked us and that we’re hero-worshipping him in the same way that they hero-worshipped some of the people of whom he’s been critical. They think there’s some kind of cult like hivemind groupthink at play, when what they’re really describing is the fact that we trust him to act in accordance with our own personal beliefs. That we trust him to vet and thoroughly corroborate any claims he makes in public, that he would not stake his hard-earned reputation without damn good cause.

So when someone whom PZ trusts, who also trusts PZ to do the right thing, comes forward and tells PZ her story of having been coerced into sex by the big-name and well-trusted Michael Shermer, and he realizes that to do anything at all about it he has to risk taking a hell of a lot of splash damage to his own reputation in bringing it to the world at large. He’s fully aware that even putting it forward to the degree that he has, stripped of any identifying details that might result in retaliatory harassment of the victim by Shermer’s fans, he’s not only risking his reputation but he’s giving ammunition to the people who want his reputation to evaporate entirely, who will not hesitate to use this event to destroy him and everything he stands for.

There’s a lot of people complaining that these anonymous claims are ruining people’s reputations without sufficient cause or evidence. The deck is actually stacked against people ever coming forward with rape claims, though, and lowering the bar too far can make an environment that’s easily gamed by people who like the system the way it is.

Things like the anonymous tumblr “More Will Be Named”, which was deleted and replaced with a parody by someone who snapped up the domain when it became available after the deletion, actually are damaging to the cause of preventing these big names from taking advantage of the trust they themselves have built. These tiny and untrusted-because-anonymous voices coming forward and being given a megaphone to say what they will about big names might serve as innoculation against anyone ever believing the claim against a well-trusted person. The trolls time and again try to make sure that it’s impossible to ever come forward with a rape case by providing the very false rape claims they decry as the reason we can’t trust people to be honest about their rape claims. They fulfill their own prophecies to throw up chaff and keep people from taking rape claims seriously.

But there’s always another option, as I suggested. There’s “trust implicitly”, there’s “distrust”, and there’s “trust but verify”. And in “trust but verify”, you can know to be wary of certain people without necessarily pointing at them in horror and shrieking “rapist” every time they’re nearby; or throwing them in jail on the least unsubstantiated word.

This is all I, or anyone else fighting for victims rights with regard to rape, have ever advocated. The repercussions in this case are not that Michael Shermer will end up in jail — seriously, even if all six victims were to provide ironclad evidence that he did what they said, at this point so distant from the crimes, it’s grossly unlikely he’ll ever face any jailtime for it. All he has to do is throw up doubt that sex with an inebriated-beyond-consent woman is not actually rape, or that they only decided it was rape after they decided he was skeezy after the fact. He’ll get off on the charge of getting off on someone without their permission.

So the best we can hope for as far as repercussions are that because his name is so popular, the accusations against him will give his potential future victims pause against trusting him enough to drink with or spend time alone with him. This might hurt his feelings, but it will not ruin is career or his life.

And the reason I’m willing to trust PZ to have vetted his claims before making the accusation public like he has, is exactly because I know he treats these accusations seriously and trusts the victims but verifies the stories before putting his own sizable bank of trust on the line.

That’s why anonymous trolls’ stories against people, unverified and unvetted and impossible to corroborate, don’t gain as much traction as the big ones like this. The problem is, the same effect happens with regard to any claim that any rape victim might bring forward — there’s massive public pressure against ever coming forward with your own name, because you will face all the consequences of that interaction. People who don’t trust you will be horrified that you’re impugning the motives of the good decent person they trust, and they’ll rake over your life history looking for any shred of misdeed by which to dismiss you and the entire story. So most rape victims never come forward.

When rape victims DO come forward, it’s because they’ve found someone they can trust. And sometimes the person they trust with the story trusts them back, and sometimes they’re willing to fight that fight on their behalf. Remember, this anonymous accuser is only anonymous TO US.

That’s why PZ can’t give more details than he has; and that’s why the people who don’t trust either PZ or the anonymous (TO US) rape victim are fighting back so hard against the very idea that maybe, just maybe, Michael Shermer actually did it.

And as for the strength of the evidence at hand, the fact that PZ received post-hoc corroboration of the events in question, from someone well-placed within the community enough to be trustable themselves and to have been in a position to know the truth of the statement, from someone, I note, who even admits that they don’t much like PZ and the strength of their belief in the events is strong enough to override that distrust, is excellent evidence that the events actually happened. That’s why there’s a plural. It further cements in my mind that I was right to trust PZ, and that I’m right to trust Jane Doe, at the expense of the reputation of yet another so-called pillar of our community.

Sure, it’s not photographic evidence, but you know how well even THAT works amongst those primed to deny any rape allegations ever brought forward.

Comments

  1. MFHeadcase says

    Thanks for posting this, hopefully the game of “Whack a Troll” you are likely to have to play soon will have some fun bits.

  2. Al Dente says

    Thank you for this, Jason.

    The thing which angers me (besides Shermer raping women) is that the rape apologists are concerned with Shermer’s reputation but couldn’t care less about potential or real rape victims. The whole point of PZ’s post is not to defame Shermer but to warn women about him. The dudebros scream about lynch mobs and witch hunts and “innocent until proven guilty” but say nothing about his victims other than to doubt their stories (or in one case even their existence). Hyperskepticism is alive and well in the skeptical world.

  3. says

    And a third corroborative account regarding Shermer’s tactics was added to PZ’s post. Well then.

    What do skeptics do when presented with evidence that they don’t like? Assume the person made it all up, of course!

  4. says

    I basically agree with this. If the accusations aren’t true, then they are false. If they were false, then why did PZ publish them? There are only a few possibilities:

    1) PZ made them up and guaranteed causing himself serious problems for a petty dig at Michael Shermer, who he has no obvious reason for a grudge against.
    2) PZ’s friend did make the accusation. He knew it was false, btu decided to run with it anyway because it gave him some plausible deniability to take a shot at Shermer, who he had a grudge against for an unknown reason.
    3) PZ’s friend made them up because of a grudge against Shermer and decided to let PZ take the hit for her. PZ badly misjudged her character and motives.
    4) PZ’s friend believes the story to be true, but it is either made up or greatly altered from what actually happened. PZ greatly misjudged her reliability.

    It’s plausible one of these is true, but none of them are particularly parsimonious. I certainly wouldn’t convict him in court based on this evidence, but I wouldn’t leave him alone in a room with a friend who’s been drinking, either, or hang out with him at all, for that matter. A lot of people seem to be evaluating this based on the assumption that you must decide to convict or set free, which makes no sense.

  5. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Jason, this is *so good*. Some bit of work went into this. What an enlightening way to explain this situation.

  6. says

    I should add the possibilities that PZ is delusional and only thinks he had a friend who accused Shermer or that PZ’s account was hacked and he never accused anyone or that PZ and Shermer arranged this as a stunt to prove some kind of point, but those are so implausible that I think we can dismiss them out of hand.

  7. Anonymous13 says

    I think there are a few interesting principles involved in what you said.

    The first is more of a tautology: You are going to trust who you are going to trust. You gave reasons you trust PZ, which is fine, but I don’t see how that advances the discussion. I can just as equally trust Shermer. He has written extensively on morality, and specifically on rape, and I have good reason to believe he knows the difference between rape and not-rape. I look at how PZ released this damaging (and potentially misunderstood) information and I feel strongly that he handled it poorly. That causes me to be less trustful of PZ. But where does that get any of us? No where, really, because none of us have any details. We just have to go on “trust”, which we already knew, and why this was such a sucky way for PZ to release the information. Oh, and when it comes to trusting, I’m going to trust Shermer more than I am going to trust a handful of anonymous girls who got too drunk at a party to know what they were doing.

    As you said, it is unlikely that Shermer could be successfully prosecuted, even if the allegations were true. Well, why is that? It is because this IS a grey area. The police and prosecutors have to deal with this every day. I don’t think there is some conspiracy against women to let rapists get away. The fact is, women (or men) getting shit-faced-drunk and getting into a situation they regret isn’t just someone else’s fault. And if this situation has shown us anything it is that there seems to be an abundance of women hanging around Shermer and doing stupid things, all the while, putting the blame anywhere but on themselves. I have a word of advice. Take some personal responsibility and stop drinking to excess to the point where you don’t know what the hell you are doing. This isn’t rocket science. Shermer keeps refilling your cup? STOP DRINKING FROM IT! If you get drunk and get behind the wheel of a car, you can’t use the, “well I was drunk” excuse. And if the principle is going to be, “If I have been drinking too much then I am not held accountable for my actions,” then if Shermer was drinking too much, too, how does he get held accountable for anything he did? Everyone needs to take responsibility for their own actions. Unless Shermer was malevolently spiking a woman’s drink, the responsibility is going to have to be split between both parties.

    Lastly, there have been a number of scenarios thrown around. Let me suggest a middle ground. A woman looks up to Shermer as a leader and trusts him. She parties with him. They both are drinking, go back to one of their rooms and have sex. The woman wakes up, looks at Shermer and regrets what she did. Shermer, never considered the night one of nonconsent or rape. What do you do? If you are the woman, I would suggest never allowing yourself to be in that position again. Not just with Shermer, but with anyone! Grow up. Stay in control of your life. Stop blaming others where your responsibility lapsed. It is no surprise that event management and the police are limited in what they can do. They are not the problem here. But at a minimum, the woman should have filed a police report. Why? Because now we have 6+ women supposedly making a similar complaint and NEVER having reported it to the police. Don’t they think that filing police reports might have helped prevent this sort of thing from happening in the future (even if there were no prosecution)? Understandably, it might be difficult to file such a report, particularly if deep down you know you played a roll in what happened.

    Just to be clear, I am not excusing rape or rapists. I don’t know that rape actually happened here because so far we’ve only heard some vague references to one side of the story from some anonymous people. I doubt Shermer will publicly respond. Why should he? I think we all know what he is going to say. If anyone wanted to come forward they should have done so by going to the police. If they want their claims to be taken seriously then they SHOULD go to the police. If they believe in fairness then they should also accept the principle of the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution where a defendant has a right to be confronted by the witnesses against him, not to just be anonymously tried on the blogosphere.

  8. F [is for failure to emerge] says

    Repercussions: What I see as the desired repercussions, which are apparently the same as desired by nearly every commenter whose comments I’ve read in the course of this discussion are
    1) A diminishment the potential pool of victims
    2) (Hopefully) the possibility that the victimizer will reexamine his behavior and thinking towards women.

    But some people simply refuse to understand or even acknowledge this. The other putative repercussions they argue on about are crap, as noted in the OP.

  9. notsont says

    Lastly, there have been a number of scenarios thrown around. Let me suggest a middle ground. A woman looks up to Shermer as a leader and trusts him. She parties with him. They both are drinking, go back to one of their rooms and have sex. The woman wakes up, looks at Shermer and regrets what she did. Shermer, never considered the night one of nonconsent or rape. What do you do?

    You know if you rephrase this just a little bit it does under many statues make him a rapist. You know hes partying and they are both drinking she drinks a little more than normal because she trusts “Mr. famous book writer” and he keeps refilling her glass knowing exactly what hes doing then a little “hey want a signed copy of my next book?” “Come up to my room for a minute, oh don’t worry i’m safe you can trust me i’m famous, better finish your wine before we go don;t want to waste it, its good stuff” Next thing she remembers is some old guy huffing and puffing on top of her. Yeah same story sounds like rape to me, I’m sure that just makes him “good with the ladies” though right?

  10. b. - Order of Lagomorpha says

    Very well put. Thank you for posting this. Now, if we could just teach all the slime-weasels screaming over on PZ’s blog to research a little, read a little and, more especially, read for comprehension, it might cut down on the noise-to-signal ratio. Oh, wait…. I saw that it worked until about 4 posts after you posted your link. :( Your hard work is still much appreciated.

    Apart from the obvious slymepitters, I think people have confused “seeing Michael Shermer’s public persona and reading his books/articles” with “actually knowing Michael Shermer, the person.” Some are rejecting it out of hand because they know that the totally-imaginary-Michael-Shermer they have in their heads wouldn’t do something like that. There’s some cog-dis going on and a whole lot of, “I can’t be that bad a judge of character, can I?”. I don’t know PZ, I just know what I’ve learned about him from reading his blog. What I’ve seen of his actions is compatible with him being a non-stupid guy who doesn’t post serious shit unless he’s convinced that it’s true. I trust his judgement on this and I really wish I could tell the victim that I believe her.

  11. says

    One thing I wonder is how many of the “innocent until proven guilty” hyperskeptics were speculating on ways that Brian Dunning could have pled guilty while still being innocent a few months back, or talking then about how flawed the justice system is and how a guilty plea doesn’t mean that they necessarily did the crime. I suspect the overlap is sizeable.

    Anonymous13:

    I have good reason to believe he knows the difference between rape and not-rape.

    Most rapists do. The Meet the Predators and Predator Redux articles have been linked ad nauseam in this discussion. The descriptions of Shermer’s behavior, now from two corroborative sources (not to mention the witness cited by PZ and the other source who corroborated it on the JREF forums) show the strategy of grooming and using alcohol deliberately, described in the actual research on rapist tactics.

    The rest of your meandering is fact-free, victim-blaming, rape culture mythology, which isn’t supported by, you know, reality. When you dismiss victims as “girls who got too drunk” and people who just had morning-after regrets, when you ignore that the victim did report (why can the rape culture apologists never seem to read that part of the story?), when you decide that the blame must be split equally between the person too drunk to consent and the sober (or at least far more sober) person who took advantage of their inebriation, then despite your protestations, you are in fact excusing rape and rapists.

  12. Pudendum says

    I think this provides reason to recommend a reasonable caution, that women should not drink to the point of vulnerability around Mr. Shermer.

    I think the same goes for women who are not around Mr. Shermer.

    Oh, and same for men.

    Was this supposed to change my mind about anything? I read the article, but it contains very little of substance.

  13. devils advocate says

    So, anyone read the original testimony?

    “He coerced me into a position where I couldn’t consent then he had sex with me.”

    That not only is counter intuitive, it’s not even a direct accusation. It’s so loaded it could be interpreted as, I got drunk we had sex, he bought the drinks and I regretted the sex.. RAPE! Or he was attracted to me, but I want so into him, eventually I changed my mind then regretted the sex we had.. RAPE! these hamfisted interpretations aside, you can’t deny that her testimony is basically abdicating blame, she puts the onus of the decision upon him. Or for the layman, she didn’t say no, and that’s his fault. Now what the fuck? Suddenly, we’re all up in arms about some bad sex? Now this and some extra testimony that a) didn’t appear till after the original gray area testimony, and b) is even more sparse in its application of facts, and you want to brand some one who’s entire job relies on his integrity?

    Everyone throws around words like rape apologists and victim blaming… but what about the burden of proof? It’s easy to sympathise with an apparent victim, but surely we’ve reached a stage in our evolution that evidence carries more weight then hearsay. And as skeptics, isn’t that something we demand?

    I took the name devils advocate because I feel it’s my duty to poke holes in established thought. I find this easy to do because in truth, I don’t take a side. I demand the evidence from both parties and then make my assignments based on the strength or weaknesses of such. Nonetheless, it didn’t take someone like me to see that more hearsay does not equal more evidence, in fact it equals a more powerful need for some evidence and as skeptics, you should know that, instead of going with law of averages based on circumstances.

  14. says

    Finally some trolls of my own. Shall we have the entire three thousand comment conversation at PZ’s over again?

    Your holes you’re poking in “established thought” are actually contraevidential, and they aren’t aimed correctly because what you’re advocating — that one mustn’t be cautious around men who’ve been said to be predators by various victims for fear of hurting their feelings — is actually the established thought in this society. Prove me wrong.

  15. says

    Pudendum: if you’re with someone you trust, and you trust them because you’ve built a level of trust, you can feel free to overindulge in whatever recreational pharmaceuticals your level of trust merits. If you haven’t built up a reserve of trust for that person, you probably won’t. If you have misplaced trust, you’re probably getting attacked.

    How is this any different from what I wrote? And how did what I write lead you to the conclusion that you must never trust anyone ever?

  16. says

    Additionally: the evidence in question is not hearsay if you trust PZ at his word that he has reasons to believe the people in question. Since you evidently don’t, you’re calling it hearsay.

    Hearsay isn’t even that. It’s heard-from-a-friend-of-a-friend. It’s not a transaction that depends on a level of trust because it’s been through too many iterations of a game of telephone. In this case, you’re getting a snippet directly from the victim, you’re just not allowed to know more about it than that because goons like you attack victims with an alacrity.

  17. devils advocate says

    It’s not trying to have a countering point of view. There’s no need to straw man.

    One must be as cautious as they feel they must be. Pointing out possible that’s based on hearsay is what’s known as libel and a general jerk move.

    It’s hearsay, did you read his post? He is acquainted with the accuser but it’s because he trusts the person who verified, or vetted, the accuser, he believes her testimony, and then you believe get testimony based on his belief…..

    Now chain of trust? Never mind the possibility of personal bias and interpretation based on understanding filtered through so many people, he wasn’t there. So as he isn’t a witness, everything he says is HEARSAY.

    Lastly, it’s clear you have bias based on your “trust” rather then the evidence at hand. So I’m out, I’ve proven my point that if you guys were actually skeptics you’d want more then “trust” go tell someone that Jesus is real because you “feel” he is.

  18. says

    Anonymous13:
    You may think you are doling out advice, but that is merely victim blaming. You are putting the onus for sexual assault prevention on the women, rather than on the Shermers of the world.

    ****

    Devils Advocate:
    You do understand that without consent, any sexual interaction would be rape, right? Given how others have stepped up to mention Shermers tactic of getting women drunk, it appears that he is a predator who coerces women into positions where they cannot consent and then rapes them.
    You playing games is not helpful. It does nothing to help the victims and everything to benefit the accused.
    Stop it.

  19. Pudendum says

    Jason, I disagree that you can ‘feel free to overindulge in whatever recreational pharmaceuticals your level of trust permits’.

    My position is that it isn’t a good thing to do in any case. With any one.

    What you wrote, if I have it correct, suggested that, if I trust PZ (I don’t, but let that lie) and I trust that what he relayed was what he heard and believed (I do), then it could inform my caution about spending time with him.

    It does not change my caution one bit.

    I browsed the second (anonymous) claim. The claim, if believed firmly, is that he provided liberal amounts of wine, and behaviour (flirting) which indicated his intent to have sex.

    Even with a MARRIED woman (gasp!)

    I think sexual assaults are terrible. Honest, I do. I even think they are terrible if the victim is drunk, naked, and has a sign written on her ass saying ‘all welcome’.

    The thing is, this article does not provide any info, except that someone who I don’t trust (PZ) tells a reasonably believable story about bad behaviour.

    This behaviour was considered bad enough, by the victim, to report it to conference organizers, but not the authorities.

    Later, upon reflection for some time (years?), this victim has come forward to share her story with PZ.

    Again, how is this supposed to do anything positive or helpful? I already think it is a lousy idea to get too drunk to function properly. Are you going to suggest that lots of drunk people need to know who they can trust to pass out around?

    Oh, and thanks for calling me a ‘goon’. Unless it was meant as an insult of some sort. Was it? Perhaps you could clarify?

  20. anonymous too says

    omment submitted: Anonymous13: it appears you think women can’t live with regret. This is false. Women in general are more than capable of looking back on a bad decision and understand their part in it. When this happens women, like men, share their heads and move on. Also, you need a primer on consent. Being too drunk to say no is not giving permission to others to abuse you. An absence of no is not a yes. I’m sure some Googling will give you the information you need on this topic.

  21. devils advocate says

    Yet drunk drivers are charged as being capable of making the decision to not drive.

    He did not force them to drink, neither does it state that they were in fact passed out.

    Getting drunk and making a bad decision is not rape. The fact is none of them have clearly stated what happened. So anyone taking a side other then more evidence please is ridiculous.

    And that’s kind of the point I’m getting at, none of this “he did it” or “he didn’t do it” but that there’s no way the evidence presented is enough to make a decision either way and these blogs saying “I’m beginning to believe he did do it” based on nothing but a nebulous sense of trust, are making things worse.

  22. says

    Try this analogy on for size instead. Someone gets drunk and crosses a crosswalk. Someone hits that person. Is the driver not culpable for vehicular manslaughter because the victim was drunk?

  23. devils advocate says

    That analogy is flawed in that it estimates that the driver was aware of the pedestrians intent to walk in front of him. In the end the driver can take reasonable care, but without knowing the pedestrians intent the onus of blame cannot fall solely upon him, drunk or not.

  24. notsont says

    I know this will probably come as a surprise to most of you apologists but having sex with someone who is intoxicated actually is against the law in the US. Obviously context matters but deliberately getting someone drunk and then having sex with them is not just morally bankrupt thing to do it is quite illegal.

  25. Pudendum says

    devils advocate, your analogy sucks balls. Even if you ARE stone drunk behind the wheel, no-one is allowed to ram their vehicle up your trunk.

    I agree with the ‘more evidence please’ comment.

    But mostly I just didn’t understand what this article was aiming to accomplish. It’s like the cops checking the gun registry. If they don’t find a registered gun listed for the premises, they do not reduce their caution. Just because some folks have not been publicly accused of sexual assault, doesn’t mean it is a good idea to get so drunk that you don’t remember, or like, what happens later. I have seen drunkards who had puke-stains, apartment fires, beatings (by ‘bouncers’ or random other drunks), and other awful effects. It doesn’t surprise me that being drunk often leads to, what ignorant drunks tend to call ‘bad luck’ of every sort.

    To avoid those various pitfalls, I advise keeping your wits about you, as best you can.

    Your article wouldn’t change how I would behave around Mr. Shermer. Or you. Or your dear sweet mother.

    What is it that you were aiming for? In a nutshell?

  26. says

    Pudendum: First, what the fuck is wrong with sucking balls? His analogy neither gives nor receives any pleasure.

    What I was aiming for, in a nutshell, is to end the meme that this is “hearsay” by “anonymous” parties. Because it isn’t.

    And it’s to recognize why you distrust the allegations: because you don’t trust the person giving them. Not because you’re actually skeptical. Think about the last time someone suggested that a priest was touching someone. How skeptical were you then?

  27. devils advocate says

    I meant more that a driver can’t be culpable if despite reasonable caution they hit a pedestrian due to the pedestrians choice. Whether the pedestrian were drunk or not..

    But that aside, what Pudendum said.

    Also, notsont are you aware that most people who have sex with intoxicated people are also intoxicated? Does that speak to intent?

  28. notsont says

    Also, notsont are you aware that most people who have sex with intoxicated people are also intoxicated? Does that speak to intent?

    Hence the “context matters” being a speaker at a con and using your charm to insure a young girl gets drunk then guiding her to your room is predatory behavior and qualifies as rape, I “might” believe this could happen once by a guy without him fully knowing what he is doing but not more than once and even then not when you are an authority figure.

  29. devils advocate says

    You think my name is an affectation of vanity? I purposely seek flawed arguments and lack of evidence so I can shoot holes in it and make people realize they need to think first before throwing out judgements.

  30. notsont says

    You think my name is an affectation of vanity? I purposely seek flawed arguments and lack of evidence so I can shoot holes in it and make people realize they need to think first before throwing out judgements.

    You are bad at it.

  31. devils advocate says

    Notsont…. unless it can be proved without reasonable doubt. Context is interpretational and therefore useless.

    Flip that around, suddenly she’s a ladder climbing person who’s ambition isn’t above libel.

    That’s why evidence is so important. I make no claims either way, this guy might be Hitler reborn for all I know, but I do know I won’t just take it at someone’s word. No matter how much I trust them. Not with something this damaging.

  32. hjhornbeck says

    Anonymous13 @10:

    You gave reasons you trust PZ, which is fine, but I don’t see how that advances the discussion. I can just as equally trust Shermer. He has written extensively on morality, and specifically on rape, and I have good reason to believe he knows the difference between rape and not-rape.

    Fair enough. You trust Shermer more than PZ, and so you will discard this accusation. If Shermer is innocent, then you will have been right to trust him. If Shermer is not, then your trust was misplaced.

    … I fail to see a complaint here. Are you arguing PZ Myers is trusted by everyone, or that no-one trusts Shermer, and therefore the accusations will carry weight?

    I’m going to trust Shermer more than I am going to trust a handful of anonymous girls who got too drunk at a party to know what they were doing.

    You fail at reading comprehension: they are anonymous to the public, not the woman who came to PZ (or the similar stories he’s received since). It’s not only the victims reporting, it’s people who knew the victims, who saw their complaints when they were filed with the organization in charge, who were nearly taken advantage of themselves and went on to hear tales of the same thing.

    In a way, you’re admitting it’s tough to continue trusting Shermer if what these women say is accurate. Why else would you change what they said?

    The fact is, women (or men) getting shit-faced-drunk and getting into a situation they regret isn’t just someone else’s fault.

    You are arguing that consent does not require a sound mind, then?

    Grow up. Stay in control of your life.

    Telling grown women, one of whom organizes conferences, to grow up. Classy. Do you think of all women as infants, or just the drunk ones?

    Take some personal responsibility and stop drinking to excess to the point where you don’t know what the hell you are doing.

    If you don’t know what you’re doing, how can you refuse a drink? If your judgment is impaired by alcohol, how can you judge how tipsy you are? I don’t think you thought about this much.

    But at a minimum, the woman should have filed a police report. Why? Because now we have 6+ women supposedly making a similar complaint and NEVER having reported it to the police. Don’t they think that filing police reports might have helped prevent this sort of thing from happening in the future (even if there were no prosecution)?

    In Canada, only 6% of sexual assaults are reported to police. When asked why, 44% did not think the police or courts would take it seriously, and 50% thought the authorities could do nothing. Only half result in successful convictions. But you apparently live in an different universe where the police and courts take sexual assault seriously, and it leaves obvious and clear evidence.

    Mind sharing how you got there? I know a few women who would jump at the chance to live in such a universe.

    Unless Shermer was malevolently spiking a woman’s drink, the responsibility is going to have to be split between both parties. [...] Just to be clear, I am not excusing rape or rapists.

    Actually, you just did. 0% of men will call themselves rapists, yet 5-15% of men have forced someone to have non-consentual sex with them. Most rapists do not malevolently spike drinks, and many don’t even realize what they’re doing is rape. Yet by demanding people have perfect judgment when their judgment is impaired, you are creating excuses for rapists and blaming the victim.

    Congratulations, you are part of the problem.

    If they believe in fairness then they should also accept the principle of the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution where a defendant has a right to be confronted by the witnesses against him, not to just be anonymously tried on the blogosphere.

    Suppose someone you trusted told you a famous person raped them. Even they acknowledge the police can do nothing. Would you stay silent, and continue this person to prey on women, or would you try to warn everyone to stay away?

    The goal here isn’t jail time, “F [is for failure to emerge]” nailed the two goals:

    1) A diminishment the potential pool of victims
    2) (Hopefully) the possibility that the victimizer will reexamine his behavior and thinking towards women.

    Are you arguing these aren’t worthwhile?

  33. says

    I’ve been wasted in San Juan to the point of vomiting all over everywhere, blacking out, and waking up with my feet literally in the gutter. If I had been raped, not a single person would have suggested that I should have expected that result, because I am a man and it is only women who are held to that entirely unreasonable standard.

    Also, because of how consent does and doesn’t work, when you suggest that perhaps she’d gotten “too drunk at a party to know what they were doing” or similar, you are suggesting that perhaps she was raped.

  34. Pudendum says

    You are right about the sucking balls thing. My apologies. Just because I don’t like MY balls sucked doesn’t mean I should impinge all ball-suckers.

    PZ reports that he heard a statement.

    To me, that sounds exactly like hearsay.

    If I say that devils advocate is a seven-foot tall black woman with psoriasis and a phD in oceanography, I am making a statement.

    If you say ‘I was told that devils advocate is a seven-foot tall black woman with psoriasis and a phD in oceanography’, you are engaging in hearsay.

    Or have you got another interpretation?

  35. hjhornbeck says

    devils advocate @37:

    That’s why evidence is so important. I make no claims either way, this guy might be Hitler reborn for all I know, but I do know I won’t just take it at someone’s word. No matter how much I trust them. Not with something this damaging.

    No-one’s asking you to. So why are you demanding other people must dismiss these accusations? Is your opinion worth more than everyone else’s, or are we incapable of making up our own minds?

  36. hjhornbeck says

    Pudendum @40:

    If you say ‘I was told that devils advocate is a seven-foot tall black woman with psoriasis and a phD in oceanography’, you are engaging in hearsay.

    You bet! Why is that a bad thing? I’ve never been to Africa, so I only have hearsay that continent exists. Should I abandon my belief, because I only hear it second-hand?

  37. LeftSidePositive says

    devils advocate seems to be arguing that this woman’s drunkenness was so unexpected that Shermer couldn’t swerve in time to stop from raping her!

    Also, my dear little apologist troll, you’re “but they were both drunk!!” ignores a very important distinction between consent and action. Consent is a reflection of mental processes, and therefore one must be of sound mind to do it. Actions (like breaking a vase or driving a car) are effects on the physical world and certain matters of physics (like the stress points of porcelain or the crushability of pedestrians) are not affected by one’s mental state (understandable to everyone except Deepak Chopra!). Therefore, a person whose body is acted upon by another person is not responsible if ze was drunk, because passively allowing something is a MENTAL state, not a physical thing, and that person was not of sound mind, so ze could not allow or consent. In contrast, a person guiding someone to a hotel room, initiating sex and using zir own muscles to actively make penetration happen, is the one committing an action (and more importantly, an action that affects another human being). Actions have physical realities and consequences regardless of how they were intended. Notice how this framework does allow that a woman can be the one physically initiating the sex while a confused/unconscious man is acted upon… but this is mechanistically a bit more difficult (not to mention the fact that a woman who used that as her modus operandi for raping people would be like the last person on earth to place a rape allegation after the fact, because then she’d strongly disincentivize potential victims from getting drunk with her!)

  38. LeftSidePositive says

    And another thing, if Pudendum really believes that alcohol is such a bad thing and drinking to excess is oh-so-very-dangerous, regardless of context… I would expect to see him going all Carrie Nation every time a skeptics in the pub is mentioned or there are posts about people having fun getting drunk… I would expect to see long, detailed concern trolling of Dana Hunter over the title of her blog.

    And yet…

    …strangely enough we don’t see any if that. These people who insist that they are totally against alcohol all the time and why oh why don’t people know better and take better care of themselves, only seem to show up when alcohol was an enabling factor in another person harming someone. And then suddenly the Pudendums of this world are totally opposed to excessive drinking in general, at the expense of focusing on the person who did the harmful thing, and they make up for staying silent on the evils of drinking on all those happy party posts, by posting extra-hard on the topic of hedonism whenever the original topic was rape.

  39. notsont says

    And hearsay is unacceptable information….why?

    I know your a super skeptic and all, but this is not a court of law people have been sharing caution warnings about Shermer for YEARS telling women to stay clear of him, PZ’s post was just a larger grapevine to warn more women to be cautious. Hell I remember a post about 4-5 years ago talking about “the big named speaker/writer” who almost everyone knows about but we shouldn’t name him publicly.

  40. devils advocate says

    hjhornbeck – just reminding people to think before they do as it seems they are so intent on forgetting to.

    Leftside that analogy was flawed to begin with, my point being they are both responsible adults so what about personal responsibility? It’s easy to say coercion, but how was she coerced? What if he was just as drunk? Was she unconscious? Simply put if you are in a position to give or withhold consent, then you are not being coerced and are giving consent via action. For instance, my gf sometimes wants sex when I’m not in the mood, I’ll say no, but she’ll insist, eventually I’ll throw her sex because I want to maintain the monogamy if our relationship despite not really being into it.

    By your reckoning, I’ve been raped. But the truth of the matter is I could have stopped it at any time, but I didn’t. So where does consent and personal responsibility fall there?

    Though for clarity sake, this is a different argument then the sherman thing

  41. hjhornbeck says

    devils advocate @46:

    just reminding people to think before they do as it seems they are so intent on forgetting to

    You think so little of us? You hurt my fee-fees.

    I’ve been raped. But the truth of the matter is I could have stopped it at any time, but I didn’t.

    If you could have stopped it at any time, but didn’t, then you granted consent and it is not rape.

  42. devils advocate says

    Hjhornbeck – actually I think the opposite. You are the measure of critical thinking I generally judge my own responses by, hence why I so vehemently react when it seemed everyone devolved to band wagon thinking.

  43. LeftSidePositive says

    Dude, you miserable fucking idiot, being too drunk to understand what’s going on is not a position to give or withhold consent. IT IS A POSITION IN WHICH CONSENT IS IMPOSSIBLE. The accuser specifically said she COULD NOT consent, NOT that she was in a position to give or withhold consent, which makes you not a “devils advocate” but a filthy fucking liar.

    And I notice you completely fucking missed the consent vs. act explanation–dude, dumbass, it’s not that fucking hard to grasp! The question is not “how drunk is he?” The question is “did he take physical action at another person’s expense?” Drunk or not, you’re responsible if you run over a pedestrian. Drunk or not, it is not the pedestrian’s fault for getting run over. When you get behind the wheel of a car you undertake a definitive responsibility to ensure your safety and that of others. When you start performing sex acts on another person, you undertake a definitive responsibility to ensure you have genuine consent. This is not fucking difficult.

    Oh, and fuck you, you disingenuous fucking shitstain, for pretending that being of sound mind and being free to weigh all of one’s potential long-term and short-term costs and benefits is somehow being “coerced.” Fuck you for trivializing what people who are DEPRIVED OF THE RIGHT TO MAKE THOSE CHOICES go through. Fuck you for pretending that another free agent not giving you everything you want, when you want it, is coercing you. Fuck you for equating the barest level of cooperation with another human being as coercion.

  44. hjhornbeck says

    devils advocate @49:

    hence why I so vehemently react when it seemed everyone devolved to band wagon thinking.

    Have we devolved into bandwagon thinking over evolution? Sometime a consensus is justified, if it is based on enough evidence and logic. If that were not true, all science would collapse!

    Speaking of which, I notice you’re not actually arguing against us anymore. Have you run out of evidence and logic to back your claims? Have we presented enough evidence and logic to convince you?

  45. devils advocate says

    That thinking could be attributed to him too, he was to drunk to understand the consequences of his actions or his own desires on the matter. Or does responsibility only count on his behalf?.

    It provides me with no end of chuckles that you can apply a victims train of thought to get but not to him. And with no evidence further more.

    Lastly, analogy is always flawed and generally interpretational, so they make for bad disruptions, however, you can thrash and moan moral superiority all you want. But the difference between coercion and consent must be made clear. Can you think of a better way?

  46. LeftSidePositive says

    That thinking could be attributed to him too, he was to drunk to understand the consequences of his actions or his own desires on the matter.

    ACTIONS. He acted, and is therefore responsible for his ACTIONS. This is not fucking hard. You are responsible for what you DO, whether you mean to or not. You have to be of sound mind to agree to something to be done TO you. How the fuck do you not get this?

    We are not saying he is the only one who is responsible just because he’s male, but because it is ABSURDLY UNLIKELY, especially given his well-established pattern of repeated, goal-directed behavior, that he was a passive recipient. You cannot POSSIBLY fail to understand this at this point, so I can only conclude you’re being willfully disingenuous because you like the idea of guys having plausible deniability to target intoxicated persons, or indeed facilitate their intoxication, and then get away with raping them.

    And by the way, troll, we’ve seen this line of argument HUNDREDS of times, with trolls much more weaselly and self-righteous than you. We are not going to fall for it, any more than PZ Myers is going to fall for “but why are there still monkeys?” the next time he hears it!

