Secular Woman creates travel grant program to Skepticon 5!

This is wonderful news. From a press release I received from


For more information, please contact:

Brandi Braschler, VP of Programs: 404.669.6727, [email protected]

Kim Rippere, President: 404.669.6727, [email protected]

Atlanta, Georgia – July 12, 2012- On the eve of its two-week birthday, Secular Woman announced its first major conference travel grant initiative, pledging to help send at least 10 women to Skepticon 5 in Springfield, Missouri this November. Kim Rippere, president of the new national organization serving non-religious women, said, “Skepticon is a natural partner for Secular Woman’s first disbursement of travel grants. We’ll be able to help more women atheists and skeptics experience a major secular event, thanks to Skepticon’s free registration and its track record of high attendance and engaging speakers.”

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The numbers don’t lie: as many long guns in Toronto as in rural areas

The impending destruction of the long gun registry has been touted by conservatives (and most especially conserva-bot sockpuppets) as being primarily intended as a sop to the rural voters who are “disproportionately affected” by the long gun registry is another demonstrable falsehood. As it turns out, there are 287,000 long guns in the Greater Toronto Area whose registration information will be bonfired when the Conservatives’ plan is carried out.

Most of the “nonrestricted” firearms registered within the GTA are in the possession of individuals — 263,000 guns — while a smaller number (nearly 24,000) are held by businesses (not including police agencies) or museums.

There are tens of thousands of urbanites — more than 85,000 — legally licensed to possess a gun in Toronto, a number that may include some police officers who possess personal firearms.

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Abortions happen most frequently (and most unsafely) in countries where it’s illegal

Via USA Today (via the Associated Press), The Lancet just published a study finding very high correlation between abortions and laws restricting same. Seems the more Draconian your anti-woman laws are, the higher the abortion rates, and the more likely that the abortions will be unsafe.

About 47,000 women died from unsafe abortions in 2008, and another 8.5 million women had serious medical complications. Almost all unsafe abortions were in developing countries, where family planning and contraceptive programs have mostly levelled off.

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“I’m tired of being a ‘Woman in Games’.”

Oh, look! The skeptic blogosphere ain’t the only place where being a woman is in and of itself a novelty! Leigh Alexander at Kotaku discusses how she’s treated as a gaming journalist, by virtue of her sex:

It’s just that I’m shocked that grade-school concepts like “diversity is constructive” and “treat human beings equitably” are concepts that somehow still need championing, still need arguing for. I mean, really? I have to explain many times that the convergence of varied perspectives makes creating things-–like video games-–more fruitful? Or more simply: You think boys’ clubs are better than spaces where everyone gets equal respect regardless of their gender? What’re you, five?

Now why does THAT sound familiar?
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Gender studies homework: NVAWS and “think of the men!”

DavidByron, antifeminist troll extraordinaire, in a moderated comment on this post has described the National Violence Against Women Survey as an “own goal against feminists” by virtue of its defining rape in terms of actions, not in terms of the perceived transgression. The reasoning behind doing the survey this way is that people are less likely to report such transgressions if they’re unaware that lines have been crossed or that merely lacking consent or having been coerced into consent actually counts as rape.
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The Problem with Privilege (or: Predatory Behaviour)

Post 9 in an ongoing series. See the Master Post for previous entries in The Problem with Privilege.

From Buy one today! (If you're privileged.)

In the last post in this series, comments diverged from the topic of overzealous application of skepticism to the idea of whether it’s right and rational for women to assume that all men are potential rapists. I made the following analogy, as regarding a comparison to assuming all Muslims are terrorists:

I also suspect you’re suggesting that there is a visual difference between Arabs and Caucasians, but you substituted “Muslim” for it. Muslims don’t necessarily have to look like brown people in turbans, you realize.

And as for assuming all of them are terrorists, there are just as many non-Muslim terrorists in recent history to suggest that what you mean is that you’re justified in thinking that anyone who is overzealous about some particular dogma is a potential terrorist. Meaning animal rights activists, Christians, men’s rights activists, anti-abortionists, et cetera. The problem with that is, you can’t visually distinguish that someone is an adherent to a dogma unless they do something to self-identify, like wearing some distinctive symbol. And even then, your fear responses shouldn’t automatically trigger or you get incidents like where clerics are arrested for praying in an airport.

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RCimT: Science roundup 10/05/2011

Another bunch of science links from the last two weeks to get your brain meats working. Which is the coolest? Which is the most promising? Which makes you violate Occam’s Razor to explain? Which sets your skeptic-sense tingling? Which should, conceivably, convert me to your specific religion?

There are no right or wrong answers. Well, there are stupid answers, of course. Which I wholeheartedly encourage!
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The Problem with Privilege (or: Evidential Skepticism)

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these posts, so to catch you all up, here are my prior entries in the series.

From Buy one today! (If you're privileged.)

The Problem with Privilege (or: you got sexism in my skepticism!)
The Problem with Privilege (or: no, you’re not a racist misogynist ass, calm down)
The Problem with Privilege (or: missing the point, sometimes spectacularly)
The Problem with Privilege (or: after this, can we get back to the actual issues?)
The Problem with Privilege: Manifesto for Change
The Problem with Privilege (or: cheap shots, epithets and baseless accusations for everyone!)
The Problem with Privilege: some correct assertions, with caveats

It appears that many of the bloggers now on FtB, once from various corners of the intertubes, are embroiled once again in the total catastrophic meltdown of reason that is discussing the nexus of sexism and skepticism.

The focus this time? The same as every other time — how Rebecca Watson can’t be trusted at her word, and how one must be skeptical — SKEPTICAL, I SAY — of anything she says because she’s making the obviously extraordinary claim that someone asserted his privilege to flirt over her request to not be treated that way. I mean, who’s going to believe THAT tall tale, right?

Stephanie Zvan challenges the Elevator Guy Apologists to try assuming Watson isn’t lying, and see what you think about EG’s actions thereafter. A number of folks dance around the challenge but ultimately refuse to participate. Some idiots took the opportunity over at Xblog to turn a post promoting Dawkins’ new book Magic of Reality into another thread about how poorly we’ve been treating Dawkins over his dismissive and sneering post regarding Rebecca Watson. And Ophelia Benson posted an evisceration of the meme that a man “cannot know” that a woman is interested until he cold-propositions her as a perfect stranger in an elevator at 4am.

What do these threads have in common in what’s driving their commentariat? Well, aside from having two trolls (Justicar and DavidByron, both making flat unevidenced assertions and ignoring all counterpoints to their chosen points of view) in common, the posts’ comments also run the gamut of questioning every aspect of Rebecca Watson’s story and present every conceivable method of character assassination of Rebecca Watson herself.

But isn’t that how skepticism works?

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The Problem with Privilege: some correct assertions, with caveats

I really want to get on with other things. Seriously, I do. Which is why I want to cede a bit of ground — or at least it might seem that way to the casual observer, given all the things I’m about to agree to. It would pay dividends in furthering the conversation if you do your best not to skim before replying.

There are a number of arguments in this whole privilege debacle surrounding the so-called Elevatorgate (a timeline, for you newbies) that, while not actually rebutting the issues in question, are in themselves valid and correct. Here’s a few of them, and why they don’t address the problem at hand.
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