  47. Anonymous13 says

    Notsont, sure, there are an infinite number of possible scenarios. I was giving an alternate to the “rape” version that is floating around. Pedestrians have the right of way in crosswalks, but that doesn’t mean if you are approaching a crosswalk and someone darts out in front of you before you can stop that you will be found guilty. I’m sure you can see how unreasonable that would be. Being “intoxicated” is a grey area. I’m pretty sure people don’t carry around breathalyzers and do a test before having sex. The accuser said she couldn’t give consent. That is her side of the story. What’s the other side?

    Tony! The Flaming Queer Shoop, That is very astute of you to see that I am blaming the “victim”. Of course, I see your hidden premise of the woman being the victim. The point of my post was to raise the question of whether or not she was actually a victim or whether she had any responsibility in what happened.

    anonymous too, I’m sure women can live with regret, but I think part of the meaning of “regret” is that it was something you don’t want to repeat. I’m not seeing anything in what PZ posted that indicates she takes even the slightest bit of responsibility. Was she too drunk to say no? I suppose it is possible, but I don’t see how getting too drunk in the first place removes *all* responsibility. Consider the car analogy again. “Sorry, officer, I was too drunk to know what I was doing,” doesn’t get you off the hook. Now, it may implicate Shermer is she was really drunk and he wasn’t, but to know that we would have to know the facts on both sides. Did she say no? Did she say yes? Who knows? Does she even remember? Does Shermer remember? Does Shermer even know who “she” is? Does saying “yes” if you are really drunk even count? It is hard to pass any sort of judgment because of how this whole event was handled.

    hear•say Information received from other people that cannot be adequately substantiated; rumor. The report of another person’s words by a witness, usually disallowed as evidence in a court of law.

    Hearsay is the legal term for testimony in a court proceeding where the witness does not have direct knowledge of the fact asserted, but knows it only from being told by someone. – Wikipedia

    Hjhornbeck – Did you read what I said? The issue of “trust” was basically useless in this case. It doesn’t tell us anything about what happened. Do I think of all women as infants, or just the drunk ones? Obviously, just the drunk ones since that is what I was SPECIFICALLY talking about. As near as I can tell, the closest to an impartial person who was told about this was the organizers and they seemed to feel there was nothing they could do. While that may be an issue with the organizers, it could also be that, in their judgment, there was no valid complaint. This also seems to be substantiated by the fact that this woman didn’t go to the police when she could have. I don’t know how this woman judges when she has had too much to drink, but I know when I am getting drunk and I assume other people can do that, too. What’s the alternative? People can’t control how much they drink and thus can’t be held accountable? If you can’t judge how what you’re drinking is affecting you then you have no business getting drinking in public. This is just common sense. Let’s be clear, I have said there is *shared* responsibility. At this point, all the blame is being put on Shermer. I never said the two goals were not worthwhile. In fact, what I was saying was an attempt to “diminish the potential pool of victims” for *any* sexual predators. If you get drunk at a party you are risking some serious consequences. It isn’t much different than negligently leaving the keys in your unlocked in a bad neighborhood. Sure, it is still wrong for someone to steal the car, but some common sense would go a long way to preventing the negative consequences. This is particularly relevant when you are talking about the grey areas of being intoxicated and giving consent.

  48. devils advocate says

    Yet you’re the one throwing around insults and then straw man tactics.

    Never mind that you’ve so clearly come down on the accusers side with a distinct lack of evidence it’s clear you are incapable of the last bit of critical thinking, in fact relying on verifiedhing my humanity as if that has a bearing on critical thought.

    But hey, if it works for you, why not. I look forward to inquisition like fascism should people like you take over the world.

    @HHB I agree with that entirely, the difference between this and the evolution idea is simply that evolution has verifiable evidence supporting it that we all have access to. This however has nothing but hearsay. Which for augments sake I’ll refer to as unverifed testimony.

  49. says

    Additionally, you want more evidence before… what? What would change in Michael Shermer’s life if you personally believed that the events transpired as these women (PLURAL) said they did? Especially since your trust reserves by your admission *never* allow for imbibing in the presence of a friend — nothing would change whether you believed the allegation or not. My goal isn’t to convince you. It’s to explain why I, and others, believe the allegations as they stand, and to identify the primary reason you do not.

  50. says

    Yes, it’s possible to imagine a situation where someone gets drunk, then has consensual sex. Most of us have probably seen that happen. However, context matters here.

    This isn’t a case where she had sex when drunk and someone armed with only that knowledge is saying she was raped. Both the woman who told PZ about this and PZ himself don’t think that’s what happened in this case. Both of them have access to a lot more facts than we do.

    The only way this isn’t at least somewhat compelling is if you think PZ is likely to make reckless accusations. I think you can make a case that he’s sometimes unreasonably uncharitable when interpreting people’s words, but that’s as close as you can come. He certainly doesn’t have a history of believing every bullshit story of criminal behavior by people he doesn’t get along with.

  51. notsont says

    Notsont, sure, there are an infinite number of possible scenarios. I was giving an alternate to the “rape” version that is floating around.

    Really? An infinite number? All equally possible and likely I suppose as well eh? MS couldn’t help it he just got drunk with different women at different times and his dick fell into them? He doesn’t choose or encourage women to drink to excess it just “happens” all by itself.

    I suppose we can ignore that the tactics involved read like they are straight out of a rape manual, because hey anything is possible.

  52. LeftSidePositive says

    Anonymous13, we’ve already explained that a person being unable to swerve in time to avoid raping someone is highly unlikely.

    And no, you fucking idiot, saying “yes” when you are drunk does NOT count. We’ve been over this with that whole “sound mind” thing. Stop repeating bullshit we’ve already dismantled. And yes, you are responsible for making sure you have REAL, not confused or manipulated consent before you have sex with someone. It’s not that difficult. It’s The Bare Minimum of Human Decency 101.

    And it’s not that we’re infamtilizing women. It’s that it’s a very plain neurological fact that drunk people are not in full possession if their faculties while drunk. This should not be news. ALL contracts and agreements require the agreer to be of sound mind to be valid. This isn’t some random exception we’ve made for the little wimminz; it’s a basic foundation of law!

    And all your misunderstanding of traffic law and responsibility when driving has been explained up thread. You are literally adding NOTHING to this conversation!.

    Oh, except for some AMAZING just-world fallacy that if the people in power didn’t pursue it, it can’t have been well-founded. Jeez, it’s not like we’ve been documenting organizations’ apathy toward harassment for TWO YEARS, or anything!

    Also, “why didn’t she go to the police?” Dude, WHERE THE FUCK HAVE YOU BEEN?!?! The trauma and apathy that police inflict on victims reporting a rape is incredibly well-documented. In industrialized, modern countries all over the world consistently less than half of all rapes are reported to police!! Care to imagine why? Look at the appalling stats on the inaction of pursuing the case for those that ARE reported! Look at the horrific harassment women get, including Jane Doe of Stubenville, Rahteah Parsons, and many, many more. You cannot possibly be sincere in your ignorance on this question. If you are, then start reading all the posts from 2 years ago onwards and don’t bother us again until you’ve read EVERYTHING. I assure you you’ll find more than adequate explanation of why the majority of victims don’t go to the police.

    Oh, and rapists are not a force of nature. They are not a hangover or a vomit-stained shirt that are caused by involuntary physical processes. Rapists are sentient beings who decide to rape people. Chief among the reasons they are so inclined to rape drunk people is that assholes like you will go on and on about “shared responsibility” instead of realizing that one person here was not doing anything harmful to anyone else, while the other person very severely hurt her.

  53. hjhornbeck says

    devils advocate @56:

    Yet you’re the one throwing around insults and then straw man tactics.

    I’m not. And yet for some reason you continue to ignore the arguments I’ve made. Looks like your best argument at this point is “you’re using nasty language, therefore I can ignore you.”

  54. devils advocate says

    Was referring to lefties attacks. Not yours HHB

    @Leftist So because we want evidence or could possibly see how the accuser could either be lying, or because as you put it “not in control” mistaken about her accusations we’re victim blaming.

    And because the authorities are under the onus to pursue evidence beyond reasonable doubt it’s their fault victims don’t come forward.

    Never one has it entered your mind that they could be lying or the facts distorted or anything like that. Granted I compounded this by arguing stupid analogies and semantics. But the simple fact it there is no proof and theattacking people without it is not only stupid but the precursor to a far more horrific future then people in power being jerks at someone else’s expense.

    So fine, I’ll grant you the system is flawed, but it’s better then carte Blanche lynching based on what you propose.

    As skeptics, I would have figured you understood that. I guess not.

    Enjoy your petty justifications based on trust. I look forward to the day it bites you on the ass

  55. hjhornbeck says

    Anonymous13 @55:

    Please learn to blockquote. <blockquote>It’s not that hard.</blockquote>

    The issue of “trust” was basically useless in this case. It doesn’t tell us anything about what happened.

    Sure it does, it tells us how much to weight the evidence. I trust my voltmeter, hence I weight what it tells me highly. If you don’t trust a source, then you don’t weight the evidence strongly. I said this earlier, in fact:

    You trust Shermer more than PZ, and so you will discard this accusation. If Shermer is innocent, then you will have been right to trust him. If Shermer is not, then your trust was misplaced.

    … I fail to see a complaint here. Are you arguing PZ Myers is trusted by everyone, or that no-one trusts Shermer, and therefore the accusations will carry weight?

    So are you going to find any flaws in what I wrote, or concede my argument is sound?

    This also seems to be substantiated by the fact that this woman didn’t go to the police when she could have.

    I’ve covered that already. Are you going to find any flaws in what I wrote, or concede my argument is sound?

    I don’t know how this woman judges when she has had too much to drink, but I know when I am getting drunk and I assume other people can do that, too.

    You are capable of sober judgment when your judgment is impaired?

    If you can’t judge how what you’re drinking is affecting you then you have no business getting drinking in public.

    If I dress like a slut, am I asking to be raped? If I get drunk, am I asking to be raped?

    This is just common sense.

    No, this is making it easier for rapists to get away with rape. You are aiding and abetting criminal behavior.

    Let’s be clear, I have said there is *shared* responsibility.

    I’ve covered that already. Are you going to find any flaws in what I wrote, or concede my argument is sound?

    In fact, what I was saying was an attempt to “diminish the potential pool of victims” for *any* sexual predators.

    By giving them a way to dodge responsibility? I don’t think you know what “diminish” means.

    If you get drunk at a party you are risking some serious consequences. It isn’t much different than negligently leaving the keys in your unlocked in a bad neighborhood. Sure, it is still wrong for someone to steal the car,

    Oh *whew*, you’re finally getting the point! You agree that no matter how the victim acts or behaves, it is still the fault of the person committing the crime, not the victim.

    but some common sense would go a long way to preventing the negative consequences.

    Damn, you were soooooo close back there.

    This is particularly relevant when you are talking about the grey areas of being intoxicated and giving consent.

    I’ve covered this before, both in comment #38 and this very one. Are you going to find any flaws in what I wrote, or concede my argument is sound?

  56. says

    It seems clear that those who side with JT and PZ on this believe that Shermer “gets women drunk”… as though they are passive vessels that have no say in the matter.

    Or am I wrong about this?

    Or… they decide (on their own volition) to drink themselves into a state where they are “incapable of consent”. He then has sex with them despite their (presumed) protestations? Is that how I am to understand it?

    If they protest, it’s straight-up rape, whether alcohol is involved or not – which renders the entire alcohol factor irrelevant.

    If they do not protest, and it appears to a non-intoxicated male to be consensual sex, he will soon be surprised to find out that he raped what appeared to be a willing partner.

    So, which is it? Are women forced to drink alcohol or not?

    If the answer is yes, then we clearly have bigger issues than just the ones being discussed here.

    If the answer is no, then you are basically stating that women can volitionally commit an act that absolves them from any responsibility for what goes on after they commit that act.

    I wonder how such an idea would fly in a court of law. It reminds me of the adage of the guy who gets pulled over for speeding, and then rolls down the window and says “Sorry officer, but it wasn’t my fault! I’ve had a few drinks…”

  57. hjhornbeck says

    kacyray @66:

    as though [women] are passive vessels that have no say in the matter. Or am I wrong about this?

    Very wrong. Have you considered the possibility of trickery? That Shermer may have used a combination of tactics to slowly reduce people’s ability to resist? There are more than two choices here, yet you carefully ignore all others:

    If they protest [...]
    If they do not protest [...]
    Are women forced to drink alcohol or not?
    If the answer is yes [...]
    If the answer is no [...]

    No wonder you’re having difficulty understanding, you’ve artificially limited the choices to exclude the most reasonable scenarios.

  58. Pudendum says

    I do think that the language used (such as ‘he got her drunk’) suggests women as objects rather than actors

    This is one of the reasons I think it unwise to drink yourself stupid.

    I am not a ‘concern troll’, but I know that ‘troll’ is a common dismissal used by the intellectually bankrupt. That tells me plenty.

  59. notsont says

    I do think that the language used (such as ‘he got her drunk’) suggests women as objects rather than actors

    This is one of the reasons I think it unwise to drink yourself stupid.

    As skeptics do you believe in mentalist tricks and manipulation? There is veritable library of books on how to get women drunk without them realizing it. It is a common rape tactic, and its well documented and its especially easy if there is any hero worship involved or any level of trust. Humans are practically programmed from birth to be manipulated by charismatic “leaders”. Women in our society far more than men.

    If you think you are too smart to ever have something like that happen to you at the hands of a conman, you are a fool.

  60. hjhornbeck says

    [twiddles his thumbs, while patiently waiting for Pudendum to either refute his arguments or concede they are sound]

  61. says

    I believe that maybe, just maybe, Michael Shermer actually did it. Cancel that; I believe that Shermer probably did it. However, I simultaneously believe that Myers has handled the situation in the wrong way.

    Whether Shermer is guilty or innocent, he will likely sue for defamation. This means that, at some point, Myers will be subpoenaed to reveal his sources. Hopefully, he invokes journalist’s privilege. The identity of these women does need to be protected, for as long as they want it to be. But this creates a problem: without Shermer’s victims testifying in a courtroom, Shermer wins. Many of those not within Myers’ web-of-trust will assume that Shermer’s victory exonerates him. Yes, I know that acquittal does not entail innocence, but that is how a significant number who have no reason to trust Myers will perceive it. Worse, those who are already actively hostile towards Myers will seize upon Shermer’s acquittal as evidence of Myers having made the whole thing up. They will advance various supporting theories as to why this is so, the majority of which will be preposterous. Unfortunately, as all skeptics know, there are legions who are hell-bent on believing preposterous theories, seemingly the more preposterous the better.

    Now let’s suppose that Shermer doesn’t sue. Whether he is guilty or innocent, this will cause many to ask –perhaps reasonably — “Why aren’t you suing, Shermer? Got something to hide?”

    Now suppose that Shermer sues, but Myers doesn’t invoke journalist’s privilege. Shermer’s victims end up in court and suffer all of the trauma that they had hoped to avoid. I concede that this is unlikely. Myers seems to me a man of integrity, even as I believe that he has made the wrong decisions in pursuing his present action.

    If Shermer is a rapist, then Myers’ unveiling of this fact might prevent other women from being raped. This is an enormous plus, whether one woman is saved, or fifty. But couldn’t this very positive result have been achieved in a different way, one not involving the ethically ambiguous route of public shaming? People trust Myers. These women trust Myers enough to have revealed to him something deeply personal. What if Myers had cast his grenade, but without identifying Shermer personally? What if Myers had announced instead, “I have reason to believe that a renowned, celebrity skeptic is a rapist. I can’t reveal his identity, nor can I reveal the identity of his accusers. Regardless, we need to ensure that this man is put behind bars. This won’t happen unless someone is willing to publicly testify against him. Please, if you are a woman who has been sexually assaulted by a very power and very famous skeptic, at a skeptic conference or elsewhere, come forward. I know that this is a tremendous sacrifice, but it needs to happen if we want to prevent this man from raping again.”

    If no women were willing to publicly come forward, then Myers’ unveiling of Shermer would arguably be justified, and women would know to avoid him. If women were willing to publicly come forward, then women would still known to avoid him, and Shermer wold have at least faced the possibility of punishment. Further, an actual court case generates for more media attention, so far more women would have been warned.

    Anyway, those are my thoughts. Disagreement welcome, as long as you can disagree civilly. I accept that my viewpoint might be utterly wrong, but you are less likely to convince me of that by calling me names. I admit that I’ve called names before; that’s how I know that it is counterproductive.

  62. Fadi says

    Hey, it’s not about trust or not. In a widely open & complicated laws society like in the US, what matters is not trust of somebody. Even not trusting Shermer doesn’t change the fact he wrote valuable scientific books and articles and that he will always be appreciated for that.

    It’s all about: what if the accused personality has really did it? that would void me trusting him for sure. So, did he raped the girl or not, I can’t answer but I say that since no personal interest is involved by PZ Myers, it will void my trust with Mr. Shermer.

  63. hoary puccoon says

    Devil’s Advocate @ 52–

    “The difference between coercion and consent must be made clear….”

    No, actually, it doesn’t. If Michael Shermer is ever prosecuted in a court of law, that will be an issue. But at this point, he’s not even being threatened with prosecution. The only result of this– unless he’s really incredibly foolish and decides to drag in the legal system on his own– is that he’ll be embarrassed, and young women will be warned. For that purpose, it doesn’t actually matter if what he did fits the legal definition of rape or not.

    The way you are arguing, it looks very much like you’re trying to tilt the field. You’re essentially saying, unless a man has done something everybody agrees is rape, nobody is allowed to say anything about him at all– even to warn and protect potential victims. At what point does a woman’s right to pertinent information– like “watch out for X. He’s dangerous”– enter your thinking? Does it EVER enter your thinking at all?

  64. Pudendum says

    Sorry, Hjel, but I don’t understand you.

    And Notsont, I am susceptible, as are most humans, to trickery.

    For instance, there was an incident on a university concourse with a young person, fresh and new, being approached with offers of easy money. The offer was from a company called ‘Visa’ and the offer was for something called ‘credit’ which wasn’t.

    So yes, of course trickery is used. My point was, that this language frames women as objects rather than actors.

  65. hjhornbeck says

    chaswarren @71:

    However, I simultaneously believe that Myers has handled the situation in the wrong way. Whether Shermer is guilty or innocent, he will likely sue for defamation.

    Incorrect, according to at least one lawyer:

    The point of all of this (typically lawyerly) interminable blather is that I think the better response to claims that PZ has libeled someone is that PZ has obviously been very conscientious about the manner in which he has approached Ms. Doe’s allegation and the situation more broadly. He has clearly not acted with “actual malice,” which means he has not committed libel even if Ms. Doe’s accusation is false (which I don’t believe for a minute). PZ has acted in precisely the way that the U.S. Supreme Court has said for the last fifty years that we’re allowed to act when we publish statements about public figures.

  66. hjhornbeck says

    Pudendum @74:

    Sorry, Hjel, but I don’t understand you.

    What part do you find difficult to understand? Perhaps I can explain that bit a little better.

  67. says

    From your link:

    Truth is indeed an absolute defense to a defamation action, but procedurally, the much more important fact is that it’s an affirmative defense, not an element of the tort itself. What that means is that, in a hypothetical defamation suit filed by Shermer, Shermer would not be required to prove that PZ’s statement was false; instead, PZ would have the burden to prove it was true–insofar as he’s depending upon truth of the statement (rather than other potential defenses, one of which I’ll mention below) to protect him from liability.

    (I suspect that there would be an initial question of what, precisely, PZ’s statement about this case is. Is the statement PZ published (1) “Michael Shermer raped a person I know,” or is it (2) “A person I know told me that Michael Shermer raped her”? There’s an obvious argument to be made that (2) is what he actually posted, and (2) would be a hell of a lot easier for PZ to prove true. But I’m a little skeptical that courts would allow defendants out of defamation suits based only on that thin kind of foreground truth; by that standard, it seems like you could absolutely protect yourself from any defamation claim by alleging absolutely anything you’d like about your target, but then insulating yourself from syntactic responsibility for the allegation with some kind of Fox News-ish “Some people say” pretext. I presume courts have looked into this issue and decided how to resolve it, but it would take some substantial research to find out what that resolution is.)

    Anyway, relying on the “But it’s true” affirmative defense would quite possibly require PZ to, in very real terms, mount a full-blown rape prosecution of Shermer* and win it. One reads a lot in threads like the huge one on Pharyngula from last night about courts’ standards of evidence not applying to our community’s discussion of allegations like the current one against Shermer, and I agree entirely that they don’t and shouldn’t, as long as we’re not talking about technical legalisms. If PZ is forced to actually use truth as a defense to a defamation action, though, we would have to be talking about court evidence rules–and, as one also reads (once again entirely rightly) in these kinds of discussions, application of those standards can be just brutal to women who accuse men of sex crimes. In order to prove the truth of his statement, it’s hard to see how PZ could avoid calling Jane Doe to the stand, exposing her to everything that rape victims are invariably treated to in court. It would very likely be harrowing.

  68. says

    Isn’t it interesting how suddenly this situation is reduced to a legalistic framework…. negating the women.

    Here’s the outcome in real life.

    A whole lot of women reading all of this back and forth will stop trusting or hanging around with a short list of men in the community. This means undoubtedly….that a most women will be able to continue to enjoy conferences and hanging out and GASP….drinking with the people they trust, colleagues and others who deserve their comraderie and patter and even affection….Those on the shortlist….the worst that is going to happen to them? Well, besides being surrounded by sycophants…. the worst is that they will have less opportunity to behave without regard to other persons and get away with it. Because that’s the world we live in.

    Justice would be great – but this will have to do – short of putting a cowbell on their dicks so you can hear em coming and run.

  69. spitz says

    “Being too drunk to say no is not giving permission to others to abuse you. An absence of no is not a yes. I’m sure some Googling will give you the information you need on this topic.

    It’s not “being too drunk to say no”. If they’re drunk, a “yes” would not represent consent either as they don’t have the capacity to make that decision. If they say “let’s go fuck”, it’s still a no go. However, if they’re with someone else who is drunk, that person than doesn’t have the capacity to make rational judgments either. They can’t be trusted as they’re giving up their ability to think straight.

    So it’s not really a trust issue at that point. It’s irresponsible people getting high, and the greatest risk to them in that situation is themselves. For all of the issues that surround that(DUIs,rape, violent crime in general, accidents and personal health risks) the best solution adults seem to have come up with is to ask their friends to be chaperons.Driving? Designated driver. Sexual assault? Advertisements featuring noble sober people willing to escort the inebriated. Those people will try to be responsible so that you don’t have to be…and I guess they’ll have to hope they don’t get hurt trying to protect you.

    Alcohol doesn’t make rape go away, but temperance arguments should replace the alcohol apologetics that are common in these discussions. If people have the ability to decide whether they want to give up their basic ability to think straight, they should be opting to hold onto it. The amount of alcohol someone can handle doesn’t change wildly with time, so it’s possible to figure out what your limits are and stick with them.

    In Canada, only 6% of sexual assaults are reported to police. When asked why, 44% did not think the police or courts would take it seriously, and 50% thought the authorities could do nothing. Only half result in successful convictions. But you apparently live in an different universe where the police and courts take sexual assault seriously, and it leaves obvious and clear evidence.

    Unless I’m misreading, you just said that in Canada, 94% of sexual assault cases go unreported because only half of the ones that are reported result in successful convictions. If this is true, then correcting the misinformation that causes people to not report anything should be a top priority as, at least in ideal circumstances, the number of convictions would be 17 times greater than it is right now.

    For comparisons sake, in 2011, the number of guilty verdicts or pleas in the country was 64%

    http://www.sunnewsnetwork.ca/sunnews/straighttalk/archives/2012/07/20120702-082012.html

    with violent crime being a lower 52%.

    Granted, I’m wary of the idea that increased convictions is a sign of improvement as the goal should be accurate judgments, but when the vast majority of people aren’t even giving the system an opportunity to screw up, then something’s wrong.

  70. says

    …one more thing for your consideration.

    I’ve read somewhere that nearly 2/3rds of human communication is – gossip. Now gossip can be idle, cruel, or just plain true. Women talk. A lot of the talking we do happens in cafes or on the phone – in txts. We tell each other about creepy men, funny men, sweet men, hot men, smart men…scummy manipulative men who reveal themselves to be lowlifes…It gets around. (Sorry for this cis hetero-normativity on display here… )… let’s change that to people. People talk. If you are creepy or abusive or manipulative we share that with our trusted intimates…If you behave in a scummy manner and we would like our friends to avoid you…we make sure they know.

    So maybe that’s the real rub. Finding out we talk to each other – about your shitty behaviors?

    No the law isn’t coming for most (after all its not like women had real power to craft the legalities around this)….but, maybe for some – the inkling of a conscience about themselves…and maybe that’s what all the squeeling is about.

    Maybe what *you* have done is being named and shamed explicitly…and the consequences and that flapping sound is some emotional chickens coming home to roost. Maybe you ARE that scumbag we talk about -amongst ourselves, away from the neanderthalic gruntings of most internet comments threads?

  71. Pen says

    @cityzenjane#78 I couldn’t agree more. I’m all for knowing who I can and can’t party with/get drunk with safely without expecting a pass at any moment. Less of this ‘if you don’t want to get raped, don’t party’ business.

  72. LeftSidePositive says

    Devils advocate, no actually you aren’t asking for more evidence. You are describing scenarios that you think are exculpatory but we are telling you ARE STILL WRONG. It doesn’t cease to be rape if he’s drunk too. (We’ve been over this TO DEATH!) You are pretending being intoxicated is a position to give or withhold consent–IT’S NOT. You keep pretending being manipulated into sex is taking an action, not being affected by one. It’s not a question of evidence for you, it’s a question of your fucked-up lack of sexual ethics.

    Kacyray, sorry but people don’t exist in a default state of consent unless they protest enough.

    Pudendum, you’re creating a false dichotomy between “superhuman free-willed uber-rationalist impervious to others” and “helpless mindless object.” The fact is that humans can be manipulated. Skeptics should be REALLY clear about that by now!! Just because we’re pointing our that someone can be vulnerable, we are not saying they’re completely helpless, and by paying lip service to people as agents by denying that mostly-rational actors can be fooled & taken advantage of, is basically to set an impossible standard for human interactions (for the victim), and withholding support from a wronged person by exploiting the rhetoric of pseudo-empowerment.

  73. says

    @66: What’s your point? A woman could know she was getting drunk without knowing she was being set up for rape. This is essentially the “why did she get in the car?” defense. Consent to get drunk is not consent to sex.

    @77: There is plenty of precedent here. Myers can’t print damaging, untrue claims about Shermer just because he was reporting someone else said if he dd so in bad faith (like he knew or strong suspected his source made this up), but it’s up to the plaintiff to prove this and he’s otherwise covered. The only analogous case I can think of where the plaintiff won is Curtis Publishign Co v. Butss where a newspaper printed a story that someone claimed to have picked up a pay phone and found themselves on a misconnected call where the overheard a college football coach conspiring to throw games. In that case, it was the extreme implausibility of the story that let them overcome the high burden of proof required when public figures are involved. I on’t think that would be the case here.

  74. Anonymous13 says

    I don’t know if Shermer did anything malevolent or not, but it seems that the purpose of PZ’s post was to warn women to not get drunk in Shermer’s presence. I’m suggesting that personal responsibility extends beyond just Shermer’s presence. Don’t drink in public if you don’t know how to control your drinking. Obviously, in PZ’s world, he believes women are capable of NOT GETTING DRUNK IN RISKY SITUATIONS. I agree with PZ. Because situations like this happen all too often, and because women tend to NOT want to report these things to the police, then people need to AVOID the KNOWN risks. Because the risks are well-known, people have an obligation to drink responsibly. (I will be using this scenario as an example for my own daughter as to what NOT to do.)

    IF you don’t want to be in a situation where you are not sure you can give (or deny giving) consent, then you need to not put yourself in that position. None of this dismisses the actions of rapists, just as nothing dismisses someone stealing your car if you leave it unlocked in a bad neighborhood, but for fucks sake, don’t be stupid, and please take responsibility for your own actions. You don’t have to be “asking to be raped” to be in a situation where there is a grey area as to whether or not you can give consent. No one’s dick is just going to “fall” into you without your consent if you are not drunk (yes, in this context, I am purposefully excluding violent rapists who clearly act without consent). As I said in my first post, there IS a grey area as to when a person is or is not so inebriated as to be able to give consent. All the more reason for women to stay well-clear of that line when drinking in public situations. It was claimed that a drunk woman is not doing anything “harmful to anyone else.” That may be the case, but there is also the issue of doing something which is reckless in a given situation. Again, I will go back to the purpose of PZ’s post which is to warn women to not be reckless in certain risky situations. You can’t both support the principle behind PZ’s reason for making the grenade post and completely abdicate women’s responsibility in this scenario.

  75. says

    You don’t have to be “asking to be raped” to be in a situation where there is a grey area as to whether or not you can give consent.

    So you’re not saying she was asking to be raped,

    You can’t both support the principle behind PZ’s reason for making the grenade post and completely abdicate women’s responsibility in this scenario.

    but she was responsible for getting raped. Thanks for the edifying hair-splitting

  76. says

    I don’t get why so many of these idiots have trouble distinguishing between ‘I don’t want to believe’ and ‘I don’t believe’.

    I didn’t want to believe an ex-boyfriend was the type of person that was cruel to animals. I mean, he was fun to be around, knew where to find some of the best micro-brews, was willing to play the party heal-bot, and was generally a nice guy. I didn’t want to believe he was the type of person who thought microwaving a cat was funny.

    I didn’t want to believe it. But I was there, in the car, when he deliberately swerved to hit a cat.

    Not wanting to believe it doesn’t make something untrue. I still don’t want to believe there are people out there who would deliberately harm an animal, possibly someone’s pet, for no reason other than shits and giggles.

    But there is plenty of evidence out there that such people exist. It’s not an extraordinary claim.

    I didn’t want to believe it. I could have rationalized it away – he didn’t really see it there, it was an accident, I imagined it, the cat was rabid and he was putting it out of its misery, whatever. I didn’t want to believe it.

    I didn’t want to believe it. I also don’t want to believe that there are people out there that think LGBT individuals should be killed. But they aren’t bigfoot. They aren’t even on the endangered species list.

    Not wanting to believe something doesn’t make it untrue. Learning that is part of growing up.

    I believe the victims.

  77. says

    And for crying out loud, let’s look at the math, shall we?

    2% of accusations are false. So we can believe the first accuser with 98% certainty.

    Now there are three accounts.

    What, statistically, are the odds that all 3 accounts are false?

    Come on, you MRA trolls, you keep claiming that men are so much more rational and better at math and shit than women.

    Do the math.

  78. says

    chaswarren @71:

    …Shermer’s acquittal…

    If Shermer is suing for defamation, then he won’t be acquitted (or found guilty). PZ Myers will be the one for whom acquittal is a possibility.

    But couldn’t this very positive result have been achieved in a different way, one not involving the ethically ambiguous route of public shaming? People trust Myers. These women trust Myers enough to have revealed to him something deeply personal.

    You seem to be thinking that Myers was just emailed the info just so some women could tell someone. Read Myers’ post again: the first woman wants her story about Shermer to be publicized. And the odds that, at this late date, Shermer would see any substantial jail time even if a dozen women were willing to testify is very, very low. So the goal isn’t to see him convicted, or even prosecuted, it’s to reduce the harm he can do using methods more reliable than the legal system. And, surprisingly, to do so in a way that harms Shermer the least if the stories are false.

    Imagine that Shermer is innocent of any/all rape or improper behavior charges. Imagine a dozen women with personal vendettas against Shermer for non-rape reasons conspiring together to fabricate rape allegations. If they manage to convince a prosecutor of their claims, and if it were to actually go to trial, and if the jury believed their lies, and if the judge weren’t sympathetic, then Shermer could wind up in jail for a long, long time. Contrast that with his public shaming where he’ll just lose some book sales, he’ll find it difficult to socialize with certain people at conventions, and he might lose some speaking fees.

    (Note that the above consequences have already occurred, given that Shermer was on “The List” of people that women should avoid at cons that was passed around quietly. Last week’s news about Radford, Shermer and Famous Skeptic has simply made “The List” more widely available, and thus those consequences which were already happening are now going to happen more – regardless Shermer’s guilt or innocence.)

  79. says

    I disagree that you can ‘feel free to overindulge in whatever recreational pharmaceuticals your level of trust permits’

    I have a friend that I see about twice a year for the last 10 years. We go out for dinner, get drunk, and have wild drunkfucks, then pass out, wake up the next morning, and hug eachother and next time one or the other of us is in the same town, we do it again. I would assert that this is not rape since, when we started doing this, a high level of enthusiastic consent was established – and has been maintained for a decade. If either of us felt consent had been revoked, I’m guessing it would have been a while ago, and there wouldn’t have been so many enthusiastic get-togethers. It so happens that, for both of us (we’ve discussed it in great detail!) having a sloppy drunk bout is unusual and therefore, extra fun.

    Now, unless there’s some moral argument that trumps both our enthusiastic and long-maintained consent – i.e.: that being drunk while having sex is morally wrong – what is wrong with it? (erectile problems aside, it can be extremely sensuous to have sex while drunk. as long as you’re not so drunk that you throw up on your partner. unless they consented to that, too)

  80. says

    I don’t know if Shermer did anything malevolent or not, but it seems that the purpose of PZ’s post was to warn women to not get drunk in Shermer’s presence

    What an odd way of putting it. If there’s any truth at all behind PZ’s warning (and I think there is) it’s pretty clear Shermer did something malevolent. That he may have justified it to himself as acceptable doesn’t change the fact that at least 4 people (and now me!) think it was not.

    IF you don’t want to be in a situation where you are not sure you can give (or deny giving) consent, then you need to not put yourself in that position

    Neatly placing the onus on the victim. Niiice. Go look in a mirror and tell me what you see.

    Why not say “don’t rape people”? If you think you may be a rapist, don’t put yourself in a position where you’re not sure you can behave like a decent human being?

    Of course people should know there are some people who can’t do that, who aren’t decent human beings, and avoiding them is a good idea. PZ’s waving the red flag and pointing out that “here’s one! who appears to be an unsafe drinking companion, unless you’re male, because he has a history of using alcohol to increase his ability to force himself on women who are not receptive or otherwise might not be receptive.”

  81. MadHatter says

    I am getting sick to death of this “don’t do X if you don’t want to get raped” shit. Don’t drink, don’t wear a skirt, don’t wear jeans, don’t wear heels, don’t talk to strange men, don’t go out in public. I’ve heard it my whole damn life, and it didn’t matter one bit to me or any other woman I know who has been groped or raped.

    On top of this rapid disintegration we are witnessing, I have had two different friends, who don’t know each other at all, tell me this week of recent experiences in which they went out with friends for a drink. A man at the bar (in one case the bartender) showed a great deal of interest and bought them a drink and they don’t remember the rest of the evening. Lucky for them in both cases a friend was suspicious of the fact that they were so drunk so quickly and helped them get home. They’d been drugged.

    So…does drinking with anyone or drinking in public negate my right to consent? Because that’s what the arguments that “she was drinking and she should’ve known better” boil down to. The minute a woman picks up anything alcoholic is she fair game?

    You don’t know the details. And quite frankly, you have no right to the details. What you know is that she spent some time with Shermer and was not able to provide consent when he raped her. There are many ways for that to happen, alcohol is one and regardless of what you may think having a drink with him does not automatically mean consent. The victim-blaming reaction of so many is why not a single woman I know who has been raped or assaulted has reported it.

    Not one.

    So those of you who are provide all of the “don’t do X”…fuck right off. You are responsible for not beating people who are having a drink, and you are just as responsible for not raping them.

  82. hjhornbeck says

    chaswarren @77:

    You missed the next part, where they outlined a much better defense than “it’s the truth.” Myers is on solid legal ground, and if Shermer were to pursue a case he’d probably lose. The case itself would generate a mini-circus and (if the rumours are true) bring out a lot of skeletons that he and others like him would like to keep buried.

    The smart thing for Shermer to do is say silent for a while, pop up with an empty statement, then carry on as if nothing happened.

  83. hjhornbeck says

    Anonymous13 @84:

    Don’t drink in public if you don’t know how to control your drinking.

    Because sexual assaults only happen in public, I gather.

    Because situations like this happen all too often, and because women tend to NOT want to report these things to the police, then people need to AVOID the KNOWN risks.

    Which is why we’re making these risks known. You should be thanking Myers, by your own logic.

    IF you don’t want to be in a situation where you are not sure you can give (or deny giving) consent, then you need to not put yourself in that position.

    Everyone is 100% honest in your universe? PLEASE tell the rest of us how to get there!

    None of this dismisses the actions of rapists

    … wait for it …

    but for fucks sake, don’t be stupid, and please take responsibility for your own actions.

    Yep, right there, you just dismissed the actions of rapists, in the same sentence where you claimed not to dismiss the actions of rapists. The kids call that an “own goal,” I hear.

    You don’t have to be “asking to be raped” to be in a situation where there is a grey area as to whether or not you can give consent.

    So if we don’t have evidence for sound mind and body, we might have evidence for sound mind and body?

    All the more reason for women to stay well-clear of that line when drinking in public situations.

    You’re full of advice for the victims of rape. Do you have any advice for the rapists, or are they not responsible for their actions?

  84. dogberry says

    It’s not so complicated. I posted several times in the thread at Pharyngula that the original post and many commenters afterwards were guilty of defamation of character unless the accusations were legally proven. All that got me was accusations of being a “filthy, lying asswad”, an “MRA”, a “rape culture apologist” and a “lying fuckwit”. I’m sure there were other remarks and epithets, but none seemed to be worth remembering. Previously I was unaware of the existence of ‘rape culture’ and ‘rape culture apologists’ and I had to look up what an ‘MRA’ was. These youngsters seem to have got themselves backed into quite a cul-de-sac, where they are unable to judge something on its merits, but must simply follow the party line or be banned from their favourite forums. I used to be a stalinist (for serious) and understand that mindset. I know why I am no longer a stalinist, and would like to inform others it doesn’t work well enough to stick with it as a world-view.

    My take on the whole thing is that if 90% of rape accusations are accurate (and I am also told I must assume only 6% of rapes are reported, so I’m quite uncertain as to how we know 90% are accurate!) then Mr Shermer is 90% guilty just because an anonymous accuser says so. Much as I try not to think with my intestines, in this case if I let my intestines have their say, I would agree that he is likely to be guilty as (unofficially) charged. But that won’t do for me and won’t work for society in general. We have a higher standard of proof for criminal convictions, and to do that we should be sure beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed the crime of rape. No one at Pharyngula will concede that their comments have consequences in real life, but surely they do. I can’t judge if Mr Shermer is guilty, nor can I judge if his accuser (yes, accuser, and not victim until the case is proven!) is correct in her accusations. It’s not my job, and I’m not qualified to do it, and nor do I have the information or authority to do it. That doesn’t make me a ‘rape culture apologist’ – it simply makes me someone who knows the limits of their assumptions. But mob psychology has got its grip on PZ’s commentariat, and anyone who retains any scintilla of individual thought or opinion must be trashed if they speak up there.

    Then they have the nerve to say they are not a court and that anything they post will not have consequences for Mr Shermer. I should remind them of Shakespeare’s words from Othello:

    “Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing;
    ’Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
    But he that filches from me my good name
    Robs me of that which not enriches him,
    And makes me poor indeed.”

    Of course anything posted on the internet has consequences! Mr Shermer’s family, relatives and friends are reading this and drawing their conclusions. It might not be an official legal consequence, but it will affect how those people view him nonetheless. That is wrong, unless he is guilty, in which case it is to be expected. If an internet “court” declares him guilty then the same internet court must take responsibility for that finding of guilt if he is actually innocent. I don’t know, you don’t know, they don’t know. At present only he and his accuser know anything and it is not for us to make a judgement.
    And whilst we are mentioning Shakespeare, I would remind all that my username was chosen for the one notable sentiment that Dogberry said:

    “Marry, sir, they have committed false report; moreover, they have spoken untruths; secondarily, they are slanders; sixth and lastly, they have belied a lady; thirdly, they have verified unjust things; and, to conclude, they are lying knaves.”

    and of course Dogberry also said in all humility:

    “Dost thou not suspect my place? dost thou not
    suspect my years? O that he were here to write me
    down an ass! But, masters, remember that I am an
    ass; though it be not written down, yet forget not
    that I am an ass. No, thou villain, thou art full of
    piety, as shall be proved upon thee by good witness.
    I am a wise fellow, and, which is more, an officer,
    and, which is more, a householder, and, which is
    more, as pretty a piece of flesh as any is in
    Messina, and one that knows the law, go to; and a
    rich fellow enough, go to; and a fellow that hath
    had losses, and one that hath two gowns and every
    thing handsome about him. Bring him away. O that
    I had been writ down an ass!”

    I don’t actually think myself more of an ass than PZ, Shermer, or Shermer’s accuser, but I know it is worthwhile to assume a position of humility whenever arguing, as one might be proven wrong at any moment. I am simply attempting to respect the civil rights of Mr Shermer’s accuser and Mr Shermer equally. In order to do this, I have to accord them the same rights (which seems to be an impossibility at Pharyngula) and await the legally adjudicated outcome. This particular case looks like it will not get a legal solution, given PZ’s statement that “It’s been a few years, so no law agency is going to do anything about it now” and that is a shame. Of course we should prosecute those who commit sexual crimes, and of course we would all like to see that happen. But to condemn on the basis of hearsay? To assume unproven guilt? Go to any enlightenment hero you may revere and ask whether he or she would approve and then you have all the answer you need.

    An ass.

  85. Anonymous13 says

    Ace of Sevens, there is a difference between “she was responsible for getting raped” and “she could have been more responsible and not been in a situation where there is a known risk of getting raped” (assuming that rape even took place). This second part is exactly what PZ is asserting. Do you agree with him or not? This is not a petty distinction that qualifies as hair-splitting.

    Go back to the car scenario. There is a difference between “she was responsible for her car getting stolen” and “she could have been more responsible and not been in a situation where there is a known risk of her car being stolen.” Leaving one’s keys in an unlocked car in a bad neighborhood is asking for trouble. It is being willfully negligent. It is being stupid when you have something of value that you want to protect. The same goes for drinking to the point of not knowing what you are doing, in a place where someone could potentially take advantage of you (assuming that is even what happened). IF you value something you want to protect then you OUGHT to take actions which will protect that. This is common sense. I am NOT saying this justifies rape. Getting drunk and going to a room with a guy you hardly know isn’t a good way to protect oneself from harm. Now, back to the car analogy. It isn’t as simple as someone stealing a car, it is an issue of someone driving the car who potentially was given the keys by the owner who also said or implied it was ok. Maybe the car was scratched up, the owner regrets what happened, and now the owner is saying they were too drunk to have given permission in the first place. The driver (presumably) is saying they did nothing wrong and caused no damage to the car. How do you determine what really happened? I’m not sure because we don’t know the details, but I can tell you that it would be prudent to be much more careful with one’s car in the future.

  86. Anonymous13 says

    WithinThisMind, 2%? That is definitely from the extremely low end of the spectrum, and 40+ years old to boot.

  87. Anonymous13 says

    Marcus Ranum the alternative to “placing the onus on the victim” is that the victim has no good reason to act responsibly. Look to the car analogy, “I don’t understand why my unlocked car with the keys left in it in a bad neighborhood was stolen”. What is PZ saying if not to do stupid things like that?

    “Why not say “don’t rape people”?” Ok, don’t rape people. But is that what has taken place here? There is a grey area and a lack of details for me to make that judgment. I suggest all these women go to the police and push for an investigation. Let’s at least pretend that the principles of the Sixth Amendment are of value.

  88. says

    @dogberry – this is not going to court. Your point is pointless.

    We talk to each other offline as well – there is a short list. If you suspect you maybe be on the shortlist…take a look at yourself.

    We have a right to talk about what happens to us. And we will.

  89. says

    Math, Dingleberry, do you comprehend it?

    The odds of rolling a 1 on a 10 sided dice are 1 in 10.

    What are the odds of rolling two 10 sided dice and getting both to come up 1?

    What are the odds of rolling three 10 sided dice and getting all three to come up 1?

    Notice a pattern?

    Now, if your ‘10%’ false number is true (it isn’t, it’s 2-6%), and we now have at least 3 collaborations (more, if you actually read the thread and note what behaviors have been observed) what are the odds that the accusation is false?

    Do the math.

    What is your definition of ‘reasonable doubt’? 1 in 100 chance? 1 in 1000? Do you believe in unicorns, Dingleberry?

  90. dogberry says

    There is a difference between “she was responsible for her car getting stolen” and “she could have been more responsible and not been in a situation where there is a known risk of her car being stolen.” Leaving one’s keys in an unlocked car in a bad neighborhood is asking for trouble. It is being willfully negligent. It is being stupid when you have something of value that you want to protect. The same goes for drinking to the point of not knowing what you are doing, in a place where someone could potentially take advantage of you (assuming that is even what happened). IF you value something you want to protect then you OUGHT to take actions which will protect that.

    You know, if I decide to go to a bar and get drunk, the possibility of ending up as a rape victim ought not to factor into that decision. The reason why I don’t factor it in is that I am male and rape isn’t something I was brought up to fear. If I were female and a potential rape victim I would have to think about that bar and my intoxication very differently, and that really isn’t fair. Don’t you feel that women can choose to get drunk in the same way men can, with just the same consequences – drunk driving etc which everyone should be aware of – but not the special issue of becoming a sexual assault victim?

  91. Reginald Selkirk says

    In that respect, I am a good deal like PZ Myers to a far smaller degree (in that I am less popular, and therefore have less interactions with which to build my web of trust)

    That goes for the beard as well. Yours falls into the category of “a nice start.” But that’s something you can work on.

  92. dogberry says

    @dogberry – this is not going to court. Your point is pointless

    Given that I don’t have the faintest idea what you might mean by this, I might say your reply is pointless too.

    Neither you nor I know whether this issue will ever go to court. I hope it does, in that I would like to see the accuser and Shermer have some justice. (For the unthoughtful, justice will turn out to be what is right – right being the best our society can manage – for both plaintiff and defendant.)

  93. Anonymous13 says

    MadHatter, are you equally sick of someone saying, “Don’t leave your car unlocked with the keys in it in a bad neighborhood?’ Why would that be sickening advice? The fact is, cars get stolen and women get raped. This advice doesn’t excuse theft or rape. It is to help prevent people from being harmed in a world where harms happen. Sure, you can wish that harms don’t happen, but how does that protect you?

    What is relevant here probably isn’t as malevolent as someone secretly drugging a woman’s drink (although there is good reason to be aware of when that might be happening). In the Shermer accusations, it appears that the women were willingly and knowingly drinking more and more alcohol, and knowingly went to a room with him (assuming he didn’t carry them away).

    You said, “What you know is that she spent some time with Shermer and was not able to provide consent when he raped her.” Remember, that is her side of the story. It may be true and it may not. But either way, she is still responsible for how much she drank.

    You said, “So those of you who are provide all of the “don’t do X”…fuck right off.” Then you are telling this woman who went to PZ to fuck right off, too. Because that is exactly what she is saying. “But I wanted to share this story in case it helps anyone else ward off a similar situation from happening.” What is she saying if not be be careful when drinking in Shermer’s presence? And since Shermer isn’t the only potential rapist out there, what is a woman to do if not to be careful drinking anywhere with people they don’t know really well?

  94. Anonymous13 says

    hjhornbeck “Yep, right there, you just dismissed the actions of rapists, in the same sentence where you claimed not to dismiss the actions of rapists.”

    No, that is not dismissing the act of rape, it is saying that people have a responsibility to protect themselves in potentially dangerous situations, assuming they care about not getting harmed.

  95. Anonymous13 says

    As far as the “rolling dice” issue goes, this isn’t a dice so much as it is a ball with various shades of grey.

  96. dogberry says

    We talk to each other offline as well – there is a short list. If you suspect you maybe be on the shortlist…take a look at yourself.

    We have a right to talk about what happens to us. And we will.

    Please do. I think the back channel of advice about people to be careful around is far more appropriate than publicly shaming those who may or may not be guilty. For your information I have never attended any skeptics conferences, and I doubt I am on any short lists you might be referring to. Given that I am not a member of the religious right, I am still proud to say I have had sexual relations with only one other human being (and no other species!) and we are still happily partnered 37 years later. I’ll accept your condolences for my lack of experience if you think them appropriate, but would you really want to say that?

  97. Anonymous13 says

    dogberry You are right. If you go to a bar to get drunk, ending up as a rape victim shouldn’t have to factor into the decision. But guess what? Bad things happen. You should also be able to park your car in any neighborhood and leave the keys in it and not have it stolen. But cars get stolen anyway. That places an obligation on you to take protective actions, assuming you care about your car not getting stolen. You lock your car, don’t leave the keys in it, and if all else fails, you might want to have insurance. If you want to leave your car unlocked with the keys in it, make sure you are totally familiar with the neighborhood, or keep the car in your own garage. Maybe have a friend help watch your car for you. There are plenty of things one can do that are reasonable. What is crazy is the whining about all these cars getting stolen and people taking no responsibility for leaving the cars unlocked in a bad neighborhood with the keys still in it.

  98. says

    @anonymous13: A lot of the issue is that we, as a society, don’t tell everyone, but especially tall people, they are pussies if they don’t want to leave their car keys in the door in a bad neighborhood then turn around and tell short people and only short people, it’s their fault when their cars get stolen that way.

    The victim blaming here is especially bad because it’s being used to reinforce sexism by creating different rules about what men and women can do, giving the women a choice between maybe getting raped and certainly socially shamed and that a lot of rapists actually argue this with some success, so you are furthering a narrative that is used to excuse rape. Victim blaming isn’t unique to rape, but it’s worse there than any other issue except probably police brutality.

    @dogberry: You seem to be saying that gossip is bad and in life, as in court, we shouldn’t punish people for allegations without overwhelming evidence. I’d point out the accuser isn’t just some anonymous person because she’s (and several corroborators) are being vouched for by a known entity, which changes things, so the evidence is better than you’ve been

    What exactly are you proposing? Should women behave the same around Shermer they would around David Silverman? How are we supposed to put together overwhelming evidence if peopel won’t share what they know?

  99. dogberry says

    Anonymous 13,
    Thanks for telling me I was right, but when you suggest that rape is akin to asking for your car to be stolen I have to ask whether you or I would really want to live in a society that attaches blame to car owners (cars get stolen) or body owners (bodies get raped). Ideally, no one would steal my unlocked car because it’s unlocked. It is still a crime to steal it. Surely, no one would rape someone else because that’s a crime too, no matter where they were, how they were dressed, what their sexual history was, and however drunk they were. Just think, there is no defense in a criminal court for a car thief who says the car they stole was unlocked, so can you make the intellectual leap to the same situation in a rape case? I hope you can. Rape is an act committed by a perpetrator, not one allowed by a victim. One need not be any sort of deranged feminist (I hope to be a rational one) to make that statement.

  100. dogberry says

    @dogberry: You seem to be saying that gossip is bad and in life, as in court, we shouldn’t punish people for allegations without overwhelming evidence. I’d point out the accuser isn’t just some anonymous person because she’s (and several corroborators) are being vouched for by a known entity, which changes things, so the evidence is better than you’ve been

    What exactly are you proposing? Should women behave the same around Shermer they would around David Silverman? How are we supposed to put together overwhelming evidence if peopel won’t share what they know?

    Gossip is bad in life – it has no evidence to back it up, and that is why we call it gossip. In court? I don’t know of any standing gossip could possibly have in court. I make no personal judgements on the fact that the accused is well known, nor do I about the accuser because she is known to some other known entity. Relying on the evidence that most rape accusations are correct, my gut feeling is that she is justified and the accused is guilty. But not one of us knows that for sure, and even though I had never heard the term ‘hyperskeptic’ before this issue, I owe the benefit of the doubt to all concerned. It’s how civilised societies behave. I seem to be understanding that to be qualified as a feminist these days one must automatically accept all accusations of rape as true, and if you don’t you are a ‘rape culture apologist’. Well, I can’t go along with that and no one with a decent brain would do so. Claims must be adjudicated on their merits. Even if we can say that 90% of claims of a certain kind are true, that doesn’t mean we must accept all of such claims as true. I’m not willing to put 10% of a jailed population there on statistical grounds and nor should anyone else who has any regard for justice.

    My point here and in other comment threads is that we should not rush to judgement when we are completely unqualified to make such judgements. To do so, even if Mr Shermer is as guilty as hell, is to open ourselves to suits for defamation and libel. Is that fair? No. Is it right? No. Is it legally correct? I’m afraid it is. I seem to have learnt to think like a lawyer in my job, even if I am not one.

  101. Anonymous13 says

    Ace of Sevens, I’m going to tell people who are at risk how to lower their risk of being harmed. In the same sense, I’m going to be careful around the police because I know the power they wield. I’m not telling women it is their fault when they get raped, but I am telling them that women do get raped and they need to take certain precautions if they want avoid these types of date-rape. Guys get raped, too, and should take relevant precautions. But the fact is, women are at much higher risk of getting raped than men, so they need to take extra care. Is that “sexism”? No. It is neither prejudicial nor discriminatory. None of this is excusing rape, but rather it is a recognition of what does happen and how to help prevent it. And as I see it, this is exactly why PZ released this information (even though I don’t agree how he went about it).

  102. Anonymous13 says

    dogberry, I generally agree with you, and the stolen car analogy doesn’t perfectly fit. As I said in another post, it is more like drinking and then handing someone your car keys, implying (either directly or not) that they can drive it. That isn’t as clear cut as stealing a car, nor is what potentially happened with Shermer as clear cut as a violent rape case. There are a lot of potential shades of grey here and very few details by which we can draw conclusions.

    I’m not sure how to apply the word “blame” in your question. I don’t think it is a woman’s fault for getting raped. I mean, she isn’t walking around saying “rape me.”, but I do think a person assumes some responsibility when there is a known risk and they act negligently. I would call that being stupid, just as I would say it is stupid to leave the keys to your car in the door in a bad neighborhood. What I am calling for is reasonable precautions, and I think that is what PZ wants, too. But you can’t get there if you abdicate all personal responsibility.

  103. A. Noyd says

    dogberry (#105)

    I think the back channel of advice about people to be careful around is far more appropriate than publicly shaming those who may or may not be guilty.

    This isn’t about publicly shaming Shermer. That might be a (very unlikely) consequence, but it’s not the goal. The goal is to make the back channel advice better known. That is, to make the strategy even dogberry approves of more effective.

    Jane Doe wants to do this because spreading advice through the backchannel was not effective enough to save her from getting raped. She saw a chance to make it harder for people like herself miss that advice.

    But dogberry here believes damage to Shermer’s reputation even if he is guilty is worse than rape. That women should not put their own safety above the minor-to-nonexistent harm that might befall Shermer’s ability to do as he pleases within the skeptic community—even though such harm seldom befalls even those men convicted in a court of law on the shiniest of gold-standard evidence. No, that rare harm is, in dogberry’s mind, so much worse than rape that women are inappropriate to value their own wellbeing above Shermer’s reputation.

    And that makes dogberry a disgusting person.

  104. says

    To everyone claiming that the rape victim in these analogies has responsibility not to be in a risk-factor situation, you’re getting your risk factors entirely wrong.

    The risk factor is not “being drunk” here. That is NOT the risk factor for anything except a hangover or drunken stumble injury. The risk factor for getting raped is “being around someone who rapes people”.

    So yes, wanting to warn people who has (allegedly) violated others’ trust is trying to limit the risk factors for a person getting raped. So yes, they’re victim-blaming in a broad (and incorrect) sense, by claiming that the rape victims didn’t know to protect themselves.

    Either you tell women (the predominant rape victims in our society) to be on their guard at all times around all men, or when you have knowledge of specific men who have violated others’ trust, you disseminate that information.

  105. says

    @dogberry

    The list of people coming out as victims indicates to me that the opening up of the discussion in an online forum means fewer victims.

    I am fine with that.

    Congratulations on your long term relationship. Now fuck off with your victim blaming clap trap.
    Next up: Burkas Reconsidered, Because Men are Rapey Rape Machines. An analysis of Drunk Stupid Hoes in Shortskirts Making Men Rape and Shit.

  106. says

    @dogberry

    My point here and in other comment threads is that we should not rush to judgement…

    My point is most of these cases never get to court and when they do the victim is often destroyed by the defense team in the process. So no. I am not going to alter my strategy for not getting raped by relying on a judicial system that rapes a second time – to form my self protective judgements about people in the circles I travel.

    Waiting for the jury to tell me what to think about how to defend myself is unrealistic in a world where 1/4 women experience rape…usually by people they know and trust Undermining undeserved trust in a network is essential to the functioning of any healthy network or community. The legal system has failed to do that for a very long time for oppressed groups.

    So take your legal framework and shove it where the sun does not shine.

    We do not have the same concerns or needs and so our actions will be different.

    That’s life.

  107. says

    @Anon

    …but I am telling them that women do get raped …

    Gee thanks Ein-stain…I never would have understood this.

    Looooooove the use of the passive tense there.
    Shining example of fuckwaddery.

  108. says

    Exchange in Hot Fuzz that’s relevant to the troll use of passive voice here, loosely quoted:

    “There was a traffic accident.” “Don’t call it an accident. Call it a traffic collision.” “Why?” “Because ‘accident’ implies nobody was at fault.”

  109. hjhornbeck says

    Anonymous13 @103:

    No, that is not dismissing the act of rape,

    … wait for it …

    it is saying that people have a responsibility to protect themselves n potentially dangerous situations, assuming they care about not getting harmed.

    Oh I see, in your universe rapists carry around a little signboard saying “Hi, I have an X% chance of raping you tonight.” Or maybe just declare that they are rapists in some other way.

    That’s not how things work in our universe, sadly. Over here, 69% of women know their attacker. They were a boyfriend, spouse, friend or neighbor. A rapist looks exactly like someone you can trust.

    Which means that, yet again, you are blaming the victim. At least in our universe.

    Now, are you planning on rebutting any of my arguments, or are you going to concede them?

  110. hjhornbeck says

    dogberry @93:

    It’s not so complicated. I posted several times in the thread at Pharyngula that the original post and many commenters afterwards were guilty of defamation of character unless the accusations were legally proven. All that got me was accusations of being a “filthy, lying asswad”, an “MRA”, a “rape culture apologist” and a “lying fuckwit”.

    The truth can be painful at times, I know.

    These youngsters seem to have got themselves backed into quite a cul-de-sac, where they are unable to judge something on its merits, but must simply follow the party line or be banned from their favourite forums.

    Being banned from commenting in a forum they like! Is there a worse fate for someone to face?

    My take on the whole thing is that if 90% of rape accusations are accurate (and I am also told I must assume only 6% of rapes are reported, so I’m quite uncertain as to how we know 90% are accurate!) then Mr Shermer is 90% guilty just because an anonymous accuser says so.

    Wow, no wonder you’re having such a tough time here. Let me explain some basic causality to you: an action either happened, or did not happen. Shermer is not 90% guilty of those specific charges, he is either 100% guilty or 0% guilty. We don’t have direct evidence of guilt, and instead must rely on measures which only grant a certain level of confidence. Hence, if we learn of a report of rape against Shermer, and we know that only 5% of reported rapes are “false,” then with no other data we can be 95% certain the report is true. This certainty goes up if we have collaborating witnesses (we have), testimony from others (we do), and evidence for a clear pattern of behavior consistent with that of a rapist (and we do).

    As for how we know it’s accurate, I suggest you read up on the primary source’s methodology.

    Much as I try not to think with my intestines

    I’m using sound Bayesian reasoning. Or can you refute that?

    We have a higher standard of proof for criminal convictions, and to do that we should be sure beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed the crime of rape.

    Are we in a court of law? The only people I see calling for criminal action are the people defending Shermer, and even then only using it as way to dismiss the reports of victims.

    No one at Pharyngula will concede that their comments have consequences in real life, but surely they do.

    Of course they do. If the evidence is correct, then our comments have saved many women from awkward situations and maybe even assault. That’s kinda why many people were commenting in the first place!

    I can’t judge if Mr Shermer is guilty, nor can I judge if his accuser (yes, accuser, and not victim until the case is proven!) is correct in her accusations. It’s not my job, and I’m not qualified to do it, and nor do I have the information or authority to do it. That doesn’t make me a ‘rape culture apologist’ – it simply makes me someone who knows the limits of their assumptions.

    True. But if you do not have enough information to reach a decision, why are you yelling at people who do?

    But mob psychology has got its grip on PZ’s commentariat, and anyone who retains any scintilla of individual thought or opinion must be trashed if they speak up there.

    I’ve read a fair chunk of the comments, and the only people being trashed are those defending those who commit sexual assault. Can you point me to a counter-example?

    If an internet “court” declares him guilty then the same internet court must take responsibility for that finding of guilt if he is actually innocent. [...]
    I am simply attempting to respect the civil rights of Mr Shermer’s accuser and Mr Shermer equally. In order to do this, I have to accord them the same rights (which seems to be an impossibility at Pharyngula) and await the legally adjudicated outcome.

    [looks around for evidence of a courtroom]

    But to condemn on the basis of hearsay?

    The only evidence I have for the existence of Africa is hearsay. Should I stop believing it exists?

  111. hjhornbeck says

    Anonymous13 @96:

    WithinThisMind, 2%? That is definitely from the extremely low end of the spectrum, and 40+ years old to boot.

    Ahem:

    Only a small percentage of cases (2.1 percent) were designated by police as false. Twenty-six percent of the cases involved victims with a psychiatric disability or mental health issue. Charges were more likely to be brought when the rape victim was male (even though the overwhelming majority of complainants were female); had been physically injured; had been medically examined; was not under the influence of alcohol or other drugs at the time of the offense; was subjected to other offenses in the course of the rape; and when the suspect was known to police for previous sexual offenses.

    Study of reported rapes in Victoria 2000-2003: Summary research report. Office of Women’s Policy, Department for Victorian Communities, 2006.

  112. hjhornbeck says

    Also, we have a good explanation for why there is so much variation within false reporting statistics:

    This statistic [that 8% of reported rapes are false] is almost meaningless, as many of the jurisdictions from which the FBI collects data on crime use different definitions of, or criteria for, “unfounded.” That is, a report of rape might be classified as unfounded (rather than as forcible rape) if the alleged victim did not try to fight off the suspect, if the alleged perpetrator did not use physical force or a weapon of some sort, if the alleged victim did not sustain any physical injuries, or if the alleged victim and the accused had a prior sexual relationship. Similarly, a report might be deemed unfounded if there is no physical evidence or too many inconsistencies between the accuser’s statement and what evidence does exist. As such, although some unfounded cases of rape may be false or fabricated, not all unfounded cases are false.

  113. hjhornbeck says

    dogberry @100:

    The reason why I don’t factor it in is that I am male and rape isn’t something I was brought up to fear. If I were female and a potential rape victim I would have to think about that bar and my intoxication very differently, and that really isn’t fair. Don’t you feel that women can choose to get drunk in the same way men can, with just the same consequences – drunk driving etc which everyone should be aware of – but not the special issue of becoming a sexual assault victim?

    So if I’m understanding you correctly, women should expect to be assaulted because women are assaulted more often than men. I have to ask: if black people are murdered more often than Caucasians, does that mean they should alter their behavior to avoid being murdered? Are you arguing that we should ban hoodies, instead of prosecuting murderers, much in the same way you’re arguing women shouldn’t be out in public if they don’t want to get assaulted?

  114. hjhornbeck says

    Anonymous13 @103:

    In the Shermer accusations, it appears that the women were willingly and knowingly drinking more and more alcohol, and knowingly went to a room with him (assuming he didn’t carry them away).

    Silly women, why would they trust a public figure that they viewed as a hero? Everyone knows that when your judgment is impaired by alcohol you have sound judgment, and that no-one can ever lie or deceive, which means those women knew what would happen to them and consented.

    Yet again, you keep blaming the victim.

  115. says

    @124, not ban them, just use every case where someone is murdered in a hoody to lecture people about the dangers of hoodies and how they need to take responsibility for their safety.

  116. hjhornbeck says

    dogberry @106:

    I think the back channel of advice about people to be careful around is far more appropriate than publicly shaming those who may or may not be guilty.

    Unfortunately, these reports demonstrate that a private backchannel isn’t enough. Some women are not getting the message and being harmed by this, while the people harming them are hailed as heroes of the community. Is this how the skeptic community should be? Or are we no better than the religious institutions we decry for sheltering abusers?

  117. hjhornbeck says

    Ace of Sevens @126:

    Oh, you’re right, sorry, I was being a bit hyperbolic there. Black people should be free to own and operate hoodies, but if they fail to use them correctly and wind up being murdered, well… they knew what they were getting into, amirite?

  118. hjhornbeck says

    Anonymous13 @107:

    That places an obligation on you to take protective actions, assuming you care about your car not getting stolen. You lock your car, don’t leave the keys in it, and if all else fails, you might want to have insurance. If you want to leave your car unlocked with the keys in it, make sure you are totally familiar with the neighborhood, or keep the car in your own garage. Maybe have a friend help watch your car for you. There are plenty of things one can do that are reasonable. What is crazy is the whining about all these cars getting stolen and people taking no responsibility for leaving the cars unlocked in a bad neighborhood with the keys still in it.

    So you don’t think theft is a crime, if the victim doesn’t meet your standards? That explains a lot about you, really.

  119. says

    Dogberry:
    Still waiting for you to show evidence for your belief that false rape accusations ruin peoples lives. You asserted that such allegations could ruin Shermer, but you have yet to explain how.

    Asserting it does not make it so.

  120. Anonymous13 says

    Jason Thibeault, alcohol is definitely a risk-factor involved in many date-rape cases (Google it). We are not talking about just the risk of drinking, but the risk of drinking and sleeping with a guy. But you seem to just presume that rape has taken place. I’m not sure it is so black and white. This isn’t a case of about women being drugged or violently dragged into an alley. We are talking about women who were voluntarily drinking and ended up sleeping with a guy. The details in each instance would be necessary to determine if actual cases of date-rape took place. Even then, there is going to be a judgment call. You don’t have those details and neither do I. We also have not heard the other side of the story. I’m not sure why you keep claiming that rape has actually taken place based on the information available. Mind you, I’m not saying it didn’t happen, I’m saying we don’t know and that every instance of a woman drinking and having sex is a case of date-rape. Lastly, in case I have not been clear, yes, women should always be on guard when drinking to excess with strangers. That seems like such common sense I can’t believe I have to keep repeating it.

  121. GrzeTor says

    Is alcohol = position where one could not give consent applicable selectively to sexual encounters, or is it supposed to be universal? If it is supposed to be universal does that invalidate many contract made with Russians? Their culture includes a lot of drinking, it’s well known that business involves drinking alcohol, and deals are often made at a state of intoxication of both parties.

  122. Vicki says

    Anonymous13, Why are you okay with the idea that any woman who drinks is risking being raped, and not with the idea that any man who drinks is risking being accused of rape? By your logic, a man who doesn’t want to risk being known as a rapist should never drink, and never be around people who are drinking. (Are you now going to argue, with no evidence whatsoever, that Shermer thought that he was drinking plain club soda, and that he believed he was pouring only sparkling apple juice for all his female companions?)

  123. Anonymous13 says

    hjhornbeck said: “Only a small percentage of cases (2.1 percent) were designated by police as false”

    Thank you for giving more recent data. The data is also selectively picked and at the low end of the spectrum. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_accusation_of_rape None of that is relevant because the statistical odds that any given woman is right doesn’t tell us if a specific case is rape or not. That can only be determined based upon the facts of the matter.

    You asked, “I have to ask: if black people are murdered more often than Caucasians, does that mean they should alter their behavior to avoid being murdered?”

    Yes, everyone that is concerned about various risk factors should take measures to mitigate them. That applies to men, women, blacks, whites, everyone. If you don’t care about risks then don’t do anything. But what is the point of PZ’s post if not to encourage women to avoid certain risky situations? What is the point of PZ’s post if not to specifically warn women to be careful about drinking to excess in the presence of people you don’t know very well? It seems odd that you are arguing against what PZ (and Jane Doe) seems to be arguing for.

    You said, “Everyone knows that when your judgment is impaired by alcohol you have sound judgment, and that no-one can ever lie or deceive, which means those women knew what would happen to them and consented.”

    Let’s apply the sarcastic principle equally. Was Shermer drinking, too? Maybe his judgment was impaired. Oh well, I guess there is nothing we can do about it since he was drinking. But all sarcasm aside, I would encourage men not to get drunk and sleep with women, too. They may regret it and also end up with 18 years of child support.

    Am I placing any responsibility on the “victim” who drinks and sleeps with someone and regrets it in the morning? Yes, of course, I am. Why? Because it is an avoidable situation and, in this scenario, I don’t think women are innocent beings with no ability for self-control.

    You asked, “So you don’t think theft is a crime, if the victim doesn’t meet your standards?”

    Theft is always a crime. I never said otherwise. What I am saying is that IF one wants to avoid known risky situations then one OUGHT to act accordingly. Does that sound unreasonable to you?

  124. Anonymous13 says

    Vicki, as I said in my last post (before I read yours), men should take precautions, too. And FTR, I didn’t say to “never drink”. I think I have always qualified what I have said. I have typically said something like to not drink to excess around people you don’t know and to the point that you don’t know what you are doing. Does this sound unreasonable to you?

  125. hotshoe, now with more boltcutters says

    The risk factor is not “being drunk” here. That is NOT the risk factor for anything except a hangover or drunken stumble injury. The risk factor for getting raped is “being around someone who rapes people”.

    So yes, wanting to warn people who has (allegedly) violated others’ trust is trying to limit the risk factors for a person getting raped. So yes, they’re victim-blaming in a broad (and incorrect) sense, by claiming that the rape victims didn’t know to protect themselves.

    Either you tell women (the predominant rape victims in our society) to be on their guard at all times around all men, or when you have knowledge of specific men who have violated others’ trust, you disseminate that information.

    Yes, exactly.

    But of course they still want women to drink with them because, after all, they’re one of the good guys, can’t you tell? They still want lively women around them in the clubs; they don’t actually want a world where all women are rigidly sober. That’s not as much fun in the evenings after a convention, is it.

    What they never seem to get is that we have two choices here, like you say:
    Either try to tell women to distrust and avoid all men, regardless of how harmless they appear on the surface, because after all you never know who is secretly a serial rapist.
    Or try to tell women to be extra careful around the specific subgroup of men who have been identified by previous victims as sexual assaulters.

    Which is it, guys?

    Do you prefer that all your after-work and after-convention gettogethers are sex segregated because -women know that if they have two drinks and then someone in your group sexually assaults them – you will write blog posts about how they should have taken responsibility for avoiding the situation. Sure, let’s avoid the situation by having no women drink anywhere in public at all. Do you prefer that?

    Do you prefer being thought of as a potential rapist because – any guy could be – we aren’t allowed to name which ones are more likely than you?

    I know which I prefer.

  126. hotshoe, now with more boltcutters says

    hjhornbeck –

    dogberry @106:

    I think the back channel of advice about people to be careful around is far more appropriate than publicly shaming those who may or may not be guilty.

    Unfortunately, these reports demonstrate that a private backchannel isn’t enough. Some women are not getting the message and being harmed by this, while the people harming them are hailed as heroes of the community. Is this how the skeptic community should be? Or are we no better than the religious institutions we decry for sheltering abusers?

    Same reaction I had when I read that particular tidbit of slime from dogberry.

    Yes, by all means, let’s make sure to shelter known/suspected sexual predators in our atheist conventions from any possible public denunciation.

    Just like the corrupt catholic church.

    Let’s make sure the guilty leaders are never named out loud. If the victims speak among themselves and try to warn potential future victims, well, that’s one thing we’ll tolerate, as long as they’re discrete enough about it. And if the warning doesn’t reach everyone, and there are dozens of future victims who otherwise could have been saved, that must be gods’ will, your personal bad luck, ladies. Too bad.

    But god forbid lowly bloggers should actually have the nerve to try to stop the abuse by giving public testimony about one of our priests popular wealthy white men!

  127. dean says

    It is amazing how many words dogberry, pudendum, and others of that ilk use to pretty up their message of ‘these women weren’t raped but if they were they deserved it for being stupid.’

    What a despicable bunch of trolls.

  128. hotshoe, now with more boltcutters says

    But what is the point of PZ’s post if not to encourage women to avoid certain risky situations? What is the point of PZ’s post if not to specifically warn women to be careful about drinking to excess in the presence of people you don’t know very well? It seems odd that you are arguing against what PZ (and Jane Doe) seems to be arguing for.

    As if repeating the point will magically get through to you, but, one more time:

    The sole point of PZ and Jane Doe’s information is to encourage women to be extra careful around one specific man who has been identified as a previous (and likely repeated) sexual assaulter: Michael Shermer.

    There is no generalized lesson to be learned here. There is no reason for women to avoid being drunk – even to excess – around men who choose not to rape. And truly, the evidence is that the vast majority of men choose not to rape. When you stupidly imply that all men really want to be rapists if they see an opportunity, and no woman can trust to be around a man in normal society, then you are being absurdly sexist towards males.

    It of course has nothing to do with “people you don’t know very well”. You just fabricated that for no reason. Most women know their rapists well enough; what they don’t know in advance is that he is one of the small percent of men who manipulate their surroundings and their potential victim to give him a chance to rape with plausible deniability.

    Why didn’t someone give her the information she could have used to avoid being his victim? Why didn’t someone warn her – not about drinking in general – not about men in general – not about drinking with men “you don’t know very well” in general? No, why didn’t someone warn her about him specifically?

    Because of you. Because of idiots like you who can’t seem to get the point no matter how often and how clearly it’s repeated. Because people like you provide cover to rapists, by confusing our point that women need to be warned about specific offenders with your self-important desire to warn about men/drinking in general. We got it. No thanks to you.

  129. Jackie: The COLOSSAL TOWERING VAGINA! says

    hotshoe,
    They still want women to drink with them.
    They also believe:
    drunk = close enough to consent.
    and
    Women = liars.

    If all these things are true, it occurs to me that they aren’t hanging out with the ladies at bars because they enjoy the company of women in a social atmosphere.

  130. says

    I posted several times in the thread at Pharyngula that the original post and many commenters afterwards were guilty of defamation of character unless the accusations were legally proven.

    You’re wrong. First off, you’re wrong about “legally proven” and secondly you’re wrong about “guilty of defamation of character” – and you’re wrong in ways that indicate that you probably don’t know what you’re talking about.

    That’s probably why you didn’t get a lot of applause for your postings, sweetpea.

  131. darkwater says

    Anonymous13, I’m having difficulty parsing just how much drinking is acceptable and how much that’s dependent on one’s gender and orientation. Yep, I’m that straight dude who got raped by another straight dude. So, just for my own morbid curiosity, is my rape legitimate-rape or not?

    (tw for, duh, rape) (slightly edited from what originally appeared in PZ’s thread over a course of a few comments)

    In my own case, the dude who raped me did keep me supplied with beers and Jack & Cokes; it was a dorm/frat party back in the day and the lines for drinks tended to be long – so if you were with your friends (or “friends,” I guess) of course you got ones for them every time, even if you outweighed them 2:1. So, I guess that’s the first thing I’m responsible for. That night wasn’t that unusual, compared to what had happened previously; the group of us had a good time and headed back to our dorm, and the party being the typical overcrowded event we were sweating like pigs and maybe some of us took showers before turning in? And maybe if we did (I honestly can’t remember) my attacker might have done his every-so-often thing of asking how I kept my “cheesedick” clean and I might have done my every-so-often response of grinning and bearing it and saying “I rinse it off for a few seconds.” I guess that’s the second thing I’m responsible for (maybe). What I do remember is waking up as I was shooting off in his mouth and immediately thinking how it was my fault for 1) having been drunk earlier that evening, 2) having put up with his “cheesedick” bullshit when it was so apparent (now) what he was doing, 3) being uncircumcised to begin with, 4) being in my room the weekend that my roommate was out, 5) forgetting to lock my room’s door, 6) sleeping bareass naked like I had every night since I was eleven, 7) not waking up before I was shooting off into his mouth, and 8) not doing anything as he sucked and chewed on my dick, got up, got himself off, said that he was helping me make sure my dick was clean, pulled up his shorts, and let himself out. So I guess those are things three through eleven that I’m responsible for.

    (in his defense (ha!) he did attempt to apologize by giving me a fifth of pretty good scotch. Whether it was a sincere but hamfisted apology, a not-subtle sign of how he viewed his power given that he was only 18 at the time, or a seriously twisted comment on how he viewed how alcohol contributed to that evening, I’ll never know.)

    And no, I never went to the authorities, either the police or the athletic department. His word versus mine, relative power of his team versus my team; I guess that’s thing twelve I’m responsible for.

  132. Anonymous13 says

    hotshoe, now with more boltcutters, While PZ specifically was talking about one individual, A+ has been ringing the bell for quite some time now that there are a lot of guys taking advantage of women. Am I wrong about this? And look at PZ’s own words in his grenade post: ” It’s a direct report of unethical behavior by a big name in the skeptical community (yeah, like that hasn’t been happening a lot lately)…” Is Shermer the only supposed problem? The issue is that unless you know someone fairly really well, you don’t know what they are going to do. But let’s take what you said to its needed end point. Most women don’t know who will or will not rape them, even if they know the person. What is that if not a warning to be careful around ALL men while you are drinking to excess? A warning about being around Shermer would only help in this one case. What are women going to do around the rest of the men that are potential rapists? Just drink to excess and hope the odds are on their side?

    You ask why someone didn’t do something to warn her about Shermer? The same question can be asked as to why she, and the others, waited so long to come forward? Didn’t THEY care about what Shermer might do to other women? As I said many posts ago, all of these women needed to go to the police after each event so there would be a record of Shermer’s supposed wrong-doings. Even if the police did nothing, the women could rightfully say they tried and here is the evidence. Then the heat could be turned up on the police for not acting (assuming they wouldn’t have acted). And *Now*, they would have something substantial to fall back on. My guess is that if Shermer is guilty of rape, and even if only a couple of these women did the right thing and went to the police, that there wouldn’t be six women today claiming they were taken advantage of. This is just another place where these women failed to take the responsible action.

  133. Anonymous13 says

    Jackie, for what it’s worth, I hate being around both drunk women and drunk men. And I hate being drunk myself. My guess is that the issue with complaining about women being drunk and out of control also hits home with some of the men. It is hard to be critical of the women in this instance without also shining the light on one’s own out of control behavior.

  134. hotshoe, now with more boltcutters says

    You ask why someone didn’t do something to warn her about Shermer? The same question can be asked as to why she, and the others, waited so long to come forward? Didn’t THEY care about what Shermer might do to other women? As I said many posts ago, all of these women needed to go to the police after each event so there would be a record of Shermer’s supposed wrong-doings. Even if the police did nothing, the women could rightfully say they tried and here is the evidence. Then the heat could be turned up on the police for not acting (assuming they wouldn’t have acted). And *Now*, they would have something substantial to fall back on. My guess is that if Shermer is guilty of rape, and even if only a couple of these women did the right thing and went to the police, that there wouldn’t be six women today claiming they were taken advantage of. This is just another place where these women failed to take the responsible action.

    Now you’re just being a filthy victim-blaming bastard.

    You have zero right to tell a victim what they should do, or to try to force them to go to the police before you’ll condescend to take their story seriously.

    Why you’re stupid to reflexively say “she should have gone to the cops”, from Caine:

    None of you know the details, and unless you have been raped and reported to law enforcement, you have absolutely no fucking idea at all of what that is like.

    I do know what that is like, and the experience is often brutal. It tends to be exceptionally brutal in cases where alcohol was used to facilitate the assault. I know it’s often a reflex, to say “go to the cops!”, but seriously, it’s not that simple. Don’t turn this thread into yet another “I know better, she should have…” one. That’s not only not helping, it’s damaging.

    Why you’re stupid to pretend the police can be counted on to take appropriate action, from mouthyb

    *TRIGGER WARNING*

    You know what I love? People who think that the police listen to, care about or will even take the complaints of rape victims on a regular basis.

    Hey, here’s a funny little anecdote: I have a friend who was trying on clothing in a local boutique. A man pushed his way into the little curtained area she was in and tried to assault her (apparently, the person on duty to watch the dressing rooms was busy.) When she screamed and fought him off, the store kicked her out for being disruptive to the other shoppers. When she finally made it home, the first officer she got when she called refused to take the complaint because, get this, she was ‘unclothed in a public place (the dressing room, her underwear as she tried on a dress).’ The second finally took the complaint, and when they took her to the local examiner unit, the male nurse asked her out on a date during the exam.

    That was, as she put it, the last time she’ll ever say anything.

    In my case, I was told I inspire that sort of behavior because I “look dirty” and that I obviously misunderstood being choked and assaulted. Of course, it was a church, so feel free to fire up your ‘well that’s just religious people’. I can always counter with what it was like to report my advisor and how hard my university tried to make that disappear (including moving my office next to the person I reported after I filed and making us serve on the same panel together for a public event.)

    I know more than ten women who have been raped or sexually assaulted, myself included, who either reported it and where brushed off/ignored or decided not to report because they know women who have reported and what happened to them.

    But sure, absolutely, police officers care and organizations are always committed to the safety of women.

    How victims end up re-victimized, even by sympathetic police trying to do a decent job:

    When Tom Tremblay started working for the police department of Burlington, Vt., 30 years ago, he discovered that many of his fellow cops rarely believed a rape victim. This was true time after time, in dozens of cases. Tremblay could see why they were doubtful once he started interviewing the victims himself. The victims, most of them women, often had trouble recalling an attack or couldn’t give a chronological account of it. Some expressed no emotion. Others smiled or laughed as they described being assaulted. “Unlike any other crime I responded to in my career, there was always this thought that a rape report was a false report,” says Tremblay, who was an investigator in Burlington’s sex crimes unit. “I was always bothered by the fact there was this shroud of doubt.”
    Tremblay felt sex assault victims were telling the truth, and data supports his instincts: Only an estimated 2 to 8 percent of rape accusations are false, according to a survey of the literature published by the National Center for the Prosecution of Violence Against Women. Tremblay also knew the victims felt as if they were being treated like suspects, and it affected the choices they made. Surveyed about why they didn’t want to pursue a report, most victims said they worried that no one would believe them.
    This is rape culture in action. It puts the burden of proving innocence on the victim, and from Steubenville, Ohio, to Notre Dame and beyond, we’ve seen it poison cases and destroy lives. But science is telling us that our suspicions of victims, the ones that seem like common sense, are flat-out baseless.

    People who are raped know this. They know this before they decide to report to the authorities, and they take into consideration whether they are going to be strong enough to withstand the slut-shaming, the disbelief, and the outright refusal to even investigate the crime.

    It’s immoral for you to expect or ask a victim to face all that simply so that you can smugly guess that if a couple of women had gone to the police earlier, there wouldn’t have been any more victims. Because what, because Shermer would have actually been investigated? What chance? Arrested? What chance? Tried? What chance? Given any jail time even if found guilty? What chance?

    You need to provide evidence that the chance of successful prosecution and Shermer getting jail time would be worth the risk to a woman’s mental health and healing process if she tried to tell the cops.

    IF you can’t provide that evidence, you need to shut your goddamn yap.

  135. Anonymous13 says

    darkwater, so someone entered your room and you were accosted while you were passed out? That sounds pretty cut and dry like rape to me. Have I defended anything like that in any of my posts?

  136. darkwater says

    Anonymous13, first off, nice shift from the active to passive voice midway through your first sentence. I’m not sure I or any other commenter have accused you of defending particular rapes or rape techniques. What I did see above was you seeming to state that if alcohol was involved in an alleged assault it somehow worked as a mitigating factor. I’ve also seen you insist that victims go to the police, no matter what. In my rape, alcohol was involved. I also didn’t go to the police or any sort of university authority; even as I was trying to make sense of what happened, I knew darn well that I wasn’t going to do that.

    So I do have to say I’m somewhat surprised and guardedly optimistic by your response, especially considering my dealings with some of the trolls on PZ’s site. I do have to ask, why no comment on my drinking? Why no comment on why I didn’t report?

  137. says

    The real mystery question requiring an answer is why Jason Thibeault is allowing the rape apologists continuing to post on the thread so multifariously when they have well and truly past the point of legitimate devil’s advocacy, and are merely throwing up chaff to maximise the ‘grey areas’ of doubt that may reduce the aspect of obvious criminality which they are attempting to give legitimacy to. Almost every subsequent post these anonymous posters make is weighing the Bayesian evidence towards an actual sexual predator rather than away from a position consistent with an ethical or responsible devil’s advocate (see what Miri over at Brute Reason had to say about that).

  138. A Wild Anonymouse Appears says

    Jason, do you still believe in the “friend-zone”? While reading this post I clicked through the link about your ex falsely accusing you of rape and this description stood out to me:

    I was an excellent ear for them to pour all their boyfriend concerns on — I recall vividly having a huge crush on someone who had friend-zoned me for pretty well our entire friendship, and my heart breaking repeatedly as she explained all the reasons why she was upset with her boyfriend but never coming to the conclusion that he was poison for her.

    I guess what I’m trying to find out is if you still agree with the way you framed the above situation. I ask because the post in question was written a long time ago and I know that a person’s perspective can change/grow over the years. I’m an on-and-off lurker of your blog and, while it might not seem like a big deal to you, knowing where you stand on this issue is important to me as a reader. Any response/insight you could give me would be much appreciated.

  139. says

    I don’t, Anonymouse. And in fact I believe I didn’t much believe in it at the time of writing that post, either. I don’t know if I intended it as a bitter joke at my own expense, or as a convenient shorthand for being considered only a friend despite, at least at the time, thinking I was making my desire to turn it into a real relationship quite plain.

    I, of course, am almost twenty years removed from that time though. Memory is funny.

    Xanthe: I absolutely agree that the apologetics in here is thick. And I absolutely believe the motivation behind such apologetics about alcohol is just playing a game of Zeno’s Paradox with the definition of rape to try to get their own indiscretions into the “not-rape” side of the equation.

  140. Anonymous13 says

    darkwater, you have provided details that allow for at least some assessment of the situation. Had Shermer entered someone’s room without their permission and raped them while they were asleep then I would equally condemn his actions. FTR, yes, I see your drinking as being a problem. Personally, I don’t get drunk (I don’t even drink alcohol anymore) because I like to be in control of my actions and I want to be thinking as clearly as I can at all times. That is even more important to me now that I have children that I am responsible for. In my opinion, you should have reported it to the police, as embarrassing as that might be.

  141. Anonymous13 says

    Xanthë, grey areas do exist, as much as people try to minimize them. Whether or not there was any criminal activity depends upon the facts of the matter, of which no one here seems to have access. Of course, that doesn’t stop people from drawing clear conclusions anyway.

  142. Anonymous13 says

    Jason, “trying to get their own indiscretions into the “not-rape” side of the equation”? Heh, nice try. I was one of the rare people who didn’t even have sex until I got married. (I was one of those rare True Christians™ at the time.) I have only had sex with one woman and I hate it when she drinks too much.

  143. hotshoe, now with more boltcutters says

    Xanthë, grey areas do exist, as much as people try to minimize them. Whether or not there was any criminal activity depends upon the facts of the matter, of which no one here seems to have access. Of course, that doesn’t stop people from drawing clear conclusions anyway.

    Don’t be more stupid than you can help. Having sex with a person who is too drunk to consent ( don’t have to be passed out or too drunk to talk, they just have to be too drunk to consent – and if you don’t understand what that means, think of it as about the same level as too drunk to drive, or too drunk to sign a contract) is ILLEGAL and it’s defined in criminal statutes as RAPE. It’s NOT A GREY AREA. It doesn’t depend on how the person got too drunk to consent; it doesn’t depend on whether the person voluntarily got sloshed or was manipulated into getting drunk by some guy playing “party games” or was drugged with alcohol by some guy premeditatedly pouring straight shots into his victim’s mixed drink without her knowledge. The victim has no legal responsibility to avoid having drinks with some man, even some man (s)he doesn’t know at all, in order to claim (s)he is innocent of the “crime” of being raped.There aren’t any grey areas at all as to raping a drunken person, except in your ignorance.
    It’s certainly a good idea for you to avoid ever ever drinking in public, since you know so little, and could so easily find yourself raping someone while telling yourself you were still in the “grey area” where you think it would be okay.

    The other half of your often repeated and just-as-often refuted assholery is your idea that we care whether Shermer’s behavior was in fact “criminal”. Yes, it was criminal if he had sex with a drunk woman, no matter what. But criminal is actually beside the point, since it never was and never is going to be a criminal case (for lots of reasons). The point is – for the last time – to warn other women of his known skeevy degrading and dangerous (possibly criminal) behavior towards women at conventions. Women don’t want to have to go through that unpleasant kind of experience with a man who appears to be an intellectual hero, charming, a star speaker … even if they escape actual rape in the end. That’s all we care about. That’s all we’re trying to do: to get the warning out publicly about a known sexual harasser who has made many different women uncomfortable (and almost certainly, some raped) using the same predatory tactics which have worked for him over many years now. Time to stop, Shermer. Game over.

    Time to stop defending him, anonymousasshole.

  144. says

    Next comments talking about how there are grey areas where rape is an expected consequence of alcohol gets thrown out on their ear. No more Zeno’s Paradoxes.

    And no rules-lawyering about that. Stop saying anyone’s level of inebriation played any role in whether or not they got raped. It’s as irrelevent as what colour the car was across the street when it happened.

    Capisce?

  145. Anonymous13 says

    hotshoe, how are “people going to warn” all women who might be raped by Shermer? Well, I can think of one way. Report him to the police. That way there is an official record of the abuse and it lends credibility to the accusation. Whether or not women decide to do that is up to them, but it weakens the “no one warned me” defense considerably if they don’t. And of course they can wait years and then come forward anonymously and everyone can debate all the non-facts, but that doesn’t seem to address the confounding factors that led up to what happened or how Shermer got away with rape for so long (assuming he is even guilty).

    You say women don’t want to go to the police where drinking was involved? I can understand that, given this scenario, for the reasons I have already discussed. And notice I said that they should go to the police EVEN IF THE POLICE DO NOTHING. Why? Because a report is filed and a history of complaints is being built. You are right that I don’t understand what is so brutal about going to the police. Are the police going to beat the woman up and jail her? (This isn’t Saudi Arabia, is it?) Yes, she will have to share the details of what happened. That is a given. But what is the alternative? Let a rapist continue to rape without anyone knowing what is going on? Honestly, I fail to see how women are getting excused from the slightest bit of responsibility for even the smallest part of what happens in this scenario or what they do afterwards. I’ll repeat what I said earlier. Risks exist and not taking reasonable precautions is stupid.

    Here’s what I take from the discussion so far: Women have zero obligation to drink responsibly and don’t have to assume any responsibility when they drink and go to bed with a guy. Also, they are free to do nothing if they feel they were raped and then years later they can anonymously claim anything they want and not provide a shred of evidence. I can assure you that I won’t be teaching my daughter to behave so recklessly or in such a negligent manner.

    I’m not that deeply involved in the free thought community, but if this is indicative of the attitude there, it is no wonder men are literally getting away with rape. Playing the blame game at every turn isn’t going to fix the problem. BTW, the burden of proof is always on the prosecution. This principle doesn’t just apply women who were sexually assaulted. It isn’t only a matter of victim blaming, it is a matter of only the victim can come forward and press charges. Of course, if you voluntarily drink and go to a room with a guy you just met, you are going to have a more difficult time making your case.

    Lastly, I believe I have been fairly civil in the discussion, but you have turned rather rude. Of course, for all I know you have been drinking so you can’t possibly be held responsible for your actions. ::shrug::

  146. Anonymous13 says

    Jason, well, I wrote that before I saw your last post. You don’t have to kick me out. I consider myself a guest here and will voluntarily leave if you ask me to.

  147. John Phillips, FCD says

    Anonomouse13, do you actually know anybody who has been raped and who has gone through the legal system in part or all the way. If you had you wouldn’t be spouting such crap. For over the years I have known quite a few women and a couple of men who have been raped, some are personal acquaintances and some are from when I was a volunteer in homeless shelters. The vast majority of them who went to the police all said that the questioning, though interrogation would be more accurate, was often as bad or even worse than the original rape. If they then went to court, being questioned and their character routinely impugned by the defense was again as bad or worse than the rape. Even more so in those cases where there was no conviction and the further attacks that often brought about on their character.

    This by the way is in the UK were nowadays we are supposed to have a better way of handling rape victims with explicit guidelines about how tape victims should handled. In those police areas were this has been done with the concomitant training of police officers handling any type of sexual crime, then both the victims cope better and conviction rates go up. Even then, our legal system, including both judges and prosecutors have a long way to go, e.g. a recent case were a 13 year old was branded as a sexual predator by the prosecutor and the judge and the paedophile got away with a suspended sentence, and that isn’t an isolated incident.

    So tell me, when women hear and see what the prosecution and the judge said about the victim who was still a child what incentive is there for them to go to the authorities.

  148. hotshoe, now with more boltcutters says

    hotshoe, how are “people going to warn” all women who might be raped by Shermer?

    Damn, are you deaf, and blind as well? We’re doing it right now. Right here. We’re publicly naming Shermer as a known danger to woman, using a social medium with hundreds of thousands of ears and eyes. Word is spreading now. Of course there’s no way to warn ALL the women – hell, there’s no way to even guarantee that everyone in the country knows the name of the president, much less the names of which atheist leaders are sexual abusers. But atheism/skepticism is a quite literate and connected community; now that the name is published in this atheist-skeptic community, we’ve done what we can reasonably do.

    Well, I can think of one way. Report him to the police. That way there is an official record of the abuse and it lends credibility to the accusation.

    No. Just no. Stop being so stubbornly stupid. What do you think happens when you go to the police to report a crime? Honestly, do you think they warn everyone in town about the person you say did it? Really? Bullshit. Not on your life. The person’s name goes in some report in some file somewhere that no one else will ever hear. No one will be warned. No one else in your community will know who to watch out for unless YOU tell them.

    Whether or not women decide to do that is up to them,

    Yes of course it’s up to them, and since they will get absolutely nothing but grief from it, they should decide not. Disbelieved, interrogated as if the victim were actually the criminal, with little or no investigation of the criminal suspect, no arrest made … if an arrest is made, in the majority of cases charges are dropped before trial … if the case by some miracle manages to get as far as going to trial, there’s only a 3percent chance that the convicted rapist will do even one single day in prison. The average rape victim would be a total fool to involve the authorities with those chances of outcome.

    but it weakens the “no one warned me” defense considerably if they don’t.

    only to dishonest scum like you who must pretend there’s magic in going to the cops, since going to the cops is never an avenue for warning any other women in reality

    And of course they can wait years and then come forward anonymously and everyone can debate all the non-facts,

    only to dishonest scum like you who must pretend a woman’s testimony is not a fact, not real evidence, because, well it’s a real important real man we’re talking about here. Because who cares what the woman says about her own experience – that doesn’t count!

    but that doesn’t seem to address the confounding factors that led up to what happened or how Shermer got away with rape for so long (assuming he is even guilty).

    Yawn. He gets away with it the same way every other serial sexual abuser got away with it for so long: because everyone like you refused to listen to the women! Stop that right now. Start behaving like a decent trustworthy human being and start listening.

  149. says

    JT,

    In an effort to gain a better idea of where you’re coming from, I wonder if you would help me out by giving me your (brief) assessment of the following hypothetical (but realistic) scenarios.

    1. Woman goes to a party at her friend’s house and has 4 drinks in the first 2 hours. Meets a guy she likes. They share a few drinks over the next couple hours. She’s got a good buzz going but certainly has the capacity to resist if accosted. She asks her friend if she can use a bedroom, and takes the guy upstairs and has sex with him. Again, she has a good buzz going. She wakes up the next morning and the guy is gone, but she remembers the whole thing fondly.

    2. Next scenario: Same as #1, only this time she wakes up the next morning and thinks to herself, “Man, if I hadn’t had that much to drink, I would’ve probably gone to second base… but that would’ve been about it. Oh well, guess I need to learn my limits!” She reproaches herself mildly and hopes she doesn’t run into that guy again.

    3. Same scenario as #2, with one huge difference – she wakes up and thinks “Holy shit! I can’t believe I did that! I never would have gone all the way if I hadn’t been drinking. I was way too drunk to consent… I can’t believe I let myself get taken advantage of that way!” She leaves the next morning fully convinced that she had been taken advantage of in her weakened state.

    I’d be curious to know what your view of the moral status of the male in each of these scenarios is. Is it different for each scenario? Is it the same? How would they be different?

    I would also be curious to know what your view of the moral status of the woman is in each scenario.

    Note: These questions are not intended to refer to the Shermer accusation. I realize that no one here can speak to what did or did not happen with that, and I find it useless to speculate. We only know that we’ve heard what we’ve heard.

    I ask these questions to get a better understanding of where you (Thebeault) are coming from where the issues of alcohol, sex, men, and women meet. (I will not presume you speak for anyone but yourself).

  150. says

    Is this how the skeptic community should be? Or are we no better than the religious institutions we decry for sheltering abusers?

    – hjhornbeck

    And BOOM.

    drops the mic

    – signed just another world weary cultural Catholic Victim of the Vatican

  151. B-Lar says

    Kacyray,

    Do you realises that “is it rape if” and pondering the various entirely subjective and arbitrary responses to outcomes is what trolls commonly do to avoid considering the impact on the victim?

    In your scenario, what was the guy doing? Was he thinking, “Hey, this chick is drunk, and therefore easy”? Is he the kind of guy who knows that girls who would not normally sleep with him are more likely to sleep with him when he is drunk? Why have you left the guy out of your scenarios?

    Why are you focusing on the raped and not the raper? Are you aware that a tango is danced by two?

    I learned (during my teenage years) that girls who are interested when drunk have no interest in me the next day. If I had bedded one, then there is a good chance she might have had regret. Knowing this, I refrain from hooking up unless it has been at least three drinking sessions with friendly hands on both sides. Incredibly, I have never been accused of rape, and have instead been complimented on being a nice considerate guy.

    Even more incredibly, I still get laid! And no one gets hurt! Shocking!

  152. says

    kacyray

    all kinds of people (babies, men, grannies, pro-sex workers, teens, pregnant women, sober, not sober)
    are raped by rapists.

    why do people like you focus so heavily on those cases where alcohol is involved…as if that were the vast amount of cases?

  153. says

    hjhornbeck # 67

    Have you considered the possibility of trickery? That Shermer may have used a combination of tactics to slowly reduce people’s ability to resist? There are more than two choices here, yet you carefully ignore all others:….

    No wonder you’re having difficulty understanding, you’ve artificially limited the choices to exclude the most reasonable scenarios.

    I didn’t mean to. I tried listing out what I thought were the most realistic scenarios, but by all means, if you think that trickery is a more realistic one, go ahead and list it and we’ll talk about it. No need to presume that I did it on purpose. I’m not out to defend Shermer’s honor and I don’t pretend to know what really happened there.

    But keep this in mind, if you believe that what you’ve said – that the most realistic option is that “Shermer may have used a combination of tactics to slowly reduce people’s ability to resist” – then it would be nice to know what you think those tactics are. I’ve been around a while, but I’m personally aware of no effective way to slowly reduce people’s ability to resist (other than my obvious charm!). Not unless you’re suggesting roofies or GHB or something like that – but remember, PZ did NOT say drugs. He specifically said it involved alcohol.

    My own personal experience is that women decide how much they want to drink, and that’s how much they drink. Just like men do. So… what tactics or combination of tactics are you aware of by which someone can slowly reduce someone’s ability (against their will) to resist using just alcohol?

    Jello shots? Beer pong? Do you somehow trick them into drinking when they don’t realize they’re drinking? How exactly does this work? How do you force someone else into a position where they are unable to consent using only alcohol? I’m not saying it can’t be done… I’m just wondering how!

  154. John Phillips, FCD says

    kacyray, jaqing off. Read the account of third woman added to the end of PZs grenade post, and while that one worked out OK thanks to a friend, you can see how a powerful, if only in his niche, and authoritative person can coerce someone and how he works his ‘pitch’.

  155. says

    @162 –

    Do you realises that “is it rape if” and pondering the various entirely subjective and arbitrary responses to outcomes is what trolls commonly do to avoid considering the impact on the victim?

    That isn’t what I’m doing. I’m trying to get a more firm cognitive grasp on what the blogger’s position is. There’s not a lot of use in engaging someone in a discussion before taking the time to fully understand their position, is there?

    In your scenario, what was the guy doing? Was he thinking, “Hey, this chick is drunk, and therefore easy”? Is he the kind of guy who knows that girls who would not normally sleep with him are more likely to sleep with him when he is drunk? Why have you left the guy out of your scenarios?

    In my scenario, he’s just a guy who met a great girl at a party and accepted her invitation upstairs. A guy no different than myself or most of the folks here, I guess.

    Why are you focusing on the raped and not the raper? Are you aware that a tango is danced by two?

    Are you reading a rape scene into my scenarios? I’m puzzled by this question, but I will tell you that questioning whether someone was victimized is not the same as focusing on the criminal versus the victim. For one must establish there there was, in fact, a victim. Only then can one choose where to put one’s focus.

    I learned (during my teenage years) that girls who are interested when drunk have no interest in me the next day. If I had bedded one, then there is a good chance she might have had regret. Knowing this, I refrain from hooking up unless it has been at least three drinking sessions with friendly hands on both sides. Incredibly, I have never been accused of rape, and have instead been complimented on being a nice considerate guy.

    Good on you. Lots of guys don’t learn that lesson. It’ s good that you’ve managed to remain above reproach all these years. I’ve never been accused either, by the way, and I’ve been far less careful than you.

    Even more incredibly, I still get laid! And no one gets hurt! Shocking!

    Indeed. :)

  156. B-Lar says

    Kacyray,

    I am reading a rape scene into your scenario, because this is a thread about rape and sexual assault. Are you on topic?

    Questioning whether or not someone has been victimised inherently minimises what the “victim’s” feelings on the matter are. If someone had sex with someone else who didn’t want to, then there is a victim. You don’t get to question that.

    You put all this weight on the girl to asses her morality and responsibility, but there is no call for the guy to do the same. Why would you do that? We get lots of information about the girl in these hypothetical situations but how about the guy? Was he pushy or was he relaxed? Is he a slightly famous individual? Was he filling her drinks faster than he was filling his own? was he isolating her from her friends? would one of the other girls at the party have warned her about this guys creepy behaviour at a previous party, but didn’t because he would have branded her a lying bitch? These are all points actually relevant to the topic.

    Anyhow, that’s not the point of this thread. Remember, we are not talking about casual hook-ups here. we are talking about how women are running out of avenues to make themselves be heard when making these complaints (especially about a big name individual). We are talking about large organisations actively sheltering these individuals who have been accused of abuse leaving other women to be abused. We are talking about the relative trustworthiness of anonymous reporting.

    When you wade in with “but what about these hypothetical situations?” you are derailing the conversation. It troubles me that you require these clarifications of morality in order to engage with these points. Why do you need them?

  157. says

    In my scenario, he’s just a guy who met a great girl at a party and accepted her invitation upstairs. A guy no different than myself or most of the folks here, I guess.

    In other words, in your scenario he’s blameless no matter what anyone says about his actual behavior. And it’s the “girl’s” fault for being such a great girl to meet, and for inviting him “upstairs.” Yep, typical victim-blaming.

  158. Steve Williamson says

    Whilst in the past we may not have seen eye to eye on certain matters, I completely agree with your post here Jason.
    Without the facts being in my grasp I am not going to make any supposition as to the allegations or their truthfulness, as that would be very foolish.
    Suffice to say I do hope justice is done where it is due.

  159. laurie says

    I’m very disappointed. Shermer’s books were a gateway to skepticism for me and finding out that he’s such a creepy predator considerably reduces any enjoyment I got from them, even years after reading. I feel bad for his victims, and hope the warning will help other women avoid him. In a good world, this will also reduce his demand as a speaker and further reduce his chances to be a predator, and in a better one he would realize what an asshole he’s been, apologize and try to make amends in some way (not going to happen, but hey, let’s throw that out there). The vague “skeptic speaker who is a creep” really isn’t much of a warning, and pretty useless for anyone who isn’t privy to back channel talk.

  160. says

    I’m trying to get a more firm cognitive grasp on what the blogger’s position is.

    Um…he explained his position in a lot of detail (more than I thought necessary, but that’s just me). If you still can’t get your head around it, that probably means you’re just too ignorant to participate in this conversation.

    But keep this in mind, if you believe that what you’ve said – that the most realistic option is that “Shermer may have used a combination of tactics to slowly reduce people’s ability to resist” – then it would be nice to know what you think those tactics are.

    We’ve been explicitly discussing said tactics, and you still don’t know what they are? Did you actually read ANY of this thread or any of the numerous OPs dealing with this incident? Or do you just make a habit of looking for posts about topics like this, and barging in to grind the same old axe regardless of what anyone else says?

    I’ve been around a while, but I’m personally aware of no effective way to slowly reduce people’s ability to resist … but remember, PZ did NOT say drugs. He specifically said it involved alcohol.

    First, for someone who brags of having “been around awhile,” you’re pretty amazingly ignorant of things I was at least aware of back when I was 15. And second, yes, PZ mentioned alcohol. Alcohol is a drug, remember?

    My own personal experience is that women decide how much they want to drink, and that’s how much they drink.

    Yes, they decide based on their assessment of how safe it is to drink and let down their guard in this or that particular venue. And in this case, this particular woman had reason to believe she was in a safe place to get a bit tipsy — and her trust was betrayed. Yes, she made a choice, but the choice was based on information that turned out to be false. It’s not her fault for drinking, it’s Shermer’s fault for betraying her trust. Why is this so hard for someone who’d allegedly “been around awhile” to understand?

  161. says

    I don’t drink, so maybe I’m off-base on this, but it seems like it’d be really hard to keep track of how much you’ve had to drink if someone’s continually refilling your glass, especially if they do it before you’ve finished it off. Seems like it’s probably a lot easier to choose how much you’re going to drink if you have to order a new one each time you finish.

  162. hjhornbeck says

    Anonymous13 @134:

    Thank you for giving more recent data. The data is also selectively picked and at the low end of the spectrum.

    Let’s see if I got this straight. You:

    1. Ignored my explanation for why the rates exhibit so much variation, then
    2. Linked to a webpage which shows reporting rates exhibit variation, which
    3. Includes the same explanation I gave, plus several more.

    Given your history of ignoring my arguments, I can’t say I’m surprised you’ve branched out into misunderstanding.

    False reports must be low. Why? Because in private surveys such as the GSS, we consistently find far more unreported sexual assaults than reported ones. There is no motivation for false reporting in those surveys, as the accused will never hear about the accusations, let alone be punished. What’s the most likely scenario?

    1. Legitimate rapes are rarely reported, because the victim does not want to seek justice.
    2. Legitimate rapes are rarely reported, because they are difficult to prosecute, bring shame to the accusing person, are frequently dismissed by police, will lead to retaliation, or some combination of those four.

    In scenario 1, you’d expect to find a consistent of false reporting rate, because the factors which determine it are simple and depend only on the victims. In scenario 2, you’d expect to find a wide range of variation in the false reporting rate, as the factors are complex and depend far more on the attitudes of people other than the victim.

    So which scenario do you think is true, given the data?

  163. says

    A lot of people seem to interpret stories like “Shermer got me drunk and raped me” as quite possibly meaning “Shermer and I were having drinks together and I begged for sex until he reluctantly obliged, but it doesn’t count because my BAC was .09%.”

    Nothing in PZ’s account of the story suggests that she did consent at all. Interpreting it as meaning that it was basically normal, consensual sex, but her reaction time were a we bit below what would be needed to drive a car safely is disingenuous. He and his source both described it as rape. What’s the point of trying to imagine something that technically fits the description of what happened (which he said was intentionally vague to hide his source’s identity)?

  164. Anonymous13 says

    Ace of Sevens, are you asking what is the point of evaluating possibly slanderous hearsay from an anonymous person regarding an event that happened years ago for which there is no evidence and was never reported to the police? I guess my standards are just a tad bit higher than that. I’m not going to just throw someone under the bus. The reason is because I wouldn’t want someone to do the same thing to me. Instead, I am going to consider that a person is innocent until proven guilty. And by proven I mean at least some sort of reasonable confirming evidence for the allegation. So far there is nothing, yet people seem to have no problem preparing the noose.

    Consider how the principles of the Sixth Amendment come into play: the right to a speedy and public trial, an impartial jury, to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; and to be confronted with witnesses. The skeptical community is undermining itself when it ignores principles like these and it is rightfully receiving a lot of criticism for what looks very much like a witch-hunt.

    Just so there is no misunderstanding, if Shermer is guilty of rape then I believe he should be punished.

  165. Anonymous13 says

    hjhornbeck, I accept that there is variation in the reporting for a number of reasons. You can’t use the statistical data to validate any given rape claim.

  166. says

    Anonymous13 @175:

    …for which there is no evidence…

    Because if a woman says she was raped, that’s not evidence.

    I guess my standards are just a tad bit higher than that.

    So high that you expect a community of people to act just like the Federal government.

    And by proven I mean at least some sort of reasonable confirming evidence for the allegation. So far there is nothing…

    Because two other women providing corroboration isn’t reasonable evidence, either. What would be “reasonable evidence,” in your mind?

    …yet people seem to have no problem preparing the noose.

    Because public shaming is exactly like a brutal execution.

    Consider how the principles of the Sixth Amendment come into play: the right to a speedy and public trial, an impartial jury, to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; and to be confronted with witnesses. The skeptical community is undermining itself when it ignores principles like these…

    Because the skeptical community obviously has all the powers of a national government and is not only capable but willing to kill people for raping its citizens.

    …witch-hunt.

    Because just like witches, rapists aren’t real.

  167. says

    Ace of Sevens, are you asking what is the point of evaluating possibly slanderous hearsay from an anonymous person regarding an event that happened years ago for which there is no evidence and was never reported to the police?

    No, you pig-ignorant git, we’re saying the person is not anonymous, but is well-known to the person passing on her story. (And no, it’s not “slander/libel” unless there’s RECKLESS DISREGARD for the truth.) This basic simple fact has been repeatedly stated and explained, so you have no excuse to keep on repeating the same ignorant PRATT over and fucking over again.

    Consider how the principles of the Sixth Amendment come into play…

    We HAVE considered it: it only comes into play if you’re trying to deprive someone of life, liberty or property, as punishment for a crime. No one here is trying to do any such thing to Shermer, so the Sixth Amendment doesn’t come into play here at all. This has also been repeatedly explained here. Please try harder to keep up.

  168. Who Cares says

    Consider how the principles of the Sixth Amendment come into play…

    Bzzzt, wrong. that is a limit on the government. Thank you for playing I don’t know jack about what applies to the government and what applies to private citizens.

  169. says

    Anonymous13:

    With reference to your comment:

    Just so there is no misunderstanding, if Shermer is guilty of rape then I believe he should be punished.

    I’m wondering, if you desire to avoid misunderstanding, why then are you bending over backwards to create or perpetuate misunderstanding?

    With reference to your other comment:

    I accept that there is variation in the reporting for a number of reasons. You can’t use the statistical data to validate any given rape claim.

    This seems like pretty questionable argumentation to me. I mean, strictly speaking, you can’t use the known statistical relationship between smoking and lung cancers to prove any single case of lung cancer is related to smoking, nor can you use the known statistical relationship between global warming and extreme warm/storm weather events to prove any single such event is causally related to global warming.

    Nevertheless, such statistics mean something, because the relationship is too well supported overall to engage in nitpicky denialism like “you can’t use the statistical data to validate any single [X] claim”.

    Just as it is with smoking and global warming, so it is with false rape claims.

  170. says

    @Anonymous13: That’s beside the point. I didn’t ask why people tried to evaluate where the claims were true. That’s obvious. I asked why people look for situations where the accusations are true, but it still isn’t rape. This would seem to be too absurd a possibility to waste time on.

  171. skeptianthro says

    Maybe we should once again have a discussion about where the onus of rape belongs. It belongs on the attacker NOT THE VICTIM. Instead of saying “you should be aware of your surroundings and not drink so much.” Maybe we should tell rapists “You know, you’re looking a little rapey tonight. Maybe you should hang with some friends who will make sure that you don’t rape” or “Call a friend if you find yourself in a situation where you might rape and they can come get you before you do something that you’ll regret”

    I guess my standards are just a tad bit higher than that. I’m not going to just throw someone under the bus. The reason is because I wouldn’t want someone to do the same thing to me. Instead, I am going to consider that a person is innocent until proven guilty. And by proven I mean at least some sort of reasonable confirming evidence for the allegation. So far there is nothing, yet people seem to have no problem preparing the noose.

    Consider how the principles of the Sixth Amendment come into play: the right to a speedy and public trial, an impartial jury, to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; and to be confronted with witnesses

    If you want people to listen to you, stop of the self serving, sanctimonious, pedestal sitting loads of crap! This is not a trial. No one has prepared a noose. PZ Myers stated that he talked to a friend who told him about an incident. He let others know that this happened. Others came forward and said “Yeah, he did the same thing or something similar”. Something that I might add has been quietly whispered about at cons for a while. I heard about MS’s proclivity for plying with alcohol and to be careful around him when I was at Texas Freethought 2011. So rather whispering into people’s ear, PZ came right out with it. He said “This happened to someone I know. I have no reason to distrust her and in order to protect her from further backlash, I’m not revealing her identity. Please be careful when hanging out with this individual”

    Yes, she should have gone to the police but considering how the police frequently treat people who come forward (especially if it isn’t a stranger jumping out of the bushes type incident) is appalling. Maybe if the con organizers had been anything but dismissive then that might have happened. And you want to know what happens when someone has been raped or sexually assaulted? Read this: http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/08/08/what-do-you-do-when-someone-pulls-the-pin-and-hands-you-a-grenade/comment-page-5/#comment-664372

    Since I doubt that you will, I will provide the reader’s digest. 14 year old girl (my niece) was sexually assaulted by her best friend’s father. Up until the time that the doctor who performed the rape kit said “Yup, she is a virgin and we found signs of digital penetration as well as semen on her buttocks” did the cops take her claims seriously. Even after that it was two years of hell because the man who assaulted was a pillar of the community, a church elder (who tried to throw both of his sons under the bus for the act!) as well as navy NCO…. She was vilified in school by her former friend, was told in church that she was mentally unbalanced, etc. He was convicted of his crimes and sentenced to 7 years in prison. And you know what, the family was asked to leave the church because “it made people uncomfortable to have her sitting in church”.

    So. Just. Stop. Blaming. The. Victim.

  172. notsont says

    If you do not know the meanings of the words “libel” “slander” or “hearsay” you should not use them.

  173. says

    I guess my standards are just a tad bit higher than that. I’m not going to just throw someone under the bus.

    That’s exactly what you’re doing to the victims in this case. So stop pretending you have such high standards of “justice.”

  174. says

    And you know what, the family was asked to leave the church because “it made people uncomfortable to have her sitting in church”.

    We should all remember that every time some wankapologist tries to tell us how much good religion does.

  175. says

    I suppose I should clarify. Shermer bought her some drinks, then they had sex. This could indeed describe any number of scenarios, some of which re rape and some of which aren’t. However, this isn’t a situation where some third party, armed only with that info, is accusing Shermer of rape. The only way this makes sense as an objection in this case is if you think that the story is true, but both she and PZ are somehow mistaken about it being rape. I’m not sure how that would happen.

  176. leftwingfox says

    And you know what, the family was asked to leave the church because “it made people uncomfortable to have her sitting in church”.

    We should all remember that every time some wankapologist tries to tell us how much good religion does.

    I remember it every time it’s “his word against hers”. More often than not, the victim has far, far more to lose from a rape accusation that the rapist does.

  177. deepak shetty says

    @175
    One of the amusing (in a fucked up way) things about the whole demand for evidence crowd is how much similar to the fundamentalist Islamic society such views are.
    What that ? Its a woman’s word against a man? My standards of evidence are much higher! Other independent women have also warned about this man? My standards of evidence are much higher! its unreported (even though various studies show why this happens)? My standards of evidence are much higher!

  178. hjhornbeck says

    Anonymous13 @176:

    You can’t use the statistical data to validate any given rape claim.

    If I may quote myself:

    If I told you I owned a dog, would you believe me? Sure, it’s a common enough occurrence; 35% of Canadian households own a dog, and with about three to four people per household that translates to about 8-16% of Canadians owning a pet.

    If I told you I was raped, should you believe me? Sure, it’s a common enough occurrence; about one in three Canadian women have been raped, and with women taking up roughly half the country that translates to about 16% of Canadians being raped.

    Where’s the flaw in my logic?

    The claim of rape is not extraordinary, in other words, and should be accepted as probably true unless there is sufficient reason not to. I, and others in this thread, have shown there is insufficient reason to reject it. Are you going to refute those arguments, or concede that this anonymous person was probably raped by Shermer?

  179. says

    @162 BLar –

    Kacyray,

    I am reading a rape scene into your scenario, because this is a thread about rape and sexual assault. Are you on topic?

    I specifically stated that my scenarios were constructed to gain a foundation of information from the blogger and NOT related to the Shermer accusations.

    When you wade in with “but what about these hypothetical situations?” you are derailing the conversation. It troubles me that you require these clarifications of morality in order to engage with these points. Why do you need them?

    Because I don’t know Mr. Thibeault and I have no interest in making assumptions about what he believes based on a single blog post. There’s a good chance that he and I agree on many things and that the point of disagreement might be a mere point of clarification. I’ve found this to often be the case.

    I realize that he, along with most of FTB, is a feminist. I am not one. But I’m damn sure not okay with sexual predation, rape, or any exploitation of the vulnerable. The scenarios I laid out (if answered) were intended to
    indicate a baseline point of (probable) agreement – a point of departure from where to start.

    Once two people establish where they agree, its a lot easier to pinpoint the specific point of disagreement. This is a pretty common method of discourse…. when you disagree with someone, you reel back and reel back until you find the point at which you both agree, and then move forward from there.

    That’s what I was hoping for, but I no longer expect that. You and a couple others have already received my comments in the most uncharitable way possible, assumed my motives, and poisoned the well.

    This is why commenting on blogs is so frustrating. Sitting over a cup of coffee, I’d have been able to have a great conversation. But with you people taking pop-shots from the cheap seats… there’s just no way.

    I withdraw the questions. I wish you all well.

  180. skeptianthro says

    Kacyray:

    I realize that he, along with most of FTB, is a feminist. I am not one. But I’m damn sure not okay with sexual predation, rape, or any exploitation of the vulnerable.

    Glad to know that you are not “okay” with sexual predation, rape, and exploitation. But your misogynistic- rape apologist attitude can go away. We aren’t the ones who poisoned the well…. you did. Speak about the issues at hand, not a bunch of fucking hypotheticals. And FYI: A feminist is someone who believes that women should be treated the same as men. So by your own admission, you’re a sexist

  181. hoary puccoon says

    Leaving the R word out of it, what one of the women said Shermer did was keep her wine topped up, so she never reached the bottom of her glass.

    I had a neighbor do that to me once. He wasn’t trying to seduce me. He was just trying to be a good host. I knew I was drinking a little more than I usually did. But it was a community party, where the table crew put out another bottle as soon as one was emptied, there was no water to drink, and I was just sipping…. And sipping….

    It wasn’t until I stood up to leave that I realized I must have drunk a *lot* more than usual. I tried not to make it obvious I was clinging to my husband’s arm as we left. I fell down as we walked home. (Fortunately, no car travel was involved.) My husband excused it with, well, dark night, uneven pavement. I knew better. For the only time in my life, I was literally falling down drunk.

    And the thing was, I really didn’t think I was drinking that much. Because my glass was never empty.

    If that’s Shermer’s technique– or anybody’s technique– whether it’s legally rape or not, it’s something women should be very suspicious of. At least in my case, it was really difficult to judge how much I was drinking when I never got to the bottom of the glass.

  182. hotshoe, now with more boltcutters says

    It wasn’t until I stood up to leave that I realized I must have drunk a *lot* more than usual. I tried not to make it obvious I was clinging to my husband’s arm as we left. I fell down as we walked home. (Fortunately, no car travel was involved.) My husband excused it with, well, dark night, uneven pavement. I knew better. For the only time in my life, I was literally falling down drunk.

    And the thing was, I really didn’t think I was drinking that much. Because my glass was never empty.

    If that’s Shermer’s technique– or anybody’s technique– whether it’s legally rape or not, it’s something women should be very suspicious of. At least in my case, it was really difficult to judge how much I was drinking when I never got to the bottom of the glass

    The thing is, when you’re literally falling-down drunk, you are not legally capable of consent. A person having sex with you at that point is committing a legally-defined rape due to your inability to consent.

    So, yes, if Shermer did in fact have sex with a falling-down drunk woman (even if it wasn’t his fault that she had too much to drink in the first place) then he did indeed commit rape as defined by criminal statute, due to her being too drunk to consent.

    Since several women have spoken of Shermer manipulating the situation to get them drunk when they didn’t expect to, then it’s premeditated rape on his part. That is, if we believe the women. And why wouldn’t we believe the women? What has any woman to gain by admitting that she was manipulated by Shermer into getting drunk? They’re not going to get justice, only slut-shaming, lectures about responsibility, accusations that they’re the criminals, not him …

  183. darkwater says

    So, after a good night’s sleep and a day’s worth of Internet issues, I find that my “cut-and-dry” rape, according to Anonymous13, isn’t so “cut-and-dry”, according to Anonymous13. Honestly, I was kind of expecting that. 

    Anonymous13 thinks my drinking the evening of my rape is a “problem.” But, in what way is it a problem? Is this “problem” at all mitigated (or, dare I say, minimized) if I say that there’s a decent chance both my rapist and I were sober by the time the assault occurred? What if one or both of us weren’t? In what way does this matter or not matter? Or is it the drink itself that’s the causal agent? Then, the question is which drink: did my second Jack & Coke cause me to get raped? Did my second Jack & Coke cause my rapist to rape me? But why limit it to drinks? I listed a bunch of items in the description of my rape that might be factors; for instance, my rapist needled me throughout the year about being uncircumcised, so maybe my foreskin caused him to rape? (What other events could my foreskin be responsible for — the mind boggles!)

    People have brought up Xeno’s Paradox in explaining the motivation of the rape minimizers in this thread. It’s a possibility, but in this particular case, I think it’s desperate clinging to the “just world” fallacy. Anonymous13 doesn’t drink; he gets upset when his wife drinks “too much” (although earlier in the comment he says that one drink is one drink too much); I think he really is grasping for a set of rules that will keep him and his loved ones safe. The fact that the particular rule he’s settled on (don’t drink) dramatically constrains perfectly legal and moral actions of others (but not his own — funny, that) is a price he’s willing to pay. 

    (I also find it interesting that the only factor he thinks contributed to my decision not to report is “embarrassment”, but other commenters have addressed that issue.)

  184. says

    Back in the thread that PZ just yanked down, I was thinking how hard it’d be to set up a fake campaign of accusations, compared to how easy it would be to mouse-trap someone who’s maybe not very smart about staying out of compromising positions. If you had 3 fake accusers, they’d risk exploding their stories by getting a material fact wrong about what happened at which conference, when. You’d have to have research about the target’s behavior going back years and you’d have to build a set of fictions that were consistent with what happened because all the defender would have to do is blow a few smoking holes in the claims and it’d look pretty bad in a hurry.

    The observation that Shermer’s first tactical response was to try to silence the accusations rather than trying to address them, tells me that he’s probably not so confident of his ability to confront the stories head on. I take it as rather revealing, really.

  185. dogberry says

    You know what? It’s really hard for a civilian to join in on these threads and make any kind of comment. I did so out of a long-developed sense of enlightenment justice or fairness. I don’t know if this accuser/victim was raped or not, and nor do I know whether Michael Shermer committed that crime. Neither do you. My sense of natural justice that no one should be blamed without due process is evidently way out of date, and the new norm is that any accusation of a sexual assault must be believed, or you reveal yourself to belong to some secret society of which I have never heard, which consists of ‘rape culture apologists’ and individuals somehow earning adjectives related to ‘slime’ or sometimes ‘slyme’. All this is alien to me. I am the kind of feminist who believes in complete and automatic equality. I ignore your sex when I assess anything you say, but that doesn’t seem to work for some of you (it has worked nicely for me as member of the so-called ‘caring professions’ this last thirty-plus years.) By pointing that out I become ‘a lying fuckwad’ (I’m not sure what a fuckwad is, but I doubt any of you want to explain it to me in case you make someone so old have a stroke). Cannot any one of you stand back from the mob mentality and ask if this is reasonable? I abhor rape. I despise sexual discrimination. And I don’t believe any claim about anything without evidence. If evidence is unlikely to be forthcoming (which is certain to be true in any case of this kind), I make my own judgement and keep it to myself. In my case that judgement would advise any young females to keep well away from Mr Shermer. Perhaps I am over-cautious, but I want to protect those I love. I know the statistics, but I don’t assume guilt on the basis of statistics (nor should any of you prats in the USA who seem to assume skin colour has something to with with guilt! Get the analogy?) I would not publish something to that effect as I respect his rights as much as I respect yours. That, by the way, is why they are rights. We all have them, and no one’s rights trump someone else’s.

    At the end of all this, I believe myself to be a reasonable person in his sixth decade, who has been faithful to his one spouse – and yes, that means I have raped no one, attempted to rape no one, and failed thoroughly to approve of anyone else’s rape attempts. It seems that isn’t good enough for some of you holier-than-thou types. I still defy you and say you ought not to publicly condemn someone without evidence. And now you will describe me in awful language once again that I cannot begin to believe. I have not lied. I have not ‘fuckwadded’ as far as I can tell. I only recognise slime in the garden pond and wish it wasn’t there. Can not any one of you understand that there might be a reasonable opposition to the hive mind here without that opposer being a rapist or a ‘lying fuckwad’? Now, go ahead and dismiss these ideas as thoughtlessly as you have dismissed them before. Add some more offensive and rude epithets. Those words will shrink in comparison to the harm done to Michael Shermer’s accuser (yes, I believe her in my mind, but I don’t think I can publish that based on my gut feelings). I don’t mean to hurt her further by staying judgement, but it just isn’t my role or yours to publicly assume and state the legal guilt of another. She might be in the right (I believe she is) but that doesn’t mean we can do what has been done here. Please don’t go on again about how this isn’t a court, not a legal judgement, and that there are no consequences from what you have posted. There are consequences. It might take a defamation of character lawsuit to bring that home to you, but that is exactly what you risk. Want to be that brave? Go ahead, and be prepared to pay your share of the damages. There are always consequences! Remember that, all of you, if you learn nothing else from this. Don’t be such simpletons, no matter how much you believe in feminism. I was a feminist before most of you were born, and I can tell you there is a problem with this kind of mob justice.

    Finally, if there is no room here for my comment, or if I should be banned for making it, then you have proven yourselves unworthy of the enlightenment ideals I have fought for, advocated for and agitated for all these years. Damn you all, you don’t deserve what I have fought for.

  186. skeptianthro says

    Finally, if there is no room here for my comment, or if I should be banned for making it, then you have proven yourselves unworthy of the enlightenment ideals I have fought for, advocated for and agitated for all these years. Damn you all, you don’t deserve what I have fought for.

    What exactly have you fought for? I mean, women still earn $.75 to every dollar that a man earns. When women actually report rape they are blamed for their own rapes. Or they are told that because they wear makeup or look at a man or had a drink or had several drinks or were wearing heels, etc ad nauseam that they deserved to be raped. It was recently that marital rape was even discussed as a crime. Or oh say, their rape kits were actually tested. You’re so proud of your work as a feminist, tell me exactly what I am supposed to be be enlightened over.

  187. Anonymous13 says

    So, Shermer’s lawyers have chimed in. He claims he is innocent of any wrong-doing. Now it is a case of “she (whoever she is) said, he said.” Does anyone think this was not a predictable outcome? At what point does evidence and accusations of libel matter to people? Making serious and damaging accusations without any evidence to back it up is a dangerous game to play. And now it appears that PZ did so without consulting with a lawyer, first.

    Can PZ use journalist’s privilege and get away without naming his source if this becomes a civil case? This is particularly relevant in respect to Shermer’s claim that PZ is a beneficial party due to increased traffic on his blog. PZ also admittedly has no direct or personal evidence that the claim is true. If such a case were tried in California then Mitchell v. Superior Court would likely apply: “Disclosure by a reporter of confidential sources is appropriate in civil cases, especially when the reporter is a party to the litigation.” If Shermer pushes for defamation, the only way to determine if defamatory statements were made would be to subpoena the source. Source disclosure in a civil case is denied unless the information goes to the heart of the plaintiff’s claim. In this case, Jane Doe is not only the source of the claim, but also the only avenue to evidence.

    If this were tried in Minnesota the same applies, the applicable law as it relates to defamation would deny journalist’s privilege where the person seeking disclosure can demonstrate that the identity of the source will lead to relevant evidence on the issue of actual malice. The identity of the source can be compelled if there is probable cause to believe that the source has information clearly relevant to the issue of defamation and the information cannot be obtained by any alternative means. Well, that is exactly what would be happening in this case. PZ’s “outing” Shermer may result in “outing” Jane Doe, exactly what he said wanted to avoid. I might suggest that PZ has acted negligently.

  188. carlie says

    I don’t know if this accuser/victim was raped or not, and nor do I know whether Michael Shermer committed that crime. Neither do you. My sense of natural justice that no one should be blamed without due process is evidently way out of date, and the new norm is that any accusation of a sexual assault must be believed, or you reveal yourself to belong to some secret society of which I have never heard, which consists of ‘rape culture apologists’ and individuals somehow earning adjectives related to ‘slime’ or sometimes ‘slyme’.

    Hey dogberry – go read this and think about it for awhile.

  189. darkwater says

    Anonymous13, could I just pass along my appreciation for addressing my points before morphing into a MN (or is it CA) libel lawyer, thanks!

  190. hoary puccoon says

    hotshoe @ 195–

    Well, yeah, I believe the women, too.

    I was responding to statements that the women involved should have known better than to get drunk. Having been in exactly the same situation (@ 194) — my glass never being empty– that one of the women described, I know it’s not that simple.

    I love wine, but I’m a pretty careful drinker. When I order in a bar, I also order water and I stop at three glasses. But the night I got so drunk I didn’t finish even one glass. So the usual rule, a three-drink limit, didn’t ever get into play.

    That “just know your limit and quit,” or “just make sure you also drink some water” can be deliberately subverted by sexual predators, even without spiking drinks. Putting all the onus on potential victims to keep total control of the situation, when the victims are dealing with someone who has studied and practiced ways to undercut that control, is a clear cut example, in my mind, of exactly how rape culture operates.

    The potential rapist is allowed to use any trick in the book to get the victim drunk. It’s up to the victim to see through every trick and remain sober– but of course, all the while not even *suspecting* that the person manipulating her is a rapist until that’s been proven in a court of law.

    Tilted playing field, much?

  191. says

    I still defy you and say you ought not to publicly condemn someone without evidence.

    For the umpteenth time: multiple statements by more than one witness (who have not been shown to be untrustworthy) IS EVIDENCE.

    Finally, if there is no room here for my comment, or if I should be banned for making it, then you have proven yourselves unworthy of the enlightenment ideals I have fought for…

    IF you want to be taken seriously, I suggest you drop the preemptive crybaby self-pity (since, as any fool can see, we HAVEN’T banned you), and tell us HOW you fought for those “Enlightenment ideals” we’re supposedly unworthy of.

  192. says

    Because I don’t know Mr. Thibeault and I have no interest in making assumptions about what he believes based on a single blog post.

    Oh grow the fuck up, kacyray. Since when was it impossible to understand what a blogger is saying in one post without investigating his entire history? Seriously, how much more do you you need to know about him before you can stop bouncing off the walls and deal wtih what he said? Just start with the default assumption that what he says is what he believes, and respond to that.

    All you’re doing is trying to change the subject; and your cowardice is showing.

  193. smhll says

    I love wine, but I’m a pretty careful drinker. When I order in a bar, I also order water and I stop at three glasses. But the night I got so drunk I didn’t finish even one glass. So the usual rule, a three-drink limit, didn’t ever get into play.

    Yeah. When ordering your own drinks, stopping after two (my limit) is pretty straightforward. You just don’t go up to the bar and buy drink number three. But when drinks keep appearing in front of you because someone else is buying them, it may be easy to forget and start sipping. (Also, as a previous poster pointed out, if you aren’t getting up and fetching each drink, you are missing out on some physical feedback on how impaired you are.)

    The more famous the person I was drinking with, the more I would hesitate to just pour an unwanted drink into a potted plant.

    A person with a very high tolerance for alcohol, who is still fairly functional after four rounds when others are fucked-up, is in a position to take advantage of people. In some cases, a pair of people will be equally inebriated after the same number of drinks. In other cases, one person has a metabolic advantage or a size advantage. The size thing is visible. The “I have a high tolerance for alcohol thing” is not visible. Not everyone who can hold their liquor is a rapist or even sexually pushy, but it’s easy to see how a pattern of taking advantage of a drunken other person could get established. (i.e. the person who is more resistant to inebriation keeps buying more drinks and at the end of the evening starts touching the much drunker person).

  194. Anonymous13 says

    Raging Bee said “For the umpteenth time: multiple statements by more than one witness (who have not been shown to be untrustworthy) IS EVIDENCE.”

    Who are the multiple witnesses? We have one anonymous person who claims she was raped after voluntarily drinking with Shermer and then slept with him. And she reports of 5 other anonymous accounts. Then we have an anonymous person who says the first anonymous person told her about this. Then we have an anonymous person who said Shermer flirted with her and refilled her drink. Other than the original woman, what are these other people witnesses to? And who is to say that any of these women are trustworthy? We don’t even know who any of them are. On the other hand, there is Shermer who has never had a single charge brought against him or any sort of formal complaint filed. Doesn’t that lend a bit of credibility to his claim of no wrong-doing? This is why people who makes claims of criminal activity need to actually file a report even if they feel the police might not do anything. It will create a history to build a case against the criminal.

  195. says

    We have one anonymous person who claims she was raped…

    No, we have MORE THAN ONE person, and they are KNOWN TO THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE CHOSEN TO PASS ON THEIR STORIES. That’s not the same as “anonymous.”

    On the other hand, there is Shermer who has never had a single charge brought against him or any sort of formal complaint filed.

    Bullshit. Read some of the actual stories, instead of mindlessly brushing them off without even a first thought. Several people have filed complaints against Shermer, only to have them minimized or dismissed. Seriously, boy, that last sentence proves you haven’t actually read or listened to anything.

  196. says

    This is why people who makes claims of criminal activity need to actually file a report even if they feel the police might not do anything. It will create a history to build a case against the criminal.

    No, it woldn’t, especially if the cops don’t follow through. If you actually cared enough to read any of what’s been written here, you would know this.

    Anon13, your willful ignorance is appalling and insulting. You’re clearly not mature enough to participate in an grownup dialogue.

  197. Jackie: The COLOSSAL TOWERING VAGINA! says

    Announomous13,

    Jackie, for what it’s worth, I hate being around both drunk women and drunk men. And I hate being drunk myself. My guess is that the issue with complaining about women being drunk and out of control also hits home with some of the men. It is hard to be critical of the women in this instance without also shining the light on one’s own out of control behavior.

    “One’s own behavior”? She raped herself? She was out of control?

    You’re a flaming misogynist and if you think you are hiding that fact at all, you’re wrong. It is clear as day.

    Drinking does not cause rape. Rapists cause rape and people like you keep them safe and secret so they can keep raping.

  198. embraceyourinnercrone says

    To Anon13 and all the other clueless people saying “She should have just gone to the police” Please read this –

    Trigger warning –
    ..
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    ..

    Norfolk’s rape policy was assume the victim is lying until last week

    This is the part that makes me want to punch a wall (also brings back some “wonderful” memories of something similar that happened to me when I was 19, I was lucky it was just an attempted rape, but it did teach me not to trust the police ever again):

    “The rules changed in the wake of a case involving a 22-year-old woman who reported a sexual assault only to be told by police, “If we find out that you’re lying, this will be a felony charge.”

    The woman was attacked in her home by serial rapist and diagnosed sexual sadist Roy Ruiz Loredo on April 22, 2012. Over the course of reporting the crime, police repeatedly expressed skepticism that the woman was telling the truth, even after the woman submitted to an exhaustive physical exam.”

  199. Pudendum says

    I don’t think I want to be in this environment where only one side of a discussion is respected. I have seen reasonable positions supporting the actions of PZ, but they are lost among the horde of chorus-folk chanting insults, accusations and jingles.

    Thanks for taking the time to write about this, Jason. You have not added anything of use. Your horde has only made me more sure that a witch-hunt mentality is damaging and corrosive.

  200. says

    for everyone saying ‘just got to the police”:

    http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/08/13/2457991/virginia-law-enforcement-rape/

    Until last week, Norfolk, Virginia police classified sexual assault claims to be “unfounded” — or not valid — by default. According to the Virginian-Pilot, a 22-year-old woman’s case prompted Norfolk police chief Mike Goldsmith to update the policy so that officers must now assume rape victims are telling the truth.

    The woman reported the attack immediately to police, only to be told, “If we find out that you’re lying, this will be a felony charge.” Before giving her a medical examination, officers subjected the woman to interrogations during which they said things like, “You’re telling us a different story than you told…the other detectives,” and “This only happened hours ago. Why can’t you remember?” Having had enough, the woman cut off the interview.

    The police eventually arrested and charged the attacker for multiple other sexual assaults and felonies.

    jeez.

  201. hjhornbeck says

    Pudendum @214:

    I have seen reasonable positions supporting the actions of PZ, but they are lost among the horde of chorus-folk chanting insults, accusations and jingles.

    I haven’t done any of those, and yet you seem oblivious to me. Weird.

    Your horde has only made me more sure that a witch-hunt mentality is damaging and corrosive.

    Witches don’t exist. Here’s a quick quiz for you, just to see if you’ve been paying attention:

    1. What is the lifetime risk of being raped for a woman living in the US or Canada? Rough estimates are fine.
    2. How common are false rape accusations?
    3. How likely is a claim to be false when multiple people have come forward to back up that claim, and a pattern of behavior has been shown which is consistent with that claim?

    All the answers are in this thread, so this should be a cakewalk of a quiz.

  202. hjhornbeck says

    I’ve warned you to be careful of your setgid bits before, but did you listen?

    … [grumble young hackers think they know security grumble mumble] …

  203. says

    Anonymous13:
    Turn off the Vulcan Logic and crank the empathy up to 13.

    You comments treat rape as if it were a crime like burglary or arson. You imagine a rape victim can turn off their PTSD and calmly walk into a police station right after they have bern raped and fill out a police report.

    No. Nonononono!

    You deny the breadth of human experience .
    You deny the coping mechanisms people have to deal with trauma.
    You act is if people are automatons, able to dispassionately deal with traumatic events without those pesky emotions.
    Stop.

    The acute stage occurs in the days or weeks after a rape. Durations vary as to the amount of time a survivor may remain in the acute stage. The immediate symptoms may last a few days to a few weeks and may overlap with the outward adjustment stage.

    According to Scarse there is no “typical” response amongst rape victims. However, the U.S. Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) asserts that, in most cases, a rape survivor’s acute stage can be classified as one of three responses: expressed (“He or she may appear agitated or hysterical, [and] may suffer from crying spells or anxiety attacks”); controlled (“the survivor appears to be without emotion and acts as if ‘nothing happened’ and ‘everything is fine'”); or shock/disbelief (“the survivor reacts with a strong sense of disorientation. They may have difficulty concentrating, making decisions, or doing everyday tasks. They may also have poor recall of the assault”). Not all rape survivors show their emotions outwardly. Some may appear calm and unaffected by the assault.

    Behaviors present in the acute stage can include:

    Diminished alertness. Numbness. Dulled sensory, affective and memory functions. Disorganized thought content. Vomiting.

    Nausea. Paralyzing anxiety. Pronounced internal tremor. Obsession to wash or clean themselves. Hysteria, confusion and crying. Bewilderment. Acute sensitivity to the reaction of other people.

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_trauma_syndrome

    These are only some of the effects rape victims may be dealing with. After all that, you actually think it is a good idea to make any demands of a victim?

    Your way basically says “I pretend to know how horrible an experience you went through. I am going to tell you what I think is best for you, rather than offer my support however you desire.”

  204. says

    @206 Raging…

    All you’re doing is trying to change the subject;

    Nah, I was just trying to peel back the onion a bit. As I’ve explained, it is important to understand where someone is coming from. As Hitch once said, “The first requirement of anyone engaging in intellectual or academic debate is that he or she must be able to give a proper account of the opposing position.”

    and your cowardice is showing.

    Cowardice? Surely you jest. I’ve been trying for a long time to have an actual conversation with one of you professional FTB commenters about these sorts of topics *away* from your little safe-zone here at FTB, but I never get any takers. Gee, I wonder why…

    Care to be the first? Or are you just going to keep calling me a coward from the security and safety of your tribe here?

    Since when was it impossible to understand what a blogger is saying in one post without investigating his entire history?

    I didn’t claim not to understand what he was saying *in the blog post*. I said I didn’t want to make assumptions on the entirety of his belief system based on that one post.

    Don’t worry, I’ll be generous and assume that you just weren’t able to understand plain English, rather than automatically assuming that you were being less than honest.

    See how easy that is? I wonder if you would ever consider being so generous, compassionate social-justice-warrior that you are.

    Let me know if you’d ever like to demonstrate your courage by having a one-on-one conversation away from the noise and temporal nature of a comment section. I’ll create a page where you and I can discuss these very important issues. It’ll be isolated from anyone else. You’ll have to deal with the fact that I’m a real person with actual ideas rather than the troll boogeyman you like to pretend I am. I’ll send you the invite. Then we can have a conversation – just you and me. Up for it?

    Or, you can just keep calling me coward from your nice little safe zone and pretend no one notices the irony.

  205. hjhornbeck says

    kacyray @226:
    I’m amazed; not once in your post did you discuss a single one of the arguments we’ve presented here. It was all bluster about what cowards we are.

    I’m curious. What would you call someone who continually ducks arguments, instead trying to draw one or two people away to an area they control?

  206. says

    @227

    I wasn’t aware that I’ve ducked an argument. As I recall, I asked a series of questions designed to locate a specific point of ideological departure, with the intent of then applying that baseline to the present discussion. I clearly articulated the nature and intent of those questions. There was nothing hidden. (@66)

    I also recall that rather than the questions being addressed, they were deliberately distorted and then attacked based on the distortions. (@168)

    Then I recall being called a coward for deigning to ask those questions. (@206)

    Now you’re complaining that *I* have ducked questions and instead resorted to calling people cowards. You have it exactly backwards.

    Typical tribal behavior. And you wonder why I would be very interested to see how well any one of you holds up outside the tribe? This is why. Because I know you couldn’t.

    And this is why not one of you will ever try… because you know it too. You know that the only thing you have going for you is the ability to make enough collective noise that you’re able to drown out what anyone who think independently is actually saying. Without that, you’d be left in the undesirable position of having to argue against my actual points, rather than throwing stones at caricatures. I realize that’s the last thing you’d want.

    Incidentally, this also is why I frequently engage only the blogger and avoid wasting time with other commenters.

  207. hoary puccoon says

    kacyray @ 226–

    I don’t know what you have in mind when you say you’d like to have a conversation with FtB commenters “away from your little safe zone.” But it sounds really creepy to me.

    We all know about what kind of “conversation” Rebecca Watson got for saying “guys don’t do that.” We’ve heard what happens to a woman who suggests putting Jane Austen’s picture on a bank note. Ophelia Benson just reported that the same guys who have been harassing women on the Internet showed up in person to drown out a team of women debaters with booing. Do you really think this is all going to remain jolly, good fun (for the harassers, not the women) and never escalate into physical attacks?

    You’re damn right I’m going to stay in a safe zone.

    You are the second men’s rights advocate I’ve observed on FtB trying to get information about the identities of posters here. In the present climate of threats against anyone who supports women’s rights, I consider that, at best, dangerously careless of other people’s safety.

  208. says

    @229

    I’m sure it sounds creepy to you. Please, don’t accept my offer. In fact, you are specifically not invited.

    For the record, it is pretty easy to get information about.me. I’m a US Marine Officer currently deployed on the USS Kearsarge. My handle is my actual name, and (I believe) my FB profile is accessible if you click on it. I keep my profile wide open, so feel free to visit and look at picture of my dogs and everything.

    And if that’s not enough to assuage your delusional paranoia, I don’t know what would be. I’m on a ship in the Middle East. Still scared of me?

    What I was offering (not to you) was a place to discuss the issues that directly impact this topic, in the post, away from the noise of misleading and loaded comments. Away from the tribe. And away from the constant lies (for example, I’m not a goddamned MRA).A place where the only words being exchanged were arguments, ideas, and information. A place where the only words being exchanged were arguments, ideas, and information. In other words, away from the useless bleating of people like you.

    I’d like to have an actual discussion. But not single professional FTB commenter will accept. Telling, isn’t it?

    hoary, please … if you find me all scary and stuff, just ignore me. And we’ll both me content.

  209. Pudendum says

    kacyray, I wish I knew you better. You sound like a clear, sensible person.
    I don’t think you are trying to get information about the identities of posters here, but I will accept your invitation, or counter with one of my own. I frequent a site called mindromp (it’s a dot org). That forum has a focus on freedom of speech. Or I’ll join you where you are. My guess is, that I have lots of disagreements with almost everyone about this. I aim to keep them friendly.
    I would suggest it here, but I don’t know how to get enough quiet to maybe dig in and learn something about you.

  210. says

    I found kacyray’s “invitation” hilarious enough I thought I’d actually comment.

    See, to me, it’s pretty obvious why you’ll almost certainly never get any takers. Your ‘challenge’ is, after all, full of insults to the bloggers and commenters. Poisoning the well and all that with talk about “constant lies”, “useless bleating”, “delusional paranoia”, “noise of misleading and loaded comments”, and so on. And the whole idea that you can’t have a rational discussion here just screams condescension and arrogance along with a deep seated bias.

    Why on Earth would anyone want to run off to take you up on such a challenge when there’s nearly as many red flags as word count? Don’t worry. That’s a rhetorical question. I just find it really amusing that you think the fact that no one is taking you up on it is telling something other than how ridiculous you sound.

    (I’ll grant it doesn’t sound much creepy to me. Just an attempt to isolate away from support so kacyray doesn’t have to deal with people supporting each other. But, while not creepy, it mostly just looks delusional to me.)

  211. says

    Pudendom,

    Thank you for that – I will be very happy finally get to have a dialogue on this. Props to you for rising above.

    I just went to MindRomp and it appears I’m not filtered out, so I registered the handle KacyRay. Then I got the following message:

    “Thank you for registering, KacyRay. Your account has been submitted for moderation by an administrator and will be activated shortly. You will be notified by email when this happens.”

    I expect it won’t take long for that to happen. Once it does, I’ll let you know.

    What I’m really looking for is to have a one-on-one discussion with a supporter of the A+/gender-feminism issue regarding some of the specific issues that I personally have with this subset of the movement. The issue of victim-blaming and how it relates to the OP here would be a great place to start.

    I don’t know if this site provides the option of opening up forums specifically for the exclusive use of a limited number of members. Hopefully it does. If it does not, I may recommend other options. FB offers the ability to create “groups” which can be limited to only very specific people (who need not be on each other’s friends lists, incidentally) and I’ve found that those are fantastic ways to have productive conversations with specified participants. It keeps the riff-raff out and enables the participants to stay on topic. It also lasts as long as you want them to, rather than slowly fading into obsoletion the way these blog comments do.

    These comments sections are great for interaction with the blogger, but they are *horrible* places to interact with other commenters. Especially if you happen to take a dissenting viewpoint.

    I don’t know your MindRomp handle, so if you don’t want to broadcast it here, please find me there. Handle is KacyRay

  212. hoary puccoon says

    kacyray @230–

    “Delusional paranoia” is about par for the course. Word to the wise, Sweet Pea. Slinging around terms in abnormal psychology or any other technical subject without knowing what you’re talking about may snow some people on your boat. But it isn’t going to impress anyone around here.

  213. says

    John-Henry, if you’re going to rationalize away cowardice, I suppose your comments works as well as any.

    hoary – why would you imagine yourself relevant enough to my life that I would seek to impress you? That’s some pretty serious projection.

  214. says

    Pudendom,

    I’m in.

    Interesting place. I’m not sure it would be endorsed by the commentariat here… heh. First thing that popped up on my screen was a welcome post by someone called C***. I wasn’t expecting that.

    Anyway, see you there.

  215. says

    I’ve been trying for a long time to have an actual conversation with one of you professional FTB commenters about these sorts of topics *away* from your little safe-zone here at FTB, but I never get any takers.

    In other words, you prove how brave you are by demanding to have a conversation with us in some place where we don’t feel quite as “safe?” If you have something sensible to say, how does your “bravery” prevent you from saying it here?

    kacyray, you make a fool of yourself every time you say anything here, and then you try to use childish phony machismo as a substitute for intelligence. Do you really think you’re fooling anyone here?

  216. says

    I’m sure it sounds creepy to you. Please, don’t accept my offer. In fact, you are specifically not invited.

    So kacyray boldly issues a challenge to all of us…but then, when one of us points out how bogus the challenge is, he suddenly changes his mind and starts recinding his invitation.

    Yet another immature buffoon trying to sound tough and manly, and ending up sounding ridiculous instead.

  217. hoary puccoon says

    Ooooh, “projection,” too! Why did you imagine I thought you were trying to impress me, specifically?

    For that matter, why did you assume, when so many other women are receiving rape and death threats, that I was afraid for my own, personal safety? It never occurred to you that, with all the toxic hostility being expressed on the Internet, somebody could go off the deep end and decide to act it out? Why did you jump to the conclusion that I thought I would be the victim? There are a lot of reasons to think the victim would be somebody much less obscure than I am.

    Just a suggestion–if you want to keep doing these off-the-cuff Internet psychoanalyses, you might want to get a little more solid training than reading “Sigmund Freud for Dummies.”

  218. says

    kacyray is trying to follow the same script as other Internet propagandists, most notably that famous creationist liar Salvador “Wormtongue” Cordova: waltz into FtB or SB with a pile of idiotic and/or dishonest arguments; when the arguments get cut to shreds, smugly invite one or two commenters to continue the conversation somewhere else; then start calling people cowards if they don’t oblige. We’ve seen this manipulative BS before (and Cordova did it a lot better than kacyray anyway), so don’t be surprised if no one is fooled by it.

  219. says

    I don’t know if this site provides the option of opening up forums specifically for the exclusive use of a limited number of members.

    Why would you want to do that? If you have something useful to say, wouldn’t you want it to be heard by as many people as possible? And if you’re confident that your arguments can stand on their own merits, wouldn’t you want to prove that by letting all of us respond to them?

    And if you really think we’re such a worthless bunch, then why are you here at all?

    The answer is simple, and obvious: you know damn well your arguments are crap, and the only way you can “win” an argument is by rigging the game and controlling who gets to say what. How dumb do you have to be to think we can’t see this?

  220. CerberusCheerleader says

    @dogberry
    My 2 cents:
    1. As good democrats we are taught that, when a criminal act occurs, we are to suspend our judgment until a court of law passes sentence, which we than take as fact/truth. This of course assumes that the system is working properly. If you look at the literature and the statistics you will easily see that that is not the case with rape. We have a largely dysfunctional system here, so we have a problem.
    2. Even if you don’t want to hear it: journalism doesn’t work like a court of law. Your idea that one must have enough evidence about something to be certain it’s true or one has to keep it out of the public realm is a false dichotomy. That’s not how journalism works. Rather, if you have SOME evidence (a victims testimony IS evidence) you can decide to go public and write about it and talk about it. Which is what people are doing here, AFAICT.

  221. says

    Why would you want to do that? If you have something useful to say, wouldn’t you want it to be heard by as many people as possible?

    I’ve already explained. It reduces the noise-to-substance ratio to an acceptable level. That’s the last time I’m going to explain it, as I don’t expect to to be any more effective than the first sozen times.

    And if you’re confident that your arguments can stand on their own merits, wouldn’t you want to prove that by letting all of us respond to them?

    Because, as I’ve demonstrated, it never seems to be my actual argument that gets attacked. Rather, it’s me.

    And if you really think we’re such a worthless bunch, then why are you here at all?

    My original comment, along with all the questions, was specifically and explicitly intended for the blogger. Not you or anyone else.

    Every comment I’ve made since that point has been in response to the nonsense that followed.

    And every single comment you make demonstrates why I’d like to have a discussion away from the noise. Few people in this network create as much useless noise as you do. Sally Strange might be in first place, but you pull a close second.

  222. says

    Even if you don’t want to hear it: journalism doesn’t work like a court of law. Your idea that one must have enough evidence about something to be certain it’s true or one has to keep it out of the public realm is a false dichotomy.

    If journalism DID work like a court of law, we’d never have heard jack shit about drone strikes, NSA surveillance, high-level corporate malfeasance, high-crime areas, or, for that matter, any natural disaster of which certain details were not yet firmly established. All of which, I’m sure, would be perfectly okay with those who support the status quo, but utterly disastrous for the rest of us, who need whatever information we can get to make sensible day-to-day decisions.

  223. says

    @Raging B. #241

    kacyray is trying to follow the same script as other Internet propagandists, most notably that famous creationist liar Salvador “Wormtongue” Cordova: waltz into FtB or SB with a pile of idiotic and/or dishonest arguments;

    Eh, I wonder if you’ve noticed…. I haven’t presented a single argument in this entire dialogue. I haven’t argued a single point. But don’t let that stop you from making lots of useless noise.

    when the arguments get cut to shreds, smugly invite one or two commenters to continue the conversation somewhere else;

    Ouch! My argument got cut to shreds? Gee, I wonder what conversation you were listening to. Because I haven’t argued anything at all in this thread.

    Oh, I know, I know… the whole “argument cut to shreds” line is cut and pasted from your little “handy dandy argument winner spambot” that you use to just throw out random insults and accusations right before you pick up your bingo card.

    How about you wait until I actually argue a point before sticking your fingers in your ears, closing your eyes, and declaring at the top of your lungs that I’ve lost? That’s what most folks ’round here do, anyway.

    then start calling people cowards if they don’t oblige.

    Pot, meet kettle (comment 206 – Raging Bee)

    We’ve seen this manipulative BS before (and Cordova did it a lot better than kacyray anyway), so don’t be surprised if no one is fooled by it.

    Curses! Once again I’ve failed to fool people into falling for a trap I haven’t set. And I’d have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for those Raging Bees!

  224. says

    My original comment, along with all the questions, was specifically and explicitly intended for the blogger. Not you or anyone else.

    Then you should have just emailed Jason. You don’t get to just walk uninvited into a roomful of strangers, blurt out your ignorant opinions to all in earshot, and then dictate who is or is not worthy to talk to you. When your chest-pounding temper-tantrum subsides, I suggest you go to bed, and start learning some manners in the morning.

  225. says

    First kacyray says this:

    Because, as I’ve demonstrated, it never seems to be my actual argument that gets attacked.

    And then he says this:

    I haven’t presented a single argument in this entire dialogue. I haven’t argued a single point.

    What a fucking joke.

  226. Pudendum says

    Raging Bee. He meant me. You wouldn’t like it at Mindromp anyway. You certainly don’t seem interested in any argument. Now that we are gone, you can have the last word.

  227. says

    Kacyray:
    Tbis is a blog, open to the public (limited pretty much to the people Jason approves as commenters). This is not a chat room. You post on a blog-anyone and everyone can see it. Why you feel unable to discuss what you want HERE is bizarre.
    But then I recall your endless whining of much the same thing over at Dispatches.

  228. Pteryxx says

    From Mindromp forum’s Core Values:

    Mindromp was established with the guiding principle that everyone has a voice and everyone is entitled to have their voice heard. Everyone may speak and in speaking everyone takes responsibility for what they say. Mindromp will give you a place to speak but accepts no responsibility for what you say or what is said to you. Mindromp provides tools to help you manage your forum experience. [...]

    Member Agreement:

    I am responsible for my posts, interactions and disclosures on this forum

    Any requests for admin action will be openly proposed, discussed and decided

    Admin action is limited to technical procedures, removing illegal content and spam, deleting spammers and protecting member privacy

    Admin action to protect member privacy is limited to the removal of personally identifying information

    I agree to these core values and responsibilities, and acknowledge that I may not post any messages that are in violation of the law

    So, members free to say anything at all, anything not explicitly illegal is fine, no rules about harassment or slurs, limited admin powers, and limited dedication to member privacy. Sounds like a [snark]GREAT[/snark] place to discuss harassment, rape, bullying, silencing, or any form of bigotry, compared to basically the rest of the internet.

  229. says

    In the very near future the internet will have a reputation layer based on personal networks. I will be able to see people’s assesments of each other on professional counts. There will be averages… for instance if 10 people who worked with me say I am skilled in say perl… that will be highlighted. If 120 people say the same that will make me a very popular perl person.

    People will also hack ways to add another layer. That layer will contain subjective assessments – thinks like “creepy” “manipulative”. Etc. These networks will be trusted and implicit. Not eveyone here will be admitted to my trusted network. Only actual people I trust.

    Just sayin. Now is the time to straighten your bullshit out.

  230. carlie says

    away from the noise of misleading and loaded comments.

    What an odd way to describe comments you don’t like – “noise”. You do realize you don’t have to read them all, right? Words on a page do not assail your eyes and compel you to read them. You are allowed to skip over comments you don’t want to deal with. It’s pretty easy, really.

  231. says

    ” I’m not going to just throw someone under the bus. The reason is because I wouldn’t want someone to do the same thing to me.”

    anon13- by taking the counter evidential position that the accuser is probably lying (i.e. ignoring everything we know about rape statistically speaking) (the assumption you start with) and applying your “assumption if innocence” only to Shermer – your DEFAULT position is that WOMEN LIE ABOUT RAPE. That is statistically unlikely in the EXTREME.

    Your default position should be the WOMAN is innocent until proven guilty – of lying about rape. This would be the position more closely related to reality…. The ONLY thing that would complicate this assumption would be if the man were Black…and then you have a very good reason to assume a more neutral position….given what we know about false rape accusations…which often occur when white people want to cover up their own crimes… (another can of worms)

  232. says

    @darkwater ….I am so pained by the position all this “logic” puts you in, how resolutely your story is ignored, how much the usual suspects avoid your interrogations…

    and of course, my heart breaks that this happened to you at all.

    Thank you from my core for persisting with your trenchant interrogation of the terms of the “debate”….not that it’s even a debate…

    anyway….a giant hug to you and I hope your anger is a healing fire.

  233. Pudendum says

    Hotshoe, you said, in part:
    “Having sex with a person who is too drunk to consent ( don’t have to be passed out or too drunk to talk, they just have to be too drunk to consent – and if you don’t understand what that means, think of it as about the same level as too drunk to drive, or too drunk to sign a contract) is ILLEGAL and it’s defined in criminal statutes as RAPE. It’s NOT A GREY AREA.”
    So if BOTH parties are over .08 BAC, who is being raped? Both parties?

  234. says

    Raging Bee @ 249

    BTW, kacyray, why don’t you specify exactly which of us commenters you want to argue with in a more private place, and why?

    First off, I am not seeking a “private” place to argue. That’s a dishonest characterization that has been perpetuated about me for a long time now, and thanks to guys like you who understand that if you repeat a lie long enough it becomes canonized as truth, it doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon.

    What I’ve asked for is a neutral, limited forum where I can address specific points back and forth to a specific person without distortions from OTHER people being interjected into the mix. Distortions, such as the way you’ve distorted the characterization of my offer.

    I don’t care where the forum is. What I want is for it to be isolated from incessant noise (“noise” in this context is defined as any chatter that does not contribute productively to the conversation or move it along in a forward manner).

    Secondly, I’ve already specified who I’m looking to talk to. In comment 226 I specifically extended the invitation to YOU PERSONALLY, but more broadly, I articulated that I have been wanting to get into an in-depth conversation with any one of you professional FTB commenters. The subject of the conversation would be some of the issues that I’ve personally taken with the inter-movement rift, particularly the tribal practice of assuming that everyone who does not accept everything you stand for must therefore support everything you stand against.

    I extended this invitation to YOU, and in return you’ve mischaracterized my intent, you’ve been dishonest about my motives, you’ve compared me to people I’ve never even heard of, you’ve done everything *except* demonstrate your desire to have an actual, honest conversation about these issues which you ostensibly find so important. You’ve done everything except step up to the plate.

    You do realize, don’t you, that had you accepted my invitation, you would have been free to leave at any time right? It’s not like I’m inviting you into a locked room. I invited you to a CONVERSATION, and your culture of fear has you so terrified that you won’t accept an invitation to have a conversation, with a guy whose identity is public, in a chatroom, unless ALL YOUR FRIENDS can be there too.

    Do you realize the degree of cowardice required to fit this description? That you are too damn scared to accept an invitation to a one-on-one conversation with a guy who is halfway around the world without all your virtual friends present? I mean, at this point “chickenshit” is too generous a description of your behavior.

    I’m in the Middle East, and you have the temerity to call me a coward while yourself being AFRAID TO HAVE A CONVERSATION. A real culture warrior you are. I wonder what you’re like in real life.

    You do not rate to have a conversation with me. It is clear you are not here to trade ideas, you are here to be part of the cheerleading section for your heroes. You are a disgrace to those whom you lather with adoration – at least they contribute their original content and aren’t afraid to engage people. You, on the other hand, are a mindless specter with nothing but canned snark and bingo cards. I rescind my invitation to you. You do not merit one more moment of my time.

    As for the “and why”… that was answered in comments 230, 234, and in all of the dialogue you read over at Dispatches, none of which you probably perceived accurately through your red lenses of seething rage.

    My intent and desire have always been to drill deeply into these topics, with focused, purposeful dialogue, with someone from an opposing viewpoint, in order to gain a better understanding of this issue and to maybe even gain a better understanding the opposing point of view. Oh, the shock! The horror! The inhumanity!

    I do not bear ill will against you. I have no capacity for anger or animosity towards people I don’t know (I barely have that capacity towards people I do know). I wish you well in your life. But you have demonstrated that you do not merit one more second of my attention. You really are the paragon example of everything that is wrong with the skeptic community thee days. Don’t expect me to read or respond to anything else you say. Goodbye.

  235. says

    @258

    So if BOTH parties are over .08 BAC, who is being raped? Both parties?

    According to the prevailing FTB/SC party line, I’ve been raped over and over.

    But this is a great question…. if both parties are technically unable to consent, then who is the victim and who is the aggressor? I think this belies a critical flaw in the premise.

  236. carlie says

    without distortions from OTHER people being interjected into the mix.

    Why would that matter, if you’re free to ignore anything anybody else says?

  237. says

    Carlie @261

    Why would that matter, if you’re free to ignore anything anybody else says?

    It influences the nature of the conversation. It inevitably turns what could have been a fruitful, productive, purposeful conversation into nothing but contention.

    You might find this unimaginable, but I did not come here to pick a fight. I read JT’s blog post and it provoked some thoughts in my mind. I thought that if I could engage him in some dialogue it would be interesting, but I needed some clarity on where he stood on the wider principles involve.

    Comments section like this make focused dialogue impossible. Are you seriously unable to see the difference between trying to hold a purposeful conversation in the comments section of a blog post (which will fade away from people’s attention very quickly) and trying to have a serious conversation in an environment uncontaminated by vitriol and presumptions?

    It blows my mind that anyone could imagine that a quality conversation about such a nuanced topic is possible in this environment. But not only do you seem to think it is, you actually criticize me for suggesting it isn’t!

    Have you noticed that formal debates are not held in bars or nightclubs? They are held in a formal setting where people are free to listen but must allow the principles to speak.

    It boggles the might that you and other here would take issue with my suggestion that a serious topic, which merits serious depth of discussion, might be difficult in a forum such as this.

    This comment section is good for one thing and one thing only – COMMENTING ON THE POST.

    Serious discussions can’t be held here, as you must have noticed by this point. So it only makes sense that my request for a serious discussion was accompanied by an offer to hold it at a more appropriate venue. And I’ve never made demands on exactly what that venue should be – only that it is appropriate to accommodate focused conversation.

  238. says

    Yeah, kacyray, you invited me personally — AFTER insulting me, lying about the character of this blog, and mindlessly labeling all other comments “noise” and worse, without ever specifying whose comments were “noise,” and whose were worth a response. Then you suddenly had a brain-fart or something, and couldn’t decide whether or not you had made any actual points here. Sorry I didn’t actually notice your “invitation” — it was lost in all your other noise.

    Take your “invitation” and shove it. I’m perfectly capable of making arguments here, and responding to others. There’s no need to waste my time going out of my way to a place where I only end up having a SMALLER audience, just to argue with a known lying idiot who can’t handle the big time. I made my name here, my public needs me here, they’re such a lovely audience, I’m here every day, twice on Sundays…I’ll never go back the boondocks again, not for nobody!

  239. says

    So if BOTH parties are over .08 BAC, who is being raped? Both parties?

    That might be an interesting question…if this was happening in any of the accounts being discussed here. But since none of those accounts involved mutual drunkenness, WHO CARES?!

    But this is a great question…. if both parties are technically unable to consent, then who is the victim and who is the aggressor?

    Well, generally speaking, the one who behaves most AGGRESSIVELY is considered the AGGRESSOR. Next “great question,” please…?

  240. says

    Another thing that makes this place a superior forum for debate, kacyray, is the fact that other people come here with relevant information: people familiar with the events in question, people who know the people involved, and — perhaps most importatnly — people who have personal experience of sexual assault and harassment, and who know first-hand what happens when they try to do the right thing and come forward. This input is what makes debates here worthwhile — and arguing with you in a closed forum would deprive us of such necessary information. I see no reason to consider that even intresting, let alone beneficial to anyone. But I guess that’s just me — I’m used to dealing with shitloads of information, and you, apparently, are not.

    If you want to jam your head up your ass and shut out the “noise” of reality, you can do it without my help.

  241. carlie says

    It blows my mind that anyone could imagine that a quality conversation about such a nuanced topic is possible in this environment. But not only do you seem to think it is, you actually criticize me for suggesting it isn’t!

    Yeah, because I’ve seen dozens upon dozens of important, nuanced, productive conversations happen in exactly this environment. But you, barging in for the first time, just look at it and assume no one can operate like this.

  242. says

    carlie: it’s not kacyray’s first time on FtB. Not even close. He’s been making the same stupid mistakes here for YEARS. His brain may be damaged, or he may just be a simpleminded tribalistic bigot; but he’s not new here. In fact, he’s getting very old and stale indeed.

  243. carlie says

    Thanks for the correction, Raging Bee. I’m notoriously bad at remembering and recognizing names. So he’s seen that those discussions do happen, then, and has less of an excuse to think they don’t.

  244. says

    No problem, carlie, he may be new to this particular blog, but he’s been making an ass of himself at Dispatches for much longer. He’s basically just another ‘pitter parroting all their standard complaints about “FtBullies” no matter what anyone actually says here.

  245. Pudendum says

    So if BOTH parties are over .08 BAC, who is being raped? Both parties?

    That might be an interesting question…if this was happening in any of the accounts being discussed here. But since none of those accounts involved mutual drunkenness, WHO CARES?!

    Well, Raging, I asked Hotshoe. Since it was their statement, I venture to suppose that they care.

    You keep on raging though. I find it cute.

  246. hotshoe, now with more boltcutters says

    Pudendum –

    That might be an interesting question…if this was happening in any of the accounts being discussed here. But since none of those accounts involved mutual drunkenness, WHO CARES?!

    Well, Raging, I asked Hotshoe. Since it was their statement, I venture to suppose that they care.

    You keep on raging though. I find it cute.

    Fuck you, Pudendum, and every single one of the dudebros among whose company you have earned such a dishonorable place for trying to find some possible line that will excuse you raping a drunk person. Is it rape yet? Oh, is it rape if it’s just on this side of the line? This side? Now? Is is really really rape? WHose fault is it? Is it my fault if I do this? What about if I do this other thing instead? What about if I only touch you with my elbow? Yeah, what about it?

    Fuck all of you sickening buckets of scum dressed in human skin.

  247. Pudendum says

    Fuck you, Pudendum, and every single one of the dudebros among whose company you have earned such a dishonorable place for trying to find some possible line that will excuse you raping a drunk person. Is it rape yet? Oh, is it rape if it’s just on this side of the line? This side? Now? Is is really really rape? WHose fault is it? Is it my fault if I do this? What about if I do this other thing instead? What about if I only touch you with my elbow? Yeah, what about it?

    Fuck all of you sickening buckets of scum dressed in human skin.

    Your affection is misplaced, I don’t really even like you. I mean, I don’t dislike you, but I don’t like you.
    You are a shining example of FtB rationalism. Once again though, I asked Hotshoe, not you. Why don’t you save your brilliance for someone who wants to talk to you?

  248. hotshoe, now with more boltcutters says

    Hey, look at that. One of the pitty scumsuckers so blinded by xis prejudices that xe can’t even read. Literally cannot read who replied to xis question.

    Says a lot about the pitty scumsucker’s commitment to “rationality” or “dialog” or “logical argument” or whatever xis current stick that xe wishes xe could beat FtB with. Says it all, really.

    Hey, Pudendum, you dogdamned willful idiot. You deserve all outright hatred you get.

  249. Pudendum says

    Your condescending attitude and siezing of the minutia have changed my mind.

    I think I have learned a lot about you from this post.

  250. says

    Yah, let’s talk about trust. For the victim to give up autonomy and fail short of reporting it to the police (I don’t care what the statistics are and how much of a headache it would have been) and then give up his/her rights to have a trusted colleague post the accused name for all and sundry just threw any hope of handling it legally. Because, if you truly want to put a rapist; you report it to the proper authorities, create a paper trial a mile long and then you create a series of restraining orders from each victim of assault. However, any hope of justice in a court of law is flushed down the toilet, because the incident(s) is now on the internet for all and sundry to make a mockery out of. Rape or sexual assault is to be taken very seriously and that means you don’t post names on the internet! You encourage the victim to go to the police, because posting names on the internet becomes admissible in a court of law. I’m very disappointed in how poorly this was handled.

  251. hotshoe, now with more boltcutters says

    Breathe, Laura. Breathe; you’ll pass out if you don’t.

    And in that whole mess you spit out, only one true thing:

    I don’t care what the statistics are and how much of a headache it would have been

    Yes, we know you don’t care. We know you don’t care a whit about the woman – who might be your sister, your cousin, your daughter, your mother, or even you sometime. All you care about is your opinion of “how this was handled”.

    Bless your heart.

  252. Skeptic Dude says

    It’s evident how disconnected from being human nerds have become. The Internet bridging the socially awkward with ‘social media’ has gotten nerds from their parents basements.

    “Humans are social animals”, .. wow.. very astute qualification you make. Unfortunately nerds don’t seem to be.

    Rape is serious shit. People get killed over accusations of it. If you are raped and don’t go to the police, you don’t lose any sympathy from me.. I feel for you deeply. But in my view you do lose the right to accuse that person in the future of it! You chose to not confront the issue at the time it happened, .. so the ability to concretely prove the act has gone. .. then we cannot distinguish the truth in any meaningful way.

    .. and this notion that refilling someones wine glass is somehow wrong, is OBSCENE! Perhaps Shermer is socially awkward himself, and this is his technique in socializing. Maybe he even intends on getting a woman drunk so she may be more receptive to his sexual advances. But equating that with date rape, or some act of a sexual predator.. OMG !

    Men are dipshits. But I think the skeptic community is less representative of aggressive males than would be the average population. The impression feminist skeptics are giving about conferences is absolutely a fabrication. When I read accounts of rape / sexual assault that are given at these conferences, I’m astounded. Did these people not go through highschool? Did they never flirt, date .. or maybe even go to an adults-only establishment where alcohol is served?

    Rape happens, intimidation happens. But if we used the perspective of these skeptic women to define those 2 things.. 1/2 the male population would be imprisoned on the overdramatic recounts of women who are ultimately lying for some alternative purpose. (maybe attention?)

  253. Micah says

    I think I might want some evidence to back up these claims… Maybe because people are already trying to carry out sentencing on Shermer… Quick someone ban me!

  254. says

    Latecomers who still fail to grok how “innocent til proven guilty” actually plays into this might like to read this post instead. Especially since I said right in the text of the post that it’s grossly unlikely he’ll see a courtroom over these allegations, despite the fact that he may see a courtroom over getting these allegations squelched.

  255. Jacob Schmidt says

    Rape is serious shit. People get killed over accusations of it. If you are raped and don’t go to the police, you don’t lose any sympathy from me.. I feel for you deeply. But in my view you do lose the right to accuse that person in the future of it! You chose to not confront the issue at the time it happened, .. so the ability to concretely prove the act has gone. .. then we cannot distinguish the truth in any meaningful way.

    Wait for it…

    Men are dipshits. But I think the skeptic community is less representative of aggressive males than would be the average population.

    Waaaiiiit for it….

    Rape happens, intimidation happens. But if we used the perspective of these skeptic women to define those 2 things.. 1/2 the male population would be imprisoned on the overdramatic recounts of women who are ultimately lying for some alternative purpose. (maybe attention?)

    Did you know making ridiculous rationalisations, being sexist against men, and being sexist against women are all corrolated?*

    1) No, at no time does a victim lose the right to take action about his or her victimization. That doesn’t even make sense.

    2) “Bitches be lyin’ (for attention!)” is hardly a convincing argument.

    * Sexism against either gender is actually shown to be corrolated with sexism against the other.

  256. blackbook668 says

    There are two things I don’t like about this situation

    1. The repercussions for Shermer if innocent/witch hunt
    I think people should really do some research about exactly what that term means. The post mentions that people will be wary of him from now on. Well that is kind of the point of a witch hunt – to outcast people as undesirables. Why are people perfectly fine with this?

    2. You’re a rape apologist if you think this isn’t being handled right
    People like this do no favour to actual victims. In fact I’d say such people are in the way of people who have suffered this crime from getting justice. This image you’re presenting by accusing anyone who dares question the way in which you deal with this crime (and I’m talking about how Myers dealt with it here) is one of hysteria and people don’t take that seriously. What’d be better was if people actually made a focused effort to get in touch and make aware this issue to those who really have power to change things rather than this blogging which only serves to sensationalise the whole case.

  257. Milo Minderbinder says

    First the caveats: I have no skin in this game. I could just as easily believe M. Shermer is a rapist as I could believe P. Myers diddles little boys in men’s rooms as I could believe all feminists can bend spoons with the power of their minds. It doesn’t affect me personally.
    This case has quickly become a benchmark for where feminism and skepticism diverge and become incompatible. And this article and accompanying discussion is a fine example of that, with some skeptics rushing to toss out reason, the scientific method and principles of jurisprudence, presumably in order to show solidarity with feminist cohorts. From the language and tone of the discussion, this is certainly the impression that is given. As a skeptic, one is supposed to determine truth from evidence and, if possible, test hyphotheses based upon what we think we observe to be true. Practicing this method is essential to wearing the label. In this case, an accusation comes from an unnamed accuser in a text message posted on a website. I don’t know that this person actually exists, or if it is actually a fictitious character (-1). The accusation is that M. Shermer raped the person and this person didn’t report it to the police. This seems to be the point where many skeptics start to smell a rat, because if you witness a crime, or indeed, are a victim of a crime, there is a duty to report it to the police. That’s how society deals with crimes and criminals. If one chooses not to participate in society, one can’t really complain about the rampant criminality that results from one’s inaction. And I can’t help but feel some small piece of moral ground is lost here, if the story is true (-1). But let’s ignore the niggling skeptical demon on my shoulder and take the accuser at her word for the moment. The reason the accuser gives for not reporting the assault is that she was intimidated by legal process or M. Shermer or both. Some argue this is a reasonable explanation. I’ve never been in this situation, so can’t assign a likelihood here (+/-?). (Side note: I notice someone posted a statistic from the Toronto police which reports only 6% of sexual assaults are reported. This is, on its face, absolutely ridiculous since the actual number can’t, by definition, be known. They might as well have reported 0.00006%, or some other number fished out of an anus. Really, if 94% of people do not report sexual assaults to the authorities, then we might as well give up and legalize it, because the law isn’t doing anyone any good. The author, of course, throws in his anally-derived statistics as well: ~6% of false rape reports… Most rapes… most assaults… most harrassment… CITATIONS PLEASE. (And he wonders why people are using the term ‘witch-hunt’? Maybe it’s that witch-hunty aroma in the air from all the BS statistics and concealed accusers and witnesses…))
    So now we only have P. Myers’ word (and let’s not forget Jane Doe!) that this person’s word is good and true, the assault happened as described, and now it is past time to do anything about it legally. Why? Are we to assume a statute of limitations is in effect? Most states in the U.S. have statutes of limitations for Class B felonies as 7-15 years and Class A felonies (depending on the type of rape) as having 15+ to no statute of limitations. Again, we only have the claim by someone who is, presumably, not a lawyer or legal scholar (-1). How do I know that time has run out, and more importantly why does it matter? Why come forward now? Did these people not even consider the nature of the audience to which they were directing their accusation? Yes, this is serious business. We are willing to take you seriously, but we require proof. We believe in laws. Rape and sexual assault are legal terms and are adjudicated in courts of law. And no amount of additional hearsay from other mystery persons or other cases affects the facts of the one in question.
    And here is the crux of the biscuit:
    I, like a good skeptic, suspended judgment, seeking out more information. But I kept running into the same repeating theme on all the standard blogs and boards – you either believe the accuser or you don’t, but the latter makes you some sort of rapist sympathizer. I don’t yet have an opinion on whether or not Shermer is a skeevy pervert and rapist. But some of you do, and they appear to me to be clumsily devoid of evidence I would deem acceptable under the circumstances. And so, instead, I have formed an opinion about you.
    Call Michael Shermer a rapist if you like, absent of compelling evidence, but don’t call yourselves skeptics in the process, at least not while I’m in the room. Because, unlike the character in our story, I’ll call you on it.

  258. evilreligion says

    Milo Mind bender has summed up this situation perfectly.
    I have no idea whether Shermer is a rapist because I have yet to see any evidence that supports this claim. Present the evidence, make the case and then we can make up our minds or rather the courts can make up their minds.

    No sceptic should have an opinion either way on this matter because the evidence presented is simply not strong enough to reach a conclusion.

  259. says

    Hello late-comers! The post you clicked on to get here, Greta’s post on unnamed sources, actually outlines the multiple accounts presented (and links to my timeline, where you can go to the originals). Therefore, you clicked through Greta’s post onto mine to post your load about it being a single account presented with no evidence.

    Protip: it’s not a single person, and it’s not hearsay. Hearsay is when I report that you read PZ’s post about it. The words you read were the alleged victim’s, and PZ knows her identity, so his post is not hearsay. Nor are the rest of the firsthand accounts that corroborate it.

  260. Fern says

    ericyoungstrom @291 (and others who have made similar claims about hearsay):

    Here say [sic] is not evidence.

    Actually, yes, it is. It is generally considered inadmissible evidence in court proceedings, unless it falls under under one of the many exceptions to the prohibition against hearsay. There are also legal proceedings, such as administrative hearings, in which any type of hearsay is admissible as evidence.

    However, the admissibility of hearsay evidence is not really relevant here, because, as has been repeated ad nauseam, this is not a legal proceeding.

  261. says

    OK again, has any of these alleged victims of rape come forward and gone to the police? Don’t bother to answer because they have not, but they sure as $#!+ post about on blogs (or get other more prominent blogs to do so for them)… OR they complain to some people running a convention and when the alleged victim is turned away or brushed off (I highly doubt that IF it did go down as blogged about) why would you not immediately go to the police? WHY!?

    I can only speak for myself here but if I was sexually assaulted or raped by anyone, famous Atheists aside, I would swallow my pride and go to the police. I wouldn’t go to other bloggers or blog about it before hand.

    Seriously am I missing something here? Why has the FACT that none of these women have gone to the police? Is Shermer a scary guy with a goon squad of enforcers? Does he have the police and the mayor in his back pocket? I am not playing some game here, I am not a “rape apologist”. Rape is a horrible and violent act where it happens to men or women and should be treated as a serious accusation. That being said when you go other sources that are not the police 1st or in this case NOT go to the police at all. It smacks of being disingenuous.

  262. Fern says

    ericyoungstrom @295:

    I can only speak for myself here but if I was sexually assaulted or raped by anyone, famous Atheists aside, I would swallow my pride and go to the police.

    And that’s great. I would fully support you in going to the police. When I was assaulted, I went to the police. I wish that we lived in a world where all sexual assault victims felt empowered to go to the police.

    However, I, unlike you, have long aware of the many compelling reasons why sexual assault victims choose not to go to the police (a tiny sampling of which are provided in the previous comments). And, having that knowledge, I do not consider whether or not someone goes to the police to be a reliable indicator of their credibility on this issue.

    Also, it’s all well and good for you to declare that you would swallow your pride and go to the police if you were sexually assaulted. But it sounds from your posts like you have never been in that situation. You might well make a different decision if this were reality rather than hypothetical.

  263. says

    @ 296, huh so fear of NOT being believed by the police? I guess we HAVE to believe them then by default, right?

    @ 297, So what is your solution then Jason, do we storm Shermers house? How about we just go castrate him? On WORDS ALONE! We have a legal system I highly encourage all of you to utilize it. It may not be perfect but it is better than this mob mentality I see all over the internet.

    @ 298, By my posts you can assess that I have never been sexually assaulted? So my uncle molesting me when I was 3 was all a lie by my family I guess. That you for clearing that up for me.

    And to the rest of you I leave with a quote….

    “That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.”

    ― Christopher Hitchens

  264. Fern says

    ericyoungstrom @299:

    @ 298, By my posts you can assess that I have never been sexually assaulted? So my uncle molesting me when I was 3 was all a lie by my family I guess. That you for clearing that up for me.

    I’m sorry that you went through that. Based on the phrasing in your previous post, it sounded to me like you were speaking purely hypothetically, but I apologize for my mistake.

  265. says

    @ericyoungstrom:

    @ 296, huh so fear of NOT being believed by the police? I guess we HAVE to believe them then by default, right?

    You don’t have to do anything. But rape is distressingly common, while false rape accusations are vanishingly rare. So playing the odds, it’s more likely that the victim is telling the truth than not.

    @ 297, So what is your solution then Jason, do we storm Shermers house? How about we just go castrate him? On WORDS ALONE! We have a legal system I highly encourage all of you to utilize it. It may not be perfect but it is better than this mob mentality I see all over the internet.

    God, are you really this dumb, or are you play-acting? Here’s the solution, asshole: we get the word out. We warn people about the potential danger. This is not a courtroom. This is not a trial. This is not a mob. No one is advocating any action against Shermer right now beyond goddamn fucking words.

    That legal system? Broken and fucked-up and not the panacea that you and every other one of the people who’s blundered in over the last week to make the same asinine points you’re making here seem to think it is, allows for people to talk to each other without filing any charges or reaching a verdict.

    Or, to put it more analogously, let’s say I have a friend. We get a little too drunk, and he picks a fight with me over some stupid bullshit. We duke it out, and I get the worst of it. In the cold, sober light of morning, I decide not to file assault charges–which is, you know, perfectly within my rights under the legal system–but I warn my other friends “hey, you know that guy? He’s kind of a belligerent drunk. Just watch out, okay?”

    That’s what’s going on here. No one getting castrated, no one getting lynched, no one getting thrown in jail, just people warning each other about a guy that you don’t want to get drunk around.

    Why, why, why, is that so hard for people to understand?

    @ 298, By my posts you can assess that I have never been sexually assaulted? So my uncle molesting me when I was 3 was all a lie by my family I guess. That you for clearing that up for me.

    That’s pretty terrible, and I’m sorry to hear about it.

    Notice what I didn’t do there?

    And to the rest of you I leave with a quote….

    “That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.”

    ― Christopher Hitchens

    So a victim’s testimony isn’t evidence? Good to know. Would it be evidence if she had four male witnesses?

  266. hotshoe, now with more boltcutters says

    ericyoungstrom –
    When did you go to the police about your rape? Obviously, you didn’t personally when you were 3. Did your family press charges on your behalf against the uncle when you were 3? Later? What consequences did they suffer for airing the family’s “dirty laundry” in public? What punishment did the uncle get? Jail? A slap on the wrist? None? Was the legal system perfect in your case? Was it better than nothing, or worse than nothing? Did your family wish they could simply warn other families to avoid the rapist uncle without having to bring your name into it? Did your family wish that they could just keep you safe in the future without reliving the trauma?

    What I really don’t understand is why someone who has already survived a sexual assault would be so horribly hostile to the survivor of a different sexual assault. Why didn’t your experience teach you any empathy? Why are you angry at the possible victims and not angry at the possible assailant Shermer? Why?

  267. Pudendum says

    Oh look, what a shock! The ravens lunge at the easy targets while ignoring the careful, thoughtful post of Milo Minderbinder.

    Thank you for your contribution, Milo Minderbinder.

  268. hotshoe, now with more boltcutters says

    Oh look, what a shock! The ravens lunge at the easy targets while ignoring the careful, thoughtful post of Milo Minderbinder.

    Thank you for your contribution, Milo Minderbinder.

    Go fuck yourself sideways, slimey rapist-fellating fake-skeptic lying Pudendum.

  269. says

    Oh look, people don’t want to read a wall of unbroken text that makes the same dumb arguments as every other asinine troll, throws out the same bullshit conspiracy theories as though they were more reasonable than believing something more common than left-handedness, and asks for citations for figures that have been cited up and down in every other post in this conversation.

    And surprise surprise, mental giant Pudendum thinks that constitutes “thoughtful”ness.

    Let’s see if I can fisk the big points in ten minutes:

    First the caveats: I have no skin in this game. I could just as easily believe M. Shermer is a rapist as I could believe P. Myers diddles little boys in men’s rooms as I could believe all feminists can bend spoons with the power of their minds. It doesn’t affect me personally.

    Rape, child molestation, and telekinesis. ♫ One of these things is not like the other. ♫

    Hint 1: One of these things has actually been claimed. A different one of these things is an extraordinary claim. This means there are two possible answers!

    This case has quickly become a benchmark for where feminism and skepticism diverge and become incompatible.

    Yeah, no.

    And this article and accompanying discussion is a fine example of that, with some skeptics rushing to toss out reason, the scientific method and principles of jurisprudence, presumably in order to show solidarity with feminist cohorts.

    No, we’re working from the evidence and the statistical probabilities to come to a conclusion. I know that’s a shocking notion to you, with your oh-so-skeptical ad hominem there.

    Practicing this method is essential to wearing the label.

    Oh, bollocks. Even if provisionally accepting the claims of Shermer’s wrongdoing weren’t a skeptical position, there are a whole slew of global warming “skeptics” and 9/11 “skeptics” out there who wear the label without practicing the method. Shockingly enough, there’s no skeptical licensing bureau, which is probably why there’s so many “skeptics” who believe that corporations would just make businesses handicap-accessible without any prodding from the government.

    In this case, an accusation comes from an unnamed accuser in a text message posted on a website. I don’t know that this person actually exists, or if it is actually a fictitious character (-1).

    So the “skeptical” position is to assume that PZ concocted a conspiracy, bringing in (or inventing) several other people to make corroborating statements, possibly going so far as to spread rumors for several years in the speaker grapevine, all for this long-game that will result in Shermer…what, losing a little prestige? And they did this knowing full well that Shermer could successfully sue for libel if there was any evidence that they knew the allegation was false?

    Or is the skeptical position just to assume that that scenario has the same plausibility as “PZ relayed a story from someone he trusts and vetted”?

    The accusation is that M. Shermer raped the person and this person didn’t report it to the police. This seems to be the point where many skeptics start to smell a rat, because if you witness a crime, or indeed, are a victim of a crime, there is a duty to report it to the police.

    Answered repeatedly, over and over, and simply false. No, if you are the victim of a crime, you do not have a “duty” to report it, and you certainly are under no obligation to file charges.

    Also, you seem to have missed where the victim reported it to the officials of the convention, and they brushed her off.

    If one chooses not to participate in society, one can’t really complain about the rampant criminality that results from one’s inaction.

    The criminality, as it turns out, exists at much the same rates regardless of action or inaction. a shockingly small minority of rapists will ever serve a day in prison. And given that thousands of rape kits are sitting on shelves, untested, sometimes for decades, I think it’s kind of crass to blame the victims for the rampant criminality.

    It’s also kind of hilarious, since the target of all this is a Randroid libertarian. Love that government as long as it’s working for you, right?

    But let’s ignore the niggling skeptical demon on my shoulder and take the accuser at her word for the moment. The reason the accuser gives for not reporting the assault is that she was intimidated by legal process or M. Shermer or both.

    Not sure where you’re getting that, since the victim never gave a reason for not reporting the assault to the police. But making up things is totes skeptical I guess!

    Some argue this is a reasonable explanation. I’ve never been in this situation, so can’t assign a likelihood here (+/-?). (Side note: I notice someone posted a statistic from the Toronto police which reports only 6% of sexual assaults are reported. This is, on its face, absolutely ridiculous since the actual number can’t, by definition, be known. They might as well have reported 0.00006%, or some other number fished out of an anus. Really, if 94% of people do not report sexual assaults to the authorities, then we might as well give up and legalize it, because the law isn’t doing anyone any good. The author, of course, throws in his anally-derived statistics as well: ~6% of false rape reports… Most rapes… most assaults… most harrassment… CITATIONS PLEASE. (And he wonders why people are using the term ‘witch-hunt’? Maybe it’s that witch-hunty aroma in the air from all the BS statistics and concealed accusers and witnesses…))

    It’s funny that you ask for citations when you’re citing a figure from someone and couldn’t bother to link. But since you can’t be bothered to follow the links that have been provided all over this conversation, here you go:
    RAINN: About 46% of rapes get reported to police.
    Yes Means Yes: Recent study shows false rape accusations make up 5.9% of rape accusations
    Wikipedia: references for a variety of studies on false rape accusations, with the most rigorous studies all falling in the 2-9% range (of particular note is the Crown Prosecution Service report that goes into more detail about the people making false claims, and the substance of them)
    Meet the Predators and Predator Redux, discussing studies that determine details about who rapes and how, independently corroborating the 1 in 6 figure for women’s likelihood of being raped at some point in their lives.

    So now we only have P. Myers’ word (and let’s not forget Jane Doe!) that this person’s word is good and true, the assault happened as described, and now it is past time to do anything about it legally.

    Well, no, we have PZ’s word, and Carrie Poppy’s word, and the word of the independent witness that PZ quoted, and the word of delphi_ote on the JREF forums, and others corroborating Shermer’s methods and general creepitude. Skepticism apparently means ignoring relevant evidence, who knew?

    Why? Are we to assume a statute of limitations is in effect? Most states in the U.S. have statutes of limitations for Class B felonies as 7-15 years and Class A felonies (depending on the type of rape) as having 15+ to no statute of limitations.

    Yes, a statute of limitations is the only possible reason that it might be hard to bring charges against someone for raping you while you were too drunk immediately after the fact, let alone several years in the past. Skepticism apparently means considering only the laws and not the actual way things function in reality!

    I, like a good skeptic, suspended judgment,

    Yes, thinking that this person might be totally made up was totally suspending judgment!

    I don’t yet have an opinion on whether or not Shermer is a skeevy pervert and rapist. But some of you do, and they appear to me to be clumsily devoid of evidence I would deem acceptable under the circumstances.

    A victim’s testimony with independent corroboration is not acceptable evidence! Skepticism!

    And so, instead, I have formed an opinion about you.
    Call Michael Shermer a rapist if you like, absent of compelling evidence, but don’t call yourselves skeptics in the process, at least not while I’m in the room. Because, unlike the character in our story, I’ll call you on it.

    Go fuck yourself! Skepticism!

  270. hotshoe, now with more boltcutters says

    Thanks, Tom Foss.

    Unlike Milo Milobinder’s comment, your reply is actually worth reading.

  271. says

    @ 301 “So a victim’s testimony isn’t evidence? Good to know. Would it be evidence if she had four male witnesses?”

    Uhhhh NEWS FLASH ASSHOLE!!!!!!!

    The quote unquote “victims” have not provided an actual testimony. THAT would require them going to the police! Seriously how clueless are you all of the legal system in place?

  272. says

    Oh and TOM, does the “fact” that rape is distressingly common, while false rape accusations are vanishingly rare. Does this make the women’s accusations any more true on WORDS ALONE. This is STILL all on the internet and until one of them grows a backbone and DOES the right thing it will only be words.

  273. hotshoe, now with more boltcutters says

    Ericyoungstrom, you’re a hypocrite. You’re going to rant on and on about how those women can’t be believed unless they go to the police. And yet, you expect us to believe you about the sexual assault you suffered when you never went to the police and the only evidence we have is your WORDS ALONE.

    Hypocrite. You’re filth.

    Oh, and yes, I do still believe you when you say you were raped. That’s because I’m not a filthy hypocrite like you.

  274. says

    Ericyoungstrom:

    ANARCHY! Let’s just kill anyone that we think is guilty of crimes….. Why bother with evidence and due process!

    Blatantly obvious strawman that bears absolutely no resemblance to anything anyone has argued: SKEPTICISM!

    The quote unquote “victims” have not provided an actual testimony. THAT would require them going to the police!

    Irrelevant hair-splitting: SKEPTICISM!

    Let me lay it out for you really slow, brainiac:
    1. The legal system is no friend to rape victims.
    2. A rape victim is under no obligation under the law to press charges.
    3. Declining to press charges over a rape is not evidence that the rape did not occur.
    4. Declining to press charges over a rape does not obviate a victim’s ability to tell others about their experience.
    5. Due process is not a prerequisite to forming an opinion about whether or not a person committed crimes, and in fact, is not really relevant to the point. There are lots of people who think OJ Simpson and George Zimmerman are murderers, that Jenny McCarthy is recklessly endangering lives, and that Dick Cheney is a war criminal, despite the court verdicts (or lack thereof) with regard to those crimes.

    Oh and TOM, does the “fact” that rape is distressingly common, while false rape accusations are vanishingly rare. Does this make the women’s accusations any more true on WORDS ALONE. This is STILL all on the internet and until one of them grows a backbone and DOES the right thing it will only be words.

    So if a rapist doesn’t leave physical evidence, the rape didn’t happen? Or are you just arguing that date rape isn’t legitimate rape? Because “growing a backbone” (and fuck you very much for your condescenscion, jackass. Talk to a rape victim for ten minutes and see how much “backbone” they lack) wouldn’t make physical evidence magically fucking appear out of thin air. A statement to the police and testimony in court are also “WORDS ALONE,” and people do sometimes get convicted on those words. Not often, but sometimes. “WORDS ALONE” in a witness box don’t magically transmute into physical evidence either, dipshit.

    But here’s the thing: you’re acting as if “I was raped” is an extraordinary claim. It’s not. That’s why the point of mentioning the commonality of rape zoomed right over your head. We live every day of our lives believing ordinary claims on “WORDS ALONE.” Or do you feel the need to check every time you see a “wet floor” or “out of order” sign? If a friend says “man, I think I lost my pen,” do you respond with “IF YOU DON’T REPORT IT MISSING TO THE POLICE, I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU, WUSS”? Do you demand physical evidence if someone tells you they’re left-handed?

    If so, congratulations on being totally consistent and also a massive douchenozzle. But I suspect the truth is that you don’t apply this Extreme “More than Words” approach to common everyday things. You just don’t see rape as one of those everyday things, which has more to do with your insulation from reality (judging by this recent post, a willful insulation) than any kind of skeptical analysis.

    About 10% of women are left-handed. About 17% are victims of attempted or completed rape in their lives. Which one do you require more evidence to believe?

    hotshoe:

    Ericyoungstrom, you’re a hypocrite. You’re going to rant on and on about how those women can’t be believed unless they go to the police. And yet, you expect us to believe you about the sexual assault you suffered when you never went to the police and the only evidence we have is your WORDS ALONE.

    Moreover, no one here has doubted his claim to being molested by his uncle as a child. No one has suggested that it didn’t happen, no one has demanded physical evidence. Everyone here, even you when you asked him to try to consider how his experience might be relevant to his asinine questions, has believed him on his word alone, with no knowledge of whether or not his uncle faced due process or was found guilty, and yet none of us have tried to go searching for his uncle to lynch/castrate/burn him at the stake. It’s almost as if his hyperbolic arguments about what terrible things would happen if we just took victims at their word have been summarily refuted by his own experience here in this thread.

    But I suspect that his head is buried too deeply in the ground to consider that.

  275. Patricia says

    I am baffled as to why you put so much trust in PZ Myers. He hasn’t done much in the last year or so to justify that. He has repeatedly shown to be out to squelch any dissenting voice, even though he claims to support free speech. In other words: he’s a hypocryte, and quite an egregious and tyrannical one at that.

    I, for one, am very willing to believe that Myers simply made this all up so he can make life miserable for Shermers. Myers’ action of late in other aspects make that a very likely proposition.

  276. evilreligion says

    What is happening here?
    Have people just gone insane and left their sceptism behind?

    I can easily find you 10, 20, or 100 theists who will swear blind that they have personally witnessed or felt the presence of God. Their personal testamony does not mean shit. Unless you know the person well and have a wealth of past evidence as to their truthfulness then it does not really matter what they claim. It does not count as evidence.

    If PZ Myers knows the people that made these claims and judges them to be trust worthy then sure I guess he has some justification for believing their claims. If you are one of the people here that knows PZ Myers personally and judge him to be trust worthy then sure you may have, to a lesser degree, some justification in believing these claims.

    If you know neither PZ or the alledged victims personally then you believing these claims is just the same as believing a theist about their personal account of how God spoke to them. Actually that’s not quite fair as claims about God are fair more extraordinary than rape claims. We know rape exists and it is possible that shermer is a rapist. A closer analogy would be someone claiming that they have witnesses that have seen Barrack Obama visiting gay massage parlours and gay bars in the past and is thus secretly gay. I use this as an example because PPSimmons is making exactly such a claim in one of his videos. We know that “being gay” is a real phenommona and we know that it is possible that Obama is gay BUT we only have some guy on the internet’s word that he trusts these anonoymous witnesses accounts of Obama past activity in the Chicago gay scene.

    Unless you actually know the people involved and have experience of their trust worthiness then there is no evidence either way. As the person making the claim bares the burden of proof, the ONLY response a sceptic should have in both cases is “I will suspend judgement until the evidence is presented” if you claim either “No Shermer is innocent” OR “Shermer is guilty” then you are making an irrational claim based on emotion. No evidence has been presented yet therefore no opinion can, or should be ventured.

  277. says

    Fascinating.

    So if we actually lean on balance of probability toward Shermer being guilty, on the weight of the multiple accounts describing the same behaviour and on the weight of the statistics of false rape cases, that means we’re not reserving judgment?

    I think someone here is guilty of binary thinking, but I don’t think it’s the people saying that on balance of probability, they believe the allegations. I think it might, MIGHT, be the people claiming that we’re saying that Shermer is definitely a rapist and should be vigilante-justiced.

  278. says

    evilreligion @313:

    I can easily find you 10, 20, or 100 theists who will swear blind that they have personally witnessed or felt the presence of God.

    So you’re equating rape claims with god claims. Unfortunately, we have tons of evidence for the former.

    And the claim itself is evidence. You’re free to reject the conclusion based on the idea that there’s not enough evidence, but to state that the claim isn’t evidence at all (“No evidence has been presented…”) means we need to completely retool our police and court system.

  279. hotshoe, now with more boltcutters says

    I, for one, am very willing to believe that Myers simply made this all up so he can make life miserable for Shermers. Myers’ action of late in other aspects make that a very likely proposition.

    And you, for one, are as irrational as any Bigfoot-believer. Why on Earth would PZ Myers put his whole financial future on the line just so he might “make life miserable for Shermer” ?? PZ Myers doesn’t hate Shermer; had only one tiny disagreement with him; previously had much much fiercer public disagreements with other men while NOT accusing those other men of rape – why would PZ start inventing rape accusations now, and especially why start with Shermer whom he actually got along with ??

    You’re an idiot if you’re actually willing to believe that, and you’re a pointless troll if you don’t actually believe it but are just spouting off to show how much little you think of PZ Myers.

    In either case, feel free to fuck off to the Slymepit to receive your medal.

  280. Patricia says

    Hotshoe, there is a very simple reason why Myers would pull a stunt like that on Shermer on anybody else: Myers is a narcissistic nutcase, who wallows in his own self-righteousness. The man has shown time and time again to be beyond any reason. I, for one, am not prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt after all he’s pulled over the last year. If there is anybody deserving to receive “slymepit medals”, it’s Myers and his ilk.

  281. says

    Patricia: does that mean that the numerous people establishing a pattern of behaviour in Michael Shermer are ALSO “narcissistic nutcases wallowing in their own self-righteousness”?

    Isn’t that assuming that many people are wrong just so you don’t have to assume one person is wrong?

    Isn’t that really, really poor skepticism? Just apply Occam’s Razor.

  282. Mark R says

    Jason, I find one statement you made particularly troubling:

    “The entire concept of morality is based on trying to improve humanity’s lot without inflicting undue suffering on its members.”

    The reason your statement is so telling is that you seem to be defining morality like it was some sort of social program or social movement. Improving humanity’s lot is not the aim of morality, because morality is not a philosophy or a movement. Morality is a code of conduct that considers whether actions are considered “right”. Another way of looking at it is that morality is a system of determining whether particular acts are right or wrong based on whether those acts are harmful, neutral, or beneficial to others.

    That you consider morality to be some sort of social program may be part of the reason there is such a schism created by the revelations made by Mr. Myers recently. Having read blogs and watched videos and waded into the cesspool of blogs in the skeptic community, I have been struck by several very UN skeptical statements, attitudes and actions. One of the criticisms that I have seen levelled at “your side” is that you are making moral judgments about people based on their opinons regardless of how well-reasoned they are. I find that to be justified in many instances. I have found too many instances to count of people accusing detractors of being “pro-rape”, or just plain old misogynists. Its been pointed out by better than I that, “If you disagree with me you are a bad person,” type arguments are typical of religions and have no place in a skeptical movement.

    I do applaud you for recognizing the fact that there are naunces in human interaction. If this woman is telling the truth (assuming there is a woman, assuming she’s capable of knowing what the truth is, assuming…so much), then it might boil down to a he-said, she-said situation which would never be resolved. Even when deciding on a rape, a jury has to decide whether a person consented, and also whether they were reasonably able to consent depending on the context. She could be so drunk she’s out of her mind, but still consents verbally. Now we have to decided if “out of her mind” drunk is the same as “unable to consent” drunk, regardless of what her lips may have said. It is possible to verbally consent and not be legally able to consent (as in the case of statutory rape, for example).

    But I have to take you to task. You were falsely accused of rape, but you have no idea what a false accusation of rape can do to a grown man’s reputation–even if law enforcement didn’t get involved. As a 16 year old you had to worry about going to jail. Mr. Shermer has family and relationships that could be harmed. He has a career that will most certainly suffer–not to mention the fact that (I’m serious, here) he will most likely lose out on relationships and liasons which won’t take place because he’s been branded by “your side” as a predator.

    Is his reputation more important than the safety of women? No. But the fact remains that a responsible human being living in a civil society has a certain moral responsibilty to ask whether his/her actions will cause unnecessary harm to someone else. They, have, therefore a certain responsibility to report such claims carefully in the hopes of both warning women of a potential danger, and of protecting the reputation of the accused.

    Mr. Myers, by any rational judgment, was irresponsible–not because he posted the information–but because he didn’t vet it properly (or, at all), and also for making the obvious judgment that Mr. Shermer is guilty. He not only provides the information without question, he also vouches for the accuser with the clear intent of persuading the reader of Shermer’s guilt. This is, in my opinion, very irresponsible and–yes, I’ll say it–immoral behavior.

  283. hotshoe, now with more boltcutters says

    I do applaud you for recognizing the fact that there are naunces in human interaction. If this woman is telling the truth (assuming there is a woman, assuming she’s capable of knowing what the truth is, assuming…so much), then it might boil down to a he-said, she-said situation which would never be resolved. Even when deciding on a rape, a jury has to decide whether a person consented, and also whether they were reasonably able to consent depending on the context. She could be so drunk she’s out of her mind, but still consents verbally. Now we have to decided if “out of her mind” drunk is the same as “unable to consent” drunk, regardless of what her lips may have said. It is possible to verbally consent and not be legally able to consent (as in the case of statutory rape, for example).

    Yet another dude who is too stupid to understand that this is not a trial and that we are not a jury who has to decide beyond a reasonable doubt that Shermer was guilty of a specific crime and therefore must be deprived of his liberty by the power of the state.

    Goddamn, don’t you guys ever read the crap your fellow dudes have already posted and which has already been refuted 2000 times? No, of course not, because you are just too too special for that.

    Is his reputation more important than the safety of women? No.

    No, then full stop.
    Good, you agree with the moral people who refuse to put Shermer’s reputation before actual harm to living beings.

    But the fact remains that a responsible human being living in a civil society has a certain moral responsibilty to ask whether his/her actions will cause unnecessary harm to someone else.

    Then why the fuck are you not over at Shermer’s place telling HIM to ask himself whether his actions (confirmed by multiple independent sources, by the way) of deliberately getting women drunk will cause unnecessary harm? Go tell him to fucking cut that shit out. Yes, it’s a fact that he has a moral responsibility, so go tell him that!
    Why the fuck are you here? What on gourd’s green Earth do you expect to gain by scolding us when you should be scolding Shermer?

    Mr. Myers, by any rational judgment, was irresponsible–not because he posted the information–but because he didn’t vet it properly (or, at all)

    And yet, here you are, irresponsibly making an allegation that PZ Myers did not vet the information at all – an irresponsibly-nasty allegation for which you cannot possibly have any evidence, an allegation which you yourself vetted not at all. You’re not so special, Mark. You’re just another filthy hypocrite who can’t behave morally yourself in your hurry to heap scorn on someone else.

    … also for making the obvious judgment that Mr. Shermer is guilty. He not only provides the information without question, he also vouches for the accuser with the clear intent of persuading the reader of Shermer’s guilt.

    And to top off your pile of immorality, you tell a lie about PZ Myers “judging Shermer guilty”. That is clearly contradicted by what PZ wrote. So at best you’re duped by what you read (or misread) from your dudebro sources, at worst you’re a deliberate liar for no reason.

  284. hotshoe, now with more boltcutters says

    Hey, in wonderful news bound to make psuedoskeptics’ heads explode (hiya, Mark R and Patricia):
    San Diego’s Bob Filner has resigned. The news reports that he took his belongings out of his office Wed and submitted his letter of resignation.

    What I want to know is why aren’t the *call police*man’s reputation*justice* brigade frothing about the Filner case. None of the supposed assaults were reported to the police! None of the so-called victims did their duty to report! None of them have given sworn testimony in a courtroon! Why should we believe them without proof? How dare the media have publicized the unverified claims of those women! They should be shamed for not vetting those stories well enough! How do we know they vetted the stories at all? Why should we even believe those women exist? Or if they do exist, what if they’re just trying to get revenge on Filmer? Is it likely Filmer would be such an ass; isn’t it far more likely that the whole thing was made up by someone who was trying to “make life miserable for” Filner?

    Patricia, I’m looking at you … Mark R, I’m looking at you … All the rest of you pseudoskeptic assholes, I’m looking at you …

    Why the fuck aren’t you on the San Diego media screaming holy hell about how they hounded an innocent man out of office without trial, without even any evidence? Why the fuck aren’t you down there accusing them of being immoral for ruining a good man’s reputation?

    But in fact you aren’t screaming about injustice in San Diego because you do accept the word of those women. You do know that a trial is irrelevant, that their personal testimony is evidence, and that the most probable hypothesis is Filner did what they say he did.

    Why do you accept the unsupported word of those women who say Filner assaulted them, but not the word of the women who say Shermer assaulted them? Why?

    No, I don’t need to ask why. I already know the answer: because you’re irrational pseudoskeptics. You can easily believe that a creepy politician like Filner assaults women and gets away with it for years. But you can’t believe that about your handsome little hero Shermer. And that shows you to be irrational. You have no rationality, no logic, no likely probabilities; you have nothing but spite and hypocrisy.

  285. says

    Patricia:
    You must be rich. That mind reading power you have is cool.
    Can you guess what I am thinking now?

    I will save you the trouble: you, like far too many commenters here are a rape culture apologist who denies a woman’s testimony and would rather side with a Skeevy Creep (at best) and/or rapist (no, I do not know for certain, but I believe Jane Doe). You are a blight on skepticism, atheism, humanism and, in fact–humanity. As are the slew of slime covered apologist douchecannons infesting this thread.

    Thanks to Jason, hotshoe, carlie, Tom Foss, Raging Bee and all the others refuting the bile here. I do not have the energy or time to do this again (heck, it runs almost concurrent with some of PZs posts which continue to act as Slymepit Krisis Klarion Kalls)

  286. evilreligion says

    Dave W @ 315
    So you’re equating rape claims with god claims. Unfortunately, we have tons of evidence for the former.”

    Please read my post. Particularly the bit where I address this exact point.

  287. says

    Pudendom:
    Uh, excuse me?
    What thoughtful post by Milo?
    I saw nothing more than the same old same old bullshit: why victim not go to police (they are no.help most of the time, duh!), why you believe victim claim (bc it is highly likely given how often rape happens that she is telling the truth), you no do skepticism right (no, we are not doing your pseudoskepticism, which only ever goes to these extremes in cases of sexual harassment or assault claims), and the tired old cliche “I am going to talk about shit I know nothing about, and I refuse to do any research into the matter, which includes links all over this thread”. That passes for “thoughtful” on Earth 2 perhaps. Not here you Smugnoramus.

  288. evilreligion says

    hotshoe, now with more boltcutters @ 323
    What I want to know is why aren’t the *call police*man’s reputation*justice* brigade frothing about the Filner case

    Lets see:

    – Filner was not accused of rape so it was a lesser claim and one that is not a criminal rather a civil matter.
    – The women accused started legal action on the civil matter so presumably had their cases vetted by a lawyer. (not by any means cast iron verification but at least there was some vetting would have been done)
    – The women actually came forward rather than having some bloke on then internet make their claims for them.
    – Oh one more small minor point, Filner admited his guilt apologised.

    So basically the two cases are completely and utterly different.

  289. evilreligion says

    Tony! The Immorally Inferior Queer Shoop! 327
    This is not a court of law. Jane Doe does not have a burden of proof.
    errr no anyone who makes a claim has the burden of proof. This is simply the rules of rational discussion I’m afraid. It is irrelevant whether this is the court of law. Someone who claims God exists needs to prove that, they can’t say “oh well this isn’t a court of law therefore I have no burden of proof”

    But hey, your anti-woman bias is showing (you do not believe an unnamed woman who makes a rape claim).
    I have no opinion on the matter as no evidence has been presented. I don’t know the women, I don’t know PZ Myers and I don’t know Shermer. Neither was I there or know anyone who was there. Thus I have no opinion on the matter. The words posted on the interweb by PZ Myers reporting second has these serious allegations are simply not sufficient to cause me to have an opinion either way.

    As for being anti-woman. Really? Please provide your evidence to back up this claim. You can’t just accused people of “being a witch” because they happen to disagree with you on something. This thread is peppered with accusations of people being “rape appologists” “victim blamers” “anti-women” to anyone who dares disagree or call into question the “Orthodox” position. I suggest you reflect on that and on whether these are the actions of free thinkers and sceptics.

    We thank you for the uneducated input.
    hmmm

  290. Mark R says

    Hotshoe, calm down. Its going to be okay. This is a blog. You’re in a safe place. Feel better now? The histrionics were starting to worry me. That’s right… breathe in…. deep breaths…that’s good.

    “Yet another dude who is too stupid to understand that this is not a trial and that we are not a jury who has to decide beyond a reasonable doubt that Shermer was guilty of a specific crime and therefore must be deprived of his liberty by the power of the state.”
    You’re right, Hotshoe. Unfortunately, I think you were so overwrought by my post that you don’t seem to get my point. That was an illustration to show that rape isn’t always a black or white thing. I complimented Jason on pointing out the nuances in human interaction and pointed out that even rape can sometimes be a difficult thing to determine. For example, at what point is a drunk woman too drunk to consent? And was this particular woman drunk to that level? If so, how do we know that to be true? These are objective questions that have to be asked. Apparently, when you suspend reason to make arguments at all costs, you lose sight of that fact.

    “Good, you agree with the moral people who refuse to put Shermer’s reputation before actual harm to living beings.”
    Yes I do. I think that if I were in Mr. Myers’ situation I would have had to raise an alert. However, I would have done it much differently. Mr. Myers issued a character assassination. I would have raised a warning.

    “…why the fuck are you not over at Shermer’s place telling HIM to ask himself whether his actions (confirmed by multiple independent sources, by the way) of deliberately getting women drunk will cause unnecessary harm? “
    As to the multiple independent sources, again you’re losing sight of pertinent information. So far I’ve seen two rape allegations against Mr. Shermer, one by an anonymous and therefore somewhat dubious woman, and the other from a man. I have reason to doubt both stories. The other stories seem to be that Mr. Shermer is a womanizer and that he tries to ply women with alcohol at social events. This isn’t indicative of anything other than a libido and/or a hungry ego. You’re taking a huge leap from trying to have sex with women to being a serial rapist.

    You’re making the assumption that Mr. Shermer has committed a crime based on two short paragraphs of strangely worded text by an alleged anonymous victim. I’m not telling Mr. Shermer to stop raping women because I have no reason to believe he ever raped anyone. However, if I heard a story like that from a person I knew and respected, I would share the information with the caveat that I would have to ask some pertinent questions and post the answers or lack thereof.

    • How did he coerce you?
    • How is it that you were “unable to consent”?
    • Do you have any witnesses?
    • Were you drugged?
    • Were you drunk?
    • Were you conscious at the time of the attack?
    • If not, how do you know it was Mr. Shermer that attacked you, or that you were attacked at all?
    • Do you remember the attack happening?
    • During the attack did you give verbal consent to have sex?
    • Why did you wait so long to report this if you’re concerned for other women?
    The lack of any of these questions being addressed at all tells me Mr. Myers probably didn’t ask them. It is called “conspicuous omission”. If you have pertinent facts that support your point, you will include them in your argument. You don’t ask a thousand questions and then not publish or refer to them at all. It just doesn’t happen.

    “And yet, here you are, irresponsibly making an allegation that PZ Myers did not vet the information at all – an irresponsibly-nasty allegation for which you cannot possibly have any evidence, an allegation which you yourself vetted not at all. You’re not so special, Mark. You’re just another filthy hypocrite who can’t behave morally yourself in your hurry to heap scorn on someone else.”

    But I have vetted it by reading Mr. Myers’ post. You see, if he had the information, he would have shared it. Isn’t that what bloggers do? They write? And as I said before, any additional information to bolster the claim would most definitely have been shared. It’s the only reasonable conclusion. By the way, if he did ask them, please join me in asking him to publish the answers. Or perhaps he can do a followup post and tell us that he did ask and that she declined to answer all of the questions. I mean, the victim has no way to tell her story. Shouldn’t he be putting out some details?
    And I’m not a filthy hypocrite. I shower twice a week.

    “And to top off your pile of immorality, you tell a lie about PZ Myers “judging Shermer guilty”. That is clearly contradicted by what PZ wrote. So at best you’re duped by what you read (or misread) from your dudebro sources, at worst you’re a deliberate liar for no reason.”
    If you can read Myers’ post and not see the obvious tools he is using to persuade the reader that Michael Shermer is a rapist, then you are either disingenuous or very susceptible to mind control. Mr. Myers refers to the alleged victim as the one who has “no recourse, no way out, no option to help others” in other words, she’s a victim. In the same sentence, he refers to Mr. Shermer as “the powerful big name guy”. He also says in that same sentence that not posting that entry in his blog would “shelter” Mr. Shermer from the accusation. And he further tips his hand when he seems to indicate the only reason not to make the accusation is because he “couldn’t vouch for it personally”. Put it all together and here’s the paraphrase: “Do I speak up and protect the downtrodden victim, or do I protect her bigshot rapist just because I didn’t personally witness the rape?”

    He also brings in an anonymous witness, tries to make her sound believable by telling us that she doesn’t really like him[Myers], so that gives what she says credibility. And then the final entrée: Wine Drinking Woman, again anonymous, who reports essentially that she spent the best part of an evening conversing with Mr. Shermer and getting shitfaced drunk. She doesn’t report Mr. Shermer making a pass at her, touching her inappropriately, following her or pestering her. She voluntarily spent quite some time with him, and voluntarily drank a lot of wine. Oh the humanity!

    Here’s the problem with assuming guilt in these situations. The next one to get accused of rape by an unnamed source with no details and strange syntax could be Mr. Myers. If so, will you apply your same, cool and rational logic to make a determination of his guilt, or will you suspend judgment until sufficient evidence comes in?

  291. Mark R says

    Um Hotshoe, you realize that Filner admitted to inappropriate behavior and actually checked himself into a clinic to get help for it, right? You realize that his accusers actually came forward and gave their identities and details, right? Little details like those seem to matter to most reasonable people.

    You keep using the term “pseudo skeptic”. I think that what you meant to say was “objective”.

    If you were a skeptic, reason would be the cause of your ideology, not subservient to it.

    Jason, you’re confused about the definition of hearsay:

    1. Unverified information heard or received from another; rumor.

    Mr. Myers post was hearsay by definition.

  292. says

    Mark:
    The claim came directly from the victim. Unless you are one who dismisses rape claims (which is an unreasonable position to take given how frequently rape happens).
    Do you people also demand evidence when a friend says their car is was broken into?
    What about when a friend tells you they had great sex last night?

    Why is it only claims of sexual harassment and assault have to meet courtroom level criteria in situations outside a court of law?
    The ‘right to face your accuser’ is in a court of law.
    ‘Innocent til proven guilty’ applies only to a court of law.

    ****
    Evilreligion:
    Nope, she has no burden of proof. Take it to the courtroom.
    Also, I note that you completely dismiss the corroborating stories from other unnamed individuals since PZ posted Jane Doe’s warning to other women.

    As for anti-woman, well you do not believe claims made by a woman. Cuz ‘bitches be lyin’.

  293. Pteryxx says

    The lack of any of these questions being addressed at all tells me Mr. Myers probably didn’t ask them. It is called “conspicuous omission”. If you have pertinent facts that support your point, you will include them in your argument. You don’t ask a thousand questions and then not publish or refer to them at all. It just doesn’t happen.

    Well that’s disingenuous bullshit. Professor Myers isn’t publishing a scientific argument for peer review here. Jane Doe isn’t an “argument” or a “point” to be made; she’s a person who would be subject to harassment, threats, and potential loss of career or home if those “pertinent facts” were made public. She’s already being subjected to shaming and interrogation by proxy, as you’re plainly indulging yourself in with your list of questions.

    I’m sure PZ *has* asked sufficient questions, both specifically of Jane Doe and in generally educating himself, to be confident of going public with her assertions. He’s refusing to endanger his source by carelessly spreading that information for every harasser and hater to find. Not to mention that such details are irrelevant to supporting the assertions. (The corroborating accounts of other individuals, some of which ARE under real names, carry much more weight… which is why you’re being dishonest in framing this as all about *one* lying bitchez.)

    And tangentially, take your faux-sympathy, “histrionics” and “overwrought” and try and get those through academic peer-review. Even journal editors tend to look askance at sexist personal attacks as a way to support supposed arguments.

  294. says

    Couple of corrections on the Filner matter:
    1. Some of his accusers have come forward publicly. This happened only after the accusations were reported by intermediaries to the media, while keeping the victims’ identities anonymous. There’s a notable press conference that has been shown in every news report I’ve seen about the Filner case, where the spokesperson for one of the victims explains what the previously-reported accusations were, and then introduces the person who made those accusations anonymously. Jane Doe may yet come forward at some point, and so might others; doing so will not magically make her story truer than it is now.

    2. Filner is accused of multiple instances of sexual assault, mostly in the form of groping, unwanted touching, and forcible kissing. Sexual assault is not some piddling civil matter.

  295. says

    Mark R, you’re walking a very thin line between discourse and abuse here. Pull another stunt like you did with the “calm down” and “histrionics” and “overwrought” bullshit aimed at Hotshoe, and I’m tossing you in moderation.

    Which means, I only let out comments when I have time to deal with them directly, and I don’t think they’re being abusive to others in this conversation. And lately, my time is in short supply, so I can’t watch my moderation queue all that much. If you want to keep commenting freely here, keep that in mind, please.

  296. Mark R says

    Jason, your selective moderation is almost hilarious. I didn’t realize there was a no mild sarcasm rule in place. Since you seem fine with not commenting on the posts before or after mine where the following was said of me:

    ” you’re irrational pseudoskeptics{…]And that shows you to be irrational. You have no rationality, no logic, no likely probabilities; you have nothing but spite and hypocrisy” @323

    “a filthy hypocrite” and “too stupid to understand” @322

    There are others, but I’m a big boy and, that kind of abuse is unwarranted in this discussion, I do not get offended easily.

    As you know, I’m new here, so forgive me for violating the strictly enforced “no mild sarcasm” rule. From now on I guess I’ll engage in the ridiculous hyperbole that you seem to prefer.

    …unless the rule I broke was actually the “don’t disagree with the party line” rule.

  297. says

    Your “mild sarcasm” is misogynist abuse. You can throw out all the insults you want, as long as they aren’t insulting people for having characteristics you’d like to associate with being a woman.

    Meanwhile, the things you are trying to tu quoque us with are actually absolutely defensible. With one exception, “stupid” is rather ableist and I don’t much like it either.

    Take your damn blinders off.

    The only rule here, or anywhere else, is “don’t piss off the webmaster”. You’re trying to piss off the webmaster right now. Stop it or you get spammed permanently.

  298. Mark R says

    Jason, its unfortunate that we don’t agree that accusing someone who is posting emotion-motivated drivel is adequately described by the term “histrionics”. Its equally unfortunate–and bewildering–that you would find that to be misogynistic.

    I won’t get into an argument with you about all the abuse you’ve allowed to be heaped upon those who disagree with you, because you know that already. Everyone that’s reading this thread knows that. And everyone that has read my prior comments would know that I was polite, avoided personal attacks, and actually sought out areas where I agreed with you and your…um….friends.

    If those facts “piss off the webmaster” then the webmaster may want to consider the maturity and appropriateness of his own actions. See you in Spamville, I guess.

  299. says

    It’s a mistake I’ve made myself in the past, hotshoe; and it’s a mistake I’m sure I’ll make again.

    And it’s not because it’s insulting, it’s because of the splash damage, lest someone think I’m going all civility-troll on anyone here.

  300. hotshoe, now with more boltcutters says

    This particular bit from evilreligion struck me:

    - Oh one more small minor point, Filner admited his guilt apologised.

    So basically the two cases are completely and utterly different.

    Hilarious! I literally laughed out loud.

    So when a man admits* and apologizes to his accusers – remember, these are the women who did not go to the police, remember, the women who did not provide any physical evidence, who did not testify under oath in a court of law, but merely told their personal stories – when a man does not sue them for slander, does not fight them, does not rally his followers for a campaign of harassment against everyone who believes the women and repeats their stories, then his very apology somehow retroactively justifies the original accusers.

    Didn’t go to the police – fine, we won’t scream about *police*justice*innocent until proven guilty* because he apologized. Didn’t provide any evidence whatsoever for the skeptical public to review – fine, we won’t scream about *needing to vet the evidence* because he apologized. Do we know why he admitted he “intimidated” women and apologized? No, of course we don’t. Maybe he’s not guilty at all, confessing to something he didn’t really do, in hopes of quickly putting the whole mess behind him rather than face drawn-out trials (at his age!) even if he was sure he would eventually prevail. But he apologized and that apology proves that we should believe the women!

    So, when (if) Shermer finally apologizes for being a sleazebag predator, then just like Filner’s case, that will suddenly and retroactively justify the original accusers. Right?

    Bullshit that the cases are completely different. There’s no difference in the behavior of the women making the accusations against either, and no difference in the behavior of the persons who believe the women. The only difference is in the behavior of the person who was accused. One tired old politician decided – for whatever reason – that his best chance of coming out intact was to admit to some bad behavior. One handsome young skeptic leader decided – for whatever reason – that his best chance of coming out ahead was to attack.

    And on the basis of that difference in response from the accused, that’s how the pseudoskeptics decide whether or not to believe the women.

    Skepticism, ur doing it wrong.

    .
    .
    .

    *Note: Filner has not to date** admitted to any of the actual accusations and does specifically deny that he has committed “sexual assault” This is his admission:

    “I am embarrassed to admit that I have failed to fully respect the women who work for me and with me, and that at times I have intimidated them.”

    ** His resignation letter is supposed to be considered in a city council meeting today, Friday, and it’s possible that it contains a more-specific admission of guilt, but not likely, since Filner needs to continue maintaining his innocence in the face of upcoming civil suits against him.

  301. says

    Wow, this reminds me of when a creationist writes pages and pages of “I’ll show you why the bible is right about design,” and never ever gets to a point.

    Basically your whole diatribe reduces to : “I really really trust in Myers and believe him to be infallible both in his facts and ethics. And that is enough for me to count as evidence.”

    And in order to escape that statement of faith, or make it less obvious, you try to give your armchair psychologist’s version of society, women, and rape. “Try” being the key word. But your blind faith shows through.

    The rest of us require evidence.

    I guess when you abandoned your old god you just found your new one, P.Z. “Jesus” Myers?

    This whole case has really brought to light that “freethinkers” like you are just refried Christians without the god. The bad thinking is still intact. Bravo.

  302. hotshoe, now with more boltcutters says

    Oh dear. Yet another pseudoskeptic who has zero idea what the word “evidence” actually means.

    Go on, Jeffrey Robinson, explain to us what would be “evidence” in this case. Be specific. Be the first of your many many brethren to be specific.
    What would you have to see/hear in order to be convinced to a reasonable probability that the woman (who asked PZ Myers to help her get the word out warning other possible victims) was indeed telling the truth and should be believed? What?

    Be brave! Be a hero! Show us how skepticism should really be done!

  303. John Morales says

    Jeffrey Robinson:

    Wow, this reminds me of when a creationist writes pages and pages of “I’ll show you why the bible is right about design,” and never ever gets to a point.

    Since it’s nothing like a creationist tract, it is indeed surprising it reminds you of one.

    Basically your whole diatribe reduces to : “I really really trust in Myers and believe him to be infallible both in his facts and ethics. And that is enough for me to count as evidence.”

    You’ve just contradicted your own claim that it never ever gets to a point by producing this purported synopsis.

    And in order to escape that statement of faith, or make it less obvious, you try to give your armchair psychologist’s version of society, women, and rape. “Try” being the key word. But your blind faith shows through.

    That you interpret the explication of his reasoning and its basis as an attempt to either escape or to make his thesis less obvious is indicative of motivated reasoning.

    The rest of us require evidence.

    You’d have it if you hadn’t thrown it away as distracting armchair psychology.

    (You find that common in creationist tracts?)

    I guess when you abandoned your old god you just found your new one, P.Z. “Jesus” Myers?

    What a silly attempt at an insult!

    This whole case has really brought to light that “freethinkers” like you are just refried Christians without the god. The bad thinking is still intact. Bravo.

    So quickly you’ve forgotten your immediately preceding claim! ;)

  304. says

    Jeffrey:
    Try using the definition of freethinker that states “one who uses science, logic, and/or reason to reach an opinion” rather than the one your ilk are fond of “being free to say what you want, wherever you want, to whomever you want, without consideration for others and an expectation that you should not be criticized or censored in any way, and if you are that violates free speech”.
    The former is freethinking. The latter is a real pAYN.

  305. prodegtion says

    Riddle me this, Jason — what if the accusations are false? What would it take to convince you? Or are you as dogmatic as the creationists?

    And incidentally, the accusations are false. The deeper you dig yourself in this hole, the more foolish you will feel when that fact becomes established.

  306. says

    prodegtion: I believe we’ve already covered this a few times, but let’s spell it out. Like with most accusations that make it to court, there are actually three options here: guilty, not guilty, and innocent. Innocent and not guilty are not the same thing. Courts of law require a guilty verdict to sanction a person — e.g. throw them in jail. I don’t know that there is enough evidence here or available to anyone in the blogosphere to suggest that Shermer’s definitely guilty, but I strongly suspect that, with the evidence we DO have (e.g. multiple witnesses for certain events, a well-established and well-known pattern of behaviour, multiple accusers) that the best you could get is “not guilty” especially since courts in North America don’t render “innocent” verdicts.

    Which is what you’re pleading — that the accusations “are false”. So, what do you have to prove that? What counter-evidence do you have? An established alibi? Witnesses whose stories differ from the ones that apparently already testified before a judge, e.g. DJ Grothe? Witnesses whose stories indicate that these assault victims went to the hotel rooms of someone OTHER THAN Shermer? What do you actually have to offer other than your faith that the accusations are false? Please, do enlighten us. Because anything I’ve just said could help convince me that they’re false.

    And to flip the question: what would convince you that they’re TRUE? Or will NOTHING convince you? You’ve been fighting this fight for fucking months and no amount of rational reasoning will bring you around to the thought that there’s even the merest inkling of a possibility that he’s done anything untoward, and that’s why you’re in permanent moderation — because you are evidently as dogmatic as the creationists.

    Please, prove me wrong.

  307. prodegtion says

    What would convince me that they’re true is SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE. In this case, some record of the rape would suffice, like video or probably audio.

  308. Smaug the Desolator says

    The thing which angers me (besides Shermer raping women) is that the rape apologists are concerned with Shermer’s reputation but couldn’t care less about potential or real rape victims.

    Why are they rape apologists if they care about Shermer? There is more than a his reputation at stake here. His entire livelihood is at stake.

    The whole point of PZ’s post is not to defame Shermer but to warn women about him. The dudebros scream about lynch mobs and witch hunts and “innocent until proven guilty” but say nothing about his victims other than to doubt their stories (or in one case even their existence). Hyperskepticism is alive and well in the skeptical world.

    I understand, but is this truly the way to go about this? There has to be a better way to offer both sides a fair means of defending themselves. We are forked by two horrible alternatives, either warning the women (which could be extremely serious if he is indeed a rapist) or destroying a man without even giving him an opportunity to defend himself.

    You must not forget that there are two camps, the man and the women. I cannot believe the number of times I got called a rape apologist and a dudebro on here when I said people should have a fair chance to defend themselves, including Shermer. Now, when I brought this up, the constant retort would be “but this isn’t a court”, however, they were more than happy to act on behalf of the court by saying Shermer is definitely a rapist.

    There is seriously a lack of cohesion in those statements. “This is not a court, but he is definitely 100% a rapist” and the man hasn’t even had an opportunity to defend himself. Now, this doesn’t mean I am doubting the claims, it’s just that everyone should be entitled to a fair trial.

    I say all this because I truly know what it’s like to be accused of being a rapist. Just like Jason, I was an extremely isolated individual (although they were due to my own issues than a lack of interest of boys my age). I was extremely socially awkward and rarely spoke to anyone. In my village in India, I was singled out by a girl whom I went to school with. She wanted to extort money from my family by pretending I had raped her. Before long the village had gotten wind of what had happened and it turned into a mob. I was beaten badly and so was my father and they had has pay them or they would go to the police. As she was a daughter of Swami, who is a priest, the police would have definitely had me thrown in jail. This is how Swamis have a monopoly of extortion in India as they possess power in Indian society.

    Anyway, many apologies if my english isn’t perfect. Have a nice day and I look forward to your reply.

  309. says

    Find me someone who said “definitely” as opposed to, at absolute worst, “probably”, and we can talk, Smaug. Since nobody here has argued that he’s definitely guilty (least of all me), I think you’re well off base with that post.

  310. Smaug the Desolator says

    I think you’ve misunderstood me, Jason. I didn’t mean to accuse you or any other blogger here of calling Shermer a definite rapist. I was referring to the comments left by people who frequent this site. For example ‘Nerdy Redhead: Dances on trolls’ left numerous comments on Proff. Myers article saying that Shermer was definitely a rapist. You can view her comments yourself. When I suggested that he should be entitled to a fair trial regarding her accusations, she called me a misogynist, rape-apologist, dudebro. I simply do not understand this; to ask for a fair trial is not to dismiss the evidence of the victims. There were a number of other people who eventually joined in on this.

    I also have a few questions regarding alcohol and rape, if you wouldn’t mind helping with those questions.

    kind regards,
    Smaug

  311. John Morales says

    [meta]

    Smaug, you’re clearly stirring the pot, rather than causing desolation.

    (BTW, there is no “she” called ‘Nerdy Redhead: Dances on trolls’, nor is this site Pharyngula — the only two purported claims of fact in your comment are erroneous!)

  312. Smaug the Desolator says

    @John Morales, sorry again for any confusion. I went to Proff. Myers article and found a comment left to someone by the Redhead.

    Comment 3384 – ‘Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls’

    “[...] More bullshit from an obtuse liar and bullshitter. This isn’t a legal matter. It is warning women about the predatory actions of a KNOWN RAPIST [...]”

    If this isn’t saying someone is a definite rapist, I don’t know what is.

  313. says

    Smaug @356: All those ellipses, and not so much as a link back to the original source. Here’s the link for those interested, complete with actual context.

    I don’t think you know what “saying someone is a definite rapist” is. Nerd, in this case, is contrasting the hyper-legalistic framework that you and others bring up (seemingly only) around the subject of rape accusations, with the framework that the rest of us are working with, namely that we believe the accusations. If you believe Jane Doe’s accusation that Shermer raped her, then it stands that her position is one of knowledge. If other people who believe Jane Doe’s accusations are working from her knowledge that Shermer is, in fact, a rapist, in order to warn others about his history, then they are indeed “warning women about the predatory actions of a known rapist.”

    It’s not saying “I know with absolute certainty that Shermer is a rapist,” it’s “I believe (based on the evidence) the accusations against Shermer.”

    You go on and on about how Shermer “hasn’t even had an opportunity to defend himself.” Really? Has he been locked up? Have his speaking engagements been pulled away from him? Has he lost the ability to write columns for Skeptic and other magazines, or posts for SkepticBlog? Has he been denied legal counsel? Last anyone has heard, Shermer was filing a libel suit against PZ. That is the very definition of “defend[ing] himself” in this context–specifically, in a context where no charges have been or are likely to be filed against him.”

    You worry about the effect this might have on his career. Worry not! Thanks to rape culture, most rapists can go on to have perfectly fruitful lives and careers, since only about 3% of rapists spend a single day in prison, and most are never even reported. Even when there’s tons of documented evidence, we know that towns, authorities, and news media will rally around the rapists to denigrate and dismiss the victim and to cover up the crime. Similarly, Shermer’s proxy defenders have been out in force, smearing the messenger with false allegations, and making fun of the victim, in some of the more high-profile examples.

    You say commenters who believe the allegations against Shermer are “act[ing] on behalf of a court” and that “everyone deserves a fair trial.” Unfortunately, not everyone gets a fair trial, especially women who are coerced into sex by rich men using the most common date rape drug. Moreover, I don’t think you understand what courts actually do. They are not arbiters of truth–if they were, there would be no such thing as “excluded evidence,” and they certainly wouldn’t rest their decisions on the shoulders of twelve laypeople–but arbiters of whether or not the evidence in a case is sufficient enough to warrant punishment under the law through the removal of certain otherwise-inalienable rights, such as liberty and property. The commenters who believe the allegations against Shermer have not imprisoned him, have not removed his ability to vote, have not restricted where he may obtain housing or what jobs he may have. They have not charged him a fine, they have not forced him to do community service, they have not done any of the things which a court is empowered to do as punishment, and indeed, they could not.

    What they have done is said that the evidence for the allegations against Shermer is sufficient enough to meet their personal standards regarding what merits belief. They may take actions based on this belief within their ability to do so, in ways that are quite dissimilar to what courts are able to do (e.g., warning others about his history). Shermer’s defenders possess the same freedom and believe for the same reason–that is, the evidence for the allegations against Shermer are not sufficient enough to overturn their belief that Shermer’s a great dude.

    We do not base our beliefs on court decisions, and in many cases, I imagine most of us believe things even about criminal cases which are at odds with court decisions. I believe OJ Simpson killed Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, despite the court finding him not guilty. I believe George Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin, despite the court finding him not guilty. I believe George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are guilty of war crimes, despite their not being indicted in any court. I believe Al Capone was guilty of crimes more serious than tax evasion, despite the fact that he was never convicted for any. Courts are not laboratories, judges are not scientists, and legal decisions are not peer-reviewed papers. They do not determine reality; they determine legality. It’s serious folly to conflate the two.

    Speaking of folly and conflation, prodegtion @351:

    What would convince me that they’re true is SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE. In this case, some record of the rape would suffice, like video or probably audio.

    We’ll set aside what shockingly poor “scientific evidence” video or audio recording would often entail, especially in a matter like a rape investigation. We’ll set aside the excuses/flaws that motivated reasoners find when there is audiovisual evidence–see also 9/11 conspiracy theorists & Kennedy assassination conspiracy theorists, not to mention Bigfoot & ghost skeptics. I’m curious about one point: is that your standard of evidence for all rapes, or just this one? Either answer marks you as a thoroughly terrible human being, prodegtion, but I’d like to know what kind.

  314. Smaug the Desolator says

    @ Tom Foss, thank you for that reply, you’ve cleared up a lot for me.

    I didn’t link the comment because I didn’t know how to, which is why I referenced the comment number and the name of the person.

    I agree with most of what you had to say in your second paragraph, except for the last few lines.

    “[...] in order to warn others about his history, then they are indeed “warning women about the predatory actions of a known rapist.”

    It’s not saying “I know with absolute certainty that Shermer is a rapist,” it’s “I believe (based on the evidence) the accusations against Shermer. [...]”

    If I could use an example to demonstrate what I am saying. When I read about the murder of Travis Alexander by Jodi Arias, I was personally convinced she murdered him. I would have said “I believe based on the evidence that she did murder him”, but I don’t think I would have said she is a known murderer. Do you get what I mean?

    “You go on and on about how Shermer “hasn’t even had an opportunity to defend himself.” Really? Has he been locked up? Shermer was filing a libel suit against PZ”” – Good point, I didn’t see it like this before. I will concede this point and I honestly didn’t know he filed for a libel suit.

    “They are not arbiters of truth–if they were, there would be no such thing as “excluded evidence,” and they certainly wouldn’t rest their decisions on the shoulders of twelve laypeople–but arbiters of whether or not the evidence in a case is sufficient enough to warrant punishment under the law through the removal of certain otherwise-inalienable rights, such as liberty and property.”

    – I whole heartedly agree with on this point. Courts cannot decide the truth because there are many obstacles in the way, such as fourth amendment. However, what other alternative do we have to the courts? How else are we to decide the truth? Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t the court the best means of putting someone on trial? Forgive me for my lack of understanding in this area, but how are we to resolve this problem?

    “We do not base our beliefs on court decisions, and in many cases, I imagine most of us believe things even about criminal cases which are at odds with court decisions.”
    – I am guilty of this as well. And we’ve witnessed numerous times people who are shown to guilty are in fact innocent, and the innocent later shown to be guilty. However, as I’ve asked earlier, is there any possible way this can be improved or give us an alternative to the courts?

    On a side note: I’ve got a few questions about alcohol, consensual sex and rape.

    1) When people say that consent has to be ongoing, does it mean after someone has agreed to sex, during the act of sex people have to give verbal consent every time they engage in a particular activity?

    Let me evoke a scenario. There are two people in a relationship. One goes “let’s have sex” and the other doesn’t give verbal consent but jumps right into it, does it mean he/she was raped?

    2) Second scenario, one partner in a relationship drinks, the other doesn’t. The one who has had a drink suggests to the sober one that they should have sex and he/she goes along with it. Does that mean the sober one has raped the one who has had alcohol? Does it matter how much alcohol has been consumed?

    And again, thank you very much for your detailed response, you’ve explained a lot to me. I would have preferred having things explained to me that being called a rapist, or rape apologist or something nasty of that sort.

    Regards,
    Smaug.

  315. says

    Smaug:

    If I could use an example to demonstrate what I am saying. When I read about the murder of Travis Alexander by Jodi Arias, I was personally convinced she murdered him. I would have said “I believe based on the evidence that she did murder him”, but I don’t think I would have said she is a known murderer. Do you get what I mean?

    I don’t think the analogy works, because by definition the victim of a murderer can’t speak out about their experience. There’s a categorical difference between rape victims and murder victims, in that regard. If you believe the account of Jane Doe regarding Shermer, then she likely knows what happened to her and who did it, which would indeed make Shermer a “known rapist.”

    Regardless, as skeptics/atheists we should be aware that “knowledge” does not indicate 100% certainty. I know that the Higgs Boson exists, for instance, because I believe the experts who say it’s been found. If they came out with a report tomorrow that said it turned out to be some other particle that was discovered which doesn’t fit the standard predictions of the Higgs, then my knowledge would have been wrong, and I’d correct it. Too often, people dropping into this conversation slip into that “knowledge means absolute certainty” canard that the religious frequently employ.

    That said, I would tend to hedge my language more than Nerd did…but Nerd was also noticably frustrated having to make the same point that had been hammered multiple times over three thousand comments. It’s no wonder that there might be some linguistic shortcuts–and some shortened tempers–at that point.

    However, what other alternative do we have to the courts? How else are we to decide the truth? Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t the court the best means of putting someone on trial? Forgive me for my lack of understanding in this area, but how are we to resolve this problem?

    The courts are the best means of putting someone on trial for the purpose of determining whether or not evidence is sufficient to warrant their punishment under the law. The courts are not the best means for determining the truth of a claim; for that, we employ the basic methods of science, reasoning, and critical thinking. Again, this shows a lack of understanding of what criminal courts are for, which is determining whether or not to punish a person for the commission of a crime.

    No one here is pressing criminal charges against Shermer. He has not been indicted and is unlikely to be. What’s happening is that people are determining whether or not they believe the claim that Shermer raped Jane Doe. We all have different standards for what constitutes sufficient evidence to warrant belief in this claim, with some treating it like an extraordinary claim on the order of the existence of God, and others recognizing the sad truth that rape is ridiculously ordinary. Whichever side you fall on is likely to have some impact on your actions (beliefs generally inform actions); for my part, I don’t buy Shermer’s books anymore (but then, the last one I bought was “How We Believe,” so not much lost there) and won’t see him speak or recommend him to others (again, since I’d never actually seen him speak, he doesn’t exactly lose much there either). His defenders set up and donated to a defense fund for him, and that’s their right, even if there’s no legal threat to defend against. Once again, nothing in this even approaches the kinds of sanctions that a court would hand down.

    However, as I’ve asked earlier, is there any possible way this can be improved or give us an alternative to the courts?

    The courts are intentionally slanted so that the prosecution has the greatest burden of proof, regardless of what the truth actually is (because it’s better to let a guilty person go free than to punish an innocent person for that crime). The culture is slanted so that certain crimes are harder to prosecute than others, and so that certain defendants are more likely to be arrested, tried, found guilty, and given harsh sentences, than others. It is not a perfect system, and given how human brains work, I doubt that there can be a perfect system if people are involved. But aside from cultural changes that are happening and should happen, the court system is set up in a way that would do its job well. The problem is that people confuse the job of courts (determining whether or not the evidence is sufficient to punish a person for a crime) with the job of science (determining whether or not a claim about reality is true). There are times when those dovetail, or when one leads to the other, but they are neither the same task nor the same goal.

    1) When people say that consent has to be ongoing, does it mean after someone has agreed to sex, during the act of sex people have to give verbal consent every time they engage in a particular activity?

    “Verbal consent” is kind of a red herring. The goal is enthusiastic consent, which can be indicated with words (that is, verbally) or with other cues. If someone is taking your hand/mouth/genitals and moving it to a particular area, you don’t necessarily need explicit verbal consent to tell you what they want.

    That said, each party should be looking for signs of consent throughout, especially when things change, asking/saying something if there’s confusion, and aware that consent can be revoked at any time. Seriously, it’s not hard to say “can I?” or “do you mind if I?” in the middle of the act.

    The one who has had a drink suggests to the sober one that they should have sex and he/she goes along with it. Does that mean the sober one has raped the one who has had alcohol?

    For most people, there is a difference between “having a drink” and “being drunk.”

    Does it matter how much alcohol has been consumed?

    Yes. If someone has consumed enough alcohol that they are not capable of giving consent, then they aren’t capable of giving consent. A partner, especially a sober partner, should be aware of this. More importantly, a sober partner should be concerned about this, and should want not to take advantage of a partner who was not in their right mind.

    Here’s a general rule: when in doubt, err on the side of not raping. If you think your partner might be too tipsy to properly consent, say “hey, ask me again in a couple of hours if you still feel up to it” or “maybe we should just cuddle and watch a movie for now” or “let’s try in the morning.” You do not have to take every opportunity for sex that lands in your lap, so to speak.

    I’ve been patient because it allows me to avoid other things I should be doing instead, but I understand why people–especially people who’ve been disingenuously asked these same questions and posed these same hypotheticals–might be short or insulting with you, Smaug. For a lot of people–1 in 6 women, 1 in 33 men–these aren’t hypothetical situations, and these questions about what the exact boundaries are read often like someone trying to learn where a hard, fast line exists that they can walk right up to in their behavior and feel justified. There aren’t many hard, fast lines, and different people have different boundaries. Those are things you should work out before you get into bed (or the backseat, or the bathroom stall, or whatever) with someone. Moreover, these are questions whose answers are not hard to find (The first three links in a Google search for “enthusiastic consent”: 1, 2, 3), and expecting someone else to take the time to answer your questions when you’ve never taken any time to research them, is pretty entitled and often a derailing tactic.

    I appreciate your willingness to learn and change your mind on these issues. I encourage you to read up on the literature about consent, specifically enthusiastic consent, and about the boundaries of rape. The information’s right there at your fingertips.

  316. Smaug the Desolator says

    Tom, cheers again for your reply. I do get more or less what you’re telling me, and I’ll certainly do some reading on courts and such as there are still many questions that are unanswered. Is it possible you can give me some sort of medium for me to ask you any questions in the future regarding this issue, without spamming Jason’s comment section up?

  317. says

    There’s no need to ask me questions, Smaug. I’m just a guy who’s read a bit about this subject online. You can also be a guy who’s read a bit about this subject online, by reading about this subject online. RAINN.org has good basic statistical info, and there’s the Feminism 101 blog that’ll have info about enthusiastic consent and rape culture. Otherwise, the links I gave, and searching phrases like “rape culture” and “enthusiastic consent” on the Google, will provide you all the info you need.

  318. Smaug the Desolator says

    Tom – Alright, but I wasn’t referring to rape culture or consent, I was referring to the issue on courts. Those issues require discussion, such as if we were indeed after the truth, can there be a universal standard for the evidence required. If not, the truth of the claim would be subjective depending on how much evidence it requires to convince someone; just as you pointed out that some treat it like an extraordinary claim such as god, and others to a lesser extent.

    I really genuinely want to get to the bottom of this and so far you’ve been the only willing one. If this is too much of a bother I understand.

  319. says

    Fascinating take, Eric. Nobody ever suggested they were trying to take him to court or put him in jail, so the accusations stand as-is. Meanwhile, still no promised defamation lawsuit? That’s equally interesting, in my mind.

  320. says

    @Smaug:

    I really genuinely want to get to the bottom of this and so far you’ve been the only willing one. If this is too much of a bother I understand.

    Not a bother, really, just that I’m even more of a layperson when it comes to court matters than I am when it comes to social justice issues. My perspective is that of someone who’s interested in legal issues but trained in scientific ones, and I’m generally convinced that science (broadly defined) is the only reliable method we have for answering questions about reality. But science (and evidence, more broadly) forms only part of a legal case, because there are other concerns involved as well–and because the legal system doesn’t have indefinite amounts of time to conduct investigations and correct erroneous conclusions in the way that science does.

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